RPS Asks: What’s Your Gaming Safe Place?

By John Walker on August 15th, 2011 at 9:59 am.

Ahhh, Dredmor.

It’s the Monday morning before Gamescom. Potentially the quietest morning there can be for gaming news. Most publishers and developers are currently sat on planes, flying toward Germany’s Frenchiest-sounding place, Cologne, ready to being their publicity assault on the world. Oh, it’ll be a busy week. Too much news all in one tiny space, in advance of the gigantic Autumn madness that is gaming. Cinema may have all but given up on its Summer-focus for blockbusters, but gaming still clings on to the pre-Christmas release-o-frenzy, and we’re about to hear about everything all at once.

So I’m wondering, what game do you play when you want to relax? What’s your happy-place game? Does yours constantly update, as does mine? (Currently Dredmor, previously Terraria, before then Minecraft, etc.) Or is there something that sits on your hard drive from years past, always there just in case you need to hide from the world and slip under that safe, warm duvet? (Oh Burnout: Paradise, I’d be alone without you.) Which is your cosy, fire-lit cave and heather bed on the scary island of life?

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253 Comments »

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  1. jakonovski says:

    Probably whatever is my current open world rpg. Right now it’s the soothing radioactive glow of Fallout New Vegas.

    • BebopBraunbaer says:

      oh sweet FNV can’t wait to talk to Ulysses

    • Jockie says:

      Generally for me Bethesda open world games do the job and New Vegas is the currently installed one. It’s like having your own private world to potter about in.

    • StranaMente says:

      For me is New Vegas and Minecraft. Every once in a while I want machine guns to clear my world.

    • Jumwa says:

      I’m with Jockie on the Bethesda open-world games. Morrowind being my favourite.

      It used to be StarFox64 until the process of dragging out my N64, hooking it up and firing up the game became too much of an annoying nuisance to go through when I needed to relax. Before that it was Megaman X, though that stopped for the same reasons. Before that Megaman 2… likewise. Silly console games.

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      Darkelp says:

      I have just clocked my 78th hour in FNV and it still hasn’t lost it’s appeal. Before that was Fallout 3 which I clocked about 168 hours or something ludicrous like that.

    • Calneon says:

      Still pottering through the main quest on FNV, recently completed Dead Money and still have the other two DLCs to go. So currently that’s my go to game when I’m not playing HoN.

    • 0p8 says:

      failed @ reply

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      Wisq says:

      I’m just finally getting around to playing Oblivion now. I used the “Alternate Start” mod to start in Anvil (after playing the tutorial once separately), nuked all the map markers so I had to discover everything myself, and turned off fast travel anyway.

      My first quest? Making it to the Imperial City. On foot. With a Realistic Fatigue mod which meant I couldn’t just run full out the whole way. Picking up alchemy supplies along the path, raiding farms for ingredients, making tons of Restore Fatigue potions, doing all the local quests along the way, using lots of Restore Fatigue potions to run madly away from bandits, getting horribly lost in the wilderness and having to orienteer my way back to a road — my first good chunk of the game.

      30-something hours in, I’ve finally got a horse, I’m finished the Mages Guild quests, and I’m heading back to the Imperial City to hit the Arcane University. And you know? I don’t mind the slow pacing. And I might play something else but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back. So I guess that means this is my new safe place.

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      Durkonkell says:

      Morrowind. Morrowind! Steam says I have clocked 15 hours in this game. Steam is an entire decimal place wrong…

      I played Oblivion first and this some years later, but this is the one I keep coming back to. Over and over again. Much more and I’ll feel like I live there and the real world is where I go to have a break…

    • groghog says:

      At about 350 hours with FNV. modsmodsmods

    • InternetBatman says:

      New Vegas is amazing. I’m on my second playthrough, this one hardcore, with a puncher. Punching someone’s limbs off never seems to get old.

    • Flameberge says:

      I’m another one on the Bethesda open world RPG bandwagon. Morrowind is all the all time favourite, but at the minute the one ready to be jumped upon in times of need is Oblivion stuffed to the gills with mods.

    • Burning Man says:

      New Vegas. Nothing does it for me as well as just wandering through the silent wilderness with a gun in hand.

