This Week in Geekdom

Why hello there Halloween. I didn't expect to see you quite so...soon? If faster-than-light travel were possible, I'd be inclined to say we've superseded Lorenz Transformations territory and gone straight to warp speed at the rate the second half of 2015 has gone. Just crazy. Anyhow, enough of my time-travelling ramblings and on to the Week in Geekdom!

Games

We're only a few weeks away from the release of Fallout 4. If you aren't psyched yet, perhaps this trailer will get you in the post-apocalyptic mood.


Want a challenge? Try to name all 52 of these classic video games from individual screenshots.

Movies/TV

Venturoos, we have a date for the premiere of Season 6! We'll finally be able to lay our eyes on fresh Venture Bros goodness on January 24, 2016! Can't wait that long? Perhaps the latest trailer will help tide us over.


Speaking of long-awaited trailers, we finally have a look at the upcoming season of Jessica Jones.

Science/Technology

Who's ready for this week's awesome images from around the galaxy? Check out the most complete photograph of the Milky Way that we, as a species, have been able to take to date.

And take comfort in the fact that we have images like that one, as it turns out that some of the largest structures in the universe don't...um...actually exist?

While we're on the subject of existence, a cadre of researchers believe they've come up with a viable response to Fermi's Paradox: up to 92% of all planets (and, by extension, the life on said structures) haven't actually been formed yet.

Are you a Windows user who has been patiently (or not-so-patiently) waiting for Firefox to release a 64-bit version of the browser? Well that long sojourn will come to an end on November 3rd.

The most recent printing of Physical Review Letters includes these details as to how a group of physicists were able to experimentally realize something that had only existed in the theoretical realm: a quantum Hilbert hotel.

Image source
When vocaloids and dancing around in the privacy of your living room just aren't scratching your idol itch anymore, Japanese robot-maker DMM will allow you to program your very own partner-in-fanaticism. 

File this under: What Can't 3D Printing Do? Researchers at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) have created a printable human tooth that destroys bacteria on contact with its surface, eliminating the accumulation of plaque and preventing the formation of cavities. 

Are you planning on paying a visit to a coral reef in the near future? The latest edition of Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology details why you should skip the sunscreen.

The just-discovered-three-weeks-ago Asteroid 2015 TB145 will be scoping out Earth this Halloween (presumably to observe the practice of trick-or-treating in action).

Is it possible to create your own time zone? Sort of. Read here for the story of two friends who set out to do exactly that.

General Awesomeness

The newly elected Prime Minister of Canada also happens to be a member of the Rebel Alliance.

Harry Potter will be getting the Broadway treatment next year when it becomes a two-part play debuting in London's West End.

Have an extra 60,000 GBP lying around? Perhaps you'd be interested in purchasing this newly-discovered map of Middle Earth fully annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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Q & A With the Creators of Jotun; Thunder Lotus Games

Odin knows it's been far too long since I've managed to post a review, but I promise one for the recently released Jotun is forthcoming. Recently I had a chance to exchange a few words with William Dubéon, one of the developers at Thunder Lotus Games responsible for this inspired title. If you'd like to hear a bit about the motivations behind the game or what future additions to expect read on!


GIR: How has the full release of Jotun been treating you so far? 

Will: The release has been great! We’re super happy with the reception so far. Fans and press are loving the game!

GIR: What led you to choose Vikings and Norse Mythology as the theme of your game?  I could easily see this concept working just as well with say the Egyptian Or Greek mythos (which you cited your Team also had a fascination with).

Will: I’ve always been fascinated with old stories like Beowulf and The Divine Comedy. When I started reading Norse mythology, I knew we had to make a game in this setting.

GIR: Personally one of the things I enjoy most in Jotun is the hand-drawn art style which reminded me of The Banner Saga a great deal. What made you choose to take things in that direction artistically?

Will: The first and greatest reason was that I knew some amazing 2D artists! I was lucky to be surrounded by such talent.



