I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but moving into 2016 I had a clear goal: Write More. I really do enjoy writing, mostly as it's a way of getting my thoughts organized. There's a frustrating number of half-written posts/articles from the last year where I got bogged down in things like structure, what to say in the opening paragraph, or whether or not it's getting across the right point. Then the post languishes in Evernote and I move on to something else. So this is the start of my plan to write a bit more often. For my first post of 2016, how about a year in review? I'll talk about what I'm up to and my favorite music, game, movie, tv show, and book of 2015.
It's been an eventful year. I'm at a different job and in a different country. It's great to be living back in Boston after my 5 years in Canada (though oh man do I miss poutine and Tim Hortons). I started at Disruptor Beam back in March where I've gotten the chance to work with the incredible Game of Thrones license. Game of Thrones Ascent (web, facebook, mobile) is just now approaching it's 3rd anniversary, so I joined at an exciting time. We do weekly updates with new content and new or improved features and I'm responsible for designing nearly all of it. The highlight so far has been a complete redesign of the Alliance vs Alliance (AvA) system where groups of up 100 players compete.
As far as Loot Quest, we soft-launched it in Canada but unfortunately the project was cancelled soon after. There were many things I was proud of in that game and our team put in a lot of great work. But between some gameplay mandates from above that we struggled against throughout development and an excess of technical hurdles, it just wasn't shaping up.
Best of 2015
Last year, I wrote a single post on "Albums of the Year," but this time around I'm going broader with a variety of favorites.
Album of the Year: Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
What a mind-blowing album. Kendrick Lamar just blows me away, intensity and passion infusing every track. Interestingly the album features the bass work and production of Thundercat, who also played a major role in one of my favorite albums of last year: Kimbra's The Golden Echo.
Song of the Year: Closure in Moscow - Happy Days
I wasn't going to do two music entries, but I've been absolutely obsessed with this song. It's actually from an album that I discovered at the very end of 2014, but for some reason it took me a while to latch onto this track. It's the second-to-last track on the album, so maybe I just didn't get that far very often.
Game of the Year: The Witcher 3
I never played the first, only played half of the second, but The Witcher 3 had me completing nearly every side quest plus the DLC. What really hooked me was how every little side-quest seemed to be lovingly crafted to confound expectations.
Movie of the Year: Mad Max: Fury Road
Of course it is. If you haven't seen this movie because you thought it was just a dumb action movie or something, you're missing out. While I look forward to the inevitable sequel, I really want an entire spin-off franchise about Charlize Theron's badass Furiosa.
Show of the Year: Hannibal
It's borderline criminal that Hannibal never was even nominated for an Emmy, especially given that through a quirk of scheduling both Seasons 2 and 3 were eligible for the most recent set. Awards were deserved across the board, especially the cinematography, sound design, and the raw performances of Mads Mikkelson (Hannibal) and Hugh Dancy (Will Graham). "Every director who comes to the show gets the same lecture," said showrunner Bryan Fuller. "We are not making television. We are making a pretentious art film from the 80s."
Book of the Year: Reza Aslan - Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Most of the books I read this year didn't really stick with me. Some good reads, entertaining novels, but nothing that felt particularly special. The one exception was a very interesting read on a topic I knew extremely little about. It constructs a history by "placing Jesus firmly within the social, religious, and political context of the era in which he lived -- an era marked by the slow burn of a revolt against Rome that would forever transform the faith and practice of Judaism."