Some Early New Year’s Resolutions

By Alec Meer on December 18th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

No, I don't know either, I just liked it

800×600, 1024x… no, no, kiiiiding. I do have a more serious point, which is that, while 2012 has been one of the best years ever for videogames, I do fear I’ve fallen into slightly bad habits over the year almost gone. That is to say I’ve too often defaulted to big fat mainstream games, both in my playing and my writing. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but I’d personally prefer more of a balance between the known and the unknown. There were a few breakthrough exceptions, but hey, the rest of the world played Hotline Miami and FTL too, so it didn’t need me telling them about it. I need to buck myself up, to range further outside what’s accidentally become something of a comfort zone.

So: here’s what I pledge to myself to do in 2013, and I hope you lot will help politely remind me of it if you see me posting too often about the latest trailer for Noisy Shooting Game IV.

1. Go online, you fool.

As games become ever-more designed with the internet in mind, I rather perversely seem to be inclining towards singleplayer games and more more and more. What am I so damn afraid of? I must strive to understand Dota 2 et al, I must not think of multiplayer modes as incidental side dishes I can safely ignore, and I must not flinch in the face of inevitable humiliation by strangers. I get insulted by people on the internet every day after all, and don’t pay it much heed – and unlike Johnny Random on some server, those guys know how to keep on pursuing with me with their naughtyswears.

2. Return to strategy, you cretin.

It’s been action games and RPGs all the way for me in 2012, with the arguable exception of XCOM – though that has at least as many elements of action and RPG as it does strategy. Strategy used to be my go-to genre, but I’ve let it grow fallow when there’s plenty of it out there. From Paradox and co’s grand strategy games to the apparently excellent Unity of Command, the Civ mod scene and accidentally-overlooked-by-us Wargame: European Escalation, to every single damned thing in Tim Stone’s consistently brilliant Flare Path column, there’s been no shortage of good things to look at. 2013 is when I return to tanks.

3. Don’t just play indie games from known devs, you feckless idiot.

With the sheer volume of indie games out there now (and that is only a wonderful thing) the wheat-chaff exercise is a mite harder than once was. I’ve let this guide me into paying far more attention to those from devs with a proven track record. Adam Smith has been particularly heroic at keeping up RPS’ coverage of the indie badlands, while Porpentine’s weekly free indie round-up Live Free, Play Hard is quietly one of the best things on the site. I must rejoin these noble comrades in their battle to bring unknown pleasures to the site, and I will.

4. Install Linux, you cowardly little sod.

I used to use Linux, and it was a whole lot less casual user-friendly five years ago than it apparently is now, so there’s nothing to stop me. Increasingly (if primarily because of Valve), it seems like Penguin country is an important new frontier for PC gaming, and I want to be sure I’m familiar with the lay of its wild land well before the potential revolution comes.

5. Don’t start any game diaries you aren’t 100% certain you can finish, you useless bloody dunderheaded bastard.

Yeah.

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76 Comments »

  1. jackthename says:

    Yeah the game diary thing must be a serious wound in your conscience.

    AND IF IT’S NOT IT SHOULD BE!

    Keep up the great work :)

  2. Kasab says:

    You could always dip your prehensile blubbernudgers back into that Arx Fatalis diary, as I’m sure we’d all love to see you faff about with the baking system. It’s really a pie-making sim. Then again, that was nearly two years ago. Perhaps I just have a grudge.

  3. Skabooga says:

    You could kill three birds with one stone and do one of those multiplayer strategy game diaries like what we had with Neptune’s Pride and Solium Infernum. Just saying, that would be ace.

  4. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    MOAR GAME DIARIES. Seriously. They are the post-type that most allows RPS writing to shine. Wot I Thinks are important and entertaining, but it’s the Game Diaries where RPS keeps its collection of hearts harvested from the orphans of the slums of the world.

  5. Soolseem says:

    I’m still patiently waiting for Adam to continue his Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam diary. Someday….

