Nerval's Lobster writes "Nintendo's revenue and profits are tumbling faster than Mario into a bottomless pit. Company executives recently suggested the next-generation Wii U console would sell 2.8 million units between April 2013 and March 2014 — significantly below the 9 million units predicted in previous estimates. Contrast that with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, which sold 4.2 million and 3 million units, respectively, in their first six weeks of release. In lowering its hardware and software estimates, Nintendo also expects to take a loss by the end of its fiscal year in March. Nintendo's attempt to carve a niche for itself as an ecosystem for casual gamers has also run into a massive obstacle in the form of smartphones and tablets, which quickly developed into popular gaming platforms. Nintendo is reportedly considering a 'new business model,' according to Bloomberg, with its CEO telling a gathering of reporters in Osaka: 'Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It's not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.' While Nintendo could probably made some good money off legacy gamers by bringing its (much loved) portfolio of older titles to iOS, Android, and other platforms, that move to mobile might further weaken its hardware sales. So what do you think? If you were in charge of Nintendo, how would you turn it around?"
An anonymous reader writes "Gamer rage is a common phenomenon among people who play online, a product of the intense frustration created by stressful in-game situations and an inability to cope. It can have significant impact on the gamer's ability to play well, and to get along with others. To combat this rage and train gamers to deal with the stress, visual designer Samuel Matson of Seattle has created the Immersion project, integrating a pulse sensor tied to a Tiny Arduino with Bluetooth into a headset to monitor the gamer's heart rate. The heart rate data is sent in real time to the gaming PC, where it is displayed in the game. Matson even created a simple FPS using the Unity game engine that varies the AI and gaming difficulty based on the user's heart rate. Using this system, the gamer is able to train themselves to recognize the stress and learn to control it, in order to make them a much more agreeable and competitive player."
SlappingOysters writes "I thought those veteran gamers amongst you might like this one. Quake III Arena by legendary developer id Software isn't available on the App Store, but there is a way that you can get it to work on your iPad all the same. You can also get Open Arena and Quake III Shareware to work on Apple's tablet. The process is reasonably straightforward for anyone who wants to give it a ago, and Grab It Magazine has provided a step-by step guide, with pictures and necessary links, to help the interested through it."
Sockatume writes "Digital Foundry has published an article from an anonymous but trusted developer outlining the challenges of developing for the Nintendo Wii U. The piece confirms some common perceptions of Nintendo, such as their attitude to third party developers, and presents a few surprises, like networking code not being made available to outside developers until the console was almost on sale."
Portsmouth, Ohio, a company called Yost Engineering (YEI) Technology has quietly been making motion sensing devices for military, aerospace, industrial, robotics, and other commercial motion capture uses, including rotoscoping for the film/video industry. Now they want to bring this same technology to gaming. They tried a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, but only got a little less than 1/2 of their target amount pledged. They're going to do Kickstarter again, starting Feb. 14, 2014 -- and this time, they've been working on PR before asking for money. You can see what they're up to in gaming sensor development at www.priovr.com/. Or go to the main YEI Technology corporate site, which has a whole bunch of free downloads in addition to the usual product blurbs.
An anonymous reader writes "CES has come and gone, and we've gotten a chance to see many different models of Valve's Steam Machines. They're being marketed as a device for a living room, and people are wondering if they'll be able to compete with the Big-3 console manufacturers. But this article argues that Valve isn't going after the consoles — instead, Steam Machines are part of a long-term plan to keep the PC gaming industry healthy. Quoting: 'Over the years, Valve has gone from simply evangelizing the PC platform — it once flew journalists in from around the world pretty much just to tell them it was great — to actively protecting it, and what we're seeing now is just the beginning of that push. Take SteamOS. To you and me, it's a direct interface for Steam based on Linux that currently has poor software support. To Valve, though, it's a first step in levering development, publishing, gameplay and community away from their reliance on Windows and DirectX (and to a lesser extent Mac OS), systems that cannot be relied upon in the long term. ... As for Steam Machines, they are a beachhead, not an atom bomb. They are meant to sell modestly. ... The answer is that Valve is thinking in decades, not console generations.'"
the simurgh sends this news from Gamespot: "Nintendo has acquired the entire patent portfolio of now-defunct IA Labs following its victory in court, the Japanese gaming giant has announced. Nintendo obtained the patents during a sheriff's sale in Montgomery County, Maryland on Tuesday. IA Labs originally sued Nintendo for patent infringement in 2010, claiming the Mario maker's Wii controller and Wii Fit technology infringed on two separate IA Labs patents. Nintendo successfully defended itself as part of a court battle in 2012, also winning various fees related to the case. IA Labs appealed the ruling, but an appellate court sided with Nintendo in June 2013. At this point, IA Labs was ordered to pay Nintendo additional fees, and when the company failed to do so, a sheriff's sale was commenced."
