SternisheFan sends this news from CTV: "The Cubestormer 3 took 18 months to build but only needed 3.253 seconds to solve [a Rubik's cube], breaking the existing record. Unveiled at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, U.K., the Cubestormer 3 is constructed from the modular children's building-block toy but uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with a special ARM chip addition as its brain. It analyzes the muddled-up Rubik's Cube and powers each of the robot's four 'hands,' which spin the cube until all sides are in order. Created by ARM engineer David Gilday and Securi-Plex security systems engineer Mike Dobson, Cubestormer 3's new record shaves just over two seconds off the existing record, set by Cubestormer 2, which the pair also built."
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MojoKid writes "There's no disputing that Bill Gates is blessed with a brilliant mind. Sure, he dropped out of Harvard College, but he got accepted into the elite institution of higher learning in the first place. Leading into his college career, Gates scored 1,590 out of 1,600 on the SAT. The rest is history — he went on to co-found Microsoft, built a net worth that's in the billions ($76.8 billion at last count), and now spends his time on his philanthropic efforts. Regardless, it took 23-year-old Magnus Carlsen, a "grandmaster" Chess player since the age of 13 and new world Chess champion, just 71 seconds to defeat Gates in a friendly game of Chess on a Norwegian television show. It takes longer to heat up a cup of water in the microwave."
First time accepted submitter jwpeterson writes "Like chess and go, pentago is a two player, deterministic, perfect knowledge, zero sum game: there is no random or hidden state, and the goal of the two players is to make the other player lose (or at least tie). Unlike chess and go, pentago is small enough for a computer to play perfectly: with symmetries removed, there are a mere 3,009,081,623,421,558 (3e15) possible positions. Thus, with the help of several hours on 98304 threads of Edison, a Cray supercomputer at NERSC, pentago is now strongly solved. 'Strongly' means that perfect play is efficiently computable for any position. For example, the first player wins."
SlappingOysters writes "I thought those veteran gamers amongst you might like this one. Quake III Arena by legendary developer id Software isn't available on the App Store, but there is a way that you can get it to work on your iPad all the same. You can also get Open Arena and Quake III Shareware to work on Apple's tablet. The process is reasonably straightforward for anyone who wants to give it a ago, and Grab It Magazine has provided a step-by step guide, with pictures and necessary links, to help the interested through it."
In 1990, a development studio called Toys for Bob created a game called Star Control, a fun little space combat game with a bit of strategy added in. In 1992, they released Star Control 2, a full-blown space adventure RPG, which became one of the seminal works of early PC gaming. (Later open-sourced and released for modern systems.) After that, creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III lost control of the franchise to Accolade, who botched Star Control 3 and eventually abandoned the series. Last July, Stardock, the studio behind Sins of a Solar Empire, acquired the rights, and they're now discussing their plans to resurrect the classic series. They'll be using Star Control 2 as a template and an inspiration for all aspects of the game, though they won't be using any of the IP from Star Control I & II. They've also contacted Ford and Reiche and will try to hold true to their creative intentions. (The two currently run an Activision game studio, so they won't be involved with the new game.) Production will begin this winter.
An anonymous reader writes "Last year, Jordan Mechner, the creator of the Prince of Persia video game franchise, released the long-thought-lost original Apple II source code for Prince of Persia. Today marks the release of version 2.0 of apoplexy, the free and open-source level editor of Prince of Persia for DOS. Roughly 5.5 years after its initial release, support has been added for editing Prince of Persia 2 levels in both GNU/Linux and Windows. The game has its 25th anniversary next year, but the original trilogy only has a (very) small fan community. Will old games such as this also interest future generations or will they gradually lose their appeal because of technological advances?"
