Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

“Go-To” Games

Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 9, 2014

IL2_SS1Yes, I use games to waste time. I use games to procrastinate stuff I’m supposed to be doing. I admit it.

In particular, I tend to have one game – sometimes two – that becomes my brain’s release valve. I gravitate to it when I don’t have anything in particular in mind other than just going into idle mode for a little while. These games will serve as my “go-to” games for months at a time. When I’m feeling the need for a distraction (sadly, something that happens way too often), they’ll be the games of habit that I’ll naturally crave.

In order for a game to become my “go-to” time-waster of choice, I have to be fairly familiar with it. It’s not something where I’m actively learning how to play – though I’ll of course be improving my skills as I play. It should be repetitive and a self-contained experience so I don’t have to worry about making long-term decisions while I’m in semi-autopilot. It should be something with plenty of variation, either provided automatically, or giving plenty of options to toggle to vary the set-up a bit to keep things from getting boring when I will play it almost every day. It must be a game that is not too challenging – I want to play it to escape frustration, not to cause it. It’s usually a PC game, because it’s something that I can take a break on without leaving the room and starting up a console.

SC2In the past, these “go to games” have included Supreme Commander I and II and Rise of Nations.  Lately, Catan on my tablet has been a good one. Tower defense games have fulfilled that role. The problem with those kinds of games is that they can get pretty time consuming.  I’m not a “rush” style player, so a single game can often go 30, 45, or even more than 60 minutes. While I’m playing these games to waste time, I’d rather not waste that much time all at once…

Combat flight sims have served, too, where I can whip together an “instant” mission. The IL-2 Sturmovik series (especially IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946) was especially handy in this respect. The World War II era warplanes are a bit easier to handle than a fully-featured modern jet, but all that really matters is how comfortable and familiar I am with the simulator. Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 were also great “go-to” games, as they were straightforward and always a little different.  And hey, shooting up zombies is always fun.

There were some dark days  a few years ago when some casual games served in that role. Like Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. I’m not proud of that era…

ManyFacesOfGo(Actually, that’s not at all true. It was a good game, and I enjoyed it a great deal. But for a quick game – it was what, two minutes long? – I kept playing way too many times in a row in a single sitting…)

About three years ago, I shelled out the cash for Many Faces of Go.  That still occasionally serves. I felt good about this one, because my Go game has improved as a result, which can be played outside the confines of the computer program. Unfortunately, I haven’t played a lot of human partners in that time, and I fear a lot of my improvements may be based on weaknesses in the computer’s game. Still, the computer plays much, much better than me (I’m playing pretty close to the lowest difficulty setting), so hopefully I can play another human without embarrassing myself too badly.

RocksmithCowboysLately, I’ve sought to take advantage of my laziness, and made a habit out of Rocksmith 2014. I keep my guitar next to my desk, so that it takes almost no effort to plug in and play the game (an important trick, I suspect). I had to force myself for a few weeks, but now it’s a habit. Sometimes I’ll even just fiddle with the guitar for ten minutes or so without even running the game, which is good, too. I’ve managed to deliberately turn my inherent lazy tendencies to something productive, which is nice. It’s worked well.

It’s also one of the few games in my Steam list where I’m proud to have the “hours played” field in the triple digits. If skill in playing the guitar is heavily dependent on the time invested in practice, I consider that value to be almost as useful as a measure of skill as my scores in the game.

There have been a couple of times that I put dumbbells next to my desk in a belief that I could do some quick curls or something during my time-wasting sessions. That has never panned out. Maybe I need to turn that into a game, too…

Anyway – that’s how I roll. It’s also how some games on my Steam list have embarrassingly high numbers of hours played, while the bulk of the games in my account have less than an hour played (often never even installed).

So how about you? Do you have favorite games that you go back to on a regular basis, even daily, for a “quick fix”?

Filed Under: Geek Life - Comments: 8 Comments to Read

  • McNutcase said,

    For light eye candy, I tend to pull out Just Cause 2, and listen to podcasts while playing it. I also listen to podcasts while playing Euro Truck Simulator 2. For quick time-wasting and brain resets, I often pull out Audiosurf, and thanks to my brain being weirdly cross-wired, I can select music to adjust my brain chemistry. I can even get myself high playing it.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I played a bit of Audiosurf a few years ago, and it did end up being (briefly) one of those “quick fix” games. Ditto, more recently, for Beat Hazard. Just the fusion of the music and action I guess.

  • McTeddy said,

    While normally I play new games for my gaming fix, there is one exception, Mega Man 2. I play that game every few months.

    I’ve been through the game enough times that it’s pure zen. I play it whenever the stress is getting to me and I need to relax.

    That’s one of very few games I qualify as “Good” at. My best run missed the world record by 2 minutes, and I had at one time trained to play through it blindfolded. But airman’s stage ruined that dream.

  • Cuthalion said,


    Also, Solitaire for awhile. My brother would get so mad that there were so many video games we could play, and I kept playing round after round of Solitaire.

  • Albert1 said,

    Quake 1. Sometimes Doom 2.

  • ShadowTiger said,

    I generally play games in 2 week bursts so i cant relate that well. However recently Sol Forge and Ascension (card games) have been great ways to spend 20-30 min here and there.

  • Anon said,

    My “guilty pleasure”: Hidden object games

    But not to procrastinate but because I genuinely enjoy playing a simple game for a change.
    I also like that they are usually completely non-violent so this “stress element” doesn’t apply, too.

    But while I generally like that newer HO games are becoming more and more like graphics adventures I sometimes need the simple “find an object and get rewarded with a nice little animation” mechanic.

    And there is sometimes indeed a challenge as most of these games seem to come from Eastern Europe or Russia now (where high quality graphics & music can be produced very cheaply – not even speaking about the programming) and the localization is often far from perfect.


    A game wants me to click on a bow (graphics: bow & arrow) but it doesn’t say the German word for it (->”Bogen”) but “Schleife”, which is a German word for “loop” – but also -sometimes- for a “bow tie” (but never for the weapon “bow”).

    Another one is when the game wants me to click on a “Bürste”, which is the “brush” you clean with.
    Problem is, there is no cleaning brush, but a paint brush on screen – and for that you would need a completely different word in German: “Pinsel”.

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    1. Championship Manager 2001/02 (now the Football Manager series). You can get it for free now, and the fan community creates wonderful free patches to update all the clubs/players/etc.. to the current year.

    It’s simpler than the new versions, and it’s one of those games I play when there’s no football to watch (like over the summer) or to try and achieve amazing results with my favourite team(s).

    2. Minecraft – just fun to sometimes play for a while, mess around. I find the actual mining best, and listen to music while I carve out a huge quarry.

    3. Mount & Blade – there’s something about the combat I find very enjoyable. Usually combat is my least-favourite thing about an RPG, but in M&B it just feels right. The early game is best, where you are scratching around for every coin and scraps of equipment.