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Monday, 9 September 2013

AAMFP Preorder - One Day Left!

There's only one day left until AAMFP is released upon the the world, so this is the last day to grab a copy at the discounted price - head on over to the Steam page now before it's too late!


It's been a fantastic journey throughout development, and it's amazing to see the game having not left the top 20 best sellers on Steam since it became available. I hope everyone thoroughly enjoys what we've put together, and more importantly, hope everyone spends an unhealthy amount of time sitting in the dark trembling...

I'm now very much deep into the process of thesis writing, and will shortly begin my data gathering and analysis process from the game, so watch this space for future updates and publications, hopefully to include an in-depth post-mortem of the development process and design decisions that we made with the game...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Our USP? 2D Games!

2D seems to be a bit of a buzzword this week. Obviously, the renaissance of 2D is not a new phenomenon, but two stories in particular have caught my attention and I think are worthy of some discussion. Nintendo's 2DS, with its bold box art statement of "plays all games in 2D!" forming the basis for this post's title, and Unity's intriguing new dedicated 2D tools on the horizon.

Nintendo's 2DS

This was certainly somewhat out of the blue, at least for me. Nintendo have hardly had an easy ride in the last year, and at times appear to have lost the plot a little bit, and at first glance I thought this new piece of hardware was further evidence of marbles being lost. However, looking through the appropriate lens, it does start to make quite smart business sense.

Nintendo's ethos relies rather heavily on winning over parents. This is something that, really, fell over early on with the 3DS as media rushed to focus on the negative aspects of the 3D feature for what was likely a minority of players. A loud minority, but a minority nevertheless. This negative image of a console that might burn poor little Johnny's eyes out did not go down too well with parents, understandably, and potentially shut off a large market segment for Nintendo. This, coupled with the company's unique ability to create truly appalling advertising campaigns that failed to differentiate the 3DS from the rest of the DS family in a meaningful way led to a lack of interest in those looking to upgrade from a DS, DSLite or DSi. 

The 2DS cleverly solves at least one of these issues, and opens up a potential new market sector at the same time. For those wanting to upgrade for the sole purpose of playing 3DS software, but that aren't interested in the 3D feature, this fits the bill nicely. For parents looking to avoid the worries of 3D, this fits them too. Importantly, for parents looking to buy their child their first handheld, the price point of the 2DS is attractive indeed. This opens up the potential for consumers that may not have invested in a handheld device to seriously consider the 2DS. Additionally, the 'slate' form factor does away with the more fragile clam shell design making it much more resilient to trips in backpacks, drops onto hard playgrounds, and the occasional temper tantrum. This is perfectly targeted at the younger gamer.


Yes it looks like a Fisher-Price toy - but considering the likely market for this, that's not a bad thing. It looks solid and potentially more comfortable than a standard 3DS, which I find personally gives me hand cramps after prolonged gaming sessions. 

As is often the case, this new announcement has received the usual round of criticism that seems to accompany just about every hardware announcement in the industry at present. However, as a number of commentators have said of the 2DS, much of the critical feedback is coming from those that are not the intended target for the console. As an entry level handheld for young gamers, with a compatible game library of over 2000 games, this is exceedingly good value. Yes, for the older gamer, the price point places the 2DS close to older models such as the DSLite, but that's fine. The 2DS fills a gap, and with its release alongside Pokémon X and Y, I would expect this to sell a fair few units as we approach Christmas. 

Upcoming Dedicated 2D Tools for Unity

I do like Unity3D, its a nice bit of kit and I've used it for a number of different projects both during my time at University and in a number of different Game Jams. However, I have always felt it was missing a trick with the lack of dedicated 2D support. Sure, 2D was entirely possible by using quads with sprites drawn on them, but the set up of the software always felt like it was fighting against you if you wanted to do this. Given the huge resurgence of 2D, this seemed like a real oversight.


Now, along with an announcement of advertising and publishing services (Unity Cloud, and the Unity Games arm respectively), the engine is finally getting full dedicated 2D support. Gone are the days of hacking together your own 2D systems, and installing a plethora of third-party plugins for 2D features. A few of the features coming to the engine include:
  • Dedicated 2D renderer with parallax scrolling support.
  • A 'drag and drop' importer for sprites.
  • Built in sprite animation editor.
  • Built in ability to map multiple sprites into single images to help performance.
Oh, and to top it off, it will have fully integrated Box2D physics.

