This KLM pilot nails it at Schipol airport in Amsterdam—and any passengers who refused to stash their stuff were likely nailed by their iPads during rapid corrections in 60MPH cross-winds. Read the rest
Its a tough time out there in the world of indie gaming. I talk to a lot of devs ‘off the record’, whether we are just chatting, they are pitching a game to me, or they ask for advice… so I hear opinions from a lot of people and… its a tough time out there. 1,592 games have been added to steam this year apparently (and its only July). How on earth do you get any attention for your game? who on earth is going to buy it? how are you going to break even.
Now to be honest, I’m one of the doomsayers who will tell you that you won’t, and you will almost certainly lose money. Thats just the way things are. Only the top 20% or so will break even, only the top 5% are going to make a living. Maybe. There are a lot of poor games out there, and the globalization of attention means the distribution of attention/money to games gets more skewed all the time.
So you might think its fine for established devs, with money in the bank, and known IP. But actually those devs have a problem new developers do not have. lets arrogantly call it the success trap.
If you are working on your first game, or have a bunch of failed games behind you and little/no press attention / audience, in some ways you have a big advantage. In fact three advantages, a sort of ‘newcomer bonus’…
1) Nobody is bored of hearing about you. You are new, fresh and exciting. If you make an amazing game, you are an ‘overnight success’ and also ‘hot new talent’ and ‘the new face of…XXX’ and all these other media friendly things. We seem hard wired to get excited by ‘new’. If I make the same game, its less newsworthy. Seriously.
2) There is nothing to compare your game to. Its the ‘first’ (even if it isn’t) game from you. MY GOD YOU MUST BE TALENTED. Literally 100% of your games are hits! you are like Guns n Roses with their first album, or the first Highlander movie. Surely everything you make will always be this good how awesome. Also insert comment about minecraft here.
3) You can take risks and do new things and be adventurous with your game, because there is no opportunity cost.
This last one needs some explaining. Right now I am mulling over what to do when I finish tweaking Gratuitous Space Battles 2. I like working on it, I want to keep improving it, making it as good as possible. I may then do a completely new strategy/sim game (designed in my head, but not started yet). I also have 2 ominous looking camera tripods in the office now hinting at something even more ‘new’ I could work on instead.
I could make Democracy 4.
If Positech Games was actually a public, traded company, we would be making Democracy 4. We would *have* to, because shareholders would kill us otherwise. Its the *obvious* thing to do. It would sell, it would make money. We should do it. We should do it in *exactly* the same way that Valve should be making Half Life 3.
And yet…I’m trying to resist doing whats ‘easy’ and expected’ and thinking about doing radical things instead, but this takes effort, and is worrying, because there is an opportunity cost. In other words, if I do something weird and new, it has to do better than Democracy 4, or internally I’ll think I screwed up.
New devs don’t have that in the back of their mind. And thats a good thing. Be experimental while there is no downside.
It's been two years since filmmakers making a documentary about the song "Happy Birthday" filed a lawsuit claiming that the song shouldn't be under copyright. Now, they have filed (PDF) what they say is "proverbial smoking-gun evidence" that should cause the judge to rule in their favor.
The "smoking gun" is a 1927 version of the "Happy Birthday" lyrics, predating Warner/Chappell's 1935 copyright by eight years. That 1927 songbook, along with other versions located through the plaintiffs' investigations, "conclusively prove that any copyright that may have existed for the song itself... expired decades ago."
If the filmmakers' lawyers are right, it could mean a quick route to victory in a lawsuit that's been both slow-moving and closely watched by copyright reform advocates. Warner/Chappell has built a licensing empire based on "Happy Birthday," which in 1996 was pulling in more than $2 million per year.
As fun as building something from your own imagination always is, recreating something from history can be particularly challenging. On top of creating a great-looking LEGO M4A2 Sherman tank from World War II at 1/18th scale, Tommy Styrvoky has added a mine flail, and then motorized the whole thing. Watch the video here to see it in action.
Tommy’s Sherman includes the following features, powered by LEGO Power Functions:
TSA fucking up yet again? How unexpected.
A 16-year-old boy was prohibited from video-recording his own pat-down at New Orleans airport -- something explicitly allowed by the TSA -- and when he recorded his father's pat-down, the TSA supervisor at his checkpoint called the police on him. Read the rest
"That's a shame".
