Fairgrounds For Dismissal

'Taro Fair' by rednut on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

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.

I was-

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.

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Time to Dust Off the Ol’ Blog

And by nights I mean months.

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.

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Between a Rock, Paper, Shotgun and a Hard Place

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.

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GTA V is a Casual Game

GTACasual

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.

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Fallen London is a Lousy Sandwich

'BLT Sandwich + Fries' by punctuated on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

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.

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Reject Review – Command & Conquer: Renegade

RRC&CRenegade

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.

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Why Thief 4 Needs to be a Reboot

ThiefWanted

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.

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Reject Review – Celtic Kings: Rage of War

RRCelticKings

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.

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Reject Review – Singles 2: Triple Trouble

RRSingles2

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.

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Reject Review – Might and Magic VI

RRM&MVIMight and Magic VI is a game composed entirely of fetch quests. You go on six fetch quests for the items required to unlock another four fetch quests which will, eventually, allow you access to a fetch quest. I’d love to see the planning room for this project:

“Okay, Steve, we need you to go and get an old lady’s groceries. Then, with the money she gives you, catch a bus to the home of a guy who delivers The Yellow Pages for a living. If you bring him a newspaper he will let you look through a spare copy for a freelance programmer. When you get to his house…”

And then, after procuring the wine, flowers, French Chef and Barry White CD needed to make the programmer’s girlfriend forgive him for forgetting to feed her goldfish, Steve sat down and wrote the game plot.

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