Australia

2K, Australia's Last AAA Studio, Closes Its Doors 170

Posted by timothy
from the even-with-all-that-regulation dept.
beaverdownunder writes 2K Australia, the Canberra studio that most recently developed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is closing its doors. The entire studio is closing, and all staff members will lose their jobs. "All hands are gone," said a source for Kotaku Australia. 2K Canberra was the last major AAA-style studio operating out of Australia. The costs of operating in Australia are apparently to blame for the decision. This raises questions as to the viability of developing major video games in Australia.
Movies

Jack Thompson Will Be Featured In BBC Film 'Grand Theft Auto' 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-legacy-buddy dept.
New submitter requerdanos writes: Former attorney and professional troll Jack Thompson is set to become a major motion picture figure, played by Bill Paxton, in the upcoming film Grand Theft Auto. According to Cinema Blend, "Paxton is in line to play Jack Thompson. A Miami lawyer, Thompson came into the public eye by frequently blasting Grand Theft Auto, creator Rockstar Games, and video game violence in general. Before that, he was known for attacking media companies who promoted both hip hop and sex. In 2008, allegations of professional misconduct, including harassment, defamation, intimidation, and false statements led to Thompson being disbarred."
Businesses

How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-actually-about-duke-nukem-forever dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there's an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game's development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What's the lesson in all this? It's one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.
Games

A Data-Driven Exploration of the Evolution of Chess 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-the-horse-do-again? dept.
HughPickens.com writes Randy Olsen has a interesting article where he explores a data set of over 650,000 chess tournament games ranging back to the 15th century and looks at how chess has changed over time. His findings include:

Chess games are getting longer. Chess games have been getting steadily longer since 1970, increasing from 75 ply (37 moves) per game in 1970 to a whopping 85 ply (42 moves) per game in 2014. "This trend could possibly be telling us that defensive play is becoming more common in chess nowaday," writes Olsen. "Even the world's current best chess player, Magnus Carlsen, was forced to adopt a more defensive play style (instead of his traditional aggressive style) to compete with the world's elite."

The first-move advantage has always existed. White consistently wins 56% and Black only 44% of the games every year between 1850 and 2014 and the first-move advantage becomes more pronounced the more skilled the chess players are. "Despite 150+ years of revolutions and refinement of chess, the first-move advantage has effectively remained untouched. The only way around it is to make sure that competitors play an even number of games as White and Black."

Draws are much more common nowadays. Only 1 in 10 games ended in a draw in 1850, whereas 1 in 3 games ended in a draw in 2013. "Since the early 20th century, chess experts have feared that the over-analysis of chess will lead "draw death," where experts will become so skilled at chess that it will be impossible to decisively win a game any more." Interestingly chess prodigy and world champion Jose Raul Capablanca said in the 1920's that he believed chess would be exhausted in the near future and that games between masters would always end in draws. Capablanca proposed a more complex variant of chess to help prevent "draw death," but it never really seemed to catch on.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

ESA Rebukes EFF's Request To Exempt Abandoned Games From Some DMCA Rules 153

Posted by timothy
from the locked-up-forever-in-their-castle dept.
eldavojohn writes It's 2015 and the EFF is still submitting requests to alter or exempt certain applications of the draconian DMCA. One such request concerns abandoned games that utilized or required online servers for matchmaking or play (PDF warning) and the attempts taken to archive those games. A given example is Madden '09, which had its servers shut down a mere one and a half years after release. Another is Gamespy and the EA & Nintendo titles that were not migrated to other servers. I'm sure everyone can come up with a once cherished game that required online play that is now abandoned and lost to the ages. While the EFF is asking for exemptions for museums and archivists, the ESA appears to take the stance that it's hacking and all hacking is bad. In prior comments (PDF warning), the ESA has called reverse engineering a proprietary game protocol "a classic wolf in sheep's clothing" as if allowing this evil hacking will loose Sodom & Gomorrah upon the industry. Fellow gamers, these years now that feel like the golden age of online gaming will be the dark ages of games as historians of the future try to recreate what online play was like now for many titles.
Piracy

Ask Slashdot: How Serious Is Hacking In Mobile Games? 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-the-high-score dept.
Origen writes: As a developer contemplating trying out the mobile game scene, a GDC session about hacking/tampering looked interesting — but I wasn't able to attend. The presentation isn't available online, but it was paired with a whitepaper [contact details required], which can be downloaded. I'm surprised by some of the information presented and the potential for damage/mischief. Not so much that these issues are unheard of — they've existed for years on other platforms. What I find surprising is the lack of support at the OS level on mobile devices to defend from many of these types of hacks. Have we learned nothing from the pains of the past? How significant are the points about hacking/piracy in the mobile space that are discussed by this whitepaper?
Crime

Watching a "Swatting" Slowly Unfold 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-gory-detail dept.
netbuzz writes That online gamers have been victimized has unfortunately allowed us to see what "swatting" looks like from the perspective of the target: terrifying and potentially deadly. A similar type of criminally unnecessary SWAT scene played out Saturday night when a caller to police in Hopkinton, Mass., claimed to be holed up in the town's closed public library with two hostages and a bomb. The library stands within eyesight of the starting line for the Boston Marathon. An editor for Network World, there by happenstance, watched for two hours, and, while it was a hoax and no one was hurt, his account highlights the disruption and wastefulness these crimes inflict.
Input Devices

