Games

Is 'SimCity' Homelessness a Bug Or a Feature? 393

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-the-guiliani-addon dept.
sarahnaomi writes: SimCity players have discussed a variety of creative strategies for their virtual homelessness problem. They've suggested waiting for natural disasters like tornadoes to blow the vagrants away, bulldozing parks where they congregate, or creating such a woefully insufficient city infrastructure that the homeless would leave on their own.

You can read all of these proposed final solutions in Matteo Bittanti's How to Get Rid of Homelessness, "a 600-page epic split in two volumes documenting the so-called 'homeless scandal' that affected 2013's SimCity." Bittanti collected, selected, and transcribed thousands of these messages exchanged by players on publisher Electronic Arts' official forums, Reddit, and the largest online SimCity community Simtropolis, who experienced and then tried to "eradicate" the phenomenon of homelessness that "plagued" SimCity."
NES (Games)

Rare Recalled NES Game Stadium Events On Ebay For $99,000 138

Posted by timothy
from the chasing-the-elusive dept.
An anonymous reader writes Via Eurogamer comes news of possibly the rarest of all NES games selling on the auction site Ebay for a staggering 99,000 Dollars at this time, with 4 days left to go. The game in question the 1987 NES game Stadium Events was released then pulled only 2 days later. Stadium Events was released by Bandai as a test title for its Family Fun Fitness Control Mat — an early version of the technology now found in Dance Dance Revolution floor pads. But Nintendo acquired the technology for itself, just as the game was being released. The company ordered an immediate return of all copies so the game could be rebranded with Nintendo's version of the controller mat, now named as the NES Power Pad .
Classic Games (Games)

NetHack Development Team Polls Community For Advice On Unicode 165

Posted by timothy
from the pressing-issues dept.
An anonymous reader writes After years of relative silence, the development team behind the classic roguelike game NetHack has posteda question: going forward, what internal representation should the NetHack core use for Unicode characters? UTF8? UTF32? Something else? (See also: NH4 blog, reddit. Also, yes, I have verified that the question authentically comes from the NetHack dev team.)
Businesses

Nintendo Puts Business In Brazil On Hiatus 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-market-to-leave dept.
jones_supa writes: Nintendo has announced that it will end distribution of its consoles and games in Brazil. In a statement, Nintendo attributed the move to high import duties, which makes doing feasible business difficult. The company could avoid those duties with a local manufacturing operation, but has chosen not to establish one, presumably for the costs involved. In a statement e-mailed to Polygon, Nintendo of America said that the company's distributor for Latin America would no longer send products to Brazil, but it would continue to distribute Nintendo goods to other parts of South America. Nintendo will also keep monitoring the evolution of the business environment in Brazil and evaluate how to best serve Brazilian customers in the future.
Classic Games (Games)

Researchers "Solve" Texas Hold'Em, Create Perfect Robotic Player 340

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-raise-you-infinity dept.
Jason Koebler writes The best limit Texas Hold'Em poker player in the world is a robot. Given enough hands, it will never, ever lose, regardless of what its opponent does or which cards it is dealt. Researchers at the University of Alberta essentially "brute forced" the game of limit poker, in which there are roughly 3 x 10^14 possible decisions. Cepheus runs through a massive table of all of these possible permutations of the game—the table itself is 11 terabytes of data—and decides what the best move is, regardless of opponent.
Games

Text Editor Created In Minecraft 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the already-has-dedicated-adherents dept.
jones_supa writes: The redstone mechanics in Minecraft can be pushed surprisingly far to create rather advanced digital circuits. Thanks to a user nicknamed Koala_Steamed, there now exists a text editor inside the game (YouTube demonstration). It comes with a 5 x 10 character matrix in which each character uses a starburst (16-segment) display. There are 7.357 x 10^92 different combinations the screen can show, all of which can be controlled from a single line. The scale of the workings used to make this piece of logic, using only redstone, is dauntingly huge.
Classic Games (Games)

Archive.org Adds Close To 2,400 DOS Games 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the right-in-the-nostalgia dept.
New submitter Bugamn writes Archive.org has added a new library of DOS games. The games are playable on the browser through EM-DOSBOX, a port of the DOS emulator. The games are provided without instructions, so some experimentation (or search for old manuals) might be necessary. The library does not mention any copyright concerns, although some of the games can be found for sale on sites such as Steam and GoG.
Sony

After Outage, Sony Makes Peace Offering To Users of PlayStation Network 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the sorry-for-your-trouble dept.
An anonymous reader notes that Sony is offering deals to make up for the downtime over Christmas. "PlayStation Network gamers didn't have such a happy holiday thanks to the reported handiwork of some hackers, so Sony is hoping to appease users of its online gaming service with promises of deals and discounts. For Playstation Plus subscribers, Sony is offering a 5-day membership extension, and for all members, a 10 percent discount at the PlayStation store, according to a blog post published Thursday. The PlayStation Network is Sony's online service for its PlayStation game console. Both PSN and Microsoft's online gaming service, Xbox Live, were intermittently offline beginning on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Xbox Live came back online first, with PSN following Saturday night."
Hardware Hacking

