Ben Croshaw


Ben Croshaw
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Born Benjamin Richard Croshaw
24 May 1983 (1983-05-24) (age 28)
Rugby, Warwickshire, England
Residence Brisbane, Australia
Occupation Video game critic
Employer The Escapist, Hyper, PC Gamer
Known for Zero Punctuation
Website
Fully Ramblomatic

Benjamin Richard "Yahtzee" Croshaw (born 24 May 1983,[1] Rugby,[2] Warwickshire, England) is an English comedic writer, video game journalist and author of adventure games created using Adventure Game Studio software. He writes articles for Australia's Hyper magazine, a major games publication. He uses his website "Fully Ramblomatic" as an outlet for his own work, including weekly dark humour articles, essays, fiction, and webcomics. He is currently making a series of video-reviews named Zero Punctuation for The Escapist,[3] as well as the weekly column Extra Punctuation.[4] In the February 2008 issue of PC Gamer (US), Croshaw took over Gary Whitta's "Backspace" column as a contributing editor. He recently completed work on a novel entitled Mogworld, which was published in August 2010.[5] He is also one of the four founders of The Mana Bar; an Australian cocktail bar and video gaming lounge originally in Brisbane, Australia, and recently having opened a second venue in Melbourne, Australia, intends to continue to spread around Australia and overseas.[6]

Contents

Games

Originally Croshaw created a series of adventure games with MS Paint starring his signature character Arthur Yahtzee.

Croshaw became known in the Adventure Game Studio (AGS) community for the Rob Blanc trilogy. He then created The Trials of Odysseus Kent, which was mentioned by PC Plus magazine as "AGS Showcase" in the November 2003 issue[7] and the Chzo Mythos series. He also helped found the collaborative Reality-on-the-Norm series by creating the first game, Lunchtime of the Damned. The series has gone on to have over 50 episodes since.[8] Some of his recent works have experimented with the AGS engine to produce games in other genres than the point-and-click adventure games that AGS was designed for, such as Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment, and the 1213 series. He has also made an adventure demo called E for the commercial venture Aberrant Entertainment, for whom he works. He also created a total conversion for Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition called Age of Evil.

Croshaw writes his own games and their graphics and animation using Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Paint,[9] though he does not compose his own music.

Arthur Yahtzee Trilogy

Cathode captures Yahtzee in Yesterday: The D-Gate

A series of adventure games written in Visual Basic 3 during Croshaw's high school years inspired by his schoolmate Michael Dodson's Red Dwarf games,[10] with the first being released on 1 January 1998.[11] They star his signature character, from which his Internet alias is derived. In Friday: Death to Arthur Yahtzee, a group of mutants who Arthur once defeated are back and out to get him. In Saturday: Arthur's Odyssey Yahtzee has to face forces trying to mess with time, a quest that leads into Yesterday: The D-Gate where Arthur faces the villain Cathode (and helped by Anode). He reveals himself to be the one responsible for all of Arthur's troubles in the previous games, and is now determined to gain the power to control travel between dimensions. The game ends with Arthur destroying the entire Multiverse in his quest to stop him. These games showcase the first examples of the humour and writing style that Croshaw became known for in his AGS years. The games were created before Croshaw had his own site and thus were hosted on the site of a friend, once that site went down they were sent to Croshaw's Fully Ramblomatic. A text adventure game, Arthur Yahtzee: The Curse of Hell's Cheesecake, was also created but is not considered part of the actual trilogy.[12][13]

