For the Unlimited Hyperbole Christmas Special I invited you to tell me what you’d change about the games industry – but there was one response I didn’t include. It asked me what I think of the way games journalists are paid and I promised just to reply to it later.
This is a topic that’s close to my heart, so prepare for the answer to be quite aggressive…
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My excavation of the Dolph Briscoe Archive and Warren Spector’s personal effects continues and, as usual, Eurogamer is publishing the results. This time it’s a collection of rejected pitches and unmade games which Spector’s group was working on at Origin Systems, of Wing Commander and Ultima fame.
“There were lots of game ideas that came out of my group at Origin,” offers Spector. “Arthurian Legends, Transland, PassTimes, Operator…They never went anywhere… [but] we were all coming up with ideas left and right.”
This was one of the quickest Deleted Scenes articles to pull together, because there were so few identifiable people I could chase down. Only one pitch had a name on it and two decades have faded the details for all the Origin staff I could raise. I spoke to everyone from Creative Directors to Tech Support, but the fogginess was sadly pervasive.
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This Christmas I’ve bought Unlimited Hyperbole back for a special episode, during which I threw the microphone into the crowd and asked you, the listeners, to send in submissions telling me the answer to one question.
If you could change one thing about your involvement with games, what would it be?
I was astonished by the responses which came back and I’ve presented them all here as straightforwardly as I can, with as little droning and editing from me as possible. Settle in for a longer, rougher and more optimistic episode of Unlimited Hyperbole than ever before, with submissions from the following delightful people and a download mirror provided by Split Screen…
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I wrote an article about the deleted scenes of Deus Ex 3 and the closure of Ion Storm Austin. It took a long, long time to research all this and write about it, so I don’t have much more to say about it. Here’s a quote from Jordan Thomas.
“There’s a reason the place closed and it was chiefly hubris. There are many people who will tell you that the publisher f***ed us but, no. No. The method failed. Making a smaller, more intimate Deus Ex was on nobodies mind. Including mine.”
One thing that didn’t appear in the finished article is an interview I did with James Swallow. He suggested I Kickstart a book about the making of Deus Ex. Is that a thing people would be interested in? I dunno.
Last week Jason Dewey interviewed me for a new video series he’s doing called Press X to Speak. I talked about what I like about games, what I hate about them and what my biggest professional regrets are. This teaser clip features me talking about The Secret of Monkey Island and why I enjoy co-operative singleplayer more than just straight multiplayer. Watch it, do.
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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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.