Streets of Rogue

Streets of Rogue is an action rogue-lite game. You play as a disgruntled citizen making his/her way through randomly generated levels in a city in order to confront a corrupt Mayor. This game emphasises on player choice; you are given complete freedom on how you will approach completing the missions in the game. Will you go in a restricted area guns blazing to get to someone? Or will you poison the air vents to make him come to you? You can also choose from a variety of characters, each with their own perks which drastically change the way you play the game.

Here is a video of how the gameplay looks like.

Elemental Tetrad

– Zoomed out overview, WASD controls.
– Mouse is used to orientate the player, mainly for aiming with projectile items/ weapons.
– Levels are randomly generated. Every third level, there will be an additional challenge on that level (e.g. Killer Robot Is After You!).
– As the game progresses, levels become harder. Players encounter new levels with their unique structures and NPCs (e.g. During the Downtown levels, there will also be many mafia NPCs walking around which will try to extort money from the player.)
– Players have freedom to talk to, attack, hire, or help any of the NPCs that are walking around.
– Depending on the character being played, more options might be open(e.g. threatening, bribing, gifting, etc).
– NPCs will remember their encounter with the player for the rest of the level; hostile NPCs will try to attack you or call the cops, while friendly or aligned NPCs will come to your aid.
– As this game is a rogue-lite, players will always start a game at level one.
– Players can get experience from almost any action performed, with the largest bulk of experience being gained from completing the main missions.
– On level up, players can choose a new perk at the end of the level.
– Up to four players can play together locally or online.
– For local play, players have to share the same screen view (meaning players cannot walk too far away from each other)

– Story of Streets of Rogue is shallow, serving mainly to give the setting for the player. During the tutorial, players are shown to be recruited into the Resistance. However, after the tutorial, as the player makes their way through the city, there is no longer any mention of the Resistance.
– Rather than use a main storyline, the game stands out for its quirkyness and randomness. Example: character selection. Players can choose from a multitude of characters, each having a short backstory and their “Big Quest” to achieve along way to overthrow the mayor (e.g. Doctor wants to spread peace, big quest is not being allowed to kill people). Some characters would make sense such as a Soldier or Policeman, but there are characters that seemingly make no sense introduced like the Vampire and Zombie.
– Some storytelling is done as the player progresses through the levels: starting from the Suburbs, the player will eventually reach the Downtown and Uptown areas where there is greater security and more tension shown where the player is denied access or privileges due to not being an “authorised citizen”.
– There are no story-specific events that unfold, until the player finally wins the game.

– Game looks simple with its pixel artstyle. Since the gameplay is fast paced, this is not a game where you stop to look at the design.
– Minimalist approach is taken to focus on gameplay; NPCs dialogue is simple, when you interact with an object you will see a simple dropdown list of what you can do, similar to using an object there are no unique animations, status effects will be displayed in text on the corner of the screen (e.g. Weak)

– PC game, standard controls. There are options to use controllers which would be more suited since this is similar to arcade games.

Lens of Surprise

Wow, this game is full of surprises.
– Random events happen throughout the levels, with some events base on the demographic of certain areas (e.g. Ongoing war on the level, so there will be soldiers and cannibals constantly spawning and fighting).
– Similarly, randomly encounters with NPCs (e.g. thieves coming up to steal your items, gorillas attacking you on sight because you are a scientist, a cannibal popping out of a manhole to eat you).
– Note that the element of surprise is so overwhelming at times that it is not uncommon for you to suddenly die and lose the game, which might detract from fun – or, provide an element of challenge (e.g. being caught in the crossfire of a random battle between mafia and the police).

Lens of Time

Wow, this game takes a long time to play.
– Normally for rogue-lites, you would expect gameplay to be short, but one game of Streets of Rogue can easily take an hour.
– This is partly due to the large level size, and the complexity of mission that usually have the objective nested inside a large complicated building.
– Additionally, due to the unpredictability of the game, players would want to navigate the level in a cautious manner versus just rushing through.

Lens of Problem Solving

Basically the essence of the game.
– This is one of the key selling points of the game: being able to complete the missions any way you want.
– To the point where you can complete the whole game indirectly; i.e using circumstances, hiring people, inciting conflicts, and the missions will complete themselves for you.
– This high variability can make the game too easy sometimes, though. Example: The final mission, get the Mayor’s hat. Mayor is accompanied by guard detail, I completed the mission within 15 seconds by giving the guards poison to make them enraged, the resulting shootout killed the mayor.

