Tag Archives: Gaming

Oculus Rift Unveils New Virtual Reality Headset for Devs to Play With

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The second generation Oculus Rift will be available for game developers this summer.

Game developers interested in creating games in virtual reality will get an upgraded set of tools from the Oculus Rift team this summer, the company announced Wednesday morning.

The second-generation Oculus Rift development kit is available for preorder starting Wednesday for developers. The virtual reality headset, which began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, now has 50,000 units in the hands of developers interested in creating games for it.

Oculus VR Vice President of Product Nate Mitchell said doesn’t resemble anything like consumers will eventually see, but is much farther along the company’s vision for virtual reality than the previous Oculus Rift model. A consumer version is still not under discussion, he added.

“We’ve learned a lot of lessons from our original vision,” Mitchell said.

The new Oculus Rift headset solves many users’ latency issues; it eliminates the motion blur problems that were easy to spot if you moved your head too quickly. It features a brighter, higher-resolution OLED screen with a 960 x 1080p resolution over each eye, rather than a 640 x 800p resolution over each eye on the current kit.

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A straight on view of the updated Oculus Rift.

The new headset also boasts improved positional tracking, part of the Crystal Cove prototype the company showed off during CES 2014. Mitchell said that such new features will allow developers to bring many more complex elements into games they produce for virtual reality, including text and UI layouts. Previously, both were previously very difficult to add.

The new headset will cost $350 for developers and will ship sometime in July of this year.

Virtual reality may be the belle of the ball at the Game Developers Conference this week. Sony also used the conference to announce its own virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4, currently called Project Morpheus. Sony remained mum on setting a date for its headset to reach consumers.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/03/19/oculus-rift-second-generation/

Oculus VR Focuses on Games, Not Hardware, at E3

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The headset displays a fully immersive 3D experience that makes you feel like you are actually in the game.
Image: Mashable, Christina Ascani

The creators of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset are spending E3 showing off games instead of new hardware, as the company looks at producing and publishing games for its platform.

The company showed off new titles from third-party developers that it was planning to publish, meaning it would provide financial and marketing support to games built for the Oculus Rift. It’s part of the continued growth into also ensuring quality games are available for the Oculus platform, despite the headset having no commercial release date yet.

““http://mashable.com/2014/06/07/girls-make-games-summer-camp/”” is not a valid see-also reference

The company most recently brought on Jason Rubin, co-founder of studio Naughty Dog, to handle its expansion into first party content.

Three of the games being shown at E3 — all by third-party development teams — all represented very different virtual reality experiences. One was for Super Hot, a game currently on Kickstarter that experiments with the perception of time. When the player moves, time moves regularly; when they stand still, time moves at a crawl, allowing them to dodge bullets.

A more whimsical virtual reality game was Lucky’s Tale, a third-person platformed where players hovered over the shoulder of a plucky fox. While virtual reality experiences usually offer a first-person camera view, Lucky’s Tale’s camera choice gave players a unique perspective over the fox’s shoulder.

On a darker note, Sega’s upcoming horror game Alien: Isolation announced virtual reality support at E3, and a playable demo was also on display. Players had to avoid being attacked by an alien on a derelict space ship, armed only with a monitor that showed them the monster’s presence.

While Oculus VR may be ramping up publishing without a firm release date, Vice President of Product Nate Mitchell said the company wanted to minimize risk to developers by promising a release date it couldn’t totally commit to — until it was absolutely sure it was the right time.

Mitchell did say that Facebook’s acquisition of the company in late March was instrumental in bringing on many hires, like Rubin, who could focus solely on what first-party development and publishing would mean inside of Oculus.

BONUS: This Oculus Rift Game Will Scare the Crap Out Of

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/11/oculus-games-e3/

Playing Catch With Grover Is the Future of Video Gaming

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You would think after 42 seasons, the creative minds behind Sesame Street would run out of ways to educate and entertain kids.

