Topping off 2016

There’s been so much negative feeling throughout the world in 2016. So much so that it has dulled over the good things from the year. 2017 has a mammoth task to rebalance things – unlikely? Tough to predict.

I hope your year has been relatively stress free and happy. Mine has seen a work redundancy in May(swapping work stress to stress of finding a job – although working stress is harder to manage), getting my first ever telescope in September followed by the launch of my YouTube channel in November. It feels far longer but for just over a month my attention has been laid fully at creating videos on YouTube. For someone who internalises most of my thought, it’s been a great experience to use my voice and gain some spoken word confidence.

For 2017 my idea is to record one new piece of content a week. During the last month I’ve had the benefit of lots of time to play with ideas and record videos. But they’ll come a time when I can only physically manage to record once or twice a week and I should prepare now for that time.

So what about my writing here? Well during 2016 I had wanted to have a weekly update posted. This didn’t entirely work out but it’s something to again aim for during the 2nd year.

And with that I wish a Happy New Year to you all and in closing here’s my ‘best of’ from 2016;

Best album/ep’

Three by Phantogram

Ever since I picked up Voices in 2014, Phantogram have had their claws in me. Their hybrid sound is unique and all three of their albums are distinct from each other. I’m kinda happy that I don’t know of anyone in my circle that like them. Is that selfish?

Best book/comic book’

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey 

Published in 2014, The Girl With All the Gifts is my pick of 2016 by default. I read no newly published books this year(something I will look at in 2017). Shame really but M.R. Carey’s book was excellent spin on the zombie theme. I missed the film adaptation this year but it will be watching it in January upon the disc release.

2016 was an average year of reading for myself. Blame could be laid that my focus became diluted from around May when I left work. That said, I had a slow reading period from the start of 2016 which I never pushed forward from.

For 2017 I’ll be mixing up my reading with fiction/non-fiction that’s unread in my sub 300 list. Am conscious that I’ve not reading anything but fiction so looking to redress that in the new year.

Best movie’

Arrival

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I was left with a very different opinion of Amy Adams after viewing Arrival. Honestly I hadn’t taken much of an interest in the movies I’d seen her in. Sure those were only a Superman movie and American Hustle (which I must view again). But I really did underrate her as an actress. This could possibly be her best movie to date and Arrival definitely deserves another viewing. Her other film of 2016, Nocturnal Animals, I missed at the cinema which could prove to be just as satisfying.

Best muiltiplayer in a game’

Battlefield 1

Hadn’t planned to pick up Battlefield 1. It was a gut feeling that the gameplay and setting would suit me far better than the modern-day setting FPS. The slower firing/reloading weapons from the WWI setting (and the excellent design work put into producing the nice SP experience and fantastic map design for the MP) won me over.

Best story in a game’

Firewatch

Some would class Campo Santo’s Firewatch a ‘walking simulator’ but it’s far more than that. Probably the best relayed storyline in a videogame that I’ve experienced. The two protagonists, Henry and Delilah, are so well-played out that it’s hard not to empathise with them as they find themselves in stranger and stranger situations. Total recommended for those looking for something unique in gaming.

Best TV’

Stranger Things

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What can I say?

I’m no stranger to Netflix but had no inkling of Stranger Things until it was recommended to me. Then finding out that both Winona Ryder and David Harbour were in the cast gave me the push to watch the first episode. I never looked back and for anyone who grew up as a teen in the ’80s this series will have a special resonance for you.

The casting of the show was spot-on and I can only hope that season two develops upon the ideas and stories introduced in the premier. Go watch it!

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Return to Two Forks

With version 1.03 now patched in, I returned to Firewatch after the false start made earlier in the year. False because upon release the game was glitchy and (for me at least) unplayable. I had said to myself that rather than struggling through and spoiling the whole experience, I’d wait…and wait I now have.

missing you already

Firewatch_20160906000424When the credits rolled at the end of day 79 I was left with a feeling that rarely comes my way. It was there, to a degree, after I’d watched the last episode of Stranger Things. But the relationship growth between Henry(Hank) and Delilah, in those short hours that I got with them, is the best I’ve experienced in a videogame. In finishing the game I wanted to know what becomes of both Henry and Delilah. Do they meet again in the summers after? Is Henry still estranged from his wife? Has Delilah being lying to Henry all along? It’s testament to the writing and voice acting that these questions have a weight to them.

Filling the void

Normally a good book will get to me the same way Firewatch did. But the investment of playing Henry and the interaction with Delilah? That’s something passive entertainment just doesn’t give you. So I have to decide what’s next to spin on my PS4. I have been reliably informed that Life is Strange needs to be played so that’s probably next up. With that said, next week will see Bioshock: The Collection released and I have a special place in my heart for Bioshock. It could be a fairly fully week or two of gaming.

Thoughtful Gaming

Unlikely to be popular thinking outside of the industry, thoughtfulness and gaming can be bedfellows.

Now I like my escapism in all forms. The current beta of Tom Clancy’s The Division allows me to be a gun-toting scavenger in a great near-present setting. On the strength of the beta, I will be spending a lot of time in Manhattan in March. For February there’s something slightly more cerebral which will be taking me back in time to 1989 and the Wyoming wilderness.

Firewatch incoming

Just a week away from, finally, being able to get my hands on Firewatch. It’s ideally placed so that I’ll have no extra distractions, for a month at least, so I can soak up the experience. With so little talk of the main element – the story – it’s be a hard wait. Normally during pre-release, we are shown much that the player can expect. To Campo Santo’s credit, much of this has not been spoilt and the thrill of discovering a new virtual land has been left intact.

Playing Journey for the first time(last year), I had deliberately kept my focus away from any spoilers or gameplay videos. Which added to that same sense of discovery that I hope to get as Henry in 1989 Wyoming. No guns or clubs or bows. Just a Walkie-talkie, a collection of books and other curiosities, a fire-watch tower, a mystery to solve and Delilah.

Next time you hear from me, I should be settled into my role. Expect some dispatches and postcards!