Games with Coffee: Recapping 2020

(It’s been a while since we had a normal post, huh?)

Welcome everyone to the return of Games with Coffee! Mobius VII is done for now, but if you read the previous acknowledgements post, you’ll see that we’re not done yet! We’ve only just started on our journey through this fantastic world! AND I’ve even begun writing notes for the next edition! It’s more worldbuilding than anything else, but it’s a start.

So, while we’re now in 2021 and way past the four year anniversary of the site, I wanted to take some time to recap a few things that happened in that dreaded 2020. Honestly… It’s been readers like you that have been keeping me going through that tough phase, so again, thank you all so much for your support. It means a lot to me that you’re willing to take time out of your busy schedules to come down and check out my content. Much love to all of you!

Anyways, let’s not delay further, shall we?


The Real Pandemic Blues

2020. What a year it has been… And it was honestly one that didn’t start off on the right foot for me especially.

Three days into the new year, I was unceremoniously let go from my field inspection job. After two and a quarter years, the company I worked for at the time decided it was time to downsize the inspection department, which led to my job’s elimination. Luckily though, I bounced right back onto my feet and landed a job at my current place of employment. Here, I’m doing sales of all things, and strangely enough, I’m doing fairly well in it.

Who knew, right?

Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with too much work stuff, except for the fact that 2020 was the first and only year where I’ve worked inside of an office for a grand total of 14 days. The rest of the year was spent home – either searching for jobs during the first two months of the year and then working from home for the remainder. In fact, I’m still working from home now, but it hasn’t been to my detriment, thankfully.

Working from home has brought its own challenges, though. Balancing work with personal stuff was hard. Add in a toddler to the mix and you get a perfect storm of busyness. In a way, I appreciated that – that storm prevented me from getting too bored and lethargic and… well, it kept me sane.

All this time spent at home has helped me tremendously in finishing Book 1 of Mobius VII. By the time you read this, all 42 chapters will have been posted to the blog. It’s been a heck of a ride and I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I have. As of this time, we’ll get back to a normal-ish schedule of things with new posts releasing every Friday. I found a system that works (relatively speaking), so we won’t see blackouts as we did through all of 2019 haha.

What this year has taught me, overall, is that reflection is good for the soul. No matter what job you have or what situation you’re in, if you don’t give yourself time to process how you feel about things, it can be hard to move on. A good example from gaming I can think of is Shadow from Sonic Adventure 2. Shadow initially wanted revenge on humanity for killing his best friend, Maria. However, after a conversation with Amy on Space Station ARK, Shadow reflected on it and finally remembered Maria’s wish – for him to help save humanity. Which he did at the end of the Final Story at the apparent cost of his life.

In my case, before I started my new job, I wrote a letter to myself to reflect on my feelings during the ten years since I started my career. I poured all the inadequacies, failures and disappointments I felt into words and then sealed it and all the objects and things that reminded me of how much I hated the last decade of my career into a box that I promised I wouldn’t open again for ten more years. I don’t exactly recall what I wrote in that letter now, but I know that I made a declaration on that piece of paper to never let those failures and disappointments affect me again.

Meanwhile, work wasn’t the only thing keeping me busy this year.


Becoming a Streamer

2020 was the year that I decided to start streaming. Back at the end of 2019, my cousin Lee gifted me a wonderful PC rig to use for streaming and gaming. This thing was much more powerful and robust than anything I’ve ever owned. With this in hand, coupled with my contribution to “The Characters That Define Us” collaboration by Normal Happenings, I decided to celebrate my love for Sonic the Hedgehog by streaming a whole bunch of Sonic games every Sunday starting in February. I took all of December and January to tweak my setup, get my equipment in order and create my layouts and heck, it paid off in spades! My consistency with my streams, coupled with participating in a few tournaments and networking with a bunch of great streamers allowed me to reach Affiliate status by July 13th – my birthday! Honestly, that was one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received!

Now, streaming has become one of my favourite things to do besides writing and I’ve learned so much from the practice. The next post after this one will go into details about those lessons.


Collaborations

As I mentioned in the last section, I participated in a little collab called “The Characters that Define Us.” And by little, I mean over 50 amazing writers baring their souls about the characters that have helped them through thick and thin. Sometimes, these characters helped in small, minute ways. Others have impacted a writer’s life so much that they couldn’t imagine where they would be without them. My piece was about Sonic, of course. Writing about him helped me realize just how wonderful this life really is, even if I complain here and there about certain little things.

