Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023 in Review (Plus Hiatus Update)

Another year draws to a close, and thus arrives my traditional year-end post. As usual, there is no real order to these beyond whim, and they are plagued by recency bias.

Prior years: 2021, 2022

Hiatus Update

Apologies for the sudden disappearance, to those of you I am not normally in contact with. The adderal shortage + just being burnt out on rpg stuff was a potent combination and taking a few months off has been an excellent move all-around. It is likely to continue for a while, but do not fear: I have been keeping myself busy and will hopefully have something to show for it at the end. Further blogposts shall arrive when they arrive. 

It is, I must admit, extremely refreshing to not be focused on the indie rpg sphere.

Welcome Mor'du

Bubs is a hard act to follow, but Mor'du has some truly magnificent scrungly old man vibes. He's a big ol' lad and dumb as a sack of hammers. Lookit those chunky cheeks.

Godzilla Minus One

God-damn this is a good movie. Excellent effects, acting, pacing, soundtrack, sound design. It's got themes and a big monster wrecking things. I adore how, despite being fully CGI, Godzilla still walks like someone in a suit. Dedication to vibe, right there.

The Barbie Movie

Was also very good.

Steam Deck

Best luxury purchase I have made in ages.

Street Fighter 6

I mostly played World Tour, and had a good time. It was nice having a fighting game where I was able to have fun and also be bad at it. Modern controls are a blessing.

Employment is Good, Actually

What was the new job the last time I did this post has now just become the job, and it's going swell. Much less stress than the last one, much better environment, much better management. It might be unglamorous grunt work but it's better than all the other unglamorous grunt work I've had in my life.

Playing Games in Person

My hiatus from rpg blogging has been accompanied by a drastic increase in playing and running games.

Game 1) I've been lucky enough to find an irl group and have been running them through Delta Green for the last couple months (on break until new year, writeups and at least 1 scenario to follow.) and it has been an absolute blast. They've been enjoying it, I've been enjoying it, I'm going to cap off this season with Unicorn Meat and I am extremely excited.

Game 2) I've been able to play a few games with friend of the blog and all around cool person Layla / Pandatheist. She's been running the Beowulf 5e rules hack and it's been pretty fun so far. Definitely using the mechanics of 5e to the strengths of the genre.

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

I am not usually a big VN guy but this one has me hooked, and I've been binging it since I bought it. Very well written, has a great setup that's just a couple tweaks away from MoSh fuel (You're part of an esperanto-speaking collectivist sorta-cult founded by a sci-fi author that crowdfunded a spaceship and fled the collapse of Earth for a planet covered in alien fungus that wants to kill you.) Some character moments hit pretty hard, including the crown jewel for any game with any roleplaying: I made choices specifically because it felt right for my character, rather than because it felt right for me the player. That is not an easy thing to accomplish. Game good.

Fear and Hunger

(I realize now, after writing this, that I granted the Fear and Hunger games a Salty. Most of summer was a blur, if we're being honest. The points bear repeating.)

Both of them get the slot, though I have only played the latter and not gotten far. SuperEyepatchWolf's video on the first game is an excellent summary of something that is very difficult to describe.

The Fear and Hunger games feel like they shouldn't exist. They sound like a creepypasta when you start describing them, or otherwise a game from an era long before the internet media machine dissected everything into SEO blurbs. It has a mystery to it. The unknown beckons. I don't know of any better examples of games that reward player knowledge in such actionable ways without mechanizing them. You learn something that can help you. You die horribly. There's no roguelite carry-forward mechanic in the game, but you know enough to help you the next time around. While items are randomized, the world is not. Encounters that ruined you on previous attempts can be avoided or even trivialized. Characters have meaningful differences in how they interact with the world, opening and closing entire avenues for you. it is a survival horror puzzlebox, and it just keeps throwing up new configurations. I've been keeping a notebook, and will at least be sharing the log of deaths in the future.

They are not games for everyone, not by a long shot. The content warnings alone are practically a short novel. They're exceedingly difficult and if "I am going to write off this run as a failure, let's see what I can learn" isn't a fun gameplay loop, I certainly don't recommend it. But if you are in the same mind-goblin space as I am, I highly, highly recommend it. And if you don't know, watch SuperEyepatchWolf and Wormgirl's videos, and if it sounds cool at all, go for the second game. It's what I did, and it has worked out swimmingly. Termina is a wee bit less frustrating and toned down the sexual assault from the first game.

Ranged Touch Binge-Listening

I've spent much of the back-half of this year bingeing their critical analysis podcasts and having a great time.

1) Homestuck Made This World
I now know what happens at the end and, my bile curiosity sated, I am at peace.

2) Just King Things

Stephen King's entire corpus in publication order. I have only ever read a single King book (The Gunslinger), was unimpressed, and don't plan on diving in save for tracking down a few of the ones that have caught my attention (Since writing this I have started on Carrie, and it is not going well).

But it has certainly been enlightening, - I share with King both the "throw shit out there and develop it as I go" method of writing as well as the urge to recycle and revisit elements in ways not bound by linear continuity, and very little else. Which makes it a fascinating listen; The Method highlights those moments of alignment and then immediately shows how there is a vast and unbridgeable gulf between. This is no doubt brought on by the fact that I cut my writing teeth on the SCP wiki, which is nothing if not an elaborate riff on some King classics, and also something that goes off in many wild directions that King has never and won't ever take.

3) Shelved By Genre S1 - Book of the New Sun (plus Urth)

A very thorough read-through that revealed many things I missed both first and second time around, many of which were flaws I managed to overlook or completely missed. Gene himself has fallen a few steps in my personal esteem, but flawed art always gives you something to talk about, and Gene's only got two modes: absolute best and absolute worst.

Getting Back into the SCP Wiki

The great thing about leaving for years and then diving back in is that there's loads of great new stuff to pick through. The cream of the crop (always rises to the top!):

And there we have it. I presume I will get back to tearing through blogposts soon enough, but for now, my vacation is going along quite nicely.


  1. No cat can snooze like Mor'du, lemme tell you.

  2. "My hiatus from rpg blogging has been accompanied by a drastic increase in playing and running games." - As much as I love reading people writing about games...
    Actually Playing > reading/writing about games every time! :)

  3. Good to hear from you. Hope the hiatus is as refreshing as it needs to be.

    I picked up a Steam Deck as well recently and I've got to echo your sentiment. The thing let me sit down and focus on finally getting into a bunch of games I've struggled to get into in the past. Got Disco Elysium and Citizen Sleeper done, having owned them for years. Perfect deck games. It's weird, at my desktop I struggle to get into those kind of games, but the deck puts me into "book mode", kinda cuts out distractions. Good bit of kit.