Seriously, though, didn’t summer just start a couple weeks ago? Anyway, the year is over and that list of things I was going to do this year is now on the garbage heap. I’ve been in my usual end-of-year winter hibernation mode. Thankfully, just like last year, it’s been fairly modest winter temperatures.
Otherwise, I don’t have much to write about, as I’ve been doing a lot of nothing. My year-end summary is that it’s been a decent year for me, relative to previous years, although I’ve reached an age where I always feel like I’m one doctor appointment away from finding out I have a terminal illness, so I hesitate to gloat too much.
By the way, I gave up on IAWriter already, because it’s so buggy I think it was ruining the trackpad on my MacBook Pro.
Stop the presses: I played Baldur’s Gate 3 again after two and a half months off, resuming my game where I left off in Act 3. Now that I’ve tempered my expectations and anticipate nothing happening for the rest of the game except wandering aimlessly amid a sea of pointless NPCs while the thrilling conclusion of the story waits in some distant unknowable future even though I’m literally in Act 3 (the place I understood to be the traditional location where stories and games are supposed to accelerate to an exciting conclusion, not mash on the brakes), I stumbled into a long string of fights one after another. At press time I think I’m nearing the end of the Lower City, as I’ve dealt with Gortash, and I’m about to deal with Orin. Could the end of the game finally be in sight? After over 250 hours according to Steam? Is this the longest game in gaming history? (It’s probably not nearly this long if you focus on the story instead of combat, but each encounter is quite meaty if you play on Tactician difficulty.)
Since I play without any kind of game guide, I continue to accidentally kill almost every important NPC, because the game never warns you about making mistakes. It’ll be a miracle if I have any allies by the end. Also, incidentally, none of the bugs I keep seeing have been fixed despite some 15 patches. BG3 deservedly won best game of the year but it definitely should have also won buggiest game of the year and it still boggles my mind that everyone keeps giving it a free pass on that. I mean I encounter a bug in almost every game session, to say nothing about how much they just gave up on trying with the inventory system.
On The PS5
On another topic, thanks to Naithin’s advice, I took off the Guardian Armor and played some more Monster Hunter World on the PS5, and it suddenly turned into a real game with actual stakes. Still not really loving it, but at least there’s some peril now. Anyway the last quest I got to was the Radobaan Roadblock in the Rotten Vale. The main roadblock to my enjoyment of Monster Hunter is that I don’t usually like extremely long boss fights. The difficulty checks in extended boss fights aren’t usually related to your competency with the game systems, they typically just test your ability to pay close attention during long periods of tedium, like a scientific ADHD test. Hence the invention of audiobooks and podcasts to listen to during gameplay.
I saw a game that I think I might conceivably be looking forward to, one of the rare one or two that comes along every few years: Dragon’s Dogma 2. The first one was such a bizarre action RPG, I find myself extremely curious how strange they can get with a second one. I still remember laughing hysterically while fighting a huge cyclops as my character climbed all over its back and then fell off. One of the best gaming moments ever.
Apparently Bobby Kottick is quietly stepping down as CEO of Activision Blizzard after all. He’s one of those gaming industry names that everybody focuses on as the source of all corporate evil in the world, that readers will definitely positively click on articles about. I personally remain completely ignorant about why everyone hates him. I assume it’s the kids’ favorite bogeyman again: something something capitalism bad. (I don’t follow Blizzard politics so I have no idea). Strangely, I haven’t seen many posts about Kottick, which is like not seeing posts about Trump shennanigans. I guess because the news broke during the holidays. Anyway, I think it’s a fairly safe prediction that nobody will be satisified by Kottick leaving, and everyone will just find somebody else to target, as rather blatantly telegraphed by MassivelyOP’s headline.
- Bobby Kotick finally departs Activision-Blizzard next week, but Microsoft will keep some of his execs | Massively Overpowered
- Ding Dong the Witch is Dead! Kotick Departs Activision Blizzard! | The Ancient Gaming Noob
Another story I missed: E3 is permanently closing.
A Good Year For Gaming?
Here’s a late-breaking gaming controversy: I accidentally expressed a slightly sarcastic observation about games in the fediverse and it turns out people don’t have any more sense of humor in the nice place than they did on Twitter. But honestly, where are the games that made 2023 a supposedly great year for games? BG3 is a great game but most everything else looks forgettable to me. There was a new Zelda game, which is pretty newsworthy. Resident Evil 4 is probably a quality game. Diablo IV is … well it’s technically a game people played. Can’t think of any other new games that anyone talked about playing in 2023. How bad is the state of gaming when four noteworthy games constitues a great year for gaming? There’s a good discussion question for the class. (I’m being flippant but I’m also genuinely curious and baffled about this. Maybe I misheard and what they actually said was that 2023 was a terrible year for games. I think it might have been some CNN year-end wrapup where I heard it.)
Ah ha, in a rare shoutout to the venerable blogger Tobold, one of the only bloggers who thinks blogging is more dead than I do*, apparently this meme is fed by there being more games ranked 90 or more in Metacritic than any other year, according to a report by Axios way back on Octoboer 30. (That Axios link reminds me why I never read Axios, because I feel like a toddler with all the bullet points and “why it matters” spoon-feeding. Also, they only name five of the twenty-five games, which makes it somewhat less than useful as a journalistic data source.)
