Note: You can take 10% off all Slashdot Deals with coupon code "slashdot10off." ×
Upgrades

Revisiting How Much RAM Is Enough Today For Desktop Computing 350

jjslash writes: An article at TechSpot tests how much RAM you need for regular desktop computing and how it affects performance in apps and games. As it turns out, there's not much benefit going beyond 8 GB for regular programs, and surprisingly, 4GB still seems to be enough for gaming in most cases. Although RAM is cheap these days, and they had to go to absurdly unrealistic settings to simulate high demand for memory outside of virtualization, it's a good read to confirm our judgment calls on what is enough for most in 2015.
Bug

SteamOS Has Dropped Support For Suspend 378

jones_supa writes: As pointed out by a Redditor, it seems that suspending the machine is not officially supported by SteamOS anymore. A SteamOS user opened a bug report due to his controllers being unresponsive after a suspend cycle. To this, a Valve engineer bluntly reported that "suspend is no longer supported". He further explained the issue by saying that given the state of hardware and software support throughout the graphics stack on Linux, the team didn't think that they could make the feature work reliably.
Programming

UK Industry Group Boss: Study Arts So Games Are Not Designed By 'Spotty Nerds' 207

nickweller writes: John Cridland is the leader of the Confederation of British Industry, a group that represents over 100,000 UK businesses. In a recent interview, he spoke about his enthusiasm for adding arts education to more traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. Here's how he chose to express that: "One of the biggest growth industries in Britain today is the computer games industry. We need extra coders — dozens and dozens of them but nobody is going to play a game designed by a spotty nerd. We need people with artistic flair." Cridland also expressed support for an increased emphasis on foreign language education: "If we’re not capable of speaking other people’s languages, we’re going to be in difficulties. However, there is far too much emphasis placed on teaching French and German. The language we most need going forward is Spanish (the second most frequently spoken language in the world). That and a certain percentage need to learn Mandarin to develop relations with China."
Windows

In Windows 10, Ad-Free Solitaire Will Cost You $10 -- Every Year 296

Wired UK reports that the pre-installed Solitaire on Windows 10 capitalizes on the long-cultivated addiction that some users have to the game with an interesting bargain: rather than being an ordinary included application like it used to be, what may be the world's most pervasive on-screen office time-sink of a game now comes with ads, unless a user wants to pay (by the month, or by the year) to remove those ads. Notes the linked piece: "To be entirely fair, this is the same as on the Windows 8 version, which wasn't installed by default but could be downloaded from the Windows Store."

At $1.49/month or $10/year, this might be enough to drive some people who otherwise would not to check out some of the free, open-source games out there; PySolitaire is one of many in this incomplete list.
Windows

Windows 10 Will Have Screen Recording Tool 203

Mark Wilson writes: Windows 10 has not even been released yet, but that's a perfect reason to start unearthing a few secrets. Over the coming weeks and months there will undoubtedly be an endless stream of tips, tricks, and tweaks to try out, but how's this for starters? Windows 10 has a secret screen recording tool that can be used to capture on-screen activity as a video file. Taking a static screenshot is very simple. You can either hit the Print Screen key, use the Snipping Tool, or turn to one of the countless screen capture tools out there — many of which are free. When it comes to capturing video, however, it's something of a different story. Before you splash out on a dedicated tool such as Camtasia, you might want to try out Windows 10's hidden tool. It's designed for gamers really, but anyone can use it. The Game bar is a toolbar which Microsoft meant for gamers to use to capture screenshots of their high scores, as well as video footage of their gaming skills. Despite the name, it is not limited to use within games
Games

Interviews: Ask Brianna Wu a Question 727

Brianna Wu is the head of development at Giant Spacekat, a company specializing in cinematic experiences using the Unreal engine. She’s also a frequent speaker on women-in-tech issues and was one of several women subjected to a campaign of attacks in Gamergate. Wu has worked as a journalist and politico. She currently has a patreon campaign which helps to offset the costs of doing speaking engagements and work to further the goals of feminism and women in tech. Brianna has agreed to give us some of her time and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
PC Games (Games)

Warner Bros. Halts Sales of AAA Batman PC Game Over Technical Problems 223

An anonymous reader writes: The Batman: Arkham series of video games has been quite popular over the past several years. But when the most recent iteration, Batman: Arkham Knight, was released a couple days ago, users who bought the PC version of the game found it suffered from crippling performance issues. Now, publisher Warner Bros. made an official statement in the community forums saying they were discontinuing sales of the PC version until quality issues can be sorted out. Gamers and journalists are using it as a rallying point to encourage people to stop preordering games, as it rewards studios for releasing broken content.
Businesses

Stress Is Driving Developers From the Video Game Industry 336

Nerval's Lobster writes: For video game developers, life can be tough. The working hours are long, with vicious bursts of so-called "crunch time," in which developers may pull consecutive all-nighters in order to finish a project—all without overtime pay. According to the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Developer Satisfaction Survey (PDF), many developers aren't enduring those work conditions for the money: Nearly 50 percent of respondents earned less than $50,000 annually. Faced with what many perceive as draconian working conditions, many developers are taking their skills and leaving video games for another technology sector. The hard and soft skills that go into producing video games—from knowledge of programming languages to aptitude for handling irate managers—will work just as well in many aspects of conventional software-building. Fortunately, leaving the video-game industry doesn't have to be a permanent exile; many developers find themselves pulled back in at some point, out of simple passion for the craft.
Games

Fallout 4 Will Be Skipping Xbox 360 and PS3 204

An anonymous reader writes: There's some sad news for those of you looking forward to playing Fallout 4 on your Xbox 360 or your PS3. Bethesda has announced that Fallout 4 will be a current-gen and PC exclusive game and that there will be no last-gen releases in the future. Bethesda global community manager Matt Grandstaff says of the old consoles, "the stuff we're doing will never work there."
Classic Games (Games)

First Games Inducted Into the World Video Game Hall of Fame 277

An anonymous reader writes: From 15 finalists, the first inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame were picked for 2015. Only one of the titles added to the list of legends was launched in the last 15 years. The six games inducted this year are: Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Super Mario Bros, Doom, and World of Warcraft. The World Video Game Hall of Fame says it recognizes games across all platforms, and all have the possibility of being included.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Fallout 4 Announced 229

An anonymous reader writes: After teasing gamers with a countdown timer yesterday, Bethesda has now announced Fallout 4 for PCs, the Xbox One, and the PS4. They've also released an official trailer (YouTube video). The game will be set in post-apocalyptic Boston, and the player character will apparently be accompanied on his adventures by a dog. The Guardian has a post cataloging the features they're hoping will be improved from previous games in the series: "The combat system in the last two Fallout games was not universally adored. It often felt you were shooting wildly and blindly, biding time before you could use the the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting (VAT) system, which allows players to focus in on specific parts of enemies with a percentage chance of hitting them. ... Well-written, hand-crafted quests are going to be vitally important. The Radiant Quest system used in Skyrim sounds brilliant on paper: infinite quests, randomly generated and a little different each time. But the reality was a lot of fetch quests in similar looking caves. Bethesda may be tempted to bring that system across to Fallout 4, but there's an argument for abandoning dynamic quests altogether and opting for a smaller range of authored challenges."
Games

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

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

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

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."