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Australia

Google Searches For 'VR Porn' Increase 10,000% (vrtalk.com) 80

Slashdot reader Bob768 writes: Over the last 20 months, with the rise of virtual reality technology, the number of Google searches for the phrase 'VR Porn' have soared nearly 10,000%. The leading country for these searches is Norway.
Last November searches for the term experienced the "spike of all spikes", according to a post on the VR Talk forum, which also identifies the top cities (two in Australia) for the searches -- Helsinki, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Seoul.
Space

Why Did The Stars Wars and Star Trek Worlds Turn Out So Differently? (marginalrevolution.com) 359

HughPickens.com writes: In the Star Trek world there is virtual reality, personal replicators, powerful weapons, and, it seems, a very high standard of living for most of humanity, while in Star Wars there is widespread slavery, lots of people seem to live at subsistence, and eventually much of the galaxy falls under the Jedi Reign of Terror. Why the difference? Tyler Cowen writes about some of the factors differentiating the world of Star Wars from that of Star Trek: 1) The armed forces in Star Trek seem broadly representative of society. Compare Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu to the Imperial Storm troopers. 2) Captains Kirk and Picard do not descend into true power madness, unlike various Sith leaders and corrupted Jedi Knights. 3) In Star Trek, any starship can lay waste to a planet, whereas in Star Wars there is a single, centralized Death Star and no way to oppose it, implying stronger checks and balances in the world of Star Trek. 4) Star Trek embraces egalitarianism, namely that all humans consider themselves part of the same broader species. There is no special group comparable to the Jedi or the Sith, with special powers in their blood. 5) Star Trek replicators are sufficiently powerful it seems slavery is highly inefficient in that world.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Preferred Media Streaming Device? 226

New submitter bkr1_2k writes: Way back when, I had a PC dedicated as a media server using MythTV. That died and I didn't bother building a new one. Consumer electronics caught up and I recently bought an Apple TV (3rd Generation) to use for streaming my media library. I am, unsurprisingly, finding flaws with it. I'm looking for alternative devices that allow me to stream from my media server directly, without the need for a middleman app like iTunes for the Apple TV. I don't need a ton of streaming services (we have Netflix and Amazon Prime but don't use anything else). I primarily want to use this for streaming my own music and movie libraries over my home network, preferably with a user interface that lets me browse those in a fashion that doesn't force me to scroll through my whole library to get to the title that starts with the letter "Z" (A very poor design choice in the Apple TV). Nor do I want any voice controls since they all suck, in my experience. I would prefer an 'open' device that I can update at will with add-ons, but it's not a requirement. What are the current options out there? Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast. Anything else that might fit my needs better? Last week, we asked a similar question: "What's your preferred music streaming service?"
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Giving Students a Free Xbox One With Surface Pro 4 Purchases (theverge.com) 52

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a sweet deal for any student on the fence on purchasing the Surface Pro 4. The company has said that it will be taking $300 off when students purchase a Surface Pro 4 and Xbox One. In a statement to The Verge, Terry Myerson, head of Windows and devices at Microsoft said, "So basically a free Xbox One with the purchase of a Surface Pro 4." The deal is only running at Microsoft's retail stores in the United States. The deal goes live today and will last until August 14.
The Almighty Buck

RIP Xbox Fitness: Users Will Soon Lose Access To Workout Videos They Bought (arstechnica.com) 115

insitus quotes a report from Ars Technica: Xbox users who purchased training videos through the Xbox Fitness app probably thought they were buying a workout program they'd be able to use regularly for the life of the Xbox One, at the very least. Instead, those videos will soon be completely unavailable to those who paid for them up front, according to a "sunset" plan announced by Microsoft yesterday evening. Xbox Fitness first launched in late 2013 with the console, offering a Kinect-powered health app that uses the 3D camera to evaluate users' form as they perform the exercises demoed by on-screen video trainers. The app, which provided 30 basic routines for free with an Xbox Live Gold account, will be coming to an end on December 15. The paid content associated with the app will also no longer be available for purchase, and those who purchased it previously will be able to use it for over one more year before the app becomes completely unavailable to download or use on July 1, 2017. What some have found especially upsetting with the news is that Microsoft has yet to announce any plans to compensate users who have paid for content or to provide downloadable versions of paid workouts that can be used after the phase-out date. Thus, many upset users have taken to the sunset announcement post and various other outlets to speak their mind on the situation. "I bought 140$+ worth of content just this year... I don't want a refund, I want to be able to continue to use what I PAID for !!!!!!!!!!!" Xbox Live user QuickSilver wrote.
Games

