The Year in Review…

All the games I've played

February was even more of a celebration than usual this year. Not only did I celebrate my birthday, a Valentine’s Day and a six month anniversary, but I also celebrated a full year in my new job.

That means it’s been one full year since I declared with painful melodrama that I was leaving games journalism. I’ve actually ended up keeping one foot in the field slightly, but aside from trademark Twitter ranting my output has been very low.

It’s made me wonder how many games I’ve played in my first year without being paid to play – and if there’s any lessons to be learned from looking at the amount of time I’ve spent playing them. So, I pulled a list together. Here’s a year of non-journo gaming, in chronological order…

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Sleepgaming and Yo…

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The way I play games has changed a lot over the last decade. Much of it is what you’d expect from a maturing – or aging – gamer. I don’t have as much free time now, for example, so I tend to prefer shorter games than I did before. Or ones which value my downtime as highly as I do, at any rate.

Generally speaking, these changes have been for the best. I play a wider variety of games now than I used to and I’ve become more selective about what I’ll sink my time in to. Gone are the days of completing every Tony Hawk challenge just to unlock all the skaters.

There’s one change I’m less keen on though; one which I have to fight against constantly. I call it sleepgaming and I think it’s a growing problem for many seasoned gamers.

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Time and Memory…

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This year I left games journalism behind to start a new career, but despite that I still write the occasional article. The latest was for Alan Williamson, who asked me to contribute to a special charity issue of his digital magazine, Five Out Of Ten.

Alan gave me total creative freedom, so I decided to write something really pretentious. For a change. It’s about my evolving attitude to games in both a personal and professional sense and the sacrifices that come from following your dreams too fully. It opens with the review event where I realised I wanted to leave full-time games journalism behind…

The longer we prattle on, the emptier the hyperbole becomes. Dishonored is great, but the more we speak the less certain I am we’ve got anything to say… I remember Braid for the ninetieth time in a hundred games: another title we loved before we understood.

It’s probably an article that’s very typical of me, but Five Out Of Ten is still worth picking up despite that. I play second fiddle to the likes of Dan Grilopoulos, Christian Donlan, Helen Lewis, Maddy Myers and Leigh Alexander, so there’s plenty of actually good stuff to read. And Alan wrote something too.

Five Out Of Ten is available on a Pay-What-You-Want basis and all the proceeds go to the Special Effect videogames charity, so do some good this Christmas and grab a copy now

Preliminal Games…

Preliminal Games

I always have projects on the go. Sometimes they’re little apps or ebooks; other times they’re podcasts or drunken jokes that get out of hand. Some are secret, some aren’t. Now, one that was secret is ready not to be. A bit.

It’s a game. A big, proper one. I’ve been working on it for about a year and the reason I can talk about it now is that our studio just joined TIGA. That’s how serious we are. There was a press release and everything.

The release doesn’t give much detail on the game and I’ll follow suit, but I can say it’s a locational game based on some new technology we’ve built. I can also say that I’m Lead Writer on the project, that it’s all tremendously exciting and that if you want to know more then you shoud follow Preliminal on Facebook and Twitter.

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A Steam Swap Story…

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Steam Trading Cards. When Valve introduced them, my first reaction was to cringe. It seemed a crass new direction for the store and the notion of turning game-playing into a wider card grind was one I didn’t want anything to do with. I sold the first cards I got out of curiosity, made 20p, then quickly lost interest. This wasn’t for me.

Until earlier this week, when Teleglitch was reduced to £2.25. I’d had Teleglitch on my wishlist for a while, but I was also trying to save money and couldn’t justify any expense. So, I set myself the challenge of raising the money in a single day, just through Steam Trading Cards.

After all, everyone’s read about the man who swapped his way from a paperclip to a house. This goal didn’t seem anywhere near that grand…

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Thief of Time…

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I can’t leave well enough alone. No sooner did I leave games journalism and cancel my podcast than I return to games writing by penning a piece for Rock Paper Shotgun.

The article in question, Stealing History: Dark Camelot and Thief, investigates Thief: The Dark Project and the two cancelled projects that preceded it – Better Red Than Undead and Dark Camelot. With help from the lovely Randy Smith I came up with unused art, early trailers, concept details and the stories from a whole bunch of the original team.

I really like writing these sorts of articles and I think it’s a shame there aren’t more of them. Preserving the stories and relics of an industry is an important role for most sector journalists – but the only writer I know who’s explored it lately is the awesome Rick Lane. Rick, who recently took over from me as Games Editor of Custom PC Magazine and Bit-tech, wrote a Eurogamer piece about Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines that’s well worth reading.

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Limited Hyperbole…

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Last year, I had an idea. Like most of my ideas it was borne out of frustration and dissatisfaction; it was arrogant and melodramatic and took itself too seriously. Eventually it became Unlimited Hyperbole, a podcast which is still best described in those three terms.

Now, after four seasons and twenty episodes, Unlimited Hyperbole is finished. I set myself the goal of being nominated for Best Podcast in the Games Media Awards and I said I’d stop if I didn’t make it. I didn’t, so the show’s over.

A few people have asked why I set that goal and why I’m stopping the show so suddenly. I figure I owe those people an explanation.

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