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American Schools Teaching Kids To Code All Wrong (qz.com) 332

theodp writes: Over at Quartz, Globaloria CEO Idit Harel argues that American schools are teaching our kids how to code all wrong. She writes, "The light and fluffy version of computer science -- which is proliferating as a superficial response to the increased need for coders in the workplace -- is a phenomenon I refer to as 'pop computing.' While calling all policy makers and education leaders to consider 'computer science education for all' is a good thing, the coding culture promoted by Code.org and its library of movie-branded coding apps provide quick experiences of drag-and-drop code entertainment. This accessible attraction can be catchy, it may not lead to harder projects that deepen understanding." You mean the "first President to write a line of computer code" may not have progressed much beyond moving Disney Princess Elsa forward? Harel says there must be a distinction drawn between "coding tutorials" and learning "computer science." Building an app, for example, can't be done in a couple of hours, it "requires multi-dimensional learning contexts, pathways and projects." "Just as would-be musicians become proficient by listening, improvising and composing, and not just by playing other people's compositions, so would-be programmers become proficient by designing prototypes and models that work for solving real problems, doing critical thinking and analysis, and creative collaboration -- none of which can be accomplished in one hour of coding," she writes.
XBox (Games)

Smaller Xbox One Coming This Year, More Powerful Xbox One In 2017, Says Report (kotaku.com) 82

Keza MacDonald and Jason Schreier, reporting for game blog Kotaku: Microsoft is preparing at least two new Xbox models for release in the next two years, sources tell Kotaku. Later this year we'll see a cheaper, smaller Xbox One, and next year Microsoft will release a more powerful version of their premiere console. The 2017 Xbox, which is codenamed Scorpio, will have a more powerful GPU. We hear that it will also be technically capable of supporting the Oculus Rift and that Microsoft is pursuing a partnership with Oculus. As for 2016, sources have told us there's at least a more compact version coming by year's end. One source believed it will include a larger 2TB hard drive, double the capacity of the most spacious current model. We're expecting Microsoft to announce the more compact machine at E3 next month.

Pac-Man 256 Coming To PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC With Multiplayer (venturebeat.com) 53

Pac-Man is coming to gaming consoles. Publisher Bandai Namco announced on Monday that Pac-Mac 256 will be launching on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on June 21. The VentureBeat reports: The console version of Pac-Man 256 will include a four-player local co-op game where you and your friends will have to collaborate to eat as many pellets as possible while collectively avoiding ghosts. This means that you can have up to four people sitting together on a couch and playing the game simultaneously. Each person controls a Pac-Man, and you will work together to avoid the ghosts. Because it is "local" co-op, this isn't an online mode, and you should instead think of it as something to do at a party... if you're cool like me and play video games at parties.

Rovio's Desperate Push For 'Angry Birds' Movie (venturebeat.com) 144

An anonymous reader writes:Last year Rovio "cut 213 jobs, affecting all departments except those working on the film and its related projects," remembers VentureBeat, describing their effort to make a movie about three outcast birds on an island of happier birds who all meet in an anger management class. But "Since Rovio funded the entire film, the directors didn't have to answer to an executive committee or a board of trustees..." reports VentureBeat, quoting director Clay Kaytis as saying "We had to make ourselves happy... We were making the films for [ourselves] instead of for a larger entity that expects something in return."

After working for four years from a script by Jon Vitti (a writer for both The Simpsons and The Office), and funding a marketing onslaught that lasted nine months, Rovio finally saw their Angry Birds movie open in this weekend's #1 spot, according to the New York Times. "Most of the 'Angry Birds' financial risk fell to Rovio, the Finnish video game company, which paid $173 million to make and market the movie. As such, Rovio will receive the bulk of any profit."

In China, McDonald's released special Angry Birds burgers with red or green buns...which at least one patron complained made the buns look moldy.

Microsoft Finds Legal Path To Launch Minecraft In China (arstechnica.com) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Minecraft's PC and smartphone versions are finally coming to China. On Friday, Microsoft and Mojang announced the beginning of a "five-year exclusive partnership" with Chinese software publisher NetEase, Inc to roll the game out onto Chinese computer and smartphone marketplaces. Microsoft was able to publish the game on Xbox One consoles late last year, but those consoles have yet to penetrate the Chinese market to the extent that PCs and smartphones have, and the fact that even Microsoft had to license the game to someone else as opposed to launching it from its own Shanghai campus is a stern reminder of what roadblocks stand in the way of Western software developers. "The most challenging aspect of doing business in China by far is dealing with the government," former PopCap executive James Gwertzman said at the 2010 Game Developers Conference. Game publishers must acquire a combined six permits to launch a game in China, and most of those permits cannot be acquired by foreign-operated companies. Microsoft is presumably in the exact same regulatory boat, and its choice of partner is telling; NetEase already has a major Western-gaming reputation thanks to its partnership with megawatt game makers Blizzard. Gwertzman guessed that Minecraft will probably avoid such undue attention with its upcoming launch. "Minecraft is on the good side as it encourages teamwork and learning," he said. "I see Minecraft as the perfect example of a game that will receive public support [in China]." Meanwhile, American technology companies like Apple and Microsoft are undergoing security reviews in the communist country.

