dartttt writes "Dell has launched a new Ubuntu gaming desktop (first ever?) . Alienware customers can now choose either Windows or Ubuntu when buying a new X51. Ubuntu option is initially available to U.S. customers only and the price starts from $599." Also in Ubuntu news: Canonical announced on Friday the final beta release of Ubuntu 13.04, aka Raring Ringtail (the main release, as well as the growing flock of other *buntus).
Adam Orth, creative director of Microsoft Studios, on Thursday tweeted that "doesn't get" objections to DRM schemes that require always-on internet connection to play console games. An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft on Friday released an official statement regarding the tweets: 'We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.'" I can't help reading those tweets in the voice of Sterling Archer.
beerdragoon writes "Electronic Arts CEO Peter Moore has responded to the company's appearance in the finals of the Consumerist's Worst Company In America poll. Moore accepts some responsibility for some of EA's past failings: 'I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes. These include server shut downs too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models and most recently, severely fumbling the launch of SimCity. We owe gamers better performance than this.' However, he ignores or contests many of the common complaints about the company — issues that earned it a spot in the finals for the second year in a row. Quoting: 'Many continue to claim the Always-On function in SimCity is a DRM scheme. It’s not. People still want to argue about it. We can’t be any clearer – it’s not. Period. ... Some people think that free-to-play games and micro-transactions are a pox on gaming. Tens of millions more are playing and loving those games."
ducomputergeek writes "Since the assault weapons ban seems to have died in Congress, it looks like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) now turning her attention to video games...again. '"If Sandy Hook doesn't [make game publishers change] then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future," said Feinstein. She went on to claim that video games play "a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that."' Yet, as the article points out, since the introduction of games like DOOM, the crime rate in the U.S. has gone down. Dramatically. Correlation != causation, and all that jazz, but there are a lot of violent video games these days and yet crime has continued to go down."
New submitter SoVi3t points out comments from Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth about the debate over always-online DRM, brought to the fore recently by the disastrous launch of SimCity and rumors that the next-gen Xbox console will require it. "Don't want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? 'Deal with it,' says Microsoft Studio's creative director. In what he later termed a 'fun lunch break,' Orth took to Twitter to express his shock at people who take umbrage with the idea of an always-on console. When quizzed by other Twitter users about people with no internet connection, he suggested that they should get one, as it is 'awesome.' He then likened people who worry about intermittent internet connectivity being an issue as the same as someone not buying a vacuum cleaner because the electricity sometimes goes out. While Orth later apologized, saying it had being a bit of banter with friends, it did raise awareness that there are more than a few people who are very unhappy with the possibility of an always-on future version of the Xbox. Orth has also now switched his Twitter account settings to private."
First time accepted submitter Patch86 writes "The team behind the Android-based OUYA games console have announced last week that they have begun shipping their first consoles. As the console originated as a Kickstarter project the first consoles will be shipped to backers; the console is due to be released for general sale for the 4th of June with a $99 price tag. As the BBC notes, this is the first of a series of major new entrants into the games console market, with others on the horizon including fellow Kickstarter Android project Gamestick, Nvidia's CES surprise Project Shield, and of course Valve's 'Steambox.'"
littlekorea writes "Mining companies are developing new systems for automating blasting of iron ore using the same open source physics engines adapted for games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. The same engine that determines 3D collision detection and soft body/rigid body dynamics in gaming will be applied to building 3D blast movement models — which will predict where blasted materials will land and distinguish between ore and waste. Predictive blast fragmentation models used in the past have typically been either numerical or empirical, [mining engineer Alan Cocker] said. Numerical models such as discrete element method, he noted, are onerous to configure and demanding of resources — both computing and human — and are generally not appropriate for operational use at mines. 'The problem with empirical models, by contrast, is that they tend to operate at a scale too coarse to give results useful for optimizations,' he added, noting typical Kuz-Ram-based fragmentation models (PDF) (widely used to estimate fragmentation from blasting) assume homogeneous geology (the same type of materials) throughout a blast."
