Originally launched as a way for me to deal with the closure of CVG and the apparent end of my games journalism career, Tired Old Hack has developed into a wee site I’ve become proud of, a games publication I can truly call my own.
It isn’t just mine, though. Tired Old Hack belongs to you lovely readers as much as me: I write these articles for you and am more than willing to get feedback on what you think is and isn’t working.
I’ve always tried to be as transparent as possible when working on Tired Old Hack, which you’ll know if you follow my Twitter feed. So that’s why I want to share with you my plans for the next stage of the site.
Starting as early as tomorrow, I want to start putting a lot more emphasis on game reviews on Tired Old Hack. Retro content and game reviews are what I do best, so that’s what you’re going to be seeing more of.
I’ve already thrown up a couple of reviews on Tired Old Hack, covering the likes of Forza Motorsport 6, Lego Dimensions and Her Story. As you can tell if you look at them, there’s no real structure in place there: Forza has a video review at the top while the others don’t, Her Story has a rating out of five while the others don’t, and so on.
That’s because, to be honest, I was just pissing around with different ideas. And I still haven’t really decided on a solid review template. I even tweeted this poll yesterday:
What rating system should I use for reviews on Tired Old Hack?
— Chris Scullion (@scully1888) March 13, 2016
Even that didn’t help: even though the most popular choice was to have no score in my reviews, that still leaves around 70% who want some sort of rating – they just can’t agree what form it should take.
Maybe sometimes I’ll score a game then. Maybe I won’t. It’ll depend on how I feel. Usually I won’t, because I’d rather people read my words rather than arguing over why I gave Night Trap a 10 instead of a mere 9.
Essentially, as an absolute guarantee, you can expect the following from my reviews:
Transparency on how code was sourced
One of the reasons I haven’t done many reviews of recent games on Tired Old Hack is because the site started from nothing. Publishers only have a limited number of review codes to send to the press so the chances of – let’s face it – a wee shitmuncher blog like mine getting priority was fairly low.
However, I’m now confident enough in the regular traffic the site gets that I’m ready to start requesting review code. This is the ‘Level 2’ I’m talking about in the title – this is the first real step in trying to evolve Tired Old Hack and turn it into a legit site.
For every game I’ll review, I’ll make it clear in no uncertain terms whether I bought it or whether I received it as review code. It will make no difference whatsoever to how positive my review is, but it’ll stop some people wondering.
Reviews that aren’t necessarily always timely
I appreciate that reviews are ‘hottest’ when a game hasn’t been released yet. But while my plan is indeed for Tired Old Hack to feature some pre-release reviews going forward, they will by no means be the be-all and end-all.
A good game doesn’t suddenly become dogshit a month after it came out. Or a year. Or more. I’m currently playing some games that aren’t out yet and plan to review them on the site, but I also plan on reviewing Ryse, an Xbox One launch game.
Essentially, my gauge for success on Tired Old Hack is not how many hits a review gets, or what my average traffic is. It’s whether I’m happy with the stuff I write, and whether the people who read it – whether it’s 10 or 10,000 – are happy with it too.
Reviews of mostly non-Triple A games
If you want a review of The Division or Hitman, you don’t need to go too far: the internet’s drowning in the bastards.
If you want a review of Don’t Die, Mr Robot on PS4 and Vita then you’re going to have a slightly trickier job of it. There are of course some reviews out there, but the chances of small games like this getting coverage on a large, ‘popular’ website are very slim.
It’s understandable – every website has limited staff, so they have to give priority to the games that are likely to sell most and therefore increase the site’s traffic. There’ll be the odd indie title chucked in there to mix things about a bit, but by and large it’s the blockbusters that rule the roost.
Like I said before though, I don’t care about my site’s traffic. So while on rare occasions I’ll cover a big-budget game, most of the time I’ll be looking at either stuff you may not have heard of, or stuff that will usually be buried way down at the bottom of other sites. Here they’ll be given top billing.
So if you’re an indie developer then chuck me an email (my details are to the right) and I promise to give your game a play and – time permitting – review it.
As for that Don’t Die, Mr Robot review? It’ll be the first one I write after this article – expect it tomorrow.
I’ve been getting a little more confident in my video-making abilities, as you’ll know if you watched my epic 15-minute Night Trap review.
I do plan on making more video reviews and video features, but since I’m still learning the tricks of the trade and since videos take me an age to put together, expect most of them to be shorter efforts, like the Jet Car Stunts one I recently did that about four people watched.
