Space enthusiast, astrophysicist, programmer, and retired club DJ, Scott Manley, a Scotsman living in San Francisco, is one of a great number of "Let's Play" youtube video creators. Among the players of Kerbal Space Program, however, he's somewhere between rockstar and deity. Now, he is on the cusp of a new level of achievement: Faster Than Light. [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]
Expanded from a demo produced for the 2012 Something Awful Gamedev Challenge (an annual event which has also brought us Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing, previously), Team Punch the Moon (which includes the creator of Job Dog, previously) have finally finished Pachinko Man, a point-and-click HTML5 browser adventure game about a Japanese salaryman whose addiction to pachinko machines drives him to make a deal with a demon that damns him to Ball Hell (conveniently also Baal's Hell), the deepest level of Office Hell (as in, Baal is renting its basement). [more inside]
Classics Of Game, a series of short-and-surreal context-free game videos, has mysteriously resumed updating after seventeen months. (MLYT)
Writing for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Alice O'Connor shares her favorite excerpts from her collection of the readme files included in game mods.
Want a new timesink but clicker games are not your thing? Let Rock, Paper, Shotgun introduce you to Compact Conflict, a Riskesque strategy game programmed in only 13 kilobytes.
Nethack's Dev Team have confirmed that code circulating under various next-version numbers (3.4.4, 3.5, 3.5.0) was a leaked development build. [more inside]
Why does this species—a species composed of rock—have sexual dimorphism even more stark than mountain gorillas? What purpose does this serve? Come to think of it—why do the women have plant hair? It appears to be growing out of their skulls—so it must be parasitic. But this is a sentient species in a futuristic setting, meaning that if it were a non-beneficial parasite, they’d have removed them. So are Granok-plants an example of resource-resource mutualistic symbiosis? Wouldn’t the males then also cultivate plant-hair? Why is it gender-segregated?Bryce Mainville is unimpressed by the character design in the new sci-fi MMO Wildstar. Bonus: Cassandra Khaw's difficulties with creating ugly female characters in Wildstar.
Indie gaming started out as games written with passion for people who embraced and loved them. Now too much of it is about churning out giant mounds of decent but undifferentiated product to be bought for pennies by people who don't give a crap either way.Veteran indie game developer Jeff Vogel says the indie game bubble is popping.
It's not sustainable.
Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology. The fourth book from the digitalculturebooks imprint of the University of Michigan Press, Pastplay includes a wide range of essays, all available online for free. T. Mills Kelly reflects on his historical methods course which resulted in a historical hoax, “the last American pirate,” declared one of the 10 biggest hoaxes in Wikipedia’s first ten years. Matthew Kirschenbaum discusses if board games work better than computer games for teaching history. The book's chapters cover successful combinations of play, technology, and history. Yet, many are wary, as a "playful approach to teaching and learning with technology can seem like the worst of all possible worlds: the coupling of strategies developed for entertainment with tools created for commerce." [more inside]
"Naturally, the record for the largest and most costly single engagement in EVE history was expected to stand for some time. It didn’t."
"Noclip" is a fake trailer, for a movie that, for now, is not going to be made, about the incredible power of its characters to defy the physics of the world they live in, almost as if they were cheating a videogame.
What happens when we stop thinking about videogames as cinema and instead think of them through other media, like fashion, dance, or architecture?
