Get your first month for £1 (normally £3.99) when you buy a Standard Rock Paper Shotgun subscription. Enjoy ad-free browsing, our monthly letter from the editor, and discounts on RPS merch. Your support helps us create more great writing about PC games.See more information
Supporters only: Toddlers & Games: How Soon Is Too Soon?
Little girls and guns
The time is almost here. My little girl will be three in May, and already she's capable of a dexterity and understanding I never believed possible during the long, dark months of screaming, feeding every twenty minutes and dropping every single meal all over the floor. (Granted, an ear infection means she's spent the last week essentially regressed by about a year and doing most of that stuff all over again; I haven't left the house since Sunday because she's been clamped to my leg the whole wile, and every single word I've written this week has been with her on my lap and to the gunshot-disruption soundtrack of wracking coughs. Don't have kids if you want to have a life).
She's increasingly aware, too, that sometimes I'm playing games when I'm shut away in my work room, and sometimes she wants to watch.
Supporters only: Pipwick Papers
Diets, duvets and doctors
A small but hopefully interesting Pipwick this week. I'm supposed to be playing Oxenfree and responding to my inbox but let's just take a minute for some reading about things that aren't game. I won't tell if you don't...
Supporters only: The Videogame Accountant
Does that game deserve your money?
Can you afford that game? Should you wait for a sale? How much is too much? We all need to make difficult purchasing decisions every day, which requires a lot of painful thought. How can you be truly sure that the game you're buying is worth the money, and that you couldn't better place your hard-earned cash with a more deserving creator or entertainment product?
Good news! We've taken the "decision" out of "purchasing decision" for you. Just take this handy quiz and you'll find out once and for all whether that game in front of you is one to buy.
Supporters only: Puzzle Game: Find The Cucumber
So here's a short puzzle game based on recent real-life events: Find the cucumber.
That isn't an innuendo. I lost two slices of cucumber while on a flight and am now accepting solutions to the problem of what happened.
Supporters only: In Defence Of Random Number Generation
The Drama Of The Dice
I mentioned this in passing during my review of dice-in-space game Tharsis, but right now there's an awful lot of discussion about the worth or otherwise of random number generation in games. Really, it's a debate about whether the player has absolute control or the game does, and as with many public-facing game design discussions, I'm seeing a fair amount of absolutism. RNGs are good or RNGs are bad, end of discussion. I'm somewhere in the middle, and I'm going to let Arnold Rimmer tell you why.
Supporters only: What Should I Be Playing This Weekend?
You tell me.
I've already written my 'What Are You Playing This Weekend' entry for tomorrow, but it doesn't include a PC game. That's because I'm currently between games, so to speak, and uninspired by the many available to me.
Maybe you can help? I currently have 54 games installed through Steam, some of which I've played and some of which I haven't. Which of them should I boot this weekend?
Supporters only: Tiny Robot: More Sneaky Android Reviews
Phoning it in
I remember when Christmas holidays meant so much PC games. This holiday break I barely entered my study. The cruelty of grown up life. But I shall not let the horror of a family prevent me from gaming, NO SIR. So it is that I've been phone clasped in hand for so much of the break. And there's been one game that's dominated.
It's the last Pipwick Papers of the year (although one or two will go up over Christmas so that might make me look like a liar). I've been travelling a lot as per usual but I've managed to squeeze in a tiny bit of non-games reading so here are some highlights:
Supporters only: Thoughts On The Steam Controller, Three Months On
I've had a Steam Controller for almost three months now. I suspect my total usage of it during that time totals about four hours.
The thing frustrates me deeply, and not because it's bad as such, but because it feels so tantalisingly close to achieving what it intended to, only to bungle it with bizarre decisions.
Supporters only: Real Life Adventure Gaming: Bath Escape
Point & Touch
Late as I am to all fads, I only recently learned of the popularity of real-life room escape games. Presumably fuelled by the success of mobile games like The Room and its many copycats, and just that the idea is really damned cool, opportunities are springing up all over the world to be locked in strange buildings packed with esoteric puzzles. Last weekend, at Bath Escape, I played one for the first time.
Supporters only: Beans, Bacon, Pogo Sticks: Memories Of Commander Keen
Commander Keen is 25 years old today. A quarter of a century. The sci-fi platformer was the first id Software game that I played and I still remember it fondly. Quite how well those memories match up with the actual game is unclear; I haven't played it for at least twenty years. Below you will find my memories of Commander Keen. I have done no research at all to confirm that these memories are factual.
Supporters only: Death To The Retrospective
The present will become tomorrow's forgotten past.
There are almost no games released before 2000 that it's still important to play.
Supporters only: Aquascaping And Underwater Beauty
Under the seeeeeea
This week was supposed to be a Pipwick Papers but I enjoyed looking into Japanese Spider Crabs in a bit more depth last week so I thought I would do something similar this week.
(For Pipwick fans here is a potential secret chamber in Tutankhamun's tomb, a Twitter bot that reworks photos in the style of famous artists, a gallery of Krampuses... Krampii?)
