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Hands-On With Sony's VR Headset

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the maybe-that-should-be-heads-on dept.

Displays 46

It wasn't long after the rise of the Oculus Rift that Sony hopped on the virtual reality bandwagon and announced a headset of their own. Now, Eurogamer has had a chance to operate and test Sony's hardware, which they say "has its own distinct vision for VR," as well as a distinct focus on console gaming. "On the 640x768 per eye first-gen Rift, the result was the perception of a disappointingly minuscule resolution, with a highly distracting "screen door" effect where you could see between the pixels. This is far less of an issue with Morpheus, and we were pleasantly surprised by how good image quality is in an environment where resolution remains at a premium. In discussing the situation with Sony, it's clear that some effort has gone into judging how to best apply the fisheye lens effect that distorts the image, with a stronger focus on retaining resolution in the key focus area. Over and above that, we wouldn't be surprised if the narrower field of view also contributes to improving image integrity. ... However, in comparing Morpheus to what we've seen from Oculus VR, it's perhaps surprising to discover that a truly transformative element of the proposition comes from a piece of hardware that you might already own: PlayStation Move. Our aspirations for the hardware were never fully realized, but the hook-up with Morpheus is a match made in heaven - in fact, if there is to be a struggle for market leadership with Oculus (and potentially Microsoft), the existing motion controller is undoubtedly one of the strongest weapons in Sony's arsenal."

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the aka-every-game-on-xbox-live dept.

Games 212

An article at Wired takes a look at two multiplayer survival games, DayZ and Rust, and at the behavior of players when their actions are freed from a civilized moral code. 'Violence wouldn't bother a psychopath, [Dr. Adam Perkins] says, but they might have another incentive to avoid violence: the consequences of getting caught. Most psychopaths are logical people, he says, and understand that actions bring consequences. The threat of repercussions — say, for example, prison — might keep them from acting out. Such disincentives do not exist in virtual worlds. Absent a sense of empathy, you're free to rob and kill at will. What we do with this reveals something about us.

Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, says imagining ourselves doing something horrible is a way to see ourselves in a new light. "One of the ways we keep ourselves moral is to imagine the terrible things we could do, but then don't do," Ronson says. "You stand on a train platform and think, 'I could push that person in front of the train.' That thought pops into your head, and it doesn't make you a lunatic. It makes you a good person, because what you're actually saying is, 'Oh my god, I’m capable of doing a terrible thing, but I would never actually do it.'" ... But we're still left with the big question: Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'

Sony Bringing PlayStation To China

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the 10-million-consoles-and-8-games dept.

Businesses 41

VentureBeat reports that one market formerly closed to console makers is opening up in a big way. An excerpt: "One month after Microsoft announced its launching the Xbox One in China this September, Sony today announced that its PlayStation business is coming to the world’s most populous country. It’s unclear which PlayStation hardware and games will come to China — or when — but it’s reasonable to assume Sony will bring its PlayStation 4 console (and perhaps its PlayStation Vita handheld) to China later this year. The Chinese game industry is already worth $13 billion, most of which gets spent on PC and mobile. That’s not console makers’ fault: China implemented a console ban in 2000, saying it would protect children from violent video games. As soon as the Chinese Ministry of Culture said it would begin working on new rules, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all expressed interest in bringing their consoles to the country. Like Microsoft, which is working with Chinese media firm BesTV to bring the Xbox One to China, Sony also has a local partner: Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development (OPCD). Both OPCD and BesTV are subsidiaries of China’s Shanghai Media Group."

This Is Your Brain While Videogaming Stoned

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the for-some-values-of-your dept.

Games 168

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Pot and video games have long been bound together in hazy, wedded bliss—as well as in compulsion and codependency. Many a World of Warcraft binger has been found in the darkest hours of the night with clouds of sweet, milk-white smoke curling around him, a bong next to the keyboard. But the way these lovers, games and weed, commingle has only rarely been studied, and when done so, usually exclusively in the context of substance abuse and how it relates to what is known as PVP: 'problem video game playing.'" Motherboard takes a different look.

Report: Samsung Building VR Headset For Its Phones & Tablets

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the fast-approaching-buzzword-status dept.

Displays 49

An anonymous reader writes "Engadget reports that Samsung is working on virtual reality technology to compete with the Oculus Rift. Their work is fairly far along, and it's expected to be announced this year. It's being built to function in tandem with Samsung's flagship mobile devices, most likely their upcoming Galaxy phones and tablets. From the article: 'We're told it has an OLED screen, as good or better than in the second Rift dev kit; it's not clear how the headset connects to your phone/tablet, but we're guessing it's a wired connection rather than wireless. ...This is a device meant for use with games. What type of games? Android games! Sure, but which ones? That's certainly the question. Great games make the platform, and VR games are especially tough to crack given the newness of the medium. One thing's for sure: most major games won't work on VR as direct ports.' The report also suggests Samsung is targeting a lower price point than its competitors. True or not, it will hopefully help drive down prices for all upcoming VR tech." Meanwhile, DARPA is experimenting with the Oculus Rift for cyberwar visualization.

It's Time For the Descent Games Return

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the i-expect-a-kickstarter-project-within-the-week dept.

