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A Wordle game jam has inspired a handful of weird little tabletop games – Polygon

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Matthew R.F. Balousek thinks about Wordle the same way he does dice. The Hostos College lecturer tells his student to consider a game tool’s affordances — all the things it can do — and then strike from that list everything they have seen used in a game. Dice can be rolled to show a number, sure. But they can also be stacked, spun, aligned, and hucked across the room.

It’s perhaps no surprise that Wordle, the browser-based word game phenomenon created by Josh Wardle (who recently sold it to the New York Times), stuck in Balousek’s creative craw long enough that he created an impressive collection of game design musings before realizing he needed to just sit down and make his own game. Not content with toiling away by his lonesome, he decided to host The Wordle Jam and invite anyone else possessed with the five-letter spirit.

For those who have somehow completely missed the quaint zeitgeist that is Wordle, here’s a brief rundown: players have six attempts to guess a five-letter word by inputting letters into a grid. Correct but misplaced letters will show up as yellow, while spot-on placements show up green. Everything else is grayed out on the grid as well as the keyboard. The smartest part is its ability to be shared on social media in what Balousek calls “the mosaic,” which has become the conversation opener du jour in group chats, Discord servers, and Twitter threads. But it’s also given designers new and old pause, with many surprised by its virality as well as its simplicity.

And therein lies the inspiration for The Wordle Jam.

“I think any time there’s a non-zero number of things being made, that’s it. That’s the whole ball game,” Balousek told Polygon in an interview. All the niche movement needed was a name, which he was happy to provide, alongside a landing page on the internet. The Wordle Jam ran through January 31 and managed to accrue 10 entries, including Balousek’s, but he wasn’t preoccupied with measuring success and instead delighted by all the ways people had transformed the simple letter blocks into fully extant experiences, tools, and even poetry.

Image: Lynne M. Meyer

Lynne M. Meyer’s The Cottage, The Witch, and the Wordle sprung from the tabletop RPG writer’s fascination with finding the right word for a task and the power that connection provides, especially in the context of practical witchcraft. Her game uses Wordle results to calculate points that players can then spend on a list of features for their own witchy cottage nestled in the woods. A better performance could mean adding a second-floor library, an apiary in the backyard, or enough candles to cover every available surface. Meyer appreciated Wordle’s solitary nature and wanted to give the contemplative players more to chew every day.

Designer Pearse Anderson took a similar route, but his entry titled Your True Name puts players in the metaphorical shoes of the mystic word itself as it is spoken into existence by a coven, summoning circle, or other collection of magical practitioners. Every word becomes a brief journaling prompt where players describe the effect of the spell. Yellow letters increase power but also volatility, while green letters inch the word closer to its True Name and full potential.

“Because the Wordle changes each day, all players in Your True Name are working towards a globally consistent and randomized goal,” Anderson told Polygon via email. “I can play with a friend in Utrecht or Ulaanbaatar, and though we start our fantasy worlds in different places, our spellcasting converges at the True Name of that day’s Wordle — that’s magical.”

Balousek’s own entry, Wordle Games, picks at the seams of Wordle’s construction in playful and interesting ways. The 12-page zine contains five entries, though the first — A Wordle for Leibowitz — is a playful interpretation of Wordle’s rules “in case this zine survives the en masse destruction of knowledge and civilization, but computers don’t and so we can’t play Wordle anymore,” he wrote.

Results for Emophecy, a game by Johnny Willcox-Benney shows a black background with a field of emojis.

Image: Johnny Willcox-Beney

Kingslayer transforms Wordle into a story prompt about an assassin and their mission, with each row representing a character in their lives. Colors and the shape of the mosaic all get translated into places, personalities, and even the form of the assassin’s weapon. Speaking of shapes, the much less serious That Cloud Looks Like a Butt simply tasks players with sending an image that reminds them of any mosaic a friend shares. It’s cloud watching for the terminally online, unfortunately distant or playfully interpretive.

Swordle and Swordlecery is less a game and more an overwrought mechanic, Balousek admitted. It alchemizes the green and yellow scores of each column into ability scores written on the fingers of both hands (or paper, or a friend). For the rest of the day, the player is an adventurer who uses a six-sided die and their recorded stats to overcome physical and mental challenges. This might be a fun way to annoy your Dungeon Master or inspire a bit of live action role-playing. Regardless, at midnight that adventurer dies and is reborn with a fresh set of statistics.

