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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

XBox (Games)

Microsoft Confirms Disconnecting Kinect Gives Devs 10% More GPU Horsepower 174

Posted by timothy
from the remove-airbags-install-rollcage dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes 'Microsoft confirmed a development rumor that's been swirling around its next-generation console ever since it announced Kinect would become an optional add-on rather than a mandatory boat anchor. Lifting that requirement will give game developers 10 percent additional graphics power to play with and help close the gap between the Xbox One and PS4. The story kicked off when Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted that June's Xbox One dev kit gave devs access to more GPU bandwidth. Further, another Microsoft representative then confirmed that the performance improvement coming in the next version of the Xbox SDK was the result of making Kinect an optional accessory. No matter how Microsoft may try to spin it, cancelling Kinect isn't just a matter of giving game developers freedom, it's a tacit admission that game developers have no significant projects in play that are expected to meaningfully tap Kinect to deliver a great game experience — and they need those GPU cycles back.' Also on the Xbox capabilities front: Reader BogenDorpher (2008682) writes 'In August of last year, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed that the Xbox One controller will be compatible for PC users sometime in 2014. That time has finally come. Windows gamers can now use the Xbox One controller to play games on their computer. If a game supports a USB gamepad or the Xbox 360 controller, it will also support the Xbox One controller.'
Portables (Games)

Sony Winding Down the PSP 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the most-successful-also-ran dept.
Linnen writes "Sony has started the process of phasing out its PSP handheld console. From The Guardian: 'Shipments to the U.S. ended this year, and they are closing in Japan soon. European stores will see their last arrivals toward Christmas. Launched in Japan in December 2004, it is almost 10 years old – not a bad achievement for a handheld that was almost written off early in its lifespan. ... The console struggled with high piracy levels of its titles, which meant the likes of EA, Activision and Ubisoft were reticent about committing to major development projects. However, the ease with which hackers were able to break the device's security system also meant that it became a favorite with the homebrew development scene, and amateur coders are still producing games and demos for the platform. Some look back on the machine as a failure beside the all-conquering Nintendo DS, but this is unfair. The console sold 80m units, a figure boosted by a series of excellent hardware and featureset updates, including the slimmer PSP-2000 and PSP-3000 models. '"
Graphics

Testing 65 Different GPUs On Linux With Open Source Drivers 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the line-'em-up-and-knock-'em-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes "How good are open source graphics drivers in 2014 given all the Linux gaming and desktop attention? Phoronix has tested 65 different GPUs using the latest open source drivers covering Intel HD Graphics, NVIDIA GeForce, AMD Radeon, and AMD FirePro hardware. Of the 65 GPUs tested, only 50 of them had good enough open source driver support for running OpenGL games and benchmarks. Across the NVIDIA and AMD hardware were several pages of caveats with different driver issues encountered on Linux 3.15 and Mesa 10.3 loaded on Ubuntu 14.04. Intel graphics on Linux were reliable but slow while AMD's open-source Linux support was recommended over the NVIDIA support that doesn't currently allow for suitable graphics card re-clocking. Similar tests are now being done with the proprietary Linux drivers."
AMD

AMD, NVIDIA, and Developers Weigh In On GameWorks Controversy 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-can-be-only-one-(or-more) dept.
Dputiger writes: "Since NVIDIA debuted its GameWorks libraries there's been allegations that they unfairly disadvantaged AMD users or prevented developers from optimizing code. We've taken these questions to developers themselves and asked them to weigh in on how games get optimized, why NVIDIA built this program, and whether its an attempt to harm AMD customers. 'The first thing to understand about [developer/GPU manufacturer] relations is that the process of game optimization is nuanced and complex. The reason AMD and NVIDIA are taking different positions on this topic isn't because one of them is lying, it’s because AMD genuinely tends to focus more on helping developers optimize their own engines, while NVIDIA puts more effort into performing tasks in-driver. This is a difference of degree — AMD absolutely can perform its own driver-side optimization and NVIDIA's Tony Tamasi acknowledged on the phone that there are some bugs that can only be fixed by looking at the source. ... Some of this difference in approach is cultural but much of it is driven by necessity. In 2012 (the last year before AMD's graphics revenue was rolled into the console business), AMD made about $1.4 billion off the Radeon division. For the same period, NVIDIA made more than $4.2 billion. Some of that was Tegra-related and it's a testament to AMD's hardware engineering that it competes effectively with Nvidia with a much smaller revenue share, but it also means that Team Green has far more money to spend on optimizing every aspect of the driver stack.'"
Displays

