Average score:

A sensible lifestyle

With a limited number of days (due to the holidays) and an overabundance of things that need to be done, whimsy and entertainment will need to (temporarily) take a backseat to efficient productivity. The most important thing on the agenda is Gamer Mom. Any day focused on that activity is a day well-spent, and I encourage the Worker, the Programmer, and the Explorer (if called) to focus and coordinate their efforts on that project. The second-most important focus is the Musician's music. I don't know what that's going to turn out like, because he hasn't gotten the time he's deserved. But in the long-term, I'm hoping to turn his output into some degree of income that can support the rest of us. The Addict will work on the blog, preferably more than once. Angles and Circles will be passed to the Thinker, because we don't know exactly what to do with it. The Gamer and the Person are not needed this month, but we'll see how it goes without them.
First activity (Sat.): TV 5:22
First activity (Sun.): Gamer Mom 5:32
Wow, that was a lot of TV. I've got to stop planning to watch Doctor Who immediately after Shabbat; it took hours to download, and I needed to pad out that time with other TV shows. Oh, who am I kidding. I didn't need to do anything. I could have watched the Doctor Who season finale tomorrow. Ah well, the damage is done. Let's get to work.

1:40 AM - Gamer Mom
2:30 AM - Bed.
11:00 - up, start the day right
11:30 - Gamer Mom (if there are technical problems, mark them for later and move on)
4:00 - Living in Hyrule
5:00 - The Tenth Man
6:00 - Trial By Jury
7:00 - Cox and Box
8:00 - comics
12:00 - score.

I'm not good enough, but today is going to be perfect.
Time allocation: Gamer Mom 7:40
TV 5:36
Mundane activities 4:18
Comics 2:08
Getting a new cell phone 0:59
Notes: This was a fast day. I was also sick. I had very little energy. After the point where by the rules, I should have been obligated to end the day, I took what was intended to be a one-hour nap to regain a sane state of mind. Instead, I slept for eleven hours. After that point, I did not feel like it would be right to call any of what I was doing a continuation of the same day, since it was not a valid extension.
Performance review: ...and we start off the month on absolutely the wrong note. I guess we can work up from here into a redemption storyline, but it's not going to be easy. In your defense, you didn't know you'd be sick or that the fast would make working so difficult. But the plan was bad to begin with. 5 hours and 22 minutes of TV before settling on a plan?! What is wrong with you?!
Notes: I'm still sick, and have felt weak all day. I didn't keep track of any of my activities, not that there was anything worth tracking. It was entirely TV and comics, even though in retrospect that was against the rules, since we've entered Panic Mode already.
First activity: Gamer Mom 1:10
I got us into panic mode, and I'm going to get us out.

11:40 - Gamer Mom
2:40 - lunch
3:00 - Living in Hyrule
4:00 - The Tenth Man
5:20 - Trial by Jury
6:20 - Cox and Box
7:20 - dinner
7:45 - Game night
Whenever I get back - clean up hard drive for 45 minutes.
Then Gamer Mom until 2:00, and score.

I'm not good enough, but today is going to be perfect.
Time allocation: Games night 4:13
Gamer Mom 3:24
Mundane activities 2:22
The Tenth Man 1:23
Trial By Jury 0:59
Cox and Box 0:51
"Living in Hyrule" 0:35
Cleaning up my hard drive 0:29
I'm halfway through one of the more complicated nodes of Gamer Mom (node 25), including CSS styling and a few dozen lines of Javascript code.

I got more comfortable with my character in The Tenth Man by going over the first two acts.

I got acquainted with my first two songs in Trial By Jury.

I came up with an approach to Cox and Box which I like.

I posted the Zelda post ("An ode to Deku Nuts").

