An anonymous reader writes: Hello Games is a small development studio, only employing 10 people. But they're building a game, No Man's Sky, that's enormous — effectively infinite. Its universe is procedurally generated, from the star systems down to individual species of plant and animal life. The engine running the game is impressively optimized. A planet's characteristics are not computed ahead of time — terrain and lifeforms are randomly generated on the fly as a player explores it. But, of course, that created a problem for the developers — how do they know their procedural generation algorithms don't create ridiculous life forms or geological formations? They solved that by writing AI bot software that explores the universe and captures brief videos, which are then converted to GIF format and posted on a feed the developers can review. The article goes into a bit more detail on how the procedural generation works, and how such a small studio can build such a big game.
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An anonymous reader writes A new feature published this week takes a deep-dive look at the history of the cheat code and its various manifestations over the years, from manual 'pokes' on cassettes to pass phrases with their own dedicated menus — as well as their rise from simple debug tool in the early days of bedroom development to a marketing tactic when game magazines dominated in the 1990s, followed by dedicated strategy guides. Today's era of online play has all but done away with them, but the need for a level playing field isn't the only reason for their decline: as one veteran coder points out, why give away cheats for free when you can charge for them as in-app purchases? "Bigger publishers have now realized you can actually sell these things to players as DLC. Want that special gun? Think you can unlock it with a cheat code? Nope! You've got to give us some money first!"
New submitter MdotCpDeltaT writes: Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. It's a move that seems to stretch the definition of sports and athletes. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said, "It's a team sport. There's strategy involved. You have to know your role in the game. Obviously it's not cardiovascular in any way, but it's mental. There are elements that go into it that are just like any other sport."The article says, "Though the gaming scholarships are primarily designed to attract what the school calls an 'underserved male' population, they are open to all, and Melcher said some women have inquired about the program. Even if the awards end up going mostly to males, he added, it should not upset the school's scholarship gender balance, which already has strong participation in women's sports."
An anonymous reader writes: Ben Kuchera at Polygon recommends against buying the upcoming Battlefield Hardline first-person shooter. Not because it's bad — in fact, he doesn't really offer an opinion on how good the game is — but because it's time to stop incentivizing poor behavior from Electronic Arts and its Digital Illusions CE development studio. After EA acquired DICE, Battlefield game launches accelerated, and launch issues with each game were hand-waved away as unpredictable. The studio's principled stand against paid DLC evaporated in order to feed the ever-hungry beast of shareholder value. Kuchera says, "EA continues this because the Battlefield franchise is profitable; we as players have taught them that we'll buy anyway, and continue to support games that don't work at launch." He suggests avoiding pre-orders, and only buying the game if and when it's in a playable (and fun) state. "Every dollar that's spent on Hardline before the game comes out is a vote for things continuing down an anti-consumer path. If the game is a hit before its launch, that sends a message that we're OK with business as usual, and business as usual has become pretty terrible."
An anonymous reader writes So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish. The reason for listing that stuff out, is that I want people to understand that I know what I'm getting myself in to, and I'm not trying to put out a not-so-subtle "help me make a game for free lol" type of post. With all of that said, where is a good place to start (i.e., recommended books) for learning C# for game programming? I am familiar with object oriented programming, so that's a little bit of help. I'm not necessarily looking for the syntax (that part is just memorization), but more for the methodology involved. If anyone also has any suggestions for other books or information that deal with game development, I would love to hear that too. I know enough to understand that I really don't know anything, but have a good foundation to build on.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: Many PC gamers were disappointed that Ubisoft's latest AAA game, Watch_Dogs, did not look as nice as when displayed at E3 in 2012. But this week a modder discovered that code to improve the game's graphics on the PC is still buried within the released game, and can be turned back on without difficulty or performance hits. Ubisoft has yet to answer whether (or why) their PC release was deliberately handicapped. Gaming commentator Total Biscuit has a video explaining the controversy.
samzenpus (5) writes Billy Mitchell owns the Rickey's World Famous Restaurant chain, sells his own line of hot sauces, and was called, "probably the greatest arcade-video-game player of all time". He was the first to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and held many record scores in other arcade games. He is probably most famous for the 2007 documentary,"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". The film follows a challenger on his quest to surpass Billy's high score in Donkey Kong, which Mitchell had set in 1982. Since the film was made, the Kong crown has been held by a number people including twice by Mitchell. Billy has agreed to put down the quarters and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.
