YokimaSun writes "The war between hackers and Sony over the PlayStation 3 has now taken an even more sinister turn, with Sony going after not just shops but actual buyers of the PSBreak dongle, threatening them with fines of many thousands of Euros and forcing them to sign cease-and-desist letters. It seems Sony will use any means necessary to thwart both homebrew and piracy on the PS3."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "Blizzard have taken the extremely peculiar decision to ban players from playing StarCraft II for using cheats in the single-player game. This meant that, despite cheating no one but themselves, they were locked out of playing the single-player game. Which is clearly bonkers. But it's not enough for the developer. Blizzard's lawyers are now setting out to sue those who create cheats. Gamespot reports that the megolithic company is chasing after three developers of hacks for 'destroying' their online game. It definitely will be in violation of the end user agreement, so there's a case. However, it's a certain element of their claim that stands out for attention. They're claiming using the hacks causes people to infringe copyright: 'When users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they copy StarCraft II copyrighted content into their computer's RAM in excess of the scope of their limited license, as set forth in the EULA and ToU, and create derivative works of StarCraft II.'" Blizzard used similar reasoning in their successful lawsuit against the creators of a World of Warcraft bot.
St. Vincent Euphrasia elementary school in Meaford, Ont. is the latest Canadian school to decide to save its students from the harmful effects of Wi-Fi by banning it. Schools from universities on down have a history of banning Wi-Fi in Ontario. As usual, health officials and know-it-all scientists have called the move ridiculous. Health Canada has released a statement saying, "Wi-Fi is the second most prevalent form of wireless technology next to cell phones. It is widely used across Canada in schools, offices, coffee shops, personal dwellings, as well as countless other locations. Health Canada continues to reassure Canadians that the radiofrequency energy emitted from Wi-Fi equipment is extremely low and is not associated with any health problems."
JamJam writes "Air Canada has been told to create a special 'buffer zone' on flights for people who are allergic to nuts. The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that passengers who have nut allergies should be considered disabled and accommodated by the airline. Air Canada has a month to come up with an appropriate section of seats where passengers with nut allergies would be seated. The ruling involved a complaint from Sophia Huyer, who has a severe nut allergy and travels frequently. Ms. Huyer once spent 40 minutes in the washroom during a flight while snacks were being served."
andylim writes "It looks as if Duke Nukem isn't completely 'nuked' after all. Someone has ported the 90s classic on to a Nokia N900. As you'll see in the video, you control Duke using the Qwerty keypad and shoot using the touchscreen. I'm wondering how long it will take for this to get on other mobile platforms." In other Duke news, reader Jupix points out that 3D Realms' CEO Scott Miller recently said, "There are numerous other Duke games in various stages of development, several due out this year. We are definitely looking to bring Duke into casual gaming spaces, plus there are other major Duke games in production."
coondoggie writes "NASA is looking to reduce the deadly impact of helicopter crashes on their pilots and passengers with what the agency calls a high-tech honeycomb airbag known as a deployable energy absorber. So in order to test out its technology NASA dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet to see whether its deployable energy absorber, made up of an expandable honeycomb cushion, could handle the stress. The test crash hit the ground at about 54MPH at a 33 degree angle, what NASA called a relatively severe helicopter crash."
John Riccitiello, the CEO of Electronic Arts, made some revealing comments in an interview with Kotaku about how the company's attitudes are shifting with regard to software piracy. Quoting: "Some of the people buying this DLC are not people who bought the game in a new shrink-wrapped box. That could be seen as a dark cloud, a mass of gamers who play a game without contributing a penny to EA. But around that cloud Riccitiello identified a silver lining: 'There's a sizable pirate market and a sizable second sale market and we want to try to generate revenue in that marketplace,' he said, pointing to DLC as a way to do it. The EA boss would prefer people bought their games, of course. 'I don't think anybody should pirate anything,' he said. 'I believe in the artistry of the people who build [the games industry.] I profoundly believe that. And when you steal from us, you steal from them. Having said that, there's a lot of people who do.' So encourage those pirates to pay for something, he figures. Riccitiello explained that EA's download services aren't perfect at distinguishing between used copies of games and pirated copies. As a result, he suggested, EA sells DLC to both communities of gamers. And that's how a pirate can turn into a paying customer."
