Google releases Helpouts app for iPhone
Google debuted its Hangouts-based video support service Google Helpouts last fall; today an app version for iPhone has been released. Users can connect over Google's Hangouts service to experts who are knowledgable in a specific subject for tutoring. The iOS app offers the ability to find, schedule, give or start a "Helpout," read reviews and listing details, receive text-message and mobile reminders, and more. Helpouts for iPhone does not support creating new listings for topics, as this feature is currently limited to its web version. Available for free on iTunes, Google Helpouts requires iOS 6.0 or later.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut released for OS X
Feral Interactive has announced today that Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut has been released for OS X, available exclusively through Steam. Deus Ex: Human Revolution players perform as an ex-SWAT specialist who has been hired to oversee the security of an experimental biotechnology firm. Adam Jensen discovers there is more to the company than previously thought when a black ops team breaks in and kills scientists.
Microsoft rolls out latest update for Xbox One console, adds friend notifications
Microsoft's Xbox One console has received another update, rolling out beginning today. Now including notifications for when friend players arrive online, users will be able to identify friends who are playing multiplayer games. The console's Kinect voice and motion detection has also been improved, reducing false positives on non-hand objects that trigger gesture commands. Other features in the update include improved GameDVR video quality, controller headset adapter firmware updates, silent reboot after system updates and system update on demand, and more.
Re-release of popular franchise for modern hardware and OS
Sim City 4's original release on OS X had a bum rap, mostly as a virtue of timing. The first release in 2003 was aimed at the PowerPC architecture, and games often got short shrift when Apple migrated to Intel. The title worked on Rosetta, but not well. In 2007, Aspyr released an Intel patch for the game, but it ran poorly, and crashed often. Surprisingly, last week, Aspyr re-released the title with more burly hardware requirements, but this time, Intel-optimized.
Blizzard's Warcraft-themed Hearthstone card game adds single-player campaign
Blizzard yesterday at PAX East announced a new single-player campaign for its Warcraft-themed card game, Hearthstone. Curse of Naxxramas: A Hearthstone Adventure is comprised of five dungeon wings to progress through, gaining new cards for one's Hearthstone collection by defeating iconic bosses along the way. Upon earning the cards, players can start using them in their desks right away.
Sony announces upcoming massive multiplayer game to launch in next 4-6 weeks
Sony has announced the upcoming release of a new massive multiplayer survival zombie game, based on an Internet hoax from 2009. Entitled H1Z1, the game plays off of a hoax that claimed that the "swine flu" virus, H1N1, has mutated into the cause of a phenomenon that turns the dead into zombies. Set 15 years after the virus first affects people, Sony's emphasis will be on player ownership and building a variety of objects, including weaponry and houses. H1Z1 will be made available on Steam's Early Access for $20, though beyond the 4-6 week estimate there is currently no official release date for the game.
Corsair's Vengeance K70 mechanical gaming keyboard new keyswitch colors
Gaming hardware developer, Corsair, has announced that its Vengeance K70 mechanical gaming keyboard, originally available in black aluminum with red backlit keys, is now available in new keyswitch color options. Now offered in Cherry MX Blue and Brown keyswitches in addition to the original Cherry MX Reds, the refreshed K70 features an anodized black aluminum chassis and red backlighting.
G502 gaming mouse includes adjustable weights, free-wheeling scroll wheel
Logitech has unveiled a new and highly customizable gaming mouse. The G502 Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse is claimed to be the first to use a 12,000dpi sensor to track its position, which when combined with other features, allows the user to heavily personalize the mouse depending on what they're playing and what kind of surface they are using.
Nvidia Shield can be used to stream games over the Internet from home PC
Nvidia's latest Android 4.4.2 software update for the Shield handheld game system allows players to stream games from their computer to the device outside of the home. Expanding from the existing in-home streaming, the remote GameStream feature is in beta and requires a hefty connection on each side, with the home PC graphics card compatibility list extended to include the GTX 800M, 700M, and select 600M GPUs in gaming notebooks.
