Mass Effect is boring

I’m finding it hard to muster any interest in playing through Mass Effect. I’ve started it many times over the years; originally intending to complete the game before Mass Effect 2 came along, before realising some while later that people were up in arms over Mass Effect 3 and I still hadn’t guided Shepard through his/her first assignment. The thing is, every time I task myself with ticking Mass Effect off my backlog of games, I manage to play through the first episode on the Citadel, visit a couple of planets and then lose complete interest in the whole thing.

In the past I’ve put my stalling down to flightiness, but after my latest attempt to get through the trilogy I’ve come to the conclusion that Mass Effect just isn’t that exciting. In fact I’d put it up there with Star Wars: The Old Republic as Bioware’s Most Tedious Game.

Maybe I’ve become jaded with Bioware’s dialogue system, which all too often seems to offer inflection dressed up as choice. Then there’s all the running around and backtracking through overly-large and tediously prefabricated locations, being trapped in elevators and combat that isn’t nearly as tactical as it thinks it is.

And don’t get me started on Origin: I spent so long with various EA support reps, trying to get the game to run at all, that I gave up and downloaded a cracked version instead. It’s a curious irony that I have three legitimately acquired copies of Mass Effect, two of them digital, yet in order to play the game on my current PC I have to resort to piracy.

Nevertheless, in spite of the hassles and mounting disinterest, I will soldier on, if only to see what all the fuss was about with the sequel. The adventure continues…

Resuming light duties

I’m reminded that it’s been some time since I last blogged or updated the site. Partly this has been out of sheer laziness, but also because I’ve had plenty to be getting on with that’s either of little interest to anyone else, or that I’m not in a position to talk about quite yet. That said, given that it’s been a good three months since my last update, another is probably long overdue.

I’ve not been doing a great deal of writing, more’s the pity. Aside from a feature or two for Eurogamer and a couple of reports for publisher clients, the only regular exercise my keyboard has been getting has been thanks to games.

Acquired just in time to be the first game installed to a new PC, Elite: Dangerous is my current obsession. Given how much the Bell/Braben original consumed much of my adolescence, I probably won’t be too upset if my work schedule remains light, at least for the foreseeable future.

Virtual cover insanity

A new issue of GamesTM appeared last week, the final one in which I’m credited as editor. In spite of the hassles that came with waiting for various post-GDC interviews to come through, I’m rather proud of how the magazine turned out, especially the cover feature. I’m less pleased about the cover itself. The main coverline was originally “The VR Revolution Will Resume Shortly”, hence the test card, but that line was deemed “too clever” and a last-minute change was insisted upon by the direktors. Mission accomplished: it is now deeply unclever. Oh well.

gamesTM 147

Well that didn’t last long

You know that dream job I mentioned, well it ended up being a bit of a nightmare. Imagine Publishing decided it no longer required my editorial services at (pretty much) the same time as I decided I’d be happier taking them elsewhere. I think for both parties the realistion that we weren’t a good match dawned a good few weeks back, but we were polite enough to see out the three-month probationary period in case there was a change of heart. While I would have accepted an extension to the probation on the basis of having very else little lined up, concluding the relationship was preferable to being locked into a three-month notice period. In any case the thought of not having to sit in another Tuesday morning “cover meeting” brings me more joy than I’ve known all year.

 

New year, new job

It’s been an inconsistent twelve months, to put it mildly. The closure of Eon magazine and my own subsequent redundancy delivered a crappy start to 2013, especially with a baby on the way and a new house to move into. Fortunately I was able to get stuck into a couple of publishing projects that kept me busy until Little Miss Shoe made her summer appearance. Since then I’ve mostly been enjoying the diverse and unending delights that come with cleaning up after a small human, all while plotting where next my career should head.

After briefly flirting with routes into community management and game content, the realisation dawned that in spite of some residual bitterness from my Eon experience and the continued uncertainly surrounding print publishing, the process of making and developing magazines was something I deeply enjoyed – especially so magazines about games. So with 2014 fast approaching I set about finding a dream job in time for the new year. I didn’t have to look very far, for just down the road in Bournemouth a publisher needed an editor. I applied, bought a vaguely smart shirt, had some interviews and was eventually offered the position.

I start work tomorrow.

Hug a gaming magazine today

Gaming magazines are like koala bears: They don’t seem to go very fast, they eat trees like you wouldn’t believe and they absolutely love to be hugged. Perhaps more seriously the adorable creatures are increasingly threatened with extinction, which is why it’s always heartening to find out that a new one has been conceived.

Currently seeking funding via Kickstarter, Retro is being pitched as a US equivalent to Retro Gamer, only with a bit more in the way of current-gen stuff (“and a whole bunch more”), likely to keep as many younglings interested in turning pages as possible. You can read a preview of the first issue here, although I’d advise against dwelling too long on some of the pages. The Alcohol Breath-Testing Key-Ring review isn’t the only piece of writing that seems out-of-sorts.

Curiously the magazine will be bi-monthly (which I assume means every two months – you can never quite tell), with a minimum of 52 pages, four of which will be ads – quite a flimsy thing compared to the last US gaming magazine I read, which had all the heft and nourishment of an Argos catalogue. I’m assuming Retro won’t be making it to a newsstand anytime soon, even if it does manage to reach its $50K goal.

Despite my snarky Englishness I hope the makers of Retro come good, if only because the US could do with a decent home-grown gaming rag. Of the few gaming magazines still rolling off US presses, many I’m told are reconstituted from UK scrap. I found out a few weeks ago, for instance, that 80% of the US edition of PC Gamer originates from the UK mag, which in some ways is a little sad. Not as sad as there being no magazine at all, but still.

Soon: Eve Online Collector’s Edition

One month to go until CCP start shipping the Eve Online (feat. Dust 514) box of lovelies, which means just a couple more weeks until I get to see the Into The Second Decade book in the flesh, so to speak. To be honest I was sick of the sight of the thing after six months of working on it (which for me is par for the course after every deadline), but it’s been a couple of months since it went off to production and I’m quite keen to flick through the final product and find out what people think about it.

It was rather an honour to be asked to chronicle ten years of Eve Online and I hope I get the opportunity to do so again, assuming I and the game make it safely through another decade. Going on my performance in this promo video, I suspect my services will no longer be required.