Wow, it's been nine years. I didn't write as much as last year, partly because I took on so many small projects and did so much traveling this year. (There was one month where I was basically in a different country every week!) But overall I think this blogging pace has been sustainable, and for the future I'm going to aim for this kind of rhythm of posting: roughly once a week.
In the tradition of past anniversaries, I use this annual post to try to collect and curate all the blogging I did over the past year, and maybe even do a little bit of reflecting.
First: as usual, I cover some individual games...
- NSFware is one of the best sex games I've played, and I think my favorite thing about it is that it's so much about timing and feel -- yet it was made in Adventure Game Studio, an engine not known for its timing and feel (to be charitable). The process of rotoscoping from PornHub videos also lends it an uncanny quality, despite the abstract neon color palette. Basically a masterpiece.
- The Forgotten City was a popular Skyrim mod that felt very "dense" to me, with lots of possible options and connections between its various NPCs and quests. Like other "dense quests" in Bethesda-style open world RPGs, it also doubles as a commentary on the game systems and simulation, exposing assumptions and limitations and engaging with that friction.
- Subnautica brilliantly solves 3D 6DOF open world design in a novel way. Most open world games are about traveling laterally to the edges, but here Unknown Worlds provides a fresher approach to progression with its focus on (literal) depth to the bottom of the ocean. It's especially ambitious to do this in a first person format, a genre where players rarely look up or down.
- Fortune 499 is a innovative deckbuilding puzzle RPG with a fresh story that meaningfully engages with the accounting inherent in CCG-style mechanics. It also has some very compelling encounter design, resulting in an RPG with no grind and no "filler puzzles." It's a huge shame that more people didn't play this game, it basically does what everyone claims to want, and it's smart about it too.
- Un Pueblo De Nada is a short game mirroring an experimental short film within the Kentucky Route Zero universe. There's an attention to detail and craft here that is basically unmatched anywhere else in games; I've also become so paranoid that I think this game has secret messages intended just for me, hidden deep inside it??? Anyway GOTY 2018
I also did more level design projects this year...