In Review – August 2020

Community Events and Projects

Yet another month where I’ve struggled with focus, and more specifically, with sitting my ass in the chair to write. Thank goodness for Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020! Although I didn’t do nearly as many prompts as some people, I posted four entries from the available prompts.

I also managed to complete (and write about) the single player story mode of Injustice: Gods Among Us for the Community Game Along. Although it didn’t get me jazzed about the fighting game genre, it was a fun way to spend a couple of evenings.

I took another set of turns for Long Live the Queen this month, and hoo boy, am I way in over my head at this point. Collectively, we’ve passed the 300 turn milestone, and I don’t expect it’ll go around too many more times, but at least we’re on track for victory. I think.

I actually put a lot of hours into SMITE this month (both on my own and with friends), but I found myself struggling to figure out how I wanted to write about the game. I started a couple of posts, but didn’t get very far. Hopefully, I’ll start to get all of that figured out in September.


I did lose most of a week this month to an expected (but suddenly rather urgent) home improvement project, so I didn’t do even a fraction of the other stuff I had planned on this month.

Other Gaming

I started out the month with Little Big Workshop, a game I had owned for awhile but hadn’t thought much about until it showed up in the August Humble Monthly. I played through the majority of the game twice, losing interest only after unlocking the final set of goals (but before completing them as they felt very anti-climatic).

shapez.io is another game I had picked up on a whim awhile back – I like the idea of logistics management games, but I usually don’t find them very compelling. shapez.io is slow – you actually need to produce a ridiculous quantity of items for each level after the first couple, but it kept me well engaged through most of its available levels, giving me a little more than 10 hours of playtime before I felt like it was starting to play more like an idle game than an active one.

I had been excited about Ruinarch since playing the demo back in June, and I picked it up as soon as it was available. It’s still in very Early Access – at this time, you cannot even save the game – but I’m enjoying it nonetheless, and look forward to seeing how it all comes together in time. I probably won’t even play through all the available scenarios before shelving it for a few months, but I have no regrets being an early supporter.

There were a couple of games I dabbled in this month that just didn’t do it for me. Book of Demons just felt dull – maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance, but nothing about it drew me back after a single short play session. Krystopia is a perfectly serviceable puzzle game with a mostly forgettable story frame, however, it relies heavily on the “connect up the circuit” type puzzles, which I don’t particularly enjoy.

Lastly, I played an embarrassingly large amount of the mobile game Match 3D on my phone. I tend to gravitate towards very repetitive, mechanically simple game experiences when I’m stressed out (or otherwise all caught up in my own head), and this absolutely fit the bill. I spent $3 to get rid of the ads in between each level, but otherwise, haven’t felt that the optional in-app purchases were even the slightest bit necessary to enjoy the game.


Indie Arena Booth 2020

I cannot resist a virtual game conference, although I tried to use some restraint this time around since the Indie Arena Booth at Gamescon was around for only a few short days.

I definitely spent the most time with To the Rescue!, but I also really liked the whole vibe of Lucifer Within Us. I also made sure to check out Gamedec since I had backed it on Kickstarter, but I spent just enough time with it to confirm that I’m far more interested in the complete experience than a short demo.

The rest of the demos I tried out didn’t really grab me, but I really am loving the resurgence of demos, even if they are only available for tiny windows of time.


All in all, August was a pretty intense month, even if I didn’t do much of … well, anything … that aligned with the goals I set at the beginning of the month. Still, I think I’d rather have a plan I don’t follow than no plan at all!

Indie Arena Booth 2020 – Lucifer Within Us Demo

I got interested in Lucifer Within Us because it intends to be a purely deductive detective game, without mini games or QTEs. You simple look around for evidence, take testimony, and find the contradictions in order to solve mysteries. Sure, it gets a little bit out there with motives based in demonic possession, but it’s completely up front with it. You play as an “digital exorcist”, but don’t let that put you off. You’re a detective, through and through.

