Monthly Archives: October 2013

Imagine you’re listening to your favorite video game theme song. Now picture it being performed by a professional philharmonic orchestra. Sounds pretty sweet right? Well many people got to experience that first hand back in 2011 with the release of what Rolling Stone dubbed as 2011’s “weirdest hit album,” The Greatest Video Game Music.

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The album is a collection of some of the most memorable and beloved video game theme songs of all time and the album itself sold enough copies to reach the 23rd spot on the Billboard 200. With the release of volume two in 2012, X5 Music Group, the Swedish record label and brains behind The Greatest Video Game Music’s first two albums, has now set its sights on creating another album, but this time with a new audience in mind. Simply named “Video Game Music for Kids – By London Philharmonic Orchestra,” the album will feature music from Nintendo, Sega and kid-friendly games, such as Super Mario Bros. and Angry Birds.

You can pick-up your copy of Video Game Music for Kids – By London Philharmonic Orchestra next month, or if you want to wait until Christmas, it will make an exceptional gift for any young gamer out there. To find out more about the X5 Music Group and learn the story and inspiration behind Video Game Music, check out their website, and if you missed the first two albums of The Greatest Video Game Music, you can pick-up both volumes 1 and 2 online for less than $20.

Signs of an Online Gaming Cheater

When you’re playing online, you probably just want to relax and having fun, but gaming apps and technology ports for gaming have become increasingly popular targets for hackers and identity thieves. It’s important to watch for the warning signs. Here are some of the most common ones.

Regular Cycling Players

It’s not uncommon for scammers to have a cycle of identities. They log into these identities on a regular basis throughout the game in order to gather information and hack into your account. In some cases, the player names are actually part of an algorithm. What you’ll most likely notice is that multiple players cycle in and out in a particular order. So, for instance, you might notice the names, jackx1987, mm21fvr and russgurl91. These names might then cycle in and out in the same order throughout multiple games and with no real reason for their presence. They will play, but they are actually automated bots that are gathering information from the chat logs or your play style. Be suspicious when you start to notice the cycles.

Requests That You Download Something

Most of the time, whether you decide to play free online poker or black jack, the game app should be all that you need to access the game. However, another common scam and hacking technique involves asking legitimate players of the app or program to download a guide, pictures, or something similar. Never accept a download request. The technology involved in these online gaming apps and platforms is sophisticated enough that you will not need to download anything in the middle of the game. Chances are that anyone who asks you to download something in the middle of the game, especially if it is to enhance your play, is just out to scam you in some way.

Flickering Screen and Financial Request

Another common sign of scammers and thieves is the flickering screen followed by a financial request. Most gaming platforms have excellent security systems in place, and they come with warnings that if you are diverted from your gaming screen, you should log off and then log in a new window. Always follow this advice, even if the gaming site you are on does not specifically encourage you to do so. Additionally, if a screen pops up asking you to put in your financial information, shut it down immediately. The flickering screen followed by a financial request is one of the classic attempts at theft on gaming platforms.

When you are gaming online, you can spend many pleasant hours enjoying the game. Technology has made it easier than ever to enjoy. However, you need to be cautious of thieves and scammers. If certain players keep randomly cycling through at regular intervals, you are probably being scouted by scammers. Never download anything during the middle of a game. The platforms and apps are sophisticated enough to handle all of the download requirements when they initially start. Additionally, if you have a flickering screen that transitions into a financial request, you need to shut down and reopen the gaming platform.

If there’s one thing rarely associated with art photography, it’s rigorous physical exertion. But that’s exactly what artist Jeff Frost signed himself up for to create his eery, cinematic time-lapses.

In his film Flawed Symmetry of Prediction Frost conjures an analog animation by running around like a mad man. In an abandoned building in the desert, he sets his camera on a one-minute interval between shots. During that time he positions a ladder, climbs up it and then paints until the 10-second warning goes off. He then has 10 seconds to grab the paint, climb down the ladder and move out of frame for the shot. Then he does it all over again before the next shot. Then again. And again. He did this upwards of 1,200 times until the sequence was complete.

“It’s all physical,” he says. “After two days it feels like someone beat you up. If I knew how brutal it would be, I probably wouldn’t have done it.” With computer-generated imagery as the accepted norm of post-production these days, Frost is out there creating physical art one frame at a time.

