Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Gratuitous Space Shooty Game released!!!

And you probably thought I wasn’t still making games right?

After the long and intense development of Democracy 4, which is a HUGE sprawling game with a LOT of code, and a ton of content, and is now in about 10 languages and has 3 expansion packs… it was nice to be able to make something small, and simple, and not at all commercial or serious. With that in mind I started messing around making a space-invaders style vertical shooter, using the art assets I have from an older game of mine: Gratuitous Space Battles.

GSB is pretty old now, but TBH the spaceship graphics for it still look incredibly good to my eyes. I generally think its very wasteful that the games industry hires so many people to make music, SFX and graphics, and then makes a single game with them, never to be re-used in any way. Frankly a spaceship is a spaceship, whether its used in an RTS or a shooter or a turn based grand strategy game.

I know some people worry that gamers will bombard you with abuse for daring to use the same artwork in another game, because they will feel ‘cheated’. This strikes me as utter nonsense. Sensible re-use of assets just makes sense. As a general principle I hate waste, and I love efficiency. Also, not doing something because a tiny, tiny percentage of vocal gamers may complain about it is definitely a losing strategy in gamedev. There are always people who complain about any choice you will make.

After working on this game for a bit, and initially thinking it was a little throwaway thing I’d probably keep to myself, I started to really enjoy its development. I have never made a vertical shooter, but I loved Star Monkey, which is very old, and I am old enough to remember the first space invaders arcade cabinets as a kid, as well as Galaxian (far superior imho) and then Phoenix and the rest. I also spent a lot of time playing Astrosmash on our intellivision console as a kid.

Gratuitous Space Shooty Game is a bit of a mashup of a lot of those shooters, with some extra ideas that occurred during development. My wife playtested it a lot, and HATED the asteroids, so I added a repulsor beam to keep them away from you. Once implemented, it became a very cool new gameplay mechanic, as it allowed you to ‘balance’ attacking ships above you to get some extra shots in before they leave the screen.

During development I experimented with a bunch of ideas, and after a lot of playtesting, I’m happy with what I chose to do. The fact that you can accidentally shoot ship bonuses gives the player an incentive to keep moving and not risk a volley destroying a bonus. Penalizing you for every ship that escapes, INCLUDING the left-right ‘saucer’ ships also adds to the challenge. Making it so that the best power-ups are only dropped by those ships was also a good move from a design POV. Adding friendly ships you have to avoid is an evil mechanic, but its still in there!

In the end I went with 25 levels, and the levels get slightly longer as you go along. I don’t do any adaptive difficulty stuff, although I considered it. I do offer 3 difficulty levels from the start though. The top one is seriously hard. In-between levels you get to spend your cash, earned from shooting aliens and collecting bonuses (and a cool 10% bonus if nobody escapes) on upgrades for your ship.

Right now the game is only on itch, for $3 with a suggestion of $5 if you want to. It will not be a big financial success :D. Because I was doing it for fun, its currently windows only, and fixed aspect ratio of 1920×1080, or scaled to fit fullscreen. Windowed option literally went in the day before release :D. Its English only for now. I may try a google-translate for the limited text at some future point if I do an update to it.

So there you go, its another game by me! the first non-strategy one for a long time. I’m quite proud of it. Its a fun short laptop-friendly game you can play in lunch hour or multiple coffee breaks. If you like the look of it, get a copy!

Making a hobby game!

I’ve been getting very motivated about a little hobby game I’ve been working on in-between dealing with solar farm stuff, and playing the guitar. I have a lot of really cool space-game assets from my old game (some might say classic!) ‘Gratuitous Space Battles‘ and it just feels wrong to have all the art to make a space-invaders style game and not just do it! I decided to call the game ‘Gratuitous Space Shooty Game’.

