Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Advertising

No Man's Sky's Steam Page Didn't Mislead Gamers, Rules UK Ad Watchdog (arstechnica.com) 76

Shortly after it officially launched in August on PlayStation and Windows, No Man's Sky -- the game that sees the protagonist explore space and experience uncertain places -- was accused of false advertising. Players felt that the pictures and videos used to promote the game on its Steam page didn't represent the sort of things players might expect to encounter in the game. Today, a UK advertising regulator has ruled the opposite -- the game didn't mislead gamers. Ars Technica reports: The complainants -- who had been part of a semi-organized campaign upset with the state of the game at release -- insisted that the screenshots on the storefront had seemed to promise various features that turned out to be absent from the final game. These included things like the appearance and behavior of animals, large in-game buildings, large-scale space combat, loading screens, a promised system wherein the different factions contested galactic territory, and general graphical polish. Hello Games' defense rested on the fact that No Man's Sky is procedurally generated, and that while players would not enjoy the exact experience shown in promotional images, they could reasonably expect to see similar things. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) agreed, saying: "The summary description of the game made clear that it was procedurally generated, that the game universe was essentially infinite, and that the core premise was exploration. As such, we considered consumers would understand the images and videos to be representative of the type of content they would encounter during gameplay, but would not generally expect to see those specific creatures, landscapes, battles, and structures." It also ruled that the developers hadn't misled customers over graphics: "We understood the graphical output of the game would be affected by the specifications of each player's computer, and considered that consumers would generally be aware of this limitation."
Earth

Google Launches Earth VR For Free On HTC Vive (roadtovr.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes: Google today revealed Earth VR, a virtual-reality version of the company's famous Google Earth program that's built for the HTC Vive. The application packs the rich Google Earth dataset -- which includes high resolution satellite imagery, elevation data, and detailed 3D modeled cities and landscapes -- into a single model of the planet which users can view all the way from space down to the ground, walking among cities like a giant. The company tells Road to VR that "Earth VR is a product, not a demo," and that it's designed to benefit from improvements in the Earth dataset over time automatically, and it will see regular updates post launch. You can download Google Earth VR for the HTC Vive via Steam.
Windows

SteamVR To Get Linux and Mac OSX Support Within 'a Few Months' (roadtovr.com) 64

Valve is planning to introduce beta versions of its SteamVR platform for Mac OSX and Linux users within a few months, RoadToVr reports citing an executive. From the report:One thing's for sure, if you're a PC user wanting to indulge in a spot of immersive entertainment right now, the choice of operating systems on which you can do so are mostly limited to just one. Windows dominates the VR PC landscape right now and that looks set to continue for a while longer. However, Valve will soon move to encourage a diminishing of that monopoly, as it plans to bring SteamVR -- the company's Steam-integrated VR platform -- to both Linux and Mac OSX platforms within the next few months. The initiative was revealed by Valve's Joe Ludwig during a talk at this year's developer-focused Steam Dev Days event in Seattle last month. During the talk, Ludwig outlined the company's view that VR should be as open to innovation as possible, touting the benefits for the long term evolution of virtual reality and how Valve, with OpenVR, are trying to keep what Ludwig calls platform "gatekeepers" from (as they see it) stifling progression in the VR space. Additionally, Ludwig stated that it's been listening to developer and user feedback during SteamVR's first year in consumer hands, and says that they've heard clearly that a version of SteamVR is wanted on other operating systems.
Wireless Networking

