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Handhelds

Apple Reverses iPad "No Cash Purchase" Policy 377

Posted by timothy
from the so-it's-free-now dept.
ZipK writes "After a few days of bad publicity, Apple has reversed its no cash purchase policy, explaining that the policy was originally implemented to limit the number of iPads an individual could buy during the introductory period of short supply. Now that supply has caught up with demand — and the story has hit front pages and gained national attention — Apple has reversed its policy, and taken the opportunity to put a bow on the story by giving the formerly scorned Diane Campbell a free iPad."
Games

Do Gamers Want Simpler Games? 462

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'd-say-no-but-i-used-to-love-frogger dept.
A recent GamePro article sums up a lesson that developers and publishers have been slowly learning over the last few years: gamers don't want as much from games as they say they do. Quoting: "Conventional gaming wisdom thus far has been 'bigger, better, MORE!' It's something affirmed by the vocal minority on forums, and by the vast majority of critics that praise games for ambition and scale. The problem is, in reality its almost completely wrong. ... How do we know this? Because an increasing number of games incorporate telemetry systems that track our every action. They measure the time we play, they watch where we get stuck, and they broadcast our behavior back to the people that make the games so they can tune the experience accordingly. Every studio I've spoken to that does this, to a fault, says that many of the games they've released are far too big and far too hard for most players' behavior. As a general rule, less than five percent of a game's audience plays a title through to completion. I've had several studios tell me that their general observation is that 'more than 90 percent' of a game's audience will play it for 'just four or five hours.'"
Games

Decrying the Excessive Emulation of Reality In Games 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the plumbers-with-shrooms dept.
An editorial at GameSetWatch makes the case that game developers' relentless drive to make games more real has led to missed opportunities for creating unique fictional universes that are perhaps more interesting than our own. Quoting: "Remember when the norm for a video game was a blue hedgehog that ran fast and collected rings and emeralds? Or a plumber that took mushrooms to become large, and grabbed a flower to throw fireballs? In reality they do none of those things, but in the name of a game, they make sense, inspire wonder, and create a new universe. ... We’ve seen time and time again that the closer you try to emulate reality, the more the 'game' aspects begin to stick out. Invisible walls in Final Fantasy, or grenades spawning at your feet when you go the wrong way in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 are examples of kicking the player out of that illusion of reality, and letting them know that yes, this is a game, and yes, the rules are designed to keep you in the space of this world, not the real world. In reality, as a soldier I could disobey my orders and go exploring around the other side. I could be cowardly and turn back to base. Games shouldn’t have to plan for every eventuality, of course, but it’s not so hard to create universes that are compelling but where the unusual, or even simple backtracking, is not so unfeasible."

Microsoft Demos Three Platforms Running the Same Game 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the pick-up-and-play dept.
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from Engadget: "Microsoft's Eric Rudder, speaking at TechEd Middle East, showed off a game developed in Visual Studio as a singular project (with 90% shared code) that plays on Windows with a keyboard, a Windows Phone 7 Series prototype device with accelerometer and touch controls, and the Xbox 360 with the Xbox gamepad. Interestingly, not only is the development cross-platform friendly, but the game itself (a simple Indiana Jones platformer was demoed) saves its place and lets you resume from that spot on whichever platform you happen to pick up."

Comment: Re:Listen to yourselves! (Score 1) 378

by orthogonal (#26318911) Attached to: Open Source Victories of 2008

KDE4's panel is one of those things that you figure out and then say "WhereTF was the tutorial for this?" That is, after you figure out that you have to manually add it because it's not there by default. You can right-click where it doesn't have any programs or on the edge, and there's a rectangle you can click+hold and drag to change size I think.

I call this the Microsoft Excel Charting experience: where you have to guess where and how (left-click, right-click,click-and-drag) to click to set various parameters. It's frankly exhausting, more like a crappy game of skill than configuration.

KDE3, conversely, gives me a tree view, and somewhere within that tree are all the settings I need. I may take a bit of time looking through the tree to find what want, but no magical clicking is required, and I don't have to guess what an option does: it's clearly labeled.

KDE4 is a massive step backwards; Gnome, which I've always detested because it's not configurable, is preferable to KDE4. I'm really at a loss as to what the KDE4 team was thinking.

