danielkempster

With so many awesome new games coming out and on the horizon, what am I doing with my game time? Playing Gen 1 Pokémon, apparently.

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danielkempster

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danielkempster

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@slag: Thanks duder. Hope you're doing well and playing some awesome games. :)

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danielkempster

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@majormitch: Cheers Mitch, thanks for taking the time to read. I can't recommend DQV enough. I often feel like I've grown out of JRPGs, but every other year or so I play a classic from the genre that reminds me why I fell in love with them in the first place. DQV filled that role for me this year. The fact it doesn't often get mentioned in the same context as games like FFVI and Chrono Trigger is mind-boggling to me. As for Super Metroid, I had a blast with it and can see myself coming back in the future and replaying it every year or two in pursuit of faster times and higher map completion percentages. Definitely deserving of its classic status. Incidentally, I just spent some of my Christmas bonus on a copy of Metroid Dread, and I am stoked to get stuck into that in the new year.

I echo your hope that 2022 is a better one for all of us. After the last couple of years, I feel like we're all due some good vibes. Wishing you all the best for the new year and beyond, duder.

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danielkempster

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Cam, you have always undeniably had a way with words. For years your blogs have been one of my favourite things about this site, and even as community spirit has waned in recent times I'd still be super psyched on the occasions I'd see your icon accompanying a new blog notification whenever I hovered over that little orange bell in the top-right corner. Knowing that this might be one of, if not the last time I get that feeling is a bitter pill to swallow.

And I get it. Boy, do I ever get it. Especially that sense of perpetual exhaustion and exasperation, waking up tired and going to bed grumpy every damn day. I stepped away from Facebook last year and haven't looked back, but I know I still engage too much with rolling news online via websites and YouTube. It's hard to unplug, especially when trying to do so makes you feel like you're (as you say) burying your head in the sand and ignoring the world's problems. But I'm increasingly recognising just how necessary it is to make an effort to disengage from the relentlessness of hyper-connectivity and be present for what's going on in my life right now. I have a manuscript I desperately need to pull out of the literary proving drawer and put the finishing touches to. I have a wedding to look forward to and prepare for. I have a potential job promotion in the pipeline, which is pretty significant for me after almost a decade of working in the same role. That's the kind of stuff I need to be focusing on these days. Not the bi-partisan vitriol that passes for discussion in all nine circles of this hellhole we colloquially dub the internet.

Giant Bomb is... Well, it is what it is. I let my sub expire a couple of months back and haven't engaged with any new content since, and I'm fine with that. Much like Slag said above, I've always had more interest in the community that congregated around the site's personalities than the personalities themselves. More recently my taste in games criticism has swung towards long-form content, retrospectives and analyses that seek to examine video games as experiences to be cherished rather than products to be consumed. These days I visit the site maybe once a week, check out what's new from the folks I care about under the aforementioned orange bell, update my recently played list if I've beaten anything, and move on. Very occasionally I'll stop a little longer to write a blog (I was actually considering throwing something together today concerning Primal, which I played a couple of months ago). I suspect that once a week will drop to once a fortnight, then once a month, and eventually I'll just stop coming here altogether. Again, I'm fine with that.

The main downside of stepping away from social media is that it's harder to stay in touch with the incredible people I've been lucky enough to get to know on this website. Especially as one by one we drift away from the very thing that brought us all together in the first place. I'm pretty sure I remain subbed to the Rankin Flats Observer newsletter to keep up with your professional goings-on, and I'm also on Steam chat, albeit infrequently. WhatsApp is about the only social media app I continue to use, purely for practical reasons in terms of organising shit with friends, colleagues and team mates, so if you're a part of that ecosystem, let me know and I'd be happy to PM you my number. You're easily one of the nicest, most genuine individuals I've had the pleasure of encountering either online or in person, so please don't be a stranger. And hey, if by chance you ever find somewhere out there that contains even a trace of the magical spark this place used to have back in its heyday, save me a space and send me an invite. I'll be sure to do the same for you.

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danielkempster

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Nice write-up Sparky. I don't really have anything to contribute, besides the "I should probably play a Disgaea game at some point" hat that I always throw into the ring when you offer up one of these blogs. I think I bought the digital version of the PSP port of the original Disgaea at some point in the long-forgotten past, so I could probably download that to my Vita and see what all the fuss is about?

Also, that HorrorPops song is a jam.

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danielkempster

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Nice write-up Mitch. Oblivion was also my first experience with a Bethesda game, albeit one that was very different to yours. Having come to it from an almost exclusively Japanese RPG background, I found the "go anywhere, do anything" angle too overwhelming my first time through, and ended up putting the game down after only a few hours. I eventually came back to it after cutting my teeth on other Bethesda and Bethesda-adjacent RPGs - Fallout 3, which to my mind has the best execution of the "linear tutorial into open world" trope; Morrowind, which taught me how to approach character development in an Elder Scrolls game; and Fallout: New Vegas, whose peerless quest design and writing helped me to work out what I really like about these kinds of games, and by extension helped me to overcome that overwhelmed feeling by giving me a better idea of what kind of content I should be focusing on. Off the back of those three experiences, I was able to have a much better time with Oblivion when I eventually returned to it, but at the expense of a lot of the innovation and wonder imparted on those who played it at launch. As a result, and perhaps also in part due to its more generic fantasy setting, I don't find Oblivion to be as memorable as the other games I've mentioned. Nonetheless, I still had an enjoyable time with it, the Dark Brotherhood quest line was a particular highlight, and part of me would like to go back to it some day and check out the Shivering Isles expansion.

