About the Author

I'm James, aka Whybird on pretty much every form of social media that still lets you use an anonymous username. I've stuck the stuff about me here, so you don't have to get interrupted by it when you're after recipe stuff.

Other things I've made

Robostar is a free full-length game about battling killer robots and uncovering corporate wrongdoing. You can watch a trailer here or play the game here.

The story of Training.bsp is a creepypasta story about a bunch of nerds and a half-life map. It's better than I just made it sound.

Art With Leeloo is an app that lets you practice sketching by showing you random pictures from a folder on your computer for a fixed period of time. It also has pictures of my cat on it.

Other things I do

Coding: I've liked making games since I was tiny, and I've found that Unity is a really great engine for it. I finished making Robostar, my first full-length game, in March 2020, and I'm now experimenting with a few things before I start another project.

RPGs: I'm a huge fan of tabletop RPGs (and it's helping me deal with the stress of lockdown a lot right now!) I'm currently running a Dungeon World game and a D&D4e game over Discord, and I'm playing a L5R game over Discord and a D&D5e game over roll20. Maybe this is too many RPGs, now I list them all here.

Socialism and queer rights: Be gay, do crimes. Most of the bad things in your life can be directly attributed to there being too much money in the hands of too few people.

Music Recommendations

I grew up listening to a lot of folk-punk: The Levellers and New Model Army were my big favourites but I also enjoyed Flogging Molly and, a bit later, Smokey Bastard.

More recently I've gotten a little disillusioned with punk: not because my politics changed (if anything, I became more left wing as I grew up) but because I lost hope that the world could be changed by singing songs about it.

I still listen to a lot of New Model Army because they also sing a lot about the human condition and their own personal experiences, but I've also been getting a lot into more synthy stuff: Ladytron (and Helen Marnie's solo project), Electric Youth, Apoptygma Berzerk, VNV Nation and of course the growing synthwave movement. And, oddly enough, Metric, who don't really fit into any of those boxes but who are still pretty good.

Game recommendations

My dude have you tried emulation: There have been some brilliant tools for emulating old consoles like the SNES and Game Boy, and most of the games for them are easy to get hold of if you don't mind the fact that you're doing a crime. (You should do it anyway.) I particularly recommend Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger, and the 2D Zelda games.

On the topic of emulation, if you remember enjoying text adventures like Zork (or if you don't, and you're curious to experience a piece of gaming history that's aged like a fine wine) then you'll be pleased to know that they're all available online, and so is a vast library of similar games made by a crazily devoted fanbase with a helpful page for getting started.

Daniel Remar's games are brilliant -- he is something of an inspiration to me as a developer. Iji, Hero Core, and Hyper Princess Pitch are all great fun, and his hand is very visible in Ludosity's zeldalike Ittle Dew.

Nifflas has created the Knytt series, which is a really lovely about exploring a 2D world and having a chill time discovering things, and Within A Deep Forest, which is a really lovely game about exploring a 2D world that will break you over its knee.

Cave Story is another 2D platformer that pretty much revitalised the Metroidvania genre for indie developers. It's incredibly fun, has a strong story and visuals, and a rocking soundtrack.

On the topic of metroidvania-type games: You Have To Win The Game and VVVVVV are both brilliant flip-screen platformers that capture the retro feel while learning from the genre's mistakes.

Of course, now I'm talking about 2D metroidvanias I have to mention Hollow Knight. Cave Story might have revitalised the genre with a single-person team and pixel graphics, but Hollow Knight took a budget and hand-drawn art and a full team and turned all of that into an absolute damn masterpiece of game design, atmosphere and storytelling.

Wadjet Eye are another indie studio -- though this time they're making Lucasarts-style graphic adventures. Again, very strong voice acting, storytelling and characterisation. Their most recent one, Unavowed, is a particular triumph in this regard -- but also be sure to check out Primordia.

Anodyne and its sequel are two more games that do a really strong job of replicating not only the feel of the 2D Zelda games but the weird and eerie sense of wandering into a part of a game where you don't belong. Its sequel, in particular, manages to keep on pulling the rug out from under your feet the moment you start to think you understand what's going on.

The Deadly Rooms of Death series are puzzle games with a genuinely unique concept and some of the most impressively ugly character art I've ever seen. The puzzles, however, are brilliant at making you briefly feel stupid and then like an absolute genius.

Baba Is You is another puzzle game which... well, it wouldn't be fair to describe the gimmick to you rather than letting you experience it yourself. What is impressive is how far the developers are able to take that gimmick, and how they're able to keep on finding new ways to surprise you with what you're capable of doing.

You might be one of the nine or so people in the world who haven't yet heard about Undertale yet. If you are, you should play it. It's not capable of living up to the amount of hype that its fanbase have generated, because nothing is capable of doing that -- but it's still one of the cleverest, most touching, and funniest JRPGs I've played. Also, the demo is still free.

Spiderweb Software are a solo developer studio, and their Exile (later remade asAvernum) and Geneforge series are some of the best-written and most absorbing settings I've played. Geneforge, in particular, has some of the best roleplaying choies I've encountered in any CRPG, ever.

There are a decent number of good JRPGs created with RPG Maker, but you have to sift through a vast pile of crap to get to them. Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is one of the best, but honourable mentions have to go to Off and Space Funeral, both of which do their own utterly bizarre things with the engine.

Webcomic recommendations

Oyvind Thorsby has created a number of long-running webcomics, of which Trixie Slaughteraxe For President is probably the most polished. He's also completely incapable of drawing and completely uninterested in improving his art; if you're able to get around the frankly ugly art, you'll be rewarded with a dive into a compelling and bizarre world with some of the best storytelling I've seen.

Rich Burlew's Order Of The Stick has been running for over a decade now. It's a stick-figure webcomic about a Dungeons and Dragons party that starts off from being a gag-a-day strip about how silly RPG rules are and gets wrapped up in its own metaplot, and as much as that description should be rightly filling you with dread, it turns out that once Rich is able to get his hands into the story he does a stellar job of making plot beats drop and writing genuinely affecting character moments.

Chris Hastings wrote Doctor McNinja before he got picked up doing a professional gig, and rightly so. The man has an incredibly strong sense for the absurd, and he manages to do what thousands of imitators failed to do and remember to include jokes rather than just relying on his comic's absurd premise to carry the humour through.

Andrew Hussie has kind of immolated in a self-created fireball of online drama and predatory behaviour now but his original webcomic, Problem Sleuth, remains hilarious (if hampered by slightly 2000s-era Internet Language). And -- well, we all know Homestuck ended badly, but the first five acts are still a fascinating piece of internet history and served as the soil for an incredibly fertile run of community creativity.

Oglaf is about the least safe-for-work comic you can imagine. (Well, that's not true, obviously, this is the internet after all.) What it is is the most wholesomely positively and gleefully non-safe-for-work comic out there.