Education

Microsoft To Release Educational Version of Minecraft (thestack.com) 57

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has announced that it will release an educational version of the Minecraft video game after acquiring the minecraft.edu domain and IP. The classroom version of Minecraft will be offered to schools and educators at a discount, and among other innovations will include the facility to create maps which the students can navigate throughout a lesson while recording their in-game activities. Microsoft has emphasized that it does not intend to change Minecraft into a strictly educational program.
Games

John Romero Creates New Doom Level (gamasutra.com) 104

jones_supa writes: Legendary game developer John Romero took to Twitter to spread the word that he has made a comeback to the world of Doom by designing an all new level. Romero's return to the game that jumpstarted his career in game development is a fun little Friday surprise for developers, especially Doom enthusiasts, some of whom are thanked in the readme file accompanying the level. The new level, E1M8B (ZIP), is described simply as "My Boss level replacement for e1m8...22 years later." E1M8 is, incidentally, the final level of Doom's first episode, Knee-Deep in the Dead.
Chrome

Nvidia GPUs Can Leak Data From Google Chrome's Incognito Mode (softpedia.com) 148

An anonymous reader writes: Nvidia GPUs don't clear out memory that was previously allocated, and neither does Chrome before releasing memory back to the shared memory pool. When a user recently fired up Diablo 3 several hours after closing an Incognito Mode window that contained pornography, the game launched with snapshots of the last "private" browsing session appearing on the screen — revealing his prior activities. He says, "It's a fairly easy bug to fix. A patch to the GPU drivers could ensure that buffers are always erased before giving them to the application. It's what an operating system does with the CPU RAM, and it makes sense to use the same rules with a GPU. Additionally, Google Chrome could erase their GPU resources before quitting."
DRM

Pirates Finding It Harder To Crack New PC Games (engadget.com) 364

schnell writes: Engadget reports that a few recent top-tier video game releases using updated DRM technology have gone uncracked for more than a month and left DRM hackers stymied thus far. The games FIFA 16 and Just Cause 3, using an updated DRM system called Denuvo, have thus far frustrated experienced Chinese crackers' best efforts far longer than the usual 1-2 weeks it takes for most games to be cracked. Although the article is light on technical details about what makes the new DRM system harder to defeat, it does note that "Based on the current pace of encryption tech, 'in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world,' said one forlorn pirate."
Displays

Oculus Rift Pre-orders Begin At $600 (oculus.com) 278

New submitter jerome writes: Pre-orders have just started for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The $600 price tag is higher than most people were expecting — and that doesn't even account for the required upgrade needed to fully enjoy VR apps. "In September of 2014, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey said to expect a $200 to $400 range for the Rift." The device will first begin shipping on March 28th, though the store is already showing an estimate of April for Rifts beyond the initial stock. "The Rift package also doesn't include the relatively powerful Windows PC that will be required to use the device. Oculus recommends a rig with an Nvidia GTX 970 (or equivalent), an Intel i5 processor, and at least 8GB of RAM." In February, they'll start taking pre-orders for a package that does include a full, "Oculus-ready" system for $1500.
Government

Brain Game Maker Lumosity Fined $2 Million For False Advertising (sciencemag.org) 70

sciencehabit writes: Lumos Labs, the company that produces the popular 'brain-training' program Lumosity, yesterday agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for running deceptive advertisements. Lumos had claimed that its online games can help users perform better at work and in school, and stave off cognitive deficits associated with serious diseases such as Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress.

The $2 million settlement will be used to compensate Lumosity consumers who were misled by false advertising, says Michelle Rusk, a spokesperson with the FTC in Washington, D.C. The company will also be required to provide an easy way to cancel auto-renewal billing for the service, which includes online and mobile app subscriptions, with payments ranging from $14.95 monthly to lifetime memberships for $299.95. Before consumers can access the games, a pop-up screen will alert them to the FTC's order and allow them to avoid future billing, Rusk says.

