Posts Tagged ‘Gaming’
The engineers in Microsoft’s windowless next-gen Xbox silicon lab are rattled. And understandably so. We’re in their office, after all, and we have a mess of cameras in the one place you’re not allowed to have cameras (or even cellphones). We’re obviously outsiders on Microsoft’s multi-building, security-heavy Mountain View campus, especially given our quartet of esteemed escorts: Todd Holmdahl, Ilan Spillinger, Nick Baker and Greg Williams. These four gentlemen are leading the charge on both Microsoft’s next big thing and, perhaps more importantly, a major effort to internalize silicon architecture at the traditionally software-focused megacorp.
The skittish engineers aren’t worried we’ll film the mess of 24-inch LCD screens running video-compression tests, or the rows of desks with water hose stations used for temperature stress tests, or even the sea of circuit boards in various states of disrepair — that’s all standard for any Silicon Valley computer lab. It’s really just a single chip that’s causing concern: a custom-built Microsoft SoC that sits at the heart of the Xbox One. It’s this SoC that has us in Mountain View, Calif. — in Silicon Valley, literally down the road from Google — a mere five days before Microsoft will unveil its next game console to the world. Over six hours last Friday, we learned not just about that SoC, but also how the company plans to utilize it in the new console. We spoke with its four lead hardware architects. We toured the labs where they are testing the silicon, and where the next-generation Kinect was born. What follows is more than a look behind the silicon that drives the next Xbox — it’s a deep dive into the changing approach Microsoft’s taking to creating devices.
Revenue from iOS, Android gaming apps now three times greater than portable …
The trend that's seen portable gaming shifting largely to devices like Apple's iPhone continues apace, according to a new report that pegs revenue from gaming on iOS and Android devices at three times the size of revenue on dedicated portable gaming …
Read more on Apple Insider
Light Flow Update Teases New Version of Android, May Require Persistent …
Now that Google I/O is over with and a potential Android 4.3 release date is in the wild, the hypebeasting of features will undoubtedly start to pick up. The first to kick off the fun is one of our favorite apps, Light Flow. For those not familiar …
Read more on Droid Life
Flashback Friday: Android 2.3
As another version of Android is reportedly being prepared for release, it seems only fitting to take a look back at the version of the operating system that really seems to have been the turning point for its adoption. Android 2.3, also known as …
Read more on TechnoBuffalo
We’ve seen a number of headsets tap into the brain, some of which geotag your mood, grant you remote control over gadgets or simply let you wiggle a pair of cat ears with your mind. However, none of them function quite like the foc.us, which is meant to provide transcranial direct-current simulation (tDCS), a controversial form of neurosimulation that transmits current to a particular area of the brain. Originally used to help patients with brain injuries, tDCS has supposedly been found to increase cognitive performance in healthy adults. However, it hasn’t been proven to provide medical benefits and isn’t approved by the FDA.
Still, the foc.us is one of a few tDCS headsets designed for the consumer market, and can, the inventor Michael Oxley claims, improve your working or short-term memory when the electrodes are placed on your prefrontal cortex. A low-intensity current is passed through the different nodes, exciting that part of the brain. Interestingly, Oxley is positioning it as a way to boost your video gaming prowess for the “ultimate gaming experience,” a concept we found a little odd.
Filed under: Science
NVIDIA brought its new Shield handheld gaming system to Google I/O this year, and was showing off a near production device. The Shield made its debut at CES this year, surprising most since it’s a consumer handheld device from a company that generally makes internal components, but it has some neat tricks up its sleeve, including a Tegra 4 chipset, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch 720p display and 16GB of internal storage.
The Shield units available at I/O this week were all running Android and showing off Android games with hardware controller support, and none were demoing the PC game streaming NVIDIA announced would be coming to Shield as a beta when it comes to retail in June.
My experience with the NVIDIA was limited to just a few games, including the Epic Citadel demo that always gets trotted out to demonstrate amazing graphics capabilities on mobile devices. There were also a couple playable cart racers in action, and all of the above performed well and really showed that the hardware is capable of rendering high-quality video smoothly and without any apparent effort. For a device that’s essentially a smartphone without the actual phone powers, but with more physical buttons for $ 349, that’s an important achievement to be able to claim.
Shield does its Android job well, and the hardware feels great to these gamer’s hands. Buttons are slightly clicky and the ergonomics are solid, and the thing doesn’t take up too much more space than an Xbox controller when the screen is folded down and it’s in travel mode. There’s mini-HDMI, which was outputting gameplay to a small HD television, and a micro-USB slot for charging. The onboard screen boasts “retinal” quality 294 PPI pixel density, which means video and games look silky smooth.
Maybe the best part is that Nvidia has gone for a pretty near stock Android Jelly Bean experience, which a rep from the company told me was a conscious choice they made after first trying a more involved widget overlay that ended up making for a much less pleasant experience. Navigating the stock Android with hardware controls (you can also always use the touchscreen) is also surprisingly intuitive.
All that said, this is a strange device with a market that’s probably going to be pretty niche. Really, it almost seems like a reference device designed to show off the power of Tegra, but Nvidia is actually shipping the thing, so those of us like me who actually have a hankering for this kind of hardware will really be able to buy it, even if it doesn’t become a runaway success.
At $ 349, Nvidia’s Shield portable game console has a lot to prove, but one celebrity is already making the leap: Luke from Modern Family. In this week’s episode, it looks like the youngster’s Nintendo 3DS has been at least temporarily displaced by the Android-based Tegra 4 handheld. But the significance isn’t what gadgets a character on a popular TV sitcom might play with, it’s that Nvidia managed to get the device onto the show.