Fans and critics alike held their breath in anticipation of the tidal wave of exploratory, open-ended gaming that was supposed to follow, waiting to be drowned in a sea of new worlds. And then, nothing. The legacy of Myst, 20 years later [more inside]
Crusader Kings II is a computer game in which you play as any one of hundreds of feudal lords in Europe in the High to Late Middle Ages. Hoping for your family to become just that little bit more powerful, you scheme against your liege, your vassals, and occasionally even your enemies. Meanwhile, at least half of the game's cast of thousands schemes against you. The game's potential for Shakespearean intrigue has made it ripe for post-game write-ups called after-action reports. With the recent release of The Old Gods, an expansion allowing for play as a pagan ruler, PC Gamer published its own series of after-action reports: Lords of the North. The game's thematic similarities to A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones have not gone unnoticed, either. [more inside]
"The Verse flows throughout Aquaria, through each ripple and wave, through every living being. The Verse binds us, narrator and explorer: my story will become your own, and yours will become mine. You will live my life through my eyes, and you will learn the truth… In time, I would discover far more than I'd wish to learn." [more inside]
Memory Insufficient is a free webzine edited by Zoya Street dedicated to articles about computer games and history. The first issue is called Women's Histories in Games [pdf], with a feature on female pirates. Asian Histories in Games [pdf] is the second issue, the feature being about ken, the Japanese game known as rock, paper, scissors in English. The upcoming issue will be devoted histories of gender and sexual diversity in games. [via Flash of Steel]
Davis and Ma wrote up a long list of one-paragraph game pitches to prototype. They would be small, manageable games that two people could complete on their own. The game they chose to go with would have to be finished within a year, because that was all they had budgeted for. Among the pitches inspired by board games, roguelikes and all the genres that excited them was a 2D, top-down management game called FTL. The Opposite of Fail - The making of FTL (Previously)
NEW from VIDEO Magazine, arising out of its popular "Arcade Alley" column, it's ELECTRONIC GAMES Magazine!(page of PDF links) Brought to you by editors Frank Laney Jr. and Bill Kunkel, and filled with all the latest news on programmable home console games, computer games (with special coverage for the new ATARI 800 system), stand-alone electronic devices and arcade gaming. [more inside]
"For the past few years, I have been trying to learn how to do all the various creative and technical things that go into making a video game - programming, graphics, interface, writing, gameplay design - in addition to music and sound, which I do for a living. The 2013 Global Game Jam was this past weekend, and over two sleep-deprived days I completed my first solo project: A game for OS X and Windows where you punch spaceships with your dick. (Probably safe for work, unless your boss considers it inappropriate to see a pink laser beam with a boxing glove on the tip which shoots out of a giant robot's groin.)"[via mefi projects]
An Unknown Alien Being acquires a child's forgotten book and mistakenly believes that it depicts proper protocol for interaction with the human world.
The book is a collection of Peanuts comics.
The book is a collection of Peanuts comics.
Woodsnoopy 45 stares into your open heart. Her yellow head squirms and pukes up feathers.MASTABA SNOOPY
It makes you uncomfortable when she looks at you. She makes a demand.
Her demands come often and always create uncomfortably simultaneous feelings of resentment and obedience.
That is the territory of the Lucy faction. They are the ones who gather nickels. Woodsnoopy 45 is overstepping her boundaries.
Being a mere Woodsnoopy 799, however, you can do naught but obey."
Both characters remained fully clothed and there were no genital shots. But this was still the most explicit sexual content Wildenborg had seen in a video game. “It was at this point I decided to release the patch to the public,” he says. “I tossed the name 'Hot Coffee' on the file, based on the fact that the girlfriends would ask CJ in for some 'coffee' as a euphemism for sex. Hot Coffee was the first modification for San Andreas.” - The history of Grand Theft Auto's infamous "Hot Coffee" mod.
Gaming made me - RPS writer Patricia Hernandez on how Fallout 2 shaped her world view, her politics and her sexuality.
A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game prototype, built by the MIT Game Lab, that emulates the visual effects of special relativity.
"Some remarkable Books, Antiquities, Pictures and Rarities of several kinds, scarce or never seen by any man now living."
Musæum Clausum is a catalog of invented books, pictures and antiquities written by 17th Century Englishman Sir Thomas Browne. It is a fantastical and witty meditation on the ravages of time on literature and other works of man. The Musæum Clausum is perhaps the finest example of the invented, or invisible, library, a genre which seems to have originated with Rabelais. The genre has been of special interest to Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog (older posts), where he has written about the invisible libraries of writers such as Charles Dickens, Neil Gaiman, H. P. Lovecraft and invisible libraries in video games. The natural medium for invisible libraries might be pictures, and Musæum Clausum inspired a suite of etchings by Erik Desmazieres.
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 ).
