Posts Tagged ‘games’

17 Most Unusual Vending Machines

September 20, 2009 2 comments

With consumers wanting quick and convenient access to various products, it is possible to buy almost anything in a modern vending machine.

This post features a collection of the world’s most unusual vending machine

Socks Vending Machine

Useful machine for when you are in desperate need of socks

Apple iPod Vending Machine

Innovative vending machine where you can buy an iPod by selecting it on a touchscreen and entering your credit card information

Gold Vending Machine

The gold from the “Gold-to-Go” vending machine comes with its own gift box, and at a price 20% cheaper than what customers could get at a German bank

Replacement Body Parts Vending Machine

To highlight the consequences of poor work safety practices, WorkSafe Victoria brought to life the terrifying nature of work place incidents with this striking installation. A vending machine designed to sell spare body parts. The Body-O-Matic.

Anger Release Vending Machine

Passive aggressive anger release machine by Yarisal and Kublitz allows you to experience the most satisfying feeling when a piece of China breaks into million pieces. All you have to do is insert a coin, and a piece of China will slowly move forwards and fall into the bottom of the machine.

Bike Vending Machine

Bike Dispenser allows you to rent a bicycle from one vending machine, ride it to your destination, and then drop it off at another vending machine.

After Party Shoes Vending Machine

Vending machines conveniently located in clubs and restaurants around London sell comfortable after party Rollasole ballet flats.

Board Game Vending Machine

Unusual vending machine from Japan that sells board games

Best Buy Vending Machine

Now you can buy tech gadgets directly from Best Buy vending machine in the Dallas/Forth Worth airport.

Pizza Vending Machine

Wonder Pizza is developing a vending machine that cooks and serves 9″ whole pizzas in just under 2 minutes

Boardshorts Vending Machine

Vending machines containing limited edition Quiksilver boardshorts and bikinis can be found at The Standard Hotels in Hollywood, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami.

Pot Vending Machine

In Los Angeles, 24-hour medical marijuana vending machines will distribute the drug to people with cards authorizing use

Books Vending Machine

Vending machine that sells books spotted at London Gatwick airport

Soccer Ball Vending Machine

Nike “Joga Bonito” vending machine sells soccer balls.

Gun Vending Machine

These vending machines were placed on university campuses and in shopping malls demonstrating how easy it is to get hold of a gun in South Africa. The line under “insert coin below” reads: “Your donation will go to the Gun Control Alliance, for a gun-free South Africa”.

Jeans Vending Machine

Cool vending machine that allows you to purchase Closed jeans

How much wierd can it get 😛 so what do you think guys?


Guitar Hero 5 gets ready to rock

August 11, 2009 Leave a comment

SAN FRANCISCO–The first couple of weeks of September are going to be a banner time for music video games. On September 9 (09/09/09), the much-anticipated The Beatles: Rock Band will hit store shelves, just eight days after Guitar Hero 5 gets its chance to rock living rooms everywhere.

With the Beatles game, it’s easy to imagine long lines and huge sales figures. After all, this will be the first time that any of the recent slew of music-oriented video games will feature any Beatles songs, let alone dozens of them.

But with Guitar Hero 5 (see video below)–has so much time gone by already that there could even be five Guitar Hero releases?–one has to work just a little bit harder to envision the big bucks that its publisher, Activision Blizzard, surely is hoping to bring in.

Still, the guys at Neversoft, the game’s developer, have proven time and again that they know what they’re doing. The Guitar Hero franchise has produced hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and created a dynamic in which people everywhere are now comfortable picking up and jamming away on a guitar, albeit a plastic one with buttons instead of strings.

And with that in mind, one has to give the Neversoft team the benefit of the doubt for their new game, which will be released for all the major video game platforms.

On Thursday, I stopped in at a Guitar Hero press event here and had the chance to speak with two of the executives most responsible for the new game: Brian Bright, the project director at Neversoft for Guitar Hero 5, and Tim Riley, who oversees the Guitar Hero franchise’s music licensing.