Frost spent much of his youth exploring canyon country with his grandfather, Alfred, in an “extremely remote” area of southeast Utah. Alfred, a well-known hiker and guide in the region at the time, instilled in him a wanderlust that Frost credits with his path through the art world.

“My grandfather really taught me the value of aimless wandering and the process of discovery,” Frost says. “He was always looking at the next ridge.”

For Frost the next ridge led him to Los Angeles in 2000 when he was 22, where he pursued a music career. For six years he played in bands up and down the Sunset Strip until he “didn’t want to play loud, angry rock music anymore.” That’s when he went back to school for photography.

When he enrolled he didn’t even know how to use his camera on manual mode. He began hanging out in the desert near the Salton Sea, still playing his guitar. Now he combines his music and photography in unique time-lapse shorts.

Another film, Modern Ruin: Black Hole, is an ongoing project he started in February 2011 based on the idea that creation and destruction are the same thing. Currently it contains roughly 150,000 images and features more than just star trails and cloud formations one would find in the usual time-lapse project — like hand-held POV segments and action shots. The riots he filmed actually took place right outside his apartment in Anaheim, California.

He hopes to complete the project by March 2014 with the help of a recent successful Kickstarter campaign. Until then, Frost is once again going to follow his muse and head out to desert for the winter — do a little wandering, seek out some abandoned buildings and create his art.

“The winters in the California desert are pretty nice. You can’t beat the Yucca Valley. I’m going to go out there and paint my ass off.”

Image: Allie Brosh

Perhaps you know Allie Brosh from the most famous panel of her webcomic Hyperbole and Half, where a manic cartoon character holds a broom in the air and shouts “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!” Or perhaps you’ve read her comics about going to a children’s birthday party while heavily sedated and attempting to move with her two insane dogs on a cross-country road trip. Brosh is a seemingly inexhaustible resource of fantastic stories, which manage to find hilarity in the mundane, the absurd, and the tragic.

This week, Simon and Schuster publishes Brosh’s first print collection of her work, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. The book includes fan-favorite tales like “The God of Cake,” as well as all-new comics written for the book, like the story of why she has spent her entire life lying about hot sauce. Brosh talked with WIRED about all the things — or at least alot of them.

WIRED: Hyperbole and a Half uses a hybrid storytelling format that falls somewhere between prose and comic. Did you start out thinking of your work as a webcomic or as illustrated prose?

Allie Brosh: I started out just writing. I get a lot of my inspiration from watching stand-up comedy. I’ve been a huge stand-up fan for a long time, and I think that starting to put pictures in there was a result of subconsciously trying to mimic the pacing and feel of stand-up. When you’re watching someone perform stand-up comedy, you can see their reactions and facial expressions and body language, and a lot of unspoken context that comes with it. I think that my timing and use of pictures in my work is an effort to replicate that, and it gives me a lot to play around with as far as timing goes.

WIRED: A lot of your best stories come from your childhood, including your most recent comic about a dinosaur costume that turned you into a monster. How many amazing childhood experiences did you have, anyway? Do you worry about running out?

Brosh: I think that’s something that pretty much everyone who works in a creative capacity worries about all the time. I felt like I was out of material probably three months into blogging, after I picked all the low-hanging fruit. But over time I’ve learned that as I evolve as a writer and a storyteller I find better ways to frame a story in a way that makes it more interesting, rather than a you-had-to-be-there kind of story. I’m sure at some point I’ll run out, but for the time being I feel a bit more secure after seeing myself go through that so often and come out on the other side with a new idea.

WIRED: One of your comics, “This Is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult,” inspired a meme sometimes called “All the Things.” How do you feel about having your work repurposed outside your comic in a way that isn’t credited and that you can’t control?

Brosh: I think it’s fine when it’s just the internet playing around with it and having fun with it. I sort of get sick of seeing it sometimes. [laughs] But occasionally someone will come up with a creative new way to use it that really makes me laugh. I don’t enjoy when, say, some cause I don’t agree with uses it to support their agenda. That rankles me a little bit, but there’s not much I can do to prevent that. But for the most part I like that people are having fun with it. It’s not OK to use it to sell things, or anything that would be copyright infringement, but I enjoy its nature as a meme.

Image: Allie Brosh

WIRED: Two of your more recent comics were about depression, something you experienced personally during a hiatus from the comic. What kind of feedback did you get about those comics?

