The highs and lows of 2016 were so drastic and unevenly spaced that the whole year feels almost surreal in retrospect. There were incredible highs, including Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, seeing my name in the credits of not one but three new Mega Man games, and starting work on a Mega Man game of my own. I made one of the biggest decisions of my adult life, walking away from a stable (but undesirable) situation in order to take a risk on a new job and a new home in a different state (or, as I prefer to say, finally moving back to Earth after five years of exile on the moon). I confronted a few personal demons, not exorcising them completely but making invaluable progress. I celebrated a milestone anniversary with my wife, and we helped each other weather one physical or emotional storm after another. I had the weirdest Christmas of my life, filled with twists and turns that had me cycling through the entire range of human emotions for the better part of a week. I actually paid attention to world news for several months, attempting to keep myself informed about topics, such as the Presidential election, that were oppressively unavoidable and that demanded I have an opinion about them. I became an active part of the Mega Man fan community at Sprites INC, and I received their Spike Award for my sporadic gaming livestreams. I informally said farewell to GameCola after 8 years on staff. My mother and I went on a memorable road trip to attend the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. A brief trial of EnChroma glasses gave me a taste of what it's like to see color the way the rest of the world does. I (mostly) stopped picking tomatoes off my sandwiches. It's been quite a year.
Importantly, I made an effort to follow through on my 2016 resolutions (or, as I prefer to think of them, goals). Here's how I did:
Goal #1: Start and finish a YouTube playthrough of Mega Man 8.
Hah! I had every intention of this being the one goal I would definitely achieve, but I ended up spending almost the entire year working on designing Mega Man levels instead. Having spent too many years working on multiple projects and finishing none of them in a reasonable amount of time, I made a conscious decision not to split my focus between projects, and so MM8 remains on hold (but partially recorded) until people stop giving me excuses to make more Mega Man levels.
Goal #2: Make serious headway on the video game my wife and I are planning.
See above. I've at least made serious headway on OH JOES! (A Proto Man Adventure), which hadn't been conceived when I came up with these goals, so I'd call that at least a partial success.
Goal #3: Run at least one D&D campaign, then learn a new tabletop RPG system and run another campaign.
Failure! I played in a number of Pathfinder sessions, but I didn't run any games of my own or learn any new systems. I did at least jot down some ideas for a D&D one-shot that I've been wanting to try for several years. Once again, my creative energies were directed almost entirely toward making Mega Man levels.
Goal #4: Read 12 books.
Failure! Probably. I lost track toward the end. However, I got pretty darn close. My conservative Christian friend sent me a care package of books early in the year, relevant to some conversations we'd had, and they constituted a good portion of my reading list. I have a terrible habit of letting his gifts gather dust for several years before putting them to use, so it was good to delve into these books right away. I may write a separate post discussing everything I read in some kind of detail, but for now, here's what I read in 2016 in the order I read them:
1. Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller
2. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
3. The Ultimates, Vol. 2 by whoever wrote, drew, and inked it; the book's in the other room and I'm too lazy right now
4. And the Good News Is... by Dana Perino
5. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doerscher
6. Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook
7. Memories of the Future, Volume 1 by Wil Wheaton
8. Spock, Messiah! by Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr.
9. Some Ultimate Spider-Man graphic novel, I think; once again, too lazy to check
10. Star Trek: The Next Generation: Indistinguishable From Magic by David A. McIntee
11. Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer (about 3/4 read by the end of 2016)
Goal #5: Get my Backloggery progress index into positive double digits.
Success! Even with so much of my leisure time spent reading instead of gaming, I managed to achieve not only double but triple digits—a progress index of +200, to be exact. That means I played or removed from my collection way more games than I added. Granted, there was that Backloggery revolution halfway through the year, so my real progress index is probably more like +2 than +200, but who's counting? Wait, I am.
Goal #6: Write like I used to.
Partial success! My criteria for this one were to write regularly, write positively, and write for myself. I've obviously failed to meet the first criterion, but the second and third are well in hand. Articles like this one and posts like this one capture my passion for blogging and critical analysis, and even if they're not all sunshine and puppycats, they don't come across as the "general bitterness commentary" that characterized my writing for too long a period. I'm writing the way I want to write—the way I used to write—and it feels wonderful.
Now, then. Let's see if I can't come up with some goals I might have a better shot at achieving in 2017:
Goal #1: Spend more weekends at home.
For the last decade or so, I have done an out-of-state road trip at least once every month. Often at least twice a month. Usually at least three times a month. With so many friends and family members living close enough to visit regularly, but far enough away that a day trip is out of the question, I find myself giving up as many as 10 hours every weekend just to get where I'm going and back. Departing on a Friday evening or first thing Saturday morning, and not coming back until Sunday afternoon or evening, leaves me with insufficient time to work on my creative projects and keep on top of the housework and kick around and relax. It also leaves me with insufficient funds to live as freely as I'd like to—road trips are expensive. For the sake of my sanity and my wallet, I intend to set aside at least one weekend a month for going nowhere.
Goal #2: Finish OH JOES! (A Proto Man Adventure).
Everything is on track for the game to be released in early 2017, so I really hope there aren't any awful surprises here.
Goal #3: Finish a YouTube playthrough of Mega Man 8.
As long as I'm not designing Mega Man levels the entire year, this should be doable.
Goal #4: Read 12 books.
I was very close to accomplishing this in 2016, and I only fell short because of how Christmas vacation turned out. I'd like this goal to become a staple, because it's good to be reading again.
Goal #5: Maintain a positive Backloggery progress index.
Likewise, I'd like to make this goal a staple. My video game wishlist has shrunk dramatically in the last year, and I'm quicker than ever to identify when it's time to stop playing the game I'm working on.
Goal #6: Get involved in my community.
It has been eating as me for several years that I'm not involved in church and volunteer activities like I used to be. I want to join a choir or a small group or something, and I want to find ways to live where I'm living. Hopefully, spending more weekends at home will allow me the time to do so.
I've got a good feeling about these goals. I'll let you know in a year how things go.