The makers of the point-and-click adventure game Machinarium came to a realization recently. Their DRM-free game was being pirated by about 90% of players. Such is life for a game that doesn't bother users with serials or authentication. A similar rate of piracy was found for the DRM-free World of Goo. However, the folks behind Machinarium are feeling generous, and are offering people the opportunity to participate in their new pirate amnesty sale.
Until August 12th, Machinarium (and its soundtrack) will cost only $5. It usually goes for $20. The game is available for PC, Mac, and Linux. In Machinarium you play as an unassuming robot traveling through a beautifully detailed world mechanical malcontents. We grabbed this game from Steam a while back, and can testify to its quality and challenging puzzle-based gameplay.
You don't need to prove you pirated the game to join in the fun. Anyone is free to buy the game during the sale. If you like point-and-click style casual games, $5 is a reasonable price to pay. You can check out a demo of the game, and buy it here.
Do we need another gaming service? If OnLive succeeds the way its developers hope, it could be the only service you’ll ever use again. After sampling OnLive over several weeks, we believe in the technology—but we’re not at all sold on the licensing model.
Instead of downloading entire games—a la Steam—or buying discs from an e-tailer or brick-and-mortar store, OnLive streams games instantly. On the upside, the service boasts astonishingly low client-side hardware requirements, because OnLive’s servers execute the game code and stream 1280x720-resolution video to your PC (or Mac). Your computer sends packets containing your in-game actions back up the pipe to OnLive. All you need is a dual-core CPU. We’re talking any dual-core—even Intel’s Atom 330 will do the trick. You don’t need discrete graphics, either.
If you've been dismissing the rumors that Google is about to take on Facebook in the social networking space, let this set you straight. Google has just bought social game developer Slide for $182 million. There are already murmurs that El Goog is looking to make more acquisitions of this sort soon. With this and a partnership with Zynga, Google looks to be building up to something. Google Me perhaps?
Slide makes simple Facebook games in the same vein as Zynga. Just like Zynga, these games are given value by having a community of players that can interact. This will be the biggest hurdle for Google. Just having Farmville or SuperPoke Pets on a social networking site won't cut it; there needs to be a community around it. Right now, Facebook is that community.
Google has many of the pieces of a social site with services like YouTube, profiles, Gtalk, and Buzz. They just need to be assembled with a few games for good measure. Can Google tempt people to join its own social ecosystem?
We have to give props to Ed Fries, the former vice president of Microsoft's game publishing division, for going out and not only recreating Halo for the Atari 2600, but for putting together an actual cartridge that's playable on the legacy console so many gamers grew up with.
Halo 2600, as it's aptly called, made its debut at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this past weekend. It all started off as a simple project to help learn the system, but Fries took it a giant step further by turning it into an actual game with the goal of creating it using no more than 4 kilobytes of data.
The finished game plays something like a cross between "Adventure" and "Berzerk." You control Master Chief through 64 rooms with different enemies to shoot and items to pick up, culminating in a final boss battle.
Good luck trying to add Halo 2600 to your collection, though, as only about 100 cartridges were produced. If all you want to do is play the game, you can do so online for free at www.halo2600.com.
Word all over the Web is that on September 29, 2010, Nintendo will finally reveal pricing details for its upcoming 3DS handheld gaming console, and also give it a release date. Or at least that's what everyone is reporting from all corners of cyber space. We did a little digging and it appears the source of this inside info is someone inside Bloomberg's Japan operations, who claims to have heard the news during a phone interview with Mr. Yasushi Hiroshi Minagawa, a Nintendo spokesman.
The big selling point of the 3DS is that it will produce glasses-free 3D visuals using some type of parallax barrier display technology. Other features include a motion sensor, a gyroscope that willl likely be used to adjust perspective in 3D landscapes, tilt-sensitive gameplay, and a persistent Wi-Fi connection capable of downloading games in the background.
While it looks like we'll have to wait until late September to find out exactly when the 3DS is coming, speculation has the release date pegged for sometime in the first quarter of 2011.
I’m amazed you’re even reading this. Not because the quality of the prose is lacking in this week’s roundup of open-source and freeware applications, mind you. Rather, if you haven’t noticed by the coverage (and advertising) permeating just about every known tech site in the universe right now, Starcraft 2 just came out. It’s a miracle I’ve been able to tear myself away from defending humanity to write this but, well, my heart for free software is just too strong.