I am so disorganised that its simpler for me to code a new game engine from scratch than find the hard drive with GSB code on it (or at least all of it), but luckily I have time plus experience, and I can type stupidly fast, so I’ve basically written a new game engine for this little hobby project. Its nothing amazing, the game currently only uses 2 shaders, no clever effects, no amazing visuals, just a simple ‘shoot at static sprites and enjoy some primitive particle effects’ style game:

Obviously its 2023, so just making simple ‘space invaders’ wont cut it even for a hobby game, so there is a lot of influence from stuff like galaxian, and pheonix, and all the other space shooters out there. Right now, the alien movement is very generic and simple, and nothing to shout about. No fancy splines, just left right and down!

The thing thats motivating me about this game is the small scope, and ease of adding new stuff. When I work on a giant commercial game of mine like Production Line or Democracy, every single line of code or change to a single data item needs to be checked and balanced for 11 different languages and every conceivable screen resolution and hardware, then uploaded as a patch to itch, gog, epic, humble and steam. The amount of admin, and busywork required to make marginal changes to a large project can be pretty overwhelming.

With this game, its 1920×1080 res or nothing (stretched to actual resolution, and bordered if necessary), only in English. And right now its not even on any store. This means I can have a cool idea, start typing code, and be testing it within minutes, which makes the development process pretty fun.

I don’t want to put up a public build for it quite yet, because so much of it is just totally broken, or half assed. The current font sucks, and doesn’t even display percentage symbols :D. The gameplay is unbalanced, and there is no high score system that actually stores anything anywhere yet. I reckon I need to code a primitive online high score system, and include music and sfx volume controls before I make it public. Oh and a pause button might be nice too!

I have to say though… its already very very fun. There is something very adrenaline-rushy about playing it on the harder levels, where everything gets a bit hectic. In these days of F2P, monetization, competitive e-sports, multi gigabyte patches, and achievements and so on… there is something very pleasurable about a simple game where you move left and right and hit the fire button!

When I stick it on itch or the humble widget I’ll post about it here :D.

Democracy 4’s overcomplexity is by design

When I first started to make games back in the middle ages, there was very little in the way of academic discussion regarding how to do it. All existing games were designed by people who were pioneers, just ‘winging it’ and putting stuff into a game because it was ‘cool’. That child-like excitement and enthusiasm lasted a long time, but eventually the video games industry got large enough that companies needed more design staff, and people had to start teaching game design in schools, colleges and universities.

Academia has its own language, and its own way of doing things. Personally, I hate academic language. I often find that reading academic papers on a topic is 5% information and 95% display of how clever the author wants people to think they are. There is a lot of inherent snobbery in language, where people think that discussing concepts in an academic tone makes them appear cleverer than they are.

This is backwards.

It takes skill to explain a complex topic in simple language. Its also way, way more helpful. Its 2023 now, and we live in a hyper-connected world, and very much a multilingual one. A non trivial percentage of people reading this bog post will not have English as their first language. If I try and show off my vocabulary, I would impress hardly anyone, and infuriate almost everyone. Simple language is good.

I think a lot of modern game design discussion is over academic. It gets obsessed with ‘player verbs’ and ‘tight loops’ and ‘core design pillars’. That sort of language looks good in a game design document that you can show to your boss at a performance review to make them pay you more. I’m sure it has its place. However, I think this obsession with the academic analysis of video games is often destructive as it actually kills off the freewheeling experimental ‘lets just try this’ attitude which often leads to the most interesting game designs.

My most famous game is the Democracy series, of which Democracy 4 is the latest incarnation. Its a political strategy game where the player runs the country. Its 2D and icon-based, and looks like a giant super-complex and uber-connected infographic that the player navigates. The main UI screen for the game is a symphony of information-overload and looks like this:

I suspect anyone who was submitting this screenshot as a mock-up in a game design course at a university would get a D minus. Its clearly overcomplex. It puts too much burden on the player to identify whats important. Its messy, its confusing, it has too much data in one place. Try harder next time.