An anonymous reader sends news that Disney is closing LucasArts. The game studio has been around since 1982, and brought us classics such as Labyrinth, The Secret of Monkey Island, X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and Star Wars: Battlefront. They also published Star Wars: Galaxies, Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. The company held a meeting today informing employees of the layoffs. "In some ways, the news is not a surprise. LucasArts had seemed directionless in recent years. The company's core business of games based on the Star Wars license have been largely disappointing in both quality and sales. While the company had some success with games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the Battlefront series, both of those franchises seemed to have died on the vine. The cancellation of Star Wars Battlefront III was particularly ugly, which led to nasty public fingerpointing between LucasArts and developer Free Radical. ... LucasArt's other big franchise, Indiana Jones, has failed to make much of a dent in games in recent years, with the exception of Traveller's Tales LEGO Indiana Jones series that, once again, was not developed by LucasArts. Meanwhile, series like Uncharted and Tomb Raider, which are both heavily influenced by the Indiana Jones films, have thrived." If only they hadn't abandoned the X-Wing series of games. I would have bought a new one of those in a heartbeat. Update: 04/04 18:09 GMT by T : Dice.com's news service (Dice.com is the corporate parent of Slashdot) mentions one small silver lining for those employees who stuck it out to the end: the best kind of parting gift. "Soon after the acquisition, a number of people departed LucasArts, deciding the time was right to head out in search of a new job. Many others remained, encouraged to hang on as long as they could by talk of generous severance packages. Sources among those laid off say the packages were, indeed, generous."
An anonymous reader writes "In preparation for the "Steam Box" game console that will make necessary their own Linux-based software platform, Valve developers have started publishing Debian packages for their platform which looks like their first-generation operating system will be derived from Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS. So far the packages being published include a new "Plymouth" boot splash screen as the operating system loads, a Steam desktop wallpaper, auto-updating system scripts, and experimental NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers."
RougeFemme writes "Indies beat out mainstream studios for most of the Game Developers Choice Awards. FTL: Faster Than Light, an independent game financed by a Kickstarter campaign, won the award for Best Debut. Because of the growing success of the indies, Eric Zimmerman, game designer and instructor at the NYU Game Center, is canceling the Game Design Challenge that he's held at the conference for the last 10 years. 'The idea of doing strange, bizarre, experimental games is no longer strange, bizarre or experimental.'"
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Guardian reports that Cuban programmers have unveiled a new 3D video game that puts a revolutionary twist on gaming, letting players recreate decisive clashes from the 1959 uprising in which many of their grandparents fought. 'The player identifies with the history of Cuba,' says Haylin Corujo, head of video game studies for Cuba's Youth Computing Club and leader of the team of developers who created Gesta Final – roughly translated as 'Final Heroic Deed'. 'You can be a participant in the battles that were fought in the war from '56 to '59.' The game begins with the user joining the 82 rebels who in 1956 sailed to Cuba from Mexico aboard the Granma. Players then fight their way through swamps shoulder-to-shoulder with bearded guerrillas clad in the olive green of Fidel Castro and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara to topple 1950s Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. The game lets you pick from three player profiles, one in an olive hat similar to the one Fidel Castro was known for, another wearing a Guevara-style beret and the last with the kind of helmet worn by the ill-fated Camilo Cienfuegos in many revolution-era photographs. Rene Vargas, a 29-year-old gamer who tried his hand at 'Gesta Final' when it was presented at a technology fair in Havana last week, says the graphics were surprisingly sophisticated. 'Bearing in mind the level of technical support there is in Cuba, it looks pretty good,' says Vargas. There are about 783,000 computers in this country of some 11 million inhabitants, according to government statistics from 2011. Private ownership of computers is low, but many Cubans access them at work, school or cyber cafes. 'We developed (it) keeping in mind the purchasing power and reality of Cubans,' says Corujo. 'It doesn't require incredible technological features.'"
