An anonymous reader writes: Multiplayer modes used to be an extra part of most games — an optional addition that the developers could build (or not) as they saw fit. These days, it's different: many games are marketed under the illusion of being single-player, when their focus has shifted to an almost mandatory multiplayer mode. (Think always-online DRM, and games as services.) It's not that this is necessarily bad for gameplay — it's that design patterns are shifting, and if you don't like multiplayer, you're going to have a harder time finding games you do like.
The article's author uses a couple recent major titles as backdrop for the discussion: "With both Diablo III and Destiny, I'm not sure where and how to attribute my enjoyment. Yes, the mechanics of both are sound, but given the resounding emptiness felt when played solo, perhaps the co-op element is compensating. I'd go so far as to argue games can be less mechanically compelling, so long as the multiplayer element is engaging. The thrill of barking orders at friends can, in a way, cover design flaws. I hem and haw on the quality of each game's mechanics because the co-op aspect literally distracted me from engaging with them to some degree."
jawtheshark writes The rumors were true. Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, is being sold to Microsoft. Of course, the promise is to keep all products supported as they are. From the article: "Microsoft said it has agreed to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish video game company behind the hit Minecraft game, boosting its mobile efforts and cementing control of another hit title for its Xbox console. Minecraft, which has notched about 50 million copies sold, will be purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion, the company said in a statement. The move marks the tech giant's most ambitious video game purchase and the largest acquisition for Satya Nadella, its new chief executive. Minecraft is more than a great game franchise - it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft,' Nadella said in a statement."
An anonymous reader writes with this piece about Digital Knights, the studio behind the Kickstarter campaign project Sienna Storm, which was cancelled this week after the team raised only 10% of their $180,000 target, despite a compelling concept (a card based espionage game) and a reputable team including the writer of the original Deus Ex, Sheldon Pacotti.
The team is now seeking alternative funding before reaching out to publishers, but in an interview given this week, Knights CEO Sergei Filipov highlights what he sees as a recent and growing problem with crowdfunding games: an expectation to see a working prototype. "It seems at least 50 or 60 percent of the game needs to be completed before one launches a campaign on Kickstarter," he says. It's a chicken and egg cycle some indie developers will struggle to break out of, and shows just how far we've come since Tim Schafer's Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter burst the doors open two years ago.
dotarray (1747900) writes "A surprising story has emerged today that suggests Microsoft is looking to buy Minecraft developer Mojang. The reported price tag is "more than US$2 billion."
The original report is at the WSJ (possibly behind a paywall). Quoting: "For Microsoft, "Minecraft" could reinvigorate the company's 13-year-old Xbox videogame business by giving it a cult hit with a legion of young fans. Mojang has sold more than 50 million copies of "Minecraft" since it was initially released in 2009 and earned more than $100 million in profits last year from the game and merchandise. "Minecraft" is already available on the Xbox, as well as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation, PCs and smartphones."
An anonymous reader writes: John Romero helped bring us Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein, but he's also known for Daikatana — an immensely-hyped followup that flopped hard. After remaining on the periphery of game development since then, Romero announced last month that he's coming back to the FPS genre with a new game in development. Today, he spoke with Develop Magazine about his thoughts on the future of shooters. Many players worry that the genre is stagnant, but Romero disagrees that this has to be the case. "Shooters have so many places to go, but people just copy the same thing over and over because they're afraid to try something new. We've barely scratched the surface."
He also thinks the technology underpinning games matters less than ever. Romero says high poly counts and new shaders are a distraction from what's important: good game design. "Look at Minecraft – it's unbelievable that it was made by one person, right? And it shows there's plenty of room for something that will innovate and change the whole industry. If some brilliant designers take the lessons of Minecraft, take the idea of creation and playing with an environment, and try to work out what the next version of that is, and then if other people start refining that, it'll take Minecraft to an area where it will become a real genre, the creation game genre."
An anonymous reader writes Through a Google Summer of Code project this year was work to emulate systemd on OpenBSD. Upstream systemd remains uninterested in supporting non-Linux platforms so a student developer has taken to implementing the APIs of important systemd components so that they translate into native systemd calls. The work achieved this summer was developing replacements for the systemd-hostnamed, systemd-localed, systemd-timedated, and systemd-logind utilities. The hope is to allow for systemd-dependent components like more recent versions of GNOME to now run on OpenBSD.
