*Thank you again for supporting us on Patreon - your support is genuinely keeping this site going. Unfortunately we suffered a bit of a Patreon harrowing this month. It was anticipated, expected and under very sad circumstances but it does mean that we’re now only meeting our ‘survive short term’ goal. I’m hoping that will change before it becomes a problem, but if you have friends you think might be supportive of the project we'd really appreciate you giving them a nudge.
We’ll still be publishing a few ‘extra’ posts this month anyway, just because we were at the UKGE and as such we were going to be writing them regardless.
But enough of that! Let’s get to our roundup!
Thanks to you last month…
Because we met our funding goal last month I took the time to write up some more human readable (I hope) versions of the academic papers we wrote published about Meeple Like Us. These wouldn’t have been written without your generous support, so thank you very much for that. The posts are:
The first of these is essentially a ‘do it yourself’ kit for doing the kind of teardowns we write for the site. The second is the set of results from the project at the time of its submission for publication - as you might imagine, it’s already out of date. I also wrote some backend software to do real-time graph results of MLU results, The body of the second post incorporates them so you can see how they change as time goes by.
It’s great if you’re a data nerd, honestly.
Meeple Like Us Roundup
As we now do every month, we started off by doing our highlight of great content in tabletop gaming - in this case, it’s April. I really like being able to record these things as I encounter them, and I suspect at the end of the year it’s going to make another interesting post where I select the best of the best as an annual roundup. In the meantime though, even on a month by month basis, I’m struck by just how good we have it.
We took a look at the very popular Clank! and its accessibility. We didn’t much like Clank the first time we played it. Or the second time. Or the third! But the fourth time… well, it turns out that it only really works if you’re playing with people who prefer winning big over simply winning.
We also looked at the rather disappointing HMS Dolores and spent most of the review talking about the Prisoners Dilemma and why it doesn’t really work within the setup or framing of the game. I always feel that we need to work harder for negative reviews because it’s not enough to say ‘I didn’t like it’. You have to explain why, and that is often difficult because it’s hard to articulate. It’s a lot easier for the accessibility teardown because it’s structured.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong straddles May and June so it only got its review this month. I like to think of this as CSI: Dixit. It’s about as great a simulator of workplace incompetence and passive aggression as I could hope for and we liked it an awful lot.
In advance of the UKGE, where we did a seminar on game accessibility, we also posted up our advice for people planning to attend for the first time. This would almost certainly be our advice for any convention but we’ve only been to UKGE and a few smaller ones so I wouldn’t like to claim more than the evidence can bear. Worth considering though if you read our coverage of UKGE last year and wondered about our Lessons Learned.
We wrote up a Discord bot because we had the API already written up and thought 'why not'. You might want to use it if you're running a channel of your own.
Well, here’s a depressing thing - I don’t think I watched a single new movie in May, That’s exam and assessment season and as such I spend most of it frantically scribbling on papers and trying to find submissions that students claim they sent but never did. So instead of talking about my favourite movies of the month I’m going to say ‘Have you seen the Adventures of Mark Twain? Go see that. It is MAGICAL’. I have been a lover of this movie since I was eight years old and it has held up really well.
Not much of this either unfortunately! I’ve been rewatching Brooklyn 99 because it came so close to being cancelled that it made me very protective of this wonderful show. It was something I never expected to like - I put it on because I was at a loose end one night. Like a lot of Michael Schur shows it takes a bit of time to really get going but when it does it is awesome. It’s been saved from cancellation but it could be safer if we all kept on watching it all the time! Give up your jobs, just watch. Never stop watching.
I’ve also been idly rewatching Friends during quiet moments - having it on in the background while I do other things. I don’t know if anyone realises this… no, listen… but the friends… seriously, hear me out… the friends are all awful people. I’m now at the point in the series where they meet, befriend, betray and destroy Emily within the course of about 12 episodes. She was latter ‘reinterpreted’ in the series as being a paranoid, manipulative and emotionally unstable monster but she is actually pretty reasonable and forgiving in how she responds to what Ross does to her.
You dodged a bullet there, Emily.
The Terry Pratchett love affair continues. I finished Lords and Ladies and Men at Arms this month and they are every bit as good as I remember. In fact, Lords and Ladies is much better than I remember because I seem to have a memory blackspot as far as that one is concerned. I always remember it being ‘basically fine’ and then when I read it I remember ‘Right, it’s actually awesome’ and then I forget that in mere days. I can use this as a reminder to myself for the future - MICHAEL, LORDS AND LADIES IS A BETTER BOOK THAN YOU REMEMBER. ALSO, GET MILK.
I also read Geoff Englestein’s GameTek: The Math and Science of Gaming - a series of short essays on maths, psychology and game design. Unfortunately it’s very much not written for me. It’s a series of very simple introductions to very common concepts and while I’m sure it’s great for newbies I think if you’ve read a couple of popular psychology books in your time you’d find there’s little in there that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. I would probably direct people towards some of the work of Dan Arielly and Daniel Kahneman. Start with Predictably Irrational and Thinking Fast and Slow. I didn’t read those this month but they’re meatier and closer to the primary literature . They’ll take you farther than GameTek will at least as far as psychology goes.
Remember how I said I found Breath of the Wild fun but very frustrating? Turns out that didn’t stop me from playing it even when I had completed the main quest. I still find myself simply exploring Hyrule and its hidden mysteries. There is no game I have ever played that has been quite so diligent in offering rewards for a spirit of adventure. It’s not even that the rewards are great, merely they are recognition for your efforts. I like that a lot.
I haven’t had much of a chance to play it, but Cultist Simulator was released at the end of the month and it’s the game I have been most excited for this year. It’s a text driven narrative game of going slowly insane in the founding of your own obsessive cult. Mostly I spend my time getting fired and then dreading myself to death but I’m very keen to explore more over the course of this month.
I also bought the mobile port of Game Dev Tycoon and have yet again fallen into a rabbit hole of repetitive, unsatisfying nonsense that is somehow one of the most addictive things I ever do. I will never learn.