An offer you can refuse

07 January 2021

I want to create computer programs that engage in meaningful two-way creative collaboration with human users. For this to take place, I think the notion of “offers” is going to need to become more widespread in human/computer co-creativity research.

Highlights from FDG 2018

13 August 2018

I just got back from Foundations of Digital Games 2018. It was pretty close to my ideal conference experience, by which I mean that there was way too much interesting stuff going on for any human person to possibly experience all of it directly. Nevertheless, I had a bunch of great conversations, met a bunch of cool people, and took a ton of notes, some of which (focusing particularly on the highlights or else I’d never be able to get this post out the door) I’ve attempted to summarize below.

History generation in Epitaph

09 January 2018

A little while ago, someone emailed me to ask how my game Epitaph procedurally generates histories for its various procedurally generated alien civilizations. In response, I wrote up a quick summary of how Epitaph actually works behind the scenes. Going back and re-reading that response today, I think it’s substantial and potentially useful enough to repurpose as a “reply to public”, so I’m reproducing it here for the curious.

Embodied social behavior in VR

03 January 2018

Today I ran into a video that highlights something I’ve been thinking about for a while: if we want to use VR to tell (non-farcical) stories about characters interacting in 3D space, we need to figure out how to recognize and respond to embodied social behavior – things like body language, personal space, and contextually (in)appropriate physical actions for the current social practice.

Highlights from the 200 Word RPG Challenge

28 May 2017

I first became aware of the 200 Word RPG Challenge in April of this year, and was immediately impressed with both the elegant simplicity of the challenge itself and the quality of some of the past entries. One thing that really stands out to me about the challenge is how well it matches Robert Yang’s description of “games as conceptual art”:

Authorial roleplaying

24 May 2017

If you’re a fiction writer, you might already be familiar with a certain oft-repeated piece of folk wisdom: that you can use personality tests to help flesh out your characters. By filling out a personality test as the character you want to develop, giving the answers you think that character would give, you can force yourself to consider different aspects of the character’s psyche. What do they value most? How do they differ from other characters? What factors weigh on their mind when they’re making decisions?

Games as storytelling partners

24 March 2017

What, exactly, is a game? And isn’t that kind of an impossibly loaded question? (It is, but I’m going to try to answer it anyway!) In this post, I’ll be making the argument that it can be useful to view games in general as storytelling partners for their players.

Controls as language

19 May 2016

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Esteban said some stuff on Twitter that got me thinking (again) about the value of looking at a game’s control scheme as a sort of language. The whole series of tweets is worth a read, but the concluding tweet in particular effectively sums up a few key parts of the controls-as-language metaphor that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now:

Sculpting possibility space

31 March 2016

One of the best and most unexpectedly compelling things I read last month was Jason Brennan’s post on the value of stating the obvious. So, in the spirit of stating the obvious, I’m going to try to describe a very simple shift in perspective that has nevertheless had a major impact on the way I think about programming.

Locked doors, headaches, and intellectual need

27 October 2015

You know those things that, once you learn about them for the first time, you start seeing them absolutely everywhere? Recently, that’s been my experience with problem-solution ordering issues. They keep cropping up: not just in the context of game design, where I first encountered them, but also in such apparently unrelated fields as math education and functional programming.

Creative tools for non-creators

15 September 2015

I keep coming back to the idea of tools that unlock creativity in people who don’t ordinarily think of themselves as creative. Yesterday, some of my scattered thoughts on the subject spontaneously crystallized into something resembling a coherent argument: successful tools of this kind tend to differ from successful “real” or “professional” creative tools in a number of fairly consistent ways.


Affording Play is an irregularly updated blog by Max Kreminski about humans, computers, creativity, and play.