adeelarshad82 writes "After being tweaked and polished for months with the help of feedback from pro gamers and enthusiasts alike, Razer's Project Fiona has finally come of age. Re-named as Razer Edge Pro, this gaming tablet is way more than a mere plaything. Razer Edge Pro is a beast which packs a dual-core Intel Core i7-3517U Ivy Bridge processor with 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics card with 2GB of dedicated memory. All this in a small 7 by 11 by 0.8 inches wide frame which weighs only 2.14 pounds. Comparing the Razer Edge to anything else is tough, considering that it doesn't necessarily have a true competitor. However in a series of performance comparisons with other powerful tablets and ultraportable gaming laptops, Razer Edge performed better than the tablets but wasn't at par with ultraportable gaming laptops. For instance when comparing scores from 3DMark 11, the Edge Pro scored 2,503 points at entry settings and 504 points in extreme mode putting it ahead of both competing tablets, the Microsoft Surface Pro (1,055 Entry, 206 Extreme) and Samsung ATIV SmartPC (1,044 Entry, couldn't run at Extreme mode), but behind the gaming-focused laptops, like the the Maingear Pulse 11 (3,868 Entry, 724 Extreme) and the Razer Blade (3,458 Entry, 716 Extreme). What's baffling is that with all accessories incuded (gamepad dock and the console dock) the final price of the tablet is a cool $1,870, which most expensive than not only the two tablets tested but also the two gaming gaming laptops compared. It remains to be seen whether the Razer Edge Pro is something special or just on the edge of it."
Yesterday, Sony gave a presentation explaining a bit about the new PS4 hardware, the development environment (Windows 7 based IDE), and the changes to the Dual Shock controller. From the article: "The system is also set up to run graphics and computational code synchronously, without suspending one to run the other. Norden says that Sony has worked to carefully balance the two processors to provide maximum graphics power of 1.843 teraFLOPS at an 800Mhz clock speed while still leaving enough room for computational tasks. The GPU will also be able to run arbitrary code, allowing developers to run hundreds or thousands of parallelized tasks with full access to the system's 8GB of unified memory. ... The DualShock 4 controller that's standard on the PS4 eliminates one feature that was seldom used on the PS3 —the analog face buttons..." The trackpad will support two touch points, the rumble motors can be controlled more finely, and the analog sticks were tweaked for "reduced dead zone and better feeling tension that grips your thumbs."
Leap Motion product (they only have one right now) does is allow you to control your computer with gestures. We're not talking about just jumping around, but "painting" on the screen with your fingers (or even chopsticks) with fine enough control that Autodesk and other drawing-orientd software vendors are working to make applications compatible with the Leap Motion Controller. And game developers? You bet! Lots of them -- and this is for a device that's not even supposed to start shipping until May 13. But, says CEO Michael Buckwald, they already have "hundreds of thousands of pre-orders," so it looks like they are developing a large market for developers (over 12,000 are in the Leap Motion developer program -- out of 50,000 who applied) so it's possible that Leap Motion could become a pretty big deal. (You can see the Leap Motion Controller in action at the end of the video.)
kandelar writes with news that BioShock: Infinite has been released. It's the third major release in the series of BioShock first-person shooters, and it's available for Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows. The game is garnering good critical reception, for the most part. Rock, Paper, Shotgun said, "Infinite is a game ruled by artists at least as much as it is by its writers. It’s the ultimate answer to the question of whether art or technology is the most important part of creating a visually excellent game – Crysis 3 might have far more going on under the hood, but its uninspired paintjob makes it seem so dull compared to Infinite’s vaguely Pixar-esque fusion of the photoreal and the colourfully unreal." Ars' reviewer wrote, "Infinite's battle system doesn't wear out its welcome or weigh down the game's excellent pacing. Infinite avoids the problem of near-endless waves of identical enemies that plagues so many shooters these days. The bits of shooting action are spaced and timed to serve as gentle punctuation marks that break up the story rather than full stops that bring it to a grinding halt." However, RPS adds this criticism of the player's effect the plot: "Infinite’s a triumph in terms of fantasy-architecture spectacle and bringing superb flexibility to the modern rollercoaster shooter, but in other respects it’s a small step down from the player agency and even the singular aesthetic of BioShock."
