June News: Brain Soup?

With endings ended, it is time for some new beginnings. Sprout is fully sprouted, Exploring Matter is explorable, my first term of teaching at at ArtCenter is successfully taught, and graduating OSA students have graduated. For the first time in two years, there is time and space for something new.

The possibilities are endless! But the available time is finite. I have a backlog of game ideas that deserve doing. All of them are bigger than we can reasonably do in a summer, including DROMP, the cloud game I’ve been aiming at for years. So, I marked out two days for brainstorming, and came up with several new ideas that deserve doing – all of which turned out to bigger than we can reasonably do in a summer.

Fortunately, I have friends. One of them reminded me that, when her students come up with a concept that is out of scope, something bigger than can be done with the resources at hand, she counsels them to pick a piece of that idea, and just build the piece. That’s great advice. In fact, when my students have that same problem, I give them that same good advice. Oddly (or not), I was unable to give myself that advice when I needed it. I am, once again, grateful for my friends.

The plan is this: to begin building an anthology of small digital science toys and games. We would publish the anthology as a single ‘game’ on Steam, via Early Access, and slowly add new items as time and funding permit. Note that most of these will be toys, rather than games. They will be pieces excerpted from larger game concepts, fun mechanics that are open-ended, and hopefully invite 20-60 minutes of exploration. Plus achievements, to help motivate and reward said exploration, for those who like achievements.

Ultimately, fate permitting, the anthology grow to include 5 – 10 playful science bits, and exit Early Access into official publication. It will then be a sort of Brain Soup, a curious melting pot of digital dumpling-toys and tasty-treatlike-minigames. So maybe we’ll call it Brain Soup. Or not. Suggestions welcomed.

The first toy will be an algebraic creature constructor, with the working title of Numerologist. This constructor is the core tool of what might someday be a game of mathematical zookeeping, or veterinarification, or something like that (photo shows paper prototype). For now, it shall be a standalone toy.

Once again, thank you all for your support. There is a world of joy in innovation, in building wonderfully odd things that have never been built before. There is utility as well, in the way that unexpected surprises can inspire curiosity and learning. There is often very little support, which makes this challenging. Your help makes a huge difference, so I hope you’re looking forward to sharing a bowl of brain soup with us (whatever that soup ultimately gets named).

As an extra special thanks to those of you who supported us at the $10/month level and above, I’ll be sending you a pair of hand-drawn math creatures, from last week’s brainstorming / prototyping session. They’re rather cute and curious.

Thank you,

– Tim