Birdspotting, a forthcoming game about exploring the countryside in search of avian delights

Birdspotting looks like the ne plus ultra of walkabout games, putting the player in a remote yet pleasant section of country and handing them a pair of binoculars. It's by Joram van Loenen and Khalil Arafan and they've been working on it since January 2018.

I especially like the implication in the trailer that it should be played at low resolution.

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Tetris gives you random tetrominoes, right?

Only the very first version of Tetris, by Alexey Pajitnov and Vadim Gerasimov, doled out bricks at random. The result is a pure puzzle, but one with a high likelihood of frustrating (and even theoretically unplayable) sequences. Accordingly, developers have introduced bias and ratio management to balance short-term unpredictability with long-term playability. There's even a a history of Tetris Randomizers to enjoy, with code examples to show the various approaches.

Here's the rule from Nintendo's definitive 1985 edition:

To cut down on piece floods (repeating pieces) a history check was added to the randomizer. This simple check would,

• choose a piece, • check if the piece was the same as the last, • If it was it would chose a new piece, but only once, • and whatever was the result, was the piece dealt.

This still didn't fix the problem of piece droughts, which was solved by switching to virtual "bags" of pieces in 2001's Tetris Worlds, so the likelihood of getting a piece increases each time you don't get it, and vice versa, for each bag of pieces. But now it's rather easy to predict, so what next? Things get really complicated with Tetris: The Grand Master 3 - Terror-Instinct (2005).

See also Bastet, a version of Tetris that simply calculates the worst possible piece for any given deal, and deals you it.

My doubtless-unpopular opinion is that predictability is not only fine, but desirable. In fact, the sequence of pieces should be deterministic in competitive Tetris, in a way that a beginner can understand, that an average player can predict some of the time, that a master can predict most of the time. Read the rest

Thousands sign up to play unauthorized hide-and-seek game at Ikea, police called in

This weekend, police were called to an Ikea store in Glasgow, Scotland when employees learned that thousands of people had signed up on Facebook to play an unauthorized game of hide-and-seek in the maze-like building. According to The Scotsman, "groups of youths who looked like they were only there for the game were turned away from the shop.
" From The Scotsman:

The trend for using Ikea’s giant warehouses for games began in Europe a few years ago - and has seen people hiding in fridges, under beds and in the firm’s big blue shopping bags.


However in 2015, IKEA was forced to impose a ban because the events were getting out of control.

Citing health and safety a spokesman explained: ‘We need to make sure people are safe, and that’s hard if we don’t know where they are.’

Rob Cooper, IKEA Glasgow Store Manager said: “The safety of our customers and co-workers is always our highest priority. We were aware of an unofficial Hide and Seek Facebook event being organised to take place at our store today and have been working with the local police for support.

“While we appreciate playing games in one of our stores may be appealing to some, we do not allow this kind of activity to take place to ensure we are offering a safe environment and relaxed shopping experience for our customers.”

"Police called to Scottish IKEA after thousands sign up for hide and seek" (The Scotsman)

image: Google Maps Read the rest

Double-layered D20

Majestic Trinkets created a double-layered D20 that looks like something right out of a dingy pub in Waterdeep. It's $80, but think how quickly you'll win it back!

This die is perfect for the most extra member of your adventuring party.

This is the regular gaming D20 in my 'Advantage' design family of dice. It is mathematically balanced in CAD software design to ensure that the die is centered and fair.

A 'clean' roll where the inner die settles with the outer die may not happen with every roll. When rolling on a flat surface, like a table or dice tray, it settles roughly 40% of the time. When rolling with a dice tower, it settles roughly 70% of the time. If it did not settle, give it a little shimmy on the surface it's laying and it should settle.

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Game developers, composer named in sexual assaults

Jeremy Soule, composer of game soundtracks such as Morrowind and Total Annihilation, was named by developer Natalie Lawhead as having raped her when the two worked together in 2008. Following her post, other game developers spoke out about having been assaulted by their peers, with Alex Holowka (Night in the Woods) and Luc Shelton (Gears of War) among the accused. At The Verge, Andrew Webster suggests that #MeToo may have finally reached the insular game-dev community.

Zoe Quinn — developer of games like Depression Quest, author of Crash Override, and a focal point of the misogynistic Gamergate movement — posted a harrowing account on Twitter, recounting alleged abuse from indie developer Alec Holowka, best known for his work on Aquaria and Night in the Woods. “I’ve been silent about this for almost my entire career and I can’t do it anymore,” Quinn wrote. The post includes disturbing accounts that include Quinn hiding in a bathroom to avoid an attack. It also notes that Quinn was inspired to come forward in part because of Lawhead’s post, which Quinn says “shook me to my core.”

In a statement on Twitter, Scott Benson, who worked with Holowka on Night in the Woods, wrote that “we believe Zoe’s account of Alec’s actions, we’re very sad and very angry.”

A third incident came to light when indie developer Adelaide Gardner wrote a lengthy Twitter thread accusing Luc Shelton, a programmer at British studio Splash Damage, of sustained psychological and physical abuse two years ago.

