Month: September 2016

CULTIST SIMULATOR: Next Steps and Release Date

  BEHIND THE WORLD IS THE MANSUS. ITS CORRIDORS ARE THE ANGLES OF TIME. I spent my first month out of Failbetter building an alpha Javascript prototype of an experimental game, CULTIST SIMULATOR, to test out some mechanics and lore. My eerily insightful playtesters identified a lot of things that worked and a lot that could […]

Written by on September 29, 2016


THIS SCIENCE TUESDAY: There’s always something under the earth. In Camp Santo’s Firewatch, it’s a body in a cave. In John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, it’s the devil in a church. WHICH IS BETTER? VISUALS. Prince of Darkness has a terrifying green swirly thing and staticky tachyon messages and a bit where Alice Cooper stabs someone to death with […]

Written by on September 27, 2016


Six years ago, Roger Ebert wrote: “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.” Many of us have had many opinions on this assertion, and some of those opinions have not been stupid. I however am the […]

Written by on September 25, 2016

Steam: I was wrong, although right

Last week, I talked about Steam’s recent changes – (not including reviews in the review % if the copies were bought outside Steam) in my column. In the rest of this post, I’m going to call these changes ‘the Purge Update’ to make it clear what I’m talking about elsewhere. and speculated about some changes […]

Written by on September 24, 2016

Appreciating Open Sorcery

[I don’t write reviews, but I do like to point out things that worked well in games I’ve enjoyed.] Open Sorcery, from Abigail Corfman, is a mobile-app-wrapped Twine game where you play a sentient magical defence system. Twine was built to support branching narratives.Classic branching narratives without any game-hybrid elements are a bundle of special-case IF/ELSE […]

Written by on September 23, 2016

A Good Thing: The Fall

[I don’t write reviews, but I do like to point out things that worked well in games I’ve enjoyed.] The Fall is a side-scrolling point-and-click adventure from indie studio Over the Moon. You play the onboard intelligence of a power armour suit with an unconscious passenger, exploring a derelict installation populated by deranged machine intelligences. […]

Written by on September 22, 2016


  When I sold Failbetter, and went freelance, I said I wanted to learn about and experiment with different ways of approaching interactive narrative. So far, this is going well – I have a piece in the works for Choice of Games, I’ve written guest content for Paradox on Stellaris, and I’m building my own narrative-crafting hybrid experiment. […]

Written by on September 12, 2016

What I’ve just done to Stellaris: seven more things

I’m winding up a wagon-load of work on Paradox’s Stellaris. This is about what I wrote, and what I learnt while I was writing it. Paradox gave me a very open brief, but stories of unwise trespass and cosmic horror are what I’m known for – and that’s what I saw people anticipating in the comments here. So I’ve gone full-on […]

Written by on September 9, 2016


Anyone who has ever considered writing for a living will have heard Opinions about the Passive Voice. At the very least, they will be vaguely aware that the passive voice is considered sordid or sinister. I think it is pretty sinister, actually. Look how I just used the passive ‘is considered’ to shrug the belief off on […]

Written by on September 7, 2016

Why you should back the AdventureX Kickstarter

Oh, man, I love starting blog posts with a bit of arrant poncery. Buckle up. This is the opening to an Isaiah Berlin essay. (I originally wrote ‘an Irving Berling essay’, but fortunately corrected it before I exposed myself to lasting Internet ridicule.) “There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus […]

Written by on September 3, 2016