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Original author: 
Mikko Takkunen

Features and Essays

Rena Effendi / INSTITUTE  for National Geographic

Rena Effendi / National Geographic

Rena Effendi: Transylvania Hay Country (National Geographic)  The old art of making hay on the grass-growing meadows of Transylvania | from the July issue of National Geographic magazine | Effendi’s agency

Ami Vitale: Montana Ranch (Photo Booth)  A testament to a disappearing way of life and an ode to its endurance.

Rena Effendi: Spirit Lake (Institute) Located in an isolated and economically languishing area of North Dakota, Spirit Lake is a Sioux Indian reservation home to some 6,200 inhabitants

Raphaela Rosella: Teen Mothers in Australia (Feature Shoot)

Giorgos Moutafis

Giorgos Moutafis

Giorgos Moutafis: Istanbul’s Taksim Square (Photo Booth) Moutafis’s website

Guy Martin: Turmoil in Istanbul: Turkey’s Gezi Park Protests (LightBox) Full edit on Panos Pictures here

Guillaume Herbaut: Unrest in Turkey (Institute)

LouLou d’Aki: Occupy Istanbul: Portraits of Turkey’s Protest Kids (NY magazine)

Enri Canaj

Enri Canaj

Enri Canaj: City of Shadows (Foto8) Athens, Greece

Yannis Behrakis: Homelessness in Greece (Guardian) Related on Reuters photoblog here

Lauren Greenfield: The Fast and The Fashionable (ESPN) In Monaco during F1 Grand Prix

Giovanni Cocco: The Life Of A Sibling With Disability (NPR Picture Show)

Riverboom: Giro d’Italia (Institute)

Robert Nickelsberg: Surviving Cold War (World Policy) Forces from Norway, Britain, and the Netherlands in training in the planet’s harshest climate in the Arctic Circle

Diana Markosian

Diana Markosian

Diana Markosian: My Father, The Stranger (NYT) Markosian writes about her father here | Related on the NYT Lens blog here

Ian Willms: Following in the Mennonites’ Footsteps (LightBox)

Tomasz Lazar: In Kosovo, Bridging an Ethnic Divide (NYT)

Cathal McNaughton: Yarnbombers (Guardian) Photographer Cathal McNaughton has caught up with the Yarnbombers, the guerrilla knitters who plan to target the G8 using knitting or crochet rather than graffiti

Sebastian Liste / Reportage by Getty Images for TIME

Sebastian Liste / Reportage by Getty Images for TIME

Sebastian Liste: On the Inside: Venezuela’s Most Dangerous Prison (LightBox)

Pietro Paolini: Ecuador: Balance on the Zero (Terra Project)

Elizabeth Griffin and Amelia Coffaro: Capturing Life With Cancer At Age 28 (NPR Picture Show)

Lars Tunbjörk: Cremation: The New American Way of Death (LightBox)

Lucas Jackson: Tornado survivors of Moore (Reuters photo blog) multimedia

Andy Levin: Coney Island (NYT Lens)

Daniel Love: 200 Hours (Guardian)

Robert Herman: New York: A View of Inner Turmoil (NYT Lens)

Reed Young: The Ground Zero of Immigration: El Paso (LightBox)

Sara Lewkowicz: An unflinching look at domestic abuse (CNN photo blog)

Tony Fouhse: The Simple View of Ottawa (NYT Lens)

Justin Jin for the New York Times

Justin Jin for the New York Times

Justin Jin: A Chinese Push for Urbanization (NYT)

Sean Gallagher: Climate change on the Tibetan plateau (Guardian) audio slideshow

Nic Dunlop: On the frontlines of a ‘Brave New Burma’ (CNN photo blog)

Zohra Bensemra: Pakistan’s female Top Gun (Reuters)

Paolo Marchetti: The Stains of Kerala (LightBox)

Behrouz Mehri / AFP / Getty Images

Behrouz Mehri / AFP / Getty Images

Behrouz Mehri: Life in Tehran, glimpsed through the rear window (AFP Correspondent)

Tyler Hicks: A New Strategy on One Syrian Front (NYT)

Laurent Van der Stockt: On The Damascus Front Lines (Le Monde)

Jason Larkin: Suez – Egypt’s Lifeline (Panos Pictures)

Nyani Quarmyne: Bridging Approaches to Mental Illness in Sierra Leone (NYT Lens)

Jake Naughton: Education of Girls in Kibera (Feature Shoot)

David Guttenfelder: Last Song for Migrating Birds (NGM) Across the Mediterranean, millions are killed for food, profit, and cruel amusement.

