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Documentary outlines how Cities: Skylines is being used to plan real cities

Having enjoyed a brief sneak-peek at Austin, Texas’ SXSW art and technology festival last weekend, My Urban Playground is an upcoming documentary from game publisher Paradox Interactive that tells the story of popular city-building game, Cities: Skylines (2015), and the fans who are using it to plan real-world architecture projects. Set over the two years leading up to and following the game’s release, the documentary is planned to cover how architects, politicians, and fans of the game have come together to create new real-world building initiatives. Additionally, the film will also feature interviews with United Nations development group UN-Habitat, which helps struggling…

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The AI being forced to climb Minecraft’s highest hills

Somewhere in Microsoft’s New York offices right now, an artificial intelligence is busy repeatedly trying and failing to climb a hill in Minecraft (2011), as if a modern day reenactment of the Sisyphus myth. This AI is being watched by a team of five computer scientists, and its many deaths are being meticulously recorded. Its name is Project AIX, and it’s part of a new open source initiative from Microsoft to advance not only games, but artificial intelligence as a whole. It’s a project not dissimilar to the one going on at Germany’s University of Tübingen entitled Social Mario, the concept of which…

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How depth-sensing technology is changing videogames

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. For anyone who has tried to get down to a catchy pop song while holding a controller during a round of Just Dance, or missed a clutch tennis shot because the Wii didn’t sense the swing, hands-free depth-sensing technology is a saving grace. When players can control a game using gestures and a computer that “sees” like a human, the options become a whole lot more interesting. Enter Intel’’s RealSense camera, which allows users to do everything from change their background during a video chat to scan 3D objects. The 3D depth-sensing…

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Minecraft now has a working smartphone that can make video calls

Oh, I remember the halcyon days of 2010, don’t you? When we were all flabbergasted by some guy who had spent days and nights constructing a 1:1 scale model of Star Trek‘s Starship Enterprise. It was a one-man architectural feat and, actually, it’s as impressive today as it was five years ago. But we can now look back at this as Minecraft‘s primitive and ancient history, pretty much in the same way we do the pyramids in Giza. I don’t think that Enterprise could even take off, could it? These days we’re so used to seeing huge recreations in Minecraft…

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Minecraft is now being used to recreate impressionist paintings

Because of its nature as a sandbox game closer to LEGO than anything else, Minecraft has been used to construct entire cities from famous works of fiction, blocky versions of real-world places, and even a bipedal war robot made of slime and TNT cannons, but it isn’t unheard of to see 2D art recreated with Minecraft’s palette of colorful cubes, too. a moody, abstract work rendered in the bulky cubes of Minecraft  With the freedom of Minecraft’s Creative mode, players have made 2D art ranging from retro-style pixel art sculptures to this intricate “painting” of Kerrigan from StarCraft, which took 23 weeks and…

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Brutalism has found a second life in Minecraft

The case for preserving brutalist architecture requires some strange contortions. Defenders of gems like London’s Robin Hood Gardens or the Orange County Government Center must claim that buildings whose charms are derived from their heft and imposing strength are at risk and in need of our protection. This may be a necessary measure, but as with having your parents declared unfit to manage their affairs, it comes with a sense of loss. There are, of course, more tangible losses. In February, after a prolonged debate, the building that was once Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital was demolished to make way for…