An anonymous reader writes "A new history of splitscreen multiplayer looks at how the phenomenon went from arcade necessity to console selling point, and eventually evolved into today's online multiplayer networks like Xbox Live. The article digs up some surprising anecdotes along the way — like the fact that the seminal Goldeneye N64 deathmatch mode was very much an afterthought, given to a trainee who needed something to do. It's also interesting to think about where it's going in the future, with 4k displays on the horizon and handheld screens making inroads to living room gaming. 'I think you’ll see innovations this year that let people use their TV and mobile device in very interesting ways,' says Wipeout creator Nick Burcombe. 'It doesn't even need to be complex to recapture that social aspect – it just needs to involve more than one person in the same room. ‘Second Screen’ gaming could be multiplayer-based for sure, but it can also be used for new gameplay mechanics in single player too.'"
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
crookedvulture writes "Microsoft formally introduced its DirectX 12 API at the Game Developers Conference yesterday. This next-gen programming interface will extend across multiple platforms, from PCs to consoles to mobile devices. Like AMD's Mantle API, it promises reduced CPU overhead and lower-level access to graphics hardware. But DirectX 12 won't be limited to one vendor's hardware. Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm have all pledged to support the API, which will apparently work on a lot of existing systems. Intel's Haswell CPUs are compatible with DirectX 12, as are multiple generations of existing AMD and Nvidia GPUs. A DirectX 12 update is also coming to the Xbox One. The first games to support the API won't arrive until the holiday season of 2015, though. A preview release is scheduled for this year." Reader edxwelch adds that OpenGL 4.4 already has functionality similar to the improvements brought by DirectX 12 and Mantle: "The announcement of DirectX 12 was a big focus of attention at GDC yesterday. The new API will bring Mantle-like low level access to the hardware, reducing the CPU overhead. The OpenGL talk 'Approaching Zero Driver Overhead in OpenGL,' on the other hand, received considerably less media attention. The OpenGL camp maintains that the features to reduce CPU overhead are already present in the current version. They suggest using the extensions such as, multidraw indirect combined with bindless graphics and sparse textures, OpenGL can get the similar 'close to the metal' performance as Mantle and DirectX 12."
jones_supa writes "Today Epic launched Unreal Engine 4 for game developers. Supported platforms are Windows, OS X, iOS and Android, with desktop Linux coming later. The monetization scheme is unique: anyone can get access to literally everything for a $19/month fee. Epic wants to build a business model that succeeds when UE4 developers succeed. Therefore, part of the deal is that anyone can ship a commercial product with UE4 by paying 5% of their gross revenue resulting from sales to users. This gets them the Unreal Editor in ready-to-run form, and the engine's complete C++ source code hosted on GitHub for collaborative development."
SternisheFan sends this news from CTV: "The Cubestormer 3 took 18 months to build but only needed 3.253 seconds to solve [a Rubik's cube], breaking the existing record. Unveiled at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, U.K., the Cubestormer 3 is constructed from the modular children's building-block toy but uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with a special ARM chip addition as its brain. It analyzes the muddled-up Rubik's Cube and powers each of the robot's four 'hands,' which spin the cube until all sides are in order. Created by ARM engineer David Gilday and Securi-Plex security systems engineer Mike Dobson, Cubestormer 3's new record shaves just over two seconds off the existing record, set by Cubestormer 2, which the pair also built."
An anonymous reader writes "Sony has announced 'Project Morpheus,' their project to develop a virtual reality headset for use with the PlayStation 4. 'Using a combination of Sony's own hardware, combining personal video viewers with PlayStation Move controllers, PlayStation engineers experimented with multiple prototypes.' They've been working on it for over three years — here's a picture of the current incarnation. The headset will use 3D audio tech that changes as players move their heads. One of their big goals is to make it extremely simple to use. They intend the display to be 1080p with a 90-degree field of view."
jones_supa writes "More great news for Linux gamers: following the footsteps of Steam, GOG.com is preparing delivery of Linux games. They expect to start doing so this autumn. The officially supported distributions will be Ubuntu and Mint. Right now, they are performing testing on various configurations, training up their teams on Linux-speak, and generally preparing for the rollout of at least 100 titles — DRM-free, as usual. This will update some of the catalog's existing games with a Linux port and bring new ones to the collection. Further information on specific games is yet not known, but GOG invites fans and customers to their community wishlist for discussion."
