Much chops to Bad Science for pointing out Phun, a simulation environment/game/construction engine thingie that (judging from the videos) is just super fun (ho, ho, ho) to fiddle with. It seems a wonderfully open-ended platform for making stuff, which is of course the great strength of a pad and paper, or a bucket of Legos. This demo video gives a sense of the range of possibilities:
There’s a YouTube group devoted to this thing, and the number and variety of little clips there also speaks well to the Phun’s flexibility. We even have one person building a binary adder, and another a working pinball machine. Very, very cool.
The sad, sniffle, miserable bit is that Phun doesn’t run on Macs at the moment. It supports for Linux and Windows, though, and there are people working on a Mac port, so my fingers are crossed. It just seems like it would be too damn much fun to play with.