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Play Puzzle Title Tsuro: The Game of the Path on Oculus Quest in October – VRFocus

Tabletop board game Tsuro: The Game of the Path arrived for Oculus Rift last year thanks to Thunderbox Entertainment, offering a tactile yet zen-like experience. Today, the developer has announced the videogame is coming to Oculus Quest next month.

Playable solo or as a multiplayer, Tsuro: The Game of the Path provides a simple gameplay mechanic, place tiles on a board to move your stone, keeping it in play for as long as possible. As the number of tiles increase so do the chances of your stone following another players path which could very well lead to your stone leaving the table and ending your game.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path is set in a tranquil Japanese garden with animals wandering through and the idyllic sounds of nature in the air. So you can take a stroll whilst the other players take their turns the videogame supports up to 8 across platforms or to get a better viewpoint of the evolving board, teleporting up to a roof for example.

The aim of the puzzle title is to make sure your stone counter is the last on the board, not an easy task when their are many paths for it to follow.

Thunderbox Entertainment will release Tsuro: The Game of the Path for Oculus Quest on the 23rd October, priced at 7.99 GBP/$9.99 USD.

October is set to be a big month for Oculus Quest content thanks to the launch of Oculus Quest 2 on 13th. Title confirmed during Facebook Connect last week includeThe Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners from Skydance Interactive, Resolution GamesBlaston,Little Witch Academia: VR Broom RacingandEnhance Games Rez Infinite. As further VR videogames are announced, VRFocus will keep you updated.

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Play Puzzle Title Tsuro: The Game of the Path on Oculus Quest in October - VRFocus

Word Sudoku by POWGI arrives on Xbox One this week! – Gamasutra

[This unedited press release is made available courtesy of Gamasutra and its partnership with notable game PR-related resource GamesPress.]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 21st September 2020

Staffordshire, UK Lightwood Games is delighted to announce the release of Word Sudoku by POWGI for Xbox One. The game will be available to download on Friday, 25th September.

Word Sudoku by POWGI is a word-based twist on the classic logic puzzle game.

The core gameplay will be familiar to sudoku fans, but instead of using the digits 1 to 9, Word Sudoku is solved by placing nine different letters so that no row, column or grid section contains the same letter twice.

When completed, each puzzle will reveal a different nine-letter word, spelled across one row or column of the grid. This can act as an additional hint, if needed.

Players can also switch the puzzle into number mode if they prefer.

The game contains 300 puzzles of increasing difficulty, including 60 new puzzles which are exclusive to the Xbox version.

It is priced at $7.99 / GBP 6.69 / 7.99 and rated ESRB E / PEGI 3.

Lightwood Games is an independent game developer, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team, Katherine and Chris Newman. They are delighted to finally add Xbox to a portfolio of puzzle games which spans ten years and, now, includes all major home console platforms.

The company plans to bring more titles from their popular by POWGI word puzzle series to Xbox One in the coming months.

For press copies or more information, contact: u2028Chris Newman, [emailprotected],

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Word Sudoku by POWGI arrives on Xbox One this week! - Gamasutra

Groovy puzzler Worm Jazz out now on Switch and Steam – FULLSYNC

Inconspicuous Creations is pleased to announce that its jazzy puzzler about a worm shuffling its way through a series of mazes,Worm Jazz, is out now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $8.99 / 7.99 / 8.99 and during the first week of launch, a 10% discount on Steam for $6.99 / 5.19 / 5.69. Can you dig it?

Worm Jazzis a unique, wriggly puzzle game that combines the elongating body mechanic of Snake with the explosion-heavy demolition of Bomberman. You take control of Mr. Mark, an earthworm with a taste of smooth jazz and dapper headwear.

Writhe your way through the many intricate, mind-bending mazes filled with mines, wormholes, and powerups! Shrink when you blow yourself up and expand when you scarf down some chow. Are you able to gobble up all the food on each stage to reach the highly coveted golden apple?

