fplatten writes "I would definitely call this unethical manipulation of the ratings system: the Worst Company in America, EA is routing all ratings made in game of 1 to 4 stars as an email that is sent to EA, but all 5 star ratings are routed to the Google Play store, where its rating is currently 4.3 out of 5."
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Nerval's Lobster writes "A more prominent role in video-game development could prove the latest territory on Amazon's 'attempt to conquer' list. Yes, there's already Amazon Game Studios, which produces smaller games such as Air Patriots (a tower-defense title), but that evidently wasn't enough — Amazon has acquired Double Helix, most notably the developer behind Killer Instinct and other big-action games for PCs and consoles. Amazon confirmed the deal to multiple media outlets, suggesting that it would use Double Helix's developers and intellectual property 'as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.' Why would Amazon want to bulk out its game-creation abilities? Rumors have floated for the past couple weeks (hat tip to Gamespot) that the company is hard at work on an Android-based gaming console that will retail for below $300. Over the past year, it's also hired gaming luminaries such as Halo author Eric Nylund, which it probably wouldn't have done without something big — or at least interesting — in the works. Amazon would doubtlessly position such a device (if it actually becomes a reality) as the low-cost alternative to Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4. But even the cheapest console won't sell without some killer games to attract customers — and that's where Double Helix might come in. ... With Nintendo flagging, there's potentially an opening for a third console ecosystem to take hold."
An anonymous reader writes John Carmack left id Software last year, more than 20 years after he founded the company. There was a lot of speculation as to why, and now an interview at USA Today provides an explanation. Carmack had become Chief Technical Officer for Oculus VR a few months prior, and he was excited about bringing virtual reality gaming into the mainstream. Unfortunately, he couldn't get id Software's parent company, Zenimax, onboard. He'd hoped they would 'allow games he worked on to appear on the Oculus Rift headset. Had the deal been consummated, Wolfenstein: The New Order — an upcoming sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, an early id release — could have been part of the Oculus' tech demonstration that earned raves and awards at the recent Consumer Electronic Show.' Carmack said, 'But they couldn't come together on that which made me really sad. It was just unfortunate. When it became clear that I wasn't going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR while at id software, I decided to not renew my contract.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "USA Today reports that Arthur Chu, an insurance compliance analyst and aspiring actor, has won $102,800 in four Jeopardy! appearances using a strategy — jumping around the board instead of running categories straight down, betting odd amounts on Daily Doubles and doing a final wager to tie — that has fans calling him a 'villain' and 'smug.' It's Arthur's in-game strategy of searching for the Daily Double that has made him such a target. Typically, contestants choose a single category and progressively move from the lowest amount up to the highest, giving viewers an easy-to-understand escalation of difficulty. But Arthur has his sights solely set on finding those hidden Daily Doubles, which are usually located on the three highest-paying rungs in the categories (the category itself is random). That means, rather than building up in difficulty, he begins at the most difficult questions. Once the two most difficult questions have been taken off the board in one column, he quickly jumps to another category. It's a grating experience for the viewer, who isn't given enough to time to get in a rhythm or fully comprehend the new subject area. 'The more unpredictable you are, the more you put your opponents off-balance, the longer you can keep an initial advantage,' says Chu. 'It greatly increases your chance of winning the game if you can pull it off, and I saw no reason not to do it.' Another contra-intuitive move Chu has made is playing for a tie rather than to win in 'Final Jeopardy' because that allows you advance to the next round which is the most important thing, not the amount of money you win in one game. 'In terms of influence on the game,Arthur looks like a trendsetter of things to come,' says Eric Levenson. 'Hopefully that has more to do with his game theory than with his aggressive button-pressing.'"
Robotron23 writes "Rock, Paper, Shotgun writer John Walker shook a hornet's nest by suggesting old videogames should enter the public domain during GOG's Time Machine sale. George Broussard of Duke Nukem fame took to Twitter, saying the author should be fired. In response to these comments RPS commissioned an editorial arguing why games and other media should enter the public domain much more rapidly than at present. 'I would no more steal a car than I would tolerate a company telling me that they had the exclusive rights to the idea of cars themselves.' says Walker, paraphrasing a notorious anti-piracy ad (video). 'However, there are things I'm very happy to "steal," like knowledge, inspiration, or good ideas...It was until incredibly recently that amongst such things as knowledge, inspiration and good ideas were the likes of literature and music.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The South Korean government is reportedly using Microsoft's Kinect motion-based game controller to monitor the heavily guarded DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) that separates the country from North Korea. The brainchild of freelance South Korean developer Jae Kwan Ko, the system is reportedly capable of differentiating between people and animals. (Hat tip to Kotaku, which originally ferreted out the story from South Korean publication Hankooki .) That makes it superior to the infrared systems already in use along the DMZ, which have a harder time determining whether a moving object is human. The Kinect-based system can send alerts of suspicious activity to the nearest military outpost. While the South Korean government reportedly installed the hardware at select portions of the DMZ last year, news about it is only emerging now—and details are relatively scarce, considering how this is a military project. Despite that secrecy, the South Korean government is playing up Jae Kwan Ko's contributions, highlighting him in the local media as an example of innovation and creative drive. Largely self-taught, he makes money by building apps for various mobile platforms—most of which, presumably, have nothing to do with detecting military threats."
