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PC Games (Games)

Valve Releases Updated Alien Swarm For Free With Code Base 164

baronvoncarson tips news that today Valve released an updated version of Alien Swarm, a popular Unreal Tournament 2004 total conversion mod. The creators of the mod were hired by Valve, and they've helped turn it into a stand-alone game running on the Source engine. Valve is also releasing the code base for Alien Swarm and an SDK. The game is available for free on Steam.
PC Games (Games)

OnLive CEO On Post-Launch Status, Game Licenses 121

CNET has a lengthy interview with OnLive CEO Steve Perlman about how the service is shaping up almost a month after launch. Demand seems to have outstripped their expectations, and it required some quick server expansion to compensate. He also addresses a common concern among gamers — that the licenses for games could expire in three years. Perlman says, "It's less of an issue about the licenses evaporating, and more of an issue of whether or not we continue to maintain the operating systems and the graphics cards to run those games. If a game is tied to a particular Nvidia or ATI card, or if it's relying on a particular version of Windows with different drivers, we can't be sure that those will continue to be available as our servers age and need to be replaced. If it's a popular game that can't run on old hardware anymore, the publishers can do an upgrade for the game. Also, servers usually do last longer than three years, so chances are we'll keep running them. But we have a legal obligation to disclose what might happen. I think the probability of us pulling a game in three years is on the order of 0.1 percent. It's also highly unlikely that a game server will evaporate after three years, but we have to allow for that possibility." He also goes into future plans for expanding OnLive, both in terms of the content they offer and the devices they may support. The Digital Foundry blog followed up the latency tests we discussed with a full review, if you'd like an unbiased opinion of the service.
Businesses

BioWare On Why Making a Blockbuster Game Is a Poor Goal 192

BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk spoke at the 2010 Develop Conference about the current focus within the video game industry on making huge, blockbuster titles, and why that is the wrong approach. Quoting Gamasutra's coverage: "'While blockbuster game creation is everything that most game developers working today growing up wanted to do, it's precisely the wrong thing to chase in gaming's contemporary landscape.' Risk-taking from publishers and investors has dramatically declined in recent times, the Mass Effect and Dragon Age studio-runner noted: 'As a result, innovation and creativity [are] being squeezed. Where the bottom of the market had dropped out at one point, now it’s the middle of the market has dropped out. Unless you can be in the top ten releases at one given time, it's unlikely that a triple-A game is going to make money.'" Zeschuk also commented that consoles aren't necessarily the future of game platforms, and that BioWare is experimenting with smaller scale MMO development in addition to working on their much larger upcoming Star Wars title.
Star Wars Prequels

Big Changes Planned For The Force Unleashed 2 100

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed debuted in 2008 to less than stellar reviews, but sales of the game were strong. A sequel for the game is due out in October, and the developers spoke at length with the Guardian's Games blog about the improvements they've been working on. One of their priorities was adding depth to the combat system to make it less of a button-mash. "The team has completely redesigned all the familiar Force powers from the first title including Force Push and Force Grip, and has added a few newcomers including the potentially amusing Force Mind Trick that'll allow you to trick Storm Troopers into leaping from high ledges." Enemy AI is another area that's getting some love, and they're trying to make level design more open and less linear. The team's confidence in the changes they're making stems in part from much greater familiarity with their game-building tools. "Like its predecessor, Force Unleashed 2 will combine three third-party physics engines, Havok, Euphoria and Digital Molecular Matter, to provide cutting edge human animation, materials effects and authentic physical forces. ... 'Whenever you're building the first iteration [of a game series] and a brand new game engine at the same time, everything comes in hot and fast – we were literally figuring out how to get the most out of those three technologies all the way up to shipping. The DLC then helped us to learn more, and that knowledge has given us the biggest leap forward.'" A trailer for the game was released at E3.
It's funny.  Laugh.

ESRB Exposes Emails of Gamers Who Filed Privacy Complaints 75

simrook writes, "Many people filed privacy complaints with the ESRB over Blizzard's recent (and afterward recanted) move to require the display of users' real life names on Blizzard's official forums. 961 of those complainants had their email addresses exposed in the ESRB's response." The response itself didn't go into the organization's thoughts on Blizzard's plan, but they explained to the Opposable Thumbs blog that anonymity isn't a huge concern to them, as long as users are given the opportunity to opt out. "The role of the ESRB Privacy Online program is to make sure that member websites—those that display our seal on their pages — are compliant with an increasingly complex series of privacy protection laws and are offering a secure space for users to interact and do business online. ... But online privacy protection doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as anonymity. It's about making sure that websites collecting personal information from users are doing so not only in accordance with federal regulations but also with best practices for protecting individuals' personal information online."
Role Playing (Games)

Dragon Age 2 Announced 183

Today BioWare announced a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, titled Dragon Age 2. They've opened an official site for the game, which shares some vague details and concept art, and promises a trailer in mid-August. The story will apparently span an entire decade and involve a new hero, but it will be located in the same world as the original game. The site says there will be "dynamic new combat mechanics," though the same three basic classes will be available. More information should be forthcoming in this month's issue of Game Informer.
Networking

OnLive Latency Tested 204

The Digital Foundry blog has done an analysis of recently launched cloud gaming service OnLive, measuring latency across several different games. Quoting: "In a best-case scenario, we counted 10 frames delay between button and response on-screen, giving a 150ms latency once the display's contribution to the measurement was removed. Unreal Tournament III worked pretty well in sustaining that response during gameplay. However, other tests were not so consistent, with DiRT 2 weighing in at 167ms-200ms while Assassin's Creed II operated at a wide range of between 150ms-216ms. ... OnLive says that the system works within 1000 miles of its datacenters on any broadband connection and recommends 5mbps or better. We gave OnLive the best possible ISP service we could find: Verizon FiOS, offering a direct fiber optic connection to the home. Latency was also reduced still further simply due to the masses of bandwidth FiOS offers compared to bog standard ADSL: in our case, 25mbps."
Security

