F.E.A.R. was, without a doubt, one of 2005's best first-person shooters -- deftly mixing balls-to-the-wall, head-exploding action with pee-your-pants level horror. Even better, its sequel, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, is poised to top its award-winning older brother in every conceivable way. We were lucky enough to engage in a quick email exchange with Craig Hubbard, F.E.A.R. 2's Principal Game Designer, and we're posting it here for you today.
MPC: Is this the end of the F.E.A.R. story? Are we going for a trilogy?
Craig Hubbard, Principal Game Designer: As you’d probably expect, our immediate focus is getting the game done. Beyond that, who can say?
MPC: Was the story arc planned from the beginning, or has it evolved as it’s moved along?
CH: It evolved quite a bit, but that’s normal. What works on paper doesn’t always pan out when you implement it, so you have to make adjustments and do what’s right for the game. We also decided to take out the subplot about the unicorn who lost its horn. It was very emotionally resonant, but didn’t really fit the tone.
MPC: What’s the biggest problem you had with the original F.E.A.R.? How do you aim to correct it in the sequel?
CH: The biggest complaint people had with F.E.A.R. was that the environments were repetitive and bland. The sequel has much more varied and interesting settings.
MPC: Are you developing the game simultaneously for consoles and PC? What’s the game’s lead platform?
CH: The team knew how to make PC games but hadn’t done a console title before, so it was easier to ensure that decisions made for the consoles would work on the PC rather than the other way around. When the project started, we didn’t have our tech up and running on PS3 yet, so Xbox 360 ended up being the lead platform by default but we are still developing for all three platforms at the same time.
Continue reading for Hubbard's opinions on DRM, game engines, AI, and the British Empire.
Google’s latest build of their extremely popular earth-browsing application, Google Earth features a total visual overhaul on the Big Apple, complete with photorealistic 3D models of most of Manhattan Island.
Go ahead and update your copy of Google Earth and fly yourself to New York City. Once you’ve turned on the 3D building layer tilt your view so that you can check out the buildings! If you’re feeling saucy, you can even boot in the up game flight-sim and pretend you’re one of the Blue Angels at San Francisco’s Fleet Week!
With any luck, this is a showing of what’s to come. As a native Seattleite and previous San Franciscan, I’m anxious to see my two favorite cities come to life in this fashion.
And when we say large, we absolutely mean it. Facebook, having just hit the 130 million active user mark at the beginning of December, is already up to a whopping 140 million.
Facebook’s projected growth was about 300,000 to 400,000 active users per day for most of the fourth quarter. Recently, that number has gone as high as 600,000 to 700,000 per day. Should Facebook’s growth continue at that rate, it’ll add up to 20 million new users in December alone and reach 200 million active users by March.
What’s even more fun, is that Facebook has released numbers on how their users spend their time on the site (creepy, huh?). 13 million user update their statuses at least once each day, 700 million photos are uploaded to the site each month, 4 million videos are uploaded each month, 15 million pieces of content (including web links, news stories, blog posts, notes and photos) are shared each month, and there are 19 million active groups on the site.
So what do all these numbers mean? Simply put, the number of users Facebook has is greatly increasing, as is their engagement on the site.
Looking for something to do over the holiday break or need an excuse to duck away from the in laws to regain your sanity? Crytek's got your back. The developer announced it is serving up the multiplayer shooter Crysis Wars free-to-play for 10 days, starting tomorrow at 11:00 AM PT and good through December 28th until 11:59 PM PT. You can snag your holiday trial at MyCrysis.com, which the developer says includes the latest version of the game with brand new maps Savanna and Frost. You'll need to register to receive a unique key.
Also just released is a new patch for Crysis Wars, which comes less than a month after patch 1.2 was released.. Patch 1.3 includes the Holiday Map Pack (two above mentioned maps), and fixes the loading of custom assets in downloaded maps.
According to a recent report enterprise virtual worlds are much more effective than web conferencing for conducting business. The report is based on the idea that possessing the ability to expand, introduce characters and produce virtual presentations in a simulated environment will easier and more cost effective.
In fact, the technology has already been demonstrated. At Fall IDF 2007 Pat Gelsinger gave an on-stage presentation lasting nearly a half-hour entirely though Second Life. He displayed how simple it was for users to create their on avatars, and engage in virtual business. It’s even expected that shopping will take a virtual turn sometime soon, with online shoppers viewing texture maps instead of products and virtual sales assistants instead of store clerks.
While this idea is cool, it sounds shockingly familiar. Either way, the potential for twenty-something, extremely fit avatars walking into business meetings seems extremely high, and that’s an idea that I can only promote.
