Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


Sabbatical 2014


It’s time for another site sabbatical. During June, I’m taking a break from writing Electron Dance articles to recharge my drained brain-batteries and also, possibly, to play some games.

But I have not abandoned you. I know your weeks will not be the same without something to grind your thinking teeth on. Over the next four weeks, I’ve persuaded several writers to provide guest posts in my absence.

Just one piece of advice: don’t like their work more than you like mine. I couldn’t tolerate that.

When I return, we'll see about getting this video rolled out...


Silver Bullet Cure

Over the last couple of years I’ve found it difficult to play games for actual fun. A game, after all, is a potential Electron Dance article so I approach each one like a loot-filled mansion ripe for burglary; there are words in there somewhere, I just need to figure out how to liberate them. This careful, methodical approach means that play can really feel like work, so I often put off games that might be more work than the norm.


If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’m going through some medical shenanigans. It’s obliterated my concentration and hollowed out my interest in writing. I still like the idea of publishing a piece of writing, but I just don’t have the motivation to do all the other stuff that goes before it. You know. The actual work.

Disaffected with the site, I unplugged from the Twitter world as my feed descended into GDC hysteria. There are only so many monetize your teens ha ha and moments astounding of truly inspirational and must-play jeez you gotta recommended I can absorb in a single hour.

And I found myself doing something unusual. Which was playing games. For fun.   

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An Electron Dance Book

jumpman please wait

We need to talk.   

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The Labour of Love

Warning. This post contains a lethal dose of navel-gazing.


Joe Martin, self-proclaimed ex-games journalist and creator of the Unlimited Hyperbole podcast, set himself a strange goal. Martin doesn't like the Games Media Awards but he decided if he didn't receive a GMA nomination for Best Podcast, he'd pull the plug on Unlimited Hyperbole. The GMAs came, Unlimited Hyperbole did not get nominated and Martin pulled the plug.

Why would anyone do this?     

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In January, I came back from Plymouth wondering what I would do with my interview with Professor Steve Furnell and considered submitting it to various gaming sites. But sending my word-children off to other people's homes is such a pain; those places have their own style and ethos plus I'm likely an unknown to site editors. Submitting an article is something you take time over - and I don't have that kind of time to waste. So I realised if I just published on Electron Dance, I could write it the way I wanted.

A couple of months on, I saw there were a number of promising concepts that could be lumped together under one umbrella: examining Fukushima through an old Atari nuclear reactor simulation, a retrospective on Bill Williams' Necromancer and something I had dubbed "When We Was Indie" - an intermittent series of interviews with some guys from back in the day.

The Aspiration had been big but I didn't want that to be Electron Dance's highpoint. You have to keep trying to show yourself up. So Where We Came From was born.  It would be my one, dedicated stroll down retro lane.

As some of the final words of the series suggest, I want to live in the now and not in the past. It was never my intention for Electron Dance to become associated with "retro" articles and the project was likely to be a one-off occurrence. So I had to do this right. Which meant the articles I thought were going to be an easy write were far from it.

Long story short. The project morphed into a punishing, brutal three months which brought me within nanometres of closing the site around the time of The Fukushima Syndrome.

So it's time for rehab and I'll be taking a writing holiday for the next two weeks.

But don't worry! There will be stand-ins over the next couple of weeks to keep the site active, a bit like a bunch of Jack Nicholson's in the Overlook Hotel. With axe murderiness intact.

You won't even notice I'm gone.


New Server, New Joy

---zzzzkkk It's okay, shhhh, it's okay. We're here, don't worry. Hold my hand.

Hopefully there won't be too much upset from this little server switch. You shouldn't notice anything different... apart from all the changes. Here's a handpicked selection of the main updates.

  • Many theme improvements. Gregg B and Mrs. HM stopped me from replacing the theme entirely and so I got to work on widening. But I didn't stop there.
  • Now you can get e-mailed updates if you don't like Twitter or RSS.
  • Even more ridiculous - subscribe to comment updates by e-mail! I like to call this one the "Pippin Barr Feature Request".
  • RSS no longer just tiny excerpts but the opening chunk of each article.
  • Light theme for handhelds which should mean faster downloads for those of you receiving TCP/IP packets by carrier pigeon.
  • Old server was in the US, new one in the UK. That's good for me, but possibly not good for you if you browse from the US. If any Americans want to improve Electron Dance browsing performance then I recommend relocation.

Anyway, I'm just glad it's over and I can get back to panicking about getting articles published in time.


Vacation Alert

Yo, long story short. Holiday, one week, wife children, no internet. Won't be passing comments or reading Twitter. A.K.A. "being happy".

Site auto-pilot will post an article next Tuesday as normal as if I was still here, providing prosthetic love. Here's a snippet:

...and like me, you may at first think these historical interludes are badly written. They seem to reveal nothing of import. Over time you realise that, at it's core, [the game] is a story about people not events.

See you when I get back.

Worth listening to? Critical Distance GDC podcast. Long but good for a train journey.



One year ago, Electron Dance flickered into life with a post about VVVVVV. It had zero hits. If you build it, they will most certainly not come without a shiny carrot trinket to entice them. And maybe a ginormous stick with zombie-bat fangs.

Three hundred and sixty five days on, Electron Dance is now regularly visited by AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE. Jokes aside, Electron Dance now pulls in over a hundred views a day and gets the odd link from Rock Paper Shotgun amongst others. This is all good and I am happy with this, although the World Domination achievement is only 0.00376% complete according to my HUD. It's the upward climb of visitors that keeps me going through the dark times when I'm trying to edit an article through the Tuesday midnight delirium.

The good work I did bitching about Neptune's Pride for nine weeks has had profound effects on the internet. It drove Armand of BnB Gaming to run a game of Iron Helmet's follow-up Blight of the Immortals. Oh Lord, what have I done?

As a reward, Armand asked me to participate in their latest Top 5: the top 5 female game characters. Just five?

So, on this special day, I might as well throw out some top secret advance preview news. After The Aspiration, the next large project I'm working on is something I'm provisionally calling Where We Came From, a feast of articles about early gaming years. I'm avoiding the word retro as that means so many different things to different people. I'm not willing to proffer more details as the content is still in flux, but hopefully this will be kick off sometime in May.

Thanks for finding the love in your blood-engorged hearts to stick around these parts. I hope to give you more reasons to keep on coming back.


Girl, Interrupting

Activity on Electron Dance is going to be erratic for a while, as the Little Harbour Mistress was born in the wee hours this morning following two days of deceptively painless labour.

I'm afraid to say Chris Park pipped me to the post on this one, but parenthood is a marathon, not a sprint. Which is a gentlemanly way of saying I'll get you next time, Park. (Except that Mrs. HM and I now have two children and the clan is complete, so there will be no next time. If this makes no sense, it's because I am still delirious from exhaustion.)

Regular visitors are going to be peeved: "What the 'ell? Where's me flipping gaming update?" But don't worry, I can wedge something in.

Early Friday morning I tried to get a little extra sleep in, preparing for imminent birth (hah, we had another good 40 hours to wait). I dreamt I was in Left 4 Dead, holed up in a high-tech security office on the fourth floor of a building, waiting for the zombie horde to attack. Friends and family were there. I remember thinking: this is no place to give birth to our daughter.

I have never played Left 4 Dead and never had much of a thing for it either. But somehow my brain felt the gamescape and language of a multiplayer zombie FPS experience was the best way to express something. I have absolutely no idea what that was, though.

Nonetheless, I woke up relieved that reality was more complicated than a zombie apocalypse.