Monday, September 19, 2011

Excuses, Excuses

Pictured: a smoking dog that is somehow not a French poodle

Two months? Two MONTHS since I last posted here?

I know, okay? I know. No excuse. Even for me.

Still. Haven't been idle this whole time, I promise. In fact, the main reason I haven't kept up with the blog is because I've been busy writing for other folks.

Voila, the obligatory rundown!

At Kill Screen, I interviewed Greg Kasavin, creative director at Supergiant Games, makers of my favorite game of this year, Bastion. It's not surprising that Bastion turned out so well, given the talent, smarts, and heart of the Supergiant team, most of whom I was fortunate to meet at PAX East. I have a lot more to say about Bastion, but I'll reserve that for a future post—one that will be positively riddled with spoilers, no doubt.

This sobering meditation on death and suicide in games, "Life After Death," was first drafted back in late April but kicked around in multiple incarnations until it finally went up at KS in late July. The finished product features an amazing illustration by Daniel Purvis and some invisible, but crucial, editing by Ryan Kuo. Karoshi is a curious game on a number of levels. It scared me probably way more than it should have.

I also reviewed an iOS game with the preposterous title Zombie Gunship for the site. I wrote this piece shortly after KS announced it was no longer assigning scores to reviews. It might be for this reason, or because I was particularly invested in my angle, or because I knew my editors support pieces that take risks—but writing this one was, I dunno, liberating. I fear I undersold the game itself, which is good fun. But if you grew up watching Gulf War I (my God. Gulf War One.) unfold on network TV like I did, it's hard to shake the odd feeling of deja vu.

Speaking of risk-taking, how about this in-character review of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine I co-wrote with Battle-Brother Rob Zacny for Paste. I don't have to tell you, faithful fellow servant of the Emperor, how much fun this one was.

Last month Paste also published my review of Toy Soldiers: Cold War, an XBLA title that builds on the strengths of its predecessor. Be sure to click on the comments to see an amazing defense of Weird Al in response to my offhand reference. (For the record, I love Weird Al too and agree that he's an outstanding musician, commenter dude—but it's hard to argue he's not seen as a novelty act.)

Whew. On to Gamers With Jobs? Told you I've been busy.

Back in May (May! Sheesh.), I contributed this piece on the new Mortal Kombat's final boss, Shao Kahn. Are fighting game bosses always broken? Maybe. But it's still interesting that for all the refinements Netherrealm made to the MK formula—the reboot is probably the best game in the series—they still fell back on the old "cheap-ass final boss" trope. I wonder if people would be disappointed if they hadn't.

In June, Mrs. JPG and I had a lovely holiday in London, kicked off by a surreal jetlagged visit to a (since-defunct!) Piccadilly Circus arcade called Funland. I wrote up the experience here.

July saw another long-dormant article published. "Right Here, Right Now" argues that now may be the best time ever to be a gamer. It also features probably the best header image I've ever found. I mean, just look how much fun Marv is having! Where would you rather be, indeed.

Last month, Rob and I attended our second GameLoop Boston. I wrote up some notes last year, but Rob and I decided to divide and conquer at this year's event, which was again a great time. Our roundup lives here.

Every Friday, GWJ features a column called Fringe Busters that highlights small independent games in 250-word blurbs. It's a terrific way to highlight games that tend to fly under the radar. Most are excellent conversation-starters. I've profiled two: the satirical "god game" Let There Be Smite!, made by my Kill Screen colleague Pippin Barr; and Symon, a beautiful, melancholy point-and-click game from my pals at GAMBIT.

Finally, I was a guest on last week's GWJ Conference Call, where I made some stupid Warhammer jokes and had a lot of laughs while Julian, Sean and Rob unleashed their fury on the abomination that is the JRPG.

And that's the list! I do have a few things in the works for this here humble blog, I swear. Stay tuned?

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