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Copper Dreams
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A cyberpunk RPG that dreams of rust and copper

“How would syndicates abuse their power without the oversight of a government?” asks Hannah Williams, one half of Seattle-based Whalenought Studios. That’s one of the many questions that Copper Dreams, the studio’s second RPG, looks to answer. While RPGs are often set in vast fantasy worlds, Copper Dreams‘ cyberpunk world takes place on an isolated island called Calitana. It’s a place where the uncivilized aspects of humanity can be drawn out,  where food is scarce but copper is cheap, resulting in an economy based on the metal, and a culture obsessed with technological body alterations. “We thought it would be interesting…

splash-1
News

You are evil, or A systemical approach to rethinking how evil works

People like to think of being evil as something extraordinary—we tend to think of it as extreme, or even supernatural. However, game designer and programmer Nicky Case, points out that social psychologists have repeatedly found the opposite to be true—people who we consider to be evil, are in fact incredibly ordinary. Case’s obsession with systems, which has come through in their various projects such as, Simulating The World (In Emoji) and Parable of the Polygons, is now helping us better understand the idea of evil. Case has been exploring the concept of “emergent evil” as part of their first collaboration with PBS Frontline. The basic principal of…

The-Last-Guardian-91
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Don’t worry: The Last Guardian is still coming out in 2016

When we last saw the Fumito Ueda-directed The Last Guardian, it was E3 of last year. The sun was shining, as it often is in Los Angeles, and the tweet-buzz was chirping. The long-anticipated follow-up to Ico (2001) and Shadow of the Colossus (2005) wasn’t dead after all. Prior to the surprise trailer, all that we had heard about the game was from reassuring rumor-mongering whispers, hushed reassurances from Sony that the game was not dead and gone. Now, in a cover story with Edge magazine, new details have emerged about the title, including a firmer 2016 release window (though still no…

KxW7WB
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Don’t just listen to this videogame’s music, analyze it

A Game About Conservatory is somewhere between being a game and guided meditation. It is also, I guess, music criticism, though not of the Pitchfork variety. The game does what it says on the tin. You are in a music conservatory, discussing scores, recordings, and practice with your fellow students. That said, carrying out deeply structured conversations is not the point of the game; the conversation trees often provide only one option for you to focus on. There are choices, but they are few and far between. has more to say about subjectivity than music itself Where A Game About…


Recent News

Issue 8: Virtual Reality

Check out the most recent issue of Kill Screen’s print magazine!

Virtual Reality wasn’t a new idea when Palmer Luckey emerged from his garage with the Oculus Rift. In our newest print issue, we chose to take the long view and look at where VR came from and where it’s going: from battery-powered Victorian era gloves, to the films of David Cronenberg, to the impending backlash from parents and lawmakers, and beyond.


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hyper-reality_04
News

Hyper-Reality imagines the hell of our Augmented Reality future

Augmented Reality (AR) is the mixing of the world as we know it with the digital world. Fittingly, it has long blended with videogames. In the popular rhythm game series Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA, if playing on a PlayStation Vita, the player can enable an AR Mode and carefully orchestrate where Miku and her Vocaloid pals are placed in the “real world.” But know this: Miku is not a person. She’s a purely digital pop star, and even plays live concerts as a projected hologram—what some might call the ultimate AR experience. Alongside some odds and ends in miscellaneous Nintendo 3DS…

Myst
Feature

Myst and the truth of objects

This article is part of our lead-up to Kill Screen Festival where Robyn and Rand Miller, creators of Myst, are keynote speakers. /// Your job in Myst (1993) is to assemble books. Set aside for a moment the impossible grandeur, hermetic mythos, and resonant cultural legacy of the game and this is what you’re left with—red page, blue page. Eventually there’s a white page. These pages are objects. Any decent open-world game of the last few years will allow you to cart around hundreds of pounds of literature without slowing your upswing, because in these games, the books aren’t objects.…

BKKtrainAFP
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Thailand’s military junta is distorting the videogame market

