The last blog post I made was about the things that disappointed me in 2013. But now it’s time to turn our frowns upside-down and look forward to the upcoming things in 2014 that might be great. Music, video games, new technologies – here are the 10 things I’m looking forward to most in 2014:
10. Us & Them
I find it difficult to get excited about TV these days. Nothing on the air seems fresh or original anymore. TV hasn’t had much success with rom-coms, though, so Us & Them at least promised to inject some variety into the primetime TV landscape. Alas, this was not to be. FOX has all but cancelled the show, planning to air only 7 episodes. They did this last year with The Goodwin Games, and NBC did this a few years ago with Bent. What is it with broadcast networks giving up on sweet, heartwarming comedies before they even air? I enjoyed both Bent and The Goodwin Games, and I suspect that I’ll enjoy Us & Them as well. If nothing else, I’ll watch it just to spite FOX and their idiotic scheduling decisions.
Here’s a trailer:
9. Cibo Matto’s Hotel Valentine
Set to release on Valentine’s Day, Hotel Valentine is Cibo Matto’s first batch of new material since 1999’s Stereo Type A. Their trippy, unclassifiable music has been in my regular rotation over the past few months, so I’m eager to hear what they’ve cooked up. Life feels incomplete without Miho Hatori rapping about ghosts and birthday cake.
Here’s the music video for first single “MFN”:
8. The slow death of traditional television
In 2013, Netflix debuted a bunch of new series, chief among them Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. They even had exclusive rights to show the long-awaited fourth season of Arrested Development. Meanwhile, Amazon, not content to let Netflix get all the web-TV glory, debuted two new series, Betas and Alpha House. What’s happening is clear: the traditional model of television, tightly controlled and set to air at specified times, is dying. People want content on demand, on their own schedules. Binge-watching is the new norm. With plans to air a slate of new Marvel-related series, Netflix is establishing itself as a leader in Internet television, leaving increasingly unwatched broadcast and cable networks in the dust. As someone who would rather deal with the Internet than with cable, this is incredibly exciting.
7. New music from Heavy English
Envy on the Coast’s disbandment in 2010 was a huge blow to the post-hardcore scene. Lead singer Ryan Hunter’s subsequent musical pursuits weren’t to my liking, and the other band members remained relatively silent following EotC’s end. But then former drummer Dan Gluszak and former guitarist Sal Bossio teamed up with Ari Sadowitz to form Heavy English, an act that draws on rock, blues, and pop to make a couple of the catchiest yet most complex earworms I’ve heard recently, “21 Flights” and “Feel Like Love.” They’ve promised a full-length in 2014, and I can’t wait to hear what they’ve been working on.
Here’s “21 Flights”:
And here’s “Feel Like Love”:
6. Broken Age
This is it. The first part of the most high-profile Kickstarter-funded game is set to come out in a few days (for backers) with the second and final part to follow a few months thereafter. If it succeeds, it will stand as proof of Kickstarter’s viability as a funding platform for mid-size developers. If it fails, it will be a sign that the traditional publisher/developer model of game funding is here to stay. Whatever happens, I’m eager to see the next wondrous creation from the twisted mind of Tim Schafer. The art style looks gorgeous, and the parallel-universe conceit seems like it will allow for a lot of interesting storytelling possibilities. Will Double Fine be able to deliver on this promise? We’ll know soon.
Here, have a trailer:
5. Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs’ release was originally supposed to coincide with the launch of last year’s new consoles, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, but it was pushed back to March of this year to allow for extra development and polishing time. Its failure to release on time was one of my greatest disappointments of last year, but no matter: come hell or high water, Watch Dogs will be in our hands in 2014.
What’s so exciting about Watch Dogs? I mean, it’s just another Grand Theft Auto clone, right? On some level, that’s certainly true, but let’s face it: GTA and its ilk are hella fun. More than that, though, Watch Dogs promises to be a very topical game, especially in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s huge domestic surveillance programme. In an era where all your data are digitized and easily readable, paranoia about hackers is at an all-time high. Watch Dogs looks like it will plunge players right into the moral quandary at the centre of these issues: to spy or not to spy?
Here’s some gameplay footage, courtesy of IGN:
4. Closure in Moscow’s Pink Lemonade
There’s no official release date for this album yet, which is kind of ridiculous, seeing as it was originally supposed to come out last year. (Get it together, CiM!) Still, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard of Pink Lemonade so far. The band seems to be heading in even more of a psychedelic direction, shedding their post-hardcore roots for something a little groovier. I’m down with that stylistic change. Bands need to evolve and mature, and Closure in Moscow seems to be doing it in the right direction.
Here’s the music video for first single, “The Church of the Technochrist”:
3. The Rest of The Wolf Among Us, Season 1
Must. Know. What. Happens. Next!
Telltale opted for a different approach with The Wolf Among Us than they used with their hyper-popular Walking Dead series. Rather than using the first episode for significant plot development, they used it as a springboard for world-building. The result was that Episode 1 of The Wolf Among Us, “Faith,” felt a lot like the pilot of a TV series. And like all great TV pilots, it made me excited not just for what happens next – though that’s important – but also for the range of storytelling possibilities that could exist within the series’ world. Not only do I want to know what’s next in Bigby’s investigation, I just want to spend more time soaking up the neon-drenched urban decay of Fabletown. That’s no small feat for a two-hour slice of gameplay to accomplish.
2. Touchscreens with pop-up buttons
I dislike touchsreens. Vehemently. I loathe them. They’re annoying, they get dirty easily, and most of the time, I can’t tell if I’ve pressed a damn button or not. They’re pretty much the sole reason why I’ve been reluctant to use a smart phone, despite the productivity boost it would undoubtedly bring to my life.
A California company might have the solution to my woes. Using some techno mumbo-jumbo known as “microfluidics,” Tactus Technology has developed a touchscreen with tiny buttons that pop up and can be pressed, giving users haptic feedback. There probably won’t be any devices with this technology released to consumers in 2014, but I’m sure there will be some announcements about partnerships with mobile phone makers in the coming months.
Here’s a brief interview about the technology:
1. A Hat in Time
I loooove 3D platformers. Always have. Always will. But there haven’t really been any good collect-a-thons released for PC since Double Fine’s Psychonauts, released back in 2005.
Finally, Gears for Breakfast’s upcoming A Hat in Time looks like it will satiate my hunger for 3D platformers. It had an insanely successful Kickstarter campaign, and an alpha build is coming out next month, with the final version of the game to come later this year. A charming throwback to the days of the N64, this looks like exactly the kind of game I need in my life.
Here’s some gameplay footage:
And here’s some more gameplay footage:
- Tales from the Borderlands
- New music from Brand New (The only reason this isn’t in the top 10 is because the band hasn’t confirmed this.)
- Murdered: Soul Suspect
- The Legend of Lobodestroyo vs. La Liga de los Villanos
- It’s the ’90s all over again: new music from The Tea Party, that dog., and Veruca Salt!
It looks like there’s a lot of great stuff coming up in 2014. Let’s hope all of it is as good as it looks!