Topic games

MIT's New System Converts 2D Video Of Soccer Games Into 3D Automatically

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in games on (#TDM0)
story imageA wide spread adoption of 3D stereoscopic television is hindered by the lack of high-quality 3D content. One promising solution to address this need is to use automated 2D-to-3D conversion. However, current conversion methods produce low-quality results that exhibit artifacts that are not acceptable to many viewers. By exploiting the graphics-rendering software that powers sports video games, researchers at MIT and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) have developed a system that automatically converts 2-D video of soccer games into 3-D. The converted video can be played back over any 3-D device — a commercial 3-D TV, or Google’s new Cardboard system, which turns smartphones into 3-D displays, or special-purpose displays such as Oculus Rift.

Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) movies are becoming popular with most of big productions being released in this format. However, in practice, most movies are shot in 2D and then they are upconverted to S3D by manually painting depth maps and rendering corresponding views. This process yields very good results but it is extremely costly and time-consuming. Stereoscopic 3D production of live events is much harder. Manual upconversion is not possible. Shooting live events, such as soccer games, directly in stereo requires placing multiple stereo rigs in the stadium. This is challenging and it is rarely being attempted. Therefore, a high-quality, automated 2D-to-3D conversion method is highly desired for live events.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata dies at age 55

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in games on (#E5R5)
story imageSatoru Iwata, president of Nintendo from 2002, died of a tumor Saturday at Kyoto University Hospital, after a lengthy illness. He was 55. He had not been seen recently at game events, such as E3 in Los Angeles, where he was usually a participant. The announcement drew a flood of emotional tributes from game fans and industry rivals.

Iwata led Nintendo's development into a global company, with its hit Wii home console and DS handheld, and also through its recent troubles caused by the popularity of smartphones. Iwata had been poised to lead Nintendo through another stage after it recently did an about-face and said it will start making games for smartphones, meaning that Super Mario would soon start arriving on cellphones and tablets. The company returned to profit in the fiscal year ended March 2015 after several years of losses.

Iwata succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi, who ruled over the Kyoto-based company for half a century, transforming it from a traditional playing-card company to a technological powerhouse. Iwata is survived by his wife Kayoko. A funeral service will be held on July 17. His replacement was not immediately announced, but the company said star game designer Shigeru Miyamaoto will remain in the leadership team along with Genyo Takeda.

GamerGate, two months on: a story of change in the industry

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in games on (#2TZT)
story imageTwo months after the story first broke, GamerGate continues to roll on and make headlines, and though it remains a polarized issue, here is an update posted with hopes it will be informative, not inflammatory. After all, many would argue gamergate isn't about gaming, it's about censorship in the media and on the 'Net. If that's the case, it affects and impacts all of us.

Here's and update on what's happened over the past few weeks.

1) Operation Disrespectful Nod has successfully convinced many advertizers to pull out of media publications such as Gamasutra, Polygon, Kotaku and parent Gawker Media.

2) Users have generated lots of new material, from blog posts and youtube videos to memes and articles by smaller publications. They demonstrate the diversity in members for the movement, feminist, anti-feminist, conservatives, liberals, male, female, black, white, LGBT and everything in between. This is a community that isn't going to go down easy. At a minimum, check out GamerGate in 60 seconds, The Evidence and History of GamerGate, The Monsters of GG, or NotYourShield - We Are Gamers.

3) A couple publications have now updated their code of ethic policies including: The Escapist and IGN.

4) New Gaming sites are being established, such as Good Gamers and Niche Gamer.

5) New MetaCritic tool (MyMetaCritic) is under development. It's called MyMediaCritic, and it will provide a place for readers and consumers to rate the different online media outlets, journalists, and youtubers. Their initial alpha release will focus on the Games industry; once the alpha is successful, they plan on growing into other industries as well.

