Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Five: Video Games of 2013

  • Ninety-nine percent of my gaming this year has taken place when I should been in bed. But that didn't stop me, even when it should have. These five games did the most to keep me from getting enough sleep this year. As always, this is a list of games were are important to me this year, not some kind of authoritative, objective list of the best games of the year.

  • Dark Souls - I've owned Dark Souls for close to two years now and I never beat it. The difference between this game and every other one in my collection is that I'm still trying to beat Dark Souls. I don't know that a game has ever gotten under skin the same way. No, I'm not playing it the "right way". I've read every wiki, forum, and guide I could find. I watched so many videos. But that doesn't mean anything when you have a controller in hand and have to execute everything you've learned. Dark Souls is an unforgiving teacher. And I love it dearly because of that.

  • Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan - When I played D&D, I was always the DM. I didn't mind. I liked getting friends together to play. But the part I didn't tell anyone about was that I really liked to make maps. EO4 is a gift to my map-marker heart. An old-school, Wizardry-style dungeon crawler, I haven't played a game like this since Might & Magic II and The Bard's Tale. Funny that a genre you might think long dead could be alive, well, and just as good as you remember from thirty years ago.

  • Gone Home - From the moment of heard about the Fullbright Company, I knew that I wanted to follow them. Gone Home was exactly what I hoped it would be. It seemed to be a direct response to everything I wanted out of Bioshock Infinite. I enjoyed wandering through the house, finding out what happened to my (Katie's) family over the last year, and hoping that I would find them okay. I can't wait to see what the team does in the future.

  • Saints Row IV - Considering how much I loved Saints Row The Third, there was no chance I would pass up SR4. Although in some ways it felt like an add-on to SR3, it ended up surpassing the older game in many ways. I would have trouble returning to Steelport without having access to superpowers any more. The game was pure joy from beginning to end.

  • World Of Warcraft (Private Server) - I make the distinction here because playing an MMO in a world with only one player is a very strange experience. The economy is non-functional and the several quests and characters are all kinds of buggy. But turning the nobs on the server to suit my needs, whether it is weakening elite mobs or turning up reputation gain (because screw reputation grinds), is really gratifying. No, it is not the same. But exploring an Azeroth that no longer exists (the server is set to patch 3.3.5a) is a different kind of treasure.

  • Honorabe mentions Super Hexagon and Bioshock Infinite came pretty close to making the list. It has been a very strange year for gaming, but I'm super happy to have such variety.

  • So, what were your favorite games this year?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Random Shots: The Year That Was 2013

  • If there is anything to take away from this year, it's that 2013 was complete and utter bullshit. I feel like I've gone twelve rounds with a heavyweight boxer and I'm ready for the punches to stop. That I'm still standing at the end of all this says something, if only that I survived.

  • Predictions
    • South Park: The Stick of Truth - "Prediction: I will forget to buy this until it's been out a week, but I'll finish it (because it's short) and like the story and humor quite a bit. Also, I'll play a female character just because I can. If I can."

      Hmm. So, same for 2014, I guess? After having watched actual footage of the game, I am anticipating it more.

    • Grand Theft Auto V - "Prediction: GTA V will be a week one purchase, though I'll look long and hard at the special edition before passing on it. I will play it a lot, but I fear I'll hang it up before finishing. Again."

      This one was pretty close. I actually picked GTA V up on day one. And although I stared longingly at the special edition, I was never in any jeopardy of buying it. Special editions are way outside of my price range now. And I did hang it up, though a lot earlier than I expected. Dark Souls drew all of my attention and didn't let go for weeks.

    • Tomb Raider - "Prediction: After reading reviews and hearing about it on the Bombcast, I won't even pick it up."

      This one is one hundred percent accurate. I even played my brother's copy for a couple hours and that wasn't enough to get me to buy it. Square announced a next-gen edition for PS4 that has me tempted, but don't hold me to anything.

    • BioShock Infinite - "Prediction: I won't pick up Infinite until there is a price drop. I'll play it for a little while before getting bored and moving on to the next shiny thing."

      Boy, I blew this prediction. Infinite ended up as a late minute preorder so that I could preload it through Steam. I played it all the way through to the end. And although I will loudly and profusely proclaim that I don't like shooters, I did enjoy it.

    • Gone Home - "Prediction: Will preorder and play for a few nights before beating it. Expect one blog post and a place in my Top Five this year."

      Gone Home ended up short enough to finish in one night, but everything else was right on. Top Five spoilers, I guess.

    • Next Xbox - Prediction: I'm currently planning to preorder and pick it up at launch. I'll probably only get a single game at first, but then own three or four by the end of the first month. My launch date predication: November 14, 2013!"

      Wow, did I really write that? I was off on the launch date by eight days, but I don't feel too bad about that. The funny thing is that, if you were to substitute "Next Xbox" with "PS4", this prediction would have been a lot more accurate. And there is no why that, twelve months ago, I would have seen myself buying a PlayStation at launch. What a difference a year makes!

  • The blog sure took a hit, especially since October. There was a lot of pain and a lot of loss this year. But there was also good times. Thank you all for being here for me, cheering me when I was down. I couldn't do it without you.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Random Shots: In Memoriam - 2013

  • Once again, it is time reflect on those we lost during 2013. And let us hope that 2014 is less ruthless.

    • Normand Corbeil, 56, composer for Quantic Dream, credits include Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls

    • Robin Sachs, 61, voice actor, credits include Mass Effect and Dragon Age

    • Kenji Eno, 42, game designer and musician, credits include D, Sega Rally 2, Newtonica, and Kimi to Boku to Rittai

    • Seung Hyun Park, 25, aka "Go)Space", professional Warcraft III player

    • Andrew Reisse, 33, co-founder of Oculus VR

    • Doug Engelbart, 88, inventor of the computer mouse, helped develop hypertext, computer networks, and graphical user interfaces

    • Hiro Isono, 68, artist and illustrator for Square, credits include Secret of Mana, Heroes of Mana, and Final Fantasy Adventure

    • Ryan Davis, 34, co-founder of Giant Bomb

    • Hiroshi Yamauchi, 85, president of Nintendo from 1949 until 2002, lead company in transition from a trading card company into a video game empire

    • Steve Morgenstern, journalist, founding editor of Atari Age

    • Mark Valentine, aka "h2orat", video artist for Cryptic Studios/Perfect World Entertainment, credits include Champions Online and Star Trek Online

    • Tom Clancy, 66, author of The Hunt For Red October and late Jack Ryan novels, co-founder of Red Storm Entertainment which produced the Rainbow Six series, lent his name to other Ubisoft series, such as Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon

    • Aaron Larry Hilden, 37, co-host of Drunken Gamers Radio podcast

    • Charles Bellfield, vice president of Sega of America, shepherded Dreamcast from launch and helped transition Sega to out of the hardware business
  • Be good to one another, because life is too short to spend it angry.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Random Shots: LotRO Finally Gets Around To Selling Levels

  • The big news of the day is that Turbine his finally caught up with the pack and will be selling levels in Lord of the Rings Online.

  • /yawn

  • Remember when we were all up in arms about horse armor? That only made tenth place in this list of the most egregious microtransaction items. And that was two years ago. It probably wouldn't make the top ten today.

  • The time has long passed when we should be surprised or shocked when a game company decides to pad its bottom line by flipping a few bits in a database. MMOs are broken and I don't blame developers for trying to fix them, even if they are charging for it.

  • If you are really curious, go read Syp's, Syncaine's, and TAGN's thoughts on the news. They are at least more interested in the topic.

  • /yawn Oh, sorry. I should really take a nap.

© 2013 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.