Warren Spector: ‘I Really Haven’t Seen a Whole Lot of Progress’ in Mainstream Games

Warren Spector is a video game level designer who helped pioneer the concept of non-linear gameplay and the ability to cater to different styles. The most famous example is Deus Ex which gave the player the freedom to choose between stealth tactics or a more aggressive approach. Warren Spector also produced a huge range of iconic games including Ultima VI, Wing Commander, System Shock and more! In recent years, he worked on the Epic Mickey series which received fairly poor reviews. While the first game was pretty decent, its sequel was terrible, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Spector criticized the current mainstream gaming market and explained why he was returning to develop System Shock 3:

“I can’t believe I’m about to say this — I’ll never work in this industry again — but in the mainstream space I really haven’t seen a whole lot of progress. It seems like we’re getting more finely-tuned, prettier versions of games we’ve been playing for years.”

“What I want to do, is I see a variety of places where we could make some strides that would help take games to the next level. The biggest one, for me, is more robust characters and character AI. We’ve gotten very good at combat AI, we’ve made great strides there, but I don’t think we’ve done much in the world of non-combat AI and interacting with people — human or otherwise. We haven’t done a lot with conversation, and establishing emotional relationships with characters in games. So I’d very much like to play with that,”

“So I’ve done the big-budget, huge team thing, and at this point what I’d like to do is smaller, lower-budget, almost like “games as a service” model games that require somewhere between 10-20 people to make. I don’t want to get much bigger than that,”

“I don’t want to get so far away from the game that I have to spend all my time running an enormous studio and dealing with publishers. I want to be in the thick of it, so smaller teams is part of the deal.”

Some might argue modern games opt for sequels based on previous success due the cost of development. Although, there does seem to be a lack of innovation right now. Do you think Warren Spector has a point?

Unity Vision Summit Attendees Receive Free HTC Vive

Virtual Reality is commonly perceived as the next step in entertainment and could revolutionize the way we all watch films, and play video games. Not only that, VR devices could theoretically be deployed in the medical profession to help diagnose patients from remote locations or instruct junior doctors how to perform certain examinations. As you can see, the Virtual Reality craze is certainly going to be around for some time, and I cannot wait to see the kind of software implementations across various industries. Of course, there are already a huge selection of headsets being finalized including the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive. 2016 should be the year when VR becomes mainstream and consumers can finally see what the fuss is all about!

During the Unity Vision Summit, founder of Valve, Gabe Newell made a brief appearance on video and announced that all attendees would receive a free HTC Vive. This rightfully made the crowd very excited and they applauded Valve for their kind gesture. It’s a very clever move on Valve’s part because it gives developers access to the HTC Vive and allows them to understand the possibilities of the device. As a result, there should be more VR focussed games which offer a truly unique experience. VR hardware isn’t going to appeal to the core gaming audience unless there’s a killer application. Perhaps, Valve is hoping one of the developers in attendance today is going to help showcase the benefits of VR technology.

In all honesty, I cannot wait for VR to become mainstream and believe it could revolutionize immersion in a way never thought possible. However, it’s important to keep the devices at a reasonable cost, because many users will perceive it as a very expensive accessory. Whatever the case, VR is here to stay, and this year should really show us what its capable of.

52% of Developers Are Working on a PC Game

Consumers tend to be quite vocal about their chosen platform and demonstrate a great deal of brand loyalty. It makes sense though as investing into one platform and swapping to another is a costly endeavour. During the last few years, developers have gauged the popularity of each system, to try to maximize sales. While consoles are still selling extraordinarily well, it’s difficult to dismiss the rise of mobile gaming and PC. According to the Game Developer’s Conference State of the Industry Report, 52% of developers are currently making a PC game.  This is a slight drop from last year’s figure of 56%, but doesn’t really indicate a noticeable shift towards other platforms. In second place was mobile, with 44% of those surveyed outlining their mobile development plans. In a similar vein to PC, this is a drop of 6% from last year.

Rather unsurprisingly, the PlayStation 4 attained third position with 27%, while the Xbox One managed to achieve a very respectable 23%. Towards the lower end of the spectrum, Nintendo’s Wii U only has 5% of developers creating something for the platform. This is shocking and emphasizes how quickly support is dwindling for the Wii U. Furthermore, only 2% of developers are working on 3DS titles, which is down from 3% last year.  Clearly, Nintendo is still relying on their exclusive line-up and developers might be working on launch games for the upcoming NX console.

It’s great to see the PC platform having so much support from developers and this isn’t surprising due to the open access model. While digital distribution is still fairly new on consoles, it’s incredibly popular among PC consumers. This provides lower development costs, and there’s greater competition via Steam, GOG and other services. Although, Steam really does have a monopoly on the mainstream market. Hopefully, this trend continues and developers produce a whole host of unique titles on the PC platform.


AMD Launches GPUOpen Sofware Development Package

AMD’s open source philosophy deserves a great deal of credit especially when you consider the competition utilizes proprietary features as demonstrated by NVIDIA Gameworks. During CES 2016, I had the pleasure of playing Star Wars Battlefront on AMD’s upcoming Polaris architecture. This open ideology is very impressive and showcases that AMD’s future chips are fully functional ahead of their launch. In contrast to this, details about Pascal are almost non-existent barring a few marketing photographs. Today, AMD released a huge blog post about their latest initiative entitled, GPUOpen. Here is a detailed run-down of the project in AMD’s words:

“GPUOpen is composed of two areas: Games & CGI for game graphics and content creation (which is the area I am involved with), and Professional Compute for high-performance GPU computing in professional applications.

GPUOpen is based on three principles:

The first is to provide code and documentation allowing PC developers to exert more control on the GPU. Current and upcoming GCN architectures (such as Polaris) include many features not exposed today in PC graphics APIs, and GPUOpen aims to empower developers with ways to leverage some of those features. In addition to generating quality or performance advantages such access will also enable easier porting from current-generation consoles (XBox One and PlayStation 4) to the PC platform.

The second is a commitment to open source software. The game and graphics development community is an active hub of enthusiastic individuals who believe in the value of sharing knowledge. Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games.

The third is a collaborative engagement with the developer community. GPUOpen software is hosted on public source code repositories such as GitHub as a way to enable sharing and collaboration. Engineers from different functions will also regularly write blog posts about various GPU-related topics, game technologies or industry news.”

This is fantastic news for developers and assists the optimization process through open source tools. In theory, the GPUOpen model allows developers free reign to properly understand the hardware and code in a much more efficient manner. Time will tell how popular this endeavour is, but it looks like a really good idea to build a strong relationship between developers and AMD users.

UK Market Gaming Stats Revealed For 2015

The games industry is the same as any other market when it comes to analysing the performance of titles, consoles and revenue with the aim of finding trends in consumer preferences and company performance. GfK Entertainment has made a wide range of information available concerning the shape of the UK gaming scene in 2015 via trade paper MCV, the results are quite interesting and I have conveyed a snapshot below,

First up is the total revenue for 2015, as you can see below it shows there has been a slight decrease in all categories except that of gaming accessories, which have seen a rise in overall revenue.

  • 2015 total revenue – £2,112,750,781   (2014: £2.3bn)
  • Entertainment Software – £927,663,843 (2014: £948 Million)
  • Console Hardware – £689,473,076 (2014: £915 Million)
  • Gaming Accessories – £495,613,862 (2014: £431 Million)

Next up is the software market percentage share by console (units) stats, these convey a picture of the PS4 dominating the UK scene with a market share of 36.3%, Microsoft’s Xbox One is second while the ageing last gen Xbox 360 is third, not surprisingly, the PlayStation Vita does not fare as well.

  1. PlayStation 4 – 36.3%
  2. Microsoft Xbox One – 29.7%
  3. Microsoft Xbox 360 – 12.5%
  4. PlayStation 3 – 7.1%
  5. Nintendo 3DS – 4.8%
  6. PC – 3.6%
  7. Nintendo Wii U – 3.5%
  8. Nintendo Wii – 1.0%
  9. Nintendo DS – 0.7%
  10. PlayStation Vita – 0.7%
  11. Others – 0.1%

Next is the software market share by console (Revenue). As you can see, the PlayStation 4 is again the winner with a substantial slice of 41.6%, second is again not surprisingly the Xbox One followed by the Xbox 360 in third.

  1. PlayStation 4 – 41.6%
  2. Microsoft Xbox One – 34.1%
  3. Microsoft Xbox 360 – 9.0%
  4. PlayStation 3 – 4.9%
  5. Nintendo 3DS – 3.7%
  6. Nintendo Wii U – 3.2%
  7. PC – 2.3%
  8. Nintendo Wii – 0.5%
  9. PlayStation Vita – 0.4%
  10. Nintendo DS – 0.2%
  11. Others – 0.1%

Next up is the software market share by publisher (revenue) top 10, as you can see Electronic Arts (EA) is not far off having twice the market share from second place; Activision Blizzard.

  1. Electronic Arts – 23.3%
  2. Activision Blizzard – 14.0%
  3. Warner Bros – 9.9%
  4. Take – Two 7.4%
  5. Bethesda – 7.1%
  6. Ubisoft – 6.7%
  7. Nintendo – 5.7%
  8. Microsoft – 5.2%
  9. Sony Computer Entertainment – 4.9%
  10. Bandai Namco Entertainment – 3.5%

Next up is a combined look at the top-selling games for all formats within 2015, this shows that FIFA 16 is the number one selling title on the PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360. This is what you would expect when you consider the release date of this title compared to that of say Fallout 4. It makes me chuckle to think that the highest selling game in terms of units for the PC is The Sims 4 followed by Football Manager 2016 and 2015.

Last up is the top 20 physical games of 2015 for all formats, the list is 50, but, I did not want to go on forever.

  1.  FIFA 16 (EA)
    2.  Call Of Duty: Black Ops III (Activision Blizzard)
    3.  Fallout 4 (Bethesda)
    4.  Star Wars: Battlefront (EA)
    5.  Grand Theft Auto V (Take-Two)
    6.  Batman: Arkham Knight (Warner Bros.)
    7.  FIFA 15 (EA)
    8.  Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision Blizzard)
    9.  Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (Ubisoft)
    10. Lego Jurassic World (Warner Bros.)
    11. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Bandai Namco)
    12. Battlefield Hardline (EA)
    13. Minecraft: Xbox 360 and Xbox One Edition (Microsoft)
    14. Minecraft: Story Mode (Telltale Games)
    15. Halo 5: Guardians (Microsoft)
    16. Minecraft: PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita Edition (Sony)
    17. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Konami)
    18. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (Sony)
    19. Dying Light (Warner Bros.)
    20. The Elder Scrolls Online (Bethesda)

Incredible Deep Sea Wonderland Constructed In Minecraft

Looking at this is satisfying, incredible and fantastically creative, oh right, need to explain it first. You know the game building phenomenon that is Minecraft, where players have the freedom to create epic structures’ and worlds, well a team of nine expert players have constructed a “deep sea” world which is in a league of its own.

Check out the images of this stunning world! As you can see, the first image is what looks to be an open undersea world, it reminds me of an environment akin to Bioshock where it is possible to roam the landscape.  The colours are vibrant, exciting and helps to draw your eye with the aim to immerse yourself in the world.

This image below does remind me of a lit city at night, the intricate detail looks as if a major gaming studio has published this as a standalone title.  The creators explained that ” the concept behind this project was exploring the parallels of Deep Space and Deep Sea, although Space is considered as mankind’s final frontier, even today much of the deep ocean is a mystery to us and host to creatures just as alien as those we might imagine on other planets.”

This is compelling as it allows the designers to create a world which lies in the imagination instead of being restricted by known facts. A mind can be polluted by the notion of reality, if we don’t know what lies within many of the deepest parts of the ocean, it allows the free range to design.

This image looks like Coral you would find at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, yes I know, tangent time, whoever’s idea it was to initially allow dumping of waste into this magnificent part of the world needs to be constructively fired from a cannon.

Last image and this one below reminds me of Tetris, don’t know why but it does, it looks as if coral from thousands of years has built up to form this underwater world.  This creation should be a wake up call to lazy but professional developers, if nine people can create this, why are there not more original concepts instead of the generic war and sport simulators.

If you like this project and would enjoy seeing it in action, then you can by downloading the project links on Planet Minecraft. Creativity at its best, there you go David Cameron, teach this to children instead of the generic, the Internet is evil and bad for you.

2K Australia, Developer of BioShock and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, Closes

Canberra-based 2K Australia, the studio responsible for developing the three BioShock games and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, is closing, a source has told Kotaku Australia. The source told the gaming website that “All hands are gone,” referring to the termination of every position at the company.

2K Australia, founded in 2000 as Irrational Canberra but absorbed by 2K in 2007, was focused on developing new intellectual properties and co-develop games with its 2K sister studios. The studio’s closure is blamed on high operating costs within the Australian territory. 2K Australia was the country’s last remaining AAA developer.

Kotaku’s source added that a move to Melbourne was considered, in an effort to save the studio and attract new developers, but many high-level members of the 2K team rebelled against the idea, leading to the decision to close the studio entirely.

2K later confirmed the closure with the following statement:

“We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process for 2K Australia in order to better manage ongoing development costs while improving the working proximity of our creative teams. We are very grateful for the team’s valuable contributions to numerous 2K projects, and are working with affected staff to explore reassignment opportunities where possible.”

Thank you Kotaku Australia for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Want to Play with Apple Watch Apps Before April? Now You Can

Everyone is raving over the Apple Watch, with immense anticipation building before its release. However, there are very few people that have even seen one, let alone used one of the elusive devices. So what if you wanted to give it a try before pre-ordering?

A new page on the WatchAware site showcases a selection of apps that are currently being developed for the watch. It allows you to click on their icons and gives you the opportunity to imagine what it would be like to use them. But perhaps more interestingly, it gives us a chance to see how some of the features work. Particularly of interest are ‘Glances’, which give you information quickly, and ‘Actionable Notifications’ which work more like notifications on your phone.

The sheer creativity of Apple Watch developers is already evident, just take a look at the one we’ve included with this article. Soon you’ll be able to discreetly make fart noises with your wrist! How innovative is that!

Source: MacRumors 

Google Developing new Chromebook Pixel

Google’s Chromebook equivalent of the Nexus phones, the Pixel, is apparently due to for an update. The ‘showcase’ device designed to show off the potential of the Chrome OS, was first introduced over two years ago. Well, now a Google employee let it slip that a new one is on the way.

Speaking at the TeamWork 2015 partner event, Google’s head of Android and Chrome programs for work and education, Renee Niemi, said that a new model is coming, something recorded and uploaded to YouTube. However, Google has since taken down that particular video, suggesting that they don’t want us to know about it yet. Fortunately, OMG Chrome transcribed the portion in which Niemi made the revelation.

“We do have a new Pixel coming out and it will be coming out soon. We will be selling it but I just have to set your expectations: this is a development platform. This is really a proof of concept. We don’t make very many of these — we really don’t. And […] our developers and our Googlers consume 85% of what we produce. But yes, we do have a new Pixel coming out.”

This suggests that Google won’t be deviating from its original plans for the Pixel – that it is a limited and expensive device, and that its sole purpose is to demonstrate the capabilities of the Chrome OS to developers.

Source: OMG Chrome Via: The Verge

iOS 9 to Focus on Stability, Public Beta to Come in the Summer

9to5Mac, the venerable source for Apple rumours, has said that iOS 9 will be heavily focused on stability and performance improvements. To achieve this, Apple will apparently have the first ever public beta for iOS. To date, the company has only issued betas to members of its $99 developer programme, but they will soon be freely available to consumers.

Prior to last year, Apple had rarely given the public access to beta software, but changed that when it opened a testing programme for OS X Mavericks updates and later a beta for the then-upcoming OS X Yosemite. At the time, many saw it as an example of things to come, suggesting that such a programme may come to iOS in the near future. 9to5Mac now says that the iOS programme will begin in mid-March, giving the public the chance to try out a beta of iOS 8.3. Then, following the announcement of iOS 9 in June, that programme will be extended to the new version of iOS.

It’s said that iOS 9 will be heavily focused upon improving the stability of the operating system, rather than the addition of any new major features. This comes after complaints regarding the last release of iOS being less stable than its predecessor. A number of minor bugs have been encountered by some users – something rare for the usually highly stable iOS.

Source: 9to5Mac

First Apple Watch Apps Demoed

With the Apple Watch rapidly approaching, we’re beginning to see a number of Apple Watch apps being demoed by various developers. While many of the major developers are keeping many of their plans under a shroud of secrecy, one developer, Todoist, makers of the popular to-do app of the same name, gave screenshots and video of their under-development app to MacRumors

Their work offers an interesting insight into life with an Apple Watch.

“Once inside the main Todoist app, the user can access their Inbox, Projects (and full task lists within each project), Labels, Filters, and a ‘Today’ view showing all tasks for the day, as well as overdue tasks. When you tap on a task to get the detailed view, you will be able to see the task’s associated labels, its due date, its priority level, and you will be able to either “complete” or “postpone” the task directly from the watch. If you don’t want to complete or postpone the task, you use the watch’s microphone to explicitly assign a time/date to the task (this feature is still in development).”

Apple released the first SDK for the device a few months ago, but was limited in giving us non-developers any idea as to how the device would function. Well now, thanks to this video and the efforts of developers like Todoist, we can start to get a feel for it. There is no doubt however, the real verdict will only be made once we’ve had one on our wrist.

Source: MacRumors


PS4 and Vita To Go on Sale in China

From 11th January, the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita will finally go on sale in China.

The news is significant as they are some of the first Western consoles to go on sale in China, following the lifting of a ban on them in January this year. For years Chinese console gamers had to put up with dodgy imports and poor locally made consoles. The only other thing they had was Nintendo’s iQue console – a bizarre controller that plugged into a TV and played N64 games from 15 years ago.

The PS4 will sell at at $468 (2,899 RMB) and the PS Vita at $210 (1,299 RMB). As another first for China, the consoles will be heavily supported by developers, with 70 developers and publishers already on board.

Source: Reuters Via: The Next Web

iOS 8.2 Beta 2 Now Available

iOS 8.2 Beta 2 has been released to beta testers.

The update, which should be available to testers now, arrived just a day after the release of iOS 8.1.2 to the public. That just brought some bug fixes, but it’s believed iOS 8.2 will bring a whole lot more. Rumours suggest that this will be the version to include support for the long-awaited Apple Watch, due out early next year. This is probably true considering 8.2 includes support for Apple’s WatchKit. This is the SDK released to developers just a few weeks ago, and allows them to build apps for the device.

Although, Apple has yet given them full access to the hardware, only giving them access to the features which allow interactivity between the iPhone and the watch. It’s not yet known when Apple will give full access, but it’s generally believed that this will be early next year – when developers can finally have access to the hardware itself.

Source: MacRumors

Apple Replaces ‘FREE’ with ‘GET’ on the App Store

Apple has suddenly started replacing ‘FREE’ with ‘GET’ for freely downloadable apps on their iOS App Store.

When you go to download a free app now on an iOS device, you’ll be greeted with the new term on the download button. It appears that this change may have most likely been implemented to avoid issues with in-app purchases, hopefully making things more clear when an app says it is free, but isn’t really free to use. This decision may not have been a choice anyway, as The Loop points out how the European Commission asked both Google and Apple to make changes to the way they market apps with in-app purchases this July. This followed the great deal of stories that revealed how kids often mistakenly ended up spending hundreds and sometimes thousands on in-app purchases.

What do you think? Are in app-purchases a good way of staggering the price of a game or app, while helping the developer make money, or do you think they are a sneaky way to get people into handing over their hard earned cash?

Source: The Loop

Developers: Apple Releases WatchKit SDK

Developers! This is your chance to jump on the bandwagon before everybody else has even noticed its arrival.

If you have absolutely no idea what I’m rambling on about, well let’s just say that Apple has finally introduced the WatchKit SDK to iOS developers, allowing them come up with apps for the new device due out next year.

We can expect to see thousands of developers unleashing their creativity upon the new device, with many who did so for the iPhone and the iPad creating multibillion dollar businesses in the process. This sort of opportunity, where developers essentially receive a new, untapped market, only comes around every 5 or 6 years.

So head on over to developer.apple.com/watchkit to get everything you need to get started.

For the rest of us none developers, the new documentation has slowly been revealing some interesting tidbits about the Apple Watch, such as the fact we now know the two resolutions of the different watch sizes – 272×340 and 312×390, that’s a very high ‘Retina’ pixel density.

Source: 9to5Mac

New Report Suggests Google Glass is Losing Support

Reuters reports that Google Glass, Google’s foray into wearables, is apparently losing the interest of developers, customers and even Google itself.

Google revealed its Glass wearable device in 2012 as a prototype that was to eventually become a consumer product, using its optical head-mounted display to project images before the user’s eyes, with functions akin to a smartphone. It was positioned as a very real attempt at ubiquitous computing, the idea that computer functions are everywhere and ubiquitous to everyday life, but as Reuters  reports, this vision appears to be losing pace.

The report points to the fact that Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin was recently seen not wearing the device, perhaps summarising the company’s attitude to it. Although, he apparently said that this was due to him leaving it in the car.

They do highlight however that developers have reportedly started to lose interest in Glass. A number of large developers have decided to no longer build apps for the wearable, citing there being a lack of a market.

If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There’s no market at this point,” said Tom Frencel, the Chief Executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook Inc-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift.”

The report goes on to discuss how the device has been seen on eBay, apparently for half the $1,500 price of the “Explorer Edition”. Searching for Glass on eBay reveals a number of “Explorers” willing to part with their device, with most of them selling or receiving bids at prices lower than their original price tag. This example is selling at $500 less, with another starting at $700. In total there were 158 results for Google Glass at time of writing.

The presence of the device on eBay suggests that it may not have boded well with the few consumers using the device, possibly due to its “nerdy” appearance, as described in the report.

After further delaying the release of Glass, the report considers whether Google will ever widely release Glass to consumers, as it remains to be seen whether it would be a successful consumer product.

Source: Reuters

Developers: You Can Now Use Amazon Cloud Drive in Your Apps

Amazon has announced that they are releasing an API for app developers that wish to use their Cloud Drive service in their apps.

This new API will give developers access to the same storage services as business that use company’s Amazon Web Services product. This will be particularly useful to developers that need a significant amount of storage for their app, saving them the complexity and perhaps more importantly the added cost of setting up their own backend servers.

Apple announced at their World Wide Developers Conference this summer a similar API only for iOS Developers, giving them up to 1 Petabyte of backend storage.

Source: Amazon

Google Fixes Android Wear Bug Preventing Paid Apps From Being Installed on Wearables

Google has posted an update on its Android Developer blog to help developers ensure their paid apps work on Android Wear-powered smartwatches.

Since developers are still becoming more familiar with wearables, standalone Wear apps aren’t available yet – and because Wear app installation is “very codependent” – paid apps feature App Encryption. Downloaded paid apps are given device-specific keys, so they become more difficult for hackers to break through; however, the encryption keys reportedly didn’t reach the watch.

The entire situation was rather confusing, because malfunctioning paid apps likely shouldn’t have taken place at all – but there are only a small number of paid Wear apps right now, so only impacted a small number.

Before Google scrambled to release a fix, the only way to install to smartwatches was to not charge for paid apps, so the encryption security from the Play Store doesn’t interfere.

The smartwatch market is expected to boom over the next few years, with Google prepared to use its popular Android OS to try to capture immediate dominance.  However, developer support will need to expand rapidly to meet potential interest from third-party app creators trying to cash in.

Thank you to Android Police for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of The Next Web

HummingBoard – An Alternative to the Raspberry Pi Now Available

There is no arguing the fact that the Raspberry Pi has revolutionised the technology world giving a simple platform on which users have been able to create their own bespoke systems, mini server farms and dev kits, along with the tools for students to learn basic programming techniques with real world results in the classroom. The unique world that the Pi has lived in is coming to a close however, as a rival product known as the HummingBoard has come to market, offering up a faster and more flexible platform on which users can develop and build small Linux-based systems.

Available in three different specifications, the HummingBoard-i1, -i2 and -i2ex systems offer up a selection of processors ranging from a single core ARM A9 running at 1GHz with 512MB RAM, through to a dual-core A9 running at up to 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM. Additionally the top end model features Gigabit LAN, GC2000 graphics (with the lower two models featuring 1/100 LAN and GC880 GPU’s), two powered USB2.0 ports, HDMI output, mSATA and mPCIe (on the top end model only) and most importantly, its dimensions allow it to fit into the same chassis that are intended for the Raspberry Pi.

The far greater specifications will certainly open up a whole new world of opportunities for the HummingBoard, with the number of deployment options only limited by the minds of their users and with prices starting at around $45 for the single core entry-level board, ranging up to around $100 for the top end option with a power adaptor costing $10, it is certainly going to be a well fought battle for the ageing Pi,

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/e_q6f2g5J0g[/youtube]

Source: Fudzilla

AMD Attacks Nvidia’s Gameworks, Claims Secret Contracts Are Anti-AMD

AMD’s Graphics Executive Richard Huddy is a well respected figure in the industry. Huddy has worked for ATI, AMD, Nvidia, Intel and is now back at AMD. He is also considered one of the pioneers of the DirectX API so it’s fair to say that his opinion matters. Huddy had some pretty critical things to say about Nvidia’s Gameworks program, claiming that Nvidia are using exclusivity contracts with game developers, hidden by NDAs, to disadvantage AMD. Furthermore, he claims he has evidence from various independent software vendors that those NDA-bound contracts are the reason why many game developers, particularly those in the Gameworks program, cannot work with AMD to optimise the game engines for AMD hardware. The most recent example of this is obviously the whole saga of AMD graphics cards running WatchDogs poorly.

Huddy thinks Gameworks is bad news for the industry because it is closed source, game developers receive code from Nvidia in a pre-compiled DLL forms whereas with Mantle the entire code is open source for game developers. Huddy claims the idea of using pre-compiled DLLs is a foreign idea to the games industry and is significantly more inefficient than allowing game developers build what they want from the ground up with the source code of an API. The heart of the concern is that Nvidia-written DLLs are being used for games that consumers with AMD graphics cards will play, as well as games that review sites will use to benchmark AMD hardware. All in all Nvidia’s Gameworks program is accused of locking down and fragmenting the gaming industry. It would be interesting to hear Nvidia go on record and rebut some of AMD’s claims.

What are your opinions on Nvidia Gameworks?

Source: MaximumPC

Image courtesy of Nvidia

Amazon Offers Developers Money in Exchange For Mobile Apps on Fire Phone

Amazon wants to entice developers to create mobile apps for the recently introduced Amazon Fire Phone, providing up to $5,000 USD (£2,938) in virtual currency. The popular etailer will also include up to $500 in Amazon Web Services credits for interested app developers.

Each interested app developer can receive Amazon Coins for up to three apps, and owners can purchase apps, games, app technologies or shop on the traditional Amazon store.

The Amazon app store, which has around 154,000 apps that will run on the custom-Android “Fire OS” designed for its smartphone. Many popular apps already are released for iOS and Android, so including Fire OS support might be initially difficult to implement at first.

Apple, Google and Microsoft are locked in fierce competition to woo developers to create apps for their respective platforms – and Amazon wants to make sure designers don’t forget about its inaugural smartphone. Some early reports indicate consumers are interested in the Fire Phone, while others are hesitant to leave behind their Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones.

Thank you Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Xbox One Update Brings More GPU Bandwidth and Better Performance Ratios

The Microsoft Xbox One update released this week is said to bring features such as extended hard drive support, Twitter, HBO Go and other social media applications, along with other significant tweaks and updates. According to a tweet from Microsoft’s executive, Phil Spencer, the new Xbox One update surprisingly brings more GPU bandwidth to the Xbox One along with additional features aimed at developers as well.

The continuous dispute between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One performance since their launch last year has not affected Microsoft is any way, having the company telling developers to make the most of its performance. With this performance boost, which is about a 10% increase, Microsoft is apparently giving developers the ability to “choose how they want to utilize the extra GPU performance”.

A statement from a Microsoft representative however might shed some light on how the performance boost is achieved, reading that the update “will include new options for how developers can use the system reserve as well as more flexibility in our natural user interface reserve (voice and gesture).” This might point to the fact that developers should deliberately stop using Kinect and gesture technology in order to further boost game performance.

Whether the boost is achieved by slicing Kinect features or just by improving the drivers, Xbox One users will be happy either way with the performance boost.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information

Mobile Game Dev Millionaires feel…Guilty?

The New Yorker released an article about the “pressures” that game developers can incur making millions of dollars on cheap games.

Taken from the article is the following quote from Rami Ishmail, a game dev from the Netherlands that developed Ridiculous Fishing which is available on iOS:

Ever since I was a kid I’ve watched my mom wake up at six in the morning, work all day, come home, make my brother and me dinner—maybe shout at me for too much ‘computering,’ ” he said. “My first thought that day was that while I was asleep I’d made more money than she had all year. And I’d done it with a mobile-phone game about shooting fish with a machine gun.

Would you feel guilty? Or would you be pulling off a Scrooge McDuck and swim in all your cash? Tell us what you think.

Thanks to The New Yorker for this interesting piece.


Windows Phone 8.1 SDK Starts Shipping To Select Developers

While Windows Phone 8.1 comes closer to being officially announced in April, developers are acknowledging they are receiving invitations from Microsoft to try out the Windows Phone 8.1 Development Kit (SDK) to start planning and building application based on the new Windows-based operating system.

Microsoft has been criticized in the past for keeping its SKD secret from developers and they haven’t officially acknowledged Windows Phone 8.1 yet either. The Verge have been able to talk via a Skype conference with Microsoft officials, stating that ‘select partners’ are starting to receive the WP 8.1 SDK and they plan to fully detail the product at the Build developer conference in April.

Reports say that Microsoft is not planning to discuss WP 8.1 until the Build conference, though they are said to be planning a conference about it on February 28th in London, where business customers will be presented with roadmap updates and technical briefing. Microsoft is said that built-in enterprise feature packs will be available in the new OS, including a VPN feature.

There have been leaked images of the new Windows Phone 8.1 Notification Center, which does look quite useful and nice, but we have to see it in action before an opinion can be given to the new feature. Aside from the notification center, Microsoft is said to add additional features alongside some major API changes, along with a voice-based “Cortana” personal assistant will ship with Windows Phone 8.1, improvements to volume controls, a feature to mirror Windows Phone screens to TVs or monitors, and access to quick settings from the new Action Center.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Hitman 6 Rumored To Be In Development By IO Interactive

There have been some rumors of the next Hitman title, only known as “Hitman 6” at the moment, was dropped from Square Enix Montreal. However, we now learn that it has been pushed back to IO Interactive and not scraped as most of us thought. It is said to be in development for next-gen consoles (Xbox One and PS4) as well as PC.

