Frog Fractions 2 is out!!!

Frog Fractions 2 has been published! Finally!! It’s out on Steam now! I wrote and helped design one of the minigames in it. This is the first game I have worked on that is being sold for money on Steam!

Spoilers ahead! Don’t read past this shrugging boy if you don’t want to know anything about Frog Fractions 2!!


So: FF2 is actually called Glittermitten Grove. Like the original Frog Fractions, FF2 is a mess of hilarious minigames hidden inside a game that seems to be completely ordinary. Glittermitten is actually a chill base-building game– and for the full FF2 experience, I think you should play it and try to figure out how to get to the minigame section on your own. If basebuilding games make you rage, though, and you want to get straight to the minigames, there are ways around it.

My contributions to Glittermitten Grove are the two “SPAXRIS” sections. SPAXRIS stands for Super Passive Aggresive Xenomorph Roommate Irritation Simulator. It’s a game where you are a space marine from the movie Aliens who is trying to annoy your xenomorph roommate until he moves out of your shared apartment. You would kill him, but you are in the same friend group and have too many mutual friends. Your aggression is limited to drinking his beers, messing with his law school textbooks, changing the HDMI cables around on the TV, and flushing the toilet repeatedly while he is trying to brush his teeth.



Here’s the mildly-weird story of how SPAXRIS got in the game. I’ve done a lot of game jamming in the Bay Area– that’s where I’d caught the bug– and one of the absolute best games I’d made for a jam there is Desert Hike EX. Jim Crawford, the lead developer on FF2/GMG, led the Desert Hike team, which included me and a bunch of his other friends.

A while ago, a friend of mine was running a jam that I had the opportunity to do with Jim. He wrassled up a team and we went. And, like Desert Hike, the team Jim wrangled up was really good, and the art and music were great, and I was able to go absolutely nuts with the writing. By the end of the weekend we did not have a completely finished game, but we did have something that was pretty clearly hilarious. At some point, Jim leaned over and told me, “Let’s just put this in FF2.” So that’s what happened.

It’s funny that the first Steam game I’ve contributed to is something I made almost without knowing that it would even be part of a commercial game at all. I’d just got done doing a lot of writing and localization for a bunch of PC and mobile games that were mostly cancelled. (The ones that were not cancelled before release are Facebook games, and THEY have all been shut down!) Since then, I’ve gained a lot of experience and have started doing story consulting and writing on indie and AAA games, but none of those have released yet, either! I often feel like the last couple years were kind of “lost years” for me. So it’s deeply gratifying that SOMETHING commercial that I worked on in that period is finally coming out and is really good!

I am roommates with Rachel Sala, FF2’s artist and Jim’s development partner, so I’ve gotten to see a lot of the blood, sweat, tears, tiny frogs, etc. that went into FF2. I’m really glad this game has finally come out and that they can enjoy the results! A lot of great things have happened in my life thanks to knowing Jim and Rachel and hanging out with them and making cool shit with them, and I’m incredibly proud of them and the other developers!

Anyway, yeah! Enjoy the game!

Detective City on!

detective sidebar small

UPDATE: Detective City has been moved! Take a look at THIS BLOG POST!

Its new home online on itch is HERE!

We made a new version of Detective City with ADDITIONAL POLISH!

It’s available on!

This version of Detective City will run in your browser! It also comes with a downloadable version of the game’s source files.

Please feel free to steal our code and/or directly cannibalize our game for any reason. If you’d like to talk to me about this game and how it works, hit me up on twitter at @lmichet.

Detective City – Global Game Jam 2015!

I spent the last ~48 hours doing the Global Game Jam at USC, running pretty much on adrenaline and diet Cokes. I teamed up with Rosstin Murphy, Kent Sutherland, and Meagan Trott to make Detective City, a comedic, randomized choose-your-own-adventure game about a disgraced detective determined to clear her name. You can find and play our jam build here! Look at the bottom of the page for a download. The game is an .html file that will run in your web browser.

Detective City is one of the more-successful jam games I’ve ever worked on. It marks the first time I’ve ever written my own working macros for Twine, too. (A little bit of Code Academy Javascript goes a long way when all you need is randomization, ha.) I wrote the “engine” that controlled game progression and powered our randomization features, as well as a couple tools to help us stay out of Twine If Statement Hell. I guess this makes me the “lead programmer” on Detective City? Hey, I’ll take it.