  6. gnodab says:

    >5. Don’t start any game diaries you aren’t 100% certain you can finish, you useless bloody >dunderheaded bastard.

    haha. no please do give us something i want my epic RPS diaries and with this prerequisite we wouldn’t get any. ever.

    Also 6. Record the RPS Electronic Wireless Show

  7. sinister agent says:

    If it helps, I’ve found that in the last year or two, playing online has become MUCH more tolerable. Even Planetside, with its enormous playerbase, has yet to provide me with a significantly bad experience. Although admittedly I play with voice off wherever possible.

  8. hypercrisis says:

    I would rather see the diaries end prematurely, than drag on into tedium. The XCOM diary was not particularly stimulating to read.

  9. MondSemmel says:

    For #2 (debatable) and #3, you can get a headstart on your resolution by creating a WiT for Defender’s Quest. There can be no excuse for 8 posts about Defense Grid on RPS, but only 4 about Defender’s Quest (and no WiT)! That game leads such a sad existence on metacritic: http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/defenders-quest-valley-of-the-forgotten – Universally great reviews, but just not enough of them…
    Imagine if some people made an essentially perfect tower defense game, and no one showed up to review it…

    Actually, I guess tower defense could be something of a blind spot on the RPS team? I guess lane defense/MOBAs/whatevers are another? Are there any others?
    Consider making another resolution to become more aware of these blind spots, and get an external contributor if none of the core team cares about the genre (which is perfectly fine).

    • finbikkifin says:

      I doubt they’re the only ones to ignore TDs – I skim past mentions of them like I do MOBAs and Hidden Object games. There’s such an endless flood of new TD games that I just don’t care any more, especially on iOS. The last one I played and enjoyed was Immortal Defense, and I’d be sad if I missed something that good now, but I just can’t be bothered to get into a genre full of shovelware, and don’t have good sources to find out about hot new TD games that are worth playing for someone who isn’t obsessed with them.

      Maybe RPS should do a weekly feature with a bunch of writers focusing on their pet relatively-obscure genres? I’d be interested enough to read a paragraph or two about the hot new time management games, or endless runners, or whatever. They still come out on PC right?

    • qrter says:

      Yes. Defender’s Quest is the one game I’ve been really sad to see RPS ignore (well, since its release, to be fair). And it’s such a great little game, should be right up RPS’ (and its readerships’) street.

    • NathanH says:

      It is a bit of a crime that this game isn’t going to be featured in the advent calendar. Definitely a highlight of the year.

  10. Adekan says:

    >5. Don’t start any game diaries you aren’t 100% certain you can finish, you useless bloody >dunderheaded bastard.

    Alternatively, just don’t label them as part of a series. I’ve never been too upset when they don’t finish as it’s nice just to hear anything at all of your experiences with a game.

    Hell, I can barely finish a game myself and I’ve got loads of free time to do it in, and don’t have to write hilarious words about it. I don’t think anyone here holds it against you when you can’t finish something.

  11. Bob_Bobson says:

    Hardcore mode is one way of making it easier to complete game diaries on account of the way your playthrough can end suddenly, but in a way that gives the diary closure.

  12. finbikkifin says:

    3. Don’t just play indie games from known devs, you feckless idiot.

    Me too. I have been getting better though! It helps that I’m following Porpentine’s blog and some other indie stuff, so I’ve actually heard of the games she posts about, but I need to get around to actually playing more of them. :(

    Live Free, Play Hard is one of the top two or three features on RPS for me, these days. Long may it continue.

  13. Kradziej says:

    But, Alec! If you only started the diaries you were sure were capable of finishing, you wouldn’t have written any diaries at all!
    :(

  14. Om says:

    “Go online, you fool”

    Nooooo! As a singleplayer hold-out, I cannot tell you how annoying it is to read of a really interesting concept on RPS and then see at the bottom that ‘XFACE will be an MMO’. There is much gnashing of teeth in my house

    • P7uen says:

      Ironically, I will work alongside you chaps on the internet to support Alec being a scared singleplayer man and never work alongside internet people.

