Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

15Jul/182

Virgin Lands

This is the tenth part of The Ouroboros Sequence, a series on puzzle games.

Opus Magnum

In the last two Ouroboros essays, we’ve talked about how puzzle design iteration is innovative and examined a particular design lineage.

In this article, effectively the final part of a trilogy on puzzle innovation, I want to head away from well-worn genres and talk about designs which feel more fresh.

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10Jul/180

Figure It Out

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build

A few weeks ago I published The Developers Who Won’t Hold Your Hand which discussed design considerations around a growing subgenre of games that leave the player to figure out the mechanics. I made use of droqen’s term “discoverable systems” because, frankly, we didn’t have one.

This was based on a number of interviews comprising over 5,000 words in total. That meant I had to cut a lot of words, even interesting stuff.

But recycling is good for us, so I’m presenting some of these lost words in a separate post.

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1Jul/183

Discussion: The Sword Is Mightier Than The Pen

From June's newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

There’s something of 80 Days to Voyageur, but only something.

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

20Jun/186

The Developers Who Won’t Hold Your Hand

Starseed Pilgrim

Reviews of Starseed Pilgrim were fixated on its sense of mystery rather than its challenging core. It became an indie title notorious for inscrutability and dividing players into two camps, The Ah-Ha-I-Geddits and The Emperor-Has-No-Clothesies. Starseed Pilgrim was intended as a B-side to another game, Probability 0, so becoming the latest indie game talking point in 2012 was a surprise to its developer, Alexander ‘droqen’ Martin. But its design was no accident.

“There was an article marvelling at the way Half-Life 2 guides the player through its first level through design that makes the 'right path' apparent. The wrong paths were, of course, dead ends, and the seemingly open level is actually very linear,” Martin tells me. “Anyway, I thought that was gross and stupid and decided that was the antithesis of everything I wanted to accomplish.”

“I didn't add instruction because I believed in what I can only describe now as 'discoverable systems'. Systems, rulesets, that are interesting to discover yourself and which you wouldn't want to have spoiled by instruction.”

While the AAA industry gravitated towards telling the player exactly what to do sometimes to the point of alienating them (Dead Space’s ‘cut off the limbs’ anyone?), indie games have been consciously exploring what happens when the player is left to their own devices. What are the benefits for players - and the risks for developers?

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19Jun/180

Transmission: Cultist Simulator, RYB, Domina

One hour. Four games. (Well, actually, my dress rehearsal overran so take "one hour" with a pinch of salt.)

Stream this week - Wednesday 20 June, and will begin at 9:30PM UK, 10:30PM Central Europe, 4:30PM EST. My Twitch channel can be found at twitch.tv/electrondance.

I will discuss the following titles:

Previous Transmissions are available on the dedicated E/TX YouTube channel.

10Jun/1816

Penetrate the Night

Cultist Simulator (Weather Factory, 2018) shambled out of the gloom into the daylight on May 31, 2018. That wasn't even two weeks ago and according to Steam I have played 21 hours of Cultist Simulator.

I dabbled with the game at Rezzed and my take, today, is a smidgen different from that one. Cultist Simulator has a simple but critical flaw.

It is... addictive.

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3Jun/1819

Reflections on a Design

This is the ninth part of The Ouroboros Sequence, a series on puzzle games.

Archaica: The Path of Light

Last year I developed an interest in the qualities of beam reflection games. I’d never really had a hankering for them until I tried Archaica: The Path of Light (Two Mammoths, 2017) and it got me thinking about whether the ideas contained therein were actually unique. The levels were tight and buzzing with ideas: beam splitters, beam generators, mixing different colours of light, portal-type objects that teleport lasers…

What were the origins of the reflection puzzle? I began to dig.

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31May/1810

Discussion: Missing Moments

From this month's newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

I am troubled that my own play style means I am rarely able to indulge a game when it is hot and I’ll miss out on something. Even a small thing, like how I’ll never understand how truly different the launch version was to the much-patched version now on Steam.

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

27May/1813

Been Around The Block

This is the eighth part of The Ouroboros Sequence, a series on puzzle games.

Haven’t you got any more ideas?

Do you really think the world needs another block-pushing puzzle? What makes pushing blocks special? Can you for the love of God stop churning out the same game, again and again and again?

Yeah, I didn’t want to play block pushing games any more. But one day I played Full Bore (Whole Hog Games, 2013) and it changed my mind about everything.

What is puzzle innovation?

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23May/180

Transmission: Beacon, Asemblance & more

One hour (ish). Six games (ish).

Stream this week - Thursday 24 May, and will begin at 9:30PM UK, 10:30PM Central Europe, 4:30PM EST. My Twitch channel can be found at twitch.tv/electrondance.

I will discuss the following titles:

Previous Transmissions are available on the dedicated ET/X YouTube channel.

Update! Here's the stream available on YouTube.