We were lucky enough to win the judges’ choice “Writing/Theme” award. Here’s our awesome trophy:

We also recorded a “speedrun” of our game to make our jam page more exciting. Take a look at my mad clicking prowress:

Our team will be fixing some bugs in our game and releasing a more-polished, spell-corrected version sometime soon. I’ll probably also crap out a postmortem. But here are the major points about Detective City you should probably be aware of:

  • It is legitimately extremely funny. I was surprised at how good our jokes were with little sleep and very little time.
  • The art Meagan made is extremely rad. It fits the theme perfectly and is also hilarious.
  • There is an insanely huge amount of content in this game. There’s enough for four full playthroughs with no overlap– though you’ll get overlap from playthrough to playthrough thanks to the RNG, I’m sure. STILL, there’s a TON of stuff in here.
  • Like most collaborative writing games I’ve made at jams, we chose to split the game up into large regions and assigned each to a specific writer, with very little overlap. Although we wrote the beginning and end of the game together, we were mostly able to churn out this huge amount of content because we were each charging away at a different part of the story and combining them using StoryIncludes. If you ever do a text-based game with more than one writer, I strongly encourage splitting everything up and going as far as you can to reduce or eliminate interdependence. It makes the experience a lot more relaxed when you know that you don’t have to hit any content quota, or that your writing isn’t dependent on anyone else’s time or energy. We had a great ability to accommodate any reduction in scope, and even sliced out several entire regions right before the end. At previous jams, I’ve worked on narrative-based projects where extricating chunks of the game was a lot harder, and those projects have always been way more stressful and, in the end, less successful.
  • In fact, I’d go so far as to say that text-based jam games should basically never be linear. If they’re randomized, or select from a pool of vignettes or events, they seem to be a lot more fun and easy to finish over a weekend.

A whole bunch of videos I enjoyed for whatever reason


Haunting/hypnotizing performance by a guy, two giant robotic arms, and a projection-mapping apparatus that maps images onto moving objects.


Percussive Maintenance

A wonderful supercut/music video of various TV and film characters slapping, punching, and tapping broken hardware


Flying eagle point of view

Someone put a GoPro on an eagle and flew it around in the Alps. Makes me yearn for videogames that don’t exist.


Bad Apple 4.6 Million!

There were a bunch of news posts on various nerd news sites about a year ago about “black MIDI,” a musical style that involves making MIDI software play impossible songs containing millions of notes. This is one of the ones I most enjoyed.

Jazzpunk’s live-action trailer

Adult Swim made a live-action trailer for Jazzpunk. It’s both highly similar to the game and wildly unlike the game. I enjoy it a lot.

David Lynch’s Return of the Jedi

If David Lynch had made Return of the Jedi, it would have been a fucking trainwreck masterpiece and I would have adored it.

Russian Sherlock Holmes TV show

This Russian TV show is an unusual spin on Sherlock Holmes. Holmes himself is a little incompetent; Watson picks up a lot of his slack. Interesting and weird!

The Death and Return of Superman

This has been one of my favorite long-form Youtube videos for well over a year now. Max Landis explains how Superman’s death BROKE DEATH IN COMICS. Wonderful narration. Elijah Woods shows up for some reason.

Some thoughts about that harassment essay

You maybe surprised to learn that I did not plan to publish that harassment article at all.

I wrote it a year and half ago in an attempt to clear my head. I composed it directly in WordPress, then panicked and set its publish date for ‘far, far, in the future.’ Every few weeks I’d wonder whether it was time to finally publish. Every time, I thought: not yet, not yet. Someday, though.

Well, the “far future” occurred one month ago. I’d completely forgotten about the article and it published totally without my realizing it. When I woke up that morning, someone from Critical Distance was tweeting at me. I’d accidentally published something highly topical. I actually had to go back and change all the dates so they made sense.

I am not even close to the saddest harassment story from the last several months. Please read this long article about how relentless and inescapable harassment can be for many people. I quit writing online because I could, because I had other passions and skills to rely on. A lot of people getting harassed on the internet are getting harassed at the place they work. They make money out here. By attacking them in the place where they sustain themselves, their harassers are doing a lot more damage. Harassers are also often more aggressive to LGBTQ people and people of color. Don’t let this shit stand, please, particularly if you’re in a position of power that allows you to help directly.

Anyway, thanks for all the kind feedback! Having my raw thoughts accidentally broadcast all over the internet didn’t turn out so badly after all. Here are some additional thoughts I’ve had over the last three weeks:

1) It’s definitely OK to jump ship

Some people have been saying things like, “man, it’s so sad you didn’t hang in there,” “It’s too bad you didn’t have thicker skin,” etc. I’ve seen the same thing occasionally written about other people who got out while the going was good.

