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Classic Games (Games)

How One Company Is Bringing Old Video Games Back From the Dead ( 106

harrymcc writes: Night Dive Studios is successfully reviving old video games — not the highest-profile best-sellers of the past, but cult classics such as System Shock 2, The 7th Guest, Strife, and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. It's a job that involves an enormous amount of detective work to track down rights holders as well as the expected technical challenges. Over at Fast Company, Jared Newman tells the story of how the company stumbled upon its thriving business. "Kick didn’t have money on hand to buy the rights, so he scraped together contract work with independent developers and funneled the proceeds into the project. ... Some efforts fall apart even without the involvement of media conglomerates. In early 2014, Kick tried to revive Dark Seed, a point-and-click adventure game that featured artwork by H.R. Giger. But after Giger’s sudden death, demands from the artist’s estate escalated, and the negotiations derailed. ... But for every one of those failures, there’s a case where a developer or publisher is thrilled to have a creation back on store shelves."

Interactive Fiction Competition Enters Its Third Decade ( 30

An anonymous reader writes: Voting is concluding this week for the 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. All the games are available free online, and on November 15th the contest's organizers will announce the game that's received the highest average ratings. "This year's contestants entered 55 original text adventures – a new record," notes one technology blog, which argues that the annual competition provides a link to the history of both gaming and computers. New game-creating tools have "democratized" the field, and the contest may also ultimately lead game creators to explore even more forms of digital media.

Hands-On With the Nintendo PlayStation ( 51

An anonymous reader writes: Several months ago, we got a look at a weird bit of technology: a Nintendo PlayStation prototype made in the late '80s during an unusual partnership between Sony and Nintendo. Despite cries of "hoax" and "fake," the console turns out to be real. Engadget got to try it out, X-ray it, and even open the device up to try repairing the CD drive. They brought in Daniel Cheung, a retro console technician from Restart Workshop, and he said, "I got to see the real deal so I can't discredit it. And there's even an OS. You can't question it. It can't be fake. Going back to the chips we saw earlier on the logic board: NEC used to make gaming consoles, and Sony also participated here. And with Nintendo as part of this team, you just can't discredit this."

Steam Has Brought 1,600 Games To Linux In the Past Three Years ( 110

An anonymous reader writes: Today marks three years since Valve's Steam client went into beta on Linux. In that time over 1,600 games have become natively available for Linux. Going beyond having many new Linux games, Phoronix recaps, "we've seen Valve make significant investments into the open-source graphics stack and other areas of Linux (in part through their sponsorship of Collabora and LunarG). Valve developers are significantly pushing SDL2. We've seen more mainstream interest in Linux gaming, and Valve has been heavily involved in the creation of the Vulkan graphics API. They have given away their entire game collection to the Mesa/Ubuntu/Debian upstream developers, and much more." The three-year anniversary is coincidentally just days before the release of Steam Machines.

Jack McCauley's Next Challenge: the Perfect Head-Tracker For VR ( 25

Tekla Perry writes: He used a webcam and LEDs to do position tracking for the Oculus DK2, but Jack McCauley, co-founder of Oculus and now working independently, says that's the wrong approach. He likes the laser scanning system of the HTC Vive better, but says it's just not fast enough. McCauley thinks he can do better, using a design approach borrowed from picoprojectors. Speaking at this week's MEMS Executive Congress, he said better tracking of head position will solve the problem of VR sickness, not more expensive screen technologies.

Sony PlayStation 4 Hits 500 Games Milestone ( 86

SlappingOysters writes: Finder is reporting that the catalogue of Sony PlayStation 4 games has just passed the 500 mark. The website has been tracking the install sizes of every PS4 game and in doing that, has been able to confirm that the mark had been reached. It's a significant catalogue advantage for the console, with the Xbox One currently offering 349 games, although the arrival of backwards compatibility on November 12 will change that dramatically. The site has also shown that the rate of releases is increasing over time.
Role Playing (Games)

Dungeons & Dragons and the Ethics of Imaginary Violence ( 321

An anonymous reader writes: Are people just naturally inclined to be destructive when there aren't any real consequences? Should we be worried about people who imagine such violence? Writer Clem Bastow spoke to D&D experts, psychologists and others to answer these questions. It turns out that playing out violent fantasies in D&D is not only healthy, but could even teach players how to be a better person. “Rather than playing an extension of who you or I are within the game, I see it more as playing a fantasy character who can do whatever they want, and who doesn’t feel inhibited by social anxiety or fear of punishment or rejection. It’s an exaggerated version of how [the player] would like to be, but can’t. The game is a safe way to be this other person,” says Clinical psychologist and games designer Dr. Owen Spear.

Reverse-Engineering GTA V ( 37

An anonymous reader writes: Software engineer Adrian Courrèges posted on his blog a breakdown of the rendering of a frame in Grand Theft Auto: V. Each rendering pass is explained in detail, with all the techniques and the tricks Rockstar used to make the game run on 8-year-old consoles. It's a fascinating trip through the making of a frame and reminds us of how far GPU computing power has come. Here's a brief snippet from the beginning: "As a first step, the game renders a cubemap of the environment. This cubemap is generated in realtime at each frame, its purpose is to help render realistic reflections later. This part is forward-rendered. How is such cubemap rendered? For those not familiar with the technique, this is just like you would do in the real world when taking a panoramic picture: put the camera on a tripod, imagine you’re standing right in the middle of a big cube and shoot at the 6 faces of the cube, one by one, rotating by 90 degrees each time. This is exactly how the game does: each face is rendered into a 128x128 HDR texture."

