Nerval's Lobster writes "Three years ago, game designer and author Jane McGonigal argued that saving the human race is going to require a major time investment—in playing video games. 'If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week [up from 3 billion today], by the end of the next decade,' she said in a TED talk. Her message was not ignored—and it has indirectly contributed to the formation of something called the Internet Response League (IRL). The small group has a big goal: to harness gamers' time and use it to save lives after disasters, natural or otherwise. The idea is to insert micro-tasks into games, specifically asking gamers to tag photos of disaster areas. With the IRL plugin, each image would be shown to at least three people, who tag the photo as showing no damage, mild damage, or severe damage. The Internet Response League has been in talks with a couple of indie developers, including one that's developing a new MMO. Mosur said they've tried to get in touch with World of Warcraft maker Blizzard, but haven't had any luck yet. Blizzard did not return a request for comment from Slashdot."
UnknowingFool writes "Microsoft has reversed course on another aspect of the Xbox One. Though Xbox One will come bundled with a Kinect sensor, the console will work without it. Critics were had suggested that an always-on video and audio sensor could be used to spy on users. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said, 'Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.' This is the latest reversal from Microsoft since they killed the phone-home DRM and made it region-free."
First time accepted submitter briglass writes "Imagine being a total non-gamer and then suddenly playing an hour of StarCraft a day for almost two months. A new study of mine demonstrates that a group of female gaming novices (seriously novice, as in 0 to 1 hour of gaming per week novice) demonstrated increased cognitive flexibility after playing StarCraft, a sort of fast-paced chess on steroids. The control group played The Sims. It's been well known that video gaming can lead to psychological benefits, such as faster perceptual information processing after playing first-person shooter games. But this new study, published in PLOS ONE, shows that video gaming can also affect higher-level cognitive functions. The StarCraft game was customized to be adaptive and remain challenging as the newly minted gamers honed their skills, and in-game behavior was recorded to determine what aspects of StarCraft leads to the boost in flexibility."
First time accepted submitter tocsy writes "Microsoft has seemingly not learned from their previous PR fiasco. According to the official site, some features as basic as recording and sharing gameplay videos will require a $60/year Xbox Live Gold account. PS4 owners will of course also have to pay for some online services, but recording and streaming will not be exclusive to Plus subscribers."
hypnosec writes "NVidia has now open-sourced the operating system that powers the gaming console to encourage its modification and further development. Powered by NVidia's homegrown Tegra 4 processor, the console runs Android, which shouldn't surprise many as the company moves ahead with its open-sourcing intentions. The GPU company has said that the SHIELD is an 'open gaming platform' that allows for 'an open ecosystem,' enabling developers to develop content as well as applications that takes advantage of the underlying hardware and which can be enjoyed on bigger displays as well as mobile screen." Playing with it isn't without risks (like potentially voiding the warranty), but NVIDIA's blog post says they're also providing a recovery image to fall back to.
Guspaz writes "In a surprising move that in retrospect makes a lot of sense, Oculus VR has announced that John Carmack will be joining the company full-time as CTO. Carmack also tweeted that his time division would be 'Oculus over Id over Armadillo. Busy busy busy!'" From the press release, quoting John Carmack: "I have fond memories of the development work that led to a lot of great things in modern gaming — the intensity of the first person experience, LAN and internet play, game mods, and so on. Duct taping a strap and hot gluing sensors onto Palmer's early prototype Rift and writing the code to drive it ranks right up there. Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today; probably by people reading this message. It's certainly not there yet. There is a lot more work to do, and there are problems we don't even know about that will need to be solved, but I am eager to work on them. It's going to be awesome!"
