Game Diary

3 11 2014

I just played With Those We Left Alive by Porpentine and Brenda Neotenomie. I found it from reading this article on Interactive Fiction by Leigh Alexander.

It’s a Twine game – a story set in a hellishly twisted world of fascinating nightmarish rituals. Ruled over by a monstrous Empress, in a decaying landscape you can barely glimpse, there is a lot left to the imagination and a steady trickle of revelation. The strangeness is tinged with the mundanity of boredom and self-defeat.

As you play, you are prompted at significant moments to draw symbols onto your skin. You come up with them yourself, so they have a meaning to you and make a record of the themes in the story – the story leaves a mark on you.

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Game diary – woah this is a doozy!

29 08 2014

I’ve not been diligently updating my game diary although I have still been playing games! Luckily I noted most down when I remembered.

16th July

I signed up for ECOjam but couldn’t afford to fly down there, so to make up for that disappointment, I caught the train up to Seattle the week after, to meet up with Harry Lee as he journeyed up the coast before heading back to Australia. I also got to meet Ian Snyder, Jon Brodsky and Morgan who were on holiday there and local Seattlites Dualhammers, Mynta, Solon and Bran.

Quantum fingers

This game is a real mind-bender. As a group, you all form a quantum computer and try to define the reality of a hand of cards. Wait, it’s more complicated than that… let me try again. Each player has 4 imaginary cards in their hand represented by their fingers. All they know at this stage is that the 4 cards are not all the same suit. As they go round, each player asks another how many of a particular suit they are holding. Until they answer, the cards in everyone’s hands are in quantum flux. They transfer those cards to the asker’s hand and the the turn moves on. The more questions get asked the more things become settled until it’s possible for someone to know for sure that they have 4 identical cards in their hand. As learners of the game, the main challenge as working together to keep the game from stopping due to a miscalculation. After that the strategies revolved around keeping other people’s hands over 4 cards.

Sushi hands

A game for roughly 6 people, using all their hands and nothing else. Players take it in turn to call out a type of sushi that needs to be made. These sushi recipes are made up of the other players’ hands collaborating to throw all the required poses to make that recipe. If one of your hands doesn’t make it into a sushi dish, then it’s out the game. Once you lose both hands, you are out. So it involves memory, team work, speed, physical contact, backstabbing and making slightly rude looking gestures. A great game!


A boardgame from my childhood, that we found in a cafe in Seattle. Players have a hand of treasure cards that they are trying to navigate a maze to find. The board is a grid of glued down tiles with channels between them all for other tiles to be slid. Starting on one of the four corners the players take it in turn to shove one column or row of tiles along and change the lay-out of the maze, then move through the corridors as far as they can.

26 July

Crazy Kitchen

A Candy Crush clone with added photo toys of sticking your friends faces on the scenic background characters. Well made and maybe has a Azkend chaining mechanic that CC possibly doesn’t have (?)


Everyone says Bastion is great and that I would love it. And it does have a pleasantly Firefly feel to it some how (despite having nothing to do with the show as far as I can tell) But I’m not so taken with it. Maybe I need to see the ending. I watched someone else play this and shouted helpful advice from the sofa such as ‘grab that melee weapon that also shoots’ and ‘smash the pots. Yes all the pots’.

It was kinda hard to look at, the backgrounds too busy.

Ilo Milo

So I have moved into a house with an xbox in it, I’ve not had a console at my disposal since moving to the USA and having to leave my Wii and inherited xbox behind in England.

Looking for a two player game, I remembered having this game on my old system.

It’s a puzzle game of getting your two characters to collect records and photos then meet up by walking around a set of interconnected catwalks. You have to help each other out by creating paths for each other and handing items over. The distinct annoyance is that only one person can move at a time. One person gets bored and looks at their phone while the other stomps around the cutesy world until they get stuck and pass the game back.

What I really wanted to play was Ibb and Obb, which this game is not, so a a fair amount of my frustration can be explained by that. Ibb and Obb is a great two player platformer where you have to work together to navigate two worlds that meet horizontally in the middle of the screen, one where gravity goes down and one where it goes up. There are nice Portal style physics puzzles involving inertia and jumping through holes.

