- In WoW, I've got my Horde Warrior, who I'd like to get through to 80 before Cataclysm hits. I will also want to take my mage through the new 5-man dungeons sometime after patch 3.3 hits.
- In EQ2, I've got various characters I could be working on. In particular, I'm looking forward to the forthcoming Frostfell holiday.
- Allarond is nearing level 60 in LOTRO, though I do plan to park him for the rest of the month once he hits the current level cap - Mirkwood isn't adding that much geographic area to Middle Earth, and it might be very challenging to level in the new content on launch day, so I'm much better off having some unfinished business in Moria to work on.
- I'd like to give Warhammer a re-trial at some point, though there is some real cause for uncertainty in the wake of the layoffs.
- I'd like to take Runes of Magic for a spin, if for no other reason than to assess how the pure item shop business model is working in an era where most major games are going for both item shops and subscription fees.
- Torchlight and Dragon's Age are both getting positive reviews around the blogs.
At the end of the day, the payoff for paying attention to my gaming expenses is that I don't need to say no to something solely because of the monetary cost. Unfortunately, there's no buying back the time. To some extent, it's making me very risk averse in my gaming decisions. Perhaps I could be having 20% more fun in game X over game Y, but I know game Y is a sure thing where the time won't be wasted. Maybe I shouldn't worry about picking the "right" character, but the cost in time of choosing wrong and realizing it weeks later makes me feel like I should try alternatives (burning more time in the process) to be more confident in my choice.
Many of these factors are beyond the developers' control; they don't set my schedule for me, and they can't design the game with fewer choices just to avoid confusing players like myself. On the other hand, the reality that I am crunched for time affects them, as it influences how likely I am to try or stick with their games. It's a crowded market right now, and I'm not the only gamer to run into similar problems.
First impressions may or may not be fair, but they're going to matter more and more. Helping players find the class that's right for them before they get to the point where they quit than re-roll matters. You can't give players more time to work with, but you can and you must optimize the tour that you give players with the time that they give you.