Sandbox Diaries 3: Whirly
October 4th, 2013 by Rohan

Sandbox Diaries: GTA V

Welcome to part three of my GTA V-based Sandbox Diaries. (The others are here: Part 1, my GTA V Stickup Diary over at Kotaku, and Part 2).

We’re getting pretty good at this, now. Raygun Brown and I logged on to GTA Online tonight, kitted up, bought masks, and prepared to knock over a ton more shops. I’m a higher level than him as I have no life apparently, but it was easy enough to buy a micro-uzi and give it to him – no nanny-game-mechanic insists that players below a certain level can’t use specific hardware. You just have to be creative to get it to other players.

Masks on, ready to begin.

Masks on, ready to begin. A twisted version of Bonny & Clyde.

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Sandbox Diaries 2: GTA Online
October 2nd, 2013 by Rohan

Sandbox Diaries: GTA V

So, as an evolution of my “Sandbox Diaries”, I decided to try a big project – to force myself to “role-play” with GTA V, working as a stick-up artist – complete with permadeath. This project ended up being a piece for Kotaku. You can find it here.

With this behind me, the moment GTA Online launched last night (being that I was one of the lucky ones who actually managed to get on) I decided to see just how differently the stick-ups would seem if I was playing with them a mate. So, with this in mind, Raygun Brown and I logged in and became an online stick-up crew on a private server. What follows is half “first-impressions” of GTA Online (ignoring the connection issues which others have written about extensively) and half a story of our efforts to earn cash in much the same way as my Kotaku project… but online.

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Sandbox Diaries 1
September 19th, 2013 by Rohan

Sandbox Diaries: GTA V

I had intended to write nothing but a series of little narratives here. “Things that happened to me in Los Santos”, but only events that were purely happenstance. In other words: no story stuff. No scripted events. For a few reasons, I can’t quite do that. Let me explain…

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The “Sandbox Diaries”?
September 16th, 2013 by Rohan


Some time ago, Jeremy and I ran this blog – and its associated podcast – for a year. As our other commitments (some of which I’ll be writing about here in future) picked up, we decided to turf it for a while. It took too much time, and as I had turned from mostly writing about games to mostly attempting to make one myself.

Now that TownCraft is out, I’m feeling the urge to do more writing again.

And so, at least for a while, we’ve decided to bring back Restore Restart Quit.

My first project here is going to be focusing on my favourite genre: sandbox/action games. More specifically, the 600lb gorilla of the genre, GTA V, which is due out tomorrow.

Like many people fitting their target demographic, I’ve been waiting for this thing since 2007 or so, and I’m taking the day off to play it.

Then I overheard a fantastic idea the awesome guys at pixelhunt had – rather than to review GTA V, to instead post a blog a day by different writers, about awesome things which happened to them while playing.

I intend to shamelessly steal their idea, except do the whole thing myself. Each day I play the game, I will be writing about events that occurred. Preferably the unscripted, emergent kind of events that really make an impact. If something is partly scripted (or entirely scripted) that doesn’t mean I won’t discuss it – but that my point isn’t going to be discussing the main plot and mechanics of GTA V, so much as all the trappings that come from that.

As for what else we’ll be writing about or other related Restore Restart Quit projects – we’ll see how we go!

And now, it’s back to the waiting-for-tomorrow game.

Meanwhile, I’ll just stare at screenshots and live in hope.

Microsoft taunts Australians
April 8th, 2011 by Jeremy

Dear Microsoft,

You know that I live in Australia.

If you have a promotion from which you’ve decided you will exclude Australians, would you mind not telling me about it? Would you mind not sending me an email offering me all these “benefits” that you’re planning to block me from enjoying? Would you mind not suggesting that I participate in “Xbox LIVE Rewards” given that when I spend the time hunting down a password and signing in to your service, you will then tell me “Unfortunately, residents of your area are not eligible to participate in Xbox LIVE Rewards”.

So why the bloody hell did you send me an email taunting me with them?

In summary, get stuffed.

Yours sincerely,


Taking it Personally
April 4th, 2011 by Rohan

So, it’s been kinda quiet here lately. A few things are to blame, but mostly it’s been a dearth of games that aren’t absolutely awful. Also, my PC died and I spent a massive chunk of time working on more film projects.

