The Year in Blogging 2014

For the last few years WordPress hosted sites have received a set of stats aptly called the “[year] in review.” I posted my results yesterday, mainly because this was my best year in blogging since I have been running with this incarnation of my blog. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’ve been blogging since the late 1990’s, but this iteration has been in existence since 2005, and I’ve been hosted by WordPress since 2007. I’ve received the review before, but there wasn’t really anything noteworthy to share. This year was in contrast to that attitude, though I’m still not as big as some of our community, I was still proud to have more than doubled previous yearly highs in views and post. It felt worth sharing this time too, because I know I have a pretty decent readership at this point, largely due in part to my involvement in the community that has sprung forward this year. Many of us may have been around for longer than just this year, but we weren’t as interconnected, and that is the major milestone for the year.

Of course, I can’t take credit for anything on my own. I didn’t create this community, I just became a part of it. I didn’t force anyone to start blogging, though I hope I helped to inspire the sense of community, and maybe someone started or kept on blogging because of it. Blogging has been an integral part of my life for many years now, and though I’ve had points where I slacked off, I have always come back to it, and this year has been awesome because of it. I became familiar with many new people, helped run or was involved in events, started a podcast and joined Twitter. All in all it has been a fantastic year and many of you helped me to get through some rough times by just letting me be me, to vent or rant about what came to mind, and to comment, re-blog or counter post.


None of this would have been possible without the Newbie Blogger Initiative. Had I not decided to get involved with that yearly event, I wouldn’t be in this position today, with so many people I’ll probably never actually meet, yet who I consider friends. I remember points in time previous to this year where I wished to be part of a larger community, be it via blogging, social networking or gaming, and that never came into fruition. Sure, there were communities out there, but they all seemed to be segregated to their own little corners of the web. Sure, our community is probably just as much a small corner of the greater Internet, but it feels like it’s consistently growing and the more effort we put into it, just by continuing to contribute our thoughts to the collective, the more it is likely to grow. No matter how much we might disagree about semantics, we can all agree that growing this community has been a rewarding experience.


It goes beyond just the NBI though. Belghast of Tales from the Aggronaut decided the momentum needed to continue, and formulated the Blaugust challenge. As a daily poster himself, he thought it would be a great idea to challenge the rest of us to follow suit for one month. I answered the challenge, as did many others. It brought us all together, pooling ideas and drawing inspiration from one another to get through it. Most of us (myself included) didn’t keep to a daily posting schedule, but I surely post more now than I did before these events.


I tried my hand in running an event as well, not only to help keep our community busy throughout the year (we still need someone to step up with a spring event), but also to combat gamergate and all of the shitty things happening in the game industry in the months leading up to October. Bragtoberfest was my answer to the negativity, in which we could get together to play games and in turn blog about them. I also challenged folks to brag about their achievements in games, because what better feeling is it than to meet your goals in games? Of course, that didn’t cure the gamergate disease all by itself, much of the foolishness is still going on, but I hope that it at least took people’s minds off the negativity for a while.


December was upon us quickly, and this year Syl of decided that we needed to create a virtual advent calendar on the web. Bloggy Xmas was born, and members of the community wrote posts around the topic of gaming and community. I participated in this, right around the beginning of the month. You can check out all of the awesome posts on the official blog. We were also treated to Listmas (which also happened last year) courtesy of Murf and United We Game. I also participated in this, coming up with a couple of lists that won’t win any awards 😀


It would be remiss of me to not mention the Podcast that myself and Eri of Healing the Masses started back in June. Not only has it been a blast to come up with different ideas and then totally crack jokes and not take anything seriously, but it has also been a way to convey our feelings about various issues surrounding the gaming industry. I’m hoping to be doing this for a very long time, but we’ll see how long she can stand me and my Aussie jokes. We were also kindly invited to a larger group of podcasters from our existing community that came together to form The Gaming and Entertainment Network (TGEN), which has been a fantastic experience as well.


