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How Much Detail Is Too Much For Games? 201

jones_supa writes "Gamasutra editor Eric Schwarz gives thought to the constantly increasing amount of graphical detail in computer games. He notes how the cues leading the player can be hindered too much if they drown in the surroundings, making it harder for the game to hint whether the player is making progress. Consistent visual language helps to categorize various objects, making their meaning more obvious. Paths through the game world can be difficult to read simply due to dense vegetation. For some cases 'obfuscation through detail' can also actually work really well. Schwarz challenges us to ponder how the amount of detail makes a game either more or less enjoyable."

Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Blows Past Kickstarter Goal 122

Virtual reality headsets have historically been very disappointing. While the concept has been fun and interesting, the technological realities never quite lived up to expectations, and hardware developers largely gave up on research into this kind of device. However, it's been long enough that display technology has caught up to our ambitions. So, where are our VR headsets? Well, hobbyist Palmer Luckey asked that same question, and when he couldn't find a good answer, he decided to build one himself. He and his team have built a prototype, and they just launched a Kickstarter campaign to distribute developer kits. The campaign blew past its $250,000 goal in hours. What's interesting about this particular campaign is that Palmer took the Oculus Rift to various development studios and managed to get enthusiastic endorsements from some big names, including Cliff Bleszinski, Gabe Newell, and John Carmack.

Valve Removes Right For Class Action Claims From EULA 270

trawg writes "Valve has joined the list of companies that have altered their terms and conditions to prevent users from filing a class action suit. Their official statement says that such claims 'impose unnecessary expense and delay' and are 'designed to benefit the class action lawyers.' In its stead, they've added a new arbitration process, in which Valve will reimburse costs (under certain circumstances) when dispute resolution can't be solved through their normal support process."
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars: The Old Republic Adding Free-To-Play Option In November 135

EA and BioWare announced today that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be getting a free-to-play option later this year. Players using the F2P option will be able to reach the level cap and play through the full class stories, but their access will be limited for other parts of the game; they will only be able to play a certain number of Warzones (their PvP battlegrounds), Flashpoints (their instanced dungeons), and space missions each week. Access to travel functionality and the game's auction house will be limited as well. F2P players won't be able to participate in Operations, the end-game raids. Subscribers will retain access to all of these features. There will also be cosmetic items sold through the 'Cartel Market' using a virtual currency.
Classic Games (Games)

ScummVM 1.5.0 'Picnic Basket' Released 65

YokimaSun writes "Fans of classic graphical point-and-click adventure games, will be happy to learn that a new version of ScummVM has been released with support for new games such as 'Once Upon A Time: Little Red Riding Hood,' 'Backyard Baseball 2003,' 'Blue Force,' 'Darby the Dragon,' 'Dreamweb,' 'Geisha,' 'Gregory and the Hot Air Balloon,' 'Magic Tales: Liam Finds a Story,' and more. ScummVM not only supports Windows, Linux and new platforms such as iPhone and Android but also consoles such as Dreamcast, Gamecube and Nintendo 64 and rarer handhelds such as Openpandora and Dingoo."

Ask Slashdot: Are The Days of Homebrew Gaming Over? 181

Croakyvoice writes "A few years ago the Homebrew community went from one console to another releasing some excellent software, from the Days of the Dreamcast the first breakthrough homebrew console, to the PSP which gave us the first handheld Nintendo 64, GBA and PSX emulators on a handheld. The last few years we have seen Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and Apple all bring out means to thwart homebrew development. The app store on both Android and iOS have taken many homebrew devs over to try and break the market. The major consoles have so many firmware updates that the days of Homebrew seem to be numbered, is there a way back for the Homebrew Community?"
NES (Games)

Legend of Zelda NES Nintendo Prototype On Sale For $150K 114

YokimaSun writes "Following on from Last months Mega auction of rare games that went for a staggering 1.2 Million dollars, comes another auction. This time its of the only Legend of Zelda Nes Prototype cartridge in the world, bundled with it is a sealed copy of the retail version of the game, those of you excited by this news will have to dig deep because the price is set at a mouthwatering US $150,000.00."

