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  • Early Reviews of Destiny: Unfulfilled Potential

    Destiny is a first-person shooter set in a persistent, online world. It was released on Tuesday by Bungie, the development studio behind Halo, and billed as a blending of console shooters and progression-based MMOs. Reviews for the game are finally trickling out, and most publications say it's merely average. (Though it's worth noting that the social and multiplayer portions of the game are difficult to evaluate in such a short timeframe, and like many MMOs, Destiny will continue to see active development.) Polygon's Arthur Gies reports, "Destiny doesn't look real, but rather, it looks like painted concept art, meticulously assembled and presented to you at all times. Instead, it's the suggestion, through Destiny's concept, its soundtrack and its visual presentation, that Destiny is big. That there's a whole universe out there to explore, a reality worth discovering. There isn't, though."

    Jeff Gerstmann at Giant Bomb had a similar reaction: "There are cool little flashes of brilliance in Destiny, but a lot of it feels like a game designed by people who weren't sure what sort of game they were designing. Is it a loot shooter? Sort of, but the loot isn't very good. Is it an MMO? No, but you'll occasionally encounter other players out in the field. A story-driven shooter like the Halo franchise? Sure, if you don't mind digging through the developer's website to find those little bits of lore." The Escapist's Jim Sterling concludes, "Destiny exists in the shadow of multiple games, taking a little from each, and doing nothing truly remarkable with any of it. It's a prime example of how the nebulous concept of 'content' can be used to puff up a game without adding anything to it."

    83 comments | yesterday

  • Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

    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.

    207 comments | 2 days ago

  • Report: Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Studio For $2bn+

    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."

    367 comments | 5 days ago

  • John Romero On Reinventing the Shooter

    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."

    264 comments | 5 days ago

  • GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD

    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.

    314 comments | about a week ago

  • DMCA Claim Over GPL Non-Compliance Shuts Off Minecraft Plug-Ins

    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.

    354 comments | about a week ago

  • Carmack On Mobile VR Development

    An anonymous reader writes: After surprising everyone by demonstrating Samsung's new VR headset at IFA yesterday, John Carmack spoke with Gamasutra about the difficulties of developing virtual reality in a mobile environment. He also had some interesting comments on developing for Android: 'Okay, there's the normal hell of moving to a new platform — and I gotta say, Android was more hell to move to than most consoles I've adopted. Just because of the way Google has to position things across a diverse hardware spectrum, and because Google still doesn't really endorse native code development — they'd still rather everyone worked in Java. And that's a defensible position, but it's certainly not what you want to be doing on a resource-constrained VR system. So brace yourself: Android setup and development really does suck. It's no fun at all.' He also had insights on building compute-intensive software — if you go to full speed on all CPU and GPU cores, you can expect overheating and thermal throttling in less than a minute.

    60 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Combating Recent, Ugly Incidents of Misogyny In Gamer Culture

    ideonexus writes: 2490 gamers, developers and journalists have signed an open letter supporting inclusiveness in the gaming community after indie game developer Zoe Quinn received backlash and harassment when her ex-boyfriend posted false accusations that she traded sex for favorable reviews of her game and feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian was driven from her home after receiving death and rape threats for her videos illustrating the way some mainstream games encourage the commoditization of and violence against women. The harassment has prompted geek-dating advice columnist Harris O'Malley to declare the backlash the "Extinction Burst of Gaming Culture," the last reactionary gasp before the culture shifts to become more inclusive.

    1132 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Japanese Firm Showcases "Touchable" 3-D Technology

    skade88 notes an interesting new piece of tactile feedback technology unveiled in Japan. Officials of Miraisens, a high-tech firm based outside Tokyo, said the technology, which can be used to improve the gaming experience or allow someone to physically shape objects that exist only on a computer, will soon be available for purchase. "Touching is an important part of human communication, but until now virtual reality has lacked it," Chief Executive Natsuo Koda said. "This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3-D world," said Koda, a former virtual reality researcher for Sony Corp. It works by fooling the brain, blending what the eye sees with different patterns of vibration created by a small fingertip device, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of so-called 3D-Haptics Technology and chief technical officer at the firm. In one demonstration of a prototype head-mounted display, the company showed how the wearer can feel resistance by pushing virtual buttons.

