One thing that always seems to cause anger and frustration among gamers is when publishers choose to price digital and physical versions of a game the same. It’s quite obvious why this shouldn’t be the case. The physical version includes an actual disc, packaging, needs to be transported to a store, and is a safer purchase because you own a physical disc with the game on. Digital copies are just a download, much cheaper to produce, and can only be downloaded as long as a server exists with the game files available.
You’ll see many games priced lower in digital form, but not Nintendo’s titles. In fact, it looks as though you never will. CEO Satoru Iwata has said that Nintendo will continue to keep price parity between physical and digital versions of a game. Why? Because it’s about the value of the software apparently.
Nintendo keeps the price the same because the perceived value of the game you are playing is the same. The company does not take into account how that game is delivered or how much it costs to deliver. A $60 title is worth that much because of the experience being offered.
Such thinking will keep this gamer, and I suspect many other gamers, buying physical over digital versions of Nintendo’s games. Nintendo also keeps the price of its physical copies high through their lifetime, but they do drop in sales occasionally, and ultimately they are better value at the same price point as a digital version.
One bit of relief may come in the form of the Club Nintendo replacement due to launch later this year. Nintendo is promising member benefits, but hasn’t yet explained how those benefits will vary and whether purchasing digital copies of games will get you more rewards.
Batman: Arkham Knight on PC is a mess. Any gamer purchasing it on release day last week could tell you that and the Internet was soon abuzz with complaints, Steam refunds, and details of just how many ways the game was broken. Publisher Warner Bros. decided to pull the game from sale, suggested owners request a refund, and went away to figure out how and what to fix first.
We’re now a week on from that disastrous launch and Warner has admitted there is significant work to do to fix the PC version, and those fixes won’t be done quickly. No release date/window has been given for the major patch the game requires, but minor patches fixing some of the issues are expected regularly over the coming days and weeks.
Warner decided to outsource development of Arkham Knight on PC to third-party developer Iron Galaxy Studios. However, it looks as though Rocksteady Studios (who didn’t mess up the PS4 and Xbox One versions) is taking the lead role in fixing the PC version, although “partners” are mentioned as being involved.
So what exactly needs to be fixed? Here’s a list of the major bugs posted on the Arkham Knight forums:
Support for frame rates above 30FPS in the graphics settings menu
Fix for low resolution texture bug
Improve overall performance and frame rate hitches
Add more options to the graphics settings menu
Improvements to hard drive streaming and hitches
Address full screen rendering bug on gaming laptop
Improvements to system memory and VRAM usage
NVIDIA SLI bug fixes
Enabling AMD Crossfire
NVIDIA and AMD updated drivers
It has also been stressed that although PC patches are a priority, the console versions are not being ignored. Regular updates will appear for the PS4 and Xbox One versions that fix any issues gamers have encountered.
It seems likely that we won’t see a PC version of Arkham Knight offered for sale for several months. In fact, it could end up reappearing just in time to compete with all the new games launching for the holiday season. That’s not great, and I expect Warner has already written off any kind of profit being generated from the re-release.
Everyone has their favorite Mario game, and mine is Super Mario 64 on the N64. I didn’t enjoy Super Mario Sunshine anywhere near as much, and know I am in the minority when I say I really did not like the Super Mario Galaxy games. My perfect Mario game would be a re-imagining of Super Mario 64 on modern hardware using a mature game engine, and a modder looks to be making that come true, at least in demo form.
YouTube user Aryoksini is clearly a big fan of Super Mario 64. Early last year he posted footage on YouTube of a Super Mario 64 remake using the Blender Game Engine. He’s also spent time implementing the animations Mario requires to run around and do his signature jumping moves. That work has paid off, as his latest project sees Mario injected into an Unreal Engine game, complete with a number of stunning locations.
Mario does look out of place in some of these scenes, appearing far too simple for the environments he’s running and jumping through. But still, it shows what is possible for a modern Mario game using the same game mechanics of the classic Super Mario 64.
Aryoksini used environment assets available from the Unreal Engine marketplace to create the scenes, combined them with his own Mario animations, and relied on the simple Unreal blueprints scripting system to get the demo working. It shows you just how mature modern game engines and their tools are that he could do this without any programming being required.
Is an official Super Mario 64 remake ever likely to happen? I doubt it, but I can guarantee Nintendo a lot of positive feedback from fans if they ever did decide to re-imagine this game. I’d also point out that we’d pretty much given up on Final Fantasy VII ever being remade, so never say never.
Just before E3 kicked off this year a rumor started making the rounds that Mark Cerny had been put in charge of finishing development of The Last Guardian. Cerny is well known within Sony for not only being the lead architect of the PS4 hardware, but also for PS Vita. He also has a long history of helping to create some of the most popular games including entries in the Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, and Uncharted series.