I can’t say that the year has been entirely positive though. Aside from the gamergate fiasco and some of my own personal woes, we lost an amazing guy who was a fellow blogger. River passed away this year and the community was devastated. We took to our blogs to say our goodbyes, and posted pics of scantily clad women as was his style, as tribute. He is still missed. Another passing of the torch occurred more recently, when Roger, Brian and Sean decided to throw in the towel on the Contains Moderate Peril podcast. I was personally affected by this, as my guest spot on the show was my first podcast experience, and Roger had been a mentor in the field of podcasting for me, but I know that he’s still active on his blog so it’s not a total loss.

There have been some other great round-ups of the year, and here are a few of them:

Satisfaction of the Year – Belghast
A Year in Blogging and Podcasting – Roger
Link Dead Radio – A Blogging Year in Review – Eri

Here are some of my best posts of the year, that sparked dialogue amongst the community:

Foot in Mouth
Nice Guys Can Be Killers Too
PvP Uncensored

Overall I feel like it’s been a great year to be a blogger and a podcaster. Here’s to many more to come!

#blogging #podcasting #community

State of the Game: The Steam Holiday Sale

I didn’t write my round-up post last week because of things going on around here that were keeping me busy, causing a lack of gaming. This week hasn’t been much different, I am still very much involved in doing a bunch of stuff around the house, along with needing to get out and take care of errands as well, and things seem to keep piling on. But I’m making progress in the right directions all around, so it’s feeling pretty good. I did manage to get more playing time in this week, though I am still playing less hours than I had been per week in previous months. I had a couple of days where I had longer sessions, but some days where I barely touched the computer. My longest play session occurred on Xmas day, mainly because I had new games to play, part of the Holiday sale going on over on Steam.


Yes, unless you’ve been living under a rock for a number of years, the Steam Winter Sale happens every year. They’ll change the name here and there, they might have little gimmicks (like that weird gem auction thing this year), but we all know that we’re gonna get huge savings at this time of year. My funds were pretty much non-existent though, so I didn’t partake in the sale save for buying myself one small title that was super cheap. More on that later. I was gifted a couple of games though, one from my Dad on Xmas day, and another from my friend and fellow blogger Simcha, who was in the gifting spirit. Aside from the games scored in the sale, I finally got into the Alpha for Heroes of the Storm, and played that a bit. I’m not going to talk about my disappointment with that game today though, I have an impressions post coming for that later. So first up, we’ll talk about the gift from my Dad: Divinity: Original Sin.

I’ve been wanting to pick up the game since it released back in the summer, but sure enough it never went on sale until this month. He basically told me that I could choose any game I wanted for $40 or less, and of the games I have on my Steam wishlist, that title was at the top. I also made an Origin account just to get Dragon Age Inquisition, but thought better of it. I’ll probably get that game on the console, since I have the previous two games there already. Anyway, I picked out Divinity, and got started checking it out. There are a number of class choices you can go with for the main characters, and I really had no idea what I would want or need for a solid team, but upon further research it turns out the classes are flexible and you get followers that can flesh out your party. So I stuck with the Cleric/Knight combo I started with. Both have melee attacks and heals, so I would be relatively safe to start off.

The game plays like the old Bioware/Black Isle titles such as Baldur’s Gate, except when it comes to combat. In combat the game goes turn based, rather than real time with a pause, and I actually prefer this to the old system. Less mistakes to be made. Graphically it’s far superior, the game is beautiful zoomed out, but you can also zoom in and check out the characters and scenery up close. Both are very nice looking.

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There are bosses, along with more text dialogue than voice over dialogue. Quests are plentiful, but there is no quest helper, no clickable shiny bits, and no glowy trails. This is old school RPGaming at its finest.


Rather than having blind luck rolls for important dialogue options (such as intimidate or logic) there is a neat little mini game of rock paper scissors that you play with the NPC.


As I said, eventually you get followers, so you will round out your party to four. I ended up with an archer and a mage class for my group, but I haven’t really tested their mettle in battle yet. I’ve spent most of my time so far running around in the town doing various things and figuring stuff out.