I'll reserve judgement until the initial beta release of these tools. After all, you can build in as many tools as you want, if they're poorly implemented nobody is going to want to use them. One poor feature could make the entire package taste a little sour (the thoroughly atrocious map editor in Game Maker Studio comes to mind here). However, Unity don't exactly have a history of poor design, so unless they do something quite daft, this could be really, really great news for budding indies looking for a 2D engine with some clout behind it.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Never Played Doom: The Importance of Teaching Games History

This year will be the first intake of fresh-faced undergraduate students, the majority of whom will have not been alive when Doom was released. 

Think about that for a moment. 

Not only Doom, but other key moments in the history of the industry - Dune, Sonic, Mortal Kombat, Zelda, the Game Boy, the NES, hell even the first interation of Solitaire on Windows. 

Now, I admit, I myself was but a twinkle for some of these, and was a spritely six years young when Doom was released, but nevertheless it didn't take me too long to get round to playing it, and a multitude of other key titles, thanks to a wonderfully liberal approach to violent games in my house.

Jump forward to the present day once more and we find students looking to work in the industry that have never played Doom, and have possibly never even heard of the likes of slightly less iconic titles such as Marathon or System Shock. Last year, the percentage of final year undergraduate games research students who were playing such titles for the first time because I was telling them too was frankly, mind-boggling. This is like film students never having watched Citizen Kane, Art students never having seen a Van Gogh, Literature students never having read Shakespeare...

As a recent article on Gamesindustry.biz discusses at great length, this generation of gaming has had enormous, widespread impact, bringing games to new audiences, in new formats, through new channels and consisting of a much broader range of game styles and themes. Games are, as much as some may shun such a suggestion, a vital part of modern culture - as valid a media as any other form of creative expression. As such, the history of that medium should not be ignored. This is especially true at a time when the UK ICT curriculum in schools is finally catching up with reality, and realising that teaching programming from an early age is a vital requirement if our future graduates and school-leavers are to have any chance in a rapidly changing job market. These technical skills are one part of the puzzle, but an understanding of the history behind them (this applies not only to gaming of course, but to software development more generally) is also key. One would not attempt to teach any other subject without first providing a solid historical foundation for learning, and games development and research should be no different.


On the Games Technology course at Portsmouth, students are exposed to this history throughout their three years of study, but clearly this is either not enough, or is too little too late. There is only so much history that can be taught on a University course that ultimately needs to provide students the technical skills they need for employment. Games history, as with any other form of cultural history, needs to be interwoven into existing curriculum areas much earlier in a student's education. By this, I don't mean entire dedicated 'Games Studies' lessons in school, but instead, injecting some games-based tasks into other lessons. Writing a self-directed study project? Why not ask students to investigate a particular era of the industry? Incorporate a study of game graphics over time into Art, or Media Studies. Perhaps include a study of some notable game narratives in English or Drama. Even make some of those daft mathematics problems games related - "If Jimmy has 36 save files to back up, and each is 205Kb in size, how many 1Mb memory cards will he require..." - you know the sort of thing...

This might sound like I'm trying to squeeze games into the curriculum from every angle - but these are just a collection of suggestions to make a point - the key thing is exposing students to the history of this cultural phenomenon, preparing those that want to continue to study it and perhaps eventually work in it, as well as educating others that may only have a passing interest (or, indeed as with Shakespeare, no interest whatsoever - sorry Miss...) in order to broaden their knowledge of the world.

Of course, with gaming still a relatively young medium in the grand scheme of things, and still attempting to shake off the 1980s stigma of games and of gamers that is insistent on sticking around like a bad smell, such an approach is not likely to appear any time soon. 

Once again this year I will open the first Games Research seminar with the words "If you haven't played Doom, you are either in the wrong place, or you have some urgent homework to do", and I will see how many sheepish looking individuals I can spot. Ultimately, I do not see how, in the majority of cases, people can work productively in the games industry without a strong understanding of where games have come from. The innovative original idea that you have may very well be innovative and original, but how do you know for certain if you have a gap in your knowledge of games between 1993 and 2002, for example? How will you avoid making identical mistakes that were made by other developers years ago if you don't even know such games or developers exist?

History, in any field, informs current practice. Games development should be no different in this regard. Until this is realised, Further and Higher Education games design and development courses are going to have their work cut out trying to bring students up to speed on the history of the industry they want to work in.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Basket Full of Social Eggs

Anybody that knows me will tell you I tend to dislike people.

