The Player (Who Is Gillen) Of Games 2012

It's a pun. Remember them? Of course you do, you pretty little thing.

So, games then.

Last year I played as many games as I did when I was on staff. This year, I didn’t. This year was, in the language of the sweary people, a right shitting fucker. How much have I done? This much (Spoilers: A lot). You have no idea how much time you have to spend thinking of who superheroes are going to punch next.

(Er… for relative newcomers to the site. I’m one of the guys who founded the place. I left a couple of years back. I now write fiction, primarily a bunch of comics for Marvel. I like to pop in occasionally at this time of year, like the sort of relative who sends you a Christmas card even though you haven’t returned the favour for a clear decade.)

Haven’t the RPS chaps done well this year? I don’t even hate their Calender that much. It’s primarily a mixture of stuff I dig and stuff that I’ve actually bought and not had a chance play yet. That last grouping includes the unanimous choice of the team for Game of the Year, FAR CRY 3. I would have thought that someone would have disagreed, but it seems not.

I just wanted to use this screenshot again

I did follow the debate with interest, though not so much the writing is-it-colonialist-tripe-or-cleverly-ironic? (Though everything around that screamed out the relatively little power one member of a creative team has when the vast majority couldn’t give a toss about you being a pseud). The conversation looked like people chewing over the relative merits of the freeform game approach, with the objecting to the theme-park here-is-a-ride-on-the-map model versus those feeling verisimilitude has been lost – that, fundamentally, it’s too much game.

I think the debate is conflating various poles of what’s possible, and it was brought into sharp contrast when I played DROX OPERATIVE. Soldak have been doing action games that have the most febrile living simulation in pop-gaming, bar none (including Dwarf Fortress – note the word I use is “febrile” rather than “complex”.) In Drox, you’re positioned as a space-ship agent in a top-down world, and sent off to interact with this fucking mess of a universe. Within seconds, the game is alive with alien races going to war, trading, begging for help, begging for supplies, begging like Captain Beg ruler of the Seven Begs and generally giving the impression that they’d be happy having a game entirely by themselves, but since you’re around, they may as well put you to good use. It’s astounding stuff, and it hurts that I’ve not given it nearly enough time. However, it’s worth noting that it manages to beat both the game-y system-heavy elements hailed by the Far Cry 3 crowd and the real-living-world of the STALKER-philes. However, its living world is simply not real – it’s gamey. It’s shamelessly abstracted, and occasionally feels like a rediscovered evolutionary branch that has been churning on since Defender changed everything back in the early 80s.

Oh man! I’ve just dissed everyone’s taste. I’m remembering how this works.

It's awesome. Ignore the screenshot.

I haven’t played THE WALKING DEAD, but I do have an anecdote. At One Life Left/Hookshot Inc Christmas Party, standing outside and chatting to Master Of The Cheap Lewie about it. He quotes Andi “Midnight Resistance” Hamilton who had a fairly pithy take on anyone who adores it. “If you say your game of the year is The Walking Dead, what you’re really saying is that you’re shit at Hotline Miami.” Which made me smile, even before I’m immediately introduced to someone else who – unknowing of the previous conversation – said his fave game was The Walking Dead.

HOTLINE MIAMI was astounding. Generally speaking, I’m in the corner that’s pro-transgression. I’m also, generally speaking, in the corner that is pro-games inducing the pure state of annihilation of sense that dance does. You know what I mean. And if you don’t, go google essays on flow. So, reaching a GENERALLY SPEAKING CROSS-OVER, my love for this gloriously mean bastard is unsurprising. Micro-remixing its puzzles as the repeats chew along, this game finds its groove, but it’s a smart groove that’s always asking you the sort of questions you want to answer. Frankly, I loved it since I first saw it on the floor of the Eurogamer Expo, when its dirty snyths spraying all over the gathered crowd felt like some kind of Baptism. I was hardly going to stop now.

The other king of flow was SUPER HEXAGON, which is amazingamazingamazingamazingamazing. The slow moments of Christmas this year was spent with my brother playing it on his iPad and me playing it on mine. And then I got into a car, and played it as we headed elsewhere. And then I got back home, and played it on my PC. And I play it in my sleep. It’s Veni Vidi Vici from VVVVV expanded magnificently into a full game, a game of reflex, memory, pattern recognition, instinct and screaming for the death of the soft-spoken dark-hearted Terry Cavanagh.