Kinect For Windows Is Dead; Long Live Kinect For Windows Via USB 45

Posted by timothy
from the sir-this-teapot-may-not-be-able-to-weather-the-tempest dept.
puddingebola writes Microsoft has announced it will no longer manufacture Kinect for Windows. Only the Xbox One version will be available for purchase. Microsoft said it could not meet demand for the device, a strange claim for a company to make. The console version, though, will still work with Windows by way of a USB adapter, and as pointed out by this similar story at Gamespot, for about the same total price.
Java

BioWare Announces Open-Source Orbit Project 61

Posted by timothy
from the just-add-stuff dept.
An anonymous reader writes BioWare, part of EA Games, have announced Orbit, their first open-source project. Orbit is a Java based framework for building distributed online services including a virtual actors system (based on Microsoft's Orleans project) and a lightweight inversion of control container. The announcement says, in part, Beginning today, we will be making Orbit open source on GitHub under a BSD license. We have been leveraging open source technology internally for quite some time, and we think the time is now right for us to give back and engage with the community in a more meaningful way. The last-generation of Orbit powered some of the key technology behind the Dragon Age Keep and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Our plans for the next-generation framework are even more ambitious.
Graphics

Valve Bootstrapped Source 2 Engine On an Open-Source Vulkan Driver 60

Posted by timothy
from the live-quicker-prosper-more dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new article out details how Valve bootstrapped their VULKAN back-end with the Source 2 Engine over a period of just four months thanks to relying on an open-source driver. With designing for the open-source Intel Vulkan Linux driver developed by LunarG, Valve developers were quickly able to resolve issues and progress the driver in a turn-key manner. This Intel Linux driver will be released as open-source once the Khronos VULKAN specification has been published.
Emulation (Games)

Building an NES Emulator 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the thank-you-mario,-but-that-register-is-in-another-castle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Programmer Michael Fogleman recently built his own emulator for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. He's now put up a post sharing many technical insights he learned along the way. For example: "The NES used the MOS 6502 (at 1.79 MHz) as its CPU. The 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor that was designed in 1975. ... The 6502 had no multiply or divide instructions. And, of course, no floating point. There was a BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) mode but this was disabled in the NES version of the chip—possibly due to patent concerns. The 6502 had a 256-byte stack with no overflow detection. The 6502 had 151 opcodes (of a possible 256). The remaining 105 values are illegal / undocumented opcodes. Many of them crash the processor. But some of them perform possibly useful results by coincidence. As such, many of these have been given names based on what they do." It's an interesting look at how software and hardware interacted back then, and what it takes to emulate that in modern times. Fogleman released the source code on GitHub.
Nintendo

Mario 64 Remake Receives a DMCA Complaint From Nintendo 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-fun-allowed dept.
jones_supa writes: Well, we saw this one coming. Just a couple of days after computer science student Erik Roystan Ross released a free recreation of the first level of Nintendo's 1996 Super Mario 64, Nintendo filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint. It was sent to the content distribution network CloudFlare and the complaint asked to immediately disable public access to the page hosting the remade game. CloudFlare forwarded the complaint to the person hosting Ross' game, after which the hosting provider (a friend of Ross) had to take the game down. Nintendo also sent Ross takedown notices for his downloadable desktop versions of the Bob-Omb Battlefield. Nintendo is famously protective of its copyright, taking issue even with "Let's Play" videos posted on YouTube and threatening to shut down live-streamed Super Smash Bros tournaments."
Microsoft

Microsoft Considered Giving Away Original Xbox 85

Posted by timothy
from the could've-been-a-cue-cat dept.
donniebaseball23 writes While the term 'Xbox' is firmly implanted in every gamer's mind today, when Microsoft first set out to launch a console in 2001, people weren't sure what to expect and Microsoft clearly wasn't sure what approach to take to the market. As Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley explained, "In the early days of Xbox, especially before we had figured out how to get greenlit for the project as a pure game console, everybody and their brother who saw the new project starting tried to come in and say it should be free, say it should be forced to run Windows after some period of time." Blackley added that other ideas were pushed around at Microsoft too, like Microsoft should just gobble up Nintendo. "Just name it, name a bad idea and it was something we had to deal with," he said.
Classic Games (Games)

SuperMario 64 Coming To a Browser Near You! 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-time dept.
Billly Gates writes Since Unity has been given a liberal license and free for non commercial developers it has become popular. A computer science student Erik Roystan Ross used the tool to remake SuperMario 64 with a modern Unity 5 engine. There is a video here and if you want to play the link is here. You will need Firefox or Chrome which has HTML 5 for gamepad support if you do not want to use the keyboard. "I currently do not have any plans to develop this any further or to resolve any bugs, unless they're horrendously game-breaking and horrendously simple to fix," says Ross.
Power

