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Game Day: Newton – MacStories

Casual puzzle games that you can pick up and play for a few minutes are a great way to kill time when youre bored. Since the earliest days of the App Store, games have taken advantage of the iPhones sensors to create puzzles with realistic physics. Newton, by Binary Games, is a fun and challenging addition to the genre with unique mechanics and gameplay that Ive enjoyed playing this week.

The goal in Newton is to maneuver a ball through a maze and into a hole avoiding obstacles along the way. What makes Newton unique, is its playing field and obstacles. Each puzzle is circular. To navigate the ball to the goal you rotate the puzzle by swiping along its edges like youre turning a knob.

The games 60 levels start out easy to acquaint you with the mechanics but soon introduce obstacles that make Newton tougher. The first obstacle introduced is spikes that shatter your ball if you collide with them. Later levels add blocks that slide through the puzzle in response to gravity, spiky balls, rotating blades, switches that trigger obstacles, and more. Each new obstacle adds another dimension that requires different strategies. The YouTube trailer below does an excellent job demonstrating the interaction among the games many elements.

Newton requires thought, concentration, and planning to make it through each puzzle. At the same time, there is a simplicity to its reliance on gravity that makes it immediately intuitive so there isnt a steep learning curve. The puzzles are also self-contained and short, which makes Newton a great choice for commuters, people stuck in waiting rooms, and anytime youre bored and have a few idle minutes to play.

Newton is available on the App Store.

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Game Day: Newton – MacStories

Explore ancient ruins and solve clever puzzles in After the End: Forsaken Destiny – Macworld

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a gameYou Should Play.

I wasnt even looking for new games on the App Store when the trailer for After the End: Forsaken Destiny caught my eye. Despite its clunky, somewhat clich title, the game immediately piqued my interest with its smooth, perspective-based puzzles, constantly-evolving landscapes, and low-poly artistic style thats reminiscent of an all-time favorite, Monument Valley.

After the End: Forsaken Destiny is a linear adventure puzzle game that follows the parallel journeys of two little black horned creaturesa father and sonwho are traveling the same path at different times. You play as both the father and the son at different points in the game, sometimes swapping roles mid-level.

The father and son are traveling at different times, but occasionally their paths will intertwine.

In order to progress through the game youll need to forge a path by solving puzzlesyoull flip switches, pull levers, and look at problems from all angles, while simultaneously dodging enemies and avoiding dangerous obstacles.

The game features classic obstacles, like moving walls and spikes.

After the End: Forsaken Destiny is a premium title, but its well worth the $4 price tag. It has beautiful graphics and an immersive soundtrack that will make you feel like youre wandering through a dream. The puzzles are well-crafted and the game has a nice, easy pacenothing is too difficult, but you wont feel like youre breezing through them thanks to the games minimal direction. If you enjoy similarly evocative solo-adventure games like Monument Valley and Lumino City, heres why you need to check this one out:

Its a mash-up of everything you love: Ill be honestAfter the End: Forsaken Destiny isnt wholly original. The game clearly takes style cues from other popular games, including Monument Valley and the 2012 PlayStation 3 game Journey.

Okay, its actually surprisingly similar to Journey: This game also takes place in a sun-drenched desert studded with ancient ruins and mysterious geometric symbols; it also features a wordless, poignant sound-based storyline; and the main characters even have fluttering scraps of fabric that look a heck of a lot like the Journey characters magic scarf. Like Monument Valley, After the End: Forsaken Destiny features puzzles that depend on perspective and dynamism in the landscapethough its not quite Monument Valleys Escher-esque experience.

But this isnt a bad thing. After the End: Forsaken Destiny may have taken notes from these (and other) games, but the result is an informed, well-made puzzle game with a unique identity. The game captures the vastness of Journey and the cleverness of Monument Valley and combines the two with subtle, yet intentional, sense of direction.

Its beautiful and immersive: Most mobile games arent very immersive, and they arent trying to bedevelopers know youre playing on a 4.7-inch screen while youre waiting in line at Starbucks. The good news is that this makes the truly immersive mobile games (like this one!) stand out even more.

