2023 Recap


This is the fifth year I’ve done one of these recaps. This is the longest and by far the most self-indulgent version of it. You can view all the previous posts in their specific category, but here are direct links to the entries for: 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Here’s a table of contents for this post:

By The Numbers

Game Design and Development

  • 2 iOS apps released (1 board game, 1 open source game-related utility)
  • 82 game design journal entries written (59 tagged tabletop, 15 digital)
  • 28 journal entries were “a continuation” of previous ideas
  • 2 journal entries were ideas from dreams (neither had any merit tho)
  • 9 board game ideas prototyped
  • 1 board game prototype ordered from The Game Crafter
  • 1 presentation given at CrafterCon on digital board game development

Games Played Log

  • 274 unique game entries
  • 195 games played for only one day
  • 240 days I played played some Picross
  • 20 game reviews in my game log

Board Game Arena

  • 457 plays completed there
  • 262 plays where I won (57.3%)
  • 78 different (unique) games
  • 56 plays of Gizmos (the most)
  • 24 different games only played once

Other Activity

  • 52 books read in 2023
  • 15 of those books I rated 5-stars
  • 52 movies watched in 2023
  • 4 of those movies I rated 5-stars
  • 8371 songs scrobbled
  • ~3104 photos taken (all from my phone)

Game Design and Development

Sometime last year I moved all my journals into Obsidian. Obsidian is great, but more importantly, they are all now markdown files, and much more organized than they were before.

A separate, but related project is to move all of my game design related documents and files into a .git repository specific to that purpose. It’s one of those projects that may be perpetually in-progress (although it is finite!), because there are so many files still in Google Drive. Some of those will remain, because they are publicly shared, or collaborations, but in all cases, I’d also like a copy to live in the repository.

The peace-of-mind I’m getting from this cannot be overstated, but additionally I’m finding it much easier to find where I’ve put things, and make progress on projects that have been shelved for ages. This process also surfaced some projects I’d completely forgotten about, and my list of prototypes (by what stage of development they’re in) has grown as a result. (Specifically, before the markdown version, I only had 28 “playable” board game prototypes listed, and I now have 31.)

My Game Design Journal

I wrote 82 game design journal entries in 2023. That’s twice as many as 2022!

After trying to “eyeball” some statistics, I decided to go through and tag all my journal entries, which made compiling the statistics reported above a simple matter of counting the instances of that tag in the file for 2023. (The tag count by file is built into Obsidian, and this was the main reason I decided to split the file up by year.)

My re-reading and parsing of the journal entries revealed a few other observations:

  • First, I think I tend to have a lot of game ideas where I have some game components, and I want to make a game using those components. For example, one of my holiday gifts this year was a set of 4-colors of wooden checkers pieces, and since receiving them, I have thought of no less than 4 new games playable with those pieces.
  • Initially, I wanted to tag new game ideas with whether or not they’re variants of other ideas. But I realized that it’s very hard for my brain to sort this out at a glance. This is actually a really hard question, and I now recall that there was a long thread in BGG about it sometime in the last year as well. I didn’t really resolve this, and decided not to report this statistic.
  • Related to the above, I was very liberal in my use of the #continuation tag. In the past, I always tried to list the date of the previous design journal entry that the idea continued, but this time around, I just went with whether the idea was building on any previous ideas I’ve had. A great many journal entries are about games I’m actively working on, and I certainly don’t list all the previous entries in those cases.
  • 7 journal entries were about variants for existing games not designed by me. Some of these were about new Go variants. I spent a lot of time last year thinking about Go variants, and am still considering publishing a set of them in some form or another.
  • 6 of the journal entries were game ideas that are playable with common components. I generally don’t include those kinds of games in my prototypes list. (Unless I really think they have merit, and then I’ll spend some additional time thinking about how or whether they could become commercial games. Maybe through some component trickery. Or, as was the case this year, perhaps by bundling them with other Go variants.)

Video Game Development

I was fairly focused on non-game contract work this year, but still managed to find time enough to work on (and release) the app version of my game Blither. I still have a lot of tasks on my TODO list for that game, but my enthusiasm for working on it has almost dried up at this point.

The only other video game development of note that I tackled in 2023 was to spend a few weekends porting Go Tetris to Swift. That project is maybe 50% complete at this point. I’m using an open source cross-platform game engine, called GateEngine, and I documented some of the exploration and learnings around using the engine (and my port more generally) in a series of posts on the Swift.org forums.

Games Played Log / Journal

Not including BGA turns, other turn-based board games, or Picross, here are my most-played games of 2023:

  1. Diablo 4 (Xbox): 117 days
  2. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch): 80 days
  3. Army of Ruin (Steam): 30 days
  4. Coral Island (Steam): 25 days
  5. Stitch (iOS): 21 days
  6. Hogwarts Legacy (Steam): 21 days
  7. Grimoire (iOS): 19 days
  8. Garden Tails (ios): 13 days
  9. Rogue Genesia (steam): 13 days
  10. Sumaddle (iOS): 12 days

Note that there are no tabletop games in my top 10, but I did play tabletop games (in person) on 49 days in 2023, which is a heck of a lot more than the 31 days from 2022. My most played “in person” tabletop games, by number of days played were:

  1. Passo: 5 days – I played this a lot with my kid, and because the game is relatively short, most of the time we played at least 2 out of 3 games, so this number may be way low compared to number of completed games.
  2. Cascadia: 5 days – My guess is I “just” played this 5 times.
  3. Go: 4 days
  4. Gizmos: 3 days
  5. Say?: 3 days – This game’s designer, Khanat Sadomwattana is really on a roll. I just received Yuma from the kickstarter, and am eager to play it.
  6. Aegean Sea: 2 days
  7. Meadow: 2 days – Shout out to Nate and Ellie, who own this game.
  8. Euker: 2 days – This is a thanksgiving tradition among my dad’s side of the family.
  9. Splendor: 2 days
  10. Splendor Duel: 2 days – I mostly got this to see what makes it tick. It’s a fine 2-player Splendor variant.

It’s obviously an idiosyncrasy of my “played log” journaling that I don’t currently log when I played a game more than one time in a day. I’m going to try and think of a way to fix that for 2024.

Board Game Arena

My top 10 games played on BGA this year were:

  • Gizmos: 56 plays
  • Innovation: 43 plays
  • Splendor: 26 plays
  • Race for the Galaxy: 23 plays
  • Azul: 22 plays
  • Jump Drive: 20 plays
  • 6 nimmt!: 20 plays
  • Stone Age: 17 plays
  • Ticket to Ride: 15 plays
  • 7 Wonders Architects: 14 plays

It’s no secret that I love the game Gizmos. I was happy to see it at the top of my most played on BGA list. All the games in that list are ones I play with folks on my Tuesday night online game night. We play asynchronously all week, of course, but an hour or two on Zoom definitely helps keep things moving along. Notably, the group has shrunk a bit in the last year. I stopped inviting other folks, even when it looks like it’s not going to be many people on the call, because a) I’m lazy, but b) it’s easy to end up with too many. (We usually try and play only one game concurrently.) c) I also think it can be sometimes awkward when folks on the call don’t know each other. It’s always hard to align everyone on which games to play and when, maybe even more than with an in-person game night. Even when everyone has known each other for years (as with our core group), it can sometimes be hard to pick a game, which is why we end up falling-back on these staples we know everyone already knows and loves.

If you’re reading this, and are one of the people I’ve stopped pestering to come play with us, please know that I still want to play with you!

I also wanted to remark on some of the games I personally really enjoyed learning this year on BGA:

  • Ark Nova: 11 plays – Just barely missed the top-10 cut off. I’ve never played this in person, but I’ve enjoyed getting to play it on BGA.
  • boop!: 9 plays – I saw this in person and dismissed it as yet another commercial game that’s too simple, and probably broken. But it was something much more rare: a commercial release of an abstract strategy game with some actual depth and clout! I have yet to pick this up (at least in part because I can play it any time on BGA), but I probably will do so eventually.
  • Let’s Catch The Lion! – 7 plays – more about this one below.
  • That Time You Killed Me – 3 plays – I’ve owned the physical version of this since it came out, but have yet to play with my copy. The digital implementation was the push I needed to finally learn to play, and explore this game a bit.
  • Earth, and Forest Shuffle – 2 plays each – I think it’s interesting that I only played both of these tableau builders twice. They were both new to me, and I thought I’d played both of them more than I had. I really enjoyed both games, and have considered picking up physical copies. (More so Forest Shuffle than Earth, but only because I think it would go over better with my wife & kid.)

