Archive for the ‘Gaming & Culture’ Category

Sony stops selling digital game codes at physical retailers

March 26th, 2019
Sony stops selling digital game codes at physical retailers

(credit: Aurich x Getty)

PlayStation 4 owners who like buying downloadable game codes directly from brick-and-mortar stores will soon be out of luck. That's because Sony has confirmed to The Verge that it will stop selling such downloadable codes through physical retailers starting on April 1.

The report confirms a Wario64 tweet from last week, which quoted a GameStop memo saying, "Sony full game digital downloads will only be available for purchase through the PlayStation marketplace" after April 1. Days Gone and Mortal Kombat 11 will be the sole full-game exceptions to this policy, according to the memo, though DLC and season passes will still be available for direct purchase. It's currently unclear if Web-based retailers like Amazon will be affected by the decision.

Retail availability of digital game codes was especially useful for players who didn't or couldn't use a credit card on the PlayStation Network storefront. Buying digital codes through a retailer also let customers make use of trade-in credit from used physical games and take advantage of other retailer promotions without requiring the purchase of a physical disc.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in download, gamesto, Gaming & Culture, physical, PSN, retail, Sony | Comments (0)

Apple finally enters TV streaming space with new Apple TV+ service

March 25th, 2019
Apple finally enters TV streaming space with new Apple TV+ service

Enlarge

CUPERTINO, Calif.—It's been a long time and many rumors coming, but Apple has finally unveiled its streaming video service. Dubbed Apple TV+, the service combines some aspects of existing players in the space like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

The originals

At the vanguard of Apple TV+ is Apple's own original programming. The company reportedly spent $1 billion developing TV shows and films to include on the service. Upon announcing the streaming service, Apple showed a video featuring the numerous creators it worked with to create original content for the service—filmmakers including Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, as well as actors and actresses including Reese Witherspoon and Octavia Spencer.

These creators and actors serve as the foundation for Apple TV+, thanks to all the original content they have created (and will continue to create) for the service. Steven Spielberg took Apple's stage to talk about the reboot of Amazing Stories, a sci-fi anthology series that Spielberg hopes will "transport the audience with every episode."

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in apple, Apple TV, Gaming & Culture, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple unveils Apple Arcade subscription service for iOS, Mac, Apple TV games

March 25th, 2019
Apple unveils Apple Arcade subscription service for iOS, Mac, Apple TV games

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—Apple today announced a new subscription service called Apple Arcade for games on its platforms, including iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Apple TV. The service will debut "this fall." Its exact price has not yet been confirmed.

The paid-subscription service will include games "unavailable on any other mobile service," Apple confirmed, and it will launch with "over 100 new and exclusive games." A sizzle reel of flashy games appeared at today's Apple event, and it largely focused on indie games that haven't yet launched on either traditional or mobile platforms yet. One notable exception: there was a brief shot of an apparently unannounced Sonic the Hedgehog game.

By paying the subscription fee, players will have access to all games for as long as they want with no limits or microtransactions attached. Shared family accounts will have access to the titles and parental controls for no additional charge. And the service's multi-device support extends to letting iOS gamers suspend an Apple Arcade game on their phone, then resume playing it on another device, or vice versa.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in App Store, apple, Apple Games, gaming, Gaming & Culture, iOS games, mobile games, Tech | Comments (0)

Report: Nintendo planning two new Switch models

March 25th, 2019
Report: Nintendo planning two new Switch models

Enlarge

Nintendo has plans to release two new models of the Nintendo Switch "as early as this summer," according to a Wall Street Journal report citing "parts suppliers and software developers for Nintendo."

One model would be a higher-end system with enhanced hardware akin to the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, though not as powerful as either, according to the report. The other would be a "cheaper option" intended to replace the aging Nintendo 3DS, whose sales have finally started to collapse.

