Author Archive

Mod Creation For Idiots (By An Idiot)

Ah, Jo Parkes, who was always kind of side-lined in Cassandra and I'll probably use for something else eventually. Also note the AB-originated culture-referencing texture bombard

Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 142-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Kieron’s look at his experiences working on Deus Ex mod Cassandra Project, originally written for PC Format and published on these pages with revisions in September 2008.

The decision to do a mod is the first step. It’s also, by far, the easiest. From then on, you’re entering a painful world of hurting to strive to create something that, in all possibility, will never be finished or be completely ignored by the community. These are general rules that I’ve learned from my own time theoretically being in a mod team. I felt the pain so, ideally, you shouldn’t have to. Or rather unnecessary pain – no matter what you do, you’re going to carry your own scars.

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The Sunday Papers

Next the Chaos Retrospective piece, probably, except not.

Sundays are for heroic dwarfs entering the gold-filled lair of the sleeping malevolent dragon of games journalism, and awaking it, saying it’s the 300th anniversary of the Sunday Papers, and whether it would deign to rise up one last time and scour the earth with its fiery prose and/or compiling a list of the finest recent writing (mostly) about games. And the Dragon did rise up, and its wings blotted out the sun, and it said “Okay – as long as I can get it done before I finally get around to going to see the Hobbit this afternoon.” And the Dwarfs said “Sure.” And the Dragon said “Great, let’s do that then.”

  • I was in Venice last weekend, and rather reading Mann’s Death In Venice as I planned to on the journey, I couldn’t turn away from Leigh Alexander’s Breathing Machine: A Memoir of Computers. Well, I could, but only when the turbulence got a bit crazy and I had to have a little cry. It’s a short e-book, which you can buy in all the usual places. Gamasutra ran an excerpt if you need a taste, but if you’re reading the Sunday Papers, I suspect you’re already clicking buy and I’m speaking to thin air. Come back, you fuckers. It’s Leigh writing precisely and beautifully of the coming of age of herself and the consumer information age. Also, lots of text adventure chat.
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Hearthstone: Heroes Of Warcraft Beta Impressions


First impressions: Hearthstone: Heroes Of Warcraft is an impressively crap name.

Fantasy games with terrible titles have a long and noble history, but Blizzard’s Warcraft collectible card game boasts a particularly wonderful example. The classical NOUN COLON SOMETHING AND/OF SOMETHING structure is adhered to, but this is an almost gleefully bad noun. You have to go some to find a word they could have used that could be worse, without obviously taking the piss. I keep on checking it to see if my word-blindness has got it wrong, and it’s HEARTSTONE or something, which while terrible, at least seems to be trying a little mythology. But no, it’s hearthstone. A stone, in the hearth. I mean, I presume it’s some very important part of Blizzard’s reheating of Games Workshop’s reheating of all the people who reheated Tolkien, but just because everyone in the world has played your previous game you can’t assume that anyone in the world actually read any of the quest text.
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The Sunday Papers

Oh God. I'm actually using Internet explorer to write this. INTERNET EXPLORER. The world is mad. Jim owes me bad, he really does.
Sundays are for wondering why you sent Jim a link to a story last night, prompting him to mail asking you to do the Sunday Papers tomorrow as Walker and he are on planes. Still – probably worth Jim owing you a favour, so you talk your parents’ barely functional PC into accessing the RPS WordPress back-end and see if you can collate a few of the finer pieces of games-related reading from across the week for the RPS readers’ entertainment and try not pay tribute to two awesome pop bands who took their final bow this week in a cheery attempt to annoy those terminally addicted to invigorating drone.

