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The Year in Space

“Why Is NASA Exploring Pluto? NASA sends spacecraft to other planets because exploring space is exciting.” NASA Educational Technology Services, 2015 The Sputnik Planum, Pluto It emerges out of the ancient, cratered highland of the Viking Terra like a great lake, rippled with vast waves and sectioned into polygonal pools. It is of course, exceptionally dry, though hills of water ice rise up in aligned ripples like the rake marks of a zen garden. It is young, at least comparatively so, like the cheeks of a child yet to be marked with the scars and pockmarks that life accrues. Its…

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Star Citizen’s crowdfunding campaign now exceeds the GNP of Tuvalu

Star Citizen, the spiritual successor to Wing Commander, continues to inhale gobs of cash from the crowd, recently breaking the $47 million dollar mark, which is nuts. Passing this milestone gives players the added feature of engine tuning, allowing them to tinker around under the hood of their ship. If (when) this reaches $49 million, the devs will add a rare species of space plant, which blooms one night every 100 years. It sounds like they are running thin on stretch goals.  For the record, this puts the budget for a game about spaceships shooting other spaceships far above the…

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Star Citizen dev imagines a world where console and PC players hold hands

That is the idealistic gaming worldview of Chris Roberts, creative lead of Star Citizen, the space sim that has raked in ungodly gobs of cash.  “We want to be open and have everyone play in the same universe,” he says in the latest issue of Game Informer. He goes on to explain how console players play on console servers and PC players play on PC servers, creating a situation where PC players get all the awesome updates.  But Roberts sees no difference between modern powerful consoles and gaming computers, and says it doesn’t has to be this way. They should…

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New PBS/Game Show asks if indie games are bigger than indie

Indie games are huge. I don’t know the exact percentage of games we cover nowadays but I’d wager if you ran some analytics the indies would outnumber the big boys by 10 to 1. They’re so predominant, so diverse, and so businesslike that the idea of indie games is quite nebulous. Sometimes we talk around the office about if there really is a difference between giant studios and garage developers in the current landscape where games like Minecraft outsell Call of Duty and crowdfunding can raise excessive gobs of cash. (Star Citizen, we’re looking at you.)  In this week’s episode,…

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A room full of rowdy people getting hype for Star Citizen’s in-game footage

Star Citizen is quickly becoming something of a big deal. Sure, the $41 million raised is impressive, for a crowdfunding campaign. But what finally convinced me that this spiritual salute to Wing Commander has escaped the echo chamber of the Internet into broader culture was when a random stranger I met at a pizzeria asked me, “Do you know about this Star Citizen game?” Her boyfriend was obsessed, she said.  Apparently there were plenty of people like her boyfriend at PAX East this morning, hooting and chanting and yelling “woo” as the developer demoed the game in action for the…

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Star Citizen is 2 million shy of the singularity

The singularity is that beautiful, hypothetical moment in the future when technology becomes so advanced that our phones gain autonomy, start building robots, and the trajectory of machinery rockets into a supernova, the repercussions of which we can hardly begin to imagine. Well, you best return to your seat, because Star Citizen is fast approaching the singularity. The crowdfunded little space sim that started as a humble way for Chris Roberts to make a spiritual successor to Wing Commander has surpassed the $39 million mark, and the next goal for the game is procedural generation. That means content generated algorithmically rather…