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Super Mario Bros.

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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: 
Cory Doctorow

Dr. Tom Murphy VII gave a research paper called "The First Level of Super Mario Bros. is Easy with Lexicographic Orderings and Time Travel . . . after that it gets a little tricky," (PDF) (source code) at SIGBOVIK 2013, in which he sets out a computational method for solving classic NES games. He devised two libraries for this: learnfun (learning fuction) and playfun (playing function). In this accompanying video, he chronicles the steps and missteps he took getting to a pretty clever destination.

learnfun & playfun: A general technique for automating NES games (via O'Reilly Radar)     

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Jon Brodkin writes "Pity poor Mega Man. The little blue robot boy with a gun for a hand was one of the most popular heroes in the Nintendo Entertainment System's heyday, starring in a video game series almost every bit as good as The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The original Mega Man series resulted in some great games for the original NES and the Super Nintendo. But then he dropped (swiftly) from the face of the Earth. Attempts to bring Mega Man into the 3D world resulted in games not nearly as fun as their predecessors. Most recently, the planned Mega Man Legends 3 for Nintendo 3DS managed to generate a bit of fan excitement, but the project was canceled in July 2011. Gamers moved on — some grudgingly. Fans have clamored for Capcom to revive Mega Man for years, and it's happened to some extent. Mega Man 9 and 10 came out in 2008 and 2010, respectively, continuing the original series with the same graphical and gameplay style perfected in the 1980s. And Monday, something perhaps even more exciting occurred for Mega Man's 25th anniversary: the release of Street Fighter X Mega Man, a celebration of two excellent game series that have lost their luster in the HD age." Read on for the rest of Jon's review.

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Game jams are proving to be one of the most fruitful phenomena of the current era of gaming. Ludum Dare constantly throws up a bunch of fascinating stuff, and it’s tough to keep track of it all. So much of what is created – the window for making is just 48 hours – is so small and unassuming that it is likely to be missed. Tinysasters is one such microcosm, but it’s a beautiful, perfectly formed gem of an idea: terraforming an 8×8 tile based grid, while natural disasters roll in every thirty seconds to undo your work. Worth a look, if just for a moment.

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An article discussing the gameplay dynamics of decay, how its consequences ripple forward, how we stop the ripple effect, and how these concepts help us understand level design.

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