HTC Vive Goes Wireless (uploadvr.com) 29

One of the biggest cons with premium virtual-reality headsets is the fact that they need to be tethered to a powerful gaming PC or game console via annoying wires. In early September, HTC announced it was working on a method to remove the wires, and now their solution is officially available via a $220 add-on kit. UploadVR reports: HTC today announced a tether-less VR upgrade kit for its SteamVR device, made by TPCAST, one of the first of 33 companies to join the Vive X Accelerator. Speaking to UploadVR in a phone interview, [China Regional President of Vive at HTC Alvin W. Graylin] said that the experience would "greatly improve" the overall Vive experience, with no "noticeable difference" for factors like latency. The product will be available to pre-order with a standard battery, though Graylin said that a bigger battery will be sold eventually. We're told the standard battery can deliver around one and a half hours of power. The bigger battery would rest in a user's pocket. HTC expects the device to be adopted by "avid" Vive users, though it could also be useful for businesses. The upgrade kit will be available to pre-order on Vive's Chinese website "in limited quantity" for 1,499 RMB ($220.33). The kit is said to ship starting in Q1 2017. According to HTC, pre-orders go live at 7 a.m. Pacific on Friday. Graylin said anyone could order the unit from there and pay for shipping. According to HTC, in a press release, "Order fulfillment will be prioritized to existing customers who can provide a valid Vive serial number." You can watch some wireless HTC Vive test footage here.
Facebook

Facebook Officially Announces Gameroom, Its PC Steam Competitor (techcrunch.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: After losing mobile gaming to iOS and Android, Facebook is making a big push into playing on PC with today's developer launch of its Gameroom Windows desktop gaming platform. After months of name changes, beta tests and dev solicitation, Facebook opened up the beta build for all developers and officially named it Gameroom. The app is openly available for users to download on Windows 7 and up. Gameroom let users play web, ported mobile and native Gameroom games in a dedicated PC app free from the distractions of the News Feed. Gameroom will have to fight a steep uphill battle again Valve's Steam platform, which has well over 125 million active users, with millions actually playing at any given moment. Facebook will need to convince developers that Gameroom will share its social network's massive reach and is therefore worth their while. Then it will have to persuade gamers that a more social experience is worth diving into a new platform. If Facebook succeeds, there are plenty of potential benefits to owning a gaming destination. Facebook announced the launch and name change from "Facebook Games Arcade" today at Unity's game development platform conference. Unity 5.6 shipping next year will allow devs to export their games directly to Facebook Gameroom, as well as to the WebGL standard. Facebook's director of global games platform, Leo Olebe, touted how Facebook will feature new games in the Gameroom to give developers a leg up.
Games

Valve Bans Developer From Steam After It Sues Customers Over Bad Reviews (arstechnica.com) 195

From an ArsTechnica report: A game developer has been banned from Steam after users claimed that it had attempted to sue 100 users of the platform for $18 million -- for the crime of leaving bad reviews. Digital Homicide, which has released dozens of small games mostly available for a couple of quid each, had its titles removed from Valve's popular digital distribution platform on Friday night. Its boss, James Romine, was granted a subpoena by a court in Arizona apparently allowing him to demand the release of "identification and associated data" of anonymous Steam users. The lawsuit listed in turn the misdemeanours of dozens of John/Jane Does, which include counts of "harassment," "stalking," and "cyber-bullying." In a brief e-mail sent to Vice's Motherboard at the end of last week, Valve's marketing veep Doug Lombardi confirmed that "Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers."
Your Rights Online

Valve Finally Takes On Steam User Review Score Manipulation (eurogamer.net) 85

Valve is taking a step to stop developers from artificially inflating review scores on Steam. From a EuroGamer report: Valve just changed the way Steam user reviews work -- and it's certainly set the cat among the pigeons. In May, Valve updated Steam so that it highlighted recent reviews on games. The thinking behind this change was sound: it wanted to better show the current state of a game, many of which evolve quickly as developers issue updates. Now, though, Valve is changing the default review score that shows up at the top of each product page -- the one developers and potential customers put so much stock in -- so that it does not include reviews written by those who obtained the product through a Steam key. What this means is that reviews penned by those who got a game after backing it on Kickstarter, for example, or via a developer's website, do not affect the Steam user review score. Again, the thinking behind this change is sound. Valve knows that some developers were gaming the system -- that is, they were giving keys to friends or shady paid services in exchange for positive reviews.
Businesses

