An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times has a story about the imminent release of Battlefield 4 on 29 October, as it's one of the most highly-anticipated video games of the year. The most interesting part of the article is where it highlights what a mammoth undertaking such 'AAA' games have become. There are hundreds upon hundreds of people working full time on it, and hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in its development. These number have been rising and rising over the years; how big do they get before it becomes completely unfeasible to top your last game? The article also points out that the PC platform is beginning to wane in popularity. Nobody's quite sure yet whether it'll level out or go into serious decline, but you can bet development studios are watching closely. With bigger and bigger stakes, how long before they decide it's not worth the risk? Even consoles aren't safe: 'Electronic Arts is nevertheless trying to extend franchises like Battlefield to devices, because it must. But at the same time, it has to grapple with the threats undermining traditional gaming. Though the classic consoles are getting reboots this fall, there is no guarantee that new models will permanently revive the format's fortunes.' And of course, the question must be asked: do we even want the 'AAA' games to stick around?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
jones_supa writes "If you want to find the computer geniuses of tomorrow, you could do worse than to check out which kids are playing Minecraft. In a Google+ post, the Google Quantum A.I. Lab Team says that they've released a mod called qCraft to enable kids (and adults) to play around with blocks that exhibit behaviors like quantum entanglement, superposition and observer dependency. qCraft obviously isn't a perfect scientific simulation, but it's a fun way for players to experience a few parts of quantum mechanics outside of thought experiments or dense textbook examples. The team doesn't know the full potential of what you can make with the mod, but they are excited to see what Minecraft's players can discover."
barlevg writes "A college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spent nine months meticulously remaking Super Mario Bros. based on the latest web standards. His project is open source and the code freely available through Github. The site recently gained widespread media attention, which unfortunately brought it to the attention of Nintendo, which has requested that the site be taken down. In a column on the Washington Post website, tech blogger Timothy Lee makes the case for how this is a prime example of copyrights hindering innovation and why copyright lengths should be shortened. Among his arguments: copyrights hinder innovation by game designers seeking to build upon such games, and shortening copyright would breathe new life into games who have long since passed into obsolescence."
vivIsel writes "Cyan, the company behind Myst, is taking another shot at an game in that vein — this time in a new game universe, with the Unreal 4 engine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they haven't gotten a lot of traction with traditional game publishers, so they are turning to Kickstarter with a $1.1M total ask. The Kickstarter video also has some neat shots of the Cyan headquarters — which looks a bit like one of the buildings on Myst island itself."
New submitter gamersunited writes with news of Blizzard Entertainment's defeat of another company that created bot software to automate World of Warcraft characters. Ceiling Fan Software faces a judgment of $7 million, and must disable any active licenses for the software. They're also forbidden from transferring or open-sourcing the bot software, and from facilitating its continued use in any way. The court order (PDF) follows more than two years of legal wrangling. Blizzard won a similar judgment a few years ago against another bot company called MDY Industries, which created the popular Glider bot.
MojoKid writes "EA took the wraps off Battlefield 4 this past week, offering players a chance to try an early beta. AMD has also been talking up Battlefield 4 in combination with their new Radeon R series line with a vengeance, highlighting the features of its new Mantle API and close partnership with DICE, Battlefield 4's developer. Sometimes, enough modest changes evolve into an entirely new product, and when you factor in the tessellation improvements, terrain deformation, Mantle API support, enhanced audio cues, and better particle effects, that's what BF4 is shaping up to be. And it appears likely the game is going to be a premiere title across all of the current and future consoles plus PCs. Battlefield 4 is going to be closely watched for a number of reasons; Mantle performance, comparisons between the Xbox 360 / PS3 and Xbox One / PS4 versions, and, of course, on its own merits."