An anonymous reader writes "Homebrew Coder Pate has released a DOS Emulator for the Raspberry Pi. Originally released for the Nintendo DS and Android, the emulator currently can emulate a CPU: 80486 processor, including the protected mode features (for running DOS4GW games) but without virtual memory support. The emulation runs at a speed around that of a 20MHz 80486 (which equals a 40MHz 80386) machine. It has support for Super VGA graphics, Soundblaster 2.0, Memory, USB keyboard and mouse. Perfect for playing old classics such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D and Theme Park."
First time accepted submitter Sodki writes "The Linux Game Tome, one of the most important websites related to video gaming in GNU/Linux, will shut down on the 13th of April, according to a news post published on the website. The decision was made due to the 'lack both the time and the ambition to do what is necessary to keep the site afloat,' which has resulted in 'spam clogging the forums, lack of updates and increasing brokenness of the site.' This might not be the end, though. The maintainers of The Linux Game Tome will make available a dump of the games database, so that anyone interested can cook up a new and updated version of the website, and a worthwhile effort will be considered for a transfer of ownership of the domain. The current source code of the website, which is from 1999, will not be available because 'it is not fit for human consumption.'" It certainly had a good run; I remember poking around the Linux Game Tome as a teenager in the misty past (and it's where I discovered Freeciv, Warzone 2100, and lbreakout2). Are there any alternatives already operating (unfortunately, Freecode doesn't seem popular with game authors)? Or: Which one of you is going to write the Linux Game Tome 3.0?
An anonymous reader writes "While much of the scrutiny following the lone gunman-perpetrated massacres at Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT has fallen on the National Rifle Association and its lobbying efforts against gun control, the shooters in both of the aforementioned incidents seemed to have been encouraged by violence in movies and video games. The New York Daily News' Mike Lupica reported last week that investigators of the Newtown case found a huge spreadsheet in the Lanza home where 20-year old Adam Lanza had methodically charted hundreds of past gun massacres, including the number of people killed and the make and model of weapons used. A Connecticut policeman told Lupica 'it sounded like a doctoral thesis, that was the quality of the research', and added, '[Mass killers such as Lanza] don't believe this was just a spreadsheet. They believe it was a score sheet. This was the work of a video gamer'. In response, the Entertainment Software Association and other lobbyists representing the video game industry have ramped up their Washington lobbying efforts. While still tiny in dollar terms next to the NRA's warchest, this effort seemed to help derail a proposal to fund a Justice Department study of the effects of video games on gun violence, offered as an amendment on the gun control bill by a Republican senator. A spokesman summarized the ESA's position: 'Extensive research has already been conducted and found no connection between media and real-life violence.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Archos have finally released their much anticipated touchscreen gamepad in the USA. The console boasts a Arm Cortex Dual-core A9 1.6GHz cpu, 1024MB Ram, 8GB internal storage and uses the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS. The Gamepad has 14 physical buttons and dual analog thumb-sticks as well as a touchscreen which means the latest 3D Android games should work great and for fans of emulation the traditional gamepad design and buttons will make N64/PS1 emulators work great on the gamepad." CNET UK was unimpressed, calling it "a bitter disappointment"; IGN was more optimistic, especially at its sub-$200 price.