I'm overjoyed to see that I'm not the only one who thinks that the Lego Friends (aka the "we made lego for girls") is idiotic with its pinks/purples/whatnot, "cute" themes and all that shit.
When I was a kid I HOARDED every girl hair and kept them separate in my room because I could make batgirl or a cowgirl or or… anything i wanted! It let you do whatever you want!
My parents got me a mega blocks girly dollhouse lego knock off for christmas, and it was mostly used as a secret base for spies masquerading as a normal family.
After a luncheon together, Patrick Stewart wrote this letter to Gene Roddenberry expressing his concerns and desires for bringing out the human qualities of Jean-Luc Picard (dated October 27th, 1988.)
Maybe I should finally give it a shot now? :p
Bioware's acclaimed Star Wars RPG series, Knights of the Old Republic, has long suffered a major pockmark in the form of the original game's sequel having a buggy, rushed launch on PC in 2005. KOTOR II was left for dead for so long, fans took it upon themselves to fix its problems, at which point they discovered whole swaths of cut content within the game—and famously modded the game to bring those cut bits back.
Even after the mod's launch and continued development, neither the game's publisher Bioware nor the game's original developer Obsidian bothered officially patching the PC version since April 2005—until Tuesday, that is. With no official Web or social media announcement, KOTOR II received its first official patch in over 10 years exclusively on Steam, and the update is crazy huge.
Most importantly, the game now includes direct Steam Workshop mod support, meaning players can download and install the Sith Lords Restored Content Mod with greater ease. Additionally, the game now runs on Linux, OS X, and SteamOS; natively supports PC gamepads; includes achievements and cloud save support; and can be viewed in both widescreen modes and resolutions up to 5K.
Photographer Matt Emmett doesn't pay attention to signs that say "do not enter." While traveling around Europe, the urban explorer looks for the eerie beauty found in the derelict and forgotten. Emmett has photographed everything from abandoned hotels to power stations; before entering a new location, he always reads up about the history first. He offers a detailed description of each picture he takes on his Flickr.
"I enjoy being in such magnificent places alone or in a small group," Emmett told mental_floss. "The atmosphere that hangs over a derelict power station or steel plant, for me, puts them on a level with the Angkor Wat's or Machu Pichu's of this world."
A rooftop view of an abandoned asylum in Northern Italy. A lot of the medical equipment and machines can still be found inside.
A ruined chapel at a private residence in Italy.
The inside of a cooling tower in Belgium.
A crane in an old factory.
A radome in Belgium.
Inside the radome.
The overgrown window of a UK manor house.
A decaying library in a manor house in England.
Faded fresco paintings cling to the walls of the entrance hall at a large abandoned Villa complex.
This strange structure was created by an artist to house himself and his sheep. It's located on private land in the Cotswolds, England.
Rusting radar dishes along the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coast in England.
The banister of an abandoned Italian villa. It was converted into a psychiatric hospital in the 1800s.
Light shining through the Oculus Tower in Italy. The factory was used to process sugarbeets in sugars and oils.
Wooden cabinets that were used to hold patient information at a psychiatric hospital in Northern Italy.
An old television sits by the window in Bull Manor in England.
A ruined colonnade encased in foliage. This photo is one of the photographer's favorites.
A home abandoned after a fire during World War II.
A statue of Neptune stands guard over a secret underwater dome in the UK.
A Victorian reservoir located under the streets of London, England. "The echo in here had fantastic delay to it, my whoop coming back to me around four seconds after it left my mouth," Emmett said.
A surgery room at an abandoned psychiatric hospital. "The hospital was famous in the 1930s for being one of the pioneering sites for the research and early practice of frontal lobe lobotomy," Emmett writes.
A long hallway of a military hospital used to take care of U.S. soldiers during the Gulf War. "Places like this remind me that [nature] always prevails and nothing we create can ever stand up to her and the passage of time," Emmett said.
Another view of the Oculus Tower in Italy.
A tunnel in underground London.
Photographer and son in the Box Quarry in the UK.
A jet engine test area at Pyestock NGTE, a Royal Aircraft Establishment facility in Fleek, UK, that has since been demolished.
