August Ordeals…

August was a spectacularly busy month, but it was also a rewarding one. It saw me realising a lot of the goals I’d set for myself at the start of the year, such as attending a foreign show as a freelancer and releasing a game. I also met several heroes of mine, got published on another big site and made my Kindle debut.

August was also the month that I ate zebra, alligator, kangaroo and barracuda all in the same bowl.

And that’s just the start too, as a lot of the projects I started or worked on this month are part of larger projects which will trickle into the future. I wrote a script, did some proper investigation and started to formally present some ideas I’ve had about creative industries as a whole.

That stuff is for the future though. Here’s what I did this month.

So, the biggest project I did this month was Split Decision, a game I designed back at the start of the year and which finally got released this month. I’ve written a brief developer diary about my work on that, so I won’t repeat myself – but being able to legitimately call myself a game designer and producer is pretty exciting. I’ve now got a whole load more experience to pull on in the future.

After Split Decision, the next biggest thing I did was cover GamesCom. I was out there as a freelancer, covering the show mainly for Bit-tech.net and doing some other bits and bobs for other people, including some BBC Radio stuff. My experience of GamesCom is that it improves every year. My first time there was utterly miserable – I was in a hovel of a hotel and couldn’t navigate the town or get to parties. It’s got steadily better since and this year was the best yet. It was there, at an Nvidia press dinner, that I ate the weird Mongolion BBQ.

What else? Well, after that most of my work this month was spent doing bits for Bit-tech, including covering for Simon as Editor for a week and training new writers in the style and CMS. I also made my Kindle debut this month, collating and editing a journalism collection that should be appearing on Amazon soon. I really enjoy doing work on Kindle, so I hope to do more of that in the future.

Beyond that, there was my stuff for Custom PC. Highlights this month are my column on the role of jargon in games criticism (‘What is Fun?’) and a cool Dragon Commander exclusive too. Larian actually had to add a feature into the DC engine just to enable the exclusive I wanted, which is further proof of how nice Farhang and the gang are.

I also did my first piece for Eurogamer this month and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s a retrospective of Habitat, the first graphical MMO on the Commodore 64. It’s based on a collection of stories and essays I gathered about the game, including an essay by then-designer Chip Morningstar about the future of the MMO format. Summarised in the article:

Morningstar warns that cyberspace architects would do well not to focus too much on graphical advances, however. Instead, he says it’s the sharedness of the environment that is most crucial, not the display technologies that support it. He points to Habitat as proof that lush graphics aren’t a requirement and says anecdotes are cyberspace’s most valuable commodity, because these stories have the potential to change the world.

I also got talking to the always-brilliant Christian Donlan about Morningstar’s essays a while ago and he put me on to some of his other stuff, including the fabulously grumpy How To Deconstruct Almost Anything.

Finally, I won a public vote to have my first feature from Continue Magazine earlier this year made available on the site. It’s a feature I’m pretty chuffed with, looking at the changing face of game development by talking to Jon Blow, Brian Fargo, Shams Jorjani and Double Fine’s Greg Rice. It was especially cool that it won a public vote to be surface online too.

Anyway, those were the highlights of August. September beckons and, between a holiday, moving house, the Unlimited Hyperbole Season 3 launch and Eurogamer Expo, it’s sure to be another busy one. Good thing I love a challenge.

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