Posts Tagged ‘Mac’

Games Workshop’s Space Hulk coming to iPhone, not Android

Latest games console news:

A nail-biting game of survival horror set in the rotting spaceships of the grim far future, Space Hulk scared my pants off when Games Workshop released the board game in 1989. Now it’s licensed the game to Danish app developer Full Control, which is bringing it to PC, Mac and iOS next year.


You’ll control a squad of implausibly armoured space marines trying to escape one of the titular wrecks as you’re hunted down by the merciless Genestealers — multi-armed horrors that bear more than a passing resemblance to HR Giger’s alien.


Unlike previous PC treatments of the property, new Space Hulk won’t be a first-person shooter — it’s a 3D turn-based strategy game, in the vein of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You’ll be able to play co-operatively or against each other with friends on different platforms, and even make your own maps. I’m absolutely delighted by this approach, because it stands the best chance of capturing what was so tense and thoughtful about the original.


Copenhagen-based Full Control have mainly released strategy games for the PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad previously. I asked CEO Thomas Hentschel Lund why Android wasn’t in the mix.


“We had to pick launch platforms, and we decided to go with the ones that had the right balance of ROI [return on investment], most team experience, least QA challenges and most users that are willing to pay for premium games,” Lund told me in an email.


“So while Android (and consoles and Windows RT) are not in the launch list, [that] doesn’t mean we do not want to do them in the future. But no promises. Let’s make Space Hulk first — then spread it out on a variety of platforms.


“We are not hating Android or Android users,” he says. “But it’s simply a more risky platform to launch on. Much less risky to go with solid platforms, get the game profitable and then port to more risky platforms once you see the performance of the given game.”


We’ve heard recently from the likes of the BBC and Sky that Android is harder to develop for than Apple’s iOS because of the different versions of the software and the many devices you need to support to make it worthwhile.


But Android is beginning to represent a better investment for app makers. A survey in August by app maker SwiftKey found Android users were narrowing the gap on iOS users in terms of the number of apps they had paid for. Meanwhile the number of Android users continues to skyrocket, with IDC estimating it took 68 per cent of the smart phone market in the second quarter of the year.


As Lund mentioned, however, the experience of developers is a key factor in deciding which platforms to launch on. As Apple has dominated apps for the last four years, it’ll be some time before dev teams build up sufficient experience to be confident of launching successfully on Android.


Space Hulk is due for launch sometime next year — check out the teaser trailer below, and you can find more details on the website. Do you remember the board game fondly? Are you annoyed it’s not launching on Android? Unload your comments below, or over on our hard as space-nails Facebook page.




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Posted on December 20th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 news: Let the music play with Music Unlimited

The latest PS3 news:

Get an entire year of Music Unlimited Premium for £11.99 with PlayStation Plus.

You can listen to millions of songs at home via your PlayStation 3 and on the move with PlayStation Vita thanks to Music Unlimited.

PlayStation Plus members can sign up now for a one-year Premium subscription at PlayStation Store and get a whopping 90 per cent discount off the full price – hurry though as this offer is restricted to the first 100,000 purchases and will end on 31 December 2012.

Sony Entertainment Network’s Music Unlimited lets you stream millions of songs from the latest hits to classic tracks  to compatible devices.

Music Unlimited is available on a wide range of Sony and non-Sony connected devices including any computer (including PC and Mac), iOS devices including iPhone and iPod touch, Android devices including smartphones and tablets, PlayStation 3, PS Vita and connected Sony BRAVIA TVs as well as various Sony home audio and video devices.

If you’re a PlayStation Plus member and haven’t tried Music Unlimited yet, head over to PlayStation Store now and pick up a one-year Premium subscription at a bargain price.

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Posted on November 21st, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

Minecraft – review

PC/Mac; £16.95; Mojang

Much as the molten core of its world swills deep below its grassy topsoil, so Minecraft the game is buried somewhere deep beneath the crust of Minecraft the phenomenon. This is no great surprise.

An independent web-game written in an outmoded language and drawn with rudimentary blocks and 16-bit colours that finds unprecedented financial success will confound the wisdom of most video game critics, consultants and publishing mavens. So it’s inevitable that discussion of the “what” will be smothered by discussion of the “how” and the “why”.

Released long before it was finished, Minecraft has no in-game tutorial, no instruction pages and few explicit goals. November’s update moved the game from its extended beta into full release by introducing an endgame, but players are still forced to adventure outside of the confines of the game in search of YouTube videos to explain how to make one’s mark.

