This is a collection of words.

We Don’t Talk About Revolution

We don’t talk about Gridrunner Revolution much.

I kinda understand why. It’s a fairly easy game to play but it’s a difficult game to get into. It’s a difficult game to see the beauty in too. It’s awkward.

It was a rough time, really. Space Giraffe, despite being THE best game ever made no arguments no backsies, hadn’t done too well in the old cash stakes, NeonPC had hit a wall. Gridrunner Revolution is a game born of a kind of desperation. It was a teeth grindingly stressful time for everyone involved and there’s fewer works where it shows quite so plainly. It’s a game that aims for elegance and beauty but if you squint you can see the dark clouds hanging over it. It’s in stark contrast to the later mobile Gridrunner, a game that’s at peace with its heritage and bold as all fuck.

Released after Space Giraffe and there’s none a game made with more intent to fuck with you than Space Giraffe, none a game so fucking bold and SPACE FUTURE. How do you even follow that up? But oh, if it were even that simple. How do you follow up a game that’s both widely praised for its inaccessibility, its visual noise, its sheer unadulterated COME WITH ME ON THIS TRIP OR FUCK OFF game design but equally, a game that’s not selling well precisely because of all those things and something’s got to pay the bills? Where do you go next?

In retrospect, probably not here, y’know?

Not because Gridrunner Revolution is a bad game. It really isn’t. It gets itself off to a slow and awkward start but once it settles into a groove, it’s quite an incredible piece of work. It’s a game based around making pretty shapes with your bullets to score higher, that alone is a pretty special thing and worth treasuring. Thrusty mode, hidden behind an unlock, is a great game all in and of itself, never mind the rest of the stuff.

But because it’s a game where the cracks are at their most public. It’s a game that’s caught between a confidence in mechanical design and the need to make money, to appeal to more people, to be something it isn’t. It’s the videogame as compromise when it should have been the videogame that sang. And I get it, I get that the time, the place, the pressure meant it could never really be anything else but still.

It’s got its rough edges with somewhere in the region of 500 different fonts, a bizarre-o world unlock system and the SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE of the tutorial designed to teach the mechanics by someone who’d clearly prefer it if you’d just learn the mechanics instead and why am I doing this stop making me do this. It’s also a game that lets you fly a giant cock around the screen spunking multicolour bullets and COME ON, you don’t get many games that let you do that now, right? (It’s also got what looks like a giant sperm spunking bullets and I’m not sure how that works other than it’s spunk all the way down). Its concessions to accessibility make it tougher to love and perversely, it ends up less accessible because it takes a whole lot more time and effort to find the game. The cutting edge of techno-shooty-things is a weird place to be at the best of times.

I like the game, I really do. Here’s me playing it earlier and I still really enjoy it, even if I am a bit on the old rusty side with it these days.

After Gridrunner Revolution tanked, Jeff skulked off to iOS to make a series of absolutely brilliant (-David Darling) little arcade games that AGAIN didn’t sell anywhere near where they should of which leaves me in the curious position of looking at the human race with a “what exactly is wrong with you?” expression. And no secrets were made of how little the games were selling, of how few Gridrunner Revolution sold too. Wherever the complaints arose, the response was often the same.

Picture the scene. Jeff Minter’s landed on an alien planet, he’s gone exploring and got into a bit of a pickle and got a bit of the old poisoning and only had enough of the antidote to give to a passing sheepy. It’s time for Jeff to regenerate and as he lies there clutching a fluffy sheepy, the process about to begin, a bunch of curious disembodied heads start floating into view.

“Lose the animal noises, Jeff”

“You don’t fit with the times”

“You need to polish your games more”

“Stop making them look like old arcade games”

“No, really, stop the fucking animal noises, Jeff”

The heads keep spinning round, muttering away to themselves. “Make a game like other people make games and everything will be fine”, they whisper. It all goes a bit blurry and Jeff’s played by Colin Baker now.

Or something like that anyway. The point being that since Space Giraffe, it’s been a fairly constant refrain and one I’m fairly sure I’ve joined in with myself at points in time which I feel a bit of a noddy for, to be fair.