Classic Games (Games) 251

An anonymous reader writes "Gamers of a certain age will probably remember Descent, a game that combined first-person shooters with flight sims in a way that has never really been replicated. GameSpot has an article calling for a new entry in the Descent series, and it reminded me of all the stomach-churning battles I had as a kid (when the game wasn't bringing my 33MHz 486 to its knees). 'Here's where modern gaming innovations make Descent an even more tempting reboot. From the two-dimensional mines of Spelunky to the isometric caves of Path of Exile, procedurally generated levels help deliver fresh experiences to players in a number of genres. The mines of Descent would be perfect candidates for such creation, and they wouldn't have to be limited to the metallic walls and lunar geology of past Descent games.

Imagine exploring organic tunnels carved by some unknown alien creature, or floating past dazzling crystalline stalactites in pristine ancient caves. Perhaps the influences of Red Faction and Minecraft could also come into play as you bored your own shortcuts through layers of destructible sediment. All of Descent's dizzying navigation challenges could be even more exciting with the immersive potential of a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift or the Sony Morpheus. Feeling the mine walls close in on you from all sides could get your heart racing, and turning your head to spot shortcuts, power-ups, or delicate environmental details could greatly heighten the sense of being an explorer in an uncharted land.'"

Valve In-Home Game Streaming Supports Windows, OS X & Linux

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the runs-on-anything dept.

Windows 106

MojoKid (1002251) writes "Valve has today pushed out a new update to its Steam client on all three of the major OSes that finally takes In-home Game-Streaming out of beta. Similar to NVIDIA's GameStream, which streams native gameplay from a GeForce-equipped PC to the NVIDIA SHIELD, Valve's solution lets you stream from one PC to another, regardless of which OS it's running. What this means is you could have a SteamOS-based PC in your living-room, which is of course Linux-based, and stream games from your Windows PC in another room which ordinarily would never run under Linux. Likewise, you could stream a game from a Windows PC to an OS X machine, or vice versa."

Blizzard Sues Starcraft II Cheat Creators

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the zerging-with-lawyers dept.

The Courts 252

qubezz writes: "TorrentFreak reports that on Monday, Blizzard filed a lawsuit in US District court in California against the programmers behind the popular Starcraft II cheat 'ValiantChaos MapHack.' The complaint seeks relief from 'direct copyright infringement,' 'contributory copyright infringement,' 'vicarious copyright infringement,' 'trafficking in circumvention devices,' etc. The suit seeks the identity of the cheat's programmers, as it fishes for names of John Does 1-10, in addition to an injunction against the software (which remains on sale) and punitive damages. Blizzard claims losses from diminished user experiences, and also that 'when users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they directly infringe Blizzard's copyright in StarCraft II, including by creating unauthorized derivative works"."

Zenimax Sues Oculus Over VR Tech

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the being-jerks-for-fun-and-profit dept.

Facebook 97

An anonymous reader writes "We had hints at this when Zenimax accused John Carmack of stealing 'proprietary technology and know-how,' but now it's official: Zenimax is suing Oculus VR over its virtual reality headset technology. 'According to a statement released by Zenimax, the lawsuit was filed over what it perceives to be the defendants' illegal exploitation of intellectual property, including "trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how relating to virtual reality technology" that was developed by Zenimax. Zenimax is also seeking to take Oculus and Luckey to task for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition. Zenimax continues to claim that it provided IP to Oculus under a legal agreement that it would be owned exclusively by ZeniMax and could not be "used, disclosed, or transferred to third parties without Zenimax's approval."'"

World's First Dedicated Gaming Magazine Is Facing Closure

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the media-is-dead dept.

The Media 82

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "BBC Reports: 'Computer and Video Games, which in 1981 was the world's first magazine dedicated to gaming, is facing closure. The title, which has been online-only since 2004, may stop publishing at the end of a 45-day consultation period that began on 14 May, sources said. However, its publishers, Future, are also believed to be looking into selling off the brand. The magazine is behind the gaming industry's Golden Joystick Awards, a yearly event held since 1983. Early issues of the magazine were seen as being instrumental in helping small-time games developers to get their titles out there, said Mr Henderson — a trend that he thought was beginning to re-emerge as apps and mobile gaming have taken off.'"

Wolfenstein: The New Order Launches

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the nazi-killing-games-will-outlive-any-actual-nazis dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 167

Back in 1992, Wolfenstein 3D helped kick off the fledgling FPS genre. Today, the saga continues with Wolfenstein: the New Order. It's set in an alternate-history world where the Nazis won WW2, with hero B.J. Blazkowicz setting out to join resistance fighters. Unusually for a modern FPS, the game has no multiplayer element — it's single-player only. Early reviews for the game are generally positive. Polygon's says, "First, stealth is a valid option for extended portions of the game, with silent melee takedowns and a brutally effective suppressed pistol. There's also a form of progression in Wolfenstein: The New Order's perk system. Performing certain actions in combat unlocks new abilities and upgrades over time, which can make a significant difference in the way you can tackle firefights. You can also find weapon upgrades that further escalate the raw, over-the-top violence on display. This combination of old ideas and new hooks seems mismatched, but I was taken aback by how well it all worked together."