I cleared away the things on my hard drive that I'm guaranteed to never touch again.
Notes: The day was played in accordance with panic mode rules.
Performance review: Wonderful! Now we need a few more days of this caliber, if we hope to get out of panic mode. This isn't going to be easy, but I hope we all look to the example of the Worker correcting his mistake, and make this a month we can be proud of for once.
First activity: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box 1:28
Gamer Mom was supposed to be really simple, programming-wise. And maybe if we were doing a half-assed job, it would be. But with all the scalability and cross-platform compatibility we're putting in, plus an attention to detail, the project keeps yielding unexpected challenges. The challenge today is italics. I'm using an old-fashioned code-based font, so that I have complete control over how the text is displayed. (I'm a bit concerned about the lack of control over the text rendering in the buttons, but we'll see how that goes.) This script does not have bold or italics. Bold is simple: I just draw the text on top of itself, one pixel down. It's not a true bold, but it looks pretty decent. Italics -or more accurately, an oblique version of the font- is trickier. My plan is to figure out how this font works, and then program a new function which will slant the letters.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 3:27
The blog 3:06
Gamer Mom 3:02
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box 1:28
Comics 1:07
A phone conversation 0:44
The oblique function was surprisingly effortless to program. After a little bit of studying the way it works, I programmed a function to slant the coordinates and it worked flawlessly on the first try.

By the way, could we please delay the blog Addict to next week? My early findings lead me to believe that giving the Explorer tomorrow will increase the level of self-control for a few days after that. I'd like to test that idea.
Notes: I started studying the patterns in my degree of control from day to day, looking at how each day affects the one after it. I browsed the web, read some excellent comics, and added nineteen nodes to Gamer Mom. Panic mode was in effect.
Performance review: You started well, floundered after the unexpected easiness -falling into the Worker's patterns, and then reading comics- and recovered in the end. I'd like to score this highly, but the problems are just too significant. Web browsing and comics aren't just wrong for your character, they're also wrong during panic mode. That's four points off right there. So it's great that you were able to help us with Gamer Mom, but this isn't helping us get back on track with the month. We need two 10-point days in a row now to recover, which isn't likely but is certainly something to aim for. I'll go along with your idea to call the Explorer. He hasn't had a 10-point day in months, and in the middle of panic mode his options are limited. But if he can pull this off, it'll be glorious.
First activity: Programming my face 1:53
Let's show these boys how it's done.
Time allocation: Gamer Mom 2:40
Mundane activities 2:18
Programming my face 1:53
Playing around with my new phone 1:22
Flower 1:03
Reading a chapter of a book 0:50
The blog 0:43
Imagining the ideal game controller 0:37
Endless Ocean 0:36
Yom Kippur music 0:34
Box and Cox 0:31
Cox and Box 0:23
Walking outside, running into Avri, and chatting 0:13

