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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

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We've had some wonderful people on the podcast this year

A bumper recap special.

A bright pink podcast microphone with a yellow circular background and funky shapes dotted around. It's a party podcast picture if ever I saw one.
Image credit: Adobe Stock

Instead of listening to relatives this festive season, why not listen to me talk to some brilliant people from the world of games? Just pop a woolly hat on and they won't even see the earbuds. I know: you're welcome.

I've had a great time recording One-to-one this year. If you don't know, it's an in-depth interview podcast where I spend about an hour learning about the lives and careers of some well known people. The whole point is to take time to get to know people.

One of the conversations that stands out from this year was talking to Ken and Roberta Williams, the creators of the original video game powerhouse Sierra Online. It stuck out because these two, they don't really talk to the gaming press - in fact, they've been completely absent from games for decades.

But there, all of a sudden, they were, on their boat no less, Roberta Williams clanging around in the background with dog bowls feeding their pets. It was so remarkably unremarkable, the scene, like talking to two family friends, and the two of them were candid and friendly - nothing at all like their heady legend suggested they might be.

What really struck me was talking to Roberta about the unprecedented work she did with King's Quest. You have to remember that so much of what they did back then was achieved without a template - the tech, the design, the method. They dreamt it all up.

It was also groundbreaking for Roberta to do it, to lead game development, as a woman. She also put a female protagonist in a game for what I believe was the first time ever, and she faced backlash because of it. But, determinedly, she pushed through. It's an inspiring tale.

Also known as: the Bertie has his shirt half-undone special. Look, it was one of those very warm days.

I was also very personally excited this year to talk to Dragon Age creator David Gaider, because it's one of my favourite series of games. And when I call him the "creator", I do mean it literally: he was the person BioWare tasked with coming up with the whole idea, in terms of world and fiction and game. Imagine that - imagine being given a historic atlas, as he was, and then told to go away and come up with an original role-playing game.

What really surprised me about Gaider's recollection of the story, though, was his sense of regret, almost, about where he didn't take the world and what he didn't do with it. He's not ashamed of it or anything like that, but I get the sense that 20 years later, he'd be far more ambitious with the inspirations of the world, and push it far wider than European history - an area of history we're saturated by.

David Gaider is now making a an RPG musical called Stray Gods, which is a combination I've never played before.

Then, of course, there was the lovely, inimitable Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt in The Witcher games. Well, I say "inimitable" but something that still makes me giggle is the memory of us doing a Geralt voiceover challenge, to find out who said Geralt's lines best, me or him. It was closer than you think!

Then, there's Pentiment director Josh Sawyer. I was quite taken by him. I flatter myself believing it's because we are kindred spirits, but there's something in how endlessly curious he is, and talkative, and how unorthodox his tale of tattoos and misadventures, and singing and arts and cycling accidents that I really relate to. I did tell you I flatter myself.

It's a similar story for Citizen Sleeper creator Gariath Damian Martin, who I had no idea once trained as a puppeteer or worked in the theatre. It seems so far away from the games they make now. Or is it? It's always fascinating with predominantly solo - or small-team games - to see which facets of a person's life or personality have ended up in their game.

I've learnt some things this year, too. I learnt what life is like from a game publisher's point of view; I learnt about how gaming cookbooks are made; I even learnt an alarming amount about how realistic horses are in games.

I also heard the history of Fighting Fantasy from the people who wrote it. I heard about the making of the original Grand Theft Auto - and legendary gaming magazine Zzap!64 - from a person instrumental in making it. And I laughed and laughed at adventure game double-act Dan Marshall and Ben Ward, who are every bit as funny as their games suggest.

It wasn't all about looking outward, though. Something I always wanted One-to-one to do was let me - and you - get to know the people I work with better. People like Aoife Wilson and Ian Higton, who are well known over on YouTube, and people like Chris Tapsell and Lottie Lynn, who are, respectively, the reviews editor and guides editor of Eurogamer. They all have interesting stories of their own.

These are most, but not all, of the conversations I've had in 2022. Pop them in your earbuds if you've got a walk or a car journey coming up.

You can find the full One-to-One archive elsewhere on Eurogamer, and you can find all of the episodes wherever you get your podcasts, in the Eurogamer Podcasts channel. If you have listened, or you do listen, thank you, I really appreciate it. And if you liked it, tell your relatives too!

Here are some handy Eurogamer Podcast links:

That's it, Merry Christmas, and I'll see you in 2022 with more.