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Posts Tagged ‘bag’

Not so fast: Environmental concerns halt Atari ‘E.T.’ cartridge dig

An original E.T. game cartridge, signed by the lead designer. Millions were made, and most of them were buried in a New Mexico landfill after the game was deemed one of the worst ever.


(Credit:
Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

New Mexico environmental regulators have put the kibosh on the excavation of millions of Atari “E.T.” game cartridges from a garbage dump there.

According to The Guardian, the New Mexico Environment Department has said that filmmakers planning a documentary about the burial of the cartridges in 1983 owing to catastrophic sales must first acquire a waste excavation plan.

At
South by Southwest earlier this month, filmmakers from Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment said they were almost ready to start digging into the garbage dump in Alamogordo, N.M., to look for the cartridges. Their research had led them there, they said, and they were planning on a long dig, since they didn’t know precisely where in the dump the millions of games might be found.

Atari’s E.T. game is universally considered one of the worst in history, brought to market in just weeks following the monumental success of Steven Spielberg’s 1983 film “E.T.” It was thought to be boring, aesthetically ugly, and shallow. Though it immediately sold 1.5 million copies thanks to its ties to the movie, sales quickly stalled, and the result was a $500 million loss for Atari, a financial disaster that drove the once high-flying company into ruin.

The episode has been referred to as Atari’s “corporate shame.”

Last June, the Guardian reported, city officials in Alamogordo approved the excavation. But New Mexico Environment Department spokesperson Jim Winchester told the publication that state environmental officials, who have the final say on the approval of a waste excavation plan, rejected it last month. He added that the filmmakers have yet to submit a new plan.

Requests for comment by CNET to the New Mexico Environment Department and Fuel Entertainment were not immediately returned.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/K2HCBat8zbw/

Food-gnashing compost container tops Grommet awards

Green Cycler composter

Grind your way through your food scraps.


(Credit:
Ecotonix)

The Ecotonix Green Cycler is a compost container for a new age. It doesn’t just sit around in your kitchen, silently holding your vegetable scraps. It takes those scraps and eats them up, grinding them into little bits for faster, more convenient composting in your compost bin. The Green Cycler was just honored as a winner of product-launch platform The Grommet’s product-pitch showdown, taking top honors in the ready-for-market category.

The $99 Green Cycler first launched in 2012 and has gone through some updates since then. It features a crank-powered set of shredder blades that grind food waste down into a size that composts much more quickly than big chunks.

The other top product-pitch winner is Increment Studios’ O-Rings, a set of sensory learning toys geared for special-needs kids. It took the prize in the ready-for-crowdfunding category. The colorful rings are made with different materials to encourage kids to stack them and play with them while exploring the different weights and textures. The company is planning a Kickstarter launch to fund the O-Rings.

The Grommet product-pitch competition focuses on items that work as hacks or problem-solvers. The winners will get a launch campaign on The Grommet, which specializes in bringing new products to market. Other finalists included Litter One, a biodegradeable cat box, and Tray Bien, a laptop bag/tray for holding both your computer and drinks during a flight. Look for both the Green Cycler and O-Rings to get a boost from The Grommet exposure.

O-Rings sensory toys

These toys are designed for special-needs kids and their friends.


(Credit:
Increment Studios)

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Bear Simulator: Take the world in your paw

Bear simulator.
(Credit:
Farjay Studios)

There’s a class that’s seriously under-represented when it comes to video games, always the mob, never the protagonist. We are, of course, referring to the magnificent, noble bear. While the bear occasionally gets a look-in — World of Warcraft and Enviro-Bear being two notable examples — more often than not, the poor misunderstood bear is treated as an enemy to be punched.

Luckily, one brave game is attempting to redress the balance — by combining it with one of our favourite genres ever, the simulation.

“A few games in the past got it right and have been rewarded with universal praise, notably Banjo-Kazooie and Enviro-Bear, but there [haven't] been many solid, somewhat realistic bear simulation games (if at all). That’s where this comes in,” one-man developer Farjay Studios explains on the game’s Kickstarter page. “Sure it may seem like a ‘dumb idea’ or a ‘really dumb idea’ but you can’t honestly tell me you’ve never secretly wanted to be a bear wandering around the forest. That’s just an outright lie.”