New Valve Prototype VR Headset Shows Up At VR Meetup In Boston 41

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cool-dots dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The last time we saw Valve's prototype VR headset, which they said was built to the spec that could be found in a consumer product by 2015, it was a using an 'inside-out' tracking approach where a camera mounted on the VR headset tracked markers placed all over the walls and ceiling of the demo room. This week, at a VR meetup in Boston, Valve had a new prototype to show, featuring an 'outside-in' tracking approaching where a single camera trackings IR-LEDs built into the case of the VR headset, much like the forthcoming Oculus Rift DK2. Valve's latest prototype is thought to be using two 1080p displays in portrait orientation, compared to a single 1080p display in the Oculus Rift DK2."
Apple

Apple's 2014 WWDC Keynote Will Be Streamed Live; Hopes For a Microconsole? 147

Posted by timothy
from the apple-tv-plus dept.
SlappingOysters (1344355) writes "Grab It is reporting that Apple will stream its 2014 WWDC keynote live at 10am PST on June 2. The site speculates that a recent update to showcase title and previous keynote star Real Racing 3 could confirm a rumoured microconsole announcement. The App Store has seen a dramatic rise in the quality and frequency of AAA spin-off titles over the last year, giving Apple a good platform to make a move into this emerging space."
Input Devices

Valve's Steam Machines Delayed, Won't Be Coming In 2014 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the some-day-soon dept.
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Valve has announced that its Steam Machines won't be available in the market anytime in 2014. The company delayed the release due to ongoing work on the Steam Controller. Valve's Eric Hope explains on Steam Forums why the work on controller is causing the delay: 'We're now using wireless prototype controllers to conduct live playtests, with everyone from industry professionals to die-hard gamers to casual gamers. It's generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we'll be able to make the controller a lot better. Of course, it's also keeping us pretty busy making all those improvements. Realistically, we're now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014.'"
AMD

AMD and NVIDIA Trade Allegations, Denials Over Shady Tactics 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
crookedvulture writes "In an article published by Forbes earlier this week, AMD lashed out at NVIDIA's GameWorks program, which includes Watch Dogs and other popular titles, such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin's Creed IV, and Batman: Arkham Origins. Technical communications lead for PC graphics Robert Hallock alleged that GameWorks deliberately cripples performance on AMD hardware. He also claimed that developers are prevented from working with AMD on game optimizations. The Forbes piece was fairly incriminating, but it didn't include any commentary from the other side of the fence. NVIDIA has now responded to the allegations, and as one might expect, it denies them outright. Director of engineering for developer technology Cem Cebenoyan says NVIDIA has never barred developers from working with AMD. In fact, he claims that AMD's own developer relations efforts have prevented NVIDIA from getting its hands on early builds of some games. AMD has said in the past that it makes no effort to prevent developers from working with NVIDIA. So, we have another round of he said, she said, with gamers caught in the middle and performance in newer titles hanging in the balance."
Nintendo

Nintendo To Split Ad Revenue With Streaming Gamers 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the lowering-the-tax-rate-from-100% dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Over the past several years, as computers and networks have improved to handle heavier loads, it's become popular for people to stream video game footage over sites like YouTube and Twitch. Last year, Nintendo aggressively went after the players doing this for their games, hijacking the ad revenue generated through YouTube. It angered the gaming community, and was actively hostile to the people who were Nintendo's biggest fans. Now, Nintendo has partly walked back their position: they've agreed to share some of the advertising profits with the streamer. It's still hostile to the people actively putting Nintendo game playthroughs out there for others to watch, but it's a step in the right direction."
PC Games (Games)

Watch Dogs Released, DRM Troubles 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the barking-up-the-wrong-tree dept.
Today marked the launch of Watch Dogs, a highly-anticipated action-adventure game from Ubisoft. Early reviews for the game are fairly good, but not without complaints. Eurogamer said, 'Combat encounters also draw inspiration from existing games, with slightly stiff but workable sneaking and cover mechanics and decent if unremarkable gunplay. ... There's a sense of sterility beneath the surface, though. As dazzling as the game can look, this Chicago feels like a place you travel through rather than a world you inhabit. Pedestrians gasp and gawp at car crashes, but exhibit no real life.' Polygon's review complimented the bits of structure within the open-world game: "More than any stealth game I can think of, Watch Dogs does a remarkable job in allowing for proper preparation. It creates a universal environment of constant puzzle solving, which sits cozily next to all the action on display." Rock, Paper, Shotgun added, "It feels churlish to complain about something which is only magical 90% of the time, but in some things, ten percent can seep out and render the rest infuriating and useless." It's worth noting that some users are running into problems even playing game, thanks to authentication issues with Ubisoft's UPlay digital distribution service.
Portables (Games)

Google Glass and the Future of Wearable Gaming 39

Posted by Soulskill
from the check-out-my-tetris-watch dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google Glass is now becoming more widely available, but developers are only just starting to tap into the augmented reality specs' potential for gaming. A new report looks at some of the early experiments with the tech — leading the charge is indie developer Mind Pirate, the first studio to release a mobile game simultaneously on iPhone and Google Glass. But will others get on board? Will the explosion in popularity of virtual reality headsets help or hinder it? It's still a wild wild west.

