As much as some of us would like to deny it, the start of a new year brings with it the chance to sit down and reflect on the year that was, the person we are, and what we’d like to achieve in the year to come. It’s a little later than we’d hoped for, but some of the Doublejump Staff sat down together over the holiday break and did exactly that — it’s always fun, and we have the added bonus of being able to tell our audience what we’re hoping to achieve; we hope you enjoy our first Multiplayer release of 2020!
Ben: Git Gud
Embarrassingly, I am very bad at video games. Back in 2010, I wasn’t bad at all – I played Team Fortress 2 almost every day and even joined a great little local clan. I topped rankings, clinched victories, and was a generally smug 16 year old. For some reason after finishing high school I stopped regularly gaming and lost everything. Riding a bicycle this ain’t. I fired up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare last year and was rock bottom, every round. It was like I could remember what made me good at games but was just completely unable to execute it.
Even story-based games, when I’m playing for fun, usually see me sit on the Easy setting – I’ve recently been dying repeatedly in Control and cursing its lack of difficulty options, and I’ve never even considered trying Dark Souls. This year, I want to play something regularly and actually develop a skill. I’m not set on a shooter, or anything in particular, and it doesn’t have to be a new game (the frontrunner in my mind is Final Fantasy XIV, which I have played 400 hours of and never done a single raid), but I’m open to learning something new, and playing every day, and finally being good at gaming again. I might even give a Souls game a spin.
Cav: Stop treating games like a job
An old saying says that the best way to make God laugh is to make plans. These days, the divine funnybone is just as tickled when we fire up the latest AAA mega-epic, and figure that we can have it done and dusted in a week or two.
You know how it is: sprawling action RPGs that cover hundreds of miles of real estate; games as services continually prodding us to log in daily, in pursuit of the Almighty Grind; endless expansions that add more mountains to climb, to the mountains off which we were already falling; and throughout it all, the constant unwavering pressure to finish every game, to be “up to date.” The need to press on, scratch these things off our lists, in case we get spoiled, or fall behind the zeitgeist and forfeit our right to be involved in the conversation about the current games du jour. When you’re writing about games, it’s even worse. Never mind the pressures of reviewing, there’s the feeling that in order to talk about the state of the industry as a whole you need to keep up with everything, play everything, time and money-poorness be damned.
Yet, that doesn’t always give us the best experiences. I recently finished The Witcher 3 after playing it on and off since its release. It didn’t take me so long because I didn’t like the game, or found it difficult to play; on the contrary, it’s probably my favourite game of all time. I took my time because I didn’t want it to end, and by experiencing it on my own time got to to take in as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. It made for a much more satisfying experience, and as I hit the credits at the end of Blood & Wine, was able to look on a five-year journey that comprised one of my greatest gaming experiences. It’s one I would never have if I made myself power through the whole thing, min-maxing my way to completion.
These days, I want to do that more. I already have a day job, relationships and mountains of bills for my sense of duty to get busy with. These days, I want to play what I want to play, when I want to play it. If something has to be put on ice for a while, fine: they’ll be much more rewarding as ongoing projects rather than monoliths of content to half-consciously rush through. As Indiana Jones might’ve put it, it’s not the hours – it’s the mileage.
Jake: Work through my backlog before the new generation arrives
I’ve had Red Dead Redemption 2 since early last year, and I’ve probably played three or four hours of it if I’m lucky; I’ve had a copy of Horizon Zero Dawn that I pulled out of the bargain bin and haven’t even installed on my PS4; and, perhaps most impressively, I’ve had a copy of Street Fighter V — a special edition, no less — since the day it came out and I’ve easily played less than ten hours of it all up… and those are just the games in my backlog that I actually own.
For one reason or another, I always find a way to condemn games (and movies, and TV shows, and music) to the backlog, the list of games that I’ve got to try at some point. For anyone else, that’s perfectly fine — they’ll usually actually go back to those games and smash them out, but I don’t. As a result, dating back to the PlayStation 2, my backlog looks like one of those gigantic cartoon scrolls that just never end. I’m dying to change that.
Cav really hit the nail on the head up above when it comes to my gaming habits. I get so competitive when it comes to the games I do get to play — namely, FIFA 20 — that I don’t give myself time to play anything else. This year, I’m resolving to try and chill out, play my games more efficiently, and find a way to start tackling my immense backlog of games, movies and TV shows before I get sucked in all over again.
John: Value my time like a dad
Looking back on the smattering of games I played last year, most of them had two things in common: lots of blinkless killing; and lots of wasted time. In hindsight, I really wish that wasn’t true. What a goddamn waste of life. (Also, my existential crisis around my mid-20s hasn’t been a fun time either).