Overall I really like this game and I can’t wait to get further along. Of course there were other distractions. Simcha gifted me a copy of Legend of Grimrock, which is basically a new age version of the classic Dungeon Master game. I used to play that back on my Dad’s Atari ST, and have seen various iterations of the game since. This is definitely up-to-date graphically, and the gameplay is basically the same though it does feel like the systems are more polished. It has various puzzles.


Plenty of combat, in a first person style, though you only get the spell effects or action lines of your weapons while the monsters are fully animated.


That’s a big ass spider. Yeah so I managed to make it to the 4th floor before finally taking a break. I decided to roll with the default party because I wanted to get a feel for the game, and really, that’s all there is to it. It’s been fun.

Lastly, I picked up this game called Deep Dungeons of Doom today for a paltry $2.50. It’s a port of a mobile game, yet it still feels pretty deep. Yeah, it’s not going to win any awards and I can see where eventually it would get old but for a quick dungeon crawling experience it’s pretty fun.


This is what you look at most of the time. You have your stats/equipment up top, and your character and whatever you’re fighting down bottom. It’s basically like a rogue-like in that you clear a room and then move on. You attack and block or use your items, but there’s a rhythm to it that gets pretty hypnotic. You have to time your attacks to hit weak spots or get past blocks, and also time your blocks against their attacks. That’s really it, but it’s actually a lot of fun. I’ll report more on this as I have more time with it.

That’s all for this week. How did you do in the Holiday Sale?

#steam #stateofthegame #roundup

By The Numbers: Week 17, 2014


The final week of the season is upon us, and that means a few playoff implicating games are taking place on Sunday. In the AFC there are more teams still in the hunt than in the NFC, but there is still the horrible NFC South that could go one of two ways. The rest of the games are only affecting seeding, and for the Packers, this week’s game is a big deal. A win could see them as high as the No. 1 seed, a loss would see them dropping to the wild card spot and going on the road next weekend. Here’s this week’s infographic of the matchup:


The Lions and Packers are both tied for first place in the NFC North, at 11-4. The Lions won the first divisional matchup between the teams, so this week’s 2nd game is for all the cookies. With a win and a Seattle loss, we’d take the no.1 seed, meaning the bye and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. This is the ultimate goal, but we need some help from the Rams, who could upset the Seahawks, but it’s not entirely likely. If they win, it doesn’t matter what happens with the Packers, they will be the no.1 seed which doesn’t sound comforting. If Seattle wins and the Packers win, the Packers will be the no.2 seed, meaning a bye week and a home game in the divisional round, but the likelihood of having to go to Seattle for the Championship game looms ominously. I don’t want to think about a loss, where we’d have to go on the road all the way to make it to the bigger games, but we did win the super bowl a few years ago as a wild card, so that might not be too bad. However, a win this week would make us perfect at home this season, so it would be nice to have that homefield advantage. Here’s my other picks for the weekend:

Ravens 21, Browns 13
Texans 17, Jags 14
Chargers 27, Chiefs 10
Dolphins 21, Jets 10
Vikings 20, Bears 10
Patriots 28, Bills 17
Eagles 24, Giants 20
Saints 28, Buccs 13
Colts 24, Titans 7
Dallas 21, Skins 9
Falcons 27, Panthers 14
Broncos 36, Raiders 7
Packers 20, Lions 13
Rams 14, Seahawks 10
Cards 17, 49ers 14
Steelers 31, Bengals 27

We’ll see how it goes. I think want to see the Packers win and the Hawks lose, so let’s hope my predictions come true. See you next week for the playoff edition.

