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New Year Resolutions 2016

I’ve not done one of these for a good, long while. Way back in 2010 was the last one. They’ve always been a mixed bag, in the sense I used to write them and then not really do that much about them. Since the latter half of 2015 saw some significant life changes, divorce and all, I thought I’d give it a go again.

It’s worth noting at this point these resolutions are on topic for the blog, so it’s not the place for grand, soul searching resolutions about life, love, the future and whatever else, they are going to be on topic so to speak. They’re gamer, hobby and interest resolutions!

They’re numbered, but aren’t really in any specific order, coming literally in the order they matured in the writing.

1. More Social Gaming and Peak PS4

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed over the course of 2015 has been the social gaming on the PS4, whether this has been raiding in Destiny, heists in Grand Theft Auto V or kicking down doors, throwing flash bangs and shooting people in Rainbox Six: Siege.

It’s especially good since it is social gaming with the family involving two brothers, a nephew and a niece. Great stuff. We also tend to have two Twitch streams going, with their associated chat channels. I’d never stream myself, and the Twitch element is a side issue for me, but it does does sometimes add a dimension to the experience while playing. I’ll freely admit this has been one thing that has probably helped in the last six months, as it’s allowed natural social interaction without dropping around people’s houses like a person without purpose.

It’s that social we’ve essentially been playing PS4 games through the night as a way to celebrate New Year.

The PS4 is going to feature heavily in 2016 as we’re reaching peak PS4, with some great games coming out: The Division (which is a Destiney-like MMO, but it hopefully offers something different), Uncharted 4: Among Thieves, Horizon: Zero Dawn, No Man’s Sky, Rise of the Tomb Raider (damned timed elusive) and last, but by no means least, Mass Effect: Andromeda (if not ruined by the open world, MMO-istation of everything). There is also the enigmatic Final Fantasy VII re-make.

2. Do Something Grand In Elite: Dangerous

It’s safe to say after numerous failed experiments my return to PC Gaming in 2015 has come down to playing Elite: Dangerous. This is surprising, but it probably shouldn’t have been, last time I had a period of extended PC gaming it was while playing World of Warcraft, also almost exclusively. There is something about PC gaming that engenders that I think, especially when you consider any game that isn’t uniquely PC orientated I’d purchase on the PS4 anyway.

I’ve enjoyed Elite a lot in 2015, taking part in all three elements of the game: trading, exploring and combat, though it’s safe to say combat is always a side activity. As I’ve played it, just as I felt it was becoming routine something else has come along as a challenge. When I got bored with trading I did a 4K from Sol exploration. When I returned I was ready to trade again, with a side order of community goals to keep things interesting. I also did some wing combat with my brother.

Despite this, I was looking for something grand and big to do in Elite as I was reaching that boredom point again. Then Distant Worlds came along and it’s safe to say 2016 is going involve a new challenge and that challenge does involve going big, pretty much as big as you can go. The first half of 2016 and, yes, it is that big an endeavour, will involve flying to the other side of the Milky Way galaxy and back. That will involve going 65K light years from Sol. It will take three months to get there and then I have to get back (assuming I don’t self-destruct my way back).

The good thing is it’s way point driven, hits some of the nebulas I wanted to visit, goes to Sag*A, etc. It’s the structure of the journey and the fact it involves a 400+ community fleet that makes it interesting. The structure means it will be bursts of travel followed by a more leisurely exploration out from the waypoints. The community aspect will be the clincher, despite the instance limits of Elite it should feel like you’re on the trip with others. It also offers sensible ‘exit points’ that are still significant trips!

I want the long-distant challenge though. The challenge of getting that far. The endurance element, the need to focus and keep your ship from superfluous damage and avoid ‘return risks’. Landing at locations that so few of the Elite community will have ever reached. Possibly getting first discovered on some more worlds.

So, Distant Worlds is the grand thing I’m doing in Elite.

3. Role-Playing? Just Tabletop Game That Shit

One thing I did in 2015 was organise some regular-ish board games with Louise and my nephew. This was great fun and consisted of some Star Wars: Imperial Assault, Marvel Legendary, Zombicide and a game of Star Trek Catan. A good part of the focus was getting halfway through the Imperial Assault campaign.

It was fun, had relatively low transaction costs, didn’t involve ‘arrangement stress’, issues over long commitments, concerns over quality and return on investment (of time), the disconnect between apparent enjoyment and actual enjoyment wasn’t present. It was just…simpler. It resulted in me asking myself the question: why can’t role-playing games be like this? Like other tabletop experiences?

I suspect the answer is they can, if I just approach it that way.