A lot of games fall into this category, whether they’re masterpieces or not. But I think it was playing SteamWorld Quest and SteamWorld Heist back-to-back that revived my interest in games that felt genuinely handcrafted and dedicated to the player experience. Compared to those two, it was like every other game I played – even the ones I really enjoyed like Nioh,Dead Rising and Max Payne (lots of backlog clearing in 2019) – ran out of steam inside a few hours. It felt like I’d seen everything worth seeing almost immediately and then the rest of it would just be empty repetitive space that added less and less with every passing hour.
So in 2020 I’m looking out for games that are less “empty” and just more fulfilling, especially in genres that don’t involve the usual amount of button mashing. Strategy games, puzzle games, stuff fromitch.io, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t actually played a VN before so I might try one of those as well. Anything that’s different and hopefully pretty short and succinct, too.
I’m not a dad, not even close, but I’ll definitely be playing like one this year by treating every free gaming hour like it’s my last.
Lucas: Actually enjoy playing a game from start to finish
Video game burnout happens to everyone: you play a game you love non-stop for a while until one day something changes and you suddenly don’t feel the desire – or the need – to play that game again for a long while. Lately, it’s been happening to me all too often; unfortunately, games just can’t seem to capture my attention for a long period anymore.
I used to spend weeks on end with one game, smash it out from start to finish and then play it again (even before New Game+ was a thing). Nowadays, the past five years of studying games development has turned me into a bit of a cynic; I feel like I can tell much more quickly whether a game I’m playing is one that I’m actually going to enjoy, and if it isn’t… I just stop.
With that being said, I have played some really well-crafted games over the past year, namely Resident Evil 2, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and The Outer Worlds, and didn’t feel a second of burnout. That’s the kind of trend I’d like to continue in 2020 – more than anything else, I want to enjoy a game from start to finish without having to play something else to refresh my passion and energy.
Luke: Play more indie titles
Indie gaming has seen a bit of a renaissance over the past few years, with Untitled Goose Game making it into Game of the Year conversations around the world this year to add to the success of titles like Celeste and Undertale in years past. Despite that, the number of indie titles that I’ve actually played is embarrassingly small – I want to change that this year and give some of these developers the respect that they deserve. I don’t really have an excuse not to do it, either, given that most of the indies I’m thinking of are quite inexpensive when compared to the big-budget AAA titles.
I’m certain that the quality of indie titles will improve through 2020 and beyond; I can’t wait to see what we end up with, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.
Matt: Branch out and try something new
This pledge comes after years of being turned off when looking at new games in various genres because I found a certain aspect that didn’t appeal to me. Sure, being drawn into an experience is important, but I also feel like my selectiveness is causing me to miss out on a whole bunch of new experiences, and it’s time for me to explore games and genres that I wouldn’t have considered before.
There are specific genres that I would like to focus on, too: turn-based combat immediately puts me off, which causes me to miss out on an incredible story, engaging characters and a deeper combat system than the reflex-based shooters and fighters that I’m used to. I don’t have a fear of missing out, per se, but it’s becoming an issue of ignorance that I feel like I need to fix — these games, for example, require a more tactical, thought-based approach than my usual fare, and that shouldn’t be too hard for me to get around.
Disco Elysium proved to be the catalyst for this entire resolution. It’s a game that got my attention straight away with its intriguing world, gorgeous art style and interesting premise. Sadly, as I dug deeper and learned that it was a role-playing game, I started to distance myself because I assumed that I wasn’t going to enjoy something slower-paced… Boy oh boy was I wrong. For the aforementioned reasons and more, Disco Elysium is without a doubt one of the best games I’ve played in recent memory; with a relaxed approach, I was able to understand and appreciate the game on a deeper level, and I’m glad I was.
This is the beginning of a new and exciting journey for me, and I’m sure I’ll unearth plenty more gems along the way.
Ty: Be more selective with my game purchases
I’ve got an unhealthy habit of constantly trying to keep up with new releases. It was a whole lot easier when I was younger, given all the spare time I had to waffle around and avoid any other responsibilities, but adult life is completely different and this habit of mine is constantly at odds with just how little time I have to devote to smashing out 100-hour RPGs, grinding in MMOs and stuffing about with my friends online.
On top of that, there’s also the financial cost. It was easier to save up as a kid, since there weren’t bills, groceries and whatnot to chew through my personal funds, but now… Gaming is an expensive hobby, especially given that my old PC needs an upgrade and there’s a new console cycle on the horizon. That’s why, this year, I’ve finally decided to limit the games that I buy — no more impulse buys, no more buying games just because all my friends did. Besides, I can always go back to something I missed later on; it’ll be cheaper as well!
We’ve got a nice, diverse mixture of New Year’s (gaming) resolutions, and we’re going to hold each other to them. Let us know in the comments below if you’re working towards a certain goal this year, and check back at the end of the year to see if you achieved it!