An anonymous reader writes: This year is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Dungeons & Dragons, and it's getting a lot of mainstream attention. Long-time and former players are examining the game's influence and its legacy, even as it's being introduced to yet another generation of kids. "For countless players, Dungeons & Dragons redirected teen-age miseries and energies that might have been put to more destructive uses. How many depressed and lonely kids turned away from suicide because they found community and escape in role-playing games? How many acts of bullying or vandalism were sublimated into dice-driven combat? ... How many underage D.U.I.s never came to pass because spell tables were being consulted late into the night?" Meanwhile, as people who played the game long ago have grown into adults producing their own works, our culture has reaped the benefits of D&D's influence. "The league of ex-gamer writers also includes the 'weird fiction' author China Miéville (The City & the City); Brent Hartinger (author of Geography Club, a novel about gay and bisexual teenagers); the sci-fi and young adult author Cory Doctorow; the poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie; the comedian Stephen Colbert; George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series (who still enjoys role-playing games). Others who have been influenced are television and film storytellers and entertainers like Robin Williams, Matt Groening (The Simpsons), Dan Harmon (Community) and Chris Weitz (American Pie)."
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An anonymous reader writes After a series of investigations, lawsuits, and fines over how in-app purchases are advertised and communicated to users, Google has agreed to stop labeling games that use in-app purchases as "Free." This change is the result of a request by the European Commission to stop misleading customers about the costs involved with using certain apps. "Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them; Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers' explicit consent." The EC notes that Apple has not yet done anything to address these concerns.
An anonymous reader writes Icelandic studio CCP is better known for EVE Online, but its first foray into virtual reality with space shooter Valkyrie has caused a stir, and is widely seen as a flagship game for the Oculus Rift headset. In a new interview, Valkyrie executive producer Owen O'Brien explains what advantages the game will have when played with a headset — and gives his view on why a dogfighter is better suited to VR than a first person shooter: "People have hacked it together, but it doesn't really work," he says. "The basic problem is Simulator Sickness. In Valkyrie or any cockpit game or driving game, what you're doing in the real world, assuming you're sitting down, more or less mimics what your brain is telling you you're doing in the game. So you don't get that disconnect, and it's that disconnect that causes sickness. So, the problem with first-person shooters is that you're running or crouching or jumping in the game but not in the real world, and because it's so realistic it can make some people (not everybody) feel nauseated if they start doing it for extended periods of time."
First time accepted submitter Dragoness Eclectic writes Early Tuesday, gamers woke up to find out that they couldn't log in to any Sony Online Entertainment games--no Everquest, no Planetside 2, none of them. Oddly, the forums where company reps might have posted some explanation weren't reachable, either. A bit of journalistic investigation by EQ2Wire came across the explanation: SOE forgot to renew the domain registration on SonyOnline.net, the hidden domain that holds all their nameservers. After 7 weeks of non-payment post-expiration, NetworkSolutions reclaimed the domain, sending all access to Sony's games into an internet black hole. Sony has since paid up. SOE's president, John Smedley, has admitted that the expiration notices were being sent to an "unread email" address.
mrspoonsi sends this BBC report: Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, is suing Call of Duty's video games publisher. The ex-military ruler is seeking lost profits and damages after a character based on him featured in Activision's 2012 title Black Ops II. The 80-year-old is currently serving a jail sentence in Panama for crimes committed during his time in power, including the murder of critics. One lawyer said this was the latest in a growing trend of such lawsuits. "In the U.S., individuals have what's called the right to publicity, which gives them control over how their person is depicted in commerce including video games," explained Jas Purewal, an interactive entertainment lawyer. "There's also been a very well-known action by a whole series of college athletes against Electronic Arts, and the American band No Doubt took action against Activision over this issue among other cases. "It all focuses upon the American legal ability for an individual to be only depicted with their permission, which in practice means payment of a fee. "But Noriega isn't a US citizen or even a resident. This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it's unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision."
theodp writes The good news, writes Michael Thomas, is that wired kids are learning chess at an unprecedented rate. Young children learning chess from tablets can quickly become more knowledgeable than their parents. But the bad news, laments Thomas, is there is so much demand for scholastic chess that there are not enough experienced chess facilitators to go around. Could technology like RFID-tagged chess pieces or services like ChessStream.com be employed to referee second-grader chess matches, Thomas wonders, or are more well-meaning-but-not-necessarily-expert human facilitators — a la T-ball coaches — the answer?
