Spinnortality updates

Spinnortality is going pretty well! Here’s what I’ve done recently:

  • The research tree is done for now. If I realise there aren’t enough branches later on I’ll add to it, but it’s good enough for the moment.
  • You now receive “decision” emails. Functionally these are just messages with choices at the end: “An opportunity has arisen! Should we take it, or ignore it?” They’re a bit basic right now but I want to make them more complex and allow for more expressive, interesting decision-making down the road.


  • A big one: each nation now has a legal system! There are a number of laws – for taxation, genetic research, privacy etc. – and each nation has a law value going from “None” to “Max”. You can now bribe (ahem, “donate to”) political parties and gain favour and influence over them; you can then spend that favour by influencing them to change the laws. This is important since, up to now, there was functionally no reason why you would bribe politicians. Eventually I want to link these laws with whether or not you can launch products in those countries.


  • Oh, if a nation collapses into anarchy now, you can impose order on it by spending military connections on it. When the nation emerges from its state of conflict, you will be holding the reigns of power. (If it’s a democracy or one-party state you’ll control the leading party.) One fun result is that if you decide to found a corpornation with this ability you’ll emerge holding 100% of the nation’s shares, which you can then sell for massive profits. It’s hugely overpowered right now but I kind of like that you can do that.


There have been some other tweaks too, of course. You can now see income breakdown by nation and by product, for example. Handy stuff like that.

One problem I’m grappling with is that $100m at the start of the game is a HUGE amount, but $100m once you get your empire up and running is a drop in the bucket. I could just scale all in-game costs with player income (eg. not “This costs $20m” but “This costs 5% of your average income”) but I don’t want to do that with all costs since it’ll make players feel like they aren’t making progress. Hm.

And look, I made the globe all neat and stuff!



Sidequests and other distractions: the erosion of meaning in CRPG quests

[Note: I wrote this a while ago and forgot to publish it. I still think it’s quite interesting, so here we go!]

What is a quest?

A thing to get distracted from.

We’ve all been there, whether the game du jour was a Fallout, an Elder Scroll or an Assassin’s Creed, where icons dot the map like tempting candy – or pepper it like buckshot. Replaying Knights of the Old Republic recently I received an important quest: investigate an ominous grove infested with dark energy, a focus of evil drawing things to the dark side. Surely it should have been my number one priority? But I wasn’t at all surprised that it was literally the last thing I did – after working through everything else on my to-do list.

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Twenty Dollar Gaming – and a thank you!

First up, thank you to everyone who’s played (and especially bought) Masques and Murder! Your support is amazing! Today we passed both the 1000 downloads and 100 purchases milestones.

That won’t sound like much to the Jonathan Blows among you, but this is a huge deal for me: although I’ve been making games for a few years now, none of them have been played by this many people, and none made any money. Since the game is available to download for free I honestly didn’t think anyone would pay; the fact so many have actually parted with money for something I made still boggles my mind. It’s also really helpful right now since funds have been low: now I don’t have to worry about rent! Hooray! Thank you everyone.🙂

But wait, there’s more! I’ve also started a new project: a podcast with friend and fellow game-enthusiast Andy Noelker.

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Comfort Food

Games are beautiful and amazing and art and all that shit. I truly believe this. I think the videogame is the artform of the 21st century, like the movie was the artform of the 20th. (Let’s just go with that grand, sweeping narrative, shall we? Yes, it’s comforting and I want that simplicity right now.)

But sometimes you don’t want The Seventh Seal or Citizen Kane. Sometimes you want to huddle up with a bowl of popcorn and watch, I don’t know, Buffy.

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The world is a found object, and we are imperfect archeologists

So I decided to get on TIGsource in a proper way. I posted on there years ago but drifted away. This time, though, I made a post about “Masques and Murder!” So I’m on there now, for realsies.

On my jaunt I stumbled upon “Ultima Ratio Regum”. I’m a pretentious twit, so I know this is Latin for “The Final Argument of Kings”, and that this was proudly engraved on the elaborate barrels of Renaissance cannons. (Renaissance princes were also, I think, pretentious twits.) So I click it, because this is totally my thing.

I’m now a little bit obsessed with this game.

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