Games

Blizzard Bans 100,000 Cheaters In Massive "World of Warcraft" Ban Spree 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the lowering-the-boom dept.
MojoKid writes: Like many MMORPGs, World of Warcraft can be a grind. To sidestep the time commitment required to continually level up a character, gather resources, improve skills, or whatever else is desired, some gamers turn to bots, software that automates the process. The only problem is, Activision Blizzard isn't so keen on this behavior and has dropped the ban hammer hard on gamers who've been using them. Activision Blizzard didn't specify exactly how many people it booted, saying only that it was a "large number of World of Warcraft accounts." However, a screenshot of a conversation between a player, Game Master, and Activision Blizzard employee suggests that over 100,000 World of Warcraft accounts were identified and booted.
Graphics

Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the sad-penguin dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has selected the baseline hardware requirements for running their Rift virtual reality headset. To no one's surprise, they're fairly steep: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM. It will also require at least two USB 3.0 ports and "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture."

Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock explains: "On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering." He also points out that PC graphics can afford a fluctuating frame rate — it doesn't matter too much if it bounces between 30-60fps. The Rift has no such luxury, however.

The last requirement is more onerous: WIndows 7 SP1 or newer. Binstock says their development for OS X and Linux has been "paused" so they can focus on delivering content for Windows. They have no timeline for going back to the less popular platforms.
Games

Psychologist: Porn and Video Game Addiction Are Leading To 'Masculinity Crisis' 950

Posted by Soulskill
from the suggests-going-outside-and-chopping-some-wood dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Philip Zimbardo is a prominent psychologist from Stanford, most notable for leading the notorious Stanford prison experiment. He has published new research findings based on the lives of 20,000 young men, and his conclusion is stark: there is a developing "masculinity crisis" caused by addiction to video games and pornography. "Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation — they are alone in their room," says Zimbardo. "It begins to change brain function. It begins to change the reward center of the brain, and produces a kind of excitement and addiction. What I'm saying is — boys' brains are becoming digitally rewired."

As an example, Zimbardo uses this quote from one young man: "When I'm in class, I'll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I'm with a girl, I'll wish I was watching pornography, because I'll never get rejected." Zimbardo doesn't think there's a specific time threshold at which playing video games goes from being acceptable to excessive. He says it varies by individual, and is more based on a "psychological change in mindset." To fight the problem, he suggest families need to track how much time is being spent on video games compared to other activities. "He also called for better sex education in schools — which should focus not only on biology and safety, but also on emotions, physical contact and romantic relationships."
Programming

Singapore's Prime Minister Shares His C++ Sudoku Solver Code 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the prime-programmer dept.
itwbennett writes: Several weeks ago, during a speech at the Founders Forum Smart Nation Singapore Reception, Singapore's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he used to enjoy programming, and that the last program he wrote was a Sudoku solver in C++. To back that up, earlier today he announced (on Facebook and Twitter) that his code is available to download. He wrote on Facebook that he wrote the program 'several years ago' and that the code does 'a backtrack search, choosing the next cell to guess which minimises the fanout.'
Businesses

Valve Pulls the Plug On Paid Mods For Skyrim 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the entitled-wheel-gets-the-grease dept.
westlake writes: Valve has abandoned its attempt to introduce paid mods to Skyrim on Steamworks, following furious and unrelenting complaints by the gaming community that did not spare Gabe Newell. Valve said, "[O]ur main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid." Bethesda had similar goals, saying, "There are certainly other ways of supporting modders, through donations and other options. We are in favor of all of them. One doesn't replace another, and we want the choice to be the community’s. Yet, in just one day, a popular mod developer made more on the Skyrim paid workshop than he made in all the years he asked for donations."
Input Devices

