An anonymous reader writes "Now that E3 has wound down and the big product announcements are out of the way, its time to take a step back and look at the culture represented by the giant gaming show. 'The presence of scantily clad women hawking games and gizmos seemed in particular contrast to a report released this week by the Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the gaming industry's annual trade show. It found that 45 percent of the entire gaming population is now women, and women make up 46 percent of the most frequent game buyers.' While there are fewer 'booth babes' than in earlier shows (and while some are trying to bring balance by adding 'booth bros'), the conference organizers are happy to let exhibitors make their own policy. By contrast, the Penny Arcade Expo forbids 'booth babes,' a controversial but widely lauded stance. A recent article in Kotaku about this year's E3 notes, 'For every confident cosplayer who might do the job at a con, I am seeing dozens of companies trying to sell me hundreds of women. They are not drawing my attention to the content of their games, or to their tactics or techniques. They are drawing my attention to thigh-high boots, to low-cut shirts, and, frankly, to the hard work of a really expensive bra. So much of what I see here at E3 is aimed directly at the lizard hindbrain of a 13-year-old boy. But you have to be 18 to get into the show, and it's nominally for industry professionals. Perhaps someday we—men and women alike—can all be treated like the grown-ups we theoretically are, and be trusted to judge a game by its content... not its double-D cover.'"
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colinneagle writes "Researchers at Chiba University in Japan have developed a robot that could frustrate teenagers worldwide with its impressive air hockey skills. What's remarkable about this air hockey-playing robot, which is not the first of its kind, is that it can sense human opponents' playing styles and adapt to defend against them. The key is how the computer controlling the robot views its opponent — at a speed of 500 frames per second. From there, the robot uses a three-layer control system to determine motion control, when it should hit the puck, defend its goal or stay still, and a third that determines how it should react to its opponent's playing style."
jones_supa writes "Apogee Software/3D Realms alleges that Gearbox has refused to pay more than $2 million owed to 3D Realms from royalties and advances Gearbox received from publishers for Duke Nukem Forever. In a lawsuit filed June 7 in Texas district court, 3D Realms insists that its agreement with Gearbox permits it to conduct an audit of Gearbox's royalty statements, which the studio has not allowed. 'Gearbox is simply stonewalling here in an improper attempt to conceal information from 3D Realms that it is absolutely entitled to receive,' the suit alleges. The company also alleges that Gearbox has refused to pay the agreed-upon portion of revenue Gearbox received after Duke Nukem Forever was released. 3D Realms has asked for a jury trial. This suit is apparently the end result of a friendly deal gone wrong."
New submitter DeathToBill writes "EA is in the midst of another user backlash, the BBC reports. After EA took over operation of the online Scrabble brand, it introduced a 'new and improved' version. Improvements include requiring manual refreshes to see other players' turns, irretrievably wiping players' game history and a switch to the Collins dictionary (rather than the traditional Chambers edition) that has proved deeply unpopular with Scrabble fanatics. "EA was unavailable for comment.""
MojoKid writes "Dell recently introduced their Alienware X51 series of small form factor gaming PCs but until now, squeezing in components that were powerful enough for the enthusiast gamer was a significant thermal challenge. Intel's recent Haswell Core processor release, as well as NVIDIA's GeForce 670 series graphics cards have changed the game considerably though. The X51 R2 is shaped similar to to an Xbox 360 Slim, and though it's slightly larger, it would be right at home in a living room setting. Alienware is also bundling Steam Big Picture mode installations with systems as well. Performance-wise, with its latest CPU and GPU upgrades, the system is over twice as fast as the first generation X51, again thanks to Haswell and upgraded NVIDIA GeForce graphics. The console-sized PC is capable of running virtually any current gen DX11 title at full 1920X1080 HD resolution and high image quality settings."
trendspotter points out this research from Duke University: "Hours spent at the video gaming console not only train a player's hands to work the buttons on the controller, they probably also train the brain to make better and faster use of visual input, according to Duke University researchers (abstract). 'Gamers see the world differently,' said Greg Appelbaum, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the Duke School of Medicine. 'They are able to extract more information from a visual scene.' ... Each participant was run though a visual sensory memory task that flashed a circular arrangement of eight letters for just one-tenth of a second. After a delay ranging from 13 milliseconds to 2.5 seconds, an arrow appeared, pointing to one spot on the circle where a letter had been. Participants were asked to identify which letter had been in that spot. At every time interval, intensive players of action video games outperformed non-gamers in recalling the letter."
