_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageLoadTime']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Archive

Archive for July, 2011

Japanese Hardware Sales, July 18 – 24: The greatest moment in fighting game history edition

July 31st, 2011 No comments

Since it's EVO Championship Series weekend and everything, we figured this would be a good time to remind everyone of the best thing that ever happened. We still get a choked up watching it, even after all these years. Moments like this are why fighting games exist, and why competitive gaming is such an amazing live experience. It's just so... beautiful.

Continue reading Japanese Hardware Sales, July 18 - 24: The greatest moment in fighting game history edition

JoystiqJapanese Hardware Sales, July 18 - 24: The greatest moment in fighting game history edition originally appeared on Joystiq on Sun, 31 Jul 2011 23:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments Tags:

Adobe steps into HTML5 design with Edge

July 31st, 2011 No comments

Adobe is doubling down on HTML5 today with the public preview release of Edge, a new design tool for HTML5 web motion and interaction.

The company “sees a huge opportunity to help people be successful with HTML5,” Adobe’s Devin Fernandez told me in an interview last week. HTML5 is emerging as a competitor to Adobe’s dominant Flash technology, but the company clearly doesn’t want to be left out as HTML5 becomes more widely used.

Edge allows developers to easily edit animations and interactive Web page elements based on HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript. Fernandez tells me that the software relies on strict HTML standards, so there won’t be anything additional to muck up your code.

Adobe’s Mark Anders demonstrated to me how Edge could be used to easily create an animated HTML5 ad. While the software doesn’t offer the same robust animation elements as Flash, it’s certainly going to be useful for developers who choose to work with HTML5, as there aren’t any professional-level editing tools dedicated to the standard yet.

“Edge shows that Adobe can remain a premier tools vendor for designers no matter what the runtime,” Al Hilwa, program director of applications development software at IDC told VentureBeat.  “The tool chain for creative design is how Adobe makes its money and there is a great need for HTML5 tools right now.”

Edge isn’t meant to replace Adobe’s existing web design tools like Dreamweaver or Flash — instead it’s just another option for developers. Adobe is making the software free during its initial testing period, and it’s encouraging feedback from developers. The company says it will update the software faster than anything it’s released before to keep up with the rapidly changing world of HTML5.


Filed under: VentureBeat

Tags: , , ,

Wind could supply electrical power to portable data centers off the grid

July 31st, 2011 No comments

It was a novel idea a few years ago to create a “data center in a box,” which was essentially taking corporate computers known as servers and putting them into a big shipping container. The box could be deployed just about anywhere you could get power into it. It’s an even more novel idea to put some wind-powered generators on top of the shipping containers to have them generate their own electricity.

Advanced Micro Devices, Hewlett-Packard, Clarkson University and a New York state energy research group have banded together to test the idea about how to supply renewable energy to the highly flexible data centers. All of the parties will deploy some of the data centers in and box and study whether they can be sufficiently powered by either wind or solar power.

“We want to develop more renewable energy sources for future data center computing needs,” said Steven Kester, AMD’s director of government relations and regulatory affairs, in an interview.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the rest of the team will study critical questions of how to maintain reliable power for these data centers and how to automatically shift a computing load between the data centers. The study is being funded by a $374,000 NYSERDA grant and private funding sources. AMD engineers developed the proposal with Clarkson University.

Students will run experiments on effectively managing data through a distributed network powered by renewable energy, said a project manager at NYSERDA, in an interview. Then the second phase of the project will incorporate the hardware, including HP’s performance-optimized data center (POD), which uses AMD’s Opteron processor chips for energy-efficient cloud computing.

The whole point is to create cloud computing capability with distributed computing as well as distributed power generation, said Kester. The key challenge is to get enough power to the data centers with relying on a traditional power grid is a key challenge, particularly because these data centers are usually located in big cities. Wind power generators, on the other hand, are usually located in remote areas where the wind is plentiful.

Ultimately, the goal is to co-locate dynamic energy sources with dynamic computing sources to improve the economics, performance, and environmental benefits of wind power and portable data centers. HP created its POD data centers in a box to be modular, so customers can easily order more of them to deal with fluctuating computing demands. They can be quickly added to places with aging infrastructure, limited space and shrinking budgets — even as computing demands increase. The PODs are easily removed and serviced, and they have their own heating and cooling systems, as needed.
HP recently added a new POD solution, dubbed the EcoPOD, which can offer 95 percent greater energy efficiency compared to traditional data centers. HP will lend its expertise in energy-efficient design to the experimental project, which will take place in the Hudson Valley in New York.

