Friday 10 May 2019

The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence

The BBC had a news item the other day about use of self-storage units being at an all-time high, with an obligatory decluttering expert giving advice on (surprisingly enough) decluttering. I’m not too bad in real life, the odd box of serial and parallel cables to fit ports that no PC has had in the last seven years here, a small collection of power adapters that connect to nobody-knows-what there, but digital storage is another matter. Course there are e-mails, photographs and what-not; according to that “the term digital hoarding was first used in 2015” but one of my earliest posts here was about being a pack rat in games and it was hardly a new concept then.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Destiny 2 continues to tick along as game of choice at the moment, and some of the trickiest battles in there are deciding what to keep and what to break down into materials. They expanded the capacity of the Vault to 500 items, but needless to say I rapidly filled that with shaders, spaceships, speeders, submachine guns, sniper rifles, and even stuff that doesn’t begin with ‘s’. I really ought to have a proper clear-out, but there’s the old hoarders mantra… it might come in useful. Who amongst us hasn’t woken up one morning with a fierce urge to suddenly colour all their armour hot pink and lime green? The random perk system rather exacerbates matters, as Sod’s Law dictates that I end up with four of the same item, each with one useful perk and one useless, and rather than just decide on one of them I’ll stick ’em all in the Vault. A sniper rifle with extra damage on the opening shot but also a hip fire bonus? Fab! I’ll just pop it over here with the rampaging pistol made out of ham and cluster rocket launcher that dispenses suncream. The changing nature of online games is another contributor. I can’t recall ever running out of primary ammunition, so the Primary Ammo Finder perk on armour seems more pointless than a particularly blunt pencil used to write the song “You’re Beautiful” before being recruited by the NKVD while working as an art historian. But what if Bungie intended primary ammunition to be incredibly scarce and someone had misplaced a decimal point in its drop chance, they fix it, and Primary Ammo Finder becomes the most useful perk there is? Other than the forums melting and an online backlash of such ferocity that people are Really Very Cross on Twitter, of course.

Destiny 2 has nothing on Neverwinter, though, which had a pretty major update recently with Module 16 – higher level cap, some new class mechanics, that sort of thing. I barely played Module 15 but got the game patched up again for a Sunday morning jaunt, and again found myself wrestling with inventory space. Some of the issues are quite deliberate – bags and bank space are staples in the cash shops of free-to-play games, clearly a good way to bring in revenue, especially when nudged along by showering the player with crafting materials, potions, food, quest items, multitudinous currencies and tokens and keys and gems and widgets and grommets and geese and socks and paperclips and electrical goods and crockery and a small ornamental donkey named Gerald wearing a sombrero. Others are less intentional – over six years and 16 modules plenty of game mechanics have been tweaked and overhauled, and rather than starting afresh I’ve been dusting off old characters with already stuffed bags and haven’t been able to summon the enthusiasm to read in depth about what’s still relevant and what is obsolete. I ought to just break down a load of stuff into refinement points, but again there’s the nagging fear… what if there’s some super-rare item from Module 3 that’s no longer obtainable and has become an enormously valuable status symbol? There’s always the KonMari method – only keep those things that spark joy. I’m not sure that’s a thread to tug on, though, or the entire gaming jumper might start unravelling…

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