It's the game that stole everything... except our hearts...
HO HO HO! Enjoy a bursting Christmas stocking of weird and wonderful old games.
Being a book that isn't afraid of saying what it's about...
Speaking as something of a crap game connoisseur and obscure dumpster diver myself, there’s something inherently enjoyable about bad things… especially when someone else is on hand to do all the actual hard-work and supply witty commentary. I’ve always liked Stuart Ashens for that, at least in part because he typically rides a good line between scathing takedown and actual fondness. Bad games or POP Stations or whatever aren’t treated as the worst things to be inflicted on the world since the Macarena, but interesting cultural artifacts worth both plucking from obscurity and a good finger-wagging. Take for instance this old review of Street Fighter clone Human Killing Machine, or the Quickest Game Over videos featuring a truly stunning death from the Speccy version of Grange Hill. A valuable lesson for kids everywhere.
Now of course, his piddling million or so followers is no match for my own A-List YouTube fame, but when he announced he was crowdsourcing a book about terrible old games – yep, that was a project I was happy to throw some money towards. And then leave sitting on my shelf for about a month because this time of the year is a fricking nightmare. But this weekend, finally, I got around to reading it. And writing these words…
Solving the world's issues, one reindeer at a time.
So, this was fun. Just finished a guest spot on Open Crowd Source, the Back Seat Designers YouTube sensation where we try to create an adventure game from random elements in 30 minutes or less. It’s a game. It’s a show. But it’s not a gameshow, because there’s no prizes. I think that’s how it works.
The Crimson Beast of Winter stirs in your hold...
Merry Sacksmas! My latest Sunless Sea story just went live – a special, free quest to celebrate the season (though it’ll still be available afterwards). Mr Sacks has come to town, and he needs your help. Every year he shows up to take the people of London’s sacrifices. You will help him deliver the unwanted ones far from the reach of the Bazaar, and prove that when the ammonia snow falls, it is indeed better to give than to receive. And there’s a bit more to it than that, but I won’t spoil it. Suffice it to say that in the Neath, many a good deed goes unrewarded… but that only makes the moments of compassion all the more important.
I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out. Hope everyone likes it. Not to be unseemly, but I’m still so happy to have been part of this game and to have had the chance to leave a few marks on it. It’s such a wonderful world to spend time in, and I’m thrilled that it’s currently getting its due in Best Of lists. Not to mention a nomination for the Writers Guild of Great Britain’s gaming category, alongside Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, which I haven’t played (though only for want of a PS4), and Sam Barlow’s awesome Her Story. Would not mind losing to either, though obviously hope Sunless gets the nod. I do really like that all three are indie titles though, where actual writing took priority over flashy marketing. Not always the case!
(Also, secretly, I can’t say that I mind that when people comment in reviews “Well, YOU make a better game!”, I can tell them “Sunless Sea, baby!”, drop the mic, and walk off while We Are The Champions plays at high volume. Okay, so it’s scraps of a bigger team effort, but… sssh! Don’t spoil a good retort…)
Next year of course we’ll be seeing the expansion pack, Zubmariner, which explores the even darker world beneath the waves. Really looking forward to sinking my teeth into that one, if they’ll have me. Quite a lot of game writing and design on the slate for next year actually, which is cool. More on that in 2016 though.
Finally, System Shock returns! I humbly request the chance to stick my bloody oar into things.
After many, many long years, we’re finally getting System Shock 3? I am, to put it mildly, ‘a little excited’. System Shock for me is one of those gamer-defining games, with SHODAN one of the PC’s greatest ever villains. While we don’t really know anything about the sequel except this teaser page, I can’t wait to tangle once again with the digital goddess who can do anything except fix her own speech impediment.
The only downside is that out of sheer personal pique, I just know I’ll never be able to fully enjoy it, knowing that other people had the honour of making it. “I hate all of them!” I hiss. “Especially any particularly lovely ones!” But… hmm. Since I’ve scored around 15 years of professional writing experience under my belt since System Shock 2 came along, just maybe I now have the clout to throw my hat into the ring? Maybe?
Let’s find out. Here’s some sample audio logs. Consider them an audition.
It's beginning to look a lot like widescreen.
So, things are looking different! Over the weekend, I was taken with the urge to just make something, and a new site was a top contender. Lots of things were annoying me, from the small text size to how fiddly it was to do something as simple as write a new post, so I thought I’d just hit the reset button.
And so here we are – a website designed to take advantage of bigger screens, as well as not be quite such a hideous spaghetti pile of CSS. More practically, I wanted to get things ready for a big push of new Patreon powered content in the new year, and to generally be a bit nicer to use. You’ll see a couple of those things now, including a dedicated Suggestions Box where Patreons can suggest specific games, features or other bits and pieces. Can everyone else, by e-mail or comment? Of course! But I’ll be taking particular note of what Patreons want in 2016, for obvious reasons. Video, articles, streams… all that good stuff.
Needless to say, there’s still a few things to sort out and a few bugs to fix. The further back into the archives you go, the messier things get, since a lot of old posts have to be fixed up or tweaked a bit or videos made bigger. That’ll be done, but bit by bit – I didn’t want to leave the whole site down just because the write-up of an old game looks a little wonky. As ever though, do let me know if you see anything broken or weird on your system so that I can fix it, and… yeah. CSS! Web design! Woo!
I really need to sleep now. New content coming real soon.