Contentment: The Dream

What is the difference between being content and being stuck in a rut? I feel like it is a state of mind. I want to address the last post. It may have been difficult to see, but I was in a dark place a few weeks ago. As I said, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I’ve never been depressed, but I feel like I was going down the path the leads to depression. How did I go from simply being content to being stuck in a rut?

I have always had goals in my life. I was always looking forward to the next goal to accomplish. I have always striven for being content and happy. I did not want to be rich or famous. Creating and accomplishing goals contributed to my happiness. The goals in school were easy. Get A’s, and move up to the next grade level until I graduate. Did I always get A’s? Most of the time, yes, but not all of the time. Did I graduate high school? Yep. Easy goals, although my younger self would probably argue differently. In high school, I had other, shorter term goals. I wanted to get my driver’s license. I got it shortly after I turned 16. My parents were gracious and gave me my mom’s old car, so I didn’t have to worry about making a goal of finding a car. Being able to drive created a new goal: get a job, so I could afford gas. I did. Worked part time at a grocery store one summer. Later I got a job at Target. Ever since high school I have always had a job.

In high school I grew as a person. I also realized I would graduate in a few years; I needed more longer term goals. I wanted to go to college, although I did not know what I wanted to major in. I wanted a career where I could be content after earning a degree, but I was not sure what career that might be. I wanted a house after I got a job in my career of choice. I hoped to find a companion that I could call my wife, and she could call me her husband. Lots of goals were created in high school. I was feeling pretty good about life.

After graduating high school I looked at my options for colleges. College is expensive. I decided I did not want to spend a ton of money for a piece of paper. So, I apply to the community college in my hometown. My reasoning was simple. It is cheap, and I could save money by living with my parents. I could also keep working at Target. Of course, they accepted me; most community colleges will accept you if you apply. However, I had a problem: still no major. What do I want to do for a career? I liked computers, so I had it narrowed down to either Information Technology (I.T.) or Computer Science. I decided that I would pursue my degree in I.T. Another goal in progress.

Again, more small goals like do well in classes, and make friends were set. Most of the time I was successful in completing the goals. I even got an internship in the I.T. I ended up graduating with an AAS from the community college. I was proud. I learned a ton, and I could see myself being happy and content in the I.T. field. I looked to pursue my next goal: get a career. Knowing that I wanted to have a full time career in I.T. I decided to pursue a BAS in Management Information Systems. A bachelor’s degree would help with the career goal. I could continue going to school at the community college, because they partnered with a four year university. It was also cheap.

After earning my BAS I was flying pretty high, but I knew that I had a hefty goal ahead of me. I needed a full time job in the field I had chosen. My internship continued after I graduated, but I needed to look for a “real” job. I was able to apply to several jobs in my hometown, including at the place that hired me for my internship. I interviewed, and was offered two jobs! Not very many people get choices on the job they want after college. I chose the full time position at the place I was interning at for four years.

So where did that leave me in life? I completed high school, college, and had a full time job in my career field. I had good friends, and people who cared for me. I still lived with my parents, and still hadn’t found love. So that leaves a few goals on the table, and a sense of purpose. Unfortunately, nothing changed for five years, which brought me to the post of two weeks ago. Still no house, and still no love. It never bugged me before, but all of a sudden it was a big deal. It wore at me emotionally. I felt like shit. I was no longer content, but stuck in a rut.

My focus was off. I was homing in on goals that I have not achieved. Those goals were somehow intimidating. All of these houses are out of my budget. All of these houses suck. I’m an asshole; why would anyone love me? All I could see were pitfalls.

So I needed to refocus. I went over all of my accomplished goals with myself. “Not only did you go to college for cheap, but you graduated with honors.” “Not only did you get a job in your career field within months of earning your degree, but you are boss values your thoughts and ideas.” “You can be selfish at times, but you are also incredibly empathetic.” “You value your friends, and they value in return.” I was able to list accomplishment after accomplishment. As cheesy was it sounds I gave myself a pep talk.

And it worked! It was easy to look at my unaccomplished goals and not fear them anymore. I have time to find the house that fits my budget and that I will love. Once I buy a house, I can actively search and find love. Until then, I will continue to love myself, and love my friends and family.

Turns out the difference between being content and being stuck is your outlook. There’s a need to move on in both outlooks. However, being stuck is seeing no future for yourself, while being content is seeing all of the possibilities of your future, but also loving who you are right now. Finally, I’m content; I’m content with moving forward.

So where do you go from here when it all disappears
Apathy dries your tears until you don’t care or you live and die
Occupied with disclaimers and reasons as to why realize life isn’t lived in fantasies
No matter how much planning or strategy
Joy comes along with tragedy I own them all gladly
John Reuben, All I Have

Archiving For A Purpose

I began archiving my old Blogspot blog today. I’m not really sure why. Google has kept it alive for a very long time, and they haven’t announced anything about shutting it down. I think I’m archiving it because it gives me something web design related to do. I don’t like dealing with the design aspects of WordPress, but I really like all of the features and plugins. As a result, I use a theme I can kinda customize, and keep it as is.