The basic rules are otherwise inscrutable, and, for players brought up on to-do list play, the passage of time largely aimless. And yet, in a few short months, Minecraft made its creator, Swede Markus “Notch” Persson, a multimillionaire, and revealed its player base to be one of the most creatively motivated in video games.

Why? In truth, the answer to the why is hidden inside the what.

Put aside Minecraft the phenomenon for a moment – the excited whispers of Lego deals, the unlikely merchandise, the endless industry awards snatched from the fists of Goliath blockbusters – and the in-game story of Minecraft is essentially the story of man: survival, hunting, community and, eventually, hubris.

The world is uniquely yours. All players share the 1×1 blocks that comprise its mountains, valleys, lakes and clouds, but their arrangement is randomly assigned to you alone. Day one and your goal is mere exploration, charting the terrain around you, a carefree sort of cartography as you feel out the contours of your domain, marvel at the scenery and build a mind map of natural landmarks to set your bearings by.

Then night falls and monsters rise; dead-eyed zombies, skeletons and camouflaged creepers, whose kindergarten path-finding AI has them pursue you with night-terror single-mindedness.

In a flash you spring from tourist to tormented, your goal shifting to a quest for survival as, using the action button, you begin to dig a cave with your bare hands in search of shelter.

Your interactive skillset may be limited to destroying blocks and rebuilding them, but soon you learn how to build tools from the materials around you. After the first night the rhythm and structure remains constant – work during light, shelter during night – but the next day’s objective is largely one of your own making.

You can choose to turn your cave into a castle, the urge to survive making way for the desire for comfort as you venture back out to gather the raw materials needed to laminate the floor of your home, build a bathtub and a stove onto which you can cook your meat.

For some, constructing a shack in the shire is adventure enough, and Hobbit-like they leave the game happy to have made a house a home. For others, ambitions aren’t so easily met, and they embark on a project to build a scale replica of the Taj Mahal, or the Starship Enterprise, or even to use sand and water to create logic gates that fire a giant rudimentary computer scrawled into the landscape.

Your creativity may be bounded to the resources that surround you, but dig deep enough and you’ll find everything you need to replicate on-screen that which sits in your imagination.

Once you have exhausted your self-made goals – added that extension, converted that garage, scaled your own Tower of Babel – Minecraft’s multiplayer servers allow you to venture forth to the community. Here you’ll find collaborative projects that dizzy the mind with their scale or pedantry, a thousand stubby arms chiselling at metaphorical pyramids, slaves to naught but their own aspiration.

In recent months, Minecraft’s makers have sought to take what is, in essence, a playpen of wild potential and mild peril, and mould it into a more formal video game structure. Achievements point you toward light goals, RPG levelling provides an abstract numerical read-out for your progression, while an end boss offers a conclusion for the kinds of players who need to “beat” a game rather than merely play one.

But these feel like half-hearted, tokenistic designs intended to bring some form of closure to the Minecraft phenomenon’s aimless evolution.

At its worst, the full-fat, full-price 1.0.0 Minecraft release is conflicted. A hotchpotch of game design clichés awkwardly stapled onto a wide-open space of joyous creative potential.

But those recent, orthodox game features can be roundly ignored and their presence does not diminish the wonder of the true core of the player-defined experience.

By offering us the tools we need to express ourselves, and by constructing the world from 1×1 blocks, video game atoms that can be arranged in every imaginable combination, Minecraft is perhaps the closest we have to a true god game.

And yet, it is also a game that indulges the instincts and aspirations of man, from lighting that first candle in a cave in order to ward off monsters, to building a tower to the stars. And beyond this, Minecraft has irrevocably changed the landscape of gaming, even as we have irrevocably changed its landscape in kind.

• Game reviewed on PC

PC

Games

Apple

Simon Parkin

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Posted on December 10th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

OnLive – review – Console news

The latest gaming news:

£69.99; onlive.co.uk

There’s a school of thought which states that the future of video games lies in the cloud, and the arrival of OnLive – the first credible cloud-based gaming service available to consumers – offers a great opportunity to test such claims.

Head for its website, and you will discover an impressive level of flexibility – once you’ve signed up (for free), you can pay to stream a large library of games to your PC, Mac or, via downloading apps, iOS or Android tablet. But, most impressively, you can buy a micro-console that lets OnLive operate through a bog-standard TV.

The latter setup represents OnLive at its most compelling – on the PC, you can buy boxed copies of most of the games for similar amounts to what OnLive charges (although there’s a PlayPass subscription option, for £6.99 per month, that gets you free access to 100-plus games and discounts on new releases).

