Slow and steady wins the race against piracy? That's probably the mantra that came of EA and DICE's recent mind-meld, in which the publisher-developer duo decided to keep lithe heroine Faith from tip-toeing across PC rooftops until 2009 -- at least two months after consolites get their fix.
Now, today, after an almost conspicuously lengthy session of nonchalant whistling and faux-confused shoulder-shrugging, EA has announced a release window for its totalitarian twist on the formula Mario laid forth.
"The PC version of Mirror’s Edge will ship in North America in January 2009," said the press release. But that's not all.
"To keep the action coming after launch, DICE is currently developing downloadable content that will be available at the beginning of the year. More details to be announced shortly."
A late release to keep pirates from affecting sales figures? A spot of DLC to make players think twice about dumping Mirror's Edge in GameStop's used games section? Sounds like EA's really playing things safe with this franchise. It's just a damn shame that we all have to suffer for it.
Actually, "damn" isn't quite potent enough to describe the shame stream that currently plagues this situation. Jump past the break to see a more fitting phrase.
For many, supercomputing seems like something that’s out of reach. At the most, we’ll usually just contribute our spare processor cycles to a project that involves it. But Purdue University is looking to change all that with their latest venture, Rack-A-Node.
Rack-A-Node is a flash-based game that requires you to become the network admin, and set up each rack so that they hold a solid cluster of servers that are good at tackling a variety of different tasks. From chemistry to physics, it’s all up to you to figure out if you’ll need more CPU power, more RAM or a wicked fast connection.
While the game isn’t meant to actually turn the average man into a supercomputing whiz, it is meant to let us get one step closer to it. “This is a dry and boring topic even for geeks,” claimed Gerry McCartney, the chief information officer at Purdue. “So, we wanted a way to get people excited about these things.”
Evidently they’ve been asked to create a more sophisticated version of the game that would be designed as a learning tool. “It is not stupid right now, but it’s way too simple,” Mr. McCartney said.
Google’s been on a real spree lately, rolling out one improvement after another for their Gmail service. Looks like that’s not about to stop, as they’ve just announced that the service's built-in messenger will be getting noticeably beefier with the addition of voice and video chat.
The feature will be built right into the Gmail page (no client download required) and will allow anyone to chat in real time with other Gmail users. Google has posted a video showing off how the feature functions, and frankly it looks pretty damn cool.
The service certainly isn’t as full featured as voice-chat top-dog Skype (it cannot, for instance, connect to a regular phone), but it looks like it might be just the thing for a quick chat with someone you’ve been talking to with email or Gmail’s chat. And, knowing Google, it’s probably just a matter of time until the service’s features are fully fleshed out.
The service is available now, and requires a plugin download.
Do you use video or voice chat on your computer? Will you give Gmail’s new service a try? Let us know after the jump.
This month's Patch Tuesday, unlike October's, is a quiet one, with just two security bulletins:
MS08-069 solves a remote code execution vulnerability in Microsoft's XML Core Service that is rated as Critical for version 3.0 and Important for later versions. All 32-bit and 64-bit desktop versions of Windows from Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 are affected, as well as Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007. The Exploitability Index is 1 (Consistent Exploit Code Likely - the most serious ranking) or 2 (Inconsistent Exploit Code Likely), depending upon the version of XML Core Services installed. Windows Server 2003 and some installations of Windows Server 2008 are also affected.
MS08-068 patches a remote code execution vulnerability in the SMB protocol. MS08-068 is rated as Important for Windows 2000 SP4 and Windows XP, and Moderate for Windows Vista. Windows Server 2003 and all Windows Server 2008 installations are also affected. Despite Microsoft's rating this vulnerability as only Important rather than Critical, MS08-068's Exploitability Index is 1 because exploit code targeting Windows XP is already public.
That's it for Patch Tuesday security bulletins, both of which will be arriving soon via Windows Update (or can be downloaded manually if you prefer). What else has Microsoft served up?
The only non-security content this time is the usual monthly update for the Malicious Software Removal Tool (KB890830; not yet updated as this article was posted now updated) and the usual monthly update for the Windows Mail junk mail filter (KB905866), available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
The argument against used games is that by buying them, you're cheating the developer out of potential profits he or she may otherwise have obtained had you purchased the game as new. The obvious flaw is that not everyone who purchases used games at a discount would have bought the title for a premium price as a new release, so the question of how much the used game market actually affects developers remains an open-ended one.
Nevertheless, developers and publishers are brainstorming on ways in which they can either deter gamers from buying used games or cash in on the sales, and some of those ideas are sure to irk the gaming community. Take for example Epic president Mike Capps, who claims some developers would like to see additional fees tacked on to used titles in order to complete the game.
"I've talked to some developers who are saying 'If you want to fight the final boss you go online and pay $20, but if you bought the retail version you got it for free," explained Capps to GamesIndustry.