Five years on and it’s hard not to look at Gridrunner Revolution as a sort of reactionary game, a game struggling to find its place in a world where what you do is maybe not considered A ThingTM anymore and it’s a step in working out how to address that. There’s many pushes towards that-what-other-games-do often at the expense of that-what-Yak-games-do and in so many cases, they’re the bits where the game falls flat on its face. What makes Gridrunner Revolution appear less special is that it exists in some sort of weird halfway house between a definite Yak game and everyone else’s game and that’s clearly not a comfortable place.

A few years back, someone popped a question over my way and said words to the effect of “Rob, what do you think Jeff would need to make the best game ever?” and I paused. For a moment, I remembered Gridrunner Revolution, the stress of its development, the noise and the clatter. I remembered what came after, so much asking Jeff to not be himself in his games. For the market.

“To be comfortable and left the fuck alone to do what he does best”, I thought. I politely rephrased it because I can be polite sometimes for reals. OK, I used a slightly milder swear. Same thing.

These days, when I think of Gridrunner Rev, I think of it as a warning for what happens when you go reaching out for a market that your heart isn’t into serving because it’s not you, it’s just not who you are or what you want to do with your life. I find it helps me understand that not everyone is built to fit in with what everyone else does and that’s OK and trying to make some things fit is an exercise in futility.

I accept that we don’t talk about Gridrunner Revolution because not many people play Gridrunner Revolution and yeah, I’m actually fine with this although I honestly believe it’s worth gritting your teeth through the slow first half hour for the rest. Just maybe if we can’t talk about the game much, we can remember that when making anything, videogames, doodles, music, whatever, our biggest asset is we are who we are and that is what makes our work special, not the polish, not fitting in with the market or anything like that.

We’re the important part of what we make and that’s oh so easy to forget sometimes but worth clinging onto, always.


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Bezier

As videogames go, I think we can safely say Bezier is a videogame. I mean, just look at that, right?

In some ways it is, visually, to arena shooters what Minter’s tour-de-force GAME FROM THE SPACE FUTURE Space Giraffe is to the tube shooter. A slightly raw, incredibly digital affair where you’re always uncertain what it’s going to land on you next. But of course, there’s only one Space Giraffe and Bezier whilst not pulling its punches in the visual department, well, it’s certainly a far more controlled affair. But then again, what isn’t a far more controlled affair compared to Space Giraffe, right?

It’s also some sort of slightly unhinged science fiction synth-prog-opera made videogame. In other words, the sort of thing that I’m going to fall in love with terribly easily. I’ve been banging my head against a table and trying to think precisely what it reminds me of and I’m kinda glad to be drawing a blank in many ways. It’s a little bit Buggles, a little bit Jeff Wayne, the videogame equivalent of an eighties Jean Michel Jarre concert and frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that Philip Bak (the author of the game) wasn’t really Philip Bak at all but in fact The Phantom Of The Paradise come back to haunt us but this time with videogames.

It could happen. I asked a policeman and everything and he totally said it could.

Phantom of the Paradise - 4

{pic source}

Thankfully, unlike Phantom Of The Paradise, Bezier isn’t a deeply cynical thing. It is however marvellously committed to its conceits. Chris Donlan covered the “Why Bezier?” stuff in his Eurogamer write up and that’s worth a quick scan over as always. Yet it’s a game where infusing Bezier curves in as many aspects as the game as possible is the least batshit thing about it. It wears the skin of a brutal arena shooter yet at the very same time the game remains remarkably accommodating to anyone who’s fairly not used to a twin stick set up. It’s a game that manages to feel comfy and conventional whilst not really being either. It’s quite a thing.

If I were to sit you down and describe the game mechanically, I doubt I’d be able to get much further than “well, you move around an arena and you shoot some things” which may well show an incredible lack of imagination on my part but it’s also a very very accurate description of what Bezier is. Of course, not all arena shooters are created equally or push players in the same direction. Whereas something like Geometry Wars is all about chasing the high score, Bezier sort of has that but nudges it to one side in favour of making just playing the game being a thing you’d want to do. It’s certainly in no particular rush to kill you most of the time unlike most arena shooters that build on arcade templates. A game of Bezier can go on for quite a while because Bezier wants you to see the game. And more so, I suspect Bezier really wants you to hear the game.

