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Good Robot stories are hard to find

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Review of ‘Robots; The Recent A.I.’

Being a fan of discovering new authors to follow I’m naturally drawn to short stories and whenever i can get my hands on a collection of shorts from various authors, I’m even happier. It’s a hit and miss game, but the odds are that I’ll find at least one or two intriguing writers that leave me looking up more of their work. My expectations were blown out of the water when I grabbed a copy of ‘Robots; the Recent A.I.’ at a local comic-con.

Edited by Rich Horton and Sean Wallace, the variety of A.I. inspired stories were clearly chosen for unique spin and expert writing. (I’ll ditch a story two sentences in if I don’t like the writer’s style and almost every story in this collection had me interested and hungry for more.) And by ‘unique spin’ I’m addressing the household A.I. units that chose whether to carry on with the daily routines when the humans didn’t return in ‘Houses’, by Mark Pantoja, to ‘Kiss Me Twice’ by Mary Robinette Kowal, about an A.I. program that chose to visually personify Mae West (in black and white, no less) to suit a particular detective’s preferences.

So here’s the wrap; if you like a good story, A.I or not, and you’re looking for some talented authors to follow, grab a copy of this collection. You’re guaranteed to come out the other side with a list of names and a pampered imagination.

Grab yourself a copy here

~review by Ella Qyint

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Casual Gaming is Leveling Up!

Casual Gaming is Taking On a Whole New Meaning

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When Flash games first became popular in the early 2000s, they had the distinction of being quick and easy games you could boot up and start playing in minutes, and finish playing within a few hours. Unlike console games, they didn’t require too much involvement, and because Flash was so easy to understand and master, it allowed many developers to create good games from scratch and market them to intended audiences. These were the early days of casual gaming, and without realizing it, Flash game developers had sparked a trend that continues to this day.

Since the popularization of mobile gaming, Flash has seen much less use than it used to. Nowadays, many developers choose to develop content in HTML5 in order to ensure that their games are playable across different platforms, be they desktop computers or mobile phones. Casual gaming has seen renewed interest with this new trend as well, with many players wanting to be able to pick up a game on their phone in their spare time, and leave it just as easily.

This has given birth to many different games, with classic casual games being reinvented and rediscovered as the market continues to grow. Many developers have managed to recreate the mechanics of the traditional RPG (character development, equipment customization, and the like) into simple, classic games Frogger-like games like The Quest Keeper. Spin Genie aims to do the same, marrying action RPG elements with the simple mechanics of slot machines, and launching its products in HTML5. These efforts have resulted in a mobile market where there are games for just about anyone.90866

Oddly enough, this has also paved the way of a new kind of casual game to evolve: the zero-player game. Zero-player games are as casual as casual games get, requiring little to no player input at all for the games to progress, resulting in “idle games”. Just like most casual games, these originated in Flash games such as Idle Web Tycoon, which now sees a similar reincarnation in Bitcoin Billionaire. There are also games that have married “idle games” with text-based games, such as the popular ZPG, Godville. Transmutations of the popular “Progress Quest” genre where the human players are not more than spectators in the game, these ZPGs have become rather popular to mobile users, who increasingly prefer to play games that progress without their interaction. As we said, they are as casual as casual games get.

What could this mean for the future of gaming? Mobile gaming has often been said to be the realm of casual players, and with this ongoing trend, it seems likely that it will remain this way for years to come.

 

Article Contributed by  James Murphy

Project Nexus 2 Kickstarter Project

My good friends Swain and Krinkles have decided to take their skills to the next level by creating a fully realized 3D game in the unity engine for their next Project “Project Nexus 2″ The orginal Project Nexus game was a feat in adobe flash programming. Its only natural they decided to think bigger and break out of the confines of that restrictive program. However, to develop a fully commercial game requires intense time and dedication, and thats where this kickstarter comes in.
Help these guys out so they can get this game out not only to the decade strong Madness fans, but to the broader gaming audience!.