(Cavanagh says it’s more an expansion of Super Gravitron, but that’s all about the forced-movement of the character. BUT WHATEVER GETS YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT, CAVANAGH, YOU MONSTROUS DUNG.)

Super Hexagon Is the closest gaming this year has got to Sex. I last about seven seconds.

Terry Cavanagh is a dread lord who feasts on the woe of all. He will consume our spirits and when there is nothing left but reflexive twitching, he will turn us into slaves. TERRY CAVANAGH IS.

The shocker with MASS EFFECT 3 was discovering that people actually did care about what was going on with the Reapers.

I’m not sure I have a game of the year, but it could be XCOM. Just a brave, taut remix of the games’ core principles. It’s absolutely how you’d imagine a company with the Maximum Number Of Meaningful Decisions dogma at its core would approach the setting. The two actions married with increased meaning of abilities is pure that – as opposed to the simulationist approach of the Gollops’. Its my favourite example of developers lifting from the last decade of boardgame design.

(Fuck me, I did smile to see people who were sneering at XCOM for being dumbed down slagging off the two-action approach because it made it harder to recover from a mistake. It’s the sort of thing which made you realise the majority of the reservations weren’t about the game, but rather the fact that you’re never going to be 14 ever again and DYING IS RUBBISH.)

Boardgames have been more core to my gaming this year, just through time. With Rab and the QuinnsPaulbeast guiding me, I’ve bought and played all manner of stuff. It’s just more efficient. When I have less time, if I go play a real world game, I get to tickle my Ludic urge and my socialisation urge and (often) my alcoholism. Triple win!

The foremost of them was RISK LEGACY, which I wrote about over at Eurogamer. It came out just before Xmas last year, but that it’s a longform campaign “thing” meant people only really got to see its glory this year. As I said over at Eurogamer, this is the one which I’m hoping game devs will try and rip off. As Rab said, it’s a landmark. And that means it’s a bloody big thing we can all look at and help us work out where we need to go next.

(Other tabletop stuff? A lot of the GAME OF THRONES boardgame, which primarily involves me playing Pyke and shouting Come At Me Bro and demanding people pay the Iron Price in a phenomenally annoying way. The X-Wing miniatures game, which is hyper-lovely, especially if you’re playing the Star Wars soundtracks on spotify. I also finished off my WARHAMMER FANTASY ROLEPLAY campaign, which probably needs an article of its own at some point. “Do”ing Naomi Klein Disaster Capitalism in the Old World was all sorts of interesting. Also interesting was realising what horrors a warped adult imagination can unleash with Slaneshi cultists. Other stuff? LIBERTALIA was neat, though did lead to a predictably large number of booty gags. Also, playing THE RESISTANCE was always amazing, especially when my Mum took everyone to the cleaners with her awesome mouth of lies.)

Fuck it. Let’s say Risk Legacy was my game of the year. I still owe Quinns a big personal piece of writing about it for his site, and that I’m not going to dodge that promise says much.

R! I! S! K! It is a game that is called Risk.

It’s not the only game that made me want to write, of course. I’ve actually got a 2000 word essay I wrote after playing THIRTY FLIGHTS OF LOVING that I still need to get around to proofing, but that was a complete tour de force of technique that deserves serious picking over. Joy, intelligence, style and sheer fucking velocity, it’s a pure example of what a truly unleashed level designer can achieve. Also touched on the essay is DEAR ESTHER, which is important in proving that this kind of thing can actually find a commercial audience. It was me that John was arguing with in his end of the year piece on it. Somewhere out there is a developer who has just realised that a game idea they thought was literally impossible to try and still be able to eat has seen what Dear Esther has managed, and decided to give it a shot rather than the safe genre game they were considering. Anything that expands the boundary of what a commercial game can be is a fundamental good thing. You’ll thank it eventually, Walker.