Rick Zeman writes "Those of us of a certain age recall The Oregon Trail with fondness as the pioneering educational game that had the audacity to make learning fun! This article takes a look at the history behind the game, even going back to its initial text-based offering, showing how some programming magic pulled a generation of kids together. Quoting: '[F]or two weeks, the roommates holed up in a former janitor’s closet at Bryant Junior High School, where the school’s teletype was stored, and spent their evenings programming. Using Rawitsch’s historical knowledge, Heinemann and Dillenberger developed a series of algorithms, punching hundreds of lines of code into the teletype. But just because they created the program didn’t mean they could breeze through it. When Heinemann tried The Oregon Trail for the first time, he died of pneumonia midway!'"
jones_supa writes "QuakeCon 2013 is running full tilt. John Carmack kicked off his speech by addressing the 'elephant in the room,' discussing the arrival of a new console generation to a crowd of attendees at the largely PC-focused event. He's optimistic about the coming console cycle, commenting that it's 'obviously going to be a good thing for gamers, developers, and an excellent thing for AMD.' John said he hasn't run quite enough tests on the hardware for the two consoles, but said they're both 'very close, and very good.' In his traditional long talk (watch on YouTube), Carmack also commented on Microsoft's always-on Kinect, its recently reversed DRM policies for the upcoming Xbox One, the death of optical media, and the state of handheld gaming."
The EFF posted a biting response to yesterday's Ninth Circuit ruling that heavily weights celebrities' right to privacy, and construes that right very broadly. From the EFF summary of the case: "The plaintiff, Sam Keller, brought the case to challenge Electronic Art (EA)'s use of his likeness in its videogame NCAA Football. This game includes realistic digital avatars of thousands of college players. The game never used Keller’s name, but it included an avatar with his jersey number, basic biographical information, and statistics. Keller sued EA claiming that the game infringed his right of publicity — an offshoot of privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness and/or identity for commercial purposes. ... Two judges on the panel found that EA’s depiction of Keller was not transformative. They reasoned that the 'use does not qualify for First Amendment protection as a matter of law because it literally recreates Keller in the very setting in which he has achieved renown.'" The piece later notes that this reasoning "could impact an extraordinary range of protected speech."
rescendent writes with news that the Wii U still isn't selling very well. From the article: "Nintendo's Wii U console sold only 160,000 units worldwide during the past three months, with the company blaming a lack of first-party releases for the poor performance. Software sales for the system were just 1.3 million units. During the period Nintendo sold 90,000 Wii U consoles in Japan, 60,000 in the US and only 10,000 in Europe and Australia." El Reg reports that the Wii sold 210,000 units in the same quarter. On the bright side, Nintendo is once again profitable.
An anonymous reader writes "Today, Nvidia officially releases the SHIELD. After an unexpected delay last month, the company dropped the price of its hotly-anticipated handheld gaming system from $350 to just $300. Sporting a 5-inch 720p touchscreen attached to an XBox-style controller, the SHIELD is the first serious Android-based handheld gaming device. The SHIELD is also the first major device top ship with Nvidia's new Tegra 4 SoC. But the potentially killer feature of the SHIELD is its ability to steam heavy-duty PC games from your desktop right into your hands. Right now the selection of PC games is pretty scarce, with just 21 titles to choose from so far, though Nvidia promises more to come. Tom's Hardware just posted an exhaustive review of the Nvidia SHIELD, which includes demos of both Android gaming and PC streaming, display and battery testing, plus the usual bevy of performance tests versus the Tegra 3-based Nexus 7 (2012), the new Nexus 7 carrying a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, the iPhone 5, and a Wintel tablet with the Atom Z2760. Tegra 4 presents nearly four times the performance of Tegra 3, and leaves most of its competition in the dust. However, it also means that Nvidia is now the only ARM competitor without an OpenGL ES 3.0 implementation on the horizon, making Nvidia's new position as top dog quite uncertain."
