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Games

Blizzard Bans 100,000 Cheaters In Massive "World of Warcraft" Ban Spree 204 204

MojoKid writes: Like many MMORPGs, World of Warcraft can be a grind. To sidestep the time commitment required to continually level up a character, gather resources, improve skills, or whatever else is desired, some gamers turn to bots, software that automates the process. The only problem is, Activision Blizzard isn't so keen on this behavior and has dropped the ban hammer hard on gamers who've been using them. Activision Blizzard didn't specify exactly how many people it booted, saying only that it was a "large number of World of Warcraft accounts." However, a screenshot of a conversation between a player, Game Master, and Activision Blizzard employee suggests that over 100,000 World of Warcraft accounts were identified and booted.
Classic Games (Games)

MAME Changing License To Fully Libre One 56 56

jones_supa writes: The source code of MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) has long been freely available, but it's never been completely libre. Instead, it's been available under a modified BSD license that prohibits, among other things, commercial use of the code. MAME engineer Miodrag Milanovic explains that such a license was put in place to deter "misuse of MAME in illegal ways," but it also kept legitimate commercial entities doing business with the software. Examples of such could be museums that charge entry fees from using MAME in their exhibits, or copyright holders rereleasing vintage games encapsulated inside MAME. Now the project wants to go fully open. Milanovic continues: "Our aim is to help legal license owners in distributing their games based on MAME platform, and to make MAME become a learning tool for developers working on development boards." As of yet, there are no specific details about the new license.
Stats

How MMO Design Has Improved Bar Trivia 22 22

Polygon.com features a look at how (very) different computer game worlds can meet, in the form of game designer Ralph Koster's Kitchen Disasters-style rescue effort to revive a game quite unlike the ones he's famous for designing, like Ultima Online. Bar-trivia provider Buzztime has been putting electronic trivia games into bars for three decades -- and in that time, the number of options available to potential players has jumped. Bar trivia has crept into the domain of things like vinyl-based juke-boxes: not without appeal, but not exactly modern. Koster has tried to apply modern game design paradigms and objectives, and revamped the game: Koster's Jackpot Trivia is now being introduced in a few hundred locations. Buzztime operates in around 4,000 bars and restaurants, but already the new addition has increased game usage by 15 percent. Much of the improvements came from Koster's experiences of making and playing MMOs, and on the MMO's influence on all games. "These days, a lot of the qualities of MMOs are popping up on everything from social media to systems that sit outside and on top of games, like everything around Xbox Live and Steam," he says. The re-vamp means, for Buzztime, better matching of opponents, as part of an overall redesign of incentives and risks: players have also gotten finer-grained control over their plays, by being able to assign weight to their answers: that means they can guess with less penalty when answers are tough, or take advantage of confidence in knowledge about a category in which they're strong.
Graphics

A Look At GTA V PC Performance and Image Quality At 4K 72 72

MojoKid writes: Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series has been wildly successful for many years now, offering some of the edgiest story lines, game play tactics and objectives the gaming industry has ever seen. With psychopathic main characters, you are left in the depraved communities of Los Santos and Blaine County, to walk a path few would dare choose in real life. And it's rather entertaining of course, that you're tasked with leaving a virtual world worse off than you found it, consequences be damned. But what does it take to run GTA V at 4K (3840X2160) resolution? This article takes a look at that, as well as how it scales over multiple NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPUs, along with some screen shots that look at image quality at Ultra HD resolution. It's safe to say one strong, high-end GPU will get the job done, but two in SLI or CrossFire are better of course, if you want to max out all IQ settings.
Graphics

Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted 227 227

An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has selected the baseline hardware requirements for running their Rift virtual reality headset. To no one's surprise, they're fairly steep: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM. It will also require at least two USB 3.0 ports and "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture."

Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock explains: "On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering." He also points out that PC graphics can afford a fluctuating frame rate — it doesn't matter too much if it bounces between 30-60fps. The Rift has no such luxury, however.

The last requirement is more onerous: WIndows 7 SP1 or newer. Binstock says their development for OS X and Linux has been "paused" so they can focus on delivering content for Windows. They have no timeline for going back to the less popular platforms.
Classic Games (Games)

(Hack) and Slash: Doing the LORD's Work 63 63

Emmett Plant (former Slashdot editor as well as video interviewee) writes: Legend of the Red Dragon was written by Seth Robinson in 1989, and it remains one of the most popular games of the DOS BBS era. Chris England has been doing his part to keep the game alive for the past twelve years, adapting an installation that runs on Linux. I was only able to play for two days before I was overcome with curiosity -- I wrote to Chris, politely inquiring as to how it all came together. Read on below for a look into Chris's motivations, the state of the project, and just how deeply nested it can all get, when bringing games from early BBS days into the modern era.
Graphics

