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Microsoft

FTC: Machinima Took Secret Cash To Shill Xbox One 156

jfruh writes: The Machinima gaming video network took money from a marketing agency hired by Microsoft to pay "influencers" up to $45,000 to promote the Xbox One. Crucially, the video endorsers did not disclose that they'd been paid, which has caused trouble with the FTC. For its part, Machinima notes that this happened in 2013, when the current management was not in charge.
The Internet

Metal Gear Solid V PC Disc Contains Steam Installer, Nothing Else 197

dotarray writes: The boxed copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain reportedly contains nothing but a Steam installer. That's right, even if you fork out real-world money for a physical copy of the game, you'll still have to download the whole thing from the internet. The game officially launches tomorrow. Early critical reviews are quite positive, though you should take that with a grain of salt until the game is more widely distributed. Game Informer says, "Unlike the linear design of previous entries, The Phantom Pain rarely assumes you have particular weapons and equipment, so the missions are brilliantly designed with multiple paths to success." The Washington Post notes, "The Phantom Pain’s openness feels like Kojima finally found a technical platform broad enough to make use of all of those tools and trusts players to build their own narrative drama from the way they choose to put these tools together for each mission." IGN has this criticism: "... where Phantom Pain’s gameplay systems are far richer and meatier than any the series has ever seen, its story feels insubstantial and woefully underdeveloped by comparison." Metal Gear Solid 5 is launching for PCs, current consoles, and previous-gen consoles; Digital Foundry thinks is likely to be the last true cross-generation AAA title.
Classic Games (Games)

Unearthed E.T. Atari Game Cartridges Score $108K At Auction 62

MojoKid writes: Hundreds of Atari 2600 cartridges of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial that were excavated last year from a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico collectively raked in nearly $108,000 through eBay auctions. Some $65,000 of that will go to the city of Alamogordo, while the Tularosa Basin Historical Society will receive over $16,000. Over $26,600 went to shipping fees and other expenses. A team of excavators led by operational consultant Joe Lewandowski unearthed the E.T. cartridges in front of a film crew. The high profile (among gaming historians) dig was the basis a documentary called Atari: Game Over, which is available for free through the Microsoft Store.
Games

Cliff Bleszinski's Boss Key Productions Unveils LawBreakers Game Trailer 36

MojoKid writes: Boss Key Productions has posted its first trailer of LawBreakers (formerly Project Bluestreak), a futuristic game title that's set to release on multiple platforms in 2016. The trailer shows off some of the characters and classes that you'll have access to on both sides of the law — yes, you'll have to decide whether you're fighting for the law or the lawbreakers. The game's setting is Earth, though not as you know it now. This is a future version of Earth where gravity is busted. The government, in its infinite wisdom, screwed up some testing on the moon and managed to split its surface, an event that came to be known as "The Shattering." Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski is one of the co-founders of Boss Key Productions, the other of which is Arjan Brussee, the main coder behind Jazz Jackrabbit games and a co-founder Guerrilla Games.
Math

John Conway: All Play and No Work For a Genius 55

An anonymous reader points out Quanta's spotlight piece on mathematician John Conway, whose best known mathematical contribution is probably his "Game of Life," which has inspired many a screensaver and more than a few computer science careers. From the article: Based at Princeton University, though he found fame at Cambridge (as a student and professor from 1957 to 1987), John Horton Conway, 77, claims never to have worked a day in his life. Instead, he purports to have frittered away reams and reams of time playing. Yet he is Princeton's John von Neumann Professor in Applied and Computational Mathematics (now emeritus). He's a fellow of the Royal Society. And he is roundly praised as a genius. "The word 'genius' gets misused an awful lot," said Persi Diaconis, a mathematician at Stanford University. "John Conway is a genius. And the thing about John is he'll think about anything. He has a real sense of whimsy. You can't put him in a mathematical box."
Displays

A Look At the World's First Virtual Reality Theme Park 16

redletterdave writes: The Void is the first company to create a virtual reality theme park, where virtual experiences are layered on top of physical, real world environments. Tech Insider was the first media outlet to visit The Void's headquarters in Utah, filming the company's first creations. These experiences are still far from final, but the footage is impressive and entertaining. This is not Lazer Tag.
Games

How Poly Bridge's GIF Generator Turned an Indie Game Into a Reddit Sensation 40

An anonymous reader writes: The creator of bridge physics phenomenon Poly Bridge discusses the rise of the bridge physics phenomenon in a new interview this week. Patrick Corrieri of New Zealand's Dry Cactus studio reveals the Reddit hit has sold at least 48,000 copies so far, but that its smartest feature, a GIF generator to capture all your successful crosses and crashes, only came about by accident: "Ultimately it was another independent developer, Zach Barth from Zachotronics, who pushed me to integrate the feature. Not only that, but he also gave me the source code to his GIF encoding routine so I could hit the ground running. That's what is so awesome about the indie dev community: a willingness to share and learn from each other, as growing together is much better than competing with one another."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Gamers Are Fans of Games, Not Genres 119

