What is Blaugust? 2023 Edition

I jumped right into the previous post without actually explaining Blaugust.  So... what is it?  Blaugust is an excuse to get people blogging... in August.  Hence, Blaugust! I'm not the best person to pitch it, but Blaugust is put on by a long time friend of mine, Belghast.  Here's what he had to say about Blaugust for the 2023 kickoff: Blaugust is a month-long event that takes place in August each year that focused on blogging and other serialized content. The goal is to stoke the fires of creativity and allow bloggers and other content creators to mingle in a shared community while pushing each other to post more regularly. For years blogging has been dwindling, and in part, Blaugust was my attempt and reversing that course by compiling a bunch of veteran bloggers in one place and making it super easy to ask questions and get answers. The idea is that this festival of blogging can help reignite dwindling fires for the next year and give folks a sense of kinship as a result. Ea

Kicking off Blaugust with Blog Template and Layout Updates

I decided to participate in Blaugust this year for the first time in a few years.  My intention is to write 1-2 posts per week.  I don't have the time in my day to day life for daily blogging at the moment, but I thought this might be a nice blogging jumpstart after being dormant since the end of last year. Also, it really feels more important than ever to have your own little piece of the internet that you control.  With everything going on with social media lately, I thought it would be a good chance to look at this blog again with fresh eyes. The first thing that immediately jumped out to me was that my blog's website theme isn't really up to modern standards.  It was still serving up a different specific mobile site, and that's just not how things are done anymore.  I decided it was time for a new theme. For reference, I'm still using Google Blogger.  WordPress is actually the better toolset for owning and customizing your own blog-like site... but I used to be

Games of the Year 2022: In Conclusion

This running Games of the Year list has been an interesting experiment.  I decided to start this series right as we were shutting down the Geek to Geek podcast as a way to keep creatively broadcasting some gaming thoughts out into the world.  I learned a few things from sticking with it this year. The main thing I learned is... I just don't have as much desire to broadcast my thoughts out in public as I used to when I started this blog or when I started podcasting.  I still love to have in-depth discussions about current games and general geekery, but I feel less and less need to broadcast those thoughts widely.  Honestly, it's been over a decade of blogging and podcasting at this point.  It would be more surprising if my relationship with the media landscape hadn't  changed. Around mid-year I started trying to use Twitter as more of a microblogging platform to do very short quick-hit thoughts about games but didn't get much traction or conversation going which was wha

Games of the Year 2022: The Final List

Here it is, the final ranked list of every video game I played this year that I found interesting enough to write about! Elden Ring Xenoblade Chronicles 3 FFXIV Endwalker Citizen Sleeper Marvel Snap The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Horizon Forbidden West Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Pokémon Legends: Arceus Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition Cult of the Lamb Neon White Halo Infinite Vampire Survivors Gotham Knights Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Playdate Season 1 Immortality Cyberpunk 2077 Forza Horizon 5 Hot Wheels DLC Triangle Strategy Mario Strikers: Battle League Multiversus Pre-Season Stray LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Nobody Saves the World Unpacking God of War Ragnarök Kaichu Tinykin Splatoon 3 Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Shovel Knight Dig Total War: Warhammer 3 Tunic Looking back at the year, there are a few games I would move around in hindsight.  But, part of the fun of doing a list like this and build

Games of the Year 2022: God of War Ragnarök

It's interesting when I can see that a game has a lot going for it but fails to connect with me personally.  God of War Ragnarök is extremely polished and has incredible production values.  I can absolutely see why so many people love it so much. But, for me, the game failed to click. The parts I enjoyed were the story and performances.  Unfortunately, the core gameplay mechanics weren't doing it for me.  The traversal puzzles wore out their welcome almost immediately.  They weren't ever hard, they were just annoying.  And the combat left a lot to be desired.  It felt very hack and slash.  I'm wondering if Elden Ring spoiled me and now I just expect more from my action combat systems. There's a ton written about God of War Ragnarok, so I'm not going to go deep here.  You can find tons of reviews of this game around the internet. In my personal Games of the Year list, this one actually lands fairly low down in the bottom fourth of my list: Elden Ring Xenoblade Ch

Games of the Year 2022: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Pokémon Scarlet (and Violet by extension) was the rare Pokémon game that hooked me and kept me interested all the way through. I'm not doing a full review, but I do feel the need to call out how much this game struggles on performance.  It chugs along, has tons of bugs, and the frame rate is just brutal.  Although, none of that really detracted from my overall enjoyment.  Your results may vary. The two things that truly let this game get its hooks into me were the open world and the new quality of life feature auto battle feature.  The open world fairly quickly gave me three main story progression paths to go down and complete freedom in the order I wanted to pursue them.  The typical Gyms are here but so is a storyline about Team Star and a completely different storyline about Titan Pokémon. Given the freedom of the open world and the ability to do almost instant auto-battles for experience, I quickly threw on some podcasts and audiobooks while just running around the world.  It w

Games of the Year 2022: Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap is the best digital card game I've ever played on mobile.  In general, it's one of the best digital cards games I've played in years. Their are a few key factors here.  The two biggest of which are the speed of play (fast) and the monetization (cosmetic).  This isn't a trashy mobile pay to win game.  If you want to spend money, you can spend it on cosmetics but you can't spend it on power.  As you "upgrade" cards you're just upgrading how cool they look, you aren't upgrading how good they are against other players.  Which means this game can actually be balanced and fun for everyone. The speed of a single game is also super fast.  Most of my games last 2-5 minutes and that's just about perfect.  You only ever play six turns and then the game is over.  It's enough time to engage your brain and feel like you actually did something mentally stimulating, but short enough that it's not a big deal to lose and you never feel like y