Looking Back at 2014

To borrow a phrase: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

One of the best things this year is Thing One started Kindergarten. My wife and I were a little concerned about how he would do, but without cause as he’s been doing great. It’s been an interesting experience getting him on the bus every morning, in fact it’s the first time that I’ve ever been able to keep a regular morning schedule. The terror of parent hood and having my kid be late for school, is far more motivating than being late for work.

The absolute worst thing this year was finding out the youngest of my two dogs had cancer and dealing with all of the treatment, heartbreak, and expenses from February to November.

Aside from the really important real life stuff, it’s been a pretty decent if strange year. GenCon was really great, Guardians of the Galaxy became my favorite movies, Blaugust was a ton of fun, and I discovered a new gaming addiction in Kerbal Space Program, something that finally supplanted Minecraft for me.

MMOs feel pretty flat though. Elder Scrolls Online started out surprisingly good but fell flat once most of the people I played with drifted off into other things. Wild Star was a skip for me from the start, too much like WoW for my tastes both in graphics and the raiding focus. Firefall and Marvel Heroes are two games that I largely ignored when they released but ended up getting into a playing for a bit, even though I’ve not returned to them recently. The one thing I was most looking forward to in the MMO space was the Delta Rising Expansion for Star Trek Online and I’ve barely touched that. Somehow Kerbal Space Program has really grabbed hold of me to exclusion of most other games since October and I’ve been putting tons of hours into both the standard stock game and heavily modded versions.

Unfortunately my List Experiment stalled out in the second half of the year. I only read 22 out of the 50 books I’d set for myself on GoodReads. And while I actually caught up a bit on my comics backlog, I still have movies from the last two Christmases that I somehow haven’t watched. How I can’t find two hours here or there to watch a movie- well then I think about wasting half a night flipping channels on the TV.

All in all, despite some of the great experiences I had over the last year, I’m glad to put it behind me.

Stuff and things.

I’m still thinking about Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie has really gotten stuck in my head, which is fitting since it’s the love child of Firefly and Farscape.


It looks like January was the last time I posted a real update on my Lists Resolution. Fortunately even though I haven’t been writing about it I have still been working them. My comics list has shrunk by about half after finally finishing Transmetropolitan and catching up on Saga, Captain Marvel, Infinity Gauntlet, and a dozen other short run titles like Revelations. My movie list hasn’t changed much, I did watch Amazing Spider-Man a few weeks ago but somehow when I sit down at night either I’m in the mood to look at a screen and play a game or I want a break from electronics and I pick up a book or comic. My big list is of course books and I’ve been doing, well let’s call it okay. My practical goal for the year is 50 books, and I’m about 8 books behind schedule. I didn’t read anything in March or April. But I’m still sure that I can catch up. Even when I hit 50 books for the year, it’s going to be hard to feel a lot of satisfaction when I’m looking at a list 156 books lone. Especially when it tends to grow by another book or two every other week.


Gaming-wise I’ve gotten sucked into playing the custom Minecraft maps Agrarian Skies and Crash Landing. They both rely on a mod called Hardcore Questing Mode (HQM) which adds quests and rewards to the game.

Agrarian Skies is a skyblock map, meaning there’s no ground. You start out on a small island floating in the void and go through a series of challenges to basically build a world. There’ve been skyblock maps before, but I really like how HQM allows map makers to add some structure to the game.

Crash Landing is similar although it’s set in a flat world map not a skyblock. The challenges are different there as well. In Agrarian Skies the challenge is to build up resources without starving. Crash Landing is set in a desert world and adds dehydration that that as well as a defensive aspect since the mod AI/aggression has been enhanced a bit.

They’re both very fun, although I’ve gotten to the point in Agrarian Skies where the goal is to amass ludicrous amounts of certain items, for instance 100,000 purple wool, and as a result I’ve been playing a bit more Crash Landing. Which I think is the reason why Minecraft has such longevity. You have the basic survival mode for that initial challenge, and creative mode for when you just want to build. When that gets old, mods allow for adding hundreds or new systems to the game from magic wands to nuclear reactors, and when that gets old then there are custom challenge maps.

It’s a moral imperative! Day 5 of Blaugust


transmet1Transmetropolitan is a comic series written by Warren Ellis that ran sixty issues from 1997 to 2002. I own the complete run but had never finished reading it, I’d stopped at issue 45. No idea why really except that I’m easily distracted, and yes that means I have twelve year old comics in my reading backlog.

Anyway, given my habit of acquiring stuff, it’s ironic that I found I was missing issue 58 when I was putting my comic list together for my resolution project. I’ve no idea if I just never bought it and maybe I misplaced it. Nevertheless, I can’t have a one issue hole in the series, so I headed off to Ebay to see if I could find a copy. Surprisingly I found three copies, all of them for under $5 plus shipping. More irony that my resolution to consume more and buy less turned into an excuse to buy something.

