Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
An anonymous reader writes "Valve has just released its February, 2013 Steam Hardware & Software Survey, and the results are absolutely mind blowing. Linux is now standing strong as a legitimate gaming platform. It now represents 2.02% of all active Steam users." That's in keeping with what new submitter lars_doucet found. Lars writes: "I'm an independent game developer lucky enough to be on Steam. Recently, the Steam Linux client officially went public and was accompanied by a site-wide sale. The Linux sale featured every single Linux-compatible game on the service, including our cross-platform game Defender's Quest. .... Bottom line: during the sale we saw nearly 3 times as many Linux sales of the game as Mac (Windows still dominated overall)."
silentbrad writes "Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, posted a blog entry titled 'Nickels, dimes, and quarters' yesterday, advocating that gamers dissatisfied with the current trend toward DLC and microtransactions should vote with their wallets. Quoting: 'The video game industry is just that. An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you're welcome to spend your money on whatever you please or to refrain from spending that money. ... Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been. Never mind the ratio of the hours of joy you get from a game per dollar compared to film. To produce a high quality game it takes tens of millions of dollars, and when you add in marketing that can get up to 100+ million. ... I've seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They're a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are "nickel and diming them." They're raging at "big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money." I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy." I think it's bulls*** that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong. ... If you don't like EA, don't buy their games. If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple. ... The market as I have previously stated is in such a sense of turmoil that the old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. "Free to play" aka "Free to spend 4 grand on it" is here to stay, like it or not. ... People like to act like we should go back to "the good ol' days" before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers. Those games were designed to make you lose so that you had to keep spending money on them. Ask any of the old Midway vets about their design techniques. The second to last boss in Mortal Kombat 2 was harder than the last boss, because when you see the last boss that's sometimes enough for a gamer. ... If you don't like the games, or the sales techniques, don't spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Computer games are big business, with millions of players and billions of dollars in revenue every year. But that popularity puts game studios in a tough spot, especially when it comes to mobile games that need to serve their players a constant stream of updates and rewards. That pressure is leading to an interesting phenomenon: while IT companies that create more 'serious' software (i.e., productivity apps, business tools, etc.) are often viewed as cutting edge, it might be game developers actually doing the most innovative stuff when it comes to analytics, cloud and high-performance computing, and so on. Broken Bulb Studios, Hothead Games, and some other studios (along with some hosting companies) talk about how they've built their platforms to handle immense (and fluctuating) demand from gamers."
nk497 writes "Scientists from Cancer Research UK are working with Amazon, Facebook and Google to design and develop a mobile game aimed at speeding up the search for new cancer drugs. The first step is for 40 computer programmers, gamers, graphic designers and other specialists to take part in a weekend "GameJam" to turn the charity's raw genetic data into a game format, with a working title of GeneRun. 'We're making great progress in understanding the genetic reasons cancer develops. But the clues to why some drugs will work and some won't are held in data that needs to be analysed by the human eye — and this could take years,' said Carlos Caldas at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Institute. 'By harnessing the collective power of citizen scientists we'll accelerate the discovery of new ways to diagnose and treat cancer much more precisely.'"
drew30319 writes "NPR reports that a team of researchers at the University of Rome required a group of surgical residents to play video games on a Nintendo Wii for an hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks resulting in 'statistically better' performance than a control group for laparoscopic skills. The study includes some interesting stats (e.g. while the control group showed a 10% improvement in accuracy, the Wii-playing group's accuracy improved by 83%). The study's authors add that '[t]he Nintendo Wii may be adopted in lower-budget Institutions or at home by younger surgeons to optimize their training on simulators before performing real procedures.'"
