An anonymous reader writes "As a product of the 90s I grew up loving the classics that kids today know about from Wikipedia and pop-culture references. Games like Super Bomberman, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country I and III (II was a sellout, come on) are the foundations of my childhood memories. Now, though, as a fourth-year electrical engineering major, I find myself increasingly impressed by the level of technical difficulty embedded in that 16-bit console. I am trying, now, to find a resource that will take me through the technical design of the SNES (memory layout, processor information, cartridge pin layouts/documentation) to get a better understanding of what I naively enjoyed 15 some years ago. I am reaching out to the vast resources available from the minds of the Slashdot community. Any guide/blog series that you know of that walks through some of the technical aspects of the, preferably, SNES (alternatively, NES/Nintendo 64) console would be much appreciated."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Conway's Game of Life is now forty two years old, but it continues to inspire as well as being the basis of an actively researched field, with computer scientists now announcing they have found a new form of the famous 'glider' pattern (once suggested by Eric S Raymond as the insignia of computer hackers) that runs over a so-called Penrose universe."
An anonymous reader writes "One of Activision's last RTS games, Dark Reign 2, has gone open source under the LGPL. Although the release by a former Pandemic Studios employee was some time ago, it had happened relatively silently. With the source code now available, it is hoped that online play that isn't dependent on WON servers will be implemented and possibly ports to other platforms."
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from geek.net on the release of PCSX2, a GPLed emulator for the PS2: "PCSX2 is a free PS2 emulator for the PC that has been in development since the year 2000 and managed to reach version 1.0 last week. As an emulator it's an impressive piece of work, boasting compatibility with over 73 percent of games, which is some 1,697 titles. It can offer up graphics beyond what the original hardware was capable of, achieving resolutions up to 4096 x 4096 with anti-aliasing and texture filtering. You can save games, record video as you play, use a range of controllers, and even adjust game speed if you so wish. Of course, you'll need a fast machine to run PS2 games at a decent speed, but the spec is still reasonable. It's recommended you have at least a Core 2 Duo running at 3.2GHz, or a Core i5 at 2.66GHz+. As for graphics cards, a GeForce 9600GT or Radeon HD 4750 is desirable." Grab it while it's hot (official binaries and source). Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be packaged for any GNU/Linux distros (Debian has packages of the predecessor to PCSX2, PCSX: Reloaded which, naturally, emulated the Playstation).
Rick Zeman writes "CNN has an expose showing that in South Korea, the world's most wired country, Internet gaming breeds two extremes: elite 'athletes' who earn fame and six figures, and addicts who literally play until they die and tells the stories of players on both sides of that real-life divide. From the article: 'The first thing you notice about the professional video game players are their fingers — spindly creatures that seem to flail about at their own will, banging at the computer keyboard with such frequency and ferocity that to visit their live-in training centers in South Korea is to be treated to a maddening drum roll of clicks and clacks.'"
silentbrad writes "GameStop's bosses are obviously tired of hearing about how used games are killing gaming, about how unfair they are on the producers of the games who get nothing from their resale. One astonishing stat is repeated by three different managers during presentations. 70 percent of income consumers make from trading games goes straight back into buying brand new games. GameStop argues that used games are an essential currency in supporting the games business. The normal behavior is for guys to come into stores with their plastic bags full of old games, and trade them so that they can buy the new Call of Duty, Madden, Gears of War. GameStop says 17 percent of its sales are paid in trade credits. The implication is clear — if the games industry lost 17 percent of its sales tomorrow, that would be a bad day for the publishers and developers.'"
First time accepted submitter FractalFear writes "15 years ago I was programming in BASIC, and doing some C++, after a serious car accident barely making it out alive, my memory went to crud. I have no recollection of how to do anything in either of those languages any more. I've suffered some damage, and my memory isn't all that great. However if I do repetitive work it sticks to me. I've been in IT for 17 years as desktop support, and I fear I won't ever get much further in life due to my handicap. I am hard working and dedicated, I have been reading slashdot regularly for many years now, and I have faith in the Slashdot community advice. I recently bought Head First C#: 2nd Edition(A friend of mine that programs for a living suggested C# as an easier alternative to C++) the first 4 chapters were great, but after that everything just didn't make any sense. My question(s) to you guys is: What was the best way for you to get back into programming? School? Self taught? And what would be the best language for someone like me to get into? My goal is to make games as a hobby for now, but would like to enter into the market of XBOX Arcade, Steam, mobile etc, particularly 2D TBSRPG games like Shining Force. If you prefer self taught what are some really good books you suggest?"
