Dec 9, 2011
It's been a day of surprises for fans of Bastion. First, they announce that you can play the gravel-voiced adventure in the Chrome browser. And now comes word that they'll be releasing DLC for the game next week. (This comes after saying that they'd never make any.)
The Stranger's Dream add-on hits on 12/14 for $1 and, as the title suggests, expands the backstory of the mysterious narrator. It also opens up two new modes. The customizable Score Attack lets you mix and match from the unlocked Spirits and Idols modifiers to rack up as many points as you can while the cakewalk No Sweat provides minimal challenge for those who just want to experience the story. This DLC will be available for Bastion for Chrome, too, in the next few weeks. The XBLA version will cost $1 and the Steam version comes as a free title update. More details can be found at Supergiant's website.
Announcing the Stranger's Dream DLC for Bastion! [Supergiant Games]
First, Supergiant Games' acclaimed action RPG came out for the Xbox 360 as one of the games in Microsoft's annual Summer of Arcade promotion. Then, shortly after that, the narrator-centric release landed on Steam, which let PC owners tour the game's shattered world of Caelondia. Now the hit indie's been made to play in Google's very own browser software— at full resolution and everything—where even more people can experience one of 2011''s best games.
In a blog post in their official site, Supergiant details the specs you'll need to play the Chrome version of Bastion:
The Chrome version of Bastion requires:
- Processor: 1.7 GHz Dual Core or Greater
- Memory: 2 GB
- Hard Disk Space: 1.0 GB
- Video Card: 512 MB graphics card (shader model 2)
(Note: Gamepad controllers are not supported in this initial release.)
Hopefully, that gamepad support will find its way into this web version before too long. I gave the free trial of browser Bastion a spin on my iMac this morning and it looked as beautiful as it did on the Xbox 360. There's a significant chunk of initial load time as the game boots up but it ran smoothly for the 10 minutes or so I fiddled around with it. The game saves your progress to the cloud, which makes me think you can stop and start on different machines. However, you'll need a Google account log-in to do this. If you're curious, definitely try it out. Bastion's live on the Chrome web store now and, after the free trial, the full game's available for purchase at $14.99.
Bastion [Chrome Web Store]
Jul 4, 2011
Galileo discovered the language of nature. Einstein questioned the color of rainbows. Today's physicists ponder the vertical acceleration and horizontal velocity of an angry bird in flight.
Cell phone owners from all walks of life have flocked to popular, affordable mobile game Angry Birds for its bite-sized entertainment, quirky humor and cheerful art style. Physicists, however, are taking to the game for an entirely different sort of reason.
"We're using physics to explore this completely new video game world. We get to ask questions just like scientists ask when they're trying to figure out the atmospheric composition of a planet, or the motion of a new never before seen asteroid," said John Burk, a physics teacher at Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. "What are the laws of physics in the Angry Birds world? My students get a chance to be scientists, and be among the first to find the answer to this question. "
Burk is among a growing group of physics teachers and students exploring the game as a way to reduce the study of nature and how the universe behaves to something not only a bit more accessible, but fun.
Burk said he got the idea of combining Angry Birds, a game that has players launching a bird across an expanse of blue skies and grassy fields and into forts, with the study of physics came from Rhett Allain, one of Wired.com's science bloggers and an associate professor of physics at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Allain made a name for himself analyzing and writing about the physics found in a myriad of different forms of pop culture, from lucky basketball shots to science fiction stories.
"I like to write about things I enjoy," Allain said. "I started playing Angry Birds and discovered it is surprisingly fun, so I thought I would analyze it. It's a fun game. It's a simple game and it lends itself to being analyzed."
"That's the magic of physics: Everything we are interested in we can explore more and find out how complicated it is."
One of the reasons Angry Birds made the jump from the cell phone to the classroom was because it became available on Google's Chrome web browser, making it easier for folks to capture video of the their own attempts at launching birds across the screen and into buildings. This was vital because it also allowed fans of physics to analyze the results with a special computer program.
Frank Noschese, a physics teacher at John Jay High School in Cross River, New York, used the program to create several videos he posted on his website. A month later physics teacher Michael Magnuson created five physics exam questions and sent them around on an email list dedicated to Western New York physics teachers. The idea was to get students to figure out the answers using Angry Birds and video analysis software.
The questions asked if a blue angry bird conserves energy when it splits in three, or a white bird conserves momentum when it drops its bomb. One question had students ricochet an angry bird off of a block in the world and then determine the coefficient of restitution and the mass of the angry bird.
"One of the things about video games is that it's kind of like starting over," Allain said. "Like starting over with real physics in a new world. Angry Birds doesn't obey all of the laws of physics. Blue birds, if you tap it in flight make three birds. But that doesn't obey the rules about conservation of mass
While the game breaks the real rules of physics, that doesn't mean it isn't without its own rules.
"There are rules,' Allain said. "There is a truth."
I suggested he just ask the developers what that rule is, but Allain said that would be like skipping to the end of a good book or movie.