Nerval's Lobster writes "If struggling online-games developer Zynga thought things were bad before, they could be turning a whole lot worse: Facebook is rolling out a pilot program for small- and medium-sized game developers. 'Through the program, we will work with select game developers and provide promotional support for their games in placements across our mobile apps,' reads a note on the Facebook Developers Website. Facebook is promising those developers access to the social network's '800 million monthly mobile users,' a variety of analytics tools for measuring their games' impact, and a 'unique targeting ability' for finding the right audiences — all for a cut of the games' revenue. 'We will be collaborating deeply with developers in our program by helping them cultivate high-quality, long-term players for their games,' the note added. Zynga benefited mightily from its relationship with Facebook, but other developers have subsequently realized they can utilize many of Zynga's tricks — and the social network's enormous audience — for their own ends. King is now Facebook's top app developer, largely on the strength of its Candy Crush Saga game. If Facebook encourages more small- and medium-sized developers to jump into the social gaming, it could fill the arena with even more competitors, which could prove bad news for the already-reeling Zynga. But for Facebook, the benefits are obvious: if any of those tiny-for-the-moment developers create a hit game, the revenues will come flooding in. That would supplement the social network's ad revenue, all while ensuring it doesn't need to overly depend on a single large developer with a set portfolio of games. Zynga has already been suffering from gaming-studio closings, games being shut down, and a declining user-base."
Tasmania, there is a Secret Lab. More accurately, it is a business called Secret Lab, run by co-founders Paris Buttfield-Addison and Jon Manning. On their website they say, “Secret Lab is an indie game developer and mobile app training studio based in Hobart, Australia. We're responsible for some of the world's most popular mobile apps -- recently, we've worked on Meebo for iPhone, ABC Play School Art Maker for iPad, ABC Good Game for iPhone and ABC Foodi for iPad. Secret Lab also offers intensive training workshops on iOS and Android development.” They recently presented at OSCON in Portland, OR, where Timothy Lord and his camcorder caught up with them there (as did Rachel Roumeliotis of O'Reilly Media with her camcorder). At just over 30 minutes, this is the longest Slashdot video interview we've ever run. It's worth the time, despite some rough sound patches, if you are interested in mobile game development -- or even if you are just interested in seeing what kind of colorful people do this sort of thing.
New submitter nusscom writes "On July 28th, as has been reported by BBC, a record number of EVE Online players participated in a record-breaking online battle between two alliances. This battle, which was essentially a turf-war was comprised of over 4,000 online players at one time. The load was so large that Crowd Control Productions (CCP) slowed down the game time to 10% of normal to accommodate the massive amount of activity." This is the largest battle to ever occur on EVE Online.
MojoKid writes "The CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, announced this morning that he would lead an investor buyout of the company worth approximately $8.2 billion dollars. The move would free Blactivision (how has this moniker never caught on?) to become an independent publisher and free it from the clutches of Vivendi, the evil French entertainment conglomerate. Vivendi has reportedly been attempting to sell Activision Blizzard for years, due to an apparent hatred of actually turning a profit, given than the game developer owns some of the most popular franchises on Earth. Kotick has previously been known for his comments regarding exploiting game franchises and for gems like this: 'We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games.'"
steveb3210 writes "EQ2Wire.com is a fan site for the MMO Everquest 2. One feature of their site is a searchable portal for all game-related stats such as characters, equipment, items, and mobs which they generate from an XML feed provided by the game's publisher. Recently, the owner of a trademark has been threatening them over the name of a character and in the face of possible legal bills, they were forced to remove the character's profile from their site. Adding further insult to injury, the character seems to have been created prior to the trademark in question."
tlhIngan writes "Microsoft was the last platform manufacturer to require that all games go through publishers, a much hated policy. Indeed, their approval process was one of the harshest around. But now Microsoft will allow indie developers to self publish, and allow retail Xbox One units to serve as developer consoles. Previously, self-publishing developers were relegated to the 'Xbox Live Indie Arcade' section, as well as developer consoles often costing upwards of $10,000 with special requirements and NDAs. This puts Microsoft's Xbox One more in line with Apple's App Store, including Microsoft's new promise of a 14-day turnaround for approvals. Microsoft's retail debug console system is to work similarly to Apple's — that is, to run pre-release code, the individual consoles used have to be registered with Microsoft."
