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Hickey on hockey: Kovalchuk creates line puzzle when injured Habs return – Montreal Gazette

The acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk was designed to be a simple, short-term deal based on mutual need.

With four of their top nine forwards on the injured-reserve list when the Russian was signed on Jan. 3, the Canadiens desperately needed help up front.

After being cut loose by the Los Angeles Kings, Kovalchuk needed to prove he was still capable of playing in the National Hockey League.

It was a classic short-term rental with little risk for the Canadiens. If he helped the team, that was good. If he was, indeed, washed up, it was costing the team a mere US$700,000.

Canadiens Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates with Victor Mete after scoring against the Flyers in Philadelphia on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020.Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

Seven games into his tenure, the Kovalchuk experiment is a qualified success. He has moved seamlessly into the lineup and scored two goals in Thursdays 4-1 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia. That gives him three goals and four assists a point-a-game pace and he has been embraced by his new teammates. Hes happy in Montreal, although he said Thursday his goal was to help the Canadiens win and he noted the teams record since his arrival is three wins and four losses.

Theres work to be done, Kovalchuk said.

And that brings us to the big question: Whats in store for Kovalchuk in Montreal?

For starters, we have to look at the immediate future. When the Canadiens emerge from the bye week and the all-star break, they should have a full complement of healthy bodies. Joel Armia returned Thursday and Jonathan Drouin is scheduled to be back after the break. And we can hope Brendan Gallagher has recovered from his headaches, which, the Canadiens insisted, are not a by-product of the concussion he suffered on New Years Eve in Carolina.

When everyone is healthy, the dilemma facing Claude Julien is how to fit all the pieces into the puzzle.

Kovalchuk has been playing on the top line with Phil Danault and Tomas Tatar. Thats normally Gallaghers spot and presumably Julien would want him back there chasing a third consecutive 30-goal season.

The second line features rookie Nick Suzuki between Max Domi and Armia. There will have to be an adjustment when Drouin moves into one of the top wing positions. Suzukis development should be the key here. He has to remain in the middle and that means Domi, Drouin, Armia and Kovalchuk are all in the mix for second-line duty on the wings.

Julien could move Armia to the third line and resurrect the Finnish Connection with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and the hard-working Artturi Lehkonen. This is a potentially dangerous third line, but Julien still has to find room for whoever is left over from the second-line juggling act.

As for the fourth line, the Canadiens should look to the future and install Ryan Poehling at centre between Nate Thompson and a player to be determined later. Thompson would be available to take the important draws, while Poehling would have the opportunity to work on the other responsibilities that go with the position.

Thats the short-term situation.

After describing himself as a soldier Thursday night, Kovalchuk was asked if he was interested in re-enlisting.

He certainly seemed open to the idea about returning next season. He talked about liking Montreal and meeting team owner Geoff Molson. At 36, he doesnt fit into Marc Bergevins youth movement, but his younger teammates have talked about his willingness to share his experience and knowledge and he would be valuable as a teacher for Suzuki and Kotkaniemi.

The key and this will also the case for Tatar will be to find the right money and the right term to satisfy both parties.

Kovalchuk has expressed his gratitude to the Canadiens for allowing him to resurrect his career and that might play into the equation if the Canadiens decide they want to keep Kovalchuk. But, as we learned a few years go with Alexander Radulov, gratitude only goes so far.

Armia doesnt miss a step: When a player has been on the sidelines for 11 games, theres a tendency to ease him back into the lineup with a lighter than usual workload.

That wasnt the case with Armia on Thursday.

Armia was fortunate he has was out with a hand injury and he was able to continue skating and maintain his cardiovascular conditioning. He needed that against the Flyers.

Armia played 29 shifts, matching Danault for the most in the game. He was on the power play, killed penalties and was on the ice for 20:49. The only forward with more ice time was Danault at 21:21. Armia didnt pick up a point, but he made an impact with five shots on goal, three hits, two takeaways and a blocked shot.

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Hickey on hockey: Kovalchuk creates line puzzle when injured Habs return - Montreal Gazette

The Vex Mythoclast Is The Only Destiny 2 Puzzle Reward That Makes Sense – Forbes


Yesterday, I wrote an entire article about a range of possible prizes for the ongoing Corridors of Time puzzle the community is working on (and nearly finished with). They ranged from the amazing but unrealistic (a new planet) to the truly terrible (an emblem) to somewhere in between (a legendary or exotic sword).

But doing a bit more research and thinking about this more clearly, I have come up with one final answer that isnt on that first list at all. And yet I think its a balance of something that would both be hugely satisfying to players, thematically consistent with the puzzle and at least somewhat plausible as a reward.

Its no secret, given the title and image above, its the Vex Mytholocast.

