18 Stellaris Empires for you to enjoy

So a while back I started making custom Stellaris Empires and sharing them on Twitter. People seemed to like them and it was a fun writing prompt so obviously I went completely overboard and made 18 different empires (two for each planet type) for the new expansion. The new update shrunk the bio window on the Empire screen, which is why they’re now on a website, with the bio underneath instead of just being twitter screenshots. I’ve also added some random comments on how I came up with them.

If you want to use these in your game just download the file here and pop it in Documents/Paradox Interactive/Stellaris (note this will overwrite your current custom empires if you have any). I tried to avoid using any mods so that anyone can download them, although I did use this one to get more flag colours. Finally when you start a new game make sure you have at least 17 Empires selected if you’re playing as one of my empires, or 18 if you’re creating your own.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – What to Watch

Deep Space Nine is one of my favourite TV shows of all time, but nevertheless, like The Next Generation, jumping straight in from the start is a big mistake. The first two series are kinda ropey, but the show is so heavily serialised that you can’t just watch the top ten episodes either as you won’t understand what’s going on. Thus I’ve put together another watch/skip list for anyone wanting to check it out for the first time. As with the TNG list, you can skip straight to the episodes by going here, or read my musings about the series first.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – What to Watch

UK Netflix recently added every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and the other series, maybe I’ll do those later) and it turns out a fair few people I know on twitter have never watched it properly. Since attempting to watch all of TNG from the start is a terrible mistake, I’ve put together a watch/skip guide for anyone attempting the feat today. You can skip straight to the list by clicking here, or you can enjoy my musings on the series first.

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Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I think if you had explained the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to me I would have rolled my eyes. As a bullet point list it is fanservice to the point of obnoxiousness, repeating an absurd amount of classic Star Wars beats. Several things happen that I had literally joked about beforehand “If they do this, I’ll walk out”.

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A list of games that are not my games of the year

Recently I tweeted that 2014 had been a pretty bad year for games. A few people were surprised at this, but honestly every time I looked at any list of best games of the year I felt decidedly underwhelmed.

So by way of explanation, here is a long list of games that I don’t consider games of the year, and why:
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Football Manager 2015 review

I reviewed the latest Football Manager for PC Gamer. It’s not an easy thing to review, being so iterative, you can fall back on a simple list of features. In the end I decided to centre my own approach to Football Manager, which is rooted in community. I also tried to critique the match engine itself, and the style of football it encourages.

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Ingress article

On Thursday I got a phone call from Keith Stuart of the Guardian, saying “Would you like to go down to London for the day for an Ingress event?” Thankfully I could make it, and spent a day wandering around London with this wonderful community. This one was a lot of fun.

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Game Chef entry – Za Vstrechu!

Za Vstrechu! (named after a traditional Russian toast) Is a game by myself and Matthew Ward. We created it for Game Chef, a nine day tabletop game jam. The theme of the jam was “There is no book” and we had to incorporate two of the following four ingredients “Glitter, Wild, Absorb and Sickle”.

We chose glitter and sickle and made a game about a masked ball on the eve of the Russian revolution. All the instructions are either on the invitation or on the masks themselves, hence the minimalist rules:
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Storium Article

I’ll take any excuse I can to bring my pen and paper RPG knowledge into videogames, which is why I pitched Rock Paper Shotgun an article on Storium, which exists somewhere between the two.

The opening paragraph contains a manifesto of sorts:

Computers suck at stories. We’ve been trying to create AIs that will make writers redundant for decades and it’s just not happening. Even clever, experimental systems like Storybricks are using sophisticated technology to create stories which amount to “There are bandits on the road.” If you want plot twists more complex than “And then I killed the guy”, you’re going to need a writer.

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2013 in stuff

2013 was a weird year for me. I spent the first half of it with no money, no prospects and no motivation, but by the end I had a steady income, a bunch of new friends and small cool writing in lots of different places. I can probably credit a lot of that to the Not a Game podcast. Recording something every week really helped me get out of my rut, so thanks for that guys.

I mention this because it probably explains a few things here. Like not going to the cinema or reading much and just binge watching TV instead. Basically it’s about how I suck, but I suck slightly less than I did ten years ago.

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