Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

It's been the most amazing year in gaming, and I'll be completing my "Gamer's Year" retrospective over the course of the next week.

I've got a few things lined up for Well-Rendered in 2011, including a dissection of the low-budget Lynchian horror seen in Deadly Premonition, an exploration of the joys and frustrations of role-playing in the original Baldur's Gate and a re-play of the original Tomb Raider (oh yes).

Thank you all for your support, your comments and your presence. I hope you have a wonderful 2011.

cereza, the young Bayonetta

Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Gamer's Year Part 3: May


When I started Well-Rendered, I was looking to create an outlet where I could write once I finished my degree. I missed writing: the discipline of researching, the chaos of composition and the sense of order that comes with editing.

I can't remember when I decided to write about video games. I can't even remember when I decided to write a blog (as opposed to, you know, a novel). All I really remember is writing this post, hitting the "Publish" button and then sending the link to almost everyone in my address book. If you want to do something big, it's best to tell everyone about it because it'll be harder to give up.

Not that I realy had a goal in mind when I started. I still don't. I just wanted to write, and I chose video games because I didn't want to write about myself. Video games made sense. The research (playing lots of video games) was fun and I had a large bank of knowledge to draw upon.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Gamer's Year Part 2: April


I was so certain that Final Fantasy XIII was going to be a brilliant game that when I returned from Egypt on April 1st, I toddled straight off to GAME to purchase a copy of Final Fantasy XIII and the official strategy guide without reading any reviews.

Or checking to see whether I had my keys.

Thus I spent the afternoon of April 1st sitting forlornly on the pavement outside Well-Rendered Towers, flicking through a dreadful review of Final Fantasy XIII in my newly-purchased edition of EDGE (which I bought after shelling out for the game) and wondering quite how silly I would look if I returned Final Fantasy XIII not two hours after buying it.

But by the time the other (more organised) resident of Well-Rendered Towers returned with the other set of keys, my burning desire not to look silly had won out over my pragmatic urge to have a good read of Metacritic before possibly obtaining a refund.

And just as well too, because Final Fantasy XIII is a corker that kept me entertained for the entire month.

Final Fantasy XIII features an exciting fight system

Although (as many people have pointed out) the game takes its sweet time to get going, it's well worth the slog.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Interlude: Boggly-Eyed

Like most people, I enjoy gazing through the window to the wierd and wonderful known as "the internet".

I've decided to start a blog about my favourite curiosities. It is called Boggly-Eyed.

A Gamer's Year Part 1: January to March

This won't be a run-down of everything that happened this year in the gaming world. There are plenty of sites bursting with lists, re-caps and analysis of the year, so if you want something all-encompassing, I'd suggest starting with Gamespot, which has compiled lists of the years' "Best Boss Fights", "Least Improved Sequel" and "Best Ending". It makes for very interesting reading, so set aside a few hours.

Gamespot Dubious Honours Awards

Instead of trying to write something even half as informative, I'm going to go through the year, month by month, and remember the highs, lows and in-betweens of 2010. Only about half the games mentioned were released in 2010...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Well-Rendered... art?

Whilst we're waiting for Well-Rendered to get her words together, how about a few pictures?

These were all things I did in 2004-5, so they're quite old.

That's Gary Oldman.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

I'm still alive

Just to reassure everyone that Well-Rendered is GLaDOS-like in its tenacity and is not going anywhere. It's just quiet because it has been stockpiling information/cake for what it hopes will be an exciting and diverse new year.

Portal GLaDOS concept art

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

I'm not a fangirl, I'm not a fangirl, I'm not a fangirl...

Here's January's cover of gameinformer.

Turns out Crystal Dynamics have some new and exciting plans for Lara Croft, and the Tomb Raider series as a whole. Precious though I am about Lara's backstory (gameinformer are threatening to "re-invent" the character), I feel that change and innovation are good, and that they need to do whatever they have to to make a great game.

My immediate plan for Well-Rendered is a slow and careful editing process. Cleaning out rogue bits of formatting in the HTML, correcting typos and adding alt-text to images. I'll also be editing and re-writing some old favourites, because half of writing is re-writing. I might not write anyhthing brand new for a couple of weeks but I'll link to newly polished posts.

