crazyjj writes: Wired is reporting that Sony is inviting its investors and the press to a mysterious press conference (dubbed "PlayStation Meeting 2013") for February 20th in New York City. Sony has also released a rather odd short video to go with the invitation.
Many insiders have jumped on the purpose of this conference as the likely announcement of the long-rumored PS4 (previously codenamed "Orbis"), which has been the subject of many leaks in recent weeks.
crazyjj writes: A recent article in Wired on the nature of permadeath in games and the recent release of the WiiU (the first Nintendo console to support significant internal storage, now a feature of all modern consoles) has me contemplating the question of why so many modern console games still use the checkpoint system as opposed to the "save anytime" feature used in many open-world and RPG games like Skyrim and Fallout 3.
Of course the checkpoint system was initially created back in the days when consoles had a miniscule internal storage capacity (usually a small chip on the game cartridge itself), and only the most basic of game data could be retained. It was quite revolutionary for its time in the console world, meaning that players could play through complex worlds without having to start the entire game over when they ran out of lives or ran into a particularly nasty boss battle. This allowed games to progress beyond the early days when plotless games were relatively simple, with each "level" often just speeding up or adding more enemies until the player died. Given storage limitations, the checkpoint system (often just a simple check indicating what level a player had reached, with no other data saved) made sense.
But with the ubiquitous presence of hard drives and SSD's, with gigs of storage to spare, in modern consoles, why does the checkpoint system still remain in so many games? Many open world games and RPG's have shown the attractiveness of a system that lets players save anytime (some limiting this only in combat situations). And constructing a good checkpoint system (which can mean the difference between only having to replay a few minutes and throwing a controller at the wall) is still a tricky proposition, fraught with pitfalls.
Grand Theft Auto 4 and Dead Rising were particularly notorious for having checkpoint problems, for example. And since many games only allow a player to access one checkpoint save file, a checkpoint autosave at a particularly bad moment could mean having to replay an entire level.
So, why do console developers keep using the checkpoint system in games? Is it force of habit? Is it a reluctance to move into the modern "save anytime" age or adapt their game styles? Or is there still some merit to the checkpoint system that warrants its continued use?
crazyjj writes: In a recent Wired article, Matt Ridley takes a look at the long history of man predicting the end of man. From the time when doom and brimstone were primarily the purview of religious zealots, millennial doomcasting has today evolved into something everyone seems to be doing. But, looking back on all the predictions gone wrong, perhaps it's time to chill out and stop panicking. Man, it seems, is here to stay (until the asteroid hits us in 2122, of course).
crazyjj writes: Sony lost 24.6 billion yen (approximately $314 million) in three months, the company revealed Thursday in an earnings report for the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year.
Among the company's woes were drops in their game division's profitability and disappointing sales on a number of their consumer products, most notably the PlayStation Vita. Sony lowered its predicted yearly sales expectations for the Vita (and PSP) from 16 million to 12 million and the Vita is apparently getting hammered by Nintendo's new 3DS XL in Japanese sales.
Sony’s $5.8 billion losses in 2011 were the highest in company history and its fourth straight year of coming up short, according to the Associated Press.
crazyjj writes: As reported in Wired, a recent National Research Council report indicates a growing concern for NASA, the NOAA, and USGS. While there are currently 22 Earth-observing satellites in orbit, this number is expected to drop to as low as six by the year 2020. The U.S. relies on this network of satellites for weather forecasting, climate change data, and important geologic and oceanographic information.
As with most things space and NASA these days, the root cause is funding cuts. The program to maintain this network of satellites was funded at $2 billion as recently as 2002, but has since been scaled back to $1.3 billion at present, with only two replacement satellites having definite launch dates.