Site icon Later Levels

Save Point: December 2022

Atari, computer, PC, monitor, floppy disk
Phantom Peak, Wintermas, Pete, Kim

2022 is fast coming to an end and the new year is almost upon us.

I’ve found it difficult to feel festive this year. Several of the seasonal events we usually go to were cancelled due to the cost-of-living crisis here in the UK so there wasn’t so much of a build-up of excitement, and part of me didn’t really believe we’d finally get to have a Christmas.

Let me explain. We don’t often see my stepson on the actual day due to us being a split-parent family and this only happens if the date falls on a weekend. Christmas was cancelled for everyone in December 2019 when the country was in lockdown, the same situation happened again for Essex in December 2020, and it was stopped once more last year when a test revealed that the kid had COVID-19.

After not seeing him on the day since December 2016 and then having the event cancelled for the last three years, our families were incredibly cautious this time around. Nobody wanted to get over-excited or plan too much just in case we had the rug pulled out from under our feet again. But I’m pleased to report that we got to have our Christmas last weekend and there was plenty of fun, games and laughter.

We played Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy with my three-year old nephew in what was one of his first video-game-experiences, and he turned out to be pretty good at it. And we spent three hours in Zombicide missions with my mother- and brother-in-law, who were surprised at how much they enjoyed it. Pete unfortunately came down with a bug a few days later (maybe he should have taken one of these video game medicines), but finally got to spend Christmas with his son and managed to eat plenty of roast potatoes.

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Video games: ESO Plus subscription
Hollywood Presents (physical version)
Interrogation Simulator
Late Shift
Placid Plastic Duck Simulator and DLC
Time Loop: Sink Again Beach
Escape rooms and experiences: The Detective Society: The Cursed Exhibition, episode six

Game of the month

When Placid Plastic Duck Simulator by turbolento games appeared in my Steam discovery queue recently, I was intrigued. Watching a short gameplay video then convinced me to buy it because it seemed like the most chilled title I’ve seen in a long time. While it obviously wasn’t Pete’s cup of tea, I loved it: it was the perfect game to pick for our first stream in over 12 months as gave us a chance to chat to old friends while waiting for new ducks to arrive. I’ve still got more than half the collection to pick up yet so there may be another stream soon.

Event of the month

Despite the train strikes and freezing temperatures, we made our way into London at the beginning of December and had another fantastic night at Phantom Peak for the Wintermas edition. I’m very happy to hear the organisers have managed to secure a new lease for the next two years so you can guarantee Pete and I will be back for more open-world adventures in 2023. My guess is that the next chapter will take place in February and perhaps we’ll see a celebration of romance in this steampunk town for Valentine’s Day.

Photo of the month

We had the pleasure of spending a weekend in a countryside cottage with friends-of-the-blog Tim, Jake and Phil this month, and one of our evenings was filled with playing augmented-reality (AR) escape room Amelia’s Secret. The experience itself lacked challenge but was worth playing for the severed hand in the tutorial. The box advises the game is suitable for people aged 12 and above – but those fingers looked like they were doing something unsuitable for kids, which we found absolutely hilarious in our tipsy state after a few drinks.

Plans for next month

As mentioned above, Pete and I returned to the Later Levels’ Twitch channel after more than a year away, deciding to go live with an impromptu stream. We’re trying to get back into the swing of things so we’re ready for GameBlast’s tenth anniversary in February and can raise as much awareness for SpecialEffect as possible. Check out this post to find out what we’ve got planned this time around, and keep an eye out for an update towards the end of January where we’ll be announcing the games on the schedule.

We’re planning to stream more regularly over the next couple of months to get in some practice. After picking up a Commodore 64 in November, a few retro games will make an appearance. I’d love to finally get the code running for The Island of Secrets as I never managed to do this as a young child, and it was this RPG which got me into gaming alongside The Secret of Monkey Island. I also managed to find the Hollywood Presents pack of games recently so expect to see some classics from the 1980s.

Outside of gaming, I need to buckle down with learning Python for my Data Fellowship apprenticeship. I must be ready for the next hackathon in February and I’ll admit I haven’t done as much studying as I probably should have over the Christmas break. My next article for the company’s blog is due to be published next week, and I’ve also been invited to speak as part of a panel on data apprenticeships in mid-January. I’m kind of scared but know I need to take these opportunities when they present themselves.

Now over to you guys: what have you been up to lately, and what have you got planned for the coming month? I hope you’d had a lovely Christmas and enjoy the last few days of 2022!

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