MojoKid writes "Plenty of OEMs have lifted the veil on their planned Steam Machine products, but Dell really seems to want to break free of the pack with their Alienware-designed, small form factor machine that they unveiled at CES this week. It's surprisingly tiny, sleek and significantly smaller than the average game console, weighing only about 4 — 6 pounds fully configured. Dell had a prototype of the machine on hand that is mechanically exact, complete with IO ports and lighting accents. Dell also had a SteamOS-driven system running, though it was actually a modified Alienware system powering the action with Valve's innovative Steam Controller. In first-person shooters like Metro: Last Night that Dell was demonstrating, the left circular pad can be setup for panning and aiming in traditional AWSD fashion, while the right pad can be used for forward and back movement with triggers set up for firing and aiming down sights. You can, however, customize control bindings to your liking and share profiles and bindings with friends on the Steam network. What's notable about Dell's unveiling is that the Steam Machines initiative gained critical mass with a major OEM like Dell behind the product offering, in addition to the handful of boutique PC builders that have announced products thus far."
crabel writes "The Oculus rift prototype Crystal Cove shown at CES uses a camera to track over two dozen infrared dots placed all over the headset. With the new tracking system, you can lean and crouch because the system knows where your head is in 3D space, which can also help reduce motion sickness by accurately reflecting motions that previously weren't detected. On top of that, the new 'low persistence' display practically removes motion blur." The new low-persistence AMOLEDs also achieve 1920x1080 across the field of vision. Reports are that immersion was greatly enhanced with head tracking.
Ars Technica has posted their impressions from a hands-on session with Valve's new Steam Controller. The controller notably departs from standard practice of relying on two thumbsticks for precise movement, instead replacing them with concave touchpads. From the article: "When used as a kind of virtual trackball, as most games did with the right pad, it was a revelation. When used as a virtual d-pad, as it was on the left pad, it was an exercise in frustration. Let's focus on the right pad first. There's definitely a learning curve to using this side of the pad properly; years of muscle memory had me trying to use it like an analog stick (minus the stick) at first. It only really began to click when I started swiping my thumb over the pad, as I've seen in previous videos (there was no one on hand to really explain the controller to me, so I was left figuring it out on my own, just like a new Steam Machine owner). When I say it "started to click," I mean that literally. The subtle clicking in your hands as you swipe along the pad is an incredible tactile experience, as if there was an actual weighted ball inside the controller that's rolling in the direction you swipe. And like a trackball slowly losing its inertia, the clicking slows its pace after you lift your thumb off the pad, giving important contextual information for the momentum imparted by your swipe." More write-ups are available about the controller from Gamespot, Gizmodo, and Joystiq.
You may remember Gaikai, a company built on the idea of cloud-based gaming. The idea was that a remote server would run the game and stream all graphics and sound to a player's device, which would allow underpowered or obsolete machines to run modern, graphically demanding games on high settings. In 2012, Sony purchased Gaikai. Now, they've announced at CES that their cloud gaming tech (dubbed 'PlayStation Now') is just about ready for the public. CES attendees will be able to try it out, and Sony will begin a closed beta test in the U.S. later this month. Full release is planned for summer. It will first support streaming to PS3s, PS4s, and certain Sony TV models. Later, it will expand more broadly to various non-Sony "internet-connected devices." Players will have the option to rent games or to subscribe for continued access. Forbes reports, "According to Sony, gamers who own disc- or digital-based games will not have access to those games via PS Now free of charge."
hypnosec writes "China has lifted the 13-year-old foreign gaming console ban, which it imposed back in 2000 as a way to protect the nation's youth from unhealthy content that may adversely affect their mental health. The temporary lift of the ban, which was announced Monday by the State Council of PCR (Google Translation into English), will make way for international console vendors including Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to setup production facilities in the newly created Shanghai Free Trade Zone and sell their consoles throughout the country. The vendors will still have to go through local checks, including the ones from the Cultural authorities to ensure that they don't violate any of those rules."
