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Archive for April, 2012

XCOM: Enemy Unknown videos introduce developers, artistic approach

April 30th, 2012 No comments

Fans of the original XCOM may have some concern regarding the upcoming reboot from Firaxis, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. But lead designer Jake Soloman wants to put those fears to bed - for him, the first game was "formative" and responsible for his life today as a game developer.

Continue reading XCOM: Enemy Unknown videos introduce developers, artistic approach

JoystiqXCOM: Enemy Unknown videos introduce developers, artistic approach originally appeared on Joystiq on Tue, 01 May 2012 01:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Super Meat Boy mobile to be twitch-based, but ‘not about memorization’

April 30th, 2012 No comments
Team Meat's Edmund McMillen has made some more comments as he goes mobile with a completely new version of Super Meat Boy. According to McMillen, Canabalt is providing some basic inspiration for development.

"Canabalt is closer to what we're thinking about. But Canabalt is very surface-level stuff," McMillen told Polygon. "[The original] Meat Boy was a twitch-based game about memorizing things. [iOS] Meat Boy is the opposite. That's the foundation of its design. But it's also on a touch device, so there's that as well. We want to make a twitch-based platformer that's not about memorization."

As for the art style - the mobile version forgoes the pixels for a more hand-drawn look - McMillen says the more "gentle" approach allows Team Meat to lull players in, only to surprise them with some shocking visuals. "I'm happy about the art style. The more gentle and nice we make it look, the more vicious the story can be. Wouldn't it be so awesome to bait kids in with this happy little Meat Boy thing and then, the ending of the first chapter, instead of the squirrel getting his head knocked off, Meat Boy gets his face sawed in half? Like a skinned looking face looking at the screen?"

Ultimately, McMillen said, "My goal is to scare the shit out of my three-year-old nephew."

JoystiqSuper Meat Boy mobile to be twitch-based, but 'not about memorization' originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 23:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Jawbone’s Big Jambox may be the only speaker you’ll ever need (review)

April 30th, 2012 No comments

Jawbone Big Jambox

It’s big. It’s boxy. And it can power tunes cordlessly for 15 hours.

Jawbone unveiled the Big Jambox today, a large wireless speaker that improves upon its popular and smaller older sibling in practically every way. With the Big Jambox, Jawbone continues to cement itself as an innovator in the oft-forgotten realm of audio devices, and it has crafted a device that’s even more useful than the original Jambox.

It’s funny how much companies can change in the span of a year. In 2010, Jawbone was only known for its Bluetooth headsets, but it changed things up last year with the Jambox wireless speaker — which quickly turned into a runaway success — and the Up fitness wristband. Unfortunately, a widespread defect forced Jawbone to offer full refunds for the Up shortly after it launched (sales still haven’t resumed), but that’s not slowing the company down.

I had a chance to jam out with the $299 Big Jambox over the weekend. And after testing it with plenty of tunes from Air, Gorillaz, Screaming Females, and a plethora of bombastic movie scores, I think it’s safe to call it another potential hit for Jawbone.

The Big Jambox sounds so good that it could end up being the only speaker many consumers need for music and movies. And since it’s portable — weighing in at 2.7 pounds with a built-in battery that lasts for up to 15 hours of music playback — it’s also one of the most useful speakers on the market.

(Of course, the Big Jambox doesn’t fully replace the need for a real home theater system, or a fancy bookshelf setup for music. But it’s ideal for consumers who don’t want to deal with the complicated setup and exorbitant expense of other solutions.)

The Good: Great sound, looks, and utility

Jawbone Big JamboxWhile the original Jambox did a fine job of filling a small room with sound, its diminutive stature limited its capabilities in large living rooms and outdoors. You can have a cute dorm room jam session with the original Jambox, but with the Big Jambox, you can hold a party that will truly annoy your neighbors.

At first glance, the Big Jambox merely looks like Jawbone’s first speaker made larger. It has the same boxy Yves Behar design and steel mesh grill. But under the hood, things are dramatically different. The Big Jambox sports two active neodymium drivers and two bass radiators (in the front and rear). The device’s enclosure is also entirely sealed, which increases power and volume efficiency.

The Big Jambox also sports a decent amount of computing power, which drives a multiband compression feature that removes distortion, and a loudness compensation algorithm. All of this means that you can play the Big Jambox at high volumes without any distortion — something that even more expensive speaker setups can’t offer.

Just like the first Jambox, the new version can play audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device with a range of 33 feet. Of course, there’s also a 3.5 millimeter line input for non-wireless devices. The Big Jambox also adds some very useful on-board buttons, including a dedicated Bluetooth pairing button, as well as buttons for controlling music playback. And after countless reports of the original Jambox dancing itself off of tables, Jawbone has wisely decided to add rubber feet to the Big Jambox.

