Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, released today, has an interesting permadeath mechanic. The more you die, the closer you get to needing to restart the whole game, players are told. Players are quickly realizing they need to be extra careful, which falls right into the developers' plans. Instead of seeing a traditional Game Over screen, Hellblade players' deaths will be met with an explanation that if they keep dying, they'll eventually have to start all the way back at the beginning of the game. Here's what that looks like: The protagonist of the game, Senua, develops a rot on her hand that spreads closer to her head each time she dies.
Hidden away somewhere in my attic is an old Xbox 360 that I'll never throw away. On its hard drive is a Minecraft save file that contains the first house my oldest son ever built in the game. He was seven and, coming from a boy on the autism spectrum with a limited vocabulary and no patience to draw and paint, his creation was a revelation. Sure, it is a monstrous carbuncle, a mess of wooden planks, cobblestone and dirt. But it is also the greatest building I ever saw.
Lego has explored various corners of the Minecraft universe in sets based on the Nether, The End and more. But the biggest set of them all -- coming in June -- focuses on a decidedly more mundane location: The Village. Minecraft's social centers are the subject of a June 1 Lego release, and it's not small. For 199.99 you get 1,600 pieces spanning three different biomes (rainforest, snow and desert) and key structures (watchtower, library, butcher, blacksmith and marketplace). See also: See the best'Call of Duty' Zombies map remade in'Minecraft' Several of the structures -- specifically the library, butcher and marketplace -- feature hinged pieces that make it easy to crack them open and create interior scenes.
If your child is a Minecraft fan, you may be concerned about how much time they're spending in the blocky onscreen world. Fear not: While it can let kids spell dirty words in 10-foot-tall letters, the game can also develop problem- solving skills, spatial reasoning, and more. There's even a classroom- optimized version, MinecraftEdu (recently acquired by Microsoft). The best way to learn about Egyptian pyramids, Saturn rockets, and rain forests is by clambering all over them. Thanks to its tweakable construction interface, kids can use Minecraft to set up and run experiments.
Yet more proof that Minecraft is more than just a game comes our way today. Microsoft already has plans to use the platform, which it bought for 2.5 billion, to help kids learn and for virtual reality, and now we can add artificial intelligence development to that list, too. Today, Microsoft announced a project that enables artificial intelligence researchers to tap into the hit title to sculpt and develop their tech. AIX is a new software development platform that researchers can use to develop'agents' -- AI-powered characters -- which roam Minecraft worlds. The idea is to equip them with the smarts to behave like a regular player.