Feb 14 11:26

Postkarte von Agata: Piratenschiffe und Deckenwigwams

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Agata Góralczyk ist als Langzeitreisende in virtuellen Welten unterwegs. Einmal im Monat schickt sie uns  eine Postkarte - diesmal ist es eine Flaschenpost aus Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass.

Lieber Rainer,
wann hast Du das letzte Mal ein Abenteuer erlebt? So ein wirkliches, waschechtes Abenteuer? Mit Gefahren und Räubern und so. So eines, wo man nachher ein Glas kühler Limonade oder eine Tasse heißen Kakaos bekommt.

Ich schicke Dir diese Nachricht nicht von ungefähr als Flaschenpost. Wir haben gerade vom Pier auf der Insel Molida abgelegt. Den Kurs habe ich schon auf meiner Seekarte mit dem Stift eingezeichnet und Linnebeck kann vollen Dampf voraus machen.

Aber warte! Ich fang mal lieber richtig von vorne an: Meine Freundin Tetra ist entführt worden. Das ist ziemlich blöd, weil sie nämlich eine viel bessere Piratin ist als ich. Jetzt muss ich sie finden. Ich hab aber ein bisschen Angst vor dem Geisterschiff.

Feb 10 15:57

Style is King footnotes #5: Limasse Five's NaissanceE

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In continuation of my piece on visual innovators in games, I couldn't help but admire the sheer beauty and originality of the up and coming NaissanceE, due to be released later this week. I asked its creator Mavros Sedeño a few questions about his stylish, nearly monochromatic first-person puzzler. 

In your own words: What makes NaissanceE's visual style unique?

NaissanceE uses simple texture-less shapes combined in such a way that leads to rich and complex environments. This paradoxical association creates an unusual visual style helping to give this world its particular mood. In addition, the almost colour-less ambiance re-enforces the feeling of desolation and abandonment the player experiences when exploring the endless gigantic structures of NaissanceE. 
Feb 08 13:44

"The Process"-Footnotes: An interview with Michael Cook

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All good things have come to an end. (Unless they are procedurally generated, I guess.) Recently Rainer tried to introduce the readers of Der Standard to the wonders of procedural generation with this article, but I had already plunged the further depths of this topic in last year's article for German games publication GameStar. During my extensive research, I conducted a series of in-depth interviews with a few notable game designers on procedural generation in games today. This is the fifth and final of a series of diminuitively nicknamed "footnotes", and we saved the maddest madness for the end: Michael Cook designed "Angelina", an artificial intelligence which can design games.

Hint: Not only is this interview, as Cook himself mentioned, "incredibly thorough". It also starts withough much exposition. If you want to get a general idea of what Cook and Angelina do, you might first want to read the articles by Lewis Denby or Joe Martin which deal with the more basic aspects of the project. If you're feeling more adventurous, however, you can dive right in -- I promise there are no random monsters and no permadeath lying in wait.

While I have a basic understanding of what your ANGELINA is about, do you maybe have a short standard description of the project and your role in it?

ANGELINA is a PhD project investigating ways that software can autonomously build videogames that are fun, innovative and meaningful. I’m the sole contributor to the project’s code, although I’ve been fortunate enough to have excellent supervision and guidance from Simon Colton and some really informative analysis and experimental design help from Jeremy Gow. Jeremy and I work in Simon Colton’s Computational Creativity Group.

Feb 06 11:21

"The Process"-Footnotes: An interview with Pwnee Studios

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Recently Rainer tried to introduce the readers of Der Standard to the wonders of procedural generation with this article, but I had already plunged the further depths of this topic in last year's article for games publication GameStar. During my extensive research, I conducted a series of in-depth interviews with a few notable game designers on procedural generation in games today. In this interview, the fourth of a series of diminuitively nicknamed "footnotes", I talked to Pwnee Studios, who released Cloudberry Kingdom last year. (If you want a more elaborate introduction, Pwnee's own Jordan Fisher and Julian Adams wrote two fascinating articles about the game and its use of procedural generation for Gamasutra.)

In your (excellent) in-depth article on Gamasutra, you described Cloudberry Kingdom in great detail. However, how would you describe it to an audience of non-industry people? Specifically, what sets Cloudberry Kingdom apart from other sidescrolling platformers with an emphasis on procedural generation, such as Spelunky?

If we were to describe Cloudberry Kingdom to a casual group of people, we would likely describe it as a game like Mario 3, but harder…and it never actually has to end. It’s a platformer that has an infinite number of randomly generated levels. The thing that sets us apart from other procedurally generated platformers is our emphasis on action, rather than being a puzzle-type adventure. What we really aimed for with Cloudberry Kingdom was a game that was mindless fun, something that you can play for hours on end without really exhausting yourself. In every classic platformer we have played in the past, we were disappointed when it ended. Since we were kids, we wanted to be able to play a platformer that would never have to end, so we made one!

Feb 03 18:06

Static Electricity: On Photography in Videogames

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The following guest article by Lana Polansky - a Montreal-based game critic, crafter, writer and professional scowler - first appeared on her own blog. She was kind enough to allow me to republish this excellent and thoughtful article here as part of VGT's series on in-game photography, Screenshot Deluxe - be sure to check out Eron Rauch's great article on the topic as well as my essay here.

You can find more of Lana Polansky's work at sufficientlyhuman. com and follow her on Twitter. Thanks, Lana!

Killing Floor is one of the most unforgivably ugly games I have ever played. The FPS is about balls-to-the-wall grit and brutality. Best played as a co-op game, Killing Floor is not made for the patient sniper: enemy chokepoints are everywhere, writhing with ghouls and zombies, attacking you and your squad as mercilessly as the map architecture affronts the senses. Everything is overlayed with a grainy filter; set pieces are broken, abandoned and often aflame. Every nook and cranny screams violence, dereliction, and mortal peril.

Jan 31 21:04

Subotron im Februar

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Gameskultur im Wiener Museumsquartier: Wiens Nervenzentrum für Spielerisches subotron hat auch im Februar eine interessante Reihe an Veranstaltungen auf dem Programm. Ab sofort gibt's auch auf VGT einen monatlichen Überblick. Mein persönliches Highlight:  Jakub Dvorsky vom wunderbaren Amanita Design gibt sich gemeinsam mit Broken Rules-Kopf Felix Bohatsch die Ehre. 

Zum Einstieg als Einführung und Erinnerungsstütze folgt nach dem Klick das wunderbare subotron-Videoporträt von Michael Cherdchupan für Kollisionsabfrage.

Jan 31 16:05

VGT goes GameStandard: Best of Indie Januar 2014

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Die monatliche Kooperation mit dem GameStandard zeigt wieder ein Best-of der schönsten Indie-Games-News.

Es ist so etwas wie eine kleine Renaissance: War es vor vielen Jahren noch selbstverständlich und de facto alternativlos, gemeinsam mit einem anwesenden Freund vor einem TV oder Monitor in verbissenem Wettkampf lokal gegeneinander anzutreten, ist es dank Online-Spiel und globalem Multiplayer-Boom im Internet in den letzten Jahren etwas still um "local multiplayer" geworden. Völlig zu Unrecht, wie die schleichende Rückkehr des geselligen Kräftemessens vor dem Bildschirm beweist. Für alle gilt: Blitzartige Reflexe, solides Gameplay, ein paar Freunde und Freundinnen auf dem Sofa  und eine gehörige Portion Schadenfreude und Ehrgeiz beleben so manchen öden Partyabend.