It’s true that it gives Mac users access to games about which, hitherto, they’ve only been able to dream – such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, BioShock, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Borderlands – and the same applies to the tablets, although they remain hamstrung by their familiar control-system issues.

But if you fork out £69.99, you get a tiny box roughly the size of two cigarette packets, a controller (which is pretty reminiscent of that of the Xbox 360) and a bunch of cables including, commendably an HDMI.

Plug it into your TV and your broadband router, and you’re taken to a home screen which lets you jump instantly into a library of games which is generally pretty impressive – full titles are mixed up with shorter XBLA/PSN-style games including the likes of Braid – although it does have some conspicuous gaps, such as the complete absence of anything published by Electronic Arts, Activision or, of course, rival console manufacturers Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

Nevertheless, there are some absolute gems to be found, and the overwhelming impression is that it would provide the perfect, low-outlay introduction to games for someone who has never owned a console.

It has some tricks up its sleeve, too. You can use it to jump straight into multiplayer games like Homefront, and you can spectate on games being played by anyone on the system. Plus you can record clips of your finest moves, and upload them straight to Facebook.

The enabling technology behind OnLive converts the graphics of games running on the system’s servers to video, which it streams to you without having to go anywhere near a graphics processor. But that strength is also a weakness in one crucial respect: the quality of the visuals it provides is entirely dependent on the speed of your broadband.

Unable to acquire more than 2Mbps bandwidth, we found that visually, it lags way behind the graphics of the current crop of consoles (perhaps approaching the performance of the original Xbox). We reckon it would take about 8Mbps for it to approach the visual polish of the Xbox 360 or PS3.

You often notice a blockiness typical to video-compression and, of course, when you experience broadband slowdown spikes, the graphics become murkier.

That doesn’t necessarily detract too much from your enjoyment of the games: older titles such as Borderlands never looked great anyway, and one aspect of the system that is mightily impressive is the complete absence of any discernible lag in the controls.

If visual aesthetics are a concern, and you don’t have access to the fastest broadband available in this country, OnLive probably isn’t for you.

But if you’re looking to generate a gaming library from scratch, without paying huge amounts of money on a pile of games and a pricey console, plus are happy to forgo the big blockbusters such as Modern Warfare 3, Fifa, Battlefield 3 and their ilk, then OnLive should make you very happy indeed.

And when super-fast broadband becomes widely available, it will become a much more attractive proposition. OnLive isn’t the future yet – but it will be one day.

Rating: 3/5

Games

Internet

Broadband

Digital video

Steve Boxer

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Posted on October 1st, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

OnLive streaming gaming coming to UK in September










OnLive, the streaming gaming service, is coming to the UK on 22 September, bringing cloud-based game goodness to a range of platforms, including PC, Mac, iPad, HD tellies and Android devices.

We’d forgive you for never having heard of OnLive, so here’s the idea behind it. Cutting-edge gaming requires hefty hardware, which can be expensive and bulky. But OnLive is an online service that takes care of the computational grunt for you, streaming the whole game to you over an Internet connection. You’re playing the game on your screen, but what you’re actually seeing are images streamed from OnLive.

The benefit is you can play graphically demanding games on anything with a screen and a Web connection, without the need for discs or downloads. The snag? Your gaming experience will depend on the speed and latency of your broadband.

When it launches, you’ll be able to rent, demo or buy an impressive selection of titles, including Red Faction: Armageddon, Split/Second and Homefront.

There are no pricing details yet, but we’ll let you know when they’re announced.

We’ll be keen to try the service when it launches, and see if it’s any cop. We love the idea of playing massively demanding games on Android tablets, but we don’t know if this will please hardcore PC gamers, who demand millisecond response times, and will be upset if the online component introduces even the tiniest bit of lag.

OnLive’s success will also depend on whether publishers decide to make their games available on the platform. Whatever happens, we like the sound of a gaming shake-up, so we’ll be keeping a close eye.

If you’re fidgety and can’t wait, you can head over to the OnLive site and sign up ahead of time. Or tell us what you think about streaming gaming in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.






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Posted on August 15th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

Amazon game download store prepping for October UK launch – Console news







Amazon is planning to unleash its online game download store in the UK this October, MCV reports.

The store would serve as a place where you could purchase games, then download them digitally, without having to go through all the hassle of having the darn things delivered to your house.

