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What effect do different drugs have on the Mario Maker levels you create?

Let’s face it, Mario doesn’t make much sense. He’s an Italian plumber living in a fantasy mushroom world which is populated by living toadstools and constantly under attack from a turtle dragon. Fans usually excuse this psychedelic setting out of an appreciation for the series’ gameplay and an exhaustion with how often it’s brought up by jokesters, but that doesn’t mean the topic isn’t worthy of discussion. Many have attempted to explain Mario’s weirdness through careful dissection, but others prefer a different approach. Perhaps the series’ most iconic power-up, the super mushroom allows Mario to grow larger and take an…

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Scale is exposing the challenges of scaling videogames

Scale is a puzzle game with a straightforward elevator pitch: “You wield a device that can make any item any size.” This is a popular pitch. It earned the game $108,020 in funding from over 5,000 backers during its Kickstarter campaign. Steve Swink, Scale’s creator, subsequently created an alpha version of the game and has now written about what he’s learned in an illuminating update. Swink’s post helpfully addresses the challenges of scaling (excuse the pun) from a demo to an actual game. Things that worked in the former may not be as compelling in the latter. The growing size…

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Why is Rocket League’s jumping so much fun?

Rocket League is a game that is concerned with a great many things, but verisimilitude is most definitely not one of them. To wit, here’s an excerpt from Psyonix president Dave Hagewood’s excellent interview with Gamasutra about the game’s jumping mechanics: Designing Rocket League‘s rocket-boosting mechanic was an interesting process; because it was so much more emergent than other games that we’ve worked on. Usually, we start out with a very concrete plan of what you want to do, but in this case we really started out with just a very simple mechanic: cars that jump. We like cars that can…

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In the Game of Thrones season finale, you either win, or you respawn

Spoiler warning for everyone who is not caught up on season five /// A few episodes ago, in yet another classic Stannis-Davos argument, the false king declared his strategic position—while also basically summing up the entirety of the Game of Thrones fiction: “We march to victory, or we march to defeat. But we go forward. Only forward.” To a great extent, the forward momentum of the plot is how Game of Thrones sinks its hooks into us. As the titular allusion suggests, the fiction unfolds with the same kind of inertia as a game. The threat and possibility of winning…