Tackhead writes "E3 is turning into Bizarro World this year. Sony has not only promised that the PS4 will support used games without an online connection, they trolled the Xbox folks hard with this Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video. Compounding the silliness, and hot on the heels of the political firestorm surrounding Donglegate, Microsoft went for rape jokes during their Xbox presentation." Similarly, onyxruby writes "The Verge covers how Sony has crafted policies explicitly to make the PS4 consumer friendly to the public. They make the case that the PS4 will be superior in nearly every way [to the Xbox Next] by not requiring an Internet connection, not restricting used games, supporting indie developers and selling for $100 cheaper than the Xbox One." And if you're interested in the guts rather than the policies or the politics, Hot Hardware has a comparison of the internals of both of these new offerings.
mvar writes "According to Kotaku, a hacker named SuperDaeE who breached multiple gaming companies (Valve, Sony, MS to name a few) has released a 1.7TB treasure trove file for download. The file which contains source code for older titles plus development kits for the PS4 and Xbox One consoles, is encrypted and SuperDaeE claims that it is his insurance in case he gets arrested."
First time accepted submitter richtaur writes "A passionate classic game collector took the time to document the shared lineage between over thirty of gaming's finest cousins. The article contains side-by-side screenshots and videos to show the similarities and shared assets between such classic relatives as Bomberman/Lode Runner, Gradius/Life Force, and Renegade/River City Ransom. Fascinating stuff for fans of games of yesteryear."
An anonymous reader writes "Interesting behind the scenes interview with the creator of Paper Sorcerer, the stunning hand drawn RPG video game that was successfully Kickstarted last year and is now nearing launch. Jesse Gallagher, the artist single-handedly creating the game in Unity, has painstakingly drawn out each character and environment across all 50 dungeons. He estimates he's gone through at least 600 pages of drawings in his notebooks in the process, and had to scan them all in — but he says it's worth it to give artists more control over the games they work on. 'I was disappointed with how little input the artists had into the overall game design, so I decided to go the solo dev route,' he says. 'Now I'd like to just continue making indie games until I fall over dead at the keyboard.'"
Following the confusion surrounding Microsoft's announcement of the Xbox One, the company has now clarified many of the hot-button issues in a set of posts on their official site. First, they confirmed that the console will need to phone home in order to continue playing games. On your primary console, you'd need to connect to the internet and check in once every 24 hours. They also announced that you'll be able to access and play any of your games by logging in on somebody else's console, but the internet connection will be required every hour to keep playing that way. Other media don't require the connection. Microsoft also explained how game licensing will work. On the upside, anyone using your console will be able to play your games, and you can share your games with up to 10 members of your family for free. The downside is the news about used games; Microsoft says they've "designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers." The key word there is can, which implies that you can't without the publisher's express permission. Finally, the company made a set of statements about how Kinect's audio and video sensors will collect and share your data. "When Xbox One is on and you're simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded." They also say data gathered during normal use won't leave the console without your explicit permission.
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon today announced an initiative to help indie game developers promote and sell their games: the Indie Games Store. The dedicated storefront is a new category in Amazon's Digital Video Games Store, designed specifically to help indie games for PC, Mac, and the Web get noticed. The store appears to be US-only, but if you don't live there you should be able to get away with just putting in an American address. Most of the games are Steam downloads, so where you are in the world shouldn't matter too much."
coop0030 writes "Thanks to the affordable Raspberry Pi and some clever software, anyone can re-create the classic arcade experience at home. Adafruit brings the genuine 'clicky' arcade controls, you bring the game files and a little crafting skill to build it. Classic game emulation used to require a well-specced PC and specialized adapters for the controls, so it's exciting to see this trickle down to a $40 system. Also, a video of the game system is on YouTube."
