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Operating Systems

The State of Linux Gaming In the SteamOS Era 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the penguins-learning-to-rocket-jump dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's been over a year since Valve announced its Linux-based SteamOS, the biggest push yet from a huge company to bring mainstream gaming to Linux. In this article, Ars Technica takes a look at how their efforts are panning out. Game developers say making Linux ports has gotten dramatically easier: "There are great games shipping for Linux from development teams with no Linux expertise. They hit the 'export to Linux' button in the Unity editor and shipped it and it worked out alright. We didn't get flying cars, but the future is turning out OK so far."

Hardware drivers are still a problem, getting in the way of potential performance gains due to Linux's overall smaller resource footprint than Windows. And while the platform is growing, it's doing so slowly. Major publishers are still hesitant to devote time to Linux, and Valve is taking their time building for it. Their Steam Machine hardware is still in development, and some of their key features are being adopted by other gaming giants, like Microsoft. Still, Valve is sticking with it, and that's huge. It gives developers faith that they can work on supporting Linux without fear that the industry will re-fragment before their game is done.
AI

Artificial Intelligence Bests Humans At Classic Arcade Games 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the king-of-combat! dept.
sciencehabit writes The dream of an artificially intelligent computer that can study a problem and gain expertise all on its own is now reality. A system debuted today by a team of Google researchers is not clever enough to perform surgery or drive a car safely, but it did master several dozen classic arcade games, including Space Invaders and Breakout. In many cases, it surpassed the best human players without ever observing how they play.
Games

18 Months On, Grand Theft Auto V's Mount Chiliad Mystery Remains Unsolved 143

Posted by timothy
from the your-sense-of-profundity-may-vary dept.
An anonymous reader writes One of GTA V's juiciest easter eggs is one that gamers have still yet to crack: the symbols on San Andreas' huge mountain that seem to suggest a jetpack is buried somewhere within it. As the game's PC launch — and presumable final uncovering as modders raid the game's code — nears, a new article looks at the lengths conspiracy theorists have gone in a bid to locate it, waiting entire in-game lunar cycles at points of interest on the map, trying to complete the game without killing anybody and even attempting to trigger earthquakes in Los Santos. Will it all have been for nothing?
Displays

Valve To Reveal Virtual Reality Dev Kit Next Week At GDC 46

Posted by timothy
from the they-want-your-eyeballs dept.
An anonymous reader writes Gaming giant Valve has been researching augmented and virtual reality for some time. Early on, the company worked closely with Oculus, sharing research findings and even adding support for TF2 to Oculus' first VR headset, the DK1, back in 2013. After demonstrating their own prototype VR headset at Steam Dev Days in early 2014, and then a modified version later in the year, Valve is now ready to take the wraps off a 'previously unannounced ... SteamVR Dev Kit,' which will make its debut at GDC next week. SteamVR is the name of the software adaptation of Steam's 'Big Picture' mode that the company revealed early last year, allowing players to browse their Steam library and play supported games all in virtual reality.
Businesses

Is Sega the Next Atari? 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the once-false-step dept.
donniebaseball23 writes As CEO of Sega of America in the early 1990s, Tom Kalinske oversaw the company during its glory days, when all eyes in the industry were glued to the titanic struggle for console superiority between the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Times have changed, to put it mildly, and Sega is now a shell of its former self. Where did things go wrong? According to Kalinske, Sega's downfall was failing to partner with Sony on a new platform, and the bad decisions kept piling on from there. Sega's exit from hardware "could have been avoided if they had made the right decisions going back literally 20 years ago. But they seem to have made the wrong decisions for 20 years."
Games

"Exploding Kittens" Blows Up Kickstarter Records 104

Posted by timothy
from the someone's-gotta-be-in-the-lead dept.
The Register reports that the crowdfunded Exploding Kittens card game from Oatmeal (and Tesla museum fund-raiser) Matthew Inman, along with X-box veterans Elan Lee and Shane Small, has become the highest-grossing game project yet on Kickstarter. After an intensive fundraising campaign, the trio collected $8.78m from 219,382 backers to launch the game. This breaks the record for the largest ever Kickstarter game project, previously held by hackable Android gaming console Ouya. According to the blurb on Exploding Kittens' (now closed) Kickstarter page, players "take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game."
Sony

