"Critical Failure" D20s, whispering what's in every roller's heart

The world has long celebrated the "critical hit" D20 face, the elusive 20 that doubles the damage and sets the players around the table baying with elation; but consider its opposite face, the lowly 1, the "critical failure" that lets a sadistic DM dream up all kinds of pratfalls and own-goals to punish the luckless player with. Read the rest

Video game catalog from 1996 is a wonderland of gamer nostalgia

If you weren't a kid or a nerd in the '90s, these video game advertisements might look strange. Read the rest

Play Bubble Bobble, Wolfenstein, and 13,000 other Commodore 64 disks free online

The Internet Archive now offers in-browser emulation of more than 13,000 Commodore 64 floppy disks. The Sentinel, Paradroid, Oregon Trail, Wasteland... they're all there, waiting for you.

Software Library: C64 (Internet Archive)

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How to modify your Nintendo Switch game case to hold up to 24 games (cheap gamer tricks)

“I modified a standard Nintendo Switch game case to hold up to 24 games,” says IMGURian MrJspeed, who provides a killer step-by-step HOWTO for gamers who'd like to try this instead of buying a multi-game carrying case. Read the rest

What happened to Telltale Games

Telltale Games wasn't just a hit developer, producing the hugely popular The Walking Dead game series. It reinvented the adventure game, producing quality interactive narratives while escaping the genre's retro conventions. Despite its apparent success, the company suddenly imploded last month, laying off most of its staff. Megan Farokhmanesh reports on the tragic end of Telltale Games.

The woes of Telltale Games have deep roots. Earlier this year, The Verge published a report detailing years of nonstop crunch culture, toxic management, and frustration from developers who believed the company’s refusal to diversify gameplay had led to creative stagnation. ...

These sources, who were granted anonymity in order to speak freely and without fear of retribution, paint a consistent picture of a company desperately struggling to keep its head above water. Despite what they see as the best of intentions on behalf of those running Telltale, hundreds still tumbled into unemployment with no safety net from their company.

The "cinematic adventure games for top franchises" business was more marginal than it looked at the scale Telltale grew to, dedicated workers were constantly exploited by crunch-development cycles, management was blindly optimistic, and potential new partners figured out all of the above and put away their checkbooks. Read the rest

Putting a Wii Portable into an Altoids tin

The Altoids tin is something of a gold standard for teeny-weeny casemodders, artists, campers and other ingenious maker-types. Read the rest

Seattle cops announce registry for high-risk swatting targets

The Seattle Police Department, having coped with two (thankfully) nonlethal swatting incidents since June, has announced a registry where people worried they might be swatted (previously) can sign up; the registry is a modification of the existing, third-party, private-sector Smart911 system, and the SPD says that if your name is on it, they will tread extra-carefully in evaluating SWAT-like reports of hostage-taking, active shooters and other high-risk crimes at your home or office. (via /.) Read the rest

Pixelmash: make resolution-independent pixel art

Pixelmash is clever indeed: create your resolution-independent art with the same freeform speed as you might in any other painting app, then let it nondestructively pixelize it, with 1-pixel outlines, adjustable gradients and dithering.

Pixelmash's resolution-independence lets you do really cool things... Like create animations using layer transforms rather than having to paint every frame pixel-by-pixel. Or make outlines, shading, and dithering easily adjustable by having them applied as layer effects. Or easily create different resolutions and color variants of the same image. Or convert photos or other hi-res artwork into pixel art using layer effects and the resolution slider.

Free demo, $15 to pre-order. Read the rest

Super Mario Bros speedrun record smashed

Kosmic is the first human to beat Super Mario Bros in 4 minutes and 55 seconds, a time so good it is less than a second slower than the best tool-assisted speedrun. Mashable:

When Kosmic says he's tied with the [tool-assisted] run at 4-1, that means his inputs are matched up exactly with the program's and he can't physically do any better.

From there, Kosmic continues to nail everything almost perfectly, slipping up so minorly that most viewers who aren't familiar with the nuances of Super Mario Bros. speedruns won't even recognize when it happens.

As YouTuber and speedrunning historian points out in his thorough analysis of Super Mario Bros. speedruns, speedrunners have been whittling down the world record for well over a decade. Top runners are at a point where they can only hope to improve their times by shaving off milliseconds.

Supreme pixel-precise coordination is not enough: you have to know all the game's technical extremities to get close. Here's an explainer video (featuring one of Kosmic's earlier record runs) describing all the bugs and tricks exploited along the way. Read the rest

Pete Rose, Pelé, and Don Knotts pitching the Atari game system (1978)

Here are soccer legend Pelé, comedy actor Don Knotts, and since-disgraced baseball hit king Pete Rose pitching the Atari Video Computer System in 1978. "Don't just watch television tonight - play it!" Read the rest

Sriracha, yowza, and sheeple among 300 new words in Scrabble dictionary

Four years since the last edition, Merriam-Webster's Official Scrabble Players Dictionary is on now shelves. From The Guardian:

Included in the new edition are some long-awaited two letter words, notably OK and ew.

“OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time,” said lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. “Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game.”