Developers and publishers have already started to push one-time download codes for new games, such as the 20-song bonus tracks available to Rock Band 2 owners, as well as DLC codes in games like Gears of War 2 and NBA Live 09. But if DLC codes fail to lure more buyers from the outset, you can bet that developers will continue to cast an eye towards the used games market and come up with increasingly obtrusive strategies for cashing in.
DivX has begun offering its upcoming DivX Player 7.0 in Beta 1 form, and with it support for MKV files containing high definition H.264 video and surround sound AAC audio.
DivX has been playing around with H.264 support for some time now as part of its "Rémoulade" project, but this marks the first player release to incorporate this capability. DivX says the player's H.264 video decoding will come with support for Baseline, Main, High, High 10, and High 4:2:2 profiles, full interlace support, multithreading decoding on up to 8 CPU cores, and optimizations for MMX, SSE, and SSE2 instruction sets.
The release will also contain several general improvements over the currently shipping DivX Player 6.8.2, including wider Direct3D videocard compatibility, the return of the GDI renderer allowing the player to display video when no hardware acceleration is available, and better handling of AVI files that have a broken index, and improved support for media created with the company's DivX Author application.
Microsoft has released its DirectX November 2008 update as part of the company's loosely followed bi-annual update schedule. The last DirectX update was served up in August.
A number of enhancements mostly of interest to developers come packaged in the November DirectX SDK, as well as a Direct3D 11 technical preview with associated components and tools. As far as gamers are concerned, we found little information as to what possible bugs and performance enhancements the new update addresses.
If you're experiencing unexplained wonkiness while gaming and have been unable to troubleshoot the problem, you may want to give the November update a spin. Otherwise, you'll likely receive the update as a pre-packaged install on a new game at some point.
And you thought only one person on the entire planet was well and truly pissed at EA for its repeated usage of DRM. However, that was only the beginning. Now, two more criminally dissatisfied customers have rallied their lawyers, hoping to pulverize the mega-publisher's pocketbook into penniless mush.
The first suit, filed by Pennsylvania resident Richard Eldridge, points the all-important blame finger at the Spore Creature Creator trial -- not the full game. According to the suit, the game "secretly" popped his machine's DRM cherry, a feature completely unmentioned in EA's End User License Agreement.
The other DRM-detractor, Dianna Cortez of Missouri, encountered SecuROM DRM in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Her computer was never the same after that day.
"After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer," reads the suit. "She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either."
She also calls EA's practices "immoral, unethical, oppressive [and] unscrupulous" -- a sentiment with which we're sure her fellow lawsuit-slingers would agree.
Now if the entire 0.2% hopped aboard the lawsuit express, we might be onto something. As is, however, EA's gold-encrusted big toe will be more than enough to squash these three valiant musketeers. If nothing else, we can only hope that EA will actually learn something from all this, but we're not counting on it.
Some might argue that the mouse is currently a great tool for playing games of just about any genre, but Mgestyk Technologiespolitely disagrees. With the first (planned) public sale of a gesture control system, they seek to bring the Minority Report-like action straight to you.
Using only what’s been described as an “affordable 3D camera” and some proprietary software that will capture small hand gestures, they plan on challenging everyone’s favorite – the mouse. Understandably, some gamers might be reluctant to give up their Logitech or Razer in favor of holding their hands in front of a camera, there are undoubtedly some pretty notable foundations here.
In a video provided by Mgestyk there’s some pretty interesting footage demonstrating the technology that they've come up with. While yes, the reaction time between gesture and response may be a big higher than desired, there are plenty of people that have expressed interest. Mgestyk claims that they’ve got a waiting list for people looking to get their hands on the tech, and they aren’t willing to commit a release date or a price.
Long Zheng's I Started Something blog reports a welcome improvement in Windows 7's Complete PC Backup: in addition to backing up to local hard disks and DVDs, you can now back up to a network share. Complete PC Backup is the image (aka "bare metal restore") backup feature originally found in Vista's Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions (see our 2007 article to learn how it compares to other popular image backup/restore programs). This new feature brings Complete PC Backup's backup target options basically in line with those in the file/folder backup portion of the Backup and Restore Center, and makes it possible to use an NAS appliance as well as a folder share on another PC as a backup target.
It's important to realize that Complete PC Backup is a complementary technology to file and folder backup. Use it to back up your entire PC, and then use file and folder backup to backup data files that change after you create an image backup. Note that the NTBackup program (included in Windows XP and earlier versions) is not an image backup program, but a file and folder backup program only; it does not have a true 'bare metal' restore option.
I've used Complete PC Backup on a number of occasions to backup and restore Windows Vista systems, and I'm looking forward to this additional improvement in Windows 7's version (and I hope it will be available in all Windows 7 SKUs, by the way). What do you think? Join us after the jump and tell us.