Eurogamer had some criticism: "Less impressive are the plot and the characters, which often feel like they exist only to amplify the opportunities for violence and sensationalism. ... I wouldn't say it's offensive, but Wolfenstein: The New Order isn't a very tactful game, even though it's often trying to be. ... This is a game that does everything it needs to to earn an 18 certificate but rarely manages to achieve a sense of either gravity or maturity." The game is out for the PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, and Windows. It's build on the id Tech 5 engine, and that's causing some graphics issues on the PC, much like RAGE did when it launched in 2011. The game's massive size (~50GB) is causing problems for PS4 owners as well.

How Virtual Reality Became Reality

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the when-two-smartphones-and-a-gas-mask-love-each-other-very-much dept.

Displays 104

An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an in-depth report on the development of the Oculus Rift, telling the story of the tech and its creators from conception to present. Quoting: 'That's because Oculus has found a way to make a headset that does more than just hang a big screen in front of your face. By combining stereoscopic 3-D, 360-degree visuals, and a wide field of view—along with a supersize dose of engineering and software magic—it hacks your visual cortex. As far as your brain is concerned, there's no difference between experiencing something on the Rift and experiencing it in the real world. "This is the first time that we've succeeded in stimulating parts of the human visual system directly," says Abrash, the Valve engineer. "I don't get vertigo when I watch a video of the Grand Canyon on TV, but I do when I stand on a ledge in VR." ... The hardware problems have been solved, the production lines are almost open, and the Rift will be here soon. After that it's anybody's guess. "I've written 2 million lines of code over the past 20 years, and now I'm starting from a blank page," Carmack says. "But the sense that I'm helping build the future right now is palpable."'"

ANTVR - China's Answer To Oculus Rift Is Raising Funds

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the strap-it-on dept.

China 104

dryriver (1010635) writes "Chinese technology startup ANTVR is raising funds on Kickstarter for a new, gaming oriented VR Headset capable of rivaling FaceBook's Oculus Rift VR Headset technologically speaking. The ANTVR headset features a full HD screen (1920 x 1080, 1 megapixel per eye), 100 degrees of FOV, 9-axis motion detect with low latency (1 ms), wireless communication, support for Playstation, Xbox, PC, Android gaming platforms, as well as an interesting 'virtual gun' type controller that can be folded open into a steering wheel or gamepad-type controller, and also holds batteries that can power the ANTVR for 3 — 8 hours. Interesting technical features include being able to detect whether the ANTVR wearer steps forward, backwards, to the left or to the right, and also whether the wearer crouches or jumps. The ANTVR headset also comes with a viewing window at the bottom of the unit that can be opened, so you can glance down and see your hands and keyboard and mouse for example. What makes ANTVR interesting is that it isn't a 'cheap Chinese knockoff of Oculus Rift'. A lot of original thought seems to have gone into making ANTVR a 'significantly different from a design standpoint' competitor to Oculus Rift. It now remains to be seen how much money ANTVR can raise on Kickstarter, and how many real world users/gamers opt for this new Chinese VR kit over the older — and currently — more famous Oculus Rift."

Report: YouTube Buying Twitch.tv For $1 Billion

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the day-for-deals dept.

Youtube 142

Variety reports that Google's YouTube unit has reached a deal with Twitch.tv to buy the game-streaming service for $1 billion. From the article: "The deal, in an all-cash offer, is expected to be announced imminently, sources said. If completed the acquisition would be the most significant in the history of YouTube, which Google acquired in 2006 for $1.65 billion. ... YouTube is preparing for U.S. regulators to challenge the Twitch deal, according to sources. YouTube is far and away the No. 1 platform for Internet video, serving more than 6 billion hours of video per month to 1 billion users worldwide, and the company expects the Justice Department to take a hard look at whether buying Twitch raises anticompetitive issues in the online-video market."

The Technical Difficulty In Porting a PS3 Game To the PS4

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the more-than-you-bargained-for dept.

PlayStation (Games) 152

An anonymous reader writes "The Last of Us was one of the last major projects for the PlayStation 3. The code optimization done by development studio Naughty Dog was a real technical achievement — making graphics look modern and impressive on a 7-year-old piece of hardware. Now, they're in the process of porting it to the much more capable PS4, which will end up being a technical accomplishment in its own right. Creative director Neil Druckmann said, 'Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimized the game so much for the PS3's SPUs specifically. It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimize it again. I can't describe how difficult a task that is. And once it's running well, you're running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn't screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it's a drastically different look. That's not 'improved' any more; that's different. We want to stay faithful while being better.'"

Ouya's Unsung Strength: Multiplayer For Parties

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the shades-of-the-wii dept.

Android 54

An anonymous reader writes: "Ouya, the Kickstarted, Android-based gaming console, had a much easier time selling people the idea of a mini-console than selling people on the console itself. Once people got over the excitement of seeing an indie console break into the market, they asked, 'Wait, why would I want to play Android games on my living room TV?' Almost a year has passed, and we're finally seeing an answer to that question: party gaming. It's one thing to play a console against your friends online, but when you get a bunch of people in the same room, most console games are too deep and complex to just pick up and play in a fun, semi-competitive way. The person who owns the fighting game is going to mop the floor with everyone else. Mobile games, on the other hand, are often incredibly simple, and Ouya forces every game to have a free trial, so you can easily weed out the ones that aren't good for groups. For example: 'In Hidden In Plain Sight, your character is one ninja lost in a sea of CPU-controlled ninjas with exactly the same texture. In the first few seconds, you have to walk left, right, up, down, anything that will let you understand which of the characters on the screen is yours. Once you've got that, you have to figure out your opponents. Any move that doesn't look like it's performed by the AI could give you away.'"