Also, more than one of the games on that list are re-releases. Anyway, the point is, there were definitely some good games this year but it doesn’t “feel” like a best gaming year ever kind of year to me. Gaslighting is all around us now. :)
* Before anyone yells at me, blogging “deadness” in this context is a measurement of usefulness for building a business or popular community. As a niche hobby, blogging is as alive as it’s ever been. But you’re not going to find very many bloggers who will recommend starting a blog to supplement your income.
My Gaming Year
The main games I invested time into this year:
- Resident Evil series (1, 2, and 3)
- Solasta: Crown of the Magister and Pathfinder: Kingmaker
- Baldur’s Gate 3 (pretty much 95% of my gaming time from August onward)
I tend to pick games that are good for video, ones where the playing of the game forms a natural narrative, and I’ve discovered that CRPGs tend to check all the right boxes.
As mentioned above, I recorded more Baldur’s Gate 3 videos, increasing the chances that I won’t run out of videos to upload before the end of the series. (I also decreased the rate of uploads from 2 a day to 1 a day just to be safe.)
Recorded a few more “devlog” screencasts of blog development work for literally no reason whatsoever, except maybe to figure out if it’s something that I want to continue doing or not. Mostly what I’ve learned is that it’s a pain in the arse to record from a MacBook Pro. I finally figured out how to get the global hotkeys to work in OBS.
My YouTube Year
This year, my YouTube growth has apparently peaked and I’m falling back into obscurity (even more than usual). The question now is whether I care about falling into obscurity, or can I tweak something simple to regain the all-important upward momentum. The big problem with making things on the Internet is that inevitably people see those things, and you can count which ones they look at, and it always shatters the illusion of competancy.
Shorts are pretty popular. More shorts might help. They’re fun to make, but unfortunately not easy to make. Not good ones, at least. Maybe I just need to start shoveling out more unedited 60-second clips.
* These outliers are from one controversial Elden Ring Input Delay video.
** It’s a lot harder to find the number of videos you’ve uploaded in a year in the YouTube interface than you might think. I genuinely can’t remember how I found those numbers for the previous years.
Didn’t watch much.
I got stuck in a loop of watching Jimmy Carr’s Big Fat Quiz of the Year when I found a butt ton of them going back to 2004 on YouTube. Quizzes about pop culture from 2004 really make you feel old.
Then I got stuck in a loop of watching a butt ton of episodes of Richard Osman’s House of Games that somebody uploaded to YouTube. I usually feel bad watching illegal content on YouTube but, I mean, BBC doesn’t let me watch their stuff with a VPN anymore so…
Started out working on the Next.js blog, though not as feverishly as I was earlier in the month, and then I lost interest in it entirely, with the cold realization of “who actually cares,” along with lazy holiday fever, set in. But hey, it was good practice in Next.js development.
This sprint has been as active and productive as you might expect for a time period where most of the company is out on holiday vacation. The main thing I did was tinker with some AWS configurations, and then I was off the last week of the year.
Health and Wellness
I had an eye appointment on the 20th that I was really looking forward to so I could get new/adjusted glasses. It’s a real pain to read a computer screen, which makes reading and writing a big fat chore. But … I forgot to go. I rescheduled it for January.
As yet I don’t know what to replace TweetDeck with for news.
- Developments in the Israel Hamas war were usually the top headline every day this month.
- The news told me that over the weekend of the 16th and 17th, I survived one of the worst rain storms to hit the East Coast in the history of the universe (slight paraphrasing of the frantic news reports). I just thought it rained all day. Nothing particularly unusual happened at my house. The bad stuff mostly happened up in Maine.
- Iranian-backed Houthis rebels in Yemen have been attacking commercial shipping traffic through the Red Sea in protest of Israel, snarling global supply lines. (Above and beyond their usual schtick of indiscriminantly launching drones and missiles at Israeli cities.) This prompted a U.S.-led coalition to defend the area. (Oddly, and after triple-checking the facts from multiple sources because I thought somebody was pranking Wikipedia, Houthis were also recently involved in what has been called the first ever space warfare in human history.)
- The Colorodo Supreme Court ruled that Trump violated the Insurrection Clause of the 14th Amendment and cannot be on its state primary ballot for 2024, the first of a flood of such decisions. Michigan ruled the opposite, proving that judges just toss a coin when making decisions. Maine’s secretary of state agreed with Colorodo and removed Trump from their state’s primary ballot, proving that state officials succumb to peer pressure just like the rest of us. More decisions are likely. These state decisions will (eventually) be appealed in the (extremely conservative) U.S. Supreme Court. Nobody wrote any headlines or had any opinions or issued any death threats about these fast-moving developments.
- Speaking of Trump, Rudy Guiliani filed for bankruptcy after a court ordered him to pay millions in damages for defaming Georgia election workers. Leading experts were quoted as saying, nya nya.
- The Miami Herald published the Dave Barry Year in Review for 2023, the only such review I ever read, and the loose inspiration for this part of my blog.
- Ongoing Trainwrecks of the Year: 2024 Presidential Election, War in Israel (since 10/2023), Nigerian Coup (since 7/2023), Sudanese Civil War (since 4/2023), War in Ukraine (since 2/2022). And another ongoing train wreck that I hadn’t even heard of, from Wikipedia: Myanmar Civil War (since 2021). It occurs to me that the ongoing trainwrecks never get smaller, they only get bigger. You might think it’s depressing to list all of these tragedies, but you could also look at it as a list of people who are probably having a worse day than you are, and recall the famously too-truthful-it-was-changed line from Do They Know It’s Christmas?: “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.”
- Celebrity Deaths: Norman Lear (television producer), Tom Smothers (entertainer).
Happy New Year!