People writing ripostes to arguments I’ve made privately has been something of a theme this year. There were at least two to my observation that DOTA was a machine for generating shitheads, from Quinns and Cara. Both of them have been attacking DOTA 2 in their own cheery way, with Quinns stressing the incredible macho dick-waving I-will-climb-this-mountain nature of its sprawling design, and Cara whispering (i.e. shouting) the important truth that it’s-okay-to-be-shit. I lean heavily towards Cara’s corner. Seemingly every mechanic in DOTA2, from the macro to the micro, breeds sociopathy (And anyone who argues that a game where Denying – the slaughter of your own men – is a core mechanic isn’t actually sociopathic as the creeps aren’t anything real is only proving my point. Gandalf doesn’t set fire to his hobbits when they start looking a little peaky). The only cure for it is the bonhomie of realising that when you’ve got a game as gloriously intricate as DOTA, you’re almost certainly never going to be “good” at it, and the point is the journey and the best journeys are with friends. Repositioned mentally as less of a grudge-fuck and more the spiritual successor to the social niche that Gauntlet filled in 1985, this is even harder to (ahem) deny what a genuinely astounding game this is. I just hope one of the main RPSers comes around to it before its release.

I was genuinely amazed with the writing in Diablo III. Amazed. It was almost like they were scared of being entertaining.

DIABLO III was released this year.

I had hope that I’d find time to really dig into GUILD WARS 2, but knew that any MMO – even one as sprightly as Arenanet’s – was going to be something I played, enjoyed and then simply left behind. A strong game that did almost everything that it could to try and rejuvenate the traditional Fantasy MMO format, its relative failure (i.e. not being game of the year) makes you suspect that the traditional Fantasy MMO format is close to dead. In terms of diminishing returns, I’m starting to wonder if the Emergent Sim may be starting to creep towards similar ground. Not exactly a disappointment of the year, but I bounced off DISHONORED after the first few hours. I’ll return in the new year, but there’s something strange about a game where I spend so much time waving a reanimated psychic heart at anything that passes my nose feeling so oddly lacking in personality. Also in the return-in-new-year-after-initial-bounce is CRUSADER KINGS 2, which looks like a lovely soap-opera-with-large-scale-warfare-em-up, but almost certainly involves reading a manual or something.

The game of the year for Games Journalism – i.e. the best game to write about – was undoubtedly DAYZ, which lead to a huge number of wonderful pieces. Seeing Jim discover a micro-Eve (i.e. a game which primarily exists for Jim to tell me stories about) is always fun. Having to wrestle with its servers meant I only played a couple of games before deciding to give up and wait for its proper release, but when a game which solely consisted of creeping around in the dark doing fuck all is this compelling, I can’t wait. Similarly left in my must-play-more pile was LEGEND OF GRIMROCK, whose resurrection of the eight-legged-groove-machine model of RPGs highlighted the specific merits of that particularly approach to the dungeon crawl. Meanwhile, the splendid WAKING MARS made all the Americans shout “Metroid!” and the British folk of a certain age roll their eyes at the yanks and go “Biological Ecosystem EXILE!”. Just a lovely game of exploration and quiet experimentation. More like this, please. Oh – and SUPERBROTHERS: SWORD & SWORCERY EP took the prize as being the only game I reviewed this year. Oh – and DARK SOULS killed me lots and lots.

I also liked the LEGEND OF GRIMROCK gag. Well done, Alec. You're the best.

It’s a lovely platformer, but I will always primarily remember RAYMAN: ORANGES as my favourite RPS running joke of the year. Except it was apparently made up by Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell, so that’s that sketch knackered.

So: “Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell” remains my favourite RPS running gag of all time.



  1. RianXD says:

    The only reason i commented was because I knew that hat was a Loki hat. then i realized it said it in the title then i saw that “gillen” was in the title and i was like i have tonnes of books by Kireon Gillen about thor and Loki’s escapades…then i looked at the author and Now my mind is blown. the Pieces have fallen into place haha,.

    Keep up the good work haha !

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It’s all part of a greater scheme.

      • RianXD says:

        You just talked to me. I’m coming down with celebrity worship syndrome. Got a real bad case of it at the moment haha.

        And I agree about the traditional Fantasy MMO format being close to dead, theres only so many times you can keep the gameplay the same and change the UI, not saying Gw2 did that just in general.

        • ashleypatterson8 says:

          Im making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do..Millionaire Business 2013

      • Mirqy says:

        Hmm, never took Gillen for a follower of Tzeentch,

        • innokenti says:

          Really? Seemed obvious to me. I mean, he hides it well by his apparent adhesion to the Great Horned One… but it’s just a very very cunning smoke-screen.

    • mouton says:

      I finally watched Avengers recently and boy, what a wasted opportunity the Loki character was. Such a shame.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      All that, and a companion on Dr Who!

