| 1 day ago
| 1 day ago
So you want to play games on your Android TV set, but you'd rather not shell out for a gamepad? You might not have to in the near future. Google has revealed that an upcoming update to Google Play Services will let you use your Android mobile devices as controllers for Android TV games. If you want to start a four-way race or shooting match, you'll only have to ask friends to pull their phones out of their pockets. You'll have to wait for developers to use the technology before you can start playing, but that patience could pay off if it spares you from buying controllers that will likely spend most of their life gathering dust.
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Game development is expensive. It's not a question of the tools costing too much; game engines like Unity and GameMaker Studio offer free versions, and paid versions aren't far out of reach. That's a recent development, though. When the last generation of game consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii) ruled the roost, the Unreal Engine was both ubiquitous and costly. Its latest iteration, Unreal Engine 4, is widely used, but has taken a sideline to free offerings from the likes of Unity. The engine's maker, Epic Games, isn't sitting idly by and letting the competition take over, though: as of this morning, Unreal Engine 4 is free for all to use.
It's the day many, many virtual reality developers have been waiting for: finally, a way to sell VR games to people with VR headsets. Namely, Oculus and Samsung's collaboration on the Gear VR headset is bearing digital fruit in the form of a digital store. In short: you can finally buy and sell games on Samsung's VR headset. That's a bigger deal than it sounds, as Gear VR's store has been riddled with little more than tech and game demos since its launch late last year. We've been anxious for deeper experiences, and many developers have been withholding those experiences for a time when they could actually make money on their work. Let the floodgates open!
It looks like 2015 could be a big year for competitive gaming in the UK. Just weeks after we found out where the UK's first eSports arena will be located, Britain's biggest video game retailer GAME has confirmed it's getting into the tournament business. The company announced today that it's spent £20 million to acquire Multiplay, a community-driven games company that focuses on live events, gaming services and eSports.
Ever since I experienced a live 3D virtual reality broadcast for the first time, I've been giving demos of the technology to anyone who will sit still long enough for me to put a Gear VR on their head. Across the board, the reactions have included at least two things: "this is amazing" and "can you move around like you're really there?" Now, NextVR says the answer to that question is yes, since it's adding "Light Field" (aka plenoptic) capture technology to existing rigs (like this 6K unit shown above) that will let viewers look around the scene with full six degrees of freedom. This is similar to the tech Lytro uses for its cameras that lets you change focus after a picture is taken -- and just got a $50 million investment to implement on VR. According to NextVR, its patented approach creates a 3D geometric model of the scene (shown after the break) ready for headsets like the Oculus Rift, Sony's Project Morpheus or even augmented reality units like Microsoft's HoloLens or Magic Leap's... whatever it is.
The original Gear VR headset actually made a little headway, even getting picked up by Best Buy. Its main barrier to entry, aside from its $199 price point, is limited device compatibility: If you don't have a Galaxy Note 4, you can't use the Gear VR. With Samsung today launching not one, but two flagship smartphones, the number of VR-compatible smartphones from Samsung has just tripled. Presenting the aptly named Gear VR Innovator Edition for Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.
Of all the things we expected HTC to talk about at its MWC press conference, a design-focused virtual reality headset built in partnership with Valve definitely wasn't on the short list. It's called the HTC Vive and the two companies working on making it a reality call it the most immersive, most premium VR experience you'll be able to find on the market. We know what you're thinking, and yes: This is really happening. If all goes according to plan, the initial developer version of the Vive will trickle out into the community sometime this spring with a full consumer launch to follow during the holidays.
Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.
How Madden Ratings are Made
by Neil Paine
If you've ever played a Madden title, at some point, you've questioned how player ratings are compiled. Heck, players are even critical of their own scores. Well, the stats experts over at FiveThirtyEight dive deep on the matter, offering a load of background information and a method for compiling and grading your own abilities... or lack thereof.
Many RPGs have more than one ending, but even then you still have limited ways to control the story or to interact with the characters. Disney Research, however, wants to make real interactive games -- ones where your actions can affect how it progresses and ends -- so it has created a platform that can help developers do so more easily than if they use traditional tools. This platform makes it simpler for creators to spin as many story arcs as they want that can be triggered any time by your actions. It also automatically detects and fixes conflicts in the storyline that you'll inevitably cause as you interact with the characters. Take the bears in the video below the fold, for example.