Sesame Workshop has teamed up with Microsoft to create Kinect Sesame Street TV — one of the most innovative children’s video games we’ve seen in a while. With the help of the Microsoft Kinect sensor, it puts kids (and adults) into the game, letting them engage and interact with their favorite characters.

We were immediately impressed with the way the game offers simple instructions to help kids set up their position in front of the Kinect. Cooper, a new furry character on Sesame Street, created digitally just for this season, introduces himself and guides the user as they place themselves in front of a mirror. This is really helpful because kids have a natural tendency to creep closer to the TV as they play and talk to the characters.

And kids will play with them! There are eight interactive games that take kids through everything you would expect from a Sesame Street title. Elmo offers instructions on how to play with him and Paul Ball, another new character.

The characters introduce words; concepts like over and under, numbers, letters, and free play. But this play gets kids up and off the couch.

Our favorite game is playing catch with Grover. Typical Grover, he’s made a mess, dropped all his coconuts and needs help him picking them up. Kids make a throwing motion and toss them back, while he does silly things before catching them and putting them in his box. There’s no winning or losing here. If the child doesn’t respond, Cookie Monster simply comes along and picks up a coconut for Grover.

Elmo’s World is an augmented reality scene where kids are transported to Elmo’s play world, helping him water plants and touch the stars.

Kinect Sesame Street TV is available now on Xbox 360.

Check out the video to see it in action and let us know what you think about video games becoming this interactive. Does this make you more likely to let your kids play?

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/18/playing-catch-with-grover-is-the-future-of-video-gaming/

Indie Game ‘Contrast’ Turns the Shadows Into Your Playground

The power of a child’s imagination may be more powerful than any game engine. Compulsion Games hopes to harness that inventiveness and mystery in its upcoming game Contrast.

Contrast puts you in the shoes of Dawn, the imaginary friend of young Didi. Dawn helps Didi cope with her hectic home life — both her parents are performers in a dark and twisted vaudevillian world in the 1920s.

Dawn, luckily, isn’t bound by the laws of physics, and has the ability to turn into a shadow to solve puzzles and explore the world. The game revolves around illuminating areas, and then traversing or manipulating the shadows that are created.

Contrast is a puzzle-focused platformer, meaning the gameplay doesn’t revolve around combat. The conflict is generated by Didi’s family: her mother is a burlesque performer who works long hours, and her father is a struggling circus organizer. Compulsion’s PR and Community Manager Sam Abbott explains the family influences Dawn’s appearance; she’s a caricature of a burlesque dancer.

Contrast Shadows

The story was inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s dark Pan’s Labyrinth, Abbott said, a film in which imaginary beasts and fairies help a lonely young girl. Since Contrast is told through Dawn’s perspective and not Didi’s, the world circulates around Didi, and Dawn cannot see other characters except for their silhouettes.

In Contrast‘s PAX demo, Dawn needs to escort Didi to the club where her mother is performing. She must manipulate shadows made by a carousel to climb to new heights, then later turn on spotlights to illuminate Didi’s mother in the theater.

Abbott said Contrast‘s puzzle-based gameplay focuses on teaching players the inner workings of the light and shadow worlds without holding their hands. Each puzzle builds on new elements learned from the previous one.

Contrast will be out for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PC via Steam in late 2013.

Images: Compulsion Games

BONUS: See PAX Prime in Photos

These Glasses Let You Play in 3D Virtual Worlds

Despite the endless gaming and interactive potential of augmented reality, the technology has been moving slow in terms of widespread awareness and adoption. But a new system called castAR aims to push augmented reality into the mainstream, starting with a Kickstarter campaign that launched Monday.

Founded by veteran developers and former Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, Washington-based company Technical Illusions is offering a product that delivers both augmented-reality and virtual-reality experiences.

First introduced in May as a prototype, the castAR system is centered around a pair of glasses that house two micro-projectors over each lens. Each projector receives its video stream via an HDMI connection, and then beams a portion of a 3D image to a flat surface made out of retro-reflective sheeting material.