The Almighty Buck

Kid Racks Up $5,900 Bill Playing Jurassic World On Dad's iPad (pcmag.com) 540

theodp writes: For Mohamed Shugaa, the scariest Jurassic World creature is perhaps Apple CEO Tim Cook, not the Indominus Rex. That's because Shugaa discovered his 7-year-old son had managed to rack up a $5,900 bill playing the Jurassic World game on his iPad in six days. "Why would Apple think I would be spending thousands of pounds on buying dinosaurs and upgrading a game," Shugaa told The Metro. "Why didn't they email me to check I knew these payments were being made? I got nothing from them. How much longer would it have gone on for?" Shugaa discovered his son's 65 in-app purchases when a payment he tried to make to a business supplier was declined. His son had upgraded dinosaurs using the game currency 'Dino Bucks' without realizing it was charging his Dad in real money. The good news is that Apple has decided to refund the money, so the kid doesn't have to worry about Apple making him work 8,500 hours for $5,980 to settle the debt. Btw, before you developers get too excited about the possibility of using In-App Purchase to take kids to the cleaners at $6,000-a-pop, remember that Apple call dibs on the first $1,800!
Games

Report: Activision Buys E-Sports League's Assets (esportsobserver.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: Major League Gaming (MLG) is one of the biggest e-sports operations out there. Or it was, until Activision Blizzard purchased most of its assets for $46 million. MLG's CEO has been removed, and nobody's quite sure what will become of the league once Activision is done with it. MLG has been struggling for some time, and it's expected that most of the sale's proceeds will go toward paying off debts. Shareholders are not pleased. Analysis at Forbes notes that "MLG has been most closely tied with Call of Duty for a long while now (though recently Activision partnered with MLG rival ESL for a new COD league), and has a history with Starcraft 2, both Activision Blizzard titles. It could make sense that in order to bolster their eSports division, Activision would assimilate MLG, though parts of this sound more like a liquidation of assets rather than MLG continuing to operate under its own banner, just with a new owner." Others note with skepticism the idea of a game publisher buying an e-sports league, which could lead to concerns about how games from other publishers are treated.
Operating Systems

Hackers Get Linux Running On a PlayStation 4 (engadget.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: Two years after the PlayStation 4 was released, and two weeks after it was jailbroken, a group of hackers has now successfully installed Linux on it. "...it appears that the fail0verflow team utilized a WebKit bug similar to the one recently documented by GitHub user CTurt and then took things up a notch. CTurt's workaround focuses on the PlayStation 4's Webkit browser, which is tricked into freeing processes from the core of the console's operating system by an improvised webpage. The PS4 is powered by Sony's Orbis OS, which is based on a Unix-like software called FreeBSD. With a route into the console's system, fail0verflow then identified weaknesses in the PlayStation 4's GPU. It specifically called out engineers from semiconductor company Marvell, accusing them of 'smoking some real good stuff' when they designed the PlayStation 4's southbridge chip."
Businesses

Oculus To Ship "Lucky's Tale" Game With Rift (oculus.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has announced that a second game, Lucky's Tale, will come bundled with their virtual reality headset. The system will also come with another free virtual reality game: EVE: Valkyrie from CCP Games. An announcement reads: "Today, we're excited to announce that Lucky's Tale, the incredible made-for-VR platformer by Playful, will be included free with every Oculus Rift! Lucky's Tale, an Oculus Studios title, takes you on an adventure of a lifetime with Lucky, the fun-loving fox. The game takes you to a charming new world, with dozens of locales and lush environments."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Rail Gun Controller Lets You Pack the Heat of Your Air Soft Gun In Any FPS Game (hothardware.com) 44

