I just finished playing The Swapper by Facepalm Games this morning. It hit me just right. Each individual piece of the game is great, and they fit together so well.

To start with, the art style is incredible. Everything is textured like… faded rocks? Bones of some sort? Clay? Little hand-made aluminum models? It’s totally unique and compelling. I wanted to touch it. There’s some great architecture in the game, too. It’s set in a space station, and the vistas you get out the windows into the world beyond are worth stopping and watching as you make your way from puzzle to puzzle. Just a gorgeous game of asteroids, air locks, and mood lighting.

A lonely astronaut exploring a cavern

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Camouflage Exhibit Idea

An idea for adding a simple interactive piece to a science-museum exhibit about camouflage:

A touchscreen device displays an illustrated snapshot of a biome – woods, jungle, coral reef, etc. It’s close-up enough to see patterns on individual leaves, tree bark, rocks, and some animals.

Coral reef scene from Finding Nemo


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New Political Game! Initial Thoughts

Way back in May at GLS11, I attended a workshop on designing educational collectible card games run by Selen Turkay. I don’t play CCGs so I didn’t have much experience to draw on, but the word “card” brought to mind House of Cards, and suddenly I was very excited. Everything about that show seemed to me perfect for a board game. There’s the evocative setting of back rooms in swank D.C. hotels, the mad plotting to stay one step ahead of your competitors in the race for power, and of course, a healthy dose of backstabbing. Delicious, delicious backstabbing. The seeds for a political thriller board game were planted.

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Exquisite Corpse Gaming

As a twice-daily bus rider, I listen to a lot of podcasts. A new one that I’m enjoying and getting smarter from is Sirlin on Game Design. On Episode 2, the hosts talked about some design problems facing co-op boardgames – mainly how difficult it is for a purely co-op game (that is, one without separate side goals for the players) to prevent one player from dominating guiding the strategy of the whole group.

One satisfying solution mentioned for these games was going for real-time gameplay instead of turn-based. It’s just too hard to suggest what your teammate should be doing when you’ve got your own engrossing problem to solve at the same time. I’ve really enjoyed the real-time board games I’ve played, and when I was talking about this over dinner with my partner, she brought up the party game “Exquisite Corpse.” Continue reading

Beginning to Design

Here at the Center, I’ve been simultaneously wrapping up one game and starting another. While my first game here was targeted for 3rd and 4th graders about to enter the social media world, this next project is a little more adult. I’m currently designing a game aimed at small business professionals (and people who like playing as some sort of tycoon / mogul / lemonade empress). The game is still very much in the brainstorm phase, and here are a few things I’m trying to keep in mind as I move forward:

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Post-Vacation Goals

I agree. And since I just returned from a nice long vacation, am on the last legs of a project, and have transitioned from contract to full-time employee, now seems like a good time to review how I’ve been working and set some goals for how I want to work moving forward. Continue reading