Unlimited Hyperbole

A few weeks ago Joe Martin asked me if I'd like to be on his podcast, Unlimited Hyperbole. The topic hadn't been decided at the time, but the one he eventually chose - 'fear itself' - was a good fit. Or at least a good way for me to come off as insane. The freedom of interpretation is yours! Exercise it here.


New Lands: Dota 2, performance, and play

As discussed on the PC Gamer podcast and described by Quintin Smith in his brilliant series of articles for Eurogamer, I've been playing a lot of Dota 2. I'm playing with a group of writers, some of whom I know fairly well - Rich and Owen, who I work with on PCG - and others that I'm meeting for the first time, or have only met briefly in real life. In one case I'm playing with someone who I actually have met in real life but I think they've forgotten and I'm hoping that they haven't put two and two together yet because I made an ass of myself and a fresh start sounds pretty good.

What surprises and fascinates me about the game is how social it is: not simply in terms of cooperation or coordination but personality and expression. It's almost intimate, which is a strange thing to say about an isometric RTS variant where the average team is made up of some combination of wizards, swordsmen, helicopters, tree-people, spiders, ghosts and bears. It's part of a notoriously unfriendly genre known for bringing out the worst in people, but its structure - longform group coordination wobbling uneasily on top of a convoluted, Calvinball-esque pile of characters, items, skills and rules - is also what gives it the capacity to be personal.


Writings: Etcetera

I think it's fair to say that monthly round-up posts and I aren't getting along. Every now and then, I think about writing one: then I realise that I write about games all day, that anyone who cares to keep track is probably following me on Twitter, and that Dota 2 is a totally worthy fun time that I could be sharing with friends.

I'm also writing less that bears linking to, frankly. Sometimes I feel like my writing has become progressively worse over the last six months: at those times, I re-read the things I did for Gaming Daily that I'm proudest of and worry that it has been a long time since I made up a word.


Writings: April

I'm getting pretty good at this monthly round-up thing. We're only two weeks into May - call it an 'accounts department's month', or something, and we're square.

The last six weeks have been probably the strangest of my adult life and certainly of my career. I found myself close to the centre of a bunch of slight but forceful tectonic shifts, and threading my own path through that was distracting and stressful and generally not fun. I'm sorry to be so vague: there's lots I still don't think I can talk about. I didn't talk to my family for three weeks because I didn't want to explain what was happening until I knew the ending. So I'll skip to the end: I'm now a staff writer at PC Gamer, and I'm taking charge of our YouTube channel as video editor.

My workload has increased but I like having responsibility and a project to work on. I'm also full-time at Future now, and that security is useful for feeling that I can keep focusing on the next step and not worry that I might be out of a job tomorrow.

So here's the biggest stuff I wrote on PCGamer.com in April:

I also covered the news for a few days. Sometimes, drawing your own header image in Paint is the only way to express yourself.

That Dishonored interview was kind of painful, given how short it was. I was told that I only had five minutes pretty late in the process, so I skipped all of my introductory fluff and went straight for the three or four questions I really cared about. Afterwards, Harvey Smith told me that he could have talked for an hour about the politics of game design. "So could I", I replied. I'm trying to talk someone into getting me a follow-up interview, but for the time being this interview with Gamasutra from 2007 is worth a look, even if the game it refers to broadly isn't.