The rumor was a big embellishment of what the facts actually are. Cerny is in high demand across Sony’s development teams because nobody knows the PS4 and PS Vita hardware better. He led design of the platforms, after all. So The Last Guardian team, like many others, turn to Cerny for advice and guidance on how to get the best out of the PS4. It also helps he knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to gameplay.
The Last Guardian is being developed by an internal team at Sony’s Japan Studios. Mark Cerny is available for advice and to answer questions. That’s it. On the final credits it looks likely he’ll be listed as “Design Consultant” as he has been on many other games, such as Killzone 3, God of War III, and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction to name but a few.
Terminator: Genisys isn’t just the first in a new trilogy of killer robot movies, but the opening salvo in a whole new cross-platform assault. In addition to the film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Byung-hun Lee, and JK Simmons, which opens on July 1, a television series is also in the works.
Skydance CEO David Ellison said that the series is currently being developed. While no story details were given, Ellison did say that Skydance wants to build this world across multiple platforms from films and TV to video games and comic books. He added that each experience should work on its own, but also add to the larger world. “Our gut aspiration would be a cable-driven show for something like Terminator,” Ellison added. Though not officially stated, it seems like he and Skydance COO Dana Goldberg are looking at a 13-episode season.
The news might seem to have bubbled to life out of nowhere, but it was actually first mentioned back in 2013 as an Agents of SHIELD-style companion series to the new Terminator franchise kicking off with Genisys. At the time, the show was said to explore an element from the original 1984 film not just in greater detail, but down different paths. Thor and X-Men: First Class writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller were involved back then, but they were not mentioned this time around.
The new series would mark the second foray into live action television for the killer robot series. The first, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, ran on Fox for two seasons with Miller and Stentz as writers. Though it performed well, Fox cancelled the series in 2009. Many thought it got the axe in favor of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, which did not do as well in the ratings as a make-good for Firefly. Studio execs at the time cited budget and ratings as the reason for cancellation.
This time around the franchise shepherds have many more options for the new show from streaming outlets like Netflix and cable networks to basic cable offerings. It seems like a safe bet, though, that they won’t set the new show at Fox.
Suicide Squad director David Ayer wants his cast to take the deep dive into crazy criminal psychosis, he just wants to make sure they can swim back out after filming wraps. According to actor Adam Beach, who plays Slipknot in the DC Comics-inspired film, there’s a kind of life coach on set to help make sure the actorsÂ don’t get too far into character when it comes to embodying some of the most insane villains in the DC Universe.
After explaining that Ayer wants to make the film and the characters as realistically tormented as possible, Beach added that a friend of the director’s — who is not a psychotherapist, Beech notes — is around to help bring them back to reality. “We kind of have like a therapist on board if you fall off the wagon and really are villainous,” he said. “There’s a friend of [Ayer’s] that’s very unique in making sure we have our ground.”
In the film, Jared Leto plays the Joker, though how big of a role he plays remains to be seen as he’s neither in the group shot above nor appeared on set with his fellow actors just yet. However, the actor has gone method sending odd packages to cast members: a live rat to Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), bullets to Will Smith (Deadshot), and a dead hog for the whole cast.
It’s impossible to overlook the fact that Heath Ledger, who so perfectly embodied the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, also went the method route in preparing for the part. He went so far as to lock himself in a hotel room for a month and fill a journal with thoughts on the character. Some believe that the immersion into that twisted mind in some way lead to the actor’s accidental overdose of prescription medications on January 22, 2008.
Beach seems to appreciate the on-set mental help saying that these traversals into darker mentalities can be difficult, but that the on-set presence “wants to make sure we finish a movie and don’t disappear somewhere and then don’t show up for work.”
What if you could receive a potentially life-saving medication on time every day without injections or taking pills? That may be possible sooner than you think thanks to an MIT spinoff company called Microchips Biotech. The firm has developed an implantable microchip that can hold hundreds of doses of medication, delivered automatically to treat illness. This isn’t a pipedream, either — it’s already been successfully tested and is now being developed into a real product.
The microchips contain tiny individual reservoirs the size of a pinhead, each with a single dose of medication that may treat diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, or some other chronic disease. Each capsule is covered by a metal membrane that is removed by a tiny electric impulse at set intervals. It can be programmed wirelessly to change the deployment schedule as needed as well.
Previous tests of the chip with osteoporosis sufferers showed very similar dose response compared to injections, and there was no problem with adherence to doctor’s orders, of course. You can’t forget to take your pills when the pills were implanted inside your body months or years ago on a timer. Patients failing to follow a therapeutic regimen is a surprisingly serious issue in healthcare. In the US alone, failing to take prescribed medication on the proper schedule results in $100-289 billion of additional health care costs each year.