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      lasikbear says:

      @Jumwa MegaMan X was mine for so long, had an emulator on most of my past computers just to play it! Generally I just played through Chill Penguin’s stage and called it good, but sometimes I would get a bit farther and take on someone who wasn’t such a pushover.

    • JThomasAlbert says:

      If I just want to chill, I’ll play “Startopia” in sandbox mode. There’s a minimum of building and management and I can float around watching all the little aliens going about their happy little business. I wish someone would do an “HD” update of this one, not really changing anything, just making it prettier.

      If I want a bit more stimulation, I’ll dive into “GTA: Vice City”. I have a savegame at 100% completion. Vice City is MINE! I can whatever the Hell I want! What, you don’t like me driving my hearse down the sidewalk dressed as Jason Voorhees? What are you gonna do about it, little man? Cry?

    • iZen says:

      Severance: Blade Of Darkness. The one and only true pc game, until there is a sequel I will stick to this. And there will be none.

  2. BebopBraunbaer says:

    my happy place is, and may will be forever, Baldur’s Gate

    • JFS says:

      I’m so with you. You have restored my faith in humanity, with Baldur’s Gate turning up on second place already, overtaken only by the brilliant-but-not-quite-as-cool-as Fallout New Vegas.

    • atticus says:

      Absolutely totally agree with this one.

      There’s no better place to be, walking along the Sword Coast on my way to Nashkel to slay some Kobolds. The beautiful handpainted landscape, the orchestral music, the sound of a seagull passing overhead, accompanied by NPC’s you know and love… -sigh-

      No other game makes me feel the way I do when I play Baldurs Gate, and I fear none ever will.

      “Ahoy there stranger, stay thy course to indulge an old man…”. Yes, indeed I will.

    • RedWurm says:

      Darn tootin’.

      When I rebuilt my PC I set up a load of the mods and fan patches – as well as trilogy, which lets me play the original in shiny bg2-o-vision – and I’ve been playing it on and off for yonks now. My first crack at a solo(ish) run is looking pretty good. A lot of running away, but their names have gone on The List. I will be back for those xvarts at level 40-odd, then we’ll see who’s laughing.

  3. Ian says:

    Probably Football Manager or WoW.

    I’ve also often got something “small” on the go such as Desktop Dungeons, though not at the mo.

    I suppose haxball would be the closest but that relies on other people I play with being online.

    • Leandro says:

      I was tempted to say Football Manager but then I realized it is in fact the game I play with the potential to piss me off the most.

      No other game ever made me actually punch my desk and scream in frustration. Gotta love FM :P

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    yhancik says:

    The skies of IL2-Sturmovik. In a custom mission, with no ennemies. And AFX’s Selected Ambient Works Vol 2.

    There are have been other places, but this is the best I’ve found so far, and I happily return to it.

  5. godgoo says:

    Massive winamp playlist and TDU with wheel and pedals. Minecraft. Far Cry 2. Simon the Sorcerer.

    • John Walker says:

      Oh yes, that reminds me: Burnout Paradise. That’s always there, waiting for me, when I need podcasts and smashing things. I must have bought it three times.

    • godgoo says:

      Ah yes, I was trying to think of other open world drivey games! any of these really!

    • Nova says:

      TDU2 is mine at the moment.
      Driving across Hawaii or Ibiza in a Porsche is very relaxing. The Test Drive Unlimited games are really good for that generally.

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    phlebas says:

    Gentle chambery music, pleasant order-from-chaos gameplay and the prettiest progress bar ever – has to be Bloom.

  7. Clockwork Peanut says:

    It probably suggests that I’m mentally unsound, but there’s nothing that compares with a good deathmatch. Preferably Half Life 2 Deathmatch. Nothing else de-stresses like relying almost entirely reactions, I often play it before exams ^^

    • ankh says:

      My happy place is q3live vs people who are better than me. Like you said depending on nothing but your reactions and instinct is soothing. (Yeah I think I may be mentally unsound.)

    • Alexander Norris says:

      CoDBlOps is great for relaxation, too – it’s the kind of game you can play with your brain switched off.

