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First Person Shooters (Games)

Windows 10's Store Locks 'Call of Duty' Purchasers Into Windows-10-Only Battles (vice.com) 174

An anonymous reader writes: Two Call of Duty games have been remastered for Windows 10, but if you buy them through the Windows 10 Store there's a problem. "Windows 10 Store players will be isolated from other PC versions of the game," reports the Windows Central site, noting a statement from Microsoft which implies that the decision was made by Activision.

"For unknown reasons, Windows 10 Store customers are segregated from customers who bought the game from Steam, which is by far the most popular platform on PC," reports Motherboard. "Call of Duty fans who made the unfortunate of mistake of giving Microsoft their cash are left sitting in lonely multiplayer lobbies waiting for games that'll never start."

Motherboard reports that at least one player successfully requested a refund, calling the situation "another black eye for a digital storefront that PC gamers already avoid like the plague."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Blizzard Launches A Professional Sports League For 'Overwatch' (usatoday.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: One of Blizzard Entertainment's hottest video games is making the jump into a professional sports league. [Blizzard] announced Friday the launch of Overwatch League, a professional video gaming league kicking off its inaugural season during the second half of 2017... Blizzard says the league will combine competitive video gaming -- better known as eSports with hallmarks of professional sports leagues like the National Football League, complete with teams based in various cities worldwide featuring owners who will cultivate team and player development... Blizzard will start by recruiting prospective owners representing cities in the Americas, Europe, Asia and other parts of the globe... Players who get picked up by a team are guaranteed contracts complete with benefits, and owners will be required to take steps to develop their players and grow their fan bases.
Overwatch already has 20 million players after just four months. Could professional videogame competitions someday become more popular than football?
Classic Games (Games)

The NES Classic is a $60 Single Board Computer Running Linux 121

"Nintendo's accurate NES emulator apparently needs no less than a quad-core CPU," joked Ars Technica. "The next step, of course, is unscrewing of the nostalgic little box to see how it ticks -- and whether its limited functionality might ever be expanded, either officially or by hackers." Slashdot reader romiz summarizes what's inside Nintendo's new miniature emulator for classic games: With a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7, 256 MB of RAM, and 512 MB of NAND Flash, it is typical of the hardware found in Linux single board computers, like the Raspberry Pi 2. Surprisingly for Nintendo, there does not seem to be any custom components in it, and it looks like it even does run Linux. [YouTube video] The GPL license for the kernel and many other open source components is visible in the legal information screen. The source, however, is not yet available on Nintendo's open source page.

But it is the re-edition a 1980s video console: there is no network access, no hardware expansion port, and the 30 games cannot be changed. Changing the system running on it will probably be difficult.
AI

Google's DeepMind AI Plans To Take On StarCraft II (venturebeat.com) 75

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google and Blizzard are opening up StarCraft II to anyone who wants to teach artificial intelligence systems how to conduct warfare. Researchers can now use Google's DeepMind A.I. to test various theories for ways that machines can learn to make sense of complicated systems, in this case Blizzard's beloved real-time strategy game. In StarCraft II, players fight against one another by gathering resources to pay for defensive and offensive units. It has a healthy competitive community that is known for having a ludicrously high skill level. But considering that DeepMind A.I. has previously conquered complicated turn-based games like chess and go, a real-time strategy game makes sense as the next frontier. The companies announced the collaboration today at the BlizzCon fan event in Anaheim, California, and Google's DeepMind A.I. division posted a blog about the partnership and why StarCraft II is so ideal for machine-learning research. If you're wondering how much humans will have to teach A.I. about how to play and win at StarCraft, the answer is very little. DeepMind learned to beat the best go players in the world by teaching itself through trial and error. All the researchers had to do was explain how to determine success, and the A.I. can then begin playing games against itself on a loop while always reinforcing any strategies that lead to more success. For StarCraft, that will likely mean asking the A.I. to prioritize how long it survives and/or how much damage it does to the enemy's primary base. Or, maybe, researchers will find that defining success in a more abstract way will lead to better results, discovering the answers to all of this is the entire point of Google and Blizzard teaming up.
Facebook

