Dear Readers of A Gaming Life Pt. 2,
Today is February 16, and as of now A Gaming Life Pt. 2 has been on Tilting Windmill Studios for a whole year. While this blog did not start here initially (I began posting on the now-defunct Game Informer Online Community Blogs), this blog and Tilting Windmill Studios have become incredibly entwined, and I kind of love it. I love posting here, I love seeing people interact with my work, and I love coming up with new things to talk about each week. I hope to continue posting here as long as possible.
In the beginning, I tried to keep myself to one post a week, but I think I’ve fudged that rule a few too many times to pretend it still exists. Somehow, though I still can’t believe it myself, I’ve manage to put out 67 published pieces (including this one) in the last 52 weeks. I’m really proud of this, especially considering that I have a full-time retail job on top of it. I would never say everything I’ve written is perfect – I’ve made many mistakes along the way – but I want to build and improve on my work in the coming year. It will take more effort than before, but I think you, the readers, deserve it.
If you’ve ever read my work, please know that I’m incredibly thankful for every second you’ve spent, even if you just left your browser tab open while you did other stuff. If you’re an occasional reader, thank you. If you’re a regular, thank you. If this is the first time you’ve ever read my work, thank you, too. And if you want suggestions about what else you should check out, let me offer up my write up on the Jake Hunter series, as well the recurring feature I write that takes a look at ten cool games coming out each month. I’d love for you to stick around and browse too, but even if you never read me again, I still appreciate the time you took to read just this one post. I’m not the best at writing thank yous, so I hope what I’m saying comes off as sincere as I want it to be.
Before I continue, I feel like I should address the fate of the Silver Screens & Politics podcast I used to host with Brett Stewart before A Gaming Life Pt. 2 began. It sort of disappeared in the night, and I don’t believe either of us have publicly commented on it. If you’ve been waiting all this time for a new episode, I’m sorry to say that the podcast is dead. Neither of us wanted it this way, but due to various circumstances, it had to happen. It’s a show both of us love, and our hub for it is still around, but it’s probably not coming back. If you’ve been following me since the days of that podcast and you’re still sticking around this blog, then you’re awesome. You get a double thanks in my book.
Now, it’s time to begin the second year of A Gaming Life Pt. 2. As always, you can expect a variety of posts from week to week (sometimes more, never less) as I attempt to keep up with the erratic and surprising gaming industry. Before the new year of content begins though, I want to address a few housekeeping points first:
I’ve wanted to bring interviews to A Gaming Life Pt. 2 since it began, but I’ve stopped myself in the past due to a lack of time and an even larger lack of experience. However, I think it’s important to hear from other people in and around the industry, and give a platform for them to speak when they might not have one otherwise. I still don’t have a ton of experience, but I’m happy to announce that my first interview for this blog will go up next week! I want it to be a surprise, so I won’t announce much right now, but if you like a little Dreamcast game called Illbleed, you might want to be on the lookout. There will also be some content beyond that coming at a later date.
I hope for this to be the first of many interviews I’ll post here, but we all have to start somewhere. Fingers crossed, it’ll be a satisfying listen, and my total lack of experience won’t get in the way too much.
I always encourage feedback, because I want everything I post to be a potential discussion point, or a way to engage you as a reader. I always leave links to my Twitter and email, and there is a comments section below every post as well. The comments I’ve seen so far have been positive, encouraging, and vigilant, leading me to correct a few factual errors I’ve made along the way. Though I try hard to remain accurate and transparent, sometimes I stumble or get the wrong information, and I apologize for that. I very much appreciate each and every piece of feedback I get and try respond to them all when I can. So please, send me more!
I don’t want to beat around the bush here. As I continue this blog, you should know that I’m also looking for other, larger opportunities. Be they internships, freelance work, full-time positions, or whatever else I can find, I’m working to make my writing not just a hobby, but a career doing something I love. As a result, there may come a time when I have to go on hiatus suddenly, or have to stop posting altogether. I’m sorry in advance if that happens, but I just want everyone to be aware. If/when something does occur, I’ll be sure to let you all know first, if I can.
Over the past year, my reviews have gradually changed as I’ve become more proficient in making my own posts. Though this means I’ve had to go back and edit some of my older reviews a number of times, everything should be more consistent and standard going forward. Because of this, I want to spend a couple minutes going over some of my review philosophies and practices, since I haven’t quite done that before.
First, it’s probably apparent that I don’t post my reviews in a timely manner. Though I try to post about smaller indie games like Distress and Gris when they’re new, there’s only so much I can do. I love looking at bigger budget games and RPGs as much as anything else, but these games are longer, and the review process is not something I want to rush. This means I could be posting about a game that comes out this week by the time summer rolls around. As long as you’re understanding I’ll keep posting these reviews when I can. Please know I’m trying my best to get them done, but I don’t want to skimp on anything.
Then, there’s my grading scale. I use a 1-10 scale, but I’ve come to realize that the way I use it might be different than what some people expect. As someone who grew up on Game Informer, and who’s young enough to remember school vividly, I’ve always used a school grading system as a basis for my reviews – with a 7, or 70%, being the average, instead of a 5. While this leaves the top of the scale pretty concentrated with great-to-amazing games, and a lot of room to describe the various shades of bad at the bottom, it’s something that feels natural to me.
I’ve also decided to excise quarter point scores from the review process. So where you might’ve seen a 7.25 score, you should now see a 7.2 or 7.3. Similarly, a 7.7 and 7.8 will replace a 7.75. What’s the difference? It all comes down to my overall feelings on each game. If I’m positive overall on a game with a lot of problems, I’m more likely to award it a 7.3, while a game I don’t like as much that gets better over time might get a 7.2. For example, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey became a 7.2 after I began playing the new Bowser Jr.’s Journey mode because of how much I liked it over the base game. I think this mode pushes the game overall to be just above average, but since that push came so late into my playthrough, I wanted it to have a score that reflected how much work it took for the game to get there in my eyes. This system is not an exact science, I’m still testing its limits, but I think it helps provide greater context about where I’m coming from with each specific title.
I have other plans in the works, including more photos, videos, and perhaps even streaming, but nothing is set in stone. All the same, I want to thank everyone one more time for reading this blog. It means everything to me, and I hope you get some enjoyment out of reading it like I get from writing it. As it continues to expand and improve, I hope you’ll be right here along with me, seeing how it changes from week to week.
Here’s to a second great year!
If you want to contact me, feel free to drop me a DM on Twitter, or send an email to dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios.com.