Andreas Kolbe writes The latest financial statements for the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity behind Wikipedia, show it has assets of $60 million, including $27 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $23 million in investments. Yet its aggressive banner ads suggest disaster may be imminent if people don't donate and imply that Wikipedia may be forced to run commercial advertising to survive. Jimmy Wales counters complaints by saying the Foundation are merely prudent in ensuring they always have a reserve equal to one year's spending, but the fact is that Wikimedia spending has increased by 1,000 percent in the course of a few years. And by a process of circular logic, as spending increases, so the reserve has to increase, meaning that donors are asked to donate millions more each year. Unlike the suggestion made by the fundraising banners, most of these budget increases have nothing to do with keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free, and nothing to do with generating and curating Wikipedia content, a task that is handled entirely by the unpaid volunteer base. The skyrocketing budget increases are instead the result of a massive expansion of paid software engineering staff at the Foundation – whose work in recent years has been heavily criticised by the unpaid volunteer base. The aggressive fundraising banners too are controversial within the Wikimedia community itself.
An anonymous reader writes In a surprising appearance at E3 2014, Oculus showed a virtual reality demo version of Creative Assembly's forthcoming first-person horror game, Alien: Isolation. Despite intense reactions to the demo, the publisher stated that the full game would not feature Oculus Rift support. However, intentional or not, the developer left the code hidden in the game which can be enabled with a simple hack, leading to full support for the Oculus Rift including positional tracking.
An anonymous reader writes: Hello Games is a small development studio, only employing 10 people. But they're building a game, No Man's Sky, that's enormous — effectively infinite. Its universe is procedurally generated, from the star systems down to individual species of plant and animal life. The engine running the game is impressively optimized. A planet's characteristics are not computed ahead of time — terrain and lifeforms are randomly generated on the fly as a player explores it. But, of course, that created a problem for the developers — how do they know their procedural generation algorithms don't create ridiculous life forms or geological formations? They solved that by writing AI bot software that explores the universe and captures brief videos, which are then converted to GIF format and posted on a feed the developers can review. The article goes into a bit more detail on how the procedural generation works, and how such a small studio can build such a big game.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: Many PC gamers were disappointed that Ubisoft's latest AAA game, Watch_Dogs, did not look as nice as when displayed at E3 in 2012. But this week a modder discovered that code to improve the game's graphics on the PC is still buried within the released game, and can be turned back on without difficulty or performance hits. Ubisoft has yet to answer whether (or why) their PC release was deliberately handicapped. Gaming commentator Total Biscuit has a video explaining the controversy.
According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.
muterobert (2927951) writes with an update on the full immersion VR system from Project Holodeck (now renamed Survios). The system combines an Oculus DK2 with external sensors to make a fully immersive 8x'8' space "Ben Lang from Road to VR goes hands on and heads in with virtual reality technology company Survios' newest version of untethered VR system 'Prime 3'. He moves around the virtual space, holding and reloading weapons as you would in real life. 'At one point while playing, I was wielding the shotgun with two hands, with the table of weapons was on my right side. Several zombies were approaching and I needed a bit more fire power. I dropped the shotgun, reached over with my right hand to grab the tommy gun off the table, then virtually tossed it from my right hand to my left hand (because I'm a lefty), then pulled my pistol out of the holster with my right hand and continued to shoot both weapons.'" The article has a video, and it almost makes me think it's what being in the metaverse would be like.
jones_supa (887896) writes 'Since the release of the extremely successful Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, rumors about PC — and later also an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — version have been floating around. Now it's official: Grand Theft Auto V will be released on Windows PC and Xbox One, in addition to PlayStation 4, this fall, publisher Rockstar Games announced today with a trailer. A post on Rockstar Newswire tells us that the ports will offer visual and technical improvements such as "increased draw distances, finer texture details, denser traffic and enhanced resolutions." All of the new GTA Online content that has been created and released since launch will be available also on the modern platforms. The PC version will exclusively include a video editor to allow players to put together their own clips of in-game action.'
An anonymous reader writes "Legendary DIY gaming guru Ben Heck has given a new interview in which he talks about the Access Controller, his modular controller for consoles that lets disabled gamers play with one hand, and how he plans to update it for the next generation of consoles: 'I'm sure I will. At the very least people are going to want the accessibility controllers I build...People have already asked about them for the next-gen consoles, and that was at E3. When I was there, the thing I looked at the most was the controllers. The Xbox One looks pretty similar to what we have at the moment, but they finally fixed the D-pad.'"
Craefter writes "It seems that the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset caught the attention of investors after its showing at E3 this year. Spark Capital and Matrix Partners were able to push $16 million at Oculus VR in the hopes that the product will live up to the hype. The HD unit looks a bit more slick than the ski-goggles-with-a-tablet-glued-to-it prototype, but the device would look even more appealing if the next-gen consoles would commit to supporting it. (We all know how well the PS3's 'wave-stick' did as an afterthought.) That said, major titles like the 9-year-old Half-Life 2 and the 6-year-old Team Fortress 2 are getting full support for the device. Hopefully some developers are looking into support for the Oculus Rift as a launch feature, rather than an addition years after the fact. IA bit like the EAX standard from Soundblaster. That worked out well too."
symbolset writes "In the wake of a disastrous E3 product reveal Microsoft has purportedly distributed a confidential internal 100-point 'FAQ' for the Xbox One that reads like it's from the Ministry of Truth. It was of course immediately leaked on pastebin. Kotaku has the story and an amusing online poll. In the discussion below make sure to line up the FAQ entries with the AC comments for extra 'Informative' moderation."