Brosh: I got great feedback. It’s strange. People said they identified with it and related to it, and it helped them feel less alone. Depression can be an extremely isolating experience. But after I posted it and people said, “Hey, I related to this,” it did the same thing for me. [Depression] was isolating for me, but to have people saying they went through something similar was reassuring to me too… It was liberating to be able to take this thing, the worst thing that had ever happened to me, and really look at it. And look at all the absurdities of it. It just felt so freeing to really own it.

WIRED: There’s another story in the book where you really delve into your own irrational thoughts, like feeling resentful when someone takes a chair you weren’t even using, or feeling oddly cheated when you find out the wind wasn’t blowing as hard as you thought it was. They really captured the sort of feelings that I think a lot of people have but never articulate.

Brosh: I’m so glad. I’m so glad you mentioned that one. It was probably my favorite one in the book and I was really worried it wasn’t going to be something that other people liked. So I’m really happy you mentioned that one. A lot of the stuff I write is a result of me observing myself. Catching myself doing these things that are inconsistent with the way that I think am, being sneaky or lying to myself. It’s funny to me, so it translates pretty naturally into a post. They say you write what you know, so that’s something I think a lot about. It’s fun being able to make fun of it. It helps me cope with the fact that I’m like that.

WIRED: What’s been your most popular comic, or the one that people have responded the most to?

Brosh: It’s between the one where I’m moving with my dogs, and the depression comics. They had a much bigger response that I was expected.

Image: Allie Brosh

WIRED: Is there one comic that you feel the happiest or most proud of?

Brosh: Definitely “Depression Part 2.” I worked on that for over a year. It was very difficult for me to find the right balance between levity and treating the subject with respect. And so because it was the most difficult for me to write, I feel the best about it, because I did what I set out to do. Which is a nice feeling.

WIRED: What was it like writing or drawing for the book as opposed to the web?

Brosh: The process was essentially the same, but there were some differences. I really enjoyed being able to work on everything at once. One thing I noticed is that every time I write something new I learn a little bit more about how to write and draw better. Having to turn in the whole book at once allowed me to – once I learned something new, I would see if I could apply that to the other posts I’d been working on. So I think the whole thing might be more consistent in terms of quality. I did add some revised art, but I was careful to do it in a way that felt consistent with the original post. People might not even notice that I changed anything, because it reads the same and feel the same but to me it was important to me that I tweak it a bit and update the art.

WIRED: When you were making the new comics for the print edition, how different was it to write for page breaks instead of a scrolling webpage?

Brosh: It obviously wasn’t possible to add a page break every single time I thought one needed to be there, but that was something that I got to play around with. There were some times when I had to say, hey, let’s put this on the next page. It does allow me to conceal a little bit more information from the reader, which is fun as far as timing goes.

WIRED: Are there any webcomics that you’d recommend?

Brosh: Matt Inman of The Oatmeal is a friend of mine, and he’s very funny. I laugh really hard at Nedroid, and I really like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Oh gosh, there’s one I discovered and I thought it was genius – Romantically Apocalyptic.

WIRED: Finally, have you ever figured out how to put on a coat?

Brosh: Nope. I’m still wandering around coatless.

Reddit user commshep12 brought to our attention that Amazon.com has posted on their website that the release date for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is September 30, 2014. After scouring CD Projekt Red’s website and social media outlets, there appears to be no word as to whether or not this is confirmed.

It could be completely plausible based on the devs discussion on the game, but my feelings is that a delay is almost an inevitable with such massive games of this scale. Here’s to hoping it isn’t, and that we will have our hands on this game in less than a year!

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Bored?  Wanna start a riot?

If you’ve been rearing to spring an escape from prison, Kickstarter may just have the game for you.