Nerval's Lobster writes: "It's no secret that Nintendo faces significant challenges: revenues are down, rival platforms such as Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 are attracting a lot of buzz, and iOS and Android have made significant inroads into mobile gaming. Rather than double down on its core business, however, Nintendo reportedly sees its salvation in new, nongaming segments such as... monitoring your health? 'We have now redefined entertainment to mean making it fun for people to improve the quality of their lives,' Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata told a company strategy meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal. But he refused to part with more detail about Nintendo's plans, except to claim that whatever's in the works isn't a wearable device along the lines of Nike's FuelBand or the FitBit, and it isn't an iteration of the Wii Balance Board, an accessory that measures the user's weight and center of balance while playing games."
itwbennett writes "Yesterday, a story suggesting that Amazon was planning to launch a sub-$300 Android game console made the rounds. A $300 box to play mobile games on your TV? ITworld's Peter Smith doesn't buy it. 'If Amazon is working on some kind of set-top box, it's going to be about streaming,' says Smith. 'Music, video, and games. Remember back in November when Amazon announced G2, a new AWS instance type designed for streaming GPU intensive tasks like games? Combine Amazon's G2 cloud servers and an Amazon set top box for console-like game streaming, plus supporting Android and/or iOS games (possibly the latter would also be streamed), and of course support for Amazon Video and MP3, and we're getting closer to something that may be worth $300.'"
monkeyhybrid writes "Following a tweet from the developer of Maia (a cross platform game soon to hit Steam) that Linux was bringing him more game sales than OS X. Gaming On Linux decided to investigate further by reaching out to multiple developers for platform sales statistics. Although the findings and developer comments show Linux sales to still be sitting in third place, behind those of OS X and Windows, they are showing promise. Developer feedback certainly appears to be positive about the platform's future. With Steam OS on its way, surely leading to more big title releases making their way to the Linux platform, could Linux gaming be set to take the number two spot from Apple?"
Space MMO EVE Online has been providing stories of corporate espionage and massive space battles for years. A battle began yesterday that's the biggest one in the game's 10-year history. The main battle itself involved over 2,200 players in a single star system (screenshot, animated picture). The groups on each side of the fight tried to restrict the numbers somewhat in order to maintain server stability, so the battle ended up sprawling across multiple other systems as well. Now, EVE allows players to buy a month of subscription time as an in-game item, which players can then use or trade. This allows a direct conversion from in-game currency to real money, and provides a benchmark for estimating the real-world value of in-game losses. Over 70 of the game's biggest and most expensive ships, the Titans, were destroyed. Individual Titans can be worth upwards of 200 billion ISK, which is worth around $5,000. Losses for the Titans alone for this massive battle are estimated at $200,000 - $300,000. Hundreds upon hundreds of other ships were destroyed as well. How did the battle start? Somebody didn't pay rent and lost control of their system.
MojoKid writes "Blizzard has released a powerful new suite of tools for Starcraft 2 modders and developers that fundamentally change the nature of what's possible in the popular RTS game. Now, players can use the same architectural and graphics design toolsets that Blizzard has used internally to build new units, tilesets, and models. Furthermore, these tools are now available even with the Starcraft 2: Starter Edition kit. Critically, artists will now be able to incorporate images and effects designed in programs like 3ds Max, Photoshop, or other high-end particle systems. The exciting thing about these releases is that Starcraft 2's modding list is as interesting as the primary game, if not moreso. Fans have faithfully created adaptations of famous Starcraft maps, implemented entirely new rulesets that blend the old, micro-friendly playstyle of Starcraft with the modern engine, and even gone total conversion with Warcraft ported over into the SC2 game."
eggboard writes "Henk Rogers was a Dutchman who arrived in Japan in the 1980s following a girlfriend (later, his wife). An inveterate D&D player, he became enthralled with the NEC-8801, and nearly killed himself trying to create a D&D-like world that he released as The Black Onyx. No one initially knew what to make of it, and the game sold slowly at first. Through savvy pricing, packaging, and press attention, sales grew, and the game jumpstarted RPGs in Japan. Rogers got left behind, though, as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy hit a local nerve better than his efforts. 'I also realized that I didn't quite understand the Japanese aesthetic and way. These games were quite different to mine, and just struck a more effective cultural chord.' Rogers went on to license Tetris to Nintendo, though, so he did just fine."