I was also a part of the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration set up by The Well-Red Mage in commemoration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. You can find my entry here.

I also participated in a charity stream for Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C), run by Andy AKA ProducerBTW. It was a great charity for a great cause. I learned a lot about fundraising and I’m hoping to do more charitable streaming this year. SU2C will be one of those that I’ll be working with for sure!


Patreon-ages

I bit the bullet and became a Patron for Story Mode: The Video Game Podcast. Starring my three good friends: Red (The Well-Red Mage), Blue (Wrytersview) and Ryebread (Retro Game Brews/Beer Ryan), they discuss the gaming news of the week and provide some colourful takes on various topics. They bring up some really interesting stuff and I highly encourage you to listen when you get a chance. The three hosts are hilarious and informative and they may hold differing opinions about certain things, but at the end of the day, they always Agree to Disagree. They are hosted on Buzzsprout, but you can also find them anywhere you find podcasts.


Some Personal Stuff

In spite of the pandemic, 2020 was not a bed of roses around the internet and within the gaming sphere. Toxicity within gaming had reached an all-time high and with people being completely burnt out from all the lockdowns, elections and uncertainty, I saw plenty of falling outs happen among good friends.

Speaking of which, despite being a homebody, I found this past year to be difficult in terms of talking with friends and family. I mean, I’ve been taking this thing seriously. I followed the rules and I’m trying to keep my family safe, but still, I see so many people not taking this seriously and it makes me wonder, are we even doing the right thing here? I dunno. People flaunting the rules, getting together, risking their lives and the lives they impact around them… man, it bothers me a little bit. I get the feeling though that things’ll get better soon. And they better – my mental health needs a bit of relief haha.

Also, right as this pandemic started, Mrs. Coffee had to go to surgery for gallbladder removal. Prior to that, she hadn’t eaten a solid meal in weeks and I was super worried about her… Thankfully, the issue has been fixed and she’s all better now!

If all that wasn’t enough, the calibre of games that were released this year were… mediocre at best? Well, save for a few good and unexpected ones, that is! 


Games, Games, Games

Final Fantasy VII Remake released in March and of course, I had to get it! I didn’t start playing it until the summer though after I completed Book 1. The game started out really strong for me, but the plot direction at the end really threw me off. I’m thinking about giving the game another chance, perhaps when I get a PS5 for the Intergrade upgrade, but I’m flip-flopping about it. I’ll admit, there were a LOT of great things that happened in Remake. The combat system was just flippin’ fantastic and the voice acting was pretty good. While I mained Cloud in most battles, I really enjoyed playing as Tifa. Her techniques are so fluid and powerful and she moves so gracefully! 

Oh my gosh, she’s so gorgeous!

On the flip side, there were a lot of things wrong with it too. The Whispers being my biggest complaint. They were so in-your-face about the fact that “OOOOO you’re ch—-anging the fu——–ture! That’s not allo—-wed!” Honestly, it was really annoying. There were also several awkward moments that, while funny, didn’t really jive well with me. I mean, a dance number? Seriously, I know Cloud is pretty good at most things, but getting up on stage and Bollywood dancing with Andres was not one of those things I was expecting! Especially after the incredibly awkward high-five moment. Despite the alterations, I’m happy that they kept the cross-dressing sequence.

That’s despite the changes they made to the sequence itself…

The moment I was looking forward to the most was the Shinra Tower infiltration… and it was so-so? I liked some of the newer elements, like the detailed break room, but getting through The Drum on the 68th was just weird. Plus, the whole prison break sequence was completely removed and I was a bit disappointed with that. Sneaking around the blood-soaked corridors of the upper floors after being mysteriously released in the original was both terrifying and exciting the first time around. Speaking of blood, the absence of it from JENOVA’s release threw me way off. The purple goop made things interesting, but the blood would have been better.

Icky.

Besides Remake, I played the Sega Ages version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, released the same week as the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and it was awesome! I wrote a review on both the game and the movie. At this current moment, the game review is unavailable, but give it a few months and you’ll see it up again soon.