'The potential of wearables will only be realized through thoughtful integration of hardware and software,' says Mind Pirate CEO Shawn Hardin. Right now, 'much of the mature infrastructure of the mobile arena' is missing in the world of wearables. The 'myriad of unique sensor and hardware configurations atop increasingly diverse operating systems' makes it particularly difficult for developers to get started."
Displays

Hands-On With Sony's VR Headset 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-that-should-be-heads-on dept.
It wasn't long after the rise of the Oculus Rift that Sony hopped on the virtual reality bandwagon and announced a headset of their own. Now, Eurogamer has had a chance to operate and test Sony's hardware, which they say "has its own distinct vision for VR," as well as a distinct focus on console gaming. "On the 640x768 per eye first-gen Rift, the result was the perception of a disappointingly minuscule resolution, with a highly distracting "screen door" effect where you could see between the pixels. This is far less of an issue with Morpheus, and we were pleasantly surprised by how good image quality is in an environment where resolution remains at a premium. In discussing the situation with Sony, it's clear that some effort has gone into judging how to best apply the fisheye lens effect that distorts the image, with a stronger focus on retaining resolution in the key focus area. Over and above that, we wouldn't be surprised if the narrower field of view also contributes to improving image integrity. ... However, in comparing Morpheus to what we've seen from Oculus VR, it's perhaps surprising to discover that a truly transformative element of the proposition comes from a piece of hardware that you might already own: PlayStation Move. Our aspirations for the hardware were never fully realized, but the hook-up with Morpheus is a match made in heaven - in fact, if there is to be a struggle for market leadership with Oculus (and potentially Microsoft), the existing motion controller is undoubtedly one of the strongest weapons in Sony's arsenal."
Games

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the aka-every-game-on-xbox-live dept.
An article at Wired takes a look at two multiplayer survival games, DayZ and Rust, and at the behavior of players when their actions are freed from a civilized moral code. 'Violence wouldn't bother a psychopath, [Dr. Adam Perkins] says, but they might have another incentive to avoid violence: the consequences of getting caught. Most psychopaths are logical people, he says, and understand that actions bring consequences. The threat of repercussions — say, for example, prison — might keep them from acting out. Such disincentives do not exist in virtual worlds. Absent a sense of empathy, you're free to rob and kill at will. What we do with this reveals something about us.

Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, says imagining ourselves doing something horrible is a way to see ourselves in a new light. "One of the ways we keep ourselves moral is to imagine the terrible things we could do, but then don't do," Ronson says. "You stand on a train platform and think, 'I could push that person in front of the train.' That thought pops into your head, and it doesn't make you a lunatic. It makes you a good person, because what you're actually saying is, 'Oh my god, I’m capable of doing a terrible thing, but I would never actually do it.'" ... But we're still left with the big question: Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'
Businesses

Sony Bringing PlayStation To China 41

Posted by timothy
from the 10-million-consoles-and-8-games dept.
VentureBeat reports that one market formerly closed to console makers is opening up in a big way. An excerpt: "One month after Microsoft announced its launching the Xbox One in China this September, Sony today announced that its PlayStation business is coming to the world’s most populous country. It’s unclear which PlayStation hardware and games will come to China — or when — but it’s reasonable to assume Sony will bring its PlayStation 4 console (and perhaps its PlayStation Vita handheld) to China later this year. The Chinese game industry is already worth $13 billion, most of which gets spent on PC and mobile. That’s not console makers’ fault: China implemented a console ban in 2000, saying it would protect children from violent video games. As soon as the Chinese Ministry of Culture said it would begin working on new rules, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all expressed interest in bringing their consoles to the country. Like Microsoft, which is working with Chinese media firm BesTV to bring the Xbox One to China, Sony also has a local partner: Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development (OPCD). Both OPCD and BesTV are subsidiaries of China’s Shanghai Media Group."
Games

This Is Your Brain While Videogaming Stoned 168

Posted by timothy
from the for-some-values-of-your dept.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Pot and video games have long been bound together in hazy, wedded bliss—as well as in compulsion and codependency. Many a World of Warcraft binger has been found in the darkest hours of the night with clouds of sweet, milk-white smoke curling around him, a bong next to the keyboard. But the way these lovers, games and weed, commingle has only rarely been studied, and when done so, usually exclusively in the context of substance abuse and how it relates to what is known as PVP: 'problem video game playing.'" Motherboard takes a different look.
Displays