Which I guess brings us back round to Bezier being the videogame as eighties Jean Michel Jarre concert. Seriously, listen to the soundtrack and you’ll see what I mean. Bezier is a game that demands to be heard. It’s not Jarre (I can listen to it as a grown man without cringing for starters, something I recently discovered I can’t do anymore with Jarre stuff), it’s very much its own thing but once it’s thrown into the game it shares the same deep love of bombast, lasers and robot voices that defined Jarre concerts in the eighties. Except it’s married to a batshit science fiction plot and there’s a giant smiley face that taunts you at the end of each round and you’re a floaty thing with lasers and there’s all the colours. I don’t know, maybe that’s acid house turning up to sign the death warrant of eighties synth pop or something. Maybe. I haven’t checked with a policeman on this one, sorry.

Regardless, it’s all makes for a captivating, unique and slightly unhinged experience. And I love it so very much.

Bezier is available from NiineGames right now for yer Windows PC.


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Deus Ex Machina

I generally consider Mel Croucher’s Deus Ex Machina as a BitOfAnImportantWorkTM. One of the first games to deliberately try and cross the boundaries away from shoot-in-face to some sort of art, it’s a prog-rock-made-videogame thing with an oh so very British cast. You have Jon Pertwee, Ian Dury and Frankie Howerd all lending their voice talents (although it should be noted there isn’t a single OOH HELLO as far as I can remember. Up Pompeii, this isn’t). It’s a game and a soundtrack, then across two cassettes. You loaded the game on one, took the tape out and replaced it with the soundtrack cassette and off you went with the game and soundtrack syncing up fairly closely. At least, that was the theory anyway and it mainly worked.

And of course, the thing about BitOfAnImportantWorksTM is that you don’t necessarily realise it at the time. Yeah, yeah, I *was* fairly young when Deus Ex Machina came out and I have very vivid memories of my dad and me unpacking the box, loading the game then trying to work out whether we could sync up the tape whilst hoping that the shitty tape deck we were using wouldn’t actually chew up the soundtrack tape. An extra air of mystery provided by the black and white TV we were playing it on because black and white TVs were still very much a thing then y’know?

We fumbled our way through it. Got to the end 50 or so minutes later, agreed that it was an OK thing and off I went to bed. The next day it’d be back to jumping around platforms, racing things, shooting in the face. Thing is, the reason it felt slightly unremarkable (and this is, in retrospect, a weird thing to say) is that because we were still very much trying out what videogames could be, we hadn’t yet shifted to teams and a distinctive vision of the videogame as home arcade with a side order of some other things, it was just one of many possible futures. It’s only looking back and being able to see that it wasn’t the future that it seems like such an outlier. I mean we are talking about a time when the glorious pop band Frankie Goes To Hollywood got their own videogame and it was fucking OUT THERE. A terraced house that’s the gateway to all manner of fantastical things, doused in east vs west pop politics and with a sloppy dose of pop iconography to boot whilst charging the player with investigating a murder AND trying to assume a complete identity and yes, I did just type that out and yes, that is pretty much the game. As I say. Out there.

The idea that next month we’d all be syncing up soundtracks alongside our videogames didn’t seem especially weird in the slightest.

There’s an alternate universe out there where instead of drifting further down the road of film licenses, Deus Ex Machina entirely changed the games industry and Mel Croucher is seen, quite rightly, as a pioneer in all things videogame. I guess equally, there’s also one where Give My Regards To Broad Street never existed and we all lived happily ever after too and then that other one where everyone realised that Paul Woakes was doing so much more than Bell and Braben and no-one gives him the respect he truly deserves so we make amends for that. But I digress. If I carry on down this road, we’ll also be investigating the alternate reality where we crowned Crem of Design Design as a videogame king and that other one where Atari don’t… OK I’ll stop right there.

So yeah, playing Deus Ex Machina at the time was so mundane, so ordinary. I suspect that’s probably the way Mel wanted it to be too, for this to be seen as a normal kind of thing. And it could have been and maybe would have been if more people shared Croucher’s vision of no-violence subversive videogames. Well. We’re here in 2015 and we all know how this story ended and it’s only now we’re really sitting down and thinking that maybe this should really, really be a thing for realsies and putting in great work towards widening what videogames are and can be even further.