Nick Cobbing: Follow the Creatures (Photographer’s website) Antarctica

Nelli Palomäki: Portraits of Children (LightBox)

Articles

AP Explore

AP Explore

The Burning Monk 50th anniversary (AP) Malcolm Wilde Browne was 30 years old when he arrived in Saigon on Nov. 7, 1961, as AP’s first permanent correspondent there. From the start, Browne was filing the kind of big stories that would win him the Pulitzer Prize for reporting in 1964. But today, he is primarily remembered for a photograph taken 50 years ago on June 11, 1963, depicting the dignified yet horrific death by fiery suicide of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc.

Malcolm Browne: The Story Behind The Burning Monk (LightBox)

Love struck: Photographs of JFK’s visit to Berlin 50 years ago reveal a nation instantly smitten (The Independent) Photographer Ulrich Mack accompanied Kennedy on the entire trip. The results, published this month as Kennedy in Berlin, have mostly never been seen before

Osman Orsal / Reuters

Osman Orsal / Reuters

Images of Protest in Istanbul: The Woman in Red (No Caption Needed)

Turkey’s “Lady in Red” and the Importance of Professional Photographers (NPPA)

The photo that encapsulates Turkey’s protests and the severe police crackdown (Washington Post)

‘Woman in red’ sprayed with teargas becomes symbol of Turkey protests (Guardian)

Photographer documents Istanbul ‘war zone’ in his own backyard on Facebook (NBC News photo blog)

Photographic Mood, on the Eve of Destruction (No Caption Needed)

Photographer Injured in Istanbul Protests (PDN)

Pixelating the reality? (Al Jazeera: Listening Post) Photography is a subjective medium, and how it is used will always depend on who is using it. | On Paul Hansen’s World Press Photo of the Year and post-processing in photojournalism in general

The Art of War – Ron Haviv (Viewpoint on Vimeo) A documentary from the public television of Greece, year 2013. Language: English | Greek Subtitles

Leading photojournalist captures the beating heart of a brutal world (Sydney Morning Herald) Forty years of covering atrocities has only reinforced James Nachtwey’s faith in humanity

Rita Leistner: Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan (BagNewsNotes)

Profile of a Curatorial Master: Yolanda Cuomo (LightBox)

A Glance at the 2013 LOOK3 Photo Festival (LightBox)

Edouard Elias / Getty Images

Edouard Elias / Getty Images

Two journalists, including photographer Edouard Elias, abducted in Syria (BJP) According to Le Monde and BBC News, the two journalists, Didier François and Edouard Elias, were travelling to Aleppo in Syria when they were abducted by four armed men at a checkpoint 

Syrian teacher turned war photographer (CNN) Nour Kelze describes her transition from English teacher in Aleppo to war photographer in the middle of Syria’s conflict.

Frontline Freelance Register created to help freelance war reporters (BJP)

Margaret Bourke-White’s Damaged Negatives From a Classic Assignment (LIFE)

A Paean to Forbearance (the Rough Draft) (NYT) The origins behind James Agee’s 1941 book, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” a literary description of abject poverty in the South, accompanied by Walker Evans photographs.

In pictures: Saul Leiter’s pioneering colour photography (BBC)

Ageing and creative decline in photography: a taboo subject (BJP)

The Woman in a Jim Crow Photo (NYT Lens)

Abigail Heyman, Feminist Photojournalist, Dies at 70 (NYT) Related

Denver photographer Steven Nickerson who shocked, awed, dead at 55 (Denver Post)

Bolivar Arellano’s Photos for El Diario-La Prensa (NYT Lens)

Nelson Mandela: a life in focus (Guardian) Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich reflects on a legend of our time

Eman Mohammed in the Gaza Strip (Denver Post Plog)

Robert Capa’s vintage prints on show (BBC) To mark what would have been the 100th birthday of photographer Robert Capa, the Atlas gallery in London is holding an exhibition of his work. It comprises a wide range of prints from his time in Spain during the Civil War through World War II, and ending with the Indo China conflict where he lost his life.

