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The best free games from across the web

For about three years, the A.V. Club ran Sawbuck Gamer, a regular column reviewing the week's most notable free and cheap games across all platforms, from web games to handhelds to console downloadables. It's a treasure trove of content, especially since more literary sister site The Gameological Society took the helm, and it's publicized great desktop projects like the luscious platformer Frogatto (previously), feature-rich Super Mario Bros. X (previously), the evocative faux-web Digital: A Love Story (previously), interactive fiction gem Rover's Day Off, and the hyperkinetic RunMan: Race Around the World (previously). But if you're in the mood for something more immediate, why not start with a list of all the original column's free A-rated online titles? [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 24, 2012 - 20 comments

The Last Thing You'll Ever Desire

Derek Smart has been making games for over 20 years. He sold his first games in plastic baggies at hobby stores. Yet his longevity is somewhat of an anachronism. Many gamers today don't even know who is is, in spite of the fact that his games have sold well enough to keep his company in business since 1992. And the games themselves, well they're mostly terrible. Especially his first, Battlecruiser 3000AD. The Verge takes an in-depth look at the hotheaded perfectionist millionaire game developer whose impenetrable, terminally overhyped games sparked one of the most legendary flamewars in internet history.
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 23, 2012 - 35 comments

harsh realm

HelixSnake is not very good at Skate 3.
posted by theodolite on Oct 19, 2012 - 28 comments

League of Legends Season 2 Championship

With 32 million active players per month, League of Legends, the world's most played video game, just finished it's second World Championship with teams from the US, Russia, Korea, Taiwan and Europe competing for a $2 million dollar prize pool. The tournament was filled with stadium sized crowds, nonstop action, major upsets, even controversy. [more inside]
posted by roaring beast on Oct 15, 2012 - 44 comments

Epic Campaign

Meet the Green Candidate. Is Maine ready to elect America's first Orc Assassin Rogue senator?
posted by roger ackroyd on Oct 4, 2012 - 55 comments

Dark Engine 2.0?

Like Thief or System Shock 2 but have trouble running them on a modern computer?
A user over at the French-language Ariane Thief forums has uploaded a pair of unofficial patches that not only allow the games to run well on modern hardware, but also update the games' underlying Dark Engine to greatly improve graphics.
So far, Kotaku has a short write-up on the patch but otherwise this is still breaking news. Dedicated Thief fans at TTLG are currently putting the release through its paces to see what the updated engine is capable of.

Thief 2 v.1.19 patch (apparently also supports Thief 1) - Thief 2 HD Patched Demo
System Shock 2 patch - SS2 HD Patched Demo

(Thiefy stuff previously, previouslier.)
posted by dunkadunc on Sep 25, 2012 - 65 comments

The Study of Cartridge Blowing

Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? Mental_Floss takes a look at what a daily blow does to an NES cartridge.
posted by hot_monster on Sep 24, 2012 - 55 comments

Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021

Got a few hours to kill and want to spend a little time in gaming history? Don't have anything else to do until 2013? Check out Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021 (wiki) (previously), one of the earliest 4X games ever made, dating to 1987-88. The original version was DOS-based, but the creator, George Moromisato, released a Windows version in 2004 which has significant updates. [more inside]
posted by valkyryn on Sep 12, 2012 - 11 comments

The Extraordinary Quest to Put All the Super Mario Games On One Timeline

Stephen Totilo of Kotaku tries to determine the correct chronology for all the games in the Super Mario canon.
posted by reenum on Sep 9, 2012 - 23 comments

Will Gaymercon Help or Hurt Gaming's Gay Community?

Will next year's convention create a safe atmosphere for gay gamers, or will it simply push them further outside the medium's mainstream? Announced earlier this year, "Gaymercon is the first gaming and tech convention with a focus on LGBT geek culture." [more inside]
posted by Tevin on Aug 31, 2012 - 124 comments

Paradise by the console lights

OnLive Lost: As founder and CEO Steve Perlman departs, The Verge looks at how OnLive failed and what remains of the revolutionary, restructured cloud-based gaming company. [more inside]
posted by 2bucksplus on Aug 28, 2012 - 22 comments

Dred Reckoning

I’m about to tell you a story about videogames, kitchens, and internet forums that has a happy ending. Stop laughing, I’m serious. - A woman gamer declares Gaslamp Games's Dungeons of Dredmor forums awesome.
posted by Artw on Aug 27, 2012 - 77 comments

