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AI

Two Teams Win the BotPrize 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-make-them-swear-a-lot-over-xbox-live dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For the past five years, the 2K BotPrize has challenged artificial intelligence researchers and programmers to create a computer-game-playing bot that plays like a person. It's one thing to make bots that play computer games very well — computers are faster and more accurate than a person can ever be — but it's a different thing to make bots that are fun to play against. In a breakthrough result, after years of striving and improvement from 14 different international teams from nine countries, two teams have crossed the humanness barrier! The teams share $7000 in prize money and a trip to games company 2K's Canberra studio. The winners are the UT^2 team from the University of Texas at Austin, and Mihai Polceanu, a doctoral student from Romania, currently studying Artificial Intelligence at ENIB CERV — Centre de Réalité Virtuelle, Brest, France. The UT^2 team is Professor Risto Miikulainen, and doctoral students Jacob Schrum and Igor Karpov. The bots created by the two teams both achieved a humanness rating of 52%, easily exceeding the average humanness rating of the human players, at 40%. It is especially fitting that the prize has been won in the 2012 Alan Turing Centenary Year. The famous Turing test — where a computer has to have a conversation with a human, and pretends to be another human — was the inspiration for the BotPrize competition. Where to now for human-like bots? Next year we hope to propose a new and exciting challenge for game playing bot creators to push their technologies to the next level of human-like performance."
PC Games (Games)

How Indie Devs Made an 1,800-Player Action Game Mod In Their Spare Time 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the massively-multiplayer-regular-game dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Just Cause 2 Multiplayer has been getting a lot of press lately, but this making-of feature points out how the mod raises serious questions about the games industry: if 1,800-player massively multiplayer action games are possible on one server, why did it take a group of modders to prove it? From the article: 'There’s more chaos to come. That 1,800 player limit isn’t maxing out the server or the software by any means. Foote says that the team, who first met online seven years ago playing the similar Multi Theft Auto GTA mod, are "yet to reach any real barrier or limitation preventing us from reaching an even higher player count than the previous public tests." When it’s ready, the team will release the software for everyone to download and run their own servers, wherever they are in the world.'"
Businesses

Are Commercial Games Finally Going To Make It To Linux? 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the yes-no-maybe dept.
colinneagle writes "Those of us who actively promote Linux as a viable desktop alternative to Windows are often greeted with the following refrain: 'Nobody will use Linux because there are no good games.' The prevailing wisdom is that the abundance of high-quality, commercial video gaming is a key factor in the market-share dominance that Microsoft Windows enjoys. And, in all reality, this is somewhat true. So, then, the obvious course of action is to convince the video game publishers and developers of the world that Linux is a viable (if, perhaps, a bit niche) market. And by 'viable' I mean one thing and one thing only – 'profitable.'Luckily, there have been three high-profile recent examples of Linux users going absolutely nuts over video games, forking over their hard-earned cash in the process: the Humble Indie Bundle (drawing in huge numbers of sales — for a DRM-free product, no less — with sales numbers by Linux users consistently beating out sales to MacOS X users); Canonical's Ubuntu Software Center (where video games make up the top 10 paid software packages); Valve's announcement that it is bringing the Steam store, and community portal, to Linux desktop (specifically Ubuntu). Will the indie game developers (along with Valve) reap the bulk of the rewards that releasing games on Linux is offering...or will some of the big publishers realize what they're missing out on and join in the fun?"
Nintendo

Can Nintendo Court the Casuals Again? 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-think-they'll-manage dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from Eurogamer: "Do you remember the last time? When the Wii launched at the tail end of 2006, it was to an air of excited curiosity that went well beyond the borders of core gamers, with Nintendo conjuring what ran close to a full-blown phenomenon. ... Nintendo's masterstroke, of course, has been resurrecting the ultimate hardcore poster girl with the announcement that Bayonetta 2 is heading exclusively to the Wii U. There's something slightly incongruous about an over-sexed, incredibly violent action game rubbing shoulders with Mario and co., but then again that's exactly what makes the proposition so very exciting. ... There's still one very important section of the market that may prove a little tougher to persuade. Right now it's harder to see the broader appeal of the Wii U, and it's not simply a case of fearing that it'll fail to replicate the success of its predecessor — there's every chance that it could endure the same rocky start that plagued Nintendo's 3DS."
The Courts

Zynga Sues EA For 'Anti-competitive' Practices 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the fight-fight-fight dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In early August, Electronic Arts sued Zynga for allegedly copying EA's Sims Social game. Zynga has now launched a counterattack, suing EA for 'anticompetitive and unlawful business practices, including legal threats and demands for no-hire agreements.' The company also accuses EA of copying a Zynga game called YoVille. Zynga has also demanded a jury trial to settle EA's claims."
Patents