On May 22, 2014, after months of anti-government protests, the Royal Thai Armed Forces overthrew the country’s government, repealed its constitution, and established rule by military junta. It was a momentous event that flew under Western radars by dint of being the country’s 12th coup since 1932. The junta promised an eventual return to democratic rule, but on the coup’s second anniversary there is little reason to expect a handover to civilian power any time soon. All of which is to say that you have to look really hard for good news from Thailand. And Venture Beat, a reliable source…

twitter
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How Twitter bots could sway the outcome of the presidential election

n the midst of the most unprecedented election season in recent history, questioning the political power of technology is now more important than ever. Over on Wired, Samuel Wooley and Phil Howard investigated how social platform’s could be changing the course of history with propaganda bots. Elsewhere, Twitter was recently accused of purposefully pulling a trending hashtag that critiqued presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Facebook is being investigated for political bias in its trending topics. People now see that these are not just platforms, but curated and published media. And, like all published media, they come with a bias, be it…

pixelsynthlead
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Pixelsynth lets you turn your face into a song

Pixelsynth is a new web app from coder Olivia Jack that allows anyone to compose songs simply by drawing or uploading pictures. It’s available for free over on her Github, and it works by setting music to images in a method similar to a commonly used scientific and musical tool called a spectrogram. Like how sheet music is a language for representing different pitches of notes, spectrograms are visual representations of the spectrum of frequencies that make up a sound. Every song has a spectrogram that can be derived from it, and conversely, any image can be plugged into a spectrogram…

pmpy
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Push Me Pull You’s long stretch to good menu design

Spending time in menus and load screens is often tedious. It can be a time of annoyance and bored Twitter refreshing. Except when it doesn’t have to be. In a blog post from House House, the creators of the recently released competitive game Push Me Pull You, the team described their different approach for the user interface (UI) design of their game’s menus. Instead of a bland menu, House House dreamed of a practically designed UI—one that exists within its own little world. Menus that can even serve as a time for careful reflection, rather than boredom, between the quick wrestling matches of…

Nova Alea
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Nova Alea has a go at criticizing the state of urban housing

Molleindustria’s Nova Alea is a parable in search of a game. It is the story of real estate speculation, housing bubbles, and capitalism run amok. The story takes place on a chessboard—that or a graveyard for skyscrapers. Maybe both. “For its masters,” the gentle-voiced narrator intones, “the city was a matrix of financial abstractions.” Note the use of the past tense: that’s the first sign you’re inside a parable. The powers of finance are represented by a tilted pink cube—think Tony Rosenthal’s “Alamo,” but cuter—that floats above the city. More accurately, it looms, dropping capital in underdeveloped neighborhoods and hopefully…

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 17.19.46
Feature

Weekend Reading: In Cyberspace Everyone Can Hear You Shred

While we at Kill Screen love to bring you our own crop of game critique and perspective, there are many articles on games, technology, and art around the web that are worth reading and sharing. So that is why this weekly reading list exists, bringing light to some of the articles that have captured our attention, and should also capture yours. /// Virtual Reality Owes a Lot to the Air Guitar, Meghan Neal, Motherboard Some think virtual reality was created for games. That certainly was the attitude when Oculus launched their Kickstarter campaign. Others think it’s for film, and many…

Katamari Adventure
News

Katamari Damacy gets rolled up into a text adventure

Game designer Keita Takahashi’s Katamari Damacy (2004) is easily one of the most charming videogames of all-time. It had a silly premise, a colorful aesthetic, and a grin-inducing soundtrack. Katamari Damacy was like no other game in existence. An underrated aspect of it, though, is its whip-smart writing. From the bizarre story of the King of All Cosmos knocking out all of the stars in the sky after a drunken binge, to the descriptions of all the mundane items the Prince’s magical ball rolls up on Earth, Katamari Damacy’s quirky writing embellished everything else that made the game so notable.…

Imbroglio
News

Michael Brough has another tricky labyrinth for you to survive

Michael Brough excels at designing systems that are simpler than they sound—better understood through exploration than explanation—and his grid-based games keep getting smaller and more complicated. In Imbroglio, his latest, your little dungeon-crawler has two health counters in the form of hearts and diamonds. Hearts are damaged by red monsters, diamonds by the blue ones, and you can do damage to their hearts or diamonds if you’re standing on a red or blue weapon tile respectively. In some of Brough’s previous work—like 868-HACK (2013) or Zaga-33 (2012)—you gain abilities by collecting them during play, but in Imbroglio, they all start…