Why Sony Should Ditch Everything But the PlayStation 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the quit-your-day-job dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, we were surprised by news that Sony was spinning off its game development studio. More recently, the company has been thinking about exiting both the mobile phone market and the TV market. An opinion piece suggests Sony shouldn't stop there, focusing more on the its PlayStation division and a few other areas — and giving up on the rest. "Continuing to concentrate on phones and other products actually makes the PlayStation experience worse for most people. Take the PS4's ability to stream games to mobile devices — a killer feature needlessly limited to the PS Vita and Sony's Xperia Android line. Why can't I play Destiny on my iPad when the TV's occupied? The iOS PlayStation app, meanwhile, is a confusing mess that hasn't even been updated for the iPhone 6. These sound like minor points, but imagine what Sony could do if everyone at the company were focused on making its most important product as good as possible. As Microsoft is learning with its recent iOS and Android experiments, you have to serve the customers where they already are."
Microsoft

Will Every Xbox Be a Dev Kit? 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-it-out dept.
jfruh writes There were a lot of rumored features of the Xbox One that vanished after public outcry — that it would need an always-on Internet connection, for instance. But another rumor from that era was that every Xbox One sold would include a dev kit that would allow anyone to create games — and it looks like this is one dream that might be coming true soon.
Classic Games (Games)

When Chess Players Blunder 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the knight-to-sand-trap-6 dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Joe Doliner has done a statistical analysis of mistakes in rated chess games. He used a chess engine called Crafty, which is capable of not only finding mistakes, but quantifying how bad they are. After crunching all the matches on chessgames.com in 2014, which amounted to almost 5 million moves, Crafry found only 67,175 blunders that were equivalent to a 2-pawn deficit or worse. With a pair of graphs, Doliner shows how mistakes decrease as player rating increases, as you'd expect. According to the trendline, gaining 600 rating points roughly halves the number of mistakes a player makes. He made the data and tools available in a public repository for others to dig into.
Input Devices

Mountain Biking In Virtual Reality With the Oculus Rift and an Actuating Bike 71

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-in-your-head dept.
An anonymous reader writes Thanks to the Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset and Activetainment B\01 VR bike, which pitches forward and back according to in-game terrain, has shifting, pedals, breaks, digital resistance control, and allows tilting into turns, users of the system feel like they're careening through a mountain biker's paradise. After working up a sweat in the simulator, the author of this article ruminates on whether or not his experience could be considered "real"; "Much of the feedback of actual mountain biking was present during my ride. Sure, the feedback could be more accurate, and there's still missing sensory information, like the wind through my hair and a certain set of forces on my body, but at what point is a virtual experience real enough to be well, real?"
Businesses

Layoffs Begin At Daybreak Games 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-road dept.
jjohn24680 writes There are several sources who are reporting layoffs at Daybreak Games (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) today. Notable layoffs include Linda "Brasse" Carlson (former Global Community Relations Lead) and Dave Georgeson (former Director of Development / Franchise Director for Everquest, EverQuest II, and EverQuest Next / Landmark). This post from Daybreak Games has some additional information as well.
The Media

Are Review Scores Pointless? 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-if-you-love-arguing dept.
donniebaseball23 writes: With Eurogamer being the latest popular video games site to ditch review scores, some are discussing just how valuable assigning a score to a game actually is these days. It really depends on whom you ask. "I've always disliked the notion of scores on something as abstract and subjective as games," says Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail. From the press side, though, former GameSpot editor Justin Calvert still believes in scores. "I've been basing my own game-purchasing decision on reviews ever since I picked up the first issue of Zzap! 64 magazine in the UK almost 30 years ago," he says, while admitting that YouTube is certainly changing the landscape today: "There's something very appealing about watching a game being played and knowing that the footage hasn't been edited in a way that might misrepresent the experience."
DRM

DMCA Exemption Campaign Would Let Fans Run Abandoned Games 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-break-what-people-pay-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Games that rely on remote servers became the norm many years ago, and as those games age, it's becoming more and more common for the publisher to shut them down when they're no longer popular. This is a huge problem for the remaining fans of the games, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act forbids the kind of hacks and DRM circumvention required for the players to host their own servers. Fortunately, the EFF and law student Kendra Albert are on the case. They've asked the Copyright Office for an exemption in the case of players who want to keep abandoned games alive. It's another important step in efforts to whittle away at overreaching copyright laws.
AI

The Uncanny Valley of Voice Recognition 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the siri-do-these-pants-make-me-look-fat? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've often seen the term "uncanny valley" applied to the field of robotics — it's easy to get unsettled when robots act close to being human, yet fail completely in a few key ways. GitHub Engineer Zach Holman writes that we've now reached uncanny valley territory in speech recognition as well, though the results are more frustrating than they are disturbing. He says, "Part of this frustration is the user interface itself is less standardized than the desktop or mobile device UI you're used to. Even the basic terminology can feel pretty inconsistent if you're jumping back and forth between platforms.

