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.