Andorin writes "An independently filmed adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, called The Hero Of Time, has been taken offline by Nintendo as of the end of December. The film's producers write: 'We came to an agreement with Nintendo earlier this month to stop distributing the film... We understand Nintendo's right to protect its characters and trademarks and understand how in order to keep their property unspoiled by fan's interpretation of the franchise, Nintendo needs to protect itself — even from fan-works with good intentions.' Filming for the feature-length, non-profit film began in August 2004 and the movie was completed in 2008. It premiered in various theaters worldwide, including in New York and Los Angeles, and then became available online in the middle of December, before it was targeted by Nintendo's legal team. As both an avid Zelda fan and an appreciator of independent works, I was extremely disappointed in Nintendo's strong-arming of a noncommercial adaptation to the Game of the Year for 1999."
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An article at Gamasutra provides some details on the hardware Mythic uses to power Warhammer Online, courtesy of Chief Technical Officer Matt Shaw and Online Technical Director Andrew Mann. Quoting: "At any given time, approximately 2,000 servers are in operation, supporting the gameplay in WAR. Matt Shaw commented, 'What we call a server to the user, that main server is actually a cluster of a number of machines. Our Server Farm in Virginia, for example,' Mann said, 'has about 60 Dell Blade chassis running Warhammer Online — each hosting up to 16 servers. All in all, we have about 700 servers in operation at this location.' ... 'We use blade architecture heavily for Warhammer Online,' Mann noted. 'Almost every server that we deploy is a blade system. We don't use virtualization; our software is somewhat virtualized itself. We've always had the technology to run our game world across several pieces of hardware. It's application-layer clustering at a process level. Virtualization wouldn't gain us much because we already run very close to peak CPU usage on these systems.' ... The normalized server configuration — in use across all of the Mythic-managed facilities — features dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors running at 3 GHz with 8 GB of RAM."
unknown_gamer writes "BRINK turns out to be a lot more than just a regular shooter. The research behind the game — yes, there was research — turns out to actually be valid. Richard Ham and Edward Stern talk to Snezana about the actual scientific methods behind BRINK, the motivations behind the game, and about the game itself." A video up at Destructoid sums up the game briefly, and two others show an extended gameplay sequence. A preview from back in September at Rock, Paper, Shotgun explains BRINK in more detail. The game is due out Fall 2010. The developer, Splash Damage, seems willing to do a Linux port if the publisher, Bethesda, gives them the green light.
Pirx Danford writes "The world record sale for a virtual item was surpassed yesterday by the avatar known as Buzz Erik Lightyear, when he acquired a very special piece of property. For the incredible amount of $330,000, the space station Crystal Palace has been won by Buzz in the in-game auction system of Entropia Universe. The player who won the auction is known as one of the best crafters within the game, and like with Chuck Norris jokes, there are a bunch of sayings about what Buzz Erik Lightyear can achieve."
hysma writes "It looks like OnLive, the remote gaming system that streams HD video over the Internet, is one step closer to becoming reality, according to an article on DSL Reports in response to a lengthy video presentation by founder & CEO Steve Perlman at Columbia University. Perlman demonstrated the UI, spectating, using the service on an iPhone, and other features."
andylim writes "It looks as if Duke Nukem isn't completely 'nuked' after all. Someone has ported the 90s classic on to a Nokia N900. As you'll see in the video, you control Duke using the Qwerty keypad and shoot using the touchscreen. I'm wondering how long it will take for this to get on other mobile platforms." In other Duke news, reader Jupix points out that 3D Realms' CEO Scott Miller recently said, "There are numerous other Duke games in various stages of development, several due out this year. We are definitely looking to bring Duke into casual gaming spaces, plus there are other major Duke games in production."
bizwriter writes "A recent patent application from Google describes a way to provide 'the collaborative generation of interactive features for digital videos, and in particular to interactive video annotations enabling control of video playback locations and creation of interactive games.' Get into the description and you find it's about building games on top of video submissions, making it sound that Google plans to extend its YouTube site into an associated gaming site."
eldavojohn writes "Landry Walker (alternative comics creator of X-Ray Studios) has a brief opinion piece at Elder Geek asserting that all he wants for Christmas is more realistic game violence. While he acknowledges the world probably isn't ready for it, he wishes that getting shot in a video game was a bit more like getting shot in real life. From his piece: '... that's my problem with video game violence. Bullets are something we shrug off. Point blank fire with a machine gun is something that a tiny bit of flexible body armor and 20 seconds sitting on a magic invisibility inducing gargoyle can cure. Time and time again, I've heard people claim that they want to see a greater degree of realism in video games. But that's a lie. We don't want realism. We want fantasy. We want unlimited ammo and we want rapid respawns. We want to jump out of second story windows without a scratch. We want to dodge bullets and shake off mortal wounds without pause.' What say you, reader? Would this bring a new level of impossibility to video games or would there be a way to balance this out?"
