Game talkPlay games, improve your eyes

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Mar 302009

Latest from the games-are-good-for-you department:

The findings, reported in the March 29 issue of Nature, indicate that action games offer players the chance to improve their contrast perception by as much as 58%.

via Video Game Play Improves Eyesight — Video Games — InformationWeek.

The findings show that you have to play FPSes like UT2k4 and CoD2, and not games like The Sims 2. So you may improve your “contrast perception” but presumably the industry’s critics will then assert that you traded your eyesight for temporary boosts in aggressivity. 🙂

Game talkGaikai: virtual worlds streamed as video

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Mar 272009

Gaikai is basically like OnLive, but for 3d MMOs.It uses Flash to stream video from a high-end gaming PC, and captures clicks and keystrokes and sends them back to the server.

The browser “sandbox” may curtail gaming, but it does not limit the streaming of video. As YouTube and a multitude of copycats have shown, streaming videos online in a web browser is fast, efficient and reliable. This is the key to our technology. When you play a game through our service, you are actually watching a video stream. A very high resolution, high quality, stream with stereo sound, but in essence no different to the last video clip you watched.

I guess this is an idea whose time has come — dumb client terminals that just display a picture. Everything old is new again; this is exactly how Prodigy worked back in the day. 🙂

Game talk3d canvas in browser on its way

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Mar 252009

I have been commenting to people that for me this GDC is slightly dull partly for an odd reason: I no longer seem like a crazy prophet in the wilderness preaching about all the changes coming. The changes kinda just came. And now I wander around the halls and all the buzz is about digital distribution models, UGC, playing in a browser, microtransactions, web models, that traditional publishers are dinosaurs in trouble, iPhone indie games… you get the idea. The controversial talks of 2006 are today’s hallway gossip, and I need fresh new controversial material. 😉

The latest bit to come true is the prediction that the battle for 3d in a browser would keep heating up. Flash, of course, continues to push. I mentioned Silverlight’s remarkably high penetration numbers not very long ago, and now the shoe finally drops on the Mozilla efforts, with the announcement that Mozilla and Khronos plan to have OpenGL ES through Javascript in Firefox 3.5.

The intense focus on Javascript performance over the past year has seen tremendous improvements across all browsers. Raw language performance is getting to the point where it can keep up with the raw computational requirements of 3D. It will only continue to improve, spurred on by 3D and other use cases. Second, the hardware required for accelerated 3D is becoming pervasive; hardly any desktop computer ships without some form of hardware acceleration, and the latest crop of smartphones almost uniformly have at least OpenGL ES 1.1, if not 2.0 available. Starting this work now ensures that a standard will be ready when Web developers want to take advantage of the capabilities available in hardware.

— Vladimir Vukicevic of Mozilla

So, the war is on in earnest now.

Game talkOnLive: digital distribution play

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Mar 242009

Just yesterday I was talking with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal about how more publishers needed to get on the digital distribution bandwagon… and today, I see an article on CNet entitled OnLive could threaten Xbox, PS3, and Wii.

What is it? It’s a tiny box for your TV, or a service client for your PC. With a high enough bandwidth network connection, it lets you simply play standard PC games remotely. The games run on remote servers, and you are streamed the rendered screen, so your client hardware doesn’t matter. The company claims no lag thanks to amazing compression.

A whole bunch of publishers have signed up…

Game talkGDC09: Worlds in Motion Kickoff

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Mar 242009

My brief kickoff of the Worlds in Motion Summit went well. There’s actually write-ups, which considering I was only on stage for fifteen minutes is slightly surprising. 😉




Forgive the formatting, but the hotel connectivity is basically non-existent, and I am using my cellphone as a model to post at all!

Game talkEntropia becomes a bank

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Mar 212009

Ars Technica reports that Project Entropia and MindArk are in the process of getting an actual banking license.

…a Swedish video game developer has been granted preliminary approval for a real banking license by the Swedish Finance Supervisory…

…the game itself has proven to be incredibly successful, having generated over $420 million last year.

Now, though, MindArk’s going to be just like a bank in the real world: it will be backed by Sweden’s $60,000 deposit insurance, offer interest-bearing accounts for its clients, feature direct deposit options, let players pay bills online, and apparently will offer loans to customers.

And another long-standing prediction among virtual world watchers begins to come true: that virtual worlds would eventually become fiduciary institutions.

Game talkGDC and GamesBeat next week

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Mar 202009

Next week I will be at GDC in San Francisco, and also at GamesBeat ’09, but only for half the week. I’m not speaking very much — a couple of very short presentations. I’ll kick off the Worlds in Motion Summit with a look at the big trends over the last year in virtual worlds, and I’ll be giving a little bit of a forward-looking glance at the next ten years of games at GamesBeat.

As usual, I will try to liveblog (and this year, tweet!) sessions as I can, but honestly, I don’t know how many sessions I will get to attend…!