Uzbek migrant workers in Kazakhstan

Chloe Dewe Mathews

Chloe Dewe Mathews’s best photograph – Uzbek migrant workers (Guardian)

Featured photographer: Scout Tufankjian (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Carlo Gianferro (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Antonia Zennaro (Verve Photo)

Deutsche Börse photography prize 2013 won by Broomberg and Chanarin (Guardian)

American Girls: Photographs Offer Vision into American Girlhood (Daily Beast) Polish photographer Ilona Szwarc’s new exhibit captures 100 kids with their cult-classic toy, the American Girl doll.

Northern Ireland: 30 Years of Photography by Colin Graham – review (Guardian) This catalogue of recent Northern Irish photography shows a determination to leave the documentary style of the Troubles behind

After Lowry (FT magazine) Landscape photographer John Davies takes a series of pictures in the northwest of England inspired by the work of LS Lowry

Eric Maierson: This is what editing feels like (MediaStorm blog)

Yunghi Kim: Protecting Our Images (NPPA)

I Spy: Photographer who secretly snapped neighbors goes to court (Yahoo)

Beyonce Photoshopped Into Starvation for Latest Ad Campaign (PetaPixel)

Interviews and Talks

C-SPAN

C-SPAN

Rodrigo Abd and Javier Manzano (C-Span)

Carolyn Drake (cestandard) An interview with Carolyn Drake, author of Two Rivers

Paul Conroy (Amanpour) The deadliest country on earth for journalists | Conroy on Marie Colvin’s last assignment

Alex Webb (LA Times Framed)

Christopher Anderson (GUP magazine)

Stuart Franklin (Vice) There’s More to Stuart Franklin Than the Most Famous Photo of the 20th Century

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Paula Bronstein (ABC Radio National Australia) Internationally acclaimed US photo journalist Paula Bronstein talks about bearing witness to human suffering through her photo essays.

John H. White (NPR Picture Show) Photo Staff Firings Won’t Shake Pulitzer Winner’s Focus

Joe McNally (NYT Lens) Photographing on Top of the World

David Guttenfelder (NGM) Photographer David Guttenfelder reflects upon why taking pictures of the slaughter of songbirds is like covering a war.

Alexandra Avakian / Contact Press Images

Alexandra Avakian / Contact Press Images

Jean-François Leroy (BJP) Visa pour l’Image organizer on the festival’s editorial line and the cost of covering war

Jean-François Leroy (BJP) Visa pour l’Image organizer on social media, the future of photojournalism and the need for greater cooperation

Marco Di Lauro (Image Deconstructed)

Evgenia Arbugaeva (Leica blog) Leica Oskar Barnack Award Winner 2013

Jenn Ackerman (PBS NewsHours) One Photographer’s Experience Documenting Mentally Ill Inmates

Richard Misrach (PDN Pulse) Misrach on Documentary vs. Art, the Complications of Portraiture, and Digital Photography

Daniel Etter / Redux

Daniel Etter / Redux

Daniel Etter (LightBox Tumblr)

Espen Rasmussen (Panos Social)

Michael Christopher Brown (Window magazine)

Terry O’Neill (WSJ) The photographer on starlets, the Stones and Sinatra

Ewen Spencer (Vice) The Soul of UK Garage, As Photographed by Ewen Spencer

Mikko Takkunen is an associate photo editor at TIME.com. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

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qwopsmall.jpgBennett Foddy, creator of QWOP, GIRP, and CLOP among others, likes to play with his players, and he suggests that more of us should be doing the same.

At the top of his talk at IndieCade on Friday, he asserted, "I'm going to try to convince you to put more suffering in your games."

Learn a lesson from the Olympics, he says - it's all about the suffering. It's all about the pathos of second place.

"Nobody cries when they come second in a video game," he notes. "Nobody lays down and cries. Why not?"

In track and field video games, "The way that you run is to either hammer a button really fast, or waggle a joystick really fast," he says. "There's no joy in that, the joy is in the panic - in your friends watching you injure yourself as you hit the button."

"It's not just that games are easier - though they are," he says. "To me it's that games these days are more comfortable. There's less discomfort. My worry is not that games are getting too easy, because easy games can be wonderful. My worry is that games are getting too comfortable."

What's so good about suffering anyway? "When you're suffering in a game, it makes failure matter," he says. Counter-Strike uses boredom. If you fail, you have to just watch everyone else play, but frustration is more widely used.

"It makes success matter if there's suffering in the game," Foddy says. If you get to the end, you feel like this huge weight has been lifted. Thus, "this talk is a love letter to games that put you through Hell just for the sake of it," he says, "because we enjoy the suffering itself."