This isn't personal. It's not the person I dislike, usually at least - it's the dominant discourse within today's culture that says I have to talk to them. The one that says I should share stuff with them, and invite them to do otherwise. Frequently I am bemoaned by my friends for not answering my phone, or letting it run out of battery, or burying it in a small pile of clothes in the bedroom. But this is my prerogative is it not? I don't need to be accessible for idle conversation all the time surely? Is society really going to break down into anarchy because I let my email go unanswered for an entire 24-hour period?

This extends to my attitude towards games as well. Gaming time is sacred, relaxing, chill out time, to be shared with others on the rare occasion a game has a worthwhile co-op mode. Other than that, I want to sit down and immerse myself in something that isn't real life, from a twisting and turning plot through to a rich, deep fantasy world. 

I recently stumbled upon an interview with the CEO of developer Gogogic, Jonas Antonsson, with the somewhat inflammatory title "Single-Player is a gimmick, says mid-core developer". Ignoring the issue of the term "mid-core", which is frankly, utterly redundant when the use of 'hardcore', 'core' and 'casual' as demographic-defining terms feels fundamentally base and outdated, this title poses quite a bold claim. Critics have called the 3DS' 3D screen a 'gimmick'. They called motion controls a 'gimmick'. A gimmick is something attached to an already established entity to try and make some speedy money, or quickly bring in new consumers. To suggest that single-player gaming is a gimmick on this basis seems somewhat misguided.

I think that it is worth to note that the single player mechanic is a gimmick - games are meant to be played with others and it doesn't matter if it's in-person or online. The first games were designed as multiplayer experiences . . . Playing a game is a multiplayer activity and can easily be seen as such when you watch young toddlers play by themselves. They invent someone to play with, someone that they talk to and interact with. [Antonsson in Radd, 2012, para.3]

No.

Don't get me wrong, I can see precisely where he is coming from with this statement, but it is thoroughly too narrow in its scope, while simultaneously being too broad in its definition. Gogogic are, according to their tag line, creators of games "for social networks, web browsers and Apple devices". In the world of Mr. Antonsson, games are indeed, meant to be be played online, with other people. This is not the case outside of the social sector - the clue is in the name itself. His reference demographic is too narrow, yet as we will see in a moment, his definition of multiplayer is also far too broad and all-encompassing.

As one response to the original interview notes, some of the most successful and widely played games are single-player in nature. Take Solitaire, for instance, or Tetris, or Sudoku, or the humble crossword. All of these games are entirely playable without having to get your social face on, and are no worse off for it. In fact, I would argue it is the solitary nature of them that actually make them so relaxing. If not relaxing, then other fundamentally single-player titles like System Shock, Final Fantasy, The Elder Scrolls series, or the majority of the Zelda series are certainly highly immersive and engaging games, and a multiplayer aspect would make little difference to that fact.

Can't beat a bit of classic Windows-based Solitaire...
My current research includes a lot of reading around the field of player motivation; what drives players to start playing, and then to keep playing a game. Much has been written in this area, but there are some key drivers that come up time and time again, such as agency, presence, empowerment, discovery/exploration, achievement and escapism (see works such as Murray (1997), Ermi and Mäyrä (2005), Calleja (2007) and Lindley & Sennersten (2008) for in-depth discussion of some of these topics). All of these factors can be achieved in a single player context. More importantly, I can see no real situation in which multiplayer scenarios would increase any of these motivators significantly. In fact, arguably factors such as agency and presence, and especially escapism from the real world, would potentially be damaged by the introduction of more human players.

Antonsson does note that there are multiple different levels of multiplayer, and in fact starts his interview discussing the likes of the asynchronous multiplayer in games like Demon's Souls. But this raises the issue of what is considered multiplayer and single player. Sure, my game may be gathering data from other players and using it in my game, but my experience - me as a player sitting in my lounge playing my game - remains a solitary activity, and is all the better for it. Multiplayer is not some mythical elixir that can be smeared across any game in any genre and instantly improve it, which is ultimately the impression that Antonsson gives, even if his definition of said 'multiplayer' is incredibly broad.