  2. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    Your sharp visit is like the Hulk dropkicking a shark in the mouth. link to

    Thanks for taking a look back on the year, sir.

  3. Cinnamon says:

    Still have to try the new xcom but I loved Grimrock and Hotline: Miami this year. But most of my gaming time was spent on Mount & Blade and Shogun 2. I feel like I’m in a bit of a slump when it comes to new games.

  4. beetle says:

    “DIABLO III was released this year.”


  5. Rovac says:

    I should do my homework. As a younger generation, my experience of Kieron Gillen is only in An Interactive Fiction by Horace The Endless Server Technician. Poor me
    Hi Kieron

    Also, Happy New Year, everyone. At least in everyone in my timezone

    • kyrieee says:

      mumble mumble DX:IW mumble

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        STILL the best interpretive-dance review of a Deus Ex game called Invisible War ever made.

  6. Morph says:

    Ferbile? Even google doesn’t know what that means.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Oh, I missed the pedantry.

      • Jay says:

        It probably wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow if you hadn’t drawn attention to it specifically, to be fair.

        Edit: Actually, I may be kidding myself with that one, given some past audience response on here.

      • Morph says:

        Well I didn’t know the word febrile either, I was genuinely confused rather than being pedantic.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I think it means that Gillen has only become even more…Gillen-y over the years.

      • The_B says:

        Gillen always becomes more Gillen-y every year. Soon they’ll build a Gillen with a Gillen-y so big it will destroy them all!

        • Fumarole says:

          Yo dawg…

        • Phantoon says:

          Or just Gillen over all of them, as some sort of horrible ur-Gillen ruler of the Gillen kingdoms of Gillen.

          Really, it’s like he never even left!

    • diamondmx says:

      Google says it means: feverishly energetic

  7. aDemandingPersona says:

    It took me awhile to realize that Kieron of Marvel was the same Kieron of RPS. All his Marvel posts became so much clearer. Made me very happy. (Loved AvX consequences.)

    Also, I still can only think of Rayman as Rayman: Oranges. In fact it came up yesterday during conversation.

  8. abandonhope says:

    Defender. I really poured my imagination into that game, sucking at it over and over again as especially a seven-year-old could.

  9. Carachan1 says:

    Can someone please play Risk: Legacy with me in the New Year or I might IMPLODE

    • AndrewC says:

      I believe imploding to be far the most civilised form of ploding, being, if nothing else, far easier to clear up afterwards. I commend carachan1 and give him points.

      • Daniel Johnston says:

        Pfft. You’re on here more than I am, and you just called Cara him. I’m mocking you. *mocks*

        Also, happy new year and stuff. Erich’s back mid-month and I’m working on the Nine Worlds website later today.

        • AndrewC says:

          Forgive me, I must have been thinking of carachan2. Or something.

          Plosionic preference remains unchanged.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      Tom bought a copy to play with Dan, Phill Maen and I but we only played two games:(

  10. Pazguato says:

    For Kieron…

    (Thanks! – Kieron)

  11. Jay says:

    “note the word I use is “ferbile””


    I had ‘Forename “Forename Surname” Surname’ pegged as a J Nash-ism, though no doubt someone will be along in a minute with an example from antiquity or something.

    Great article by the way.

  12. Hentzau says:

    Ah, Dota. One day I was hailing it as the best multiplayer experience of the year. The next I deleted it from Steam in a raging fit of pique because I’d lost 13 games in a row and it was starting to make me hate my friends. It is truly the best and worst of all games.

  13. ts061282 says:

    “DIABLO III was released this year.”

  14. webwielder says:

    Despite aching mightily for an immersive experience, I too was tempted to give up on Dishonored early on because of the lifeless characters, awkward dialog, and inconsequential story (and sometimes drab environments). I stuck with it however and was ultimately left satisfied with an excellent sneaking experience. Not the classic I was hoping for, though.

    Perspective is my GOTY.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I do hope I change my mind. I mean, I liked it, but it didn’t grab me.

      • AndrewC says:

        This seems to be a recurring theme. Also, plenty who have completed it almost forgot they played it.

        It is Good and Important that This Sort Of Thing got made and was successful, but in an alternate universe that embraced Deus Ex instead of Halo, this would be a very nicely designed also-ran in a crowded field of immersive sims.

