Category: Writing

31st March 2021
4 comments
Posted by:
/kəˈbal/, Part 3: The Society of Simon

The following is an extract from an article Alexis wrote decades ago, in 1996, for British roleplaying magazine Valkyrie. It’s juvenilia, and some bits make him wince – but it’s an insight into his early style and fiction which later became Fallen London, Sunless Sea and Cultist Simulator. [ Part 1, Part 2 ]

Read
19th March 2021
1 comment
Posted by:
Three Reviews of Games from the Year 2035

‘Press X to Cure Cancer’ was a much more topical gag in 2015, though not really a very good one even then. I probably shouldn’t try to be down with the kids.

Read
5th March 2021
6 comments
Posted by:
Three Reviews of Unreviewable Games

I borrowed the idea for this from Stanisław Lem, who wrote every entertaining and faultlessly straight-faced critical essays about nonexistent books he’d invented. Ramon Llull was real, though I’ve never been sure how to pronounce him.

Read
19th February 2021
7 comments
Posted by:
Building the Frontier

I didn’t talk about my own time in LambdaMoo, because that wasn’t really the point, but since you ask, I built a house in a very large mostly-dead dragon.  

Read
5th February 2021
no comments
Posted by:
The Labyrinth

What’s the difference between a labyrinth and a maze? The original, primal Labyrinth – the first in human history – the one from which all others derive – is of course Jim Henson’s 1986 David Bowie vehicle.

Read
22nd January 2021
no comments
Posted by:
How It Happened To Happen

Jack Cohen is a reproductive biologist who gives talks on speculative xenobiology. I once heard him explain how we had happened to evolve from a species of fish that kept its reproductive organs next to the pipes it used to eliminate waste from its body.

Read
4th December 2020
2 comments
Posted by:
Let’s Talk About Text

Story in games is a hot topic. But what about structure? How does the narrative form of a game influence its player’s experience?

Read
27th November 2020
6 comments
Posted by:
/kəˈbal/, Part 2: The Denied

The Denied are a small cult – perhaps two hundred in all, including children – most of whom live in a sizeable but remote village in Kurdistan.

Read
6th November 2020
8 comments
Posted by:
The Law of Boob

Every week I receive ICO Partners’ Steam newsletter. It’s a simple round-up of all the week’s latest Steam games, alongside their number of reviews and overall review score

Read
9th October 2020
2 comments
Posted by:
The Disappearance of Everything (or, Don’t Underestimate Bards)

There’s a concept in literature of the ‘oral tradition’, where stories spread by word of mouth rather than being written down.

Read
11th September 2020
2 comments
Posted by:
It’s (Not) the Real Thing

I’ve been playing Fallout 4’s Nuka-World DLC. Hoofing it through postapocalyptica with a customised robot companion and shooting raiders in the face has always been fun, but I was surprised to find that Nuka-World, though vast, actually felt constrictive.

Read
28th August 2020
2 comments
Posted by:
/kəˈbal/, Part 1: The Caldecotts

The following is an extract from an article Alexis wrote decades ago, in 1996, for British roleplaying magazine Valkyrie. It’s juvenilia, and some bits make him wince – but it’s an insight into his early style and fiction which later became Fallen London, Sunless Sea and Cultist Simulator. [ Part 2, Part 3 ]

Read
31st July 2020
4 comments
Posted by:
My Rainbow Double Moon Heartache: Where Are All The Magical Girls?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gamer in possession of even a few RPGs, visual novels or Nintendo titles is likely in love with Japan.

Read
3rd July 2020
2 comments
Posted by:
Moving the Pain Around: the Wonder and Weakness of Open Development

Open development is a godsend for indies.

Read
5th June 2020
2 comments
Posted by:
Open the Gameplay Doors Please, HAL

Much of human psychology is about control. David Hume described religion as a magical schema humans imposed on the world to control natural forces far more powerful than themselves.

Read
8th May 2020
4 comments
Posted by:
Too Cheap, Perchance, To Stream?

This is an ode to organic indie streaming strategies.

Read
13th March 2020
no comments
Posted by:
The Company Is Not Your Friend

I’ve heard a lot of studios describe themselves as ‘families’, and some studios do treat their people well (see ‘pragmatic reasons why you’d want to do that as a business’, above). But families fundamentally care about the people they are. Imagine your mum throwing her hands up in front of a spreadsheet and saying, ‘I’m afraid we have to let you go, dear. It’s just the...

Read
17th January 2020
1 comment
Posted by:
Game-Making’s Sense of Loss

At this chilly time of the year, when one calendar makes way for another, take solace in this.

Read