Gamewise, I've finished F.E.A.R.. Good game, bad ending. And I've just got Baldur's Gate, so I've got my cuirass ready for some serious role-playing.

Watch this space.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Seven Basic Plots: Are they found in video games?

Back in 2004, Christopher Booker's book The Seven Basic Plots received a large amount of critical and commercial attention. His assertion that there are only seven plots in all narrative is not unique (many have claimed that there are a finite number of plots in existence, though the number is frequently disputed) and Booker was criticised for dismissing homosexuality and failing to research films properly.

Christopher Booker's book
Booker's controversial take on narrative theory

But it raises an interesting talking point as regards narrative. How many plots are there? Is it a finite number? I would argue that all stories ever told have just one plot:

[protagonist] vs. [antagonist].

This doesn't mean that the protagonist has to be human or a single entity. It doesn't mean that there has to be a "fight". It doesn't mean that the antagonist has to be anything tangible, and it doesn't mean that there can't be several of these conflicts occurring in the same narrative. But I'm pretty certain that you can't have a story without a conflict, and all stories are variations on this theme.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 30

Thank goodness for that! I didn't quite manage to post one post a day for a month, but I don't think I'll be trying again for a while until I am a) a full-time writer or b) a lady of leasure/mad woman in the attic.

Normal service will resume in a few days.

the girl from f.e.a.r.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 29

Things tend to come in threes. Well-Rendered has had a makeover, made its way onto The Escapist, and now this:

Adjust yourselves accordingly.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 28

First, thank you for the insightful comments on Friday's post. I really appreciate thoughtful feedback and think it's only right that I devote time to responding to them properly. So more of that is in the Well-Rendered pipeline, currently resembling the one drainpipe leading out of Dethklok's shower on hairwashing night. A little metal joke for you there.

National Blog Posting Month is limping towards its end, which means I'll soon be able to get back to the business of writing about video games. I'm playing F.E.A.R. at the moment, a 2005 FPS with a horror bent. It's genuinely creepy, and I'm planning to write about it next week.

Keep the lights on.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 26


This blog post is a game I haven't played. It makes reference to discussions I haven't heard, and it doesn't have a conclusion. Those seeking properly written articles need to look elsewhere today.

Oh, and there are barely any pictures either.

*     *    *

My interest has been raided this week by Call of Duty: Black Ops and a discussion about child-friendly basketballing role-model Kobe Bryant appearing in an advert for it.

Here's the advert:

Now I'm not really the sensitive type, but something about that makes me feel ever so slightly uncomfortable. Partly, this is because the whole point of video games is to leave your physical body and become something or someone else, and engage in activities which are not really happening.

The implication int he advert that Black Ops enables you to feel the visceral thrill of killing other human beings makes me feel a little bit uneasy. That's not why I play video games, even the gory ones. The line between the satisfaction of performing a head shot on a video game enemy and the desire to kill other human beings in a war is not really a narrow one, but it's one which this advert does a good job of blurring.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 24

Like any healthy narcissist, I've been reading the comments to my article on the Escapist (about how video game characters' homes can be used to express their personalities).

This is sort of relevant, but really I just like the picture.

One thing which struck me in the first few comments was how people said they used their own characters' homes in order to give them a sense of personality in role-playing games. Oddly, this hadn't really occurred to me.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 23

The exciting occurrence has occurred. I have been published in The Escapist.

If you followed the link to Well-Rendered from The Escapist, you probably don't need to read this bit. Try clicking on one of the links to the right instead.

I'm really happy about this for all kinds of reasons. Mainly (if I'm being completely honest) about the really nifty buffout/bone graphic they put around the article.

If you haven't read it yet, here it is.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 22

National Blog Posting Month has shaken Well-Rendered Towers to its very foundations. Or perhaps that's just the dodgy radiator. If nothing else, it's re-enforced for me the importance of taking time to research, compose and edit posts properly, and that if something's worth doing, it's worth doing well. It's also driven me to look further afield for different things to write about. Unfortunately, it hasn't really given me time to write about them, so you'll see more on those mystery topics once November is over.