Facebook Officially Announces Gameroom, Its PC Steam Competitor (techcrunch.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: After losing mobile gaming to iOS and Android, Facebook is making a big push into playing on PC with today's developer launch of its Gameroom Windows desktop gaming platform. After months of name changes, beta tests and dev solicitation, Facebook opened up the beta build for all developers and officially named it Gameroom. The app is openly available for users to download on Windows 7 and up. Gameroom let users play web, ported mobile and native Gameroom games in a dedicated PC app free from the distractions of the News Feed. Gameroom will have to fight a steep uphill battle again Valve's Steam platform, which has well over 125 million active users, with millions actually playing at any given moment. Facebook will need to convince developers that Gameroom will share its social network's massive reach and is therefore worth their while. Then it will have to persuade gamers that a more social experience is worth diving into a new platform. If Facebook succeeds, there are plenty of potential benefits to owning a gaming destination. Facebook announced the launch and name change from "Facebook Games Arcade" today at Unity's game development platform conference. Unity 5.6 shipping next year will allow devs to export their games directly to Facebook Gameroom, as well as to the WebGL standard. Facebook's director of global games platform, Leo Olebe, touted how Facebook will feature new games in the Gameroom to give developers a leg up.
DRM

EA Blocks 'Origin' Access In Six Countries, Citing US Embargoes (pcgamer.com) 121

An anonymous reader writes: "In compliance with US embargoes and sanctions laws, Origin is not available in Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine (Crimea region)," a community manager from EA posted in September. Engadget calls it "a reminder of the risks you take when buying copy-protected game downloads... Even if you started your account elsewhere, you aren't allowed to either visit the Origin store or use any of your purchased games."

Sunday an employee at EA's Origin game store commented "This isn't an EA-specific issue -- it's an issue that impacts all companies offering services that are covered by trade embargoes." But since the U.S. lifted sanctions on Myanmar in September, EA "is internally reviewing the situation... It's unclear to me whether we can do anything for residents of other countries that are still similarly embargoed, but I'll bring the topic up for discussion internally."

Emulation (Games)

Archive.org Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary (sfchronicle.com) 42

20 years ago this week, Archive.org started with just 500,000 sites. An anonymous reader quotes the San Francisco Chronicle: Now, the nonprofit San Francisco organization -- which celebrated the milestone with a party Wednesday night -- curates a vast digital archive that includes more than 370 million websites and 273 billion pages, many captured before they disappeared forever. It's more than an archive of Internet sites. The organization, founded by computer scientist and entrepreneur Brewster Kahle, now has a virtual storehouse ranging from digitally converted books and historic film to funny memes and audio recordings of Grateful Dead concerts...

The Internet Archive has survived through community donations and by working with about 1,000 libraries around the world that pay the group to help digitize books and other material. But the site itself remains free.

We've written about Archive.org over the years, and its collection of 2,400 DOS games, over 10,000 Amiga games (and other software) and a massive collection of arcade machine emulators. And here's what Slashdot looked like back in 1998. But what's your favorite page on Archive.org?
Classic Games (Games)

New Text Adventures Compete In 22nd 'Interactive Fiction Competition' (ifcomp.org) 25

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: 58 brand-new text adventures are now available free online for the 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. The public is encouraged to play the games, and on November 16th the contest's organizers will announce which ones received the highest average ratings. After 22 years, the contest is now under "the auspices of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation, a new, charitable non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting the technologies and services that enable IF creation and play..." according to the contest's organizers. "[T]he competition now runs on servers paid for by the IF-loving public, and for this I feel sincere gratitude."
Classic Games (Games)

Super Mario 'Speed Runners' Are Setting New World Records (fivethirtyeight.com) 62

Virginia software engineer Brad Myers has played Super Mario 22,000 times, and just set a new speed record earlier this month -- 4 minutes and 56.878 seconds. An anonymous Slashdot reader summarizes a new article at FiveThirtyEight: "In this 31-year-old video game, there is a full-on, high-speed assault on Bowser's castle under way right now..." writes Oliver Roeder, describing a collaborative community of both theorists and experimentalists "who test the theories in game after callus-creating game... 'Everything in my run, so many people contributed so much knowledge at various points in the game's history,' Myers told me. 'Now someone can come along and use that as their starting point.'"

