game designer Steve Jackson and a bunch of friends building Lego trains and tracks and scenery, including buildings and other props. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? The group calls itself the Texas Brick Railroad. A lot of members have children, so their meetings tend to be family affairs. Plus, as they're doing here, they often display their train sets at public events where -- yes -- their trains attract children like crazy. This video shows off both current Lego trains and some of the classic, no-longer-sold Lego trains that members have collected over the years, including the highly-prized monorails. There's a transcript, but face it: This is basically visual material, and worth checking out on a computer or handheld that runs Flash if your normal one doesn't. (We've requested an upgrade from Flash-only video, but don't hold your breath. It might be a good while before we get it.)
mcleland writes "The BBC reports that Nintendo is now using the content ID match feature in YouTube to identify screencap videos of people playing their games. They then take over the advertising that appears with the video, and thus the ad revenue. Nintendo gets it all, and the creators of these videos (which are like extended fan-made commercials for the games) get nothing. Corporate gibberish to justify this: 'In a statement, the firm said the move was part of an "on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media."'"
Krazy Kanuck writes "Introduced in 2010, Online Pass was marketed as a way to 'preserve' online content or DLC as titles were sold in the used game market. Many saw this as a way to cut out the second hand game market. EA has now decided to end this program 'partly because the players didn't like it.' Unfortunately this appears to only be for future released games, those previously released will still be subject to this feature. Activision and Ubisoft still use this form of content control, it will be interesting to see if they follow suit."
kkleiner writes "The first NeuroGaming Conference and Expo took place at the beginning of May to showcase the convergent technologies that are paving the way toward gaming with your mind. Tech news has been dominated with stories about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, which was on display for attendees to test out. Other technologies that utilize EEG are opening up possibilities of a controller-free gaming experience into virtual realities with unlimited potential. 'Deeper questions surrounding the morality of neurogames will be sure to stir debate. As virtual reality technology inches closer to lifelike resolution, should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity? It’s unpredictable what these games could uncover about the user as neurogames gain insight into a users’ psyche and how they respond to stimuli at a subconscious level. For instance, a game could uncover how its user particularly enjoys shooting at civilians in gameplay. Games might even become expert at diagnosing psychiatric disorders. As computers become exponentially more powerful, game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality.'"
Android Police reports on an information leak out of Google in the lead-up to their I/O conference, which starts on May 15th. A new version of Google Play Services contains information about "Google Play Games," the company's long anticipated unified gaming service. The leak shows support for saved game syncing, matchmaking, notifications, game invites, achievements, leaderboards, and integration with other Google services. "Who can send you notifications is, of course, managed by Google+. Pressing that button will bring up the usual circle dialog. All Play Games identity work will be done by Google+. Try and look surprised. ... Play Games can somehow "auto pick" players, which means you can manually pick them too. Presumably this would go down in a match-making lobby of some kind. There are limited slots to a game, we just don't know how many. ... Leaderboards by time - choose this week, all time, or today. You can also show "player-centered" scores so you can find where you are on the boards. Leaderboards plug into G+ and can be non-public. You can also filter the leaderboard by people in your circles. It will also show you what percentile you're in.
An anonymous reader writes "The author of this article goes over a format string vulnerability he found in The Elder Scrolls series starting with Morrowind and going all the way up to Skyrim. It's not something that will likely be exploited, but it's interesting that the vulnerability has lasted through a decade of games. 'Functions like printf() and its variants allow us to view and manipulate the program’s running stack frame by specifying certain format string characters. By passing %08x.%08x.%08x.%08x.%08x, we get 5 parameters from the stack and display them in an 8-digit padded hex format. The format string specifier ‘%s’ displays memory from an address that is supplied on the stack. Then there’s the %n format string specifier – the one that crashes applications because it writes addresses to the stack. Powerful stuff.'"
hypnosec writes "World of Warcarft, the gaming industry's most popular franchise and one of Blizzard's cash cows, is bleeding subscribers with 1.3 million defecting from the game in the first quarter of 2013 alone. Blizzard revealed a subscriber decline of over 14%, the total now standing at 8.3 million in their earnings call press release (PDF)."