Rob Blanc Trilogy

Outside the Casino in Rob Blanc III running in DOSBox

A series of adventure games that follow the adventures of the fictional character Rob Blanc, an unassuming English chip shop worker who is abducted by the High Ones, the secret rulers of reality. He is told that he is to become the "Defender of the Universe", to provide a counterbalance to all the evil that is being done in the galaxy. In Rob Blanc I: Better Days of the Defender of the Universe, he is sent onto an alien spaceship to find out what happened to the crew, and prove himself as a worthy defender of the universe.[14] The second game, Rob Blanc II: Planet of the Pasteurised Pestilence, features Rob returning to Earth while the High Ones construct his ship. While there, he notices a green-haired teenage male following him, and inside an elevator both of them find that they have been sent into outer space. Landing on an alien world, they find that the natives believe them to be the ones prophesied to cure a great plague which is enveloping the planet, and are thus forced to live up to the legend.[14] The third and final game Rob Blanc III: The Temporal Terrorists begins on Rob's space ship where he and Paul, now his sidekick, are finally ready to start really defending the universe. Their first mission soon comes: somebody is removing all of the time from the universe, and Rob and Paul must find and assemble the parts of the Reaman Time Drive (RTD) to find out who is responsible for it. All of the games follow the same point-and-click interface typical of the AGS engine they were built on, with most of the puzzles involving the finding of objects. The series' humour is similar to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Red Dwarf.

Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment

Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment features cynical science fiction humour similar to Sierra On-Line's Space Quest, but mixes adventure elements with turn-based space combat, resource trading and space exploration gameplay mechanisms reminiscent of space simulator titles like Star Control and Wing Commander: Privateer. The game is both a parody of and tribute to science fiction games and films. For instance, a major plot point is the deployment of Redshirts (an obvious homage to Star Trek's disposable red-shirted crew members), who are used as cannon fodder when the situation planet-side is deemed too dangerous for the ship's crew. The easily replaceable Redshirts invariably die, often in gruesome and darkly comic ways. Although not a part of the series proper, the game is set in the Rob Blanc science fiction universe, after the disappearance of the "Defender of the Universe" and the chaos that followed.

Chzo Mythos

5 Days a Stranger, 7 Days a Skeptic, Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice are the four parts of a horror series. In 5 Days a Stranger, the player controls the shady cat burglar Trilby, who stumbles across a demonic force that manifests itself as a masked killer in the tradition of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, while finding himself one of a group of strangers thrown together in an abandoned mansion and being picked off one by one. 7 Days a Skeptic emulates the claustrophobic horror of Alien following a spaceship crew that finds a mysterious artifact floating in space, four hundred years after the events of 5 Days a Stranger. Trilby's Notes, set in a hotel which exists in both the real world and a horrific alternate dimension in the style of Silent Hill, goes back to flesh out the origin of the cursed African idol from the other games. 6 Days a Sacrifice is the final episode of the John DeFoe tetralogy. It links all its three previous episodes and completes the story of Chzo and John DeFoe.

While the first two games use the point-and-click interface typical of adventure games, Trilby's Notes requires the player to move with the keyboard and type commands with a text parser, similar to the early Sierra On-Line King's Quest series.

Up until Trilby's Notes, Croshaw relied upon RPG Maker's included MIDI files for musical accompaniment. Some argued that these fantasy-inspired songs did not mesh well with the horror aspect of the games. In response, Croshaw enlisted outside help for the music in Trilby's Notes. That game's soundtrack, composed by Mark 'm0ds' Lovegrove, was received warmly by players.[citation needed]

In November 2007, Croshaw released Trilby: The Art of Theft, a stealth platform game based on his 1213 codebase. Although Trilby is the game's protagonist, it is not directly linked to the Chzo Mythos storyline.

1213 series

1213 is a trilogy of horror science-fiction games. The episodes tell the story of the suffering and eventual escape of an amnesiac victim of experimentation, codenamed 1213, from his cell, freed by his unseen tormentor. On escaping, 1213 sees that the facility's other guinea pigs, all similarly named to himself, have also escaped and have been turned into zombies, slaughtering the employees.

1213 is notable for reproducing the traditional platformer experience using an engine originally designed to be used in the production of point-and-click adventure games. Simply animated, many elements of the game reflect the original Prince of Persia gameplay mechanics,[15] though it incorporates aspects of gunplay found in Another World and Flashback: The Quest for Identity.[16]

Special editions

The Chzo Mythos and 1213 games were both later released as special editions. These can contain author's commentaries, extended endings or even extended notes giving backstory. Croshaw allowed people to get these each time they donated over five U.S. dollars to his site, but as of July 2009 they were given out for free on his site, as he said he no longer relied on the donations as a means of support.

