Games

How and Why the U-Pick Game Marathon Raises Money With Non-Stop Gaming (Video) 33

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tase-me-bro-it's-only-a-game dept.
On June 12 through 14th of this year, the fourth (not "fourth annual," but close) iteration of the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity --“UPickVG IV” for short --will be streaming on an Internet connection near you. The U-Pick crew's volunteers will be playing and broadcasting video games, non-stop, as a fundraiser for Charity Water, a cause they've supported since the beginning. I talked with organizers Stephanie and Grant Kibler from their video-game lounge of a living room about what it takes to broadcast an online gathering like this, and why they've adopted this as an annual event. Hint: some esoteric video-capture hardware helps, and so does a beefy network connection, for high-quality streaming of games that pre-date today's multiplayer, network-oriented options. That's significant, because U-Pick's stable of titles isn't limited to modern ones, and observers are encouraged to suggest appropriate games (hence "U-Pick").The remote viewers' choices and donations influence the event by deciding which games are represented on the Wheel of Destiny that the team spins to decide which games get played.The play itself, though,*is* limited to the players who'll be on hand at a Northern Virginia co-working space that will serve as this year's venue. It turns out to be easier to stream the output of old consoles than it is to control them from remote (never mind the latency that would mean), but maybe one day participants will be able to play as well as shoulder-surf and laugh at the players' running commentary. You can check out the Upick page on Facebook, too, and watch one of their practice runs each Sunday. (Note: Video #1 talks mostly about the game play and how you can join. Video #2 - below - talks more about hardware and behind-the-scenes work.)
Medicine

Surgeon Swears Human Head Transplant Isn't a 'Metal Gear Solid' Publicity Stunt 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the life-imitates-viral-marketing dept.
Jason Koebler writes: Dr. Sergio Canavero wants to become the first surgeon to perform a human head transplant. But some discerning gamers noticed that a doctor shown in the trailer for Metal Gear Solid V looks almost exactly like Canavero, leading some to speculate that it's all a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming game. Canavero, however, filed a sworn affidavit with Italian police in which he said Konami illegally stole his likeness, and that he has nothing to do with the game.
Networking

The Logistics of an eSports Tournament 48

Posted by timothy
from the who-ordered-450-large-pepperoni-pizzas? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Wargaming's hugely popular World of Tanks game sees its biggest tournament of the year, The Grand Finals, taking place this weekend. In an interview published today, the developer's eSports director, Mohamed Fadl, reveals just what goes into preparing a tournament for both thousands of spectators at the venue, and millions more streaming online.

"The infrastructure behind such an event is the most challenging task," he reveals. "Ten highly qualified IT managers, 28 on-air casters and around 50 additional TV staff will be doing their best...A TV level production setup, 170 computers, a total of 1.3GB/s bandwidth and 16 cameras plus 14 player cameras." And all for just 12 teams playing one strategy game.
Intel

New PCIe SSDs Load Games, Apps As Fast As Old SATA Drives 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-don't-need-a-race-car-if-you're-just-driving-to-work dept.
crookedvulture writes Slashdot has covered a bunch of new PCI Express SSDs over the past month, and for good reason. The latest crop offers much higher sequential and random I/O rates than predecessors based on old-school Serial ATA interfaces. They're also compatible with new protocols, like NVM Express, which reduce overhead and improve scaling under demanding loads. As one might expect, these new PCIe drives destroy the competition in targeted benchmarks, hitting top speeds several times faster than even the best SATA SSDs can muster. The thing is, PCIe SSDs don't load games or common application data any faster than current incumbents—or even consumer-grade SSDs from five years ago. That's very different from the initial transition from mechanical to solid-state storage, where load times improved noticeably for just about everything. Servers and workstations can no doubt take advantage of the extra oomph that PCIe SSDs provide, but desktop users may struggle to find scenarios where PCIe SSDs offer palpable performance improvements over even budget-oriented SATA drives.
AI

Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa 58

Posted by timothy
from the call-back-when-it-can-make-a-good-egg-cream dept.
An anonymous reader writes A computer engine has beaten humans at Arimaa, an abstract strategy game, in the official human–computer challenge of the year. Sharp, as the bot is called, had to beat each of three strong human players in a best 2-out-3 contest and managed to sweep the first two rounds, thereby already guaranteeing victory. Its developer David Wu will receive a $12,000 prize, contingent on him submitting a paper describing the program to the International Computer Games Association.
Spam

Whoah, Small Spender! Steam Sets Limits For Users Who Spend Less Than $5 229

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-committed-or-just-involved dept.
As GameSpot reports, Valve has implemented a policy that reduces the privileges of Steam users unless those users have spent $5 through the service. Along the same lines as suggestions to limit spam by imposing a small fee on emails, the move is intended to reduce resource abuse as a business model. From the article: "Malicious users often operate in the community on accounts which have not spent any money, reducing the individual risk of performing the actions they do," Valve said. "One of the best pieces of information we can compare between regular users and malicious users are their spending habits as typically the accounts being used have no investment in their longevity. Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam." Restricted actions include sending invites, opening group chats, and taking part in the Steam marketplace.
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Battlefront Game Trailer Is So Realistic It Looks Like Movie Footage 150