hypnosec writes After several controversies arising about in-app purchases, a Chinese couple has done the unthinkable by selling their sons to buy in-app items. An unmarried couple, A Hui and A Mei, severely addicted to online games, were accused of selling their sons and were arrested. In an interview with Guangdong TV, they revealed that they chose to sell their sons to child traffickers. A Hui said A Mei is fond of playing online games and likes to buy game items. As he could not give up his in-app purchases, he was not able to support his first son and they sold him to Fujian-based child traffickers. When the wife bore another son, they felt they would not be able to support their second child either, and they again sold him to the traffickers.
An anonymous reader writes: As news that Cliff Bleszkinski, Epic Games' legendary former creative, sets off to found his own studio, a new article takes a look at how six other gaming auteurs have fared after leaving a major developer or publisher to go it alone. The results, surprisingly, are mixed: while some, such as Double Fine's Tim Schafer, have gone on to far greater success, it doesn't always work out that way: just look at John Romero's Daikatana. The article also makes a good point that Peter Molyneux is striking out with a start-up for the third in his career now, but it may not be third time the charm: Godus has been far less well received than Black & White or Fable. Can Cliffy B avoid making the same mistakes?
An anonymous reader writes "Video game designers and astronomers have been working different ends of the same problem: how to chart a galaxy full of stars. Astronomers start with observation, finding new and better ways to look into the sky and record what they can see. Game devs take the limited data we have as a starting point, and assume that everything else in the galaxy obeys roughly the same rules. They generate the rest of the galaxy procedurally from this data. But the information flow isn't simply one-way. As developers like David Braben improve their galaxy-creation models, astronomers can look at the models and see where they match (or not) with further observations, allowing them to improve their own scientific models in the process. "'The conflicts that show up are generally due to simplifications made in the models, for which new observations can provide improved guidelines. There's a continuously evolving and developing understanding of space, in which both models and observations play important roles.' ... Elite's model has expanded Braben's understanding of planet formation and distribution. Braben boasts that his games predicted extra-solar planets ('These were pretty close to those that have been since discovered, demonstrating that there is some validity in our algorithms'), and that the game's use of current planet-formation theories has shown the sheer number of different systems that can exist according to the rules, everything from nebulous gas giants to theoretically habitable worlds.""
MojoKid writes: One of the great universal truths of modern gaming is that preorder bonuses suck. The term refers to the practice of ordering a title at some point before it actually ships in order to get access to a variety of minor outfit tweaks, a few starting weapons, or boosts to early gameplay. Today, some publishers take this practice to truly ridiculous levels; the recent game Watch Dogs has no fewer than nine pre-order options. GameStop, perhaps sensing that there's pressure building against the model, wants to turn the dial up to 11 — and create preorder-locked, GameStop-specific content. According to financial analyst Colin Sebastian, "[GameStop] indicates that software publishers are more enthusiastic about partnering with it. For example, by offering exclusive content on each major game release and longer term, future models may include GameStop offering exclusive gameplay." GameStop is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. The company has captured a greater share of the Xbox One and PS4 market than it held at this point in the console cycle last time around and it's clearly looking to increase the attractiveness of its own business. That's fine but this kind of arbitrary lopping off of content to boost sales at particular shops simply isn't going to sit well with most gamers.
An anonymous reader writes Dwarf Fortress, the epic, ASCII text-based, roguelike citybuilding game, just released its biggest update in years. The game is notable for its incredible depth, and the new release only extends it. Here are the release notes — they won't make much sense if you don't play the game, but they'll give you a sense of how massively complex Dwarf Fortress is. It's also worth noting the a team of modders has recently released a new version Stonesense utility, which renders the game in 3-D from an isometric point of view. "[T]he utility relies on DFHack, a community-made library that reads the game's memory and can be parsed, thus allowing for additional utilities to render things while bypassing the initial ASCII output." If you're unfamiliar with the game, here's an illustrated depiction of an amazing story generated by the game.
