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July 30, 2008 by kryo

Those who followed the various announcements at E3 earlier this month probably recall the news of the Wii MotionPlus, which Nintendo said would finally bring true one-to-one motion sensing to the console, rather than the limited pointer-tracking and simple motion controls we've had so far.

Does the new add-on deliver? See for yourself in this video that AiLive (the company who helped Nintendo develop the MotionPlus) posted earlier this week...

July 28, 2008 by kryo

In the latest fascinating news from our robotic minions on the red planet, Phoenix is in a sticky situation once again. It seems our little neighbor's asparagus-friendly soil is being uncooperative with the lander's attempts to analyze it; Phoenix is trying to shake and bake it, but try as it might it can't seem to get the frozen soil to come loose from the scoop. At least so far, we can be thankful that it hasn't been damaged in its attempts.

It's a bit funny really, that the (by NASA standards) dirt-cheap Spirit and Opportunity rovers have done so much for so long, and are still running... yet this latest lander, built on the experiences we've had with the rovers, can't seem to do much of anything right. At least we know there's water on Mars now, so how about we just get on with putting boots on the ground? I bet an astronaut would be a lot more skilled at digging holes and getting the mud to come off the shovel.

July 24, 2008 by kryo

Since it doesn't seem to have spread out of the Demigod forums yet, let it be known that GameSpot has a new Demigod interview up with Chris and Brad, as well as the first preview trailer:


July 23, 2008 by kryo

Some of you may recall the bill in New York (to block the sale of unrated games and require parental controls on consoles) which I've mentioned or posted about a couple of times in the past weeks. Sadly, the bill has now been signed into law by Governor David Paterson.

But in a way that's sort of good, as it means it's now not just New York residents who can fight it. The New York Civil Liberties Union and the National Coalition Against Censorship appear to have taken up the cause, and I'd bet the ESA and Video Game Voters Network will be close behind.

July 21, 2008 by kryo

The week of the 2008 Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone, with little fanfare and noticeably fewer tasty tidbits on upcoming games than used to be meted out this time of year. It's now the second year that the show has been greatly subdued and reduced in size.

Having had two years to try out the new format, a number of gaming industry leaders have commented that it's just not the same, though there are still some people who believe the event is alive and well. Some companies have put words to action and already abandoned the show, opting instead to host their own events.

July 18, 2008 by kryo

It's been rumored for a while now, and this week at E3, an Electronic Arts executive has confirmed it: KotOR is going massive, multiplayer, and online. Could this be the one to beat World of Warcraft?

Bioware is well known as a maker of quality roleplaying games, but this will be their first MMO, and they're certain to have plenty of hype behind them. After all, who doesn't like Star Wars?

More interestingly, the executive also commented that they expect to see PC games grow from 1/3 of the gaming market to 1/2 in three years--seems EA's not buying into the talk about PC gaming being dead. He also mentioned that the company was interested in "online, and direct-to-consumer" (read: digital distribution?).

July 17, 2008 by kryo

In a new report issued jointly by the United States Library of Congress and preservation groups in Australia, the UK, and the Netherlands, a problem has been brought to light that companies who use DRM may not have foreseen: their works can't legally be duplicated by the LOC, and may well disappear entirely once the media degrades or the means to use the works are lost.

We've had discussions recently about DRM that causes trouble for legitimate users, but this takes the issue a step further--thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a growing number of games, programs, music, and other digital works may only last as long as the discs they're on.

July 15, 2008 by kryo

In his summary ruling on Blizzard's case against World of Warcraft cheat-maker Michael Donnelly (released yesterday), District Court Judge David Campbell has stated that the act of using a bot in violation of a game's license or terms of use qualifies as a copyright violation. Huh?

Just to get it out of the way, I'm as much against cheats as the next guy. As a WoW player in particular, I'm glad to see Blizzard shut down the cheaters and cheat-makers. But this ruling doesn't make much sense to me; it seems like a case of the judge just trying to find a way to cover something which doesn't really cross any real existing laws. Worse, it sets some (arguably) nasty precedent, effectively making EULAs law (any violation is a violation of copyright), rather than simple contracts where the most you can lose is your right to use the software.

July 14, 2008 by kryo

Loads of new news from Microsoft on the console front today. First off, and most importantly (to people like me who haven't actually bought one yet, that is), yesterday they announced a $50 price cut on the 20GB model to clear stocks in preparation for a new 60GB model; some stores are even running special deals to put a machine in your hands even cheaper.