The data-based model of asynchronous multiplayer is worth further consideration however. Demon's Souls' method of bringing player experience together, whilst retaining a single-player immersive experience is worthy of praise, and something more developers should be considering. This was one of the few aspects of Microsoft's E3 2013 press conference that caught my eye, in the form of Forza 5's adaptive AI. Not only did the AI adapt to the individual player's racing style (already very intriguing in itself) but it also acquires data from the cloud (this was my understanding of it anyway) and uses this data to provide either different opponents with different racing styles, or to form more data to drive the sophisticated AI itself. That might not be an entirely accurate understanding, but the game certainly uses data from other players to improve the single-player experience.

A screenshot from Forza 5's E3 2013 trailer highlighting the AI decisions on-screen.
My biggest issue with Antonsson's stance is his over-generalisation. He lumps all conceivable forms of multiplayer gaming into one writhing mass of social tedium, essentially placing synchronous, in-the-same-room multiplayer gaming on a level footing with a passive high score table. These may all be 'multiplayer' elements by name, but their impact on the gameplay experience couldn't be more dissimilar. For instance, I can ignore a high score table. It's existence is something I am aware of, but I need not engage with it if I don't want to. Forcing me to invite other players into my game in order to solve certain puzzles however is something I cannot ignore, and actively works to annoy me. Take LittleBigPlanet as a prime example. There are numerous areas only accessible to parties of 2, 3 and 4 players. However, are there also areas only accessible to the single, lone player? Are there heck. This serves to make the single player feel cheated out of content, and worse, makes them feel that they are playing an inferior version of the game. "There are no areas designed especially for me, so clearly I am not the game's intended audience".

Again one has to take the interview in context - the man is the CEO of a social game developer, after all. However, the industry seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what 'social' means, and this is evident in the PlayStation 4's 'Share' button.

Sony's "Annoy All Your Friends" button...
Now I can only hope that Sony have the forethought to allow any notifications attached to this button to be turned off, but as it is one of their unique selling points (which, alone, says a lot about the state of the industry) I am not overly hopeful. I already have the occasional pop-up message mid-game telling me that JoeBloggs88 is now online, or, even better, people inviting me to play games that I don't even own. If my PS4 starts pinging me with messages that said Mr. Bloggs has just shared a picture of his "epic boss takedown skillz", any hope of a solitary, relaxed gaming session is well and truly eradicated. 'Social', despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary, does not mean the ability to barge into someone else's personal gaming space with inane 'news', or requests for a Red Gem or a Box of Oranges or a Thingy-Shaped Turnip (bonus points for getting the reference there). Socialising is a two-way exercise, that in the real world requires mutual agreement. The current form of 'Social' gaming may be better described as 'Needy' gaming. Players only feel justified in their existence if others justify it for them, and this can only be achieved through asking others constantly to give them stuff, buy stuff from them, or tell them how wonderful they are.

Not all games, on all platforms, have to have social or multiplayer elements. Honestly, they don't. Gamers couldn't shout much louder about this subject if they tried, yet the majority of developers and publishers gleefully stick their fingers in their ears amidst cries of "I can't heeaaarrr yooouuu!" and running in the opposite direction. What happens when players stop humouring these types of games? What happens when the likes of Dead Space 3 is released in future, and instead of players begrudgingly opening their wallets and buying it anyway, they instead just say "No". A basket full of social eggs is not something you want to be carrying if they turn out in a few years to all be rotten.

Or, even worse, they all turn out to be Velociraptors.

References

Calleja, G. (2007). Digital Games as Designed Experience: Reframing the Concept of
Immersion
. Doctoral thesis: Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Available online at http://www.gordoncalleja.com/GordonCalleja_Digital_Games_as_Designed_Experience.pdf 

Ermi, L. & Mäyrä, F. (2005). Fundamental Components of the Gameplay Experience:
Analysing Immersion. Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference – Changing Views:
Worlds in Play
, [14 pages]. Retrieved from DiGRA Digital Library.

Lindley, C. A., & Sennersten, C.C. (2008). Game Play Schemas: From Player Analysis
to Adaptive Game Mechanics. Proceedings of the 2006 International Conference on
Game Research and Development
, 47-53. doi:10.1155/2008/216784

Murray, J. H., (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Radd, D. (2012) "Single player is a gimmick" says mid-core developer. Retrieved from http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-10-25-single-player-is-a-gimmick-says-mid-core-developer

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Engage the Imagination, Round Two

Entirely coincidentally, not long after posting my previous entry longing for an opportunity to make use of my imagination once again when playing games, PlayStation Plus heeded my cry and delivered me a lovely little morsel of gaming pleasure.

