Monthly Archives: July 2011

Many people have asked me -- that is, I have been asked -- that is, Jmac asked me last weekend -- anyway, this iOS software patent situation. What do I think?

Continue reading That crazy software patent situation.
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On hosting curated game nights

RamonaI have always loved presenting films to my friends. One of my local pals held a weekly movie night at their apartment for many years, and my favorite such events were those when I brought the disc. Even though my name wasn’t on the work, I still felt connected to it to the point of personal pride, knowing that I was the agency through which my friends got to discover this thing I admired. (Putting aside whether or not they agreed with me.)

I recently launched an event I’d been meaning to do for a long time: something like these movie nights, except for videogames. That is, rather than just inviting friends over to fart around in Smash Bros for a couple of hours or whatnot, we’d gather to play, observe, and discuss a particular game I consider noteworthy apart from its ability to confer a few moments’ diversion.

The notion to do this has been cooking in my head for a while.

Continue reading On hosting curated game nights.
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Myst for the classroom?

With little fanfare, this press release appeared yesterday:

idoodlesoftware inc., an education software company offering innovative solutions to bridge the gap between traditional and digital learning, announced that it has signed an exclusive, global licensing agreement with Cyan Worlds, Inc. to bring the award winning MYST franchise, and other titles, to the classroom.


"Since the founding of Cyan Worlds over 24 years ago, we have always believed that the use of digital games in the classroom was a way to connect to students who are digital natives", said Rand Miller, Chief Executive Officer of Cyan Worlds Inc. "We are excited to see our portfolio being utilized in an innovative and rewarding way and believe that the products that are under development by idoodlesoftware will revolutionize the way students learn."

idoodlesoftware is currently developing several new products based on the Cyan portfolio, which will be released in the near future.

(-- idoodlesoftware press release, July 12, 2011)

There's no detail on the company's web site -- just a splash image saying "My MYST for the classroom".

Hard to say what this will look like, but it's probably good news for Cyan.

(Thanks to Eleri for the pointer.)

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Try the two-rows Ascension variant

The next time you play a non-digital edition of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (or any of its followup titles), give this simple variant a whirl. My local Ascension-fan friends taught me the game this way, in fact; I tend to agree that it makes the game more interesting, without wandering far from the core ruleset.

Continue reading Try the two-rows Ascension variant.
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Origins 2011: Fighting monsters through deckbuilding

DeckbuildingAs I wrote earlier, I hadn’t attended the Origins Game Fair (or any tabletop-focused game expo) since 2006, so I suspect that my shouting Holy grog, so many deck-building games! will sound a year or two out of sync with the forefront of game news. But I’m shouting it anyway. To my eye, Dominion-style deckbuilders seemed far and away the most prominent genre represented among new-and-newish games on display last month in Columbus.

I played no fewer than four new (or at least new-to-me) deckbuilders, and that still left a handful unplayed. The unifying theme among the whole field seems to be “Gee, Dominion doesn’t have any hit points or leveling up or monster-killin’, so clearly we can compete with it by adding all that stuff, because it’s awesome.” I’d argue that that’s rather missing the point of Dominion’s delicious rules elegance, and after playing a few, I find myself standing by that notion.

Which is not at all to say that these newer games are not worth playing. Allow me to now inevitably and at great length share my impressions of them with you!

Continue reading Origins 2011: Fighting monsters through deckbuilding.
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Ascension polish

Jmac referred to UI issues in this morning's post about Ascension for iPad. I have indeed been swearing and muttering about the UI (as I play incessantly). But don't get your hopes up for another tirade of designerly bile. This isn't the sort of bad UI caused by being an idiot, and then patching the patches on the patches until the result sinks into its own mire. Ascension just isn't right. It can be made right.

I rather assume that Incinerator Studios knows they have lobby issues, and decided to ship something rather than delay the project for a complete lobby rewrite. Nonetheless, for the sake of my own serenity, I will run through the diagnosis.

Continue reading Ascension polish.
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Descending beneath Ascension's surface

Tribute day3While I have a half-written post about my Origins 2011 adventures, I must defer it to address instead recent iOS adaptation of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. I’ve been playing an awful lot of Ascension (originally designed and published for the tabletop by Gary Games, iOS version by Incinerator Studios), and planned to write about it anyway. But it won priority in the wee hours earlier this week when I discovered myself hallucinating my way through a game. Only several moves in did I realize that I was lying on my side in bed, staring at a wall in the dark.

I did in fact enjoy a very real game just hours before that, sitting on Cambridge’s riverside esplanade with several excellent friends, passing my iPad around while we waited for Boston’s Independence Day fireworks to start. And while memories of a good game session have often rolled around in my head for hours after playing, I don’t recall the last time my subconscious mind blustered in and demanded to watch the tapes in full as soon as my head hit the pillow. So, something’s going on here.

Continue reading Descending beneath Ascension's surface.
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