These monthly updates are again sliding later in the month. I think this is just the way it will be during the school year. Teaching is a busy and complicated job – and even more so now with the shift to remote learning that is being caused by coronavirus.
So. What’s happened?
The Mindful Mammoth
website is undergoing a moderate upgrade. At this point, it’s all in the
background. We’ve explored several options (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.) and
concluded that the current WordPress multi-site strategy is the best one for
the foreseeable future. The next step is a whole bunch of design work, polish
the rough edges off the site, and then to increase the flexibility of the
layout, so that it works well with both large screens and small ones.
The Diamond Challenge happened. This is a high school
entrepreneurship competition roughly along the lines of Shark Tank. This year,
I reprised my role as a judge (a.k.a shark). I was pleasantly surprised that
roughly half the pitches were in the Social Innovation category. I was stunned
that some of these people had actually begun to implement their ideas, and to
do real good in the world. Wow.
The 2020 Rose Valley Game
Jam also happened. This year, it was hosted by ArtCenter. As faculty in the
game design program, it was my duty (and my pleasure) to support the jammers as
a friendly mentor. Turns out, all of the teams were industrious and capable and
independently creative – so they didn’t need much mentoring. Most of what I did
was appreciate their fine work, but I was able to help resolve a few
challenges, here and there.
Matter in Space? The NSTA, wanting to be of service in this time of school
closings, reached out to ask if I would be willing to share the book for free
for the duration of the plague. I agreed, as did most of their authors. This
means you can find Matter in Space – and most of the other NSTA eBooks –
free on the NSTA website here.
Last, but not least! DROMP progresses. With my bits of free
time, I am reworking the guts of this tactical cloud brawler to make the
foundations more flexible and more stable. The first version was a little too
much spaghetti and chewing gum. Most of the revisions are in place, and I’m now
adding a new set of features. In the next iteration, players will be able to
demolish and rebuild sections of landscape. One of the major learning goals is
to help players understand the interaction between landscape and weather.
Therefore, giving landscape-manipulation abilities to players will help them to
learn these concepts. This will also make the game a little deeper and a little
Yes, all is complicated and challenging. Also worthwhile. I
am grateful for your support – and that of all my friends, family, and patrons. As an extra special
thanks to those of you who supported us at the
$10/month level and above, I’m sending you a signed page of CloudBrains code. You’ll
see that it’s still a work in progress, but also a job worth doing!
January has concluded. Boy was it fast. In this moment of
quiet, it is then proper to share and reflect a bit.
The big happening in January was Game Level Learn Con 2, a small
meeting of quality folks interested in games and education. The inestimable
Tracy Wazenegger shared her gamified global studies curriculum, which was both
impressive and inspiring. Michael Cosimini shared his lessons learned from
developing a card game aimed at medical students. And I ran a short
workshop/lesson on critical game studies – which seemed to go over pretty well.
Enough that I’ve started toying with the idea of writing a short book on the
subject. Having put close to a dozen hours into preparing for that one hour
talk, I found that I had quite a lot to say. More than I realized.
The photo on the top shows me in action. You might not think that professional conferences are intense and exciting, but they are. See the motion blur? Things happened. It was intense. And very worthwhile.
Next. I have resolved to be more proactive about seeking
opportunities and connections. I continue to be excited about DROMP (the cloud
game), and it’s going to happen! But the indie-developer lifestyle is very challenging.
One’s chances of success increase when one has strong connections and supports.
Therefore, my rough goal is that, each week, I will ping an opportunity. It
could be a design contract, a networking lunch, a grant application, a
residency, or perhaps something else. But something.
Last week, I submitted a formal application to the
artist-in-residency program at Shenandoah National Park. The residency offers a
free two-week stay in a furnished cabin. It then requires the artist to run two
public programs while at the part, and to donate an original piece of artwork
to the park within six months of the residency. Which is a pretty big ask. Design
a park-based game, for free? Yikes! And they don’t appear to cover travel
expenses, which would be significant. But it also sounds like a lot of fun.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be continuing to develop DROMP.
It shall be slow but sure. I will also do quite a bit of volunteering – first as
a dolphin in the social
entrepreneurship branch of the Diamond
Challenge, then as an industry mentor at the Rose Valley Game
Jam. So other tasks will evolve only slowly, but evolve they will!
As usual, life has been full but worthwhile. Thank you, for
helping me to make this happen. Thank you, for helping to build a better world
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 second-draft critical
studies lens cards. You may wonder how these cards are different from last month’s.
In short – everything is just a bit better. These have slightly better art, slightly
better words, and slightly better branding. I printed a passle, and gave them to
the folks at my GLLCon talk as a combination handy-cognitive-tool and party-favor.