Its easy to fall in love with After the End: Forsaken Destinys beautiful graphics and detailed, dynamic landscapes and backgrounds. The game is rendered in an artistically low-poly style, which allows for smooth, high-quality movement and offers the same minimalist retro charm as other similarly-rendered games like Monument Valley. The smoothness of the graphics is important because one of After the End: Forsaken Destinys primary game mechanics is the ability to rotate the camera 360 degrees around your character for puzzle solving and path-finding.

The game lets you rotate your camera 360 degrees around your character so you can see the puzzles and pathways from different angles.

Whats especially impressive about this games graphics is the detailed background and visual depth in each landscape. As you sweep your camera around your character, youll see an accurate representation of future pathseven those beyond any checkpoints youve yet to reach. These visual details arent really necessaryyoud still get a great experience if there was a veil beyond each checkpointbut they do make the world appear impossibly vast and unexplored.

The games landscapes are impressively immersive.

The game also features a haunting, mesmerizing soundtrack, complete with sound-based puzzles and hints throughoutits definitely a headphones-on kind of title.

Theres something for everyone: While most puzzle games rely on one type of puzzlefor example, Monument Valley plays with spatial twists, yet Spry Fox is extremely dedicated to combining objectsAfter the End: Forsaken Destiny serves up a mix of puzzles. The game starts out with perspective puzzles (youll need to flip switches and rotate the camera to open up paths and collect artifacts), but quickly moves on to puzzles that require you to play with timing, obstacles, and musical cues. Halfway through the game youll have to fight a boss-type character by tossing rocks at it while dodging spikes and seeking shelter from powerful fans that will blow you off the platform and into a bottomless chasm.

This isnt just a puzzle gamehere the character fights a boss while dodging spiked walls and industrial fans.

After the End: Forsaken Destiny doesnt offer a ton of direction. Youll get a couple of tips when a new puzzle pops up, but otherwise youre mostly left to fend for yourself. Occasionally a question mark icon will appear in the upper left corner of your screen, and if you tap on it the game will point you toward your destinationbut wont give you any info on how youre meant to get there.

The developers occasionally throw you a tip, but for the most part youll just need to figure it out.

While the main goal of the game is to move forward through each level, theres more to the game than just completing each chapter. Throughout the world youll see collectible artifactsglowing cubes that, when collected, combine to make a series of statues. You dont have to collect these cubes to get through the game, but you will need those statues to complete the final level. Collecting the statue parts gets very tricky as the game progresses, as the pieces are tucked away in areas that are increasingly difficult to access (or even find). But its kind of nice that the game offers no hints for these optional statue pieces, because youll feel particularly accomplished when you finally manage to grab them.

Developer:Nexon M Platform:iOS(iPhone and iPad) Price:$4

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Explore ancient ruins and solve clever puzzles in After the End: Forsaken Destiny – Macworld

Roundup: The best escape room games for a breakout party – Ars Technica

Enlarge / Some typical escape room componentsplus a “Chrono Decoder”from Escape Room: The Game.

Spinmaster

I don’t know CPR. I can’t tie a tourniquet. But I can work my way out of a locked, puzzle-stuffed room in 60 minutes or less.

I’ve been honing this vital skill over the last year as the current mania for physical “escape rooms” has made its way to the tabletop. In an escape room, a team of players works together to solve codes and puzzles that will eventually provide a means of escape. Usually this requires organizing a group, traveling to a physical location, and paying a significant per-person fee.

The tabletop versions are cheaper, of course, but our testing found that they are generally high-quality productions that deliver a good puzzle-solving experience. And because they lack the long rules explanations common to many strategy games, they can appeal even to families and non-gamers.

Want to host an escape room evening of your own? Here’s our look at five leading titles. (We’ll try to avoid spoilers by avoiding talk of any specific puzzles.)

Some escape room games are simply collections of linked puzzlesjust get out of the room, quick!rather than narrative experiences. (The Unlock! series, for instance, has almost no story; the adventures and little setup and simply come to an abrupt end when you solve the final puzzle.) But ThinkFun’s “Escape the Room” series layers some nice narrative icing drizzled across its delicious puzzle cake. If you want a story-driven experience, these are terrific choices.

