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Keep an eye on that meter on your wrist... it's pretty important.

The world of Metro: Last Light isn’t pretty. To escape nuclear war, millions of the game’s Russian citizens descended into subway stations the instant the air raid sirens cried out, forced to leave their lives on the surface behind. Below ground, life is bleak. The irradiated world above means no access to fresh air or sunshine. Money means nothing, and ammunition is currency. Fathers nearly break down when sons ask where Mom is and when she’s coming home—and they have to repeat a variation of the same lie they’ve told for countless years. Radioactive mutants attack the subterranean train-station-based encampments.

The setting is easy to buy into because few blinking indicators and status updates slap you in the face, offering constant reminds that you’re playing a video game. This is deliberate, according to Andrey Prokhorov, creative director and co-founder at 4A Games, the studio behind Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light.

“If you look at your monitor (or TV set) as a gate into the world of the game, the heads-up display (HUD) elements become the bars keeping you from entering that world,” he told Ars in a recent interview. And it's part of a trend.

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The concept of badges and medals seems, in theory, very straight forward – reward users for completing specific benchmarks. So why are certain games titans of innovation adding incredible value through their rewards system while others leave their users confused and apathetic? I’m convinced it stems from the very basic human concept of achievement and our desire for it to be relevant. Relevancy will be divided into social and solitary categories.

Let’s start by understanding the broad objective of gamification. Ultimately as a marketer, community manager or designer you want to add value to your game. If done correctly you can also provide structure and direction for gamers (often something many games lack), but this is a tacit result of successful gamification design. The value added comes by attributing quantitative representation of qualitative accomplishment. It gives explicit validation for intrinsic accomplishment or simply put, you have something more tangible to look back on to herald your success and give you something to work to accomplish.

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Automation has struck down on game development. Developing a game gets easier every year. Certain jobs aren't necessary anymore, game companies go bankrupt, business plans can not keep up with industry development speeds. In short the game industry requires a high shifting skill. Today I want to talk about a few of these speedy developments. Where is the industry heading? And what do I think are upcomming trends?

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In Continue?9876543210, Game Over is the backstory.

Some games can really only be classified as digital experiences. Continue?9876543210 is such, being a high-concept game by Jason Oda. On the game's web site, it's written that it "was inspired by existential road trips into nowhere, Peruvian jungle drugs, and a brush with death while hopelessly lost in the mountains of New Mexico. It's one developer's attempt to translate his own quest for wonder, contemplation, and peace into the language of his craft." It sounds like Oda has had some unique experiences, and they've definitely contributed to a unique game.

In Continue?9876543210, you play as a player avatar who has just been killed in game and is now stuck in the computer's memory waiting to be deleted. Deletion is, in essence, a true death in this setting, and you flee the company of those peacefully waiting for their turns to be deleted in the hopes of finding a way out.

The gameplay is a bit difficult to explain in words. There are only so many levels in the game, and you'll never see them all in one playthrough. Once you leave the starting area, you go through two levels chosen at random before entering a town that is being buffeted by a lightning storm. During the regular levels, you have a limited amount of time in which to build up sheltering buildings against the lightning storm in the 3rd stage's town and/or try to unblock an exit so you can get out of the level without losing any of the buildings you've built up. Throughout a level, your efforts are occasionally interrupted by mini-stages. Doing well in those mini-stages by avoiding damage and defeating enemies can get you keys to unlock doors in the level that will (usually) help you out.

If that sounds a bit confusing, well, good. I think. The game takes some getting used to, but the need to get used to it is really one of its strong points. This is a game designed to make you think, and having to work out the mechanics and the meaning and how they tie together is really what makes the game work so well. When you add to that the graphics being as good and as bad as they need to be and a soundtrack which is a mixture of lovely music and sounds which can be appropriately jarring at times, the whole comes out to be something much more interesting than the sum of its parts.

Continue?9876543210 has been available on iOS since early December, but only hit the Humble Store and Steam about a week ago for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Its normal price on PCs is $9.99, but right now it's on sale on Steam for $7.99. You can pick it up on the iOS App Store for $3.99.

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Previously on, "Getting Players to Care"
I talked about all sorts of interesting stuff and laid out the foundation for this article series. Each part leads directly into the next and explains what the heck is going on. If you haven't read a previous part, check out Part 1 and skip along merily through my linear corridor of an article-design. I'll work on a non-linear article series next time, I promise. 

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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar

Aurich Lawson / Jonathan Naumann / Joi Ito / Stanford CIS

Fifteen years ago, I was living outside Geneva, Switzerland, spending my lunch hours screwing around on the nascent Web a few dozen kilometers from where it was created. I popped into chat rooms, forums, and news sites, and I e-mailed family back home. I was learning French and getting my dose of tech news by reading the French-language edition of Macworld magazine. (Génial!)

I returned Stateside mere months after Ars began, reading more and more about the people behind many of the technologies that I was becoming increasingly fascinated with. I consumed just about every book I could find describing the history and personalities behind graphical user interfaces, networking, the Internet itself, and more.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all that, it’s that most people involved in technology continue the Newtonian tradition of humility. The most iconic innovators all seem to readily acknowledge that they stand on the shoulders of giants. In fact, when I met Vint Cerf and thanked him for making the work I do possible, he was a predictable gentleman, saying, “There were many others involved in the creation of TCP/IP, not just me.”

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Original author: 
Soulskill

trendspotter points out this research from Duke University: "Hours spent at the video gaming console not only train a player's hands to work the buttons on the controller, they probably also train the brain to make better and faster use of visual input, according to Duke University researchers (abstract). 'Gamers see the world differently,' said Greg Appelbaum, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the Duke School of Medicine. 'They are able to extract more information from a visual scene.' ... Each participant was run though a visual sensory memory task that flashed a circular arrangement of eight letters for just one-tenth of a second. After a delay ranging from 13 milliseconds to 2.5 seconds, an arrow appeared, pointing to one spot on the circle where a letter had been. Participants were asked to identify which letter had been in that spot. At every time interval, intensive players of action video games outperformed non-gamers in recalling the letter."

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Original author: 
Amar Toor

Left4deadmain_large

Valve has begun testing new biofeedback technologies based on a player's sweat levels and eye movements, as part of the company's ongoing efforts to incorporate user emotions into gameplay. As VentureBeat reports, Mike Ambinder, Valve's resident experimental psychologist, discussed the developments at last week's NeuroGaming Conference and Expo, held in San Francisco.

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