I always wanted to make games, but not really. That is, I like “game design.” That is, my imagination far exceeds my persistence or diligence. That is, monsters like Unreal and the Web always frightened me and I was weak of heart.

And even 1980s Bill Gates would say my sense of design and UI aesthetics was awful.

So I don’t make games, I just play them. Sometimes.

The Good

My favorites tend to be in the creative sandbox genre—building, optimization, planning, that kind of thing1. Games that focus on establishing the rules of some system, not necessarily goals or solutions—those are largely left for the player to explore, set their own goals, find their own creative solutions, and so forth.

Factorio, for example, is probably one of the most perfect games ever made in my opinion.

The Ugly Clever

Indie puzzle games is another big favorite. One of the big ones being The Witness, by the legendary naysayer Jon Blow2.

But if you want a pro tip, then Simon Tatham’s Puzzle Pack is available for (at least) Android, and it is, in my opinion, the best DIVIDE-BY-ZERO value you can get in a single app.

The Bad

That said I also have an unhealthy amount of hours in grindy escape-games. Games you can play relentlessly, desperately, in order to escape the septic fire that is your life. Games that are endless logarithmic curves tucked away inside shiny slot-machines. I call these depression games.

Path of Exile is the best of its kind.

It’s easy to identify the three tiers of players in these games:

  • the ignorant casuals, just popping in for some relaxation. They’ve got shit to do, places to be, people to meet, children to raise. These are the invisible 99%, and nobody really cares about them except the financial department of the company that makes the game, who cares about them a lot.
  • the miserable middle-class: they don’t have anywhere to be, and prefer avoiding to meeting, so they can play a hundred times more. Yet for all their grind they never feel wealthy or efficient enough. They oscillate between arrogant elitism and jealousy, crippling insecurity, beset by extreme envy of those that have more than them. They’re fuelled by self-loathing, depression, and a thousand real life problems they’re anxiously avoiding. They have everything to prove. They’re the reason a community grows toxic, as the clinically depressed mind is one of extreme cynicism and constant, relentless negativity. They live and breathe depressive realism, cursed to see the cynical redpill “truth” behind the veil of blissfully ignorant bluepill lies that others are delude themselves with.
  • actually well-adjusted veteran players: people who can no-life with the best of them yet who are not motivated by misery, having nothing to prove. Valued community members. Among streamers and public figures specifically, these are the ones who will succeed in that space, so from the outside it will seem like the majority of no-lifers are in this category—even though they’re the 1% of the 1% of mental health. Their very existance fuels the middle class’ misery, because they’re the successful brothers their parents love more, they’re the colleague who quit and got a better job—just like that—while you’re left behind nursing your dying soul under phosphorescent lights, trapped in a cubicle you hate but are too afraid to leave.

Guess my category.

(Abstract) Board Games

In particular I’m a big fan of Go and used to play it a lot. I am or was around 1-dan to 4-dan depending on the ranking system used. Good enough to know I am bad.

It has inspired several programmatic stabs at making abstract game libraries or UIs for such, and I was fully immersed in Google’s machine learning campaign where they exploited Go as a platform for marketing their cloud computing3.

But more generally I think of these games as across three axes:

  • topology: usually a graph.
  • mechanics: how “pieces” interact with the graph and other pieces.
  • sequencing: the ordering of moves, the number of players, etc.

I’m a big fan of variations. That is, investigating what happens to a game when some core part of its mechanics or sequencing is changed. For example, Go where each player places two stones at a time is a very different game indeed. (A drastic change to its sequencing.) Yet Go played on a torus is still, essentially very Go-like (since all mechanics are retained and only the topology changed).

Notable fun games:

  • TwixT
  • Hex
  • Amazons


I’ve also made a ton of tiny things, not really worth mentioning. Maybe later.

Omstokk [wip]

Descramb [defunct]

Empathy Web [defunct]

Dual Snake


  1. More informally known as “autism games.”

  2. Who I heard is making his own Nim, how exciting. /snark

  3. Only to later betray it by naming their stupid programming language the same. As if the game of Go wasn’t hard enough to search for already. It should have been renamed Issue #9.