Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010: The Year That Was

Except for a possible stray post or two, we're calling it a wrap on 2010 here at Gamer Melodico. I wanted to take a moment to highlight all of the posts that I thought were particularly cool, as well as to give our newer readers some stuff to read over the rest of the holiday break. 

So sit back, pour some nogg, and enjoy.

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Though we started writing stuff in December, by any reasonable metric Gamer Melodico really took off when that "Mass Affect" Hipster RPG post I wrote in February went viral(ish). In that same month, Dan and I talked about how we thought Fable II was a disappointment, and I wrote about the lovely moment in an RPG when the world opens up and how much I didn't like it when a game rushed me to the endgame. Shortly afterwards, Annie and I wrote a reaction to Jesse Schell's first DICE talk that was as entertainingly wandering as it was fun to write. I encountered a feeling in Mass Effect 2 that surprised me: the love of an old friend, blooming into something more. Also, I made a video montage of Commander Shepard punching a defenseless reporter.

In March, Annie wrote about her own method of gamification, called "The Zelda Method," while I wrote about how awesomely ballsy I thought the first two God of War games were. I recorded some music from Phoenix Wright while Annie took on the GameCrush controversy.  David and I attended GDC, and David drew a really funny picture of the phony from the Power Gig: Rise of the SixString booth. I wrote a post about analyzing games using musical vocabluary (something I'm still very much into), and made what was probably my favorite of the "If Games Could Talk" posts, this one about Jesse Schell, starring everyone's favorite character, Toothbrush.

In April, Annie wrote this great piece (that I had almost forgotten about!) about Five Real-World Oddities That Should Be Games, which covers everything from Monkey-Picked Tea to Haken Continuum Fretboard Hero. I took it upon myself to transcribe every wretched enemy bark in Splinter Cell: Conviction that contained the word "Fisher" and put them all together into the epic Fisher-Fest 2010 post, to which folks have been adding via the comments to this day. (Side note: I think that if I had to pick a favorite post of mine of the year, it was that one, mostly because the game really made all the jokes for me. I still read it and crack up.) I also got pretty fed up with that game's odious, unskippable interactive torture sequences. Annie, who up to that point had been keeping track of a lot of 8-bit musical creations, write about why we so fell in love with classic game graphics and music this year. Also, April was when the whole "Games as Art" debate reared its head, and I still kinda wish Ebert would've read our Games-As-Art Flowchart. 

May was a big month, with Dan writing a hilarious post about how he doesn't want to hurt Peter Molyneux, he just wants to get in the ring with him for a few rounds. David also stepped up to bat, writing a humorously Charlie-Brown-esque post titled Homer Tracy's Road to The Show. I wrote a poem about playing Portal in an aisle seat on Southwest. May was also when Red Dead Redemption came out, and so I wrote two posts, one about the game's unbelievable sound design, and one a bit later on about its unfortunately flawed storytelling.

Annie shared some vintage game-inspired gift ideas (useful for the last days of Christmas shopping!) and I wrote a critical comparison between Chaos Rings and the occasionally overlooked DS insta-classic The World Ends With You. We started doing our "Question of the Week" posts a little while before this, but the one about our least favorite game protagonists is still kinda my favorite.

Sam joined our ranks in June, writing a retrospective on SimCity that really took me back to the days of splines and arcologies, and shortly afterward he wrote a great piece about voice acting and lip-syncing in games. Annie looked back and wrote an ode to Space Port, the arcade from her (and my) occasionally misspent youth in Bloomington, Indiana. I wrote a glowing recommendation of Tom Bissell's fantastic book "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter" and we ran another of my very favorite group posts of the year in our "Big Dumb Awesome E3 Round-Up."

In July, my game-critique of Inception was probably our most visible piece of the year; it was certainly the one that attracted the most interesting dissension and the post about which I most enjoyed talking with folks. It's months later, and I still don't think we're done talking about Inception; which I suppose is the otherwise flawed film's greatest triumph. Sam wrote a really nice piece about "proper villains," recounting his favorite nemeses from over the year. I attended Jesse Schell's follow-up to his DICE talk titled "Visions of the Gamepocalypse" and had a great time writing it up. I also took a look at Dragon Age: Origins' horrifically flawed console UI and made the (not actually very) bold claim that "Dragon Age 2 Can Only Be An Improvement." We made the editorial decision to go with "videogames" over "video games" and haven't looked back.

In August, Annie's rock 'n roll look at the human condition ("The Zombie Apocalypse is the New American Dream")  remains one of my favorite things we've run, and August was also when it became clear that as far as I was concerned, 2010 was the year of the downloadable game. Though my review of Limbo didn't even discuss gameplay, I took the time to do a bit of analysis, breaking down "That One Puzzle In Limbo" that flummoxed many of my friends (and me). I also took a stab at game writing, sharing how I thought Grand Theft Auto IV should have ended, given the narrative improvements of Red Dead Redemption. The Kinect-centric AI Milo was detailed, and those details were nothing short of apocalyptic.

In September Dan, Annie and I attended PAX together, which was real real fon—Annie took some great pictures of the event, and I wrote a piece about it for Paste that I was really happy with. David took a look at Valkeria Chronicles, which I want to play but haven't had time for, and compared it to X-Com. October was light, but I made an unboxing post that got kinda weird and Sam wrote about the Civilization series and how its evolved over the years.

November seems a bit recent to include in a round-up, but Annie's piece about the Scott Pilgrim game was pretty great, and I had so much fun doing that three part interview with Costume Quest's project lead Tasha Harris that was really fun. She is awesome. I need to play Grubbins on Ice already. Dan wrote about his experience with Mass Effect 2, asking "Who Will Be My Shepard?" and also wrote a post about Final Fantasy XIII, with one of my favorite post-names of the year, "Much Ado About ..." I tried to tell everyone how awesome the late 90's Pegg/Wright TV show "Spaced" was.

December seriously just happened. No wait, it is currently happening! Do you guys really need me to round up our posts? Okay, I will. Dan wrote an awesome little thing about the Detroit Lions and Madden. Gamer Melodico turned one year old and chose our favorite games of the year. I looked back at The Year That Was at Gamer Melodico.

The Year That Was at Gamer Melodico

The Year That Was at Gamer Melodico

The Year That Was at Gamer Melodico

...woah shit, got stuck in a wormhole of self-referential bullcrap for a second there! Sorry about that.

At any rate. I've already taken the opportunity to thank all the bloggers, critics, readers and commenters who helped make this year kick ass (thanks again, though!). However, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank another group of very important people: my fellow Melodico writers, Dan, Annie, David and Sam.

No one's getting paid to do this, and Melodico isn't netting us any free games or swag or any of that crap. All of them volunteered, and after doing so they poured their hard-to-come-by free time and effort into the posts I just listed, as well as a whole bunch of others. Time and again they went above and beyond the call of duty, working with me to make their posts shine and cranking out work that will stand the test of time, posts that I still have a good time going back and reading.

It's been a blast, you guys. Thanks for a great year.
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