Intel migrates Thunderbolt peer-to-peer networking on Windows 8
At the National Association of Broadcasters 2014 show, Intel extended its Thunderbolt networking technology to Windows. Previously available on OS X Mavericks, a pair of Thunderbolt-equipped computers can be directly connected with Thunderbolt Networking, giving the pair a full original Thunderbolt 10Gbps speed connection, using existing cables and connectors. The networking uses the TCP/IP protocol, and is fully cross-platform compatible.
WW2 combat simulation Combat Mision: Red Thunder released
Battlefront.com has released a major new title in its series of tactical WW2 combat simulations, entitled Combat Mission: Red Thunder. Set during 1944, when Operation Bagration took the Soviet forces from the swamps of Belarus to the gates of Warsaw, players can play out historical battles and campaigns or create customized quick battles. Combat Mission: Red Thunder is a standalone game, and features new game engine features such as backpack and vehicle flamethrowers, tank riders, hit decals, and more. The game is available for download for OS X (as well as Windows), priced at $55.
Popular Game Boy Advance titles now available on Wii U's eShop
Nintendo has released its first group of Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games on the Wii U online store. Available for $8 per title, current releases include strategy-based game Advance Wars, RPG Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and side-scrolling shooter Metroid Fusion. More titles are due to roll out throughout April, such as Kirby & The Amazing Adventure, WarioWare, Super Mario Bros. 3 and others.
MMORPG rides on success of earlier single-player RPGs
Bethesda and ZeniMax have launched simultaneous Mac, Windows, and console versions of The Elder Scrolls Online, the former's first massively-multiplayer online role-playing game. The title is based on earlier single-player Elder Scrolls games like Skyrim, but with the addition of new character customization options and multiplayer-specific gameplay elements. These include things like alliances, guilds, and a player-versus-player battle system which can see hundreds of people fighting simultaneously.
Game matching, servers shutting down on May 31
The venerable GameSpy game hosting service will shut down after 17 years in operation. A brief posting by parent company Glu Mobile noted that "effective May 31, GameSpy will cease providing all hosting services for all games still using GameSpy. Thanks for a great ride!" Hundreds of games on nearly every platform are affected by the closure, including popular titles on OS X, iOS, Android, Windows, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.
New display offers 144Hz refresh, 80,000,000:1 contrast
Display manufacturer AOC today announced the 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor -- model number G2460PQU. Designed for high-performance gaming, the AOC G2460PQU delivers a refresh rate of 144Hz and response time of 1ms to offer users reduced input lag and more frames per second. The wall-mountable monitor displays up to 16.7 million colors with a maximum resolution of 1920x1080 and a contrast ratio of 80,000,000:1.
PC spaceship simulation game ported for iPad 2 or later
Subset Games' PC strategy game Faster Than Light (FTL) has been ported for the iPad 2 and later. Gamers are tasked with running a spaceship trying to escape an oncoming rebel fleet. This involves managing crews and subsystems, coping with threats like fires, boardings, and depressurization. The iPad version includes the free Advanced Edition expansion, which adds new ship, enemies, events, weapons, and more. Available for $10 on iTunes, FTL requires iOS 6 or later, and is thus not compatible with the original iPad.
New Kinect for Windows sensor accompanied by new SDK
Microsoft has updated the version of the Kinect for Windows, bringing it in line with the Kinect used in the Xbox One, the company has revealed. The new sensor bar will ship sometime this summer alongside an updated software development kit, with Microsoft also preparing to make it easier for developers to provide members of the public with Kinect-enabled Windows apps.
Resolution independent UI, best practices detailed at BUILD conference
At today's Build conference, Microsoft has detailed an initiative to allow developers to create one application, usable across Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 8 for the Surface tablet, Windows 8.1 for the PC, as well as the Xbox One. The move, rumored for some time, is the first of its kind, allowing nearly all the same code to be used across platform -- contrary to Apple's and Google's approach to mobile device application development.
Xbox One owners in Europe, Canada, US involved in invite-only preview
Microsoft hopes to make the Xbox One more useful for watching television and media, by outlining updates for the game console and SmartGlass. Changes to the way SmartGlass navigates around the console have been shown off, as well as upcoming changes which will give more viewing options to users on both sides of the Atlantic in the future.
May include full-sized analog sticks
More information has reportedly leaked on Razer's upcoming iOS game controller, codenamed Kazuyo. The combination case/gamepad is expected to include features like pressure-sensitive buttons, and full-sized analog sticks, which should make some games easier to control. Since earlier incarnations, the device appears to have been given a more rounded design.