    • Demon Beaver says:

      @Alexander Norris – Or your keyboard

  8. Larington says:

    Over the years it’s been the likes of (in no particular order) TES: Oblivion, Planetside, Deus Ex, Baldur’s Gate 1/2, Startopia, Anachronox, X2, Master of Orion, UFO: Enemy Unknown, Colonization, The Sims 3, Test Drive Unlimited and Lord of the Rings Online. Most recently it’s been LOTRO quite a bit but now I’m hitting a point where I’ve played it too much during the last month or two.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Startopia for me as well.

      It really is the one I come back from time to time, to have a good time, relaxed. I build my donut of a space station, enjoying it up to the point when I have more than 4 docks and the relaxation is leaving for a “*click* oh my god *click* so many *click* things to do *click*”

  9. Risingson says:

    I had a safe place in Prince of Persia, Another World and Flashback, games that I beated once every year, a day I felt like it. After a time I decided that I knew them *too* well, I can’t play them anymore.

    Now it’s tyrian 2000, aero fighters, those kind of shoot em ups. And some solitaires too.

    • Risingson says:

      Oh, and Burnout Paradise, of course. Everything can go bad, but in Burnout Paradise you can crash at top speed, and everything is still beautiful.

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    Lambchops says:

    Spelunky and Audiosurf are permament fixtures on my hard drive. Generally they are supplemented by one other game, which at the moment is Dungeons of Dredmor but has in the past been Aaaah[snip], Desktop Dungeons, Flotilla, Tidalis.

    Although describing some of those games as a safe place may be a stretch, particularly Spelunky where death lies around every corner.

    Away from the PC my standard hangover game used to be De Blob on the Wii. Something about it just worked well to soothe a barely functioning body and mind!

  11. Fox89 says:

    Max Payne.

    There is just something… comforting about that game. Basic, slow-mo over the top shootython. What more does a man need?

    • ColOfNature says:

      Oh, yes indeedy. My most recent play-through of the sequel is unfinished. Something to do this evening then…

  12. busfahrer says:

    I suck horribly at it, but for some reason I’d still have to say Team Fortress 2.

  13. RakeShark says:

    2008 Prince of Persia, Republic Commando, Mirror’s Edge, and I think Civ4 are my happy safe places.

    • .backslash says:

      Agree on Mirror’s edge. There’s something about this game that makes it just beautiful.

  14. razgon says:

    That would have to be Rome: Total war – I know this game so damn well, but always manages to get a new computer, so I have to win to unlock my favorite countries, like Egypt.

    It’s really such a cool, easy, and relaxing game – especially when you stand on a hill, watching the enemy run before you due to the 10 thousand million fire arrows raining down over them….ahh, to crush your enemies, see them driven before you… and to hear the lamentation of their men

  15. KauhuK says:

    I don’t have such a game. Maybe Minecraft could be considered as such but I’m waiting for the adventure update before I touch it again.

    Or maybe Guild Wars is my safe place. Sure, all my friends from GW world are gone and I have drifted to some random guild but there are some good people in it. I sometimes log in and just chat with guild and alliance remembering the Good Old Times™ of Guild Wars. It’s a shame that I have no other way to contact those old friends from past years but trough GW and they have not logged in for a long time.

    • rclesham says:

      For a while Guild Wars was mine too – but I’ve not played it for years now. To be honest, weird as it may sound – COD MW2 is my current one. If I’m stressed or have half an hour to kill I find the multiplayer very satisfying. I can’t really play it for more than about 3 games without getting bored though. I think I need some new games…

  16. testman3 says:

    Mass Effect 1 and 2… Awesome games, can’t wait for ME3

    • thecoolonion says:

      Sometimes I just sit for minutes on end at the opening screen of Mass Effect 1. The music and view are just so beautiful and stress-relieving.

  17. Alien426 says:

    Rainbow Six 3. With Raven Shield, Athena Sword, Iron Wrath and some user-created maps it’s got plenty of variety. Add to that the different modes like Lone Wolf and Hostage Rescue, and the various approaches like using frag or teargas or flashbang grenades and heartbeat sensors…
    I keep coming back to it even though I have to place that damn CD in the drive.

    • John Walker says:

      Under no circumstanced would it be tolerable for me, or indeed anyone, to tell you to Google the NOCD for the game. And I would ban anyone who suggested it.

    • westyfield says:

      YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO IT LOL

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    alphager says:

    Beat Hazard with the Daft Punk discography.