_xeno_ writes: A recent article on Steam Spy talks about how a "target audience" for game genres doesn't exist — or, more specifically, how there is no such thing as an "FPS gamer" or an "MMO gamer" or a "MOBA gamer." The majority of players tend to be fans of specific games, rather than genres. For example, the wildly popular MMO World of Warcraft managed to reach over 10 million players at its peak. However, these players never became "MMO gamers" — they were simply World of Warcraft gamers. As World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers fall, there's been no corresponding uptick in subscribers of other, competing MMOs. In fact, pretty much ever MMO released since World of Warcraft has been forced to move to a "free-to-play" model simply to survive. The article explains how the majority of gamers concentrate on a very small number of games, rarely trying new games: they're fans of a specific game, not any game that plays like it.
Nintendo

Twenty Years Later, Nintendo's Virtual Boy Is Still an Oddity 43

An anonymous reader writes: Nintendo launched its Virtual Boy gaming console twenty years ago today. Expectations were high after the company sold tends of millions of its previous devices, but the Virtual Boy only sold about 770,000 units. It was conceived at the height of the '90s VR craze, but the technology of the time just couldn't produce the kind of experience that Nintendo (or gamers) envisioned. An article from Benj Edwards provides insight into the Virtual Boy's development and its inevitable failure.

"A major problem with the idea of making VR32 wearable, according to Makino, was that Nintendo engineers were concerned about placing a chip with high radio emissions near a user's head, since the safety of EMF radiation on the brain had yet to be thoroughly studied. Its proximity also produced visual noise in the displays. 'This meant that the internal CPU had to be covered by a metal plate,' says Makino, 'which made the whole system too heavy, forcing the goggle concept to be abandoned.' Not long after, Yokoi's console evolved from a strap-on headset into a heavier device that one could prop up onto one's face using a clumsy shoulder stand. Again, Nintendo's legal department feared liability issues; the device might cause children to fall down a stairwell while playing. ... Hobbled by liability concerns, VR32 soon evolved into a bulky red viewport mounted to a bi-pod that rested on a table."
Businesses

The Crowdfunded Board Game Renaissance 57

An anonymous reader writes: FiveThirtyEight has an article about the surging popularity of new board games, which is being boosted by campaigns on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Since Kickstarter came online in 2009, board games and card games have accrued $196 million in pledges, 93% of which went to successful projects. That's even better than video games have done, at $179 million and 85%. For an industry whose yearly sales don't tend to break $1 billion, those are impressive numbers. The article attempts to explain their success: "Designers show up, explain their game idea on a Web page, often with photos and a video, and ask for pledges. That lets a designer learn, in real time, what the demand for his game is. ... Second, they are democratizing tools. Internet crowdfunding has done the same thing for game designers that blogging platforms did for writers: turned them into publishers."
AMD

AMD Still Struggling With Linux Gaming 100

An anonymous reader writes: AMD's Linux gaming performance has been embarrassingly bad, and it doesn't look like there's any quick remedy. Virtual Programming just released Dirt: Showdown for Linux, and it's the latest example of AMD's Linux driver issues: AMD's GPU results are still far behind NVIDIA's, with even the Radeon R9 Fury running slower than NVIDIA's aging GTX 680 and GTX 760. If a racing game doesn't interest you, Feral Interactive confirmed they are releasing Company of Heroes 2 for Linux next week, but only NVIDIA and Intel graphics are supported.
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.
Toys

The Tech Problems Inside Nintendo's Amiibo Toys 70

An anonymous reader writes: Nintendo's line of amiibo figurines are coveted by fans and collectors, even scalpers and robbers, with some harder to come by models fetching high sums on auction sites. But as a new article points out, every model suffers from similar technical drawbacks when it comes to interacting with the Japanese games giant's Wii U and 3DS consoles: there is currently only one game for instance that uses the write function of each figure's NFC chip, rather than simply reading it. But if there were more, Nintendo would be faced with another problem: where to store the data for each, since amiibo can currently only store one title's data at a time. The company may be looking to solve some of these issues with its upcoming NX system, but will it be too little too late?
Graphics

Splitscreen Gaming Is a Culture, Not a Mode 147

SlappingOysters writes: Grab It discusses the loss of splitscreen gaming to the Halo series in this article that asks developer 343 Industries to re-evaluate its position on cutting the feature. The developer has cited "increased visual and gameplay fidelity" as the reasons for cutting the series' hallmark mode. In better news for couch co-op fans, the site does confirm that Gears of War 4 will have splitscreen gameplay when it releases in 2016.
AMD

DirectX 12 Performance Tested In Ashes of the Singularity 96

Vigile writes: The future of graphics APIs lies in DirectX 12 and Vulkan, both built to target GPU hardware at a lower level than previously available. The advantages are better performance, better efficiency on all hardware and more control for the developer that is willing to put in the time and effort to understand the hardware in question. Until today we have only heard or seen theoretical "peak" performance claims of DX12 compared to DX11. PC Perspective just posted an article that uses a pre-beta version of Ashes of the Singularity, an upcoming RTS utilizing the Oxide Games Nitrous engine, to evaluate and compare DX12's performance claims and gains against DX11. In the story we find five different processor platforms tested with two different GPUs and two different resolutions. Results are interesting and show that DX12 levels the playing field for AMD, with its R9 390X gaining enough ground in DX12 to overcome a significant performance deficit that exists using DX11 to the GTX 980.