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danielkempster

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@sparky_buzzsaw: Cheers Cam, I hope you and your family are all doing okay. I actually got the call this morning confirming that my colleague passed away last night. In a way it's a relief that everything happened so quickly and she didn't suffer for too long, and it's comforting to know that she passed peacefully with her children at her side. Doesn't stop it hurting knowing I'll never see her again, though. The FFVII project is hopefully going to be something special - kind of a cross between a Let's Play, a literary close reading, and those lengthy retrospective videos that seem to be all the rage on the YouTubes these days. It's a little way off being ready yet - I've got 90 hours of capture footage to comb through and what I anticipate will be a very lengthy script to finish writing - but I am extremely stoked about it.

@bobafettjm:I played through the base game of Dishonored trying to stay stealthy and non-lethal where possible, although I did allow myself to cross the line into lethality where the primary targets were concerned. When I played as Daud in the two DLC campaigns however, I leant fully into stylish assassin mode and took no prisoners.

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danielkempster

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Great write-up Arbitrary, I really enjoyed reading this. Congrats on nabbing that PS5. I'm hoping to take the plunge on one further down the line this year, when they're slightly less comparable to gold dust.

I think FF7R is the only overlap on our lists, which isn't surprising given both my attachment to the original and my propensity to gravitate towards older releases. My relationship with that game is very complicated, and based on the ending I sense it will continue to be as subsequent parts are released. They nailed the combat (which I assumed they would) and they nailed the characters (which I assumed they wouldn't, so that was a very pleasant surprise), but that ending... On one level, I am seriously impressed with the balls on the dev team to even suggest breaking away from the source material so radically. On another level, that apparent willingness to divert future instalments from the critical path has me thinking they don't fully understand what made the original great in the first place. I'm happy for it to exist as something supplementary to FFVII, I just kinda wish it had some subtitle other than "Remake".

DOOM Eternal is on my to-play list, but I've found myself putting it off on account of all the testimonies that paint it as markedly inferior to its predecessor. I was considering replaying DOOM 2016 before jumping into Eternal to re-familiarise myself with that style of shooter, since most people seem to be saying Eternal is a significant leap in difficulty over 2016, but I'm now worried that coming into Eternal hot off of 2016 might make it feel even more disappointing than if I went in blind. It's a logic puzzle I hope to find the answer to over the course of 2021.

Seeing it top so many people's end-of-year lists confirms that I really need to check out Hades at some point. The fact it's only on Switch and PC is irking me somewhat as I'd quite like to have it on PS4 to maintain parity with all my other Supergiant games, but I'm not sure what the likelihood is of it making its way to other consoles in the near-to-middle future.

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danielkempster

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Nice to see a year-end write-up from you Cam. I always enjoy reading things you've written, and this was no exception.

There's next to no overlap on our list of played games this year. I think Animal Crossings: New Horizons is the only title we both played, and much like you I bounced off it pretty quickly. Alice is still playing it almost daily and loving it though. To each their own, I suppose. I spotted you also played Untitled Goose Game, which is sitting near the top of my backlog and I hope to get around to some time in 2021 (along with about fifty other games, of course). I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that, if you have any, since there's nothing against it on your list.

Those are some interesting picks for Album of the Year. I have to admit I haven't given Pray for It much of my time, and I feel guilty about that - even more so now you've rated it so highly. I'll try to remedy that in the coming weeks. As for Sorry, I tried really hard to get into 925 and I just couldn't. There are a handful of songs on it that I really like, specifically Perfect, Heather and Ode to Boy. Most of the album has this really unsettling, almost dissonant vibe to it though, which makes me feel really uneasy when I listen to it. I get that's probably a deliberate stylistic decision on the band's part, and I admire them for pursuing it so ardently, but it's just not for me. Alice and I put together our top twenty albums from this year earlier this week. The show went out live today, and should be up on Mixcloud in the next day or two (read: as soon as I can be bothered to pull the archive from the station's back up drive).

Wishing you and yours all the best for 2021. Take care and stay safe.

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danielkempster

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@zombiepie: I originally played and beat the first two Dead Space games on 14" standard definition CRT TVs, and aside from the text logs being almost impossible to read, I actually found the games to be very playable, often directly on account of its diegetic HUD elements. Things like the differing shapes and changing colours of the health and stasis bars (as mentioned in the OP) and the distinct icons used for inventory items like med packs and ammo pick-ups were far more legible on an SD screen than the myriad tiny letters, numbers and icons that make up the UI in a game like Skyrim, for instance (which was, incidentally, the game that forced me to finally upgrade to an HD display).

Great write-up, @gamer_152. Interestingly enough I've just started replaying Dead Space as part of a drive to revisit some spooky games through October in the run-up to Halloween. It's my first revisit since I originally beat the game in 2009 and it holds up astoundingly well, thanks in no small part to that additional layer of immersion afforded by the diegetic UI. One of my personal favourite implementations of it is the way the game justifies presenting things like video logs and the inventory and map menus as holograms in front of Isaac's character model through the presence of a little projector built into the chest of his engineering suit. This in turn serves both the gameplay and atmosphere by allowing time to pass uninterrupted and creating a feeling of unease while interacting with that stuff, unlike in something like Resident Evil 4 where the action pauses whenever Leon opens his storage case.