#NFL #picks #infographic #bythenumbers

Top 5 Metal Albums of 2014 #Listmas2014

It’s been a rather busy week or so, but things are starting to calm down a little bit, though I know real life is going to kick me in the pants again when we roll into 2015. I did have enough free time today to get caught up on reading Bloggy Xmas and Listmas posts and decided on another list to contribute to the event. There were times in the past when I basically contributed to Listmas without knowing it existed, in that I used to make “best of ___” lists at the end of the year, usually having to deal with games, movies or music, or my more personal year in review type posts. So here we are at the end of 2014, and I already did my favorite games in one of the recent episodes of Couch Podtatoes. I didn’t really see many movies (in the theater) this year so we’ll skip that (though I did make a nice list of horror movies back in October), so that leaves music. I’m not a huge consumer of music like I was in years past, I honestly only care about certain genres and certain artists. I don’t need to buy new albums each week because there aren’t as many coming out that I care about. Punk has pretty much died, Country is super popular in the main stream and I hate that shit, I don’t like most Rap, so Metal and Dubstep seem to be what I gravitate to the most these days. Weird combination I supposed, but to me Dubstep is the Metal of the Electronic music world, so it makes sense in my mind. Anyway, here’s my list, the Top 5 Metal albums of 2014:

5. Pentakill – Smite And Ignite


This album was impressive for being based off of fictional characters from a video game, having lyrics and song titles that reflected the lore of that game, yet still be accessible enough for the masses, and acceptable enough for Metal enthusiasts like me. Long story short, for being a cheesy concept album, the artists who were involved in making the music clearly understood what makes a good metal album, channelling Danzig, Black Sabbath, and other now-classic metal acts, yet kept a modern feel with some sound effects and electronic instrumental tracks. The vocals are all clean, so there’s not gruff growling or raspy screeching, but I can still dig it. It probably helps that I really enjoy League of Legends, but I think the average layman could also enjoy the album. Plus, it was given away for free from Riot, so how can you complain?

4. Unearth – Watchers of Rule


Unearth has been together for a long time, and have put out many albums. For a Metalcore group, they always managed to change their albums up a bit and show off a bit of their other influences. I rather enjoyed their first few albums, but at some point I moved on to more extreme metal genres and sort of forgot they existed. I always ended up finding out when they had a couple of new albums out and would get caught up, but I haven’t listened to them religiously in probably close to ten years (when III: In The Eyes of Fire released I couldn’t stop listening to that disc). I wasn’t too fond of a couple albums, but Watchers of Rule makes me a believer again. There are some nice grungy metal core tracks, there are some that actually have almost a death metal feel, and there are variances in the singer’s vocals that keep things fresh. If you’ve never listened to Unearth before, this is a good place to start (though I still recommend the above referenced album).

3. Whitechapel – Our Endless War


Admittedly I didn’t start listening to Whitechapel anywhere near their start. The first time I actually heard them was during the Summer Slaughter tour in 2011, at the House of Blues in San Diego. I was there to see The Black Dahlia Murder, and WC played right before them. I liked what I heard, and investigated further from there. It was their self-titled album that I enjoyed the best, and this is the first album to come out since then. It is a bit different from the S/T, in that some of the tracks are a slower tempo but they still have the gritty vocals and musical stylings that I enjoy.

2. Misery Index – The Killing Gods

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It was a hard choice between this album and the one that I eventually picked for the number one spot. I’d put both on equal footing, as both are bands that I would consider favorites of mine (this list would be longer or different had some of my other faves released albums this year). Despite feeling like both albums deserve the top spot, lists such as these have to have some semblance of order. So Misery Index hadn’t released an album in a few years, and there were rumors of a break up, but they did eventually start talking about working on a new album, and it finally released earlier this year. It’s full of bangers, and their pure death metal style is right up my alley. I love the vocals, I love the tempo, I love the solos, I love this album. I still think Heirs to Thievery and Traitors are right up there with this album, but new stuff always has that “new shiny” appeal, and that’s why this album is so high up the list.

1. Revocation – Deathless


Revocation has been a busy band since forming in 2009. Four full albums plus a shredding EP in 5 years is unprecedented, particularly when you consider the lead guitarist is also the vocalist and has been voted as one of the best guitarists of all time. I love everything about this band, and this album is awesome. I can’t really rank their albums either, as they tend to all be fantastic, none really better than the others. It’s as if they have come out in a single stream of consciousness, were recorded, broken up, and set to a staggered release schedule. Really, there are differences between the albums, but they are all distinctly Revocation, and that’s never a bad thing. If you enjoy death metal, thrash, and gritty yet easy to understand vocals, you’ll love Revocation. I know I do.

#metal #listmas2014 #music #top5