Monday, January 31, 2011

Holographic Leia with Xbox Kinect

mikejuk writes with this snippet from I, Programmer:"True 3D realtime holography is not only possible — it makes use of a Kinect as its input device. A team at MIT has recreated the famous 3D Princess Leia scene from the original Star Wars — but as a live video feed! It's a great stunt but don't miss the importance — this is realtime 3D holography and that means you can view it without any glasses or other gadgets and you can move around and see behind objects in the scene. This is more than the flat 3D you get in movies."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fake Zelda Box Set

In the real world, there is no such thing as a special Zelda edition of the Nintendo 3DS. Not yet, anyway. That hasn't stopped artist wasa-bi-redux from dreaming of his own, though, and those dreams are, well. Dreamy.
The deviantArt user, who specialises in designing box art for games and other packages that don't actually exist, has put together this stunning example of a limited edition Nintendo 3DS, which along with including copies of both Link's Awakening and Ocarina of Time also sports a beautiful heraldic design on the top of the handheld.
It's not the first Nintendo handheld we've seen adorned with Zelda imagery - there have been two real ones managing that feat - but it's certainly the prettiest.
Dreamers will find wasa-bi-redux's deviantArt page has several other pieces of fantasy box art to tease them further, including a Pikmin Trilogy box set and a Zelda MMO.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Confirming previous rumors, Sony has officially announced its 'next generation' PSP, codenamed (for now) the Next Generation Portable (NGP).
The NGP will feature a 960x544 OLED resolution screen (that's twice the resolution of the original PSP!), Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, Sixaxis tilt control, and both front and rear-facing multi-point touchpads and cameras.
Among the new features in the NGP is what Sony is calling "Location-Based Entertainment," which tracks where you are in the world and can, among other things, show you which games are most popular in your area, the exact number of users playing which games near you, and the ability to instantly purchase a game you see being played.
Franchises confirmed to be returning (or debuting) on the NGP include:
  • Uncharted
  • Hot Shots Golf
  • Killzone
  • Resistance
  • Wipeout
  • Gravity Daze
  • Little Deviants
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Monster Hunter
  • Yakuza (unconfirmed, shown as tech demo)
  • Call of Duty
Metal Gear series head Hideo Kojima is also working on the system with his Kojima Productions studio, but did not announce a game. While a brief tech demonstration using Metal Gear Solid 4 assets was shown, a port of the game has not been confirmed.
Epic was also on hand to show a version of its Unreal Engine 3 running on the NGP. No specific game was announced.
It is also confirmed that Sony's PlayStation Suite software -- including PlayStation One games -- will be available on the NGP.
The graphics are by far the best-looking on any portable console so far, but despite some earlier reports, they do not match those on the PlayStation 3.
Sony's Next Generation Portable will be released in Japan this winter.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Russian Bombing and Modern Warfare 2

Following yesterday's suicide bombing at Domodedovo Airport, Russia's busiest airport, Russian media company Russia Today has attempted to link the event to the infamous 'No Russian' level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The terrorist attack resulted in the deaths of 35 people and injuries to more than 180.
The No Russian level caused quite a controversy back in 2009. It allows players to assume the role of an undercover American being forced to execute innocent civilians in a Russian airport in an attempt to protect his cover. It's actually possible to complete the level without ever firing at a civilian, though that doesn't stop them from being slaughtered nonetheless. The game offers an option to skip the entire sequence. It's also worth noting that the No Russian level features an attack on the airport with guns, not a bomb, and that the title comes from instructions given to the player's character to not speak any Russian.

The version released in Russia actually saw the entire scene removed. The game was also censored in both Germany and Japan, and attempts were made in Australia to ban the game from being sold.

The Russia Today report featured a video (embedded below) juxtaposing the aftermath of yesterday's attack and footage from the No Russian level. It also offered up comments from Walid Phares, director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who said, "Indeed it is a trouble to look at the game and reality. The issue is we need to know if terrorists or extremists are using these videos or DVDs or games to basically apply the model." He added, "I think those who have been radicalized already -- that is supposed in this case jihadists, Al-Qaeda, or other kind -- they look at the games and say these games will serve them to train."

My thoughts are with the families of those affected by the tragedy.

Original Article:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Really?.... WTF?

BoneCraft will be out on PC later this year.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Duke Nukem!

The game will debut for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 on May 3, 2011 in the United States, with a worldwide release on May 6. This release date comes just over fourteen years after the game was first announced.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

World of Starcraft

eldavojohn writes

"If you've been following the team who created World of StarCraft (an amazing mod of StarCraft II to be more like World of Warcraft), their YouTube video of what they've done so far has already resulted in a cease and desist from Activision/Blizzard. Evidently when you are given tools to make custom mods to games you should be careful about making something too good. The author of the mod is hopeful that it's just a trademark problem with the name of his mod, but few reasons for the C&D were given."