We don't need your braaaaaaains

Fans of flora versus undead violence rejoice! Plants versus Zombies 2 has been announced for Spring 2013. However all is not well at PopCap games, with a recent layoff of 50 employees, or 10% of its staff, citing the increased popularity of Free-to-play, social and mobile games. Somewhat stickily amongst those reported laid off was Plants vs. Zombies creator George Fan.
posted by Artw on Aug 23, 2012 - 27 comments

Shadow of the Bust

Sony is closing its Liverpool Studio, previously known as Psygnosis, developer of the WipeEout and Lemmings games (DHTML version, previously). The studio created games for 28 years, first gaining attention in the Amiga era for it's high production values and stunning box art (more, more ).
posted by Artw on Aug 22, 2012 - 55 comments

Village, village, village, village, village... buy a village. Done.

"You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion!" Dominion is an award winning game that combines the staples of Eurogaming with the addictive nature of collectable card games. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Aug 14, 2012 - 153 comments

Eight left...

Trespasser, a hugely ambitious 1998 first-person shooter based on the Jurassic Park franchise, is widely regarded as a disappointing failure, remembered mainly for its pioneering physics system and innovative boob-tattoo-based health bar. With his bourbon-smooth voice and an encyclopedic knowledge of the game's history, bugs, and quirks, "Research Indicates" leads us on a fascinating tour through one of the buggiest games ever commercially released. [more inside]
posted by theodolite on Aug 10, 2012 - 33 comments

What do today's kids make of the Commodore 64?

What do today's kids make of the Commodore 64? BBC News invited Commodore enthusiast Mat Allen to show schoolchildren his carefully preserved computer, at a primary school and secondary school in London.
posted by modernnomad on Aug 1, 2012 - 130 comments

Return to City 17

Half Life 2 Episodes 1 & 2 - a Retrospective
posted by Artw on Jul 22, 2012 - 49 comments

Steam’d penguins

Valve confirms Steam for Linux
posted by Artw on Jul 17, 2012 - 88 comments

Good evening... and EAT LASER DEATH!

Why Alfred Hitchcock would make great games
posted by Artw on Jul 16, 2012 - 28 comments

A link to the past

Seedling - "an incredibly overt love letter to SNES-era Zelda games" (flash) (via RPS)
posted by Artw on Jul 14, 2012 - 16 comments

Pony Gaming Roundup

Shards of Equestria is a set of 270 fan-made Magic: The Gathering cards based off of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (made by MeFi's own XQUZYPHYR, via Projects)
Savage Worlds of My Little Pony (PDF version recommended, requires Savage Worlds game system books) is a roleplaying game based on the show, using Pinnacle Games' Savage Worlds system. Notable for its tenent against violence, which punishes characters who pursue violent solutions to problems.
MLP: Roleplaying is Magic (PDF) is another roleplaying game using a custom system.
MLP: Clash of Realities is a miniatures combat game played on computer. Game system plugin for Lackeyccg. Setup instructions
MLP: Fighting is Magic is a slick-looking, upcoming fan-made fighting game. Demo videos: Applejack test, general demonstration, Fluttershy is not OP
Ponykart is an upcoming, fan-made Mario Kart-style driving game. Demo video.
My Little Investigations is an upcoming, fan-made Phoenix Wright-style investigation adventure game. Playable demo.
Cutie Mark Crusade is also a work in progress, and a more traditional adventure game. Playable demo. Demo video.
[more inside]
posted by JHarris on Jun 16, 2012 - 41 comments

Valve Economics: the challenges of virtual economies at Valve

“I’m the president of a videogame company (www.valvesoftware.com).” I thought to myself: Oh, not another “business proposal” from a crackpot… However, something in my head stopped my finger from pressing DEL while my eyes pondered the next line: “We are running into a bunch of problems as we scale up our virtual economies, and as we link economies together. Would you be interested in consulting with us?”
Valve has hired economist Yanis Varoufakis to work on their virtual economies. Valve Economics is Varoufakis's recently launched blog where he explains his background and how he came to work at Valve. [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis on Jun 14, 2012 - 56 comments

The Sounds of Gaming

A Brief History of Video Games - A music video made using the audio from games. [slyt]
posted by quin on Jun 14, 2012 - 11 comments

The 1700 year war

I've been playing the same game of Civilization II for almost 10 years. This is the result. (reddit link)
posted by zoo on Jun 12, 2012 - 166 comments

"How will this person prove it?"