It's a small class of video games that still draw interest or inspire an active community 20 years after their first release — even if we're now 40 years into the era of commercial video games. Games like Doom, the several iterations of Civilization, and the Mario Brothers franchise will probably be around and played in some form many decades hence. The X-COM family of games fits, too, having inspired various spiritual successors since its release in 1994. Now, an anonymous reader writes that the open source (GPL) " OpenXcom 1.0 is finally released, after 5224 commits, 1843 days, and 606 resolved issues since v0.9. 20 years of X-COM — XCOM oldschool lovers enjoy!"
Dave Knott (2917251) writes Montreal-based gaming company Amaya Gaming Group Inc. has agreed to purchase privately held Oldford Group, the owner of online poker websites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, for $4.9 billion. The deal marks the end of a remarkable story that began when Isai Scheinberg, an Israeli-Canadian former IBM computer programmer, founded PYR Software in Toronto and started building PokerStars, which eventually became the largest online poker site in the world. But in 2011, federal prosecutors in Manhattan launched a massive crackdown against online poker in the U.S., indicting Scheinbeg, suing PokerStars and shutting down the U.S. operations of the company for operating an illegal gambling business. In 2012, PokerStars struck a $731 million settlement with federal prosecutors that also saw the company acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker. However, reentering the vital U.S. market has proved difficult, and in the end, it started to make sense for the Scheinbergs to sell. The Scheinbergs will not remain with PokerStars in any capacity after the current deal closes. In a statement announcing the deal, Amaya said it believes the "transaction will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which Amaya already holds a footprint, particularly the U.S.A."
An anonymous reader writes: A while back we discussed Code Combat, a multiplayer game that lets players program their way to victory. They recently launched a tournament called Greed, where coders had to write algorithms for competitively collecting coins. 545 programmers participated, submitting over 126,000 lines of code, which resulted in 390 billion statements being executed on a 673-core supercomputer. The winner, going by the name of "Wizard Dude," won 363 matches, tied 14, and lost none! He explains his strategy: "My coin-collecting algorithm uses a novel forces-based mechanism to control movement. Each coin on the map applies an attractive force on collectors (peasants/peons) proportional to its value over distance squared. Allied collectors and the arena edges apply a repulsive force, pushing other collectors away. The sum of these forces produces a vector indicating the direction in which the collector should move this turn. The result is that: 1) collectors naturally move towards clusters of coins that give the greatest overall payoff, 2) collectors spread out evenly to cover territory. Additionally, the value of each coin is scaled depending on its distance from the nearest enemy collector, weighting in favor of coins with an almost even distance. This encourages collectors not to chase lost coins, but to deprive the enemy of contested coins first and leave safer coins for later."
An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix last week tested 65 graphics cards on open source drivers under Linux and the best result was generally with the open source AMD Radeon drivers. This week they put out a 35-graphics-card comparison using the proprietary AMD/NVIDIA drivers (with the other 30 cards being too old for the latest main drivers) under Ubuntu 14.04. The winner for proprietary GPU driver support on Linux was NVIDIA, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that Valve and other Linux game developers are frequently recommending NVIDIA graphics for their game titles while AMD Catalyst support doesn't usually come to games until later. The Radeon OpenGL performance with Catalyst had some problems, but at least its performance per Watt was respectable. Open-source fans are encouraged to use AMD hardware on Linux while those just wanting the best performance and overall experience should see NVIDIA with their binary driver."
vrml (3027321) writes As the player feels inner anger rising, the in-game character gets angry too and starts shouting and smashing things. Then, the player relaxes and the game character calms down and smiles. This is the kind of game control supported by a system demonstrated in a video released today by the Human-Computer Interaction Lab of the University of Udine. The system detects player's emotional state by using physiological sensors to measure player's skin conductance, facial muscles activity and cardiac parameters. It has been used to build gamified relaxation training and stress inoculation training applications.
jrepin (667425) writes "Aspyr Media, in partnership with 2K and Firaxis Games, announced that the critically acclaimed Sid Meier's Civilization V, and all available expansion packs and downloadable content, is now available on Linux for SteamOS. The title includes Steam Play support. This release of Sid Meier's Civilization V on Linux targets SteamOS and features support for Valve's upcoming Steam Controller."
