Showing posts with label games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label games. Show all posts

Tutorial: Introduction to SpriteKit in Swift

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This is an introduction to a series of SpriteKit tutorials written in the Swift programming language. (We will release the entire series over the course of several weeks). At the top level, this tutorial will be broken up into seven sections. Each section will be comprised of several lessons. For our first section we will focus on the fundamental techniques for working with SpriteKit content. Since sprites are the fundamental building blocks used to create the majority of a games scene’s content we will look at that next. We will then learn how to apply actions to sprites to be able to move around in a game scene. In section four we will expand on the basic concepts just learned by delving deeper into the concept of a node tree and ways to build our game scenes. We will then look at advanced scene processing techniques. In the sixth section we will learn how to simulate physics on the bodies within our scenes. And lastly we will discuss SpriteKit best practices.

A New Don: "Yuuuge"-ly Popular App Lets Players Build Trump's Wall

The race for the presidency of the United States is heating up, with vitriol, intrigue, and computer "warfare" the likes of which society has never seen.  Hillary Clinton has spent millions trying to convince shills to talk her up online and detract from her opponents (all while playing ignorant to a swath of computer crimes), while Bernie Sanders has crowdfunded a surprisingly vibrant support network via his online followers.

However, it is the nimbly adaptable Donald Trump who has used modern technology to encompass a uniquely strong spectrum, beginning with developing an oddly-enthusiastic contingent of "alt-right" supporters who create memes and catchphrases to exult the admittedly-engaging rhetoric of "Make America Great Again."

And now, as any good leader of the future would have, there is an app that supports his vision.

Could this be the ticket to resolving decades of lax leadership?
Or is an app just the start of more political games?
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Seven Silly Swindles: April Fool's Day 2016

It's April Fool's Day, and we decided not to be mean.  That sounds weird, yes, but really, we're not going to tell you NASA is having a $10 rocket-ride lottery or that a new cancer treatment works but turns your skin plaid, or that an actual time machine has been invented but that it only goes to the 1990s.  You're smarter than that.  So, let's instead revel in the havoc wrought on other unsuspecting world-wide-websurfers (wait, seriously, that time machine thing isn't real?) today.

Mr. T pities any fools who were taken in by bad jokes today.
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Gin + Rummy = A Winston Churchill-Themed Solitaire App From Donald Rumsfeld?

Almost everyone these days has a favorite game on their portable device or computer, and more are invented by the day.  But if you want something a little more classic than Angry Birds, yet something that also smacks of insidious military domination, well, Donald Rumsfeld has got a new game for you.

The angriest bird of all is that which represents a deceived American public.
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A Wonder For Down Under: New Kegel Exerciser / Videogame App (Seriously)

Ladies, we know that "playing with yourself" is not the most delicate way to describe an aspect of maintaining healthy sexual function, but in this case, it's the literal truth...

We also know it's uncouth to steal other publications' headline imagery,
but the Britons really nailed this one.
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Goals, Not Coal: Energy-Harvesting Soccer Ball Illuminates Impoverished Lives

As the world (rightly) shifts away from dependence on fossil fuels and begins to cultivate new avenues of obtaining energy, it seems the sky is the limit for innovative ideas.  However, by "sky", we don't mean that solar has to be the sole rock 'n roller of the possibilities.  Watch how a small company has provided help to impoverished areas with a sustainable source of portable, playful power...

Even if you don't like sports, this is pretty cool.
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Feline Groovy: Play Out Your "Crazy Cat Person" Fantasy Via This New App

Are you too popular?  Are you more interesting than the average person, and suffer no lack of friends due to this?  Do you often find yourself graced with many socially-engaging options and fun things to enrich your life?  And do you hate the hell out of all of that?  Never, you can become a crazy cat person, at least in the realm of apps...

Questioning your sanity has never been so adorable!
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Because Buzz! Master Moonman's New Space Race Game Debuts

Buzz Aldrin has had an amazing life:  West Point cadet, pilot, NASA astronaut, second man on the moon, and current Martian space initiative devotee.  Now, you can share some of his astro-adventures thanks to Aldrin's new iPad game, Space Program Manager - Road To The Moon...