Posted by timothy
from the cgi-is-cheaper-than-actors dept.
MojoKid writes It has been a tremendous week for Star Wars fans. First we got to see Han Solo and Chewbacca make an emotional reappearance in the newest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer (the second official trailer Disney has put out). Now, Electronic Arts is treating us to a visual smorgasbord of cinema-quality footage showing the forthcoming Star Wars Battlefront game. Battlefront will support to up 40 players divided between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire, all shooting it out and playing with some of the coolest Star Wars vehicles and weapons around. We're talking jetpacks, AT-AT war machines, AT-STs, TIE Fighters, X-wings, and more. Though the trailer allegedly shows actually "game engine footage," it's questionable whether or not it's actual gameplay or just pre-rendered cut scenes from the game engine. Either way, it's still pretty impressive.
Security

Exploit For Crashing Minecraft Servers Made Public 118

Posted by timothy
from the hey-fellas-door's-unlocked dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After nearly two years of waiting for Mojang to fix a security vulnerability that can be used to crash Minecraft servers, programmer Ammar Askar has released a proof of concept exploit for the flaw in the hopes that this will force them to do something about it. "Mojang is no longer a small indie company making a little indie game, their software is used by thousands of servers, hundreds of thousands people play on servers running their software at any given time. They have a responsibility to fix and properly work out problems like this," he noted." Here is Askar's own post on the exploit, and his frustration with the response he's gotten to disclosing it to the developers.
Australia

2K, Australia's Last AAA Studio, Closes Its Doors 169

Posted by timothy
from the even-with-all-that-regulation dept.
beaverdownunder writes 2K Australia, the Canberra studio that most recently developed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is closing its doors. The entire studio is closing, and all staff members will lose their jobs. "All hands are gone," said a source for Kotaku Australia. 2K Canberra was the last major AAA-style studio operating out of Australia. The costs of operating in Australia are apparently to blame for the decision. This raises questions as to the viability of developing major video games in Australia.
Movies

Jack Thompson Will Be Featured In BBC Film 'Grand Theft Auto' 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-legacy-buddy dept.
New submitter requerdanos writes: Former attorney and professional troll Jack Thompson is set to become a major motion picture figure, played by Bill Paxton, in the upcoming film Grand Theft Auto. According to Cinema Blend, "Paxton is in line to play Jack Thompson. A Miami lawyer, Thompson came into the public eye by frequently blasting Grand Theft Auto, creator Rockstar Games, and video game violence in general. Before that, he was known for attacking media companies who promoted both hip hop and sex. In 2008, allegations of professional misconduct, including harassment, defamation, intimidation, and false statements led to Thompson being disbarred."
Businesses

How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-actually-about-duke-nukem-forever dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there's an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game's development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What's the lesson in all this? It's one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.
Games

A Data-Driven Exploration of the Evolution of Chess 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-the-horse-do-again? dept.
HughPickens.com writes Randy Olsen has a interesting article where he explores a data set of over 650,000 chess tournament games ranging back to the 15th century and looks at how chess has changed over time. His findings include:

Chess games are getting longer. Chess games have been getting steadily longer since 1970, increasing from 75 ply (37 moves) per game in 1970 to a whopping 85 ply (42 moves) per game in 2014. "This trend could possibly be telling us that defensive play is becoming more common in chess nowaday," writes Olsen. "Even the world's current best chess player, Magnus Carlsen, was forced to adopt a more defensive play style (instead of his traditional aggressive style) to compete with the world's elite."

The first-move advantage has always existed. White consistently wins 56% and Black only 44% of the games every year between 1850 and 2014 and the first-move advantage becomes more pronounced the more skilled the chess players are. "Despite 150+ years of revolutions and refinement of chess, the first-move advantage has effectively remained untouched. The only way around it is to make sure that competitors play an even number of games as White and Black."

Draws are much more common nowadays. Only 1 in 10 games ended in a draw in 1850, whereas 1 in 3 games ended in a draw in 2013. "Since the early 20th century, chess experts have feared that the over-analysis of chess will lead "draw death," where experts will become so skilled at chess that it will be impossible to decisively win a game any more." Interestingly chess prodigy and world champion Jose Raul Capablanca said in the 1920's that he believed chess would be exhausted in the near future and that games between masters would always end in draws. Capablanca proposed a more complex variant of chess to help prevent "draw death," but it never really seemed to catch on.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

