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Games

Balancing Choice With Irreversible Consequences In Games 352

The Moving Pixels blog has an article about the delicate balance within video games between giving players meaningful choices and consequences that cannot necessarily be changed if the player doesn't like her choice afterward. Quoting: "One of my more visceral experiences in gaming came recently while playing Mass Effect 2, in which a series of events led me to believe that I'd just indirectly murdered most of my crew. When the cutscenes ended, I was rocking in my chair, eyes wide, heart pounding, and as control was given over to me once more, I did the only thing that I thought was reasonable to do: I reset the game. This, of course, only led to the revelation that the event was preordained and the inference that (by BioWare's logic) a high degree of magical charisma and blue-colored decision making meant that I could get everything back to normal. ... Charitably, I could say BioWare at least did a good job of conditioning my expectations in such a way that the game could garner this response, but the fact remains: when confronted with a consequence that I couldn't handle, my immediate player's response was to stop and get a do-over. Inevitability was only something that I could accept once it was directly shown to me."
Piracy

Call of Duty: Black Ops the Most Pirated Game of the Year 5

Torrentfreak reports that after calculating download frequency for pirated copies of popular video games, Call of Duty: Black Ops has won the dubious honor of being the most pirated game of 2010. The PC version of the game was torrented roughly 4,270,000 times, and the Xbox 360 version was downloaded an additional 930,000 times. (The most pirated Wii game was Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Dante's Inferno somehow managed to accrue the most downloads of Xbox 360 games.) Fortunately for Activision, the game has still made over $1 billion in sales, and its 20,000,000+ players have racked up over 600,000,000 man-hours of play time since the game's launch in early November.
Television

The Future of Web Video At Stake In Comcast-NBC Regulatory Review 121

Phoghat writes with this excerpt from the Washington Post: "It won't be long before video from the Internet is always within reach — whether it's on a smart phone, a tablet computer or a high-end television in your living room. But what if there's nothing worth watching? ... Regulators are pushing for tough conditions to ensure that Comcast can't stifle online video services by withholding content or pushing up prices for marquee NBC programs at a time viewers are starting to turn to the Internet for recent movies or the latest episodes of 'Saturday Night Live,' '30 Rock' and other popular TV shows. The concessions they extract from Comcast in its bid for NBC will help determine whether customers can someday realistically drop their cable subscriptions and go online-only for their TV. ... Comcast has been resisting federal regulators' efforts to tear down some of those walls, arguing that those efforts are unnecessary because NBC Universal accounts for about 10 percent of television viewing in the US and less than 10 percent of US box office revenue — and is therefore too small to dictate how the industry will develop."

Comment Most boring day for posts (Score 1) 186

All these replies from people mentioning events that happened on this day in order to try to invalidate the claim that this wasn't the most boring day in history, and yet none of these are offering any suggestion of which day is a better contender. Please don't just say "this cannot be the most boring day because [insert random event] happened on this day!" and think you are clever without offering a new day which could take its place.

Space

X-37B Secret Space Plane To Land Soon 252

Phoghat writes "The highly classified X-37B Space Plane is scheduled to land soon. It was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on April 22 atop an Atlas 5 rocket, and the Air Force is still being very secretive on all aspects of the flight. We do know that it's set to touch down at Vandenberg Air Force Base's 15,000-foot runway, originally built for the Space Shuttle program. In many ways, the craft resembles a Shuttle with stubby wings, landing gear and a powerful engine that allows the craft to alter its orbit (much to the dismay of many observers on the ground). Its success has apparently given new life to its predecessor, the X-34, which had been mothballed."
Software

CDE — Making Linux Portability Easy 385

ihaque writes "A Stanford researcher, Philip Guo, has developed a tool called CDE to automatically package up a Linux program and all its dependencies (including system-level libraries, fonts, etc!) so that it can be run out of the box on another Linux machine without a lot of complicated work setting up libraries and program versions or dealing with dependency version hell. He's got binaries, source code, and a screencast up. Looks to be really useful for large cluster/cloud deployments as well as program sharing. Says Guo, 'CDE is a tool that automatically packages up the Code, Data, and Environment involved in running any Linux command so that it can execute identically on another computer without any installation or configuration. The only requirement is that the other computer have the same hardware architecture (e.g., x86) and major kernel version (e.g., 2.6.X) as yours. CDE allows you to easily run programs without the dependency hell that inevitably occurs when attempting to install software or libraries. You can use CDE to allow your colleagues to reproduce and build upon your computational experiments, to quickly deploy prototype software to a compute cluster, and to submit executable bug reports.'"
Education

Best Education Path To Learn Video Game Programming? 240

Proudrooster writes "Fellow Slashdotters, I have transitioned to teaching and my students have asked me what is the best path to take to work in the video game programming industry. Which would be of more benefit: pursing a Computer Science degree or taking an accelerated program like those at FullSail? I have a CS degree, and suspect that the CS degree would be of more benefit in the long run, but I would like anyone in the industry to share their wisdom and experience with my students trying to follow in your footsteps. If you could recommend some programs in your replies it would be appreciated." A couple other questions that might help those students: what non-academic methods would you recommend to students looking for a career in the games industry? What projects and tools are good starting points for learning the ropes?
Image

Plagiarism Inc. 236

Here's an interesting article on the life and times of 24-year-old Jordan Kavoosi, who has made a business of plagiarism. His Essay Writing Company employs writers from across the country, and will deliver a paper on any subject for $23 per page. In addition, his company will get it done in 48 hours, and he guarantees at least a B grade or your money back. From the article: "'Sure it's unethical, but it's just a business,' Kavoosi explains. 'I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved.'"
Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings Online To Go Free-To-Play 138

darkwing_bmf sends word of Turbine's announcement that Lord of the Rings Online will become a free-to-play game this fall. 'The move is another validation of the free-to-play business model, where gamers can play for free and pay real money for virtual goods such as better weapons or decorative gear for their game characters. The business model has been popular in Asia but only recently took off in the US. This move shows the pressure is building on game publishers to shift to the new business model or face declining audiences.' According to a post on the official website, LotRO's micro-transaction system will be "very similar" to how Turbine's DDO store works, and current subscribers will maintain all of their privileges.
PlayStation (Games)

US Air Force To Suffer From PS3 Update 349

tlhIngan writes "The US Air Force, having purchased PS3s for supercomputing research, is now the latest victim of Sony's removal of the Install Other OS feature. It turns out that while their PS3s don't need the firmware update, it will be impossible to replace PS3s that fail. PS3s with the Other OS feature are no longer produced since the Slim was introduced, so replacements will have to come from the existing stock of used PS3s. However, as most gamers have probably updated their PS3s, that used stock is no longer suitable for the USAF's research. In addition, smaller educational clusters using PS3s will share the same fate — unable to replace machines that die in their clusters." In related news, Sony has been hit with two more lawsuits over this issue.

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