This morning I had a play through the entirety of the new 30th Anniversary Edition and recorded the playthrough and put it on YouTube. I’m not really interested in talking over videogames, especially one where the music is such an important part of things. I don’t think there’s much to be gained from hearing me muttering about stroking some DNA strands with my green cursor or whatever so it is just a playthrough and all that entails.

The new version is a few quid up on itch.io and well worth a look. Ideally, I recommend playing it through in its original 8 bit form now you have an easy way of doing that and with a nice remastered soundtrack to go along with it (last time I played it through on emulation I had to sync up a slightly crappy low quality mp3 rip which is no way to experience the game). I’m not convinced that the new visual stuff adds anything other than to confuse things even further BUT YMMV.

Anyway, here’s the play through in full and it’s with the new graphics and stuff switched on rather than its original guffage to encourage you to go and check it out proper for yourself.

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It’s not Tempest

Hopefully by now everyone will have heard the news that Jeff received a cease and desist from Atari over TxK.

It’s depressing news and not entirely unusual news from the husk of a corporation that is Atari. They have form for this, after all.

For my own part, part of the reason I stopped posting on RR last year was due to the short time between me posting a game based around Asteroids and Atari serving that game being, well, look. I don’t want that sort of thing hovering over me every time I post the news, yeah? Given the stuff that the shell-of-Atari holds custody of are the kind of things that lots of people make and pass through our doors. In this case it was a pay game but what if I brought down a C&D over a free title from someone just learning? No-one wants that hanging over them.

I quietly just stopped posting. It seemed safer and besides, remakes have been on the wane for a while. Things change.

And on a more personal note with regards to Jeff, I make no secret that he’s an inspiration. I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of his stuff grow as an occasional part of his testing team, I owe my Sony contract to him in a vague way. Well, I owe it to Sony’s good treatment of him, at least. My own work owes a tremendous debt to him, which I’m sure comes as no surprise.

Today has been upsetting. Or rather yesterday when I first got the inkling that this stuff had been going on for a while, today just confirmed all that and yeah. Upsetting is the right word. And angering.

It’s upsetting to see Atari, who owe an immense debt to Jeff, treating him this way. Even as Infogrames wearing the skin of Atari, the value they derive from the Tempest IP (eurgh) is in no small part down to what Jeff contributed to its legacy. It’s upsetting to see how we treat those who make the games that make up our rich history at the best of times but this? League of its own.

And it’s upsetting to see people say that TxK is a clone of Tempest when Theurer’s DNA may be at the very root of it but Tempest 2000, 3000, Space Giraffe and TxK are the work of Jeff through and through. They’re his visions. They’re distinct and distinctive visions at that. No-one, and I mean this in the most literal sense it can be meant in, NO-ONE makes games through the kind of lenses Jeff makes videogames. No-one.

Tempest 2000 itself defines what most of us think of when we think of Tempest. Who thinks of Tempest as a series of pits, monsters appearing from holes in the ground? Pfft. Tempest is set on webs. IN SPACE. That’s Jeff’s vision right there. It might seem a silly, small thing but videogames are defined by the silliest, small things. Videogame progress is defined by the silliest, smallest things. Thanks to Jeff, what we think of as Tempest is very much defined by his work. The power ups, the structure, the AI droids, the resume best, the visual craziness. All Jeff’s vision. A vision built upon a sketch of a game from 1981, 20 years and over 40 years later, Jeff’s vision of what Tempest could be is the defining one. This in no way diminishes Dave Theurer’s groundbreaking work on the original, not one bit.

And TxK? To say that TxK is in itself an outright clone of Tempest 2000 is to do a disservice to the many, many mechanical changes, twists and turns the game takes as you progress. Sure, watch a video of the first stage and nod along that they’re similar. By the time the web is shifting shape underneath you, you’ve got to be some kind of complete idiot to think the two are the same.

TxK is as much an evolution of the ideas, themes and concepts that Jeff was exploring with Space Giraffe as it is a take on the more traditional tunnel shooter formula that is Tempest. It’s over 20 years of love for a style of game made videogame. I’m still kinda amazed that Jeff managed to sneak a lot of the stuff from what many claim to be his least accessible game into TxK and made it accessible without folks even noticing.