That's as far as I've gotten so far with drawing my face in Javascript. Once I have the whole picture I'll be able to animate it and have it interact with guests to the blog. It'll be awesome, which is maybe a quality that's been lacking on the blog for a bit but I'm bringing the awesome back. Like the new blog post I'm working on: it'll live up to having the entire weight of those six years underneath it. Which really isn't such a big deal: the only reason those six years matter is that in that time I made a lot of things I can be proud of. This is another thing to add to that pile. And then there's Gamer Mom, which is a whole different class of creation. There were moments in it that I played through and said "This is only a little bit better than everything else out there!". This bothers me, because that means that in those moments people will think they're playing a game, rather than thinking they're a housewife who's trying to get her family to play World of Warcraft. So I changed a few little things from the script (such as forcing a moment of reconsideration at the end of certain topics of conversation) to fix the pacing and keep the level of naturalism that I've had up until now. Why has no one made a game like this before? No, seriously, I'm asking you. Why has no one made a game like this before? The farther I get into Gamer Mom, the less that makes sense to me.
Notes: I reached node 54 of Gamer Mom. I discovered many of the bizarre things which my phone (a Sony model) will not do. I replayed Flower, which does not get less inspiring with repetition. I read a chapter of the second Otherland book. I started writing a blog post. I made some sketches of game controllers, taking into account what I said in ""Game flow control" and trying to come up with a design that both suggests a very simple usage while being suitable for very complex games played by lefties. (I was not successful.) I wandered around Endless Ocean. I practiced the Yom Kippur music with my father. I read the script for Box and Cox, and worked on Cox and Box. Panic mode rules were in effect, but there was a little bit of web browsing.
Performance review: My hat is off to you. It's fresh, it's nostalgic, it's childish but with the adult thing on top, there's lots of enthusiasm in everything... this is certainly a 10-point day. (One point comes off for the web browsing, and I'm giving you a point for nailing the character.)
Notes: Once again, no details were recorded because there was no intention of playing by the rules. The day started before Yom Kippur, and with only three hours to go I didn't see how I could get six points in that time and be allowed an extension. So I chose (sensibly, I thought) to simply ignore The Rules for three hours, and then resume. But then I thought, well, I'm already breaking off-script, so what difference will it make to watch a few more TV shows? With all said and done, I watched episodes of Breaking Bad, Phineas and Ferb, The Amazing Race, Episodes, Slings and Arrows, and a bunch of others -don't expect me to remember them all. I also read a bunch of Spider-Man comics from early 1994. (Not a good year for Spider-Man comics.)
Performance review: My God! What. The. Hell. All we needed was a single ten-point day to recover from all those terrible days, and instead we go down further! Technically this should count as four separate days (each one scoring zero) because there's no basis for the extension, but I'm feeling soft today. But I swear to God, next time I'll call a spade a spade and the month be damned!
First activity: Reading 1:56
I don't know what to do. I thought I'd gotten past the whole "I vs. I" thing. But apparently I haven't. I keep doing things I don't mean to do, just because it's easier than what I've planned. I seem incapable of doing anything other than the absolute minimum required. Maybe I need to be much harsher in penalties for messing up. If one of us makes a mistake that could have been avoided, ban the character. If there's a day with no clear character... no, I don't see what I can possibly do there. My influence is nonexistent as long as our Rules are being ignored. The Rules are life. The Rules are life. The Rules are life.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 3:42
Coming up with a new step to precede each day 2:15
Reading 2:07
Watching Miriam play the first half of Flower 1:01
TV 0:53
Watching TV with Dena 0:45
Helping a neighbor 0:02
I've been thinking about the multiple-personality system all wrong. I'm not drafting characters to suit my plans - they're volunteering, and my job is to oversee their progress. And my plan for the month should never be set in stone, because a demand implies an assumption that nothing else will turn out to make more sense. (The situation with Phineas and Ferb episodes last month was caused by just such a mistake on my part.) The details of the plan are what we follow if no one comes up with anything better.

From now on, there will be a new step in between one day and the next: the characters may formally propose a plan for the day, and I will choose one from the proposals, make notes, and confirm that the idea is reasonable. Until I sign off on one plan or another, the day may not begin. (This will need to be formally added to the Rules at some point soon.) Anything done (excepting the seven permissible activities) between scoring one day and me signing off on the next counts as cheating, and if there's been cheating I'm not going to let anyone volunteer but instead I'll dictate who's playing based on my plans (but most likely the Worker). (I would like to make the consequences of cheating severe enough that it doesn't ever happen. Also, if we can't follow the most basic fundamentals of the Rules, it's doubtful that I'll trust anyone with their own plans.)

At some point I'll need to have the Programmer make an interface for proposals pop up whenever I turn on my computer. I imagine that will be complicated to implement. In the meantime, a pen and paper will suffice. The form which needs to be filled out has room for the character to make a lengthy proposal, for myself to give up to and no more than three instructions, checkboxes for both of us to mark that we accept what the other has proposed, and room for me to sign my authorization with the "I am not..." logo.
Notes: I paused the day for game night.
Performance review: I see no coherence here. The idea seems to have come from reflection on the opening statement, rather than anything in particular that I experienced today. Two points will be deducted for mundanity, and another point will be taken off for playing piano while in panic mode.

