i can’t stop talking

With the pending demise of Google+ I found myself searching for a new home. And then, I found myself wondering what I meant by home.

I always reflexively thought of Google+ as my community. And so I went looking for communities. Try it some time: what you discover is that searching for a community is at least as much a search of oneself as everyone else. And what I learned is that that’s not how you wind up in a community. You don’t seek and join a community. A community is what grows organically around you.

Google+ was never really a community. It’s a personal view of a broader space full of people with their own personal view. Imagine living in a townhouse complex where you choose all your neighbours. But each neighbour sees themself living in a completely different place with different neighbours. That was the Google+ community.

And the reason it’s not actually a community is that because we don’t share our view of what the community is, we don’t share goals. We don’t support each other because we don’t even agree who we all are. We don’t band together to defend. We don’t band together at all. We occasionally connect, share fun, share pain, but these are aggregations of individual acts. There’s no community. There’s not strength in our shared experience because it’s not really shared. We have no power.

So here I’ll be posting the same sorts of things that I would post on Google+. It will mostly be about games and game design. About building the games I want to play. I have always said that if I build a game that I dig then it’s not a large leap of faith that someone else will want to play too. You can always find links to our games at https://www.vsca.ca.

This won’t be a community either. But it will be a place we can meet and chat about the things I’m interested in and optimistically assume some of you will be interested in as well. Maybe that’s the best we can do online: not fool ourselves that community is genuinely found by amalgamating a million unique experiences under one name. Maybe it can just be you caring about me and me doing my best to care about you.

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themes in Sand Dogs


If The King Machine was about oppression, Sand Dogs is maybe about scarcity. The visual cues are things like Jean Giraud’s Airtight garage of Jerry Cornelius and perhaps Mad Max. The technology is loosely in the early 30s, but as with any Soft Horizon game we could easily see much older and much newer instance of vehicles, equipment, industry. But let’s stay in that region at least to claim affinity with (if not membership in) the dieselpunk aesthetic.

The world is a desert. How big it is, what shape are its continents, how does ecology even work: these things are not in the book. If you feel you need to explain them, that’s cool. That’s yours. Here’s what’s mine.

A desert studded with city states that are roughly self-sufficient. They drill for oil nearby, they do their own refining, the eke out what they can from the unforgiving soil. And every city is near at least one Tomb. Because that’s where the wonders are. Even if it’s mostly illegal to go get them.

The tombs are not really tombs. Who knows what they are. But gods sleep inside and the things buried with them are god things. Incomprehensible. Usually useless. Maybe wonderful if used exactly correctly and lethal otherwise. Nothing, certainly, lives too near the tombs. You might be detecting a whiff of Roadside Picnic here. You wouldn’t be wrong.

And who are you? Well we need to find that out, don’t we? A customs agent, perhaps, keeping too much too strange out of town. A tombrunner, looking to break into a new tomb, find something new, make a mint, and retire. Just like the last town. What’s left of it. A soldier, a getaway driver, an airplane mechanic. The mayor brought low by gambling debts and forced to work the refineries. A business magnate touring their holdings.

One thing we know: the tombs will be milestones on your journey and the scarabs will eat your bones. But when, exactly? How much will you get to see first? And just maybe there’s a path to the Soft Horizon itself, a gateway to other worlds. Maybe you’ll drive your half-track into entirely new lands and find new riches and new needs.