The State of Level Story, 2022
2022 was another slow year for Level Story. Since the start of 2021, I've struggled a lot with burnout and general creativity. It was because of this that Level Story was put on an indefinite hold. Taking a break was the best thing I could have done. After months away, I did a soft relaunch of the project in August 2022. Despite my months of planning ahead, unveiling the "new" Level Story proved to be much less polished than I had hoped due to a variety of external factors that would be too long and boring to address here. While it is easy for me to feel inadequate, I also take pride in the little I accomplished this year. Level Story didn't produce much, but I'm happy with what I was able to create.
2022 in Depth
In 2022 Level Story streamed twice, released a video essay, released a podcast episode, and guested on another podcast. Additionally, I also helped organize the Kingdom Hearts fan event, March Caprice.
The two streams happened fairly early in the year when I was platinuming Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. I achieved my final two trophies on stream which were "Unchanging Armor" (Clear the game without changing equipment) and "Undefeated" (Clear the game without using continue). Although I was playing on Beginner mode, these trophies became pretty challenging toward the end of the run.
I released the video essay "How I Fell in Love with Fire Emblem: Three Houses." I'd had the idea to write about my experience with this game for a long while but put off writing it because it felt like a silly concept. Who'd want to watch a video with me getting hyper specific about how I came to love this game? But I finally put pen to paper and am happy with the results. Writing this one was a lot of fun, and editing was meticulous but rewarding.
As has become tradition on the podcast, Sam (The Game Professor) and Red Angel joined me to talk about the games we played in 2021. Getting to hang out for 2ish hours discussing games with these two is always a treat and something I look forward to. Come for a chill conversation and games talk.
I was lucky enough to end the year discussing The Last of Us Part I with my good friend David from ZeroIndent. David and I seem destined to talk about The Last of Us for eternity…a fate that doesn't feel too bad since we both love the game so much. I didn't expect to have so much to say about this remake but we ended up talking for three hours.
Finally, I want to mention March Caprice. This Kingdom Hearts fan event focuses entirely on fan content creation - artwork, music, cosplay, fanfiction, music arrangements, video essays, montages, and more! All of this is put on display for one weekend at the end of March. I feel extremely lucky to be part of the organizers for this event that brings so much joy to the community. It is a lot of work on all our parts, but watching the weekend unfold with so much love and support makes it all worth it. This is not a Level Story event, but I include it in this list because it is something I spent a lot of time on and feel is important to note.
Goals for 2023 & Upcoming Projects
My goal for 2023 is to do more of what I did in 2022. It may have been a slow year, but it was a year moving in a new direction. 2022 was the year where I shifted Level Story from an entity to myself. Although this didn't unfold as intended, it is a step closer to what I envision for this project. My hope is to release content more regularly. This will probably take the form of video essays, but I also hope to podcast more and write more articles. As a general rule, I'm not in love with sharing everything that I plan to work on but below are a few upcoming projects you can look forward to…
Games We Played in 2022, Podcast
Planned, to be recorded in early January
March Caprice III, Event
Scheduled, March 24th - 26th, 2023
Fishing in Video Games, Video Essay
Another thing I want to accomplish in 2023 is completing Level Story's transition. There are a few things that this entails. I would like to finalize the new website, not only in style but in content. That means setting up all the necessary pages and posting all articles from the various writers who contributed to the magazine. I will be moving the magazine to a new host which is another project in itself. Additionally, I would like to update two issues of the magazine. Banjo-Kazooie was the subject of Level Story's first issue and was created before I had some help from folks who had a lot more experience with magazine creation. Remaking it to fit with the style that was established in the following issue for the sake of consistency is important to me. It will also make the issue nicer to look at. Don't get me wrong, I am proud of the first issue but there were a lot of design choices I made that came from a lack of experience. I would also like to create a "remastered" version of the sixth issue which focused on The Last of Us. This "remastered" issue will combine Issue 6 with the mini-mag on the DLC, Left Behind. It will also contain some new content that was planned for future issues that never got to see formal publication.
Finally, something I've wanted to do for a long while is stream more on Twitch. I really love the idea of streaming, but my old hardware left much to be desired. More often than not, my streams would include dropped frames and poor audio. Thankfully, I just got a new PC which should make streaming a heck of a lot cleaner. My goal is to stream the games that I plan to write about in the future. I would like to give more polish to the channel so this will involve a bit of work on the back end. My hope is to stream once a week and start sometime in January.
Recommendations from 2022
I don't have much to write in this section, but there are a few things I want to recommend.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask by Gabe Durham (Boss Fight Books) - A fantastic book recounting the development of Majora's Mask and in doing so, discussing the nature of creating a game and how fans interact with it. Durham is an excellent writer and this is yet another Boss Fight Book that doesn't disappoint.
- The Life is Strange Comic Series - I'm not a comic book person, nor am I a big fan of the ending of the original Life is Strange…but I really enjoyed these comics. Building off of the ending where Max chooses to save Chloe, the comics follow them after leaving Arcadia Bay. What began as mere curiosity on my part turned into genuine excitement about where the story was going. I enjoyed them so much that I want to see them adapted into another game. Pretty please, Square Enix?
- The Paleblood Hunt by Redgrave - An in-depth dive into the story and lore of FromSoftware's Bloodborne. You can read this or listen to it. I didn't know about the audio version but damn does it look incredible. I may read it again just to get that experience. I'd recommend this to any fan of Bloodborne.
- Need for Speedrunning Podcast - This podcast discusses various speedruns and it is equally informative as it is enjoyable. I highly recommend it.
- Trope Watchers Podcast - From Firewatch to Dark Souls - Challenging Notions of Accessibility in Gaming - I'm a fan of this podcast in general, but this episode in particular is extremely insightful and worth a listen.
Upcoming releases I'm excited about in 2023
I don't have much to write here, but there are a few upcoming releases and events that I'm excited about…spoilers, they all relate to speedrunning. Speedrunning fans are eating good this winter, let me tell ya.
- Running with Speed Documentary - This documentary narrated by the popular YouTuber Summoning Salt will focus on the speedrunning community, specifically in reference to the mega-successful Games Done Quick charity speedrunning events. It will be released on January 6th via Apple TV, Prime Video, Vudu, and Google Play. I love speedrunning AND Games Done Quick so I expect this to be a real treat to watch.
- Awesome Games Done Quick - As mentioned above, I love Games Done Quick. It feels so wholesome to have an event where people come together to support an important cause by playing video games. The event runs from January 8th to the 15th. You can view the schedule here.
- Frost Fatales - This is an all women's speedrunning event hosted by Games Done Quick shortly after AGDQ. It is so great to see women kick ass in a space that is dominated by dudes.
- ESA Winter - Another great speedrunning event, ESA Winter is being held from February 18th to the 25th.
I'm looking forward to what 2023 has in store. There is a lot on my plate, but I'm eager for the creative challenge. Level Story is continuing to get a fresh coat of paint and I hope you can be excited for what is to come.