Today, Kent, Rosstin and I bought a website for our joint projects at Why .ninja? Well, it cost less than a third of what normal .com sites cost (Only $2.88!!), and was already owned by someone. Additionally, ninjas are very cool, and we are very cool kids to have such a website.

When we finish the polished version of Slaughtertrain in a few weeks, it will release on Detective City already appears there. I consider this the definitive edition of the game, since it is no longer hampered by the restrictions browser-based game-hosting sites typically put on the game’s available screen real-estate. Now it is left-justified and full-sized, just as god intended.

We also now have an page, at, and an email address, which you can find on our website.

SLAUGHTERTRAIN: Game Jolt Adventurejam

Kent, Rosstin and I collaborated again on another game jam game– this time for the two-week-long Game Jolt-hosted Adventurejam. You can find our submission here. If you like it and have a Game Jolt account, consider voting for it.

Slaughtertrain is a Snowpiercer parody made in Twine. We wrote over fifty different train cars with different bizarre, trainbound inhabitants, and gave the player an extremely limited, violence-oriented number of verbs. In each car, the player can either kill everyone present, steal the “bombdrugs” this society uses as currency (and bombs, and drugs), or pay 10 bombdrugs to avoid a confrontation and move to the next train. The player has two major stats: health and bombdrugs. They also carry a weapon, which has its own stats: power and durability. Health, power, and durability are never stated directly, but the player can learn to judge these stats by closely reading the game’s repeated text. Gameplay involves juggling weapons to maximize your chances of slaughter-success, and risking injury to acquire as many bombdrugs as possible.

You may be thinking to yourself, “gee, this doesn’t sound much like what I think of as an adventure game,” but the jam had extremely lax rules (that Slaughtertrain definitely fits) and we wanted a structured deadline to help us hack out this game as fast as possible. We were planning for 100 train cars but didn’t get that far; a second version will probably have all 100. Kent will also do a balance pass on the entire game to make it more challenging and interesting to play. We may also get some art in here? We haven’t thought closely about that part of the game yet.

Slaughtertrain is also notable for containing the most original code I have ever written for a game project. All of the stats, randomization effects, and weapon handling processes are carried out with javascript macros.

Anyway, expect to see a fuller, polished version of this game in the future. We’ll release the .tws sourcefiles at that time too, most likely.


When you watch the first teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode 7, you should watch it with your eyes closed.

I don’t mean that you should watch it with your eyes closed the first time you see it. That would be pointless. Watch it once, put it away for a few days, and then come back to it with your volume high and your back turned. Listen to the crabby little alien noises, the soccer-ball robot guy beeping and whirring, and that low wub wub wub sound that the fighters make over the water. This is Star Wars. The whole point of Star Wars is for enormous rusty machines and huge slavering monsters to groan and crackle at you in a huge dark movie theater.

If something does not go WUB WUB WUBWUBWUBwubwubwbububwubwbub at you in the first five minutes, then you might as well be watching action figures fight one another.

I have a lot of experience with Star Wars action figures. I was alive and conscious and basically sentient for the 1997 Star Wars theatrical re-release, and when I saw A New Hope in a crummy little Windsor theater with my best friend, it was the first time in my life that I had an ecstatic, worshipful response to a movie. I do not care about anyone’s shitty extra scenes controversy– the point is, I got to see these films in theaters at the tender age of eight, despite the fact that I wasn’t alive thirty years ago.

It is important to see films in theaters. It is important to see films with really good writing or sound design in theaters, because your entire body will shake with the explosions and you will feel all those words in your throat and the soles of your feet. With Star Wars, of course, it is the sound design. When I’m ancient and withered up and dying in a nursing home, I am sure that I will still sit up straight at the sound of those laser guns, at Chewbacca’s voice, and at the music of the cantina band. I am very picky about lightsaber hums, even still. I used to have an app that made lightsaber sounds, but I deleted it because they were not quite right. These sounds get into your blood.

And it is important to experience these sounds in a movie theater. It is also important to see the film as big and crazy as possible, theater-sized. While these huge sounds rumble and shake you, Luke’s nervous brow will glisten with sweat, and it will be something on the order of fifteen feet wide. When it explodes, the Death Star will be about the size of a small car, and when Luke and Han get silly medals put on them in front of an enormous crowd, the crowd will be actually enormous, and you will be able to see all the little people.

