Tag: game

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU, part two

[Part one is here]

Kirk Skaugen, senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel took over in the second half of Wednesday’s IDF Keynote presentation. He began talking about the “2 in 1” computing platform. That raises the question: Have Ultrabooks slipped off Intel’s road map just when HP is announcing its HP ZBook 14 Ultra Workstation?

Kirk Skaugen

 

Perhaps they are simply not selling in the volume predicted at a couple past IDFs when Ultrabooks were announced? Skaugen put it this way: “Now we’ve stopped counting [OEM designs], and assumed that the entire world has gone thin”. He added that more than 40 percent of all Core notebooks have been designed with touch. Seventy percent of today’s Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, on the way to 100 percent touch later this year.

Skaugen said by this year’s holidays, the 2-in-1 form factor will be selling in the $999 down to $349 price range. He said that by the year’s end, there will be 60 2-in-1 devices in that future marketplace. Examples he showed were the Sony Duo 13-inch slider, the Dell XP 11, the Sony detachable – which only weighs 780 grams and handles both wired and wireless, and the Dell XP 12, which is a flip screen. An application from CyberLink will be provided on Haswell machines by the end of the year to energise content creation.

Skaugen handed over to Tami Reeler, Microsoft VP who discussed the Windows 8.1 released to developers. There was the usual sales story about how wonderful Windows 8 is.

In August, Windows 8 had the highest demand and sales, which was probably prompted by the back to school movement. She discussed Windows XP and its end of support in April 2014. She also claimed that “three quarters of the corporate users have moved to a modern Windows from Windows XP” – but she didn’t specify whether they were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x.

Tami Reeler talks Windows 8 with Kirk Skaugen

Intel says that it has the business community handled with fourth generation core CPUs, SST Pro 1500 SSD, location-based security in the enterprise, and its new Pro-WiDI plus password free VPN connections – which got a round of applause from the audience.

Mario Müller, VP of IT Infrastructure at BMW, was next to join Kirk Skaugen on stage. There was some banter about a new BMW for everybody in the audience. Müller said that 55,000 of its 120,000 employees will be getting core i5 computers, but none of the audience will be receiving a BMW, unfortunately.

Mario Müller and Kirk Skaugen discussing new BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car 

Skaugen returned to topic saying that Bay Trail has 140 design wins and it runs all operating systems faster – Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux. He talked about the Cinnabar benchmark using the fourth generation Broadwell 14 nm CPU. The chips will include AVX 3.2, DDR4 and PCI Express 4.0 support among their improved feature set.

Bay Trail SoCs are aimed at tablets and convertibles with screen sizes priced at $599 or below and will ship in tablets running Windows 8 and Android, ranging down to below $100 in price. When Chinese tablet OEMs start selling $100 price point 7-inch tablets with Bay Trail inside, then Intel will have to be taken very seriously by the ARM and MIPS partners.

Sony Duo slider as a tablet 

The discussions turned towards 3D. By Q2 2014, Intel predicts there will be collaboration over a 3D camera specification that will be implemented into Ultrabooks. We were told that Intel has had high numbers of downloads for its 3D SDK. It has the $100,000,000 Experience  and the Perceptual Computing Fund to work with.

Skaugen showed a 2D/3D camera that fits into the bezel of an Ultrabook. He gave an example of 3D functionality with a video showing children playing with an Ultrabook which had a 3D camera installed. Their expressions were of surprised joy.

3D developers should be glad to know that Project Anarchy is a free 3D game production engine and is ready to be downloaded and used.

Gonzague de Vallois, VP Sales and Marketing for Gameloft, showed off the company’s latest Android 3D auto racing game, referred to as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which takes advantage of Bay Trail and 3D graphics. At $4.99 it’s pretty affordable.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, for Android

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android Chrome & Apps at Google talked about the just-introduced Haswell CPU Chromebook and its stunning performance, extended battery life, and 3D capabilities. He also presented Doug Fisher from Intel’s Software and Services Group with an official Google Beanie cap – what a new hire at Google wears for their first days. After Pichai left the stage, Fisher said something about ‘that is a give away’.

Sundar Pichai gives Doug Fisher a Google Beanie

Over 1,000 Intel engineers are working on Google Android and Chrome.

Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25 percent of the $300-or-less computer segment. Clearly, Intel has embraced Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as a target market to put a lot of “Intel Inside”. 

Nvidia delays Project Shield

Nvidia’s handheld game-streaming device, Project Shield, is being delayed because of a few “mechanical” problems.

Shield’s critics say the ambitious project doesn’t make a great deal of sense for the price tag. The Android-based device’s main function is to stream PC games. Great,  but it has to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the host PC, the game has to be compatible, and you generally just have to stay pretty close to your computer.

Android games can be played whenever you like but, as early reviews of the Ouya box are highlighting, the Android market is too fragmented. Playing Grand Theft Auto on your phone is fine but bump this up to a bigger HD screen and the quality begins to suffer.

NVidia isn’t exactly competing with Sony and Nintendo. Its device is more of a complementary intrigue to dedicated PC gamers while Sony’s Vita and Nintendo’s DS, as well as the  Wii U controller, seem to understand their markets. But for someone interested in portable gaming, many people already have a good-enough Android phone for those games, and the console makers have dedicated platforms with their own exclusives. On the cheap, and outside of your wi-fi network.

With a modded Android device you can even easily sync up PS3 controllers.

Despite the above, some Nvidians are quite buzzed about the product, even if the rest of us aren’t sure why. It will be interesting to see the market response.

That market response should kick off some time in July, when the first shipments will go out. A day before the scheduled launch, Nvidia said it had discovered a “mechanical issue” in the device.

 

This is the second time that Nvidia has had to tinker with Shield. It recently cut the price from $349 to $299.

Paypal in hot water with indie developer

Lab Zero Games, which raised over $800,000 online  so they could make more content for indie fighting game Skullgirls, is finding that it is at odds with its unwanted business partner Paypal.

Most of the contributions to Lab Zero’s IndieGoGo campaign were paid via PayPal, but given the size of the amount, Paypal wanted the Skullgirls developers to “take on the risk” if a large number of backers decided not to actually pledge.

The studio could not guarantee this, of course, so Paypal simply froze the account, meaning that employees could not be paid.

All looked fairly grim. Lab Zero fought back with several complaints including one lodged with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As a result, Paypal agreed to open up the account, though they’re still holding $35,000 as “collateral”.

To be fair to Paypal, Lab Zero made a mistake when it decided to raise money to create a new character by having gamers vote on which one to build. After the result, some gamers who did not get the character they wanted threatened to withdraw their donation to the project.

According to Kotaku, Paypal did not want to be left having to issue shedloads of refunds for those who petulantly withdrew their investment because they did not get what they wanted.

As a result, Paypal has a lot of support for defending itself against the actions of the Fighting Game Community, even if it is a PR disaster.

As one gamer pointed out “Lab Zero, are the biggest victims here because of the whiny, spoiled, loudmouthed, useless Fighting Game Community” and another one pointed out that Paypal was protecting itself.

Still the situation has shown up weaknesses in using such financial systems to raise short term finance for IT projects. Suddenly you have a business partner that you did not expect calling the shots on some pretty important business decisions. 

Games developers arrested for spying in Greece

Two Czech games developers have been arrested for “spying” outside a Greek military base.

The pair were caught with photos and video of a military installation and arrested in the Greek island of Lemnos. This would normally be an open and shut case. After all, the whole world wants to know about Greek military technology which has not really changed much since the battle of Thermopylae – but is a bizarre source of national pride for a country that can’t afford to run one.

According to Edge, the two developers, aged 28 and 33, face up to twenty years in a Greek prison, which is a little harsh because the pair were working for video game developers Bohemia Interactive and were collecting reference material for ArmA III, an upcoming military game that is set on a Greek island.

Bohemia Interactive boss Marek Spanel confirmed that the story is true.

He issued a statement that these developers were in Greece on holiday and “visited the island with the sole purpose of experiencing the island’s beautiful surroundings”.

However, it does seem to be distancing itself a little from the filming activity of its developers.

In a statement, Bohemia Interactive said it has created games based only upon publicly available information and the software house always respects the law and has never instructed anybody to violate the laws of any country.

The company said that all its effort goes towards supporting the guys over there, as well as their friends and families. But then it comes out with a statement like: “We sincerely hope that this is an unfortunate misunderstanding of their passion as artists and creators of virtual worlds”.

