Category Archives: Games

#GameAWeek Failure! “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT”

Check out unfinished failure: On the Difficulty of Being an ANT: The Interactive Version!

Last week and this week, I’ve been sort of stuck in a moment of nonproductivity with regard to the #gameaweek challenge that I’m doing with Ana, Dennis, Melissa, and Greg. Ana is super inspiring and still going strong and even wrote about her experiences in the ProfHacker column for The Chronicle of Higher Ed!

My moment of stuckage can be primarily blamed on two things. First, I’m making a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game with Inklewriter based on Latour’s dialog found in his book Reassembling the Social. It’s an interlude between chapters in the book and features a professor having a conversation with a student, and it’s called “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT.”

Continue reading #GameAWeek Failure! “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT”

#GameAWeek RPG Quest

This week’s game is a Twine-based game called RPG Quest: Legend Age.

Spoilers and reflections for this game and last week’s Stay Awake Little Kitty after the break.

Continue reading #GameAWeek RPG Quest

Stay Awake Little Kitty! #gameaweek

The game I made this week started out as one where you try to keep a student awake in class, but I watched a bunch of cat videos on YouTube last night…

Stay Awake Little Kitty!


Co-op Space Card Game prototype ready for download! #gameaweek

I did it! I finished a set of print-n-play files for the Co-op Space Card Game I’m making!

Co-op Space Card Game.prototype rules (PDF)

Co-op Space Card Game.print n play prototype (PDF) FIXED! (There was a printer set up error… print Actual Size on 8.5×11 in. paper)

The art is NOT final. Nor are the rules, really…

Co-op Space Card Game prototype cards

Continue reading Co-op Space Card Game prototype ready for download! #gameaweek

#gameaweek moar card gamez

This week continued to see some great #gameaweek games from Ana, Dennis, Melissa, and, new to the mix, Greg Koeser. It’s astonishing how much we’re providing commentary for academia. So far we’ve seen my Flappy Bird clone that shows the futility of trying to succeed as an academic, Ana’s work/life balance game that also seems pretty futile last week and now this week her IF game about grief but also about getting tenure, Dennis’s IRB approval game that is yet another sisyphean experience. Melissa created an old-school first-person RPG, similar to the old Wizardrys, except that it’s sort of mashed up with Desktop Dungeon in that you need to explore and kill things in a certain order like a puzzle game. Greg’s entry is a card game! It uses standard decks of cards and features bidding and winning cards using other cards.

I continued to work on the Space 4X Co-op Card Game ^TM.

Continue reading #gameaweek moar card gamez

#GameAWeek Game Two Extended

I’ve been at GDC this week and haven’t really had time to work on a new game. I did get a chance to revise the rules for the Space 4X Co-op Card Game, though.

space 4x co-op card game sketch

It’s probably a little incomprehensible without the actual cards in hand to refer to, but here the latest version:

Continue reading #GameAWeek Game Two Extended

#GameAWeek Challenge Game Two: Space 4X Co-op Card Game

This is really long; I apologize. What started as a write-up for the second game in the #GameAWeek challenge that I’m doing with awesome Ana Salter, Melissa Peterson, and Dennis Ramirez (and soon Nick Lalone!) has turned into a monster of a post as I try to cobble together my memory for this card game I’ve been developing off and on for about 9 months now (yes, I know I cheated!).

Anyway, go read their reflections about their second games! Ana’s chilling My Town, Melissa’s clever merging of the crafting genre with the one room genre Solution, and Dennis’s retro-adventure game Time Enough to Travel. They’re also much better at writing reflections on each others’ work, sorry.

Continue reading #GameAWeek Challenge Game Two: Space 4X Co-op Card Game

A #gameaweek challenge! Game One: The Unflappable Academic (and his hoverboard)

A little over a week ago, I saw and tweeted Adriel Wallick’s ( @MsMinotaur ) debrief post on IndieGames about how she did a game a week, she in turn inspired by Rami Ismail’s Gamasutra post. I just thought it was really cool and inspiring.

