Sunday, December 6, 2015

End Of/Game Of The Year!

Eleventy Reasons Listicles Are Great | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios


This is the year that I've probably played the most board games ever, almost more than video games.  I've thus gotten my "mechanical gameplay" fixes in the analog world and my mechanical gameplay frustrations in the digital one. Although I guess Undertale came out this year and had the most fun gameplay I probably ever encountererd in a turn-based game, Her Story had a bunch of "text" but a really interesting mechanical hook to gather that text, and Pillars of Eternity managed to make me powergame for 30+ hours. Then again Wasteland 2 did that last year as well, and I kinda regret digging myself so deep into both games. But yeah there were and probably always will be some games that manage to combine narrative and thematic depth with classical videogame mechanics that really interest me, and the best contender this year was without a doubt Undertale. Transistor took the top spot last year for both GOTY and had awesome gameplay, but it is kinda hard to compare such a game with say Shovel Knight or Towerfall: Ascension. What makes both Transistor and Undertale interesting is their merging of gameplay and story. Her Story does it as well, but I wouldn't refer to its gamey elements as "classical videogame mechanics" - some would claim it's not a game at all.

Anyway, I won't be listing any board games here, just video(ish) games. The 2014 list has two new episodic games on it which I didn't play until this year - Kentucky Route Zero and Dreamfall Chapters. I finally played Mass Effect 3: Citadel (2013) which made is straight into my top 10 list. Other than that, it's just a bunch of games that have made it into my honorable mentions (and "want to play" category) I think.

The last five years have been very good for me and videogaming. 2011 there were only seven games
Even More Worthy of Mentioning, there have been 10-15 in the last five years, with 26 last year (2014), and there are still more games I wish I had played! This year there were only only eight. I barely had ten games that I thought were worthy of being up at the top ten! But I don't think that has to do anything with any trends or that I played less games this year. I've always missed more games from the latest year than those before and indeed don't have any intention of playing anything I haven't already played that is older than a couple of years, but still, 2015 just wasn't as good a year as 2014, which I didn't even realize was so good until now.

When it comes to this year in blogging, I just started blogging seriously again at the end of the year because I got an internship that wasn't as stressful as my earlier ones and freed up my creative powers. I also started listening to podcasts as a paper boy this summer which inspired me to listen to gaming podcasts and thus made game writing my creative outlet at the end of this year. My most read post in 2015 is one from the beginning of the year (50 reads) which isn't surprising because there is a very long tail for my blog posts. The most read pieces are still very very old, and I'm not really sure that the number is really representative of how many people actually did see the posts, but in either case there is the only post that has 1000+ readers, and there are two that have around 750, one a simple link collection and the other a more personal piece which I think would be better if edited a bit and also expanded to point out things in the vein of "then again perhaps bioshock makes the argument that objectivism can't really work because of the nature of humans" and to clear up my reasoning concerning the conclusions I draw. I think that in part it got so many readers because it was featured in a critical compilation post on bioshock over at criticaldistance or somewhere else.

What will 2016 bring then? Gamewise, there is just too much to list here. I have 150+ games bookmarked which I look forward to, and 50+ small indie game developers whose websites I follow because if they were to make a game, chances are I'd never hear about it otherwise. Developers like Aaron Oldenburg, Lucas J.W. Johnson, Aaron Reed and Michael Lutz. Other developers, such as Sam Barlow, Jake Elliot or Dan Pinchbeck/Jessica Curry I really have no need, considering that Her Story, Kentucky Route Zero and the remake of Dear Esther were such big hits. Some websites, like those belonging to projects A Second Face 2 and Loom: The Forge I've had bookmarked for a longer time than Jonathan Blows recent project...And you know, let's not forget the fact that most games I play I never had a clue about before finding out about and playing them. But there are some games that are coming out in January at least, which I look forward to. There is the biographical couple-made kickstarter game That Dragon, Cancer, Blows six years in the making The Witness, The augmented reality thingamabob The Icebound Concordance, Kentucky Route Zero lookalike Oxenfree, and artsy Oldenburgs first game in a long time, 1000 Heads Among The Trees. So it will be a busy January and it will be a busy year for sure.