I spent a lot of my researching time on The Escapist. If you haven't had the pleasure, this magazine brands itself as "The Mouthpiece of the Gaming Generation", and has a vast bank of contributors. Its diversity is probably its greatest strength, and this is most immediately apparent in the video section.

Although everything on the site is worth a look (I Hit It With My Axe is a fast-emerging cult favourite), I spent a happy lunchbreak the other week watching Extra Credits, which professes to take "a deeper look at games; how they are made, what they mean and how we can make them better". It's all pretty inspiring stuff, and I don't mind saying that I wish I was as good as them.

This episode, for example, beautifully summarises the some of the symbolism that lies at the heart of gaming whilst still being enjoyable to watch and simple to understand. It sets the bar for (animated!) video game criticism pretty high, which can only be a good thing. I just wanted to share that with everyone.

*     *     *

You might have noticed three very long posts today. As you might have twigged, I wrote them a while ago for Studycove, but Steve kindly gave permission for me to post them on my own site as well.

The exciting mystery occurrence occurs tomorrow.

Bayonetta Review

This review originally appears on Studycove, but it's reproduced here by kind permission from Steve.

2010 has been a bumper year for video games. Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Enslaved and Final Fantasy XIII have contributed to a sparkling year of new releases as the current generation truly comes of age. And yet my very favourite game of the year came out in its first week.

Bayonetta is, on paper, an unconvincing prospect. It seems to be composed of a lot of unrelated ideas hashed together into an over-excitable whole. The game is a spiritual sister to the Devil May Cry series (they are both directed by Hideki Kamiya), and tells the story a witch who can summon demons through her hair which she uses to send angels (yes, angels) to hell. The plot makes no sense no matter how many times you play through the game and the soundtrack can only be described as choral electro-jazz.

Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness Review

Crippled by bugs, poor design choices and gaping plot holes, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is generally held to be the worst of Lara Croft’s outings. The game - which follows Lara’s race through Paris and Prague to clear her name following her mentor’s death - was a critical and commercial disappointment and led to publisher Eidos dropping British developers Core in favour of the American Crystal Dynamics.

But behind the game’s numerous problems lies the most interesting Tomb Raider to date. Although many of the game’s shortcomings can be attributed to practical issues such as new hardware (The Angel of Darkness was the first Tomb Raider title to be written for the Playstation 2) and timing constraints, the most glaring of the game’s flaws arise from Core’s excess of ambition, not their lack of it. For the curious (and patient) gamer, time spent exploring The Angel of Darkness’ hidden corners can yield rich rewards.

Tomb Raider Chronicles Review

Tomb Raider Chronicles is the fifth game of the Tomb Raider series and the last developed for the original Playstation. Varied and imaginative, it takes the form of short episodes told in flashback following Lara Croft’s accidental entombment in a pyramid (oh, Lara).

The premise is an unusual one: Lara’s friends, Charles Kane, Winston the Butler and Father Patrick Dunstan gather at Croft Manor to remember her adventures. Between them, they tell the stories of four forgotten exploits, each exploring a different area of Lara’s past, a different part of the world and – to an extent – a different kind of gameplay.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 18

So it's been established that I can't really write a blog post a day. But the fact that I only have a day to process each gaming thought means that a lot of them are left undeveloped. Consequently, I'm building up a nice bank of things to talk about, once I have the time to research, write and edit them to a standard I'm happy with.

For example, here is an interesting article about the therapeutic effects of Tetris on trauma patients. Right now, I barely have time to read it, let alone write an interesting response. But it's something I'd really like to write about because I know a bit about narrative and trauma (not to be a total bore, but I wrote a dissertation on this book), so I'd like to look more into gaming and trauma. Why not? I may as well use my existing membership to the British Library.

Oh, and Naomi Alderman's article drew my attention to this video from 2008:


Truly old-school Well-Rendered followers will remember that I sweetly thought I was the first person to have this jolly clever idea back in 2009, without even having typed "Tetris movie" into Google.

