Final Kroenke: A Game About Stan Kroenke


Like many folks in St. Louis, I was pissed off by the NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke earlier this week. Losing the team, trashing the city, all that stuff. I thought about making a blog post but plenty of people have written rants that are better than anything I’d come up with.

So instead I made a game about it, Final Kroenke. It’s free and playable in your browser. It should even work on your phone but because of a lack of keyboard keys, a couple things can freeze the game: trying to use items on enemies or trying to use the “Money” or “Coaching” skills before you level up and learn them.



My Apparently Annual Top 10 Games of the Year List – 2015

Last year, I hopped on the internet end-of-the-year zeitgeist by making a top 10 games of 2014 post. I’m not sure how many people care about my opinion–and probably far fewer do now, seeing that I had a sports game at #1 and a visual novel at #2–but hey, why not do it again? #content

I played a lot of video games this year, which is nothing new, but I also released my first game and contributed significant dialog writing to another. I’ll be releasing my second game in a few weeks, and another visual novel in collaboration with Woodsy Studio in the late spring. I don’t know whether any of this makes my opinion more or less valid, but working on games has certainly informed and changed how I approach them. Which is weird, because this list is probably way less eclectic than last year’s.

The Annual Disclaimer: A shitload of video games came out in 2015. More games that I wanted to play than in any year I can remember. There’s a lot I still haven’t gotten around to playing that I could see making it on this list: SOMA, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, AC: Syndicate (yes), Axiom Verge, Nuclear Throne, and Pillars of Eternity, just to name a few off the top of my head.

I’m also leaving off MLB: The Show 16 to keep things interesting

And as usual, large gifs ahead.

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26 gy Update – Box Art and Trailer

A few months ago, I’d planned on releasing 26 gy by mid-December. It’s not out yet, so it’s update time.

A few things things kept me from my planned release. Jury duty and a brutal flu hit me at the same time and pushed me back. The closer my intended date got to Christmas, the more I wanted to wait a bit longer. 26 gy is hardly a holiday game and releasing while everyone is on vacation and playing big games sounds like a death sentence.

But here’s the good news! First up, I have official box art.


Now, granted, there isn’t going to be a boxed version of 26 gy. It will be up on my page and (with any greenlight luck) Steam at a later date. But, hey, the industry keeps calling it box art so here we are.

Second, I have a trailer featuring a bit of gameplay and some of the original music. No official date yet–testing could take one week or three and I’m not ready to commit–but I can say it will be released in JANUARY. And this time I mean it.

I’m also returning to this damn blog, which I’ve largely neglected over the last month. Not only was I trying to make up for lost time with 26 gy, I was playing a lot of Fallout and I let that take away from blog-time rather than dev-time. So even if you’re more interested in my jokes, baseball, or video games thoughts rather than a low-fi horror game, I’ll have stuff for you here!

Announcing My Next (Full) Game, 26 gy

So, now that The Closer: Game of the Year Edition is out (go play it!!!), and I’ve patched up all the major bugs that have been reported so far, what’s next? That’s a good question and, fortunately, I already have an answer for you. My next game is in a very early state, but far enough along that I plan to live demo it in a couple weeks and think it’s fair time to announce it, so here goes.


First off, this is not a follow-up to The Closer. I am going in a completely different direction with this project, eschewing wacky comedy for atmosphere and horror. But if you like the silly stuff and have no interest in anything else, don’t worry! I’ll still be doing dumb single-day projects like The Ascension of Randy Choate too. But that’s enough in the way of disclaimers.

Now I’m going to talk about 26 gy.

If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably heard me sing the praises of Final Fantasy VIII, relative to the Final Fantasy series and even jRPGs in general. I’ll write an overlong, in-depth post about this eventually but what I love about VIII is how it plays with the most fundamental gameplay loops of the RPG–earning experience points and leveling up. Killing monsters for XP is secretly counter-productive and grinding for levels can make the game almost unbeatable. It’s entirely bizarre and works with the (equally bizarre) themes of the game.

I wanted to do something similar.


26 gy is a horror/RPG in which you do not gain levels. You lose them. At the beginning of your game, your character suffers a lethal dose of neutron radiation which leaves them in the “walking ghost” phase of acute poisoning. She is going to die and cannot be saved, but for the moment she feels just fine.

Your character (there will be three options to start) is recruited to explore a mysterious labyrinth beneath the military base where the radiation accident occurred. You believe that this labyrinth is somehow connected to the accident and the experiments you were running when it occurred, so you agree to investigate. After all, you have nothing left to lose.


With every hour you are in the labyrinth (represented by one game minute) you lose a level. Your stats are decreased in kind, and you are one hour/minute closer to death. There is no extending the time limit, there is only descending deeper into the labyrinth so that you will learn as many of its secrets as possible before the radiation poisoning runs its course.