The demo gives you access to the one case with two possible suspects, and thankfully, errs on the side of over-explaining how you do what you do. Even still (and I credit this to nothing by my super-short attention span), I got stuck near the end because a mechanic for obtaining additional evidence had slipped my mind.

If you’re not comfortable with a lot of reading, and with making a lot of mistakes, you probably want to give this one a pass. Pieces that felt like they should fit together often resulted in the suspect telling me he had no idea what I was trying to get at. I’m not sure if it’s intended to have more than one way to get to the proper conclusion, but I did find it slightly frustrating to not be able to structure the evidence in the way that made the most sense to me.

It took me about half an hour to muddle my way through the case to a successful accusation, at which point the demo ended rather abruptly (and required me restarting it to have a way to exit the game without force closing it). Lucifer Within Us is still in need of a bit of polish, but if the other cases are already pretty much finished up, I don’t see any difficulty with the team smoothing out the rough edges before an anticipated October 15, 2020 release date.

Indie Arena Booth 2020 – To the Rescue! Demo

As far as I can tell, this is the first glimpse we’ve gotten of To the Rescue: A Dog Shelter Simulator, and in fact, the demo describes itself as “an early alpha build”. I was particularly interested in trying this one out, as I backed it on Kickstarter last year. Unfortunately – at least for me – the demo was more frustrating than fun, although I can absolutely see the bones of a really delightful game here.

My struggle started in the tutorial – time is your biggest enemy here. You’re not given any time prior to opening or after closing to care for the dogs, so you have to do everything during the shelter’s open hours. As far as I can tell, nothing that you do stops the clock, which means if you want to take the time to read about the dogs in your care, you’re not actually taking care of them during that time.

I attempted two play throughs of the demo, and both times, I failed before the week was up. There just wasn’t enough time or money to take care of all the dogs being dropped off, and since I was so rushed trying to not screw everything up, I failed the adoption mini game more often than not. Between the lack of income, the cost of adding kennels for all the dogs coming in, and the fines for not properly caring for them all during my limited work window, I was bankrupt (and feeling really bad about myself) before day three.

I am really really hoping this is a tuning issue, and not a “realities of shelter life” issue, because making this game too realistic is going to make it depressing as hell to play. I realize that running an animal shelter is a whole lot more complex than just playing with puppies all day long, but if the outlook is too bleak, playing is going to be torturous.

I will be receiving a copy of To The Rescue: A Dog Shelter Simulator when it releases, due to having backed it, so I don’t have to make the hard decision of whether or not to purchase it. I am, however, really hoping that the event frequency in the early game gets brought way down to give the player time to acclimate to the things that need to be done, and that they consider auto-pausing the time when you are reading about the dogs in your care (since it seems like you can’t do anything when those windows are open anyway). The game looks delightful, but right now, is an unpleasant chore to play.


Edited 2:20pm 8-28-20: The developers are already tweaking the demo – my third try was considerably less hectic and overwhelming. Using the ribbons to move dogs between their regular kennels and the show kennels is also a game changer – this was referenced in the tutorial and I missed it! The fact that in one day the play experience is already smoother bodes well for the game, and I look forward to playing it upon release!

Promptapalooza #19 – Finishing What You Start

Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020 is this crazy year’s crazy twist on the August blogging challenge cooked up by Belghast over on Tales of the Aggronaut. Instead of writing every day, a whole bunch of us have committed to being “prompt-bearers”. Today’s prompt comes from Nogamara over at Battle Stance:

Do you “finish” games/hobbies/projects and move on or do you come back to the same things again and again?

Promptapalooza (August 18, 2020)

Finishing what I start is such a stumbling block for me that I once created a blog to try to get a handle on the issue. It lasted less than six months. I blamed the project’s failure on the fact that I returned to playing World of Warcraft, a game that is for all intents and purposes unfinishable. Really, I think it was just a meta reflection of the problem at hand.

