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PC Gaming Alive and Dominant

Soulskill posted 4 days ago | from the from-my-cold,-dead-hands dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on a panel at PAX East which delved into the strength of the PC as a platform for games, and what its future looks like. The outlook is positive: 'Even as major computer OEMs produce numbers showing falling sales, the PC as a platform (and especially a gaming platform) actually shows strong aggregate growth.' The panelists said that while consoles get a lot of the headlines, the PC platform remains the only and/or best option for a lot of developers and gamers. They briefly addressed piracy, as well: 'Piracy, [Matt Higby] said, is an availability and distribution problem. The more games are crowdfunded and digitally delivered and the less a "store" figures into buying games, the less of a problem piracy becomes. [Chris Roberts] was quick to agree, and he noted that the shift to digital distribution also helps the developers make more money — they ostensibly don't have everyone along the way from retailers to publishers to distributors taking their cut from the sale.'"

Indie Game Jam Show Collapses Due To Interference From "Pepsi Consultant"

Unknown Lamer posted about two weeks ago | from the do-the-what-are-you-twelve dept.

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Sockatume (732728) writes "Would you like to see a half-million-dollar TV show in which four teams of indie developers and Youtube personalities compete to create amazing videogames? Tough luck, because GAME_JAM from Maker Studios has spectacularly imploded. Although a lot could go wrong with this kind of show, the blame isn't being levelled at game developer egos or project mismanagement but the heroic efforts of one Matti Leshem, a branding consultant brought in for Pepsi. After imposing Mountain Dew branding rules that even banned coffee from the set, his efforts to build a gender divide amongst the teams culminated in the competitors downing their tools and the production collapsing. Accounts from Adriel Wallick, Zoe Quinn, and Robin Arnott are also available."

Michael Abrash Joins Oculus, Calls Facebook 'Final Piece of the Puzzle'

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

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trawg writes: "Programming legend Michael Abrash has announced that he has joined the Oculus team to work on the Rift VR headset as Chief Scientist, and will be once again working with John Carmack to bring VR to life. His post covers a lot of ground, including the history of his quest for VR, and ends with his explanation of why he thinks the Facebook acquisition is ultimately a good thing — they have the engineering, resources and long-term commitment 'to solve the hard problems of VR.'" Abrash has long maintained a blog about VR tech — it's worth reading if the subject matter interests you.

Anti-Game-Violence Legislator Arrested, Faces Gun Trafficking Charges

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the should-have-stayed-home-and-played-GTA dept.

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Several readers sent word that California State Senator Leland Yee was arrested today. He's accused of conspiring to traffic guns and commit wire fraud, to defraud citizens of honest services, and bribery. The complant (PDF) also names 25 other defendants. Yee is known for pushing legislation that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors. "Federal prosecutors also allege Yee agreed to perform official acts in exchange for the money, including one instance in which he introduced a businessman to state legislators who had significant influence over pending medical marijuana legislation. In exchange, the businessman -- who was actually an undercover FBI agent -- agreed to donate thousands to Yee's campaign fund, according to the indictment. The indictment also describes an August 2013 exchange in which [former school board president Keith Jackson] told an undercover officer that Yee had an arms trafficking contact. Jackson allegedly said Yee could facilitate a meeting for a donation."

Minecraft Creator Halts Plans For Oculus Version Following Facebook Acquisition

Unknown Lamer posted about three weeks ago | from the rash-decisions dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "Not one hour after the announcement of the the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook yesterday, Markus 'Notch' Persson has announced that he has ceased all discussions about bringing it to Oculus Rift. 'I don't want to work with social, I want to work with games. ... Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.' Persson has stated that he made this decision despite initially investing $10,000 in Oculus' Kickstarter."

Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the what-on-earth dept.

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Several readers sent word that Facebook will acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion. Mark Zuckerberg says the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is the beginning of something big: "This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures." The obvious question is: why Facebook would buy a company focused on VR gaming? The Oculus team says, "But when you consider it more carefully, we're culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step. ... It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on the manufacturing and work capital side, allows us to publish more made-for-VR content, and lets us focus on what we do best: solving hard engineering challenges and delivering the future of VR." Put more simply: money and connections.

Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "A central theme for several talks at this week's Game Developers Conference has been how to deal with the abuse generated by a small segment of gamers. BioWare's Manveer Heir says he wants the industry to stop being scared of challenging the most outspoken and vituperative members of the gaming community. His GDC talk focused on 'misogyny, sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia and other types of social injustice.' He said, 'We should use the ability of our medium to show players the issues first-hand, or give them a unique understanding of the issues and complexities by crafting game mechanics along with narrative components that result in dynamics of play that create meaning for the player in ways that other media isn't capable of.' Meanwhile, Adam Orth, who became the center of an internet hatestorm last year after an offhand comment about always-online DRM, said game developers should make an effort to encourage their playerbase to behave in a more civilized manner."

