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.

In Defense of Crunch

Crunch-mode game development isn't good, but sometimes it happens for good reasons.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Spec Ops: The Line

A videogame that judges its audience, criticizes its genre, and hates its premise. How did this thing get made?

 

Project Octant

A programming project where I set out to make a Minecraft-style world so I can experiment with Octree data.

 

A Lack of Vision and Leadership

People fault EA for being greedy, but their real sin is just how terrible they are at it.

 

PC Hardware is Toast

This is why shopping for graphics cards is so stupid and miserable.

 

Self-Balancing Gameplay

There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.

 

Philosophy of Moderation

The comments on most sites are a sewer of hate, because we're moderating with the wrong goals in mind.

 

Object-Disoriented Programming

C++ is a wonderful language for making horrible code.

 

The Mistakes DOOM Didn't Make

How did this game avoid all the usual stupidity that ruins remakes of classic titles?

 

Overthinking Zombies

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.

 

Resident Evil 4

Who is this imbecile and why is he wandering around Europe unsupervised?

 

The Best of 2017

My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2017.

 

The Truth About Piracy

What are publishers doing to fight piracy and why is it all wrong?

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Crysis 2

Crysis 2 has basically the same plot as Half-Life 2. So why is one a classic and the other simply obnoxious and tiresome?

 

The Biggest Game Ever

How did this niche racing game make a gameworld so massive, and why is that a big deal?

 

The No Politics Rule

Here are 6 reasons why I forbid political discussions on this site. #4 will amaze you. Or not.

 

MMO Population Problems

Computers keep getting more powerful. So why do the population caps for massively multiplayer games stay about the same?

 

Netscape 1997

What did web browsers look like 20 years ago, and what kind of crazy features did they have?

 

Hardware Review

So what happens when a SOFTWARE engineer tries to review hardware? This. This happens.

 

Patreon!

Why Google sucks, and what made me switch to crowdfunding for this site.

 

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.

 

Crash Dot Com

Back in 1999, I rode the dot-com bubble. Got rich. Worked hard. Went crazy. Turned poor. It was fun.

 

The Best of 2013

My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2013.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Bad and Wrong Music Lessons

A music lesson for people who know nothing about music, from someone who barely knows anything about music.

 

Trashing the Heap

What does it mean when a program crashes, and why does it happen?

 

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.

 

Trekrospective

A look back at Star Trek, from the Original Series to the Abrams Reboot.

 

Chainmail Bikini

A horrible, railroading, stupid, contrived, and painfully ill-conceived roleplaying campaign. All in good fun.

 

Fable II

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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

Zenimax vs. Facebook

This series explores the troubled history of VR and the strange lawsuit between Zenimax publishing and Facebook.

 

This Game is Too Videogame-y

What's wrong with a game being "too videogameish"?

 

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?

 

Do It Again, Stupid

One of the highest-rated games of all time has some of the least interesting gameplay.

 

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.

 

Starcraft 2: Rush Analysis

I write a program to simulate different strategies in Starcraft 2, to see how they compare.

 

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.

 

Was it a Hack?

A big chunk of the internet went down in October of 2016. What happened? Was it a hack?

 

Dead Island

A stream-of-gameplay review of Dead Island. This game is a cavalcade of bugs and bad design choices.

 

Good Robot Dev Blog

An ongoing series where I work on making a 2D action game from scratch.

 

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.

 

Could Have Been Great

Here are four games that could have been much better with just a little more work.

 

Project Button Masher

I teach myself music composition by imitating the style of various videogame soundtracks. How did it turn out? Listen for yourself.

 

The Middle Ages

Would you have survived in the middle ages?

 

Linux vs. Windows

Finally, the age-old debate has been settled.

 

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.

 

What is Vulkan?

There's a new graphics API in town. What does that mean, and why do we need it?

 

Spoiler Warning

A video Let's Play series I collaborated on from 2009 to 2017.

 

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?

 

Project Frontier

A programming project where I set out to make a gigantic and complex world from simple data.

 

Quakecon Keynote 2013 Annotated

An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.

 

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.

 

Starcraft: Bot Fight

Let's do some scripting to make the Starcraft AI fight itself, and see how smart it is. Or isn't.

 

Game at the Bottom

Why spend millions on visuals that are just a distraction from the REAL game of hotbar-watching?

 

Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot

Since we're rebooting everything, MASH will probably come up eventually. Here are some casting suggestions.

 

Secret of Good Secrets

Sometimes in-game secrets are fun and sometimes they're lame. Here's why.

 

Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated

An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.

