"Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, Fable 2... uh, LittleBigPlanet," I nonchalantly listed, sliding my scroll bar up and down a ludicrously large list of games that'll begin hogging shelf space next week. Instantly, a deafening shout of "OH! LittleBigPlanet!" flew straight and true, right into my unsuspecting ears, from the other side of a view-obscuring television. "You're so buying LittleBigPlanet!" My friend's voice continued, registering at somewhere around War-crime on the decibel scale.
Yeah, LittleBigPlanet's kind of a big deal around the gaming scene's more console-y bits, but what's it mean for PC gamers? Well, in these parts it's not quite a revolution, but it's pretty damn close.
Over the past couple years, "user-created content" has crept onto many game developers' billowing lists of PR-friendly buzz words, and with good reason. Whether it's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's character creation system or Spore's, well, everything, people love to spill their creative frustrations onto videogaming's canvas. (And drawing new Mega Man levels on graph paper is so nineties.)
Now stop! Take your finger off the scroll wheel; the comments section isn't going anywhere. Yes, PC gaming gospel states that we must fling ourselves into Internet forums, kissing the ground, and praising mods -- and games like Oblivion and Spore did not invent user-created content -- but guess what? Mods are old news, no matter how crazy-awesome they might potentially be.
Why? Consoles. Consoles. Consoles. Like it or not, aside from a few shining examples, game design has parked its heart in simpler interfaces and ease-of-use. PC gaming, its cash cow now six feet under for a number of reasons, simply isn't worth the effort these days. As a result, real mod support -- sloppily attempted in only a single console game -- watched its bungee cord snap as it plummeted right off developers' priority lists. After all, mod tools don't just appear out of thin air; they siphon extra time and cash away from other areas of development. When simple user-creation tools can offer a menagerie of similar (but less versatile) powers to a wider range of people, mod tools sadly get kicked to the curb.
Continue reading to find out why this trend might not be as awful as it sounds.
Xbox Evolved -- a site claiming to have first broken the news that the Xbox 360's hard drive would be optional, way back in 2004 -- has heard from "incredibly reliable" sources that the Xbox 360's all-too-quickly approaching successor will be forward-compatible.
"Forward-compatible," the avant garde cousin of "backward-compatible," apparently refers to the Xbox 361-plus-infinity-plus-one's ability to act as a performance-enhancer for Xbox 360 games.
"This isn’t a side effect of textures being cleaner and upscaled resolution, this is a new animal completely," reads the article. "Imagine playing Gears of War 3 on your Xbox 360 it looks and plays good right? Well imagine that the year after it comes out you go out to buy the next Xbox and it looks even better, it plays even better. Features in the new controller are utilized with the game, the graphics do not only look sharper, but the draw distance is better, the speed is better, framerate, and there are even new features, perhaps even levels via DLC for the game on the third-generation Xbox."
"GoW3 is of course an example of what this could mean, past the forward-compatibility information, Xbox Evolved has not been given any other information about the next generation of Xbox."
So yeah, it's just like a PC. Get a new machine? Old Game X gets a new coat of paint. And while we certainly think this sounds like an interesting feature, we hope Microsoft doesn't get too caught up in new features to remember little things like focus-testing.
You didn't think escaping the three least popular letters in the alphabet would be that easy, did you? Today, Ubisoft Forum Manager "bukowski113" confirmed Spore DRM's "The Empire Strikes Back," placing yet another title under SecuROM's much-maligned rule. According to his forum post, Far Cry 2's DRM will work as follows:
You have 5 activations on 3 separate PCs.
Uninstalling the game “refunds” an activation. This process is called “revoke”, so as long as you complete proper uninstall you will be able to install the game an unlimited number of times on 3 systems.
You can upgrade your computer as many time as you want (using our revoke system)
Ubisoft is committed to the support of our games, and additional activations can be provided.
Ubisoft is committed to the long term support of our games: you’ll always be able to play Far Cry 2
In short, it's more or less unchanged from Spore's variation on the theme. We'll be buying Far Cry 2 anyway, though. After all, we just enticed a bunch of readers into taking up their pitchforks, so we feel we've done our part in the protest. DRM is bad and should be hated!
Adobe’s senior marketing manager in the Platform Business Unit, Tom Barclay, said that the Flash Player 10 is capable of “things not possible with Silverlight 2.” The direct reference to Silverlight 2 underscores the amount of respect Adobe accords to its seemingly innocuous rival – just about enough. Barclay heavily touted the addition of Adobe Pixel Blender-related functionality in the new edition. Flash Player 10 has simultaneously become available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
After it was revealed that some of the Asus Eee Box PCs sold in Japan came with a preloaded virus, the Taiwanese company ordered a recall of all such infected PCs. Now, Asus has placed the entire blame on a second-tier Chinese OEM that had been tasked with the responsibility of manufacturing Eee PCs for the Japanese market.