It took me a few days of leaving the stack of comics on my deck before I finally picked the series back up, but once I did I was immediately hooked again and read through all fifteen issues in two nights. Even after all this time the conflict and characters came back to me quickly. If you haven’t read it I recommend picking up the trade paperbacks, its themes of government corruption and the duties of journalism are even more applicable now than they were twelve years ago.

Books and Board Games


I’m up to 10 books read for the year so far, which puts me 3 ahead of schedule for my GoodReads goal of 50 and leaves me with 152 (I moved a few books from the wishlist over and added a few shorts, so the math doesn’t match up with my last progress post). Looking at a big number like that, 10 books read doesn’t seem like a big deal except I’ve finished two series in those ten, Lindsay Buroker’s excellent Emperor’s Edge series and Glen Cook’s wonderful Garrett P.I. series, which actually makes it feel like a lot of progress.

Board Games

I bought Pathfinder ACG last October and wasn’t really impressed with my first two plays. My first game I made the mistake of playing solo using only one character, which really limits game play. I also made the mistake of using Ezren (a human wizard) and one of the first cards he encountered was a barrier requiring a strength check which was impossible for him. My second game was with a buddy where we each ran one character, and that was quite a bit more fun, but it wasn’t until I recently got the game out again and played with four characters that it was really fun.

The other game that’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time which I finally got out is Thunderstone Advance. This was fun but very difficult at least for the card draws I was getting. I need to play some more but right now Pathfinder is keeping my interest much more.

Before my recent resurgence of interest in Pathfinder, I’d been playing either Marvel Legendary for the Online League I’ve been participating in on BoardGameGeek or Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Other Stuff

I’ve unfortunately done very little with my comics or movies lists, I’m still working on training myself to switch back and forth between my different goals for the year. Multitasking like that is not something I’ve ever been good at. I’m much more of a serial obsessive, where I go on a month-long kick of just reading or just playing games.

I have been playing some MMOs a bit more regularly though. Star Trek Online has been a nearly daily thing. I’ve been making sure to at least hop in long enough to do the daily for the Anniversary ship. While I prefer the old way where you just have to finish a mission, I do understand that it makes more sense for Cryptic to entice people to logon more regularly. At least the Q daily missions are quick so it’s a pretty painless grind.

I’ve also picked Neverwinter back up, it was surprisingly easy to pick back up where I left off.  This is one of those games that I don’t think I stopped playing for any particular reason other than I got distracted by something else. I started back up both because of that and because the Multiplaying group is having a weekly Wednesday night game. In typical fashion though I’ve not actually joined in on a Wednesday night yet.

Despite getting back into two MMOs, I still don’t feel like I’m really back into the genre and I’m ambivalent at best about the new games that are supposed to release this year.

List Resolution Progress

Over the last ten days I’ve been working on my lists resolution, so far I have lists of books, comics, movies, gamebooks, and video games. My goal is to complete each of these lists, except the book list, by the end of December. That one’s just too big to finish, but if I can get through the first 50 to 75 titles I’ll be happy. I’m going to have a busy year. 


The book list is far and away the biggest one. I’ve got everything from my to read shelves in my office, my to read list on GoodReads, unread stuff from my Kindle, and a few ebooks that were in my Dropbox which I’d forgotten about. I ended up with 233 titles to read.

That’s a ridiculous number and I was having trouble prioritizing it, so I ended up moving 62 books off of the to read list to a wishlist. These were books I’d put on my to read list but hadn’t bought in either paper or bits form. This helped reduce the amount of books to sort through and even better it’s given me a place to put books that Mogsy reviews which I’m interested in without expanding my to read list any further.  Still, 171 is a lot of books. I removed a couple of titles that I’d already read before and bought because I’d originally read a library copy. A few more were removed because they were reference and self-help books that I don’t need. That only got me down to 156 unfortunately, which is a lot but it’s better than 233.

For prioritizing, I put any series that I haven’t caught up at the top.  Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. series, Lindsay Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge series, and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books. There’s a few books from C.J. Cherryh’s Invader series I haven’t read yet and probably should be higher, but I tried to mix in graphics novels and one shot books between all of the series to keep from getting burnt out. I’m still not completely happy with the order for the list, but I decided I needed to stop fiddling with it since I can always adjust it as I go.


My comics list is far less crazy, although technically there’s overlap with the book list since that’s where I put the graphic novels. I have 51- and while typing that I realized I forgot about my Comixology and Dark Horse accounts. So actually I have 84 unread comics. There’s about two dozen trades included in that number which I should probably move over to my book list but for now I’ve settled with sorting them to the bottom of my comics list.