Some of this article is going to be completely spoiler-free as I talk about the Mythoclast, but later I cant really get around referencing some datamined dialogue about the puzzle. There are lines that dont spell out the exact reward, but they do reveal who is in the grave at the end of the puzzle. Ill put up spoiler warnings before I get there.

The current puzzle

The Vex Mythoclast is a hugely beloved Destiny 1 weapon that was the original exotic raid reward from the Vault of Glass after killing Atheon. It was a primary fusion with elemental damage and the game had never really seen anything like it, nor has it since.

There has been a lot of focus on swords for the prize here because well, theres a sword sitting on the damn tomb which you can easily see. So if there is a weapon reward for the quest, that seems likely. This has led people to talk about how it might bring back the three exotic Destiny 1 swords Bolt Caster, Raze Lighter or Dark Drinker.

And yet thematically, this is kind of inconsistent. Those swords were from the Taken King and their quests involved the Hive and Oryx. This is a purely Vex based puzzle and this entire season is based around Vex and Cabal without Hive anywhere to be found. It would be kind of weird to bring back these weapons in a way that has zero to do with their origins in D1.

The Vex Mythoclast is another story. I need you to read a few different things here.


Mythoclast Weapon Description: ...a causal loop within the weapon's mechanism, suggesting that the firing process somehow binds space and time into...

Mythoclast Grimoire Card: Some legends live forever. Others are overwritten - reshaped by the sheer will of those who believe that any ordeal can be conquered, any foe vanquished, any god cast down.

The Mythoclast is a Vex instrument from some far-flung corner of time and space, mysteriously fit for human hands. Its origins, mechanism of action, and ultimate purpose remain unknown. Perhaps it will reveal itself to you, in time...

Mythoclast Word Origins: The name "Mythoclast" is derived from the Greek words "mthos", or "fable/legend" and klasts or "broken in pieces". Thus the literal definition of the name is "Breaker of Myths" or Destroyer of Myths

Read that and tell me that at least thematically, a mysterious Vex weapon fit for human hands with unknown origins and references to casual loops and shattered bits of space and time doesnt fit with the current Corridors of Time and this maddening puzzle quest perfectly.

Its a reward that fits with both the nature of this puzzle and the race that has created it, the Vex. It is a high profile enough weapon to satisfy fans who have watched/worked endlessly on this puzzle, but not so big that its impossible to consider like an entirely new planet. I would consider it a fitting reward for Destinys biggest puzzle in history.

Now, I want to briefly conclude with those datamined spoilers I talked about earlier. Some support this idea, others may not.

The tomb

Heres Saint-14 talking about the tombs weapon, with the tomb being our tomb in some far-flung future that may never even happen, or that may be altered by our very solving of this puzzle.

Ive marked this grave with one of his favorite weapons, shattered in that final confrontation. It used to be mine. All who find what weve left here please leave it be. Unless. Unless youre still out there somewhere. Youve performed miracles before. In which case, take it. And come back to us. And well kill what killed you. Or die trying.

There are some conflicting statements here that either do or dont support this idea:

This is listed as one of our favorite weapons, and I think for most Destiny 1 players, the Mythoclast certainly fits that bill. Im less sure about say, the exotic swords there.

Saint says the weapon used to be his. This is confusing, because in all my research the only weapon I can ever confirm Saint as definitely using is Perfect Paradox. I cant find any evidence Saint would have used the Mythoclast. But you can say the same for like, any other exotic weapon too, unless its one we havent seen yet (like a Sundial Sword from Saints armory that includes the current seasonal loot pool of Gallant Charge, Steelfeather Repeater, etc.). (Update: Im being told that Saint also used Gjallarhorn and the upcoming Bastion exotic, so, hmm).

Saint says it was shattered in the final confrontation that presumably killed us. Youve just read about how the clast part of Mythoclast means broken in pieces. Also, the sword that is sitting on the tomb sure does not look shattered.

Saint says he has marked the tomb with the weapon. Again, this would seem to reference the visible sword on top of it, as you cannot really mark something with an item that would go inside the tomb. The sword appears to be a marker, along with our ghost. So that doesnt seem to fit.

Ultimately, I am rooting for Mythoclast. I think it would be a huge missed opportunity for Bungie here if this wasnt Mythoclast, as it fits so perfectly with the nature of this puzzle that its hard not to see it as the perfect, satisfying prize for this massive quest. But we should know for sure in the next day or two, at the rate the puzzle is being solved now. Stay tuned.

Follow meon Twitter,FacebookandInstagram. Pre-order my new sci-fi novelHerokiller, and read my first series,The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also onaudiobook.

Originally posted here:
The Vex Mythoclast Is The Only Destiny 2 Puzzle Reward That Makes Sense - Forbes

Rabalais: 2020 forecast looks cloudy, but 2019 showed LSU isn’t going back to its old ways – The Advocate

To the last, everything went LSUs way this football season.