"I don't want them to spoil my fun," he said. "I don't want them to tell me what happens in the movie Thor either."
Nochese says he plans to start using Angry Birds in his regular curriculum starting next year, introducing each problem at the appropriate time to teach about things like the conservation of momentum and projectile motion.
"Video games are a nice addition to a physics teacher's bag of tricks," he said. "But I don't see video games replacing sports, cards, or anything else relevant to our students. In fact, for my students' final physics projects, there were groups that investigated baseball, wiffleball, golf, longboarding, and lacrosse. When we did projectile motion, I introduced the unit with the YouTube video of Kobe Bryant jumping over a swimming pool of snakes. They wanted to know if the video was real or fake."
Rhett, who typically teaches upper level physics students and those with very specific focuses, has never brought Angry Birds into the classroom.
Burk, though, started using the game in his classroom straight away.
"They loved it," he said. "I think students thought that it was a really interesting problem to think about why the gravitational field in the Angry Birds world (if we assume that the birds are normal size) would be less than than in the real world. If Rovio had chosen a realistic value for the gravitational field the motion would have happened much more quickly, and the game would likely not be as fun."
The students have become so enthralled with their examination of the physics of Angry Birds' fictional world that some have suggested moving on to another cell phone game: Tiny Wings.
The fact that video games like Angry Birds don't always use the rules of real world physics just makes things more interesting and challenging for students, Burk said. That's because instead of relying on the rules they already know to figure things out, students are asked to figure out who those new laws are and then to think about why a game designer decided to break the real rules of physics.
Next year Burk plans to take things further, having students pursue projects of their choosing to investigate the physics of a video game.
"With each game that gets released," he said, "we get a whole new world to explore."
Well Played is an internationally syndicated weekly news and opinion column about the big stories of the week in the gaming industry and its bigger impact on things to come. Feel free to join in the discussion.
Harmless distractions like Angry Birds are perfectly acceptable browser game fodder, should you have nothing better to play, but a newly released port of emulator DOSbox for Google's Chrome browser is the superior option—especially if you love LucasArts adventure games.
NaClBox makes that possible. It's a newly released port of DOSbox—the free emulator used by the likes of id Software and LucasArts use for their classic MS-DOS re-releases (Wolfenstein 3D, Star Wars: Dark Forces) for modern day PCs. GOG.com uses DOSbox for its retro releases. Bethesda and 3D Realms recommend it too.
NaClBox takes advantage of Google Chrome's Native Client technology that lets developers host native applications in a browser. All it takes is a couple preference settings in Chrome, really. (Though, NaClBox's creators do warn of potential security and performance risks associate with enabling Native Client.)
And NaClBox works just fine, based on my experience playing games like The Secret of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Sim City 2000 in Chrome. The emulator port's creators have demos of a handful of classic DOS titles available for testing at the official NaClBox site.
Ultimately, what NaClBox could mean for old school gaming enthusiasts is one more way—one easier way—to play proto-PC games from their browser or Chrome OS—which, by the way, is coming to Samsung hardware this summer.
Head over to the official NaClBox site to learn more, then give the emulator a whirl if you're interested. Just go easy on the guys' bandwidth, OK?
May 11, 2011
Google isn't above killing a little productivity to prove the power of its web browser. The search engine king has released a special free browser-based version of Rovio's avian-flinging sensation Angry Birds on the Chrome Web Store, just to prove it can be done.
Announced earlier today at the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco, the new browser-based version of Angry Birds is a testament to how far Google's Chrome browser has come in a short time. According to Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Chrome, Angry Birds in a web browser wouldn't have been possible a year ago. With a graphics rendering speed ten-times-faster than earlier versions, today's Chrome can make it happen.
As can, incidentally, today's version of Safari. Today's version of Firefox, on the other hand, was a bust. No one uses Internet Explorer anymore, so we didn't even bother.
The free version of Angry Birds features the game's first level, Poached Eggs, along with a set of exclusive Chrome-themed levels. You can install it now via the Chrome Web Store. It runs rather nicely, and as an added bonus, remains cached for offline play.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got pigs to kill.
Angry Birds flutters over to Chrome [VentureBeat]
Dec 7, 2010
Today Google made lots of news: They unveiled their new "cloud based" browser, they opened up a Google Store and, they started carrying a library of in-browser games including a new Mirror's Edge title.
Electronic Arts is teaming up with Google to bundle Poppit! with future releases of Chrome and say that thanks to Google's Web Toolkit the HTML5 version of the game has never looked better.
Other games coming to the Chrome store include quite a few titles we've already seen and played quite a bit on web browsers, games like Lords of Ultima, FIFA Superstars and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online.
One Chrome store surprise is the inclusion of Mirror's Edge 2D, which I hope is an awful lot like the wonderful iPhone and iPad versions of the game.
"The web has become an incredibly powerful platform for innovation, allowing users to do much more online than they ever imagined," said Sundar Pichai, VP of product management for Google Chrome. "The Chrome Web Store showcases the power of the open web and we're excited to have several gaming titles from EA as a part of it."