My Reasons on Why I Chose to Purchase-Lock on Games

Video game sales and bundles have made games more accessible and affordable to players than ever before. A lot of  gamers (guilty as charged) wait patiently for the next sale extravaganza of our favorite app store and hope that the games on our wishlist will be discounted enough to be bought in one purchase cart. With this, it may seem inevitable that our purchases will continue to pile up until we have a lot more games than our free time will allow. We can rationalize that we’re just availing this sort of “rare” deals that we don’t want to miss the chance to buy these great games, regardless of when we’ll play it (i.e. if we ever get the chance to play it). We can also say that we’re doing this for charity. I just hope it’s part of the real purpose. For such reasons, I just reached the point that I don’t want to give excuses just to succumb to my pleasure of getting more and more bargains without enjoying my purchases.  I stopped buying games since January except if the game is part of my research or part of a game engine bundle which I consider a good investment as a game developer. Here are some things that motivated me to have my purchase-lock.

As a Game Developer, I Want My Games to be Played

This is the top reason that really struck me. I’ve experienced the hardships of being a game developer, but I strive and continue to do what I do for this is my passion. This is with the hope that beyond materializing my ideas, gamers will notice and appreciate what I’ve made. I read this article from polygon where it was mentioned that:

The only thing worse than paying less for a game on sale is to not pay anything, and even if you don’t play the games you buy you can comfort yourself by saying you’re helping to fund the creation of that company’s next venture.

Point taken. The company really needs the funds to keep the operations going, but depending on the monetary support alone will prove to be ephemeral in terms of its expansion, let alone survival. More than finances, the company needs followers and loyal supporters who will continue to play the games and spread the word of the quality that the developers deliver.  With more and more games getting released everyday, it is essential to make a mark with your game and create a reputation from there. And it is not achieved by merely pulling off a money-shot trailer or good webpage synopsis. People have to play your games in order to recognize that it’s good, and they get their money’s worth. Who knows, maybe it will make them buy your next games at full price since you’ve already earned their seal of approval.

My Money is Better Spent on Something Else That I Will Enjoy or Consume Sooner

Sure, you’ll get discounts on buying these games, but I can’t consider that money as actually saved if you don’t get to play the game at all, you basically just threw it out (again, unless you really did it for charity). I apply this principle in everything that I buy. If I won’t use it soon, then might as well keep it in my budget instead. I’ll never know when I’ll need the money for other stuff like emergency bills, vacations, meetups, or even game dev materials that I treat as a valuable investment. Besides, most of the best games  reappear in future deals, sometimes with a cheaper price than the previous sale.

Secure My Savings While I’m Still Operating on Active Income

I only got my first ever credit card last year. Actually, it’s a debit card, because I don’t want to have unsettled bills hanging for a while. The interest rate may go crazy if you don’t pay attention. The ease of online transactions made anyone susceptible to splurge on online shops. The next thing you know, you’re already in a big debt. To be honest, my purchase rate for bundles were quite high for the first couple of months of my debit card. The online transfer of funds really made it convenient for me to avail such great deals. Good thing I’m keeping records of my personal finances and I observed the sudden spike of expenses. I knew I had to halt at one point. Then I read this article from Kotaku which motivated me to start my purchase lock. I even sold my PS2, Nintendo DS Lite, and PSP since I just have too many games to play, and I wasn’t able to play them as often as I used to. Maybe I’ll loosen myself on spending if I acquire passive income that pretty much covers all my expenses. How to do that is reserved for another blog, but for starters, you might want to check out Cash Flow board game, created by the prominent businessman, investor, and self-help author, Robert Kiyosaki.

I Just Want to Enjoy the Games That I Bought

Well, I have to admit; this is just me being me. I’m really bothered of the pile of games that are waiting in line for completion. Sometimes, it affects my enjoyment of playing my current lineup of games. I skipped some secret parts which are difficult to discover or consult the FAQ when a challenge becomes too time-consuming to accomplish. Fez for example, had a lot of beautiful puzzles, but solving them through context clues scattered in separate worlds takes considerable amount of time to figure out so I had to consult some guides to solve it. I’m quite torn with this, because you shouldn’t care that much on how long you play a game if you totally enjoy it, but I always say that there’s a vast sea of great games waiting to be played, and as a gamer and game developer. I even check the site How Long To Beat just to have a rough idea of how much time I will consume on the next game that I will play. Again, this is just me, if you really enjoy staying on a single game, then by all means do it. Don’t compromise with what you enjoy. 😀

There’s a TON of Free Games

Who doesn’t want free goods, let alone free games? I observe that this is not just the era of bundles and sales, it’s also the era of FREE games. This is not limited to indie games, but also to old AAA titles. EA Origins have started their On The House section that gives one free game each month. They also gave the complete Sims 2 game and expansions for free. Other gaming platforms like GOG and Steam are doing the same. All of this also stack up to the pile of shame, and even if it’s free, it’s far from something to be ignored. Fallout, Dead Space, and Left 4 Dead 2 are just some of the titles that were distributed free of charge. All you have to do is monitor the corresponding sites to keep yourself updated with the latest deals. I’m actually putting them in higher priority above some of my purchased games. On top of that, mobile games have spewed more and more free to play games that will take a lifetime to try it all. If you’re not very particular with games and all you’re aiming for is to keep yourself entertained, then you can get that without spending a single penny.

