It may not be able to brag about escaping from the labs of Valve or Crytek, but that's no reason to discount Simutronics' HeroEngine. After all, BioWare, in its never-ending quest to unite as many seemingly made-up words as possible (Simutronics?), is using it for its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. And, no offense, but we think they know better than you. Probably.
“Our goal was to partner with a platform developer that knows online gaming and virtual world development, and the team at Simutronics has an excellent track record in that respect,” said Gordon Walton, Co-Studio Director at BioWare. “Their HeroEngine was specifically created for building MMOGs and it allows for a great amount of flexibility in the way our entire team collaborates.”
The HeroEngine allows developers to construct a game while playing on a server, meaning that a swing of the nerf bat will no longer take a couple weeks. Additionally, the engine eliminates "the need for nightly builds and code crunching, which significantly reduces the notoriously long MMOG development cycle." In short, this means that The Old Republic may actually escape from BioWare's tractor beam before the LHC comes back online and destroys us all.
Yeah, we're pretty determined to see this game end the world. What of it?
Google seems to be espousing a very simple strategy of expanding rapidly and at all costs. Although there is always going to be the possibility of Google spreading itself too thin, there is also immense hope of it benefiting under the law of averages. Market research firm Net Applications has fueled rumors of a Google OS. Yes, Google might be getting ready to enter the OS market.
Net Applications’ legion of software sensors across the internet has gathered some interesting data recently. Around one third of the traffic coming from Google has its OS information inexplicably hidden. According to Net Applications, this is truly unprecedented as they have never observed “an OS stripped off the user agent string before”. Is Google working on an OS of its own now?
In a bid to woo more developers towards its vernal Android platform, Google has begun offering a Sim-and hardware-unlocked G1 phone to developers. The unlocked version not only opens the floodgates for developers from around the globe, but it also presents an alternative to those US-based developers who have been resisting the retail version.
Google has confirmed the availability of the unlocked phone in 18 countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Japan, India, Canada, France, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Hungary. Although the unlocked G1 costs only $399, developers will have to part with $25 to register themselves on the Android Market site before they can order the phone.
ATI videocard owners take note - AMD has released new Catalyst drivers, v8.12, for both Windows XP and Vista. The new Catalyst release brings with it performance improvements in several DX9 and DX10 games, including up to a 25 percent boost in Crysis (DX10) for both Single and Crossfire mode. More recent releases, such as Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3, also receive a claimed performance boost by up to 10 percent and 15 percent respectively.
Many bug fixes accompany 8.12, such as improved HD video playback no longer causing Vista to stop responding, better support for connecting an All-in-Wonder card to a Yamaha receiver via an HDMI cable, and several more.
The new drivers also unlock the ATI Stream compute acceleration capabilities built into Radeon HD 3870, HD 3870 X2, and all HD 4000 series graphics cards. Similar to Nvidia's CUDA technology, ATI Stream is a set of advanced hardware and software technologies that enable AMD GPUs to work with the CPU and accelerate applications other than just graphics. To show off the technology, AMD has made available its free ATI Video Converter utility.
The good just got better with the release of the Opera 10 alpha made available earlier today to showcase the new Presto 2.2 rendering engine. The company claims the new rendering engine is up to 30 percent faster than Presto 2.1, which provides the foundation for Opera 9.5, while also touting full web standard compliancy.
"Opera has fine-tuned its standards support and, as a result, Opera 10 alpha achieves an Acid3 100/100 Test score," Opera Software wrote in a press release. "This version also provides Web developers with a whole range of new technologies for building better Web sites."
By comparison, Firefox 3.0.4 scores 71/100 on the Acid3 Test, with Firefox 3.1 beta1 and Google Chrome 0.4 scoring 89/100 and 79/100 respectively, according to Cnet.
Several updates are also included in the new Opera browser, including support for the latest HTML and CSS standards, opacity modifications through RGB and HSLA for setting the opacity of any web page element, inline spell-checking, an auto-update feature, and other goodies.
Update: *Waves hand in front of your face* This is apparently just a big misunderstanding. EA told Shacknews that "no statements have been made about the Star Wars business model," and that Ricitiello's statement was misunderstood. Thus, we can't really know how EA will sink its hooks into your wallet until February rolls around. So yeah, these droids? Totally not the one's you've been searching for.
Subscription fees, as we've discussed at length, are the beginning of a slippery slope down Blizzard's single, mega-games' throats, but microtransactions might be a different a story. Most titles that take up the little big label offer their services for free (or a small nominal fee), hoping that you'll drop a few coins into their cup at some point in the future. And if EA has its way, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be one such game.
