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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…

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The nuclear power of Fallout’s wartime kitsch

This article is part of a collaboration between Kill Screen and Art of the Title, celebrating videogame title sequences and the artists who made them happen. “FALLOUT.” One word in block letters, set against a black background. The crackle of a needle dropping on a vinyl record starts up; a black-and-white animation emerges from the wavering void of an analog TV signal. We see propaganda broadcasts rendering the apocalypse in determinedly cheery tones. Then the camera pulls back, the TV still going, to reveal the blasted-out husk of an American metropolis. The record starts to skip on the word “maybe”…

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Smart tracking technology aims to build a road block for human trafficking

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. When their aunt was abducted and traded into a pipeline of human trafficking while crossing the Mexico-US border, sisters America and Penelope Lopez turned to Internet of Things (IoT) technology to find a way to help other women. Human trafficking is a humanitarian crisis that affects nearly 21 million adults and children worldwide, according to recent statistics from the International Labor Organization (ILO). These victims are usually coerced into forced labor or become victims of sexual exploitation. They work for non-existent or slave wages and feel trapped, with seemingly…

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How AI is shaping the future of interactive games

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. In the 2013 film Her, protagonist Theodore plays a videogame where he is surprised by a wild, swearing artificially intelligent cartoon character. The foul-mouthed little alien launches into a conversation with Theodore, remaining stubbornly unhelpful. Realizing it must be a test, Theodore curses back in a verbal brawl that ends with the alien showing him the way forward. Her is science fiction, but that human-like interactive game featured in the movie may be closer to becoming real. Created by game designer David OReilly, the Alien Child game offers a…

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I miss the summers in Japan: How videogames overcome language barriers

I sat cross legged in front of the TV and watched as Alex carefully removed the Super Nintendo from its dusty, neglected box. Our grandfather hardly used it, preferring to play Shogi on his computer instead of the console. Also stored away were a pile of games with labels we couldn’t read. The Japanese characters were printed in bold intimidating letters, with no illustrations to help guide our interpretation of what the cartridge held. He fished around for a second before grabbing the Super Mario World (1990) cartridge, blowing into it. It was a very familiar ritual, repeated during our…

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The technology behind Kubo and the Two Strings

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. A frightened woman crosses a storm-swept sea in a tiny canoe as black strands of windblown hair hit her face. Rain pours down her kimono as her fingers clutch a three-stringed Japanese shamisen. A massive wave looms over her canoe, impressing on the viewer how small and human she looks. The woman strums the shamisen, conjuring a magic flame that cuts clean through the wave. The opening scene in the stop-motion film Kubo and the Two Strings — created by animation studio Laika and released in August — demonstrates…

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The ghost of Churchill; or, how to make a wargame

“The cards I throw away are not worthy of observation or I should not discard them. It is the cards I play on which you should concentrate your attention.” – Winston Churchill, 1912, during a bridge game on the Admiralty yacht Enchantress /// Churchill: The Man Churchill has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s hard not to be wowed by the man, his tenacity, his military tactics, his signature three-piece suits.  When obstacles arise in my research or when I bump into my wargaming ex-boyfriend, I think to myself What would Churchill do? I’m not the first American to…

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The greatest technical feats in No Man’s Sky

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. A veteran explorer, low on supplies, lands on an uncharted alien planet with a cyan ocean and ruby-red grass. Enormous, dinosaur-like creatures with horns graze nearby, but at least there doesn’t appear to be any acid rain, unlike the last place. After some scavenging, the explorer hops back onto her spaceship to tackle another one of the 18 quintillion planets ahead. The space exploration game No Man’s Sky, released in August 2016, is already famous for its singularly beautiful digital world. But it’s also an unprecedented technical marvel, one…

Devil May Cry
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All hail the ultimate videogame devil

“Dull” reads the game’s judgement, punched across the top-right corner of the screen in a disappointed font. Dante throws his shoulder, thrusting his blade into the marionette a second time. “Cool!” Later, once Dante has become a proper daddy’s boy, he’ll impress the game he’s trapped inside to the highest tier of its letter-based rating system. Devil May Cry (2001) is a game in pursuit of being “Stylish!” As a theater of aesthetics, Devil May Cry cares little for anything else. The stage is an ancient castle dressed up to the nines: Gothic arches, cobwebbed corners, eerie portraits, phantom doorways.…