An anonymous reader writes "The new Xbox is almost here and the details appear to strongly suggest 'always on' is the way forward. We all know that this is an artificial requirement and certainly there are plenty of people on all sides of the table. To paraphrase the user 'tuffy' who commented on this issue at Ars Technica recently; if you're trying to sell 'always online' as a feature of the future, there needs to be some benefit for me the customer. There is not one. Or, rather, there is no sign yet of any actual clearly compelling reason why any end user would support this limitation to their purchase. So, what's the best way to express this? Spend your money on an Ouya? Contact the Xbox team? These are all valid options but they also lack visibility. What we need is a way that could help actually quantify the levels of discontent in the gamer community. Maybe E3 attendees could turn their backs in protest like some did during Thatcher's funeral procession. Or gamers could sign some useless petition. What do Slashdotters think? Is the upcoming Steam box a reasonable plan? As a gamer, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I really don't like it but I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it. Then again part of me is rankled by this slow erosion of access to me and my data."
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MojoKid writes "Intel recently revealed a number of details regarding future Atom and Xeon processors and proposed server rack-level enhancements to improve efficiency and ease upgrades. The company will soon refresh its Xeon and Atom processor lines with new products manufactured using Intel's 22nm process node, which offer improved performance per watt characteristics and expanded feature sets. In total, Intel revealed details of three new low-power, Atom-branded SoCs for the data center, all coming in 2013. Intel is also updating the Xeon E3, E5, and E7 product lines. The Atom processor family will see new SoCs based on designs codenamed Briarwood, Avoton, and Rangeley, while the more powerful Xeons will be updated with Haswell, Ivy Bridge EP, and Ivy Bridge EX-based designs. Xeon E3s will leverage the increased graphics performance of Haswell to improve performance in multimedia-related workloads, like HD video transcodes. OHaswell-based Xeon E3 processors will also offer improved performance per watt over existing Sandy and Ivy Bridge-based designs and Intel will offer Xeon E3 processors with TDPs as low as 13 watts, approximately 25% lower than the prior generation."
When the Wii U was released at the end of last year, Nintendo got a head-start on the long-awaited new generation of video game consoles. Now, Sony has announced a press conference for February 20th that is expected to unveil the PlayStation 4, codenamed 'Orbis.' This will precede the announcement of the Xbox 360's successor, codenamed 'Durango,' but that too will likely be announced by E3 in June. Specs for development kits of both systems have leaked widely. The two systems both use 8-core AMD chips clocked around 1.6 GHz. Durango has 8GB of DDR3 RAM, while Orbis has 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, though Sony is trying to push that up to 8GB for the console's final spec. Reports also suggest Sony is tinkering with its controller design, going so far as to add a "Share" button to let people exchange screenshots and recordings. Developers indicate the systems are very close in power, though Sony's system currently has an edge. With the upcoming announcement of the PS4, the big-three console makers will kick off a new round of direct competition. They'll maneuver to one-up each other with the most powerful hardware and the slickest software. However, they'll also hope the release of three major consoles in rapid succession will help to anchor a part of the games industry that no longer enjoys the dominance it once did, thanks to threats from mobile.
identity0 writes "According to Japan Probe, Hiroyuki Nishimura, the founder of 2ch.net, has been charged with drug offenses by Japanese police over a forum post made on 2ch in 2010. He is not even accused of making the post, but of failure to have moderators delete it. The post apparently discussed drugs. 2ch.net (also called 2channel) is Japan's biggest forum, with over a million posts a day, of which the post in question was one. The site inspired image board 2chan.net (but is not directly related to it), which spawned copycat English site 4chan.net. More info at Slashdot Japan, if you can read Japanese."
MojoKid writes "E3 is well underway in Los Angeles, and Microsoft has already made a major splash with its 'SmartGlass' technology, game demos, and its announcement that a Kinect-powered version of Internet Explorer will debut on the Xbox 360. This is a marked change from last year, when Kinect was the unquestioned centerpiece of Microsoft's display and the company's demos focused on how Kinect-powered games used your full body as a controller. Kinect is in the interesting position of having sold extremely well while failing to move the bar forward in any of the ways Microsoft projected in the run up to its launch. Scroll through the ratings on Kinect-required titles, and the percentages are abysmal. Kinect's biggest problem is rooted in ergonomics. Gamepads with buttons may be crude approximations of real life, but they're simple and intuitive. They're also flexible — a great many games have conditional scenarios that allow the same button to perform different functions depending on what's going on within the game. Pure Kinect games don't have a simple mechanism to incorporate these features, and there's no easy way around them. The motion-controller's most enduring features may ultimately be its capabilities outside the gaming sphere."