Saddle up, rocket jockeys!
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Forget Chess Or Jeopardy, This Poker-Playing Computer Is Near-Unbeatable

Sure, you might have survived dysentery playing Oregon Trail back in the day, or perhaps you currently enjoying slaying beasts or conquering lands in modern computer games.  But now, a new computer program can compete against even the most savvy players when it comes to a time-honored game of wits and skill:  poker.

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and when to POWER OFF.
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According to, a new poker-playing computer has emerged as a champion among gaming machines.  While there is a long history of computers being able to understand and perform exceptionally well in "perfect information" games (which are games where both players are aware of all decisions that have been made during the progress of the match, such as checkers or chess), a new system of "learning" allowed for the unexpected.

"Solving" the game of Texas Hold 'Em via a series of bets and bluffs, the Cepheus poker-playing computer fascinatingly was taught to learn from its own mistakes.  The scientists behind the project first instructed Cepheus in the basic rules of Texas Hold 'Em and had the machine play numerous games against itself to determine a variety of outcomes.  As this occurred, Cepheus compiled a list of "regrets", where it could have bet differently, bluffed, or folded for a more auspicious outcome.

All poker players know what that kind of regret feels like.  Cepheus actually learned from it.
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Cepheus was then programmed to act on its most major regrets while ignoring the lesser ones.  Eventually, a methodology emerged for Cepheus to navigate bets and bluffs in the most effective ways possible, and the "regret" list scaled down to near zero.  This mathematical take on the game allowed Cepheus to achieve near-perfect play.

Computer scientist Michael Bowling, the lead author of the study, explained that Cepheus's techniques could be extrapolated to a much wider set of purposes.  He explained, "...the techniques that we used to solve the game apply even more broadly than entertainment activities. I’m talking about any decision-making scenario. Politics becomes a game. Auctions become a game. Security becomes a game.”

"A game for me to WIN, mwahaha..."  -Cepheus, probably.
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Feeling lucky?  You and Cepheus can duke it out here.  Just remember that while Cepheus's skills aren't quite perfect yet, the computer is operating well above the odds of chance thanks to its knowledge, and will likely beat you in the long run.  Having played over a billion billion hands (more poker than the entire human race has ever played) definitely gives it an edge, so don't lose your shirt!  The computer won't need it, anyway.

Cepheus is out there...don't get stung!
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Nothing But Net, Now ON The Net: New ShotTracker App Assesses & Shares Your B-Ball Skills

Think you've got game, but have no way to scientifically quantify it?  Now, you too can assess your skills like the pros with a new wristband that catches all your basketball glory (or goof-ups.)

The ShotTracker system, according to, is comprised of three elements:  one wrist-mounted sensor, one net-mounted sensor, and a mobile app that allows the sensors to share information via Bluetooth and concretely calculate whether you scored a shot or fell short.

Shot stats ASAP.  Let the future aid your freethrows.
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The system includes a wristband and a compression sleeve for wearing the diminutive wrist sensor at your preferred level of comfort.  For $150, it will ship in early December, well in time for any Xmas-party shootouts.  The durable devices are waterproof and weatherproof, and if you feel like waiting for version 2.0 in mid-2015, it will be also able to calculate your exact location on the court.

ShotTracker includes a sharing program where you can compare dunks and drops with other users, and also a list of workouts so you can bring your game up to shareable snuff.  Coaches can also add their own workout plans, to perfect players even outside of practice.

Whether you're trying to make the team or just trying to tell if your old skills are still on point, the ShotTracker has a little something for every kind of hoop dreamer.  As the ShotTracker website rightly explains, "You can't improve what you don't measure."

It's like having these guys in your smartphone!
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Compete On The Street: New "Street Pong" Enables Gamer Showdowns At Crosswalks

If you live in a city that is too polite to cross the roads against a traffic light, what are you supposed to do while you wait in that interminable nether-space that is too short for a phone call or a smartphone jaunt online?  One German town has the answer:  stoplight Pong.

Except it's vaguely soccer themed, because Germany.
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According to, the town of Hildesheim has made waiting for the lights to change a matter of competitive gaming, at least by 1970s arcade standards.  With small touchscreens pitting foes from both sides of the street in fierce Pong battle, one may elude the ennui of daily life for a few precious minutes, locked in slidey, soccer-ball-rebounding victory or defeat.