Patent Troll Sues X-Plane 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the uniloc-has-a-lot-of-x-planing-to-do dept.
symbolset writes "X-plane is a cross-platform flight simulator app, notably the only serious one that supports Mac OSX and Linux. It was the first to include NASA data in their terrain modelling. It's now under threat by an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity) called Uniloc. Uniloc is suing for things X-Plane has done for decades. X-plane cannot afford to defend this suit, so if somebody doesn't step up and defend them then we lose X-plane forever. Quoting: 'I have spoken to a lawyer about this, and I am told that it will cost me about $1,500,000 (one and a half million dollars) to defend this suit. He also told me that it should take about two to three years to defend. This is more money than I have made selling Android Apps in the first place.'"
Games

Black Mesa Released 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-so-soon dept.
ProbablyJoe writes "The long awaited Source engine remake of the Valve's original Half Life has finally been released. The initial release only includes the story up until Xen, but the developers say they'll be adding the rest of the story, along with an online multiplayer Deathmatch mode, soon. The game is available to download for free, and only requires players to install the Source SDK (included with all Source games, or a free download). The highly anticipated release has also caused a huge amount of traffic for any servers hosting the files, with GameFront, GameUpdates, and Black Mesa's own CDN brought down within minutes of the release. The project has also been approved by Steam's Greenlight program, and will hopefully be available through Steam soon, though no timeframe has been given."
Nintendo

Nintendo WiiU Price and Release Date Announced 282

Posted by timothy
from the water-sports-games-I-hope dept.
YokimaSun writes "Nintendo has revealed the release date of the Wii U: in Japan it will launch on the 8th December, and in the U.S. it will launch on November 18th. The console will ship in two versions: a basic version with 8GB of internal memory and a Deluxe version that has 32GB of internal memory and comes with a stand and docks. Both versions have 1GB of main memory and as much again for game memory. Nintendo claims the console is 20 times more powerful than the Wii and supports 1080p visuals out the box. It comes with an HDMI cable. All existing Wii accessories will work with the Wii U, but the new Tablet Gamepad will set you back around £100/$173 when you convert yen over. The price of the Deluxe SKU is $350." Here's a list of launch titles.
Government

EVE Online CSM and Diplomat Killed in Libyan Consulate Attacks 680

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the small-world dept.
New submitter overmoderated writes first with news of an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. From the article: "The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on their car, a Libyan official said, as they were rushed from a consular building stormed by militants denouncing a U.S.-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad." An anonymous reader adds: "Sean Smith, a.k.a. Vile Rat, an EVE Online CSM member, and diplomat for the GoonFleet corporation, was one of the four killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya last night. He was 34. A fundraiser is being organized for his children by the Something Awful forums." Update: 09/12 21:28 GMT by U L : Ozma from Something Awful mailed in a link to the memorial thread on the SA forums (including details on the memorial fund).
Books

Playing At the World: a Huge New History of Gaming 18

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-lawn dept.
New submitter disconj writes "Over at Wired, Ethan Gilsdorf interviews Jon Peterson, author of the new book Playing at the World. Gilsdorf calls it 'a must read,' though he cautions it 'is not intended for a general audience. It's a book for geeks, about geeks.' It is apparently an insanely-detailed history of role-playing games and wargames, including everything from Prussian kriegsspiel up to Dungeons & Dragons and the beginning of computer RPGs (but none of that heathen stuff after 1980). Peterson says in the interview that he wanted to write a history of these games 'worthy of the future they are creating.' He apparently spent five years on the project, including unearthing a huge trove of previously-unknown historical documents."
Crime

Arma III Developers Arrested In Greece For 'Spying' 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the game-developers-make-the-best-secret-agents dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Kotaku reports that two employees of Bohemia Interactive have been arrested while on a photo-tour of the Greek island of Limnos, on charges of spying. The developers were taking reference photos for the upcoming military simulation game Arma III, which is to feature Limnos as it's primary setting, when they were arrested (Google translation of Greek original)."
Privacy

Activision Blizzard Secretly Watermarking World of Warcraft Users 272

Posted by timothy
from the information-theory dept.
New submitter kgkoutzis writes "A few days ago I noticed some weird artifacts covering the screenshots I captured using the WoW game client application. I sharpened the images and found a repeating pattern secretly embedded inside. I posted this information on the OwnedCore forum and after an amazing three-day cooperation marathon, we managed to prove that all our WoW screenshots, since at least 2008, contain a custom watermark. This watermark includes our user IDs, the time the screenshot was captured and the IP address of the server we were on at the time. It can be used to track down activities which are against Blizzard's Terms of Service, like hacking the game or running a private server. The users were never notified by the ToS that this watermarking was going on so, for four years now, we have all been publicly sharing our account and realm information for hackers to decode and exploit. You can find more information on how to access the watermark in the aforementioned forum post which is still quite active."
Open Source

