Taiwan's "Pokemon Grandpa" has 15 phones arrayed around his bike handlebars

70 year old Taipei fengshui master Chen San-yuan is known locally as "Pokemon Grandpa," and is a viral sensation thanks to the 15 phones he's mounted on his handlebars to help him play the 2016 augmented reality game Pokemon Go; his rig cost about $4,000 and he spends another $300/month on virtual currency to help him level up in the game. He says that playing the game keeps him socially connected and delays the onset of Alzheimer's. (Image: Reuters) (via Kottke) Read the rest

New, "unbreakable" Denuvo DRM cracked two days before its first commercial deployment

Denuvo bills itself as the best-of-breed in games DRM, the most uncrackable, tamper-proof wrapper for games companies; but its reputation tells a different story: the company's products are infamous for falling quickly to DRM crackers and for interfering with game-play until you crack the DRM off the products you buy. Read the rest

Vectorbeam Outrun

Outrun, the classic racer that blew players' minds with its huge colorful sprites, is getting an ususual port: to the monochrome vectorbeam world of the vintage Vectrex console.

Creator Chris Parsons:

A little "demo" I put together today to warm up my coding skills as I get back to developing my second full Vectrex game. I put the Pole Position overlay on at the end as it comes out clearer without it when filming. Check out my Vectrex home brew games on here and at www.vectorrepublic.co.uk

He's gotten the Ferrari, the tarmac and some roadside palms going, but it's missing other vehicles and curves: "Now, should I try to add some game in there???" Read the rest

Evolutionary Space Invaders: shoot the aliens as a genetic algorithm modifies them

InvaderZ is a Space Invaders variant that incorporates a genetic algorithm that mutates the invaders as you shoot at them, with survival for a fitness function: the longer an invader lasts before being blasted out of the sky, the more its behaviors are carried over into the next wave (here's a playable live version). (via Kottke) Read the rest

EFF's first VR app trains you to spot surveillance devices in your community

Spot the Surveillance is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's first VR app: it's part of the organization's Street-Level Surveillance, which has tracked and resisted the spread of ubiquitous surveillance tools, from license-plate cameras to Stingrays and beyond. Read the rest

First screen test of Henry Cavill in The Witcher

Cast as Geralt in the forthcoming adaptation of The Witcher, Henry Cavill seems to be undergoing an unsettling realization in his first costume test as the monster-hunting master swordsman. Here's a still frame:

I can only imagine Julian Sands checking his phone and nodding sagely and saying "Yep, I made this mistake too. This. Exact. Mistake." Read the rest

Chicagoans can actually play "Machine Learning President," the election RPG

After the 2016 elections, Scout.ai and a group of technology activists created Machine Learning President, designed for "scenario planning to game out how tech might impact future elections, as a way to think through the potential challenges and pitfalls that might eat away at democracy." Read the rest

The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games

As soon as I chanced upon The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games [Bitmap Books] today I knew what I wanted for Christmas: 460 pages of full-bleed screenshots from decades of computer gaming, with dozens of feature articles about the best and the more obscure alike.

A visual celebration of one of the most loved genres in gaming history, The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games is a sumptuous 460 page, hardback coffee table book packed with the very best pixel art and classic scenes from the most defining games of this genre. It will also contain extensive and exclusive interviews with the key developers, designers and artists behind some of the most beloved games and characters in the history of the medium. The book starts with a foreword by Gary Whitta (PC Gamer magazine/Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

The book covers titles such as King’s Quest, Myst, Toonstruck, Discworld, Blade Runner, Gabriel Knight, Flight of the Amazon Queen, Simon the Sorcerer and of course other classics, such as The Secret of Monkey Island, The Dig, Maniac Mansion and Full Throttle. All of the most famous and iconic point-and-click adventures are going to be covered, as well as some lesser-known games and home-brew efforts.

Here's an interview with the editor, Sam Dyer.

What made you focus on a specific genre this time around, as opposed to a particular console or system?

Sam: A book focussing on point-and-click adventure games has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I was surprised that not many books existed on the genre and saw an opportunity to do something.

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Kickstarting a game where you pilot mini tank-drones around a scale model of Pripyat

Isotopium is a "remote reality" game that challenges players to pilot real miniature tank-drones around a massive, super-detailed scale model of Pripyat, the Ukrainian ghost-town created by the meltdown of the nearby Chernobyl reactor. Read the rest

Shock win for youngster at Tetris World Championship

In this clip, 16-year-old Joseph Saelee defeats Tetris seven-time world champ Jonas Neubauer to become the new Tetris Tsar or whatever they call it. It's mesmerizing! Alex Walker writes:

It was a story straight out of a shonen anime: the new up and comer and the king at the top of the summit, looking down below at the competition.

The second and third game of the series also went completely to the wire. Saelee amassed a lead of more than 160,000 points at one stage by the second game, but had to tap out after things went haywire in the 27th level. Neubauer, behind in points, carried on but went 25 pieces without a long bar - and consequently couldn't get the points needed to catch up.

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Snetris is "snake + tetris"

Felipe is a Portuguese game-developer who makes fun, crowdfunded minigames; he tweeted a tantalyzing video clip showing an idea for a Snake/Tetris mashup called "Snetris," and the response was so warm and excited that he's promised to develop a playable version! Read the rest

Star Citizen's "terrifying face tracking" demonstrated

Star Citizen is a game hovering on the margins of vaporware, its scope bloated by a $150m+ crowdfunding haul, creator Chris Roberts' lack of creative discipline, and an enabling fanbase. One of the many whimsical additions bolted onto the perm-alpha release is face-tracking: what you do on camera is reflected on-screen in the facial expressions of your character. It's very Star Citizen: a technical tour de force light years ahead of what other devs are doing, but immediately and overwhelmingly unpleasant. Sleep tight!

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"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

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