"Often when I start designing a game, I start by thinking about the aesthetics of the input," he says. Would the interaction be fun if there were no game? "Most sports pass that test," he says, noting that playing catch is fun even without rules.

One example is drumming your fingers on the keyboard - it's sort of inherently satisfying - and that became the inspiration for CLOP, which uses the H, J, K, and L keys.

"I'd like to have an anti-ergonomic game where it's physically challenging to play the game, and you could say to your friends 'I played for three hours, and I had to go to the hospital,'" he said.

Foddy has been researching pain, confusion, and nausea in games, to make games that give players those sorts of feelings.

Wolfenstein 3D makes people nauseous, but it doesn't make you feel good. "The reason I don't feel good about it is that it's not the point of the game," he says. "I think you could make a game where nausea is the point of the game, and people would enjoy it."

Motal Kombat gives you Fatalities, as an example of humiliation. "You might think that's for the pleasure of the winner, but I don't think that's right," he says. "The computer does it as well. I'm supposed to be enjoying it as a player, even on the losing end."

Ultimately it's all about playing with the player, as a developer. "The reason I'm cataloging these various dimensions of suffering, is why would frustration feel good? Why would confusion or humiliation be nice?" he posed. "I think one reason is it represents the developer playing with the player."

The idea among many developers is that confusion is an engineering failure. This means developer is teaching you how to stay interested in the game, rather than playing with you. "To me that's a warped way to look at the interaction between the developer and the player."

So in a single player game, the developer should be player 2. "Playing" is just an agreement that you won't kill each other - if you take it down to completely not hurting each other, it loses its teeth. "That's the flag football of video games," says Foddy. "I think you should make the real football of videogames."

If you do this, he says "you're playing with the player, rather than providing an environment for players to play with themselves."

Don't worry too much about frustration, and playtesting. "Maybe you shouldn't care so much about what people will think," he posed. "I wonder if Marcel Duchamp would've put a tutorial into his video games, if he made them? He wouldn't have focus tested his games."

"Don't water down your games. I think art should be difficult, I think it should be painful, it should be nauseating," he says. "It should be more difficult, more nauseating than music or other art because it's more complex," he concluded. "Don't make the easy listening of video games."

[Brandon Sheffield wrote this article, which originally appeared on Gamasutra.]

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‘NO PRESSURE’
‘NO PRESSURE’: Xochitl, 3, a Mexican hairless dog, waited for owner Ana Poe of San Francisco in a restroom at the America’s Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa, Calif., Thursday. (Cindy Yamanaka/The Orange County Register/Zuma Press)

READY TO LEARN
READY TO LEARN: Students Kadidiatu Swaray, 18, left, and Mabinty Bangura, 15, arrived for class at the Every Nation Academy private school in Makeni, Sierra Leone, Friday. (Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

OFFENDED
OFFENDED: North Koreans shouted slogans denouncing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during a rally Friday at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. The North Korean government has said Mr. Lee’s recent comments about the country ‘hurt the dignity’ of its people. (Vincent Yu/Associated Press)

IN PAIN
IN PAIN: A homeless young woman accused of having premarital sex in public was caned by a sharia police officer at a public square in the town of Langsa, Indonesia, Friday. Aceh is the only Indonesian province that enforces laws based in the teachings of Islam. (Riza Lazuardi/AFP/Getty Images)

TAKING A BREATHER
TAKING A BREATHER: Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland caught his breath during his quarterfinal match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, Friday. (Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press)

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In addition to the above hands-on from Pixel Enemy of Adhesive Games's and Meteor Entertainment's Hawken, the following links look at PAX East 2012 indies Pocketwatch Games' Monaco, Hi-Rez Studio's SMITE and Tribes: Ascend, Phoenix Online Studios's Cognition, Ronimo Games's Awesomenauts, Warballon's Star Command, and Casual Brothers Games' Orc Attack.

Destructoid: Monaco: What's Yours is Mine needs to be mine - One of the more interesting classes, which I unfortunately didn't get to see in action, is The Redhead. According to Andy, she's able to distract one of the guards with her "come hither" good looks.

Joystiq: Star Command beams in this summer - The Warballoon team already told us they are switching to a far more context-sensitive interface system after observing players at PAX East. The game is also officially heading to iPad.

Destructoid coverage of independent company Hi-Rez Studio: upcoming MOBA with third-person perspective SMITE and jetpacking first-person shooter Tribes: Ascend.

