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Forest of Sleep

Turning Narrative Into A Play Space With Forest Of Sleep

Proteus creator Ed Key and artist Nicolai Troshinsky of Twisted Tree Games have only talked abstractly about their upcoming experimental narrative game Forest of Sleep before. But now, a few months after its initial announcement, the pair have cut into the specifics of what they mean when citing “emergent associations” and “cinematic language.” Speaking to Gamasutra, Key revealed the process behind his effort to use procedural generation to create stories that had both drama and pacing, using only hand-made art pieces and wordless animated scenes. Crucial to this aim is the choice of influence found in late-20th century Eastern European illustration…


The Tower Inverted still looks longingly to the sky

The Tower Inverted is a game in the same way that a leisurely stroll through the park can be a game: Who knows what you’ll find? Granted, the things you’ll find in The Tower Inverted aren’t a total surprise. To wit, here’s a far from comprehensive list: conical trees, low-slung huts, glowing globes, fractured earth, and towers. So many towers. Those towers are the real attraction in The Tower Inverted. The game’s ostensible goal is to find the path to the next level, but that is hardly a challenge. “Generally,” its documentation notes, “the exit for each level can be…


A 1,500-year-old board game has been unearthed in a Chinese tomb

When one thinks of the tombs plundered by videogame heroine Lara Croft, or even legendary adventure film archaeologist Indiana Jones, untold treasures and riches typically await them. During a 2004 excavation in China of first emperor of the Qin dynasty Qin Shi Huangdi’s self-constructed, terracotta warrior guarded, 2,300-year-old tomb, various artifacts were uncovered. Though not entirely reported until a full decade later in 2014 Chinese journal Wenwu, and translated recently into English and published in the Chinese Cultural Relics journal, the surprising find of an ancient board game was uncovered. The ancient game, having been unplayed for approximately 1,500 years,…

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Welcome to the adolescence of AI

Artificial intelligence does not have the cuddliest of reputations. It is either coming for your livelihood or, if movies are to be believed, your life. Google, however, has unearthed a new problem: Its AI is too friendly—much, much too friendly. In early November, the advertising (and search, and web) giant introduced “Smart Reply,” a feature in its Inbox app that could automatically reply to basic emails. “Machine learning is used to scan emails and understand if they need replying to or not, before creating three response options,” Wired’s James Temperton explained. He continued: “An email asking about vacation plans, for…

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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Against child protagonists

Videogames don’t like people. Of that, the overwhelming amount of fantasy, war and sci-fi games, the ones set around goblins, androids and super-soldiers—the ones patently uninterested in real human beings—are proof enough. But even when games profess an interest in personhood and human experience they avoid substantive fiction. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture seems to focus on a village in England, and the relationships between the people that live there, but the people are all dead and instead of seeing them and how they interact with one another you find, merely, their ghosts and some recordings of their voices. Gone…

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Why visit your relatives when you can send them creepy robot cats?

Well, this is creepy. Toymaker Hasbro has taken it upon itself to solve the problem of senior isolation by creating “Companion Pets,” which is a less horror film way of saying “mildly robotic cats.” These cats do not even appear to occupy the uncanny valley. They look stiff and plasticky and move in about three mechanical ways. But maybe they could occupy your grandmother, and wouldn’t that be nice? At this juncture, I should clarify that “Companion Pets” is apparently not a hoax. The toy’s website includes the following statement: “HASBRO’S JOY FOR ALL is proud to support Meals on…


The Witness won’t have music, and for good reason

The use of silence can be just as important and impactful as a well-chosen or carefully crafted soundtrack. This is the gist of what Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, has to say in a new blog post on his upcoming puzzle game The Witness. According to Blow, “The Witness is a game about being perceptive: noticing subtleties in the puzzles you find, noticing details in the world around you. If we slather on a layer of music that is just arbitrarily playing, and not really coming from the world, then we’re adding a layer of stuff that works against the…


Oneohtrix Point Never talks futurism, nostalgia, and the videogame music that haunts him