mikejuk writes "A pair of computer scientists from the Babes-Bolyai University (Romania) and the University of Notre Dame (USA) have made some remarkable connections between Sudoku, the classic k-SAT problem, and the even more classic non-linear continuous dynamics. But before we go into the detail let's look at what this means for Sudoku enthusiasts. Maria Ercsey-Ravasz and Zoltan Toroczkai have devised a scale that provides an accurate determination of a Sudoku puzzle's hardness. So when you encounter a puzzle labelled hard and you find it easy, all you need to do is to compute a co-efficient that measures the hardness of the problem. An easy puzzle should fall in the range 0-1, medium ones in 1-2, hard ones in 2-3, and for ultra-hard puzzles, 3+, with the hardest puzzle, the notorious Platinum Blond, being top of the scale at 3.6. We will have to wait to see if newspapers and websites start to use this measure of difficulty. The difficulty is measured by the time it takes the classical dynamics corresponding to the problem to settle in the ground state and this depends on the degree of chaos in the search for a solution (PDF)."
New submitter junkrig writes "After a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, Jordan Weisman, creator of Shadowrun, has returned to bring the series back to the screen as Shadowrun Returns; an old-school, turn-based tactical RPG. Their successful initial fundraising (over $1.8 million) allowed them to commit to developing a native Linux version of the game. A second team, working closely with Weisman, now hopes to bring a similar, turn-based Shadowrun game to life: Shadowrun Online. To be built with the Unity 4 engine, Shadowrun Online will be massively multiplayer and have native Linux support from the start — assuming, of course, they manage to fund their project. Both games are expected for release in 2013."
Duggeek writes "There's been a lot of discussion lately about Valve, Steam and the uncertain future of the Windows platform for gaming. While the effect of these events is unmistakably huge, it raises an interesting question: Would Valve consider putting out its own Linux distro? One advantage of such a dedicated distro would be tighter control over kernel drivers, storage, init processes and managing display(s), but would it be worth all the upstream bickering? Would it be better to start anew, or ride on a mature foundation like Fedora or Debian? Might that be a better option than addressing the myriad differences of today's increasingly fracturing distro-scape?"
dartttt writes "John Carmack recently presented a keynote at QuakeCon. He said Linux is still not a commercially viable gaming platform, and the two forays they have made into the Linux commercial market have not been successful. Valve's announcement about Steam for Linux changes things a bit, but it remains a tough sell."
The Liberated Pixel Cup draws to a close. The deadline for code entries was July 31st, and those entries were posted online Thursday (with descriptions). You'll have to wait longer than expected for the results though: "Note that due to the larget volume of entries (48 code entries alone, plus a large number of art entries), judging may take longer than we had originally thought. Our current time frame for judging is the end of August. We'll keep people posted on our progress." Good luck to all the entrants. Anyone see anything interesting in the submitted games?
Social game developer Zynga has been on the receiving end of complaints in the past for releasing games that look a bit too much like games from indie developers, and for other shady business practices. Now, they've run afoul of somebody with sharper teeth. Today Electronic Arts and Maxis filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Zynga claiming that The Ville is "blatant mimicry" of The Sims Social. "'This is a case of principle,' says EA Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw. 'Maxis isn't the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it. Infringing a developer's copyright is not an acceptable practice in game development.' In its complaint, EA argues that Zynga willfully and intentionally copied ideas from The Sims Social, the Facebook edition of the EA/Maxis franchise that released in August 2011. When Zynga released The Ville last June, consumers and the press immediately pointed out that the title resembled The Sims more than a little."
This week the sequel to last year's indie hit Orcs Must Die! was released, and I take a look at it, to see what's new, what's still the same, and if it's worth playing. The orcs are back, and again, they must die! Orcs Must Die! 2 provides an ample amount of ways to off the orcs, both old and new, and several new features. Click the link to read more to see my thoughts on this game.
MrSeb writes "In a twist that reinforces Valve's distaste for Windows 8, it turns out that the Source engine — the 3D engine that powers Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead, and Dota 2 — runs faster on Ubuntu 12.04 and OpenGL (315 fps) than Windows 7 and DirectX/Direct3D (270.6 fps); almost a 20% speed-up. These figures are remarkable, considering Valve has been refining the Source engine's performance under Windows for almost 10 years, while the Valve Linux team has only been working on the Linux port of Source for a few months. Valve attributes the speed-up to the 'underlying efficiency of the [Linux] kernel and OpenGL.' But here's the best bit: Using these new OpenGL optimizations to the Source engine, the OpenGL version of L4D2 on Windows is now faster than the DirectX version (303.4 fps vs. 270.6 fps). If OpenGL is faster, and it has a comparable feature set, and hardware support is excellent... why is Direct3D still the de facto API? With Windows losing its gaming crown and smartphones (OpenGL ES!) gaining in popularity, is it time for an OpenGL revolution?"