Masters of Doom

Few people have been as defining and influential for the gaming industry as the Masters of Doom, John Carmack and John Romero.

Both grew up in the 1970s, experiencing the golden age of arcade video games. Classic games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man was an important part of their childhoods. The Apple II was the inaugural home computer for both Carmack and Romero, and the first published games for both of them were Apple II titles.

The two Johns’ paths eventually crossed when they met at Softdisk in 1989. It was a match made in heaven, and both were integral to the company’s success with their contributions to the Big Blue Disk magazine. Carmack, a programming and computer graphics genius – described as “a brain on legs” – and Romero, brilliant at both programming and game design.

At Softdisk, Romero and Carmack met Tom Hall and Adrian Carmack (not related to John). Tom worked at the company as a programmer and game designer, while Adrian’s primary role was as an artist. In early 1991, the four of them left Softdisk, and founded Id Software.

Katana ZERO Review

Come for the soundtrack, stay for the rage quits. Here is my Katana ZERO review.

Katana ZERO is a 2D action platformer, a genre that is way out of my gaming comfort zone. If my memory serves me right, the previous 2D platformer I played was Superfrog on the Amiga some time during the 1990s. I suspect that I tend to avoid the genre because if you mess up, your mistake has immediate and disastrous consequences. You usually die, and it’s game over, man! Or at least you have to restart from the previous checkpoint.

In simulation and strategy game games, which are my preferred genres, it’s often possible to mitigate failures. If your star fleet is destroyed, it’s probably not the end of the world universe. You can call in the reserves, or build a new star fleet. And if you somehow managed to mess up a delivery of carbonated black powder Bologna to Bordeaux, there’s always another job you can take.

So how did I come across Katana ZERO? Why, the soundtrack, of course!

Beat Cop

Can you handle life as a beat cop on the streets of ’80s Brooklyn? Here’s my Beat Cop review.

Eastern Europe is the home of an impressive collection of well-known game developers. SCS Software (Euro Truck Simulator, American Truck Simulator) out of the Czech Republic, 11 bit studios (This War of Mine, Frostpunk) and CD Projekt Red (The Witcher series, Cyberpunk 2077) – both Polish companies – are just three examples.

But Eastern Europe also has a vivid indie game scene. One of the many rising stars is Warsaw based Pixel Crow. Founded in 2014, the company specializes in pixel art games (just like every other indie developer). Pixel Crow’s only title to date is the 2017 adventure games Beat Cop.

Not Tonight: One Love

One of 2018’s most politically charged titles gets a far less controversial expansion. Here’s my Not Tonight: One Love review.

When PanicBarn’s dystopian Brexit-simulator Not Tonight was announced last year, the pro-Brexit crowd went nuts. How dared someone portrait their utopian fantasy as anything but!? Because of the outrage, I predicted a classic review bomb on Steam. That’s what happens when you anger the vocal minority of gamers. Just ask Creative Assembly about female generals.

But the review bomb never went off, and Not Tonight is currently enjoying a well-deserved “very positive” review score on Steam. I also appreciated the game, and gave it a respectable score in my own review.

With the new One Love DLC, Not Tonight moves across the channel. One of the characters from the base game, Dave, escaped to France after his British pub was destroyed. While Britain is burning down behind him, Dave gets dragged into a dating app scam that threatens to ruin his life, and his new pub, Lé Rosbif. The only way out is to find true love within a month. Dave sets about to earn the money he needs to woo his potential partners.

“The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin

When was the last time you read a Chinese science-fiction novel? Probably never. I just did. Here’s my The Three-Body Problem Review.

It’s 1967, and China is in the early stages of the Cultural Revolution. Physics professor Ye Zhetai is publicly killed after he refuses to denounce the theory of relativity. His daughter, Ye Wenjie, witnesses his gruesome death.

Shortly after, she’s sent to a work camp. There, she’s falsely charged with sedition for promoting the works of environmentalist Rachel Carson. Ye is told she can avoid punishment by working at a defense research facility involved in government radio wave research.

More than 40 years later, Ye’s work becomes linked to a string of scientist suicides, and a complex online role-playing game involving the classic three-body problem.