Strange wording. It could be read as we really hope the developers we packed off to take pictures of Greek bases were not really spying. 

Life is a computer game to BBC news

The BBC made a real howler when it confused the logo for the United Nations Security Council with the United Nations Space Command.

For those who came in late, the United Nations Space Command is a feature of the Halo computer game.

Needless to say, Auntie was flooded with calls about the logo which appeared in an otherwise serious report about the conflict in Syria.

A BBC spokesman has now responded to the error, telling Eurogamer, that while the Beeb makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all images broadcast, occasionally mistakes do happen.

The image was not broadcast in later editions of the program, but, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it has been preserved for posterity on YouTube.

The beeb is not the only one. Eurogamer said that CanAsian Times  is currently using the same Halo logo in its own Syria coverage.

Computer games might violate human rights

The Red Cross is mulling over whether or not playing a computer game where the body count is higher than the annual Aztec Women’s Institute bring and buy sale, constitutes a human rights violation.

It’s wondering if online ‘warriors’ in Call of Duty should be forced to obey the Geneva convention, particularly as shoot-em-ups lack any surrender bar and if someone is wounded badly you usually finish them off.

According to the Daily Mail the Red Cross thinks that people will appreciate international humanitarian law more if  600 million gamers were forbidden to commit atrocities in the comfort of their own homes.

The committee’s action is aimed more towards developers, particularly as war games become more realistic. Its theory is that they have a responsibility to add humanitarian elements to their games.

Then that way if a player seems to be spending most of their time shooting civilians to see which way they fall, they could find that the game works against them.

Arguably the last time you saw the full horrors of people treating war like it was a computer game was in the last Balkan conflict and they learned very quickly that there would be a War Crimes trial to deal with. The way around that would be to always play the Americans who appear to be able to shoot what they like and whose government never allows them to attend a war crimes hearing.

The British Red Cross is preparing a statement. A spokesperson laughed when asked how much of the story was Mail Online hyperbole. We’re told the story is based on an informal chat at a fringe event in Geneva. The general gist is there – we’ll publish the reaction when it comes through.

Meanwhile, the British Red Cross has just released a first aid app to smartphone users around the world.

The free app features simple, easy-to-understand advice on 18 everyday first aid scenarios, as well as tips on how to prepare for emergencies, from severe winter weather to road traffic accidents.

It is available for Apple, Android and Blackberry and “allows” users to save lives at a swipe of their touchscreens, the Red Cross tells us.

To download the British Red Cross first aid app, use the Quick Response (QR) codes here or find it on iTunes AppStore, Android Market or Blackberry Appworld. 

Apple stuffs up Italian censorship

Jobs’ Mob is jolly proud of the fact that it has censored its walled garden, so that a nun would not be shocked by the state of its applications.

But it appears that the rigorous censorship only applies to games that are written in English, or whatever language passes for it in the US these days.

There is a game which is being circulated in Apple’s App store and is recommended for children – and it’s called Angry Bunga.

In the game you have to play Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as he tries to score under-age girls for one of his sex parties. The popular game involves bribing judges and avoiding the press.

Normally such games would attract the attention of Jobsian censors, but we think it avoided detection because Apple staff could not read the Italian instructions, recognise the cartoon image of Berlusconi, or generally work out what was going on.

Now while we are not in favour of any censorship, and find the game satirically amusing, we find it fairly hypocritical that Apple only censors games which would be offensive to Americans.

Berlusconi is a somewhat divisive character in Italy but not everyone wants to lob a cathedral at him.

He is on trial for under-age sex and corruption, but has not actually been convicted yet. It is odd that Apple censors think a game which alleges that a politician bribes judges so he can have underage sex is legit and the sort of game a child should play. 

*EyeSee Below is a quick screen grab, but we can safely say we have seen it in Italian.


Moderate Parents up in arms about School Shooter: North American Tour 2012

A computer game School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 seems to have attracted the attention of some of the more moderate US parent groups.

We can’t understand why. School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 allows kids to re-create Virginia Tech and Columbine High shootings from the security of their own basement.

The player is a disgruntled student armed with weapons used in the killings with the goal of shooting as many innocent unarmed people as their ammunition allows.

In a statement advocates at the Women’s Help Center in Cambria County said they are worried about “the message” the game sends to children.

