Hesh writes "The space-pirates themed Project Holodeck game is a VR game that is initially targeted for the Oculus Rift and will marry VR with a world so interactive and immersive that it feels like you can reach out and touch it. Ben Lang over at RoadToVR recently got a chance to sit down with the team and try it out. He came out extremely impressed with how immersive the experience was: '...at one point I needed to set the Razer Hydra controllers down to adjust my helmet and I nearly tried to set them down on a virtual table next to me. There was no table in real life — had I not quickly realized what I was about to do, I would have dropped the controllers straight onto the floor below.'"
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Jon Brodkin writes "I’ve been a longtime fan of Brain Age. Mixed in among the standard-issue kill-everything-you-see/race/sports types of games that dominate gaming, Brain Age on the Nintendo DS always provided something unique, fun, and mentally stimulating. Doing math problems, counting syllables, recognizing patterns, and memorizing stuff was far more enjoyable than anyone would have expected in Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day, the game that kicked off the series seven years ago. Based on the research of neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, the exercises are designed to improve brain function—or at least give players the illusion that they’re getting smarter. Nintendo developed several sequels and spinoffs for the DS after that first game, and now a Nintendo 3DS-exclusive entry is here with Brain Age: Concentration Training, released as a download and physical media this past weekend for $30. Some improvements in gameplay are readily apparent. Handwriting recognition is significantly better. You play the game by holding the 3DS upright, rather than sideways like a book, and it works so well I wonder why previous Brain Age games used the wacky book-like layout at all." Read below to see what Jon thinks of the 3DS-exclusive version.
MojoKid writes "A few weeks back, we discussed whether a new GPU like the GeForce GTX 660 could breathe new life into an older quad-core gaming system built in mid 2008. The answer concluded was definitely yes — but many readers asked to reconsider the question, this time using a lower-end dual-core Core 2 Duo. The Core 2 Duo CPU chip used was a first-generation C2D part based on Intel's 65nm Conroe core. It's clocked at 3GHz with 4MB of L2 cache and has a 1333MHz FSB. The CPU was paired with 3GB of DDR2-1066 memory. The long and short of it is, you can upgrade the graphics card on a six year-old dual core machine and expect to see a noticeable improvement in game performance — significant gains in fact, up to 50 percent or more."
MojoKid writes "Sony's next-generation PS4 unveil is just two weeks away, which means leaks concerning both it and Microsoft's next-generation Xbox Durango (sometimes referred to as the Xbox 720), are at an all-time high as well. Rumors continue to swirl that the next iteration of Xbox will lock out used games entirely and require a constant Internet connection. New games would come with a one-time activation code to play. Use the code, and the game is locked to the particular console or Xbox Live account it's loaded on. Physical games will still be sold (the Durango reportedly supports 50GB Blu-ray Discs), but the used game market? Kiboshed. If this is true, it's an ugly move on Microsoft's part. Not only does it annihilate the right of first sale, it'll eviscerate any game store or business that depends on video game rentals for revenue."
An anonymous reader writes "Joachim Kempin, former vice president of Windows Sales, has explained how the original Xbox came to be. It turns out it was Sony's fault, simply because the Japanese company wasn't very friendly towards Microsoft, and Microsoft eventually decided they had to 'stop Sony.' Apparently, long before the Xbox was even an idea, Microsoft was trying to collaborate with Sony in a number of areas they thought there was overlap. That collaboration was sought before even Sony had a games console coming to market, and would have focused on products for the entertainment sector."
crookedvulture writes "Barebones mini PCs have been around for a while, and the latest one from Zotac is pretty unique. For $270, the Zbox ID42 offers a Sandy Bridge CPU, a discrete GeForce graphics processor, and all the integrated I/O and networking you'd expect from a modern PC. You have to add your own memory, hard drive, and operating system, but the latter shouldn't cost you a dime. The Zbox works well with not only Windows, but also Linux. Ubuntu even recognizes the included remote, which can be used to wake up the system, control XBMC, and navigate Steam's Big Picture interface. Team Fortress 2 for Linux is actually playable, albeit at a relatively low resolution and detail level. The hardware seems better suited to casual games. Zotac also makes a Plus version of the Zbox that comes bundled with RAM and a hard drive, but it costs an extra $130, and you can get much better components if you add them yourself. The user-friendly chassis makes filling out the system a trivial undertaking."