Even the skies, which before Saturday morning were forecasted to spit rain on LSUs national championship celebration parade, looked gray and swollen but only ever meted out a few misty drops on LSU fans as they made their way home.

As Tiger Stadium public address announcer Dan Borne always reminds us, it never rains in Tiger Stadium. Nor, apparently, even right outside when thousands are gathered to cheer on their champions one more time.

Borne more than anyone had some heavy verbal lifting to do Saturday: It was his task to list all the achievements, all the awards, from LSUs 2019-20 national championship football season.

There were so many things to mention, those of us who were there are lucky we still are not.

Not that the thousands of LSU fans the 15,000 or so who shoehorned their way into the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and the thousands more who were turned away for safety reasons werent looking for a reason to keep this season from finally, completely drawing to a close.

Virtually everyone and everything associated with the Tigers got a lusty standing ovation. Or five, as seemed to be the case for Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. And Louisianas favorite new parlor game is trying to figure out how closely you might be related to coach Ed Orgeron.

Mais, you know, I think hes my fifth cousin once removed on my Tante Clotilles side!

Campus filled on the morning of the parade, the first of its kind in over a decade.

No one really wanted it to end for two reasons: to gather around the feel-good campfire still burning brightly from LSUs perfect, unprecedented season; and fear of the future to come.

To be sure, the Tigers are going to take a step back in 2020. How could they not? LSU lost Burrow, along with key seniors like defensive end Rashard Lawrence, guards Damien Lewis and Adrian Magee, and cornerback Kristin Fulton, plus the nine juniors who shouted We won! Goodbye! and exited early for the NFL draft.

Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is gone, too, not to a similar role in the NFL as long expected but to be head coach at Baylor. Does Aranda really like recruiting that much? The deep-pocketed folks in Waco are about to find out. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady were told never did, so there was little way he could have been expected to turn down an offensive coordinator job with the Carolina Panthers. With the NFLs current predilection for coaches so young they have to be driven to work by their moms, it would be no surprise to see the 30-year-old Brady as an NFL head coach before he turns 35.

All of that may burnish LSUs image as a strong player and coaching destination. But it wont help the Tigers gain a critical first down at Florida next season. Nor stop Alabamas offense and force a key punt this fall in Tiger Stadium with the game on the line.

To borrow a line from the great Peter O'Toole, as I totter into antiquity I will likely never see a team this like again. But it doesnt mean LSU cant be great again. In fact, I fully expect LSU will be back in the College Football Playoff challenging for another national title within the next two or three seasons.

It began with an audacious promise from a still unheralded quarterback of an untried offense: The team would score 40, 50, even 60 points per game.

The reasons are threefold:

1. LSU has talent and will continue to acquire premium talent at a high rate. If you thought Orgeron was a recruiting closer par excellence before, wait until he goes into an in-home visit wearing a championship ring the size of Rhode Island.

2. LSU is paying top dollar for quality assistant coaches. For Aranda and Brady alone, LSU was likely willing to shell out about $4 million combined, plus whatever raise Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger have coming to them. Believe me, top football coaches will take notice.

3. The lasting legacy of this 2019 LSU football team, beyond all the titles and victories and shattered records, is that of a massive culture shift in the program.

LSU showed with its offense this season that it has arrived in the 21st century. A decade and a half late, perhaps, but better late than never. Brady was an enormous addition to LSUs offensive brain trust, but he wasnt the only coach out there who could help bring RPO and cutting-edge passing concepts to Baton Rouge. And with him gone, those arent things that will get packed away.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump paid tribute to the national champion Louisiana State University football team on Friday, saying it would

Orgeron has embraced this new offensive philosophy, and thats the biggest thing. And he knows you, the LSU ticket-buying, championship T-shirt wearing, Advocate poster purchasing (shameless plug, I admit, but it helps paint the big picture) public wont stand for a regression to the Tigers power-I days of yore.

To long-time college football writer Tony Barnhart, Mr. SEC himself, this season was far more than a gigantic flash in the pan.

Yes, they can continue to do this, Barnhart said. At this level? That is a bit much to ask. But theyve made the commitment, they know what it looks like, and the fans will never let them go back. They wont be able to do this every year, but in my mind this is now their offensive identity.

And theyre not going to change.

The last piece of the puzzle will be to attract not just talent at LSUs current levels, but elite quarterbacks. As this years CFP final four proved, you MUST have one to do great things in the modern game. LSU had Burrow. Oklahoma had Jalen Hurts and Ohio State had Justin Fields, quarterbacks who got landslide by Burrow in the Heisman voting but players who could have won the trophy in many other years. And Clemson had Trevor Lawrence, who got thrown into the spin cycle by LSUs defense in the CFP title game but is also regarded as the odds-on top pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

The Advocates offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette are reopening Wednesday morning and are stocked with extras newspapers and hi

Its the piece to the puzzle that is the most elusive. But if LSU can find it again, watch out.