The archive process for the old blog is a similar process as when I archived my old Royfuss posts. Actually, I’m using the same template. I designed a new banner and some navigation buttons for it. It was the first time I opened up Photoshop in a very long time; the last time might’ve been when I archived my old Royfuss posts. It felt good create something in Photoshop, and tweak some web code. I actually spent a couple hours just doing that.

It’s going to take me awhile to archive the old blog. I’m copying and pasting each post and metadata, and I have to add some extra HTML tags along the way. I’m also taking the time to read/skim through the posts. I’m making notes of anything to highlight. Most likely, the full archive will be stored locally for my reference only. One day, I’d like to share the highlights here.

I think I’m also archiving the site, because I was hoping I would feel like I was accomplishing something. I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut lately. I was optimistic when the new year started, but now I just feel like I’m going no where. Reading through the old posts from the blog can be entertaining, funny even. But for the most part, it just reminds me that time flies. I’m working on posts from January 2004, which was 14 years ago. It’s weird when you can look back and remember things from over a decade ago. Some of it feels like it just happened maybe five years ago.

I need to get my shit together. I hate feeling like this. I’d rather read the old posts when I am in a state of mind where I can smile and laugh, more than think about how much time has passed.

Burn Out Leads to Emotion

I needed a little break after writing Games of 2017. It was a lot of work putting the post together. I didn’t mean to take a break for month. However, I am feeling a little burned-out.

I started writing blog posts when I was fifteen; I was in 9th grade. In 2003, Myspace was gaining traction, but everyone I knew had a blog. I had a Blogger blog. When I first started, I posted almost everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. In 2003, I posted five blog posts; first post was on December 29th. In 2004, I posted a whopping 255 blog posts! Looking back at those numbers, I can’t believe it. In 2005, I only posted 69 times. However, in October, I launched my website, Royfuss, as a supplement to my blog. By 2006, I was down to just 25 posts on the old blog. In 2007 I posted 22 posts, with my last post about the end of my first semester of college. I don’t have statistics for the old Royfuss website (mainly because I’m too lazy to manually count them), but I imagine the numbers are similar, so I was probably pushing around 50 or so posts a year. I would continue to use Royfuss as my blog from 2008 to 2010. Although I posted somewhat consistently, I did not hit anywhere close to 50 posts a year. 2011 saw the launch of my website Your Personal Gamer. It was a blog just for video games. I posted a few posts, but not many. In 2012, I relaunched Royfuss in a WordPress site, and merged Your Personal Gamer into it. Royfuss then became my primary, and only, blog. Old Royfuss posts were archived here. Not much has changed since then. Posts became less and less frequent. That brings up to present, where I make excuses for the n-teenth time about not blogging, and comment about how long it has been.

It’s weird going back to my early blog posts. 9th graders were still in the middle school when I was fifteen. Some 9th graders could drive, but most of us didn’t. I lived far enough away from the middle school that my older brother gave me a ride home everyday. After school, I would write blog posts. Recently, I read through some of them. They are awful. Most of them are a jumbled mess. I would not have considered myself “random” back then, but those blog posts are all over the damn place.

The old posts are cringe worthy to go back and read, but they are also my life. I can tell you who I had for 9th grade English, my first day of high school, when I started my job at Target, and what I felt when I graduated from high school and moved on to college. When looking back, how I felt is important to me now. I can tell you how I felt when my cousin was killed by a drunk driver. I can tell you how I felt when I heard my best friend’s brother was killed in Afghanistan.

Over time, I became less random. I became better at finding a topic to write about, and sticking to it. I started editing my posts before hitting that “Publish” button. Although I’m not a great writer, I feel I am a better one. However, for years my posts have been missing emotion; my feelings. Hopefully, my first couple of posts from this year made up for some of the missing emotion.

Today, I was feeling burnt; I lost my steam. I have finished over six video games in two month. I’m so burned-out that I can’t even list them right now. I am also just plain burned-out in general. I feel like I need to be doing more, but I just feel burned-out. I started writing this blog post about one thing, and just couldn’t. It didn’t feel right. So, instead you get me reminiscing, and talking about how my blog needs more emotion. This feels right.

Games of 2017

2017 was an odd year in gaming for me. My list of games contains new games, old games, replays of games, remastered games, and Zelda games. I began 2017 hoping to put a dent in my backlog. With everything that ended up happening, 2017 became the year of my comfort gaming. I have a whopping twenty games on the list this year, which surprises me. This list is ordered in the order I started to play the game in 2017. Each game gets its own special category. I also include some stats about my play sessions. All stats are captured from this year; the stats do not include older playthroughs. Let’s begin.

This is not Portal, pesky human

The Turing Test (PC)

Release date: 8/30/2016
Number of hours played: 7.5
Number of achievements earned: 15/15
Number of screenshots taken: 81
Games of 2017 - The Turing Test

T.O.M. – you spelt “center” wrong, you asshole. This is America.