Except…that is the whole point. Overcomplexity is a feature, not a bug in Democracy 4. This is something that a few reviewers, and a few players do not get, and I understand why. Modern game design has been sanitized and simplified to the extreme. The player is treated often like an idiot, with the information-processing capability of a puppy. We never give the player too much choice, or too much information at any point. That would be BAD game design, that needs ‘reworking to streamline the UX’.

God I hate ‘streamlining’.

Whenever big tech companies like google or Microsoft talk about how their new UI is ‘more streamlined’. it inevitably means ‘its way worse, but it looks simpler’. Whoever thought that we should start hiding scrollbars until you go hunting for them should be sentenced to life imprisonment. There seems to be some belief among UX designers that options and information are things that cause infectious disease, and need to be hidden away whenever possible.

Anyway… thats not actually my point.

Sometimes, a game is deliberately BAD by a conventional metric, because its trying to create an atmosphere. Thats intentional. Thats something all forms of entertainment or art does, at least if the creator has a vision for what they are doing. The Omaha beach level in the original ‘Medal of Honor’ game was catastrophically hard. Like mega-hard. Insane hard. You try at least a dozen times before you even make it to the first ditch hard. THATS THE POINT. If your game is representing something incredibly difficult, it needs to BE difficult. Being scared of triggering any ‘negative’ emotion in the audience makes for incredibly sanitized, tedious, unchallenging, and unrewarding art.

Running an entire country is nightmareishly complicated. Being President or Prime Minister is shockingly complex. Just imagine how many different topics you need to be familiar with in order to make the right decisions to run an entire country. Its insane. There is good reason that being US President seems to create accelerated aging. The amount of information presented to a President in just an hour is ridiculous, in 4 years its nuts. And ALL of it is absolutely vital. You don’t get to put a document in front of a US president unless its absolutely important and probably urgent.

The best thing you can do with any game design, or any book, or movie, or music is to generate emotion. If we want information, we will read/watch non-fiction. We open ourselves up to entertainment because we want to be moved emotionally into some state. That might be fear, in a horror game, or a sense of calm flow in a factory game, or a sense of excitement and adrenaline in an FPS. This is the ‘core design pillar’ if you must use such a term. The game must generate some feeling in the player.

I know some people dislike Democracy 4 because the icon-based gameplay is not what they expect. They expect to have a 3D avatar of the president (These tend to be US players who only want to be the USA…) that walks around a 3D oval office and see animated soldiers saluting to them etc… But to me, thats not what being a president is about.

Ultimately the only thing that makes a president good or bad, is what decisions did they take? and did they make the country better? Speeches are great, having charisma is nice, being good at shaking hands or tweeting is all good, but what really matters is what did they do. Given the situation, how did they act? and why?

This is what I try to convey in Democracy 4. You are the president and you have a LOT of things to pay attention to, and YES it s overwhelming, and NO you do not have enough time/bandwidth to process all this, and you need to actually go with your gut and make emotional rather than analytical decisions very often because there simply is TOO MUCH data, so you have to play the game in a different way to most strategy games you have played. There are just too many variables, and too many equations and too much data. Thats the WHOLE POINT.

With anything interesting, you are going to lose some part of the audience. I definitely lose players, and generate refunds among some, because they find the game ‘not fun’ and ‘over-complex’. Thats to be expected. I suspect I gain more players than I lose, because this experience is not on offer anywhere else. Other game designers would simplify, or streamline the game. They would try and ‘guide the player gradually through a tightly constrained path of easy decisions’. I will not do that, because its not the vision I have for the game.

You can make your game too hard, or too fast, or too weird, or confusing. Its all ok. As long as you have a vision for what you want the player to feel, and you deliver on the promise and generate that feeling then everything is cool. Sometimes its ok for the player to feel overwhelmed, or confused, or freaked-out. Sometimes thats EXACTLY what its all about.

Democracy 4 is not too complex. Neither is Dwarf Fortress. Dark Souls is not too hard. Surgeon Simulator’s control scheme is not too fiddly. Agatha Christie is not too formulaic. Star Trek doesnt have too much technobabble. Its all absolutely fine.