I wish these guys the best, I plan to help them any way I can. I fell in love with the Madness franchise back when it was first introduced in 2002, and was lucky enough to have created some memorable games for its fans over the years. It would be a great delight and swell of Pride to see it get the full recognition its always deserved.

GodZilla :(

After watching Godzilla I can’t help but feel I got suckered with a bait-n-switch. The trailers depicted horrific imagery of fear, destruction and despair. Ominous Gregorian chants, people running in the streets, and the Glasglow smiling roar of a giant creature as the doors closed the shot- were no where to be found. what we got instead was some really incredibly tedious exposition by actors who were seemingly phoning it in from the beginning. What’s worse , the almost hour and a half of explanatory buildup had nothing to do with Godzilla.

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A lot of what made Godzilla not work for me have a lot to do with the actual story.  Something the trailers attempted to keep covered since many of those memorable trailer shots are completely different from the final movie.. So take this as a heads up. I will be spoiling aspects of the movie that basically ruined it for me… so consider this a warning!

The movie attempts to create a strong sense of tension and build up for the eventual monster reveal. On many occasions it tries to extend that tension with plenty of false reveals, that don’t work. Y’know kinda how in a horror movie there will be a  loud musical chord sound, and a screech, only to reveal it was just some frightened cat? Well this movie attempts to do this for the first hour and a half. Ultimately though, the flat dialogue, and uninspired acting only further frustrated me as I sat there uncomfortably in my seat. Also doesn’t help that the movie hops through characters for that  first hour and a half, so you as the viewer never have anyone to relate to or care about. Its just sequences, of scientists  saying “something is out there!” but none of his family believes him,-of generals looking at maps in control rooms, -army platoons scurrying between positions with guns drawn, (how that would help them against a 600 foot monster is beyond me.) -Nurses trying to care for their patients and frantically calling their boyfriends.. And close tight shots of children looking deadpanningly out towards danger while adults run around with their heads cut off. Good god that must’ve happened like 3 times in this movie. All with children who weren’t even part of the main cast. Are we supposed to feel something? Is this a powerful shot, when the characters are just throw aways? Steven Spielberg does shots like these in his movies, but it usually a pivotal moment when a MAIN character has discovered something. These days its as if directors just grab these iconic shots just for the sake of emotional buildup without realizing, YOU STILL NEED TO DEVELOP THAT CHARACTER for that buildup to have any meaning….

 

So we have all these characters with no development time. Then we have the monsters…. not godzilla, but bug-like creatures straight out of  a ‘Gears of War’  game, with smooth dolphin like skin and LED lit eyes.. Extremely plain and derivative looking bugs, that come from the planets core to feed on nuclear missiles,  mate and breed.Its only then that Godzilla has picked up their mating calls and comes out of the watery depths to kick their ass.. So in comes Godzilla – fashionably 2 acts late, with his entourage of battleships .. Its around this time when the Japanese scientist huddles all the military fools together to give them a quick history on “Gojira”..Thats right, no mention of Godzilla until he shows up, and then we get a rushed history lesson on how he was last seen in the 50s when they attempted to bomb him to hell.. So not only is this really not a reboot/remake  what have you, but its really a sequel of the original.. From this point on, this japanese scientist, insist that Godzilla is here to restore the balance of nature, not to interfere with his mission and “let them fight”…. So after being  blueballed for almost 2 hours, this movie  isn’t even about Godzilla, and to top it off, it isn’t the vengeful Godzilla that was portrayed in the trailers… Totally got suckered… “Godzilla 2014″  is a sad and confused movie, that wants to tell a meaningful story about a Corny giant monster, but regrettably fails…. So really its Star Ship troopers, mixed with Independence day, guest staring Godzilla… No thanks.

 

To the credit of  the CG director and all the amazing artists involved in those last 20 minutes,..  While the bugs were terrible, -Godzilla himself was incredibly detailed, moved with real weight and his atomic Breath and dorsal fin light up details were visually arresting.. Not to mention that breath taking roar.. it is some of the most amazing visuals of Godzilla you’ll see, at least till the inevitable sequel.I just wished they couldve made this first one about.. you know.. Godzilla.