The Turing Test does nothing wrong. The graphics are great. The sound design creates an eerie atmosphere. The puzzle mechanic is unique. Overall, the gameplay is solid. Everything comes together to create a good game, but not a great one. The premise is interesting. You wake up on a space station, and are informed your team has gone missing on Europa. You are guided by an A.I. named T.O.M. Once on the ground, you discover the ground team has setup puzzles that only humans can solve, hence, the title of the game, The Turing Test. The narrative between T.O.M. and the main character is alright, but the story never surprises or does anything interesting. The puzzle mechanic is unique, but the puzzles are mostly bland. A few puzzles I struggled with, only to realize I was not properly introduce to a new mechanic. The game is fine, but that is mostly because it is not a full priced game. It’s a good budget title.

Even Higher!

Just Cause 3Air, Land & Sea Expansion Pass (PC)

Release date: 3/15/2016, 6/11/2016, 8/18/2016
Number of hours played: 10
Number of achievements earned: 13/19 (56/66 for full game)
Number of screenshots taken: 22
Games of 2017 - Just Cause 3 DLC

Eden, Rico can only get so erect.

The Land, Air, and Sea Expansion Pass for Just Cause 3 is the perfect excuse to jump back into the world of Just Cause. I played the base game back in 2015, but I wanted to wait until all three DLCs were released before jumping back into the chaos. The three DLCs are separate, and each one tells a different story. Of course, Rico has to save the day in each one. Each DLC adds something new. The Air adds the Bavarium wing suit. It allows you to fly around the map and reach new heights to solve the problems found in the sky… or just cause (ha!) more chaos. The Land adds mechs to the Just Cause universe. They add new ways to destroy. The Sea adds the Loochador rocket boat. It’s a boat designed with rockets, because, just ’cause. The Expansion Pass is the perfect excuse to return to the game. The new modes of transportation and destruction is well worth the extra price.

Fun, the sequel

Dishonored 2 (PC)

Release date: 11/11/2016
Number of hours played: 104
Number of achievements earned: 50/50
Number of screenshots taken: 121
Games of 2017 - Dishonored 2

The whole mansion is this insane. Each lever you pull, the mansion does weird shit like this.

Dishonored 2 is my favorite kind of game. I loved the first Dishonored, because it let me play how I liked. I love sneaking around, exploring the levels, and stabbing/knocking out every single enemy in sight. Of course, you don’t have to play like that. You could run around in plain view, and fight everything that gets in your way. Dishonored 2 is more of that, but with even more unique and interesting level design. Entire levels change up the formula defined by the first game. Rooms can change with the pull of a level in Jindosh’s mansion. In Stilton’s manor, you travel between the past and present. Plus, the developers added a second playable character. She has a completely different set of skills than her father, Corvo. I would have been happy with a fresh coat of paint for a sequel, but the level design and the new skills really make this a sequel that surpasses the first.

Why would I use fast travel?

Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)

Release date: 2/28/2017
Number of hours played: 86.75
Number of achievements earned: 56/56 (56/58 post patch)
Number of screenshots taken: 91
Games of 2017 - Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn – photo mode the game

Horizon Zero Dawn may very well be the best game I have ever played. The open world is rich, and filled with discovery. I chose to walk to my destination over using a mount or fast travel. The enemies (dinosaur robots, for Pete’s sake!) require study and strategy to successfully take down. I could never just run into combat with a random weapon, and mash buttons; I would die. The lore and story run parallel with one another. As the mystery of the apocalypse untangles, so does Aloy’s story. I cared what happened to Aloy, because I cared about the world (and vice versa). Plus the world is absolutely breath taking.

Crawling in vents

Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Missing Link DLC (PC)

Release date: 8/23/2011 and 10/18/2011
Number of hours played: 31
Number of achievements earned: 40/59
Number of screenshots taken: 57
Game of 2017 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

In the future, everyone just throws their papers and magazines everywhere

Deus Ex: Human Revolution scratches my sneak around and knock people out itch. It does not do as good of a job as Dishonored, but it has the cyberpunk angle. I did not really like the combat in Human Revolution too much, but I had a blast finding every nook and cranny in each level. I tried to play the game when I first bought it, but it did not grab my attention. I stopped playing after an hour or two. I started over in 2017, and I had a lot of fun. The level design and lore/story made the journey worth it.

Punching through walls

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PC)

Release date: 8/23/2016
Number of hours played: 44.75
Number of achievements earned: 35/81
Number of screenshots taken: 35
Games of 2017 - Mankind Divided

Augment those rights, yo.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was the main reason I tried Human Revolution again. Sneaking around and knocking out enemies in a cyberpunk setting sounded cool, so I gave it a shot. I liked Human Revolution. On paper, Mankind Divided sounded like a proper sequel. Better graphics and more cool skills. The game has a lot of hidden nook and crannies, but the level design was not as interesting to me. I came to dislike Prague, where I spent most of my time. The city is split into two parts, and has a loading screen between the two areas. Missions constantly have you move back and forth between the two areas. It is annoying. The story is interesting, but not as interesting as Human Revolution. At this point, I am invested and will most likely get the next game in the series, if they make one.

