Categories
Gaming

After another major E3 data leak, a gaming luminary says bye to the expo

Photograph of a serious man in front of a cracked E3 logo.

Enlarge / Does everyone play at E3 2020? Not Geoff Keighley. (credit: Jill Greenberg / Aurich Lawson)

While the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo is still scheduled to kick off in Los Angeles this June, the headlines surrounding the next incarnation have mostly been about who’snot attending. After January’s news that Sony would (once again) not attend E3, Wednesday came with confirmation of another major no-show, but it’s not a game developer or a publisher; instead, it’s journalist, promoter, and producer Geoff Keighley.

Gaming fans are likely familiar with Keighley’s work as host of The Game Awards and various journalistic deep dives; his “Final Hours” series will emerge later this year with an insider’s look at the development process of Valve’s upcoming VR game Half-Life: Alyx. But in the case of E3, Keighley isn’t just a guy who shows up to check out new video games. For the past few years, he’s produced the E3 Coliseum series of game debuts and celebrity panels. And for over 20 years, he’s organized the independent, E3-adjacentGame Critics Awardswhich are a huge factor for members of E3’s attending press in the West.

Some of that changes this year, according toa Wednesday statement posted to Keighley’s Twitter account. After acknowledging his 25 years of E3 attendance, Keighley confirmed that he “will not be participating in E3” this year and that he “declined” to serve as producer of any E3 Coliseum-style events.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

GeForce Now loses all Activision Blizzard titles weeks after launch

Nvidia has announced that all Activision Blizzard games available on its GeForce Now streaming service will soon be removed from streaming play at the publisher’s request. The move affects a number of GeForce streamable games on Blizzard’s Battle.net launcher, including Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and the Call of Duty series (Destiny 2is still streamable since Bungie split with Activision just over a year ago).

“[We’re] continually adding new games, and on occasion, having to remove games similar to other digital service providers,” Nvidia said in a statement. “While unfortunate, we hope to work together with Activision Blizzard to re-enable these games and more in the future.”

Activision Blizzard hasn’t publicly commented on the reason for this pullback, and the company’s games could return soon. But last month Activision Blizzard announced that it had entered into a multiyear partnership with Google Cloud to provide backend infrastructure support for its game, as well as esports streaming services through YouTube. Activision didn’t announce any plans to bring games to Google’s Stadia service at that time, but such a move would make some sense as an extension of that existing partnership.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

Steam: Virtual realitys biggest-ever jump in users happened last month

Well-dressed partygoers dance in VR headsets.

Enlarge / If Steam’s latest VR hardware stats are any indication, parties like this may very well be happening in your neighborhood. (Yes, we know, most of these models are sporting headsets outside of the SteamVR ecosystem. If you’d like to model for our next VR article’s imagery, send your snaps to Aurich Lawson, stat.) (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

How well are virtual reality headsets selling? With most of the sector’s major players remaining coy on sales figures, we’re left to draw an incomplete picture from various bits of data. This month, at least, we have an intriguing new data point: a burst in PC-VR hardware use, two months in a row.

Valve’s gaming marketplace Steam includes an opt-in hardware survey feature, and the results are published as percentages of surveyed users on a monthly basis. You’ll find all kinds of data about Steam-connected computers every month, and this includes operating systems, video cards, VR systems, and more. In the latter case, that figure is counted out of all Steam usersas opposed to a less-helpful stat like “70 percent of VR fans prefer Product A, 30 percent Product B.”

We were intrigued (but not surprised) to see a jump in connected VR devices for the reported month of December 2019. That’s the holiday season, after all, and it’s reasonable to expect Santa’s deliveries of headsets to affect data.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

Altered Carbons dystopian world is back and darker than ever in S2 trailer

Anthony Mackie takes up the mantle to play former rebel Takeshi Kovacs in season two of Altered Carbon.

Hard-boiled mercenary Takeshi Kovacs is back on a new case back and in a new body (or “sleeve”) in the trailer for season two ofAltered Carbon, the Netflix adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 cyberpunk novel of the same name.

(Some spoilers for S1 below.)

Like the novel, the series is set in a world more than 360 years in the future, where a person’s memories and consciousness can be uploaded into a devicebased on alien technologyknown as a cortical stack. The stack can be implanted at the back of the neck of any human body (known as a “sleeve”), whether natural or synthetic, so an individual consciousness can be transferred between bodies. Income equality still exists, however, so only the very rich can afford true immortality, storing their consciousness in remote backups and maintaining a steady supply of clones. Those people are called “Meths” (a reference to the biblical Methuselah, who supposedly lived for 969 years).