This cheaper Switch would reportedly cut costs by losing features such as controller vibration. That's a move which would render portions of games such as 1-2-Switch and Super Mario Party unplayable, but Nintendo "judged the new Switch models won't need the vibration feature because there wouldn't be many games released using the full benefit of it," according to a quoted supplier.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, plans, Switch | Comments (0)

The soldier who removed his own bladder stone, and other medical history marvels

March 24th, 2019
A patient receiving dental treatment, circa 1892. There were several cases of "exploding teeth" in the 19th century that remain unexplained to this day.

Enlarge / A patient receiving dental treatment, circa 1892. There were several cases of "exploding teeth" in the 19th century that remain unexplained to this day. (credit: Oxford Science Archive/Getty Images)

While researching his 2017 book on the history of heart surgery, medical journalist Thomas Morris perused hundreds of journals from the 19th century. One day, a headline on the page opposite the one he was reading caught his eye: "sudden protrusion of the whole of the intestines into the scrotum." It was a bizarre case from the 1820s, involving a laborer run over by a brick-laden cart. The resulting hernia forced his intestines into his scrotum, and yet the laborer made a full recovery.

Once he got over his initial amused revulsion, Morris was struck by the sheer ingenuity displayed by doctors in treating the man's condition. And he found plenty of other similar bizarre cases as he continued his research, with people surviving truly horrifying injuries—a testament to the resiliency of the human body. "Doctors, even when they had less than a tenth of the knowledge we do today in terms of treating major trauma, could still come up with innovative and ingenious solutions to acute problems," he said.

Many of the most interesting medical cases Morris uncovered are featured in his hugely entertaining compendium of medical oddities, The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth, and Other Curiosities From the History of Medicine. Regular readers of his blog (tagline: "making you grateful for modern medicine") will revel in stories about a sword-swallowing sailor, a soldier who removed his own bladder stone, a man with combustible belches, a woman who peed through her nose, and a boy who inhaled a bird's larynx and started honking like a goose. All are delivered in elegant prose, punctuated with the author's distinctive dry wit. Morris has collected 500 or so of these frequently jaw-dropping cases thus far, and only included 70 or so in the book. So a sequel (or two) isn't out of the question

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in books, Gaming & Culture, History, history of science, medicine, science | Comments (0)

I played 11 Assassin’s Creed games in 11 years, and Odyssey made them all worth it

March 24th, 2019

I've been a dedicated fan of the Assassin's Creed video game franchise for 11 years. It hasn't always been a happy relationship. While the early games captured my imagination and introduced me to whole new modes of gameplay, the series' middle years were laden with misfires, feature bloat, and other serious problems.

I often look at fans raging against the companies that make their favorite franchises—Bethesda or Blizzard are the two most common targets I see—and shake my head in bewilderment. "If you hate their work so much, why don't you just play something else and let everyone else enjoy their games? It's not like there's a shortage of great games to try," I say.

But as I looked back on more than a decade of playing Assassin's Creed games to write this article, I for the first time kind of understood loving something so much that its stumbles make you feel not just disappointed, but a little mad.

Read 73 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Assassin's creed, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Features, Gaming & Culture, Ubisoft | Comments (0)

Hold onto your butts: A tour through Kualoa Ranch, aka real world Jurassic Park

March 23rd, 2019

KĀNEʻOHE, Hawaii—For a first time visitor driving up from Kailua along HI-83, it felt like that John Williams’ “Main Theme” should’ve been playing the entire time as we watched the Hawaiian landscape reveal itself. Then we arrived—and learned we had signed up to tour the actual Jurassic Park.

I have it on good authority that a certain Ars staffer may or may not have appeared in the background of park scenes in 2015’s Jurassic World. In reality, those particular sequences happened at an abandoned theme park outside of New Orleans on a production set. But it turns out the lush nature and endless greenery seen in both the original and the latest Jurassic Park iterations happens to be very genuine and very open to the public for those that can make it to Kualoa Ranch.

Located on the eastern coast of Oahu, Kualoa Ranch spans 4,000 acres of nature preserve. It boasts so many different microclimates and environments that it can rain in one portion of the place while being bone dry in another. It has such stunning scenery that a freaking Motorola phone from 2014 will take photos that look like movie stills at a glance. And because of those two factors—a private remote setting, effortless visual beauty—Kualoa has become a popular destination for big budget productions. Everything from Jurassic World to Battleship to Jumanji (2017) has worked here in recent years (and gems like The Karate Kid or Krippendorf's Tribe did in the past). Evidently Triple Frontier had just been at Kualoa filming one particular cliffside escape scene, utilizing an artificially created three-foot high cliff for safety.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Ars gallery, films, Gaming & Culture, Godzilla, Jurassic World, kong skull island | Comments (0)

Google’s multiyear quest to overcome id’s Stadia streaming skepticism

March 23rd, 2019
Google Stadia's controller.

Enlarge / Google Stadia's controller. (credit: Google)

SAN FRANCISCO—Back in 2016, when Google first approached id Software about bringing some games to a potential new streaming service, the game developer was skeptical to say the least. "The proposal immediately bumped against our main bias," id Senior Programmer Dustin Land said during a talk at this week's Game Developers Conference. "Streaming adds latency to the thing we desperately want to remove latency from."

Fast forward more than two years, and id was proudly on stage this week showing a version of Doom Eternal running on Google's newly announced Stadia streaming platform. But getting from that initial skepticism to that grand unveiling wasn't always an easy process, Land said.

Getting to yes

For years, Land said, Google had been watching their YouTube analytics, waiting for a big enough group of users to reach the point where their connections would be able to handle game streaming. By September of 2016, Google thought the broadband market was mature enough to give it a try, and the company approached id for some real-world help with game testing.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Doom, Gaming & Culture, google, id Software, stadia, streaming gaming | Comments (0)

Board game review: Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

March 23rd, 2019
Board game review: Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

Enlarge

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

Our 16 games of Werewolf sprawled across 20 hours and two lengthy play sessions. They began well enough, with enthusiastic people enjoying each other's company, keen to backstab, betray, and devour their fellow participants. Villagers—and the occasional werewolf—were hanged, and each person’s hands were bloodied. Yes, this was the decade-old social deduction game we all knew well—but now with sealed boxes, fistfuls of stickers, and a huge leather tome for the moderator to scribble in.

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy takes an old concept and pairs it with newfangled “legacy” game mechanisms. This means components are permanently altered—mostly the moderator's diary—and decisions are made that impact future plays. In other words, it's a campaign game with irreversible decisions, promising all the drama that premise entails. 

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ars cardboard, Board games, Gaming & Culture, Werewolf | Comments (0)

Valve Software dreams of analyzing your brainwaves to tailor in-game rewards

March 22nd, 2019
Valve Software's Mike Ambinder offers a joking photo of what people think his job as Principal Experimental Psychologist looks like. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell was not on hand to confirm or deny Valve's use of power tools on his head.

Enlarge / Valve Software's Mike Ambinder offers a joking photo of what people think his job as Principal Experimental Psychologist looks like. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell was not on hand to confirm or deny Valve's use of power tools on his head. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

SAN FRANCISCO—Valve Software's famously "flat" structure means most of its game-making staffers have vague titles. One of the few exceptions is its Principal Experimental Psychologist, who presented a futuristic gaming vision at this year's Game Developers Conference—in particular, he made a few peculiar admissions about how Valve might one day study your brain activity in the middle of a game and what the company might do with it.

Before speaking, Valve Software's Mike Ambinder laid out a very loud disclaimer about GDC's "vision" track of panels: "This is supposed to be speculative," he said. "This is one possible direction things could go." Even with that caveat in mind, Ambinder's choice of details is interesting to sink our teeth into, especially coming from a company that seems to offer more speculation about the future of gaming than it does actual applications of it (i.e. new games).

The slot machine of your mind?

The above and below images of Ambinder goofing off with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell weren't just for yuks: "Every talk I've given, this reliably gets a laugh. Think about that. What if we could elicit reliable reactions [from video games] and determine we were doing so?"

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Gaming & Culture, GDC, gdc 2019, Valve Software | Comments (0)