Worm Jazzappeals to every type of player: from puzzle aficionados who will enjoy unearthing the path through the labyrinthine levels, to the completionists who will attempt to gobble all the food in each stage; while casual players will enjoy the challenge of progressing through the 50+ stages.

The open world overworld structure allows players to prioritise which tasks to tackle first, with wormholes and boulders popping up as new environments become available. With no timer,Worm Jazzcan be played at your own pace and every move can be undone. This laid back atmosphere is complemented by a swanky soundtrack composed by jazz maestro Oliver Getz, who painstakingly put together loops of calming, upbeat tunes to chill out to.Worm Jazzcan at times confound challengers, so this smooth soundtrack offers the chilled vibe needed to master the maze.

Something I love about both video games and jazz is their unique ability to let us relax, focus, and chill out. Worm Jazzis that in a nutshell. It can be very challenging, but in a cozy way. Like a Sunday crossword or sudoku puzzle on a rainy day. Only with a bopping bespoke soundtrack and nifty hats!

Launching on the eShop for Nintendo Switch this summerWorm Jazzwill be available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

For even more gaming news, click right HERE.

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Groovy puzzler Worm Jazz out now on Switch and Steam - FULLSYNC

What’s Coming To Disney+ This Week (Australia/New Zealand) | Secret Society Of Second Born Royals – What’s On Disney Plus

Its the beginning of a new week and time to take a look at whats coming to Disney+ in Australia and New Zealand later this week. There are two new Disney+ Originals coming this week, Magic Of Disneys Animal Kingdom and Secret Society Of Second Born Royals. Along with more library content such as Once Upon A Time.

Here is the rundown:

Secret Society of Second Born Royals follows Sam, a teenage royal rebel second in line to the throne of the kingdom of Illyria. Just as Sams disinterest in the royal way of life is at an all-time high, she discovers she has super-human abilities and is invited to join a secret society of similar extraordinary second-born royals charged with keeping the world safe. With guidance from their Secret Society instructor James, Sam and a new class of royal recruits must first learn to harness their new powers at a top-secret training camp before they can save the world.

Disney+s Magic of Disneys Animal Kingdom produced by National Geographic and narrated by Disney fan-favorite Josh Gad (Frozen, Frozen II) gives viewers an all-encompassing backstage pass to explore the magic behind two of the worlds most beloved animal experiences, Disneys Animal Kingdom Theme Park and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT. Viewers get unprecedented access to some of the most rare and beautiful creatures on the planet and meet the animal care experts who have formed remarkable bonds with the parks 5,000 plus animals.

Super Staple strikes again! The local librarys annual contest is here, and Charlies ready to submit his latest comic book for review. Unfortunately, Charlies comic book is never picked, so Carly and Charlie embark on a mission to find a new superhero and villain. But when they discover amazing things about venomous animals, Charlie and Carly must decide who the real hero is. They head to California Academy of Sciences to learn all about venomous species.

Emma Swans past disasters drag her into the small town of Maine. She is the long-lost daughter of a king, who must protect her town from the curse of an evil queen.

A reimagined BRAIN GAMES adds a Hollywood twist to the classic mind-bending format. Shot in front of a live studio audience, BRAIN GAMES challenges some of the worlds biggest celebrities to realize their special brain power through fun and highly entertaining interactive games, illusions and social experiments that will reveal the why behind the wow. The in-studio audience and the viewers at home can play along, comparing their mental abilities against those of the A-listers. Join in on the fun as BRAIN GAMES reveals the incredible science of what makes our brains tick!

Continuing their mission to save every decayed classic car they can get their hands on, the Car S.O.S. crew is back for their third series. Parts-blagging Petrol Head Tim Shaw and Master Mechanic Fuzz Townshend are determined to hunt down charismatic cars with deserving owners and get their pride and joy up and running and back on the road where they belong.

Hot Dog! The animated Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures takes Disneys #1 star, Mickey Mouse, and his pals, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, on zany adventures all around Hot Dog Hills in fun locales including Mickeys new gadget-filled house, the Mixed-Up Motor Lab at Mickeys Garage and Minnie, Daisy and Cuckoo Locas Happy Helpers office. Designed to impart lessons about friendship, teamwork and community, each episode features a dance break in which Mickey and the gang invite viewers to dance along to an updated version of the fan-favorite Hot Dog! song.

