So Spore didn’t change the way we looked at games forever, but that doesn’t mean the next link in Will Wright’s evolutionary chain will pop out of the primordial ooze half-baked. Especially not if Wright’s right, and his next project spends the next three years getting dolled-up for its big day.
"I'm working on a big new project that I'm very excited about, but I don't want to talk about it yet because if it takes three years to come out I don't want people saying 'Wow, he's been talking about that for a loooong time,'" Wright told Joystiq at Spike TV’s Videogame Award show.
So then, for those soured by Spore, what will it take to earn back your goodwill? A new SimCity? Something totally un-Sim-like? A game that isn’t hyped to the point that -- even if it were quantifiably better than sex -- it’d be considered a disappointment?
Narrowly power-walking past Duke Nukem Forever in the Vaporware Race to The Starting Line, it seems Phantom is actually doing something. Oh, Phantom? No, we don’t blame you for 404-ing that one. See, originally, the Phantom was planned as a PC-console marriage of sorts – download PC games to a sci-fi pizza box connected to your television and let the good times roll.
But in the end, Phantom was quite an apt name.
Now, one four-year-long facepalm later, here we are, and Phantom Entertainment is hanging a gaudy “Grand Opening” sign on the functioning half of its original plan: an online storefront. We’re sure Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are breathing relieved sighs into megaphones at this very moment.
“Phantom Entertainment today launched its highly anticipated online game store, located at gamestore.phantom.net. The game store features an impressive catalog of over 2,600 PC games including top sellers like Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2. The store allows for outright purchasing of video games or try before you buy, and features level 4 merchant abilities,” read the press release.
Apparently, the service will also begin streaming titles in early ’09, which at least has the potential to be all kinds of cool.
So, anyone care to join us in partaking of Phantom’s steamy new service? Or do you plan to wait four years before giving Phantom’s bank account some love? After all, turnabout is fair play.
It looks like some up at Redmond have been finding the iPhone to be a sexier development platform than their very own Windows Mobile.
Seadragon, Microsoft’s backbone for Photosynth, has recently been released onto the iPhone app store. The snazzy app allows users to quickly “deep zoom” pictures while online, as well as take a grouping of images and forge them together into a mock 3D enviroment.
According to Alex Daley, the group product manager for Micorsoft Live Labs, “The iPhone is the most widely distributed phone with a (graphics processing unit). Most phones out today don't have accelerated graphics in them. The iPhone does and so it enabled us to do something that has been previously difficult to do."
Ubisoft has had a strange, and ugly history with DRM (read: Far Cry 2), but it looks like they’re aiming to change that.
The latest Prince of Persia game will have zero DRM on the PC in the name of an experiment. “You’re right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games,” stated UbiRazz, a Community Developer for Ubisoft. “A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games but as [Prince of Persia] PC has no DRM we’ll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine.”
It’s nice that Ubisoft is giving the PC gamer market an honest chance in the world of DRM. This blogger just hopes that it actually helps our cause, and doesn’t end up making things much, much worse.
Years from now, when future geeks muse over the history of PC tech, what will they remember about 2008? That’s the question we sought to answer when we compiled this comprehensive technology retrospective of the last year. Make no mistake, identifying and sorting the year’s most significant tech events was no easy task. We locked ourselves in a room where we mentally relived the last 12 months, pondering hundreds of items of note and debating the importance of each to find its appropriate rank on our list. Behold the result: our countdown of the 250 items representing the most noteworthy events and product releases that shaped the PC computing landscape in 2008.
It's finally possible to piss off your pregnant wife, annoy your Twitter followers, and brand your unborn son as the kid with the dorkiest dad on the block all at the same time. Making it all possible is the Kickbee, the first gadget to enable Twittering from the womb.
"The Kickbee is a wearable device made of a stretchable band and embedded electronics and sensors," creator Corey Menscher wrote on his blog. "Piezo sensors are attached directly to the band, and transmit small but detectable voltages when triggered by movement underneath. An Arduino Mini microcontroller transmits the signals to an accompanying Java application wirelessly via Bluetooth. (a SparkFun BlueSMIRF v2 module that communicates serially with a Macbook Pro)."