Online broadcasts form a kind of peer-review system, with an ever-expanding canon of tricks -- for example, intentionally bumping into objects for a slight increase in speed. But the success rate for the maneuver is estimated at 3%, meaning speed runners spend most of their time stating over. "On average, about 1 out of 1,000 times does a record-setting campaign continue beyond its halfway point..."

PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro (theverge.com) 71

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.
Nintendo

Nintendo Unveils 'Switch', Its New Gaming Console and Tablet Hybrid (engadget.com) 269

And finally, we know what's Nintendo's next gaming console will look like. The company today released a "preview trailer" of the Nintendo Switch, or "Project NX" as we liked to call it before today. Engadget adds: Like the countless rumors previously asserted, it's indeed a hybrid mobile and home console with a tablet element and detachable controllers. The tablet itself (which Nintendo calls "the Switch Console" is thin and pretty attractive. It looks to have a screen measuring around 7 inches, of unspecified resolution. At home, it'll plug into the "Switch Dock," which in turn plugs into your TV. In the trailer, a gamer plugs in what looks to be an SD Card-style cartridge, meaning games are likely to be distributed both digitally and physically. It's powered by an unspecified custom Nvidia Tegra processor.Nintendo said it intends to launch the Switch in March of 2017.
Cellphones

Samsung Forced YouTube To Pull GTA 5 Mod Video Because It Showed Galaxy Note 7 As Bomb (redmondpie.com) 219

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Redmond Pie: The Galaxy Note 7 wasn't just recalled, it was cancelled. For good. And that makes Samsung very cranky indeed. So when YouTube user HitmanNiko created a video showing a Grand Theft Auto 5 mod in which Galaxy Note 7 handsets can be used as grenades, it's perhaps somewhat understandable that someone inside Samsung took offense to the idea. What's incomprehensible though is the fact that Samsung has apparently set about trying to erase that video, and presumably others like it, from the Internet. The first step? Forcing YouTube to remove HitmanNiko's video. Trying to view the video now does nothing but display a message which says that the video is "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Samsung Electronics America" which leaves quite the bad taste in our mouths. The biggest issue here is that this is arguably the worst misuse of the DMCA we have ever come across, simply because nothing was copied, unless Samsung is trying to claim that by making the in-game grenades look like Galaxy Note 7 smartphones then the video creator was in fact in breach of copyright.
Nintendo

Nintendo NX Will Be Officially Revealed Tomorrow (gamespot.com) 35

An anonymous reader quotes a report from GameSpot: Nintendo confirmed this evening that it will broadcast new details about the company's next big console on Thursday, October 20 at 7am PT | 10am ET. We don't yet know how long it'll be. We don't know if we'll see games or hardware. But it's going to be exciting. Notably, Nintendo calls the announcement a "trailer" and not a full direct presentation. But regardless, we'll update this page tomorrow with a link to whatever Nintendo unveils. While we've known about the NX for quite a while, Nintendo has been stoic on any specific details. Back in 2015, the device was rumored to be a console/handheld hybrid, and current speculation says the device will use cartridges. But no matter what it looks like, Nintendo has confirmed two things: it's slated to launch in March of 2017, and it will be able to play the upcoming Zelda game Breath of the Wild. Nintendo of America tweeted about the big news earlier today, alongside a picture of Mario: "Be among the first to discover #NX. Watch the Preview Trailer at 7am PT/10am ET!"
Businesses

Amazon Showcases Twitch With a Massive Free Videogame (latimes.com) 59

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "Amazon.com's first big-budget video game is like street basketball, except played in a mythological world where athletes are armed," reports the Los Angeles Times, adding "Wait, Amazon makes video games?" Indeed. Two weeks ago Amazon Game Studios held their first live "unboxing event", and PlayBreakaway.com is now accepting sign-ups for alpha playtesting of their new Twitch-optimized team-based title, promising a game "made by streamers, for streamers." ("Taunt every interception, celebrate every kill, and highlight your dominance with instant replays...")