The web-slinging series follows Peter Parker, who is learning to navigate life as the teenage superhero Spider-Man. Now going into his third year at Horizon High, Peter is confident he can handle anything that comes his way, but hes pushed to his breaking point when Venom summons an earth-shattering threat from its home planet.

Gordon Ramsay sets out on an adventurous journey around the world where he interacts with people from different countries about their food and culture. He also prepares a number of delicacies.

Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal and their other friends explore their vast imagination to go on amazing adventures inside their nursery.

Sydney, a middle school student, and her father, Max, encounter different challenges in their daily lives, which they solve thanks to help from her grandmother Judy and their familial bond

Project manager Ashley Girdich oversees dynamic assignments for Walt Disney Imagineerings Research and Development group. From managing teams to keeping projects and plans on track, Ashley is constantly pushing boundaries to ensure the next generation of Imagineers continue to create industry-leading, interactive experiences for park guests

What are you looking forward to watching on Disney+ later this week?

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUKFacebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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10 Great Party Games For Switch You Probably Haven’t Heard Of – TheGamer

The Nintendo Switch is the go-to console when it comes to social party games, and here's a look at some lesser-known titles that are fun for everyone.

The Switch has largely become synonymous with social and party gaming, particularly when it comes to local multiplayer. And it's no surprise why, as hits likeSuper Mario Party,Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,andMario Kart 8 Deluxemake for endlessly fun romps with friends or family. Yet there are plenty of lesser-known games that, despite falling under the radar for most, are largely asenjoyable.

RELATED: Party Hard: The 15 Best PS4 Games For Parties

With that said, let's get this party going and examine ten of the best party titles for Switch that are relatively unknown.

Sure, there may be noWii Sportsequivalent on Switch, but this compilation of sports games certainly comes close in terms of its feel.

Even if ithas its share of blemishes, and what some may call some "shallow" bouts,Sports Partymakes for a fun little diversion with friends, and a pretty solid sports package. Players can enjoy simple versions of basketball, jet ski, Frisbee,beach tennis, skateboarding, and arguably the highlight - golf.Sports Partywon't set the world on fire, though it does grant a warm and fuzzy feeling of Wii-style nostalgia- motion controls and all.

While it looks basic on the surface, this colorful party game from Bigosaur offers some impressively fun, addictive gameplay given its budget price.

The game is a competitive marathon race to the finish, revolving around navigation-based puzzles. Players must slap down directional tiles and nab all the watermelons on screen. Aside from simply being quicker than one's opponent, players must also deal with unwanted blocks by bombing them. The gameplay is such that just about anyone can into this one, while there's enough strategy involved to keep things interesting.

Those who enjoy their party games with some classic puzzle pizzazz should look no further thanTricky Towers, a game that puts a fun, chaotic twist on the classicTetrisformula. This time, the goal is tobuildaTetris-like tower with bricks rather than eliminate them.

The game runs with the concepts of physics-based tower stacking using very familiar-looking blocks. Tricky Towersis a clever and colorful little exercise of precision, speeed, and strategy. It's especially a blast when facing off against fellow builders.

Fans ofOvercookedand its ilk would do well to give this cartoony puzzler a look, with its similar fusion of collaboration and wacky party gameplay.

RELATED: The 15 Best Co-Op Games For Couples On Nintendo Switch

The name of the game is to work in cohesion with other players and shift to the front of the line when needed. The goal is to color-coordinate your way through side-scrolling stages and clear colored obstacles with your constantly-jogging heroes. It's a concept that looks simple on the surface, but can get downright tough when things pick up and signals get crossed.

Speaking of games that demand cooperation and communication - No Brakes Games'Human Fall Flatis a similarly fun party romp. It shares inJoggernauts' emphasis on working together to progress and solve puzzles, as well as its general zaniness. But that's about where the similarities end. The real kicker here is the stupidly loose "drunken" physics that make up the movement and mechanics of your doughy avatar.