Halo 5 Announced

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the master-chief-still-alive-and-kicking dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 8

Today game studio 343 Industries announced Halo 5: Guardians for the Xbox One. It's scheduled for launch in fall, 2015, and they say the game is bigger in terms of scope and content than Halo 4. They're rewriting the engine underlying the game, and their goal is to have it run at 60 fps on the Xbox One. 343i also announced plans to take Halo beyond games. They're collaborating with Steven Spielberg to create a standalone Halo television series.

Chernobyl, In Games and In Real Life

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the unique-spookiness dept.

Games 20

An anonymous reader writes "Nick Rush-Cooper has an insightful article at Rock, Paper, Shotgun about his visits to Chernobyl. He's made many such trips for research purposes, and he's mapping radiation levels in the Exclusion Zone, which can 'vary by tenfold or more over the space of less than a meter.' But he's also a gamer, and he's played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl and other titles that take place there. He writes about the unusual perspective this afforded him: 'If you travel and recognize something you have seen in a film, that's visual recognition. You're seeing something you have seen before. With games it's a recognition of experience, not just a visual memory of a three dimensional space, but the sense of being somewhere you have been before. Even in Call of Duty 4, which uses Pripyat just as much as an aesthetic choice with little meaning as many movies have, its shooting gallery still requires the player to think of Pripyat as a space that requires positioning; identifying firing lines and choke points. It wasn't until I was actually in the Zone myself that I realized to what extent the games manage to capture the sense of the Pripyat landscape itself as a malevolent, even antagonistic, presence. Of course, guided tours in a hot, sunny summer bear little resemblance to Stalker's world. But, as an invisible presence known only through little blinking, chattering devices, I never really got used to radiation during my two-dozen trips to the Zone.'"

Game Industry Fights Rising Development Costs

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the we-must-teach-computers-to-make-art dept.

The Almighty Buck 111

An anonymous reader writes "Video game development budgets have been rising for years, and the recent launch of a new generation of consoles has only made it worse. Developers of AAA titles are now fighting to keep costs manageable while providing the technological advances gamers have come to expect. Just a few years ago, budgets ranging above $100 million were considered absurd, but now Activision is committing $500 million to a new IP from the studio that created Halo. Alan Roberts, technical director for Playground Games, says development teams keep expanding: 'Our in-house development team is roughly 20 per cent bigger than it was on last-gen, but we're doing even more with outsourcers this time in order to create content to the level of detail required by new generation games.' He adds that one way studios are trying to defray costs is to put more effort into building great tools for content creators."

In the New Age of Game Development, Gamers Have More Power Than Ever

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the become-the-squeakiest-wheel-for-only-$250 dept.

PC Games (Games) 101

Velcroman1 writes: "In the olden times before high-speed Internet, the game you purchased on day one was what you were still playing months later. Now we live in an era of day-one patches, hotfixes, balance updates, and more. Diablo III, for example, is unrecognizable today compared to the state it was in when it launched back in 2012. Nowadays, savvy gamers go in expecting their experience to change over time — to improve over time. Today, 'Early Access' is both an acknowledgment of the dangers of early adoption (no one likes to be a guinea pig, after all) and an opportunity for enthusiastic consumers to have a say in how the product they've purchased will take shape. In this article, Adam Rosenberg talks with Michael McMain, CEO and founder of Xaviant, and creative director on the indie studio's first project — Lichdom: Battlemage, which embraces the concept like never before."

Microsoft Finally Selling Xbox One Without Kinect

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the paranoid-gamers-to-save-big-on-tinfoil dept.

Input Devices 227

DroidJason1 writes: "Microsoft has unbundled the Kinect from the Xbox One. The unbundled system's price now matches the PlayStation 4. Microsoft is touting 'your feedback' as the reason for this move. Any Xbox One functionality that relies on voice, video, gestures, etc, will not work without a Kinect, and users will be able to purchase a standalone Kinect later this year."

Standards Group Adds Adaptive-Sync To DisplayPort

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the variable-framerate-considered-alright dept.

Displays 82

MojoKid (1002251) writes "Over the past nine months, we've seen the beginnings of a revolution in how video games are displayed. First, Nvidia demoed G-Sync, its proprietary technology for ensuring smooth frame delivery. Then AMD demoed its own free standard, dubbed FreeSync, that showed a similar technology. Now, VESA (Video Electronics Standard Association) has announced support for "Adaptive Sync," as an addition to DisplayPort. The new capability will debut with DisplayPort 1.2a. The goal of these technologies is to synchronize output from the GPU and the display to ensure smooth output. When this doesn't happen, the display will either stutter due to a mismatch of frames (if V-Sync is enabled) or may visibly tear if V-Sync is disabled. Adaptive Sync is the capability that will allow a DisplayPort 1.2a-compatible monitor and video card to perform FreeSync without needing the expensive ASIC that characterizes G-Sync. You'll still need a DP1.2a cable, monitor, and video card (DP1.2a monitors are expected to ship year end). Unlike G-Sync, a DP1.2a monitor shouldn't cost any additional money, however. The updated ASICs being developed by various vendors will bake the capability in by default."

