I look up

All my life, on a clear night, I look up. The vast, hypnotising beauty of eternity surrounds us; unmediated, glorious, silent. A tilt of my head pinions me helplessly on the spear of my curiosity, my meaning. I want to explore. Continue reading I look up

The Banner Saga

I was captivated by the gorgeous artwork when it first popped up in my Steam shop window.  A quick scan of some reviews was enough for me to buy it.  Then, as I’ve been rather busy, I shelved it until now.

After ten minutes I was utterly immersed.  The Banner Saga, by the Texas based studio Stoic, has that ineffable atmosphere you only get from a labour of love.  I can’t recommend it enough. Continue reading The Banner Saga

Abraham Lincoln, Jamie Carragher and me

I’m stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a post-apocalyptic ruin, watching a man called Hannibal slowly lead a handful of worn-out looking former slaves and a diseased, mutated Brahmin bull to the headless statue of the former president.  On the back of the bull are some supplies and the stone head of Abraham Lincoln, lashed together with rope. Continue reading Abraham Lincoln, Jamie Carragher and me

Richly blending achievements may cause loss of sleep!

Over the years I’ve been addicted to a number of games.  These include all the MMOs I’ve played, Championship Manager, Civilization, Elite, Just Cause 2 and Test Drive Unlimited.  And this was proper addiction, you know:

  • “Oh shit it’s 4am, oh man, not again.”
  • Five hundred calories a day on weekends (crisps, tea and chips)
  • Tips and strategy bookmark folders and printouts
  • Home made keyboard overlays
  • One game at a time, months at a time
  • Wife having second thoughts..

I’ve wondered what is common to these games that are in quite different genres yet cause such an immersive consumption of my time. Continue reading Richly blending achievements may cause loss of sleep!

Design your own difficulty – how LOTRO lost its soul

I’ve wondered for a while what the use of analytics in driving game design would mean for games.  There are clearly massive benefits.  But along the way I think there are casualties, particularly when it comes to the uniqueness of a vision a designer has for the experience they’ve created.  The only time I’ve articulated it was in relation to LOTRO, on their forum a while back.  I’ve edited that commentary below:

I spent a lot of time in Turbine’s version of Middle-Earth, The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), from the beginning onwards.  But, around the time the Enedwaith expansion landed, I found myself less and less engaged with the game.  I couldn’t articulate my concerns for a long time, until the developers released the Fornost Dev diary, outlining their re-imagining of the defining quest cluster for characters around the level 30-40 mark, via the grouping mechanic, the Instance Finder. Continue reading Design your own difficulty – how LOTRO lost its soul

Why Guild Wars was the best MMO

I never played World of Warcraft (WOW).

It could be a fatal caveat to the bag of opinions that follows, but, as Rushdie said of Don DeLillo’s magnum opus Underworld, WOW “fills the sky” where MMOs are concerned.  It must be acknowledged, a tip of the hat to the naked emperor from here onwards, as well as a stick to beat me with if I generalise incorrectly in what follows.  Check this out from Andy Gavin for a thorough look at WOW. Continue reading Why Guild Wars was the best MMO