Democracy 4 is on steam, epic store, gog, humble store and itch.

Inertia scaling in Democracy 4 (new feature)

I recently added some code to Democracy 4 which introduces a new configurable option for people who are really into the game. This is not ‘live’ yet but will be in the next update. I have not totally settled on a name for it yet, but I think I’ll call it something like ‘opinion inertia boost’, because that ties in with other uses of the term throughout the game. So what is it?

Inertia already exists in the game. Every effect that a policy, an event, a dilemma choice or anything else may have on anything can have some inertia applied to it. This means that instead of X affecting Y, and it being a simple equation, in fact its an equation that takes the average value of X over a certain number of turns, which is an integer called ‘inertia’. You can see the value of inertia at the far right of any of the indicators in the game that show an effect:

The inertia is a value set by me, or by a modder, and its fixed. Its basically part of the equation, and set in stone. There has not yet been any way to change this by the player or during the game.

Inertia plays a vital role in making the game both realistic and fun. In practice, if you introduce grants for business startups, it does not convert 500,000 citizens to become capitalists the next day. The impact is going to take years. people need to hear about the grants, apply for them, see their business do well, tell their friends, people have to read newspaper stories about this happening… and perhaps even more relevantly, people who were once socialists but get ‘converted’ to capitalism have to slowly get out of the habits of their previous views, and adopt new ones, even in opposition to their friends/family and peers.

I see this sort of thing happen quite a lot, and have witnessed it with both friends and relatives. When peoples circumstances change, they tend to continue to cling to their existing core beliefs and principles, but over a period of time, opinions will change. With weakly held opinions, its quick to change, but with deeply ingrained beliefs, especially those that come from family, change can take a very long time.

I’m an example of this myself. I grew up in a very working class circumstance. My mother was a trade union representative at work, where she worked as a filing clerk for a trade union HQ (different union!) so she was Trade Unionist to the power of two! My father was also a union rep. We went on exciting day trips to the labour party conference. I read the communist manifesto, and Das Kapital as a teenager.

Fast forward thirty five years and I am a director of two companies, who trades on the stock market, and has employed people and run a multinational company (albeit v small). I’ve even worked on stock market trading floors. I own a single book by Ayn Rand (which I thought was interesting, albeit pretty ranty and very repetitive). My views have definitely changed over time, and with changes in circumstances.

The point is… change of core beliefs takes time. We all think we would keep the same principles until death, but thats unlikely. Societal change is very real. You might think your views regarding being liberal/conservative or left/right are very deeply held sensible views you independently arrived at, but this is very unlikely. I thought I was right as a teenage communist.

So the big question is… how long does it take for politics and society to convert someone from being hard right to hard left, or liberal to conservative? I have no definitive answer, but its a long time. Democracy 4 limits all inertia to a maximum value of 32, for technical reasons, which is 8 years. probably not long enough…

Like all games, Democracy 4 has to balance fun with realism. Not many games have a core mechanic of it taking 32 turns for you to see the impact of your choices, especially not if you can lose the game in an election in maybe 16 turns. Thats pretty brutal. Not only does this make the game hard, it also makes it frustrating. If inertia is too high, many players will just think ‘the game is random’ and complain about the RNG. Ironically there are very very few random numbers in the game…

Plus many players will not bother reading the tutorial or looking at the tooltips. I bet a good 30% of the people who play the game don’t even know inertia is a thing, or where to find it. Most players don’t really know what they are doing, because people have 1,000 games and no time to devote to learning the intricacies. If I modelled inertia realistically, a lot of frustrated players would have no fun.

…and yet…

There are definitely players who feel that they would prefer realism over ‘simple fun’. These players are frustrated that real societal change feels so easy in the game. If they want to convert France to a Capitalist state, they WANT to have to really struggle to take its left leaning population slowly along for the ride. They WANT change to be slow, and take longer, which is why I am adding this cool little slider to the games option screen:

This slider defaults to zero, where it has no impact, and goes as high as to add a 3x modifier. At the far right it will triple the inertia values for all inputs to socialism and liberalism. This will make all policies and events and dilemma choices act more slowly on the membership of these voter groups. (One value affects membership for both socialism and capitalism, on a spectrum and the same for liberal/conservative).