    41 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon's Plan To Storm the Cable Industry's Castle

    Randy Davis sends analysis of Amazon's acquisition of Twitch.tv, a move that indicates higher ambitions than simply another avenue for putting products in front of consumers. The Daily Herald think this is a sign Amazon is bulking up for a fight with cable companies, strengthening is bargaining position for getting (and maintaining) access to subscribers. "There are very few places in the U.S. where these four giant carriers allow independent networks carrying traffic from the data centers run by Amazon (and future Twitch.tv successors) to put that data on the carriers' controlled networks."

    A related article at the NY Times argues Amazon is "betting on content," not wanting to fall behind the surge of new media productions from companies like Netflix. "There is a huge land grab for nontraditional models of programming. DreamWorks Animation bought AwesomenessTV, a popular YouTube channel, last year, and in March, Disney snatched up Maker Studios, a video supplier for YouTube, while Peter Chernin, formerly president of News Corporation, has invested in Crunchyroll, a streaming hub of anime. All of these deals are about content, but they are also a hedge, a way of exploring other production protocols that don’t involve prominent stars, agents and expensive producers." A different piece at The Motley Fool takes the acquisition as confirmation Amazon is developing its own ad network.

    85 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Changing the Rules of a 15-Year-Old Game: Quake Live Update Causes Controversy

    An anonymous reader writes: As id Software aims for a larger, more mainstream audience for its free-to-play shooter Quake Live (based on 1998's Quake III Arena) on Steam, big changes are afoot. A new update was pushed out last week which adds some new, more beginner-friendly features to the game. These include weapon loadouts, which grant players a weapon of their choice when they spawn, timer icons, which indicate when the all-important powerup items will spawn, and an automatic bunny-hop to gain extra speed. The changes have been met with hostility from longtime players who prefer the "purist" rules of old and the duel format. As the writer points out, however, if the update helps attract more elite players to the gamer, it could breathe new life into a very old game.

    170 comments | about two weeks ago

  • RAYA: Real-time Audio Engine Simulation In Quake

    New submitter bziolko writes: RAYA is a realtime game audio engine that utilizes beamtracing to provide user with realistic audio auralization. All audio effects are computed based on the actual geometry of a given game level (video) as well as its acoustic properties (acoustic materials, air attenuation). The sound changes dynamically along with movement of the game character and sound sources, so the listener can feel as if they were right there — in the game.

    89 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Dell's New Alienware Case Goes to Extremes To Prevent Overheating

    MojoKid writes Dell's enthusiast Alienware brand has always stood out for its unique, other-worldly looks (sometimes good, sometimes, not so good) and there's such a thing as taking things to the next level, this might be it. However, there's more to this refresh than just shock value. It's actually a futuristic aesthetic with a rather purposeful design behind it. Today Alienware gave a sneak peek at their completely redesigned Alienware Area 51 desktop system. This refreshed system is unlike any previous Alienware rig you've seen. With a trapezoidal shape to its chassis, Dell-Alienware says you can place the Area-51 against a wall and not have to worry about thermals getting out of the control. That's because there's a controlled gap and a sharp angle to the chassis that ensures only a small part of the system actually rests near the wall, leaving extra room for hot air to escape up and away. This design also offers users easy access to rear IO ports. Despite the unique design, there's plenty of room for high end components inside. The retooled chassis can swallow up to three 300W double-wide full-length graphics cards. It also brings to the table Intel's latest and greatest Haswell-E in six-core or eight-core options, liquid cooled and nestled into Intel's X99 chipset. No word from Dell on the price but the new Area-51 is slated to start shipping in October.