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this year Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) was announced as Director of the long-awaited movie based on World of Warcraft. Legendary Pictures finally appears to be ready to move forward with production. Producer Charles Roven confirmed to SlashFilm that World of Warcraft: The Movie 3D IMAX Experience (suggested title) begins shooting in early 2014."
An anonymous reader writes "Ever wondered what it takes to run a world class stable of pro-gamers? In a new profile, 4Kings general manager Jason Potter takes the time to explain his duties — they're remarkably like what's required of other sports managers. It's up to Potter to manage a team of FPS gamers scattered across the continent, getting them to events, arranging sponsorship, and even making sure they play nice together. 'It's a 24 hour job,' Potter says. 'If there is something that needs to be done, you do it.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "In the early 2000s, three young programmers without much money gathered in a basement and started coding what would become one of the most widely used pieces of software in the video game industry. 'Nobody really remembers how we survived in that period except we probably didn't eat much,' said David Helgason, the CEO and co-founder of Unity Technologies, maker of the Unity3D game engine. A decade later, untold numbers of developers have used Unity3D to make thousands of video games for mobile devices, consoles, browsers, PCs, Macs, and even Linux. The existence of Unity3D and similar products (such as the Unreal Engine and CryEngine) helped democratize game development, making the kinds of tools used by the world's largest game companies available to developers at little or no cost. This has helped developers focus less on creating a video game's underlying technology and more on the artistic and creative processes that actually make games fun to play. In this article, Helgason talks about how Final Cut Pro helped inspire his team during the initial building stages, how it's possible to create a game in Unity without actually writing code, and how he hopes to make the software more of a presence on traditional consoles despite Unity3D being several years late to supporting the PS3 and Xbox 360."
Yesterday, we mentioned a just-approved effort to uncover the remains of goods dumped by Atari in New Mexico decades ago. New submitter Essellion writes "Among the games that legend has it are there is the Atari 2600 E.T. game, infamous for how bad it was. However, an excavator of another kind has cast doubts on how bad it was by exploring in depth the E.T. ROM, how it played and why, and designing some bug fixes for it."
An anonymous reader writes "The thirteenth annual Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming has five contenders: Wil Wheaton's "Tabletop" YouTube video series; the massive history of gaming book Playing at the World ; the Metatopia gaming convention where designers pay for access to alpha gamers; the romance-genre card game Love Letter ; and the RPG Dog Eat Dog in which players explore the dynamics of colonialism. When it comes to this award, typically all of the nominees are worth checking out."
An anonymous reader writes "Pundits tell us that the world of console video gaming is in dire straits, but recent collections of console video games have sold on eBay for tens of thousands of dollars. There are still a lot of video game disks and cartridges out there, but is it worth your effort to try to complete your collection and sell it on eBay? If you're a potential buyer for a massive collection of video games, are they likely to appreciate over time, or is this a really bad investment? Market research company Terapeak runs some numbers and suggests that it depends on your goals, the size and quality of your collection, and the console you're focused on." There's a film crew hoping to bypass the uncertain hoarding phase, though, and just mine a landfill in New Mexico for the legendary hoard of dumped Atari inventory.
Nintendo says, "With Wii Street U powered by Google, you can step into Google Street View with an immersive experience that feels like you’re actually there! View a 360-degree Google Maps Street View of locations all over the world using the Wii U GamePad motion controls. Use the GamePad touch screen to type in an address or location and explore, or instantly travel to over 70 fascinating, hand-picked locations around the globe." It all looks lovely, but can't we do most of this with Android phones? And couldn't a smart developer make the Google Street View Android phone experience even more immersive, so we wouldn't all need to buy a Wii U? Nintendo, we love you, but the Wii U still looks pretty dead unless it gets some major rethinking, and this Street View app doesn't seem to be it.
