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The Stranded 5Th Anniversary

October 21, 2014


Yesterday marked five years since I made an account on WordPress and wrote my first post here.  Fittingly, it was on pinball.  Within a couple of weeks, a bunch of us were hangin’ out here, waiting with open arms to welcome the Charger, the Spitter, and the “I’m weiner-ed!” Jockey in the L4D sequel. 

Lots has happened since then.  Gears of War Three was released to much hype and expectation, and by Christmas, only two months later, no one was playing it except for Kenny and Zender.  I guess that single dedicated server in CliffyB’s closet wasn’t the panel van of candy he was hoping for. 

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 took everyone by surprise, especially me.  I thought the Frostbite engine with its cel-shading effect was ugly, until I played the demo (with paddles unlocked).  I ended up playing that demo more than I have played most of the games on my shelf.  The game proper came shortly after, and even with the stink of EA’s “VIP Pass”, most of us continued to play it.  Indeed, one of my all time favorite gaming memories is playing BF:BC2 and running up the jungle road on Laguna Presa with ELEVEN other green and blue nametags flashing above the soldiers’ heads, all of whom were friends. Such an epic moment in Stranded gaming.

Since then, I wrote my piece on the Gamer Appeal Profile, something I am still proud of and completely convinced of its relevance to getting and keeping gamers playing a single title. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is the most recent example of wide-appeal design. Even a gamer with a greatly impoverished sense of humor and gaming skills can have fun.

Some other great moments here include Blankman’s trips to Comic Con and E3 and his holding Rod Eff up to the flames of accountability.

Grymm’s output has slowed of late, but he has also kept us entertained with his videos and music.

And, of course, there was a wedding, in fact, there were two. But facebook stole most of that thunder, as it continues to do with most events, including the addition of a very short person this past year.

(I don’t say that bitterly. The benefits of not being on facebook so outweigh the good that could ever come of “being networked”, it is a price I am and will be willing to pay daily for the rest of my life. It reminds me of the scene in Band of Brothers when the old man interviewed says 50 years after the fact, “I still wake up glad I am not in the (frozen) forests of Bastogne”.)

Over the years, there have been many epic posts and comments, but the one I remember best is from Kenai in response to the announcement of the Vietnam Expansion for BC2:

Oh…. We ARE buying these maps!
I play like… 4 games
BC2, Reach, Gears and Left 4 Dead.
I BUY maps. I just do.

Every time the boys and I are tottering on the fence about a game related purchase, someone says, “I buy maps. I just do.” That, or they start using “Kenny Math”, “I had a coupon, and two gift certificates, so it only cost me 6 dollars!”

Just this weekend, Cornie started listing the number of games 2GN has already bought on their Ones. A few more and it will be in the double digits. Not bad for a crew that didn’t plan on buying more than two or three games a year.

The new consoles finally came out. With the latest update, the One OS is finally nearing the place where the 360 left off. Admittedly, things can get crazy (good) from here on out because of the foundational architecture. Remember Apple abandoning OS9 and changing to NeXT with OSX? 12 years and they haven’t looked back once.

I do have a single concern about this Next Gen, however. With the flood of new games, and all the non-gaming options available, are the communities going to be large enough to support the plethora of MPvs lobbies? Seriously, for those who think the 100+ maps for the Master Chief Collection is going to be awesome, you might want to be sure that you have another 7 friends buying the game. Halo games have never had bots…only quitters. LOL (sorry, I couldn’t resist). On the other hand, if you have a crew to play with, set up the private lobbies and don’t come out till The Division is released.

There have been some disappointments. In fact, there have been so many, that I am no longer the angry gamer I once was (NextGen Hardware rants aside).

Caveat emptor and all that.

Still, after what Gearbox, Overkill, and Splash Damage did to A:CM, Payday 2, and Brink, respectively, I suspect I won’t be buying any more games from those specific “developers”.

AT the other end of the spectrum there is Diablo 3, and while that may hold more sway for some than others, there is no denying the longevity of that polished gem. I am genuinely happy for Blankman because it is a system seller. It is literally worth the price of the One for just that game. (I was wishing BF4 would have been that for me.)