        So, you know, it’s good! it really is! But it is only great because it got made in *this* universe. This is not to do the game down,however, because *this* universe is a right git.

        So that’s what I think about that.

        • webwielder says:

          You described the situation most excellently, sir. Dishonored is celebrated in large part due to the scarcity of its ilk.

        • TCM says:

          I took a vacation for a week and a half out of my country of residence, without a computer.

          Not only did I forget I was playing Dishonored, I forgot that I owned Dishonored. By extension, I forgot what I was doing in Dishonored, the names and defining features of most of the characters (I remember Corvo because everyone says it a lot and it’s you, and Havelock because he struck me as kind of a cool guy), the majority of the powers (except Blink), and what I did on previous missions in Dishonored.

          To contrast, I developed a strong longing to play Planescape again after taking a half year break due to being really upset over losing my save, deeply missed the Total War and CK2 campaigns I was running, remembered a promise I’d made to a friend to start a new visual novel I’d never played or heard much about, and felt glad I’d taken the time to finish Uncharted 3 so it wasn’t left hanging for me.

          I don’t know what my problem is with Dishonored, but…it just doesn’t feel like much of anything at all to me. And I really went in expecting to like it, and wanting to enjoy it.

          • Lacero says:

            Dishonoured for me is whales screaming in agony at us tearing out their bones and burning their flesh for light. I really wish I could forget it.

      • Kadayi says:

        Nah your instincts are right in this case Kieron. I enjoyed it when I played it, but I’ve not felt the urge to revisit it.

  15. Casimir Effect says:

    Please don’t mention the Gravitron.

  16. Ansob says:

    Hello Kieron.

    Please come back.

    Thanks and love,

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Yes, the others all seem so samey. Need more madness.

    • Phantoon says:

      But it’s like he didn’t leave at all!

      “Oh man! I’ve just dissed everyone’s taste. I’m remembering how this works.”


    • gnodab says:

      We should get a Kickstarter campaign running to bring him back. It’s the only way I know off to force rich an successful men into their pasts and into doing what I like.

      Come on Kieron! If the need pictures John could always draw them around your articles. And there’d always be scotch eggs for you.

      • Kieron Gillen says:

        What you actually need is a kickstarter to pay for a time dilator to give me more hours in the day, then I can write EVERYTHING.

        • gnodab says:

          Hm, intriguing… Somebody inside the US get to it!
          Or maybe we should kickstart Cloning Vats. Then there would be enough Gillen for all.

  17. Drake Sigar says:

    We’ve met before in the RPS text adventure, but you didn’t seem to do anything except just stand there smiling.

    • Rovac says:

      he is a telepath, he only need to smile
      Also, he hovers 2 inch from the ground

  18. coffeetable says:

    “unanimous choice of the team for Game of the Year, FAR CRY 3. I would have thought that someone would have disagreed, but it seems not.”

    Alec Meer, the Invisible Writing Man.

  19. pakoito says:

    Kieron Gillen dropping a Jersey Shore reference. 2012 in a nutshell there, people.

    • BooleanBob says:

      If you want a picture of the future, imagine Kieron Gillen making a Jersey Shore reference – forever.

      (We miss you, KG! x)

  20. FullMetalMonkey says:

    Generation Hope! How much of that was wasn’t inspired by Akira?

    Still though, loving your work at Marvel and the X-books

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      The stuff that was inspired by Tetsuo: the Iron Man, obv.

      I learned a lesson from that one. Never assume that people will get it if you’re subtle. I thought “I AM BECOMING ART” in the first caption would be enough, but I should have postered the place with posters too. It’s a story about an artist who’s hailed as a genius whose mutation reveals to the world how entirely derivative he is.

      I suspect I’d have been fine if I made the kid be obsessed by Superman, because “Superman Analogue” is a conventional comics trope now.

      (Glad you’re mostly digging it)

      (EDIT: And I’m not saying that people are wrong to miss it. I genuinely mean I was too subtle.)

      • xsikal says:

        In my (admittedly limited) experience, whenever you’re worried about being too subtle, you probably were (for at least the majority of people)… except when it’s a twist that the whole plotline relies upon, in which case you’ll end up not having been subtle enough.

