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The Ludum Dare jams are splendid occasions, bringing designers together in person and across the strands of this electronic web. Every event throws out at least a handful of games (I can reliably carry seven games in one hand) that are either brilliant proofs of concept or miniature masterpieces in their own right. Now that the voting results for the Ludum Dare 28 are in, I’ve been playing through the crop’s creamier portions. The league tables are sorted into categories – Overall, Innovation, Fun, Theme, Graphics, Audio, Humour and Mood – and I’ve included the winning entry in each. There is a well of free gaming goodness below.

A quick runthrough of the Ludum Dare rules first of all. Every

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Original author: 
Alec Meer

I say ‘vs’, but the reality of this meeting between the 20th and 21st century masters of X-COM is that they repeatedly seem on the verge of embracing each other, rather than trading blows in a bitter row about time units and action cameras. Rev3Games arranged for original X-COM co-creator Julian Gollop to meet Jake Solomon, the lead dev on Firaxis’ XCOM remake, the result being this rather delightful recording of their seventeen-minute exchange.
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An anonymous reader writes "Have the storytelling capabilities of the two already met? A New Yorker interview with Gears of War 4 writer Tom Bissell explores the question. Bissell says, 'More and more, I’m seeing that games are mining good, old-fashioned human anxieties for their drama, and that’s really promising. Games, more and more, are not just about shooting and fighting, and for that reason I’m optimistic and heartened about where the medium is heading, because I think game designers are getting more interested in making games that explore what it means to be alive. ... At the same time, though, pure storytelling is never going to be the thing that games do better than anything. Games are primarily about a connection between the player, the game world, and the central mechanic of the game. They’re about creating a space for the player to engage with that mechanic and have the world react in a way that feels interesting and absorbing but also creates a sense of agency. So writing, in games, is about creating mood and establishing a basic sense of intent. The player has some vague notion of what the intent of the so-called author is, but the power of authorship is ultimately for the player to seize for him or herself.'"

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American citizens—and those applying for the title—learn early that they have two primary civic responsibilities: voting and jury duty. As voting booths are installed in our common areas across the nation—in schools, gyms, firehouses, grocery stores and municipal buildings—we realize the true weight of our duties as citizens.

Michael Mergen, an assistant professor of photography at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., became particularly interested in voters—and voting locations—while working as a photojournalist during the 2004 presidential election. When he walked into a barbershop-turned-polling center in west Philadelphia, Mergen thought to himself, ‘This has to be preserved.’

In the years since, Mergen has photographed countless voting booths, jury rooms and naturalization facilities in his quest to document what he considers essential parts of being an American. After combing through thousands of polling sites on Excel spreadsheets, the photographer then chose stations located in private homes or unusual businesses; his journeys have taken him to pizza parlors, living rooms, garages, funeral homes and other eccentric spots scattered across Philadelphia. His eight years of work have yielded three revealing yet non-partisan series aptly titled, Vote, Deliberate and Naturalization, which collectively seek to underscore the importance of citizen-driven governance.

“There are few instances in our lives where as an American you can say, ‘I was a citizen today,’” Mergen says. “We are citizens everyday going about our business, but it’s rare when that becomes an actual tangible event. It’s kind of amazing that casting a vote at Bud’s Tire in Murfreesboro, Tenn. actually [contributes to] President Obama or Governor Romney winning.”

Michael Mergen is a Virginia-based photographer. 

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parameters.png

Nekogames' Parameters is all about stat ("parameter") building, with simple controls and addictive (in a Farmville kind of way) gameplay. Players clear areas by clicking on them, dragging the mouse to pick up the experience and money dropped. The yellow areas represent battles, which can be quite tough without the right parameters. Clearing rooms affords experience points that can be distributed to recovery (of life and action parameters), attack, and defense parameters.

I admit I missed this one last month, but it's well worth mentioning. Nekogames' Parameters can be played now in English or Japanese. It took me 40 minutes to get everything but one darn block in the upper right area, and Ishii tweeted it took less than 5 minutes to clear the game. While I imagine you can beat my time, be sure to share if you beat the developer's time.

[ Thanks, Marcus Richert! ]

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Video Games, as a commercial product, have a paradox. Consumers love sequels, but at the same time there's no such thing as a golden formula that a game can copy forever. We are left being forced to both innovate and make sequels at the same time.

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