CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 Feb]

 
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Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015
The player isn't an audience for the comedy of Jazzpunk. The player instigates the laughs.

During the first mission in the surreal cyberpunk comedy-adventure game Jazzpunk, the player may run across a frog who is trying to hack into a Starbuck’s internet service in order to use the company’s WiFi. This “side quest” initiates a mini-game that essentially resembles the arcade classic Frogger, as the player takes on the role of the frog attempting to reach his interface device by hopping skillfully through oncoming traffic.


However, unlike in Frogger, in which the player is given three lives to successfully traverse the screen from its bottom to its top, following the player’s first failed attempt, the game doesn’t load up the next froggy life for the player to continue trying to get to the other side of the screen. Instead, the game switches back to the frog in the Jazzpunk world who now wears a cast on one of its legs and who asks, “Again?,” before the player can make another attempt. What follows is frogs being squished over and over again in the Frogger clone with an interim screen following each “death” that shows the Jazzpunk frog suffering more and more injury. By the fourth or fifth failure, the frog is nearly in a full body cast and crutches, and he simply pleads with the player, “Please, no more!”


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Tuesday, Jan 13, 2015
by Marshall Sandoval
Have rumors of the death of iOS gaming been greatly exaggerated?

Last year, Edge published an article titled “How Clones, Fear, Sanitisation and Free-to-Play Soured Apple’s iOS Gaming Revolution”. With the exception of a few bright spots, the article painted the App Store as a place that indie games go to die and fretted that clones and free-to-play titles were choking off any hope of innovation on the platform. Less than a year later, innovative games are still arriving for iPhone and iPad. Are things still heading the wrong way or have rumors of the death of iOS gaming been greatly exaggerated?


There is little doubt that problems on the app store persist, but the iOS ecosystem is making progress. A case could be made that 2014 was the platform’s strongest year ever from a creative standpoint. “I’d say there are more good games on iOS than there ever have been,” says Matt Myer, one of the designers of Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure. Evidence of the burgeoning creativity in the mobile space comes in part from the multiple Independent Games Festival award nominations given to mobile games this year.


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Friday, Jan 9, 2015
The companion apps for Unity highlight the antagonistic relationship between the art of games and the business of games.

One of the most ridiculed aspects of Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the map. It’s littered with collectible icons.


This by itself annoyed many players, but more annoying is the fact that a good chunk of those collectible treasure chests can’t be opened unless you link your game to multiple companion apps. It’s an awkward and frustrating integration of “social hooks,” but these apps are worth investigating because they include something fascinating. Sadly, they’re not fascinating for narrative or lore reasons, but for academic reasons: The companion apps for Unity highlight the antagonistic relationship between the art of games and the business of games.


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Thursday, Jan 8, 2015
Words can deceive. The way we fight reveals our true nature.

Generally speaking, I don’t miss having roommates. Those dishes in the sink are my own doing. The person-to-bathroom ratio is suitably low. I can walk around the house in various states of undress without offending anyone. It’s good to be king, even if your kingdom is a small apartment.


One thing that I do miss about living with a motley horde is being able to poke my head out into the hallway and instantly find a Smash Bros. opponent. Instead, I’ve been putting a considerable amount of time into the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U online mode. Because I haven’t yet abandoned my delusion of becoming competent at the game, I mostly play 1-on-1 “for glory” (meaning no items, no stage hazards) matches. It’s a unique experience that differs from your standard in-person Smash-fest in some key ways:


1. You have no rule options. It’s a 2-stock match with a 5 minute timer.
2. You keep playing the same person until one of you disconnects.
3. There’s no voice chat.


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Wednesday, Jan 7, 2015
The characters in This War of Mine live in a home situated in a larger world that is much colder, much more callous than the bright and cheery suburban void that the homes of The Sims exist in.

The dollhouse is a place to prepare for real life. Of course, most toys, most play has often served that cultural role. Play becomes a space in which children can try on different roles and practice their conceptions of those roles for the future. We play, we practice, and we prepare.


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