First time accepted submitter TimBur1e6 writes "Suppose you had just moved 1000 miles away from your significant other, but you wanted to continue to create shared life experiences. You could text, or talk by voice, or even video chat. And those would all be good things to do. However, there's a difference between telling someone about your day, and actually spending time together. What are some fun and constructive ways of spending time together on the net? In particular, what are good things to do with a significant other who is less into combat, and more into collaboration, exploration, creativity, and storytelling?"
New submitter cadenceaniya sends this excerpt from Polygon: "Online games are a 'playground' for organized crime and cyber criminals, JD Sherry, vice president of technology and solutions at Trend Micro said following the news that League of Legends accounts were compromised. Earlier this week, account information — usernames, email addresses, salted password hashes, and some first and last names — for some North American League of Legends players were 'compromised' by hackers. Riot was also 'investigating that approximately 120,000 transaction records from 2011 that contained hashed and salted credit card numbers have been accessed.' The increase of free-to-play online gaming across all platforms over the years 'have opened the doors to micro-transactions in-game.' The simple and functional systems created so players can spend money effortlessly creates 'playgrounds' for cyber criminals take advantage of. 'Game platforms can have millions of users all storing sensitive information or code access for more features,' Sherry said. 'These are highly sought after in the cyber-crime underground for trading and selling in the black market. These platforms can fall victim to cyber-attacks just like any organization, especially if they have vulnerabilities that go unpatched.'"
Today at Gamescom in Germany, Blizzard announced the first expansion to Diablo III, titled Reaper of Souls. The story will follow a fallen archangel called Mathael who has returned as the Angel of Death. The level cap will increase to 70, and the expansion will bring a new playable class to the game called the Crusader, whom they described as a "natural walking tank." Reaper of Souls will also bring vast improvements to the loot system; in addition to having a better chance to find good, useful gear for the character you're playing, the items themselves are getting an overhaul to make for more interesting gameplay. Instead of being simply loaded down with combat stats, legendary items will include unique ways to modify how your character functions. They're also implementing something the community has been asking for since shortly after the game came out: randomized dungeons. Further, the Paragon leveling system, put in place after launch as a way to provide character progression after reaching the level cap, will be made account-wide, rather than on a per-character basis. A new profession NPC has been added as well: the Mystic, which lets players reroll one of the stats on a powerful item. As you might expect, Blizzard did not mention a release date. The Reaper of Souls opening cinematic is available on YouTube, as is a brief gameplay video.
Today Sony announced the official release dates of the PlayStation 4 console: November 15 in North America and November 29 in Europe. From the article: "The system will be available for $399/€399/£349 in 32 countries by the end of the year, the company said. The date comes just days before the Black Friday post-Thanksgiving sales, but given the strong pre-order interest for the system already, the PS4 might be hard to find on store shelves in the days after it drops. Sony revealed that one million PS4 systems have already been pre-ordered worldwide. The company notably did not mention a release date or price point for the system's launch in its native Japan."
New submitter herbalt writes "The code of the free FPS game Urban Terror (a standalone game based on a Quake 3 mod), has been stolen. The development team, Frozen Sand, at first stated their Git Repository had been hacked, but later issued an announcement stating the perpetrator of the leak was a member of the development team. Frozen Sand also states they have found chat logs indicating there had been 'a plot to get B1naryTh1ef to steal the code so they could sell Urban Terror under a different name on Steam.'"
Sockatume writes "Marcus 'Notch' Persson of Minecraft fame has indefinitely postponed his planned space game, 0x10c. Taking time to chat during a streamed TF2 game, Notch explained that he didn't have the energy to keep up with the community's interest; fans had gone so far as to transcribe the source code from his development livestream. The game's development had been stalled since April this year, when Notch explained that it simply wasn't fun to play, but other staff at Mojang can resume the project if they wish. He intends to continue his pre-Minecraft habits and 'make small games and talk to other game developers about them'."
msheekhah writes "I have a friend who, when he gets out of college, has been promised a job at well known electronics company with a salary around $70k. However, he wants to instead go work for Blizzard or some other game company as a game programmer. I've read enough on here and on other tech websites to know that he should take the job he's been offered. Can you share with me your experiences so I can give him real life examples to convince him to take this job? If your experience is contrary to mine, I'd appreciate that input as well."
