Loot box legislation

Loot box from Overwatch.Loot boxes are subject to legislation in some countries; other countries are debating legislation.

What is a loot box? Wikipedia states:

In video games, a loot box (sometimes loot crate or prize crate, among other names) is a consumable virtual item which can be redeemed to receive a randomised selection of further virtual items, ranging from simple customization options for a player’s avatar or character, to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armor. A loot box is typically a form of monetisation, with players either buying the boxes directly or receiving the boxes during play and later buying “keys” with which to redeem them.

… Loot boxes are regulated under gambling law in China, Japan, Australia, and the Isle of Man and are the subject of investigations by the gambling regulators of several more countries. They have been criticised as being anti-consumer when implemented in full-priced games. They are a common source of the virtual items used in skin gambling.

[Source]

Recent news about loot box legislation:

[Image: By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55508954]

Carrion: you are the alien blob monster

This looks like fun: in Carrion, you play an alien blob monster, hunting and devouring humans in a failing space colony.

Via Boing Boing:

In most examples of sci-fi horror, a desperate human protagonist must evade, hunt and vanquish the unspeakable alien creature. But what if you were a horrific amorphous nightmare blob, crawling around the red-cast darkness of a failing space colony in search of prey to devour?

This is the premise of Sebastian Krośkiewicz’s “Carrion”, and it looks amazing. Part John Carpenter’s Katamari Damacy, part Shoggoth simulator, all gore, the prototype animations depict a claustrophobic industrial scenario with our hero sliming and slorping around its terrified human victims.

It’s early days, by the looks of it …

See Sebastian Krośkiewicz’s Twitter page.

Generating fantasy maps

Martin O’Leary has created an excellent Fantasy Map Generator — and shared the source code!

I wanted to make maps that look like something you’d find at the back of one of the cheap paperback fantasy novels of my youth. I always had a fascination with these imagined worlds, which were often much more interesting than whatever luke-warm sub-Tolkien tale they were attached to.

At the same time, I wanted to play with terrain generation with a physical basis. There are loads of articles on the internet which describe terrain generation, and they almost all use some variation on a fractal noise approach, either directly (by adding layers of noise functions), or indirectly (e.g. through midpoint displacement). These methods produce lots of fine detail, but the large-scale structure always looks a bit off. Features are attached in random ways, with no thought to the processes which form landscapes. I wanted to try something a little bit different.

There are a few different stages to the generator. First we build up a height-map of the terrain, and do things like routing water flow over the surface. Then we can render the ‘physical’ portion of the map. Finally we can place cities and ‘regions’ on the map, and place their labels.

O’Leary does a first-rate job of explaining the process in clear and comprehensive terms. Best of all, he has provided a series of interactive examples, which are both fun and instructive.

http://mewo2.com/notes/terrain/

Via Boing Boing:

http://boingboing.net/2016/08/11/generate-your-own-random-fanta.html

Verigames: verify software by playing games

VerigamesPlay games to help defend — or at least debug — your nation.

Formal Verification is the process of rigorously analyzing software to detect flaws that make programs vulnerable to exploitation. Performing this analysis requires highly skilled engineers with extensive training and experience. This makes the verification process costly and relatively slow.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Crowd Sourced Formal Verification (CSFV) program is interested in improving and advancing the current processes of formal verification by significantly increasing the number of people working on formal verification projects at any given time through crowd-sourcing. CSFV augments the intensive work done by formal verification experts by greatly decreasing the skill required to do formal verification.

Much of the work required in the process of formal verification can be automated. Computers can be programmed to automatically scour software applications and verify the absence of certain bugs that make the applications vulnerable to misuse. However, certain formal verification work needs to be done by human experts specifically trained to discover and address issues that can be missed by computers. However, there aren’t enough of these experts to cover the huge amount of software generated in today’s modern computing world.

CSFV seeks to add more human expertise to the process of formal verification through fun and engaging video games. The games are created to assist in the formal verification process as players solve puzzles and increase their score. Video games that represent the underlying mathematical concepts allow more people to perform verification analysis of software efficiently. We empower non-experts to effectively do the work of formal verification experts—simply by playing and completing game objectives.

[Verigames: About Us]

verigames.com

facebook.com/PlayVerigames

Verigames YouTube channel

DARPA press release (December 4, 2013)

Via NetworkWorld, via Slashdot.

Example: Xylem

Xylem is a Verigame game which happens to have a nice YouTube video:

Software developers across the world have a major problem producing bug-free reliable code.

Our task is to help the specialists achieve their goal of ensuring that software that is produced is bug-free.

The way we do it is to take that code and turn it into some puzzles and put them in a game that we called Xylem, and crowdsource the games and the results of the game play help us to produce code that is bug-free.

What next?

This is all very interesting, but doesn’t go deep enough.

I want to know more about the principles of how we “take that code and turn it into some puzzles”.