There’s more to the story–a  lot more, and I hope to make the narrative the major draw, since the gameplay systems are (intentionally) oppressive–but that’s all I’m going to say about it since I want players to discover the mysteries of the labyrinth and its monsters for themselves.

Monsters? Yes, unlike The Closer, this is an RPG. Right now, it uses the standard RPG Maker battle system (which is the early Dragon Quest battle system FWIW) but in the coming months I’ll be playing around with other options. Killing monsters earns currency, which can be exchanged for items or indulgences from the mysterious stranger who appears throughout the labyrinth. These will serve to offset the stats lost by the slow level drain.

26 gy is, though, above all a horror game. But not the kind full of jump scares and gore. The monster that is going to kill you isn’t hiding behind a corner, in a closet, or even really in the next random battle. It is the poison inside of you; there’s no finding it but there’s also no escaping it. The clock in the corner will always tell you how much time you have in the winding, unnatural dark hallways of the labyrinth.

Again, all of this is in a fairly nebulous stage. The art style–which I hope invokes the stark abstract nature of C64 and black-and-white PC games–is probably the only thing set in stone. I’m not much of an artist, so I gotta go as simple and abstract as possible.

Despite that, I wanted to get it out there. I work fast, and I expect 26 gy to be done by the holidays (what a cheerful holiday title) though I’m not sure when I’ll release it. But for now, if you happen to be in St. Louis and want to attend a video game convention, I’ll be demoing the early build of 26 gy at Pixelpop Fest.

And if you want to see my other stab at horror, check out my novella, Room 127 for an idea of how I handle more serious and grim subjects. I’d like to think I can do more than tell dumb jokes!

The Ascension of Randy Choate: An FMV Adventure

headerOver the last few months, I’ve used MLB: The Show to play the entire Cardinals lineup out of position, turned Tom Brady into a baseball player, and forced Matt Holliday to play an entire season at first base.

Next up was a smaller feat, which would affect only one player for one game: I was going to give left-handed reliever Randy Choate a start. But how to present this? A Randy Choate start would be barely long enough to warrant a video. So a few gifs, like before? Right?

Or how about a 90’s-style FMV video game you can play in your browser? Yeah, that sounds about right. Currently, it works in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, but not Firefox for some reason. I realize I’m trying to push HTML5 past what it’s probably intended to do so instability might be expected.

Go play The Ascension of Randy Choate: An FMV Adventure now!

Or, if you’re a firefox user, have trouble with the above link, and/or prefer to download games rather than play them in your browser, there is a windows/application version: Download Here


  • I used quick counts because otherwise some videos would have been (a) too long and (b) too large to stream
  • Pitch counts aren’t entirely reliable in quick count mode; the pitch counts on the “results” screen are based off the end of the inning rather than the beginning of the next
  • This was made in less than a day and is mostly ad-libbed, which I feel like is in the proper spirit of 90’s adventure games
  • Yes I know I have serial killer handwriting

In Defense of Very Slow Movement Speed: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Tuesday marked the release of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, the latest game from Dear Esther developers The Chinese Room. I’ve already finished it. If you’re into this sort of game–narrative heavy, puzzle-free adventure games, derogatorily called “walking simulators”–I can’t recommend it enough. It’s easily the best game I’ve played in the genre. Rapture is to Dear Esther what Journey is to Flower.
The entire game is the exploration of a suddenly-empty British village, finding clues and watching ethereal glimpses into the lives of the departed inhabitants. I won’t say any more, because uncovering the mystery (to the extent you can) is part of the reason to engage with the game. The last thing I’d want to do is spoil that.

If you don’t like this kind of game, at least check out the soundtrack on Spotify. It’s so good that there is a non-zero chance that I just love the soundtrack so much that it carried the entire game for me.

The release of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture was, unfortunately, burdened by a strange bit of controversy regarding the walking speed of your main character. Across the board, reviewers complained that movement was terribly slow–even those who enjoyed the game. IGN called it ” a rate that seems to actively disrespect our time and patience.” If you check out the review, you’ll see this is now redacted because, unbeknownst to everyone playing the game at first, there is an option to speed up walking. Allegedly, pressing R2 and holding it down will gradually ramp up walking speed. I did this on-and-off throughout the game and the effect isn’t dramatic (when it works, which is not indoors) so it’s not terribly relevant to the point I want to make.

You walk really slowly in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and that is okay.

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And Now Suddenly I Play MOBAs

There’s some not-very-different alternate reality where I’m obsessed with MOBA (Multiplay Online Battle Arena) games. I’m not just talking about being one of the folks who picked up League of Legends early on and got way into it; I’m talking about playing these damn games from the beginning. The real weird folks.

I played a lot of Starcraft back during the heyday of the original game. More importantly, I played and created a whole bunch of Starcraft custom maps. Including a map called Aeon of Strife. The Aeon of Strife Starcraft map is sometimes considered the very beginning of  MOBAs, though that discounts how many MOBA-like elements were present in the 1989 Megadrive title, Herzog Zwei (which is the progenitor of the entire Real Time Strategy genre). Aeon of Strife featured many of the elements that are now central to the MOBA–hero characters, RPG elements, three lanes, towers, creeps, and so on. But it wasn’t the highly competitive game we know today. Instead, it was purely cooperative–four humans against the AI.