I’ve written all the code, and tested it works on both new games and save games. Everything seems fine but I will do a bunch of playthroughs before I do a new update that includes this slider. I’m pretty sure that 95% of players will never experiment with it at all, but I have enough players that I think its worth adding it all the same. It definitely gives me an easy answer to anybody who comments at me telling me that this part of the game is unrealistic!

Note that this difficulty in changing the country’s views is very much a real world modern problem. Even if Joe Biden was a communist, there is no way he can convert the majority of the US electorate over to his views in a single term. Arguably all Obama managed to do, in his entire tenure, is to get the affordable health care act in place, and it comes nowhere close to being a state health service like the NHS in the UK. Even a popular US president, with control of the house & senate, has to move extremely slowly in changing what the acceptable size of the state is, or changing social policy.

Trump found it almost impossible to actually build a wall, Obama found it impossible to close Guantanamo. Blair did very little in terms of raising taxes, Thatcher did very little in lowering them. Change takes real time.

One final thing: This slider only affects liberal/conservative and socialist/capitalist. I am unsure whether it should also affect membership of the religious group. Opinions very much welcome. I don’t think it should affect most groups, as peoples membership of these is a lot more fickle and easily swayed.

You are unimportant. This is ok.

How psychopathic narcissist CEOs teamed up with money obsessed statisticians to trick gamers into thinking they are heroes

I recently watched a video about dark matter, which casually threw out a reference to a particular group of about 100 galaxies. I also recall seeing one of the first images from the James Webb space telescope, which covered a trivial, tiny piece of the night sky, and showed hundreds of galaxies. Galaxies are HUGE, and we can’t even see all of them. Even our tiny little solar system is huge, its hard to get your head around the distances involved in space. Mars is a LONG way away. Hell, I’m impressed with how big my country (the UK) is. I certainly would not casually walk from one end to the other. Even walking to the nearest shop seems a long way away.

I’ve sold over 3 million games. Even as I type this, it seems ridiculous. Its taken a long time to do it, about 20 years, but still its a pretty good record to have hit. In comparison to a lot of solo indie devs, it seems staggeringly high. But guess what… My business is irrelevant, a rounding error. Activision have no idea I exist, nor do they worry about me as a competitor, I’m sure Epic, or Microsoft and Apple also would consider me an infinitesimally small and irrelevant speck in the world of software.

The thing is, I am kind of fine with that. It is the absolute stunning height of arrogance to look at a world of billions of humans and assume that in some way you are one of the most important ones there. Absolute insanity. And yet… this seems to be an attitude that is getting more and more prevalent in society.

Video games have definitely played some part in this. Video games are totally different to movies, books, plays and operas. These are tales of other people. There is a Hero, or Heroine and they are special, and what they do shapes the story, and the story is basically THEIR story. They change the world, they save the world, they explore the world. And we read about it, and are impressed.

Video games let you actually be the hero, and then let you make decisions so that you really FEEL like the hero. This is a big difference. You are not witnessing great events, you are shaping them. Go you! You must be so awesome. Everyone else is just a ‘non-player-character’ (NPC), and their contribution to the universe is to help you on your epic quest. Their lives are irrelevant, as you can see from most MMOs now. They just stand there, waiting for an interaction with YOU the hero. You are the reason they stand in that marketplace all day hoping to find someone to give a quest to. Don’t worry, they wont give the quest to anybody else, only you. Everyone else is just filler. Its all about YOU.

And this would not be too bad a thing, as a little bit of escapist fun. I’ve played my fair share of video games and still manage to function in society (more or less). I think the problem is, that this is spilling out into society at large. Mostly because of our old nemesis: social media.