Videogames for Humans

Videogames for Humans book coverTwine is a tool for making interactive fiction in the form of web pages.

A new anthology curated by Merritt Kopas called Videogames For Humans “puts Twine authors, literary writers, and games critics into conversation with one another’s work”.

Behind the fluorescent veil of modern big-business video games, a quiet revolution is happening, and it’s centered on a tool called Twine. Taken up by nontraditional game authors to describe distinctly nontraditional subjects—from struggles with depression, explorations of queer identity, and analyses of the world of modern sex and dating to visions of breeding crustacean horses in a dystopian future—the Twine movement to date has created space for those who have previously been voiceless within games culture to tell their own stories, as well as to invent new visions outside of traditional channels of commerce.

Videogames for Humans, curated and introduced by Twine author and games theorist merritt kopas, puts Twine authors, literary writers, and games critics into conversation with one another’s work, reacting to, elaborating on, and being affected by the same. The result is an unprecedented kind of book about video games, one that will jump-start the discussions that will define the games culture of tomorrow.

[Source: Videogames for Humans]

Book Launch Party:

Monday, 4/20/2015 at 7PM
Babycastles, 137 W. 14th St, New York, NY 10011

babycastles.com

See also:

twinery.org

Twine (software) @ Wikipedia

Via Boing Boing.

Game Analytics From A Game Designer’s Perspective

“Game analytics are not just about sales. They are about getting a better understanding of our games and of our users. They empower us designers to fix gameplay issues and improve the game’s immersion.”

Game analytics are simply the study of our players’ behaviors using statistics. This expression covers all the types of data you may want to track. Most of the time, we tend to associate them with marketing and monetization. However, those statistics are not only for marketing people or producers!

They are a great learning tool, an occasion to get to better know and understand your audience. Game analytics offer us an opportunity to understand players beyond our subjective interpretation.

Analytics boil down to metrics

A metric is a stream of data that is being tracked over time. Metrics can track anything: average session duration, game uninstalls, player demographics…

There are 4 main categories of metrics:

  • Customer metrics: They correspond to all the data related to the acquisition and retention of customers. They can also be seen as the marketers’ data. Specific metrics in that category include DAU (Daily Active Users), ARPU (Average Revenue Per User).
  • Community metrics: Community metrics focus on the community’s behavior and evolution. They track what happens in your in-game chat for example. All sorts of social interactions fall in that category as well. For instance, both in-game and social network messaging.
  • Performance metrics: Performance metrics track your application’s performances and potential bugs or crashes. Be it a response time from your distant server, the game’s loading duration or framerate at runtime. Anything that can help you to improve your back-end systems.
  • Gameplay metrics: Gameplay metrics record anything that happens inside the game, between the player and the game. I.e. time spent in a given level, how many times the player died. They empower us to estimate the quality of the user’s gameplay experience.

[Nathan Lovato]

Shelter 2

“Things got heavy when I played this animal-mothering game.”

Leigh Alexander

In 2013 there was a game called Shelter, where you played a badger ushering your cubs to safety from predators and forest fires and other peril. I avoided it, because from what I heard the appeal was supposed to be how bad you felt when one of them inevitably died.

In the just-launched Shelter 2, you now play a mother lynx. You, the player, get to name each of four different-colored kittens — that’s after you guide the expectant mother through the dark, away from the wolves snapping at her heels, to a hilltop den at the base of a tree. If you succeed at raising any of them to adulthood, the game promises, you can then carry on their lineage.

… The very worst part was the day they came out of the den on their own and began to follow me. Just then I remembered the sound of the wolves on the day the babies were born, and nothing could make me continue playing.

Created by Might and Delight Studios. Available on Steam, GOG.com, and Humble Store.

Artificial Intelligence Bests Humans At Classic Arcade Games

“A computer learning on its own to play complicated video games like Breakout (see video below), in which you have to break down a wall by bouncing a ball off it. After exploring the game by playing it, the computer discovered advanced strategies that few humans know about, such as digging a hole to bounce the ball along the back side of the wall.”

http://news.sciencemag.org/

Via Slashdot.

UT3 Mapping Contest: Potential Bonus Schwag

Voivode: map for Unreal Tournament 3 by the Handy Vandal - Blue Charges Power Node

New prize!

The Handy Vandal will provide Bonus Schwag — perhaps custom T-shirts, the Handy Vandal has not decided yet, but something worth owning — if the contest receives (and accepts) maps from ten or more different mappers.

The Handy Vandal is eager to encourage participation: the contest is a talent search, among other things.

If T-shirts persuade mappers to participate, then T-shirts it shall be. If some other schwag will win your love, please inform the Handy Vandal.

Other ideas? The Handy Vandal welcomes your suggestions for recruiting participants: karl@karljones.com.

Voivode (above): Blue powers up freshly captured power node, while Red counter-attacks with Link gun.