New submitter Maxo-Texas writes One of the primary programmers, Wesley Wolfe (Wolvereness), who contributed over 23,000 lines of code to the Bukkit project (which enhances Minecraft server performance and allows others to write mods and plugins) submitted a DMCA request September 5th, preventing use of his code in the popular Bukkit or Spigot (and numerous other Minecraft plugins, mods, and other open source enhancements that depend on them). This has the effect of freezing all further development for multi-player server Minecraft based on these add-ons until the issue is resolved.
The programmer says that Mojang must release the Minecraft server code to the public domain since decompiled, deobfuscated versions of the Java code are included in the Bukkit project before he will withdraw the DMCA. Mojang has never released the real source code and has stated they will not open source the server code to meet the GPL and LGPL licensing requirements. This approach might be a risk for other GPL and LGPL projects out there which are derivative of or enhance non GPL programs or products. Mojang COO Vu Bui writes in a post at the Bukkit forums The official Minecraft Server software that we have made available is not included in CraftBukkit. Therefore there is no obligation for us to provide the original code or any source code to the Minecraft Server, nor any obligation to authorize its use. Our refusal to make available or authorize the use of the original / source code of the Minecraft Server software cannot therefore be considered to give rise to an infringement of any copyright of Wesley, nor any other person. Wesley’s allegations are therefore wholly unfounded.
SternisheFan writes: I am not a "gamer," per se. I grew up on "old school" arcade/Atari-type games. My question is: What are the very best games to own? Let's assume platform is irrelevant — any console, any computer, any operating system, any mobile device. I'd just like to know what you think are the most indispensable games to have in your collection.
Let's expand this to include board games and other tabletop games as well. What games do you make sure to always have on hand for get-togethers?
Sonny Yatsen writes: Anita Sarkeesian, the creator of Tropes vs. Women — a video series exploring negative tropes and misogynistic depictions of women in video games — reports that she has been driven from her home after a series of extremely violent sexual threats made against her. Her videos have previously drawn criticism from many male gamers, often coupled with violent imagery or threats of violence. The Verge story linked has this to say: The threats against Sarkeesian have become a nasty backdrop to her entire project — and her life. If the trolls making them hoped for attention, they've gotten it. They've also inexorably linked criticism of her work, valid or not, with semi-delusional vigilantism, and arguably propelled Tropes vs. Women to its current level of visibility. If a major plank of your platform is that misogyny is a lie propagated by Sarkeesian and other "social justice warriors," it might help to not constantly prove it wrong.
MojoKid writes: The Entertainment Software Association has just released its 2014 report on the state of the video game industry (PDF), and as the title of this post suggests, there have been some significant shifts since the last report. Let's tackle the most interesting one first: Females have become the dominant gamer, claiming 52% of the pie. That's impressive, but perhaps more so is the fact that women over the age of 18 represent 36% of the game-playing population, whereas boys aged 18 and under claim a mere 17%. Statistics like these challenge the definition of "gamer." Some might say that it's a stretch to call someone who only plays mobile games a "gamer" (Candy Crush anyone?). Mental hurdle aside, the reality is that anyone who plays games, regardless of the platform, is a gamer.
New submitter GammaKitsune writes: "The Player's Handbook for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, formerly known as "D&D Next," released today to major bookstores and online retailers across the U.S. The Player's Handbook, which contains core rules for gameplay and character creation, is one of thee core rulebooks that developer Wizards of the Coast plans to release in 2014. The Monster Manual is scheduled to release in late September, and the Dungeon Master's Guide will release in mid November. Also out today is the first of two adventure modules in which players team up to battle against the dragon goddess Tiamat.
Fifth edition has a lot to prove following the highly-controversial fourth edition, the rise of competing roleplaying game Pathfinder, and two years of public playtesting. Initial reviews posted on Amazon appear overwhelmingly positive at the time of writing, but more skeptical gamers may wish to take a look at the free "Basic Rules" posted on the official D&D website. The basic rules contain all the bare essentials needed to create a character or run your own adventure, and will serve both as a free introduction for new players and as a holdover for long time players until the remaining two rulebooks are released.
