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Sequel to classic space trading game Elite enters multiplayer testing

Rock Paper Shotgun takes a look at the first multiplayer build of Elite:Dangerous. "You can be a pirate," Michael Brookes, the game's executive producer, assures us. I'm finding the look and feel reminiscent of I-War 2; an excellent omen. Rob 10

The irrefutable link between Dungeons and Dragons and human sacrifice

Christian Nightmares turned up this classic video in which a young Satanist recounts how heavy metal and Dungeons and Dragons led him to a life in a cult where "breeders" made babies for sacrifice to his Satanic Majesty. Refute that, skeptics!

Satanism Unmasked Dungeons & Dragons (Thanks, Christian Nightmares!)

Dungeon Keeper remake snarls classic gameplay in "scam" payment model

Twenty years ago, Peter Molyneux's Dungeon Keeper became an instant classic, wedding a clever premise—you're the baddie fending off the heroes—to innovative strategy gameplay. The remake just came out for iOS. Not only is it bad, but it is free-to-play bad: the original's brilliant gameplay is all but frozen, with even the most basic mechanisms of play hooked into expensive further payments.

Like recent games such as Minecraft, progess in DK's requires the player to clear space one block at a time. With the new iOS version, however, you soon have to pony up real money for each individual cube to clear--or it takes up to 24 hours for the action to take effect. When it comes to digging out your realm, Dungeon Keeper iOS grinds to a halt unless you're willing to pay-per-tap.

"As I write this review, I am waiting for one of my imps to finish mining a block that I commanded it to start digging last night," writes Jim Sterling in a review at The Escapist. "Something so simple, something that took a handful of seconds in the original Dungeon Keeper, is taking me 24 hours in the twisted mobile reimagining."

Sterling awarded the game 1/10; a brutal score to match its brutal payment model. Destructoid, issuing a comparatively generous but hardly enticing 4/10, says that publisher Electronic Arts is selling a "sack of spolied potatoes ... using a respectable IP as its skin."

German gaming site Superlevel's review is more concise—and works in any language. NerdCubed rants in NSFW style at the costs that can rack up for careless players. Thomas Baekdel compares the two versions.

The problem is that all the future generations of gamers are going to experience this as the default. They are going to grow up in a world, in which people actually think this is what gaming is like. That social engineering and scamming people is an acceptable way of doing business. It's not! It's a scam... done by sick people who have nothing left in their lives other than selfish greed. They should be thrown in jail for deceptive business tactics, and not featured in the app store as an Editors' Choice.

As sleazy as so many free-to-play games are, I always wanted to point out that it's an entirely new market, serving players who would not otherwise play video games. The iOS Dungeon Keeper, for example, acts more like a Dungeon Keeper-themed casino slot machine than a video game. Icky, sure, but not much threat to the original or to games like it.

What seems to be happening now, though, is that sleazeware is displacing the "real" games industry in earnest; in this case, we have a fully-implemented (and improved!) clone of the original being used to suck buyers into a cold-as-ice ripoff. The catalyst seems to be the move of free-to-play from the web to app stores, where both types of game are pushed onto the same shelf, and the only thing players see are the up-front cost.

You can buy the original Dungeon Keeper, compatible with modern PCs and Macs, from Good Old Games, for just $6. All subsequent clicks are free of charge.

UPDATE: Singletona082 reviews Dungeon Keeper Mobile over at BBS and details the problems in depth:

Unfortunately we're staring right at the ugly heart of what is going to kill Dungeon Keeper and has turned off a vocal portion of its potential playerbase. Microtransactions.

I'm not going to lie, sugarcoat, or apologize here even though I like the game when it stops making me wait since I'm broke and haven't fed the piggybank to get to do things Right Now and actually play. This is not a game I can honestly recommend and it's completely down to how it pushes micro-transactions in your face. If it were a case of a terrible game trying to be a money siv I'd sit back and laugh.

Tekken Piano

Mc Cool hooked up a MIDI-capable piano to the control inputs of classic fighting game Tekken, thereby synchronizing the on-screen action and musical performance. Then he recorded video of him doing online battle. He won!
This is the final product of my project for interaction design. Took the whole semester, to get this to work but it was worth it. How it works: The piano sends a Midi-Signal, which is transferred to an arduino. According to the signals, the arduino triggers transistors, which then trigger inputs on a paewang PCB (This is the PCB of an arcadestick). The paewang is connected to an Xbox360 (you can also use it on PS3).
The TekkenPiano [Vimeo]

DIY candy D20s


Mel Li writes, "I made some candy D20's using a two-part silicone mold for my Magic: The Gathering playgroup. Colors indicate different flavors: Gold/multicolor: Butterscotch Black: Dark chocolate Green: Mint White: White chocolate Blue: Food coloring + white chocolate Mold is made from food-grade silicone molded around a Wizards of the Coast 'spindown' D20"

Mel's the person who made the DNA bread I posted earlier; as as before, she's included some photos of the build for after the jump. Check out her whole Flickr stream, she's amazing; there's cosplay, illustration and painting, toymodding, nerd baking, hardware hacking, and much more.

