The Last Word
Daniel Wilks remembers the days when we did the things
first game I ever reviewed for money was Myth: The Fallen Lords. David Hollingworth (who is about to become the editor of PCPP), who was working on PC Authority at the time (the magazine that would go on to become PCPP’s sister publication, PC & Tech Authority) was the person who commissioned me. Small world, huh? I was an employment agent at the time because, after a failed stint as a playwright in residence for a theatre company, I didn’t think that I would be able to make a living writing, at least not outside of advertising or copywriting, two career paths most of my family followed. Two years later I was the tech editor for this magazine, and for nearly two decades I have made my living with words, either in print or writing scripts for TV during one of my brief stints away from Nextmedia. It’s been a hell of a ride.
I started my career in one of the greatest years for gaming ever. 2000 saw the release of Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Deus Ex, No One Lives Forever, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Sacrifice, Counter-Strike, Diablo II, Thief II: The Metal Age, Homeworld: Cataclysm, The Longest Journey, The Sims, Shogun: Total War, Escape from Monkey Island, and more. As the new kid on the block I didn’t get to review any of the good shit. That changed in 2001. I can’t remember everything I reviewed that year, but Wizardry 8 certainly stands out, as do Battle Realms, Gothic and Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magic Obscura. 2001 also saw me cutting a hole in the back of my case so I could fit a new (well, relatively new) video card. Released in 2000, the 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 was a surfboard of a card, but at the time it was extremely powerful. Powerful enough that it trumped the first generation or two of GeForce cards released around the same time. As powerful as it was it wasn’t compatible with all engines, but it served me well for a while, and taught me a lot about dealing with problematic hardware.
After the Voodoo 5, there was a brief flirtation with Matrox (I think it was either the Parhelia or Millennium P750), then maybe an nForce (Nvidia mobos with a built- in GeForce 4 GPU), a few years with ATI (bought by AMD in 2006) when the Radeon Cards left the equivalent GeForce cards in the dust, and then an about face to Nvidia when ATI fell by the wayside. Similarly I’ve divided my time pretty evenly between Intel and AMD CPUs, spending an inordinate amount of time using a pencil to overclock AMD chips, and equally as much time overclocking Intel CPUs through the bios. It’s been quite the ride.
Now that I’m leaving, for what I think will be the final time (unlike the multiple other times I’ve left the employ of Nextmedia) I don’t want to be maudlin or sad. I’d rather look back upon my years with the company and the two magazines I’ve written for and helmed, PC PowerPlay and Hyper, with a mixture of joy and pride. I’ve made mistakes, sure, but I’ve had some great successes. I’ve had the pleasure of commissioning and publishing some truly fantastic work ranging from joke features through to in-depth investigative journalism. I’ve worked with a cavalcade of fantastic people, many of whom have gone on to have interesting careers of their own. I’ve had a number of interns that I have mentored who have gone on to become great journalists, streamers, media relations and more. I’ve met and talked to some incredible people, I’ve been the good guy, and I’ve been the villain (especially in the minds of a few PR people). I’ve had a blast.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years working on gaming mags, is that things change, often very quickly. Technology evolves, as does the coverage of technology in media. And now it’s my turn do evolve and go off in a new direction. For nearly two decades I’ve made my living writing about games and the technology used to play games. While I still will be dabbling with games writing for the foreseeable future, I think it’s time to try something a little different. I don’t want to give much away about my future plans in case I fail dismally, so I can pretend it never happened and you’ll be none the wiser, so instead I’ll be a little cryptic and suggestive. For nearly half my life I’ve made my living with my hands. Now I’m going to try it with my mouth.
Later kids – it’s been a grand adventure.
Myth: Fallen Lords kickstarted a writing career
The card too big for Dan’s case