First time accepted submitter ubrgeek writes "Popular game Minecraft has hit the big time: It's being sued for infringement by patent troll Uniloc who claims the game infringes a patent it holds on copy protection software. Developer Markus 'Notch' Persson sounds like he's up for the challenge: 'Unfortunately for them, they're suing us over a software patent. If needed, I will throw piles of money at making sure they don't get a cent.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
theodp writes "In 1999, TIME's cover warned readers to Beware of Pokemon ('For many kids it's now an addiction: cards, video games, toys, a new movie. Is it bad for them?'). But Pokemon wasn't as easily felled as Lehman or Bear Stearns. Thirteen years later, 16-year-old Manoj Sunny has his eye on a Pokemon world title, having earned the chance to travel to The Big Island with 35 fellow Americans for the 2012 Pokemon Video Game World Championships, which will be held Aug. 10-12. Sunny, who also captains his school's chess team, credits his success to a good memory, intuition, daily practice, the use of an online simulator, and a competitive attitude ('I hate losing. Once I lost, I needed to get better.')"
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Valve's Linux team that's still growing has found much interest in open-source graphics drivers. Intel Linux graphics driver developers and Valve's Linux team were meeting for the past week to look at each other's code, work out performance goals, and collaborate on new features. Ian Romanick of Intel blogs, 'The funny thing is Valve guys say the same thing about drivers. There were a couple times where we felt like they were trying to convince us that open source drivers are a good idea. We had to remind them that they were preaching to the choir. :) Their problem with closed drivers (on all platforms) is that it's such a blackbox that they have to play guess-and-check games. There's no way for them to know how changing a particular setting will affect the performance. If performance gets worse, they have no way to know why. If they can see where time is going in the driver, they can make much more educated guesses.' Perhaps the companies are paying attention to Linus Torvalds' memo to NVIDIA?"
wasimkadak sends this quote from Ars: "Developer Phil Fish knows there's a problem preventing some people from enjoying his Xbox 360 puzzle platformer Fez as intended. But he's not going to fix it, thanks to what he says is an exorbitant fee of 'tens of thousands of dollars' that Microsoft would charge to re-certify the game after a needed patch. The issue started on June 22, when Fish released a patch intended to fix some outstanding gameplay and performance issues with Fez. That patch gave rise to new problems for some players, though, by causing their save files to appear as corrupted, in effect erasing their progress through the game. Microsoft pulled the initial patch for the game mere hours after it first went up, to prevent the bug it contained from spreading too far." Another article covering the story suggests this situation is simply a mis-match between an indie-dev's expectations and the realities of a curated gaming platform.
Speaking to Eurogamer, art maestro (and visual design director of upcoming stealth/action game Dishonored) Victor Antonov put into words what many gamers have been feeling about the gaming industry of late: "It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry. There have been too many sequels, and too many established IPs that have been ruling the market. And a lot of them are war games. And they're great projects and great entertainment, but there's a lack of variety today. So, when you step out of this established genre, people cannot grasp it, or the press tries to find a match. ... We were always waiting for the next generation of great worlds or great graphics. Well, great graphics came; the worlds that came with these graphics are not up to the level of the graphics. ... Games should sort of split up and specialize and assume that there's such a thing as genre, and they shouldn't try to please everybody at the same time and try to make easy, diluted projects. Let's go for intensity and quality."
CowboyNeal writes: "Last week I wrote about the fluid nature of modern game development and how that often impacts both game reviews and purchases. Given the recent announcement of the release of Alien Arena: Reloaded, I decided it warranted a fresh look, to see how the free shooter has aged. Read on for the rest of my review of Alien Arena: Reloaded."
SmartAboutThings writes "A newly discovered patent shows that Microsoft might be interested in developing virtual controllers for tablets and smartphones. A while ago, it didn't quite make sense why Microsoft would need such a piece of technology, but with the announcement of their Surface tablet, it suddenly takes on a new perspective." I think a few board games (Catan comes to mind) would be pretty playable on a moderately-sized, shared touch surface, with everyone's phone acting as their hand.
DavidGilbert99 writes "Jolla Mobile's MD, Jussi Hurmola has confirmed that its first smartphone will be backed up by an app store at launch later this year — pointing out that a version of Angry Birds is already available on MeeGo. And really, all you need to make an app store successful is Angry Birds, right?" The interview from which the article is sourced has more information on Jolla's general strategy, including their plans to become "a major player."
Mike Mearls is the Senior Manager for the Dungeons and Dragons Design Team. He's been with D&D publishers Wizards of the Coast (a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 2005, Before that he was a free-lance game writer and designer. In this conversation with Slashdot editor Rob "samzenpus" Rozeboom, he talks about changes in the latest version of D&D and how the company interacts with players. (We'll have some more chat with Mike next week, different wizard time, same wizard channel, so stay tuned.)