Incarnate-VO writes "Many-platform space MMORPG Vendetta Online has added another first, with the official launch of support for the Oculus Rift family of head-mounted VR displays. The VR adds another level of immersion to the twitch-combat space title." A few limitations: Windows only (because the Rift only supports Windows), some effects are disabled, and the developers still want to tweak things like the HUD. But it's a good first step, and supports both the low-res and high definition revisions of the Occulus Rift.
An anonymous reader writes "Atari declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and part of that process involves selling off its property in order to pay as many entities holding its debt as possible. The latest round includes a $30 million claim from Atari's parent company in France, and a $261 million claim from another subsidiary of that parent company. The $30 million debt is secured (in other words, they get priority on whatever's left in the U.S. Atari's coffers), but the $261 million debt is not, so they'll have to wait in line with everybody else." The article also lists some interesting sell-offs. The old Accolade brand got sold for $50,000, the Battlezone Franchise was sold to Rebellion Interactive for $566,500, and Wargaming World Limited purchased the Total Annihilation and Masters of Orion franchises. Stardock Systems, creators of Sins of a Solar Empire, picked up the rights to the Star Control franchise, which they intend to reboot. (Those who played it will recall that StarCon2 was the Best Game Ever. And it's been remade after the creators released the source code.)
An anonymous reader writes "Picking up the code from a failed Direct3D 10/11 implementation for Linux, a working Direct3D 9 state tracker has been implemented for Linux. The Direct3D 9 support works with open-source Linux GPU hardware drivers via Mesa's Gallium3D and can run games for the open-source Radeon and Nouveau drivers without simply converting the Direct3D commands into OpenGL. Unlike the experimental D3D10/11 code from the past, this D3D9 state tracker is already running games like Skyrim, Civilization 5, Anno 1404, and StarCraft 2. With Linux games not natively targeting D3D, Wine was modified for using this native Direct3D implementation."
An anonymous reader writes "I've a cheap but low latency mouse (A4Tech) and I noticed my trusty old wired Logitech PS/2 keyboard seems at least 50ms slower (if not more) than the mouse when I test with those reaction time sites. I even increased finger travel distance over my mouse button to make it fairer and the difference still remains. So either the tests are slower with keyboards or my keyboard is high latency. Assuming the latter any suggestions for a good reasonably priced gaming keyboard? Extra function keys might be nice but since my hands aren't big what would be better is being able to output a custom key/combo if you hold down (special?) keys while pressing another key. For example I could configure it so if I hold down "Special Key 1" with pinkie or thumb and press 4 it actually outputs 9, and if I hold down shift as well it outputs shift+9 (and not just 9). Being able to replace the capslock key function and have it behave as another key (or a special modifier) would be a bonus — I've never needed capslock and have probably used it more by mistake than for its normal function, or to test how badly a PC has hung."
Nerval's Lobster writes "In the fall of 2014, 20 promising video game developers will begin a yearlong (and free) program at the University of Texas at Austin, where they will study under some of the gaming industry's most successful executives. 'The idea is to get the best of the best of the best, run them through a Navy Seals boot camp of sorts and not force them to worry about "how do I pay the rent and buy groceries,"' said program leader Warren Spector, who is responsible for creating well-known games such as Deus Ex. 'Fingers crossed, when we start delivering graduates who can contribute in major ways to the development of future games, that philanthropy will continue.' In a wide-ranging interview, Spector also talked about how his future students will be graduating into an industry in which 'every business model is broken, which is either terrifying or an opportunity depending on how you look at it.' Focus groups, analysis of historical trends, and aggregated game review scores may be comforting to number crunchers, but the majority of game projects still end up as commercial failures. Spector ultimately believes the people who actually make the games are going to make better decisions than the number crunchers. 'We've got to be looking forward and any time you start bringing data into it, you're not," Spector said. "I pitched a Lego construction game in 1989, and guess what: Minecraft is basically a Lego construction game. But at the time I was told "no, that won't work." I pitched a western game and the response was "westerns don't sell." And then Red Dead Redemption came out. Stuff doesn't sell until someone makes one that sells, and no amount of data can reveal what new thing is going to sell. The metrics and data guys, and the publishing guys will never come up with the next big thing.'""