  • This week Apple decided to pull Sweatshop from the Apple Store, as they viewed its educational approach towards the issue of sweatshops as somehow inappropriate. Designer Simon Parkin writes about his experiences over at The Guardian. Frankly, this sort of bullshit happens whenever you hand a curatorial role over to a fucking corporation. The main reason I’m always as pro-PC as I have been is because of that. You cannot trust a corporation with that kind of control of an artform.
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Wot I Think: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

You got a Sword? You got a Sworce? Then let's GET IT ON.
Let’s be prosaic to begin with. Sword & Sworcery EP is the result of a collaboration between Superbrothers, CAPY and musician Jim Guthrie. It’s converted lovingly from its initial Apple phoney-paddy-thing format last year, where it was very well thought of. It’s a graphic adventure which stresses atmosphere and style over traditional puzzles. I like it. You probably will too.

I’m being prosaic, because I’m just about to go off on a 500-word micro-essay tangent. I’ll get back to Sword & Sworcery EP eventually. Trust me. And if you’re interested in the game, you better get used to that. You’re in journey-over-destination territory.
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Eurogamey Writey: Saints Row The Third

I moved house this year, away from a similar neighbourhood to this.

I’m just pulling together some rambly thoughts about my year in games for the site. Which reminds me that I wrote about one of my faves for Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell over at EG towers, and makes me think I could link to it as an aperitif or something. And I totally can. Lots on Saints Row: The Third and yours truly. I didn’t even get into my apostrophe confusion, which could be another couple of thousand words, but would be less sex obsessed.

ErotiSim: Sex & The Sims

Then bite and tear her flesh away. That's the way to do it..

More from the archives, this time a 2007 piece on the dark eroticism inherent in The Sims, penned by the sorely-missed RPS co-founder and giant of words Kieron Gillen.

It was the phone calls that made me certain. The Sims was going to cross over, one way or another.

I worked in a cramped games magazine office for just shy of five years. There were only three times that we really knew the eye of a media mini-storm was circling somewhere above us. We knew we were being watched at those moments, because every time we answered the phone the same questions came from different missionaries from the Real World Media. The first and biggest spike in calls was part of the fallout of 9/11 when every journalist in the world needed to ask us whether Counter-Strike or Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear or Microsoft Flight Simulator could be used to train terrorists to take over commercial airliners. Majestic, prompting the second and smallest peak, was publisher Electronic Arts’ great failure – a reality-blurring attempt to commercialise the alternate-reality game before anyone really knew what an alternate-reality game was, which bombed in the States and was never released in Europe. The third was sparked by The Sims, Electronic Arts’ great success and one of the most popular and groundbreaking games of recent times.
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Roguelike Radio: The Binding of Isaac

I'm even repurposing a screenshot. I'm so fucking lazy!

Hullo! I used to write on this site, and then I got very tired. I sleep most the day now. It’s nice. When I’m sleeping, I get my nurse to play podcasts. This is my favourite games podcast in ages. Roguelike Radio is a Roguelike-centric podcast which plays a different one every couple of weeks and does a show about it. In this case, however, they’ve got Edmund McMillen on to talk about Binding of Isaac. And it’s so brilliant, I almost managed to stand up. But my legs failed, and I was left sprawling hopelessly on the floor. I wish I had working legs and a functioning penis, though that’s probably too much information. But honestly, unless my critical faculties are as rusty as my cog-powered cock, this is a genuinely brilliant, wide-ranging interview about McMillen’s latest. Go listen! Meanwhile, I’m going to have a little lie down. Bye!

Not Cardboard Children: Quinns & Not Quinns

There is nothing more sinister than men who play cardgames in bed. Nothing.
As Rab mentioned between Manifestoing last time, he’s away on holiday at the mo. Now, I could have done a post about my attempt to paint and assemble 70-odd Mantic Elves via industrial dipping techniques, except that’d i) take away time which I’d rather use to paint and assemble the 70-odd elves and ii) it’s a lot of work, and I’m retired, don’t you know. Instead, let’s the board-game coverage a-coverage-ing by linking to the latest Quinns & Paul’s Shut Up And Sit Down, which you’ll find below. They cover Dominion, 7 Wonders and Nightfall. Hurrah!
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The Sunday Papers

Sundays for Jim are for holidaying. You can easily imagine Jim’s holiday destinations. Him, backpack over-shoulder, wandering a desolate wasteland, poking at decaying iron superstructures or even sitting my a drying pool tainted with radioactive waste. He’s having the time of his life, wandering nonlinearly in a place where any sane being would just want out of. Meanwhile, I sit and arrange a reading list of (mainly) fine game-related readings that crossed my path across the week and try not to do the fucking obvious and link to a new Los Campesinos! record or something.