Comment: Re:I like KDE 4 (Score 2, Interesting) 378

by orthogonal (#26318873) Attached to: Open Source Victories of 2008

KDE 4.1 looks like Gnome, only worse. The default font sizes are HUGE, and the default antialiasing is horrible. The launcher button on the kicker panel, instead of just showing applications, shows a tabbed panel that starts on the "favorites" tab; to actually launch an app, I have to chose the application tab, then get a list in a HUGE font, when menu, instead of cascading, are replaced by sub-panels, and the replacement is made slower by stupid animation.

The kicker panel itself is way too large, probably 50 pixels high.

The desktop isn't a normal desktop, instead there's some pseudo-transparent lozenge in which desktop items are grouped.

When I open "System Settings", I get some multi-applet container like MS-Windows or Gnome, not the tree-view I saw in KDE 3.5. I can't even find most things I want to change (like Window Decorations) or even a menu with an about which would tell me what app I'm running.

Did I screw up the install somehow? Am I still running Gnome (no, can't be, every app starts with "K").

What the hell??? If I wanted Gnome or Vista, I'd run that crap. Why can't KDE be KDE?

Help!

I liked KDE because it was clean and functional. KDE 4.1 is a travesty.

Ok, read this bullshit marketing drivel from KDE, it reads like an MBA's sales pitch:

        However Plasma is more than just this familiar collection of utilities, it is a common framework for creating integrated interfaces. It is flexible enough to provide interfaces for mobile devices, media centres and desktop computers; to support the traditional desktop metaphor as well as well as designs that haven't yet been imagined.

Christ, man, I just want to launch an app, and occasionally glance down at the laucher to see how much battery life I have. I don't want a "framework" that can do everything.

But, says KDE:

        Plasma takes a different approach, engaging the user by creating a dynamic and highly customizable environment.

I don't want to be engaged, I just want to launch an app. I'll probably maximize that app, so the desktop won't even be getting a look.

But, says KDE, you can get rid of the gee-whiz gee-gaws:

        With Plasma, you can let your desktop (and accompanying support elements) act like it always did. You can have a task bar, a background image, shortcuts, etc. If you want to, however, you can use tools provided by Plasma to take your experience further, letting your desktop take shape based on what you want and need.

Oh, ok, that's cool. So can I get rid of the "cashew" control on the desktop?

        Although putting an option to disable the cashew for desktops sounds reasonable, from a coding point of view it would introduce unnecessary complexity and would break the design. What has been suggested is, since the destkop itself (a containment) is handled by plugins, to write a plugin that would draw the desktop without the cashew itself. Currently some work ("blank desktop" plugin) is already present in KDE SVN. With containment type switching expected by KDE 4.2, it is not unreasonable to see alternative desktop types developed by then.

So let me get this straight: Plasma's a revolutionary framework that can do things "that haven't yet been imagined." But it also supports the traditional desktop.

But getting rid on a "cashew" on the desktop is too hard to code, but if you write a trivial plugin that redraws the entire desktop (which isn't so trivial, as it's a yet unready work in progress, and won't even be possible until the next release of KDE) you can get around this unwanted "feature".

Come on, guys, your super framework requires a plugin to be written just to present a blank desktop? And plugins won't work until 4.2? And a boolean "don't show" would break the design? You guys got seduced into major mission creep.

This isn't a desktop environment, it's the dev's toy. Which is great, but don't claim it's ready for end users.

User Journal

Journal: A Prediction 4

Journal by orthogonal

If my prior comments on wikipedia are any guide, after the post drops off the front page, a wikipedia editor with mod points will mod-bomb all my (currently 5,5,5,4) comments in the Wikipedia story.

The wikipedia administration, for whatever reason, is extraordinarily defensive and hates to see criticism remain un-suppressed. If this is reminiscent of a cult, well, if the show fits....

User Journal

Journal: Slashdot fans! Help me! 9

Journal by orthogonal

I've got a number of fans, and I've never asked for anything other than that you appreciate my comments here.

But now I need your help.

A spark jumped from my finger and now my Touchstream LP keyboard is dead. Like the parrot in the Python skit. Dead.

Windows plug-and-play doesn't recognize it at all.

So I need your help.

Can anyone either

Portables

Journal: Laptop functionality in handheld form factor? 5

Journal by orthogonal

I'm playing around with the idea of getting a laptop and (geek warning) some sort of VR glasses instead of a screen.

Optimally, I'd like something with the form factor of a Sharp Zaurus, but with a hard drive and standard ports.

Basically, I want a "real computer" that I can put in my pocket. To use the VR glasses, I'd need standard USB ports and the ability to use a standard video card.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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