Super time force

A multi-player game for one player. You play as a whole team with different skills but rewind the game to play simultaneously with your previous self. The nice thing is that you can speed run it a level AND go all out collecting items AND explore all in one go. The art is pixeltastic and the writing very funny.

7 wonders

I used to play this game with my co-worker in our lunch hour at Hasbro, so I have a great affection for this game.

A hand passing deck building game, you each compete to build up a city that is better than your neighbours’ cities. There are approximately 1 million ways to win, from building a massive army, building up special powers by adding levels to your city’s Wonder of the World, shooting the moon by hoarding impractical sciencey stuff. The tactics of the game are mainly in observing what other people are trying to do and stop them getting the cards they need from getting passed to them while still making sure to collect up useful cards for yourself.

Sun 27th July?

The cave

I only played the demo, but such a nice looking game. Made by DoubleFine, it’s a point and click adventure wearing an action platform/puzzler’s skin. There are several characters all of whom have a narrative arc and meticulous design. I loved the Time Traveller in particular and would have liked to spend more time figuring out what her skills and weaknesses were – the Demo cuts the game off at a good point, I was satisfied at having solved a reasonably tough puzzle but knew there was so much more I’d not seen yet.

I maed a gam3 w1th z0mb1es 1n it!!!1

Shoot all the zombies! Pick up guns and ammo and stuff! Run backwards and shoot like crazy until you are overwhelmed! An honest cheerfully flimsy timewaster game.

San Juan

This card game spin off from the board game Puerto Rico focuses just on the infrastructure buying aspect of the larger game (I presume as I’ve not played the larger game) I suspect the larger game will feel cumbersome in comparison much in the same way Monopoloy Deal makes real Monopoly feel tedious and full of extraneous distractions.

7 August


Ascension with Wow characters! And great graphics. I’ve only just got through the tutorial phases and am yet to play against real people – other than one pick up match with a stranger, who was the same newbie low level as myself but hadn’t opened and card packs yet.

This is a deck building game, free to play but pay cash money for card packs in the time honoured tradition. There are some freebie packs for unlocking achievements/completing tasks. Opening the packs is dealt with well giving it a lot of drama and anticipation. The whole thing is very glossy and well made.


A memory game essentially, although the things you are memorising are rules that stack up over time. So the more you play, the more you will have to memorise. Winning a level gives you a new rule to learn, it took me a while to realise that the rules always run in descending order of how you learned them – so long as they still apply by the time you get to them. The tiles are randomly drawn each round so there is a good mix of luck, agility and skill to winning the puzzles.!/id840811083?mt=8

Fri 8th


Classic world saving co-op game, you must play against the board to wipe out spreading epidemics before they take over the map. or go critical too many times. or you run out of options – basically there are several ways to die in this game.

I’d never played this game two player before and it does seem both more challenging and slightly too at the whim of luck when there are only two hands for cards to go into. We almost won, but ran out of pick up cards – we retraced out moves and found no way we could have completed the game in time. We also never cam anywhere near an epidemic setting of the outbreak count down so there must be something in the balancing that doesn’t scale for a two person game.

Still great fun and we were in two moves of winning if we hadn’t run out of cards, so a nailbiting finish.


The raunchy game of finger skating across an iPad, can feel uncomfortably like you’re trying to get the iPad off, as a team. But I do enjoy making my friends feel uncomfortable, so I have now played this game with several unsuspecting people.

The 70s boom-chick-wow-wow music aside, the elegantly simple puzzle mechanic of having to figure out how to keep small squares held onto other sometimes moving small squares without crashing into your partner’s hand, leads to some close proximity and contortions and physical co-operation about timing and positions that is startlingly intimate.

Sat 9th

Small world underground

A new set of clans and map for the same dynamics of the original version Small World. Players take it in turns to buy a ‘race’ from an selection that will enter onto the board from the edge and spread as far as they can across the map. Each ‘race’ has a randomly attached ability making each game different to the last. Once a race has colonised an are it can be attacked by the other players, so there is a lot of tactical play around stacking up numbers of creatures in areas that might be vulnerable or to spread yourself less thin and take on areas of the map that have harder topography to claim and a better defensive position.