Game Damage

Game Damage is a game-themed television series pilot co-starring Croshaw with Matt Burgess and Guy "Yug" Blomberg from the website Australian Gamer. The pilot was released on YouTube on 15 December 2008.[17] A website has been set up to promote the series.[18] The show features gaming news, comedy sketches, reviews of MMORPGs and three special reports, one of which involved Croshaw in a discussion of the adventure game genre. On 3 October 2009, an updated pilot was uploaded to YouTube and the Game Damage website, showing new sketches and appearances at Supanova 2009.[19]

Zero Punctuation

Zero Punctuation is a weekly video-review column by Croshaw produced for The Escapist. The series started after Croshaw produced two reviews for Fable: The Lost Chapters and The Darkness demo and uploaded them on YouTube, after which The Escapist contacted him and offered him a contract.[20] Reviews are released every Wednesday, with Tuesday previews on G4's X-Play. Yahtzee is best known in this series for his generally scathing reviews of mainstream games, as well as often extremely colourful comparisons and rapid-fire speech. Portal,[21] Psychonauts,[22] and Silent Hill 2[23] are some of the few games that have actually received favorable reviews and first/third person shooters are usually compared to Half-life series as model examples of the genre. Saints Row 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Just Cause 2 were named as his Games of the Year of 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively. The Valve game Portal is the only game he has ever reviewed in a completely positive manner and is rated as one of his top 5 favourite games of all time, the other four being Silent Hill 2, Spider-Man 2, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Fantasy World Dizzy, all glimpsed in one of his videos, albeit blurred.[24] In his Soul Calibur 4 review, he left a message at the end saying that the "Top 5 List" should not be taken seriously. Also, in a later video he makes a scathing revision to Fantasy World Dizzy, in reference to the poor quality of the game by today's standards.

Ben Croshaw frequently uses an image of a man with no expression in his reviews to represent stupidity or boredom, which he got from a collection by Thomas Ruff.[25]

Writing

Novels

Mogworld

On 23 October 2009, The Escapist announced Croshaw's first novel, Mogworld,[5] "the story of Jim, who, sixty years after dying in a magic-school mishap, is wrenched back to life by a renegade necromancer". Croshaw stated that the novel would be released on 19 August 2010[26] while the Mogworld profile on the Dark Horse Books website claims it was released on 8 September.[27]

Croshaw's website hosts two unpublished novels: Articulate Jim: A Search for Something, a pirate-themed in part work; and Fog Juice, his 2005 "National Novel Writing Month" entry.

Second novel

On December 26, 2010, Croshaw revealed that he was working on a second novel through a news post on his website.[28] No other information was provided.

Short stories

Machine of Death

On October 26, 2010, the independently published short story anthology Machine of Death was published, containing a short story by Croshaw.[29][30]

In addition, he has also written two unpublished tie-in short stories for Chzo Mythos.[31]

Video Games

On July 5, 2011, Croshaw admitted on his Extra Punctuation column that at one point during its long development, he was given an offer by 3D Realms developer Brian Hook to write the script for Duke Nukem Forever. This was a response to a fan's question, following Croshaw's official review of the game, regarding a fact brought up in a June 23 episode of the TWiT Video Game Show. In the episode, Duke Nukem Forever developer Jay Brushwood claimed that Hook pushed for Croshaw's involvement in the project and that his piece stood out as being the funniest among the samples sent in by other writers. However, lead designer George Broussard rejected Croshaw's script for being, according to Brushwood, "too out there", was not true to the Duke Nukem character and, as Croshaw added in his column, didn't match the game's "tone".[32]

According to the Extra Punctuation article, his short audition script wrote Duke Nukem as an ironic character; seeing that is was the only way to successfully present the overly-macho character to the current market. Croshaw added that he never talked about the offer up to that point due to possible "unspoken" non-disclosure action and because he didn't think the whole story was worth mentioning to the public.[33]

Comics

Yahtzee has written several web comics series, such as "Yahtzee Takes on the World", "The Adventures of Angular Mike" and "Chris and Trilby". "Yahtzee Takes on the World" was written for a little over two full years and is the most prominent of his web comics, which he still has posted on his website, www.fullyramblomatic.com. Yahtzee went on to disown these comics along with some of his early games in 2008, claiming that "they came out of a dark time in his life from which he has determinedly moved on without a backward glance."

