I used to email Brendan regularly trying to offer him freelance work, and he’d always be too busy with other jobs. Little by little we got him doing more and more for us, though – a weekly free games column called Free Loaders here, a weekly Premature Evaluation there, a monthly Ridealong, and plenty more besides. Eventually I looked at our list of freelance commissions and took it to Jim. “We’re paying Brendan the equivalent of a yearly salary in freelance commissions,” I said. “Should we just hire him?” And so we did.
That was three years ago. Now Brendan is returning to the primordial freelance soup from whence he came. Come say farewell.
Brendan’s work has run the gamut, but I think you can reasonably split it into two broad categories. On one end you have in-depth, human looks at videogames and their communities, best typified by that aforementioned Ridealong series. In each entry, he’d climb inside a multiplayer game for a trip alongside one of its most experienced players. The journey would reveal wonderful truths about the games and the people who played them. Tell me that this, from ‘The last king of Wurm Online‘, does not make you want to read the rest of the article:
The man arrives, riding a white horse and clad in splendid armour. When I hover my mouse over the man, his username is accompanied by the title “Dragonslayer”. But his rare title and treasured armour is misleading. This shining knight lives on a tiny farm in the countryside. The horse he is riding is described by the game’s text as “fat” and “old”. And it isn’t even his horse. He has “borrowed” it from the village next to his farm, along with another fat foal and an old bull, which follow along behind him on a lead. Some might say Wossoo is a sorry sight, for a man who used to be King.
Every entry is a gem, but try these on the underground fight clubs of Dark Souls 3, long-distance expeditions in Elite: Dangerous, the ruins of Minecraft’s most offensive server, or the very first, on Arma 3 roleplaying mod Altis Life. These all rank among my favourite articles RPS has ever published. Prestige stuff, all of it.
The other half of Brendan’s work is what we affectionately refer to internally as “shitposts”. Posts, always funny, sometimes short, which write about particular games with tongue planted firmly in cheek. What’s important is that the posts themselves are affectionate – always born of one of Brendan’s genuine loves. They’re poppy morsels and by their nature ephemeral, but they capture the fun and silliness and joy of PC games in a way a lot of capital-A Articles do not.
The highs and lows of 30 years of Final Fantasy. An unstoppable urge to make horny lizard lads in Soul Calibur. Rating the outfits of Tekken, attempting to win a fight using a tuna fish, and visiting players as Santa. His many adventures in various skateboarding games, culminating either in this collection of Session GIFs or with him buying an actual skateboard and breaking his collarbone by falling off it three weeks ago.
RPS aspires to these kinds of posts as much as the prestige stuff. They’re the stuff of blogs – simultaneously irreverent and heartfelt and smart and funny. You can track this work all the way back to the first article of Brendan’s I ever read, on the many tanks of Tankfest.
In the past year or so, Brendan stepped up at RPS from staff writer to features editor, and I think you can see his influence in the freelance articles we’ve run in that time. Hopefully now he’s returning to the freelance life, you’ll still see him frequently on these pages – after his bones have mended.
For now, get in the comments, say farewell, and share your favourite examples of Brendan’s work. There’s loads I haven’t mentioned.