Indie Game Magazine: Cognition Preview Oozing Surprises - Cognition is a point and click adventure title from Phoenix Online Studios, the team that has released 4 of the 5 free episodes to King's Quest: The Silver Lining.

Indie Game Magazine: Awesomenauts Preview - Awesomenauts is already an entertaining multiplayer experience and features a great variety of soldier classes with an cool toon-inspired art style.

TQcast: Orc Attack Gameplay - Off-screen gameplay.

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The Indie Fund has chosen Facepalm Games' "beautiful, atmospheric, mind bending" puzzle-platformer The Swapper as its sixth backed title.

The Swapper joins fellow Fund-supported indie standouts like Monaco, Q.U.B.E., and Faraway. The Fund's latest project, Dear Esther, recouped its funding costs less than six hours after its release in February.

The Swapper earned a finalist spot in this year's D.I.C.E. Summit Indie Games Challenge, and received the Special Recognition Award at the IndieCade 2011 Awards.

[via @Capy_Nathan]

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demruth IGF.jpg[In the latest in our "Road to the IGF" series of interviews with 2012 IGF finalists, Gamasutra speaks with Alexander Bruce about his 2012 IGF Technical Excellence Award nominee Antichamber.]

Alexander "Demruth" Bruce's Antichamber is a game about discovery, set inside a vibrant, minimal, Escher-like world, where geometry and space follow unfamiliar rules, and obstacles are a matter of perception.

The game was a finalist for the Nuovo Award at the 2011 Independent Games Festival, back when it was still called Hazard: The Journey of Life and "only a couple of months away from release."

Twelve months later and with some work still to be done, Bruce's game is back in the competition, with a new name and new recognition as a finalist in the Technical Excellence category.

What background do you have making games?

Does this work like a resume, where if over a certain amount of time has passed since some of the work that you did, you don't have to list it anymore? I sure would like to forget about those cancelled titles that I mentioned in my Road To the IGF from last year!

On a more serious note, I started making games when I was 20, went through a university degree and worked in the industry for a year. Throughout that entire time, I felt like I didn't have enough experience at anything that I was doing, because I was always surrounded by people who had been doing this stuff for years. So in 2009 I came to the conclusion that if I was going to stand out at all, I'd have to do things differently.

I think I've succeeded at that, because G4TV tried to describe the game at PAX by saying "it's like an Escher painting meets Bastion, then someone did some heroin and threw paint on a wall." That's both one of the best descriptions and one of the most ridiculous descriptions I've ever heard.

This mindset of continuously pushing things to be different was something I addressed when I spoke at the Nuovo Sessions at GDC 2010. I'm sure that a lot of what I said at the time probably sounded naive and idealistic, but that mindset drove me through two years of hell trying to make everything work cohesively. It's also why the game has done a pretty decent job of standing out the further it has progressed. When people responded to earlier versions with "oh this is like Portal. You should make these things like this though, because in Portal...", I didn't want to embrace that. I wanted to get the hell away from that, because Portal already exists and is fantastic.

All of that is a very long winded way of saying that I think the important insights into my background are a relentless desire to explore in new directions, and being completely driven in trying to make what I'm doing work. The trailer for an upcoming documentary titled Ctrl+Alt+Compete had an amazing quote in it related to that kind of determination mindset, where someone said "If I didn't get paid to do this, I'd probably figure out how to get paid to do this. I want to be an entrepreneur."

How long has your team been working on the game?

For a whole year longer than the couple of months I said I had remaining last year! Making games sure is hard.

Since last IGF, I ended up practically redoing half the game, implemented the entire soundscape, changed the name, and was exploring concrete plans regarding distribution. In my mind, polish is the process of refining or removing all of the reasons that someone who is within your audience would have reason to stop playing, and when you view things that way, even small changes can have a huge difference for the feel of the game. I'd say that things are paying off, looking at the honorable mention I got for the Grand Prize.

At the end of the day, I'm not trying to make a good game. I'm trying to make an exceptional game, because this has my name on it. With that said, though, the risk of changing anything else too radically anymore is outweighing the potential benefits, and I'm reaching that point where I just have to stop and release it into the world. I said at PAX last year that I wanted the finished game at PAX East, and I'm still aiming to do that. Maybe not the release candidate, but it'll be close.

Antichamber's development been extremely iterative, and it has gone through a number of substantial changes (at one point it was even an arena combat game!). How can you afford to change the design so rapidly?