Abstract Strategy Games

Toward the end of December, I started playing games on AbstractPlay.com. I only finished 2 games there by the end of the year (one game of Tintas, and one of Adere, both new-to-me and excellent games!), and I’m eager to continue to play there daily. I’ll include stats for those games next year in a similar way to BGA. I’m always saying abstract strategy games are my favorite, and I do like to try out new ones whenever I get a chance, but in general, they seldom make my “most played games” lists. So I decided to take a closer look at my plays of Abstract Strategy games in 2023. (And additionally, maybe I’ll try and change this somewhat in 2024.)

One of the standouts for me this last year was a game I didn’t acquire until mid-November, called Passo. Shortly after that, I convinced my 13-year-old to play it with me, and my game log says we played it 5 days. I don’t remember a day that we played it where we didn’t play best out of 3 times. And there may have even been a day or two where we did that twice. On the other hand, one of the 5 days was introducing the game to Nick Bentley, and I believe we only played it once.

Passo is one of those short games with simple components that I really wish I’d designed. I’ve even spent some time in past years working on designs played on modular boards! Before taking our first plane trip in 3 years, one of the things I did to prepare was to write up a list of about 10 modifiers to try out while playing Passo. Then on the plane, I presented these to my kid as a “challenge” for us to figure out which ones are fun. (The grid of 5×5 board spaces fits perfectly on one of those back-of-the-seat tables, by the way.) Interestingly, we tried a bunch of combinations of all my ideas, and none of them felt as good as Passo. I don’t know whether we gave them a fair chance, but the impression I came away with is that Passo is incredibly “honed” in its simplicity. It’s hard to make a better game out of its components!

Looking at my log again, the abstract strategy game I played on the most days was Blither, (the game I released as an iOS app) played on 10 days. I’m certain I actually played it more days than I logged it, since I’m also sure I worked on it more days than that, and I doubt there was a day I worked on it that I didn’t finish at least a game or two.

Other notable abstract strategy games:

  • My friend Mike and I played boop! on BGA 9 times in the course of about 3 months between March and June. At first, I thought it was broken. (Mostly because you can get into cycles, or at least very long sequences, but it’s also possible to get out of them.) But the more I played, the less I cared. I enjoy it well enough, and really loved reading the boop! designer diary on BGG.
  • In contrast, Mike and I only finished 7 games of Go in 2023, though we always had a game going throughout the year. I played at least 3 games of Go on my phone this year (in the Smart Go app). And notably, I played at least 3 physical games of Go, although all three were against either my 13 year old or other teenage friends they had over.
  • It’s hard to say how many, but I also played quite a few Go variants this year. Mostly on Ludii, and AiAi, but as I mentioned I spent a lot of time thinking about them, and part of that time was just spent googling around for what’s out there.
  • Notably, I found that Stephen Lavelle has two excellent digital Go variants: Pachingo, and Go48 He is one of my game-design idols. Arguably a genius.
  • I played 7 games of Let’s Catch the Lion! on BGA – I think of this little Shogi variant to Shogi as Tic-Tac-Chec is to Chess. I love both of those small games. My impression is that they give just the tiniest taste of the tactics you can find in the larger game, while still being their own totally satisfying self-contained experiences. Although I’ve wanted to for many years, I never spent the time to learn how to play Shogi. I think I’ve been intimidated by the usual look of the pieces, which are indecipherable to my western-biased eyes. I enjoyed Let’s Catch the Lion! so much that I ordered the full version (also known as “Dobutsu shogi in the Greenwood”) from a little shop in Japan. It’s my understanding that version is essentially Shogi, with kid’s pieces. I haven’t received it yet, but when it arrives I’m eager to explore some of the other variants described in this Shogi geeklist.

Video Games

I mostly played Diablo 4 with friends, and I had sort of grown tired of it at one point not too long after it came out, but then the second season content sucked me (us?) back in again. Plus, at some point my brother got an Xbox, so I was also playing with him too for a while.

Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is easily my game of the year. It’s just a really solid sequel, with tons of little improvements over the first one, giving me plenty of reasons to keep playing. Just thinking about it makes me kind of itch to play it again, though it looks like the last time I played was back in September.

I was surprised to see iOS appear so many times in the top 10. Although it’s kind of disappointing which games are on there. Stitch is a nice “easy” puzzle game. I think it’s puzzles aren’t all that great, but it’s art is very nice and the experience is meditative. I think it has a similar feeling to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Both my wife and kid are also playing it. (And have probably played a lot more than I have.) I was actually going to drop Apple Arcade with the recent price increase, mostly because I haven’t played many of the games lately and have been disappointed with the recent releases, but I mentioned it at the dinner table and was told that would be unacceptable.

I had to open Grimoire to remind myself what it is, and it’s definitely a stupid idle clicker game. Garden Tails isn’t much better, though at least it’s got some match-3 in there, and it’s pretty. I should play more Sumaddle though. That’s a good puzzle.

I didn’t start playing Coral Island until November 18th, so it’s impressive that one got to 25 days. I’m kind of done with it, but there are a few other objectives that I could imagine playing just to get to. It’s definitely got content to play a lot more than I have already, but I only started playing because my kid wanted to play it. I definitely got sucked in. Notably, our friend Angela got it for Xbox, and ran into a ton of bugs that don’t exist (as near as I can tell) in the Steam version.

I play Picross fairly frequently as part of my daily workout, so it doesn’t seem fair to include it in the list above. Yes, it was (again) my most-played game of the year, at some 240 days. But this is fewer than last year’s 297 days, and at least part of the reason for that is that I figured out how to use a “spare” pair of Joycons with my Steamdeck. So I bought a dock and hooked it up to my TV, so it’s pretty functionally equivalent to playing a game on the Switch. It’s a little more effort to get it set up, so I still play Picross for my workouts 75% of the time though.

Video Game “Platforms”

Here are the results of tracking “where” I played games last year:

  • bga – 71 games on 355 days
  • tabletop – 51 games on 49 days
  • ios – 46 games on 131 days
  • steam – 36 games on 130 days
  • web – 33 games on 32 days
  • xbox – 14 games on 136 days
  • switch – 9 games on 279 days
  • oculus – 8 games on 9 days
  • aiai – 8 games on 5 days
  • ludii – 5 games on 2 days
  • playdate – 1 games on 1 days
  • ps5 – 1 games on 1 days

Poor Playdate. I played so much of it last year, but the last time I fired it up was to update it and check out the new catalog (store) built into the OS. But apparently I didn’t actually play any games that day, or I forgot to log them. (I honestly can’t remember.) There are at least a couple that I really want to try out now, so hopefully it will get more entries in 2024.

PS5 is a weird one. I’m sure I turned my PS5 on more than 1 day last year… but it’s true that there weren’t any games on it that I got into the way there were in 2022. I still have a small stack of games for it that I haven’t even opened yet, but that’s true for every platform.

A few words about “web” – It’s worth noting that, when entering a web-based game into my log, I often have the dilemma where I wonder if “web” is the correct platform. For instance, BGA is a website! Obviously I treat BGA as its own platform, and it’s tracked separately anyway, so that’s a bad example, and I’m planning to treat AbstractPlay.com the same way, but what about Yucata? (I actually didn’t log any games on Yucata in 2023, but I did in 2022.) Ludii is also a website, but I log plays as Ludii, because it’s also a stand-alone app. I think this year I’m going to try and avoid using “web” as a platform, and use the domain instead. So if I’m playing a game on itch.io, I’ll put that as the platform instead. This decision is at least in part because I realized I didn’t log all the times I was playing Glory to Rome on the website that exists for it, or solving puzzles on Puzzmo, which I can’t imagine I did more than a small handful of days. Even so, I should be tracking those, and will endeavor to get better at remembering this.

Favorite Video Games of 2023

I already spoiled this section by saying that Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is my game of the year. And obviously I liked Diablo 4 just fine as well, or I wouldn’t have played so much of it. I kind of hate how loot-box-y it is, but there’s always plenty to do without paying.

Other notable games I loved this year included:

  • Cocoon (Xbox) – I finished this over 5 days. I’m pretty sure it would have been 3 days, but I got stuck on the very last puzzle of the game.
  • Walkabout Minigolf (Oculus Quest) – This is a surprisingly fun VR game, especially when you play with other folks. It feels basically exactly like playing regular minigolf, except you’re in a virtual world, where strange and interesting things can happen. (Also where you can fly around.)
  • Six Match (iOS) – I’ve had this game on my phone for a while, and have played it previously, but I played a bunch of it again this year. It’s a very interesting take on match-3, I think. They added puzzles at some point, and I enjoyed those quite a bit. (Probably haven’t even beat them all yet.)

Shout out to the weird (new-ish?) subgenre of “avoid-em-up” games, also known as “survivor-likes”, since Vampire Survivors was the one to bring a lot of attention to games like it. Army of Ruin made my top 10 most played, but there are a kind of ridiculous number of them in the middle of my games played log this year. A lot of them sitting at 5-10 days played, including Brotato, Boneraiser Minions, Pathfinder Survivors, and 20 Minutes Until Dawn. They all have upgrades that scratch a particular itch, and feel sort of like eating popcorn to me. Not filling, and certainly not nutritious, but satisfying none the less. My favorite of the bunch is probably Boneraiser Minions.

