MrSeb writes "Taylor Valtrop, an enterprising roboticist with a penchant for kitties, has crafted the mother of all Kinect (and Wiimote!) hacks: The teleoperation of a robot to groom a cat. Using a Nao, a $15,000 robot; a treadmill (for moving the robot forward); a head-mounted display (to see what the robot sees); Kinect (for tracking his movements); and two Wiimotes (to move the robot's hands), Valtrop is able to pat a cat with surprising accuracy and gentleness (except for where he accidentally hits the cat in the face)."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
MojoKid writes "When an advance copy of Crysis 2 leaked to the Internet a full month before the game's scheduled release, Crytek and Electronic Arts (EA) were understandably miffed and, as it turns out, justified in their fears of mass piracy. Crysis 2 was illegally download on the PC platform 3,920,000 times, 'beating out' Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with 3,650,000 illegal downloads. Numbers like these don't bode well for PC gamers and will only serve to encourage even more draconian DRM measures than we've seen in the past."
An anonymous reader writes to point out this interesting outgrowth of Google's Native Client: a Google engineer has ported MAME 0.143 to the browser-based platform, and written about the process in detail, outlining the overall strategy employed as well as specific problems that MAME presented. An impressive postscript from the conclusion: "The port of MAME was relatively challenging; combined with figuring out how to port SDL-based games and load resources in Native Client, the overall effort took us about 4 days to complete."
hypnosec writes "The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has begun updating its Battlespace2 and other simulations to bring them in line with commercial wargames like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Andrew Poulter heads up the technical team behind the war-game and said that while back in the '80s and '90s, military simulations were state of the art, today they have fallen far behind commercial alternatives in terms of graphics and plot. With that in mind, the MoD has been investing heavily in what's known as 'Project Kite' (knowledge information test environment), designed to bring the training software to the forefront of military shooters. Some of this is down to the current generation of new recruits having been raised on shooter titles from both the Call of Duty and Battlefield series. This means they've gotten used to high-quality first-person shooter games. Taking a step down in graphics and immersion is hardly a way to train a soldier how to react in certain situations."
First time accepted submitter nzyank writes "The other day I bravely (foolishly?) volunteered to conduct a video game development workshop at my boys' HS. This in Smallsville, Vermont with an average graduating class size of about 20. The idea is to meet once a week and actually create a game, start to finish. It will be open to would-be programmers, designers, artists, etc. I worked on a bunch of AAA titles back in the '90s, but I'm pretty much out of touch nowadays and I'm trying to figure out the best approach. The requirements are that it has to be one of either Windows/XBox or Android, since those are the platforms that I am current on. It has to be relatively simple for the kids to get up and running quickly, and it needs to be as close to free as possible. Teaching them to use stuff like Blender, C#, C++, Java, XNA, OpenGL and the Android SDK is probably a bit much. I was thinking of something like the Torque Engine, but they want $1000 for an academic license, which is never going to happen. I simply don't know what's out there nowadays and could really use some suggestions."
theodp writes "In the world of virtual goods, reports GeekWire's Todd Bishop, it looks like there's no such thing as a Second Amendment. According to a forum post by an Epic Games community manager, a new policy will remove 'gun-like' items from Microsoft's Xbox Live Avatar Marketplace on January 1. The policy reportedly applies to accessories for the avatars that represent Xbox Live users, not to games themselves, and owners of virtual weaponry like the Gears of War 3 Avatar Lancer purchased before the policy goes into effect will be permitted to continue to wield them."
