A Few Final Thoughts On #JustOnePercent (By Way of Steam’s Year In Review)

This was a very atypical year for me, as far as how I played games. So, of course, this is also the first year that Steam dropped their end of the year replay wrap up! While it’s not 100% representative of how I spent my gaming time, at least quantity-wise, I do play most game via Steam. This year, because of the Just One Percent Project, I might have branched out a bit more, playing a handful of titles on Itch.io*, through XBox Game Pass for PC, and even a handful on the Epic launcher and on Utomik. So while the numbers don’t quite reflect everything, it looks kind of like how I felt to play – which is to say, a bit chaotic.

*I really would like to play more of the stuff that I have picked up on Itch.io, but those games tend to be a casualty of the size of my Steam library and the fact that when I don’t know what to play, Steam is always my first stop.

If you’re curious about all the details of my Steam Replay for 2022, clicking on the image above will take you there.

Just on Steam, I played 198 different games this year, when you include the 48 demos I tried out. Even taking those out of the equation, that’s still 149 different titles. Now, I am a dabbler, true, but I’m not normally that much of a dabbler. But between February and November of this year, I made 105 posts for the #JustOnePercent project. Assuming a 10% fail rate (where I at least launched the game, but didn’t write about it for one reason or another), and – just a guesstimate – assuming that 25% of what I played for the project was on another platform, when we fudge the numbers just smidgen, we can guess that about 87 of those titles I played specifically as part of the project.

That leaves me with what feels like a far more manageable number of 62 games that I played this year just because they struck my fancy, which is a little more than 5 a month. That feels about right to me. The ranking by playtime seems to reflect that as well – it’s not until you reach the third dozen that games I chose for the project start regularly appearing, with Cozy Grove being the only title to make an appearance in my top two dozen, by playtime.

(Although I suspect a couple of the titles I played outside of Steam – notably The Wild At Heart and The Forgotten City would have showed up in my top 25, easily.)

What isn’t particular surprising is the very low number of games (which is to say, one?) in the top third of my list of titles played for the year that were not indie titles. When I say I mostly play indie games, I guess I really mean it, and now I have the stats to back it up.

I’ve been putting off writing about the project a bit, partially because – oh dear lord – I needed a break from it after 10 long months, but also because I hadn’t yet figured out the answer to a key question.

Was it successful?

I mean, I know it was in that I did what I set out to do. I played more than 100 games that came out on Steam in full release during 2021. For the majority of those titles, that means I spent at least an hour with each game, and there were a handful I really enjoyed that I would maybe never have gotten around to trying out. While I didn’t go spelunking too far outside of my comfort zone, I feel like I stretched a little, and that’s always a good thing.

But I don’t think the project necessarily made the statement I thought it would when I started out.

I’ll admit it – a few of the titles that I played probably never should have seen the light of day, never mind an active store front. But for the most part, I could see the merit in each of the titles, even when I was very clearly not the target audience. Some of the games I picked – in large part because they were at least in the same orbit as my taste – were immensely popular and successful indie titles. Some of the games I thought were great, however, only managed a handful of sales.

It’s not easy to pull a top twelve from a big old mess of over 100 titles, but the games that I feel were probably the best of the bunch – at least for my taste – were Cozy Grove, The Forgotten City, The Wild at Heart, Wildermyth, Gamedec, Lacuna, At Eve’s Wake, Wytchwood, Before We Leave, Overboard, To The Rescue, and The List. Order of preference is – at best – approximate.

I really don’t envy the people who need to come up with the titles to put on the “Best of…” lists we always see at this time of year, and I really struggled picking my “Top Twelve” from the 105 games I played for the project. Even in doing so, I kind of felt like it was a bit unfair – a full two-thirds of the titles I felt like I got the most out of were already on my wish list (or were games I had Kickstarted) before the idea for the project even existed.

Putting those aside for a moment, the four biggest happy surprises for me were the following titles: The Forgotten City, The Wild at Heart, At Eve’s Wake, and The List. None of these were on my radar at all, and I would probably not have played any of them outside the boundaries of this project, and I loved every one of them.

Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy any of the other games I played – in fact, I enjoyed most of them. They just weren’t necessarily the exact game I would have picked to play when I did if I had not been so tightly focused on 2021 releases from indie game developers.

Which I guess just leaves one final question: Would I do it again?

Sorry for anyone who was a big fan of the project, but I don’t think that I would. It’s not that I don’t think I play a hundred or so different games in the course of an average year – I have no doubt that I do – but I definitely skipped out on more than a few things I would have really preferred to be playing at any given time.

