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Puzzle In xkcd Book Finally Cracked 90

An anonymous reader writes "After a little over five months of pondering, xkcd fans have cracked a puzzle hidden inside Randall Munroe's recent book xkcd: volume 0. Here is the start of the thread on the xkcd forums; and here is the post revealing the final message (a latitude and longitude plus a date and time)."

Sony Joins the Offensive Against Pre-Owned Games 461

BanjoTed writes "In a move to counter sales of pre-owned games, EA recently revealed DLC perks for those who buy new copies of Mass Effect 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Now, PlayStation platform holder Sony has jumped on the bandwagon with similar plans for the PSP's SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3. '[Players] will need to register their game online before they are able to access the multiplayer component of the title. UMD copies will use a redeemable code while the digital version will authenticate automatically in the background. Furthermore ... anyone buying a pre-owned copy of the game will be forced to cough up $20 to obtain a code to play online."

Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Over R4 Mod Chip Piracy 146

schliz writes "The Federal Court has ordered an Australian distributor to pay Nintendo over half a million dollars for selling the R4 mod chip, which allows users to circumvent technology protection measures in Nintendo's DS consoles. The distributor, RSJ IT Solutions, has been ordered to cease selling the chip through its site and any other sites it controls, as well as paying Nintendo $520,000 in damages."

Ubisoft's Constant Net Connection DRM Confirmed 631

A few weeks ago we discussed news of Ubisoft's DRM plans for future games, which reportedly went so far as to require a constant net connection, terminating your game if you get disconnected for any reason. Well, it's here; upon playing review copies of the PC version of Assassin's Creed 2 and Settlers VII, PCGamer found the DRM just as annoying as you might expect. Quoting: "If you get disconnected while playing, you're booted out of the game. All your progress since the last checkpoint or savegame is lost, and your only options are to quit to Windows or wait until you're reconnected. The game first starts the Ubisoft Game Launcher, which checks for updates. If you try to launch the game when you're not online, you hit an error message right away. So I tried a different test: start the game while online, play a little, then unplug my net cable. This is the same as what happens if your net connection drops momentarily, your router is rebooted, or the game loses its connection to Ubisoft's 'Master servers.' The game stopped, and I was dumped back to a menu screen — all my progress since it last autosaved was lost."
Role Playing (Games)

Final Fantasy I and II Are Coming To the iPhone and iPod Touch 142

jonasvdc tips an announcement by Square Enix that Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy II are being developed for the iPhone and the iPod touch. The graphics and UI have been modified to look and run better on the touchscreen devices, but everything from Cecil to the classic Black Mage is clearly recognizable. The announcement did not include any information on a price or release date.

Former Exec Says Electronic Arts "Is In the Wrong Business" 180

Mitch Lasky was the executive vice president of Mobile and Online at Electronic Arts until leaving the publisher to work at an investment firm. He now has some harsh things to say about how EA has been run over the past several years, in particular criticizing the decisions of CEO John Riccitiello. Quoting: "EA is in the wrong business, with the wrong cost structure and the wrong team, but somehow they seem to think that it is going to be a smooth, two-year transition from packaged goods to digital. Think again. ... by far the greatest failure of Riccitiello's strategy has been the EA Games division. JR bet his tenure on EA's ability to 'grow their way through the transition' to digital/online with hit packaged goods titles. They honestly believed that they had a decade to make this transition (I think it's more like 2-3 years). Since the recurring-revenue sports titles were already 'booked' (i.e., fully accounted for in the Wall Street estimates) it fell to EA Games to make hits that could move the needle. It's been a very ugly scene, indeed. From Spore, to Dead Space, to Mirror's Edge, to Need for Speed: Undercover, it's been one expensive commercial disappointment for EA Games after another. Not to mention the shut-down of Pandemic, half of the justification for EA's $850MM acquisition of Bioware-Pandemic. And don't think that Dante's Inferno, or Knights of the Old Republic, is going to make it all better. It's a bankrupt strategy."

New Assassin's Creed Next Year, Will Have Multiplayer 56

Ubisoft has announced that the next stand-alone Assassin's Creed title will come out next year, and it will be the first in the series to come with an online multiplayer mode. The company also said it will be "shoring up its focus on competitive AAA core titles on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3" in the coming year, making mention of upcoming releases for the Tom Clancy game series and a new Prince of Persia title.

One Variety of Sea Slugs Cuts Out the Energy Middleman 232

dragonturtle69 writes with this story, short on details but interesting: "These sea slugs, Elysia chlorotica, have evolved the ability to gain energy via photosynthesis. Forget about genetic modifications for sports enhancements. I want to be able to never need to eat again — or do I?"

Game Endings Going Out of Style? 190

An article in the Guardian asks whether the focus of modern games has shifted away from having a clear-cut ending and toward indefinite entertainment instead. With the rise of achievements, frequent content updates and open-ended worlds, it seems like publishers and developers are doing everything they can to help this trend. Quoting: "Particularly before the advent of 'saving,' the completion of even a simple game could take huge amounts of patience, effort and time. The ending, like those last pages of a book, was a key reason why we started playing in the first place. Sure, multiplayer and arcade style games still had their place, but fond 8, 16 and 32-bit memories consist more of completion and satisfaction than particular levels or tricky moments. Over the past few years, however, the idea of a game as simply something to 'finish' has shifted somewhat. For starters, the availability of downloadable content means no story need ever end, as long as the makers think there's a paying audience. Also, the ubiquity of broadband means multiplayer gaming is now the standard, not the exception it once was. There is no real 'finish' to most MMORPGs."
Star Wars Prequels

BioWare Targeting Spring 2011 For Star Wars: The Old Republic Launch 82

MTV's Multiplayer blog reports on comments from BioWare employee Sean Dahlberg, which indicate that they are aiming to release the game in spring 2011. He said, "While we have not announced a specific date, we can confirm that we are targeting a spring 2011 release for Star Wars: The Old Republic. We've got a lot of exciting updates and reveals planned throughout 2010, including the first-ever hands-on testing for the game. ... We can't wait to share more about the game with you as we progress through the year, so make sure you stay tuned to the official website for details." Recent posts to the game's developer blog provide details on the Imperial Agent and the Jedi Knight. They also released a video which gives insight into their design process for the Dark Side.

Minnesota Introduces World's First Carbon Tariff 303

hollywoodb writes "The first carbon tax to reduce the greenhouse gases from imports comes not between two nations, but between two states. Minnesota has passed a measure to stop carbon at its border with North Dakota. To encourage the switch to clean, renewable energy, Minnesota plans to add a carbon fee of between $4 and $34 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions to the cost of coal-fired electricity, to begin in 2012 ... Minnesota has been generally pushing for cleaner power within its borders, but the utility companies that operate in MN have, over the past decades, sited a lot of coal power plants on the relatively cheap and open land of North Dakota, which is preparing a legal battle against Minnesota over the tariff."

Apple Orders 10 Million Tablets? 221

Arvisp writes "According to a blog post by former Google China president Kai-Fu Lee, Apple plans to produce nearly 10 million tablets in the still-unannounced product's first year. If Lee's blog post is to be believed, Apple plans to sell nearly twice as many tablets as it did iPhones in the product's first year."

Yellowstone Supervolcano Larger Than First Thought 451

drewtheman writes "New studies of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park shows the plume and the magma chamber under the volcano are larger than first thought and contradicts claims that only shallow hot rock exists. University of Utah research professor of geophysics Robert Smith led four separate studies that verify a plume of hot and molten rock at least 410 miles deep that rises at an angle from the northwest."

Neutrinos are into physicists.