Kotaku

People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsIt can be a challenge to buy a gift for your brainy, science-obsessed friend. What kind of games might he or she like? The science brains among us can be so intimidating, partly because it's always scary buying things for smart people, but partly because who knows what those science people even like? Do they want beakers? A scale perhaps? Maybe some sort of assistance in covering up their secret meth-cooking operation?



This list is for you, weary gift-giver. It's here to help you find some fun science-ish gifts for the egghead in your life. And always remember: if none of these sound good, you can always tell them that your gift-selection process is "still in the hypothesis stage." Scientists love that kind of stuff.





People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsSpaceChem



One of the smartest games in recent memory, Spacechem and science go together like peas and carrots. I mean come on, it's called "SpaceChem!" And it lives up to that name. It's an ever-more complex game that involves creatively coming up with combinations of molecules to form new chemicals. It's open-ended, hugely brainy, and rewards lateral thought and creativity.



($9.99 on Steam)





People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsExtra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell



While we're talking about things that smart people like, Tom Bissell's 2010 book Extra Lives: While Video Games Matter, while not particularly sciency, remains one of the most purely enjoyable pieces of video game writing you can buy. Think of it as a more holistic alternative to Jesse Schell's book (later)—well-written, humorous stories about games and the people who make them.



($15.61 at Amazon)





People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsPortal 2 "Science to Do" T-Shirt



Since it's a safe bet that your friend will already have played Valve's smart and sciency Portal 2, what better way to celebrate both their love of games and their love of Portal than with a fun Portal T-shirt? This one, from ThinkGeek.com, seems particularly appropriate. One of the best things about Portal T-shirts is that they hold up even if the person viewing the shirt doesn't get the reference. There's science to do!



($18.99 at ThinkGeek.com)





People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsFate of the World



Fate of the World is a game that cries out for a scientific mind. A complicated and unforgiving simulation about global climate change and strife, it requires players to carefully navigate a minefield of potential disasters while working towards some sort of accord. Which usually never comes. A knowledge of world economic, political, and environmental affairs is required, and even the most seasoned leader will learn something after a few games. It's not easy, and it's not forgiving, but science never is.



($18.99 online)





People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsThe Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell



One of the smartest and most accessible game-design books out there, Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses strikes a great balance by being both hugely informative about the process of making games while not shutting out readers who may not know a ton about the nuts and bolts of game design. Schell himself—former Disney imagineer, professor at Carnegie Mellon, all around cool dude—is the main attraction here, and his inviting style makes for a tremendously enjoyable and educational read.



($30.87 at Amazon)





People Who Like Science and Other Thinky PursuitsPortal 2



When buying games and gifts for a person who loves science, it's important not to forget the most science-tastic game of all, Portal 2. While it's likely that most science fans have already played the game, it's worth making sure, since Portal 2 was easily one of the smartest and most enjoyable games of 2011. The puzzles are first-rate and make you to really use your brain, and the story is hilarious—you'll never look at robots (or potatoes) the same way again.



($42.75 at Amazon, Cheaper Used at Half.com)





You can contact Kirk Hamilton, the author of this post, at kirk@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Indie Royale's "Difficult 2nd Bundle" of indie gaming fun has been expanded, adding bonus goodies including soundtracks, downloadable content, and new games. As the offer approaches its final day, you can now "pay what you want" (above a minimum price) for a grand six games.

The two new additions are shoot 'em ups Bullet Candy Perfect and Irukandji by Charlie Knight, whose Scoregasm was one of the bundle's original games.

They can be added to a Desura account, but, unlike the other games, not to Steam. If you've already bought the bundle, you'll find the games added to your purchase page.

Fate of the World, NightSky, Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! round out the bundle. It also now includes all Fate of the World Steam downloadable content, which usually costs $11.97. You get its soundtrack too, as well as those for NightSky and Scoregasm.

Head on over to Indie Royale to buy The Difficult 2nd Bundle. It'll only be available until 8am Pacific on Tuesday.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

Um.

The second Indie Royale bundle has this second gone live. You’ll remember the first one from Adam telling you all about it. It’s the excitingly confusing system where the price goes up over time, but people paying more than that price cause it to go down. I think. Whatever it is, it works, and tens of thousands of people bought the first one, getting a splendid bargain. So what’s in the second collection?