The Wordle Jam’s existence hints at our fascination with seemingly simple games. The other entries change the solution to album art, for example, or imagine the mosaic shapes as farm animals needing to be corralled. Wordlebuilding uses word guesses as worldbuilding prompts (which solo RPG players would call an oracle), while Waddle charts the route a penguin takes after escaping from its zoo enclosure.

“There are rules all around us,” Balousek said. Playing games, especially roleplaying games, requires interrogating and testing those rules. The tabletop RPG hobby might be niche, but he believes anyone who enjoys Wordle would benefit from playing the jam’s entries if only to see how people can alter the assumed walls of an experience to create something wholly unique.

“One of the first steps is to draw from real life and identify those rules that are all around us,” Balousek said. “Rules will always be around us as humans, governing our spaces. Tabletop games allow us to think about them and what might happen if they suddenly change.”

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‘Genshin Impact’ V2.8 Primogem Gift Codes, Plus New Banners And Diluc Skin – Forbes

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Genshin Impact just wrapped up its v2.8 special program reveal stream, back on schedule with its constant releases after COVID lockdowns forced delays earlier. We are marching toward the 3.0 update of the game with new continent Sumeru, but until then, we have two more patches to go. And v2.8 is proving to be a bit lighter than most.

But still, the stream gave away three gift codes for Primogems and other goodies, as it always does, and that’s probably the main reason you’re here. They are:

  • DTNVKAWBWSF5 – Reward: 100 Primogems and 10 Mystic Enhancement Ores
  • WANVJAFAXTER – Reward: 100 Primogems and 10 Mystic Enhancement Ores
  • HA6C2AFBXSZV – Reward: 100 Primogems and 10 Mystic Enhancement Ores

These have to be redeemed by the end of the day tomorrow, so get on that. And yes, the secondary reward is all Mystic Ore for some reason this time around, I’m not sure why that is. You will want to redeem this on the reward page right here. I just checked them, and all of them work.

As for the character banners for v2.8, we only have one new character this time around, and they’re only a four star. We do, however, have the return of one very coveted 5 star, Kazuha, who is also the main character of the 2.8 story content, it seems.

The banners will be:

  • Banner 1 – Kazuha and Klee, with rate-ups for new 4 star Heizou
  • Banner 2 – Yoimiya

The entire “storyline” for 2.8 is called Summer Fantasia, and will contain the usual amount of various types of events we get for new patches. Among them will be Summertime Odyssey, Resonating Visions, Reminiscent Regimen, Hidden Strife, Evermotion Mechanical Painting and most impotantly a new outfit for Diluc where he has a high ponytail. Oh and Fischl has one too. Whatever.

Anyway, this should not be the biggest patch in the world, nor does this seem like the set of banners that you will blow every Primogem you have on, unless you are dying for Kazuha which you don’t have yet, or you need to get more constellation tiers on him. I think most people are probably starting to save for 3.0 and all the new Sumeru Dendro characters at this point, and that reveal should be in the next couple months here ahead of what seems like a fall release for that region.

Follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to my free weekly content round-up newsletter, God Rolls.

Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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5 Ways to Make Wearing a Mask in the Summer More Tolerable – First For Women

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Mask mandates have been dropped in offices, grocery stores, and transit hubs nationwide, and as a result many people have (understandably) stopped wearing them. After living through two years of a pandemic, folks are tired of muffled voices, sweaty faces, and fogged-up lenses.

There’s been some debate surrounding masks’ effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infection — particularly at the start of the pandemic — but laboratory studies show that masks protect those who wear them.

If you’re among those still masking up, you’re likely looking for solutions to make masking more comfortable — especially during the warm summer months. Here are five easy tricks to make wearing yours more tolerable. 

Ease the Strain of Mask Strings

When you’re wearing a mask all day, the ear loops may begin to put a strain on the backs of your ears. Your tender ears will thank you for purchasing some mask clips. There are several options availble, from simple straps with buttons or hooks to silicone and rope accessories. 

We like this Candace Cort ear saver, which is clear, bendy, and subtle. Mask extenders can also help you to customize your mask fit (if you, like me, have a head that’s far smaller than average). Try this silicone mask extender set from EVGLOW that comes in a variety of colors ($6.99 from Amazon).

