After World of StarCraft Youtube videos the world over went dark a couple days ago, fans immediately began to bury the ambitious mod under proclamations of “six feet under.” Turns out, however, that Blizzard's rooting for this little MMO that could just as much as you are.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the continued development of this mod, and as part of our ongoing discussion, we’ve extended an offer to the developer to visit the Blizzard campus and meet with the StarCraft II development team,” said Blizzard in a statement to GameFront.
So then, why'd everyone need to believe that it was the end of the World of StarCraft as we knew it?
“With the name so closely resembling that of World of Warcraft, we wanted to discuss the title of the mod with the developer, and as part of our routine procedure, we contacted YouTube to request the video be removed while that discussion took place. We were also curious about the project and wanted to discuss with the developer what the mod entailed,” Blizzard continued.
In other words, it was a misunderstanding as big as Starbucks' new drink size – and equally unnecessary. Oh well, though; Blizzard's words of encouragement are better late than never. Hopefully, after a quick name change (we suggest something innocuous and lawsuit-free – how about “War of the Stars”?), the mod will be back and better than ever. Of course, that's assuming a certain job offer doesn't put the WOS dream to bed before it can even begin to become a reality.
There's a new firmware revision available for Boxee Box owners that finally adds Vudu support, which Boxee has been promising since late 2010.
"Vudu on the Boxee Box means: access to the largest selection of HD movies on-demand, new releases (same day as DVD), thousands of movies available for rental at $2 for 2 nights (in standard definition). We are psyched," Boxee's Avner Ronen wrote in a blog post.
To celebrate the occasion, Vudu is offering every new user who signs up on the Boxee Box a $5.99 credit towards a first rental or purchase. If you own a Boxee Box, you should have received the update by now, but if not you can force the issue by heading to Settings > System > Update.
The latest firmware release also adds a boatload of enhancements and bug fixes, but still no Netflix. Not to worry, Boxee says it's "still on track for a release later this month."
You can now use your iPhone or BlackBerry Tour, Curve, or Storm to order a Frappuccino at Starbucks, or anything else the outfit sells. All you need to do is download the Starbucks Card Mobile app.
"Enter your card number and your device will display a barcode you can use as your Starbucks Card to make purchases," Starbucks explains. "It's fast. It's easy. And it's a revolution in mobile payment."
Starbucks says the Mobile Pay feature is available at more than 7,500 store locations, including all Target Starbucks stores, in the U.S. You can check your local Starbucks by using the Store Locator and using the Mobile Payment filter.
AMD sent out a press release detailing its upcoming Catalyst Hotfix 11.a drivers, which the company promises will bring increased performance and "a slew of new features." As it pertains to the new Radeon HD 6900 and 6800 series of cards, some of the highlights include:
3DMark Vantage: 7 percent improvement
3DMark05: 3 percent improvement
Call of Duty: Black Ops: 20 percent improvement at 4xMSAA, up to 35 percent at 8xMSAA
Batman Arkham Aslyum: 4 percent improvement
Metro 2033: 28 percent improvement at 4xMSAA
AMD says the hotfix also provides some new tessellation controls with the goal of giving users full control over the tessellation levels used in applications.
According to HardOCP, the new drivers will be publicly available on January 26th.
Nvidia graphics card owners have the option of updating to the newly released GeForce 266.58 WHQL drivers, which add support for the newly released GTX 580 and 570 GPUs.
The latest drivers bring quite a bit to the table, including up to double-digit performance gains in some games (up to 12 percent in Battleforge when running a pair of GTX 580 videocards, for example) and support for ambient occlusion in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.
Nvidia administered a heavy dose of 3D medicine to the 266.58 drivers, adding support for a bunch of new 3D Vision projectors, all-in-one PCs, DLP HDTVs, and desktop LCD monitors.
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away... wait, wrong “Star” series. Still though, it's a pretty fitting descriptor of the amount of time Blizzard fans have spent clamoring for a StarCraft MMO, but so far, no good. That, however, is where an old saying comes into play: If you build it, they will come. Here, though, it's more like “if you unknowingly give them the tools to build it, they'll get fed up with waiting and do it themselves.”
Using StarCraft II's suitably beefy editor, an intrepid (and undeniably gutsy) modding team has taken it upon itself to make World of StarCraft from not-quite-scratch. Currently, the mod's still in its infancy, and there's always the chance that Blizzard's waiting in the wings with a nuclear-strike-sized lawsuit to snuff out the whole thing. Granted, the World of StarCraft team has at least presented some pretty strong evidence in its favor.
