In mid-1997, after two years living in Kansas, USA due to my father’s work, my family returned to Australia. It was during this time that I first played Civilization II and several other gems that had been released in the two years that we’d been out of the country. I began to purchase the monthly editions of PC Power Play magazine, and steadily work through the demo CDs that came with each issue. Game demos were a core part of my gaming in the late 90s, giving me broad exposure to a wide variety of games in a very short…

What happens to MMO communities when the industry moves on?

There is a particular genre of games that, in my eyes, stands as so unique that they can scarcely be referred to simply as games. Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, are not just games — they are communities and social networks that have existed since long before the term “social network” existed.

A magazine advertisement for MUD1

The games that we once referred to as Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPG), and now more commonly simply as MMOs, have had a long history, almost as long as gaming itself. They evolved from what were referred to as Multi-User Dungeons (or later, Dimensions or Domains), a.k.a…

Way back in 1999, Minh “Gooseman” Le and Jess “Cliffe” Cliffe released Counter-Strike, a mod for Valve’s Half-Life. Within a couple of years, Counter-Strike had become one of the most successful and popular multiplayer games of all time, and it’s popularity marked a shift in the first-person shooter genre towards more realistic settings, rather than the sci-fi fantasy of Quake and Unreal. Counter-Strike wasn’t the first semi-realistic shooter mod — they had been a simmering trend since the days of Doom. However, late 90s game technology allowed the trend to more effectively embrace realism mechanics, with details such as locational…

More than ever, this is the game that could sink the franchise

The Grand Theft Auto series is nothing short of a games industry legend. No one could have predicted that 1996’s top-down chaos simulator from Scottish developer DMA Design would eventually become Rockstar’s golden goose that has spanned three generations of consoles, selling 145 million copies and raising an estimated US $6 billion in revenue. As rumours begin to fly about the next title in the series and when it might release, so too do discussions about what it might look like. The open-world game market is far more diverse than it was in 2013, and there is no shortage of…

A country batting above its average

Australia is steadily approaching a population of 26 million, and while people in the cities might complain about traffic and crowds, the reality is that we’ve a tiny population compared to the size our sun-blasted land.

It might come as some surprise, then, that Australia’s contribution to creative fields has been significantly higher than one might expect for such a small population. Australian music, art and films are world-renowned, and the same can be said for games.

The games industry in Australia has gone through ebbs and flows over the past four or five decades, but in that time, studios…

Many games are claimed to be “revolutionary”. Quake was one of the few that truly was.

On June 22, 1996, id Software released Quake. While the industry in 1996 was only a fraction of the size of today’s indie sector alone, it seemed the hype for Quake had seeped into every corner, and rightly so. In a PC gaming era when the first-person shooter was king, Quake was set to push expectations beyond what anyone dreamed.

With the names behind the game, it’s impossible to imagine the hype being anything less than immense. id Software had practically invented the genre (at least as the market then recognised it) in 1992 with Wolfenstein 3D. Then in 1993…

The phone rings.
It’s mum and dad.
Some things never change.
A family of my own now.
Kids I’ll one day hassle myself.
Some things change.

How am I? I’m alright.
What about you? We’re alright.
Some things never change.
Dad is sick.
Really sick this time.
Some things change.

For us, back to work as usual.
The little ones to daycare, school.
Some things never change.
For him, appointments, doctors.
Mum, stressed, worried for the future.
Some things change.

How are you? We’re alright.
How am I? I’m alright.
Some things never change.
It’s me that’s calling every day now.
It’s me that’s…

Managing expectations with a critical look at one of the modern era’s most beloved series; what it is, and what it isn’t.

The SSV Normandy circles the Citadel (Mass Effect: Legendary Edition)

I love BioWare’s Mass Effect series. I’ve played through it several times, and have had fun every time. It’s a great series, and captures so much of what people love about the science fiction genre. In fact, I even enjoyed Mass Effect 3, although I admittedly did not play it until after BioWare released the Extended Cut DLC that addressed the critically panned ending.

What makes the Mass Effect series great is that it really captures the fundamental elements of pulpy sci-fi stories of eras gone by. Commander Shephard, depending on how you play the character, can be like a…

I’m currently about a quarter of the way through season 10 of Mike Duncan’s podcast, Revolutions. The podcast details the course of societal upheavals that result in sweeping cultural, economic, political and social change — beginning with the English Civil War in 1642, followed by the American, French, Haitian, Mexican and Russian revolutions, as well as seasons dedicated to the European revolutions of 1848, the Paris Commune, the July Revolution, and Simon Bolivar and the South American wars of independence.

The so-called Age of Enlightenment is a period of history I find incredibly fascinating, but this hasn’t always been the…

Back in the early 2000s, when the kings of multiplayer shooters were Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament, there was a site hosted by GameSpy’s called CliffyB’s 0wnage. CliffyB is also known as Cliff Bleszinski, lead designer of the Unreal series, and his site was dedicated to reviewing some of the thousands of custom Unreal Tournament maps released by map designers (a.k.a. “mappers"). Map design in Unreal Tournament was one of the game’s greatest strengths, and for a custom map to receive the blessing of none other than the creator of the game was every mapper’s dream. One of…

Gavin Annand

At some point in about 1989 I played my first videogames on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. This was the beginning of a lifetime obsession with games...

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