Play: My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day

Garbage Cat (1)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I have to believe that this game comes from a place of love. It might not sound like it from the name, or they way you play, or the message you get when you "win", but I just have to believe that the creator of My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day loves the titular garbage cat if he took the time to make a little game about the creature's late-night hijinks.

Then again, maybe it's just the culmination of more than a few sleepless nights.

Garbage Cat (2)My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day is short and to the point. With graphics and a greenish tinge reminiscent of the original Gameboy, it puts the player in control of a restless little garbage cat. They can hop around the room, knock things to the floor to destroy them, clamber up tilted lamps and mewl incessantly, even pause to purr and knead their paws on whatever surface they're in the process of destroying. The ultimate goal is to wake up garbage cat's master, with a meter on the top of the screen tracking their success.

It's a small game with a pretty good sense of humor. If you're a cat-lover (or even the distinct opposite of one) My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day is certainly worth a sliver of your time this weekend. Play it on creator Will Herring's itch.io page here.

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Kickstart This: Das Tal, an Innovative MMO Where Regular Server Wipes are a Feature

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

Typically, character wipes are a nightmare. When a game wipes everyone's characters for whatever reason (usually during its beta phases) all that hard-won loot and all those hard-earned levels evaporate into thin air, and everyone from the most hardcore to the most casual players are dropped right back at square one. Together.

It's infuriating.

Which is why it might seem a bit baffling that an MMO currently seeking development funds on Kickstarter is advertising its regular character wipes. They're not a grim necessity or an unfortunate by-product of development, but rather a feature. Something intended to improve the overall experience of playing. That's what PVP sandbox MMO Das Tal is promising, and that promise itself is fascinating.

Here's the heart of their pitch:

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Seek: Find your Friends -- New Immersive World for iOS

Seek: Find Your Friends is a free new iOS game I haven't played yet, but offers us an immersive world ready to be explored:

According to Touch Arcade, it comes with heavy promise:

Seek, the winner of, among other awards, the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Game Award 2015, came out of the 7-week long international gaming competition Dare to be Digital, one of the premier video games development competition for University students and recent graduates. At the game's heart lies the idea of experiencing a colorful, vibrant island through the window of your iOS device. By utilizing the device's gyroscope and accelerometer in addition to the touch screen, Seek lets the player experience the island by moving the device in the same way one would move his or her head.

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I'm Disappointed That Steam's Paid Mods Are Off the Table (for Now), and Here's Why

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

Steam's nascent paid mod system has been scrapped (at least for the time being) in a shockingly quick reversal after its launch late last week. Naturally the Skyrim community, the test group for the system's initial roll-out, has been celebrating enthusiastically and oh wait, I'm lying. People are still very upset, myself included. 

I'm actually more disappointed than I am upset, for two very specific reasons.

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Kickstarter to Avatarize Yourself for 3D Worlds, Printing

Via Robert Thomas, here's an ambitious Kickstarter which brings high-end 3D motion capture to the masses, enabling anyone with $159 or more to avatarize themselves for 3D worlds or 3D printing, watch:

Slight catch: You need to be available and on-hand in various US cities during the project's tour to do the 3D capture process, but if you can do that, you're working with technology currently being used in VR:

We've already used the xxArray to develop a number of groundbreaking commercial projects, including the first-ever interactive 3D campaign for Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX to promote Relativity Media's "Earth to Echo," and Nurulize’s "RISE" demo, a 4K VR experience created for the Oculus Rift's DK2.

Pretty cool, if you really want to see yourself in full digitized 3D, though I sort of suspect the market self-avatarization is pretty limited. Also, to judge by the above video, this technology can capture the physical body, but not the soul -- i.e. facial expressions, emotions, etc. (At least at the asking price point.)

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Yes, You Can Convert Your SL Avatar Into Huanshi's MyIdol

MyIdol Huanshi Second Life avatar

How Hamlet looks in Huanshi's MyIdol

MyIdol (listed by its Chinese name in Apple's App Store: 小偶 - 我的3D萌偶), a free app from a developer called Huanshi, has gone incredibly viral. (As Iris reported last week, in a post that's been read by thousands of new readers, presumably people trying to Google information about MyIdol.) The app's designed to convert real world photos onto a 3D cartoon avatar, but as you can see above, MyIdol can also convert a straight-on image of your Second Life avatar. (Probably works with other MMO/RPGs, I suspect.) I think the conversion actually work even better than using RL photos (for obvious reasons). Give it a try, NWNers, and the post results in Comments!

