A "brief history" of cheating at video games

Back in the day, I had a Datel Action Replay wedged into my Commodore Amiga. More than just a cheat device, it let you peek into all the internal goings-on of a game, manipulating content as well as a few select variables, scrambling the reality so carefully devised by the developers and artists. But, let's face it, more life, father, was where it was at. Engadget's Andrew Tarantola offers a brief history of video game cheating.

As far back as the Commodore 64 era, players themselves used POKES to access the contents of a game's specific memory cell before loading the program. The Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC all allowed POKES. Doing so allowed players to edit various values and, if done properly, boost their stats, impart damage immunity or otherwise modify how the game played. For example, using "POKE 755, 4" on an Atari 8-bit system instructs the graphics card to invert all on-screen text. Of course, finding the right memory cell was a hit-or-miss endeavor. Just as often as you'd find a POKE that boosts your characters powers, you'd find one that imparts the same stat boost to your enemies.

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Microsoft releasing new edition of Flight Simulator

After five years without an update, MS Flight Simulator is getting refreshed. The XBox exclusive was demoed at the E3 trade show Sunday. Some of the scenes are spectacularly realistic. I would have been unable to tell it was video of a simulation when I was a kid, playing stuff like F-18 Interceptor and Falcon. This makes it both more intense (because I can experience a more perfect replacement for reality) and less impressive (because I'm no longer afflicted with the xennial awe derived from comparing the quality of a simulation to the simulator's known technical limitations). Read the rest

Baldur's Gate 3 announced

It's been 24 years since Black Isle got to work on Baldur's Gate, the classic computer RPG that melded AD&D rules with realtime-ish gameplay to make something immersive to play and gorgeous to look at. Though often counted among the top PC games of all time, the series ground to a halt after a superior sequel, with a third title announced but lost to time, the press of other projects, and corporate bankruptcy. Come 2019:

Developed by the creators of Divinity: Original Sin 2, Baldur's Gate III is the official next adventure in the venerable Baldur's Gate series. The teaser trailer shows a return of a malevolent presence to Baldur's Gate, intent on devouring it from the inside out, corrupting everything that remains in the Forgotten Realms. The fate of the Forgotten Realms lies in your hands. Gather your party: http://baldursgate3.game

No details of the game, just a teaser setting the scene.

It's funny that my first thought on seeing this was to wonder if it will import my BG2 party! If this is all game-grandpa talk to you, the originals have already been remastered for modern machines and are still pretty good, so long as you can teach yourself to ignore the deranged hidden spreadsheet of 2nd-edition AD&D throwing all its meaningless numbers at you. Read the rest

Legendary "lost" medieval chess piece found in drawer, expected to go for £1 million at auction

A family in Edinburgh had this curious medieval chess piece, mostly tucked in a drawer, for more than 50 years since the grandfather, an antiques dealer, bought it for £5. Recently, his granddaughter had it appraised at Sotheby's where it was identified as one of the five missing pieces from the historically significant Lewis Chessmen from the late 12th/early 13th century and dug up on the Isle of Lewis in 1831. The single piece is expected to fetch £1 million at auction. The rest of the set is held by the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland. From the BBC News:

They are seen as an "important symbol of European civilisation" and have also seeped into popular culture, inspiring everything from children's show Noggin The Nog to part of the plot in Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone...

The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword and the equivalent of a rook on a modern chess board, which "has immense character and power..."

The discovery of the hoard (of pieces) remains shrouded in mystery, with stories of it being dug up by a cow grazing on sandy banks.

It is thought it was buried shortly after the objects were made, possibly by a merchant to avoid taxes after being shipwrecked, and so remained underground for 500 years.

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GameShell: hackable portable game console for indie devs and retrogame fans

The ClockworkPi Gameshell is a portable game console you make yourself, coming as a modular kit and assembling to form a GameBoy-like gadget with a quad-core CPU, 2.7-inch color display, WiFi and Bluetooth, 1GB of RAM, HDMI output and a 16GB MicroSD card holding its Linux-based OS: "a powerful computing platform that lets you begin creating immediately." Read the rest

Polymega, a retro game console for the CD-ROM generation

Unusually for retro game consoles, Polymega includes an optical drive and they offer five custom controllers to make it more fun to play games from all the old systems.

Polymega™ is a modular multi-system game console that lets you enjoy original game cartridges and CD’s for classic game consoles on your HDTV.

Polymega™ was created by a team of passionate game developers who formerly worked for Insomniac Games, Bluepoint Games, and others. The team has a diverse background and has shipped products such as AAA video games like Ratchet & Clank and Titanfall. We’ve also shipped digital storefronts like the Google Chrome Store, consumer electronics like the Vizio M-Series TVs, and TV boxes like the Roku 2, 3, and 4k. In addition to our internal team, we also have many external development partners who are listed in the About page on Polymega.com.

If you’re a person who remembers playing classic games from the 80’s and 90’s and would like to re-experience those games in a modern way on your HDTV, then Polymega™ is for you! If you’re someone who doesn’t want to spend days or weeks building and tuning an emulation PC, and wants a solution that “just works” with your original game cartridges and CD’s — this system is for you. If you have children and want to share with them the joy of playing classic games without needing them to handle cartridges or navigate clunky, unfamiliar interfaces — this is for you.