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At 40 Years Old, Dungeons & Dragons Still Matters

Ethan Gilsdorf looks back on four decades of pen-and-paper role-playing tradition.

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Homemade cardboard Portal gun for less than $10


Redditor Pastlightspeed cosplayed Chel from the game Portal and put together an amazing Portal Gun out of cardboard and paint for less than $10. The Imgur set shows some details of the build, and the incredible fact that she ran a 5K while dressed in full Portal drag and carrying her sidearm.

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Angry hackers target Angry Birds website after news of NSA spying hijinks


A screengrab of the defaced website.

"Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment Ltd. says the popular game's website was defaced by hackers Wednesday, two days after reports that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by U.S. and British spy agencies." NSA documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden indicated the NSA and Britain's GCHQ spy agency have the ability to get mobile users' data through various apps, including Google Maps and the Angry Birds games. [AP]

Related: Veracode audited exactly what personal data the Angry Birds app gathers about you.

Global Game Jam asks developers to use the public domain, in Aaron Swartz's honor

Susan writes, "Over 22K game developers from all over the world (72 countries) came together this past weekend (January 24-26) at the annual Global Game Jam (GGJ). This year's event was record breaking, having churned out over 4K games with the theme 'We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.' The yearly event focusing on collaboration, experimentation and innovation in games challenges developers of all skill levels. The jam is about creating community as well as creating games, all jams are physical jams where you have a chance to grow your skills and your network. Add to that the event prides itself on being hardware and software agnostic -- open to digital and analog games that are open source adhering to a Creative Common's license.

"As if making a game from start to finish with your new found friends at one of the 400+ local jams isn't hard enough, the GGJ offers diversifiers help challenge developers just a bit more. This year GGJ decided to honor the memory of the late Aaron Swartz by creating a diversifier that asks the developer of the game to only use materials found in the public domain. The Global Game Jam is a volunteer based 501c3 looking to share the universal language of games around the world while generating a buzz of creativity for everyone to feed from."

Global Game Jam (Thanks, Susan!)

Kickstarting a fun time-travel RPG

Laura sez, "For fans of investigative gaming, there's a new time-travel RPG burning up the Kickstarter charts. TimeWatch by Kevin Kulp adapts the GUMSHOE System for a fast-paced romp through alternate timelines. Someone is rewriting history, and it's your mission to get things back on track and bring the culprits to justice. You may even get a helping hand from your future self, Bill-and-Ted-style. The TimeWatch Kickstarter campaign is less than a week old, and has already brought in more than seven times its goal - two campaign extensions and three mission hooks have been unlocked so far. If you've ever wanted to match wits with a psychic time-traveling velociraptor, this is your dream come true."

$10 gets you a PDF, $40 gets you the printed edition.

TimeWatch: GUMSHOE Investigative Time Travel RPG

Candy Quest: a text-adventure in defiance of the stupid Candy Crush trademark

Inspired by the news that King.com -- creators of the game "Candy Crush" -- had received a trademark on the use of the words "candy" and "saga" in connection with video games (and other things) and were using it to censor its competition, Michael Brough's created a fun -- and trenchant -- text-adventure called Candy Quest 3: Edge of Sweetness. It's part of The Candy Jam, an indie game-jam created entirely to troll the butthead corporate overlords at King.com.

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Celebrate D&D's 40th: AMA with author of "Playing at the World"


Jayson from Gygax Magazine sez, "This Sunday, January 26th, marks the 40th anniversary of the first publication of Dungeons & Dragons. To mark the occasion, Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World and writer for Gygax Magazine, will be holding an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit."

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Announcing "In Real Life": graphic novel about gold farming, kids and games


Yesterday, FirstSecond formally announced the publication of In Real Life, a graphic novel about gaming and gold farming for young adults based on my award-winning story Anda's Game, adapted by Jen Wang, creator of the amazing graphic novel Koko Be Good. Jen did an incredible job with the adaptation.

Kotaku conducted a Q&A with Jen and me about the book and its themes, and lavishly illustrated it with art and panels from the book:

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Great Firewall of Cameron blocks game update because "XerathMageChainsExtended" contains "sex"

Redditor LolBoopje discovered that the UK's Great Firewall of Cameron -- the national censorwall put in place by the prime minister -- was blocking updates to the game League of Legends. The update archive contained two files, "VarusExpirationTimer.luaobj" and "XerathMageChainsExtended.luaobj" that had the word "sex" in them, triggering the censorship algorithm. The censorship is totally silent -- users got a "file not found" error -- and it was only some very clever sleuthing that revealed the error.

I've written at length about the worse-than-useless nature of censorware as a means of keeping kids from seeing bad stuff. One of the key points to note here is that silent failure: there is no way of telling how many of the timeouts, file-not-found errors, and other miscellaneous bugs in your daily Web experience are caused by the Great Firewall, and that is by design. It is a system that is intended to make it impossible to tell if it's working. That's not going to be pretty.

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Nightmare fuel Pikachu


Den Chu's Pikachu evolved into something wonderfully nightmarish somewhere on its journey. If you look closely, you can just make out the electricity-storage glands under its forked tongue. I would happily give over my office to a 10-foot-long fiberglass version of this thing. (via Neatorama)