Classic Games (Games)

Bethesda To Unleash the Hounds of Hell On May 13th: Doom Release Date Confirmed (hothardware.com) 9

MojoKid writes: Bethesda and id Software are in the process rebooting the Doom franchise and it seems like it's been in development for ages. When we last visited the upcoming Doom remake, Bethesda had posted a giblet-filled trailer which showed some pretty impressive gameplay visuals, killer hand-to-hand combat and plenty of head stomping. However, Bethesda just clued gamers in on something that Doom fans have been anticipating for years, an actual release date. Mark your calendars for May 13th, because that's when Doom will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and of course, the PC platform. Bethesda also dropped a new campaign trailer for you to ogle.
Classic Games (Games)

Computer Beats Go Champion 149

Koreantoast writes: Go (weiqi), the ancient Chinese board game, has long been held up as one of the more difficult, unconquered challenges facing AI scientists... until now. Google DeepMind researchers, led by David Silver and Demis Hassabis, developed a new algorithm called AlphaGo, enabling the computer to soundly defeat European Go champion Fan Hui in back-to-back games, five to zero. Played on a 19x19 board, Go players have more than 300 possible moves per turn to consider, creating a huge number of potential scenarios and a tremendous computational challenge. All is not lost for humanity yet: DeepMind is scheduled to face off in March with Lee Sedol, considered one of the best Go players in recent history, in a match compared to the Kasparov-Deep Blue duels of previous decades.
Toys

To Solve a Rubik's Cube In 1 Second, It Takes a Robot 100

The Next Web features a quick look at an eyebrow-raisingly fast Rubik's Cube-solving robot, created by developers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose. How fast? The robot can solve a scrambled cube in one second (as long as you're willing to round down consistent solutions in "less than 1.2 seconds") which makes for some fun repeat views on YouTube. One speed-shaving element of the design: Rather than grip the cube with a robot hand, Flatland and Rose essentially made the cube an integral part of the system, by drilling holes in the cube's center faces, and attaching stepper motors directly. (Also at Motherboard).
Math

Finally Calculated: All the Legal Positions In a 19x19 Game of Go (github.io) 117

Reader John Tromp points to an explanation posted at GitHub of a computational challenge Tromp coordinated that makes a nice companion to the recent discovery of a 22 million-digit Mersenne prime. A distributed effort using pooled computers from two centers at Princeton, and more contributed from the HP Helion cloud, after "many hiccups and a few catastrophes" calculated the number of legal positions in a 19x19 game of Go. Simple as Go board layout is, the permutations allowed by the rules are anything but simple to calculate: "For running an L19 job, a beefy server with 15TB of fast scratch diskspace, 8 to 16 cores, and 192GB of RAM, is recommended. Expect a few months of running time." More: Large numbers have a way of popping up in the game of Go. Few people believe that a tiny 2x2 Go board allows for more than a few hundred games. Yet 2x2 games number not in the hundreds, nor in the thousands, nor even in the millions. They number in the hundreds of billions! 386356909593 to be precise. Things only get crazier as you go up in boardsize. A lower bound of 10^{10^48} on the number of 19x19 games, as proved in our paper, was recently improved to a googolplex. (For anyone who wants to double check his work, Tromp has posted as open source the software used.)
Classic Games (Games)

Game Historian: Gygax Swiped Fantasy Rules From a Forgotten 1970 Wargame (blogspot.com) 139

An anonymous reader writes: According to game historian Jon Peterson, Gary Gygax's Chainmail fantasy wargame (which became the basis for Dave Arneson's Blackmoor and later Dungeons & Dragons) borrowed heavily from an earlier set of rules published by Leonard Patt, a long-forgotten member of the New England Wargamers Association. Among the appropriations were rules for heroes and wizards including the iconic fireball spell, which ended up in everything from Magic: the Gathering to World of Warcraft, as well as monster rules for dragons, orcs, ents, and other Tolkien creations. Gygax had something of a reputation for borrowing things without giving proper credit, and this latest revelation shows how the open and collaborative environment of early gaming was quickly exploited for commercial purposes.
Classic Games (Games)

NetHack 3.6.0 Released After a 12-Year Wait (nethack.org) 76

An anonymous reader writes: For the past 12 years, NetHack 3.4.3 has been the most recent version of the classic roguelike dungeon exploration game. On 7 December 2015, the official NetHack DevTeam announced the release of NetHack 3.6.0. While the release contains some new features, the most exciting part of the announcement is perhaps the DevTeam's move toward a more open development model: "We've migrated our internal source repository to Git, with plans of providing a publicly available 'current maintenance version' in the future." Bugzilla will be used for defect tracking.