Comfort gaming

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (GBC)

Release date: 12/15/1998
Number of hours played: 16?
     (forgot to track; rough guess between How Long To Beat 
     and the other Zelda GBC games)
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 2
Games of 2017 - Link's Awakening

A giant poke-a-dot egg. Kinky.

By the time July rolled around, I needed some comfort gaming. I went back to my very first Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I originally played it on my gray Gameboy, but this time I played the DX version on the Gameboy Color. I had a very strong sense of adventure as a kid, so Zelda should have appealed to me. I could best the first dungeon in Link’s Awakening, but I had trouble figuring out how to get into the second dungeon. Even though I could not get to the second dungeon, I would still play the game over and over again as a kid. In high school, I played through most of the Zelda games, and I finally beat Link’s Awakening to completion. Turns out I needed to find Bow-Wow to progress. Playing Link’s Awakening in 2017 really hit the spot for me. Nostalgia makes this my favorite 2D Zelda game. It also started a new Zelda binge in 2017.

Not as relaxing as I had hoped

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (GBC)

Release date: 5/14/2001
Number of hours played: 18.5
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 5
Games of 2017 Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

I’m mother nature, bitch!

After completing Link’s Awakening, I was still craving more Zelda on the Gameboy. I decided to tackle the Oracle series, starting with The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. I played the Oracle games for the first time during my Zelda high school binge, but I remembered very little about them. I remember really liking them for some reason. Oracle of Seasons plays very much like Link’s Awakening. You get a staff that can change the seasons if you stand on tree stumps. Changing the seasons is a really cool mechanic. You can also ride animals, including a kangaroo. However, Oracle of Seasons is not as much fun as I remembered. I actually died a lot; the enemies are kinda brutal. Changing seasons is still a cool mechanic, and the puzzles are top notch for the series.

Hah! System link… get it?

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (GBC)

Release date: 5/14/2001
Number of hours played: 18.75
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 1
Games of 2017 Zelda Oracle of Ages

Isn’t that adorable? Link is serenading a tree. Wait… is Link an arborphiliac?

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages was my favorite of the two Oracle games. Where Seasons only allowed you to change seasons in a limited number of locations, Ages allows you to pretty much switch between the past and present almost anywhere. This makes the mechanic a lot more interesting. I probably liked it more because of the linking system between the two games. Linking allows you to unlock more items, as well as play the combined ending. The payoff for linking the two Oracle games is very satisfying.

The beginning of items

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

Release date: 4/13/1992
Number of hours played: 15
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 3
Games of 2017 Zelda A Link to the Past

Here we see Link being worshiped by his followers in the Church of Zelda.

After completing the Gameboy Zelda games, I was still craving more 2D Zelda. So, I played through The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. My cousin owned this game on the Super Nintendo, and I would watch my brother and him play it (they were kinda mean to me and wouldn’t let me play). I really did not remember too much about it from my childhood. I completed it during my high school Zelda binge, and loved it. I remembered quite a bit about this game when I played through it again in 2017. Everything from the story, map, dungeons, and items are Zelda staples of more modern Zelda games. Pretty much everything that makes Zelda, Zelda, was either started in this game, or refined. If I were to toss nostalgia out the window, I think The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past would be my favorite 2D Zelda game.

Buttery smooth on PC as well

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)

Release date: 9/30/2014
Number of hours played: 37.5
Number of achievements earned: 59/74
Number of screenshots taken: 27
Games of 2017 Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Watch me chop this orc like a fucking tree

Normally, I play games two at a time. When I started my Zelda binge, I was playing one game at a time. When I got to A Link to the Past, I decided to start a second game, but I did not want it to be a Zelda game. Instead, I chose Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Yeah, the game made the list in 2014, but that was the PS4 version. Also, I had never played the DLC. I bought it the game of the year edition on PC, and needed to get some achievements. The base game was as great I remembered. Killing Orcs (or whatever the hell they are called in this game) is a ton of fun. The Lord of the Hunt DLC is more orc killing fun, but with new mounts and more Tovin, the wise-cracking, hunter dwarf! Sneaking up on orcs while mounted on a Caragath is entertaining, and ridiculous. Like, how the fuck can’t they see me while I am on the back of a very large wolf-creature? The Bright Lord DLC, sounded cool, but really wasn’t. It disappointed me and I never finished it. Expanding on the character Celebrimbor is cool, but removing almost everything that made the game fun is not cool. Overall, revisiting the game on PC was worth it.

Shiney but the same

Starcraft: Remastered (PC)

Release date: 8/14/2017
Number of hours played: 44
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 12
Games of 2017 Starcraft Remastered

I imagine Oprah’s spit is the same thing a hyrdalisk spits

Starcraft: Remastered was the perfect excuse to play through the story again. I love the lore of Starcraft. I am not good at Starcraft. I can beat the Terran campaign, and part of the Zerg campaign without cheating. However, to finish the story, I used cheats, and I don’t care. I still had fun. The remaster is a faithful remaster. The graphics have been redone, and they look great in widescreen and 4k. All of the mechanics and physics are the same, for better or worse. Starcraft 2 is infinitely better in the gameplay department, but I still love revisiting this game for its story. Thank you Blizzard for making it playable on modern systems.

