Facebook announced that they bought virtual reality company Oculus today for about $2 billion, although Reddit had the story first:

So no way to confirm this, but my friend works in the same building as Oculus, and he ran into Mark Zuckerberg taking the elevator to Oculus’ floor.

Lots of people are posting strong opinions online today, either excited (because they believe the acquisition will speed up development of the Rift) or repulsed (because they hate Facebook). These opinions are boring, but people seem to have overlooked a few interesting details.

TechCrunch:

Facebook’s deal to buy Oculus VR for $2 billion happened relatively quickly and the negotiations were hammered out over the last five days during the industry’s Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, according to sources familiar with the deal.

There’s a few ways to interpret how quickly this deal went down. Optimistically: Facebook saw Sony announce their VR thing and decided that they wanted to get into the market while the getting was good. More realistically: Oculus’ investors got spooked by Sony’s announcement and pressured the company to sell while they could still make a profitable exit. That’s why “sources familiar with the deal” (who are probably Chris Dixon from Andreessen Horowitz) told the Verge that although investors offered Oculus more money to continue, they thought this was a better deal.

Ultimately the quality of the deal depends a lot on how much you value Facebook stock, which is primarily what Oculus got paid in:

[The acquisition] includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock (valued at $1.6 billion based on the average closing price of the 20 trading days preceding March 21, 2014 of $69.35 per share).

I join a lot of the people on Twitter who feel that this acquisition was somehow kind of sad, which is a curious emotion to feel about a social network buying a hardware startup. If I had to hazard a guess, here’s what’s sad about it: Oculus was this big, open question in gaming. Just this weekend I was on Giant Bomb with Phil Fish and Zoe Quinn, and we were speculating wildly about the ways that the Rift would allow us to explore new worlds, understand body dysmorphia, and have computer sex. We hoped that Oculus could show us what was next for an art form that we love. And they did, and it sucked: Oculus will be a hobby project owned by an advertising company, used some day to collect personal information from “users” which will be sold to the highest bidder.

This outcome for Oculus is particularly sad because of how they began - the company first got funding to work on the Rift on Kickstarter, where they raised $2.5 million from almost 10,000 backers. The implicit promise of such a campaign is that Oculus would have had the freedom to run their company how they wanted, and not have had to negotiate with investors or find those investors an “exit” the minute there was credible competition. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no surprise that investors like Andreessen Horowitz don’t give a fig about art and only want to make a return on their investment, we already know that these guys are squares and hacks. But it does make me sad that the Oculus folks believed otherwise. And it makes me sad to think that if this how VCs steer cool new technology that’s supposed to change the world, that they will eventually undo their own livelihood, like the story of the scorpion and the fox:

"I couldn’t help it. It’s my nature."

Palmer Lucky, the founder of Oculus, is already doing “damage control” on Reddit, posting:

Facebook is run in an open way that’s aligned with Oculus’ culture. Over the last decade, Mark and Facebook have been champions of open software and hardware, pushing the envelope of innovation for the entire tech industry.

[…]

I’m proud to be a member of this community — thank you all for carrying virtual reality and gaming forward and trusting in us to deliver. We won’t let you down.

The top comment:

You already did.

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Samurai Gunn Launch

Samurai Gunn is my favorite video game of the year. The first time I played it at GDC, it made me excited about video games in a way that I hadn’t been since I was a kid.

After GDC I couldn’t get Samurai Gunn out of my head, so I made friends with the creator, Beau Blyth, and after advising him on the game for a while, I offered to publish it.

Now the game is out, published by my company, Maxistentialism. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved in. Samurai Gunn is 20% off for launch, $11.99, on Steam and on our website, SamuraiGunn.com.

Here are some Steam codes, first come, first serve:

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Pax Prime 2013

Hey Tumblr friends! PAX Prime is almost here, and I’ve been working for the last few months to get ready for it. Here’s what I’ll be up to:

  • Cards Against Humanity: We’ve got an enormous booth (I designed it!) on the skybridge connecting the two show floors. We’re going to be launching a brand new product (above), as well as giving away some exclusive stuff for PAX. We’ve also got some goodies in the PAX swag bags.
  • Story War and Machine of Death: Two of my favorite Kickstarter board games will be joining us in the Cards Against Humanity booth.
  • Werewolf: If you’re a backer of my Werewolf project, come say hi and I’ll hook you up with a prototype deck.
  • Samurai Gunn: Beau and I will be demoing Samurai Gunn in the Indie MEGABOOTH at booth 763.

