Kitty Powers' Matchmaker (iOS/Android): A Mobile Game That Gets Romance Right

Kitty Powers Matchmaker iOS (10)

Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A lot of games try to tackle the subject of romance, and it's safe to say that the majority of them don't get it right -- especially when it comes to integrating that romance into the actual gameplay. That's where terms like "kindness coins" come in, describing the kind of transaction-based relationship mechanics that games trying to represent dating and courtship often use. Tell someone what they want to hear, dress like they want you to dress, give them things they like, and eventually you'll earn enough points to win.

... Their love, I mean. Win their love. How romantic.

In reality, that's not an act that anyone can keep up for ever. Sooner or later a relationship built on nothing but white lies and pandering to your partner will fall apart. Most games don't care about addressing these inevitable Unhappily-Ever-Afters, but Kitty Powers' Matchmaker isn't most games.

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Sims 4 Modding Already Has a Hot, Surprising Trend Which Totally Improves EA's Original Avatars

Face Overlay by Plumb4
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Sims 4 modders have really hit the ground running since its release at the beginning of the month. Mods for the game, including recolors of vanilla content already number in the hundreds -- or thousands, if you include the build-in sharing tools that let players browse the rooms, lots, and households made by others. It's been a much smoother period for modders than The Sims 3's launch was, largely because early access to the CAS demo and developer transparency about how the game itself works have allowed experienced modders to get straight to work without having to spend nearly as much time figuring out how.

Amid the usual clothes and hairstyles and furniture and so on, there's one type of mod that's been gaining a lot of ground in spite of its unassuming nature. In fact, you'll find more of these than you will freckle mods or even eyeglass mods. What are they?

They're facial shaders.

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Death of a Simsman: It's Hard Work Killing Off Your Sims in The Sims 4

Kotaku The Sim Who Refused to Die
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez recently published a piece about one of the most contentious issues surrounding The Sims 4: The ability to kill your sims. Developers have spoken about how they wanted to make it harder for sims to die accidentally compared to previous games (one expansion to The Sims 3 make it possible for sims to be spontaneously hit by meteors for instance) because it's not very fun to lose a sim in the middle of your game. At the same time, when you sit someone down with a simulation they will instinctively test for its limits -- and "simicide" is a big part of that. She writes:

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Microsoft, Minecraft and Mojang: Here's How to Make Sense of Microsoft's $2.5B Purchase

Minecraft Kokeshi
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

After some speculation, it's official: Microsoft has purchased voxel-based sandbox game Minecraft for $2.5 billion. Maybe that makes perfect sense to you and maybe it doesn't. This past weekend as we discussed the massive purchase, my mother asked my why on earth Microsoft would want to buy Minecraft for anything approaching that much money. My answer? That it might be better to think of it in terms of why a company might want to buy Barbie or Lego. They're monolithic brands; highly recognizable, widely available and beloved by huge swathes of customers, both young and old. There are already teenagers who look at Minecraft with nostalgia right alongside people experiencing it for the very first time. It's a cultural touchstone.

But there's more to it than that. If you break this purchase down into its most basic economic terms, as analyst Michael Pachter did at GamesBeat 2014, it makes perfect sense. Polygon's Owen Good has picked the juiciest bits out of Pachter's comments on Microsoft's acquisition of Minecraft, and summarizes the issue succinctly:

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This Weekend, Try Out a New Sims 4 House by a Familiar Second Life Designer

Barnesworth Anubis Sims 4 builds
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'll be cooling it slightly on the Sims 4 posts starting next week (I promise!) but I just had to mention this for the sake of anyone planning to play this weekend. Barnesworth Anubis, one of Second Life's most experienced and most popular virtual home designers, has been hard at work in The Sims 4 creating some of the most elegant houses I've seen yet. You won't find many cozy cottages or cramped starters in Barnesworth's portfolio, but if you're looking for a big beautiful space for your virtual family his creations are a great place to start.

Check out his designs in The Sims 4 gallery under the username "BarnesAnubis" or in his Sims 4 album on Flickr. And while you're at it, scope out some of his Second Life builds on the SL Marketplace.

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Home is Where the Craftybot is: Fan Remakes of Defunct MMO Glitch Are Making Serious Progress

 
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Fans of Glitch are still hard at work on their projects to revive the closed (and subsequently open-sourced) MMO. Just this week the team behind one such project, named Eleven, released a video demonstrating the housing system in action. Unlike most tech demos the point of this video isn't to reveal anything new or surprising, but rather to demonstrate how faithful their reconstruction is -- to stir up the nostalgia and fondness that Glitch fans have for the defunct game. They also recently released character customization, so you can rebuild the Glitchens of your past or start completely fresh.

Eleven isn't the only Glitch remake in progress, however...

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The Sims 4 Can Be Just as Weird as its Predecessors, And Here Are The Pictures to Prove It

Sims 4 Streaker 4
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A Sims game isn't officially a Sims game until weird stories start leaking out across the internet. I'm not just talking about glitches and bugs (though there are plenty of those) but rather those strange little twists of fate and circumstance that lead to bizarre encounters and, ideally, more than a few ridiculous screenshots. 

I've had a few particularly weird situations arise in The Sims 4 since its release last week, proving that things can still run off the rails even when every system in the game is working as intended. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Ten Tips to Get The Most Out of The Sims 4

Sims 4 Streaker
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I've really come around on The Sims 4 since I started playing it last week (read my full review on Paste) but one of its biggest shortcomings is how obscured some of its best features are. These are things that give you micro (and macro) control over your simulated world, and given some of the game's other shortcomings that control can vastly improve your experience.

If you're playing The Sims 4 or planning to in the future, here are ten simple tips you'll want to keep in mind:

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Iris Wants to Know: What Do You Play, and Why?

The Sims 4 selfie
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Here on NWN I write a lot about the games I like to play. I gush about exploration games, building games, open-world games, RPGs and storytelling worlds, simulations and fantasy, and over the years I've gotten a lot of great feedback from readers about games across the spectrum. Many of you love exploring the different facets of and possibilities in massive games like The Sims and Minecraft as much as you like being exposed to much smaller and more "niche" titles. 

But there's one thing that consistently bugs me. The fact is, you have a much better idea of what I like than I do about what you like, and I want to change that.

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Must Read: To Fair-Minded Proponents of #GamerGate

Fair-Minded Proponents
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're tuned into either side of the "GamerGate" fiasco, this weekend you should do yourself a tremendous favour and read this article on Medium. It's all about addressing the concerns of many of the GamerGate movement's supporters, and it is one of the most levelheaded pieces that's been written about it to date. Writer L. Rhodes took the time to ask GamerGate's proponents what they saw as the key issues, and how they wanted them to be resolved. Their answers varied widely, and Rhodes' own responses are informed and comprehensive. This section in particular struck me:

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