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Watch my voice

14 Feb

Players of the popular action-strategy video game and peculiar wealth creation exercise Dota 2 would do well to watch Tales From the Trench, a frequently hilarious play-by-play series commentated with infectious enthusiasm by a chap named Rusts. I suspect that is not his real name.

I’m obviously a big fan, partly because of the brilliant Twilight Zone-inspired sequence (which is actually more akin to Futurama’s The Scary Door) at the opening of each episode. Since I’m also a big fan of parody, Dota, writing, and apparently the sound of my own damn voice, I got in touch with Rusts to ask if I could contribute to a future episode with a voiceover of my own.

I could, I did, and the episode in question is now live!

As far as 27 seconds of talking goes, this was a hell of a lot of fun. I love writing pastiches, even if they aren’t my forte, and a game as complicated and characterful as Dota 2 lends itself perfectly to parody. There are a few places where I might have delivered a phrase differently, given another chance, but considering my normal speech consists mainly of shapeless mumbling, I think I gave it a decent crack.

Did I ever tell you about my food blog?

10 Jan

I don’t think I did!

Basically, about this time last year, I started having ideas above my station about learning to cook. Considering that I had, up until that point, been subsisting largely on Tesco sandwiches and McDonald’s, this was a matter of some importance. Of separate blog importance, in fact.

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The thinking was that if I had a blog to update, I’d have the motivation to keep cooking. Sadly, it didn’t quite work out; proper home cooking is prohibitively expensive for a young single man renting in London, and – let’s be honest – the thought that I’d feel obliged to update a blog demonstrates a clear failure in pattern recognition. Still, I got a good twelve recipes in before coldly leaving it to perish, and other than some slight regret about the unnecessary profanity, I’m actually pretty happy with the texts within.

Without further ado, then, I present The Slow Roast, pages one and two. By James Archer. Age 24.

Stealth Bastard Deluxe hands-on/interview

26 Mar

I’ll be honest: I’ve kind of gotten really fucking terrible at maintaining this blog. With that in mind, I have some good news: I’ve decided to use this blog to whore myself and my writings like never before. I promise.

For starters, I’m actually updating that Features sidebar on the right there, with a combination of stuff and things that even I think aren’t that bad. First off, here’s a hands-on preview of Stealth Bastard Deluxe – which also includes an interview with lead dev Jonathan Biddle – I did for BeefJack last year.

Stealth Bastard Deluxe 2

Interviews continue to be a glowing yellow weak spot pulsating on the surface of my confidence, but I’d say I did alright with this one. I was determined to wrangle at least one truly new bit of info out of a developer who’d been doing the pre-release promotion ‘thing’ for a while by then, and – judging by what did and didn’t appear in my pre-interview research – I ended up with several.

It’d be fun to do more.

PC Gamer Review: Scribblenauts Unlimited

26 Mar

Here’s another largely unneccessary post that exists solely to link to my Scriblenauts Unlimited review that went on up PC Gamer’s site earlier this month. Hooray!

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I also covered The Showdown Effect, but I’m not quite sure it deserves Featured status as much. For one, it has a lot more comments than Scribblenauts, so since I’m too much of a fat crying baby to read my own comment threads I’ll assume more people thought it sucked and that I’m corrupt.

Hey everyone, look how much I’m in PC Gamer UK again

31 Jan

PCG249.cover_subs-610x841

Specifically, two-and-a-half whole pages of this most delightful (and red!) of PC gaming magazines were written/screenshotted by my own fair hands. Therefore, it’s totally worth paying six quid for your own copy, then perhaps framing the two reviews I did in it on your wall or something. They are, and feature such sentences as, the following:

Air Buccaneers “Most ship-on-ship battles are surprisingly pacey, with crews racing to load and fire their cannons while cursing the captain – who’s probably trying to perform evasive manoeuvres with a vehicle the size of a cottage – for not keeping her steady. Every cannonball volley has to be deliberate and adjusted for height and distance, and it’s this total non-reliance on freakish twitch skills which makes sinking en enemy vessel an immensely satisfying experience.”