An anonymous reader writes "John Carmack, co-founder of id Software, is using his spare time to develop a modern virtual reality headset. After purchasing such a device last year, Carmack became frustrated with how slowly the technology has progressed over the past twenty years. So, he decided to push it forward himself. PCGamer reports that he's been showing off his prototype behind closed doors at E3 this year, and has an interview with him about the problems with VR and the technical challenges he needs to overcome. They even get a look at the prototype itself, which is currently held together with duct tape."
MojoKid writes "When it comes to Star Wars, the gaming industry has a long history of cranking out titles of uncertain quality. For every brilliant title like Knights of the Old Republic, we've seen several clunkers and a few outright failures like Republic Heroes. LucasArts demonstrated a new Star Wars game at E3 this week, Star Wars: 1313 and despite the brand's uneven history, folks are cautiously optimistic. The 1313 moniker refers to a specific level of Coruscant which is a haven for criminals, bounty hunters, and crime lords. You take on the role of a bounty hunter looking for information on an unspecified criminal conspiracy who descends to 1313 in search of data. This will likely be the first Star Wars game to be rated 'M' for mature, and it focuses on the seedy underbelly of the universe."
chrb writes "Nintendo has announced that its new Wii U console will feature a social network called the Miiverse in which users can video chat, see what others are playing, share game content and swap tips." And with a nod to Zawinski's Law, "The redesigned Wii U GamePad features dual sticks, a touch screen that supports finger and stylus interaction, motion and gyroscope sensors, and the ability to act as a TV remote. The Wii U GamePad has its own dedicated Web browser and can share images and video to a TV so that everyone can enjoy the shared content."
donniebaseball23 writes "Microsoft recently confirmed that it's not going to be talking at all about its next Xbox, codenamed Durango, at this year's E3, instead keeping the focus on Xbox 360. Forbes columnist Chris Morris explains that Microsoft likely doesn't have games to show for the system yet — and why should they take the focus off Xbox 360, which currently has a lot of momentum? Ultimately, though, the decision not to show the next system 'could have a ripple effect on the rest of the industry,' he says. And by pushing Durango's unveiling back a year, 'Microsoft could find itself going head to head with Sony in a battle of features, even if the machines don't hit shelves at the same time.'" The latest rumor is that an ARM-based Xbox 'lite' is planned for 2013, with a true successor to the 360 coming some time after that.
itwbennett writes "Microsoft dropped a bomb yesterday: they won't be showing new hardware this year or 'anytime soon.' Microsoft told Kotaku that '2012 is all about Xbox 360.' Meanwhile, Bloomberg's mysterious sources are saying that Microsoft 'may show the successor to its Xbox 360 in June 2013 at the E3 conference and put it on sale that same year.' This would 'be a fast journey from announcement to launch,' says Peter Smith, 'but it'd mean we'd still get a new Xbox for holiday 2013, which is about the earliest anyone has expected it to arrive anyway.'"
Intrepid correspondent Timothy Lord writes, "I talked at SXSW with Kari Hale of League For Gamers, an organization started just a few months ago by Red 5 Studios founder CEO Mark Kern. (Kern was also team lead for World of Warcraft.) League for Gamers shares some of the goals of groups like the EFF and EPIC, but — as you might guess from the name — is tightly focused on the world of gaming. The group owes its existence to SOPA; the money used to start it up had initially been budgeted for Red 5 Studios' appearance at the most recent E3, but E3 sponsor's Entertainment Software Association's support for SOPA led Kern to withdraw from the show. Kari gave a quick rundown of the origins of the League, what it hopes to accomplish, and what sorts of efforts it's so far undertaken."
crookedvulture writes "Desktop and notebook users have been enjoying chips based on Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture for more than a year. Now, workstations and servers can get in on the action with the Xeon E5-2600 series. These Sandy Bridge-EP Xeons offer up to eight cores, 20MB of cache, and a truly staggering amount of I/O bandwidth. Unlike their consumer-grade counterparts, the new chips feature more advanced power management and the ability to deposit incoming data packets directly into the CPU's cache rather than going through main memory. They also plug into LGA2011 sockets, requiring an upgrade to the new Romley-EP platform. No fewer than 17 models are available, with prices falling between $200 and $2000 and TDPs ranging from 60-150W." The summary is slightly incorrect -- the Xeon E3 series has been out for the workstation market for quite a while (sporting graphics cores on the models ending in -XXX5 too).
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Forbes: "Nintendo started the mainstream push into glasses free (autostereoscopic) 3D gaming with its Nintendo 3DS system earlier this year. While sales were decent for the device, the price point, hardcore focus and lack of killer app games have failed to replicate the mainstream success of Nintendo DSi. But a strong E3 with top-tier 3D games ... should help attract a broader audience to the device, especially once Nintendo offers a price cut. While some have called 3D phones gimmicky, these devices are already commonplace in Asia. And with an influx of new 3D phones entering the market this year, coupled with the Nintendo 3DS, Jim Cameron recently [said] he sees these glasses-free devices as being key for the adoption of 3D TVs in the homes. He said autostereoscopic 3D games will be the entry level for most people to 3D. While the technology for big screen glasses free 3D is still further away, small devices like 3D phones and Nintendo 3DS will show off the technology."
