Video Games

I Wrote Stuff: Week of March 29


Hello! Here’s a quick rundown of writing of mine that appeared on other sites last week.

For PC Gamer:

  • My weekly mod column covers Altis Life for Arma 3, a game mode where you assume the life of either a civilian or a police officer on the massive Altis map. As a cop, I ran around with other cops desperately trying to find crime to stop. As a civilian, I bought a car and ran myself over with it. Somehow. That’s me in the above picture, under my own car. I don’t even need enemies or other players in order to hurt myself in games, apparently.
  • My Rust diary wraps up with a long, lonely jaunt around the entire map and a return home to find that my cozy neighborhood has undergone some major changes.

For Rock, Paper Shotgun:

  • In my weekly early-access column, I took a look at Planet Explorers, an ambitious survival slash exploration slash crafting slash building slash multiplayer game. It’s trying to do a lot of different things, and doing most of them pretty well. Best of all are some of the interesting-looking alien dinosaurs.

I don’t think I added to my DayZ tumblr this week, as I didn’t have much time to play. I’m thinking about trying the new experimental branch to check out some of the upcoming changes, though.

Video Games

I Wrote Stuff: Week of March 22


Hello again! Just a wrap-up of my writing that appeared on other sites last week.

For PC Gamer:

  • In my weekly mod column, I take a look at a Spelunky mod that replaces monsters, items, weapons, music, and other assets with elements from the Metroid series. It’s incredibly well-done. It doesn’t change the gameplay, but you have to relearn which monsters are which so you know which monsters do what. It’s fun!
  • In the second part of my Rust diary, I experience the perils of home ownership, namely, that once you have a home, people know where you live. And they start stopping by. Often, in the middle of the night. Often, to kill you.

For Rock, Paper, Shotgun:

Hey Are You Cool:

  • I added a couple entries on my ongoing DayZ tumblr. I find it interesting that I can spend hours on a full server and never see another player, yet sometimes on a server with only three people on it, we all wind up in the same building at the same time.
Screen Cuisine | Video Games

I Wrote Stuff: Week of March 15th


Hello! So. I need to do a better job of posting here when I write stuff that appears places other than here. I’m going to try to do a weekly post linking the stuff I’ve written for other sites. This should catch you up to the present day.

For PC Gamer:

  • Also for PC Gamer, I’m currently doing a multi-week diary about the survival crafting game Rust. You can read part one here, in which I vomit on a campfire until I die. Part two will be up this coming Wednesday! I don’t think it will contain vomiting because I learned how to cook.

For Rock, Paper Shotgun:

My DayZ Tumblr:

  • Lately I’ve been keeping a tumblr describing my encounters with other players in the multiplayer survival game DayZ. The encounters can be weird, funny, disturbing, violent, or poignant, and frequently several of those at once. There’s no update schedule; I should probably have one. Right now, I write when I play, and I play when I have time.
Video Games

“Breaking Madden” Is Some Great Games Writing


Before I direct you to some truly fantastic and hilarious games writing about the Madden video game series, let me spoil today’s Super Bowl for you.

Kris and I played the Super Bowl with Madden for Xbox 360 the other night. Kris played the Broncos, I played the Seahawks. Final score: Broncos 27, Seahawks 21. I fully believe this will be the outcome of today’s Super Bowl.

If our game does correctly predict the real Super Bowl, here are some highlights today’s actual game will include:

  • The game will go into overtime as the result of nobody being able to score in the 4th quarter
  • Four out of five field goals will be missed
  • The winning quarterback will be Tim Tebow (we were playing Madden 2012)
  • The Seahawks will replace their quarterback with their punter for two full quarters before the coach realizes his mistake
  • This mistake will be considerately pointed out by the Bronco’s coach
  • The aforementioned Seahawk punter will throw seven interceptions

I’m pretty sure all of those things will come true.

Anyway, I mainly wanted to point you to some outstanding video game writing about the Madden series. Jon Bois writes a column for, wherein he experiments with the settings of the Madden game with hilarious and interesting results. He’s also a fantastic writer, a skilled video editor, and a magnificent craftsman of animated GIFs. You should read/watch/enjoy this entire series and everything he ever writes from now on.