(more…)

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Fledgling 'pay what you want' bundle vendor Indie Royale today launched 'The Difficult 2nd Bundle,' it's next cut-price collection of indies. The new bundle packs Fate of the World, NightSky, Scoregasm, Time Gentlemen, Please!, and Ben There, Dan That!.

As with the first Indie Royale bundle, it launched at a price of $1.99, which rises as people pay the bare minimum. However, when customers pay above the minimum, they can push the price back down a little for everyone else.

The Difficult 2nd Bundle presents a varied spread of games. IGF finalist NightSky is a puzzle-platformer, Scoregasm's an arena shooter, Fate of the World simulates global warming and politico-economic conditions, while Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! are delightfully crude and amusing adventure games.

All the games can be added to Steam and Desura accounts, or you can download them directly.

The bundle will be on sale until 10am Pacific on Tuesday.

Product Update - Valve

Changes since previous release


  • Fixed: Steam Cloud synchronisation failure on Mac. Caused save files and mission progress to be reset when game was launched. [#3271]

  • Fixed: Achievements not awarded on Steam. [#3273]
  • Fixed: UI crash in load/save screen when deleting the last save. [#3279]
  • Fixed: UI crash when impact effects with unrecognised categories occur (usually triggered by old mods). [#3270]
  • Fixed: UI lockup when transitioning between regions with graph open (or something like that) [#3278]
  • Changed: 'Relax Borders' now completes after one turn. [#3266]
  • Fixed: inline save button on Mac crashed the UI. This button has been removed; the main Save button at the bottom-right of the screen will save the game. [#3268]
  • Fixed: Occasional crash when using the ? button in the region telemetry. [#3283]


Known issues


  • Crash reported when starting the mission The Flood. [#3272]

  • Game crashes with a "Failed to DrawPrimitive" message. This most probably means that you do not have enough Video Memory to run the game (you need at least 512MB). Try setting "Texture Quality" to "Low" or "Medium" in the Options screen. [#2726]

  • Game occasionally crashes when alt-tabbing from fullscreen. [#2517]

  • Steam version of the game fails to start with Zone Alarm installed. Workaround: Uninstall Zone Alarm Toolbar. [#2738]

  • Game has been reported to quit to desktop after the 'Please Wait' message on Windows XP. [#2716]
  • Game UI can be extremely slow if you have ASUS gamingOSD or ASUS smartdoctor installed. [#2757]
  • Sometimes sound will fail to initialise; restarting generally fixes this but the sound will never recover without a restart. [#2169]
  • The game will crash when launching from steam if you have a Air Display's virtual graphics adapter running. As a work around you can disable this adapter. [#2780]
  • UI becomes sluggish after several hours of play [#2695]
  • Users upgrading from old versions sold by GamersGate/Impulse have reported the Denial and Migration DLC installers failing to recognise the installed copy of Fate of the World. If this happens to you, please uninstall Fate of the World; then install version 1.1 (or later) afresh; then try the DLC installers again. [#3265]
  • "Cannot create device! in D3D9Device::createD3D9Device" error when launching the game. Please try the OpenGL renderer if this happens to you. [#3284]

  • 'Commit to Renewables' stalls without explanation when reaching high levels of renewable energy use. [#3280]
  • 'Denial' mission bonuses are not marked as achieved correctly. [#3275]
  • Energy telemetry pane can sometimes show > 100% energy use under certain conditions (such as large renewable energy numbers) [#3002]

  • "Expand coal/oil/gas" can sometimes be played when there is no more of that resource available. [#3151]
  • 'Gene Plague' cards unlock everywhere when developed in any region. [#3156]
  • It has been reported that the game fails to launch from Steam, but also fails to show any kind of error message. [#3269]
  • It has been reported that the game slows down over 80+ years on a particular laptop. Finally, a RenderingAPIException is thrown and the game exits. Please try the OpenGL renderer if you experience this problem. [#3276]
  • Stacked graphs with negative components do not represent the totals properly. [#2468]
  • When updating to a new version of the game, any modified files owned by the game will not be updated. The workaround is to uninstall the game completely, then reinstall it. [#3237]
  • Height of stacked graph columns sometimes do not add up to the total for the stat. [#2591]
  • The game is not compatible with MaxiVista software - please turn off the software and/or any devices connected that way before running the game. [#2921]