In a few weeks, Peter Molyneux (Fable, Black & White) will launch the first of 22 gaming/social media experiments. Curiosity will have one winner, with DLC available for up to £50,000.
posted by yellowbinder on Jun 7, 2012 - 30 comments

Agricola Lite

Flash Friday: Written for Ludlum Dare 23, Super Strict Farmer is a flash game that plays like a light version of the popular Eurogame Agricola. If you have trouble figuring out how to play, the rules are in the comment thread. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Jun 1, 2012 - 27 comments

The guide to implementing 2d platformers

Having previously been disappointed by the information available on the topic, this is my attempt at categorizing different ways to implement 2D platform games, list their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss some implementation details.
posted by Artw on May 24, 2012 - 33 comments

Taxpayer Entertainment Ltd

Curt Schilling, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, retired with an eye toward making games. His 38 Studios bought Big Huge Games, some big-name talent, and got started with Kingdoms of Amalur... with the help of a $75 million guaranteed loan from the state of Rhode Island (not without controversy). The game was good but not great and sales were likewise good but not great. Not great enough to cover the payments on a $75 million loan, anyway, not to mention payroll, and Rhode Island is likely on the hook.
posted by gilrain on May 18, 2012 - 169 comments

Evil is Back

You may have heard that evil is returning to Sanctuary tonight. Your Diablo 3 launch day preparation guide includes opening cinematics, a cartoon, the story so far, a primer on the new Auction House (now with real money), and build guides for the Demon Hunter, Barbarian, Monk, and Witch Doctor. Since no one at Blizzard beat Diablo 3's Inferno difficulty, death is guaranteed.
posted by Avenger50 on May 14, 2012 - 311 comments

"I always thought that board games were things that adults didn't play."

The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends is a short documentary by Jay Cheel whose subject is summed up by its title. You can see other short films by Cheel at his website. The main protagonist of the doc, Gerry Eng, a.k.a. Reed Farrington, has been the subject of many Cheel films, such as Cooking with Gerry, Cooking with Gerry #2, Poutine, A Very Gerry X-Mas and Reed's House.
posted by Kattullus on May 10, 2012 - 84 comments

Mega Man Tape

From 1990: A 12 year old, armed with an NES, video camera and VHS recorder, films a walk through on how to beat Mega Man. (SLYT)
posted by reenum on May 9, 2012 - 16 comments

Player of Games

Iain M. Banks talks about his favorite games.
posted by Artw on May 9, 2012 - 72 comments

1920s Gaming and the 1939 World's Fair

"A maverick theater and industrial designer, Norman Bel Geddes is best remembered for creating the undisputed hit of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Mounted in the midst of the Great Depression, the Fair focused on America’s promise of a utopian tomorrow. Geddes’s Futurama, a piece of “immersion theater,” took six hundred visitors at a time on a swooping, simulated airplane ride across America circa 1960." "The City of Tomorrow, a model of Manhattan that Geddes created, in 1937, to promote Shell Oil Company’s new “motor-digestible” gasoline, is often cited as [Futurama's inspiration.] But Futurama’s beginnings actually harken back much further, to the meticulous, insanely detailed private games he created in the 1920s and early ’30s for the amusement of his friends." [more inside]
posted by zamboni on May 6, 2012 - 15 comments

Your favorite dialog tree imperfectly matches the enviroment it allegedly pertains to

There’s no nice way to say this, but it needs to be said: video games, with very few exceptions, are dumb. And they’re not just dumb in the gleeful, winking way that a big Hollywood movie is dumb; they’re dumb in the puerile, excruciatingly serious way that a grown man in latex elf ears reciting an epic poem about Gandalf is dumb. Aside from a handful of truly smart games, tentpole titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Black Ops tend to be so silly and so poorly written that they make Michael Bay movies look like the Godfather series. Taylor Clark's Atlantic profile of Braid creator Jonathan Blow has prompted some strong reactions. Are videogames dumb? Is hard to make them not dumb? Are most things dumb anyway?
posted by Artw on May 6, 2012 - 179 comments

Zerg Rush

Zerg Rush (more)
posted by Artw on Apr 27, 2012 - 46 comments

Embrace the colour clash!