I was pretty wide-eyed and idealistic back then, and I knew a lot less about video game journalism than I do now. Various article rejections, comments, criticisms and correspondence with people far more experienced than me have taught me a huge amount. I still make awful gaffes, but they're getting less frequent, and tend to come from impulsive clicking of the "Publish" button rather than lack of research.

Five days to go until the marginally diverting occurrence.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 17

Guess what this is about...

Well, there's a rumour that it's got something to do with everyone's favourite hot-panted kleptomaniac.

Game Informer is a little more specific than me (and has probably had more sleep), but it looks like we'll find out on December the 6th.

I know Well-Rendered is not a news site (the very idea of anyone going "I must have up-to-date information on the games industry! Quick! To Well-Rendered!" is the stuff of science fiction), but I do love Lara, and this is the best I can manage today.

Six days to go until the exciting mystery event.

"Event" makes it sound so monumental.

Six days and counting to the exciting mystery...occurrence.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 16

Well, we're over the National Blog Posting Month hump. 16 days down, 15 to go. Hurrah!

I'm still snowed under, so a couple of important points. Firstly, I re-read this post, and come to the horrifying realisation that in my hurried state, I made a thoughtless comment that suggested that Halo isn't fun.

If anyone thought that's what I meant, please let me assure you that it is not. What I said was that Halo was overblown. Now that, I stick by. "Overblown" and "fun" are by no means mutually exclusive. Any heavy metal fan will tell you that.

Dethklok, fictional stars of [adult swim]'s hilarious Metalocalypse.
For a further explanation of my views regarding Halo, fun and the merits of slaughtering an alien as opposed to a marine, I will refer you to the comment section of the aforementioned post.

And following a short hiatus, Studycove is back up and running. I've added a tab especially for it because I'm planning to contribute more in the future. If you fancy writing some reviews or sticking around for the forums, your presence there would be much appreciated.

And I'm beginning a week-long countdown to the most exciting mystery event in Well-Rendered's short history.

I will be really embarrassed if anything happens to jeopardise this in the intervening time.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 15

National Blog Posting Month is a good idea and an interesting exercise, but I don't think it's doing my writing my good. It's making me write poorly thought out posts and throwaway comments because I just don't have the time in a day to come up with anything that I'm happy with.

On the plus side, when I typed "Kratos Angry" into Google images in order to furnish my post with an appropriate picture of how National Blog Posting Month is making me feel, I found this:

It's the work of the very talented Mark Newman, and it made me feel a whole lot better.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 14

So clearly I really like sunsets.

I think I am about two thirds of the way through Red Dead Redemption. I am really enjoying it, and I think the decision to apply Grand Theft Auto IV's sandbox engine to a game set in the dying days of the wild west is brilliant. The scenery is utterly incredible and the horse riding is super fun.

But more on that at a later date. I mention Red Dead Redemption today because it is possibly the most serious game I have ever played.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 13

As you can see, Well-Rendered has had another makeover.

Mainly, this is because I was becoming quite daunted by my web design homework so decided to try some CSS out on Well-Rendered instead.

Now I feel less afraid of CSS and Well-Rendered has a sparkly new frock.

Thank you to Jacq's Blogger Tips for the invaluable advice.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 12

If you haven't read Wednesday's post about the BBC breakfast response to Call of Duty: Black Ops, you might want to.

Come to think of it, if you haven't had anything to eat yet today, you might want to do that, and if you haven't visited mainland Europe, you might also want to do that at some point. There's a whole wealth of things you might want to do in your life, but in relation to today's blog post, reading Wednesday's post is about the only requirement.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 11

Blogger won't work on my computer for some reason, so I'm on borrowed time here. One blog post a day is certainly an interesting exercise, but it does mean that sometimes, bloggers are going to get caught with their pants down.

I was going to put a hilarious picture of a video game charater in their underwear here but the pictures I found on google were so foul that I just didn't have the strength to wade through them.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 10

I was watching BBC Breakfast this morning before I trundled off to work, saw a report on Call of Duty: Black Ops and have spent my spare minutes today trying to find the names of the guests.