In other StarCraft news, reader glwtta recommends an article about how a Berkeley team won the world's first StarCraft AI competition with code that can beat even pro-level human players.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII-2

At an event in Japan to update fans on some of its new titles, Square Enix officially announced Final Fantasy XIII-2 -- which, as you might remember, was heavily rumored once the company registered the domain for it.

Next to nothing is known about the game at this point, but Lightning will return as a character in the game, and FFXIII director Motomu Toriyama and producer Yoshinori Kitase will both return to their roles for this new FFXIII story. It's also definitely coming to both PS3 and Xbox 360 and will be released this year (in Japan, at least).
We'll deliver more news on Final Fantasy XIII-2 as we hear it. For now, though, what do you hope or expect from Square's sequel?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mortal Kombat Mini Series

Last June, the internet was floored by a fan-made concept trailer for a new Mortal Kombat movie. While it sadly didn't end up as a new film, it has got the creator a crack at a new series.
The clip's director Kevin Tancharoen has been handed the keys by Warner Bros. to a 10-part "webisode" series, which will focus on the story of the character Jax, who in a stroke of luck (and genius) will be played by the same man who played him the the concept trailer: Michael Jai White.
Or, as you may know him, Black Dynamite.
A Report says other characters appearing in the series include Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung, Liu Kang, Sub Zero, Durak, Kabal, Kitana, Mileena and Scorpion.
No word on a release date, but even if it's 2017, we can wait.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rate Your gaming Skill By Looking At Your Brain

"Researchers now say they can predict how well a person will perform playing a videogame by looking directly at their brains.
According to an announcement made Thursday, a recent study found that a look at the signals given off in the basal ganglia region of a human brain can predict with "unprecedented accuracy" how well the subject will perform a complex task.
Participants in the study, who had little prior videogame experience, had an MRI taken of their brains before spending 20 hours playing a University of Illinois-developed videogame called Space Fortress. Using this data, the researchers were able to predict their scores on the game with between 55 and 68 percent accuracy.
The parts of the brain associated with this predictable activity were the caudate nucleus and the putamen, which are active when learning new motor skills and are important in tasks that require quick shifts in attention and strategy. The nucleus accumbens, a region believed to process emotions that result from reward and punishment, was also studied, but it was found to be less reliable than the other two regions."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sony Disabling Jailbroken PS3

In the wake of the PlayStation 3's software security measures being broken wide open, supposedly irreversibly, the question has been exactly what Sony will (or can) do in response. Evidently one option at its disposal: completely disabling any jailbroken PS3s remotely.
As Digital Foundry reports, when any PS3 is booted up, it communicates with a string of Sony servers even if you don't have a PlayStation Network account. This is what allows the console to upload error logs when need-be, or to update the "What's New" module, or -- the key point here -- to "almost certainly" send Sony a log of recently run applications on your console. This could allow Sony to detect when a console is running illegitimate software, and Digital Foundry reports that "the company even has the means to irrevocably disable your console should it so wish, and if that happens, it will remain non-functional whether you're online or offline."

Of course, that's a hell of an extreme measure, and one not likely to happen any time soon -- as the report also goes on to explain, Sony has been wary of even issuing PlayStation Network bans so far, instead addressing security concerns with new patches. The problem is the latest PS3 security compromise is unlike any the console has faced before -- hackers insist it can't be fixed with a patch (and Digital Foundry reports that the nature of the PS3's security being dismantled so thoroughly means hackers could simply get around any new patches designed to block jailbroken PS3s anyway).

So will Sony eventually resort to more drastic measures, doing full PSN account bans and possibly even disabling jailbroken consoles? It's hard to say, because right now neither option seems ideal: disabling consoles without necessarily having concrete proof of misbehavior could mean risking consumer backlash (especially if some innocent consoles are accidentally disabled in the process), but doing nothing will almost certainly lead to more widespread piracy.

