2022-12-31: 2022 in Review
2022 has been one of the wilder years in my life. Most of it was taken up with a six month long process to travel across the country to find a new place to live in a new town, go back to California, pack, move, fight with my employer to recognize my relocation, and settle into a new living rhythm in a new place with an additional partner landing in my living situation. That process is, largely, finished. I keep saying that and then we keep needing to adjust, but I think I mean it this time.
Unfortunately that means for about half the year I wasn't streaming or writing or working on project stuff. I took two major breaks from those, each 2-3 months. I kind of regret this but it was necessary. In all honesty, a lot of blogs I follow went into a hiatus due to "life stuff" this year. CRPGAddict broke his posting streak for the first time in maybe ever, The Obscuratory has been in cold sleep for some time now, and a bunch of small indie sites stopped updating. 2022 may have been rough for a lot of people.
Aside from the great relocation, I contributed to quite a few FOSS projects this year in small ways. I released my own simple pngtuber app, I deployed and did bug hunting for the GotoSocial fediverse software, I even got involved a tiny bit in the development of qutebrowser and a couple of other small projects. Not much involvement in the speedrunning scene; I'm essentially entirely out of that. I did, of course, run Big Bad Game-a-thon in September and it was the smoothest one yet. I also completely rewrote my website using custom static generator code I bodged together.
I am considering doing a very light/fun speedrun this year though. Not sure what yet.
I don't know if I have a list of most impactful games for me this year. Some honorable mentions though!
Tales of Berseria and Arise
I played both! They're both very good if you can roll with the high ratio of cutscene, skit, and plot they have but that's how Tales games roll in general. I found Berseria to have the better plot but Arise to have the better gameplay. My only real complaint mechanically about Arise was the institution of Cure Points to limit healing done during one outing. At some point in the Tales franchise they eliminated MP/TP/whatever and now skills/spells are fueled by a fast-recovery stamina gauge. This meant in Berseria you had infinite healing in combat as long as you played defensively enough to let your healer regen. So Cure Points do address a problem; I just feel they were a ten pound sledge of a patch.
What I found really cool about the later Tales games though is just how thematically similar they are to the first games. Tales as a series has really not changed much; it's mostly the technology under them that's changed. I think that's neat.
This Way Madness Lies
I love everything Zeboyd has done, as is evidenced in my last post. That explains so much better than I can here. But TWML was just a fun little short romp and gosh I just loved everything about it.
7th Dragon III: Code VFD
I finished the 7th Dragon series. I'm actually sad it's over though maybe in a year I'll go back and play them all again with different team builds. I finished the final boss of the series with an explosive one-shot kill and I feel that is the most poetic and cathartic way to close a series about survival of the strongest and domination by force.
The best game in the series? Probably VFD itself. I'd likely rank them in reverse chronological order; they just got better with each installment, though the original 7th Dragon was already very strong.
I didn't write about 7th Dragon 2020-II because it was, frankly, more of the same after 7th Dragon 2020. I did finish that this year, and it was excellent.
I began a delve into strategy RPGs with Shining Force, and that was neat, but what really captured me from the genre was the original Langrisser. Localized as Warsong, Langrisser kind of meets in the middle the two strategy game approaches of the strategy RPG with named important hero units and the strategy game with disposable units in droves. I like the marrying of approaches and it opens up new depth in strategy.
I started Der Langrisser but didn't get far in it; that's the first game I plan to focus on in 2023. I was involved in a massive undertaking to preserve a lost translation patch for Der Langrisser, but unfortunately to date the only place you can get a build of that patch is my website. I need to distribute this better.
Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2
This was a surprise. After years of not being interested in FFXIII and buying into the myth of it being a boring hallway and auto-battle simulator, I decided to give it a try myself. It emerged one of my favorite Final Fantasy games because I, when you get down to it, buy into Final Fantasy for the plot and the combat; not the world exploration. I don't need an open world and most of the time the open world is just a holodeck concealing the hallway that is a linear plot.
XIII's graphics are amazing, flat out. Even today they stand side by side with modern releases and have not really aged at all. Just thinking about it, I want to play it again despite it being "a hallway".
XIII-2 fixed up a lot of the QoL quirks XIII had and provided a more non-linear open experience to address that "Hallway simulator" complaint. It also did some extremely experimental things like dropping the most metal chocobo theme known to man into the soundtrack. I don't care what anyone says, I like it.
Lightning Returns doesn't run well on my PC so that's on hold for now.
As for 2023...
I've got plans for the year now that I'm stable in my new digs and have the new-year-new-me sense of energy. In no particular order:
- Resume streaming with a new outlook on things. I'll probably talk about that soon
- Finish Der Langrisser
- At least check out Growlanser, Langrisser's spiritual successor
- Check FFVII and FFVIII off my "Finished Final Fantasy" list to finish all the numbered titles but XV
- Clean up my pngtuber app and make it actually usable
- Set up a self-hosted sidecar stream so people aren't trapped on Twitch, document this process for others
- Finally finish Bravely Default after tech issues forced me to stop
- Get more deeply involved in shows I stepped back a bit from helping: Kusogrande and Jank Science mostly
The last time I was optimistic about a new year was 2020. I'm hoping to not walk happily into a cluster-frag like that again.