MojoKid writes "News from gaming insider Pete Doss is that Microsoft is mulling significant changes to the restrictions it places on developers regarding the Xbox One's GPU. Reportedly, some 10% of total GPU horsepower is reserved for the Kinect — 8% for video and 2% for voice processing. Microsoft is apparently planning changes that would free up that 8% video entirely, leaving just 2% of the system's GPU dedicated to voice input. If Microsoft makes this change, it could have a significant uplift on system frame rates — and it's not clear that developers would necessarily need to patch the architecture to take advantage of the difference."
phmadore writes "Version 1.4.0 (.TAR.GZ)of the most intellectually challenging OSS game out there (IMO), OpenTTD (Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe), is near at hand. Of course, most servers are still running 1.3.3 (the last stable, major version change, from November/December-ish). N-Ice.org typically waits until a stable release has been around for a minute to implement the changes into its online client (which is as yet unavailable as a binary for Linux; it varies only slightly from the official release and non-Windows users are able to interface with it no problem), but there are exciting developments coming down the pipe for OpenTTD. 'The new SSE blitters were also further improved. Not immediately noticeable but useful in the future, are the new string codes to display amounts of cargo in NewGRFs. For our Korean users, the separators in numbers were fixed.' Here is some information on the history of OTTD."
MojoKid writes "There's no disputing that Bill Gates is blessed with a brilliant mind. Sure, he dropped out of Harvard College, but he got accepted into the elite institution of higher learning in the first place. Leading into his college career, Gates scored 1,590 out of 1,600 on the SAT. The rest is history — he went on to co-found Microsoft, built a net worth that's in the billions ($76.8 billion at last count), and now spends his time on his philanthropic efforts. Regardless, it took 23-year-old Magnus Carlsen, a "grandmaster" Chess player since the age of 13 and new world Chess champion, just 71 seconds to defeat Gates in a friendly game of Chess on a Norwegian television show. It takes longer to heat up a cup of water in the microwave."
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "A federal judge overturned a jury's multimillion-dollar damage award to the programmer of the original John Madden Football video game on Wednesday, saying there was no evidence that his work was copied for seven years, without credit, by the marketer of later versions of the hugely successful game. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco spared Electronic Arts Inc. from nearly $4 million in damages, plus interest that could have exceeded $7 million. The jury verdict also could have led to larger damages against the company for later versions of the game, which reaped billions of dollars in revenues, if future juries found that those, too, had been lifted from the work of programmer Robin Antonick." Also at Kotaku.
jones_supa sends this AFP report: "Microsoft soared to record revenues in the last quarter, confounding Wall Street forecasts on the back of strong demand for Xbox consoles, Surface tablets and Internet cloud services. The U.S.-based technology titan reported net income of $6.56 billion on revenue that hit a record high of $24.52 billion in the quarter that ended December 31. ... Sales of Surface tablets more than doubled from the previous quarter to hit $893 million, and Microsoft sold 7.4 million Xbox videogame consoles, with 3.9 million of those being new-generation Xbox One. Bing's share of the Internet search market grew to 18.2 percent while its share of the online search ad market grew about a third, according to Microsoft. Meanwhile, money made from selling Windows software to computer makers slid by three percent due to continue soft demand by consumers for personal computers, according to Microsoft."
sfcrazy writes "Valve Software, the makers of Steam OS, is already winning praise from the larger free and open source community – mainly because of their pro-community approach. Now the company is 'giving back' to Debian by offering free subscription to Debian developers. This subscription will offer full access to current and future games produced by Valve. Since Steam OS is based on Debian GNU/Linux it's a nice way for Valve to say 'thank you' to Debian developers."
First time accepted submitter jwpeterson writes "Like chess and go, pentago is a two player, deterministic, perfect knowledge, zero sum game: there is no random or hidden state, and the goal of the two players is to make the other player lose (or at least tie). Unlike chess and go, pentago is small enough for a computer to play perfectly: with symmetries removed, there are a mere 3,009,081,623,421,558 (3e15) possible positions. Thus, with the help of several hours on 98304 threads of Edison, a Cray supercomputer at NERSC, pentago is now strongly solved. 'Strongly' means that perfect play is efficiently computable for any position. For example, the first player wins."
disconj writes "With the 40th anniversary of the release of Dungeons & Dragons coming up this weekend, the Internet is ablaze with reflections on its legacy. Dave Ewalt gives an intro for the uninitiated. Ethan Gilsdorf explains how 'all I need to know about life I learned from Dungeons & Dragons'. Finally, Jon Peterson presents a video show-and-tell of rare artifacts from D&D's development." The real question is how many characters have you lost in Tomb of Horrors?