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jeanclaudevanjam.jpgBabycastles and the Eyebeam Game Research Group held the Jean Claude Van Jam on August 17-19 at the Eyebeam Art & Technology Center in New York, with teams creating nine games based on Oscar-worthy Van Damme movies. Katamari Damacy developer Keita Takahashi joined NYU Game Center co-founder Eric Zimmerman and Gigantic Mechanic's Greg Trefry in picking the best games.

The above-pictured browser game Show Her My Thailand: A Street Fighter Romance was a runner up along with Master Tanaka's Flexibility Challenge. The former is a text-adventure game, where players have to woo Kylie with their suave speech. The latter is a two-player, head-to-head stretching game, which is more about control than strength.

Brian S. Chung's and GJ Lee's Grand prize winner "Wrong Bet!" requires a bit of preparation: 10 players (four fighters and six betters) and 2 laptops (one white and one black).

Wrong Bet has an elaborate diagram and play arena photos here, for those who have an army of friends and a large, open space to play it.

All nine games are available at the official Jean Claude Van Jam site and are demoed in this video:

[via @idaimages]

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It starts as just another toy to play around with in a few minutes of distraction in your Web browser – as if the Web were short on distraction. But then, something amazing can happen. Like a musical Turing Test, you start to get a feeling for what’s happening on the other side. Someone’s stream of colored dots starts to jam with your stream of colored dots. You get a little rhythm, a little interplay going. And instead of being a barrier, the fact that you’re looking at simple animations and made-up names and playing a pretty little tune with complete strangers starts to feel oddly special. The absence of normal interpersonal cues makes you focus on communicating with someone, completely anonymously, using music alone.

Dinah Moe’s “Plink” is the latest glimpse of what Web browser music might be, and why it might be different than (and a compliment to) other music creation technology. You can now create private rooms to blow off steam with a faraway friend, or find new players online. It’s all powered with the Web Audio API, the browser-native, JavaScript-based tools championed by Mozilla. That means you’ll need a recent Chrome or Firefox (Chrome only at the moment; this is a Chrome Experiment), and mobile browsers won’t be able to keep up. But still, give it a try – I think you may be pleasantly surprised. (Actually, do it right now, as you’ll probably be doing it with other CDM readers. I expect greater things!)

http://labs.dinahmoe.com/plink/

Thanks to Robin Hunicke, who worked with multiplayer design and play at That Game Company’s Journey on PS3 and now on the browser MMO Glitch. I think her friends were more musical than most, because the place came alive after she linked from Facebook.

The browser is becoming a laboratory, a place to quickly try out ideas for music interaction, and for the code and structure that describe music in a language all their own. As in Plink, it can also benefit from being defined by the network and collaboration.

Dinah Moe’s experiments go in other directions, as well. In Tonecraft, inspired by the 3D construction metaphor of Minecraft, three-dimensional blocks become an alternative sequencer.

http://labs.dinahmoe.com/ToneCraft/

There are many reasons not to use Web tools. The Web Audio API still isn’t universal, and native options (like Google’s Native Client) have their own compatibility issues, stability concerns, and – because of security – they don’t do all the things a desktop application will. Desktop music tools are still more numerous, more powerful, and easier to use, so if you’re a reader out there finishing a thesis project, you might look elsewhere. (Actually, you’re probably in trouble, anyway, by any nation’s academic calendar, given it’s the First of May, but I digress.)

But think instead of this as another canvas, and the essential building blocks of interface design, code, and networking as shared across browsers and desktop apps. Somehow, in the light of the Internet, its new connectedness, and its new, more lightweight, more portable code and design options, software is changing. That transformation could happen everywhere.

If you need something to help you meditate on that and wait for a revelation to occur to you, I highly recommend watching a soothing stream of dots and some pleasing music as you jam with your mouse.

Of course, in the end, like a digital mirror, it might inspire you to go out to the park with a couple of glockenspiels and jam the old-fashioned way. But maybe that’s another reason to make software.

(Here’s a video, in case you’re not near a browser that supports the app!)

More, plus reflections on adaptive music:
http://labs.dinahmoe.com/

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tinysasters.jpg
Volute's Tinysasters is an entry in the Ludum Dare 23 and a slightly peculiar little 'puzzle/simulation/gestation' sort of title. Set atop an 8*8 landscape, Tinysasters demands that you figure out how best to maintain the equilibrium of the land. You see, disasters have a tendency of striking this unfortunate country at rather regular intervals. In order to stop Mother Nature from routinely decimating your surroundings, you are going to have to build a level 4 shrine. How does that work? I'm not sure. I suppose religious people have a way of placating the environment.

It's a brief, thoughtful little experience that may or may not appeal to everyone but it had me preoccupied for about fifteen minutes or so today. You can check it out here.

