Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

4Mar/2015

Reverse Shock

This is the third in a series of short musings on Control. The first was Behind the Poster and the second was Use of Weapons.

There will be spoilers.

Black Rock Quarry in Control is a visual wonder. Few games get me to marvel at rock - caves were the worst part of INFRA (Loiste Interactive, 2016) - but, my God, I was screenshotting up a whole folder of rock formations. Here’s some rock. Here’s Jesse standing in front of some more rock. Here’s Jesse looking into the distance, by some rock.

Combat in Control was settling down, a little too much. I was comfortable with most fights and had become somewhat complacent. Bored, even. But the quarry threw a screwball into the process.

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2Mar/2031

Discussion: The Four-Hour Copy and Paste

Welcome to the slightly late February newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

Now picture the scene. The Depressurizer window is open. It lists every game I own. Each entry is enriched with yummy data like how long I’ve played that game. We’re almost there - all we need to do is copy and paste the data into something else. And this lovely open source project… doesn’t support it.

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

24Feb/203

Transmission: SOLAS, Vignettes

60 minutes. Four games.

Stream this week - Monday 24 Feb, and will begin at 9:30PM UK, 10:30PM Central Europe, 5:30PM 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.

Update 26 Feb: It's now available on YouTube. I had streaming problems so I ended up stopping and restarting the stream - looks a little messy on Twitch, but the YouTube version is largely glitch-free.

16Feb/2014

Phase Two

At Rezzed in 2016, I dabbled with a game called Vignettes, which I described as “a Vectorpark game not made by Vectorpark.” It was simple but genius: rotate object in 3D space until its silhouette matches the silhouette of another object – into which it then transforms. And repeat to find more objects. It was a little rough around the edges, being an early build, but intriguing.

Not intriguing enough for me to snap it up when it came out on mobile in 2017. Nor desktop last year. My imagination couldn’t fill in a particularly daunting blank: what else could there be except rotating objects into objects ad infinitum?

Unable to answer this question, I waited two years before trying Vignettes (Skeleton Business, 2017). And that’s a shame.

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31Jan/2012

Discussion: Selling the Inscrutable

Welcome to the January newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

I’m reminded of a short discussion I had with Jake Birkett at Rezzed when I mentioned how exciting it had been to see so much local multiplayer on show. Birkett couldn’t understand the surge of local multiplayer games because it was such a tricky commercial prospect. If you wanted to forge a successful indie business, why would you get into local multiplayer?

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

26Jan/2013

Save Everybody


“He’s here! Alpha level, near the service shaft!” came Neil’s distorted voice through the walkie-talkie. Neil was one of the sharpest guns in SubSec but it was unlikely he could take down the Orange Ghost alone.

Sonia was on Delta, a full minute away from Neil if she sprinted up three levels of stairwell. She could take the service elevator but it was a sluggish thing designed to shift fragile equipment. Someone had mentioned getting a fast elevator installed to relocate security in a time of crisis. Money doesn’t grow on trees, they had been told. At least not until the city-in-progress had been completed.

Gunfire crackled over the walkie-talkie... and then it went dead. That probably went for Neil too. Oh God. That SubSec elevator had been Neil’s idea.

Sonia spotted the service elevator was now on its way down from where Neil was killed. She had a hunch who was inside.

She took up position behind a pillar opposite the elevator, aiming her handgun at the doors. Sweating, she watched the floor indicator. Beta. Gamma. Delta. Ping. The doors opened with a grunt.

There he was. The strange man in his orange exoskeleton covered in alien writing. The bastard who had slowly been killing his way through the other waystations and offices across the globe, searching for the underwater city-in-progress. He looked uncertainly out of the elevator, raising an assault rifle that had seen better days.

Sonia fired three times. Two hit the chest plate of the Orange Ghost's exoskeleton, but the third found his forehead. He slumped against the wall and slid down. His rifle clattered on the floor.

Sonia ran over to make sure he was dead, just as a small silver display on the Orange Ghost’s left arm flickered. Some text appeared. It looked like QUICK 10 AD? Or maybe LOAD? She leaned down to

Sonia spotted the service elevator was now on its way down from where Neil was killed. She had a hunch who was inside.

