What happened to my free time?

Written by Wil Harris

December 10, 2004 | 00:00

Tags: #bloodlines #column #counter-strike #half-life-2 #nda #play #vampire-the-masquerade #video-games #wil-harris

Companies: #christmas

Isn't it all just kicking off? Christmas is coming, and I am starting to get snowed under. I am so far behind that I can't ever see how I'm going to catch up. Sure, I have my presents under control - a couple of hours on amazon.com sorted those out with the minimum of hassle - but the thing that's really getting me down is the amount of gaming that I've got to do.

You see, I've started to encounter problems with real life. As a student, life was fairly simple - study, drink, play video games. Studying really didn't occupy that much time, which left me plenty to spend on my two activities of choice.

Now, however, I'm starting to really feel the pain. I have a job to do now. Content must be written, graphics cards must be organised, annoyed spinners must be kept placated, information has to be gathered - not to mention all the top-secret stuff that we have going on behind the scenes here at bit-tech HQ.

""The fact I haven't so much as even glanced sideways at Bloodlines causes me to lose sleep at night."

Morning is content writing time, when columns get written and hardware gets tested. Afternoon is comms time: emails get answered, phone calls get made, things get organised. The evening is free time for whatever needs tidying up: editing Tim's articles, fixing a benchmark rig, organising ToDo lists and the like. Then it's bed time. But where is the time for gaming?

It struck me that this is not a situation that can be uncommon. But how to best schedule in gaming time? I mean, for crying out loud, I've only played about 3 hours of Half Life 2, after waiting frantically for it all year. What to do?

There is a certain amount of free time to be had, granted. I take lunchtimes off to go to the gym, and Saturday's off to see my girlfriend. I suppose I could cut those out to fit in some Counter-Strike, but avoiding the gym to play video games somehow seems like a bad idea.

Of course, an hour a day has been enough, in the past, to see me through most gaming dry patches. I was in the same situation when Doom 3 came out, but I managed to play as much as I needed of that. But at the moment, there's just too much! Half Life 2 needs finishing. I've barely got a quarter of a way through Dawn of War, and I've been desperate to play that for ages. Vampire: The Masquerade was one of my favourite games of all time, so the fact I haven't so much as even glanced sideways at Bloodlines causes me to lose sleep at night.


Which makes wasted time even more of a bugbear for me. I hate troublesome hardware - the stuff that you have to spend hours fixing and fiddling with - because that is time I really don't have to spare. Give me something that works first time, every time, and I'll be far happier. I know some people get a perverse pleasure out of bug-swatting, but I ain't one of them.

"Sometimes it's just not possible to do things quickly and well."

Which made me think about you chaps, our readers here at bit-tech. You all have jobs, or school, or families. How much easier would your life be if you didn't have to fiddle with computers? If the next time you built a gaming rig, it worked first time? My motto as a journalist is to get something done properly rather than get it done fast, but it seems as if the hardware industry sometimes thinks the exact opposite. Products are rushed out on early revision silicon with beta drivers, and these companies expect reviewers to waste their time fiddling and trying to fix their mistakes. We've got enough of our own mistakes to fix thank-you-very-much, we don't need to deal with other peoples' too.

Which brings me to a question. What do you guys prefer - to have reviews quickly or done right? When we only have a few hours with hardware, would you rather see it as quickly as possible after the NDA has expired, or would you rather wait a few days and see an in-depth feature that we could guarantee was accurate? We always want to provide the latest news and exclusives to bit-tech readers, but sometimes it's just not possible to do things quickly and well. We'd like to know which you'd prefer. There's a discussion link at the bottom, so let us know.

Last night I wasted 2 hours trying to put together a ludicrous DIY case system that had appalling instructions. Perhaps we should invent a new editorial policy at bit-tech - if we have to spend more than an hour fiddling with a product that doesn't do what it should, we're sending it back and playing Half Life 2 instead. Life's just too short.
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