Other Tracked Activities


I marked 15 of the 52 books I read last year 5-stars. My favorites were probably these:

  • Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult, by Maria Bamford – I am an unabashed fan. This was a hilarious memoir.
  • Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me, by Ada Calahan – Two memoirs in one year? I loved this book almost as much as I love Frank O’Hara. His best poems are on another level, but this included some very choice lines, and got me thinking about O’Hara and his work again, and was also lovely in its own right.
  • Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree – This was an excellent cozy book about an orc warrior whose life is changed by trying coffee for the first time, and decides to open a coffee shop. Delightful.
  • A Heart that Works, by Rob Delaney – Okay, seriously, I NEVER read memoirs. Comedian, actor, and writer Rob Delaney writes here about how he got his first book deal by being funny on Twitter. It’s probably worth noting that I listened to both this one and Maria Bamford’s book read by their respective (celebrity) authors.
  • Witch King, by Martha Wells – This was the first in a new series by one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t read Martha Wells, start with either Murderbot or the Raksura books (sci-fi robot or fantasy dragon/changlings – to taste).
  • Defekt, by Nino Cipri – This short sequel to an equally short first novel about the multiverse connected to the backs of big box furniture stores is compelling and lovely.

If you read this, and follow me on Goodreads, know that I’ve stopped updating there, and may even delete my account eventually. I’m now posting my mini-reviews, as well as rating and logging the books I read, on The Story Graph.


The number of movies I watched each month of this year was quite variable. I only watched one movie in August (a really weird french Power-Rangers-inspired movie called Smoking Causes Coughing, 4-stars), which was the least, while in December I somehow watched 11 movies.

I marked the following four movies 5-stars in 2023:

  • Nimona (2023)
  • Barbie (2023)
  • Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)
  • Twelve Monkeys (1995) – This was a re-watch, and remains one of my favorites.


I scrobble all my music, and last year sometime I imported everything from Last.fm into ListenBrainz.

I still send my scrobbles to both places, however, and interestingly enough, they have conflicting numbers for how many tracks I listened to. Last.fm says I scrobbled 8,578 tracks, while ListenBrainz says it was only 8,371. Last.fm’s report includes a bunch more information, so I’m not ditching it any time soon, but its totals for “most listened” both albums and artists are lower! I think there must just be some difference in how both services compute albums as “listened”.

Both sites do agree on a lot of numbers, so I think this is accurately my most listened to albums and tracks:

My Top 5 albums listened to in 2023:

  1. No Rules Sandy, by Sylvan Esso
  2. The Lion King: The Gift, by Beyoncé (and other artists)
  3. History, by The Knocks
  4. Touche, by O’o
  5. Sylvan Esso, by Sylvan Esso

My Top 5 tracks listened to in 2023:

  1. Apricots, by Bicep
  2. Heaven Takes You Home, by Swedish House Mafia
  3. Coffee, by Sylvan Esso
  4. Claws, by Charli XCX
  5. Echo Party, by Sylvan Esso

Shout out to Le Youth, which both sites agree was in my top 5 listened artists, but somehow doesn’t appear in either of the above lists. Bonobo and Ben Böhmer also appear in my top 10 artists.

Notes on Process

A bit about my tracking of this stuff: I’ve spent a fair amount of time for this post pulling together all my data. Here’s a list of my sources:

  • the daily log (text file) self-reporting all the games that I play
  • Board Game Arena
  • my game design journal entries
  • The Story Graph (I also track books I read and my reviews in a text file)
  • Letterboxd (I also track movies/dates/reviews in a text file)
  • Last.fm and ListenBrainz for music

Around the time I started the original game log, I was trying to log all my games to Board Game Geek (BGG). BGG is great for board game plays, but doesn’t do all the other games that I play, so I mostly stopped using it (or BG Stats, which syncs with BGG) in favor of my own custom text file that just lists the date, and any games that I played that day, as well as the platform each game was played on. Every year since 2019, I’ve enhanced how I parse this log, so I can milk it for more statistics. The latest version is, of course, written in Swift.

I spent at least a couple of hours on the Swift project this year, and mostly it does exactly the same stuff it did last year, but now it does it better. It’s got better error reporting (important for the inevitable data-scrub that has to happen before the file parses correctly), but also the report it spits out is clearer, and ordered with the totals that I really care about at the bottom (while still printing all the gritty details above, so I can fact check and get into the weeds if I want to). Finally, I did also do a refactor of the project itself, moving it from a command-line macOS application to a Swift Package executable. This allowed me to write some tests. So now I’ll know if any future changes I make break parsing of the older log files.

And I have already identified two things I want to be able to parse for next year:

  1. I’m going to start marking games that are new-to-me games in my “played log”, so I’ll have better stats on how many games I played that I hadn’t before. I’ll do this by prefixing them with a +.
  2. I’m also going to mark games that I played more than once in a day by adding something like x2 or x10 in the parenthetical section after the game name. Most of the time this won’t apply to video games, so it’s fine if it’s missing, but for board games or any other game where you can “finish it” one in a sitting, I’ll add this when necessary.

I’m 6-days into 2024, and I’ve already used both features a bunch.

I will of course continue to pull in my digital board game plays from Board Game Arena (BGA) next year, but I’ll be adding games from AbstractPlay.com to that as well, which means I’m pretty sure I’d like to somehow incorporate parsing both of those and then integrating them into the Swift project as well. Both so I can get consistent gameplay counts, but also just so I don’t have to do as much manual counting.

I’ve written quite a bit about my game design journal, and in some posts I did analysis around what kinds of ideas I had. This year, because I’d already added the entries from 2023 to .git, I decided it was fine to add to that file as long as I didn’t change its contents. So I went through all my ideas from 2023, marking each entry with 2-5 hashtags. Obsidian has several features around hashtags that let me easily pull together the raw numbers that I reported above.

Of course just the process of reading through all the entries from last year was interesting, and I even found an idea I thought might be of interest to the creator of a game I like, so I sent it to him. Hopefully he’ll find that unsolicited idea welcome, but I’m not holding my breath for a reply.

I mentioned moving to The Story Graph for book tracking. It’s what both my wife and I have decided to use instead of Goodreads. We both have Goodreads accounts that go back over a decade, but are unhappy with Amazon (who owns Goodreads), so we’ve decided to stop using the Goodreads entirely. I also have a text file for books I’ve read, and that file is actually far older than any of my other logs. (I neglected it for many years in the middle, but started keeping a list of books I read in 1995, while I was still in High School.) I love some aspects of The Story Graph, but I recently wanted to see a list of my wife’s books read in 2023, and that seems to be impossible currently, though the site has all this information and will show it to me in different ways, as well as show it to her. it just doesn’t make that list available to other users. (The stats are, in general, far better on Story Graph than on GoodReads though.)

As usual, pulling this post together took way longer than I’d expected. This year I even set aside a whole day for it (January 2nd), and even though I actually got a decent start on it the day before, I still wasn’t ready to post it at the end of the day on the 2nd. I then proceeded to spend at least half of the rest of the week on this endeavor, and still hadn’t finished it by Friday. I’m guessing I spent ~20 hours putting this post together.

Looking Forward

I enjoy this kind of introspection for its own sake, but I sometimes struggle to come to any conclusions after. And since I dislike putting pressure on myself, I usually avoid new-year’s resolutions and that sort of thing.

But in spite of that, I’ve decided I’m going to make a concerted effort to try and play more abstract strategy games this year. I’ve already made a deal with my kid to play a game of Go at least once a week, but I’m not holding my breath for whether that happens.

I will also be attending GAMA this year for the first time. I’ve heard it’s the industry conference to attend for Board Games, and I’d like to check it out for myself.

Here’s hoping that you and I both have a productive and happy 2024!

2022 in Games Played and Created

2022 was the 4th year in a row that I kept track of all the games I played. This is the 4th recap I’ve written on or around new year’s, and I’ve only just created a category for them if you care to go have a look back through the others. I hope to keep up this tradition as long as I’m alive. But no pressure.

My Games Played in 2022

I won’t write so much this year about my method of keeping track. Suffice to say, it’s a “manual” collection, so obviously it has its flaws.

First, the numbers.

  • unique game titles: 352
  • days I logged at least one game played: 365
  • game titles logged only once: 193
  • journal entries about specific games: 30

Top 10 games

(by number of days they show up in the log)

  1. Flow Free: Sudoku: 244 days
  2. Good Sudoku: 186 days
  3. Picross s7: 144 days
  4. Picross s8: 83 days
  5. Picross s genesis: 67 days
  6. 7 wonders architects: 55 days
  7. New Frontiers: 49 days
  8. Jump Drive: 49 days
  9. Innovation: 49 days
  10. Azul: 41 days

Top 10 games, including platform, without BGA games

(…and making a special check for days I played Picross.)