Yes, it’s been a while. Six months, to be a little more specific. When last we talked, it was July, the high-point of summer. It was a rare piece of time in which I was able to take time to rest, and to explore some possible new projects.
With August came a resumption of responsibility – designing
and teaching classes for One Spark Academy and for ArtCenter. Two schools with
very different audiences and very different philosophies, but both with welcome
and worthwhile challenges. There were also some health things that needed
attending to. All of which is to explain the long silence on this web space.
But do not mistake quiet for inaction! Things were afoot.
Even with the responsibilities of fall, Mammoth-type happenings continued. I
shall summarize – at length:
Fire Tag evolved into Prairie Tag
A ranger from Knife River Indian Villages National Historic
Site (a.k.a. KNRI) contacted me to ask about
our work on Fire and Flora and about Fire Tag. They were interested
in the possibility of adapting these games to work with other ecosystems. I
recommended using Fire Tag as a foundation, and volunteered a small bit of time
to help evolve the game into Prairie Tag.
Both Fire Tag and Prairie Tag are field-type games. Both ask
players to take on the role of ecosystem agents (fire, rain, plant, etc.). And
both games focus on the way that fire can reshape ecosystems. They differ in
some modest details, reflecting the different details of these different
Across July and August, Knife River successfully shared
Prarie Tag with a number of groups, and you can see a few seconds of one game
on this episode of Outside
Science (Inside Parks), a web series created by the NPS.
My hope has always been that the quality and playfulness of
our ideas would enable them to grow and spread of their own accord, so that I
could help bring about positive change in places well beyond my direct reach. Prairie
Tag is a clear example of this very happening. I am gratified.
LEG 3 is published
This third volume of the Learning, Education, and Games
series is subtitled 100 Games to Use in the Classroom & Beyond. It
is exactly what it sounds like.
Way back in 2018, I wrote a proposal for a chapter on Fire
Tag. The proposal was accepted, and the published book contains that chapter.
That chapter on Fire Tag is probably the most time consuming
1000 words I have ever written, from a words-per-minute perspective. Each
chapter was peer-reviewed by multiple people, then personally reviewed by the
book editor, which means every word of every chapter was discussed and agonized
over multiple times.
It’s a solid chapter. IMHO.
The book is now officially published. You can download a pdf
edition for free from the publisher’s website (here)
or purchase a print-on-demand paper copy from Lulu (here).
The MM storefront on TpT is updated
At long last, Teachers-pay-Teachers
has added NGSS metadata to their website. So, I took a few minutes to update
the TpT listings for Fire Tag (here),
and Systems and Ecosystems (here).
All three listings are now tagged with appropriate NGSS info, and should be
more findable by curious teachers.
PCGameIT has published a positive review of Sprout
is a Steam curator. Last month, they reached out to me via email, and asked
about reviewing Sprout.
I shared a bit of info with them, they played the game, and enjoyed it. You can
see their positive review here.
I continue to have enormous respect and appreciation for Jeff
Nusz, for Sprout’s amazing art and excellent game design. At the same time, I’m
gratified that our technical work on the re-build has allowed Sprout to gain
new followers, and to continue advancing the cause of a more beautiful and
DROMP is the thing. Probably.
While I’m excited about Numerologist (e.g. here),
I’m super-excited about DROMP. That cloud game has been on my mind for actual
years. I had switched focus to Numerologist, with the specific goal of building
something smaller, such that we could get it done and published faster. Time
has shown that, while Numerologist probably is a speedier development
proposition, the difference in speed isn’t nearly as much as I thought it would
be. One of my quiet goals has always been to build rich games, things that
invite and reward exploration. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that it
will take significant time to give Numerologist the richness and depth it
So, I have returned to DROMP. Over the holidays, I re-built
some of the core code to be more readable and more expandable. The next goal is
a ways away: a playable demo that exhibits all the core features and mechanics
in an unbalanced vertical slice. At current speeds, this would most likely
happen around the end of summer 2020.
GLLCon 2 is Nigh
Back in 2018, the first Game Level Learn Con (GLLCon) was a
modest gathering of quality folks in the games-and-education field. As such, it
was a big success (refresher here).
will take place this coming Sunday, again in Los Angeles. Once again, I’ll be
presenting. This time, I’ll be talking about critical game studies – the art
and science of meaning, messaging, and impact in games. To help folks be
successful in this venture, and inspired by Jesse Schell’s Deck
of Lenses, I have drafted two new cards for the deck: The Lens of Pavlov’s
Puppies, and the Lens of the Cognitive Corral.
