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Electron Dance Highlights


Gaze of the Abyss

Manifold Garden

Earlier this year I wrote an essay called Art of the Impossible about Fragments of Euclid (Antoine Zanuttini, 2017) and William Chyr’s as-yet unreleased Manifold Garden. In classic Electron Dance fashion, I ended on a throwaway thought that bore closer inspection. I moaned about the tendency for beautiful art games to rely on what you might call “tried and tested” mechanics to drive them. I don’t think of them as tried and tested, more like “unambitious and disappointing”.

Find a key, unlock a door. Touch the hotspot. Memorise a sequence.

Does this sound familiar?

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The Fallen Price of Indie Games


But collaborations like Sportsfriends are rare. What became the norm was the industrialised bundle, which allows customers to pay for several games at a price of their choosing. This became so successful that AAA publishers began to get involved; the Humble Bundle which championed the concept for indie games in 2010 began to take on AAA bundles in 2012. The bundle became a permanent feature of the market, like the discount. The blunt truth is that the bundle was just another vector for game prices to slip to zero. Their innovation for consolidating customer attention became an innovation for reducing the effective price to sub-dollar levels.

RPS has published an excerpt from The Death of Ideas, the second chapter of the book. More precisely, the section titled Is Resistance Futile was converted into a standalone piece. I imagine if you've visited these parts recently, you've probably already read this. Don't worry, nothing extra has been added. The article is called The Fallen Price of Indie Games.

The first couple of chapters have also been updated. No major changes, but I'd dare say if you took another run at the chapter you would notice a difference.


Wot I Think: Recursed

I thought it was about time I wrote something again for Rock Paper Shotgun. Right now you can read my Wot I Think about Portponky's difficult yet brilliant puzzle-platformer, Recursed. I've been playing this on and off for a few months.

If you found Inception’s dream within a dream within a dream too difficult to follow, you’ll be hopeless at brain-shredding puzzle game Recursed by Portponky. In Recursed, you can easily find yourself inside a room inside a room inside a room… while, uh, carrying the room you’re in.

Go read it!




Tony Van was the producer in charge of localizing a Japanese RPG called The Story of Thor: Hikari wo Tsugu Mono (Ancient, 1994) for Western audiences, but received a badly translated copy of the story to work from.

In an interview for the The Game Localization Handbook, he explained: “I tried my hardest to figure it out, but was completely baffled. I was under extreme time pressure to get it out for Christmas, so I didn’t have time to contact the Japanese office to track down the original source and get it re-translated. I simply rewrote the story and dialogue using all the plot points I could understand as references and writing that sounded good to me when I didn’t understand the plot points!”

Instead of the action taking place in “the world of Thor”, the English translation located everything in “the land of Oasis” and the game was sold in North America as Beyond Oasis. Someone decided it would sell better in Europe under its original title of The Story of Thor: A Successor of the Light except it left thousands of European Sega Megadrive owners with a mystery: who the bloody Hell is Thor?

I will forever remember it as The Story of Thor because Thor is one of my personal favourites. I’ve played through it three times: the first time was in 1994 as the academic chapter of my life was coming to a close; the second time in 2006 as pure comfort gaming on an emulator; the third time, this year, was a performance for my children, who enjoyed the watching but had little interest in the doing. It can now be bought on Steam for a couple of dollars.

This recent and perhaps final playthrough was illuminating because I was simultaneously playing… dun-dun-duuuunnnn Dark Souls (From Software, 2011).

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One Step Forward, One Step Back


Electron Dance reader Ketchua brought Cradle (Flying Cafe for Semianimals, 2015) to my attention many years ago and something about its look stood out. Its release last year seem to go largely unnoticed although Adam Smith gave it a glowing review on Rock Paper Shotgun.

Cradle is gripping, featuring a complex sci-fi story that is serious and unexpectedly bleak: but holy Jesus it has some problems.

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The Unbearable Now: On The Witness

On the theme park island of The Witness, you solve puzzles. Solving puzzles leads to more puzzles. Keep working. Keep digging. Keep solving. Again and again and again. But this process cannot continue forever. Where does The Witness end? And why?

At last, it is here: The Unbearable Now is a spoiler-filled interpretation of The Witness (Thelka, 2016) that’s been months in the making. It is laced with a few choice expletives, but definitely no gore. Or nudity.

Watch the film below or direct on YouTube.






The Minecraft Industrial Revolution

A video essay on Minecraft's survival mode.

Proteus indulges the fable of the “simple life” where we co-exist peacefully with the ecosystem. It asks me to lose myself in the majesty of nature and its joyous, playful manner is beguiling... but the code protects the island above all else. We cannot even take a blade of grass or petal of a flower with us and we leave no footprints behind. Violations of Proteus law are forbidden. Nature is immutable. Nature is God.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.



  • Video by Joel Goodwin

Games Shown

  • Minecraft, Mojang
  • Proteus, Key & Kanaga


  • Mountain Men, History Channel
  • Space 1999 "Breakaway"
  • Space 1999 "Dragon's Domain"


From the album Minecraft - Volume Beta by C418:

  • "Alpha"
  • "The End"
  • "Ballad of the Cats"
  • "Mutation"



The Strange Case of the Roguelike Suicide


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?

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The Best Electron Dance Posts of All-Time EVER

This month we're celebrating FIVE YEARS of Electron Dance!

such applause

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.

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The Feng Shui of Minecraft


Maybe you've had nightmares like this too. Finding yourself stuck in the middle of an impossible nowhere with no hope of getting back to the safe and familiar. I stared at the unending maw of the ocean, a handful of sand teeth poking through the surface. This did not look like the kind of world I could survive in.

I discarded the desert island world and asked for another. This time I was presented with trees. Pigs. Snow-capped mountains. A pond.

And then I began playing Minecraft (Mojang, 2011) for the first time.

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