  1. Picross (Switch): 297 days
  2. Flow Free: Sudoku (iOS): 244 days
  3. Good Sudoku (iOS): 186 days
  4. Elden Ring (PS5): 35 days
  5. Cell to Singularity (iOS): 31 days
  6. Really Grass Cutting Incremental (web): 29 days
  7. Vampire Survivors (Steamdeck): 23 days
  8. Jetpack Joyride 2 (iOS): 18 days
  9. Borderlands 3 (PS5): 18 days
  10. Horizon Zero Dawn (PS5): 14 days


I stopped playing both Good Sudoku, and Flow Free: Sudoku after getting the “played for 365 days in a row” achievements. I don’t expect either of them to show up on next year’s list. Obviously this list has a lot of Picross in it, because I still mostly just play that when I’m doing my 20-40 minutes of cardio in front of the TV. I do let myself skip the workout on occasion, and it’s definitely more likely if I’m feeling sick. I think that explains most of the days I didn’t play it.

[Update/Addition on Jan 2nd]

My friend August asked “Do you have a favorite game this year and why is it Picross?” I realized that kind of analysis is maybe something this post was missing, so here is my response.

I do love Picross, but I’m not sure I’d even put it in a top 10 list. It’s my go-to workout game because it fires all the brain cylinders (meaning my workout passes without the clock-watching that ensues otherwise), and does that without any need for spacial awareness that can cause me to fall off the trampoline.

My favorite of the games I played in 2022 is probably Elden Ring (35 days, PS5)  just because of how sucked-in I became even as I lambasted it. I wrote several journal entries about it, and ended up loving it in the end, even as I reached a saturation point where I decided I never need to play it again.

I also loved Stray (9 days, PS5) and Horizon Zero Dawn (14 days, PS5), both of which I played to completion in 2022.

Probably my favorite indie game of the year was Tinykin (2 days, Xbox). Super interesting that my log only shows that I played Tinykin on two days! I definitely beat the game, and even remember stretching out my playtime by intentionally veering toward completionism toward the end. (I may have just forgotten to log it some days? Or maybe it really is that short.)

I also really liked Nobody Saves the World (10 days, xbox).

I did have a phase this year post-steamdeck where I got back into action puzzle games, and played a lot of those for a few weeks. Notable favorites are Lumines (8 days), Petal Crash (7 days), and Mixolumia (6 days). I only logged Tetris Effect on 5 days (probably during that same period). Note that none of those games were “new to me” in 2022 except for Petal Crash. Just like books, I tend not to return to games unless I remember really loving them, so those are all favorites.

Platforms by number of games

  1. BGA – 80 games on 231 days
  2. Playdate – 56 games on 54 days
  3. iOS – 53 games on 310 days
  4. Steamdeck – 46 games on 90 days
  5. Web – 30 games on 43 days
  6. Tabletop – 23 games on 31 days
  7. Xbox – 20 games on 69 days
  8. PS5 – 13 games on 84 days
  9. Pico-8 – 12 games on 8 days
  10. Switch – 11 games on 298 days
  11. Quest – 7 games on 7 days

Platforms by number of days

  1. iOS – 53 games on 310 days
  2. Switch – 11 games on 298 days
  3. BGA – 80 games on 231 days
  4. Steamdeck – 46 games on 90 days
  5. PS5 – 13 games on 84 days
  6. Xbox – 20 games on 69 days
  7. Playdate – 56 games on 54 days
  8. Web – 30 games on 43 days
  9. Tabletop – 23 games on 31 days
  10. Pico-8 – 12 games on 8 days
  11. Quest – 7 games on 7 days

Platform Observations

Poor VR. I never pay attention to it anymore. (I didn’t even preorder the PSVR2… I’ll buy it if it looks like any of the games are going to be amazing, or if they suddenly give it backward compatibility with all the OG PSVR games.)

I was really excited about the Playdate for a while there. I’ll talk a little more about that later. I’ll probably get back into it again if they release a Season 2 of games.

The Steamdeck is now my favorite gaming platform. I don’t have any free HDMI ports on my TV, or I’d be playing more of it there, probably, but in the mean time I do very much enjoy it as a handheld. It obviously helps that I have a library of over a thousand games to choose from on it. (Built up over years and years of bundles and various sales, but also I feel no qualms about paying “full price” for any game that I feel moderate confidence I’ll find the time to play.)


Board Game Arena was where I did the majority of games playing this year. My game log says 80 games (unique titles) played on 231 days, which is obviously wrong on both counts. I was initially surprised it wasn’t more days, but then I realized that’s definitely a consequence of how I’m doing my logging. I currently only log BGA games on the day they have been completed. This means if I play a single game (of Azul, for example), but the turns stretch out over a week, it would only get one entry, even though I played my turns every day. Last year I logged every day that I took any turns in that game, but it was too much logging, and I felt like it gave too much weight to async games.

For 2023, I’m definitely going to change it up again, but I’m not sure exactly how. I might actually just log that I played some turns on BGA, and not worry about what games. Or maybe I’ll try and just log any game that I’ve not yet logged that year, so I have a complete list.

It’s definitely less important, because BGA does a great job keeping track for me. You can see all my BGA stats at this link: https://boardgamearena.com/gamestats?player=1486543&opponent_id=0&start_date=1641016800&end_date=1672466400&finished=1

  • BGA “tables” (total number of games played): 614
  • Games won (victories): 328

BGA Most played games

  • 7 Wonders Architects: 77 games
  • Jump Drive: 62 games
  • Innovation: 55 games
  • New Frontiers: 51 games
  • Azul: 47 games
  • Splendor: 38 games
  • Stone Age: 22 games
  • Space Base: 18 games
  • Race for the Galaxy: 16 games
  • King of Tokyo: 15 games
  • 6 nimmt!: 15 games
  • Gizmos: 15 games
  • Nova Luna: 10 games
  • Oust: 10 games
  • Caverna: 9 games
  • Thrive: 9 games

Caverna and Gizmos get special shout-outs, because both showed up relatively late in the year. Gizmos is definitely in my top 10 games right now, and when it first showed up on BGA, I was playing so many games of it that I kind of burned out on it, and had to stop for a few weeks. Now I’m back to a regular game or two of it going at all times. Same with Caverna, though it’s not as high on my want to play list, it seems like it is for everyone else I play BGA games with on the regular.

I think 7 Wonders Architects and Jump Drive are only at the top because they’re very short games, and my friends Mike and Jason both like 7 Wonders a lot, so we have a continuous game going with the three of us, and we finish a game once or twice a week, I’m guessing.

My Game Design Journal in 2022

My game design journal had 40 new entries in 2022. (Sadly there were 4 months with only one entry, including December. And 5 months with only 2 or 3 entries.)

Of those entries –

  • 2 were from dreams (providing some evidence my subconscious is still thinking about new game ideas, even when my conscious mind can’t be bothered)
  • 11 were continuations – additional thoughts or implementation notes related to previous ideas

And the most disappointing stat:

  • only 1 entry resulted in a new (digital) prototype

There were a few entries that could have been flushed out into new physical game prototypes, but my guess is that I played physical games much less this year than in the past. (Although 31 days doesn’t seem like that few, tbh.) Anyway, I think a significant percent of my interest in designing physical games has waned with the realization that I just don’t play games physically that often anymore. This is a bit weird, because I play digital versions of physical games literally every day, but it’s something I’m pretty sure my brain is doing.

Game Development

My current work schedule allows for somewhere between 3 and 12 hours spent working on games per week. When motivation is low (as it has been most of this year), it’s usually on the lower-end of that range.

Mostly, I spent this entire year working on a digital version of Blither, an abstract strategy board game I designed a couple of years back. I’m happy with Blither’s design, and a few times I’ve considered trying to hand it off to publishers. I think it could work particularly well with some kind of animal/nature theme, but so far at least, the digital version is just all geometric shapes.

Swift for Game Development

A significant amount of the effort that I’m counting toward Blither’s development has actually been spent less on the game itself, and more on the toolchain for writing games in Swift. I spent several weeks – maybe as much as a month of my development efforts – just exploring cross-platform strategies for Swift and game development. The primary take-away is that it is relatively “easy” to write a swift “wrapper” for projects written in C, so there are many. Of interest, both Raylib and SDL (both of which exist in the cross-platform game development “space”) each have at least a few of these projects on GitHub. Unfortunately, while it is easy to write these wrappers, getting them to a state where they are easy to use requires more effort, and in my estimation, that narrows the selection considerably. “Easy to use” might be assumed to include “well documented”, but sadly it does not, and none of the projects I found would qualify there. Furthermore, lack of documentation definitely means lack of instructions for how to actually publish a project using any of these libraries across various platforms and OS targets. For a while, this was definitely my objective. Pick a lib, write a simple game, and document the hell out of getting it running on at least: MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android, using the same codebase.