The Decline of Pixel Art 175 175

An anonymous reader writes: Blake Reynolds, lead artist for a pair of popular mobile games, has put up a post about the decline of pixel art in games. He decries the current state of "HD fetishism" in the industry, saying that games with great pixel art get needlessly marked down in reviews for their pixelation, while games that have awful — but high-res — art get glowing praise. He walks through a number of examples showing how pixel art can be well done or poorly done, and how it can be extremely complex despite the lower resolution. But now pixel artists are running into not only the expectation of high-definition content, but technological obstacles as well. "Some devices blur Auro [their game]. Some devices stretch it. Some devices letterbox it. No matter how hard I worked to make the art in Auro as good as I could, there's no way a given person should be expected to see past all those roadblocks. Making Auro with higher-resolution art would have made it more resistant to constantly-changing sizes and aspect ratios of various devices." Reynolds says his studio is giving up on pixel art and embracing the new medium, and recommends other artists do the same. "Don't let the medium come between you and your audience. Speak in a language people can understand so that they can actually see what makes your work great without a tax."
Open Source

Open Source C++ ClanLib SDK Refreshed For 2015 47 47

New submitter rombust writes: Will ClanLib turn around the tides and finally challenge SDL? The latest 4.0 release already offers what Unity and the Unreal Engine charges 30% for, but now after 16 years of development, using only hobbyist developers, it will take on the giant of open source game SDKs! Dedication that's rarely found in the Open Source community without commercial backing.
Games

Psychologist: Porn and Video Game Addiction Are Leading To 'Masculinity Crisis' 950 950

HughPickens.com writes: Philip Zimbardo is a prominent psychologist from Stanford, most notable for leading the notorious Stanford prison experiment. He has published new research findings based on the lives of 20,000 young men, and his conclusion is stark: there is a developing "masculinity crisis" caused by addiction to video games and pornography. "Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation — they are alone in their room," says Zimbardo. "It begins to change brain function. It begins to change the reward center of the brain, and produces a kind of excitement and addiction. What I'm saying is — boys' brains are becoming digitally rewired."

As an example, Zimbardo uses this quote from one young man: "When I'm in class, I'll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I'm with a girl, I'll wish I was watching pornography, because I'll never get rejected." Zimbardo doesn't think there's a specific time threshold at which playing video games goes from being acceptable to excessive. He says it varies by individual, and is more based on a "psychological change in mindset." To fight the problem, he suggest families need to track how much time is being spent on video games compared to other activities. "He also called for better sex education in schools — which should focus not only on biology and safety, but also on emotions, physical contact and romantic relationships."
Stats

Poker Pros Win Against AI, But Experts Peg Match As Statistical Draw 65 65

hypnosec writes with some positive news for Skynet watchers, in that humans still have at least a slight lead against the AIs who might one day imprison us in energy-harvesting goo tanks, or at least beating us in Las Vegas. The two-day poker showdown involving four of the world's top (human) players and a Carnegie Mellon University AI program called Claudico saw the professionals win, after several days of heads-up no-limit Texas Hold'em. "Despite the win, the poker players' $732,713 collective lead over Claudico wasn't quite large enough to attain statistical significance, experts have said. This means that the results can't be accepted as scientifically reliable thereby indicating that the "Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence" competition effectively ended in a statistical tie." On the other hand, the computers sure got over what looked like a rout by the humans.
Windows

What Might Have Happened To Windows Media Center 198 198

Phopojijo writes: Microsoft has officially dropped Windows Media Center but, for a time, it looked like Microsoft was designing both Windows and the Xbox around it. That changed when Vista imploded and the new leadership took Windows in a different direction. Meanwhile, Valve Software and others appear to be tiptoeing into the space that Microsoft sprinted away from.
Businesses

Counter-Strike Finally Gets the League It Deserves 113 113

An anonymous reader writes: Counter-Strike is the oldest eSport in the world today, with its roots stretching back to the dawn of the millennium. But unlike rival games like League of Legends or StarCraft 2, its pro scene has been mostly reliant on sporadic tournaments instead of a regularised league. That's changed with the announcement of the ESL ESEA Pro League, the first Counter-Strike Global Offensive league with a seven-figure prize pot. As one writer points out, this is a huge boost for the pro scene even without developer Valve's involvement: everything from paid travel expenses to regular viewing schedules will help the scene, and let the top players play even better than before: "it has taken over 15 years to happen, but now Counter-Strike has a tournament that can potentially elevate it to become one of the biggest eSports in the world."
Displays

Oculus Rift Launching In Q1 2016 84 84

An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has announced that their Rift virtual reality headset will be coming out sometime in the first quarter of 2016. They've also posted a couple images of the final consumer headset design. The device was Kickstarted in August, 2012. Consumer-level release dates have slowly slipped further and further out since then, though they've shipped two different development kits. Ars points out that a 2016 launch date will bring the Oculus Rift to market after the Valve/HTC VR headset, and possibly after Sony's Project Morpheus.
Classic Games (Games)

GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform 104 104

New submitter Donaithnen writes: Like many geeks, I'm against the idea of DRM in general and have championed GOG.com's DRM-free approach to selling games online. Yet like many geeks, I've also often succumbed to the temptation of Steam because of the convenience of tracking, installing, and playing my PC game purchases through the launcher (not to mention the compulsion of collecting achievements, and watching the total playtime for my favorite games (to my occasional dismay). Now, GOG has announced the open beta for GOG Galaxy, an entirely optional launcher to allow those who want (and only those who want) to have all the same features when playing GOG games.
Twitter

Twitter Stops Users From Playing DOS Games Inside Tweets 54 54

jones_supa writes: Twitter has killed off an interesting trend of playing DOS games in tweets. Last week, users discovered they could use the new "Twitter Cards" embedding feature to bundle full DOS games within tweets. Running DOSBox inside the web browser is possible thanks to an Emscripten port of DOSBox called Em-DOSBox. The games were pulled from Internet Archive's collection of 2,600 classic titles, many of which still lack proper republishing agreements with the copyright holder. So, is embedding games within Twitter Cards, against the social network's terms of service? Either way, Twitter has now blocked such activity, likely after seeing the various news reports and a stream of Street Fighter II, Wolfenstein 3D and Zool cheering up people's timelines.
Programming

Singapore's Prime Minister Shares His C++ Sudoku Solver Code 230 230

itwbennett writes: Several weeks ago, during a speech at the Founders Forum Smart Nation Singapore Reception, Singapore's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he used to enjoy programming, and that the last program he wrote was a Sudoku solver in C++. To back that up, earlier today he announced (on Facebook and Twitter) that his code is available to download. He wrote on Facebook that he wrote the program 'several years ago' and that the code does 'a backtrack search, choosing the next cell to guess which minimises the fanout.'
Programming

Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines? 125 125

Nerval's Lobster writes: Game developers no longer have to pay for the software they need to make great video games, because the tools used by some of the biggest and most successful studios in the world are available to everyone, for free. Among the existing major engines, there is one holdout that does not offer a free version: Crytek continues to charge everyone for CryEngine, and is intent on continuing to do so. That's not to say Crytek is being unreasonable. The company introduced a $10-per-month subscription last year, making it accessible to indie developers who can't afford the higher-priced package that includes full source code. "With CryEngine, Crytek is going to the high-end," Crytek co-founder Faruk Yerli recently told Develop, a news site for developers. Unity3D is going for the low-end while Unreal is aiming for everything from low- to high-end, he added. But according to some developers queried by Dice, there is little reality to the idea that the big three engines are divided between low, mid-end, and high-end capabilities. If you're a developer, is it still worth paying for a game engine?
Graphics

Square Enix Witch Chapter Real-Time CG DX12 Demo Impresses At Microsoft BUILD 87 87

MojoKid writes: Computer generated graphics have come a long way in the past several years and are starting to blur the line between animation and real actors. One of the more difficult tasks for CG artists is to recreate human emotions, especially crying, though you wouldn't know it after watching a tech demo that Square Enix showed off at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference. The real-time tech demo is called Witch Chapter 0 [cry] and is part of a research project that studies various next generation technologies. For this particular demo, Square Enix put a lot of research into real-time CG technology utilizing DirectX 12 in collaboration with Microsoft and NVIDIA, the company said. It's an ongoing project that will help form Square Enix's Luminous Studio engine for future games. The short demo shows some pretty impressive graphics, with an amazing level of detail. As the camera zooms in, you can clearly see imperfections in the skin, along with glistening effects from areas where the face is wet with either tears or water
Games

Game:ref's Hardware Solution To Cheating In eSports 65 65

An anonymous reader writes: Cheating is a real problem in today's most popular online multiplayer games, and not just on public servers. Some of the world's top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players have been banned by Valve's Anti-Cheat System (VACS) in recent months too, bringing a nascent eSport into disrepute. But one gamer is taking a different approach, creating a hardware solution called Game:ref to tackle the problem. Simple in design — Game:ref, which the creator hopes to fund on Kickstarter soon, compares on screen movement with your inputs — but powerful in potential, the device has the potential to catch out illegal macro users both on and offline. It's already attracting interest in the top flight too.

"I've had some people from [eSports teams] Complexity, SK Gaming, and a few high-profile streamers reach out. I would say everyone seems onboard with making online PC gaming a more enjoyable experience," says inventor David Titarenco, a former Counter-Strike pro himself. "After all, most cheating on consoles has been eradicated, why should PC be so far behind?"
Transportation

World-First Remote Air Traffic Control System Lands In Sweden 36 36

Zothecula writes: Small airports are often in a no-win situation. They don't have much traffic because they don't have an adequate tower system, and they don't have an adequate tower system because they don't have much traffic. That could be about to change, with the opening of the world's first remotely operated air-traffic control system in Sweden. Thanks to the Remote Tower Services (RTS) system, the first plane landed last week at Örnsköldsvik Airport, but it was controlled from the LFV Remote Tower Centre 123 km (76 mi) away in Sundsvall.