2018 – The Year of Nostalgia and Stories

Unlike Bhagpuss, I don’t want more of the same old comfortable thing for 2018.

2017 felt like a very boring stagnant year for me, both game and blogging-wise.

I feel like I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for anything – bar a brief month of novelty when GW2’s Path of Fire launched, killed off rather rapidly by the furor around Mountgate (which I personally didn’t mind that much) and the worsening ping spikes I’ve been suffering since Arenanet’s migration to the AWS servers (which I DO mind, very much.)

Well, I did enjoy a fun spin in Warframe in the later part of the year (grindy achievement-based games take up so much time though); and I vented much of my frustration with GW2 by whaling it up to the tune of several hundred dollars for a Path of Exile supporter pack, so I’ve been getting my money’s worth in the Abyss League too.

fireandice

I talked myself into it by pretending it’s an up front yearly subscription. Theoretically, I’m now sitting on enough points to last me one or two years. Rationing out the points slowly, but the Fire and Ice mystery box is a nice temptation for my particle effects tastes.

Generally though, 2017 felt terribly uninspired all the same – I just kept playing the same old grindy collect-them-all go-up-numbers type of games.

Case in point, ManicTime has been silently tracking my gameplay time ever since I learned about the program from Endgame Viable:

For the Year 2017

  • Guild Wars 2 – 817 h
  • Path of Exile – 232 h
  • Minecraft – 202 h
  • Crusaders of the Lost Idols – 68 h
  • Warframe – 47.5 h
  • Paladins – 12.5 h
  • Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – 12 h
  • The Witness – 10 h
  • Slime Rancher – 10 h
  • The Wolf Among Us – 8.5 h (replayed)
  • Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms – 6.5 h
  • Lords of the Fallen – 4 h
  • Ziggurat – 3.5 h
  • Defender’s Quest – 2.5 h

~2 h – ARK, Deathless: The City’s Thirst, Offworld Trading Company, Master x Master, Final Fantasy X, Counterfeit Monkey, The Talos Principle, Human Resource Machine, American Truck Simulator

~1 h – Battleborn, Destiny 2 (the beta/demo), Shardlight, Paragon, Deathtrap, Space Run

I feel like I don’t even have a Top 20 Games Played List, if you disregard everything with play time from Lords of the Fallen and under, which are more sampling for variety than actual playing.

I killed time with some old stalwarts, tried a few other games here and there, but there was nothing terribly different or novel that drew me away from the increasingly dreary dailies of whatever game that served to increment resource X by Y amount.

Specific New Year’s Resolutions don’t feel appropriate right now. If I made them, they’d wind up -yet- another long term achievement goal I’d end up chasing, and 2017 felt like one long exhausting chain of long term achievement goals.

Instead, I have in mind more of a theme for the New Year, a sort of unifying mood and feeling to keep in view when I choose what to do for my leisure time.

That theme, curiously enough, is Nostalgia and Stories: looking back to move forward.

This last December, I’ve been unearthing and being reminded of things I once enjoyed, but stopped doing, often for reasons of time.

Simple things like getting more actual book reading in, or checking out and revisiting old tabletop RPG worlds (Shadowrun’s on the mind lately, for obvious reasons), or listening to old Youtube videos (I gotta finish Mirrorshades someday) or completing some old games (I stalled on the roof of a building in Shadowrun: Hong Kong, having been caught by surprise with a hard fight with a bad teamp comp, and never moved from there).

Or more complex and time-consuming things like actually sitting down to paint some miniatures (with fifteen year old paint that may or may not have survived storage), revisiting some old world settings in my homebrewed campaigns and writing, or playing through some oldie but goodie games (on a whim, I bought the remastered Planescape: Torment and pretty much every other Black Isle game this Steam Winter sale.)

It hasn’t escaped me that besides the nostalgia factor, a big common theme running through all of these wanna-do-someday things is that most of them involve stories.

Real honest-to-goodness beginning-middle-end narrative with actual characters and a world of some sort.

I think I miss that.

I’ve been playing one too many MMOs where either the stories are simplistic caricatures or loop around forever in a groundhog day repeat or continue on unresolved for months while we wait for the next patch update.

I’ve been playing one too many sandboxes and survival games where the do-it-yourself story is “pick up sticks, punch wood, accumulate resources to progress up the tech tree, build shelter, hoard shit (sometimes literally), and maaybe tell yourself a story if you can be bothered to invent your own lore and make up a narrative.”

This year, I want to purposefully start looking and making time for games and pastimes that have story more centrally in mind.

I don’t know what percentage of that is going to be old stuff – there are a lot of classics out there that I haven’t played or would love to replay or never actually finished.

There’s also new stuff out there that I simply haven’t found or made the time for. (And Detroit: Become Human is bound to be released -some- time in 2018… maybe.)

Anyway, no specific goals: story games can be really time-consuming stuff and I don’t actually know how many hours I can spare. But all the same, it’s a theme I’m excited to let guide me in 2018.

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3 thoughts on “2018 – The Year of Nostalgia and Stories

  1. Isey says:

    I made the comment somewhere about my Troll Warrior, Braack, in EQ (it was probably on my own blog… but not in a post) – that in EQ I had no problem playing an “evil” character because he wasn’t evil – just misunderstood. He went off and made friends and had adventures with all sorts of races, and only slulked back home to get supplies and visit his family – and he would put on an “evil” face to do that. He secretly couldn’t wait to get out of there.

    The problem with today’s quest guided MMOs is that I can’t say or do that, because the quests literally have me slaughtering innocents. So sometimes the existence of a story ruins storytelling.

    Same for me with Destiny 2 – Destiny 1 didn’t have a very fleshed out story and the bits I ended up filling in with my own imagination far outshone what they came up with in Destiny 2. So much so that the galaxy is ruined for me.

    Good luck in your quest! I am making the best of what I have. I wish I had the time and and the group do do a good old Pen and Paper campaign. That is truly where imagination can shine. Shadowrun was one of my favorites – I had a Troll Physical Adept named Javex. He kicked ass.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I think gaming is a terrible medium for storytelling. Interactive fiction is one thing but actual games, with rules and scores and victory conditions aren’t just a difficult fit with narrative, they’re fundamentally opposed to it. I make a huge distinction between Lore, which games can do well, and Story, at which they are awkward and unsatisfying.

    I’m certain that a major reason I’m very happy with the state of my own gaming is that it appeals to me on the level of a hobby like gardening or fishing – something you do with your hands while your mind flits to and fro between the detail of what you’re doing and entirely unrelated flights of fancy.

    I also find gaming has more in common with listening to music than with reading a book or watching a movie. Music can be listened to and enjoyed over and over again, often repeatedly in a relatively short period of time, whereas it’s unusual to read novels or watch movies dozens or even hundreds of times in the same year. I can do the same quests, let alone the same dailies, in the same way I listen to songs, except that, since the exact circumstances vary, with mobs, players and other factors conspiring to add some element of the unexpected from time time, it resembles attending a live performance more than listening to a recording.

    I hope you find something to please and delight you this year. I’m sure you will. Looking forward to reading your stories about story.

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