Unfortunately, of the aforementioned Raylib and SDL library wrappers, Raylib itself doesn’t support iOS (at least without plugins/modifications), and SDL is slightly more difficult to use, and possibly as a consequence, in general the wrappers I found for it were not as far along, or anyway, not as easy to use.

Another related project is re-writing my generic game library in Swift. There was never all that much code to GGM, so the actual rewrite was never the hard part. The original GGM used UIKit for rendering, so there is a Swift version that does that, but also now there is a version that uses SpriteKit, and a (not-quite-flushed-out-yet) version written in “pure Swift” without any rendering included. Ideally, I’d use that version to write “plugins” for platform-specific rendering engines, and this could be another path to writing cross-platform games. That last version, while unfinished, is already significantly more code than the others, and I got a bit hung up on what its internal API should look like. The other versions don’t really concern themselves with non-game UI, but this one would have to, and that’s a big old can of worms that I’ve barely opened.


Speaking of GGM, the original library supported hexagonal grids – it was used for the Catchup app – but the way it implemented them was very specific to the Catchup codebase, and felt a bit tacked-on. So when I went to add that detail to GGMSwfit, I got sidetracked a bit on what hexagonal grid coordinate types to support, and how many hexagonal grid shapes to make it easy to create. I dug around a bit, and ended up playing a bunch with a “pure Swift” library called Hex-Grid (https://github.com/fananek/hex-grid/) that does pretty much all of the hexagon-specific stuff that I wanted GGM to do, and I contributed to that library a bit. Mostly, I wrote a demo app that uses SpriteKit and allows you to visualize grids of arbitrary size and shape and swap out their coordinate types on the fly. (This also helped expose a few bugs in the lib.)

The current app version of Blither doesn’t use any flavor of GGM, instead it uses this Hex-Grid library, and it is also using SpriteKit for drawing. This means it can only target platforms where SpriteKit exists. (iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS, I believe. But – so far at least – I would need to make some not insignificant changes to make Mac Desktop work.) I’m still toying with the idea of making an abstraction layer for the SpriteKit-specific code, so code could be shared with other platforms.


Another project I worked on this year was a match-4 game for the Playdate called Matching Machine (https://devforum.play.date/t/matching-machine-devlog-and-demo/7682). I “released” a version on the Playdate developer forums and then promptly lost interest in finishing it up. This year’s MinneBar happened while I was working on it, and it was the first time I’d been to an in-person conference in a few years. I gave a talk there about Playdate development in general.

Non-Game Development


MinneBar was great (as usual), and while my family is under no illusions that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, I still ended up going to two other in-person conferences this year: Eyeo and FOSS-XR. Eyeo has been one of my favorite conferences whenever I attend, and this year’s conference came with the sad announcement that it will probably not continue – at least in its previous form – going forward. I somewhat regret not making more contacts and acquaintances while attending over the years, but it’s an intimidating crowd full of amazing digital artists and creative coders. I brought Thrive to one of the evening events this year, and introduced it to lots of new players, so it’s not like I was entirely invisible.

Foss-XR was a surprise to me, having found out the week before that it was going to be held only blocks from my apartment in downtown Minneapolis. I didn’t know what to expect, and after a rocky start with poor AV, ended up really enjoying the experience. I also reported on it a couple of weeks later at the only in-person MNVR&HCI meeting I attended this year.


I haven’t done any REAL web development since around 2011 or so, but I still host a half-dozen or so websites (including this blog). Many of those are using WordPress, and I’d love to move those to Jekyll, or (maybe ideally) something similar to Jekyll but written in Swift. (Publish is the only one of those I know about, but I haven’t done any due diligence yet.) I guess I’m officially stating this as a goal for 2023. I did already export some blog content, and then import it into Jekyll at some point in 2022, but I would probably have to do that again if I were going to migrate “for real”. (I helped out with a transition of this sort when the IGDATC website moved from WordPress to Jekyll, but I didn’t personally handle the export/import.)

I also got really into reading about ActivityPub after moving from Twitter to Mastodon in 2022, (my mastodon account is @grid@mastodon.gamedev.place) and I thought seriously about starting a project to support ActivityPub/Mastodon interop from Vapor. I have played with Vapor a few times since I found out about it, and did so again for an afternoon when I was thinking about this. It’s more likely that I’ll just create some static files to point a domain or two to various Mastodon accounts, but I haven’t even done that yet, so it’s obviously not a huge priority for me. I do think federated social networks are here to stay, and I hope the trend of user-owned content creation continues. I will help it along if I can.


Like everyone else, I was gobsmacked this year by text-to-image AI. I spent a not-insignificant amount of time reading about the technology, and even went so far as to install Stable Diffusion on my M1 MacBook Pro. Initially I wanted to use it as a pipeline for making game art, but the many important discussions happening around the ethical implications have me cooling my jets a bit. I did also use Midjourney to generate character portraits for a D&D campaign, and that was an easy win. I will definitely continue to keep my eye on the developments related to this technology going forward.


A few years back (even before the pandemic) I realized that working on games professionally left me without interest in working on my own games, so I re-focused my contract work back on native iOS. I am still waiting patiently for Apple to release a headset, and hope to find some crossover contract work when that happens, but until then, my bread-and-butter is mostly won with plain old iOS app development. I’m very happy with my current contract, and it should take me at least partly through 2023. There is other work on the horizon (they would like me sooner than later – and I appreciate their patience), but for now I’m trying to focus mostly on one contract at a time.

Something I haven’t talked about publicly in a while is how much time I’m devoting to contract work versus my own game development. But to talk about that, I need to first talk about how much time I spend working. Period. It’s a hard number to pin down, because there are several contributing factors. How many hours do I work each day? And how many days? How many of those are billable?

In general I aim to bill my clients for 20 hours per week. Ideally I would be working a 40 hour week, and that would leave 20 hours for gamedev, but it’s hard to say whether that’s actually the case. It’s only possible if you include hours outside of my normal workday, because for the last few years those tend to only be 6 or 7 hours long. Previous to this year, I’d have said it was very common for me to put in some extra hours in the evening after the rest of my family has gone to sleep. This year, I would say that’s definitely been the rare exception rather than the norm. So my guess is that I’m putting in a work week that’s more in the order of 30 hours than 40. However, there have been a lot of saturdays and sundays that were essentially a normal workday for me, (but always devoted entirely to gamedev), so maybe it averages out. Again, it’s really hard to say, because I don’t track the time that isn’t billable.

Generally on days when I get started working on a game project, it’s rare that I will want to stop working on it and go back to contract work, so that day is usually then relegated entirely to gamedev. For this reason, I usually try and always start my work day with contract work. Then if I’m itching to do some gamedev, I’ll switch to it later. But I don’t give myself that restriction if I’ve already billed 20 hours that week. That used to mean that most of the time Fridays were days for gamedev, but pretty regularly (this year anyway), I’ll be in the middle of some client task, and want to keep working on it more than I want to switch tasks and work on a game project. So usually my gamedev is on the weekends, with the occasional Friday afternoon thrown in for good measure.

Contracting gives me the freedom to turn off the clock whenever I want, and take an hour or an afternoon off just to run some errands or even unplug or play some video games. It’s relatively rare that I take a whole day away from “work”, but it’s very common for me to take an hour here and there, which has the consequence that it’s very often Friday morning and I haven’t yet hit my 20 hour mark. But I really do enjoy what I do. I can’t really count the number of times in the last 3 years I’ve remarked that my job is one of the things that’s keeping me sane. I find programming to be a much-needed catharsis when the rest of the world is an assault of illogical thinking and frustrating politics. I get to solve puzzles all day, and that’s not an exaggeration. And as anyone who knows me will attest: I do love puzzles.

Book notes

I’ve been keeping a log of books I read much longer than the log of games. The first iteration of this was just a text file that followed me from computer to computer from sometime in high school until several years after college, when unfortunately I fell out of the habit. Then I used LibraryThing for a couple of years, and then Goodreads for at least the last 10 years or so. (I’d really like to switch to Bookwyrm, and I have an account at bookwyrm.social, but I haven’t fully transitioned yet because their importer has been turned off due to overwhelming demand on resources. I did try to convince a friend to set up a new instance for us, but that hasn’t happened yet.)

Last year I marked 64 books read on GoodReads. Mostly I just read science fiction (and fantasy, and graphic novels, which I’ll admit are such easy reads that they make me look like a more voracious reader than I probably am), but a few days ago, I wrote a thread on Mastodon about some of the game-related books in my library that I recommend, and I thought I could link to that thread here.

