Ben Croshaw

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Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Ben Croshaw.jpg
Born Benjamin Richard Croshaw
(1983-05-24) 24 May 1983 (age 31)
Rugby, Warwickshire, England
Residence Brisbane, Australia
Occupation Video game critic, Novelist
Employer The Escapist, Hyper, PC Gamer
Known for Zero Punctuation
Website
Fully Ramblomatic

Benjamin Richard "Yahtzee" Croshaw (born 24 May 1983,[1] Rugby, Warwickshire,[2] England) is a British-Australian comedic writer, video game journalist and author of adventure games created using Adventure Game Studio software. He is best known for series of video-reviews named Zero Punctuation for The Escapist.[3]

In July 2014, Croshaw launched a new series for The Escapist named Uncivil War, which depicts an ongoing competition against co-creator Jim Sterling.[4] Croshaw also writes a weekly column for The Escapist, Extra Punctuation.[5] One web series for The Escapist has been discontinued: Jim & Yahtzee's Rhymedown Spectacular, in which Sterling and Croshaw each performed an original piece of video game themed poetry.[6]

Croshaw has published two novels, to date. The first was Mogworld published in August 2010.[7] The second, Jam, was released in 2012.[7]

Other projects have included:

  • Keeping up with his website "Fully Ramblomatic" as an outlet for his own work, including dark humour articles, essays, fiction, and webcomics.
  • Launching a podcast/Let's Play hybrid series named Let's Drown Out along with co-host Gabriel Morton.[8]
  • Becoming one of the four founders of The Mana Bar, an Australian cocktail bar and video gaming lounge.
  • Writing articles for Australia's Hyper magazine, a major games publication.
  • And taking over Gary Whitta's "Backspace" column as a contributing editor in the February 2008 issue of PC Gamer (US).

Games[edit]

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 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[9] 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.[10] 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 in 2003. It contains fifteen levels total with two episodes, The Awakening and Evil Never Dies, along with custom artwork and audio for the new enemies, levels, weapons, bosses, and ending cutscenes.

Croshaw writes his own games and their graphics and animation using Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Paint,[11] though he does not compose his own music.

Arthur Yahtzee Trilogy[edit]

Cathode captures Yahtzee in Yesterday: The D-Gate

A series of adventure games written in Visual Basic 3 and largely drawn in Microsoft Paint during Croshaw's high school years inspired by his schoolmate Michael Dodson's Red Dwarf games,[12] with the first being released on 1 January 1998.[13] They star his signature character, from which his Internet alias is derived. In Friday: Death to Arthur Yahtzee, a group of mutants whom 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.[14][15]

Rob Blanc Trilogy[edit]

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.[16] 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.[16] 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[edit]

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[edit]

Main article: 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.

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[edit]

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,[17] though it incorporates aspects of gunplay found in Another World and Flashback: The Quest for Identity,[18] the latter of which he has written a sixteen-chapter Let's Play of.[19]

Special editions[edit]

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.

Poacher[edit]

Croshaw's latest project, Poacher, was released on 5 April 2012. It is an old school retro non-linear platformer starring Derek Badger, a poacher who travels underground to save a gamekeeper from hordes of demonic rabbits, with the assistance of a spirit. Eventually, he must resolve difficulties between the spirits and the Dark Ones. The game was his first to be made in Game Maker, and was released to positive reception.

Game Damage[edit]

Game Damage was a planned 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.[20] A website was set up to promote the series.[21] The show was supposed to feature 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.[22]

There was little to no published information about Game Damage afterward. In 2011, Croshaw was asked if Game Damage was still being worked on, to which he simply replied "Nope."[23]

Zero Punctuation[edit]