Opportunity to 'try before you buy,' earn rewards through ads seen as selling points
A new study from Wild Tangent and IHS Technology has found that iOS gamers overwhelmingly prefer free games with ads -- so called "freemium" games -- over paid but ad-free game apps. A total of 86 percent of the 500 respondents sampled in the survey said they preferred free games with ads over paid games, with 70 percent preferring advertising-support games, while the other 16 percent preferred ad-supported games that offered in-app purchases (IAPs) to buy equipment, levels and other items.
Move latest in executive shuffles by new Microsoft CEO
New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella continues to shuffle executives. In a memo to Microsoft employees today, Nadella has named Phil Spencer as the head of the Xbox division of Microsoft. Additionally, the CEO has promoted Scott Guthrie to executive vice president, and has detailed Nokia chief Stephen Elop's role as executive vice president of Microsoft Services Group.
Former media event lives on as accessory, app showcase
The Macworld Expo (now called Macworld/iWorld) certainly isn't the show it was five years ago, the last year Apple attended. Its a much smaller show -- maybe 25,000 attendees at best -- but with a more sustainable focus: a showcase for computer and mobile peripherals, accessories and gadgets, as well as a gathering of app developers. Because Apple doesn't make big announcements timed to the conference anymore -- and the one company that did, Microsoft, chose not to have its Office for iPad event there -- the Macworld/iWorld show doesn't make the news as often as it used to.
Coding legend feels VR is ultimately 'The Final Platform'
The driving force behind game developer and distributor Valve's virtual reality effort has left the company. Michael Abrash has taken a job at post-Facebook acquisition Oculus, as chief scientist. In a post announcing the shift (and defending the acquisition), Abrash claims that "Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory."
Exposure cannot overcome Flappy Bird phenomenon, but it helps
A new study by mobile analytics firm App Annie has quantified the idea that app developers can increase their products' visibility in the App Store and gain players through the use of TV commercials -- particularly for top-quality "freemium" titles. While the practice of developers creating their own TV ads is common in some countries like Japan, it is a fairly new phenomenon in the North America. The App Annie study showed a correlation between TV exposure and a gain in App Store rankings.
Three-episode 'season pass' now available for $20
The epic quest platformer BioShock Infinite on Tuesday saw the simultaneous release on Mac and Windows of its third and final expansion pack, Burial at Sea - Episode 2. The add-on follows the release of Burial at Sea - Episode 1 and Clash in the Clouds for the artistic platformer, which makes exceptional use of rich environments, and offers new achievements as well as a continuation of the previous pack's storyline. The $20 "Season Pass" has been updated to include the new content.
Showyou video content app now supports Chromecast
Video streaming app Showyou has released an update featuring Chromecast support for both Android and iOS versions. Featuring thousands of channels, users can browse through customized content guides and categories to find something specific to watch, or view content based on the app's suggestions, generated by what channels one follows.
BBC iPlayer Radio update adds Favorites, recent searches and more
The BBC has updated its iPlayer Radio for iOS today, offering new features such as Favorites for users in the UK. The iPlayer Radio app provides live steaming access to all BBC Radio stations, with browsing of hundreds of on-demand "Listen Again" programs. Users can download podcasts to listen to on the go, discover new music with Playlister, connect to AirPlay or Bluetooth audio devices, and more. Version 1.5.0 offers a new Favorites feature, offering a save function for desired shows. Also included in the update is a recent searches history, schedules both seven days in the past and future, improved lock-screen function, and other minor improvements. Requiring iOS 6 or later and a UK iTunes account and IP address, BBC iPlayer Radio is free to download.
Purchase by Facebook follows 75,000 Oculus Rift orders
Facebook has announced it will be acquiring Oculus VR, makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The agreement, worth approximately $2 billion, is split down between $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock currently worth $1.6 billion, with an extra $300 million cash and stock earn-out on top for achieving certain milestones.