A Flood of Stable Linux Kernels Released 105

Julie188 writes "Greg Kroah-Hartman has released five new stable Linux kernels, correcting minor errors of their predecessors and including improvements which are unlikely to generate new errors. As so often with kernel versions in the stable series, it remains undisclosed if the new versions contain changes which fix security vulnerabilities, although the number of changes and some of the descriptions of those changes certainly suggest that all the new versions contain security fixes."
Communications

Solar-Powered Flight Grounded By Equipment Bug 28

crimeandpunishment writes "If your plane is powered by the sun, it's tough to fly if your crew is in the dark. A 24-hour test flight for the world's first solar-powered round-the-world flight had to be postponed Thursday due to an equipment problem that would have left mission control out of touch with the technology on the experimental aircraft. When they're able to make this test flight, they hope by flying all day they'll be able to fully charge the batteries, then use the stored energy to power the plane all night."
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Finally Turning a Profit On PS3s 117

When the PS3 launched in 2006, estimates pegged the price of producing the consoles to be as much as $250 more than the price at which they were sold. Production costs have dropped since then, but there have been several price cuts as well. Now, almost four years later, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida says they're finally turning a profit on the hardware. "This year is the first time that we are able to cover the cost of the PlayStation 3,' Yoshida said. 'We aren't making huge money from hardware, but we aren't bleeding like we used to.' In May, Sony began shipping new PlayStation 3 consoles with smaller and more cost-effective graphics chips. Now, Yoshida said, Sony is looking at replenishing retail stock that has been running on empty since January rather than cutting the price. 'When we bring the cost of hardware down, we are looking at opportunities to adjust prices if we believe that will increase demand,' he explained. 'At the moment, we are trying to catch up our production.'"
Advertising

APB To Use In-Game Audio Advertisements 97

Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports that upcoming action MMOG APB: All Points Bulletin will use in-game audio advertisements as part of its business model. The number of ads you hear will be limited: "you'll only hear an ad when you go into a new zone, and that's only once every three hours." Nevertheless, some gamers are upset that these ads will be included on top of APB's already unusual payment plans. The game is set for release next Tuesday. Producer Jesse Knapp says of Realtime Worlds' goals for APB, "We looked at other online action games, and we saw things we felt could be better. Only 12 to 32 players in a match, bad connection due to peer-to-peer, dead cities, way too much time in lobbies, things like that. So what we set out to do was to make a game that has that online player vs. player action game experience in a large city with other players around, no lobbies, dynamic matchmaking, dedicated servers, great experience, and that's been one of the driving factors of APB from the very beginning." CVG recently previewed the game.
XBox (Games)

New Xbox 360 S Uses Less Power, Makes Less Noise 176

Vigile writes "Microsoft unveiled a new Xbox 360 S console at E3 this month, and without delay the new machine has been dissected and tested. The most dramatic change is the move to a single-chip CPU/GPU hybrid processor that is apparently being built on the 45nm process technology from GlobalFoundries, AMD's spun-off production facilities. With the inclusion of the new processor, the Xbox 360 S uses much less power (about 30-40%) compared to previous generation machines, and also turns out to be much quieter as a result of a single, larger fan. This article has photographic evidence of the teardown, with comparisons between this Valhalla platform and the older Falcon system, along with videos of the reconstruction process and noise comparisons." The new console also takes measures to protect itself from overheating, so RRoDs shouldn't be a problem with this revision.
Graphics

Nintendo 3DS GPU Revealed 133

An anonymous reader writes "The GPU for the Nintendo 3DS has just been revealed, and it's not made by Nvidia, ATI, or even Imagination Technologies. Instead, Nintendo has signed up Japanese startup Digital Media Professionals (DMP) in a deal that sees the company's PICA200 chip churning out the 3-D visuals. For the first time in Nintendo's history, the 3DS will feature a GPU with programmable shaders, rather than a fixed-function pipeline, meaning the 3DS is more graphically versatile than the Wii. Among the PICA200's features are 2x anti-aliasing, per-pixel lighting, subdivision primitives, and soft shadows. As well as featuring DMP's own 'Maestro' extensions, the PICA200 also fully supports OpenGL ES 1.1. The architecture supports four programmable vertex units and up to four pixel pipelines."
Wii

New Wii Menu Update Targets Homebrew Again 258

Nintendo has tried to block homebrew during firmware updates in the past, often unsuccessfully. Now, as it rolls out version 4.3 of the Wii System Menu, stopping homebrew modifications once again seems to be its primary goal. From Nintendo's support site: "Because unauthorized channels or firmware may impair game play or the Wii console, updating to Wii Menu version 4.3 will check for and automatically remove such unauthorized files." Since it's hard to bill that as an upgrade, they vaguely add, "In addition, there are some behind the scenes enhancements that do not affect any prominently-used features or menus but will improve system performance."
Linux Business

Is LGP Going the Way of Loki Software? 124

An anonymous reader writes "After the demise of Loki Software, Linux Game Publishing sprouted up in its place, and for the past nine years has ported a number of games to Linux. But LGP may now be sharing the same fate as Loki. Linux Game Publishing hasn't updated its blog or news pages in months, has stopped responding to e-mails, and its only active ports are games they began work on in 2002/2003."

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