An anonymous reader writes "After their online store accidentally spilled the beans last week, Blizzard has now confirmed plans to let players pay $60 to boost one of their World of Warcraft characters to level 90, the current cap. At Blizzcon a few months ago, the company unveiled the game's next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, currently in development. When it comes out, they're giving every player a free boost to 90 in order to get to the new content immediately. They say this was the impetus for making it a purchasable option. 'It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service.' Why $60? They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.' Lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas said, '[L]eveling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.'" On one hand, I can appreciate that people who just want to get to endgame content may find it more efficient to spend a few bucks than to put a hundred hours into leveling a new character. On the other hand, I can't help but laugh at the idea that Blizzard will probably get a ton of people paying them to not play their game.
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RogueyWon writes "South Park has long been vocal in its opposition to media censorship from any source, launching scathing attacks on everything from 'think of the children' moral crusades to the censorship of religious imagery. In a curious twist, therefore, Ubisoft, the publisher of the upcoming video game South Park: The Stick of Truth, has decided to censor certain scenes from the game's Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions from release in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. American versions, as well as the European PC release, so far appear to have escaped the censor's pen."
KingofGnG writes "DICE is a small emulator dedicated to recreating on a modern computer the arcade games based on discrete circuits: ancient and bizarre entertainment machines where the electronic components required for the game experience were soldered individually on the circuit board and where there was no trace of integrated circuit or CPU. It's an obscure and fascinating kind of emulation, and the offering of emulated games grows richer with each release." Released a few days ago, DICE 0.8 adds support for four new games: Atari's Crossfire and Pin Pong, and Ramtek's Clean Sweep and Wipe Out.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Gary Marshall writes that.Microsoft's marvelous motion-sensing device is doing really good work for Sony, helping the PS4 outsell the Xbox One in the US and rocketing it to the top of the world's console sales charts. With the Xbox One $100 more expensive than the PlayStation 4, the Kinect is the explanation for the huge difference in price between the rival platforms says Marshall. "That kind of money makes a huge difference, and I wonder: if Microsoft had kept the Kinect as an optional add-on, which we all know it should be, would the Xbox One be much more attractive?" Ben Kuchera describes the peripheral as one of the most hated pieces of equipment in current use. "The system is still new, but every Xbox One owner now has a peripheral that has little reason to exist, aids their gaming in very few real ways and costs them a significant amount of money." The common defense of the Kinect is that developers wouldn't support it unless it was forced on consumers but according to Kuchera pushing a product on the public with the hope that it will be useful once we have it is a cruel inversion of how product adoption should be handled. "The forced pack-in proves something we already knew at the beginning of this generation: Almost no one would want to buy the Kinect separately if they were given the choice," writes Kuchera. "It's time to make the Kinect a peripheral, not a pack-in.""
jonyami writes "Virtual reality headsets are the next big thing thanks to the rise of the Oculus Rift, but this new headset from tiny startup GameFace Labs promises to one-up its rivals by going completely wireless. A new article goes heads-on with the new device and features an interview with the company's founder, Ed Mason."
cold fjord writes "Gamespot reports, 'Remember Doom 4? It's not dead! And it's now just called Doom, presumably. And there's going to be a beta. Anyone who preorders a copy of upcoming Wolfenstein: The New Order will gain access to the Doom beta. But Bethesda isn't saying when that beta might be. Or what platforms it will be on. It is saying, however, that you'll need to be over 18 to participate. Sounds like it might be a bit gory, then. More information can be found on Bethesda's Doom beta site.' Forbes adds that Wolfenstein: The New Order is set for release on May 20th."
An anonymous reader writes "An e-sports production company has published the results of a survey into the demographics of the gamers who attend competition events. Even though nearly half of the gaming population is composed of women, they account for less than 10% of the players in competitions. The e-sports company, WellPlayed, said, '[A] whopping 90-94% of the viewers were male, and interestingly enough, only about half of the remaining survey takers felt comfortable being identified as female.' The results were taken from survey responses over the past year at competitions for StarCraft 2 and League of Legends. DailyDot makes the point that competitive gaming communities also tend not to be racially diverse. Quoting: 'Although no studies have been done about race in esports, it only takes one trip to a Major League Gaming event to confirm what Cannon says. With the notably racially diverse exception of the fighting-game community, Asians and white Americans make up an enormous portion of esports players and fans. Black and Middle Eastern esports fans are conspicuously missing.'"
An anonymous reader writes "We haven't had this discussion in a while: what games are Slashdotters playing these days? We've recently seen the latest generation of consoles arrive on the scene. Almost exactly a year ago, Valve brought Steam to Linux, and they've been pushing for stronger Linux adoption among game publishers ever since. Mobile gaming continues to rise (for better or worse), MMOs are still sprouting like weeds, and Kickstarted indie games are becoming commonplace. For those of you who play games, what ones have struck your fancy recently? What older games do you keep coming back to? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to?"
dotarray writes "Valve has stepped up to answer allegations that the company's anti-cheat system was scanning users' internet history. Rather than a simple, sanitized press release or a refusal to comment on 'rumours and innuendo,' Valve CEO and gaming hero Gabe Newell has personally responded." Newell or not, not everyone will like the answer. The short version is that Yes, Valve is scanning DNS caches, with a two-tiered approach intended to find cheating users by looking for cheat servers in their histories. Says Newell: "Less than a tenth of one percent of clients triggered this second check, accessing the DNS cache. 570 cheaters are being banned due to DNS searches."
