Let’s Play Nomad X

During a ‘Let’s Play’ review of his favourite ’90s computer game, a man tells a story of heartbreak. Guiding us through the space simulator Nomad X, he offers hints and tips on gameplay, losing the love of his life … and why, yesterday, he got punched in the throat.

(via digg, which rightly compared it to “You Suck At Photoshop”)

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Birth of Man – a Minecraft feature film

Updated 7th Feb 2014

We don’t allow half a million kickstarters based on our ip without any deals in place. :/
Notch, creator of Minecraft

Tragically, it seems that Brandon Laatsch didn’t ask Mojang for permission to make his Minecraft film. The Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled, the videos that I published here have been pulled from YouTube (though the trailer can still be seen on the Kickstarter page) and there has been no word from Brandon either via Kickstarter update or his Twitter account. All a bit of a shame really, especially as the film had already raised 10% of the $600,000 required in under one day and Brandon would certainly have been able to deliver a pretty cool film.

Original post follows for context →

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Prison Architect riot
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​What to do with Prison Architect, a video game about building prisons?

Paolo Pedercini has written a thoughtful piece for Kotaku, about Prison Architect that questions some of messages arising from the game’s mechanics:

“Is it possible to create a prison management game without trivializing or misrepresenting the issue of mass incarceration? As video games mature and tackle more serious topics, players and developers should be aware of the values embedded in their systems.

“In Prison Architect brawls and riots happen all the time, sometimes as soon as the inmates enter the building. Brawls often end up with inmates laying unconscious in pools of blood, injured guards, and damaged facilities.

“Simulations need to exaggerate feedback to prompt adjustments, and I certainly don’t expect my inmates to enjoy their residency. But the continuous, frustrating, over-the-top violence suggests that we are dealing with an irrational, murderous, and suicidal horde that deserves no sympathy.”
Paolo Pedercini

Prison Architect’s producer Mark morris and designer Chris Delay responded to the article in this video.

Chris explains that the game is currently unbalanced in many ways and that rehabilitation was always intended to be a part of the ‘end game’:

“It’s probably the hardest part of the whole game design I think, and it’s certainly the part we’ve left to last to do, because you can’t do an end game until you’ve got some sort of meaningful simulation of your prisoners in jail.”

Stay tuned to the very end of the video for a little fun with one of Pedercini’s own games!

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I bought myself a copy of Prison Architect in the Steam summer sale.

Prison Architect

I think I paid £13 instead of £19, or something like that. It still seemed like a lot for game that’s early in alpha, but the reviews seemed very positive.

Thankfully it’s proved to be a great game. Admittedly I think I’ve effectively managed to beat it with only my second stab at a prison (pictured). It’s not an impressive building or anything, but I’ve had no shankings at all, no use has been made of my solitary cells and I’m earning enough money every day to extend things further.

Prison Architect

Like with Minecraft while it was in alpha, the game is mostly potential. It’s actually a lot of fun to play a game in development – each update brings you back to the game to play the new features. Minecraft is still doing that.

I also snapped up the starship strategy game FTL, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, arty explore-em-up Proteus and wilderness fantasy survival game 2 Don’t Starve, but I haven’t had a chance to play them yet.

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Prison Architect

My haul from the Steam summer sale!

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Elizabeth
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Bioshock Infinite: Creating Elizabeth

I’ve been watching a playthrough of Bioshock Infinite on YouTube because I want to experience the story without having to grind through all the looting and shooting myself. So far I can’t really see why the game got such glowing reviews – the design of the world is exceptional, but the story is no better than an average episode of Fringe. And there’s a lot of shooting.

One standout feature seems to be the companion character, Elizabeth. Of the several hours of gameplay I’ve watched, she hasn’t gotten in the way of the player once. Instead she stays well out of the line of fire and generally helps rather than hinders the player, unlike NPC companions in many other games like this.

“There’s no component of escort mission, at all. You never have to protect her, you never have to watch her health. She functions autonomously, and she’s there to help you.”
Ken Levine, Bioshock Infinite creative director

Irrational Games made a fun feature about the women who bought Elizabeth to life:

The YouTube pro-gamer →

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Bioshock Infinite art screenshot

Art dealers Cook & Decker have teamed up with Irrational Games to sell some very large and very expensive prints, each displaying art from BioShock Infinite.
Interestingly, the art isn’t taken from the game’s wonderful concept works. They’re screenshots, though the word does them a slight disservice. These are prints based on the super hi-res and rendered environments normally used for magazine screenshots, meaning you’re getting something that’ll actually stand up to closer inspection.
Art Dealer Is Selling The World’s Most Expensive Screenshots

Craft and creativity

Screenshots as art

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Life on the Internet

Indie devs release cracked version of their own game to lecture pirates

When indie developers Greenheart Games released their first title — Game Dev Tycoon (similar to Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story) — they also seeded a special version to ‘the number one torrent sharing site’ that was nearly identical to the real game, except for one detail:

“Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers. So, as players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:”

Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.

“Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt.”

Unsurprisingly, at the end of day one Greenheart Games had sold 214 copies of their game while over 3,100 users had played the cracked version. That’s 93.6% of players running the honeypot copy.

Makes me wonder what would have happened if they had released a special version that had a gentle up-sell and an option to buy the game from within the game? Can you convert more pirates with honey than with vinegar?

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Papers, Please: A dystopian document thriller

The communist state of Arstotzka has just ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin. Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and the Ministry of Admission’s primitive inspect, search, and fingerprint systems you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.

Help the creators get the game made by supporting it on Steam Greenlight.