Activision Abuses DMCA To Take Knock Indie Game Entirely Off Steam 147

Reader He Who Has No Name writes: We've seen brain-dead, overzealous, and entirely over-automated DMCA takedown requests bring down music and videos, but this may be the first case of an entire video game being knocked out. Earlier today David Prassel, creator of Trek Industries and developer of the not-without-controversy ORION: Dino Horde / Prelude and the early-access Guardians of ORION, posted that his current project had been entirely removed from Steam after a questionable DMCA allegation from Activision. Prassel explains further, "We've made Steam our primary platform, but this has put a definite scare into us going forward considering our entire livelihood can be pulled without a moment's notice, without any warning or proper verification. I cannot even confirm that the representative from Activision is a real person as absolutely no results pop up in any of my searches." Image comparisons against at least two of the weapon models claimed to be infringing were posted by Prassel and in at least one thread on a forum.
What's more, it appears Activision is alleging not a vertex-for-vertex and texel-for-texel theft and duplication of the Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 2D -- 3D art assets, but in fact an infringing artistic similarity and design of separately created art content -- something that the DMCA does not cover (and which more would likely fall under copyright or possibly trade dress). Since this takedown falls directly in the middle of the Steam Summer Sale -- which probably is not a coincidence -- it will profoundly impact Trek Industry's potential sales.
Polygon has more details.
Movies

Minecraft Movie To Compete With Avengers and Star Wars In 2019 (polygon.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Warner Bros. announced today that it will be releasing its upcoming Minecraft movie on May 25, 2019, if all things go according to plan. It will be competing directly with Lucasfilm's Star Wars: Episode IX film, which will be released the same weekend, only a few weeks after Marvel's Infinity War film. The Minecraft movie has already faced some problems. The film's original director, Shawn Levy, left the project in 2014 after his Goonies-inspired movie idea was rejected by Warner Bros. executives. Mojang announced a new director for the movie last July -- Rob McElhenney, star of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The movie is likely to be a hit at the box office as the game has a massive following. Earlier this month, Mojang announced the game passed 100 million sales across all platforms, including PC, Mac, consoles and mobile.
Education

New 'Civilization' Game Will Be Sold To Schools As An Educational Tool (technobuffalo.com) 198

An anonymous reader writes: In the fall of 2017, a special version of Civilization V will be made available for schools to use as an educational tool. "CivilizationEDU will provide students with the opportunity to think critically and create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical ramifications of their economic and technological decisions, and to engage in systems thinking and experiment with the causal/correlative relationships between military, technology, political and socioeconomic development," announced Take-Two Interactive Software.

"We are incredibly proud to lend one of our industry's most beloved series to educators to use as a resource to inspire and engage students further..." said the company's CEO. "I can't think of a better interactive experience to help challenge and shape the minds of tomorrow's leaders."

Special lesson plans will be created around the game, and as an alternative to standardized tests teachers will have access to a dashboard showing each student's progress. Of course, this begs an important question: Are educational videogames a good idea?
Quake

A New 'Quake' Episode Appears 20 Years Later (vice.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes this report from Motherboard: The months leading up to this year's phenomenal reboot of Doom were stuffed with all kinds of fun developments surrounding the original series, whether it was mods that let you play as Duke Nukem or whole new levels from famed designer John Romero. There's now a new Quake game in the works, and already it appears to be enjoying a similar renaissance. Yesterday MachineGames, the studio behind Wolfenstein: The New Order, released an entirely new episode for the original Quake in celebration of its 20-year anniversary, and you can play it entirely for free.
Graphics

'Linux vs Windows' Challenge: Phoronix Tests Popular Games (phoronix.com) 141

An anonymous reader writes: Michael Larabel at Phoronix has combined their new results from intensive Linux/Windows performance testing for popular games on Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA graphics cards, and at different resolutions. "This makes it easy to see the Linux vs. Windows performance overall or for games where the Linux ports are simply rubbish and performing like crap compared to the native Windows game." The games tested included Xonotic, Tomb Raider, Grid Autosport, Dota 2, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, F1 2015, and Company of Heroes 2 -- and the results were surprising.