Bear simulator.
(Credit:
Farjay Studios)

Bear Simulator, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, will make all our dreams come true. In it, you get all the beary adventuring you could hope for: wandering the woods, fighting prey, and paw-smacking anything that moves.

Actually, it sounds a bit deeper than that. The game is, first and foremost, an exploration game, and will have lots of secrets to discover across multiple areas. In addition, you’ll be able to customize your bear (although, since the game is in first perso- er, bear, there’s not a lot of the bear that’s actually visible) and make animal friends (assuming you don’t eat them first). It actually sounds like rather a rich and interesting experience, and alpha screenshots and footage look really well put together. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the developer turns out to be a veteran of the industry — he’s remarkably good, however, at keeping his identity mum.

Backer rewards are pretty sweet, too. All Kickstarter backers who pledge $15 or more (the minimum pledge to get the game) get access to an exclusive in-game island that features backer-submitted ideas, as well as a key that unlocks a secret shed.

Higher reward tiers include ultracool sunglasses for your bear’s HUD avatar; an exclusive white bear with glowing tattoos; a red squirrel friend; appearing in-game as a rock; and items such as T-shirts, tote bags, stickers, and prints.

The game will be distributed via Steam. You can head over to the Bear Simulator Kickstarter page to learn more and pledge your support. Which you absolutely should. Because bears.

(Source: CNET Australia)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/acqZ99Qx-Nw/

Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

Tidy Dog with dog

A cavalier pup poses with the Tidy Dog.


(Credit:
Tidy Dog)

For most humans, having a clean house is its own reward. Dogs, however, need some convincing. The Tidy Dog toy box on Kickstarter wants to help train your pooch to pick up its toys, a feat that many children have yet to master. The bin works on a tasty treat reward system, which is a form of currency dogs understand well.

The Tidy Dog looks simple on the surface, but it actually contains sensors that detect the weight of a toy when it is placed in the bin. In exchange, the box dispenses a treat.

Plenty of dogs will try to figure out how to game the system, but the software is designed to thwart that. If a dog removes a toy from the bin, then it won’t dispense treats for 30 seconds. That keeps the pooch from continuously picking up toys and dropping them back into place.

Tidy Dog creator Chris Lorkowski says the Tidy Dog can differentiate between a toy and the dog’s nose rooting around in the box. He also says it can tell if a dog is just standing in the box. It has load cells built into the design that detect vibrations created by an animal. Hopefully, this feature would also be able to tell if your cat crawls into the toy bin for a snooze. After all, you want to train your pup, not make it fat.

An early backer special puts the Tidy Dog along with a bag of treats at a $69 pledge level. The prototype was developed using Lorkowski’s dog Evie as the test subject. She definitely has the hang of cleaning up her toys in exchange for kibble. As far as doggie gadgets go, the Tidy Dog is an entertaining concept. It may be perfect for people who are tired of tripping over chew toys all the time. It just might create a new generation of canine neat freaks.

Tidy Dog

The Tidy Dog uses weight sensors to detect toys.


(Credit:
Tidy Dog)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/e5OcoKjshto/

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A tour of the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur


(Credit:
Geoffrey Morrison)

The iconic Petronas Towers dominate the Kuala Lumpur skyline, becoming, as many great buildings do, a symbol of the city.

On a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, I was able to get tickets up to the top (not a given as they do sell out).

Metal and glass and a bridge, after the jump.

A tour of the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur (Pictures)

I didn’t know what to expect when I got to Kuala Lumpur. It’s a city I’d heard of, but not one I knew much about. For one thing, it’s hot. Even at the end of February, it was an oppressive 95 degrees with, I’m not sure, is it possible to have 9,000% humidity?

There’s a business to the city, perhaps not as rushed and hectic as Hong Kong, but like most big cities, there’s an undeniable feeling of people doing things.

Construction was what many were doing, and that’s probably KL’s biggest story. There’s construction everywhere. KL is growing. Rapidly.

You buy tickets for a certain time, and you only get a limited amount at the top (about 15 minutes). This is disappointing, as I would have liked to have just chilled up there for a bit. It’s not a big space, the viewing area, so a regimented schedule makes sense, I guess.


(Credit:
Geoffrey Morrison)

You start, however, in the basement. No bags allowed. You surrender them as you pass though security. Then the coolness begins: a safety briefing on smoke. Not about smoke mind you, but projected onto smoke. Well, a vapor anyway. It’s a clever use for a screen (there are some pictures in the gallery), and reminds me of the captain’s cabin in SeaQuest DSV.