Shiney but also better

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)

Release date: 6/19/2011
Number of hours played: 28.75
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 103
Games of 2017 Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D

I never noticed, but link has some freakishly long legs

Speaking of remasters, I played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D after completing A Link to the Past. Where Starcraft was a faithful remaster (keeping the gameplay and everything intact), Ocarina of Time 3D remasters the original designers’ intentions. I played Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 for the first time in high school, and it had not aged well by that time. The graphics were awful, and the frame rate was atrocious. It actually affected gameplay in things like the Water Temple. However, Ocarina of Time 3D, fixes all of that. The game is just beautiful, and it runs at a respectable 30 FPS; compared to the N64 version, it is silky smooth. The touch screen makes the inventory management bearable, as well as easy access to the map without pausing. The remaster designers also made some visual tweaks to dungeons, making navigation in the Water Temple logical, and easy to figure out without backtracking too much. The remaster actually bumped this game up to one of my favorite Zelda games, if not my most favorite.

A bump of HD

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (WiiU)

Release date: 9/20/2013
Number of hours played: 37.75
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 8
Games of 2017 Zelda The Wind Waker HD

Sailing. Now with permanent NOS!

Wind Waker was my favorite Zelda game, so I had to play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for the WiiU after playing Ocarina of Time 3D. I actually got this game when I bought the Wind Waker edition of the WiiU, but I never got around to playing it. My Zelda binge was the perfect excuse. Wind Waker did not really need an HD remake, but boy does it look great in HD. The touch pad is also very handy for item management and referencing the map. They did make one tweak: they made the game less tedious. They added a sail where you go faster, and you don’t have to manually change the wind directory when sailing. It is the perfect minor tweak, that does away with a lot of tedium that sailing and exploring can cause. Wind Waker is as good I remembered. The Ganon in Wind Waker is my favorite version of the character. It’s difficult to choose between Ocarina of Time 3D and Wind Waker HD for favorite Zelda, but I think Wind Waker edges it out. I think Wind Waker will continue to age well, but Ocarina of Time 3D might not because of art style.

Touch screen controls suck

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)

Release date: 10/1/2007
Number of hours played: 2.25 (unfinished)
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 4
Games of 2017 Zelda Phantom Hourglass

Great… another fairy. This one represents crappy touch screen controls.

Normally I don’t put games that I didn’t complete on this annual list, but I decided to make an exception with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. I tried to play Phantom Hourglass when it was first released, but couldn’t get into it; I put it down after an hour. After having so much fun with Wind Waker, I just wanted more of the world. So I decided to give Phantom Hourglass another go since it was a direct sequel to Wind Waker. Nope, still did not like it, but I did decide to at least complete one dungeon. I hate the touch screen only controls. I think the movement should at least be tied to the D-pad. Completing the first dungeon was such a chore. I completed it, and made it back to the central dungeon, and then I turned it off. I found out I would have to go through the central dungeon several times, and I was not having any of that. The story did not grab me, the gameplay sucked, and so I was not going to waste my time.

Poorest implementation of a stamina bar

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Release date: 11/20/2011
Number of hours played: 45
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 18
Games of 2017 Zelda Skyward Sword

You literally raise your sword skyward in this game… I miss when they used puns using Link’s name

Speaking of bad Zelda games, I also played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Unlike Phantom Hourglass, I actually completed Skyward Sword in 2017. I originally played it when it was first released, and I got pretty far before losing interest. I could not remember why I lost interest, so Zelda-Binge 2017 was the perfect excuse to replay. It does three things wrong. First, the motions controls are a problem. After getting used to it, the sword fighting was cool, and the one-to-one movement with the controller added strategy to sword fights. The motion controls were great for most of the items. The Wii Motion Plus elevated the motion controls from a shallow gimmick to a cool feature. However, the motion controls leave little room for mistakes, which can be very frustrating, especially in the heat of a boss battle. Minor gestures have you doing things that you did not plan. Also, mainly because of the motion controls, this game has some of the longest tutorials ever in a Zelda game. The second issue is the stamina bar. It serves no good purpose. It can’t be upgraded, so all of the obstacles are perfectly spaced so you can get through them without depleting your stamina. It depletes in a matter of seconds, and takes three times longer to replenish. It makes “running” around the world annoying as hell when you have to stop every three seconds and walk for 10. This leads into the third issue, which is backtracking. You are constantly backtracking, and the sky, hub world is filled with so much empty space. It is really a shame Skyward Sword has these issues. The music and sound design is some of the best of any of the Zelda games, and maybe of any game period. The story adds a lot to the Zelda lore, and has some of the best characters in the series. The dungeon and item design is some of the best in the series as well. It is hard for me to recommend, but it is also a sin to not play this game if you are a Zelda fan.