An anonymous reader writes "As a 27-year old minor league pitcher who had never made it to "The Show" (ballplayers' slang for the big leagues), Garrett Broshius was advised by a coach to develop an 'out pitch' by cheating (doctoring or scuffing the baseball while standing on the mound). It was an ethical crossroads faced by many players past and present, and Broshius ultimately decided to give up the game. While a student at the St. Louis University School of Law, he wrote a paper that attempted to apply the tenets of legal theorists to the rampant cheating in baseball and other sports (click the 'download' button, no registration required). While Broshius' paper isn't brilliant or novel, it tours the techniques and issues surrounding cheating in baseball better than most. Broshius concludes with recommendations for how baseball should handle two classes of cheating: 'traditional' cheating of the type he was advised to do by the coach, which has achieved acceptance in some quarters as part of the game; and 'new era' cheating involving performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, which has become prominent in the last 25 years. Oh, and Brosius remarks that in almost every baseball game he watches these days, he notices something suspicious — usually from the pitcher."
An anonymous reader writes "VentureBeat reports that the next-gen MMO Blizzard Entertainment has been hinting at since 2007, codenamed 'Titan,' is getting restarted with a drastically reduced development team. It was originally being built by a 100-person 'dream team' of developers that had their roots in other popular Blizzard games. Many people were expecting an announcement about Titan at this year's Blizzcon, but now that looks unlikely. 'Blizzard's development teams aren't known for their speed. The publisher often cancels projects that have been in the works for years if it believes that those games don't meet its standard of quality.' VentureBeat's sources say the game is now looking at a 2016 release at the earliest."
schirra writes "The MIT Game Lab has just released the graphics/physics engine from its popular game A Slower Speed of Light as an open-source project, allowing anyone to play around with the effects of special relativity using Unity3D. While the hope is that game developers and educators will use OpenRelativity to develop new kinds of relativistic games and simulations, that shouldn't stop those with a casual interest from playing around with these wicked cool effects. For the physics inclined, these effects include Lorentz contraction, time dilation, Doppler shift, and the searchlight effect--though a PhD in theoretical physics isn't required to enjoy or use the project."
Phopojijo writes "Consoles have not really been able to profitably scale over the last decade or so. Capital is sacrificed to gain control over their marketshare and, even with the excessive lifespan of this recent generation, cannot generate enough revenue with that control to be worth it. Have we surpassed the point where closed platforms can be profitable and will we need to settle on an industry body, such as W3C or Khronos, to fix a standard for companies to manage slices of and compete within?"
New submitter geirlk writes "Toms Hardware reports that 'Group program manager of Xbox Incubation & Prototyping Jeff Henshaw recently told OXM that for every console Microsoft builds, it will provision the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox One consoles in the cloud. This allows developers to assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game. Thus, developers can build bigger, persistent levels that are more inclusive for players.'"
MojoKid writes "Microsoft might have one of the most talked-about products at the moment with the Xbox One, but would you believe it doesn't own the rights to the most obvious domain name to accompany it? Domain squatting is a real issue for companies about to launch a new product. If they register a domain before the official launch, people can find that and subsequently ruin the company's surprise. This particular case is different, however. The domain name wasn't registered just the other day. Instead, a UK resident registered the name XboxOne.com in December of 2011, long before Microsoft itself even likely had a definitive name for its upcoming console. So, what can a company do in this instance? File a dispute with the National Arbitration Forum, an ICANN-approved organization that specializes in dealing with these sorts of matters."
An anonymous reader writes "Now that both Sony and Microsoft have announced their next-gen consoles, and we've gotten solid information about their hardware, technology, and features, Eurogamer asks whether Nintendo's struggling Wii U will be able to hold its own once the new competition arrives. 'Wii U has tanked — there's no other way to put it — with even the release of traditional big-hitters like Dragon Quest 10 failing to make a dent in the Japanese market. If you believe certain analysts, April saw things getting even worse in the U.S. with the Wii U shifting under 40,000 units, easily outsold by the 360 and PS3 — and, even more embarrassingly, the Wii.' If the Wii U doesn't see a miraculous turnaround, Nintendo may be left with the difficult choice of whether to port its software to competing consoles. It'll also serve as a bellwether to see if the big gamer complaint about the new Sony and Microsoft consoles — that they're only partly about games — is honest. 'At a time when the goal of its competitors is to own the living room, the extent of Nintendo's ambition is simply to be in it — a dedicated games console, and no more.'"