      • FullMetalMonkey says:

        After having a reread of Generation Hope (and watching Tetsuo: Iron Man it on Youtube) i can see the references to that film now much more clearly. I hadn’t heard of it until you mentioned it. I have to admit that the similarities to Tetsuo’s plight in Akira are very similar to Tetsuo: The Iron Man. That film is scary – Those poor cats :-(

        When i read Generation Hope, it did annoy me at how similar it felt to Akira though. But other than that i’ve enjoyed the rest of the series.

        I’m a long time X-book collection (hardbacks) all the way since The Dark Phoenix Saga.

      • Buttless Boy says:

        Shit, really? I’m a huge fan of Tetsuo and I missed that. Of course, I entirely forgot that Tetsuo has words, too, so yeah.

      • wu wei says:

        I dunno, I think Avengers Arena has you beat for “subtlety”.

        That may not actually be the word I’m looking for.

  21. Ultra Superior says:

    The Great Skaven God hath returned !

  22. Eddy9000 says:

    So we’re all agreed that Super Hexagon is not only the best game ever, but an archetype of gaming made so pure that no other games need making ever, and in the future playing Super Hexagon will be the only activity people indulge in and our politicians will be elected based solely on their Super Hexagon score?


  23. Kieron Gillen says:

    Oh noes! I forgot my Super Hexagon gag. EDIT!

    • lordcooper says:

      And a fine gag it was at that.

      • Phantoon says:

        Yes. I laughed, I cried, I gagged, then I attempted not to puke when the retching began.

    • tomeoftom says:

      I actually stopped reading and just laughed and laughed and laughed when I read that.

  24. BooleanBob says:


    How is this supposed to be pronounced? Bahy-ee? Bahy-yee? Inquiring minds demand to know.

    • Phantoon says:

      The same way you’d shout it when going over the wall, of course.

  25. Ayam says:

    Hey, I remember fondly a game of dota2 we played with Kieron this year – link to I’ve since not played dota much, but that was a fantastic game, I think Kieron was targetted a bit much, though ;)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I almost included a line “I haven’t played DOTA since a group of people put one of my games up on Youtube without asking me” in the piece, but decided it would be passive aggressive.


      • Carachan1 says:

        Was I bothering you for a game just before this

      • Ayam says:

        One of our number who is in contact with you said you said it would be okay, seems not though so taken the vids away, then. Apologies and you can stop cyclopsing me now. Way to tread on toes, Ayam! *golf-claps self*

        • Kieron Gillen says:

          Oh, it was fine to stick it up. To stick it up with a title of KIERON GILLEN PLAYS DOTA or whatever was a bit “dude! Inappropriate!”

          It’s not an enormous deal, but did make me feel uncomfortable.

  26. pertusaria says:

    I had been hoping for a Gillen end-of-year post – thank you!

    Some of these I will probably never play, but I promise to try Drox Operative. I will also look into some of the board games that you and Rab write about so well. Would it be worth tracking down a copy of standard Risk if I’ve only played it once (years ago, up till 2 in the morning, very much as you described in the Eurogamer piece), to learn how it goes, or would you jump directly into Risk: Legacy given the chance?

    • elfbarf says:

      The original Risk is fairly basic, crappy game game; you’re best off just playing Legacy.

    • Nogo says:

      The first game or two of Legacy is pretty much standard Risk minus the ridiculous win condition. The game does a great job of ramping up the complexity, and part of the joy in it is making mistakes that haunt/motivate you in later games.

    • TCM says:

      There’s maybe 3-5 versions of Risk worth playing, and all of them are variants.

      Avoid classic Risk like the plague if you are at all acquainted with serious strategy games.

  27. liceham says:

    The Diablo 3 bit was perfect, thank you.

  28. WantOn says:

    Missed you KG. Please don’t ever stop coming back here.

  29. Commissar Choy says:

    I agree that Risk: Legacy is astounding and everyone should play it.

  30. Skabooga says:

    DIABLO III was released this year.

    Just in time, this might tie for best line on RPS this year, alongside, “There was a long pause. And then Peter Molyneux wept.”

  31. McCool says:

    Oh KG! Please come back. Things just aren’t the same without you. We can’t get the pseud going like we used to. And there is no-one to swear lots and say it how it is (while swearing).

    Btw, Crusader Kings II really doesn’t need a manual or anything. It is as intuitive as murdering your brother in order to win favour with your great uncle is in real life. I think you’d wuv it – it’s all systemsy and meaningful decisionsy in a way Paradox have always been trying to, but never quite pulled off before.