MojoKid writes: Normally, the question of whether a game runs better on the PC or a console is a no-brainer, at least for PC users. Watch Dogs, however, with its problematic and taxing PC play, challenges that concept. And since the gap between consoles and PCs is typically smallest at the beginning of the console generation, HotHardware decided to take the Xbox One out for a head-to-head comparison against the PC with this long-awaited title. What was found may surprise you. Depending on just how much horsepower your PC has, the Xbox One (and possibly the PS4 though that wasn't compared) might be the better option. There's no question that the PC can look better, even before you factor in the mods that have been released to date, but unless you've spent $300 or more on a fairly recent GPU, you're not going to be able to run the game at sufficiently high detail to benefit from the enhanced image quality and resolution. If you have a Radeon HD 7950 / R9 280 or an NVIDIA card with greater than 4GB of RAM or a GeForce GTX 780 / 780 Ti, you can happily observe Watch Dogs make hash out of the Xbox One — but statistically, only a minority of gamers have this sort of high-end hardware. This comparison should be viewed in light of the recent allegations that the PC version's graphics were deliberately handicapped.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Technology writer Jon Brodkin sat down with a group of indie game developers (as well as a professor at the University of Southern California's game-design program) to talk about why they decided to launch their own small studios rather than stick with comfortable (albeit stressful) jobs at major firms like Disney or Zynga. The answer, as you'd expect, boils down to control. "Working for a bigger company is a good way to gain experience, and learn how games are made," said Graham Smith, one of the co-founders of Toronto-based DrinkBox Studios. "It's also nice to have a steady salary coming in as you learn the ropes. On the flip side, depending on the company, you might not have much control over the game's design, or even be making the types of games that you enjoy playing." But startups come with their own challenges, not the least of which is the prospect of an economic downturn quickly wiping you out, or not making your Kickstarter goal.
motang (1266566) writes Rob Pardo, Blizzard employee of 17 years who has worked on Warcraft and Diablo is leaving the company. "I'm looking forward to new challenges in my career, but I will always cherish the time I spent with you all and the amazing and collaborative teams at Blizzard," Pardo said. "It was both satisfying and humbling, and it made me a better developer and a better person. I look forward to playing Blizzard games as a player for many years to come. Most important, now I have plenty of time to learn how to build a competitive Hearthstone deck."
An anonymous reader writes with news about how Oculus is dealing with the reselling of dev kits in China. Bad news for those of you looking to get your hands on a preorder of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. A representative from Oculus recently confirmed that the company has had to stop selling its headsets in China as a result of an undisclosed amount of reselling. Which is to say, some of those preordering the developer edition of the virtual reality headset in China — not the consumer product, which hasn't been officially released in any capacity just yet — aren't actually looking to develop anything on the headsets. Nor are they even interested in getting a first look at the virtual reality capabilities of the $350 development kit. They're scalping, plain and simple, to take advantage of what appears to be a hefty amount of demand for the device.
coop0030 (263345) writes "Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the classic gaming device, Game Boy, by building your own with 3d printing and DIY electronics. This project uses a Raspberry Pi and TFT touch screen to make an epic DIY Game Girl. The 3d printed enclosure houses all of the components and can be printed in your favorite color. It's controlled with SNES gaming controller components, reusing the printed circuit board, buttons and elastomers. The 3D files can be found on Thingiverse, and a video of the finished product is provided as well."
RockDoctor (15477) writes The Guardian is reporting that a Finnish heat of an international gaming competition is being segregated into male and female branches in accordance to international rules. The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) want "eSports" to be recognised as equivalent to physical sports. And that, it seems, requires that competitors be segregated on grounds of sex. Which may be appropriate for pole vaulters, but not necessarily appropriate for ePole vaulters. This leaves the organisers of national heats of eSports in a rather invidious position of having (in this case) a tournament only open to "Finnish male players." Update: 07/03 14:38 GMT by T : As several readers point out in the comments, this policy has been abruptly reversed.
An anonymous reader writes A grandmother agreed to purchase an old building in Chiba, which is just outside of Tokyo. When her family arrived to check out the contents of the building it was discovered that the first two floors used to be a game center in the 1980s. Whoever ran it left all the cabinets behind when it closed, and it is full of classic and now highly desirable games. In total there are 55 arcade cabinets, most of which are the upright Aero Cities cabinets, but it's the game boards that they contain that's the most exciting discovery. Boards include Donkey Kong, Street Fighter Alpha 2 (working despite the CPS2 lockout chip's tendency to kill old boards), and Metal Slug X.
