Nerval's Lobster writes "Online economies come with their own issues. Case in point is the Auction House for Diablo III, a massively multiplayer game in which players can pay for items in either in-game gold or real-world dollars. Thanks to a bug in the game's latest patch, players could generate massive amounts of virtual gold with little effort, which threatened to throw the in-game economy seriously out of whack. Diablo series publisher Blizzard took corrective steps, but the bug has already attracted a fair share of buzz on gaming and tech-news forums. 'We're still in the process of auditing Auction House and gold trade transactions,' read Blizzard's note on the Battle.net forums. 'We realize this is an inconvenience for many of our players, and we sincerely apologize for the interruption of the service. We hope to have everything back up as soon as possible.' Blizzard was unable to offer an ETA for when the Auction House would come back. 'We'll continue to provide updates in this thread as they become available.' Diablo's gold issue brings up (however tangentially) some broader issues with virtual currencies, namely the bugs and workarounds that can throw an entire micro-economy out of whack. But then again, 'real world' markets have their own software-related problems: witness Wall Street's periodic 'flash crashes' (caused, many believe, by the rise of ultra-high-speed computer trading)." It seems likely the gold duping was due to a simple integer overflow bug. A late change added to the patch allowed users to sell gold on the Real Money Auction House in stacks of 10 million rather than stacks of 1 million. On the RMAH, there exists both a cap ($250) and a floor ($0.25) for the value of auctions. With stacks of 1 million and a floor of $0.25, a seller could only enter 1 billion gold (1,000 stacks) while staying under the $250 cap. When the gold stack size increased, the value of gold dropped significantly. At $0.39 per 10 million, a user could enter values of up to 6.4 billion gold at a time. Unfortunately, the RMAH wasn't designed to handle gold numbers above 2^31, or 2,147,483,648 gold. Creating the auction wouldn't remove enough gold, but canceling it would return the full amount.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader tipped us to news of an interesting hack for the Oculus Rift: a simulation of being beheaded by a Guillotine. Thrown together in a couple of days at the Exile Code Jam, the simulation lets you... "look around to see the blade above, the crowd of onlookers around them, and the executioner who signals the blade be dropped. It also enhances the experience when someone watches the blade falling on a nearby screen and taps the user on the back of the neck at the time of impact." Just a bit morbid. There's a video of people "playing" (nsfw language in a few reactions to being virtually beheaded).
An anonymous reader writes "Electronic Arts announced today it has landed an exclusive multi-year agreement to develop and publish games based on Lucasfilms' Star Wars universe. EA said the it will create and publish Star Wars games for a 'core gaming audience' across 'all popular platforms' and genres. The EA studios creating those 'core' Star Wars games are Battlefield developer DICE, Dead Space developer Visceral Games and Mass Effect house BioWare."
alancronin writes "Valve have released Portal for Linux through the Steam platform. If you have a copy of the Windows version you will automatically have a copy of it for Linux in your account. There are also rumors of Portal 2 coming soon."
MojoKid writes "Google has its hands in every other aspect of the tech industry, so why not gaming, too? It appears as though the company is eyeing a run at the gaming market by hiring Noah Falstein as its 'Chief Game Designer.' Falstein's LinkedIn profile has been updated to reflect his new title, which is the latest in a long career. He started out in 1980 and put in time at (the recently-defunct) Lucasfilm Games as well as 3DO and Dreamworks Interactive."
jtogel writes "This New Scientist article describes our AI system that automatically generates card games. The article contains a description of a playable card game generated by our system. But card games are just the beginning... The card game generator is a part of a larger project to automatise all of game development using artificial intelligence methods — we're also working on level generation for a variety of different games, and on rule generation for simple arcade-like games."
New submitter JoeKilner writes "The Turbulenz HTML5 games engine has been released as open source under the MIT license. The engine is a full 3D engine written in TypeScript and using WebGL. To see what the engine is capable off, check out this video of a full 3D FPS running in the browser using the Turbulenz engine and Quake 4 assets. You can see some of the games already developed with the engine at Turbulenz.com. (Note — to try the games without registering, hit the big blue 'Play as Guest' button.) Also, IE doesn't have WebGL support yet, so to play without a plugin try Chrome or FIrefox."
cylonlover writes "At CES in January, Microsoft Research teased its IllumiRoom concept, which involves projecting an image around a TV screen to enhance video games with additional visuals. Unfortunately, the company didn't offer much info beyond a short video that briefly showed it in action. But the team behind the project recently showed up at the CHI 2013 conference in Paris with some more in-depth details about how IllumiRoom will not only expand the game screen, but completely alter the appearance of your living room."
itwbennett writes "Force feedback in video games (when the game controller shakes and vibrates in response to an experience in the game) has been around for a while now. But a research project on display at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris this week takes it a step further, administering small electric shocks."