The series so far consists of two games, Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor and Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat. Both feature a colored code wheel for solving puzzlesline up the right colors and symbols to see if you’ve solved a particular puzzle correctly. Each adventure is setup with a character- and location-driven introduction, and puzzles often advance the plot by providing notes, letters, lab diaries, etc. Winning (or losing) the game also results in a narrative conclusion. By the time you’re done, you feel like a real adventure has unfolded.

The one possible downside to the series is its level of difficulty. Stargazer’s Manor was extremely easy; played in a mixed group of kids and adults, the adults backed off from engaging with the puzzles because they were too often solvable by the kids alone. Though well done, the game felt too easythough it might work with brand-new players. Because of this, I played Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat with my kids rather than with other adultsbut the game stepped up the difficulty significantly and would have been terrific with a mixed group. (Finding an escape room game at just the right level for your play group is one of the challenges of the genre.)

The newest entry in the escape room craze comes courtesy of the biggest board game company in the world, Asmodee, which is known for high production values and strongly thematic designs. The company’s Space Cowboys unitpublisher of games like Splendor and T.I.M.E Storiesis producing the new Unlock! line, so expectations have been running high. After playing a short “sample” adventure and two full-length ones, however, I’m not sure that the Unlock! series quite achieves greatness.

As expected, the production values and graphic design work in the Unlock! adventures are excellent, though unlike the other games on this list, each adventure is literally just a deck of cards. These cards can represent objects, machines, codes, or “other” items (rooms, penalties, obstacles). Each card is numbered, and new cards are revealed from the deck whenever its numbers appears on some other visible card.

The name of the game here is manipulation. Red and blue object cards can be combined; join the right pair, add up their card numbers, and you can then reveal that card number from the deck. Green machine cards can be manipulated through adding various numbers (at which point they often become red cards which can be joined with other blue cards). Yellow code cards require you to enter a four-digit code into the accompanying digital app. So far, so good.

Unlock! also features a “hidden pictures” element. Sometimes, the numbers and letters of unrevealed cards are hidden on revealed cardswritten in tiny or unusual fonts in hard-to-read color schemes. Finding them doesn’t require the puzzle-solving part of your brain; it requires you to squint very closely and in good light at small pictures. And these hidden elementsare easy to missby designwhich means that you and your friends might sit at the table for ten minutes, trying to puzzle out what to do based on the collection of revealed cards, only to find that you don’t even have one of the cards you need because you didn’t spot the number. This is frustrating, not fun.

Card-driven puzzles from the Unlock! series.

Asmodee

Because the system limits itself to certain kinds of cards, the puzzles feel a bit more mechanical than in other escape room games. Part of this feel might also be due to the fact that the narrative is essentially nonexistent. Each adventure starts with a paragraph of throwaway text and ends by entering a final door code into the app; there’s little attempt to tell a story or set up a compelling situation beyond, “You’re locked in a room! Find a way out!”

If you want to try Unlock! for yourself, Asmodee has made a short print-and-play scenario available for download.

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Roundup: The best escape room games for a breakout party – Ars Technica

Top apps: Games for Kids – Post-Bulletin

The following games for kids encourage artistry, language skills, motor skills and imagination.

Alphabet Puzzles Games Kids & Toddlers free puzzle (Free) This app uses sound cues and visuals to help your child complete puzzles while learning the alphabet. (Mobilewalla Score: 96/100)

Coloring book: games for kids boys & girls free 1+ (Free) This app contains a coloring book and a screen on which kids can draw their own pictures. (Score: 94/100)

Baby Flash Cards Games & Kids Animal Sounds Free (Free) Toddlers will love this app, which teaches them about animals and vehicles using sounds, words and images. (Score: 93/100)

Little Kitten – My Favorite Cat (Free) No room for a kitten? Get your young child this virtual one to start. Little Kitten is adorable and loves to play with your kids. (Score: 91/100)

Little Dentist – kids games & game for kids (Free) Your child can have fun being the dentist with Little Dentist — even if he or she is afraid to go to one him- or herself. (Score: 85/100)

Rooplay (Free and Premium) A large quantity of engaging games are available, free, for kids with Rooplay; the whole catalog of 500 games comes with a subscription. (Mobilewalla Score: 94/100)

Toddler Kids Puzzles PUZZINGO (Free)* This app was designed to help toddlers (including special-needs kids) learn words and increase their dexterity. (Score: 93/100)

Preschool basic skills, shapes (Free) Your child can use this app to learn shapes, colors and numbers in English, Spanish, French and Italian. (Score: 91/100)

Toddler Animal Sounds (Free)* The developers of this app encourage you to use it with your young children to help them learn about animals and the sounds they make. (Score: 85/100)

My Town : Museum ($2.99)* Kids can explore beloved themes with this virtual museum, including space, dinosaurs, jousting knights and mummies. (Score: To new to rate)

* Available on both platforms.