    149 comments | about two weeks ago

  • This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning

    Jason Koebler writes: Peter Richie spent eight months planning and building a megacity in vanilla SimCity 4, and the end result is mind-boggling: 107.7 million people living in one massive, sprawling region (video). "Traffic is a nightmare, both above ground and under," Richie said. "The massive amount of subway lines and subway stations are still congested during all times of the day in all neighborhoods of each and every mega-city in the region. The roadways are clogged at all times, but people still persist in trying to use them."

    103 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

    angry tapir writes The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a government funded watchdog organization, is taking Valve to court. The court action relates to Valve's Steam distribution service. According to ACCC allegations, Valve misled Australian consumers about their rights under Australian law by saying that customers were not entitled to refunds for games under any circumstances.

    139 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?

    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?

    382 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Anita Sarkeesian, Creator of "Tropes vs. Women," Driven From Home By Trolls

    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.

    1262 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Old Doesn't Have To Mean Ugly: Squeezing Better Graphics From Classic Consoles

    MojoKid writes If you're a classic gamer, you've probably had the unhappy experience of firing up a beloved older title you haven't played in a decade or two, squinting at the screen, and thinking: "Wow. I didn't realize it looked this bad." The reasons why games can wind up looking dramatically worse than you remember isn't just the influence of rose-colored glasses — everything from subtle differences in third-party hardware to poor ports to bad integrated TV upscalers can ruin the experience. One solution is an expensive upscaling unit called the Framemeister but while its cost may make you blanch, this sucker delivers. Unfortunately, taking full advantage of a Framemeister also may mean modding your console for RGB output. That's the second part of the upscaler equation. Most every old-school console could technically use RGB, which has one cable for the Red, Green, and Blue signals, but many of them weren't wired for it externally unless you used a rare SCART cable (SCART was more common in other parts of the world). Modding kits or consoles cost money, but if you're willing to pay it, you can experience classic games with much better fidelity.

    167 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Predictive Modeling To Increase Responsivity of Streamed Games

    jones_supa (887896) writes Streaming game services always bump up against a hard latency limit based on the total round-trip time it takes to send user input to a remote server and receive a frame of game data from that server. To alleviate the situation, Microsoft Research has been developing a system called DeLorean (whitepaper) using predictive modeling to improve the experienced responsiveness of a game. By analyzing previous inputs in a Markov chain, DeLorean tries to predict the most likely choices for the user's next input and then generates speculative frames that fit those inputs and sends them back to the user. The caveat is that sending those extra predictive frames and information does add a bandwidth overhead of anywhere from 1.5 to 4 times that of a normal streaming game client. During testing the benefits were apparent, though. Even when the actual round-trip time between input and server response was 256 ms, double-blind testers reported both the gameplay responsiveness and graphical quality of the DeLorean system were comparable to a locally played version of the game.

    120 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"?

    Nerval's Lobster writes Given its extreme difficulty, it's tempting to think that the new Swing Copters is Dong Nguyen's attempt at a joke (You thought 'Flappy Bird' was hard? Check this out!), or maybe even a meta-comment on the emerging "masocore" gaming category. Or maybe he just wanted to make another game, and the idea of an ultra-difficult one appealed. Whatever the case, Nguyen can rely on the enduring popularity of Flappy Bird to propel Swing Copters to the top of the Google and iOS charts. But his games' popularity illuminates a rough issue for developers of popular (or even just semi-popular) apps everywhere: how do you deal with all the copycats flooding the world's app stores? Although Google and Apple boast that their respective app stores feature hundreds of thousands of apps, sometimes it seems as if most of those apps are crude imitations of other apps. The perpetual fear among app developers is that they'll score a modest hit—only to see their years of hard work undermined by someone who cobbles together a clone in a matter of weeks or days. If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.

    113 comments | about three weeks ago

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