It turns out my faith in the internet ("no, I won't need to find a pen to write this down, it will be on the internet later" munch munch sugar puffs munch coffee slurp slurp etc) was misplaced, and I can find neither the names of the guests nor any direct quotations.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 9

Reverent commentry on Red Dead Redemption, Manifest Destiny and the frontier forthcoming. But not today. This is because in order to gallop on horseback (necessary for fast getaways and winning races) in the game, you need to repeatedly tap the "A" button on the XBOX controller. I've been playing the game for a week now, and my thumb cramp is so bad I can barely operate a mouse.

I don't know if this is a design flaw or a lifestyle flaw (both?), but it means that you'll have to hang onto your saddles for a short while yet.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 8

I wonder what the crossover is between players of video games and players of board games? I ask because I just saw this, and now I have a funny feeling in my tummy.

There are several Tomb Raider board games, and this one (Underworld) is apparently the highest rated on the peerless

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 7

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a pleasant surprise for everyone when it came out in September.

It gathered praise not just for being a great little game in its own right, but for being an imaginative twist on the Tomb Raider series. That said, it's not technically a Tomb Raider game, it's a "Lara Croft" game, featuring an entirely new mechanic and - most interestingly - a second playable character.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 6

Oops! Just remembered I'm supposed to be writing a post per day. Just got back from having South African food and doing the biggest load of housework you have ever...

...I'm sorry, this is supposed to be a video game blog!

I've succumbed to the Southern lure of Red Dead Redemption. Consequently, all I can offer is a couple of sneak previews as regards future episodes of Well-Rendered.
  1. An episode about Red Dead Redemption from the point of view of someone who spent the last 3 years studying American Literature
  2.  An episode about Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light with a couple of worthy digressions.
No-one reads Well-Rendered on a Saturday night, do they?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 5

The other day I made an idle comment on Twitter about how I was listening to Wheatus whilst playing Chip's Challenge.

Generally I use Twitter to inform people of what I am eating or to fish for compliments, so you can imagine how bemused I was to discover that Wheatus (for I believe it was they) had seen my idle tweet and actually replied with the question "what is Chip's Challenge"?

Well. I was not about to tell the "Teenage Dirtbag" legends to google it. I was far too starstruck. Instead I told them that it was a video game and then said something gushing about how I was listening to their lesser-known second album, Hand Over Your Loved Ones, whilst playing it.

The lesser-known second album is, as every brown-noser knows, the correct choice when name dropping the work of any artist.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 4

I do hope this isn't cheating. I know it's supposed to be one blog post a day, but today I'm going to link to something I wrote elsewhere instead.

It's a review of the wonderful Bayonetta for Studycove!

Here it is.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 3

Today: Assassin's Creed and the art of multitasking.

Well-Rendered towers has been in possession of a copy of the original Assassin's Creed for over two years. For some reason, it's the special edition. One of these days I might just have to send the limited edition postcards to someone.

No-one's ever played this particular copy all the way through. Several people have tried, but they've only managed to play for a few hours before their eyes glass over and they start drooling.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 2

I am ill.

So I'm not really up to much today. Chip's Challenge is going well (thanks for asking) but the music was giving me a headache so I'm going back to bed.

I was on The Escapist's forums yesterday, and someone mentioned Venus Envy in passing. I started reading it this morning and now I am hooked. It has nothing to do with video games.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Womengamers and the winds of change

Hi everyone. I know it's supposed to be one blog per day, but I couldn't let this one go.

The wonderful is on the move. I'll let them explain:

In 11 years, we have watched this industry grow immensely.  The atmosphere for the next generation is notably very different today than it was back then.  It’s no longer a matter of whether women play, but what they are playing that is now in question.  Gamer shame is dwindling, and the world is changing.  We too must change with it.  This is not a good-bye letter.  We are not leaving the gaming industry, but rather are adapting into more of a development role.

So there you go. If you've linked to womengamers from your site, it might be a good idea to amend your links accordingly.

It's good to know they're still going, albeit in a different form. They've always been a valuable industry resource, arguably more so than a journalism one. They've done a lot of good, and I'm sure they will continue to do so.

