IGN

NO MAN’S SKY SLATED FOR RELEASE AUGUST 9, 2016
July 5, 2016 11:43 am

Gamer anticipation is building for the upcoming release of the Sci-Fi adventure survival game, No Man’s Sky. Developed by indie game studio Hello Games, No Man’s Sky has people on the edge of their seats, eager to test out the game’s essentially infinite open-world platform.

No Man’s Sky was originally scheduled for release in June 2016, but was pushed back because Sean Murray, Managing Director of Hello Games and programmer on No Man’s Sky, felt that the game needed to be “polished” slightly before a full release.

“I have had to make the tough choice to delay the game for a few weeks to allow us to deliver something special.” – Murray

Now, nearly three years after the initial announcement of No Man’s Sky at the VGX in December 2013, the game is slated for worldwide release on August 9, 2016 for both PS4 and Microsoft Windows.

No Man’s Sky is built on a procedurally generated universe. Planets, and the unique flora and fauna that occupy them, are generated from a deterministic algorithm, creating a massive, and truly random system of explorable planets. 

Hello Games developers have estimated that there are over 18-quintillion explorable worlds, each with unique life, environments and resources to gather. This immense amount of options allows players to approach No Man’s Sky in a way that caters to their imagination and fits their individual style of gameplay.

Players can spend time exploring new worlds aboard a starship, collecting resources and discovering new species on distant planets, or even engaging in combat with first-person weapons on a planet’s surface or dogfights in a spaceship. If you wish, you can even kill the local wildlife on individual worlds, but be wary, too much destruction will attract sentinels that will attack, forcing you to flee or fight for your survival. 

As Murrary said in the IGN First: 18-minute Gameplay Demo, “That’s another way you can play the game. You can, you know, not come in peace.” – Murray

Another significant feature of No Man’s Sky is The Atlas, a player-submitted database of information of the discoveries they make during the game. This allows No Man’s Sky players to share the coordinates of the worlds they locate and info about things they unearth within them. Players can choose to play either offline locally, or online in a universe shared with other players. 

No Man’s Sky is designed similarly to a real solar system. Planets located the optimal distance from a sun will have more varied life and potential for interaction with other players, whereas planets that are too close or on the outer rim may be barren and devoid of life. 

“As much as we can possibly manage, this needs to feel real, and true to what it is, which is a galaxy.” – Murray

Nevertheless, these barren planets may still have some valuable resources as well as hidden secrets for players to discover as they explore. 

No Man’s Sky presents many of the signifying aspects of the adventure-survival genre such as character development, acquiring items and artifacts, and learning new skills such as a better knowledge of Alien languages.

All in all, No Man’s Sky is an ambitious venture in open-world gaming. Come August, we will see if the game can deliver the rich world of deep space exploration and discovery that we are hoping for. 

E3: THE GAMERS’ MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
June 17, 2016 1:31 pm

Four days of video game conferences, new game trailers, demos and entertainment? This is the most anticipated week of the year for gamers and tech enthusiasts. And this conference was the 22nd gathering of companies and people for E3 with some serious surprises.

If you don’t know E3, here is a quick run down. It stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo, and vast numbers of enterprises, journalists, bloggers, gamers and tech geeks flock to the event to go on a mad binge of tech demos, playing new games and nerding out to the max.

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Sony busted out a huge lineup of new games and some big show stoppers. God of War’s fourth major installment was announced and looks amazingly beautiful, an amazing surprise for fans. The Last Guardian’s release date for October 25th 2016 was finally announced after 9 long years of development. Hideo Kojima, legendary game creator of the Metal Gear series and others, announced a new original game, Death Stranding, which had everyone in awe and wonder. Lastly, Sony announced that their VR headset will be coming out October 13, 2016 with a full lineup of games, demos and all sorts of different experiences. A spectacular presentation, especially the live orchestra that performed the music for all the trailers. 