The Truth About OpenGL Driver Quality

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the when-standards-aren't dept.

Graphics 158

rcht148 (2872453) writes "Rich Geldreich (game/graphics programmer) has made a blog post on the quality of different OpenGL Drivers. Using anonymous titles (Vendor A: Nvidia; Vendor B: AMD; Vendor C: Intel), he plots the landscape of game development using OpenGL. Vendor A, jovially known as 'Graphics Mafia' concentrates heavily on performance but won't share its specifications, thus blocking any open source driver implementations as much as possible. Vendor B has the most flaky drivers. They have good technical know-how on OpenGL but due to an extremely small team (money woes), they have shoddy drivers. Vendor C is extremely rich. It had not taken graphics seriously until a few years ago. They support open source specifications/drivers wholeheartedly but it will be few years before their drivers come to par with market standards. He concludes that using OpenGL is extremely difficult and without the blessings of these vendors, it's nearly impossible to ship a major gaming title."

EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the your-fun-is-no-longer-profitable dept.

The Internet 329

Last month Gamespy announced it would be shutting down at the end of May. Many game makers relied upon Gamespy for all of the multiplayer and online services related to their games, and there was a scramble to transition those games away from Gamespy. Now, Electronic Arts has decided it's not worth the trouble for older titles. They're terminating online support for a huge number of games. The game list includes: Battlefield 2, Crysis 1 & 2, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, and Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2. EA said, "As games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level - typically fewer than 1 per cent of all peak online players across all EA titles - where it's no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these games up and running."

Nintendo Apologizes For Not Allowing Same-Sex Relationships In Life Sim Game

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the standards-change dept.

Japan 384

An anonymous reader writes "Nintendo has been taking heat recently for their decision not to allow same sex relationships in Tomodachi Life, an upcoming life simulation game for the 3DS. An advocacy group for LGBT issues said, 'In purposefully limiting players' relationship options, Nintendo is not only sending a hurtful message to many of its fans and consumers by excluding them, but also setting itself way behind the times.' The group also pointed out that The Sims allowed such choices over a decade ago. Nintendo originally replied that the game was not intended to be social commentary, and pointed out that the U.S. release of Tomodachi Life is just a localization of the Japanese version (gay marriage is not legal in Japan). Now Nintendo has officially apologized for 'failing to include same-sex relationships' in the game, and they promised to build a more inclusive experience if they make a sequel."

How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the optimizing-for-the-wrong-thing dept.

Cellphones 115

An anonymous reader writes "Mobile gaming is crystallizing around one concept: games must be free-to-play. As an industry, it seems to work — there's no shortage of players willing to drop money on microtransactions and in-app purchases. But for making compelling or unusual games, this is a problem. 'Pitch a title that isn't games-as-a-service to publishers or investors and they'll practically install new doors to slam in your face. ... Free-to-play advocates naturally think their model is dominant because "that's what mobile gamers want," explaining that in-app purchases are just the players way of saying they care. If they've entertained the more dull notion that free-to-play is popular because... well, it's free? They seem not to let on. ... Recent data shows 20 percent of mobile games get opened once and never again. 66 percent have never played beyond the first 24 hours and indeed most purchases happen in the first week of play. Amazingly only around two to three percent of gamers pay anything at all for games, and even more hair-raising is the fact that 50 percent of all revenue comes from just 0.2 percent of players. This is a statistically insignificant amount of happy gamers and nothing that gives you a basis to make claims about "what people want."'"

The Next Unreal Tournament: Totally Free, Developed By Public

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the cool-model dept.

Open Source 122

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Epic Games is rebooting Unreal Tournament, but not in a typical way. A small team of veteran developers will begin work on the next edition of the popular, multi-player shooter, in collaboration with pretty much anyone who wants to participate. "From the very first line of code, the very first art created and design decision made, development will happen in the open, as a collaboration between Epic, UT fans and UE4 developers. We'll be using forums for discussion, and Twitch streams for regular updates," reads a note on the company's blog. All code and content will appear on GitHub, and development will focus on Mac, Linux, and Windows. What's the catch? According to Epic, it'll take months to forge a playable game. "When the game is playable, it will be free. Not free to play, just free," the blog adds. "We'll eventually create a marketplace where developers, modders, artists and gamers can give away, buy and sell mods and content. Earnings from the marketplace will be split between the mod/content developer, and Epic. That's how we plan to pay for the game.""

Wretched Ride: PS4 Driveclub Game Rental Tied To Paid Subscription

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the utility-company's-involved-too dept.

Sony 93

MojoKid (1002251) writes "The upcoming PS4 game Driveclub is making waves for reasons that have nothing to do with its gameplay or development status. In a new video, the company has spelled out its free trial and upgrade policies, and the requirements are a doozy. First, the good news — PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to download a demo of the game that contains a few maps and one trial area, India. If you choose to upgrade that version, the full title will cost you $50. Here's the catch — that purchase is tied to your Playstation Plus subscription. In other words, if you stop paying Sony the official $49.95 a year for PlayStation Plus, you lose your $50 game. This is completely at odds with how PlayStation Plus membership is supposed to work. It contradicts Sony's official FAQ, which states that: 'Any content you purchase with a Plus discount is yours to keep, regardless of you membership status.'"