“You created a tool that allowed us to do anything with your assets. You encouraged us to use your assets and were eager to see what we might come up with. You had to have seen this coming,” wrote Ryan Winzen in a forum post addressed to Blizzard.
We'll get in touch with Blizzard to see if WoS (which – at the very least – is no threat to WoW in a battle of acronyms) is in for a long and fruitful life or an immediate death sentence. In the meantime, why not check out World of StarCraft's first trailer?Edit: Well, that didn't take long. We'll keep you updated on this one, but the prognosis isn't good.
There's no such reality show called "When Gamers Attack," but if there was to be one, Frogster's Runes of Magic game would take center stage.
Here's the deal. A user who goes by the nick "augustus87" is pretty pissed off with how the German outfit is running its game. Taking matters into his own hands, augustus87 hacked the game's database, posted the details of more than 2,000 accounts on the forum, and threatened to reveal names and passwords of 1,000 Runes of Magic players every day until his demands are met, GameSpy reports. Those demands?
No more closing or deleting threads, better treatment of Frogster employees worldwide, more transparency with customers, secure game clients against cheating and modding, protect personal info, and "stop spying on your employees."
"At Frogster we are constantly analyzing all IT and security-related systems with the goal of improving them continuously," Frogster's Axel Schmidt told Edge Magazine. "We have increased these efforts even more over the last week. Immediately after we noticed the attack, all systems were double-checked and secured by new firewalls, configured with new user permits and passwords and several other protection measures right away."
According to Frogster, the disgruntled hacker got his hands on "outdated log-in data from 2007," so there isn't a whole to worry abuot. Nevertheless, Frogster deemed the attack a "serious criminal offense" and is working with German law enforcement.
Google isn't messing around when it comes to uptime. In a recent blog post, the search titan vowed to make email as reliable as a phone's dial tone, which translates to getting Google Appls to 99.99 percent reliable.
"Unlike most providers, we don't plan for our users to be down, even when we're upgrading our services or maintaining our systems," Google said. "For that reason, we're removing the [Google Apps] SLA (service level agreement) clause that allows for scheduled downtime. Going forward, all downtime will be counted and applied towards the customer's SLA. We are the first major cloud provider to eliminate maintenance windows from their service level agreement.
"We're also amending our SLA so that any intermittent downtime is counted. Previously, a period of less than ten minutes was not included."
These are lofty goals for Google, but are they unreasonable? According to Google, its Gmail service was available 99.984 percent of the time in 2010, both on the consumer and business side. That translates to 7 minutes of downtime per month, which is the accumulation of smalle delays, usually no more than a few seconds, Google says.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a controversial security report (PDF) on Monday in which the organization said "it is unlikely that there will ever be a true cyberware." In the report, its authors Peter Sommer, Information Systems and Innovation Group, London School of Economics, and Ian Brown, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, called into question not only the real risks of cyber warfare, but even what they claim is exaggerated language when discussing such risks.
"Analysis of cybersecurity issues has been weakened by the lack of agreement on terminology and the use of exaggerated language," the report states. "An 'attack' or an 'incident' can include anything from an easily-identified 'phishing' attempt to obtain password details, a readily detected virus, or a failed log-in to a highly sophisticated multi-stranded stealth onslaught. Rolling all these activities into a single statistic leads to grossly misleading conclusions."
The report includes over 100 pages of rhetoric, but the bottom line is we have little to fear in terms of cybersecurity risks. After all, "it is unlikely that there will ever be a true cyberware" for a number of reasons. One of those is that many critical computer systems are protected against known exploits. But more importantly, the authors say, "there is no strategic reason why an aggressor would limit themselves to only one class of weaponry."
Heed this warning, privacy advocates: Facebook apps are now allowed to request access to your phone number and address, Facebook developer Jeff Bowen announced.
"We are now making a user's address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object," Bowen said. "Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs."
The announcement drew immediate criticism from users, who posted their concerns in the comments section below the announcement.
"Before you even consider implementing this very intrusive feature, Facebook needs to stop the scammers from making rogue applications and scamming people," Facebook user Tony Mazan wrote.
The general consensus seems to be that there are few, if any, reasons why a developer would truly need this information, making the risk far outweigh the reward.