One of the things I was most interested in was the rationale for a new Guitar Hero game. To be sure, game companies like Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two have a mandate to generate massive revenues, and so franchises like Guitar Hero are tried and true in that regard. But in spite of that, each new edition of a franchise game has to have something significant to offer to entice enough customers to earn its keep.

To hear Bright tell it, the best rationale for Guitar Hero–besides its 85 new songs by 83 artists–is its “Party Play” mode in which players can jump in or out of songs any time they please, all with the click of a single button.

What that means, Bright added, is that Guitar Hero 5 will offer a potentially broad new audience an entirely new level of “accessibility,” in particular because in the previous versions, many people playing for the first time would have found themselves needing a little hand-holding to get started. Now, he said, that’s no longer the case, and players new and old will be able to easily and quickly go right into rocking out.

Another important Guitar Hero 5 innovation, Bright said, is an “any instrument” selection that will, for the first time, allow more than two people to play guitar at the same time rather than someone in a foursome having to play drums and someone having to sing. And even if there isn’t a mad rush to grab a guitar, this features means that any combination of instruments is, for the first time, possible, whether a group is playing cooperatively or competitively.

Downloadable content
Given that many players of the game’s previous iteration–Guitar Hero: World Tour–likely paid to download songs, Activision is making it possible to port most of those songs to Guitar Hero 5. The company said 152 of the 158 downloadable songs from the earlier game will be compatible with the new one, though users will have to pay a “nominal re-licensing fee,” the amount of which the company hasn’t publicly spelled out yet.

And that means that with the 85 songs Guitar Hero 5 comes with, plus new downloadable songs, the new game’s players can have set lists of potentially hundreds of songs, Bright said.

I wanted to know a little bit more about how Activision persuades musicians to allow their songs to be included in Guitar Hero, especially after learning how the Beatles were won over for the forthcoming Rock Band game.

Riley, the publisher’s music licensing specialist, said that as the Guitar Hero franchise becomes better-known, he and his team have an easier time of it. In part, that’s because “the larger the game gets, the more known it gets within the (music) industry (and) with the artists themselves.”

And that means that Riley and his team have now had the chance to get musicians like Arctic Monkeys and Elliott Smith–whom they’ve never worked with before–to contribute songs to the game. Indeed, he said Guitar Hero 5 features songs from nearly 20 artists who have never allowed their music to be in a video game before.

Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. In the case of Arctic Monkeys, Riley explained, it took multiple visits with the band to show them demos and explain what the Guitar Hero franchise is all about to get permission.

One big factor, Riley added, was being able to assure artists that their music is “safe” in Guitar Hero, meaning that users won’t be able to easily pirate the songs from the game.

At the same time, he explained that for a lot of musicians, games like this are now seen as an attractive way to get their music in front of large audiences, particularly because the record industry is becoming more and more notorious for doing a poor job of helping distribute new music.

“Just by having a song in the game,” Riley said, “kids become familiar with the song, or the artist, and will go out and buy (it) or go out and purchase more music from that artist.”

claytronics-the future

July 31, 2009 2 comments

About Claytronics

The Appearance of Thought in the Behavior of Machines 

Today, computing engages a user’s senses of sight and hearing through video and audio devices whose effects the user must integrate in his or her mind.  Suppose that electronic media could offer users an active form of original information that would fully integrate sight and sound and add the sense of touch for the user experience.  Suppose that the person using information could interact physically with it.  This is the concept of claytronics, which is also known as programmable matter.  Through this medium, users would engage with information in realistic, 3-dimensional forms — represented in the immediacy of the user’s personal space. 

Creation of claytronics technology is the bold objective of collaborative research between Carnegie Mellon and Intel, which combines nano-robotics and large-scale computing to create synthetic reality, a revolutionary, 3-dimensional display of information.  The vision behind this research is to provide users with tangible forms of electronic information that express the appearance and actions of original sources. 

