Author Archives: Caroline Kim

MAGFest 2016 and the Future of Gaming

MAGFest, short for Music and Gaming Festival, occurred last weekend at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in Maryland. With a multitude of attendees and contributors, MAGFest is the largest gaming festival in the DC Metro area. Not only can attendees play popular titles against each other, but they can also discover upcoming indie games curated by the MAGFest staff. These games range from smartphone puzzle games to intense RPGs, with over 50 games selected to showcase at the festival. Attendees were able to attend panels led by the developers and experience the games first-hand in the 24-hour Indie Arcade.

Annual Indie Arcade Hosted at American University’s Game Lab

In case you missed it, Indie Arcade, an annual event hosted by the Smithsonian Museum of Art and American University’s Game Lab, featured 20 indie game developers this year.  The games ranged from tabletop to choose-your-own-adventure to VR, most of them family-friendly and nonviolent. Although only the pop-up event was open for six hours, Indie Arcade pulled in over 4,000 people and exposed the public to the lesser known side of gaming. Below are some of the games we thought were pretty cool:

Dead Man’s Trail

Dead Man’s Trail is a zombie mobile game for both iOS and Android. Similar to the Oregon Trail series, the player will select a vehicle, keep the travelers happy (and healthy), and stock up on supplies in randomly generated cities. Unlike Oregon Trail, the player can loot in cities. However, taking too much will slow down the travelers as they run from the zombie horde back to their vehicle. Currently the release date is unknown.

The Town of Light

Winner of several awards, including GDC Awards’ Excellence in Story & Storytelling , The Town of Light takes place in a psychiatric hospital where the player will discover what’s happened to the other patients. Based on real places and events, The Town of Light gives us a glance of the history of psychiatric therapy, and it’s pretty scary. The Town of Light will be released on February 26th and will be compatible with the Oculus Rift.

Fuego!

Fuego! via Youtube

Two players will face off and steal as much money as possible, even from each other in this strategy game. Play as animal banditos, shooting banks for their gold, and your opponents to steal. Winner of several awards last year, Fuego! is a fun PC game where the player will solve abstract problems and predict his opponent’s moves. Fuego! is currently available on Steam and Windows.

Trackoons

Trackoons via Trackoons website

Trackoons is a silly little game similar to Mario Kart. Play with seven other local players as stuffed raccoons running a race. The only problem is that all of them are too full to jump the hurdles! Players will swap with each other to hit an obstacle and force each other to quit the race in downtown Toronto. Winner is the last survivor. Trackoons is available for free here.

Last Minute Holiday Gaming Gift Guide 2015

On a last minute hunt to find the perfect game for someone on your list? We’ve got you covered! We’ve compiled a gaming gift guide to satisfy even the pickiest gamer you know. Whether you’re looking for indie or the biggest game of 2015, you’ll find something for everyone.

Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner Are Looking for Aliens

Stephen Hawking announced on Monday that he and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner will be searching for intelligent extraterrestrial life. The project is called Breakthrough Listen and uses telescopes at the Green Bank in West Virginia, the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and the Lick Observatory’s optical telescope in San Jose, California to scan the universe for signals between 1 GHz and 10 GHz.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a.k.a. SETI, lost its funding from the government in 1993 and currently subsists on its waning donations from private organizations. SETI is only able to use one telescope for 24-36 hours a year, which is only a small fraction compared to what Breakthrough Listen will have. “Now we’ll have thousands of hours per year on the best instruments,” said Andrew Siemion, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. Siemion is one of the co-founders for Breakthrough Listen. “It’s difficult to overstate how big this is. It’s a revolution.”

Even with the $100 million of funding received from Milner, the leaders of Breakthrough Listen are reluctant to say whether or not we will find life on other exoplanets. “It’s quite likely that we won’t find anything,” Milner confesses. Although it is likely that SETI and Breakthrough Listen will find more exoplanets that could inhabit life, the real question is whether or not intelligent life exists on them. It would be difficult to accomplish such a feat in 10 years time, even with the immense amount of resources Milner and Hawking have pulled together. On top of that, Hawking and his team must come up with another way to scan the universe for these exoplanets instead of using SETI’s method of moving from one star to the next for any transmissions. By only concentrating on one star at a time, a signal could be missed, and our chance at connecting with other intelligent lifeforms could be gone.

However, Breakthrough Listen is just the beginning of the real search for other life forms. With the massive amount of funding backed by Milner, it gives the leaders of Breakthrough Listen a real chance to search the skies. Whether or not the project finds intelligent life, what Hawking, Milner, and Breakthrough Listen’s goal is bigger than that and could bring a broader, universal interest back into space.