TxK is Jeff’s game. It does not belong to Atari.

To say that TxK is a clone of Tempest is to erase all our progress since 1981. That’s absurd and reductive and does us all a disservice.

But this is more than about Jeff, it’s more than about Tempest. It’s about how we evolve. It’s about how we treat the people who made the videogames that we build upon. It’s about if we let ourselves have the ability to evolve works or we prefer them locked in a corporate box, away from view, solely because someone once upon a time nearly fifteen years ago bought those things at auction. it’s about how we treat creators.

Videogames often shit on our own legacies and fucking hell, how often we put “IP” and “franchises” before the humans who made those things what they are.

Videogames are made by people and the sooner we learn to treat those people with a modicum of respect, the sooner we’ll be on our way to making videogames a better place.

Jeff deserves better than videogames give him. So do many more people who work within videogames.

Maybe this is as good a time as any to start showing some appreciation for their work instead. Stand up and show support for the people who make your videogames, don’t let them be crushed by stuff like this.


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Nothing Happens

“You’re just jealous that it’s me and not you”

They weren’t the exact words in the tweet but the implication was there. Me. Looking in and looking up at this guy, wishing for what he had.

I thought about it for a moment.

“Fuck off”, I typed. I reached for the block button and pressed it. I didn’t really feel any particular anger, just a sort of sadness. The kind of sadness that comes from someone who judges you as if your world view is their world view, y’know?

I couldn’t resist. A sneaky peak back after the block. Words to the effect of “you know it’s true”. I go and put the kettle on, it’s time for a hot chocolate.

I’d been reading an article on what the next year would bring for games and the conclusion? Nothing is going to happen. It’s been one heck of a five months previous, it’s showing no signs of letting up. Nothing is going to happen.

I can’t remember a time in videogames where nothing much happened, where time passed and little changed but this? Now?

In some ways, sure, I was jealous. I wasn’t jealously eyeing up an interview spot, mind. I was jealous of being able to be so oblivious to the world around me.

That must be sorta comforting, I thought.

I drank my hot chocolate and carried on making a videogame.

I’ve struggled for two years now to make a videogame and it weighs heavily on me. Sometimes it’s the weight of self doubt. Two years on and off development, two years scraping time together where you can, so preoccupied with getting through that self doubt creeps in further.

“Am I good at this?”

People tell me I’m good at this. Logically and realistically, I know it doesn’t matter if I’m good at this. What matters is that I’m here, I get through, there’s another side and there’s things I enjoy doing.

Some nights are darker than others.

“I’m me. I’m happy with that. I don’t know what the future holds but as long as I’m happy and the people I care about and love are happy, I’ll settle for whatever life throws at me. If that’s being the next big thing, so be it. If it’s not, I’m sure I’ll live. I can’t quite see it somehow though, not unless the universe turns inside itself and the entire fabric of reality bends around me.”

That’s me. In 2008. A cheeky interview in The Guardian and my first real proper interview about me, about the stuff I do, not the stuff we’d organised around other people. 7 years on and my answer would be kinda similar, I guess. But 7 years on and no-one now would ask any of us “are you the next big thing?”.

I ran up to a few folks, I apologised for having to leave and I threw myself out the door.

For a while I figured it was just the painkillers. I’d been out of hospital for a few weeks and was still huffing them like no bastard else just to get through the days. Maybe going to London to give a talk and to sit on a panel wasn’t the smartest possible thing. But you know, the thing about nearly snuffing it is that it makes an already strong appreciation of good humans even stronger and sometimes, you just know you need to be around good humans. More good humans.

I count myself lucky that for most of my time in games, the vast majority of people I’ve encountered have been and are good humans. Kind people. Gentle people. People who consider other people. I’d met plenty that day who I’d meet again and shake their hands. Their work means so much to me, them being good humans means so much to me.

But I didn’t want to be in that room a moment longer.

It was the last two talks, see.

From hearing people enthusiastic about their work, their craft, their loves within and around videogames, the last two talks marked a severe shift. You have to make Facebook games! You should totally do that! But I don’t want to make Facebook games! I’m here because the only thing I want to do is make the games *I* want to make. I don’t care if it’s good business practice or it’ll teach me something about metrics, it’s not me. I didn’t get into this to make Facebook games. You can’t make me.