Emmett has a good rep as a video game music composer, and he's worked on a number of Star Trek-related projects, including the recently-released audio book, How to Speak Klingon: Essential Phrases for the Intergalactic Traveler. Emmett freely admits that he has no experience with RPG games. The closest he's come was running a major D&D meetup some years back. But he has experience and contacts developed from many years working online not only within the Star Trek community but (years ago) on Slashdot and as editor for Linux.com. And, he says, when he was a teenager he ran comic book stores. So is Emmett suited to run an RPG company? Possibly. He's actively looking for games to publish. Sales aren't going to start for six months or so, so there is no website for Arrakeen Tactical quite yet. Until there is one, you can contact Emmett about his game venture by emailing angelaATclockworkjetpack.com.
MojoKid writes "Over the past few years, short game writing 'jams' have become a popular way to bring developers together in a conference with a single overarching theme. These competitions are typically 24-48 hours long and involve a great deal of caffeine, frantic coding, and creative design. The 28th Ludum Dare conference held from December 13 — 16 of this past year was one such game jam — but in this case, it had an unusual participant: Angelina. Angelina is a computer AI designed by Mike Cook of Goldsmiths, London University. His long-term goal is to discover whether an AI can complete tasks that are generally perceived as creative. The long-term goal is to create an AI that can 'design meaningful, intelligent and enjoyable games completely autonomously.' Angelina's entry into Ludum Dare, dubbed 'To That Sect'" is a simple 3D title that looks like it hails from the Wolfenstein era. Angelina's initial game is simple, but in reality Angelina is an AI that can understand the use of metaphor and build thematically appropriate content, which is pretty impressive. As future versions of the AI improve, the end result could be an artificial intelligence that 'understands' human storytelling in a way no species on Earth can match."
An anonymous reader writes "Over the past several years, we've had a spate of new input methods for playing video games. Instead of just pushing buttons, now we can wave body parts around, yell at the screen, or even (weakly) control things with our thoughts. Now, we're adding an eye-tracking sensor bar. It's being created by SteelSeries, but it's based on tech from a Swedish company called Tobii, who built similar tech for cars. 'Inside the device there are two cameras and an infrared light source. The infrared light reflects off your pupil and cornea, which is then captured by the two camera sensors. Throw in a healthy serving of Tobii's proprietary image processing algorithms, and a physiological 3D model of the eye, and you can work out the position of the eye and the direction of the gaze with high accuracy. Tobii doesn't seem to put an exact figure on the resolution/accuracy, merely saying that "within less than a centimeter" is possible.' Of course, the biggest question will be how well it works, but it seems like it could be a useful supplement to normal control schemes. I can see how it would be nice to simply flick your eyes to an icon to do something, or to make it easier to dig through your in-game inventory."
In 1990, a development studio called Toys for Bob created a game called Star Control, a fun little space combat game with a bit of strategy added in. In 1992, they released Star Control 2, a full-blown space adventure RPG, which became one of the seminal works of early PC gaming. (Later open-sourced and released for modern systems.) After that, creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III lost control of the franchise to Accolade, who botched Star Control 3 and eventually abandoned the series. Last July, Stardock, the studio behind Sins of a Solar Empire, acquired the rights, and they're now discussing their plans to resurrect the classic series. They'll be using Star Control 2 as a template and an inspiration for all aspects of the game, though they won't be using any of the IP from Star Control I & II. They've also contacted Ford and Reiche and will try to hold true to their creative intentions. (The two currently run an Activision game studio, so they won't be involved with the new game.) Production will begin this winter.
An anonymous reader writes "Last year, Jordan Mechner, the creator of the Prince of Persia video game franchise, released the long-thought-lost original Apple II source code for Prince of Persia. Today marks the release of version 2.0 of apoplexy, the free and open-source level editor of Prince of Persia for DOS. Roughly 5.5 years after its initial release, support has been added for editing Prince of Persia 2 levels in both GNU/Linux and Windows. The game has its 25th anniversary next year, but the original trilogy only has a (very) small fan community. Will old games such as this also interest future generations or will they gradually lose their appeal because of technological advances?"
An anonymous reader writes "An article at The Verge got me thinking. Parents and those of you who plan to become parents: will you introduce your kids to the games you played when you were younger? Those of us who grew up playing Pong, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man have had a chance to see gaming software evolve into the enormously complex and graphically realistic beast it is today. I've begun to understand why my grandparents tried to get me to watch old movies. I'm also curious how you folks plan to teach your kids about computers and software in general. When teaching them Linux, do you just download the latest stable Mint or Ubuntu release and let them take it from there? Do you track down a 20-year-old version of Slackware and show them how things used to be? I can see how there would be value in that... the UIs we use every day have been abstracted so far away from their roots that we can't always expect new users to intuitively grasp the chain of logic. How do you think this should be handled?"