  • The globe becomes stretched horizontally after the game has been left idle for a long period of time. [#1836]
  • Annual Emissions Summary tooltips and Temperature/Emission screen predictors react too strongly to changes in the previous turn. [#2721]
PC Gamer



Fate of the World is a strategy game about saving the world from climate change. You'll have to deal with the threat of rising sea levels, spiralling carbon emissions, species extinction, political uprising, flash fires and more over the course of 200 years. RPS note that a new version, Tipping Point, is out now. As well as some interface tweaks, new scenarios and the much needed addition of an easy mode, Tipping Point includes the Denial, Migration and Extras DLC packs. It's all bundled together and available through Steam, Gamersgate and from the Fate of the World site. You can find out more in our Fate of the World review.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

If only someone had prevented this. I mean you. It's your fault. All of it.

Edited to correct pricing details – thanks for pointing it out, folks!

It’s been a while since I’ve played Fate of the World, the game that tasks you with saving the world from mankind and itself in a terrifyingly realistic fashion. Quinns wrote a fine summation of it here, summed up by the phrase “You find out you’re an idiot”, which is precisely what I found out when playing as well. And for a while I played it far too much, so that every news report of a real life catastrophe I read would make me roll my eyes at the futility of all possible solutions. It might be time to go back and give it another go with the release of Fate of the World: Tipping Point, which adds new scenarios, cards, features and UI enhancements. It’s available at a 20% discount at present and can be purchased either through Steam, GamersGate or direct from Red Redemption. Both Steam and GamersGate are currently offering large discounts to owners of the original. There’s even a trailer!

(more…)

Product Update - Valve
Version 1.1 : Released 2011-09-29


Upgrade instructions:
  • Download fotw.msi from your distributor (Direct2Drive users will download fotw.exe instead)
  • Launch it; it will remove older versions and install the new version
Changes since previous release:
  • Added: Migration now occurs as a result of many environmental impacts. These effects only occur in the missions 'Three Degrees', 'Dr Apocalypse' and 'The Flood' and only if the Migration DLC is installed. [#3030]

  • Added: support for Mac OS X (10.6 or later) [#240]

  • Added: Regional Technology Panel, showing the current Tech level and the rate of advancement for each of the 5 main tech paths. [#1975]

  • Added: Easy mode - boosts support and stability but disables achievements. [#3264]

  • Changed: Data telemetry redesigned to have an overview page instead of the overly-simplified key stats, to allow quicker access to region and global information. [#3064]
  • Added: Locked missions have a padlock icon displayed on them and the name of locking mission displayed in the mission details. [#3126]
  • Changed: Cards that stall silently now correctly show as "completed" on hand history, rather than indefinitely showing as paused. [#3006]

