MojoKid writes: One of the great universal truths of modern gaming is that preorder bonuses suck. The term refers to the practice of ordering a title at some point before it actually ships in order to get access to a variety of minor outfit tweaks, a few starting weapons, or boosts to early gameplay. Today, some publishers take this practice to truly ridiculous levels; the recent game Watch Dogs has no fewer than nine pre-order options. GameStop, perhaps sensing that there's pressure building against the model, wants to turn the dial up to 11 — and create preorder-locked, GameStop-specific content. According to financial analyst Colin Sebastian, "[GameStop] indicates that software publishers are more enthusiastic about partnering with it. For example, by offering exclusive content on each major game release and longer term, future models may include GameStop offering exclusive gameplay." GameStop is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. The company has captured a greater share of the Xbox One and PS4 market than it held at this point in the console cycle last time around and it's clearly looking to increase the attractiveness of its own business. That's fine but this kind of arbitrary lopping off of content to boost sales at particular shops simply isn't going to sit well with most gamers.
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An anonymous reader writes Dwarf Fortress, the epic, ASCII text-based, roguelike citybuilding game, just released its biggest update in years. The game is notable for its incredible depth, and the new release only extends it. Here are the release notes — they won't make much sense if you don't play the game, but they'll give you a sense of how massively complex Dwarf Fortress is. It's also worth noting the a team of modders has recently released a new version Stonesense utility, which renders the game in 3-D from an isometric point of view. "[T]he utility relies on DFHack, a community-made library that reads the game's memory and can be parsed, thus allowing for additional utilities to render things while bypassing the initial ASCII output." If you're unfamiliar with the game, here's an illustrated depiction of an amazing story generated by the game.
MojoKid writes: Normally, the question of whether a game runs better on the PC or a console is a no-brainer, at least for PC users. Watch Dogs, however, with its problematic and taxing PC play, challenges that concept. And since the gap between consoles and PCs is typically smallest at the beginning of the console generation, HotHardware decided to take the Xbox One out for a head-to-head comparison against the PC with this long-awaited title. What was found may surprise you. Depending on just how much horsepower your PC has, the Xbox One (and possibly the PS4 though that wasn't compared) might be the better option. There's no question that the PC can look better, even before you factor in the mods that have been released to date, but unless you've spent $300 or more on a fairly recent GPU, you're not going to be able to run the game at sufficiently high detail to benefit from the enhanced image quality and resolution. If you have a Radeon HD 7950 / R9 280 or an NVIDIA card with greater than 4GB of RAM or a GeForce GTX 780 / 780 Ti, you can happily observe Watch Dogs make hash out of the Xbox One — but statistically, only a minority of gamers have this sort of high-end hardware. This comparison should be viewed in light of the recent allegations that the PC version's graphics were deliberately handicapped.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Technology writer Jon Brodkin sat down with a group of indie game developers (as well as a professor at the University of Southern California's game-design program) to talk about why they decided to launch their own small studios rather than stick with comfortable (albeit stressful) jobs at major firms like Disney or Zynga. The answer, as you'd expect, boils down to control. "Working for a bigger company is a good way to gain experience, and learn how games are made," said Graham Smith, one of the co-founders of Toronto-based DrinkBox Studios. "It's also nice to have a steady salary coming in as you learn the ropes. On the flip side, depending on the company, you might not have much control over the game's design, or even be making the types of games that you enjoy playing." But startups come with their own challenges, not the least of which is the prospect of an economic downturn quickly wiping you out, or not making your Kickstarter goal.
motang (1266566) writes Rob Pardo, Blizzard employee of 17 years who has worked on Warcraft and Diablo is leaving the company. "I'm looking forward to new challenges in my career, but I will always cherish the time I spent with you all and the amazing and collaborative teams at Blizzard," Pardo said. "It was both satisfying and humbling, and it made me a better developer and a better person. I look forward to playing Blizzard games as a player for many years to come. Most important, now I have plenty of time to learn how to build a competitive Hearthstone deck."
