Thursday, February 25, 2010

An abortive timewaster

Shifter here.

I purchased the $10 Age of Empires bundle from Best Buy a few weeks ago. Age of Empires is now a well established franchise, on it's third version with several expansion packs, but the first episode came out probably about 10 years ago or so. I didnt' play it at the time because it was real time strategy (RTS) and I don't like the pressure of RTS - I prefer to take my time and go turn based. But I distinctly remember my brother showing me the game and thinking it looked fun, and I wanted to try something old school (me? No, never!) and it was only $10.

I installed it last week. I deleted it yesterday.

I deleted it not because it was bad, but because it turned out to be too good. The graphics are of course primitive (imagine that -they're a decode old) but the game play is fast and fun and it's got just enough complexity to suck you in. Two days ago I was home sick from work and I played it for about 6 hours and barely noticed I was doing it. I kept wanting to get just another wave of Heavy Infantry ready to raid the Sumerian barracks with, or get another armada of galleons in the sea so I could attack those guard towers the Greeks had put up. And then I had to respond to their incursions to my gold mining operations, and fight them out of my capital! And each of these was going to take jsut one more minute, and the minutes piled up, and the hours, and then it was close to midnight. That's when I knew I was in trouble. It had to stop.

When I was in high school, or college, I could afford to spend 6 hours on a game in a day and come back the next day and blow another few hours. That's how I learned Master of Orion, and Civilization 1 and 2, and so many many RPG's. But now if I try something like that my life is pretty much going to explode. I won't get any of the work done that I have to bring home at the end of the day, I won't see my family, my wife will hate me, and it just won't work. Over the years I've learned myself well enough to know that this was a Bad Idea. I also know that the longer I wait to stop playing, the harder it would be. So: Start -> Microsoft Games -> Age of Empires Gold -> Uninstall Age of Empires. And now I'm a free man again. Less enthralled, but free.

My recommendation is that if you have time to burn, and you like older games, and you've got $10, pick up Age of Empires. Otherwise step away from the bargain bin and walk on, citizen. There's too much to play here.

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