NetHack 3.6.0 is dedicated to the memory of the author Terry Pratchett. Besides the Tourist character class inspired by his stories, NetHack now contains "a huge number of quotes from many of the Discworld novels."

Emulation (Games)

Sony Quietly Adds PS2 Emulation To the PS4 (eurogamer.net) 151

An anonymous reader writes: The Digital Foundry blog reports that Sony has added functionality to the PlayStation 4 that allows it to act as an emulator for some PlayStation 2 games. Surprisingly, the company did not mention that this functionality is live; a new Star Wars game bundle just happened to include three titles that were released on the PS2. From the article: "How can we tell? First of all, a system prompt appears telling you that select and start buttons are mapped to the left and right sides of the Dual Shock 4's trackpad. Third party game developers cannot access the system OS in this manner. Secondly, just like the PS2 emulator on PlayStation 3, there's an emulation system in place for handling PS2 memory cards. Thirdly, the classic PlayStation 2 logo appears in all of its poorly upscaled glory when you boot each title." Sony has confirmed the games are being emulated, but declined to provide any further details.
Classic Games (Games)

Unearthed E.T. Atari Game Cartridges Score $108K At Auction 62

MojoKid writes: Hundreds of Atari 2600 cartridges of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial that were excavated last year from a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico collectively raked in nearly $108,000 through eBay auctions. Some $65,000 of that will go to the city of Alamogordo, while the Tularosa Basin Historical Society will receive over $16,000. Over $26,600 went to shipping fees and other expenses. A team of excavators led by operational consultant Joe Lewandowski unearthed the E.T. cartridges in front of a film crew. The high profile (among gaming historians) dig was the basis a documentary called Atari: Game Over, which is available for free through the Microsoft Store.
Classic Games (Games)

18 Years On, Ultima Online Is Still Going 75

An anonymous reader writes: Ultima Online was released in September, 1997. It was the game that popularized graphical MMOs, and somehow, it's still running. Rock, Paper, Shotgun took a dive into the game to see how much it's changed, and who still plays it. As the community has shrunk, it's become increasingly tight-knit, and giving up the game now means giving up a social circle for many players. Even though newer MMOs have eclipsed the game's functionality, UO has a dedication to the full adventuring experience that later games haven't replicated. From the article: "While initially I couldn't understand the appeal of Ultima, when I decided to shake off the limitations of an early level character and simply explore for myself, I found a game world with a lot to offer. Player created civilizations, unique monsters, and the sheer mystery of the world combine to keep this ancient MMO compelling. For all the ways in which the genre has improved, Ultima Online remains one of just a few MMOs that let you live an alternative life. That feeling of ownership ... combined with the diversity on offer, keeps players coming back day after day."
Classic Games (Games)

Interviews: Ask Steve Jackson About Designing Games 111

Since starting his own company in 1980, Steve Jackson, founder and editor-in-chief of Steve Jackson Games, has created a number of hits, starting with Car Wars . . . followed shortly by Illuminati, and later by GURPS, the "Generic Universal Roleplaying System." In 1983, he was elected to the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame - the youngest person ever so honored. He has personally won 11 Origins Awards. In the early 90's, Steve got international press due to the Secret Service's invasion of his office. The EFF helped make it possible for SJ Games to bring suit against the Secret Service and the U.S. government and win more than $50,000 in damages. His Ogre kickstarter a couple of years ago brought in close to a million dollars. His current hits are Munchkin, a very silly card game about killing monsters and taking their stuff, and Zombie Dice, in which you eat brains and try not to get shotgunned. His current projects include a variety of Munchkin follow-ups, and the continuing quest to get his games translated into digital form. Steve has agreed to put down the dice and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
AI

GA Tech Researchers Train Computer To Create New "Mario Brothers" Levels 27

An anonymous reader writes with a Georgia Institute of Technology report that researchers there have created a computing system that views gameplay video from streaming services like YouTube or Twitch, analyzes the footage and then is able to create original new sections of a game. The team tested their discovery, the first of its kind, with the original Super Mario Brothers, a well-known two-dimensional platformer game that will allow the new automatic-level designer to replicate results across similar games. Rather than the playable character himself, the Georgia Tech system focuses instead on the in-game terrain. "For example, pipes in the Mario games tend to stick out of the ground, so the system learns this and prevents any pipes from being flush with grassy surfaces. It also prevents "breaks" by using spatial analysis – e.g. no impossibly long jumps for the hero."
Classic Games (Games)