  19. abigbat says:

    World of Warcraft for me – I’ve played one character since launch (Undead rogue) and so take great pleasure in returning to Brill and the Undercity when I want to relax in a game. A spot of fishing, helping our some low level guys with quests, indulging in a festival activity or two… Sublime.

  20. Symitri says:

    I play Minecraft when I’m doing other things, like watching a TV show or movie, or when I need to be able to get out at any time – it’s the only game at the moment which I can play on auto-mode. I used to play WoW for that buzz but after I found Minecraft, the repetitive grinding of the latter was infinitely more appealing than that of the former and didn’t cost me $15 a month to enjoy.

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    mpk says:

    Mines has constantly changed over the years being, at various times, Doom, Sim City 2000, Civ 4, EVE, Gran Turismo, Streetfighter 2. The list goes on. I’d say its currently GRID.

    • Voxel lens says:

      DooM was your happy place? Carmack must be feeling like a fucking failure right now.

  22. juandemarco says:

    I’d say Planescape: Torment, I always manage to completely lose myself in there. Also, Monkey Island 1 and 2 (sometimes even 3) are as much a safe place as Torment is.

    • dakl says:

      I still haven’t played the Monkey Islands. A lot of people say the second one is the best one. If I don’t have all the time in the world, can I go straight for number 2? Or will I have missed too much?

    • wererogue says:

      I have never finished Planescape: Torment, out of fear that I would never go back and play it again. It definitely qualifies for one of my happy places.
      Also UFO, Syndicate, Dungeon Keeper, Settlers, Blood Omen & Soul Reaver. Which I have finished, but go back to anyway.

  23. clownst0pper says:

    Probably EVE Online, it’s so oddly addictive…

    • Danny252 says:

      Nothing like going on, pewpewing some rocks, and talking complete shit with corpies on TS.

  24. Premium User Badge

    MerseyMal says:

    Flying around on my mount gathering/mining in WoW for mindless relaxing when I want some social interaction. Chime for extreme solo relaxing.

  25. Scilantius says:

    Mostly a strategy game that I know how to play well/instinctively, like, say Master of Orion 2, Dawn of War 1,…. So I can just go with the flow, and not think too much about it. Definately not anything multiplayer though. And although I love RPGs (open-world RPGs even more), I wouldn’t exactly call them my safe place.

    Plus I also have quite a few mini-games lying around as well, like currently Dungeons of Dredmor.

  26. Squirrelfanatic says:

    It used to be Guild Wars and Morrowind. GW is pretty much done for me atm until The Sequel arrives and for Morrowind I’d need to go through all the hard work of modding it into oblivion (pun intended). Searching, installing, testing mods can be such a nuisance, as I just experienced with New Vegas. Thankfully, the kind soul that is Wulf gathered a very solid mod-basement that I could build up from.

    So right now, it is Fallout: New Vegas. And TF2.

  27. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Hmm, I don’t think I have a PC game that fits the bill — I very rarely go back to an older game, though for a little while Minecraft did do the trick. I think if I had to pick something, I’d probably go for something like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea on my PSP. Jumping in for a handful of quick battles is always enjoyable.

  28. oliver.gill says:

    Fuel – Almost unlimited roads to drive
    TDU/TDU2 – Less roads but better cars

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    MonkeyMonster says:

    Half Life 2 on hard… Burnout Paradise or CoH

    • ankh says:

      Don’t you think HL2 on hard is not hard enough? I think so. Not that its easy. Just not hard enough.

    • Eukatheude says:

      Me too. Aside from a couple of sections (mainly that damn Nova Prospekt part where you have three turrets and have to fend off waves of Combine) where it gets horribly hard and i have to lower the difficulty, it’s mostly still quite easy for me. But i’ve played and replayed all HL games, so i definitely have the hang of them.

  30. Alexander Norris says:

    Mirror’s Edge. It is still gaming’s greatest tragedy that DICE never paid for a license to distribute a Mirror’s Edge SDK. :(

    • fearian says:

      Right on!

      Sometimes I just want to lounge back, possible with a gamepad, and run and jump and climb over a bright city.