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deuxit.jpg
A simple yet fetching title from the recent MolyJam 2012, Don't Deux It was inspired by this particular tweet: "You are a pigeon who must go around the city trying to persuade business men not to jump off buildings by retrieving items from their home." However, not everyone in Don't Deux It is a black-suited businessman. In fact, there's only one of those. As the heroic avian of the story, you'll encounter a somewhat eclectic collection of folk, all of whom are depressed and prepared to end their lives. Each of them will relate their sad tale to you, and it's your job to find an object capable of cheering them up. If you fail to do so, well, you can guess what happens next.

Play the game here.

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Is this level worth the 50p?
Remember when Google made a big deal of running Bastion in Chrome? They made the opposite of that fuss with Mini Ninjas, Io Interactives’s cute little NinjSim. I mean, I only noticed when I was poking around the Chrome store for a browser add-on. I clicked it expecting a webbified version of the game, but as far as I can tell it’s not been fiddled with in the slightest. In less than a minute, I was playing the first level of the game, full screen, with no obvious technical issues. Oh, apart from the bizarre payment model.
(more…)

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High Vaultage.pngAside from the charming pixels, High Vaultage didn't immediately draw me in, appearing like an ordinary track-and-field title. Then my character vaulted hundreds of feet into the air, grabbing coins, eating junk food, hitching rides from birds and whales, and bouncing off balloons until I soared above the clouds and glimpsed the greater galaxy. Oh, and each time I collected all the crayon colors, I earned a magical rainbow excretion that elevated me higher still.

Ostrich Banditos' High Vaultage is an adrenaline rush of gameplay accompanied by an energizing musical loop. Controls are simple enough: I used the arrows to move and the space bar to vault and fart for propulsion. The trick to a high vault (which may not be apparent) is to press the space bar twice: once to anchor the pole to the ground and once more to release the tension.

My stomach tightened every time I began a long descent and ran out of gas, causing me to flail slightly right and left in the hopes of eating some junk to boost my bowels. In the end, I don't think I've scored well enough to win the high score competition and get my "ugly mug" in High Vaultage or the team's next game. Maybe you will do better!

Play High Vaultage on Kongregate and Newgrounds now (or check out the spoilerific video after the jump to see the game in action.)

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It might be GDC fever right now but there should always be room for the chaps who aren't at San Francisco. For those of you who missed the mention of this the first time, Reprisal is a browser-based strategy game that is currently in production. In this pixelated delight, you'll take on the role of an omnipotent deity who must command his people to victory or risk turning into a figment of history's imagination. You know the drill. Currently, the beta's already available for play but Jon Caplin apparently has a lot more content along the way. The latest piece of gameplay footage isn't particularly long but if you haven't played the game before, why not use it as an excuse to do so? Enjoy the end of your productivity.

Play the game here.

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Like dinosaurs, mechas are an easy sell. You can't go wrong with gigantic, impressive-looking robots capable of bringing entire countries down to their knees. Mecha Galaxy is an upcoming browser-based title that is apparently more Tower Defense than it is Mechwarrior. As is often the case with most games, you're going to have to start as a greenhorn with lofty aspirations. And a starting contingent of mechas, of course. From there, the sky's the limit. Train pilots. Customize your squad. Build new equipment. Improvise. Uncover secrets. Do quests. Battle for a spot in the Galactic Senate. Bash heads against other enterprising players. It's really up to you.

Ordinarily, this would be the part where I encourage you to send a few dollars in the direction of the Kickstarter project. However, the endeavor is already funded. You can still choose to donate five bucks to gain access to the beta.

You can check out the Kickstarter project here.

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Developer xdanond successfully merges two disparate genres in Starwish, a horizontally scrolling "RPG shooter" playable for free at Kongregate.

Starwish's power-up mechanics and level design exude a strong Gradius vibe, while the RPG elements put a fun spin on the formula; each destroyed enemy awards the player with money and experience points, and new weapons and ship parts can be purchased between levels. Interestingly, weapons can be switched on the fly via a mouse-driven menu during gameplay -- an unusual design choice that works better than expected thanks to autofire being an option.

The game also features a strong narrative element (even going so far as to resemble a dating sim at times), and probes the player with a barrage of personal questions before gameplay begins. These sequences can be skipped, however, for those who prefer to jump straight into the action.

The game's catchy soundtrack is available for free streaming via a YouTube playlist.

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Exploding Rabbit's retro-themed Flash platformer Super Mario Bros. Crossover is set to see a major update in the first quarter of 2012, introducing a variety of new features and level skins based on beloved classics from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras.

The update adds a number of new characters, including Mario's brother Luigi, Trevor Belmont from Castlevania III, and Mega Man's Bass and Proto Man. Also included are nods to Retro Game Challenge's Haggle Man, along with character and world skins for Demon Returns -- impressively obscure picks, even if they're just reskins of existing characters.

Despite the seeming incongruity of the included gameplay mechanics, the formula actually works quite well -- witness how naturally Blaster Master's Sophia the 3rd glides through the water levels, for instance, or how destructive Ryu Hayabusa can be when he's let loose in the Mushroom Kingdom. The latest version of Super Mario Bros. Crossover can be played at Exploding Rabbit's website.

[via Tiny Cartridge]

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