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An artificial intelligence that makes videogames

Videogame developers may be soon be out of a job: Back in March, Ars wrote about PhD student Michael Cook and his artificial intelligence machine called Angelina. Angelina was special because she was creating games from scratch with little help from her human counterparts. By dividing the concept of a computer game up into three defined “species,” or sub-tasks—maps, layouts, and rulesets—Cook and his compatriots at Imperial College in London helped their system auto-generate some simple platformer games. A Puzzling Present is the latest example of what Angelina is capable of.  Instead of a simple platformer with maps and obstacles,…

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It was only a matter of time before the Oculus Rift got porn

Well it’s happening. Before the Oculus Rift even left development, a startup is exploring all the advantages of the device’s VR abilities. Specifically, its capability for adult entertainment.  At Sinful Robot, we are currently developing the world’s first series of fully-immersive erotic encounters. Combined with the Oculus Rift® headset, we locate you in the center of the action, the ecstatic epicenter of play. They are looking for new hires: If you know anyone who loves working on cutting edge technology and isn’t afraid of working with spicy content, please do send them to www.sinfulrobot.com. It looks like the site is only…

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Questioning religion with Walk of Faith

Walk of Faith invokes the classic problem posed to those of faith whereby they are challenged to have their god alter their situation, usually one of mortal peril. (See: all of the Bible, or Matthew 4:3). This is not much of game. It uses our expectation of interaction and accomplishment in games to play a joke on us. As gamers we expect this goal to be accomplishable, and if you believe the parameters of the game description, it is.  A two player co-op game, to be played by a person and a deity. Player one must cross the platforms, one…

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Samus’s hiatus during the N64 era may have diminished the series

I found out about Samus from Super Smash Bros. erroneously reffering to her as “he”. If I had been a little older and had seen the release of Super Metroid, I might have been able to appreciate her presence, or at least get her gender right (after so many years of calling her the wrong pronoun, I still struggle with the proper one). Nintendo has managed to succesfully transition Mario and Zelda accross platforms through the years, but the same can’t be said for Metroid. The series has all but fallen out of prominence, despite the well-received Metroid Prime, and it may…

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Why Super Hexagon and Dark Souls are kissing cousins

In a fit of excitement and foolish ambition I declared to the Kill Screen office that I would beat Super Hexagon. Our resident editor, who shares my love of Dark Souls, asked me which game I thought was harder. When I stumbled in my comparison, our publisher, whom we have been slowly indoctrinating into the Dark Souls fanclub, interrupted to point out that they both use the same principle of difficulty and the approach by which they encourage you to master it. Most games slowly get harder as you get better with mechanics. It’s known as flow. In Uncharted it…

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Is swordplay in videogames anything like the real thing?

The sword has a special allure. Who hasn’t imagined being an expert duelist or grabbed a friend and sparred with a couple of sticks?  Videogames are often the manifestations of our fantasies, an attempt to fulfill our dreams in a virtual version of a reality we wished we were capable of. They allow you to scale buildings when you have little to no upper body strength, or shoot villains with sniper rifles from miles away without much more than the knowledge of basic physics. But how accurate are these virtual representations of their real life counterparts? – – – Rick…

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Capcom to release fan-developed Mega Man fighting game for free

So what do you do if you’re Capcom and somebody makes a Mega Man–Street Fighter homage? You could: A) Do what other big companies do and leverage lawsuits to squash the release and dissemination of the game.  or B) Release the game for the creator. Generate a ton of buzz (positive instead of the negative lawsuit kind) and get people excited about your company when you are trying to release a spinoff of your flagship series. All the while endearing yourself to your fanbase. – – – Seems like B is the best choice, but that’s subjective. The game is the…

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How text based games make us examine war

There are the kind of games like Call of Duty, which do little to spark serious contemplation about morality or violence. This is the norm. Text games, however, may have a little more insight than your standard AAA fare.  Take 2007’s Rendition, whose title would not exist without the war on terror. Both the first two Modern Warfare games include “interrogation” sequences, once with a beating and once with electrodes. But where they coyly conceal the violence involved, Rendition makes you participate in awful detail. Try to leave the room and you’re told you haven’t done enough to Abdul. “Break…