Welcome, etc. There’s a lot of content on this site. I’ve been doing this since 2005, so there’s bound to be something to interest you. Below is a list of the most popular stuff.
Fixing Match 3
For one of the most popular casual games in existence, Match 3 is actually really broken. Until one developer fixed it.
Shamus Plays WOW
Ever wondered what's in all those quest boxes you've never bothered to read? Get ready: They're more insane than you might expect.
id Software Coding Style
When the source code for Doom 3 was released, we got a look at some of the style conventions used by the developers. Here I analyze this style and explain what it all means.
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round
I'm not surprised a fighting game has an absurd story. I just can't figure out why they bothered with the story at all.
In Defense of Crunch
Crunch-mode game development isn't good, but sometimes it happens for good reasons.
A look at the main Borderlands games. What works, what doesn't, and where the series can go from here.
Final Fantasy X
A game about the ghost of an underwater football player who travels through time to save the world from a tick that controls kaiju satan. Really.
The Best of 2016
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2016.
Why I Hated Resident Evil 4
Ever wonder how seemingly sane people can hate popular games? It can happen!
Project Button Masher
I teach myself music composition by imitating the style of various videogame soundtracks. How did it turn out? Listen for yourself.
Are Lootboxes Gambling?
Obviously they are. Right? Actually, is this another one of those sneaky hard-to-define things?
The No Politics Rule
Here are 6 reasons why I forbid political discussions on this site. #4 will amaze you. Or not.
Skyrim Thieves Guild
The Thieves Guild quest in Skyrim is a vortex of disjointed plot-holes, contrivances, and nonsense.
Blistering Stupidity of Fallout 3
Yeah, this game is a classic. But the story is idiotic, incoherent, thematically confused, and patronizing.
If Star Wars Was Made in 2006?
Imagine if the original Star Wars hadn't appeared in the 1970's, but instead was pitched to studios in 2006. How would that turn out?
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.
Joker's Last Laugh
Did you anticipate the big plot twist of Batman: Arkham City? Here's all the ways the game hid that secret from you while also rubbing your nose in it.
The product of fandom run unchecked, this novel began as a short story and grew into something of a cult hit.
Steam Summer Blues
This mess of dross, confusion, and terrible UI design is the storefront the big publishers couldn't beat? Amazing.
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
Shamus Plays LOTRO
As someone who loves Tolkein lore and despises silly MMO quests, this game left me deeply conflicted.
What Does a Robot Want?
No, self-aware robots aren't going to turn on us, Skynet-style. Not unless we designed them to.
Top 64 Videogames
Lists of 'best games ever' are dumb and annoying. But like a self-loathing hipster I made one anyway.
The true story of three strange days in 1989, when the last months of my adolescence ran out and the first few sparks of adulthood appeared.
A programming project where I set out to make a Minecraft-style world so I can experiment with Octree data.
Silent Hill 2 Plot Analysis
A long-form analysis on one of the greatest horror games ever made.
The Death of Half-Life
Valve still hasn't admitted it, but the Half-Life franchise is dead. So what made these games so popular anyway?
How to Forum
Dear people of the internet: Please stop doing these horrible idiotic things when you talk to each other.
The Plot-Driven Door
You know how videogames sometimes do that thing where it's preposterously hard to go through a simple door? This one is really bad.
Quakecon Keynote 2013 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
DM of the Rings
Both a celebration and an evisceration of tabletop roleplaying games, by twisting the Lord of the Rings films into a D&D game.
Philosophy of Moderation
The comments on most sites are a sewer of hate, because we're moderating with the wrong goals in mind.
Do you like electronic music? Do you like free stuff? Are you okay with amateur music from someone who's learning? Yes? Because that's what this is.
The Truth About Piracy
What are publishers doing to fight piracy and why is it all wrong?
Good Robot Dev Blog
An ongoing series where I work on making a 2D action game from scratch.
A video discussing Megatexture technology. Why we needed it, what it was supposed to do, and why it maybe didn't totally work.
The Middle Ages
Would you have survived in the middle ages?
Why The Christmas Shopping Season is Worse Every Year
Everyone hates Black Friday sales. Even retailers! So why does it exist?
Secret of Good Secrets
Sometimes in-game secrets are fun and sometimes they're lame. Here's why.
Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot
Since we're rebooting everything, MASH will probably come up eventually. Here are some casting suggestions.
The Best of 2015
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2015.
The Strange Evolution of OpenGL
Sometimes software is engineered. Sometimes it grows organically. And sometimes it's thrown together seemingly at random over two decades.
Artless in Alderaan
People were so worried about the boring gameplay of The Old Republic they overlooked just how boring and amateur the art is.
The Best of 2011
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.
Let's ruin everyone's fun by listing all the ways in which zombies can't work, couldn't happen, and don't make sense.
The Witch Watch
My first REAL published book, about a guy who comes back from the dead due to a misunderstanding.
Why Batman Can't Kill
His problem isn't that he's dumb, the problem is that he bends the world he inhabits.
Crysis 2 has basically the same plot as Half-Life 2. So why is one a classic and the other simply obnoxious and tiresome?
Spec Ops: The Line
A videogame that judges its audience, criticizes its genre, and hates its premise. How did this thing get made?
Was it a Hack?
A big chunk of the internet went down in October of 2016. What happened? Was it a hack?
Batman: Arkham City
A look back at one of my favorite games. The gameplay was stellar, but the underlying story was clumsy and oddly constructed.
Trusting the System
How do you know the rules of the game are what the game claims? More importantly, how do the DEVELOPERS know?
A stream-of-gameplay review of Dead Island. This game is a cavalcade of bugs and bad design choices.
Bad and Wrong Music Lessons
A music lesson for people who know nothing about music, from someone who barely knows anything about music.
Programming Language for Games
Game developer Jon Blow is making a programming language just for games. Why is he doing this, and what will it mean for game development?
Resident Evil 4
Who is this imbecile and why is he wandering around Europe unsupervised?
Another PC Golden Age?
Is it real? Is PC gaming returning to its former glory? Sort of. It's complicated.
The Best of 2017
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2017.
A Star is Born
Remember the superhero MMO from 2009? Neither does anyone else. It was dumb. So dumb I was compelled to write this.
Pixel City Dev Blog
An attempt to make a good looking cityscape with nothing but simple tricks and a few rectangles of light.
Best. Plot Twist. Ever.
Few people remember BioWare's Jade Empire, but it had a unique setting and a really well-executed plot twist.
Video Compression Gone Wrong
How does image compression work, and why does it create those ugly spots all over some videos and not others?
The Gradient of Plot Holes
Most stories have plot holes. The failure isn't that they exist, it's when you notice them while immersed in the story.
This Game is Too Videogame-y
What's wrong with a game being "too videogameish"?
So what happens when a SOFTWARE engineer tries to review hardware? This. This happens.
WAY back in 2005, I wrote about a D&D campaign I was running. The campaign is still there, in the bottom-most strata of the archives.
Mass Effect Retrospective
A novel-sized analysis of the Mass Effect series that explains where it all went wrong. Spoiler: It was long before the ending.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
The Terrible New Thing
Fidget spinners are ruining education! We need to... oh, never mind the fad is over. This is not the first time we've had a dumb moral panic.
The Loot Lottery
What makes the gameplay of Borderlands so addictive for some, and what does that have to do with slot machines?
Bethesda felt the need to jam a morality system into Fallout 3, and they blew it. Good and evil make no sense and the moral compass points sideways.
Silent Hill Turbo HD II
I was trying to make fun of how Silent Hill had lost its way but I ended up making fun of fighting games. Whatever.
The Best of 2013
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2013.
Could Have Been Great
Here are four games that could have been much better with just a little more work.
There are two major schools of thought about how you should write software. Here's what they are and why people argue about it.
C++ is a wonderful language for making horrible code.
The Biggest Game Ever
How did this niche racing game make a gameworld so massive, and why is that a big deal?
Denuvo and the "Death" of Piracy
Denuvo videogame DRM didn't actually kill piracy, but it did stop it for several months. Here's what we learned from that.
Starcraft: Bot Fight
Let's do some scripting to make the Starcraft AI fight itself, and see how smart it is. Or isn't.
Linux vs. Windows
Finally, the age-old debate has been settled.
Juvenile and Proud
Yes, this game is loud, crude, childish, and stupid. But it it knows what it wants to be and nails it. And that's admirable.
