"What could you possibly have in common with a mushroom, or a dinosaur, or even a bacterium? More than you might think. In this Lab, you’ll puzzle out the evolutionary relationships linking together a spectacular array of species. Explore the tree of life and get a front row seat to what some have called the greatest show on Earth. That show is evolution." Evolution Lab is a educational game created by the Life on Earth Project and NOVA Labs
Want to play Warhammer Fantasy Battle? Not possesed of a Scrroge McDuck style moneypit or willing to sell organs in order to buy figures? Kieron Gillen and Matthew Sheret are here to help with Hipsterhammer. Jump in with guides to building Dwarf, Empire or Vampire Count armies on the cheap! Doubles as a bit of a guide to the weirdo world of Warhammer Fantasy, as distinct from your more generic Tolkienesque efforts. They even have a manifesto!
The Women I Pretend to Be, by novelist and game writer Naomi Alderman (previously):
No one in tech has ever been as sexist toward me as teachers and rabbis before I was 12 years old. But I've come to notice more and more how working within the particular masculine sexism of the tech industry has nudged the way I present myself, just a little. I've noticed how, very slowly, I've started to acquiesce into playing roles that get assigned to me. I've noticed how I disappear behind these masks.
What follows is not a horror story. It's a series of moments.
As an archivist, my ethical duty is to maintain those objects of intrinsic value to future generations. I’ve often found that others assume my profession is focused on facts and figures, the hard data from which a census or otherwise lifeless historical record can be drawn. Such data will inform one on how a people survived. As important as this data is, it cannot tell you how a people dreamed. [more inside]
It's clear that narrative is an important part of video games and something that the audience deeply relates to. However, the strengths of interactive media are player participation, the ability to experience content in different ways on different playthroughs and the fact that the content is not static. It's time for narrative to deeply embrace these elements.Ken Levine, of System Shock and BioShock fame, explores player driven replayable narrative gameplay.
The brainchild of Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team at From Software, the Souls games have gained a rabid cult following over the past few years. The newest spiritual successor Bloodborne (trailer 1, 2) has been out for a couple weeks now, and it's received stellar reviews across the board. It might very well be the best in the series, reconfiguring the dense gameplay in surprising ways and offering up an intricately-realized Victorian gothic world. Tim Rogers has written a lengthy, articulate, spoiler-free (in a narrative sense) analysis of Bloodborne's design - You Are the Experience Points. [more inside]
Tired of video games with soundtracks full of butt rock, gloomy dirges and electronic haze? You're in luck! Games also have a proud tradition of whimsical, charming, jazzy, funky, jaunty, zany, serene, uplifting, and even joyous tunes! [more inside]
Aurion looks to be a standard and mechanically unremarkable retro action RPG with heavy Japanese design influences. But its design and feel are unmistakably fresh, offering a bold color palette and interesting unit designs. Its fiction is rooted in stories of exploitation and division, and in a desire for harmony.This review of Cameroon's Kiro’o Games latest release is just one of the increasingly visible ways Africa's game developers are beginning to gain traction in their domestic and international markets. Last fall, Lagos hosted the inaugural West African Gaming Expo, bringing together startups, gamers, developers and investors for the first time. Games range from mobile only, extremely local - smash the mosquito or drive your matatu like a maniac - to educational - to full fledged RPG like Kiro'o's Aurion. Women are as much a part of this nascent industry, breaking barriers and encouraging others to join. Watch this space.
"This blog is dedicated to discussing games where you play as a frog, but it might also talk about games which just have heavy frog presence in them. The borders are unclear and the road ahead is hazy. Come with me on the journey to be a frog."
Why I Run Netrunner (fantastic Previous post) is a great card game with a small problem--the initial difficulty curve is basically a cliff, with seemingly a thousand different things for newcomers to keep in mind. So developer Martin Brochu, aka Nagnazul, has created a neat little flavorific text-based tutorial for you all. Now you have no more excuse. Enjoy! (Some NSFW language.)