Hackers Leak Xbox One SDK Claiming Advancement In Openness and Homebrew 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the open-it-up dept.
MojoKid writes Microsoft, it seems, just can't catch a break. Days after a major hack took its servers offline on Christmas day, and after being lambasted in multiple stories for shipping games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection in nigh-unplayable condition, the company's Xbox One SDK has been leaked to the public by a group calling itself H4LT. H4LT, which apparently objects to being called a hacker group, offered this explanation when asked why it was distributing the SDK. The group claims that "the SDK will basically allow the community to reverse and open doors towards homebrew applications being present on the Xbox One." To be clear, what H4LT has done is a far cry from groups like Lizard Squad. The SDK for any given product is typically available behind some degree of registration, but they don't necessarily cost anything. The SDK is one small component of creating the ecosystem that would be necessary to get homebrew up and running on the platform. Whether or not users will ever pull it off is another question.
Crime

UK Arrest Over Xbox Live and Playstation Network Outages 86

Posted by timothy
from the but-officer-I-was-having-fun dept.
An anonymous reader writes Neowin.net is reporting the arrest of one Vincent Omari, a UK citizen [see also this Daily Mail story from a few days ago mentioning Omari], in the Christmas Day DDoS attacks on Sony's PSN and Microsoft's XBL systems: "In documents sent to Neowin, Vinnie Omari has been accused of 'hacking of the Playstation Network and Xbox Live systems over the Christmas Period'... While this is the first arrest related to the recent service disruptions, it may not be the last... In further conversations with those who are familiar with the investigation and the arrest, Omari believes that the police will not find anything of substance on his computers. His alleged crime is that he helped coordinate the DDOS attack on the service."
Games

Designing the Best Board Game 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-pass-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Twilight Struggle tops BoardGameGeek's ranking of user-rated board games, handily beating classics like Puerto Rico, Settlers of the Catan, and Risk. FiveThirtyEight has an article about the game's design, and how certain design choices can affect enjoyment. Quoting: "Gupta has a few theories about why his game has done so well. For one, it's a two-player game — the Americans vs. the Soviets. Two-player games are attractive for a couple of reasons. First, by definition, half the players win. People like winning, and are likely to replay and rate highly a game they think they have a chance to win. ... The data offers some evidence for Gupta's hypothesis. Games that support three players rate highest, with an average of 6.58. But two-player games are a close second, with an average rating of 6.55. Next closest are five-player games, which average 6.39. ... The shortest games are the lowest rated, on average. But players don't favor length without bounds. Three hours seems to be right around the point of diminishing marginal returns. Another key to the game's success is its mix of luck and skill." What design elements do you particularly enjoy or hate in board games?
Classic Games (Games)

The Making of a 1980s Dungeons & Dragons Module 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the rpg-roots dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Over at Medium, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) has put up a new in-depth article covering the internal process at TSR that created Dungeons & Dragons modules in the 1980s. The adventures created at that time (by the likes of Tracy Hickman, then a staff designer) paved the way for many later computer role-playing games, and this piece shows how TSR work was pitched, storyboarded, proofed, edited and organized. With the positive reception of the new 5th edition of D&D and the attention paid to the fortieth anniversary of the game, the historical record behind modern gaming gets ever more important.
AI

The New (Computer) Chess World Champion 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the champions-who-cannot-wear-belts dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The 7th Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC) has ended, and a new victor has been crowned: Komodo. The article provides some background on how the different competitive chess engines have been developed, and how we can expect Moore's Law to affect computer dominance in other complex games in the future.

"Although it is coming on 18 years since Deep Blue beat Kasparov, humans are still barely fending off computers at shogi, while we retain some breathing room at Go. ... Ten years ago, each doubling of speed was thought to add 50 Elo points to strength. Now the estimate is closer to 30. Under the double-in-2-years version of Moore's Law, using an average of 50 Elo gained per doubling since Kasparov was beaten, one gets 450 Elo over 18 years, which again checks out. To be sure, the gains in computer chess have come from better algorithms, not just speed, and include nonlinear jumps, so Go should not count on a cushion of (25 – 14)*9 = 99 years."
Graphics

Quake On an Oscilloscope 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the rocket-jump-with-an-electromagnet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Pekka Väänänen has posted a fascinating report on how he got Quake running on an oscilloscope (video link). Obviously, the graphic details gets stripped down to basic lines, but even then, you need to cull any useless or unseen geometry to make things run smoothly. He says, "To cull the duplicates a std::unordered_set of the C++ standard library is used. The indices of the triangle edges are saved in pairs, packed in a single uint64_t, the lower index being first. The set is cleared between each object, so the same line could still be drawn twice or more if the same vertices are stored in different meshes. Before saving a line for end-of-the-frame-submit, its indices in the mesh are checked against the set, and discarded if already saved this frame. At the end of each frame all saved lines are checked against the depth buffer of the rendered scene. If a line lies completely behind the depth buffer, it can be safely discarded because it shouldn't be visible."
XBox (Games)

FBI Allegedly Investigating Lizard Squad Member Over Xbox Live, PSN Attacks 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
blottsie writes The FBI is actively investigating a member of the hacker collective that claimed responsibility for recent high-profile cyberattacks on Microsoft and Sony properties, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation and the attacks. A member of the Lizard Squad hacking group, who goes by the alias "ryanc" or Ryan, allegedly garnered the attention of a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation after speaking with the media about Lizard Squad's Christmas-day attacks on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.