Complete the story

Starcraft 2 (PC)

Release date: Wings of Liberty - 7/27/2010
              Heart of the Swarm - 3/12/2013
              Legacy of the Void - 11/10/2015
Number of hours played: 52.75
Number of achievements earned: Lots
Number of screenshots taken: 23
Games of 2017 Starcraft 2

Zealots would make good chefs… wait

After finishing Starcraft Remastered, I decided I needed to play Starcraft 2. I never finished the last expansion, Legacy of the Void, so I figured I might as well start at the beginning of Starcraft 2, and finish the story. I really love the lore and characters from Starcraft, and Starcraft 2 is a lot more intimate with the characters. Wings of Liberty is focused on James Raynor, and trying to save his love. Heart of the Swarm is about Sarah Kerrigan getting revenge on the one she hates the most. Legacy of the Void is a little more larger scale; save the universe from a great evil. In the end my favorite part of the three campaigns is how the ending tied up the story of Raynor and Kerrigan. It was fun to watch it from the beginning in the first Starcraft, to the end of Legacy of the Void.

Best use of time

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)

Release date: 2/13/2015
Number of hours played: 30.75
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 32
Games of 2017 Zelda Majora's Mask 3D

Gather around as Link plays a ditty

My high school Zelda binge was missing Majora’s Mask. For my 2017 binge, I decided to play The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. To some Zelda fans, Majora’s Mask is their favorite, and boy do I see why. It’s different, but still feels like Zelda. I am surprised no one has successfully pulled off the time mechanic like Majora’s Mask did. If you don’t know, you have three days to save the world. If you run out of time, time resets back to the beginning of the three days, and you lose most of your progress. However, you get to keep your masks. The masks do some cool and clever things to help you progress in the world. The time mechanic should have made me stressed, but I had a lot of fun with it. It’s implemented just right, and would be very difficult for another game to pull off without stressing the player. Being on the 3DS, it runs and looks great. It is not my favorite Zelda, but I can definitely see why so many people love it.

I guess it’s HD

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (WiiU)

Release date: 3/4/2016
Number of hours played: 42
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 6
Games of 2017 Zelda Twilight Princess HD

Wolf Link is calmed by the blazing hot sun

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD takes place in the same timeline as Majora’s Mask, so I decided to play it next. I played it on the Wii when it first came out; in fact, Twilight Princess was the reason for my Zelda binge in high school. The graphics definitely look better in HD, but definitely not as good as The Wind Waker HD‘s graphics. It has to do with the art style. Twilight Princess went for a gritty look with a lot of greens and browns. The Twilight realm is pretty, but everything else looks like a HD release of a Wii game. Graphically, Twilight Princess will continue to age poorly. However, that’s not why one plays Zelda. I love Twilight Princess. It checks all of the boxes of a fun Zelda game. Unique items. Fun dungeons and puzzles. Epona. A sidekick. It even goes beyond by introducing Link’s wolf form and the Twilight realm. However, I can’t stop feeling a little bit of disappointment. It’s definitely a great game, and a great Zelda game, but I feel like it has more potential that it did not achieve. I can’t really explain why I feel that way, but that’s how I feel. Maybe I am just getting tired of Zelda after playing so many games in the series in a row.

Swearing at Toad has never been more fun

Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

Release date: 12/4/2011
Number of hours played: 25.25
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 195
Games of 2017 Mario Kart 7

Bowser is pissed

Originally, I did not think Mario Kart 7 would make the cut for 2017. However, I visited family, and had a lot of time to kill riding in the car. Between the traveling in the car, and downtime during the holidays, I was able to get at least one star on all of the grand prix races, and put in a lot of races online. It is odd having played Mario Kart 8 before 7; it is a de-evolution of the series. Many things I praised Mario Kart 8 for doing are present in Mario Kart 7 in a simpler form. However, Mario Kart 7 does offer some of my favorite tracks ever created for a Mario Kart game (three of them appear in Mario Kart 8; one I hate also appears in 8). Overall, I like having a portable Mario Kart, even if it is a step down from 8.

2017 Gaming Statistics

Total number of games played: 24
Total number of hours: 725+
Total Number of gaming sessions: 315+
Oldest game played: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (4/13/1992)
Newest game played: Starcraft: Remastered (8/14/2017)
Game with most achievements earned: Horizon Zero Dawn (56)
Game with most hours played: Dishonored 2 (104)
Personal game of the year: Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)

As I mentioned, I needed some comfort gaming. Zelda, Starcraft, and Shadow of Mordor all filled that role. I was able to put a small dent in my backlog by playing the two new Deus Ex games, and the Just Cause 3 DLCs. I also played some newer games. The Turing Test had come out just a few months before I played it, as well as one of my personal favorites, Dishonored 2. If it weren’t for Horizon Zero Dawn, Dishonored 2 would have won my personal game of the year for this list. Horizon Zero Dawn came out, and I knew I had to play it right away; it is so good.