    • McCool says:

      If you can’t come back, then at least use those mysterious editorial powers you must still possess to bully the others into hiring someone new and more pretentious. All of the wankiness has disappeared from the columns, and is fast fading from the replies too. It’s like Dark Crystal, with the Skeksis being people who say things that wouldn’t get you punched in the nose in normal company.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Or just come back. Please actually do this! Actually do this, please.

        Please actuallly do thuis in 2013. Which is a thing that I can say now in 2013 now that it is 2-13. But not actually type apparently beacuae of reasons,

        Come back

  32. wiglaf says:

    Jade Empire. Because I’d probably enjoy playing it for the fist time again. And because it’s the end of 2012. It has a atmosphere of unconcerned, straightforward enjoyment, from a mythical time when Bioware still felt like a young upstart.

    • Paul B says:

      Funnily enough I got round to playing Jade Empire for the first time in 2012 and also completed KOTOR2 after a failed first attempt. Like you, I loved the straightforward nature of these games – there was something simple, light and fun about them – qualities which seem to be missing in BioWare’s latest epics. I actually enjoyed Jade Empire more then Mass Effect 3 this year.

      Sometimes the best games are those that have been collecting dust in your collection – I intend to get through a lot more of my huge Steam collection (the result of too many impulsive purchases in the sales) in 2013.

  33. Swanny says:

    I’ve got to get this Thirty Flights of Loving…thing. I hear how groundbreaking it is, and shit, now Kieron’s got a novel on it, and oh look, it’s on sale. Maybe it will break my FTL addiction.

    • jhng says:

      It won’t — it tickles very different buttons (buttons that are short, brilliant and Lynchian).

  34. U-99 says:

    DIABLO III was released this year. [period, paragraph break]


  35. Arglebargle says:

    What a nice read! We really don’t share similar game interests though. Except for Xcom, but my version should be called SuperCrash Xcom: Corrupt Savegame Defense. And Crusader Kings 2, especially with the Mad Modders there hard at work.

  36. Lacero says:

    Is there going to be a “Tracks of the Year 2012” ? Or have you worn your self out writing so many speech bubbles?

      • Lacero says:

        Thanks! Highlight of my year you know, I really appreciate the time you put into it. The listening as well as the writing.

      • JoeyJungle says:

        How could you cut Polica?! I live in Minneapolis (where their from) and saw their bass player at a show one night, I told him Polica was getting HUGE in the UK based solely off of your stream of tweets about them.

        Also Channy is so cute, why do you hate Channy? :(

  37. I Got Pineapples says:

    On the DotA 2 thing….

    Is LoL becoming the new WoW? The almost hilariously huge and successful game that we pretend doesn’t exis in favour of some tiny rival beloved of seriousmen?

    • Cinnamon says:

      I’ve never played either. Hotline Miami is more serious than WoW or LoL?

    • Urthman says:

      No, because League of Legends is a mind-blowingly popular multiplayer game (rivaling most of the rest of the video game industry put together) that is directly descended from Blizzard’s WarCraft, whereas WoW…

      (Neither of which should be confused with StarCraft, an enormously popular multiplayer game that is directly descended from…)

  38. colinmarc says:

    I remember when you wrote for RPS! Kieron, indeed! Hmph.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I remember things sometimes. Nurse, isn’t’ it past time for my medicine?

  39. guygodbois00 says:

    Interesting chap, Gillen. Although, for me, he will never top his PCG Deus Ex review.
    Ahhh, back when…

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I don’t think that review has ever been topped. Something like “stop. You are a lone gunman Pershing a sniper rifle off a building. You put a bullet I each of the guard dogs heads, ut you never did care much for dogs anyway”. Good stuff.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Oh also the Invisible War review just sayin’.

  40. jhng says:

    Hooray for Super Hexagon love!

  41. strangeloup says:

    Dota as “a machine for generating shitheads” is as perfect a description as I could hope for, and the essential reason I don’t play anything of the genre anymore. If I knew other folks who were just starting out, maybe, but most I ended up with in LoL, DOTA, whatever, had already completed the arseholification process. I’m actually considering a resolutely single-player 2013, after spending far too much of 2012 playing Team Fortress 2.

    Thank you as well for putting into far better words than I could muster why Hotline Miami and Super Hexagon have the same kind of feel, despite being very different styles of game. I knew there was something there but I couldn’t articulate it in any satisfactory way.

