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Education

Video GameStart Uses Minecraft to Teach Kids Programming (Video 2) 18

As we said last week, "You can't teach all programming by using Minecraft to keep kids interested, but you can use Minecraft, Java, and Eclipse to give them a good start." That's what Tyler Kilgore and his colleagues at GameStart are doing. Watch today's video (number 2), go back to last week's video (number 1) if you missed it, and read both days' transcripts for the full scoop.
Games

Video How and Why the U-Pick Game Marathon Raises Money With Non-Stop Gaming (Video) 34

On June 12 through 14th of this year, the fourth (not "fourth annual," but close) iteration of the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity --“UPickVG IV” for short --will be streaming on an Internet connection near you. The U-Pick crew's volunteers will be playing and broadcasting video games, non-stop, as a fundraiser for Charity Water, a cause they've supported since the beginning. I talked with organizers Stephanie and Grant Kibler from their video-game lounge of a living room about what it takes to broadcast an online gathering like this, and why they've adopted this as an annual event. Hint: some esoteric video-capture hardware helps, and so does a beefy network connection, for high-quality streaming of games that pre-date today's multiplayer, network-oriented options. That's significant, because U-Pick's stable of titles isn't limited to modern ones, and observers are encouraged to suggest appropriate games (hence "U-Pick").The remote viewers' choices and donations influence the event by deciding which games are represented on the Wheel of Destiny that the team spins to decide which games get played.The play itself, though,*is* limited to the players who'll be on hand at a Northern Virginia co-working space that will serve as this year's venue. It turns out to be easier to stream the output of old consoles than it is to control them from remote (never mind the latency that would mean), but maybe one day participants will be able to play as well as shoulder-surf and laugh at the players' running commentary. You can check out the Upick page on Facebook, too, and watch one of their practice runs each Sunday. (Note: Video #1 talks mostly about the game play and how you can join. Video #2 - below - talks more about hardware and behind-the-scenes work.)
Games

Video Project an Interactive Game on Your Floor or Wall (Video) 57

Lumo is an interactive projector. You can use it to bore people with PowerPoint slides or you can use it as a game machine. It has a built-in (low res) camera that can detect a kick (as shown at the beginning of the video) and make a (virtual) ball move as a result of that action. 'But,' you ask, 'do they have an Indiegogo campaign?' Not yet. It launches on March 23.

The Lumo projector was originally designed for commercial use at children's museums and as a trade show attention-getter -- at $10,000 a pop. The consumer version is expected to cost less than $500, according to Lumo CEO (and Slashdot interviewee) Meghan Athavale. And while she doesn't talk much about it in the interview, if you already have a computer, a projector, and a Kinect or webcam, you can buy the a stripped-down version of the company's 'interactive-floor-wall projection' software for $39, plus games or customizable game templates.
Games

Video CES 2014: Ohio Company is Bringing Military-Grade Motion Sensors to Gaming 46

In a town called Portsmouth, Ohio, a company called Yost Engineering (YEI) Technology has quietly been making motion sensing devices for military, aerospace, industrial, robotics, and other commercial motion capture uses, including rotoscoping for the film/video industry. Now they want to bring this same technology to gaming. They tried a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, but only got a little less than 1/2 of their target amount pledged. They're going to do Kickstarter again, starting Feb. 14, 2014 -- and this time, they've been working on PR before asking for money. You can see what they're up to in gaming sensor development at www.priovr.com/. Or go to the main YEI Technology corporate site, which has a whole bunch of free downloads in addition to the usual product blurbs.
Games

Video Emmett Plant Talks About the Paper-Based RPG Game Business (Video) 64

Emmett has a good rep as a video game music composer, and he's worked on a number of Star Trek-related projects, including the recently-released audio book, How to Speak Klingon: Essential Phrases for the Intergalactic Traveler. Emmett freely admits that he has no experience with RPG games. The closest he's come was running a major D&D meetup some years back. But he has experience and contacts developed from many years working online not only within the Star Trek community but (years ago) on Slashdot and as editor for Linux.com. And, he says, when he was a teenager he ran comic book stores. So is Emmett suited to run an RPG company? Possibly. He's actively looking for games to publish. Sales aren't going to start for six months or so, so there is no website for Arrakeen Tactical quite yet. Until there is one, you can contact Emmett about his game venture by emailing angelaATclockworkjetpack.com.
Games