Unlike the original, this Jambox can support multiple Bluetooth devices as once, so you and your friends can all take turns DJing at parties.

Jawbone Big JamboxI threw practically every musical genre at the Big Jambox and still came away impressed. It excelled at mid- and high-range notes, which made it ideal for Air’s unique soundscape and most electronic music. The Big Jambox had some trouble with extremely low-frequency notes, which are typically handled by external subwoofers, but it was nothing deal-breaking.

LiveAudio, Jawbone’s 3D audio technology, comes pre-installed on the Big Jambox, and it does a surprisingly great job of making audio sound more expansive. The software emulates left- and right-channel separation, so music that takes advantage of stereo positioning sounds especially good. I tested out LiveAudio on the original Jambox, but the Big Jambox can do a lot more with the technology thanks to its larger size.

The device is also well-suited for movies and TV — at least, if you’re not willing to set up a decent surround sound system. Unsurprisingly, the Big Jambox pumped out sound richer and louder than the built-in speakers in my plasma TV. Sound quality in HDTVs has actually gotten worse as sets have become thinner, so practically any external speaker setup would be an improvement.

Jawbone also touts Big Jambox’s “Type-1″ speakerphone compliancy, which means it passes a certain baseline of quality for enterprise use. I still use the original Jambox as a speakerphone today, and the Big Jambox improves upon it by allowing for group conference calls. Its omnidirectional microphone is positioned on top of the speaker, which makes it perfect for placing in the center of a table for group calls.

While the Big Jambox sounds great, its best feature is the ability to continue sounding great pretty much anywhere. Unlike traditional speakers that rarely ever move, the Big Jambox’s large battery and light weight makes it the perfect speaker for any room. It can move with you from the living room, to the kitchen, and even outdoors, without being chained down by wires.

The Bad: No Airplay, Wi-Fi, price may be tough to stomach

The original Jambox atop the Big Jambox

For some reason, consumers always seem to skimp on audio technology. Far too many people live with the iPod’s crummy white headphones, and only certain audiophiles (like this writer) will invest in a killer home theater setup. At $299, the Big Jambox may be too expensive for the typical consumer — though I’d wager that once they see how useful it can be, they won’t mind the cost.

Jawbone is also holding steady with the original Jambox’s $199 price, which means the Big Jambox is a pretty great deal considering how much better it sounds for $100 more.

It’s also surprising that Jawbone didn’t upgrade the device with Airplay (for potentially better sound quality from iOS devices) and Wi-Fi functionality, though I honestly didn’t miss either since Bluetooth worked well enough. Both of those technologies also could have cut into the Big Jambox’s playback time — Bluetooth was always designed as something for low-power devices.

The Lowdown: A surprisingly killer wireless speaker

I’ve been testing out several wireless audio products over the last few weeks, and the Big Jambox ranks among the leaders. It’s gorgeously designed, sounds fantastic, and is one of the most useful devices I’ve reviewed.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to test out the Sonos Play:3, which is the Big Jambox’s direct competitor at $299. But it stood up well against my Audioengine 2 computer speakers, as well as my home theater setup (a Harmon Kardon receiver with Onkyo speakers + sub). That alone tells me that Jawbone has crafted something special.

The Big Jambox will be available on May 15 for $299, with pre-orders starting today.


Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Jawbone’s Big Jambox may be the only speaker you’ll ever need (review)

April 30th, 2012 No comments

Jawbone Big Jambox

It’s big. It’s boxy. And it can power tunes cordlessly for 15 hours.

Jawbone unveiled the Big Jambox today, a large wireless speaker that improves upon its popular and smaller older sibling in practically every way. With the Big Jambox, Jawbone continues to cement itself as an innovator in the oft-forgotten realm of audio devices, and it has crafted a device that’s even more useful than the original Jambox.

It’s funny how much companies can change in the span of a year. In 2010, Jawbone was only known for its Bluetooth headsets, but it changed things up last year with the Jambox wireless speaker — which quickly turned into a runaway success — and the Up fitness wristband. Unfortunately, a widespread defect forced Jawbone to offer full refunds for the Up shortly after it launched (sales still haven’t resumed), but that’s not slowing the company down.

I had a chance to jam out with the $300 Big Jambox over the weekend. And after testing it with plenty of tunes from Air, Gorillaz, Screaming Females, and a plethora of bombastic movie scores, I think it’s safe to call it another potential hit for Jawbone.

The Big Jambox sounds so good that it could end up being the only speaker many consumers need for music and movies. And since it’s portable — weighing in at 2.7 pounds with a built-in battery that lasts for up to 15 hours of music playback — it’s also one of the most useful speakers on the market.

