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Hardware Hacking

Hackers Leak Xbox One SDK Claiming Advancement In Openness and Homebrew 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the open-it-up dept.
MojoKid writes Microsoft, it seems, just can't catch a break. Days after a major hack took its servers offline on Christmas day, and after being lambasted in multiple stories for shipping games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection in nigh-unplayable condition, the company's Xbox One SDK has been leaked to the public by a group calling itself H4LT. H4LT, which apparently objects to being called a hacker group, offered this explanation when asked why it was distributing the SDK. The group claims that "the SDK will basically allow the community to reverse and open doors towards homebrew applications being present on the Xbox One." To be clear, what H4LT has done is a far cry from groups like Lizard Squad. The SDK for any given product is typically available behind some degree of registration, but they don't necessarily cost anything. The SDK is one small component of creating the ecosystem that would be necessary to get homebrew up and running on the platform. Whether or not users will ever pull it off is another question.
Crime

UK Arrest Over Xbox Live and Playstation Network Outages 86

Posted by timothy
from the but-officer-I-was-having-fun dept.
An anonymous reader writes Neowin.net is reporting the arrest of one Vincent Omari, a UK citizen [see also this Daily Mail story from a few days ago mentioning Omari], in the Christmas Day DDoS attacks on Sony's PSN and Microsoft's XBL systems: "In documents sent to Neowin, Vinnie Omari has been accused of 'hacking of the Playstation Network and Xbox Live systems over the Christmas Period'... While this is the first arrest related to the recent service disruptions, it may not be the last... In further conversations with those who are familiar with the investigation and the arrest, Omari believes that the police will not find anything of substance on his computers. His alleged crime is that he helped coordinate the DDOS attack on the service."
Games

Designing the Best Board Game 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-pass-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Twilight Struggle tops BoardGameGeek's ranking of user-rated board games, handily beating classics like Puerto Rico, Settlers of the Catan, and Risk. FiveThirtyEight has an article about the game's design, and how certain design choices can affect enjoyment. Quoting: "Gupta has a few theories about why his game has done so well. For one, it's a two-player game — the Americans vs. the Soviets. Two-player games are attractive for a couple of reasons. First, by definition, half the players win. People like winning, and are likely to replay and rate highly a game they think they have a chance to win. ... The data offers some evidence for Gupta's hypothesis. Games that support three players rate highest, with an average of 6.58. But two-player games are a close second, with an average rating of 6.55. Next closest are five-player games, which average 6.39. ... The shortest games are the lowest rated, on average. But players don't favor length without bounds. Three hours seems to be right around the point of diminishing marginal returns. Another key to the game's success is its mix of luck and skill." What design elements do you particularly enjoy or hate in board games?
Classic Games (Games)

The Making of a 1980s Dungeons & Dragons Module 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the rpg-roots dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Over at Medium, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) has put up a new in-depth article covering the internal process at TSR that created Dungeons & Dragons modules in the 1980s. The adventures created at that time (by the likes of Tracy Hickman, then a staff designer) paved the way for many later computer role-playing games, and this piece shows how TSR work was pitched, storyboarded, proofed, edited and organized. With the positive reception of the new 5th edition of D&D and the attention paid to the fortieth anniversary of the game, the historical record behind modern gaming gets ever more important.
AI

The New (Computer) Chess World Champion 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the champions-who-cannot-wear-belts dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The 7th Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC) has ended, and a new victor has been crowned: Komodo. The article provides some background on how the different competitive chess engines have been developed, and how we can expect Moore's Law to affect computer dominance in other complex games in the future.