For instance, he simulates the Super Bowl using a team of seven-foot-tall, 400 pound Seahawks vs. a team of tiny, unskilled Broncos.

He plays a game with an entire offense comprised of Tom Brady clones.

He recreates the unstoppable Bo Jackson from Tecmo Bowl.

He tries to see if Colts punter Pat McAfee can win a game by himself.

Check out his stuff. Even if you don’t like football, you’ll like his columns.


A Dream I Had Featuring Actor DJ Qualls


I know it’s annoying when people want to tell you about their dreams, but this dream I had recently was very short and it caused me to abruptly wake up laughing.

In my dream, our veterinarian told me one of our cats was sick. In my dream, I also had the magic power from the book/movie The Green Mile, where a guy could suck the illness out of people, by sort of inhaling it from their lungs (the illness looked like a cloud of insects). So, I inhaled the sickness out of my cat’s mouth and into my own lungs.

Then I was walking around holding my breath, looking for somewhere to safely exhale the sickness. Actor DJ Qualls (pictured above) was standing nearby. I went over to him and exhaled my cat’s sickness into DJ Qualls’ mouth.

In my dream, we then JUMP CUT to DJ Qualls sitting in his doctor’s office.

The doctor says to DJ Qualls: “You have cat herpes.”



  • The reason I dreamed our cat was sick was probably because I’ve had to take both our cats to the vet a couple times recently (they’re both fine).
  • The reason DJ Qualls was in my dream, I think, is that I recently watched a couple old episodes of Breaking Bad, and he was in one.
  • I don’t know why The Green Mile was in my dream: I have not thought about the book or movie in years.
  • I do not know if jump cuts are common in my dreams. I can’t recall another instance of one. It was used to excellent comic effect, however.
  • I do not know if “cat herpes” is a real thing.
  • I can’t imagine how many tests poor DJ Qualls was subjected to before it was determined he had cat herpes. It’s probably not the first thing doctors look for in sick human patients.
  • Kudos to the dream doctor’s delivery of his one line. It was completely deadpan.
  • My deepest apologies to actor DJ Qualls for his unwitting involvement. I think he is a fine actor and I wish him only the best of success and continued good health.

Image credit:


Video Games

Hey, PC Game Reviewers: I Think We Should Take Our Own Screenshots


I recently reviewed a horror game called Outlast for an upcoming issue of PC Gamer Magazine. While I’ve written for the magazine before, this is the first actual game review I’ve ever done.

Naturally, when reviews of Outlast started popping up online, I wanted to see what other reviewers thought of the game. While looking through the first handful of reviews, I noticed something that didn’t quite sit right. Many of the reviews — about two-thirds of them, in fact — used the same three or four screenshots. These were screenshots given to them by the developer (I got them as well, along with review code) as part of a PR media kit.

Using a developer’s screenshots for a PC game review seems… well, a bit misleading. The reviewer doesn’t know for a fact that these are genuine screenshots. They may have been embellished, or touched up, or Photoshopped, or specially rendered. Presumably, these developer screens have been carefully selected as part of the game’s promotion. Reviews, on the other hand, are not (or should not) serve as promotion. Reviews are an opportunity for a writer to describe his or her specific experience with the game. If a reviewer doesn’t use his or her own screenshots in the review, it seems (to me, at least) that they’re not accurately describing their own personal experience.

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Summer Movie Fantasy League

Summer Movie Fantasy League: The (World’s) End


Well, the summer movie season is over and it’s time to tally our final scores in the Third Annual Summer Movie Fantasy League.

Long story short: Kris destroyed me.

It was pretty anti-climactic, really: even after my early lead, Kris didn’t even wind up needing her final three movies to beat me in the domestic opening box-office department. Almost every single movie I picked, with the exception of Still Very Fast And Quite Furious, underperformed. After Earth was a financial and critical dud. White House Down didn’t deliver. None of the kid’s movies I picked came close to Monsters University and Despicable Me 2. And, while The Wolverine did pretty well, it fell far short of the predictions for its opening weekend. Kris outplayed me to the tune of almost $70 million, even though she picked a few duds herself.

