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2022 New Year's Resolutions

If you asked friends and family to describe me, if they were feeling kind they may say pragmatic, but if they were feeling particularly truthful they'd probably say pessimistic. So it is shocking to see how optimistic I was when making my 2021 New Year's Resolutions, essentially assuming we were going to pass the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oh how wrong I was.

Well I am not going to make the same "mistake" this year. I've carried over the criteria I used for my 2021 resolutions, with one major addition to the top of the list:

  1. The ability to travel and participate in activities will be the same or worst than 2021. Plan accordingly.
  2. The resolution cannot be failed before the end of the year.
  3. The resolution can be realistically achieved in a single year.
  4. The resolution will receive the necessary time and effort to see it through to fruition.
  5. The resolution should have concrete completion requirements. Use metrics sparingly as they typically lead to failable resolutions.
  6. The resolution should facilitate a proactive behaviour, not attempt to correct a negative one.

Now that we've set some realistic expectations for how the year is going to play out, let's create some 2022 resolutions shall we?

1. Beat Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI has been at the top of my pile of shame for more than two decades now and the time has finally come to right that wrong. I vow to beat Final Fantasy VI in 2022.

A "pixel remaster" is coming to Steam in February so the current plans are to stream my entire playthrough on Twitch. However, we do not know how faithful this pixel remaster is so I am probably going to wait until some comparisons are done to ensure the true spirit of Final Fantasy VI is maintained. If that is not the case then I will most likely emulate it using my MiSTer. That will require a bit more work to be able to stream it but I really do love the idea of having a 30+ hour recording of my first time through this game.

2. Take chess lessons

I have a very love-hate relationship with chess but I do want to continue to push myself to improve throughout 2022. To do that I need to have a concrete goal.

My 2021 resolution of "Play 365 rapid games on Chess.com" did not work as I had intended. I learned so much more watching YouTube videos versus playing chess. Of course I needed to put this theoretical knowledge to work by actually playing games but preparing for a game seemed to be more important. I'm not confident that if I forced myself to play a thousand more games of chess I would actually get better.

My gut reaction was to make this resolution revolve around learning more chess openings. Force myself to play a hundred games with the Ruy Lopez or Italian Game. This would undeniably make me a stronger chess player but the opening is only one phase of the game. I still haven't done anything to improve my play in the middlegame or endgame. Maybe I could resolve to do all of Chess.com's lessons or complete 2000 unique puzzles?

Suddenly a question hit me. Why am I trying to do this by myself? When I was a child trying to learn soccer or karate or guitar, I had someone more skilled than I teach me what to do. For Christ's sake, I am a computer programmer. Sure, sitting in a dark room coding for 12 straight hours is super fun but I've learned the most when I was arguing with colleagues about implementation details. Even after more than a dozen years there are still blind spots to my programming. Why am I acting like I have no blind spots when it comes to chess?

So for 2022 my resolution is to take chess lessons. I have absolutely no idea how I am going to find a teacher or how the lessons will be conducted but I just want someone to critique my technique.

3. Play 12 games on Apple Arcade

In 2020 I resolved to play at least 24 video games because I was concerned at how short and homogenous my #GamesOfTheYear articles were. I played 42 video games that year but the majority of them would still be considered very mainstream.

In 2021 I resolved to play at least 24 video games on subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade. The idea was that these services would be comprised of games outside of the mainstream. Indie or AA games that perhaps couldn't find an audience or were just getting on in age. I played 24 video games on subscription services that year but a large portion of them would still be considered mainstream. Xbox Game Pass is comprised of incredibly high quality AAA games. Microsoft has really gone all out to become the Netflix of this space.

Across both of those years I played a shockingly small number of mobile games considering how thriving that space is. So for 2022 I'm going to direct this resolution towards Apple Arcade and set a goal of playing 12 games. I think I will start with Fantasian and Kingdom Rush Frontiers TD+ and hopefully as the year progresses we'll get some cool new releases. Worst case scenario I can confirm for myself that Apple Arcade is indeed dying.

4. Spend 10 nights in a hotel

Even if Ontario is going to be locked down for six months of the year. Even if flying out of Canada is essentially a pipe dream unless you're OK with getting COVID-19 in another country. Even if finding a cat sitter is nearly impossible because I don't want randos coming into your home. I absolutely, positively must vacation somewhere in 2022.

Last year I was waxing poetically about how I would go to Sweden for the International, Germany for Oktoberfest, Singapore for a Formula 1 Grand Prix. This year I'll be happy if I can drive 90 minutes and stay overnight in Niagara Falls. The hell with Whistler, I'll be content if I can make it to Blue Mountain. I may not be able to fly out to Banff but I'd settle on a drive up to Muskoka.

5. Program something that is visible to the public

I know I've made this resolution before but it's time to nut up or shut up. Either I enjoy programming or I don't. I can't keep lying to myself pretending that X or Y or Z is the reason why I haven't built something since Find my Gamers. I've essentially been cooped up inside for 22 months now. If this isn't the perfect time to build something I don't know when is.

The goal of this resolution is not to force me to ship something to the App Store or publish a v1 to GitHub. I just want something that I can write a blog post about or even just proudly post about on Twitter. To showcase that outside of what is demanded of me at a 9-5 job, I still can program.

Below is a quick list I've thrown together of stuff that could be built.

6. Read 20 books

Every year I take part in Goodreads Reading Challenge and since it is essentially a resolution I see no reason not to always add it as my final one in these articles.

Last year I set the ambitious goal of reading both The Wheel of Time and The Witcher. This blew up in my face because I ended up hating them and abandoned both series.

This year I am going to focus on individual books that I am interested in and if they just so happen to be part of a series, maybe I'll continue reading more. I would also like to expand my palette and consume more non-fiction books. As enjoyable as science-fiction and fantasy are, I should probably learn more about the world I live in rather than constantly try to escape it.

After scouring my "Want to Read" shelf, I came up with a list of eight novels to start off the 2022 reading season:

  1. Warbreaker
  2. Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time
  3. The Gunslinger
  4. The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East
  5. Us Against You
  6. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  7. Stay Awhile and Listen: Book II - Heaven, Hell, and Secret Cow Levels
  8. Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan