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Thoughts on Video Game Difficulty

Playing games is something that I like to do to relax in the evenings. While there are games that I enjoy being challenged in and overcoming the challenge, as I get older I find myself wanting something a bit different out of games when I’m trying to relax. I get a healthy amount of stress from other areas of my life, so I’ve been turning the game difficulty down.

There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment that happens when you beat a difficult game or get through a difficult section. But, when I’m relaxing in the evening, that’s generally not the sort of thing I’m looking for. I enjoy playing through long story-driven games and I want to enjoy them similarly to the way that I enjoy a TV show or movie.

That’s not to say I never want a challenge. In education, there’s a concept called the Zone of Proximal Development. That’s where the educational content is just challenging enough that students can do it, but they have to develop their knowledge in order to do it. That certainly translates over to games as well. When I’m playing Beat Saber I play on Hard because that’s difficult enough that I have to work, but I can keep moving my whole body enough to get exercise out of it. Going easier is boring, but going to expert difficulty makes me just flick my wrists to hit the boxes and I don’t get as much exercise.

Other times when I want more challenge is if I’m playing online either against other people or cooperatively with people.

Steve's Life Video Games • January 25, 2022

The Pedestrian

I found myself with some free time this weekend due to everyone else being out of the house for a large chunk of Saturday. I had heard some good things about The Pedestrian, and since it just came out on Gamepass, I figured I’d give it a go.

On the surface, it’s a pretty normal 2D platforming puzzle game. However, it quickly adds complexity as it adds new functions to the puzzles. The gist of the game is that you are playing a character on signs, and you travel from sign to sign. After a bit, you’re re-arranging signs in order to play through the pieces of the level in the right order to get what you need.

The game originally came out on Play Station about a year ago. It came out on PC and Xbox on January 3rd and hit Gamepass on that same day. The game is fantastic, I ended up playing it the rest of the way through on Sunday. If you haven’t played it, then it’s worth checking out, and if you have Gamepass, then it’s a no-brainer.

Video Games • January 18, 2022

The Birdle is the Wordle

You’ve probably seen posts similar to the one above on your social media in the past week or so. This is a game that’s gained popularity quickly in the last couple of weeks called Wordle. Each day is a unique puzzle where you have to guess a word. The colored blocks tell you if the letters in the word you guessed are right. If they’re yellow, they’re in the word somewhere, if they’re green, they’re in the right spot. You have 6 total tries to get it right.

What I find super interesting about this game is that there are 3 things that really work towards its current popularity. The first is that there is only 1 puzzle a day creating a feeling of artificial scarcity and making it like a quick snack that you can enjoy and get back to your day. The second thing is that everyone in the world is doing the same puzzle for the day. The third is that it’s really easy to share your results so that everyone who plays can know how you did. So you can see above that today I got the word right after 6 guesses.

Cool Stuff Video Games • January 13, 2022

Who wants to be a Space Rebel

I’m a subscriber to Microsoft Gamepass. For those who don’t know, it can easily be described as Netflix for Games. One of the things I enjoy about it is playing small games that can be finished relatively quickly.

Unpacking” and “The Artful Escape” are two great examples. They both could be finished within a couple of hours, and there was no price barrier to entry for me due to them being on Gamepass. Both games also had quite a bit of conversation happening online about them.

I keep coming back to a bit longer game, but still very indie, and that’s Next Space Rebels. In this game, you build rockets, then record videos of them and upload those videos to “Star Tube” So, it’s a bit of a physics simulator with the rockets, but there’s also a whole nother piece of the game where you’re managing your online presence. If you are a fan of Kerbal Space Program, then it’s definitely worth checking out.

There’s also a non-zero chance that I’ll be getting a model rocket kit to launch with the kids this spring because of this game.

Video Games • January 11, 2022

State of VR

This last week, Sony revealed the specs for the PlayStation VR2, the follow-up to their previous headset. I thought this would be a good time to look at the various Virtual Reality options and what’s available.

I currently have an Oculus Rift S. It’s the most recent product in the Rift family and it’s discontinued. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Meta (Facebook) has dropped the Rift family in favor of the Quest. The Quest 2 is their current device, and it sold really well over the holidays. It originally came out in October of 2020, so it hasn’t been around that long. I suspect that it sold well over the holidays due to the lack of stock for new PlayStations and Xboxes. Also, I’ve heard that they’re really pushing it via commercials.

What really differentiates the Quest and Quest 2 from other products is that they are standalone. My Rift S along with other headsets like the HTC Vive, and Valve Index require a fairly powerful computer to use them, and PlayStation VR requires a PlayStation. The Quest and Quest 2 can be used with a computer for more demanding games, but they work perfectly well as a stand-alone unit.

Honestly, it’s a pretty good product, the biggest downside of it is that it’s owned by Facebook and is tied to your Facebook account. They’ve said that options will be coming to allow it to be used with an Oculus account that isn’t tied to Facebook. Of course, it’s still a Facebook product and I’m sure that all the privacy concerns are still there.

As an enthusiast, I’m personally intrigued by the PSVR 2. There are a handful of VR games on PlayStation that are not available for me on the PC. Also, it’s not owned by Facebook Meta and looks like it’ll be a fairly comparable product to the Quest 2. Spec wise it’s fairly comparable aside from the fact that it’s not a stand-alone unit.

As for pricing, You can get a Quest 2 for $300. I’m guessing that PS VR2 will also be close to $300. Nothing else comes close to that price. Of course for the PS VR2, you’ll need a $400-$500 PS5 to power it. If you already have that, then the prices are comparable. If you don’t, then that makes the PS VR2 considerably more expensive.

In the end, if you’re asking my advice for a VR headset, I would probably tell you to either get a Quest 2 as long as you don’t mind Facebook Meta being involved. You really can’t beat the price. It’s possible that a higher-end Quest 3 or Quest Pro will be announced soon if you want to wait. If you don’t want Facebook to be involved in your Virtual Reality, then waiting for the PS VR is probably the best option unless you’re willing to fork out a lot more money for a Valve Index ($999) or HTC Vive Pro 2 ($800).

Cool Stuff Video Games • January 10, 2022

A new one for the collection

I picked up the SNES Controller for switch this week. I basically have the same controller for 5 different systems here.

Video Games • March 12, 2020