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.

I have a belief that anyone trying to create anything will inadvertently create self portraits of themselves over and over again without even realising.

I have started working on some pixel art for a new project and was very proud of some alterations I made on my ‘Ding sprite’ from Ego to make him a low level dungeon-crawling adventurer.

 

 

I thought that looked pretty good, until my girlfriend noticed the following things:

1) That’s probably closer to my actual hair colour anyway.

2) I appear to be wearing that particular tee-shirt today.

Right down to the V-neck.

Score one for extra confidence in a theory, lose one for falling back into artistic self-insertion habits.

Why yes, I did just post a review for a game that’s three years old. That’s either post-modern games journalism or post-relevant games journalism.

This review originally appeared on X, a site I now pretend I never created. You can read my full review below the fold.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Dark Knight in almost all his forms. That Batman has seen so many variations baffles and intrigues me.

Although my taste may indeed have been tempered by the fact that I was a teenager and didn’t know any better at the time, I would highly recommend the No Man’s Land series of graphic novels. They have an interesting if not far fetched setup with Gotham City cut off from the rest of the states and being carved up by the wide variety of Batman villains, it puts well known characters under unusual stresses, and the ending…well, it’s disappointing. The point is there were some great moments there, some extraordinary artwork, a few gems of good story telling and the first two volumes were probably what pushed me off into the deep end of trying to draw my own comics, be that for good or ill.

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In quiet moments over the last few weeks where I have been reading through parts of the gaming press, my brow has become furrowed over the furore concerning complaints about the review score system.

 As a brief background to anyone who has missed the mess, Eurogamer gave Uncharted 3 an 8/10 score and were internet-crucified by a series of commenters claiming that Eurogamer were attention seeking, trying to get extra hits, and generally saying that they were wrong and irresponsible to give it any less than a 9/10.  Incidentally, most of these often incredibly harsh and unrepeatable-before-the-watershed comments will have come from people who hadn’t played the game yet.

 

That doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but then I could chalk that up to the fact that I barely understand the desire to leave comments in general. I do however think it’s fair to say however that it’s insane and sadly not existing in a vacuum.  The issue has been discussed and dissected in other places, most recently by Jim Sterling at the Escapist and by Checkpoint on PATV a while back, both worth a look if you are equally perplexed about the issue.

Game journalists complaining about game journalism is actually becoming a bit of a cliché now and is nothing new.  The complaining about review scores has been bubbling away for ages.  One of the main issues is the conflict of interest that can arise in the course of the symbiotic relationship between PR and journalist with the PRs under no obligation to send review copies of games and journalists needing copies of games in order to review them and maintain a readership. I’m sure most establishments could afford to arrange a game-buying budget to circumvent this but regardless, it can make it a little awkward when it comes to reviewing an absolute stinker.

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