    As for Soldak’s stuff, I really wish I could like it. I have the full version of Depths of Peril from… somewhere, indie bundle maybe, but haven’t played it after Din’s Curse seemed, from the demo, to be Diablo divided by Neverwinter Nights and worse than either, and Drox Operative’s demo sent me through a random teleport five minutes after starting into a group of baddies five levels higer than me, so basically instadeath. For some reason as well — and it doesn’t even make much sense as I enjoy Spiderweb Software’s games immensely — the godawful graphics are a real turn-off.

  42. Rognik says:

    “The shocker with MASS EFFECT 3 was discovering that people actually did care about what was going on with the Reapers.”

    Are you referring to the drama over the ending? Because, if so, you have it entirely backwards. Indeed, no one gave a damn about the Reapers (more or less). The best parts of Mass Effect 3 (ie, curing the Genophage, making peace between the Geth and the Quarians) have very little to do with them.

    The problem was that the Reapers completely ruined everything that people actually did care about, all within the last five minutes of the game. Not just physical things like the Mass Relays, but also the themes that the series had established. Each of the three endings embodies something that the series tried to teach the player to hate: mind control, homogenization, and genocide.

  43. Sardukar says:

    Wait, -finished- a campaign of WFRP? And you not in a)college or b) prison? While writing some 1155 pages of written this year? I MUST KNOW HOW.

    Between my adult life, my friends adult lives and our respective spouses and children’s intersecting lives…getting more than three sessions into a WFRP game is a miracle, never mind finishing one.

    Was it a pre-written, such as TEW, ( with Slaaneshi..?) or Doomstones? Or did you set out into the unknown yourself?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It took a year and a half. About 30 sessions spread across that. All my own stuff.

      It’s 4th edition, so I leaned into all the components that came into it, and tended to create scenarios based around situations with moving parts which you then improvise around rather than much prior planning. I’ll say this – the sort of plotting and character skills that go with the job are helpful here. Improvise a character, write down their name, and then come back to them, etc.

      We actually kept a wiki for most of the campaign too:
      link to

      It misses the denouement.

      • Sardukar says:

        Hey, thanks for the link. I’ll check it out. haven’t played 4th – read some reviews, not too impressed with the board game conversion but not vehemently against it either.

        30 sessions across some 18 months..seems determination and persistence are key. Have to stop trying for once a week and hope for 1.5 times or so a month.

        Ah, adulthood.

  44. Pobblepop says:

    Cyrillic Mega-Biff, I rest my case sir.

  45. Saul says:

    The Walking Dead is game of the year.

  46. McDan says:

    Ah KG, you’re still gillen me with these jokes.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Some might have lost the touch, but he asgard it still.

      OK Norse myth punning is hard.

      • Guvornator says:

        Odin-arily I’d agree, but I’ve already Thor-t of some and I’m not a-Freya-d to use ’em*…

        *I can only apologise…

  47. Shockeh says:

    Let’s be clear about this, Mr Gillen.

    I would love to see you write more RPS. But if you don’t march back to Marvel now and demand they give you back Uncanny X-Men, I’m going to cry. Uncanny X-Force is the only thing holding a candle to it, and I don’t even begin to get where All New X-Men is going at the moment, with some of the characters giving some truly oddball lines that don’t fit at all.

    It’s not nice to diss your fellow writers, but seriously, your arc was just better, so come back to it. We need more Mr Sinister. :)

  48. BathroomCitizen says:

    KG, I miss you.

  49. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    Hey, Gillen, you were shit in Doctor Who!

  50. sinister agent says:

    I still haven’t played ME3, but I thought the Reapers were much more interesting and threatening in the first game, perhaps just up to the final showdown bit. They felt very diminished in the second game, and the revelation at the end already hint strongly enough that they’re going to turn over far too many stones for my liking. Ancient interdimensional evils should never be fully explained, y’know?

    Diablo III WAS released this year! God, I’ve been saying this to everyone for MONTHS. You have no idea how gratifying it is to see someone else agreeing for once.

    Anyway I like this new C-Monster guy, whoever he is.

    • Gap Gen says:

      This was my problem with BSG. Scary enemies were fully revealed, became less scary.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Anyway I like this new C-Monster guy, whoever he is.

      Old School!