      Bionic Comando is good for this as well, as is 2008 Prince of Persia. I always forget how to skilfully use the bionic arm though, and POP is a little to simple.

  31. Gassalasca says:

    Rollercoaster Tycoon, Colonization and Diablo 2 have performed this function for me in the past. But only one game really deserves the honour of being called my gaming safe place.

    Imperialism 2.

  32. AoM_AJER says:

    I know its probably not the right game for relaxing, but I find something soothing about Super Meat Boy, especially the later levels.

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    Hanban says:

    Rome and Medieval: Total War II. And also Fallout 2 and Oblivion.

  34. YeOldeSnake says:

    Cruising around in the saboteur , stealthly taking out random nazis and infiltrating bases without anyone even noticing.

  35. mcwizardry says:

    Limbo and Just Cause 2 at the moment.

    • westyfield says:

      JC2 is one of mine. Something soothing about just picking a direction and knowing that before too long, you will reach something fun and explosive.

    • field_studies says:

      Agreed. I’m coming up on 50 hours in Just Cause 2. It’s incredibly repetitive, but perhaps that’s one of the hallmarks of a great cosy come-back-to games… repetition that somehow remains enjoyable.

      (Random JC2 anecdote: I’ve never found violent computer games trigger true violent impulses in me, but after playing so much JC2 lately, I can’t see radio towers in the real world without feeling like I should be centring imaginary cross-hairs over them.)

  36. Neskobar says:

    I tend to play certain games to relax me when I’m taking a break from whatever competitive game I’m playing. For SC:BW, my relax game was Quake Live. For SC2 it’s LoL/BFBC2.

    The problem is, however, because they are my ‘relaxing’/wind-down games, I tend to approach them with a better (calmer) mindset; play better and then they subsequently become my main competitive games. It’s a bit of an ongoing cycle.

    For single player games, though, I’ve been mostly relying on Shogun 2 as my go to down-time game. :)

  37. pandora says:

    It updates. For example, I’d have been able to relax with The Sims 3 for some two or three weeks just recently (guilty?), and Recettear now. Of course, there are games I come back to a bit more regularly, like TF2 (and Enemy Territory years ago) and Civs.

    Is really Köln that much of French-sounding a name?

  38. Premium User Badge

    Coccyx says:

    Spelunky. It’s perfect for filling in little gaps in a busy schedule, and can be played in numerous ways depending on your mood. Sometimes I’ll attempt speed runs, never letting go of the sprint key and raiding every shop I encounter, not bothering with gold (I don’t normally get very far on those runs). At other times I’ll play through meticulously collecting every gold ingot available to me, not leaving a single corner of a single level unexplored. I’m proud to say that over the years I’ve completed it 3 times, once in 7 minutes. What keeps me coming back? Well, It’s a new game every time I play it – randomisation is truly the only way to ensure re-playability.

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      Lambchops says:

      That sums up the appeal of Spelunky nicely for me.

      I’ve completed it 3 times as well. My loose goals whenever I fire it up now are either to complete it quickly (I’ve still not unlocked the room for completeing it in under 15 min) or to find the City of Gold (I got very close once, just had to find the Scepter and the door to the city but got killed trying to bactrack to find a mummy to kill for the scepter. One day . . .

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      Coccyx says:

      Alas, I unlocked all of the bonus rooms and shortcuts but all the save data was lost when my hard drive died. I’ve never found the City of Gold though, normally I’m not commited enough to take such a detour away from the main goal – especially when staying in the dungeon for 5 more minutes makes you 300 times more likely to die.

  39. GallonOfAlan says:

    They may be creaky and hard to get working on modern Windows and widescreen monitors, but it will always be Thief and Thief 2.

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      phlebas says:

      Thief to relax? Goodness. I love the games, but would have thought they were all about focus and tension – I’d be more likely to need something relaxing afterwards.

    • Anguy says:

      Thief 2 as well for me. The tension makes it that much easier to slip into the game and forget about reality. As a bonus, there are tons of great fan made missions around, it’s maybe one of the most active, creative and productive community around. :)

  40. Will Tomas says:

    Bethesda’s open-worlds, TF2, Football Manager, Burnout Paradise, GRID, Minecraft, Spelunky, Total War, all scratch that itch. But only one game really fills that space completely, and it’s not a PC one: Sonic 2.