Vigile writes "One of the drawbacks to high end graphics has been the lack of low cost and massively-available displays with a resolution higher than 1920x1080. Yes, 25x16/25x14 panels are coming down in price, but it might be the influx of 4K monitors that makes a splash. PC Perspective purchased a 4K TV for under $1500 recently and set to benchmarking high end graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA at 3840x2160. For under $500, the Radeon HD 7970 provided the best experience, though the GTX Titan was the most powerful single GPU option. At the $1000 price point the GeForce GTX 690 appears to be the card to beat with AMD's continuing problems on CrossFire scaling. PC Perspective has also included YouTube and downloadable 4K video files (~100 mbps) as well as screenshots, in addition to a full suite of benchmarks."
woohoodonuts writes "The Professional & Amateur Pinball Association is creating a webchannel that will livestream content from their national circuit of tournaments ranging from Southern California to New York City. The most recent circuit tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania sold out of all 400 tournament openings in less than three weeks, months in advance of the event. With several new companies in the process of creating machines and hundreds of new competitive events springing up worldwide at a record pace, is the retro silverball rising to prominence once again?"
John Wagger writes "When Greenheart Games released their very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, they did something unusual and as far as I know unique. They released a cracked version of the game, minutes after opening their Store. The pirated copy was completely same as the real copy, except that after a few hours into the game, players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator."
CCP Games, creators of the successful space MMORPG EVE Online, have announced they will be harvesting stories from within the game to create comic books, a TV series, and possibly even films set in the EVE universe. EVE has never set records for the size of its userbase, but it's long been known as a game that generates some of the best emergent gameplay in the industry. From battles involving thousands of players to in-game confidence schemes involving currency worth tens of thousands of real dollars, it's likely you've heard about players' exploits even if you haven't played the game. CCP is now looking to bring the EVE universe to a wider audience, and rather than having a group of writers dictate all of the lore, they're letting the players take part. They've set up a site where users can share their tales and vote on those of others. CCP has partnered with Dark Horse Comics to make a comic book out of the stories, and with a production company to make a live-action TV show.
An anonymous reader writes "The new Xbox is almost here and the details appear to strongly suggest 'always on' is the way forward. We all know that this is an artificial requirement and certainly there are plenty of people on all sides of the table. To paraphrase the user 'tuffy' who commented on this issue at Ars Technica recently; if you're trying to sell 'always online' as a feature of the future, there needs to be some benefit for me the customer. There is not one. Or, rather, there is no sign yet of any actual clearly compelling reason why any end user would support this limitation to their purchase. So, what's the best way to express this? Spend your money on an Ouya? Contact the Xbox team? These are all valid options but they also lack visibility. What we need is a way that could help actually quantify the levels of discontent in the gamer community. Maybe E3 attendees could turn their backs in protest like some did during Thatcher's funeral procession. Or gamers could sign some useless petition. What do Slashdotters think? Is the upcoming Steam box a reasonable plan? As a gamer, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I really don't like it but I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it. Then again part of me is rankled by this slow erosion of access to me and my data."
New submitter inkribbon writes that Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott has now predicted that Microsoft's Xbox 720 console will actually hit the market this November. Thurrott offers a mix of what he considers cold, known facts and "clearly identified conjecture" about the upcoming device. Important to users is this confidently offered claim about the price: "Microsoft will initially offer two pricing models for the console: a standalone version for $499 and a $299 version that requires a two-year Xbox LIVE Gold commitment at an expected price of $10 per month."
Dawn Kawamoto writes "Electronic Arts has been slashing jobs in recent weeks and according to Kotaku the size of the layoffs has reached as much as 10 percent of its workforce. The game maker says it's making the move to align its workforce closer to mobile and new technologies. For the console dinosaur that's trying to fight extinction by evolving into a bigger mobile player, this process has been a painful transition with a number of employees ending up in the tar pit - as well as its CEO."