How was 2017 for the health of the video gaming industry? Pretty damn good. Nintendo is kicking ass with the Switch, with outstanding titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey. Arkane put out two single play games I need to play this year: Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, and Prey. Nier: Automata and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus are also on my play list. For shorter games with AAA shine, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice look great. I also hope to play them in 2018, but we will have to see. I am not a big multiplayer fan, but I love to watch Muyskerm play Playerunknown’s Battle Grounds (PUBG). I am also not a fan of horror games, but it looks like Resident Evil 7 brought the series back on great footing. There has also been a ton of indie games, like Cuphead and Everything getting critical acclaim. I could go on and on listing the great games of 2017.

2017 was not all good for gaming, but no year is completely without controversy. Loot boxes and pay-to-win game design were huge controversies in 2017. However, these things have been in gaming for a lot longer than most people realize. Most of the games in the previous paragraph (the exception being PUBG) do not have loot creates and/or pay-to-win mechanics. I will reiterate what I said last year: gamers need to buy fun games. As a consumer, gamers have many resources at their disposable to make educated purchases on what game they think will be fun, and which ones won’t. There is no need to boycott a publisher. People forget that EA published Titanfall 2, which was showered with praise and free updates. At the same time, if you think the loot boxes in Battlefront 2 (also EA) will affect the amount of fun you will have in the game, then do not buy it; buy something else. Gamers have all of the power in this relationship.

I did not get around to too many new games in 2017. Honestly, there are only a handful of games coming out in 2018 that I am excited for. I am hoping I can make a huge dent in my backlog in 2018.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I spent a lot of time gathering the screenshots you see here; I hope I captured some shots you think are cool. I am a numbers guy, and I manual track many of the statistics shared in this post. You probably do not care, but I think it adds some context to my opinion of the game. Generally, the higher percentage of achievements I get, the more I like the game. It’s not always true; sometimes the achievements are just really easy to get. The hours played should fill in the rest of the context. I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I hope your life will be filled with fun in 2018.

I Care

Note 01/29/2018: I wrote this July 22, 2017. Two days after the death of Chester. I wrote it, saved it, and closed it. I knew I wanted to publish it, but I was not ready at the time. I looked at it for the first time to edit it after 2017 – Raw Hindsight was published. I edited it before posting, but with the intent to keep the raw emotion intact. I actually shed tears while editing this article; I also smiled. I did not want to rewrite it from my January 2018 perspective. That would ruin the therapy.

I have been meaning to write about two things. One, about the bad shit happening in my life in 2017. Two, a review for Linkin Park’s newest album, One More Light. Chester Bennington’s, the lead singer of Linkin Park, death brings about reason for me to write about both. Somewhere I can place my emotions.

Chester committed suicide July 20th. This is one of the few celebrity deaths to shake me to my core. I make no secret that I am a huge fanboy for Linkin Park; I probably understate my affection for the band. Chester’s voice carried me through some of the most emotional times of my life. The songs from Hybrid Theory and Meteora got me through my teenage years. The lyrics are often times memeified as “angsty,” which is not 100% wrong, but that’s also the kind of music I needed in my teenage years. Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns carried me through my post high school life as I formed my own opinions about how the world should and shouldn’t work. A lot of the lyrics from these albums are filled with political statements about how things are going wrong, but they also offer hope. Living Things and The Hunting Party came about when I became a functioning member of society; a life with a career and other adult things. The lyrics are filled with motifs like losing a relationship, feeling powerless in life, and masquerading as someone you are not. I literally grew up with Linkin Park, and Chester’s voice playing in my head.

My anticipation for their newest ablum, One More Light, was nothing I have ever experienced. Before it was released, the members of Linkin Park commented that they had changed their writing process for this album. They wrote the lyrics and melodies before the music. They treated their writing sessions like group therapy; “how was everyone’s day?” someone would ask. Everyone answered honestly, and based on the answers, they would write lyrics. If a band member was feeling like they were neglecting their family, they would talk, and write lyrics. When someone close to them died, they wrote the title track, One More Light. This writing process definitely shines through the album. The album shows you what it is like to be human. The melodies might be upbeat, but the lyrics are downright emotional.

Chester’s singing cuts right down to the core, from the start of the first track Nobody Can Save Me. “I’m dancing with my demons, I’m hanging off the edge, storm clouds gather beneath me, wave break above my head.” Chester’s vocals paint a very desperate picture. “Who cares if one more light goes out, well I do,” from One More Light is filled with caring and empathy. I love it when Chester performs this track live and yells “I do!” near the end. The final track Sharp Edges, Chester sings “Sharp edges have consequences, Now every scar is a story I can tell.” Chester’s voice gets sharp by the end between “can tell.” That bite shows us this man has experienced so many sharp edges from life. The song writing on this album is Linkin Park’s best work, but it is also Chester’s best vocal work. His voice drips with emotion. I can tell these songs mean a lot to him.

