Forging Ahead

Six years ago today, Gold-Plated Games came into existence as a curation page in the twisting depths of Steam. It’s a story I’ve told many times, and it would be an absurd understatement to say a lot has changed since then. Hell, we’ve come a long way from the somber, introspective anniversary of 2020. And as we push ahead into the wilds of 2022, a lot more is going to change, particularly regarding our Twitch channel. But before getting to that, let’s take a moment to look back on the outgoing year and what happened around here during these trying times.

The Return

As far as this website goes, that’s certainly the biggest news that broke. After entering 2021 on hiatus from reviewing, I finally got back in the saddle in September with a look at what turned out to be one of my favorite games of the year, The Ascent. So far, I’ve logged seventeen new reviews, including big names like No Man’s Sky, indie darlings like Chicory and Unpacking, super obscure gems like Coffin Mall, and even some DLC for my beloved Titan Quest. I’ve been aiming for one review a week, every Friday, but I can’t quite nail down as consistent a rhythm as I used to in my heyday. Still, I’m happy if I can average one a week, and I’ve managed to double or even triple up during holidays.

Reviews should continue in this rough cadence indefinitely, I’ve definitely gotten the taste for writing them back, even if my schedule doesn’t always allow for them when I’d like. There may even be a chance for some branching out in new directions, as I did release a review for a recent NES ROMhack called Amida’s Curse. As our streams grow and evolve, so too might I find new opportunities for reviews or written features in their wake. I don’t know what exactly the future may hold here, but I’ll always be looking for our next big thing.

Playing with Power

My hiatus from reviews allowed me to focus fully on streaming and our community, and our Twitch channel has grown quite a bit as a result. Back in June, I introduced a new kind of stream dubbed The Power Hours, something that I had been wanting to do since the earliest years of the channel. During these streams, we skim through old issues of Nintendo Power from the 80s and 90s, and viewers request games for us to revisit. These have quickly become some of my favorite streams ever, mixing the casual chatting I thrive on with explorations of classic games and hidden gems. It’s been a tough balance to work these in with the other streams I enjoy so much, but with the recent schedule change, we’ve settled on every Saturday night being set aside for The Power Hours.

That recent schedule change is another big shift in a long line of big shifts, starting back in May when chill streams were put to rest. For the longest time, I was set on mixing up our stream nights for maximum variety, doing something different every night to help ensure everyone had something to look forward to every week. But from this year I really started to tire of this system, and over time I’ve been gravitating more towards simpler, more consistent schedules. We’ve gone from roughly three games at once and a variety night every week, to one game at a time, played Monday to Thursday, with Indie Variety Night every Friday and The Power Hours every Saturday. Fortunately this was not as controversial a shift as I feared, and keeping streams more focused has already made streaming a less tricky affair for me.

A Focused Approach

Shuffling the schedule is far from the only change I’m looking to make to our channel. I’ve been thinking for several months on a number of topics regarding streaming, and today I’m ready to talk about a big one. For years now, Gold-Plated Games on Twitch has had two major focuses: indie games, and retro games. Our schedule before this most recent one was about an even split between the two, in fact. But it turns out that variety isn’t really rewarded on Twitch. It’s no secret that the biggest channels are usually focused on a single genre, or often even a single game. From an entertainment perspective it makes sense, because most people don’t want to tune into the same show every night to see wildly different things. There are exceptions, of course, but the rule seems to be that the more specialized and consistent your channel is, the easier it is to build a following.

So this has left me with two questions, the big questions that I hope to answer sometime in 2022. The first is one that really only I can answer for myself, and that is: do I want to specialize further? Honestly, I love everything I do on streams. I love Indie Variety Nights, I love The Power Hours, I love playing old NES and PC games, and I love playing through weird new indie titles and game jams. I need to decide if the potential for growth is worth cutting back on indie or retro streams, and that’s not a decision I’m ready to make. The other question is the one that I need the community’s help with, and that’s if I decide to specialize, which way do I go? Do folks prefer our indie nights, or our retro nights? This is a conversation that will start from today, and probably last for several months, so I’m in no rush to make any declarations for those concerned.

Changes are inevitable. As long as I’m willing to make changes, the potential for Gold-Plated Games is endless. And I change over time as well, as my interests and goals shift. We’ll have a lot more to talk about over the coming year, and our channel may look completely different by the time we return here for the 2022 anniversary post. What’s important is that I can have these discussions and make these changes along with the community we’ve built, and as long as I can do that, I will have no fear of change.

The One Constant

As always, the one thing I can always count on is that you’re here. “You” might be someone that’s been reading my reviews from the start, or you might be someone who found our streams only a few weeks ago. But there’s always someone here to share this journey with, this very literal journey that began with random reviews scrawled on the boards of SomethingAwful and has become a vibrant, inclusive community of gamers, streamers, artists, writers, and friends. I will continue to grow and change and work towards something better, because I know I’ve got you by my side, whoever you might be.

Thanks for your time, and for stopping by even for a bit. You’ve always been what makes this worth doing, and you always will be.

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