IFA 2016 Award Winners (digitaltrends.com) 28

For the technology addicts out there, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and International Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) are events to pay close attention to. They are annual trade shows that exhibit consumer electronics from hundreds of exhibitors to thousands of attendees. IFA is coming to an end and the folks over at Digital Trends have put together a list of their "Top Tech picks of IFA 2016 in each major tech category." The "Top Picks" of each category include:

BEST OF SHOW: LENOVO YOGA BOOK
AUDIO: AUDEZE INSINE 10
COMPUTING: LENOVO YOGA 910
COOL TECH: YUNEEC BREEZE
COOL TECH: BOTSCAN
HOME: LG INSTAVIEW SIGNATURE FRIDGE
HOME: NETATMO SMART VALVE
LATIN INNOVATION: SOLIDMATION
MOBILE: ZTE AXON 7 MINI
VIDEO: PHILIPS 901F 4K UHD OLED TV
WEARABLES: SAMSUNG GEAR S3 FRONTIER

Have any Slashdotters been paying close attention to IFA 2016? If so, how do you think this year's event stacks up to past IFA events?
First Person Shooters (Games)

'GoldenEye: Source' Updated: A Classic, Free Multiplayer Game (theverge.com) 65

An anonymous reader quotes The Verge: GoldenEye: Source received its first update in more than three years this week. It's free to download and it features 25 recreated maps, 10 different multiplayer modes, and redesigned versions of the original game's 28 weapons. It was created using Valve's Source engine, the same set of tools used to create Counter Strike and Half-Life games. So it's a massive step up in both visuals and performance for one of the more drastically dated gaming masterpieces of the last 20 years...

GoldenEye 007, the beloved N64 first-person shooter, has been recreated in high-definition glory by a team of dedicated fans over the course of 10 years...the attention to detail and the amount of effort that went into GoldenEye: Source make it one of the most polished HD remakes of a N64 classic.

With 8 million copies sold, Wikipedia calls it the third best-selling Nintendo 64 game of all-time (although this version doesn't recreate its single-player campaigns). Anyone have fond memories of playing Goldeneye 007?
Hardware

Steam VR Tracking Technology Now Available To Third Parties (pcgamer.com) 13

You will soon be able to play and try out any virtual reality game or app in StreamVR ecosystem without having to purchase HTC's VR gear. SteamVR creator Valve has announced it is opening the floodgates to a new wave to a new wave of VR peripherals. PC Gamer reports: "This tracking technology enables hardware developers to build highly precise position and orientation sensing into devices of all kinds," reads the press release. "Valve expects the technology to be used in a variety of devices, such as VR peripherals and other input devices." The technology being licensed includes everything needed to wirelessly track objects with the HTC Vive base stations (those two laser emitters that you mount in the corners of the room when setting up a Vive), its sensors, and the Steam VR software. To be clear, it doesn't mean we'll see new tracking systems based on the Vive's technology, but that new hardware can work with the Vive's base stations and sensors. The goal is to "support the growth of a healthy portfolio of products that work together with HTC Vive," said HTC VR vice president Raymond Pao.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Valve Threatens Counter Strike Gambling Sites (hngn.com) 37

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from HNGN: Game maker Valve is threatening to shut down sites dedicated to gambling with add-ons to its popular Counter Strike game. On Thursday the company sent cease and desist letters to 23 sites, demanding that gambling operations be stopped, and that the sites had 10 days to comply. The row revolves around the software overlays that change the appearance of the characters people play in Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) and the weapons and other virtual items. Last week the company reiterated that its user agreements ban external sites from asking users to connect their Steam accounts in order to trade items for real money. The company added that it would use "all available remedies" against sites that did not stop players using virtual goods to gamble.
Bloomberg reports that in June a class action lawsuit was filed against Valve "for its role in the multibillion-dollar gambling economy that has fueled the game's popularity" -- by a man who had been gambling on the site since 2014. This was followed in July by a second class action lawsuit by a mother on behalf of her son, reports ESPN. "The case alleges that the Valve knowingly allows and profits from teenagers participating in illegal, unregulated and underage gambling of in-game cosmetic weapon skins through third-party sites."
The Courts