Crytek Open-Sources Their 'Renderdoc' 3D Debugger

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the more-tools-more-power dept.

Graphics 20

An anonymous reader writes "Game studios now seem to be forming a habit out of opening up their debugger / development utilities. After Valve's notable VOGL debugger, Crytek has now decided to open source their Renderdoc debugger. Renderdoc had been available for free use since earlier in the year but now they have posted an MIT-licensed version of the code to GitHub. Renderdoc builds on both Windows and Linux but for now just targets the Direct3D 11 graphics API while OpenGL support is being expected later."

What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the it-was-the-age-that-gave-us-star-control-2 dept.

Classic Games (Games) 92

jonyami writes: "Indie games have existed for as long as there's been something to play and something to play it on. From the humble Apple II to modern PCs, Xbox Live Arcade and the Kickstarter revolution, just what was the greatest age for indie games? A new article takes a look at the various eras, the top indie games and the future — which one do you reckon is on top?"

EVE Online's Space Economy Currently Worth $18 Million

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the where-can-i-go-to-invest-in-imaginary-spaceships dept.

Sci-Fi 88

DavidGilbert99 writes: "According to Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, the lead economist of CCP Games, developer of EVE Online, the total amount of ISK (InterStellar Kredits) in the system at the moment is 600 trillion, which equates to about $18 million in real world money — and the economist believes we could learn a lot from how the economy works in the game. There was a massive battle within the game earlier this year, which CCP estimated destroyed between $300,000 and $330,000 worth of game materials. Guðmundsson said, 'In economics there is a big difference between consumption and loss. In EVE, the war is the consumption of the economy. Even though they are giving money away they are not losing value, they are gaining something instead. People were willing to spend that money [in the Battle of B-R5RB] to get this thrill of participating in this battle.'"

Microsoft Doesn't Have Plans For a Dedicated Handheld Gaming Device

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the mobile-kinect-will-never-be-a-thing dept.

Microsoft 84

DroidJason1 writes: "Rumors have persisted for a while now that Microsoft is working on a dedicated handheld gaming device to go against the Sony PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS. The head of Xbox has now responded to a question about it from an eager gamer on Twitter who asked whether there were any plans for a 'handheld Xbox-One-like gaming device.' The answer is no. Microsoft is focused on Windows Phone, tablets, and perhaps both with controller support someday."

Valve Sponsors Work To Greatly Speed-Up Linux OpenGL Game Load Times

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the small-steps-add-up dept.

Graphics 202

An anonymous reader writes "Valve Software has sponsored some interesting improvements developed by LunarG for the Mesa OpenGL library on Linux for deferred and threaded GLSL shader compilation. What these changes mean for users of the open-source Linux graphics drivers when running their favorite games is that OpenGL games now load a lot faster. As an example, the time from starting Dota 2 until the time actually being within the game is reduced by about 20 seconds on an Intel system. While Direct3D has offered similar functionality for a while, OpenGL has not, which has given it a bad reputation with regard to game load times until all shaders are compiled and cached — fortunately it's now addressed for OpenGL if using the Mesa Linux graphics drivers on a supported game."

Winning Algorithms For Rock, Paper, Scissors

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the win-bets-with-children dept.

AI 65

Celarent Darii (1561999) writes "The probability of winning at Rock-Paper-Scissors is about 1 in 3. However, people do not play entirely randomly, a study has revealed. People tend to follow hidden patterns that can be used to win more games. A short article on the BBC gives hints on the strategies to be used to get a competitive advantage with your Rock-Scissors-Paper nemesis." Remember, these strategies are for use against people, not robots.

Report: Comcast and EA To Stream Games To TVs

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the glad-that-network-congestion-cleared-up-for-you-comcast dept.

Television 52

An anonymous reader writes "Reuters is reporting that Electronic Arts and Comcast are working on a partnership that would stream video games to consumer televisions through Comcast's cable boxes. It will start with the FIFA and Madden sports game franchises. 'Comcast and EA's aim is to make buying games as easy as ordering a pay-per-view movie, sources said. This could create a new distribution model that circumvents console and video-streaming device makers.' The report says consumers will also be able to use tablets as controllers for the games."

Washington Files First Consumer Protection Lawsuit Over Kickstarter Fraud

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the reckoning-comes-due dept.

The Courts 47

An anonymous reader writes "In 2012, a card game called Asylum was successfully funded on Kickstarter. Two months later, its expected delivery date came and passed without a product. In July 2013, the company behind the game stopped communicating with backers. Now, the Washington state Attorney General has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the makers. This is the first time a project from a crowdfunding site has been the target of such a lawsuit. The AG said, 'Consumers need to be aware that crowdfunding is not without risk. This lawsuit sends a clear message to people seeking the public's money: Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft. The Attorney General's Office will hold those accountable who don't play by the rules.' Here's the legal document (PDF)."

Zenimax Accuses John Carmack of Stealing VR Tech

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the you-missed-the-boat,-get-over-it dept.

Games 148

John Carmack made waves last year when he left id Software, owned by Zenimax, to join Oculus VR in order to help create its virtual reality headset. Now Zenimax has sent documents to Oculus's legal department claiming Carmack "stole" technology from them when he left. They said, "The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax's legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval." Carmack says, "No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR." Oculus was also dismissive: "It's unfortunate, but when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims."