Often the question is not whether or not I’m actually going to finish something, but why I’m not going to finish it. There are four major reasons why I might not finish something, and I’m going to touch on all of them in order from what I feel is – for me – most acceptable to most ridiculous.

New things are interesting, but sometimes, they’re only interesting for a very short period before they become tedious.

Although this does happen sometimes with video games, mostly, this is a problem I have with craft projects. I can usually power through making a scarf. I’ve even successfully finished a few baby blankets. But (I think) I’ve finally learned my lesson on full sized afghans – I’m sick of the pattern long before I’m finished, and now the goddamned thing is heavy and difficult to handle. If I get to about three quarters done before I realize I’m no longer enjoying something, the satisfaction of completion might be enough for me to push through, but even then, it’s not guaranteed.

I want to believe I am better at (insert hobby here) than I actually am.

While I logically understand that trying something that’s beyond your current skill set is how you learn something new, or improve at something, in practice, it’s often frustrating, and I usually like my leisure time to be more leisurely than that.

Something else came up, and now I’ve forgotten whatever I once knew about this. Guess I should start over. Then something else comes up. Repeat until the end of time.

I flat out refuse to even contemplate how many epic-length video games I have played the first few hours of more than three times. There’s been many, that I can tell you. It almost always is a combination of “story I have forgotten” and “mechanics I have forgotten”, but sometimes, it’s merely one or the other. I also tend to restart TV series for the same reason – I don’t remember all the details, and since I figure I liked it the first time, no reason not to start over. It happens less frequently with long books (thank god, I read fast), but the risk is there with just about any narrative with a serious time commitment.

I don’t want (thing) to be over, so I “save” the last little bit.

This is – by miles – the most irritating reason (to me) that I don’t finish something. Thankfully, it almost never stops me from finishing a game I’m enjoying, but it’s definitely prevented me from diving right into the next one of a series. But the last book or two in a series, or the last few episodes or even seasons of a television show? Yep, I do this, and it’s a huge struggle to then force myself to finish something I had – up until that point – been really really enjoying.


I admire people who (at least generally speaking) finish what they start, but it just isn’t me.

Promptapalooza #14 – Getting Excited

Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020 is this crazy year’s crazy twist on the August blogging challenge cooked up by Belghast over on Tales of the Aggronaut. Instead of writing every day, a whole bunch of us have committed to being “prompt-bearers”. I’m a little bit late on this one, but the prompt I’m writing about today comes from Heather over at Just Geeking By:

What are the things that get you excited in life?

Promptapalooza (August 13, 2020)

I don’t think of myself as a particularly excitable person – after all, if I get too excited too often, where will I get the energy to be an anxious mess about everything? But there are a few things that I know make my whole face light up and bring me a special kind of joy, and if that’s not excitement of a fashion, I don’t really know what is.

Dogs

Most specifically my dogs (that’s Dakota on the left, and Charley just chillin’ there on the right), but really, it’s just dogs in general. Despite realizing that yes, I am a dog person, a little bit later in life, I’ve rarely met a dog I didn’t immediately fall madly in love with and want to spoil rotten. I follow my groomers on Facebook because they do daily photos of all the dogs that were in that day. I follow WeRateDogs on Twitter. I stan Coconut Rice Bear in all her floof-y glory, and I can lose hours to watching pretty much any kind of dog video.

Sure, dogs can be kind of high maintenance as far as pets go, but god, they do bring multitudes of joy to my days.

Over-analysis of pop culture

More specifically, applying critical thinking to the kind of popcorn entertainment that people tend not to think too much about. There’s a certain subset of horror movies that fascinate me to no end, and I was downright giddy when I discovered there’s a text book out there with scholarly papers about exactly that type of thing.

I haven’t picked it up yet, because well, it’s a textbook and therefore ridiculously expensive, but it sits on my Amazon wishlist, waiting for me to be able to snap up a reasonably priced used copy or for me to decide that I’m okay dropping $35 for an ebook.

