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Thread: Balancing Backlogs - Currents

  1. #1
    RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff InstaTrent's Avatar
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    Balancing Backlogs - Currents

    In this issue of Currents, Atlus' parent company looks for a buyer, Eidos Montreal loses its GM, the first LGBT video game convention gets a date, and reviews are not objective. Also, is anyone else's backlog currently exploding?

    CURRENTS
    "To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."

  2. #2
    The idea that some people think reviews are objective is baffling. Of course they are subjective, otherwise metacritic/rotten tomatoes/etc wouldn't be necessary as all reviews would be the same. Reviews are about seeing one person's experience. Its about finding a few reviewers who seem to have similar tastes as you do so you can really identify whether the game interests you.

    As for Atlus, I'm not really concerned about them at this point. They'll be fine. A part of me hopes that if anyone buys them up, its Harmonix with their spiffy $229M settlement with Viacom. Shin Megami Rock Band anyone? No?

    I'm not really interested in Eidos Montreal specifically, but the guy leaving really says a LOT about the crap going on at Square Enix. Are they becoming the next EA? I wouldn't might seeing the company split up, mostly because I think the Squaresoft side is really damaging the company as a whole in similar ways to the way they did themselves in the late 90s/early 00s. I do hope Eidos does well, but I won't hold my breath as long as Square Enix continues down the path they've been on.


    • How big are your backlogs?
    • Which backlog titles do you want to beat next?
    • How long have those games been in your backlogs?
    I recently set up a howlongtobeat.com account, and loaded in almost all of the games in my backlog. There is 137 games unplayed, 5 in progress, and 10 that I've put on hold (these are games I need to go back to and wrap up x360 achievements for).

    I generally go about playing 1-2 console games and 1-2 handheld games at any given time. I try to keep a decent rotation on what system I play on, tackling my backlog from several angles. The biggest system of backlog is PC, due to recently getting into gog and a little steam, but not playing games until I rebuild my desktop (and after working at a computer all day, sitting in front of one at home is not appealing).

    I've had games on my backlog for several years, probably the longest one is Breath of Fire 3. I have 3 PSX games on my backlog, but that one I've had the longest (Suikoden 1 & 2 are the others, but only obtained in the last 2 years. BoF3 I've had since the PSX was current). The oldest game on my backlog is from the early 80s. Possibly Ultima 1, Zork 1, or some other very old game.

  3. #3
    BEARSONA Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    I think there should be some objective parts of a review, personally. Whether I personally enjoy a game takes a back seat to "what's the fun factor?" I personally loved Adventures To Go!, but could recognize the repetitive nature killed the fun factor, and rated it accordingly. Then again, that opinion is in the minority and not shared by any current review staff.

    With GamesCom in 3 weeks and PAX Prime immediately after that, I have to wonder about GaymerX's timing.

  4. #4
    Hopefully Atlus will buy themselves out.

    I've been told by a person who worked at Square that it's very difficult for Square USA employees to communicate with HQ. They get the impression Square has no respect for NA devs.

    My backlog is starting to get hairy, but I tend to play my new games straight away and go back later for secrets and stuff, so it's not that bad.
    Last edited by TG Barighm; 07-25-2013 at 03:02 PM.

  5. #5
    chaotic neutral observer ironmage's Avatar
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    I complain about my backlog, but it isn't really all that bad. It's just...everytime I feel like I'm making a dent, a bunch of new games comes out. (Unlike some others here, I can actually list the whole thing without breaking the forum: Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Eternia, Tales of Legendia, Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, Growlanser 3, Persona 4: Arena, Tactics Ogre, and Trails in the Sky.) I don't think anything has been in that list more than two years.

    ---

    A review contains both objective and subjective components, and if the reader is paying attention, and the reviewer is at all good at their job, it isn't that difficult to separate the two. When I read Sam's review of Time and Eternity, two things became apparent: 1. She hated it, and 2. Regardless of her personal opinion, it really wasn't very good.

    I hunted down a positive review, and found that: 1. The reviewer liked it, and 2. There were still some significant problem areas.