Nintendo May Start Selling 'Computer Software' (arstechnica.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Nintendo's most recent fiscal-year disclosure made headlines for announcing a release window for the new "Nintendo NX" console and yet another Zelda game delay, but it also included news of serious corporate restructuring. The short version: Nintendo will soon involve a supervisory committee in making top-level executive decisions. A Tuesday announcement included the company's amended articles of incorporation, expected to be approved by shareholders this June, and it included three new entries in its "business engagement" list: restaurants, medical and health devices, and "computer software." The choice of adding "computer software" to that list, on the other hand, seems particularly curious -- especially since Nintendo's existing list of engaged businesses includes terms that sound very much like computer software, particularly the broad term of "contents such as games, images, and music." That list also revised an entry that used to say that the company would license the "use or reproduction of copyrighted works" and "trademarks." Now, Nintendo will license its "intellectual property rights." That shift to the term "intellectual property" includes copyrighted works and trademarks in an umbrella that also may include such Nintendo-owned concepts as patents.

Google Announces New Virtual Reality Platform 'Daydream' (androidandme.com) 24

ErnieKey writes: At Google I/O today, the company announced what they are calling "Google Daydream." This is their upcoming virtual-reality platform that takes Google Cardboard several steps further. Daydream is a platform that will provide guidance for both hardware and software developers to create truly immersive Android N compatible VR hardware, games and experiences. The first hardware will be available this Fall. Companies such as HTC, Samsung, ASUS and others are working on smartphone handsets and VR headsets that are Daydream compatible. Game developers like EA and Ubisoft are already working on compatible games. Google is also releasing reference devices including a headset and controller to encourage developers and companies to develop content for Daydream. In addition to Daydream, Google announced Allo, Duo, Instant Apps, and a stable Android N developer preview.

Live-Action Tetris Movie Secures $80 Million Funding, Plans To Be Part Of A Trilogy (arstechnica.com) 122

An anonymous reader writes: In 2014, Threshold Entertainment announced it would be producing a live-action film based on the Russian stacking game Tetris. Today, Threshold Entertainment announced it had secured $80 million in funding for the project. Threshold's Larry Kasanoff has worked on the Mortal Kombat film in 1995, which grossed $70 million. Media mogul Bruno Wu, will serve as co-producer on the film ensuring that the movie will be able to sustain any unplanned budget overruns. According to Deadline, the film is planned for a 2017 release with Chinese locations and a Chinese case. However, Kasanoff notes "the goal is to make world movies for the world market." What's more is that the movie could be the basis of a trilogy, the producer says, with a plot that's "not at all what you think; it will be a cool surprise." Kasanoff told the Wall Street Journal that "this isn't a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We're not giving feet to the geometric shapes... What you [will] see in Tetris is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance."

One Million Dormant Xbox Live Gamertags Can Be Yours Starting Wednesday (arstechnica.com) 22

An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: Are you the type to dash madly toward any new online service's sign-up page even if you think you'll never touch it again, just to lock down your username of choice? As any good geek knows, handles are a precious commodity, especially for free services that don't have explicitly advertised nickname-recycling policies. One online ecosystem, Xbox Live, may have a respite in store for users who want to remove extraneous numbers or characters from their Gamertag of choice. A Monday announcement from Xbox Live PR chief Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb confirmed that a slew of "nearly one million" dormant Gamertags will be made available for qualified Xbox Live Gold members starting on Wednesday, May 18, at 2pm EDT.
First Person Shooters (Games)

History Buffs Discover Inaccuracies In Battlefield 1 Trailer (hothardware.com) 74

MojoKid shares an interesting article from Tom's Hardware. While the new Battlefield 1 trailer may be the most-liked trailer in the history of YouTube, it's also historically inaccurate, according to a popular YouTube channel about World War I. "Some of the scenes feature some unusual or experimental gear," reports Indy Neidell, the voice of the video series The Great War, "and some weapons are carried by soldiers from the other side."