Measuring the Xbox One Against PCs With Titanfall

Soulskill posted about 1 month ago | from the now-you're-thinking-with-death-robots dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, Respawn Entertainment launched Titanfall, a futuristic first-person shooter with mechs that has been held up as the poster child for the Xbox One. The Digital Foundry blog took the opportunity to compare how the game plays on the Xbox One to its performance on a well-appointed PC. Naturally, the PC version outperforms, but the compromises are bigger than you'd expect for a newly-released console. For example, it runs at an odd resolution (1408x792), the frame rate 'clearly isn't anywhere near locked' to 60fps, and there's some unavoidable screen tear. Reviews for the game are generally positive — RPS says most of the individual systems in Titanfall are fun, but the forced multiplayer interaction is offputting. Giant Bomb puts it more succinctly: 'Titanfall is a very specific game built for a specific type of person.' Side note: the game has a 48GB install footprint on PCs, owing largely to 35GB of uncompressed audio."

Portal 2 Incompatible With SELinux

timothy posted about a month ago | from the are-you-telling-us-the-whole-truth? dept.

212

jones_supa writes "Valve has recently released Portal 2 on Steam for Linux and opened a GitHub entry to gather all the bugs from the community. When one of the Valve developers closed a bug related to Portal 2 recommending that the users disable a security feature, the Linux community reacted. A crash is caused by the game's interaction with SELinux, the Linux kernel subsystem that deals with access control security policies. Portal 2 uses the third-party Miles Sound System MP3 decoder which, in turn, uses execheap, a feature that is normally disabled by SELinux. Like its name suggests, execheap allows a program to map a part of the memory so that it is both writable and executable. This could be a problem if someone chose to use that particular memory section for buffer overflow attacks; that would eventually permit the hacker to gain access to the system by running code. In the end, Valve developer David W. took responsibility of the problem: 'I apologize for the mis-communication: Some underlying infrastructure our games rely on is incompatible with SELinux. We are hoping to correct this. Of course closing this bug isn't appropriate and I am re-opening it.' This is more of an upstream problem for Valve. It's not something that they can fix directly, and most likely they will have to talk with the Miles developers and try to repair the problem from that direction."

PC Game Prices — Valve Starts the Race To Zero

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the year-of-micro-transactions-on-the-desktop dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "Last week Valve made an interesting but seemingly innocuous announcement: they're giving game developers control of their own pricing on Steam. Nicholas Lovell now claims that this has effectively kicked off a race to zero for PC game pricing. He says what's starting to happen now will mirror what's happened to mobile gaming over the past several years. Quoting: 'Free is the dominant price point on mobile platforms. Why? Because the two main players don't care much about making money from the sale of software, or even In-App Purchases. The AppStore is less than 1% of Apple's revenue. Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world on the strength of making high-margin, well-designed, highly-desirable hardware. ... Google didn't create Android to sell software. It built Android to create an economic moat. ... In the case of both iOS and Android, keeping prices high for software would have been in direct opposition to the core businesses of Apple (hardware) and Google (search-related advertising). The only reason that ebooks are not yet free is that Amazon's core business is retail, not hardware. ... Which brings me to Steam. The Steambox is a competitor to consoles, created by Valve. It is supposed to provide an out-of-the-box PC gaming experience, although it struggles to compete on either price or on marketing with the consoles. It doesn't seem as if Steam is keen to subsidize the costs of the box, not to the level that Microsoft and Sony are. But what if Steam's [unique selling point] was thousands or tens of thousands of games for free?'"

Blizzard To Sell Level 90 WoW Characters For $60

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the kung-fu-panda-pledge-week dept.

253

An anonymous reader writes "After their online store accidentally spilled the beans last week, Blizzard has now confirmed plans to let players pay $60 to boost one of their World of Warcraft characters to level 90, the current cap. At Blizzcon a few months ago, the company unveiled the game's next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, currently in development. When it comes out, they're giving every player a free boost to 90 in order to get to the new content immediately. They say this was the impetus for making it a purchasable option. 'It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service.' Why $60? They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.' Lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas said, '[L]eveling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.'" On one hand, I can appreciate that people who just want to get to endgame content may find it more efficient to spend a few bucks than to put a hundred hours into leveling a new character. On the other hand, I can't help but laugh at the idea that Blizzard will probably get a ton of people paying them to not play their game.

South Park Game Censored On Consoles Outside North America

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the some-people-just-hate-speech dept.

221

RogueyWon writes "South Park has long been vocal in its opposition to media censorship from any source, launching scathing attacks on everything from 'think of the children' moral crusades to the censorship of religious imagery. In a curious twist, therefore, Ubisoft, the publisher of the upcoming video game South Park: The Stick of Truth, has decided to censor certain scenes from the game's Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions from release in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. American versions, as well as the European PC release, so far appear to have escaped the censor's pen."

Sony's Favorite Gadget Is Kinect

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the they're-practically-tiering-up dept.