The last, how to wring more money from your fans with special editions. Just like Trent Reznor wot did. A lesson in whaling. This isn’t the world I want to be in. This isn’t why I got into games. This isn’t what games mean to me.

I didn’t want to be in a room listening to this, I’m probably going to tell someone to fuck off anytime soon. Best I leave now.

I made my excuses. I left.

I want what I always wanted.

I want people to be safe and to be happy. I want people who want to make videogames to be able to make videogames. I want people who want to play videogames to be able to comfortably play videogames.

And I want people who want to have a shot at making a living from videogames to be able to have one.

I wanted that when I started. I wanted that in 2008 and I want it now.

In some ways, we’re closer than ever before. In other, the same plague still lingers. For the better part of the last year I’ve watched more friends, more peers, more colleagues and explorers in the videogame dimension come under fire. It’s still going on today, rarely relenting.

I’ve watched videogames become an even more hostile place than before.

It was a late night. I hadn’t been working on videogames all night, I don’t do that sort of thing anymore. Health first and all that.

I’d spent a few hours tweaking numbers because gamedev is an extraordinary amount of time spent just tweaking numbers. I punted the results over to the devkit, the blackness turned to the glow of laserlight, purples, blues and reds. A white light in the centre as the player landed onto the screen.

“Yeah, I am fucking good at this”, I thought and closed the computer down for the night.

Five years ago, if someone would have said to me that I’d be sitting here with a console devkit, I’d have laughed in their face. Yet here I am.

Because everything changed. We fought for this and we got to the point where the industry, the videogames industry couldn’t ignore us because there was an appetite, a desire for what we made.

Sure, a lot is still on industry terms but now? So much is on the terms we set. A long, long way from ideal but baby steps and all that.

Five years ago when I ran out of that conference, it felt like the industry would knock forever at our door, success on their terms not ours. Be like them if you want to succeed. Do what they do if you want to succeed.

Fuck that.

Spaces get made. There are other ways.

Five years ago I knew full well you didn’t have to make a Facebook game to get better at making games. Five years ago I knew full well that you could go out there and do business without worrying about how to bleed extra money from the people who loved and respected your work. Fuck. I knew this ten years ago and I know it now. You can take all that and fiddle it around a bit now because damn right there’ll be people saying “but you can’t x without y” to stop folks from stepping up, there’s always something.

I’ve been patiently pushing forward year in, year out watching videogames open up for more and more people, more abilities, more talents, more voices, more people. I can’t think of a single year in all the years I’ve been doing this when nothing happened, when no major changes or shifts occurred. Not one. From how games are made to how games are sold, videogames don’t sit still. I’m watching people now, new folks not old white bearded men like me, bring their own quality stuff to videogames and it’s amazing to watch. They’re going to make so many things so much better as they do. Sure, mistakes will be made but hey, humans and all that.

But y’know, if you tell me that this year will be dull, that this year nothing will happen when we’re riding out the back of one of the largest attacks on the people who work within videogames…

…yeah, I’m going to tell you to fuck off.

Because this has to change and we can’t afford to wait. We need to make videogames a better, safer space for people to work within, for people to be better within and we need to be doing it, like, yesterday. Because videogames aren’t just money, how you sell videogames, they’re not just products. Videogames are the result of people and people are important. Videogames as industry has spent years edging away from this, throwing a few figureheads to the press to keep a face on it whilst talking about SKU and IP and monetization and and and… maybe that’s how we got in this big old fucking mess, yeah?

I just hope we don’t lose too many of these good people before it does change, y’know? Right now videogames, you’re breaking my fucking heart.

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On Patreon

I have a Patreon now.

There’s a running joke with a lot of people who know me that if there’s a way to make sure I don’t make any money from what I do, I’ll find it.

It’s true, I guess.

I’ve long maintained my games at accessible prices, either Pay What You Want, donationware or just flat out giving them away and yeah, I’m giving them away right now because I honestly think there’s a point where you do hand these things over for free, where you say “ok, enough”. I’ve done enough with them, it’s cool. I ran a big sale a few years back and spent all the proceeds on a big haul of shopping for someone who had none. I had a few quid over last year so I paid for a week in a spooky house and took people on holiday there. I’m not very good at making a fortune, I’m really not.