Thousands of people joined the YouTube channel after the release of the game's new trailer, prompting this special video review of the historical accuracy of the Battlefield 1 trailer. "Some of the most spectacular moments in the trailer, such as the tanks bursting into trenches or giant, ominous zeppelins hovering, are actually historically accurate," reports Tom's Hardware, adding that the YouTube commentator "ultimately applauds Battlefield 1 for incorporating so many different elements of WWI. Many people often forget that much of WWI was fought through hand-to-hand combat or that battles took place throughout Eurasian landmass."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Favorite Doom Story? 351

I remember loading Doom for the first time from a 3.5-inch disk back in 1994. In 1997 the source code for Doom's Linux version was released just before Christmas. A hidden Doom level appeared in Microsoft Excel, and a Doom video was also used to promote Windows 95. By 2004 a drummer from Nine Inch Nails was recording the theme song for Doom 3...

There was that weird movie with The Rock and Karl Urban. Last year Doom was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. This January John Romero created a new level, and this weekend's release of a new Doom also featured a mod with one of the the original Doom II levels from 1994.

After a storied history, millions of frags, and thousands of hours of in-world gameplay, Doom holds a unique place in both the history of gaming and geeks. So share your favorite stories in the comments. What's your personal best-loved story about Doom?

Microsoft Kills Its Game-Building Platform Spark (arstechnica.com) 84

An anonymous reader writes:"Starting 5/13/16, 'Project Spark' will no longer be available for download on the Xbox Marketplace or Windows Store," Microsoft wrote in a blog post, adding that it will go offline for good on August 12th. They thanked fans who have "gone above and beyond supporting 'Project Spark' by uploading hundreds of thousands of creations and dreaming up millions of objects, behaviors, and experiences..."

Ars Technica remembered Spark as the free multi-device, build-your-own game platform that you never knew existed. "Marketing teams never effectively sold the possibilities and power of Spark's make-your-own-game system," reports Ars Technica. "While short teaser videos hinted at the game enabling everything from kart racers to airborne battles, major demonstrations tended to revolve more around generic 3D platformers.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Original 'Doom' Level Remade in the New 'Doom' (vice.com) 46

An anonymous reader writes: After the new Doom was released yesterday, Vice discovered its SnapMap feature had already been used to recreate one of the levels from the original Doom. "The original Doom thrived on a strong modding community, and id is supporting that tradition here in a great way." Sharing videos for both the old and new versions of the E1 M2 nuclear plant map, Vice also applauded the interface for the new SnapMap tool, which lets users design their own levels, even on consoles. SnapMap includes tools for arranging objects, placing enemies, and even triggering events when a player reaches certain points in a level. "It's incredibly easy to use considering how much you can do, and so far I've had little trouble uploading, downloading, and browsing for user-made levels."
Newegg is also offering a $15 discount code for PC, Xbox One, or PS4 versions.

Disney Research Leverages RFID Tech For Low Cost Interactive Games With Physical Objects (hothardware.com) 18

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Researchers at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have been toying around with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags are typically used for high-tech inventory management in a variety of industries, but researchers concocted a way to make RFID technology feasible for interactive games using physical objects. Using a framework the researchers developed called RapID, they showed how inexpensive RFID tags can sense when a physical object is moved or touched in near real-time. The research team demonstrated a handful of use case scenarios. One included a tic-tac-toe board that mirrors the physical game on a computer monitor with added sound effects, while another demonstration showed users playing a Pong clone using real wooden sliders to control the onscreen action. What the researchers have done is no small feat. RFID was never intended for interactive toys, and wasn't built for real-time or near real-time responsiveness. RapID interprets the signals by weighing possibilities instead of waiting on confirmation from RFID tags. Most importantly, it reduces typical lag times from 2 seconds all the way down to 200 milliseconds.

Harvard Scientist: Rio Olympics Could Spark 'Full Blown Global Health Disaster' (independent.co.uk) 147

An anonymous reader writes: Doctors have warned that the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro could spark a "full-blown public health disaster" with the spread of the Zika virus. The World Health Organization has declared a health emergency in response to the disease's spread through Latin America. Rio has the highest number of cases of any state in the country. Dr Amir Attaran said in the Harvard Public Health Review the Olympic Games could increase the spread of the virus, suggesting the Games should be hosted by a different city in Brazil. "While Brazil's Zika inevitably will spread globally, given enough time, viruses always do -- it helps nobody to speed that up," he said. "In particular, it cannot possibly help when an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists flock into Rio for the Games, potentially becoming infected, and returning to their homes where both local Aedes mosquitoes and sexual transmission can establish new outbreaks." It's highly unlikely the virus will cause officials to take drastic action since the Games start on August 5th. With economic and political issues in the country, the Zika virus is just one more thing undermining confidence in the country's ability to host the Olympics. It was reported earlier this year that Rio has given up on its promise to eliminate 80 percent of the sewage found in the city's notoriously filthy water.