Inside an empty castle in Italy.
Zero UI is the new term for "invisible interfaces"—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: "If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way." [Fast Company] Read the rest
"Relentlessly gay" :D And declaring something a "christian area" just because *they* are deeply religious... well, some people have the nerve. Sucks to be them 8)
Baltimore resident Julie Baker raised $43K on GoFundMe to make her yard more gay after posting a letter she says she got from a neighbor complaining about her "relentlessly gay" yard decor. Snopes investigator Kim LaCapria did a little digging and found the story got curiouser and curiouser. Read the rest
like tears in rain
Blade Runner (1982) dir. Ridley Scott
I made the mistake of checking the comments the other day. Both the "Take politics [your wrong opinions] out of my webcomics!" and "I'll never read this comic again because of this one strip!111" were both abundant. What a surprise :D
I can't help it, but anyone saying "Walking on Sunshine" reminds me of Philip J. Fry singing it badly.
Pomplamoose plays a delightful cover of “Walking on Sunshine,” a 1983 classic by Katrina and the Waves. Pomplamoose’s new album Besides is just out this week.
It’s always nice when you can mix business and pleasure… Canadian anesthesiologist and LEGO fan Lucie Filteau spends much of her time next to a GE Aisys C2 anesthesia machine, so she decided to build a LEGO version of it to raffle off at a recent fundraiser. You can compare it to the real thing, and even see it in action – LEGO style!
If there's something I appreciated, it was the fact that 20+ years after Doom the character can climb over some obstacles. And the chainsaw.
Bethesda got E3 off to a roaring start with a nearly 8-minute long gameplay video of the upcoming DOOM sequel.
The cavernous interior of the MZK building (Site 112A at Baikonur Cosmodrome). Abandoned for some years, it contains the second Buran orbiter and a static test model.
9 more images in gallery
Thanks to reddit, we discovered this amazing photo essay by Ralph Mirebs from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan. A lot of Mirebs' photography has been documenting the industrial decline that followed the disintegration of the USSR at the end of the Cold War, and this most recent post starkly illustrates this via the fate of the Soviet shuttle program, Buran. We've included some of our favorites in the gallery above, but be sure to check Mirebs' post for the whole set.
Buran (Blizzard) was a reaction to NASA's Space Shuttle and closely resembled the American reusable orbiter, but without the latter's main engines (Buran was powered into orbit by the Energia heavy lift rocket). It only made a single (unmanned) space flight, in November 1988. Orbiter (OK)-1K1 Buran made two orbits before returning to earth (unlike the Space Shuttle, Buran was capable of autonomous flight from the outset). A lack of funds saw the program suspended shortly after its return to earth, and Boris Yeltsin cancelled it in 1993. It got worse from there; in 2002 an earthquake caused the roof of the MIK building in which OK-1K1 was being stored collapsed, destroying the orbiter and killing eight people.
Following that tragedy, the second orbiter, OK-1K2 (Ptichka, or Little Bird) was moved to the slightly smaller (but still huge) facility we see here. This building, known as MZK (Russian for Assembly and Fueling Complex, we think), was specially designed to contain the massive shockwave that would follow a catastrophic explosion during fueling, and prevent damage to other parts of the Baikonur complex. While that may seem like overkill, a failed launch of the USSR's N1 heavy lifter in 1969 was equivalent to almost 7kT, about half that of the Hiroshima bomb.
Nick Jensen and his wife Sarah, married for ten years, are very frightened of families like the one shown above. They have promised to get a divorce if same-sex marriage is legalized in Australia. Read the rest
A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit has extracted emails between corporate lobbyists and US Trade Rep officials working on the secretive, corrupt Trans Pacific Partnership treaty. Read the rest
I couldn't agree more with the middle panel
The special enzyme, extracted from a beetle found deep within the rain forest, is unceremoniously pushed into the ioniser. The machine fires and activates the hidden medicinal quality in the ingredient. The remaining material rolls down the conveyor belt, and it's pressed into a pill and shipped off. You check the financial report. You're not making enough to justify the space occupied in your factory. So much for that rare acne medication you'd just discovered. This is business after all. This is Big Pharma by Twice Circled.
