Play This Thing reviews The Curfew, a game about civil liberties and teenagers that my wife, Alice Taylor commissioned for UK broadcaster Channel 4. The game, produced by Littleloud and written by Kieron Gillen, just won Best Educational Game at the Games for Change awards (it's a free-to-play Flash game, so you can judge for yourself -- or bring it into your classroom, or talk about it with your kids or friends).
Back in the early CD-ROM era, when the ability to do filmed video in a game was novel and the graphic adventure was still a commercially viable genre, there were a slew of mostly horrible games that tried to merge the adventure genre with filmed video. When I say "mostly horrible," imagine interminable, badly acted cut scenes with zero actual interaction, held apart by inventory puzzles in fairly crude graphics, or played out on photographs with a handful of lifeless interactions. Until playing The Curfew, I had come to the conclusion that merging video with the adventure game was an obviously bad idea, proven so by experience.
I have to say, however, that the combination works here, and works quite well. Part of the problem, back in the day, was the need to change what area of the disc was being read when a choice was made, so that there was always a perceptible lag whenever you made any choice that branched the video. Here, the clips are preloaded by the Flash framework, and the transitions are seamless. Also, the use of photography for the graphic adventure interactions themselves, coupled with small looped animations of characters drawn from video, makes the game feel alive even when you are not in the video itself. And finally, the developers have had the good taste and sense not to make the non-interactive sequences too lengthy or sententious.
This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it’s plugged into. It’s made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs. Note that this […]
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]
You don’t need to get an advanced degree and take out massive loans to become a coder. This bundle of 10 courses was designed to teach anyone to code at home for less than it costs to go out for dinner. I was particularly impressed with this new 2017 bundle because it includes courses on […]