"Although it is coming on 18 years since Deep Blue beat Kasparov, humans are still barely fending off computers at shogi, while we retain some breathing room at Go. ... Ten years ago, each doubling of speed was thought to add 50 Elo points to strength. Now the estimate is closer to 30. Under the double-in-2-years version of Moore's Law, using an average of 50 Elo gained per doubling since Kasparov was beaten, one gets 450 Elo over 18 years, which again checks out. To be sure, the gains in computer chess have come from better algorithms, not just speed, and include nonlinear jumps, so Go should not count on a cushion of (25 – 14)*9 = 99 years."
Graphics

Quake On an Oscilloscope 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the rocket-jump-with-an-electromagnet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Pekka Väänänen has posted a fascinating report on how he got Quake running on an oscilloscope (video link). Obviously, the graphic details gets stripped down to basic lines, but even then, you need to cull any useless or unseen geometry to make things run smoothly. He says, "To cull the duplicates a std::unordered_set of the C++ standard library is used. The indices of the triangle edges are saved in pairs, packed in a single uint64_t, the lower index being first. The set is cleared between each object, so the same line could still be drawn twice or more if the same vertices are stored in different meshes. Before saving a line for end-of-the-frame-submit, its indices in the mesh are checked against the set, and discarded if already saved this frame. At the end of each frame all saved lines are checked against the depth buffer of the rendered scene. If a line lies completely behind the depth buffer, it can be safely discarded because it shouldn't be visible."
XBox (Games)

FBI Allegedly Investigating Lizard Squad Member Over Xbox Live, PSN Attacks 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
blottsie writes The FBI is actively investigating a member of the hacker collective that claimed responsibility for recent high-profile cyberattacks on Microsoft and Sony properties, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation and the attacks. A member of the Lizard Squad hacking group, who goes by the alias "ryanc" or Ryan, allegedly garnered the attention of a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation after speaking with the media about Lizard Squad's Christmas-day attacks on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.
Sony

Sony PlayStation Network Back Up Now, Supposedly 75

Posted by timothy
from the nothing's-perfect dept.
jfruh (300774) writes Sony's PlayStation Network, brought down in a Christmas Day hacking attack, now seems to be back online. Of course, Sony also said the same thing on Saturday, but outages and problems lingered. From the article: At around 1 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Sunday, Sony declared its online gaming platform fixed and, as it had done the day before, blamed the problems on a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. ... The company jumped the gun early Saturday when it trumpeted that the PlayStation Network was gradually getting back to normal, announcing the good news at around 4 a.m. via its Ask PlayStation Twitter account and triumphantly changing the PlayStation Network status to “online” in the support website a few hours later.
PlayStation (Games)

Why Lizard Squad Took Down PSN and Xbox Live On Christmas Day 336

Posted by samzenpus
from the ruining-it-for-everybody dept.
DroidJason1 writes Early Christmas morning, hacker group Lizard Squad took credit for taking down PlayStation Network and Xbox Live for hours. This affected those who had received new Xbox One or PS4 consoles, preventing them from playing online. So why did they do it? According to an exclusive interview with Lizard Squad, it had to do with convincing companies to improve their security — the hard way. "Taking down Microsoft and Sony networks shows the companies' inability to protect their consumers and instead shows their true vulnerability. Lizard Squad claims that their actions are simple, take down gaming networks for a short while, and forcing companies to upgrade their security as a result."
Sony

PlayStation Game-Streaming Service Comes To Samsung Smart TVs In 2015 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-in-one dept.
An anonymous reader writes Sony and Samsung are jointly launching the PlayStation Now game streaming service on select Samsung Smart TVs next year. The service will allow users to play PlayStation games without the need of a gaming console. From the article: "...Sony says some 200 PlayStation 3 games will be available to stream, and that the service runs at full functionality, specifically mentioning things like trophies, online multiplayer and cloud-saves for game-progress. Sound familiar? It should because that's how the service works on Bravia TVs and PlayStation game consoles. What's more, all you'll need is one of Sony's DualShock 4 gamepads to control the action."
PlayStation (Games)

Xbox Live and PlayStation Networks Downed By Apparent Attack 160

Posted by timothy
from the no-fun-for-you dept.
mrspoonsi writes Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network [were] down this morning, apparently due to a denial-of-service attack. The notorious hacking group Lizard Squad — which already carried out earlier attacks on Microsoft and Sony — has claimed responsibility on Twitter for these latest outages. While the group's role in all of this remains unconfirmed, it's worth noting that the group threatened last week to take down Xbox Live and PSN, according to Business Insider. And again, Lizard Squad has already proven it can successfully pull off such attacks, not to mention other malicious pranks.