DavidGilbert99 writes "Jeri Ellsworth has opened up about her time at games developer Valve and has hit out strongly at the so-called flatpack management structure. She says that despite Valve's claims of a democratic structure, there is a layer of powerful management in place and when she was fired she felt like she had been stabbed in the back. 'If I sound bitter, it's because I am. I am really, really bitter. They promised me the world and then stabbed me in the back.'" Develop Online has a good transcript. In the end, Gabe Newell at least let her team keep the rights to their augmented reality hardware. She also notes that she still loves Valve, but the management and bonus structure resulted in communication breakdowns at Valve's size. It does seem that a flat structure can work: Andy Wingo has been weblogging about working at Igalia and seems pretty positive about the experience.
jfruh writes "In March of 2012 legendary game designers Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert ran a Kickstarter to design a new adventure game, asked for $400,000, and came away with more than $3.3 million. Their promised delivery date was October 2012. Now it's July 2013, and the project still needs cash, which they plan to raise by selling an 'early release' version on Steam in January 2014. One possible lesson: radically overshooting your crowdfunding goal can cause you to wildly expand your ambitions, leading to a project that can't be tamed."
hypnosec writes "Nintendo has revealed that it has detected illicit logins in nearly 24,000 accounts on one of the main fan sites in Japan 'Club Nintendo' and account details such as real names, addresses, emails and phone numbers may have been accessed. According to Nintendo the mass login attempts have been made using a list of login credentials containing usernames and password obtained from some service other than Nintendo. The company revealed that it detected over 15 million login attempts out of which 23,926 were successful."
MojoKid writes "When Microsoft reversed its Xbox One DRM policies a few weeks back, there was momentary hope that the company has listened to its customers and understood the features they were asking for. Granted, this was brief. However, with Mattrick gone, there was some hope that maybe the company would reintroduce plans like Family Sharing and put the console back on track. Apparently not. Microsoft's big new feature with Kinect? Advertising. Microsoft plans to use Kinect to make advertisements even more engaging than their current counterparts. In the future, Kinect may offer you a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' style narrative in which you speak commands or give orders to an ad as it's playing to change the final outcome. The other way Microsoft wants to use Kinect is to monitor what's going on in the living room to serve you group-appropriate content, rather than resorting to the plain old method of bombarding you with non-interactive advertising for things you don't care about. Microsoft will likely learn that telling gamers that the Xbox One is an ad-centric experience and attempting to spin it like a positive doesn't actually work."
An anonymous reader writes "While the Wii U struggles, Nintendo's been raiding the archives and resurrecting some of its lesser known stars from yesteryear, including Chibi Robo, Steel Diver, and yes, Mario's oft-ignored brother himself — the company is going so far as to call 2013 the "year of Luigi". But as an article published today points out, there are still many more forgotten heroes in Nintendo's IP back catalogue. Series like Excitebike, Waveracer and 1080 used to be trusted to launch a new console, while NES classics like Ice Climber have all but been forgotten, alongside some of GameFreal's lesser known creations. Will they be enough to save Nintendo this generation?"