Speculation has been rife about the possible use Microsoft might make of the “Kumo” name. The general consensus amongst the speculators has been that Kumo would be the new name of Microsoft’s Live Search service. But a new trademark application filed by Microsoft hints that the new name might be used for a few other MS services as well.
The Kumo trademark is intended for use in sundry segments, including advertising, telecommunications, education, training and entertainment, and not just for online search. Microsoft has also registered quite a few domains with the name Kumo in them. Maybe Microsoft believes that a brand new name might just turn the tide in its favor as far as the high-stakes online search market goes.
Micron this week announced it has been working with Sun Microsystems to develop a new single-level cell (SLC) NAND technology the company claims "dramatically extends the lifespan of flash-based storage." Just how dramatic? According to Micron, production devices are capable of one million write cycles, offering the highest available write and erase cycling of any NAND technology currently available.
"Micron is pleased to work with Sun on this landmark achievement, enabling the use of flash in new applications that were previously not possible because of the inherent write/erase cycle limitations of standard SLC and MLC NAND," said Brian Shirley, vice president of Micron’s memory group. "We expect this technology to revolutionize the enterprise storage hierarchy and be adopted by a wide range of transaction-intensive applications, including solid state drives and storage systems, disk caching, as well as networking and industrial applications."
Micron said it is sampling its Enterprise NAND in densities up to 32Gb (that's gigabits, not gigabytes), with volume production on slate for the first quarter of 2009. The company also plans to unveil SLC and multi-level cell (MLC) enterprise versions of its 34nm NAND process early next year.
If ever there was a reason to consider switching IM clients to Pidgin or Trillian, it would be the concept of in-chat IM ads. That's exactly what Yahoo has been experimenting with in its Yahoo Messenger instant messaging software since last August.
"Ads in Yahoo Messenger will allow us to put even more resources behind developing and delivering valuable free features and services," Yahoo said. "Yahoo Messenger is a free service to our users, and our goal is to provide a useful and relevant experience while ensuring this is a profitable business for Yahoo. Yahoo is inherently an advertising-driven business."
The test ends this month, but Yahoo isn't offering so much as a hint as to what it will decide to do once the test is finished. However, it might not take much to convince the search company to implement in-chat IM ads. The company has been struggling financially and recently laid off over 1,500 employees. On the bright side, the ads don't appear to be terribly intrusive. Yahoo claim users will see ads at most once per day.
Earlier this year, Microsoft said it would add native support for the Open Document Format (ODF) due in part to increasing pressure from customers "and because we want to get involved in the maintenance of ODF." The decision might seem a curious one given the effort Microsoft spent on pushing its OOXML through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), but the company said the changes OOXML had gone through in the ratification process ended up making it more difficult to support than ODF.
Holding true to its word, Microsoft has published documentation detailing its implementation of ODF version 1.1 In Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 scheduled for release in 2009. Microsoft also said similar notes about its implementation of Open XML are forthcoming.
“By publishing notes on how we are implementing file format standards in Microsoft Office, we are providing detail that others can use as a reference point for their own applications,” said Doug Mahugh, senior project manager for Office interoperability. “We encourage other companies to take similar steps to help achieve greater interoperability across the industry.”
But before Microsoft and the Open Standards community gathers around the virtual campfire and sings Kumbaya, TGDaily warns that a small number of caveats leaves the door open for Microsoft to introduce Microsoft-specific variations to the ODF standard.
Most of the talk surrounding solid state storage tends to revolve around the performance numbers, or lack thereof. Sluggish write speeds have hampered the hype on all but a select few models, and while more attention is being paid to the performance numbers, speed isn't the only thing increasing; SSDs are getting bigger.
Toshiba said it will have on display a 512GB solid state drive next month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), with shipments expected in the second quarter of 2009. At 512GB, Toshiba's SSD would rival mobile hard disk drives and qualify as one of the largest capacity SSDs for use in notebooks.
Alongside the 2.5-inch 512GB SSD, Toshiba also plans to release 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB models in both 1.8 an 2.5.-inch drive enclosures or as SSD flash modules. The new drives will be part of Toshiba's upcoming lineup of "fast read/write SSDs" built on a 43nm manufacturing process using multi-level cell (MLC) technology.
"The solid state drive market is evolving rapidly, with higher performance drives to meet market requirements, and differentiated product families targeted for appropriate applications,” said Mr. Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Vice President of Toshiba Corporation's Semiconductor Company. "This new 43nm SSD family balances value/performance characteristics for its targeted consumer applications, through use of MLC NAND and an advanced controller architecture."
Performance for the new drives look promising, with rated read and write speeds up to 250MB/s and 200MB/s respectively.