I don’t make resolutions. I’ve seen too many of them come crashing down in tattered, abject failure to bother even pretending that I’m going to take a big leap into self-improvement just because of some arbitrary date on a calendar. But as 2008 grinds to its inevitable close, I do find myself looking forward to the year ahead and a few things I should do not because I need to, but because I want to.
For instance, I want to replay the Temple of Elemental Evil. This has been driving me nuts all year. 2008 was the ten-year anniversary of Baldur’s Gate, the first title in my favorite RPG series of all time, but for whatever reason it’s the Temple of Elemental Evil that I can’t stop thinking about. Prior to its release in 2003 the game represented, in my eyes at least, the next chapter in the ongoing resurgence of the D&D-based computer RPG, but the end result – a flat, buggy, incomplete mess – failed to impress and was almost immediately forgotten.
But five years later, unofficial mods and updates have added a whole new level of polish and completeness to the game, and as Baldur’s Gate recedes into memory I find myself wondering if perhaps my fondness for that game didn’t unfairly taint my expectations for Temple. Was it really as bad as I remember? It’s not like I don’t have other things to do with my time, but I suspect that if I don’t at least try to play this thing again in 2009, my brain will explode.
Speaking of Baldur’s Gate, this will finally be the year in which I try Dradeel’s famous recipes. Except they’re not really famous, so allow me to explain. As you make your way through Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn, you’ll eventually find yourself in Spellhold, an asylum of sorts for wayward magic users. Among the inmates contained therein is an elven mage named Dradeel, quite insane but also apparently something of a chef; as part of your encounter with him you’ll be randomly given one of a number of recipes that looks suspiciously real.
Naturally, I decided to turn these in-game recipes into real-world food after I finished the game, but here we are eight years later and I still haven’t actually gotten around to it. But no more putting it off! This year, for real and for sure, I will sample Baldur’s Delight, Monkey Balls and whatever others I can dredge up, and I dearly hope that after a decade of procrastination and forgetfulness I won’t be disappointed.
I also think it’s time I tried an MMOG. I’m being pulled in two directions on this: One friend is into EVE Online and has been trying to get me involved for months, while another is a long-time World of Warcraft player and is desperately warning me away. I’m undecided about which direction I should go, but I definitely have the urge to try something. I love the social aspect of multiplayer gaming, at least to the extent that I’ve experienced it so far (which I admit doesn’t go much beyond shooting other guys in the face), and now that I’m able to do so I think I’d like to take that experience to another level: the massive level.
In fact, I’d like to more fully embrace all aspects of the social side of gaming, be it through services like Steam and Live or on full-blown social networks dedicated to videogaming, like Vigster and GamerDNA. Making friends, comparing gamer cred, doing whatever the hell it is people do on these things: I think it’ll be fun. I’ve never had much use for Facebook or MySpace, but gamer-centric networks are bound to be better. Right?
I should also finally apologize to Gabe Newell for some rather nasty “heat of the moment” things I said to and about him a few years ago. I was one of the thousands of people who picked up Half-Life 2 on release day, you see. I charged home, installed it, started it up and then waited two days while it activated and updated itself. I tried to be cool, but having to screw around online for a single-player game, with a dial-up connection no less, quickly sent me into paroxysms of nerd rage.
I sent an email to Valve’s customer service that could generously be described as “unpleasant,” in which I suggested that hanging and burning were too good for Newell, who, I felt, should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive. I used a lot of bad words, I made some implications about his parentage and his fondness for cheeseburgers and I think at one point I actually got some spittle on my monitor. I was like an email Hulk. Sure, the odds that he actually read that message are practically zero, but I still feel bad about it. So if you’re reading this, Gabe: Sorry, man. It was a dick move.
And then there’s the big one: 2009 may very well be the year I go console. It’s an awfully big “maybe.” I’ve been a PC gaming Templar all my life, ready to crusade against any and all who challenged the superiority of my chosen platform, but my time spent co-mingling with the unwashed masses (yes, that’s you) have me thinking that maybe there’s something to all this console business after all. Will this be the year I finally become a button-masher?
That’s the great thing about a new year: The potential is limitless. Anything can happen. Here’s hoping it’s a good one for all of us.
Got any suggestions for 2009? Post a message and see what you can talk me into trying – or better yet, tell us about your own plans for the coming year.