The objects created from programmable matter will be scalable to life size or larger.  They will be likewise reducible in scale. Such objects will be capable of continuous, 3-D motion.  Representations in programmable matter will offer to the end-user an experience that is indistinguishable from reality.  Claytronic representations will seem so real that users will experience the impression that they are dealing with the original object.

Claytronic emulation of the function, behavior and appearance of individuals, organisms and objects will fully mimic reality – and fulfill a well-known criterion for artificial intelligence formulated by the visionary mathematician and computer science pioneer Alan Turing. 

A Representation of Reality That Passes the ‘Turing Test’

In 1950, in a groundbreaking article, Turing asked “Can Machines Think?”  and offered a criterion to “refute anyone who doubts that a computer can really think.”  His proposal was that “if an observer cannot distinguish the responses of a programmed machine from those of a human being, the machine is said to have passed the Turing Test.”

Although the Turing Test remains a robust source of discussion among those who devote their lives to artificial intelligence, philosophy and cognitive science, claytronics conceives of a technology that will surpass the Turing Test for the appearance of thought in the behaviors of a machine.

The seemingly magical quality of this media is suggested by the Greek word, pario (paree-oh), which means “to make” or “to bring forth,” a transformation of data into delightful forms that will echo the mythical power of the ancient artist Pygmalion whose command brought to life the statue Galatea.

By enabling the representation of tangible, realistic three-dimensional objects across networks, claytronic media — or programmable matter — promise to provide users of digital information with a transforming experience.  To learn more, read this article on programmable matter published in Computer, the IEEE Computer Society Magazine.  Then review the following slides that present the vision of claytronics as this dynamic technology is evolving in the Carnegie Mellon-Intel Claytronics Research Project.

Team Fortress 2 Review

May 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Team Fortress 2 sets a brilliant stage for its signature brand of class-based multiplayer mayhem.

The Good

  • Unique, well-balanced classes and maps
  • Team dynamic can yield immensely satisfying moments
  • Appealing visual aesthetic.

The Bad

  • Heavy reliance on other players can make or break the experience
  • Strategic depth can be daunting
  • Price pushes boundaries of reasonability.
As one of the first shooters to pioneer team- and class-based gameplay, the first Team Fortress quickly became a favorite among the online community, inspiring devotion and spawning innumerable user-created modifications that many still play today. Team Fortress 2 was announced almost a decade ago as a sequel to the original mod, and went through many transformations and design iterations before its release last October as part of The Orange Box. At heart, TF2 remains true to its roots, pitting two teams against each other in objective-based competition. Players on both teams select one of nine character classes, each with their own unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. TF2’s cartoon aesthetic and stripped-down classes belie its complexity, and the dynamic interplay of abilities and strategies is nuanced, hectic, and challenging. The result is a fantastic multiplayer experience that proves itself a worthy successor to its seminal ancestor.As a purely multiplayer game, Team Fortress 2 has no need for a storyline. Instead, it has characters. Each class is a uniquely styled character with his own amusing personality (some of whom have been featured in hilarious “Meet The…” video features that are readily available online). These classes come equipped with three weapons, generally classifiable as a primary gun, a secondary weapon, and a melee weapon. For example, the soldier class comes armed with a rocket launcher, a shotgun secondary weapon, and a shovel for close quarters combat. Classes are grouped into offense, defense, and support, though their actual roles in combat are far more fluid.

The offensive group includes the scout, the pyro, and the soldier. The scout is lean, fast, and nimble (he can double-jump), but light on health. He can capture points twice as fast as other classes and can quickly gun down less robust classes, but his relatively low health makes him highly susceptible to sentry guns and the Heavy’s minigun. The pyro wears a black flame-retardant suit to protect himself from his flamethrower, which can light opponents on fire. While deadly at close range and in enclosed spaces, the pyro is much less effective in open areas. The soldier wields a powerful rocket launcher that is effective at any range, though its small clip and slow reload rate can be a hindrance.