MojoKid writes "Let's get one thing clear up front. Crysis 3's graphics are absolutely stunning. Crytek's latest game doesn't raise the bar — it annihilates it. At the highest settings, Crysis blows Battlefield 3 out of the water, makes mincemeat of Max Payne, and makes the original Crysis — itself a graphics powerhouse — look more like the first Call of Duty. Crysis 3 really is that stunning, provided that you've got the graphics card to handle it. Like the first game, this title is capable of bringing even a high-end card to its knees. Everyone who worked in the artistic departments at Crytek, from character animations to texturing, deserves an award. The people who wrote the game's plot, on the other hand, don't. The game's design and some poor pacing decisions completely undermine what should be its greatest selling point. Crysis 3 could've been a great game but it feels like a science experiment. How much poor gameplay will players suffer through in exchange for utterly amazing graphics?"
Deathspawner writes "Using a mobile device to control an application on a PC, media player or video game console, isn't too uncommon, but it is when the content being controlled is a game. Just how possible would it be to play a fairly fast-paced game on your PC via your mobile device? Google wanted to find out, so it crafted a game called Super Sync Sports, where you control an athlete on your desktop or notebook via controls on your phone or tablet. To make a game like this possible, Google turned to WebSockets for real-time collaboration between two devices, HTML5 for the audio, Canvas for the graphics, and CSS3 for the styling and transitions." It appears that it routes your controls through the Internet rather than locally. Something like this over bluetooth or wifi with a shared touch screen might be cool for electronic board games.
skade88 writes "Ars is reporting that Blizzard will announce a new game on March 22, 2013 at PAX East. They say the new game is not a sequel or expansion. Blizzard is also saying the new game is not the long rumored MMO named Titan. Considering that every game Blizzard released since 1998 has had the name StarCraft, Warcraft or Diablo in it, this is big news. Ars speculates in the article that the new game could be Blizzard's version of a DOTA game. They showed off Blizzard All-Stars at BlizzCon 2010 as a SC2 custom map. It could be ready for launch as its own standalone game. I guess we will have to wait and see!"
An anonymous reader writes "Develop reports on comments from Blake Jorgensen, Electronic Arts' Chief Financial Officer, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference. As you may have guessed from the name of the conference, the business aspect of EA was the topic. Jorgensen said, 'The next and much bigger piece [of the business] is microtransactions within games. ... We're building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be, and consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.' This is particularly distressing given EA's recent implementation of microtransations in Dead Space 3, where you can spend money to improve your weaponry."
kube00 writes "The Wii U has been struggling as of late. Even Nintendo has admitted sales haven't been as high as they would like. So what went wrong? Is this just a fluke? Will the Wii U recover and bounce back? Will the PS4 and the next 360 come out the door and leave the Wii U in the dust? GoozerNation takes a look at some of the NPD's and speculates on what it all means."
An anonymous reader writes "Stephen Totilo at Kotaku has a long article detailing the exploits of an Australian hacker who calls himself SuperDaE. He managed to break into networks at Microsoft, Sony, and Epic Games, from which he retrieved information about the PS4 and next-gen Xbox 'Durango' (which turned out to be correct), and he even secured developer hardware for Durango itself. He uncovered security holes at Epic, but notified the company rather than exploiting them. He claims to have done the same with Microsoft. He hasn't done any damage or facilitated piracy with the access he's had, but simply breaching the security of those companies was enough to get the U.S. FBI to convince Australian authorities to raid his house and confiscate his belongings. In an age where many tech-related 'sources' are just empty claims, a lot of this guy's information has checked out. The article describes both SuperDaE's activities and a journalist's efforts to verify his claims."
An anonymous reader writes "A slightly different take on Sony's PS4 semi-launch this week. This article traces the history and growing trend of capturing/recording and streaming your gameplay on the internet, from the early days of Let's Play articles with screenshots to today, where pro-gamers make money by playing live on Twitch.tv, and the technology is built into the PlayStation 4: 'Multiplayer video games have been around since the beginning — just look at Pong. Sony's real breakthrough with the PS4 might not be the specs, but its ability to turn every game you play into a multiplayer one.'"