In 2008 we discussed news of an MMO in an early phase of development that sought to merge two different forms of media: TV shows and video games. Now, reader querbeet points out that work on the game — Defiance — is much further along. Screenshots and an interview with a senior developer provide a clearer image of how such a project will work. "Both the game and the show take place in a near future, post-apocalyptic version of Earth. ... The game is centered in the remains of San Francisco, while the show will take place in St. Louis. 'They exist within the same universe,' Hill told Ars. 'And primarily where we're going to be different is the fact that things that happen in the game will occur in the show and things that happen in the show will occur in the game. From a global standpoint this could be a large political change, a big environmental change, and they'll happen simultaneously on both.' As an example, Hill said that a character from the show could leave for San Francisco, show up in the game and go on adventures with players, before returning to St. Louis to discuss everything that happened while they were in the game world."
jdkramar was one of several readers to write with news of the Wii U hardware information that's been trickling out since E3. The new console will run a multicore IBM processor based on 45nm architecture (technology currently underpinning Watson), and will have an AMD R700 GPU chipset found in the Radeon 4000 line of video cards. Apparently it will, in fact, run Crysis. Nintendo has confirmed that the Wii U will use a proprietary 25GB disc format, and won't support DVD or Blu-ray playback. A spokesman said, "The reason for that is that we feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray, such that it didn't warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies."
lordsilence writes "It seems LulzSec is now targeting CCP Games' Eve Online with a denial of service attack. The extent of this attack is yet not known but the game cluster and EVEOnline.com website are down at the writing of this post.. A possible reason for targeting CCP could be the affiliation with Sony. CCP recently announced during E3 that their upcoming game Dust514 would be Sony Playstation 3 exclusive."
jjp9999 writes "Notch announced that Minecraft 1.7 will include the long-awaited 'Adventure Update.' In an E3 roundup on his blog, Notch wrote, 'The idea with this update is to flesh out the game a bit, making it reward exploration and combat more.' Although he added, 'We're keeping the details secret so people can get surprises,' Notch wrote back on July 7, 2010 that Adventure Mode would be one of the three game modes in Minecraft (the other two being Survival and Creative), and would include a health bar and an inventory, but would remove the player's ability to place or destroy blocks. He said the value of this is that 'people can design "challenge maps" in creative or survival mode, then share them with people so that they can try to beat them in Adventure mode.' Interestingly, Notch also announced the release of the Minecraft source code to a small group of mod developers, in his latest blog post."
Gamespot spoke at length with id Software's John Carmack at E3 about upcoming FPS RAGE (which is now only a few months away from release), as well as his thoughts on the new console offerings revealed by Nintendo and Sony. He seems optimistic about the Wii U, and rather less so about the Vita. "But you know the technology level on [the Wii U] brings it up to parity with the other consoles, which is nice for us. Previously, the Wii was not a target. Id Tech 5 was just not suitable for the Wii at all. ... now that we're looking at another platform that is eminently suitable for the technology, I'm sure we're going to try and bring it up on there." On the other hand, Carmack and Tim Willits both expressed concerns about whether Nintendo users were the right demographic for id games. Of the Vita, he said, "I wouldn't want to be the executive making the decision to launch a new portable gaming machine in the post-smartphone world. I think that they've picked as eminently a suitable hardware spec as they could for that. ... But of course, by the time they actually ship, there may be smartphones or these tablets with twice as much power as what they're shipping with on there. And a year or two after that, it's going to look pretty pokey."
We discussed Sony's E3 announcement of the pricing and details of the Vita portable console (hands-on report), but they also made a stronger push into the 3D space, revealing a 24" display specifically designed for 3D gaming. Most notable about this display is that two players wearing 3D glasses can use it to view separate images on screen. This means that when playing with a friend, you need not sacrifice 50% of screen real estate to accommodate the other player. The Guardian has a good run-down of Sony's other E3 announcements.
_xeno_ writes "Nintendo has announced the official name for what had been known as 'Project Cafe:' the Wii U. It is an HD console, it retains backwards compatibility with the Wii (it's unclear if this includes GameCube software), and the controller does, in fact, have a touch screen on it. Nintendo demoed moving a game off the TV and playing it solely on the Wii U controller." Also in E3 news, cylonlover writes "At its E3 press conference Sony finally revealed that its next generation handheld — previously codenamed the NGP — will carry the official moniker of the 'PlayStation Vita.' The PS Vita — which is Latin for 'life' — will come in two flavors: a Wi-Fi only version priced at $249 in the US, JPY24,980 in Japan, and EUR249 in Europe, and a 3G/Wi-Fi version going for US$299, JPY29,980 and EUR299."