Top apps are ranked by Mobilewalla, a search and discovery engine using technology to rank apps to help consumers navigate the mobile application marketplace.

Continued here:
Top apps: Games for Kids – Post-Bulletin

What Rime does better than anyone else, and how it led to me crying in a busy caf – GamesRadar

I found myself crying in the middle of a crowded cafe the other day. Id been trying to explain Rime to my girlfriend, and in summoning its final scenes I inadvertently hit a wellspring of lachrymosity. The look of polite bemusement she gave me matched my own utter surprise: I was physically weeping over a puzzle game, for goodness sake. In the two years prior, shed seen me cry exactly twice: once for good reason, and a second time towards the end of Titanic when the strings and images of people trapped in steerage got a bit too much. And now, suddenly, this. Rime is a powerful game.

Its also a very unusual, slow-burning, and I think, a misunderstood game. For the first two hours, a considerable passage of play, it runs the risk of losing the player completely by offering only occasional prosaic puzzles to complement its painterly Mediterranean looks. Without those clear blue skies, impossibly tall whitewashed towers, Salvador Dali landscapes and the growing sense of enigma all those elements create as you skip and leap around in them, there wouldnt be much to entice you further forwards. Certainly in my case, early on I was basically playing because it looked nice, and because the puzzles seem to be gradually building in complexity.

But something else is happening during that phase, too. Developer Tequila Works is deftly letting you know that all the symbolism in Rimes visual language isnt just art for arts sake. The dark figure. The fox. Those looming towers. The cape… Its all going somewhere. This is where Rime sets itself apart from the predominant school of thought in modern game storytelling, by simply trusting that youll notice and care about those motifs rather than making them explode or kiss each other in front of a forced camera.

Its a brave approach, because in Rime the story is the game. Hunting for lore tidbits in Dark Souls is an enjoyable diversion, but its far from the focus – theres always another oversized medieval knight to swear at just around the corner. Conversely, Rime exists to tell its story first and foremost. Its puzzles, really, exist to propel you along that story.

Environmental storytelling is quite literally as old as the hills, of course, and Im not suggesting Rimes the first video game to implement it. Dishonored 2 and What Became of Edith Finch are both fine recent examples of environmental storytelling. Closer to home theres Portal, a similarly wonderful puzzle/adventure game which says a lot about Rime by comparison. Valve uses narrative in Portal as connective tissue between puzzles which, once again, are the main attraction. They do so in a way that completely shatters expectations and transcends the trad puzzle game experience completely – but theres never any confusion as to why the game exists. Its so you can shoot portals into walls, and at floors, and do impossible jumps. Rime is the polar opposite: the puzzles exist only to entice the player further, and to tell the story.

But that still doesnt blow the dust away completely and expose Rimes singular quality. To do that, I must call upon M. Night Shyamalan. Please welcome him to the stage.

Shyamalans 2002 thriller Signs weaves a series of unusual character traits and unlikely happenstances into its main arc about a rural family under siege from an unknown invader, and as the movie progresses youre given to understand that theyll all become vitally important in the final acts grand reveal. 15 years on, and knowing Signs – knowing Shyamalan – cinephiles are now once bitten, twice shy about that technique and the likelihood that the grand reveal will be disappointingly on-the-nose, the unusual traits and unlikely happenstances too contrived.

Rime is not Signs, but there are parallels. It doesnt exist simply to shock you with a twist ending, but it does sew a lot of seeds early that dont come to fruition until the games almost over. And it certainly doesnt fall flat when it reveals itself, but by placing such enormous emphasis on its conclusion it runs the same risk Signs did. Thanks, M. Knight – youre dismissed.