Situated between two the two lenses is a small camera that scans the surface for infrared markers. This dynamic allows the castAR to accurately track your head movements in relation to the holographic representations on the surface.

The product also comes with a clip-on attachment that allows the wearer to experience private augmented reality, layering virtual objects onto the real world, or virtual reality, during which all the imagery you see is computer-generated. Also included is a device called a Magic Wand that serves as a 3D input device and joystick.

Some of the potential applications for the castAR system include board games, flight simulators and first-person shooters; but the developers believe that it could also be used for interactive presentations in business.

While many companies have promised to deliver impressive augmented-reality experiences, video of the commercial version of the castAR (above) is impressive. “It’s gonna deliver on the dream of the holodeck,” Bre Pettis, CEO of Makerbot, said in the video.

For $355, early adopters can get their hands on the entire package of components, which includes the castAR glasses, the retro-reflective surface, the Magic Wand and the AR and VR clip-on. There are also several other packages offered at lower prices for those only looking to try the basics of the system.

Launched with a goal of $400,000, the team’s Kickstarter campaign has already earned over $210,000 as of this writing. Those who order the device now can expect to get it next September, according to Technical Illusions.

Image: Technical Illusions

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/10/14/augmented-reality-glasses/

Zynga in Slumps-Ville, But Social Games Are Still Hot

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Social games have been synonymous with Zynga, the company that made FarmVille a sometimes maddening fixture on Facebook walls around the world. So given Zynga’s ongoing decline—the company’s stock has plummeted 75% since its December IPO, employees are fleeing, and its latest game titles are floundering—it’s easy to think social games are a quickly fading fad.

But plenty of investors and game developers are still writing checks and apps, betting that the average person isn’t bored with these kinds of games. The market for social and casual games is indeed still growing, but like many web applications, these games are moving to mobile devices—a transition that has brought new challenges.

“I don’t think they [Zynga] are a guide to the future,” says Andrew Marsh, a San Francisco-based game developer whose “indie” studio Fifth Column Games recently partnered with the rapidly expanding Japanese mobile-gaming company Gree.

While the investment bank Digi-Capital recently called the Zynga IPO the peak for “Social Games 1.0” investments, it also said investors are pouring money into games for smartphones and tablets. More than half of all game playing is on such devices, NPD Group, another research firm, recently estimated.

Yet major challenges remain for companies hoping to make their games more than make a fly-by-night hit on mobile devices. One longtime game developer, Tadhg Kelly, calls it “platform amnesia”—people get excited about the same old games presented on top of new technologies, but that wears out quickly.

And mobile-game companies have struggled to gain and keep users, especially ones willing to spend money. Zynga experienced this problem firsthand when it acquired OMGpop, the company behind the hit game Draw Something, earlier this year for more than $180 million, only to see the game quickly fade in popularity.

Gree, founded in 2004, is angling to succeed by creating a platform for smartphone games and courting developers like Marsh to create the next big hits. Where Zynga has struggled because it has largely depended on being seen in Facebook news feeds, Gree has created a specialized Facebook-like social network for gaming on mobile devices. Like DeNA, another Japanese company, it has found most of its current users in Asia, but it is seeking worldwide dominance with a recent spending spree and string of acquisitions.

Zynga, too, is trying to create an independent network. If it succeeds, this could help solve one problem that plagues mobile-game developers: how to get people to discover games among millions of apps in Google’s and Apple’s stores.

On Facebook, people naturally return day after day, but users aren’t as strongly inclined to open an app, says venture capitalist Charles Hudson, a partner with SoftTech VC who previously founded a company acquired by Zynga. As it is, since social elements are a less natural feature on smartphones, mobile-game companies are being forced to pour money into acquiring new users through advertising and cross-promotion. “Most mobile games are still discovered through the app store, and that’s not sustainable,” Marsh says.

