An anonymous reader writes "Timothy Zahn, one of the most influential Star Wars Expanded Universe authors (creator of Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade), and writer of 40 novels and 90+ short stories, will be trying his hand as the Creative Director for a new video game, Timothy Zahn's Parallax. From the Kickstarter page: 'The game concept is heavily inspired by the original Master of Orion but, because Timothy Zahn is the co-creator, a major focus is going to be on making sure that each alien race is as fully-realized as possible, and that the interactions with the other aliens are realistic: talking to one alien race will be different than talking to another, and the choices you make in the game will have side effects and the computer players will remember them — and treat you differently because of them.' Other highlights: 'The game will include at least 5 of his non-Star Wars alien races (Modhri, Kalixiri, Zhirrzh, Qanska and Pom); Backers will be active participants in the game creation process; No Digital Rights Management foolishness.' The Kickstarter starts at 6pm MST today."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Deathspawner writes "Valve has today announced its next attempt at a console-killer: 'Family Sharing' is a feature that will allow you to share your Steam library with family and close friends. This almost seems too good to be true, and while there are caveats, this is going to be huge, and Valve knows it. As Techgage notes, with it you can share nearly your entire Steam library with family or friends, allowing them to earn their own achievements, and have their own saved games. 'Once a device is authorized, the lender's library of Steam games becomes available for others on the machine to access, download, and play. Though simultaneous usage of an account’s library is not allowed, the lender may always access and play his games at any time. If he decides to start playing when a friend is borrowing one of his games, the friend will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.'"
jfruh writes "When Sony announced the PS Vita TV yesterday, most observers saw it as competition for the Apple TV and Roku, or maybe the Ouya. But gaming writer Peter Smith views it differently; he thinks that remote play, including the ability to stream games from the upcoming PlayStation 4 console, will be the Vita TV's killer-app. In that sense, it isn't so much a low-cost replacement for casual gamers as an add-on to the high-end PS4. '[W]hen you're in the middle of a game and someone wants to watch TV, you can just grab a Vita and keep on playing. (This is similar to the popular "tablet play" feature of Nintendo's Wii U, without the Wii U's limitation of having to stay in close proximity to the base console.) ... For any Playstation 4 household with more than one TV I think the PS Vita TV will become a 'must-have' accessory; it's almost like getting a second PS4 for $100.'"
New submitter Johnny G. Mills writes "During a gamejam (an event to quickly develop and build an interesting game), two members of Sassybot Studio used a projector, Microsoft Kinect, and two moving boxes to create a simulator for defusing a bomb. They used me as a test subject, and thought Slashdot would enjoy this convergence of tech and gaming. 'The wires generated in Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013 are created procedurally to provide the player with a random challenge each time the game is played. ... The controls in the game are split up into physical input and Xbox controller input. With physical input the player moves around the bomb to see what is happening. This is literally done by walking around the real environment ... In our case we projected onto cardboard boxes to prove the concept. In theory this concept can be applied to larger and more unconventional objects. Doing so will challenge the game designer with utilizing the real space in order to create a game in virtual space.'"
Dave Knott writes "Sony today announced the PS Vita TV box. Measuring 6.5cm by 10.5cm, it can play Vita games on your television, stream content via HDMI or wirelessly, and play all the existing PlayStation Network content available on the standard Vita platform. This is seen by some analysts as an attempt by Sony to compete with such devices as the Ouya and Apple TV. The PS Vita TV is so far announced for a Japan-only release in early 2014 at a price of approximately $100 US. In related news, Sony also announced a lighter, slimmer, more colorful iteration of the standard Vita handheld console." The $100 model does not come with a controller; a $150 model was also announced that will include a Dualshock 3 and an 8G memory card.
An anonymous reader writes "GamePolitics reports that the Postal Regulatory Commission has ordered [PDF] the U.S. Postal Service to equalize the rates paid by mailers who send round trip DVDs, and concluding (sort of) a dispute that has been underway for more than four years. The new postage rates take effect on September 30th. Some mailers, prominantly Netflix, send their round-trip movie DVDs as 'letters,' but GameFly's gaming disks are sent in slightly bigger envelopes as 'flats' to avoid breakage, and so GameFly has paid a much higher postage rate. GameFly argued that this was unfair discriminatory treatment because USPS was providing special hand-sorting treatment for Netflix disks without charging Netflix for the extra handling. But now there's a new twist: the Postal Service wants to reclassify DVD mailing [PDF] as a competitive product, where the prices would not be limited by the rate of inflation, because it says that mailed DVDs compete with the internet, streaming services, and kiosks such as Redbox. The regulatory agency is accepting responses [PDF] from interested persons until September 11th to the Postal Service's latest comments on its request [PDF]."