The wearable waistband isn't likely to start any new fashion trends, but then again, anyone interested in the concept of unborn Twittering probably isn't into fashion anyway.
Google continues to improve its Gmail service, which has seen several upgrades this past year ranging from new themes to Mail Goggles. Gmail's newest trick is the ability to view PDF files on its own without the need to load your installed PDF viewer of choice.
"When I get sent a PDF, sometimes I just want to view it -- I don't always need to download and save it right then," Google wrote in a blog post. "So starting today, you'll see a new "View" link next to PDF attachments you get in Gmail."
Once you click on 'View,' the option to view the PDF file in plain HTML returns via a link at the top of the new viewer. You can also download the file straight away or from within the integrated viewer.
According to Cnet, Google.com search results will be next to get the updated PDF viewer. Until then, you can still skip the long load times inherent with Adobe's Acrobat by switching to Foxit Software's leaner and much faster PDF Reader.
The Windows Live team has been pretty busy lately, and they certainly aren’t resting on their laurels with the launch of yet another web 2.0 service called “Thumbtack”.With Thumbtack users are able to save, edit, and share copies of online articles from web pages by either pasting them into the interface, or using the optional bookmarklet. The content is then hosted in an online storage bin for easy sorting and searching. Though this service has been done before by companies such as Evernote, Thumbtack’s current offering of free unlimited storage provides an excellent alternative for web scatterbrains such as myself who have always found bookmarking articles cumbersome and often tend break over time. After creating a note in Thumbtack you can click the article to access the original page, but if it’s vanished from the web, your clipping remains intact. It is also worth noting that competing free services such as Evernote only offer 40 MB of storage per month.
Currently browser support for the service is limited to Internet Explorer and Firefox. While compatibility for web kit browsers such as Chrome and Safari is noticeably absent, it’s also worth pointing out that some features have been stripped from the Firefox interface as well.These features include mass copy and paste between collections and the canvas view mode which gives users a virtual workspace. Even though this service may not be entirely unique per say, it is a promising addition to the Live Service lineup and in my case, and excellent alternative to bookmarking for archiving my favorite articles.
Is Microsoft winning you over with its online services? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Well, looks like EA finally came to its senses. After waving away the issue by, uh, talking about it, the mega-publisher finally popped a wedding ring on Tim Schafer and co.'s baby. Schafer, naturally, is super stoked.
“This is awesome news!” he said. “The quality and creativity of the games EA Partners has been involved with make it a perfect home for our baby, Brütal Legend. Some people were starting to wonder if the saga of Eddie Riggs would ever see the light of day, but now I think it’s clear that this game, like Metal itself, cannot be killed!”
Bit of an odd match, if you ask us -- but then, we're talking Tim Schafer here; only a publisher owned and operated by hundreds of other Tim Schafers would fit his curves.
Really though, we just hope EA doesn't pull a Microsoft before things are all said and done. Our poor hearts are still retching from the last rollercoaster ride.
According to a new study by the psychology department at the University of Illinois-Urbana, senior citizens should trade in their Bingo nights and fire up an RTS game instead. By doing so, over-60 seniors have a good chance of improving their cognitive functions.
The test consisted of 40 seniors playing Rise of Nations, a turn-based real-time strategy game with a heavy focus on building cities. Half of the test group received 23.5 hours of training in the game, while the other half did not. Each participant was assessed before and after playing on a variety of tests designed to "measure executive control functions," such as the ability to switch tasks, short-term memory, and other cognitive functions.
Senior gamers who underwent a training session were found to be "significantly better -- and faster -- at switching between tasks as compared to the comparison group" with no training. Working memory, short-term memory of visual cues, reasoning abilities, and the ability to identify rotated objects was also improved after playing Rise of Nations.
Now you know what to buy your grandparents for Christmas if you're having trouble coming up with a gift idea.