a tech geek dream for decades
, was long hobbled
by high latency, clunky hardware, and perennially absurd reports
on network news.
That all changed in 2011, when Palmer Luckey
, then 18, built the first Oculus Rift prototype
in his parents' garage with iPhone repair money.
Awed by its powerful sense of presence
, developer John Carmack
became a fan and demoed it at E3
. The ensuing Kickstarter campaign
shattered all fundraising goals, and Facebook controversially bought the rights
for a whopping $2 billion -- alienating erstwhile partner Valve Software
, the iconic creators of Half-Life
A Cambrian explosion of headsets followed: Morpheus
, Google Cardboard
, Gear VR
But perhaps most interesting is Valve's own counter-project: a breathtaking "room scale" VR set-up
with Tron-like "Chaperone"
and tracked motion controls
called the HTC Vive
With this week's commercial launch of Rift and Vive bringing us to the threshold of a new interactive medium
, look inside for guides, notes, and killer apps for this, the stunning arrival of consumer VR. [more inside]
A prototype of the Nintendo Playstation/SNES-CD
may have been located. Photos are here
. The ongoing forum thread is here
and there is a reddit discussion as well
but it in a private group. But a question remains: Is this all a hoax?
"Some games make an enormous impact on you when you play them, and time and technology do little to diminish that impact. I feel that way about quite a few games: Elite
, Super Mario Bros
, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
are three that immediately come to mind. Secret of Mana is without question a fourth.
" [more inside]
A month after its release, Naughty Dog
's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us
is being hailed as one of the best games of all time
, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics
Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth
, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps
), leaving behind lush wastelands
of elegant decay
teeming with monsters
and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies.
Into this bleak vision of desperate violence
journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future.
Boasting tense, immersive gameplay
, compelling performances
from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score
from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla
, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men
to Cormac McCarthy's The Road
, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite
and Half-Life 2
as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements
. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages
And don't miss the 84-minute documentary
exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
Sony is closing its Liverpool Studio
, previously known as Psygnosis
, developer of the WipeEout
and Lemmings games (DHTML version
). The studio created games for 28 years, first gaining attention in the Amiga era for it's high production values and stunning box art
George Hotz, Sony, and the Anonymous hacker wars.
In late December 2010, fail0verflow
, a team of European hackers, demonstrated that the Playstation 3's security was fundamentally flawed
and managed to obtain the encryption key
used by the device (see previous discussion
). Utilizing the techniques developed by the fail0verflow team, iPhone hacker George Hotz
released the encryption key
publically, which enables the execution of arbitrary code on the console. Now Sony is suing
both George Hotz and members of the fail0verflow team. [more inside]
Platypus Comix has compiled images from around the Internet of prototype game consoles and peripherals
spanning from the original NES all the way to the Sony PlayStation 3. You'll see the NES's tape recorder, a touch pad for the Sega Genesis, the infamous Nintendo PlayStation, a PlayStation Portable you can clip to your backpack ("...or whatever reckless thing they thought you'd try."), a Wii controller with just one large button, and the embarrassing PS3 "serect" button. [more inside]
Citing security concerns, Sony has decided to release a firmware update
that will disable the "OtherOS" feature on its older (non-slim) PlayStation 3 systems. This is almost certainly a response to the system finally being hacked
two months ago by George "GeoHot" Hotz. To counter Sony's disabling of the feature, Hotz, who previously stated that he would not be releasing custom firmware for the PS3, now plans to do so
"The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle. Software PS2 emulation, SACD playback, and OtherOS support are all just software switches you can flip. It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field."
"It's a secret to everybody"
-- an unbelievably comprehensive blog post about the etymologies of the names of famous (and not-so-famous) video game characters.
On the Eve of the Big Release
Just in case you haven't drowned in the flood of stories about the new consoles, Businessweek is offering a few more. For the PS3, we have a summary article giving information on Sony's current situation
, along with a 4 (out of 5) star review
. In the Wii's corner, we have an interview with two of Nintendo's developers
, who discuss the rationale behind the controller redesign, pricing, and keeping their gamers happy. Call it a little light reading before you hit the lines tonight.
to my left is a youngish software developer from Yokohama, incandescent with rage. To my right is the finance officer of a major games publisher. Worryingly, he is tapping sums into a pocket calculator and shaking his head...
It shouldn't have been a surprise (...
) but yesterday's announcement (pdf)
from Sony has crushed
14 year-olds of all ages. The Playstation 3
is shaping up as a great IT Disaster
. The 'Times' man in Tokyo - Leo Lewis
, muses on being a games geek in Akihabara (with cash and a proper job) and explains the delights of "beer flavored alcohol"
, just what we need to drown our sorrows.
Sony Ordered to pay 90.1 million in damages,
and immediately stop selling Playstation 2's that come with a dual shock controller. Why has this not been in the news?
Sony fesses up
and admits that they've screwed up in the past. But they say they're sorry, and they promise that they'll stop hitting consumers with ATRAC
, half-baked PSX units
and flawed PlayStation Portables
Hand-arm vibration syndrome may be associated with prolonged use of vibrating computer games.
Prolonged in this case means seven hours per day, which seems to be "excessive and exceeds the manufacturer's recommendation." Methinks this is the least of his problems.
Say goodbye to Bleem.
If you don't know, Bleem made emulator software that allowed you to play Playstation games on another console system or your PC. Their 'farewell' is kind of funny in a sad way.
chip to be designed by IBM.
The three companies (Sony, IBM, and Toshiba) aim to design a "super-computer on a chip" with a wide variety of consumer applications, they said in a joint statement.
"The result will be consumer devices that are more powerful than IBM's Deep Blue super-computer, operate at low power and access the broadband internet at ultra-high speeds," the statement added
PlayStation 2 not quite what it was promised to be.
"Japanese have purchased about 3.5 million PlayStation 2s, but there are signs that sales have leveled off."
"Analysts had predicted a runaway success, but now they are forecasting Sony losses of more than $200 million on its game business in the year ending next March—its first such loss in years."
Now while these guys
are not exactly the most unbiased source for an evaluation of the PlayStation 2
, they have nonetheless backed up their evaluation with a lot of convincing hard information on the performance
and in particular about the financing
. If these guys have got it right, Sony's going to take a bath on this; they'll never come close to recouping their costs of production, let alone all the research they did. If these guys have it right, Sony will lose money on the PS2 as long as they sell it. This Is Not Good. (Unless you hate Rambus, like I do, because this means both of their markets will collapse.)
How could Sony be low on cash when
Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Circuit City all have lines of people around the corner who have been waiting since yesterday morning? All waiting to get their very own PX2.
Think about this - approximately 500,000 of the units will sell today, at $300 a pop, plus numerous purchases of games in addition to the console. Let's estimate that each lucky customer will spend $400 (1 PX2, and 2 games per customer - a modest estimate). That's a one-day gross of $200,000,000.
My bet? Sony will not only turn itself around by the end of the day today, cause a major boom in US currency flow, but also cause a sharp decline in spending for the next month - people will be at home playing their new games, and will have little interest in going out to buy anything else!
Hard drives in PlayStations!
"Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony (NYSE: SNE) will reportedly include a hard drive and modem in the U.S. version of its second-generation PlayStation gaming product set for a fall release."
Slashdot reported that linux would be the development platform, but my question is how soon to expect a linux port to a Playstation?
Sony web site mobbed...
The number of nline orders for the PSX2 at the Sony web site forced Sony to close down the page temporarily as they were getting 100K hits in one minute yesterday.
The PSX2 is projected to be released on March 4th. =)