The Tired Old Hack Developer Open Invitational

Me, earlier today
Me, earlier today

I’m a big fan of professional wrestling. Look, just shush.

At the moment John Cena is the United States Champion. Rather than keep him going in a feud with another wrestler, the WWE have decided it would be best for him to fight a bunch of different wrestlers: lower-to-mid card ones who may not necessarily get the chance to feature in a title match during a pay-per-view.

It’s called the John Cena US Title Open Invitational, and I reckon it’s a great idea because it gives everyone a fair chance to shine.

So, I’m going to rip off the idea.

The last 24 hours have been pretty interesting. My last article got a lot more attention than I expected and as a result I’ve seen a slew of new Twitter followers and subscribers to the site. I’m massively appreciative of this, and I hope I don’t let you down with my future articles.

Incidentally, apologies to the Ninjabread Man developer who contacted me on Twitter and felt bad about me having to play the game
Incidentally, apologies to the Ninjabread Man developer who contacted me on Twitter and felt bad about me having to play it

A number of my Twitter followers are game developers. Some are staff members working on larger projects for big developers, some are PRs trying to get their games noticed, some are sole one-person teams working on indie games for iOS or Android.

To continue my wrestling analogy, the vast majority of these games are likely to become the Adam Rose of the industry: full of promise and enthusiasm but ultimately destined to never have the big main event spotlight shone on them.

I’ll admit I’m pulling a number out from between my pert buttocks here but I’d estimate around 99% of games released are never featured on ‘big’ websites because they aren’t considered important enough to allocate staff to cover them: staff that could be used to not play Rock Band 4 instead.

So I’m going to try my best to do my bit and make sure these games at least get some sort of coverage.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Tired Old Hack Developer Open Invitational.

Here’s the deal. If you are working on a game, no matter how big or small, I am offering you coverage of it. I will play your game and I will give my honest opinion of it in the form of a review out of five.

Rating system subject to change (pending lawsuit from WWE)
Rating system subject to change (pending lawsuit from WWE)

To be absolutely clear: I am not promising positive coverage. I am only promising coverage. I may hate your game, and if you submit it for the Open Invitational I will be obliged to say so. I know I’ve said before that Tired Old Hack will focus on positive coverage of games but I mean that in the ’90s magazine sense: enthusiastic writing but, when it comes to reviews, still calling it like I see it.

I don’t care if your game is a Triple-A title expected to sell many millions of copies, or a digital-only effort you’ve dabbled with and are making available for free through your website: if you have enough confidence in its quality that you think it’ll pass the Open Invitational challenge, I want to play it.

Hell, if you want to get into the spirit of the wrestling thing, feel free to cut a wrestling-style promo (interview) in video or text form and send it to me too: I’ll add it at the top of my article so you can get the first word in and set the tone for your game before I get into the review. This is only optional, of course: if you want the game to do the talking that’s fine.

This is not a one-off thing. I’m hoping it will take off and become popular enough that I can continue the Open Invitational for as long as Tired Old Hack continues to run.

Developers know that when it comes to getting their game out there and in the public eye, coverage can be massively important. To paraphrase Mr Cena, then: “YOU WANT SOME [COVERAGE], COME GET SOME”.

Right then: at this point, if you’re a reader and don’t plan on submitting a game, this is where the article ends. You can read on if you want but it’s all just directed at developers: how they can send me their game and other bits and pieces they should bear in mind. Developers, keep reading.

How to submit (your game I mean, I’m not still talking about wrestling)

Game & Watch not supported, sorry
Game & Watch not supported, sorry

I am able to accept game submissions on the following formats:

  • PC (Steam or otherwise)
  • iOS
  • Android (currently running 5.0.2)
  • Xbox One (all regions)
  • PlayStation 4 (EU and US code)
  • Wii U (EU code)
  • 3DS (EU code)
  • Xbox 360 (EU code)
  • PlayStation 3 (EU code)
  • PS Vita (EU code)

To submit your game, drop me an email at chrisscullion1888 [at] gmail [dot] com – preferably with the subject heading ‘Open Invitational’ – along with either a link to get the game (if it’s free) or a download code. Please don’t send me a link to a digital store and ask me to buy the game: I appreciate that sounds massively entitled but this is a review situation.

