Error message

Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /home/customer/www/

The Norwood Suite has the advantage of being recently released and fresh in my mind, but I’ve been in love with this universe since Off-Peak so it felt like coming home. Well okay, not my home. More like visiting the home of a musical, wordplay-loving friend who is much cooler than I am. They are saddled with labels like ‘weird’ or ‘surreal’, but to me these games seem heartfelt, and never weird for weird’s sake.

Games about exploring physical space, like Gone Home, have helped inspire a focus on objects and possessions. There’s something compelling about simply being able to open cupboards and see what’s inside. In The Norwood Suite, every object practically hums with potential meaning. A thousand questions just about why someone has a grappling hook and a cheese wheel in their car boot, or why there are so many skulls all over the place.


Comparisons: No Man's Sky and Miasmata

Posted by Cha

Comparisons is an occasional series of posts looking at links and contrasts between specific games. Contains spoilers for both Miasmata and No Man's Sky.

No Man's Sky and Miasmata are both niche games featuring exploration, cataloguing species and crafting products from collected resources. Beyond that, their approaches are radically different. Where No Man's Sky is huge beyond my ability to conceptualise it, Miasmata is contained to a single island. Where Miasmata is about mapping and growing to understand a place, NMS embraces a more nomadic existence.

But there's value in comparing these two exploration games. Perhaps the most compelling difference between NMS and Miasmata is whether focus is directed inwards or outwards.



Posted by Cha

This is a post about something I don't understand. So I'll skirt around a topic and probably never reach firm conclusions. You have been warned.

I do understand that how someone experiences a game is shaped by expectations. And whatever experiences people have are what they are -- I'm never going to say feelings aren't valid. But what I don't understand is where those expectations come from and why, at least among certain vocal communities, expectations seem to be getting narrower over time rather than broader. Even though the availability of a broad range of games has only improved.

Maybe it's easiest to start with an example that does make sense.


Mundus Vult Decipiti

Posted by Cha

The version of me who lives in Stardew Valley stood awkwardly in a corner as couples paired off for the springtime Flower Dance. I fidgeted and stared daggers at my crush's preferred dance partner. Clearly I needed to up my game.

In a life sim, building relationships becomes a mix of kindness coins and time management. I knew what I was signing up for if I wanted to start courting.

It's all part of the fantasy. Just like I can grow all the best crops, reel in the biggest fish and be the bravest adventurer in the land. I can have whatever I'm willing to work for, including friendship, love and sex (but almost always in that order).


Crosses All over the Dormitory

Posted by Cha

The first time I heard the song Crosses by José González I was driving home.

I don't like to drive but I had honours fieldwork. 2004 was a year of pushing through and doing whatever needed to be done. My journey would take me almost 200 km west of the city, where I could see miles of paddocks, and wind turbines just visible in the distance. I'd visit the sorts of places where other drivers always wave, and you need to put a wheel in the dirt to squeeze past. I felt more comfortable in those quiet rural areas, on bumpy or unsealed roads similar to the places where I first learnt to drive. But they always come with a dose of melancholy. It can get lonely out on the plains.