Measuring How Much "Standby Mode" Electricity For Game Consoles Will Cost You 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the trading-money-for-convenience dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Modern game consoles have a "standby" mode, which you can use if you want the console to instantly turn on while not drawing full power the whole time it's idle. But manufacturers are vague about how much power it takes to keep the consoles in this standby state. After a recent press release claiming $250 million worth of electricity was used to power Xbox Ones in standby mode in the past year, Ars Technica decided to run some tests to figure out exactly how much power is being drawn. Their conclusions: the PS4 draws about 10 Watts, $10-11 in extra electricity charges annually. The Xbox One draws 12.9W, costing users $13-$14 in extra electricity charges annually. The Wii U draws 13.3W, costing users $14-$15 in extra electricity charges annually. These aren't trivial amounts, but they're a lot less than simply leaving the console running and shutting off the TV when you aren't using it: "Leaving your PS4 sitting on the menu like this all year would waste over $142 in electricity costs."
Input Devices

What Makes the Perfect Gaming Mouse? 199

Posted by timothy
from the give-it-a-lot-of-cocaine dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new article looks at the advanced technology that goes into many gaming mice favoured by professional gamers, from dedicated processors to custom weights for the sake of ergonomics, discussing the developments with designers at three top peripheral companies: Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries. Surprisingly, some factors that were once thought to have reached the limit of their usefulness, such as DPI sensitivity, are becoming more important again as screens get bigger and we make the move to 4K resolution. ... "With the rise of higher resolution screens, especially looking into 4K multi monitor systems and beyond, DPI might become an important factor in the future again, so we are not ruling out changes in the maximum tracking rate," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.
Government

Gen Con Threatens To Leave Indianapolis Over Religious Freedom Bill 886

Posted by samzenpus
from the rolling-in-another-place dept.
Grymalkin writes A controversial religious freedom bill has passed the Indianapolis Senate and is now awaiting Governor Mike Pence's signature to become law. Supporters claim that this bill will protect business owners from excessive government control while opponents argue it is just a veiled attempt to allow those same business owners to deny services to individuals because of their sexual orientation. Now, Gen Con has released a statement saying this bill will influence their decision to keep the convention in Indiana. This announcement has tourism officials worried as Gen Con brings in roughly 50,000 visitors each year, contributing $50 million to the local economy. So far Gen Con's announcement has not swayed the Governor who says he is looking forward to signing the bill into law. Gen Con currently has a contract with the Indy Convention Center through 2020. No word yet as to exactly when the convention would be moved should the bill become law.
AMD

Gaming On Linux With Newest AMD Catalyst Driver Remains Slow 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the molasses-in-the-winter dept.
An anonymous reader writes The AMD Catalyst binary graphics driver has made a lot of improvements over the years, but it seems that NVIDIA is still leading in the Linux game with their shared cross-platform driver. Tests done by Phoronix of the Catalyst 15.3 Linux Beta found on Ubuntu 15.04 shows that NVIDIA continues leading over AMD Catalyst with several different GPUs on BioShock Infinite, a game finally released for Linux last week. With BioShock Infinite on Linux, years old mid-range GeForce GPUs were clobbering the high-end Radeon R9 290 and other recent AMD GPUs tested. The poor showing wasn't limited to BS:I though as the Metro Redux games were re-tested too on the new drivers and found the NVIDIA graphics still ran significantly faster and certainly a different story than under Windows.
Crime

Online "Swatting" Becomes a Hazard For Gamers Who Play Live On the Internet 569

Posted by samzenpus
from the hands-up-controllers-down dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that practical jokers who call in bogus reports of violence provoking huge police responses have set their sights on a new set of victims: video gamers who play live on the Internet, often in front of huge online audiences. Last month, several hundred people were watching Joshua Peters as he played RuneScape from his parents' home as video showed Peters suddenly leaving his computer when police officers appeared at the house and ordered him and his family at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground after some had called 911 claiming Peters had just shot his roommate. "With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situation," says James Clayton Eubanks who says he has been swatted about a half-dozen times while he streamed his Call of Duty sessions. "Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people."

Game companies like Twitch have publicly said that swatting is dangerous, but that there is little else they can do to prevent the pranks. Tracking the culprits behind the pranks is difficult. While bomb scares and other hoaxes have been around for decades, making threats anonymously has never been so easy. Swatters use text messages and online phone services like Skype to relay their threats, employing techniques to make themselves hard to trace. They obtain personal addresses for their victims through property records and other public databases, or by tricking businesses or customer service representatives at a victim's Internet provider into revealing the information. Brandon Willson, a gamer known online as "Famed God," made up a murder to get police to go to an unsuspecting west suburban resident's home last year and ended up behind bars in Nevada awaiting extradition. As part of the investigation, police traveled to Las Vegas to help local police execute a search warrant at Willson's home. Computers seized there contained evidence of the swatting incident, as well as similar incidents across the country, prosecutors claim. Willson faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted on charges of computer tampering and one count each of intimidation, computer fraud, identity theft and disorderly conduct. His mother, Brenda Willson, says her son is innocent and does not smoke, drink or have tattoos. "He would never swat," she says.