An anonymous reader writes "Now that E3 has wound down and the big product announcements are out of the way, its time to take a step back and look at the culture represented by the giant gaming show. 'The presence of scantily clad women hawking games and gizmos seemed in particular contrast to a report released this week by the Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the gaming industry's annual trade show. It found that 45 percent of the entire gaming population is now women, and women make up 46 percent of the most frequent game buyers.' While there are fewer 'booth babes' than in earlier shows (and while some are trying to bring balance by adding 'booth bros'), the conference organizers are happy to let exhibitors make their own policy. By contrast, the Penny Arcade Expo forbids 'booth babes,' a controversial but widely lauded stance. A recent article in Kotaku about this year's E3 notes, 'For every confident cosplayer who might do the job at a con, I am seeing dozens of companies trying to sell me hundreds of women. They are not drawing my attention to the content of their games, or to their tactics or techniques. They are drawing my attention to thigh-high boots, to low-cut shirts, and, frankly, to the hard work of a really expensive bra. So much of what I see here at E3 is aimed directly at the lizard hindbrain of a 13-year-old boy. But you have to be 18 to get into the show, and it's nominally for industry professionals. Perhaps someday we—men and women alike—can all be treated like the grown-ups we theoretically are, and be trusted to judge a game by its content... not its double-D cover.'"
Tackhead writes "E3 is turning into Bizarro World this year. Sony has not only promised that the PS4 will support used games without an online connection, they trolled the Xbox folks hard with this Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video. Compounding the silliness, and hot on the heels of the political firestorm surrounding Donglegate, Microsoft went for rape jokes during their Xbox presentation." Similarly, onyxruby writes "The Verge covers how Sony has crafted policies explicitly to make the PS4 consumer friendly to the public. They make the case that the PS4 will be superior in nearly every way [to the Xbox Next] by not requiring an Internet connection, not restricting used games, supporting indie developers and selling for $100 cheaper than the Xbox One." And if you're interested in the guts rather than the policies or the politics, Hot Hardware has a comparison of the internals of both of these new offerings.
Alsee writes "Center of flaming controversy across the Internet and here on Slashdot for claiming to travel 'Directly Downwind Faster Than The Wind, Powered Only By The Wind, Steady State' (DDWFTTW), the Blackbird is now up for auction on Ebay. It has been certified by the North American Land Sailing Association and Guinness World Records to have reached 2.8 times wind speed directly downwind and was subsequently modded to also achieve more than double windspeed directly upwind. It has been the subject of an MIT physics paper and was included as a model problem in the International Physics Olympiad, yet many still argue it would violate the laws of physics. Let the bidding (and debate) commence!"
Today at a press conference leading up to E3, Microsoft unveiled its next-gen games/entertainment console, the Xbox One. Their stated goal for the Xbox One is to have a single device provide "all of your entertainment." One of the big changes is increased support for voice and and gesture input. You can turn the console on by voice, and it will recognize you and automatically login. Swiping to the side with your hand will browse through menu pages, and saying "Watch TV" will bring up the TV app very quickly. The same with music, internet, and movies. The new console also supports multitasking — for example, while watching a movie, you can bring up your web browser in a side panel and surf the web at the same time. There is also a built-in TV listings app that responds to channel names — saying "Watch CBS" will switch to CBS without giving it an actual channel number. By this point, you're probably asking: does it play games? Yes. Hardware specs: 8-core CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, USB 3.0, and Wi-fi Direct. (They didn't provide the CPU frequency, instead saying it had 5 billion transistors.) The Kinect sensor got an upgrade: 2Gbps of data capture has finer skeletal visibility, can detect minor orientation changes in hands and fingers, and can even calculate your balance and weight distribution. The new controller looks slightly bigger, and is designed to play well with Kinect. They've also updated Smartglass, the remote control software that runs on mobile devices, but they didn't explain much about it. The new Xbox Live will have 300,000 servers powering it, up from 15,000 this year — though, of course, no details were provided about server specs. The console will have native game capture and editing tools — essentially, a game DVR. Saved games will be stored in the cloud, and they have new matchmaking capabilities that operate in the background. Update: 05/21 17:50 GMT by S : Halo is getting its own live-action TV show, for some reason. They'll be collaborating with Steven Spielberg. Microsoft is also partnering with the NFL for live broadcasts and interactive experiences, such as split-screen Skype chats and fantasy league updates. Xbox One will be out "later this year." No price information. it will not be backward-compatible with Xbox 360 games.