I have 39 unread gamebooks, with Tin Man Games’ Gamebook Adventures and Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf accounting for more than half of the list. I have two that I recently got from Kickstarter projects that I’ve put at the top, since I’d like to do reviews of them: Maelorum and Holdfast. After those two, I need to finish Trial of the Clone and Judge Dredd: Countdown Sec 106, then the Destiny Quest series (before Michael Ward get’s the third one out), then I’m going to focus on the GA series followed by LW, then Fighting Fantasy, Fabled Lands, and some Tunnels and Trolls solitaire RPG modules.

Like my book list, I don’t think I’ll get through all of my game books this year, but if I can get through the Kickstarters, Destiny Quests, and Gamebook Adventures then I’ll be happy.

Movies and TV

Compared to the others, well everything is small compared to my book list, this is a tiny one. This list is kind of hard to count because of the TV series on it. Should the first two seasons of the remastered Star Trek: The Next Generation count as one entry or two or should I count each episode?

Regardless, I have six movies I need to catch up on first: Amazing Spider-Man, The Wolverine, Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, and X-men First Class. After that will be the last episode of Eureka, Batman: Gotham Knight, and then I’m going to start my Blu Ray TV rewatches. I’m planning to watch the entire Farscape series plus the Peacekeeper Wars, then the remastered Next Gen seasons, then Enterprise, and lastly Firefly.

Video Games

I tried to keep my video game list as short as possible since my primary goal is to get through more books this year, so this list of mostly of games to finish. On my Xbox 360 that means finishing up Batman Arkham Origins which I got for Christmas and am about 40% done with and then going back Mass Effect 3 and finally finishing the last three DLC’s. For PC, I need to finish Shadowrun Returns (hopefully before the Berlin expansion comes out) and then the two recent Kickstarter games Banner Saga and Broken Age. After that I want to finish Game of Dwarves and then start XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

For 2014


Of the MMO releases planned for 2014, Elder Scrolls Online is the only one that I’m planning to buy and play at launch. I expect to have fun for a few months before moving on to something else. I’ll be extremely surprised if I’m still playing by December. I’ve had very little interest in Wild Star so far and don’t plan to get it, although I can’t guarantee I won’t get swept up in the excitement when it releases.

Outside of MMOs, it’s looking like a crowdfunding year for me. Star Citizen, Shadowrun Online, the expansion for Shadowrun Returns, Broken Age, Banner Saga, Massive Chalice, and Planetary Annihilation. I’ve backed all of these games some of which are releasing and others are still being developed, but it’s been fun watching the process for each of these games.


Unlike the last two years, I’m not making any resolutions or setting any goals related to blogging. I’m sure when I have something to say or share that I’ll get the itch to post, and I’d rather approach it that way than trying to set it up as a second job. The only writing goals I’m setting for myself this year are my plans to do an outline and first pass edit of A Wizard’s Life in March. I want to see how that goes before I decide anything else.

Besides from MarchEditingMonth, my resolution for 2014 is to make lists. 

I read nine books last year. Nine. That’s embarrassing to me. I have thought of myself a reader since I was eight years old, so it was a shock when that email arrived from GoodReads congratulating me on finishing nine books. This made me realize that I’m very good at acquiring content but not at actually consuming it.

I have a set of bookshelves that is full of books to read, and I have two more stacks on the floor plus stuff on my Kindle. I have movies I got for Christmas in 2012 that I still haven’t watched, not to mention the ones I got this year. I have backlogs of comic books, game books, Xbox games, and Steam games. I have half a dozen starship models that need to be assembled and painted. I still haven’t watched the series finale of Eureka or the Farscape Peacekeeper Wars movie.

So I’ve started making lists so that I can see just how much stuff I have and more importantly I can start to prioritize it. Unless I learn to speed read or stop time, there’s no way I’ll be able to read everything sitting on my shelves, but I can pick fifty books and make a dent in it. I can certainly catch up on a dozen TV shows and movies. My video game backlog doesn’t bother me nearly as much, but I’m going to make a list anyway and make sure that finally finishing the Mass Effect 3 DLC is near the top.

While looking up last year’s resolutions post, I was surprised that I made a similar lists resolution in relation to finishing games and writing projects. So apparently I had zero follow through on that. Still, I think this year will be different because of the habits and tricks I picked up during November’s successful NaNoWriMo run. I’m using my phone to block out time daily and set nagging reminders to stay on track. It’s not exactly the same as having the social pressure, but making lists of books to read and movies to watch isn’t as difficult either.