    Just like the reviews, my decision not to buy the game has both objective and subjective components: 1. the game evidently has severe technical flaws, and 2. the subject matter is sufficiently distant from my personal tastes that I would not be able to overlook those flaws. (For the record, I do like anime and female protagonists. I don't like exploitative harem anime).

    I agree that it doesn't make sense to criticize a review for being biased; some bias is inherent in the process. A game review usually has an implicit thesis ("this game is good" or "this game is bad"), and the content of a review will naturally tend to support that thesis. The only case where a review has truly "failed", is if the reviewer actively neglects to discuss any significant aspects of the game that run counter to that thesis.


    Nothing is objectively bad or objectively good, and you're dreaming in technicolour of you think otherwise.
    I don't think trollish language has any place in a news article. Keep it professional, please.

    Even works of art have objective qualities, and it is quite possible to separate one's subjective reaction from the evaluation of those qualities. It's easier for me to illustrate this with movies than with games: Citizen Kane is considered one of the best films ever made, and I agree. Technically, it's superb. But, I don't care for it. I just don't find that type of story interesting. The Third Man is objectively brilliant, and better yet, I like that kind of film. On the flipside, Plan 9: From Outer Space is unquestionably bad, but it's still pretty entertaining to watch.

    Occasionally it's hard to tell. Is "Sakura Wars: So Long My Love" any good? I have no idea. I enjoyed it too much to be objective.

    But, Trent, if you're seriously going to claim "Nothing is objectively bad", I invite you to watch "Manos: The Hands of Fate". It doesn't even have value as a cautionary example. I had an attack of hysteria part way through that one.
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  6. #6
    Angel-Possessed Priestess Administrator Strawberry Eggs's Avatar
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    I agree with what others said about a review encompassing both subjective and objective points. A competent reviewer can uses the objective points to back up why s/he has that particular opinion of a game, or use subjective details to describe an objective point. Of course, saying a review cannot be subject is absurd to the highest degree.

    My backlog largely consists of unplayed games, as I tend to play two or three at a time, usually one on a handheld and one on a console. I'm breaking that as I am playing two handhelds (Boktai is on and off as I usually play that in sunlight), and I'm technically playing through two console games, but I haven't touched one (Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers) in months. The backlog titles I want to beat next are Boktai and Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon.
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  7. #7
    Veteran RPGamer watcher's Avatar
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    How big are your backlogs?
    Would you like the answer in stacked height, boxes or total game count? Seriously, you're about 6 years younger than I am so you're probably at the beginning stages of backlog growth. Over the years, you'll find games are more plentiful, can be obtained cheaper on average and you'll have more money to spend on them. You'll then discover you have less time to play them. And especially where RPGs are concerned, you'll find your backlog can grow to hundreds.

    I just started playing TES: Oblivion, for instance. And it's far from the oldest in my backlog.

    You can stick to a single console per generation to help limit your options. Eventually, you just have to give up on the idea of playing them all or delude yourself into thinking you'll get to them in retirement, like I have.

    Edit: I see my backlog was mentioned already.
    Quote Originally Posted by ironmage View Post
    Unlike some others here, I can actually list the whole thing without breaking the forum.
    Last edited by watcher; 07-25-2013 at 11:03 PM.

  8. #8
    Member TheAnimeMan's Avatar
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    You and me both there Watcher
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  9. #9
    Member esuko's Avatar
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    For me the big change came from understanding that some reviewers base the game reviews score too much on what is the objective quality of the game(looking at you Square Enix). After this finding reviewers that had similar understanding of fun and reading their reviews. That helped me to find good games for my backlog, that is huge, to answer the another question. Next I would like to beat Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time from the pile.
    Last edited by esuko; 07-26-2013 at 12:28 AM.

  10. #10
    Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    I'd be careful about saying "Delude yourself into saying you'll play them in retirement." It may not be as big of a delusion as one might think. My father was forced into early retirement and is now reading the library of books he had collected over the years. Four or five years later, and he's nearly done with his collection. Ya just never know! It's been known to happen.