      Planetside is the only foray into online for me, aside from private co-op with mates like Borderlands 2.

      Forever alone.

  15. Sigh says:

    >>>>>>>>1. Go online, you fool.

    As games become ever-more designed with the internet in mind, I rather perversely seem to be inclining towards singleplayer games and more more and more.>>>>>>>

    I have had the exact same feeling lately, but I don’t quite have the fear element. It could be due to a couple of reasons: I am getting older, I have less free time, I have a family…it all boils down to Time being the rarest resource of the equation. I used to love online Multiplayer matches/components and would gleefully pour hours of a day into that large cauldron. But as gaming time becomes rarer online multiplayer just feels like a treadmill to me regardless if it is the blurry undefined creature that is Planetside 2 or the tidy contained ticket-based experiences of Battlefield 3. All of it starts feeling like a meaningless treadmill. I still get pulled into that mode once in a while, but I usually walk away from it thinking I would have rather unraveled a bit more of a story or committed myself to learning a complex wargame (board or PC) which is a pure unadulterated joy of mine. My overall feeling after finishing a long online multiplayer session is nearly identical to viewing porn…I walk away with a fuzzy impression of guilt and a soft conviction that it was an exercise in futility.

    I have been more drawn to singleplayer immersive experiences: either ones where I progress through a narrative, interact with an open world, or meddle with a complex simulation (think strategy/wargames). Those have been some of my richest experiences this year. Games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and The Witcher set and maintain a particular mood that delivers a lasting impression…moments of those games, and others, still live with and haunt me months later. Most multiplayer matches are adrenaline spikes, but are forgettable interchangeable experiences and reside in my memories as a blur of frenetic action and simplified emotional responses.

    Just to be clear the above is my own personal subjective thoughts and is not meant to be a reflection on the current state of the industry or anything like that.

  16. Sander Bos says:

    Hmmm, I actually made a game related new year’s resolution yesterday, but did not even realize it was a new year’s resolution till I read this post.

    But anyway: What I decided yesterday was that I would no longer put up with checkpoint games. I will still install and start playing them, but as soon as I hit one instance where I have to replay the same stupid 15 minutes I had just been playing during the last 15 minutes, it’s uninstall without a second thought.

    I have been incredibly frustrated recently with games like saints row III and bad company 2 (saints row III even introduces a new advance in checkpointing mechanisms, “you are dead, now we make you replay the last 15 minutes of the game, unless you quit now, then we make you replay the last 30 minutes of the game on the next startup, because we just really really hate you”). No more.

  17. FRITZY says:

    Don’t underestimate RPS’s influence in getting people aware of FTL and Hotline Miami. This blog is why I played those.

    Speaking of which, whatever happened to “There’s No Time To Explain?”

  18. Rise / Run says:

    First, thank you for ending each of your numbered points with a period rather than that other over-excitable mark of punctuation.

    In any case, re: 1) Go online, you fool. While it’s always great to find a new online game, I tend to spend most of my online/networked time on a couple of things with a relatively close-knit group. I personally love to find new single-player games, especially given the degree to which I travel these days. Since single-player gems are, by their nature, less likely to have an actively networked community, they may be harder to come upon for the Common Man, Woman, or Necromancer. So please don’t forget us.

    Otherwise, danke, and keep up the good work!

    (Edit: I think the above exclamation is valid in this case).

    (Double edit: ninja’d above Oh well).

  19. Richie Shoemaker says:

    You could try out Linux on that Raspberry Pi doo-dah? I have one but it’s waiting under the tree for my boy to discover it. I’m hoping much father/son bonding will ensue.

  20. Vinraith says:

    2-5 are all good.