Game at the Bottom
Why spend millions on visuals that are just a distraction from the REAL game of hotbar-watching?
A look back at Star Trek, from the Original Series to the Abrams Reboot.
The Game That Ruined Me
Be careful what you learn with your muscle-memory, because it will be very hard to un-learn it.
A video Let's Play series I collaborated on from 2009 to 2017.
PC Gaming Golden Age
It's not a legend. It was real. There was a time before DLC. Before DRM. Before crappy ports. It was glorious.
Mass Effect 3 Ending Deconstruction
Did you dislike the ending to the Mass Effect trilogy? Here's my list of where it failed logically, thematically, and tonally.
What did web browsers look like 20 years ago, and what kind of crazy features did they have?
The story of me. If you're looking for a picture of what it was like growing up in the seventies, then this is for you.
Two minutes of fun at the expense of a badly-run theme park.
MMO Population Problems
Computers keep getting more powerful. So why do the population caps for massively multiplayer games stay about the same?
The Best of 2014
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2014.
Starcraft 2: Rush Analysis
I write a program to simulate different strategies in Starcraft 2, to see how they compare.
The Biggest Game Ever
Just how big IS No Man's Sky? What if you made a map of all of its landmass? How big would it be?
What is Piracy?
It seems like a simple question, but it turns out everyone has a different idea of right and wrong in the digital world.
Do It Again, Stupid
One of the highest-rated games of all time has some of the least interesting gameplay.
Good to be the King?
Which would you rather be: A king in the middle ages, or a lower-income laborer in the 21st century?
What is Vulkan?
There's a new graphics API in town. What does that mean, and why do we need it?
Trashing the Heap
What does it mean when a program crashes, and why does it happen?
The Mistakes DOOM Didn't Make
How did this game avoid all the usual stupidity that ruins remakes of classic titles?
Lost Laughs in Leisure Suit Larry
Why was this classic adventure game so funny in the 80's, and why did it stop being funny?
Silent Hill Origins
Here is a long look at a game that tries to live up to a big legacy and fails hilariously.
The Opportunity Crunch
No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.
Crash Dot Com
Back in 1999, I rode the dot-com bubble. Got rich. Worked hard. Went crazy. Turned poor. It was fun.
Batman: Arkham Origins
A breakdown of how this game faltered when the franchise was given to a different studio.
What was the problem with the Playstation 3 hardware and why did Sony build it that way?
Overused Words in Game Titles
I scoured the Steam database to figure out what words were the most commonly used in game titles.
The plot of this game isn't just dumb, it's actively hostile to the player. This game hates you and thinks you are stupid.
What is this silly word, why did some people get so irritated by it, and why did it fall out of use?
The Disappointment Engine
No Man's Sky is a game seemingly engineered to create a cycle of anticipation and disappointment.
PC Hardware is Toast
This is why shopping for graphics cards is so stupid and miserable.
Marvel's Civil War
Team Cap or Team Iron Man? More importantly, what basis would you use for making that decision?
Grand Theft Railroad
Grand Theft Auto is a lousy, cheating jerk of a game.
Batman v. Superman Wasn't All Bad
It's not a good movie, but it was made with good intentions and if you look closely you can find a few interesting ideas.
Why Google sucks, and what made me switch to crowdfunding for this site.
Games and the Fear of Death
Why killing you might be the least scary thing a game can do.
A screencap comic that poked fun at videogames and the industry. The comic has ended, but there's plenty of archives for you to binge on.
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
A Lack of Vision and Leadership
People fault EA for being greedy, but their real sin is just how terrible they are at it.
Deus Ex and The Treachery of Labels
Deus Ex Mankind Divided was a clumsy, tone-deaf allegory that thought it was clever, and it managed to annoy people of all political stripes.
Diablo III Retrospective
We were so upset by the server problems and real money auction that we overlooked just how terrible everything else is.
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
A horrible, railroading, stupid, contrived, and painfully ill-conceived roleplaying campaign. All in good fun.
The Best of 2012
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2012.
Zenimax vs. Facebook
This series explores the troubled history of VR and the strange lawsuit between Zenimax publishing and Facebook.
A programming project where I set out to make a gigantic and complex world from simple data.
Internet News is All Wrong
Why is internet news so bad, why do people prefer celebrity fluff, and how could it be made better?