Dwarf Fortress will now include poetry, music and dance in procedurally generated forms. Making individual poems is beyond the capabilities of Dwarf Fortress (for now) but that hasn't stopped fans from making their own poems based on the publicly posted examples of poetic forms. Besides poetry, music and dance forms will also be generated and spread throughout the game as non-player characters teach each other. Dwarf Fortress developer Tarn Adams has been posting about these new additions to the game on his changelog (starting at 01/24/2015) and answering questions about it in his two latest monthly Future of the Fortress forum posts. On Rock Paper Shotgun Adam and Graham Smith delve into this topic to explore why it matters.
It was common practice in the 8/16 bit era for Japanese programmers to use pseudonyms or abbreviations in the game's credits, so you might not have given too much thought to the name NASIR popping up in the credits for Rad Racer, Final Fantasy II or Secret of Mana. In fact, NASIR was just the first name of programmer Nasir Gebelli, an Iranian-American who first made his name programming ambitious games like Horizon V in the Apple II era. [more inside]
The Tub Adventure. The Stupid Room. The Gaming Guyz Game (watch their complete animated hijinx here). The Tube Adventure. The Tilted Cart. All by Shmorky (Tumblr, Twitter). [more inside]
Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection "I wrote this collection because I thought there should be more small desktop toys available: little games you can pop up in a window and play for two or three minutes while you take a break from whatever else you were doing. And I was also annoyed that every time I found a good game on (say) Unix, it wasn't available the next time I was sitting at a Windows machine, or vice versa; so I arranged that everything in my personal puzzle collection will happily run on both those platforms and more." In addition to the desktop implementations available at the website, the collection is also available on Android and iOS.
This is a game where you push circles into other circles. This is a destructively massive time sink. You have been warned.
A short history of gaming in Brazil: "To understand the history of gaming in Brazil dear reader, you must know a little bit about our political and economic history ... In 1991, a small publisher by the name of GSA published a roleplaying game called Tagmar [translation], often lauded as the first Brazilian RPG. ... They also released Desafio dos Bandeirantes, a game set in 17th century colonial Brazil using regional folklore instead of European myths, and a sci-fi game, Millenia [translation] ... In February 1994, the Brazilian authorities set in motion a major economic plan that invigorated the Brazilian economy for the first time since 1973. By March, the currency stabilized enough to assure the population (and companies) that their money would be worth the same by the end of the week ... The happy result for gamers was that companies started buying game licenses right and left." Via. See also History of Brazilian RPGs, History of Brazilian RPG magazines, Role-playing games in education in Brazil: how we do it [PDF], and President Cardoso reflects on Brazil and sociology.
Although he's been out of the games industry for years, Keiji Yamagishi (known as the original composer for Ninja Gaiden[YT] and Tecmo Bowl[YT] among other soundtracks) has kept busy with work on ringtones and other music compositions. After contributing to a compilation put out by the game music label Brave Wave, he decided to put out a full album with label founder Mohammed Taher. You can listen to the first track on Soundcloud. (warning, may melt speakers/face) [more inside]
What's the scariest thing in the world? Ask your teenage daughter. Ninja Pizza Girl is a game from independent game studio Disparity Games.
I’m pitching my idea for "baddies" to the Disparity Games design think tank. It consists of me, my wife and however many of our daughters happen to be in the room at the time.… Raven looks up. "Robots aren’t scary Dad.… Zombies aren’t scary either."[more inside]
I’m getting a little tetchy with this unreceptive design group. I ask Raven, "So what are teenage girls scared of?"
Raven thinks for a moment. She looks sad. "Other teenagers," she says.
"Some games make an enormous impact on you when you play them, and time and technology do little to diminish that impact. I feel that way about quite a few games: Elite, Super Mario Bros, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are three that immediately come to mind. Secret of Mana is without question a fourth." [more inside]
Mozilla's Darrin Henein writes about his decision to release his side project, the iOS game Lastronaut, completely free - no ads, no in-app purchases. He describes the game as "a love-letter to an industry". His co-creator is Stephan Leroux.