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 1

Morning everyone!

I was reading Salaryn's Sword yesterday. Salaryn writes a gaming blog which touches on all kinds of subjects. I like it because she writes quite a bit about online games, which is something I know little about.

Anyhoo, she mentioned yesterday that Novemer is National Blog Posting Month. At the time of writing (about 1pm on November the first), the charmingly-titled NaBloPoMo site has crashed. I would have thought that this is because today is the first day of Na(tional)Blo(g)Po(sting)Mo(nth) and the site is seeing a lot of traffic.

But that doesn't matter because I read Salaryn's post so I don't need Nablopomo to coerce me into posting one blog post per day for the next 31 days.

It'll be a good discipline, and maybe I'll relay some nuggets which might otherwise have been lost in the composition of longer posts.

Speaking of discipline...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Top 9 most brilliant narrative devices in gaming

If you've been patiently following Well-Rendered for a while, you'll know that I get really excited about narrative.

No, stop! Don't click away! There will be cake later!

Right, now that I have your attention, allow me to elaborate.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Oh, and there's more.

Last week, I went to the "Nintendisco" (great name) retro gaming night in Camden's Lock Tavern.

Here's the review.

It's really good fun if you're in the area. Are retro gaming nights the next big thing? Let's hope so...

There will be a "proper" Well-Rendered along shortly.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Enslaved... review?

As an affictionado of Cosmopolitan's "What kind of girlfriend are you?" quizzes, I was thrilled to discover this female character stereotype flowchart, as tweeted by Tomb Raider walkthrough guru Stella yesterday.

Naturally, I tried it for myself before I checked to see whether any video game women made the grade. Turns out I am a Cat Lady.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Why I haven't written anything for ages

I keep trying to think of something ponderous and analytical to say about Enslaved but I can't because I am boggly-eyed with excitement.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The lesser of a whole bunch of evils

My course (web applications development, since you ask) begins in earnest next week, so I've been trying to get some reading done in advance.

Still playing Mass Effect 2, and I'm having a bit of trouble trying to decide who to have a romantic relationship with.

Edge magazine uncharitably refers to "the existential horror of a Bioware romance subplot", but I'm not sure it's all that bad. Still, you'd think that as a star ship commander with a hot body and galactic fame, I'm have a few more options. Not so.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


This week, all I have to offer is some scattered observations, tastefully arranged across the silver platter of compromise.

Writing-wise, I've submitted a couple of article proposals this week. I don't know whether I'll hear anything back, but I know that if you keep knocking on doors, eventually someone will feel sorry for you and offer you a cup of tea and a shower whilst they tactfully call the authorities.

I will of course let you know how it goes and link you to things if the planets align and they get published.

In other news, I was pleasantly surprised by Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Well-Rendered jumps the shark

It had to happen. The glittering insight and linguistic dexterity that have thus far defined Well-Rendered in its first year of life are no longer able to sustain themselves. Like the aliens in Independence Day, they have consumed all the fodder on their home planet and must now bundle themselves into cumbersome spaceships, travel to another planet, destroy the native lifeforms and feed off its natural resources until it too is left barren.

Only Will Smith can save us now.

Hang on a minute, that's not Will Smith!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A Good Education

A quick flick through responses to the ongoing Well-Rendered survey reveals that not many of us actually started gaming in the classroom. Some people betray their age by enthusing about the Amiga (or by, erm, telling me how old they are), but I was initially surprised by the lack of people who expressed fond memories for educational video games.
I can't quite remember what my first game was (I'm sure I've contradicted myself several times on this matter), but some of my earliest gaming memories are of solving quick-fire maths equations whilst my parents stood behind me, weeping tears of pride. Probably. Tears of something, anyway.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Rainbow flags at the ready...

It is with great pride and not a little excitement that I present my first article for

It contains points I have touched upon several times before (most recently in my letter to Edge Magazine), but it's all original so you might want to give it a read.

Here it is.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Now everyone will see why I needed a skull-gun.