    I feel that the backlog discussion (I hesitate to call it debate) that I see pop up on RPGamer from time to time is incredibly two-dimension and overlooks some of the other ways people look at their collections and reasons for purchasing games. It seems that most believe that gamers are either just buying what they beat as they go along or they are buying way too much stuff under a delusion that they will somehow beat them all. This is short sighted and shoehorns collectors into stereotypes. Boiling down all gamers into these two camps leaves out so many other possibilities and reasons, in between, as to why a gamer may continue to build a collection. I wonder if stamp collectors lied to themselves that the WOULD use ALL of their stamps one day. I jest, of course.

    Personally, I'm a collector. Like a librarian, I enjoy collecting my specialized form of entertainment and having numerous genres and iterations of it (from various parts of history) there at my fingertips. I may not have come close to completing every game I own (just like most librarians have not read most books in their libraries), but I know so many of them because they are my passion. I've spent some time with nearly all of them, and since I talk about games non-stop, I know quite a bit about the few I own that I have not beaten, and even about the ones I own that I have not yet played at all. I'm constantly pruning, adding and evaluating my collection to insure that I have the best, most complete collection by my standards (which is a thread onto itself). That act alone brings me enjoyment, by the way. But there's so much more.

    As a collector, I derive enjoyment just being able to pull some of my favorite ones off of the shelf and loading it up just to remind me how beautiful its graphics are or how original it's gameplay mechanics are to this day. When friends come over, I am filled with pride as I can tell them stories about those personal favorites and some of the more obscure titles in my collections. I ask them questions about what they likes, and I'm able to find several games in my collection that cater to their desires. Because I own so many, I can quickly pull them out several to either play with them on the spot or lend/give to them to enjoy.

    I'm sure that if we were to sit down and really discuss with some of the older gamers about their collections, the stories they could tell us and the motivations as to why those with a vast collection are so large would be much more varied than we give it credit for in these discussions.
    -----

    On the subject of objectivity in reviews....I'm a controller at work. It's my job to be able to objectively evaluate opportunities to save money as well as evaluate financial statements. I deal in facts and figures.

    Keep in mind that just because the vast majority think something is good or bad does not make the statement of such objective, in the least.

    A game review, by far, is subjective. It's a document written with the express purpose is communicating the overall opinion one has of a game. The reviewer can back up his opinion with some fact. However, as we discussed on another thread, video games are a form of art to many. And, whether or not you agree with that, one cannot deny that video games consist of various artistic elements. Visuals, Music and Writing come together with programmed player interaction to create an entertainment experience. While we can certainly make objective statements about the more technical aspects of video games (it is buggy, it has voice acting, etc), by far we are providing a commentary on what is largely an artistic experience.

    It is illogical to expect a commentary on a play, a song, or a painting to be largely substantiated on some guideline of objective measure. To do so with video games is to force a round peg into a square hole. I certainly do expect a basic, objective explanation of the game's genre, mechanics, bugs (and lack thereof). However, bugs aside, most objective facts will not really tell me if a game is good outside of my own subjective preconception regarding those elements. I need the reviewer to share his feelings on the various artistic elements to provide me the full picture. I feel that further conjecture into the topic of 'the subjectivity of reviews' is an objective waste of time

    And I'll tell you what...I can objectively say that the Conan video embedded on the article is objectively funny
    Last edited by jcservant; 07-26-2013 at 02:08 AM.

  11. #11
    Member Cidolfas's Avatar
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    I wonder how in the minority I am when I say have no backlog whatsoever?

    Part of it is frugality, of course - I am notoriously cheap. I only buy games which I have a reasonable belief I'll truly enjoy, meaning it's rare I'll buy more than one at a time. I'm also pretty picky as to what kind of games I enjoy. I haven't bought a new game in about six months now, although I'm probably going to pick up two or three in the next little while. I own exactly two games I've never finished (FF3 DS and Avalon Code) but I also have no intention of finishing them; I stopped because I hated them. In any case - I have a game library of several dozen, spanning all three PS's, DS, 3DS and PSP, and if I'm ever bored, it's not like I lack for choice.

  12. #12
    No backlog here, craving for new games that I actually like.

    If it wasn't for jcservant who saved my life by telling me about the Spiderweb Humble Bundle, I'd be dead because of boredom by now. At least that will keep me busy for a while.

  13. #13
    Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    Cid, I imagine there are quite a few like you. Those who are tight on finances, those who aren't really collectors, etc. There are some gamers I know how buy very few games and just play the mess out of them. My wife is one of them. She has maybe a dozen games, but she's put a TON of hours into them. She is not a collector, like I am.