Valve Denounces Third-Party Gambling Sites, But Won't Block Them (arstechnica.com) 32

Valve is finally addressing the last week's Counter-Strike gambling scandal. The game maker and Steam operator says that it does not directly profit from these gambling sites' actions. In a statement, Valve's Erik Johnson said the following: We have no business relationships with any of these sites. We have never received any revenue from them. And Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real world currency. Johnson added that gambling sites work by creating and maintaining their own Steam accounts, which are used to conduct virtual item trading. He adds:Using the OpenID API and making the same web calls as Steam users to run a gambling business is not allowed by our API nor our user agreements.Steam's user agreement includes a passage that forbids "exploiting the Content and Services or any of its parts for any commercial purpose, except as expressly permitted elsewhere in this Agreement." The company won't block these websites, but says it will begin cracking down on them -- by sending them cease and desist notices.
Graphics

'Linux vs Windows' Challenge: Phoronix Tests Popular Games (phoronix.com) 141

An anonymous reader writes: Michael Larabel at Phoronix has combined their new results from intensive Linux/Windows performance testing for popular games on Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA graphics cards, and at different resolutions. "This makes it easy to see the Linux vs. Windows performance overall or for games where the Linux ports are simply rubbish and performing like crap compared to the native Windows game." The games tested included Xonotic, Tomb Raider, Grid Autosport, Dota 2, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, F1 2015, and Company of Heroes 2 -- and the results were surprising.

Xonotic v0.8 outperformed Windows with a NVIDIA card, but "The poor Xonotic performance on Linux with the Intel driver was one of the biggest surprises from yesterday's article. It's not anything we've seen with the other drivers." And while testing on the Source 2 engine revealed that Valve's Dota 2 "is a quality Linux port," most of the other results were disappointing -- regardless of the graphics card and driver. "Tomb Raider on Linux performs much worse than the Windows build regardless of your driver/graphics card... Shadow of Mordor's relative Linux performance is more decent than many other Linux games albeit still isn't running at the same speeds as the Windows games..."

The article concludes with a note of optimism. "Hopefully in due time with the next generation of games making use of Vulkan...we'll see better performance relative to Windows." Have Slashdot readers seen any performance issues while playing games on Linux?
The Courts

Valve Faces Lawsuit Over Video Game Gambling (bloomberg.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bloomberg: Valve's Counterstrike: Global Offensive game is being sued for its role in the multibillion-dollar gambling economy that has fueled the game's popularity. Michael John McLeod filed a lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut alleging that Valve violated gambling laws and engaged in racketeering with a handful of off-shore gambling companies. McLeod, who has been gambling on CS:GO since 2014, is asking for class-action status for the suit. The suit was first reported by Polygon and doesn't give a specific request for damages, nor does it say how much money he lost by betting on the site. According to Bloomberg: "Valve provided for money, technical support, and advice to such websites as CSGO Lounge and Diamonds, which take bets, and OPSkins, which runs a market where virtual goods are traded and can be redeemed for cash." Valve has yet to respond to the suit.
Books

Hacker Who Stole Half-Life 2's Source Code Interviewed For New Book (arstechnica.com) 192

"Can you love a game so much you must take its sequel?" asks Ars Technica, posting an excerpt from the new book "Death By Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline." At 6am on May 7, 2004, Axel Gembe awoke in the small German town of Schonau im Schwarzwald to find his bed surrounded by police officers bearing automatic weapons... "You are being charged with hacking into Valve Corporation's network, stealing the video game Half-Life 2, leaking it onto the Internet, and causing damages in excess of $250 million... Get dressed..." The corridors were lined by police, squeezed into his father's house...
Gembe had tried creating homegrown keystroke-recorders specifically targeted at Valve, according to the book, but then poking around their servers he'd discovered one which wasn't firewalled from the internal network. Gembe spent several weeks discovering notes and design documents, until eventually he stumbled onto the latest version of the unreleased game's source code. He'd never meant for the code to be leaked onto the internet -- but he did share it with another person who did. ("I didn't think it through. The person I shared the source with assured me he would keep it to himself. He didn't...")

