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

"Secret Hitler" board game adds Trump administration booster pack

Secret Hitler is a social deduction game that seems to be a variation on games like Werewolf and Mafia. The design, by artist Mackenzie Schubert, is beautiful.

The majority of players are liberals. If they can learn to trust each other, they have enough votes to control the table and win the game. But some players are fascists. They will say whatever it takes to get elected, enact their agenda, and blame others for the fallout. The liberals must work together to discover the truth before the fascists install their cold-blooded leader and win the game.

They just introduced new cards "featuring Donald Trump and prominent members of his administration," also drawn by Schubert.

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Invent privacy & security adventures with Cryptomancer & Mozilla

Brett Gaylor writes, "As part of the Mozilla Privacy Arcade project in this year’s Global Sprint, Mozilla is inviting activists, artists, designers, educators, gamers, storytellers, and technologists of all backgrounds to invent new privacy-themed adventures for the role playing game Cryptomancer." Read the rest

Tabletop Audio: ambient loops for your RPGs

"Role-players, boardgamers, writers, coders, artists, graphic designers, teachers, house-cleaners, lucid dreamers, gym-rats, distance runners, commuters" can enjoy over 100 ambient atmospheric loops with names like "Orbital Promenade," "Lunar Outpost," "Testing Chamber" and so on. Read the rest

Put on Your Corbyn Face: a game you win by displaying empathy

Games for the Many sends us Put on Your Corbyn Face, "A web game where you are challenged to match the emotions of a photo Jeremy Corbyn. Possibly the first web game you play with empathy and emotion." Read the rest

Arc Symphony is a Playstation game that never existed. Or did it?

Arc Symphony is a text-only game about being a fan of an elaborate Japanese Playstation RPG in the 1990s. Designed to evoke an old-timey USENET group and the ancient DOS PC used to connect to it, it's a perfect and mysterious capturing of a long-gone moment. To promote it, the creators commissioned designed jewel cases, complete with glossy booklet (no disk, of course), in perfect imitiation of a PSX game that never existed.

At shows, people spot the clever mockup and say, hey, I remember that game.

People tell them they remember playing it.

People insist they remember. There are fansites.

Arc Symphony works because of Park and Evan’s marketing of it—it becomes easier to pretend to be a fan of the game when they’ve managed to slip a little nostalgia for it into your drink. Both Park and Evans were very surprised by the success of their campaign, and how quickly it got away from them.

“It’s actually really unsettling when it stops just being indie game devs having fun with each other,” Park said, “and starts being, well, rewriting cultural memory…”

Previously: Nomen Ludi, the game you can't quite remember. Read the rest

Forthcoming game evokes style of legendary artist Moebius

Shedworks is making a video game and I don't care what it's about or whether it's "good" because it looks like Jean "Moebius" Giraud drew every frame of the teaser animations, and I am sold. Emerging from a shed in North London, the unnamed project is by Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg.

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New games for old consoles

Homebrew has long been a highlight of the game-development scene, but publishing new carts for old consoles is going mainstream. The Verge's Andrew Webster writes that several such titles are soon to be released, mostly for classic Nintendo boxes.

For some, it’s a hobby, a fun way to experiment with programming and design techniques. For others, it’s a way to pay homage to game experiences that have long gone out of fashion. Sometimes it’s a little of both. In 2010 Xbox co-founder Ed Fries created a stripped-down version of Halo designed for the Atari 2600, while Paul Koller has made a name porting modern indie games to the Commodore 64. Most of these games are released for free, and playable through an emulator on a PC.

For Long, the decision to not only create a retro homebrew game, but release it on a cartridge, was made because he wanted to embrace the limitations of a device like the NES. “The goal was to craft a tightly controlled experience,” he explains. While Star Versus is a decidedly 8-bit game, as a competitive shooter it also pulls from modern game design techniques. Long was also interested in restricting himself to the NES controller, something that wouldn’t be possible if people played the game through a PC emulator. “There were obvious downsides to only being on cartridge, such as limited exposure and difficulty in demoing,” he says. “But I’m happy with the choice I made, at least for this game.”

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Excellent vintage portable TV turned into retro gaming system

FinnAndersen spotted this wonderful vintage portable TV in a dumpster. He gutted most of it and outfitted the shell with a new screen and Raspberry Pi 3 to run RetroPie. Demo video below.

"It can emulate everything up to and including N64/PS1/Dreamcast, with a built-in wireless XBOX controller receiver for multiplayer parties!, he writes. "It also has a digital tuner inside to watch actual television, using the original knob for channel switching."

I'd love to do this to a JVC Videosphere!

"I turned an old portable TV into a dedicated retro gaming system!" (Imgur)

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Tempest, a brutal island-survival roguelite

Tempest is a Pico-8 browser game by impbox that dumps you on an uninhabited island. Not a nice desert island, no, but an unpleasant one much closer to the arctic circle. Gather wood, fruit and fresh water (use the Z key) and see if you can make shelter before the cold night sets in and kills you. Key tip: you have to manually drink and eat, by opening menus with the X key and hitting the relevant options. Read the rest

Make crazy 3D houses with Brick Block

Oskar Stalberg (previously) made Brick Block, a fun online 3D toy that lets you design surreal blocky houses. You can spin the scene to any degree and have it generate random houses. It's like the level editor for a Victorian-themed version of the classic cyberpunk game Syndicate.

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Chess with wireless, glowing nixie tubes

Lasermad's Nixie Chessboards take 8-10 weeks to hand build, during which time each of the chess pieces is painstakingly built around a vintage nixie tube scavenged from the world's dwindling supply, and the board is prepared with the wireless induction coils that power the pieces when they're set on the board, lighting them up. (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

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