"I Need to do X before I can do Y"

Does anyone else feel a weird type of psychological compulsion where there are things you Must Do In Order To Do Other Things? I‘m thinking particularly of my hobbies. i.e. I started playing Hardspace Shipbreaker last weekend for a bit, and I’ve wanted to jump back into it all week; however I am also currently trying to finish reading Dune before the movie comes out (I‘m not a very fast reader). So all week I’ve been like “No, I Cannot play Hardship Spacebreaker; I Must Finish Dune First.”

I also get this with my "backlog" of games, like I will find a game that looks neat and think I should play it but then I go "No, I Must First Finish Baldur's Gate 3" or whatever the heck. It's not always like this though, if there's something I *really* wanna do I'll just do it or start playing it or reading it but sometimes it gets in the way and it feels weird.

Anyone else got this? How do you manage it?

I do 100% do this. And no, I don‘t know how to manage it, lol. Although I did have some success recently with letting myself enjoy the good thing Now. I’ve been reading some dc comics from around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths and I gave myself a reading list that charts a course through a few different characters I‘m interested in. The problem is that some of those old comics can get a little stale 50 issues in. So I set up an escape valve for myself where at any point I was losing interest, I promised myself I would read the proven good Gaiman Sandman. And it worked! I got bored during a Teen Titans storyline and switched to Sandman and I’m excited about comics again.

Oh god yeah, I‘m like this to the extreme. I’ve even got different hobbies intermingling their priority lists: “I need to watch X first so then I can play Y which will help inform me how to write Z.” An example of this might be needing to watch Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro so I can informedly play Castlevania III so I can design a clock tower stage in a game I‘m working on during my off-hours. I think my situation is that I just value the history of little cultural touchstones like this too much, and feel like to properly “get” something I need to understand its own influences first. It makes for some fun romps and I definitely come out the other end with broader cultural understanding, but i do feel a little beholden to this behavior, and maybe wind up enjoying myself less than if I just did the thing I wanted to do in the first place (the clock tower example I gave does not exactly exemplify this since watching Castle of Cagliostro and playing Castlevania III are pretty short commitments that happen to be enjoyable to me either way). None of my friends have this habit and seem to think it’s strange when it presents itself in front of them.

More to your point, I definitely do wind up stuck in these "media relationships" as well. Beginning an RPG partway through another feels like adultery. The only "management" I've been able to maintain is remembering the phrase "[if it sucks, hit the bricks](https://x.com/dasharez0ne/status/979810839749210112?s=20)," which at least allows me to back out once I decide I've seen enough of something I'm not especially caring for.

I have practiced just letting shit go, but heaven forbid if you try to get me to play a video game I am not ready to play yet. I have to play things in the right context or else

This is a brain or personality type thing that I know a lot of folks have, and I‘ve wondered how to help folks with it. Some people drop anything as soon as they’re bored (like frank!) others have to do everything to completion in an order (like I this thread) where I‘m somewhere in the (I try to finish movies "in case there’s something interesting" but if they're fully awful I stop).

I wonder if it would help to know how accidentally, incidentally, and without intention most art is created? Most stuff is finished because a deadline deemed it necessary. Most stuff didn't have much of a preproduction process and just got up and running to the finish line. Like lupin iii castle of cagliostro, that's kind of an auteur piece, sure. Castlevania iii on the other hand was essentially slapped together in a few months so there could be another castlevania.

Does that help? Does that not help? I am curious!

It has taken me a long time, but I have managed to transition myself from being unable to drop anything until it is done to now being considerably more Frank-like.

I'll still watch a "bad" movie (read: one I'm not really enjoying) to completion since the time investment feels low enough. Also, I feel like there is something to gain by watching these films: I can help build an internal understanding of _why_ I like the ones I do, by analysing my response towards the ones I do not.
I don't, however, feel there is similar merit in pushing all the way through a 20 or 50 hour long game playthrough in the same way. I've likely made those discoveries in the first handful of hours and have taught myself to just move on.

As for strict ordering of things, I'm far less likely to worry about that in recent times also. I am by no means saying any particular method of approaching media is the "right" way to do it -- but I have realised that if I stop putting these mental barricades up for myself I am far more likely to have a good time with some new (to me) game, or book, or film.