ChrisD and Mouldy Toof Studios, the creators of Spud’s Quest, a Metroidvania adventure game that was successfully funded last year, has begun work on his new game, The Escapists.  Drawing inspiration from The Shawshank Redemption, The Great Escape, and Escape from Alcatraz, this new game comes with a variety of features to help you bust out of your virtual jail cell.  Some early ideas are:

  • Schedules: To escape you’ll have to work around the strict prison schedule as best you can to avoid any unwanted attention from the guards.
  • Crafting: Weapons and tools can be crafted together using everyday things you find or steal around the prison. Just beware of cell shakedowns.
  • Reputation: The way you interact with fellow cons and guards affect how they treat you. Those on your side could help you out in a fight, overlook if they catch you doing anything unusual, or give you access to certain favors/jobs, and assistance.
  • Digging: Get hold of a shovel and you can start working on an escape tunnel. Of course you’ll need some lights and timber supports below ground if you plan to survive. Just make sure you make it back for the guard patrols- and that the hole is hidden!
  • Skills: Train your agility and strength in the gym, or spend your free periods in the library boosting your intellect. All such skills play a part in your escape as well as your survival inside the prison.
  • Combat: When it comes to crunch time, you might have to engage other inmates or guards in combat. If one of them finds your escape tunnel you will probably have to overpower, bind, and stash them in the hole you’ve been digging below your cell. If it’s a guard, taking his uniform might come in handy.
  • Gangs & Friends: Be careful who you pick fights with- some of the inmates might start plotting against you with their gang-mates and friends.

The game is set to finish its initial Kickstarter run in 34 days, so if you feel like contributing, rush over to the site quickly.

What next-gen launch games am I looking forward to? Well, there’s Knack, and, um… uh… can you repeat the question? Image: Sony

We’re back! A series of unfortunate and fortunate events kept WIRED senior editor Peter Rubin and I from recording our podcasts over the past few weeks, but we have returned to the studio this week to talk about… well, we can’t really talk about much because Peter hadn’t played The Stanley Parable yet.

Next week, though.

For now, we spend a while discussing the upcoming launches of the next-generation game consoles and what we think might happen.

Game|Life’s podcast is posted on Fridays, is available on iTunes, can be downloaded directly and is embedded below.

Game|Life Audio Podcast

GameLife Reboot:
Episode 087

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Your car is an extension of your personality. But what about your driving style? Lexus teamed up with an artist, a multimedia agency, and a collector to create a real-time portrait of the driver based on their acceleration, braking, steering, and speed. And the results are spectacularly surreal.

A Lexus IS 300h hybrid sends data from its myriad computers to custom software created by the Belgian firm Happiness Brussels. That software — with a pre-installed photo of the driver, art collector Walter Vanhaerent — renders his photo in the style of Spanish multimedia artist Sergio Abliac. If Vanhaerent drives conservatively, using the Lexus’ hybrid-electric drivetrain, calming blues and greens subtly render his portrait. With his foot on the floor, the gas engine kicks in and the palette evolves, with stronger, bolder brush strokes in darker, more vibrant colors. And it gets even more abstract.

“Thanks to the software, I have been able to clone my creative process and way of painting,” says Abliac. “Creating a sort of technological assistant that generates my work.”

In another nod to the art world, the modified Lexus hybrid is being auctioned off, with bids (as of this writing) starting at 45,100 euros. Finally, functional art.

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The first episode of the “Burial At Sea” single-player DLC pack for Bioshock Infinite will be available for purchase on November 12th for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, reports GameInformer.

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“Burial At Sea Episode 1″ is the first of a two-part DLC pack series which takes players from the heights of Columbia back into the depths of the underwater city of Rapture.

Episode 1 will cost $14.99, and is also available through the Season Pass which costs $19.99 and includes “Burial At Sea Episode 2″, and the “Clash in the Clouds” DLC package as well.

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Capcom has confirmed with the rest of the world that their courtroom drama title, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, is now available as a digital-only download for the 3DS through the eShop, for $29.99 / €24.99.

Dual Destinies sees our favorite lawyer-face with great hair, Phoenix Wright, return to the courtroom after an eight year absence to smash desks, point fingers, and yell, only this time in 3D. The courtroom isn’t the only thing getting a 3D makeover, either; crime scenes will now be able to be investigated in three dimensions, with the ability to zoom and change angles to discover clues.

As mentioned previously, anyone who purchases DD between now and November 7th will be able to download a costume pack for three of the characters free of charge, with the price adjusting to $0.99 / €0.99 afterwards. Information on the pirate-themed “Turnabout Reclaimed” case is still MIA, but should be ready to download in the coming weeks as DLC (I WANTED IT IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN).

Here’s a launch trailer for your viewing pleasure! It has both Wright and Apollo doing their thang, a prosecutor who is serving time in jail and apparently ate his eagle on the way to the courtroom because he is chewing on its feather, and terrible voices for the characters. Who is ready to defend the shit out of some clients?!

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