Then you’re squished into the elevator. There are no windows. Instead, big vertical flat panels give you a video of what it would look like if there were windows. Cheeky, that.

The first stop is the bridge between the twin towers. I was equally excited to see this bridge, one of the Tower’s defining features. I have a thing for interstitial spaces like this. The view was great. Even though you’re not that high (41st floor), peering out past the towers themselves plus the feeling that there’s nothing below you for hundreds of feet, makes for a cool space.

Then after a few minutes you’re herded back into the elevators for the ascent up to the top.

The viewing floor is on 86, and already the size of the tower has shrunk from its base. It’s barely larger than your average sized house. The views, of course, are better. It’s not entirely open, so you can’t walk around the windows for 360 degrees, but you can see out each side. The city stretches out in all directions.

Then, after all too brief of a time, you’re corralled back into the elevators for the decent back to Earth.

Check out the gallery for all the pictures and more details about the Towers.

A note about height
I’m a bit of a building nerd, and when the Petronas Towers took the “tallest building” crown from the formerly-called Sears Tower, I scoffed. Petronas has 88 floors. The Sears Willis Tower has 108, the World Trade Center had two more. Because the pointy bits at the top of Petronas aren’t antennas — instead, they’re integral to the design — the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (yes, there’s a group that regulates these things), says the Petronas towers are taller. Harumph. Still, they’re really tall and way cooler looking than the black Lego bricks of the Wills.

Of course, this is all moot as the Burj Khalifa has 163 floors and is more than a half-mile tall.

If you’re in the area…
Kuala Lumpur is an interesting city, and definitely a rapidly growing one. As you’ll see in one of the slides, there are plans for several other very tall buildings in the area around the Petronas Towers. I found nearby Singapore to be more interesting, honestly, but since they’re so close, you could certainly do both on the same trip.


Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he’s written on topics like why all HDMI cables are the same, LED LCD vs. plasma, active versus passive 3D, and more. He’s also done photo tours of Hobbiton, Abbey Road Studios, Meridian Audio, and BW. You can send him a message on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff or Google+.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/-nAzSaQeI7I/

Trapped in the Time Travel Lab: My puzzling Sunday

If this doesn’t make you feel competitive, it’s like I don’t even know you anymore.


(Credit:
Real Escape Game in the U.S/SCRAP Entertainment)

“You are trapped in the mysterious laboratory, where it has been said, they study time travel. The door is closed. A lot of hidden clues await you. You wonder if they were able to make time travelling true…” These words on a poster beckon you in to a frantic puzzle-solving team experience that can lead, as it did in my case, to your untimely demise.

Or you might…Escape from the Time Travel Lab.

SCRAP Entertainment’s first Real Escape Game was held in Japan, and nowadays the company is putting on events in San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles. In addition to the basic Mysterious Room, people have escaped from the Magic Show, the Werewolf Village, and other sticky scenarios. There are also Real Escape Game branches in Singapore, Taiwan, and China, plus there seem to be at least four live-escape game companies operating in the UK, so I’m going to call this a worldwide phenomenon. If the rest of this sounds fun to you, you may be able to find something similar nearby.

On the particular Sunday on which I fell into a rift in time and space, never to be seen again, my team of six assembled in a cute tea shop below the venue, a nice, clean spot in San Francisco’s Japantown that’s probably normally used for art installations or something.

The signs warn you to use the restroom before the game starts, since you will literally be locked in the Lab for the next hour. (As it turns out, there’s a “lab technician” in the room with you the whole time, so it’s not as dramatic as the waiver makes it sound, but the game timer’s not going to pause while you take a bathroom break, so it is something to think about!)

“Detective-style clothes might help to sharpen your mind,” the Web site said, but also, “refrain from wearing heels,” so I squashed my first impulse of Victoriana. Clearly we’d need to be physically active to some degree. In Web-based room escape games, you need to examine everything, from the undersides of furniture to the tops of light fixtures. I settled for a Nancy Drew T-shirt, sneakers, and my lucky magnifying glass.