By the beginning of the 2017, Linkin Park had shared that they were writing the lyrics first, and that this album would be the most human album they had ever created. This sounds cool, and made me excited for the album. However, something else fed my anticipation for the album; gave me need to hear it. 2017 has been shit for me, and this album sounded like something I needed.

In January, my mom was rushed to the emergency room. She was moved to the ICU, and needed a breathing tube. My mom was pretty calm, and told us not to worry and go home. As the nurses were prepping her breathing tube, the doctor took us aside and said, “The swelling is getting worse, and if we don’t put in a breathing tube she could die…” and at that point, I stopped listening. Die? My mom? Being in your late twenties, and told that your mom might die shakes you to the core. Can you imagine a world without your mom? I couldn’t. I had a minor crisis at this point.

February rolled around. Family and friends were gathered at my house. We were playing Jackbox, and having a good time. A huge “POP!” noise broke our laughter. The lights flickered. Someone ran to the basement and yells “fire!” I called 911, and the firefighters arrived. The circuit breaker caught fire. We were without power for two days; we were out of our house for a week.

March. My cousin died in a house fire, leaving behind two toddlers, one less than a year old, and a wife, not to mention his parents and the rest of our family. No parent should have to bury their kid. We went to his funeral, and visited my grandma in the nursing home. She was not feeling too well, and wanted to sleep…

Easter in April was rough. We visited my grandma in the nursing home. She was not getting out of bed or eating. She did not look like herself. What should be a fun time with food and family, was a very solemn occasion. We have Easter dinner with my uncles, but everyone’s thoughts were preoccupied about my grandma. I knew this would be the last time I see her, and I made the most of it. Leaving shook me to the core. One of my friends got married out of town a week later. I went, and put on a fake smile, and pretended to have fun on the days leading up to the wedding. At the reception, another friend and I snuck out for a moment to visit the bar. We were sitting there in silence, and he asked me, “How are you doing?” I broke down, and answered truthfully, “Shitty. I can’t stop thinking about my grandma, no matter how much I pretend.”

In May, we had my grandma’s funeral. I do not know how my uncle can take it; burying his son, and now his mother. The entire family was shaken. She taught us the importance of family. She is the reason we have frequent family reunions, and the reason why I know my cousins, even though they all live several hundred miles apart.

By the middle of May, One More Light could not come soon enough. It was so much more than just anticipating their new writing approach. I did not know what it could provide me. I just knew I needed it. I eagerly awaited the leak, so I could listen to it early. It did not leak until the week of release. I hungrily downloaded it, hoping it could provide me with something I needed. Hoping it would be everything I needed it to be. And it was. No other album in my catalog could lift my heavy heart. I feel like life dealt me a shit hand in 2017. One More Light reminds me the heaviness is all about being human. Life can be cruel sometimes, but you have to revel your battle symphony and march onward.

Chester’s death left a hole in the world. He marched onward despite his depression. Abuse, drug addiction, loss, and more contributed to it. But he touched so many lives with his voice. He helped others fight their own depression, even if he couldn’t save himself. For that, I thank him, and wish someone could have saved him.

I could bury myself in the depression, but I choose not to. My mom didn’t die in January. She wasn’t worried in the least, and told us to go home, while nurses ran around preparing her for her breathing tube. She told us not to worry her mom (my other grandma who is still alive), or her sister. Of course, we did the opposite, and they came and supported her. She made a full recovery, and I am thankful for that.

The fire in February didn’t hurt anyone. It didn’t even destroy any of our belongings. All it did was kill our power for a few days, and made our house smell like smoke for a week. That was cleaned up, and we were able to continue to live normally.

My cousin’s death left a hole in this world. But all I can do is continue to live and remember him as he was.

My grandma lived to be 97 years old. My grandpa died when I was ten, and I remember him a little bit, but not very well. With my grandma, I was able to get to really know her, and learn from her. I’m able to take the lessons she taught me, and apply them to my life. I would not be the same person I am today without her. Having her for 28 years of my life is a blessing, and I won’t take that for granted.

One More Light can be a very sad album, especially if you are someone who life seems to keep throwing shit at you. Addiction, loss of a loved one, or not being able to be there for the ones you love. All of these themes can be found in the album. But we must not forget that this album wasn’t written by a robot. This was written by a group of people; people who have felt all of these things. Chester was one of them, and hearing the songs he sang from this album, you could tell there was true emotion in his voice. The words that Linkin Park wrote, the vocals of Chester and Mike, and my own personal experience makes this one of the most important album I have ever heard.

My heart goes out to Chester’s family, his friends, and the rest of Linkin Park. I pray that Chester doesn’t feel like he’s hanging off the edge anymore. RIP.

I don’t have a leg to stand on, Spinning like a whirlwind nothing to land on
Came so far never thought it’d be done now, Stuck in a holding pattern waiting to come down
Cause I’m tired of the fear that I can’t control this, I’m tired of feeling like every next step’s hopeless
I’m tired of being scared what I build might break apart, I don’t want to know the end, all I want is a place to start
– Mike Shinoda, Place To Start