With that first couple of subdued hours behind it, Rime finds a more confident pacing. Puzzles do grow in complexity, but they peak relatively early and never really reach that note-scribbling, alt-tabbing convolution of, say, Fez, or The Witness. The latter is an important distinction, actually: both games want to tell their story using their surroundings, but Jonathan Blow is very clear that the puzzles themselves are centre stage.

What Rime does instead is fold its symbolic elements increasingly into its puzzles, demanding strange, abstract rituals to be performed with light and darkness, and delighting in creating huge diversions. If there was any danger of leaving you unsatisfied with a lower difficulty level, its sidestepped in those moments you realise the door youre now walking through is the one you couldnt get past an hour ago.

The effect that has, I think, particularly for the brazenly stupid such as myself, is that it allows more brainpower for considering the surroundings. The synapses that would ordinarily in the genre be preoccupied with setting clock faces in a particular order to move water through some pipes, or some such Machiavellian nightmare, are freed up in Rime to keep asking the big questions: what is this island, and why am I on it? Who is the cloaked figure? Can I trust the fox? Are those moaning orbs on spindly legs sentient? The answers arent forthcoming, of course, but youre given plenty of time and space to ponder them.

Rime to keep asking the big questions: what is this island, and why am I on it? Who is the cloaked figure? Can I trust the fox?

In that way, its more like a walking sim played at running speed. Walking sims are, after all, games about the absence of something, and the search for meaning in that absence. Their imposed meditative pacing allows for a keener eye on the surrounding world and forces the narrative into sharper focus. Its just that walking sims usually dont give you much to do while the dour voiceover plays.

What if Rime isnt an adventure game, then, or even a puzzle game, but an extension of the walking sim which solves the genres problem of passivity? Theres no voiceover here, but that only serves as a strength: now the environment does all the talking.

Ive spent this whole time trying not to spoil the ending for you, and Ill mention it only in the broadest terms now: only after finishing Rime does it become clear that Tequila Works was absolutely counting on you to see the game through to completion. What an unusual and brave stance for a game developer. And what a shame it would be if the game wasnt rewarded for it.

Rime finds a way to tell you a story in a way that few have attempted and almost none have successfully realised, and it might make you sob in public places afterwards. Goodness, Im welling up even now – play me out, Mr Shyamalan:

So ‘The Last Airbender’ ‘s philosophy and culture feels like a beautiful idea to me: That we inherently have connections to the elements and what they teach us, and to each other.

Read more:
What Rime does better than anyone else, and how it led to me crying in a busy caf – GamesRadar

Sex might boost brain health in old age: Study – Toronto Sun


Toronto Sun
Sex might boost brain health in old age: Study
Toronto Sun
Brain training is not merely brain games on your computer, said neuroscientist Alan Leshner, chairman of the National Academies committee. The committee isn't backing those costly computer-based programs. Indeed, the U.S. government fined one brain …

and more »

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Sex might boost brain health in old age: Study – Toronto Sun

Senior Center News: June 22 – The Wilton Bulletin

Senior center program director Liz Doty leads a studio knitting class second and fourth Tuesday of the month beginning at 1.

Ever wanted to learn how to knit? This summer you have that golden opportunity and right in your own backyard. Studio knitting, defined as come and do your own thing, takes place on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month beginning at 1 at the senior center. Its an opportunity to grab those needles and yarn and start creating something from scratch. Various articles talk about how knitting relieves stress, slows cognitive diseases, improves motor function, eases anxiety, or boosts your memory. This may well be the case since these claims are preceded by studies have shown Or the benefits of knitting may well be a result of the laughing and camaraderie generated by participating in a common activity. Whatever the case, youre welcome to give it a try at the senior center. Contact Lizabeth Doty at 203-834-6240 for a pre-knitting consultation.

Sharpen your road skills and bring your driving knowledge up to date with the AAA Driver Improvement Program on Saturday, June 24, 8:30 to 12:30, at the Comstock Community Center. It is taught by Sgt. David Hartman of the Wilton Police Department.

Drivers 60 years and older who complete this course may qualify for a minimum 5% discount on their car insurance. Check with your insurer for details.

Register online by visiting aaa.com/driverimprovement or call AAA at 203-937-2595, ext. 8363 for more information.