Xonotic v0.8 outperformed Windows with a NVIDIA card, but "The poor Xonotic performance on Linux with the Intel driver was one of the biggest surprises from yesterday's article. It's not anything we've seen with the other drivers." And while testing on the Source 2 engine revealed that Valve's Dota 2 "is a quality Linux port," most of the other results were disappointing -- regardless of the graphics card and driver. "Tomb Raider on Linux performs much worse than the Windows build regardless of your driver/graphics card... Shadow of Mordor's relative Linux performance is more decent than many other Linux games albeit still isn't running at the same speeds as the Windows games..."

The article concludes with a note of optimism. "Hopefully in due time with the next generation of games making use of Vulkan...we'll see better performance relative to Windows." Have Slashdot readers seen any performance issues while playing games on Linux?
DRM

Oculus Ditches DRM Hurdle, Allows HTC Vive Games On Rift Again (venturebeat.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: After changing its DRM to exclude ReVive last month, Oculus has changed its mind again and is now allowing HTC Vive games to play on the Oculus Rift. "We continually revise our entitlement and anti-piracy systems, and in the June update we've removed the check for Rift hardware from the entitlement check. We won't use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future," Oculus VR said. "We believe protecting developer content is critical to the long-term success of the VR industry, and we'll continue taking steps in the future to ensure that VR developers can keep investing in ground-breaking new VR content." VentureBeat reports: "ReVive developers have acted quickly following the removal of the check. An update to the software has been posted on GitHub to bring it back in line, meaning you'll now be able to access the games that were previously available without jumping through extra hoops. Perhaps even more games might work going forward. CrossVR, one of the system's developers, took to Reddit to thank Oculus for the decision. 'I'm delighted to see this change and I hope it can generate a lot of goodwill for Oculus.' CrossVR said."
The Courts

Valve Faces Lawsuit Over Video Game Gambling (bloomberg.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bloomberg: Valve's Counterstrike: Global Offensive game is being sued for its role in the multibillion-dollar gambling economy that has fueled the game's popularity. Michael John McLeod filed a lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut alleging that Valve violated gambling laws and engaged in racketeering with a handful of off-shore gambling companies. McLeod, who has been gambling on CS:GO since 2014, is asking for class-action status for the suit. The suit was first reported by Polygon and doesn't give a specific request for damages, nor does it say how much money he lost by betting on the site. According to Bloomberg: "Valve provided for money, technical support, and advice to such websites as CSGO Lounge and Diamonds, which take bets, and OPSkins, which runs a market where virtual goods are traded and can be redeemed for cash." Valve has yet to respond to the suit.
Operating Systems

Sony Agrees To Pay Millions To Gamers To Settle PS3 Linux Debacle (arstechnica.com) 232

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: After six years of litigation, Sony is now agreeing to pay the price for its 2010 firmware update that removed support for the Linux operating system in the PlayStation 3. Sony and lawyers representing as many as 10 million console owners reached the deal on Friday. Under the terms of the accord, (PDF) which has not been approved by a California federal judge yet, gamers are eligible to receive $55 if they used Linux on the console. The proposed settlement, which will be vetted by a judge next month, also provides $9 to each console owner that bought a PS3 based on Sony's claims about "Other OS" functionality. Under the plan, gamers eligible for a cash payment are "all persons in the United States who purchased a Fat PS3 model in the United States between November 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010." The accord did not say how much it would cost Sony, but the entertainment company is expected to pay out millions. On March 28, 2010, Sony announced that the update would "disable the 'Install Other OS' feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models." This feature, Sony claimed, would be removed "due to security concerns." Sony did not detail those "concerns," but the litigation alleged piracy was behind the decision. A gamer can get the $55, but they "must attest under oath to their purchase of the product and installation of Linux, provide proof of their purchase or serial number and PlayStation Network Sign-in ID, and submit some proof of their use of the Other OS functionality." To get the $9, PS3 owners must submit a claim, at the time they bought their console, they "knew about the Other OS, relied upon the Other OS functionality, and intended to use the Other OS functionality." Alternatively, a gamer "must attest that he or she lost value and/or desired functionality or was otherwise injured as a consequence of Firmware Update 3.21 issued on April 1, 2010," to get $9.
Businesses