Musician: I'm going to add a point, because we can't afford a two-point day at this point.

Explorer: I'll do the same.

Worker: Oh, fine. I would like to read comics and watch TV again. One more point.

I'm not sure this is a good idea, I haven't done anything to earn those points.

Programmer: The rules do say that anyone can add points for any reason during your performance review.

Explorer: Come on, add one yourself.

Programmer: Absolutely not.

Gamer: I'll add another one.

This really feels like cheating.
First activity (Wed.): Lunch 0:21
First activity (Thu.): Gamer Mom 0:43
3:00 - Gamer Mom
4:55 - The holiday begins.
6:05 - Gamer Mom
7:00 - Look over financial situation
7:45 - Buy a DS flash card
8:30 - The Tenth Man
10:30 - Print out daily paperwork
11:00 - Score.

I'm not good enough, but today is going to be perfect.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 2:42
Gamer Mom 2:38
The Tenth Man 2:04
Comics 1:59
Money 1:25
Ordering a DS flash card 0:11
Gamer Mom continues, as does The Tenth Man. No major milestones to report on those fronts. My father helped me look at my financial situation, and I got my money out of the stock market before I could lose any more. (I was not the one who chose to invest thusly. I'd rather not gamble away my money.) I ordered a flash card which (if it works as advertised) will let me pirate many DS games on the many trips to Jerusalem coming up.