In what has been uncovered, we learn that the main character, Agent 47, will return to perform missions for the ICA, working closely with his handler Diana Burnwood. Compared to Hitman: Absolution, Hitman 6 is said to have mission all around the world and not just in the US. The Glacier 2 game engine will be used to develop the title, the same as in Absolution, but is rumored not to be a revamp of the old Absolution, but come with larger and detail oriented levels instead.

What is interesting about this title is that developers are planning to get rid of the unnaturally “large pockets” as in previous titles, and focus on a more tactical approach. This means that the user will be limited to a number of gadgets and weapons to carry, having the player choose his type of approach and how to handle the situation given the limited amount of items he can carry.

Contracts mode has also been rumored to resurface in Hitman 6 due to the outstanding number of players which gave positive feedback on the gaming mode in question, and hopefully with some improvements and upgrades. A release date has not yet been uncovered, however IO Interactive stated it will release more detailed information about the title soon.

Most Chinese Gamers Are Still Playing On PCs

A report points out that most Chinese gamers still play on PC and not consoles or mobile devices as most gamers all around the world do. China’s video game industry is worth around $13 billion, which represents a 40% increase over the past 12 months.

Breaking the figures down, we see that 64% of the total, $8.7 billion in revenue, was made through client-based PC games, taking up the majority of the gaming market. Aside from PC games, browser games also gained a fairly large amount, namely $2 billion, followed by mobile games with $1.8 billion, and on last place we see social games, with less than $1 billion in revenue. Though the mobile games industry is fairly small, a lot of focus has been placed on it, and investments are being made in developing mobile games.

Companies that received a considerable amount of money to expand its mobile development includes Tencent (for WeChat), Chukong, and Yodo1. But developers are still struggling to figure how to distribute and monetize mobile games, while more than 500 million iOS and Android devices roam the streets of China, and the number is expected to increase to 800 million this year. The top-grossing Android games on the market are reported to generate between $5 million to $10 million each month.

Many developers are focusing on HTML5 for mobile games due to it being supported on all mobile operating systems, and therefore grasping a wider audience. But although the list of top developers in China is still dominated by foreign companies such as Electronic Arts, Gameloft and Glu, Chinese developers are catching up, having a 30% (or $7.8 billion in revenue) increase each year.

Thank you Techcrunch for providing us with this information

Latest iOS 7 Jailbreak Release To Lack Cydia, Has TaiG Chinese Alternative Instead

Following the release of Evad3rs’ new iOS 7 jailbreak for all iOS 7.x versions including 7.0.4, we now hear that it is not as expected. Meaning, the jailbreak posted on Evasi0n does not include a Cydia build in the jailbreak software, but a chinese alternative instead.

@saurik posted a series of tweets not long after the release informing us that he had no clue of the release, yet alone an early access to embed the official Cydia build in the jailbreak, pointing out that Mobile Substrate is bound to have issues. His presumptions were right as Mobile Substrate tweaks were not allowed to work “out of the box”.

The Evad3rs team quickly replied through @pod2g , one of the member’s account, stating that there will be a release soon with the Mobile Substrate issues fixed.

After the release, users reported that the Cydia build was missing from the jailbreak, and instead they were greeted with a Chinese alternative named TaiG.. Rumors has it that Evad3rs were paid off to include the Chinese build in the jailbreak release, and afterwards a recording followed by a letter to the community were revealed. However, Evad3rs state that they approved of it being bundled under two conditions: one is for Cydia to also be bundled in, and the other is for TaiG. to have a remove option.

Something else to add to the pile here is that TaiG has examples of piracy content in it as @saurik also mentioned. Not looking so good or ‘legitimate’, however Evad3rs’ letter also mentions that if TaiG does not resolve its piracy content, it will be removed from the jailbreak. On the other side of the barricade, @saurik agreed to work on a separate jailbreak with a goal of finding a jailbreak solution which didn’t include a “piracy-laden” bundled app. He also expresses frustration at the rushed launch, and mentions he handed an iOS 7 compatible version of Mobile Substrate out September 30th.

From a developer part of view, the whole debate gravitates around two main faults. The first is the lack of information about the TaiG app, it is installed without the user’s knowledge if the computer’s language is set to Chinese, and the other is that developers of major tweaks and Cydia itself were not given early access to the jailbreak for them to have time to work out a user-ready jailbreak software.

The story continues to unfold and fixed are in the works for a stable jailbreak tool that everybody is familiar with. What’s left now is to wait a few days for the dust to settle and a proper jailbreak tool to be released.

Thank you Modmyi for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Modmyi