Main article: Zero Punctuation

Zero Punctuation is a weekly video-review column by Croshaw produced for The Escapist. The series started when Croshaw uploaded two reviews for Fable: The Lost Chapters and The Darkness demo to YouTube, after which The Escapist contacted him to offer a contract.[24] Reviews are released every Wednesday, with Tuesday previews running for a period of time on G4's now-defunct X-Play. Croshaw 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,[25] Psychonauts,[26] and Silent Hill 2[27] are some of the few games that have actually received favorable reviews and first-person shooters are usually compared to Half-life series as model examples of the genre. Saints Row 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Just Cause 2, Portal 2, Spec Ops: The Line and Bioshock Infinite were named as his official Games of the Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 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 favorite 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, with Fantasy World Dizzy being mentioned ironically.[28] In his Soul Calibur 4 review, he left a message at the end saying that the "Top 5 List", from the aforementioned video, 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.[29] Croshaw later explained that nostalgia led him to say this in his XBLA Double Bill video, and notes in his Let's Play of the game that it was one of the few games he owned during his childhood. His real "Top 5 List" is Portal, Silent Hill 2, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Shadow of the Colossus, and Thief II: The Metal Age.[30]

Writing[edit]

Yahtzee Takes On The World[edit]

On 20 December, 2000, Yahtzee began a web-comic known as Yahtzee Takes On The World. It ended on 22 September 2002.[31]

Novels[edit]

Mogworld[edit]

On 23 October 2009, The Escapist announced Croshaw's first novel, Mogworld,[7] "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[32] while the Mogworld profile on the Dark Horse Books website claims it was released on 8 September.[33]

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.

Jam[edit]

On 26 December 2010, Croshaw revealed that he was working on a second novel.[34] "It's about an apocalypse. WITH JAM IN IT."[35] On 25 April 2012, Croshaw announced the novel, titled Jam. It was published by Dark Horse Books and released on 23 October 2012.[36] The concept for the novel can be seen in the Zero Punctuation review of the survival horror game Dead Island where he says that people would not be able to cope if civilization ends in any other way than a zombie apocalypse. He then mentions the idea of the entire world getting covered in "carnivorous jam".[37]

Short stories[edit]

Machine of Death[edit]

On 26 October 2010, the independently published short story anthology Machine of Death was published, containing a short story by Croshaw.[38][39]

In addition, he has also written two unpublished tie-in short stories for Chzo Mythos.[40]

Video games[edit]

On 5 July 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 23 June 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" and untrue to the Duke Nukem character; Croshaw later added in his column that it didn't match the game's "tone".[41]

According to the Extra Punctuation article, his short audition script wrote Duke Nukem as an ironic character; seeing that it 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.[42]

As of February 2012, Croshaw and Gabriel Morton have also begun producing Let's Play videos of various older video games and uploading them to Croshaw's YouTube channel yahtzee19 in which the two discuss current news in gaming and films. There are currently 49 games played in the series, with Fantasy World Dizzy being the first and the most recent being Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Other projects[edit]

Since 13 April 2011, Croshaw has hosted podcasts on his website, www.fullyramblomatic.com. The podcasts consist of unscripted banter between him and co-speaker Gabriel Morton regarding various subjects. The format of these podcasts is one of show and tell, in which Croshaw and Morton, bring three objects to discuss, but as of late 2013 Croshaw has integrated this into a format that he calls Let's Drown Out where he and Gabriel banter while one of them plays a video game that he posts on his personal YouTube channel.

The, "Show and Tell Podcasts" have since ended with Croshaw and Morton now doing a hybrid of a Lets Play, with podcast topics. Titled, "Lets Drown Out" Morton and Yahtzee will play a game of ones choosing (alternating with each episode) and will talk about current events in the video game world. The series is done weekly and posted on Croshaws YouTube Channel.

Croshaw is one of the four founders of The Mana Bar, an Australian cocktail bar and video gaming lounge. The bar was founded in Brisbane, with a second venue opening in Melbourne in 2011. The bar intends to continue to spread around Australia and potentially internationally.[43]

Alongside Zero Punctuation, Croshaw also starred in a series on the Escapist titled Jim & Yahtzee's Rhymedown Spectacular alongside fellow Escapist personality Jim Sterling. The weekly series consisted of a poem each from Croshaw and Sterling. Unlike his other shows, Croshaw presented himself on camera the entire time. The series aired weekly from April 17, 2013, to May 28, 2014.[44]

Personal life[edit]