An anonymous reader writes: Hello Games is a small development studio, only employing 10 people. But they're building a game, No Man's Sky, that's enormous — effectively infinite. Its universe is procedurally generated, from the star systems down to individual species of plant and animal life. The engine running the game is impressively optimized. A planet's characteristics are not computed ahead of time — terrain and lifeforms are randomly generated on the fly as a player explores it. But, of course, that created a problem for the developers — how do they know their procedural generation algorithms don't create ridiculous life forms or geological formations? They solved that by writing AI bot software that explores the universe and captures brief videos, which are then converted to GIF format and posted on a feed the developers can review. The article goes into a bit more detail on how the procedural generation works, and how such a small studio can build such a big game.
An anonymous reader writes A new feature published this week takes a deep-dive look at the history of the cheat code and its various manifestations over the years, from manual 'pokes' on cassettes to pass phrases with their own dedicated menus — as well as their rise from simple debug tool in the early days of bedroom development to a marketing tactic when game magazines dominated in the 1990s, followed by dedicated strategy guides. Today's era of online play has all but done away with them, but the need for a level playing field isn't the only reason for their decline: as one veteran coder points out, why give away cheats for free when you can charge for them as in-app purchases? "Bigger publishers have now realized you can actually sell these things to players as DLC. Want that special gun? Think you can unlock it with a cheat code? Nope! You've got to give us some money first!"
New submitter MdotCpDeltaT writes: Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. It's a move that seems to stretch the definition of sports and athletes. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said, "It's a team sport. There's strategy involved. You have to know your role in the game. Obviously it's not cardiovascular in any way, but it's mental. There are elements that go into it that are just like any other sport."The article says, "Though the gaming scholarships are primarily designed to attract what the school calls an 'underserved male' population, they are open to all, and Melcher said some women have inquired about the program. Even if the awards end up going mostly to males, he added, it should not upset the school's scholarship gender balance, which already has strong participation in women's sports."
An anonymous reader writes: Ben Kuchera at Polygon recommends against buying the upcoming Battlefield Hardline first-person shooter. Not because it's bad — in fact, he doesn't really offer an opinion on how good the game is — but because it's time to stop incentivizing poor behavior from Electronic Arts and its Digital Illusions CE development studio. After EA acquired DICE, Battlefield game launches accelerated, and launch issues with each game were hand-waved away as unpredictable. The studio's principled stand against paid DLC evaporated in order to feed the ever-hungry beast of shareholder value. Kuchera says, "EA continues this because the Battlefield franchise is profitable; we as players have taught them that we'll buy anyway, and continue to support games that don't work at launch." He suggests avoiding pre-orders, and only buying the game if and when it's in a playable (and fun) state. "Every dollar that's spent on Hardline before the game comes out is a vote for things continuing down an anti-consumer path. If the game is a hit before its launch, that sends a message that we're OK with business as usual, and business as usual has become pretty terrible."
An anonymous reader writes So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish. The reason for listing that stuff out, is that I want people to understand that I know what I'm getting myself in to, and I'm not trying to put out a not-so-subtle "help me make a game for free lol" type of post. With all of that said, where is a good place to start (i.e., recommended books) for learning C# for game programming? I am familiar with object oriented programming, so that's a little bit of help. I'm not necessarily looking for the syntax (that part is just memorization), but more for the methodology involved. If anyone also has any suggestions for other books or information that deal with game development, I would love to hear that too. I know enough to understand that I really don't know anything, but have a good foundation to build on.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: Many PC gamers were disappointed that Ubisoft's latest AAA game, Watch_Dogs, did not look as nice as when displayed at E3 in 2012. But this week a modder discovered that code to improve the game's graphics on the PC is still buried within the released game, and can be turned back on without difficulty or performance hits. Ubisoft has yet to answer whether (or why) their PC release was deliberately handicapped. Gaming commentator Total Biscuit has a video explaining the controversy.
samzenpus (5) writes Billy Mitchell owns the Rickey's World Famous Restaurant chain, sells his own line of hot sauces, and was called, "probably the greatest arcade-video-game player of all time". He was the first to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and held many record scores in other arcade games. He is probably most famous for the 2007 documentary,"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". The film follows a challenger on his quest to surpass Billy's high score in Donkey Kong, which Mitchell had set in 1982. Since the film was made, the Kong crown has been held by a number people including twice by Mitchell. Billy has agreed to put down the quarters and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.