6) Finally, The David Pakman Show has started reporting on the controversy and has published a series of informative interviews with both pro and anti GamerGate supporters. Good stuff, as he makes it clear he is in neither camp, just trying to get to the bottom of the issue. Otherwise, the pro- and anti-camps are pretty well established. Brianna Wu received threats, and alleges they were from GamerGate supporters. As for Arthur Chu, well judge for yourself.1Liana Kerzner (Canadian tech and gaming blogger), Matthew Rappard (from The Fine Young Capitalists), and Fredrick "Hot Wheels" Brennan (the Admin of 8Chan.co) are considered neutral reporters of the situation; and John Bain (AKA Total Biscuit), Milo Yiannopoulos (recently banned, then reinstated on Twitter), and Jennie Bharaj are considered to be supporters. David Pakman hasn't had an easy time conducting the interviews: many prominent people opposed to GamerGate refused to be recorded, and some went as far as to accuse him of leading a hate mob. Check out this tweet from Nov 1, for example: “Overnight, received many emails saying if I don't apologize for neutrality on GamerGate, I'm guilty of leading a hate mob against women”

7) When GamerGate supporters started questioning IGF judging practice one IGF judge had a “meltdown” on twitter and quit. IGF released an apology shortly after, after being hounded on twitter for "throwing the judge under the bus" for discussing the judging process and other judges started expressing displeasure and threatening to pull out of judging in protest.

There's a silver lining in the cloud of bitterness and vitriol, and it's clear this scandal is leading to important change. For one, Women, Action, and Media (WAM) has partnered with Twitter in the development of a new anti-harassment tool. Though it allows Twitter to censor harassment – especially against women – it too has caused controversy, as it is already being abused to falsely report GamerGate supporters in an effort to silence the protest.

Is this thing done? No way. Next thing we'll be hearing is Anita Sarkeesian lobbying for broader social media tools that allow for further censorship without accountability... oh wait ...

1 Hey ... he was good on Jeopardy, at least!

World of Warcraft Patch 6.0 arrives Tuesday October 14

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in games on (#2T7J)
The next major patch of World of Warcraft goes live this Tuesday. Included in this update are all the new skill changes, talent trees, attribute modifications, and profession reworks of the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion pack. Although the Iron Horde have invaded Netherguard around the Dark Portal, the revamped Outland area and level cap extension do not unlock until the full release on November 13.

If you are like me and have avoided playing for the last year during the extended lapse of new content, you may want to log back in and check out the changes. Another bonus is a revamped 5-man Upper Blackrock Spire instance that will be available to level 90s for a limited time.

The King of Scrabble

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in games on (#2S4E)
story imageOliver Roeder gives competitive Scrabble a serious analysis in a recent pair of articles previewing and covering the 2014 National Scrabble Championship, with a focus on the man who is considered the world's best: Nigel Richards.
In a game in 1998, then-newcomer Richards had a rack of CDHLRN? (“?” denotes a blank tile). There was an E available on the board; Richards could have played CHILDREN for a bingo and a 50-point bonus. Instead, Richards played through two disconnected Os and an E. The word? The 10-letter CHLORODYNE.

If you’re wondering what the word means — well, it means Richards is the greatest Scrabble player to ever live.

SIMS 4 not meeting expectations

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in games on (#2S3R)
story imageSIMS 4 has been out long enough for reviewers and gamers to provide feedback on the latest chapter in the mighty SIMS franchise. So far the reviews have not been highly positive.

The game has a number of issues with the most disturbing being deformed babies leading to galleries of deformed SIMS 4 babies. The consensus at this stage is that the game is ok, lacks game mechanics users expect in a SIMS game, has some new quirks, and generally could be a lot better.

EA has apparently not learnt from the last SIMCity debacle with SIMS 4 requiring an Origin account and internet connectivity to register. Players are disappointed. Too bad! Given the resources EA commands and that 5 years have passed since the last SIMS this game could have been awesome.

Parkitect Theme Park Simulation Game on Kickstarter!

by
Anonymous Coward
in games on (#2S05)
story imageNot sure what you're doing at this very moment, but whatever it is, it's probably not quite as fun as designing a theme park full of roller coasters, icecream stands, and the rest. Enter "Parkitect" to relieve you from your misery.

"http://www.themeparkitect.com/Parkitect is a simulation game where you get to build a successful theme park! Design roller coasters, install shops and thrill rides, and top it all off with incredible scenery and dynamic landscapes. Management is key: you'll have to look after employees, resources, and park infrastructure. Fail at that and face the consequences! Unhappy cashiers might annoy guests, unhappy custodians will leave your park a mess, and unhappy ride maintenance teams will leave your guests a mess."

Looks like the game doesn't officially exist yet, but check out the kickstarter to begin, and the current plan is to get the game into alpha and onto Steam Greenlight/Early Access by August 2015. Below are some more follow-on URLs if you're curious.