De-Fog Your Glasses

If you’ve ever worn glasses and a mask simultaneously, you know the foggy lens struggle. This problem can range from a mere nuisance to an actual hazard — if you can’t see where you’re going, it doesn’t matter how protected you are from COVID-19. The most effective way to reduce fogging while masking is to improve the seal between the top of the mask and your skin. Masks with adjustable nose-bridge wires (which tend to be the best quality masks anyway, most adept at virus protection) make it easier to close off this seal. 

If you have a well-fitting mask that’s sealed off at the nose but are still experiencing lens fog, try Ultra Clarifty’s Defog kit ($15.99 from Amazon). It’s compatible with many different types of lenses; just be warned that it does require frequent reapplication, and you might want to keep a small microfiber cloth on hand to scrub away any vision-blurring streaks. 

Make Your Mask Smell Nicer

We’ve all become intimately familiar with the smell of our own breath over the last two years. Even when you’re certain of your minty-freshness, there’s something about “mask breath” that’s just… unpleasant. To fix this, spritz a nice-smelling refreshing spray in your mask before heading out the door. 

Enfusia’s mask deodorizer spray ($19.99 from Amazon) is made with pure essential oils — a blend of eucalyptus, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, and tea tree. The scent is sure to relax you throughout the day; and even if it doesn’t, it’s probably better than smelling your breakfast. 

Buy a Cute Necklace Chain

If you’re like most of us, you periodically take your mask off for a breather and then put it back on when needed. But it’s annoying to search frantically for a mask that’s lost in your jacket pocket or in the dirty dregs of your handbag. The solution? A cute mask chain. This invention looks like a necklace and functions like an eyeglass chain. It hangs around your neck to ensure your mask rests on your chest like a pair of sunglasses when not in use — and it makes your mask immediately accessible when you do reach for it. 

Try the Reuven Designs Gold Face Mask Chain ($14.50 from Etsy), a simple gold chain best-seller with a customizable length. For a classy option that looks like real jewelry, consider the Lima Jewelry Pearl Necklace Chain ($20.64 from Etsy). 

Find a Comfortable Fit

Cloth masks are the most breathable options, but health experts don’t recommend using them against Omicron. Instead, they suggest wearing an N95, KN95, or KF94 to protect against this more transmissible variant. Surgical masks are slightly better than cloth, and placing a cloth mask on top of a surgical one is more effective than wearing a surgical alone (because it tightens the fit).

KN95s come with ear loops, which are undoubtedly more comfortable to wear than the headstraps of N95s. However, you need to watch out for counterfeit N95s. Get yours from a site like Project N95, the National Clearinghouse for personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 tests. Their KN95 in stylish black ($14 from Project N95) and N95 ($35 from Project N95) provide the ultimate in protection.

For a more in-depth look at the best kind of masks to protect you from Omicron, check out this thorough breakdown of masks we recommend for the variant. Stay safe out there, and enjoy your summer!

We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.

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TCL 30 XE 5G Smartphone Review – CGMagazine

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TCL or “Telephone Communication Limited” is a lesser-known company in North America, more known for their TVs than they are known for their cell phones. While they may have used Blackberry’s brand name for the production of the KEY2, recently TCL has started producing cell phones under their own name and brand. Today we are looking at one of their latest models, the TCL 30 XE 5G, part of their 30 Series lineup. Listed at $355 CAD, the 30 XE is targeted more at the budget to lower mid-range class of users. Running alongside competitors such as the Samsung A13 5G, can TCL bring enough to the table to make a bigger name for themselves?  

Unboxing the phone is your fairly standard experience as with most phones these days. You get the phone, a USB-C charging cable with power brick, SIM Card eject tool and some basic paperwork. No headphones or case, unfortunately. The box itself shows a photo of the phone along with TCL branding and notable specs and features of the phone. 

The TCL itself is made of a sturdy-feeling matte plastic along the sides and back with a flat glass display. The side buttons are also made of plastic. Not a dealbreaker considering the price, and should be solid enough to satisfy most users. Along the top of the device is a microphone and a headphone jack, a very welcome addition in my opinion. Along the bottom, you will find another microphone, a single firing speaker, and the USB-C port for charging and data transfer.  

