We (almost) made it around the Sun once more. I don’t do retrospectives mainly because my memory is absolute crap and I don’t have any idea what happened yesterday nevermind what happened 6 months ago or 10 years ago, but here’s a vague reflection in broad strokes.
The end of the year always brings with it a reliable sense of finality. Although completely arbitrary, the impending swap of the calendar feels to me like a dead-end of an alleyway. December 31st is a barrier not so much preventing us from reaching January 1st, but rather like a hard line in the sand. There’s no difference between these two days; if we’re lucky, we’ll all go to bed on the last day of 2019 and wake up on the first day of 2020 and we’ll keep on doing what we’ve always been doing: surviving, hoping to thrive.
In the Game-o-Sphere, I am feeling a bit winded right now. My Big Triumph this year has been to complete The Outer Worlds, my first completion in quite a while. After that milestone, it’s been a rapid and long slide down-hill, it seems, and with that looming wall inherent in the changing of the year, I don’t seem to be able to identify anything to grab in order to stop the slide.
There’s not a lot on my plate right now that is allowing me to feel that I’m ending the year on a high note. Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries is a mediocre disappointment. GTFO, while promising, demands a level of critical mass that I haven’t been able to achieve yet. I still have Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory to get through, though I wiped on the very end of the last mission I played and am not looking forward to re-starting it. Oddly enough, EVE Echos on the iPad has enormous potential, and I just started Black Desert Mobile this morning and that seems pretty decent.
I’m just now waking up to the reality that my long-time passion for MMOs has been severely curtailed over the past ten years. MMOs make demands of us that fall into two categories: bring friends or make friends. Because of the time commitment needed for these types of games, I’ve been hard-pressed to find a game to which I can bring friends, and my ability and willingness to make friends hasn’t really picked itself up off the floor where it’s been laying for the past few decades. Even my “involvement” in a Star Citizen corporation has been flagging over the past few months, and I’ve considered jumping ship. Replacing the MMO, then, has been a rekindled interest in smaller, more intimate games, and oddly enough, games from smaller studios. I’ve never been a fan of the “indie aesthetic” that seems to focus on platformers or faux-retro, but the last few years have seen a lot of diversity in terms of output in the sub-AAA game space that I have been enjoying a lot. On occasion, I’ll push or adopt a smaller multiplayer title that my friends and I can agree on, but they’re very much into the mil-sim/shooter life, which I really don’t care for unless there’s some “trick” to it (which is why GTFO is waiting in the wings as less of a shooter and more of a “clusterfuck simulator”).
Looking ahead, the only Big Deal that I can conjure to mind at this young hour is Cyberpunk 2077, and I’ve since cooled dramatically on that as their PR has been so overwhelming that I’m a bit sick of it, to be honest. I’m sure there are a few titles out there that I’d raise an expectant eyebrow to if I was handed a list of releases in 2020. I always have the slow march of Star Citizen patches which I always look forward to, and my interest in that has never wained. To some degree, I have decided to put most of my eggs in the Star Citizen basket — for good or for ill — and maybe that’s ruined the rest the market for me.
I also blame my ongoing, swinging-between-low-level-and-all-consuming interest in VFX and motion graphics for my ennui when it comes to gaming. This is a hobby that’s next to impossible to participate in as a hobby on account of the steep cost of entry, but I have been trying to make stuff work with what little I have. The results have been both disappointing and glorious, which has both dashed and kindled faith that maybe…maybe…I could really get into this as more of a hobby if I only had the right tools, time, and participation. Even as I wrote that, though, I know my chances are slim to none…maybe.
I have also decided to finally put a bullet in the head of any ambition I might have harbored when it comes to live-streaming. This is not a gig you can half-ass; it’s not even a job you can 9/10ths ass. I have learned that in order to be even the slightest bit successful you have to turn your entire online presence into a self-promotion machine. You have to pay your dues and submit to being the low-streamer on the ladder, join a collective that supports you, and always be hustling. Always. My intermittent schedule and fluctuating desire to be live and on-screen did me no favors, and there’s a whole truckload of other factors I can lazily point the finger at (my game choices, my age, an unsupportive community, etc), but I guess the bottom line is that I enjoyed the mechanics of streaming far more than the streaming itself. So if any up-and-coming streamer is looking for someone to bully them into what to buy for a setup, I’m your man!
Well, folks are trickling into the office now, so I guess that means that it’s time to start “working” on this Friday before the week where I begin my last vacation of 2019. Although I feel up against this end-of-the-year wall once again as before, I remain hopeful for the coming year. Looking over the edge I can only see vague shapes of what’s to come, and I prefer to think of them as things to look forward to rather than things to fear or be upset about.