Eventually Gembe contacted Valve, apologized, and asked them for a job -- which led to a fake 40-minute job interview designed to gather enough evidence to arrest him. But ultimately a judge sentenced him to two years probation -- and Half-Life 2 went on to sell 8.6 million copies.
Bitcoin

Steam Computer Gaming Network Now Accepting Bitcoin (fortune.com) 54

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fortune Magazine: The popular Steam computer game network has started accepting bitcoin in a move aimed at making it easier for players in countries like Brazil and China to make payments. Bitcoin transactions will be integrated into game shopping from Steam, which is owned by Valve Software and claims over 100 million users worldwide. Users will be able to use any bitcoin wallet to scan and pay for games or other items without revealing sensitive financial information via software from Bitpay.
Media

Valve Inks Deal With Lionsgate Adding Over 100 Movie Titles To Steam Platform (hothardware.com) 117

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Valve took a major step in growing its Steam digital distribution platform today by adding movie rentals to the mix. The addition of movies to Steam's catalog is a first, and it was made possible through a deal with Lionsgate Entertainment that immediately fleshes out the service with more than 100 flicks. Steam is currently the biggest digital distribution platform for games, and while it has a long way to go before it can claim the same for movies, there's little doubt Valve wants to take it there. In a press release announcing the deal, Valve said Lionsgate was "one of the first major studios to license films" for streaming on Steam, which hints that it's attempting to lure other studios as well. You can view the entire catalog here.
Bug

Steam Hacker Says More Vulnerabilities Will Be Found (arstechnica.com) 37

An anonymous reader shares an article on Ars Technica: The teenager who grabbed headlines earlier this week for hacking a fake game listing on to Valve's Steam store says there are "definitely" more vulnerabilities to be found in the popular game distribution service. But he won't be the one to find them, thanks to what he sees as Valve "giv[ing] so little of a shit about people's [security] findings." Ruby Nealon, a 16-year-old university student from England, says that probing various corporate servers for vulnerabilities has been a hobby of his since the age of 11. His efforts came to the attention of Valve (and the wider world) after an HTML-based hack let him post a game called "Watch paint dry" on Steam without Valve's approval over the weekend."It looks like their website hasn't been updated for years," Nealon told Ars. "Compared to even other smaller Web startups, they're really lacking. This stuff was like the lowest of the lowest hanging fruit."
Australia

Valve Loses Australian Court Battle Over Steam (computerworld.com.au) 178

angry tapir writes: Valve Software has lost court action launched against it by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The Australian court case centered on the refund policies of Valve Software's Steam digital distribution service. Some of Steam's refund policies contradicted the statutory guarantees of the Australian Consumer Law, the court found. A hearing on penalties is yet to be held.
Such "false or misleading representations about guarantees" include: consumers were not entitled to a refund for digitally downloaded games purchased from Valve via the Steam website or Steam Client (in any circumstances); Valve had excluded statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality; and Valve had restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties of acceptable quality. Valve has contested ACCC's arguments on a number of grounds.
Bug

Researcher Uses Valve Security Bug To Upload Paint Drying Game On Steam (softpedia.com) 48

An anonymous reader writes: A security researcher found two bypasses in Valve's game review process that eventually allowed him to publish Steam Trading Cards and a full game on the Steam Store called "Watch Paint Dry" (reference to this case from last month involving the British film censors). The game was supposed to be an April Fools' Day prank, but the researcher forgot to set a release date, and [the game] was published on the Steam Store last weekend. Valve has fixed the security bypass in the meantime. These bypasses were extremely dangerous since they allowed anyone to publish games on the Store (possibly containing malware) without a Valve employee ever taking a look at them, or knowing they went through the review process.

Slashdot Top Deals