Siri aims to be completely conversational: Do you think the freshman Congressman from California's Twelfth deserved to sit on HUAC, and how did that impact his future relationship with J. Edgar? Xbox One is basically an oral command line interface, of the form: Xbox (direct object). ...it's these inconsistencies that are frustrating as you jump back and forth between devices. And we're only going to scale this up."
Classic Games (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Automated Tool To OCR CCGs Like Magic: the Gathering? 96

Posted by timothy
from the very-specific-requirements dept.
An anonymous reader writes I buy massive collections of trading card games, Magic:The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, Weiss Schwarts, Cardfight Vanguard, etc, etc. And I've gotten the process fairly streamlined as far as price checking, grading, sorting, etc. Part of my process involves using higher-quality web cams positioned over the top of the cards which are in a stack. I keep a cam window on the screen to show a larger, brighter version of the card. What I'm wondering: Is there is an OCR solution out there that will look at the same spot on the screen, capture, ocr, dump to clipboard, etc.? I've tried several open source solutions but none of them quite fit my needs. What I'd really like is to be able to hit a hotkey, and have my clipboard populated with the textual data of the graphics in a pre-set x,y window range. All this should be done via a hotkey. I may be asking for a lot, but then again, I'm sure someone out there has had need of this type of set-up before. Anyone have any recommendations?
Books

Book Review: Core HTML5 2D Game Programming 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
eldavojohn writes Core HTML5 2D Game Programming details a journey through creating Snail Bait in well defined steps. This simple two dimensional platform game works as a great starting point for anyone interested in making their very first game targeting many desktop and mobile platforms. This incremental process is expertly segmented into logical lessons with the only prerequisite being fluency in JavaScript. One of the most attractive aspects of this book is that the core concepts of this book don't rely on some flavor of the week JavaScript library or framework. Read below for the rest of eldavojohn's review.
Sony

Sony Sells Off Sony Online Entertainment 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the circle-of-business dept.
donniebaseball23 writes Sony Online Entertainment is to become Daybreak Game Company and turn its focus to multi-platform gaming. The company has been acquired by Columbus Nova and is now an indie studio. "We will continue to focus on delivering exceptional games to players around the world, as well as bringing our portfolio to new platforms, fully embracing the multi-platform world in which we all live," said Daybreak president John Smedley. But why did Sony shed SOE? Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter believes an online gaming company "isn't a great fit, particularly as games are shifting increasingly to a free-to-play mobile model."
Open Source

Computer Chess Created In 487 Bytes, Breaks 32-Year-Old Record 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-small-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The record for smallest computer implementation of chess on any platform was held by 1K ZX Chess, which saw a release back in 1983 for the Sinclair ZX81. It uses just 672 bytes of memory, and includes most chess rules as well as a computer component to play against. The 32-year-old record has been beaten this week by the demoscene group Red Sector Inc. They have implemented a fully-playable version of chess called BootChess in just 487 bytes (readme file including source code).
Games

Inside the Largest Virtual Psychology Lab In the World 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the encouraging-gamers-to-not-mention-your-mom dept.
bearhuntz writes: Riot Games has been using League of Legends as a psychology lab to run scientific experiments and reduce toxic player behavior for a while now. This article explains some of the experiments they're doing, and what the results have been. "For example, one product is a restricted chat mode that limits the number of messages abusive players can type per match. It’s a temporary punishment that has led to a noticeable improvement in player behavior afterward —on average, individuals who went through a period of restricted chat saw 20 percent fewer abuse reports filed by other players. The restricted chat approach also proved 4 percent more effective at improving player behavior than the usual punishment method of temporarily banning toxic players. Even the smallest improvements in player behavior can make a huge difference in an online game that attracts 67 million players every month."
Games

Game Hack-A-Thon Attracts Teams At 500+ Sites Worldwide 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the press-start-to-continue dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: Video game enthusiasts around the world participated in the Global Game Jam this past weekend. The event is a worldwide 48-hour hack-a-thon dedicated to inspiring creativity and building a working game from scratch in one weekend. Sponsored by companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Facebook, it's the largest event of its kind.

All games entered for GGJ are released under a Creative Commons share, alter, no sell license. You can browse through the games and download their source files on the official website, and a couple of publications did quick hands-on playthroughs.

"Although the club is focused on game development, not everyone participating was a computer programmer. Artists and graphic designers were present to help create characters and models for the games. The goal of Global Game Jam is to a stir up a global creative buzz in games while at the same time exploring the process of development."