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2021 A Year in Games

Quick list of games played in 2021:

Genshin Impact, Cyberpunk 2077, Artifact, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Seek Etyliv, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Dyson Sphere Program, Final Fantasy XV, Valorant, Concrete Genie, Control, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, God of War, Knockout City, Virtua Fighter 5, Wild Rift, Industries of Titan, Naraka: Bladepoint, Hunter's Arena, Florence, Superliminal, DotA 2, League of Legends, Battlerite, Runeterra, Hitman 3, Bright Memory: Infinite, Legion TD 2, Titanfall 2, MageQuit

In progress:

Pathless, Persona 5, Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Sampled:

Timelie, Shadwen, Loop Hero, Rhythm Fighter, A Plague Tale: Innocence

Thoughts:

This year, I've had more interest in classic JRPGs and shooters.  Both in the style of high fidelity experiences, action cutscenes and a clear throughline story with memorable set-pieces.  The music in FFXV set the tone of a grand epic.  That followed with a lot of focused, fun time in FFVII Remake and Persona 5  Voice acting went a long way to make the character drama come to life.

The weakest genre as of late has been stealth.  I did play Cyberpunk 2077 with a stealth build, so perhaps that covered my needs there.  Maybe the military backdrops of that and Metal Gear / Splinter Cell franchises are more compelling to me.   As for the other, more traditional hard stealth games, I found that there was a tradeoff where the designs had a lot of tutorializing of stealth mechanics that I did not have the patience to get past.  The puzzle-like elements of early stealth games felt restrictive and bland, as I'd have seen these before from past experience.

Competitive games were fun (as always) but a bit of a struggle this year.  Without dedicated time to study and master the strategies, it was harder to keep up across multiple multiplayers games.  These are still very fun, I thoroughly enjoyed Hunter's Arena, Virtua Fighter 5, Knockout City, MageQuit, and Naraka a lot, especially in the early learning curves just after each game's launch.  I'm happy to play out a season in each one and see how I rank compared to other players.  But there's no chase to be the top 1% for me here.  Mastery is a bit out of reach without focus.

Biggest surprise and enjoyment was Superliminal.  It spoke directly to me as a game developer, by showing the backstage elements of creative work.  

Ultimately, I'm reminiscing on Nier: Automata.  This is the masterpiece that come back to me a lot, especially through the soundtrack.  I've picked up the prequel remake Nier: Replicant ver 1.22474487139... and it's going to be my focus for 2022.


Anticipated games of 2022/23:

God of War: Ragnarok, Elden Ring, Sifu, Final Fantasy XVI, Astrea: Six Sided Oracles, Endless Dungeon, Citizen Sleeper

The Exponential Age

From my reading of The Exponential Age, by Azeem Azhan

My favourite parts of this book are the history of exponential growth of technologies (computerization, computing power, shipping, among others), and the contemplation of how ongoing innovations that are already happening will reorganize societies.

Exponential growth does not stop when the limits of one technology is reached.  Innovation in the transistor, which had grown exponentially over the last many decades, led the early exponential growth of computing.  Once the speed at which we improved transistors started to slow, the exponential growth moved elsewhere.  In this case, to the availability of computing power.  Exponential forces stack and follow one another.

Exponential effects also came about with standardization.  Once a universally accepted guideline for shipping containers was put into place, the global shipping capacity continued to grow with every added port, ship, and truck.  It unleashes an uninhibited spread of the core design.  The pieces fit no matter who or where they are created.

The core technologies underlined in the book are: Genetic Science, 3D Printing, and two others i cannot remember.

But the point of the book is not that things change fast, but that they change faster than we can adapt at first.  So at the onset of all introductions of new technologies a shock to societal norms and existing institutions will occur. It is not until time passes, (in the slower cases a generation or two) later that the people are able to address the systemic inequities that emerge.  We'll need to work a lot to improve the exponential gaps that have been expanding.

Super Raft Boat

 


It just gets at one of the cores of the human condition, the will to build and to survive against chaos. The two actions are at odds: left click to destroy (enemies) and right click to create (a raft). But in a balance between I found some meaning.

The Final Hours of Half Life: Alyx

 

In a series of 15 chapters, Geoff Keighley covers the ambitious and tumultuous journey of creating the flagship VR Half-Life game.  It's a tale about continuing to fan the flames of creativity in the next generation, the complex necessities of game development, and the dedication to craft at Valve.



Seek Etyliv

It's a concise puzzle game that makes the most of very little.  Seek Etyliv doesn't try to explain.  Instead it lets the natural curiosity and need to conquer challenge arise from the player.  I completed the story (in puzzle and poem form) in a little over an hour.  

That's when the extra, unnecessary challenge began, of executing puzzles without making a single mistake.  I do not know if there is a secret hidden at the end of the deadly dungeon, but that's not important.  Because someone with a true calling to the task should take up the gauntlet.

The game takes its promise of minimalistic design seriously.  I especially liked the simplistic menu navigation with arrow keys (the only flaw being a reliance on the escape key).  It's strict adherence to the 3x3 grid let it explore its own little design space.  I suppose it's like tic tac toe crossed with rogue and sokoban.

https://rokasv.itch.io/seek-etyliv




Steam Winter Sale 2020 Hidden Gems

This Winter Sale I picked up a few indie titles that really stood out to me.  First impressions below, with more to follow when I've played through them!


Timelie

A puzzle game with endearing graphics.  It speaks with visuals and atmosphere.


There is no game: Wrong dimension

The best fourth-wall breaking comedy that makes the player the star of the show.  It's a dialogue with the developer and there's so much personality in the game!


Quantum Protocol

A quirky card game themed as hacking.  This game's UI execution, while simple, knocks everything else out of the park in how quickly I was able to jump into and feel its unique interactions.






Liberating Wind

Fresh starts are the freeing from the shackles of the past and every day, every moment could be one.