Video Virtuix Omni is a Step Toward True Virtual Reality Gaming (Video) 87

The Virtuix Omni "is an omnidirectional treadmill video game peripheral for virtual reality games currently in development by Virtuix," says Wikipedia. With this device and an Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra or a similar "immersive" headset, you can play games equipped to use these devices with your whole body moving in any direction you choose. If you think you saw this product on the Shark Tank TV show or a pitch for it at Kickstarter.com, you're right. You did. The Virtuix Omni people have been pushing their product hard, everywhere they can. Tim ran into their product manager, Colton Jacobs, at the recent AppsWorld conference in London. This video is Tim's record of their conversation.
Games

Video Game Preview: Hearthstone 131

Collectible card games have been a prominent part of nerd gaming culture since the early '90s. Magic: the Gathering forged a compelling genre and dozens of games have followed in its footsteps. But the past two decades have been a time of technology, and Magic is a decidedly low-tech game. Like chess, it's been moved online in only the strictest emulation of real-world play. The game itself hasn't actually evolved to make use of technology. Enter Blizzard. Many of the developers at Blizzard grew up playing Magic and other CCGs, and it seemed natural that they'd want to design one of their own. But Blizzard is video game company; managing cardboard print runs and scheduling tournaments isn't exactly in their wheelhouse. Thus, we get Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, an entirely digital CCG. It's currently in closed beta test, but open beta is supposedly just around the corner. In this video (with transcript) we take a look at how the game is shaping up.
Games

Video Game Review: Path of Exile (Video) 177

What ever happened to point-and-click action role-playing games? Blizzard set the standard for this genre around the turn of the century, and while a few companies have launched Diablo clones, it's been a pretty quiet market. Several years ago, a group of hardcore gamers decided to change that. They put together an independent game studio and began developing Path of Exile, an ARPG that would update and refine all of the characteristics that made the genre great. On 23 October, after a lengthy open beta period, they launched the game, opting for a free-to-play business model supported by ethical microtransactions. It's dark, freewheeling, unashamedly complex — and a lot of fun. In this video review (with transcript), we take a look at what Path of Exile has to offer.
Books

Video David Craddock and Two Blizzard North Co-Founders (Video 2 of 2) 14

In this video, we continue our conversation with author David Craddock about his investigation into the early days of game studio Blizzard for his new book, Stay Awhile and Listen. He's joined by Dave Brevik and Max Schaefer, two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. They talk about keeping games accessible, the importance of getting the amount of background story right in Diablo, and whether the creators of these early games have any regrets about them. They also talk about designing The Butcher. (This is video part 2 of 2. The transcript of Part 1 is now available, too, if you care to go back and read it.)
Books

Video David Craddock and Two Blizzard North Co-Founders Answer Your Questions (Video) 40

In this video, we talk with author David Craddock about his investigation into the early days of game studio Blizzard for his new book, Stay Awhile and Listen. He's joined by Dave Brevik and Max Schaefer, two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. They talk about some of the ways in which making video games was different back in the early '90s -- and the ways it's similar to making games today. They also discuss the importance of having lively debates, and how one of those arguments led to Diablo being a real-time action game, instead of being turn-based. (This is the first half of an extended interview -- part 2 will be available on Monday.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Video Game Preview: Firefall (video) 122