The idea that we all have a ‘feed’ and ‘stories’ that we must update on an hourly basis is laughable. Social media firms tell us we need to keep our timelines populated with interesting stuff so that our followers (yes we actually call them followers, a bit like disciples) can keep themselves informed about the minutiae of our lives. Its somehow EXTREMELY important that we keep our vast crowds of followers informed.

Twitter is currently in a furious legal dispute with Elon Musk over whether or not twitter lies about how many of its accounts are bots, and therefore likely fake. Some bots are to be expected… but more than 5%? Some say its vastly higher, and when you think about it, twitter has a huge vested interest in artificially inflating follower counts. Why on earth would you bother tweeting when you know you have 0 or 2 followers? Give a man 1,000 followers and they will feel special. Give them 10,000 followers and they will feel amazing.

Last time I looked I had about 10k followers, but I’m determined not to care. If they swept out fakes and it turns out I have 100 followers I’d just find it funny. I’m just a middle aged dude who makes computer games and plays guitar as a hobby. How do I have *any* followers? I’m not a famous philosopher or the prime minister. Why should anybody care about my life unless they actually know me? Do you REALLY want to know what meal I ate yesterday? or what I think of some new TV show? Why?

Luckily I am 52 or 53, can’t even remember now. This means I’m not in the peak target demographic for social media, where billion dollar businesses are desperate to give you body-shape dis-morphia, or a worry about skin blemishes, or a need to have urgent plastic surgery to make your nose 1% more attractive. We have a vast sprawling empire of businesses who exist based on a single premise: “You are unattractive”, and now we feed into the whole beauty industry with a new feeder-industry called social media. Instagram makes money by telling your your friends are more attractive than you. Then the skincare/cosmetics industry swoops in to make more money by claiming to fix it. Problem and solution wrapped up in one nice self-reinforcing money-machine.

The problem is… most of us are not actually going to be heroes. We will not save the day. Most of us will never be on the news. Most of us will never sign autographs, never trend on twitter, never be front page on reddit, and even if we do, its hardly world changing fame anyway. Its not all about us, all the time.

The reason I complain about this? because its come back full circle to video games and ruined them. There was a time, back in the distant rosy past where video games were cool and fun and the word ‘monetization’ had yet to be bastardized into existence. Back then, you just bought a game, and played it with friends. Some of the most fun gaming sessions of my life were playing as team in ‘return to castle wolfenstein’ when I worked at Elixir, or when I played against some serious hardcore gamers in the testing department at Lionhead for our lunchtime or after-work Call of Duty sessions.

Both games were very much team games. The aim was to work as a team. Are we defending the bunker tonight? or assaulting it? Emphasis on WE, not I. We worked together, picking roles that supported each other, and what mattered was which team won. Nicely balanced, pretty immersive. I could tell who is on my team, because tonight we are th Germans, or because tonight we are the Americans. Storm that beach!

This is all gone now

The trouble with the ‘saving private ryan’ concept of an online team shooter is twofold. Firstly, everyone is working together as a team, which means YOU are no longer the most important person in the universe. Secondly, I cannot sell you hats. If you are all dressed as the Wehrmacht, or as American GIs… then where is the opportunity for micro-transactions? How the hell are we supposed to profit off gambling addictions in the 1% of rich players if you all dress the same? madness.

EA/DICE have now completed their absolute destruction of what used to be a very successful, very popular, very highly-regarded and profitable gaming series: Battlefield. The same was done by Activision by another competing but equally huge franchise: Call Of Duty. Both games totally and utterly destroyed, robbed of all immersion, with all sense of teamwork blown to pieces, all sense of being part of a big event, a small cog in a big wheel… totally ripped apart so the guys in suits (who have never played a video game in their whole life) can sell you more expensive hats.

