Celebrating the Adventurous and the Indie in Berlin's Gaming Scene, Fri+Sat

There’s no question independent gaming has found its voice. But it’s increasingly finding something else: a scene. And that doesn’t just mean people huddled quietly around glowing displays in quiet isolation. Artists, advocates, and aficionados gather to celebrate gaming as an art form, as an event. It’s not just some aesthetic or nostalgic experience of gaming, either, as with the explosion of 8-bit: people are gathering for love of mechanics. And as the game mechanic and art venture in new directions, that is an exciting time for digital visual and interactive culture, generally. One such hub is A MAZE. Centered …

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Faraway, a New Procedural Audiovisualtastic Game from Eliss Creator, in Teaser

Steph Thirion is back. The talented maker of Eliss, an iOS game that devilishly challenged players and stunned ears and eyes with goodness, Steph now has something new to tease. Faraway is, like Eliss before it, a one-man opus. Gameplay, visuals, and sound are all designed by the artist, making for a uniquely singular aesthetic vision. With procedural content and a narrative involving a comet in a starscape, it looks like yet another in a small but growing vanguard of games that take on the role of part game, part A/V album – slash – experience. From developer Steph: I …

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In Sand and Pixels, Playing with Worlds Virtual and Tangible; Built with Kinect

We’ve seen fairly impressive work involving people waving their arms around at cameras, but at the end of the day, you still have people … waving their arms around at cameras. In a refreshingly different take, the world of the game Mimicry is the “ultimate sandbox game” – set in a literal sandbox. Participants manipulate piles of real sand, as Kinect-powered cameras track their work and project imagery onto the sand from a rendered analog version of the same world. The player mimics the virtual, the virtual mimics the player, and the stuff of each fuse in a real/virtual hybrid …

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GlitchHiker: A Game That Dies, Slowly, if You Play Badly

Games have modeled various mechanisms for conveying win and failure, and in particular some abstract simulation of your life force being sucked gradually as you make mistakes. But GlitchHiker is different: play poorly, and it’s not your virtual avatar that dies. The game dies. And following gameplay at the Dutch Game Jam that created it, GlitchHiker has become extinct. (Happily, yes, there is a Windows download.) With gorgeous, elemental visuals and a lovely adaptive music soundtrack, it’s a game you might well feel motivated to try to save. I’ll let the creators explain:

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Platforming as Musical Interface: Jonathan Mak Shows Sound Shapes for New PlayStation Vita

Load up an Ableton set or mix samples, and you’re already in the domain of interactive music. With joysticks and arcade buttons and other controls, the blending of game and musical interface into generative compositional fusion is even clearer. It’s little wonder many electronic musicians take an interest in the nexus of gaming and music. Any discussion of interactive music scores for games would be incomplete without Jonathan Mak. His self-produced title Everyday Shooter used classic top-down space combat as a musical experience: not only do sound effects in the game act as musical elements, but even the flow of …

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Isle of Tune: City Simulation as Music Sequencing, Soon to Leap from Browser to Mobile

A music score is, in essence, a way of making space into time: traversing notation from left to right and top to bottom, you move through a series of events. So, why not make that spatial map an actual map, as in the familiar, isometric interactive cityscape popularized by Will Wright’s classic game Sim City? Isle of Tune does just that: lay out trees, houses, and city streets, and you sequence musical patterns as virtual islands. It’s available right now on the Web, powered by Flash – Chrome users can even get a one-click install via the Chrome Web Store. …

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Inside Handheld Game Art: The Art Style and Making of Swords & Sworcery, Superbrothers Pixel Cinema

Visualist? VJ? Live cinema? Here’s a new one for you: Input Output Cinema. And while IO Cinema has already found a niche in the indie Toronto scene as “an ambiguously pluralized and irritatingly cryptic audiovisual art and design organization,” it now has its first blockbuster game. Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP on the iPad is big – Angry Birds big, only with, erm, a very different visual sense. That’s before an imminent release for the iPod touch and iPhone has even come to fruition, sure to open it up to even more casual gamers. (I can’t wait to see it …

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Inside Handheld Game Art: The Art Style and Making of Swords & Sworcery, Superbrothers Pixel Cinema

Visualist? VJ? Live cinema? Here’s a new one for you: Input Output Cinema. And while IO Cinema has already found a niche in the indie Toronto scene as “an ambiguously pluralized and irritatingly cryptic audiovisual art and design organization,” it now has its first blockbuster game. Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP on the iPad is big – Angry Birds big, only with, erm, a very different visual sense. That’s before an imminent release for the iPod touch and iPhone has even come to fruition, sure to open it up to even more casual gamers. (I can’t wait to see it …

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Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery

Jim Guthrie was a rockstar long before the iPad was. Paired with pixel-intense artist Craig D. Adams (aka Superbrothers) and the co-design and coding effort of a crack team of video game “wizards” at the indie studio capy, he’s made a soundtrack that’s destined to be a gaming classic. But if you don’t want to play it, you can still listen to it. And if you’re playing it, you may find that it feels as though you’re listening to it, and gazing into its artwork. From the moment you tap to launch it, Swords & Sworcery plunges you into a …

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Climbing Out of the Uncanny Valley: Rockstar Shows Off Depth-Scanning Facial Tech

Human beings remain impressive organic technology; we’re gifted with extraordinary abilities to detect tiny variations in facial expression. But that minor miracle of perception can be an animator’s nightmare, once you edge into the realm of attempted realism. The key is to reach the other side of the so-called “uncanny valley.” Perhaps even more impressive as an application of depth sensing cameras than Microsoft’s Kinect, Rockstar is showing off the MotionScan technology employed in the upcoming video game L.A. Noire. The results, rather than uncannily poor, look uncannily good.

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