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Not A Goodbye, But A Reboot

January 19th, 2011 by Troy Goodfellow · 70 Comments · Industry, Me, Media

I recently tweeted that my day was going so well that it reminded me why I love to write. On my Formspring, someone asked me why, so I went into how for someone like me writing is as close to magic as anything in my life. When I write and the words are flowing and, even better, when a friend or collaborator is having a great writing day at the same time, the universe seems to make sense.

To paraphrase William Finn, sex is good, but I’d rather be writing.

But even when things are going well (and this past year has been a series of professional highs from new gigs to new friends to new partnerships) there is the awareness that this is a job that is best wasted on the young. I am at a stage in my life where I should establish more financial security and I really don’t write fast enough to churn out the features that I love to write or describe the games that take days to properly understand. I love writing about games; it will take at least another half dozen years to compete financially with my new opportunity.

Three weeks ago, almost on a whim and poked by some friends, I applied for a job in video game public relations with Evolve PR – a company that works with CD Projekt, Paradox Studios, Good Old Games, and a number of other places. A couple of weeks ago, I was offered the job – something that came as a complete surprise to me.

It was not an easy decision.

But, after consulting with my brain trust (you know who you are, and I appreciate the wise counsel), I accepted the position. As of this post, I am no longer a freelance video game writer. I am an industry shill. To my credit, I will be working with companies whose products I respect even when I pan them, and a PR company that has never lied to me.

This is not something I ever imagined myself doing, and some of my editors were shocked to hear it. I was never “that guy” looking for a way to get in good with devs or producers or planning an escape to the industry. But new skills, new challenges, new colleagues, more money. I’m not a halfwit.

This does mean a dramatic change in my life, my audience, and the things I love best. In my career to this point, the inanimate things I love best are my blog and the podcast.

Conflict of interest is a real thing. When I work in PR, I can’t spend my words lambasting a recently released game that competes with one that my company represents. When I write about a game that my company represents, I won’t lie, but I also can’t betray my clients by saying things against their interest. (Public relations is a little like practicing law, I imagine.)

Over the next few months, my last bits of writing will trickle out through Gameshark and PCGamer. These are things I undertook before applying for, accepting and assuming the new job. I hate to leave both jobs. Gameshark is betrayed by its hideous layout; I have never worked with a nicer group of people, many of whom should know by now how underpaid they are for keeping that site alive – the core writers there do it because they get along so well and they produce amazing content regularly. PCGamer welcomed me with open arms and gave me a chance to be in print again; the editors do real editing, sending back suggestions, questioning meanings, looking for ways to make the most out of a spartan word count. I loved working with the team there more than I could have expected.

Then we have 1up, Gamespy, The Escapist, and any other place that has seen fit to accept my byline in the last year.

Will the editors I work with find someone to fill my shoes? Absolutely. None of us are indispensable. Even strategy gaming has a bunch of people lining up to write about it.

I don’t want it to sound like I took this better paying job out of altruism, but the dirty secret of games writing is that the longer veterans like me stick around, the harder it is for other younger skilled voices to be heard and paid for the privilege. I am pretty good at what I do, and on my “on” days, I think I kick ass. But I am not so uniquely skilled that other people can’t do it as well or even better if they get the chance.

I will miss the reviews and press events and all that fun, but I am nearing 40. It’s time to get a grown up job and pass the work on to young men and women who can fill the hobbit sized gap I leave behind me. I love helping other writers make contacts and connections, and have spent a lot of the last couple of years pushing people to come to events, helping them meet devs, giving them PR contacts, and editing their articles. Some people might think it’s silly to train potential replacements; I see it as professionalism to help someone good become better.

Sometimes the best way to help people, though, is to step aside and let them have a crack at the job, especially since I am not hurting myself financially to do it.

Which brings me to my truest loves.

First, the podcast. I can’t host it any more, obviously. Any time that the show talks about or critiques a recent release, my presence will be a constant reminder that I have corporate interests to promote. Yes, we have industry guests from time to time, but usually to talk about either their work specifically or something very distant from their immediate interests. As a host, I organize the lion’s share of the shows, and I love the show and the audience too much to have any concerns about its legitimacy being in the air.