Pharmacist Diane Corba will present a skin cancer prevention talk on Tuesday, June 27, 3 p.m., in the senior center lounge. Learn how to reduce your risk of skin cancer at any age by using good sun protection. The program is sponsored by Stay at Home in Wilton. It is free and open to the public.

Exercising your brain is a way to keep it sharp, but it cant do pushups. It can, however, play a game by solving riddles, trivia, and word puzzles.

Wilton Meadows Rehabilitation and Health Care Center and The Greens at Cannondale will treat seniors to lunch and brain games that are fun and an effective way to improve brain health. Thursday, June 29, noon, at the senior center. Call 203-834-6240 for reservations.

Friday, June 23, 10, Feldenkrais with Cathy Paine; 12, Bridge with Eleanor Mihailidis; 1:30, Intermediate Bridge with Michael Hess; 1:30, Free swim at the Wilton Y.

Monday, June 26, 10:30, Line Dance Fusion with Beatriz Araujo; 12, Movie; 1, Bridge.

Tuesday, June 27, 9:45, BeMoved with Phyllis Hirschfield; 10, Oil and Acrylics with Althea Ericksson; 11, Yoga with Denise OHearn; 12:30, Mah Jongg with Kay Chann; 1, Studio Knitting with Lizabeth Doty; 2, Chair Yoga at Ogden House; 3, Stay at Home in Wilton presents Connecticut pharmacist, Diane Corba, on skin cancer prevention.

Wednesday, June 28, 10, Open Bridge with Michael Hess; 10:30, Tai Chi with Joe Alampi; 1, Mah Jongg.

Thursday, June 29, 10, Yoga with Denise OHearn; 12, Lunch and Brain Games compliments of the Greens at Cannondale and Wilton Meadows at the Senior Center.

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Senior Center News: June 22 – The Wilton Bulletin

Library link – So Md News (subscription)

Twin Beaches branch

Summer Fun Performance will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 27, at the Northeast Community Center. Barry Louis Polisar will perform in a show that is best for ages 5 and up.

Summer storytime will be held from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, June 28, at the North Beach boardwalk behind the visitor center. These themed storytimes are for families with children of multiple ages and take place at different venues throughout the summer.

Summer STEAM will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28. There will be stories, activities and a snack.

MakePlayLearn will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 29. The library will provide Legos and other building materials.

Fairview branch

Summer Fun Performance will be held from 2 to 3 p.m.. Tuesday, June 27, at Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department. Barry Louis Polisar will perform in a show that is best for ages 5 and up.

Summer STEAM will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 29. There will be stories, activities and a snack.

Prince Frederick branch

On Pins and Needles will meet from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, June 23. Bring your quilting, needlework, knitting, crocheting or other project for an afternoon of conversation and shared creativity.

Garden Smarter will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 24. Participants will learn to plant a food forest that is modeled after a forest ecosystem.

Construction Zone will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 24. The family can explore the librarys building sets.

Monday Morning Fun will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Monday, June 26. The event includes dancing, stories, movies and fun.

Brain games will be held from 10 to 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 28. Games will include Scrabble and Mahjongg. Register by calling 410-535-0291.

MakePlayLearn will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 28. Children can drop by to play games, make crafts and art projects.

Summer Fun Performance will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 28. Barry Louis Polisar will perform in a show that is best for ages 5 and up.

Summer STEAM will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 29. There will be stories, activities and a snack.

On Pins and Needles will meet from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, June 30. Bring your quilting, needlework, knitting, crocheting or other project for an afternoon of conversation and shared creativity.

Southern branch

Flying Needles will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 27. This knitting, crocheting and portable crafting group is open to anyone wanting to join in and share talents, crafting time or learn a new skill.

Summer Fun Performance will be held from 10 to 10:45 a.m.. Wednesday, June 28, at the Patuxent Appeal Campus Appeal building. Barry Louis Polisar will perform in a show that is best for ages 5 and up.

Summer STEAM will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28. There will be stories, activities and a snack.

Song Circle/Jam Session will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28. Singer-musicians can trade songs and take turns in choosing and leading a group of musicians. A range of playing abilities and experience can be expected. The public is welcome to participate or observe.

MakePlayLearn will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, June 29. The library will provide Legos and other building materials.

