Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Minecraft? More like Microcraft! (Score 1) 203

I'm reasonably certain that Markus, being pretty green as far as being in the engineering driver's seat of a multi-million dollar company goes, could very easily be led to believe that a blanket exclusive contract for consoles would be standard when in fact it is not. The port is likely being outsourced to 4J Studios because 4J has experience in cross-platform development, and as such would be more than equipped to handle porting a relatively small codebase from Java and OGL to C++ and a DX-like API.

With regard to your snide comment about Microsoft having "25 million users that can't even plug in a mouse", it's readily apparent that you were spoiling for some kind of nerd-fight. The entire remainder of your post is nothing more than nerd-rage directed at a straw man that you constructed (Steam) that has nothing to do with the matter at hand (exclusivity to consoles), following anecdotal evidence as to the fact that you enjoyed a few XBLIG games, therefore the market is clearly not that bad.

Regarding being "full of crap" and being "bitter", it sounds like you're just projecting. I've seen things from the inside of EA, I've seen things from the inside of Activision, and I've seen things from the standpoint of an indie developer. Overall I have over 10 titles under my belt, the majority of which were not done as an indie developer, so I do know what I'm talking about. It's unfortunate that you're so insecure that the fact that someone might actually know more about a subject than you sends you into an accusatory froth. I pity you.

Comment Minecraft? More like Microcraft! (Score 4, Interesting) 203

I'll explain the title of my post towards the end. Regarding the two digital-distribution marketplaces that Microsoft maintain, however, Microsoft are so schizophrenic with regard to how they operate both XBLA and XBLIG that it's rather stomach-churning.

The fact of the matter is that when the Xbox 360 originally came out, you would see maybe 1 to 2 titles every 1 to 2 weeks released on XBLA. XBLA was touted as the way for smaller, more "indie" development houses to develop games on the X360 platform without having to deal with all of the ins and outs of manufacturing, distribution, and more restrictive technical certification requirements that come with a disc-based game. Microsoft were highly selective over the titles that would be released on XBLA, and for good reason - they needed an online marketplace with many "strong" titles and few "weak" ones.

After so many "indie" development houses complained that they were not being allowed to market such obvious smash hits as "Try Not To Fart" or "Controller Vibrator 2000" - note the intended sarcasm - Microsoft created the XBLIG marketplace, touting that as the new place for smaller, more "indie" development houses to put games onto the X360 platform.

This went well for perhaps 6 to 12 months, with a few particularly good indie games making their way to the top of the XBLIG charts, and all of the undeserving fluff and blatant cash grabs fell to the bottom of the pile, at which point the wheels fell off. Microsoft felt the need to take things in a third direction, now choosing to "upgrade" specific XBLIG dev houses to XBLA contracts.

In doing so, they signed the death warrant for both XBLA and XBLIG. Removing the more polished indie dev houses from the XBLIG marketplace ensured that XBLIG continues to play second fiddle to XBLA, but more importantly, it means that the XBLA marketplace is now flooded with "lesser" games that would otherwise have remained on the XBLIG marketplace (and for good reason). Now, it is much more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff on the XBLA marketplace, and there is no wheat on the XBLIG marketplace.

Despite all of this, Microsoft insist that they are "top dog" regarding their digital marketplaces, to the point of taking blatant advantage over dev houses they perceive as "smaller" when those dev houses come a-knocking to try to get their games released on XBLA. In the case of Minecraft, the sad fact is that the Xbox 360 is the only console (handhelds excluded) on which it will be released, specifically because Microsoft forced Mojang into an exclusive contract. The entire matter is sickening.

Comment Re:Uhh, the games? (Score 1) 155

That's one decision, and it's also the only 'emulation' decision I can find doing a full text search of Nimmer on Copyright. That's not "many cases," as claimed. Also, there's no real discussion in Connectix with regards to the actual act of emulation; Connectix constrained its analysis to the issue of copying of Sony's BIOS for the purpose of building/testing the emulator. Not saying it's not 'good' law, but it's not very 'strong' law; it may even be dicta.

I can't offer any specific counterpoints with regard to the strength of the ruling as it pertains to the legality of emulators themselves, but I believe one could make a compelling argument that the specific wording of the ruling implies prima facie that emulation is legal by virtue of the unusually specific wording that implies that Connectix's product is non-infringing, thus (if more case law could be established, and I suppose that's the whole point) implying that emulation itself is legal, in lieu of any other infringing activities (cf. BIOS images, ROM images, et al).

The current Oracle / Google case could prove interesting, as emulation of especially modern environments to me seems roughly akin to implementing an API (which Oracle is claiming can be copyrighted). Example, to build a vintage Macintosh emulator, it's not enough to implement the 68000-series opcodes, you'd also have to in some way implement QuickDraw and the rest of the Toolbox...