If you are eight, you will be cheering along with that crowd. It does not matter that the movie makes only a medium amount of sense, or that some of the dialogue is super dumb. Seeing the original movies in a theater can be a physical experience, like standing past the end of a runway when a plane takes off overhead. You may shiver in your chair. I remember that I came out of the theater feeling clammy and weak.

We had already seen the films, and we already knew we liked them, but after watching A New Hope in the theaters my friend and I developed a kind of personal cult of Star Wars. We played with a lot of action figures. We invented and memorized a rhyming song about Emperor Palpatine. We used to sit in my living room and watch the Endor speederbike chase scene over and over and over again for entire afternoons. Just that scene. I can still remember exactly what huge chunks of that scene sound like. I can still hear the speederbikes humming in my head. God, and the music! I clumsily learned how to play almost all the major songs from the original trilogy on the xylophone in middle school. The second CD I ever bought with my own money, after Graceland, was the soundtrack to A New Hope. I still own that physical CD. Binary Sunset forever, guys.

I do not watch Star Wars because I care about trade agreements between Coruscant’s various frog-headed aliens; I care about dudes getting zapped with force lightning while evil gnomish emperors cackle. There is no way that anything coming out of Anakin Skywalker’s mouth can be more interesting than the crazy OO-WA WABBA sounds coming out of Jabba the Hutt’s mouth. The only great thing that came out of the Prequels was the ridiculous chirping battle-droid dialogue.

Well, that, and the “NOOOOOO!!”

The final prequel came out when I was a sophomore in high school. My sister, my mother, and I went to see it with my family’s closest friends– my friend, my sister’s friend, and their mother– and I remember that on the way back the moms asked us whether we’d enjoyed the film. I was still kind of dazed by it all, pleased that they’d improved on Episode 2 but still unsure, after three films, how to feel about the fact that the things I’d worshiped as a kid were normal movies after all, normal shit that would never really mean anything to anyone. Ninety percent of everything humans make is crap. Almost all art is crap.

“I guess I enjoyed it,” I told my mom. “I mean, I’m not going to see it in theaters as many times as Lord of the Rings.”

We parked in front of my friend’s house, jumped out, and started pulling our bookbags out of the trunk of the car. I remember that someone started shouting “NOOOOOO!!”

So we all shouted “NOOOOOO!!” in the driveway for a little while. Not because it was a magnificent movie moment, of course. It figures that when I was a small child, Star Wars was an unassailable mass of perfect action flick– but by the time I could enjoy things ironically, Star Wars had started to suck. It was on my level.

These days, all I remember about the third prequel is the NOOOOO, Anakin’s voice when he cried with all his limbs cut off, and the annoying sound that Obi Wan’s (lizard? bird?) steed made when he was running around on that planet that I can’t remember anything about. Star Wars remains an audio experience for me, after all these years.

The Mystery of Skull Island for Teacart 1K

Teacart 1K was a game jam I participated in a while ago. It used the Sharecart save format– a shared save file which all jam games read from together. Editing values on the save file with ONE game may affect all the other games in interesting ways!

You can play all the Teacart games together using this loader.


Our game, The Mystery of Skull Island, is a loving “homage” to Fallen London, an excellent browser-based interactive fiction game which you should definitely go play. Like Fallen London, Skull Island uses a card-based decision tree structure. Each “turn” in Skull Island draws random event cards from one of three different “decks.” Each card contains several thematically-related actions– sometimes they’re different solutions to the same problem, but other times they’re just “a bunch of stuff you can do in this place/time/with this person.”

I’ve always like the freewheeling attitude that Fallen London has toward players’ purposes and goals. You can’t easily “set out” to do stuff in the card deck. The cards just fall, and you explore their hidden crannies and opportunities as you see fit. It very effectively simulates the feeling of living in a place, of passing time in a world bigger than you. In most RPGs, you are the master of your own fate, but in Fallen London, you are merely a denizen of a city much more complicated and dense than you could ever hope to master. When you really surrender to the writing and the setting, the experience of playing can be very cool. There’s a feeling of endless possibility every time you encounter a new card. (Unfortunately, the dark side of this philosophy is that you end up doing a lot of “story grinding” to unlock certain kinds of new content. It’s not for everyone.)