We often get things wrong on the show, but we are always honest. I never want that to change. I always held that the day the audience starts doubting the honesty of Three Moves Ahead is the day we shut it down.

This does not mean that I am going away forever. I hope that the new host, Rob Zacny, will have me to talk things far from my job. After all, nothing I say about M.U.L.E. can possibly be construed as a conflict. But I can’t do the host things like organize the show – plan topics, get guests, promote my company’s games. I will still be a presence and if I think I can contribute to the topic Rob chooses, I’m there. I am still much too close to Three Moves Ahead to let it go easily, especially if it starts moving in a weird direction. But I doubt that will happen.

Why does Rob get to be host? Because I have always liked his writing, he loves the show as much as I do, and he has great ideas for topics. (Except the holiday gaming show.) I will still host the main page for the show on the blog for now, and when Rob and his crew want to move that somewhere, I’ll help them with that.

And what happens to Flash of Steel? Well, the Amazon Ads are coming down. The donate button, too, and I will make sure that a large chunk of the money you all have donated finds its way to the show people. There will be less discussion of current games here, but let’s be honest – this last year hasn’t seen a hell of a lot of that anyway. I will still write about strategy games and how they interact with history and politics. Any current game riffs will be framed as “Here is what I am doing in it” so more AARs and experiential stuff.

The essay/feature series will continue. I may take the time to work in more non-strategy stuff, too. I’ve had some column ideas that never went anywhere that can’t be done now, so either I give those ideas to other people or I just write them up here. It’s probably a bit of both, depending on the idea.

(To be honest, I briefly considered ditching the blog, too. A saner voice told me that I would be an idiot to do that.)

Expect some gradual changes to the blog as I move into training, possibly physically relocate and learn what the limits of my editorial voice will be in this spot. It is an exciting time to be doing exciting things. I understand that some people – even colleagues I love – may feel a little abandoned, but I’m still here; I’m only going to be more creative about the limits on what I write.

I will answer your questions in the comments or on my Formspring – once I get back from New York.


70 Comments so far ↓

  • Todd

    Sorry to see you go Troy. Best wishes go to you and yours for a bright future and new opportunities.

  • Brinstar

    Congratulations, Troy! Sounds like exciting times (and a steady paycheck) will soon arrive. Good luck on the new position! :)

  • steve

    Industry shill.

  • Damian Glenny

    Ditto. A bit of a shock, really, but the podcast is in good hands. Best of luck with the PR folk.

  • Damian Glenny

    Er… joking aside; the ‘ditto’ was for Todd, not for Steve.

  • Alan Au

    Good luck!

  • Rod Humble

    Grats Troy and good luck bro!

  • frags

    Good luck! I’m glad you will continue writing for this blog. Hate to see a great strategy gaming blog go. And TMA is in good hands. Unless of course Rob says Shogun 2 is the best strategy game of 2011 on the podcast :P Seriously though, all the best.

  • Michael A.

    Congratulations, Troy. Best of luck with the new job.

  • spelk

    Troy, what can I say?

    All the best for the future, you’ve only formalised what TMA was already doing – because the enthusiastic discussions on the show always had me reaching for my cheque book to purchase another game revealed.

    Flash of Steel, Three Moves Ahead and your musings here and elsewhere have all contributed to the “cream of the crop” of Strategy gaming discussion over the past year or two. May their essence continue with Rob at the helm. You will be sorely missed in that role.
    I like the idea of you being able to explore more AAR’s and “experimental” stuff though and will look forward to this new evolutionary state.

    Thanks for all you’ve given us.

    Its been emotional.

  • Sam11235

    I first saw your podcast referred to on Something Awful and decided to check it out about 18 months ago. I have been an avid listener of 3MA ever since, coffee references and all. You guys always have interesting things to say about strategy games and I look forward to hearing more in the future.

    Now you are a guest Troy, I look forward to hearing your catchphrase at the start of each show!

  • Quinten

    I know I rarely comment anymore, but I have been busy with the ever dreaded “Life.” I will miss you as host of TMA. I am not a Rob Zacny fan, but he loves the podcast as much as anyone. I hope he still brings Bruce on.

    I am glad you are getting a new job with better (or at least steadier) pay. The features on your site have been my favorite content, and I’m glad you’re continuing with that. Hope you have the best of luck with everything.