GIR: While the exploration aspect of game play is influenced by games like Journey combat, as you have indicated in the past, is obviously inspired by games like Shadow of the Colossus, or Dark Souls boss fights. Was it difficult finding the balance between the heavy atmosphere and slow pacing of exploring with the often frantic challenge of combat?

Will: The difference in pacing was one of the biggest development challenges for Jotun. Even now, some players still find the exploration levels too slow for their taste. However, a lot of gamers really love this pacing so it’s definitely a recurring point of debate. Ultimately, I’m happy we stuck with our initial creative vision.

GIR: Your Kickstarter fully funded on back in August 2014, but you kept the option for donations and funding open through other methods such as Paypal, etc. Did enough additional contributions/funding come in to allow you to include some of the Stretch Goals you didn't hit during the original Kickstarter?

Will: We ended the external crowdfunding shortly after Kickstarter, so it did not have a big impact on getting us additional development resources.

GIR: Can people expect to see some of those game elements in the future via updates or DLC?  

Will: Steam Achievements, Trading Cards and Cloud Saves are already in our pipeline, as well as New Game+. We’ll also start console development this fall, so our plates are quite full!

GIR: On your Kickstarter you specifically noted: "We chose Kickstarter because we want to involve you in the development process," can you share what you felt the best idea/improvement to come from the backers was? 

Will: Being able to test the game during alpha and beta was one of the best things that came out of Kickstarter. We could test how players’ expectations were aligning with what we were actually developing. We made a lot of adjustments to the game during these periods.

GIR: Do you plan on using this approach(Kickstarter) for future projects?

Will: We would absolutely go to Kickstarter again.


GIR: Were there any aspects of the game you were forced to scale back/compromise/cut from your original vision? Do you regret having to do so?

Will: Very early in development we realized certain features promised during Kickstarter were over-scoped. For example, we quickly realized that have randomly generated levels would not be worth the effort. Being open and having good communication channels with our backers really helped us here, as they were very understanding of these changes. We have absolutely no regrets, as we were able to ship the game in the time-frame we had set on Kickstarter, a rare feat.

GIR: Is Thunder Lotus already looking forward to the next project on the horizon now that Jotun has been released? Or is a vacation in order?

Will: The team is taking some well-deserved time off right now, but we’ll be hard at work this fall working on Steam Achievements/Trading Cards/Cloud Saves, New Game+ and console ports!

GIR: When you do start your next project are you committed to producing games in a similar genre(thematically and/or mechanically)? Or do you think you'll want to explore in new directions?  

Will: Only the Norns know!

GIR: Congrats on a great launch and thank you again for your time!

Will: Thank you!

Jotun was released on September 29th.  You can get it on Steam for $14.99 USD.
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This Week in Geekdom

Happy weekend everyone and best wishes for a happy con to all you lucky nerds attending SPIEL  and New York City Comic Con right now. One of these days we really should make the trip over to Germany and see all that Essen has to offer or get down to New York to get our comic con fix. Things have been a bit on the slow here in terms of new content here on the Care and Feeding of Nerds, but all that will change in the not-so-distant future (I promise!). In the meantime, let's get down to the week in geekdom.

Games

Bluepoint Games and Naughty Dog have pooled their resources to rebuild and release UNCHARTED: The Nathan Drake Collection for the newly repriced PS4. While this is, in itself, pretty exciting, it opened up the line of thought, "What other classic games should be rebooted for the PS4?"

Insurance policies, in my Metal Gear Solid Online? Here's the lowdown on this microtransaction and how it may impact future games.

Disappointed by Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5? Here's how EA is trying to learn from its competition and what it may have in store for Skate 4.

Movies/TV

Marvel is gung-ho to keep plowing ahead with its plans for Phase 3. The latest planned addition to the cinematic universe is Ant Man and the Wasp, which is slated to hit theaters in 2018.

Science/Technology

Some of the biggest headlines of the week came courtesy of the newest class of Nobel laureates. Meet your 2015 prize-winners in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, and all of the other awardable arenas.