"If you think about what makes games so fantastic, it's the experiences you have with your friends," explained one Amazon Games official, in an interview with the Times Friday. "A long time ago it was in arcades, then over local networks, then online and now you have Twitch and e-sports and modding and cosplay. They are all about shared experiences."

DRM

Shadow Warrior 2 Developers Say DRM Is a Waste of Time (arstechnica.com) 99

zarmanto writes: Ars Technica reports that one particular game studio might finally get it, when it comes to DRM'ed game content. They're publishing their latest game, Shadow Warrior 2, with no DRM protection at all. From the article: "We don't support piracy, but currently there isn't a good way to stop it without hurting our customers," Flying Wild Hog developer Krzysztof "KriS" Narkowicz wrote on the game's Steam forum (in response to a question about trying to force potential pirates to purchase the game instead). "Denuvo means we would have to spend money for making a worse version for our legit customers. It's like the FBI warning screen on legit movies." Expanding on those thoughts in a recent intervew with Kotaku, Narkowicz explained why he felt the DRM value proposition wasn't worth it. "Any DRM we would have needs to be implemented and tested," he told Kotaku. "We prefer to spend resources on making our game the best possible in terms of quality, rather than spending time and money on putting some protection that will not work anyway." "The trade-off is clear," Flying Wild Hog colleagues Artur Maksara and Tadeusz Zielinksi added. "We might sell a little less, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles! We hope that our fans, who were always very supportive, will support us this time as well," Zielinski told Kotaku. "...In our imperfect world, the best anti-pirate protection is when the games are good, highly polished, easily accessible and inexpensive," Maksara added.
PlayStation (Games)

You Can Now Claim Your Cash In the PS3 'Other PS3' Settlement (arstechnica.com) 85

If you've purchased a "fat" PlayStation 3 before April of 2010, you can now claim up to $55 as part of the settlement over the removal of the console's "Other OS" feature. PS3 owners with proof of purchase or evidence of a PSN sign-in from the system can receive $9 from the company. However, if you've used the "Other OS" feature to install Linux on your PS3, you can receive $55. The online claim form can be found here. Ars Technica reports: The opening of claims after a long legal saga that began in March of 2010, when Sony announced it would be removing the "Other OS" feature from the PS3. Sony claimed it was a security concern, but many class-action lawsuits filed in 2010 alleged the company was more worried about software piracy. While one lawsuit over the matter was dismissed by a judge in 2011, another worked its way through the courts until June, when Sony finally decided to settle. Though the company doesn't admit any wrongdoing, it puts itself on the hook for payments to up to 10 million PS3 owners. Note to those affected: "Claims are due by December 7, and payments should be sent out early next year pending final approval of the settlement."
Microsoft

Pokemon Go Could Add 2.83 Million Years To Users' Lives, Says Study (cnn.com) 156

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: A new study from Microsoft Research found that the most interested Pokemon Go players took 26% more steps than before using the app. The largest behavior changes were seen among sedentary users. No matter their gender, age, weight or lifestyle, Pokemon Go users began to move more -- taking an extra 194 steps a day once they started using the app. (That's the equivalent of walking roughly one tenth of a mile.) The researchers estimate that Pokemon Go has added 144 billion steps to U.S. physical activity. That's 143 roundtrips to the moon. The study was published online this month in the Cornell Library University. Since activity reduces mortality risks, the researchers estimated that Pokemon Go could add 2.83 million years to the life expectancy of an assumed 25 million U.S. users. Based off research that showed walking reduces mortality, the researchers calculated that Pokemon Go users who continued to walk an extra 1,000 steps a day would enjoy 41.4 days of additional life expectancy. The Microsoft scientists examined data shared by 31,793 users of Microsoft Band, a wearable device, and Bing, the company's search engine. They compared the movement data from the wearables with users' web search queries. Pokemon Go players were identified by web searches that indicated they were playing the game. The Microsoft team also looked at four of the most popular health apps on Apple and Android devices. They found these apps had little impact on a person's behavior. The activity levels of Pokemon Go users changed far more.
Government

