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About Rob LeFebvre

Rob LeFebvre Anchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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Radiohead’s trippy app delivers unexpected new tunes

Screen grab from iPhone: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Screen grab from iPhone: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

UK-based rock band Radiohead just updated their Polyfauna app, originally released at the end of this past January, with all new audio and visual content.

The What’s New section of the iTunes description says, simply, “Entirely new.”

If you’re a fan of the ambient tech-inspired music of Radiohead’s seminal Kid A album, you’re going to love these new tracks. Here’s a video (below) to whet your appetite.

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PAX cosplayers impress with passion, energy and lots of effort

SEATTLE — It’s like Halloween two months early at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), with gamers and geeky fans of every stripe dressing up in costumes of varying quality and seriousness.

More than 70,000 gamers converge each year in Seattle for PAX, a fan-centric celebration of all things gaming that was created by web cartoonists Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik as a way to honor their passion for video, board and card games.

We saw hundreds of people wearing elaborate costumes from their favorite games, television shows and movies. Some do it for the attention, others really enjoy making the outfits, and all the folks we encountered in the expo halls were excited to show off their final products.

Take a look in the gallery above at the best of the many fantastic cosplay outfits we ran into this year.

All Photos: Hunter LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

You don’t have to be a geek to play Golem Arcana, but it helps

This colossus figure towers over all comers. Photo: Hunter LeFebvre, Cult of Mac

This colossus figure towers over all comers. Photo: Hunter LeFebvre, Cult of Mac

SEATTLE, Washington — Table top miniatures are some of the geekiest board games, coming as they do with thick rulebooks and complicated sets of play mechanics. Developer Harebrained Schemes, the folks behind video games Shadowrun Returns and the more recent Shadowrun: Dragonfall, has decided to bring this arcane, geeky gaming genre to players who might want to try it out without having to fight their way through an extreme learning curve.

With the time we spent with the game at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle this weekend, we’ve got to say, we’re pretty impressed. While there’s still quite a bit of learning that has to occur in order to fully and deeply play this fantasy-themed miniatures game, even players as young as four can grasp the basic concepts of move, battle, and conquer that the game’s iPad app and bluetooth-connected stylus allow.

“There are a lot of rules to these kinds of games,” said Harebrained Schemes’ Ray Winninger. “Sometimes there are these giant, thick rule books and that sort of thing. It’s especially hard to bring someone in who’s never played before and to just kind of plop them in the middle of it. So, we’re trying to manage all of that for you.”

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Dark Horse Comics does video game titles like no other

Dave Marshall, Editor Dark Horse Comics. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Dave Marshall, Editor Dark Horse Comics, holding a coffee table book of video game art. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

SEATTLE, Washington – Walk into a comic shop, and you’ll probably see titles from publisher Dark Horse Comics. Known for its creator-owned series like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and Sergio Aragonés’ Groo the Wanderer as well as television and movie adaptations like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or 300, the comic book publisher has a booth at the Penny Arcade Expo this weekend in Seattle to show off a different genre of comic.

The booth at the Washington State Convention Center in is full of video game-themed books of all stripe, from Mass Effect and Tomb Raider single-issue comics to larger, coffee table volumes like Hyrule Historia, which is chock full of the lore of The Legend of Zelda, and The Art of Naughty Dog, an art book that focuses on the popular game developer’s artistic output.

Dave Marshall says that video game books are the third pillar in the Dark Horse publishing strategy, and have become just as valuable a content stream as the creator-owned or media-based titles.

“We get the original writers and artists from the video games themselves to actually write or consult on these books,” he told us at the Dark Horse booth Saturday morning, “so we can come to the fans at a deeper level than just a crummy tie-in or cash grab.”

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You can’t play this game alone – find a friend and conquer Together: Amna & Saif

Picture courtesy Mount Olympus Games

Picture courtesy Mount Olympus Games

SEATTLE, Washington – Together: Amna & Saif puts you and another player on the same screen, controlling a mother and son duo of characters to solve various environmental puzzles. It’s a “couch co-op adventure puzzle game” that requires you to talk, interact, and think with another human being.