Modern Family is no stranger to product placement — executive producer Steven Levitan told Advertising Age that the show constantly turns down offers — but Nvidia certainly is. The Shield is arguably the first consumer product ever built and branded by the chipmaker, and cost a reported $ 10 million in R&D….
Whatever value you see in game development schools, it’s clear that few of them tout gaming industry veterans who can lead by example. The University of Texas’ upcoming Denius-Sams Gaming Academy could solve this discrepancy by tapping two executives whose work many of us know by heart. Both legendary designer Warren Spector and Blizzard COO Paul Sams will guide (and sometimes teach) year-long post-baccalaureate certificate programs at the Academy that focus on creative leadership and game company management — yes, that means instruction from gurus behind the Deus Ex and Warcraft franchises, among other classics. The programs will also emphasize that all-important ability to finish a game, rather than mastering skills in isolation. The first students join the Academy’s ranks in fall 2014, although they’ll need to be exceptional to stand a chance of getting in — just 20 spots will be open in the first year.
Source: University of Texas at Austin
The Ouya is making its way out to backers even now (though my shipping notification still hasn’t arrived. Grrr.) and judging by early impressions, it’s no silver bullet to take down behemoths like Sony and Microsoft. The $ 99, Android powered console still isn’t fully formed exactly, but it’s doubtful that between now and June 25 it’ll take on giant-killer proportions. Likewise the recently-announced BlueStacks Android gaming console, which features a subscription-based pricing model, probably won’t alone topple the giants.
But combined, these and a slew of other devices including the GameStick, smart TVs from manufacturers, Steam Boxes, and even Google and Apple hardware are eating away at what was once a fairly exclusive field. It seems a lot of people are waiting for a watershed moment to signal a significant shift away from traditional console gaming to a new paradigm, but increasingly, it looks likely that what we’ll see instead is an erosion that more closely resembles glacial shift, but on a less geological time scale.
There’s evidence to suggest that console gaming is already losing significant ground, like quarterly results from Nintendo that show a dramatic decline in consumer interest in the recently-launched Wii U console. And while Sony saw its first full-year profit in half a decade, most of the good news was on the smartphone side, and PlayStation sales fell for the year. Microsoft is still doing fairly well with the Xbox 360, but growth of key accessories like the Kinect have slowed with time.
Slower Kinect sales are a good bellwether for the industry’s overall health, if only because it and devices like it are where console makers are turning to try to inject some fresh life into a market that had recently started to look fairly stale. To some extent, Kinect, Move and other gimmicks like the screen of the 3DS are an answer to incursions by mobile gaming and other alternatives. Just like point-and-shoot cameras needed differentiating features like long zooms to prove themselves relative to smartphone cameras, video games needed something new to reel in new buyers.
The new crop of challengers to the console gaming market, including Ouya and the new BlueStacks GamePop console, risks getting discounted by critics as just another round of devices like the GP2X Wiz or the Gizmondo, which had limited appeal and then faded into the background of video games history as little more than a minor footnote. But that’s taking too short-term and dismissive a view on what’s currently happening in the video game space. It’s true that, as ardent console gamers continually remind me, there will always be a demand for that type of content.
Increasingly, however, there’s a growing contingent of players that are fine saying, “if I can get it on my phone, why do I need it anywhere else?” and that’s a market that’s ripe for a living room transition like the ones being attempted by Ouya and BlueStack. It’s easy to discount these ahead of their full consumer launch, and I don’t expect them to have an immediate impact on console sales, but they are signs of a sure shift, and one that won’t go away, even if doesn’t provide the sort of bomb shock disruption that we’re so fond of identifying and championing.
The ESEA gaming network has been exploiting its users’ powerful graphics cards to mine Bitcoins without their knowledge. The mining began on April 13th and affected thousands of gamers, who unwittingly mined over $ 3,700 worth of the currency. ESEA, which describes itself as “the largest competitive video gaming community in North America,” wasn’t aware that the Bitcoin mining was taking place, and blames the behavior on a rogue employee out for personal gain.
The full story on how and why the Bitcoin-mining software made its way to users’ computers isn’t yet available, but ESEA had been exploring the idea of adding a Bitcoin mining option to its client. The idea was canned on April 12th, but the next day, the rogue employee secretly…
Video Gaming Is Dead: Long Live The FPS! – WhatCulture!
It's a Sunday afternoon and I've spent the past few days hunched over a desk in the library, I decided that it's time for a rest and trundle off home, perhaps I'll watch a film or load up the PS2; the possibilities are endless. I settle myself on the …
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We're in a fighting game renaissance, but how does the future look?
Meanwhile, Capcom didn't seem to know what to do with consoles, simply porting over its arcade games to PS2, Dreamcast, and Xbox. SNK had to close its doors, and members of the team went on to found the Playmore company. And although games like …
Read more on PlayStation Universe
Lasombra Files Episode 29: Faces of the Self
Public perception of the PS3 is still somewhat lukewarm after its launch disaster, but Sony's marketing efforts with PS4 have been utterly refreshing. For PS4 to really hit the same notes as PS2, Sony will need to approach the gaming community with …
Read more on PlayStation Universe
Dear rig builder, before you go shopping for your next PSU, Digital Storm would like a word. The company’s new line of Vanquish PCs is aimed at gamers who want the price of a self-build, but without the worry that they’ve mistakenly jammed a 12V ATX cable into a Blu-Ray drive. The base unit offers up an AMD FX-4300 with 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, a Radeon HD 7750 and Windows 7 for $ 699 — just $ 38 more than the company claims you could snag those unassembled parts on NewEgg. Alongside the professional build, Digital Storm will provide lifetime in-house tech support and a three-year warranty, so if you’d like to learn more, there’s PR and video after the break.
Source: Digital Storm