The Witness: how Jonathan Blow rejected game design rules to make a masterpiece

There’s no story, no tutorial and no human interaction, yet this puzzle game has been a huge hit. Could it all be down to Blow’s idiosyncratic approach to development?

Most of the games industry would describe a seven-year development cycle as hell on Earth. It brings to mind tortured, much delayed projects like Duke Nukem Forever and Daikatana – the sort of games that sink studios. So when asking Jonathan Blow to describe the process of making The Witness, the critically acclaimed puzzle game he started way back in 2008, you may expect horror stories. But you won’t get them. “It was very chill,” he says.

Apparently, over those several years, Blow and his team at Thekla, Inc brought on extra help from architects and sound designers when they needed it, but for the most part they were just “six people in a room” with lenient working hours. They generally turned up by about 10:30am. Thursdays and Fridays were optional.

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The Division: inside Ubisoft’s ambitious online shooter

The beta test drew mixed responses, but Ubisoft still thinks it can reinvent the online role-playing shooter with this post-pandemic thriller

The city that never sleeps is now a slumbering wasteland of abandoned cars and scattered rubbish. Occasionally, a stray dog pads past, while rats scurry in the darkened alleyways. Manhattan’s iconic buildings have become gravestones, covered in graffiti and deathly silent. As a vision of the post-human New York, The Division is pretty arresting.

Like Bungie’s epic space opera Destiny, this is a game of interconnected parts where single-player, co-op and online multiplayer merge seamlessly together. But it’s not a fantasy or sci-fi adventure – instead, the action takes place several days after the release of a deadly new strain of smallpox into the city. Most civilians have died or fled, leaving gangs of looters fighting to control the boroughs. But the government needs to regain control, and to do this, it activates a secret protocol, based on the real-life Directive 51, to send specially trained highly autonomous divisions into the city to flush it out.

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Twitter planning ‘regular and consistent action’ to curb harassment and abuse

In another push to tackle abuse and threats on the network, Twitter is introducing expert safety council to respond in ‘fullest and most nuanced way’

Twitter will do more to tackle harassment and abuse on its network, the company has said, as it announces a new safety council made up of specialist charities and a slate of new anti-harassment features that will roll out through 2016.

Twitter UK’s head of policy, Nick Pickles, said that the global council would include the mental health charity the Samaritans, the advice charity the Safer Internet Centre, and the Internet Watch Foundation, a specialist organisation that deals with criminal content including child abuse material.

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Safer Internet Day: protecting the global town square of Twitter

Twitter has faced pressure to provide better protection for users who are abused and bullied on the network. Policy head Nick Pickles explains its new plans

A child born today will grow up in a world powered by data. They will be surrounded by powerful digital technologies, while the world’s information is digitised, analysed and transmitted around them in seconds. In the first week of their life, 3.5bn tweets will be sent.

They will grow up in a world that seems much smaller, as voices from the furthest corners of the earth are broadcast beyond national boundaries with a click. Another billion people will get online before they graduate from university.

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Liverpool tech cluster evangelical about being next Merseyside miracle

It may still be in its infancy, but startups say city has the components for a digital sector to rival London’s Tech City – though finance can be tricky

Inside the offices that nestle within the old warehouse buildings of Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, which house many of the city’s nascent digital technology companies, there’s a sense of purpose and industry.

Liverpool is classed as having a tech cluster, which means, according to a report out this Thursday, its digital industries stand a good chance of growing faster and generating higher salaries than in much of the rest of the country.

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India’s ban on Facebook’s free service is an overreaction

With 80% of Indians still offline, the regulators’ decision to block free services in favor of wider consumer choice is a risky decision

What constitutes digital equality?

India’s national telecoms regulator thinks it knows, its national consultation on differential pricing for mobile data packages concluding that “zero rating” services, or offering them for free, is discriminatory. And over objections that zero rating practices create more opportunity for the 1 billion digitally disconnected, India has banned them.

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Internet trolling: quarter of teenagers suffered online abuse last year

Survey of 13- to 18-year-olds reveals teenagers with disabilities and those from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to encounter cyberbullying

One in four teenagers suffered hate incidents online last year, a figure described by experts as a “wake-up call” on the impact of internet trolling.

The survey of 13- to 18-year-olds found that 24% had been targeted due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability or transgender identity. One in 25 said they were singled out for abuse all or most of the time.

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