We tend to take for granted the ease with which one can pick up a second hand copy of a 20-year old book or turn on the television to see a film that was released in 1973.

It's just not as easy to play a game which was released over a decade ago, simply because hardware and software developments mean that older games often need to be "patched" in order to function on newer machines. That said, PC gamers have it a lot easier than console gamers in this respect, and although older games frequently require some modification in order to run, it's actually fairly easy to get hold of and play a version of most games.

Because I am only a recent inductee to these hallowed halls, this is precisely what I have been doing for the last couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Well-Rendered in EDGE Magazine!

Actually, it would be slightly less fraudulent to say that a letter I wrote to EDGE was printed this month (Issue #218, September 2010, in newsagents NOW).

Here it is.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Lara Croft Way

Derbyshire is a wonderful place.

Lara Croft Way has just been opened for traffic, having been named back in February following an online vote.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Blood and Guts and Mills and Boon

Has it got to the stage where I can stop apologising for leaving more than a week between updates?


Well then, I am so sorry. In between bouts of tearful hero-worship, emotional trauma and overwork (ok, maybe not overwork) it's been yet another hardcore week over at Well-Rendered Towers and I have really had to fight the temptation to retreat under a duvet with some ice-cream and a Mills & Boon like the wilting flower that I occasionally revert to being when I am not kicking ass in Bayonetta.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A little reminder about why we are here

Bit of a brief and slightly off-topic post for now because I am working on a few things (which should become apparent soon enough).

Last night I went to go and see Bret Easton Ellis talk at the Southbank Centre. Easton Ellis is the author of many great novels, the most famous of which is probably American Psycho.

After a really interesting interview with The Financial Times' Suzi Feay, there was a question-and-answer session.

I had a burning question, but it took me a while to work up the courage to voice it.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Well-Rendered's 50 Favourite Video Game Characters

Once upon a time, I was a proud subscriber to Empire, the UK's bestselling film magazine. I liked its irreverent house style, imaginative features and reliable reviews.

After a couple of years however, something began to grate. It wasn't the relentless Star Wars coverage. It wasn't even the fact that the pre-release puff pieces for action movies were invariably at odds with the corresponding reviews.


It was the fact that every time an actor was interviewed, the piece would be accompanied by a grainy, high contrast image of him looking intense and mysterious whereas every time an actress was interviewed, she would invariably look like this:

This is actually from Empire's list of sexiest actors and actresses.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Wobbly blogging, spam and yet more demographical questions

Due to the huge volume of Japanese porn bots that try to post comments on Well-Rendered, it's necessary for me to moderate the comments that come through. The ratio of porn links to actual comments is such that when I receive an actual comment, I get all flustered and don't know what to do with myself.

I've been told by Google Blogger for Dummies (yes, there is such a publication) that it's good to reply to all comments (because it makes people feel appreciated and more likely to continue reading yada yada), but I didn't used to reply because people who I'd never met (such as Ewoud and nowihs) said such nice things that I felt a bit embarrassed. 

Oh, and it's always good to hear from the stalwarts who always take the trouble to enter into discussion, raise a point or voice an opinion. Anyone who's ever put anything out to the public - to however small an audience - knows how valuable this kind of support is.

Anyways, Blogger threw a bit of a wobbly this morning, and a really interesting comment from "Hyde University" got lost. Luckily, I recovered it and took a screencap, even though I still can't publish it.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Philip Zimbardo: Why Video Games Cause Teen Pregnancy

Last weekend, I went to a wedding. The bride was American, the groom was British, they had met in Japan and between them they had travelled all over the world, picking up various friends and relations along the way.

During dinner, I was sat at a table with people who hailed (in various senses of the word) from Holland, France and South Africa amongst other places. Conversation had been bouncing merrily around for about an hour when three people at the table who had never been in the same room before realised they had saved each other's lives on numerous occasions.

"Wait, you're not..."


"No way! I'm ElectricGerbil!"

"Oh, wow!"

"Hey, you guys.... I'm MoronicSonic!"

"No WAY!"

I have changed these people's made-up names to protect their made-up identities. Not that I really need to, they're all pretty badass.