The Opposable Thumbs blog recently took a look at how religious themes are handled in video games. Most makers of mainstream games are hesitant, given the strong feelings of most consumers on the subject, but other companies are trying desperately to bring religion into the spotlight. Quoting: "Part of the problem is that the game industry is often touted as being a corrupting influence for the youth of the world. Criticism against the game industry has come from leaders as high up as the current Pope, and many of us who have been exposed to sermons bemoaning the influence that games and movies have on kids. Even when groups like the Christian Game Developers Foundation put out a video encouraging developers to create wholesome titles for kids, the attitude conveyed towards current members of the industry was contemptuous at best. Needless to say, games with heavy religious content are usually fringe projects, independently created and oftentimes sporting dodgy production values, because publishers wisely don't want to risk boycotts from legions of the faithful."
TheClockworkSoul writes "Scientific American reports on a study published this month in the Journal of Communication, which found that women who engage in a role-playing game online actually commit more time on average than the male players do. The authors surveyed 7,000 players logged in to EverQuest II (PDF), and found that the average age of the gamers surveyed was 31, and that playing time tended to increase with age. Interestingly, however, the female gamers not only tended to log more time online (29 hours per week versus 25 for the males), but were also more likely to lie about how much they really play."
News of the upcoming NASA MMO, Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond, has been scarce since its announcement in 2008, but NASA recently revealed that a "mini demo game" is coming in January that will show off some of what they've completed so far. "Moon Base Alpha utilizes actual NASA Constellation program design details developed by NASA for mankind’s return to the Moon in 2020. Timelines in the much anticipated Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond MMO will be set even farther in the exciting future (2035+), but the ability to explore our own near-future moon missions is also planned for in the forthcoming game facilitated by the NASA Learning Technologies and Innovative Partnerships Programs." They're provided a slideshow and a brief video, and one of the developers spoke about the game with Edge last month.
Rick Bentley writes with more on the story behind the meltdown of Duke Nukem Forever, the game that will now live on only as a cautionary tale: "Although the shutdown was previously reported on Slashdot, this new Wired article goes in-depth behind the scenes to paint a picture of a mushroom cloud-sized implosion. Developers spending a decade in a career holding pattern for below market salary with 'profit sharing' incentives, no real project deadlines, a motion capture room apparently used to capture the motion of strippers (the new game was to take place in a strip club, owned by Duke, that gets attacked by aliens), and countless crestfallen fans. *Sniff*, I would have played that game."
This article at CNet takes a detailed look at the growth of social gaming through Apple's iPhone, a market many developers — and Apple themselves — are still struggling to figure out. The piece also speculates on how such games and networks will continue to evolve. Quoting: "While competition has spawned better features among these services, the future brings a growing need for a more unified network. Even if all these networks begin to become impossible to differentiate, users are eventually going to want a less-disjointed platform when jumping from game to game, and app to app. Thus far Facebook, and even Twitter to some degree have provided that constant, just by giving users a way to log in to these platforms. The unification can shake out in a number of ways though, the most likely of which is consolidation. Open Feint can continue to grow until it's snatched up by a larger company (like Apple). Or it can begin absorbing, or muscling out the other, less popular networks. As mentioned before, Apple plays a big part in this: not only in how it changes the hardware, but also how it continues to evolve the business of the App Store and information sharing between applications."
theodp writes "A newly disclosed Microsoft patent application — Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristic — takes aim at fat people, proposing to generate fat avatars in gaming environments for individuals whose health records indicate they're overweight, limiting their game play, and even banning them. From the patent application: 'An undesirable body weight could be reflected in an overweight or underweight appearance for the avatar. Only requisite health levels are allowed to compete in a certain competition level. A dedicated gamer could exercise for a period of time until his health indicator gadget shows a sufficiently high health/health credit in order to allow reentering the avatar environment.' Linking one's gaming avatar to one's physique, explains Microsoft, will produce healthy and virtuous behaviors in individuals. Microsoft also proposes shaping gaming experiences by using 'psychological and demographic information such as education level, geographic location, age, sex, intelligence quotient, socioeconomic class, occupation, marital/relationship status, religious belief, political affiliation, etc.'"