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99 Free Games from 2009

Another one from the Experimental Gameplay Projects minimalist competition, this one is like a browser based Flash version of futurist Paul Marinetti’s typographic experiments. If there was more interactive fiction that combined that sort of thing with an odd soundtrack that sounds like a Balinese gamelan band gone haywire, I’d be much less likely to flee in terror when I see that phrase come up.

51/52. Waker & Woosh

A pair of prototypes from the ever interesting Singapore/MIT GAMBIT Game Lab designed to explain physics concepts to middle schoolers. One uses a narrative to get its points

Gears of War

…2 suggest an interesting correspondence between the design of the sound effects and the game mechanics. The mainstream music industry puts a lot of effort into making everything as loud and noticeable as possible and Gears of War seem to be taking a similar approach. The sound effects have likely been “compressed extremely harshly” so that they are as “clear and loud” as they can be, and this idea seems to have carried over into the entire aesthetic environment and gameplay of the series. Though it is paced to provide moments of calm in counter-point to the bombast of its…

May 10th

…intricacies. I had exhausted every possible conversation option with all of the people that live there. I wandered around for hours solving puzzles without knowing how they would add to the main story. I was a resident like any other (although it’s possible I was the only one with a purpose). Suffice to say, I lived there.

In a similar vein, Miguel Penabella compares the similar cinematic and writing techniques in The Last of Us and the 1956 John Ford western, The Searchers.

Switching from sight to sound, our own Zolani Stewart hosts this week’s episode of…

November 25th

…the way it tells the story of the Solaris: an emphatic call to arms for unionisation.”

Sound Principles

Two authors this week offer thoughtful examinations of music design in games–one via in-depth analysis, the other via detailed interview.

  • Player Two: An Interview with Mona Mur – Invalid Memory Miguel Penabella interviews composer Mona Mur and they discuss, among other things, sound and music design emphasizing unpleasantness rather than pleasure in games about war and violence.
  • Gamasutra: Jason Yu’s Blog – Breaking the Loop: A Look at the Cinematic Music of Breath of the…

ReadySet Zam archive


Braid 10th anniversary Critical Compilation

…all sound, no real fury.

I find this curious. For Passage, the context of it being an early – and short – indie game means I still view it in the positive. For Braid, the context of its fame, coupled with its complexity, leaves me thinking it was an important, but stumbling, first step in a larger tapestry of indie games.”

A decade out from release, it feels undeniable that Jonathan Blow’s puzzle-platformer changed the gaming landscape in ways big and small, but the actual substance of the game – whatever that is – seems distant, tied…

April 22nd



I love it when there is enough writing on music or sound in games to warrant a section in the roundup – this week brings two soundtrack-focused analyses.

  • The Anxiety of Celeste and its Music | Game Score Fanfare – YouTube (video with accurate subtitles) Matthew Dyason highlights narrative and musical moments that explore the theme of mental distress, focusing on Lena Raine’s composition techniques.
  • The rise of the ambient video game | The Outline Lewis Gordon links music and software design to the regulation of emotions in post-bubble Japan.

January 28th

…Wakelin – Kotaku Logan Booker simply shares some of the iconic box art he created.

  • The Case for Amagami in 2018 – Medium Tom James highlights the importance of eye animations in the emotional resonance of a dating sim
  • “Eyes are an unsung, but hugely important piece of the puzzle, placed on just as high of a pedestal as its art, writing, and voice acting when it comes to characterization.”


    • Not Another Word: Silence as a Game Mechanic – Not Your Mama’s Gamer Jordyn Lukomski explores how a lack of…

    October 9th

    …what’s possible and what’s a certainty in the game. If what was shown in the marketing materials is possible in No Man’s Sky, then Hello Games have done nothing wrong, but if the version of the game that was released doesn’t allow for those possibilities then there’s a potential issue.”

    Fostering dependence

    Sound and interaction in games can create subversive narratives, playing on our expectations and reversing the expected outcome. These two pieces address the importance of silence in sound design, and weakness in player-character empowerment.

    • Indie Horror Month 2016: The Quiet Apocalypse of…

    August 30th

    …color on the Commodore 64 (video), and how game developers creatively worked around these constraints.

    Back at Kill Screen, Dan Solberg recently paid a visit to Chicago’s Bit Bash indie game festival, and in particular looked at its layout as a work of gallery curation and sound design:

    Although the games in this space had their own little external speakers, the house and electro pop booming from the stage assumed each game’s soundtrack save a few levels-peaking sound effects here and there. By overlaying the space with music, each game’s embedded audio may have been replaced, but