Dave Knott writes: XKCD creator Randall Munroe has decided to celebrate the release of his new book, Thing Explainer, by creating a "small game" called Hoverboard. In actuality, it is a gigantic scrolling comic in the same style as his previous Click And Drag. However, this time there is a game element as one navigates the comic. Explore giant starships and volcanoes, or search for hidden lairs, all in the name of finding as many hidden gold coins as possible.
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday marked the launch of AMD's 'Crimson' driver software. It replaces the old Catalyst driver software, and represents a change in how AMD develops bug fixes, improves performance, and adds features. AnandTech took a detailed look at the new driver software. They say, "By focusing feature releases around the end of the year driver, AMD is able to cut down on what parts of the driver they change (and thereby can possibly break) at other times of the year, and try to knock out all of their feature-related bugs at once. At the same time it makes the annual driver release a significant event, as AMD releases a number of new features all at once. However on the other hand this means that AMD has few features launching any other time of the year, which can make it look like they're not heavily invested in feature development at those points." On a more positive note, the article adds, "Looking under the hood there's no single feature that's going to blow every Radeon user away at once, but overall there are a number of neat features here that should be welcomed by various user groups. ... Meanwhile AMD's radical overhaul of their control panel via the new Radeon Settings application will be quickly noticed by everyone."
szczys writes: Everyone loves Tamagochi, the little electronic keychains spawned in the '90s that let you raise digital pets. Some time ago, XKCD made a quip about an internet-based matrix of thousands of these digital entities. That quip is now a reality thanks to elite hardware hacker Jeroen Domburg (aka Sprite_TM). In his recent talk called "The Tamagochi Singularity" at the Hackaday SuperConference he revealed that he had built an infinite network of virtual Tamagochi by implementing the original hardware as a virtual machine. This included developing AI to keep them happy, and developing a protocol to emulate their IR interactions. But he went even further, hacking an original keychain to use wirelessly as a console which can look in on any of the virtual Tamagochi living on his underground network. This full-stack process is unparalleled in just about every facet: complexity, speed of implementation, awesome factor, and will surely spark legions of other Tamagochi Matrices.
An anonymous reader writes: I'm looking at getting the kids a new gaming console for Christmas this year. I'm stuck trying to decide between getting an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4. I'm really wary on the PlayStation because of the 5 PS2s with broken optical drives sitting in my garage; none lasted more than two years. On the other hand, I'm also wary of buying a Microsoft product; I'm a Linux user for life after getting tired of their crappy operating system. I've also considered getting a gaming PC, whether Linux or Windows, but it's more expensive and game reviews show most are not as good as a dedicated game console. The kids want Fallout 4, and I want Star Wars Battlefront and any version of Gran Turismo. We currently have a Nintendo Wii and a crappy gaming PC with some Steam games. So, which gaming console should I get that will last a long time?
An anonymous reader writes: The Digital Foundry blog reports that Sony has added functionality to the PlayStation 4 that allows it to act as an emulator for some PlayStation 2 games. Surprisingly, the company did not mention that this functionality is live; a new Star Wars game bundle just happened to include three titles that were released on the PS2. From the article: "How can we tell? First of all, a system prompt appears telling you that select and start buttons are mapped to the left and right sides of the Dual Shock 4's trackpad. Third party game developers cannot access the system OS in this manner. Secondly, just like the PS2 emulator on PlayStation 3, there's an emulation system in place for handling PS2 memory cards. Thirdly, the classic PlayStation 2 logo appears in all of its poorly upscaled glory when you boot each title." Sony has confirmed the games are being emulated, but declined to provide any further details.
dmleonard618 writes: A new GitHub project is allowing software teams to construct software like Legos. DockerCraft is a Minecraft mod that lets administrators handle and deploy servers within Minecraft. What makes this project really interesting is that it lets you navigate through server stacks in a 3D space. "In today's world, we wanted to focus more on building. Minecraft has emerged as the sandbox game of the decade, so we chose to use that as our visual interface to Docker," Docker wrote in a blog.
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday marked the release of Star Wars Battlefront, EA DICE's attempt to resurrect a Star Wars video game series that had great success a decade ago, but gradually petered out over the course of several years. Early reviews for the game are mixed. Games Radar's video review gives it a lot of credit for being incredibly faithful to the feeling of Star Wars. Polygon's review praises the game's accessibility and its broad variety of PvP options, but acknowledges that it had to trade complexity to get there. Giant Bomb's review is much more blunt: "Slick production values, solid controls, and tons of fan service can't make up for mediocre progression and a lack of content." Many reviews rate the graphics highly, and performance is solid even on consoles. It's worth noting that user ratings on Metacritic come in significantly lower than critics' ratings, with the most common complaint being about the dearth of content.
theodp writes: A year after it paid $2.5 billion to buy Minecraft, Microsoft has announced a partnership with Code.org that makes a Minecraft-themed introduction to programming a signature tutorial of this year's Hour of Code, which hopes to reach 200 million schoolchildren next month in what the Microsoft-funded nonprofit is billing as the largest learning event in history. "A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a press release, which also notes that "Microsoft is gifting Windows Store credit to every educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide." Of the Minecraft tutorial, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi gushed, "Compared to what you would otherwise be doing for school, this is, like, the best thing ever."