    1 is up to you, of course, but in my experience it’s not a matter of being “afraid,” it’s just that playing games with strangers is basically never fun. That’s true of board games and it’s true of video games. Being as the whole point of playing games is entertainment, there’s little sense in pushing yourself to play them in a way you don’t find entertaining. Playing with friends, of course, is something else altogether, but I don’t get the impression that’s what you’re talking about.

    • qrter says:

      I really dislike online gaming, exactly for the reasons you mention, but I can see why a games journalist would think it’d perhaps be a good idea to spend at least a bit of time on all aspects of gaming.

      • malkav11 says:

        Why? There are plenty of games journalists that already enjoy, play, and cover online gaming. Not everyone needs to be into everything.

  21. Sigh says:

    This is also the year that I realized that I no longer want to be part of “The Conversation” surrounding games or even peer in from the periphery.

    Again, maybe I have gotten older, jaded, or matured, but I increasingly dislike the communities, culture, blogs, forums, and angry internet people that circle around gaming like vultures arguing about and dissecting every aspect of every game (RPS, 3MA, and GWJ excluded). The less I read about games the purer, more surprising, and better my experience is with the raw content of the game itself. Too many times the glut of reviews and players dissecting games on forums have colored my experience with a game. How many “weak” games as decided by the collective wisdom of the internet would I actually have enjoyed if I had not followed the relevant “Conversation”. I know that is a weird question to ask, but I find that I am increasingly shielding myself from gaming culture and abandoning much of the medium’s avenues of discourse.

    This is probably the wrong place to impart this, but perhaps not since I still value RPS. Maybe other people have had similar feelings…perhaps the older cantankerous of our number?

    • Martel says:

      If it makes you feel better RPS is pretty much the only gaming site I still frequent, and most definitely the only one I read the comments on.

    • f_zul says:

      I share this opinion. Among all the trash and abuse sometimes there are a couple of reasonable statements, but is it worth it to make a way through the whole thing again and again?

  22. Dances to Podcasts says:

    “Don’t start any game diaries you aren’t 100% certain you can finish, you useless bloody dunderheaded bastard.”

    You could just finish them before you start posting them…

  23. PopeRatzo says:

    I swear I’m trying to play more indie games, but the skill threshold seems a whole lot higher. I’ve only been able to manage a few levels of Hotline Miami because my reflexes are apparently not up to it. And side-scrolling and top-down games make me feel sad for some reason.

    I hate it now that I feel guilty about not enjoying indie and free-to-play games as much as the rest of you. On top of thinking most games suck, I’m feeling guilty. Great.

    I really like Far Cry 3, though. And Burnout Most Wanted. But those aren’t indie games so I’m guilty about that, too.

    • Sander Bos says:

      Many Indiegames have only one difficulty level,and then it’s usually very hard. I think it’s logical, there are less resources to build the right difficulty, and the game will be targeted at a niche of hard core players.

      Hotline Miami was an especially painful example, like you I only managed a few levels, once the rooms started filling up with baddies it was over, I think on chapter three.

      But there are also great counter examples like super meat boy which is ver hard, but at least let you experience some of the content, also to get you into the game, and leave the harder challenges as options.

      But I don’t sgare your feeling of guilt in any way. It is a fact that gamers have different levels of prowess, if the game maker decides to only target one segement of gamers, then well the other segments of gamers should naturally leave said game in the cold…

  24. captain nemo says:

    I’ll toast to that ! Hear, hear !

  25. PopeJamal says:

    You might want to add:

    6. Be nicer to myself because, damnit, I deserve it.

    :)

    As for me, I’m pledging to jump seriously into mobile gaming. But “real” gaming, not the puzzle-bird stuff. Proper FPS titles, adventures and platformers. There seem to be a handful of things out there so far and honestly, it’s damn cheap compared to full retail PC gaming or even consoling.

  26. mr.ioes says:

    You should totally bring back the shotcasts.