I wrote this just to give readers something to ponder on. I share the enjoyment of availing the discounted games, and it’s a lot of fun when you’ve played one that you know is far more valuable than what you paid for. Just remember though, your money is well spent if you actually enjoyed what you bought. I believe the game industry doesn’t just rely on monetary support. It’s the continued patronage of gamers that moves the industry to continuously evolve, as new hardware are developed, new concepts are explored, and new realms are created. In the end, I hope you guys buy the games that you will really have fun and at least get your money’s worth. If you do, it doesn’t hurt to write to the developer on how much you love the game. Seriously, the developers appreciate that. Until then, happy gaming! (~^_^)~

 

 

Applications for Personal Finance Management

I may not have a formal degree in any finance-related course, but I don’t need any formal academic background to recognize the importance of managing my personal finances. In my opinion, you handle your personal finances properly if you:

  • Create an ideal budget based on your total income
  • Save funds for future needs and emergency situations
  • Trace the transaction records and current amount of your financial resources.

Again this is just my two cents, the items I listed here are the stuff that worked for me based on my experience V(-_-)V.

With all the tasks above, you can be patient enough to use spreadsheets through MS Excel or Open Office Math. However, there are existing software applications that could be more ergonomic and robust in terms of features. The following apps listed below are some of the tools that you can use to aid you in your personal finance management. Please take note that you need not to use all the apps listed below. See the available features and sample user interface and see what do you think will work you, but then again, if you really want to go hardcore and use all of them, then by all means comfort yourself XD.

Expense Manager

Platform: Android

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This app is pretty simple, but it covers the basic features essential for your personal finances. It records transactions for your income and expenses. Each transaction is created with a single entry. Each entry contains a lot of useful fields that could further describe your transaction:

  • Account Name
  • Date of Transaction
  • Amount
  • Payee
  • Category (user defined)
  • Payment Method
  • Ref/Check No.
  • Description
  • Photo of Transaction (uses camera of the mobile device)

Account is summarized based on total current income and expenses. You can also create your budget based on a specific time interval (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, one-time). Other than that, you can assign recurring income and expenses by specifying the schedule of the recurring transaction. The good thing about this application is that it runs on your Android device, so you can trace your finances on the fly since you always (or most of the time) carry your device wherever you go. The best part of all… it’s free.

Personal Finances Pro

Platform: PC, iOS

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My favorite application so far. I’ve been using this for more than three years and it really served its purpose. Other than what Expense Manager can do, it also provides the following features:

  • Transaction Calendar
  • Loans
  • Financial Report
  • Currency Manager
  • Budget Forecast
  • Project File Password Security
  • Family Member Profiles

The user interface is totally user-friendly. The project variables like accounts and categories come with a large list of icons which adds intuitive detail to your data. Reports contain the percentage of allocation for your income and expenses. You can filter the data based on categories, duration, and family members. You can also see the trends of your transactions which tell you from which category you usually earn and spend. The application also has a standalone version that you can use to install on your USB flash disk or any other external storage device. The data can be exported to a CSV or text file. The only catch is that the software is a paid application. However, they also have the freeware version that contains basic features you’ll need for personal finance data. I think this version will suffice if all you need to record is your personal cash flow :). Take a look at this comparison table to have a better idea of what you will get for free. Maybe if you earn enough, you can include buying the personal license for your next budget XD.

YNAB (You Need A Budget)

Platform: PC, MAC, iOS, Android

I found this software in an unexpected place… Steam. The platform widely known as a portal for video games also distributes software  applications such as this. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to purchase this during the Steam sale. Anyway, this app almost has the same features as Personal Finances Pro, but YNAB promotes their product with a tie-up methodology which comprises of four steps:

  • Rule 1: Give every dollar a job
    • Assign a specific amount for each category. This way, you won’t look at your entire income as a whole when you’re planning to spend money on something  but rather the allocation to the category where the purchase item belongs.
  • Rule 2: Save for a rainy day
    • Allot a budget for recurring, less-frequent expenses by separating the amount to monthly intervals. The funny thing is, I use this method long before I knew about YNAB. And I’m using Personal Finances Pro for this.
  • Rule 3: Roll with the punches
    • Be flexible when overspending. Adjust the allocations accordingly when such situations occur.
  • Rule 4: Live on last month’s income
    • You allot a budget for your next month’s expenses. YNABers call this the buffer. This is to give the user enough breathing room for paying the bills instead of timing it for the next paycheck.

Other than the software itself, the official website gives free online classes as well as blog posts for financial advices. Overall, YNAB doesn’t revolve with the tool, but it’s more of a comprehensive program to help you save more money and get more out of your financial resources. Though it’s not for free, the amount of cash that you will save (if you’ll be faithful to the program) will worth every penny that you spent.