chicksdaddy writes "Haters keep buyin' — that appears to be the dynamic playing out in the ever-hot video game industry, where game developers say harassment and trolling from their rabid fans is turning them off of development completely, according to a report over at Polygon.com. 'Fans are invested in the stories and worlds that developers create, and certain design decisions can be seen by fans to threaten those stories and worlds,' said Nathan Fisk, lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-author of the book Bullying in the Age of Social Media. 'Harassment silences and repositions content creators in ways that protect the interests of certain fan groups, which again is no justification for the kinds of abusive behavior and language seen online today.' The problem is widespread enough that it may even pose a threat to the future of the industry. Developers, both named and those who wish to remain anonymous, tell Polygon that harassment by gamers is becoming an alarmingly regular expected element of game development. Some developers say the problem was among the reasons they left the industry, others tell Polygon that the problem is so ubiquitous that it distracts them from making games or that they're considering leaving the industry."
SmartAboutThings writes "Microsoft is definitely changing things in its gaming department: it has now announced in a support note on the Xbox site that it will be shutting down the Xbox.com PC Marketplace on August 22nd. This comes shortly after news that Microsoft hired former Steam boss Jason Holtman, whose mission at Redmond is to 'make Windows great for gaming.' The Microsoft Points system will be retired on August 22nd as well. The Games for Windows Live client software will not be affected, at least initially, letting you play previously purchased games."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Three years ago, game designer and author Jane McGonigal argued that saving the human race is going to require a major time investment—in playing video games. 'If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week [up from 3 billion today], by the end of the next decade,' she said in a TED talk. Her message was not ignored—and it has indirectly contributed to the formation of something called the Internet Response League (IRL). The small group has a big goal: to harness gamers' time and use it to save lives after disasters, natural or otherwise. The idea is to insert micro-tasks into games, specifically asking gamers to tag photos of disaster areas. With the IRL plugin, each image would be shown to at least three people, who tag the photo as showing no damage, mild damage, or severe damage. The Internet Response League has been in talks with a couple of indie developers, including one that's developing a new MMO. Mosur said they've tried to get in touch with World of Warcraft maker Blizzard, but haven't had any luck yet. Blizzard did not return a request for comment from Slashdot."
UnknowingFool writes "Microsoft has reversed course on another aspect of the Xbox One. Though Xbox One will come bundled with a Kinect sensor, the console will work without it. Critics were had suggested that an always-on video and audio sensor could be used to spy on users. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said, 'Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.' This is the latest reversal from Microsoft since they killed the phone-home DRM and made it region-free."
First time accepted submitter briglass writes "Imagine being a total non-gamer and then suddenly playing an hour of StarCraft a day for almost two months. A new study of mine demonstrates that a group of female gaming novices (seriously novice, as in 0 to 1 hour of gaming per week novice) demonstrated increased cognitive flexibility after playing StarCraft, a sort of fast-paced chess on steroids. The control group played The Sims. It's been well known that video gaming can lead to psychological benefits, such as faster perceptual information processing after playing first-person shooter games. But this new study, published in PLOS ONE, shows that video gaming can also affect higher-level cognitive functions. The StarCraft game was customized to be adaptive and remain challenging as the newly minted gamers honed their skills, and in-game behavior was recorded to determine what aspects of StarCraft leads to the boost in flexibility."
First time accepted submitter tocsy writes "Microsoft has seemingly not learned from their previous PR fiasco. According to the official site, some features as basic as recording and sharing gameplay videos will require a $60/year Xbox Live Gold account. PS4 owners will of course also have to pay for some online services, but recording and streaming will not be exclusive to Plus subscribers."
hypnosec writes "NVidia has now open-sourced the operating system that powers the gaming console to encourage its modification and further development. Powered by NVidia's homegrown Tegra 4 processor, the console runs Android, which shouldn't surprise many as the company moves ahead with its open-sourcing intentions. The GPU company has said that the SHIELD is an 'open gaming platform' that allows for 'an open ecosystem,' enabling developers to develop content as well as applications that takes advantage of the underlying hardware and which can be enjoyed on bigger displays as well as mobile screen." Playing with it isn't without risks (like potentially voiding the warranty), but NVIDIA's blog post says they're also providing a recovery image to fall back to.