Lens of Endogenous Value

Wow, this has some amazing rewards.
– The missions that the player has to complete before completing the level, will yield random items of highly variable utility, giving players a lot of options to approach future missions (e.g. Resurrection shampoo, cyanide pill, necronomicon, hacking tool, friend phone, etc).
– Although some items have powerful effects, they are not game-breaking as the items are not able to be used constantly through the game, so it is balanced.

Wargame: Red Dragon

Wargame: Red Dragon init screen shot(Game is on Steam)

Wargame: Red Dragon is a modern-warfare typed RTS(Real Time Strategy) game developed by Eugen System. Player is the commander of a customized military force(containing multiple services).

On Single Player Game, the player play the storytelling PvE game. On Multiplayer Game, the player customized their own army and compete with other online players(or AI), the winning goal is customized, like destroying certain number of enemies, or occupying certain zone for enough time.


Wargame: Red Dragon is the 3rd game of the Wargame Series, the earlier two are European Escalation and Airland Battle. From European Escalation the basic operation and army types are determined, Airland Battle expands the PvE storyline, and as its name expresses, it expands air force into the game. And now coming to our focus, Red Dragon, it continue to expand the dimensions of war from 2 to 3, as adding the marine and navy into the game.

The game continues to maintain the mechanics of the series’ success, but the focus of the war in the franchise has shifted from Europe to Asia, focusing on disputes and fictional wars between China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan and other Asian countries from 1975 to 1991.The game includes more than 450 new units, including naval and amphibious vehicles.

Lens #1: the Lens of Essential Experience

Wargame as its name illustrated, the game should focus on how to create its war and battle to the players, after all Wargame is a war game, the essential experience is the process of war. What the Wargame does, is to divide it into 2 levels. From the macro war level, the experience is turn-based, each player controls its troops(in a macro scale) to move,recover or attack. The former two will decide the troop’s strength, and only when raised an attack, it goes to a deeper level, the battle level. In this level, the game turns to be a high reality RTS game, and its essential experience is the reduction of war, to do this, the developer implemented lots of Lens to maximize its reality of a battle.

Screenshot on a battle: bomber just delivered bombs at hostile infantries.

Lens#22 The Lens of Dynamic State

The most fascinating point in Wargame for me is the dynamic states the game represented. One example is, when infantries get hit by hostile, get casualties, definitely the combat effectiveness will drop, that will be represented in lots of fields, like the weapon accuracy, the response time, the reloading time, and whether or not to accept the command. Wargame Red Dragon implemented all these features, by using Dynamic State of units. During a battle, the unit is given a morale state, initialized as Calm,  when gets hit or friendly forces nearby get hit, the morale state will dynamically change to Worried, Shocked, Panicked and even Stunned(escape in disorder), as the state changes, the main index of combat performance will also get a state-related penalty, as accuracy, response time, etc.

Lens#47 The Lens of Balance

In Wargame Red Dragon, the balance is controlled in many aspects. Like in one essential part, customizing one’s own troop(in the game, make a deck of army cards), the balance is, the stronger the army is, the availability is less and the price is higher.

Take the M1A2 and M1 as example, the M1A2 is much stronger than M1, but it has much higher price and can only be bought 2 in a deck.That is a balance between price and strength, which avoid grind between units, also makes lower strength unit meaningful and useful, in a word, more real.

Screenshot on deck making, to illustate Lens of Balance

Lens #37 The Lens of Cooperation

In Wargame: Red Dragon, the cooperation between different army types and players are very important. Take Air-defence as an example, usually the most important battle unit in the war process is tanks and vehicles, their strength is only on the ground, which means they are vulnerable to air-attack and cannot fight back. That means the ground main forces has to be cooperated with air-defence units, Like radar-guidance missiles: long range, high accuracy and impact but low firing rate and total availability, and most important one, can be anti-radar missile targeted, usually they are used for high-value air target, and there are also cheap, lower accuracy and shorter range air-defence artillery. They are not sufficient as missiles but they can be put in battle with huge numbers and can knit a fire net which the air force cannot pass. In Wargame Red Dragon, their are much more than these two air-defence units to use, and their are much more kinds of cooperation, like anti-tank infantries with flame gun vehicles in a city(former to fight alley stike on hostile vehicles and latter to very effectively destroy other enemy infantries).