On top of that, I played Sonic Lost World for the very first time and I honestly don’t get why it’s so disliked? Sure, the writing was a bit subpar and there were some questionable level design decisions, but the introduction of parkour mechanics felt like a natural evolution on how Sonic is supposed to move. I’m currently writing a review on that game which will be released in a couple of month’s time (due to restructuring on the site that I write for).

So much fun!

In fact, since I dedicated 2020 to be the “Year of Sonic,” I’ve been playing several other Sonic games that I’ve never played before! Some examples include Sonic and Sega All-Star Racing, All-Star Racing Transformed and Tails Adventure.

I also played Final Fantasy XII – The Zodiac Age and Dragon Quest XI – two RPG’s that were phenomenal! I never finished the original FFXII (which I still own for PS2), but the quality of life changes within the TZA edition made it much easier to complete. As for Dragon Quest XI… I love that game! It’s so dense and epic and it pretty much rivals my love for DQ VIII – my all-time favourite entry of the series. I still haven’t finished all of XI just yet – I need to do some grinding and prepare my characters for the ultimate final battle against Calasmos.

In the tail end of the year, I picked up Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. I only recently started playing them, but oh man, are they a ROMP! Both games have hilarious dialogue and tight gameplay. Half-Genie Hero has tons of alternate game modes to play after the main story, and even includes increased difficulty modes.

One game that I really wanted to play after hearing about it so much was Ghosts of Tsushima. The game itself looks breathtaking – you can visit locales and compose haiku, take photos of beautiful environments, do battle honourably as a samurai or even use less-than-honourable methods to take out the invading Mongol forces. It looks like a treat to play and I definitely need to make it a priority to get this one.

Despite the rest of 2020’s offerings being controversial (The Last of Us 2, Cyberpunk 2077) or just OK (Final Fantasy VII Remake), the standout game for this year, in my opinion, was Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The story takes place a hundred years before the events of Breath of the Wild and honestly, this era was perfect for a Dynasty Warriors-style game. I’ve only started playing it and I’m having so much fun revisiting the characters and environments that it honestly makes me want to go back and explore the corners of Hyrule once more. What’s more, the combat is exhilarating and mindless! Mowing down hundreds of Bokoblins never felt so good!


So, What’s Next?

2021 is turning out to be a huge year so far. There are so many gaming milestones being celebrated this year alone. Among those include Pokemon, Super Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil, which celebrate their 25th anniversaries. Street Fighter II and Battletoads celebrate their 30th. Finally, Metroid and Dragon Quest celebrate their 35th!

But there are two anniversaries that are the most important to me. They are The Legend of Zelda, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary and Sonic the Hedgehog, which turns the big 30 this June! To commemorate those milestones, I’ve been playing a plethora of Sonic and Zelda games on my Sunday and Tuesday streams respectively.

Writing-wise, I’ve done at least one collaboration for The Legend of Zelda – I wrote a piece about Zelda II, my favourite in the series. I’ll also be collaborating with a bunch of other writers about the Sonic series and those entries will be coming later this year, post-Sonic’s birthday. 

I’m going to update the site a bit to include links to all my collaborations. I was supposed to do that from time, but I just never got around to it.

Meanwhile, I’m in the planning stages for the next installment of Mobius VII. I’ve started worldbuilding and layout of the plot with the hope that I can start writing the first chapters by around the end of summer. Continuing on the subject of Mobius VII, I’m producing a podcast series on how I wrote the first book. This will be an in-depth discussion on how I framed the plot of FFVII around the Sonic the Hedgehog universe and will include references to various Sonic media and other things. The plan is to have the first ten episodes ready by summer, look forward to more news and progress in the coming months!

There’s also another story here that I need to finish and that is The Legend of Zelda: Black and White – a fanfiction I started on a whim three years ago. It’s a shorter series, with ten or twelve chapters total, so it shouldn’t take too long to finish that one. The layout for it is done, all that’s left is to write the rest of the story out.

As for ongoing posts, I’ll be putting out content every Friday or so. Fridays seem to be the most popular and easiest of days to post, so that’ll be the schedule from now on. Next up will be what I’ve learned from streaming, as I mentioned above.

Finally, in personal news, I’ve been more physically active lately. I felt like my health has been sliding as of late, so I got back into a workout routine and eating right and it’s been a big help so far! I feel a big difference two months in compared to how I started 2021. I’ve also been analyzing and taking notes on several books I’ve read so far this year in hopes to improve my writing. I may be decent right now, but I want to be a better writer for the future! Currently, I’m reading Atomic Habits in the hopes that I can find a way to make writing practise a daily habit. Spur of the moment things are great, but I need to put out stuff consistently while keeping up with other projects.