I’m most particularly interested in the paper by Ian Conrich on the elaborate murders from both the Saw & Final Destination franchises, which I have analyzed endlessly in my head. I am both shocked and delighted by the fact that someone else has actually thought about them even more than I have.

I feel like there’s not enough deep analysis of the fluffier parts of pop culture, outside of a few really intricate fandoms, and I’d love to find more of it.

Well-Constructed Mysteries

Regardless of the medium, nothing gets me jazzed like a plot that comes together perfectly in the end but that I also didn’t manage to figure out before the denouement. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that feeling of when the pieces all fit and I have figured everything out myself, but it’s a million times better to be surprised, and then to realize that yes, I did have all the information and the answer is completely logical but I didn’t see it coming.

Unfortunately, as someone who’s loved mystery stories for many years, it’s a rare thing for a story to get one over on me in such a way, but when it does? I will not rest until I get someone to read, watch or play that story because it’s a damned high bar, and I appreciate creators that can fly right over it.

Giving a Perfect Gift

As much as I go into full-on Grinch mode during December, I actually like spending time trying to figure out just the right thing to gift to someone I care about. I find most actual holiday gatherings, whether family, friend groups, or workplace-related, put far too many restrictions on gifting which makes the whole thing a chore rather than a fun experience.

But when I have time to really think it over, shop around, and find or create precisely what I think the recipient will love? Giving gifts is such an incredible rush for me.

This is also why I play Steam Sale Santa twice a year – sometimes, I do just pluck things from wish lists, but there is no better feeling than giving someone their newest favorite game that they didn’t even know existed.

Long Live the Queen! Turns 281 – 290

The Project Explained

Long Live the Queen is a collaborative Civilization VI base game play through and blogging project conceived of by Naithin at Time to Loot. We have 8 players, and each player is responsible for taking 10 turns and writing about our progress. I drew fifth in the randomly generated line-up.

The Story So Far…

If you need to know how we got to where we are, just pop on over to Time to Loot, where Naithan has kept track of all of our shenanigans in a really nifty list of links.

Turns 281-290

The good news is that England is at peace, and we’re in good shape overall. Our empire has grown past my ability to fit it all into a single screenshot.

The bad news? We are VERY unpopular. If the opportunity arises to get ourselves some goodwill without any significant downside, I might take it. Just in case.

Right off the bat, Eridu requires me to decide on its next production, and I elect to go for a Commercial Hub because there is no such thing as being too rich or too beautiful, so more gold seems like a good plan.

Roosevelt approaches me asking to get some of our mercury – a luxury good – in exchange for some gold every turn. It’s not a trade I feel like we need to make, but we have tons of mercury. The money is nice, and we can spare the resource, and maybe America will hate us just a little less. Maybe.

Our troops make short work of the barbarian encampment to the south east, which I think we were just clearing out to be on the safe side (and to get some experience for our nearby troops). I promote our field cannon with Volley, and send our musketman to do some exploring of this thus-far unrevealed corner of the map.

Cleo pops in, also looking for a luxury resource we have in abundance (truffles), but she offers both a little bit of cash AND coffee, which we don’t seem to have. Deal done, lady. Let’s keep that friendship going.

We complete our research of Civil Engineering, which opens up another military policy slot. I fill that with Wars of Religion, since we have a lot of non-religious units this could benefit. I also start researching Scorched Earth, because our military strength is one of our biggest assets.

Now that both Teddy & Cleo have gotten something they wanted from us, the ridiculous demand twins try their luck. Pedro insists we need to pay him money every turn because … he wants it? I’m unimpressed with him and quickly refuse.

The next refusal comes with a little more thought – the offer isn’t great off the bat, and I also really hate sending military resources off to a country that hates us. So sorry, Gil, I’m going to have to pass on your not-so-generous-actually offer.

