Kickstarting a new edition of Cheapass Games's classic "Button Men"

Carol from Cheapass Games writes, "In our continuing quest to bring back the very best classic Cheapass Games, we're creating a new boxed set of Button Men, our strategy dice combat game. This time around, the characters will appear on cards, rather than pin-back buttons, but since they're all 1950s era gangsters, the 'button men' name still works! The new format lets us provide 48 characters - and 30 high-quality polyhedral dice - in one affordable package. We'll also make the old-style pin-back buttons available as game accessories. Button Men won two Origins awards back when it was originally published in 1999, and it's one of our favorites." Read the rest

Mozak: a game that crowdsources the detailed mapping of brain-cells

Mozak is a game where you score points for participating in the mass-scale, crowdsourced mapping of dendrites in scanned brains of humans, rodents, and other organisms. Read the rest

Super Mario 8-Bit Cupcake Arrangement Expectations vs. Reality

Nope. This Super Mario children's birthday party cupcake arrangement did not turn out as planned.

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Rumor: Nintendo planning SNES Mini

If you're wondering why Nintendo killed its always-sold-out NES Mini at the height of hype and demand, the answer looks like the obvious one: they're apparently readying a new version based on the more advanced SNES platform, allowing more and better games.

Nintendo will follow up its smash hit NES microconsole with a mini version of the SNES, sources close to the company have confirmed to Eurogamer.

The SNES mini (or, to continue Nintendo's official branding, likely the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System) is currently scheduled to launch in time for Christmas this year. Development of the device is already under way, our sources have indicated.

Nintendo's plans for SNES mini are also a major reason why last year's NES mini did not see a reprieve from discontinuation, Eurogamer understands, despite the latter's continued popularity and sell-out status.

Nostalgia aside, the plain truth is that the SNES was (and is) a much better system. Nintendo is just supernaturally clueless when it comes to managing expectations, is all. Read the rest

Why Sony PS4s get roach-infested so easily

It's not your imagination: Sony's Playstation 4 really is unusually vulnerable to cockroach infestation. The reasons why remind me of airline disasters: a combination of several individually-trivial mistakes that combine to form something awful. But the results are so gross Sony won't repair PS4s with roaches in them, writes Kotaku's Cecilia D'Anastasio, sending mystified owners into the arms of disgusted local repair shops.

Matt Zieminski, who works for console repair suite IFixit, told me that most of the time, the consoles aren’t sent in for roach cleaning—the users don’t know they’re infested. The PS4s just stop working and the owners don’t know why. Turns out, the PS4’s internal power supply fries roaches onto its components, which can stop the PS4 from turning on. When the bugs have made little homes in there, and have little roach kids, those roach kids and their feces can melt onto the hardware.

Zieminski knows a PS4 is infested because “Roaches leave traces,” he says. “Their poop color is distinct and has a certain smell to it. We kind of know right off the bat if there are poop stains on the vent of the fan—we assume it’s bug-loaded.”

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Watch razor-wielding racing drone play real-life Fruit Ninja

Perhaps it's a rather dangerous idea but it is still creative and entertaining.

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Review of new Pac-Man game also reviews the game review site it's posted on

It's not there anymore, obviously, but here's an archived copy of Ben McCurry's review of Pac-Man 256, into which is cunningly interpolated a review of Brash Games, the non-paying website it is posted on. [via Metafilter]

The idea of Pac-Man 256 is derived from what happens in the original Pac-Man when you clear 256 levels; on level 257, the game becomes a garbled mess that becomes unplayable. A good example of a garbled mess is Brash Games; this very website that strips authors of their writing credits when they leave the site, later attributing them to the sole owner and editor, Paul Ryan, making your work completely pointless, just as Pac-Man is completely pointless after level 256.

...

Namco Bandai haven’t changed too much of the winning formula, and why should they? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Everything that we grew to love in the original iterations is still present; the classic sound effects, the musical stings, and even ghosts. Speaking of ghosts, did you know that Brash Games deliberately ghosted themselves from Metacritic, GameRankings, and OpenCritic (marking themselves as “out of business on Meta and GR, which is an outrageous and egregious lie – it’s here right now) to avoid having any sort of public record of reviews available which would have attributed work to the proper authors? It’s true! In fact, when reviewers leave, work gets automatically attributed to “Brash Games”, which is solely operated by Paul Ryan, thus making it seem like he did all the work.

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Transparent refurbished Super Nintendo consoles

Rose-Colored gaming's producing a limited run of transparent Super Nintendo consoles, refurbished from cosmetically-damaged originals. The guts are painted and polished to be pretty behind the new acrylic enclosures. [via]

These SNES consoles have been treated to a 100% brand new, hand-built exterior, all while retaining complete original function. Each is assembled by hand with the care and attention to detail that you have come to expect from RCG. The housing consists of laser cut and etched acrylic components which have been drilled, bent, bonded, threaded, & assembled using all new anodized aluminum hardware. Many internal components have been slathered in various finishes then etched in order to accentuate items which were never meant to be seen. All hand-built, these units will only be available in VERY limited quantities upon release, with each being treated to a unique serial number.
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Tenzi is a great family dice game

My friend Kent Barnes recommended this simple, fast-moving dice game called Tenzi. I bought it and my wife, 11-year-old daughter, and I had fun playing it. The rules are simple - everyone starts out with 10 dice and the goal is to roll your dice as fast as you can until all of them show the same number. Every time you roll, you are allowed to set aside any dice that match your desired number. When all ten of the dice show the same number, you shout "Tenzi!," throw your hands in the air, and gloat while the other players gnash their teeth. The game rules included a couple of variations on the basic rule set, which we also played and liked.