At $500 (at least for the deluxe multi-controller set) it's pretty fancy. Read the rest

2Doom: free 2D Doom demake

2Doom is a 2D demake of the classic first-person shooter Doom, featuring faithfully-drawn sprites in a side-scrolling arcade adventure. [via Rob Sheridan]

Despite its cute pixel art, prepare for an intense, violent and bloody adventure! ... You're not the hero. You're just another Marine lost on Mars in a demoniac invasion. But you know how to use a shotgun and a BFG, you've been trained for that.

Re-discover the DOOM universe in this unique tribute and discover a new part of the red planet.

Made by:

Damien Mayance (@valryon)Simon Coroller (@pluspixels)Quentin Gendre (@Enyo_) - sound designer + musicianHugo Houriez (@HhUrGzO) - 2d artist + devBenjamin Magnan (@dayster27) - 2d artist + level designer

Perfect way to start my week.

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Two procedurally-generated dog-walking simulators

The Procedurally-Generated Dog Simulator is a fun illustration of pathfinding and cellular automata. All you do is walk around a cave, being followed by a single-pixel pup who is liable to get distracted by treats or scared off by skateboarders. Once I'm bored with it, I'll be checking out Mudeford, a free dog-walking simulator in glorious full 3D. If games aren't your thing, check out dog names generated by a neural network.

Shadoopy. Dango. Ray-Bella. Figgie.

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Rogess: chess with roguelike combat

Roguelike games (previously) are "a subgenre of role-playing video game characterized by a dungeon crawl through procedurally generated levels, turn-based gameplay, tile-based graphics, and permanent death of the player character" (Wikipedia). Read the rest

Watch a year of brute force beat Arkanoid in 11 minutes

Thanks to a "the use of new strategies discovered by a brute-forcing bot," this computerized speedrun of Arkanoid (on the NES) comes in at 11 minutes and change. To be absolutely clear: this isn't a computer program playing the game; it's the hard-coded result of a computer program spending a year of CPU time brute-forcing every possible input to see which ones clear the game fastest.

Stefan Roger writes:

I've always been intrigued by brute forcing as an optimization strategy and tried to find a game where it might be possible without spending multiple lifetimes finishing it. After some research, I decided that NES Arkanoid was a good candidate.

At first glance, brute-forcing an 11-minute TAS might seem to be completely impossible, having 2^8^(60 * 60 * 11) possibilities to evaluate. But that assumes we actually want to try every combination of inputs; if we encode the rules of the game into the bot and don't bother looking for things like glitches or ACE exploits, we can actually get this into the realm of possibility. The input surface of the game is actually quite small: you only have to press left, right, and A, and never any of those at the same time. There also aren't all that many ways to bounce the ball around.

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Apple removed a teen's award-winning anti-Trump game "Bad Hombre" because they can't tell the difference between apps that criticize racism and racist apps

Bad Hombre is an award-winning satirical game created by 16-year-old Jackie George. Two days after it won the Shortly Award and was recognized in her school newsletter, Bad Hombre was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play (George notes that her town of Naples, FL is very conservative with a lot of Trump supporters and is suspicious that one of her neighbors reported the app). Read the rest

The most obscure Nintendo character

Pappy van Poodle, a character in Nintendo's Rusty's Real Deal Baseball, was so obscure no-one ever uttered its name on the Internet record despite his having an extensive in-game backstory and hand-painted media. That's zero Google or Twitter results—at least as of the publication date of Nick Robsinson's video about Pappy and the game's inventive play mechanics.

Particularly interesting (and tres Nintendo) are the game's use of "light patterns" -- user interface and narrative prompts that encourage the player to haggle with in-game merchants instead of just give Nintendo money:

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Play an early version of Minecraft in your browser

Microsoft celebrates 10 years of Minecraft by making one of the earliest functional versions available to play online in the form of classic.minecraft.net.

Ten years of creating, exploring and surviving. Ten years of mobs, mods and magnificent creations. Ten years of being consistently amazed by what you’ve built with our game. Ten years of you digging straight down despite our warnings. Ten years of being endlessly excited to see what you come up with next.

In effect, it's a simple but functional version of creative mode, and you can't save your creations. Read the rest

Microsoft Solitaire enters video game hall of fame

Included free of charge with Windows since 1990, Microsoft Solitaire has finally achieved immortality in the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

Microsoft Solitaire meets all the criteria for the World Video Game Hall of Fame: influence, longevity, geographical reach, and icon-status. And yet it is often overlooked—perhaps because it’s a digital version of a centuries-old game, and because it so common as to seem commonplace.

Other 2019 inductees include Colossal Cave Adventure, Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Kart. Read the rest

Riot Games employees walk out to protest forced arbitration for sexual harassment lawsuits

'League of Legends' developers and others at Riot Games walked out of work en masse on Monday, protesting the company's use of forced arbitration to settle sexual harassment lawsuits. Read the rest

Filmmaker promises to change live-action Sonic the Hedgehog's widely-disliked design

Reacting to a storm of derision on the internet following the release of Sonic the Hedgehog's first trailer, the filmmakers have promised to redesign the CGI title character before it hits theaters. A lot of work for the animators, and little time to complete it. Read the rest

Two 'Rubik’s Race' players compete at mind-boggling speed

Rubik's cube for two as a race. That's Rubik's Race. Read the rest

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