The Most Dangerous Gamer The Atlantic profiles game developer Jon Blow, most famous for creating the acclaimed and philosophical Braid, now working on "puzzle-exploration" game The Witness. Blow aims to make The Witness a groundbreaking piece of interactive art—a sort of Citizen Kane of video games...“Things are pared down to the basic acts of movement and observation until those senses become refined,” he told me. “The further you go into the game, the more it’s not even about the thinking mind anymore—it becomes about the intuitive mind.” (previously, previously)
Humanity’s long war with the nefarious space-cat Kilrathi has been revived in the fan made Wing Commander Saga : The Darkest Dawn! [more inside]
I remember with crystal clarity when I realized I was making more money from this enterprise than I was at my full-time job. I quickly decided to expand and hired four guys in Singapore to play 24/7. I paid them unreasonably well for the time, almost 3x as much as they would for other re-sellers; this bought me loyalty, and in this enterprise, loyalty is everything."How I Helped Destroy Star Wars Galaxies [more inside]
"The subscription model is dead." says John Smedley, head of Sony Online Entertainment, and creator of EverQuest. Are people willing to pay $15 per month to play a computer game that isn't endorsed by Mr. T? Bioware is betting a rumored $135 million, the most ever spent on a video game, that the answer is yes. Star Wars: The Old Republic launches on December 20th. [more inside]
This year the Games Media Awards in the UK were sponsored by a little know chain of shops from the North East, Grainger Games, looking to increase their profile... well following the last night's events they are pretty well-known now. Cue a next-day banning and apologies from Grainger and the organisers
National Characters is a long, multi-part essay about how computer games deal with the concept of nations and turns it into a game mechanic. The author, Troy Goodfellow of strategy gaming blog Flash of Steel, focuses on how the fourteen indistinguishable national factions of the original Sid Meier's Civilization have been treated by different games through the years. [more inside]
Recent research on children. (1) Brothers and sisters who argue a lot can improve their language, social skills and outcomes: Guardian article; paper on part of the research (pdf). (2) First findings from Understanding Society. Conclusions include: the unhappiness of children’s mothers with their partners affect children’s happiness, but this is not the case if children’s fathers are unhappy in their relationships; having older brothers or sisters doesn’t appear to affect children’s happiness, but having younger brothers or sisters is associated with less happiness; not living with both natural parents has a greater negative impact on a young person’s life satisfaction than their material situation. (3) A longitudinal study on people now in their forties has found that for these people reading is linked to career success, though not necessarily to better pay, whilst playing computer games and doing no other activities was associated with less likelihood of going to university. In particular, those who owned a ZX Spectrum or Commodore C64 were less likely to go to university. thinq interview with researcher. Guardian article. Telegraph article. (4) Poll about children’s attitudes to losing in sport. Press release. Data from children’s survey. Data from parents’ survey. (All three are PDFs.)
Computer game, "Hearts of Iron III", lets you replay history from 1936 to the Cold War. Apparently, WW2 was more complicated than the movies suggest. Via The browser
Videogames reach the uncanny valley with the facial animations (yt video) in Rockstar's L.A. Noir, their 1940s Los Angeles set detective game.
This week the BBC broadcast a Panorama special (UK only link, YouTube links here and here) on what it presented as the alarming rise of game addiction. Thoughtful responses from Rock, Paper, Shotgun and EDGE, both of whom point out a number of problems with it.
People make maps in Team Fortress 2 specifically for grinding achievements. Bleak, joyless rooms of endlessly spawning bots and resupply crates, where people don’t play the game, they game it. But in one of these, achievement_all_v4, the author’s added a surprise. A violent, horrific, hilarious surprise of biblical proportions.
On a snowy Valentine's Day weekend in Michigan Sid Meier creates a game in 48 hours called Escape from Zombie Hotel! He's there to judge a 48 hour game design contest at his alma mater, University of Michigan but decides to also work on a game alongside the student teams. He also talks about his career, focusing on his early days. This is the third installment of motherboard.tv's Oral History of Gaming series. The first profiles Ralph Baer, the inventor of the first home gaming console, and the second is about Eric Zimmerman, designer of Sissyfight. Sadly, the awesome-looking Escape from Zombie Hotel has note been released, but the oher games designed during the contest are available here. [via Rock Paper Shotgun]
Dan The Man... if computer games were more like real life. (SLYT)
After years of meticulous research of historic documents, mapping, modeling, texturing, and trying to convince a video game released in 1998 to do something it was never intended to be capable of, the 72 kilometer, 567-turn Piccolo circuito delle Madonie was released as a community add-on track for Grand Prix Legends last September. The track was home of the Targa Florio from 1932 to 1936 and 1951 to 1977, and is made up of curving, winding mountain roads in the Sicilian countryside, and is beautifully recreated in the game. Best of all, it's absolutely free.
Editor Marty Halpern looks back at the career of George Alec Effinger (part 1, part 2, part 3), a prolific author best known for his work set in the Budayeen, a walled city in a future Islamic state, teeming with gangsters, hustlers and transsexual prostitutes, many of them habitual users of plug in personality modules. The noirish tone and exotic technology of the Marîd Audran books (When Gravity Fails, A Fire In The Sun, The Exile Kiss) made Effinger one of the leading lights in the cyberpunk movie, and spawned a videogame - a rare attempt at a graphical adventure from Infocom - and an RPG setting. Sadly Effinger faded from prominence after that, and he suffered from a number of health and financial setbacks before passing away in 2002. His work has had somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late, with the Marîd Audran books coming back into print in 2007, a long with a collection containing The Wolves of Memory, Effinger's personal favourite amongst his novels.
Chris Crawford (previously) has released the beta version of his Storytron engine. The first demo? Balance of Power: 21st Century. [more inside]
"Since I attacked my opponent in the past and the time waves have not yet propagated the results of this battle to the present, my units are still here in the present" Got that? Meta-Time Strategy Gaming [more inside]
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