Skull Island basically copies this attitude toward player agency– you only get three cards at a time, and most of them are just menus of different weird little activities and dumb little jokes tangentially related to one another by a common location or character. You may discover endings as you go, and choose either to explore or ignore them. You may load up a Sharecart file that already has all the endings unlocked! Who knows?

The Mystery of Skull Island project was led and coded by Jim Crawford. The art is by Rachel Sala and the music is by Ryan Ike.

My ENTIRE opinion about California

Shortly after moving to California, I attended a New Years’ Eve party in a mansion somewhere northeast of Berkeley. I didn’t know any of the people who were throwing the party (though many of them would later become my close friends), and I’d never been at a party in a mansion before. Or any New Years Eve party that didn’t include my parents, actually. I made the best of weird circumstances by eating an entire orange in one bite, which is my Party Trick.

My Party Trick.

My Party Trick.

Someone at the event asked me where I was from. “New England,’ I said, keeping it general. I was born at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, spent college in New Hampshire, and spent many of my summers working at a summer camp in Massachusetts for girls with diabetes. I’d been living away from my hometown for a pretty long while, but California was the first time I’d done it in a state where people called highways “freeways.”

“I can tell,” the guy said.

“How?” I asked.

“You talk really fast,” he said.

Growing up in Connecticut, I’d never really thought of myself as a “New Englander.” My parents were both kids from Chicago who went to college in New York, and they’ve spent close to three decades maintaining a kind of mental self-separation from the people in their new home-state. Some of that rubbed off on me. I’d just grown up thinking of myself as a Generic White Girl who happened to be living in New England.

But moving to California showed me that I really was a “New Englander,” whatever the hell that means. (It probably means that I should be living in a slowly-flooding pit filled with bears and pumpkins and Yankee Candles at the end of a gravel driveway somewhere just outside Boston.)

I’ll be honest: I really, really dislike California. It wouldn’t be too much of a dramatic exaggeration to claim that living here is like scraping my nails very quietly along a chalkboard every moment of every day. I’ve spent the past several years trying to articulate what exactly it is about California that is so wrong and fucked up, but I’ve had to admit, in the end, that California isn’t really fucked up at all.

It just doesn’t have enough trees.

And the highways are too wide, and the people here are flaky as shit, and there are too many people, and it doesn’t rain often enough, and because no snow falls and no trees change and no rivers of migrating birds follow the highway in the fall, it feels like time isn’t passing. And the towns don’t have centers, and everything is built flat on the ground instead of vertically with second floors and basements, and I haven’t seen a proper 24-hour diner in forever, and when you drive from one town to another, they just sort of bleed together with no trees or empty space in between. There is no Edge Of Town. And all the buildings are simultaneously too new and too run-down– everything looks like it was built in the 70s and hit by a zombie apocalypse in the 80s. And there’s a drought. Why the fuck would anyone put a huge chunk of the country’s agricultural industry in a fucking desert? Who does that? Why does anyone even live here?

My dad used to text me pictures of bears. My mom once called me to complain that a black bear had appeared in my back yard and that my dad standing ten feet away from it, taking pictures. Now, there are some mitigating factors here: the bear was in a tree, and the tree was growing out of a disused canal behind my house. There are all sorts of snakes and foxes and turkeys and opossums in the dry canal, and bears use it as a highway. When they climb up the trees next to the steep wall of the canal behind my house, they can be ten or twenty feet away from our fence, level to our eyes, while still being on the other side of the fence and also up in the top of a tree. But the point is that my dad was standing next to a bear and taking pictures of it.

The latest communique from my dad

The latest communique from my dad

When I moved to the Bay Area, everyone I knew was talking about how glad they were to live so close to nature. Meanwhile, I was getting bear texts from my dad. “You people are fucking deluded,” I once ranted to a friend.  “You do not live in nature. You live in an urban scab that happens to be a day-trip drive from a national park.”

