Tenzi dice game and variation deck

I'm excited to be going on Jonathan Coulton's JoCo Cruise this year. We've been asked to bring some games with us, so I'm bringing the Tenzi dice game plus the variation deck.

The basic rules are simple - everyone starts out with 10 dice and the goal is to roll your dice as fast as you can until all of them show the same number. Every time you roll, you are allowed to set aside any dice that match your desired number. When all ten of the dice show the same number, you shout "Tenzi!," throw your hands in the air, and gloat while the other players gnash their teeth. The game rules included a couple of variations on the basic rule set, which we also played and liked.

There's also a deck of cards called 77 Ways to Play Tenzi, which takes Tenzi to a new level. The deck adds variety, surprise, and humor to Tenzi. It makes Tenzi so much more fun that I think the company shouldn't sell the dice without the cards.

Each Tenzi card has a variation of the basic rules. The rules for the variants are simple enough that they can be described in one or two sentences. Here are a few examples:

To win the above game, you start with nine dice and roll until you get nine threes. Then you have to arrange the dice as shown on the card, and then roll the tenth dice until you get a six. Read the rest

Leaked presentation from AI snake-oil salesmen to AAA game company promises horrific, dystopian manipulation of players to drain their wallets

Techpowerup has published a redacted presentation from an unnamed AI company to an unnamed big-budget multiplayer video-game publisher, setting out a suite of surveillance capitalism tools combined with machine-learning to manipulate players to make them as addicted as possible and drain them of as much money as possible. Read the rest

One reason the Nintendo Switch is doing well: 3 times as many games out in first year

Nintendo's last game console, the Wii U, didn't do so well. The Switch, though, is doing very well indeed. One key reason: lots of games. Gizmodo:

By day 279, the Switch had 191 games available, a number the Wii U didn’t match until it’s 857th day – as many games in nine months as as its predecessor had in two years and four months. How to explain this is up for debate. Could it be better support for developers from Nintendo? Could it be smaller games in the e-shop making the barriers to entry lower so games can be pumped out more quickly?

It's not enough to have good launch titles. Quantity is a well-established factor in almost every console success going back to the 1970s -- and nowadays, that means hundreds of games. The Switch is also way ahead of the PS4 and XBone; though both have been out for more than four years, the Switch's curve vaguely suggests it could catch up within two. Read the rest

Making computer games from scratch in 1987

I enjoyed reading David Joiner's (aka Talin) retrospective about game development in the early days of the Commodore Amiga: like many creators of the era, he not only had to cultivate his artwork, but also needed to devise incredible technical hacks just to get his ideas working on the frustratingly limited (yet wildly malleable) hardware.

Loading the data in the background was a challenge, and I could not figure how how to get the Amiga filesystem layer (AmigaDOS) to load data without pausing the program. So instead, I cheated: instead of writing out the terrain as files on disk, I wrote them directly to the floppy tracks as raw data blocks. I could then use the low-level floppy device driver to load the data in the background while the game was running.

This meant that when you put the Faery Tale disk into the computer and listed the files on it, all you would see was a few files needed to ‘bootstrap’ the game — most of the game content was hidden from view.

His game, Faery Tale Adventure, is an essential minor classic of the 16-bit era. It's offbeat and seems superficially rough-edged compared to the arty tours de force that would define the Amiga when it had to compete with Japanese consoles, but has a dedicated fanbase to this day, because it has soul. One of the counterintuitive lessons that we can draw from Joiner's retrospective is that a lot of one-person indie game devs would benefit from not trying to do everything themselves. Read the rest

Monopoly: Cheaters Edition is indicative of our times

"A recent study conducted by Hasbro revealed that nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games, so in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they've been craving all along - a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of Hasbro gaming told Insider.

The object of the game is still to be the player with the most money at the game's end, but it may be a little tougher to accomplish. The Cheater's Edition will ask players to get away with cheating as many times as they can during game play. That means players can skip spaces, try to avoid paying rent, and slip a few extra bills from the bank when no one's looking.

Yes, it comes with handcuffs too. Read the rest

Video game legend thrown out the record books after times found to be impossible

Game over: Todd Rogers, longtime holder of countless videogame speed-run records, is being removed from the record tables after "the body of evidence" weighed strongly against the credibility of his claimed times.

Player Todd Rogers has been stripped of his world record for finishing the simple Atari 2600 racing game Dragster, after months of debate over his completion time. ...Yet Rogers never provided recorded or other proof of his 5.51 time in Dragster, a sticking point in the years that followed. His personal website offered a simple explanation of how he achieved his unbeatable time, while maintaining that Activision’s certification of his time — highlighted in one of the company’s newsletters — was enough to cement his place on the gaming leaderboards.

Yet when Twin Galaxies introduced a new process for disputing scores in July 2017, Rogers’ time in Dragster was one of the first to be challenged. In August 2017, several community members submitted Rogers’ 5.51-second Dragster finish for review. A thread on the Twin Galaxies’ forum about how Rodgers’ Dragster time was technically impossible ran for nearly 300 pages and included almost 3,000 posts

The Dragster record imbroglio not only puts all of Rogers' times out of play, but implied that folks at Activision and Twin Galaxies responsible for verifying times were negligent or complicit. Rogers was also banned from the Twin Galaxies site.