A computer doesn’t forget, it deletes. Its memories do not drop off the candle’s wick. Everything discarded is done so by some purpose, the will of the user or an overloaded failure of the hardware. People’s sense of memory can be more convenient; we can amplify the emotions of one moment to captivate the entire chapter. For many, the past becomes nostalgic: it’s easier to snip out the details we’re more often consumed by in the present. Even our feelings about computers gets nostalgic. Garden of Delete, the new album from Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, doesn’t forget. It…


Push Me Pull You is the grossest couch co-op game, and I can’t wait

Delightfully repulsive couch co-op game Push Me Pull You is headed to PlayStation 4 and PC, Mac, and Linux early next year. The game pits two teams of two players each in a literal head-to-head duel, where team members control their own side of a stretchy, noodle-like body conjoined at the midsection. Both players in a team have the power to extend and contract their side of the body at will, helping to coil, twist, and worm their way around an arena (and their opponent) for control of a ball. It’s gross, hilarious, and unlike any other local multiplayer game…

Ecco the Dolphin glitch art

Ecco the Dolphin glitch art is all your vaporwave dreams come true

All images created by and belong to Sabato Visconti. /// In Sega’s absence, the 1992 undersea videogame Ecco the Dolphin has developed a perplexing life of its own. Back in 2010, musician Daniel Lopatin released a cassette tape limited to 100 copies that contained an album called “Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1.” Not only was Ecco‘s name in the title, but the tape’s artwork was a chopped-up image of the original game’s cover art (created by fantasy scene painter Boris Vallejo) as a tribute to it. As to the cassette tape itself, it contained 14 unnamed tracks of slowed down, fragmented, and…


A creator of SOMA on the surprising merit of Until Dawn

Sometimes, a big budget game comes along that, despite an almost Duke Nukem Forever-esque level of development redos and challenges, finally reaches your videogame system only to impress rather than disappoint. It’s so rare that it almost feels like magic when it happens. But the question is: how come a game like Until Dawn—originally created for the PS3 and with the expressed intent of tricking you into believing Playstation Move wasn’t useless—transforms into a beautiful butterfly while games like Duke Nukem Forever turn into steaming piles of shit? It must be those fickle videogame gods at it again, arbitrarily deciding who goes to heaven and who is Duke Nukem Forever. Of course that isn’t…

A Series of Gunshots

A Series of Gunshots calls out senseless gun violence in games

In the narrowest of senses, Pippin Barr’s A Series of Gunshots is a shoot ‘em up. All you do is fire a gun. The game has no other mechanics or activities. It is, however, the farthest thing possible from a traditional shoot ‘em up. A Series of Gunshots is composed of a series of gunshots. Who’d have thought it? The game consists of a series of black and white scenes. No humans can be seen. Do they even exist in this world? Press a key—any key other than spacebar. A gun goes off. The shot is heard. A window in…


The story behind Downwell, one of this year’s most delightful surprises

Downwell might be a perfect game title. Not only is it short and pithy, but it serves as a perfect summation for what developer Ojiro Fumoto has created. It’s a game in which a young boy is continuously falling down a well, avoiding enemies and purchasing upgrades along the way. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Armed with Gunboots firing from his feet, the boy is able to defend himself during his descent. The result is the type of sweat-inducing adventure that threatens to do water damage to your smartphone or controller, a game whose red and white character models…

Drift Stage OST vinyl

Drift Stage’s soundtrack is being pressed onto a car-shaped vinyl

When Patrick McDermott of LA-based label Ghost Ramp first told me that two tracks from Drift Stage‘s soundtrack would be available on a car-shaped vinyl I didn’t fully grasp the idea. It’s to be a “shaped picture disc 7″ that’s the shape of one of the race cars from the game,” he said to me eagerly. Cool, I thought. That was it. I thought it was cool. But then I saw it and I realized the full implication of what he had originally told me. You can see the vinyl and its cover pictured above. Yes, we’re talking about a vinyl that’s…