A few days later Kent told me about a $10 deck of cards called 77 Ways to Play Tenzi. I ordered the deck and last night my wife, 11-year-old, 16-year-old daughter (who doesn't like games and joined us reluctantly), and I tested the deck out. Ninety minutes later we decided that this deck takes Tenzi to a new level. The deck adds variety, surprise, and humor to Tenzi. It makes Tenzi so much more fun that I think the company shouldn't sell the dice without the cards. My 16-year-old daughter was surprised that she had such a good time.

Each Tenzi card has a variation of the basic rules. The rules for the variants are simple enough that they can be described in one or two sentences. Read the rest

Seedship is an absorbing text game of stellar colonization

Seedship is a text-only game of interstellar exploration and settlement. You're the sentient AI of a generation ship containing 1000 humans fleeing a doomed Earth, and you must deal with threats in deep space and evaluate target worlds for suitability. There are always tradeoffs: a world with breathable air and charming wildlife may guarantee comfort, but without resources will end in a genteel return to the stone age. A barren world rich in minerals and alien ruins means advancing human technology and culture, but at the cost of being enslaved to whoever owns the water generation plants.

If the aim is to find the best world for mankind, the fun is found subjecting it to the most punishing hell planets the cosmos offers. When I came across this total nightmare, I knew we had found home:

Things didn't work out. Most colonists died and the rest descended to savagery.

I haven't found a perfect world, but the following one got me to 10,000 civilization points, which feels like the threshold for success:

Every compromise matters. Even with such a lush world, its ecological exhaustion (presumably thanks to whatever left the monumental ruins) resulted in a technological collapse described as "bronze-age cosmic enlightenment." If it were an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we would most certainly be wearing textured earth tones.

Each combination is worth exploring, to find what sort of environments get you to theocracies or into endless war with natives. When I spotted the following world, I immediately thought "cyberpunk corporate dystopia!" and was not disappointed by the results:

Created by SF writer John Ayliff (Twitter, Patreon), it's incredibly addictive, and a great example of Twine's potential for offbeat games where generative elements combine with handwritten storytelling. Read the rest

The Commodore 64's "secret colours"

Commodore's C64 had a famously decisive, if drab set of 16 colors to choose from, a note of artistic intent amid the unthinking mathematical extremities of other 8-bit color palettes. But did you know there were secret colors? Aaron Bell writes up a discovery that blew his mind many years ago and which, 26 years later, he's finally figured out.
If you swap two colours rapidly enough - say at 50 or 60 frames per second - you can fool the eye into seeing something that isn't there. On a machine with sixteen colours, just one or two extra can add a lot to a scene. Since today we all live in the future and you are reading a fully programmable document on a supercomputer, let's try it.

The sad part is that the trick doesn't work for most pairings due to the obvious strobing/flickering effect it generates. But now wily coders can add a whole host of new grays to their vivid Commodore palettes. ("The tartan for the clan McPuke" is definitely the best description of the C64 palette I've ever read. I doubt it'll be topped.)

I read somewhere this is more or less what's done on cheapo monitors to make you think you're getting 24-bit color.

Previously: How the hell did they get 1024 colors out of a 1981 PC? Read the rest

Zelda fan/maker controls smart home by playing ocarina

In celebration of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Allen Pan built a wonderful home automation system where the interface is an ocarina as seen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. (Thanks, Lux!)

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The Offworld Collection available to order

The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it's the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You get the ebook immediately upon purchase. Read the rest

Video edit mocks awful animation in Mass Effect: Andromeda

The technology to create emotionless, plastic-faced "uncanny valley" animation is getting cheaper, and those placed in charge of using it are giving less and less of a fuck.

Another compendium here from xLetalis.

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The CIA has developed board-games to train future spies

At SXSW, CIA Senior Collection Analyst David Clopper revealed a series of tabletop games developed as training materials for CIA internal training exercises: Collection, a Pandemic-style crisis-resolution game; Collection Deck, a Magic: The Gathering style intel-collection game; and Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo, designed "to train analysts who might work with law enforcement and other partners around world to find a well-armed, well-defended, well-protected bad guy." Read the rest

Games and other online communities are societies, owed a duty of care by their owners

Raph Koster is one of the world's most celebrated game designers, responsible for the design of Ultima Online, CCO of Sony during the Star Wars Galaxies era, and author of the classic Theory of Fun. Ever year, Raph gives a barn-raising/barn-burning speech at the Game Developer's Conference, one of the don't-miss moments of the conference. This year's speech is no exception. Read the rest

The only video review you need to watch of the new Zelda game

The new Zelda game has rave reviews for its open-world gameplay and dreamy looks, but its Video Game Dunkey's gameplay recording that finally convinced me to actually buy a Nintendo Switch. There's some salty language, but it's all good! Read the rest

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