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

Old games as standalone apps: no emulator necessary

Games Nostalgia is a retrogame site with a useful difference: instead of simply providing files which then must be fed to the often-difficult gods of emulation, it packages the classics as ready-to-click apps for Mac and PC. Examples to eat your morning: seminal Atari/Amiga RPG Dungeon Master, DOS blaster Doom, and 1990's original RTS Dune II. Then there's Populous, Archon, Shadow of the Beast...

Previously: Vast collection of Amiga games, demos and software uploaded to Internet Archive Read the rest

Top Secret: New World Order: Merle M. Rasmussen reboots his 1980 RPG classic

The first time Merle Rasmussen played Dungeons & Dragons, he thought it was a Halloween game. “It was October 1975, and I was an 18-year-old freshman at Iowa State University. My roommate got this game filled with skeletons and undead monsters. I had no idea.” The role-playing bug had bitten him, but fantasy wasn’t his genre. So that same year, he started writing a game set in a modern world, the spy game that would become Top Secret.

The Lost Arcade: documentary about Manhattan's last arcade

The Lost Arcade, a documentary about the encroachment of gentrficiation upon the last real video arcade in Manhattan, is now available to watch online.

Directed by Kurt P. Vincent, the story is as much about the Chinatown Fair's community as the games, celebrating the final years of a pop culture phenomenon that moved into our homes so slowly we never realized what we were losing.

"I wanted to create a film that would capture the spirit that hit me the first time I walked through those doors," writes Vincent. "There was a melting pot of a community that congregated there, where all walks of life came together and shared one common interest: video games. It was a microcosm of what New York was all about. Not the overpriced New York we've come to accept, but what this city originally stood for and still does when you look deep enough."

The Lost Arcade sheds a behind-the-scenes light into the demise of arcade culture, as it coincided with the rise of home console and online gaming, and showcases the dichotomy of how gamers connected then vs. now. But more importantly, it highlights the diversity and camaraderie among the competitive gamer community that arcades like Chinatown Fair were so uniquely able to foster.

View links: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, VHX, Vimeo, and Vudu.

Previously: The Lost Arcade: doc about rebirth of legendary NYC arcade Read the rest

The FBI's Gary Gygax file calls the original Dungeon Master "eccentric and frightening"

Reason Magazine's C.J. Ciaramella filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for the Bureau's file on TSR, the company that E Gary Gygax founded when he created Dungeons and Dragons (now a division of Hasbro). Read the rest

Binky: a fully automated social network that doesn't require you to be sociable

Have you ever wished you had a social media feed you could like, fave, signal boost and comment on without having to actually interact with people in any way? Binky has you covered. Read the rest

Hot Cockles and other weird medieval party games

Claire Voon takes a fascinating look at engraver Joseph Strutt's illustrations of strange medieval party games, many of which involve beating the hell out of other guests. Read the rest

Monument Valley 2 has finally arrived

Monument Valley is one of the most beautiful and soothing mobile games I have ever played. At long last, the sequel is here! Read the rest

More posts