A Paladin’s Update: My Year of 2016 In Summary, Contemplating Shifting Gears on Reviews, My Most Popular Reviews and More.

Holy…crap…where do I even begin with this insane year. Oh wait, I know where to begin: FUCK 2016. Ok, that felt good. Good to get it off my chest. Seriously though, 2016 was awful enough. 

It’s been a rough year. Looking back on it with any kind of positivity feels absolutely heretical given all that’s happened. 2015 was an excellent year for gaming and seemed to indicate that we were evolving to the next level. Did 2016 live up to that hope of mine? Not really, as it was more of an iterative than an evolutionary one. Virtual Reality was the big claim to fame but it’s a platform that’s having a slow start due to expense and its gimmicky nature. Plus, there’s the fact that not everyone can use it due to physical ailments that they have no control over. Things seemed promising for augmented reality but it’s a technology that leans far too much on gimmicks than substantial gameplay. The indie scene took several major hits with studios downscaling or shuttering their doors. Steam has become a clusterfuck of a nightmare to find decent games in now with titles being launched by the thousands. This has affected developers’ bottom lines as they have become harder to discover than ever before. It’s a problem that seems to have no end in sight.

Still, not all is bad as more money was put into the industry and we had some really stellar games this year against all odds. For me, I guess this year was pretty good all things given. TLW Tech Services closed its doors. I moved to North Carolina. Got my first job and have been slowly building things up since then. I mean yea, there’s a lot of crap that happened this year but I still had some successes despite it all. Even my YouTube has seen a resurgence this year.

What about This Project?

I find myself at a crossroads. I’ve done a couple of audio/video reviews of my work and unsurprisingly those are doing better in some ways than my written works. I’ve always joked that I wouldn’t bother with video reviews because they would take too long. However, I’m finding that my writing style is still hitting too many roadblocks and taking far longer than a video review would, despite my best efforts. The last review on AI War took a substantial amount of time and effort, somewhere in the 10-15 hour range. Which, that exhaustion could be affecting me right now as I write this up. And despite how creaky the first impression videos are right now, I enjoy doing those more. But I also still enjoy writing….don’t I? I do. I’m becoming concerned that I could hit a review writing roadblock too severe to overcome and I feel like my writing style is getting out of hand for time, work, effort and the results. And I’m contemplating coding and perhaps writing actual stories. Plus, there’s the whole thing with how much time I spend writing reviews, its simply too much. No matter how I slice it, I’m spending too much time writing and not playing games or doing other things. And there are far too many things that can upset the entire process. Which has been a problem that plagued me towards the end of the year. That isn’t to say that there wouldn’t be similar problems with doing video reviews, but I’m more positive I can manage those better than I can writing. I’ve already drafted the format these new video reviews would take in my head and they would be similar to what I’ve done in the past but with some more tweaks and probably not 45 minutes long that the past several have been. Or maybe, they might be. I’m not sure right now. 

This crossroads of going towards video work or sticking with writing is a tough decision. I can’t keep doing what I did with AI War or Age of Wonders 3. Those dual-format reviews take way too long and while I do enjoy doing them, to put it point blank: I’d need to be paid to keep doing them. That’s the only way to justify the work and effort in my head. That’s not going to happen so I have to move back to written or perhaps take the leap to video reviews for the first time in six years of doing this blog. Even if I did do video reviews, I would figure out a new post series for a Paladin. Not sure what that would be right now but still, something.

There are a couple of problems. I can’t record higher than 720p right now and recording gameplay footage for some games is a little dicey if they strain the CPU or HDD on my system. But, I suppose I’d just live with technical limitations for the time being. There’s another reason I enjoy doing this blog so much, it’s all my own. Going to YouTube means I’m dependent upon YouTube and under their rules. Being on my blog means not having to worry about stupid copyright problems or being taken down. And no, don’t even recommend hosting the videos myself. That’s way too expensive.

What I’m going to do right now is take January off and contemplate where to take things for 2017. I may publish some First Impressions but I’m not guaranteeing anything. I’ll also be streaming, I want to do more of that this year. And then I’ll let you guys know what comes next.

The Top 10 Reviews Based on Viewership:

This is a combination of WordPress and Steam stats that decides what were the top viewed reviews of the year. I’m basing Steam’s on upvote/downvote (and comments) as Steam doesn’t actually tell me views. But, I usually have a pretty good idea how popular reviews on Steam were based on the dislike/like ratio.

  1. Starward Rogue
  2. The Talos Principle
  3. Age of Wonders 3
  4. Wolfenstein: The New Order & The Old Blood
  5. Hard Reset Redux
  6. Grey Goo
  7. Tribes: Ascend.
  8. Miasmata
  9. Huniepop
  10. Rise: Battle Lines.

Rise Battle Lines hitting #10 most popular is quite surprising. Huniepop also managed to squeak its way on at #9, to my bemusement. The rest of this list though? The only major surprise is that Starward Rogue hit #1. I expected like #7 at best. But otherwise, I can’t complain with this list.