  27. pilouuuu says:

    Haha why are you so harsh on yourself? Games are meant to be enjoyed! My resolution is that one. Trying to have as much fun as I can with games. And in life in general.

  28. malkav11 says:

    In regards to #1: There’s no reason to do this. Certainly, if you enjoy multiplayer gaming, go ahead and do it, and write about it. But multiplayer is very much ignorable, even if the publishers seem bizarrely eager to thrust it at us at great and unprompted expense. And if it’s fun at all, it’s a very different sort of fun from the solitary gaming experience and not for everyone. I know I’ve tried it and it is in no way for me.

  29. Rian Snuff says:

    Related to Linux.. Something I recently did on my secondary computer was install Android on a partition so I could enjoy all the free android apps and games / use skype and stuff from there. It’s really fun and I’ve been learning a lot. Theres also a TON of indie games to enjoy. Just be VERY careful with the GRUB loader if you use it. Be sure to learn how to properly uninstall the OS / Grub and don’t just format it. Check out Android-X86, it’s wicked. If you’re clever enough theres even versions with Ethernet support. It’s A LOT OF FUN. Oh yeaa.
    I simply mounted a screenless laptop to the back of a 23′ to do so, using a wireless keyboard/mouse and a wiimote for retro games. Uniwar is a wicked fun turn based strategy game you could check out for Android. : P Right, peace.

    • Gap Gen says:

      A second piece of advice on Linux – be super wary of using Wubi. It worked fine when I installed it at first, but upgrading caused it to become unusable (a process called mount.ntfs ground the system to a halt every time you did anything vaguely intensive with the hard drive, a problem that as far as I can tell remains unfixed). If you intend to try Linux, install to a clean partition or install it on an old computer that you don’t mind wiping and starting from scratch.

      Ubuntu 12.04 seems pretty clean and stable, but you’ll probably still have to go into the command line from time to time (although once you start using the command line, going back to Windows and having to manually do stuff to files by clicking and dragging will seem like a huge chore).

  30. haleha says:

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  31. tinafey says:

    my co-worker’s ex-wife makes $73 hourly on the internet. She has been without work for 9 months but last month her check was $21030 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more here http://www.fly38.com

  32. particlese says:

    Once the non-mod version of Day Z arrives, you could do a game diary on that, which would check the “multiplayer” box and will easily let you finish the diary if you set the finish line at “when I die”. Day Z stories have been some of my favorite game diaries, though part of that was due to the alpha oddities typically encountered along the way.

    And here’s another #6: More Rock Paper Sexcast!

  33. nimzy says:

    My New Year’s Resolution for this year was to stop drinking soda. That went pretty well, actually. It’s the first resolution I’ve ever succeeded in keeping. In 2013 it’s going to be to cut down on the time I spend playing games. Presently I play games so often I don’t have any time for other hobbies, and that needs to change. It’s time to get working on item #2 on my bucket list, which is “Make my own game.” (#1 was “Help make a major video game,” and I crossed that off in October 2010 when Lego Universe was launched.)

  34. drewski says:

    Spend more time playing games and less time reading about games is my resolution.

  35. Daniel Klein says:

    Let me argue against number 5!

    Start all the things you don’t know you can finish! Fuck around! We understand abandoning stuff. We do it daily, on smaller scales, with less important things. I’d rather have 3 dangling episodes of the Worlds Most Inept Football Manager than none at all. Experiment! If you’re not finishing something, maybe it’s because the something wasn’t good to start with, and you needed three episodes to find out? Then again maybe it’s because you’re a lazy person who will only get coals. WHO KNOWS!

    Santa. That’s who.

  36. Kamos says:

    No, don’t go online! It is a silly place. There are very few reasons why you’d want to do it:

    1) You want “cheapest gold $19.99=100g ^_^” in between your epic storyline
    2) You want to frag/get fragged by random people
    3) You want to be called a noob by 11 year olds

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