I have no excuse for the comics. Please forgive me.
Performance review: No, I don't think I will forgive you. If it was too hard to keep going, you could have stopped there and it wouldn't have been too far off from the plan. Instead you read comics, which are forbidden during a panic mode. Honestly, it's like you don't understand what the word "panic" means. You don't have time to waste on comics. In your proposal of the day, you said (and I quote): "Don't give someone less efficient a day during panic mode.". Sidestepping the mind-blowing arrogance of that arrogance, I must say that I took you at your word, and expected a surpassing efficiency. That's the only reason I gave the day to you, rather than the Musician or the Programmer who had decent proposals. But instead of living up to your promise, you read comics and browse the web and waste time. This is unacceptable, and I will show no leniency from here on out for this sort of complacency. You're not getting another day for a while, I'll tell you that. Now sit in the corner and think about what you've done.
First activity (Fri.): Music 2:10
First activity (Sat.): Music 1:26
(Recorded on my cell phone at the beginning of the day:) 
Time allocation: Music 7:00
Mundane activities 1:19
Ah, it's good to be back. As soon as the Thinker gave me the day (because the Addict flaked out), this tune started playing in my head. It still hasn't left. Now that I've filled it out and worked on it so much I think this is one of the strongest beginnings I've ever composed: intense, and yet spontaneous. Tied to baroque music, but with a modern (less-sophisticated) sensibility. And unlike other recent pieces of mine, I don't feel like there's nowhere I can go from here that'll live up to how it's started. I definitely see how this could continue. The difference is that usually I'm really careful to have decent structure, but here I'm defying that impulse. The listener keeps hearing things that should and must continue in particular ways, and each time I push it in an unexpected direction. I will not allow the listener to find easy patterns. When I listen to a Bach fugue, my consciousness gets pulled to one voice and then another, but as I'm focusing on one there are three or four in the background that don't entirely make sense but seem like they might. I'm trying to create that impression of half-noticed patterns.
Notes: The day was paused to talk with Kyler via Skype.
Performance review: You know, I'd totally forgotten how amazing you are. Thank you.
First activity (Sun.): Going to Jerusalem 6:14
First activity (Mon.): Web browsing 1:54
I went to Jerusalem to talk to Aviella. Any chance for a good conversation. Now there's an extended game night going on, so I'm off to that.
Time allocation: Mundane activities 7:16
An extended game night 6:48
Hanging out in Jerusalem 6:14
A very nice dinner/conversation with Mikki 4:35
TV 3:27
Gamer Mom 1:15
Comics 1:02
Talking with my father 0:25
It was great to see Aviella again, and to catch up on everything. She's not overly enamored with this production of HMS Pinafore by the sound of it, but her work is really stressful and she needs to have that extra outlet in her life. In Jerusalem I met Abe Truitt, who sold me on the virtues of the game Dragon Age: Origins. (I may have been less successful selling him on the virtues of Gamer Mom.) After an awkward non-goodbye, I came home just in time for Avri's extended game night, which got a good turnout. I didn't win any games (as far as I recall), but I had a great deal of fun. The highlight of the evening was certainly The Resistance, a "Werewolf"-like social game of identifying loyalties. The spies were a bunch of little kids that I totally ignored because I didn't think they'd be capable of lying, and because of that I totally screwed up our side's chances. (I suspected absolutely everyone except for the traitors.) The next day (after too much TV and internet), an old friend came over for dinner with his family, and I had a great time catching up. It seems that Mikki had never seen any side of me but the gamer: he didn't know I was making games, he didn't know I composed music, he didn't know I wrote things, and he didn't know I acted. I got to show off my various talents, via recordings and computer files. And he amazed me with a video of him playing Bach on the piano, with better technique not two months into learning to play than I had when I'd been playing for a few years. Apparently he's taking it a lot more seriously than I ever did. I also got to get another glimpse at his delightfully bizarre worldview, which seems to be shaped more by what he's been told in life than by anything he's experienced first-hand. My father came back from a tour of the City of David needing to talk to someone about the new archeological findings, which are quite impressive. (They found a complete Roman sword in a newly-uncovered waterway that we know was once used to escape from the Romans!) My father being enthusiastic (and almost Aspergerish!) about something is a rare sight, but it's always appreciated.
