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True Skin

Independent science fiction short films have boomed in the past few years, as creating special effects and distributing the finished product has become far easier. But "True Skin," a short film by music video veteran Stephan Zlotescu, has been getting attention from the mainstream film world. Upon release earlier this week, Roger Ebert linked to the piece, which he said seemed "destined to become a feature," and the team behind it is definitely angling for a larger production.

As it is, the short film is a beautiful piece of effects work, pairing Blade Runner's neon-lit alleys (and, unfortunately, an equally awkward voiceover) with more recent science fiction tropes like voluntary prosthesis and augmented reality. It's included a nod to...

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Zothecula writes "Inspired by origami and children's pop-up books, Harvard engineers have pioneered a means of mass-producing bee-sized flying microrobots. The breakthrough mechanizes the already state-of-the art process of making Harvard's Mobee robots by hand, by mass producing flat assemblies by the sheet which can be folded and assembled in a single movement. The technique, which cunningly exploits existing machinery for making printed circuit boards, can theoretically be applied to a multitude of electromechanical machines."


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Hero Academy - the new iOS game from the ex-Ensemble team at Robot Entertainment - is a nice piece of game design, but a truly great piece of spot-welding. As a turn-based fantasy battler, it's easy to play yet tricky to play well, it just about survives the implementation of micro-transactions, and it's delivered with a decent bobble-headed art style.

What makes it a little bit more special, though, is the fact that all of this is then stuck behind a front-end that comes straight out of Words With Friends. You search for pals to battle with or select a random match-up, you make a move against your opponent, and then you sit back and wait for them to make theirs. You can message players in-game if you particularly like them (or if you particularly loathe them, I guess), and while you're waiting for a rival to take their turn, you can start a new match with someone else, safe in the knowledge that the familiar scroll-down interface will keep track of everything.

The game itself is pleasantly simple, a multiplayer-only affair in which two teams face each other across a tiled pitch. The object of each battle is to destroy your enemy's crystal(s) before they destroy yours, and you take turns to play: dropping units onto the field, moving them around, attacking or throwing in items. Each turn allows you to make five moves, and that's always long enough to put a plan in motion - bring a new guy in, buff him and get him moving towards the front lines, say - but never long enough to ensure that you haven't left yourself exposed somewhere else.

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In this abridgement of the first chapter of new book Imaginary Games, game designer, philosopher, and writer Chris Bateman, best known for the game Discworld Noir, examines the game-as-art debate from an interesting new angle.

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Art historian Diana Poulsen takes a closer look at the "are games art?" discussion, bringing in an academic perspective steeped in knowledge of games to help untangle the thorny question of what art, precisely, is, and what relationship games have with it.

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Devs can now apply for endowments.

US film critic Roger Ebert famously ignited passions back in 2010 with his assertion that video games were not and never could be labelled as art.

Well, it seems that his government disagrees, having now officially recognised video games as an artform.

As reported by Icrontic, a US government program called the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) now considers games eligible for funding.


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