Whatever the cause, the timing is obviously terrible: Plenty of people surely received one of the two consoles as Christmas presents today, while many more gamers would have happily spent the afternoon in front of the TV. In the meantime, both Sony and Microsoft have acknowledged the problem, with Sony issuing a tweet and Microsoft posting a message on its support website: "We're working to address this as quickly as we possibly can," reads its status website. "Thanks for your patience, Xbox members." In an email, a Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment further or say when the company expects to restore service. We've also asked Sony to comment and will update this post if and when it does.
The Xbox Live status page says service remains "limited," and the Playstation Network is listed as offline.
Games

Should Video Games Be In the Olympics? 232

Posted by Soulskill
from the triathlon-should-be-swimming-cycling-and-zerging dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC is running a story about e-sports and competitive video game. It's based on comments from Rob Pardo, formerly of Blizzard Entertainment, who says there's a good argument for having e-sports in the Olympics. He says video games are well positioned to be a spectator sport — an opinion supported by Amazon's purchase of Twitch.tv for almost a billion dollars. The main obstacle, says Pardo, is getting people to accept video games as a legitimate sport. "If you want to define sport as something that takes a lot of physical exertion, then it's hard to argue that videogames should be a sport, but at the same time, when I'm looking at things that are already in the Olympics, I start questioning the definition." The article notes, "Take chess, for instance. Supporters of the game have long called for its inclusion the Games, but the IOC has been reluctant, considering it a 'mind sport' and therefore not welcome in the Games." So, should the Games expand to include "mind sports" and video games?
First Person Shooters (Games)

Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the subtle-yet-obvious dept.
jones_supa writes: It should be safe to conclude that humans can see frame rates greater than 24 fps. The next question is: why do movies at 48 fps look "video-y," and why do movies at 24 fps look "dreamy" and "cinematic." Why are games more realistic at 60 fps than 30 fps? Simon Cooke from Microsoft (Xbox) Advanced Technology Group has an interesting theory to explain this all. Your eyes oscillate a tiny amount, ranging from 70 to 103 Hz (on average 83.68 Hz). So here's the hypothesis: The ocular microtremors wiggle the retina, allowing it to sample at approximately 2x the resolution of the sensors. Showing someone pictures that vary at less than half the rate of the oscillation means we're no longer receiving a signal that changes fast enough to allow the supersampling operation to happen. So we're throwing away a lot of perceived-motion data, and a lot of detail as well. Some of the detail can be restored with temporal antialiasing and simulating real noise, but ideally Cooke suggests going with a high enough frame rate (over 43 fps) and if possible, a high resolution.
Games

Minecraft Creator Notch's $70 Million Mansion Recreated In Minecraft 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the almost-like-the-real-thing dept.
theodp writes In case you've fallen behind on your TMZ reading, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson used his Microsoft money to outbid Beyonce and Jay Z for the most expensive mansion in Beverly Hills. Now, the Minecraft mogul's new $70 million mega-mansion has been recreated inside the game that made him rich.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games? 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-blocks-of-fun dept.
Mr. Jones writes: My 11-year-old son is fascinated by games — game mechanics in particular. He has been playing everything from Magic to WarFrame since he was 5 years old. He seems mostly interested in creating the lore and associated mechanics of the games (i.e. how a game works). If it was only programming I could help him, but I am lost when it comes to helping him learn more formal ways of developing and defining gameplay. I really see a talent for this in him and I want to support it any way I can. Can you suggest any conferences, programs, books, websites, etc. that would help him learn?
The Almighty Buck