How a Video Game About Sheep Exposes the FBI's Broken FOIA System (dailydot.com) 116

blottsie writes from a report via Daily Dot: Earlier this year, the FBI released a free, online video game featuring sheep in its attempts to fight terrorism recruitment efforts. The game is called The Slippery Slope of Violent Extremism, and it is a real thing that exists. You can play it here. After journalists filed a FOIA request to find out more about the game, the FBI said it would take two years to respond -- a staggeringly long wait that helps expose how the Bureau actively avoids responding to open-records requests. The information requested asked for "all documents -- specifically memos, email correspondence, and budgets -- around the development, release, and public reception of the FBI's Slippery Slope game. It's the one with the sheep." There are several reasons why it would take two years to respond. One reason is because of the lack of requests. "If 500 people want to have the FBI file on a famous dead person, that's going to be available, and it's going to be available quickly," J. Pat Brown, an employee at MuckRock, a nonprofit that helps journalists, researchers, good government groups, and interested members of the public make FOIA requests of government agencies, said. "But basic requests about agency activities are pushed into their own pile," adds Daily Dot. Another part of the problem has to do with the outdated technology used by government agencies. "Many of the computers the FBI is using to search for this material are from the 1980s and lack graphical interfaces. Outdated technology being a hurdle to government transparency is common across many federal agencies. The CIA only accepts FOIA request by fax machine, for example," reports Daily Dot. "In 2013, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which oversees the NSA among other agencies, was unable to accept FOIA requests for months because its fax machine broke and it had to wait until the next fiscal year to get it replaced." What's more is that government agencies are often not required to disclose information after long wait times for processing FOIAs. "As Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the Daily Dot in 2014, she once waited four years with near total silence on a FOIA request about the TSA's airport body-scanner technology only to get a note out of the blue from TSA saying she had to respond with 30 days if she wanted them to continue processing her request," reports Daily Dot. "When McCall reached out to others who had made FOIA requests to agencies under the Department of Homeland Security umbrella, they reported similar experiences."
Television

Sharp Unveils 27-inch 8K 120Hz IGZO Monitor With HDR (monitornerds.com) 105

Sharp has unveiled a next-gen monitor that is an absolute mouthful. It measures in at 27-inches and features a 8K resolution (7,680 x 4,320), HDR (high dynamic range), and a 120Hz refresh rate. Monitornerds reports: Sharp says that the IGZO name is an acronym for the semiconductor materials used in the monitor's backplane. It is comprised of indium, gallium, zinc, and oxygen. This material can also be utilized with several types of panels such as IPS, TN, and even OLED. The IGZO technology has benefits compared to standard silicon semiconductors in which the electron mobility is 20 to 50 times higher which translates to higher frame rates. It also uses smaller transistors, which translates to higher pixel density as well as lower power consumption. The panel which is show at the Sharp exhibit is a 27-inch model with a very notable pixel density of 326ppi: double in comparison to the average 150ppi of 4K monitors. It has a stunning 33 million pixels under its belt as well as HDR technology which promises that this monitor can deliver stunning images with ease. Sharp didn't disclose a price for the television, nor did they say whether or not the unit will be mass produced. However, we can imagine the monitor will cost a pretty penny if it ever makes it to the market.
Facebook

Zuckerberg Teases An 'Affordable' Standalone Oculus VR Headset (techcrunch.com) 63

At the Oculus Connect developers conference today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg teased a standalone Oculus VR headset that fits somewhere imbetween the Gear VR consumer headset for Samsung Galaxy users and the high-end Oculus Rift headset designed for professional gamers. TechCrunch reports: The hallmark feature of the new prototype standalone headset is positional tracking. In a brief demo video, the headset appeared to be a modified Rift with a compute module embedded into the back of the headset. This positional tracking technology allows the headset to understand where it is in physical space and adjust the onscreen content accordingly. With 360 videos, you're limited to a spherical viewpoint from a fixed point, but with positional tracking enabled you can walk through an experience and see a story from every angle. There's a reason that plenty of enthusiasts refer to this as the hallmark feature of "real VR." Zuckerberg said development is still incredibly early, but that it's on the product roadmap. Unbelievably the word "affordable" was mentioned at some point. Oculus did also announce that its Oculus Touch motion controllers will be coming out on December 6th. They will cost $199, and will put the combined Oculus Rift price at roughly $800. Pre-orders for Touch start on October 10th.

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