(Of course, the Big Jambox doesn’t fully replace the need for a real home theater system, or a fancy bookshelf setup for music. But it’s ideal for consumers who don’t want to deal with the complicated setup and expense of other solutions.)

The Good: Great sound, looks, and utility

While the original Jambox did a fine job of filling a small room with sound, its diminutive stature limited its capabilities in large living rooms and outdoors. You can have a cute dorm room jam session with the original Jambox, but with the Jambox Big, you can hold a party that will truly annoy your neighbors.

At first glance, the Jambox Big merely looks like Jawbone’s first speaker made larger. It has the same boxy design and steel mesh grill. But under the hood, things are dramatically different. The Big Jambox sports two active neodymium drivers and two bass radiators (in the front and rear). The device’s enclosure is also entirely sealed, which increases power and volume efficiency.

The Big Jambox also sports a decent amount of computing power, which drives a multiband compression feature that removes distortion, and a loudness compensation algorithm. All of this means that you can play the Big Jambox at high volumes without any distortion — something that even more expensive speaker setups can’t offer.

Just like the first Jambox, the new version can play audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device with a range of 33 feet. Of course, there’s also a 3.5 millimeter line input for non-wireless devices. The Big Jambox also adds some very useful on-board buttons, including a dedicated Bluetooth pairing button, as well as buttons for controlling music playback.

I threw practically every musical genre at the Big Jambox and still came away impressed.

Developing, refresh for updates.


Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Sega CEO Mike Hayes stepping down

April 30th, 2012 No comments
Sega Europe and Sega America CEO Mike Hayes is stepping down and exiting the building, though he may peek in through the second-floor window every now and then in an "advisory role." If the Sega corporate ladder is no longer available, the garden variety should suffice.

According to GamesIndustry, the departing executive will remain in the industry in assorted capacities, while COO Jurgen Post and Masano Maeda oversee the company in Europe and America, respectively. Sega has not yet confirmed when or how it intends to fill the CEO role in the future.

Sega's American arm was recently struck with unspecified game cancellations, layoffs and significant restructuring in an effort to create a smaller, more profitable business. The company intends to prioritize digital games and safe, mac-and-cheese IPs like Sonic, Total War and Aliens.

JoystiqSega CEO Mike Hayes stepping down originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 22:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sega CEO Mike Hayes stepping down

April 30th, 2012 No comments
Sega Europe and Sega America CEO Mike Hayes is stepping down and exiting the building, though he may peek in through the second-floor window every now and then in an "advisory role." If the Sega corporate ladder is no longer available, the garden variety should suffice.

According to GamesIndustry, the departing executive will remain in the industry in assorted capacities, while COO Jurgen Post and Masano Maeda oversee the company in Europe and America, respectively. Sega has not yet confirmed when or how it intends to fill the CEO role in the future.

Sega's American arm was recently struck with unspecified game cancellations, layoffs and significant restructuring in an effort to create a smaller, more profitable business. The company intends to prioritize digital games and safe, mac-and-cheese IPs like Sonic, Total War and Aliens.

JoystiqSega CEO Mike Hayes stepping down originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 22:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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How GeoHot went from winning science fairs to instigating the hacker war

April 30th, 2012 No comments
ImageHackers built the Internet. Throughout the 1970s and '80s hackers altered the Internet from a strictly business communications system for the defense department and librarians into a robust online community for anyone with a computer to use as they pleased. The Internet and computer technology is still evolving, perhaps at a a faster, more public rate today, and hackers are still at the forefront of its design. Hackers such as Geohot, the guy who rooted Sony's PS3 early last year.

George Hotz posted the PS3 root key online with a statement reading "I don't condone piracy" in January 2011 and it spread online. Geohot became an unsuspecting martyr in the hacker community when Sony sued him and won an injunction barring him from ever tampering with a Sony product again. Thus began the hacker wars, The New Yorker suggests in a biographical run-down of 2011's events.

Hotz was brilliant in science and technology fields throughout middle and high school, winning $15,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2007 and appearing in Forbes and on The Today Show for his technological achievements.

He hacked the PS3 master key while he was high on OxyContin and Vicodin. He didn't condone or participate in any of Anonymous' hacks into Sony's servers, and since his online spotlight has faded he's worked for Facebook, quit and run amok in Panama, and met with Sony engineers curious about his methodology. He has reminders to "Call therapist" on his whiteboard. Geohotz is human, The New Yorker makes sure to point out.

The full story is available here, or we figure you can just watch this eerily similar dramatic recreation of an antisocial programmer's rise to fame. They're both human, after all.

