Sunday, January 10, 2016


After being included in some of the "Best games of the year" rankings I was curious about Prune so I bought it and frankly it doesn't dissapoint. It is indeed a very good game

If you don't know it, it's quite simple: Your goal is to grow a tree so the branches reach the sun and flowers blossom. You do that by cutting branches that go in the wrong direction by swiping. That's it

Other than that it's very minimalistic. Shapes and sounds are very basic. Those players who like "poetic" experiences (in the sense that the game doesn't give you all elements and you need to complete it with your own perception/feelings) will have it easy

The most remarkable findings of the game are the lack of tutorial or any training (it's all integrated into the main experience) and the controller simplicity: You just need to swipe. Still the game offers some scalability on this basic scheme, boosted by some additional gameplay elements that offer additional complexity

If any, the game is short. You can finish the main walkthrough in 1-2 hours, make it 4 if you also do a set of post-end additional challenges (blue flowers). However the iOS platform usually don't offer long games since users actually look for shorter experiences

I certainly recommend it. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


As every year at the family reunion, I organize a gymkhana for the little ones. Truth is, they’re not that little anymore so this year I tried to update the challenges to match their age (an average of 10)

I designed a mix of quiz and treasure hunt, as follows: I divided the kids into 3 teams (lead by the elder ones) and their goal was to answer correctly 5 questions (out of 6). These were particularly complicated, so I hid the answers in papers around the house. The teams could choose to either try to response the questions directly, focus on finding the answers, assign some of their members to spy other teams or simply look for the answers online after failing

Accessing the Quiz was not free: I hid some doubloons which granted access to the questions, made by me. In addition to that, some “wild cards” were also hidden. When used, they will automatically “win” any question

Aside from the game itself, I also invested some time buying more “mature” presents. In the past we gave the kids just some plastic toys but since many of them were 10-15 years they should appreciate “older” gifts

In general, it all went well but some things could have been improved:
  • The difficulty of the questions was too much for them. Just trying to answer directly was not an option
  • The pool of questions (around 35) was too large. As a consequence finding all answers was almost impossible. Even with teams of 5 kids each they would find only 70% of all responses. I had to help them a lot during the quiz
  • The wild cards made the difference. The winning team used 2 of them to achieve the needed 5. Otherwise it’d been impossible
  • The new toys (small strategy games, mostly) were not particularly appreciated. Nor disliked, though
In summary, as a “prototype” of the game it was fine but if I do additional iterations it should be better. Every year I try to make a brand new one and it’s never completely satisfactory. Maybe next year I’ll do it again, but improved?