GlittePEGBRJE: Glittermitten Grove and Silicon Zeroes
Time for something a little more soothing, and a lot shorter.
Glittermitten Grove is a city building simulation game by Twinbeard Games, a solo indie dev named Jim Stormdancer. You play as a mystical entity that controls the actions and commands of fairies, with your job being to secure the living space, food and resources for the fairies to survive the upcoming winters and to attract more fairies to your Grove. Ultimately, your main goal is to construct the Palace, and to keep all fairies sustained so they don’t leave you. Seasons change, trees grow, and the fairy community can thrive or die based on your decision making and planning.
By far the most intriguing part of Glittermitten Grove is the planning of where buildings are going to be placed. Normally, this is a simple task — many simulation games have some requirements for buildings, but in general being able to optimize their locations is straight forward. Grove, on the other hand, requires all buildings to be built into the trees themselves, bringing up a new layer of execution: arbor maintenance. Tree limbs can be broken if an object built on them is too heavy, wasting the resources of the wood and the building itself as they crash to the ground. Even if the tree can support the building, it does have weight and leans to that side, leading to dangerous circumstances if too many buildings are clumped together on a singular side. Trees can also grow to block other trees off from the sunlight, which kills the smaller ones: which just so happen to usually be the food trees. Then there’s the fact that sunlight is needed as a fuel, converted by devices into sparkles which are used for spells, so making sure that the trees are pruned around those devices is key to keeping the sparkle generation alive.
There’s a lot going on in Glittermitten Grove that, at first glance, wouldn’t be obvious. The art is soft and peaceful, the music calming and happy — all seemingly to mask the difficulty of keeping fairies around. My first attempt I was so focused on tree management that winter came, and I was out of food. For some reason, I forgot seasons existed, and my fairies all left before spring. The difficulty comes not from the numerous resource management, but from the perceived notion that getting to a specific stable state will save you. Yet this is a grove, a forest world that is constantly growing and attempting to expand, and failure to follow suit usually leaves one behind in the cold. If you’re looking for a cutesy city builder that disguises surprisingly challenging and fun gameplay, try out Glittermitten Grove and see just how many winters you can survive.
And no, I’m not making a Midsummer Night’s Dream joke. Come on now.
Silicon Zeroes is a logic simulation created by PleasingFungus, a solo indie developer previously known for Manufacturia. You are a new employee in a reimagined 1960s Silicon Valley company, creating some of the very first iterations of computers. At the time they were just simply logic boards, so it is your job as the newbie with a high intellect (their words, not mine) to put the pieces together and create the logic circuits for each given problem. It starts small, using adding operators and static numbers to teach how addition works, slowly adding more operators and abilities to configure the operators until you create a web of bizarre connections to get each memory slot to double each time.
This game falls under the Codemancer style approach as being Edutainment — it’s fun and teaches a life skill that really I wish I had back when I first started. Unlike Codemancer, which dresses up programming with cats and cartoon characters, Silicon Zeroes takes a more direct approach as an employee in a fake tech start up, making it feel more aimed at teenagers wishing to learn programming. There is the narrative stringing the development along, with a chalkboard full of different circuits needing to be created for this machine to function properly, complete with a table full of random bits and pieces associated with tech. It keeps to the aesthetic, with all of the coworkers talking about the development process, how bits and pieces are behind, and even with a few that imply that what you are working on don’t even matter and won’t go anywhere. It’s too real, honestly, but that’s besides the point.
If Codemancer was the game to start kids on the track of programming and logic, Silicon Zeroes would be the bridge to get them into logic operations. It begins with the basics, masking it all as a start up company with big aspirations, and eventually you’ll make all of the components necessary for a computer. Or, like a lot of start ups, you might crash and burn. Who knows! If you like that kind of risk taking, Silicon Zeroes isn’t really that, but it sure is a fantastic way to help people understand how computers are fundamentally built on logic operations, and how to utilize them in creative ways to succeed.
Ahoy, a-hey, o loddi-doddi day, fair traveller and welcome to Glittermitten Grove! Here you will find a land of…