The game is as amusing as it is disorienting, and the weird mechanics present a fun challenge to fumble around with. Players can join in online games with a slew of others to collectively stumble throughobstacle-laden 3D maps.

Gamers with a knack for retro, arcade-style flair should certainly get a kick out of this one.Varionis a top-down brawler/shooter that truly feels like a blast from the past. Yet, the game also has some modern pizzazz with its flashy neon visuals and epic multiplayer mode, where players can face off against up to 3 other robots.

Varionblasts players with intense, action-packed gameplay while keeping things simple and accessible. Studio Rundiscensures things rarely get dull with its procedurally generated maps and various modes, including Battle, Tournament, and Championship.

Sticking with the theme of cooperative puzzlersDeath Squared isa deceptively tough game with a colorful blocky aesthetic, giving it a PlayStation 1 kind of vibe. Players will need to work as a team and guide their blocky bot to a color-coded goal, while evading a range of hazards and deathtraps.

RELATED: The Top 10 Most Addictive Puzzle Games On Steam

This one rings similar to thatOvercookedstyle of juggling multiple tasks and working in tandem. Yet, it's also distinctly clever in its complex level design and puzzles.

While this charming party-platformer from Sega won't soon dethroneMario Party, it still makes for a solid choice for fans of the series. In addition to the fun ball-rolling platforming, this Wii port also comes with a slew of delightful party mini-games. Standouts include Monkey Snowboard, Hammer Throw, and theMonkey Ballclassic, Monkey Target. There's tons of fun loaded into these distinct bite-sized romps.

Additions to this remaster include online leader boards and a Decathlon Mode. This allows players to face off in marathon competitions of 10 mini games in a row.

Really,just aboutallof the severalJackboxtitles could probably make this list but what fun would that be? But if just one out of the collection should land a spot, it's in this writer's humble opinion thatParty Pack3is the strongest choice. While each compilation hasa handful of entertaining social and party games, this one nails it with a nice balance of zany humor, exciting trivia, and creative exercises.

The highlight of Jackboxother than the hilariousQuiplash is the fact that a mobile device can be used to play each game, turning your phone into a seamless controller. It's certainly ideal for the amount of typing and silly drawing some of these titles require.

It may seem odd to include any game with the "Tetris" name as a relatively unknown party game. But in fact, this hybrid puzzler from Sega never quite took off, especially compared to the battle royalTetris 99which vastly overshadowed it. It's a shame, as this really is an underrated online and local multiplayer game for Switch.

While thePuyo PuyoandTetriscombo might be a bit off-putting, these two similar puzzlers reallydowork well together. Not only this, but the game is loaded with content - with various modes ofboth games, solid online support, and even a story mode.

NEXT: 10 Of The Best Party Games (Other Than Mario Party)

Next 10 Hilarious Mario 64 Memes Only True Fans Understand

Stephen is an avid Nintendo, Indie, and retro gamer who dabbles in Xbox on occasion, mainly in the form of binge sessions of Overwatch. He's a history buff, an aspiring writer of short fiction, and a devout metalhead who enjoys poorly drumming along to Black Sabbath on his cheap drum set. When his beloved Chicago Cubs or Bulls are not playing, he typically likes to watch random documentaries or campy horror films.

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6 Wacky and Wonderful Websites to View and Set World Records – MakeUseOf

A world record! It just sounds like something to be celebrated, doesn't it? Well, these websites show the splendor of different world records in all their glory and even encourage you to set one yourself.

These days, there are different types of world records, so you never know where you might find one. At one point, an egg on Instagram became the world record holderfor Instagram Likes. Everyone should explore the kinds of world records out there, both real and virtual. Some are positively zany! And who knows, with a few of these apps and guides, you might soon be a world record holder yourself.

Who can hold a handstand on a balance beam for the longest time? What is the largest cardboard fort ever built? What's the most number of standing side-flips you can do in 15 seconds? What's the fastest time to solve five Rubik's cubes? RecordSetter is all about thinking of a record, recording yourself doing it, and challenging others.

