The Man Who Made A Million Empires by Colin Campbell [Polygon]
Not many creators have the brazen audacity to slap their name in the actual titles of the things they create. John Lennon didn't call his 1971 album, "John Lennon's Imagine." Mrs. Dalloway isn't called "Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway." James Cameron has so far managed to keep his name out of all his movie titles. But a lot of Sid Meier's games flash the words "Sid Meier" right there in the title. Most famously: the Sid Meier's Civilization series, which has sold more than 33 million units over the past 25 years. The most recent is 2010's Sid Meier's Civilization V. It's one of the greatest strategy games ever made.
You might know that mefites are making levels in Super Mario Maker. But in a shocking twist, so are game developers! Every Wednesday for the past ten weeks, Polygon has been recording a different designer putting together, commenting on, and playing through an all-new level in their video series “Devs Make Mario”. (YouTube playlist) List of episodes within. [more inside]
Mathematicians discover a new type of pentagon that can cover the plane leaving no gaps and with no overlaps. It becomes only the 15th type of pentagon known that can do this, and the first discovered in 30 years. [more inside]
Sure, G.A.R.F.I.E.L.D. was funny. And who doesn't love "The Pebble"? But with the latest installment in the Monster Factory series, pushing character creation in videogames farther than ever intended, have Justin and Griffin McElroy gone too far? Behold: Truck Shepard, human(?) Spectre, nightmare fuel. [more inside]
"Big Indie" Kickstarters Are Killing Actual Indies. "The notion that 'consumers don't actually understand the real cost of game development' isn't a new one, but the true price tag is actually kind of scary, and the illusions put up by large Kickstarters are having a measurable negative effect on Kickstarter as a whole."
Anyone else could have saved her: Life is Strange gave my personal tragedy a score
What I do want to suggest, however, is that far more than any other form of media, creators of video games need to be aware that this medium not only increases engagement but also increases the emotional burden on affected players in a unique way. I have watched films and read comics in the past that dealt with themes of unprevented suicide and, while difficult for me to get through, passive forms of media have never left me this distraught. By giving me control of the situation in Life is Strange, developer Dontnod Entertainment suddenly forced me to inspect my own agency in my life. That has an emotional price attached. This is the power and beauty of games; what feels like an echo of pain in other art forms feels like a punch in the gut when the same topic is explored in a well-made game. (emphasis added)[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.
Bennett Foddy (of QWOP fame) explains why some multiplayer games aren't cut out for online multiplayer.
Despite a customer base that crosses many demographics, a large part of the video game industry has remained resolutely focused on appealing and marketing to male players in the 18-24 age group. It wasn't always this way. Although early coin-op and console game development was male-dominated, titles in the 1970s were either marketed for entire families or for adults in bars and later arcades. What changed? Polygon investigates.
"Reality has caught us" Ubisoft game Watch Dogs, scheduled for release next year, models pervasive surveillance as a game. Polygon's Charlie Hall investigates Chicago's vast camera network and finds the fiction might be not so far away from reality. [more inside]
Released today on Steam, Gone Home has garnered praise for its deeply affecting narrative, stripped-down design and a unique aesthetic steeped in 90's nostalgia and riot grrl culture. "When I played Gone Home I had the stunning realization that there could be a game for me. Someone can make a game for me." -Leigh Alexander. "It’s touching, unsettling, deeply honest, and enormously compassionate. -Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "Gone Home is an epic story, but its definition of epic is far removed from how we usually talk about scope and drama in games. It’s epic, personal and revelatory to the people involved, and that’s why it’s so special." -Giant Bomb. Polygon's 10/10 review. How Gone Home's design constraints lead to a powerful story. The Fullbright Company's Journey Home.
"Draw some random points on a piece of paper and join them up to make a random polygon. Find all the midpoints and connecting them up to give a new shape, and repeat. The resulting shape will get smaller and smaller, and will tend towards an ellipse!" [code to make this in Mathematica] [a version which allows you to watch the process step by step, with 10 vertices or 100]
Order from chaos! Fill a cylindrical bucket with water and make it so the bottom can spin. At certain speeds, stable regular polygonal shapes will spontaneously form at the turbulent surface of the water. See the video. [2.6MB avi] [via last week's PRL]