It has once again fallen to me to pick out my favourite features, this time from 2023. This is a terrible task, because there are always a lot I like. I’ve tried to cut it down a bit from last year, for both our sakes, dear reader, and decided that previews don’t count (because as a format previews do a lot of the work for you, to be honest). Even reducing my task this way made it tough to whittle things down, and I’m sure I’ve missed some excellent articles and writers – and that I will be corrected in the comments!
Still, read on for a place to start if you want to look back at the year that was on RPS. We’ve got interviews, community nonsense, and even more interviews for you to enjoy here. I think in 2024 I’m going to advocate for more horseposting.
Sin, who writes our Scout Report supporter series and our strategy-gaming focused The Rally Point, is very good, and you should read all her articles, but I really enjoyed this, from the start of the year, assessing where Dwarf Fortress in its new context after its second release.
It was always a pleasure to edit Liam (RPS in peace)’s work whenever he wasn’t doing a video, and I loved his assessment of the Ishimura as a place that people lived and worked in rather than a video game level.
Rebecca (likewise RPS in peace, likewise not often one to dip her toe in the sea of features) was a fellow Simmer, albeit much more immersed and smart than I am about playing the Sims, and though her planned set of articles on the series ended up being only one article long, as a look back at the first Sims game it’s a very good standalone piece.
Freelancer Chris Wallace’s interview with Josh Sawyer, on the animated Medieval fonts in Pentiment, is exactly the kind of interview I like. Break downs one specific cool thing about a game will never not be fascinating to me, and I’m glad RPS got to host this one.
Hardware editor James has done some great interviews inbetween reviewing and breaking handhelds, but he didn’t break the Steam Deck, and this particular interview – wherein some Valve heads (Valve-Os? Valve Nuts?) assess their new toy after a year – is a very good one.
Cheating a bit with a video, but Inventory Space was great while it lasted, and Destiny 2 is such a brilliant game to tackle. Live service games are basically second jobs to some people, and I really enjoyed the way Liam and Ed approached this.
Nic Rueben always sends me good, idiosyncratic ideas for features and I love seeing how the sausage gets made with things that you never even really think of as sausage – in this case, video game trailers, which turn out to be weird sausages indeed. See also: his roundtable interview on RPGs.
Alicia Haddick did a few reports on parts of the Japanese dev scene for us and they’re all fascinating glimpses into what seems to be a unique and lovely community. If nothing else, calling your convention the Game Dungeon is a move I massively respect.
We did a bunch of Game Clubs this year, where we picked a gam to all have a go at and then live chat about, and Hi=Fi Rush was a popular one. Hayden (another RPS in peace) wrote a really nice example of analysing the extra touches in Hi-Fi Rush’s design that make it more accessible as a rhythm game, from a personal point of view.
Jeremy Peel did a bunch of extremely good interviews for us this year and it was a struggle to pick just one – he interviewed Marc Laidlaw about writing Half-Life, for example, and, more recently, John Romero on Doom’s 30th anniversary. Ultimately I picked this piece on Jurassic Park: Trespasser because it offers a look at a fun oddity, and I love fun oddities!
Similarly, Diana Croce’s piece on how and why to break Akalabeth/Ultima 0, Lord British’s first game and one of the very first RPGS, it’s fascinating and funny. Games and games media and the internet have a short memory, so I like pieces like this for remembering how things were.
Ed spends a lot of time reviewing and previewing, and actually a lot of my favourite work of his ends up being supporter posts (a reason to sign up, mayhap). This piece, about a short game about working culture in Japan, highlights both what I like about Ed’s writing and a cool game.
I am exactly one hundred percentiles sure that Katharine would prefer – and indeed may have been expecting – that I picked her huge GDC interview with Jake Solomon for this list, but this horse post is imaginative and silly, so in it goes. Sorry, I don’t make the rules (I do).
Some absolutely vintage Alice0 to find this year, and one of my favourites is this on Hardspace: Shipbreaker, and finding satisfaction in employment drudgery. Also by Alice0 this year: the start of a series on fictional games in TV shows, which is also great.
Edwin arriving as our news editor was a real shot in the arm. This late-stage entry in his ‘no planets’ run of playing Starfield is excellent, as are his many other features (e.g. on Metacritic; Roadwarden; Amnesia; Indika). Just read everything Edwin posts, basically.
Rick Lane (who does our VR column Reality Bytes did a great multi-interview piece on the new boom in indie im-sims, which is no bad thing – both the boom, and the article.
Final Fantasy XIV’s huge fishing community make their own fun with spreadsheets and bootleg aquariums
Jai Singh Bains did a few pieces on Final Fantasy XIV for us this year. I like this fishing article in particular for diving (ho ho) into a very specific community project, and showcasing the love and collegiate spirit you can find in massive multiplayer games. Joyful and slightly weird: the perfect combination.
Come home, Graham, nothing is forgiven.
Ollie’s piece on The Headless fightin Sekiro was my favourite of our Halloweeny posts this year. I think this is at least partially because he spends so much of his time being just very good at games, so seeing him rattled by something feels like justice. I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is.
This investigation into the addictive nature of FIFA packing, by Jamie Barton, is comprehensive and convincing, and is a strong contender for ‘best thing we published this year, tbh’.
Jeremy hasn’t worked here long, but editing his article about the 90s Doom comic (as part of our Doom At 30 set of features) made me go “haha okay, this guy is cool”, which I think is probably the strongest endorsement I can give anyone about anything.
Speaking of, Kiera (also quite new to the treehouse) wrote a piece on playing Doom for the first time, now, in 2023, and it’s utterly charming in a way articles using this premise rarely are.
Doom At 30: MyHouse.wad is an extraordinary mod that asks, “What if Doom was an ultra creepy horror game?”
Last doom post, I promise, but Saleh Karaman wrote a really good one about a WAD called MyHouse, which is sort of Doom meets House Of Leaves meets an ARG. Yet more fascinating community antics, good work video games.
The Black Parade is a Thief mod from a team including a dev at Arkane and an original Thief designer
Let’s close this out with another cool inteview piece that I couldn’t think of a good title for because my brain is mush. Thief is 25 years old, and this cool prequel expansion is a labour of love from modders at all levels of the dev ecosystem.
I think this is a pretty varied spread, but go ahead and share some of your favourite RPS features this year in the comments.