As I’d suspected, I didn’t actually get to use the lens: you’re not allowed to use any items you bring in. Including multitools, the cheerful young MC told us firmly. (“Pens and paper?!” “They’ll be provided in the room.”) We hung our jackets on a rack outside, but there was a clear, closed bin inside the room where we could store our purses and bags, thus removing most worries about credit cards going missing.

my lucky magnifying glass

It’s my lucky magnifying glass because it’s pretty, all right? Not because it saved us from wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey destruction, because it didn’t.


(Credit:
Toni Thompson)

The game is played in groups of 11, so we were thrown in with 5 very nice strangers. Going around the room, we introduced ourselves and described our experience with these types of games, and time travel in general. My aunt (she of the Thor socks) claimed to be from the year 2038. Her friend obligingly said he had come to our time in pursuit of her. Another friend revealed that he’d been time traveling at a rate of roughly 1 minute per minute for…quite some time now. The MC’s face: “So this should go well.”

The opening briefing laid out some parameters of the game, though it didn’t ultimately keep us from being lost in an eternal temporospatial limbo. The directions were clear as to, for example, what objects in the room we could and couldn’t disassemble. (Did reading those words make you want to click over to buy tickets? Then we’re on the same page.)

When we finally walked into the room, it was a bit like living out my favorite scene in “Apollo 13,” when they put the engineers in a conference room and tell them they have to save the day by making THIS fit into THIS using only THESE PIECES. Except with more of a festive air, though we certainly all got pretty excited as our time ran out and our impending doom, um, impended. I wasn’t the only one with shaking hands.

What’s funny is, I’d assumed that with the set of experienced puzzle-solving brains I’d brought with me on my team, we’d definitely win unless the puzzles were badly designed. I’d also suspected I’d be dead weight in the group, based on past games parties with most of these people. Neither of these turned out to be correct. I personally solved and helped solve several puzzles (to be honest, they weren’t hard). And my group — you may have picked up on this from foreshadowing — DID NOT escape from the Time Travel Lab! We definitely could have…maybe in about another 10 minutes…but we did not.

As the game’s materials point out, there’s no shame in that. Still, it’s not WINNING, is it?

We failed to escape from the Time Travel Lab!

This pic does not contain my aunt, who was voluntarily erased from this corner of history. Probably afraid they’ll track her from 2038.


(Credit:
Real Escape Game in the U.S/SCRAP Entertainment)

Overall it wasn’t quite what I was expecting — I’d thought there’d at least be some in-story justification for all the puzzles, and instead they appeared mostly arbitrary. But even though the puzzles weren’t hard and yet we didn’t come that close to winning, my team still walked out (insofar as you can walk out after having fallen into a spacetime anomaly never to return) feeling like the challenge was fair. That seems like good game design. Here’s a little advice, none of which I think counts as spoilers:

1. The comfortable-shoe requirement was a good one. Most of the puzzles are mental, but in addition to the restrictions listed on the site, at least one person in your group should be able and willing to get down on the floor.

2. Unless you bring enough people to fill all the game slots (the number varies by scenario), you’ll be thrown in with strangers, but that’s OK. Anyone who thought this sounded fun and showed up to try it is probably pretty rad, so the group meshes a lot faster than you’d think.

3. Organization is key. Every minute counts, the setting can be a bit overwhelming, and it helps to have someone keeping track of the overall effort. (Corollary: Communication is also key, so if your friends hate being hurried or get snappish in a crisis, it may be best to leave them at home with your high heels and multitool.)

Escape from the Time Travel Lab poster
(Credit:
Real Escape Game in the U.S/SCRAP Entertainment)

I guess that’s all I can say without ruining it. It was definitely worth the ticket price; I live in San Francisco so I don’t have to judge whether it was worth the drive as well. Still, we immediately started looking into getting tickets for Escape from the Haunted Ship. It takes place aboard the Queen Mary! The actual Queen Mary, down in Long Beach.

Unfortunately, the dates for Haunted Ship didn’t work out for us. And my team vetoed the upcoming Escape from the Space Station (before your air runs out) as “too scary.” My aunt’s hoping for other local venues, such as…Alcatraz.

Alcatraz! Think it over, Real Escape Game people! Minus the swimming!

In the meanwhile, if you know of any other interesting types of puzzle-based events, please tell me about them in the comments below at @pages_and_pages. (Shout-out: I found out about Real Escape Game via @sosh, the not-personalized Twitter feed of a personalized event-recommendation service based in some major US cities.) I’ll leave my future self some notes on the calendar!