222

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Gary Marshall writes that.Microsoft's marvelous motion-sensing device is doing really good work for Sony, helping the PS4 outsell the Xbox One in the US and rocketing it to the top of the world's console sales charts. With the Xbox One $100 more expensive than the PlayStation 4, the Kinect is the explanation for the huge difference in price between the rival platforms says Marshall. "That kind of money makes a huge difference, and I wonder: if Microsoft had kept the Kinect as an optional add-on, which we all know it should be, would the Xbox One be much more attractive?" Ben Kuchera describes the peripheral as one of the most hated pieces of equipment in current use. "The system is still new, but every Xbox One owner now has a peripheral that has little reason to exist, aids their gaming in very few real ways and costs them a significant amount of money." The common defense of the Kinect is that developers wouldn't support it unless it was forced on consumers but according to Kuchera pushing a product on the public with the hope that it will be useful once we have it is a cruel inversion of how product adoption should be handled. "The forced pack-in proves something we already knew at the beginning of this generation: Almost no one would want to buy the Kinect separately if they were given the choice," writes Kuchera. "It's time to make the Kinect a peripheral, not a pack-in.""

E-Sports Gender Gap: 90+% Male

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the why-competitions-always-have-that-smell dept.

320

An anonymous reader writes "An e-sports production company has published the results of a survey into the demographics of the gamers who attend competition events. Even though nearly half of the gaming population is composed of women, they account for less than 10% of the players in competitions. The e-sports company, WellPlayed, said, '[A] whopping 90-94% of the viewers were male, and interestingly enough, only about half of the remaining survey takers felt comfortable being identified as female.' The results were taken from survey responses over the past year at competitions for StarCraft 2 and League of Legends. DailyDot makes the point that competitive gaming communities also tend not to be racially diverse. Quoting: 'Although no studies have been done about race in esports, it only takes one trip to a Major League Gaming event to confirm what Cannon says. With the notably racially diverse exception of the fighting-game community, Asians and white Americans make up an enormous portion of esports players and fans. Black and Middle Eastern esports fans are conspicuously missing.'"

Ask Slashdot: What Games Are You Playing?

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the pong-2:-the-revenge dept.

669

An anonymous reader writes "We haven't had this discussion in a while: what games are Slashdotters playing these days? We've recently seen the latest generation of consoles arrive on the scene. Almost exactly a year ago, Valve brought Steam to Linux, and they've been pushing for stronger Linux adoption among game publishers ever since. Mobile gaming continues to rise (for better or worse), MMOs are still sprouting like weeds, and Kickstarted indie games are becoming commonplace. For those of you who play games, what ones have struck your fancy recently? What older games do you keep coming back to? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to?"

Gabe Newell Responds: Yes, We're Looking For Cheaters Via DNS

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the but-maybe-you-were-just-visiting dept.

511

dotarray writes "Valve has stepped up to answer allegations that the company's anti-cheat system was scanning users' internet history. Rather than a simple, sanitized press release or a refusal to comment on 'rumours and innuendo,' Valve CEO and gaming hero Gabe Newell has personally responded." Newell or not, not everyone will like the answer. The short version is that Yes, Valve is scanning DNS caches, with a two-tiered approach intended to find cheating users by looking for cheat servers in their histories. Says Newell: "Less than a tenth of one percent of clients triggered this second check, accessing the DNS cache. 570 cheaters are being banned due to DNS searches."

Report: Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) Scans Your DNS History

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the lets-have-a-look dept.

373

dotarray writes "If a recent report is to be believed, Valve is looking at your browsing history. Reportedly, the company's Valve Anti Cheat system (VAC) looks at all the domains you have visited, and if it finds that you've frequented hack sites, you'll be banned. 'The new functionality has been slammed by gamers, who claim it is "more like spyware than anti-cheat". Valve has not responded to the allegations, but all Steam users have agreed to abide by specific online conduct and not to use cheats. The company's privacy policy also explains that Valve may collect "personally identifiable information", but promises not to share it with other parties.'"

'CandySwipe' Crushed: When Game Development Turns Nasty

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the trying-to-take-ransom-for-ransom dept.

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Nerval's Lobster writes "King, the gaming developer behind the monster hit Candy Crush Saga, has attracted a fair amount of criticism over the past few weeks over its attempt to trademark the word 'candy,' which isn't exactly an uncommon term. The company followed up that trademarking attempt by firing off takedown notices at other developers who use 'candy' in the titles of their apps. But things only got emotional in the past few days, when indie developer Albert Ransom published an open letter on his Website that excoriates King for what basically amounts to bullying. Ransom claims that he published CandySwipe in 2010, a full two years before Candy Crush Saga hit the market, and that the two games bear a number of similarities; after opposing King's attempts to register a trademark, Ransom found that his rival had taken things to a whole new level by purchasing the rights to a game called Candy Crusher and using that as leverage to cancel the CandySwipe trademark. Ransom claims he spent three years working on his game, and that King is basically robbing his livelihood. King was not effusive in its response. 'I would direct you to our stance on intellectual property,' a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email to Slashdot, which included a link to a letter posted online by King CEO Riccardo Zacconi. 'At this time, we do not have any comment to add beyond what is outlined in this letter.' Zacconi's various defenses in the letter seem a moot point in the context of CandySwipe, considering how Ransom has already abandoned the prospect of fighting to protect his intellectual property. But the two developers' letters help illustrate how downright nasty the casual-gaming industry has become over the past several quarters, as profits skyrocket and people attempt to capitalize on others' success."

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