For now, Sony has only officially said it's aware of the security compromises and will take measure to fix them "through network updates."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mars War

A new completely free to play MMOFPS called Mars War has launched today, and is said to support more than 1,000 players in a single battlefield. Much like Sony's Planetside, players will fight futuristic battles on foot, in vehicles, and in the air.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

XBL + Plenty of Fish

Cops say a woman, posing as a 23-year-old over Xbox Live, traveled from California to Maryland over Thanksgiving and had sex with a 13-year-old boy she'd met while his parents were sleeping. She's in jail now.
Rachel Ann Hicks, 36, is being held without bail on suspicion of rape and child molestation. Police say the liaison was discovered after the 13-year-old's family found "romantic" text messages on his phone. Hicks apparently also sent him X-rated pictures and movies during an online relationship that began in September and quickly escalated.
Here's the kicker, she'd given the boy a fake name (and age, of course) but "with help from federal authorities," she was found and arrested. That sounds like a subpoena either of phone or Xbox Live server records.
Hicks is suspected of molesting another teenage victim, whom investigators are trying to identify.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Skyrim Leveling

The next Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, will be making some big changes to the way the series handles things like combat and levelling-up.
Firstly, combat: according to a piece in the latest issue of Game Informer, you can now dual-wield weapons in the game. To many it will sound like a cheap take on a Halo/Modern Warfare staple, but where in those shooters it's a part-time indulgence, in Skyrim it forms the cornerstone of your approach to the game, as you can allocate which weapon or tool goes in which hand.
So, for example, you can put a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. Or two daggers. Or a staff and a shield. Or a shield and a mace. For magic users, a different spell can be cast from each hand, or for a multiplying effect, the same spell can be thrown from both hands.
Another change to the way Skyrim plays compared to its predecessor, Oblivion, is in how you gain new powers and abilities. This game does entirely away with the concept of class creation, Bethesda's thinking being it's a bit naff asking people to predict how they're going to play a game when they haven't played it yet.
Replacing this, then, is an organic system of attribute growth based on use: the more you do something, the better you get at it. While this has long been a staple of RPG games, even dating back to the Quest for Glory series, but in Skyrim it's not just complementing a class structure, it's replacing it. So you won't be cast in stone as a mage if you use lots of magic, you'll just be some adventurer with a higher magic number in their stats.
You level up according to how you progress your most-used skills. "Raising one skill from 34 to 35 is going to level you faster than raising one from 11 to 12", Bethesda's Todd Howard tells Game Informer. If you stick to what you like/do best, you'll level up quickly. Conversely, if you want to take things slowly, you can raise all or most of your skills, as not focusing on one or two in particular will mean a slower rise through the levels.
One wildly unpopular aspect of Oblivion was the fact basic enemies levelled up alongside you, meaning even the most powerful warriors could sometimes be undone by sewer rats or angry crabs. In Skyrim, though, your opponent's levelling is more like that found in Fallout 3.
Continuing Bethesda's work with Fallout 3, each new level you gain in Skyrim will also give you a perk, which you can apply to give you added bonuses relative to how you want to play the game.
The levelling sounds like an interesting experiment, one I like the sounds of since I always hate choosing an "archetype" in a game before I know how I'm going to play it. The combat also sounds like a welcome piece of customisation for the series, but how well they actually work in the game, we'll just have to wait until we get some time with it!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kinect Causing RRoD?

Like Sauron being driven out of Mirkwood only to rise in power again in Mordor, it looks like the dreaded Xbox 360 "Red Ring of Death" error hasn't been entirely defeated. According to a report from the BBC, some consumers are claiming that a new spate of RRoD errors are being caused when using Kinect with older 360 consoles.
"We plugged [Kinect] in the day we got it but only played it a few times before we got the red lights," said 10-year-old Adam Winnifrith to the BBC Radio 4's You and Yours program. "The next day when we tried it again we still had the red rings of death and haven't been able to use it since."
The report also points to complaints on the official Xbox forum, where others have blamed Kinect for causing their 360s to red ring. "I just got the Kinect for my xbox 360 (one of the original ones) with only 4 mg memory. I installed the update software that came with the system, went through the kinect calibrations and when I went to play the game [the] system froze. Tried this multiple times and got red ring of death (3 rings)," wrote one member in a thread. "Same thing happened to me. My non problematic 2008 360 pro got RROD after playing kinect 2-3 times (with light use)," wrote another.
Microsoft, however, has denied there's any link to new RRoD errors and use of Kinect, saying in a statement to the BBC that Kinect is "designed to work with every Xbox 360 sold to date." Furthermore, Microsoft insists that there is "no correlation between the three flashing red lights error and Kinect. Any new instances of the three flashing red lights error are merely coincidental."
Indeed, it's hard to say at this point whether there is in fact a causative link between Kinect and RRoD errors, as it is possible Kinect use at the time of the errors occurring could simply be a coincidence. And unless reports of the error increase to a point where Microsoft can no longer deny them (as was the case with the RRoD error in the first place), or unless some more scientific experimenting is done to prove Kinect use can cause an RRoD on an older console, any proof of a link between the two may remain elusive (because, in the end, there may not be one).