New effort boosts data sharing speeds from five to 12 times current technology
Nvidia today announced at the 2014 GPU Technology Conference that it plans to integrate a high-speed interconnect, called Nvidia NVlink, into its future GPUs. Nvidia claims the new technology will enable GPUs and CPUs to share data five to 12 times faster than they can today. The improvements purge a long-standing performance bottleneck, and help pave the way for a new generation of supercomputers that are 50-100 times faster than today's most powerful systems.
Does the oddly-shaped peripheral help or hinder gameplay?
Online gameplay is becoming more and more competitive, to the point where there an assortment of leagues where "pro gamers" can be found earning a very good wage, if they perform well enough. In the past, some gamers have turned to "modded" controllers, meaning console controllers that have been artificially boosted in some way; but lately, nearly all of these have been banned from organized play. One that has not been banned is the Avenger Controller peripheral -- a snap-on case, extending the reach of buttons on the controller, and allegedly reducing response time and boosting the overall gameplay of the user. Lofty claims -- but do they hold up? Read our review and find out!
LG adding Knock Code security to G2, G Flex from April
LG will be bringing its Knock Code unlocking system to the G2 and G Flex smartphones. First appearing on the G Pro 2 and G2 mini, Knock Code extends the existing KnockOn feature by waking and unlocking the device in one maneuver, via the user tapping four segmented areas of the display in one of 80,000 combinations. Knock Code will land on the G2 and G Flex from April onwards, depending on carrier and market.
Square now offering POS platform in Spanish
Point-of-Sale card payment service Square has released its app Square Register in Spanish today. Square Register, available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, allows businesses to accept card payments in-store. The web-based dashboard as well as its online selling platform, Square Market, now also support Spanish. Square's services are currently available to business owners in US, Canada and Japan.
Price undercuts recent announcement for Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games
Not to be outdone by Epic Games, game developer Crytek has announced a new pricing plan for its CryEngine called an "Engine -as-a-Service" (EaaS) program for developers. The program consists of a $10 license fee per month that is royalty-free. This undercuts Epic Game's recent announcement that it would price its Unreal Engine 4 at $19 per month, with a five percent royalty on gross revenues.
Newest title in the franchise places gamers in the French Revolution
Ubisoft has revealed the new Assassin's Creed Unity title for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One systems. The latest title in the franchise has been in production for more than three years, according to the company. No story details have been released about the protagonist or if any new game elements are coming, such as the ship battles seen in Black Flag. However, the time frame and setting are outlined in the trailer, as the game takes place in France during the French Revolution. No official release date has been given for Unity, but the teaser trailer offers a "holiday 2014" window.
Civilization V adds support for the new Mac Pro, 4K resolution
Aspyr has released a new update for Civilization V, aimed at improving its performance on the newest Mac Pro. Allowing for 4K resolutions on supporting monitors while running into fewer crashes, Mac games that use the Mac Pro will now be able to take advantage of the machine's second video card. The updated game will automatically download and install for Steam users, and Mac app-version users can grab the update from the App Store. Civilization V and all of its DLC and expansions are currently 50 percent off, until March 27.
Promotes small developers and their favorite apps
Apple has launched a new section at the App Store, the Indie Game Showcase. As the name implies, the section concentrates on a specific title -- currently Simogo's Device 6, which was a runner-up for Apple's 2013 Game of the Year award. It also highlights other games by the same developer though, and titles that the development team enjoys.
New API aimed at PC, Xbox One, tablets, smartphones
Microsoft today introduced DirectX 12 at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. DirectX 12 is Microsoft's latest version of the graphics API, a leader in the $25 billion PC gaming industry. Nvidia will support the DX12 API on the DX11-class GPUs it has shipped. Compatible cards belong to the Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell architectural families, but cards not strictly adhering to the reference may not be compatible.
Provides more realistic shadow, light sources and transparency effects
Imagine Technologies, the company that provides graphics subsystems used in Apple's iPhone and iPad processors as well as other GPUs, has announced a new version of the PowerVR graphics architecture, called "Wizard," that adds realism and better lighting and transparency effects to graphics by using selected ray-tracing effects alongside traditional rasterization. The technology is already supported in the just-announced Unity 5 gaming engine.
Creator tells fans, Rolling Stone he will bring back game, 'but not soon'
Dong Nguyen, the creator of the highly-addictive game Flappy Bird confirmed to a fan at a game developers' conference in San Francisco on Wednesday that he plans on returning the app to Apple's App Store at some point in the future -- with added warnings urging players to "please take a break" periodically -- but won't specify when it is returning.