American founds San Francisco, down in that south eastern corner where we’d recently taken care of the barbarians. I don’t mind – pretty sure we had no real plans to settle there – but I was miffed when he got uppity about our troops being too close. They were there before your city, bub. I pull our musketman, field cannon, knight, and siege tower back towards Bradford.

We finish up Electricity, and I start us on Rocketry, with an eye towards a potential scientific victory. We get a boost to our research on Scorched Earth, and I get a few more productions online. Ur gets a granary, Sheffield gets a builder, and Birmingham gets a bank. I send a couple envoys towards Yerevan, with an eye towards maxing out our bonus with them, even though faith doesn’t seem to be too high on our priority list at the moment.

I wrap up my reign with one final grand gesture. I purchase a tile near Bristol and start work on The Colossus. Do we need it? Probably not. But I needed to do something on brand during my turns, and while it’s not a boat, it’s definitely boat-adjacent. The extra gold per turn and trade route aren’t too shabby either.


Since I actually remembered to screenshot it this time, here’s a peek into my process of documenting what happens on a per turn basis in case I can’t immediately get it all written up. As you may notice, I take a little liberty with exactly the order of things sometimes when it makes for better flow.


I have passed the torch (and the save file) on to UnwiseOwl to take us through to turn 300!

Game Over – Injustice: Gods Among Us

I’m going to start out by admitting that I’m feeling just a little bit guilty on this one. For #FightingGameMonth, I may have adhered to the letter of the law by choosing Injustice: Gods Among Us as my game for the month, but ooh boy, did I tweak it to the point that I skipped out entirely on the spirit of the thing.

First off, although as far as I’m concerned, I completed the game (there were credits!), I only played the story mode content. I’m not overly experienced with fighting games in general, but I don’t even know that most of them have story modes. Then, I did this to the difficulty settings:

Yep, not just easy. Very easy. Do you know what happens when you play on very easy? You can finish the entire game without successfully executing a combo as long as you mash enough buttons. I was pretty attached to this plan already, but then I attempted the tutorial.

Attempted.

That’s right – I finished the game, but couldn’t get through the tutorial. Playing with the keyboard wasn’t too bad, except that it didn’t always register all my key presses – I assume I could have futzed around in Windows settings to make it so pressing three keys at the same time wouldn’t cause a problem, but I figured I’d try to play the game with a controller instead.

My oh-so-cost-effective controller that I bought despite not liking controllers, generally speaking.

Real talk: I was no more successful with the controller than I was with the keyboard, but at the difficult level I selected, it didn’t matter. Leaving the tutorial and entering the story mode proper was like rolling back down to the absolute bottom of a the difficulty curve. I turned a fighting game into a really basic hack-n-slasher.

And I enjoyed it.

I would say that story mode was probably 60% cut scenes, 30% fight sequences, and 10% weird little Quicktime-style events. The story was passable, even as someone whose knowledge of DC Comics is almost entirely based on a cross-media enjoyment of all things Batman. It really didn’t matter that I didn’t know much about the majority of the characters, especially since the story was focused on a parallel universe concept.

All told, reaching full completion of story mode took me just under four hours over two play sessions. Even on very easy, the last few fights were a little rough (and I had to retry a single fight after switching back to keyboard and putting my hands on the WRONG DAMN KEYS).

I’ve definitely played games I enjoyed less, but nothing about the story wowed me enough to want to figure out the game play, instead of just faking my way through it.

Release Radar – Three Intriguing Indies Coming Soon

At this point, I have a lot of games on my wishlist that don’t even have release dates yet, which leads to me checking frequently to see if any of them have gotten release dates. Normally, this is an exercise in futility and disappointment, but not so right now. Three games that are potential day one pick-ups for me are all coming out before the end of August!

Ruinarch is releasing into Early Access on August 25.