  • You’ll be aware of the Gizmodo Ugh!-I-was-tricked-into-a-date-with-a-Magic-Player furore recently. I just rolled my eyes, thinking it basic click-bait and knew that other people – like the always-good Sarah Jaffe – point out the obvious. So Geordie Tait’s extended piece To My Someday Daughter was fascinating. While the conceit may be a note mawkish – I’ll admit, it almost lots me with the first couple of paragraphs before getting to the first of the very many things it’s about – it’s an interesting analysis of a culture’s response and geek culture in general. Take time to read this one.
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Bioshock Infinite: Gillen vs Levine


Since abandoning sitting in my underpants writing games journalism for the glittering world of sitting in my glittery underpants writing comics, it takes a lot to get me out of bed. That said, it always took a lot to get me out of bed. I’m lazy. However, a chance to chat to Irrational’s creative director Ken Levine about all things Bioshock Infinite counts as something that’ll have me tearing the duvet asunder. So when I was asked to do it, I – er – did it.

And then it was transcribed into written words…

Frozen Synapse: Beating Mike Gapper

DIE MIKE GAPPER! DIE!

There is more to Frozen Synapse than beating fellow games-journalist Mike Gapper, but I figure that’s as good an entrance point as any into its work of turn-based-tactical-manoeuvring. In lieu of a Verdict or a WIT or something, I figured I could try and explain some of the details of the game which make it so appealing to me, by yabbering over some video footage. Without a script. Or a plan. So, I set my newly-registered copy of FRAPS rolling and talked about the game. Go yabber! Go yabber beneath the cut!
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Russian Novel “Unfinished”

The oddest thing about writing this story was googling for a picture of Gogol and discovering he's a total spitting image of Him From Gogol Bordello. How curious.

Boo! Boo! And thrice-boo! Why must we gentlemen be fobbed off with literature that emerges from the land of the Tsar in a state that can only be described as unfinished? Clearly, this is a problem here at the heart of Her Majesty’s empire too – no, Mr Dickens. It’s not episodic! you’ve just not finished writing the bally thing yet! – but it’s all the more onerous in the Russian texts, where we deal with shoddy translations and… oh, let’s not avoid the main issue any longer. We all know the prime offender. One is talking Gogol. One is talking Dead Souls. One is getting so furious that the most extensive application of brandy can’t steady my nerves.
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The Sunday Papers

Delightful Fiance says YOU BETTER NOT BE DOING THIS NEXT WEEK.

Don’t call it a comeback. Please don’t. Basically, Jim’s Sunday Papering has been scuppered by the fact someone’s apparently stole his laptop. Some people really need drills in their eyes, eh? Which leaves me to dust off the old WordPress login and compile a list of the fine (mostly) games related reading from across the week, while trying to link to some Jim-esque ambient noise rather than some girls singing in half-harmony about fanzines and blu-tack. Go!

The Very Important List Of PC Games, Part 5/5

Lessons.
As a retired don in the great university of the bedroom, I wasn’t expecting to be aroused by Professor Rossignol. Later, I was also disturbed when he woke me up, demanding that I spout some waffle on the importance of some games none of the current faculty really felt able to talk about with confidence. Of course, with my famous arrogance, I felt confident to talk confidently about anything, and damn the fellow who says otherwise.

The rest of the faculty’s chosen games may be found here. Oh, and I see those Intel chaps sponsored the whole thing! They certainly do have a sense for the purposes of ballyhoo.
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