It’s that time of year again, the end of that artificial construct we call a ‘calendar year’ that prompts so many of us to cast our minds back over the last 12 months. So, apart from rocketing helplessly through space at 107000 km/h, only to return to where we started (relatively speaking, ignoring where Sol and the Milky Way have moved since then), what’s up? As I talked about in my review of 2010, my goal had been to simplify and take back more control in my professional life, revolving around making my own products and cutting down contracting to just single, more significant projects.
Apple’s new flagship product, the iPad, was only just released in countries outside the USA last Friday, and I was fortunate to get my hands on one on launch day. Like many Apple products, this one has divided people, with a lot of people decrying it as a device looking for a purpose, a device that falls between two stools (not as portable as a phone, not as functional as a laptop), a device that is stifled within Apple’s walled garden.
I recently finished Mass Effect 2 - I was reserving my judgement until the end because Mass Effect 1, while great, failed in a few areas to deliver a KOTOR-beating experience that reviewers had attributed to it. ME2 was looking very promising, but I couldn’t realistically call it until I was done. Now, I can safely say that KOTOR has finally been matched, and in some ways surpassed. The main thing that I griped about in my Mass Effect review was that the characters were far too vanilla and predictable.
I’m a fan of Tim Schafer. Quite apart from the fact that his Wikipedia page shows him lovingly holding a jar of Marmite (good man), he’s been a writer/designer/coder on some of the funniest, quirkiest games in history: Monkey Island 1 & 2, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. How can you not love this guy? It’s a terrible tragedy that Psychonauts didn’t sell better - sure its platforming was a little ropey at times and the game was padded out in places with uninspiring sections, but buried within this game were some of the most original, funny and bizarre ideas ever to grace the medium.