Weekly: Nothing Changes On New Year’s Day

Do you have a song which makes your skin crawl? Do you feel a confusing mixture of emotions when listening to it? Here, let me share one of such songs with you.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you, night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day

Under a blood-red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspaper says, says
Say it’s true, it’s true
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one

“New Year’s Day” was written and recorded by the former rock rebels and current rock celebrities in U2 in 1983 as a commentary on the political and social situation in Poland after the introduction of martial law. Luckily, I was born too late to remember that period, but collective memory is a harsh mistress and the song still fills me with dread and sadness every time I hear it. Now, I have it stuck in my head because I decided to celebrate the first week of the new year by returning to Papers, Please.

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Winter in the glorious country of Arstotzka has the grey colour of armed concrete. I’m sitting in the inspector’s booth, scanning some innocent soul’s passport for the tiniest discrepancies and quietly wondering what is my worst fear: my superiors, the so-called resistance which keeps blowing my colleagues into tiny pieces, or simply not having enough money to feed my family. Suddenly, I discover that there’s a tiny typo in the passport. “Darżewski”, it says, while the ID tells me that he’s called “Durżewski”. With a silent sigh, I reach for the big red stamp. Entry denied. Sorry, my friend, you’re not coming in today. No, I don’t care about your wife waiting behind the barbed wire.

Perhaps this should be my greatest fear: that one day I will begin to think that this is okay and my life isn’t that bad.

When one of my Polish friends asked me to describe Papers, Please in one sentence, I answered: “It is a very wise game”. That’s right, Lucas Pope didn’t receive all the applause and rewards for simply making a satire on Eastern European communism. As simple as it may appear at the first sight, this game is incredibly profound and offers a unique experience, especially for someone living in the former Soviet Bloc. Actually, I finished it a few years ago, reaching most of the game endings, but when I saw it on the Steam sale in the last days of December, I simply couldn’t resist buying. Maybe I should write a longer post and explain why I consider it a masterpiece. Before that happen (and if it ever happens), I’m planning to revive my Soundtrack tag and make a list of songs which make playing games with dystopian theme more immersive. So, now I have a goal for this week.

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Looking Forward

Yesterday, I said ‘goodbye’ to 2017 by writing a post about the best game I played last year. Now, the time has become to welcome give the new year a proper welcome. What’s better than doing it by making a little LIST?

Let’s start with the simple part and draw a proper backlog of games I haven’t finished yet. Of course, the minimum to count it as finished is reaching at least one ending and publishing a proper Just Finished post.

In no particular order:

Eisenhorn: Xenos

Gunpoint

Sunless Sea (nope, 700 hours wasn’t enough)

WH40k: Space Marine

Rain World

Skyrim

Volgarr The Viking

GTA V

Fallout New Vegas (of course)

Verdun (it’s a multiplayer FPS so I’ll just get level 100 of experience and quit)

Jalopy

Mad Max

Firewatch

The Final Station

That’s it. Maybe I should start with the last two games because I’ve essentially finished them already and all that remains is writing damn end posts to get rid of them.

Then there are some games, mostly classics, I’m planning to try out – some of them already waiting in the limbo which is my Steam library.

Half-Life 2

System Shock

1979 Revolution: Black Friday

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Portal

Max Payne 3

This War Of Mine

Wings! Remastered Edition

LIMBO

So much for the list. My most important goal, however, is to completely change my attitude as a player, just as I mentioned in one of the Creative Christmas posts. I seriously need it to become less competitive, focused on score and achievements, and more reflective, enjoying the plot, characters, mechanics, visuals, and so on. Hopefully, the new approach will allow me to appreciate and enjoy games more, maybe take a new, broader perspective, and therefore become a better player. Quite exciting and so much to look forward to in the new year.

 

 

Creative Christmas: Looking Back

Kim’s festive challenge ends today. The final task she gave to her faithful followers was:

You wake up the following morning, hungover but happy – you have an entire day of gaming ahead of you. You start thinking back over the video games you played during 2017; what was your game of the year?