LordStormes writes "JJ Abrams, who apparently plans to direct every movie for the rest of time, is teaming with Gabe Newell and Valve to explore films for both the Half-Life and Portal franchises. 'Abrams and Newell made the surprise, succinct announcement at the end of their keynote speech, which took the form of a carefully rehearsed discussion between the two creatives about the strengths and weaknesses of games and movies as storytelling mediums. ... "Movies let you experience moments that you might not think are the point, but really are everything,” Abrams said, pointing to the early introduction of compressed air canisters in the opening scenes of the movie Jaws, which initially seem unimportant but prove consequential to the film’s ending. Newell pointed out that the “take your child to work” scene in Portal 2 accomplished the same thing, setting up important plot points in a way that made them initially seem like humorous throwaways.' No word on Half-Life 3, sadly..."
An anonymous reader writes "The lima driver project, the open source reverse engineered graphics driver for the ARM Mali, now has Quake 3 Arena timedemo running 2% faster than the ARM Binary driver." There's a video showing it off. Naturally, a few caveats apply; the major one is that they don't have a Free shader compiler and are forced to rely on the proprietary one from ARM, for now.
An anonymous reader writes "The WSJ reports that OUYA, the $100 Android-based gaming console, will reach retail availability in June. The makers have partnered with Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, and Target for distributing the devices. The console will come with a controller (which has the traditional thumbsticks, D-pad, buttons, and triggers as well as a built-in touchpad), and additional controllers will be sold for $50. OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman said, 'For the last year or two years all we've been hearing is that the consoles are dead. The reason is there isn't new, innovative intellectual property. It's expensive to develop on it. You're seeing a major shift of games being developed on the television. Our viewpoint has always been that console gaming isn't dead, the way we think about it hasn't changed. We're bringing the best screen and the best device to interact with that by creating a platform that is open.' There was a recent 'Game Jam' to create game prototypes for the console; you can browse the 166 entries."
An anonymous reader writes "OnLive's had a tough twelve months any way you look at it, but as a new profile of the cloud game streaming service points out, throughout it all, service never dropped, and the number of platforms it's on keeps growing. Up next is the tiny Ouya console, but in a wide-ranging interview, OnLive's general manager talks up plans to bring MMOs to the service, and even a whole new type of video game, one that will run on many servers, not just one PC: 'Look at how CGI has changed cinema over the last few years — you can do CGI essentially realtime. It could completely change what a video game looks like. That leads us to new technologies. Then game designers say, "What could I really do with a computing platform that is so powerful but also available across so many devices?" You're no longer constrained by computing power — that has tremendous opportunity.'"
FatLittleMonkey writes "Researchers in Germany have developed a device that allows users of portable devices, such as smartphones, experience force-feedback from games using just their own muscles... and a small EMS device. When stimulated by a painless electric pulse, the player's arm moves the device in whichever direction the game commands. The player then fights the movement with their other muscles, creating a strong sensation that the device itself is bucking in their hands. According to the developers, users found the sensation much more realistic than traditional vibrotactile feedback. (Should make PvP more interesting too.)"
When the Wii U was released at the end of last year, Nintendo got a head-start on the long-awaited new generation of video game consoles. Now, Sony has announced a press conference for February 20th that is expected to unveil the PlayStation 4, codenamed 'Orbis.' This will precede the announcement of the Xbox 360's successor, codenamed 'Durango,' but that too will likely be announced by E3 in June. Specs for development kits of both systems have leaked widely. The two systems both use 8-core AMD chips clocked around 1.6 GHz. Durango has 8GB of DDR3 RAM, while Orbis has 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, though Sony is trying to push that up to 8GB for the console's final spec. Reports also suggest Sony is tinkering with its controller design, going so far as to add a "Share" button to let people exchange screenshots and recordings. Developers indicate the systems are very close in power, though Sony's system currently has an edge. With the upcoming announcement of the PS4, the big-three console makers will kick off a new round of direct competition. They'll maneuver to one-up each other with the most powerful hardware and the slickest software. However, they'll also hope the release of three major consoles in rapid succession will help to anchor a part of the games industry that no longer enjoys the dominance it once did, thanks to threats from mobile.