Indie Dev TinyBuild Lost $450K To Fraudulent Sales Facilitated By G2A (pastemagazine.com) 104

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Paste Magazine: Indie developer TinyBuild, the studio behind Punch Club, Party Hard and SpeedRunners, had thousands of their game codes stolen through fraudulent credit card purchases, which then wound up on G2A.com, a site that allows people to resell game codes. The basic idea behind G2A is straightforward and pretty harmless: with the amount of game codes sold through Steam, the Humble Store/Bundle, and more, the site gives consumers a place to sell unwanted game codes. However, in doing so, G2A has created a huge black market for game codes sales. As TinyBuild described in their blog post on the matter, the common practice for scammers is to "get ahold of a database of stolen credit cards on the dark web. Go to a bundle/3rd party key reseller and buy a ton of game keys. Put them up onto G2A and sell them at half the retail price." This allows scammers to make thousands of dollars while preventing any profit from reaching the game developers because, once the stolen credit cards are processed, the payments will be denied. G2A states that TinyBuild's retail partners are the ones selling the codes on G2A, not scammers, despite the thousands of codes they lost through their online store to fraudulent credit card purchases. In 2011, TinyBuild was in the news for uploading their own game, a platformer called No Time To Explain, to the Pirate Bay.
AI

Elon Musk's Open Source OpenAI: We're Working On a Robot For Your Household Chores (zdnet.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes from a report via ZDNet: OpenAI, the artificial-intelligence non-profit backed by Elon Musk, Amazon Web Services, and others, is working on creating a physical robot that performs household chores. In a blog post Monday, OpenAI leaders said they don't want to manufacture the robot itself, but "enable a physical robot [...] to perform basic housework." The company says it is "inspired" by DeepMind's work in the deep learning and reinforcement learning field of AI, as displayed by its AlphaGo victory over human Go masters. OpenAI says it wants to "train an agent capable enough to solve any game," noting that significant advances in AI will be required in order for that to happen. In May, the company released a public beta of a new Open Source gym for computer programmers working on AI. They also have plans to build an agent that can understand natural language and seek clarification when following instructions to complete a task. OpenAI plans to build new algorithms that can advance this field. Finally, OpenAI wants to measure its progress across games, robotics, and language-based tasks, which is where OpenAI's Gym Beta will come into play.
The Internet

Twitch Brings CFAA and Trademark Claim Against Bot Operators (techdirt.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: I think most people agree that bots that drive up viewer/follower counts on various social media systems are certainly a nuisance, but are they illegal? Amazon-owned Twitch has decided to find out. On Friday, the company filed a lawsuit against seven individuals/organizations that are in the business of selling bots. Twitch's lawsuit uses a CFAA claim and a trademark claim. The CFAA is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was put in place in the 1980s in response to the movie War Games and is supposed to be used to punish "hackers" who break into secure computer systems. Techdirt reports: "It's a pretty big stretch to argue that bots accessing your open website that anyone can visit requires some kind of specific "authorization." Yes, cheating bots are annoying. And yes, they can be seen as a problem. But that doesn't mean that Twitch should be trying to expand the definition of the CFAA to include accessing an open website in a way the site doesn't like. The trademark claim is also somewhat troubling, though not as much. No one is visiting the sites of these bot makers and assuming that they're endorsed by Twitch. I mean, they're all pretty clear that their entire purpose is to inflate viewers/followers on Twitch, which is clearly something that Twitch is against. Twitch doesn't need to use either of these claims, and it's disappointing that they and their lawyers have chosen to do so. This is not to say that bots and fake followers are okay. But these kinds of cases can set really bad precedents when a company like Twitch decides to over-claim things in a way that harms the wider tech and internet industry."
Security