  14. #14
    Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderator ChickenGod's Avatar
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    Indeed, there are a few of us with no real backlog to speak of. Then again I guess it depends on how a person looks at the word.

    To me a backlog is a number of games at one's disposal with the intention to get around to playing eventually. Honestly I've already played everything I own, but there are a few odds and ends I'd like to beat one day. Particularly Project X Zone, which is super recent, and maybe one of those games you almost completely forget about like Legaia 2. And in the case of games like Legaia 2, I probably quit them because they weren't very fun, but wouldn't mind trying again because I've forgotten why. For the past couple of years I've been taking out one or two games I kind of liked but never finished because they lost my attention one way or another. Some examples being Grandia 3, Shadows Hearts: From the New World, Baten Kaitos Origins, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and Nocturne. At the moment I can't even think of anything else that I'd be willing to give a second chance to.

    Like Rya I just love to play good games and its very easy to stick with something enjoyable. If the game isn't fun, it was probably something rented that I was just trying for the heck of it and have no intention of ever going back to.

    Those of you out there who like to play an old favorite over and over again, yet neglect other great games in your collection just boggle my mind. One of the friends I mention on this site is practically addicted to Ocarina of Time and Super Mario RPG in spite of having many other unbeaten games.
    Last edited by ChickenGod; 07-26-2013 at 05:59 AM.
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  15. #15
    RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff InstaTrent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironmage View Post
    I don't think trollish language has any place in a news article. Keep it professional, please.
    This isn't a news article. It's a column written by me to express my opinions.

    Also, I have seen Manos. It may not hold up to some, but I personally find it to be a hilarious and entertaining example of inept filmmaking; something to watch while having drinking games with your friends. It may not be the "classic" understanding of quality, but I still derive enjoyment out of it. To that extent, I refute your believe that it is objectively bad.

    To me, it is subjectively good.
    Last edited by InstaTrent; 07-26-2013 at 07:41 AM.
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  16. #16
    chaotic neutral observer ironmage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InstaTrent View Post
    This isn't a news article. It's a column written by me to express my opinions.
    Forgive my lack of understanding. When a feature historically is a collection of news items, I tend to treat it as a news article. I was not aware that a different standard was involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by InstaTrent View Post
    Also, I have seen Manos. It may not hold up to some, but I personally find it to be a hilarious and entertaining example of inept filmmaking; something to watch while having drinking games with your friends. It may not be the "classic" understanding of quality, but I still derive enjoyment out of it. To that extent, I refute your believe that it is objectively bad.
    I'm confused. Isn't that a contradiction? If you find Manos to be an example of inept filmmaking, then doesn't that mean you consider it to be objectively bad?

    Enjoying something doesn't automatically mean it's good. It's perfectly okay to enjoy something, yet still admit that it is very badly done, you know. I appreciate game reviewers who report this honestly.

    Quote Originally Posted by InstaTrent View Post
    To me, it is subjectively good.
    And that's the important bit, for movies, games, whatever. If you liked it, then there's no way anyone can construct a meaningful counter argument, regardless of the objective quality.

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    straw man: No, you didn't.
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  17. #17
    New Member Member tsubakisamurai's Avatar
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    When I first read about Atlus being up for auction, I immediately thought of Nintendo being the front runner considering the recent collaborations between the two. Then visions of Jack Frost in Smash Bros. began dancing through my head! All joking aside, I wonder how people would feel about Atlus games being exclusive to Nintendo systems. Would you buy a Wii U for Persona 5 if it came to that?

    My backlog is currently over 100 games, most of which are rpgs. I count any game in which I haven't actually cleared the final dungeon or stage as a backlog game. I've mostly been playing new stuff, but the last backlog game I completed was Suikoden V, and I'm so glad a did. I (subjectively) feel like that game holds up with any rpg released in the current generation, and would love to see a HD reissue, though that will probably never happen. The game I want to finish the most out of my backlog is Valkyrie Profile. On 3 separate occasions I've started that game, made it about 20 hours in, and got distracted by something else. Which is awful because it is nearly impossible to pick up where you left off in that game because of it's non- linear progression. I adore it, and would recommend it to anyone, but I'm disgusted with myself that I haven't helped Lenneth finish the fight.

