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.

Dungeons and Design part 2: I am everything wrong with gaming

Recently some friends and I decided to try Dungeons and Dragons (fourth edition, Planescape setting) for the first time. As usual, no-one wanted to be the DM, so I volunteered, and I’m glad I did. Running these adventures has given me a lot of insight into game design and how to deal with players, including pointing out some things I really should have known already. So I’ve decided to write a little about each session, and the stark contrast between what I planned and what actually happened.
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Dungeons and Design part 1: Hawks can’t spot traps

Recently some friends and I decided to try Dungeons and Dragons (fourth edition, Planescape setting) for the first time. As usual, no-one wanted to be the DM, so I volunteered, and I’m glad I did. Running these adventures has given me a lot of insight into game design and how to deal with players, including pointing out some things I really should have known already. So I’ve decided to write a little about each session, and the stark contrast between what I planned and what actually happened.
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Football Manager 2013 best players post

Not a lot of games journalists are into Football Manager, despite its enormous popularity, many aren’t even into football, or sports of any kind. Luckily I’m not one of them, I’ve been playing FM since it was Championship Manager, which is why occasionally I get contacted to write article like this, taking a look through the FM13 review code for PC Gamer to find some quality bargains.

Skyrim Mods update

I have 62 different Skyrim Mods installed right now, and I’ve tried out a lot more than that. They’re getting better and better, which is why I’ve updated my Skyrim Mods post for PC Gamer to include a lot of new releases, most of which I use myself.

At some point I’ll have to get around to posting my own personal load order, which juggles a lot of visual mods and new features, but keeps the whole thing pretty lore friendly.

XCOM guide

PC Gamer were impressed by my FTL guide, so they gave me some early code for XCOM and let me puzzle my way through it, resulting in this guide, there’s also a print version in the latest magazine (Christmas 2012).

XCOM, like FTL, is largely about risk management, and that kind of game always prompts me to try and dissect exactly what the best decisions are in each situation. Writing the FTL guide was as much me trying to get those ideas out and organised as it was about providing others with advice. I seem to be near addicted to doing it, so if you need a guide written, give me a call, I’m probably writing one in my head anyway.

Some posts for PCGamesN

Recently I’ve been doing a little bit of work for PCGamesN, the new site by Tim Edwards and James Binns, two of the guys who gave me my start in games journalism. I’ve helped them out a bit behind the scenes, but so far I’ve only got a couple of things live on the site.

Everything we know about Aliens: Colonial Marines – In which I was surprised that the phrase “make sweet love to your oesophagus” managed not be be cut.

The best mods for Napoleon: Total War – In which I learnt that Total War mods are amazing, and also that I always forget whether the ‘Total War’ bit goes at the start or the end.

Gratutious Tank Battles review

A while back I reviewed Positech’s sci-fi WW1 tower defence game for PC Gamer. You can find the review here.

I liked it a lot. In fact that’s the highest score I’ve ever given out as a professional reviewer. The customisation of Gratuitous Space Battles works even better here, because the AI uses your own units against you. You should definitely check it out.

How to survive in FTL

A little while back I read Tom Francis’ excellent compilation of Spelunky tips. I suck at Spelunky, but after reading those, I sucked marginally less, and now I’m going to do the same thing for you, only with FTL.

Like Spelunky, FTL is a simple but brilliant roguelike built around risk/reward calculations. And like Spelunky, following a few simple principles can improve your game a lot. I’ve been playing this game since it was an IGF entry, so I know a thing or two about how to survive in space. So listen up Captains, because it’s a cold, hard universe out there.

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In which TV shows about lawyers are surprisingly different

Lately I’ve watching three different TV shows about lawyers. The light and fun Franklin and Bash, the gritty conspiracy of The Firm and the glossy character drama that is Suits. They all take completely different approaches to the genre, but they’re all good, just in different ways. It’s an impressive demonstration of just how much variety you can generate from a simple enough concept, so I thought I’d talk a little about each show, how they work, and why I like them.

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