It is half past two, and I am on a coach heading away from London. It is half past two, and I will be on a coach heading to Glasgow until ten to eight.
Every other bugger but me has put out their light, put down their head and gone to, if not sleep, at least some sort of waking delirium. I am a little island of white. I am a crystal jellyfish in an ocean of cut-price public transport. I have four hearts in my pocket and I am very, very happy.
Plastic hearts, I should stress. This was neither the aftermath of Aztecan revelry, nor an ill-considered metaphor for my feminine wiles – especially not the latter; I look like God ran out of faces and had to make do. No, these are cute little pixel hearts printed on cute little plastic rectangles, and they stand as testament to how bad Grant Howitt is at Rock, Paper Scissors.
I love you, Grant Howitt. I love you and your drunken lack of pattern recognition.
The only game which ever taught me anything was a real classic. Old-school graphics, retro platform, only one real mechanic to speak of: walk through a glass maze, try not to get bruises.
An indeterminate age. Something-teen. More than four, less than seven. I’d be specific, but my retroactive timestamping reference points – Lord of the Rings films, one Tuesday afternoon, which sibling had cut off which parent – stop working after fourteen. Remove the impossible. Spin the wheel.
-fifteen, it was October, and the Taro Fair was in town.
It was an old-fashioned thing that rolled up once a year and spread itself out across the Heath, spilling stalls and games and rides onto damp grass. In Autumn, it would have been a charming small-town tradition. In Winter, it was a charming small-town flu generator.
And by nights, I mean months.
God, I have just completely ignored this thing, haven’t I?
There’s two reasons. 1: Life fell over on my head a bit – unlike the other two on here, who are just lazy bastards1 – and 2: I was doing some writing stuff for BT, and completely forgot that I had a blog.
It’s not much of an excuse. It wasn’t even much writing. But it’s my excuse and I’m clinging like a barnacle. If you want to see the stuff I wrote, there’s links below the cut. Frivolous (but what’s wrong with frivolity?) stuff, for the most part, but I do still quite like the review of Thief 4.
The Rock, Paper, Shotgun community is terrifyingly hostile to women and there’s nothing RPS can do to fix it.
Yeah, we’re gonna start this on a downer and work our way up. There’s a light at the end of this. Well, thoughts about a light, at least. There’s visualisations of a desk lamp at the end of this.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fuck out of RPS. It’s the only gaming site I visit regularly. When I see one of their contributors elsewhere, I perk up a bit and check out the piece. But you can’t say their vocal reader base is…without its issues.
In the comments for yesterday’s Blizzard interview, a cool dude calling himself Wulf summed the problem up nicely:
This is why you don’t get many women posting on sites like this. Even if some of the articles are supportive, the comments are anywhere between misogynistic and sociopathic.
But don’t be surprised if there are women out there who talk in places you don’t visit in rather disappointed tones about you. Exactly you. Shaking their head, at you, because they can’t help but see you as a little bit sad.
GTA V is a casual game because it is played by casual gamers. It is also played by guys who keep the fridge by the sofa and piss into empty bottles to avoid putting down the controller, and a whole bunch of people inbetween.
But the biggest market, the ones who are going to really be driving the sales, are people who like to play something brainless when there’s nothing good on and the pub seems too far away.
Like my neighbour: a gym bunny who plays local league footie and only turns on the Xbox when both those pursuits are off. Or if the salmon fishing has been cancelled this weekend. And he will be playing GTA V, because he chooses games by walking into GAME and walking out with whatever looks brainless and shooty. His current way of wiling away the half-hours is Sniper Elite V2.
Fallen London is a lousy sandwich.
For years I resisted playing it, knowing from the barest descriptions that this game would hook me like cocaine. But last night, in a moment of weakness, I gave in, hid my wallet, and signed up.
It’s…not been the addictive marathon I was dreading.
I understand the theory1 behind the dragged-out, drip-fed mechanics: to stop players from gorging themselves sick. To show them this perfect sandwich, where the bacon is just the right side of crunchy and the lettuce is crisp and the tomatoes, oh, the tomatoes, and to allow them one scrumptious, savoury bite and then to take it away. The anticipation will make the bread softer, the mayonnaise…marginally less disgusting, and the whole experience will just be one of delicately delayed bliss.
It starts off as comically bad and ends as some kind of punishment from god. He has looked upon gaming and he has seen our endless parade of FPSs, our fetishisation of macho caricatures, and he has delivered this unto us. Look upon his judgement, mortals, and weep for your salvation.
This is Command & Conquer: Renegade, and it slew Westwood Studios just as it has slain your belief in a just and decent world.
Back in 2002, Westwood Studios were riding high. Their little strategy game had blossomed into a megahit with a star sequel, and a veritable chorus of voices were crying out for an FPS set in the universe. Sadly, every single soprano, tenor and baritone came from a studio executive, because this game fucking bombed.
Why does Thief Mk2 need to be a reboot? Because industrialisation, bitches.
Despite the previous games’ themes of magic vs. technology, there hasn’t been any room for technology vs. artisans. Cogs and levers are too integrated into the setting; you might as well do The People of London vs. Indoor Plumbing. Yes, we haven’t seen any evidence of, say, widespread machine weaving but they can sort out a functional artificial eye, I think they could knock together a clockwork loom.
There is, technically, space for it in the current incarnation of Thief, but you’re gonna need a shoehorn and a mallet to get it in there. In fact, you’re going to need that combo to fit anything into current Thief canon. That timeline’s fuller than Arkham graveyard after a full moon.
Celtic Kings styles itself as ‘[a] great mixture of two genres – adventure and real-time strategy [with] beautifully stylized 2D graphics [and] an inspiring storyline set during the Gallic Wars’. Nowhere in that list does it say ‘the most prolonged escort mission since Callgirls 3: Banker’s Bonus’.
I’ve seen less blatant padding in a drag queen’s bra. The devs were all about two things: putting vital locations on opposite map corners, and druids. Druid is another word for speed trap.
Singles 2: Triple Trouble turned me into a Pickup Artist.
I was clicking away, trying to persuade the fella I was courting to allow me further than a kiss on the cheek. What’s the problem? I thought. Do I need to give him more presents before he’ll give up the goods? Is he holding out until I get a better sofa? I’ll tell him how pretty he is again.