Blizzard's corporate president publicly apologizes for bungling players' Hong Kong protests, never mentions Hong Kong

When Blizzard Entertainment ejected the Hearthstone champion player Blitzchung in retaliation for voicing a pro-Hong Kong message during a tournament, it kicked off a furious round of protests against the company, resulting in canceled events and more player action in support of the protesters. Read the rest

AI plays StarCraft II at "Grandmaster" level

StarCraft II

AlphaStar is reportedly the first artificial intelligence to play the computer game StarCraft II at a "Grandmaster" level under standard competitive conditions.

1. AlphaStar now has the same kind of constraints that humans play under – including viewing the world through a camera, and stronger limits on the frequency of its actions* (in collaboration with StarCraft professional Dario “TLO” Wünsch).

2. AlphaStar can now play in one-on-one matches as and against Protoss, Terran, and Zerg – the three races present in StarCraft II. Each of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg agents is a single neural network.

3. The League training is fully automated, and starts only with agents trained by supervised learning, rather than from previously trained agents from past experiments.

4. AlphaStar played on the official game server, Battle.net, using the same maps and conditions as human players. All game replays are available here.

It's all thanks to multi-agent reinforcement learning. *nods authoritatively* Read the rest

You can modify Mario Kart Wii to play with Waluigi and Wario on foot

Do you have Mario Kart Wii and an interest in modifying it?  Read the rest

Kickstarting STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion

Brian Van Slyke writes, "STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion is a board game about building a city-wide rebellion to stop a mega-corporation's takeover. It was created in collaboration between The TESA Collective, a publisher of games about changing the world, and Jobs with Justice (JWJ), a leading labor rights organization. It has just launched on Kickstarter. Read the rest

Cosplay of Greatness: 'Isaac Clarke'

Stupendous dedication and execution on this cosplay masterpiece. Read the rest

Vice suggests Millennial video game enthusiasts suck it up and admit they are old

What is all the hubbub, bub? Gen X is doing just fine playing video games while it appears some Millennials are unable to keep up with the kids.

Vice:

Those who grew up playing games online know just how easy it is to blame poor performance on factors outside of your control. That person who's just absolutely wrecking you? They're obviously hacking. And now, as Millennials grow older they have yet another convenient excuse at their disposal: I'm just getting too old for this shit.

But it's the more likely scenario that's the hardest to accept: It's not that you're getting worse at video games, it's that everyone got a lot better. As a younger, bigger, and more-skilled generation has finally emerged to take your spot among the leaderboards, you cannot "git gud." In our slow march towards oblivion, we must choose: get owned, or go play something else.

I have been playing games for so long that I must 'invert-look' on all games or I am unable to control them. Perhaps this learned up-down response from the days of the Atari 2600 is what keeps my play 'trash.'

A video game is about having fun. If you have fun playing the video game you are doing it right. Read the rest

Play a "The Thing"-like monster in this free demo of Carrion

Carrion is a forthcoming "reverse horror" game from Devolver Digital where you get to play an amorphous monster, slopping around a remote facility eating the screaming, terrified scientists and guards. A free demo came out this weekend and it's great fun.

At heart it's a traditional, lavishly pixelated 2D platformer, but normality ends at the outset. Instead of running about, solving puzzles and shooting enemies, you're a slimy lump of pixels with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Holding down one button sends out meaty feelers to grab surfaces, flop and slide your way toward the pointer, whereas another sends out the eating tentacles and drags in anything they latch onto.

There's about 20 minutes of action in the demo, I've played it through twice for good measure, and will most certainly be buying it when it comes out. Thlupllplplplplpl! *muffled screams* *crunching noises* thluplplplplp! Read the rest

Review / Control

Remedy Entertainment's Control is a masterpiece of weird architecture and bold design, but a tiring shooter.

Review / Manifold Garden

William Chyr’s abyss stares back. It's a good puzzle game, too.

Procedural one-page dungeon generator

Oleg Dolya (last seen here for his amazing procedural medieval city-map generator) is back with a wonderful procedural one-page dungeon generator that produces detailed, surprisingly coherent quickie dungeons for your RPG runs (it's an entry in the monthly challenge from /r/procedural generation). Read the rest

Hey Robot - a party game where you try to get your smart speaker to say a certain word

This is such a cool idea for a game. In Hey Robot you are challenged with asking Alexa (or another voice assistant device) a question that will make it say a certain word.

From the Kickstarter:

At the beginning of the game, you deal out a grid of cards with words on them. Then teams alternate trying to capture a word by asking The Robot a question that will get them to say that word in their response. (They can't say any form of the word in their question.)

For example, Team 1 might pick VAMPIRE.

After a brief huddle, they decide to ask: "Alexa, what is a creature that is scared of sunlight?" hoping Alexa will say the word "vampire" in her response. Instead, she'll tell you about heliophobia — the fear of going out into the sun. Groan. Because they missed with their question, Team 1 puts a bonus point token on the VAMPIRE card, increasing its value.