Teaching and learning and making are all challenging tasks.
Sometimes, they take focus beyond what is socially acceptable, and quiet
happens – as it did here, for the past several months. In that quiet hides the
tough, tiring, and un-glamorous work of actually making things happen.
Fortunately, that work is satisfying. Fortunately, that work
does not happen in isolation. Fortunately, that work takes place in the company
of friends, family, colleagues, strangers, partners, and patrons. Those roles, of
course, are not mutually exclusive. And in fact, many people who wear more than
one of those hats.
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 physical copy of a draft
critical studies lens card.
The plan was build an anthology of small digital games and toys, a sort of tasty and flavorful brain soup, starting with Numerologist. Having done some digging and thinking and building, I’m finding that Numerologist isn’t such a small thing after all. As a pitch, it sounds easy. As a real-world thing, there are loads of critically important details, all of which will take time and care if we are to have something that we will be proud of.
Having learned this lesson, we have two options.
Continue with development on Numerologist, and aim to create a standalone toy.
Go back to the drawing board and ‘storm up some much smaller ideas, small enough that they are actually suitable for an anthology.
We’re going with Option B. One of my personal aims has always been to go for quality over quantity. An anthology makes more entrepreneurial sense, as something that would more quickly showcase our skills, and more quickly bring a financial return on our temporal investment. Despite the fact that Mollindustria has been admirably successful with the anthology model, I just don’t feel good about it. It’s not my deal. So. Numerologist it is.
Having decided to go forward with a non-trivial project, why not then return to Don’t Rain On My Parade? Well, that one is an even bigger project. Numerologist is a stretch, but still within the realm of possibility at this time. It is a solid, project-management middle ground.
At this mid-point of summer, I’ve invested roughly 120 hours into Numerologist. For comparison, Sprout took 250 hours of my time – for programming and publishing, not counting the time Jeff put into game design and graphic art. Matter in Space also took roughly 250 hours of my time (for game design, storyboarding, and writing; not counting the time from the software developers). At maybe 20% complete, Numerologist will be the biggest digital project yet for Mindful Mammoth.
Yesterday, I took some time to re-learn some video capture and editing tools, and record a short snippet of gameplay. Then I started having second thoughts. I think I’m not quite ready to make it public. I did, however, share the current super-early build as a behind-the-scenes for $2+ Patrons.
So, I’m going to leave things here. Numerologist is happening, but behind-the-scenes for now. If you’re particularly curious, ping me, and I’ll share a little more, on the DL.
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 printed page from the Numerologist design doc, cleverly folded into an origami animal. Slightly-secret ideas, in animal form, seems appropriate for a mathematical creature creator, right?
Thank you all for your help, support, and partnership on this rocky and quixotic quest to build a better world through play. It’s a road with no end, and a fair number of hardships, but absolutely worthwhile, and much better with company.
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.
You may recall, in the last major news update, I received an unexpected invitation to join the faculty of ArtCenter College of Design, to teach in their just-launched Game Design program. There wasn’t really time in my schedule to create and teach a new class, but it was a great opportunity, so I agreed to do it anyways. This made me a more-than-full-time teacher for most of the past fourteen weeks, working 6-7 days per week to create, manage, and teach various classes. Yikes.
As of last week, my first term at ArtCenter is now happily concluded. The class had some lumps, as all first-time endeavors do. Yet, it ended well. Overall, I think this faculty position is a good fit, and a win-win for both ArtCenter and for myself. I look forward to continuing. Come fall, when the program returns from summer break, I’ll know better what’s coming, and be able to organize a better balance of teaching, making, and living.
And! That’s not all. In the scant bits of in-between time, we’ve managed to wrap up some long-running projects.
Most notably, Sprout is finally all done and finished and published and done and done! Last year, we successfully published to Itch and Steam. After some months of experiment, and adaptation, and pauses while I digressed into other projects, we finally finished the iOS and Android editions of the game. As of last week, Sprout is available to the world (free) on iOS (Apple Store) and Android (via Play Store). With Sprout published and working on all four target platforms, we have finally achieved a full and happy conclusion to this project. Go us!
In a smaller but still worthwhile win, Exploring Matter In Space has been updated, and is now available in the sort-of-intended design. You may remember that it was officially published last October, in heartbreakingly flawed form. Discussion and anger ensued, updates were made, and the book is now in acceptable shape. Which is nice.