An anonymous reader writes "The new Xbox is almost here and the details appear to strongly suggest 'always on' is the way forward. We all know that this is an artificial requirement and certainly there are plenty of people on all sides of the table. To paraphrase the user 'tuffy' who commented on this issue at Ars Technica recently; if you're trying to sell 'always online' as a feature of the future, there needs to be some benefit for me the customer. There is not one. Or, rather, there is no sign yet of any actual clearly compelling reason why any end user would support this limitation to their purchase. So, what's the best way to express this? Spend your money on an Ouya? Contact the Xbox team? These are all valid options but they also lack visibility. What we need is a way that could help actually quantify the levels of discontent in the gamer community. Maybe E3 attendees could turn their backs in protest like some did during Thatcher's funeral procession. Or gamers could sign some useless petition. What do Slashdotters think? Is the upcoming Steam box a reasonable plan? As a gamer, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I really don't like it but I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it. Then again part of me is rankled by this slow erosion of access to me and my data."
MojoKid writes "Intel recently revealed a number of details regarding future Atom and Xeon processors and proposed server rack-level enhancements to improve efficiency and ease upgrades. The company will soon refresh its Xeon and Atom processor lines with new products manufactured using Intel's 22nm process node, which offer improved performance per watt characteristics and expanded feature sets. In total, Intel revealed details of three new low-power, Atom-branded SoCs for the data center, all coming in 2013. Intel is also updating the Xeon E3, E5, and E7 product lines. The Atom processor family will see new SoCs based on designs codenamed Briarwood, Avoton, and Rangeley, while the more powerful Xeons will be updated with Haswell, Ivy Bridge EP, and Ivy Bridge EX-based designs. Xeon E3s will leverage the increased graphics performance of Haswell to improve performance in multimedia-related workloads, like HD video transcodes. OHaswell-based Xeon E3 processors will also offer improved performance per watt over existing Sandy and Ivy Bridge-based designs and Intel will offer Xeon E3 processors with TDPs as low as 13 watts, approximately 25% lower than the prior generation."
When the Wii U was released at the end of last year, Nintendo got a head-start on the long-awaited new generation of video game consoles. Now, Sony has announced a press conference for February 20th that is expected to unveil the PlayStation 4, codenamed 'Orbis.' This will precede the announcement of the Xbox 360's successor, codenamed 'Durango,' but that too will likely be announced by E3 in June. Specs for development kits of both systems have leaked widely. The two systems both use 8-core AMD chips clocked around 1.6 GHz. Durango has 8GB of DDR3 RAM, while Orbis has 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, though Sony is trying to push that up to 8GB for the console's final spec. Reports also suggest Sony is tinkering with its controller design, going so far as to add a "Share" button to let people exchange screenshots and recordings. Developers indicate the systems are very close in power, though Sony's system currently has an edge. With the upcoming announcement of the PS4, the big-three console makers will kick off a new round of direct competition. They'll maneuver to one-up each other with the most powerful hardware and the slickest software. However, they'll also hope the release of three major consoles in rapid succession will help to anchor a part of the games industry that no longer enjoys the dominance it once did, thanks to threats from mobile.
identity0 writes "According to Japan Probe, Hiroyuki Nishimura, the founder of 2ch.net, has been charged with drug offenses by Japanese police over a forum post made on 2ch in 2010. He is not even accused of making the post, but of failure to have moderators delete it. The post apparently discussed drugs. 2ch.net (also called 2channel) is Japan's biggest forum, with over a million posts a day, of which the post in question was one. The site inspired image board 2chan.net (but is not directly related to it), which spawned copycat English site 4chan.net. More info at Slashdot Japan, if you can read Japanese."
MojoKid writes "E3 is well underway in Los Angeles, and Microsoft has already made a major splash with its 'SmartGlass' technology, game demos, and its announcement that a Kinect-powered version of Internet Explorer will debut on the Xbox 360. This is a marked change from last year, when Kinect was the unquestioned centerpiece of Microsoft's display and the company's demos focused on how Kinect-powered games used your full body as a controller. Kinect is in the interesting position of having sold extremely well while failing to move the bar forward in any of the ways Microsoft projected in the run up to its launch. Scroll through the ratings on Kinect-required titles, and the percentages are abysmal. Kinect's biggest problem is rooted in ergonomics. Gamepads with buttons may be crude approximations of real life, but they're simple and intuitive. They're also flexible — a great many games have conditional scenarios that allow the same button to perform different functions depending on what's going on within the game. Pure Kinect games don't have a simple mechanism to incorporate these features, and there's no easy way around them. The motion-controller's most enduring features may ultimately be its capabilities outside the gaming sphere."
An anonymous reader writes "John Carmack, co-founder of id Software, is using his spare time to develop a modern virtual reality headset. After purchasing such a device last year, Carmack became frustrated with how slowly the technology has progressed over the past twenty years. So, he decided to push it forward himself. PCGamer reports that he's been showing off his prototype behind closed doors at E3 this year, and has an interview with him about the problems with VR and the technical challenges he needs to overcome. They even get a look at the prototype itself, which is currently held together with duct tape."