So far, the app itself is pretty simple, with some cute/stupid animations and a large wardrobe of costumes you can play with. However, I actually suspect Huanshi has something even more ambitious in mind:

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This is the Single Worst Sentence in Bethseda's Announcement Defending Paid Skyrim Mods

Skyrim Creation Kit Mod controversy

Today Bethesda posted a weak defense of its highly controversial (and much discussed) new policy to sell user-made Skyrim mods, which the company then hastily reversed in an update to the same post. Even with the reversal, however, the whole ridiculous imbroglio sets a horrible precedent for user-made content in open world games from major publishers, because this single line from the company is now part of that precedent. It is so misguided, so ignorant, so greedy in the short term at the expense of long-term benefit, it needs to be laid out and shot full of arrows to the knee.

It came out in regard to Bethesda and Valve taking 75% of user-made mod sales to the mod developer's pitiful 25% cut:

The percentage conversation is about assigning value in a business relationship. How do we value an open IP license? The active player base and built in audience? The extra years making the game open and developing tools? The original game that gets modded? Even now, at 25% and early sales data, we’re looking at some modders making more money than the studio members whose content is being edited.

Emphasis mine, because the utter WTF-nesss of this line bears emphasis. Because it suggests that Bethesda looked at its sales data, noticed the runaway financial success of its most talented, dedicated grassroots developer fans... and decided that was a bad thing.

I'm not even finished with how bad this is:

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New on Steam: Kitty Powers' Matchmaker Takes Dating Sims to a Whole New Level

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

The heartstopping Kitty Powers has just made her glamorous debut on Steam, launching a Windows and Mac version of the popular Kitty Powers' Matchmaker for Android and iOS devices.

Kitty Powers Steam

I reviewed the mobile version of Kitty Powers' Matchmaker here on NWN when it came out last fall. My favorite thing about it was (and continues to be) the follow-up letters you receive when some time has passed after a 'successful' match. I say 'successful' because these letters can reveal the cracks in any relationship; even if you completely aced that first date, fundamental incompatibilities between your newly minted couple are a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. When it comes to games about dating and romance, this kind of mechanic is pathetically uncommon. The genre is plagued by the "Kindness Coins" approach, where doing and saying the right things almost invariably guarantees a happy ending. That's as unrealistic as it is boring, which is what makes Kitty Powers' Matchmaker such a breath of fresh air in comparison.

Kitty Powers' Matchmaker is 25% off on Steam until Wednesday, but it's a steal even at its regular $9.99 price tag.

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The Steam Workshop's New Paid Skyrim Mods Aren't the End of the World, I Promise

Steam Workshop Paid Content
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Yesterday Steam announced a brand new system that will allow modders to sell their content on the Steam Workshop, starting with one of the most actively modded games out there, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Since that initial announcement people have been, to be perfectly frank, losing their shit. They've been losing their shit on the Steam forums, they've been losing their shit on Twitter, they've been losing their shit on Reddit... Phrases like "modding is dead", "this will kill mods" and "it's the beginning of the end for modding" are being bandied about even more frequently than they are when some ill-advised developer/publisher starts sending modders Cease and Desists -- and that's saying something. But this isn't the end of the world or the death of the scene, I promise. It's just a change, and like anything else it has its pros and cons. 

As someone who ostensibly got her start writing about games by reviewing what amounts to paid, user-created mods, let me try to assuage some of the fears and concerns you may have about this new aspect of the Steam Workshop... And maybe plant a few new ones in their place.

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What Do Diner Dash and Knitting Have in Common? Read About the Appeal of Time Management Games

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

Yesterday, Offworld's Laura Hudson posted a pretty fascinating article examining her personal fondness of time management games. These games tend to be based around unglamorous scenarios that she's lived out in reality (the life of the harried waitress, for example) so their appeal to her might be a bit surprising. In her own words, "Why did I want to play intentionally stressful games that simulated the exact work experiences where I'd once felt so underpaid and undervalued? And why the hell did playing them make me feel so relaxed?"

Hudson's answer to that question not only provides insight into the widespread appeal of the "____ Dash" time management genre, but reminded me of my own profound fondness for a similar kind of play...

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