Earlier this month, we discussed a Kickstarter project for Ouya, and Android-based gaming console in development by a company of the same name. Their fundraising campaign was wildly successful, and now they've partnered with cloud gaming provider OnLive for the console's launch. (Which is somewhat unexpected, because OnLive already sells its own pseudo-console.) In the same post, the Ouya creators showed their most recent design for the console's controllers.
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the_newsbeagle writes "The annual computer poker competition has just wrapped up, in which artificial intelligences battled each other over the (virtual) Texas Hold 'Em table. A researcher who worked on one of the top programs, the University of Alberta's "Hyperborean" program, has blogged about this year's competition and entrants for IEEE Spectrum. His first post explains the rules of the game and why it's tougher for a computer to win at poker than at chess; his second post describes Hyperborean's strategies, and the third gives the results and takes stock of Hyperborean's performance."
An anonymous reader writes "Gabe Newell wants to support Linux because he think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in PC space. He wants to move away from a closed ecosystem of Microsoft Windows 8. He recently made a rare appearance at Casual Connect, an annual videogame conference in Seattle. From the allthingsd article: 'The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior. We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It's a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.' Some Linux users think that this is a win-win situation for Linux users as it will brings good game titles on the Linux system that haven't been there and it will protect steam business model from both Apple and Microsoft."
New submitter JestersGrind writes "Blizzard has announced that Mists of Pandaria, the latest expansion of the popular World of Warcraft MMO, will be launched on September 25, 2012 and can be pre-ordered now." The game page has a good deal of information about the new expansion. The level cap is increased to 90, there is a new race (Pandaren) and a new class (Monk), and the talent system has been completely redesigned. They've added Challenge Modes for dungeons, which normalizes player gear and lets them compete to see who can clear it the fastest. The MMO-Champion website keeps track of all the minor details, if you're interested.
An anonymous reader writes "Leading developer Chris Stevens tells Edge magazine that neuroscience researchers will soon find 'non-violent triggers to mimic the rush of pleasure gamers feel when firing guns.' Researchers can now use functional MRI scanners to monitor what is going on in a player's brain and search for more optimistic and non-violent pleasure triggers. 'For decades it's as if developers have been driving a car with no speedometer,' Stevens claims, referring to the reliance on reported emotions rather than empirical measurements in game development. The functional MRI now gives a much more accurate indication of when peaceful triggers light up the brain's pleasure regions, opening up alternative game designs, without crude weaponry. 'I would like to see many more beautiful games like Fez and Limbo,' Stevens says. 'When I was a kid, games were more beautiful and magical and immersed you in fantastical, peaceful and enjoyable landscape.' The functional MRI could make these peaceful titles provably superior — no mean feat in a mass-market games industry currently obsessed with the crude dopamine-triggering effects of simulated weaponry."
hypnosec writes with news of a curious way of fighting piracy. From the article: "Android based devices are being activated at the rate of million a day and users are downloading apps and games at a rate never seen before. Despite these promising stats, developers of Android based games and apps are not really keen on porting games and apps that have been successful on iOS to Android. Why? Rampant piracy on Android! Madfinger Games has joined the long list of developers who have recently turned their paid Android based game, Dead Trigger, to a free one. Originally priced at $0.99 on Play Store, the first person shooter game is now available for free . The iOS version of the game still costs $0.99 and hasn't been made free." Zero-cost, but certainly not Free Software; one has to wonder whether Open Source games with a "donation" build in the store would do better than proprietary games with upfront costs.
First time accepted submitter ubrgeek writes "Popular game Minecraft has hit the big time: It's being sued for infringement by patent troll Uniloc who claims the game infringes a patent it holds on copy protection software. Developer Markus 'Notch' Persson sounds like he's up for the challenge: 'Unfortunately for them, they're suing us over a software patent. If needed, I will throw piles of money at making sure they don't get a cent.'"
theodp writes "In 1999, TIME's cover warned readers to Beware of Pokemon ('For many kids it's now an addiction: cards, video games, toys, a new movie. Is it bad for them?'). But Pokemon wasn't as easily felled as Lehman or Bear Stearns. Thirteen years later, 16-year-old Manoj Sunny has his eye on a Pokemon world title, having earned the chance to travel to The Big Island with 35 fellow Americans for the 2012 Pokemon Video Game World Championships, which will be held Aug. 10-12. Sunny, who also captains his school's chess team, credits his success to a good memory, intuition, daily practice, the use of an online simulator, and a competitive attitude ('I hate losing. Once I lost, I needed to get better.')"