itwbennett writes "Until now Sony has done a pretty good job of keeping future Playstation 4 owners happy. But last week they finally hit a rock when Game Informer posted an article about headset compatibility. At launch, USB headsets that work with the PS3 won't work with the PS4. Sony says that eventually there will be a system update that addresses the problem but for now, even your Sony-branded USB headset won't work. If you use a Bluetooth headset (as most PS3 owners do) the news is even worse. Bluetooth headsets will not be supported and no update is planned to address this. ITworld's Peter Smith is shedding a tear for his $250 Turtle Beach PX5 headset."
dryriver writes with an except from Polygon's interview with DICE creative directory Lars Gustavsson, who says it would only take one "killer" game for Linux to break into mainstream gaming (something some would argue it already has): "We strongly want to get into Linux for a reason," Gustavsson said. "It took Halo for the first Xbox to kick off and go crazy — usually, it takes one killer app or game and then people are more than willing [to adopt it] — it is not hard to get your hands on Linux, for example, it only takes one game that motivates you to go there." "I think, even then, customers are getting more and more convenient, so you really need to convince them how can they marry it into their daily lives and make an integral part of their lives," he explained, sharing that the studio has used Linux servers because it was a "superior operating system to do so." Valve's recently announced Steam OS and Steam Machines are healthy for the console market, Gustavsson said when asked for his opinion on Valve's recent announcements."
First time accepted submitter Gavrielkay writes "We seem to have attracted the attention of some less than savory types in online gaming and now find our home network relentlessly DoSed. We bought a new router that doesn't fall over quite so easily, but it still overwhelms our poor little DSL connection and prevents us web browsing and watching Netflix occasionally. What's worse is that it seems to find us even if we change the MAC address and IP address of the router. Often the router logs IPs from Russia or Korea in these attacks (no packet logging, just a blanket 'DoS attack from...' in the log. But more often lately I've noticed the IPs trace back to Microsoft or Amazon domains. Are they spoofing those IPs? Did they sign us up for something weird there? And how do they find us with a new MAC address and IP within minutes? We're looking for a way to hide from these idiots that doesn't involve going to the Feds, although that is what our ISP suggested. Piles of money for a commercial grade router is out of the question. We are running antivirus and anti-malware programs and haven't seen any evidence of hacked computers so far."
An anonymous reader writes "Neal Stephenson's ambitious sword fighting Kickstarter Clang has run into financial troubles, and part of the reason is down to new controller that was required — the extra investment reportedly scared away investors. Sometimes though, games can help usher in a whole new type of controller, and create new ways to play. From Pong's easy dials, which helped bring the video game into the home, to Ape Escape's twin thumbsticks and Doodle's Jump savvy use of the accelerometer on the iPhone, some games have hit the critical mass necessary to establish a new input as a way to play. So what's next?"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Ville Tapio runs a private psychiatry center in Helsinki, and psychiatrists had told him they were reluctant in particular to hand out drugs for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD drugs are psychostimulants, they are frequently abused, and kids can be prescribed them young and kept on a regimen for years. Tapio had an idea to do it better. His alternative? Getting people with mental health concerns to play video games. They're special video games, of course — ones that can change how your brain works, with a technique loosely termed gameified neuroplasticity therapy."
beckman101 writes "Two years ago the Gameduino brought retro-style gaming to the Arduino. This week its successor launched on Kickstarter, still fully open-source but with a video that shows it running some contemporary-looking demos. Plus, it has a touch screen and a pretty decent 3-axis accelerometer. Farewell to the retro?"
