Music! (and other updates)


I haven’t posted recently (soorrryyyy!): I was either rushed off my feet or hard at work on Spinnortality. Here are some things I’ve done!

  • The game has music now, thanks to the very talented Anthony Kroytor of City Nights Tracks! We’ve decided to go with some eerie, drone-y synth music; different music layers fade in or out depending on what the player is doing. We’ve got a few tracks in-game and it seems to work pretty nicely! After wading through hours of not-quite-right Creative Commons music it’s such a relief to have Anthony on board: each piece he produces brings a different mood or ambience to the game, and they’re all a perfect fit for the kind of mood I want to create.

  • Re. game design, different products now violate different laws, so to launch high-level products you need to bend the laws of each nation you launch it in. I mentioned this last time but it’s now fully implemented.
  • Corpornations are now slightly better organised and no longer game-breaking: a corpornation now generates a certain amount of income each turn; the more shares of it you own, the bigger your share of the income. Also, the majority shareholder is the only one who can change the laws. These still need more work but I’m getting there.

A corpornation. This one was founded by the player so they have loads of shares (see the pie-chart at the top left). The player has also sold a few shares to raise cash, which have been picked up by the blue, purple and green corporations.

  • You now have an estimated death-date. Some research can extend your life by 5 or 10 years, and some research allows you to transfer your consciousness into a new body. For an earth-shattering fee, of course.
  • The media system is now totally rewritten. Originally there was this Byzantine system where you’d have, say, 5% influence over a nation’s media and occasionally that would mysteriously do something maybe? Now it’s much clearer. You have a certain amount of media power in each nation. Your media power fills up a bar. When the bar gets full, you can change the nation’s culture by moving one culture slider one space. It’s not as subtle as the old system but it islot clearer, and that makes it completely worth the change.

Much better. Look at that bar. Everyone loves bars.

  • You can now found an NGO (basically a big charity) which allows you to spend money to raise the company’s public opinion. (Why yes, I am a cynical person.) You can also spend large amounts of money to make a nation more prosperous.

The player opens the PR window and selects “Job Creation”, which gains them public opinion over time and will also raise prosperity in one already-prosperous nation. They decide to raise prosperity in South America. The option below – “Assist developing nation” – does the same but for nations which are not very prosperous.

  • The game has goals! Some playtesters felt the game lacked direction, so I added three goal systems. You get short-term goals from the Board of Directors of your company, like “Break even” or “gain 3 influence in Russia”. These should keep you focused, and net you a nice little reward.
  • There are also medium-term goals which I’m calling “Visions” but I don’t like that name so eghhhhh… These are expensive, long-term projects with big payoffs: a tax haven that halves your taxes, or a global retail site (think Amazon) which generates money, or a media empire that slowly allows you to change the world’s culture.
  • There are also victory conditions, ie. long-term goals. They don’t do much but they’re there, at least.


  • I also learned how to extend classes (to which every programmer will scream about time you hobbyist!!!, which is fair) so I was able to rewrite the code for random events and streamline the system. Players won’t notice a difference but it means I can now write more complex random events/choices more easily, so yay!

That’s all for now! I’ll update again when I have more progress.


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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