High-School Star League Brings Gaming As Sport to Teenagers

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the buncha-jocks dept.

Games 87

An anonymous reader points to this "This is an interesting interview with the creators of the High School Star League, an organization dedicated to furthering eSports as a viable hobby and even a career for children and young adults. The HSL has been active in the U.S. for a while but is now making a headway into Europe, where it's finding Counter-Strike is proving much more popular than RTS and MOBA games. There are a significant number of girls getting involved as well — as many as seven percent of competitors. It's a start, right?"

The Million-Dollar Business of Video Game Cheating

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the why-those-birds-are-so-angry dept.

PC Games (Games) 102

An anonymous reader writes "If you play games online against other people, chances are you've come up against somebody who's obviously cheating. Wall hacks, aimbots, map hacks, item dupes — you name it, and there will always be a small (but annoying) segment of the gaming population who does it. Many of these cheating methods are bought and sold online, and PCGamer has done some investigative reporting to show us rule-abiding types how it all works. A single cheat-selling website manages to pull in $300,000 a year, and it's one of many. The people running the site aren't worried about their business drying up, either — game developers quickly catch 'rage cheaters,' and players cheating to be seen, but they have a much harder time detecting the 'closet cheaters' who hide it well. Countermeasures like PunkBuster and VAC are sidestepped quickly and easily."

Virtual Reality: Purpose Beyond Gaming

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the advertisers-will-invade-soon dept.

Displays 72

An anonymous reader writes "Virtual reality tech is getting a ton of attention for what it can do to video games. But the technology itself isn't limited to games — just as Kinect was hijacked and used for myriad other purposes, so will VR be broadly adapted. This article goes into some of the applications: 'An elderly woman in a retirement home recently used an Oculus to explore a garden and walk stairs again. This simple environment brought her to tears. Work is also being done to help PTSD sufferers deal with their trauma by replicating the scene within virtual reality and there is great interest in using a similar approach for other conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer's and dementia. ... It's now possible for museum spaces and schools to teleport students to specific moments in history, to allow them to experience being executed by a guillotine, take tours of space or even explore the depths of the ocean.' What other VR uses can you foresee?"

Mini Gaming PCs — Promising, But Not Ready

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the call-me-when-it-fits-inside-a-chromecast dept.

AMD 83

An anonymous reader writes "Ars has reviewed an AMD-powered mini gaming rig made by Gigabyte. The box itself is small and solid, and it runs a pretty beefy video card for its size. The manufacturer even claims Linux support, though the device ships with Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, reality lags a bit behind their plans — Ubuntu boots OK, but driver support is a mess. SteamOS won't run at all. The box is also limited by a mediocre CPU, which is itself limited by heat and power constraints. The review says the machine was 'intriguing and frustrating in equal measure' because 'its ambition is rarely matched by its execution.' It concludes: 'With some time and some different components, a little desktop that can deliver a great gaming experience will surely follow.'"

E.T. Found In New Mexico Landfill

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the nuke-it-from-orbit dept.

Classic Games (Games) 179

skipkent sends this news from Kotaku: "One of the most infamous urban legends in video games has turned out to be true. Digging in Alamogordo, New Mexico today, excavators discovered cartridges for the critically-panned Atari game E.T., buried in a landfill way back in 1983 after Atari couldn't figure out what else to do with their unsold copies. For decades, legend had it that Atari put millions of E.T. cartridges in the ground, though some skeptics have wondered whether such an extraordinary event actually happened. Last year, Alamogordo officials finally approved an excavation of the infamous landfill, and plans kicked into motion two weeks ago, with Microsoft partnering up with a documentary team to dig into the dirt and film the results. Today, it's official. They've found E.T.'s home—though it's unclear whether there are really millions or even thousands of copies down there."

Why Should Game Stories Make Sense?

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the thank-you-mario-but-our-princess-is-just-not-that-into-you dept.

Games 169

An anonymous reader writes "An opinion piece at Polygon raises an interesting question about how we perceive video games: why does so much effort go into having the plot make perfect sense? Think about games you've played that have a story. How much do you actually remember? You can probably name the protagonist and antagonist, but do you really know what they were fighting about? The article says, [Developer Jake Elliot] talked about the difference between a puzzle and a mystery. He argued that a puzzle has a solution, while a mystery may never be solved. A puzzle must make sense, but a mystery may well not. In the context of a game, the mechanics are the puzzle, while the theme is the mystery. The game play must be predictable, or the player will never master it. But the theme can be evocative and open-ended. A theme evokes the horrors of war; the mechanics remind you to reload your gun. The plot is stuck in the middle. It wants to make sense of a game, but the game play is already doing that. If we were watching a movie, the plot would provide the backbone, but games don't work like movies, and the plot can get in the way. It can feel awkward and unwelcome, while a looser thematic layer can be the most memorable part of the game.'"

Mobile Game Attempts To Diagnose Alzheimer's

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the unforgettable-research dept.

Medicine 21

the_newsbeagle writes "Currently, the best way to check if a person has a high likelihood of developing Alzheimer's is to perform a PET scan to measure the amount of amyloid plaque in his or her brain. That's an expensive procedure. But a startup called Akili Interactive says it has developed a mobile game that can identify likely Alzheimer's patients just by their gameplay and game results. The game is based on a neuroscience study which showed that multitasking is one of the first brain functions to take a hit in Alzheimer's patients. Therefore the game requires players to perform two tasks at the same time."

