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It’s been quite some time since any of us paid attention to upkeep on the WordPress back-end of No High Scores. To that end, I’ve finally enabled a series of updates to WordPress and the few plug-ins we do use. My relief that nothing exploded during this process was… notable. In doing all this, I also replaced an abandoned site notification email address with my own. That’s when the flood of registration emails started. Easily 50 of them in less than 24 hours. All spam as far as I can tell. This aggression, quite obviously, will not stand, man.

Since Captcha isn’t getting the job done, first and of very little relevance to you, I’ve enabled a new plug-in that should make fake registrations at least a smidge harder. This includes requiring new registrations to put in at least a first name as well as reply to a verification email. In the 24 hours or so since I enabled this, fake registration attempts dropped precipitously and none of them have jumped through the verification hoop to actually become registered. This is a huge improvement that, as noted, in no way affects you.

The next step, however, may affect you. For this and for ruminations on the past year, the year ahead, and what it all means for No High Scores, you’ll have to venture beyond the break. Come, walk this way…

There are over 7,500 registered subscribers to NHS. I’d love to believe that’s all fans, but let’s live in the real world for a minute and recognize that a notable number of these accounts are fake. I’d like to clean those out. Unfortunately, where some spam registrations are obvious, others aren’t so much. So, it’s very, very likely that a small number of you will get caught up in the dragnet. I apologize for this in advance.

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There are things you can do to ensure this doesn’t happen to you:

  • Go into your account and fill in your first and/or last name. I don’t think this was an available option before I enabled the registration plug-in, but it’s there now. No registered accounts currently have these fields, so if you fill them in, I’ll know you’re, like, a person and stuff.
  • Write a comment. You can put it in this post. You can put it in some other posts. I will do my very, very best to not delete any account that’s shown recent posting activity. (Supposedly there’s tracking for this, but the last couple comments have not incremented the poster’s count as it appears on the accounts page. I don’t know what the deal is with that.)
  • In the event that I accidentally delete your registration, it should be simple to re-register. If you run into problems, however, email me and we’ll get it sorted out. (Todd @ OurDomain dot com) The vast majority of spam accounts come from @hotmail and @outlook domains, so if you registered using one of those, you’re more likely to get inadvertently broomed.

I won’t start this process for a few days yet, so raise your hands and wildly wave them around if you’ve got any concerns.

On a related topic, let’s talk about the site. It’s an unfortunate fact that as our overall volume of contributions to this site have waned, so has our readership. This, while unfortunate given how well this project started, is not surprising in any way. It’s cause and effect. But, you, who are still here and reading this? You’re awesome! We’re so glad you stuck around and that the content that has been coming through has been worth your while. Hopefully we can keep you here going forward!

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To that end, let’s take stock of the past year or so:

  • Danielle moved on. What she brought is impossible to replace. Sad face. She’s writing wonderful stuff for Polygon, though, and that’s pretty damn cool. Happy face!
  • Brian moved on. He’s now in PR, which means he’s dead to us. Kidding. Gainful employment is a wonderful thing, even if it means you no longer write here.
  • Matt’s been pretty regular, but he also has a lot of paying gigs and there’s only so much of him to go around. He’ll still be around, though. Huzzah!
  • Brandon will get back to doing the weekly release post (I think), but is otherwise burned out on writing; a feeling with which I empathize because I’ve been there. You really can’t force this stuff out, especially so when it’s purely a labor of love, as this site is. His podcasting will continue unabated because he loves me in ways he’s not prepared to deal with.
  • Bill has way too many non-gaming things going on to write, though once his coaching season comes to a close I know that he hopes to get back to authoring the occasional post, not to mention getting back to quasi-regular podcasting.
  • Michael is here for you each and every week because, even bitter, angry, and jaded –disclaimer: he’s really not those things– he’s still the best of us.
  • As for me, although I wouldn’t call my future contributions reliable, I’ve been strangely re-engaged the past few months. I’m actually playing things again. More strangely, I want to write about these things more than I did a year ago at this time. For the first time in forever, I’m actually rather excited at the prospect of many of the games coming out this year. I don’t know if this feeling will last, but I like it, so let’s roll with it.
  • The podcast will continue, though the weekly format is not coming back. We do better shows when we’re not forcing them out every single week. I may even make a return to doing proper audio editing on them because I know how spotty the quality has been. No promises. Proper audio editing is a real time-sink.
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So the question, as the Buffy gang would sing it, is where do we go from here? Will it be status quo, with a post or three on the front page each week and a new podcast every other week? Or do we try doing more to re-invigorate things? The honest answer is that nobody the hell knows. The site, as you can infer from the above, is not going away. This, I assure you. Whether there’s a push to liven things up a bit beyond that by, perhaps, bringing in some fresh voices or trying some other new things we’ll just have to see. It’s on the table, at least.

In the meantime, what would you all like to see from us in 2014?