It's a small class of video games that still draw interest or inspire an active community 20 years after their first release — even if we're now 40 years into the era of commercial video games. Games like Doom, the several iterations of Civilization, and the Mario Brothers franchise will probably be around and played in some form many decades hence. The X-COM family of games fits, too, having inspired various spiritual successors since its release in 1994. Now, an anonymous reader writes that the open source (GPL) " OpenXcom 1.0 is finally released, after 5224 commits, 1843 days, and 606 resolved issues since v0.9. 20 years of X-COM — XCOM oldschool lovers enjoy!"
Dave Knott (2917251) writes Montreal-based gaming company Amaya Gaming Group Inc. has agreed to purchase privately held Oldford Group, the owner of online poker websites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, for $4.9 billion. The deal marks the end of a remarkable story that began when Isai Scheinberg, an Israeli-Canadian former IBM computer programmer, founded PYR Software in Toronto and started building PokerStars, which eventually became the largest online poker site in the world. But in 2011, federal prosecutors in Manhattan launched a massive crackdown against online poker in the U.S., indicting Scheinbeg, suing PokerStars and shutting down the U.S. operations of the company for operating an illegal gambling business. In 2012, PokerStars struck a $731 million settlement with federal prosecutors that also saw the company acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker. However, reentering the vital U.S. market has proved difficult, and in the end, it started to make sense for the Scheinbergs to sell. The Scheinbergs will not remain with PokerStars in any capacity after the current deal closes. In a statement announcing the deal, Amaya said it believes the "transaction will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which Amaya already holds a footprint, particularly the U.S.A."
An anonymous reader writes: A while back we discussed Code Combat, a multiplayer game that lets players program their way to victory. They recently launched a tournament called Greed, where coders had to write algorithms for competitively collecting coins. 545 programmers participated, submitting over 126,000 lines of code, which resulted in 390 billion statements being executed on a 673-core supercomputer. The winner, going by the name of "Wizard Dude," won 363 matches, tied 14, and lost none! He explains his strategy: "My coin-collecting algorithm uses a novel forces-based mechanism to control movement. Each coin on the map applies an attractive force on collectors (peasants/peons) proportional to its value over distance squared. Allied collectors and the arena edges apply a repulsive force, pushing other collectors away. The sum of these forces produces a vector indicating the direction in which the collector should move this turn. The result is that: 1) collectors naturally move towards clusters of coins that give the greatest overall payoff, 2) collectors spread out evenly to cover territory. Additionally, the value of each coin is scaled depending on its distance from the nearest enemy collector, weighting in favor of coins with an almost even distance. This encourages collectors not to chase lost coins, but to deprive the enemy of contested coins first and leave safer coins for later."
An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix last week tested 65 graphics cards on open source drivers under Linux and the best result was generally with the open source AMD Radeon drivers. This week they put out a 35-graphics-card comparison using the proprietary AMD/NVIDIA drivers (with the other 30 cards being too old for the latest main drivers) under Ubuntu 14.04. The winner for proprietary GPU driver support on Linux was NVIDIA, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that Valve and other Linux game developers are frequently recommending NVIDIA graphics for their game titles while AMD Catalyst support doesn't usually come to games until later. The Radeon OpenGL performance with Catalyst had some problems, but at least its performance per Watt was respectable. Open-source fans are encouraged to use AMD hardware on Linux while those just wanting the best performance and overall experience should see NVIDIA with their binary driver."
vrml (3027321) writes As the player feels inner anger rising, the in-game character gets angry too and starts shouting and smashing things. Then, the player relaxes and the game character calms down and smiles. This is the kind of game control supported by a system demonstrated in a video released today by the Human-Computer Interaction Lab of the University of Udine. The system detects player's emotional state by using physiological sensors to measure player's skin conductance, facial muscles activity and cardiac parameters. It has been used to build gamified relaxation training and stress inoculation training applications.
jrepin (667425) writes "Aspyr Media, in partnership with 2K and Firaxis Games, announced that the critically acclaimed Sid Meier's Civilization V, and all available expansion packs and downloadable content, is now available on Linux for SteamOS. The title includes Steam Play support. This release of Sid Meier's Civilization V on Linux targets SteamOS and features support for Valve's upcoming Steam Controller."