The ZX Spectrum's chief designers reunited 30 years on, discussing what became 80s Britain's most popular home computer and gaming platform, despite stiff competition from the technically superior Commodore 64.
posted by Artw on Apr 23, 2012 - 59 comments

Of course, really, EVERYONE loves Alec Guinness

Some people are gay in space. Get over it.
posted by Artw on Apr 22, 2012 - 89 comments

Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts PWND

"SPARX is an effective resource for adolescents with depressive symptoms. It is at least as good as treatment as usual, would be cheaper and easier to disseminate, and could be used to increase access to therapy. It could provide access to treatment for young people who may be reluctant to have more conventional therapy."

It's a video game that teaches cognitive behavior theraputic techniques.
posted by MrVisible on Apr 20, 2012 - 17 comments

Chat with the minds behind the Death Machines

Wasteland 2 has become a certainty due to the massive outpouring of fan support. At this moment on Reddit, two of the big names in the project - Brian Fargo and Chris Avellone - are having a live QA session about the upcoming project, as well as the state of the game publishing industry in the Kickstarter era and similar subjects.
posted by FatherDagon on Apr 13, 2012 - 22 comments

Megaman as Malware

Any critical analysis of MegaMan might just conclude that MegaMan was malware.
posted by barnacles on Apr 8, 2012 - 29 comments

MapsTD = Tower Defense + Google Maps

Mix tower defense games and Google Maps and you get MapsTD.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Apr 1, 2012 - 30 comments

Paper Ligers

Fantasy Paper Minatures does exactly what it says on the tin. [more inside]
posted by absalom on Mar 30, 2012 - 11 comments

End Game

British high-street games retailer Game - who also own their once-rival chain, Gamestation - files for administration. After a tense few months involving supply chain issues and cutting prices to stay afloat, the options for purchasing physical games are dwindling, leaving the also-beleagured HMV, the music chain hoping to stay afloat by concentrating on gaming, and the all-powerful supermarkets.
posted by mippy on Mar 21, 2012 - 25 comments

A story about the art of aging.

The Chase Another day out on the town for the girls (Animated Short)
posted by manny_calavera on Mar 17, 2012 - 9 comments

Science isn't about why - it's about why not

No GLaDOS. No Chell. No portals. Set in the 1980s. Competitive multiplayer. Multiple endings. The Portal 2 That Could Have Been.
posted by Artw on Mar 9, 2012 - 44 comments

Your Kinect Is Watching You

The amazing, disturbing things your gaming console can learn about you. Consider the Kinect, the Microsoft console that sold 8 million units in its first 60 days of release. This inexpensive, book-sized panel has the ability to create a realistic, virtual likeness of the player. In doing so, it creates a delightful interface to play games—instead of hitting a button to kick a ball, you kick your foot and the digital character on screen mimics your movements. How does the Kinect produce this dazzling immersive experience? By capturing every move you make.
posted by Strass on Mar 7, 2012 - 43 comments

In 129 the Dwarves made war against the Ogre

How to Host a Dungeon is a solitaire pen-and-paper game in which you create an underground complex of rooms, populate them with various fantasy races and monsters, and simulate its history. At almost any time you can stop and have the basis for a D&D campaign. Here's a YouTube playthrough of a game: Part 1 - Part 2 [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Mar 4, 2012 - 53 comments

What value does humanity bring to galactic civilization?

Why Mass Effect is the most important science fiction universe of our generation (Contains SPOILERS for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2)
posted by BitterOldPunk on Feb 21, 2012 - 193 comments

Not changed: the Spread Gun is still ridiculous.

Super Mario Bros. Crossover 2.0 is out! An expansion on the original game, which let you play as various NES characters transplanted into Super Mario Bros., but using the rules and abilities of those characters from their original games, version 2 offers more special abilities, more characters, and your choice of audiovisual "skins" based on four Mario games from the NES, SNES, and Gameboy, along with one based on Demon Returns. There's even instructions for playing with a gamepad! For more information, see the Super Mario Bros. Crossover Wiki or watch the exciting Super Mario Bros. Crossover trailer! [Previously]
posted by Pope Guilty on Feb 12, 2012 - 15 comments

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