Hey, you try and find a part of Herzog Zwei that makes sense in a gif

Hey, you try and find a part of Herzog Zwei that makes sense in a gif

Aeon of Strife gets the credit, but it was hardly the only map of its type. There were single-player RPG maps with similar objectives. Others had jungles and bosses, but lacked the typical three-lane structure. Some were simplified to make them easy to win. And a few were insanely difficult. I think I probably posted an RPG map of some sort to, which shouldn’t be a surprise. And it was probably terrible.

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Elite: Dangerous – Like 400 Billion Stars When All You Need is a Knife

When I last logged out of Elite: Dangerous, I had just finished my lengthy pilgrimage to Empire-controlled space. The trip took well over an hour, thanks to the need to re-fuel at space stations every few jumps. I’d left on this mission (foolishly) without equipping a fuel scoop and there weren’t many larger starports in the area, which meant I couldn’t modify my ship to make it better suited for long trips between uninhabited stars. If I wasn’t careful, and didn’t stop whenever I got the chance at the smaller outposts to top off the fuel tank, I knew I could end up trapped in a dead-end system with no way out. And I didn’t want to start over, even if that would let me plan the trip better in the first place.

Elite: Dangerous is a space sim, by the way. You pilot a ship, visit the stars, shoot other people visiting those same stars, and smuggle weapons parts. It’s the sort of game that should require a keyboard and crazy flight stick, but the developers managed to port it to the Xbox One. That’s where I’m playing it because of my PC gaming aversion that I’ve long chronicled on this blog.


There was one particular space station between Federation and Empire space that stands out to me.  I don’t remember the name, of course, because the places in Elite: Dangerous are all procedurally generated. Most of them don’t stick in your memory. They have generic-ass names like “Hoffman Enterprises” and “Cleve Hub.” The name of this station doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was the only populated place within jump distance as my fuel reserves dipped into the lower 1/4 of the gauge. I needed to stop somewhere–anywhere–and this place would have to do.

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Hey, This Is A Video Game: The Escapists

The Escapists is a game for people who like the early parts of Hitman levels: the careful planning, the testing of systems to see how far you can push them, and the way everything can go south in an instant if the wrong person sees you in the wrong part of the building at the wrong time. Unlike Hitman, however, there’s no second part of the level; when you fuck up and the guards turn hostile against you, it doesn’t turn into an action game. There’s no shootout because there are no guns (at least not in the first level) and there’s really no good way to fight the guards. You can get a drop on a guard with a weapon and knock him out, steal his keys. But once you’ve gone down that path you’re just a few minutes away from having all your items taken away and being stuck in solitary.

Each level of The Escapists drops you in a different clockwork prison. Your day is divided up between meals, work periods, exercise periods, and free time in which (depending on the prison) you can explore or improve your character. There are dozens of items to collect and combine into makeshift devices that can help you escape. Because escape is the only goal. You just have to get out, and the catch is that the game gives you no idea how you’re supposed to do that. Dig a hole? Cut through the fence? Hide in a box? Copy the right keys? For the most part, The Escapists doesn’t even tell you what’s possible, let alone the easiest path. The tutorial leads you through an escape where all the pieces are laid out for you (and one that is, I believe, impossible to put together yourself) and then throws you back in prison to figure out your own way to freedom.

If you go along with the other moving pieces of the clockwork world, you’ll never get anywhere. The items in your own cell aren’t enough to plot your escape, so you have to deviate from the path the game sets out for you–raid other inmates’ cells during exercise time, steal plastic utensils from the lunch room, use your job in the laundry room to nab a guard’s uniform. All while keeping your head down, because getting caught or beat up by another inmate takes away all your contraband items. And contraband items are the best items.

I escaped the first prison on my sixth day. I don’t want to say what I did, because figuring out how exactly I was going to get out without any preconceived notions was the best part of the game. But if you want to see me stumble around on the first day (which doesn’t spoil anything but a couple item combos) and get an idea of what the game looks like, I’ve done the 21st century thing and uploaded a video.

Ed Easley’s Wonderful Day: A Browser-Based Visual Novel


Today the Cardinals called up career minor-leaguer Ed Easley for what is sure to be a single-game appearance with Jon Jay returning this weekend. Rather than write a blog post about it, I made a short visual novel. You can play it in your browser or on your phone at this link: Ed Easley’s Wonderful Day

While you’re at it, if you like visual novels, go check out Serafina’s Crown on Steam Greenlight. I wrote about 1/3 of the dialog (the creator of SC is doing the music and portrait art for The Closer). It’s not my usual style, but if you like my video game/sports writing, give it an up-vote to speed up the greenlight process. Thanks!