I suppose my only advice here to anyone would be to try and stop yourself from making a chore out of your leisure activities, whatever they may be. If you _like_ "doing the research" and playing everything in a series in release order (for example) then go for it! ...but if you _hate_ it but feel compelled because "that's the way it is supposed to be" then, at least just once, allow yourself the treat of not doing that and just playing (or reading, or watching) the New Thing that piqued your interest. Try to be mindful of it and think about how you feel afterwards. Maybe this will help break the pattern, or maybe you'll realise you really do like the way you've been approaching media thus far.

@“rejj”#p153331 yeah, well articulated! This is what I was trying to imply but didn't quite get to.

I find it‘s often just as fun to make connections backward – you like something new, and then go back and discover all the ways it was influenced by works from the past. There’s no “proper” order to anything and the connections you discover are just as valuable back-to-front as front-to-back.

We are born into the world right in the middle of everything, with all this art from the past and present surrounding and influencing us before we even know it, so any rigid ordering just feels a bit artificial. I understand wanting to do "research" (for fun), but even then, I don't think experiencing the works in strict chronological order is that important, since they all end up floating around all muddled in your brain anyway.

(The above is mostly in response to @Funbil 's comment.)

As for the OP, I sometimes get this way, but I tend to alleviate it by just having a lot of stuff on the go at once. If something really piques my interest, I'll just start it up alongside whatever I have going on, and when I sit down to read or play a game, I'll just pick whichever strikes my fancy at that particular moment. I tend to have 3-4 games at various levels of completion (some of which might sit around for months before I pick them up again -- like my 18-months-and-counting playthrough of Persona 3 and my I-play-this-for-a-week-every-six-months playthrough of Shenmue...) and I occasionally end up in the incredibly stupid situation of having 6-7 books on the go, which leads to its own set of problems (but also its own variety of fun as I end up discovering a lot of weird connections between them all) and generally I do eventually have to hunker down and just start *finishing* some stuff, which I also find fun so... you know what, it's all fun. I just like doing stuff I guess.



@“wickedcestus”#p153335 I’ll just pick whichever strikes my fancy at that particular moment.

This is exactly what I can't do, leaving one of the other things I have incomplete gives me anxiety, like a feeling that I'm never gonna go back to it and finish it. I understand rationally that there's no reason why I can't pick it back up again later but the feeling prevails.

@“dixego”#p153359 is there a way to move toward the idea that not everything is worth finishing? Because a whole lot of stuff just isn‘t, and sometimes there really isn’t any creative intent behind something, nothing to dig into below the surface. And what would happen if you started a live service game like clash Royale, for example? That is designed to have no end!


@“dixego”#p153359 This is exactly what I can’t do, leaving one of the other things I have incomplete gives me anxiety, like a feeling that I’m never gonna go back to it and finish it.

I can relate to this completely as I used to be that way. It all boiled down to one thing: closure. If I started any kind of media I needed to get to the end of it as I needed closure on it, simple as that.

Then at some point, I can't tell you when, I realised the closure was just me accepting it was done at whatever point I left it at, regardless of it was finished or not. I had what I wanted out of it and just because I didn't finish it, doesn't mean to me it wasn't finished.

It's easy to say I know, and a lot harder to put into practice and I never start anything with the mentality of "well I'll never finish this" as you go in already defeated. Just go into it with "let's see where this goes for me" and you'll find you can accept it a lot easier when it's done, whichever point that is. If you want to go back to it you can because you want to, not because you feel compelled to. And if leads to another path as you discover something new, it can still be part of the whole thing, not an end to one.

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I’m pretty bad at this. My personality is very pattern and goal based, so it kind of makes sense.

I’m also big on all or nothing stuff like if I replay a game it often spirals into a series replay. Like I recently replayed MGS Twin Snakes, which lead to me wanting to replay the PS1 MGS to compare it back to back. Which spiraled into an entire month of replaying the entire series. I haven’t played a couple of newer games because I had to finish all those replays.

