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Graphics

Players Seek 'No Man's Sky' Refunds, Sony's Content Director Calls Them Thieves (tweaktown.com) 453

thegarbz writes: As was covered previously on Slashdot the very hyped up game No Man's Sky was released to a lot of negative reviews about game-crashing bugs and poor interface choices. Now that players have had more time to play the game it has become clear that many of the features hyped by developers are not present in the game, and users quickly started describing the game as "boring".

Now, likely due to misleading advertising, Steam has begun allowing refunds for No Man's Sky regardless of playtime, and there are reports of players getting refunds on the Play Station Network as well despite Sony's strict no refund policy.
Besides Sony, Amazon is also issuing refunds, according to game sites. In response, Sony's former Strategic Content Director, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, wrote on Twitter, "If you're getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you're a thief." He later added "Here's the good news: Most players are not thieves. Most players are decent, honest people without whose support there could be no industry."

In a follow-up he acknowledged it was fair to consider a few hours lost to game-breaking crashes, adding "Each case should be considered on its own merits and perhaps I shouldn't be so unequivocal."
First Person Shooters (Games)

100 Unofficial Mods Released for 'No Man's Sky' (vice.com) 72

Eleven days after its release, No Man's Sky already has over 100 unofficial mods by fans intent on improving the game. "We don't have time to wait for official dev tools to fix what can be fixed by us," one modder told Motherboard. "We definitely want the official tools ASAP but honestly, the players need a game that actually launches and plays at decent FPS first." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the article: In an email to one customer, Hello Games revealed that it will be releasing patches this week and next which will "help to improve the experience further for players" but it is unlikely that the promised official modding tools will be released in the near future...

Among the [unofficial] mods available for anyone to download are ones to...replace the system font with one from Star Trek, disable annoying audio warnings, and replace a "Units Received" alert with "the Rick 'Wubba Lubba Dub Dub' sound bite from Rick and Morty"... The Instagram Filter Remover mod is among the most popular on the No Man's Sky Mods website promising to remove "the stupid Instagram filter from the game"...making everything sharper and clearer.

That last mod has been downloaded 17,655 times so far, and by Friday the site had almost 800,000 views and 60,000 downloads. There's two other mods that add Dr. Who sound clips into the game, and the article notes fans are clamoring for more, "including one request to replace all the voice lines in the game with William Shatner quotes."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Valve Threatens Counter Strike Gambling Sites (hngn.com) 37

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from HNGN: Game maker Valve is threatening to shut down sites dedicated to gambling with add-ons to its popular Counter Strike game. On Thursday the company sent cease and desist letters to 23 sites, demanding that gambling operations be stopped, and that the sites had 10 days to comply. The row revolves around the software overlays that change the appearance of the characters people play in Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) and the weapons and other virtual items. Last week the company reiterated that its user agreements ban external sites from asking users to connect their Steam accounts in order to trade items for real money. The company added that it would use "all available remedies" against sites that did not stop players using virtual goods to gamble.
Bloomberg reports that in June a class action lawsuit was filed against Valve "for its role in the multibillion-dollar gambling economy that has fueled the game's popularity" -- by a man who had been gambling on the site since 2014. This was followed in July by a second class action lawsuit by a mother on behalf of her son, reports ESPN. "The case alleges that the Valve knowingly allows and profits from teenagers participating in illegal, unregulated and underage gambling of in-game cosmetic weapon skins through third-party sites."
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?
PC Games (Games)

eSports and Livestreaming Buoy PC Gaming (hopesandfears.com) 74

An anonymous reader writes: PC gaming seems to have fended off the threat from consoles, and it's due in no small part to livestreaming services and eSports. The PC gaming hardware industry is undergoing a resurgence, contrary to the predictions of even five years ago. The community that has sprung up around livestreaming self-promotes far better than any individual gaming company could hope. It's gotten to the point where developers are starting to think about the "streamability" of their game as they're building it. "There are plenty of things to avoid when building a game for livestreaming as well—specifically, anything that slows down the action. ... A good streaming game can't waste too much time in confusing menus or with difficult setup, either." One of the big questions now is whether VR technology will fit into this growing niche. A spectator mode that uses VR could be as much of a killer app as a great VR game.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Gamers Are Fans of Games, Not Genres 119

_xeno_ writes: A recent article on Steam Spy talks about how a "target audience" for game genres doesn't exist — or, more specifically, how there is no such thing as an "FPS gamer" or an "MMO gamer" or a "MOBA gamer." The majority of players tend to be fans of specific games, rather than genres. For example, the wildly popular MMO World of Warcraft managed to reach over 10 million players at its peak. However, these players never became "MMO gamers" — they were simply World of Warcraft gamers. As World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers fall, there's been no corresponding uptick in subscribers of other, competing MMOs. In fact, pretty much ever MMO released since World of Warcraft has been forced to move to a "free-to-play" model simply to survive. The article explains how the majority of gamers concentrate on a very small number of games, rarely trying new games: they're fans of a specific game, not any game that plays like it.
PC Games (Games)