Cathy Ritter, of the Women’s Help Center said that this type of a game sends a bad message to kids about tolerating violence and that this is OK when really it is not.

Ritter’s comments have to be the most mild we have seen in the “angry parent” stakes. Normally such games are flagged by parent’s groups as “murder training” so we have to admire her restraint.

A local telly company also found other concerned parents who were suprisingly moderate in their tone.

Derrick Knipple, a concerned parent told WJAC TV that he was surprised that a game like this could be released.

“I’m not knocking video games but some of the content really should be disregarded,” he said.

The game was posted on one website but was taken down because of criticism.

Developers at Checkboarded Studios say they are working on posting it on another site as a free download.

 

ASA and Consumer Direct open doors to 3DS complaints

The 3DS sickness palaver continues. The world and its wheezing, knackered old dog are leaping to Nintendo’s defence despite testimony TechEye has seen where consumers are uncomfortable with the fact the 3DS is making them… uncomfortable.

Some reports are leaping to refute claims that the 3DS has been returned due to sickness, however they have been sent out by, er, Nintendo, Game and HMV where the corporate line from a PR team has been duly reported as a fact.

The main problem here seems to be in the way the 3DS is being sold. Although at Game branches there is a try-before-you-buy unit available in-store, Nintendo adverts seem to downplay adverse effects that could be experienced through playing with the 3D switch on or at high levels.

What many consumers may not be aware of is the way the 3DS works – by using parallax to trick the eyes, with quickly flashing stripes, into seeing images emerge from the screen. It does place a strain on the eyes for some.

The defence is that no one should be gaming for an extended amount of time anyway. But realistically that’s not going to be the case – many kids are happy to stare at their systems for hours and would not take a break unless told to do so. Speaking to TechEye, the ASA tells us advertising can be “misleading by omission, or not putting in relevant information.”

“But in this case, we’d have to look at the facts before we made a decision. We don’t expect companies to put every little bit of info into their ads, and possibly the part about some people not being able to see 3D wouldn’t have to go in, as these people would know. The best thing to do if people aren’t happy is to make a formal complaint to us and we’ll look into it.”

A legal grey area arises because, although the complaints are there, and we have it under good authority that retailers are receiving returns specifically for comfort reasons, the 3DS may not technically fall under the category of faulty.

The Office of Fair Trading tells us that it’s a criminal offence for a trader to sell unsafe consumer goods. Like with the ASA, “it would be advisable for consumers to report instances to Consumer Direct as they would be able to refer any potential safety matters to Trading Standards, who may wish to take further action if there is need to do so”.

Is the product at “fault” if it does what it says on the box? The 3DS does issue warnings in the small print and it does deliver 3D. The Office of Fair Trading tells TechEye: “Customers could claim that there is a fault with a product if it made them ill, but the trader would probably request evidence of this.

“The customer may wish to gather evidence to support the claim including independent verification, for example, a doctor’s note.”

Google bans GameStop-backed Flash games app

Google has caused a major rift with GameStop over the removal of its Kongregate Arcade game app from the Android Market, despite many believing that Google would support it.

The app was developed by game firm Kongregate, which is owned by GameStop. The app featured 300 Flash games, with more planned for release over time. It was also to be widely promoted by GameStop in its retail stores.

Within hours of its arrival in the Android Market it was removed by Google, with the reason being that it had broken submission rules. Google considered the app as an app store, which is against its Market rules.

Kongregate’s CEO, Jim Greer, said that his company’s app is not really an app store, since it offers all of its games for free. He said he is shocked at its removal, because he had already shown the app to several people at Google before its release, suggesting that it had been given an internal nod of approval.

He also thought Google would support the project since it features hundreds of Flash-based games, free of charge, which would give it an edge on Apple’s devices, none of which allow Flash. Google’s close relationship with Adobe since the Apple Flash ban clearly wasn’t enough to see the Kongregate Arcade approved.

It’s not difficult to see why Google removed the app, as it clearly does not want other app markets becoming more popular than its own, even if they feature entirely free games. At the same time, Amazon is releasing its own Android Market, which will take people away from Google’s official one resulting in Google, in essence, contradicting its own rules.

Consumers could have benefited from the competition, which would have particularly suited Android’s open platform. Kongregate doesn’t lose out completely though, because the operating system’s open source nature means users can download the app from the company’s website.