Well, this is not a hard question.

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That’s right, 2017 was the year when I played Fallout New Vegas for the first time. A classic. A masterpiece. A monument to human creativity and imagination. This isn’t only my opinion because NV remains popular even 7 years after its release; I constantly see discussions and memes about the game on various social media platforms and new mods keep appearing almost every day.

There are so many reasons why I love New Vegas that I should make a separate post to list them all – and it would be a very long post – so just let me name two of them. First, it’s the post-apocalyptic desert setting which makes wandering through the Mojave a wonderfully relaxing experience, especially when I’m able to play heavy stoner or psychedelic rock as a custom soundtrack. Second, the modding community has been able to add tonnes of high-quality content. Just trying to find and play the best mods will probably take me another year and I’m so happy about it.

That’s it! The Creative Christmas is over. Now I would like to say it loud: Thank you very much, Kim! Your competition was an excellent idea and a very interesting experience. If you ever start a similar thing in the coming year, please let me know and I will gladly join you!

Creative Christmas: Things To Do In 2018

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On the last day of the year 2017, Kim asks the penultimate question in her Creative Christmas challenge:

Midnight eventually rolls around, which means it’s now time to pick a New Year gaming resolution to see you through the next 12 months. What’s your choice for 2018?

The answer to this one is very easy.

Make Playing Vidya Fun Again

The most important reflection on my gaming behaviour in the past year is that I treat games too seriously. All too often I’m obsessed with finishing every task or quest, finding all secrets, getting all Steam achievements, playing at the highest difficulty level, etc. Eventually, what was supposed to be a pleasant hobby turns into a chore and I become bitter and disappointed. No more! Now I’m planning to simply enjoy games and take a more relaxed approach. Which leads to the second resolution…

Expand Your Horizons

There are so many classic titles I have never touched due to the reasons described above. Now when I’m about to change my approach, I will finally have more time to install and play some games which have been waiting in my library forever, like Half-Life 2. Hopefully, this will help me become a wiser gamer and blogger.

Appreciate Your Fellow Bloggers

With shame, I must admit that I’m bad at being mutuals with other blogs. Too many times I just skim through a post and click the Like button without adding any meaningful commentary or advice. But I promise I will change that and become your Best Blogging Friend ever!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Creative Christmas: Festive Dining with a Geiger Counter

The last few days were pretty busy, but now I’m finally back to the Creative Christmas competition hosted by Kim from the Later Levels blog. The task for today is…

It’s now time to head out to the kitchen to put on your oven gloves and start preparing Christmas dinner. It consists solely of video game food; what’s on the menu?

As someone who spends most of his time in Skyrim looking for bloody leeks to make that delicious soup, I feel that I’m the right person to answer this question. Still, the cuisine of the Nords seems to be a bit too obvious choice. Instead, I have a better idea.

Gamers of the world, rejoice! Hereby, I invite you to…

The Great Postapocalyptic Christmas Dinner

…which is to take place in my cosy underground bunker near the Great Khans‘ territory. Please do not disturb the cazadores.

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We’ll start with some appetisers, of course. Iguana on a stick? Here you go. Some squirrel bits? Be my guest. Or maybe you’re into classic pre-war food? One Blamco Mac’n’Cheese for you.

Now for the main course. Obviously, ordinary food like Squirrel Soup won’t do on this occasion. So what makes a dish so special and unique? Maybe rare ingredients? Then I have something for you.

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Sure, Hearty Soup sounds delicious. You better appreciate that Mole Rats are so hard to find and fresh carrots can only be obtained at the McCarran NCR base. It took me a long walk to get them and I almost got shot as a Legion sympathiser, but everything for my guests.

Like every self-respecting chef, I have this one recipe for a festive dinner. No, I didn’t invent it. Actually, I took it from the still warm corpse of a drug-crazy cannibal raider called Cook-Cook. Maybe he was a monster, but his taste was impeccable. No worries, my version of his (in)famous Fiend Stew includes brahmin meat which means that everyone leaves my little party alive.