Via: Breakthrough Listen
Source: Stephen Hawking

E3 2015: Games You May Have Missed

E3 2015 wrapped up last week and showcased many new video games developers have been hard at work on. Many of them were highly-anticipated sequels to well known series, such as Halo 5: Guardians and Dark Souls III, but we’ve collected a list of some awesome games that may have gone under the radar amid all of the excitement. Check out our list of games below that you might have missed.

Ashen

An exclusive for the Xbox One, Ashen takes place in a fantastical, possibly post-apocalyptic world. The cel-shaded graphics give this game a flat and somewhat nostalgic feel, but they are stunning thanks to Leighton Milne (co-founder of Aurora44) and Thomas Scholes (Halo 4, Guild Wars 2). So far, we know the game is a survival RPG about forging relationships with people you invite to your camp and surviving together. Ashen has an open world, non-linear progression, and passive multiplayer options, which sounds like a rather unique gaming experience. We’ve seen some pretty interesting creatures in the trailer–a rock-like buffalo, flying grass whales, and larger-than-life skeletons–so we’re pretty pumped for its release later this year.

Below

Below was actually announced two years ago at E3 2013 and will finally be released for the Xbox One this year. Below is a “rogue-like” adventure game that takes a top-down approach and has been compared to Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls. Every time your character dies, you don’t start over from where you left off. You instead end up in a randomly-generated world with every new character. The fun is that you have no idea what awaits you–beautiful open fields, or a dark, gloomy cave? And more importantly, will you survive?

Cuphead

Inspired by 1930s cartoons, Studio MDHR went all the way when they made Cuphead. What you see is hand drawn and inked, and hand-painted watercolor backgrounds, which gives Cuphead a nostalgic feel. You’ll play as either Cuphead or Mugman and travel across this zany world, defeating larger-than-life bosses while mastering different weapons and defensive abilities. If you’re a huge fan of run-and-gun games, then Cuphead is right up your alley. It’ll be available for PC and Xbox One sometime in 2016.

EarthNight

Another hand-painted game, EarthNight is a more serious game than Cuphead. You’ll play as Sydney, a 14 year old girl, and Stanley, a freelance photographer, and save the world from the dragon apocalypse. Both Sydney and Stanley are essential to the game–each perform different functions, and the controls, although seemingly simple, are actually pretty complex. You only have two buttons, jump and “anchor,” but it’ll take some time to really master your movements. EarthNight will be released for the PS4, Vita, PC, and iOS.

Moon Hunters

Moon Hunters pays homage to SNES’ pixelated art, but it’s definitely a lot more complex than it looks. The game is a “mythology generator,” but the focus is on cooperation with other players and storytelling. In a way, Moon Hunters is a choose your own adventure, where you’ll pick landmarks and territories to grow your world and character. Your actions in the game will also affect your mythology, making it pretty difficult to have the exact same game every time. Moon Hunters will be released on Steam for both PC and Mac, as well as the PS4 and Vita.

No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is an exploration and survival game with an open universe (pictured at top). This one isn’t about plot as it is about discovery, allowing you to visit distant planets and solar systems, gathering items to trade and to thrive. But the game is also about survival. Space and the planets aren’t deserted; every surface can be dangerous, and you and your aircraft are pretty fragile. Every victory and defeat will affect the gameplay. Overall, it sounds like an exciting game for open world lovers. No Man’s Sky will be released only for the PS4 and PC, for now.

Unravel

In Unravel, you’ll play as Yarny, an animated skein of red yarn, who unravels as you progress through the story. It’s more or less a puzzle game–you’ll use the yarn to swing across trees or hitch rides on kites–but it also has fairly realistic settings. As Yarny, you’ll have to traverse through dirt roads and ponds, roping onto whatever you think will get you to point B. Also, keep in mind that the game has no words, which means you’ll learn a lot from context and visuals. Definitely a fun game to look forward to if you’re a fan of Little Big Planet. Unravel will be released for PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

Source: E3 2015

Fallout 4 Comes Out in November; Here’s What to Expect

On the eve of E3 2015, Bethesda Games Studios gave us a closer look into Fallout 4, after seven years of anticipation. Although the trailer didn’t live up to our expectations, Bethesda promises a better and more dynamic world than before. So what exactly are we going to get out of the new Fallout 4? Here’s what you should look forward to in November.