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, Respawn Entertainment launched Titanfall, a futuristic first-person shooter with mechs that has been held up as the poster child for the Xbox One. The Digital Foundry blog took the opportunity to compare how the game plays on the Xbox One to its performance on a well-appointed PC. Naturally, the PC version outperforms, but the compromises are bigger than you'd expect for a newly-released console. For example, it runs at an odd resolution (1408x792), the frame rate 'clearly isn't anywhere near locked' to 60fps, and there's some unavoidable screen tear. Reviews for the game are generally positive — RPS says most of the individual systems in Titanfall are fun, but the forced multiplayer interaction is offputting. Giant Bomb puts it more succinctly: 'Titanfall is a very specific game built for a specific type of person.' Side note: the game has a 48GB install footprint on PCs, owing largely to 35GB of uncompressed audio."
An anonymous reader writes "Last year Valve announced a new game controller that was trying to innovate on the designs that have been with us for over a decade now. The biggest changes were replacing analog sticks with circular touchpads and plopping a small touchscreen into the middle of the controller. Valve has now revamped their prototype hardware, and the touchscreen is nowhere to be seen. In its place are stop/play buttons (which appear similar to start/select buttons) and a bigger Steam logo button. They've also moved around the directional and ABXY buttons, reverting to a more traditional layout (picture). They'll be demonstrating the latest prototype next week at GDC."
An anonymous reader writes "Carbine Studios, a game company founded by former Blizzard developers, has been working on a new sci-fi MMORPG called Wildstar. The game has now gotten a release date: June 3rd. Rock, Paper, Shotgun's preview described the game thus: 'it's trying to out-MMO every other MMO. Not with big talk of moving narratives or ever-changing worlds, but by ramping up the unreal theme pack nature of its peers and predecessors. This is a game where you're constantly presented with a legion of things to do, numbers to increase, boxes to tick, things to collect, factions to impress, points to earn, monsters air-dropped in to battle without warning and/or preferably all of the above simultaneously. It might even be too much, too overwhelming in its parade of sideshows.'"
probain was the first to submit news that Crytek has officially announced the port of their CRYENGINE game engine to Linux and will be demoing it at the Game Developers Conference next week. Quoting: "During presentations and hands-on demos at Crytek's GDC booth, attendees can see for the first time ever full native Linux support in the new CRYENGINE. The CRYENGINE all-in-one game engine is also updated with the innovative features used to recreate the stunning Roman Empire seen in Ryse – including the brand new Physically Based Shading render pipeline, which uses real-world physics simulation to create amazingly realistic lighting and materials in CRYENGINE games."
jones_supa writes "A bit surprisingly, Valve Software has uploaded their Direct3D to OpenGL translation layer onto GitHub as open source. It is provided as-is and with no support, under the MIT license allowing you to do pretty much anything with it. Taken directly from the DOTA2 source tree, the translation layer supports limited subset of D3D 9.0c, bytecode-level HLSL to GLSL translator, and some SM3 support. It will require some tinkering to get it to compile, and there is some hardcoded Source-specific stuff included. The project might bring some value to developers who are planning to port their product from Windows to Linux."
jones_supa writes "Valve has recently released Portal 2 on Steam for Linux and opened a GitHub entry to gather all the bugs from the community. When one of the Valve developers closed a bug related to Portal 2 recommending that the users disable a security feature, the Linux community reacted. A crash is caused by the game's interaction with SELinux, the Linux kernel subsystem that deals with access control security policies. Portal 2 uses the third-party Miles Sound System MP3 decoder which, in turn, uses execheap, a feature that is normally disabled by SELinux. Like its name suggests, execheap allows a program to map a part of the memory so that it is both writable and executable. This could be a problem if someone chose to use that particular memory section for buffer overflow attacks; that would eventually permit the hacker to gain access to the system by running code. In the end, Valve developer David W. took responsibility of the problem: 'I apologize for the mis-communication: Some underlying infrastructure our games rely on is incompatible with SELinux. We are hoping to correct this. Of course closing this bug isn't appropriate and I am re-opening it.' This is more of an upstream problem for Valve. It's not something that they can fix directly, and most likely they will have to talk with the Miles developers and try to repair the problem from that direction."
An anonymous reader writes "An upcoming VR game for the Oculus Rift aims to let players 'be a Hollywood Hacker.' Listing inspirations from 'Johnny Mnemonic, Hackers, The Lawnmower Man, and the TRON films,' Polygon claims that the game 'does an amazing job at exploring those hacking tropes and often silly visuals to give the player a sense of control and power. This is "real life" hacking as filtered through a Michael Bay fever dream.'"