And with that, we come to the end of this very long update! I promise these posts’ll be shorter haha. How has 2020 treated you? Have you become stronger in spite of the challenges faced over the past year? Let me know in the comments below.

With that, this has been Ryan reminding you not only to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing, but to Live With No Regrets, Believe In Yourself and Chase After The Impossible! See you all next time!


Games with Coffee in 2020

What’s up everyone? Happy New Year and welcome to a new edition of Games with Coffee! I hope your holidays were well and full of rest, food, coffee and plenty of gaming opportunities!

Today, I’ll forego a year in review and instead talk about the year ahead. Let’s dive in:

Games and Related News

A lot of crazy gaming stuff is happening this year.

Image result for final fantasy 7 remake box art

Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1 is coming out this March April.

Image result for sonic the hedgehog poster

Sonic the Hedgehog’s first foray into Hollywood is happening in just under a month from now.

A whole wack of other high profile games are going to be released this year and I know that a lot of people are looking forward to their release later this year. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind, Animal Crossing and Cyberpunk 2077 are just a few I can name off the top of my head. Also coming later this year are the new next-gen consoles, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.

While I might pick up the Final Fantasy remake, I plan on tackling some of my backlog this year, meaning (for the most part) I’ll withhold purchasing new games for the time being. I also got Dragon Quest XI for the Switch, but it’ll be a while until I start on that. For now, I’m going to get through Pokemon Shield, Final Fantasy XII and a couple of smaller games on my Switch before I tackle that beast. And let’s not get into my PS4 and Steam backlog…

I need to make a spreadsheet.

Fanfiction

I’m still on hiatus from the blog, but I’m making some amazing progress on my passion project. In fact, I have just finished roughly 75% of the rough draft! I estimate that I have about eight to ten chapters to write and it should be ready to publish in full by mid-2020. Again, each chapter of this story will premier exclusively on Games with Coffee and will be migrated to other fanfiction sites (such as Fanfiction.net) once the story has been fully published.

Another thing that I want to finish is my Legend of Zelda: Black and White series. The idea of a Film Noir-style Zelda was inspired by a TWRM Radio post back in July of 2018. If you haven’t read them yet, go and start here. I’ll wait. 

The whole story is expected to be completed in roughly ten parts plus an epilogue. I won’t say too much, but there will be a betrayal. I just hope it won’t be too obvious when all is revealed. More on that will be coming in Fall of 2020.

Posts

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My “Guide to Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer” entries were fairly popular, so I’ll be adding some more parts to it. Expect to see topics such as dealing with distorted thinking, mental contrasting and how to keep the positives and negatives balanced within you and even a little section about budgeting! (Because we can always use budgeting tips for this time of year.)

I’ll also try to go back to my roots as a blogger. 2019 was a weird year, in that I didn’t post as much as I used to (nine posts vs. 31 in both 2017 and 2018!). Despite taking a break and working on the fanfic, I should be back to a more consistent schedule of posting for this year and I got a lot of things to cover. So, expect to see more personal stories, more editorial pieces for discussion, some acquisitions, a few major events and a lot of talk about a certain blue hedgehog…

Collaborations

Speaking of hedgehogs, my good friend Matt from the blog Normal Happenings has begun slowly trickling out posts for “The Characters that Define Us!” This is a massive, year long collaboration that involves over 52 writers discussing the characters that had made a lasting impact on their lives. Yours truly is a part of this collaboration and I’ll be talking about none other than the Blue Blur himself: Sonic the Hedgehog! I don’t know when it’ll be released, (Matt’s being very hush-hush about the schedule) but keep it locked here for updates when they become available!

I have some more Sonic related stuff to discuss, but that’s gonna have its own section. 🙂

On the other side of the console war spectrum comes the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration, organized by my other good friend, The Well Red Mage! Scheduled to go up on March 10 (Mar10 Day), this massive collab will feature over 100 writers talking about Mario games of all kinds. I myself will share a little story about how Super Mario Odyssey helped my little family during a tight situation.