The fault was mine. I lacked proper California sympathy. Fact is, southern and central California are completely reasonable places that exist in this universe, and there just aren’t any Real Trees here. But there are a lot of people, and a ton of cars, and I just have to Deal With It. I am used to certain things and a certain way of living, and the things I am used to are not universal. I am not a Generic White Girl. I am a white girl from Connecticut, and I grew up next to a giant empty canal filled with spiders and snakes and red-tailed hawks that used to eat crows outside the windows of our living room. In many places in New England, you can live in a place like that and drive (or walk!) five minutes to a Starbucks and a Stop & Shop. Most places in California? No such luck.

I didn’t find California culture anywhere near as hard to adjust to. I’ve heard stories about people moving from California to the east coast and feeling a deep, unsettling dismay at the way we behave over there, but I think being an east coast asshole has given me an inherent advantage in my transition. I am guarded and quiet in public and kind of mean. I put a high priority on getting things done as quickly as possible. I show up everywhere incredibly early and hide it by parking five blocks away and reading my email in my car. I am the first person to arrive to any party, even if I am late. I am way more aggressively practical than I ever realized before I moved out here. Is this because I’m a New Englander, or because I’m just a highly practical asshole? No clue. But we have a reputation for this kind of shit, so sure, I’ll live it up.

I used to have a silly story I’d tell about the difference between east coast and Californian personalities. I’m not sure how closely I stand by it anymore, but I’ll share it with you now:

Imagine you’re at a party. You’re talking to someone you’ve never met before. He says, “Yeah, I’m a huge biker. I’m really really into biking.” Now, if you’re in New England, you can safely assume that this means your new friend bikes a lot. He probably has a real expensive bike, and he bikes to work every day, and owns one of those biking leotards, and he wears those death-trap shoes that you clip onto the bike because you want to die. But if you’re in California, and someone at a party tells you, “Yeah, I’m a huge biker, I’m really into biking,” you can make no such assumption! Does this person even own a bike? Do they bike once a month? Maybe they just bought a bike. Maybe they just spend a lot of time in bike stores. Maybe they used to be on a competitive bike-racing team in college, but lost a foot in a tragic accident, and now they just bike in their dreams. In California, everything’s up in the air.

I’ve heard people say that they want to move to California to live the “Cali life,” but I’m pretty sure there is no Cali life. There are just a lot of people here doing pretty much whatever they want, all the time, for whatever reason, whatever. I think this article about Los Angeles describes it best:

No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang – or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you’re fine: that’s just how it works…

…L.A. is the apocalypse: it’s you and a bunch of parking lots. No one’s going to save you; no one’s looking out for you. It’s the only city I know where that’s the explicit premise of living there – that’s the deal you make when you move to L.A.

…And I don’t just mean that Los Angeles is some friendly bastion of cultural diversity and so we should celebrate it on that level and be done with it; I mean that Los Angeles is the confrontation with the void. It is the void.

This observation is more true in a general sense about the entirety of California than it isn’t. When the east coast was settled, it was settled by frightened European religious fundamentalists who cared quite a lot about inherited status and who were constantly being menaced by bears and the weather. There’s a humility and guardedness to New England towns– a close gathering around the central green, three-story houses with basements so you can store all the things you’d need for an apocalypse, only three or four kinds of churches. Only three or four kinds of people.

But by the time Americans got to California, we were proud and arrogant jerks. We just jizzed concrete over the entire landscape and marched around like we owned the place. Why bother building a second story on a house when you can build another one next to it, and another, and another? Why bother making a place livable and kind if it looks cooler and makes more money as a concrete iron maiden?

Sure, California has Google and Hollywood. But Silicon Valley is really and truly the most fucked-up place I have ever seen in my entire life, and Hollywood is basically just a gigantic heap of useless trash. (And I often have a hard time parking there.)

Okay. Here’s the rundown. New England pros:

  • Weather
  • My family
  • Trees
  • Roads are occasionally empty
  • People tell the truth, walk quickly, and get things done
  • You can pick your own pumpkin

New England cons:

  • Often boring
  • Too white
  • No good Mexican food
  • My job isn’t there

And California pros:

  • Diversity
  • Better food
  • Actual jobs
  • My job, specifically

California cons:

  • You are living in the void
  • Everything here was built by a charming asshole
  • You will never be menaced by a bear