For the most part it’s not bad, just an idiosyncrasy. But the unhealthy aspect is I’ll get fixated on completing things I’m not even into, out of obligation. For instance, I wasn’t super into FF VII Remake and a big part of me wants to pass on Rebirth, but I feel a tremendous sense of obligation and curiosity. I’m a mega FF VII fan, I played the first part…how can I not?

I do this but specifically inside each medium. I can be in the middle of a book while catching up on some manga, plus following a TV show on top of what I‘m playing at the time, but if I start anything else in each of those “slots” I struggle severely to see both things to completion and most of the times I’ll just stop doing one. I just have limited bandwidth in that sense, weirdly enough! Never thought of it as strange but now that I put it into words it does feel oddly arbitrary, I guess my brain needs some structure but I'm able to compartmentalize somewhat.

I can feel this way about a thread. I momentarily felt compelled to read every reply here before posting, even though I immediately had thoughts I needed to get down, so I had to override that to get something down before I forgot it.

I posted a thread very similar to this topic awhile back about [pecking at games](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/2234-on-pecking-at-games-having-many-on-the-go-and-leaving-things-unfini). I have like a million games, shows, books—not so much movies but I did recently see *My Dinner with Andre* (1981), the *Dark City* (1998) director's cut (2008) and *Trick* (1999) and had to do them all in more than one sitting which I haven't been able to keep from annoying me—and albums I've started and haven't finished but I'm much cooler with the landscape of such a media diet since I started that thread. It wouldn't try a bite of my friend's meal and then get anxious about not experiencing the whole dish myself, would I? Isn't sampling varied works more broadening than focusing on only what you have time to finish? Also consider the extended time it takes to finish something you're really not into and dragging your heels on.

Closer to your topic: I would really like to get into *Suikoden*, but I gave myself the homework of familiarizing myself with *The Water Margin*. This was such silly overkill. I rounded up the two movies, a TV series and the translation of the original story that I wanted to soak up before playing any of the games and in doing so gave myself such a task that was bound to outlast the interest I had in the moment. This probably made me disappointed in myself for dropping off after the first movie—which I enjoyed a lot. This could have been a fun side thing to rely on in between games or play sessions—I didn't need to frontload this RPG with homework. So I don't know what the takeaway from this situation is besides it's good to be casual or something, and that listening to your whims isn't a bad thing. If you want to play something right now, play it. It might lead to other whims!

I used to feel like I needed to play a game series in order from the first one. I tried doing this with *Yakuza*, and was recommended to start with *0*. I kind of think that's awful advice because of how big that game is—and I also really don't like the idea that a series needs to be enjoyed in its in-world chronological order. You **can** read the *Foundation* trilogy before *Prelude to Foundation*, ***Dad***. So anyway, I dropped *0* because I really wasn't enjoying myself, and then after a little research something I'd heard about *Yakuza 3* made me interested in what that entry had to offer. I started playing it without so much as touching 1 or 2, and you know what? I'm enjoying it. It even feels kind of rebellious in a petty sort of way.

This is also part of a broader self-improvement mission I've been on to just get what I want or need by whatever valid means are available. A big barrier for me is asking other people for help, since I was conditioned not to. But often you really need to get something done and the quickest way is to ask someone for help instead of toiling all by yourself to exhaustion. I'm thinking of big, real world survival kinds of predicaments where the simplest solution presented to you might be the best one, so long as it doesn't violate your system of values. In the case of media consumption where the stakes are so much smaller and comparatively frivolous, why the hell not just enjoy yourself? Do you think the people who made your games understood all the influences of their favourite creators? Are you trying to be a historian or express yourself through a medium here? This isn't directed at you @Funbil, your post just got me thinking of these questions, because I also do the same to some extent.


@“exodus”#p153317 I wonder if it would help to know how accidentally, incidentally, and without intention most art is created? Most stuff is finished because a deadline deemed it necessary. Most stuff didn’t have much of a preproduction process and just got up and running to the finish line.

