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The Botanist
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The Botanist aims to bring people together through gardening

One night, James Biddulph couldn’t sleep, so he got up and made a quick garden generator on his computer. It worked by having you type in a word from which an abstract-looking plant would grow. He did this as the idea of having a garden has been his motivation in recent months. Biddulph is anticipating a move from a flat in the city to a house surrounded by a little more greenery with his fiancee. He can’t wait. “Most of us spend a lot of time in cities, offices, busy, urban environments, pretty stressed out most of the time too,” Biddulph…

BOTOLO
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BOTOLO doesn’t want to be like other competitive videogames

Ian Snyder is responsible for making one of my favorite games of 2014: The Floor is Jelly, a side-scrolling platformer that makes jumping more playful than ever. So many game makers try to reinvent the platformer by tweaking the jump—the distance, the speed, or the friction perhaps. But Snyder went another way and changed the world around the jump. It worked wonderfully. For his next game, Snyder has taken this same unique, if simple, approach to exploring a new avenue in an established genre, and applied it to competitive multiplayer games. Called BOTOLO, it’s due out for Windows and Mac on December 15th.…

ephemera-3
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Memories of a failing relationship are made beautiful in Ephemera

Plenty of things in life have expiration dates: cartons of milk, your passport, antiperspirants. After a week in the fridge, you should really retire that open bottle of wine. Relationships, on the other hand, don’t usually come marked with an end date. You might see the end coming from a ways away, but the ‘when’ is, in most cases, unclear. Not so in Ephemera (French: Les éphémères), a new narrative experience currently in development by Interim Studio. Designed by Lazlo Bonin and animated by Jazz Eladas, Ephemera is a “notgame” in which you have one fleeting summer to spend with your love…

Vane
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Oh yes, there’s a storm coming alright, and it’s called Vane

It’s been a while since we’ve had any news about Vane, a game that has defined itself by a kid running across a stormy desert, ancient temples, and a crow flying overhead. That changed on Saturday night as, during the PlayStation Experience in LA, a new trailer was released for the game, and it shows off some new sights at last (still lots of desert, mind you). It’s also been confirmed for PlayStation 4 in 2017. Friend and Foe, the Tokyo-based creators of Vane, also put out some new descriptions of the game, updating the ones from 2014. That seems to…


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Issue 10

Issue 10 is out now!

Kill Screen Issue 10 has arrived! Inside you’ll find features on Vlambeer’s globetrotting Rami Ismail, gay sex game designer Robert Yang, and more, as well as a field guide to appreciating modern pixel art, a deep dive into the player-game relationship, and an extensive reevaluation of the much-maligned Wii Music. Also: the definitive ranking of videogame dogs, the legacy of Lisa Frank, and a look at Gaspar Noe’s cinema of excess.


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Drones
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A videogame about surveillance that’s designed to be hacked

The popularity of hacking fantasies today has more in common with a legend like Robin Hood than what might be immediately apparent. In both cases, one of society’s underdogs has found a way to cheat the systems upheld by authorities and turn them on their head—either through stealing money or hacking into computers. The technology and techniques have changed over the years but not the underlying desire. It’s only one strand of evidence that suggests cheating is an integral part of the human condition. This is something that Damien, the disabled dad and husband behind Sheffield-based game studio Ninja in A…

A Normal Lost Phone
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A Normal Lost Phone aims to find the personal stories in our digital lives

If you’re trying to reach as many people as possible with a game it makes sense that you use an interface they’re already familiar with. Rather than requiring players to learn the ins-and-outs of a new interface it’s probably easier to use one that already exists in their daily life. This is part of the reasoning why Accidental Queens, a three-woman team based in France, chose to give players a convincing recreation of a smartphone to interact with their story in A Normal Lost Phone. The idea in the game is to explore a teenager’s life through their mobile phone, digging through the secrets left…

ultima online second age (UK)
Feature

Tech Heroes Save Old Game Worlds from Extinction

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. When game servers are turned off, massively multiplayer online communities can come crashing down. Now, however, fans can take matters into their own hands using technologies like cloud computing. The YouTuber A. Kaiser’s career as a Jedi would soon be over. He had played the massively multiplayer online game (MMO) Star Wars Galaxies (2003) for eight years. Now that the game was closing, he could think of no better way to spend his final day in the world than among friends. A flock of players were standing around in Tatooine,…