JoystiqHow GeoHot went from winning science fairs to instigating the hacker war originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 21:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Incubators matter: The average Y Combinator company is worth $45.2M

April 30th, 2012 No comments

Y Combinator startups are excited about all the value the incubator is creating

Does it matter whether your fledgling company spends a stint in an incubator? Does it ever! Forbes‘ recent ranking of incubators around the country found that the average Y Combinator company is worth $45.2 million. Just try doing that on your own.

That’s the average across 172 companies, mind you: The total value of all Y Combinator companies is $7.8 billion. “The data is of course skewed by certain large companies,” Forbes admits, among them Dropbox and Airbnb, although Mountain View, Calif.-based Y Combinator didn’t spell out how much each of its alumni are worth.

As the article notes, Sequoia Captial, Andreessen Horowitz, Yuri Milner, and Ron Conway together have provided a guarantee of $150,000 in funding for every company accepted to the prestigious club. But the real value is in the other entrepreneurs as well as investors who are plugged in to Y Combinator’s now-potent network.

The number-two incubator 0n the list is TechStars, which started in Boulder, Colo., and now has spaces in New York, Seattle, Boston, and San Antonio, Texas. TechStars has hosted 114 companies to date, and while the Forbes story doesn’t say what their total worth is, it does note that 73 of the companies have raised a total of $134 million in venture capital so far.

“It’s become a new college for entrepreneurs because we’re so selective on front end,” said TechStars founder David Cohen, of the incubator model. Sure: If colleges paid you six figures instead of the other way around, and if you came out of college owning a significant chunk of a multimillion-dollar company instead of owning a ZipCar membership and a handful of maxed-out credit cards, then the analogy is a good one.

DreamIt Ventures (Philadelphia, New York, and Israel), AngelPad (San Francisco), and LaunchPad LA round out the top 5 in Forbes’ list.

Via Forbes

Photo credit: Al Abut/Flickr


Filed under: VentureBeat

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Incubators matter: The average Y Combinator company is worth $45.2M

April 30th, 2012 No comments

Y Combinator startups are excited about all the value the incubator is creating

Does it matter whether your fledgling company spends a stint in an incubator? Does it ever: In Forbes‘ recent ranking of incubators around the country, it found that the average Y Combinator company is worth $45.2 million. Just try doing that on your own.

That’s the average across 172 companies, mind you: The total value of all Y Combinator companies is $7.8 billion. “The data is of course skewed by certain large companies,” Forbes admits, among them Dropbox and Airbnb, although Mountain View, Calif.-based Y Combinator didn’t spell out how much each of its alumni were worth.

As the article notes, Sequoia Captial, Andreessen Horowitz, Yuri Milner, and Ron Conway together have provided a guarantee of $150,00 in funding for every company accepted to the prestigious club. But the real value is in the other entrepreneurs as well as investors who are plugged in to Y Combinator’s now-potent network.

The number-two incubator in the list is TechStars, which started in Boulder, Colorado and now has spaces in New York, Seattle, Boston, and San Antonio, Texas. TechStars has hosted 114 companies to date, and while the story doesn’t say what their total worth is, it does note that 73 of the companies have raised a total of $134 million in venture capital so far.

“It’s become a new college for entrepreneurs because we’re so selective on front end,” said TechStars founder David Cohen, of the incubator model. Sure: If colleges paid you six figures instead of the other way around, and if you came out of college owning a significant chunk of a multimillion-dollar company instead of owning a ZipCar membership and a handful of maxed-out credit cards, then the analogy is a good one.

DreamIt Ventures (Philadelphia, New York, and Israel), AngelPad (San Francisco), and LaunchPad LA round out the top 5 in Forbes’ list.

Via Forbes

Photo credit: Al Abut/Flickr

 

 


Filed under: VentureBeat

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Skyrim Kinect patch out tomorrow; here’s a list of voice commands

April 30th, 2012 No comments
Tomorrow Bethesda hatches its scheme to coax your inner Dragonborn into speaking - well, Dragonborn with a second-language credit in English, anyway. The free Kinect update adds over 200 different voice recognition commands to English-speaking regions; there are a bunch of new things to memorize, so Bethesda made a handy glossary for you to load up on your iPad or print out. The .pdf files can be accessed by clicking here.

Simply boot up Skyrim and install the mandatory Xbox 360 update tomorrow. After spending some time with it ourselves earlier this month, we liked how it bypassed a lot of menu work. The Bethesda Blog says the German, Italian, Spanish and French versions are all "in final testing" and that we should hear more regarding those territories soon.

JoystiqSkyrim Kinect patch out tomorrow; here's a list of voice commands originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 20:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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