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Hey I'm curious - do you have a process for researching historical events for these games?  Like do you read a book on the topic? Or watch documentaries? Or just via internet? How do you decide what goes in the game and what gets cut? What gets represented in the game play and what doesn't? Would love to hear the process for getting this level of understanding of the relationships between orgs and interest groups and the curation process!

As always, love the meaning yall built in, definitely felt that dynamic regarding time..

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Sure enough, got a total victory in 27 turns.. This one is definitely fun to see how quickly it can be done.. It really is about making an efficient machine. Even though the gameplay is a bit on the mundane side once you've figured out the process and neutralized the enemy, there's a certain geeky fun in getting the timing right and switching your machine from a resource generating machine to a war machine. I could probably trim down a few turns by switching a bit earlier (stock piled 39 resources this time around before switching.. 35 probably would of been fine).. But probably not motivated to go through it again to do that.. 

Nice simulation! 

Total victory in 36 turns! That was a challenging one to adopt to.. Was losing a lot before I found my way..  Began to realize that the military and infiltration blockers always rose to the top and that it's not too hard to completely disable the enemy, just need to get rid of those cruise missiles.. Then I optimized my play by really getting into the deck building component - not being so quick to pick up cards, and thinning out cards that were not useful (or no longer useful) for my strategy with the EU..  When the time came to run through Donbas, I was a well oiled machine, making sure to stockpile resources before starting the combat.

There was really an aspect of optimizing the machine for different purposes - first I was just trying to survive and put up a solid defense, then I had to build resources, and finally go to war.. Probably could even do a bit better with those last 2 phases.. tempted to try again!

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Liking this so far! Just a quick note as I play: Looks like you can play a sigint card, and then undo last move, and repeatedly play it to get all the intel for free! After undoing the  intel remains on the card. Same thing with Diplomacy - you can remove an enemy card, and then undo - the diplomacy card returns, but the enemy card is gone.  Sometimes with EU Support too.. I'll note this seems to be inconsistent - I just played sigint and it now won't let me undo it.. So maybe this only works under certain conditions.
K I guess this is a general problem - was just able to use it with Harpoon ARMs and completely take out the black sea..

That said, even with some of the advantage from the glitch, having a hard time besting the computer at this!

Clever idea! But I actually really did want to read the text of each question.. Wish it paused or went into slow motion.. Or maybe at least if you died it would keep the text box up so you can finish reading it? As is, it's futile but also frustrating to not read the lines I'm dying over..  

Really well thought out! Very targeted, strategic ideas around apply pressure to businesses, the court system, local government, and law enforcement in order to bring back and strengthen democratic systems..

Found myself using mass protests to fight back national guard defensives.. Found I only needed the slightest support from the general public and the courts, and usually only at strategic times.. 

I'm seeing a theme of applying targeted pressure towards the groups that advance the immediate goals rather than wasting time spreading around focus.. Accomplish one big push and the switch focus before devoting resources elsewhere..

Here I found an optimal strategy pretty quickly and found I could ignore just about everything else. This felt unfortunate given the interesting sounding dynamics between foreign and domestic actors, marxists and slave owners, etc. Also, I landed myself 2 ironclad producing cards which felt ridiculously overpowered, and allowed me to further focus my play.

It made it so when the card "abolish slavery" came around, I was like, "That sounds interesting, butttt right now I need to guns so I can fend off the confederacy and amass enough to do a series of surprise attacks." 

But maybe that's part of the lesson? When you've got a violent force that's constantly threatening to move in on your land and shut down your economy, and stop you from defending yourself (cotton -> legitimacy, legitimacy -> conscription -> guns), the push and pull of domestic and international interests is largely irrelevant. 

This is pretty interesting! But it's barely playable due to the fact that the controls are all backwards when you start playing.. I get the idea there, but I don't think it actually goes with your game's theme - it's not like people going in reverse in tenet actually had to walk themselves backwards to move forward.  So this concept doesn't actually pay off in any way, it's just frustrating and awkward.

Besides, I think you have something interesting here, walking around shooting the bullet in the gun is a concept I haven't seen before, and I suspect would be interesting and challenging with standard controls.

If the controls were changed, I'd be interested to explore what you've created here more - I am definitely curious about what normal time will be like..  I'm wondering if I'll see my character running around doing everything I did.. Sounds really cool!

