It's a dog-eat-dog world, and the tech industry is no exception. Given the break-neck speed of innovation, today's game changers are tomorrow's dinosaurs. It takes dogged determination to stand out in a crowded market, and as always we're turning to you to determine the latest winners and losers. That's right, it's time to nominate the best and worst technological advancements of 2014. We've given you a head start with a few suggestions, but feel free to write in your own in the ballots below. You don't have to make nominations in every category, but selections should be for products available in 2014. Nominations close Wednesday, March 11th at 11:59PM ET.
So, who has what it takes to be best in show? We'll announce the winners during a very special awards ceremony on March 25th. Let's just say the competition is rrrrruff ...
It usually takes millions of dollars, a decade and hundreds of developers to create a single massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. This is the standard in the gaming industry. Smaller studios generally don't have the resources to create huge, persistent games, and larger ones have shut down and bankrupted entire states while trying to craft MMO worlds. A lot of the hurdles in building MMOs lie within the supporting tech -- running servers that handle complex mechanics 24/7/365, maxing those out and buying more, all while solving problems of latency and persistence. Making the worlds feel real for all players, at all times.
Nintendo's digital store is beefing up with some top-notch independent titles in the coming months, and the company showed off a few familiar games during a presentation at GDC 2015. We're talking games headed to the Wii U eShop that have already launched on other platforms, including Klei Entertainment's Tim Burton-esque survival game, Don't Starve: Reign of Giants, Young Horses' PS4 launch title Octodad: Dadliest Catch and the beautiful, educational platformer Never Alone from Upper One Games. Our list below includes the freshly announced Wii U games and a bit of information about each one, so you can make platform decisions in peace.
I did not get motion sickness when I demoed Sony's new and improved Project Morpheus VR headset at GDC this week in San Francisco. And that's saying a lot considering my sweaty outcome at a private E3 demo last year. But I did get somewhat hurt while using it. Blame it on the shark. I banged my head into a wall while whimpering and trying to avoid the jaws of a menacing virtual version of, well, Jaws. It's proof that compelling VR is powerful; powerful enough to send you slamming into nearby walls with a smile plastered on your face.
The HTC Vive might've stolen some of Samsung's thunder, but it bears reminding that the latter did announce a new VR headset earlier this week. Sure, the Gear VR for the Galaxy S6 is only slightly different from the original Note 4 edition, but even minor tweaks can spell big improvement. It's smaller, lighter, has a wider focus margin and there's a new strap design that promises to make the headset much more comfortable than before. I had a chance to give it a spin earlier this week and I also talked to Max Cohen, VP of mobile at Oculus, to get his take on the new hardware, possible future updates and, of course, his opinion on the HTC Vive.
Greg Zeschuk, the man that co-founded BioWare and shepherded the development of now classic franchises like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, left the gaming industry for good more than two years ago. Yet, despite that apparent retirement, he was back on the show floor at GDC in San Francisco to show off Biba, one of his many part-time side projects. Don't worry. Zeschuk's main passion remains beer, beer and more beer. But he's also committed to using his influence and financial resources for more altruistic endeavors.
Rare Ltd., the storied game developer Microsoft bought off Nintendo for a hefty sum at the beginning of the century, has started to stir again. After years of developing poorly received motion-control games like Kinect Sports, all while members of the original staff left for other studios, rumors were swirling that the team will return to its classic series from the '90s. Conker, the foul-mouthed star of Conker's Bad Fur Day on Nintendo 64, actually popped up as a guest star in Xbox One game creator Project Spark. Just today a Reddit poster, verified as a former Microsoft employee, said that the company has been trying to get a new Conker game off the ground for some time. No time like the present to dig into Conker: Live & Reloaded for the original Xbox on JxE Streams.
Nobuo Uematsu is distinguished amongst game soundtrack composers not just because of his work for Squaresoft in the '80s and '90s or his lustrous mustache. He's one of the few songwriters responsible for the way video games sound across the board, influencing other creators over 30 years. Square's Final Fantasy series, on which Uematsu was sole or primary composer for the first 10 games, molded how storytelling in games should sound. The synthesized minor key melody of series theme "Prelude," the ambient wash of Final Fantasy VII's "Opening/Bombing Mission," and hundreds of other songs are landmarks in gaming's aural landscape.
When donning a VR headset, it's easy to be awestruck by whatever 3D world you find yourself in. It's a whole new medium that simply can't be replicated on a TV. Still, there are reasons the likes of Oculus and Sony aren't selling headsets to the masses just yet. While Samsung's Gear VR and other smartphone-powered headwear are filling the void, headsets that tap into the processing might of PCs and consoles will ultimately deliver the most immersive experiences. But, the technology isn't quite there yet. Stereoscopic 3D can be jarring, with complicated worlds often appearing slightly out of focus. Then there are issues like nausea that can strike when moving through virtual surroundings. Also, how we interact with virtual spaces will continue to evolve, moving beyond the gamepad and keyboard to more natural and hopefully intuitive methods of control.