Here’s my opinion on the subject: suffering sucks! If you are in a shitty situation and you can escape it and you want to escape it and need to escape it for your personal health and peace of mind, then yes, jump the hell off that stupid rat-infested rotten shit ship. You don’t owe your continued suffering or martyrdom to anyone. Jump right off. Swim the fuck out of there.

Here are some great times when it’s a good idea to jump the fuck off the ship:

  1. You aren’t getting paid to suffer
  2. You don’t have the energy, time, or money to weather this bullshit
  3. This isn’t the only outlet for your creative passions and you will feel just as (or more) fulfilled doing something else
  4. Your friend on the USS Sunshine Utopia has thrown you a nice life raft and you have a limited amount of time to get on that fucking raft and join your friend on a different ship full of happiness and fulfillment
  5. Absolutely any other reason. Jump off if you want to. Make yourself happy, please.

The sad thing here is that many people getting harassed on the internet do not have anyone to throw them a life raft. It’s important for you to be the kind of person who throws rafts. There are three or four people specifically responsible for helping me disembark from Shit Ship and without them I might even now be a bloated corpse on the bottom of the sea.

2) I think I underplayed how bad the Witcher thing actually was

No, it wasn’t just ‘people calling me bad names.’

The Real Bad Stuff lasted a solid week. Kent handled most of that. But for weeks afterwards, people would link through to the site from the harassers’ home forum and all my blood would rush into my head and I’d feel like barfing. People kept popping by to say more shitty shit. For about six months afterwards, I actually got heart palpitations every time I tried to publish an article. My hands would shake and I’d get weak-kneed and I’d have to go lie down. My housemates would see me lying stricken on a couch and they’d say, “woah, you look sickly,” and because I didn’t feel like saying “strangers on the internet are giving me a panic attack!!!” I’d say “no, man, it’s cool,” and I’d get up and limp over to another room and toss myself on a different couch and sweat.

And please, remember: I’m a lady, so this was not the only time people randomly harassed me. People wrote low-grade aggressive stuff to and about me on a regular basis. The Witcher bullshit was just the biggest single event, and it occurred at a moment when I was making big choices about how to spend my time.

3) Wait, there are still people in the universe who think that personal essays are somehow bad?

Ha! Haa! Haaaaaaa. Personal essays have been around for a bajillion years. They’re in AP English. I took a course about them in college. You will find them in many notable, long-venerated publications. It is not arrogant or self-absorbed or narcissistic to write creative nonfiction about your personal experiences. Men and women and adults and teenagers and college students and even children all participate in this fine, well-established form of literature.

And guess what? Some of those people are games writers! Shocking!! If you don’t like games writing with a hint of the personal in it, I’m very sorry for you, because you’re missing out on a lot of fine shit. For starters, go read some of these brilliant stories and see if it changes your mind.

4) I should probably just finish The Witcher, because The Wild Hunt looks badass

5) Getting paid is way important


It is normal and admirable for writers and other creators to want to find a way to sustain themselves with their passions. You should respect that they are seeking a way to get paid. You should be cool with the fact that “I’m not getting paid” was a significant part of my decision to “let harassment beat me.”

You may be a writer who is OK with writing as an unpaid pastime. But bear in mind that the things you get out of that experience– positive feedback, a community, friends, status– are in themselves a kind of payment. They are the earnings of your unpaid labor. This is how a lot of people get into online writing: they’re getting something valuable out of the experience.

But some people are not getting anything valuable out of the experience. Some people are getting shat on.

And furthermore, nobody can live on status alone. That’s why it’s important that paying outlets hire women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. Everyone eventually arrives at a moment when they must make big decisions about how to spend their time. If the professional games-writing community refuses to give these oodles of highly qualified women and minorities paying positions, those people are going to jump the fuck off the ship, and you are going to lose their voices and perspectives. Remember: unique voices and perspectives have an inherent value that exists in their difference from the mainstream. Respect that.

The first and last thing I’ll ever have to say about Minecraft


I’ve never written about Minecraft. This is odd, as I’ve owned it since the second or third month it was available for sale. Some of my most involved Minecraft-playing took place during the time I was abortively trying to be a “games journalist”, and I still didn’t write a single word about it. It’s difficult for me to describe my relationship with Minecraft. Even when I play it with other people, it feels like an intensely introverted activity. Playing Minecraft feels like hiding inside my own mind. And, to some extent, this is exactly what it is.

More than almost any other open-world game, Minecraft offers you a real reflection of yourself. In GTA you can ask a man to upgrade your car, and in Assassin’s Creed games you can assemble little armies of followers and choose what clothes they’re going to wear, but these games have never made me feel like I am the true organizing force behind their realities. Minecraft, Terraria, and even Skyrim to some extent explicitly make you feel as if you are remaking a world in your own image. That is the promise they peddle: not just an open world, but a responsive world. A more interesting mirror.

