Nintendo Switch review roundup

The highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch hits stores on Friday. According to today's reviews, it's got a lot of potential, some of which has yet to be realized even days before launch. From DIGG's Review Roundup:

If there's one area where the Switch excels largely (though not entirely), it's as a portable gaming tablet:

Though Nintendo marketing seems intent on describing the Switch as a home console that it just so happens you can take with you, I've found myself using the system as a portable much more often than on the TV... The system goes from its power-sipping "standby" to "actively playing a game right where I left off" in about three seconds, making it incredibly easy to pick up and put down as needed. I've highlighted the quality of the Switch's 6.2-inch, 720p screen for portable gaming in previous pieces, and the quality display still stands out after just over a week with the system. (Ars Technica)

The controllers are dogged by connectivity issues when not connected to the portable console:

The Joy-Con are a nifty idea, though they don’t always work as well as I would’ve hoped. For starters, I simply haven’t found them very comfortable. I find that the buttons are oddly placed and the thumbsticks feel small and overly flippy... I’ve also run into a frustrating issue where the left Joy-Con momentarily loses tracking and stops responding to my inputs... It appears to be an issue with a body part or other object blocking the Joy-Con’s view of the docked console...

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Frostgrave, the popular fantasy skirmish game, gets a devilishly-good supplement

Last year, I had the pleasure of exploring “the Frozen City” of Felstad, aka Frostgrave, the ridiculously fun, retro-reminiscent fantasy miniatures game from Osprey. Designer Joseph McCullogh and Osprey have followed up the highly-successful Frostgrave book with a series of excellent supplements. The latest of these is Forgotten Pacts.

Frostgrave is a very psycho-geographical game, where the ancient, ruined, and magic-saturated city of Felstad is really a central character in the game. One of the things each follow-up book does is shine a light into some new corner of that dark and ruined world. And with that light is also illuminated new stories of the city’s past, new wizard and warband types, new magic, treasures to unearth, and new monstrous adversaries.

Forgotten Pacts accomplishes two goals in advancing the game and the setting of Frostgrave. It introduces a new region, the northern reaches of Felstad, and the barbarian tribesmen who have come down from the hills to plunder and explore there. The book also introduces a new magical discipline for courageous wizards to attempt: demonic summoning using pacts. Demon summoning was de rigor in this region of the city during its heyday and the barbarians have re-rediscovered the lost art of it among the temple ruins and incorporated the practice into their way of life. Venturing into this region, players’ wizards get the opportunity to find a demon’s True Name (basically an unpronounceable name rendered as a sigil) among the ruins, and with that name, attempt to conjure and forge a pact with a demon. Read the rest

Gamer gifts ultimate homemade Dungeon Master screen

I posted this on Make: yesterday, but thought it was too good not to share here. A gamer named David Henning is in a gaming group and they exchanged gifts this past Christmas. Dave wanted to do something really special for his recipient, their new Dungeon Master, so he made him this amazing castle-themed DM screen. Not only does it act as a screen to hide the DM's dice rolls and campaign info, but it also includes a built-in dice tower, a lit dice display area, a place to mount quick reference material, a place to store non-playing characters (NPCs), and holders for pencils, erasers, and sharpeners.

The screen was made almost entirely of foamboard (three 2' x 2' pieces) with all of the stonework made by drawing on the bricks and then using a foam cutter to burn in the mortar lines. The bricks were distressed with a ball of aluminum foil and a hobby knife. Popsicle sticks were used to create the wooden doors and hatches. The whole thing was primed black and then painted and drybrushed with lighter hues of gray up to white (with some green wash thrown in to add a hint of organic funk).

More pics and information about the build can be found on Make:. I found out about Dave's project on the highly-recommend Facebook group, DM Scotty's Crafts N' Games (closed group, ask to join), a great place to find D&D-related terrain and accessory builds, miniature painting show n' tell, and gaming-related craft projects. Read the rest

Frostgrave – An approachable miniatures game in the spirit of old school dungeon delvers

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City by Joseph A. McCullough (author) and Dmitry Burmak (illustrator) Osprey Publishing 2015, 136 pages, 7.7 x 9.9 x 0.6 inches (hardback) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon

With the great success of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, the popularity of shows like Stranger Things riding a growing 80s nostalgia wave, and the success of game-based YouTube channels like Tabletop and Critical Role, there’s no doubt that we are in a tabletop/RPG gaming renaissance.

Two of the hallmarks of modern fantasy, sci-fi, and horror games are faster game play and more streamlined rules. The skirmish game, played with small numbers of miniatures, and the hybrid board game, combining miniatures and a game board, are all the rage these days. Into this moment of 80s D&D nostalgia and newfound enthusiasm for tabletop gaming comes a game that seems designed to hit all of the sweet spots: Osprey Publishing’s Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City.