“Electrical power demands for data centers are skyrocketing,” said Kester. “As demand for data centers goes up, we see a collision coming as the electrical grid hits its limit. The power consumption will be a restriction on the industry. The costs will be unsustainable. The question is how do we get to 100 percent independence from the grid. “


Filed under: green, VentureBeat

Tags: , , , ,

Best Buy moves into the connected TV business with Tivo’s user interface

July 31st, 2011 No comments

Internet connected TVs are becoming a lot more mainstream. The latest sign of that is that Best Buy is announcing its own house label model, dubbed the Insignia Connected TV.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest gadget retailer, hopes to capture more margin in the increasingly competitive electronics business by selling its own equipment under Best Buy’s house brand, rather than selling more gadgets under brand name such as Sony or Samsung. It’s a strategy that has been working for a while.

This TV will be the first to use Tivo’s design interface, giving Best Buy’s customers a user interface that is well-known as a good way for browsing for shows and watching TV — without a TiVo subscription.

The TV will be available in 32-inch and 42-inch models for $499 and $699 respectively at BestBuy.com and Best Buy stores nationwide. The TVs offer a variety of ways to access movies over the web, such as Netflix, CinemaNow and YouTube. It also has applications such as Pandora, Napster, Facebook, Twitter and Photobucket.

Minneapolis=based Best Buy developed the Insignia TV from the ground up, focusing on the ease of setting it up and ease of use, said Patrick McGinnis, vice president of exclusive brands at Best Buy. The user interface allows people to search for online entertainment from a variety of services.

“We’ve heard from customers that smart TVs can be intimidating,” McGinnis said.

TiVO, which once focused on selling or licensing its own digital video recorders, is now licensing its user interface to other parties. Jim Denney, general manager and vice president of product marketing at Tivo, said his company collaborated with Best Buy on the design. The Insignia Connected TV also comes with applications from the popular Chumby content platform, which is used in gadgets like Sony’s connected alarm clocks.

Chumby is the way that the TV accesses apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Photobucket, Accuweather, Reuters News and Sports, stocks and traffic. People can customize their experience by selecting additional content from the Chumby network, which supports hundreds of applications.

The TV has a light-emitting diode (LED) screen running at 1080p (high-definition) resolution and 120 hertz. It comes ready for Rocketboost wireless digital audio technology (another Best Buy in-house brand).


Filed under: gadgets, VentureBeat

Tags: , , , , ,

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Planetary Escape

July 31st, 2011 No comments
Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, the asteroidea duo discuss their rockin'-retro iOS title, Planetary Escape.



What's your game called, and what's it about?

Our game is called Planetary Escape, and it is for iPhone, iPad & iPod touch. It is a retro-styled arcade game set deep within a planet's core. Much to your dismay, the planet is gonna blow! You make the wise decision to forgo that last cup of tea, and run to your rocket. With molten lava hot on your tail, you fly your rocket through treacherous caverns of pixelated goodness, and shoot any destructible rocks in your path.

Continue reading The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Planetary Escape

JoystiqThe Joystiq Indie Pitch: Planetary Escape originally appeared on Joystiq on Sun, 31 Jul 2011 22:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments Tags: , , , ,

Preview: Diablo III beta

July 31st, 2011 No comments

Preview: Diablo III beta screenshot

It's been about twenty years since the events of Diablo II. The destruction of the Worldstone reduced Mount Arreat to nothing more than a crater, but the world has, for the most part, seen peace. Tristram has been rebuilt and is now a successful merchant town thanks to the adventurers still searching the ruins of the old cathedral.

Everything's going pretty well until a meteor falls from the sky directly into the cathedral. The dead are rising from their graves, and it's up to you to furiously click until you either break your mouse or get rid of the evil plaguing the world of Sanctuary.

At Blizzard's recent press event for Diablo III, we were able to play through the upcoming beta. The beta encompasses roughly the first half of Act 1, starting with your arrival in New Tristram and ending with a fight with the Skeleton King Leoric down in the depths of the old cathedral. All of this should bump your hero to around level 10.