All records are presented as videos on the website, ready for anyone to view. You can view these records by category, browse Editor's Picks, and even compete for charity. The videos are fascinating, and chances are you'll be sucked into a rabbit hole. Each record states the place it was made, the rules of the competition, and a button to challenge it!

RecordSetter says it wants to be the "Wikipedia of human achievement" by chronicling the greatness within each of us. The rules for an application aren't as rigorous as Guinness World Records or other official awards, which makes it more accessible for anyone to set a record.

All you need is a camera, unique skill, and honesty. Your submission will be reviewed by the community and a council from RecordSetter, but the whole system works more on a system of honor than anything else. Of course, any record you set should be quantifiable in a way that someone can challenge it or beat it, which is where the fun lies.

Everyone knows that the Guinness World Records (GBWR) is the most popular authority to test and verify records. But not many know that GBWR has an active YouTube channel with videos of the latest and greatest record-breaking attempts.

Every month, GWR releases a compilation of the best new records, which is worth watching by itself. But you can go into the archives to find both successful and failed videos of people across the globe trying to get their name in the record books.

From skateboarding dogs to jaw-dropping feats of strength and skill, you'll find it all here. The Sports, Fitness, and Strength playlist is especially entertaining, with over a hundred videos. What do you think is the record for the human-throwing strongwoman?

If you want to be one of them, you'll need to go to the official Guinness World Records website and apply to set or break a record.

Video games provide a level playing field for anyone in the world to compete in the same event. Gamers have compared high scores from the time they began, and you can now test how good you are with global leaderboards at Twin Galaxies and Video Games Records.

Both websites span all types of video games across platforms like classic arcade, PC, console, mobile, and web. From Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat to Mario Kart and Angry Birds, it's all here. You can filter games by platform, search for them, or browse the list to see what you can compete in.

Open a game and you'll find all sorts of records. For example, you can view the fastest lap on any track in a racing game, the high score in a puzzle game, or the longest kill streak without dying in a multiplayer online shooter. Gamers pride themselves on all kinds of records.

If you think you can beat any, or already have, check the submission rules (they're different for both sites) and send in your entry. Who knows, you might find yourself holding a world record high score.

The world of video games has another subculture that encourages world records. Speedruns are all about finishing a video game as fast as possible. Think about it like the video game version of a race. And these are the world record holders among the sprinters.

Speedrun.com shows the fastest times to beat any video game. To be eligible, you need to have a full video from start to end. You might be shocked to see that the game you think you're an expert in is handled dismissively for a speedrun by some of these world record holders. But that should only serve as fuel for you to beat them.

In fact, watch these entertaining speedruns packed with tips and tricks to understand the little ways by which you can get better at it. And soon, you should be vying for a world record!

So what do you need to do to set a Guinness World Record yourself? Ragen Chastain holds the Guinness World Record for Heaviest Woman to Complete a Marathon. And she's ready to reveal what she learned in her record-setting journey.

It's a short but insightful guide into the mindset and motivation of a record-setter, as well as the trials and tribulations. Chastain tells you how to go about applying, and what to expect from the process as well as the scrutiny. She adds tidbits like needing 12 weeks of preparation, and a further 12 weeks after the attempt for Guinness to verify it.

The heart of the article is the "Planning Your Attempt" part, where she dives into the nitty-gritty of what it takes. Pay careful attention, setting a world record isn't just about your skill, it's about the people around you and a load of other factors.

If you want to set a world record and get your name in the books, you'll need to practice hard. When you're mastering any skill, you need to record videos of yourself and watch replays, studying your moves to improve. One More Try is a free web app designed specifically to make practicing easier.

You see, in a normal situation, you'd set up your camera to record you, execute the move, then stop recording, watch the video replay, then record again. And you'd have to do this series of moves over and over again, taking away valuable practice time.

One More Try solves the issue in the form of a "Delay Camera" app. Open it in a browser and start shooting. It looks like a webcam, but only that it's delayed. Make a move now, you'll see it four seconds later. It's much easier to review what you're doing after you've finished it, and the four-second delay makes it possible.