Individual projects

Since April 13th, 2011, Yahtzee has been introducing podcasts on his website, www.fullyramblomatic.com, which have typically appeared on a monthly basis. The focus of these podcasts is to create unscripted banter between himself and a co-speaker regarding various subjects for the entertainment of listeners. The format of these podcasts has recently been one of show and tell, in which Yahtzee and his co-speaker, essentially Gabriel Morton, would bring three objects each which are representative of the topics they are going to introduce during the podcast.

References

  1. ^ "Fully Ramblomatic blog entry "8/4/06: Fucking Ada"". http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/archive/20060203-0419.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  2. ^ "Adventure-treff (interview)". http://www.adventure-treff.de/artikel/interviews.php?id=30&lang=eng. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ a b Jordan Deam (23 October 2009). "The Escapist: News: EXCLUSIVE: Dark Horse Books Announces Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's Debut Novel, Mogworld". The Escapist. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/95677-EXCLUSIVE-Dark-Horse-Books-Announces-Ben-Yahtzee-Croshaws-Debut-Novel-Mogworld. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  6. ^ "Mana Bar to expand to Melbourne, Sydney and Internationally". http://manabar.com.au/_press_Mana%20Bar%20to%20expand%20to%20Melbourne,%20Sydney%20and%20Internationally.php. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  7. ^ Zipped PDF scans of PC Plus November 2003 article on AGS, featuring The Trials of Odysseus Kent cited 15 November 2006
  8. ^ http://www.realityonthenorm.info/games.php
  9. ^ http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/games.htm
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ Giant Bomb, Friday: Death to Arthur Yahtzee
  12. ^ Baf's Guide to the IF Archive, Arthur Yahtzee: The Curse of Hell's Cheesecake
  13. ^ Jolt Country, Arthur Yahtzee: The Curse of Hell's Cheesecake by Ben Croshaw
  14. ^ a b http://www.justadventure.com/reviews/RobBlanc/RobBlanc.shtm
  15. ^ PopMatters.com review cited 25 December 2006
  16. ^ Independent Gaming: 1213 Episode 1 cited 25 December 2006
  17. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXvdoTYlVtk
  18. ^ http://gamedamage.net/
  19. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8C1ZhWUWRU
  20. ^ "Gamespot Blog Entry: "PressSpotting: Ramblin' with Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw"". http://au.gamespot.com/pages/news/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=26300119. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  21. ^ Croshaw, Ben. The Orange Box review. 17 Oct 2007. Quote: "Absolutely sublime from start to finish .. Portal's great .."
  22. ^ Croshaw, Ben. Psychonauts review. 22 Aug 2007. Quote: "I obviously like the game .. It's something original .. It's genuinely funny .. It's fun!"
  23. ^ Croshaw, Ben. Silent Hill 2 review. 17 Aug 2009. Quote: "Silent Hill 2 is not just a game I think is good .. What it does best – and better than any other game I know – is atmosphere."
  24. ^ Prince of Persia Retrospective
  25. ^ [4]
  26. ^ "Yahtzee Croshaw on Mogworld (again) on Youtube". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3wo47b6ncg. 
  27. ^ "Mogworld :: Profile". http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/16-577/Mogworld. 
  28. ^ http://fullyramblomatic-yahtzee.blogspot.com/2010/12/ho-ho-etc.html
  29. ^ Machine of Death
  30. ^ Fullyramblomatic-Machine of Death
  31. ^ Novels - Fully Ramblomatic
  32. ^ "TWiT Video Game Show 0.7 (60:54)". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQLqjm_njhk&t=60m54s. 
  33. ^ ""Extra Punctuation: Yahtzee Could Have Written Duke Nukem Forever" (5 July 2011)". http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/9002-Extra-Punctuation-Yahtzee-Could-Have-Written-Duke-Nukem-Forever. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 

External links


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