Kickstarting "Florida Man," a card game from LA's wonderful Secret Headquarters

Florida Man is the inaugural kickstarter from Los Angeles's incomparable comics store Secret Headquarters (previously): it challenges players to fill in the blanks from hundreds of cards capturing actual headlines about actual Floridians, creating hilarious, Cards Against Humanity-style madlibs. $20 gets you a game (early bird, rising to $25), $50 gets you a game and expansion pack, and there are tiers with tons of swag and of course a retailer bulk-discount pack. Read the rest

The strange tale of Runescape's Communist republic

In 2007, a group of players in Runescape -- once billed as the world's most-played massively multiplayer game -- declared a Communist republic on Gielinor's Server 32, amid a revolution that saw 5,000 characters killed off in the fighting. Read the rest

Chinese censors incinerate entire run of a kickstarted Call of Cthulhu RPG sourcebook

Julio writes, "Sons of the Singularity is a small RPG publisher. Last year, they kickstarted The Sassoon Files, a sourcebook for the popular Call of Cthulhu RPG and Trail of Cthulhu RPG. As a lot of publishers, theydid the printing in China. The same day that the print was finished, a Chinese Government decided that it was "problematic", so they burned the entire print run. Targeting foreign publications is a first, specially when it seems there wasn't anything problematic (the supplement was based on Shanghai but was respetful and documented carefully). Will this be a new sign of Beijing tightening its iron grip or just a show of bravado with a small publisher used as an example?" Read the rest

Mario theme performed on violin at four levels of expertise

Level two, "Amateur", sounded so good that I suspected a joke was afoot. It was, but only the sort of joke a virtuoso like Rob Landes could pull off. Read the rest

Epic colony simulator Dwarf Fortress coming to Itch.io and Steam

Dwarf Fortress, the astonishingly elaborate and in-depth simulation of a community of dwarves settling somewhere in the middle of a vast randomly-generated world, is getting a graphical update, a price tag, and a launch date on itch.io and other game stores. The core game will remain free of charge.

The new, premium edition of Dwarf Fortress will include actual graphics for the first time. Traditionally, the game has only offered ASCII-style icons. According to an FAQ published alongside today’s announcement, the graphics will be handled by Michał “Mayday” Madej and Patrick Martin “Meph” Schroeder, two well-regarded members of the game’s modding community. Another community member, who goes by the handle Dabu, will be handling a musical score inspired by the seasons and select bits of audio.

Steam Workshop integration may be the biggest selling point here. Fans have made many mods to supplement the core Dwarf Fortress experience. One of the most popular, called Dwarf Therapist, allows you to troubleshoot individual dwarves, digging down into their wants and needs and even controlling them in ways the base game simply doesn’t allow. Many consider Dwarf Therapist and other mods essential to the gameplay experience, and Steam Workshop support will make accessing them easier than ever before.

I'd drifted away from Dwarf Fortress as its complexity became more and more forbidding from the outset, making it hard to just jump in and play it as an ASCII-tastic Dungeon Keeper. I'm not sure if I want the premium version to reveal a more approachable version of DF or act as a kind of sadistic enticement to drown as many humans as possible in the full experience. Read the rest

Clicker games honored, decried

You know that what you're playing is a little more than an attention trap devised by ironists or perhaps even psychologists, barely fun in any meaningful sense, a dopamine reward mechanism veiled only minimally in story, character, art or music. And yet you play, on an on, hour after hour.

William Hughes on the genre from hell:

There’s something extra humiliating about being addicted to a genre of games that literally started as a joke about the depths to which players might sink; the earliest examples of the genre were stuff like Progress Quest and Cow Clicker, which were meant to satirize “progress” in video games by breaking it down to its simplest mechanism: Number goes up, brain feels good. But Cow Clicker inevitably begat Cookie Clicker, which—while still a comedy game, what with its Lovecraftian horde of baking-obsessed grandmas—steered further into the compulsive cycle. And from there, a million repetitive, sleep-destroying ships were launched.

Read the rest

A brief history of the bizarre, unholy offspring of Tetris

In 1984, Alexey Pajitnov, then working for the Russian Academy of Sciences, completed his masterpiece, Tetris. It was perfection and, sadly, could only go downhill from there, as the inimitable videogamedunkey explains in this delightful video above.