Chewbacon writes "Details about the used-game policy on Microsoft's newly-announced Xbox One console have been leaked. The policy explains how used-game retailers can survive Xbox One destroying the used-game market as we know it: they have to agree to Microsoft's terms and conditions to do so. In summary, the used game retailer can still buy the game from the consumer, but they must report the consumer relinquishing their license to play the game to a Microsoft database. They must also sell it at a market price (35£ in the UK), but the publisher will get a cut of the price. The article goes on to explain how Xbox One will phone home periodically to verify a player hasn't sold the game according to the aforementioned database." A big downside is that we're likely going to see the end of cheap, used games. A potential upside pointed out by Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report is that this would unquestionably boost revenue for game publishers, giving the smart ones an opportunity to step away from the $60 business model and adopt pricing practices seen on Steam and iTunes (neither of which allow the purchase of "used" games/media). Also, it's worth noting that even if the policy leak is 100% correct, it could change before the console actually launches.
An anonymous reader writes "The Xbox One was revealed earlier, and Kotaku was able to get some answers about the always-online rumors that plagued the console before its announcement. Microsoft VP Phil Harrison said Xbox One doesn't need a constant connection in order to play games, and you won't be dropped from single-player games if your connection cuts out. However, it does require check-ins with Microsoft servers. This echoes the Xbox One FAQ, which cryptically says, "No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet." The number Harrison gave was once every 24 hours, but Microsoft's PR department was quick to say that was just one potential scenario, not a certainty. Microsoft also provided half-answers about how used games and game sharing would work. Players will be able to take a game to a friend's house and play it (using their profile, at least). Players will also have some mechanism to trade and sell used games, but it's not yet clear exactly how it would work. If one player uses a disc to install a game on their Xbox One, then gives the disc to a friend, the friend will be able to install it, but needs to pay full price to play it. That scenario, however, assumes both players want to own the game — the second one would essentially be a unique copy. Microsoft said they have a plan for trading used games, which would involve deactivating the game on the original owner's console, but they aren't willing to elaborate yet." Several publications have hands-on reports with the new hardware: Engadget, Ars Technica, Gizmodo.
Today at a press conference leading up to E3, Microsoft unveiled its next-gen games/entertainment console, the Xbox One. Their stated goal for the Xbox One is to have a single device provide "all of your entertainment." One of the big changes is increased support for voice and and gesture input. You can turn the console on by voice, and it will recognize you and automatically login. Swiping to the side with your hand will browse through menu pages, and saying "Watch TV" will bring up the TV app very quickly. The same with music, internet, and movies. The new console also supports multitasking — for example, while watching a movie, you can bring up your web browser in a side panel and surf the web at the same time. There is also a built-in TV listings app that responds to channel names — saying "Watch CBS" will switch to CBS without giving it an actual channel number. By this point, you're probably asking: does it play games? Yes. Hardware specs: 8-core CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, USB 3.0, and Wi-fi Direct. (They didn't provide the CPU frequency, instead saying it had 5 billion transistors.) The Kinect sensor got an upgrade: 2Gbps of data capture has finer skeletal visibility, can detect minor orientation changes in hands and fingers, and can even calculate your balance and weight distribution. The new controller looks slightly bigger, and is designed to play well with Kinect. They've also updated Smartglass, the remote control software that runs on mobile devices, but they didn't explain much about it. The new Xbox Live will have 300,000 servers powering it, up from 15,000 this year — though, of course, no details were provided about server specs. The console will have native game capture and editing tools — essentially, a game DVR. Saved games will be stored in the cloud, and they have new matchmaking capabilities that operate in the background. Update: 05/21 17:50 GMT by S : Halo is getting its own live-action TV show, for some reason. They'll be collaborating with Steven Spielberg. Microsoft is also partnering with the NFL for live broadcasts and interactive experiences, such as split-screen Skype chats and fantasy league updates. Xbox One will be out "later this year." No price information. it will not be backward-compatible with Xbox 360 games.