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

Report: System Shock 3 developers are no longer employed

The latest (and possibly last) public trailer for System Shock 3.

The long-pending dream of a new sequel in the storied System Shock series may be well and truly dead, according to a new report from Video Games Chronicle.

The fate of the new sequelthe first in the series since 1999started to look questionable last February, when struggling publisher Starbreeze was forced to sell the rights to the game back to developer OtherSide Entertainment to recoup costs. In the wake of that move, though, OtherSide managed to put together a GDC demo and was optimistic about potential publishing options, including self-publishing. OtherSide also put out a new “pre-alpha” gameplay trailer as recently as November, suggesting things were moving along predictably.

The development seems to have taken a turn for the worse in recent months, though, with former community manager Sam Luangkhot confirming in December that a number of high-profile members of the OtherSide team had been laid off. That list of departures included the game’s writer & director, senior designer, lead programmer, QA lead, and senior environment artist, according to publicly available LinkedIn profiles posted by those affected.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

90s nostalgia: Dancing Baby does the cha-cha once more in new HD rendering

The Dancing Baby became one of the first viral videos in the mid to late 1990s.

Internet denizens of a certain age will recall with fondness the 3D animated Dancing Baby (aka “Baby Cha-Cha” and “the Oogachacka Baby”) that went viral in 1996. Sure, the rendering was crude by today’s standards andit must be saida little creepy, but in many ways, the Dancing Baby was a proto-meme. Now, almost 25 years after it was first created, an enterprising college student has re-rendered the original model and animation in a suitable HD format for modern displays.

The Dancing Baby is just a 3D rendering of a baby in a diaper, animated to do a little dance to the opening of the song “Hooked on a Feeling” by Swedish rock band Blue Swede (featured on the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack in 2014). It was developed by Michael Girard and Robert Lurye in 1996 as a sample source file for the 3D animation software package Character Studio (used in conjunction with 3D Studio Max). The 3D source film was released to the public that same year so that animators could render their own video clips.

Then a LucasArts staffer named Ron Lussier shared a tweaked version of the file with a few co-workers in an email, launching innumerable email chains that eventually spread outside the company and all over the world. Eventually people began remixing the original dancing baby. There was a Kung Fu Baby, a Rasta Baby, and a Samurai Baby, for instance. The model hit peak virality in 1998, when it was featured in a dream sequence on the popular TV show Ally McBeal, supposedly representing the titular character’s anxiety over her ticking biological clock.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

Logitech debuts $169 StreamCam: A streamer-focused, USB-C webcam

Today, creating videos for platforms like YouTube and Twitch has few barriers to entry but many barriers to success. Logitech is hoping it can make things easier for aspiring online creators and streamers with its new StreamCam, a 1080p webcam with features like autofocus and built-in image stabilization that are tailored to online creators’ needs.

Logitech already has a number of accessories that creators and streamers can use including microphones and other webcams. But none of those accessories were made with streamers in mind to this extentin an effort to fill what it sees as a void in the market, Logitech surveyed a number of online creators and streamers to see what they’d want in an ideal webcam.

And thus, StreamCam came to be: it records 1080p video at 60fps and has autofocus capabilities. Auto-exposure compensates for poor background lighting as well as light changes to make sure that the subject of the video is never shadowed. Built-in image stabilization reduces unwanted movement for a continuously smooth shot as well.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

Steam hit another all-time high for concurrent users – as did Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Categories
Gaming

BioWare promises substantial reinvention for year-old Anthem

Almost a year has gone by since BioWare launched its online space RPG Anthem to a loud critical thud and quickly dwindling player numbers. BioWare isn’t giving up on the high-flying space-shooter, though, with General Manager Casey Hudson promising in a blog post today to provide “a longer-term redesign of the experience” that provides “a more substantial reinvention than an update or expansion.”

While regular Anthem updates so far have focused on “stability, performance, and general quality of life”as well as three seasons’ worth of new contentHudson acknowledges the fan feedback that the game still “needs a more satisfying loot experience, better long-term progression, and a more fulfilling end game.” In the coming months, then, the company will be focused on more “fundamental work… to bring out the full potential of the experience… specifically working to reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges, and progression with meaningful rewardswhile preserving the fun of flying and fighting in a vast science-fantasy setting,” Hudson writes.

To help that process along, the development team will be halting new “full season” updates as it focuses on this overhaul (in-game events, store refreshes, and previously released content will continue to be available during this process). Hudson also said BioWare will be “doing something we’d like to have done more of the first time aroundgiving a focused team the time to test and iterate, focusing on gameplay first.”

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories
Gaming

Mess with everything in the physics sim ‘Universe Sandbox’ now DRM-free on GOG