Microsoft Unlocks Framerates For Smoother Gameplay On Windows 10 (pcper.com) 96

An anonymous user writes: Back in March, Microsoft's Phil Spencer addressed some of the concerns over the Unified Windows Platform and PC gaming. He noted that Microsoft would "plan to open up VSync off, FreeSync, and G-Sync in May" and the company would "allow modding and overlays in UWP applications" sometime further into the future. Well, it appears that Microsoft is on point with the May UWP update. According to the MS DirectX Developer Blog, a Windows 10 update being pushed out today will enable UWP to support unlocked frame rates and variable refresh rate monitors in both G-Sync and FreeSync varieties. Today's update won't automatically enable these features in UWP games like Gears of War or Quantum Break, they will still need to be updated individually by the developer. Microsoft states that Gears of War and Forza will be the first to see these changes, but there is no mention of Quantum Break here, which is a game that could DEFINITELY benefit from the love of variable refresh rate monitors.PCWorld has more details.

'Battlefield 1' Trailer Most Liked In YouTube History, 'Infinite Warfare' Trailer Most Disliked (gamespot.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: The Battlefield 1 reveal trailer has officially passed 20 million views, with around 1 million likes and just 18,500 dislikes. Meanwhile, Infinite Warfare's announcement trailer has passed 14 million views, but with only 273,819 likes and a staggering 1.3 million dislikes. The Battlefield 1 trailer is YouTube's most liked trailer of all-time, while Infinity Ward's trailer is YouTube's most disliked trailer of all-time. How is that for a statistic? Battlefield and Call of Duty have been direct competitors in the FPS space for quite some time now, but the differences between each developer's upcoming game has never been more apparent. We can only wait and see if these likes/dislikes provide any insight as to how well each game will sell when they're released later in the year. Battlefield 1 comes out first, launching on October 21, while Infinite Warfare is slated to debut on November 4. In addition, Infinite Warfare has become the 8th most disliked video ever on YouTube. What do you think of each trailer?

NVIDIA Shows New Doom Demo On GeForce GTX 1080 (hothardware.com) 142

MojoKid shares a video showing the upcoming Doom game on NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card using the Vulkan API, quoting this report from HotHardware: At a private briefing with NVIDIA, representatives from id software came out on stage to show off the upcoming game...the first public demonstration of the game using both NVIDIA's new flagship and the next-gen API, which is a low-overhead, cross-platform graphics and compute API akin to DirectX 12 and AMD's Mantle. In the initial part of the demo, the game is running smoothly, but its frame rate is capped at 60 frames per second. A few minutes in, however, at about the :53 second mark...the rep from id says, "We're going to uncap the framerate and see what Vulkan and Pascal can do".

With the framerate cap removed, the framerate jumps into triple digit territory and bounces between 120 and 170 frames per second, give or take. Note that the game was running on a projector at a resolution of 1080p with all in-game image quality options set to their maximum values. The game is very reminiscent of previous Doom titles and the action is non-stop.

Classic Games (Games)

New "Perfect Game" Donkey Kong Record May Be Unbeatable (polygon.com) 77

An anonymous reader writes: Standing in front on a Donkey Kong arcade cabinet, Wes Copeland set a new all-time high score on Thursday, playing Donkey Kong for 3 hours, 20 minutes, and scoring 1,218,000 points."It's how he took the title, though that's so staggering," reports Polygon. "Copeland did not lose a single Mario in the game. He took his first life all the way from the first level all the way to the end, cashing in the extra lives to obliterate all comers." Since the game ends after 22 levels, it will be difficult to surpass Copeland's "perfect game".

For comparison, Steve Wiebe set a high score in 2007 with just 695,500 points in the documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," eventually bumping his score up to 1,064,500 by 2010. But Thursday, posting a picture of his new high score on Facebook, Copeland announced that "This will be my last record score. I don't believe I can put up a game any higher than this."


Legendary Sound Designer Jory Prum Passes Away At 41 (designingsound.org) 62

New submitter loren writes: It is with much sadness that I report that legendary sound designer Jory K. Prum, who worked on more than 120 video game titles, passed away April 22, 2016, at age 41, from injuries suffered in a March traffic accident. (Disclaimer: I am a long time friend of Jory and his family.) Here are some personal recollections from family, friends and colleagues... Also, a list of his game credits are on MobyGames. This post doesn't do him justice, but I found news of his loss conspicuously absent on Slashdot.
Back in 2006 a Slashdot article about the game Bone apparently drew a comment from Jory himself ("Funny, I'm recording the dialog for Bone 2 right as I read this!") and in 2004 the same account weighed in on an article about long hours at Electronic Arts. Wikipedia also reports that in 2001 Jory created a voice for Pixar's Oscar-winning short "For the Birds," and in 2014 recovered the aging audio for the classic point-and-click adventure game Grim Fandango.

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