Editorial: Agustín Cordes Is Going To Scare You Again
Friday 07 May 2010 - 14:25:52
The lead designer and programmer behind the 2006 award-winning horror adventure game "Scratches" is preparing to make you soil yourself a second time.

Full editorial

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Super-rare Atari 2600 game available on eBay
Thursday 08 April 2010 - 13:52:56
For the rich video game collectors out there a copy of Air Raid for the Atari 2600 has shown up on eBay. Only a handful of these cartridges are known to exist and this one is complete with box making it doubly rare.

At the time of this writing it can be yours for the low price of $12,700. Bet you didn't think video games could be worth that much.

Auction on eBay

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University students in one class are earning experience points instead of letter grades
Monday 22 March 2010 - 07:09:25
Lee Sheldon, an assistant professor at Indiana University, has decided to make the grading scheme for his class like an MMO. Students start with zero experience points (equivalent to an F) and earn them throughout the semester by taking exams (which he calls "fighting monsters") and doing homework (which he calls "crafting"), etc.

He claims that this has helped to get his students far more motivated than when he uses traditional assessment methods. The thing that confuses me is that the differences sound purely semantic. This still sounds exactly like traditional methods but with things simply renamed. Additionally, this idea introduces a cultural bias to the grading. Someone who is not a gamer may easily be confused by all of these gamer terms used in the class.

I wonder if students are more motivated simply based on the fact that he gives more continuous and explicit feedback on their grading progress than typical professors. I suspect that re-theming the grading as an MMO may actually have very little to do with it.

Full story at Yahoo Games

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Editorial: Dungeons & Dragons Defended
Wednesday 10 March 2010 - 17:02:39
The Winter 1994 edition of Skeptical Inquirer magazine talks about RPGs and the bad name they get in the press

Full editorial

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Robotic Rubik's Cube solver
Monday 08 March 2010 - 07:54:57
Mike Dobson decided that he would make a robot entirely out of Lego Mindstorm parts that would be capable of solving a Rubik's cube. Pretty neat idea. The video shows the robot solving a "totally random" cube in just over 10 seconds. For comparison, the current world record for a human solve is just over 7 seconds.

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Ubisoft discusses their PC games' new online-required DRM
Friday 19 February 2010 - 10:25:30
A spokesperson for Ubisoft discusses their new mandate to incorporate online DRM into all of their PC games. The idea is that you must have a working internet connection to start a game and to continue playing it. So if your internet connection dies mid-game, so will your game.

To be fair, there seems to be some perks as well. You no longer need to have a disc in your drive. They also store your savegames on their servers. So no more hard drive crashes completely derailing your progress in a game.

Full interview at PC Gamer

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Demo and explanation of the tech and business model behind OnLive
Wednesday 27 January 2010 - 14:39:59
A few months ago we mentioned a new cloud video gaming service that was being rolled out called OnLive. At the time, the details were pretty sparse, but some representatives from OnLive recently put on a presentation explaining in detail the technology and business model they are planning to use to make OnLive work. They provided a full demo of the service as well as a Q&A session.

After seeing the presentation I must say that they are doing some really cool stuff over there and seem to really know what they're talking about. They've got guys on staff that developed the original QuickTime video compression algorithms. They've also got most of the major game publishers on board. I think this has the potential to be very big and my skepticism is slowly fading. Check it out!

The rest of the presentation on YouTube:

Part 2 of 5
Part 3 of 5
Part 4 of 5
Part 5 of 5

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Gamer Suing Sony for Discrimination Against the Visually Impaired
Tuesday 10 November 2009 - 09:00:28
Alexander Stern is suing Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) saying that they have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to implement features that make their games accessible to visually impaired gamers.

I'm honestly not quite sure what to think about this. The Act does say that no one can be denied on the basis of disability the full and equal enjoyment of goods and services - and that includes recreational goods and services. I'm all for that, but at the same time, I'm not sure that this is what the act was referring to. Does this mean deaf people can sue theatre groups around the country if they don't have someone doing a sign language translation of the play? Or that blind people can sue museums and art galleries that don't offer audio tours?

Full article at Gamespot

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Past the Uncanny Valley
Wednesday 21 October 2009 - 08:29:11
I've mentioned the Uncanny Valley of computer graphics in the past. Well, it now looks like we may be on the brink of getting out onto the other side of the valley. Here is video footage from a TED talk showing off some amazing new facial animation technology.

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Calling all aspiring tabletop game designers and fans of indie game development
Friday 16 October 2009 - 08:02:16
I'm going out on a limb here and saying that this idea should be filed under "Awesome".

The Game Crafter is a new print-on-demand tabletop game service that was launched a few months ago. The idea is that independent tabletop game designers can upload their rules and artwork to The Game Crafter along with a list of other desired components (pawns, dice, wooden cubes, etc.). Then, they can sell their game through The Game Crafter's website. No games are produced until games are ordered. So, there is no setup cost to the designer. Royalties are collected per copy sold.

The designer retains full rights to their game and can purchase their own game at cost, so this makes The Game Crafter a great option for prototyping games. If you decide to make changes during playtesting it's simply a matter of uploading new rules or artwork. If your game is ever picked up by a major publisher, you can simply stop selling it through The Game Crafter.

Non-designers can also find some unique games here to stock their shelves. I'm thinking about picking up an interesting looking game they have called Soaps where you manage a soap opera and all the crazy drama that goes on in typical soaps.

I've had ideas for game designs in the past, but I never moved on them because of the work and cost involved. This idea has gotten me excited about game design again, though. So, I may just have to block out some time to work on something...

The Game Crafter website

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