Hello, I'm Richard! I write games and words that people seem to like, including 'Carthage' and 'frob'. Maybe I can write some for you? My inbox is always open.

Richard Cobbett
Freelance Writer / Narrative Designer
The RPG Scrollbars

So, for the last two years and a bit I’ve been writing a column called The RPG Scrollbars for Rock, Paper, Shotgun. That’s a pretty good run for a column, so I’m not too upset that they decided to draw it to a close. All columns end eventually, and I’m lucky to have been offered several over my time - a regular one back in PC Plus, PC Gamer’s Crap Shoot, which ran for a whopping five or so years, its shorter-lived follow-up Critical Paths about narrative, and a couple of others for various places that I doubt anybody else remembers.

Still, this one feels a bit strange. It’s the only real games journalism I’ve done for the last couple of years, give or take a couple of shorter pieces, with all the work currently on the horizon firmly on the games writing rather than writing about games side of things. I’m not saying ‘I don’t do that any more’, but for the first time since starting scripting and such, it doesn’t feel like what I do. If that makes any sense. (Of course, I reserve the right to go back on that if my next secret project falls though. Though I really hope it doesn’t! Crazy excited about this one…)

I’m proud of the Scrollbars though. While officially a column, it ended up being more of an article a week, focusing on a fairly tight remit, which had to be written in a way to appeal to both casual and hardcore fans, regardless of whether they remember every little detail about Clouds of Xeen or whatever. Given that, I think we dug pretty deep, in a fun communal way with running gags like the Ultima VII (take a shot) thing and a pretty wide range of serious and silly that stayed positive about the genre rather than just bitching about its problems each week.

You can read the whole lot here, but here’s a few I was particularly fond of:

From The Archives…

Scenes I Want To See In An RPG

Well, I said it wasn’t just about bitching. But occasionally poking fun at a few things always seemed fair game… Here’s a few spins on classic tropes I’d love to encounter while exploring a new adventure.

The Many Faces of Villainy

A look at how a truly great villain elevates both a game and its hero… and how messing up this seemingly simple thing can be one of the worst things that can happen to your plot.

In Search Of Urban Fantasy

There’s a real urban fantasy gap in the gaming industry, and it’s never made much sense. So much wasted opportunity, just sitting there and waiting to be seized.

Fallout 4: The Tale Of Bloody Nora

One of my ‘abridged’ type posts, this time poking fun at the start of Bethesda’s new sequel. Never get between an angry mother and her mech suit. Or child. Yes, the child thing is probably important too.

Roles We Take, Roles We Choose

A look a bit outside the box at how RPGs can encourage players to embody characters instead of simply use them, using Hearthstone’s character classes as a good visible example.

Of course, that’s just five out of more than a hundred. Lots of lovely reading material if you’re in the mood! Hopefully it Educated as well as Entertained, or at least Passed A Little Time. My only regret is that the final column was due to be about the much-delayed Grimoire, which seemed a perfect stopping point. Too bad its recent delays pushed it into August, with no promise that delays then won’t push it into 2027. Oh, the stories I was planning to tell of that game, of neanderthals and titanium bones and penis monsters and so much more.

Sadly, you’ll have to find them elsewhere now. (Luckily, Google still exists.)

And that’s it for another column. Hopefully there’ll be others in the future.

Until then: Ultima VII. (Take a shot.)

Music To Explore The Galaxy To

If you ask me, and you really don’t have to, one of the best things about The Long Journey Home is its amazing soundtrack, composed by the great Kai Rosenkranz. The whole soundtrack is available as DLC from Steam, and hopefully coming out in other forms too. Until then, check out this demo reel with snippets from the two or so hours of original music.

Out Now: Silent Streets - Case 1

The telegram arrived last week. You almost threw it into the fire. Whatever right Thomas Horgan had to contact you, he lost it long ago. But then you saw the three words that would change your life. Three words the Great Detective would never say. “Help me. Please.”

Silent Streets is an iPhone and Android mystery game where the gimmick involves physically walking between locations, hunting evidence in augmented reality, and solving mysteries in the Victorian city of Snowport, on the edge of the Empire. I was brought in to design the world, which involves a slight alternate history where the Royal Society is at war with its spiritualist rivals, and to design and write the actual cases, characters, and grand series plan. The result is a world that’s a little further advanced than the actual history, with cases dipping into both scientific and more fantastical wells - a world where, for instance, Faraday has trumped Tesla in creating lightning coils, but a pack of tarot cards could still point the way to a guilty soul.

Explore. Make friends and enemies. Find the truth.

The first of them is out now, called The Boy With The Flower Skin (a reference to Lichtenberg figures, though I won’t spoil exactly how). It’s a freebie intended to introduce the setting, where you’re a Marlowe type detective filling in for a disgraced Holmes type, arriving just in time to find him dead in mysterious circumstances and the police immediately collaring you for the crime. While the evidence against you is slight, that doesn’t mean much in Snowport. Luckily, the disappearance of a teenage girl gives you the perfect opportunity to prove your worth as Snowport’s new Detective and at least buy yourself some time to search for the truth.

The second case, The Mockingbird’s Last Dive, is due out in August, with the cheerily named third, The Short Cold Life Of Jenny Thricewise, sometime after that.

For more information, check here or the official site. You can download the first case for iPhone here, and for Android here. Future cases are planned to be a couple of quid, as IAPs.

Out Now: The Long Journey Home

Humanity’s first jump-capable ship is about to go horribly wrong, plunging a misfit team of four astronauts into the ultimate space adventure. Can you get your crew back alive?

I was writer on this space adventure, writing a script of over 170,000 words, coming up with much of the universe and co-designing lots of the quests. It’s a bit Star Control, a bit Farscape, a bit Red Dwarf… a little bit of just about every SF series and universe the team loves.

More info right here. It’s available on Steam and GOG right now, with a fancy boxed version that’s unfortunately only available in the German market. Here’s our awesome launch trailer. I can say that because while I wrote the script, I wasn’t involved with that wonderful music and staging that gives it those majestic Homeworld vibes. So pretty. The actual game features ten crew, from Kirsten, the astronaut seen here, to researchers, pilots and bloggers, all with their own personalities and relationships that evolve over the course of the journey. One of my favourite parts of the game is the crew chatter that shows up throughout the game, giving you a glimpse of the action aboard the Daedalus-7 ship - the fights, the pranks, relationships, the awkwardness of sharing facilities, and the frustrations of being trapped in space that can’t be solved with, ahem, a few minutes alone-time down in Supply Closet B. A particular personal goal was conveying all three sides of being in such a situation - the wonder, the terror, and the frustrating irony of being trapped in a tin can with the whole universe at your feet.

So far, people seem to be appreciating it! Hurrah! (Now we just need a TV Tropes page.)

The Geekiest Things I Own

Funko Pops are so boring. If you’re going to gather ludicrous geek-tat, go large. That’s what I say, if admittedly mostly because I have the space and nobody to stop me from purchasing, say, a fluffy Sam from Sam and Max, a Borg teddy-bear (Teddy Borg?) from the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas, maps of fictional worlds, and plushie versions of the patron spirits of criticism, Statler and Waldorf, to sit on my mantlepiece like modern day lares and penates.

But what are the most ridiculous that I own? Glad you asked.