Imagine game designer Steve Jackson and a bunch of friends building Lego trains and tracks and scenery, including buildings and other props. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? The group calls itself the Texas Brick Railroad. A lot of members have children, so their meetings tend to be family affairs. Plus, as they're doing here, they often display their train sets at public events where -- yes -- their trains attract children like crazy. This video shows off both current Lego trains and some of the classic, no-longer-sold Lego trains that members have collected over the years, including the highly-prized monorails. There's a transcript, but face it: This is basically visual material, and worth checking out on a computer or handheld that runs Flash if your normal one doesn't. (We've requested an upgrade from Flash-only video, but don't hold your breath. It might be a good while before we get it.)
mcleland writes "The BBC reports that Nintendo is now using the content ID match feature in YouTube to identify screencap videos of people playing their games. They then take over the advertising that appears with the video, and thus the ad revenue. Nintendo gets it all, and the creators of these videos (which are like extended fan-made commercials for the games) get nothing. Corporate gibberish to justify this: 'In a statement, the firm said the move was part of an "on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media."'"
Krazy Kanuck writes "Introduced in 2010, Online Pass was marketed as a way to 'preserve' online content or DLC as titles were sold in the used game market. Many saw this as a way to cut out the second hand game market. EA has now decided to end this program 'partly because the players didn't like it.' Unfortunately this appears to only be for future released games, those previously released will still be subject to this feature. Activision and Ubisoft still use this form of content control, it will be interesting to see if they follow suit."
kkleiner writes "The first NeuroGaming Conference and Expo took place at the beginning of May to showcase the convergent technologies that are paving the way toward gaming with your mind. Tech news has been dominated with stories about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, which was on display for attendees to test out. Other technologies that utilize EEG are opening up possibilities of a controller-free gaming experience into virtual realities with unlimited potential. 'Deeper questions surrounding the morality of neurogames will be sure to stir debate. As virtual reality technology inches closer to lifelike resolution, should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity? It’s unpredictable what these games could uncover about the user as neurogames gain insight into a users’ psyche and how they respond to stimuli at a subconscious level. For instance, a game could uncover how its user particularly enjoys shooting at civilians in gameplay. Games might even become expert at diagnosing psychiatric disorders. As computers become exponentially more powerful, game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality.'"
Android Police reports on an information leak out of Google in the lead-up to their I/O conference, which starts on May 15th. A new version of Google Play Services contains information about "Google Play Games," the company's long anticipated unified gaming service. The leak shows support for saved game syncing, matchmaking, notifications, game invites, achievements, leaderboards, and integration with other Google services. "Who can send you notifications is, of course, managed by Google+. Pressing that button will bring up the usual circle dialog. All Play Games identity work will be done by Google+. Try and look surprised. ... Play Games can somehow "auto pick" players, which means you can manually pick them too. Presumably this would go down in a match-making lobby of some kind. There are limited slots to a game, we just don't know how many. ... Leaderboards by time - choose this week, all time, or today. You can also show "player-centered" scores so you can find where you are on the boards. Leaderboards plug into G+ and can be non-public. You can also filter the leaderboard by people in your circles. It will also show you what percentile you're in.
An anonymous reader writes "The author of this article goes over a format string vulnerability he found in The Elder Scrolls series starting with Morrowind and going all the way up to Skyrim. It's not something that will likely be exploited, but it's interesting that the vulnerability has lasted through a decade of games. 'Functions like printf() and its variants allow us to view and manipulate the program’s running stack frame by specifying certain format string characters. By passing %08x.%08x.%08x.%08x.%08x, we get 5 parameters from the stack and display them in an 8-digit padded hex format. The format string specifier ‘%s’ displays memory from an address that is supplied on the stack. Then there’s the %n format string specifier – the one that crashes applications because it writes addresses to the stack. Powerful stuff.'"
hypnosec writes "World of Warcarft, the gaming industry's most popular franchise and one of Blizzard's cash cows, is bleeding subscribers with 1.3 million defecting from the game in the first quarter of 2013 alone. Blizzard revealed a subscriber decline of over 14%, the total now standing at 8.3 million in their earnings call press release (PDF)."
PC Mag is one of several outlets reporting that the Kickstarter-funded Ouya Android game console has been delayed by a few weeks; the new target date for launch is June 25. Says the article "The delay does not affect early backers, who are still on track to receive their devices by month's end. Helping to meet that demand will be $15 million in funding, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers." Also at CNET.
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.
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."