Portfolio

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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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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Asylum Jam article

I try my best to love everywhere I write for equally, but there’s a special feeling to having an article on a website your Mum’s heard of. This week I got my first article up on The Guardian. It’s about Asylum Jam and the depiction of mental health in games, and I talk a lot about my time working in a secure mental health unit, and also my grandfather’s failing memory.

Luminesca preview

Luminesca is one of many games I saw at Rezzed, and easily the prettiest of them all. It’s a shadowy, minimalist underwater exploration game with an adorable silhouette art style that reminds me heavily of Limbo.  Mostly though I was fascinated by the macabre story that was hinted at, giving the whole think a dark fairy tale atmosphere.

You can read my preview on PC Gamer, and I recommend voting for it on Greenlight.

The 50 best Skyrim mods

I love my Skyrim Mods posts for PC Gamer. They’re some of the most popular articles ever on the site, and the second highest link in a google search for ‘Skyrim Mods’. Yes I know that makes it sound like I’ve turned into a marketing droid and am now proud of SEO, but what it really means is that I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility when writing them. There are going to be thousands of people who’ve never tried mods before who are looking to me for advice, to steer them to the good stuff and avoid the giant tit mods.

So when PC Gamer asked me to rewrite the top 25 article, I was so enthusiastic that I told them I could easily make it fifty. The result was pretty backbreaking, especially as an overheating PSU was making it hard to run Skyrim at the time. I tried out a lot of less than impressive mods to reach these 50, but it was worth it, and I got to engage in a bit of amateur screenshot camerawork along the way, which PCG put into a gallery post to tease people about the update.

Read the 50 best Skyrim mods at PC Gamer.

Card shark – A story about how Steam trading cards drove me insane

When Steam trading cards were announced I treated them as a joke, a bunch of weird nonsense I didn’t want anything to do with. Then I realised people were paying money for these things, and I figured I could try and make a few bucks, enough to get a copy of Rogue Legacy at least. I rapidly degenerated into a parody of shitty capitalism, ranting on twitter about the miniscule amounts of money I was making. Thankfully PCG web editor Tom Senior was paying attention to my breakdown, and figured it would make a good article, and thus Card Shark was born.

As a bonus, I also wrote an article on how to make money from Steam trading cards without going as crazy as I did.

Update – I actually earned even more money after I wrote this. By the end of the Steam Sale my eventual takings were Rogue Legacy, Kerbal Space Program, Universe Sandbox, The Binding of Isaac (with Wrath of the Lamb DLC) and £1.10 left over.

Ether One preview

I spotted Ether One during the same trip to Rezzed that lead to my project Zomboid article. It was one of the more impresisve games on show, a first person adventure game set inside the mind of a drug addict in 1920s Cornwall. I also got to play it a little using the Oculus Rift, which was an amazing experience.

Read my Ether One preview at PC Gamer.

Project Zomboid update

Earlier this month, I decided to take a trip to my native Birmingham for Rezzed, the PC and/or indie games show. I got to meet up with some people I’d only known over the internet, which was nice, but the main reason I was there was to spot some new indie games and get some interviews. One of those interviews was with Paul Ring, of Project Zomboid, who brought me up to date on how the seemingly cursed game was progressing, and what they had planned for the future.

Read my Project Zomboid update at PC Gamer.

Rise of the Roguelikes

Rise of the Roguelikes is a feature I wrote for Gamespy shortly before the site closed down. I investigated the recent success of Roguelikes on the PC indie scene, putting together interviews with Spelunky’s Derek Yu, Desktop Dungeon’s Rodain Joubert, FTL’s Justin Ma and Matthew Davis and the team behind Dungeons of Dredmor. It was an interesting experience and there were some great insightful comments from the developers. It was actually Derek Yu’s mention of the Berlin Interpretation that lead me to use it as a framework for talking about the modern Roguelike, and about gaming genres in general.