Report: Samsung Building VR Headset For Its Phones & Tablets 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the fast-approaching-buzzword-status dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Engadget reports that Samsung is working on virtual reality technology to compete with the Oculus Rift. Their work is fairly far along, and it's expected to be announced this year. It's being built to function in tandem with Samsung's flagship mobile devices, most likely their upcoming Galaxy phones and tablets. From the article: 'We're told it has an OLED screen, as good or better than in the second Rift dev kit; it's not clear how the headset connects to your phone/tablet, but we're guessing it's a wired connection rather than wireless. ...This is a device meant for use with games. What type of games? Android games! Sure, but which ones? That's certainly the question. Great games make the platform, and VR games are especially tough to crack given the newness of the medium. One thing's for sure: most major games won't work on VR as direct ports.' The report also suggests Samsung is targeting a lower price point than its competitors. True or not, it will hopefully help drive down prices for all upcoming VR tech." Meanwhile, DARPA is experimenting with the Oculus Rift for cyberwar visualization.
Classic Games (Games)

It's Time For the Descent Games Return 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-expect-a-kickstarter-project-within-the-week dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gamers of a certain age will probably remember Descent, a game that combined first-person shooters with flight sims in a way that has never really been replicated. GameSpot has an article calling for a new entry in the Descent series, and it reminded me of all the stomach-churning battles I had as a kid (when the game wasn't bringing my 33MHz 486 to its knees). 'Here's where modern gaming innovations make Descent an even more tempting reboot. From the two-dimensional mines of Spelunky to the isometric caves of Path of Exile, procedurally generated levels help deliver fresh experiences to players in a number of genres. The mines of Descent would be perfect candidates for such creation, and they wouldn't have to be limited to the metallic walls and lunar geology of past Descent games.

Imagine exploring organic tunnels carved by some unknown alien creature, or floating past dazzling crystalline stalactites in pristine ancient caves. Perhaps the influences of Red Faction and Minecraft could also come into play as you bored your own shortcuts through layers of destructible sediment. All of Descent's dizzying navigation challenges could be even more exciting with the immersive potential of a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift or the Sony Morpheus. Feeling the mine walls close in on you from all sides could get your heart racing, and turning your head to spot shortcuts, power-ups, or delicate environmental details could greatly heighten the sense of being an explorer in an uncharted land.'"
Windows

Valve In-Home Game Streaming Supports Windows, OS X & Linux 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the runs-on-anything dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Valve has today pushed out a new update to its Steam client on all three of the major OSes that finally takes In-home Game-Streaming out of beta. Similar to NVIDIA's GameStream, which streams native gameplay from a GeForce-equipped PC to the NVIDIA SHIELD, Valve's solution lets you stream from one PC to another, regardless of which OS it's running. What this means is you could have a SteamOS-based PC in your living-room, which is of course Linux-based, and stream games from your Windows PC in another room which ordinarily would never run under Linux. Likewise, you could stream a game from a Windows PC to an OS X machine, or vice versa."
The Courts

Blizzard Sues Starcraft II Cheat Creators 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the zerging-with-lawyers dept.
qubezz writes: "TorrentFreak reports that on Monday, Blizzard filed a lawsuit in US District court in California against the programmers behind the popular Starcraft II cheat 'ValiantChaos MapHack.' The complaint seeks relief from 'direct copyright infringement,' 'contributory copyright infringement,' 'vicarious copyright infringement,' 'trafficking in circumvention devices,' etc. The suit seeks the identity of the cheat's programmers, as it fishes for names of John Does 1-10, in addition to an injunction against the software (which remains on sale) and punitive damages. Blizzard claims losses from diminished user experiences, and also that 'when users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they directly infringe Blizzard's copyright in StarCraft II, including by creating unauthorized derivative works"."
Facebook

Zenimax Sues Oculus Over VR Tech 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the being-jerks-for-fun-and-profit dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We had hints at this when Zenimax accused John Carmack of stealing 'proprietary technology and know-how,' but now it's official: Zenimax is suing Oculus VR over its virtual reality headset technology. 'According to a statement released by Zenimax, the lawsuit was filed over what it perceives to be the defendants' illegal exploitation of intellectual property, including "trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how relating to virtual reality technology" that was developed by Zenimax. Zenimax is also seeking to take Oculus and Luckey to task for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition. Zenimax continues to claim that it provided IP to Oculus under a legal agreement that it would be owned exclusively by ZeniMax and could not be "used, disclosed, or transferred to third parties without Zenimax's approval."'"

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