Notably, the last book included in the thread is one I haven’t marked as “read” on goodreads yet. I’m still working my way slowly through Ben Orlin’s book Math Games with Bad Drawings, which I’ve been meaning to recommend here.


I wish everyone reading this a wonderful new year in 2023!

2021 in games Played and Created

In 2021 I wrote 73 game design journal entries. Of those, I think I made (or started making) 6 board game prototypes (most notably for Blither, I think), and worked on at least 2 new digital game prototypes. There were 28 entries for game ideas I’d already had or worked on in some previous capacity.

I did only one game jam in 2021, the Global Game Jam.

I also released one game on two platforms in 2021, Thrive Digital, for both iOS and Android.

The played log

This was my third year keeping track of all the games I played. (You can also read my previous year’s posts about 2019 and 2020 if you’re curious.)

I played 319 different games in 2021.

My “played log” boils down to a list of entries per day, with a comma separated list of games, and each game has an associated platform (iOS, Switch, tabletop, etc.). This is the epitome of manual data collection, so I’m just trying to remember to add to the log whenever I play something. Usually after I get done, but sometimes in a batch at some point later in the day.

I added a totally new type of entry this year after last year’s resolution, which is just a single line with a name of a game and a (mini) review. I think in every case it was about something I’d played earlier that day. Before I parsed the log, I was certain I would be disappointed in the number of reviews I wrote because I could only remember writing a few of them, but I’m happy to say that I ended up with 38 reviews!

Top Played Games

I’ll write about some of these individually below, but here’s the top 10 list of games:

  1. Good Sudoku: 365 days
  2. Stone Age: 319 days (33 games, 18 won)
  3. Innovation: 293 days (70 games, 40 won)
  4. Splendor: 215 days (42 games, 26 won)
  5. Race for the Galaxy: 212 days (53 games, 36 won)
  6. 7 Wonders: 200 days (45 games, 15 won)
  7. Flow Fit: Sudoku: 128 days
  8. Roll for the Galaxy: 128 days (43 games, 27 won)
  9. New Frontiers: 119 days (25 games, 19 won)
  10. Picross S6: 106 days

This list includes games I played on Board Game Arena, some of which span multiple days. I think this year I’m going to log games on BGA slightly differently, and only include the names of games that I complete that day. This will reduce some of the tedium of figuring out which turns I just played on BGA (I don’t usually log them until after), but of course at the expense of being able to figure out which days I thought about each individual game, however briefly. Also worth noting that BGA collects extensive statistics itself, and that’s how I was able to see how many of each game I played (as well as the number of victories).

Here’s a list of the top 10 games not on BGA:

  1. Good Sudoku: iOS, 365 days
  2. Flow Fit: Sudoku: iOS, 128 days
  3. Picross S6: Switch, 106 days
  4. AM2: iOS, 102 days
  5. Picross S4: Switch, 84 days
  6. Picross S5: Switch, 63 days
  7. Picross S: Switch, 40 days
  8. Cozy Grove: Switch, 21 days
  9. Genshin Impact: PS5, 19 days
  10. God of War: PS5, 19 days

I’m happy to say I’m no longer playing AM2, and I’m hopeful that next year there will be no clicker or idle games on my top 10 list. (Though I’m not ashamed of checking them out now and then.)

Daily Routine

It’s obviously worth noting I played more games this year than last year. 319 unique games versus last year’s 297. I think one reason for this may be that among the many changes the global (COVID-19) pandemic has wrought on my life is a new and more-regimented daily routine. More so than at any other time that I can recall, I now have a set pattern to my life. (Maybe this is as much attributable to age as it is to the pandemic, I truly don’t know.)

In the morning, I drink coffee and usually catch up on my Board Game Arena games before starting my workday, with breaks for lunch, picking up my kid from middle school, and sometimes a walk with my wife or (rarely) the whole family. Around 6 is dinner, and by around 9:30 or 10 my wife goes to bed and I begin my daily workout. (Don’t worry, this is when my evening games routine begins.)

My workout involves my Apple Watch (the completion of my “fitness circles” is a game in itself), and also a fitness/physical therapy tracking app called PT Timer. The PT Timer app tells me which “routines” need completion. Currently this is: a floor stretch, standing neck stretch, some upper-body strength stuff on M-W-F, and finally a 20-minute-minimum cardio that I don’t use the app to complete, but enjoy “marking completed” at the end. During my cardio (which has a variable length because I try not to stop until the Apple Watch tells me I’ve burned enough calories for the day) I jog in place on a small trampoline in front of the TV… while playing something on the Nintendo Switch. Almost always, it’s some form of Picross.

After my workout, I read a book or some poetry, sometimes play another video game, sometimes do some writing, and somewhere between 11:30 and 1:30, I brush my teeth and head to bed. While I’m brushing my teeth, if it’s past midnight (and it usually is), I do the daily Sudoku problem in Good Sudoku. And recently (well, for the last 125 days) I also do the daily puzzle in Flow Fit: Sudoku.

Good Sudoku

There is an achievement for a full year of Good Sudoku. I should have it, but I don’t. About halfway through the year an update lost my current streak. This was 182 days ago. (My current streak.) I actually emailed the developers about it, and they offered to fix it for me, which I definitely indicated I would be happy about, but then I never heard back from them again. I get it. I’m not great about supporting my apps either. Anyway, this is the only game I actually played all 365 days in 2021. I’m 100% sure Good Sudoku is the first and only game that I’ve ever played every day for a year. Mostly I consider using the hint button cheating, but the Sunday puzzles are sometimes really hard, and if I’ve spent more than a half-hour on it, and am still having problems, I’ll do it anyway. Usually one hint is all I need.

Flow Fit: Sudoku

Flow Fit: Sudoku feels a lot like Sudoku. It’s got tetrominos with numbers in them, and you have to fit them onto a grid such that no number occurs more than once in any row or column. It’s a really engaging game for me, and if the daily puzzle is too easy or quick, I will pretty frequently do some of the other puzzles to fill out my toothbrushing routine. It’s also a frequent go-to if I’ve got some time to kill. So far I’ve done 410 of the 2625 puzzles bundled with the app.


I modified the script that parses my game log a bit this year to count number of days played per platform. Last year’s platform numbers were all the games multiplied by all the days they were played. This year’s can tell me both number of unique games played as well as number of unique days. Here’s the full list:

  • BGA – 96 unique games on 346 days
  • iOS – 74 unique games on 365 days
  • Xbox – 40 unique games on 93 days
  • Switch – 34 unique games on 329 days
  • PS5 – 22 unique games on 82 days
  • tabletop – 10 unique games on 12 days
  • steam – 13 unique games on 15 days
  • AiAi – 19 unique games on 2 days
  • web – 8 unique games on 7 days
  • Tabletop Simulator – 5 unique games on 6 days
  • pc – 5 unique games on 11 days
  • Ludii – 3 unique games on 2 days
  • Quest – 2 unique games on 2 days
  • tvOS – 2 unique games on 1 days
  • Blinks – 2 unique games on 1 days
  • Oculus – 2 unique games on 3 days
  • Itch – 1 game on 1 day
  • Mac – 1 game on 1 day

A few observations:

It’s interesting that no Xbox games made it onto my top 10 games list. I managed to find an Xbox Series X even before I got a PS5, and I definitely played a lot of games on it. I subscribe to Microsoft’s Game Pass, which is fantastic for someone like me who likes to try and sample a lot of different games.

My top played game that was definitely on the Xbox was Astroneer (13 days), which I was playing at the beginning of the year. I also played a bit of Deep Rock Galactic (11 days) with my friend Angela, as well and Path of Exile and Sable tied for 10 days playtime each. I finished Sable, and really enjoyed the experience. I’m surprised it was only 10 days, because I became a bit of a completionist about it, not wanting the experience to end.

It’s also interesting to me that BGA and iOS are kind of both leaders, since I played games on iOS more consistently than BGA. Frankly, I’m rather surprised there were 19 whole days I didn’t play any turns on BGA.

I like calling out Stephen Tavener’s AiAi. 10 of the 19 games in the log were the ones I reviewed for the BEST COMBINATORIAL 2-PLAYER GAME OF 2020 competition, but I know I opened up AiAi more than just a couple of times this year to try out various games I saw show up in his announcement thread. AiAi has become an incredible resource for playing abstract strategy games, and Stephen is able to add them at a simply incredible pace.

I called AiAi the platform when I could have just said I played these games on “PC” or desktop. I did already manually “roll up” a bunch of different ways of saying “web” into that category (as opposed to “browser”, “puzzlescript”, or just a plain URL.) If I add up: Steam, AiAi, pc, Ludii, Itch and Mac, I get 42 games & days, 47 if you include Tabletop Simulator. But that’s not quite right because of course some of those days might have been the same between the different platforms.