An anonymous reader writes "For a while now, John Carmack has been pushing to bring virtual reality technology back to the gaming world. VR was largely abandoned over a decade ago when it became apparent that the hardware just wasn't ready to support it. In 2013, things are different; cheap displays with a high pixel density and powerful processors designed for small systems are making virtual reality a... reality. One of the last obstacles to be conquered is latency — the delay between moving your head and seeing your perspective change in the virtual world. In a lengthy and highly-technical post at #AltDevBlogADay, Carmack has outlined a number of strategies for mitigating and reducing latency. With information and experience like this being shared with the game development community at large, it shouldn't be long until VR makes a permanent place for itself in our gaming lives."
An anonymous reader writes "Quenching some rumors 'Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has told Eurogamer that PlayStation 4 will not block the use of second-hand games, contrary to various reports, speculation and even a Sony patent unearthed last month.'"
New submitter Nyder writes "In a move that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of kids everywhere, Connecticut State Senator Toni Harp proposed a bill in January that would ban anyone younger than 18 from playing 'violent point-and-shoot' video games in arcades or other public establishments. 'The bill also called for research into the effects of violent video games on young minds, through a committee called the Violent Video Game Task Force within the Department of Children and Families. The task force would advise the Governor and General assembly on state programs that "may reduce the effects of violent video games on youth behavior," suggesting before the research was done that violent video games have an effect on children's actions.' Hopefully this won't pass; I guess the video game lobby hasn't paid this Senator enough 'funds' for her campaign."
As many expected, Sony has officially announced the PS4 at the Sony PlayStation Meeting today. The new PlayStation will have an X86 processor, "state of the art" GPU, 8 GB of high-speed unified memory, and a hard drive for local storage. The PS4 will allow gamers to share their gameplay stream and even remotely take control of friend's games. Along with the PS4, Sony has unveiled a new DualShock 4 controller which features a built-in touchpad at the center of the controller, and a built-in microphone jack.
An anonymous reader writes "Whether or not you're an owner of Microsoft's Xbox 360, chances are you find the Kinect accessory intriguing, since you don't even need the company's console to use it. That's why there's so much excitement surrounding the console's successor, codenamed Durango: it will feature Kinect 2.0, the specifications for which allegedly leaked today. The new device will reportedly be able to track players with a height of one meter, feature a mode for both seated and standing players, detect hand states (such as open or closed), as well as extra and rotated joints. As for improved features, it will be able to supposedly track six rather than two active players, occluded joints, and sideways poses. This will all be possible thanks to an increased field of vision, 1920×1080 color stream, 512×424 depth stream, an added infrared stream, USB 3.0, and 60ms latency."
William Volk may not be the world's oldest game designer, but he's up there. He started out as a play tester for Avalon Hill in 1979, and since then has worked for Activision and other major players in the game space. His current job is with PlayScreen, where he's working on their Word Carnivale iOS game, which is not violent at all. But over the years Volk has worked on slightly violent video games and has watched public outcries over video game violence since 1976. He's also tracked how much less violence we've seen since lead was removed from gasoline. (Editorial interjection: Aren't most remaining pockets of massive gun violence in cities where many poor kids grow up in apartments that have lead paint?) Due to technical problems during the interview, some of the conversation is missing, primarily about the recent spate of multiple murders. It seems, for instance, that Newtown shooter Adam Lanza was heavily into violent video games, which is sure to spark plenty of new discussion about how they affect players. But then again, as Volk reminded me in an email, "If people were influenced by video games, a majority of Facebook users would be farmers by now," a meme that has been floating around Facebook since last year, if not earlier.
alancronin writes "Similar to Fabien Sanglard's previous code reviews of other games such as the Quake and Doom line of games comes a review of the code base of Duke Nukem 3D (split out over 4 pages). This will be a very good read for anyone interested in understanding the mechanics of a highly addictive game or anyone that wants to learn more about game design."
After a laborious judging process, the Liberated Pixel Cup has finally announced the winners of the code contest. Out of the 48 entries, Lurking Patrol Comrades (now Source of Tales), a "MMORPG with a vast world, plenty of characters to speak to, both a melee and a magic based battle system, and a polished user interface," won the grand prize. The best HTML5 game was Big Island, written in Dart and playable directly from Github. The art prizes were given last August in case you missed it. Congratulations to everyone who participated!