Freddybear writes "A study of online gamers in the Steam community finds that those who are friends with cheaters are more likely to begin cheating themselves. From the article: 'First up, cheats stick together. The data shows that cheaters are much more likely to be friends with other cheaters. Cheating also appears to be infectious. The likelihood of a fair player becoming labelled as a cheater in future is directly correlated with this person's number of friends who are cheaters. So if you know cheaters, you are more likely to become one yourself. Cheating spreads like flu through this community. Finally, being labelled as a cheat seems to significantly affect social standing. Once a person is labelled as a cheat, they tend to lose friends. Some even cut themselves off from friends by increasing their privacy settings.'"
donniebaseball23 writes "Amazon's entry into the tablets market has gone probably even better than they expected. And now the Kindle Fire is quickly becoming a viable games platform. Developers have come out in force to lavish praise on the Fire for its price and ease of use. 'People are fired up about Fire because they know it's part of a service they already use and trust,' said Josh Tsui, president of Robomodo. 'It becomes effortless to buy and use because it does not make them break their usual buying patterns. It enhances it.' Added Igor Pusenjak, president of Lima Sky: 'In many ways, the best thing about Fire is that you barely feel it's an Android device. Amazon built its own closed-system OS on top of Android.'"
New submitter Etrahkad writes "Trion Worlds, publisher of MMORPG Rift, has announced that somebody broke into one of their databases and gained access to user information. First Sony and now Rift... my identity has probably been stolen several times over, now. From the e-mail: 'We recently discovered that unauthorized intruders gained access to a Trion Worlds account database. The database in question contained information including user names, encrypted passwords, dates of birth, email addresses, billing addresses, and the first and last four digits and expiration dates of customer credit cards. ... there is no evidence, and we have no reason to believe, that full credit card information was accessed or compromised in any way." Are game companies not concerned with preventing these attacks?"
MojoKid writes "Rumors of AMD's Southern Island family of graphics processors have circulated for some time, though today AMD is officially announcing their latest flagship single-GPU graphics card, the Radeon HD 7970. AMD's new Tahiti GPU is outfitted with 2,048 stream processors with a 925MHz engine clock, featuring AMD's Graphics Core Next architecture, paired to 3GB of GDDR5 memory connected over a 384-bit wide memory bus. And yes, it's crazy fast as you'd expect and supports DX11.1 rendering. In the benchmarks, the new Radeon HD 7970 bests NVIDIA's fastest single GPU GeForce GTX 580 card by a comfortable margin of 15 — 20 percent and can even approach some dual GPU configurations in certain tests." PC Perspective has a similarly positive writeup. There are people who will pay $549 for a video card, and others who are just glad that the technology drags along the low-end offerings, too.
Ian Bogost is a professor of game theory at Georgia Tech, a game designer, a prolific writer, an entrepreneur, and a bit of a prankster. These roles which sometimes overlap, notably in his surprise success satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker, which you can think of as the Anti-Zynga. Wired has a fresh article up about Bogost (which cleverly embeds a sort of micro version of Cow Clicker). It also mentions another game — my favorite of his projects — that should be on the mind of every TSA employee, the 2009 release Jetset. Ask Ian about clicking cows, being an academic provocateur as well as a participant in the world of gaming, and breaking into the world of social gaming. (Please break unrelated questions into multiple comments.)
Bill Currie writes "After many years, QuakeForge 0.6.0 has finally been released, just in time for the 12th anniversary of the release of the Quake source code. Happy birthday, GPL Quake. Merry Christmas, Quake fans." The release page shows a few 0.5.99 beta releases made starting earlier this month, the first since 2004. Sometime in that void of time development moved to git, and there has quite a bit of work going on in the main tree.
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like the Australian Government's move to introduce a new R18+ classification for adult video games hasn't yet taken force, with video game maker EA confirming today that its reboot of the classic Syndicate series has been banned in Australia due to extreme violence. Left 4 Dead, Mortal Kombat and now Syndicate — what game will be banned next in Australia is anybody's guess."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Examiner: "In a grand dose of irony today, Sony was sued over a term in the PlayStation Network's End User Agreement that states that users cannot sue Sony. These terms were added in September, after a long string of Sony hacks (the official count is that Sony got broken into 17 times in a space of about 2 months), which included a massive outage of the PlayStation Network itself. The suit that was filed today is a class action suit for all of those who bought a PS3 and signed up for the PSN before the September update to the EULA. The suit also claims that this is a unfair Business practice on Sony's part, and requires users to forgo their rights in order to use the device that they purchased."