The sim tray along the left includes a single sim card slot and SD card slot supporting up to a 512 GB card, something I personally wish flagship devices continued to incorporate. Along the back you will find the triple camera array along with a snappy and accurate fingerprint reader. On the front you find a teardrop notch for the single selfie camera, the earpiece speaker and the pleasantly smooth 90 Hz 720p display. 

“Using the TCL 30 XE 5G as my daily device for the last little while has been an interesting experience.”

Upon booting up and setting the phone up for first use, you are greeted by one of your first notable surprises, a nearly stock build of Android 11. TCL is claiming to offer two years of security and software upgrades so, it will be interesting to see whether they follow through with that on a budget device. Most included stock apps are built by Google, although TCL includes their own camera and music player apps, along with a few others including a compass app, notes and even FM tuner app! That being said, those wanting to use the FM tuner will need to plug in a set of headphones to use it.  

Tcl 30 Xe 5G Smartphone Review 6

Using the TCL 30 XE 5G as my daily device for the last little while has been an interesting experience. Coming from my current flagship Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5g, the TCL 30 XE 5G was able to comfortably fit into my lifestyle and daily use without too much compromise. The reasonably large 64 GB of on-board storage was able to allow me to download all my apps without any hassle. Any files I needed on the go I stored on an SD card.  

The built-in 4500 mah battery was able to easily get me through a day and a half of fairly heavy use with tasks of snapping several pictures, messaging/calls, GPS use and even some moderate gaming. I was always going to bed with over 40% battery life and over 5 hours of screen-on time, all while having Bluetooth and 5G antennas enabled.  

“The built-in 4500 mah battery was able to easily get me through a day and a half of fairly heavy use with tasks of snapping several pictures, messaging/calls, GPS use and even some moderate gaming.”

Apps all launched quickly and ran smoothly without any notable issues thanks in part to the 4 GB of onboard RAM. This means browsing the web and scrolling endlessly through your social media feeds will feel generally seamless. Videos looked sharp and crisp despite only being a 720p display. Watching videos on the 6.52” screen meant I didn’t have to squint to see what I was watching, like on smaller phones of yesteryear.  

Tcl 30 Xe 5G Smartphone Review

The 90 Hz display made the device feel much more premium that competitors in this class of device. Many other devices still only offer a 60 Hz display. TCL’s included NXTVision software shines in this aspect as it helped to enhance the media I was viewing. Even under bright sunlight, the display was fully readable and clear, something those constantly outdoors will appreciate.  

Charging the phone when the battery was low was done at a respectable 18W, far from the slowest on the market but certainly not as fast as much more expensive phones. I found it generally took about two hours to completely recharge the phone, perfectly acceptable for those charging the phone at night or at a desk, not so much for the on-the-go user. 

“TCL has done an overall superb job with the TCL 30 XE 5G, they have certainly produced a great value phone for the price.”

With all the great stuff TCL has managed to pack into the TCL 30 XE 5G, there are bound to be some negatives, right? Unfortunately, this is all too true being a less expensive phone. Many times, I found myself wishing I had my Samsung for its photo quality. The included rear camera array TCL includes worked alright in well lit environments but inside with less-than-optimal lighting, images often came out blurry, grainy and did not produce an image I would want to share with others.  

Tcl 30 Xe 5G Smartphone Review 2

The same can be said for the selfie camera. In bright lighting, images look acceptably sharp but are not overly flattering. On top of that, while the single firing speaker can get adequately loud for a quiet room, I found it to be rather “tinny” at higher volume. I also found myself missing the stereo speakers on other past flagship level devices I’ve become accustom to.   

All that being said, it is important to remember that the TCL 30 XE 5G smartphone wasn’t built to impress high-end users such as myself. While I’d love to sit and tell you that I wish it had features such as wireless charging or an IP rating, it was made for the user who doesn’t want to spend a small fortune on a device. Someone looking for a device that can do day-to-day tasks without breaking the bank but still wants modern comforts with some of yesterday’s tech as well.  

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the TCL 30 XE 5G smartphone. It really goes to show that you don’t need a high-end flagship to do a lot of regular tasks these days. Smartphones have come a long way in the last several years, even the budget market has greatly stepped up their game. TCL has done an overall superb job with the 30 XE 5G, they have certainly produced a great value phone for the price

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