23 December 2019

100* Favorite Games of the Teens

    Highlighted are games (video games) I haven't played yet but sincerely intend to, ranked where I expect they might land once I do play them. In a year or maybe in ten years we can check back here and see how I did.

    19 October 2019

    In the Wee Small Hours

    It being October, I'd like to talk briefly about the actual scariest horror game: Mystery Channel by thecatamites.

    11 August 2019

    7 Day Broughlike

    From June 2nd to June 9th, me, Ben Allen, and kjeann hosted the inaugural 7 Day Broughlike (#7DBL) jam.

    About a year ago Alex Chen (vivafringe) created the Brough Games Discord server, where the jam was first proposed and then organized; vivafringe had previously provided some much-appreciated Brough game commentary, including a Cinco Paus strategy guide and streams of Imbroglio's Izu Mode (like a daily challenge but for every 4 days). Really valuable stuff, especially for those looking to penetrate under the surface of these sometimes inscrutable creations.

    When it comes to appreciating the work of Michael Brough, there is currently, as Frank Lantz put it, "the thrill of being on the inside of a grand secret, members of an elite cabal," but without a dedicated forum in which Brough's cult may gather, its fervent, often Portuguese murmurings might have tapered off into silence.

    A clear nod to the annual 7DRL (7-Day Roguelike) challenge, an indie institution which midwifed Brough's own Zaga-33 and 868-HACK (in the form of its prototype 86856527), the 7 Day Broughlike is intended to clarify, explore, interpret, and test the ideas and techniques that make Brough's games—many (but far from all) of which could be called "coffee break" or "minimalist" roguelikes—so compelling.

    11 May 2019

    Peering in on SpyParty

    Around this time last year, after nearly a decade of development, Chris Hecker's SpyParty went into Early Access.

    A networked, asymmetric duel of deception, SpyParty is what Hecker likes to call a "reverse Turing test." One player, the spy, attempts to blend in with the crowd at a cocktail party while indulging in such infamous plenipotentiary antics as seducing the Queen of England, blurting out non sequiturs, and pretending to read books before putting them back in the wrong shelf. Player 2, as the sniper, watches in on the affair from a distance, trying to sniff out their human enemy among the motley jumble of schmoozing NPCs.

    The spy has a checklist of missions. The sniper has one shot. 3 minutes, give or take, on the clock.

    Will the spy go undetected?

    Will the sniper shoot on a hunch?

    Will an innocent civilian eat a lead hors d'oeuvre?

    It's a million dollar idea. A premise from on high. And, having gotten my hands dirty this last year dead dropping microfilms and zooming in on ambassadors' asses, I'm struck more and more not just by the game's elegant high concept but by the genuinely sui generis and even quietly subversive ingenuity of its execution, from the density of visual detail to the unorthodox control scheme.

    Before we get into the practicals, though, I do think a bit of pipe puffing is in order.