Yes, it's a business simulation, focusing on the exciting and potentially lucrative world of medical science. Import ingredients, create production lines, and sell off your finished product. Keep your most profitable drugs and clear away unprofitable ones for more financially acceptable ones. It's a cutthroat business to be sure, but it's one in which success can translate into a very rewarding experience.
The game on paper isn't particularly complicated. Bring in ingredients, adjust concentrations and mix other ingredients in to create medicine and ship off the finished product. However, in execution, the game is wonderfully deep, and requires some very meticulous planning of machines and conveyor belt routes in order to maximize your efficiency and, thus, your profits.
More profits of course means you can research upgrades and technologies to make even more valuable medicines. You can develop new machines in order to improve your efficiency and free up floor space, or send explorers out to remote climates and find exotic new materials with which to derive your cures. To top it all off, you can use your finances to expand your factories, giving you more floorspace and points to begin and end your production lines.
The game has a warm cartoonish look to it, which I think is welcome for this, as keeping things visually simple means that when production lines sprawl you can still make out easily by eye what's going on. And you'll have to be able to tell what's going on in the event that upgrades or new machines mean you can improve your lines and how quickly you bring in money. There are a few minor graphical glitches with the UI, such as elements not quite being the right size for the chosen resolution, but there's already been steady improvements made to these and I have no doubt that more are on the way. (In fact, I'm downloading another significant update as I write this.)
Your facility sounds like you'd expect a bustling medical factory would. Spraying from distilling machines and whirring mixers creates the background noise as you build up your lines, the belts roll as product is moved along the way, and the various machines have their own sounds. It's a nice touch, and it means your factory creates its own unique soundtrack as you play. Consequently, just as no two games will likely play out identically, so too will they not sound the same. There is also a proper soundtrack to the game, and it's catchy and upbeat, and I swear it's made to intentionally work well with the sounds of the machines, as they all sound good mixed together.
Keeping the game from becoming stagnant are AI corporations to compete with. They will gradually develop their own medicines, including ones that will compete with yours, and they'll begin to dig into your profits if you don't adapt quickly. Deciding what concentrations to work with in your medicines for the best profits, as well as when to stop producing a long-running cure as it becomes less profitable is an important part of the game. Also to account for are random events in the world, which will drive up or down prices of various drugs. If something happens to drive up the selling price of painkillers, for example, it would be prudent for you to, well, exploit the situation and increase your painkiller production. Again, it's just good business.
Business simulations are an interesting niche of games. They can tend to approach any industry and boil them down to their base elements to make something engaging to players. Big Pharma is no exception to this. The planning element is rewarding even if it takes a little time to get used to. It's got a rewarding difficulty curve, as the simplest of cures make way to more elaborate upgraded drugs and eventually compounds with lines snaking around and a chorus of machines working away to produce something powerful and valuable. People who enjoy business sims, and want to engage with something that requires planning without overzealous micromangement may find Big Pharma to be the cure for what ails them.
Yup you read that, the strategy/management/cure-em-up developed by Twice Circled and published by us is now taking pre-orders with beta access from the ‘official’ site. You get a steam key with your purchase, for people worrying about that (but its not active yet). This is another of those ‘externally developed but published by us’ games, which I’m really quite getting into these days. I have to admit I am horribly, horribly addicted to Big Pharma already. Its got the balance of strategy, difficulty and fun absolutely spot on, and I even find myself humming the music when I’m not playing. I think its going to be pretty popular. Check out the buy link:
If you aren’t sure what the hell I’m talking about, check out the trailer below…
As ever with new indie games, getting people to hear about a new release is just HELL. The best system seems to be to beg people to tweet, retweet and like/share it on facebook, reddit and similar sites, so if you do any of that for this game, know that we really appreciate it. And if you have a youtube channel and want to monetize lets play footage of the game, know that we are fine with that too. If you have a bazillion followers on youtube, and you want a free copy of the game, then email cliff at positech dot co dot uk. And any journalists wanting to cover the game, or interview Tim (or even me!) about it, please do get in touch. Looking for the press kit? It’s here.
And if you get stuck/have feedback, we have a forum for the game set up here.
Isn't that how these things work? They're ready on just about anyone mention-worthy kicking the bucket.