You can customize the delay to any amount of time you want, so if it's a longer move, set it to delay by a longer time. You can also replay the full video from the beginning at any point. And you can download the video in MP4 format too. It's all free, no installations needed.

Looking at the different world records, you can't help but chuckle at some of them. People make the largest pizza or burger, some try to clap or snap the most number of times in a minute, and there's a whole section on flatulence. It's almost like they're a monument to the wacky and weird side of humankind. Butwe should celebrate thosetoo, right? Go on, indulge in a little bit more with these insanely weird Wikipedia articles.

Wikipedia is full of useful information, but it also many weird things you can read about. Here's a list of Wikipedia weirdness.

Mihir Patkar has been writing on technology and productivity for over 14 years at some of the top media publications across the world. He has an academic background in journalism.

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Brain Games: Avoiding outcome bias for the surprising stars of Week 1 – theathletic.com

How was Week 1 for you? There were some monster performances and some huge disappointments. There were more than a few surprises. One of the aspects of the game that Im trying to improve on is reflection. I play in a lot of leagues, Im a full-time professor, and I write a lot of fantasy-related articles. For the past few years, as soon as one week ends, Im looking ahead to the next week. Getting a jump on research, matchups, and generally figuring out how to proceed. Of course, part of that is taking note of recent stats and numbers, but the intention is future-oriented. This year, I vowed to take more time to study those numbers and let them sink in.

So theres no better time to introduce my 2020 version of Brain Games, where well look at certain performances every week to decide if we can learn from them or not. Hopefully you know the phrase Process over Results. It can be an incendiary phrase, as some think its used...

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Brain Games: Avoiding outcome bias for the surprising stars of Week 1 - theathletic.com

Be the change – The Tribune

Steer clear of negativity

Name-Prabhjot Singh,Class IX, School-St. Joseph Sr. Sec. School, Chandigarh

When we think of successful people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, we expect that they must have been blessed to get great opportunities but It isn't so. The only thing that differentiates a successful person from an unsuccessful one is the person's viewpoint.

The small thing that makes a huge difference is positivity. Who doesn't face challenges and hardships in life but the one who masters the art of being happy even in the face of adversity and failure gets to taste the sweet fruits of success.

When an athlete loses a race he has two options he can either think of being happy that he had a great space to work on for getting better or he can take defeat in a negative manner which could lead him to just revolve around thinking of losing the award.

But positive thinking is always a decent option, which if made a part of every small moment of life can make a huge difference in one's life by highly reducing the pressure and depression.

According to recent scientific approaches, negativity leads a person to negative emotions and may make him choose wrong paths often. However, positivity boosts productivity and self-worth in a person. We have seen in the popular show, Brain Games how positive and negative thinking affects one's performance.

When we talk about how to become successful the first advice given is to think positively because it causes sustainability. So why not provide life with a minor but effective change of finding positivity in every moment.

On road to self-reliance

Bhavya, Class IX,Ningania Vidya Mandir, Panchkula

The simple meaning of being self-reliant is to be dependent on oneself. But the question arises is that whether anyone can be self-reliant in today's world of globalisation? Maybe No.

So self-reliant means to be dependent on others in such a way that there is no loss of prestige and integrity of the nation or person. But some people find another meaning of the term. They think that self-reliant refers to be not dependent on anyone totally. Days before our PM Mr Narendra Modi gave an influential speech on the topic while addressing the nation, he laid stress on buying India-made goods, and to create a self dependent nation. And tried to explain the correct meaning of being self-reliant. If we wish to be self-reliant then we must not that much depend on anyone such that our prestige becomes endangered.

So let us count some advantages of becoming self-reliant. First one is more jobs. Employment opportunities will increase because if we will use our country's goods then the Indian factories and companies will get a boost and more people will get employed.

Second is increase in self confidence. So Indian factorieswill produce more products, in this way India will run on the path of self dependence.