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/uO2QNd_Qf-4/

Digging for Atari’s ‘corporate shame,’ the buried E.T. games

An original E.T. game cartridge, signed by the lead designer. Millions were made, and most of them were buried in a New Mexico landfill after the game was deemed one of the worst ever.


(Credit:
Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

AUSTIN, Texas — E.T. wants to go home. But first there will have to be a massive excavation of a city’s garbage dump.

As is part of video-game industry lore, in 1983 Atari ran screaming from its ill-advised E.T. game and hastily and quietly buried millions of cartridges. Somewhere. No one was quite sure where.

It turns out the where was Alamgordo, N.M., and almost certainly deep in the giant city garbage dump. Last year, a team of filmmakers announced they’re working on a documentary about the infamous E.T. game disaster — which cost Atari $500 million and drove it into financial ruin. And at
South by Southwest this week, they talked at length about the project and their plans to excavate the games and make their movie.

The filmmakers behind the movie about the excavation of the infamous E.T. game cartridges make a point about why they were buried.


(Credit:
Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

The history of Atari’s disaster is pretty well known. In 1983, on the heels of the unbelievable success of Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.,” the suits at Atari ordered a game version. Pronto. They wanted it to hit shelves in six weeks. In an industry where quality mainstream games usually took months, this was a tall order. The result? An effort generally thought to be one of the worst games in history — shallow, ugly, boring. It sold 1.5 million units immediately because of the movie’s success, but then sales ground to a full-stop halt.

Flash forward 30 years and the folks at Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment got together to make a movie about this legend. They got Microsoft on board to distribute it as part of its Xbox film series, and they were off for New Mexico.

At SXSW, Johnathan Chinn, co-president and producer at Lightbox, and Mike Burns, CEO of Fuel Entertainment, explained where they’re at with things. For one, they’re almost certain the games are buried in the city dump in Alamogordo. But even if that turns out to be true, it’s a massive facility, and it will not be a simple matter of digging one hole and declaring victory. The dig could take time, they said, and they’ll want help. They hope that people will show up to assist and, perhaps, cheer them on.

Most likely, they’ll start the excavation — with the permission of the dump, of course — sometime this spring. Perhaps as early as April. Assuming they find the cartridges in short order, the dig could be over quickly. But it could also drag on. Regardless, the movie itself is about much more than just the creation of the video game and its subsequent tarnished history. Instead, the filmmakers said, they realized there was an opportunity to wrap that story around a larger tale of Atari’s rise and fall. From being a company founded by the larger-than-life Nolan Bushnell, which hired the young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, to one whose name and intellectual property has been sold and bought and dispensed with and rescued time and time again.

At the heart of that roller-coaster ride, though, is the misguided attempt to cash in on Spielberg’s theatrical triumph. “My sense is that this is a story of corporate shame,” Chinn said. “They just wanted it to go away, but here we are making a film about it. The moral of the story is: Don’t just bury your mistakes.”

Cartridges

While there will be a lot about Atari in the film, the real drawing card will be the hunt for the buried games. A good bit of that could be the film production team’s many trips to and time spent in and around Alamogordo. “I did speak to a bunch of witnesses in Alamogordo, who were kids in 1983,” Chinn recalled, “who claimed that they snuck into the landfill and stole cartridges that were totally playable. Other people, including people at Atari, claimed that there wasn’t anything interesting there.”

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/9c3cLyFMsZE/

Trapped in the Time Travel Lab: My Sunday of terror

If this doesn’t make you feel competitive, it’s like I don’t even know you anymore.


(Credit:
Real Escape Game in the U.S/SCRAP Entertainment)

“You are trapped in the mysterious laboratory, where it has been said, they study time travel. The door is closed. A lot of hidden clues await you. You wonder if they were able to make time travelling true…” These words on a poster beckon you in to a frantic puzzle-solving team experience that can lead, as it did in my case, to your untimely demise.

Or you might…Escape from the Time Travel Lab.

SCRAP Entertainment’s first Real Escape Game was held in Japan, and nowadays the company is putting on events in San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles. In addition to the basic Mysterious Room, people have escaped from the Magic Show, the Werewolf Village, and other sticky scenarios. There are also Real Escape Game branches in Singapore, Taiwan, and China, plus there seem to be at least four live-escape game companies operating in the UK, so I’m going to call this a worldwide phenomenon. If the rest of this sounds fun to you, you may be able to find something similar nearby.