An anonymous reader writes with news about how Oculus is dealing with the reselling of dev kits in China. Bad news for those of you looking to get your hands on a preorder of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. A representative from Oculus recently confirmed that the company has had to stop selling its headsets in China as a result of an undisclosed amount of reselling. Which is to say, some of those preordering the developer edition of the virtual reality headset in China — not the consumer product, which hasn't been officially released in any capacity just yet — aren't actually looking to develop anything on the headsets. Nor are they even interested in getting a first look at the virtual reality capabilities of the $350 development kit. They're scalping, plain and simple, to take advantage of what appears to be a hefty amount of demand for the device.
coop0030 (263345) writes "Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the classic gaming device, Game Boy, by building your own with 3d printing and DIY electronics. This project uses a Raspberry Pi and TFT touch screen to make an epic DIY Game Girl. The 3d printed enclosure houses all of the components and can be printed in your favorite color. It's controlled with SNES gaming controller components, reusing the printed circuit board, buttons and elastomers. The 3D files can be found on Thingiverse, and a video of the finished product is provided as well."
RockDoctor (15477) writes The Guardian is reporting that a Finnish heat of an international gaming competition is being segregated into male and female branches in accordance to international rules. The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) want "eSports" to be recognised as equivalent to physical sports. And that, it seems, requires that competitors be segregated on grounds of sex. Which may be appropriate for pole vaulters, but not necessarily appropriate for ePole vaulters. This leaves the organisers of national heats of eSports in a rather invidious position of having (in this case) a tournament only open to "Finnish male players." Update: 07/03 14:38 GMT by T : As several readers point out in the comments, this policy has been abruptly reversed.
An anonymous reader writes A grandmother agreed to purchase an old building in Chiba, which is just outside of Tokyo. When her family arrived to check out the contents of the building it was discovered that the first two floors used to be a game center in the 1980s. Whoever ran it left all the cabinets behind when it closed, and it is full of classic and now highly desirable games. In total there are 55 arcade cabinets, most of which are the upright Aero Cities cabinets, but it's the game boards that they contain that's the most exciting discovery. Boards include Donkey Kong, Street Fighter Alpha 2 (working despite the CPS2 lockout chip's tendency to kill old boards), and Metal Slug X.
An anonymous reader writes: Hello Games is a small development studio, only employing 10 people. But they're building a game, No Man's Sky, that's enormous — effectively infinite. Its universe is procedurally generated, from the star systems down to individual species of plant and animal life. The engine running the game is impressively optimized. A planet's characteristics are not computed ahead of time — terrain and lifeforms are randomly generated on the fly as a player explores it. But, of course, that created a problem for the developers — how do they know their procedural generation algorithms don't create ridiculous life forms or geological formations? They solved that by writing AI bot software that explores the universe and captures brief videos, which are then converted to GIF format and posted on a feed the developers can review. The article goes into a bit more detail on how the procedural generation works, and how such a small studio can build such a big game.
An anonymous reader writes A new feature published this week takes a deep-dive look at the history of the cheat code and its various manifestations over the years, from manual 'pokes' on cassettes to pass phrases with their own dedicated menus — as well as their rise from simple debug tool in the early days of bedroom development to a marketing tactic when game magazines dominated in the 1990s, followed by dedicated strategy guides. Today's era of online play has all but done away with them, but the need for a level playing field isn't the only reason for their decline: as one veteran coder points out, why give away cheats for free when you can charge for them as in-app purchases? "Bigger publishers have now realized you can actually sell these things to players as DLC. Want that special gun? Think you can unlock it with a cheat code? Nope! You've got to give us some money first!"
New submitter MdotCpDeltaT writes: Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. It's a move that seems to stretch the definition of sports and athletes. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said, "It's a team sport. There's strategy involved. You have to know your role in the game. Obviously it's not cardiovascular in any way, but it's mental. There are elements that go into it that are just like any other sport."The article says, "Though the gaming scholarships are primarily designed to attract what the school calls an 'underserved male' population, they are open to all, and Melcher said some women have inquired about the program. Even if the awards end up going mostly to males, he added, it should not upset the school's scholarship gender balance, which already has strong participation in women's sports."
An anonymous reader writes: Ben Kuchera at Polygon recommends against buying the upcoming Battlefield Hardline first-person shooter. Not because it's bad — in fact, he doesn't really offer an opinion on how good the game is — but because it's time to stop incentivizing poor behavior from Electronic Arts and its Digital Illusions CE development studio. After EA acquired DICE, Battlefield game launches accelerated, and launch issues with each game were hand-waved away as unpredictable. The studio's principled stand against paid DLC evaporated in order to feed the ever-hungry beast of shareholder value. Kuchera says, "EA continues this because the Battlefield franchise is profitable; we as players have taught them that we'll buy anyway, and continue to support games that don't work at launch." He suggests avoiding pre-orders, and only buying the game if and when it's in a playable (and fun) state. "Every dollar that's spent on Hardline before the game comes out is a vote for things continuing down an anti-consumer path. If the game is a hit before its launch, that sends a message that we're OK with business as usual, and business as usual has become pretty terrible."
