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The Almighty Buck

Are Micro-Transactions the Future of Online Game Business Models? 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-agree-pay-50-cents dept.
Last week we discussed news of Sony Online Entertainment's unveiling of a store that would allow players to purchase in-game Everquest items for real money. Massively spoke with John Smedley, SOE's CEO, about the system and what their goals were. He made the point that they were limiting sales to things that wouldn't unbalance the game. "They're fun and they're convenient. That's all they are. We're not selling power. There are a lot of respectable viewpoints on this, and a lot of reasonable people can disagree on them. Our view is that nothing here is gamebreaking." Edge Magazine has a related piece about Mytheon, an upcoming action-strategy game that will rely on micro-transactions to support its otherwise free-to-play business model. The game's producer suggests that micro-transactions are "a model that really gets us closer to the end user, and that's the way things need to be in the future, online."
Role Playing (Games)

Review: Wrath of the Lich King 545

Posted by Soulskill
from the slaying-pixels-for-fun-and-profit dept.
Since shortly after its release in late 2004, World of Warcraft has held the position of the most popular MMO, quickly outstripping predecessors such as Everquest and Ultima Online, and continuing to hold the lead despite competition from contemporaries and newer offerings, like Warhammer Online. When World of Warcraft's first expansion, The Burning Crusade, was released, it built on an already rich world by using feedback from players and two extra years of design experience to work on condensing the game to focus more on the best parts. Now, with the release of Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard seems to have gotten themselves ahead of the curve; in addition to the many changes intended to remove the "grind" aspect that is so prevalent in this genre, they've gone on to effectively put themselves in the player's shoes and ask, "What would make this more fun? Wouldn't it be cool if..?" Read on for the rest of my thoughts.
The Media

Olympic Opening Ceremony Fireworks Were (Partly) Faked 488

Posted by timothy
from the now-apply-to-serious-controversial-events dept.
A complete newb writes "London's Telegraph newspaper reports that some of the fireworks which appeared over Beijing during the television broadcast of the Olympic Opening Ceremony were actually computer generated. But — hold on — it's not necessarily as bad as you think. The faked fireworks were actually set-off at the stadium, but because of potential dangers in filming the display live from a helicopter, viewers at home were shown a pre-recorded, computer-generated shot." To me, the reasoning behind the faked display is no consolation or excuse — it seems hard to swallow that NBC was unaware of this televised deception. I'm glad that it was good-naturedly "revealed" this weekend (according to that Telegraph article), but it's disheartening that such a large crowd can watch (in person, and around the world) such a display and have no reason to realize they've been duped. What about when weightier events are at issue? There's also a slightly more detailed story at sky.com.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Can Remotely Disable iPhone Apps 550

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-making-a-list dept.
mikesd81 writes "Engadget reports Apple has readied a blacklisting system which allows the company to remotely disable applications on your device. It seems the new 2.x firmware contains a URL which points to a page containing a list of 'unauthorized' apps — a move which suggests that the device makes occasional contact with Apple's servers to see if anything is amiss on your phone. Jonathan Zdziarski, the man who discovered this, explains, 'This suggests that the iPhone calls home once in a while to find out what applications it should turn off. At the moment, no apps have been blacklisted, but by all appearances, this has been added to disable applications that the user has already downloaded and paid for, if Apple so chooses to shut them down. I discovered this doing a forensic examination of an iPhone 3G. It appears to be tucked away in a configuration file deep inside CoreLocation.'" Update: 08/11 13:07 GMT by T : Reader gadgetopia writes with a small story at IT Wire, citing an interview in the Wall Street Journal, in which this remote kill-switch is "confirmed by Steve Jobs himself."