"The Fat Man" George Sanger has composed the music to hundreds of computer and video games since the 80's and remains one of the most influential people in game audio. Some of his most famous tunes can be heard in Maniac Mansion, Wing Commander, and Tux Racer. Team Fat, a band that includes fellow video game music composers, creates music, sound effects, and voice work for games, television, and films. George has agreed to give us a bit of his time and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
An anonymous reader writes "Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood has posted about how much progress we've made toward commercially viable virtual reality gaming — and how far we have to go. The Oculus Rift headset is technologically brilliant compared to anything we'd have before, but Atwood says there are still a number of problems to solve. Quoting: 'It's a big commitment to strap a giant, heavy device on your face with 3+ cables to your PC. You don't just casually fire up a VR experience. ... Demos are great, but there aren't many games in the Steam Store that support VR today, and the ones that do support VR can feel like artificially tacked on novelty experiences. I did try Surgeon Simulator 2013 which was satisfyingly hilarious. ... VR is a surprisingly anti-social hobby, even by gamer standards, which are, uh low. Let me tell you, nothing is quite as boring as watching another person sit down, strap on a headset, and have an extended VR "experience". I'm stifling a yawn just thinking about it. ... Wearing a good VR headset makes you suddenly realize how many other systems you need to add to the mix to get a truly great VR experience: headphones and awesome positional audio, some way of tracking your hand positions, perhaps an omnidirectional treadmill, and as we see with the Crystal Cove prototype, an external Kinect style camera to track your head position at absolute minimum.' Atwood also links to Michael Abrash's VR blog, which is satisfyingly technical for those interested in the hardware and software problems of VR."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Nearly 30 years after Super Mario Bros., video game graphics have advanced to heights that once seemed impossible. Modern sports games are fueled by motion capture of actual athletes, and narrative-driven adventures can seem more like interactive movies than games. But gaming's increasing realism brings a side effect — a game can now fall into the 'uncanny valley,' a term coined by robotics professor Masahiro Mori of the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1970. Jon Brodkin talked to game developers, engineers, motion scientists and a variety of other folks about the 'uncanny valley problem,' in which (some) people feel revolted when confronted by a robot or digital character that doesn't quite look real. In games where human-like characters are necessary, the uncanny valley can be an even bigger problem than in animated movies; gamers control characters rather than just watching them, creating more opportunities for the illusion of realism to falter. New and better tools can help developers and animators deal with some of these issues, but crossing the 'valley' successfully still remains a challenge. Or is crossing it even possible at all?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "King, the gaming developer behind the monster hit Candy Crush Saga, has attracted a fair amount of criticism over the past few weeks over its attempt to trademark the word 'candy,' which isn't exactly an uncommon term. The company followed up that trademarking attempt by firing off takedown notices at other developers who use 'candy' in the titles of their apps. But things only got emotional in the past few days, when indie developer Albert Ransom published an open letter on his Website that excoriates King for what basically amounts to bullying. Ransom claims that he published CandySwipe in 2010, a full two years before Candy Crush Saga hit the market, and that the two games bear a number of similarities; after opposing King's attempts to register a trademark, Ransom found that his rival had taken things to a whole new level by purchasing the rights to a game called Candy Crusher and using that as leverage to cancel the CandySwipe trademark. Ransom claims he spent three years working on his game, and that King is basically robbing his livelihood. King was not effusive in its response. 'I would direct you to our stance on intellectual property,' a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email to Slashdot, which included a link to a letter posted online by King CEO Riccardo Zacconi. 'At this time, we do not have any comment to add beyond what is outlined in this letter.' Zacconi's various defenses in the letter seem a moot point in the context of CandySwipe, considering how Ransom has already abandoned the prospect of fighting to protect his intellectual property. But the two developers' letters help illustrate how downright nasty the casual-gaming industry has become over the past several quarters, as profits skyrocket and people attempt to capitalize on others' success."
goruka writes with news that a new game engine has been made available to Free Software developers under the permissive MIT license "Godot is a fully featured, open source, MIT licensed, game engine. It focuses on having great tools, and a visual oriented workflow that can deploy to PC, Mobile and Web platforms with no hassle. The editor, language and APIs are feature rich, yet simple to learn. Godot was born as an in-house engine, and was used to publish several work-for-hire commercial titles. With more than half a million lines of code, Godot is one of the most complex Open Source game engines at the moment, and one of the largest commitments to open source software in recent years. It allows developers to make games under Linux (and other unix variants), Windows and OSX." The source is available via Github, and, according to Phoronix, it's about as featureful as the Unity engine.