Update: Today I Die is an 2010 IGF finalist in the Nuovo Award category.
Last night I dreamed I was a Stone Age refugee swimming down a river to flee tribal genocide. This game is about the same process, how we reconstruct our daily reality every time we wake. This seemingly abstract idea is made whole with mouse-avoidance puzzles coupled with linguistic puzzles -- which we definitely don´t have enough of. The game is whimsical, a joy, fans of I Wish I Were The Moon will eat it up. However, as good as this is it is a failure.
Dan went through at least five iterations on this. The concept actually originated in secret lodge meetings of an occult society of BsAs game designers which may or may not exist. I remember the original poetry exercise and the results; Tembac´s take was a floating soup, and Dan´s was a template you could modify. He ran with that and created this game several times over; other versions had more challenging puzzles involving keen dexterity, and more word combinations. There was also a version with no words inspired by a debt-game contest we were working on together; he basically blew off the deadline´s last few hours to code up a wholly unrelated game inspired by the theme of debt, involving bubbles and green energy and a floating banker. It keyed him into further exploration here. After simplifying and streamlining a bit, we have the final result, which makes the choices in words more trivial but still deep enough to offer a satisfactory solve.
The reason it is a failure is that, after all these attempts, he was unable to achieve a game that really taps the linguistic part of the brain in an inductive way. You end up manipulating the words as a token reward for spatial manipulation, which is where the core of the gameplay is. As in Storyteller, he keeps trying to do crazy stuff just with finite states and no underlying algorithm, so he keeps running into an exponential wall just as soon as the idea begins to unfurl. This may be his last game of this state-based nature.