MightyMait writes "A study from a team at McGill University has found Tetris to be a good treatment for lazy eye. 'Armed with a special pair of video goggles they set up an experiment that would make both eyes work as a team. Nine volunteers with amblyopia were asked to wear the goggles for an hour a day over the next two weeks while playing Tetris, the falling building block video game. The goggles allowed one eye to see only the falling objects, while the other eye could see only the blocks that accumulate on the ground in the game. For comparison, another group of nine volunteers with amblyopia wore similar goggles but had their good eye covered, and watched the whole game through only their lazy eye. At the end of the two weeks, the group who used both eyes had more improvement in their vision than the patched group (abstract).' As someone born with crossed-eyes who underwent surgery as an infant and has lived with a lazy eye his whole life (without 3-D vision), the prospect of fixing my vision by playing Tetris is an enticing one."
MojoKid writes "The concept of gaming accessories may have just been taken to a whole new level. A company called Virtuix is developing the Omni, which is essentially a multidirectional treadmill that its creators call 'a natural motion interface for virtual reality applications.' The company posted a video showing someone playing Team Fortress 2 and using the Omni along with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. You can see in the video how much running and movement this fellow performs. With something like the Omni in your living room, you'd likely get into pretty good shape in no time. Instead of Doritos and Mountain Dew, folks might have to start slamming back Power Bars and Gatorade for all night gaming sessions."
An anonymous reader writes "A new Sega console has been revealed, albeit it an old one that never made it past the prototype stage. The console is called the Sega Pluto, and apparently only two prototype units were ever made. As for what's inside the Sega Pluto, it looks to be a modified Saturn that includes the NetLink 28.8kbit/s modem as standard. It allowed Saturn consoles to be linked up using a dial-up connection for multiplayer gaming. A disc has also been found by another user that is an internal Sega Saturn CD-R that holds a terminal specifically for Pluto."
An anonymous reader writes "Google appears to be preparing the launch of a game center for Android with an unknown name. It looks like the new hub will sport a slew of features, including multiplayer support, in-game chat, lobbies, leaderboards, and achievements. The leaked information come to us courtesy of Android Police, which amusingly stumbled on the details by tearing apart the apk file for MyGlass, the Google Glass companion app that launched earlier this week. The feature list was hidden within, though it's not clear if this was done on purpose to build hype or entirely by accident." While on the topic of Google-branded Android hardware speculation, this wishlist at The Full Signal makes some feature-list pleas for the rumored Nexus 5.
MojoKid writes "When it comes to creative advertising potential, it's hard to beat a game like SimCity. In most titles, the idea of in-game advertising makes little sense. Sarah Kerrigan doesn't shop at Victoria's Secret, Booker DeWitt is an unlikely fan of Coca-Cola, and the post-apocalyptic setting of Metro 2033 isn't exactly prime McDonald's turf. But SimCity? SimCity is a game where it makes perfect sense to integrate real-world brands. A city filled with familiar logos and advertising is a city that more closely resembles the real world. That's undoubtedly why EA decided to partner with Crest Toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste. And not for in-game advertising, either. The Nissan Leaf DLC that the company launched a few weeks back at least made sense in some context; EV charging stations are going to be an increasingly common site in cities in the future. But the five new SimCity Attractions that the company added in the Crest partnership boggle the mind." The Escapist points out that this partnership also extends to The Sims Social, one of EA's Facebook games... which is getting shut down in a few months.
hypnosec writes "Results of recent benchmark tests reveal that Ouya is not up to the mark and there are over 70 other ARM devices that perform better than the gaming console. Futuremark, which is known for its benchmarks like 3DMark and PCMark, benchmarked mobile devices and the Tegra 3 powered Ouya has been ranked 73rd." Of course, most of the those devices cost a lot more than $100 without carrier subsidies.