Continue reading here:
Library link – So Md News (subscription)

An ideal match: The making of Star Wars: Puzzle Droids – Pocket Gamer.Biz

Star Warsis one of the biggest multimedia franchises in the world, so it’s no surprise that it also has a major presence in mobile gaming.

However, the mobile games based on the property have largely focused on the more core end of the sprectrum – Galaxy of Heroes is an RPG, Commander is a build-and-battle strategy game and Force Arenais a MOBA-style PvP effort.

That changed with the launch of Star Wars: Puzzle Droids, a matching puzzler with a narrative through-line, which couples the truly mainstream appeal of Star Wars with more approachable gameplay.

But how did the project come about and what are the challenges of building a match-three puzzler with a story that ties into such a beloved series?

To find out, PocketGamer.biz went behind the scenes on the development of Star Wars: Puzzle Droids with Producer Sean Coughlin.

PocketGamer.biz: How and when did the opportunity first arise for Genera Games to work on a matching puzzler with the Star Warslicense?

Sean Coughlin: Genera did a fantastic job with our teams other titles Frozen Free Fall and Maleficent Free Fall. Their high level of quality and expertise really drove the partnership forward.

Star Wars has massive appeal and we saw an opportunity to match Genera with this particular project due to their high production value mobile game studio.

Also, it doesnt hurt that the team members are huge Star Wars fans and were really passionate about the game project.

This not being a genre one would typically associate with the IP, how did you find an approach that feels satisfying to series fans?

Our goal was to reach a massive Star Wars fanbase, so we like to say that were aiming to bring Star Wars: Puzzle Droids into the hands of anyone who would wear a Star Warst-shirt.

While Star Wars is hugely known for great core gaming experiences, there arent any Star Wars mobile games that take a truly casual approach.

The delicate balance was to appeal to gamer fans and non-gamer fans alike. This is one of the primary reasons we chose to mix basic puzzle mechanics with more advanced ones.

Plus, by mixing in character and story moments, we feel that we were able to stay true to the Star Wars brand while allowing fans to explore a different genre.

It was important for us to stay true to Star Wars and to have an experience that anyone can play at anytime.

Was it a challenge to contextualise these references to the plot as part of satisfying, differentiated match-three stages? Does each demand a longer development process than your average match-three level?

Yes, absolutely.

Because we created a narrative-driven puzzle game, with the story told through the reconstructed memories of droids, it was really important that the puzzles, environments, characters and story beats change over time.

This is unlike other puzzle games, so it was a new experience and a new challenge. I believe our own Frozen Free Fall was one of the first to explore telling a full story through the concept of matching puzzles.

We used the learnings there, but also increased the production value significantly – Star Wars is after all known for being one of the highest production value franchises – by making fully 3D maps, characters, effects and environments.

The development process takes a little longer so we cant pump out as many new puzzles you might expect from a match-three game.

However, we believe that fans will continue to be engaged while we focus on developing these new experiences catered directly to them.

How big is the team on Star Wars: Puzzle Droids, and how long was the total development time?

The total development time since the initial concept has been around two years thus far, with full production taking place over the past year.

The core development team is around 20 to 30 people consisting of different types of artists, animators, engineers, designers, producers, marketers, analysts, etc.

However, since the involvement in this title comes from separate areas – Disney, Lucasfilm and Genera Games – it is honestly difficult to nail down the exact number of staff members who have contributed.

But somewhere around 200+ have contributed. Our credits are much longer than any other mobile puzzle game weve produced.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced during the development process?

The biggest challenge for me probably was selecting which great Star Wars moments to highlight.

We knew we wanted to start with BB-8 and Rey, due to the current trilogy. And we eventually end up at the Death Star for a stark contrast and because the moments in A New Hope are our favourite.

Each set of levels and each new update is treated as its own development cycle, so we know what we want to do months in advance.

Choosing the right thing for the game at the right time can be a difficult process.

How do you reflect on the game’s global launch? Are you happy with the reception thus far?

We received a lot of positive feedback on the launch from the app store comments and reviews.

We also previewed and demoed the game at Star Wars Celebration and had a really positive experience there.

Since launch, the game remains above a 4.5 star rating across all platforms, so, yes, I am pretty happy with the reception thus far.

Now, the difficult part remains of keeping our fans engaged by consistently delivering new, fun content.