Sony to release PS4 update, adding rich video editor and more
Today Sony announced on its blog the upcoming release of a patch for PlayStation 4. Offering the new ability to turn High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) off at any time, players will be able to record footage using an external capture device. The patch will add a video editor for users to modify their gaming footage without the need for external software, and video and screenshot content will be able to be moved to an external USB drive if desired. Sony states that in partnership with Twitch and Ustream, it will be adding the ability for Twitch broadcasts to be archived, and offered in a higher resolution of 720p. Further details are expected in the coming weeks.
Monthly fee, royalty payments a vast change from previous Unreal Engine licensing scheme
Epic Games is updating the way it charges for access to its game technology, by offering Unreal Engine 4 for a monthly fee. Instead of making an arrangement to pay potentially millions of dollars for the engine's use in a game, Epic is instead providing it for a subscription of $19 per month, as well as a five-percent cut of royalties from gross revenues.
Blurring reduced, resolution increased in updated Oculus Rift VR headset
Oculus VR has revealed the latest iteration of its Oculus Rift developer kit at the Game Developers Conference, and is now accepting pre-orders for the upgraded virtual reality headset. Development Kit 2 (DK2) is based on the updated Crystal Cove prototype the company demonstrated at CES in January, and introduces a number of new features for developers to take advantage of.
Titanfall for previous generation Xbox 360 delayed yet again
Critically-acclaimed Xbox One title Titanfall's release date for the Xbox 360 is slipping again. Publisher EA today announced that the new ship date for the title is April 8 in the US and April 11 in Europe. This is the second ship date for the ostentibly-complete title in this calendar year, with the first pushing the date from March 11 to March 25 to "put the finishing touches" on the game. EA is hoping that the latest delay will make the game "even better."
YotaPhone with secondary e-paper display goes on sale in UK
The YotaPhone, an Android smartphone from Yota Devices with an energy-saving rear 360x640 e-paper display accompanying the conventional 4.3-inch 720x1280 screen, has gone on sale in the United Kingdom. Sold through the company's own online store for £419 ($696), notes ZDNet, the dual-screen device has a dual-core 1.7GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a 1,800mAh battery.
Vimeo acquires video recording, editing and sharing app Cameo
Vimeo has announced today that it has acquired video shooting, editing and sharing video iPhone app Cameo. Offering a two-minute maximum sequence length, Cameo differs from short-form video apps such as Vine and Instagram. Users can change the order of the clips, add music and invite friends to contribute with their own footage. Themes build on a traditional filter with caption font, color tweaks and effects. The terms of Vimeo's deal with Cameo has not been disclosed, however it has been stated that the app will not be shut down at present.
Will leverage Prime Video, rumored to offer game and music streaming also
A new report from the Wall Street Journal claims that Amazon is in the process of demonstrating to partners and developers a nearly-complete set-top box device designed to leverage the company's Prime streaming services and compete directly against Apple TV and Roku. The device is thought to be debuting sometime next month, and may also offer game streaming.
New version brings 64-bit, speed enhancements, full access to Unity 4
Unity Technologies today unveiled Unity 5, the next generation of the Unity multiplatform engine and development tools, during its Developer Day at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Unity 5 brings a host of new capabilities and features, enabling all developers to create games and interactive experiences and deploy them to almost any platform.
Softimage to be phased out
Autodesk has announced a slate of 2015-edition updates to its 3D animation programs, including 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, and Softimage. Perhaps the greatest focus is on Maya, which has been upgraded with features like the new Bifrost procedural effects system, the XGen arbitrary primitive generator for hair and vegetation, and geodesic voxel binding for character skinning. ShaderFX is a new node-based interface for shader programming, and the software also supports Pixar's OpenSubdiv libraries.
Exits Microsoft Xbox unit after 14 years, three console launches
Marc Whitten, the long-time chief product officer for Xbox at Microsoft, is leaving the company, the software giant has revealed. Whitten is departing to take on the same role of chief product officer at home audio device manufacturer Sonos, leaving Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson to temporarily take over the Xbox position while the company searches for a replacement.