So revel in 2019. And dont fear 2020 too much.

LSUs next national title may not be close at hand, but it probably isnt as far away as you may think.

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Rabalais: 2020 forecast looks cloudy, but 2019 showed LSU isn't going back to its old ways - The Advocate

‘Star Trek: Picard,’ Grammys: What to Watch and Stream, Jan. 20-26 – Hollywood Reporter

'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,' 'Station 19' and 'Shrill' also debut new seasons in the week of Jan. 20.

The return of a beloved actor to one of his most famous roles, music's biggest awards show and a comedy by a rising star are among the big premieres in the week of Jan. 20. A handful of streaming favorites also return, as does a popular cable drama.

Here isThe Hollywood Reporter'srundown of some of the coming week's highlights. It would be next to impossible to watch everything, but letTHRpoint the way to worthy options each week. All times are ET/PT unless noted.

The Big Show

The last time Patrick Stewart appeared in a Star Trek property was in the 2002 feature film Nemesis, the final one featuring the Next Generation cast. That changes Thursday, when Stewart once again plays Jean-Luc Picard in CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard.

The series will pick up some 15 years after the events of Nemesis, with Picard retired to a vineyard. He will, of course, be drawn back into space, even if he or the Federation is reluctant to. Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Evan Evagora, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera and Harry Treadaway also star in the series, and the trailer below features several familiar Next Generation and Voyager faces.

Also on streaming

Returning: After a critically hailed first season, Hulu's Shrill, starring Saturday Night Live regular Aidy Bryant, drops its second season Friday. Also back are season two of Family Reunion (Monday), season three of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the final episodes of The Ranch (both Friday) on Netflix.

New: Gwyneth Paltrow brings cameras into The Goop Lab (Friday, Netflix); October Faction, based on the comic book of the same title, arrives Thursday on Netflix.

On broadcast

Grammys: The Recording Academy is undergoing turmoil in the executive ranks, but that's unlikely to spill over into the annual Grammy Awards (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT Sunday, Jan. 26). Lizzo, Billie Eilish who are both slated to perform during the show and Lil Nas X are the leading nominees; Alicia Keys hosts.

New: Fox comedy Outmatched (8:30 p.m. Thursday) stars Maggie Lawson and Jason Biggs as parents of four kids three of whom are a great deal smarter than they are. Tisha Campbell and Finesse Mitchell also star.

Returning: Grey's Anatomy spinoff Station 19 begins its third season at 8 p.m. Thursday on ABC; The CW's Legends of Tomorrow officially kicks off its season at 9 p.m. Tuesday after being part of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover a week ago.

On cable

New: Golden Globe winner Awkwafina created and stars in Awkwafina is Nora From Queens (10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Comedy Central), a comedy inspired by her life growing up in Queens. B.D. Wong, Lori Tan Chinn and SNL's Bowen Yang also star. THR chief critic Daniel Fienberg calls the show "a fast-moving, energetic half-hour represents another promising, progressive step on a zig-zagging road to well-deserved ubiquity" for its lead.

Also new: Bravo's newest unscripted series, Spy Games (10 p.m. Monday) tasks 10 players with gathering intel on their fellow contestants and facing challenges designed by former intelligence officers.

Returning: Keegan-Michael Key hosts a rebooted Brain Games (9 p.m. Monday, National Geographic); The Bold Type (9 p.m. Tuesday, Freeform) begins its fourth season; Project Blue Book (10 p.m. Tuesday, History) looks to the skies again; and Showtime offers the double bill of The Circus and Our Cartoon President at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26.

In case you missed it

Viewers of a certain age can travel back to their childhoods with new versions of three classic kids shows (and take their kids along for the ride). Updated takes on George of the Jungle, Lassie and Mr. Magoo are streaming on CBS All Access.

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'Star Trek: Picard,' Grammys: What to Watch and Stream, Jan. 20-26 - Hollywood Reporter

Strange Platform-Puzzle Game THE PEDESTRIAN Launches On January 29th – GameTyrant

One game that is looking to bring a new style to the world of platform-puzzle games is The Pedestrian by Skookum Arts. This title lets you play as the man figure you see on various signs within the real world and then plays on that aspect for the entire set up for the games puzzles and platforms. Giving you the task of putting signs in the correct order, connecting doors and switches to the correct components, and just generally figuring out how to get from point A to B using creativity and selective resources, this strange game is going to challenge you in a new way.

