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…


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 PlanetUnreal.com 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…


A couch-based detour

This week I’ve eschewed the PC to take some time working through the console Pile of Shame. I have, throughout my life, primarily been a PC gamer, but have owned consoles from time to time. Most recently, I was lucky enough to secure an Xbox Series X, and alongside playing Cyberpunk 2077, I’ve been gradually working through a couple of series, one new and one old, that have been sitting on my Pile of Shame — Yakuza and Halo.

Yakuza 0 (Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, 2017)


Distracted by the world… of Warcraft

So, you might have noticed that there was no “Week 8” of this series. Well, as it turns out, I was tragically crook last week and was simply not in a state to do any writing. So, there goes the New Year’s Resolution out the window, right? Of course not. If we give up on something at the first stumble, then we weren’t really ever committed.

Of course, another important part of taking on a challenge is to be honest — with yourself most of all. And while I definitely was too sick to do any writing, I have to…


Will the upcoming Dragon Age IV redeem the franchise?

The year was 2009. RPGs hadn’t disappeared, they never really have. But it had been a long time since a gripping, story-driven fantasy epic had really taken the industry by storm. Then, in November, BioWare released Dragon Age: Origins.

It was every bit the epic fantasy that they had promised, and everyone so desperately craved. Deep, meaningful character creation and origin stories that were varied and had significant impact on the gameplay. Mature and interesting character development. A central plot that masterfully balanced high and low fantasy. Beautiful graphics, detailed environments and a complex combat and spellcasting system. Amazing voice…


New Reno

Another week and the gradual steps towards knocking over my next game continue Fallout 2 continued to be a major focus, with a small amount of Neverwinter Nights and Heretic.

Heretic (Raven Software, 1994)

Heretic continues to confuse me. I can’t decide whether I like it or dislike it. The level design is jarring, lacks any sense of flow, yet they are beautifully designed and really capture the essence of the setting.

One thing that is really starting to become apparent is the notable lack of diversity in weapons and enemies. I’m almost at the end of the first quarter of the game, and…


Getting off track

This past week, I’ve managed to hold to some discipline and keep working through Fallout 2 and Heretic. But I did get off track.

When I started this challenge, one of my approaches was to pick a few games and focus on them. Well, that worked initially, but the reality is that sometimes you get off track, or you go through genre “phases”. And I’ve had one of those phases over the past week.

I started playing an additional game — Neverwinter Nights. I played an absolute tonne of Neverwinter Nights back in the early 2000s, but most of the…


Heretic returns…

I knew there was a reason I picked Heretic to go on the list. I’m starting to learn that, like anything in life, it’s always handy to have a backup. Fallout 2 and Ultima II are both pretty heavy RPGs. Fallout 2 is brilliant, but it’s an epic RPG with a plodding pace. Similarly, Ultima II is, in relative terms, a fairly chunky RPG. Sometimes, you don’t want a game like that. Sometimes, you just want to run and gun. Heretic came to the rescue.

Heretic (Raven Software, 1994)

Heretic was the perfect game to fill a few 30 minute sessions, and I made…


Baldur’s Gate III is a lot of things, but it ain’t Baldur’s Gate

Back in October 2020, Larian Studios released Baldur’s Gate III in early access. The Belgian independent studio, founded in 1996 by Swen Vincke, has earned a reputation for being the “little RPG developer that could” thanks to their long-running Divinity series (most recently with the acclaimed Divinity: Original Sin II). Larian’s games have been praised for their depth of choice, detailed world-building and quirky humour, and they’re a studio somewhat reminiscent of Obsidian Entertainment in the Neverwinter Nights II era.

Wizards of the Coast is the complete opposite. The massive publisher originally acquired Dungeons & Dragons from TSR Inc. in…

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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