"We are continuing to stick to the plan relative to building out our direct-to-consumer models which include microtransactions and subscriptions," said EA CEO John Riccitiello in a recent conference call. "The recent launch of Warhammer [Online] is a great example of that."
"Other initiatives we've announced, for example [the] Star Wars online MMO, are mid-session games which are microtransaction-based," he continued. "You'll be hearing more about those in the February [conference] call."
This announcement certainly seems to suggest that BioWare's galaxy far, far away won't take subscription fees as a viable method of payment, though Riccitiello didn't go so far as to completely rule them out.
Regardless, the potential accessibility of a "free" MMO combined with the production values and gameplay of a Scrooge McDuck-level big-budget game could very well melt the Lich King right off his frozen (and likely very uncomfortable) throne -- probably ending all productivity as we know it.
tl;dr: Looks like the Mayan Apocalypse might be coming early this existence. Neat!
Yuck. It's one thing to give the spotlight over to piracy and other dirty deeds on a bi-daily basis, but after seeing it all culminate, well, we're going to need to lie down for a little while.
Torrent-tracking blog TorrentFreak recently scoured the undersides of gaming's most illicit tables, putting together a list of piracy's greatest hits. The bottom line: Spore, as expected, took home the golden failboat ticket, while three of EA's other titles made the top five.
Meanwhile, big names like Call of Duty 4, Fallout 3, and Far Cry 2 also felt significant disturbances in their sales. Check out the full list below:
Spore / 1,700,000 / Sept. 2008
The Sims 2 / 1,150,000 / Sept. 2004
Assassins Creed / 1,070,000 / Nov. 2007
Crysis / 940,000 / Nov. 2007
Command & Conquer 3 / 860,000 / Mar. 2007
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / 830,000 / Nov. 2007
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / 740,000 / Jun. 2005
Fallout 3 / 645,000 / Oct. 2008
Far Cry 2 / 585,000 / Oct. 2008
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / 470,000 / Oct. 2008
Remember kids, only you can prevent PC game piracy. Otherwise, we'll light you on fire. Don't mess with us. We're crazy.
It wasn’t too long ago that YouTube began testing out their HD capabilities. And now, just a few short weeks later they’ve released a fully capable HD feature on their site.
Bear in mind that this isn’t the “watch in high quality” button that many of you have been seeing lately, but there’s an actual “watch in HD” button available for many videos on the popular video-sharing site.
The quality of the videos is easily up to par with other sites offering the same feature, such as Vimeo, and this finally catapults YouTube into the HD ring.
Should you be interested in streaming some of the new HD content make sure that your ISP is up to par – you’ll need a high-speed connection in order to watch these babies smoothly.
Adobe's come up with a new tool that could ultimately change the way you look at web browsing. As it stands now, glimpsing back in time means honing your Google-fu, with no real efficient way of looking at a particular page or subject by date. Adobe's Zoetrope tool changes all that.
Of course, you can already go back in time using projects like the Internet Archive, but Zoetrope makes such methods seem rudimentary by comparison. With Zoetrope, a user can look back hours, days, or months by pulling on a scrollbar at the bottom of any given webpage. And that's just the beginning. By drawing a selection box over any part of a particular page - like stock prices, for example - Zoetrope makes it possible to scroll back in time just on the selected portion while the rest of the page remains the same. From there, you can make multiple selections, link them together, and turn them into graphs. Let's say Nvidia just announced a price drop on one of its videocards. Using Zoetrope, you could head over to Newegg and highlight one or more cards, then scroll back in time and quickly determine if price drops are few and far between or fairly consistent.
A description really doesn't do the technology justice, and thankfully Technology Review has posted a video of the nifty tool in action. Check it out, then hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Newsflash - consumers hate DRM! Could it be that Apple finally got the message? Apparently so, according to a rumor at AppleInsider. Apple has yet to make an announcement, but AppleInsider claims iTunes may be dropping DRM completely starting tomorrow.
"A report from last week brought to AppleInsider's attention by French technology site ElectronLibre asserts that it's now 'clear' Apple will spark new interest in its music store by removing DRM from tracks published by Sony, Universal and Warner on December 9th,"AppleInsider writes.
Apple's iTunes Store, which claims 70 percent of the online digital music market, already offers DRM-free tracks from EMI and indie content. If all tracks moved to the same format, it could deal a blow to the competition, such as Amazon and Walmart, both of which offer DRM-free tracks from all major studios.
Throwing a wet blanket on the rumor is Cnet, who says that come tomorrow, don't expect any big changes. Cnet acknowledges that Apple is in negotiations with Universal, Sony, and Warner, but warned that none of the deals are final, with at least one source saying "it's unlikely Apple will have anything to announce regarding DRM-free music from the top labels before the end of the year."
In other words, cross your fingers but remain skeptical.