Glad it's helpful!  I'll add that the challenge of decoding the abbreviations and separating the signal from the noise was definitely a part of the appeal to playing this.. Here are the notes that helped me develop the intuition to arrive at a solution:

Mi-14PL (Helicopter)     
  E     Electronic Warfare          Air + Surface     
  M     Magnetic Anomaly Detector   Undersea (50% if right on top of) 
Skinny Rocket    NASMS surface-to-air     
  P      Phased Array Radar         Air (r6) Surface (100, 100) 
Drone              TB2 UAV     
  O     Optical Sensors             Surface/Mobile (50, 25, 16)  
Air base     
  T     Na(T)o Intelligence         Undersea (15% all over)

Thanks for making these games! I really don't play a lot of games these days, but there's something particularly unique about what you're creating here.. Probably it's the degree of depth, and the way in which the games pull their details from reality - so learning about the game is also learning about details from the world, which feels more worthwhile than just learning best strategies for beating a normal game.

I'll also say, these are the first Hex based games dealing with this scale (zoomed out to the level of nationstate) I've played .. I'd be curious to hear about games that inspire you that you'd recommend. Thanks!

For this one I felt a bit like a new commander, just out of Commander school and thrown into combat, forced to evaluate everything taught in textbooks, to pick out what matters on the battle field. The real challenge here is separating what you need to know from what you don't need to know. There are so many different sensors with so many different affects on so many different units it can be overwhelming, but once you reduce the list just to the elements which are relevant for this scenario, it slowly becomes comprehendible. Not easy mind you.. I took me a few play throughs to eke out a minor victory, and many restarts before I figured out all the bad ideas, and finally developed a fairly solid strategy. I was pleased to find the AI of some of the units seemingly intelligent - the migs seem to behave a bit like a swarm of bees.. I could lead them alone, and they seemed happy to protect their objective, but as soon as I tried to eliminate them, they became unpredictable, costing me a couple wins even as I started feeling experienced.. 
This was the first naval hex game of this collection that I committed to completing, I imagine some of the skills I picked up will be transferable to the other naval games, so looking forward to trying those out too. 

Nice work!

Awesome - I actually caught that film at the time it came out, but I don't remember anything, it'll be cool to check it out with fresh eyes.. Thanks!

Damn... Thanks for that context, pretty fascinating and inspiring stuff! Any films you recommend on this topic?

My pleasure! I know it can be useful to see how people play the game in practice.. Oh and regarding Operation Savanah - it occurs to me that another way to address this is by giving the SADF one more square as their homebase which is not controllable by the player (like the last square in the new Ukraine / Russia game), so they could never be completely extinguished. With that kind of a change, then those Operation Savanah cards would remain relevant, and there would continue to be a need for weapons later on in the game.. Of course it's possible that might be out of alignment with the meta-narrative here.. Was it possible for the ANC to conquer the SADF once and for all? Or did it remain a persistent threat up until end?

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Played this again and recorded it this time - I really like how this one has a lot of challenging decisions, the consequences of which you have to balance against each other. Choosing to keep support up by spending intelligence is a hard decision, and I like that there's a constant threat, and a limited ability to defend against it once the USSR falls. Watching a "U" change to a "S" has never felt so heavy! I also really enjoyed looking up all the terms, and that the game is teaching me about the relationships between all the different interests, which is what gameplay does best. It's fun untangling what you're communicating about the different groups given their response to events that occur. Big lesson this go around: If you don't have activist support, you simply can't even think about entering into formal negotiations, domestic support alone won't cut it... This is definitely one of my favorites of these card-like games.

Nice idea, unfortunately it's teaching the wrong way to think about password security.. For those actually interested, google Diceware

LOLWT = Laughing out loud while terrified
Wow really good! Some feedback: Spent 7 minutes or so running around the city before finding the building entrance, but maybe the entrance didn't read to me as anything important the first time, since we don't call them the same thing in the states. The audio of the monsters are great and terrifying! I couldn't finish it, because it freaked me out too much. 4/5 stars

Interesting! Restarted a couple times as I established my strategy of installing spies in victory point areas, and exfiltrating spies from any areas without them, to avoid having to spend too much time shoring up stealth points..  ended in a Major victory without doing much else.. The idea of embedding spies sounds exciting, but I don't really think I got the vibe of what was at stake.. Perhaps this is because I didn't take advantage of the cards that scored VP points.. I'll give it another shot sometime.. 

Intriguing! Feels like the first part of the first part of the opening scene of a movie.

Fair enough - your tactic worked, I did indeed look up some of these terms!