Social games themselves may also need to become more creative as they migrate to mobile devices. To keep people playing, games can’t afford to get boring, says Kelly, who calls Draw Something a novelty that had no depth. Console game companies, such as Sony and Electronic Arts, and companies like Kixeye, which target more serious gamers, are starting to experiment with more casual social games for mobile devices.

Innovation could occur as developers take advantage of features particular to phones. Already, some are using feedback from touch interfaces and adapting to shorter gaming sessions—a couple of minutes while waiting for the train to come, for example.

Graphics on mobile devices are also nearing the quality of those on game consoles, especially in the case of tablets, and developers are starting to incorporate them into even simple social games. One example is NaturalMotion’s CSR Racing, a popular 3D drag-racing game that Apple CEO Tim Cook showed off at his company’s developer conference this year.

And while no company yet has found a lasting hit game that uses phone technologies such front-facing camera motion sensors or GPS location, Hudson says that could be coming as more startups experiment.

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/18/zynga-social-games-growth/

10 Weird iPhone Games You’ve Got to Try

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Mashable Weekend Recap: 65 Stories You Might Have Missed

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The weekend started off with a bang, thanks to the dazzling opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. That was spectacular enough to get everyone super-ready for the athletic competition involving our entire planet.

There were plenty of stories about the Olympics, and at the same time, your intrepid Mashable team discovered so much more — happenings in the digital world, tech innovations that felt like they were from a future world, and GIFs, comics and weekend fun that seemed to be from another world entirely.

Best of all, we’ve gathered all those stories here for you, in one big easy-to-peruse package. So take a look at the latest Weekend Recap, where you can catch up with the entire weekend of delightful news and views, right here:

Editor’s Picks

James Bond and the Queen Parachute Into the Olympics [VIDEO]

Please, NBC and IOC, Learn How to Share the Olympics

13 Surprising OS X Mountain Lion Facts [SUNDAY COMICS]

Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Mountain Lion Vs. Windows 8: Which One Is Better?

Best Pics Yet: This Could Be the Real iPhone 5

How to Watch the 2012 Summer Olympics Online

Spoilers: Angry Olympics Fans Tweet Their Protests, NBC Responds

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

News & Opinion

Marissa Mayer Brings Free Food to Yahoo, Eyes Acquisitions [REPORT]

MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ Facebook Game Is Feast for Fans in First 5 Weeks

Where to Get Back-to-School Deals on Tablets, Computers

How Dictation Tools Can Help Speed Up Your Workflow [INFOGRAPHIC]

Russian Cargo Spacecraft Docks With Space Station on 2nd Try

Olympic Check-Ins: Hot Foursquare Deals and Badges for London 2012

Record-Setting Electric Plane Flight Almost Didn’t Make It [VIDEO]

Mysterious Billionaire Commissions World’s Largest Yacht [VIDEO]

Twitter Jokester’s ‘Bomb Threat’ Charges Dropped [VIDEO]

Olympic Popularity: Starcount Reveals Which Olympic Athletes Are Trending

Amazon Sales Tax — What it Means for You

Down to the Millisecond: All About Olympics Timing

Trioh! The Flashlight You Can See When The Power Goes Out

On Reddit, Rapists Say They’re Sorry

Latest Apple Ads Take a Turn for the Worse

Why the London 2012 Olympics Is the First Real-Time Games

The 9 Most Important Tablet Mysteries of 2012

Device Turns Eye Movement Into Handwriting

Apple Considered Investing in Twitter [REPORT]

Hidden Genius Project Provides Tech Mentorship for Young Black Men

What Higher Education Will Look Like in 2020 [STUDY]

Why Do We Keep Going Back to Mars?