There’s more good news for Scrabble players with the addition of qapik, a unit of currency in Azerbaijan, adding to an arsenal of 20 playable words beginning with q that don’t need a u.

The Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary, Sixth Edition (Amazon)

image: thebarrowboy CC BY 2.0 Read the rest

Play a free text adventure game using Apple Shortcuts

Space Alert is a simple and clever proof-of-concept text adventure game made using Apple's new Shortcuts app for iOS 12. Demo video above. From creator Marcel Wichmann:

Apple recently released iOS 12 and with it Shortcuts, an app that let’s you automate a bunch of stuff on your iOS devices. I didn’t find any useful way of automating anything, so I built a game. A text adventure, to be precise. It’s short and kind of stupid but… it’s free?!

Space Alert (via WAXY) Read the rest

Sony announces miniature Playstation Classic, with 20 games built-in

The fad for fire-and-forget retro consoles continues with Sony's PlayStation Classic. It's $100, has 20 games built-in, modern connectors, and the original 1995 design—albeit shrunk to the size of the original's controller.

Five of the games were announced: Final Fantasy 7, Jumping Flash, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3 and Wild Arms.

The mini console is approximately 45% smaller than the original PlayStation, and it emulates the original’s look and feel by featuring similar controllers and packaging. Long-time fans will appreciate the nostalgia that comes with rediscovering the games they know and love, while gamers who might be new to the platform can enjoy the groundbreaking PlayStation console experience that started it all. All of the pre-loaded games will be playable in their original format.

The NES Classic and SNES Classic are huge moneyspinners for Nintendo, so this was an inevitability.

It'll be out on December 3. Sony's press release says you can pre-order it, but the only place I could find was this unnervingly empty database stub at Best Buy. Read the rest

Classic sports video games, one per sport

Wide World of Sports Video Games picks just one classic video game to represent each sport and organizes them into a neat gallery. It's the work of Tim Szetela, with Jason Eppink and John Sharp.

Players compete in more than 8,000 different sports around the world, but many sports video games focus on baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. Wide World of Sports Video Games explores the range of sports that have been adapted to video games over their 60-year history, featuring 123 different sports from Aerobics to Zumba.

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Tool to create pixel art particle effects

Davit Masia, creator of Pixatool (previously), made another app for pixel artists with Manuel Jesus Bolanos Gomez—this time with the focus on movement. Pixel FX generates particle effects such as clouds, smoke, fire and fog.

With Pixel FX Designer you can create awesome particle effects with the ability to giving them a pixelart feel by tweaking several options and render them to .png sprite sheets or .gifs.

You can export the original particle render just disabling any pixelation or palette limitation. Or you can add effects like Glow, Outline,etc... all works in real time to see the final FX visual.

There's a lot of settings to make sure the output matches the aesthetic of your game or animation: restricted pallettes, custom dithering patterns, draw-your-own particles, and so on.

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Inhuman Conditions - new social deception game for two players

The creators of the fantastic game Secret Hitler are kickstarting a new 5-minute game for two players, called Inhuman Conditions. Inspired by Blade Runner, it's Voight-Kampff and the Turing Test as entertainment. One player takes on the role of an investigator and the other player is either a human or a robot who tries to convince the interrogator that they are a person. It looks like fun! I am backing it.

Robots must answer the Investigator's questions without arousing suspicion, but are hampered by some specific malfunction in their ability to converse. They must be clever, guiding the conversation in subtle ways without getting caught.

Humans may speak freely, but may find this freedom as much curse as gift. There are no right or wrong answers, only suspicious and innocuous ones, and one slip of the tongue could land Humans and Robots alike in the Bureau's Invasive Confirmation Unit. There, alongside Investigators who make improper determinations, they will await further testing ...

The design looks really cool, too:

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wideNES: see outside the viewport while playing classic games

wideNES is an ingenious tool that lets you zoom out of the NES game you're playing. It's a feature of ANESE, a new NES emulator developed by Daniel Prilik.

wideNES is a novel technique to automatically and interactively map-out NES games, in real time.

As players move within a level, wideNES records the screen, gradually building-up a map of what’s been explored. On subsequent playthroughs of the level, wideNES syncs the action on-screen to the generated map, effectively letting players see more of the level by “peeking” past the edge of the NES’s screen! Best of all, wideNES’s approach to mapping games is totally generalized, enabling a wide range of NES games to work with wideNES right out of the box!

The technical description of how it works is well-worth reading. It's like a primer on how memory-challenged early game consoles managed to keep things smooth and sweet--and why it's better to employ such an elaborate technique of observation than to try and pre-emptively decode the internal geography of each game.

Why not extract levels directly from ROMs?

Trying to extract level data from a NES ROM would be equivalent to determining which sections of the ROM are code (as opposed to data), which is hard, since finding all code in a given binary is equivalent to the Halting problem!

wideNES takes a much simpler approach: Instead of guessing how games pack level data in ROM, wideNES will simply run the game and watch the output!

An excellent suggestion from ArtWomb on Hacker News: set up a high-resolution monitor that has the entirety of a game world on it, letting it remain static whole your tiny sprite (Link, for example, in Hyrule) quests forth. Read the rest

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