Loved this one! Living in Detroit, feeling grateful to see this focus on labor history in games.  I love how as I play I can tell a story about what is happening - at first I don't have enough worker support to fend off the racist workers who ruin my support with Black voters, but it's very satisfying later on when I've got the worker support to shut down those actions! Feedback: Some actions are unclear, like I would like to know that I'm converting my management spies into organized crime before I press the button to do that! And it seems like the only affect of this change is that management can no longer bully their spies? This sounds like something which would have some drawback.. The balance is a bit off, I used food very rarely and always had a big surplus so was constantly throwing away the opportunity to do blankets and food drives.. I'll also say it feels a bit weird to get cards that are no longer useful, like secret meetings, when I've already got all the workers on my side and there's no way to lose their support.. Also, when the enemy does actions that have no effect, sometimes that is cool, if I've taken some action to make their actions ineffective, but other times it just feels like they're just inept.. trying to take my movement away when I have none for example.. It would also be great to clarify terms like afl, cio, craft unionism etc.. I'm glad I can figure out what they learn from a gameplay standpoint, but it wouldn't be bad to have a few words of flavor text to describe what the implications are of those things.. Anyways, really enjoyed this one, the gameplay really conveyed the theme, and would love to play more games around organizing like this!

Great analysis, love that you're making games infused with this much meaning. 

Damn, I needed to make concessions in order to fend off a political foe, but I hadn't yet purged my activist leaders of extremists and replaced them with moderates, and now it's too late because the USSR was overthrown so I no longer could get the intelligence I would need to do so. Meanwhile I'm not on speaking terms with my one moderate activist after doing too many arms trades. So now we don't get free elections. Damn't Gorbachev, couldn't you just have kept things together a little while longer?

Nice, that's pretty well thought out! 

I played this a few more times to work on my strategy.. Sometimes the ai strategy worked really well and when it connected to supply to the north east and south it was really lethal.. Really fun to win though, though I suspect insurgency isn't quite as effective, once you get Russia cut off from it's supply, there's really no way for them to come back, since we get 4 insurgencies to their 1 counter insurgency.. Anyways, good work!

Alright, I played again and that bug didn't occur - victory! Really enjoyed the cleverness of timing when to cut off the enemies supply lines, and then coming in with forces to rebuild my own supply lines.. This is my first hex war game I've played, pretty cool! Feedback: The ai's strategy of going straight to take out my supply lines rather than attacking me inside my victory condition land feels questionable!

Enjoying this! Unfortunately the game got stuck at turn 16 and won't let me progress.. The end phase button won't press, and there's nothing else to do..

Ah, Brave.. Looks like it was because I had "shields up" turned on, maybe blocking a font? Now it looks good, thanks!

Would love to try this out, unfortunately something is really messed up with spacing and text.. fix that and I'll definitely give it another shot!

This game does a lot with very little - there are so few components, and yet the theme is spot on. Soundtrack adds to this tension of carefully trying to predict the outcome of your decisions.. It really captures the feeling of sweating during that small, quiet before the storm moment that you see depicted in so many action films. Really enjoyable, with some unique bad guys - my favorite are the orange ones, who aim at the person nearest, but only fire if they've been shot. This allows for a surprise in one of the higher levels which was really satisfying to discover. 

As feedback, I'd say while I didn't dislike any of the levels, most of them don't have new ideas, and I felt like the game could have edited out a lot and then strived to push further to discover what else is waiting to be found inside these mechanics. I was left feeling like there was probably some deeper consequence to the intertwining rules that you've set in place, but we only caught a few hints of it.

I'll also note a moment that felt a bit accidental, but also a bit of gloomy humor: In a levels where I had allies, we successfully killed all the enemies, but in order for the to level end, I found to my surprise, I had to kill my allies. In the moment it really felt like the game was telling me something about my character: Even though sometimes he works with teammates, he's a dangerous loner whose job isn't done until everyone is dead, even those who fought along side him! Later on I found out I just had to wait, so it made that moment feel more accidental, but I still feel like it's a pretty amazing moment in a game like this.. In a game with zero work put into plot or character, it was possible to, through the games, really feel this whole other thematic layer to the game.. Definitely a good example of how you can make a player feel something about a world without narrating it to them..

Anyways, great work, well worth my time, look forward to playing more of your games.

Played this while watching "Kinging-It" on youtube - a delightful pairing. Also, while playing this I realized I don't normally finish puzzle games because I just want the frustration to end! ..but I stuck with it and finished, it really pushed me, and I actually feel like I learned something about perseverance. Nice job!

Looks nice, but I stopped after a few minutes, because if I'm the downstairs neighbor and I say your music is too loud, STOP GASLIGHTING ME AND SAYING YOU"LL ONLY LISTEN IF THE NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR SAYS IT'S LOUD!

The feel of the jetpacks are good, and the graphics are pretty nice..  However, the limits feel a bit arbitrary - we're in infinite space, but if we go two far up or down, it's out of bounds, and it's unclear what the path of the asteroids actually are. 

That said, the 3d aspect is an innovative touch, if a little hard to work with in practice.. 