Rest assured, Diablo III still feels exactly like a Diablo game, but with a number of significant changes.

First and foremost, storytelling is taking center stage in Diablo III. The Diablo series has always had a decent story, but it was usually background. The playable characters had no backstories, and you had very little interaction with NPCs other than the occasional bit of gossip or quest text. That's changing in Diablo III.

Each of the five character classes now has a full backstory, told through an intro cinematic that explains their reason for being in New Tristram and why they've been driven to fight. As you work your way through the game, you'll find lore books containing background narrative. Some pertain directly to the main questline, others just provide you with some information and lore about the area you're currently in. Deckard Cain will even chime in from time to time to tell you about a monster you just killed or an area you've just arrived at.

Questing is a much bigger part of Diablo III, and the quests extend far beyond the six overarching Act quests we saw in Diablo II. Some of the quests we saw in the beta included the investigation of Adria's old house, helping a townsperson kill his possessed wife, and rescuing Cain from a group of skeletons that had trapped him.

A number of NPCs will also join you as you move through the game and provide dialogue that again helps to further the story. Many are temporary NPCs who will only be with you until the completion of a quest, but there are also three permanent followers you can obtain, train, and equip. Unlike the followers of the past Diablo games, these three followers have names, complete backstories, and unique personalities. As you move through the world, you'll hear different dialogue and get new pieces of information depending on which follower is with you at the time.

The skill and attribute system has also seen a huge overhaul, and is different than anything you've seen in a Diablo game before. Skill points and attribute points are gone completely. Instead, skills are gained in a set order as you level up. To use these skills, though, they need to be set in one of your skill slots. You start the game with two active skill slots, with an additional slot opening every six levels to a maximum of six active slots. There are also three passive skill slots, which open at levels 10, 20, and 30. As it's planned right now, levels 1 through 30 will be spent earning new skills and figuring out your build, and levels 30 through 60 (the official level cap) will be the traditional gear gathering phase that every Diablo player knows and loves.

Skills can be slotted and unslotted at any time without penalty, but it's very difficult to do in the middle of a fight. Generally speaking, you'll find six actives and three passives that work well together, and that will be your primary build. When I spoke to Wyatt Cheng, Technical Game Designer, he said that they wanted to avoid the issue they saw in Diablo II where every character really only used one or two skills. Generally speaking, players would hoard skill points, unwilling to "waste" them in earlier skills, and in Diablo III Blizzard wants to encourage more experimentation. Based on playtesting, they found that the current skill system in place combined with the runestone system that has already been revealed gave rise to the most experimentation and several viable build options.

In terms of the skills themselves, there are three very general categories that most of the skills in the game fall into. Spammables are primary attacks that can be used to build your character classes' resource meter. Breakout attacks are higher damage skills -- or skills with powerful and unique effects -- that require a lot of resources and generally need time to recharge. Escape-type abilites are generally defensive moves that allow you to get out of nasty situations and keep the battlefield under control.

You'll need to utilize all three types of skills to be effective -- the game is difficult enough now that you won't get by just spamming a single skill over and over again. Even regular monsters can require some significant strategy to beat, and encounters have been designed to require much more battlefield management than in prior games. Boss monsters are their own special fights unto themselves, and bosses have unique attacks and strategies you must master in order to defeat them. Cheng described the boss fights as being somewhat inspired by World of Warcraft raid bosses, where you have to do much more than just run in and spam attacks until they die.

Battle.net is also seeing a significant overhaul, designed to make Diablo more social and easier to use. In addition to the new real-currency auction house, there will be a number of new features available to make the multiplayer experience as smooth as possible. Like most of Blizzard's games, Diablo supports the RealID system and cross-game chat, allowing you to invite your friends to games even if they're playing StarCraft or World of Warcraft.

Or, if you don't have any friends (sad!), a public game finder and PvP matchmaking system are in place that will allow you to easily find people close to your skill level. There will be some solid incentives to party up, first and foremost being that drops are now unique for every character. You don't have to worry about that guy in your party stealing that unique he can't even use, because what drops on his screen will be entirely different from the loot you get.

Your friends will be able to easily jump in and out of your games -- they'll spawn in town, where they can easily join your party by clicking on your character's banner, a customizable icon that gives your character some added personality. As you progress through the game, defeating certain bosses and accomplishing certain achievements give you access to new banner icons and styles. At the start of the game, your banner will just be a colored piece of cloth with a simple icon on it. By the time you finish the game on Hell difficulty, it may have a pile of skulls in front of it and all sorts of vicious accessories like spikes and swords attached to it.

