Alright, considering I like to have my blog touch many facets of gaming, as well as personal projects and opinions, I’ve decided to break my “Obligatory New Years” rants and raves into a three-part post to save headache for everyone.
The first part is going to be my overall “Cheers & Jeers” of Gaming in 09. Yes, everyone and their dog has these posts; but many are quick to comment that none of these posts are your own until you make it. So, fine, by popular demand, here is one more gamer’s asshole opinion on the interwebs!
What 2009 Will be Remembered by Me for, Gaming-wise:
There is so much that has happened this year for me in my favorite hobby. First off, regular playing as opposed to every once in a blue moon, usually ending in frustration gaming. It was like a return to regular, fun, and passionate tabletop play as opposed to skipping most game nights for grinding a dungeon online in an MMO. It’s also the year I got my blog focused, and while many of my friends are probably disappointed that I stuck with a gaming blog over writing my own stuff, I’m really happy to at least be writing about a hobby I’ve been passionate about since I was a kid. Not to mention, joining the RPGBN has been a big thing to me. I’ve been getting a decent audience for my little rants, and I’ve been conversing with others who share similar passions. I’ve been glued to my RSS Feeds more than my browser; and I think single handedly the RPGBN has demonstrated the hobby is far from dead. The industry may be a little wonky; but there’s enough DIY and Independent peeps keeping fresh approaches coming. Also, in the video game department, I’ve been experiencing new platforms, new interactions, and having my own personal preferences and play styles shaken up. In the end, here is what I will remember 09 for in the gaming industry:
- Tabletop RPG: The Year Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Quit Sucking (for me.)
I was one of the original 4E haters, but I still wanted to keep my policy of playing anything, anytime, anywhere as long as it’s fun. My first impression of D&D 4E was not a fair one; I was the only one who even bothered to purchase one of the core rule books (the PHB) and the person running it hadn’t actually sat down and tried to learn it at the point, relying on a bootlegged PDF while waiting for his pre-orders. This year, with my regular World of Darkness group wanting to try something new, and with some convincing blog posts from guys like NewbieDM and Greywulf, I gave it another go. I purchased the Quick Start set, tossed the player booklet away but used the DM Guide, counters and tiles to test drive, and we had a blast. Most of my issues went away with PHB2, and what remained was easily remedied with a little elbow grease and home rules (which has been in every edition I’ve played.) Now I have an impressive library I’ve accumulated over the year, we’re coming to the end of a nice and long campaign, and I can say my players have been in love with their characters the whole ride. Best part? They’re already plotting their next ones.
- Video Game Wise: The Year Consoles Curb-Stomped the PC.
Not saying the PC didn’t have any polished hits; but this is the year where I broke down and invested in a PS3, and then a cheap Wii, and I haven’t regretted a minute of it. And to be honest, I feel the Consoles won with the spirit of the game and pushing the envelope for themselves, and I think this trend is going to continue. Where the PC really fell short, in my opinion, is when they tried to emulate the design of consoles and failed miserably. Especially when trying to design Peer-to-Peer multiplayer networks. Functionality and Multiplayer aside, I’ve just had more fun playing titles on the console this year than the PC market. Hell, the newest titles I’m enjoying on the PC — Borderlands and Dragon Age — as wel as older titles like Mass Effect, have console versions that are equal or on-par, and are not unique. I’m sure there’s some titles out there I missed in the PC landscape this year, but, none of them grabbed my attention.
- Tabletop Non-RPG: The Year I’ve decided Non-CCG card games are infinitely cooler.
Used to think CCG’s were like, the shiznit. Loved Magic in the heyday. I honestly haven’t bought a new booster of anything in forever; the latest I got into was Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, because I knew more peeps who played that than Magic anymore in my area. And that was just a married couple who had a collection. But man, after playing games like Ochos Vampiros, Inn-Fighting, and of course re-obtaining classics like Munchkin…even if the game markets a shit ton of expansions, having a game where everyone is on equal footing and not having to invest more just to play or compete is awesome.
And now, the actual Chaos Grenade Cheers & Jeers 09!
Cheers: D&D 4E For getting some content going, putting out some good material to make up for initial suck and void at launch, and actually being a fun, playable game this year loaded with possibilities!
Jeers: D&D 4E For maybe having a bit too much content this year. Sure, we don’t have to buy it all, but it does seem to flood with options. There’s also worried that with PHB3 and sequals to the Power Source-books, there’s about to a Palladium/RIFTs-style power creep with new classes using new mechanics and scaring the piss out of all of us.
Cheers: Wizards of the Coast for things like Dungeon Masters Guide II, the DND Hotline, and actually making the content on DNDInsider worth a subscription for someone starting in.
Jeers: Wizards of the Coast for fucking canning the PDFs. Guess what? Piracy still happens, and now we don’t have a legal solution, and you’re not getting our money there. Don’t know what you were thinking, but I’ll be honest: I’ll purchase the products from you guys. But then I’m not going to think twice about bootlegging a book I already own. Get over it, or give me a legal solution that doesn’t require a net connection (since my gaming spot is a WiFi dead zone with no net. True story. Fuck a fruit basket.)
Cheers: Masterplan DM’ing Software for being a purely awesome, all-inclusive piece of DM’ing software. As if encounter building and plot management wasn’t enough, you added a damn map maker AND a combat tracker AND a virtual tabletop for encounters all in the same, FREE, made-from-the-bottom-of-your-heart software. I can’t praise your efforts enough, thank you for speeding my games up.
Cheers Masterplan Again, for putting in DND Insider support for downloading monster stat blocks and items. Jeers Wizards of the Coast for not offering this man a job designing your tools.
Cheers NCSoft for the launch of Aion, it went pretty smoothly and the decision to ditch Game Guard was highly appreciated.
Jeers NCSoft for making claims Aion will smoke WoW, and instead it felt like a watered down clone with really, really good graphics. I loved the lore, I loved the setting, but it got very boring very quick.
Jeers NCSoft for putting out the “Visions of the Future” video; got our hopes up for a major update and now I know it’s just a fucking concept video designed to hold subscriptions on the hope the game will be that cool, some day. When it is that cool, I’ll come back.
Jeers NCSoft some more for shitcanning Dungeon Runners. Boo his boo, fuck you.
Even more Jeers for NCSoft for security flaws, hacked accounts, and the fact their shitty network even leaves a class act like Guildwars vulnerable. Fuck you.
Cheers to 2K Games, Gearbox for Borderlands. You took two great flavors, meshed them together, added cell shaded effects and got Cage The Elephant for an intro song. On top of that, you’ve made an awesome online experience THAT WASN’T AN MMO. Even better, you released it right when Aion turned to suck, and now you’re giving us new downloadable content right out the door. I can kiss you guys.
Jeers to Gearbox for the fact Borderlands multiplayer is still borked. However, Cheers to Game Ranger. You made Borderlands very playable in that area, and you always seem to come to the rescue when a good game has lousy networking.
Cheers to Paizo and Pathfinder, You’ve saved the d20 system and the OGL movement. The games are now out from under brand licensing, and given back to the players that make it. You guys rock.
Cheers to PEG Inc, just because this was the year I discovered Savage Worlds, and even if it’s been around a while it’s new to me.
I believe that’s 09 in a wrap up to me.
Coming up Next: Fear and Loathing in 2010 (or, what I’m looking forward and dreading).