Also. The Rose Valley Game Jam happened (photos). It turns out that the Pasadena school district has a games/programming track for their high school students. I hadn’t been aware of this, but it turns out to be a pretty cool program. As part of that, a partnership of various groups (city of Pasadena, ArtCenter, Caltech, and others), planned and hosted a weekend game jam for these high school students. Representing both ArtCenter and myself, I volunteered as an “industry mentor”, and spent the weekend helping students to turn their ideas into a working, digital reality. The students were capable and creative, and I was overall really impressed with them. While necessarily rough, every game also had at least a spark of brilliance. It’s worth saying again – I was impressed.
Last and least, but still notable – I finished the final revision of the Fire Tag chapter for the third volume of Learning, Education, and Games book series: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom & Beyond. The whole anthology of 100 chapters is now off to the publishers for final editing and whatnot. The book should then be out later this year.
What’s next? With three major projects wrapped up and done (Sprout, Exploring Matter, and LEG3), there is time for something new! I have a long list of things I wish I could do, of projects that could be awesome – if only someone could do them right. This summer, I’ll take one, build it out, and see what we can make of it.
My first choice of projects would be DROMP – the game of tactical cloud combat. I think there’s loads of potential here. The problem is that bringing it to fruition, to the point that it could bring fun to players and earn revenue for us, is likely a 6-12 month project – whereas summer is just three months long. This means that, from an economic and production perspective, DROMP isn’t the best choice. It may be that a different, smaller project would be a better option at this time. So I plan to spend the next few weeks exploring possibilities – dreaming dreams, writing design docs, creating some rough paper prototypes, and consulting with friends. Based on this work, we’ll then pick the next project, give it a summer of serious attention, and see where it goes.
As always, this work is both joyful and difficult, with challenges that are technical, financial, and emotional. Because of this, success is only possible with the kind support of many fine folks folks. Thank you.
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 set of silly feature stickers. Think Mr. Potato Head, but flatter. They’re a simple, silly pleasure for the young-at-heart.
Two weeks ago, Tania Marien interviewed me for Talaterra – her podcast about freelance educators working in natural resource fields and environmental education. That episode is now live, and you can find it on her website, on iTunes, on Google Play Music, and several other places around the ‘net.
I met Tania at last year’s statewide meeting of the Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators (AEOE), where she was running a session on what it was like to be a freelance environmental educator. As one of said freelance educator folks, she has taken it upon herself to examine the freelance educator condition in order to 1) promote the value of freelance educators 2) help build a network of freelance educators and 3) help build support for the work that we do so that we may continue to make a positive impact upon the world. Which is all idealistic, wonderful, and practical as well. As one aspect of that work, she has begun producing a regular podcast – Talaterra, on which I am the latest guest. A real honor 🙂
If you’re interested in a short summary of goings on at Mindful Mammoth, and some musings on what it is to be a freelance/indie creator, you should dial into the podcast and give it a listen. You can find the episode here.
Across these past two months, multiple metaphorical yarn balls have wound, unwound, knotted, knitted, and a whole bunch of other verbs as well.
The Very Sad News
You may recall that the NSTA published our book project, Exploring Matter, with several egregious errors. After multiple conversations, the NSTA and I finally managed to agree on a set of changes to fix the problems. My NSTA contacts agreed to put those changes into the update queue, and told me that the update would likely be out by the end of calendar 2018.
December 31st came around, I decided to check on the book, and I found that there was indeed an update! Hopeful and scared, I downloaded the update, and flipped to the problematic chapter. There, I found an incomplete implementation of our agreed upon changes. Of the items on our update list, some were done, and some were inexplicably left undone. It felt like a kick in the gut. I have rarely been so disappointed.
With this partial update, the concluding chapter of the book is better than it was, but still deeply flawed. I am currently working on writing an evidence-based breakup letter to the NSTA. I had thought that this book might be the start of a fruitful, multi-book partnership. I suppose that may still happen someday, in the way that all things are possible. Right now, just I’m too sad and angry.
I’ll share the letter on the $2+ Patreon channel in a few days, when it’s finished. It’s worth sharing carefully.
The Tantalizing News
Sprout is really, really, almost, almost, almost ready for a mobile release. A year after we released it on Mac and PC, it’s doing just great on Steam. As of this exact moment (5:28 PM PT), exactly 39,579 people have played Sprout on Steam. Of those 39,579 people, precisely 782 have written reviews, 95% of which are positive!
In that same time, since our Steam release, I’ve been squeaking out small advances on Sprout. This means updating the build to maximize performance on mobile devices, and learning how to deal with the two main mobile sales platforms: Google Play and Apple’s App Store. I believe Sprout is all ready to go, and I’m just waiting for a final thumbs-up from Jeff. He’s already found one bug, so there may be others still hiding, but I’m pretty sure I’ve now got them all. If not yet, then very, very soon.
