Watch a quarter million dominoes fall in this delightful game-themed setup

Steve Price and Lily Hevesh set up a massive domino course that includes homages to classic board and video games, and some sections even use game pieces as part of the action. Read the rest

Nintendo Switch is in Amazon store

It probably won't last long, but the Nintendo Switch with gray Joy-Con is in the Amazon store right now for $299. We got one a few weeks ago and haven't touched our Wii-U since. Read the rest

Run a pixel art sword shop

Ben Stewart's Sword Shop is a minimalist buy-and-sell game. Every day, people come into your sword shop wanting to sell your their old gear. And, hopefully, more will come it to buy it.

Everyday you will be offered swords at different conditions and rarities, your goal is to make a profit. This is accomplished by buying swords for low prices and selling them at higher ones. Every sword you buy has a certain chance to sell at night, and if it does, you will see if you have made a profit.

You can plow profits into upgrading the store, or buying fancier swords. It's like running a pawn store, but with gorgeous pixel art stabbers.

It's fun figuring out the basic value ranges for each kind of sword and the materials, and I love its aesthetic and how it puts the exclusive focus on one tiny yet key mechanism of computer role-playing games (cf. my own Character creation is the whole game). However, the mechanism selected is the loot grind.

You quickly realize that you're on that particular treadmill and that the treadmill is randomness within a range: if there is any narrative support for the grind, or interesting "handmade" loot to cherish, I didn't get there before hopping off. Go play it and tell me if I missed something cool. Read the rest

Chimpanzees learn to play rock-paper-scissors

Chimpanzees at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute have learned to play the game rock-paper-scissors. From Phys.org:

(Seven chimpanzees) sat in a booth housing a computer-based touchscreen and were trained to choose the stronger of two options (based on the rules of the game) they saw on screen. They first learnt the paper-rock sequence, then the rock-scissors one and finally the scissors-paper combination. Once they knew how the pairs fitted together, all the different pairs were randomly presented to them on screen. Five of the seven chimpanzees completed the training after an average of 307 sessions.

The findings show that chimpanzees can learn the circular pattern at the heart of the game. However, it took them significantly longer to learn the third scissors-paper pair than it did to grasp the others, which indicates that they had difficulty finalizing the circular nature of the pattern.

"This suggests that children acquire the ability to learn a circular relationship and to solve a transverse patterning problem around the age of four years," says lead researcher Jie Gao. "The chimpanzees' performance during the mixed-pair sessions was similar to that of four-year-old children."

"Learning the rules of the rock–paper–scissors game: chimpanzees versus children" (Primates) Read the rest

You are Henry David Thoreau in the Walden simulator video game

After years of buzz, the USC Game Innovation Lab finally released Walden: The Game earlier this month, allowing players to immerse themselves in a six-hour experience in which they play Henry David Thoreau on his gripping quest for solitude and mental clarity. Read the rest

Game announcement booed

Valve, publisher of legendary game series such as Half-Life, Portal and Team Fortress, announced a new game at The International, a convention for players of DOTA, one of its big hits. The hyped-up crowd's reaction to finding out that Artifact is to be a "DOTA card game" is quite something.

It seems like a perfect conceptual faceplant, where two popular things are combined to form something comically unappealing. But is there an ironic angle? The völkisch consumerism of gamers got out of hand years ago, so it seems unlikely to be a joke at their expense. In any case, one hopes players have to pay for every single card: a good innovation would be a micro-transaction for every time a card is deployed. Read the rest

Escaping prison with D&D

"Escaping Prison with Dungeons & Dragons" is a moving, 10-minute documentary about prisoners who used tabletop role-playing games to survive their incarceration. Read the rest

Weird, spot-on parodies of broken-robot videogame AI

To those unfamiliar with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, it suffices to say that it's the blandest and goofiest of a game series otherwise famed for overcoming the creative limitations of its whitebread genre fantasy setting. So to those unfamiliar with Oblivion, these startlingly accurate parodies of its AI behavior may be bafflingly dorky and esoteric. But to those of us that remember, it's uncanny, right down to the well-nailed impersonations of journeyman voice actors.

NPC eats poisoned fruit:

NPC sitting in a chair in a corridor staring at the wall:

Read the rest

Strange Beasts:short, inspiring/disturbing science fiction movie about augmented reality toys

Magali Barbé's short film Strange Beasts depicts a futuristic augmented reality product for kids and parents -- a piece of design fiction with a serious sting it its tail. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

It Is As If You Were Doing Work is a browser game celebrating Windows 3-era cubicle drudgery

Pippin Barr (previously) created a game that presents itself as a Windows 3-ish desktop from about 25 years ago. Mash away at each task in It Is As If You Were Doing Work until you win promotions and break time, wherein Breakout may be played.