When I first started playing Minecraft in 2009, I was an undergrad at Dartmouth and I was pretty much totally stressed out every minute of the day. I’d just joined a co-ed undergrad fraternity. I was writing around 600 words a week for the small website my friend Kent and I had just launched about videogames. In order to keep up-to-date on games news I was also reading three hundred news headlines a day in Google Reader. When I wasn’t doing all that, I was editing a humor magazine and working as an informal librarian for Dartmouth’s collection of antique scientific instruments. And in between all of these responsibilities and obligations, I managed to flog pretty damn high grades out of all my classes. When I found Minecraft, I began playing it as a mindless way to de-stress.

Minecraft takes a complex world and reduces it to a hundred thousand tiny easily-solved problems. If you want to build a castle, you must first collect a pile of stone blocks. You mine each block one at a time. You feel efficient and mechanical. Each press of the mousebutton is a single small but meaningful step toward your ultimate goal.

There was a period of several months where I was the only person I knew who played Minecraft. I was a minor officer in the fraternity, and at fraternity meetings I’d sit in a corner with my laptop out, busily clearing out entire caverns, and deliver my officer reports without taking my eyes off the screen. The metaphor is now painfully obvious: In a world where I felt profoundly out of control of the flow of my life, the world of Minecraft was something I could control very precisely.

I began spending almost all my free time in Minecraft. For over six months, it was the only game I regularly played. When Survival Multiplayer launched, many of my close friends joined me. I remember that we sat in the fraternity’s living room until three or four in the morning, digging out enormous underground farms, rigging up spider pits, erecting long winding walls, and demarcating our shared world into regions of power and authority. There were seven or eight of us sharing a server, and we all lived in the same house, too. We spent as much time interacting in our handmade world as we did in real life.

I still remember many of the things I built. Their little architectural flourishes were more for my own amusement than for showing off to others. I was very preoccupied with defense against monsters, and almost every house I built had a moat. I would dress the inside of my houses up as if I actually lived there- bedroom, kitchen, workroom, sitting room– and wander around inside, watching monsters mass outside my windows before the currents of the moats carried them away.

I also liked to go into our shared mines and “smooth them out.” I had a fascination with the half-height blocks. When my friends dug little warrens of narrow tunnels, I would transform them into irregular vaulted caverns with squared corners and floors that flowed down in smooth steps. I was obsessed with the idea of making our tunnels easily navigable, of increasing lines of sight, labelling passageways with signs and arrows. If a series of tunnels was too complex to smooth out, I’d just mine it all out into a single enormous cavern. I wanted the chaos of worldgen to submit to my overlord organizer-brain in exactly the way that real-world chaos would not. And the great thing about Minecraft is that if you try hard enough, everything will submit.

In Minecraft, you can organize anything. The chaos you see at worldgen is an invitation to organize as much as you possibly can. And just as a child’s imagination with Lego can tell you a lot about how they think about the world, whatever kind of house you build in Minecraft becomes the most permanent reflection of your attitude and organizational strategy, your values. We’d tell each other: I’m building a mansion floating in a lake– because I value safety and beauty, because the biggest chaos I fear in this world is the chaos of grunting zombies. I’m building a mineshaft that goes to the bottom of the world because I love building perfectly square mineshafts with perfectly spiralled staircases. I’m building a farm that farms itself because I love the needless efficiency of mechanization. One of my friends only built utilitarian cubes– a door, no windows, a torch on each wall, all his crafting stations heaped on top of one another in the corner next to a bed. He told us: this is all I need. And when we called him a philistine, he cracked up.

I mostly quit playing Minecraft when I got a job in California. I felt like I had taken life by the throat and for a long time I only played games relevant to the projects i was working on in the office. But these days, I am admittedly not super happy with the direction that my life is taking and, lo and behold, I’ve started playing Minecraft again.

This time, the first thing I built was a cute little cabin with a farm and an animal pen. My goal is to collect enough sheep to have exactly two of every possible dye color, because I’m a server operator this time, and the one thing I can’t magically give myself with the operator commands I know is a rainbow of thirty-two furiously baa-ing sheep. I’m also going to collect a horse of every color, and a pack of dogs, and probably a billion cats. I’m going to build barns for each of them and probably label all of them. I’ve already built two extremely long roads linking NPC towns– long, convenient, and therapeutically boring to construct. I haven’t started smoothing out all the caverns in my mine, but I probably will. I can feel the impulse coming.