I’ve built a big library precisely so I can go where my whims take me. I like my whims. I’m pretty damn attached to my whims.

This is well reflected by my Steam Replay, as well as by those silly charts I post in my In Review posts – I tend to spend the most time playing the games that I want to play at any given time. Revolutionary, right? It’s also why this is my hobby, and not my job.

I had toyed around with some different project ideas for 2023, but I think – just now – I’ve realized that what I would really like to do is play whatever strikes my fancy, at least for awhile.

Lessons Learned – Week Five – The Boy Scouts Had It Right All Along

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK FIVE of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Lessons Learned. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Lessons Learned Blaugchievement.

This will be my third Blaugust even where I paid attention to the themes and talked a little bit about what I took away from the experience. In 2019, I was mostly just glad to be writing again, and little bit relieved it was all over. Then last year, I reminded myself that getting the words out was the important part, and I needed to let go of that part of me that desperately needs everything to be done absolutely perfectly.

Well, my big takeaway from 2022 is almost as revelatory – everything is easier when you take the time to prepare yourself.

The Boy Scouts of America may not be the best example to follow for most things in life, but “Be Prepared” is a pretty excellent motto nonetheless.

It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Because of the limitations of my energy, and my constant skirmishes with brain fog, I already have a pretty good focus on preparedness in the rest of my life. If I have a bunch of things I need to remember to take with me in the morning, I make sure to get them all together the night before. I make sure I have everything I need for the meals I plan to cook between grocery deliveries when I put in my order. Heck, I don’t even like to start a craft project until I have all the supplies I’m going to need for it.

Why did it never occur to me to apply this to my blogging before?

Sure, it didn’t stay this neat as I came up with new ideas and moved things around, but I never stumbled over thinking about what I was going to write for the entire month.

I have been keeping a content calendar – this was on my to list even before I decided to start up the #JustOnePercent Project, but it’s proved absolutely invaluable afterwards. None of my other series or projects had really stuck before this, but sitting down once a month, installing the games I planned to play the following month, and putting all the project posts onto a schedule has – mostly – kept me on track. I even started adding random post ideas that popped into my head, and adding things to the calendar after I’d already written them. I didn’t need to, of course – I could always look at the blog itself to see the posts I’d already made – but I liked the visual reminder of what I had accomplished.

Since I set my goals pretty high for #Blaugust2022, I decided to take it up a notch. What if, instead of just pre-planning my content, I started pre-writing it as well? I was already in the habit of scheduling posts; stuff that goes live in the morning tends to get more views than posts that go out when I tend to write in the evenings or at night. I gave myself a couple of dedicated blocks of time per week to work on posts, and thought I’d be very pleased to be 1-2 posts ahead at any given time.

A snapshot of my scheduled posts from August 7th, 2022.

It worked out better than I ever imagined. For the majority of the month, I’ve had somewhere between 5 and 7 posts scheduled at any given time, with usually one or two in progress in my drafts. Because I was working so far ahead, I didn’t feel rushed or pressured into playing games when I wasn’t in the mood, which I credit with both improving my enjoyment of and disposition towards my project games this month. Being ahead motivated me to stay ahead, and this was – without question – my easiest #Blaugust yet.

While what I learned about being prepared might be a good lesson for anyone, the other thing I learned this year is more personal. That is: the posts I write that are – in one way or another – very personal to me, are about 1000 times harder to write than any post I write about games, crafts, or anything else. The time spent actually writing is significantly longer, I do a ridiculous amount of editing and revision, and I find the whole thing emotionally exhausting.

I mean, sure, there’s some me in every post I make – as soon as you voice an opinion, you’re revealing something about yourself. But all of my life, I’ve been drawn to things that make me feel included without making me feel like the center of attention. I never auditioned for main roles, content to hang out in the chorus or, even better, behind the stage. I’d volunteer to photograph events so I wouldn’t have to be in the pictures. With very few exceptions, I’ve lived my life in a way that it was easy for me to be acknowledged, without every feeling like I was been seen.

I’m not 100% clear on where I am going with this, except to say, I plan to (mostly) continue as I have been, and as far as this blog is concerned, personal posts will continue to be the exception, and not the norm. I know this potentially diminishes my reach – after all, if I’m not giving you any compelling reason to come back for the person behind the keyboard, you might as well just read anyone else’s discourse on gaming and nerd stuff as mine. I can respect the desire to inject yourself into your work, and I do read quite a few blogs that are at least part personal journals, but it’s not what I want to be putting out into the world at this point in my life.