Sprked Tries To Solve Valve's Paid Mods Scandal 41

SlappingOysters writes: This article takes a closer look at the emerging crowdfunding platform Sprked, which aims to follow the Patreon support model, but exclusively for video game modders. The service is currently in its early stages, but by crafting a system of appreciation and support that acknowledges the loyalty of the modding community, Sprked has the potential to promote and foster the creativity that is so integral to modding, instead of hampering it with the murky baggage of a mandatory economy. Valve's attempt to let modders make some money for their efforts backfired within the community — there are four demons the paid mods plan must slay to actually work.
PC Games (Games)

Warner Bros. Halts Sales of AAA Batman PC Game Over Technical Problems 223

An anonymous reader writes: The Batman: Arkham series of video games has been quite popular over the past several years. But when the most recent iteration, Batman: Arkham Knight, was released a couple days ago, users who bought the PC version of the game found it suffered from crippling performance issues. Now, publisher Warner Bros. made an official statement in the community forums saying they were discontinuing sales of the PC version until quality issues can be sorted out. Gamers and journalists are using it as a rallying point to encourage people to stop preordering games, as it rewards studios for releasing broken content.
Youtube

Google Announces YouTube Gaming 50

An anonymous reader writes: Today Google announced a major new rival to Twitch.tv: YouTube Gaming. In addition to providing structure for the gaming content YouTube already serves (like walkthroughs, reviews, "Let's Plays," speed runs, etc), it'll also be a livestreaming hub for those who like broadcasting their games or watching other people play. Each video game will have its own dedicated page, and users will be able to add games to their "collection" to see other users's videos relating to those games. YouTube Gaming will have its own dedicated app, as well as being a part of the YouTube website. Google is also touting a recommendation engine that will help gamers find more content to watch.
PC Games (Games)

Amazon Hiring Devs For Its First PC Game 46

An anonymous reader writes: Several outlets are reporting that Amazon is preparing to dip its toes in yet another market: PC video games. They're specifically hiring for this purpose now, though they seem to have had plans for some time: "In addition to acquiring Killer Instinct developer Double Helix last year, Amazon has also hired notable developers like Kim Swift, designer of Portal, as well as Clint Hocking, who previously worked on franchises like Far Cry and Splinter Cell. Meanwhile, according to a report from Kotaku, Amazon has spent a lot of cash licensing the CryEngine, the same one used to make high-end PC games like Crysis 3. Outside of development, Amazon also acquired game streaming service Twitch last August for $970 million, and made gaming a big focus for its Fire TV media box."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Fallout 4 Announced 229

An anonymous reader writes: After teasing gamers with a countdown timer yesterday, Bethesda has now announced Fallout 4 for PCs, the Xbox One, and the PS4. They've also released an official trailer (YouTube video). The game will be set in post-apocalyptic Boston, and the player character will apparently be accompanied on his adventures by a dog. The Guardian has a post cataloging the features they're hoping will be improved from previous games in the series: "The combat system in the last two Fallout games was not universally adored. It often felt you were shooting wildly and blindly, biding time before you could use the the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting (VAT) system, which allows players to focus in on specific parts of enemies with a percentage chance of hitting them. ... Well-written, hand-crafted quests are going to be vitally important. The Radiant Quest system used in Skyrim sounds brilliant on paper: infinite quests, randomly generated and a little different each time. But the reality was a lot of fetch quests in similar looking caves. Bethesda may be tempted to bring that system across to Fallout 4, but there's an argument for abandoning dynamic quests altogether and opting for a smaller range of authored challenges."
Businesses

Valve Introduces Steam Refunds In Advance of Summer Sale 126

Deathspawner writes: Despite all of its competition, Valve's Steam service remains the most popular digital PC game store around. While Steam does do a lot of things right, it can sometimes stumble in the worst of ways. Look no further than April's Skyrim mod debacle as a good example. Well, just as Valve fixed up that issue, it's gone ahead and fixed another: it's making refunds dead simple. While refunds have been possible in the past, it's required gamers to jump through hoops to get them. Now, Valve has set certain criteria for granting a refund, no questions asked: if you've bought the game within the past two weeks and played it for two hours or less, your refund is guaranteed. The changes are being welcomed by most, but not all: some developers of smaller games that take less time to play through are worried that this will lead to abuse, and the system may enable more risk-free review-bombing as well.
PC Games (Games)

How Cities: Skylines Beat SimCity At Its Own Game 86

An anonymous reader writes: Maxis, the studio behind SimCity, was shuttered earlier this year. Fortunately, another studio has taken up its mantle. The small team at Colossal Order has already won acclaim for city-builder game Cities: Skylines (and sold millions), earning a great reputation with the modding community by avoiding all the mistakes the last SimCity release made, such as enforced online/multiplayer. A new behind the scenes feature looks at how the game came about — it was not a response to SimCity, surprisingly — as well as what's next from the studio.

