Posts Tagged ‘Inspired’
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In the race to create a better battery, scientists have gazed longingly at silicon, prized for its ability to hold copious energy during charging. The material has a significant drawback, however: it likes to expand during said charging, causing it to eventually crack and become useless. However, scientists at Stanford’s SLAC laboratory have developed silicon electrodes that repair themselves, inspired by — of all things — the latest research into robotic skin. They created a silicon polymer with weak chemical bonds which attract each other when the material cracks, allowing it to regain its shape in a few hours (as pictured above). The team managed a respectable 100 discharge cycles with a battery that used the material, a promising start but still far from their goal of 3,000 cycles for an electric vehicle. You can add that to the growing pile of promising battery tech that may amount to something, some day — but at least the odds keep getting better.
Once in a while a game comes along that blends gameplay and aesthetic design to such a degree that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other starts. It was true of Limbo, and it also describes exactly the experience of Monument Valley, a forthcoming iPad title from London design studio, ustwo, which uses the perception-bending drawings of Dutch graphic artist MC Escher as its jumping off point.
Monument Valley’s tricks of the eye don’t just toy with you aesthetically but serve as subtle keys to unlocking the puzzles that make up each scene and segment the game into chapters. These chapters are named for the isometric landscapes they depict, such as The Garden (pictured below) or The Water Palace. Or else they hint at the gestures required to slip the puzzle’s knots and progress to the next level (e.g. GripRotate, Draggers).
These architectural landscapes – they are the title’s eponymous monuments – consist of a jumble of passageways, towers, stairs and so on. These passageways don’t immediately appear to connect up, and the character you control, a small lost-looking girl called Ida, has to make the links between what’s real and unreal to journey from one end of the scene to the other – rotating portions of passageway to bridge gaps, for instance, or flipping a set of stairs to climb.
Portions of the landscape that can be rotated or moved are signposted by handles, colour changes or bumps resembling the connectors on Lego bricks.
Normal rules absolutely don’t apply, with Ida able to press buttons allowing her to defy gravity and walk on a wall, or pass through one apparently disconnected tower door and appear out of another at the opposite side of the screen. Except when they do – Ida can’t just clamber anywhere she fancies; if there’s a wall, she needs a ladder to go up it. Or a gravity switch to flip her perspective.
The weird physics of the world is based on playing with spacial perception, allowing your eye to bridge gaps that could never be so traversed in reality. It’s a surreal and otherworldly experience, with a lonely protagonist who remains silent and leaves little trace as she progresses. The adversaries she encounters, called the Crow People, crop up as sporadic guardians of certain routes – marching up and down like automatons, allowing Ida to time her passage so she can slip by.
Monument Valley is due to arrive in Q1 next year but ustwo gave TechCrunch access to a preview of its latest build. I was testing the game on an iPhone 5 but it will be iPad-only at launch – and with the scenes often extending off the iPhone’s screen it’s easy to see why ustwo wants to make the most of the more generous screen real-estate offering by Apple’s tablets. That said, the studio confirmed to me that an iPhone version of the game is planned – although it will be iPad only at launch. Other mobile platforms are also factored into the roadmap, coming later.
“We’ve decided to go with the iPad as our leading platform as the screen real estate enables us to bring the fullest experience to the player. Every running river, every small crack in the architecture and Ida’s small movements feel enhanced on the bigger screen,” said ustwo’s Ken Wong, artist and designer of Monument Valley.
He describes the iPad mini as a “really optimal gaming platform” – with enough room for game designers to showcase their work and for the player to interact properly with it, but small and portable enough for a mainstream audience to buy in.
“Every detail in the game is given the absolute perfect framing which was one of our goals from the outset,” he added. “We wanted every level in the game to be a piece of art that you could literally print out and frame and it seems that we’re on our way to achieving that because we’ve already done a couple of print runs internally for people.”
How challenging is it to translate visual perception tricks into viable game mechanics? Conceptually easy but technically challenging, according to Wong. “As soon as you start arranging cubes in an isometric perspective, your mind is filled with possibilities. Doing the technology that allows characters to walk across constantly shifting impossible structures is a bit trickier,” he said.