Linux 4.1 Bringing Many Changes, But No KDBUS 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the latest-and-greatest dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first release candidate of Linux 4.1 is now available. Linus noted, "The merge window is pretty normal in terms of what got merged too. Just eyeballing the size, it looks like this is going to fit right in — while 4.0 was a bit smaller than usual, 4.1 seems to be smack dab in the middle of the normal range for the last couple of years." There are numerous new features in Linux 4.1, like Xbox One controller force feedback support, better Wacom tablet support, Intel Atom SoC performance improvements, Radeon DisplayPort MST support, EXT4 file-system encryption, ChromeOS Lightbar support, and ACPI for 64-bit ARM, among other additions. However, KDBUS wasn't accepted for Linux 4.1.
Spam

Whoah, Small Spender! Steam Sets Limits For Users Who Spend Less Than $5 229

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-committed-or-just-involved dept.
As GameSpot reports, Valve has implemented a policy that reduces the privileges of Steam users unless those users have spent $5 through the service. Along the same lines as suggestions to limit spam by imposing a small fee on emails, the move is intended to reduce resource abuse as a business model. From the article: "Malicious users often operate in the community on accounts which have not spent any money, reducing the individual risk of performing the actions they do," Valve said. "One of the best pieces of information we can compare between regular users and malicious users are their spending habits as typically the accounts being used have no investment in their longevity. Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam." Restricted actions include sending invites, opening group chats, and taking part in the Steam marketplace.
Crime

Watching a "Swatting" Slowly Unfold 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-gory-detail dept.
netbuzz writes That online gamers have been victimized has unfortunately allowed us to see what "swatting" looks like from the perspective of the target: terrifying and potentially deadly. A similar type of criminally unnecessary SWAT scene played out Saturday night when a caller to police in Hopkinton, Mass., claimed to be holed up in the town's closed public library with two hostages and a bomb. The library stands within eyesight of the starting line for the Boston Marathon. An editor for Network World, there by happenstance, watched for two hours, and, while it was a hoax and no one was hurt, his account highlights the disruption and wastefulness these crimes inflict.
Government

Gen Con Threatens To Leave Indianapolis Over Religious Freedom Bill 886

Posted by samzenpus
from the rolling-in-another-place dept.
Grymalkin writes A controversial religious freedom bill has passed the Indianapolis Senate and is now awaiting Governor Mike Pence's signature to become law. Supporters claim that this bill will protect business owners from excessive government control while opponents argue it is just a veiled attempt to allow those same business owners to deny services to individuals because of their sexual orientation. Now, Gen Con has released a statement saying this bill will influence their decision to keep the convention in Indiana. This announcement has tourism officials worried as Gen Con brings in roughly 50,000 visitors each year, contributing $50 million to the local economy. So far Gen Con's announcement has not swayed the Governor who says he is looking forward to signing the bill into law. Gen Con currently has a contract with the Indy Convention Center through 2020. No word yet as to exactly when the convention would be moved should the bill become law.
Crime

Online "Swatting" Becomes a Hazard For Gamers Who Play Live On the Internet 569

Posted by samzenpus
from the hands-up-controllers-down dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that practical jokers who call in bogus reports of violence provoking huge police responses have set their sights on a new set of victims: video gamers who play live on the Internet, often in front of huge online audiences. Last month, several hundred people were watching Joshua Peters as he played RuneScape from his parents' home as video showed Peters suddenly leaving his computer when police officers appeared at the house and ordered him and his family at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground after some had called 911 claiming Peters had just shot his roommate. "With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situation," says James Clayton Eubanks who says he has been swatted about a half-dozen times while he streamed his Call of Duty sessions. "Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people."

Game companies like Twitch have publicly said that swatting is dangerous, but that there is little else they can do to prevent the pranks. Tracking the culprits behind the pranks is difficult. While bomb scares and other hoaxes have been around for decades, making threats anonymously has never been so easy. Swatters use text messages and online phone services like Skype to relay their threats, employing techniques to make themselves hard to trace. They obtain personal addresses for their victims through property records and other public databases, or by tricking businesses or customer service representatives at a victim's Internet provider into revealing the information. Brandon Willson, a gamer known online as "Famed God," made up a murder to get police to go to an unsuspecting west suburban resident's home last year and ended up behind bars in Nevada awaiting extradition. As part of the investigation, police traveled to Las Vegas to help local police execute a search warrant at Willson's home. Computers seized there contained evidence of the swatting incident, as well as similar incidents across the country, prosecutors claim. Willson faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted on charges of computer tampering and one count each of intimidation, computer fraud, identity theft and disorderly conduct. His mother, Brenda Willson, says her son is innocent and does not smoke, drink or have tattoos. "He would never swat," she says.
Games