If you havent heard of this game yet then the best part about learning of its existence now is that you only have to wait just over a week before it launches on Steam! If you have seen various bits of this game around before then the wait is nearing the end. Later this month, on January 29th, The Pedestrian will finally hang up the starting sign for puzzle and platform game fans to get this new styled adventure going.

I always admire when developers bring out a new concept of how a game can be applied to the real world and this is certainly an original idea. Its like something you would expect from a Pixar film but made for gamers to enjoy. Check out the release date trailer and see what this game has to offer later this month:

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Strange Platform-Puzzle Game THE PEDESTRIAN Launches On January 29th - GameTyrant

The Destiny 2 community is still trying to solve Osiris latest puzzle – PCGamesN

This week, a new quest appeared in Destiny 2. Osiris, the Vex-obsessed warlock who lives on Mercury, invited players to explore the Corridors of Time a kind of intersection between realities and timelines that the Vex use to show up wherever and whenever they choose. Once inside, players have found one of the longest puzzles to ever show up in Destiny, and the community is still working out the solution in the hopes of revealing its ultimate reward which remains a mystery at the time of this writing.

The Corridors of Time puzzle has several layers to it. When players first began heading back into the Corridors of Time, there didnt appear to be any specific direction to travel in or activity to accomplish. But players soon noticed symbols placed around the chambers that corresponded to symbols displayed on the new obelisks that have appeared in the EDZ, Nessus, and Tangled Shore patrol zones. Running through the doors in the Corridors of Time in the sequences shown on the obelisks would take players to a room containing a vault, which contained a new bit of Destiny lore.

So far, so good. In those final vault rooms, though, players noticed changing patterns of hexagons and symbols hints that there was more to this puzzle than a dozen or so new pages of lore. By matching up the symbols players saw on the floor in their runs, the community pieced together a map that revealed another sequence of eleven symbols. That sequence, in turn, would lead players to yet another vault room and at this point, players all began seeing different images on the floor.

At this point, the puzzle becomes far too complex for any one person or fireteam to solve, and so Destinys puzzle-solving community has been busy compiling screenshots players have submitted, inputting the sequences of symbols they find into a master spreadsheet. That spreadsheet checks for matching sequences, and connects them to an ever-expanding new map that will, presumably, eventually reveal an extremely long string of symbols that will guide players to the final treasure hidden in the Corridors of Time.

Right now, it looks like this:

Some players believe these sequences change daily or hourly, but whats clear is that everyone can generate new map fragments that add jigsaw pieces to the puzzle and will eventually light the final path through the Corridors of Time. The map already contains thousands of individual images.

Bungie has delighted in adding opaque puzzles into Destiny 2, and the games raids often involve working out weird sequences of steps to perform in order to progress, but theres never been one quite like this. The infamous Niobe Labs puzzle had to be simplified when Bungie realized it had neglected to include critical information for solving its puzzle a year ago, and only one team could end up winning the prize at the end of Warminds Valkyrie of Dawn puzzle in 2018.

This time, as streamer Say No To Rage points out, big-name streamers like xGladd are working out the solution alongside the community, with everyone adding information and in some cases, pulling all-nighters to do so to the dataset that will eventually provide the solution. Thats pretty cool.

Well have to wait and see what these dedicated explorers discover at the end of the Corridors of Time if they discover anything at all. Theres no guarantee yet that theyre even on the right path. Time will tell.

Continue reading here:
The Destiny 2 community is still trying to solve Osiris latest puzzle - PCGamesN

Five of the Best: Blocks –

Five of the Best is a weekly series about the bits of games we overlook. Things like crowds, potions, mountains, hands. Things we barely notice while we're playing but can recall many years later because, it turns out, they're fundamental to our memory of the game. Well, now is the time to celebrate them!

Today we're celebrating...

Blocks! Or do I mean cubes? Don't! We had a whole argument about this. Cubes are a kind of block, as far as I'm concerned, and so are other shapes like the lower-case L Tetris block. If we confined ourselves only to cubes, we'd have to talk about the Companion Cube from Portal, again, and then I'd be forced to counterbalance it with Peter Molyneux's Curiosity cube just to be mean. But no, I'd never be so cheeky as to put a red herring in the list...

Be sure to share your best blocks in the comments below. Happy Friday!

I'd like to talk about the T-Spin. This is, quite simply, placing a T-tetromino (a Tetris block to you and me) into a T-slot, then rotating it before the piece is Locked Down. Locked Down in Tetris lore is a proper noun, and therefore must be capitalised and I am very much on board with that, because it makes me say the word in a sort of fist pump kind of way and as any Tetris aficionado knows, Locked Down is the full stop on your sentence. There's no going back.

T-Spins are tricksy kinds of things, but they're so satisfying because they, in most Tetris video games, give you bonus points of some kind and, let's be honest, if you do one you're showing off. In competitive multiplayer Tetris games they often do wonders to mess up your opponent(s). And as we all know, the meaning of life can be found in the act of winning while showing off.

