The Hunger Games, Dredd and the 12ification of culture


I initially thought that The Hunger Games was a really good film. A really good film. It had all the ingredients, after all: a perfectly-cast Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, Suzanne Collins as screenwriter, and a sympathetic director who really seemed to understand the material. The opening scenes of shaky-cammed apocalyptic gloom offset against the slick Truman Show-style televisation were perfectly pitched, so it was disappointing as the film inexorably slid into mediocrity the minute the violence started. Or didn’t, as it turned out.  Continue reading

10 ways to end the world in style


If I didn’t have a prior appointment with a nice mug of hot chocolate and an early night, I’d be throwing a 2012 Party tonight. I mean, nobody really thinks the world’s going to end tomorrow, right? (Although if the world is supposed to end when we least expect it, then we least expect it tomorrow, which means that … *brain explodes*)

If you are throwing an End Of World Mayan Prophecy Party (and nobody really thinks the Mayans actually believed that, right?), here’s how to celebrate in style:

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10 of the Most Hilariously OTT Death Scenes Ever

Machete Rodriguez Trejo Alba DeNiro Johnson Seagal

Kareteci Kız

This 1973 Turkish film has one of the funniest, silliest death scenes ever. Someone hand the guy an Oscar!
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ORE interview with Bethesda’s Megan and Erik

The following article appeared in the January 2008 issue of the Oblivion’s Real Estate newsletter (a game modding site). Princess Stomper interviews Megan Sawyer and Erik J. Caponi from Bethesda.

Something’s very wrong here. Computer game designers, by all rights, ought to be socially inept nerds – the hellish spawn of Comic Book Guy and Napoleon Dynamite. They surely shouldn’t be like environment artist Megan “Ghostgirl” Sawyer – pretty in a cute, funky sort of way, with a penchant for cool toys and loud music. They certainly shouldn’t be like writer Erik “DoctorSpooky” Caponi – strikingly handsome, with “Vin Diesel’s haircut” and a rock band goatee. He has the highest quality-to-quantity ratio of almost any poster on the Official Forums. Oh yeah, and he makes quests. We’ll start with him.

Erik: I came on pretty late in Oblivion’s development. I got the chance to work on a few of the Settlement Quests as well as various late-stage writing and design tasks. I was one third of the design team for Knights of the Nine and was responsible for a few of the quests as well as the final battle against Umaril’s minions and the battle with his spirit in the sky over Cyrodiil. On Shivering Isles, I was responsible for Retaking The Fringe and Symbols of Office as well as a lot of freeform design. I was also the designer on a couple of the downloadable content packs. Primarily what I do around here is known as “Freeform Gameplay”. I started with it on Shivering Isles and it’s now my full time role on Fallout. What it means is that I’m responsible for gameplay content that isn’t related to quests. This can take the form of incidental dialog, NPC behavior, scripted scenes, town dialog, world encounters, lore, conversation systems, as well as any one of a million different things that might not be tied directly to a particular quest.  Continue reading

ORE interview with Bethesda’s Gstaff

Matt at Arcane University

Matt at Arcane University

The following article appeared in the November 2007 issue of the Oblivion’s Real Estate newsletter (a game modding site). It was my first interview of any kind – and my first piece of journalistic writing – since 2001, and long before I was invited to moderate Beth’s forum. The questions were compiled from responses in an open forum thread, and there were many ‘hug’ requests in the thread which saw their way into the final interview.

It was all going horribly wrong for Bethesda. After effortlessly acquiring the “love brand” status other companies spend millions trying to manufacture, they’d grown too quickly to keep pace with their legion of adoring fans and were increasingly seen as an Aloof, Faceless Corporation that Didn’t Care. The forums were horrible, the DLCs a PR nightmare, and “we modders” were demanding – needing – to feel appreciated and supported. To be hugged a little bit.

Enter stage-right 27 year-old “GStaff”, chief fanwrangler for the past six months. The blog’s up, there’s a free DLC, the forums are friendlier than ever, but we still don’t really know who our CM really is. So, GStaff agreed to take questions from the ORE floor, starting with a proper introduction.  Continue reading

Missing Logic: The Road

Despite hating the book so much that I left it on a train so that it would no longer sully my handbag, I willingly watched the film of The Road. I figured the only way it could replicate the book’s irritation factor would be to be. Shot. Entirely. In. Rapid. Jump. Cuts.

It wasn’t.

That’s way too much punctuation for the start of this feature, considering the book has hardly any, but there we go. The book’s b*llocks, so what’s wrong with the film?  Continue reading

Adam Adamowicz

Sad news indeed that Bethesda’s concept artist, Adam Adamowicz, has passed away. Moving tributes have been posted at Ain’t It Cool News and This Is My Joystick among many other sites. The artist featured as part of Bethesda’s Inside the Vault interview series on their blog a while back.

Although Adam did work on Skyrim, he was responsible for pretty much the entire look of Fallout 3, designing everything from mutants to weapons. Here is some of his work.

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I’m going to play every game I own on Steam part 2


Doom 3

On the load-up screen, the game required two security keys, but I could only find the one key. Since it was therefore impossible to play, I had to skip it and make a mental note to contact Steam to find out where to get the other key.

Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil


Can you believe it? I had never played a Doom game in my life until tonight. Oddly enough, it’s just like the Doom movie, which is based on the Doom III game. It’s a very simple if rather slick run-and-gun game, though the sound effects are wonderfully creepy and it is genuinely tense. Mostly you’re just shooting floating heads out of the sky. I didn’t stick around with it long, but I can definitely see why the games are so popular.

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5 Great Moments From Fallout 3

As Fallout: New Vegas sits waiting in my Steam folder, locked but ready to go, I’m once again mentally preparing to explore the post-apocalyptic Wasteland.

Here are of my favourite moments from Fallout 3. What are yours?


About midway through the Broken Steel DLC mini-expansion, I was making my way through an underground network of caverns, and getting a little creeped out by the sound effects. There were deathclaws down here, and those things could kill me with a single blow. Things were getting pretty tense until there was one bit where I thought the end was in sight and started to relax. Suddenly – WHUMP! – something flew at me from above! A freaking dead body had gone flying through the air and landed about two inches from my feet. I barely had time to register it before a deathclaw jumped down about two feet in front of me. I unloaded into it at point-blank range and very luckily managed to bring it down just before it could finish me off. If the heart attack didn’t get me first, that is.


From the beautifully-scripted introduction to the part where we were wandering through the fairylight-filled cave system, I was as wide-eyed and spellbound as a kid in Disneyland.


Just a tiny little moment. I found a subway ticket stub, and then one of the game’s robots marched past. “Tickets, please” it barked, and I wondered for a minute just how cool it would be if it actually inspected my ticket, before dismissing the idea as just too trivial and silly for any developer to bother with. When the robot took my ticket, I was grinning from ear to ear for about an hour. Continue reading