Stellaris is the great space opera simulator I have wanted at several points in my life, normally after watching a random episode of Star Trek.

Stellaris splash screen

A long time ago, in space the final frontier…

The future in Star Trek is great – possibly the only ultimate realisation of a utopian society, yet still with a fleet of ships equipped for battle when those lines of communication aren’t always clear on the first pass.

With Stellaris, my mantra started out as What Would Jean-Luc Picard do? (WWJLPD)

The main thing Stellaris taught me = I am not Jean-Luc Picard.

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I’ve not slept for thirty hours and I’m driving a truck from Aberdeen to Rotterdam.

I’m partly past the point I could actually get to sleep anyway, but most of it is that I have a tiny baby on my lap that is getting some much needed rest. I was told they always sleep, but I wasn’t told they always sleep on you.

Euro Truck Simulator 2 main veiw

Wait a minute…I can’t see my hands! AAAAAAAHHHHHhhh

I’m not allowed to go to sleep. If I go to sleep whilst looking after this tiny goblin wrapped in a fluffy blanket, then I don’t want to think about the end of that sentence. Netflix has been the answer so far, but I’ve just finished House of Cards and I’m in that between-shows limbo so I have turned to my old friend video games to bail me out.

That means I’m now driving a virtual truck from virtual Aberdeen to virtual Oslo in Euro Truck Simulator 2.

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Donkey Kong arcade screenMy wife asked me over Whatsapp “Is Donkey Kong good or bad?” which is a perfectly expected question and entirely consistent with the sorts of questions I find myself fielding from friends and family all the time. I’m lucky I have spent so long playing games, reading about games and listening to podcasts about games for otherwise I would be ill equipped for life, which apparently requires the successful answering of these sorts of questions.

If this question is actually “Is Donkey Kong, the arcade game from 1981, good or bad?” then the answer is very simple. Yes. It’s very good. It’s the first game I ever played and it’s great.

If the question is however “Is Donkey Kong a good guy or a villain?” then it gets a bit more interesting.

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I struggled to condense my feelings on the latest World of Warcraft expansion into a short easily readable and pithy blog post so I gave up and decided to write all the words instead.

Prologue: The Sword in the Stone

For a very brief moment I thought I was going to be the King of England. It was very brief, and by that I mean about half a second.

Tauren Paladin in Lights Hope Chapel

Why yes my shoulders are on fire and I do have a small bird on my head.

I went to Disneyland Paris when I was about 18 with a youth orchestra group. We were playing at one of the little side stages which was a big deal for us, but not really such a big deal for the five people who mistakenly wandered over to the backwater of the park we were playing in.

Being 18 with a youth orchestra group abroad basically means you’re in quasi-parent-guardian mode. If one of the mini-clarinetists falls over and skins a knee, you’re the one that’s responsible for tracking down a plaster and making sure they haven’t broken anything. It’s not like you can just leave them for dead and head over to Space Mountain, you have to work to stop tears and tantrums. What I’m trying to say is by the time I was in Disneyland Paris, I was old enough and in the mindset of an adult enough not to be tricked by any nefarious Disney dark magic.

In one quiet part of the park, there was a sword lodged into a stone, a la the Legend of King Arthur, a la Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. Of course you have to go and try to pull it out. It’s there. That’s what it’s there for. Everyone needs to go and try to pull it out. So that’s what I did, knowing it was a stupid prop that you were probably supposed to pose for a picture with, pretending to struggle to pull it out. Mild laughs all round.

The sword moved…

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Cover art for Crisis, Captain!Everyone has had a fantasy of commanding a star ship on a mission of exploration through the galaxy. Now, you too can experience the thrill and the tension and the stress of starship command in Crisis, Captain!

Wormholes, abandoned space stations, arguments with your officers and hostile warships are just some of the things you are likely to encounter in an average mission. Can you complete it without your ship exploding, your crew dying or your officers revolting? Well, no, you can’t – one of those things will definitely happen, but how much can you discover before the end inevitably comes?

I’m soft launching my first game into the internet today. Crisis, Captain! is a free Android game and is still in development with new content and fixes being released semi-regularly. This is pretty much the first thing that I’ve ever created that has a certain degree of completion to it, the first finished project I’ve managed in Unity and the first game I’ve built for mobile.

Update: There is now a PC build available for Crisis Captain over on Itch.io – it is very much the definition of a lazy port, but it took me about five minutes to throw together. Basically I can see how tempting it must be for developers to make bad ports now.

You can download Crisis, Captain! for free from itch.io for Android and PC.