  41. Commander Gun says:

    Nothing as relaxing as beating the crap out of someone in Steet Fighter 4 AE (which btw, you did’t do any coverage on other than saying that it will be venetually released on the pc).
    For me, it is a sort of extreme fast chess, in which you anticipate moves and react accordingly. Games take only 3 minutes, so it does not have the heavy ‘must be engaged for hours’ feel. Add to it that people are very aggressive in their textmessages if they lose (“Stupid camper, i go visit you and beat you to hell in rl!” for example), and it is even fun in a literal sense!
    Other game i love to take it easy in is Frozen Synapse. The soundtrack in the background, the blueish background and the no timelimit is very relaxing also.

  42. Blackberries says:

    Team Fortress 2. It’s like a comfy pair of battered old slippers. Always warming and impossible to tire of.

    • Cooper says:

      Same here.

      Playing Heavy is that nice warm duvet for me. Put on some music, log in and just waste some hours.

  43. Joe Duck says:

    Bittrip Runner for me…

  44. Premium User Badge

    Mo says:

    I find that a good shmup helps me relax. The necessary twitch reactions and flashy effects takes my mind off my worries.

    Quake 3 Arena (and now, Quake Live) has a similar effect. Sometimes I play a rocket-heavy map with 16 bots and gleefully blow the crap out of them.

    Also: GTA2. Still the most fun GTA game for dramatic cop chases.

  45. sledge says:

    Legend of Kyrandia and OpenTTD :)

  46. SurprisedMan says:

    Monkey Island 2 fits the bill, for me. It’s my second favourite adventure game ever and I revisit it regularly for the unique, kind of inscrutable atmosphere it evokes. And the huge soundtrack, which I still think when taken as a whole is the most ambitious and rewarding piece of game music ever created. It takes me right back to the times when I was discovering that games could be something other than running and jumping on things’ heads.

    I’d say Grim Fandango, too, because that’s my favourite – I don’t just think it’s well written ‘for a game’ I think it’s well written full stop – there’s a sharpness in that dialogue which hasn’t blunted with age. If I want to get lost I love to revisit it – but it hasn’t been easy on modern computers until recently. This really needs a Steam re-release.

    Yeah, there’s nothing stressful about playing a good adventure game, especially when you know it so well that you remember most of the puzzles. If I leave them for a few years, I’m always surprised by a bit of dialogue I missed or forgot about, just as if I’m re-reading a great book.

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      Lambchops says:

      If you have any idea on how to sort the bug on Grim Fandango on modern PCs where the sound cuts out and never comes back I will love you forever.

      I tried for a long overdue return to it recently but just couldn’t get it running well enough. Which is a shame as the dialogue in even just the early parts is so wonderfully brilliant and reminded me how much I loved the game.

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    Rhygadon says:

    Titan Quest (with the Lilith mod, or recently sometimes the Underlord mod).
    Astral Tournament (the more perfect ancestor to Spectromancer).
    Gridrunner++ (the uncontested greatest trancelike-yet-shatteringly-hard shmup of all time).
    For a few years, it was logging into City of Heroes and playing the auction market for 15-30 minutes at a time, as a game unto itself — I still have upwards of 100 billion Inf and nothing to spend it on.
    Formerly King’s Bounty and its sequels, though after about 150 hours I found I had suddenly and definitively had enough of that.

  48. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Heh. My list is pretty much identical to your list. Currently it’s Dredmor, before that it was Terraria, which was preceded by Minecraft. I’ve lost interest in Minecraft completely at the moment, but I’m ready to return to Terraria as soon as the next patch hits.

    Also: Dredmor doesn’t update at all, at the moment. :(
    (Though it will again next month, when the developers have sorted out their money-troubles)

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    PoulWrist says:

    Doom. It never updates, but the fans do, and there’s somehow always something new out there.
    But there’s also Anarchy Online and I think It’ll remain my total chill-out oasis as long as it runs. So all you all go buy it and support my oasis :p

  50. Premium User Badge

    DigitalRaven says:

    City of Heroes. Whatever happens, I can jump in to the head of an invincible ninja robot and catch up with friends, squish some baddies, and generally chill out for a few hours. That’s why my account’s been active since the EU launch.