Thomas Was Alone (or, Christopher was Depressed as Mrs Howell insists on calling it, much to my amusement), takes the very essence of games - the humble square - and weaves a short but perfectly timed story that portrays a group of newly created Artificial Intelligences as they try and make sense of the world around them.

The minimalistic imagery throughout the game forces the player to flesh the world out in their own minds. The black and grey world suggests sprawling oceans, deep chasms and caves and high mountains, but this suggestion is all that is required. Much like Defender, we need only be given a basic representation and our minds can do the rest of the work for us.

It is the characterisation, and the interplay between what are ultimately just different geometric shapes, that are the most poignant example of minimalistic representation in games. The individual characters each have very notable personalities - they have complexes about their weight, they demonstrate paranoia, neuroses and jealousy. I found myself on more than one occasion getting more than a little annoyed with John's arrogance...

Look at John. All tall and yellow. Pah.

All of these character traits are portrayed through no more than shape, and some masterfully delivered voice acting. This voice acting, admittedly, could be viewed as the game still essentially dictating to the player what they should make of the characters in the game. However, because it is delivered entirely in the form of internal monologue, and never as direct communication between characters, it promotes a feeling of awkward tension throughout the story. The player knows what the characters think and feel. They are burdened with the issues, anxieties and worries of multiple characters, and through this, are able to infer far more meaning on in-game actions than the game explicitly demonstrates. The high, floaty jumping of John is punctuated (in my mind at least) with a smug grin and air of superiority over the other characters that makes him a fundamentally irritating individual. The discovery by Claire that she can float on water, making her indispensable to the other characters, is an amusing moment, that evolves into something much more powerful as her insecurities about her size become more apparent. 

This game has, by a long way, offered more memorable characters than any others I have played recently - and all of this is achieved through clever use of minimal assets. Being able to sum up the game with a name and an adjective, regardless of their combination, says a lot about the purity of the content. Thomas was Alone. Christopher was Depressed. John was Tall. Claire was Insecure. Laura was Bouncy. All are accurate, and get the point of the game, and the essence of the characters, across immediately.

I'll end here for today. Peter is late...

Monday, 15 April 2013

Engage the Imagination - The Rest is Elementary


The reason I continued to play games after being given a SNES for my 9th birthday (cheers Dad, look what you did to me!), was because I could immediately, at the touch of a button (more, the clunk of a power switch back then really) be taken into a multitude of other worlds. Literally hundreds upon of hundreds of different environments, different cultures, different laws of physics and different perspectives on life, at my fingertips. 

Receiving a new game was like Christmas, regardless of the time of year, and having to wait entire days at school just to get back and play it was torturous. I remember many times dreaming in different game worlds, and finding myself wondering what living in them would be like. A child's imagination is, of course, an incredibly active thing at the best of times, and games were not by any means the only thing that enabled that imagination to run riot - a good book was just as effective.

I often find myself engaged in some sort of discussion revolving around the topic of "games were better in the old days" (bearing in mind, I myself am only 25, and the old days to me simply mean when a can of Coke was 40p). Usually, people say that they only seem better now, because of the nostalgia factor - looking back on your first gaming experiences is always going to be an emotional process. However, I think there is something quite tangible, and hugely important that is missing from nearly all games in the modern day. It is something that, ironically, is only likely to get worse as technology improves. The ability of games to engage the imagination.

Defender on the Atari 2600. Mmmm. Blocky.
Defender pictured above on the Atari 2600 portrays a highly advanced fighter jet patrolling the skies of a sprawling metropolis, gallantly risking all to send invaders to a fiery, explosive death on the ground below. Honestly, it does. We don't need to be shown it does, our imagination is able to take the very basic visual information available and mentally convert it into an action-packed scenario that James Cameron himself would be proud of. The same goes for just about any game from the earliest years of the industry. The very lack of graphical power possessed by hardware at the time meant imaginations were needed to piece together the world into something thrilling, something engaging, and importantly, something personal, to each individual player.

This individual nature of the play experience is what some may mistake for 'nostalgia'. It is something that is far, far harder to come across in today's games. You're told exactly who you are. You're told what you're doing. You're told why you're doing it. You're told when to move, when to stop, when to jump, shoot, duck, run... there is little room left for the imagination to be unleashed. Even games like Spec Ops: The Line which inserts some very challenging and powerful plot twists, still ultimately tells you what you should think, even if you have some choices in the matter.