One thing that I can’t remember if it the original had or not was inhabitant monsters on unclaimed lands that give the player (or the area) a treasure with a bonus ability.

Thurs 13th

80 days

A steam punk retelling of the Victorian travel story, you play as manservant Passepartout trying to navigate, keep your master’s favour and manage money, time and luggage as the story progresses.

The story telling part of the interaction is reminiscent of playing a Twine game, and it gave the sense of being a massively branching choose your own adventure – I will have to play it more to find out. Designed by my friend Meg Jayanth.

Fri 15th Aug

Power Grid

A confusing game to learn, but great fun once you do. Well, fun if you like buying things at auction and pretending to be a power company. Which apparently I do, as it turns out! A typical German style board game, all the players are playing at building their own little empire out of the shared resources available on the same board. Whoever makes the best of what fate deals them wins. Unlike say Seven Wonders however there is much more opportunity to interact with the other players and screw them over by tactically buying up resources or by blockading them out on the map.

Aug 18th

For the Kongpanion pet – which I didn’t get because the task was harder than it looked – This roguelike dungeon crawler has the interesting quirk of making the shop and the save features rare. You have to find a a set of wings hidden in a chest in order to ‘Escape’ the dungeon, and then if you do only specific items in your inventory will go with you. Although these items will persist and give you a slight advantage on your next playthrough, there are better ‘grey’ item to actually equip. You have to plan out and balance whether or not to take a route through tougher enemies that will give you access to potentially useful loot, or to keep those health points to make it through more levels. There is a distinct lack of health potions hidden in the chests too – this is a great way to reframe this kind of game. Other standard features are locked away too, being able to see what your enemy’s health, powers, wealth etc are all unlocked one by one as you find the rare items.

August in general and several months before


A creative writing exercise dressed up as a twitter robot disguised as a game. Oh and it’s sexy. Inspired by Patricia Lockwood’s comedic ‘sext:’ tweets, this twitter bot collects DMs from the players, stores them and redistributes them one by one to another player at random. Every time you send a ‘sext:’ DM to the bot you receive one from someone else within 2 minutes. You can rate the message you receive with a wink smiley 😉 or replying ‘yes’ or vote them down with 😦 . The only way to know if you are winning is to look at the leaderboard and see if any of you tweets are displayed and have a heart on them.

There is a disassociation between the act of writing and the scoring as the tweets stored in the database can’t be scored by the other players until they are redistributed, and that is random and depends on other players calling on the database by participating. Being prolific is a better strategy to climb the leaderboard than being creative. But then the main fun is in reading the silly messages you get and coming up with replies, so it’s not so important that the scoring is broken. This game made by my friend Brendan Adkins.

Aug 24th


From Calvin and Hobbes, a game they play is a ball game of escalating unfairness as each claims new rules to exist that tip the score in their favour. I followed Brendan, Alyssa and Mike to the park to play this with their friends Harry, Maddie, Patrick and Joli. We came up with two games, both with a no running rule. The first involved tagging other players to get one of the two balls in play off them and getting it to the goal tree. You could then  only score if another player was touching the tree and you the the ball to them – you then both got a point. You couldn’t score with the same player twice. If anyone shouted ‘jump’ at any point, anyone failing to jump lost a point.

The second game was a team game (although the teams kept switching between rounds due to not having enough players for even teams). Starting from one end a pitch of sorts, the team had to get a ball balanced on a tennis racket to the opponent’s end first to score. The team’s had defined roles, the [carrier] who carried the racket but couldn’t touch the ball if it fell off. The Retriever who could fetch the ball but couldn’t carry it forward. The Bludgeoner who could pound the opponent’s racket to dislodge the ball and the goalie whose role was kinda written out so was given the ability to hug anyone they wanted. This turned out to be a crucial defensive tactic. None of the players were allowed to speak during the rounds and had to communicate with strange noises. This game was by far the favourite. The constant switching of players made allegiance hard to cement and gave a pleasant lack of animosity, although tricky to keep score. Alyssa the scorekeeper finally decided that whoever had never been on a winning team at all, lost, which is kinda mean, but totally worked 🙂 