I would disagree. IANAL (though I was raised by one, and Black's Law Dictionary made great toilet reading at age 9), but I am a MAME developer in my spare time, and I can speak directly on the subject of emulating a vintage Macintosh. From the standpoint of the emulator, there is nothing other than the originating address that would imply that it is running its boot ROM versus software loaded off of the disc, and any modern emulator would be sufficiently generic to not have any meaningful behavior (other than ignoring the write if a program tries to write to ROM) based on the source address of a read or write. Therefore, there is nothing meaningfully different in behavior between the original boot ROM and a piece of software running thereupon, from which one can reasonably deduce that there is nothing different between the boot ROM and a piece of software other than the means of loading it into the emulated machine's memory map. On the contrary to your statement, a vintage (pre Macintosh-II) Macintosh emulator, stripped of emulation framework that isn't Macintosh-specific (so, the VIA peripheral controller, SCC8530 serial controller, and a few other off-the-shelf components) would be little other than a simple bitmapped display and a little bit of glue logic for interrupts and battery-backed system parameters.

Comment Re:Uhh, the games? (Score 2) 155

Your honor, the defense cites Sony v. Connectix:

Although the case in question pertains to whether or not Connectix as a whole were engaging in copyright infringement by way of having "intermediate copies" of the BIOS for the original Sony Playstation, I would submit that the following statement in Judge Canby's ruling on the case is pretty definitive regarding both the legality of emulators as well as the subject matter (trademarks) with regard to which Atari are sending out C&Ds, though it has not been tried in and of itself:

"The intermediate copies made and used by Connectix during the course of its reverse engineering of the Sony BIOS were protected fair use, necessary to permit Connectix to make its non-infringing Virtual Game Station function with PlayStation games. Any other intermediate copies made by Connectix do not support injunctive relief, even if those copies were infringing. The district court also found that Sony is likely to prevail on its claim that Connectix’s sale of the Virtual Game Station program tarnishes the Sony PlayStation mark under 15 U.S.C. Section 1125. We reverse that ruling as well." [emphasis mine]

Comment Re:But will it be fun... (Score 1) 259

Having worked for the company - and specific studio - that's doing Call of Duty for the Vita, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's going to be unmitigated trash. Activision has damn near every studio of theirs under the sun working on some port or other of Call of Duty, but unless the studio is Infinity Ward, it's almost universally crap. Mark my words, Call of Duty will go the way of Guitar Hero within two years if Activision gets its way.

Comment Re:Finally, something that doesn't record in 720p. (Score 1) 259

Consoles, assuming they were engineered properly, are much more efficient with their RAM than computers are. I'm not current on such things, but typically in the past you'd be dealing with units of bits and as such you wouldn't be wasting as much as you'd end up wasting with a typical computer. Traditionally the same goes with storage space as well.

That is such a ridiculously inaccurate statement regarding how consoles handle RAM that I don't even know where to begin. "Dealing with units of bits"? Are you fucking stoned? Mod parent down.

Comment Re:For one, not every blind human can handle that. (Score 1) 98

Oh, goodie, another idiotic troll to pick apart! Hey, Captain Asperger's, did it occur to you that maybe the guy to whom you were replying mis-used the term "don't feel like going to classes" for the more understandable "lack the time or money to be able to go to a class"? I'm curious, are you volunteering to pay all the legally-blind people in the world with day jobs and busy schedules to attend the class? If not, shut the fuck up, you pathetic trolling piece of shit.

Comment Re:For one, not every blind human can handle that. (Score 1) 98

Are you one of those people who, when they find something new, cannot resist the urge to say why it is wrong? 'Blind people who don't feel like attending a class?' What?

Troll. You dropped a textual deuce all over the device listed in the article, then when someone pointed out more than one use case in which the device listed in the article could be useful, suddenly the other person is the one who "cannot resist the urge to say why it is wrong". Piss off.

Comment Re:One desktop does not a market make (Score 1) 591

Which is not what the question was at all. I don't care.

On top of that as indie game studios now often support linux, I am not sure you are correct.

As most indie game "studios" are groups of people working out of an apartment if working in the same physical location at all, I feel that your conflation of indie game studios with what an average person would term "real" game developers whose staff typically exceeds 50 people in one location is disingenuous at best.

Comment Re:Yeah, and I am a Pony (Score 3, Informative) 291

They claim they can do in realtime what you say is impossible. Now, if you don't actually have any technical argument, I'll take the view of an expert: John Carmack does not think it is a scam. That said, there are big always big challenges to go from the tech demo to the finished product for sure and they are unlikely to make it especially in the current game market which is already struggling to create content.

Here, kid, as an actual graphics programmer, I'm translate Carmack's producer- and marketing-approved Twitter into plain, run-of-the-mill English for the simple-minded:

Statement: "No chance of a game on current gen systems, but maybe several years from now."