Ubisoft Uplay DRM Found To Include a Rootkit 473

An anonymous reader writes "It has been discovered that the Uplay system Ubisoft uses to both check a game is legal and offer up gaming achievements, multiplayer, and additional content, actually contains a rootkit. The discovery was made by Tavis Ormandy, an information security engineer at Google, when he installed Assassin's Creed: Revelations on his laptop. He noticed that during the installation Uplay installed a browser plug-in that allows any website to gain access to your machine through a backdoor and take control of it.The plug-in can be classed as a rootkit because it is thought to allow continued privileged access to a machine without a user's consent."
Update: Ubisoft has released a statement saying it has issued a forced patch to correct the flaw in the browser plug-in for the Uplay PC application.
GNU is Not Unix

How Will Steam on GNU/Linux Affect Software Freedom? 580

rms has published his thoughts on Steam coming to GNU/Linux. He notes that the availability of proprietary games may very well help spread GNU/Linux (but the FSF prioritizes spreading software freedom). And, you're better off at least having a Free operating system instead of Windows: "My guess is that the direct good effect will be bigger than the direct harm. But there is also an indirect effect: what does the use of these games teach people in our community? Any GNU/Linux distro that comes with software to offer these games will teach users that the point is not freedom. Nonfree software in GNU/Linux distros already works against the goal of freedom. Adding these games to a distro would augment that effect." Or: How will the FOSS community affect Valve? Already they've contributed a bit to the graphics stack, hired a few folks from inside the community, etc. But Steam also makes use of DRM and distributes software in ways that are opposed to the ideals of many in the FOSS community (and even the wider Free Culture community). Given Gabe Newell's professed love for openness, might we see their company culture infiltrated?

The Fall of 38 Studios 172

An anonymous reader writes "Boston magazine provides the first reasonably satisfying account of the final year of Curt Schilling's video game company 38 Studios, which was heavily subsidized by a huge loan guaranteed by the state of Rhode Island. During his career as a baseball pitcher, Schilling helped lead three different teams to four World Series, resulting in three championships. He has so far been much less successful as a video game CEO; although he has some of the stereotypical qualities of a successful entrepreneur (passion, energy level, optimism, selling ability), his company seemed utterly lacking in controls, while facing a very tough industry and economy. Schilling apparently regrets the decision to bet the company on an MMO game, but otherwise seems to accept little blame for the demise. His company burned more than $133 million over six years, mostly for headcount, according to an analysis of public documents by Providence TV station WPRI."

GameStop Wants To Sell Secondhand Digital Download Video Games 123

MojoKid writes "GameStop makes a killing selling used videogames, but what happens to that business model when digital distribution platforms run physical media out of town? That's not anything to worry about today, tomorrow, next week, or even next year, but at some point, GameStop will have to deal with the direction the games industry is headed, and it may already have a solution. GameStop CEO Paul Raines recently brought up the possibility of reselling used digital downloads."

John Romero's Doomy View On Android and Ouya 375

An anonymous reader writes "Romero is willing to give Ouya the benefit of the doubt, but he sees it filling a niche for neither gamers nor developers. 'I think it's cool that they're making a platform, but it's not really the answer that's coming from Apple about the next generation of consoles. Developers really want to invoke the spirit of the Apple II, Android isn't the operating system with which to do it,' Romero said. 'There are two platforms: [iOS] makes money [and] is still very programmable, like the Apple II, and then the other is Android, which is a piracy platform, and you're not doing anything new with it.'"

Predicting Color Blindness, ADD, or Learning Disorders From Game Data 65

An anonymous reader tips a story at VentureBeat about a company that helps game developers analyze data gathered from their games to detect cheaters. But now, the company says this data can also be used to determine other traits of the players, like whether they're minors, or whether they like to gamble. Their CEO, Lukasz Twardowski, expects such analysis will soon be able to reveal even more traits, like whether a player is color blind, has a developmental disorder, or has Alzheimer's disease. "'Games are the richest and the most meaningful form of human-computer interaction. ...By tracking how they play games, we can learn a lot about people,' Twardowski explained. Hesitatingly, he added: 'That will be a huge responsibility for us later on.' ... Academics have begun to take games more seriously, as a window into the human psyche. Games are addictive and immersive and are built to command hours of our time and attention. What better testbed for myriad psychological and medical conditions? A good game pushes us to our limits, challenging us to use both the analytical and intuitive sides of our brain.

OnLive Coming To Ouya Android Console 52

Earlier this month, we discussed a Kickstarter project for Ouya, and Android-based gaming console in development by a company of the same name. Their fundraising campaign was wildly successful, and now they've partnered with cloud gaming provider OnLive for the console's launch. (Which is somewhat unexpected, because OnLive already sells its own pseudo-console.) In the same post, the Ouya creators showed their most recent design for the console's controllers.