Lead designer Lyle Cox told us that he’s always wanted to make a game that benefits society in some way. “My hope is that people who play the game,” he said, “get some benefit to their relationship for having done so.”

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These road-trippers logged more than 10,000 miles and captured it all on Super 8

Screengrab courtesy Element.ly

Screenshot courtesy Element.ly

Instead of just another HD video project clogging up his Mac, filmmaker Mike Ruocco set out to capture his cross-country road trip with something just a bit more retro: a 45-year-old Canon Auto Zoom 814 with a broken light meter and two cans of Super 8 film.

Ruocco, his wife, her sister and their dog Riley traveled across 20 states, spent time at nine national parks and then spent a week in the Adirondack Mountains, filming it all along the way.

What results is a video so warm and nostalgic that we just had to share. Check out this amazing blast of Americana below.

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Now you can record game clips within Xbox One SmartGlass app

Picture courtesy iTunes App Store

Picture courtesy Microsoft/iTunes App Store

The hot new thing is to record your epic gaming feats on your current-generation consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, sharing your amazing skills with the world via Google’s YouTube or Amazon’s Twitch TV.

Microsoft just made it even easier to do so with an update to Xbox One SmartGlass, an iOS, Windows Phone, and Android mobile app that connects directly to your Xbox One console.

The companion app already lets you navigate your console using your iPhone or other smart device’s keyboard and touchscreen as well as control your media via a SmartGlass remote control function. You can brows the web on your TV using your mobile device, and track achievements, get game help, message friends and watch game clips all on your iPad or other tablet.

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This Mac Pro-powered OK Go cart makes some awesome videos

These wires and Mac Pro do some amazing work. Photo: Damian Kulash/Instagram

These wires and Mac Pro do some amazing work. Photo: Damian Kulash/Instagram

Just take a look at that beast above, posted by lead singer and guitarist for nerdtastic rock band OK Go, Damian Kulash. The Instagram photo, captioned “There is a machine that makes OK Go videos. This is that machine.”

Founded in 1998, OK Go consists of Damian Kulash (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Nordwind (bass guitar and vocals), Dan Konopka (drums and percussion) and Andy Ross (guitar, keyboards and vocals). They’re known for their extensive, quirky and technically complex music videos.

Here are a few of those awesome videos, made with the OK Go cart above.

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Nightmare Cooperative’s roguelike gameplay will keep you up all night

Screenshot: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Screenshot: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Roguelike games are a retro treat, hailing back to the earliest computers. They used various ASCII characters to denote dungeon walls and dangerous creatures in an attempt to recreate the experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons.

There are many good roguelikes out there these days on both Mac and iOS with varying amounts of verisimilitude regarding the original game. This type of game typically features a randomly-generated set of dungeon levels so that you never play the same level twice, the idea of perma-death, meaning that once your character dies, the game is over, and lots of treasure, loot, and monsters to contend with on a turn-by-turn basis.

Nightmare Cooperative, from Bad Hotel and Gentlemen! developer Lucky Frame, is a finely-polished rendition of the familiar formula with a few fun twists.

Check out the teaser video below to get a sense of how it looks and sounds.

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6 new tech-themed TV pilot ideas Fox should buy from us

Photo: CC by Faruk Ateş/Flickr

Give this up? Never! Photo: Faruk Ateş/Flickr CC

20th Century Fox just committed to producing a television pilot called All Together Now about six twentysomethings who promise to unplug from their mobile devices and engage with each other as long as they can possibly stand it.

Seems like all the networks are jumping on the high-tech bandwagon, with heavy dramas like AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, lowbrow reality shows like Bravo’s Online Dating Rituals of the American Male and now this sitcom.

We can’t help but think turning off your mobile is a pretty thin excuse for a television series. Here are six other tech-themed pilot ideas the TV studio moguls might want to try.

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