My Personal Favorite Five Reviews I Made This Year:

  1. AI War: Fleet Command.
    1. Yea, I know I just published this review but this was definitely my favorite review to write and produce this year. I feel like this is the accumulation of everything I’ve done right with this blog this year and I really enjoy the format. Even if it takes a FRAKKING HUGE AMOUNT OF TIME to do. But damnit, I’m really happy this is published. After so many years and rewrites, to finally get this out is incredibly rewarding. And thank you all for the positive response.
  2. SMITE: Battleground of the Gods
    1. Covering a MOBA title three years after I started playing it? Seems legit. SMITE was a hell of a challenge to tackle and I feel I did it justice. This is the game I seem to be unable to quit too….not sure why.
  3. The Beginner’s Guide
    1. One of my least popular reviews this year I’ll admit and I’m pretty sure its because people weren’t looking for my opinion on this game. Plus, the review was more about the subject matter than about the game itself. It was an interesting take on my review format but I’m not convinced it worked all that well. Still, I enjoyed doing it and I have no regrets with how it turned out. Other than maybe talking about the game a bit more than I did.
  4. The Talos Principle
    1. An awesome game and a hell of a fun review to write. I definitely think I did the game justice with my take on it and it’s gotten a decent amount of public reception I’d say. There’s nothing in particular that I enjoyed, I just felt that the entire experience was just enjoyable. 
  5. Age of Wonders 3
    1. My first full review on a big strategy review came along with an audio option. This was a challenging review to do but enjoyable at the same time. I was glad to finally give this game some thoughts. 

A Paladin Without A Crusade’s Goals for 2016.

So, I set out at the end of 2015 to accomplish six different goals. They were:

  • Publish 100 Videogame Reviews This Year.
    • Accomplished!
    • Well, I published a total of 107 videogame reviews up to this point and are all what I consider legitimate reviews now and not just half-baked posts. So, all-in-all, I’m happy with the progress I made with this goal.
  • To finally launch the Strategy Series.
    • Failed.
    • The Strategy series failed to launch this year after several promises of being close to getting it out the door. Simply put, I was running into technical difficulties with my computer and the format itself that prevented me from pushing forward with it. I think the idea is solid, but I’ve decided to put it back on the shelf for the time being. Instead, with the recent review successes of Age of Wonders 3 and AI War: Fleet Command, I feel that my time and energy is better spent working on those.
  • Follow at least five more blogs this year.
    • Half Accomplished
    • I got half way there and followed three new blogs. So, not bad, but I’m going to try again next year. I simply didn’t find any blogs I found interesting enough and I didn’t devote as much time to finding new ones as I could have. Going to work on making time for it next year.
  • Launch my new Solo Let’s Play series.
    • Accomplished!
    • It wasn’t the game I was originally intending to Stream but after a long break I finally returned to the streaming/LP space with a take on Dark Souls 2: Sins of the Scholar. This series is doing pretty well and I’ll be working on getting edited vods up in probably February. I was originally planning on doing it entirely solo but I’ve had a friend join in now and again.
  • Start Another Co-Op Let’s Play/Stream.
    • Failed.
    • Honestly? It’s been lack of any interesting titles to co-op LP. I’ve got two people interested in streaming with me but we haven’t settled on a game(s) that we’d like to do. I’m going to give this another go in 2017 and hopefully something comes together.
  • Get 25 followers on my curator page.
    • Almost!
    • I got up to 19 followers which is more than I had expected, which is impressive given how little I’m “advertising” this feature of the project. With the recent update to Curators, I’m able to mark Curator posts as positive/informational/negative which is great for you guys.

I also had hopes for more strategy game reviews this year as well. That particular vague goal was accomplished with four different strategy games from real-time-strategy to turn-based strategy getting reviewed. So, it’s been a pretty decent year for getting goals accomplished despite everything else that went on. So, what about 2017?  

Goals for the Paladin Project in 2017:

  • Improve the readership for this project.
    • Bit of a vague goal, but I really want to get this blog out there more. Which is going to be nerve wracking for me but I want to do it because I’m really terrible at selling myself. So, self-improvement
  • Follow at least five more blogs and/or videogame news sites.
    • I’ve been kind of out of the news cycle for videogame news and I need to get back into it. I just haven’t decided who to add at this point. But generally, this is about keeping up on the latest goings on which by extension improves this project.
  • Start a new casual series of posts about videogame news.
    • This is a bit of a vague idea I have in my head but essentially I want to do something in between reviews that’s not just more garbage journalism or casual posts. This idea is to perhaps focus on particular subjects for a lot longer than most blogs usually do and go into greater depth. Doing actual investigation and keeping tabs on certain subjects until the matter is considered resolved. I haven’t figured out all the logistics of this idea but there’s an idea here that I really want to tackle.
  • Publish 20 additional First Impression videos.
    • I want to see this format succeed and the only way is by producing more of them. So, I want to publish 20 videos by the end of the year. We’ll see how it works out.
  • Launch a new Co-Op Let’s Play/Stream.
    • I still want to do a co-op LP, I’ve always enjoyed these from Serious Sam 3 to Portal 2, it’s a blast playing with friends and analyzing the game together. I’m still not sure what game I’ll tackle but I’m going to work at getting one started up.

So that’s that. 2016 has been a crazy year and 2017 looks to be no less sane. But I’m having a great time of my life. There are things to improve upon and do better. I thank you all for your support whether quiet or vocal this year. It means a lot. For now, I’m going to enjoy this month away(ish) from the blog and see where things lay at that point. I hope everyone has a great month of January!


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