For movies, there really hasn’t been anything in the last five years that made me want to buy a DVD, but in TV, we saw AMC’s Breaking Bad. There was a rumor started this weekend that a Sixth Season was in the works, and what surprised me was my willingness to change the ending of the 5th in my head so that a 6th would actually be possible. So great was my desire to see Jesse and Walt again. (The rumor was ridiculous to begin with, but was also immediately nuked, from orbit, just to be sure.)

What will the next five years bring? Well, certainly graduation for a number of our children. It may even bring some more weddings, and/or children! It only takes an instant to fall in love, and it only takes nine months to have a bouncing baby boy or girl!

As for games, there are some really shiny prospects: The Division, Rainbow Six:Siege, and Evolve to name the soonish ones. Halo 5 might deliver as might Gears of War Four. 343 has proven that fans can make a better product than the original creators.

Tonight, we did our part to let Microsoft know that they want to support digital pre-order downloading. Sunset Overdrive is pre-installed on two of our machines, ready to be played as soon as it is unlocked. The day J&T leave for Canada, C is having a friend over and they are gonna play all night. For those who liked Tony Hawk games, it seems like a no brainer.

Here’s to an even better five more years! Catch you in the party!

  1. Average permalink*
    October 21, 2014 8:59 am

    This was a great read in bed this morning.
    Thanks for the recollection and congrats on 5 years!!!

  2. October 21, 2014 2:35 pm

    Where does the time go? Look forward to the next 5! Hopefully there is a “Stranded” game we can all agree on soon. Miss those big games full of buds (so many 4-5 player experiences these days it seems)

  3. October 21, 2014 3:40 pm

    I for sure miss the BFBC2 or Gears 1 or LFD2 nights. But eventhough we don’t do much actual gaming all together that much, the depth of our friendship is such that no game is needed. We just chat most nights, while everyone plugs away with the game or app of their choice. I am sorry I’m not around much lately. Most times it’s because I’m gone on the weekends, others it’s just that I’m tired and don’t feel much like talking / hanging.

    Also, my habits have changed. I’m getting “out” more, being more productive in certain areas (including more time reading and writing). Also my need to “escape” is less, which also means that I’m not drinking or smoking any longer. Witnessed by my getting to bed earlier and rising earlier.

    With that said, I am no where near ‘finished as a gamer’. Rather, I’d say that I am “saving up” so to speak for those nights that are sure to come when we all DO find a game that we all love playing together. Till then, catch you online (sooner than later), and Happy Anniversary my brothers! What we have is more special than even we understand now. It has been my saving grace these past 8 years (I don’t just count 5 yrs, but from the beginning…)

  4. Blankman permalink*
    October 22, 2014 2:17 am

    It may just be five years of The Stranded, but we’ve known each other for well over ten years now. I’ve personally met Adam, Stephy, Jimmy, and will soon meet Eddie. We’ve all grown older and wiser throughout the years. Geez, so much has happened in our lives that you’ve done a marvelous job recounting the majority of it, Mike. Thanks for such a well written post, Onii-San! 😀

    There’s no beating turning on the box to catch up with each other. It’s like knocking on your buddy’s door & kicking it, or picking up the phone just to shoot the breeze. These are genuine & lasting friendships. What a great group of guys and a girl! Here’s to more years to come!

  5. October 22, 2014 2:08 pm

    Yeah, some of you have been in touch for two times five years. I didn’t get to know most of you until January 2007, a couple of months after the release of Gears One. That first two years of nightly Gears was insane. I used to join you on the weekends, after you had already been playing every night of the week. And on the weekends there were no time limits. Most of you played through the night. Same old maps, and the only thing that got old was the broke. After that, L4D came pretty close in rivaling the attraction.

    Anyway, good stuff. Glad you enjoyed the post. What Blank and Kenai said about friendship isn’t an exaggeration. We’ve been through thick and thin with each other, getting angry at each other not because of fault, but because of absence!


  6. October 22, 2014 2:25 pm

    Titanfall just got Frontier Defense (Horde Mode). Might be worth checkin’ out, if it weren’t so ugly. lol

    And Sunset Overdrive got a Launch Trailer.

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