Hesh writes "The University of Southern California has launched a website that contains the blueprints for many of their custom VR headsets as well as new mods to the much anticipated yet unreleased Oculus Rift. Some are helping push DIY VR forward through custom sensor mounts to support, for example, stereo cameras and others add more functionality like new eye cups to help increase the already large FOV of the headset. This is truly an exciting time for VR; by GDC, developers will already have Rifts in hand and tinkerers can 3D-print their own designs now as well!"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
jones_supa writes "The cartoon heroes are back, with even stronger superpowers. Deep Silver Volition has announced Saints Row IV for an August launch. From the press release: 'In the next open-world installment of Saints Row, Deep Silver Volition continues the story of the Third Street Saints by elevating their status to the highest level – the leaders of the free world. In Saints Row IV, the head honcho of the Saints has been elected to the Presidency of the United States. Saints Row IV lets players delve into an arsenal of alien weaponry and technology that will turn each Saint into an ultimate entity of destruction. The player utilizes out-of-this-world superpowers to fight all the way to the top. With intensified action and enhanced customization, the protagonists can use their newfound superpowers and leap over buildings, outrun the fastest sports cars, or send enemies flying with telekinesis in the most insane installment of Saints Row yet.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Tony Tamsai, Nvidia's senior vice president of content and technology, has said that providing hardware for use in the PlayStation 4 was on the table, but they walked away. Having provided chips for use in both the PS3 and the original Xbox, that decision doesn't come without experience. Nvidia didn't want to commit to producing hardware at the cost Sony was willing to pay. They also considered that by accepting a PS4 contract, they wouldn't have the resources to do something else in another sector. In other words, the PS4 is not a lucrative enough platform to consider when high-end graphics cards and the Tegra line of chips hold so much more revenue potential."
First time accepted submitter kdogg73 writes "Jens Bergensten and the Mojang team have released the latest version of Minecraft — version 1.5, dubbed 'Redstone.' Changes and updates include an added redstone comparator, redstone block, hoppers and droppers, light and weight sensors, Herobrine removal, and many bug fixes. Videos detailing the changes and new redstone devices already litter YouTube."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Geek.com: "Ever since SimCity launched, there has been a suspicion that the need for the game to always be connected to a server was mainly a form of DRM, not for social game features and multiplayer. Then a Maxis developer came forward to confirm the game doesn't actually need a server to function, suggesting the information coming out of EA wasn't the whole truth. Now EA and Maxis have some explaining to do as a modder has managed to get the game running offline indefinitely." The writer names a few small ways in which the game is actually improved by being offline, too.
Hesh writes "With the impending arrival of the first batch of Oculus Rift VR headsets to developers, Rod Furlan put up a very detailed guide on how to build your very own headset with off-the-shelf parts and a few hours of spare time based off of the original design of the headset from the forums where it all started. This is a very exciting time for VR, and DIY headsets will allow everyone to try out new tricks and form factors while finally being able to test with a whole new world of compatible software that is about to be released very soon."
Today Blizzard launched its first expansion to StarCraft 2, titled Heart of the Swarm. When initially developing StarCraft 2, Blizzard made the decision to split the game into three parts, each with a campaign as long as the original StarCraft. The initial release in 2010, Wings of Liberty, centered on the story of the Terrans. The newly-released Heart of the Swarm is focused on the Zerg. The final release, Legacy of the Void, will dedicate its campaign to the Protoss (and does not have a projected release timeframe yet). In addition to the new campaign, new units have been introduced for multiplayer and new maps have been added, which ought to shake things up in the competitive landscape. Blizzard has also made long-awaited improvements to the social system, including support for groups and clans.
adeelarshad82 writes "The SimCity launch debacle is only the latest in an increasingly frustrating string of affronts to gamers' rights as customers. Before SimCity, we had Ubisoft's always-on DRM (that the company only ended quietly after massive outcry from gamers). We had the forced online and similarly unplayable launch of Diablo III. We had games like Asura's Wrath and Final Fantasy: All the Bravest that required you to pay more money just to complete them after you purchase them. And let us never forget the utter infamy of StarForce, SecuROM, and Sony's copy protection, which installed rootkits on computers without users' knowledge. As one recently published article argues, maybe it's time for gamers to demand adoption of a Bill of Rights."
6 writes "Destructoid, one of the few remaining bastions of independent game journalism online, wonders what to do now that nearly 50% of their users run ad-blockers."
New submitter ghops spotted Engadget's coverage of an interesting gaming machine at SXSW, writing: "Multimorphic shows off the P3, an innovative multi-game pinball platform. With a 27" 'touchscreen' LCD in the lower playfield and modular shot layouts comprising the upper playfield, the P3 delivers a 'one machine, many games' system where the physical pinball can interact with graphics on the screen as it rolls towards traditional, physical objects (ramps, loops, targets, etc) on the upper playfield. The system will ship with two games, one designed by famed pinball designer Dennis Norman, and it's an open platform allowing anybody to develop their own shot layouts and/or software. Because of its ball tracking technology, it can even play itself!"
New submitter captioning writes "The Los Angeles Times reports on Throw Trucks With Your Mind, a multiplayer first-person 'gunless shooter' that uses an inexpensive, wireless EEG (electroencephalograph) headset to measure players' brainwaves and move virtual objects on screen. Depending on the strength of players' beta waves (emitted while concentrating), players toss small items like crates or catapult objects like trucks. Players can also draw things toward them by relaxing (and emitting alpha waves). Greater relaxation results in more power as well, so players learn quickly to be careful when attracting trucks. The success of Throw Trucks could lead to stronger demand for neural feedback games worldwide."