Torque 3D To Be Released On Github Under the MIT License 54

Posted by timothy
from the tux-racer-reboot-please dept.
New submitter iamnothing writes "Eric Preisz, CEO of GarageGames, announces, 'Eleven years ago, The GarageGames founders did an incredibly innovative thing when they sold a full source game engine for $100. We are excited to continue in their footsteps by announcing that we will be releasing Torque 3D as the best open source game technology in the world. Once again, GarageGames will be changing game development.'"
Businesses

Valve Reveals Gaming Headset, Teases Big Picture 151

Posted by timothy
from the this-one-goes-on-your-head dept.
dotarray writes with a bit from Player Attack: "Gaming is big business, says Valve, as the developer takes the time to show off its brand new gaming headset and TV-based Big Picture. Rather than inviting the games media masses who have been clamouring for any details on the Seattle company's 'wearable computing' initiative, Gabe Newell and his team instead went right to the top, with an in-depth interview published in The New York Times." The New York Times article on which this report is based is worth reading, too: Valve's corporate non-structure sounds hard to believe. It seems Valve is also looking for hardware designers.
Piracy

How the Pirate Bay Can Be an Asset To Game Developers 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-some-of-them dept.
Underholdning writes "It's been five years since Radiohead brought the pay what you want model to the public with their successful sale of their 'In Rainbows' album. Now, here's a fresh example of how a game developer is making The Pirate Bay work for him by offering his game, McPixel, for free and letting people pay what they want. Currently TPB has more than 5000 applicants wanting to do the same. 'Sosowski isn't worried that promoting a game on a site known for piracy might be more effective at attracting more pirates than actual paying customers. "The game was already available on TPB beforehand, and I believe if someone didn't want to pay, he just didn't ... It is up to people to decide how much they would like to pay for the game, and I have no worries. I am happy that more people can enjoy my game. ... TPB is one of the most visited sites in the Internet, and simply having a game there is a form of advertisement and promotion."'"
Programming

The Struggles of Developing StarCraft 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the requires-more-vespene-gas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Patrick Wyatt led production efforts for several of Blizzard Entertainment's early games, including Warcraft 1 & 2 and StarCraft. Wyatt has just published an in-depth look at the development of StarCraft, highlighting many of the problems the team encountered, and several of the hacks they came to later regret. Quoting: 'Given all the issues working against the team, you might think it was hard to identify a single large source of bugs, but based on my experiences the biggest problems in StarCraft related to the use of doubly-linked linked lists. Linked lists were used extensively in the engine to track units with shared behavior. With twice the number of units of its predecessor — StarCraft had a maximum of 1600, up from 800 in Warcraft 2 — it became essential to optimize the search for units of specific types by keeping them linked together in lists. ... All of these lists were doubly-linked to make it possible to add and remove elements from the list in constant time — O(1) — without the necessity to traverse the list looking for the element to remove — O(N). Unfortunately, each list was 'hand-maintained' — there were no shared functions to link and unlink elements from these lists; programmers just manually inlined the link and unlink behavior anywhere it was required. And hand-rolled code is far more error-prone than simply using a routine that's already been debugged. ... So the game would blow up all the time. All the time.'" Wyatt also has a couple interesting posts about the making of Warcraft 1.
Portables (Games)

PSVita Hacked, Native Homebrew Loader Coming Soon 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-not-to-a-theater-near-you dept.
Busshy writes "Since the release of the PSVita, sales for the portable console have struggled, particularly in Japan. There, the PSP was selling more units until this week, with the release of Hatsune Miku Project Diva F, which has seen PSVita sales quadruple. For the rest of the world, sales are still slow thanks to a dull selection of games. This could soon change, as Yifan Lu, coder of the Kindle Hack and PSX Xperia, has revealed he is now working on a native loader for the PSVita. Basically, it's a Userland Vita Loader for loading unsigned executables on your Vita — in other words, a Homebrew Loader for the PSVita. To calm Sony fears, he claims it is physically impossible to run 'backups' with the exploit. The exploit cannot decrypt or load retail games. At this time, the exploit is unreleased; naturally, he doesnt want Sony to fix it."
Cloud

EA Exec Won't Green Light Any Single Player-Only Games 274

Posted by Soulskill
from the leveraging-synergies-like-a-champ dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from Geek.com: "Frank Gibeau, the president of EA Labels, has shown that business truly does come before gameplay with comments he made as part of a preview document for the CloudGamingUSA event happening on September 11-12 in San Francisco. Gibeau is very proud of the fact he has never green lit a single project that consisted solely of a single-player experience. He insists that every game EA publishes has an online component to it. His reason for doing this? Apparently EA has 'evolved with consumers (PDF)' suggesting he thinks this is what consumers want in every game. ... Forcing online into every game makes little sense. While it works for a Battlefield, Medal of Honor, Fifa or Need for Speed title, there's just as many games that don't need it to succeed, or even work for online play. A good example of this would be the forthcoming SimCity, which has upset fans of the series because it will require an constant Internet connection to play. That isn't a DRM measure, it's due to the tight integration of multiplayer and how all players impact each others games."

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