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  • Amazon's Cloud Gaming Service Could Arrive Next Year With Twitch Integration
    According to CNET, Amazon is planning to announce a cloud gaming service next year, and it may offer integration with Twitch and its other services. From the report: It's begun recruiting people from large game companies like Microsoft to help with the launch, as well as hiring for jobs in a "new initiative" within its Amazon Web Services team, which sources said is involved in Amazon's future gaming service. "We believe the evolution that began with arcade communities a quarter at a time, growing to the live streams and e-sports of today, will continue to a future where everyone is a gamer and every gamer can create, compete, collaborate and connect with others at massive scales," one job posting this month showed. And in at least one other job posting, the company said it wants to "drive innovative new use cases like machine vision and game streaming."

    Amazon said in yet another job posting that it plans to integrate its new initiative with Twitch and the company's other services. The Information earlier reported on Amazon's plans, citing a possible launch next year. Industry insiders believe Amazon's plans for a future video game service are a foregone conclusion, despite struggles in its game-making studios, which saw layoffs earlier this year. Instead, these people cite the company's sprawling $119 per year Prime subscription empire, which already includes music streaming, lauded video projects like The Man in the High Castle, free grocery delivery and more.

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  • EverQuest and Pantheon Developer Brad McQuaid Has Died
    Brad McQuaid, best known as a formative hand in the creation of EverQuest, has passed away at the age of 51. From a report: McQuaid's death was reported by the official Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Twitter account, which is the MMO he was working on until his death. A message was also left on the Pantheon MMO forums by user BenD -- Visionary Realms' director of comms Benjamin Dean -- who writes that McQuaid passed away in his home. "Brad was a visionary, a mentor, an artist, a trailblazer, a friend, a husband, a father," the message reads. "He touched thousands of lives with his dreams and concepts. He changed the landscape of video games forever. He will be deeply missed and forever remembered in life and in Pantheon. Thank you, Brad, for bringing us together through your worlds. Rest in peace, Aradune. All of us at Visionary Realms offer our deepest condolences to Brad's family and during this most difficult time, we kindly ask that you respect the privacy of Brad's family."

    Known as Aradune in the MMO community, McQuaid joined Sony Online Entertainment in 1996 as a lead programmer and later producer on EverQuest, before later becoming chief creative officer. In 2002 he left SOE and founded Sigil Games, which shipped the MMO Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Sigil Games was eventually purchased by SOE. He briefly rejoined SOE in 2012-2013 before going independent. Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen was successfully Kickstarter funded in 2014.

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  • Password Data For About 2.2 Million Users of Currency, Gaming Sites Dumped Online
    Password data and other personal information belonging to as many as 2.2 million users of two websites -- one a cryptocurrency wallet service and the other a gaming bot provider -- have been posted online, according to Troy Hunt, the security researcher behind the Have I Been Pwned breach notification service. Ars Technica reports: One haul includes personal information for as many as 1.4 million accounts from the GateHub cryptocurrency wallet service. The other contains data for about 800,000 accounts on RuneScape bot provider EpicBot. The databases include registered email addresses and passwords that were cryptographically hashed with bcrypt, a function that's among the hardest to crack.

    The person posting the 3.72GB Gatehub database said it also includes two-factor authentication keys, mnemonic phrases, and wallet hashes, although GateHub officials said an investigation suggested wallet hashes were not accessed. The EpicBot database, meanwhile, purportedly included usernames and IP addresses. Hunt said he selected a representative sample of accounts from both databases to verify the authenticity of the data. All of the email addresses he checked were registered to accounts of the two sites. [...] While there were 2.2 million unique addresses in the two dumps, it's possible that corresponding password hashes or other data isn't included with each one.

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  • Valve Announces Half-Life: Alyx, Its First Flagship VR Game
    Yesterday, Valve announced Half-Life: Alyx, the first new game in the acclaimed Half-Life series in well over a decade. And unlike the previous Half-Life installments, this game will be playable exclusively in virtual reality. The Verge reports: We don't currently have any details beyond the tweet from Valve above, which appears to be the first tweet from a new, Twitter-verified Valve Software account established in June. But clearly, we'll be learning more on Thursday, presumably from this social media account, at 10am PT. Despite being some of the most influential and critically acclaimed PC games ever made, Valve has famously never finished either of its Half-Life supposed trilogies of games. After Half-Life and Half-Life 2, the company created Half-Life: Episode 1 and Half-Life: Episode 2, but no third game in the series. The closest we've come to knowing anything about where Half-Life was headed was this thinly veiled fanfic from former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw.

