January was not a busy month; I accepted a new job early on, meaning most of my time was then spent running out remaining assignments prior to the new start. I also collected outstanding interviews for Unlimited Hyperbole‘s next season. Squeezing production in on weekends will cause delays, but Harriet and I are keen to keep the show alive – particularly since this season features several heroes of mine who are too cool to ignore.
Even though I’m not taking on anymore commissions or journalistic work at the moment, it’s likely some of my work will continue to trickle out for the next month or two. I have unpublished pieces still waiting with Custom PC and Gamasutra, for example. I’ll try to cover those as they come out, but in the mean time here’s what I did in January…
The biggest article was another ‘Deleted Scenes’ feature for Eurogamer, this time looking at the original Doom and comparing the design document to the finished product, which turned out very differently to the initial plan. The document has actually been online for years, but not many people seem to know about it and by following up with Tom Hall I was able to get a bit more insight too. Other members of the original Id team couldn’t be persuaded to comment, however.
A few people have asked where I’m getting these design documents. The answer is that while there are a few available online (GTA, Metal Gear Solid 2, Doom), I’ve had the most luck approaching developers directly. Warren Spector put me on to the University of Texas’ archive, for example, which was where I got the Deus Ex documents. There’s much more left unsurfaced in there though, such as Wing Commander design documents and Spector’s original marketing pitch for the unmade version of Thief 4.
Unfortunately, while there are some other pitch and concept documents available online (Planescape, Grim Fandango, BioShock), most studios don’t store documents properly or publicly. That’s a shame and I try to encourage the developers that can’t share things publicly to consider donating to the UT Archive as a result.
Anyway. This month I also went off to Iceland for a few days with Paradox Interactive, to see all their games. I don’t often get international trips like that – I’ve had less than ten in seven years – and I find them stressful when I do go, but this was wonderful. Iceland is a spectacular country with one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen and Paradox, as always, let journalists have unlimited access to developers. If only all publishers were so open and frank.
There’s a bunch of stuff coming up from that trip in the coming weeks. Bit-tech.net is getting two previews from the event, while Custom PC Magazine is getting three. The game of the show was probably March of the Eagles, not because I enjoyed it myself but because it was fun to watch others play a big multiplayer match and see the emergent stories that came out of it.
Speaking of Bit-tech and Custom PC, I also did all my usual coverage for them too. That included reviews of the fantastic Kentucky Route Zero and Waking Mars, but also my farewell column for the magazine which will feature in Issue 116. Be warned, it’s a bit creepy.
A lot of people have been asking what my new job is and why I’m leaving, but I’ve decided to avoid discussing that on here. It’s just not interesting or relevant to anyone but my friends and it’s doubtful I’ll ever publish my grumpy goodbye post. Suffice it to say for now that I’ll be working in the marketing department for a telecoms company and you can find the rest out by either checking my LinkedIn profile when I update it or inviting me out for a drink.