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End of Year: 2021 Edition

Just like 2020, but with a little extra.

Aside from the still-raging pandemic, this has been a rather banner year, personally. Had some grueling work projects to grind through, but where they have passed, only I remain. For now. I’ve applied to some other places that are paying 30% more for the same job description. I’ve also taken up options trading as a side hustle, mainly because I got lucky with GME in January and now I’m an expert. I beat the S&P500 this year but also spent considerably more time developing ulcers in the process, so who knows with that. Think I might stick with something easier, like cryptocurrency.

Family is doing great.

Now, it’s time for what you really care about: my personal gaming habits for the year. First, Steam.

  • Chasm
  • Valheim
  • Battle Brothers
  • Card Hunter
  • Trials of Fire
  • Dead in Vinland
  • Tangledeep
  • Ring of Pain
  • Raft
  • Dishonored 2
  • Fate Hunters
  • ARK
  • Dreamgate
  • Dicey Dungeons
  • Dream Quest
  • She Remember Caterpillars
  • Undertale

A bit more than the seven games I played last year, but many were kind of one-and-done. Or perhaps more accurately “tried-and-dropped.” One of the standouts is Valheim, which continues to get updates. I have not played any more Valheim since I stopped though, and I am content to wait until its full release (whenever that is) before paying attention again. I was also very impressed with Trials of Fire, but perhaps not enough to play it again after sinking 13 hours into it. Really liked Ring of Pain too.

Next is Epic:

  • Celeste
  • Axiom Verge
  • Ape Out
  • Magic: Legends
  • Pathway
  • God’s Trigger
  • Outward
  • Crying Suns
  • Crashlands
  • Hades
  • Griftlands
  • Tharsis
  • Faeria
  • Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel
  • Death Stranding
  • Loop Hero
  • Inscryption

Epic’s twice-yearly $10 coupon insanity is finally driving me to spend more time in their ecosystem than any others. That and all the free games, but the coupon really sells the sales. I’m presently splitting my time between Loop Hero and Inscryption, with both being rather fun. Hades won all sorts of awards, but I was content with just beating it once. Griftlands was compelling for a time, even above other decking-building roguelikes, but it’s hard to stay as engaged when an average run is 7+ hours. Death Stranding is on the list for getting more attention, and I suspect I am still in the tutorial even after three hours of Amazon Prime deliveries hauling literal garbage around the haunted landscape.

Finally, we have Game Pass:

  • Monster Sanctuary
  • Neoverse
  • Star Renegades
  • Greedfall
  • Supraland
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • Second Extinction
  • Frostpunk
  • Slime Rancher
  • Monster Train
  • Halo: Master Chief Collection
  • Grounded
  • Control
  • Solasta: Crown of the Magister
  • Atomicrops
  • Curse of the Dead Gods
  • Library of Ruina
  • Medieval Dynasty
  • Subnautica: Below Zero
  • Into the Pit
  • Tainted Grail: Conquest
  • The Riftbreaker
  • One Step from Eden
  • Crown Trick
  • Unpacking

Laid out like that, were the 25 listed games worth $120ish to access during the year? Eh, maybe. Looking back, it’s clear that I got more overall value in 2020. Then again, presuming that I would have paid to play some of these games, I probably did end up saving money overall. In any case, some of these games will be on the 2022 list as they receive updates and/or I get around to focusing on them.

I am tempted to entertain the notion of identifying a Game of the Year out of the ones I played… but nah. Hades would certainly be a safe bet and conform with all the critics. It’s good and I certainly see the argument. Looking at what actually impressed me though, are games like Valheim and then stuff like Ring of Pain, Inscryption, and so on. I don’t usually play relevant games in the year they release, so it’s kind of a futile exercise anyway.

The gaming goals from last year:

  • Continue working on the Steam backlog [Yes]
  • …but don’t get bogged down with mediocre games [Absolutely yes]
  • Maybe buy a Switch. For the wife. [Nope. Probably not even in 2022]
  • (Re)Play through the Halo games via Master Chief Collection [Did Halo Reach]
  • Give FF14 another shot [Didn’t, and now couldn’t anyway]
  • Resist the urge to buy a new gaming PC [Success!]

I don’t see much of a point in identifying gaming goals for 2022, and this post is plenty long anyway. What I anticipate happening is buying a new prebuilt PC – prebuilt due to graphics card shortages and not being super comfortable replacing motherboards/CPU – getting a new monitor, and otherwise sprucing up my battlestation. After that, I’ll pick up Cyberpunk, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Red Dead Redemption 2 for $15-$20 apiece from the Epic summer or winter sale, depending on when a value prebuilt come available. Then, I will bask in the glory of #PCMasterRace or cry in an empty wallet.