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at

23 thoughts to “Housekeeping”

  1. It’s true that I rarely visit the site anymore, but I read all the articles through the glory of RSS (I use Feedwrangler ever since Google Reader closed and I nearly slit my wrists). I enjoy the work and am glad that NoHS people are doing well.

    I don’t mind a slower pace. I like hearing from y’all when you have something to say. And twitter is great to hear about what you’re up to when you’re not writing.

    Also, I’m very glad to see that the podcast is still going. Been listening for years now and you’re part of my Mondays. I’ll be sad to see them slower, but I understand. Y’all put out something like 60 hours of listening per year FOR FREE. I can’t complain.

    (Also, Todd. You were born in A2, but live in Ohio now? I didn’t realize you were a traitor.)

  2. More updates are always welcome, but honestly, as an aging gamer who’s disillusioned with gaming coverage overall, I’m perfectly OK with sporadic updates with meat to them, as opposed to constant updates for the sake of updates like Joystiq. Between you guys and Quarter to Three, I’m getting plenty of meaty gaming articles to satisfy myself, without feeling like I’m dredging through paragraph after paragraph of publisher fluff to see an inevitable “4 out of 5” regardless of the game.

  3. What I want from NHS in 2014? Hmmmm. More Bill. I kind of miss him. But don’t tell him that, or he’ll be just insufferable. (if he refuses to come back, just say these three magic words: “Dark Souls Two”)

    Let’s see what else… perhaps inviting some of your stal- I mean, fans- to participate in the podcast eventually? That could end up being really interesting. Or a complete train wreck. Which can be amusing too, if you think about it. You’ll never know until you try…

    I’d also like to see some attempt at a “let’s play” of sorts. Not something too detailed, but just some general “view” of how you see/perceive a game as you play it. This can be fun to do (*cough* FTL Advanced Edition *cough*). Also, it can be lots of work. But hey, you asked.

    But above all, I want you to have fun with the blog and the podcast. If that means doing nothing of what I said, fine. Just don’t go away.

    Finally, despite commenting and apparently listening to the podcast and reading the site, I may be a spam bot instead of being human. Which may not be a bad thing after all.

  4. I’ve been intending to write a post about why I’ve not been doing any video games writing for some time. I have to admit, this year I completely crashed out on this industry- and this medium. Between Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and Bioshock Infinite- all games feted as the best the medium has to offer, yet all games that are immature exercises in straining for artistic credibility while wallowing in juvenile violence and pitiful “good…for a video game” writing- I kind of realized that I don’t want to have a whole lot to do with it.

    I’ve started writing and scrapped post after post.I realized that this kind of garbage along with the direction that the industry is heading (further and further away from the simple joy of great gameplay and into bullshit moneymaking schemes like multiplayer-focused titles, DLC, “freemium”, energy bars, and whatnot) disgusts me and I have nothing nice to say about it. The “video games can be art” discussion is stalled out, with rarities like Hotline: Miami peeking through all of the AAA fodder that offers virtually no gameplay other than heartless, routine violence without consequence or meaning.

    Funny enough, the “flop” Wii U console and the 3DS have kept me going all year, I traded in the 360 (which was strangely relieving). Say all you will about Nintendo repeating successful formulas, but playings like the new Zelda and Mario titles have taken me back to the things I loved most about video games to begin with. And all without the industry bullshit layered on top of the offerings available on Microsoft and Sony’s consoles.

    I’ve dabbled around in PC games more too, and that’s been rewarding.

    I did buy a PS4, but it’s got an inch-think layer of dust on it.

    So anyway, my disillusionment has caused me to refocus on video games and rediscover where my true video gaming values lie. I don’t play video games to experience some cheapjack science fiction story with limited interaction and silly sex scenes intended to make the game look “mature”. I play video games to PLAY. I don’t play video games to fiddle around pretending to be a criminal in a fake “open world” filled with minigames and dirty jokes. I play games to experience unique, fun, joyful, challenging, or thoughtful gameplay mechanics.

    But I guess the Wii U is “underpowered” and unable to deliver that.

    So anyway, I’ll probably write some video game stuff in the coming weeks to refresh the content here and get some discussion going. Most of it will probably be about Nintendo games.

    Or Just Dance, my 2 year old and 4 year old LOVE Just Dance.

    1. I could not be happier with my 3DS and Wii U. The tablet play function of the Wii U has proven invaluable in a household of children and a spouse who all want to watch things on the various TV’s in the house, and the 3DS lineup has kept me very occupied (been playing the hell out of the Bravely Default demo, eagerly awaiting it’s Feb 7 release date). I could not care less about either the One or the PS4. I will eventually own a PS4, but not until a game comes out for it that I feel the need to own. I will not ever own a One, but I never owned a 360, so there’s that. Just not a fan of MS business practices, and I speak with my wallet. Not that they miss me.