What if two highly skilled Tetris players only used T-spins in a battle with each other?

They are also magic in that very special Tetris way. Tetris is a game that turns simple blocks - the kind of blocks I have bought for my children to play with as babies - into multifaceted, multi-purpose puzzle cogs. Even on the face of it, the T-block is simply just a T shape that's doing a squat. It is one of the most versatile, useful blocks in the game, because it can fit so many gaps. T-Spins evolve the T-block into the block's final form.

T-Spins even change the way you think about the screen. Normally, you build up a layer of blocks to fill most of the screen, leaving a single line free for, hopefully, Tetris after Tetris. Setting up T-Spins involves mentally dividing the screen up into three, building a block with a gap - almost like a chip off the old block - on the left-hand two-thirds, and placing a Z-block on the right hand side. Then, as your T-block falls, inevitably, towards the gap, rotate it to slide it in. Boom. T-Spin!

So, here's to the T-Spin and the T-block. Name a more iconic duo in video games. Take your time. This one isn't Locked Down yet.

Wesley Yin-Poole

That Minecraft would make the list is unquestionable. The question is which Minecraft block to single out? The dirt block, the brown one topped with green? It's definitely the most famous Minecraft block. It is Minecraft. But is it the coolest block? The obsidian block is pretty cool - literally it's cooled lava. And it's black, and all cool things are black. And you need it to get to the Nether, the hellish other realm in the game. But no, it's a bit too obvious.

For me, it's a simple wood block. I'm a plain kinda guy. I like Captain America. Seeing a wood block has a strong effect on me. When I see one, I see humble beginnings and new adventures. A wood block makes me want to start again, to get back to using wooden tools to make my Ikea cabin in a picturesque location - in the woods, down by a lake, on a mountain top - and concern myself only with staying alive. No mining, no metal, no complications.

It doesn't last, of course, as the hunger for progress inevitably always takes over. But for a while, the simplicity is bliss.


There's probably a name for it, but for me it's the Fuse block. It's a special block in Lumines, which is a game about clearing blocks from the screen by matching their colours. The idea is that blocks of two colours fall and you rotate them and place them so that they form squares of one solid colour. Then a timeline sweeps through and removes them and you get on with your life. Beautiful!

But the Fuse block is special. It allows you to clear blocks of the same colour that aren't in squares. This in turn means that you can sort of thread colours through the growing mountain of blocks, waiting for the Fuse that will trigger them all. Voila! All your greens disappear in one go - all the greens that are touching, anyway. This in turn causes a collapse in all the oranges, say, and then they go next in a great thundering wave.

The Fuse block encourages you to take risks rather than play it safe. Fine. Loads of puzzle games do that. But it also turns a game about falling blocks into a game about dynamite, and for that I love it, love it, love it.

Christian Donlan

There's an artform to using the Fake Item Box. It's not a showy weapon. It's a sneaky one. And when it works? Gosh. It's the most immensely gratifying thing in the game.

It's not just that you've caused someone to crash. Anyone can do that. It's the proper placement of the thing, clustered amongst real Item Blocks, hiding like a cuckoo egg in the nest.

So dramatic!

It's the knowledge your opponent drove into your Fake Item Block unaware of what was to come, perhaps until the last second, perhaps only when they began tumbling over, wheels spinning, careening off the track. It's the sequence of emotions you sense is now playing out in their head - their hope of a useful item turned into a shock of realisation, despair, shame. 'Why hadn't I seen it coming?' you can almost hear them scream.

And the satisfaction you caused this all.

Fake Item Boxes were last seen in Mario Kart Wii. Then Nintendo took them out. Cowards.

Tom Phillips

Alan Wake is sort of a puzzle game about blocks. But only because it's a game about a writer with writer's block. Poor Alan's gone on holiday and can't do his work. Then I think his wife goes missing. Or maybe she doesn't. And maybe there are creatures made of darkness and a bit with a lighthouse. No matter! He can't do any writing! Writer's block.

Writer's block is a lovely phrase. I get it: they're blocked and the words can't flow. It's sort of plumbing-based. But I love that word block. It makes me think of an object on the floor of a room you're passing through and you're not looking where you're going - of course you aren't; you're a writer - and you trip over it. Writer's block. That hot gaseous feeling inside the head. The eyeballs are angry and grainy and seem to be boiling. The nose feels thoroughly stuffed. No words are coming. Poor Alan.

