EFF's copyfighter's crossword


EFF's annual crossword puzzle is a roundup of news stories from the world of digital civil liberties from 2014. Can you get 'em all without googling?

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Outfit a game-designer's toolkit for < $20


Game designer Rick Marazzani did an under-$20 raid on his local dollar store and built himself an incredible game-designer's toolkit with everything he needs to create an infinite variety of games in just as many styles; his reasoning for each piece is an especially telling glimpse of the game-designer's mindset:

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Want to try making a video game? Visit the Sorting Hat

sortinghatIf you have ever read anything I've written about video games, you will have heard me insert notations about the democratization of tools. The business of making games used to necessitate access to bureaucratic, white-guys-only organizations and their social and professional lexicons. But now there are radical tools that anyone can use to make games about anything they want.

That's good in theory, but how do you know where to start? Developer Zoe Quinn has made a simple new online utility designed to help experimental developers and new creators alike see which tools are right for their vision. Sortingh.at makes recommendations depending on your aspirations and existing abilities, and also provides links to resources online you can use to learn how to use those tools.

Lowering traditional barriers to entry and de-mystifying aspects of game creation is a great way to welcome new creators to the table in a space that arguably needs some fresh voices and different perspectives.

Play thousands of 48-hour game jam entries

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The Ludum Dare international game jam is probably the largest event of its kind -- and the longest running, at over 12 years. Three times a year, game developers are challenged to build and share a new game within 48 hours, often documenting their process and making source code available. Each time, the community votes to agree on a theme.

This year's is 'Entire Game On One Screen.' Which sounds simple, like, 'okay, no iPad companion app,' but it's actually a real design challenge -- just think about how many games have menu screens, inventory screens, y'know, different levels, little things like that.

The submission phase is over, and anyone who wants to dive in can play and rate the 2,637 games, with 1,365 in actual competition (here's a cool entry browser if the website itself is overwhelming). It's fun to get involved, not only to learn more about the rapid prototyping process, but to see the seeds of game design's next wave of inspiration. The winner of the competition is always a creator to watch.

There's often a lot of brilliant weirdness -- like this 'hot n cold' maze game led by staring animals. Or this -- what is this? And there's something about this simple but beautifully-drawn dragon game that takes me back to the interactive net art domains I used to visit in the 90s.

Own original art from In Real Life!


Jen Wang, the artist and writer who co-created the New York Times bestselling graphic novel In Real Life with me, is selling off her original art from the book.

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Brain-destroyingly great game: Entire Screen of One Game


From @tom7, the Entire Screen of One Game game is a brilliant, unwinnable, instantly addicting, frustrating, recursive game that is something like the Eames's Powers of Ten and something like Snake, and not quite like anything I've ever played. (via Waxy)

A haunting war game about civilian survival

Polish developer 11bit Studios' recently-released This War of Mine, a bit of a different look at video games' favorite setting. Focused on hiding, building and survival, it puts the player in charge of a team of civilians.

The game was inspired by the 1,425 day-long Siege of Sarajevo, which began in 1992 during the Bosnian War. Last night I played with a friend, guiding an unlikely family of survivors through the dangerous work of scavenging food and supplies, and fortifying a shell of a home against invaders. You manage different civilians each time -- this time we had an athlete, a reporter and a chef in our care. Later, we were joined by a warm school principal who was scared to be alone. We had no kids to care for and couldn't afford the extra mouth, but we couldn't turn her away.

After two weeks of building rat traps and water filters and bargaining with other wanderers, scavenging in abandoned rubble -- imagine The Sims, but very, very dark, made moreso by the lifelike photographs of our characters -- we found a hotel overrun by armed madmen. It was a gripping reminder that combatants are hardly the only consideration in conflict.

The game is available on Steam.

Great polyhedral dice jewelry


Polish jeweler Mage Studio offers a wide variety of extraordinary accessories made from polyhedral dice, a gamer's accessory that has become very ornamental in nature, perfectly complementing pieces like: the dragon/D20 necklace, the D12 cufflinks, and this pendant D20 necklace.

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Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins play Crisco Twister

"In which Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic strips down to briefs and gets a full body Crisco massage from Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl, before playing slippery Twister with Smashing Pumpkins." (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)

Great treatment of trans characters in Dragon Age Inquisition

The newly released Dragon Age Inquisition has just about the best handling of transgender issues of any mainstream video-game title, handled with grace through character creation, cut-scenes, and play:

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For sale: every 8-bit Nintendo game


Shane writes, "@n8duke is selling his complete collection of every 8-bit Nintendo game (and some other NES things) for $25k.

CPU Wars 2.0: expanded top trumps with processors


Harry writes, "Ever since launching CPU WARS Volume 1.0 people had been asking me for more CPUs and gameplay. After a lot of work and research we have finally done it! CPU WARS Volume 2.0 - The Battle of the Servers has now launched!

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Rebuilt Nintendo Power-Gloves as fashion accessories


Glove Power rebuilds old Nintendo Power Gloves as one-of-a-kind fashion accessories, lit with arrays of customized LEDs powered by a hidden battery-pack.

D20 rug


The Critical Hit D20 rug is 43"x38", with a non-skid backing, and ensures that your living spaces always make their saving throws.

Street Fighter ugly Christmas jumper


The realisation that knitting (and cross-stitch) is pixel-based has been dawning on the crafty gamer world for more than a decade, and I've enjoyed chronicling the rise of 8-bit nostalgia textiles. Case in point: the £40 Street Fighter Christmas Jumper.

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