An anonymous reader writes "Valve left many OEMs hanging when they delayed Steam machines until sometime next year to work out their controller issues. Many of these companies excitedly showed off new Steam machine hardware that they cannot ship, so Alienware has been the first to re-purpose its Debian-based Steam machine to be a Windows-based Steam machine bundled with an Xbox controller. While Windows 8.x has not been particularly well-received it does support a lot more games than Linux and when configured to boot straight into Steam Big Picture mode the influence of the underlying OS is visible only in the larger game library."
Vigile writes: NVIDIA announced its latest dual-GPU flagship card, the GeForce GTX Titan Z, at the GPU Technology Conference in late March with a staggering price point of $2999. Since that time, AMD announced and released the Radeon R9 295X2, its own dual-GPU card with a price tag of $1499. PC Perspective finally put the GTX Titan Z to the test and found that from a PC gamer's view, the card is way overpriced for the performance it offers. At both 2560x1440 and 3840x2160 (4K), the R9 295X2 offered higher and more consistent frame rates, sometimes by as much as 30%. The AMD card also only takes up two slots (though it does have a water cooling radiator to worry about) while the NVIDIA GTX Titan Z is a three-slot design. The Titan Z is quieter and uses much less power, but gamers considering a $1500 or $3000 graphics card selection are likely not overly concerned with power efficiency.
jones_supa (887896) writes 'Since the release of the extremely successful Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, rumors about PC — and later also an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — version have been floating around. Now it's official: Grand Theft Auto V will be released on Windows PC and Xbox One, in addition to PlayStation 4, this fall, publisher Rockstar Games announced today with a trailer. A post on Rockstar Newswire tells us that the ports will offer visual and technical improvements such as "increased draw distances, finer texture details, denser traffic and enhanced resolutions." All of the new GTA Online content that has been created and released since launch will be available also on the modern platforms. The PC version will exclusively include a video editor to allow players to put together their own clips of in-game action.'
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time in eight years, Sony has overtaken Nintendo on the total number of game consoles sold. Sony sold 18.7 million consoles in the last financial year, compared to Nintendo sales of 16.3 million. Sony's PlayStation 4 has emerged as the bestselling 'new-gen' console. But demand for Nintendo's Wii U — with its touchscreen controller — has lagged far behind the original Wii, which was the most popular hardware of the last generation."
An anonymous reader writes 'Earlier this month, at least three U.S. states reported that a hacker had broken into electronic road signs above major highways, with the hacker leaving messages for people to follow him on Twitter. The Multi-State Information Sharing an Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) produced an intelligence report blaming a Saudi Arabian hacker that the organization says likely got the idea from Watch Dogs, a new video in which game play revolves around "hacking," with a focus on hacking critical infrastructure-based electronic devices in particular. "Watch Dogs allows players to hack electronic road signs, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs), street lights, cell phones and other systems. On May 27, 2014, the malicious actor posted an image of the game on his Twitter feed, demonstrating his interest in the game, and the compromise of road signs occurs during game play. CIS believes it is likely that a small percentage of Watch Dogs players will experiment with compromising computers and electronic systems outside of game play, and that this activity will likely affect SSLT [state, local, tribal and territorial] government systems and Department of Transportation (DOT) systems in particular." The signs allowed telnet and were secured with weak or default passwords. The report came out on the same day that The Homeland Security Department cautioned transportation operators about a security hole in some electronic freeway billboards that could let hackers display bogus warnings to drivers.'
An anonymous reader writes "The original games developed by John Carmack, John Romero, and Adrian Carmack at Softdisk, where the legendary programmers originally met and went on to start id Software, have been open-sourced under the GPLv2. The games are now owned by Flat Rock Software and the open-source titles available are Catacomb, The Catacomb, Catacomb 3D, Catacomb Abyss, and Hovertank3D. The oldest of these games are written in Borland Turbo Pascal while the others are in Borland C++. The source-code can be downloaded from GitHub."
An anonymous reader writes "Wildly popular video game Tetris launched 30 years ago today, and continues to capture the hearts of folks around the world. Topping best-of video game lists for years, the colorful block puzzle has sold an estimated 170 million copies—about 100 million of which are played on mobile devices."