Dave Knott writes "Microsoft announced today that its upcoming Xbox One console will launch later this year on November 22 in 13 territories, including Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States. This is exactly one week after the announced street date for Sony's PlayStation 4, ending speculation about whether Microsoft would try to launch ahead of their closest rival's next-generation console. It is also the same day that the Xbox 360 launched in 2005." The supply of pre-order consoles is mostly exhausted already.
New submitter MeatoBurrito writes "The latest iteration of Mechwarrior was crowdfunded (without Kickstarter) as a free-to-play first-person mech simulator. However, despite promises to the founders, the game has been shifted to a third-person arcade shooter and now the community is rioting. This followed a series of other unpopular decisions; the developers decided to sell an item for real money that had a significant impact on gameplay, crossing the line separating cosmetic/convenience items and 'pay-to-win.' Then they added a confusing game mechanic to limit its use, which had the unfortunate side effect of making some strategies completely useless. From the article: 'PGI’s community practices showcase a fundamental misunderstanding of both freemium development and community management. The developer has never had to deal with such a large player base before, and it has never had to deal with the strains of continuous development before. Rather, PGI seems to be handling Mechwarrior Online in much the same way they might a AAA game: by keeping quiet and only discussing its work in vague terms. ... Mechwarrior Online’s road to launch is a cautionary consumer tale, fraught with anger and betrayal. It shows how a company can take a fan base dedicated to an old IP and completely alienate it through lack of communication, unpopular features, and oathbreaking. It shows how players need to be cautious of supporting a project based solely on the IP backing it.'"
The launch of the new SimCity back in March made headlines for the problems caused by the game's always-online DRM. EA Maxis even decided that people who bought the game early deserved a free game for their trouble. They also decided to postpone the launch of the Mac version of the game. Well, the delay is over; SimCity has arrived for Macs, and players are now facing a whole new set of installation and launch problems. "Those issues include a 'mutexAlert' error, which can be resolved by switching the OS to English. Another simply doesn't allow a player to install the game once downloaded. The suggested solution for that is to re-install Origin and opt in to the new Beta version. The game also apparently doesn't currently support Mac OS X 10.7.4 nor the upcoming 10.9 beta release." There are also reports that the game won't function on high-resolution display settings.
barlevg writes "A new paper is out in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence which shows no positive correlation between playing violent video games and acts of aggression. The study of 377 children with attention deficit and depressive symptoms in fact showed a slight negative correlation between video game-playing and aggressive behavior such as bullying, which the researchers posit is due to the games awarding some measure of catharsis. The full paper is available online (PDF)."
Today Nintendo announced a new handheld gaming console called the 2DS. It will play all games from the DS and the 3DS, but games from the latter will be shown in 2-D (essentially as if the 3DS's depth slider was turned all the way down). The 2DS abandons the clamshell design of the earlier handhelds; instead, the device is a slightly wedge-shaped tablet with two small LCD screens — thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom. "It's a design that seems calculated to reduce manufacturing costs and durability issues, but it also seems fated to make the system nearly impossible to fit inside most pants pockets. The buttons and controls that were on the bottom half of previous DS and 3DS systems are now shifted toward the top, so you can reach the shoulder buttons that now rest above the top screen. This means you grip the 2DS from the sides rather than supporting it from the bottom with the corners resting in palm of your hand, like previous DS models." Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said the new console is target at younger children, as the 3DS is recommended for players age 7 and up. It's also cheaper than the other models at $130.
An anonymous reader writes "Kickstarter's helped start all sorts of indie games, but few as unusual as Lacuna Passage, an adventure game set on Mars with a vast open world that's been painstakingly recreated from NASA satellite data. You're able to explore twenty five square miles of the Red Planet in all its barren glory as you attempt to solve the mystery of the first, vanished, manned mission to mars. A new piece today on the making of the game — which is being made by an elementary school teacher and a team of a dozen volunteers — looks at how it came about, and why their quest for authenticity led to even urine analysis being included in the gameplay."
Lemeowski writes "Game studios go to great lengths to protect their IP. But board game designer Daniel Solis doesn't subscribe to that philosophy. He has spent the past ten years blogging his game design process, posting all of his concepts and prototypes on his blog. Daniel shares four things he's learned after designing games in public, saying paranoia about your ideas being stolen "is just an excuse not to do the work." His article provides a solid gut check for game designers and other creatives who may let pride give them weird expectations."
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."