And playing Minecraft. Oh dear…

Anyway, for those of you with good taste enough to enjoy Digital: A Love Story – there’s another (equally unique) game out by the talented author. It’s a fascinating concept, once again using online interaction as a component in the story.

Yes, it's an anime.

In this case, the game is called Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Aint Your Story (jeeze it feels weird capitalising that). It’s set in a high school in 2027, and you’re the home room teacher for a rabble of year 11 kids. The twist is that in this future, social networking has engulfed the world even more. Every kid has a tablet PC, and social networking in a sort of facebook-wall/twitter type system happens everywhere – almost like the classes have their own hashtags. (They already do at many universities, but this is high school – so it’s much more of a Soap Opera)

Anyway, check it out – I will be. Full thoughts will follow once I’ve finished the game.

Nintendo’s bizarre defence of region locking
January 19th, 2011 by Jeremy

A quote from Nintendo about region-locking the 3DS:

We want to ensure the best possible gaming experience for our users and there is the possibility that Nintendo 3DS software sold in one region will not function properly when running on Nintendo 3DS hardware sold in another.

Is it just me but does the second part of that sentence completely contradict the first? You’re going to “ensure the best possible gaming experience” for me by making my software not work? Uh, what?

If Nintendo was looking for a driver of piracy, something that would push ordinarily law-abiding consumers to dabble with the dark side of the industry, it couldn’t have gone much better than region-coding – a system that sometimes makes it impossible to obtain certain titles lawfully, and encourages regional price-gouging.

Welcome back to 2000.

January 6th, 2011 by Rohan

I admit that despite confessing a loathing (while drunk) for the massive swathe of top-ten lists that infest this time of year I have something of a soft spot for them. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine to stay up at night when nobody can catch me out, reading various critics’ best and worst lists of the year.

Hell, we even did our most recent podcast on just that, regardless of just how cliched a subject it is. I guess it’s an organisation thing. People like making lists – be they shopping lists, lists of girls you’d secretly like to bed or lists of what booze you need to get from the bottle-o next time you sober up enough to drive up there.

So, I decided I’d make up a list to ring in the new year. The real trick was just what to make a list of. For ages, I was playing with the idea of listing something like, say, “The top five video resolutions used in video games on the iPhone platform between January 2010 and December 2010″, but then I realised it was the most boring idea in the whole world.

This idea came about when I was browsing the recent new year steam sales. So many bizarre, cheaply-made simulation titles were on the list! Simulations of things that make submarine simulators or flight simulators look as mainstream as shooter-garbage like Halo.

Thusly, I bring you the second most boring list of 2011 so far:

SIMFAILURE: The Top Five Most Bizarre or Obscure Simulation Titles of 2010

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RRQ E07: 2010 Wrapup
December 22nd, 2010 by Rohan


Episode 07:
“2010 Wrapup”

Jeremy and I were discussing our favourite games of the last year, and things that sucked about the year in gaming. (Namely: most of the games released during it) So, rather than simply have this discussion on our own, we decided to record it and release it, in the name of hubris and ego, just like all the cool kids.

Also, because it’d been a bloody long time between podcasts (I’m the guilty party – I was side-tracked with a few more film projects).

The games we discuss include:

  • Mass Effect 2
  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  • Just Cause 2
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Minecraft
  • Digital: A Love Story

Also: apologies for the audio quality. As this was an unplanned podcast, I didn’t have my proper audio kit available at the time.

Temporal Worlds in Video Games
December 9th, 2010 by leighh

The strength of videogames is their primary point of difference: their interactivity. So I was struck curious recently by a couple of small flash games which utilised a pseudo-interactive gimmick which demonstrated a flaw in videogame open-worlds in general. Each had its own strengths, but both relied upon repetition of the same ‘level’ (for want of a better term), each time adding subtle changes to make the player feel as though they were progressing. Far from making the games themselves feel cheap (a redundant notion anyway considering they’re both free flash-based games which can be played online), they invoked a feeling of urgency, of a malleable world, and of a sense of importance for the player which can be missing from larger game-worlds.

(I strongly suggest you play both games in question. Each one is 5 minutes long, both can be played in a browser and both are highly recommended. They are Every Day The Same Dream and One Chance.) Read the rest of this entry »