Hacker Taunts Blizzard After Knocking Gamers Offline (csoonline.com) 99

Reader itwbennett writes: A person nicknamed AppleJ4ck, who has been previously been linked to Lizard Squad, a group notorious for DDoS attacks against gaming platforms, including the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, has taken credit for server outages affecting gaming giant Blizzard (Alternate source: ZDNet) Monday morning. The outages led to authentication lockouts for gamers attempting to access Overwatch, Hearth Stone, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Heroes of the Stone, and others. During the outage, AppleJ4ck said Monday's problems were just a test, promising more outages in the future.
Books

Hacker Who Stole Half-Life 2's Source Code Interviewed For New Book (arstechnica.com) 192

"Can you love a game so much you must take its sequel?" asks Ars Technica, posting an excerpt from the new book "Death By Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline." At 6am on May 7, 2004, Axel Gembe awoke in the small German town of Schonau im Schwarzwald to find his bed surrounded by police officers bearing automatic weapons... "You are being charged with hacking into Valve Corporation's network, stealing the video game Half-Life 2, leaking it onto the Internet, and causing damages in excess of $250 million... Get dressed..." The corridors were lined by police, squeezed into his father's house...
Gembe had tried creating homegrown keystroke-recorders specifically targeted at Valve, according to the book, but then poking around their servers he'd discovered one which wasn't firewalled from the internal network. Gembe spent several weeks discovering notes and design documents, until eventually he stumbled onto the latest version of the unreleased game's source code. He'd never meant for the code to be leaked onto the internet -- but he did share it with another person who did. ("I didn't think it through. The person I shared the source with assured me he would keep it to himself. He didn't...")

Eventually Gembe contacted Valve, apologized, and asked them for a job -- which led to a fake 40-minute job interview designed to gather enough evidence to arrest him. But ultimately a judge sentenced him to two years probation -- and Half-Life 2 went on to sell 8.6 million copies.
Classic Games (Games)

Mattel Sells Out Of 'Game Developer Barbie' (cnet.com) 224

Long-time Slashdot reader sandbagger writes: The Mattel people have released a new Barbie doll figurine touted as Game Developer Barbie. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, she was apparently designed by a game developer.
It's already sold out on Mattel's web site, with CNET saying it provides a better role model than a 2014 book In which "computer engineer" Barbie designed a cute game about puppies, then admitted "I'll need Steven's and Brian's help to turn it into a real game," before her laptop crashed with a virus. Mattel says that with this new doll, "young techies can play out the creative fun of this exciting profession," and the doll even comes with a laptop showing an IDE on the screen. Sandbagger's original submission ended with a question. Do Slashdot readers think this will inspire a new generation of programmers to stay up late writing code?
E3

Razer Announces Open Source VR HDK2 Headset, And $5 Million Developer Fund (anandtech.com) 15

Razer has announced its second Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) headset. Dubbed HDK2, the new headset from the gaming-hardware company is priced at $400. As for the specifications, the HDK2 offers dual OLED display of screen resolution 2,160x1,200 pixels while retaining the 90hz low-latency refresh rate. The original HDK will continue to be available for purchase at $300. On the sidelines, the company announced a $5 million to studios working in this space. AnandTech reports: OSVR has an open framework so it will be able to work with a variety of controllers, and as more control mechanisms become available, it should be able to support them. The HDK system supports several content technologies, including SteamVR, and they plan to announce more content soon. On that note, OSVR is also announcing a $5 million developer fund. Their goal is to ensure unrestricted access of VR content on all hardware. If you are a VR content developer, you can apply to this fund. If approved by the fund, and OSVR support is added to the content, Razer, or other future contributors, will purchase game codes in bulk to help compensate developers for their integration time, and the fund will also assist with marketing and promotional support.Also at E3, Sony announced that its $399 PlayStation VR wil be available to purchase in the U.S. from October 13.

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