"We are planning to start another game project sometime soon," says Colossal CEO Mariina Hallikainen. "We definitely want to focus on old-school simulator games and definitely PC. PC, Mac and Linux, those are our 'thing.' But I think we're maybe going to do something a little bit different."
Graphics

Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted 227

An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has selected the baseline hardware requirements for running their Rift virtual reality headset. To no one's surprise, they're fairly steep: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM. It will also require at least two USB 3.0 ports and "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture."

Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock explains: "On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering." He also points out that PC graphics can afford a fluctuating frame rate — it doesn't matter too much if it bounces between 30-60fps. The Rift has no such luxury, however.

The last requirement is more onerous: WIndows 7 SP1 or newer. Binstock says their development for OS X and Linux has been "paused" so they can focus on delivering content for Windows. They have no timeline for going back to the less popular platforms.
Classic Games (Games)

GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform 104

New submitter Donaithnen writes: Like many geeks, I'm against the idea of DRM in general and have championed GOG.com's DRM-free approach to selling games online. Yet like many geeks, I've also often succumbed to the temptation of Steam because of the convenience of tracking, installing, and playing my PC game purchases through the launcher (not to mention the compulsion of collecting achievements, and watching the total playtime for my favorite games (to my occasional dismay). Now, GOG has announced the open beta for GOG Galaxy, an entirely optional launcher to allow those who want (and only those who want) to have all the same features when playing GOG games.
Displays

Half-Life 2 Writer on VR Games: We're At Pong Level, Only Scratching the Surface 125

An anonymous reader writes: Valve's Chet Faliszek has been in the video game industry for a long time, and his writing has been instrumental for games like Half-life 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. Valve is now developing a virtual reality headset, and Faliszek was on hand at a VR-centric conference where he spoke about how the technology is coming along. He said, "None of us know what the hell we are doing. We're still just scratching the surface of VR. We still haven't found out what VR is, and that's fine. We've been making movies in pretty much the same way for 100 years, TV for 60 years and videogames for 40. VR has only really been [in development] for about a year, so we're at Pong level." One of the obstacles holding VR devices back right now is getting the hardware up to snuff. Faliszek says, "There's one thing you can't do and that's make people sick. It has to run at 90 frames per second. Any lower and people feel sick. Telling people they will be ok 'Once you get your VR legs' is a wholly wrong idea. If people need to get used to it then that's failure."
PC Games (Games)

Kerbal Space Program 1.0 Released After 4 Years of Development 99

hampton2600 writes: The beloved space simulator game Kerbal Space Program has just hit version 1.0 after four years in development. It has risen to prominence in public beta, but the full release brings a host of new features: "The flight model has had a complete overhaul, meaning the lift is now calculated correctly to all lift-generating parts, which includes lifting bodies. The drag simulation has also been completely revised, and uses automatically pre-calculated data based on the each part’s geometry, to be finally applied based on not just the orientation of parts in flight, but also taking other parts into consideration. ... A new heating simulation has been implemented together with the improved aerodynamics. Now, not only temperature but also energy flux is considered when making heat calculations, meaning radiative, conductive, and convective heating and cooling are all simulated and all parts have their individual thermal properties. Parts will emit a blackbody radiation glow if they get hot enough." To the mun!
PC Games (Games)

SimCity's Empire Has Fallen and Skylines Is Picking Up the Pieces 256

sarahnaomi writes: Colossal Order's SimCity-like game, Cities: Skylines, sold more than half a million copies in its first week. The first 250,000 of those were sold in the first 24 hours, making it the fastest-selling game its publisher, Paradox Interactive, has ever released. Only a week before Skylines was released, game publisher Electronic Arts announced that it was shutting down SimCity developer Maxis' studio in Emeryville, which it acquired in 1997.

"I feel so bad about Maxis closing down," Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen said. "The older SimCitys were really the inspiration for us to even consider making a city builder." At the same time, Hallikainen admits SimCity's mistakes were Colossal Order's opportunity. "If SimCity was a huge success, which is what we expected, I don't know if Skylines would have ever happened," she said, explaining that it would have been a harder pitch to sell to Paradox if the new SimCity dominated the market.
PC Games (Games)

Steam On Linux Now Has Over a Thousand Games Available 192

An anonymous reader writes: This week the Steam Linux client has crossed the threshold of having more than 1,000 native Linux games available while Steam in total has just under 5,000 games. This news comes while the reported Steam Linux market-share is just about 1.0%, but Valve continues brewing big plans for Linux gaming. Is 2015 the year of the Linux gaming system?
Media

Steam Broadcasting Now Open To Everyone 93

jones_supa writes: The beta test phase of Steam Broadcasting feature has been completed. It is now available to everyone by updating the client to the newest version. The feature allows users to watch and stream games to and from users on your friends list. Right-clicking the name of a friend who is in-game offers the option to "Watch Game." This will send a request which needs to be accepted by the player so that the spectator can hop in. A chat is also included. Steam Broadcasting was first announced late last year as an alternative to third-party streaming services like Twitch, Ustream and Hitbox.

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