As for this blog, who knows. I feel like I need to go out into the world once again and get some inspiration. Right now I've been spending a lot of time in front of the computer and I'm about to some more because I will primarily be looking for a job. Which means I need less screen time, not more. Perhaps some more people, board games, or playing video games with people, which I hope will become a thing. I just might drop out of gaming altogether because it takes up so much time to keep up with things, and I just might need that time if I want to seriously consider making a Twine game. Then again, not right now while I'm looking for work. But maybe in 2016. If nothing else, I have words for the things I wish to put words into, words such as interactive digital theater, combinatorial narrative, secret box, procedural fiction, explorable explanation, emergent story. Well, the things these words refer to are also things I wish to interact with, and I just might be satisfied with that as well in 2016.

2015 also brought some disappointments, but mainly in the form of Metal Gear Solid V which was painful to watch, and Grim Fandango Remastered which also was painful because it wasn't as substantial as my childhood memories made me think. Other than that, it's crazy how many games which I end up loving barely have my attention before release. Of the top ten this year, I only knew about Pillars of Eternity a  year before it was released, and I had heard about Life Is Strange and Tales of Borderlands before release. Most of the games were complete surprises then, and probably 2016 will bring many surprises as well, which is crazy considering how many games I know about from the get-go. As usual, there were far too few games which aimed at reflecting the political climate we live in right. But a positive thing is that gender representation in the top ten games is as follows: 3 games with male protagonists, 3 with gender neutral/self-chosen genders, and 7 with female protagonists. Some of these games even have several female protagonists! When it comes to the production side though only one game has mainly female creators as far as I know. But still.

Before the video game lists, here are some other stuffs.

Who Wins Game of the Year? - The Final Bosman

Between the date and the emphasis on “exclusive” trailers, it’s pretty clear the ceremony is still an advertising opportunity for publishers first and foremost.  Instead of waiting until early 2016 to recap 2015 games, the awards are held in early December – smack-dab in the middle of the holiday buying season.  The show acts less like an awards ceremony and more like a commercial or buyer’s guide reminding people which games are available and which ones to consider must-buys.
Most reputable game awards have some reason to exist, some core ethos that motivates the desire to hand out prizes.
Nothing like this can be said for The Game Awards.  It’s a continuation of an outright embarrassing award show that was always more concerned with generating ad revenue than curating a year’s worth of games.

Critical Distance Podcast Roundup

Cane and Rinse - A Little Look Back On 2015

RockPaperShotguns Christmas Calender

Polygon's 2015 Games of the Year

Kill Screen: The Best Videogames of 2015

Polygons Top Video Game News 2015

the most emotionally resonant games of 2015 opted to confront us with truths instead of helping us avoid them—whether they were ugly or embarrassing or cheesy or pathetic.

Mattie Brices favs

Leigh Alexanders 2015 Farewell Tour

Critical Distances Year In Videogame Blogging

The 5 trends that defined the game industry in 2015

The Top 10 Best Things of 2015 - The Final Bosman

Game Maker's Toolkit - 5 Bits of Good Game Design from 2015


A few years after becoming absorbed in what evolved into a hobby, I happened across a desire to reach out to these people, who had only existed disembodied in my imagination.
I tell you this so that you know how I’m approaching and presenting the games listed below. All released in 2015, these were the ones that spoke most to me, that let me into their creator’s mindspace and maybe also opened my eyes to something. In short, these were the games of 2015 that brought me closer to other people.


Favorite Movies

Don Juan
Ex Machina
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
In Your Eyes
Robot And Frank
Song of the Sea
Winnie The Pooh (2011)

3 Before Sunset
2 Before Midnight
1 Before Sunrise

Favorite TV-series
Agent Carter

3 Rick and Morty
2 Supernatural
1 Ally McBeal

Music stuffs
Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
Burzum - Fallen
Drudkh - Blood In Our Wells
Katatonia (in general)
Life Is Strange Soundtrack
Marcato Brothers - Podcast & Albums
Muse - Various
Music From Various Zelda Games
Opeth - Ghost Reveries
Pink Floyd -  A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
Purity Ring - Shrines/Another Eternity
Saturnus - Veronika Decides To Die
The Beatles - Let It be... Naked
Timbuktu - Sagolandet
Vanessa Carlton - Heroes & Thieves
Walk Off The Earth - Sing It All Away