I’ve also got a couple panels and events:

  • Wednesday at 5pm I’m giving a talk at PAX Dev with Phil Tibitoski (Octodad) and Rami Ismail (Vlambeer, Ridiculous Fishing)
  • Wednesday at 7pm I’m doing a signing and giving away some free stuff at Card Kingdom
  • Friday at 4pm I’m hosting the Spelunky Video Armageddon with Doug Wilson (J.S. JOUST), Zach Gage (Spell Tower), C418 (Minecraft), and Greg Wohlwend (Hundreds) in the Kraken streaming theater
  • Friday at 7pm I’ll be at the Chainsawsuit Live show with Kris Straub, Mikey Neumann, Brad Muir, Bobak Ferdowsi, and Abby Howard
  • Saturday at 2pm I’ll be on the Kickstarter panel in the Unicorn Theater
  • Saturday at 8pm I’ll be at (maybe on?) the Giant Bomb panel in the Pegasus theater
  • Sunday at 5:30pm we’re doing a live Cards Against Humanity show at the Triple Door with the Nerdologues and some special guests
  • Sunday at 9:30pm we’ve got the Cards Against Humanity panel in the Kraken streaming theater; this year we’re going to be joined by some special guests to remember our friend Ryan Davis and test out some cards he wrote for us
  • Monday at 1pm in the Raven theater I organized a panel with my friends Matthew Baldwin (Defective Yeti), Dikla Tuchman (The Seattle Star), and Boyan Radakovich (TableTop) to talk about how to host an amazing board game night

Anyway, I’ve got a busy week and I’m really excited to show you guys what I’ve been working on for the last few months. See you at PAX!

P.S. If this is your first PAX, don’t miss Matthew Baldwin’s PAX Primer and Tom Douglas’s guide to Seattle food.

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A few months ago, I had this idea to prank Giant Bomb by interrupting their PAX panel with a series of bands. I reached out to my friends at Harmonix, and over the last four months, we booked a bagpiper, a three-piece mariachi band, and a full dixieland jazz band to come in and interrupt the panel… we even hired a producer to sneak them into the building and give them their cues.

In the history of this Giant Bomb panel though, our prank will be merely a footnote; halfway through, someone from the audience strolled up the stage and put a jar labeled, “ANONYMOUS BREAST MILK - CERTIFIED” in front of Ryan.

Anyway, please enjoy the funniest and weirdest panel I have ever seen at any con, ever.

EDIT: Thanks also to patbaer from UCB for helping us get everything set up!

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Hey friends, I’m making a version of my favorite game, Werewolf. You can back it on Kickstarter for $10 or download the whole game for free.

Check it out at Maxistentialism.com/werewolf.

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Polygon:

At a PAX East panel today, Cards Against Humanity designer Max Temkin launched and funded a Kickstarter campaign for his version of a card game called Werewolf.

During the presentation, which included Kickstarter employees, Temkin took the audience on a trip through what it’s like to launch a Kickstarter project. He walked through the crowdfunding platform’s back end, which includes setting categories, uploading product images and videos, creating descriptions and more.

Temkin submitted the project onstage, and Kickstarter’s project specialist Luke Crane and head of community Cindy Au talked it over as if he weren’t there. Approval usually takes 24-48 hours, but they approved the project onstage.

Within minutes, it exceeded its $230 goal.

After the project launched, they took questions form the floor, which was filled with former, current and potential Kickstarter project runners.

"Everyone’s gotten help from people who’ve been there before," Temkin said.

He encouraged people who want to use Kickstarter to reach out to those who’ve been there before.

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This is what gamers look like if you put female characters into your games.

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Cards Against Humanity is now made in the United States of America.

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Ridiculous Fishing is out!

