Perhaps you’re at home. Perhaps you’re on a train. The location doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you’re enjoying your current favourite rogueish-type-like. You think you’re on top of your game, got all the enemy moves figured out. Yeah, baby, you know what to do.
And then something goes horribly wrong.
You just click, click, click quickly through three moves in one go, as if you’re trying to beat the computer before it gets in a countermove.
And of course you don't get to be quicker than the computer because the game is turn-based. No, you get to die. You die, because you were stupid.
You’ve just experienced a brain phenomenon I call the roguerush. What the hell happened there?
Unless you’ve read mentions of it in the newsletter, I’ll wager you’ve never heard of Evy: Magic Spheres (HeroCraft, 2014). It was released last year and looked like just another brightly coloured casual game in a sea of brightly coloured casual games. You probably wouldn’t even click on the YouTube trailer because you’d be that sure about its content. It’s a marble popper! I already played Zuma (Oberon Media, 2003) and millions of Zuma clones! (Lest you get the wrong idea, Zuma itself was a clone of a 1998 Japanese arcade game called Puzz Loop.)
But Evy reviews are thin on the ground and now, even better, Russian developer HeroCraft seem to have completely given up on her.
This matters to me because Evy was one of my favourite games of 2014.
Dear Esther (The Chinese Room, 2012) is a bit long in the tooth but it gave birth to the popularity of the “walking simulator”. Look, gang, if you really wanted to be offensive about it, you should call these games dog walking simulators, where the player is the goddamned dog.
Ordinary people felt free to dance naked on the streets and proclaim, “Let’s kill the gameplay!” But the original Dear Esther is 7 years old and if we’re still pumping out games where people potter about triggering monologues and weeping at eye candy then it suggests this revolution merely spawned an army of imitators: “Comrade, I make also great revolutionary walking simulator!”
Careful, team, MASSIVE spoilers lurk below. If you want to duck out now, here’s the short version: I enjoyed secret-box-on-the-cheap Verde Station but had problems with it’s-not-gameplay-honest-guv Ethan Carter.
This month we're celebrating FIVE YEARS of Electron Dance!
Here’s a story from 2012 that was never published.
A long, long time ago I wrote a nailbiting Neptune’s Pride (Iron Helmet, 2010) diary that kept readers up all night called The Aspiration. This diary took a serious toll though; my mental health over the month of the game was put through the wringer and I knew I never wanted to play such a game EVER THE HELL AGAIN. I later wondered whether an obsession with Neptune's Pride diaries was contributing to a problem of survivorship bias.
However, I was press-ganged into a match of Solium Infernum (Cryptic Comet, 2009). It's a turn-based affair, not something that exists from minute to minute. I was still anxious, though. Solium is about duplicity. About paranoia. But I wanted to repeat the success of The Aspiration, so felt like I should go for it.
But our game stopped after three turns and never got going again. I wrote up a detailed diary for those three turns and I think it's time to reveal it to the public.
This month we're celebrating FIVE YEARS of Electron Dance!
Welcome, welcome all. Today I present the most definitive of lists, the one you’ve waited five years for.
This is the nine most popular posts on Electron Dance.
When I wrote the first post 354 on VVVVVV, I never thought I'd be possessed with the hubris to write a post called Five Years of Electron Dance, let alone have enough readers to justify it.
There's only way to deal with this: I'm going to let it get to my head and get drunk and take off all my clothes. Does this mean I can monetize my audience? Should I run a Patreon? Let's talk about what this means and answer five questions about Electron Dance you never wanted answering in the first place.
It seems I’ve been terrified for nearly three years.
Michael Brough developed 86856527 for the 2013 7DRL challenge (7 Day RogueLike). It was a great prototype that Brough transformed into an iOS commercial release called 868-HACK (2013).
It’s taken two years for Brough to get the refined, post-jam version back to its original home on PC. This is where a reviewer might ask, “Well, was it worth it?” Rather than treating the question as some pithy gunk to pad out the opening paragraphs, we would do well to take it more seriously.
This is the second part of The Petri Dish trilogy. The first part was on the inexplicable anger of complete strangers.
Imagine you are the editor of a television newsroom. Your viewers don’t have time to digest every news story because the world is a big place. It’s your job to prioritise and package this information, just give them the important facts. Your desk is cluttered with stories, some of which are still developing and the truth is unclear. Your gaze skims across them.
Boko Haram continuing to wreak mayhem in Nigeria. Death toll from fighting in Libya continues to rise. Fears that Russian troops are operating within Ukraine. IS continues to make gains in Iraq, forcing Obama to send the troops in, again. Unrest in Ferguson over the police shooting of Michael Brown. Bill Cosby is in the news, but not for good reasons. Greek government workers take down most of the country’s infrastructure in a protest against austerity. Women are dying in India after a mass-sterilization exercise goes badly wrong. European space probe lands on a comet – but will it stay there? Bird flu virus has been discovered in the Netherlands. The World Chess Championship is taking place. 18 people are killed by a fire in carrot packaging plant in Shandong.
I lied. You’re not an editor of a newsroom but a social media addict.
Every day you live the flood, your smartphone saturated with raw news, often lacking context, often buried in strong personal bias. No one is going to pay you to figure out the truth or decide what events are more important than others.
How do you deal with this?
This is the first part of The Petri Dish trilogy.
I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of thing, but when IndieGameStand sent me an indie first-person shooter as their latest offering, I picked it up without too much thought. I didn’t realise it was an alpha until after I’d installed it. It was starting to bother me that I kept buying alpha games off IndieGameStand without realising it, somehow they never seemed to make that fact prominent enough, that the “sale” was actually an early access funding drive.
The game was a total twitchfest and I’m not very good at this sort of thing any more, my thumbs don't snap into place like they used to, but I made a good fist of it. My son was entertained for awhile watching me, but I always tended to flounder and die after a few levels.
Still, I like to follow videogame people on Twitter at random, just to inject a little unknown into my feed. If I find them offensive or frustrating, I’ll mute or unfollow and be done with it.
I followed the developer of the game... and he tested my patience.