The intention of creation is an interesting path to consider. Relating it to _Castlevania III_, I can see how this lens might make it seem less "necessary" – though at the same time, the balance of inspiration and impact are rarely aligned. Many Classic-vania enjoyers point to _III_ as being at least within the top half of their rankings, if not within the top three spots. The impact it's had on its little corner of culture (and sure, it is quite a tiny corner) is stronger than whatever capitalistic intentions it may have been created with (which itself is speculative in the first place). What I'm saying is that it's a grey zone that's hard to enforce. "Its creators didn't care that much, so I shouldn't either" – but what about everyone else? And shoot, to open it up further – maybe I'll find myself loving something not loved by its creator! I can't say exactly how much SEGA cared about _Ninja Princess_ in 1985 but I sure love that thing. I'm sure others here feel similarly about tons of stuff. It's tricky. Let me know if I'm misunderstanding your point too, because there's certainly a chance I might be.


@“wickedcestus”#p153335 I don’t think experiencing the works in strict chronological order is that important, since they all end up floating around all muddled in your brain anyway.

I like this way of thinking about it. I remember back when I was a teenager being upset with the scrict linearity of language because my thoughts were not linear, they expanded kaleidoscope-like and required the context of all others for one to make sense. At least, so I thought. Obviously here I am still speaking in coherent linear sentences anyways. I guess this is a little like that; maybe you don't remember the exact order of every single word I said in this paragraph, but you do remember the point they all made together. Experiences melt; art is experiences; art melts.


@“connrrr”#p153395 This isn’t directed at you @Funbil, your post just got me thinking of these questions, because I also do the same to some extent.

I haven't taken anything anyone has said regarding my post as any kind of potshot, we're all approaching these concepts from different directions and it's been a great conversation to see unfurl. Seems like we all have some sort of experience with this either first- or second-hand, but the ways it impacts us or the ways we consider it are all colored by our distinct personalities. I love seeing the diversity of that. The questions you asked, as well as posing it against how we act in "survival predicaments," is a fascinating perspective which I'll probably be chewing on for a while.

Maybe one of the most daunting ones is feeling like I must play Drag-on Dragoon aka Drakkengard before I touch Nier Automata.

I don't need any help though! I like myself and do everything mindfully and with intention!
I don't always feel the need to do X before Y or let it get in my way. Some may notice I break my own rules a lot!

I Don't see it as a handycap, just a deep awareness of myself, what I enjoy, and what I'm in the mood for.
For me it's a very intuitive and feelings-oriented process. Does that make sense to anyone?

@“treefroggy”#p153429 Drakengard has next to nothing to do with Nier: Automata. You don't have to do this! The first Drakengard is downright painful to play through. Just watch a youtube recap. Skip to Drakengard 2, which is actually fun.

Anyway I'm lucky enough to not have this problem I guess. I just follow the dopamine lol. If something starts to suck I generally just give it up, though I am getting better at this as my brain has healed and improved over the years.

I definitely struggle with this sort of thing. I have a hard time moving back and forth between things, with one of them usually ending up forgotten, and so I‘ve learned to focus on one thing at a time to the exclusion of most other things. This also complicates things like research for projects I want to do, in that I know I usually won’t come back to something if I move on to something else

This also means I'll sometimes finish video games I'm not enjoying (hello, _FFXVI_) because I think, "what if it actually has a really satisfying conclusion, and I'll never know if I don't finish?"

All of this has contributed to my sitting on the knowledge that I want to write about and analyze a handful of different video games, but each of them requires engaging with a list of other games and research, all of which I feel compelled to be deeply thorough about (and that's before even considering things like whether or not I want to "write" in the form of video content or not and plenty of other questions)

I've slowly been trying to untangle all of this, because I definitely need to build the hill that I'm going to die on with regards to _FFXIII_ by actually getting the writing done about it, but it's definitely work doing that!

@“Andy B”#p159869 but painful to play and has nothing to do with nier sounds fun, like I‘d like it more than nier even cause it’s weird.

I have it installed on my PS2 so sometime I‘ll boot her up. But I’m on hiatus right now. If I become really thirsty for a PC game I'll try Nier after I finish the others I have cooking.

Aw, Drakengard 1 isn‘t so bad. It’s got some wild story stuff and the weapons are fun to play around with. I‘ve played through it a couple times* and I maxed out a bunch of weapons each time. You can actually stick to Caim’s Sword and play the whole game with it, but there's a lot of variety if you want it. The music is kind of loud and ugly in a way I appreciate.

*I actually have never beaten the final, final level. The black and white part.