Gabe Newell Understands Half-Life Fans, Not Promising Any Sequels 215

Posted by timothy
from the leave-'em-hanging dept.
jones_supa writes Half-Life 3 is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated games in history. While Valve transitioned from the revolutionary series that brought the company most of its original success, to online games like Team Fortress, Dota and Left 4 Dead, people still desperately want to believe that there is more coming for Half-Life.

In a recent podcast interview he had with Geoff Keighley, Valve CEO Gabe Newell opens up the current situation a bit more: "I'm a fan of TV shows, I'm a fan of writers, I'm a fan of movies, I'm a fan of games and I certainly understand why people are like, you know, hey I remember this awesome experience and I'm starting to get worried that I'm never going to have it again. I am a fan of Terry Pratchett and he has Alzheimer's, it's like, Oh my god, I may never get another great Discworld novel. [...] We aren't going to go all retro because there are too many interesting things that have been learned. The only reason we would go back and do a 'super classic' kind of product is if a whole bunch of people internally at Valve said they wanted to do it, and had a reasonable explanation for why it was."
PC Games (Games)

SimCity's Empire Has Fallen and Skylines Is Picking Up the Pieces 256

Posted by Soulskill
from the enough-missteps-eventually-lead-to-a-fall dept.
sarahnaomi writes: Colossal Order's SimCity-like game, Cities: Skylines, sold more than half a million copies in its first week. The first 250,000 of those were sold in the first 24 hours, making it the fastest-selling game its publisher, Paradox Interactive, has ever released. Only a week before Skylines was released, game publisher Electronic Arts announced that it was shutting down SimCity developer Maxis' studio in Emeryville, which it acquired in 1997.

"I feel so bad about Maxis closing down," Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen said. "The older SimCitys were really the inspiration for us to even consider making a city builder." At the same time, Hallikainen admits SimCity's mistakes were Colossal Order's opportunity. "If SimCity was a huge success, which is what we expected, I don't know if Skylines would have ever happened," she said, explaining that it would have been a harder pitch to sell to Paradox if the new SimCity dominated the market.
Graphics

Another Upscaled Console Game: Battlefield Hardline 225

Posted by timothy
from the just-extrapolate dept.
jones_supa writes Video game developer Visceral Games has confirmed the actual resolution that the coming Battlefield Hardline will run on when it is launched on the Xbox One and on the PlayStation 4. An official message from the Twitter account of the studio explains that gamers will get a 720p resolution on the Microsoft console and Sony platform gamers will get the game running in 900p. 60 frames per second is promised for both consoles, but many fans are still expressing their disappointment that neither of the two versions will be able to properly deliver the native 1080p resolution of the consoles. When development started, Visceral Games and publisher Electronic Arts said they were aiming to use the power of the modern consoles to push the game engine as far as it would go, but they clearly couldn't fit that target without cutting corners. This is similar to what happened with Titanfall, which renders into an 1408x792 framebuffer on Xbox One.
Microsoft

What Would Minecraft 2 Look Like Under Microsoft? 208

Posted by timothy
from the hypthetical-or-not dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft spent billions purchasing Mojang, the studio behind the game Minecraft, and while it's unlikely to start work on a sequel anytime soon, rather than continue development of the game, it's worth considering what a Minecraft 2 will look like. After all, as a public company with revenues to justify, it doesn't seem beyond unreasonable a few years down the line, especially since a Minecraft-like game was one of the stand-out tech demos shown for the software giant's HoloLens augmented reality headset. As the author points out, Microsoft will have to tread carefully, tackling issues like whether greater graphical fidelity is actually what players will want ever — and whether to continue to support Minecraft on PlayStation."