Now it's Team 2's turn. After some deliberation, they choose VAMPIRE as well. They ask: "Alexa, who is Dracula?" Alexa answers,

Boom! Everyone cheers because Alexa said the word "vampire" in her response. Team 2 gets three points -- the two points printed on the card, plus the additional bonus point token. Now they must add a bonus point to one of the four cards touching the card they just captured.

Read the rest

The designer of Universal Paperclips has a new game to play with your home smart speaker

From the people who brought you Universal Paperclips and Drop 7, and highly recommended by the designer of QWOP and Getting Over It,  is an incredible marketing pitch for a new game. And the game sounds good.  Hate your Alexa or Google Home?  Think they're useless?  Hey Robot turns their shortcomings into a positive:

Hey Robot is a party game where two teams compete to get their smart speaker to say a specific word. It's a bit like Codenames or Taboo, if the friend you were playing with had an encyclopedia and was also very, very drunk. It's a hilarious, smart and strategic game for people who own a Google Home or Amazon Alexa and have no idea what the heck to do with it.

Hey Robot is created by Everybody House Games — Hilary, Mara, Frank and James Lantz. We're a family that's been making games for decades, including Universal Paperclips, Invisible Inc and Drop7. We've always been obsessed with board games and the funny ways we interact with technology in our day-to-day lives. Hey Robot is the intersection of those interests and the result of months of trying to invent fun things to do with our Alexa.

Hey Robot plays well with any group size, from 2 players up to as many people as you can fit around a flat surface.

...

The game is really that simple. But while the rules are easy to understand, achieving a mind meld with your Robot can take a lifetime. Alexa and Google are both the smartest and stupidest people in the room, so asking the right question in the right way requires knowledge, cleverness and strategy.

Read the rest

Analogue Pocket

Analogue Pocket is a forthcoming handheld game console that runs old Nintendo carts and offers a built-in synthesizer and sequencer.

A multi-video-game-system portable handheld. A digital audio workstation with a built-in synthesizer and sequencer. A tribute to portable gaming. Out of the box, Pocket is compatible with the 2,780+ Game Boy, Game Boy Color & Game Boy Advance game cartridge library. Pocket works with cartridge adapters for other handheld systems, too. Like Game Gear. Neo Geo Pocket Color. Atari Lynx & more. Completely engineered in *two FPGAs. ... Pocket has a digital audio workstation built in called Nanoloop. It’s a synthesizer and a sequencer. Designed for music creation and live performance. Shape, stretch and morph sounds. Capture music or play and sculpt live.

From the spec sheet, the 3.5” 1600x1440 display—615 ppi!—and a dock with USB and HDMI connections stand out. It ships "in 2020 for $199". Read the rest

Terrified of bad press after its China capitulation, Blizzard cancels NYC Overwatch event

Blizzard's cowardly decision to appease Chinese authoritarians by ejecting a champion player who expressed support for the pro-democracy struggle in Hong Kong has kicked off a global rebellion by the company's customers, who are furious that the firm has put its profits over an entire nation's right to self-determination and basic democratic freedoms. Read the rest

A new island awaits you in 'Fortnite Chapter 2'

After a day of making people look at a black hole, Epic Games has released the next iteration in the amazingly popular battle royale shooter Fortnite.

A new map, boats and bandage bazookas are just some of the 'new' things. Players can now carry an injured buddy to safety, or go fishing -- maybe both at the same time!

Hope we don't run into one another! Read the rest

Vintage Asteroids costume is surprisingly terrifying

Costumes in the early 80's were little more than decorated plastic bags. And before Disney's IP came to dominate Halloween shops, costume makers had to come up with creative ways to let kids embody concepts like an Asteroid or Rubik's Cube. The resulting costumes may have lacked padded muscles, but made up for it with surprisingly disturbing masks:

Someone made the call that it was worth spending resources to make a costume based on the cyclops from Krull:

You can find more costumes from the 70's and 80's here and here.

(Via Attract Mode.) Read the rest

Arcade Game Typography: beautiful book of pixel fonts

Arcade Game Typography [Amazon] is a forthcoming book by Toshi Omagari that "definitively surveys" the pixelated fonts of arcade games from the 1970s to the 1990s. It's full of gorgeous-looking full-color spreads, with grids, offering both a beautiful item and a formal tour of a distinctive artform.

Arcade Game Typography presents readers with a fascinating new world of typography: the pixel typeface. Video game designers of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s faced color and resolution limitations that stimulated incredible creativity. With each letter having to exist in a small pixel grid, artists began to use clever techniques to create elegant character sets within a tiny canvas. This book presents typefaces on a dynamic and decorative grid, taking reference from high-end type specimens while adding a suitably playful twist. Arcade Game Typography recreates that visual aesthetic, fizzing with life and color.

Featuring pixel typefaces carefully selected from the first decades of arcade video games, Arcade Game Typography presents a completist survey of a previously undocumented outsider typography movement, accompanied by insightful commentary from author Toshi Omagari, a Monotype typeface designer himself. Gathering an eclectic range of typography, from hit games such as Super Sprint, Marble Madness, and Space Harrier to countless lesser-known gems, Arcade Game Typography is a vivid nostalgia trip for gamers, designers, and illustrators alike. 300 color illustrations

Read the rest

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