In the defensive group you’ll find the demoman, the heavy, and the engineer. Demomen have grenade launchers that can ricochet shots around corners, and remote-detonated sticky bombs that are great for setting traps. Heavies have the most health, but are also the slowest since they carry a giant minigun that can shred nearby opponents in seconds. Engineers have the unique ability to build structures, like sentry guns, ammo/health dispensers, and teleporters. Though they are armed with shotguns as well, their primary concern is building and maintaining their machines in strategic locations.

Support characters are an eclectic bunch: the medic, the sniper, and the spy. The medic’s primary gun restores his allies to health, and can charge up to release an ubercharge, giving him and his target temporary invulnerability. The sniper is deadly at long range, able to charge up his bullet by remaining zoomed to the point where a headshot will instantly kill almost any foe. The spy is able to disguise himself as a member of the opposing team and can deliver one-hit kills by stabbing enemies in the back. He also has devices that can destroy the engineer’s structures, making him very dangerous when behind enemy lines.

Though different classes clearly lend themselves to different roles on the battlefield, the strategies each can employ are far from limited, and it can be difficult at first to decide which class to play. While certain classes seem more straightforward than others, they all have their nuances that can only be learned over time. Fortunately, you have the option to switch classes every time you respawn, or any time you run back into the spawn point. This gives both teams the flexibility to change strategies on the fly, and it’s one of the key elements that make Team Fortress 2 so dynamic.

This flexibility can also cause problems, especially for teams that aren’t communicating properly. If half the team decides to switch it up while the other half decides to stay the course, the resulting disarray can scuttle your chances of victory. There are useful hotkeys that allow you to send quick messages, and many players use voice chat to stay on point. Still, many a team has fallen to defeat due to dissonant strategy, and as such Team Fortress 2’s biggest strength is also its biggest liability. Your success is tied to your team’s success and, in part, so is your enjoyment of the game. Just as being part of a fluid, coordinated team is truly excellent, so too is being part of a fractured, dysfunctional team truly frustrating. These are two extremes, to be sure, but such is the inconsistent nature of a game experience that depends so wholly on other players.

Fortunately, most of the TF2 experience falls somewhere between those two extremes. Every game mode demands a cooperative strategy (there are no Deathmatch modes), but the basics aren’t hard to grasp. In the Capture the Flag mode, players must grab a briefcase of intelligence from the opposing team’s base and return it to their own. In the Control Point mode, teams fight to capture all the control points on the map. The Attack/Defend mode challenges one team to capture the control points while the other team defends, and teams switch roles between rounds. Each of the maps is designed for one or two specific game modes, and all are meticulously designed to create numerous strategic approaches for both teams.

Since the game’s release last October, Valve has released a few new maps and game modes, slowly expanding the somewhat sparse catalog. They have also recently released three new weapons for the medic that you unlock by completing achievements. These weapons feature slight stat tweaks and new abilities that add a new element of customization to the class, and no doubt herald future weapon deployments for the other classes. While this did cause a (hopefully) temporary imbalance in the number of people playing as medics and a rise in overtly self-interested tactics, it offers new challenges and goals for players. This new content helps extend the replay value of TF2, which makes the high price point a little easier to swallow.

Valve has done a fantastic job creating and balancing the maps, classes, and other game elements that are within their control. Still, Team Fortress 2 is a purely multiplayer game and, as such, lives and dies by the team. Most of the time you’ll find yourself well matched, but the inherent uncertainty of the game can make for some vexing sessions. Your best move is to seek out friends and servers that are least likely to yield such sessions, and then enjoy the fertile battlegrounds that Team Fortress 2 so expertly cultivates. You’d be remiss not to reap this harvest.

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