= Kickstarter:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1548960623/parkitect

= YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6BcFPjoz2-GHsoQelaav3w

= Screenshots:

http://www.themeparkitect.com/images/screenshot01.png
http://www.themeparkitect.com/images/screenshot02.png
http://www.themeparkitect.com/images/screenshot03.png
http://www.themeparkitect.com/images/screenshot04.png
http://www.themeparkitect.com/images/screenshot06.png
http://www.themeparkitect.com/images/screenshot07.png

[Ed. note: I thinned out the list of submitted URLs as there were too many, but there's a wealth of information, trailers, press kits, and more about this game if you are interested in pursuing further.]

Google confirms purchase of Twitch for $1 billion

by
in games on (#3RQ)
story imageAfter all the rumours and speculation, back-and-forth, and legal wrangling, it is complete: Google has completed its purchase of Twitch.

We had heard rumours about it, but it's now official. The exact price of purchase and official announcement are yet to come, but investors are reportedly happy about the deal. Considering Google's ownership of Youtube, this will give them firm control over online game session streaming. Venturebeat states:
The deal underscores the value of live Internet streaming and the rise of competitive gaming as a spectator sport — something that draws millions of viewers, can offer prize pools that surpass pro golf’s marquee events, and provides a multibillion dollar opportunity for advertisers.
Author note: What do you think of this, pipers? (That's how we're calling ourselves, right?) Considering Google's often clumsy attempts to control copyrighted material on Youtube, does this spell doom for many Twitch channels? As Twitch users would say, is it time for us to declare: "Rip in peace, Twitch."?

Mozilla's asm.js framework launches to improve web-based gaming

by
in games on (#3RG)
story imageSerious gamers look to dedicated hardware and serious firepower for their gaming experience, but the casual gamer turns to the web, and probably has to start by downloading and installing a plug-in first. That turns a lot of gamers off, and Mozilla hopes to do something about it. Says TechCrunch:
For the longest time, web-based gaming meant that you had to install (often dubious) plugins to make games run smoothly in your browser. WebGL and other technologies changed that a bit in recent years, but because JavaScript isn’t exactly a speed freak, plugin-free gaming never quite took off. Mozilla has been trying to work around this with asm.js, a subset of JavaScript that can run extremely fast in Firefox and today, the organization announced that the first commercial 3D game based on asm.js is about to launch.
That game is Dungeon Defenders Eternity, playable on the desktop via Steam, or on the web at playverse.com. A mix of tower defense and role playing styles, looks like a a fun game first, but a good test of a new technology as well. Mozilla's ASM.js may not be revolutionary, but it does stand a chance at improving the ease with which the casual gamer can simply start up a game on the web without needing to worry about downloading and installing a plug-in.

Xbox Entertainment Studios cut in Nadella's Re-org

by
in games on (#3R6)
story imageThe victims and beneficiaries of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's reorgnanization are now known, and among the casualties of today's big Microsoft layoffs will be original content planned for the Xbox: Xbox Entertainment Studios. As first reported by Re/Code, the shutdown will occur in the next few months, Xbox chief Phil Spencer wrote in a memo to staff.
Xbox Entertainment Studios was founded last year in order to produce original content for the Xbox platform. The L.A.-based, 125-person studio was led by former CBS television president Nancy Tellem, who remains "committed to new, original programming already in production," Spencer said today.
XBox Entertainment Studios had a short life. It was announced only a year ago, but design decisions led to poor reviews. Among its weaknesses, the software was bloated and slow, and Microsoft not only hobbled it with DDR3 memory but also needlessly restricted the games to using only 6 of the 8 cores.

[Author note: I have an AMD 8320 and Win8.1, it utilizes only 2% of the processor at idle. And the Xbox doesn't have full on Win8, but a stripped down, slower version running on two full cores. Win8.1, for all it's bad press, is very fast and works great for a gaming rig simply because it does have a smaller footprint and uses much less of the processor. Most of the biggest complaints have been corrected and there's always classic shell. So there is no reason a stripped down Win8 needs 2 full cores. Next Gen just isn't going to live up to it's promise. At least not on the Xbox One.]

[2014-07-21 11:10 Ed. note: corrected misspelled CEO's name.]
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