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that the tool alone cannot help you handle your money properly. It takes discipline to avoid spending more than what you earn. It’s hard but if you focus on long-term gratification, you’ll see moving forward that all those plannings were totally worth it. I hope you find a tool and approach that will make you save more and in turn make you financially abundant. Cheers! (~^_^)~

Photo Credits: iTunes, Google Play, Steam

Gaming Habits That I Chose to Stop

I had a lot of things to attend to that I can’t find the time to do my regular writing stuff. This busyness ate away a lot of my hobby time, including gaming. So sad OTL. Well, I give at least, equal importance to these other tasks that I’m working on (Life Hacks, Social Life, Career Goals, etc.), so I need some compromise on how to continue my gaming life, even for just a short while. With this, here are the gaming habits that I stopped in order to give way to other things that I added in my plate.

100 % Completion

There’s a period in my gaming life where I always want to complete all the unlockables of a game, from the elements that give significant contribution to the story like a hidden character, up to the minute details like collecting 100 small items scattered throughout a sandbox world. It’s quite fulfilling to complete the game, and it makes you feel more satisfied that you’re getting your money’s worth. However, pulling this off usually takes a lot of time. And I mean, A LOT OF TIME. This has gotten to a new level since the dawn of Achievements and Trophies. Even online games portal like newgrounds  and kongregate now implement such features. This is a real punishment for any OC gamer.

I’ve adjusted my goals in a game and consider it as my own version of 100% completion. This lessens the time that I need to consume in a single game. I determine which tasks are worthy of accomplishing based on rewards and the estimated time to finish it. If it requires me to replay the whole game, pass. If it requires me to complete huge amount of collectibles that are VERY HARD to find, and the only thing I get is a bunch of pictures in the gallery, no, not gonna happen.

Achievements and Trophies - An OC Gamer's Nightmare

Replay, Replay, Replay

In relation to the previous item, I’m not fond of repeating games after my first completion. My mindset is to play as many games as possible, so instead of investing more time to start the same game all over again, regardless of how good it is, I proceed to a new one. I remember Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, wherein the other four difficulty settings are unlocked by completing the game for each preceding difficulty. The game contains 20 missions, do the math. Even if you’ve become an expert in using Dante or Vergil, it still takes time to finish. I’m really amazed by those dedicated gamers who practice for several hours in order to achieve such mastery, like the one posted in this video.

In order to unlock all costumes of Dante and Vergil in DmC3 special edition, you need to beat the game in Normal, Hard, Very Hard, and Dante Must Die mode for each character. That’s a total of 8 playthroughs!
(image courtesy of mobygames.com)

Spend Time Practicing

Speaking of mastery, I used to practice some of the games that I play beyond the main goal that is given to me, especially in fighting games where you hone your skills to utilize the abilities and fighting style of a specific character. Alas, I don’t have the luxury of time to do that now. I can only practice on mobile games since it’s more accessible, and the gameplay is separated into chunks that usually take 5 minutes or less to end. Hardest Game Ever 2 is a good example of such game. It is divided into several difficulty modes each with six minigames. In order to unlock the other minigames, you must acquire a certain number of S rank completions. This is motivational enough for me since I can get significant new contents for free.

Practice makes perfect. But nobody's perfect. So why practice? (courtesy of http://th07.deviantart.net)

Practice makes perfect. But nobody’s perfect. So why practice?
(courtesy of http://th07.deviantart.net)

Gaming Schedule

Before, I always have a fixed schedule for playing video games. Having a time block for PC, PS2, PSP, and NDS, I created a routine to make sure that the game I play for each platform will progress and eventually be completed. For weeks, I barely used the mentioned gadgets for gaming. Now I only use my PSP as a portable music player. I promise myself that if things loosen up, I will gradually return to this gaming schedule. After all, I’m the type of person who really wants to get the most out of the things that I buy.

What she said V(-_-)V (image courtesy of http://cdn.memegenerator.net)

No Guides or FAQ

I usually consult an online guide or FAQ if I want to check the things that I miss in the game, and if it’s worth a second playthrough. Now, I constantly use it in my gaming session. This shortens the time that I need to complete the game. I know, I know, it ruins the gaming experience. After all, solving the puzzles or discovering something on your own is a significant part of playing a video game, but I learned to be contented with running through the entire story. I still enjoy it since an FAQ cannot entirely remove the challenge of gameplay. Even if it tells you what to do, it is easier said than done.

There are times when I start a game without an FAQ and I already progressed quite far without noticing it. In those cases, I decide not to consult any guide at all since I will regret the effort that I have already given when I started  the game. I still monitor my gaming time though. If I observe that I’m stuck with one part of the game for a considerable amount of time, then hands-up and open GameFaqs XD.

FAQ? B*tch Please!

FAQ? B*tch Please!

I have nothing against long hours of gameplay (though too much of anything is bad enough XD). In fact, there are moments where I miss my gaming schedule. I’m totally envious of my officemates and students when I see them online,  playing something on Steam. Heck, I haven’t bought a single game while all my gamer friends are going crazy over the Steam summer sale. Well, that’s the price of setting priorities. I swear, when I sort things out and convert some of my tasks to autopilot, then I will gradually increase my gaming time once again. For now, I will settle with my short gaming breaks. (~^_^)~