An anonymous reader writes "You see those stories popping up every now and then — new Dreamcast game released, first SNES game in 15 years etc — but an in-depth feature published today takes a look at the teams behind the retro revival, and looks at why they do what they do. Surprisingly, there seems to be a viable audience for new releases — one developer says his games sell better on Dreamcast than they do on Nintendo Wii. Even if the buyers vanished, the retro games would still keep coming though: 'I wager I'd have to be dead, or suffering from a severe case of amnesia, to ever give this up completely,' says one developer." Update: 03/23 18:28 GMT by T : If you want to play original classic games on new hardware, instead of the other way around, check out Hyperkin's RetroN 3, which can play cartridges from 5 classic consoles.
squiggleslash writes "Concerned about their use as fronts for gambling operations, the Florida legislature passed a law banning Internet cafes. The law appears to be a reaction in part to the recent stepping down of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, embroiled in a scandal involving a company that operates Internet Cafes. More ordinary cafes with Wi-fi, where you supply your own computer (such as Starbucks), are not affected by the ban." The nomenclature here is confusing; the bill (PDF) (summary) is clearly aimed only at "cafes" that are essentially gambling venues; an Internet cafe wouldn't violate the proposed rule merely by providing computers. Whatever you think of prohibitions on gambling among consenting adults, the bill itself is sort of amusing for its very specific loopholes for bingo and "reverse vending machines."
jones_supa writes "Many Slashdotters are probably aware of the 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System platformer classic DuckTales (video, designed around the Disney cartoon series. Capcom announced today at their PAX East panel that they are resurrecting the beloved game. Developed by Wayforward and Capcom, DuckTales: Remastered is something of a remake based on the original version. The embedded video shows some solid back-to-basics platformer action. The game will be out this summer for Xbox Live, PSN, and Wii U."
UgLyPuNk writes "Blizzard has revealed its 'something new' at PAX East 2013: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft — a 'charming collectible strategy game set in the Warcraft universe.'" Blizzard says this game is a departure from their normal development process: it was made with a team of just 15, will release this year, and it's free-to-play. Hearthstone is built for Mac OS, Windows, and iPads. There's a deck builder, a match-finder, and AI for those who don't want to play against other people. While it's free to play, and players will earn new packs of cards by playing, there will also be an option to purchase new packs.
First time accepted submitter danhuby writes "Apple have removed sweatshop-themed game Sweatshop HD by UK developers LittleLoud from their app store citing clause 16.1 — 'Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected.' According to the PocketGamer article, Littleloud's head of games, Simon Parkin, told Pocket Gamer that 'Apple removed Sweatshop from the App Store last month stating that it was uncomfortable selling a game based around the theme of running a sweatshop.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Have the storytelling capabilities of the two already met? A New Yorker interview with Gears of War 4 writer Tom Bissell explores the question. Bissell says, 'More and more, I’m seeing that games are mining good, old-fashioned human anxieties for their drama, and that’s really promising. Games, more and more, are not just about shooting and fighting, and for that reason I’m optimistic and heartened about where the medium is heading, because I think game designers are getting more interested in making games that explore what it means to be alive. ... At the same time, though, pure storytelling is never going to be the thing that games do better than anything. Games are primarily about a connection between the player, the game world, and the central mechanic of the game. They’re about creating a space for the player to engage with that mechanic and have the world react in a way that feels interesting and absorbing but also creates a sense of agency. So writing, in games, is about creating mood and establishing a basic sense of intent. The player has some vague notion of what the intent of the so-called author is, but the power of authorship is ultimately for the player to seize for him or herself.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello might have resigned in the wake of the company's disastrous SimCity launch, but his departure might not be a bad thing for EA as a company. On Glassdoor, his 59 percent rating was 9 points below the average. One outside recruiter says Riccitiello's taken the fun out of the game maker's culture. 'They've never had a problem getting good talent and that's not likely to change,' says the recruiter, who requested anonymity because of his business dealings with the company. 'But, they've had problems getting great talent and that's not likely to change.' Let this be a lesson to gaming executives everywhere: if you're going to launch a popular title that needs to be constantly connected to online servers, make sure you have enough backend infrastructure in place to actually handle the load." A related article suggests EA needs to worry less about piracy and more about the company's apathy and legitimate customers who demanded a refund.