I’m pretty convinced I forgot to log some VR plays. There’s no way that I only used my Quest 2 on 3 days last year. I can actually think of 3 days off the top of my head, and I’m sure there were some days I used it in my living room as opposed to getting together with my friend Nate in the park, or the only in-person VR meetup of the year (also outdoors) where we played the new Space Pirate Trainer “Arena Scale”. Still, it’s worth noting that I didn’t use VR very much in 2021.

I was surprised to see that I played 15 different tabletop games across 18 days, so I decided to dig into the data. Turns out, I am deliberately only taking the first word when I parse the data for platform, and I had a bunch of entries where the platform was “tabletop simulator”. I fixed those entries manually and the actual numbers are displayed above. I did play more tabletop games than expected, given how seldom I went anywhere outside of my apartment this year.


As mentioned previously, I wrote 38 game reviews, but they were all very short and casual, and several of them (3 to be exact) were second reviews of games I’d already written about before. Those games were Astroneer, which I wrote about twice in January, Ori and the Will O’ the Wisps (in February), and Shapez (in August). Also, it’s worth noting that 10 of those reviews were written over two days for the previously mentioned Best Combinatorial Game of 2020 competition. I can’t really decide if I want to publish these anywhere. They’re written a lot like my goodreads reviews, which is to say that the audience is definitely “future me”, as opposed to “anyone else”. I usually just say something short about what I felt the game was about, as well as anything unique or interesting I observed while playing. And of course I say something about whether I enjoyed the experience.


I sometimes do wonder if there’s any point to the game log. It feels… kind of narcissistic to keep track of all my game playing. But being able to write this post (and have these introspective insights) definitely feels “worth it” to me, so I have no plan to stop. (And feel a renewed vigor for the project as I write this.)

I’d like to do more releasing of games in 2022, but I’m not going to hold myself to that too strictly. It’s more important that I continue to enjoy creating games as much as I enjoy playing them.

Happy new year everyone!!! Here’s to playing (and making) all the games in 2022!

Played Log 2020

I kept up my played log through 2020, and I ran some analysis again this year.

One thing to note is that I don’t think it’s as valuable as my (admittedly quite brief these days) goodreads book reviews. I’ll be looking for a way to maybe improve on that this year. (Maybe writing periodic reviews of games I’m playing?) Games seldom have the same finality that a book does. Usually my interest wanes or is diverted to other games, and I just stop playing them without reflection. So knowing when to write the review would be maybe the hardest part! One option is to write something down any time I play a new-to-me game. I might try a few different things.

Stats and Observations

Again, not a day went by without at least a game or two played. There were 297 unique games logged. (Although there is probably a statistically significant number of those that are misspellings or differently-worded versions of the same game. 186 of those games were only played on a single day.)

Here are the top ten games played with the number of days that I played them:

  • stone age: 189 
  • good sudoku: 162
  • go: 158
  • innovation: 147
  • blooms: 73
  • animal crossing: 67
  • teotihuacan: 55
  • thrive: 52
  • hive: 40
  • pixelpuzzle: 37

This is definitely a skewed list, because for most of the board games on that list, I was playing async games on BGA. This means, most of those days I didn’t actually finish the game, only played a turn or three. 

The only real surprise on there for me was Hive. I didn’t really think I’d played that many games of it, and I also think of it as a relatively fast game to play. So I did some digging, and sure enough, when I look at my BGA profile, I only played 13 games of Hive, it just took me 40 days to play those games. Amusingly (and so coincidental that I’m rather skeptical of BGA’s statistics), I also finished exactly 13 games of Go, AND 13 games of Stone Age.

Here’s a top ten list of games not on BGA:

  • good sudoku: 162
  • animal crossing: 67
  • pixelpuzzle: 37
  • diablo 3: 27
  • forager: 22
  • satisfactory: 20
  • picross s4: 19
  • picross s3: 19
  • i love hue too: 18
  • hades: 17

Obvious if you look at the numbers, I played a lot of Good Sudoku. I do highly recommend it, especially if you are interested in getting better at sudoku puzzles, or anyway learning additional techniques for solving them. There are three daily puzzles, and the app keeps track of your “streak” for each. I am currently on a 97 day streak for the main game mode. There’s some kind of comparison to be made with the desire to keep up my streak and a sunk cost fallacy. Opening this app is typically the last thing I do before bed, and often the first thing I do when I wake up. 

I was surprised to see PixelPuzzle in this list again. I finished all the puzzles last year, but there is a games+ kind of thing going on. I didn’t play Picross nearly as much as last year because I totally fell off doing my workouts when covid quarantine hit. (I was no longer going to the workout room in my building and doing the elliptical with a switch strapped to the machine.)

I’m happy to report that I did eventually resume daily workouts, (but not until November). Now in my living room. Still playing the Switch tho, it’s hard to hold a traditional controller and do any actual movement.

I only started playing Hades in December, so the fact that it made the list at all is pretty impressive.

I also tracked what platform I played the game on, and here’s the number of entries for each platform. (Note that I usually have 5-10 games going on BGA at once, and typically take my turns two or three times a day, but I would only count each game once per day, but if I played 5 games on BGA, that would count 5 times for these numbers.)

  • bga: 1050
  • ios: 319
  • switch: 258
  • pc: 70
  • web: 20
  • xboxx: 14
  • ps4: 14
  • quest: 8

Nintendo weighs in

Those of you with a Nintendo Switch probably recognize the screenshot above as coming from Nintendo’s year-in-review email. I was not terribly surprised to have played twice as many hours of games as in 2019, but I was surprised that it was fewer games in total. My guess is just that spending more time playing (due to pandemic quarantine) led to getting more sucked into a few games in particular.

About the log itself

Two things of note: the first is that I was much more rigorous with keeping up the same format for each day of the log this year. So parsing the log didn’t involve any data “fixing” at all, which was fantastic. (In pretty sharp contrast to last year.)

Secondly, I wrote the log parser last year in python, and while it was perfectly serviceable, when I went to run it again this year, I wanted to do some additional analysis. It was daunting enough looking at last year’s script that I just re-wrote the entire thing in Swift. I spent at least a few hours over the course of several days on the python script last year, and I did this year’s Swift version in about an hour. I’m crediting advent of code for how easy it went. 

Worth noting I only made it through day 18 of Advent of Code, but I just realized I only put it in my game log a few of those days. If I’d put it in all the days I actually did it, it would have edged out Hades in my top 10 played list!

Games and Resolutions

So in 2019, I decided kind of arbitrarily to keep a journal of all the games I played for the entire year. There was no real purpose to this, just maybe wanting to be able to look back on it and generally keep track of the games I’ve been playing. (I log all the books I read on GoodReads out of a similar need to keep a record of things.) I can remember anecdotally that there were several times throughout the year that I wanted to remember the name of a game, or recall something about an event I’d been to, and the journal came in handy for that.

So after some normalizing of the journal (which is just a text file) it had 365 lines in it, each starting with a date, followed by a comma separated list of games. I wrote a simple python script to parse the file and output a list of game names in the order of the number of times that game appeared in the file.

Here are the games I played in 2019 that I played on at least 10 days:

  • nintendo labo vr : 10 days – This was almost always played with my kid. Pretty fun parent/kid bonding activity. I have a bunch of cardboard left to assemble in a closet somewhere. I should suggest it again sometime soon.
  • splendor : 10 days – This is my niece’s favorite game, and we play it whenever she comes over.
  • innovation : 11 days – I got back into this game toward the end of December. I’ve been playing it pretty much daily on Board Game Arena.
  • pinball wizard : 11 days – This is maybe my second or third favorite Apple Arcade game. I assume there is an ending, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
  • art inc : 13 days – One of those garbage games I mentioned, I probably played this for two weeks straight.
  • manifold garden : 13 days – My guess is that I would have played through this in a lot fewer days if it’s release hadn’t coincided with my trip to Germany for Essen Spiel. I really loved this game though, and at least one or two of those days were after I’d finished playing it, and started over again from the beginning. My game of the year pick for 2019.
  • dino people : 15 days – Another free-to-play idle game. Cute low-poly dinosaur art. Not much else going for it.
  • yonder : 16 days – I wanted to like this more than I did. It’s got a lot going for it, but I didn’t stick with it.
  • grindstone : 17 days – Another Apple Arcade game. I still enjoy this one on occasion.
  • baba is you : 19 days – Man, I wish I was better at this game. I refuse to look up solutions, so there are quite a few levels I’m totally stuck on. I do think I make progress every time I play, but it sometimes feels like I’m Sisyphus with this one.
  • lumines : 20 days – So much nostalgia for playing this on the PSP! I do love this game in most iterations. I actually started writing a blog post about it, but didn’t feel like I was saying anything important, so I shelved it. Probably in my top 5 game franchises of all time.
  • 1010! : 21 days – This is a staple when I want a monotonous puzzle. A good game for playing while I’m “watching” TV.
  • thrive : 24 days – I’m a bit surprised this wasn’t more, but when I was demoing (and actually playing), I sometimes put in around 10 games per day!
  • picross s2 : 27 days – Nothing helps me zone out like Picross. I can predictably do my 20 minute workout without noticing that time has passed other than between puzzles.
  • shards of infinity : 29 days – I got pretty into this after I met the developer at GDC. I think I was on the TestFlight at first, but I played it regularly for quite a while even after it came out.
  • cats are cute : 37 days – Another free-to-play. Black and white line-drawn cats. Cute.
  • adventure communist : 66 days – Ugh, this game. It’s such a skinner box. I’m still weaning myself off it, but I think I’ve got it down to once a day, or maybe even every other day, at this point.
  • wizards unite : 86 days – I played this regularly for a while over the summer. I’m over it now tho. I like the story, but of course they’re going to dole it out so slowly… probably not worth it.
  • picross s3 : 89 days – I think it was at lunch at MinneBar 2019 when I mentioned to Stephen that I was playing a ton of Picross S2, and he blew my mind by telling me there was a third one.
  • pixel puzzle : 113 days – This is a really nice mobile Nonogram/picross implementation. It’s totally free and all the art in it is from Konami games. I finished all the puzzles.