trawg writes "A new Australian study on the effect of violent video games on Australia has just been published, failing to find any evidence that playing video games affects prosocial behavior. The study compared groups who played different types of games, including notably violent titles like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, as well as non-violent titles like Portal, comparing their behavioral response through a simple pen-drop experiment. In a follow-up interview, the researcher said his perspective on how violence might affect people has changed since he started the research: 'I've played video games for most of my life and got into this research because I couldn't believe that violent video games could make me do something I didn't want to do, that is, be aggressive. My attitude has changed somewhat. These days I find it totally plausible that violent video games could influence people's behavior, but the real question is whether their influence is harmful, and I'm not yet convinced of that.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A server error has meant that for the past few months, a man not associated in any way with social gaming powerhouse Zynga has been getting customer support emails. When Zynga failed to return his messages, he started replying to the customers himself. Hilariously." Sadly (though perhaps some of his correspondents would disagree), the glitch has now been fixed.
Freshly Exhumed writes "There's a new security breach announcement over at the website of game publisher and developer Ubisoft today. Quoting:: 'We recently found that one of our Web sites was exploited to gain unauthorized access to some of our online systems. We instantly took steps to close off this access, to begin a thorough investigation with relevant authorities, internal and external security experts, and to start restoring the integrity of any compromised systems. During this process, we learned that data were illegally accessed from our account database, including user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords. No personal payment information is stored with Ubisoft, meaning your debit/credit card information was safe from this intrusion. As a result, we are recommending you to change your password by clicking this link.'"
Edsj writes "While Don Mattrick leaves Microsoft to work at Zynga, Steve Ballmer announces that, from now on, he will be directly in charge of the Xbox One division as quoted: 'Don's directs will report to me and will continue to drive the day-to-day business as a team, particularly focused on shipping Xbox One this holiday.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Legendary DIY gaming guru Ben Heck has given a new interview in which he talks about the Access Controller, his modular controller for consoles that lets disabled gamers play with one hand, and how he plans to update it for the next generation of consoles: 'I'm sure I will. At the very least people are going to want the accessibility controllers I build...People have already asked about them for the next-gen consoles, and that was at E3. When I was there, the thing I looked at the most was the controllers. The Xbox One looks pretty similar to what we have at the moment, but they finally fixed the D-pad.'"
An anonymous reader writes with a link to Kotaku's recent profile of Civilization creator Sid Meier, and includes this snippet: "One year, as [coworker John] Stealey recalls, the two men went to an electronics trade conference. On the second night of the show, they stumbled upon a bunch of arcade games in a basement. One by one, Meier beat Stealey at each of them. Then they found Atari's Red Baron, a squiggly flight game in which you'd steer a biplane through abstract outlines of terrain and obstacles. Stealey, the Air Force man, knew he could win at this one. He sat down at the machine and shot his way to 75,000 points, ranking number three on the arcade's leaderboard. Not bad. Then Meier went up. He scored 150,000 points. 'I was really torqued,' Stealey says today. This guy outflew an Air Force pilot? He turned to the programmer. 'Sid, how did you do that?' 'Well,' Meier said. 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A report by the Wall Street Journal says Google is working on an Android-based gaming console in addition to the long-rumored smartwatch. 'The hardware plans are the latest sign of Google's determination to build on the success of Android, the software it launched in 2008 that powered 75% of all smartphones and 57% of tablets shipped globally in the first quarter, according to the research firm IDC. ... The people briefed on the matter said Google is reacting in part to expectations that rival Apple will launch a videogame console as part of its next Apple TV product release.' This development push comes as the company is wrapping up work on Android 4.3, and as the Kickstarted, Android-based Ouya console is finding success in retail markets. Google is also reportedly working on a revision to its Nexus Q media streaming device, which the company announced last year and quickly shelved after they realized it was a bit weird and not terribly useful."
symbolset writes "Ars is reporting that Microsoft XBox One Kinect will not work on Windows PCs. It uses a proprietary connector and an adaptor will not be available. If you want Kinect for your PC you will need to buy a 'Kinect for Windows' product. Although the Kinect 1.0 for XBox 360 also had a proprietary connector it came with a USB adaptor for compatibility with older versions of the 360 that lacked the new proprietary port and PC compatibility was quickly hacked up by third parties."