So, stay tuned for final news about Sprout on mobile! Any day now.
The Interesting Career News
As of today, I am officially an instructor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. It’s kind of a big deal. In two weeks, I will begin teaching game production in their newly born Game Design program. So far, I feel quite good about this. All the people that I have met have been competent, kind, and excited to do the difficult work of making beautiful things. Which is amazing!
The next fourteen weeks will be nuts. I will be a full time teacher: science and math at OSA, and game production at ArtCenter. I will post occasional updates here, but there will be no noticeable motion on any Mindful Mammoth projects.
And yet! One of the major obstacles in all of our science/game projects has been money. Several worthy projects have simply ground to a halt because we could not take time away from paid projects. With the funds from this new job, I will have the freedom to use this summer to take some risks, and (fingers crossed) make big strides in at least one of these long-postponed projects.
The punchline is that the next fourteen weeks will be rather quiet here, but the three months of summer should bring at least one amazing advance. In short, I’m excited about this new job both for the job itself, but also for the creative opportunities that it will enable.
Twenty eighteen was a complicated year with small triumphs, medium triumphs, and significant sadnesses. With Sprout and Exploring Matter soon to come to an official close, I look forward to taking some of my favorite ideas out of the storage closet, and bringing them into the world with quality and class.
Thank you all for your company and your help. None of this would have been possible without you. 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 cheesy bumper sticker from ArtCenter. It’s out of keeping with the usual style of swag, but highly relevant. This new job is a big deal that could lead to significant positive impacts to our science gaming projects. Fingers crossed!
Let’s see. Since last we talked, Game Level Learn Con ’18 happened. GLL is a small but growing community of folks interested in the intersection of games and education. Folks like us! This first-ever GLL Con brought together 25 quality people to share, play, and converse around our shared interest in learning and games.
At the Con, I ran two workshops. The first, Designing Effective Learning Games, was a friendly workshop where I presented some examples and best practices, then helped attendees to begin thinking about how to go about creating the games that they wanted to create. In second workshop, Systems and Ecosystems, I introduced teachers to the Puzzle of Life -based curriculum (here) that I developed. This curriculum helps students to learn about nature and to practice systems thinking. The above picture shows me (background) working with teachers and game designers at the SystemsandEcosystems workshop. You can find the slide decks for both talks here.
In other news, I am continuing to talk with the NSTA folks about patching our e-book, Exploring Matter In Space. They have agreed that something ought to be done, but we are still working out the details. We have a conversation planned for later today where we aim to finalize our plans for a patch, so that those plans can then be put into action.
I continue to be grateful to have the company of friends and patrons in this quest to help build a better world through play. 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 random sampling of cards from one of the very first versions of Fire and Flora. Why? Last month, my former supervisor at SAMO (and good friend) was cleaning out her office, found some artifacts from early prototypes of the game, and mailed them to me. I thought it was a cool blast from the past, and so I wanted to share.
Once again, IndieCade has come and gone. Once again, it was amazing and exhausting – though in a very different way from previous years.
As a start, I want to call out some of my favorite games. All of these games are seriously indie. They are made by people with amazing skill and heart, and worth your time and your support. You know how you’re always wondering what you can do to make a difference in this ever-crazier world? You can give these games and creators as much support as you can: money on Itch, likes on Facebook, wishlists or buys on Steam, and kind words anywhere you can.
Exposure: A really elegant, challenging, and original action/puzzle game. At first glance, it looks a bit like an artsy knockoff of Ikaruga. Don’t be fooled! The Exposure team started with a similar color-change mechanic, but then took the game in a wonderfully different direction. Can’t wait till it’s out on Steam.
Our Good Leader: An open-world, point-and-click, adventure-mystery that is most definitely not set in North Korea. Still in early stages, it seems to have interesting characters, compelling story, and usefully troubling themes.
Blindfold: My maybe favorite game of IndieCade. It’s a light, tactical, party game that uses everyday pencil and paper in a truly brilliantly manner. It is a good game on its own merits, and an especially good game for me. I’d thought I was a highly creative person, but playing this game made me realize that I’ve been stuck in a sort of creative tunnel vision, and reminded me that games can be so much more than we realize. Thanks, Blindfold.
Unicornelia: My other maybe favorite game of IndieCade. It’s oddly not that much fun to play, but brilliant for the premise and the props and the way they fit together seamlessly. I played it twice, walked away, recruited a friend, then went back and had him take photos while I played it a third time.
Shrug Island: The beautiful brainchild of a single person (though built by a team). The gameplay is a little confusing, but the art, animation, sound, and themes are genius.