While it would be awesome to give you some kind of “Top 5 ways to get Starcraft 2 for free” article or something like that, it’s just not happening. And no, before you ask, there really aren’t any launchers or applications specifically designed for the game that can give you some kind of competitive edge or awesome third-party tie-in just yet. Wishful, if not silly thinking, no?
However, that’s not to say that applications don’t exist that could otherwise enhance your Starcraft 2 gaming experience in some capacity. Like I said, nothing’s been written specifically for the title, but there are a number of useful, free apps that you can use to otherwise bolster your gaming-life-that-just-so-happens-to-be-Blizzard’s-latest-title. I apologize for the tongue-twistedness of it all; simply put, you can use the following 5 apps to make Starcraft 2—or any game—rock just a little bit more.
Let’s say someone’s just given you a jack-in-the-box. He then motions for you to crank the handle, so you give it a whirl. Round and round it goes until—boom—out comes a platter with the world’s most delicious cake on it. Awesome! Before long, you want more cake, so you crank the handle again—only this time, a fist rockets out and punches you right in your cakehole. You try again. Another fist. Again. Fist. But then, finally, cake.
That’s Alpha Protocol in a nutshell. More often than not, the game rewards your efforts with a frustrating menagerie of awful design choices and glitch-ridden combat. But every once in a while, everything comes together, and you get a tiny, shimmering glimpse of what it might feel like to actually be James Bond or Jason Bourne.
Starcraft is arguably the most popular game of all time, and certainly one of the most enduring. Will the sequel live up to the original? Blizzard certainly thinks so, which would explain why the developer has spent over $100 million on the project thus far, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
"There is no shortage of consumers for Starcraft," Activision Chief Executive Bobby Kotick said in an interview last month. "For a game that is more than 10 years old, there's millions of people still playing it.
Despite the big budget, Activision-Blizzard fully expects the Starcraft franchise to rake in up to ten times as much in profits. Kotick described Starcraft as one of the company's seven "pillars of opportunity" during an analyst meeting last month, and said that each pillar could deliver between $500 million and $1 billion of operating profit over its lifespan.
Interestingly, Starcraft II won't use a subscription model in the U.S., though the game will carry a monthly fee in other markets, such as Korea, WSJ reports.
Who says adventure gaming is dead? With a handful of exceptions, the adventure game genre might not be particularly lucrative anymore, nor will the Call of Duty crowd ever understand what all the fuss was about. But for those of us constantly looking over our heads for three-headed monkeys (or "look south" for you Zork-anites), we're pleased as punch to see fellow fans keep the genre alive.
Such is the case with Phoenix Online Studios, a collection of fan developers who at one point received a cease and desist letter from Activision for their work on a fan-made sequel to King's Quest called The Silver Lining. After extensive discussions and a recognition of "the overwhelming community support," Activision eventually caved and allowed the project to go on.
Eight years in the making, the first chapter in The Silver Lining is finally available for download, and not only is it free, but it gets the nod from Roberta Williams, the famed game designer responsible for the original King's Quest series.
"Now, there is a chance that many can truly find out what happens to the royal family of the Kingdom of Daventry," Williams is quoted as saying on The Silver Lining's site. "This game is very true to the original series and features many of the storylines and characters, especially of King's Quest VI. I found it beautiful and fun to play. I, too, like many other fans, would like to see how this story unfolds!
Robert, like the rest of us, will be able to do that through five episodes, the first of which is available now.
You can add short attention spans to the list of ailments that affect frequent gamers, suggests a new study published in the July issue of Pediatrics, Television, and Video Game Exposure and the Development of Attention Problems.
The study, which was conducted by Edward Swing and his team of researchers at Iowa State University, examined two different age groups, including middle schoolers (third to fifth graders) and 2010 college students. They wanted to see if there was any danger in exceeding the 2-hour max limit for TV viewing and videogame playing as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Those who exceeded the AAP recommendation were about 1.6 times to 2.2 times more likely to have greater than average attention problems," the study concludes.
This isn't the first study to link screen time with short attention spans.
"There may well be a relation between television viewing and attention problems," said Dr. David Elkind, professor emeritus of child development at Tufts University.