Notes: Again this was supposed to be a "panic mode" day, though it doesn't look like it.
Performance review: Good day, except for all the rule-breaking. Listen, if you're tired you really should just go to sleep, and I don't care if it's not 3:00 yet. You certainly don't just throw the Rules away because you don't think you have the energy to uphold them. What should have been done was going to sleep immediately after game night, then switching to the Addict and working on Gamer Mom until dinner. That would give a more dignified position to be in in conversation, no? The fact that this maneuver didn't occur to you tells me that you still have some work ahead of you.
First activity (Tue.): Reading the blog 0:03
First activity (Wed.): "A Matter of Control" 1:08
First activity (Thu.): "A Matter of Control" 0:57
First activity (Fri.): "A Matter of Control" 0:48
First activity (Sat.): "A Matter of Control" 0:27
First activity (Sun.): "A Matter of Control" 1:19
The blog is what gives everything else in my life meaning: whatever I do and experience is part of the blog's story. Without a clear character arc on the blog, events come and go and don't attain significance.
Time allocation: "A Matter of Control" 13:48
"Advanced Freecell" 10:06
Mundane activities 8:40
Reading the blog 3:00
Creating a self-portrait to interactively greet guests 2:37
Watching a movie with Dena 2:21
Getting the page to resize with the browser 1:09
Watching a TV show with Dena 0:48
Fixing a problem with bold text 0:40
Getting my glasses fixed 0:39
Planning 0:29
Looking for ways to integrate The Rules into Linux 0:22
There is something truly beautiful in a blog well-tended
and tragedy in the blog whose potential is not pursued.
Every idea should be expanded upon.
The most enthralling vision is just a shadow of what might come.
What are words without new opportunities?
What are thoughts without meditation?
These idle tweets had no reason to begin.
Plant a seed; watch it grow.
It will require attention.
It will take more and more from you until you think you have nothing left to give.
It will be a living document.
A blank universe, filled.
At every turn, something
you didn't imagine.
But it always suspected.
All blogs have this in them.
When your blog cries out
Notes: During a break in the game, there was a family dinner in Jerusalem.
Performance review: Awesome.
I need to recalibrate my thinking.
Time allocation: Music 5:12
I listened to some Bach pieces to try to get inspiration for my new composition, which sounds similar to Bach's style though structurally they're nothing alike. The more I listened to Bach, the less I knew what to do with the piece. And eventually I realized that the baroque quality of it is a deception: this is actually a percussion piece, which just happens to have notes. The reason it sounds sensible despite jumping all over the place is because it has a fun rhythm that makes sense. This realization didn't actually help me move forward; all I managed to do there was refine the rhythm of the last measure. I'm not actually good with rhythm.
Performance review: 0% mundane activities, but none of the music particularly stood out.
I was a more prolific composer when I was more bored.
Time allocation: Music 8:56
Mundane activities 1:11
After playing some of my old pieces, I got to work on Eshet Chayil and recorded the first four verses, fully arranged. It's not amazing, but it's not bad.
Performance review: Decent, uninspired.
There are a lot of pieces where I like one particular movement, but not the rest of it.
Time allocation: Music 5:18
Mundane activities 0:05
I don't think I've ever heard Brahms' first symphony. Or maybe I heard it in music history class in high school, but I must not have been listening. The first three movements have that common problem of just presenting a style without giving me anything as a listener to latch on to, but the fourth movement is something totally different. It starts out really atmospheric and ominous, and then out of the fog this magnificent melody unexpectedly emerges, and every time I hear it I just get shivers.
Performance review: Whatever floats your boat, I guess. Personally I'm more impressed by creating music than listening to it, but the Rules are ambiguous on whether music "played" needs to be original or if it can be a recording.
First activity (Wed.): Gamer Mom 0:05
First activity (Thu.): Gamer Mom 3:29
Time allocation: Gamer Mom 7:40
Mundane activities 4:58
My heart wasn't really in the work. I kept sneaking off and watching TV shows or browsing the web. But I don't know why I was so reluctant, because the work is actually quite fun.
Notes: There was a break in the game to finish episode 8 of Dungeon Master.
Performance review: This is my fault. I should have known that immediately after getting out of panic mode, there would be a sudden desire to do all the things that were forbidden before. What should I have done, then? I should have demanded of the Addict to keep his head in the game, and if I didn't think he could handle it I should have chosen someone else (like myself, for instance) to give the day to.