Z00L00K sends this excerpt from The Local:
A Swedish father has come under fire for taking his two sons on a trip to Israel, the West Bank and occupied Syria in order to teach them the reality of war. [Carl-Magnus Helgegren is] a journalist, university teacher, and proactive dad. And like so many other dads, Helgegren had to have the violent video-game conversation with his two sons, Frank and Leo, aged ten and 11 respectively. "We were sitting at the dinner table last autumn, and my kids started telling me about this game they wanted to play, the latest Call of Duty game, and told me about the guns and missions," Helgegren told The Local on Friday. So Helgegren struck a deal. The family would take a trip to a city impacted by real war. The boys would meet people affected, do interviews, and visit a refugee camp. And when they came back home, they would be free to play whatever games they chose.
redletterdave (2493036) writes Nintendo posted its third loss in four quarters on Wednesday. Even though Mario Kart 8, its big first-party game released in May, shipped more than 2.82 million copies by the end of June, the Mario-themed racing game was not enough to help Nintendo's struggling Wii U console perform in this particular quarter. The company said it lost $97 million between March and June. Nintendo shipped 510,000 units of the Wii U in the June quarter, bringing the total to 6.68 million consoles sold — it's a big jump from the 160,000 units it sold in the same quarter a year ago and a small improvement over the 310,000 units it sold in the March quarter. Still, the Wii U is still lagging behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and Nintendo must also contend with mobile games available on Apple and Google's app stores, which cost but a fraction of a Nintendo game.
An anonymous reader writes: Brianna Wu, leader of a game development studio, has an article exposing the constant harassment of women in the games industry. She says, "I'm not writing this piece to evoke your sympathy. I'm writing to share with you what prominent, successful women in the industry experience, in their own words." She goes through the individual stories of several women targeted by this vitriol, and tries to figure out why it happens. Quoting: "We live in a society that's sexist in ways it doesn't understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. ... This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it. ... Growing a thicker skin isn't the answer, nor is it a proper response. Listening, and making the industry safer for the existence of visible women is the best, and only, way forward."
First time accepted submitter Dragoness Eclectic writes Early Tuesday, gamers woke up to find out that they couldn't log in to any Sony Online Entertainment games--no Everquest, no Planetside 2, none of them. Oddly, the forums where company reps might have posted some explanation weren't reachable, either. A bit of journalistic investigation by EQ2Wire came across the explanation: SOE forgot to renew the domain registration on SonyOnline.net, the hidden domain that holds all their nameservers. After 7 weeks of non-payment post-expiration, NetworkSolutions reclaimed the domain, sending all access to Sony's games into an internet black hole. Sony has since paid up. SOE's president, John Smedley, has admitted that the expiration notices were being sent to an "unread email" address.
MojoKid writes: Normally, the question of whether a game runs better on the PC or a console is a no-brainer, at least for PC users. Watch Dogs, however, with its problematic and taxing PC play, challenges that concept. And since the gap between consoles and PCs is typically smallest at the beginning of the console generation, HotHardware decided to take the Xbox One out for a head-to-head comparison against the PC with this long-awaited title. What was found may surprise you. Depending on just how much horsepower your PC has, the Xbox One (and possibly the PS4 though that wasn't compared) might be the better option. There's no question that the PC can look better, even before you factor in the mods that have been released to date, but unless you've spent $300 or more on a fairly recent GPU, you're not going to be able to run the game at sufficiently high detail to benefit from the enhanced image quality and resolution. If you have a Radeon HD 7950 / R9 280 or an NVIDIA card with greater than 4GB of RAM or a GeForce GTX 780 / 780 Ti, you can happily observe Watch Dogs make hash out of the Xbox One — but statistically, only a minority of gamers have this sort of high-end hardware.
This comparison should be viewed in light of the recent allegations that the PC version's graphics were deliberately handicapped.
RockDoctor (15477) writes The Guardian is reporting that a Finnish heat of an international gaming competition is being segregated into male and female branches in accordance to international rules. The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) want "eSports" to be recognised as equivalent to physical sports. And that, it seems, requires that competitors be segregated on grounds of sex. Which may be appropriate for pole vaulters, but not necessarily appropriate for ePole vaulters. This leaves the organisers of national heats of eSports in a rather invidious position of having (in this case) a tournament only open to "Finnish male players." Update: 07/03 14:38 GMT by T : As several readers point out in the comments, this policy has been abruptly reversed.