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Hello Friend- Happy end-of-summer!

It's been a busy few months here at the Ludoliminal game lab. Here's the latest:
  • We are excited to announce our next game, Diatoms!
    Past playtesters saw an early version of this game last fall as our "Fraxagon" prototype. While the game is still in development (see a new call for playtesters below!), we are planning for this game to be our first crowdfunded, self-published game, coming in 2023! This is also our first game aimed at adults and kids ages 8+.
  • While Diatoms is our main focus right now, Unicorn Clinic and Rainbow Mountain continue to be under development, so if you have kiddos 4+ who are into unicorns, stay tuned for some upcoming playtests later this fall.
  • We don't have a publisher update yet for Earthquake Eggscape but while we wait with fingers crossed, the print and play is still available for your papercrafting and playing pleasure. We also have a new way to learn to play - a little sneak peek of another project we are working on called "Let's Just Play!" -our take on learning how to play board games.
  • Back in May, we were happy to support our friend and fellow Pittsburgh game designer Shawn Patton at Surprisingly Fun Games in their Kickstarter for their game Tin Spin - the only game where you spin dice. It's fast, fun, and oh so portable (literally IN a TIN : ). The kickstarter is over, but you'll be able to buy the game in a few months from SFG and in local Pittsburgh game shop Games Unlimited. Head on over to Surprisingly Fun Games and join Shawn's mailing list if you want to be notified. Shawn also has a great family game in the works called Mischief at the Museum.
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Playtest Opportunity!
Welcome, aspiring aqua-botanists, to the Society of the Microscopic Arts! Get ready to enter the tiny yet beautiful world of mimosaics.
We're opening up a public playtesting opportunity for our game new game, Diatoms. We are looking for groups of two to four players, ages 8+. We'll be running ongoing playtests all of Fall 2022. In addition to our normal delivered physical prototypes, we are also considering an option to playtest Diatoms digitally for any players who have access to Tabletop Simulator- just let us know when you sign up!
Here are some games from our play that your family or friends might enjoy checking out.
The Isle of Cats - The evil Lord Vesh is heading to the legendary Isle of Cats, so its fantastical feline inhabitants are in need of your help to escape! In this tile-placing board game, every player is trying to fit as many cats (and treasure!) in their ship before time runs out. Each cat is different shaped tile and you'll want to lay them out to completely fill rooms, cover up rats, and group up families of cats.
I'll confess that our family has never played the true full version of this game- instead opting for the official "Family Rules, which streamlines the game, making it faster to learn and play. The game is beautiful and the core mechanic of packing cats is approachable for kids 8 and up. It's 1-4 players and the family game verision takes about 45 minutes once you know how to play. (Also, if you have a cat, the game's box lid is appropriately marked "Cat Setup - If you have a pet cat, you should place it here" on the inside.)
Kim-Joy's Magic Bakery - This is a light, cooperative card game where you cooperate to create various dishes for a magical forest bakery. You have to work together to play sets of cards to complete recipes. Oh, and that magical bakery? It's owned by Kim-Joy, which some might recognize from her cute bakes on the Great British Bake Off show a few years ago. She's had to step out and she's left you in charge to manage the bakery alone while she's away. The game comes with a storybook that details the magical creatures stopping by the bakery in Kim-Joy's absence, and offers a series of 10 scenarios to play through, each of which offers a challenging twist on the gameplay. Through these challenges, the story of the bakery unfolds. Once you complete the 10 scenarios, you can remix the challenges as you like. This super cute game takes 15-20 minutes to play and supports up to 5 players. It says 8+, but since it's cooperative, younger kids can also have fun playing along.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale - In this wonderfully charming video game, you accidentally become the wielder of a magic paintbrush that colors the world around you, then go on a quest to discover why all the color suddenly vanished from the world and why the previous Wielder gave up the brush. The story unfolds as you explore the world, restoring color and solving all manner of paint and platform puzzles. The game is a not-thinly veiled allegory on imposter syndrome and what it means to be an artist of any kind. As a creative professional myself, there are definitely some dialogues in the game that hit close to home- and as a mom raising an artist, I found the experience of playing with my daughter generated some moments for commentary on self-care, failure, and self-worth. Also, this game has the most adorable hint system I've ever seen- your character literally calls home to talk to their parents, who offer their advice on what to do next. Although this game has only one main character, a second player can play co-op by controlling a separate brush (and it's very helpful!) We play on the Nintendo Switch but it's also available on PC and Playstation.
Wobbledogs - Have you ever thought, "I wish I could play a game about mutating, physics-based, procedurally-generated dogs where I can breed them for different attributes based on their gut microflora, which is determined by all the weird things they eat." No? Well, Wobbledogs is the strange, surreal pet simulator you never expected. You can build an expansive hamster-cage-like environment for your dogs as you host generations of mutating puppies. This is a silly, self-paced game that is mostly light-hearted, but it might just have your child learning vague ideas about genetics and epigenetics, Your wobbledogs will also age over the period of an hour or so, eventually dying, unless you put them in cold storage. But don't worry, they'll come back as ghosts...
Our 9 yo plays this game mostly on her own, while we occasionally drop-in to admire her progress breeding a dog with a tail, to solemnly watch the last moments of a favorite pup, or see what all her peals of laughter are about as she explores the emergent and amusing corners of this game. Wobbledogs is available on Steam for the PC.
  • Game Pathways, a new feature at the Family Gaming Database site, tells the stories of how games weave into our personal journeys of identify and development
  • The Diatomist - Learn more about this obscure art from one of the only modern practitioners.

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