As 2011 quickly approaches in just a matter of days, I find that I am reconsidering how I will play video games in the new year. As I mentioned on the Beardcast just a few weeks ago, over the course of the least year, I have discovered that hype cycles are doing a lot to bore me and the genuinely hidden surprises of the year are way more exciting than the biggest-budgeted game.
If Game of the Year deliberations, both here and elsewhere, proved anything, it’s that it’s hard to decide on one game of the year when you haven’t played everything. After picking up Super Meat Boy in a Steam sale, well after the Nitrobeard GOTY had been decided, I truly regretted not fighting for it as a contender for Game of the Year. I didn’t bite on the initial release because I thought the game would be a frustration platformer, a genre I liken to bullet-hell shmups in a region of my brain I don’t really care about. The actual game turned out to be much more than that and my somewhat narrow gaming tastes kept me from playing it in time.
As such, I’ve decided I am going to set down some gaming resolutions to try and follow in 2011. These are things I think will increase my enjoyment of games and improve my ability to actually analyze them better.
Play more local co-op. So among the things I discovered in 2010 is that Resident Evil 5 is pretty boring even with a friend and Kirby’s Epic Yarn is damn entertaining with a significant other. While Resident Evil 5 probably kept the action up way better than Kirby’s lackadaisical gameplay style did, there was something inherently more fun about your co-op partner screaming right next to you as they scroll off the stage or you grabbing their arm and saying “Save me!” as they catch you before you die. Online co-op is great, but I feel I have basically been ignoring the local co-op, which I aim to fix this year.
"You take the front, Kirby, I'll cower in the corner."
Stop judging games from videos. One really bad habit I fell in to this year is to watch videos of people playing games and assuming I got a decent feel for the gameplay from them. If I don’t like the art, or the voice acting, or the variety, that’s fine, I can tell that from a video. But I’m no longer going to pretend I know if a game is good or not without playing it. It’s a terrible habit most of us need to break and it ends up making us miss things we might find we really enjoy for the sake of being different.
Play more online multiplayer. Yeah, this kind of conflicts with the first one, but I haven’t done a whole lot of this in the past, either. My first dalliance with real, sustained online multiplayer was Team Fortress 2, but I feel that the nightly, consistent Left 4 Dead 2 games I’ve had with friends have done more than the 200 hours I put in to Team Fortress 2 ever could. There is something to be said for what is essentially the video gamer’s equivalent of a poker night.
Stop buying fight sticks. Really, I have a problem.
"But the art is slightly different on this one!"
I asked the other Nitrobearders what their resolutions for 2011 also are. Some were brief, others longer, but they all represent a desire to change things up a bit to become a bit more involved and a lot more open-minded next year.
Play more Heroscape and delve into some other board games.
It's New Years, eh? Time to make my New Year's Resolution! Let's see. I could make the resolution to clear out my backlog, but that's actually impossible for a mortal man. If my Steam account is any indication, I have over 250 games I need to sink into. That's not counting my Wii, PS3, XB360, DS, or PSP. No, it can't be backlog related. As I ask myself 'What do I need to do as a gamer this year', only one thing comes to mind: Get better. I'm world famous for never playing more than 10 hours or so of competitive online games, and my skills suffer for it. It's a vicious cycle, really: When I do play, my skill level isn't up to the level where I want it, so I get discouraged easily (especially when random cockbags online fuel that flame). In my spare time, the last thing I want to do to relax is play a game I'm terrible at. Since I don't log any time into the game, everyone else progresses, getting better and better, while I stall out, forever on the backburner.
2011 is the year I want to change that. I have some games lined up that I'd love to get better at, but I need everyone's collective help. The list, and goal, is as follows:
1) Team Fortress 2 - My skills are that of a baby, a baby who doesn't really know the level layouts, has no clue about team composition, and has 2 hats. I don't even know how crafting works! I constantly hear how much fun Team Fortress 2 is, but whenever I play, it's missed opportunities, whether it means a bad demolition charge, a missed sniper shot, a bunked pyro blast, or a mishandled heal. I'd be more help to my team if I never logged in, so that's exactly what happened.
2) Starcraft 2 - This is the most hardcore, draining, 'test your might' game in my collection. 1v1 in Starcraft 2 is literal chess on acid. Not only are you playing the mechanics of the game (micro, macro, build orders, timing pushes, etc), you're playing your opponent (hard counters, soft counters, fakes), all at 100+ actions per minute. Games go for half an hour a piece, and usually end in defeat. If there's one thing worse than being bad at a game, it's being bad at a time-consuming game that feels like calculus homework. But when you win? The greatest feeling on Earth.
3) League of Legends - The Free-2-Play DoTA clone, I've sunk a solid $40 into this title, purchasing runes, champions, skins, and other fancy trinkets. My skill level? At this time, I've played 1 competitive game (but won!), and have played 6 practice games. I have an absolute blast while I play, but the fear of letting my team down is too much to bear, so I'm nervous about heading online. Video games? Serious business.
It's like all the colors got together for an orgy.
4) Quake Live - Because at the end of the day, when you railgun a son of a bitch from across the map going 500 mph, you deserve a goddamn school named after you.
You all gotta help me, Bearders! Pester me into playing games! Help my skills improve! I picked these titles in particular because you can track progress, as they have achievements, world ranks, and leaderboards. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, when it comes right down to it, if I enjoy playing a game because my skills are better, I'll end up playing more games! That in itself might handle my backlog problem, too.
1) Expose myself to more Weird Japanese Shit. Take Nier, for instance. I stayed away from Nier almost entirely because it looked Too Japanese. Well it turns out Nier is sort of great; and I'm dumb.
2) Fewer sub-6 hour games for full MSRP. Vanquish was an amazing gameplay experience; perhaps even the best of it's type, but I blew through it in less than a week. Meanwhile I've sunk something close to 100 hours into New Vegas for the same price. This isn't so much an issue with games like Bayonetta where you're encouraged to play through several times; but games like Vanquish and Uncharted 2 don't really allow for this outside of the dubious notion of finding hidden items.
"Sure there's a war going on, but I swear I just saw a statuette over there..."
3) Spend more time writing about games even if that means playing less games to do so.
4) Give Mass Effect 2 another shot.
5) Expose myself to some of the 8-and-16-bit stuff I either missed out on by not taking part in the NES/SMS era or simply overlooked.
What about you, Beard Community? What 2011 Gaming Resolutions do you have?