“I positioned It is as if you were doing work in the context of the apparently near future of automated work (I read Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford recently in this vein). Thus the game poses as an application that humans who have been put out of work by robots and AI can play as a way to recapture the sense they once had of doing work and being productive. It’s a kind of semi-condescending service offered by this new world to those of us who can’t deal with it.”

Via Alice O'Connor, who points out the uncanny similarities to the pointless make-work foisted on the white-collar unemployed in Europe, training for jobs that will soon be extinct. Read the rest

Monster Scouts: go camping with an imaginary cryptid scout troop from the 1910s!

The Monster Scouts are a wonderful thing: monster-obsessed makers who have created a collaborative, detailed, LARP-ish world in which monsters are real and an imaginary scouting organization called the Crow Scouts, founded in 1907, has operated for more than a century to help our monster friends. Read the rest

The forgotten cyberspace of the Neuromancer computer game

William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer is far from forgotten; the times seem almost uncannily like an interregnum between the world he wrote in and the world he wrote. But the 1988 video game adaptation is another matter. [via]

Mark Hill:

The game’s developers were challenged with portraying this futuristic nonspace while still creating an accessible and interesting game, and all with computers that were barely a step up from a calculator and a potent imagination. The end result is surreal, abstract, and lonely. It’s a virtual world that’s simultaneously leagues beyond our internet, yet stunted and impractical, a world where you can bank online before doing battle with an artificial intelligence yet won’t let you run a simple search query and forces you to “physically” move between one virtual location and the next. It’s cyberspace as envisioned by a world that didn’t yet have the computing power to experience it for real, a virtual 2058 that would look archaic before the turn of the millennium.

Hill gets it, especially how the game seeks to understand cyberspace as a city. But I think he's wrong in suggesting that contemporary hardware limitations ("a step up from a calculator") were the game's undoing. If anything, I feel that the cusp of the 16-bit era was perfect for implementing Neuromancer as a solipsistic, non-networked adventure game. Indeed, much of the history of the 16-bit era can be read as increasingly successful efforts to implement the vision of Neuromancer as a narrative experience rather than a labyrinthine multidimensional bulletin board. Read the rest

Wikipedia as a Zork-style text-adventure

Kevan Davis's Wikitext is an incredibly clever mashup of Wikipedia and Infocom-style text adventure games: starting with a random Wikipedia entry, it gives you the article summary, an 8-bit-ified version of the main photo, and "directions" to the articles referenced by the one you've landed on. (via Waxy) Read the rest

Mortal Kombat promo reel shows off old-school rotoscoping tech

This short promo piece for 1992 arcade game Mortal Kombat introduces the actors and the techniques used to digitize their moves, a precursor to contemporary performance-capture technology. MK, though always second-fiddle to Street Fighter in the gameplay stakes, was a splendid parody of the stock characters and scenarios from 70s and 80s martial arts movies. (via @UnburntWitch) Read the rest

Photos that look like the Monument Valley game in real life

The mobile game Monument Valley is known for its clean and pleasing aesthetic. Jeanette Hägglund captures that timeless beauty in her photo series S e c r e t s. Read the rest

There was a translucent pink Hello Kitty Dreamcast and it can still be yours

I spotted FEMICOM Museum tweeting about a true rarity, the translucent Hello Kitty edition Sega Dreamcast, and immediately headed to eBay to see what the situation was. It's expensive -- you're looking at at least $250 shipped, five times the going price of a normal Dreamcast -- but that's a fair price for the ultimate in translucent Hello Kitty video game consoles, many replete with matching controllers, keyboards and other peripherals. It also comes in blue. Read the rest

Yep, the SNES Classic is real and it is coming in September

When Nintendo suddenly canceled the NES Classic, the surprise hit toy of last Christmas, the roar of anguish and outrage matched any the Internet had seen. Insane! Idiocy! There was only one smart take on the matter: the company must have a SNES Classic up its sleeve, playing even more and better classic games. And that was of course the case, as that exact product was today officially announced.

The SNES Classic will hit store shelves in September, Nintendo says, and include 21 games—including the unreleased and legendary Star Fox 2. In Nintendo tradition, it will be sold out in about four minutes and then be available only on eBay from dodgy importers for many times the normal price.

Here's the game list:

What, no Pilotwings? Outrageous! Read the rest

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