She took up position behind a pillar opposite the elevator, aiming her handgun at the doors. Sweating, she watched the floor indicator. Beta. Gamma. Delta. Ping. The doors opened with a grunt.

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Filed under: Longform 13 Comments
16Jan/2031

Use of Weapons

This is the second in a series of short musings on Control. The first was Behind the Poster.

There will be spoilers.

The first boss battle is with a floating person called Alberto Tommasi. Al pushed me to the brink. I considered quitting Control, despite the hefty sum I had exchanged for it.

Boss battles are often exercises in choreography where you have to improvise your footsteps against a partner who knows every move. Learning to dance through bruises and blood. Al would float around, throw a rock at Jesse and she would always get it in the face. The rocks came quicker than I could make Jesse dodge. After a couple of hits Jesse was ex-Jesse.

And then I watched the loading screen for two minutes.

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8Jan/207

A Donation for The Button

What can I say about Interactivity: The Interactive Experience (Aetheric Games, 2019) outside of its unbearably long name and its unrealistically shiny environment powered by Unreal?

Interactivity belongs to that category of “games about games” and is reminiscent of The Stanley Parable (Wreden & Pugh, 2013). At first I thought it was a little bit too Stanley, but it charts its own course. Frustrating in places but the frustration is also sometimes the point. I liked it.

It’s quite short but I’m about to spoil it with extreme prejudice - and by that, I mean spoil it to commercial death - so you should go check it out if you want to draw your own opinions first.

Advance ye not who fear the spoiler.

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31Dec/1921

Discussion: Filter Bubble

Welcome to the December newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

In a strange moment of synchronicity, this troubling thought came to me while I was on a business trip to New York. I realised, unusually, that I could hear the world.

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

23Dec/194

Twilight’s Last Gaming 2019/4: Stephen’s Sausage Roll

I don't do Game of the Year, but I can do the games I enjoyed the most this year. This is the final of four.

I began adapting The Ouroboros Sequence into a book earlier this year - this seemed like a project I could complete more quickly than The Weapons of Progress. However, Ouroboros was a journey to a destination unknown and attempting to reformulate it as a book cast a harsh light onto some of its gaps. One of these was Stephen’s Sausage Roll (Increpare Games, 2016) a game drizzled with sausage hype yet there were plenty of people who got stuck and downed tools. I had played it twice before but never made great progress, having little success in training the puzzle monkey in my brain to understand its architecture.

But I knew what to do as Ouroboros had delivered a terrible revelation. I needed to start Stephen's Sausage Roll again from the very beginning, and approach it with a mindful attitude, engaging instead of just trying to finish it. That completionist drive is a terrible mindset for a puzzle game. If you always focus on the horizon, you'll find yourself tripping over every crack in the broken pavement, every gnarled tree root bursting from the ground.

This project started on August 30 and within two days I had swept through the first two "stages" of Stephen's Sausage Roll. I was heartened and somewhat amazed that puzzle monkey brain seemed to understand the mechanics so well; I was building from first principles not recalling solutions. My old nemesis, The Great Tower, gave me some pause, but I ploughed through it a second time and I was ready for virgin territory: the third, snowy stage.

Naturally, progress slowed but was constant and my determination never faltered. In time, I made it to the fourth stage and Electron Dance reader Matt W kept submitting ROT13 commentary at me on random threads. I was never alone. Eyes were always watching.

I found Stephen's Sausage Roll fascinating. The mechanics were, in theory, simple, but full of terrifying nuances that you needed to master to stand a chance of defeating it. I dabbled in Monte Carlo - brute force exploration - at times such as in brainbleed levels like Crunchy Leaves, but mostly I felt like I solved them. It made me feel like a winner.

Then: the fifth stage. It was crawling with puzzles. With so many sausage mechanics now on the table, I suspected Stephen's Sausage Roll would soon run out of road. The end was nigh.

You absolute fool.

The crucial level, around which the entire game pivots and becomes something else, is an innocuous seemingly-impossible level called Dead End. It contains a secret that is so unexpected and deliriously incredible that I laughed out loud. It's a bit like "that secret" in The Witness but... more profound in some ways?

Nothing was ever the same again after that. Sure, I finished the game. But nothing was ever the same again after that.

Stephen's Sausage Roll is available from Steam or Humble for PC, Mac or Linux.