Ana Salter retweeted and mentioned that she’d love to give it a go. I replied “I’m in!” and she quickly invited others. So, right now we’ve got:

The others have already written reflections about their games, so go read about Ana’s Nowhere, Dennis’s Blackjack framework, and Melissa’s Weather Worker!

The game I made is The Unflappable Academic (and his hoverboard).

Continue reading A #gameaweek challenge! Game One: The Unflappable Academic (and his hoverboard)

Reed Game Jam was great!

For most of August, I led an extended game jam, a slow jam, at Reed College, for students and alums. It was modeled after a maker space where participants could drop in when they could, to accommodate those who had to work day jobs.

It was great! And… enlightening!

One thing I learned is that 3 weeks of unstructured slow jamming is about the same as a 48-hour traditional, little-sleep game jam. The amount of work and the completeness of a project are about the same. One big difference is that you get a lot more playtesting iterations in, though, so what you have can be more balanced, if not necessarily more complete…

I think next year we should provide a little more structure, set definite goals, etc.

This year, we ended up with 7 projects in various states:

  • a tight economic boardgame designed by Joe Wasserman about managing a barbershop. Yes, a barbershop. I would buy this in a heartbeat. It is very, very good.
  • a deck building, sort of area control, combat card game, inspired by Eminent Domain *and* Cosmic Encounter. Wow.
  • a space 4x (minus 1 x) co-op card game. This one is mine, and I’m still working on it. Hoping to launch a Kickstarter sometime soonish.
  • a push-your-luck dice game inspired by Kerbal Space Program, about the early rush to space during the Cold War.
  • a strategy roguelike-like, inspired by Small World, etc.
  • a platformer based on The Faerie Queene
  • a vector and momentum game about mobsters fighting on ice. Awesome concept.

There’s probably going to be two or three Kickstarter projects emerging from last month, eventually, so I’ll be sure to provide status updates when I can.


The Tragedy of the Commons: A Card Game Prototype

The Tragedy of the Commons

A Card Game Prototype by Mark Chen

version 0.1: April 23, 2013

4 players, 15 minutes


Use a standard playing deck. Each pip is one cow.

Each player gets one suit.

Take the face cards and jokers out.


Discard 3 random ones.

Start player is the last to visit a farm.

In turn, draw top card and decide whether to place it in the common pasture or to place it in private pasture. Place cards face down.

Up to 20 cows can be placed in private pasture.

Common pasture can only hold 60 cows before it is full.

[Designer note: Either this or maybe instead the common pasture can only hold 20 cows but is reset each round. Either way, the numbers probably need tweaking.]

Once all cows have been allocated, reveal them and see if the common pasture went over 60 cows [Note: or 20 if using the round limit instead of game limit]. If so, it has become full and all the cows on it from the current round have run away.

The next round starts, but the start player rotates.

[Because players go in order, earlier players can bluff about the number of cows they placed in either their private or the common pasture. It’s predicted that earlier players will use the common pasture while last player may lean towards using his or her private pasture.]

Optional rules:

  • Bonus 10 points for any player who places 4 or more cards into private pasture. [This hopefully encourages risk taking with the common pasture. Does one play it safe by throwing his or her high cards into a private pasture, lowering the risk that the common will go bust? Or does the player go for quantity of cards for bonus points?]

  • Bonus 10 points for any player who places 6 or more cards in the common pasture. [Again, this rule is meant to encourage players to take risks with the common pasture.]

  • Include the face cards. They are worth 0 cows. Players play 10 rounds instead of 7.. [This would potentially increase bluffing.]


  • What if each suit had 2 1s, 2 2s, etc. up til 5s. Then lower the private and common limits to 10 and 30 maybe…

  • If this works, start tweaking the deck, perhaps adding suits, etc. and retheme with art.

  • Could scale with fewer or more players: Common pasture holds (15 x number of players) worth of cows.

  • A solo game probably be made where a dummy player is set up and the soloist just draws a random card from the dummy player to place in the common pasture each turn.