Here’s to another year of running my mouth. And thanks for listening.

End of Year: 2020 Edition

If you’re reading this, you made it another year. That’s something, at least.

On the personal front, things have been going well. My wife and I have stable jobs that smoothly transitioned into work-from-home versions. We’re both introverts, so the whole lockdown thing has not hit us particularly hard. My son is meeting milestones ahead of schedule, which is nice considering he was a preemie. And after 15 years, I finally made my last student loan payment in November… for a degree that has effectively been useless. Kids, when they say “it doesn’t matter what degree you get, just get something so you can sail into middle management,” that is a lie. I mean, it is true that any degree will probably get you past the first HR filter, but for god’s sake pick something like Business Admin if you don’t already know what you want to do with your life.

Also, maybe don’t spend $50,000 trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. Unless what you want is to pay student loans for a few decades.

The gaming goals from last year:

  • Play PS3 games so I feel less guilty about buying a PS4 for two games [Nope]
  • Otherwise play the games you want to play when you want to play them [Generally yes]
  • Stop playing the games you don’t want to play anymore [Actually yes]
  • Continue being a (passably) responsible gaming dad [Won’t know for another 15 years]

I never got around to the PS3 games. Again. At this point, it’s just silly to keep bringing it up and runs afoul of the next two bullet points anyway. That said, I haven’t bothered even thinking about a PS4, so there’s that. Same with a PS5, if one were even available. I seem to have waited long enough that almost every console exclusive is coming to PC anyway. Had a Switch been available though… things may have been different.

Looking at my Steam list, I see the following titles played in the last year:

  • No Man’s Sky
  • My Time at Portia
  • Spelunky
  • Blasphemous
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
  • Factorio
  • Wandersong

No, seriously, that’s it. So much for that backlog, am I right? Between No Man’s Sky, My Time at Portia, and Fell Seal, I did sink about 250 hours of gaming in there. Looking at the Game Pass list though:

  • Katana Zero
  • Spiritfarer
  • Astroneer
  • Nowhere Prophet
  • Neon Abyss
  • Sea Salt
  • UnderMine
  • Carrion
  • Metro: Exodus
  • Children of Morta
  • Everspace
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Outer Wilds
  • Death’s Gambit
  • Into the Breach

Twice as many titles as Steam… but probably only half as many hours, if not less.

The rest of my gaming time this year has been pumped into Fallout 76, Hearthstone, WoW (more recently), and mobile games. I finally kicked the Clash Royale habit, and my blood pressure is better for it. There have been a few other mobile games I’ve sunk some serious time into while trying to find a Slay the Spire equivalent. I should probably take some time to write about them, actually.

In any case… 2021, huh? To be honest, I do not even know what is coming on the horizon. Mass Effect Trilogy Remaster? FF7 Remake PC release? I am more excited for rumors about the Game Pass, such as Ubitsoft’s subscription service being folded in, or that Microsoft might buy Sega. One thing that has been a total whiff this year is Humble (Bundle) Choice. I have paused my subscription 10 of the last 12 months, two of which required refund requests because I forgot to pause. Seriously, I think I may just drop the subscription altogether, even though that would remove my grandfathered-in ability to pick up all of the random crappy games they try to give away.

On the MMO (and equivalent) front, I continue to enjoy playing WoW and foresee that extending through January, at a minimum. Fallout 76 is still fun, but my motivation to boot it up took a nosedive when I finally unlocked the last pieces of the Secret Service armor, and also noticed that the Season 3 rewards were underwhelming. Genshin Impact probably deserves its own post, but since I haven’t played it in two months, that becomes more and more unlikely. FF14 is still installed on my PC, but that flight of fancy has flown.

As for goals in 2021:

  • Continue working on the Steam backlog
  • …but don’t get bogged down with mediocre games
  • Maybe buy a Switch. For the wife.
  • (Re)Play through the Halo games via Master Chief Collection
  • Give FF14 another shot
  • Resist the urge to buy a new gaming PC

And that’s that.

Too Busy for Words

It’s interesting to think about how much life can change. Four years ago, I would have been living up this coronavirus shelter-in-place self-isolation. MMOs for days! Even two years ago would have been good, just chillin’ with my then-fiancee.

Pandemics are a bit different with a baby, though.

This coming week, the daycares are shutting down in my area. My wife has been working from home for the last few weeks, and I will be joining her shortly. Technically I am “essential personnel” but we worked out a rotating skeleton crew schedule at my job. I took the first shift to support the rollout of nearly a hundred mobility solutions for other essential personnel to work from home. By the end of the week, I’ll be working from home as well for the next 3-4 weeks before my on-site shift comes back around. And so on, until… whenever. Through the entirety of April, at least.

Good luck and stay safe, everyone.