An anonymous reader writes "An article at The Verge got me thinking. Parents and those of you who plan to become parents: will you introduce your kids to the games you played when you were younger? Those of us who grew up playing Pong, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man have had a chance to see gaming software evolve into the enormously complex and graphically realistic beast it is today. I've begun to understand why my grandparents tried to get me to watch old movies. I'm also curious how you folks plan to teach your kids about computers and software in general. When teaching them Linux, do you just download the latest stable Mint or Ubuntu release and let them take it from there? Do you track down a 20-year-old version of Slackware and show them how things used to be? I can see how there would be value in that... the UIs we use every day have been abstracted so far away from their roots that we can't always expect new users to intuitively grasp the chain of logic. How do you think this should be handled?"
alancronin writes with a quick bite from the Dallas News about everyone's favorite FPS: "Few video games have had the impact that Doom has on the medium as a whole. While it wasn't the first first-person shooter out there, it was certainly one of the earliest hits of the genre, due in no small part to its revolutionary multiplayer. Today, that game is 20 years old. Made in Mesquite by a bunch of young developers including legends John Carmack and John Romero, Doom went on to 'transform pop culture,' as noted by the sub-title of the book Masters of Doom." Yesterday, but who's counting. Fire up your favorite source port and slay some hellspawn to celebrate (or processes). I'm partial to Doomsday (helps that it's in Debian).
In this video, we continue our conversation with author David Craddock about his investigation into the early days of game studio Blizzard for his new book, Stay Awhile and Listen. He's joined by Dave Brevik and Max Schaefer, two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. They talk about keeping games accessible, the importance of getting the amount of background story right in Diablo, and whether the creators of these early games have any regrets about them. They also talk about designing The Butcher. (This is video part 2 of 2. The transcript of Part 1 is now available, too, if you care to go back and read it.)
If you happen to be one of the other five people who own an Atari Jaguar, you've probably played the excellent Tempest 2000. As chance would have it, a few months ago Llamasoft announced they were approached by Sony to write TxK, based "...on the essence of the original T2K. ... . We're not going to overload you with ultra psychedelia, but we will make it fluid and colourful and awesome-looking ... We're going to give you a perfect treat for your eyes, ears and thumbs with a modern extrapolation of one of the best shooters ever made on hardware that's just perfectly suited for it, and in a way that retains the purity of the original design." A couple of weeks ago, a working version of TxK was demoed at Play Expo. Read below to see the video. It really seems to retain the aesthetic of Tempest 2000 enhanced by modern hardware and a full color range, with a touch of Space Giraffe tactics (you can kill enemies at the rim somehow at least).
Many of today's adult video gamers grew up with a gaming industry that was still trying to figure itself out. In the early-to-mid 1990s, most of the gaming genres we're familiar with today were still indistinct, half-formed concepts waiting for that one game necessary to define them. Thus, many players sat up and took notice when a relatively unknown company named Blizzard managed to exemplify not one, but two separate types of game in quick succession. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans put real-time strategy on the map, and Diablo set the standard for action RPGs. The two games immediately elevated Blizzard to the top of the industry, and many gamers wondered how one studio could put out two games like these so quickly. As it turns out, it wasn't one studio; it was a blending of two very different but extremely creative groups who had a passion for making video games. In Stay Awhile and Listen, author David Craddock lays out the history of the two groups, from how they first got into the gaming business to their eventual success launching now-legendary games. Read on for our review of the book.
barlevg writes "A college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spent nine months meticulously remaking Super Mario Bros. based on the latest web standards. His project is open source and the code freely available through Github. The site recently gained widespread media attention, which unfortunately brought it to the attention of Nintendo, which has requested that the site be taken down. In a column on the Washington Post website, tech blogger Timothy Lee makes the case for how this is a prime example of copyrights hindering innovation and why copyright lengths should be shortened. Among his arguments: copyrights hinder innovation by game designers seeking to build upon such games, and shortening copyright would breathe new life into games who have long since passed into obsolescence."
vivIsel writes "Cyan, the company behind Myst, is taking another shot at an game in that vein — this time in a new game universe, with the Unreal 4 engine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they haven't gotten a lot of traction with traditional game publishers, so they are turning to Kickstarter with a $1.1M total ask. The Kickstarter video also has some neat shots of the Cyan headquarters — which looks a bit like one of the buildings on Myst island itself."