Swery65 is a game designer known for the cult class Deadly Premonition. Deadly Premonition was distinguished by its quirky Twin Peaks inspired storyline, lovingly rendered American small town gameworld, memorable characters, and unique gameplay. Swery's new series is an atmospheric mystery game, D4 (Dark Dreams Don't Die). D4 notably ditches the somewhat tacked on combat of Deadly Prem. in favor of a series of investigation mini-games more in line with old-school point and click adventures. Noted Let's Player SuperGreatFriend has been working his way through the game as it's released, and you can follow along to get a taste of Swery's latest unique creation.
You might have noticed that there were three advertisements for video games aired during February's Super Bowl. All three were for free to play mobile games (1 2 3). Bloomberg Business explores how you make that kind of money (warning, super excessive design) while Giant Bomb plays the actual games. Also, just who are these people spending all that money?
History Respawned is a show where historians consider historical video games - like Papers Please, Diablo III, Assassin's Creed Unity and Wolfenstein: The New Order - with host Bob Whitaker, a history PhD and professor from Dallas, Texas.
Monster Pamphlets. Monsters for all your tabletop RPG needs. [slTumblr]
There’s No Morality in Exercise: I’m a Fat Person and Made a Successful Fitness App "There is a thing I feared when I started making a fitness app, and it was this: that someone would notice that I am fat."
Godus, billed as a spiritual successor to beloved classic God-game Populous, raised £526,563 on Kickstarter in late 2012, after being teased in the controversial mobile "event" Curiosity (previously.) A well-received demo at PAX Prime in 2013 fueled more hype, but the Steam Early access launch that followed was met with lukewarm reviews, and the release of a freemium iOS version heightened the backlash. It now appears that Godus may be on the brink of abandonment, in the wake of staff shake-ups, Molyneux announcing a new project, and an admission that Kickstarter pledges will probably not be met. [more inside]
Outlawry, Supervillians, and Modern Law Before the modern period, the ability of the courts to enforce their authority was quite limited, shockingly so by modern standards. ...So what was the legal system to do? Well, one common tool was “outlawry”, declaring a person to be beyond the protection of the law. The meaning of the sentence changed over time, and it ultimately disappeared with urbanization and doctrines like habeas corpus, but a growth in supervillainy might bring it back into fashion.
Wish you could make games but have no idea how you'd get started? Have you never coded a day in your life and feel overwhelmed trying to teach yourself? Can't draw anything beyond stick figures? Overwhelmed and don't know what questions to even ask? You're in luck! Sortingh.at is a tool that will give you personalized resources to help you get started making your first game, custom tailored to what you're actually making. (h/t)
You probably know Richard Garfield as the creator of Magic: The Gathering. But his favorite creation is actually Netrunner, intended to be a "richer game" with bluffing and skill "more like Poker." Android: Netrunner is an asymmetrical Living Card Game based on the original Netrunner (which still has its fans). Set in a cyberpunk future, you play a megacorp using "ICE" to protect servers hiding company agendas (like The Future Perfect and Hostile Takeover) or the hacker "runner" trying to steal them. Chose from five megacorps and three runner factions and get started with a few data packs, important jargon, and deck-building. For the initiated, prepare for this year's regional championships and read up on quantitative analyses of cards, runner economies, corporation economies, ICE and icebreakers, opening moves, studies in variance, and the ever-changing metagame. Still not sure? Watch the Worlds 2014 Final (or read the champ's recap) and practice online using OCTGN or newcomer Jinteki.net, a browser-based version in development by World Champion finalist Minh Tran. And as always, beware Scorched Earth.