Multiplayer Minecraft feels to me like introversion because even though I play with other people, I’m directly addressing a compulsion-slash-fear so close to the core of my brain that it can’t otherwise be scratched. There are some fears and sadnesses that I can write out of my system– the fear of being alone, for example, or of not understanding other people. But the fear that I’m an impotent disorganized overwhelmed loser can only be easily countered by a world where I’m an all-powerful highly-organized world-dominating sheep-farmer.

Thanks, Minecraft. I accept this gift of sheep-farmery with embarassed gratitude. And, if I keep playing for the next six-and-a-half years, you’ll probably all get another six-and-a-half years of silence on the matter.

You Monster!


You Monster! is a game I made with a team at Molyjam 2013. It is a randomly-generated supervillain-base-destroying game.

You can find the most recent build of the game on our Molyjam page.

You Monster! includes a large amount of randomized text. I wrote all the text in the game and also did some of the pixel art. I also voice-acted the evil supervillain.

This was the first time I had worked on a non-interactive-fiction game at a game jam. It was an interesting, enlightening, and slightly frustrating experience to be part of a game jam team to which I could only contribute a few things.


There is a certain type of person who really can’t handle non-traditional games. That’s all fine; nobody is under any obligation to like anything in this world.

When they get vocal, defensive, and prescriptivist, though, these people can be extremely annoying. I’ve written down my opinions about this before. Every time I’ve seen it used, “XYZ is not a game” has added nothing to any conversation. It’s a regressive argument born out of incomprehension (and possibly fear).

One of Proteus’s creators recently wrote a wonderful article about the issue. He covers a number of the problems I also have with this “debate,” ranging from its use as a tool for exclusion…

The stricter the definition of an inherently nebulous concept, the more absurd the implications. Should Dear Esther and Proteus be excluded from stores that sell games? Not covered in the games press? Since Sim City is either a toy or a simulation, that should be excluded too, along with flight simulators.

…to the disingenuous, uncourteous crusading that often characterizes the not-a-game side of this argument:

Outside of academic discussions, encouraging a strict definition of “game” does nothing but foster conservatism and defensiveness in a culture already notorious for both. Witness the raging threads on the Proteus Steam forum, most of which are posted (and re-posted and re-posted) by people who don’t own the game. There’s a huge difference between this kind of “activism” or claiming something is the Emperor’s New Clothes and individual people trying something and deciding it’s not for them.
Proteus was certainly made by a game developer (and a musician), working in the context of videogames, using game design and development techniques to express a particular set of things. None of that is really important, because the proof is in the playing.

When I was in school, I was exposed to works by strict ludologists who spent all their time haughtily dismissing games with narrative experiences. These people, too, loved to loudly decide what a game was and what a game wasn’t. In the worst cases, these writers would sit around arguing that the more games we made with stories in them, the more we risked “subjugating” games as an art form “under” traditional storytelling media like books and movies. Which is bullshit, of course. I always told myself, “It’s okay. Ordinary people like games with stories. Games with stories will always exist.”

Later, when I started reading a lot of games writers and fans and exploring what “ordinary people,” whoever they are, actually think about games definitions, I was equally bothered by their resistance to games which push traditional boundaries. They treated games like Passage as personal affronts, as threats to their “culture.” They argued– and this is a conservative paraphrase, people actually said this shit– that if we “let” people treat these things as games, then somehow “pretentious” “art games” would “take over” and the definition of “game” would be ruined (presumably because it would be more open, and invite the perspectives of a more diverse range of human beings). So I told myself, “It’s okay. Academics and indie games fans like games which push boundaries. Games which push boundaries will always exist.”

Of course, both of my conclusions were true. Creators will always take games to interesting places, and critics have practically no influence on what games can be. Which makes it doubly or triply ironic that I am now posting about an argument between critics and creators about a game that has no trouble being exactly what it wants to be. (And there is of course the problem that I once even considered myself a critic.) These days, I have a hard time agreeing with myself about whether critics are important at all, to anything:

  1. Of course they are: if they weren’t around, who would I have read and loved in college, when I was learning about games and writing and literary theory and all that other wonderful stuff? Who would hold up a mirror to society?
  2. Of course they aren’t: they don’t actually affect real games. I have my own tools to analyze stories now. I don’t need critics to explain anything to me. Nobody looks at that mirror anyway.

And then there’s the problem of what they do for me, if anything:

  1. These debates make me unhappy.
  2. These debates keep me thinking.

Sometimes I guess we have to put up with frivolous bullshit to keep our brains limber.