For the last few months, my friends Greg, Zach, and Rami have been working on this game called Ridiculous Fishing. Here’s how it works:

  • You throw your hook into the water
  • You guide the hook down, avoiding fish for as long as possible
  • When you finally hit a fish, you guide your hook back up and snag as many fish as you can
  • You throw the fish into the air
  • You shoot the fish with an Uzi and they explode into a pink mist

It’s out on the App Store today for $2.99 on iPhone and iPad, and it’s already one of the best-reviewed video games of all time with a 94 on Metacritic.

Joystiq said:

Ridiculous Fishing’s art, by Greg Wohlwend, is unlike anything I’ve seen on any platform, an intricate arrangement of creatures, backdrops made entirely of 45-degree angles. Any screenshot you take of this game would make an amazing wallpaper – quite an achievement for a game about a guy sitting alone in a boat.

MacLife said:

Ridiculous Fishing is one of the most purely entertaining iOS games to date … absurdly fun and seriously memorable.

IGN said:

Ridiculous Fishing puts a smile on my face … a polished arcade time-killer.

TUAW said:

Ridiculous Fishing is a great game that is among the best we’ve seen on the iPhone, ever.

Right now Ridiculous Fishing is the 6th-ranked paid app on the App Store and Apple has picked it as a featured app, which is especially amazing once you hear the story of how this game was cloned before it was even finished and almost died.

There’s a ton of surprises and a great story in the game as well (for example, I’m in there as the egg pictured above - look for Max Shrimpkin on Byrdr). I’ve had Ridiculous Fishing for about a month, and played it all the way through twice, and I just keep having more fun.

Ridiculous Fishing has amazing unlockables, buttery smooth controls, and gorgeous art direction. If you’ve got an iPhone or an iPad, do yourself a favor by downloading one of the best mobile games ever made.

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Mike Mika:

My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario. She’s played as Princess Toadstool in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn’t in that particular Mario game, she seemed really bummed out by that. So what else am I supposed to do? Now I’m up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline. I’m using the 2010 NES Donkey Kong ROM. I’ve redrawn Mario’s frames and I swapped the palettes in the ROM. I replaced the M at the top with a P for Pauline.

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Some screenshots of Ridiculous Fishing by Vlambeer, Zach Gage, and Greg Wohlwend, out for iOS on the 14th.

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I did Waxwing Puzzle Company’s Labyrinth puzzle hunt in the pedway (a network of tunnels and train stations that connects downtown Chicago) today - me, Greg, Matt, and Asher came in second place.

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Patrick Wyatt

As the development of StarCraft dragged on it seemed like it would never be done: the game was always two months from launch but never seemed to get any closer to the mythical ship date. “Fortunately” — and I use that term advisedly — Blizzard had previous experience shipping games late.

Some bugs were related to the development process itself. The Protoss Carrier regularly lagged behind other units because it had its own way of doing … everything. At some point in time the code for the Carrier was branched from the main game code and had diverged beyond any hope of re-integration. Consequently any time a feature was added for other units, it had to be re-implemented for the Carrier. And any time a bug was fixed for other units, a similar bug would later be found in the Carrier code too, only more devious and difficult to fix.

But the biggest thing holding back StarCraft was unit path-finding.

[…]

My idea was simple: whenever harvesters are on their way to get minerals, or when they’re on the way back carrying those minerals, they ignore collisions with other harvesters in the same state other units. By eliminating the inter-unit collision code for the harvesters there is never a rush-hour commute to get jammed up, and harvesters operate efficiently.

It’s possible to notice this behavior by selecting a large group of harvesters who are working a plot of crystals and telling them to halt. They immediately spread out to find tiles that aren’t occupied by other harvesters.

The behavior is obvious if you look, but hidden in plain sight — it doesn’t rise to the level of conscious awareness, though professional-level players and map-makers/modders do notice.

In short, it just works, which is the best kind of hack.

I always noticed this when I played StarCraft as a kid, it’s pretty cool to hear that the story behind it involves the same kind of hack that I’ve had to use a thousand times in my work.

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There’s a new episode of TableTop! My friends Paul and Storm are on it! They play Chez Geek! It’s amazing!

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“Incredibly disjointed. Why is that city flooded? Where are we going? And why?”

-

Jeff Gerstmann’s notes on Black Ops II

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