In this edition of What I’ve Been Reading, I’ve got a bunch of pieces about video games and AI… and one piece about scaffolding. Alright everyone, let’s sing the “one of these things is not like the others” song!
- Writing for the Huffington Post’s Test Kitchen, Todd Van Luling uncovers the truth behind a popular fan theory about Sonic 3: Michael Jackson actually did contribute to the game’s soundtrack! Van Luling tells the story of Jackson’s work on the game and how Internet sleuths became convinced of the singer’s involvement.
- Go is considered one of the most difficult classic tabletop games for AIs to play. It was one of the few games at which the top human players could consistently beat the top computer players. Until now. Writing for Google’s official blog, Demis Hassabis explains how Google developed a computer called AlphaGo that played games against itself and used reinforcement learning to become good enough to beat top European Go player Fan Hui.
- Watching speedruns of video games can be a heck of a lot of fun; you get to see experts completely demolish multi-hour video games in a matter of minutes. More controversial are tool-assisted speedruns (TASs for short), which use special tools to input frame-perfect button presses that humans are only theoretically capable of. Steven Messner of Rock Paper Shotgun interviews a couple of Super Mario 64 TASers to find out what kinds of tools they use.
- If you’ve ever been to New York City, you’ve probably noticed that large number of sidewalks are covered by scaffolds to protect pedestrians during construction, renovation, and inspection projects. Aaron Elstein of Crain’s explains the curious mix of history, legislation, and economics that led to this situation. Here’s what I said about the situation several months ago.
- This one’s an oldie but a goodie. It’s also hilarious. Randy Farmer of Habitat Chronicles explains the difficulties of implementing kid-friendly chat in MMOs for children.
- You may have heard that a new Pokémon spin-off was recently announced, Great Detective Pikachu: The Birth of a New Duo. So far, only a Japanese trailer has been released, and as Patricia Hernandez of Kotaku reports, Pikachu’s voice is freaking people out. We’re used to the electric furball making high-pitched “Pika Pika!” noises. In this game, however, Pikachu has a stereotypical low-pitched detective’s voice. That has led to some pretty great fan gags, like my new favourite Tumblr, Scott Mendenko and Dylan Rose’s Hard-Boiled Pikachu.
Okay, that’s quite enough mystery-solving for today. See you next week!