December Dreadlines…


After 11 months of saying how busy I am, I finally had a quiet month. That’s because I deliberately turned away a lot of work in December so that I could focus on other stuff and have a jolly old Christmas instead. That meant I had time to catch up with old friends, see my nephew and get some decent walking done on the moors. It turns out that some of my friends had even listed to Unlimited Hyperbole – they described it as ‘about as pretentious as I expected of you‘.

Now the quiet period is over though, I’m back in London and working on stuff full time again – which means it’s time to look back on what I did last month, as well as how 2012 went as a whole.

There’ll be minimal grumpiness, I promise.

While December may have been a quiet month I did actually manage to get some work done and spend some time on personal projects. The new season of Unlimited Hyperbole is already in production and we’ve got some great interviews in the bag, for example. There’s one in particular which I’m really excited about – one of my childhood heroes talking about a sequel he never got to develop and what it was like working with Douglas Adams.

Talking of childhood heroes, one of my bigger pieces this year was a feature I did for Custom PC Magazine on top of my usual reviews and column. It’s a sort of profile of Monkey Island developer Ron Gilbert, combined with a hands-on preview of The Cave. It goes over what his influences are, the themes he commonly expresses in his work and some of the design decisions that shaped The Cave. It should be hitting shelves shortly.

Chatting to Ron about that sort of stuff was a pretty special experience for me, I’ll be honest. I’m a big fan of Monkey Island and have been for years, so getting a chance to  challenge him on a few things was great. It was actually something I wrote down on a list of goals I made when I first started full-time journalism years ago, along with interviewing Warren Spector and writing for PC Gamer. This year I managed to tick off the last few original items on that list.

That’s not to say that I’ve accomplished everything I want though. The list is constantly growing and, while I’ve also ticked off other stuff this year (‘Attend international show as a freelancer’, ‘Write for Gamasutra’), there’s still lots to do.

The Gamasutra piece was another bit I got accomplished this month, actually. I just finished writing a piece on the philosophy of AI development for them, which should hopefully be going up shortly.

You never know though; my interview with Warren Spector months ago ultimately led me to write a piece for Eurogamer that’s only just been published – The Deleted Scenes of Deus Ex, based on the original design document. Again, getting my hands on that was pretty amazing as it lays out an entirely different story and design for what’s now held to be one of the best games ever made. The version I got was even covered in Spector’s own notes!

On top of these highlights though, December was also business as usual – so there was my usual array of articles done for Bit-tech and Custom PC. This month my CPC column discusses the problem of hipster game journalism and anti-popularism, while Bit-tech had me curate the Game of the Year stuff on top of the usual reviews. Surprisingly, the community voted The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition as their favourite by quite some margin.

When I look back on 2012 though, my feelings aren’t so clear-cut. I may have done lots of stuff I’m proud of, such as the games and book I worked on, but I also had lots of misery thanks to prolonged and explosive family dramas – not to mention the stress of actually becoming freelance again.

So, rather than dwelling on either the good or the bad stuff, I think I’d rather focus on just moving forward. There’s  still plenty of things left to tick off my list.

Image: Steam Postcards

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