Face-Stabbing and Cop-Killing: Inside 2015's Most Controversial Video Game [VICE]
"Destructive Creations' Hatred has drawn plenty of criticism for the fact that its main character, a big hairy man, seems intent on killing innocent civilians for no particular reason."[more inside]
The Deep Mind of Demis Hassabis - "The big thing is what we call transfer learning. You've mastered one domain of things, how do you abstract that into something that's almost like a library of knowledge that you can now usefully apply in a new domain? That's the key to general knowledge. At the moment, we are good at processing perceptual information and then picking an action based on that. But when it goes to the next level, the concept level, nobody has been able to do that." (previously: 1,2) [more inside]
Armchair detectives and Miskatonic enthusiasts: Spend this weekend solving the first two cases in the free-to-print-and-play Arkham Investigator mystery game. [more inside]
Louis Gorenfeld lovingly explores the mathematics and techniques behind early, pseudo-3D games. [more inside]
Bored? Like Adventure Time? Try playing one of these many, many Adventure Time games.
This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2014. Critical Distance provides a roundup of some of the best articles about games this year. [more inside]
NES My Life "Mundane everyday challenges (such as finding a job, dealing with ultra conservative relatives, or deleting unwanted dick pics on a dating site) envisioned as classic black box retro 8bit Nintendo games." [via mefi projects]
Kenta Cho of ABA Games has released 50 minigames this year. They are all free to play on his site, with source. [more inside]
At its peak in 2007, the company owned more than 15 game studios, most of which were part of the well-oiled licensed games machine. It had $500 million cash in the bank and revenue exceeding a billion dollars. It was printing cash. By 2013, its shares had plummeted to 11 cents each.
Noted boardgaming blog Shut Up & Sit Down (previously) has been publishing its "Top 25 Games Ever!" all week long. Now that the series is complete, let the arguing begin: 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1.
Get 10 is a new browser game from veewo, creators of 1024.
For golden centuries, the clone empresses of the Second Zenith Empire have ruled the galaxy. The source and expression of their power is the Zenith Fleet: a hundred ancient starships, the only vessels in existence capable of exceeding light speed. One of them has somehow disappeared—and you, Astronaut-Superintendent Waechter, must assemble a crew and find it.
Pencil and Paper Games is devoted to games you can play with nothing more than a pencil and a piece of paper (some of which can be played on the site, for those who do not have access to a pencil and paper, or remember what those are.) [more inside]
The best learning games are always fun. Try playing them yourself and see if you enjoy them. No matter how advanced your understanding of the subject matter, a good game should still be fun. I've understood algebra and number partitions for decades, but DragonBox and Wuzzit Trouble are still challenging puzzlers that I like to fiddle with on long airline flights. All good games offer challenges in intuitive ways. In fact, this is the reason games work so well for learning: Players are intrinsically motivated to identify and succeed at understanding the game's mechanics.The MindShift Guide to Digital Games and Learning provides a basic introduction to the use of video games in education, gives several thought-provoking examples, and points to numerous sites with related goals, including Edutopia's articles on game-based learning and Graphite's reviews of digital games with educational content. Meanwhile, this being what The Guardian has just called "Board games' golden age," resources such as Play Play Learn, BoardGameGeek's Games in the Classroom, and The Dice Tower's recent countdown of "Top Ten Games for the Classroom" offer interesting options for the tabletop as well. [more inside]
This War of Mine is a computer game by Polish developers 11 Bit Studios about being a normal citizen during a modern Eastern European civil war, drawing especially on the Siege of Sarajevo. It has been called an antidote to Call of Duty for its unremittingly bleak depiction of war, though it has been criticized for being an unrealistically grim portrayal of life in a besieged city by some, including a survivor of the Siege of Sarajevo. These and other issues are discussed on the strategy game podcast Three Moves Ahead. [This War of Mine previously]
Hey, Parents. What Minecraft Is Doing to Your Kids Is Kind of Surprising. - A comprehensive look at how Minecraft is enabling kids (and adults) to be more creative, collaborative, and aware of some harsh life-lessons. [more inside]