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams“This is a hard game. And that’s fine – even when roughly half of it looks like the Ages 5-7 section of a Toys ‘r’ Us, you could never accuse Twisted Dreams of dumbing things down. But it’s hard to enjoy the rare triumphs when they’re punctuated by deeply tedious boss fights, trial-and-error acrobatics sequences and checkpointing that lurches between moderately generous and diabolically cruel.”

What the fudge I’ve been doing recently

11 Dec
  • Cutting down on profanity!
  • Writing for PC Gamer! I’ve been on a steady drip-feed of review commissions for the UK print edition, in what I’m fairly sure is some kind of test to prove my worth, loyalty and fertility. Right now it’s only going to be a source of some extra pocket change, but it’s both immensely satisfying and ever-so-slightly terrifying to be doing paid work at a professional level. Christ, is this what becoming a man feels like?
  • Stopped writing for BeefJack! Well, news posts anyway – I wouldn’t object if they kicked in my email inbox with long-form stuff, but a combination of time pressures, PCG work and the fact that pumping out news for four hours straight just isn’t that fun led to me deciding it was time to move on. I’m still grateful, perhaps even grateful as balls, for all the writing opportunities Lewis & co. gave me, and you should all go over there and give them hits.
  • University! Third year’s peculiar but passionate love affair with choose-your-own research projects has allowed me to wrangle Cardiff’s Journalism BA into a course that actually has something to do with journalism, which most previous modules…well, one of them was basically about Bruce Lee. Sometimes I wonder whether going here was a good choice, considering I’m a writer rather than a researcher, but then I remember that most other places would probably have me trying to operate a boom mic or something. The hell with boom mics.
  • Seeing Muse at the O2 Arena! Excellent stuff. The 2nd Law is probably the first Muse album I didn’t love during its first month or so after release, but something about their live performances has changed for the better – more energetic, less rigid, far, far sillier. If you’d asked me during the Black Holes era whether Matt Bellamy would ever dive into the gap between crowd and stage and start thrusting the microphone into the vocal range of two dozen sweating fangirls, I probably wouldn’t have answered “Yes, and it’ll actually work.”
  • Playing Videogames! Of course I fudging did.

BULLET POINTS

23 May

Absurdly quick roundup, because bed:

  • The Avengers was incredible. Admittedly I’d walked in hoping for, but not expecting to  receive, The Adventures of Tony Stark and Friends, but therein lies the film’s brilliance – each lead has enough individual moments of either sheer, usually violent heroism or understated hilarity that it’s impossible to waste effort picking a favourite. I still haven’t seen, nor am I still likely to see, the Hulk prequel, but his scene with Loki alone was enough to elevate him to ‘Almost As Fun As Robert Downey Jr.’ in my really-not-qualified-be-a-film-critic eyes.
  • Speaking of criticism, I reviewed Tribes: Ascend over at Gaming Daily. In hindsight I might have been  bit harsh on the turtling/defensive aspects; circumventing them takes practice, but is possible, and in some cases has actually made my flag-capturing attempts far more tense – and thus more rewarding to pull off. Still detest turrets, though.

  • Over on BeefJack, meanwhile, I had a look at free mortify-em-up Raptus and previewed Crysis 3. Sadly, only two of my three ‘cry-‘ puns made the cut in the latter, which means it’s only two-thirds as informative, witty and transcendent as it could have been. Still, I’m quite pleased with it – I wanted to make it partly about the series as a whole without drawing on tedious ‘1 vs. 2’ tantrums which seem to show up whenever a Crysis sequel is mentioned on a site with longer comment threads than ours.
  • Unforgivably, I’ve only seen four episodes of Adventure Time. This is the fifth-worst situation to be in once you’re aware it exists, and I plan to use the summer break to catch up, but you don’t need to be a longtime fan to enjoy this stunning and sweet songification: