Deekit May Be the Brainstorming Tool You Need

source: deekit.com

If you’re someone who’s like me and is tired of spending money buying countless whiteboards for your projects, Deekit might be for you.

Deekit is an online tool designed for just about everyone from developers and engineers to students and freelance designers. The concept focuses almost exclusively on simplicity to allow you to work with your team on a virtual whiteboard and sketch out your ideas. It’s incredibly efficient with basic functions like drawing, image embedding, and text input, but it goes a bit further than that with pre-designed templates customized for business models, roadmaps, and brainstorming. For people like myself who love to stay up to date, it even has an activity log that shows what changes your team members have made.

The possibilities are limitless in what you can do with this sort of design technology and I think it’ll be a great help to my own design team considering how often we’re uploading images on our forums. The browser-based application was recently released into open Beta and you can try it out easily by going over to their website right here, so if you’re working in a team-based environment this tool could be quite useful for your everyday workflow. All you’ll need is a Facebook, Google, or Microsoft account and you’re ready to get started!

Do you think you could benefit from software like this? Know of similar software that others could use? Share in the comments below!

Virtual Reality Just Got an Upgrade

source: thevoid.com

If you thought the Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus were awesome, wait until you see the work being done with The Void.

The ambitious goal is slated to be “The Future of Entertainment”, only limited by the imagination. A bold claim, but a deeper look at what the project is proposing and you can quickly start to see that there might be some validity to it. Using proprietary ‘Rapture’ gear, The Void promises the most immersive hands-on experience with their gaming environment. The gear is pretty tech-heavy, featuring a headset with dual, curved OLED 1080p displays, high-quality THX headphones, and super-gain inline microphones as a base with otherwise mysterious ‘Quantum Dots’ and ‘Custom Optics’ features. The light-weight vest apparently features body tracking for their customized environment as well as four types of haptic feedback to provide the user the ability to feel everything that they can interact within the game. Combined with specialized gloves, the team promises “unprecedented level of immersion” with the ability to not only interact with in-game objects but actually see your hands through the virtual display.

The concept goes even further than that, however, with specialized ‘VOID Game Pods’ that provide physical changes to the experience including (but certainly not limited to) air temperature and moisture with simulated smells. Beyond that, they even have custom motion simulators that can seat two people for experiences like aerial dogfights and mech battles. This article only scratches the surface, so if you’re interested in seeing the crazy ambitious proposal that “The Void” offers, you can check it out at their main website right here. If you’re like me and just want to see the fancy bits, check out video just below!

Would you pay admission costs for a full-blown immersive game experience like this? Let us know in the comments below!

Soon You Can Get a Computer for Just $9

The first computer, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), weighed about twenty-seven tons and took up about 1,800 square feet of space.

Over on Kickstarter, Next Thing Co. is taking funding for a project called C.H.I.P which is tiny. Actually, tiny is an understatement because this fully functioning computer is smaller than a 3½-inch floppy disk. Skepticism abound on its capabilities but according to the project’s Kickstarter page the computer is slated to have a 1ghz processor, 512mb of memory, and 4gb of storage space which is pretty amazing considering its diminutive size. Beyond that, it actually has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities allowing you to attach a wireless keyboard and mouse. It’s also described as being compatible with any screen with output methods ranging from composite to HDMI and anything in between. The sad part is that it’s probably more powerful than my laptop!

Considering that just recently we had an article covering how Twitter cut support for MS-DOS gaming in embedded tweets, those of you who were disappointed by the news will be excited to know that C.H.I.P can also play MS-DOS games. It doesn’t stop there though as the device will come pre-installed with dozen of apps and allow you to get even more through an open source community.

To say the least, it’s impressive – if not remarkable – considering that you can get one just by funding the small sum of just $9 over on their Kickstarter page and expect to get it anywhere in the world by December. I personally spend more on that getting lunch on the daily!

Pizza Hut App Saves Hostage and Children

Emergent uses of technology spring up all the time but rarely in a way that is life-saving, such was the case for Florida woman named Cheryl Treadway.

According to a press release from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, May 4th, Treadway was being held against her will by her boyfriend, Ethan Earl Nickerson, in their home following arguments that had lasted throughout the day. Nickerson, armed with a knife, had forcibly taken Treadway’s cell phone prior to accompanying her to pick up the three children from school. When they returned to the residence Treadway managed to convince the man to allow her to use her cell phone to order a pizza and with the order she left comments reading, “Please help. Get 911 to me” and “911hostage help!”. Nickerson took the cell phone back shortly after but, with the order placed, employees at the restaurant quickly responded and the Sheriff’s Office was sent to investigate.

Nickerson was arrested and given an array of charges, all thanks to the quick thinking of Cheryl Treadway and the restaurant’s mobile app.  According to WFLA.com’s article covering the story, the parties involved seemed just as impressed as I am:

“We’ve never seen that before, I’ve been here 28 years and never, never seen nothing like that come through.” – Candy Hamilton, restaurant manager

Lieutenant Curtis Ludden was one of the first responders to the hazardous situation and seemed to echo the sentiment.

“I don’t know if I ever would have thought of it. I mean it’s just something that she did so naturally. The boyfriend never knew about it until he saw us coming around the corner,” Lieutenant Curtis Ludden, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office

I personally don’t think I would have been as clever as Cheryl Treadway. Have you ever used a mobile app to get out of a dire situation? Tell us in the comments below.

Could FutureMUD Revitalize Text-Based Gaming?

source: orcs.biz

FutureMUD has been something I, personally, have been excited about for years and to hear that the first working demonstration is coming makes me drool in anticipation!

MUDs, or Multi-User Domains, are primarily text-based real-time virtual worlds that are generally used for Role-Playing Games. The technology is certainly nothing new, having seen early origins in the late 1970’s, but they are still used today with a dedicated fan base of thousands of players. Many players who use MUDs consider them to be extremely expansive with the amount of freedom that you can do in a game which isn’t limited by graphical budget and taxing developer effort. Whereas modern games would require a developer to design an animation to illustrate your character to do something like leaning against a wall, if you want your character to lean against a wall in a MUD, you merely have to type it. The only real limitation in MUDs, due to the freedom of text, is your imagination.

As a previous developer of text-based games myself, I find that the ability to describe a world in infinite detail to be unparalleled even though I thoroughly enjoy the aesthetic and flow of most modern games. To be able to freely control a character, only limited by the game’s rules, is something that today’s video games simply cannot do. Text-based development does require a bit of knowledge in computer sciences, however, as you have to program certain tasks yourself in the eventuality that the engine (of which there are multiple choices) doesn’t have baseline coding support for what you’re wanting to accomplish.

FutureMUD, however, aims to appeal to the game developer in a way that reduces the ease of use by having customizable, modular design without going into the code. Another design philosophy that is listed in their Mission Statement as a primary goal is to have exceptional – if a little ambitious and optimistic – stability.

“To have stability and speed – a crash, if it occurred, should scare the hell out of the staff and players because it’s so unheard of.” – Japheth

FutureMUD’s development officially started with a dedicated forum back in 2014, but the talk of the project has been on-going since at least 2010. The developers are working toward a May 9th release of LabMUD, which will be the first testing iteration to demonstrate the capabilities of the engine. More importantly, it is a milestone leading up to a working Alpha release for developers to play with. As someone without much coding experience, this is something I’ve been wanting to see finally come to fruition in a MUD Engine. I would love to see many more developers and players alike in this old school style of gaming and I think the world is ready for it to happen.

Do you play text-based games? Have you ever been interested in them? Post in the comments below!

Kojima Productions Facebook Dead

According to an article on Design & Trend, the Kojima Productions Facebook page is official dead and gone, leaving only a grim reminder in the form of a Facebook display messaging reading “Facebook account migration announcement”. With the recent confirmation by Konami that the Silent Hills title had been cancelled with Kojima’s departure, Hideo Kojima’s fanbase is left to wonder what the future holds for the prominent Game Designer and any future projects he may have in store. To read more on the mysterious disappearance of the Kojima Productions Facebook page, you can read up on the Design & Trend article here.

Despite the unfortunate events pertaining to Kojima and the Silent Hills game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has been given a console release date of September 1st, 2015, as shown on the game’s main site within the Konami portal, and pre-orders have opened up. Although not available for pre-order yet, information on a Collector’s Edition has been released showing a splash of all of its contents and for $99.99 the deal seems almost too good to be true with the inclusion of a half-scale replica of Snake’s bionic arm!

While a PC release date has yet to appear, pre-orders for the console versions have rocketed up to fifth place in Global Units Sold in the USA with 134,000 units sold, according to this list on vgchartz.com. Considering the number of controversies surrounding the value of Ground Zeroes, Kojima leaving Konami, and prominent voice actor David Hayter’s lack of a role in the game, the metric seems quite optimistic. Gamers speak with their dollars and in this case, the money is on a successful addition to the franchise.

 

 

Survival Game Update Roundup

Last week brought a variety of changes to some of your favorite survival games and we’ve got a consolidated list of the major shake-ups right here on eTeknix.

DAY Z

To start off the list on a lighter note, Day Z released a status update on April 29th to highlight their work toward build 0.56 focusing on nixing major bugs. Day Z is an infamous, brutal survival game that made it’s origins as a modification for ARMA 2 years ago and has since exploded in popularity for its emergent, unrestricted gameplay experienced.

The 0.56 build is slated to include changes to how long-range optics are utilized on firearms, a new village store model placed across the map, refactoring police station locations, and some small changes to the Stary Sobor barn location. You can read all about it on the Status Report #29 page right here.

7 DAYS TO DIE

The same day, Seven Days to Die released Alpha Patch 11.4. 7 Days to Die is a zombie survival game that focuses more on realistic Minecraft-inspired sandbox elements with a few differences that shake up things like block physics, smooth geography, and dynamic day/night gameplay differences. Dogs, wasps, and other horrors also mix up the zombie survival experience in creative ways.

The patched that rolled out reverted default DirectX settings to DX9 following client problems with DX11. The meat of the patch was primarily network changes for better hosting and admin support by using both Unity and Steam in parallel for improved client connectivity to private servers. Windows dedicated servers now use their own registry keys so clients can expect to not have their resolution changed upon connection.

A few other improvements included some minor performance tweaks such as clearing chunk caches when all players disconnect as well as a handful of bug fixes. You can read a more in-depth list right here on their official page for Alpha 11.4.

THE FOREST

A day later, on April 30th, The Forest received an expectedly big update from their development team. The Forest is a game in which the player is forced into a forested region after surviving a plane crash and must utilize their necessary survival skills in creative ways to stay alive. Surviving The Forest is a bit more difficult, however, with the presence of native cannibals who are hell-bent on finding something to eat and you’re considered an exotic delicacy.

Last week build v0.17 was released with a focus on improving player control by reducing collision issues that have plagued players trying to navigate caves, a plethora of visual tweaks and optimizations for the newly released Unity 5 updates. Frequent players can expect to see a much more polished graphical experience as well as general movement (including swimming) upgrades. More details can be found on the update page right here on their official website.

RUST

Rust is a more traditional survival game in which you are thrown into the wilderness with only your wit and crafting know-how to survive. The game is somewhat like Day Z, only there aren’t any zombies and your primary threat is other players with animals contributed to the harsh experience.

Rust released a new build that included a new map called Hapis Island. Craig Pearson, a developer with Face Punch studios made an effort to remind players that, because the map is new, to expect bugs and issues.

“As this is only the first iteration, you can expect bugs, floating stuff, waterfalls that look like vertical rivers, and all that good stuff. Likewise, the layout of the land may change considerably as we refine it further with gameplay stuff in mind.” – Craig Pearson

The build mostly centralized around the new map but Dev Blog #58 highlighted a lot of changes that are upcoming for future releases from the entire team. Those future changes include (but certainly are not limited to) new world models for dropped items, displacement mapping for terrain shaders, animation revamps to humans and animals alike, a new SMG, and a water collection tank. Exciting news for the hardcore survival world of Rust. You can read a more in-depth list of the future changes with more pictures than you can shake a stick at right here.

Eve: Valkyrie Pre-Alpha Registration Ongoing

The world of virtual reality is ever-expanding and what better way than to have a Triple-A game, released by the Sci-Fi experts over at CCP Games, as a launch title for the Oculus Rift? Earlier this year CCP Games announced that the title was beginning registration for Pre-Alpha for Eve Online and Dust 514 players, the latter being somewhat of an unintentional joke as you can make a free Dust 514 account using your PSN account simply by going to dust514.com. That same pre-alpha registration for Valkyrie is still ongoing bearing in mind that the VR title is slated to require a powerhouse PC to be able to play, as mentioned in a previous article here at eTeknix and as stated by CCP Karuck on the Eve Valkyrie forums:

“We haven’t announced any minimum/recommended specs yet, but due to the incredibly heavy demands VR puts on a system (steady 90 fps at very high resolutions, stereo view) I can tell you the requirements will be higher than EVE’s :)” – CCP Karuck

What is known for certain is that the pre-alpha requires, at a minimum, an Oculus Rift DK2, and given the sheer quality of the gameplay video revealed at Eve Fanfest 2015, it’s no wonder that the game has the hardware requirements that it does, being a VR title.

While Eve: Valkyrie does not have an official release date (based on the Oculus Rift’s consumer version release date), you can still register for the pre-alpha if you have an active Eve Online or Dust 514 account, as well as an Oculus Rift DK2, by going to www.evevalkyrie.com/prealpha.

Twitter Cuts Support for MS-DOS Embedding

It’s always nice to be able to play retro games, if only for the nostalgia, and for a short-lived time you could do this through Twitter’s services by embedding MS-DOS games directly in a tweet from the internet archives. However, as revealed yesterday by VentureBeat, it seems that Twitter wasn’t privy to the emergent feature. Citing that it was a violation of Twitter dev rules, they specifically referred to what is and is not approved in the Player Cards segment:

“Do not build end-to-end interactive experiences inside the video or audio player unrelated to Player Card content, such as the following: purchasing, gaming, polling, messaging, and data entry. Instead, build these interactive experiences with our other Card types or enhance your Player Card content with links to your website or mobile application.”

Of course, there is a multitude of other ways that you can get the nostalgic experience by playing the games. Probably the most simple method is just by going to the archive in which they are held. Bearing in mind of course that it won’t be with the convenience of sharing it with your friends on Twitter, or playing it on your mobile device via the Twitter app. Do you still play MS-DOS games? Did you use Twitter to play MS-DOS games? Tell us in the comments below.

Game Developers Support Nepal Earthquake Relief Funding

It’s always heart-warming when gamers and developers come together to help out when catastrophe strikes.

Last week, on April 25th, a 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake hit Nepal with an aftershock of 6.6 and a second aftershock measuring 6.7 the next day. The death toll climbed to more than 6,800 people, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I am heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date, but I am also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches. So many people have lost everything,” – Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

In light of the recent events, a multitude of gaming companies have taken action to relief support and we all can support funding for the disaster. Eve Online developer CCP Games has initiated their ‘PLEX for Good’ drive, which raised $190,890 for the Typhoon in the Philippines during November 2013. PLEX cards are in-game items that can be purchased and used to add game-time to your account. CCP is offering two virtual in-game T-shirts for your Eve Online character for each PLEX donated to the cause.

Destiny has taken a more physical route by offering real-life T-Shirts, shipping in early June, for $24.99 with 100% of the profits going toward Nepal relief effort funding. Further more, they are offering an in-game shader and emblem code with every purchase of the aforementioned shirts.

Just as well, as reported by Crunchyroll.com, SEGA has already donated more than $16,800 to the Red Cross and for a limited time when gamers can make in-game purchases, SEGA will match the amount spent toward the relief funding. Games mentioned to be included in this drive are:

  • Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Puyo Puyo! Quest
  • Chain Chronicle
  • Hortensia Saga