MojoKid writes "Buzz has been building for the last week that Microsoft would soon unveil the next version of DirectX at the upcoming Games Developer Conference (GDC). Microsoft has now confirmed that its discussion forums at the show won't just be to discuss updates to DX11, but that the company is putting a full court press behind DirectX 12. The company responded sharply over a year ago, when an AMD executive claimed that future versions of the API were essentially dead, but it has been over four years since DX11 debuted. To date, Microsoft has only revealed a few details of the next-generation API. Like AMD's Mantle, it will focus on giving developers "close-to-metal" GPU resource access and reducing CPU overhead. Like Mantle, the goal of DirectX 12 is to give programmers more control over performance tuning, with an eye towards better multi-threading and multi-GPU scaling. Unlike Mantle, DirectX 12 will undoubtedly support a full range of GPUs from AMD, Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm. Qualcomm's presence is interesting. With Windows RT all but moribund, Qualcomm's interest in that market may have seemed incidental. However, the fact that the company is involved with the DX12 standard could mean that the handset and tablet developer is serious about the Windows market in the long term."
An anonymous reader writes "In a Q&A session on Reddit last night with Valve's Gabe Newell, the founder confirmed that the company is in the process of getting the highly anticipated Source 2 game engine 'working well with VR.' Valve's Alex Vlachos, Senior Graphics Programmer, is apparently leading the charge. Still no word on when the engine may ship. Valve, who is openly collaborating with Oculus VR, demonstrated a VR headset prototype in January at Steam Dev Days. The company also launched a beta version of SteamVR which offers Steam's 'Big Picture' mode in a format compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset. A developer who got to experiment with Valve's VR prototype says it's very impressive, even more so than the original Oculus VR dev kit."
An anonymous reader writes "Last week Valve made an interesting but seemingly innocuous announcement: they're giving game developers control of their own pricing on Steam. Nicholas Lovell now claims that this has effectively kicked off a race to zero for PC game pricing. He says what's starting to happen now will mirror what's happened to mobile gaming over the past several years. Quoting: 'Free is the dominant price point on mobile platforms. Why? Because the two main players don't care much about making money from the sale of software, or even In-App Purchases. The AppStore is less than 1% of Apple's revenue. Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world on the strength of making high-margin, well-designed, highly-desirable hardware. ... Google didn't create Android to sell software. It built Android to create an economic moat. ... In the case of both iOS and Android, keeping prices high for software would have been in direct opposition to the core businesses of Apple (hardware) and Google (search-related advertising). The only reason that ebooks are not yet free is that Amazon's core business is retail, not hardware. ... Which brings me to Steam. The Steambox is a competitor to consoles, created by Valve. It is supposed to provide an out-of-the-box PC gaming experience, although it struggles to compete on either price or on marketing with the consoles. It doesn't seem as if Steam is keen to subsidize the costs of the box, not to the level that Microsoft and Sony are. But what if Steam's [unique selling point] was thousands or tens of thousands of games for free?'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Principal Graphics Programmer for BioShock Infinite has put up a post about how the game's lighting was developed. We don't usually get this kind of look into the creation of AAA game releases, but the studio shut down recently, so ex-employees are more willing to explain. The game uses a hybrid lighting system: direct lighting is dynamic, indirect uses lightmaps, shadows are a mix. 'Dynamic lighting was handled primarily with a deferred lighting/light-pre pass renderer. This met our goals of high contrast/high saturation — direct lighting baked into lightmaps tends to be flat, mostly because the specular approximations available were fairly limited.' It's interesting how much detail goes into something you don't really think about when you're playing through the game. 'We came up with a system that supported baked shadows but put a fixed upper bound on the storage required for baked shadows. The key observation was that if two lights do not overlap in 3D space, they will never overlap in texture space. We made a graph of lights and their overlaps. Lights were the vertices in the graph and the edges were present if two lights' falloff shapes overlapped in 3D space. We could then use this graph to do a vertex coloring to assign one of four shadow channels (R,G,B,A) to each light. Overlapping lights would be placed in different channels, but lights which did not overlap could reuse the same channel. This allowed us to pack a theoretically infinite number of lights in a single baked shadow texture as long as the graph was 4-colorable.'"
curtwoodward writes "Long before Steve Jobs kicked off the modern mobile gaming revolution with the iPhone, a Harvard astrophysicist got kids obsessed with chasing electronic lights and sounds with their fingers. Bob Doyle was the inventor behind Merlin, and built the early versions with his wife and brother-in-law. As the more sophisticated cousin of raw memory game Simon, Merlin offered games like blackjack, tic-tac-toe, and even an early music program. Doyle, now 77, got 5 percent royalties on each sale, money that paid for the rest of his projects over the years." Using those royalties, Bob Doyle spends his time writing things online.
cagraham writes "According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), over 85% of daily tasks will include game elements by 2020. The organization, whose motto is 'Advancing Technology for Humanity,' looked at the growth of games in fields such as healthcare, education, and enterprise when preparing their report. Member Tom Coughlin summarized the findings, saying that 'by 2020, however many points you have at work will help determine the kind of raise you get or which office you sit in.'"