Previously: Video game record-setter accused of cheating Read the rest

Video game record-setter accused of cheating

Todd Rogers is one of the few people genuinely famous for their mastery of video games, holding numerous high-score records and scoring merchandising deals. But it turns out that at least some of his achievements are technically impossible, now that it's easy to decompile old games and look at the code. So how did he do it? [via]

The video above breaks down the case against him; cited is this thread at the Atari Age forums.

[Regarding the Atari game] Barnstorming (2600): Todd's record, which stood for many years, was proven to be impossible once we broke down the game code and stripped the stage of any obstacles. With the stage completely blank, flying a straight line to the finish was slower than Todd's record. When we presented this evidence, we were attacked by fans and supporters of Todd, and eventually an excuse was cooked up that I lovingly refer to as "the coffee stain excuse". Yes, after being attacked and told we were clueless about how good Todd was, one of the referees covered for him and claimed the 'document' detailing his record had a coffee stain on the part where the record time was listed. Instead of throwing the record out and forcing Todd to do a legit one on video tape, they just simply adjusted the record to be MAYBE possible by adding a half-second to the time.

More from Heather Alexandra, writing last year, when Rogers' Dragster time was first publicly challenged in a major outlet. Read the rest

TWANG! A one-dimensional dungeon-crawler that uses a springy doorstop as a controller

Robin Baumgarten's Line Wobbler is an incredibly clever dungeon crawler game based on a single, one-dimensional line of lights, traditionally implemented as large-scale, high-priced public art installations. Read the rest

Seedship: a text-adventure generation-ship game

In Seedship (previously), you play a colony ship's AI, piloting a thousand hibernating colonists through unimaginably vast stretches of space, scanning candidate planets and deciding whether or not to found a colony there. Read the rest

Silverybield Foss, a tiny game with a terrific ending

Silverybield Foss is a simple, very low-fi walking simulator by Twisted Tree (of Proteus fame) that knows where you're going. You'll arrive (using arrow keys) in just a few minutes.
The location is loosely based on Carlingill in the Howgill Fells in Cumbria, UK. The name "Silverybield" comes from the (unrelated) location in this news story, which I felt was too nice a word not to use. Bield is an old dialect word for shelter. Foss is the Old Norse word for waterfall, usually found as "force" in place names. You can read more about Cumbrian toponyms here.

If you get snagged between two locations flipping between one another, trying moving right instead of up. Read the rest

Yuzu emulates Nintendo's Switch

Yuzu is an experimental emulator for Nintendo's Switch console. No, it does not run commercial games.
It is written in C++ with portability in mind, with builds actively maintained for Windows, Linux and macOS. The emulator is currently only useful for homebrew development and research purposes. yuzu only emulates a subset of Switch hardware and therefore is generally only useful for running/debugging homebrew applications. At this time, yuzu does not run any commercial Switch games. yuzu can boot some games, to varying degrees of success, but does not implement any of the necessary GPU features to render 3D graphics.
Read the rest

A Monster Manual-inspired zine and art show

Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles's best comics shop (previously, has published "Monster Manual," a limited-run, 64-page zine collecting the art from their show of the same name, in which artists were challenged to create their own rue and satirical entries for a notional Dungeons and Dragons bestiary from an alternate timeline. Read the rest

How do you play this boardgame from 375 C.E.

This board game was found in Poprad, Slovakia inside a German prince's tomb that dates to 375 C.E. Now, researchers at Switzerland's Museum of Games are trying to figure out how to play it. From Smithsonian:

It’s likely the board is designed to play Latrunculi or Ludus latrunculorum, which translates as “Mercenaries” or the “Game of Brigands” or some variant. That game was originally derived from an ancient Greek game called petteia which is referenced in the works of Homer. There are a handful of vague descriptions of how the game was played in ancient sources, but researchers have not successfully figured out the complete set of rules so far, though many gamers have come up with their own guesses.

“There were plenty of board games in ancient times with many variants, but reconstructing the playing technique is a very complicated process that only top experts can solve,” Karol Pieta, the archaeologist in charge of the dig, tells the Spectator.

"Researchers Are Trying to Figure Out How to Play This Ancient Roman Board Game" (Smithsonian) Read the rest

The hidden gems of game platform Steam

Steam 250 lists the best-rated games ever on Steam, but its hidden gems page lists uses an absolute weighting that exposes little-played titles with few negative votes. First impression: bullet hell shooter fans know what they want, and they get it. Pictured here is Yorkshire Gubbins, the 25th-best-rated game on Steam, "a collection of incomprehensibly daft comedy adventures" set in the climate-challenged English county of that name. Read the rest

Snakes and Ladders can be analyzed by converting it to a Markov Chain

University of Washington data scientist Jake Vanderplas found himself trapped in an interminable series of Snakes and Ladders (AKA Chutes and Ladders) with his four-year-old and found himself thinking of how he could write a Python program to simulate and solve the game. Read the rest

The Polak Game: an exercise to help reveal your theories of the future

Dutch sociologist and Holocaust survivor Frederik Lodewijk Polak's massive future studies text The Image of the Future makes a bold statement about optimism and pessimism, creating four categories of belief about the future, divided on two axes: things are improving/worsening; and people can/can't do something about the future. Read the rest

The internal economics of a popular Minecraft server are an object lesson in everything great and terrible about markets

Alice Maz was part of a small group of players who came to have near-total mastery over the internal economy of a popular Minecraft; Maz describes how her early fascination with the mechanics of complex multiplayer games carried over into an interest in economics and games, and that let her become a virtuoso player, and brilliant thinker, about games and economics. Read the rest

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