Addict, please remember in the future this line from your rules: "I may repeat this activity, I may write a blog post about the activity, I may do other activities which are peripherally related. I may not do anything else."
First activity: Advanced Freecell 0:16
Time allocation: Playing advanced Freecell 4:44
Mundane activities 2:51
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box 1:08
TV (with Dena) 0:44
Buying a new watch 0:37
I finished the second Professor Layton game.
Performance review: Tomorrow, read your rules before starting. You're not allowed to browse the web or play piano.
First activity (Fri.): Learning about MaxGUI 1:37
First activity (Sat.): Programming the text functions 2:20
I'd like to develop a program, to run on startup, that will require five minutes of discussion between the characters before letting us use the computer. Not just glorified paperwork like the Thinker asked for, but actual communication. I'd like to program this in BlitzMax, because it allows me to have a graphical user interface while also allowing me to obscure all other functions of the computer. (You can't switch out of a fullscreen BlitzMax program.) BlitzMax does not have built-in text field functionality, but there is a GUI module that may or may not be what I'm looking for. I'm learning about MaxGUI, and if it's not possible to put graphical elements into a fullscreen application, I'll program the necessary elements myself.
Time allocation: Programming the text functions 4:11
Hanging out with Moshe and his girlfriend Golda 2:31
Learning about MaxGUI 1:37
Mundane activities 1:30
Finding a convenient way to save my characters' rules as images 1:14
Well, MaxGUI wasn't the answer. It would be extremely easy to design this program in; the trouble is, it would function like any old Linux window. There's no mixing and matching between MaxGUI and regular BlitzMax graphics, because the entire way they're displaying to the graphics card is different. And I specifically want to make this in BlitzMax because BlitzMax doesn't play well with Linux. It doesn't let you switch out, it's hard to get out of. I want it to be enough of a hassle to escape that I'll just go along with it instead of bothering. So I started programming my own interface, and got a bit carried away. (I wanted to stop earlier and have a third day, but it was apparent that I could not get a good score without reaching an arrangement that counted as passing the challenge.) I now have a decently functioning little application for chatting with myself, which can easily be extended into the program I'm looking for. From here on, it's up to the Explorer to design the thing.
Performance review: Decent enough. Shame these planned exercises never work out how they're supposed to, though.
First activity: Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! 0:35
Time allocation: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective 2:51
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks 2:46
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors 2:16
Mundane activities 1:36
Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! 1:18
Inazuma Eleven 1:04
Retro Game Challenge 0:50
I finally got my R4DS card in the mail, a little piracy-enabling device for the Nintendo DS. It turns out that not all the games I wanted to play on them work -after messing around with Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for too long trying to get it to run, eventually I decided to just play it with an emulator- but most of them do and that'll be great when I travel to Jerusalem regularly next month. I had forgotten -in all my legit gaming- how nice it was to be able to get games without being sure ahead of time I was going to love them. Of the six games I played today, only one- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks had a chance in hell of me buying it legitimately. The rest is all stuff I would never have been exposed to, and it's a real eye-opener to play all of it.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is unexpectedly fantastic. Well, not so unexpected in that I'd seen a playthrough of the first hour so I had an idea of what I was in for, but unexpected in that I never expected anything from it before I saw that video. Its predecessor, Phantom Hourglass, was utter trash. But this one, running on the same enging and reusing a lot of assets, is a delight. It's almost as linear in its storytelling as Twilight Princess, but the world design is a heck of a lot more competent. It's tight and filled with little things to find, and I often wandered off the plot because some other shiny thing had caught my interest. But the plot is actually entertaining enough in its retelling of the clichés to keep me moving along eagerly. I stopped playing after the first dungeon not because I didn't want to see what came next but just because I want to save some of it for the bus rides. The mode of transportation -trains- is a fun little diversion, and the musical segments are easily the best in the series. This feels like a genuine follow-up to The Wind Waker, unlike Phantom Hourglass which was set in an alternate world. This one seems to be laying groundwork which other games might use later, throwing out all the old creatures and races and inventing new ones. I'm having so much fun, in fact, that I'm thinking maybe I should buy Skyward Sword when it comes out.

Ghost Trick is an adventure from Shu Takumi, who wrote the Phoenix Wright series. And it is frikking bizarre. The idea behind it is simple, and I've heard of similar games before: you're playing as a ghost who's trying to figure out how he died, and you can only interact with the world by posessing inanimate objects. But that's just the starting point for this game, where each new character you meet is more over-the-top than the last and I don't expect the plot to be at all sane. Challenges in the gameplay mainly come from playing out the last four minutes of people's lives over and over and over again until you're able to prevent the deaths. The story presents this as time travel, but it feels more like a conventional "load game" mechanic. But what integrating that into the plot does is it makes Takumi a lot more comfortable with taking advantage of that system (unlike most adventures today, which want to never get you stuck), making little point-and-click puzzle environments where you're expected to play through a few times before you figure it out. There are a bunch of points where he gives you options whose only purpose are to get you irretrievably stuck, just to keep you on your toes. Thankfully the save points are mercifully close together, so he can get away with that. It's good to see that Takumi has more than one good game in him.
Performance review: I don't like that the three games on top are also the three most passive games in the list. It just feels phoned in for the person who says "Whatever I do, I'm going to be the driving force behind it.". Also not helping: the lack of an opening statement. You should have more drive.