Supporters only: Getting Used To Sub-Par Hardware
I've just hired a (very small, very squalid, very cold) office with a couple of other (non-RPS) writers, as cabin fever was taking a heavy toll after almost of a decade of working from home. I couldn't afford a new gaming PC for it, and I didn't want to lock my home one away there at evenings and weekends, so I've compromised. I say 'compromised', but really I've been incredibly lucky. One of my pseudo-colleagues had a not entirely old PC they didn't really use as they've got a flashy laptop too, so it's now sat under my desk, its old school mechanical hard drive chuntering away noisily but otherwise sitting fairly pretty with Windows 10.
Gaming is another matter. I have entered a new world.
Supporters only: Urbanphobia In RPGs
A city means the end of the simple life
I get this knot in my stomach at around one-third of the way into any RPG. I know what’s coming: it almost always does around about then. I’ve been happily following gentle questlines, roaming across open countryside and being glad to bump into one or two traders here and there, but now the time has come: time to go to a city, and everything will change.
Supporters only: DevLog Watch: The Best Kind Of Morally Reprehensible
The Best GIFs Of In-Progress Games
Two in one month! You are positively spoiled for DevLog Watches nowadays. Want a source of in-development GIFs for games that may be weeks old, may never be finished, may never be any good? That's what I've got for you below.
Supporters only: I Never Finished Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
Out of respect, not laziness
I've played almost all of it three times. But I've never finished it. Never felt especially compelled to, either. I think my life - or, at least, my fond memories of Troika's beloved but shonky modern-gothic RPG - is better because I have always left it incomplete.
It is Tuesday. The people who live next door have been drilling and sawing and sanding and hammering for about two weeks now on the other side of the wall where I have to work. I need my PC, I can't put it anywhere else. My Google history is littered with things like "How long does hammering take I mean really" and "It is anti-social to start using a bandsaw at 8.30am right?" #Pray4Pip. Anyway, here are some other things unrelated to games which might be more fun to hear about - it's strongly art-themed this week!
Supporters only: Why I Love Tate Mode In Downwell
Like going from 4:3 to widescreen.
Supporters only: Please Stop Releasing Lovely New Surfaces, Microsoft
Important: please bear this article in mind while reading the following.
I've long been keen on Microsoft's Surface Pro range of tablet/laptop hybrids, which are incongruously well-designed given they abstractly come from the same company that makes the aesthetically horrible Xboxes. The trouble is that they're chasing that sweet Apple dollar and keep updating them. Then I desperately want the new one but cannot possibly afford it unless I embrace a life of debt in order to lay hands on higher resolution screens, better battery life and marginally improved integrated graphics. And this time, the heartless bastards have only gone and announced two new types of Surface.
Supporters only: Oh How I Wish I Could Play Space Games
I just haven't got space.
I really want to play space games. I love the idea of space games! A little ship, a lot of space, and the freedom to go where you want, take on the missions you choose, be a goodie or baddie, trader or pirate... It sounds so great. So why is it whenever I try to play any of them, within about half an hour I'm trying to fly my ship into the side of a planet?
This weekend was a hectic one but it did involve navigating TFL planned engineering works so there was some time for reading and catching up with the internet. Here are a selection of links from the last few days from Star Wars to sexy emoji!
Supporters only: Interview: An Unedited Transcript Of My 80 Days Chat
How interviews are made
Earlier this week we published my interview with the creators of 80 Days. It was published shortly after the game was released on PC, is 3426 words long, and I asked exactly five questions.
The interview was actually conducted back in March, before the game was announced for PC, in a Mexican restaurant near the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco. In reality, I didn't ask some of those questions featured in the piece linked above. The questions I did ask were in a different order. The complete length of my transcript is 7867 words and includes longer discussion of the game's design, specifically as relates to the UI and the PC port. You can find the full thing below.
Here's a little supporter post link roundup to read with an afternoon cup of tea. There's colour name weirdness, overwhelming art installations, musings on octopus consciousness and Playboy's disappearing nudes:
Supporters only: Some Crumbly Thoughts About Games And Bake Off
Last night, I watched the final of the Great British Bake Off. Don't worry, I won't spoil anything about what happened. Suffice to say, I was weepy at about halfway, and I cried at the end.
Then I watched My Neighbour Totoro, a film I've seen twice before but not in many years. I got a bit weepy at that, too.
Then I felt a bit sad about videogames.
Supporters only: The Fine Art Of Terrible Game Descriptions
Yoghurt barn stapler
One of my favourite things to do of a working day is browse the new releases on Steam for the worst game descriptions I can find. No, YOU procrastinate too much. And boy, there's always a fine selection to choose from. But why should I only share my seemingly mean mocking of people whose first language probably isn't English* with just the RPS chat, when I could do it here?
Supporters only: The Pipwick Papers
Read all about it!
This edition of Pipwick comprises "things I saw as I did esports coverage and bookmarked for reading in bed" so it's not SUPER WORDY but there are videos of killer snail makeup faces and Rose from Titanic is a murderer.