Even worse: it looked like I had the lowest RT score portion of the summer locked up, but this morning I went back to check all the scores again, as they tend to fluctuate throughout the summer. My best-worst pick was Hammer of the Gods, which had scored a zero! Unfortunately, a couple late reviews were added, and two of them were positive, meaning the film now scores at a 30%. Not good, but still enough to bump my total up over Kris’s, meaning she has the lowest combined RT score, meaning she wins that contest too. DAMN.

Here’s a look at the final tallies:


That’s it until next summer… when I will have my revenge.


Please Ignore, Just Testing Something

I am just doing a test here.

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Movies | Summer Movie Fantasy League

Summer Movie Fantasy League: Huge Ackman Edition


Hi! Kris and I are deep into our 3rd annual Summer Movie Fantasy League, so I thought it might be time for an update.

With each of us having had seven of ten movies released and tallied for their opening weekend domestic earnings, here’s how the picture looks:


I came out of the gate strong, with Fast & Furious 6 nabbing almost $100K, but it was all downhill from there. World War Z did pretty well, but my poor choices of After Earth, Epic, White House Down, and Turbo did me no favors. Meanwhile, Kris picked the single biggest film, Man of Steel, plus got the two biggest kiddie flicks, Monsters U and Despicable Me 2. With three movies left for each of us, things are looking grim for the former champion (me).

However! All is not lost. With a string of crap and duds hitting the theaters over the past few weeks, and The Wolverine basically opening without any competition, I could cut a hefty chunk out of Kris’ $96 million lead this weekend. Unfortunately, I doubt it’ll be enough to win. She still has Elysium, which 1) has been advertised like crazy, 2) looks like it might be good, and 3) MATT DAMON. I’m not sure how 2 Guns will do, but it’s got Denzel Washington and Marky Mark, so I assume it’ll have a healthy opening. I think I’m still gonna get beat, but maybe it’ll be close.

Meanwhile, our three film picks for lowest Rotten Tomato score was close for a while! The Purge and The Internship were both basically the same degree of stinky. Kris looked like she might have run away with it by picking Syrup, which had zero positive reviews for WEEKS, but suddenly a positive one appeared, knocking it up to 17%. I managed a 0% pick too, with Hammer of the Gods, but we’ll have to keep an eye on it in case some tool decides to like it enough to give it a decent review. R.I.P.D. was much-hated, but not as much-hated as the most-hated Grown Ups 2. As with Syrup, these scores tend to fluctuate a bit as late reviews come in throughout the summer, but right now, I think I’ve got this portion of the summer league won.

Video Games

The Division: Trailer Breakdown


This week I watched a few E3 presentations and tweeted annoyingly about them (sorry). For the most part, I saw a lot of vague information about new consoles I have no interest in buying and fancy, glossy, pre-rendered CG trailers for games I have no interest in playing. However, one game trailer caught my eye: Ubisoft’s multi-player third-person action RPG called The Division.

There were actually two trailers for The Division. The first contained the backstory for this Tom Clancy game: apparently, terrorists put some sort of super germs on all our money and on Black Friday, when everyone goes out to buy Christmas presents at two in the morning, they get sick from the terror-germs, which completely destroys the United States. It’s sort of a weird message– don’t go shopping on Black Friday or you’ll die from moneygerms– for a game made for two new game consoles that will probably be sold during Black Friday. Also, people still use cash to buy things? And people still go to stores? If you want to infect us, terrorist, put some germs on’s one-click button.

Anyway. The “everyone is infected” angle led me to initially think: zombie game. Another damn zombie game. Then Ubisoft aired about eight minutes of (what appeared to be) actual gameplay footage, and I found it entirely engrossing. The footage involves the exploits of four co-op human players: Bronson, Megan, Chris, and Nick (whose perspective we are watching from.) You can watch it right here, and I’d suggest doing it on the biggest screen you have, because there’s a lot of detail. Once you’ve seen it, check out my notes below!

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