Boing Boing 

Suburbia board game: a simple, subtle economic simulation

Suburbia is a technocrat’s take on urban planning. The art is streamlined to the point of austerity, there is almost no luck, and the game is unashamed to show off its mathematical guts. At heart, Suburbia is a simple, subtle economic simulation with three moving parts. Players take turns buying hexagonal tiles from an ever-changing market and placing them in their town to develop their city in ways that affect its population, income, and reputation.

The population tally (which serves as the game’s scoring mechanism) models the disadvantages of urban growth in a very clever and elegant way – every so often on the track there’s a red line, and when your population surpasses it you lose one point of income (more expensive municipal services) and one point of reputation (more density/pollution/crime/whatever). This simple mechanism creates delightfully rich feedback loops that take a number of plays to fully appreciate – grow too quickly without an economic base and your town stagnates, unable to afford the development you need to serve your population; but bring in too much business or industry and nobody will want to live there.

Buying tiles for your city isn’t just an exercise in math, though – building your city is a spatial and temporal puzzle, with a limited ability to impact the other players’ cities as well. Some of the tiles’ effects work spatially (placing residential areas next to a highway hurts your town’s reputation while placing businesses there makes them more profitable), others work based on what else is in your city (building schools helps your reputation based on how many residential areas you have), and some affect other players’ cities. Once the market is emptied out, the game ends and players score based on population, plus additional public and secret individual scoring goals that you draw at the start of each game.

This game seems to lean heavily toward being a muliplayer solitaire puzzle at first glance, but once everyone is familiar with managing the feedback loops between reputation, population, and income, and with the scoring goals that are available, denying other players what you think they need becomes pretty competitive. Another nice mechanism is that tiles from the market can be played upside down as small lakes, which provides a cash infusion but also allows you to take a tile out of the game that’s useless to you but helpful to an opponent.

Where the game can bog down a bit is in keeping track of the interdependent effects of some of the tiles, particularly the ones that affect other players’ towns, but after a few plays we got familiar enough with the tiles’ effects that it was manageable. It bears mentioning that Suburbia has one of the best app implementations (both Android and iOS) of a board game I’ve seen, with smooth design, interesting single player puzzles, and local and online multiplayer.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

Rudy Rucker's massive volume of journals now out!

Rudy Rucker -- mathematician, cyberpunk, computer scientist, gonzo hoopy frood happy mutant -- has released an 828 page volume of his journals!

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50% off O'Reilly books for the International Day Against DRM


O'Reilly is celebrating the International Day Against DRM with a 50% discount on its giant collection of technical books and videos (60% if you spend $100) -- just use discount code "DRM2015"

Kickstarting a second Oh Joy Sex Toy collection


The first collection of the smashing, sex-positive webcomic was such a success, they're doing it again!

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Hourglass full of magnetized "sand"


This $14, 100-second hourglass is filled with magnetized iron filings that form beautiful fans and other shapes as the sand drains into the bottom bulb. (via Canopy)

Guerilla Furniture Design: making your home beautiful with waste materials

Will Holman is a maker's maker whose HOWTOs have graced Make, Instructables, Readymade and other hotbeds of DIY; his new book Guerilla Furniture Design is a beautifully written and inspiring design manifesto disguised as a project book,Read the rest

Bifocal safety goggles


Dewalt's bifocal safety goggles come in strengths from 1.0 to 3.0 and at $10/pair, you can't go wrong, especially if you, like me, are losing your vision as you hurdle towards senescence -- better Mother's Day present than flowers, better Father's Day present than a tie. (Thanks, Ian!)

Batman comic strips from 1968-1969 newspapers that have never been reprinted until now

There are very few parts of Batman’s print legacy that aren’t readily available to the public. The various runs of newspaper comic strips are finally collected in hardcover form for the hardcore fan in Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Volume 2 (1968-1969). This great book from IDW gives us a second volume of the 1960s Silver Age comic strips in their original glory. These are strips that you literally couldn’t have seen until now, unless you had saved the original newspapers that they were printed in. The strips are reprinted in their original format, with the Sunday editions in color and the dailies in black and white. The book features all kinds of adventures that you’ve never seen before, including all the characters we love like Batman, Robin, Alfred, Catwoman, Batgirl and more. The occasional other Justice League hero will make an appearance as well, like Aquaman and Superman. This book is a phenomenal addition to the library of any Batman fan. – Matt MacNabb

Toy, snap-fit hydraulics

Small Machines are snap-fit, laser-cut simple hydraulic machines that use standard syringes and plastic tubing filled with tap-water for motion-control.

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Star Wars blueprints aloha shirt

Real rayon! $50 from Thinkgeek: droids, tie-fighters, and the plans for the Death Star (naturally).

Slipcased hardcover complete Eight Ball


Forthcoming from Fantagraphics, a slipcased, two-volume set collecting Daniel Clowes's seminal Eight Ball, whence came Art School Confidential and Ghost World.

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Mickey Mouse Treasures book – pockets, pouches and fold-outs filled with removable replicas of Disney memorabilia

The Mickey Mouse Treasures is literally a treasure trove of Mickey artifacts. Contained within the hard-cover book’s 63 pages are pockets, pouches, and fold-outs containing removable replicas of select Disney memorabilia from the Walt Disney Archives. This is as close as anyone can get to handling the real items without actually rummaging through the archives (not without SUPER special permission). Every item has been scanned and printed (front and back, inside and out) as is, showing every detail and decades of age.

The replica items represent the history and evolution of Mickey Mouse throughout the decades. Examples include an animation cell and background, a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt suggesting a cartoon idea, a Mickey Mouse Club membership mailer, a “Fantasia” premiere theater program, and much more. These gems supplement the plethora of additional images and photos found on the book’s pages, along with a brief written history by Robert Tieman.

While the book may be short on words, a picture is worth a thousand of them. Turn those pictures into three-dimensional replicas, and you have a book that you can “read” for years to come. When you’re ready to rest your eyes, the book and its treasures are safely stored within a hard slip cover. – Robert Nava

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

VISUALIZE: Daily routines of accomplished creative people


This chart summarizes data from Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, providing that rarest of treasures: an infographic that actually improves the legibility of information.

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Iridescent insect sculptures from ewaste


UK artist Julie Alice Chapell's Computer Component Bugs sculptures are iridescent, intricate assemblage sculptures made from ewaste.

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Pop Sonnets, the book -- the Bard meets Backstreet Boys

The Shakespearean delights of Pop Sonnets, one of my favorite reads, are being collected in a new book to be published in October.

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Excerpt from Neal Stephenson's forthcoming novel Seveneves

Neal Stephenson's posted the first 26 pages of his forthcoming novel Seveneves, "a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years."

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Arcology: cutaways of the future city-hives that never were

Paolo Soleri's Arcology: The City in the Image of Man is a techo-hippie dream of deep mid-century modern futurism. Read the rest