“It’s been really fascinating setting up the rules of this universe based on peoples’ perceptions of what they’re seeing from a singled viewpoint of a scene. Escher’s work wouldn’t be popular if it wasn’t also beautiful with great attention to detail, so we’ve also been working hard at making the game look really special.”
ustwo has a portfolio of thoughtful and creative apps to its name already – including the psychedelic game Whale Trail, antisocial photo-sharing app Rando and minimalist puzzle game Blip Blub, to name three. Monument Valley looks like it will take up the baton as ustwo’s flagship property when it launches next year.
As well as Escher, Wong said the inspiration for Monument Valley came from art, architecture, and also the film Labyrinth.
“The work of M.C. Escher is great and popular because he found a way to describe geometric and spatial concepts through everyday elements like water, buildings and animals. I think what Monument Valley brings to the table is an exploration of how to bring an interactive, emotionally engaging experience to a wide audience through a set of simple mechanics and a world that feels at once familiar and fantastical,” Wong added.
Monument Valley will be a paid app, with a “premium” price-tag, owing to its focus on blending creative gameplay with high quality aesthetics. ustwo isn’t revealing how much it will charge as yet but says it has six people committed full time to the project, with a 12-month development span. ”We’re investing heavily into it’s production and will continue to do so post release,” he added.
Wong argues there is a “new wave” of premium apps hitting mobile devices, as developers seek ways to make their wares stand out from the freemium herd. ”In a sea of freemium powerhouses a few high quality premium experiences have popped up to disrupt the system and prove that there really is a market for players with absolute quality in mind. We’re aiming for Monument Valley to become the ‘coffee table book’ of iOS games – one you just have to show your friends,” he said.
To stay up-to-date about Monument Valley ahead of its Q1 2014 release you can sign up for updates here.
To commemorate the launch of Wind Waker HD today, here’s a 7-piece set of Wind Waker influenced ‘stained glass window’ wall decals. They’re formally certified from Nintendo too, so you can rest simple knowing part of your $ 37 (apiece) is going towards the struggling game giant. I’m getting all them (potentially on layaway) then put them all on the same wall and pretend I stay in the Church of Zelda rather of a ground floor apartment that truly must have bars on its windows.
Struck the jump to see the rest.
Remember Joey Spiotto’s first series of video game inspired Little Golden Books? Well he’s back with three more — this time Mass Effect, Red Dead Redemption and Half-Life. I would read them. I would read them and I would chew the corners just like I did with real Little Golden Books when I was a kid.
Hit the jump for the other two.
SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk has often been compared to a real life version of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Director Jon Favreau has even openly said that Musk inspired his depiction of Stark in the first Iron Man film. But now it seems as though the imitation has come full circle: Musk tweeted last night that he’d “figured out how to design rocket parts just w[ith] hand movements,” and would post a video of the process “next week.” Favreau tweeted at Musk asking: “Like in Iron Man?” And Musk responded in the affirmative. See the full exchange below:
This is a collection of Star Wars inspired liquor bottles published by Redditor ElderCunningham. I think we can all agree they’re simply the thing the alcohol market has to better market their items to children. Or is that frowned upon? Well I ‘d drink them. No lie, a couple weeks ago when I visited the edge shop for beer they were offering wine coolers in the exact same area as all the children’s fruit beverages. I informed the guy behind the counter about it and he was all worried since evidently you can enter trouble for that, however a week later they were still there, so I’m scared it’s only an issue of time prior to he’s suddenly not allowed to offer beer any longer. Sucks too because the next closest shop is a real hike for me.
Thanks to E V I L A R E S, who’s so wicked he has strategies to infect the city’s supply of water with hallucinogens.
It goes by the name of Hashima, or Gunkanjima (“Battleship Island”), or even “The Dead Island”, since it inspired the water-locked cyberterrorist HQ in Skyfall. As you can now see for yourself, courtesy of Google Street View, it’s a very a real place off the coast of Japan’s Nagasaki Peninsula, and it’s even lonelier than its fictional counterpart in the Bond film (which wasn’t actually filmed there). There are no tourist offices or giant Oedipus Complexes, as far as we can see, just long stretches of overgrown roads and collapsing apartment blocks that once housed 5,000 people, before they abandoned the island in 1974 following the demise of its coal industry. It took a Google employee two hours to map the place and preserve its crumbling visage for posterity using a special backpack, but don’t be surprised if you want to leave it after just a few minutes.
Source: Google’s Japanese Blog