Everything about Frostgrave is about economy. The book itself, gorgeously and profusely illustrated by Russian artist Dmitry Burmak, is compact, under 8 x 10, and only 136 pages. The backstory is simple, but highly evocative, the rules are basic and concise, trading off realism for fun. To play, you need only this inexpensive rulebook, around ten miniatures for your warband (taken from any 28mm fantasy range), and whatever terrain and random monsters you might encounter during the game. And some 20-sided dice and a tape measure. Read the rest

'I renamed all my Pokemon whatever my 2 year old called them'

“For your mild amusement, I renamed all my Pokemon whatever my 2 year old called them,” says IMGUR user June1920. Sort of jealous they caught a Claws Parrot.

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No Man's Sky: culture or cult?

Forthcoming game No Mans Sky promises players the experience of exploring a nigh-infinite universe of beautiful, dreamlike worlds. But its fans are far from serene. When a journalist reported a development delay, he was sent death threats--a black hole of rage that expanded to the game's creators when they confirmed the news. Read the rest

The secret history of Mac gaming

With its high-resolution monochrome display, the early Mac didn't fit easily into the gaming mainstream, where chunkier, colorful graphics were the norm well into the 90s. But as a result it generated a culture of its own, focused around detailed artwork, literary experimentation and powerful tools such as Hypercard. This history is often ignored, but Richard Moss is setting the record straight.

His book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, shares the stories behind the often-whimsical 80s Mac games and glorifies the unique "1-bit" art style that emerged from the technology.

Mac gaming welcomed strange ideas and encouraged experimentation. It fostered passionate and creative communities who inspired and challenged developers to do better and to follow the Mac mantra "think different".

The Secret History of Mac Gaming is the story of those communities and the game developers who survived and thrived in an ecosystem that was serially ignored by the outside world. It's a book about people who made games and people who played them — people who, on both counts, followed their hearts first and market trends second. How in spite of everything they had going against them, the people who carried the torch for Mac gaming in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s showed how clever, quirky, and downright wonderful videogames could be.

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Slightly damaged gaming PC yours for $800

The Pittsburgh Craigslist has a hot deal: a gaming PC with "Slight Damage" that in no way impacts performance.

Guaranteed to run any new game on Ultra settings! Buy now and I'll throw in a free Zip drive! What a bargain! Has slight fire damage but this affects the system in no way, trust me!
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This week in games: inactivity, brutalism, The Witness and more

Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play…

This SNES bluetooth game controller lets you play the latest games you love, retro-style

Remember the glory days of playing Super Nintendo on that classic gray controller with its signature purple push buttons? Yeah, we do too.

8Bitdo is bringing the 8-bit gaming vibe back with the SNES30, a 1:1 original design that supports both Bluetooth and USB connections.

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Activision Blizzard to buy Candy Crush game maker King Digital for $5.9 Billion

Activision Blizzard announced Monday evening that it plans to buy King Digital Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, for about $5.9 billion. It's the third-largest video game industry deal ever. It's quite a dollar amount, but it's significant for other reasons, too.

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The “Amen!” Game: 1970s Christian board game, scanned online for you to play

Bible trivia version of Bingo from 1973.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, who launched Wii, dies of cancer at 55

In a business where execs often lose touch with their audience, with development, & with the spirit of play, Iwata kept close to all these.

Binge-watching Titansgrave: Wil Wheaton's new live RPG show

I've just watched all three new episodes of Wil's new show, which features performers and writers playing an exhilarating RPG campaign with Wil as DM, set in a lavishly illustrated techno-primitive society. Read the rest

Watch Minecraft become holographic in Microsoft Hololens E3 demo

Amazing gameplay footage: Minecraft through the Hololens. The VR demo from Microsoft executive Sax Persson today at the annual E3 games convention completely transforms the experience of Minecraft.

Microsoft acquired Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 billion last year.

From PopSci:

“This is a live demo, with real working code,” Persson said, before donning the HoloLens and projecting a Minecraft map onto a wall, and then a table onstage. Microsoft announced Minecraft would be a main attraction of the HoloLens earlier in the year, but this is the first working demo the company has shown to the public.

Viewers were able to see Persson’s augmented reality through a “special camera” outfitted to show the HoloLens display in real time, as he played the game on the wall with an Xbox controller.

Persson then walked over to the table, said, “create world,” and watched as the Minecraft world poured onto the table. This was met with perhaps the loudest applause of Microsoft’s presentation, as he continued to use voice commands and gestures to manipulate the world. The virtual projection constrained itself to the edges of the table well, and the camera was able to look inside of structures by moving through the virtual walls.

No HoloLens release date yet.

More at Boing Boing's OFFWORLD: “The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event

[Kotaku on YouTube]

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Show off your painted miniatures!

My nephew, Joshua Smith, is graduating high school this week and will soon be off to the U.S. Coast Guard. In his free time, he's learning to painstakingly paint miniatures, and is starting to get pretty good! Here's a current WIP. Show us your own best work, for great justice. Read the rest

Beta release: Internet Archive library of 1990s MS-DOS games

The Internet Archive beta-released a library of MS-DOS games bootable and playable via the EM-DOSBOX in-browser emulator.

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