Feel free to add anything else in the email you think I’ll find useful: press releases, fact sheets, enthusiastic ravings about what made you want to make the game, anything at all. It won’t influence the review but I’m always interested in your story.

Also, I was serious about the ‘cutting a promo’ bit. If you want to play along with the wrestling-type theme, feel free to film a short video promo (interview) or write one out and send it along with your email. I’ll then include it at the top of the article. Will make things a little more fun and will let you put across your pitch to the reader before I continue with my review. Of course, this is entirely optional and should you rather I just reviewed the game, that’s completely fine.

A final few things to bear in mind though:

  • To clarify once again so there’s no misunderstanding, I am NOT guaranteeing a positive review of your game. I don’t do that sort of thing. If you send me your game and I think it’s a pile of shit, I’ll be saying it’s a pile of shit. Please don’t end up having a go at me or calling me a prick on social media if you send me your game and I end up saying I don’t like it.
  • That said, I am not a snob. I enjoy basic iOS stuff like Crossy Road and (to continue the theme) WWE Supercard as much as I enjoy big-budget new-gen console games. Your game will not be any less respected or treated with any less attention because it is a mobile or indie game. A game is a game is a game. I am also not anti-freemium or anything like that, as long as the game remains fun and fair to the player.
  • Please ensure your game is in a complete enough state that you are happy for me to review it and give it a score at the end. The intention of the Open Invitational articles is not to hype up games that are still in development, it’s to review games that the reader should be able to buy (or buy soon) after reading. Obviously I am happy to review Steam Early Access games but you need to be happy for me to review them based on their current state.
  • If you can provide me with assets – screenshots, artwork, a link to the game’s YouTube trailer – that would be a great help. I will capture my own screens and videos where possible (I obviously can’t on 3DS etc) but anything you can do to help me make your game look prettier on my page will be beneficial to both of us.
  • You MUST tell me in the email if you have any embargoes or any other restrictions you want me to follow with regards to coverage. Unless you tell me otherwise I’ll be taking it as read that I’m free to write about the game, capture my own screenshots and capture my own video and post it all immediately with no embargo.
  • Ideally your game will be coming out soon, or have been recently released (within the last three months, six at a push). With respect, I can’t be digging back to iPhone puzzle games from 2009 because if they haven’t become ‘big’ since then I don’t think I’m going to be able to help much.
  • If I don’t ‘get’ your game – in other words, if it’s a massive global strategy game like the sort of thing Paradox Interactive makes, the likes of which I frankly can’t make head nor tail of – then I’ll email you back and let you know I won’t be covering it. It isn’t beneficial to either of us if I post an article badmouthing it because I was too dumb to understand it. This is the only situation in which I will refuse to cover a game.
  • Please bear in mind I am only one person, doing this in my free time. If I suddenly get a deluge of 50 developers chucking games at me (as massively unlikely as this may be), please understand that it may take me a while to get to your game. But I will get to it.
  • Finally, you have my word that I will treat your game with the respect it deserves regardless of budget or format. I don’t care if it’s a Tiger Electronics LCD game: if (and only if) I have fun playing it, I’ll be happy to give it a good word or two on here.


  1. Think this is a great idea, Chris. Although I’m mostly just posting because I’m catching up with TOH and wanted to show my appreciation for the comment in general, and didn’t want my comment to get swept up in the faecesstorm in a teacup underneath the previous article. 🙂

  2. Do you happen to enjoy mechanics-based puzzle games (like Snakebird, or Tetrobot)? I’m thinking of sending you my project, but I don’t want to send you something that’s not your cup of tea.

    1. To be honest Asher, I’ve got a really wide range of tastes. It’s only really MMOs and epic strategy games that I struggle with: I tend to enjoy every other genre and can identify what I think are good and bad games. Long story short, yup, I have no problem with mechanics-based puzzle games.

      Basically, I won’t punish a game because it’s a genre I don’t like. I can still appreciate what makes, say, a good platformer even if I don’t like platformers (incidentally, I love platformers).

  3. Hellow, I would like to know if you are Dragon Ball Z fan? I am wanting to send to you game based on my hit manga and animation episodes Dragon Ball Z. This game is named Dragon Ball XenoVerse, it has many Super Sai-ya-jin. They are powerful fightings and cool

    Please reply with interest level of over or under 9000. Thanks you Mr. Skellington.

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