mattydread23 writes "Most gamification efforts fail. But when DirecTV wanted to encourage its IT staff to be more open about sharing failures, it created a massive internal game called F12. Less than a year later, it's got 97% participation and nearly everybody in the IT group actually likes competing. So what did DirecTV do right? The most important thing was to devote a full-time staffer to the game, and to keep updating it constantly."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) wants developers to consider building "virtual consequences" for mayhem into their video games. 'Gamers should be rewarded for respecting the law of armed conflict and there should be virtual penalties for serious violations of the law of armed conflict, in other words war crimes,' read the ICRC's new statement on the matter. 'Game scenarios should not reward players for actions that in real life would be considered war crimes.' Like many a concerned parent or Congressional committee before it, the ICRC believes that violent video games trivialize armed conflict to the point where players could see various brands of mayhem as acceptable behavior. At the same time, the ICRC's statement makes it clear that the organization doesn't want to be actively involved in a debate over video-game violence, although it is talking to developers about ways to accurately build the laws of armed conflict into games. But let's be clear: the ICRC doesn't want to spoil players' enjoyment of the aforementioned digital splatter. 'We would like to see the law of armed conflict integrated into the games so that players have a realistic experience and deal first hand with the dilemmas facing real combatants on real battlefields,' the statement continued. 'The strong sales of new releases that have done this prove that integrating the law of armed conflict does not undermine the commercial success of the games.'"
The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus, and their success elevated the status of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North to the point that further games are still hotly anticipated more than 15 years later. In an effort to discover and document that part of gaming history, author David L. Craddock conducted extensive interviews with early Blizzard developers. His intent was to investigate how both of the Blizzard studios succeeded at breaking into a saturated and competitive industry, and how their design process influenced both their acclaimed releases and the projects they discarded along the way. He's writing a series of books about the history of Blizzard, titled Stay Awhile and Listen. The first is due out on October 31st, and David has agreed to answer your questions about his investigation into those early games. David will be joined by Blizzard North co-founders David Brevik and Max Schaefer. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
MojoKid writes "Among the various SNAFUs and PR misfires related to the Xbox One release earlier this year, one item that had people upset was that Kinect would be used for advertising--or worse, that the Xbox One Kinect was actually designed with advertising in mind. The source was a UI designer who was expounding the capabilities of the Kinect and how it could be used to deliver interactive ads and used for native advertising. However, Microsoft Director of Product Planning Albert Penello threw cold water on much of it. 'First--nobody is working on that,' he said. 'We have a lot more interesting and pressing things to dedicate time towards.' He also stated that if Microsoft were to engage in something along those lines, users would definitely have control over it, meaning that Kinect would not be spying on you; you would have to engage with Kinect for anything to happen."
An anonymous reader writes "Valve has revealed their first Steam Machines prototype details. The first 300 Steam Machine prototypes to ship will use various high-end Intel CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs while running their custom SteamOS Linux distribution. The Intel Haswell CPU + NVIDIA GPU combination should work well on Linux with the binary drivers. Using a range of CPUs/GPUs in the prototypes will allow them to better gauge the performance and effectiveness. Valve also said they will be releasing the CAD design files to their custom living room console enclosure for those who'd like to reproduce them." Valve is careful to point out that these specs aren't intended as a standard: "[T]o be clear, this design is not meant to serve the needs of all of the tens of millions of Steam users. It may, however, be the kind of machine that a significant percentage of Steam users would actually want to purchase — those who want plenty of performance in a high-end living room package. Many others would opt for machines that have been more carefully designed to cost less, or to be tiny, or super quiet, and there will be Steam Machines that fit those descriptions."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNET reports that Grand Theft Auto Online, the biggest entertainment release of the year with more than $1 billion in annual sales, is having some trouble getting the gamers online. The title, which launched on game consoles Tuesday morning, is experiencing server issues that have locked out some gamers and made it difficult for those who have gotten in to play the game. Fifteen million people purchased the game when it was released last week — and any number of them could play online when that 'perk' becomes available on October 1. 'At a conservative estimate I would expect about two million players to log on to GTA Online within the first 24 hours,' says Keza MacDonald, UK games editor for IGN.com, the video game and entertainment site. 'Rockstar has never done an online game of this scale before, so they are totally unproven in terms of their network infrastructure.' Rockstar, the game's creator, said that it was doing all it could to buy and access servers to accommodate what was expected to be massive demand for its online title. Meanwhile Twitter is abuzz with complaints from gamers who say they can't get into the service."