Christian Donlan

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Five of the Best: Blocks -

Literally Everything About Borderlands 3s Current Farming Event Should Be Permanent – Forbes

Borderlands 3

While I have been sucked into the Destiny 2 puzzle solving black hole, I had to come up for air to have a bit of a laugh about Borderlands 3s new Farming Frenzy event. First, I mean, farming is the entire purpose of the game once youve beaten the story once, so thats kind of like FIFA having a play soccer!! event, but second, all the temporary changes in this are things that should not be temporary changes at all.

Quite literally every single item in this Borderlands 3 farming event should be a permanent change to the game, as it addresses many of the core issues with the current farming loop. Lets go through them:

Rare Spawns now always show up in their location This is a needed change because even if we overlook the repetitiveness of trekking to a random spot to fight one minor enemy, it is way less enjoyable to do so when they arent even spawning 80% of the time. This increases grind time in a way that is painfully un-fun, and these should not be rare spawns, they should just be unique spawns, and always be there.

Bosses And Rare Spawns now drop items from their unique loot pools more often Again, another much needed change that should be permanent. I forget exactly what the old drop rate was for these unique boss pool weapons, but I think it was something crazy low like 2 or 3 percent. That means you can run these farms and see 0-2 copies of something in dozens and dozens of kills, and forget getting the rolls and anointments you want. Its been way too low for supposedly dedicated farms.

Borderlands 3

Anointed legendary drop rates have increased Again, this is another permanent change that needs to be made because very quickly the Borderlands 3 endgame turns into Anointment and roll farming, not just I need one copy of this legendary drop. You will quickly reach the point where if a legendary is not anointed you probably wont even look at it, and rate have needed to be increased for a while now especially when you consider the full range of just how many possible anointments and roll combos there are for each piece of loot.

Maliwan Takedown now scales to total number of players Gearbox is billing this is a separate event for some reason, just one going on at the same time, but no, I have no idea why you would go to the trouble of developing player number scaling for an event like the Takedown only to leave it up for just two weeks before you take it away. Why on earth wouldnt you just leave that active going forward?

My theory? Gearbox is looking for a win here and the idea is that theyre going to reach the end of this event and go oh hey, everyone liked these changes so much, were going to make them permanent! and then everyone celebrates something that seemed fairly obvious from the outset. All of these are changes the game has needed for months, and its weird this is being pitched as an event rather than just a patch. If they truly do go away in two weeks, then thats very stupid. The only reason I could see that happening is if Gearbox drops a new bit of content and doesnt want people farming it too quickly. And yet I maintain that all these changes should be permanent, and it does not erase the grind for a perfect build, it just makes it at least mildly attainable. Plus, Gearbox keeps messing people up by nerfing powerful builds and guns they already spent a ton of time farming for.

So yeah, all of this needs to stay, not just be a farming event. I guess well find out in two weeks.

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Literally Everything About Borderlands 3s Current Farming Event Should Be Permanent - Forbes

Nat Geo Renews Brain Games & Running Wild With Bear Grylls TCA – Deadline

Nat Geo said at its TCA session today that it has picked up new seasons of the Keegan-Michael Key-hosted Brain Games and adventure docuseries Running Wild with Bear Grylls.

Brain Games [and] Running Wild with Bear Grylls are emblematic of our unscripted programming strategy highly entertaining, personality-driven premium programming that lives up to the National Geographic brand, National Geographic Global Television Networks President Courteney Monroe said. We are thrilled to greenlight the continuation of these franchises.

Produced by Magical Elves, the second season of Brain Games, with Key returning as host, was greenlighted ahead of its January 20 series premiere. Shot in front of a live studio audience, it challenges celebrities to realize their special brain power through fun and interactive games, illusions and social experiments that will reveal the why behind the wow.

Hollywood couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard will be featured in the premiere episode, going head-to-head in Battle of the Sexes, a series of games designed to reveal how mens and womens brains differ. Leading the second episode that night is Ted Danson, who learns how our brains distinguish fact from fiction.

Other stars set for Season 1 includeTiffany Haddish, Drew Brees, Jordan Peele, Meghan Trainor, Anthony Anderson, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jack Black, Mark Cuban, Kevin Hart and Rebel Wilson.

Nat Geo @ TCA: Deadlines Complete Coverage

Re-imagining Brain Games for Nat Geo has been the perfect project for Magical Elves. Magical Elves Co-CEOs Casey Kriley and Jo Sharon said in a statement. With Keegan as our host, the rebooted series is informative with infectious energy from the live studio audience, A-list celebrity guests, interactive games and truly fascinating science. We agree with Nat Geo theres so much more to explore in a second season as we continue to have fun playing with why our brains work the way they do.

