We've all been there: you're softly striding through a craggy cavern, imperceptibly thin rays of light squeezing their way through cracks in the ceiling. Your eyes pierce through the black just in time for you to notice a vaguely cylindrical enemy galloping your way. Steel clangs against claws and fangs, and your foe slumps to the ground. A thick liquid oozes from the beast's mangled form, but the scent of blood is curiously absent. You decide to take a closer look, and dab your fingers in the liquid. One tentative lick later, you realize what the cave-dweller was dispensing -- the smooth taste of Coca-Cola! Visibly excited, you bottle up a sample. And with that, it's quest complete. Time to head back to Doct R. Peppyre's place for your brand new, Sunkist-orange tabard. Awesome!
But then, while emerging from the cave, you spot a poster on a nearby tree. Turns out, it's a blatant ad for McDonald's. "What the hell?" You wonder aloud. Then, sense of immersion annihilated, you rage-quit the game.
Obviously, the above situation is completely ludicrous. In-game advertising is never so out-of-place or in-your-face. And, in a fairly roundabout way, that's the point I'm trying to make: in-game advertising isn't as bad as gamers seem to think. Given a decent context, true-to-life ads can even make a game more immersive, while also putting extra cash into publishers' pockets.
But what's your take? Are in-game ads a detriment to your experience, or is Human Billboard your favorite race/class combination?
Well, today's Roundup is loyal only to you, fair reader, but could use some extra money and aims its commentary straight at the pleasure center of your brain. Inside, you'll find the latest news on a public E3, the oft-delayed Firefly MMO, EA's secret plans, and more.
Microsoft might have failed in its hammy attempt to acquire Yahoo, but it hasn’t relinquished its goal of improving its standing amongst search engines. To this end, it has acquired Greenfield Online for $486 million. Greenfield Online owns popular European price-comparison portal ciao.com.
The company hopes to improve the usefulness of its search results – especially for shoppers - by integrating results from ciao.com. MS is going to do away with Greenfield’s online survey business, and is known to have reached an agreement with an anonymous financial buyer over the sale of the survey business.
Microsoft released the second Beta for Internet Explorer 8 last week, which paves the way for a final release later this year. The new browser demonstrates a number of usability, security, and privacy features that make it a huge improvement over IE 7, including abilities that FireFox users have taken for granted since the FireFox 3 (and even in previous versions). Familiar features such as a better Address Bar, crash recovery, and improved in-page search won’t get Firefox devotees to switch over, but genuinely innovative tools like InPrivate browsing and Tab grouping may warrant your attention. We sort through the full list of Beta 2 features to see what ideas IE8 did and didn’t borrow from its world record-breaking open-source rival.
A computer worm primarily targeted at online gamers has found a very odd prey in form of the International Space Station. NASA confirmed last week that a computer worm had boarded the International Space Station and infected at least one laptop. Fortunately, though, none of the mission-critical systems were affected by the password-grabbing worm. NASA hasn’t revealed the name of the worm, but a website says that it is W32.Gammima.AG. Most of you might find the entire episode quite surprising and amusing, but the folks at NASA seem to be inured to computer worms aboard the ISS because this is not the first such instance.
Google has launched a video sharing service for business users as part of its Google Apps bouquet. You might think that this would certainly have an edge over Youtube. But the only major difference between this video sharing service and Youtube is exclusivity: only those with necessary permission will be able to view the videos unlike Youtube. There is a cap on the size of videos with paid users only allowed up to 300MB per video and 3GB in all.
Do not mistake this for a video conferencing service, for this is certainly not intended to be one. The video sharing service is now part of the Google Apps package for which users have to pay $50 a year. A free version of Google Apps sans APIs and customer supports is also available.
As sunlight glinted off a grenade reaching the zenith of its soldier-bound arc, I could only wonder what my hapless opponent was thinking. See, the man was rooted -- as though entangled in nearby bushes -- to his position. There had to be a reason. Maybe he was a mathematician without peer; he'd done the calculations and no matter how fast he ran, he'd soon be engulfed by my ordinance's cantaloupe-colored splash. Or maybe his path in life had been bordered by four leaf clovers -- his luck so great, he was certain the grenade would be a dud. Maybe he just couldn't take life anymore. But then all of that ceased to matter.
As I continued my stroll through the brightly colored playground of destruction, I noticed that other soldiers were, all told, pretty okay with Havok-powered, life-halting flights.
Yeah, my enemies were walking vegetables. The only damage I accrued was a sinking sense of utter disappointment. Mercenaries 2, after its top-notch predecessor, labored development cycle, and catchy commercial jingle, was a big, fat letdown.
So, have you ever surfed a game's hype wave, only to reach a completely non-descript shore? What's your biggest gaming letdown? What game had you brimming with excitement, but only left you shuddering with rage? (And don't say Daikatana, because that's a cop-out.)
