The Japanese person (or people) behind the website are mysterious to me. I know nothing about them, except that they’ve been making games, first in Flash, then more recently using the Ruffle runtime, since at least 2001.


While the title under which they put up their efforts may not be memorable, if you’ve been playing web games for a while you probably know some of their work. Possibly their best-known game is DICEWARS, which is like a version of Risk that plays much much faster, most games over in minutes, instead, as with the people I know who have played it, of days.

In DICEWARS (several of GAMEDESIGN’s games are stylized with allcaps), you have nation whose territories are represented as colored areas, each containing a stack of from one to eight six-sided dice. Each nation gets a turn to act, during which they can use a stack of dice to attack the dice of a neighboring country. Fights are resolved by rolling all of the dice in the two stacks. If the attacker wins, they move all of their stack save one into their conquest and take over (the enemy dice are lost), with that single die remaining in the stack’s previous home to keep the lights on.

If the defender rolls higher, or there’s a tie, the attacker loses all of their dice in the stack except one and the defender loses nothing. A stack of one can’t attack, and is generally pretty easy to slaughter by other nations; a good element of strategy is figuring out how to keep high-dice stacks near the front, between enemies and your single-die lands, since you can’t manually move dice around between your territories. When a nation is done acting for a turn, they receive extra bonus dice relative, I think, to the largest contiguous group of regions they control. They are placed randomly among all their possessions.

Fairune (Flash version)

Various versions of DICEWARS can be found on mobile app stores, although I don’t think any of them are officially blessed, and they tend to disappear after awhile.

It turns out they have a lot of other games that you may know of. One of particular note is Fairune, which is a capsule, very much simplified JRPG. Fairune and sequels made it to the 3DS and Switch eShops, where they are very inexpensive and enjoyable. Fairune is copyrighted by SKIPMORE, which may be a different entity. It’s still a nice game, worth looking into.

EDIT: SKIPMORE has their own website, which now mostly presents their downloadable console and mobile games.

The works of GAMEDESIGN (

Remember EYEZMAZE and GROW?

There was a time when these short Flash games were the toast of the internet. There is very little cultural memory online for anything that isn’t absolutely huge (and almost no quality control over the things that become huge) so no one talks about GROW anymore, or its Japanese creator On, which is a tremendous shame.

EYEZMAZE took a tremendous blow when Flash shut down. I really hate how people generally accepted its demise as good and necessary when it obliterated so many great things, like Homestar Runner’s original website, that are only now sort of becoming available again. There were serious problems with Flash, it’s true, but not all the reasons it was shoved out the airlock were good ones. Fortunately On has converted many of his games to work with HTML5.

The art is great for its own sake, but the games, available by clicking on the icons at the top of the site, are the highlights, and foremost of those are the GROW series. I was going to link them individually here, but most of them are GROW in some form of other. You should probably start with the first.

The object is to figure out the best order to click on the various items to add to the GROW planet. Every time you add something, things that were already on the planet may “level up” depending on the other things that are with it there. Some things being added too early may harm the development of other things. Usually there’s one specific order that will result in a perfect score (and an animation that goes with it). Figuring it out, using the visual clues from your failed attempts, will usually take many tries, but a run through only takes a couple of minutes at most. All off the GROW games take this general form, although most of them aren’t as complex as the first.

Bitrot has not been kind to GROW. There was an Android version of Grow RPG that appears to have succumbed to Google’s awful app culling policy, where if something isn’t updated, for whatever reason, in a certain time they just delete it. (Not nearly enough has been said about his hostile this is to software preservation. It’s horrendous.)

On has had health struggles over the years, which have interfered with his creation of new amusements. He still seems to be up and active though, and we hope he continues creating both his games and his art for a while to come.

EYEZMAZE (some games may require Ruffle)

On’s Twitter feed

On’s Bilibili page (Bilibili is a Chinese video site)

Sundry Sunday: Strong Bad Plays Vampire’s Castle

We’ve posted Strong Bad videos a few times before here, and for that I make no apologies. Left up to me we’d be a 24/7 Homestar Runner joint. But there already is a 24/7 joint of that nature, and it’s called, although we do have a more frequent update schedule than them these days.

This one’s special though in that it is a new Strong Bad video, one that went up late last Sunday evening. In it, the bulbous-headed wrestleman plays the short DOS text adventure Vampire’s Castle, which was written in less than 200 lines of BASIC code. It inspired the HSR Flash game series, previously linked, Thy Dungeonman, Nos 1, 2 and 3 (“Behold thy graphics!”), which you can still play (drumroll)… with Ruffle!

Vampire’s Castle is completely text, so the Baddest Strong enlisted the help of The Cheat to make illustrations of the rooms, which is where a lot of the entertainment value of this video derives.

Strong Bad’s Disk 4 of 12: Vampire’s Castle (30 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Strong Bad Email 94, Video Games

It’s Sunday! You’ve crossed the finish line (which is not a Finnish line) of another week. You deserve a short and funny video something for your dogged persistence against entropy.

In making these posts, I’m aided by there being a nearly 20-year history of weird and fun video game related things on the internet. According to the excellent Homestar Runner Wiki, Strong Bad Email 94 originally went up on January 12, 2004, over 18 years ago. It immediately became iconic and soaked its way into the soul of the web. If you ever see someone on the internet say hat their HEAD A SPLODE, this is where that came from.

They even made playable versions of the games in the animation, although they don’t work without Flash (Ruffle may work, but its compatibility isn’t 100% yet): Rhino Feeder, Secret Collect, Strongbadzone, and the Thy Dungeonman trilogy, one, two and three.

Here it is on, in case you somehow have a way to watch Flash. (The alternative web player Ruffle is an up-and-coming solution! There are even browser extensions available that make its use almost seamless!)