Electric Dreams, Part 2: Optimists At Heart

By Michael Cook on February 27th, 2015.

“There’s an undiscovered country of possibilities out there that we need to explore and create.”

It’s Monday morning on the first day of Dagstuhl Seminar 15051: “Artificial and Computational Intelligence in Games: Integration” and Michael Mateas is talking about impossible games. You might remember Mateas from the first Electric Dreams article – he was one of the scientific researchers behind Facade, a groundbreaking games experiment in interactive drama and artificial intelligence. Nowadays he runs the Expressive Intelligence Studio at UC Santa Cruz, a nexus of the world’s best and soon-to-be-best games researchers. This January around fifty games researchers, including Michael and myself, came together in Germany for a week to talk about the future of our field and to work together to discuss some of the biggest research questions we’re facing right now.

Last time on Electric Dreams we talked about the history of artificial intelligence in the games industry. In this second part I want to talk about the present day, and what scientific research has to do with all of this. I’m going to try to shed some light on why I think games research is broken and not benefitting games as well as it could be – but I also want to end on a positive note, and introduce you to the wonderful people and research that is going on right now around the world.

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Video: File System Aging – 1. Defragmentation

By RPS on February 27th, 2015.

Hey come watch Rab Florence’s new weekly video series for us.

Rab Florence digs deep for beautiful PC gaming memories before they’re lost forever in this affectionate series about games, time and life.

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The Flare Path: Draftees And Deserters

By Tim Stone on February 27th, 2015.

Keeping tabs on all 238 of the world’s active vehicle sim projects week in, week out is an exhausting and expensive business. Why, just yesterday an overworked FP staffer fell asleep at his post, crashing a £12,000 recon drone into The Motherland Calls‘ cavernous cake-hole. It would make life a lot easier for us if there was just one sim – a globe-spanning, multi-discipline jack-of-all-transport. Most of the bleary-eyed blog watchers and forum combers in the FP office think that super-sim should have Outerra at its core. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why You Don’t Need Multiple Graphics Cards

By Jeremy Laird on February 26th, 2015.

Stop that. It's silly

Apparently contrary forces, but suddenly complimentary. Are AMD and Nvidia about to become the yin and yang of the PC gaming world? Possibly. Rumour has it graphicsy bits of that DirectX 12 thing that arrives with Windows 10 will allow for asynchronous multi-GPU (graphics processing unit). In other words, you’ll be able to use AMD and Nvidia cards in the same rig at the same time to make games run faster. As rumours go, this is pretty spectacular. But it does rather remind me. Multi-GPU is basically a bad idea. Here’s why.
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Impressions: Oscura – Lost Light

By John Walker on February 26th, 2015.

Every now and then, like for instance whenever we communicate, Kieron Gillen and I disagree about things. One of the things we both think the other is most wrong about is Limbo. Kieron wrongly thinks it’s an unfair game, echoing the failings of Rick Dangerous and its ilk by forcing you to fail. I rightly think it was a statement, an expression through these enforced failures, that crafts a uniquely interesting experience. Oscura [Steam link], despite trying to be a lot like Limbo, is not doing that. It’s doing Kieron’s thing.

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Early Impressions: Rimworld

By Alec Meer on February 26th, 2015.

The last few times we looked at top-down sci-fi survival-strategy (is that a thing? Genres are becoming so tricky lately) Rimworld it was merely flirting with the idea of being genuinely playable, but recent buzz had it that the Rimworld was now inhabitable at last. It doesn’t take much to convince me to starve to death on an alien world, so I thought I’d check in.
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Dote Night: SpectateFaker And Riot’s Jibber Jabber

By Philippa Warr on February 25th, 2015.


Screengrab via SpectateFaker stream

Evening all! This edition of Dote Night is about the current content rights argument going on in League of Legends. It revolves around SpectateFaker a Twitch channel set up to stream games featuring the professional player Faker. The channel has been subject to a DMCA takedown order from rival streaming service Azubu and the ensuing argument taps into how streamers can use intellectual property. Here’s a summary of what’s going on and why it’s important.

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Klick Klick Klicking In Kim Kardashian: Hollywood

By Philippa Warr on February 25th, 2015.

KIM KARDASHIAN!

A recent Twitter meme had people posting their gaming confessions. In a rare fit of “joining in” I posted mine: I didn’t like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

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Wot I Think: Homeworld Remastered Collection

By Alec Meer on February 25th, 2015.

Disclaimer: I played Relic’s space strategy game Homeworld [official site] when it first released (because of course I did), but unlike many of its fans I didn’t continue to live and breathe it, so I am simply not your guy to get into the fine detail of how the new version does or doesn’t differ from the original. I’m sure other places and even our own comments section will provide that stuff, but this piece is essentially looking at whether the Homeworld games, newly remastered by Gearbox, still hold up today. I should also note that I’m discussing this as an overall package rather than comparing the two games within it to each other.

Two questions:
1) Is it pretty enough?
2) Is it still any good?
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Cardboard Children – On Dungeons & Dragons

By Robert Florence on February 24th, 2015.

Hello youse.

Where would we be without Dungeons & Dragons? A few days ago I ran a live session of 5th Edition D&D at Glasgow Film Festival, and it was a really fun experience. I’ll be talking about that session in some detail next week when I review 5th Edition itself, but let’s spend this week just reminiscing about Dungeons & Dragons, and thinking about everything that Dungeons & Dragons means to people like us.

And by “people like us” I mean people who like Dungeons. And Dragons.

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Wot I Think: Hand of Fate

By Alec Meer on February 24th, 2015.

uh, you really should learn how to fast shuffle, dude

Hand of Fate [official site] is a CCG/roguelite in which a masked, magical figure challenges you to play an increasingly deadly card game against him, switching to high-speed, stabby third-person combat whenever you get into a fight. It’s out now.

The reason I so often want to play boardgames despite having a hard drive full of more videogames than I could ever hope to complete isn’t simply because occasional contact with other human beings is unfortunately necessary in order to remember how to talk. It’s because having an opponent who voices their frustration and exhilaration as the game goes for or against them makes it seem so much more than it is. It becomes a true contest, its cards and dice these physical extensions of your will to defeat another lifeform. Videogames, usually, offer us the canned, meaningless soundbytes of a hundred thousand slain foes, but they don’t often offer us a single, overarching opponent who lets slip irritation or indulges in crowing. They’ll often offer us someone we want to defeat because they’re shown to do terrible things or have a skull for a face, but they very rarely offer us someone we want to defeat purely because they are our rival.
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Hands On: Hearts Of Iron IV

By Adam Smith on February 24th, 2015.

Hearts of Iron [official site] is my Moby Dick. I’ve spent an inordinate portion of my adult life playing grand strategy games, particularly those of the Paradox variety. I’m slightly unusual in that Europa Universalis wasn’t my gateway game – I entered the fold by means of the first Crusader Kings, which swiftly became one of my favourite games, despite its problems. From there I moved to Europa Universalis II and struggled to infiltrate the colonial powers of Victoria. It wasn’t until the sequel that I learned to enjoy the nineteenth century.

Hearts of Iron IV might finally bring me into the heart of the twentieth century.

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Wot I Think: Frozen Cortex

By Fraser Brown on February 24th, 2015.

Frozen Cortex [official site], formerly Frozen Endzone, is a futuristic American Football analogue where surprisingly graceful robots take the place of fleshy, armour-clad men. It’s evocative of Speedball and Blood Bowl, but it’s really Frozen Synapse wrapped in the theme of competitive team sports. The result’s a purely strategic and tactical game, entirely absent RNG, with players taking their turns simultaneously. I’m quite bad at it.

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