I discovered Ruinarch during the most recent Steam Game Festival, and was instantly enamored by it. As someone who would have gladly played the demo over and over, Early Access on this one isn’t a deal breaker for me – the game is already fun to play. The demo is available again as part of the Tiny Teams Festival, so if you missed it last time, or want to see the improvements made over the past month or so, you can check that out for the next couple of days.

Best Friend Forever is releasing on August 27.

Best Friend Forever is a game I’ve had my eye on for quite a while – I think I first mentioned it here during LudoNarraCon, but playing the demo catapulted this title from “Looks cool.” to “I must have this now”. Well, it’s just about here, and although I’m still not super excited about dating sims in general, I really want to play with and train all the dogs.

Do Animals Dream? is releasing on August 31.

Although I’m completely sold on the previous two titles, I am more cautiously optimistic about Do Animals Dream? It looks like a pretty chill game to play through, and the store page description puts me in mind of A Short Hike, which I’ve seen people rave about. For me, my interest in this title is going to be probably be tied to both length and price point – I’d find it far more appealing as a compact, sub-$10 title than I would as something more ambitious, especially since as far as I can tell it’s a freshman effort from Black Vein Productions.


Are there any games – indie or otherwise – dropping over the next couple of weeks that you’re super excited for? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Promptapalooza #11 – A Space to Create

Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020 is this crazy year’s crazy twist on the August blogging challenge cooked up by Belghast over on Tales of the Aggronaut. Instead of writing every day, a whole bunch of us have committed to being “prompt-bearers”, and today it’s my turn!

Tell us about your physical creative space, and how it influences your content creation.

Promptapalooza (August 10th, 2020)

I’m going to ‘fess up here. I wanted to throw this prompt back. I almost resented it – obviously, Bel doesn’t know anything about my creative space and the prompts were distributed randomly. I wasn’t being called out, but it sure felt that way for a hot minute. But I realized the fact that I reacted to it so strongly is exactly why I should write about it.

Because of this, I’m going to tell you now that tomorrow’s prompt will be presented by SDWeasel over at Unidentified Signal Source, in case you don’t make it all the way to the end.

Apologies in advance for my lack of pictures on this one. This is going to be hard to write, possibly hard to read, and I just don’t feel like I can illustrate it for you as well.


I really don’t feel like I have a “creative space”. I have a space where, sometimes, somehow, almost in spite of myself, I manage to write. My desk is small and cramped. My computer and all of its peripherals have seen better days. The floor in here isn’t level, so I am forever listing slightly to the left, and my chair actually partially blocks the access to the hallway leading to the other side of the house.

To top it off, it’s never quiet here. There’s no door I can close. I’m frequently trying to block out the television, a barking dog, half a conversation taking place on Discord, or all of the above. I do have a headset (and use it when I really need to), but extended use tends to give me a headache, and I’m clueless about how to find something more suitable.

Basically, my creative space is everything I don’t want it to be. But I make it work because the alternative – giving this up until I can get my space in order – is untenable.

I’ve said it before – I don’t really write here to build a following. In fact, self-promotion past an automated Tweet and an occasional link drop on a Discord channel or Facebook group would likely be the end of what I’m doing. No, as much I as love the interaction of blogging when it comes, it’s not why I do it.

For me, writing here about whatever strikes my fancy is structure and purpose and one of the few things I do for my own satisfaction, and I’m not ready to give that up.


Sadly, this is sort of a recurring theme for me. When we moved into the apartment we lived in before this house, I was determined to prioritize making a “writing nook” for myself. It was full of books that I loved, and good intentions. However, I was still learning how to balance a job, domestic responsibilities, and adjusting expectations due to a chronic illness, and instead of being a source of solace, it ended up being a constant reminder of my failure to prioritize creativity.

I realize now I’m going kind of far off prompt, but it’s a recurring theme for me. There’s always something more important to do, something else that space needs to be set aside for, and I couldn’t possibly make that kind of commitment.

