2020 Gaming Side Notes
By InfiniteSpark 1 Comments
I wanted to write and publish this to coincide with my GOTY 2020 list but the constant pressure of working from home has made me postpone writing this blog until now. Here are a few interesting personal side gaming notes I wanted to spill my thoughts out in regarding to my gaming habits last year.
Focus on Shorter and Plug and Play Games
The shift to working from home oddly had a detrimental effect on my gaming time as I spent more of my time in the evening and weekends to keep up with working demands. Hence I spent most of 2020 playing games that either did not take a long time to finish or games that I can jump in and play immediately. You can tell from the games that I listed as “finished” in 2020 and the ten games that landed on my GOTY list that a majority of them filled into either role. It wasn’t until the end of the year where I took on a game that took awhile to finish and needed to play on a consistent basis as I had a couple of extra days off around the Christmas holiday/weekend to afford to tackle that type of game.
Notable Older Games Played in 2020
Florence: A nice, poignant, short game telling a story about Florence that progresses through a portion of her life through neat set art pieces.
A Short Hike: Another great short game where you control the protagonist on her journey to the peak of the mountain in… a short hike.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap: A pretty good remake effort of Wonder Boy III.
Oxenfree: An excellent game that features a great mysterious story, lively dialogue, and decision making that impacts relationships and the ending all squeezed into a couple of hours.
Touhou Luna Nights: It’s another Metroidvania, but it’s still good with its mechanics over manipulating time and regaining health and magic by being close to enemies.
My favorite older game I got to play in 2020 was Battle Garegga. I never heard of this game until I saw the game streamed at Daigo Umehara’s Kemonomichi 3 exhibition held in February 2020. In between exhibitions of Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter V was a new world record attempt of this 1996 vertical shoot ‘em up by T3-Kamui. I watched the stream through James Chen’s re-stream where he brought in two shoot ‘em up experts who were explaining Kamui’s play by play. Not only her play in the game was exciting (placing a Red Bull on the shot button to farm points while not dealing any damage to the boss was a highlight), but the instances of purposely dying with one of them being an exploit of game over and other insights by SoftDrink117 sold me on the game instantly.
I bought the game and surprisingly played it a good bit over 2020. While the game has been ported over to the PS4 and XBox One with neat bells and whistles that SoftDrink117 notes during the stream, it’s $35. Despite the price point, I found myself enjoying the game playing around with the different difficulty modes and seeing all the information off to the sides. My two major gripes with the game is not noting which icons get you which weapon and some of the enemy bullets camouflage with the background. Otherwise, it’s one of those shoot ‘em ups that populated arcades back in the 1990’s in its full glory, difficulty and all.
Linked here is the James Chen stream of T-3 Kamui run.
Coinciding with working from home is my increased time to having a game streamed while working. My current desk setup is that I have my lone home monitor pushed toward the back while my work laptop is in front of it with an older work monitor off to the side. Most days I’ll find a gaming stream to put on my home monitor to have it up while I toil away working on my work laptop and monitor. It’s nice to take a quick breather to look up and see what’s going on with a stream before going back in. Giant Bomb helped out greatly with their day-long streams months into the pandemic before paring it down toward the end of the year. Outside of Giant Bomb, there are two streamers that I’d like to shout-out that helped me get through working throughout the day from home.
I don’t know of DNOpls’s origin story but I’ve been a big fan of his streams once I started watching him. He typically streams old games on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons and either plans to play through a game or run through a variety of games. He typically averages just over 200 viewers per stream and occasionally gets subs and bits. What I love about his stream is his enthusiasm, knowledge, strange game selections, and use of channel points. It’s funny to hear a sound effect redeemed by viewers and the timing is just right where it throws him off. I liken his streams to a more wild version of Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann old game streams.
Sp00ky was one of the first to stream fighting game competitions (to my memory) and has kept it up for over ten years. He primarily streams the Next Level weekly locals held every Wednesday night at Next Level in Brooklyn and also provides his streaming service to regional and major fighting game tournaments such as Combo Breaker and EVO. With the pandemic, he has shifted his streaming schedule to run three weekly Next Level online tournaments for Street Fighter V (Wednesday), Dragonball FighterZ (Thursday), and Granblue Fantasy Versus (Saturday) while providing his streaming services for other online tournaments and in a few instance, some personal streaming. He’s the only Twitch channel that I have kept my recurring tier 1 subscription to and I appreciate him continuing to run his weeklies and keeping Granblue going despite its dwindling support.
Highlight Stream Fight - Next Level Online, Street Fighter V Week 14 Grand Final
I typically don’t stay up to watch the Next Level online tournaments to their completion as they typically end after far into the evening (after 11 PM Eastern). For this night, I was working far into the evening and didn’t feel tired enough to fall asleep after ending work so I decided to watch the rest of that night’s tournament as I already had it up. The quality of the fights in Top 8 were great with the Grand Finals being the highlight. All matches were very close and included one match ending in a draw, essentially making that match null and having to replay for that match. I know Street Fighter V didn’t make the best first impressions and still has a number of critics who follow the game’s progress since then, but the game is definitely in better shape with its work throughout the years. If you forced me to find one match that showcases what makes Street Fighter V great, this bout would be it.
Dealing with Lack of In-Person Events
The pandemic hit in-person events hard, where there may be a weekend or a week stretch where we would watch streams of what’s happening at those events. The lack of big convention events and fighting game tournaments to look forward to makes staying at home even more of a chore in finding out if there were any big news that broke or just chilling and watching great matches happen with crowd energy interjected. I miss getting the various reactions from the Giant Bomb editors to the E3 press conferences on location and watching the best of the best travel all around the world to see who’s best at which fighting game. While conventions and tournaments have gone digital, I have to wonder once we get over this pandemic if they’ll try to run it back all the way, go part way, or completely reconsider how to proceed. I have to wonder with costs and the need for a number of in-person assistance to hold an in-person event will owners and organizers can hold and if the attendees are willing to return.
On the fighting game events hand, I feel both organizers and attendees are willing to return. Even with more games implementing rollback netcode to reduce the amount of lag that occurs over an online match, it likely doesn’t compare to just battling someone in person under the optimism of lack of online interaction with offline battles. Plus the opportunity to meet new friends over a shared enthusiasm of fighting games can’t be beat. Though the concerns of event and personal safety won’t mitigate as there were numerous accounts of attacks against attendees in the past few years.
The conventions on the other hard I foresee as harder to see what’s to come for them in the future. The gaming community would target E3, Gamescom, and Tokyo Game Show are the shows where we were hoping to hear some groundbreaking news on a new game or something gaming related is now up in the air. Would companies be willing to put up the costs and manpower to travel and put on a presentation at an event worth it over just making an announcement through online company channels?
In the meantime, we’ll take what we can get through digital conferences and online tournaments.
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