On the Art of the Anti-Puzzle, with Zach Barth

ETAO Podcast, Episode 17.


Infinifactory feels like SpaceChem for the world that Minecraft hath wrought—which makes sense, given that it’s the latest from Zach Barth, who both masterminded SpaceChem and ushered in the Blocks ‘n Voxels Age with his seminal “infinifranchise” (Zach’s competitive mine-’em-up Infiniminer was the direct inspiration for Minecraft, and well, after Minecraft came the flood).

“They’re all terrible,” Zach said of his infinigames when I spoke to him. I respectfully disagree (and he’s at least half-joking anyway), but his larger point stands: Notch took Infiniminer and made “something totally different and totally better.” Infiniminer sees Zach attempting something totally different and totally better, as well, building on his older work in unexpected ways.

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Zach has been making games since those murky, pre-Kickstarter, “pre-Braid” days when, in his words, “nobody made money on indie games.” We’re now living in a world very different from that world, and Infinifactory sees Zach diving into the latter day indie development space with aplomb. (This means adding a layer of audiovisual and interface polish—again in his words, “making a game that doesn’t look like crap, and actually looks like something that you might like to give a shot to.” Zach is a self-deprecating guy).

And also, Zach is a very chill guy.

You may quote me.

———
• Matthew S. Burns did in fact give us both that remarkable and highly useful article on “consumer-kings” and the Infinifactory soundtrack.

• Here’s Jay Allen on “this clash of anonymous imageboard culture with the parts of social media where people live and work”.

• And here’s Leigh Alexander on how gamer culture is sort of stuck in 1990, and what specifically she means by that is utterly fascinating and hugely important.

• I grabbed Max Barry’s Lexicon and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. I’m excited to read both. Do also consider checking out John Darnielle’s fairly spectacular novel, Wolf in White Van. And pretty much everything by William Gibson, obviously.

• And people, Over the Garden Wall really is just amazing.

• Toni Morrison was indeed the one who said the thing about being a conduit. Here’s what got me thinking about that idea recently.
———

“All The People Say” by Carpe Demon.
“Powerhouse” by Raymond Scott, performed by Spike Jones and His City Slickers.
“Powerhouse” by Raymond Scott, performed by The Raymond Scott Quintette, from the Microphone Music anthology.

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