This Is What the Olympians From 100 Years Ago Looked Like

Shedding Light on Mitt Romney’s Unexplained Twitter Surge

New Leaked Pics May Hint at iPhone 5 Design

Chick-fil-A PR Chief Dies as Company Battles Controversy

Hacking the Olympics Opening Ceremony

Romney Advisor Tweets ‘Follow Friday’ List of Potential VPs

Facebook’s Not the Only One Struggling With Mobile Advertising

Weekend Leisure

This Cute, Cubed Bamboo Speaker Packs Crazy Sound [VIDEO]

9 Nifty Laptop Feet to Keep Your PC Running Cool

Kickstarter Project Is a ‘Smartwatch’ for Your Smartphone

‘Fund Me Maybe’ Is Tech World’s Parody of ‘Call Me Maybe’ [VIDEO]

10 Stylish Onesies for Baby Geeks

12 Pictures of Animals Being Forced to Marry

It’s Official: This Is the Cutest Picture on the Internet

Twitter Doghouse Lets You Temporarily Dump Annoying Tweeps

Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Boys Will Be Boys In This ‘Girls’ Parody [VIDEO]

10 Brits Snubbed from the Olympic Opening Ceremony

You Have Upset The Tetris God [VIDEO]

Sneak Peek: Justin Bieber Teases ‘As Long As You Love Me’ Video

If ‘A Space Odyssey’ Were Remade as a Hollywood Blockbuster

Forget Traditional Tours; Vayable Helps You Discover New Ways to Travel

Listen to Talk Radio on Your iPhone? You’re Probably a Liberal

You’ll Grin and Bear it With This Wild Live Video Stream

Mr. Bean Gets Carried Away During Olympics Appearance

Get a Bird’s-Eye View of 25 Olympic Stadiums

Top 6 Comments on Mashable This Week

Helpful Resources

Everything You Need to Know About Foursquare’s New Merchant Tools

How to Structure Your Daily Job Search to Help Land Your Next Job

50 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

6 Key Software Updates You Should Be Doing

The Beginner’s Guide to Socialcam

4 Reasons Why Recruiters Should Stop Accepting Traditional Resumes

The Anatomy of a Killer Content Marketing Strategy

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/30/weekend-recap-64/

Experience the Mars Rover Landing on Xbox

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Remember Lunar Lander, the legendary Atari game from 1979, which used vector graphics to portray a (very simple, but fun at the time) lunar landing?

Well, 33 years later NASA has teamed up with Microsoft to create the Mars Rover Landing game for Xbox, giving gamers the chance to experience the “seven minutes of terror,” a popular description of the landing of Mars rover Curiosity.

Of course, NASA’s Mars Rover Landing game is far more complex than the ancient Lunar Lander; in fact, it’s quite close to the real thing, as it simulates three stages of Curiosity’s landing with a fair amount of details.

“We’ve tried to simulate that heart-pounding, sweat-dripping seven minutes using Kinect and using users’ control of their bodies to get the landing right,” said Dave McCarthy, manager of Microsoft’s Game Studios.

The Mars Rover Landing is available as a free download over at Xbox Live. If you’ve tried it out, let us know what you think in the comments!

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/17/mars-rover-landing-xbox/

NASA, ‘Angry Birds’ Team Up to Explore the Red Planet

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There is life on Mars — and it’s out for revenge against some nasty pigs!

Angry Birds creators Rovio announced a new chapter to Angry Birds Space will come out Thursday. The update is titled “Red Planet”, and will send players to the fields of Mars for more bird-on-pig rivalry.

NASA helped Rovio create the trailer by giving them footage taken by the Mars Rover Curiosity from the planet’s surface. In addition, the additional levels will include NASA vehicles as part of the architecture.

“Rovio is teaching huge new audiences about NASA’s missions to Mars thanks to this collaboration,” said David Weaver, associate administrator for communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It’s a great way to introduce both kids and adults to the wonders of the planet in a fun and entertaining way.”

It’s not the first partnership between the two. When Angry Birds Space debuted in March, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit demonstrated the physics behind Angry Birds — while in space.

“We’re huge NASA fans, and we were all cheering the Mars Curiosity rover as it touched down,” said Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer of Rovio Entertainment. “So, working together on the Mars update was a perfect fit.”

Players can download the updates for the iOS [iTunes link] and Android [Google Play link] versions right now.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/23/angry-birds-mars/