An anonymous reader writes So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish. The reason for listing that stuff out, is that I want people to understand that I know what I'm getting myself in to, and I'm not trying to put out a not-so-subtle "help me make a game for free lol" type of post. With all of that said, where is a good place to start (i.e., recommended books) for learning C# for game programming? I am familiar with object oriented programming, so that's a little bit of help. I'm not necessarily looking for the syntax (that part is just memorization), but more for the methodology involved. If anyone also has any suggestions for other books or information that deal with game development, I would love to hear that too. I know enough to understand that I really don't know anything, but have a good foundation to build on.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: Many PC gamers were disappointed that Ubisoft's latest AAA game, Watch_Dogs, did not look as nice as when displayed at E3 in 2012. But this week a modder discovered that code to improve the game's graphics on the PC is still buried within the released game, and can be turned back on without difficulty or performance hits. Ubisoft has yet to answer whether (or why) their PC release was deliberately handicapped. Gaming commentator Total Biscuit has a video explaining the controversy.
samzenpus (5) writes Billy Mitchell owns the Rickey's World Famous Restaurant chain, sells his own line of hot sauces, and was called, "probably the greatest arcade-video-game player of all time". He was the first to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and held many record scores in other arcade games. He is probably most famous for the 2007 documentary,"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". The film follows a challenger on his quest to surpass Billy's high score in Donkey Kong, which Mitchell had set in 1982. Since the film was made, the Kong crown has been held by a number people including twice by Mitchell. Billy has agreed to put down the quarters and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.
It's a small class of video games that still draw interest or inspire an active community 20 years after their first release — even if we're now 40 years into the era of commercial video games. Games like Doom, the several iterations of Civilization, and the Mario Brothers franchise will probably be around and played in some form many decades hence. The X-COM family of games fits, too, having inspired various spiritual successors since its release in 1994. Now, an anonymous reader writes that the open source (GPL) " OpenXcom 1.0 is finally released, after 5224 commits, 1843 days, and 606 resolved issues since v0.9. 20 years of X-COM — XCOM oldschool lovers enjoy!"
Dave Knott (2917251) writes Montreal-based gaming company Amaya Gaming Group Inc. has agreed to purchase privately held Oldford Group, the owner of online poker websites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, for $4.9 billion. The deal marks the end of a remarkable story that began when Isai Scheinberg, an Israeli-Canadian former IBM computer programmer, founded PYR Software in Toronto and started building PokerStars, which eventually became the largest online poker site in the world. But in 2011, federal prosecutors in Manhattan launched a massive crackdown against online poker in the U.S., indicting Scheinbeg, suing PokerStars and shutting down the U.S. operations of the company for operating an illegal gambling business. In 2012, PokerStars struck a $731 million settlement with federal prosecutors that also saw the company acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker. However, reentering the vital U.S. market has proved difficult, and in the end, it started to make sense for the Scheinbergs to sell. The Scheinbergs will not remain with PokerStars in any capacity after the current deal closes. In a statement announcing the deal, Amaya said it believes the "transaction will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which Amaya already holds a footprint, particularly the U.S.A."
An anonymous reader writes: A while back we discussed Code Combat, a multiplayer game that lets players program their way to victory. They recently launched a tournament called Greed, where coders had to write algorithms for competitively collecting coins. 545 programmers participated, submitting over 126,000 lines of code, which resulted in 390 billion statements being executed on a 673-core supercomputer. The winner, going by the name of "Wizard Dude," won 363 matches, tied 14, and lost none! He explains his strategy: "My coin-collecting algorithm uses a novel forces-based mechanism to control movement. Each coin on the map applies an attractive force on collectors (peasants/peons) proportional to its value over distance squared. Allied collectors and the arena edges apply a repulsive force, pushing other collectors away. The sum of these forces produces a vector indicating the direction in which the collector should move this turn. The result is that: 1) collectors naturally move towards clusters of coins that give the greatest overall payoff, 2) collectors spread out evenly to cover territory. Additionally, the value of each coin is scaled depending on its distance from the nearest enemy collector, weighting in favor of coins with an almost even distance. This encourages collectors not to chase lost coins, but to deprive the enemy of contested coins first and leave safer coins for later."