The Greatest Leap, part 3: The triumph and near-tragedy of the first Moon landing

The Greatest Leap, part 3: The triumph and near-tragedy of the first Moon landing

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

A vast, gray expanse loomed just a few hundred meters below as Neil Armstrong peered out his tiny window. From inside the spidery lunar lander, a fragile cocoon with walls only about as thick as construction paper, the Apollo 11 commander finally had a clear view of where the on-board computer had directed him to land.

He did not like what he saw there. A big crater. Boulders strewn all around. A death trap.

To make matters worse, Eagle had limited fuel reserves. If Armstrong couldn’t find a safe landing site soon, he would have to ditch the bottom half of the lander and burn like hell for lunar orbit in a dangerous and risky abort procedure. Otherwise, he and Buzz Aldrin would not only become the first humans to

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The Greatest Leap, part 2: The 50/50 bet that won the Space Race for America

The Greatest Leap, part 2: The 50/50 bet that won the Space Race for America

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

By the summer of 1968, a sense of deep unease had engulfed the American republic. Early in the year, the Tet Offensive smashed any lingering illusions of a quick victory in the increasingly bloody Vietnam conflict. Race relations boiled over in April when a single rifle bullet took the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Two months later, as Bobby Kennedy walked through a hotel kitchen, he was shot in the head. The red, white, and blue threads that had bound America for nearly two centuries were faded and fraying.

Amid this national turmoil, senior planners at the country’s space agency were also having a difficult year. Late that summer they quietly faced their most consequential decision to date. If NASA was going to meet the challenge laid out by President

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The Greatest Leap, part 1: How the Apollo fire propelled NASA to the Moon

The Greatest Leap, part 1: How the Apollo fire propelled NASA to the Moon

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

Seated in Mission Control, Chris Kraft neared the end of a tedious Friday afternoon as he monitored a seemingly interminable ground test of the Apollo 1 spacecraft. It was January 1967, and communications between frustrated astronauts inside the capsule on its Florida launch pad and the test conductors in Houston sputtered periodically through his headset. His mind drifted.

Sudden shouts snapped him to attention. In frantic calls coming from the Apollo cockpit, fear had replaced frustration. Amid the cacophony, Kraft heard the Apollo program’s most capable astronaut, Gus Grissom, exclaim a single word.

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We asked, you answered: Rebecca Ford reviews your Warframe frames

We asked, you answered: Rebecca Ford reviews your Warframe frames

Video shot by Sean Dacanay, edited by Justin Wolfson. Click here for transcript.

About a month ago, Ars posted a couple of calls to action in our forums and on Reddit: we wanted to take your coolest Warframe designs and get them in front of the game’s developers at Digital Extremes to see what the company thinks of the community’s creations. Digital Extremes told us they don’t have a great way of sorting through all the different player designs on the backend, so we asked you to show us what you got.

It took a bit to get things filmed, but this morning we’re happy to present Digital Extremes Community Director Rebecca Ford with some analysis of the submissions. We last heard from Rebecca just about a year ago when we ran a video featuring her and game director Steve Sinclair answering questions about Warframe’s lore and unsolved mysteries

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War Stories: How Subnautica made players love being hunted by sea creatures

War Stories: How Subnautica made players love being hunted by sea creatures

Directed by Sean Dacanay, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Transcript available shortly.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, game designer Charlie Cleveland had a goal: he wanted to make a game that wasn’t built around guns and combat. The underwater exploration game he and the folks at Unknown Worlds Entertainment eventually built is a sleeper masterpiece—a game that manages to evoke awe and wonder while also not really requiring you to kill anything.

But getting from prototype to release took years of iterating, including an Early Access period for pulling in lots of player feedback. Cleveland’s core idea was to build a game focused on what he calls “the thrill of the unknown”—created by giving players a seemingly depthless underwater world to explore and by filling that world with wonder and mysteries and “creatures” rather than “monsters.” Cleveland names fellow designer Jenova Chen (of Flower and Journey fame)

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War Stories: How This War of Mine manipulates your emotions

War Stories: How This War of Mine manipulates your emotions

This video contains some minor spoilers for a non-critical location in the game.

Video shot by Dawid Kurowski, edited by John Cappello. Click here for transcript.

Chances are good that you already have This War of Mine in your Steam library. The side-view, survival-horror adventure game is a perennial favorite on various Steam sales, and at least 4.5 million people have picked up a copy since its release in 2014. But as with many Steam sale titles, it’s perhaps a bit less likely that you’ve played the game—and if you haven’t, that’s a shame, because it’s damn good.

But it’s also a hard game to experience—and I’m not talking about the difficulty level. This War of Mine’s developers are Polish, and they come from a country and a culture that still bears the scars of post-war Nazi occupation. Lead programmer Aleksander Kauch explained that one of the primary things

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War Stories: Lucas Pope and what almost sunk Return of the Obra Dinn

War Stories: Lucas Pope and what almost sunk Return of the Obra Dinn

Video shot and edited by Justin Wolfson. Click here for transcript.

Lucas Pope is an important name in modern gaming—not only did he help bring us Uncharted and Uncharted 2, but he’s also responsible for the indie smash hit Papers, Please, which managed to pack a surprising amount of storytelling and emotion into what is effectively a document stamping simulator.

But we’re particularly fond of Pope’s 2018 murder mystery Return of the Obra Dinn, where players must figure out what happened to all 60 souls aboard a ship that has turned up in port bereft of life (think sort of a mash-up of Clue and Event Horizon). The game’s low-fi monochrome graphical style is meant to evoke 80s- and 90s-era Macintosh adventure games, and it works stunningly well—the stark polygonal shapes and 1-bit stipple-shading are instantly evocative of the era. (For me, firing up Obra

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Video: Slay the Spire is a friendly game of death, but it was hard to get it right

Video: Slay the Spire is a friendly game of death, but it was hard to get it right

Video directed by Justin Wolfson, edited by John Cappello. Click here for transcript.

Normally, we devote our “War Stories” videos to established and classic games of old. So what is a 2019 video game doing here?

Anyone who asks this question about Slay the Spire, made by a three-person studio in Seattle, hasn’t played this wonderful title. It’s arguably the most addictive, accessible, and strategy-filled digital card game we’ve seen in years. So we wanted to talk to its dealers about the game’s irresistible properties.

The result is the above interview, which is peppered with developer Mega Crit’s insights (and at least one Easter egg). We’re glad we sought out this younger team, because their answers revolved largely around the Steam Early Access system, which is still a pretty small drop in the bucket of game design history. Designers Anthony Giovannetti and Casey Yano sought a

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