I’ve ran RR out of pocket for years. It gets some contributions to help keep it afloat and I’m grateful for that but the reality is that for the past ten years, I’ve paid out over 10k out my own pocket for the place and then some. Which isn’t a complaint, you have a choice in these things, right? Nobody forced me. Give or take the odd moment here and there, it’s been massively fun too. There’s a few things I’m not proud of along the way, a couple of things I’m sorry for but in the main, we did good I reckon. We made a lot of good things happen in our time. And during that time, I had amazing support from people too, when the shit hit the fan for RR, I never once had to deal with shit without help. I’m so thankful for that.

And I write here and write often for nothing. I’ve only really gone after one paid gig myself and I managed to “do a Rob” and make a mess of that by falling ill the week I was supposed to write something so that never really went anywhere. Truth be told, the kind of stuff I write about isn’t the kind of stuff videogame outlets generally look for anyway and it’s not the sort of stuff that runs to a schedule. I made an exception for Eurogamer recently because I have nothing but the most amazing respect for what Chris does and well, if someone you respect that much asks, be rude to say no.

But generally, writing about being a small developer, writing about the human parts of making games or making sense of the videogame world around us, it doesn’t pay anyway. Occupying a weird niche between opinion piece, explainer of things and intimate tales of my life as a developer? No outlet wants that stuff, especially not on the regular. I like writing here anyway where I can write more freely and be safe knowing that if I fuck up, I’ve got good people who’ll pull me on it and as I’m in control of things, I can sort stuff out pronto. You can’t do that freelance.

And I’ve been ok with all this. In many ways, I still am. No-one makes me do this after all. Also, after being knocked down ill a few times in recent years, it’s been an amazing way to stay sane during some really rough times. Wouldn’t change it, y’know?

But y’know, cash. It’s a bastard.

We’ve tried a few things in the past to ease the burden but nothing’s really sat pretty. Once upon a time a now very famous developer offered, alongside some other folks, to make games we could sell to help ease the costs but I kinda found that awkward and didn’t know quite how to handle it so I let it drift off. I’m glad I did now because there were better things waiting for him and for the rest who offered too. We tried some donation-incentives on RR and that’s cool but again, it was people putting up work to help get out of a rut and I couldn’t square that with my conscience. So.

Patreon seems cool. It’s sort of like donations and stuff but you get to know that because of it, it eases some of the costs of doing what I do. It means that I can justify the time I want to spend writing more without thinking I’m taking away from doing something that would pay a bill instead or get the kid some shoes. And there’s so much stuff I want to write, so many old posts that need to be updated so they can be useful still, I’m sure the world of videogames isn’t going to quieten down anytime soon so I’m not going to be short of stuff to say, yeah?

But more than all that, I’m kinda tired of being just a hairy dude with opinions on things. There’s been times this past year where I’ve near walked away, so many times, but the thing is I still love videogames but I miss being able to write about them. The reality is that with no money in it, there’s only a finite amount of time I can put away to writing things so that’s how I end up writing stuff that’s just bouncing off a thing that happens and being man with opinions. It’s so much nicer writing about games, what they mean to me and what they mean in the wider context of the whole game-i-verse (which is totally a real thing) and I miss that stuff a lot. I’d love to be able to afford myself a few hours here and there to be able to write about videogames proper again.

And it means that maybe, after ten years or so, I might be able to claw a few quid back for doing the things I do. Even a few quid takes some of the worry away, y’know?

But I know times are tough, I know Patreon isn’t something that can be relied upon in the long term. Of course I do because these are the sort of things I spend my days thinking about. For now though? Hopefully it can be a way for people who value what I do to help make it easier for me to do more, to write more. And spare some time to sort out a proper archive of the really useful posts. (All two of them or whatever)

I still feel awkward about it, probably always will, but if you like what I write, what I do and want to help make it easier for me to do more? I’d be grateful for your backing. I’d like to be able to keep on writing, keep on talking about life in videogames and every ounce of support, mo matter how small really, truly helps me be able to do that.

So yeah, I have a Patreon now and I’d be most grateful for your patronage.

Thanks again.

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