 

Video Compression Gone Wrong

How does image compression work, and why does it create those ugly spots all over some videos and not others?

 

Why The Christmas Shopping Season is Worse Every Year

Everyone hates Black Friday sales. Even retailers! So why does it exist?

 

The Best of 2014

My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2014.

 

Borderlands Series

A look at the main Borderlands games. What works, what doesn't, and where the series can go from here.

 

Quakecon 2012 Annotated

An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.

 

The Witch Watch

My first REAL published book, about a guy who comes back from the dead due to a misunderstanding.

 

Playstation 3

What was the problem with the Playstation 3 hardware and why did Sony build it that way?

 

My Music

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.

 

Bowlercoaster

Two minutes of fun at the expense of a badly-run theme park.

 

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.

 

The Best of 2016

My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2016.

 

The Disappointment Engine

No Man's Sky is a game seemingly engineered to create a cycle of anticipation and disappointment.

 

The Best of 2015

My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2015.

 

How to Forum

Dear people of the internet: Please stop doing these horrible idiotic things when you talk to each other.

 

Seven Springs

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.

 

Push the Button!

Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.

 

Twelve Years

Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.

 

Why Batman Can't Kill

His problem isn't that he's dumb, the problem is that he bends the world he inhabits.

 

Games and the Fear of Death

Why killing you might be the least scary thing a game can do.

 

The Best of 2012

My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2012.

 

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.

 

Grand Theft Railroad

Grand Theft Auto is a lousy, cheating jerk of a game.

 

Autoblography

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.

 

Free Radical

The product of fandom run unchecked, this novel began as a short story and grew into something of a cult hit.

 

The Best of 2011

My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.

 

Are Lootboxes Gambling?

Obviously they are. Right? Actually, is this another one of those sneaky hard-to-define things?

 

Skyrim Thieves Guild

The Thieves Guild quest in Skyrim is a vortex of disjointed plot-holes, contrivances, and nonsense.

 

The Game That Ruined Me

Be careful what you learn with your muscle-memory, because it will be very hard to un-learn it.

 

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?

 

Stolen Pixels

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.

 

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.

 

Megatextures

A video discussing Megatexture technology. Why we needed it, what it was supposed to do, and why it maybe didn't totally work.

 

Object-Oriented Debate

There are two major schools of thought about how you should write software. Here's what they are and why people argue about it.

 

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.

 

Batman: Arkham Origins

A breakdown of how this game faltered when the franchise was given to a different studio.

 

Marvel's Civil War

Team Cap or Team Iron Man? More importantly, what basis would you use for making that decision?

 

Pixel City Dev Blog

An attempt to make a good looking cityscape with nothing but simple tricks and a few rectangles of light.

 

Silent Hill 2 Plot Analysis

A long-form analysis on one of the greatest horror games ever made.

 

Silent Hill Origins

Here is a long look at a game that tries to live up to a big legacy and fails hilariously.

 

Ludonarrative Dissonance

What is this silly word, why did some people get so irritated by it, and why did it fall out of use?

 

D&D Campaign

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.

 

Diablo III Retrospective

We were so upset by the server problems and real money auction that we overlooked just how terrible everything else is.

 

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.

 

Internet News is All Wrong

Why is internet news so bad, why do people prefer celebrity fluff, and how could it be made better?

 

Blistering Stupidity of Fallout 3

Yeah, this game is a classic. But the story is idiotic, incoherent, thematically confused, and patronizing.

 

Trusting the System

How do you know the rules of the game are what the game claims? More importantly, how do the DEVELOPERS know?

 

Steam Summer Blues

This mess of dross, confusion, and terrible UI design is the storefront the big publishers couldn't beat? Amazing.

 

Overused Words in Game Titles

I scoured the Steam database to figure out what words were the most commonly used in game titles.

 

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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

Fixing Match 3

For one of the most popular casual games in existence, Match 3 is actually really broken. Until one developer fixed it.

 

The Opportunity Crunch

No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.

 

Best. Plot Twist. Ever.

Few people remember BioWare's Jade Empire, but it had a unique setting and a really well-executed plot twist.

 

Another PC Golden Age?

Is it real? Is PC gaming returning to its former glory? Sort of. It's complicated.

 

Why I Hated Resident Evil 4

Ever wonder how seemingly sane people can hate popular games? It can happen!

 

Tenpenny Tower

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.

 

Shamus Plays LOTRO

As someone who loves Tolkein lore and despises silly MMO quests, this game left me deeply conflicted.

 

The Loot Lottery

What makes the gameplay of Borderlands so addictive for some, and what does that have to do with slot machines?