A red and green hourglass timer indicates the available moments left until the light changes and you must return to your regularly-scheduled existence.

But at least you don't have to feed a paycheck's worth of quarters into this thing.
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Creator Sandro Engel was enthusiastic about the project, stating, "You play with people you haven't seen before, which is also cool."

The Street Pong experience will remain in place in Hildesheim for four weeks to gauge interest, and possibly longer if it proves popular.  Requests from cities in France and Norway have already implied that this is a fun idea.

Just hope they don't install "Street Fighter II."  Then the traffic would be on the sidewalks, instead of in the streets.

Let's hope the serious gamers don't take this too far.  A ragequit could lead to a real-life pedestrian fatality.
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Monty Python App Enables Silly Walking In Game Form

The iconic sketch comedy troupe Monty Python has experimented in many fields of comedy, raising hell and hilarity on television, film, songs, and stage.  Now, they're silly-walking into the gaming world.

In honor of the group's upcoming new stage performance (which will be broadcast on television and in theaters worldwide), they are premiering the "silliest, most ridiculous, inexplicably outrageous, flabbergastingly addictive silly walk game" for their fans.  Available as an app, one navigates John Cleese's famously footloose character through various obstacles in London.

One suspects that dead parrots and other classic Python bits may also make an appearance.

The Ministry Of Silly Walks app is available through the official website here.

Headed for the Cheese Shop?

Tetris-Enabled T-Shirt. That Is All.

Modern gamers have it so easy. You can race, shoot, hunt, hide, storm, and slay on portable platforms from your cell phone to a high-tech handheld gaming device. However, one man has taken this technology into an entirely different realm: fashion.

As reported by, "YouTube user Marc Kerger crafted the shirt, which features 128 LEDs and an Arduino Uno microcontroller board, in honor of Tetris’s 30th anniversary." A pair of AA batteries and you're off into belly-based, block-stacking bliss.

Tetris, the iconic Russian brainteaser, was invented in 1984 by Russian engineering student Alexey Pajitnov, and soon after took the world by shape-spinning, stackable storm.

Block It Like It's Hot: Tetris Still Entertains At 30

The iconic brick-arranging, brainteasing video game classic Tetris turned 30 this week, yet remains a staple for novice to advanced gaming enthusiasts worldwide. First created by Russian engineer Alexey Pajitnov and eventually sold to Nintendo after a messy international battle over the game's rights (Pajitnov, a student at the time of the game's creation, would not see royalties for another 10 years due to his work technically being property of glorious Mother Russia), the beloved game has crossed oceans, language barriers, and gaming interfaces for over a generation.

Pajitnov's game had fascinating societal implications during the dawn of the personal computing age. As he would later tell the Guardian, "Tetris came along early and had a very important role in breaking down ordinary people's inhibitions in front of computers, which were scary objects to non-professionals used to pen and paper. But the fact that something so simple and beautiful could appear on screen destroyed that barrier."

Over fifty takeoffs of the Tetris empire exist, ranging from the sequel (Tetris 2) to Pajitnov's other endeavors (Hatris...a version with hats!) to the more esoteric (Tetripz.) The game's addictive nature has been explained by some psychologists as a means to offer an endlessly-satiating ability of completing small tasks in a neat manner.

Alexey Pajitnov's original Tetris design.

Ancient Game Continues to Confound Modern Computing

Wired has a lengthy article on the ancient game of Go and how it continues to confound modern programmers.  Excerpt:
In 1994, machines took the checkers crown, when a program called Chinook beat the top human. Then, three years later, they topped the chess world, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer besting world champion Garry Kasparov. Now, computers match or surpass top humans in a wide variety of games: Othello, Scrabble, backgammon, poker, even Jeopardy. But not Go. It’s the one classic game where wetware still dominates hardware. 
But when computers lose at go, at least they don't go completely insane! Here's an infamous old pic of a Go game gone wrong:

If you're interested in learning more about Go, definitely head over to Sensei's Library, which is one of the best resources for the game on the web.