I've barely read any new books this year, mostly reread stuff. I've played a lot of boardgames, but meh, I'm getting powernapeytimey here so let's skip those for now. :P


(ignore the footnotes)
Missed Out On/Want To Play

PCDreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey – Book 2-4
Game Of Thrones Season 1 – Episode 2-5 (Telltale Games)
Ori and the Blind Forest
Super Sec Soccer

Everyone's Gone To Rapture
The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask 3D
Until Dawn
Yoshi's Wooly World
Honorable Mentions
80 Days
A Fistful of Gun2
Assault Android Cactus3
Beneath Floes4 (Kevin Snow)
Best Chess5 (Pippin Barr)
Cibele6 (Star Maid Games/Nina Freeman)
Conversations We Have In My Head7 (Squinky)
Cradle8 (Flying Cafe for Semianimals)
Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist
Else Heart.Break10 (Erik Svedäng)
Final Girls12 (spideyj/Kanane)
Grim Fandango Remastered13
Home Is Where One Starts14
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number15
Knee Deep: Act 1-216
Knossu (Jonathan Whiting)
Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime17
Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain
Metamorphabet18 (Vectorpark)
MINKOMORA19 (Kikopa Games)
Neurotic Neurons20 (Nicky Case)
Obéissance21 (Merritt Kopas)
Off-Peak22 (Cosmo D)
Ohmygod Are You Alright23 (Anna Anthropy)
Orchids To Dusk24 (Pol Clarissou)
Pathologic Classic HD25
Plug & Play27 (Etter Studios)
Rain, House, Eternity29 (Kitty Horrorshow)
Republique Remastered30Rocket League
Sanctuary31 (Connor Sherlock)
Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows32
Subway Adventure34/Bedrooms35 (Stephen Lavelle)
Summon The Apgrod36
The Old City – Leviathan40
The Next Penelope41
The Static Speaks My Name42 (Jesse Barksdale)
Timruk43/Menagerie (Studio Oleomingus)
Titan Souls44
TowerFall: Dark World45
Even More Honorable Mentions (Even More Worthy of Mentioning)
After School46
Hollywood Visionary48 (Aaron A. Reed)
Life Is Short – Interactive Haiku49 (Florian Veltman)
Super Mario Maker
The Writer Will Do Something50 (Matthew S Burns)
Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition51
White Night52
10 The Music Machine53/Fingerbones54/A Wolf In Autumn55 (David Szymanski)

9 The Book of The Dead/Viral Dusty Dead Identity Quiz56/Tales of the Stop57/Death and His Deer/Morning Rituals58 (Silverstring Media/Lucas J.W. Johnson)

8 We Know The Devil59 (Aevee Bee, Mia Schwartz & Alec Lambert)

7 The Beginner's Guide60 (Davey Wreden/Everything Unlimited)
6 Little Party61 (turnfollow/Carter Lodwick/Ian Endsley)

5 Tales From The Borderlands Season 1 – Episode 2-5

4 Pillars of Eternity/Pillars of Eternity: White March62

3 Her Story63

2 Life Is Strange64

1 Undertale65

New Horrors
Beneath Floes
Pathologic Classic HD
Rain, House, Eternity
The Old City – Leviathan
The Book of The Dead/Viral Dusty Dead Identity Quiz
The Static Speaks My Name
White Night

3 We Know The Devil
2 The Music Machine/Fingerbones/A Wolf In Autumn 
1 Undertale (No Mercy-Run)

New Interactive Fiction
80 Days
Beneath Floes
Conversations We Have In My Head
Final Girls

Hollywood Visionary
Morning Rituals
Three Fourths Home: Extended Edition

The Writer Will Do Something
2 The Book of The Dead/Viral Dusty Dead Identity Quiz
1 We Know The Devil

New Multiplayer Madness

Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime

3 TowerFall: Dark World

2 Penarium
1 ChargeShot

New Funny Games


The Writer Will Do Something
2 Tales From The Borderlands
1 Undertale

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