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  • Google Stadia Review: Gaming's Streaming Future Isn't Here Yet
    Scott Stein, reviews Google Stadia cloud gaming service for CNET: Stadia's launch day was earlier this week... sort of. Really, consider this the start of Stadia's early-access beta period. Because Google's big promises haven't arrived, and at the price of the Stadia's Founder's Edition, I can't recommend anyone jump onboard at the moment. Google's experimental game streaming service, Stadia, launches without many of its promised features, and just a handful of games. It works, but there's not much incentive to buy in. We've heard about the promises of streaming games over the internet for a decade. Stadia really does work as a way to stream games. I've only played a couple of the 12 games Google promised by Tuesday's launch, though. That short list pales compared to what Microsoft already has on tap for its in-beta game-streaming service, xCloud. It's no match for what Nvidia's game streaming GeForce Now already has or what PlayStation Now offers. Prices of Stadia games at launch in the US are below. They're basically full retail game prices. This could get crazy expensive fast.

    [...] Stadia has so few games right now, and I'm trying them with no one else online. It isn't clear how things will work now that the service is going live, and what other features will kick in before year's end. I'm curious, but I might lose interest. Others might, too. I have plenty of other great games to play right now: on Apple Arcade, VR and consoles such as the Switch. Stadia isn't delivering new games yet, it's just trying to deliver a new way to play through streaming. One that you can already get from other providers. Until Google finds a way to loop in YouTube and develop truly unique competitive large-scale games, Stadia isn't worth your time yet. Yes, the future is possibly wild, and you can see hints of the streaming-only cloud-based playground Stadia wants to become. But we'll see what it shapes into over the next handful of months and check back in. Raymond Wong, writing for Input Mag looks at the amount of data playing a game on Stadia consumes and how the current state of things require a very fast internet connection to work: Like streaming video, streaming games is entirely dependent on your internet speed. Faster internet delivers smooth, lag-free visuals, and slower internet means seeing some glitches and dropped framerates. Google recommends a minimum of connection of 10Mbps for 1080p Full HD streaming at 30 fps with stereo sound and 35Mbps for 4K resolution streaming (in HDR if display is supported) at 60 fps with 5.1 surround sound. Reality didn't reflect Google's advertising, though. Despite having a Wi-Fi connection with 16-20Mbps downloads in a hotel room in LA, streaming Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Destiny 2 to my 13-inch MacBook Pro wasn't 100% stable. The visuals would glitch out for a second or two about every 10 minutes of playtime. [...] A fast internet connection isn't the only thing you need for Stadia to work right. You need a lot of bandwidth, too. One hour of playing Red Dead Redemption 2 at 1080p resolution on my 46-inch HDTV via a Chromecast Ultra ate up 5.3GB of data. This seemed insane until I saw an hour of Destiny 2 on a Pixel 3a XL with 6-inch, 1080p-resolution display gobbled up 9.3GB of data!

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  • 'Doom' Creator John Romero Explains What's Wrong With Today's Shooter Games
    An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian:

    "Give us more guns!" is a common battle-cry among players of first-person shooters, the videogame industry's bloodiest genre. Doom co-creator John Romero has a rather different opinion. "I would rather have fewer things with more meaning, than a million things you don't identify with," he says, sitting in a Berlin bar mocked up to resemble a 1920s Chicago speakeasy. "I would rather spend more time with a gun and make sure the gun's design is really deep -- that there's a lot of cool stuff you learn about it...."

    Modern shooters are too close to fantasy role-playing games in how they shower you with new weapons from battle to battle, Romero suggests. This abundance of loot -- which reflects how blockbuster games generally have become Netflix-style services, defined by an unrelenting roll-out of "content" -- means you spend as much time comparing guns in menus as savouring their capabilities. It encourages you to think of each gun as essentially disposable, like an obsolete make of smartphone. "The more weapons you throw in there, the more you're playing an inventory game." Romero contrasts this to the sparing design of the original Doom, which launched in 1993 with a grand total of eight guns. "For Doom, it was really important that every time you got a new weapon, it never made any previous weapons useless...."

    Doom is also a game that knows how to keep a secret. It isn't just a firefight simulator but a treacherous, vaguely avant-garde work of 3D architecture. Its levels are mazes of hidden rooms and camouflaged doors that screech open behind you -- sometimes revealing a pile of ammunition, sometimes disgorging enemies into areas you've cleared. Today's shooters set less store by secret spaces, Romero says, because they cost so much to make.

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  • Xbox One November Update Arrives With Google Assistant, Gamertag Updates, More
    Microsoft's November 2019 update for Xbox One consoles is now headed out to everyone. From a report: After a period of testing with Xbox Insiders, several new features are now rolling out to the public, including Google Assistant support, the option to use any Gamertag, text filters, and more. Perhaps the biggest update here is support for Google Assistant. While it doesn't run on your Xbox, Google Assistant support allows you to issue commands to control your Xbox from your phone or smart speaker. It works much like the Amazon Echo integration that hit Xbox consoles several months ago, letting you turn your Xbox on, launch games, and more with your voice. The Gamertag updates in the November 2019 update bring more choice to players on consoles. Microsoft announced a plan earlier this year to revamp Gamertags, allowing you to choose any name you want. If you pick a Gamertag that's already taken, you'll have a numbered suffix added to it. "With the November 2019 Xbox Update, these gamertag options are now supported on console, including profiles, friend lists, messages, Clubs, LFG and more," Microsoft says.