Translation: "No chance of a game on current-gen systems, nor what will be the next generation, as Wii U devkits have already been seeded to developers and it'd be foolish to think that Sony or Microsoft are very far behind. Insofar as nobody, not even me, can really predict what the game industry will be like in a year let alone several years, it's a pretty safe bet to say that it will *maybe* happen several years from now."

Statement: "Production issues will be challenging."

Translation: "It will be quite difficult to produce any real game out of this, being as it clearly appears to lack any shading model other than simple diffuse lighting and don't appear to have any kind of programmable materials pipeline whatsoever."

Comment Did 50 people lose their jobs for nothing? (Score 3, Insightful) 144

50 people lost their jobs from Vicarious Visions in Mendands, NY with the death of the Guitar Hero franchise on February 9th. The cited reason in the termination paperwork was the elimination of the Guitar Hero "Business Unit". The sad fact is that Vicarious Visions was in the process of reviving the franchise - injecting it with the "creativity" and "inspired innovation" that Kotick bemoans the series lacking due to Neversoft's mis-handling, the same innovation and creativity that it will never have again now that all of the creative people who were to see the series through to its subsequent release in 2012 have been laid off, in perhaps the most hush-hush manner ever surrounding a game's utter implosion. It's easy to connect the dots as to what Activision were doing - observe Neversoft's staffing cupboard being laid bare by their corporate overlords, and the flocking of specific audio people and Neversoft staff to the Capital region. Observe the sudden uptick in hiring over the past 24 months.

Do note, please, that all of the rank-and-file employees who had been in the industry for more than a few years and hadn't yet drank the corporate Kool-Aid could see the writing on the wall years before the franchise started to flag. It was plainly obvious that Guitar Hero was never anything more than a quizzical curio of the executives, one that had materialized a billion dollars into their net worth for no good reason that any of their MBAs, marketing research, or "producers" could cite, but one that people appeared to want in record numbers. As they saw it, perhaps without realizing it, the series was one to be expanded, not honed - mass-produced, not polished. Guitar Hero, in the land of business-people, was to become as ubiquitous as the Wii, the Xbox, or Playstation - they wanted Guitar Hero to be come not a game, but a platform, and any gamer worth his or her salt can tell you that that is impossible. You reach market saturation, you polish for one iteration or perhaps two if demand does not flag, you move on. The fact, however, that (again) any gamer can tell you is that unless you have a brand that is couched in gamer culture that existed well prior to the introduction of Internet connectivity at large - compare to Mario or Madden, as even the Sonic franchise has become lackluster in light of its lack of pre-90's roots - people will not remain interested for more than a few years at best. A new fad comes along, staff turnover comes along, new hardware comes along, and with new things people want new franchises.

The sad fact is that the employees who balked at the notion of monetizing the Guitar Hero series were met with harsh reprimands - money is a cruel mistress, and it can make people do cruel things without even realizing it. Certainly, when one drives a new car into work and shuts that door for the first time in front of his coworkers, one would never admit that it could all come crashing down within six months, 12, 24 or ever. Employees that balked the loudest were laid off the soonest as the music/rhythm franchise began its inexorable decline, while those who praised every iteration, every minute variant were richly rewarded for their sycophantic loyalty.

The sad fact here is that there are no winners or losers, now, at the sad end of The Music/Rhythm Wars. Konami's interest level in polishing the Revolution and Freaks series seems to have ended long ago, Power Gig was a failure, Rock Band 3 sold worse than Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, roughly 500 people across different Activision studios lost their jobs in one go when Activision officially announced the termination of the Guitar Hero business unit, not to mention the studio closings and down-sizing occurring over the past two years - likely as an attempt to keep the Guitar Hero franchise afloat as it hemorrhaged money, Harmonix were sold off by Viacom for $50 and the assumption of their considerable debts - this after having their $150 million performance-based bonus requested to be returned as a result of their lack of meeting said performance. It is a sad story all around, with everyone losing. People have lost their jobs. Gamers have lost ongoing downloadable content for games that some of them loved until the day the games died. Money has been lost. People have moved across the country, some multiple times, only to have their lives turned upside-down within months. Yet, at the end of it all, Robert Kotick has the audacity to claim that the series "needs innovation" despite the fact that people who were specifically in the process of doing just that were released from his employ in February of this year.

Whether through sheer ignorance, misinformation by underlings or outright callousness, Kotick is a genuinely evil man who is wholly out of touch with gaming. His ignorant comments were a source of amusement to people when they were under his employ, but for those same people these same words have become a flaming rapier thrusting deeply into the gut of everyone who is now unemployed due to his and his hand-picked underlings' utter mismanagement of the franchise. It would be pointless, perhaps, to suggest that a man with no shame should be seized with a sudden attack of the deepest and most paralyzing shame that he has ever felt in his life - but indeed, if it were possible, it would have occurred the moment he made these comments in the article.

Slashdot Top Deals

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.