I’ve put together a daft grabbing set-up which involves me dragging two massive HDMI cables from my home office to my living room so I can capture while I play: once I get into the habit of doing this all the time you can expect a lot of four or five-minute video reviews to accompany my written ones. Sometimes they’ll be posted at the same time as the written ones, sometimes they’ll come later.
Either way, because I don’t have all the time in the world I can’t commit to releasing a video review for every written one. If you like them though, please do subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already: if my subscriber number somehow manages to grow to some sort of ridiculous level then obviously I’ll put more priority on making videos.
I’ve already written a massive article about list features and for the most part my views on them remain the same: I think they’re brilliant and hugely readable, but only when they’re either entertaining or educational.
My promises for my list features on Tired Old Hack remain the same as ever:
• They’ll either be comprehensive or at least informational to some degree (no ’30 Best Trees in Video Games’ bullshit)
• They won’t just be random stuff you can easily find on Wikipedia, like ‘The 10 Best Selling Mario Games’
• They will, where possible, be humorous (case in point: my recent Sonic article, which was slightly batshit)
Speaking of list features…
The 30 Best
I very much plan on continuing my 30 Best series of list features, each featuring my personal 30 (well, 45) favourite games on each system.
These are pretty time-consuming articles because they’re always massive – the Wii one was 7500 words long – but I love doing them and I want to keep going until I eventually cover every system.
After that? Who knows – if you’re a book agent get in touch and maybe we can talk about getting the whole series published or something.
Finally, and most importantly…
The one-click promise
This is something I’ve been doing since day one but I want to make a bigger deal of it now, especially since so many other sites are going in the completely opposite direction. Let me put it in massive letters and colour it a hideous magenta hue so it can essentially be cast in stone:
After you click on an article on Tired Old Hack, you will always be able to read the entire article – no matter how long it is – without ever having to click again.
While I’m a massive fan of list articles and you can expect a load more in the future, you will never find a single clickbait slideshow article on this site for the entire duration of its existence.
Now, let me add a small caveat: there will be some articles, like my Lego Dimensions level pack reviews, where I feature little image galleries. Obviously, if you want to see those (or any other images on the site) bigger you’ll need to click them. And if I have a video review, then obviously you’ll have to click to start the video.
The promise, to be specific, is based on written content. Any time I write an article, even a 7500-word list article that could be easily split into a 30-page slideshow, you will always be able to read from the start of it to the end on a single page, without ever having to click through to a Page 2.
How you can help
So that’s just a wee update on Tired Old Hack. Long story short, tomorrow marks the beginning of phase 2 of the site. As well as the introduction of regular game reviews, expect far more frequent updates: for now, I’m aiming for an article every two days (because bear in mind I have a ‘normal’ 9-to-5 job now).
Where do you come into this? Well, for the most part I’d love you to just keep doing what you’ve been doing – reading my articles. That’s the best possible way you can help me out, because as long as I know at least people are continuing to read my articles I’ll be delighted.
That said, Tired Old Hack is still very much a small site, a mere piss in the ocean of video game journalism. In order for it to grow, anything you can do to help would be massively appreciated.
If I write an article you like, please spread the word. Tweet it to your followers. Post it on Facebook for your friends to check out. Put it on Reddit or your Tumblr. Link to it in any forums you’re a part of, and any time it’s relevant mention it in comments sections of other websites (mwa ha ha).
The more the site grows (and I’m so humbled and proud of how quickly its traffic has grown already, thanks mainly to you lot) the more it’ll continue to evolve.
The ultimate dream – and it’s one that feels ridiculously far away at this point – is for Tired Old Hack to one day become so popular that I can sustain myself with it and once again make video game journalism my full-time job.
We’re only on Level 2 just now. There will be plenty more levels to come before we reach that point (if we ever do). Level 3 will be upgrading to a custom-built website (spoilers: this is just a cleverly disguised WordPress template), so I can control the ads and make sure they aren’t too intrusive, while still – transparency, mind – making me some money on the side that I can put back into growing the site.
That’s a long way away, though. For now, I hope you’ll enjoy Level 2, starting tomorrow with my review of Don’t Die, Mr Robot on PS4 and Vita. This next step isn’t going to be a massive revolution by any means, but hopefully you’ll start to notice far more frequent articles going forward as I kick it up a notch and start the very long process of slowly transforming Tired Old Hack from a wee blog into a legit gaming site.
A massive thanks for continuing to read the site, guys and gals. Onwards!