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Custom-made bartop OutRun cabinet

Circuitbeard created this adorable and pixel-perfect miniature OutRun cabinet to sit atop their bar, complete with not-a-Ferrari dashboard and original cabinet decal art. Check out Picade for a primer on how the guts work (and to buy similar guts).

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Bees added to Minecraft, finally

My "bee"-obsessed young son will not be delighted to see the addition of bees to Minecraft, as he is still too young to have played Minecraft or, indeed, to have become cognizant of the difference between bees and other winged insects.

We’re buzzing with excitement!

• Bees are cute, fuzzy, neutral mobs • Don’t hurt them, they don’t want to hurt you • If a bee does sting you, it will leave its stinger in you and eventually die, dropping nothing :( • Bees love pretty flowers and spend their lives gathering pollen from them • After gathering pollen, bees fly back to their home nest • Bees help you by growing crops while carrying pollen back to the nest • Bees can be bred using flowers • Bees like sharing the location of their favorite flowers with other bees • If a bee can't find nectar, after a while it will return home for a bit • If a bee doesn’t have a home nest, it will wander around until it finds one it can use • Bees don’t like the rain and they sleep at night. They will go back to the nest in these cases

In keeping with Minecraft's rougueish leanings, there's an entire ecology of honey production to go with it. Can't wait! Read the rest

Microsoft contractors listened to Xbox audio recordings of children in their homes, to improve voice command

Contractors working for Microsoft say they listened to audio captured by Xbox consoles

How they make the gross sound effects for Mortal Kombat games

When someone punches you so hard your brain flies out the orifices of your face, how exactly does that sound? Foley artists know how that sounds, and they use a variety of clever techniqes to generate the wet, crunchy, nasty noises required to gross out and entertain players.

If you twist a bell pepper in just the right way, it sounds like someone’s chest cavity being ripped open. A lot of non-gamers may not be aware that Mortal Kombat is still being produced. In the early 90s, the game was at the bleeding edge of realistic digitized violence, and the franchise was so controversial that Congress held hearings about it. Believe it or not, the series has only gotten more violent since then.

MK always had interesting sound design, right back to the original arcade game from 1992. Here's the sound test, reeling off all the samples like a string of low-fidelity sausages:

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Amazing cosplay art: V, from 'Cyberpunk 2077'

This cosplay project of V, from 'Cyberpunk 2077' is absolutely incredible, and was shared in two parts online by its creator, @aelirenn. Read the rest

Enjoy the trailer for the new Doom movie

Behold Doom: Annihilation, or "Annthilation" as it appears in the glowy font on the poster. Read the rest

Lichess is the best chess site

I've been playing a game called "Chess" lately. I'm not much good, but have found that a good way to get people mad is to use only the "Pawn" characters. Oftentimes players will end up snarled up on them and it's apparently quite humiliating. In this game the white player quit and msgd me "what the fuck are you doing?" Read the rest

Creating a first-person adventure game with Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker 2 is designed to let you create your own Mario platformer levels, but the tools are flexible enough that a sufficiently ingenious creator can make all kinds of amazing things with them. Read the rest

When you're not a voice actor but have to do some voice acting

Even by the indifferent standards of licensed video games, the athletes' voice acting in NBA 2K15—unaccustomed as they are to public speaking—was something else.

The train will be humming in no time.

A convincing explanation from a Reddit commenter: "the players are contractually obligated to be there and have zero interest in the project. You’re probably going to get one or two takes per line, and that’s it" Read the rest

PacM̬̦̩̹̌͢a̪͓̮̼͍̗͑̿ͫn̛̥͈ͅ is the classic arcade game, but with extra horror

Here's Free Game Planet on PacM̬̦̩̹̌͢a̪͓̮̼͍̗͑̿ͫn̛̥͈ͅ, an interesting variation on the classic created (or perhaps unearthed) by Berick Cook: "The PacM̬̦̩̹̌͢a̪͓̮̼͍̗͑̿ͫn̛̥͈ͅ ROM is said to have been taken from a damaged game board, found locked in a safe in an old abandoned arcade. It’s been linked to several tragic incidents and completing the game is said to cause psychological and physiological trauma. The effects of the ROM are said to be less dangerous than the original game board though, so you’ll probably be okay…probably…" Read the rest

This is the sport of professional Tag

Here are some highlights from recent World Chase Tag competitions.

“With World Chase Tag as a sport it really puts you in the moment and it almost makes you feel like a rabbit trapped in the head lights of a car,” competitor Richard Thompson, 19, told The Independent. “Will you run? Or will you freeze? This is something I’ve never felt in any other sport I’ve played and it makes things really interesting. But most of all it doesn’t feel like sport, it feels like play. That’s what I love about it.”

You're it.

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CHESSES: chess variants for nonexperts, nonplayers, and the very playful

Pippin Barr (previously) writes, "I have a history of making variations on existing games (see also: PONGS, BREAKSOUT, SNAKISMS), and Chesses (source, CC BY-NC) is a continuation of that. I find chess a really interesting game to play around with because it's so classic and sort of monolithic - it's fun to mess with tradition. Other than kind of formal enjoyment involved, I suspect the variations might level the playing field a bit and allow non-experts (or even non-players?) to play some chess." Read the rest

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