    (And I don’t necessarily dislike or hate Rob: he likes Close Combat, so I can’t hold anything against him).

  • Dan

    Dear Troy,

    I’m very sad to see you discontinue your podcast. It’s been by far my favourite serious one over the past year or so, with only Brainy Gamer coming close. The quality and quantity of guests you got on the show was wonderful, and the discussion was always interesting.

    Thank you.

  • Codicier

    Congratulations to the whole team for 100 great episodes,
    Congratulations to Troy for his new job,
    and Congratulations to the new grand lord of the podcast Rob Zacny.

    All I can say is you have been a great evangelist for what is unique and great about the strategy genre, and for you to be working in a job where you can put your enthusiasm and joy for the work to good use and get paid a good wage seems somehow just ‘right’.

    I’m not sure what correct phrase is, but how I feel can be best expressed as a strange ‘inverse scadenfreude’. To put it simply I feel very happy to see someone who’s work I respect succeed.

    On a side note I’m looking forward to still seeing your long talked about EU beginners guide with the word “Official” added.

  • Tony M

    Congratulations Troy!

  • Theon Alvinson

    I didn’t know they actually hired real people to do PR releases. I always thought companies just used some sort of “Mad-Lib” software and just entered in their key details.

    Still, it will be interesting to see your individual spinning take on industry standard chestnuts such as these:

    “I’m not at liberty to say…”
    “It will be released when it is finished…”
    “We definately intend to support our games…”

    Spare us in advance,

    Your Friend,

    Theon Alvinson

  • oMonarca

    Best of luck on your new gig man! I’m sure Rob will keep the great work and interesting conversations I got used to listen to on the podcast :)

  • RW117

    best of luck to you Troy. Ive discovered your podcast by sheer chance, but loved it from the first. Im also very happy that 3MA will continue so that even the audience in Slovakia can get intelligent commentary on strategic games :)

  • Kalle

    I’m very happy for you Troy. Best of luck.

  • Hudson

    Good luck Troy, Paradox needs all the positive PR they can get they release a lot of crap.

    Ask them why King Arthur: The Druids expansion overwrites Saxons and deactivates it. Thanks

  • Nick

    Three Moves Ahead has been the most consistently good podcast I’ve listened to for a very long time. Where other podcasts had bombast and hyperbole, TMA has had the Chick Parabola and other insightful comments.

    Good luck, and I hope that I’ll hear more from you in the next era of TMA.

  • HomiSite

    Congratulations for your new job! Sure it’s a loss for the gamers’ side of the industry, but I am looking forward what you’ll write here even with your new position. “Keep it real” :-)

    PS: As for the podcast’s future, I have to listen to episode 100 first.

  • RitalinGamer

    Good luck and congratulations!

    I hope that you’ll find time to finish your series on national traits, because I truly enjoyed that one. But I’ll certainly understand if you can’t.

  • Brandon

    Best of luck in the new gig, Troy. You will always be welcome on JTS, in whatever capacity you choose to represent.

  • Troy


    Podcast is not ending. I am just taking a more backseat role.

    Thanks for the kind words everyone.

  • toph513

    Good luck, sir. We shall miss you.

    I know this kind of change, at any point in your life, is stressful and overwhelming – especially when it touches everything you’ve worked on to this point. But it seems like you (and your brain trust) have worked this out as thoroughly as you could. You’ve made plans for the blog. You’ve left the podcast in the capable hands of someone who cares about it, and us, as much as you do. As someone who has been with your podcast since the beginning, I think it would be unfair and unkind to take away any of the joy of this exciting new opportunity with any unfounded worrying about the future. You seem to have done everything you could to do right by us and that is all I could ever ask of you. Good luck in your new position and I look forward to your visits back to the podcast.

    You know, as a visiting shill, it’s now Bruce’s sworn duty to publicly destroy you, right?

  • Scott

    Damn, who moved my cheese?!

  • Ilya Belyy

    Sometimes, you have to make hard choices to move on. Best of luck!

    TMA was my favourite podcast for these years and I hope you will still frequent it enough.

    You other columns here are also brilliant, and I hope you’ll continue, as they frequently revolve around ancient gems.