We then played my half broken game of Weeping Angels ‘Blink’ and tried to fix it by adding rules that stop the angels advancing unless they’re holding a ball or were being pointed at by another player. In this game, one person stands in the middle of a circle and has to try and survive as long as they can. The people advancing on the central player can only move if not being looked at, but as they surround the player there is always someone they’ve got their back turned to. Being in the middle is creepy, like being surrounded by Ninja cats

Space Team

And then to Melissa’s to play games and eat ice lollies. I missed out on playing Morels but did get to play –

Space Team! We were on a …. Space team! The excellent game of shouting nonsense at your friends. You’re all on a spaceship that is doomed to explode no matter what (or maybe there is an ending I’ve never gotten to?) You need to keep the thing together for as long as you can by following the instructions. Trouble is, the instruction on your screen might no be for your control panel. And you panel is leaking ooze, unscrewed and flailing about, under the paw of the ship’s cat and in an alien language. WORMHOLE EVERYBODY FLIP!!

Aug 27th


An adorable little world made entirely of Emoji, you play as a smiley face and explore the map, finding secrets and talking to locals. There’s a zoo, filled with emoji animals. You can go drink emoji beer and lose control of your character or get a hair cut to look like a baby. I’m not sure there is a win state besides finding all the things that are suggested to find (I got all but one the disembodied eyes).

game diary

23 05 2014


I played this game for the kongpanion this is really not my kind of game, which is useful because I was trying to think of what genres I don’t like in order to participate in Fuck This Jam. I guess it’s actually an inverted tower defence, which is my favourite genre so maybe I’ve still not found my nemesis.

A few days ago I played the lovely How to be a Blackbird by Holly Gramazio, it’s a twine game so part story part exploration. It’s one of the few games I’ve ever played where the protagonist is an animal and therefore has a whole alien set of wants and needs.

I went to Eyebeam in New York to participate in a playtest session there, so I played two as yet unnamed games, one physical about creating playspaces with your hands for fingers to walk across and one card game of the CAH persuasion.

I’ve downloaded Fingle but haven’t played it properly yet as it is multiplayer. I didn’t realise it’s theming was so raunchy!

Game diary

6 05 2014

Today I played Cat God vs Sun King 2 for the kongpanion. It reminds me of an old game I used to play as a kid where you have to try and destroy submarines by dropping bombs where you think they will be in a few seconds time (depthcharge?). You play as a cat god sat atop a scaffold, worker slaves and other mobs are building up the tower towards you, each level the complete allows them to get closer to you and attack you. You control a falling fire ball that periodically drops and kills any workers underneath it. There are upgrades and scarabs to target in order to get bonuses.

Game diary

5 05 2014

Today I played Alan Hazeldean’s Ludum Dare 29 entry You’re Pulleying My leg. A brain melting puzzle game – the first puzzle being figuring out what the mechanic is.

Game Diary

2 05 2014

Today I played valthirian-arc-2 for the kongpanion pet of a sparrow.

I played a little bit of Project Isla, it looks like it is a Myst style exploring game.

Fellow weapon7 player, about which I’ll write more later, told me that he hadn’t made any games. This turned out to be a lie of humbleness – I played his oldest Ludum Dare game  You Are Me Now. An action-puzzler platformer of uncovering connections. Interesting ‘attack’ of projecting yourself into the body of an enemy mob in order to switch places with them.


Game diary

22 04 2014

This weekend I playtested Anchorage. It’s a game built from your email history, you play a little boat on a river that draws energy from being near other boats. The river draws a path through time, as you sail along you travel through your history. Friendly boats appear based on conversations you had with certain people, they’ll stay with you for as long as you stayed in touch, then disappear in your wake as you outstrip them. I playtested the game live via skype in front of Gabe, the creator of the game. I thought that it might be a bit intimidating to expose my personal relationships, but it turned out to be fun to tell him who the people on the boats were, how and if they related to each other, and what their friendship meant to me.