Image Credit: NASA. Here's some additional detail about the research that captured this year's Physics Nobel
Turns out that Mars isn't the only one of our solar system siblings that plays host to water. Thanks to the image cache sent back from New Horizons, NASA has been able to confirm that Pluto not only contains ice, but boasts blue skies as well.

And that's not all. Here are the next five missions NASA would like to embark upon.

Construction isn't slated to begin until 2018, but scientists are already atwitter with excitement about the Square Kilometer Array (a.k.a. what may be our best tool in the search for intelligent alien life).

If you were ever a student in a U.S. high school, you likely had to make use of a TI-83 graphing calculator at some point in your academic career. The computational behemoths are still widely used throughout the country, and here's why.

The latest edition of Nature Communications contains the details of this effort out of MIT to produce the first fully-functional prototype of a miniature particle accelerator. 

Speaking of particles, ever wonder how photons experience time?

For decades astronomers and physicists used gravitational effects to determine the mass of celestial bodies. New research from the University of Amsterdam, however, indicates that other methods may be just as, if not more, effective.

The most recent edition of Science Advances sounds like something straight out of science-fiction. Researchers at Lehigh University were able to control a fly's heartbeat using a laser.

While we're on the subject of supervillain-esque research, Nature details the research of George Church, his Harvard brethren, and a clutch of geneticists in China who have edited the genomes of pigs in order to allow them to be the perfect organ donors for humans.

Peto's Paradox described the phenomenon of the incidence rate of cancer being inversely correlated to an animal's size. Here's how a trip to the zoo spawned a detailed study at the University of Utah investigating this phenomenon.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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This Week in Geekdom

Holy October Batman. I suppose that means that any costuming plans for Halloween need to be kicked into high gear. Quick, on to the crafting! If all goes well, there may be a fun new tutorial that comes from this year's costume (here's a hint: somehow I'm not completely burnt out on anything wing related). 

Comics

Betty of Archie Comics fame has a real-life counterpart.

Games

Good gravy. As if Mario turning 30 this year wasn't enough to make you feel old, this past Monday the Nintendo Game Boy hit the quarter-century mark.

Speaking of Nintendo, the Wii U would like us to know that it still exists and there are at least 10 promising games that are forthcoming for the console.

We all know the kinds of angst that video games can instill in us, but is it possible for a game to teach us to manage or cope with stress? One intrepid developer believes that the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Movies/TV

The good news: there will be entire 'lands' in Disneyland dedicated to Star Wars. The bad news: the current Star Wars themed rides and attractions will be shut down in the near future to make way for the construction.

Speaking of theme park attractions, California's Great America will be getting a Mass Effect-themed ride beginning next year.

Science/Technology

Arguably the biggest science story of the week came courtesy of NASA with this announcement that the agency was able to confirm that liquid water is currently flowing on and in the surface of Mars.

There's (liquid, briny) water in them thar hills
Are you ready for your weekly dose of incredible pictures from New Horizons? Check out these images of Pluto's moon, Charon.

In case you missed last weekend's lunar eclipse (or if you just want another glimpse), here's all the time-lapse picturesque goodness.

IBM to Moore's Law: pfft, sucks to your intrinsic limits; we can replace our silicon semiconductors with carbon nanotube transistors.

Google is upgrading its quantum computer (D-Wave). Why does that matter? This upgrade could have far-reaching implications for energy consumption and quantum computing as a field.

Crowdfundables for Your Consideration

Ever wanted to be a vengeful Earth spirit able to show that pesky upstart humanity who's boss? Spirit Island allows you and up to three friends to do just that. This cooperative area-control board game pits players (and the elemental powers that they are armed with) against invading colonists. There are twelve days remaining to get in on this beautifully executed Kickstarter.

8 Kingdoms gives you not one, not two, but four distinct card-based games. All of the games boast a lightening-fast set up time and can be modified to accommodate between two and eight players. Bonus: magical strawberries! The campaign for this mini-library will run until October 23rd.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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