Streaming

This past Christmas, a cousin of mine (let’s be real, he’s more like a brother to me) who I haven’t seen in ages gave me a gaming PC built from spare parts he wasn’t using any longer! The reason behind the gift was to support my endeavors. Oh, and to do some online gaming as well! Honestly, no words could express how much that gift meant to me – both the computer and the gesture behind it are incredibly powerful.

I have no words to express my gratitude…

With a new, more powerful rig at my disposal, I’ve decided to venture back into the world of streaming. I’m on Twitch and I’m planing on streaming every Sunday nights starting in February. You can check my stream schedule to your right under the freshly added “What’s On The Menu?” events calendar.

This now begs the question: What am I going to stream? Well, I’ll explain below:

#SONIC2020

I’ve decided to dedicate this year, 2020, to Sonic the Hedgehog. To that end, I’m doing several things in tribute to this awesome character:

  • I’m starting a show on Twitch called “The Sonic Sunday Power Hour!” Inspired by my #SonicSunday posts on Instagram, every Sunday, from February to the week of Sonic’s birthday, I’ll be streaming a Sonic title for one whole hour. I’m in the midst of preparing the first stream for February 2nd. You can also check out my test streams (see What’s On The Menu on the sidebar) and provide feedback on my audio/visual setup! I want this to look and sound decent when it all starts, so your help would be greatly appreciated dear readers!
  • I’m getting a tattoo to celebrate the character! I won’t say when I’ll get it, but I’ll let all you know when it happens. I’ve designed it myself.
  • See “The Characters That Define Us” in the collaboration section above. It’s a huge deal.
  • A movie review of Sonic the Hedgehog! It’ll be a first for the site, so please bear with me. I predict it will be terrible (as all video game movies are), but Detective Pikachu surprised me greatly, so… *shrugs*
  • And finally, my much talked about, much anticipated debut of my fanfiction passion project, titled: Mobius VII Book I: Escape from the City.

Site Updates and Content Scheduling

It’s also time to do a little housecleaning here at Games with Coffee. I’ve designed and uploaded a brand new header, added some new social media links and the aforementioned events timeline that I’ll update periodically to show what’s coming up soon on the blog. This will also help me maintain a consistent schedule, so I don’t put up nine freaking posts in a year.

While most of these changes have been implemented in the last week or so, I’m pretty limited as to what I can do with other things (say, implementing a Dark Mode). Which is why I want to upgrade my plan here at WordPress. I feel that with a Premium plan and access to CSS, I can do so much more to make Games with Coffee your number one spot to just chill out and read some stories while drinking coffee.

You may have also noticed a little blue button on the side asking to buy me a coffee. Clicking there will take you to my page on Ko-Fi, where you can support me for the price of a coffee. Donations are non-recurring and the proceeds will all go towards upgrading the site. I’m about halfway to that point as of writing. So, if you could buy a coffee for your favourite coffee-fueled writing machine, I and this website would sincerely and greatly appreciate you for it.

Plus, you get an awesome and inspiring thank you note from yours truly for every coffee you buy. And we could all use some inspiring words from time to time, am I right?

And Finally, Some Personal News

So… remember this post a couple years ago? I started this job with a fresh, new mindset and for the most part, it’s helped greatly. Until I got laid off due to restructuring. Yep, I’m jobless to start the new decade.

But, it’s not all that bad. I look at it as a chance for a new beginning. Ten years ago, I was just finishing school, just got hired for my first job, in debt, dating, writing a fanfiction and having basically no clue what direction my life was going to go into.

Here in 2020, I’m married, I have my own home, I have a pretty good career in engineering, I have an amazing kid who’s totally into Sonic the Hedgehog (like his old man!), I have this awesome blog with these way past awesome people reading it, I’m collaborating with truly spectacular folks like The Well Red Mage and Matt from Normal Happenings, I’m going to start streaming soon and I’m still writing fanfiction! And… actual original fiction too. Maybe. Who knows?

I’m pretty thankful for all of those things, but I still feel unsure of what the future holds. However, if I continue to espouse everything I’ve talked about here on this blog, about being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer, then I’m sure everything will work out.


So, what’s next? Well, my first test stream has been planned for this Sunday. I put up a Twitter poll to request what game I should test my setup with, so check that out and vote! Otherwise, I’ll see you this Sunday at 9:30pm Eastern for The Sonic Sunday Power Hour! Hope to see you there!

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.


Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.