  • Changed: Climate-triggered impacts for temperatures > 3 degrees have had their hit chance balanced with a greater finesse to distinguish between 3 -> 3. 5 degree and 3.5 to 4 degrees. [#3031]
  • Changed: When starting a new game, the 'Projects' deck is no longer selected by default, thereby removing confusion about the limited number of cards available. [#2549]
  • Fixed: On Windows, trying to save a game with the same name but different case will not overwrite older games unless the player wishes to do so. [#3007]
  • Fixed: poor performance on main menu when there are a lot of late-game saves [#2944]
  • Fixed: Reports that ave support changes more reliably show the change in support for all impact types. [#2987]
  • Fixed: Step forwards achievement was not triggering correctly. [#2938]
  • Added: Globe recruit interface now has optional stats for cross-region comparison of key game data. [#3080]
  • Added: Language select option (only English is distributed in version 1. 1) [#3157]
  • Added: New cards including Baby Boom, Late Retirement, Police Nukes, Prayer and more [#3068]
  • Added: The game can be run without graphics card shaders which may help performance on some graphics cards by adding --noshaders to the command line on launch. [#2908]
  • Added: Tutorial tips between turns and loading/saving pauses [#3076]
  • Added: UI indicators showing which region has been chosen as the GEO Headquarters. [#3062]
  • Changed: Fotwpedia now has category filter buttons [#3153]
  • Changed: High Yield Crops may now trigger a potential renewal cost demand which will degrade crop yields if unpaid. [#3234]
  • Changed: Region telemetry navigation has been changed following overview pages with more consistent buttons for switching between graphs and stats. [#2674]
  • Changed: Updated manual for version 1. 1 [#2718]
  • Fixed: Coal-free Industry no longer requires the completion of another project card. [#3118]
  • Fixed: Corrected error that stopped regions regaining stability in some circumstance. [#3043]
  • Fixed: Dr Apocalypse HQ art no longer persists when loading a different mission. [#3134]
  • Fixed: Game win movies for Three Degrees and both Dr Apocalypse win scenarios correctly hooked up. [#2338]
  • Fixed: Large temperature increases now make the Amazon collapse more certain than previous logic. [#3009]
  • Fixed: Playing Tobin Tax in all twelve regions correctly triggers the 'Tax Man' achievement. [#3037]
  • Fixed: Some categories of wildfires could play both defended and undefended versions. [#3242]
  • Fixed: Some tidal impacts at different levels were triggering at the same time. [#3247]
  • Changes: end-turn summary page is skipped if you lose by being banned from all regions. [#2582]
  • Fixed: cards and dealers declared in one data file could not be replaced by definitions from a second, later-sorted data file [#3187]
  • Fixed: End-turn emission summary screen scales emissions values more appropriately [#3188]
  • Fixed: Instrument predictor pointers now animate correctly after loading a save game. [#2673]
  • Fixed: Telemetry UI is now reset when starting a new mission. [#2360]
  • Fixed: typo in 'clathrate mining starts' impact effect [#3084]
Known issues:
  • Game crashes with a "Failed to DrawPrimitive" message. This most probably means that you do not have enough Video Memory to run the game (you need at least 512MB). Try setting "Texture Quality" to "Low" or "Medium" in the Options screen. [#2726]
  • Game occasionally crashes when alt-tabbing from fullscreen. [#2517]
  • Steam version of the game fails to start with Zone Alarm installed. Workaround: Uninstall Zone Alarm Toolbar. [#2738]
  • Game has been reported to quit to desktop after the 'Please Wait' message on Windows XP. [#2716]
  • Game UI can be extremely slow if you have ASUS gamingOSD or ASUS smartdoctor installed. [#2757]
  • Sometimes sound will fail to initialise; restarting generally fixes this but the sound will never recover without a restart. [#2169]
  • The game will crash when launching from steam if you have a Air Display's virtual graphics adapter running. As a work around you can disable this adapter. [#2780]
  • UI becomes sluggish after several hours of play [#2695]
  • Energy telemetry pane can sometimes show > 100% energy use under certain conditions (such as large renewable energy numbers) [#3002]
  • "Expand coal/oil/gas" can sometimes be played when there is no more of that resource available. [#3151]
  • Stacked graphs with negative components do not represent the totals properly. [#2468]
  • When updating to a new version of the game, any modified files owned by the game will not be updated. The workaround is to uninstall the game completely, then reinstall it. [#3237]
  • Height of stacked graph columns sometimes do not add up to the total for the stat. [#2591]
  • The game is not compatible with MaxiVista software - please turn off the software and/or any devices connected that way before running the game. [#2921]
  • The globe becomes stretched horizontally after the game has been left idle for a long period of time. [#1836]
  • Annual Emissions Summary tooltips and Temperature/Emission screen predictors react too strongly to changes in the previous turn. [#2721]
Product Release - Valve
Fate of the World: Tipping Point is now Available on Steam for Mac & PC!

Revised, rebalanced and expanded, "Tipping Point" is Fate of the World as it's meant to be played. Take control of the GEO through the five original missions, as well as the “Cornucopia” and “Earth Day” update missions, and the “Denial”, “Migration” and “Extras Pack” DLCs.

Purchase before October 6th at 10AM Pacific Time and receive 20% off!

...

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