To Fight Currency Mismatches, Steam Adding Region Locking to PC Games 160

Posted by timothy
from the arbitrage-is-everywhere dept.
will_die writes Because of recent currency devaluation Steam has now added region locking for games sold in Russia and CIS. Brazil and local area and Indonesia and local area are also being locked. If you purchase a game from one of those regions you cannot gift it to somone outside of the area. So someone from Russia can gift a game to someone to Georgia [Note: This Georgia, rather than this one, that is.] but not to someone in the USA. You want to see the prices in the Russia store and compare them to the Steam Christmas Sale which should be starting in a few hours.
Programming

Godot Engine Reaches 1.0, First Stable Release 54

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-for-godot-two-oh dept.
goruka writes "Godot, the most advanced open source (MIT licensed) game engine, which was open-sourced back in February, has reached 1.0 (stable). It sports an impressive number of features, and it's the only game engine with visual tools (code editor, scripting, debugger, 3D engine, 2D engine, physics, multi-platform deploy, etc) on a scale comparable to commercial offerings. As a plus, the user interface runs natively on Linux. Godot has amassed a healthy user community (through forums, Facebook and IRC) since it went public, and was used to publish commercial games in the Latin American and European markets such as Ultimo Carnaval with publisher Square Enix, and The Mystery Team by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
Classic Games (Games)

Dad Makes His Kid Play Through All Video Game History In Chronological Order 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the blowing-on-the-nostalgia-cartridge dept.
An anonymous reader writes Andy Baio, aka @waxpancake, indy video game enthusiast and founder of the XOXO conference and other cool stuff, conducted a weird/cool experiment on his four-year-old. Andy taught him about gaming by making him play and master all of the old video games and gaming systems in the exact order they were actually released. In other words, this 21st century kid learned gaming the same way the generation that grew up in the 1970s and 1980s experienced them, but in compressed time. From the article: "This approach to widely surveying classic games clearly had an impact on him, and influenced the games that he likes now. Like seemingly every kid his age, he loves Minecraft. No surprises there. But he also loves brutally difficult games that challenge gamers 2–3 times his age, and he’s frighteningly good at them. His favorites usually borrow characteristics from roguelikes: procedurally-generated levels, permanent death, no save points."
AMD

AMD Offers a Performance Boost, Over 20 New Features With Catalyst Omega Drivers 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
MojoKid writes: AMD just dropped its new Catalyst Omega driver package that is the culmination of six months of development work. AMD Catalyst Omega reportedly brings over 20 new features and a wealth of bug fixes to the table, along with performance increases both on AMD Radeon GPUs and integrated AMD APUs. Some of the new functionality includes Virtual Super Resolution, or VSR. VSR is "game- and engine-agnostic" and renders content at up to 4K resolution, then displays it at a resolution that your monitor actually supports. AMD says VSR allows for increased image quality, similar in concept to Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing (SSAA). Another added perk of VSR is the ability to see more content on the screen at once. To take advantage of VSR, you'll need a Radeon R9 295X2, R9 290X, R9 290, or R9 285 discrete graphics card. Both single- and multi-GPU configurations are currently supported. VSR is essentially AMD's answer to NVIDIA's DSR, or Dynamic Super Resolution. In addition, AMD is claiming performance enhancements in a number of top titles with these these new drivers. Reportedly, as little as 6 percent improvement in performance in FIFA Online to as much as a 29 percent increase in Batman: Arkham Origins can be gained when using an AMD 7000-Series APU, for example. On discrete GPUs, an AMD Radeon R9 290X's performance increases ranged from 8 percent in Grid 2 to roughly 16 percent in Bioshock Infinity.
Classic Games (Games)

NetHack: Still One of the Greatest Games Ever Written 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-starcon2 dept.
M-Saunders writes: While everyone obsesses about frame rates and polygon counts, there's one game that hasn't changed visually for decades. NetHack may look incredibly primitive today, but it's still arguably the best game of all time, with an unmatched level of depth, creativity and replayability. Linux Voice looks at this fascinating dungeon romp, explaining what makes it great, how to get started with it, and how to discover some of its secrets.