What’s next for Star Wars: Puzzle Droids?

We will continue to develop and release new levels on the Death Star, while exploring other new features in order to keep the game fresh for a long time.

We love our fans and the feedback we receive, so please keep playing and continuing to tell us your thoughts. Stay tuned for more to come.

Read this article:
An ideal match: The making of Star Wars: Puzzle Droids – Pocket Gamer.Biz

Form Review: VR Puzzling At Its Transformative Best – UploadVR

Making puzzles in VR better is, in itself, a conundrum. While coming under enemy fire might be all the more intense and caring for characters is easier, solving a rubiks cube inside a headset isnt exactly a more definitive gaming experience. Putting piece A into slot B isnt quite the revelation in VR that you might hope; you need to make something that truly stands apart from the years of puzzlers that have lined the path to this new medium. The genre needs its own Portal.

Form doesnt just run with that idea; it bends it, remoulds it, makes it bigger, lighter, more dramatic.

Set in an Alaskan research facility, this excellent debut from Charm Games casts you as Dr. Devin Eli, a physicist studying a strange supernatural artifact named The Obelisk. Though the game starts out in a cold laboratory, your environment soon morphs into the impossibly surreal and ever-changing landscape of your own mind, a place where your thoughts appear as comic book-like bubbles that you grab and throw away and puzzles present themselves in the most majestic and curious of ways.

Youll need to get used to the games sheer unpredictability. Forms puzzles usually boil down to simple and relatively easy tasks, but they come at you in fascinating ways. Small shapes hover in front of you before bleeding out into hulking tapestriesat the very touch of a finger, unexpectedly glorious sounds emit from the slightest movements, and dazzling light displays reward your successes. It is, quite literally, a transformative experience in which the smallest of actions has the most dramatic of effects upon your world.

Theres a real joy to just existing in Forms universein this way. Charm has done an excellent job realising something thats enriched by putting a headset on, concocting an uncanny atmosphere that really feels like youre exploring a strange new alien world.

It has architecture that you simply wont understand but nevertheless feels evolved and precious, as if youre there to preserve it just as much as you are to use it. Its soundtrack is fuzzy and revelatory, pushing a sense of pioneering discovery right the way through. You feel like the starry-eyed movie characters that have just uncovered lost civilizations or made contact with beings from another planet.

That tone carries through to the puzzles. Pretty much every challenge in Form starts with you picking up a strange alien artefact and wondering exactly what the heck it is. Indentations in panels reveal them to be tools with specific uses, and buttons and levers promise unexpected consequences with every interaction.

As I said, youll usually boil them down to simple challenges, many of which youve seen before. Memory-based sequences and object rearrangement isnt exactly groundbreaking, but its the sense of picking something ancient and prestigious up and interacting with it that carries the experience. Better yet, they all fit neatly inside the limitations of VR; the game is a standing experience that avoids even the slightest chance of breaking your immersion. Theres no walking around or ducking down, keeping you rooted to the spot means you never risk that trance-breaking wire tug or have to fiddle with your headset as it shifts around your face.

That said there are some highlights. Theres a great puzzle in which a web of holographic shapes must be correctly aligned in front of you, and certain lights reveal hidden objects essential for progression. Theres nothing here that will leave you stumped, certainly not for more than a few minutes, but the delivery makes it all a joy to solve.

What a shame, then, that its over all too quickly. I beat Form in less than an hour, and its credits rolled long before Id seen them coming. The short and sweet experience means nothing outstays its welcome, but it also feels like theres plenty more to explore here. Short VR experiences are quickly becoming the norm and thats fine, but the games pacing never suggested to me that I was nearing the end of my journey.

Form is a little too short and lacking in challenge for it to be considered a true classic, but it stands tall as a VR puzzler unlike any other. Theres an understanding of this new medium here that few developers have been able to demonstrate over the past year. Its atmosphere is dense and engaging and its puzzles capture a strong sense of discovery, resulting in a brilliant blend of gameplay and experience. The flood of VR puzzle games could learn a lot from the foundations that Charm Games has laid here.

Form is available now for $19.99. Check out these official review guidelines to find out more about our process.

See the rest here:
Form Review: VR Puzzling At Its Transformative Best – UploadVR


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