Nothing that led to here has happened rapidly, make no mistake about that. I've been messing around with the ideas that spawned it since 2006. All of the changes that happened were very calculated, and I'd probably been thinking about them in the back of my mind for months before I finally decided to actually execute upon them.

I think the difference between how I work versus how Stephen Lavelle or Terry Cavanagh work, is that I keep all of my focus centered around a single thing. We're all going through the process of throwing ideas at a wall, but I'm just more interested in working out why one particular thing didn't stick before I move onto the next one.

This is the second time that Antichamber has been nominated in the IGF. How do you feel about previous finalists that re-entered their games?

This will be the last time that this is ever an issue, given that the rules are disallowing it next year onwards. But I actually don't think that games that re-enter after being nominated previously have any advantage at all over games that are new to the IGF. If something is good, and it's new, I think it's way easier to respond positively to that than it is to something that is great, but that you've seen before.

None of the games that were renominated (I know of Gish, Miegakure, Fez, Faraway and Antichamber) were nominated in the same categories, which means that they had to stand out even more without relying on what they'd been selected for previously. I'm actually really happy that Fez was nominated again this year, despite the fact that I'm competing directly against it!

I know that there are a lot of people who are vocal about what the IGF is or should be, and I know that Brandon [Boyer, IGF chairman] gives a lot of thought to this issue, but at the same time there are other competitions that exist as well. Sure, they don't all have the reptutation that the IGF has, but if your reasoning for entering the IGF is to try to get your big break and have the world know about your game, I really don't see why you wouldn't take other competitions seriously as well. If you can get through a couple of those, who knows, maybe you'll also work out all of the things that need to be fixed in order to improve your chances of getting into the IGF. That's what I did.

Have you played any of the other IGF finalists? Any games you've particularly enjoyed?

I've played several, though I think the ones that stuck with me the most were when I played At a Distance and Way at IndieCade with Chris Hecker.

When we were playing At a Distance, we were constantly speaking back and forth about what we were doing and where the other player had to go, and conquering the game was really easy because of that. When we were playing Way, though, our inability to communicate directly like this left us pretty screwed on a particular puzzle.

Way is all about puppetry, and if you're really expressive with your character, you can say quite a lot just by waving your arms around, shaking your head, etc. But I don't think Chris or I solve problems socially like that. When something didn't work, both of us would just sit back and stare off into the distance and think "what is the other person not understanding about what I'm doing, and what is the most effective way that I can purposefully animate my character to express that?" As a result, a lot of the time our characters just stood around on screen doing nothing. Other people found it hilarious and pretty painful to watch.

Chris Bell (the designer) ended up taking over Hecker's computer and started waiving his characters arms all around the place, shaking his characters head furiously whenever I did anything wrong, etc. and I could instantly understand what he wanted to say. Within about 30 seconds, the level was solved, and I felt incredibly stupid. But... that's the beauty of a good puzzle!

This is a game that seems to demand more from the player than most. What should an Antichamber player gain from playing the game?

I wouldn't say that Antichamber is more demanding than other games. Often times the puzzles require you to do a lot less than puzzles in other games. They're just a very different kind of puzzle than what people are used to. People who are naturally really good at thinking outside the box end up blasting through the game relatively quickly, while people who are used to games that more directly tell them how everything works and expect them to just execute upon that knowledge are the ones that end up finding it more difficult. In any case, it's introducing some new concepts into games, and forcing players to think differently.

What do you think of the current state of the indie scene?

I don't think there's much point in labeling everything as "the indie scene". Personally, I just have the work that I do, a group of friends who all make stuff that I find interesting, and then a whole lot of other people that I'd really like to meet.

[This article was originally posted on Gamasutra, written by Frank Cifaldi.]

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Empty Clip Studios' Indie Game Challenge 2012 finalist Symphony has an updated trailer, which shows off how players' music dictates the game's content. While Beat Hazard attempted procedural content generation (PCG) with the arena shooter genre, Symphony seems to be going for more of a vertical arcade shooter vibe. I really like how the ships materialize from the equalizer. However, the enemy A.I. and firepower seem to be on the rather simple side.

A challenge for Symphony, like most PCG games, will be in sustaining player interest indirectly. How varied will the content be from the songs inputted? Players will find out this year, after nearly three years of development and waiting.

Thanks for making us wait so long, Empty Clip! I understand, though; you have to work on Monaco multi-platform ports, too. And yes, Empty Clip, I do pay close attention to trailers (1:34 mark!).

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