Those looking forward to gathering their seven Diablo II friends and plowing through the game may be disappointed -- the maximum party size for Diablo III is four people. Additionally, like StarCraft, Diablo III will require you to always be connected to Battle.net to play, even if you are soloing, and you will not be able to play with friends in other countries.

Having completed the beta, I have to say I'm insanely pumped for Diablo III. The game still feels exactly like a Diablo title, while introducing a ton of new skills, systems, and concepts into the series. While I'm a little concerned about the level cap being 60, Wyatt Cheng told me they were still in the process of designing and implementing enough end-game content to keep people from getting bored. Sadly, we don't have a release date yet for either the full game or the beta itself, but I was told that the team was hopeful that we'd see a release by the very end of this year. Keep your fingers crossed!

Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo

No tags for this post.
Tags:

Blizzard is bringing real-money auctions to Diablo III

July 31st, 2011 No comments

Blizzard is bringing real-money auctions to Diablo III screenshot

Probably the biggest and most unexpected news that came out of Blizzard's Diablo III press event last week was the announcement that players will be able to buy and sell items in-game for real currency. In addition to having a standard, gold-based Auction House like World of Warcraft has, Diablo III will also feature a safe, Blizzard-sanctioned way for players to exchange items for cash.

For many players, auction houses are a game unto themselves, and I certainly spent my own fair share of time exclusively playing the auction house in Warcraft. If Blizzard can convince enough players to put up their own cash to participate, I think this has the potential to be extremely successful for both Blizzard and the players who choose to use it.

According to Executive Vice President of Game Design Rob Pardo, Blizzard is well aware that players will trade items and gold for real cash in virtually all of their games. From the shady loot-for-cash websites that plagued Diablo in the mid-90s to the Chinese gold farmers we see in WoW today, making money off videogames has been a simple reality for years.

Given that it's going to happen anyway, Pardo and the Blizzard team figured they might as well create an official place for players to sell their items and gold without fear of being ripped off. To do that, they're giving you this auction house.

For the most part, it operates similarly to the World of Warcraft auction house: the major difference being that real money is involved. Items can be listed directly from your stash, which is now shared between every character on your account. (In Diablo II, every character's stash was only accessible by that character, and transferring items between your own characters was a massive pain in the ass.) Sellers can set a minimum starting bid and sell the item like a true auction, set a buyout price and skip the auction , or both. One other, smaller difference is that buyers and sellers will be completely anonymous; this makes sense to me, given the presence of real money.

Once you successfully sell an item, you have a choice to make. The money you made from that sale can go to one of two places: it can be deposited into your Blizzard account, or it can be cashed out through a third-party service.

If you deposit it into your Blizzard account, only basic listing and sales fees apply. You get the full value of your item, and that money can be used for anything Blizzard-related: other auctions, your WoW subscription fee, and even merchandise from the Blizzard store.

Money deposited into a Blizzard account, however, cannot be later cashed out into real money -- this would invoke a whole host of legal issues, with Blizzard essentially acting as a bank. If you choose to cash out through the third-party service, that company will take a small percentage of your cashout, but your money will be available to you as real cash, either added to your credit card or deposited into a PayPal or bank account.

To reduce the risk of people cornering the market or artificially driving up prices (like we see on WoW servers), there will only be one auction house for each currency -- if your country is in the eurozone, your auction house is shared with all other euro-using countries. The typical WoW server only has around 5,000 players, making it easy for players there to fix prices and damage the economy. It will be much harder for that to occur in Diablo, simply because of the sheer volume of users.

It's important to note what this auction house won't be. It's not a store -- Blizzard is selling nothing directly. Everything on the auction house will be weapons, armor, and items that other players have actually found in-game and have put up for trade. Pardo said that, barring some serious unanticipated problem that would require them to get involved, Blizzard plans to be completely hands-off once the auction house is running. The economy will be entirely determined by the players, and Blizzard has no intention of stepping in to regulate it. Additionally, Blizzard has stated that "99.9%" of the items in the game won't be soulbound -- in essence, if it's not part of a quest or a plot device, you can toss it up for sale.