Very well, we’re finished with our festive meal. Don’t pay attention to that radiation counter inside your Pip-Boy ticking, I swear it’s safe and even makes food more tasty! Now let’s celebrate with something liquid! There’s that nice saloon in the nearby Goodsprings and I’ve heard they’re going to be open all night long.

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I have this feeling that the morning after Christmas won’t be a pleasant one… Totally worth it!

 

 

Distraction: Shuffle The Music Tag

 

Since I have no idea which video game character would be the perfect Santa’s helper, I’m skipping the Creative Christmas challenge for today and replying to an important post instead.

NV Jukebox

The invaluable halsdoll did me a great honor by choosing me for the Shuffle The Music competition. She’s not only a blogger of great taste and style, but also an incredibly patient person because I let her wait for entire 11 days! It’s time to make up for the shame.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
2. Shuffle your entire music library and talk about the songs that come up
3. Mention the songs as well as the artists
4. Tag 7 people or more to do this tag and let them know

(since my nature is rather unruly, I’ll allow myself to alter the second point: “talk about the songs that come up and which games they fit as a custom soundtrack”)

And here are the songs:

Angelo Badalamenti – Dub Driving

You may call me uncultured swine, but I’ve never liked David Lynch’s film. Perhaps they are too intellectual and artsy for. What I’ve always liked, however, is the work of his court composer, Angelo Badalamenti.

I have good memories with this one and GTA San Andreas, driving a truck outside large urban areas at night. So my guess is that it’s perfect for any driving game, not only the GTA series.

Myrath – Tales of the Sands

The entire album served me well when playing Dune 2000. My suggestion is to use it in any game with desert and/or Middle Eastern theme.

Donis&Kulgrinda – …eisie…

The combination of Lithuanian folk and ambient is perfect for any winter game, like Skyrim.

Kyuss – Whitewater

Another piece driving music, this one seems to be a good choice for games like American Truck Simulator or maybe even Mad Max.

Carbon Based Lifeforms – Polyrytmi

Close your eyes, listen to it and imagine the wonderful emptiness of the universe. Then remember to play it when playing any space-themed game, maybe Elite or FTL.

And now, the chosen few:

Ochłapy Idealizmu

Particlebit

AmbiGaming

HePlayedTheGame

Cary

The Cake Is A Lie

I ❤ Old Games

Creative Christmas: Memories, Treasured Memories

Better late than never. I joined the Later Levels’ Christmas collaboration literally in the last possible moment. Kim had this excellent to run a writing marathon about Christmas and video games. Twelve days, twelve different questions. The one for today is:

You’re wrapping presents while listening to cheesy festive tunes, and start to reminisce about holidays past. What’s your favourite Christmas gaming memory?

My memory is a real Christmas miracle: a story about finding a copy of a game which was virtually impossible to buy in my country. I played the demo version of Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall for many happy hours and you can imagine how I felt when I learned that I would not be able to get the full game just because nobody sold it in Poland. Then, just a few days before the Christmas, I found a box with the tormented King Lysandus on the cover in a small computer store located near my home town’s main bus station.  When I think about it now, it seems almost impossible, but someone owning a tiny business in a poor Eastern European mining town was actually bold enough to have the game shipped from Britain.

Daggerfall Lutris

Source: lutris.net

Since my parents have always been rather reluctant to buy video games as gifts, I had to spend my entire pocket money to get it. And then I was sitting in my quiet. warm room on Christmas, with heavy snowfall outside, and directing the steps of my player character through the snowy streets of the titular city. With the wonderful winter tune playing from the speakers and perfect quietness inside me.

Every year, I feel the temptation to relieve this experience. Every year, the fear of disappointment stops me from installing Daggerfall again. There is no way back into the childhood but hey, at least we still have the memories.