skade88 writes "Neoseeker and the Verge are reporting that the Oculus Rift launch will no longer have Doom 3 BFG support. But in some good news to offset the bad, Valve will be releasing an Oculus ready version of TF2 when the Dev kits ship. For those backers who are upset about not having Doom 3 BFG edition support on launch of the Oculus Rift, they are offering the following options: '$20 Steam Wallet credit ... $25 Oculus Store credit ... or a full refund for your pledge.'"
rcade writes "Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, the creators of the old-school super-hero roleplaying game Villains & Vigilantes, have won a copyright and trademark lawsuit over the game's publisher Scott Bizar of Fantasy Games Unlimited. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey of the U.S. District Court of Arizona ruled that Jeff Dee and Jack Herman own the rights to the game based on the 1979 contract they reached with Bizar. The court also found that Bizar never had the right to sell derivative products or ebook PDF editions, which are a big deal to tabletop publishers these days. Too bad this judge didn't hear Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's case."
Hesh writes "The University of Southern California has launched a website that contains the blueprints for many of their custom VR headsets as well as new mods to the much anticipated yet unreleased Oculus Rift. Some are helping push DIY VR forward through custom sensor mounts to support, for example, stereo cameras and others add more functionality like new eye cups to help increase the already large FOV of the headset. This is truly an exciting time for VR; by GDC, developers will already have Rifts in hand and tinkerers can 3D-print their own designs now as well!"
jones_supa writes "The cartoon heroes are back, with even stronger superpowers. Deep Silver Volition has announced Saints Row IV for an August launch. From the press release: 'In the next open-world installment of Saints Row, Deep Silver Volition continues the story of the Third Street Saints by elevating their status to the highest level – the leaders of the free world. In Saints Row IV, the head honcho of the Saints has been elected to the Presidency of the United States. Saints Row IV lets players delve into an arsenal of alien weaponry and technology that will turn each Saint into an ultimate entity of destruction. The player utilizes out-of-this-world superpowers to fight all the way to the top. With intensified action and enhanced customization, the protagonists can use their newfound superpowers and leap over buildings, outrun the fastest sports cars, or send enemies flying with telekinesis in the most insane installment of Saints Row yet.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Tony Tamsai, Nvidia's senior vice president of content and technology, has said that providing hardware for use in the PlayStation 4 was on the table, but they walked away. Having provided chips for use in both the PS3 and the original Xbox, that decision doesn't come without experience. Nvidia didn't want to commit to producing hardware at the cost Sony was willing to pay. They also considered that by accepting a PS4 contract, they wouldn't have the resources to do something else in another sector. In other words, the PS4 is not a lucrative enough platform to consider when high-end graphics cards and the Tegra line of chips hold so much more revenue potential."
First time accepted submitter kdogg73 writes "Jens Bergensten and the Mojang team have released the latest version of Minecraft — version 1.5, dubbed 'Redstone.' Changes and updates include an added redstone comparator, redstone block, hoppers and droppers, light and weight sensors, Herobrine removal, and many bug fixes. Videos detailing the changes and new redstone devices already litter YouTube."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Geek.com: "Ever since SimCity launched, there has been a suspicion that the need for the game to always be connected to a server was mainly a form of DRM, not for social game features and multiplayer. Then a Maxis developer came forward to confirm the game doesn't actually need a server to function, suggesting the information coming out of EA wasn't the whole truth. Now EA and Maxis have some explaining to do as a modder has managed to get the game running offline indefinitely." The writer names a few small ways in which the game is actually improved by being offline, too.
Hesh writes "With the impending arrival of the first batch of Oculus Rift VR headsets to developers, Rod Furlan put up a very detailed guide on how to build your very own headset with off-the-shelf parts and a few hours of spare time based off of the original design of the headset from the forums where it all started. This is a very exciting time for VR, and DIY headsets will allow everyone to try out new tricks and form factors while finally being able to test with a whole new world of compatible software that is about to be released very soon."