Of course its didn’t end with hats. You and I might think selling $100 virtual hats to people with addiction issues is a good days work, but you aren’t thinking as cynically as the people who took over gaming do. You can only wear a single hat at a time you idiot! Lets sell you masks, shoes, gloves, and DIFFERENT COLOR GUNS. Yes, for every gun, lets have multiple skins, for each part of the gun. You want a gold plated muzzle on your sten gun? well boy do we have a good deal for you today, 50% off at just 5,000 credits. Not Dollars of course, if we priced stuff in dollars you might see how ridiculous it is. Its all priced in a currency that never sub-divides into round numbers of items…

Now in a sense, I don’t care if other people want to be ripped off for such trinkets. I’ve bought a single hat in Battlefield V, mostly as an experiment. I grinded through 1,300 hours to unlock absolutely everything else. Why should I care if other people prefer to just shovel money rather than… play the game… in order to ‘unlock’ all of that content that we apparently did not pay for when spending $60 on the game…

The reason I care is that I am now in a fancy dress ball instead of a war. Its true, not all uniforms would have been identical. Some soldiers got separated from their units in battle and got drafted into fill gaps in existing units. Some may have got hold of some decent winter scarves or boots from the body of some poor civilian. Some of the soldiers would be carrying different gear, or maybe uniforms would be tweaked depending if you were a radio-dude or a line infantryman… But no. Nothing exucse the ridiculous fancy dress car crash that is a modern online shooter.

Do not be under ANY illusion that the people with any vague sense of artistic skill think that this is ok. NOBODY at a games company who actually designs characters is sat there looking at an American GI, Someone wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses, someone with a clown mask on, and someone with luminous dreadlocks holding a pink bazooka, thinking ‘Yup, this is how I imagine world war 2 looked’. Anybody with any artistic sense at all knows its just a huge, embarrassing kowtowing to the gods of monetization.

And actually…thats bad enough, but its not even the worst thing. The worst thing is that for a sizeable chunk of modern game sessions… I’m not allowed to play. Not for any technical reason, but because the end of each round MUST contain a lot of mini cut-scenes where we show the victory animations of the clown, the dreadlocked bazooka kid, and the skateboarding panzergrenadier. Everyone HAS to have their moment, where the camera zooms into them in slow motion, where we all get to see in closeup that they spent extra money on that little silver pocketwatch strapped to their top hat. We are forced to spend as much time as we can bear looking at the amazing outfits of the other players, like we are fucking fashion correspondents at the paris fashion show. Modern shooters don’t have battlefields. They have catwalks.

Oh and those stupid victory poses, and the absolutely cringe inducing ‘sassy’ lines they speak? Yup, everyone hates those too, and they even silenced them after player outrage in Battlefield 2042, but they HAVE to be there, because after the hats, the masks, the dreadlocks, the skateboards, the gun skins, the victory poses… some idiot thought they could make even MORE money selling cringe-inducing victory quips.

Stop trying to pretend I am a hero, or more importantly I COULD be a hero if only I spent enough on microtransactions. I don’t care. I am fine with the concept of just enjoying an experience. I don’t need to be the center of attention. FFS probably half the world are introverts. Half of us (and we are clearly underrepresented in the boards of directors at games companies) are the kind of people who would DREAD everyone looking at what we are wearing and passing judgement.

Modern hero-shooters are a bastardization of decent games, driven by the unrelenting avarice of money obsessed suits who hate gaming, and by the narcissistic savior-complexes of the psychopaths who run games companies. I have advice for both:

Monetization guru: Please fuck off back to the stock market where you can play with numbers and be as cynical as you want all day without ruining peoples entertainment.

Game CEOs: Please get some fucking therapy. Not everyone wants to be you, not everyone is you, not everyone wants a thousand spotlights on them, not everyone daydreams about being on the cover of Newsweek. Blame that private school education that gave you an overinflated ego, and an inability to understand other people.

Yes. This is a rant, as all my blog posts turned into, but its a rant from the heart from a gamer who just despairs at how the industry he is a tiny tony (and happy to be so) part of has been ruined so dramatically.

Don’t forget to tweet and share this article. Its hugely important to my self worth to know that it is vastly popular*

*no it isn’t.