This is why games that are purposely abstracted from reality (games that some label as 'Art Games' nowadays), such as Limbo, in my opinion are so much more memorable. They're still more explicit in their visual representation of their worlds than the likes of Defender, but they leave a lot more up to the imagination, which allows a much greater individuality to shine through and impact the play experience.

The 'indie' games sector has seen a massive rise in popularity over this previous generation, and the games produced in the sector often hark back to the 'good ol' days of gaming' (40p Coke era again). Admittedly, part of the reason here is budget - 16/32bit style graphics are substantially cheaper after all. But, many indie developers are in the privileged position of being able to make the type of games that they grew up on, and want to continue to play. It's a gap that isn't really filled through any other part of the industry.

Now, this isn't to say that the likes of Blizzard, Activision and EA should suddenly drop everything, and start making the likes of Super Metroid or Super Punch Out! again. Photorealism in games has its place for sure. But take a step back from your accurately modelled carbon-fibre weave, the lovingly crafted physics of Dead or Alive (>_>) or the slightly more accurate 'wet clothing shader' on Lara, and think. Do players need to see this level of realism? Or, would they rather engage their imaginations a little bit more, and delve into a more engaging, if less high-resolution, world of wonder and intrigue?

With imagination working away, realism and accuracy becomes secondary, the graphics that represent the world become simply a means to an end. Alone in the Dark looks thoroughly comical by today's standards, but is regarded as one of the high points of horror gaming for its dark, tense atmosphere and engaging world. This is a world fully represented with fewer polygons than Master Chief's head. 

Re-engage the mind, and re-engage that childish imagination. This is a world we could certainly use a little cognitive break from from time to time.

Have you seen the price of a can of Coke?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Weddings, Pigs and Houses

My last post was a shockingly long time ago. Bad Pete. 

Lots has been going on though. I haven't been sitting around twiddling my thumbs (as much as I would love some time to do just that) - no no, instead I've been really a rather busy little piggy.

Firstly, the wedding that has been in the planning for the best part of 2 years finally happened on December the 23rd - a truly amazing day (due in no small part to my wife's meticulous, almost scary level of precision and planning) and one that will be remembered forever. Oh, and the fact that Katie surprised me with a little vehicular present in the morning...

Phwoar!
Yes, a shiny Aston Martin DB9 (with a mere 400 miles on the clock no less) to drive me to the venue. It was felt necessary to go a bit Gangnam Style on it, to truly appreciate it's splendour. It also put us into a bit of James Bond mood, so we had to, of course, have a few photos along those lines...

Our attempt at being suave and sophisticated... Shut up.
After a wonderful ceremony in the picturesque country house, and having more cameras pointed at us than I think we will ever experience again, I managed to deliver a reasonably eloquent speech. This surprised me I have to say. Especially as I'd rewritten the entire thing 48 hours previously. Maybe standing up in front of rooms full of students is finally paying off, who knows...

Just after signing the register, during the closest thing we'll likely get to being paparazzi-fied...
Cutting the delicious cake, kindly made by our close friend Kelzky
I'll post a few more photos once we get the professional shots back from the photographers too.

So, after that, and our honeymoon in Lapland (during which I drove a Husky Dog Team - badly - a SnowMobile - slightly better - and Cross Country skied - primarily on my backside) it is finally time to get back to working on this little game. Being a husband, I need to bring home the bacon now see.

Completion is so close, one can almost taste the salty, smoked finish. However, we still have a little way to go, so no confirmed release date yet (Sorry everyone on Frictional's forums, but just so I don't get misquoted or anything! I know you're all eager for information...). But boy is it looking (and sounding) good - Our audio designer has been back on project for a few weeks, not to mention the excellent stuff that has been going on from the rest of the team too. It's going to be a hectic month.

Hectic too, because for some reason, after the huge stress of wedding planning, we thought it would be a logical idea to move house in the next month. So, in a few weeks we'll be off to the lovely little village of Wallington. Phew. Finally, then, I may be able to return to some semblance of a routine.

But, I won't speak too soon... Who knows what may be just around the corner. Oh, and of course, at some point, there's the small matter of a PhD thesis that needs to be written...

Dum de dum.