New submitter DeanCubed writes "In a Nintendo investor meeting, CEO Satoru Iwata confirmed a new Nintendo Network for the company's 3DS and upcoming Wii U game systems. This includes multiple user accounts per console (not tied to hardware, a first for Nintendo) and digitally distributed retail software releases for their online store. Iwata also noted that the Wii U's tablet controller will feature NFC (Near Field Communication) functionality, allowing the ability to use figurines and cards to input visual data to the console. They are hoping to use this to make micro-transactions for paid DLC easier."
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MrSeb writes "An Italian researcher with a penchant for retro games — or perhaps just looking for an excuse to play games in the name of science! — has used computational complexity theory to decide, once and for all, just how hard video games are. In a truly epic undertaking, Giovanni Viglietta of the University of Pisa has worked out the theoretical difficulty of 13 old games, including Pac-Man, Doom, Lemmings, Prince of Persia, and Boulder Dash. Pac-Man, with its traversal of space, is NP-hard. Doom, on the other hand, is PSPACE-hard."
silentbrad writes "Online passes are a recent staple in staving off used sales. Limiting what used buyers can access is a protective measure for publishers, much to the chagrin of parts of the gaming community. Chris Kohler of Wired argues that the death of used games is inevitable, and passes are the first step toward something exactly like a native anti-used game something integrated into consoles. He notes, of course, that digital is the future of buying games, but in the meantime we may be looking at 'an interim period in which the disc as a delivery method is still around but ... becomes more like a PC game, which are sold with one-time-use keys that grant one owner a license to play the game on his machine.' Also at Kotaku, the source for the Wired article (which is the source for the IGN article)."
FrankPoole writes "Indie iPhone game developer Nimblebit is accusing social games giant Zynga of ripping off its popular mobile title Tiny Tower. Nimblebit's Ian Marsh got word out about the similarities between Dream Heights and Tiny Tower with an image that's still making the Twitter rounds. The image is made up of screenshots showing how Dream Heights' interface and gameplay mechanics appear strikingly similar to Tiny Tower's."
pigrabbitbear writes "Remember your first visit to the planetarium? Neil DeGrasse Tyson does — it was what inspired him to become an astrophysicist in the first place. That same planetarium, now under Tyson's direction, is currently undergoing a transformation the likes of which Neil's young self couldn't have possibly imagined: It's becoming a giant videogame."
hypnosec writes "Australia is set to update the age rating system for video games, adding a new 18+ category which should allow for the more violent games to be sold in the country. The current maximum age rating for a console or PC game is 15+. If a title didn't meet the specifications for this age it was denied a rating and was therefore not allowed to go on sale. This didn't necessarily mean the game never hit the shelves, but it could only do if tweaks were made to remove some of the most violent or questionable content. The first parliamentary session in the new year is set for the 7th February — giving the poor fellas a nice long break — where the bill to introduce the new age rating will be voted on by the lower house. If it passes there, it will go on to the senate, which has the ability to pass it into law."
An anonymous reader writes "The Pentagon plans to fork over $32 million to develop 'fun to play' computer games that can refine the way weapons systems are tested to ensure they are free from software errors and security bugs, according to a Defense Department solicitation. The goal is to create puzzles that are "intuitively understandable by ordinary people" and could be solved on laptops, smartphones, tablets and consoles. The games' solutions will be collected into a database and used to improve methods for analyzing software, according to the draft request for proposals put out by the military's venture capital and research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."
donniebaseball23 writes "As a follow-up to his piece on Xbox 720, veteran games journalist Chris Morris has put together some thoughtful advice on what Sony needs to do (and needs to avoid) to ensure that the next generation PlayStation is a success. In particular, Morris notes that Sony must 'look beyond games' to create a fully fledged entertainment hub: 'Nintendo has been pretty adamant that it has little interest in content beyond games. Microsoft seems to be rushing to embrace the set top box world. Sony, though, seems a bit confused about what it wants.'"
New submitter Man Eating Duck writes "Guru3D describes how the activation system in Ubisoft's RTS game Anno 2070 also tracks hardware changes: 'So yesterday I started working on a performance review. We know (well, at least we figured we knew), that the game key can be used on three systems. That's fair; the first activation is used on my personal game rig. The second we installed on the AMD Radeon graphics test PC and the 3rd on our NVIDIA graphics test PC. ... For the NVIDIA setup I take out the GTX 580, and insert a GTX 590. When I now startup the game, 'BAM', again an activation is required. Once again I fill out the key, and now Ubisoft is thanking me with the message that I ran out of activations.' Guru3D subsequently discovered that Ubisoft was less than helpful: 'Sorry to disappoint you — the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that.' I, and many with me, will never buy games with such a draconian DRM scheme, as it's very likely that I'll swap out enough components to run into this issue. Even the Steam version includes this nice 'feature.' It's probably a good idea to let Ubisoft know why we'll pass on this title."
RobinEggs writes "After long speculation and a few affirmative hints, Blizzard has confirmed that Diablo 3 will have a console version. Responding to a fan who asked him to 'confirm or deny' a console version of D3, Blizzard community manager Bashiok said, 'Yup. Josh Mosqueira is lead designer for the Diablo console project.' Here's hoping Blizzard remains one of the few companies to fully develop both the console and PC version of their titles, rather than simply porting the Xbox version to PC. I think we've all had enough of bizarre scrolling, menus that can't be used with a mouse, and 'Controls' menus that don't even bother replacing the 360 controller image with an actual keyboard layout."
SharkLaser writes "A video game developer working for Kuma Reality Games has admitted that the company has been receiving money from the CIA to design and freely distribute special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. Amir Mizra Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, moved to work for Kuma after working for DARPA and has said the goal of the company was to convince people that whatever the U.S. does in other countries is a good measure. Kuma officials have declined to comment, while Hekmati himself is locked in Iran. The United States government has demanded the release of Hekmati, but Iran has sentenced him to death for spying, which he confessed to."
New submitter lrsach01 writes "Wizards of the Coast has announced a 'new iteration' of their Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Early information says the game will be more inclusive, with a basic rule set that 'builds out.' This Spring, WotC will be 'conducting ongoing open playtests with the gaming community to gather feedback on the new iteration of the game as we develop it.'"
hypnosec writes "Microsoft's Flight Simulator series, which was in dormant state until now, will see a re-launch this spring and that too for free. The name of this series will be simply Flight, and players will have free access to the digital sky with this simulator. In other words, it will be available as a free download; however, the user would need to buy additional content to enhance their experience. The content that can be purchased includes aircraft as well as new environments. Microsoft states that the most amazing part of this game is the user can experience some real life locations like Big Island of Hawaii along with 'region-specific weather patterns, foliage, terrain and landmarks.'" [Video demo here.] I'd like to know where the ESRB finds "crude humor" or "mild violence" in there.
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)."