Third is rise of moral character. Our character will surely increase in worldview. A little disadvantage is that the transaction of thoughts will be blocked. If our country has to become developed then it has to keep pace with the thoughts of the other countries and India will be able to walk step by step with the world.

So, we must be self-reliant to keep our country at the top. If every citizen of India thinks of becoming self-reliant then the country will be self-reliant in the true sense. Mahatma Gandhi said: Be the change you want to see in the world. So my message to all of you is that try to become selfRsreliant and be a part of it. And contribute yourself to make India a selfRsreliant nation. And then see the change.

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Be the change - The Tribune

Lab Rat dev skeptical of multiplatform launches and the virtues of virtual events – GamesIndustry.biz

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After last year's launch of the puzzle game Kine, Chump Squad founder Gwen Frey was kicking around ideas for her next project.

"I didn't think I would do another puzzle game," Frey tells GamesIndustry.biz. "I thought I would go for something bigger. I've always really loved strategy and tactics games so I thought I would go for something bigger, maybe grow Chump Squad, maybe get an office."

Then COVID-19 came along and punched a hole in all those plans. Frey says she would have needed funding to grow the studio as she hoped to, and that would have meant a lot of air travel to raise capital right around March, just as the disease was declared a pandemic and swaths of the US and Europe went into lockdown.

So she shelved those plans and instead started up a game jam with some friends in puzzle designer circles.

"For the game jam we started making a puzzle game and I just absolutely fell in love with it and kept pushing on it, and that became Lab Rat."

To hear Frey describe it, Lab Rat is very clearly a product of its time. Set for release early next year, Lab Rat sees players put in the role of humans made to run through a series of brain-teasing tests by an antagonistic AI. While it's a single-player game, there is an online component to allow for touches like having the AI poll players and sharing the resulting survey responses with each other.

"It was the beginning of lockdown, sitting here on my computer alone every day, and the only way I could communicate with human beings is through this computer in front of me," Frey says. "Every interaction I have with other people is filtered through social media. Everything I do is being tracked and monitored. I'm being put into a filter bubble on Google where all I ever see is the things the algorithms think I want to see.

"I just had this feeling that this is oppressive and absurd, and this is what human interaction is becoming. I wanted to make a game that captured that..."

"I just had this feeling that this is oppressive and absurd, and this is what human interaction is becoming. I wanted to make a game that captured that, not in a way that's negative or dark, but kind of light-hearted. I wanted to poke fun at the absurdity of the situation."

The game's marketing plan likewise reflects our current moment. Lab Rat was announced during the virtual Gamescom event last month, as part of the Awesome Indies showcase. Gamescom was just one in a steady parade of formerly in-person events to roll out online replacements this summer, and while there have been some indications the online-only editions can still provide effective marketing, Frey has some reservations on that front.

"I'm nervous about online events replacing in-person events for a lot of reasons. When I try to get a game into a local event, say PAX in Boston, I'm submitting my game and only competing with other people who could possibly show up at PAX in Boston. And I've never submitted a game for PAX Australia because I know I can't get there. When people have to physically show up at these events, it does have a limiting effect on which indies can apply there, which is good and bad."

(Note: The PAX events are run by GamesIndustry.biz parent ReedPOP.)

On the one hand, creators far outside the development hubs where such events often take place now have fewer economic and geographic barriers preventing them from appearing. On the other hand, Frey is somewhat concerned that when every indie developer can put their game into every show, the pool of games actually featured by organizers may shrink.

"My theory is very soon we're going to have a situation where only the best indies ever have their games shown, and there's no place anymore for somebody who's making something more niche or more experimental to showcase their work or get noticed, because we're having a kind of winners-take-all situation right now with these online events," Frey says.

She's also skeptical about whether online-only conferences will continue to attract consumers the way in-person events do.

"There's just been so many [virtual] events that gamers are getting bored of them. They aren't special"

"I just don't think they are as compelling for gamers," Frey says. "There's just been so many events that gamers are getting bored of them. They aren't special. There's something very special to driving to a place and physically being in a place and experiencing being at PAX, hearing the noises, playing multiplayer games with your friends. It's so much more special and impressive when you're playing these things in person, and that just is not the case when you're doing an online festival.