NASA Proposes Manned Asteroid Mission 219

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the summon-bruce-willis dept.
eldavojohn writes "NASA has proposed a manned asteroid mission to a near earth object. They mention this being viewed as a "gap-filler" to keep the public's attention between a lunar exploration & manned mars mission. The article also cites these goals as in line with the Constellation Program. From the article, 'Furthermore, a human venture to a space rock may well accelerate precursor robotic surveys of asteroids, Schweickart observed. "Early unmanned visits to asteroids ... it's the same pattern as we did with the Moon and we're doing right now with Mars. It's all pretty logical," he told SPACE.com.'"

Aggressive Botnet Activities Behind Spam Increase 194

Posted by kdawson
from the spam-i-am dept.
An anonymous reader writes, "A spam-sending Trojan dubbed 'SpamThru' is responsible for a vast amount of the recent botnet activity which has significantly increased spam levels to almost three out of every four emails. The developers of SpamThru employed numerous tactics to thwart detection and enhance outreach, such as releasing new strains of the Trojan at regular intervals in order to confuse traditional anti-virus signatures detection." According to MessageLabs (PDF), another contributor to the recent spam increase is a trojan dropper called "Warezov."
Quickies

+ - Geeks chicks calander for a good cause!

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Limeproject.org Heather was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma right before Christmas in 2005. Though she has medical insurance, she does not have prescription coverage, which means her very expensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments were not covered. Add to that the fact that she is a potter and was not able to even touch clay during treatment and the bills are killing here even if her cancer is not. A bunch of her friends (and mine) got together to figure out a way to help her out. So what did they do? They got naked so Heather wouldn't go broke! These are real woman, with real bodies, real naked in a fabulous 2007 calendar. I already ordered mine. Have you? This is more important than a meme so spread it everywhere!"

Antarctic Microbes Could Live on Mars 117

Posted by Zonk
from the if-they-can-make-it-there-they'll-make-it-anywhere dept.
eldavojohn writes "Recent research has shown that microbes found in an Antarctic lake could survive the coldest temperatures on Mars. From the article, 'And they found that these species of microorganisms "huddled" together in colder temperatures to form a chemically linked unit called a biofilm. The finding marks the first time this phenomenon has been detected in the Antarctic species of so-called extremophiles. The findings provide more evidence for the ideas that liquid found beneath Mars' surface could harbor microbial life and that life could exist elsewhere in the solar system and galaxy, which is generally incredibly cold.' Their genes are currently being sequenced to determine which give the organisms 'cold-shock' proteins and their resistance to cold."
Google

+ - Google: "Do no evil" or "Screw the Com

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Interesting chain of events in the "GooTube" deal — one that oozes with corporate scandal. Based on Mark Cuban's blog and the subsequent ZDNet article, it seems as though there might have been some illegal dealings just prior to the YouTube-Google deal. In short, Youtube handed the major labels approximately $50M so that the labels would turn a blind eye to the copyright infringements AND go after the competition to cement YouTube's position in the market. Universal started the ball rolling a week after the deal by going after Bolt and Grouper."
Biotech

+ - The dawn of the second biotechnology revolution

Submitted by
BlueCup
BlueCup writes "In a low-slung building amid farm fields, agriculture's second biotechnology revolution is dawning.

Rows of robotic devices are deciphering the DNA in slices of thousands of corn plants sent daily from as far away as Chile and Hawaii. Scientists here search the results for subtle genetic differences that explain why a particular plant is better than others at tolerating cold, repelling insects, surviving drought or making more seed. The result is that breeders who used to need a decade to develop marketable new seeds by traditional selective breeding can do it in half the time."
Software

+ - Microsoft Office on FreeBSD? SoftMaker is close...

Submitted by
martin-k
martin-k writes "Like it or not, Microsoft Office is still the dominant office suite — of course, it's available only for Windows. FreeBSD and Linux users need to look elsewhere. A promising alternative could be SoftMaker Office 2006, a new office suite that is in beta right. SoftMaker, the suite's maker promises better filters for Word and Excel, but TextMaker also offers OpenDocument (ODF) import."

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