ESA Rebukes EFF's Request To Exempt Abandoned Games From Some DMCA Rules 153

Posted by timothy
from the locked-up-forever-in-their-castle dept.
eldavojohn writes It's 2015 and the EFF is still submitting requests to alter or exempt certain applications of the draconian DMCA. One such request concerns abandoned games that utilized or required online servers for matchmaking or play (PDF warning) and the attempts taken to archive those games. A given example is Madden '09, which had its servers shut down a mere one and a half years after release. Another is Gamespy and the EA & Nintendo titles that were not migrated to other servers. I'm sure everyone can come up with a once cherished game that required online play that is now abandoned and lost to the ages. While the EFF is asking for exemptions for museums and archivists, the ESA appears to take the stance that it's hacking and all hacking is bad. In prior comments (PDF warning), the ESA has called reverse engineering a proprietary game protocol "a classic wolf in sheep's clothing" as if allowing this evil hacking will loose Sodom & Gomorrah upon the industry. Fellow gamers, these years now that feel like the golden age of online gaming will be the dark ages of games as historians of the future try to recreate what online play was like now for many titles.
Piracy

Ask Slashdot: How Serious Is Hacking In Mobile Games? 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-the-high-score dept.
Origen writes: As a developer contemplating trying out the mobile game scene, a GDC session about hacking/tampering looked interesting — but I wasn't able to attend. The presentation isn't available online, but it was paired with a whitepaper [contact details required], which can be downloaded. I'm surprised by some of the information presented and the potential for damage/mischief. Not so much that these issues are unheard of — they've existed for years on other platforms. What I find surprising is the lack of support at the OS level on mobile devices to defend from many of these types of hacks. Have we learned nothing from the pains of the past? How significant are the points about hacking/piracy in the mobile space that are discussed by this whitepaper?
Crime

Watching a "Swatting" Slowly Unfold 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-gory-detail dept.
netbuzz writes That online gamers have been victimized has unfortunately allowed us to see what "swatting" looks like from the perspective of the target: terrifying and potentially deadly. A similar type of criminally unnecessary SWAT scene played out Saturday night when a caller to police in Hopkinton, Mass., claimed to be holed up in the town's closed public library with two hostages and a bomb. The library stands within eyesight of the starting line for the Boston Marathon. An editor for Network World, there by happenstance, watched for two hours, and, while it was a hoax and no one was hurt, his account highlights the disruption and wastefulness these crimes inflict.
Input Devices

Kinect For Windows Is Dead; Long Live Kinect For Windows Via USB 45

Posted by timothy
from the sir-this-teapot-may-not-be-able-to-weather-the-tempest dept.
puddingebola writes Microsoft has announced it will no longer manufacture Kinect for Windows. Only the Xbox One version will be available for purchase. Microsoft said it could not meet demand for the device, a strange claim for a company to make. The console version, though, will still work with Windows by way of a USB adapter, and as pointed out by this similar story at Gamespot, for about the same total price.
Java

BioWare Announces Open-Source Orbit Project 61

Posted by timothy
from the just-add-stuff dept.
An anonymous reader writes BioWare, part of EA Games, have announced Orbit, their first open-source project. Orbit is a Java based framework for building distributed online services including a virtual actors system (based on Microsoft's Orleans project) and a lightweight inversion of control container. The announcement says, in part, Beginning today, we will be making Orbit open source on GitHub under a BSD license. We have been leveraging open source technology internally for quite some time, and we think the time is now right for us to give back and engage with the community in a more meaningful way. The last-generation of Orbit powered some of the key technology behind the Dragon Age Keep and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Our plans for the next-generation framework are even more ambitious.
Graphics

Valve Bootstrapped Source 2 Engine On an Open-Source Vulkan Driver 60

Posted by timothy
from the live-quicker-prosper-more dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new article out details how Valve bootstrapped their VULKAN back-end with the Source 2 Engine over a period of just four months thanks to relying on an open-source driver. With designing for the open-source Intel Vulkan Linux driver developed by LunarG, Valve developers were quickly able to resolve issues and progress the driver in a turn-key manner. This Intel Linux driver will be released as open-source once the Khronos VULKAN specification has been published.
Emulation (Games)

Building an NES Emulator 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the thank-you-mario,-but-that-register-is-in-another-castle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Programmer Michael Fogleman recently built his own emulator for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. He's now put up a post sharing many technical insights he learned along the way. For example: "The NES used the MOS 6502 (at 1.79 MHz) as its CPU. The 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor that was designed in 1975. ... The 6502 had no multiply or divide instructions. And, of course, no floating point. There was a BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) mode but this was disabled in the NES version of the chip—possibly due to patent concerns. The 6502 had a 256-byte stack with no overflow detection. The 6502 had 151 opcodes (of a possible 256). The remaining 105 values are illegal / undocumented opcodes. Many of them crash the processor. But some of them perform possibly useful results by coincidence. As such, many of these have been given names based on what they do." It's an interesting look at how software and hardware interacted back then, and what it takes to emulate that in modern times. Fogleman released the source code on GitHub.