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Microsoft on the other hand really showcased their new consoles and some good games. Their biggest reveal was the Xbox One S (slim). It is 40% smaller, beautiful white design, supports 4K output, built in power supply and only $299. If you don’t have an Xbox One, this is quite the steal. But, they also oddly revealed the Scorpio, a new gaming console for next year that has 6 teraflops of power, which sounds made up but it’s a real thing. To explain, think of the difference between the power of a horse and car, that is roughly the difference between the Scorpio and it predecessors.

There is way too much information from E3 and I couldn’t tell you all about it here. Games like Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Call of Duty: Infinity Warfare, Gears Of War 4, Battlefield 1, Batman VR, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and so many more were shown and a lot of them playable. Check out Youtube’s gaming channel HERE and IGN has a great amount of coverage and demos HERE.

A great week for gamers and a superb E3 conference, from live orchestras and fantastic game demonstrations to tech surprises and amazing guest appearances, this was really an amazing event. What games are you most excited for? Tweet us @AtypicalBeasts with what you’re dying to play.

LEARNING TO CODE WITH MINECRAFT
June 2, 2016 2:21 pm

Even if you haven’t played it, you’ve probably heard of Minecraft. For those unfamiliar, Minecraft is an open-world, sandbox game in which players can build 3D environments with various blocks. 

The game exploded in popularity after its release in 2011, and has since attracted a devoted following of players. IGN ranked Minecraft as the #3 best-selling game of all time, with 70 million copies sold over a variety of platforms (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mobile).

In conjunction with the Hour of Code movement and TeacherGamingMojang, the developers behind Minecraft, have learned ways to incorporate programming into the game. 

Hour of Code is a global initiative designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of computer science. Launched by Code.org and Computer Science Education Week, Hour of Code helps bring programming and computer science to students at the grassroots level. 

When starting out you don’t even have to purchase Minecraft. Simply visit https://code.org/mc, where after a short introductory video by Minecraft’s lead developer “Jeb,” you’ll enter a version of Minecraft. Using Blockly, a visual programming editor that displays bits of code as connected blocks, you will help “Alex” or “Steve” (The two Minecraft characters) navigate the Minecraft world by solving a series of puzzles.

Each time you solve a puzzle, you are given the option to view the code behind what you just created. The code you are writing, while helping Alex or Steve build a house or plant crops, is actually JavaScript, a programming language used for HTML, the Web and various other functions.  JavaScript is a popular language for people new to coding, so by using Minecraft, players can learn JavaScript fundamentals in a fun and interactive environment. 

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Learning programming with Minecraft is not limited to this online coding activity. MinecraftEdu, an independent learning project by TeacherGaming supported by Mojang, uses Minecraft gameplay to teach a variety of subjects. MinecraftEdu has an Hour of Code activity package as well, in which students use a Minecraft mod called ComputerCraft.

Created by modder Dan200, the mod incorporates interactive blocks dubbed “turtles” into Minecraft to teach students programming and computer science through new ways to interact with the game. MinecraftEdu comes equipped with ComputerCraftEdu, or the mod can be downloaded and applied to the regular Minecraft game. If students or teachers want to delve deeper into Minecraft-based learning there is now a full expansion of MinecraftEdu called Minecraft: Education Edition, which will be released as an early access program for educators this summer.   

To account for students without regular access to the internet or Minecraft, there is even an option for a printable MinecraftEdu board game! Another option is the Minecraft edition offered through Raspberry Pi. The Pi 3 comes pre-loaded with a version of Minecraft, that can teach players how to code with the programming language Python

It can be scary to dive into programming, especially if you have no prior experience with computer science. Game-based learning, like learning to code with Minecraft, is helping to alleviate some of these hurdles by making coding fun and interactive. These types of initiatives are changing the norms of not only what we learn, but how we learn. Who knows, in the next few years game-based learning and interactive e-learning activities could become standard over traditional teaching methods.