The Unlimited Hyperbole Podcast

Unlimited Hyperbole is a games podcast I created with Harriet Jones and which ran from 2012 to 2015. The show was created to explore the games industry in a new and provocative way, using a series of creative restrictions.

Every season of Unlimited Hyperbole features five episodes, each approaching the central topic in a different way. Episodes are 15 minutes long, trimmed from much longer interviews to preserve focus.

Update: Unlimited Hyperbole is no longer available. There are three episodes I’ve managed to save via the community, but the rest were lost thanks to a friends’ poor data preservation efforts. Remaining links are below, for posterity. 

Special Episode – ‘What Would You Change?’
2014 Christmas Special: Various Guests
Season Four – ‘The One That Got Away’
Episode 1: Prof. Brian Moriarty, Academic
Episode 2: David Brown, Journalist
Episode 3: Mark Morris, Developer
Episode 4: Nicoll Hunt, Developer
Season Three – ‘A Matter of Character’
Episode 1: James Swallow, Writer
Episode 2: Rob Briscoe, Artist
Episode 3: Jon St. Jon, Actor
Episode 4: Devine Lu Linvega, Musician
Episode 5: Darren Daley, Developer
Season Two – ‘Fear Itself’
Episode 2: Richard Cobbett, Journalist
Episode 3: Chris Thursten, Journalist
Episode 4: Joe Percy, Gamer
Episode 5: Tom Jubert, Writer
Season One – ‘My Favourite Game’
Episode 1: Dan Pinchbeck, Developer
Episode 2: Craig Lager, Journalist
Episode 4: Joe Robinson, Journalist
Episode 5: Ben Mansell, Game Marketer

Unlimited Hyperbole is produced by Joe Martin and Harriet Jones. All music used under Creative Commons License.

Journalism: The Deleted Scenes Series

As a journalist I’ve been lucky enough to broach a number of big exclusives and work on some great articles, but the ones I’m most proud of collect, preserve and report how games change during development. I work with universities, museums and the original developers to uncover the design documents for these games, then usally write up my findings for the Gamer Network, including Eurogamer and RockPaperShotgun.

For example, did you know that Warren Spector’s original design document for Deus Ex set the game in a Russian-occupied Texas? Or that a cancelled Thief sequel led by Ion Storm’s Harvey Smith would have rebooted the series in a modern setting? Did you know that Doom was originally planned as a four-player co-op game?

I strongly believe that design documents and the processes by which they evolve are a tragically under-reported aspect of the games industry. As a journalist I’ve spoken and written at length about the need for the publishers and developers to preserve the history of the medium, before this information is lost for good.

The Deleted Scenes Series

The Deleted Scenes of Half-Life 2 – RockPaperShotgun, 25/07/12

The Deleted Scenes of Deus Ex (Majestic Revolutions concept) – Eurogamer, 04/01/13

The Deleted Scenes of Doom – Eurogamer, 30/01/13

The Deleted Scenes of Thief & Dark Camelot – RockPaperShotgun, 05/08/13

The Deleted Scenes of No One Lives Forever – Personal Blog, 13/05/14

The Deleted Scenes of Outcast & Outcast 2: Lost Paradise – Personal Blog, 16/06/14

The Deleted Scenes of Deus Ex: Insurrection & Deus Ex 3 – Eurogamer, 16/11/14

The Deleted Scenes of Origin Systems – Eurogamer, 21/12/14

The Deleted Scenes of Thief 3: Dagger of Ways – Eurogamer, 31/08/15

The Deleted Scenes of Deus Ex (Troubleshooter concept) – Trusted Reviews, 29/08/15

The Deleted Scenes of Tomb Raider (2014 remake) – Trusted Reviews, 04/09/15

Interview: Video Game Historian – Half Hour Intern Podcast, 26/07/2016

Video Games You Will Never Play – Book, 25/08/16

Video Games You Will Never Play

I’ve long admired Luca and the rest of the Unseen 64 team, who have formed a community around their desire to collect information on cancelled games. Over the last few years Unseen64 has, along with The Cutting Room Floor, become one of the biggest and best sources of information about games that never saw the sun.

So, when Luca told me was planning to publish a book about the games they’ve explored, I was honoured to contribute a foreword to the book, as well as my own research into a number of games such as Deus Ex 3: Insurrection and Thief 4: Dagger of Ways.

The completed book, Video Games You Will Never Play, took two years to write and is over 500 pages long. It includes analysis of over 200 cancelled games and projects, including Jade Empire 2, the port of Halo to Nintendo DS and the Sleeping Giants RPG created by Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studios.

You can buy Video Games You Will Never Play from either Amazon or Createspace, in full colour or black and white. The editions are identical, save for different front covers and that the black and white version is a bit cheaper.

Createspace: Video Games You Will Never Play color edition or black and white

Amazon UK: Video Games You Will Never Play colour edition or black and white

Find out more about this book at Unseen64

Discover more articles by me about cancelled video games

The Deleted Scenes of Deus Ex: Insurrection

In 2014 I spent six months researching two cancelled Deus Ex games that had been in production at Ion Storm Austin before it collapsed. Neither of the games were announced at the time, but with help from the Dolph Briscoe Archive at the University of Texas I was able to uncover design documents, concept art and more.

In the end I wrote a feature on the topic for Eurogamer, called Ion Storm’s Lost Deus Ex Sequels.

Both games were cancelled ahead of release and suffered from protracted, troubled development. The first attempt, called Deus Ex: Insurrection, was led by Art Min – a long time collaborator with Warren Spector. The second, called Deus Ex 3, was developed by Jordan Thomas, who later worked on Thief, BioShock and The Magic Circle. I spent a long time speaking to both Art and Jordan about their visions, the collapse of Ion Storm and the legacy of Deus Ex.

Each of the games would have been very different and Jordan’s in particular sounds especially exciting – an open world version of Deus Ex that would have been similar in structure to Crackdown. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and the studio was closed by Eidos before development began in earnest.

Here’s a quote from Jordan Thomas about the closure of the Ion Storm and his feelings about it almost a decade later.

“There’s a reason the place closed and it was chiefly hubris. There are many people who will tell you that the publisher f***ed us but, no. No. The method failed. Making a smaller, more intimate Deus Ex was on nobodies mind. Including mine.”

It took a long, long time to research all this and write about it, so please – read the full article to find out more. You can also contact me if you’d like a copy of the original research and documents I uncovered.

The Deleted Scenes of Thief 4: Dagger of Ways

In 2015 I gave a lecture at Videobrains in London about my exclusive research into a cancelled Thief game that was in development at Ion Storm before it’s collapse almost a decade previously. The lecture was based on an article I wrote for Eurogamer, in which I interviewed a developer who worked on the project and shared some of the original design documents.

You can read the full Eurogamer article, The Modern Day Thief Reboot That Never Was, for more information on Thief 4 – but I’ve also included my slides and script below.

The game itself was called Thief 4: Dagger of Ways and was designed chiefly by Harvey Smith, who later carried at least part of that vision over to Dishonored. Thief 4 would have been a modern day reboot of the Thief series, reviving the characters in a dark and seedy inspired chiefly by Blade and Silent Hill.

You can read the Eurogamer article for more information on Thief 4: Dagger of Ways, or contact me for the original files and research this talk is based on. You can also check out my other Videobrain lectures, Easter Eggs: A Love Letter to Love Letters in Games and Deleted Scenes: Disney, Doom and Deus Ex.

Continue reading “The Deleted Scenes of Thief 4: Dagger of Ways”