I beat it - my favorite part came from the first time I got a job, and realized that given my spending needs I was never going to be able to live on the pay the job was giving me, and I'd have to resort to robbing again.. This seems like a realistic way to drive home the feeling of being trapped you might experience as a formerly incarcerated person.. The dynamic of rehab being an important part of breaking the cycle, while also being very expensive and therefore requiring crime in order to achieve is also a good example of the way the gameplay rules reinforce a theme.

So some really powerful messaging built into the game rules in a way that is subtle and does not stand out as moralizing. Good stuff.

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Wow I felt some deep empathy playing this - there are some deep shares here, and with the focus on healing others, I put my hand on my heart a few times, and really felt myself sending out healing to the anonymous leaver of the message.

There are also messages where people are joking around, but since the button says heal, it still puts it in a healing context, because some people are not ready to be vulnerable, even in an anonymous context, and that needs healing too.

Good work!

Hey huaweireacts, appreciate that you took the time to experience all the way through! I have no plans to make a full game or update it..

I do think that the gameplay ideas are promising, but I am deeply conflicted about me as a white person exploring the theme of slavery from an enslaved black person's perspective (you can read more about my thoughts on this in the description).

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment - appreciate the feedback!

Cool, just emailed ya!

Hey is the demo gone now? Was looking to get a little farther, but it got deleted off my machine.. 

Wow thanks for this thorough response!  I think the context of it being a game made for a "You are the monster" game jam is super important for everyone experiencing this game, along with your analysis on colonization.  And I think the mentality of "Not all heroes wear capes, not all monsters are tall beasts that eat children" is true and it is a worthy challenge to use as a basis for a game. 

I see that the comments sections on kongregate and newgrounds seem oblivious to this intent (with some noticeable eagerness  to shift the blame to African people) -  but this is truly territory that games have not yet had many real successes in exploring so I appreciate your attempt, and I am wondering about ways this approach could be tweaked to have players experience this "not all monsters are beasts" theme.

I agree that any approach that comes off as "moralizing" or "educational" will be ineffective, but I'd say that is more a matter of making the experience feel whole rather than contrived.. All games have values and lessons that the player learns intuitively through playing them, although sometimes those values are very simple, like "everyone is out to kill you, and you need speed and quick reactions to survive." To tackle a more nuanced topic like this one requires a different approach.

I suspect one method would be a game where you are involved in intercontinental trade, and you start out with more simple forms of cargo, but are placed in a position where there is a demand for human beings. In such a case, the player would get to feel that point where they have to deal with the fact that the skills they have honed for a simple business purpose, is becoming more intertwined with moral considerations. 

Or, like Papers Please, you play a role that is way more administrative - like tracking incoming and outgoing products. What I love about that game is in the act of playing it you get to exercise moral agency, but it's always at some kind of cost. Morality in the construct of larger forces at play, of the watchful eye of a fascist and  institution. 

What is great about that, is it enables the player to maintain their personal morality, while taking the moral considerations seriously. 

This makes me want to take some time and document games that successfully approach morality without a contrived, "moralizing" approach... I'm sure it's a fairly short list.

Thanks for the notes on how France views colonization - particularly the comment on how there have been movements to highlight the "positive aspect of colonization" - that hit me deeply, as even if it goes unspoken, I feel like that mentality is very much alive in America. Being able to effectively break through the defensiveness around racial shame, is the only way to heal it.  This is something I hope video games can play a role with.. We'll see if that ever pans out!

Goal achieved! Psyched to play the end product..

Oh and one bit of feedback: When I'm playing, I'm relying a lot on spacial awareness to allow me to quickly find the right filing cabinet on the main floor - I was able to do this fairly well, until I discovered the second staircase. Then I could no longer rely on my own intuitive sense of the space, because depending upon which staircase I climbed, the orientation of the cabinet's was completely flipped, and I was forced to ignore my intuition in favor of re-reading everything.

This is a bit hard to describe, because it's a bit of a subtle thing, but because the basement and the filing cabinet room are so symmetrical, and the stairs are at opposite ends, it makes it different to develop an unconscious intuition that would make navigation through the space natural - it's easy to get turned around.. I imagine this could be changed by removing a staircase, but perhaps changing the shape of the room in some way, could make it easier to quickly reorient.. 

Mastering the mental model of the space feels like part of the core skills the game wants me to get good at - a solution to this could make that skill more "sticky". Over time the player would experience being able to visualize where a filing cabinet or box was, and heading right there, rather than having to read the labels.. Mirroring how a real administrative employee masters navigating the landscape in their working environment.. 

Hope that makes sense - Thanks for making this!