Metacritic has risen to a position of prominence in the gaming community — but is it given more credit than it's due? This article delves into some of the problems with using Metacritic as a measure of quality or success. Quoting: "The scores used to calculate the Metascore have issues before they are even averaged. Metacritic operates on a 0-100 scale. While it's simple to convert some scores into this scale (if it's necessary at all), others are not so easy. 1UP, for example, uses letter grades. The manner in which these scores should be converted into Metacritic scores is a matter of some debate; Metacritic says a B- is equal to a 67 because the grades A+ through F- have to be mapped to the full range of its scale, when in reality most people would view a B- as being more positive than a 67. This also doesn't account for the different interpretation of scores that outlets have -- some treat 7 as an average score, which I see as a problem in an of itself, while others see 5 as average. Trying to compensate for these variations is a nigh-impossible task and, lest we forget, Metacritic will assign scores to reviews that do not provide them. ... The act of simplifying reviews into a single Metascore also feeds into a misconception some hold about reviews. If you browse into the comments of a review anywhere on the web (particularly those of especially big games), you're likely to come across those criticizing the reviewer for his or her take on a game. People seem to mistaken reviews as something which should be 'objective.' 'Stop giving your opinion and tell us about the game' is a notion you'll see expressed from time to time, as if it is the job of a reviewer to go down a list of items that need to be addressed — objectively! — and nothing else."
An anonymous reader writes "We recently talked about the 'Ouya' console — a conceptual Android-based gaming device that's had a massively successful Kickstarter campaign. While most people are excited about such a non-traditional console, editorials at 1Up and Eurogamer have expressed some more realistic skepticism about the claims being made and the company's ability to meet those claims. Quoting: 'Even if we set aside the issue of install base, one of Ouya's selling points could make developers wary of investing in it. Through the pitch video and on the Kickstarter page, Ouya emphasizes the ability to root the system and hack it without fear of voiding the warranty. With a standard USB port and Bluetooth support, it will be possible to use controllers and peripherals with it other than the one it comes with. What this also opens the door for is piracy and emulation. No doubt a chunk of the audience interested in Ouya are those intrigued by the idea of having a box that hooks up to a TV and can run Super Nintendo or Genesis emulators. Others will look at the system's open nature as an invitation to play its games for free; if it's as open as advertised, it should not be difficult to obtain and run illegally downloaded copies of Ouya games.' Ouya CEO Julia Uhrman has responded to the skepticism, saying, 'Ouya will be just as secure as any other Android-powered device. In fact, because all the paid content will require authentication with Ouya's servers, we have an added layer of security. Hacking and openness are about getting what you want to do with the hardware. Rooting the device won't give you any more access to the software.'"
New submitter oakgrove writes "Valve Software confirmed today in a new blog devoted specifically to Steam on Linux (called Steam'd Penguins) that for more than a year, a Steam client has been in the works for Ubuntu Linux 12.04. 'We've made good progress this year and now have the Steam client running on Ubuntu with all major features available. We're still giving attention and effort to minor features but it's a good experience at the moment. In the near future, we will be setting up an internal beta focusing on the auto-update experience and compatibility testing.' The blog post also says that a working port of Left 4 Dead 2 is currently playable, and that their goal is to bring performance in line with the Windows version."
Justus writes "Posts at NeoGAF and IGN show that a quickly-removed Origin advertisement for Medal of Honor: Warfighter reveals plans for Battlefield 4 and a new-game cost of $70. With Battlefield 3 DLC promised through 2013 and PC games cheaper than ever with things like the Steam Summer Sale, are gamers ready to buy Battlefield 4 at next-gen pricing?"
An anonymous reader tips this news from IndieDB: "Alien Arena: Reloaded Edition has been released. This is a major release of this game, with many new features, and a veritable truckload of new high quality content. Every aspect of the game has been improved upon and expanded, from the engine, to the game code, weaponry, and overall gameplay. Some of the new features for this release include: Many new rendering features; Twelve new/rebuilt levels; Two new player characters, the Overlord and Warrior; Brand new 'super' weapon, the Minderaser; Improved antilag code; "Simple" items rendering option; Improved and expanded movement; Improved Bot AI, particularly with CTF; New music, and music 'shifts' in game situations; and a variety of bug fixes and code cleansing. Alien Arena is free to download, free to play, and the code is open sourced, and that will never change."
An anonymous reader writes "Valve Software, in their Linux Steam / Source Engine effort, plus the rumored Steam Box, is continuing to hire top Linux developers. So far they have poached the lead developers of the DarkPlaces open-source engine used by Nexuiz/Xonotic, the founder of Battle for Wesnoth, and just yesterday they hired Sam latinga, creator of Simple DirectMedia Layer. According to Michael Larabel, they are still trying to hire more Linux kernel developers, driver experts, and other 'extremely talented Linux developers.'"