With three letters, you can get most gamers' attention: MMO. With three more, you can just as quickly inspire skepticism and doubt: FPS. Ever since the MMORPG craze got underway, players and developers have been looking for ways to meld it with the FPS craze that's been going on since the days of Doom. Unfortunately, it's proven much more difficult than expected. The spectrum ranges only from high profile failures, like Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, to minor successes, like the Planetside games. That's why Red 5 Studios, a company built upon industry veterans from studios like Blizzard, has been hesitant to throw around the term 'MMOFPS' to describe its first game: Firefall. They say emphatically that it's 'a shooter first and foremost,' and that it also has MMORPG elements. It's more than an academic distinction; they feel that you can't simply cobble together two different genres. In order for the game to work, it has to do the shooter part well, with the relevant RPG parts (character advancement, a persistent world, crafting, etc.) added only in service to the shooter aspect. As Firefall takes shape in an open beta period, it's clear that this is the proper approach. Red 5's unfinished experiment is promising.
Games

Video Secret Lab Develops Games and Teaches Others How to Develop Them as Well (Video) 29

On the Island of Tasmania, there is a Secret Lab. More accurately, it is a business called Secret Lab, run by co-founders Paris Buttfield-Addison and Jon Manning. On their website they say, “Secret Lab is an indie game developer and mobile app training studio based in Hobart, Australia. We're responsible for some of the world's most popular mobile apps -- recently, we've worked on Meebo for iPhone, ABC Play School Art Maker for iPad, ABC Good Game for iPhone and ABC Foodi for iPad. Secret Lab also offers intensive training workshops on iOS and Android development.” They recently presented at OSCON in Portland, OR, where Timothy Lord and his camcorder caught up with them there (as did Rachel Roumeliotis of O'Reilly Media with her camcorder). At just over 30 minutes, this is the longest Slashdot video interview we've ever run. It's worth the time, despite some rough sound patches, if you are interested in mobile game development -- or even if you are just interested in seeing what kind of colorful people do this sort of thing.
Games

Video Steve Jackson Shows Off the Texas Brick Railroad (Video) 41

Imagine game designer Steve Jackson and a bunch of friends building Lego trains and tracks and scenery, including buildings and other props. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? The group calls itself the Texas Brick Railroad. A lot of members have children, so their meetings tend to be family affairs. Plus, as they're doing here, they often display their train sets at public events where -- yes -- their trains attract children like crazy. This video shows off both current Lego trains and some of the classic, no-longer-sold Lego trains that members have collected over the years, including the highly-prized monorails. There's a transcript, but face it: This is basically visual material, and worth checking out on a computer or handheld that runs Flash if your normal one doesn't. (We've requested an upgrade from Flash-only video, but don't hold your breath. It might be a good while before we get it.)
Games

Video 400 Pinball Machines and Counting at the Texas Pinball Festival (Video) 36

Yes, folks. Step right up. It's the 2013 Texas Pinball Festival, except... Whoops! You missed it. But don't despair, because Tim Lord was there with his camcorder to interview organizer Paul McKinney and to point his lens lovingly at pinball machines new and old, complete with whistles and bells, oh my! It was a riotous time, with players of all ages. Pinball machines were played, bought, and sold. There were plenty of exhibitors, including some with shiny-new machines. The most interesting of these may have been Multimorphic, which is making "the world's first modular, multi-game, pinball platform." In other words, one machine that can become many games, sort of like a video game console. There's a separate, short, "bonus video" about Multimorphic (with no transcript), for anyone who is interested in their open source, "open platform" pinball machine concept -- and that may not be just old fogies trying to recapture their youth, when they had the high score on the Evel Knievel machine at a local pool hall, because McKinney says the people coming to the Texas Pinball Festival are younger every year.
Graphics

Video The Leap Motion Controller is Sort of Like a Super Kinect (Video) 108

What the Leap Motion product (they only have one right now) does is allow you to control your computer with gestures. We're not talking about just jumping around, but "painting" on the screen with your fingers (or even chopsticks) with fine enough control that Autodesk and other drawing-orientd software vendors are working to make applications compatible with the Leap Motion Controller. And game developers? You bet! Lots of them -- and this is for a device that's not even supposed to start shipping until May 13. But, says CEO Michael Buckwald, they already have "hundreds of thousands of pre-orders," so it looks like they are developing a large market for developers (over 12,000 are in the Leap Motion developer program -- out of 50,000 who applied) so it's possible that Leap Motion could become a pretty big deal. (You can see the Leap Motion Controller in action at the end of the video.)

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