Wunderdoktor
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Wunderdoktor has the most bizarre illnesses to show you

In 2014, German game maker Konstantin Kopka released a small game about “looking beneath the surface of serious medical conditions” called Wunderheilung. It had you diagnosing both a bird-person and a strange gentleman with a magnifying glass, searching for the symptoms of their maladies, and then curing them with your cursor. What stuck out about the game is how it used a mundane job to offer a window into its bizarre world. Made in only 48 hours, the slew of positive attention that Wunderheilung managed to attract took Kopka by surprise, and it encouraged him to turn it into a bigger project.…

Burnt Matches
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Pippin Barr’s new game brings concrete poetry to life

Concrete poetry is the method of using a poem’s shape or visual arrangement to convey meaning or, at least, to form an image relevant to the poem’s themes. A famous example is Silencio (1954) by Eugen Gomringer, which repeats the world “silencio” (silence) 14 times to form a square block with a void at its center—the block evoking ideas of silence as an oppressive tool, but the emptiness in the middle also read by some as a form of peace. Pippin Barr uses the technique in his new Twine game Burnt Matches but expands on its utility through the use of…

rocket-league-3
Feature

5 Tips for Finding Success as an Indie Game Developer

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. While being an indie designer remains a gamble, experts prove the right tools and mindset can make a difference. The car-soccer game Rocket League’s beta version launched in April 2015 with low expectations. Rocket League was a seemingly ill-fated sequel to a title that developer Psyonix released seven years earlier  —  the unruly titled, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (2008), which had limited success. To prepare for Rocket League, Psyonix had its servers ready to handle up to 10,000 online players simultaneously. But when 180,000 joined the game, their servers…

One Eyed Kutkh
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Puppet show based on Siberian fairy tales becomes a videogame

One Eyed Kutkh is to be a videogame that imagines how the fairy tales of eastern Siberia would turn out if they were about space travel. It follows the titular traveler from outer space—a one-eyed alien, basically—as they try to make their way home, but end up lost on Earth. According to the game’s description, to return to his journey, the traveler needs “to get to ninth heaven, deceive the Sun and the Moon and steal their space-boats.” This is something he’ll manage to do with the help of the indigenous people of the area. The story is a delicate…

Goodnight Traffic City
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Goodnight Traffic City seeks a truer reflection of living with health issues

The message of the “Everyday” exhibition currently on display at La Mama Galleria, New York until December 10th is that “AIDS is EVERYDAY.” The art and ephemera produced for the gallery is all a reminder of this—that until there is a cure, and the infrastructure exists to distribute it to those who need it, there are people who must live with HIV and AIDS as part of their daily life. Visual AIDS produced the exhibition, curated by Jean Carlomusto, Alexandra Juhasz and Hugh Ryan, who selected Babycastles to produce new, exclusive artworks. That involved pairing up various artists, including game maker and…

ocean
News

New platformer wants you to know the environment is screwed

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Even the Ocean (Windows, Mac) BY ANALGESIC PRODUCTIONS Even the Ocean is a warning. It’s a game that wants to raise awareness of the human impact on the environment and for its players to spread its message. Its fictional world needs to be balanced by light and dark energies, and due to an imbalance brought about by power-hungry politicians, that world is accelerating towards its end. You play a power plant engineer who is tasked with trying to restore the balance and hopefully saving the world.…

Soul Searching
News

Fleeing the conflicts in Turkey and the personal game about it

“Making Soul Searching has been a way for me to make sense of what’s happening,” Turkish game maker Talha Kaya told me. He’s talking about his latest videogame, his biggest to date, which explores the theme of leaving your homeland and parents behind—a journey that’s inspired by the real-life drama of Kaya’s personal life. As Kaya described it, the situation in Turkey has been getting more and more depressing over the past 10 years. He told me that the nation is fighting with itself and, not so dissimilar to the perceived future of America, has a government that empowers the…