Read the rest

How to build a nice fireplace in Minecraft

It's been a while since I returned to the blocky, charming world of Minecraft, but this video from 2010 is going viral and satisfies the urge. The fireplace tutorial begins about a minute in. Read the rest

DIY: Video game cartridges laser-carved in wood

“I originally only made NES/SNES cartridges out of wood. Someone kept on bugging me to make him a Soul Reaver cartridge, so I eventually made him one. This was made out walnut, cherry and poplar using a laser engraver.” Read the rest

Fly freely around the 3D worlds of your favorite (mostly Nintendo) games

noclip.website hosts the extracted levels of various classic games and a simple interface to fly freely around them.

Remember these?

(That last one is the collision map of a Dark Souls region.) Read the rest

Cheap but great JoyCon grips for the Nintendo Switch

These cheap grips make playing Mario Kart against my kid easier.

For less than $12 delivered these have improved my Switch experience. JoyCons firmly pop into these ABS grips, and while the firmness of the buttons takes a game or two to get used to, these fit my hand far better than the stand-alone JoyCon.

The button tops also help my CTS prone hands from tiring as quickly.

I find JoyCons miserably small, these grips help.

AmazonBasics Grip Kit for Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers via Amazon Read the rest

BATHDOOM: A Doom level based on a terrible bathroom remodel

For years, Something Awful forum members have reveled in user bEatmstrJ's blow-by-blow account of a terrible bathroom remodel, in which he sought to transform his bathroom "with a woman in mind" with an eye to a future home-sale ("woman play an unfair role in the home-buying process"); bEatmstrJ's saga combines terrible ideas about how a bathroom should look with total home-renovation incompetence, making it the perfect foil for Something Awful's pioneering brand of jeering insults and mayhem. Read the rest

What makes a good computer RPG

Chester Bolingbroke on the three elements that must be well-balanced to make a good computer role-playing game: breadth, depth and immersion.

Breadth refers primarily to the physical size of the game. It can be measured in dungeon squares or tiles, or in modern games the length of time it takes to travel from one end to the other. It also refers to the length of time it takes to play and win the game ...

Depth refers to the things that you find and to the things that happen within that game world. The specific elements depend on the game's genre, but for RPGs it includes things like the backstory, lore, NPCs, quests, and character development. ...

Immersion deals with the game's capacity to make you feel like you are truly "occupying" its world, and it's primarily a function of graphics and sound--although we must allow for skilled developers who can engage the player's imagination in the absence of these things, as a good author does.

This is a great way to understand the limits of modern open-world games like Skyrim and RDR. Objectively they are deep compared to older games, but their vast annd realistic breadth creates a sense of relative shallowness that limits immersion and gives the uncanny sense of being stuck in a theme park full of robots.

Pictured is the map of Fate: Gates of Dawn, a 1991 Amiga RPG that exemplifies the problem with excessive breadth. Every pixel is its own square, and you can explore it all—but every step of the way, you're trapped in a 1991 Amiga RPG. Read the rest

Zachary Knoles imagines video games as pulp novel covers

Artist Zachary Knoles created a wonderful series of illustrations that pay tribute to video games by imagining them as pulp novel covers, with the game writers' names in the by-line slots (a very nice touch indeed!). (via Gameraboy) Read the rest

Kickstarter Challenge: make an RPG-themed zine!

Inspired by the success of Judges' Guild, Kickstarter has launched Zine Quest, a challenge to crowdfund an RPG-themed zine ("must either contain an RPG or feature RPG-related content like maps, adventures, monsters, comics, articles, interviews, etc."); there's an impressive array of entrants already. Read the rest

AFL-CIO open letter to game devs: things won't get better until you unionize

In the wake of Blizzard/Activision's announcement of mass layoffs following record profits, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO has published an open letter on Kotaku addressed to workers in the notoriously abusive video game industry, calling on them to unionize as the only path to a fair deal. Read the rest

Blizzard/Activision celebrates record revenues by laying off 800 employees

Blizzard/Activision posted $7.5b in net revenues for 2018, and announced that it would lay off 800 of the employees who made those revenues possible, but fear not! The last time the company did a mass layoff (600 people in 2012), it generously rehired those people as temps, doing the same jobs for less pay, with no security or benefits. Read the rest

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