Also announced today is an upcoming overhaul to the console's dashboard system, which will have a gallery-like design and the addition of cartoon avatars (cough).

Finally, Microsoft has also made a deal with Netflix to bring streaming rentals straight to the console--no more watching movies on the computer!

July 10, 2008 by kryo


CD Projekt, known most recently for The Witcher, has announced the coming launch of a new DRM-free classic games store named Good Old Games. They plan to have a variety of goodies such as Fallout, Freespace, and Jagged Alliance available at their opening in September, and are planning to update them all for compatibility with current hardware and XP/Vista.

I think this is great news for gamers. Like a certain other online store (wink wink), there won't be any obnoxious DRM, and customers will be able to download as often as they need. If things go well for GOG, the days of nasty DRM and limited downloads may well be numbered. Between new games on Impulse and old games on GOG, we may well soon see a day where nearly any PC game you want to play is available at your fingertips--legally and with no strings attached!

July 9, 2008 by kryo

fallout128In the latest news on government interference in video games, the highly-anticipated upcoming sequel to the classic Fallout games has been banned from sale Australia. The Office of Film and Literature Classification, which is responsible for issuing mandatory ratings for movies and video games in Australia, claims that the game's fictional "chems" are too realistic.

Never mind that there's little difference from the same items in the prior games, which are apparently perfectly acceptable in Australia (and well worth your time if you've never played them!), or that they're simply retro-future versions of the ever-popular potions in pretty much every fantasy game.

If anyone has wondered why I've made it a point to post about game ratings bills being floated here in the US a couple of times already, this is a sad example of why.

July 8, 2008 by kryo

Some of you may be aware of the "three strikes" plan recently approved in France, where suspected copyright infringers are liable to be banned from the internet for up to a year if they persist after two warnings, and failed efforts to push similar laws across the entire EU a few months back.

Not content to be rebuffed, proponents of the laws have put them back on the table in Brussels, where they were set to be voted on yesterday. No news seems to be available online yet about how it went (any Europeans visitors have details on that?). 

Is banning pirates from the internet going too far, or is it justified?

July 7, 2008 by kryo

In a new joint study recently released by Google, IBM, and Switzerland, it was found that more than four out of ten web users don't have the latest updates for their browsers of choice, and are likely vulnerable to attacks as a result.

It's probably not too surprising, but in the per-browser breakdowns, Firefox and Safari users do mostly keep up to date (83% and 65% running the latest versions, respectively). What is a bit surprising to me, given that users who opt for alternate browsers tend to be more security-conscious than the general internet populace, is that Opera came out with just over half of its users keeping up with patches. And finally, IE ranked at the bottom with a bit less than half of its users running the latest version, despite automatic updates having been standard on Windows machines for some time.

What about you guys? Are you running the latest version of your browser? If not, why not?

June 30, 2008 by kryo

Close on the heels of last week's passage in New York's state assembly of a bill governing the sale of console games in that state, the two-year saga of Minnesota's attempt to restrict the sale of mature-rated games has come to a close. The losers? Minnesota's taxpayers.

Having fought and defeated the bill in court, the Entertainment Software Association has been awarded $65,000 for their legal expenses.

Might this serve as a message to New York's Governor Paterson before he signs their likewise misguided bill into law? I wouldn't bet on it. The ESA's victory in Minnesota isn't exactly a surprising development--they've defeated similar bills in other states in the past, with even greater awards from the courts, and that hasn't stopped lawmakers in New York and elsewhere from trying anyway.

Still, you can't complain too much if you don't do something about it--so as before, if you're in New York, please take a minute of your time to voice your opposition now, before it comes out of your wallet later.

June 27, 2008 by kryo


In the latest news from NASA on our little red neighbor, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor have revealed new evidence that the planet was once impacted by another body larger than Pluto. As it turns out, the biggest known impact basin in the solar system has been there all along (some theorized it over twenty years ago), it was just hidden due to some volcanoes that had grown up around the edges.

Down on the surface, the recently-landed Phoenix has been hard at work, digging in the dirt and trying (having failed on its first attempt earlier this month) to get said dirt into its instruments. Having now succeeded, the lander made a startling discovery: Mars may be a good place to grow asparagus, were it not for the pesky sub-zero temperatures and thin atmosphere.