Guspaz writes "In a surprising move that in retrospect makes a lot of sense, Oculus VR has announced that John Carmack will be joining the company full-time as CTO. Carmack also tweeted that his time division would be 'Oculus over Id over Armadillo. Busy busy busy!'" From the press release, quoting John Carmack: "I have fond memories of the development work that led to a lot of great things in modern gaming — the intensity of the first person experience, LAN and internet play, game mods, and so on. Duct taping a strap and hot gluing sensors onto Palmer's early prototype Rift and writing the code to drive it ranks right up there. Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today; probably by people reading this message. It's certainly not there yet. There is a lot more work to do, and there are problems we don't even know about that will need to be solved, but I am eager to work on them. It's going to be awesome!"
Rick Zeman writes "Those of us of a certain age recall The Oregon Trail with fondness as the pioneering educational game that had the audacity to make learning fun! This article takes a look at the history behind the game, even going back to its initial text-based offering, showing how some programming magic pulled a generation of kids together. Quoting: '[F]or two weeks, the roommates holed up in a former janitor’s closet at Bryant Junior High School, where the school’s teletype was stored, and spent their evenings programming. Using Rawitsch’s historical knowledge, Heinemann and Dillenberger developed a series of algorithms, punching hundreds of lines of code into the teletype. But just because they created the program didn’t mean they could breeze through it. When Heinemann tried The Oregon Trail for the first time, he died of pneumonia midway!'"
jones_supa writes "QuakeCon 2013 is running full tilt. John Carmack kicked off his speech by addressing the 'elephant in the room,' discussing the arrival of a new console generation to a crowd of attendees at the largely PC-focused event. He's optimistic about the coming console cycle, commenting that it's 'obviously going to be a good thing for gamers, developers, and an excellent thing for AMD.' John said he hasn't run quite enough tests on the hardware for the two consoles, but said they're both 'very close, and very good.' In his traditional long talk (watch on YouTube), Carmack also commented on Microsoft's always-on Kinect, its recently reversed DRM policies for the upcoming Xbox One, the death of optical media, and the state of handheld gaming."
The EFF posted a biting response to yesterday's Ninth Circuit ruling that heavily weights celebrities' right to privacy, and construes that right very broadly. From the EFF summary of the case: "The plaintiff, Sam Keller, brought the case to challenge Electronic Art (EA)'s use of his likeness in its videogame NCAA Football. This game includes realistic digital avatars of thousands of college players. The game never used Keller’s name, but it included an avatar with his jersey number, basic biographical information, and statistics. Keller sued EA claiming that the game infringed his right of publicity — an offshoot of privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness and/or identity for commercial purposes. ... Two judges on the panel found that EA’s depiction of Keller was not transformative. They reasoned that the 'use does not qualify for First Amendment protection as a matter of law because it literally recreates Keller in the very setting in which he has achieved renown.'" The piece later notes that this reasoning "could impact an extraordinary range of protected speech."
rescendent writes with news that the Wii U still isn't selling very well. From the article: "Nintendo's Wii U console sold only 160,000 units worldwide during the past three months, with the company blaming a lack of first-party releases for the poor performance. Software sales for the system were just 1.3 million units. During the period Nintendo sold 90,000 Wii U consoles in Japan, 60,000 in the US and only 10,000 in Europe and Australia." El Reg reports that the Wii sold 210,000 units in the same quarter. On the bright side, Nintendo is once again profitable.
An anonymous reader writes "Today, Nvidia officially releases the SHIELD. After an unexpected delay last month, the company dropped the price of its hotly-anticipated handheld gaming system from $350 to just $300. Sporting a 5-inch 720p touchscreen attached to an XBox-style controller, the SHIELD is the first serious Android-based handheld gaming device. The SHIELD is also the first major device top ship with Nvidia's new Tegra 4 SoC. But the potentially killer feature of the SHIELD is its ability to steam heavy-duty PC games from your desktop right into your hands. Right now the selection of PC games is pretty scarce, with just 21 titles to choose from so far, though Nvidia promises more to come. Tom's Hardware just posted an exhaustive review of the Nvidia SHIELD, which includes demos of both Android gaming and PC streaming, display and battery testing, plus the usual bevy of performance tests versus the Tegra 3-based Nexus 7 (2012), the new Nexus 7 carrying a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, the iPhone 5, and a Wintel tablet with the Atom Z2760. Tegra 4 presents nearly four times the performance of Tegra 3, and leaves most of its competition in the dust. However, it also means that Nvidia is now the only ARM competitor without an OpenGL ES 3.0 implementation on the horizon, making Nvidia's new position as top dog quite uncertain."