    2. Before I forget – have you played Wonderful 101? I’d like to read your thoughts on it. I’d also like to play it myself, but I still don’t have Wii U. And that could change when Bayonetta 2 comes out, since it’ll be 2 Platinum games then that I can’t play anywhere else.

      (And don’t look at me like that if you played it and wrote about it, since I haven’t been visiting quite regularly for couple of months. Now you can look at me like that.)

      1. Good to see you again!

        I have Wonderful 101, and it is in fact awesome…I didn’t write it up, I kept meaning to, and just didn’t.

        It is a classic Platinum title- balls out crazy, challenging, full of action, lots of traditional video game values/gameplay, tons of secrets and unlockables (not DLC). Definitely a 100% recommend if you like Platinum or games like God Hand, Bangai-O, those kinds of things.

        Or if you like Sentai/Tokusatsu stuff…

        I haven’t finished it, I definitely need to get back into it…the game feels like total mayhem at first, but once you dig into it, the depth becomes really rewarding.

    3. I could not agree more with your sentiment. I’ve found myself getting into speed-running recently, after catching up on Awesome Games Done Quick 2014 (for a great cause too). Now I’m going back and playing older games I haven’t played in a long time, and it’s reminding me why I got into games in the first place. There is definitely a sense of “fun” that just doesn’t seem to exist in most modern AAA games.

      Ditto on the Nintendo remarks. Watching the blindfolded Punch-Out and Super Punch-Out runs from AGDQ made me want to go back to the 2009 Wii game and try my damndest to finish Title Defence mode. I forgot how awesome that game is.

      I haven’t picked up a Wii U yet, but a new Zelda game will most likely change that eventually. My 3DS on the other hand is getting played the hell out of. When I’m not watching awesome speedrun videos that put me to shame, that is.

    4. Boy am I craving some WiiU. Seeing that Wind Waker HD remake and never having finished playing it, I just drooled. And the rave reviews over Super Mario 3D World as well as the fact that I could play Super Mario Galaxy 1+2 and Zelda on it would be a great reason to get a WiiU. I also read that Rayman Legends is incredible with the gamepad and another person. If only I had the time

  5. I really wish you guys the best no matter what you decide. I started listening to the podcast somewhere in the mid-30s and remember the days of Danielle, special guests, and lots of Bill rage. I completely understand where the burnout comes from as I made my passion into my career for 25 years and went through quite a few periods of burnout. I think making this place a more hobby focused site with fewer updates is a good way to go. I’m a much larger fan of the podcast than of the website, and I’m completely a-ok with the every-two-weeks schedule for the podcast. Do what you’ve got to do, but always remember ‘nothing lasts forever.’

  6. I love the substance of the various posts — they’re not as regular as I might like, but the quality is generally there. I have to say that the podcast going semi-regular is what hurts the most. I do look forward to my (previously weekly) updates on the world of gaming, along with TV I don’t have time to watch and the like.

    (registered just to make this comment, and donated just as a small sign of my appreciation for your work).

  7. I know I’ll keep reading. And if you’re looking for fresh faces, I’ll keep submitting my works because I love writing.

    Just the same, we’ll all keep supporting this venture. It’s a refreshing site to visit because everyone who posts here is a very level-headed person who isn’t being fueled by weird reasons like we see on bigger sites. I just don’t care for stuff like Joystiq and Kotaku and Polygon. I’d rather read a real opinion than someone’s regurgitated popular opinion.

  8. I’m happy with the volume we get. Not every site has to be ‘all news’ and I love the think pieces.

    My life is a total mess and I’m digging out with effort while eschewing next gen and tucking into my WiiU and 3DS backlog.

    I really love Nintendo stuff, goddamn.

    My biggest feature request is that Brandon keep up the weekly release. I know I use it to barf out what is currently in my play pile, but it’s also super handy for me to remember when something awesome is on the way.

    1. I’ll get back to it. Was waiting for more substantial releases but I’ve also had a hard time coming back from break. I’ll get back to it soon, I promise.

  9. As others said – it’s all good as long as you don’t go away. I don’t mind slower pace and less articles, just keep on writing when you feel like it. And I totally understand burnout when it comes to stuff like writing and hosting podcasts (well, in my case, radio shows) when you do it all for zero profit and out of love and good will.

    And gotta say – looking forward to more Barnes video game articles, and Brandon’s return! Bill would also be very welcome, and I expect him to return at least with some impressions of Dark Souls II 😀

  10. I’ve been all but off-grid the past few days, so consider this my big thank you post for everyone’s comments in this thread. We really appreciate it! Whether or not we do add a voice or two the site in the future or expand in some other way is something the jury is very out on, but even if we do, rest assured the goal will be just a little bit more of what we’re already doing — writing about the stuff in gaming that interests us. There is zero chance of this becoming a newsy style site with 3-dozen quick-hit posts you couldn’t care less about for every one that actually has something to say about games. This is my pledge to all of you. 😉

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