Today Blizzard launched its first expansion to StarCraft 2, titled Heart of the Swarm. When initially developing StarCraft 2, Blizzard made the decision to split the game into three parts, each with a campaign as long as the original StarCraft. The initial release in 2010, Wings of Liberty, centered on the story of the Terrans. The newly-released Heart of the Swarm is focused on the Zerg. The final release, Legacy of the Void, will dedicate its campaign to the Protoss (and does not have a projected release timeframe yet). In addition to the new campaign, new units have been introduced for multiplayer and new maps have been added, which ought to shake things up in the competitive landscape. Blizzard has also made long-awaited improvements to the social system, including support for groups and clans.
adeelarshad82 writes "The SimCity launch debacle is only the latest in an increasingly frustrating string of affronts to gamers' rights as customers. Before SimCity, we had Ubisoft's always-on DRM (that the company only ended quietly after massive outcry from gamers). We had the forced online and similarly unplayable launch of Diablo III. We had games like Asura's Wrath and Final Fantasy: All the Bravest that required you to pay more money just to complete them after you purchase them. And let us never forget the utter infamy of StarForce, SecuROM, and Sony's copy protection, which installed rootkits on computers without users' knowledge. As one recently published article argues, maybe it's time for gamers to demand adoption of a Bill of Rights."
6 writes "Destructoid, one of the few remaining bastions of independent game journalism online, wonders what to do now that nearly 50% of their users run ad-blockers."
New submitter ghops spotted Engadget's coverage of an interesting gaming machine at SXSW, writing: "Multimorphic shows off the P3, an innovative multi-game pinball platform. With a 27" 'touchscreen' LCD in the lower playfield and modular shot layouts comprising the upper playfield, the P3 delivers a 'one machine, many games' system where the physical pinball can interact with graphics on the screen as it rolls towards traditional, physical objects (ramps, loops, targets, etc) on the upper playfield. The system will ship with two games, one designed by famed pinball designer Dennis Norman, and it's an open platform allowing anybody to develop their own shot layouts and/or software. Because of its ball tracking technology, it can even play itself!"
New submitter captioning writes "The Los Angeles Times reports on Throw Trucks With Your Mind, a multiplayer first-person 'gunless shooter' that uses an inexpensive, wireless EEG (electroencephalograph) headset to measure players' brainwaves and move virtual objects on screen. Depending on the strength of players' beta waves (emitted while concentrating), players toss small items like crates or catapult objects like trucks. Players can also draw things toward them by relaxing (and emitting alpha waves). Greater relaxation results in more power as well, so players learn quickly to be careful when attracting trucks. The success of Throw Trucks could lead to stronger demand for neural feedback games worldwide."
An anonymous reader writes "The SimCity launch earlier this week was a complete disaster. Single player games that require an Internet connection to enable forced multiplayer features (as well as acting as a form of DRM) is bad enough, but then to not be prepared for the demand such a popular franchise has, well, that's just dumb, and Lucy Bradshaw, EA's general manager for the Maxis Label, has admitted exactly that." They did not provide much details, but supposedly anyone who has SimCity now should get "a free PC download game from the EA portfolio." They are unrepentant about the always-online requirement though.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Geek.com: "In what must be a big blow for EA and Maxis, Amazon has stopped selling download copies of the just released SimCity. The game has at time of writing received 833 reviews on Amazon, and has an average rating of just one star. That's because 740 of those are one star reviews. Only 20 people gave it 5 stars. There's few better ways to gauge how a game has been received, and this is pretty damning as to how EA has handled the launch."
mikejuk writes "Microsoft Research is currently having a Techfest at Redmond where it is showing off a lot of new work. The latest work on the Kinect uses the same sort of machine-learning approach to distinguish between an open hand and a clenched fist. Although there are no details, its general method was to use a large number of images of people's hands and supervised training to distinguish between open and closed hands. The learning algorithm is based on a forest of decision trees, which is the same general method used to implement the skeleton tracking. Being able to detect an open or closed hand might not seem to be much of an advance, and certainly not as good as a multi-gesture touch screen interface, but it is enough to allow the user interface to distinguish a "pick up" or "grip" gesture. So you can move the hands within an image, close both hands to grip the image points and move apart to zoom. You can't get the software at the moment, but it has been promised for the next version of the Kinect SDK for Windows along with the long awaited 3D scanner Kinect Fusion."