  • Patrick

    Congrats Troy.

  • Chris Parsons

    Congratulations Troy! You will be sorely missed on Three Moves Ahead. You’ve been a calm, steady presence that directed the conversation without controlling it. A rare trait and a welcome one these days. I wish you the best of luck at your new gig. Hope to see you at PAX East this year.

  • Geoffrey

    Good luck, Troy. TMA is always the first podcast I listen to every week and I’m sure it will continue to be. I’m excited for you and what this change will bring for you and your family.

  • Jorune


    “…when I get back from New York.” As in NYC? If so, do you have time for a quick TMA NYC meetup? Or even dinner? Enquiring minds are…enquiring.


  • Thomas

    Congratulations, Troy. I’m sure you’ll find a way to keep up the thoughtful commentary here, without conflicting with your new job.

  • Prof. Loewy-Brueller

    If I was even a little more egotistical, I’d throw a fit. Your blog has been as close to a home (page) as can be. A shelter from all the loud voices arguing about whose console sold more this month and why my favorite games suck.

    I believe you when you say the blog will survive, if not unscathed, and the show won’t end, for now, as Rob’s always been very enthusiastic. Three Moves Ahead’s been a great representation of strategy games: it never sounded (looked) as good as its peers, no, but they never run as deep.

    Best of luck, Troy.

  • Anders

    This is so sad. I recently came across this site, and thought I finally found a turn-based strategy game site.

    Does anyone have any sites to recommend?

  • MikeO

    Congratulations on the new gig, hope it’s everything you could hope for! I’ll still listen, and read your blog whenever you post new entries.

  • Chris


  • Pei

    Troy, as a listener of TMA for years, I really don’t want to see you go and will definitely miss your voice.
    Please be on the podcast often.

  • Brad

    Good luck in your new adventure Troy, all the best.
    You’ll be missed but you leave the podcast in the capable hands of Rob.

  • Katy

    Best of luck Troy. I’ve very much enjoyed what you’ve done with TMA, and am looking forward to see what direction Rob takes it.

  • Shaun

    Glad to hear the podcast and blog will stick around. Hope to hear your opinions on things regularly, Troy.

    Rob, if by any chance you read this – you have my unconditional support. I think you’re the best pick for the job.

  • Scott R. Krol

    So the only vet still holding out is Tom, eh? I figure it’s only a matter of time before he joins the dark side, too.

    Congratulations, best of luck with the gig!

  • Noterist

    Congratulations Troy! All the best for the future, and I hope possible conflicts of interests don’t keep you away from too many ‘casts!

    Rob will be a fine host so I’m not worried about the podcast just yet! I do hope he manages to fill virtual seats with two other panelists most weeks though, what with you being less available. TMA (and strategy games in general) is one of the few shows (or genres) where more opinions (or ideas) add to the experience, rather than diluting it.

  • Warren

    Joy. Sadness. Irony in the mix.

  • shanicus

    Congratulations Troy!

    You have built up a good team here on FOS and have a good audience, too. I m sure that whatever changes are made, us listeners and readers will adjust. So don’t worry too much about it, nothing lasts forever and the website and podcast will evolve into something better, I m sure!

    Best of luck!

  • Dirk

    Troy, your contributions to the rather niche hobby of computer strategy gaming are substantial, and your lack will be felt.

    This rather doesn’t seem the moment to rant about the market’s inability to support independent review and analysis of pure strategy gaming – if only our donations had been greater? – but instead to acknowledge your excitement and wish you the best of fortune in your new adventure. Hopefully you post here less and less as you star rises and shines, while some other soul(s) continue the good work you’ve begun in their own unique way. My compliments, and thanks for the pleasure your work has given. You’ve been genuinely appreciated.

  • Jason

    Hopefully this isn’t later described as “the start of a hellish downward spiral that would only end on the blood-soaked floors of E3 2013.”

    Congratulations and good luck, sir!

  • John Louis Swainew

    Many congratulations, Troy! Hope your wife is happy with the change to a ‘real job’!! Hahaha!

  • Chris Remo

    I will very much your podcasting and writing, Troy! Best of luck in your new career.

  • Chris Remo

    I will very much MISS your podcasting and writing, that is!