KDR_11k writes: After the initial lag analysis Digital Foundry went back to OnLive and tested more aspects of it. While the latency may be comparable to console games the stream quality, framerate and graphics settings are fairly bad and the pricing on the service and games not competitive.
Probably the most damning aspect is what getting that level of performance from your home PC would cost: "Of course, in terms of overall value for money, OnLive says you don't require any specific gaming hardware and you'll never need to upgrade, so this in itself sounds like you're making a massive saving, but the fact is that the PC required to run the system isn't insignificant. Unless you're running on a laptop, upgrading it with a relatively inexpensive graphics card will offer an overall gameplay experience that effortlessly beats OnLive on quality and response. Perhaps by the time expensive next-generation hardware is unleashed upon us OnLive's value proposition will increase accordingly, but until then the value just isn't there."
KDR_11k writes: Kernel Panic, a free RTS using the Spring engine, has been updated to version 3.6 with the beginnings of proper missions and music added. The game lets you fight with bits, bugs, packets and more in a Tron-like environment both single and multiplayer. This is in addition to the Spring engine version 0.80.2 coming out a day prior.
While there is no Linux installer due to a lack of Linux-using volunteers yet it can be played on Linux by downloading the game data and the engine separately.
KDR_11k writes: The Total Annihilation-inspired/compatible F/OSS Spring RTS Engine has reached release 0.77b5. The engine has a large number of mods and games that can be played of it, some of which may be familiar to old TA veterans. Currently most of it is multiplayer-only but a lobby client for the online server is provided that will also download any content you want using a Bittorrent system. Who said P2P is only good for piracy?
KDR_11k writes: The opensource (GPL) RTS Engine Spring has seen the release of the long awaited 0.76b1 version. The changelog for this version alone is one third the size of the changelog since the first public release (maybe it just got more verbose). One major change that you can see is the inclusion of multiple mods in the installer that are downloaded at demand as well as an extended map selection (also downloaded on demand) to allow an easier start into the game. Also notable is a major performance increase for users of DirectX 10 compatible graphics cards.
There is not much available in terms of full playing AIs or singleplayer missions so Spring should be used mostly online against human opponents. The available game modules include the Total Annihilation-derived Balanced Annihilation and XTA, the abstract computer-themed mod Kernel Panic, the WW2 based Spring 1944, Evolution RTS, Gundam RTS and the parody of a common game style, SimBase as well as others available on Unknown Files which hosts pretty much everything related to Spring.
The US has improved in ranking from 53rd place to 49th while its score worsened from 13.00 to 14.50. All G8 nations saw an improvement in their placing (even Russia which the headline singles out as not improving gained 3 places) although many had score increases. China, despite hosting the Olympic Games next year remained stable at its position 163 with 89.00 points, placing it firmly into the bottom ten. Without computing a comparison it looks to me like the average score of the index went up as several countries improved their position on the list despite showing a worse censorship score. Whether this is due to increasing censorship or just different scoring methods is not clear.
A growing trend is censorship against bloggers which are now targeted as well as professional reporters.
While 2006 saw four countries (Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands) tied for first place with a score of 0.50 each, 2007 had only two remaining with a score of 0.75 each, namely Iceland and Finland. Ireland dropped to position 8, score 2.0 and the Netherlands took a severe fall to position 12 with 3.50 points.
KDR_11k writes: In the mod developer community of the opensource Spring RTS engine there is significant confusion about the scope and meaning of the GPL when applied to scripts within mods.
Specifically, the engine has recently added support for mod-side Lua scripts to deal with more complex behaviours that aren't possible with the BOS/COB system (script language taken from Total Annihilation as the engine was originally meant to recreate that game). For these Lua scripts there's a module system called the "gadget handler" that allows Lua scripts to be separated from each other to facilitate copying a feature from one mod (or from code made by people without a mod affiliation) to another without affecting other features. The gadget handler loads these gadgets by going through the directory for them at load time, the files are never mentioned specifically in the code.
The gadget handler as well as most of the available gadgets are licensed under the GPL v2 or later. The Lua code can interface with the COB code (which is binary) and the whole code gets zipped up with the rest of the mod content into a single archive that acts as the package format for the engine (i.e. is not unzipped during installation, the content is loaded directly from the archive).
A large number of modders is confused about the scope of the GPL's derivative work clause in this situation. Will the gadget handler force all gadgets into the GPL? Does the Lua to COB interface make the COB a part of the Lua code? Will GPL code within the mod put the whole mod under the GPL as the mod as a whole can be considered a work? Does the GPL not "jump" to a file that is not explicitely included by or includes a GPL file?
The mods aren't really modifications of any base content as the engine does not contain base content that could be considered a game, they are merely interchangeable modules that provide the units, weapons and other rules for the RTS and so far it is assumed that the GPL does not jump from the engine to the mod. The Lua scripts only implement deviations from the standard formula, a certain amount of RTS gameplay is hardcoded into the engine.
KDR_11k writes: The Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT, the system used for all international bank transfers) is now applying for Safe Harbor protections in the US following a dispute with the EU over handing data to US authorities (of course with subpoenas). EU data protection laws don't allow giving peronal information to other entities without the consent of the person the information is about which already caused the dispute over handing passenger data to US authorities. SWIFT hopes that with these Safe Harbor protections they will no longer be forced to give up information they aren't allowed to but Safe Harbor does not apply to banking organizations. Now it depends on whether SWIFT is a banking institution (they claim they aren't) and whether they are a data processor or controller (they claim the former, apparently data protection laws only apply to the latter).
KDR_11k writes: We often hear about people making money in Second Life but is making money in a social online game really that much different from making money in, say, Poker? Does a game need random elements to be considered gambling or is it the chance to get more money out of it than you invested that makes it gambling? Can't gambling use games that aren't just the traditional random and card games?
Furthermore, in Japan gambling is illegal but they skirt the law by only paying out a form of game money and having separate stores convert that game money to real money. Now we have companies like IGE that can trade your virtual winnings in any MMO into real money. Is the situation similar enough to draw parallels?
How long until the government catches up and starts treating massively multiplayer online games as online gambling or will it never happen?
KDR_11k writes: 1up claims that Famitsu reported Gran Tourismo HD will require all cars to be bought via microtransactions. More specifically, the "classic" package will come with no cars or tracks and the "premium" package will include 30 cars and a measly 2 tracks to race on while additional cars cost between 50 and 100 Yen and tracks go for 200-500 Yen a piece. No pricing was given for the game itself.
Total fabrication or the future of what some may call episodic content?