Feast Huggston writes "Indie Dev Darkseas Games has released an early gameplay trailer (video) of Road Redemption, a modern reimagining of the Sega Genesis (and later 3DO/N64/PSX/PC) motorcycle combat-racing classic Road Rash. The project has been in development since early 2012 and utilizes the Unity 4 engine. It is currently slated for release on PC, Mac, and Linux in 2014, with a stretch goal of eventually reaching the major game consoles. So far, it has raised over $24,000 of its $160,000 pledge goal on Kickstarter. While Road Rash creator Dan Geisler recently stated that he was interested in making another Road Rash, he is apparently not directly involved in this project, although he has given it his blessing. I grew up playing the heck out of this on Genesis and PC and it already appears that for many, a rebirth of this franchise was long overdue."
hypnosec writes "The UK Government will be examining whether free to download apps are putting unfair pressure on kids to pay up for additional content within the game through in-app purchases. Office of Fair Trading (OFT), UK, will be carrying out the investigation of games that include 'commercially aggressive' in-app purchases after a number of cases have been reported whereby parents have incurred huge bills after their kids have spent huge amounts on in-app purchases."
An anonymous reader writes "This weekend the National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY, will display the earliest known version of the game Dungeons & Dragons as a part of their new exhibit Game Time!. The document is on loan from the personal collection of games historian Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World), who says the document 'captures the system at around the midpoint of development, with the core concepts of dungeon exploration and fantastic combat in place, but it lacks some features of the mature game and exhibits a few intriguing variations.' Some excerpts are up on Peterson's blog."
damn_registrars writes "Nintendo has announced that at the end of June it will be canceling the services of several of the channels that are built in to the original Wii, including the Weather, News, Everybody Votes, and Mii Contest. This will also affect the WiiConnect24 services, though should not affect the Wii shopping channel. They added: 'Exchange of Wii messages on the Wii Message Board, exchange of Mii characters on the Mii Channel and message/data exchange within some games will be disabled.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Kaspersky Lab has completed a detailed analysis of "Winnti," a group of Asian hackers who target servers hosted by gaming companies, copying their source code and surreptitiously stealing money or virtual goods over time. In findings published April 10, the security firm said it had completed the latest phase of its eighteen-month investigation. A more detailed account of an actual attacks was published separately (PDF). Winnti has attacked two gaming companies in North America, two in Germany, two in Russia, and fourteen in South Korea. Although the Winnti group has been around for years, it first came to light in 2011, when Trojans began appearing on the PCs of users playing MMORPGs, online computer games which usually require a monthly subscription. Those Trojans, which included RAT (Remote Administration Tool) functionality, had been "signed" with the digital certificate of KOG, a South Korean gaming company. In the course of its investigation, Kaspersky discovered that the gaming companies (which often share resources, partner, and subcontract out work to one another) had provided an opportunity for the Winnti team to secure access to otherwise legitimate digital certificates, which could be used to sign malware. Malware signed by Japanese gaming company YNK Japan was used to attack the servers of social networks Cyworld and Nate in South Korea in 2011."
retroworks writes "I ignored the warning posted here on Slashdot on March 23. Surely someone was setting up some April Fools day hoax. But the Governor has now signed the bill. Whose cold dead hands will they pry the computer mice out of?" Note: while this might not change your opinion of the Florida law or other things it might lead to, it is aimed specifically at the kind of "Internet cafe" where the "Internet" part is essentially just a portal to online gambling, rather than at conventional Internet cafes.
DavidGilbert99 writes "According to anonymous sources, Microsoft's game director Adam Orth has left the company following a series of comments on Twitter about the rumoured always-on aspect of the next generation Xbox console. It is still unclear if Orth left voluntarily or was pushed out but either way it's not good news for Microsoft." If you'd prefer your news without obnoxious auto-playing video ads (with sound!), IGN reports Orth's departure, too.
CyberSlugGump writes "Computer scientists at UC San Diego have developed a 3D first-person video game designed to teach young students Java programming. In CodeSpells, a wizard must help a land of gnomes by writing spells in Java. Simple quests teach main Java components such as conditional and loop statements. Research presented March 8 at the 2013 SIGCSE Technical Symposium indicate that a test group of 40 girls aged 10-12 mastered many programming concepts in just one hour of playing."
hypnosec writes with news that a group of Russian hackers has compromised the security of Ubisoft's digital distribution platform, uPlay, finding a way for users of the service to download any of its games for free. What makes this particularly notable is that the hackers found a copy of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, an unreleased spin-off of Far Cry 3 that hasn't even been officially announced (except as part of an April Fool's joke). The hackers posted a half-hour of gameplay footage to YouTube, and Ubisoft took uPlay down to fix the security vulnerability. They say no user information was compromised.