"I think as time goes on, they're less and less interesting and they're no longer the exceptional marketing opportunity they used to be. I feel like if I miss a given online show this weekend, there will be another one in two weeks."

Even if in-person events were still happening, Lab Rat would have a different marketing and launch strategy than Kine did despite both being puzzle games.

One of the biggest differences is due to the number of platforms Frey is targeting for launch. Kine was an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC when it launched last October, but it also launched the same day on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. And then the Stadia version was ready for the streaming service's debut the next month.

For a small indie developer without the assistance of a publisher, that was challenging.

"Not only did it mean I was spending a lot of time at the end of development focusing on making sure the game worked on every storefront, but it also meant iterating became extremely difficult because if I ever wanted to make a change to the game, I had to update it in several places," Frey said. "Updating your game on any given storefront isn't a big deal, but knowing you have to push an update to five or six storefronts is overwhelming. It makes it a lot harder to iterate and develop from that point on."

Another big timesink of the multiplatform launch was addressing the litany of platform-specific quirks that would pop up.

"All of a sudden you have to test what your UI looks like in German on the Switch when the Switch is in handheld mode and the text could possibly be overflowing the UI boxes," Frey said. "You just have all of these edge cases that come up when you try to do everything all at once."

Frey says one of the nice things about an exclusivity deal (beyond the funding that comes with it) is that it can give a developer time to test and iterate almost like a beta release, so that when it arrives on larger storefronts, it's a tighter, more complete experience.

"What I found is because I had to do everything at once, I didn't have the time to focus on... reaching out to specific press for each platform"

Because the Epic deal only secured exclusivity on PC formats, Frey didn't get the benefit of that sort of iteration before the console launches, something she says she deeply regrets.

Frey also found that in her experience, the marketing boost that conventional wisdom says can be gained from a simultaneous release was overstated.

"I thought I would get more of a marketing push if I could say it was on all the platforms at the same time," she says. "I thought there would be more venues that were Nintendo-specific, for instance, that would cover the game and people would see the game in all these different places. But what I found is because I had to do everything at once, I didn't have the time to focus on just reaching out to Nintendo-specific press, or just reaching out to specific press for each platform.

"So in the end, I don't really feel like I got that effect anyway. And I think if I had a publisher that was managing those marketing relationships and could amplify the fact the game was coming out on all these platforms, perhaps it would have made a lot more sense to come out on all these platforms at once. But I think as a small studio, it was a mistake to try to take on quite that much all at once."

Whatever misgivings Frey may have with parts of the game's marketing or launch strategy, she makes a point of saying they haven't soured her on the game itself.

"I'm extremely happy with Kine," she says. "I'm proud of what I accomplished there. I did update the game slightly a couple months after launch on all the platforms. I just feel like that whole process would have been a lot smoother if I had only launched on one platform initially."

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Lab Rat dev skeptical of multiplatform launches and the virtues of virtual events - GamesIndustry.biz

The original Myst is coming to VR – The Verge

Myst creator Cyan Worlds is adapting its classic adventure game to virtual reality. Facebook and Cyan announced that Myst will get a VR remake for the Oculus Quest later this year, launching after the release of the upcoming Oculus Quest 2 headset.

The VR version of Myst is described as a reimagining of the 1993 original, which was created using Apples HyperCard software. It includes new art, audio, and interactions, plus a randomized puzzle option for an added challenge. A trailer offers a broad reminder of what Myst is about, but it doesnt show us what the game will actually look like or how it will play.

Cyan has already made a foray into VR. Obduction was a spiritual successor to Myst that optionally supported virtual reality. It was released in 2016 alongside the very first current-generation headsets, and while it had a gorgeous design and clever puzzles, Cyan was still trying to balance making a non-VR game that worked in VR. That compromise doesnt exist with Mysts remake, and Cyan can draw on a wider set of conventions for VR puzzle games.

See the rest here:
The original Myst is coming to VR - The Verge


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