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?
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."
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."
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.'"
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.
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.
the_newsbeagle writes "The annual computer poker competition has just wrapped up, in which artificial intelligences battled each other over the (virtual) Texas Hold 'Em table. A researcher who worked on one of the top programs, the University of Alberta's "Hyperborean" program, has blogged about this year's competition and entrants for IEEE Spectrum. His first post explains the rules of the game and why it's tougher for a computer to win at poker than at chess; his second post describes Hyperborean's strategies, and the third gives the results and takes stock of Hyperborean's performance."
An anonymous reader writes "Gabe Newell wants to support Linux because he think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in PC space. He wants to move away from a closed ecosystem of Microsoft Windows 8. He recently made a rare appearance at Casual Connect, an annual videogame conference in Seattle. From the allthingsd article: 'The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior. We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It's a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.' Some Linux users think that this is a win-win situation for Linux users as it will brings good game titles on the Linux system that haven't been there and it will protect steam business model from both Apple and Microsoft."
New submitter JestersGrind writes "Blizzard has announced that Mists of Pandaria, the latest expansion of the popular World of Warcraft MMO, will be launched on September 25, 2012 and can be pre-ordered now." The game page has a good deal of information about the new expansion. The level cap is increased to 90, there is a new race (Pandaren) and a new class (Monk), and the talent system has been completely redesigned. They've added Challenge Modes for dungeons, which normalizes player gear and lets them compete to see who can clear it the fastest. The MMO-Champion website keeps track of all the minor details, if you're interested.
An anonymous reader writes "Leading developer Chris Stevens tells Edge magazine that neuroscience researchers will soon find 'non-violent triggers to mimic the rush of pleasure gamers feel when firing guns.' Researchers can now use functional MRI scanners to monitor what is going on in a player's brain and search for more optimistic and non-violent pleasure triggers. 'For decades it's as if developers have been driving a car with no speedometer,' Stevens claims, referring to the reliance on reported emotions rather than empirical measurements in game development. The functional MRI now gives a much more accurate indication of when peaceful triggers light up the brain's pleasure regions, opening up alternative game designs, without crude weaponry. 'I would like to see many more beautiful games like Fez and Limbo,' Stevens says. 'When I was a kid, games were more beautiful and magical and immersed you in fantastical, peaceful and enjoyable landscape.' The functional MRI could make these peaceful titles provably superior — no mean feat in a mass-market games industry currently obsessed with the crude dopamine-triggering effects of simulated weaponry."
hypnosec writes with news of a curious way of fighting piracy. From the article: "Android based devices are being activated at the rate of million a day and users are downloading apps and games at a rate never seen before. Despite these promising stats, developers of Android based games and apps are not really keen on porting games and apps that have been successful on iOS to Android. Why? Rampant piracy on Android! Madfinger Games has joined the long list of developers who have recently turned their paid Android based game, Dead Trigger, to a free one. Originally priced at $0.99 on Play Store, the first person shooter game is now available for free . The iOS version of the game still costs $0.99 and hasn't been made free." Zero-cost, but certainly not Free Software; one has to wonder whether Open Source games with a "donation" build in the store would do better than proprietary games with upfront costs.
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.'"
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?"