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Valve's Linux team that's still growing has found much interest in open-source graphics drivers. Intel Linux graphics driver developers and Valve's Linux team were meeting for the past week to look at each other's code, work out performance goals, and collaborate on new features. Ian Romanick of Intel blogs, 'The funny thing is Valve guys say the same thing about drivers. There were a couple times where we felt like they were trying to convince us that open source drivers are a good idea. We had to remind them that they were preaching to the choir. :) Their problem with closed drivers (on all platforms) is that it's such a blackbox that they have to play guess-and-check games. There's no way for them to know how changing a particular setting will affect the performance. If performance gets worse, they have no way to know why. If they can see where time is going in the driver, they can make much more educated guesses.' Perhaps the companies are paying attention to Linus Torvalds' memo to NVIDIA?"
wasimkadak sends this quote from Ars: "Developer Phil Fish knows there's a problem preventing some people from enjoying his Xbox 360 puzzle platformer Fez as intended. But he's not going to fix it, thanks to what he says is an exorbitant fee of 'tens of thousands of dollars' that Microsoft would charge to re-certify the game after a needed patch. The issue started on June 22, when Fish released a patch intended to fix some outstanding gameplay and performance issues with Fez. That patch gave rise to new problems for some players, though, by causing their save files to appear as corrupted, in effect erasing their progress through the game. Microsoft pulled the initial patch for the game mere hours after it first went up, to prevent the bug it contained from spreading too far." Another article covering the story suggests this situation is simply a mis-match between an indie-dev's expectations and the realities of a curated gaming platform.
Speaking to Eurogamer, art maestro (and visual design director of upcoming stealth/action game Dishonored) Victor Antonov put into words what many gamers have been feeling about the gaming industry of late: "It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry. There have been too many sequels, and too many established IPs that have been ruling the market. And a lot of them are war games. And they're great projects and great entertainment, but there's a lack of variety today. So, when you step out of this established genre, people cannot grasp it, or the press tries to find a match. ... We were always waiting for the next generation of great worlds or great graphics. Well, great graphics came; the worlds that came with these graphics are not up to the level of the graphics. ... Games should sort of split up and specialize and assume that there's such a thing as genre, and they shouldn't try to please everybody at the same time and try to make easy, diluted projects. Let's go for intensity and quality."
CowboyNeal writes: "Last week I wrote about the fluid nature of modern game development and how that often impacts both game reviews and purchases. Given the recent announcement of the release of Alien Arena: Reloaded, I decided it warranted a fresh look, to see how the free shooter has aged. Read on for the rest of my review of Alien Arena: Reloaded."
SmartAboutThings writes "A newly discovered patent shows that Microsoft might be interested in developing virtual controllers for tablets and smartphones. A while ago, it didn't quite make sense why Microsoft would need such a piece of technology, but with the announcement of their Surface tablet, it suddenly takes on a new perspective." I think a few board games (Catan comes to mind) would be pretty playable on a moderately-sized, shared touch surface, with everyone's phone acting as their hand.
DavidGilbert99 writes "Jolla Mobile's MD, Jussi Hurmola has confirmed that its first smartphone will be backed up by an app store at launch later this year — pointing out that a version of Angry Birds is already available on MeeGo. And really, all you need to make an app store successful is Angry Birds, right?" The interview from which the article is sourced has more information on Jolla's general strategy, including their plans to become "a major player."
Mike Mearls is the Senior Manager for the Dungeons and Dragons Design Team. He's been with D&D publishers Wizards of the Coast (a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 2005, Before that he was a free-lance game writer and designer. In this conversation with Slashdot editor Rob "samzenpus" Rozeboom, he talks about changes in the latest version of D&D and how the company interacts with players. (We'll have some more chat with Mike next week, different wizard time, same wizard channel, so stay tuned.)