Microchips Biotech is partnering with Teva Pharmaceutical, which paid $35 billion for access to the technology, to bring the chips to market. Making these chips viable required new manufacturing methods that take into account the delicate nature of many drugs. For example, sealing the reservoirs needed to be done at room temperature as soldering or micro-welding could destroy the drugs. The company developed a clever tongue and groove cold-welding process wherein a gold alloy was used to create tongues on the cover and grooves on the base. By pressing the two together, the two structures mesh together and plastically deform to create a seal.
The final design will still need to go through regulatory approval, but it may be possible before long to get more than a decade of medication implanted in a single procedure. Perhaps you’ll even be able to trigger drug release with your phone, assuming possible security issues can be worked out. You certainly don’t want someone hacking your medical implants.
Earlier this year the upper ranks of Nintendo’s management decided it was time to embrace mobile games and freemium content. But as is typical with Nintendo, they intend to tackle these markets and games in their own way.
The first game to embrace this revenue model was Pokemon Shuffle on the 3DS. Satoru Iwata insists that this and other games Nintendo has lined up are not free-to-play. Instead, they are free-to-start, which is a better descriptor to be fair. You can start playing, and continue playing for free, but there are certain limits (limited lives, timers, currency) that can be overcome by spending some real-world cash on a regular basis.
Pokemon Shuffle must have gone down well, as Nintendo has announced it is set to release the title on non-Nintendo hardware. Notably, both iOS and Android app stores will be getting the game later this year.
Shuffle is basically a Candy Crush clone and therefore when combined with the ever-popular Pokemon IP should do very well on mobile devices. It’s fair to predict Nintendo will make millions from it due to the massive userbase going mobile unlocks, but also fair to expect some parents to be surprised and angry when they see how much their kids are spending in the game.
Pokemon games have never had in-app purchases before, and Shuffle isn’t exactly cheap. The 3DS version charges $0.99 for a single jewel, $8.99 for a 12, or $47.99 for 75. That pricing probably won’t change for the mobile versions. There’s also a second currency you can purchase in the form of coins, which can also be slowly win by playing.
The makers of the popular anti-malware software Malwarebytes have a bit a piracy problem on their hands. Instead of looking at it as a problem (as most companies would) they decided to approach it as an opportunity.
Instead of trying to punish pirates, Malwarebytes is extending an olive branch. They’re calling it an “amnesty program,” and here’s what they’ll be doing. They’re going to offer free product keys to anyone who uses their software who might have obtained their current key through less-than-official channels.
It doesn’t matter if you paid an unscrupulous seller for a shady key or if you happened upon a Malwarebytes key posted on an underground forum. They’ll give you a 100% legit key and let you activate Malwarebytes Premium at no cost. The license is good for a 12-month subscription, so the hope is that former pirates will grab a legit key, use it, and then decide that Malwarebytes is worthy of a few bucks a year.
AV Test Labs seems to think it is. Malwarebytes is still a relatively new challenger to more well-known apps like Norton and Kaspersky, but it’s already posted some impressive marks in comparative tests.
Now, some pirates won’t care about being offered “amnesty.” Some of these users are people who already found a way to get the software without paying, after all. It’s not like Malwarebytes has anything to lose by making an attempt to bring them back into the fold, though, since there’s a good chance they’d just pirate again, jump ship for another app that was easy to pirate, or fall back to a free AV like Avast! or AVG.
Flowers and “insect hotels” are cropping up all across the city of Oslo as part of a local initiative to build the world’s first “bee highway.” Dotted throughout the city companies and government bodies are providing hive-minded pit-stops and shelters for the world’s pollinators to move safely across the once barren city.
The “bee highway” has been mapped-out on a website, which shows shelter points, and places that were once grassy food desserts for bees, have now been converted into floral food-stops. The program is led by Bybi, a group that concentrates its efforts in supporting urban bee populations. Participants that stand with Bybi range from state bodies to private home-owners — all looking to do their part on a local level to help progress global change. Some companies have even taken significant action, providing dedicated homes for these bees on the rooftop terraces of corporate buildings, complete with plants seeking pollinators.
As mankind has continued to reshape the world for our own benefits, we forget to consider those that share our world and how these changes may be detrimental to their survival. Bees, of course, help pollinate much of the food we need to survive. It’s estimated that somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of food production relies on pollination.
In the US, the situation has become so bad that some farmers need to rent bees for hire — hives are transported across the country, just so their crops can get pollinated. But even so, commercial bee populations are seeing a huge declineÂ —Â 31 percent alone in 2012. Researchers have said pesticides are partially to blame for the rapid decline, while others are working to track bee behavior to understand the finer reasons for the rapid changes taking place among colonies.
In the meantime, perhaps local cities across the world should consider mirroring Norway’s progressive action.