That’s my goal with respect to 2016, to approach role-playing games like board games. I realise they are different. I myself want something slightly different out of them, but I need to somehow equate the transaction cost and fun factor to be equivalent to board games. This is a good thing. Less effort to prep them. Less long-term commitment to play them (as I suspect that allows others to take part), or at least less initial commitment and, like a board game, let that longer commitment come naturally and not be scheduled in the diary for the next six months. It’s fun, it keeps going on whatever schedule makes sense. Done.

fourRPGs

I’m not fully sure how I do this currently, but I have some ideas. That’s a way of saying I probably do know how to do it, I’m just not sure whether it will result in any games happening as you need willing participants and I need to change a few things in my approach! It involves altering expectations in my head, which have little to do with the fun of the experience. It involves me changing how I approach the preparation of games, largely cracked with Fading Suns if I take a few more steps. It involves changing formats. Not just going with expectations regarding participants, time, place, length and period. It does, not in an egotistical or fun destroying way, involve being slightly more selfish. What’s interesting is some experiments are already being done, such as an all day day Urban Shadows: Miami game (tomorrow, looking forward to it).

All this is what you do with board games, right? You pick a time to play, the buy in is understood, it’s not necessarily an immediate long-term commitment, etc. I also want to open up the experience, as I suspect my nephew would be interested if given the opportunity, or at least interested in finding out.

We shall see, it’s going to have to be a go for it, offer it and see what happens (or not).

4. Travel, Take Photos, Document!

I’ve always enjoyed travelling, but it was a particular form of travelling. We tended to visit brash, commercial places whether it being theme parks like Disney World or cities like New York or Las Vegas. We did start going on more typical relaxation holidays as well. I really enjoyed these holidays

I liked them because there were places I wanted go from a relatively young age but I was the only one who could afford them! Once I had a partner in life that wasn’t a restriction. They may still feature. At the same time, I was interested in other holidays that just never ‘came about’. I’d like to see the Far East, particularly China for some reason. I’d like to travel across the US. I really want to do it by train. I’d love to hit national parks. Even on the holidays we did go on, I’d have been more up for horse riding or quad biking into the desert but, you know, comprises. They were compromises I largely shrugged my shoulders and moved on over, they didn’t bother me in the slightest but, again, tere is nothing to comprise over other than time, money and health now, right?

And solving the travelling alone problem. That’s the killer one. It has to be surmountable though, in one form or another? I understand it’s now even a thing. It doesn’t even have to be about big, distant and expensive places either. I’ll need to start in the UK in some way. There is probably all sorts to do relatively close or a car drive away that we tend to ignore.

I also have an urge to document these things, I’ll be entirely honest that’s part of the reason for going. This links up with a relatively new interest I have in taking photos. Well, it’s been an interest for a while when on holiday, but newfangled equipment and all. I’d like to document it in photos, videos and writing, etc. Basically to expand out the section of the places area of the blog. I tend to like to take photos of things, rather than people, or at least people interacting with things rather than specifically photos of people. I think that makes some sort of sense. You sort of need to go to places to do this, even if, initially, it’s not so far away.

5. Time Management, Yes, Again!?!

I know, this has come up before, but times change. The big change in 2015 is, once you put aside work and walking the dog, time is my own with no external influences on how I spend it. This is quite a unique position to be in.

It makes me want to order and maximise it.

There are two elements to this, organising the time and then using the time. At the moment I’ve got no big, grand and life transforming ideas of what I’m going to do with the time, just simple things that I enjoy. The grand ideas might come later.

I’m going to try to get up at 0600 every morning. It sounds difficult but the reality is I’m up at that time anyway, sometimes a bit earlier, the point is I just don’t get up. I lay in bed for a bit and go back to sleep. I may even end up awake or half awake, checking the internet on the phone, etc, until I get up possibly a couple of hours later. Wasted time. Just get up. Get ready. That’s 1.5 hours I could be doing something with.

The plan is the evening is to clear the decks by 1900. I can often do this earlier, but that’s the plan. The use of the slow cooker. Food preparation and whatever else should keep some of the days chores down. This gives me a good 4 hours assuming I could to bed at 2300. The key thing is at 1900 I sit down and do something. It may just be playing games, but it will be something.
It all sounds a bit ordered, but I think that’s the key. You train yourself to expect things at certain times. We’ll see how it works out.

On To 2016, It’ll Be Different

I’ll admit I’ve sort of drifted through the second half of 2015. Two of those months six months were a complete wipe out. I’ll also admit there aren’t the most big and life changing resolutions either. This is only natural I think, you need to build up to these things. Still, 2016 is going to have to be the year when I sort out whatever the new normal is. What’s interesting about it is you do sit back and consider everything as being open for consideration, not necessarily restricted by ‘how things had gone before’ or things you didn’t do before. While I’m not exactly saying this is great, I am slowly coming around to accepting there is some advantages in it despite the circumstances.

This is how I’m approaching it, things will either work out in new ways or not.

About Ian O'Rourke

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