Reviewing the list for this post, some points I think are worth noting:

  1. There was not a day in 2019 that I didn’t play at least one game. (Yes, I am somewhat proud of this.) But quite a few of the items on the list are what I consider to be relatively garbage games. (Endless idle games with ad monetization, for example.)
  2. I’m fairly certain the journal is missing a statistically significant number of games. In general, I thought I was very diligent, but I noticed that especially when I’m playing board games in a group, it can be especially hard to remember. Most recently, I was going through photos I took in 2019, and realized that I’d taken a bunch of photos of games that I didn’t write down because I figured I’d do so later.
  3. My second most played game last year was one I basically only play on the Nintendo Switch while I’m working out on an elliptical machine.
  4. There are a bunch of abstract strategy games that I played almost 10 days. And if you counted the number of times I played them each day, I played many of them much more than 10 times. These include Nick Bentley’s Blooms (a recent obsession), Santorini (which I played 9 days in the iOS app), and Control-V, which I picked up at Spiel.

I’m definitely going to continue this journal, and this year I’ll make it a point to keep the format a little more strict than I did last year. (I definitely had to do a lot of massaging to get some parts of the journal to parse correctly.) It was really neat to look back over this list!

Design Journal Notes for 2019

Most people I know have heard me talk about how, back in 2016, I tried to write in my game design journal every day. So many good game ideas came out of that experiment that I’m still designing and developing games from that year to this day. (Notably, I had the idea that eventually became Thrive in that year.)

I always meant to write a “wrap up” post about that experiment, but I got bogged down in trying to categorize all the journal entries. I have a spreadsheet I started with a row of 26 checkboxes for each entry. The column headers were:

  • Board Game
  • Video Game
  • Mobile Game
  • Physical Game (Not board game)
  • VR Game
  • Idle/Unfolding Game Idea
  • educational game
  • mechanic only
  • puzzle
  • story
  • expands on previous idea
  • expanded on in later post
  • made prototype
  • feel really has merit
  • multiple ideas in one post
  • 2nd second entry that day
  • 3rd third entry
  • felt rushed or inconsequential
  • short (under a paragraph)
  • long (half a page or more)
  • could be complete (playable if prototyped)
  • would need a team to implement
  • skipped for blog post
  • expanded on in blog post

I clearly made the task extra difficult for myself by including whether the post was expanded on elsewhere, because it was no longer just skimming through the journal, it was also cross-referencing my blog, as well as other entries in the journal. I only made it through categorizing 3 months of posts before I lost steam.

Since 2016, I never really “stopped” trying to write regularly in that journal, but I was definitely not diligent about writing every day. I spent some time and just tallied up number of entries in that journal per year (yes, this was more time than I probably should have spent), and here are the results:

52010 (and undated, before 2010)
1952019 [was 183 as of this post date]

[It was only the 19th when I write this. I updated this post with the final 2019 total on Jan 2nd 2020.]

This means, if my math is correct, my game design journal contains somewhere around 802 entries. It’s currently a 254 page single spaced gDocs document (so I can update it from anywhere).

I took some notes about each month in 2019:


  • 16 entries, 1 from a dream
  • A few entries about the Thrive expansion
  • Some ideas & feedback from Protospiel MN (Especially about the “pyramid tile” game, which I had as a prototype there.)
  • An entry with a bunch of ideas I had at Global Game Jam, but didn’t have time to implement there.


  • 10 entries
  • A notable entry about a Puzzle Prison “static puzzle” mode (which is a good idea, and I should do it)
  • More Thrive entries, three of them about multiplayer


  • 9 entries
  • Month started strong, then no entries for a couple weeks (Only one the entire week of GDC!)
  • Hard to believe this was the month the Thrive kickstarter ran.
  • There were 3 entries about Thrive puzzles (which I spent several days actively designing toward the beginning of the month)


  • 7 entries
  • One of them was when I first started thinking about the “next” version of Ship Deck (which I have only recently sent off to get printed at Game Crafter) – Interesting that it took me 8 months to finally act on those ideas.
  • Some important Thrive rules clarifications & revisions.
  • Only one real “new idea” from the entire month!


  • 6 entries
  • One entry was a list of the types of game ideas I want to have. (Seems like a cop-out in terms of actually generating ideas, but even looking back on it now I think it’s probably a helpful exercise to clarify the purpose of the journal periodically.
  • 4 of the 6 ideas were about a tile-and-meeple board game prototype I made that I still think shows promise.


  • 6 entries, 1 from a dream
  • Made a lego copy of Thrive
  • Low volume, but high quality this month. Every entry (except the dream) was an interesting idea that I continued working on (or at least thinking about) in some way.
  • Last entry was a game with transparent pieces with arrows on them that I prototyped and play tested a few times. (As well as continued to think about.)


  • 11 entries, 1 from a dream
  • Only 2 entries before 7/23, which is when I decided to begin trying to write an entry every day again. I probably felt guilty about the creative dry spell.
  • Notable entry that included lots of the pieces (mechanics) of a game I’ve been thinking actively about this month (in December, so 5 months later). What’s interesting, is that my thoughts on this game lately have been inspired by Innovation (Innovation is a Carl Chudyk game that until this month I haven’t played in many years. I’ve been playing it turn-based on BGA.). But when I wrote this entry, I definitely wasn’t thinking about Innovation.


  • 25 entries
  • Many (at least 3) of them about a engine-building game I’ve since prototyped, tentatively called “Black Box”. The basic idea (and theme) came from a conversation with Adam Rehburg and Ryan Lambert in the car on the way back from GenCon.
  • Had the idea of playing games via FlipGrid.com (still haven’t tried this)


  • 25 entries, 1 from a dream (not mine!)
  • Several play testing notes, including Black Box, Pyramid Tiles.
  • But also some notes from games I’d played, including Cabal (https://www.walkingshadow.org/cabal)
  • I prototyped a game with 18 identical cards for a ButtonShy game design contest. Didn’t do anything with it.
  • Wrote down a game idea that was from a dream my kid had. (That was not my only entry from that day.)


  • 20 entries
  • A few entries about a game idea that I think shows a lot of promise, but I haven’t prototyped yet. (It’s got a unique hook that I’m not ready to post publicly yet.)
  • Some ideas / entries for ALT.CTRL.GDC that I never took the time to prototype


  • 31 entries, 2 that feature ideas from dreams
  • One notable entry with a chess variant / VR hybrid idea. The chess variant could actually be playable on a tabletop, if I gave it a little more thought. The VR does make it slightly more interesting though probably not required.
  • Several “new idea” entries, probably a higher ratio of those to “continuing ideas” entries than previous months.


  • 17 entries (so far!)
  • [Update: total for Dec. was 29 entries. I finished the year very strong with several new game ideas, including a small-hex-grid game I’ve since prototyped, and definitely want to get to the table soon. At protospiel in Jan, at the latest.]

Since I got serious about this project again in July, I’ve also been keeping track of my “streak”, or number of consecutive days I remembered to write in the journal. My longest streak was 25 Days, 29 Entries, and it ended on 2019-11-10.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue to keep track of the streak, but I’m definitely going to continue trying to write daily. The actual title of the document is “Game Ideas”, but I definitely want to treat it more like a journal, and I’m formally giving myself permission to wax on about the design of other games I’m playing, or anything else game design related. (Although the goal is still to have at least one new “design idea” in each entry.)

Finally, I was surprised by the number of ideas I wrote down from dreams. I do also have a dream journal, and it barely ever gets written in (I’m guessing only 1-5 entries a year). I wonder if any games have actually been made that started out as an idea from a dream. Maybe I’ll have to make one.