The Witcher 3 and Projekt Red's DRM-Free Stand

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the do-you-swear-to-give-the-whole-game-and-nothing-but-the-game dept.

Piracy 115

An anonymous reader writes "This article goes into the making of upcoming fantasy title The Witcher 3. The studio, CD Projekt Red, reveals that, unusually, it'll be releasing the game as a DRM-free download. 'We believe that DRM does more harm to legit gamers than good for the gaming industry, that's why the game will also be completely DRM-free,' says the game's level designer, Miles Tost. The game will build on the strengths of The Witcher 2 while attempting to broaden its scope. 'We want to combine the strong pull of closed-world RPGs story-wise, with a world where you can go anywhere and do anything you want.'"

'The Door Problem' of Game Design

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the making-adoorable-games dept.

Games 305

An anonymous reader writes "Game design is one of those jobs everybody thinks they can do. After all, they've played a few games, and they know what they liked and disliked, right? How hard could it be? Well, professional game designer Liz England has summed up the difficulty of the job and the breadth of knowledge needed to do it in what she calls 'the door problem.' Quoting: 'Premise: You are making a game. Are there doors in your game? Can the player open them? Can the player open every door in the game? What tells a player a door is locked and will open, as opposed to a door that they will never open? What happens if there are two players? Does it only lock after both players pass through the door? What if the level is REALLY BIG and can't all exist at the same time?' This is just a few of the questions that need answering. She then goes through how other employees in the company respond to the issue, often complicating it. 'Network Programmer: "Do all the players need to see the door open at the same time?" Release Engineer: "You need to get your doors in by 3pm if you want them on the disk." Producer: "Do we need to give everyone those doors or can we save them for a pre-order bonus?"'"

BioWare Announces Dragon Age Inquisition For October 7th

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the nobody-expects-the-dragonish-inquisition dept.

Role Playing (Games) 79

An anonymous reader writes "Today BioWare announced a new game in its popular Dragon Age RPG series titled Inquisition. The game will follow the story of an Inquisitor trying to rally the world against the magic-laden forces spewing from rifts opening to another place. The game's creative director, Mike Laidlaw, says players will be able to watch the world descend into chaos, and then deal with the burdens of power as they rally forces in opposition. BioWare is also taking the opportunity to fix all of the things they broke in Dragon Age 2: 'Top-down tactical view is back. Playable races are back. The game seems to have more of an emphasis on challenge thanks to non-regenerative health.' The game will launch on October 7th for the PC, PS3/4, and Xbox 360/One."

Apple, Google Vying For Mobile Game Exclusivity

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the mine-all-mine dept.

Google 52

An anonymous reader writes "Here's an interesting look at the battle for mobile video game money between Google and Apple. 'Last August, for the launch of "Plants Vs. Zombies 2," a highly anticipated sequel to a popular zombie-survival strategy game, publisher Electronic Arts Inc. struck a deal with Apple, which promoted the game prominently in its App Store, according to people familiar with the matter. In exchange, one of these people said, EA agreed to give Apple about a two-month window of exclusivity for the title, which wasn't released on Google's Android software until October.'"

Steam's Most Popular Games

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the goat-simulator-falls-just-short dept.

PC Games (Games) 118

An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Ars Technica scraped a ton of gameplay data from Steam's player profiles to provide statistics on how many people own each game, and how often it's played. For example: 37% of the ~781 million games owned by Steam users have never been played. Dota 2 has been played by almost 26 million people for a total of 3.8 billion hours. Players of CoD: Modern Warfare 2 spend six times as long in multiplayer as in single-player. This sampling gives much more precise data than we usually have about game sales rates. 'If there's one big takeaway from looking at the entirety of our Steam sales and player data, it's that a few huge ultra-hits are driving the majority of Steam usage. The vast majority of titles form a "long tail" of relative crumbs. Out of about 2,750 titles we've tracked using our sampling method, the top 110 sellers represent about half of the individual games registered to Steam accounts. That's about four percent of the distinct titles, each of which has sold 1.38 million copies or more. This represents about 50 percent of the registered sales on the service. ... about half of the estimated 18.5 billion man-hours that have been spent across all Steam games have gone toward just the six most popular titles.'"

Your StarCraft II Potential Peaked At Age 24

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the but-you're-getting-better-at-producing-lots-of-vespene-gas dept.

Games 103

An anonymous reader writes "StarCraft II is popular among competitive gamers for having the depth necessary to reward differences in skill. A new study has found that your ability keep up with the game's frantic pace starts to decline at age 24. This is relevant to more than just StarCraft II players: 'While many high-performance athletes start to show age-related declines at a young age, those are often attributed to physical as opposed to brain aging. ... While previous lab tests have shown faster reaction times for simple individual tasks, it was never clear how much relevance those had to complex, real-world tasks such as driving. Thompson noted that Starcraft is complex and quite similar to real-life tasks such as managing 911 calls at an emergency dispatch centre, so the findings may be directly relevant. However, game performance was much easier to analyze than many real-life situations because the game generates detailed logs of every move. In a way, Thompson said, the study is a good demonstration of what kinds of insights can be gleaned from the "cool data sets" generated by our digital lives.'"

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