Blizzard has also stated that Hardcore characters will not be able to use items purchased through the real-money auction house, as they think that would take away from a significant portion of the Hardcore experience. Softcore characters will have access to these items in PvP.

Blizzard has to make money off this somehow, though. When you want to list an item, you pay a 'nominal' (actual numbers were not given to us, as they're still being decided on) listing fee, and when your item is sold you pay a small sales fee. As of now, the listing and sales fees are both a flat rate -- they won't scale if you sell a really valuable item.

The listing fee was decided to prevent people from dumping their entire inventory into the auction system -- people should decide what's crap and what isn't, and only list items people are actually going to be interested in. Blizzard also wants to prevent people from setting wildly unrealistic buyout/bid prices, and having to put up a small amount of real cash to list an item will hopefully keep the economy reasonable. That said, to encourage people to participate and try out the auction house, accounts will likely be given a certain amount of free listings every week.

Overall, Blizzard says that this (real) cash auction house is simply them giving players what they want. It also makes a lot of sense financially, particularly for regions like Asia where players don't purchase the game itself, but tend to play in PC cafes and LAN centers. If it doesn't seem like your thing, the standard gold-based auction house will still be available for players who are unwilling or unable to put up real cash, and I suspect a fair amount of players will be using it. I'm personally hoping the cash-based auction house takes off though -- I'd love to be able to make back the money I spent buying the game just by playing it.

Photo Photo Photo Photo

No tags for this post.
Tags:

Commando perk removed from Modern Warfare 3

July 31st, 2011 No comments
Love it or hate it, Modern Warfare 2's ninja-inducing Commando perk has gone the way of the dodo, and will not be flipping out and killing people in Modern Warfare 3. The perk, which allows for furious cursing near instantaneous melee attacks over an extended range, has been removed as part of an overall multiplayer balancing effort, according to a tweet posted by Infinity Ward Creative Strategist Robert Bowling.

At the moment, it is unknown whether or not Commando's absence will also remove its Pro variant, which negated fall damage and provided a strategic advantage on key maps. It's possible that this enhancement may be reassigned to a new and/or different perk, however it could just have easily been sacrificed in the name of balance. In related news, replacement controller sales are expected to drop by a hundred billion percent.

JoystiqCommando perk removed from Modern Warfare 3 originally appeared on Joystiq on Sun, 31 Jul 2011 21:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Commando perk removed from Modern Warfare 3

July 31st, 2011 No comments
Love it or hate it, Modern Warfare 2's ninja-inducing Commando perk has gone the way of the dodo, and will not be flipping out and killing people in Modern Warfare 3. The perk, which allows for furious cursing near instantaneous melee attacks over an extended range, has been removed as part of an overall multiplayer balancing effort, according to a tweet posted by Infinity Ward Creative Strategist Robert Bowling.

At the moment, it is unknown whether or not Commando's absence will also remove its Pro variant, which negated fall damage and provided a strategic advantage on key maps. It's possible that this enhancement may be reassigned to a new and/or different perk, however it could just have easily been sacrificed in the name of balance. In related news, replacement controller sales are expected to drop by a hundred billion percent.

JoystiqCommando perk removed from Modern Warfare 3 originally appeared on Joystiq on Sun, 31 Jul 2011 21:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Paid DLC functionality coming to 3DS, Wii U

July 31st, 2011 No comments
3DS and Wii U developers will have the option to sell digital items in-game, Satoru Iwata revealed during an investor Q&A (summarized by Andriasang). Developers will have the option to sell extra content on 3DS by the end of the year; naturally, it won't arrive on Wii U until, like, the Wii U exists. For reference, both Wii and WiiWare games can offer paid DLC right now.

Iwata said that the use of paid DLC would increase Nintendo's own short-term profits, it wouldn't have a positive affect on the company's "relationship with customers," suggesting that this option will be used by third parties only. He also mentioned that Nintendo had no interest in free-to-play games.

Apparently, the 3DS internet connection is much more widely used than that of the DS. Iwata expressed an interest in promoting the purchase of downloadable software, an initiative that, according to Andriasang's translation, will be "a major point" for Nintendo in the next three years. Step one: actually offer a selection of downloads.

JoystiqPaid DLC functionality coming to 3DS, Wii U originally appeared on Joystiq on Sun, 31 Jul 2011 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments Tags: , , ,

GameSpasm is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache