Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


Silver Bullet Cure

Over the last couple of years I’ve found it difficult to play games for actual fun. A game, after all, is a potential Electron Dance article so I approach each one like a loot-filled mansion ripe for burglary; there are words in there somewhere, I just need to figure out how to liberate them. This careful, methodical approach means that play can really feel like work, so I often put off games that might be more work than the norm.


If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’m going through some medical shenanigans. It’s obliterated my concentration and hollowed out my interest in writing. I still like the idea of publishing a piece of writing, but I just don’t have the motivation to do all the other stuff that goes before it. You know. The actual work.

Disaffected with the site, I unplugged from the Twitter world as my feed descended into GDC hysteria. There are only so many monetize your teens ha ha and moments astounding of truly inspirational and must-play jeez you gotta recommended I can absorb in a single hour.

And I found myself doing something unusual. Which was playing games. For fun.   

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Three on the Door


This week's real post is proving difficult to finish and it's grown out of control, like a mutant zombie cyborg alien amoeba run amok. Soon, it'll be so long I might as well publish it as a book.

To tide you over, here are three games I've played recently. I'm not sure I can come up with something interesting to write about them but that does not mean they are less deserving of attention.

Today let's look at a platformer-painter, a rock hard 3D puzzle and an FPS roguelike.   

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Pause: Moments

Illness robbed me of time to write last week so just enjoy this image instead.

bosonx hiscores made it

Much thanks to David T Marchand who notified me that the Boson X leaderboards had been reset. It took me an hour to get on the boards with an all-time high on Gravitron. If you don't know why this is important, you haven't read Blood on the Boards.      

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Pause: In Japan

A purple and blue swirl, into it your soul pours

No post this week as I am in Japan. I may even be in Disneyland Tokyo as you read this.

If you're pining for something to pass the time, try Rooster Teeth's Rage Quit video on Surgeon Simulator 2013: Ambulance & Space Missions. It made me laugh.

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Pause: Recharging

A purple and blue swirl, into it your soul pours

Illness has taken a toll and I just don't have the energy to write a proper post this week. You were supposed to be reading about the narrative wonder of Kairo but, er, sorry. Dog ate my homework.

So as not to leave you forlorn, here are a few notes. Link Drag back from the dead, I suppose.

  • Michael "Angelina" Cook has started a new series covering game-related academic research. The first is on auto-generated RPG classes. I put up my hand to review this before posting as I'd love to see good academic work getting more attention, gaining traction in the wild. (Further reference: The Academics Are Coming series last year.)
  • Out of the ashes of Culture Ramp is Upstreamist: "Don’t come here looking for tech enthusiast news or “life hacks.” There are already a number of sites that report on the industry or attack the subject of information technology from the angle of productivity. Upstreamist is about more than coping with, or succeeding on the strength of, those technologies. The goal is not to weather the tide or go with the flow, but rather to find ways of navigating those streams that let us to travel toward a culture worth having." It's early days for the site, but this might be one to watch.
  • I asked @bfod and @Jonathan_Blow if they had finished Starseed Pilgrim, because I am finding the end blisteringly hard. Literally, I am screaming no no fuck no at the screen.
  • Chris Priestman writes about the struggle for quality in videogame writing. To be honest, there's nothing here I hadn't heard before except... indiegames.com had stopped paying its staff. Then again I unsubscribed from the site a couple of months ago because it had largely become an indie press release feed.
  • I've started listening to Joe Martin's short interview podcasts again (I started and totally forgot to subscribe until he retweeted Ethics last week) and you can listen to an entire series in less than an hour. The latest batch has this mournful quality. It's either Joe's voice, the subject matter or the music that does it.
  • Shaun Green reviewed Killing is Harmless, Brendan Keogh's book on Spec Ops: The Line. Spoiler! He didn't like it so much.
  • I made a joke on Twitter.
  • Worth a read if you have the time, suggested by Ben Schroder in the open comments thread: Renata Adler takes down film critic Pauline Kael (Aug 1980). When critics turn columnist.
  • In "Psytron", Rob Fearon writes about his childhood memories of Margaret Thatcher... which reminded me a lot of my own.

The open comments thread is still open for business, of course.


After the Dust Settles: Ethics Revisited

Here's a short supplement to The Ethics of Selling Children (TEoSC), which was read by a lot of people. Some of those people approved. Others did a *rollseyes*. And someone scratched on my bedroom window while I tried to sleep... whoa, sorry, was actually channelling Salem's Lot there.

First, a reminder of what this was all about. Confessional writing has been going on since for-ever and was not invented by folks who like writing about games. However confessional games writing is in vogue right now so TEoSC was about the dangers that stem from how intoxicating such naked writing can be. It was not about confessions being worthless as games criticism, which is an entirely separate topic.

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Pause: January Ramblings

Change in the Air

So a few changes to the site this year.

  • Link Drag. The plan was to share a little of the traffic love that the internet had granted me. I tried hard to produce a nice summary and a catchy extract for each chosen link, something to encourage readers to click onwards. This took almost as much time as a proper Tuesday post. Still, the stats do not lie. They tell me that Link Drag has never been that popular and the numbers clicking through to elsewhere were even smaller. Like video work, I don't think this is worth the time I've been devoting to it so, for now, I'm suspending Link Drag.
  • Dialogue Tree. Eric's interviews have been moved to Thursday to put some more space between the interview and the Tuesday post. It also gives me a little more time to get them ready for posting.
  • Counterweight. Eric and I are trying out a new podcast format and we're not sure how well it is all going to work. This will normally fill the Tuesday slot. We hope to do one a month, but no promises. It would also be good if we could argue more, with a sprinkling of violence.
  • I rearranged all the links in the sidebar recently - now you'll find a small section for developers. Quality is better than quantity so I'm fairly aggressive in scrubbing out links that have stopped posting regularly. Mind you, sidebar links are more symbolic than consequential. Really, who clicks through a blogroll section these days? Remember, the stats do not lie. I know the truth! You can't handle the truth!
  • Eric Brasure has not been elevated to "co-editor" or "backup writer" or anything. His status is still slave.

There are also a handful of readers (less than ten) signed up to e-mail alerts. Is this because no one wants an e-mail subscription or is it because no one knows e-mail subscription exists? Just wondering.

IndieCade East

I've talked about this briefly on Twitter but just to let y'all know, I am heading to IndieCade East next month.

I'll be travelling out to NY on Thursday Feb 14 and will be in town until the following Monday afternoon. I will be staying with Eric Brasure who has generously offered accommodation.

I hope you appreciate the weighty ramifications here. It means I will be missing Valentine's Day with Mrs. HM.

I'm principally going to IndieCade for a celebratory high-five with Richard Hofmeier after the IGF nominations, but I will probably try to shake an article out of this somehow.

Too Late

I can't remember when I wrote the short story Harbinger. Early 90s I think, maybe earlier.

In this story, our protagonist awakes in the dark. And he's drowning in water. Fortunately he escapes and we figure out he's on one of the moons of Mars. He's been sent by the company who discovered teleportation, a secret they kept to themselves. As a result, they have a veritable monopoly on doing stuff in outer space.

Anyway, they made a Martian space station for rich tourists and their own scientists and engineers. But there's been no contact for a week and transport to the station isn't working. They send the protagonist to an emergency backdoor transport on Deimos. It was secretly built to handle just this kind of scenario.

Our little secret agent uses a shuttle to get to the space station and finds it deserted and somewhat looted. The people? Aside from a couple of corpses... everyone is missing. There's only one place all of the people could have gone. The Harbinger.

The company's teleportation technology only works on people so the company uses a massive freighter, called Harbinger, to shuttle physical materials back and forth between Earth and Mars. Now, the freighter left Mars on schedule, after contact with the space station went dead. Our agent jumps on his shuttle and catches up with the Harbinger before it gets too far away.

And there, indeed, he discovers all of the missing people, alive. At first, they beat the crap out of him and then they tell him the truth. They explain why they've chosen to stowaway on Harbinger. And the awful truth, the goddamned awful truth...

...and last week I watched Moon starring Sam Rockwell. Bollocks. THERE GOES THAT EXCITING LAST PAGE TWIST.

The moral of the story is to publish your fiction today not twenty years later.



Pause: Reflections on Goo

World of Goo - "MOM's Computer" screenshot

September was filed under "busy" but the first week of October got put in the special "exhausting" folder. I went to the Expo, prepared two Expo podcasts, both children got sick on different days bringing about epic sleep deprivation and someone came to stay. Oh and I also lost a day to illness.

Long story short, I'm out of gas. This week I'm putting up a post which is shorter and more shooting from the hip than usual.

I'm going to share two things with you today. First, I was interviewed on another site. Second, I want to add a few more reflections on the games I played at the Eurogamer Expo. 

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