New submitter abuelos84 writes "Just a few hours after the Kickstarter project was opened to the public, Torment: Tides of Numenera, successor of the legendary Planescape:Torment, had been funded. In the dev's own words: 'Our heads are still spinning at the incredible response we have had from today's support of our Kickstarter campaign. We had plans to roll out our stretch goals and to write our Kickstarter updates but never in our wildest dreams did we think we would fund this quickly!!! We are joyfully scrambling right now to get a longer update and some stretch goals in front of you as soon as we can. We should have more to say later today.'"
It seems that the requirement to be online and save games on a remote server even in single player mode is leading to a less than ideal launch for SimCity 5. choke writes "Players attempting to play EA/Maxis' new SimCity game are finding that their save games are tied to a particular server, are facing problems with disconnects, inability to track friends or search for specific coop games online and failures to load game, and wait times of 20 minutes per login attempt. The question is, why the online restriction? Does this possibly indicate future micro-transactions in game?"
New submitter Dputiger writes "Nvidia's latest GTX Titan puts a renewed focus on multi-monitor gaming, but how does it compare against other cards at half the price? 'The games we tested fall into two general camps. Arkham City, DiRT 3, and Serious Sam: BFE are all absolutely playable on the GTX 680 or 7970 in a single-card configuration, even with detail settings turned all the way up. Shogun 2, Metro 2033, and Crysis 3 aren’t. In Shogun 2 and Metro 2033, however, the Titan maintains a playable frame rate at High Detail when the other two cards are stumbling and stuttering. Crysis 3 was the one exception — in that game, all three cards remained playable at High Detail, and dropped below that mark once we increased to Very High Detail and added 4x SMAA.' Field of view adjustments, the impact of bezels, and single-card performance at multiple detail levels are all covered, as is the price of multi-screen setups."
An anonymous reader writes "Valve has just released its February, 2013 Steam Hardware & Software Survey, and the results are absolutely mind blowing. Linux is now standing strong as a legitimate gaming platform. It now represents 2.02% of all active Steam users." That's in keeping with what new submitter lars_doucet found. Lars writes: "I'm an independent game developer lucky enough to be on Steam. Recently, the Steam Linux client officially went public and was accompanied by a site-wide sale. The Linux sale featured every single Linux-compatible game on the service, including our cross-platform game Defender's Quest. .... Bottom line: during the sale we saw nearly 3 times as many Linux sales of the game as Mac (Windows still dominated overall)."
silentbrad writes "Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, posted a blog entry titled 'Nickels, dimes, and quarters' yesterday, advocating that gamers dissatisfied with the current trend toward DLC and microtransactions should vote with their wallets. Quoting: 'The video game industry is just that. An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you're welcome to spend your money on whatever you please or to refrain from spending that money. ... Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been. Never mind the ratio of the hours of joy you get from a game per dollar compared to film. To produce a high quality game it takes tens of millions of dollars, and when you add in marketing that can get up to 100+ million. ... I've seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They're a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are "nickel and diming them." They're raging at "big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money." I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy." I think it's bulls*** that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong. ... If you don't like EA, don't buy their games. If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple. ... The market as I have previously stated is in such a sense of turmoil that the old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. "Free to play" aka "Free to spend 4 grand on it" is here to stay, like it or not. ... People like to act like we should go back to "the good ol' days" before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers. Those games were designed to make you lose so that you had to keep spending money on them. Ask any of the old Midway vets about their design techniques. The second to last boss in Mortal Kombat 2 was harder than the last boss, because when you see the last boss that's sometimes enough for a gamer. ... If you don't like the games, or the sales techniques, don't spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars.'"