silentbrad sends word of a recent lecture given by Valve's Gabe Newell to a college class. He had some interesting remarks about the future of games in the living room: "The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform," Newell said. "I think that there's a scenario where we see sort of a dumbed down living room platform emerging — I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily. The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room? ... We're happy to do it if nobody else will do it, mainly because everybody else will pile on, and people will have a lot of choices, but they'll have those characteristics. They'll say, 'Well, I could buy a console, which assumes I'll re-buy all my content, have a completely different video system, and, oh, I have a completely different group of friends, apparently. Or I can just extend everything I love about the PC and the internet into the living room.' ... I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together." There's another hour-long lecture from Newell posted on YouTube talking about productivity, economics, and the future of corporations. Speaking of Steam, reader skade88 points out an article at Linux.com about the current state of the Steam for Linux beta.
An anonymous reader writes "The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) has sued computer game distributor Valve because it prohibits Steam-gamers from reselling their games. Steam users own the games they purchase and should be able to resell them when they want to, just like owners of traditional card or board games can, said Carola Elbrecht, project manager for consumer rights in the digital world at the VZVB, on Thursday. But while those traditional game owners can resell their games whenever they like, Steam users often cannot, she said."
mikejuk writes "It is reported that Microsoft has sent an email to DirectX/XNA MVPs which informs them that they are no longer needed because XNA and DirectX are no longer evolving. What does this mean? If you don't need MVPs then presumably you anticipate nothing to support in the future."
FhnuZoag writes "Eurogamer has an expose of the shady world of games developers licensing guns. From the article: '"We must be paid a royalty fee — either a one-time payment or a percentage of sales, all negotiable. Typically, a licensee pays between 5 per cent to 10 per cent retail price for the agreement. [...] We want to know explicitly how the rifle is to be used, ensuring that we are shown in a positive light... Such as the 'good guys' using the rifle," says [Barett Rifles'] Vaughn.'"
First time accepted submitter DiscountBorg(TM) writes "An employee of the Canada Revenue Agency lost his job after releasing a humorous game in which the player answers customer service calls for the Agency, usually leading to his termination. In an email National Revenue Minister Gail Shea said: 'The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable. The Minister has asked the Commissioner (of Revenue, Andrew Treusch) to investigate and take any and all necessary corrective action. The Minister has asked the CRA to investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised.'"
Space MMORPG EVE Online is best known for its amazing stories, and on Sunday it added a new epic tale. The leader of a huge coalition, preparing for a moderately sized assault, mis-clicked and accidentally warped himself into enemy territory without his support fleet, endangering his massive ship worth an estimated $3,500. Realizing the danger, he called upon every ally he could, and the enemy fleet rallied in turn, leading to an incredible 3,000-player battle. What's also impressive is that the EVE servers stayed up for the whole fight, when most MMOs struggle with even a few hundred players at the same time. The Penny Arcade report spoke with CCP Games for some information on how they managed that: "It’s hard to wrap your head around, but they sometimes move the in-game space itself. 'We move other solar systems on the node away from the fight. This disconnects anyone in those systems temporarily, but spares them from the ongoing symptoms of being on an overloaded server,' Veritas explained. 'It helps the fight system a little bit as well, especially if a reinforcement fleet is traveling through those other systems. This was done for the fight over the weekend, but is rare.' ... They do have a built-in mechanism for dealing with massive battles, however: They slow down time itself. ... Once server load reaches a certain point, the game automatically slows down time by certain increments to deal with the strain. Time was running at 10% speed during this 3,000-person battle, which is the maximum amount of time dilation possible."
An anonymous reader writes "EA's latest SimCity game requires users to log on online even for single player. After being unable to log on for three hours, one of its users chimed in with his very polite $0.02 opinion, only to get himself banned by EA admins. Another great victory for DRM." Update: 01/29 18:00 GMT by S : The player's ban has been lifted, and it seems to have happened for an unrelated issue anyway.
jones_supa writes "The Chinese government is discussing whether to lift its 12-year ban on game consoles which was established due to fear of harming the physical and mental development of the young. Even during this period consoles have been sold illegally and things like Kinect can be sold for other purposes such as medical treatment and education. Major game console vendors across the world made several attempts but failed to find a way to enter the Chinese mainland market officially, even though they have solid manufacturing bases there. 'We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market,' a source from the Ministry of Culture, who asked not to be named, said."