The Rebirth of Arcade Racers -- On Kickstarter 79

An anonymous reader writes: While big budget racers like The Crew and Forza chase realism, in recent years we've also seen a return to the racers of old with checkpoints, a ticking countdown, little in the way of AI and banging chiptune soundtracks. As a new article points out though, they're not in the arcades any more though — they're on Kickstarter. The author tracks down the creators of three indie games that look to Daytona rather than Gran Turismo for inspiration, and find out why we're seeing a resurgence in power sliding.
Classic Games (Games)

First Games Inducted Into the World Video Game Hall of Fame 277

An anonymous reader writes: From 15 finalists, the first inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame were picked for 2015. Only one of the titles added to the list of legends was launched in the last 15 years. The six games inducted this year are: Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Super Mario Bros, Doom, and World of Warcraft. The World Video Game Hall of Fame says it recognizes games across all platforms, and all have the possibility of being included.
Classic Games (Games)

1-Pixel Pac-Man 41

szczys writes: Retro games just aren't the same since the display technology resolution has exploded. I went the opposite direction and chose a display with less resolution than the original. This reinvention of Pac-Man uses a 32x32 RGB LED module which are made for LED billboards. This makes the player just one pixel. Add in an Atari joystick and we have a winner.This is a great programming challenge. If you've never looked at Pac-Man AI before, it's fascinating and worth your time!
Classic Games (Games)

MAME Changing License To Fully Libre One 56

jones_supa writes: The source code of MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) has long been freely available, but it's never been completely libre. Instead, it's been available under a modified BSD license that prohibits, among other things, commercial use of the code. MAME engineer Miodrag Milanovic explains that such a license was put in place to deter "misuse of MAME in illegal ways," but it also kept legitimate commercial entities doing business with the software. Examples of such could be museums that charge entry fees from using MAME in their exhibits, or copyright holders rereleasing vintage games encapsulated inside MAME. Now the project wants to go fully open. Milanovic continues: "Our aim is to help legal license owners in distributing their games based on MAME platform, and to make MAME become a learning tool for developers working on development boards." As of yet, there are no specific details about the new license.
Classic Games (Games)

(Hack) and Slash: Doing the LORD's Work 63

Emmett Plant (former Slashdot editor as well as video interviewee) writes: Legend of the Red Dragon was written by Seth Robinson in 1989, and it remains one of the most popular games of the DOS BBS era. Chris England has been doing his part to keep the game alive for the past twelve years, adapting an installation that runs on Linux. I was only able to play for two days before I was overcome with curiosity -- I wrote to Chris, politely inquiring as to how it all came together. Read on below for a look into Chris's motivations, the state of the project, and just how deeply nested it can all get, when bringing games from early BBS days into the modern era.
Stats

Poker Pros Win Against AI, But Experts Peg Match As Statistical Draw 65

hypnosec writes with some positive news for Skynet watchers, in that humans still have at least a slight lead against the AIs who might one day imprison us in energy-harvesting goo tanks, or at least beating us in Las Vegas. The two-day poker showdown involving four of the world's top (human) players and a Carnegie Mellon University AI program called Claudico saw the professionals win, after several days of heads-up no-limit Texas Hold'em. "Despite the win, the poker players' $732,713 collective lead over Claudico wasn't quite large enough to attain statistical significance, experts have said. This means that the results can't be accepted as scientifically reliable thereby indicating that the "Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence" competition effectively ended in a statistical tie." On the other hand, the computers sure got over what looked like a rout by the humans.
Classic Games (Games)

GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform 104

New submitter Donaithnen writes: Like many geeks, I'm against the idea of DRM in general and have championed GOG.com's DRM-free approach to selling games online. Yet like many geeks, I've also often succumbed to the temptation of Steam because of the convenience of tracking, installing, and playing my PC game purchases through the launcher (not to mention the compulsion of collecting achievements, and watching the total playtime for my favorite games (to my occasional dismay). Now, GOG has announced the open beta for GOG Galaxy, an entirely optional launcher to allow those who want (and only those who want) to have all the same features when playing GOG games.
Twitter

Twitter Stops Users From Playing DOS Games Inside Tweets 54

jones_supa writes: Twitter has killed off an interesting trend of playing DOS games in tweets. Last week, users discovered they could use the new "Twitter Cards" embedding feature to bundle full DOS games within tweets. Running DOSBox inside the web browser is possible thanks to an Emscripten port of DOSBox called Em-DOSBox. The games were pulled from Internet Archive's collection of 2,600 classic titles, many of which still lack proper republishing agreements with the copyright holder. So, is embedding games within Twitter Cards, against the social network's terms of service? Either way, Twitter has now blocked such activity, likely after seeing the various news reports and a stream of Street Fighter II, Wolfenstein 3D and Zool cheering up people's timelines.

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