The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus, and their success elevated the status of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North to the point that further games are still hotly anticipated more than 15 years later. In an effort to discover and document that part of gaming history, author David L. Craddock conducted extensive interviews with early Blizzard developers. His intent was to investigate how both of the Blizzard studios succeeded at breaking into a saturated and competitive industry, and how their design process influenced both their acclaimed releases and the projects they discarded along the way. He's writing a series of books about the history of Blizzard, titled Stay Awhile and Listen. The first is due out on October 31st, and David has agreed to answer your questions about his investigation into those early games. David will be joined by Blizzard North co-founders David Brevik and Max Schaefer. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
glowend writes "On 24 September 1993, computer users were introduced to Myst. Grantland takes a look at the game's legacy, two decades on. Quoting: 'Twenty years ago, people talked about Myst the same way they talked about The Sopranos during its first season: as one of those rare works that irrevocably changed its medium. It certainly felt like nothing in gaming would or could be the same after it. Yes, Myst went on to sell more than 6 million copies and was declared a game-changer (so to speak), widely credited with launching the era of CD-ROM gaming. It launched an equally critically adored and commercially successful sequel, and eventually four more installments. Fans and critics alike held their breath in anticipation of the tidal wave of exploratory, open-ended gaming that was supposed to follow, waiting to be drowned in a sea of new worlds. And then, nothing.' Why didn't Myst have a larger impact?"
Seemingly to inflict more suffering upon himself, Matthew Garrett (lord of getting things to boot using EFI) decided that booting directly into Zork would be cool. Quoting his weblog entry: "So, Frotz seemed like the natural choice when this happened. But despite having a set of functionality that makes it look much more like an OS than a boot environment, UEFI doesn't actually expose a standard C library. The EFI Application Development Kit solves this particular design decision. Porting Frotz ended up involving far more fixing up of Frotz bugs that tripped up -Werror than anything else. One note, though - make sure you include DevShell in the list of required packages at build time, otherwise file i/o will mysteriously fail." Grab the code, assuming you have a copy of Zork (or any other Z-machine game, as long as you name it ZORK1.DAT, I think).
theodp writes "Before there was Pong, there was Ping-Pong. Table tennis began in 19th-century Victorian England as a parlor game for the upper-middle class, with cigar box lids used as paddles. Today, as BusinessInsider half-joked, federal law requires all tech startups to have a functional ping pong table. Photographer Alec Soth discusses his love of the game in a NY Times interview and shares some vintage photos of the sport from his new limited-edition book Ping Pong. So, why do people — especially lots of computer programmers — get obsessed with Ping-Pong? Table tennis is 'a way to do a physical sport that has actual athletic qualities but is kind of contained,' explains Soth. 'There's a real mental element to it. It's not chess, but your brain is engaged. It's a break from neuroses.'" As workplace stress relief games go, a ping-pong table is also a lot easier to carry than an air hockey set-up or a bowling alley.
An anonymous reader writes "While the Wii U struggles, Nintendo's been raiding the archives and resurrecting some of its lesser known stars from yesteryear, including Chibi Robo, Steel Diver, and yes, Mario's oft-ignored brother himself — the company is going so far as to call 2013 the "year of Luigi". But as an article published today points out, there are still many more forgotten heroes in Nintendo's IP back catalogue. Series like Excitebike, Waveracer and 1080 used to be trusted to launch a new console, while NES classics like Ice Climber have all but been forgotten, alongside some of GameFreal's lesser known creations. Will they be enough to save Nintendo this generation?"
New submitter DeathToBill writes "EA is in the midst of another user backlash, the BBC reports. After EA took over operation of the online Scrabble brand, it introduced a 'new and improved' version. Improvements include requiring manual refreshes to see other players' turns, irretrievably wiping players' game history and a switch to the Collins dictionary (rather than the traditional Chambers edition) that has proved deeply unpopular with Scrabble fanatics. "EA was unavailable for comment.""