MojoKid (1002251) writes 'Microsoft confirmed a development rumor that's been swirling around its next-generation console ever since it announced Kinect would become an optional add-on rather than a mandatory boat anchor. Lifting that requirement will give game developers 10 percent additional graphics power to play with and help close the gap between the Xbox One and PS4. The story kicked off when Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted that June's Xbox One dev kit gave devs access to more GPU bandwidth. Further, another Microsoft representative then confirmed that the performance improvement coming in the next version of the Xbox SDK was the result of making Kinect an optional accessory. No matter how Microsoft may try to spin it, cancelling Kinect isn't just a matter of giving game developers freedom, it's a tacit admission that game developers have no significant projects in play that are expected to meaningfully tap Kinect to deliver a great game experience — and they need those GPU cycles back.' Also on the Xbox capabilities front: Reader BogenDorpher (2008682) writes 'In August of last year, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed that the Xbox One controller will be compatible for PC users sometime in 2014. That time has finally come. Windows gamers can now use the Xbox One controller to play games on their computer. If a game supports a USB gamepad or the Xbox 360 controller, it will also support the Xbox One controller.'
Linnen writes "Sony has started the process of phasing out its PSP handheld console. From The Guardian: 'Shipments to the U.S. ended this year, and they are closing in Japan soon. European stores will see their last arrivals toward Christmas. Launched in Japan in December 2004, it is almost 10 years old – not a bad achievement for a handheld that was almost written off early in its lifespan. ... The console struggled with high piracy levels of its titles, which meant the likes of EA, Activision and Ubisoft were reticent about committing to major development projects. However, the ease with which hackers were able to break the device's security system also meant that it became a favorite with the homebrew development scene, and amateur coders are still producing games and demos for the platform. Some look back on the machine as a failure beside the all-conquering Nintendo DS, but this is unfair. The console sold 80m units, a figure boosted by a series of excellent hardware and featureset updates, including the slimmer PSP-2000 and PSP-3000 models. '"
An anonymous reader writes "How good are open source graphics drivers in 2014 given all the Linux gaming and desktop attention? Phoronix has tested 65 different GPUs using the latest open source drivers covering Intel HD Graphics, NVIDIA GeForce, AMD Radeon, and AMD FirePro hardware. Of the 65 GPUs tested, only 50 of them had good enough open source driver support for running OpenGL games and benchmarks. Across the NVIDIA and AMD hardware were several pages of caveats with different driver issues encountered on Linux 3.15 and Mesa 10.3 loaded on Ubuntu 14.04. Intel graphics on Linux were reliable but slow while AMD's open-source Linux support was recommended over the NVIDIA support that doesn't currently allow for suitable graphics card re-clocking. Similar tests are now being done with the proprietary Linux drivers."
Dputiger writes: "Since NVIDIA debuted its GameWorks libraries there's been allegations that they unfairly disadvantaged AMD users or prevented developers from optimizing code. We've taken these questions to developers themselves and asked them to weigh in on how games get optimized, why NVIDIA built this program, and whether its an attempt to harm AMD customers. 'The first thing to understand about [developer/GPU manufacturer] relations is that the process of game optimization is nuanced and complex. The reason AMD and NVIDIA are taking different positions on this topic isn't because one of them is lying, it’s because AMD genuinely tends to focus more on helping developers optimize their own engines, while NVIDIA puts more effort into performing tasks in-driver. This is a difference of degree — AMD absolutely can perform its own driver-side optimization and NVIDIA's Tony Tamasi acknowledged on the phone that there are some bugs that can only be fixed by looking at the source. ... Some of this difference in approach is cultural but much of it is driven by necessity. In 2012 (the last year before AMD's graphics revenue was rolled into the console business), AMD made about $1.4 billion off the Radeon division. For the same period, NVIDIA made more than $4.2 billion. Some of that was Tegra-related and it's a testament to AMD's hardware engineering that it competes effectively with Nvidia with a much smaller revenue share, but it also means that Team Green has far more money to spend on optimizing every aspect of the driver stack.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The last time we saw Valve's prototype VR headset, which they said was built to the spec that could be found in a consumer product by 2015, it was a using an 'inside-out' tracking approach where a camera mounted on the VR headset tracked markers placed all over the walls and ceiling of the demo room. This week, at a VR meetup in Boston, Valve had a new prototype to show, featuring an 'outside-in' tracking approaching where a single camera trackings IR-LEDs built into the case of the VR headset, much like the forthcoming Oculus Rift DK2. Valve's latest prototype is thought to be using two 1080p displays in portrait orientation, compared to a single 1080p display in the Oculus Rift DK2."