Today's Roundup is reporting live from outside a dark, ominous cloud that's recently enveloped one of the decade's biggest upcoming games. Additionally, you'll find stories about the MMO market's failings, a dev whose unmentionables you'll want to boot, and the Xbox 360's upper limits. All that and more after the break.
Two researchers, Alex Pilosov and Anton Kapela, have concocted a technique to exploit the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) – internet’s core routing protocol. They demonstrated their technique at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas. The threat emanates from the innate credulity of the routing protocol: the BGP apparently is designed to trust all nodes and can be exploited to redirect insane volumes of internet traffic to malevolent networks.
It can be used for spying at a truly unprecedented scale. No, we are not talking about stalking someone on Facebook but nation-state espionage. Millions of users can be exposed within moments of such an attack. A few solutions have already been propounded, but ISPs seem to be watching quietly from the sidelines.
Update: Chrome Beta is now available for download! Get it here
Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominate the browser market, and more than a handful of alternative browsers have been able to carve out a niche following. With all the competition already in place, is there room for another contender?
Google thinks so, and tomorrow will release its Google Chrome browser in beta form to more than 100 countries. The announcement comes earlier than expected thanks to a leaked comic book making the rounds on the web. In it, the characters discuss what Google Chrome purports to bring to the table.
"Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there," Google wrote on its blog. "We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build."
Google claims its new open-source Chrome browser will be clean and fast. To help with speed, Google says Chrome will keep each tab in an isolated "sandbox," with a separate process rendering each one. Not only should this help with performance, but if there's a bug in the code, you'll only lose one tab instead of crashing the entire browser. This also means that memory leaks can be identified and addressed by closing a single tab instead of exiting the browser.
These and all the other goodies outlined in Google's leaked cartoon all sound good on paper. Should Mozilla and Microsoft be worried?
A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the venerable Tim Rogers, an opinionated games writer if ever there was one. Here's the fun thing about Rogers, though: If you were to shuffle one of his reviews in with those of ten other game reviewers, his piece would stand out like the Batman in daylight, foremost for one obvious reason -- it'd be really, really long. Rogers meanders all over the place, delving into each aspect of a game, as well as many things seemingly unrelated, which he then acknowledges as seemingly unrelated. Sometimes, after noticing that 15 minutes have ticked away from your life and your web browser's scroll bar thing is only half-way down the page, you just wish he'd get to the point.
Rogers, as far as game reviewers go, is an anomaly. People don't want a novel; they want pros, cons, and a numerical score, because they'd rather be dashing someone's virtual brains against the pavement than learning. So I guess it kind of makes sense that games generally exist on the flipside of that reviewing stereotype.
Take, for instance, Resident Evil. Find the red lion, blue tiger, and green goat to form a key so that you can crank open the Voltron door. Sure, your gun-toting pyromaniac of a hero probably could've written a book titled "101 Ways To Pop A Door Off Its Hinges," but where's the fun in that?
Oddly, even though we constantly quip about padded-out sequences or pointless sidequests in our favorite games, we sound the sirens on the whaaambulance when those elements finally take a hint.
So which do you want? Games that toss in chores and fetch quests in exchange for that ever so marketable "60 hours of gameplay!" bullet point, or masterfully designed experiences -- like Portal -- that leave you hungry for more?
Well, today's Roundup, described by some as a "masterfully designed experience -- like Portal -- that leaves you hungry for more," hopes to satisfy all comers. Caged within, you'll find stories about a bill of rights for PC gamers, a new race for StarCraft II, and free gas! You heard me -- free gas! It's all after the break.
Google inked another 3 year deal with Mozilla to remain the default search option in the open-source Firefox browser. Originally set to expire back in 2006, the deal was extended to 2008 and will now run through 2011.
"We're very, very happy about our relationship with Google," said John Lilly, Mozilla CEO, "and this makes sure that Mozilla will be sustainable and thrive for quite a long time to come."
Lilly has good reason to be happy, as the partnership netted Mozilla around $57 million in 2006 alone, or about 85 percent of the company's total revenue. The funds go towards paying staff, supporting its bandwidth and hardware infrastructure, and to distribute grants.
Google comes out ahead, too. As Firefox continues to grow its marketshare and increase its userbase, that means more searches and clicks for Google, which in turn translates to advertising revenue. But for as much as Google and Mozilla may seem intertwined, Mozilla maintains that the two operate independently.
"We develop our product and technical direction as part of an open process unrelated to the search relationship with Google," Mozilla wrote its 2006 Financial FAQ. "We talk to Google about the parts of the product that offer Google services (i.e., the Firefox Start Page) and the services they provide, like anti-phishing. Otherwise Google does not have any special relationship to Mozilla project activities."