The unnamed OEM had been chosen in order to cut costs, but eventually became the source of embarrassment for Asus. The company now plans to transfer Japanese Eee Box PC orders to other second-tier OEMs.
So you just got a snazzy new printer, huh? Funny thing, so did GE! While they think your photo quality printer is nice, they’re much happier with theirs that prints OLED lights.
GE’s printer, which is about the size of a semi-trailer, coats an 8-inch plastic sheet with chemicals and seals it up with a layer of metal foil. Once an electric current is applied to this sheet, it lights up with a blue-white glow.
GE has been heralding the countless possibilities of these sheets. Given that they’re flexible, one could wrap them around a pillar, tack them to a wall or even make a translucent version and attach it to a window (though, nobody’s really sure why). And given that these panels provide diffused light, they’ll be much easier on the eye than current lighting technology.
Lawrence Gasman of Nanomarkets LLC, a research firm in Glen Allen, Virginia is suggesting that these OLEDs could become very common sources of lights, with sales reaching $5.9 billion by 2015.
Bob Sagebiel, the technical marketing manager for lighting at Arrow Electronics Inc. isn’t as confident in these figures though. He points out that these fixtures won’t fit into the 20 billion light-bulb sockets worldwide, and that since they’re so different from current lighting technology they may have issues being accepted. Not to mention commercial buildings would need to be rewired in order to take advantage if potentially bigger OLED panels that wouldn’t fit into existing fixtures for fluorescent tubes.
Only time will tell, but the future for this technology looks pretty bright (see what I did there?).
So if you’re trying out the 3.1 beta, enable the TraceMonkey engine and see what it can do for you. Share your experiences after the jump.
The study used an MRI to measure the brain activity of a group of seniors while they performed simulated internet search tasks, and also as they read a book. According to Dr. Gary Small, the tests showed that “when older people read a simulated book page, we see areas of the brain activated… When they search on the Internet, they use the same areas, but there was much greater activation particularly in the front part, which controls decision-making and complex reasoning.”
Of course, greater brain activity is good for keeping sharp (hence the popularity of Nintendo’s Brain Age series of games) so this study means that searching the net could help keep you firing on all cognitive cylinders as you age. However, the increased activity was only found in those who had experience with searching the internet, so if you have any older relatives who are still net-illiterate, it might be time to give them a few lessons in the fine art of Googling.
Full-blown instant-on technology is considered by some to be the holy grail of computing, whereby once you hit the power button, your PC's ready to go. It's safe to assume we won't see this implemented in its entirety anytime soon, but steps have already been taken in that direction. Asus' SplashTop OS makes it possible to fire up Pidgin, Skype, or a browser all before booting into the main operating system, and similar functionality can be found on some Dell Latitude notebooks and even Voodoo's Envy. These Linux-based systems on a chip are all the rage and appear to have drawn the attention of Microsoft.
In a recent Microsoft survey sent out to select users, the software giant pinged consumer interest in "Instant On" technology. The survey notes that "Instant On takes your computer from being completely powered down or 'turned off' to being usable for a few specific activities in a very short amount of time." The survey goes on to ask participants a series of related questions, such as what value they place on Instant On technology and what types of applications would they expect to be able to use.
So what exactly does Microsoft have planned? It could be nothing, or it could be feature to pop up in Windows 7. Or maybe the next iteration of Centrino will come standard with Instant On. The list of possibilities goes on and on, but at the very least, the company's exploring user interest and is aware of the trend.
Hit the jump and tell us what you think Microsoft is up to, and whether or not you care.
Two days ago, Microsoft announced that the code name “Windows 7” was in fact more than a code name, and that the OS would actually be released under the moniker. Since then, there’s been some head-scratching about what exactly Windows 7 will be the seventh of. Today, Mike Nash posted again to clear up the confusion, and explain exactly how Microsoft arrived at the name.
In brief, Nash explained that the up through Windows 3.0, each release got its own number. Then, they started getting a little more conservative with release numbers, with NT still being part of version 3, and all the 9x platforms making up 4.0. 2000 and XP comprised number 5, and Vista is 6.0.
So, naturally it’s called Windows 7 because it’s Windows 7.0, right?
Err, no. Windows 7 is actually Windows 6.1. He explains the reasoning for this as follows:
“We learned a lot about using 5.1 for XP and how that helped developers with version checking for API compatibility. We also had the lesson reinforced when we applied the version number in the Windows Vista code as Windows 6.0-- that changing basic version numbers can cause application compatibility issues.”
So Windows 7 is certainly not the seventh Windows release, and it’s not Windows 7.0, either. It’s just… Windows 7. What do you think of the name? Hit the jump and let us know.