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Levels Of Detail Podcast: A Slightly More Portentious Second Episode (11.22.10)

Games and Gaming, News

Well, we said Saturday or Sunday, and it appears to be Monday (Tuesday, more like), but here we are regardless. Yes, it’s the second episode of the Levels Of Detail Podcast, and while our sense of timing has degraded somewhat, the quality of the podcast itself has improved! We have our names at the start of the podcast, so you know who’s filling your ears with news and mic pops! We have music at the beginning and end! Be amazed! Or at least experience mild bemusement! We also have news on the next LEGO movie game, we peruse Black Friday ads for your edification, Kinect is Goddamn magic, ESPN contains uninformed asshats, and I ramble on about how the Assassin’s Creed series is punk to the very core. Enjoy, dear listeners.

LOD Podcast Episode 2 (11/22/10)

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Favorite Flash Games

Games and Gaming

The last few years have been something of a golden age of casual gaming.  Widespread development tools plus low cost distribution platforms like Flash made it possible to make games for the web.  Many developers combined an indie vibe with an interest in mass appeal to create intentionally casual games.  I love me some great sprawling, complex games but sometimes it is fun to just play a short game with easy-to-understand rules and have a diversion for a few minutes.  Here are some of my single-player favorites from the last few years.

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Ooh, pretty flowers.
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Levels Of Detail Podcast: An Auspicious Start (11.18.10)

Games and Gaming, News

Hello, Levels Of Detail readers! We’ve received a literal trickle of emails complaining about the lack of sensory stimulation that our humble blog provides. Here’s an example letter:

“Dear Levels Of Detail: Your website is wondrous to behold, a treat for the eyes, both in design and the uniformly high quality of the writing, but I was wondering, could you stimulate my other senses as well? Smell, hearing, touch, even taste would be acceptable.”

Well, you’re in luck, dear readers, for we have discovered Podcasting! Yes, now your ears can be filled with the melodious sounds of my voice and that of my cohort, Ben Hatcher, whispering the new developments of the gaming industry into your deserving ears, and deliver trenchant and incisive commentary on current events. Eventually. Right now, you have to deal with my sniffling ass as I try to breathe through half a nostril as we two half-drunk fools stumble our way through the news and ramble on about things that we are almost completely unqualified to discuss.

Don’t let that stop you from listening, however! We’ve got some good bits of information on Activision’s latest escapades in dickery, our first blush impressions on the new Games for Windows online marketplace, information on upcoming games you might have missed, the return of the Child’s Play charity, whether or not gamers can grow up to be racing drivers and if OnLive can grow up to be a real console, and much more.

LOD Podcast Episode 1 (11/18/10)

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Minecraft Modeling in SketchUp: A Tutorial – Part 1

Features, Games and Gaming

So, Minecraft. You may have heard of it. You may have even played it. And you may have then said, “Man, I love building stuff, but sometimes I wish I could plan out a structure before building it.” Or maybe you haven’t said that. But wouldn’t it be cool if you could?

As it turns out, Google SketchUp, a free modeling program, makes building Minecraft models pretty easy. In this article, I’ll walk you through the basics of building your first model.

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Musings from an Archaeologist on the Civilization Tech Tree – Part III

Features

This is the third and last in a series (first, second) of posts where I look at the technology tree in the game Civilization from my perspective as a professional archaeologist.  If you have not read the other posts please start at the beginning.  In this post I want to talk about how and why most archaeologists conceive of prehistory and technology in a different way now.

As I discussed previously the tech tree embodies two different concepts about human history that have been around for a long time.  The first is that human society goes through regular and predictable stages of development and the second is that this development is best understood as changes in material life like technology, environment, and economy.

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Musings from an Archaeologist on the Civilization Tech Tree – Part II

Features

In the previous post I started discussing the technology tree in the Civilization games from the point of view of an archaeologist.  In this post I want to point out that the Civilization tech tree is basically Marxist.  Yes, you heard me right.  And no, I don’t really consider this a pejorative – and not because I carry a warm and fuzzy for Marx.  It gets lost in the 20th century politics surrounding communism and socialism, but Marx has been very influential to the popular and scholarly understanding of the development of “civilization.” His thoughts are strikingly echoed in the Meier’s tech tree that almost all strategy gamers take for granted.  The why of this makes for a good story, so gather ’round.

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Musings from an Archaeologist on the Civilization Tech Tree – Part I

Features

I am a gamer, but in real life I earn my living as an archaeologist.  In a three part series of posts I am going to put on my professional hat (a fedora?) and consider the tech trees from the Civilization computer games from the point of view of a prehistorian.

It would be easy to interpret the goal of this series of posts as an attempt to criticize the Civilization series, but that is far from my intent.  Civilization is first and foremost a game, not a simulation.  I fully hope and expect that all design decisions, including the structure of the tech tree, are based on what makes for a good game play rather than what makes for historical verisimilitude.  I agree with Sid Meier in his 1991 interview when he says that “gameplay is more important than historical accuracy.” The best games with a historic theme merely use history as an inspiration because full-on attempts at historical simulation really suck (I am looking at you, Avalon Hill boardgames!).  Real life is rarely real fun.  My real intent with these posts is merely to use the Civilization tech tree as a springboard to an interesting discussion.

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Full Glass Empty Wallet:Poker Night at the Inventory Edition

Features, Games and Gaming

New lines from our favorite videogame/webcomic characters. Free TF2 items. POKER!
What isn’t there to love about the new Telltale Games Poker Night at the Inventory?
The Lack of multi-player you say? DID YOU NOT HEAR ABOUT THE FREE HATS?
Anyway, this week I am giving away five (5) YES 5 copies of the Steam version of Poker Night at the Inventory.
To win, leave a comment below, between now and 8 P.M. Eastern time November 18th. The five (5) Winners will be randomly selected.
You type, I give.

Fella could have himself a good time in vegas with all this stuff!
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Doctor Freeware, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the download bar

Games and Gaming

It’s no secret that I’m a cheap and penniless bastard. Therefore me and games have a love-hate relationship when it comes to money. If I have to pay at all, I’m grumbly. if I have to pay more than twenty bucks, you better be a good game. If I pay full-price, sixty dollar title fee, it was probably made by valve. And I must have won the lottery prior to stopping at my local purveyor of video games and associated materials.

So when I hear about freeware games, I turn into a happy guy. I don’t expect much of free games and they don’t expect much of me.

I’m still pleasantly surprised, however, when I find something rather clever and interesting. I’ll outline a few here for you fine people.

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