An anonymous reader writes "The SimCity launch earlier this week was a complete disaster. Single player games that require an Internet connection to enable forced multiplayer features (as well as acting as a form of DRM) is bad enough, but then to not be prepared for the demand such a popular franchise has, well, that's just dumb, and Lucy Bradshaw, EA's general manager for the Maxis Label, has admitted exactly that." They did not provide much details, but supposedly anyone who has SimCity now should get "a free PC download game from the EA portfolio." They are unrepentant about the always-online requirement though.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Geek.com: "In what must be a big blow for EA and Maxis, Amazon has stopped selling download copies of the just released SimCity. The game has at time of writing received 833 reviews on Amazon, and has an average rating of just one star. That's because 740 of those are one star reviews. Only 20 people gave it 5 stars. There's few better ways to gauge how a game has been received, and this is pretty damning as to how EA has handled the launch."
mikejuk writes "Microsoft Research is currently having a Techfest at Redmond where it is showing off a lot of new work. The latest work on the Kinect uses the same sort of machine-learning approach to distinguish between an open hand and a clenched fist. Although there are no details, its general method was to use a large number of images of people's hands and supervised training to distinguish between open and closed hands. The learning algorithm is based on a forest of decision trees, which is the same general method used to implement the skeleton tracking. Being able to detect an open or closed hand might not seem to be much of an advance, and certainly not as good as a multi-gesture touch screen interface, but it is enough to allow the user interface to distinguish a "pick up" or "grip" gesture. So you can move the hands within an image, close both hands to grip the image points and move apart to zoom. You can't get the software at the moment, but it has been promised for the next version of the Kinect SDK for Windows along with the long awaited 3D scanner Kinect Fusion."
New submitter abuelos84 writes "Just a few hours after the Kickstarter project was opened to the public, Torment: Tides of Numenera, successor of the legendary Planescape:Torment, had been funded. In the dev's own words: 'Our heads are still spinning at the incredible response we have had from today's support of our Kickstarter campaign. We had plans to roll out our stretch goals and to write our Kickstarter updates but never in our wildest dreams did we think we would fund this quickly!!! We are joyfully scrambling right now to get a longer update and some stretch goals in front of you as soon as we can. We should have more to say later today.'"
It seems that the requirement to be online and save games on a remote server even in single player mode is leading to a less than ideal launch for SimCity 5. choke writes "Players attempting to play EA/Maxis' new SimCity game are finding that their save games are tied to a particular server, are facing problems with disconnects, inability to track friends or search for specific coop games online and failures to load game, and wait times of 20 minutes per login attempt. The question is, why the online restriction? Does this possibly indicate future micro-transactions in game?"
New submitter Dputiger writes "Nvidia's latest GTX Titan puts a renewed focus on multi-monitor gaming, but how does it compare against other cards at half the price? 'The games we tested fall into two general camps. Arkham City, DiRT 3, and Serious Sam: BFE are all absolutely playable on the GTX 680 or 7970 in a single-card configuration, even with detail settings turned all the way up. Shogun 2, Metro 2033, and Crysis 3 aren’t. In Shogun 2 and Metro 2033, however, the Titan maintains a playable frame rate at High Detail when the other two cards are stumbling and stuttering. Crysis 3 was the one exception — in that game, all three cards remained playable at High Detail, and dropped below that mark once we increased to Very High Detail and added 4x SMAA.' Field of view adjustments, the impact of bezels, and single-card performance at multiple detail levels are all covered, as is the price of multi-screen setups."
An anonymous reader writes "Valve has just released its February, 2013 Steam Hardware & Software Survey, and the results are absolutely mind blowing. Linux is now standing strong as a legitimate gaming platform. It now represents 2.02% of all active Steam users." That's in keeping with what new submitter lars_doucet found. Lars writes: "I'm an independent game developer lucky enough to be on Steam. Recently, the Steam Linux client officially went public and was accompanied by a site-wide sale. The Linux sale featured every single Linux-compatible game on the service, including our cross-platform game Defender's Quest. .... Bottom line: during the sale we saw nearly 3 times as many Linux sales of the game as Mac (Windows still dominated overall)."
silentbrad writes "Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, posted a blog entry titled 'Nickels, dimes, and quarters' yesterday, advocating that gamers dissatisfied with the current trend toward DLC and microtransactions should vote with their wallets. Quoting: 'The video game industry is just that. An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you're welcome to spend your money on whatever you please or to refrain from spending that money. ... Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been. Never mind the ratio of the hours of joy you get from a game per dollar compared to film. To produce a high quality game it takes tens of millions of dollars, and when you add in marketing that can get up to 100+ million. ... I've seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They're a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are "nickel and diming them." They're raging at "big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money." I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy." I think it's bulls*** that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong. ... If you don't like EA, don't buy their games. If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple. ... The market as I have previously stated is in such a sense of turmoil that the old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. "Free to play" aka "Free to spend 4 grand on it" is here to stay, like it or not. ... People like to act like we should go back to "the good ol' days" before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers. Those games were designed to make you lose so that you had to keep spending money on them. Ask any of the old Midway vets about their design techniques. The second to last boss in Mortal Kombat 2 was harder than the last boss, because when you see the last boss that's sometimes enough for a gamer. ... If you don't like the games, or the sales techniques, don't spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars.'"