On the particular Sunday on which I fell into a rift in time and space, never to be seen again, my team of six assembled in a cute tea shop below the venue, a nice, clean spot in San Francisco’s Japantown that’s probably normally used for art installations or something.

The signs warn you to use the restroom before the game starts, since you will literally be locked in the Lab for the next hour. (As it turns out, there’s a “lab technician” in the room with you the whole time, so it’s not as dramatic as the waiver makes it sound, but the game timer’s not going to pause while you take a bathroom break, so it is something to think about!)

“Detective-style clothes might help to sharpen your mind,” the Web site said, but also, “refrain from wearing heels,” so I squashed my first impulse of Victoriana. Clearly we’d need to be physically active to some degree. In Web-based room escape games, you need to examine everything, from the undersides of furniture to the tops of light fixtures. I settled for a Nancy Drew T-shirt, sneakers, and my lucky magnifying glass.

my lucky magnifying glass

It’s my lucky magnifying glass because it’s pretty, all right? Not because it saved us from wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey destruction, because it didn’t.


(Credit:
Toni Thompson)

As I’d suspected, I didn’t actually get to use the lens: you’re not allowed to use any items you bring in. Including multitools, the cheerful young MC told us firmly. (“Pens and paper?!” “They’ll be provided in the room.”) We hung our jackets on a rack outside, but there was a clear, closed bin inside the room where we could store our purses and bags, thus removing most worries about credit cards going missing.

The game is played in groups of 11, so we were thrown in with 5 very nice strangers. Going around the room, we introduced ourselves and described our experience with these types of games — and time travel in general. My aunt (she of the Thor socks) claimed to be from the year 2038. Her friend obligingly said he had come to our time in pursuit of her. Another friend revealed that he’d been time traveling at a rate of roughly 1 minute per minute for…quite some time now. The MC’s face: “So this should go well.”

The opening briefing laid out some parameters of the game, though it didn’t ultimately keep us from being lost in an eternal temporospatial limbo. The directions were clear as to, for example, what objects in the room we could and couldn’t disassemble. (Did reading those words make you want to click over to buy tickets? Then we’re on the same page.)

When we finally walked into the room, it was a bit like living out my favorite scene in “Apollo 13,” when they put the engineers in a conference room and tell them they have to save the day by making THIS fit into THIS using only THESE PIECES. Except with more of a festive air, though we certainly all got pretty excited as our time ran out and our impending doom, um, impended. I wasn’t the only one with shaking hands.

What’s funny is, I’d assumed that with the set of experienced puzzle-solving brains I’d brought with me on my team, we’d definitely win unless the puzzles were badly designed. I’d also suspected I’d be dead weight in the group, based on past games parties with most of these people. Neither of these turned out to be correct. I solved and helped solve several puzzles (to be honest, they weren’t hard), but my group — you may have picked up on this from foreshadowing — DID NOT escape from the Time Travel Lab! We definitely could have…maybe in about another 10 minutes…but we did not.

As the game’s materials point out, there’s no shame in that. Still, it’s not WINNING, is it?

We failed to escape from the Time Travel Lab!

This pic does not contain my aunt, who was voluntarily erased from this corner of history. Probably afraid they’ll track her from 2038.


(Credit:
Real Escape Game in the U.S/SCRAP Entertainment)

Overall it wasn’t quite what I was expecting — I’d thought there’d at least be some in-story justification for all the puzzles, and instead they appeared mostly arbitrary. But even though the puzzles weren’t hard and yet we didn’t come that close to winning, my team still walked out (insofar as you can walk out after having fallen into a spacetime anomaly never to return) feeling like the challenge was fair. That seems like good game design. Here’s a little advice, none of which I think counts as spoilers:

1. The comfortable-shoe requirement was a good one. Most of the puzzles are mental, but in addition to the restrictions listed on the site, at least one person in your group should be able and willing to get down on the floor.

2. Unless you bring enough people to fill all the game slots (the number varies by scenario), you’ll be thrown in with strangers, but that’s OK. Anyone who thought this sounded fun and showed up to try it is probably pretty rad, so the group meshes a lot faster than you’d think.

