Yesterday, we mentioned a just-approved effort to uncover the remains of goods dumped by Atari in New Mexico decades ago. New submitter Essellion writes "Among the games that legend has it are there is the Atari 2600 E.T. game, infamous for how bad it was. However, an excavator of another kind has cast doubts on how bad it was by exploring in depth the E.T. ROM, how it played and why, and designing some bug fixes for it."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "The thirteenth annual Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming has five contenders: Wil Wheaton's "Tabletop" YouTube video series; the massive history of gaming book Playing at the World ; the Metatopia gaming convention where designers pay for access to alpha gamers; the romance-genre card game Love Letter ; and the RPG Dog Eat Dog in which players explore the dynamics of colonialism. When it comes to this award, typically all of the nominees are worth checking out."
An anonymous reader writes "Pundits tell us that the world of console video gaming is in dire straits, but recent collections of console video games have sold on eBay for tens of thousands of dollars. There are still a lot of video game disks and cartridges out there, but is it worth your effort to try to complete your collection and sell it on eBay? If you're a potential buyer for a massive collection of video games, are they likely to appreciate over time, or is this a really bad investment? Market research company Terapeak runs some numbers and suggests that it depends on your goals, the size and quality of your collection, and the console you're focused on." There's a film crew hoping to bypass the uncertain hoarding phase, though, and just mine a landfill in New Mexico for the legendary hoard of dumped Atari inventory.
Nintendo says, "With Wii Street U powered by Google, you can step into Google Street View with an immersive experience that feels like you’re actually there! View a 360-degree Google Maps Street View of locations all over the world using the Wii U GamePad motion controls. Use the GamePad touch screen to type in an address or location and explore, or instantly travel to over 70 fascinating, hand-picked locations around the globe." It all looks lovely, but can't we do most of this with Android phones? And couldn't a smart developer make the Google Street View Android phone experience even more immersive, so we wouldn't all need to buy a Wii U? Nintendo, we love you, but the Wii U still looks pretty dead unless it gets some major rethinking, and this Street View app doesn't seem to be it.
An anonymous reader writes "As a 27-year old minor league pitcher who had never made it to "The Show" (ballplayers' slang for the big leagues), Garrett Broshius was advised by a coach to develop an 'out pitch' by cheating (doctoring or scuffing the baseball while standing on the mound). It was an ethical crossroads faced by many players past and present, and Broshius ultimately decided to give up the game. While a student at the St. Louis University School of Law, he wrote a paper that attempted to apply the tenets of legal theorists to the rampant cheating in baseball and other sports (click the 'download' button, no registration required). While Broshius' paper isn't brilliant or novel, it tours the techniques and issues surrounding cheating in baseball better than most. Broshius concludes with recommendations for how baseball should handle two classes of cheating: 'traditional' cheating of the type he was advised to do by the coach, which has achieved acceptance in some quarters as part of the game; and 'new era' cheating involving performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, which has become prominent in the last 25 years. Oh, and Brosius remarks that in almost every baseball game he watches these days, he notices something suspicious — usually from the pitcher."
An anonymous reader writes "VentureBeat reports that the next-gen MMO Blizzard Entertainment has been hinting at since 2007, codenamed 'Titan,' is getting restarted with a drastically reduced development team. It was originally being built by a 100-person 'dream team' of developers that had their roots in other popular Blizzard games. Many people were expecting an announcement about Titan at this year's Blizzcon, but now that looks unlikely. 'Blizzard's development teams aren't known for their speed. The publisher often cancels projects that have been in the works for years if it believes that those games don't meet its standard of quality.' VentureBeat's sources say the game is now looking at a 2016 release at the earliest."
schirra writes "The MIT Game Lab has just released the graphics/physics engine from its popular game A Slower Speed of Light as an open-source project, allowing anyone to play around with the effects of special relativity using Unity3D. While the hope is that game developers and educators will use OpenRelativity to develop new kinds of relativistic games and simulations, that shouldn't stop those with a casual interest from playing around with these wicked cool effects. For the physics inclined, these effects include Lorentz contraction, time dilation, Doppler shift, and the searchlight effect--though a PhD in theoretical physics isn't required to enjoy or use the project."
Phopojijo writes "Consoles have not really been able to profitably scale over the last decade or so. Capital is sacrificed to gain control over their marketshare and, even with the excessive lifespan of this recent generation, cannot generate enough revenue with that control to be worth it. Have we surpassed the point where closed platforms can be profitable and will we need to settle on an industry body, such as W3C or Khronos, to fix a standard for companies to manage slices of and compete within?"
New submitter geirlk writes "Toms Hardware reports that 'Group program manager of Xbox Incubation & Prototyping Jeff Henshaw recently told OXM that for every console Microsoft builds, it will provision the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox One consoles in the cloud. This allows developers to assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game. Thus, developers can build bigger, persistent levels that are more inclusive for players.'"
MojoKid writes "Microsoft might have one of the most talked-about products at the moment with the Xbox One, but would you believe it doesn't own the rights to the most obvious domain name to accompany it? Domain squatting is a real issue for companies about to launch a new product. If they register a domain before the official launch, people can find that and subsequently ruin the company's surprise. This particular case is different, however. The domain name wasn't registered just the other day. Instead, a UK resident registered the name XboxOne.com in December of 2011, long before Microsoft itself even likely had a definitive name for its upcoming console. So, what can a company do in this instance? File a dispute with the National Arbitration Forum, an ICANN-approved organization that specializes in dealing with these sorts of matters."