First time accepted submitter Zanadou writes "Al Lowe, the original creator of Leisure Suit Larry and other classic games, announced earlier today the final release of the remake of the first game of the series, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: 'This is the moment I've been waiting a year for – Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is finally available! Right now. Tonight. For PCs and Mac. At the Replay Games site. (It would also be available via Steam, but they refuse to release a game at midnight; they said 'Tomorrow.' Hmm.) iOS versions will be available as soon as Apple releases it in the iTunes store. Android will follow shortly. What a night! Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Kickstarter campaign. It's been a long, hard year but I think this game is well worth it.'"
NVIDIA's Android-based gaming gaming handheld called SHIELD was to start shipping today to customers who had pre-ordered it. Reader MojoKid writes "Unfortunately, in its last round of QA work, NVIDIA uncovered a problem with a third-party component used in SHIELD and will be pushing the launch date out into July. NVIDIA is, however, allowing some members of the press to talk a bit about their experiences with a couple of Tegra 4-optimized games — namely Real Boxing and Blood Sword: Sword of Ruin — and also about an AR Drone controlled by SHIELD with a bird's eye view. The AR Drone streams video from its on-board HD camera to the SHIELD device as you fly. Just launching the thing high into the air and peering into trees or over the houses in the neighborhood is really cool."
Ouya, the Android-based game console that arose out of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, officially launched today. The $99 device quickly sold out at a number of retailers, including Amazon and GameStop. "According to Ouya, the console currently has more than 170 downloadable games, as well as a built-in software development kit that enables people to create and test titles right from the hardware." Many reviews of the console suggest the controllers are not very good, and there are reports that the Wi-Fi connectivity can be flaky. There's also a lot of commentary about Ouya that clearly came from unrealistic expectations of what a $99 device can provide. Most of the backers from the Kickstarter campaign have received their consoles, but some are still waiting as Ouya tries to sort out shipping problems with DHL.
jones_supa writes "This discovery comes nicely alongside the celebration of FreeBSD's 20th birthday, for all the UNIX nerds. The operating system powering the PlayStation 4 is Orbis OS, which is a Sony spin of FreeBSD 9.0. It's not a huge surprise FreeBSD is being used over Linux, in part due to the more liberal licensing. The PlayStation 4 is x86-64 based now rather than Cell-based, which makes it easier to use FreeBSD. BSDs in general currently lack manufacturer supported full-feature AMD graphics driver, which leads to the conclusion that Sony and AMD have likely co-developed a discrete driver for the PS4. Some pictures of the development kit boot loader (GRUB) have been published too."
capedgirardeau writes "Caleb Kraft of the well-known Hack-A-Day site noticed that game controllers and alternate keyboards for people with physical challenges were very expensive. Simple switches for buttons that could be made for a few dollars were running $60 or $70 apiece. Working with a young man he knew who loves gaming and has muscular dystrophy, Caleb created a do-it-yourself controller for people with physical challenges using a 3-D printer, a super-cheap micro-controller board and some simple keyboard emulation software. He is freely releasing all the 3-D printer files and tutorials to make his and other controllers on a new site, The Controller Project. He also encourages people to check out The AbleGamers Foundation"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Now that Microsoft and Sony have unveiled their respective next-generation gaming consoles, the two companies have cheerfully resorted to firing broadsides at each other. Whether the current brouhaha has any effect on sales of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 (if hardcore gamers keep complaining, they may even convince Microsoft to knock $100 off the new Xbox and bring its pricing down to the PS4's level), it's also drowning out what many perceive as the real issue: gaming consoles face an existential threat from mobile devices, most notably those running iOS (with some threat from Android). First, there are signs that the hardcore gamer market is soft: console sales in the United States dropped 21 percent in 2012, and sales of new video-game cartridges haven't fared much better. Second, PC/console games such as X-Com have begun appearing on iOS; if that trend continues, the console companies will have more rivals to fight against. Third, Apple is developing a game controller for iOS which could make it an even more dedicated opponent — and convince other tech companies to follow in its footsteps. But don't tell any of that to Microsoft and Sony, which seem content to fire at each other."