An anonymous reader writes "So far, there are over 35 pages of people posting about why EA released Pandemic Studios' final game, Saboteur, to first the EU on December 4th and then, after knowing full well it did not work properly, to the Americas on December 8th. They have been promising to work on a patch that is apparently now in the QA stage of testing. It is not a small bug; rather, if you have an ATI video card and either Windows 7 or Windows Vista, the majority (90%) of users have the game crash after the title screen. Since the marketshare for ATI is nearly equal to that of Nvidia, and the ATI logo is adorning the front page of the Saboteur website, it seems like quite a large mistake to release the game in its current state."
A story at the BBC takes a look at the use of private game servers for games that tend not to allow them. While most gamers are happy to let companies like Blizzard and NCSoft administer the servers that host their MMORPGs, others want different rules, a cheaper way to play, or the technical challenge of setting up their own. A South African player called Hendrick put up his own WoW server because the game "wasn't available in the country at the time." A 21-year-old Swede created a server called Epilogue, which "had strict codes of conduct and rules, as well as a high degree of customized content (such as new currency, methods of earning experience, the ability to construct buildings and hire non-player characters, plus 'permanent' player death) unavailable in the retail version of the game." The game companies make an effort to quash these servers when they can, though it's frequently more trouble that it's worth. An NCSoft representative referenced the "growing menace" of IP theft, and a Blizzard spokesperson said,"We also have a responsibility to our players to ensure the integrity and reliability of their World of Warcraft gaming experience and that responsibility compels us to protect our rights."
An anonymous reader writes "Australia refused to give Rebellion's new Aliens Vs. Predator game a rating, effectively banning it in the country. Rebellion says it won't be submitting an edited version for another round of classifications, however. (As Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2.) They said, 'We will not be releasing a sanitized or cut down version for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices.'"
Last month we discussed news that Microsoft had banned hundreds of thousands of Xbox users for using modified consoles. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has now pointed to this round of bans as a prime example of the power given to providers of online services through 'Terms of Service' and other usage agreements. "No matter how much we rely on them to get on with our everyday lives, access to online services — like email, social networking sites, and (wait for it) online gaming — can never be guaranteed. ... he who writes the TOS makes the rules, and when it comes to enforcing them, the service provider often behaves as though it is also the judge, jury and executioner. ... While the mass ban provides a useful illustration of their danger, these terms can be found in nearly all TOS agreements for all kinds of services. There have been virtually no legal challenges to these kinds of arbitrary termination clauses, but we imagine this will be a growth area for lawyers."
theodp writes "Chuck E. Cheese, meet Bill H. Gates. A leaked PowerPoint posted at Gizmodo provides a glimpse of what Microsoft's retail shops may look like, noting that you'll even be able to pay to celebrate your birthday there. Some of the stores that were profiled for ideas were Nike, Nokia, Sony, Apple, and AT&T. Microsoft's take on the Genius Bar is the Answers Bar (aka Guru Bar, Windows Bar)."
One of the most promising MMORPGs in development these days is NCSoft's Aion, a fantasy-based offering built on CryEngine. It makes heavy use of flight as a gameplay mechanic, allowing aerial combat and easy travel around the visually stunning game world. There are four basic classes — Warrior, Priest, Mage, and Scout — each of which have two subclasses. For example, Warriors can be tank-like Templars, or berserker-like Gladiators, while Mages can turn into a scholarly Sorcerer or command the elements as a Spiritmaster. Early previews of Aion almost universally comment on how polished the game seems — this is partly due to the fact that it has been up and running since November in South Korea. "Being stable, scalable, reliable and fuss-free is far from a given in MMOs, but Aion is all those things, and can already stand alongside the genre's usability kings, EVE Online and World of Warcraft. Its expansive, zone-free open-world environments look terrific and run smoothly on a wide variety of systems. It just works." Since the game is already in a relatively complete state, NCSoft has been running closed beta "events," where a portion of the game is opened for testing. MMOGamer has a write-up from the latest such event. Aion is due out in September.
I prefer to go to a movie theater that sells food and have a full meal with a beer or several. Makes the whole thing much more fun.
SailorSpork writes to tell us that the rumored LEGO Rock Band has been confirmed, and it's set to be released later this year. The game is being developed for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and DS. The press release lists the first five songs selected for the game, and says players will "work their way through local venues, stadiums and fantasy locations on Earth and beyond, that mimic the imaginative settings that the LEGO world offers. Also continuing the LEGO 'build-and-play' gaming experience, players will be able to create their own LEGO Rock Band style as they customize their minifigure avatars, band and entourage, including roadies, managers and crew." A new page on the Xbox website provides more (slightly odd) details: "Play killer riffs to destroy a giant robot, summon a storm, and demolish a skyscraper using the power of rock!"