An anonymous reader writes "Now that both Sony and Microsoft have announced their next-gen consoles, and we've gotten solid information about their hardware, technology, and features, Eurogamer asks whether Nintendo's struggling Wii U will be able to hold its own once the new competition arrives. 'Wii U has tanked — there's no other way to put it — with even the release of traditional big-hitters like Dragon Quest 10 failing to make a dent in the Japanese market. If you believe certain analysts, April saw things getting even worse in the U.S. with the Wii U shifting under 40,000 units, easily outsold by the 360 and PS3 — and, even more embarrassingly, the Wii.' If the Wii U doesn't see a miraculous turnaround, Nintendo may be left with the difficult choice of whether to port its software to competing consoles. It'll also serve as a bellwether to see if the big gamer complaint about the new Sony and Microsoft consoles — that they're only partly about games — is honest. 'At a time when the goal of its competitors is to own the living room, the extent of Nintendo's ambition is simply to be in it — a dedicated games console, and no more.'"
Chewbacon writes "Details about the used-game policy on Microsoft's newly-announced Xbox One console have been leaked. The policy explains how used-game retailers can survive Xbox One destroying the used-game market as we know it: they have to agree to Microsoft's terms and conditions to do so. In summary, the used game retailer can still buy the game from the consumer, but they must report the consumer relinquishing their license to play the game to a Microsoft database. They must also sell it at a market price (35£ in the UK), but the publisher will get a cut of the price. The article goes on to explain how Xbox One will phone home periodically to verify a player hasn't sold the game according to the aforementioned database." A big downside is that we're likely going to see the end of cheap, used games. A potential upside pointed out by Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report is that this would unquestionably boost revenue for game publishers, giving the smart ones an opportunity to step away from the $60 business model and adopt pricing practices seen on Steam and iTunes (neither of which allow the purchase of "used" games/media). Also, it's worth noting that even if the policy leak is 100% correct, it could change before the console actually launches.
An anonymous reader writes "The Xbox One was revealed earlier, and Kotaku was able to get some answers about the always-online rumors that plagued the console before its announcement. Microsoft VP Phil Harrison said Xbox One doesn't need a constant connection in order to play games, and you won't be dropped from single-player games if your connection cuts out. However, it does require check-ins with Microsoft servers. This echoes the Xbox One FAQ, which cryptically says, "No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet." The number Harrison gave was once every 24 hours, but Microsoft's PR department was quick to say that was just one potential scenario, not a certainty. Microsoft also provided half-answers about how used games and game sharing would work. Players will be able to take a game to a friend's house and play it (using their profile, at least). Players will also have some mechanism to trade and sell used games, but it's not yet clear exactly how it would work. If one player uses a disc to install a game on their Xbox One, then gives the disc to a friend, the friend will be able to install it, but needs to pay full price to play it. That scenario, however, assumes both players want to own the game — the second one would essentially be a unique copy. Microsoft said they have a plan for trading used games, which would involve deactivating the game on the original owner's console, but they aren't willing to elaborate yet." Several publications have hands-on reports with the new hardware: Engadget, Ars Technica, Gizmodo.
Today at a press conference leading up to E3, Microsoft unveiled its next-gen games/entertainment console, the Xbox One. Their stated goal for the Xbox One is to have a single device provide "all of your entertainment." One of the big changes is increased support for voice and and gesture input. You can turn the console on by voice, and it will recognize you and automatically login. Swiping to the side with your hand will browse through menu pages, and saying "Watch TV" will bring up the TV app very quickly. The same with music, internet, and movies. The new console also supports multitasking — for example, while watching a movie, you can bring up your web browser in a side panel and surf the web at the same time. There is also a built-in TV listings app that responds to channel names — saying "Watch CBS" will switch to CBS without giving it an actual channel number. By this point, you're probably asking: does it play games? Yes. Hardware specs: 8-core CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, USB 3.0, and Wi-fi Direct. (They didn't provide the CPU frequency, instead saying it had 5 billion transistors.) The Kinect sensor got an upgrade: 2Gbps of data capture has finer skeletal visibility, can detect minor orientation changes in hands and fingers, and can even calculate your balance and weight distribution. The new controller looks slightly bigger, and is designed to play well with Kinect. They've also updated Smartglass, the remote control software that runs on mobile devices, but they didn't explain much about it. The new Xbox Live will have 300,000 servers powering it, up from 15,000 this year — though, of course, no details were provided about server specs. The console will have native game capture and editing tools — essentially, a game DVR. Saved games will be stored in the cloud, and they have new matchmaking capabilities that operate in the background. Update: 05/21 17:50 GMT by S : Halo is getting its own live-action TV show, for some reason. They'll be collaborating with Steven Spielberg. Microsoft is also partnering with the NFL for live broadcasts and interactive experiences, such as split-screen Skype chats and fantasy league updates. Xbox One will be out "later this year." No price information. it will not be backward-compatible with Xbox 360 games.
Imagine 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.'"