    As for why my backlog is 100+, I can attribute that almost exclusively to the prices most rpgs command as they age. I didn't start playing rpgs until about 2004 when I was in my early twenties and could afford them. I remember deciding to play Chrono Trigger, and then being dismayed at the prices it commanded. So I got in the habit of pre ordering anything that looked like it might be rare, simply because I didn't want to miss out on something that would be too expensive in the future. What finally broke me of that habit was a string of releases by NIS and Aksys. Yes, I own Cross Edge and all 3 Agarest games. They sit on my shelf as a constant reminder not to pay $50 plus for a plastic box and a coaster.

  18. #18
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    I'm sort of a collector but with some control over how much I increase my backlog. Most of the collecting I do at this point is for PS2 games or older games where I worry that I may never see a copy again or only copies for a high price. I also do a little bit of buying games to support the companies/franchises, but so far that's only applied to the Steam purchases. But anyway, my personal rule is to never have more than 50% of my games unbeaten. I count any game that I have that I have any passing interest in that I feel like I can "beat". So I don't count Smash Brothers in my backlog because I have no plans of "beating" it.

    As for how long a game is in my backlog, it can be there for years, though those games are usually games I borrowed from my brother because he beat them a while ago and had no plans to replay them. The ones I'm actually interested in tend to get played within a year or two. I don't manage to always beat them but they at least get played.

  19. #19
    I buy all games, but often I only play them 1 hour and then realize I don't really enjoy them and never play them again. Those are not on my backlog, though. Even games I like I hardly play to the end lately, because even if I like them they get old after around 30 hours play time.

    Also I'd say 90% of my play time is spend on 10% of the games I buy.

  20. #20
    is not declawed RPGamer Staff Ocelot's Avatar
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    Columns (except Ask A Crazy Staffer) are technically under the news department here, but in reality they're totally up to their authors (usually the only "oversight" I care to have over columns is checking in with the authors to make sure stories aren't duplicated in columns and on the front page). Unlike our strict news articles, there's absolutely room for editorial in the columns, just like you see newspaper columns in which the columnists give their opinions about current events.

    -------------------------------------------------

    (Note that I'm not talking about RPGamer in particular here, but the Internet in general.) I find that commenter demands for "objectivity" are usually just demands for a reviewer to see a game the same way the commenter does, or are written by people who are angry that a reviewer called out a game for racism/sexism/views on religion/etc. "Oh, you shouldn't bring social issues into this, you should review the game on its objective merits!" The first one is usually the sign of somebody who is just a bit immature. The second is the one that really gets under my skin.

    Every game is created by people with particular cultural, political, and religious backgrounds. The values of a game's creators are reflected in a game, and most of the time that's a good thing. It's what makes good games into great games that not only entertain us, but fascinate us or make us think. It's what gives games their heart. Sometimes, though, the values brought forth in a game can strongly clash with the values of a group in society. If I think a game will turn off people because of the way it portrays women, because it has characters with offensive racial stereotypes, or because the story seems to be attempting to jam a particular viewpoint down the player's throats (regardless of whether I personally agree with said viewpoint, I find overly moralistic storytelling distasteful), you bet your booty I'm putting that down in the review. Game creators have every right to express themselves however they want, and reviewers have the exact same right to call out game creators when they feel that an aspect of that expression is bull honkey. That, my friends, is the beauty of free speech.

    These cries for "objectivity" in game reviews are most often seen when a reviewer (male or female) calls out sexism in a game. When I see that particular complaint about a review, I assume that the complainer feels guilty about enjoying something that somebody else sees as sexist, and is trying to take an easy "out" rather than actually examine why they weren't offended by that particular portrayal of women. Now, that's not saying that everybody has to agree with a reviewer's complaints about how a particular game portrays women. Female gamers who consider themselves feminists argue amongst themselves about these things. What I'm saying is that rather than pretend that social commentary on a game is violating some rule about review objectivity, people should put on their big kid pants and come up with a thoughtful critique of the commentary itself.

    And that's my soapbox for the day.

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