3. Organization is key. Every minute counts, the setting can be a bit overwhelming, and it helps to have someone keeping track of the overall effort. (Corollary: Communication is also key, so if your friends hate being hurried or get snappish in a crisis, it may be best to leave them at home with your high heels and multitool.)

Escape from the Time Travel Lab poster
(Credit:
Real Escape Game in the U.S/SCRAP Entertainment)

I guess that’s all I can say without ruining it. It was definitely worth the ticket price; I live in San Francisco so I don’t have to judge whether it was worth the drive as well. Still, we immediately started looking into getting tickets for Escape from the Haunted Ship….It takes place aboard the Queen Mary! The actual Queen Mary, down in Long Beach.

Unfortunately, the dates for Haunted Ship didn’t work out for us. And my team vetoed the upcoming Escape from the Space Station (before your air runs out!) as “too scary.” My aunt’s hoping for other local venues, such as…Alcatraz.

Alcatraz! Think it over, Real Escape Game people! Minus the swimming!

In the meanwhile, if you know of any other interesting types of puzzle-based events, please tell me about them in the comments below. (Shout-out: I found out about Real Escape Game via @sosh, the not-personalized Twitter feed of a personalized event-recommendation service based in some major US cities.) I’ll leave my future self some notes on the calendar!

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/v4n5brGIsTQ/

Wampa-head wall trophy shows off Jedi craft skills

February 20th, 2014 No comments

Wampa head on display

This will probably terrify your pets.


(Credit:
Our Nerd Home)

Wampas are ill-tempered beasts. They enjoy hanging out in ice caves on Hoth and attempting to eat young Jedi. They can be defeated if you are quick on your feet (or while dangling upside-down) and have mastered at least the basic skills of using the Force. Once the wampa is overcome, its head can be used as a nice decoration above your fireplace.

Our Nerd Home, a site for nerdy home projects, put together a tutorial for a DIY wall-mounted wampa-head trophy using just $20 of material. Thankfully, it doesn’t involve actually traveling to Hoth and dismembering a wampa.

The head is crafted from cardboard boxes, newspaper, tape, paper towels, flour, craft glue, and (of course) white fake fur. The crafters took a paper-mache approach, which keeps both the cost and the weight down. The horns are built from rolled-up paper grocery bags covered in paper mache.

The white fake fur is what really makes the piece sing (or growl). It manages to look both pettable and frightening at the same time. If you had any doubt the fictional creature could pull your limbs off, you only have to look at the funky yellow teeth to be assured of its danger.

If the new movies venture into Luke Skywalker’s personal home, I certainly hope one of these wampa heads is visible in the background, hanging menacingly on the wall.

Wampa DIY head

Make your house look like Hoth.


(Credit:
Our Nerd Home)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/UoAzfbDjE_E/

Edward Snowden action figure makes for toy whistle-blower

February 18th, 2014 No comments

Edward Snowden action figure

The Edward Snowden action figure: glasses included.


(Credit:
thatsmyface.com)

Edward Snowden, the famed NSA whistle-blower, already has been cast as the hero in a video game that has him collecting sensitive information while avoiding government capture. Now, he can be the hero of more tactile game play with his arrival in the form of an action figure from thatsmyface.com.

The action figure goes for $99 and comes with a 12-inch articulated body (movable joints) in your choice of clothes. Options include a brown military outfit, a casual set with jeans and a t-shirt, a business suit, or an Indiana Jones get-up complete with a whip and messenger bag. For obvious reasons, you should order the Indiana Jones version if you’re going to buy this thing.

If you have a 12-inch, headless action figure laying around, then you can order just the interchangeable head for $60. The made-to-order head is crafted from resin.

Thatsmyface.com says it will donate all proceeds from the action figure’s sale to the Freedom of the Press Foundation. A disclaimer notes that neither the foundation nor Edward Snowden is involved with or endorsing the action figure.

The Edward Snowden action figure joins a list of unlikely toy heroes, including Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. The best part probably comes when you start to mix your Snowden figure in with your “Star Wars” toys. Snowden could then be involved with exposing Darth Vader’s top-secret spying efforts on board the Death Star, which would be totally amazing.

Edward Snowden action figure with laptop

Edward Snowden works a toy laptop.


(Credit:
thatsmyface.com)

(Via Boing Boing)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/1UpSPXJk0Yo/