MojoKid writes: The cool thing about playing Duck Hunt on the NES back in the day, was that you got to point a plastic gun at the television and shoot directly at fowl or clay discs. It offered a deeper level of immersion than what would have been possible with a standard controller. Such is the pitch for a new Kickstarter project called Rail Gun. Rail Gun is a series of attachments designed to work with your existing Air Soft gun. The pieces attach to any standard Air Soft gun to give you a "truly realistic and immersive experience for FPS games." There are five units that comprise the Rail Gun. The Main Unit houses the power and sensitivity buttons; the Jog Unit has an analog stick, special action button, and a few other components; the Weapon Unit lets you cycle through weapons, walk, drop items, and so forth; the Trigger Unit features the trigger and buttons for jumping, zooming, reloading, and crouching; and the USB Unit is what plugs into your PC or console. The Rail Gun uses fast rotation technology to track your vision based on where you're pointing your Air Soft gun. It also uses an algorithm to enhance aiming by detecting minor hand trembles, and you can adjust the sensitivity of this to your liking.
Entertainment

The Fan HD Remakes Yet To Be Banned (redbull.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes: While companies like Valve have given their seal of approval to HD fan remakes and re-imaginings of their classic games, many more are all too eager to wield the ban hammer and shut down these homebrew projects with legal threats. Not all, though, as one writer points out in a new article taking a look at the most promising unofficial remakes underway right now. Some companies see these projects as an opportunity — the creator of Shen Mue HD was recently hired by Yu Suzuki to work on Shen Mue 3 — while others choose to ignore them entirely. Surprisingly, one of these appears to be Konami, which despite a controversial 2015, has shown no interest in shutting down Outer Heaven, a remake of the very first Metal Gear game. As the author points out however, given "the fact that Konami shut down a similar project not long ago – one which had the involvement of original Solid Snake voice actor David Hayter – [it] doesn't bode too well for Outer Heaven's long-term prospects...but we're crossing our fingers that it makes it to the finish line."
Graphics

Four Factors That Will Push VR Forward in 2016 (technologyreview.com) 64

At MIT Technology Review, Rachel Metz lists four factors she believes will mean great advancements for virtual reality in the next year. More and better games; wider adoption of specialized cameras for capturing the deep imagery that immersive worlds require; specialized presentation techniques that supplement VR with physical cues like temperature or direction; and availability of better viewing hardware. That better hardware seems poised to take off. According to the article, Facebook-owned Oculus’s first consumer headset, Rift, is slated for release in the first quarter of the year, while the HTC Vive—a headset created by smartphone maker HTC and video-game company Valve—is set to be available to consumers in April. Sony, meanwhile, is building its own headset, called PlayStation VR, which the company says will be released in the first half of the year.
Bug

Steam: No "Unauthorized Actions" On Exposed Accounts 33

The Steam bug that allowed users to see other users' account details may not have been as harmful as it first appeared. Valve said in a statement (reported on Mashable) that while cached data showed usernames, "sensitive details such as credit card numbers are automatically censored on user account pages, which mitigates the potential harm of someone having seen your personal data." From Mashable's report: "Steam is back up and running without any known issues," Valve told Game Informer in a statement. "As a result of a configuration change earlier today, a caching issue allowed some users to randomly see pages generated for other users for a period of less than an hour. This issue has since been resolved. We believe no unauthorized actions were allowed on accounts beyond the viewing of cached page information and no additional action is required by users."
Bug

Steam Bug Shows You Other Users' Account Details (kotaku.com) 92

An anonymous reader writes: The Steam game distribution platform is suffering from a particularly bad bug right now. If you log in and try to look at your account details, you're shown the details of another user's account — seemingly picked at random. This includes email address, last 4 digits of a phone number, whether SteamGuard (their two-factor authentication) is enabled, and the last 2 digits of an associated credit card. If you play a game, Steam will show you as being logged in as somebody else while in that game. Many users are being shown pages in other languages, as they are mistaken for players in different regions. This bug follows an apparent DDoS attack that took the service down for several hours. The bug doesn't seem to allow people to purchase games using a different account. That's good, though that means most, perhaps all players, are unable to buy games on Christmas during Steam's huge Winter Sale.

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