Walking the Planes 2: A History of the Planes in Dungeons & Dragons

A Map of the Inner Planes (1977)

This one took a bit longer to write, but finally the second article in my planar series is out, in which I give an overview of the planes in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. Next time, I’ll be diving into Planescape properly for the first time. […Read more…]

Let’s Play ‘Whale’s Voyage’

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I’ve started a Let’s Play of the 1993 sci-fi roleplaying game Whale’s Voyage over on my YouTube channel. I’ll collect the episodes on this page. Check back soon for new instalments, and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when the new episodes come online. Also, feel free to leave any comments here or on […Read more…]

Walking the Planes 1: Introduction

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As promised, my series about Planescape and the Planes in Dungeons & Dragons kicked off this month. The first instalment is only an introductory piece, in which I set out my ideas for the future of the series. Hopefully it will whet your interest; check back here or on The Ontological Geek soon for the second piece! […Read more…]

A Guest Beyond the Final Frontier

space-engine

For The Ontological Geek, I wrote a short piece on different ways games can represent space exploration. I take a look at Star Control 2, MirrorMoon EP, Noctis, and Space Engine, and try to explain why the last two make me feel most at ease. […Read more…]

The Xenophobic Face of the Netherlands

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On my way to work, early this morning, I read a newspaper article that made me very angry. I suppose it’s a culmination of pent-up frustration with what I feel is an increasingly openly xenophobic and racist climate dominating Dutch public discourse. This article was the last straw that made me decide to devote a […Read more…]

Time for a Story (On ‘Papers, Please’ and ‘Gone Home’)

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Two recent indie release (Papers, Please and Gone Home) inspired me enough to pen a little article last week. Today the piece found a home on The Ontological Geek. In the article, I explore how Papers, Please simulates the way in which bureaucracies can force us to treat people like cattle, like numbers, like items on a list. Through insidious systems the player — inhabiting the mind of a border official — is forced to spend as little time on immigrants as possible, while still following all the rules imposed by your government. I contrast this to the experience of Gone Home, where we can take all the time we want to dig into the personal lives of an American family, and experience their touching stories. […Read more…]

Islands & Worlds

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Not one, but two new articles by my hand were published today in the fourth issue of Five out of Ten, a lovely mag that pays its writers according to a very honest model: the writers split the revenue evenly. The first article is a semi-close reading of three games published recently: Dear Esther, Miasmata, and Proteus. If you’re familiar with the games, you’ll realise they have a common theme, and that is that they are all set on an island. As I try to argue, there are more similarities between the games than at first appears, but interesting differences too. In the article, I try to get at what kind of places the islands in these games are, and what that means for the overall meaning and experience of the games. On the way, I cover themes like isolation (and its etymology), memory, and death. The other article contributes to the issue’s central theme: storytelling in games: how do they do it, and are they any good at it? My perspective deals with the concept of virtual worlds and spatial presence, and how that relates to story in a game, and to our experience of games in general. Long story short: I try to rehabilitate the concept world as occupying a central position in the study of games, with reference to some smarter people who’ve written great things about this subject. […Read more…]

What It’s Like to Play Planescape: Torment

Videogames can sometimes be a very arcane medium, and it can often be difficult to comprehend what they’re all about for people who never or seldom play them. Of course entertainment is often the main ‘use’ of a video game, but many of them have elaborate themes and stories, and the way in which video games deliver those narratives and themes is often unique to the medium. Today my own piece on Planescape: Torment was published, and I try to explain how the game uses exploration and conversation to allow you to reconstruct the protagonist’s tortured past. […Read more…]

Noctis: The Loneliness of Night

Beautiful constrast of sky and soil.

If there is one thing astronomy has taught us, it is the realisation that a planet like Earth, with its abundance of life, is incredibly rare in the vastness of the universe. We do know that there are billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars, so it is probable that life is to be found somewhere else in space; yet we are lonely all the same. We could – in a manner of speaking – travel for an eternity in any direction without encountering any sign of life. That overwhelming sense of loneliness on a cosmic scale is what strikes me the most while playing Noctis. […Read more…]