How Apple Is Preventing the Apple TV From Becoming a Console Rival ( 129

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's new set top box is on sale now, and has launched with several high profile games in the new tvOS App Store, including Guitar Hero Live and PS4 hit Transistor. However, as one writer points out, the Apple TV is still not an adequate console replacement, and it's not because of the graphics. Instead, several software issues and restrictions issued by Apple itself prevent developers from creating blockbuster exclusives for the platform, including the requirement that all games be playable using the bundled remote, lack of support for four players, and the 200MB initial app download limit. If these remain in place, can the Apple TV become a viable games platform, where the Ouya and PlayStation TV have failed before?

Activision Buys Candy Crush Developer For $5.9B ( 132

ForgedArtificer writes: Activision Blizzard purchased Candy Crush Saga developer King Interactive Entertainment last night for a cool $5.9 billion USD; about 20% above market value. The move likely leaves them owning five of the top grossing franchises in the industry. "Candy Crush is one of the most lucrative games in the world, earning some $1.33 billion in revenue in 2014 alone according to a King financial statement. The studio, which operates Candy Crush and a number of similar games including Bubble Witch and Farm Heroes, grossed $529 million in the second quarter of 2015."

AMD To Retire Catalyst Control Center Drivers, Rolling Out New Crimson Platform ( 113

MojoKid writes: AMD has gone through significant changes as a company over the last few months. Recently, we've seen them enter into a joint venture with Nantong Fujitsu for final assembly and test operations. They've also formed the new Radeon Technologies Group, led by longtime graphics guru Raja Koduri. Today, AMD is announcing another big change, and this one affects a piece of software that you may have running on your systems right now, if there's a Radeon graphics card on board. AMD is ditching Catalyst Control Center in favor of software dubbed Radeon Settings, which is a critical part of what AMD is calling the Radeon Software Crimson Edition. Radeon Software Crimson Edition is completely re-architected and is claimed to offer new features, improvements to stability and responsiveness, and performance improvements as well. The update will include a new Game Manager, video quality presets, social media integration, simplified EF setup, a system notifications tab, and more. It looks as though the first version of the software will be out this month.
Emulation (Games)

Hacking Jules Coaxes Android Wear To Run Nintendo 64 and PSP Emulators ( 37

Espectr0 writes: YouTube user Hacking Jules would like you to see his collection of game emulators running on Android Wear. He manages to play classic 3D Mario and Zelda games running in a Nintendo 64 emulator on the original LG G-Watch, while also running Monster Hunter on the PPSSPP emulator.As the linked article admits, this is a work of passion rather than practicality -- if you actually want to play those games enjoyably, don't trade your console or conventional emulator for a smart watch.

Studio Behind 'Little Big Planet' Confirms Next Title Coming To PlayStation VR ( 12

An anonymous reader writes: As the company's first title, Little Big Planet was a breakout hit for the studio Media Molecule. The franchise saw three major games across the PS3 and PS4, two mobile versions (for PSP and PS Vita), and a number of spinoffs. But now Media Molecule hopes to make lightning strike twice with the forthcoming genre-eluding title, Dreams, which enables players to create and animate inside of the game world using the PlayStation Move. After several months of question dodging following the game's initial announcement, the studio has finally confirmed at Paris Games Week that Dreams will support PlayStation VR.

Harnessing EVE Online For Science ( 49

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists and the developers of space MMORPG EVE Online are working on a project to harness the power of the game's huge playerbase to do useful scientific work. The Human Protein Atlas has 13 million images to map, and there's no way a small team of scientists can manage that task alone. CCP Games, the makers of EVE, will try to encourage contribution by creating a mini-game within EVE to train players and get them to do some cataloging. To start, "Project Discovery will feed about a 250,000 images of microscopic cells and tissue that players will then study to identify basic shapes and structures, categorizing the images in a way that will help scientists deduce a given protein's purpose." The developers are confident that the EVE community, which has already come together to support various charity endeavors, will rally behind this noble cause as well. To get players to participate, the devs reward players with loyalty points that have some sort of positive effect within EVE.

Batman Demands 12GB RAM For Windows 10 ( 309

An anonymous reader writes: Back in June, Warner Brothers removed Batman: Arkham Knight from sale after a lot of graphics and performance issues found on the PC version. Now, after spending five months trying to fix this mess, Rocksteady and Warner Bros re-released the game on Steam with some free Batman titles for those who acquired the launch edition. However, Warner Bros noted there are still a few caveats with Windows 10 users recommended to have 12GB of RAM to avoid paging issues: "For Windows 10 users, we've found that having at least 12GB of system RAM on a PC allows the game to operate without paging and provides a smoother gameplay experience." Some initial tests show no performance gains on the re-released version. Warner Bros claims that it's still working closely with its GPU partners in order to enable SLI/Crossfire for the game.