Lens#67 The Lens of Simplicity and Transcendance

From the former introduction of Wargame Red Dragon, I think reader must think this is a hardcore RTS game and is very difficult to handle, actually it’s not. Red Dragon uses very genius idea to simplify the damage system into only 2 type, AP or HE(very common and typical seen in vehicle shooting games).AP mechanism is simply collision check, the projectile only dealt damage when straightly hit the target, under AP mechanism, the damage is calculated by AP Power minus the hit-armor protection,takes the M1A2 as example again, if one M1A2 hit another M1A2 in the front, then the damage is the AP power of the firer 24 minus the front protection 22 then plus 1, that is 24-22+1=3, dealt 3 damage. The other mechanism is the HE mechanism, which usually are effective on no-armor or low-armor(0-1 protection armor) units, like infantries, helicopters and air-fighters. The HE damage is AoE type, which means even it doesn’t hit directly, but once the target is in Effected Area, the damage is still dealt, of course with some inner distance-dampling mechanism, in other word, HE damage is minimal to highly-armored unit like tanks, which is also very real.The AP and HE mechanisms together simplified different kinds of weapons, like tank gun, missile, flame bomb,etc .It’s a very genius simplification.

Screenshot on one unit, to illustate the simplified damage mechanisms

The simplification is to make it more friendly to common players, not those hardcore military fans in Wargame. There are also other kinds of simplification in game mechanisms, no need to make it too detailed.But the use of simplicity, is to lower the complexity of both developer and the player. The amount is controlled by how real the game the developer want the game to be, and how the player like. Definitely, Wargame Red Dragon developed a very real game, but with those simplicity, it lowers its complexity but still keeps its transcendence.

Baba Is You

Baba Is You is a puzzle game that gives player the ability to manipulate the rules of the puzzle itself to solve the puzzle. Baba Is You also won the Excellence in Design and Best Student Game awards in the Independent Games Festival 2018, and was nominated a finalist in two other categories, including the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.



Elemental Tetrad (Lens 9)


  • Rules: puzzle games usually come with a set of rules to dictate what the players can do. In Baba Is You, rules of the level is presented as movable blocks, which the player can modify and manipulate to win the level. To explain the mechanics better, we have to look at one of the levels. In the first level, as seen in the photo above, you can see four distinct rules on the screen. By conventional puzzle game logic, you might be inclined to move right to push the rock to get to the flag. However, if you take a closer look at the borders of the level, you can see that there is actually more space for you to move about. The rules themselves are movable blocks which you can manipulate to form rules like ‘ROCK IS WIN’ or dismantle existing rules, thus changing the win condition itself.
  • Controls: The game has a very simplified control scheme, with four buttons for movement, one for undo and another for wait. The wait button might seem to be quite useless but it acts as a mechanic to solve future levels. It is very satisfying to undo movements when the player almost got the solution but took a slightly wrong path.
  • World design: The overworld is split up into different worlds, some of which are gated to ensure the player understands the more basic rules before trying levels with a higher difficulty. Each world has a theme and introduces new words like ‘NOT’ and ‘HAS’. Within each world, the first few levels act as a mini tutorial to help the player understand the new words.


  • I like the simple and cartoony graphics of the game, but I dislike the ‘wobble’ effect. Fortunately, the options allow me to toggle the effect. The music is calm and subtle, which goes great with the puzzling gameplay.


  • There is no story in this game, and that is fine because the unique selling point of the game is its mechanics.


  • The game has simple controls and is not graphically intensive. Available on PC and Nintendo Switch.

Lens of Curiosity (Lens 6)

  • When playing the game, I always ask myself if an action is possible or a rule make sense. The game makes it easy to try out the different possibilities due to the compact size of every level and the ease of undoing undesirable actions.
  • The mixture of rules often lead to funny and unexpected outcomes. For example, if ‘KEKE HAS BABA’, ‘BABA HAS KEKE’ and ‘BABA AND KEKE IS YOU’, I become invincible because if Baba kills itself, Keke will appear as it ‘broke free’ from Baba and vice versa.