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  • Microsoft Adds Over 50 Games To xCloud Preview, Plans Launch For 2020
    Microsoft has added more than 50 new games to the preview of its Project xCloud game streaming service, including Devil May Cry 5, Tekken 7 and Madden 2020. Engadget reports: In a blog post today, Microsoft said it'll send out a new wave of xCloud preview invites to gamers in the US, UK and South Korea. Starting next year, it also plans to expand the preview to Canada, India, Japan and Western Europe. If you live in one of those countries, you can sign up for the preview here and hope you get selected.

    For now, the xCloud preview is only available for Android phones and tablets, but Microsoft says next year it'll also be headed to Windows PCs and other devices. I'm sure Roku owners would be pleased, but it'd be even more intriguing if Microsoft could eventually bring the xCloud preview to smart TVs and Apple devices. While testers need to use Xbox controllers with the service now, Microsoft also says it'll work with other bluetooth controllers next year, including Sony's Dual Shock 4 and Razer's entries. Yes, you'll soon live in a world where you can play Halo with a PlayStation branded gamepad. Among other tidbits, the xCloud preview will also let gamers stream titles they already own next year, as well those made available through Xbox GamePass for subscribers.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



  • Stadia Launch Developer Says Game Makers Are Worried 'Google Is Just Going To Cancel It'
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google has a long and well-documented history of launching new services only to shut them down a few months or years later. And with the launch of Stadia imminent, one launch game developer has acknowledged the prevalence of concerns about that history among her fellow developers while also downplaying their seriousness in light of Stadia's potential. "The biggest complaint most developers have with Stadia is the fear that Google is just going to cancel it," Gwen Frey, developer of Stadia launch puzzle game Kine, told GamesIndustry.biz in recently published comments. "Nobody ever says, 'Oh, it's not going to work,' or 'Streaming isn't the future.' Everyone accepts that streaming is pretty much inevitable. The biggest concern with Stadia is that it might not exist."

    While concerns about Stadia working correctly aren't quite as nonexistent as Frey said, early tests show the service works well enough in ideal circumstances. As for the service's continued existence, Frey thinks such concerns among other developers are "kind of silly." "Working in tech, you have to be willing to make bold moves and try things that could fail," Frey continued. "And yeah, Google's canceled a lot of projects. But I also have a Pixel in my pocket, I'm using Google Maps to get around. I only got here because my Google Calendar told me to get here by giving me a prompt in Gmail. It's not like Google cancels every fucking thing they make." "Nothing in life is certain, but we're committed to making Stadia a success," said Stadia Director of Product Andrew Doronichev in July. "Of course, it's OK to doubt my words. There's nothing I can say now to make you believe if you don't. But what we can do is to launch the service and continue investing in it for years to come."

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  • Google Reveals Stadia Launch Lineup of 12 Games
    As we approach the November 19th launch date of Stadia, Google has revealed there will be just 12 games available to start. ExtremeTech reports: Stadia is similar to GeForce Now and Microsoft's upcoming xCloud service. Instead of downloading a game or buying a physical copy, Stadia renders the games on a Google server and streams the video down to your devices. Companies have been trying to figure this out for almost a decade, ever since OnLive began offering cloud gaming services in 2010. Even if Stadia works perfectly, it won't matter if it lacks content. The initial launch lineup has a little of everything, but the emphasis is on little. Here's the list of games you'll be able to buy on November 19th: Assassin's Creed Odyssey; Destiny 2: The Collection; GYLT; Just Dance 2020; Kine; Mortal Kombat 11; Red Dead Redemption 2; Rise of the Tomb Raider; SAMURAI SHODOWN; Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition; Thumper; and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.

    Google has, of course, announced other games for Stadia. Anything previously announced like Darksiders Genesis and Borderlands 3 will come later. Google promises the latter will launch on Stadia in 2019 along with more titles like Rage 2, Grid, and Metro Exodus. Stadia launches on November 19th exclusively for players who ordered the Founder's Edition starter kit. That comes with three months of Stadia Pro ($10 per month after), a limited edition controller, a Chromecast Ultra, and a copy of Destiny 2. The base version of Stadia, which lacks 4K support will be available early next year. That one doesn't include a monthly fee, but you still have to pay for the games.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



| Date published: 2019-11-21T03:29:22+00:00
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