An anonymous reader writes: Wizards of the Coast today announced an official partnership with virtual reality firm AltspaceVR to bring the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game to virtual reality. AlspaceVR is a social virtual reality platform which allows groups of users to share a virtual space. "AltspaceVR bridges the gap between Dungeons & Dragons video games and physically sitting around a table with friends," said Nathan Stewart, brand director for Dungeons & Dragons. "You get the same sense of excitement and drama in the AltspaceVR tavern, from laughing at your buddy's funny goblin voice to watching the d20 bounce and finally land on the natural 20 you needed to hit the beholder terrorizing your party." Starting today, AltspaceVR users have access to a virtual tavern space and officially licensed character sheets, figurines, and terrain tiles.
bricko writes with story at Quartz reporting the words of Belgium's home affairs minister Jan Jambon, who says that ISIL operators communicate using their PlayStation 4s; "which allows terrorists to communicate with each other and is difficult for the authorities to monitor. 'PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,' he said. The gaming console also was implicated in ISIL's plans back in June, when an Austrian teen was arrested for downloading bomb plans to his PS4." This seems a strange place to concentrate investigators' energies; terrrorists could be communicating in the chat session on the side of many social media games, too, or by any number of other means; Jambon would do well to read through some of the movie plotlines that Bruce Schneier has gathered.
Andreas(R) writes to note that the Freeciv project today turns 20. The GPL'd project "was founded on November 14 1995, by Peter Joachim Unold, Claus Leth Gregersen and Allan Ove Kjeldbjerg. The three Danish students created this open source strategy game while studying computer science at Aarhus University. Today, 20 years later the founders of the project have been interviewed to find out about the early history of Freeciv."
Not that many games have their own officially designated port numbers, which says something about Freeciv's tenacity.
Not that many games have their own officially designated port numbers, which says something about Freeciv's tenacity.
New submitter NotDrWho writes: As reported by Ars Technica: "With this week's official launch of Valve's Linux-based Steam Machine line (for non-pre-orders), we decided to see if the new OS could stand up to the established Windows standard when running games on the same hardware. Unfortunately for open source gaming supporters, it looks like SteamOS gaming comes with a significant performance hit on a number of benchmarks." They tested with two graphically intensive titles from 2014, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Metro: Last Light Redux. They say, "we got anywhere from 21- to 58-percent fewer frames per second, depending on the graphical settings. On our hardware running Shadow of Mordor at Ultra settings and HD resolution, the OS change alone was the difference between a playable 34.5 fps average on Windows and a stuttering 14.6 fps mess on SteamOS." Even most of Valve's own games took big performance hits when running under SteamOS.
limbicsystem writes: Your online name can reveal a lot about you. Researchers from the University of York and Riot Games have shown that information harvested from the usernames of players who signed up to 'League of Legends' can sometime reveal both their ages and how they behave online. And the short story is that both younger players and players with obnoxious names are more likely to exhibit toxic online behavior.
An anonymous reader writes: Rocket League has proved to be the surprise hit of the year, but a new interview with Dave Hagewood, CEO of developer Psyonix reveals that it almost didn't happen at all. After the failure of PS3 predecessor Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, the team were forced to work on the multiplayer game in between contracts, and when one fell through late last year, it looked like the end for Rocket League. The studio gambled that the concept would take off this time, and it did — now the studio has to fend off offers from movie studios who want to feature their iconic cars in the game. Hagewood also hints that news of the Xbox One version fans have been clamouring for is coming, and soon: "We're looking at all kinds of platforms and there may be some announcements coming up at some point – hopefully before the end of the year."
SlappingOysters writes: What is old is new again as backwards compatibility arrives on the Xbox One as part of a dashboard update. Finder has the full list of 104 launch games for the service, and has analyzed the origins of these titles. The site has determined that of the 104 games, only 28% ever released in boxed form, and of the remaining downloadable Xbox Live games, 36% are remakes of titles from previous generations. The site has also identified 60 games that were on the marketing material for Xbox One backwards compatibility, but were not on the launch line-up.
An anonymous reader writes: No matter what you think about the Android/iOS divide from either a hardware or software perspective, there's simply no getting around the fact that many developers still take an iOS-first approach with respect to app development. With games, where development costs are already sky-high, the dynamic is even more pronounced. For instance, one of the most addictive, successful, and highly rated apps currently available on the App Store is a great snowboarding game called Alto's Adventure. It was originally released this past February for the iPhone and iPad (and now the Apple TV). Still today, nine months after its initial release, an Android version of the app remains non-existent. Now if you're an Android user who happens to enjoy mobile gaming, it's easy to see how this dynamic playing out over and over again can quickly become an endless source of frustration.
RogueyWon writes: Fallout 4, the latest instalment in the long-running video-game series and one of the most hyped titles of the year, was released on 10 November. The game has generally been reviewing well, currently holding a Metacritic score of 89. However, a number of reviewers have noted the very large number of bugs present in all versions of the game and have, in some cases, reflected on the difficulty that these pose for reviewers, despite still awarding positive overall write-ups. Can it be ethical to recommend a product to consumers on the basis of its strengths, despite knowing that it contains serious faults?
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."
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.
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."