Lens of Problem Solving (Lens 8)

  • Most levels contain fixed rules that cannot be changed, and they are strategically positioned at the corners of the level which the player cannot manipulate. This forces the player to work with a small set of rules sometimes to get the desired outcome.
  • There are some unspoken rules to the game, like if ‘ROCK IS NOT MOVE’ is already present, forming the rule ‘ROCK IS MOVE’ does not negate the effect of the first rule. This is shown visually by the crossing out of the two rules and the prompt to undo the move.
  • The game contains over 200 handcrafted levels, and the developer has stated on his blog that he is working on a future expansion for a level creator, which the players themselves can create new levels to challenge one another.

Lens of Challenge (Lens 38)

  • Despite some mind-blowingly hard levels, the game is scaled well. The game always provide mini tutorials when it introduces new words to help the player understand the mechanics and slowly build up from there.
  • It is easy for new players to play the game. I often ask my friends for help when I get stuck on levels. Even though they might not have heard of the game before, after explaining the core mechanics of the game, most of them understood and were able to help me.

The Sims 4

The Sims 4 (taken from )

The Sims 4 is a single-player life simulation game. Players can customize their characters and houses. Players can also control the life of the characters and explore the worlds in the game. Game-play includes household development, careers, emotions, traits, aspirations and more.


Lens of Story Machine: The Sims was especially mentioned in the Lens of Story Machine, and for good reason. There was no fixed architect of story line which could be a negative for the game as it can get mundane playing the game. However, the sims being a long time game has a huge community of players who will come up with stories or challenges for other players to try. An example will be the rags to riches challenge where the player will have no money and residence for the character, wherein the player will have to figure a way to get their character rich. These player induced stories add more potential and fun for the players in the community.

However, The Sims 4 itself does not have a story arc. The game does not impose conflict and character development is minimal. There is little repercussions for actions in the game. For example, characters that have a bad relationship can still chat amicably. The lack of a story makes the game boring and “too easy”. This results in a heavy dependency on player induced stories when playing.


The Sims 4 has a rich pool of mechanics incorporated into the game as it was big scale life simulation game. For example, there are friendship and romance level for relationships between characters, there are career paths and aspiration with defined tasks to complete to get a pay rise or a promotion. Other than these, there are many more interesting mechanics.

Lens of Essential Experience: The Sims 4 also brought mechanics for University into the game through the Discover University expansion pack. The game focused on the dormitory and roommates, where players are most excited about. They made attending classes a rabbit hole as these are the repetitive and mundane aspect of university that do not add much value to the experience. Focusing on the roommate aspect can also be extended to other areas of the game as the game can now have roommates not just in the University pack but also in other residences of the game world.

Lens of the Toy: Other than mechanic for story making, there are also different ways the sims can be played with: Character creation and house building. As The Sims 4 provide a well-defined mechanism for character creation, many players spend their game-play on making their characters. Challenges like creating characters to suit a color series or to create a character similar to a celebrity spun from these mechanisms. Similarly, for building lots, the players can not only build residential lots but also public lots. With the addition of the latest Tiny Living stuff pack, many players tried to challenge building a small lot.


The visuals of The Sims 4 is hugely made up of the characters and builds in game. In every released expansion packs, the developer team spent a great effort in creating new styles of clothes, hair, accessories for characters; and furniture, wallpapers for builds. They also tried to express diversity by adding different skin tones and religious clothing like hijabs. As with story and mechanics, the Sims community also created custom character and build content for the aesthetics of the game, some with a different art style. The art style of The Sims 4 is a huge improvement from its 3 predecessors. However, some players find the art style too cartoonish and prefer custom contents with more textures for more realism.

Lens of Imagination: The Sims 4 has its own made up language that players call “Simlish”. Whenever the characters communicate, they speak gibberish and have dramatic expressions and movement. This leaves the players space to imagine the conversation the characters are having. In a lot of Let’s play videos, the players make up the conversation themselves from the characters’ body language. However, some Simlish phrases appear often that players can guess the meaning, making the game more immersive.


Having so much content, The Sims 4 will have to consider how to allow the game to run on different hardware. The Sims 4 releases expansion packs with different content, users buy the content they are interested in. This keeps the game-play and content of each player simple and efficient enough to meet their needs; also keeping the game profitable. The pre-built characters and builds are also kept as simple as possible to ensure smooth run of the game for more hardware.