SlappingOysters (1344355) writes "Grab It is reporting that Apple will stream its 2014 WWDC keynote live at 10am PST on June 2. The site speculates that a recent update to showcase title and previous keynote star Real Racing 3 could confirm a rumoured microconsole announcement. The App Store has seen a dramatic rise in the quality and frequency of AAA spin-off titles over the last year, giving Apple a good platform to make a move into this emerging space."
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Valve has announced that its Steam Machines won't be available in the market anytime in 2014. The company delayed the release due to ongoing work on the Steam Controller. Valve's Eric Hope explains on Steam Forums why the work on controller is causing the delay: 'We're now using wireless prototype controllers to conduct live playtests, with everyone from industry professionals to die-hard gamers to casual gamers. It's generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we'll be able to make the controller a lot better. Of course, it's also keeping us pretty busy making all those improvements. Realistically, we're now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014.'"
crookedvulture writes "In an article published by Forbes earlier this week, AMD lashed out at NVIDIA's GameWorks program, which includes Watch Dogs and other popular titles, such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin's Creed IV, and Batman: Arkham Origins. Technical communications lead for PC graphics Robert Hallock alleged that GameWorks deliberately cripples performance on AMD hardware. He also claimed that developers are prevented from working with AMD on game optimizations. The Forbes piece was fairly incriminating, but it didn't include any commentary from the other side of the fence. NVIDIA has now responded to the allegations, and as one might expect, it denies them outright. Director of engineering for developer technology Cem Cebenoyan says NVIDIA has never barred developers from working with AMD. In fact, he claims that AMD's own developer relations efforts have prevented NVIDIA from getting its hands on early builds of some games. AMD has said in the past that it makes no effort to prevent developers from working with NVIDIA. So, we have another round of he said, she said, with gamers caught in the middle and performance in newer titles hanging in the balance."
An anonymous reader writes "Over the past several years, as computers and networks have improved to handle heavier loads, it's become popular for people to stream video game footage over sites like YouTube and Twitch. Last year, Nintendo aggressively went after the players doing this for their games, hijacking the ad revenue generated through YouTube. It angered the gaming community, and was actively hostile to the people who were Nintendo's biggest fans. Now, Nintendo has partly walked back their position: they've agreed to share some of the advertising profits with the streamer. It's still hostile to the people actively putting Nintendo game playthroughs out there for others to watch, but it's a step in the right direction."
Today marked the launch of Watch Dogs, a highly-anticipated action-adventure game from Ubisoft. Early reviews for the game are fairly good, but not without complaints. Eurogamer said, 'Combat encounters also draw inspiration from existing games, with slightly stiff but workable sneaking and cover mechanics and decent if unremarkable gunplay. ... There's a sense of sterility beneath the surface, though. As dazzling as the game can look, this Chicago feels like a place you travel through rather than a world you inhabit. Pedestrians gasp and gawp at car crashes, but exhibit no real life.' Polygon's review complimented the bits of structure within the open-world game: "More than any stealth game I can think of, Watch Dogs does a remarkable job in allowing for proper preparation. It creates a universal environment of constant puzzle solving, which sits cozily next to all the action on display." Rock, Paper, Shotgun added, "It feels churlish to complain about something which is only magical 90% of the time, but in some things, ten percent can seep out and render the rest infuriating and useless." It's worth noting that some users are running into problems even playing game, thanks to authentication issues with Ubisoft's UPlay digital distribution service.
An anonymous reader writes "Google Glass is now becoming more widely available, but developers are only just starting to tap into the augmented reality specs' potential for gaming. A new report looks at some of the early experiments with the tech — leading the charge is indie developer Mind Pirate, the first studio to release a mobile game simultaneously on iPhone and Google Glass. But will others get on board? Will the explosion in popularity of virtual reality headsets help or hinder it? It's still a wild wild west.
'The potential of wearables will only be realized through thoughtful integration of hardware and software,' says Mind Pirate CEO Shawn Hardin. Right now, 'much of the mature infrastructure of the mobile arena' is missing in the world of wearables. The 'myriad of unique sensor and hardware configurations atop increasingly diverse operating systems' makes it particularly difficult for developers to get started."
'The potential of wearables will only be realized through thoughtful integration of hardware and software,' says Mind Pirate CEO Shawn Hardin. Right now, 'much of the mature infrastructure of the mobile arena' is missing in the world of wearables. The 'myriad of unique sensor and hardware configurations atop increasingly diverse operating systems' makes it particularly difficult for developers to get started."