The service has existed in the US since 2009, which in tech-years equates roughly to the bronze age, so we’re glad Amazon has finally seen fit to bring it to our green and pleasant land. According to MCV’s sources, the service is currently in the testing phase, but is on track for a proper release in autumn.

Amazon is not the first to try and capitalise on digital downloads. Steam, from Half-Life developer Valve, is currently king of game downloads. But Amazon has the benefit of already being a household name that people trust, so when it comes to grabbing new customers it could have a massive advantage.

Assuming the UK service is the same as the US version, when you browse to a game that can be downloaded, you’ll have the option to buy it normally and have it posted to you, or to download it there and then. Tidy.

It looks as if the whole world is abandoning physical media. Not only did Apple remove the optical drive from its latest Mac mini, but it made Lion, the latest version of OS X a download via the Mac App Store.

Are you all for the gleeful abandoning of rubbish physical objects? Or do you prefer to have a physical collection of games? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.






Slim-PS3.com is updated frequently each day with all latest games console news.

Posted on July 21st, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 Slim news: PS3 Gets Steam Support, Cross-Platform Portal 2

Recent news:

Valve recently announced that the PS3 version of Portal 2, sequel to their 2007 breakout hit Portal, will come equipped with Steam support, allowing for cloud-based game saving and cross-platform multiplayer with PC/Mac players, a first for any console system.

In addition, players who purchase the PS3 version of Portal 2 will be able to unlock a PC or Mac version of the game for free by linking their PSN and PC Steam accounts.

Valve’s cloud-based Steam service is far more versatile than either Sony’s Playstation Network or Microsoft’s Xbox Live, and gamers have been clamoring for the ability to chat and play with their friends on other systems for years. We can only hope that Sony and Microsoft can learn to play nice and allow Xbox Live to PSN cross-functionality in years to come. We’re not holding our breath, though.

Slim-PS3.com is updated frequently per day with the very latest Free PS3 news.

Posted on January 22nd, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

Biolab Disaster: an HTML5-only game that may pave the way for much more – Console news

Need a distraction this lunchtime? Got a “modern” browser? Then you might care to go and have a play on Biolab Disaster – a fairly standard platformer which wouldn’t draw much attention, except for the fact that it’s entirely written using HTML5 and Javascript.

Is that clever? Cool? Well, it’s interesting, because it shows that more developers are getting to grips with the possibilities offered by HTML5. Was it harder than doing it in Flash? Quite probably – but once one person has done it, and shared their experience, it gets easier for everyone who comes after them.

And as Dominic Szablewski, the developer, says,

“Biolab Disaster formulates the playable truth that it makes sense to create games for HTML5. Not only is the result on par with current Flash games, but also is the development process incredibly smooth and satisfying. The hurdles that a new technology such as HTML5 sets, were already overcome by the game engine. For the development of the game itself, I didn’t have to deal with any browser or platform issues at all.”

“With Microsoft delivering some HTML5 support in Internet Explorer 9 and JavaScript and rendering performance steadily increasing, I can’t see any reason why JavaScript and Canvas would not be the gaming platform of the coming years that finally removes Flash from its quasi monopole.”

(I think he means “monopoly”. Though monopole is a good word too.)

This echoes the rather larger effort that we’ve seen from SPIL Games, which at the end of August announced that it would be offering HTML5 versions of its its games websites – and that it thought that would be a new standard within a few years.

Of course, no new technology ever runs completely smoothly. There are still big differences between browsers in performance, and compatibility.

The author offers his own notes on compatibility: Opera 10.61: PerfectSafari 5.0 (Mac): PerfectFirefox 4 Beta 3: PerfectFirefox 3.6: Sound issues; slowChrome 7: Sound issuesIE 9 Preview: Sound issues; slow.

In fact, he’s a bit narked with some of the browsers involved. Specifically, Safari:

“please get your shit together! You are a very nice browser; my game runs with an excellent frame rate and everything works fine. But please (please!) support the Ogg Vorbis codec for Audio elements. There is no reason not to. I had to encode all my sound files in Ogg Vorbis and MP3, just because of you, Safari. You make my life unnecessarily difficult.”

Unfortunately I think he’s going to be disappointed – the chances of Apple supporting Ogg Vorbis are between zero and none.

All the browsers tested performed well – offering frame rates above 30fps – apart from Internet Explorer 9 (preview 4), which could only manage 23fps on his Intel Core2Duo/Windows 7 rig (on which Opera 10.6 managed a whopping 263 fps. (To see the comparative rankings, click the picture at the top of this post.)

Still, never mind – we’ll have to see how the real Internet Explorer 9 (released this evening) performs.

And if you headed over there on your iPhone/iPad and didn’t get a result, he’s ahead of you…

“The [game] engine gets no canplaythrough notification for sound files from Mobile Safari. Haven’t really looked into it, as the game itself will only run with ~12 FPS (iPhone 3GS) anyway (the bottleneck is the drawing performance – it easily consumes 90% of the CPU time).

That’s got to be embarrassing for Apple, which has made much of the HTML5 qualifications of its iOS operating system. Perhaps someone will get in touch with Szablewski and help out.

Also: he doesn’t know if it works on Android. Anyone got an Android phone and want to try?

There’s also a making-of video. And when you next do a making-of video, do think carefully about what web searches you’re going to leave visible in the browser search space.

HTML5

Games

Charles Arthur

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Posted on September 15th, 2010 by  |  No Comments »

news: Cross-platform co-op between PS3 and PC/Mac planned for Portal 2

The latest PS3 news: Developers at Valve have confirmed that part of their announcement regarding Steam support for PS3 is plans to work on cross-platform co-op gaming between the PS3 and PC/Mac for Portal 2. Slim-PS3 is updated frequently every day with the latest Free Slim PS3 news and reviews.

Posted on June 17th, 2010 by  |  No Comments »

Fun guys are off as Microsoft rejigs its Entertainment division

The two leading lights of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division — Robbie Bach and J Allard — are leaving the company, possibly leaving chief executive Steve Ballmer in direct charge of all the company’s fun and games

Robbie Bach is retiring as president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division, while J Allard is to become a consultant on specific projects. Bach and J Allard are the people mainly responsible for the Xbox games console and Live service, the Zune media player, PC gaming, Microsoft TV, Microsoft Surface, Office for Mac, and Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 phones.In the latest financial quarter, the E&D division made an operating profit of $165m on sales worth $1.7bn. The company made $5.2bn on a turnover of $14.5bn.

Bach joined Microsoft in 1988 and often appeared in keynote speeches with Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, who said in a statement: “Robbie’s an amazing business person and close personal friend, which makes his departure a point of sadness for me.” Some had considered Bach a possible future CEO.

Allard, the division’s senior vice president of design and development, is leaving after 19 years at Microsoft. Allard is considered the “father of the Xbox” and his disappearance was noted on 18 May by ZD Net’s Mary Jo Foley, who wrote Where in the world is J Allard? A source told her that “Allard is on sabbatical and is unlikely to return to Microsoft”. However, Allard told TechFlash that his departure was not connected with the cancellation of another of his projects, the dual-screen Courier tablet computer. He said he wanted to devote more time to his personal interests, particularly adventure sports.

Allard was widely admired and the Kotaku games blog has posted a tribute, J Allard, We Will Miss You

Bach is not being replaced, so the mobile phone and Xbox bosses, Andy Lees and Don Mattrick, will report directly to Ballmer. Allard will also report directly to Ballmer on his special projects.

Whatever the reasons for the reorganisation, the division has not generally been successful at selling its major products, or at making money out of them. While Microsoft has done far better than most people expected in establishing the Xbox console line, the Xbox 360 has been dogged by problems with consoles overheating and failing with the famous Red Ring of Death. Microsoft extended the product’s guarantee to cover the issue, taking a $1bn charge for the cost. The division’s successes include the Xbox Live online service and the Halo games franchise.

While Microsoft was relatively quick to enter the smartphone market with touch-screen systems, long before Apple, its Windows Mobile software was clunky by comparison. It has lost market share both to Apple’s iPhone and to systems running Google’s Android software. And while the Zune HD and Zune 4 desktop software have impressed users, the system has not sold well in the US, and has not been launched internationally. It remains to be seen whether the impressive-looking Windows Phone 7 will do any better.

Microsoft has been extremely successful as a platform company, providing software that other companies could use to build their own products, including PCs and phones, applications and both online and offline services. The Entertainment and Devices division embodied Microsoft’s attempt to create proprietary vertically integrated systems including its own hardware, operating system, applications, content and online services. It’s a strategy that Apple has used with tremendous success, but Microsoft has never been able to match it.

Even those who weren’t particularly keen on Bach could struggle to see Ballmer doing the job any better himself. However, since Bach isn’t retiring until the autumn, there’s still time to find a successor.

Microsoft

Xbox

Jack Schofield

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Posted on May 25th, 2010 by  |  No Comments »