PC Mag is one of several outlets reporting that the Kickstarter-funded Ouya Android game console has been delayed by a few weeks; the new target date for launch is June 25. Says the article "The delay does not affect early backers, who are still on track to receive their devices by month's end. Helping to meet that demand will be $15 million in funding, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers." Also at CNET.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Online economies come with their own issues. Case in point is the Auction House for Diablo III, a massively multiplayer game in which players can pay for items in either in-game gold or real-world dollars. Thanks to a bug in the game's latest patch, players could generate massive amounts of virtual gold with little effort, which threatened to throw the in-game economy seriously out of whack. Diablo series publisher Blizzard took corrective steps, but the bug has already attracted a fair share of buzz on gaming and tech-news forums. 'We're still in the process of auditing Auction House and gold trade transactions,' read Blizzard's note on the Battle.net forums. 'We realize this is an inconvenience for many of our players, and we sincerely apologize for the interruption of the service. We hope to have everything back up as soon as possible.' Blizzard was unable to offer an ETA for when the Auction House would come back. 'We'll continue to provide updates in this thread as they become available.' Diablo's gold issue brings up (however tangentially) some broader issues with virtual currencies, namely the bugs and workarounds that can throw an entire micro-economy out of whack. But then again, 'real world' markets have their own software-related problems: witness Wall Street's periodic 'flash crashes' (caused, many believe, by the rise of ultra-high-speed computer trading)." It seems likely the gold duping was due to a simple integer overflow bug. A late change added to the patch allowed users to sell gold on the Real Money Auction House in stacks of 10 million rather than stacks of 1 million. On the RMAH, there exists both a cap ($250) and a floor ($0.25) for the value of auctions. With stacks of 1 million and a floor of $0.25, a seller could only enter 1 billion gold (1,000 stacks) while staying under the $250 cap. When the gold stack size increased, the value of gold dropped significantly. At $0.39 per 10 million, a user could enter values of up to 6.4 billion gold at a time. Unfortunately, the RMAH wasn't designed to handle gold numbers above 2^31, or 2,147,483,648 gold. Creating the auction wouldn't remove enough gold, but canceling it would return the full amount.
An anonymous reader tipped us to news of an interesting hack for the Oculus Rift: a simulation of being beheaded by a Guillotine. Thrown together in a couple of days at the Exile Code Jam, the simulation lets you... "look around to see the blade above, the crowd of onlookers around them, and the executioner who signals the blade be dropped. It also enhances the experience when someone watches the blade falling on a nearby screen and taps the user on the back of the neck at the time of impact." Just a bit morbid. There's a video of people "playing" (nsfw language in a few reactions to being virtually beheaded).
An anonymous reader writes "Electronic Arts announced today it has landed an exclusive multi-year agreement to develop and publish games based on Lucasfilms' Star Wars universe. EA said the it will create and publish Star Wars games for a 'core gaming audience' across 'all popular platforms' and genres. The EA studios creating those 'core' Star Wars games are Battlefield developer DICE, Dead Space developer Visceral Games and Mass Effect house BioWare."
alancronin writes "Valve have released Portal for Linux through the Steam platform. If you have a copy of the Windows version you will automatically have a copy of it for Linux in your account. There are also rumors of Portal 2 coming soon."
MojoKid writes "Google has its hands in every other aspect of the tech industry, so why not gaming, too? It appears as though the company is eyeing a run at the gaming market by hiring Noah Falstein as its 'Chief Game Designer.' Falstein's LinkedIn profile has been updated to reflect his new title, which is the latest in a long career. He started out in 1980 and put in time at (the recently-defunct) Lucasfilm Games as well as 3DO and Dreamworks Interactive."
jtogel writes "This New Scientist article describes our AI system that automatically generates card games. The article contains a description of a playable card game generated by our system. But card games are just the beginning... The card game generator is a part of a larger project to automatise all of game development using artificial intelligence methods — we're also working on level generation for a variety of different games, and on rule generation for simple arcade-like games."
New submitter JoeKilner writes "The Turbulenz HTML5 games engine has been released as open source under the MIT license. The engine is a full 3D engine written in TypeScript and using WebGL. To see what the engine is capable off, check out this video of a full 3D FPS running in the browser using the Turbulenz engine and Quake 4 assets. You can see some of the games already developed with the engine at Turbulenz.com. (Note — to try the games without registering, hit the big blue 'Play as Guest' button.) Also, IE doesn't have WebGL support yet, so to play without a plugin try Chrome or FIrefox."
cylonlover writes "At CES in January, Microsoft Research teased its IllumiRoom concept, which involves projecting an image around a TV screen to enhance video games with additional visuals. Unfortunately, the company didn't offer much info beyond a short video that briefly showed it in action. But the team behind the project recently showed up at the CHI 2013 conference in Paris with some more in-depth details about how IllumiRoom will not only expand the game screen, but completely alter the appearance of your living room."
itwbennett writes "Force feedback in video games (when the game controller shakes and vibrates in response to an experience in the game) has been around for a while now. But a research project on display at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris this week takes it a step further, administering small electric shocks."
Vigile writes "One of the drawbacks to high end graphics has been the lack of low cost and massively-available displays with a resolution higher than 1920x1080. Yes, 25x16/25x14 panels are coming down in price, but it might be the influx of 4K monitors that makes a splash. PC Perspective purchased a 4K TV for under $1500 recently and set to benchmarking high end graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA at 3840x2160. For under $500, the Radeon HD 7970 provided the best experience, though the GTX Titan was the most powerful single GPU option. At the $1000 price point the GeForce GTX 690 appears to be the card to beat with AMD's continuing problems on CrossFire scaling. PC Perspective has also included YouTube and downloadable 4K video files (~100 mbps) as well as screenshots, in addition to a full suite of benchmarks."
woohoodonuts writes "The Professional & Amateur Pinball Association is creating a webchannel that will livestream content from their national circuit of tournaments ranging from Southern California to New York City. The most recent circuit tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania sold out of all 400 tournament openings in less than three weeks, months in advance of the event. With several new companies in the process of creating machines and hundreds of new competitive events springing up worldwide at a record pace, is the retro silverball rising to prominence once again?"