An anonymous reader writes "Valve left many OEMs hanging when they delayed Steam machines until sometime next year to work out their controller issues. Many of these companies excitedly showed off new Steam machine hardware that they cannot ship, so Alienware has been the first to re-purpose its Debian-based Steam machine to be a Windows-based Steam machine bundled with an Xbox controller. While Windows 8.x has not been particularly well-received it does support a lot more games than Linux and when configured to boot straight into Steam Big Picture mode the influence of the underlying OS is visible only in the larger game library."
Vigile writes: NVIDIA announced its latest dual-GPU flagship card, the GeForce GTX Titan Z, at the GPU Technology Conference in late March with a staggering price point of $2999. Since that time, AMD announced and released the Radeon R9 295X2, its own dual-GPU card with a price tag of $1499. PC Perspective finally put the GTX Titan Z to the test and found that from a PC gamer's view, the card is way overpriced for the performance it offers. At both 2560x1440 and 3840x2160 (4K), the R9 295X2 offered higher and more consistent frame rates, sometimes by as much as 30%. The AMD card also only takes up two slots (though it does have a water cooling radiator to worry about) while the NVIDIA GTX Titan Z is a three-slot design. The Titan Z is quieter and uses much less power, but gamers considering a $1500 or $3000 graphics card selection are likely not overly concerned with power efficiency.
jones_supa (887896) writes 'Since the release of the extremely successful Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, rumors about PC — and later also an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — version have been floating around. Now it's official: Grand Theft Auto V will be released on Windows PC and Xbox One, in addition to PlayStation 4, this fall, publisher Rockstar Games announced today with a trailer. A post on Rockstar Newswire tells us that the ports will offer visual and technical improvements such as "increased draw distances, finer texture details, denser traffic and enhanced resolutions." All of the new GTA Online content that has been created and released since launch will be available also on the modern platforms. The PC version will exclusively include a video editor to allow players to put together their own clips of in-game action.'
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time in eight years, Sony has overtaken Nintendo on the total number of game consoles sold. Sony sold 18.7 million consoles in the last financial year, compared to Nintendo sales of 16.3 million. Sony's PlayStation 4 has emerged as the bestselling 'new-gen' console. But demand for Nintendo's Wii U — with its touchscreen controller — has lagged far behind the original Wii, which was the most popular hardware of the last generation."
An anonymous reader writes 'Earlier this month, at least three U.S. states reported that a hacker had broken into electronic road signs above major highways, with the hacker leaving messages for people to follow him on Twitter. The Multi-State Information Sharing an Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) produced an intelligence report blaming a Saudi Arabian hacker that the organization says likely got the idea from Watch Dogs, a new video in which game play revolves around "hacking," with a focus on hacking critical infrastructure-based electronic devices in particular. "Watch Dogs allows players to hack electronic road signs, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs), street lights, cell phones and other systems. On May 27, 2014, the malicious actor posted an image of the game on his Twitter feed, demonstrating his interest in the game, and the compromise of road signs occurs during game play. CIS believes it is likely that a small percentage of Watch Dogs players will experiment with compromising computers and electronic systems outside of game play, and that this activity will likely affect SSLT [state, local, tribal and territorial] government systems and Department of Transportation (DOT) systems in particular." The signs allowed telnet and were secured with weak or default passwords. The report came out on the same day that The Homeland Security Department cautioned transportation operators about a security hole in some electronic freeway billboards that could let hackers display bogus warnings to drivers.'
An anonymous reader writes "The original games developed by John Carmack, John Romero, and Adrian Carmack at Softdisk, where the legendary programmers originally met and went on to start id Software, have been open-sourced under the GPLv2. The games are now owned by Flat Rock Software and the open-source titles available are Catacomb, The Catacomb, Catacomb 3D, Catacomb Abyss, and Hovertank3D. The oldest of these games are written in Borland Turbo Pascal while the others are in Borland C++. The source-code can be downloaded from GitHub."