We live in an old, poorly maintained home, and are trying to make it into a space that works for us – slowly, with limited funds, and even more limited DIY-ability. Both my husband and I struggle with different disabilities, and there are days that we can only manage the bare minimum as far as housework goes. The dogs get taken care of, and we make sure we eat something. On the better days, we struggle to get caught up, and it’s rare that we have the energy and the finances required for the bigger projects we want to tackle.

We are about four and half years behind on our five year plan, and every time we manage to squirrel away some savings, something critical breaks. This year, the savings account is going to get emptied out to replace the heating system. We do have a room, currently being used for storage, which is allocated to be my quiet place, but it basically needs to be gutted first, and that particular project is going to take a huge allotment of energy, so it keeps getting put off.

At this point, I cannot fathom just … waiting for the right type of space to create. I’ve hit a point in my life where I feel better about making do than not making anything. I may not have a creative space that speaks to me for another five years, but that doesn’t mean I should neglect the part of me who wants to write, and craft, and paint, and draw. Right now, I can’t dedicate space in my home, but I absolutely must dedicate space in my life.


I know this whole post is pretty far outside what I normally write about, and for those of you who made it this far, I have a small reward in the form of a picture of my adorable dogs. They’re also not really into the idea of me having a quiet space to make things, but they’re fantastic for my mental health, so we’ll allow it.

Quick Look – Little Big Workshop

I was gifted a copy of Little Big Workshop during the Steam Winter Sale last year, and like most things I acquire during sales, it completely slipped my mind to actually play it until I spotted it in the August Humble Choice. Oops.

I went in with fairly low expectations – although there have been a lot of really great management / tycoon games, there have also been a lot of really really bad ones. This one is absolutely charming, but although I’ve played it pretty compulsively over the last couple of days, truth is – it’s not really anything special.

Little Big Workshop is different from a lot of management games in that it’s not scenario based. Although you have ample opportunities to upgrade your factory, the game never asks you to open a second factory, or take over a dilapidated building in another town. Where you start is, pretty precisely, where you’ll end the game. For some people that might be a point in its favor – for me, it’s a little disappointing.

If you include the tutorial, there are five sets of “milestones” for you to work towards. I have not actually finished the game yet (I ran out of money while working towards my fourth set of milestones, and decided to restart), but I’d hazard a guess that the whole thing could be finished in about 10-12 hours.

This might, in fact, be the most mediocre game I’ve ever played obsessively. There’s very little I can point to and say “This is bad.” I found a way to disable the things that annoyed me most – fixed camera angles, and ridiculous “events” that I found more frustrating than fun. The tutorial is 100% skippable and unless you’ve been away from the game a long time, there’s no compelling reason to do it more than once.

There are some really neat things here – I love setting up blueprints step by step to make the product fit the factory I’ve built. In fact, there are a lot of cool little details in the building of things. You can link identical workstations together with a billboard, and it automatically splits up tasks (mostly) efficiently. Storage areas can be pretty freely resized, you can add shelving for more space, and once unlocked, you can even attach storage areas to different machines to keep the things they need handy, or set one up near your loading bays for finished items only.

When I’m playing the game, I am completely engaged. When I step back from it, I’m not sure what kept me playing for hours. The aesthetic is fantastic. Everything else is just a little bit off what you expect from a good production management game, but not off enough to make it a full-on chore to play. Sure, your workers might be passing out because the break room is out of coffee or snacks, but someone else will just start doing their job sooner or later. They’ll be better after a nap.

I realize this is not exactly a rave review, and I don’t think the small bit of the game I have left to unlock is going to do anything to change my mind. It’s not bad for what it is – a first game from small team with a neat idea. It’s not meaty enough to be a truly great management game, and it’s nowhere near easy enough to be a good casual game. It occupies some weird in between space that I found strangely compelling, but once I’m done with it, I doubt I’ll recall it fondly. In fact, likely as not, I won’t really ever think about it again.