Born the younger of two brothers, Croshaw attended Eastlands Primary School after which he attended Abbots Farm Middle School and finally Lawrence Sheriff School where he made his first adventure game before he dropped out of secondary school.[45][46] At the age of 20, he moved to Australia to pursue new career opportunities.[47] Currently, he does not often contact his brother, while his parents disapprove of his game-critic career, as they wanted him to enroll into higher education.[48][49][50]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fully Ramblomatic blog entry "8/4/06: Fucking Ada"". Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  2. ^ "Adventure-treff (interview)". Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  3. ^ "The Escapist : Video Galleries : Zero Punctuation". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  4. ^ "The Escapist : Video Galleries : Uncivil War". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  5. ^ "The Escapist : Extra Punctuation". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  6. ^ "The Escapist : Video Galleries : Jim & Yahtzee's Rhymedown Spectacular". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  7. ^ a b c Jordan Deam (23 October 2009). "The Escapist: News: EXCLUSIVE: Dark Horse Books Announces Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's Debut Novel, Mogworld". The Escapist. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  8. ^ "Fully Ramblomatic - the blog of Yahtzee Croshaw: Raving and drowning". http://fullyramblomatic-yahtzee.blogspot.com.au. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  9. ^ Zipped PDF scans of PC Plus November 2003 article on AGS, featuring The Trials of Odysseus Kent cited 15 November 2006
  10. ^ "Reality-On-The-Norm: Games". Realityonthenorm.info. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  11. ^ "Come and play with us. For ever. And ever. And ever". Fully Ramblomatic.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "Giant Bomb, Friday: Death to Arthur Yahtzee". Giantbomb.com. 1998-01-01. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  14. ^ "Baf's Guide to the IF Archive, Arthur Yahtzee: The Curse of Hell's Cheesecake". Wurb.com. 2000-07-21. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  15. ^ "Jolt Country, Arthur Yahtzee: The Curse of Hell's Cheesecake by Ben Croshaw". Joltcountry.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  16. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  17. ^ PopMatters.com review cited 25 December 2006
  18. ^ Independent Gaming: 1213 Episode 1 cited 25 December 2006
  19. ^ "Flashback". Lparchive.org. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  20. ^ "Game Damage Pilot". YouTube. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  21. ^ "A new show featuring Yahtzee, Yug and Matt". Game Damage. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  22. ^ "Game Damage Trailer". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  23. ^ "yahtzeee comments on IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  24. ^ "Gamespot Blog Entry: "PressSpotting: Ramblin' with Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw"". Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  25. ^ Croshaw, Ben. The Orange Box review. 17 Oct 2007. Quote: "Absolutely sublime from start to finish .. Portal's great .."
  26. ^ Croshaw, Ben. Psychonauts review. 22 Aug 2007. Quote: "I obviously like the game .. It's something original .. It's genuinely funny .. It's fun!"
  27. ^ 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."
  28. ^ Prince of Persia Retrospective. "Prince of Persia Retrospective". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  29. ^ XBLA Double Bill. "XBLA Double Bill". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-12-14. 
  30. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  31. ^ http://yahtzee.comicgenesis.com/d/20001220.html
  32. ^ "Yahtzee Croshaw on Mogworld (again) on Youtube". 
  33. ^ "Mogworld :: Profile". 
  34. ^ "Fully Ramblomatic - the blog of Yahtzee Croshaw: Ho Ho Etc". Fullyramblomatic-yahtzee.blogspot.com. 2010-12-26. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  35. ^ Half-Life. "The Escapist : Video Galleries : Zero Punctuation : Half-Life". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  36. ^ "Fully Ramblomatic - the blog of Yahtzee Croshaw: Jam Packed". Fullyramblomatic-yahtzee.blogspot.com.au. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  37. ^ "Zero Punctuation: Dead Island". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  38. ^ "Machine of Death". Machine of Death. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  39. ^ "Fullyramblomatic-Machine of Death". Fullyramblomatic-yahtzee.blogspot.com. 2010-08-07. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  40. ^ "Novels". Fully Ramblomatic. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  41. ^ "TWiT Video Game Show 0.7 (60:54)". 
  42. ^ ""Extra Punctuation: Yahtzee Could Have Written Duke Nukem Forever" (5 July 2011)". Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  43. ^ "Mana Bar to expand to Melbourne, Sydney and Internationally". Archived from the original on 16 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  44. ^ http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jim-yahtzees-rhymedown-spectacular
  45. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  46. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  47. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  48. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  49. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  50. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 

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