Let’s Begin

I’ve been told my first blog should cover certain ground: who I am, what the blog’s about, when it’ll be updated, etc.

HANDY CHEAT SHEET

Name
Mark Nelson

Occupation:
Game Designer (Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Reckoning, CityVille 2)

Blog Topic:
Game Design, Game Industry, but Mostly Whatever Is Interesting/Annoying at the Moment

Blog Updates:
Weekly…ish

Sounds dull for everyone involved, so I’ve decided to start this blog in media res, which is Latin for “starting at the beginning smacks of effort, so let’s just skip ahead to the easy parts and pretend there’s a clever reason for it.”

Don’t worry, though—at right, I’ve provided a Handy Cheat Sheet that should contain the info needed to establish a loving and lasting blogger/bloggee relationship. Past that, there’s not too much you need to know. Feel free to read, comment, mock, admire, create your own blog solely to mock my blog…whatever works for you.

Anyway, on to the content…in media res….

In keeping with ancient traditions, I wanted to start this year off with a Best & Worst of 2013 list. I’d planned to write pithy bits about what games, movies, music, TV shows, and other stuff I liked over the year, mostly to prove I’d played, watched, heard, and read a lot of different things. That, in theory, would establish I’m a well-rounded man-about-town, filled with interesting and informed opinions on a wide variety of topics.

Which is untrue on a number of different levels.

Anyway, it turned out that Fate was conspiring to prevent me from writing this blog until now—and writing Best and Worst lists after the 3rd of January is like wearing white at a wedding after the Labor Day groundhog sees his shadow. It just isn’t done. It’s actually illegal in Texas.

So, I’ve decided to get a jump on things and write my Best and Worst list for 2014. Sure, I haven’t played, watched, heard, or read any of these things—but I don’t imagine it’ll be that tough to figure out. Let’s begin.

BEST & WORST OF 2014

Best Movie
Under the Skin

This is apparently a “psychosexual horror piece reminiscent of David Lynch starring Scarlett Johansson as a sexy alien pod person.” Sold. Any combination of three of those descriptors would be a candidate here, but Under the Skin just blows it out of the water.

(Honorable Mention: Muppets Most Wanted…for pretty much the same reasons as Under the Skin.)

Worst Movie
That Weird Prequel to 300 I Saw a Poster For

Mostly because there’s no way it could sensibly relate to the actual 300 portrayed in the original movie (and, you know…history and stuff). I suppose it could be called 300: Xerxes the God-King Bowls a Perfect Game. That’d at least make sense. Regardless, it’ll blow.

Best TV Show
True Detective

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are detectives who team up to hunt a serial killer for 17 years. It’s on HBO, which guarantees it’ll be laced with profanity, nudity, and actual quality (and that it’ll take roughly 17 years to get to Season 3). It’s getting a ton of buzz, and it sounds pretty great. They should have stuck with the working title, which I believe was Woody and Wooderson Get Really, Really Baked and Pretend to Be Detectives. Smell an Emmy there? Me, too.

Worst TV Show
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I don’t even know if this got picked up for a second season, but it pissed me off enough this year that it’ll carry over. Gah! Joss Whedon + Marvel Universe + TV Show should have equaled “witty banter mixed with ass kickings woven into an engaging storyline.” Instead, we got “forgettable characters hinting about the mystery of why Coulson is so different from the guy we never really knew in the first place…and, oh yeah, isn’t he just an LMD, since in the comics everyone in S.H.I.E.L.D. apparently gets a handful of them in their HR Welcome-to-S.H.I.E.L.D. Packets? Bad Joss. No Emmy.

Best Game
Every New Next-Gen Game Released for the Next 6 Months

This happens every new console cycle. There are a limited number of titles available at launch, so every big name game that gets released becomes the shiniest thing in sight. Remember Kameo? Or King Kong: The Official Game? No one else does, either, but at 360 launch, they were the pinnacle of gaming. Besides, by the end of the year, some indie game that no one has played (but which has somehow transfixed and transformed the entirety of the gaming literati) will sweep the awards. Meanwhile, actual humans will still be playing League of Legends.

kameo

Without seeing this picture, you’d never have thought of this game again. Don’t lie to yourself.

Worst Game
Most Stuff on the App Store

Let’s face it—the App Store is a gaming wasteland. Anyone willing to shell out $10,000.00 can price their game at $999.99, buy 10 copies, and shoot to the top 20 of Paid titles. For every Clash of Clans, there are 20 Klash of Klanz released, and the signal-to-noise gets increasingly worse. I do the majority of my gaming on the iPad these days, and the quality is there for those willing to do some digging: The Room/Room 2, X-Com, Dungelot, Bardbarian. Let’s just hope 2014 isn’t the year it’s impossible to discover the good stuff amongst the crap.

Best Album
Pink Floyd, ‘Wish You Were Here’

Yeah, yeah. I realize it was released in 1975. You know what? It still friggin’ rocks. And it’s not like One Direction is on track to release something to redefine music this year. (Note: if they do, I apologize in advance to Harry, Liam, Louis, Sam, and Frodo.)

Best Book
Anything by Joe Hill

I had no clue who Joe Hill was until I read his Locke & Key series of comics last year. If you haven’t read them yet, Stop Right Now and go read them. Seriously. We’ll wait.

SEE? Brilliant. Then there’s his recent vampire book, NOS4A2, which also filled with excellence. Oh, did I mention he’s Stephen King’s kid??? Or that I would have realized this long ago had I ever bothered to look at his picture and seen that he looks EXACTLY LIKE HIS FATHER???

king_hill-271x300

Stephen King and His Freakishly Talented Clone/Son, Joe Hill

Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. Whatever. Go read whatever Joe Hill writes, because it’s bound to be bucketloads of good fun.

Now, on to the more esoteric awards for the upcoming year:

Best New Gadget

Whatever iPad Mini Gets Released

I’m an admitted iPad fanboy, but I’m also mostly serious about this. The Retina Mini was the single best piece of gaming hardware to hit the market in 2013. Keep your Xbox One and PS4 (or send them to me…that works, too). The new Mini has all the horsepower of the iPad Air, and can run high-quality games like Deus Ex and X-Com. Plus, it fits into a coat pocket. And, just watch a kid pick one up—this thing is built for play. If Apple beefs this product up more in 2014, I’ll get right back in line.

Most Overused Expression
“The culmination of a lifetime of training…” or “It all comes down to this…” or “Years of hard work all lead up to this moment…” or any of the seemingly infinite overblown expressions used to describe the Bronze Medal round of curling or whatever other equally silly Olympic sport is being passed off as more interesting than a circa 1992 Windows screen saver.

Look, I love sports. I’ve broken more than one universal remote due to terribly blown calls by obviously blind refs at crucially important moments. I get it. I’ll admit it now, though: I find it hard to maintain the façade of interest in most Winter Olympic sports. There, I said it. I’ll try to be enthusiastic for the ice skaters, but they’re almost as creepy as the gymnasts. I’ll root for USA Hockey, but we’ve already had an honest-to-God Miracle on Ice—are we likely to top that? If you get bored, just do what I do: take a drink every time Bob Costas says an athlete is “courageous.” You’ll barely remember the fourteenth night of ice dancing.

Biggest Disappointment
The Continued Lack of Jetsons-Style Flying Cars

I know what I was promised, and I want what’s mine. Someone get on this.

Okay, that’s it. Next time, I promise to talk about something more game-related. Probably. Until then, enjoy your 2014…and sorry for the spoilers.

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