TheSHAD0W writes "It's been over a decade since Megatokyo was mentioned in a Slashdot story. Fred Gallagher, author of the long-running webcomic, has launched a Kickstarter for a Megatokyo Visual Novel Game. The KS has fared very well, funding its basic goal in less than four hours and covering most of the posted stretch goals in the first twenty-four. Fred also posted a half-joking stretch goal at a half-million dollars to include'"excessively romantic content,' wink wink nudge nudge. He may have been kidding, but there are some indications it might be reached."
One of the biggest criticisms of Microsoft's recently-announced Xbox One console was that it would require an internet connection once every 24 hours in order to keep playing games. Enough people complained about the DRM, and Microsoft listened. Today, they announced that they're removing the phone-home requirement. "After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360." They've also scrapped the game trading and resale system they'd built, which allowed publishers to set their own rules with regard to used game sales. "There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360." Unfortunately, that also means users won't be able to take advantage of the good parts of the original system, such as trading and gifting games without needing the disc, or sharing games with remote family members. "While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds." Also noteworthy: they've dropped region-locks as well.
Craefter writes "It seems that the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset caught the attention of investors after its showing at E3 this year. Spark Capital and Matrix Partners were able to push $16 million at Oculus VR in the hopes that the product will live up to the hype. The HD unit looks a bit more slick than the ski-goggles-with-a-tablet-glued-to-it prototype, but the device would look even more appealing if the next-gen consoles would commit to supporting it. (We all know how well the PS3's 'wave-stick' did as an afterthought.) That said, major titles like the 9-year-old Half-Life 2 and the 6-year-old Team Fortress 2 are getting full support for the device. Hopefully some developers are looking into support for the Oculus Rift as a launch feature, rather than an addition years after the fact. IA bit like the EAX standard from Soundblaster. That worked out well too."
cyclomedia writes "Switch Fringe is a relatively new not-for-profit annual music and arts festival in the UK town of Ipswich, and this year's program features a full page map of the town with details about each venue. Unlike most other maps this one is in the form of a Zelda level. This is in part due to this year's theme 'Re-imagining Ipswich,' that PixelH8 is coming out of semi-retirement to play a gig during the proceedings and possibly due to the fact that the map's designer — The Decibel Kid — spent too much time playing Zelda on a Gameboy Color during the first Web bubble."
Loadmaster writes "The new Oddworld game New 'n' Tasty is coming to every platform in the current generation and even the next generation but not the Xbox One. It's not that developer Oddworld Inhabitants isn't porting the game. It's not that they hate Microsoft or the Xbox One. No, it's that Microsoft has taken an anti-indie dev stance with the Xbox One. While the game industry is moving to Kickstarter and self-funded shops, Microsoft has decided all developers must have a publisher to grace their console."
An Ominous Cow Erred writes "In an odd approach to reaching out to otherwise shut-in sufferers of mental distress, an organization called Anxiety Gaming is betting that online intervention is the best way to reach people with emotional difficulties. Their argument is that the social nature of modern gaming makes it a valid means of reaching people who might not otherwise seek help through more traditional channels. According to their Facebook page, their future intentions seem to include distributing consoles to homes for foster youth, to encourage them to look to games for positival interpersonal communication."
symbolset writes "In the wake of a disastrous E3 product reveal Microsoft has purportedly distributed a confidential internal 100-point 'FAQ' for the Xbox One that reads like it's from the Ministry of Truth. It was of course immediately leaked on pastebin. Kotaku has the story and an amusing online poll. In the discussion below make sure to line up the FAQ entries with the AC comments for extra 'Informative' moderation."