An anonymous reader writes "Electronic Arts has successfully defended its title as the 'Worst Company In America.' Consumerist finished its annual tournament for bad companies, pitting notorious companies against each other in a single-elimination bracket where readers vote on which is worse. EA won last year, and today Consumerist announced the results of this year's final vote. EA was voted worse than Bank of America by 78% of participants. 'A made a royal mess of the SimCity release by failing to foresee that the people who would buy the game — and who would, per the game's design, be required to connect to the EA servers — might actually want to play at some point in the week after making their purchase. But that's just the latest in EA's long history of annoying its customer base with bad support.' Of course, EA saw this coming, and its CEO pre-emptively responded last Friday. Of course, many of his explanations and promises rang hollow for gamers who are sick of the company's practices: 'Until EA stops sucking the blood out of games in order to make uninspiring sequels, or at least until they begin caring about how much gamers hate their lack of respect for our money and intelligence, this is going to continue. We don't hate them because we're homophobes, we hate them because they destroy companies we love. We hate them because they release poor games. We hate them because they claim our hate doesn't matter as long as we give them our money.'"
Yes, folks. Step right up. It's the 2013 Texas Pinball Festival, except... Whoops! You missed it. But don't despair, because Tim Lord was there with his camcorder to interview organizer Paul McKinney and to point his lens lovingly at pinball machines new and old, complete with whistles and bells, oh my! It was a riotous time, with players of all ages. Pinball machines were played, bought, and sold. There were plenty of exhibitors, including some with shiny-new machines. The most interesting of these may have been Multimorphic, which is making "the world's first modular, multi-game, pinball platform." In other words, one machine that can become many games, sort of like a video game console. There's a separate, short, "bonus video" about Multimorphic (with no transcript), for anyone who is interested in their open source, "open platform" pinball machine concept -- and that may not be just old fogies trying to recapture their youth, when they had the high score on the Evel Knievel machine at a local pool hall, because McKinney says the people coming to the Texas Pinball Festival are younger every year.
jones_supa writes "The gutting of LucasArts was a tragic loss for the video game industry, but for many of us, it was more than that. By most accounts the last truly great LucasArts game was released almost 15 years ago, and yet, many in the industry still hold these titles as the benchmark. But why is that? Why is it that we still consider these games among our pinnacle achievements as an industry? Why do developers still namedrop Monkey Island in pitch meetings when discussing their proposed game's story? Why do we all continue to mentally associate the word "LucasArts" as the splash screen we see before a graphical adventure game, even though the company hadn't released one in over a decade? Gamasutra has collected a good majority of the answers. Following these responses, as a special treat, Lucasfilm Games veteran David Fox attempts to answer that question with his own insider perspective."
First time accepted submitter jakimfett writes "On April 13th, The Linux Game Tome will be going dark, but there's hope yet. The admin, BobZ, has an update for the community: 'To everyone who is expressing interest in helping to continue The Linux Game Tome: thank you! But don't tell me, tell the community! After this site is shut down, I will walk away from it. I have no plans to be involved in any effort to continue the Linux Game Tome legacy. If you are interested in continuing the legacy, please organize and make it happen.' Following the announcement was an email with some 'Linux Game Tome 3.0' information. In response to the email, I've set up a site that can act as a discussion platform for anyone interested in contributing to the project."
Dawn Kawamoto writes "LucasArts employees held a wake Friday night, days after Darth Vader Disney slayed their studio. Taking the high road, two LucasArts employees put together a eulogy that offers a retrospective on the culture, memories and accomplishments of the team. Most of us who've witnessed a blood bath at the workplace aren't as charitable. Darth Vader Disney is expected to strike again in the next two weeks at its studio and consumer product divisions."
hypnosec writes "Developer units of Android based gaming console on-a-stick GameStick have already been shipped but, the units meant for early Kickstarter backers have been delayed by two months and will now ship by late June, PlayJam has revealed. The reason, according to PlayJam, is that the consoles would require stronger tooling as compared to silicon based moulds of the dev consoles, which would be finished sometime by June 10. Further, because of the sheer increase in the number of units, PlayJam has said that it won't be able to afford the air freight and will be going for sea freight instead, which will delay the shipments to June."
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.'"