Running Wild with Bear Grylls,which moved to Nat Geo from NBC last year, is returning for its sixth season. The pickup comes ahead of its January 21 season finale. In the current season, world-renowned adventurer Bear Grylls traversed croc-infested mangroves in the Gulf of Panama with Brie Larson, experienced the ancient art of trout tickling with Channing Tatum in the mountains of Norway, ate ants and then climbed a mountain in the Swiss Alps with free soloist Alex Honnold and drank milk directly from a goats udder with Armie Hammer in Sardinia. The season finale will feature Zachary Quinto on a treacherous adventure through the dense Panamanian jungle during tropical storm season.

Nat Geo also said today that Season 2 of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted will premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday, May 10. Produced by Studio Ramsay, the series features Gordon Ramsay journeying across the globe to unearth world cultures through food and adventure.

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3 brain games boost memory, focus, and flexible thinking – Futurity: Research News

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Three digital games can help children and adults improve their cognitive skills, say the researchers who created them.

They designed and developed the gamesavailable online and in the iOS and Google Play app storesto help users brains work more efficiently. While some games falsely claim to improve cognitive skills, these three games have actually proven to help users boost memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility, the new research shows.

Can games actually have positive effects on players? We believe they can, and we designed three games to support learners in developing cognitive skills that researchers have identified as essential for success in daily life, executive functions, says game co-creator Jan L. Plass, professor of digital media and learning sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development at New York University.

The researchers developed the games as a result of a four-year research project. The goal of the research was to design targeted computer games that improve cognitive skillsspecifically, executive functions like memory and inhibitory control. Upon discovering that the games successfully improved executive functions after as little play as two hours, the scholars wanted to make them available to the general public for free.

While some children have access to the best schools and resources, this is not the case for many families from less affluent communities across the nation. We hope these games can help close the gap that this lack of opportunity has created, says Plass.

The researchers developed three online games: Gwakkamol, CrushStations, and All You Can ET. Each of these brain training games support a different executive function.

Unlike other games, our apps were designed from the ground up by a team of developmental psychologists, neuroscience researchers, learning scientists, and game designers to train cognitive skills, says Bruce D. Homer, a professor of educational psychology in the Graduate Center at City University of New York.

The researchers designed the first game, Gwakkamol, to train inhibitory control, a subskill of executive functions. Inhibitory control is the ability to control attention, behavior, thoughts, and/or emotions.

In the game, players are instructed to smash the avocados that pop up on the screen while avoiding any of the avocados wearing hatssome of the avocados in the game have spikey hats, hard hats, or electric hats on top of their heads. As a player gets to higher levels in the game, more avocados appear on the screen and the speed in which players must smash them increases.

Each time a player smashes a hatless avocado they gain points, and adversely, they lose points when they smash an avocado wearing a hat. Gwakkamol forces players to focus their attention and respond quickly and deliberately (by smashing hatless avocados) to gain points.

CrushStations, which involves crustaceans rather than avocados, focuses on training working memory. Working memory is responsible for temporarily holding and processing information. It plays a major role in how humans use and remember information they learn on a daily basis.

To help train working memory, CrushStationswhich takes place in the oceanrequires each player to remember the color and type of creatures on the screen to free them from a hungry octopus. If a player accurately remembers the color and type of crustacean in front of the octopus, the animal goes free. However, if a player is unable to remember both the color and type of creature, the crustacean is captured and eaten by the octopus. The game increases in difficulty by giving players more creatures to remember and more difficult sequences to process.

The third game is called All You Can ET. The researchers designed this game to train cognitive flexibilitythe mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously.

In this game, players are providing aliens with food and drinks to help them survive. The challenge in this game is that the aliens frequently change their minds about whether they would like to eat or drink, depending on how many eyes they have and what color their bodies are.

For example, in one round, two-eyed orange aliens only eat cupcakes while one-eye green aliens only drink milkshakes. As the game increases in difficulty, the rules for what each alien prefers to eat or drink changes.

In addition to developing the games, the researchers published a series of articles reporting on the effectiveness of these games.

We found replicated evidence across multiple experiments that playing our games for two hours causes improvements in executive function skills as compared to a control group that plays an unrelated game, says Richard E. Mayer of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

This is one of the few scientific experiments showing the benefits of game-based training on executive function skills such as being able to shift from one task to another or being able to keep track of a series of events. This work shows the benefits of designing games based on the cognitive theory of game-based training.

As next steps, the scholars plan to continue research and build out virtual reality versions of the games. Together, they have also already edited a handbook of game-based learning. The handbook, published by MIT Press, will be available on February 4th and includes the results from this research as well as a myriad of other studies on games and learning.

The most recent papers appear in Learning and Instruction;Reading Psychology;and Mind, Brain, and Education;as well as two in Cognitive Development (one, two).

The US Department of Educations Institute of Education Sciences funded the work. The researchers developed all three games at NYUs CREATE lab.

Source: NYU

Original Study DOI: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2019.01.005

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3 brain games boost memory, focus, and flexible thinking - Futurity: Research News

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