Rather Infrequent Open Thread
Star Wars: The Old Republic early access starts this week, so just in case I completely disappear, I’m taking this opportunity to clear out my inbox of all the little interesting oddments that I’ve found over the last week or so.
Possibly. Maybe. Nobody is sure yet. And it won’t be confirmed or denied until some time next year.
Oh, and if they do find it in the mass range (125 GeV) that they think they might have found it in, that wouldn’t quite be the end of the search. For, as one researcher apparently remarked, a Higgs boson in that mass range would need a heavier particle to act as its “bodyguard”.
He…didn’t elaborate on that comment, apaprently.
Seriously, guys, you have no idea how happy this makes me, especially since they’re releasing it as a Universal app (read: iPhone-compatible) rather than just an iPad-specific app.
I spent…I can’t even begin to count how many hours playing this game in my friend’s basement, and I’m sure that I’ll spend many more hours on buses and planes wreaking sweet, violent vengeance on the slave-mongering Pfhor.
I suspect that much of the game’s fame comes from the fact that it’s an open-world RPG which happens to be racking up sales numbers typically reserved for shooters like Modern Warfare. Even on consoles, Skyrim is doing amazingly well, and the console market is not one which typically embraces RPGs of any stripe (let alone open-world, sandbox-style RPGs with essentially unlimited quests to complete).
The chocolate is tasty, gun ownership is all but mandatory, the views are spectacular…and hey, file-sharing isn’t that big of a deal:
A new report by the Swiss government argues that unauthorized file sharing is not a significant problem, and that existing Swiss law—which allows for downloading copyrighted content for personal use—is sufficient to protect copyright holders. It considers and rejects three proposed changes: a French-style “three strikes” law, Internet filtering, and a mandatory collective licensing regime that would impose a fee on all Internet users that allowed unlimited file-sharing.
The report was written at the request of the Swiss legislature, which had expressed concerned that rampant copyright infringement endangered Swiss culture. In a 13-page document, Switzerland’s Federal Council—the nation’s seven-member executive branch—downplayed those concerns.
I’ve given to understand that in America, Wyoming is often seen as being amonst the most libertarian of the states. But even in Wyoming, the RIAA can ruin your day if they want to. Switzerland? Not so much.
Do give PC Gamer’s write-up on the finale of this Star Wars MMO. The last couple of paragraphs, in particular, make for a very poignant send-off for a game that tried, initially, to be different, before crippling itself by trying to be like every other MMO out there.
This would appear to be a time-travel story.
I’m not really a big fan of time-travel stories, though I was rather a fan of both Men in Black movies. They weren’t top-rate movies by any means, but they were certainly entertaining, and approached the idea of “aliens among us” with an enjoyable whimsy.
…because once again, they’re messing with our heads with some fancy new alternate-reality game (ARG). Could the long-overdue third episode for Half Life 2 be close to release?
Combat in the game has evidently been very heavily streamlined:
…which was largely expected; the Mass Effect series has definitely kept itself on the “action” side of the RPG genre. A certain minor plot point, which was explicitly shown in the latest trailer for the game, has also been a known quantity for some time now:
It would appear that it isn’t just the sapient, technologically-advanced races of the galaxy that want to take out the Reapers!
I’m skeptical, personally; the real-time strategy genre is pretty far-removed from BioWare’s previous productions. Of course, it’s not BioWare Edmonton that’s developing the game; Generals 2 is being produced by Los Angeles (I think)-based BioWare Victory (formerly Victory Games), and is being headed up by industry legend Jon Van Caneghem. The BioWare empire has expanded a bit more, and we are starting to see quite clearly the phenomenon of “BioWare as label” now.
At the same time, I’m a bit intrigued. Caneghem comes from an RPG background, and his Might & Magic games featured some pretty innovative design and solid plots. He also comes from a turn-based strategic background (Heroes of Might & Magic), so he’s not a stranger to producing games that focus primarily on resource management and pitched battles.
That said, Generals 2 is a bit of a different beast from any of that. Unless BioWare Victory is going down the route that Blizzard almost went with in Warcraft 3 (and that Reality Pump just barely started to experiment with in Earth 2160), Generals 2 is likely to be a more-or-less straight-up RTS title with the usual story elements interwoven between missions. It’s too early to tell, though, which way the game is going to go.
What is known, though, is that it’s powered by the Frostbite 2 engine, the same engine that makes Battlefield 3 tick. That, in and of itself, is interesting; Frostbite 2 is a phenomenally powerful engine. It will be interesting to see what BioWare Victory can do with it.
…it looks like EA Phenomic are up to their old tricks again, and have crafted yet another browser game around an old franchise from an EA-acquired studio. Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances is evidently a real-time, browser-based MMORTS, which does a pretty good job of emulating the look and feel of some of the earlier games in the Command & Conquer Tiberium series.
You might be doing it wrong.
If you are, or were, a Usenet fan, take note:
The service lets you store data in the cloud. It’s free for holders of “Diamond” Giganews Usenet accounts and costs $99 for a full terabyte of monthly storage. DumpTruck promises anonymous, worry-free storage with, interestingly, no data reduplication. This means DumpTruck won’t compare your files with other files and save only one copy. Your folder is your folder, no matter how full.
The service also offers full 256-bit encryption and single provider storage, a must if you’re, well, serious about security…
Of course, if the US passes that absurd SOPA act, services like this could come under fire. Still, it sounds like a pretty sweet setup, and DumpTruck is expecting to release desktop and mobile clients soon. I’m probably going to set myself up with a free account at least, and see if it works as a file-storage/sharing solution between my home and office. If it does, I might just be moving on from Dropbox!
Me neither. But now it’s available as an app for Chrome, Google’s rather fine Internet browser. The demo version is free, and the upgrade to full version costs $15 I think. Still, if you wanted to give the game a look, this is probably your best bet!
HP may have killed the TouchPad and all other devices running Palm’s innovative mobile operating system, the safe bet was that webOS would quietly fade away into the dustbin of history, a good idea dead before its time because of repeated failures that, really, weren’t its fault. Palm never gave it the hardware platform it so richly deserved, and HP over-priced the hardware that they shipped it on.
However, rather than just memory hole the OS, HP has made the decision to release it to the open source community, which…could be interesting. Or it could amount to nothing…time will tell.
Oh, and: webOS tablets are still on HP’s radar…for 2013.
There are no shortage of morose and gloomy men who attract women desperate to cheer them up, and there is no dearth of cheerful, upbeat guys who strike women as alarmingly, even creepily, chirpy. Consider, for example, the relative sexiness of Heathcliff versus Pee Wee Herman.
It might be fair to offer this as a disclaimer: “habitable zone” refers to the area around any given start in which an orbiting planet would be likely to have a temperature and climate capable of supporting life, or at least life as we know it on Earth.
Of course, various other conditions need to be satisfied for life as we know it to emerge. It needs to be a certain size (the Moon, after all, is also in our Sun’s habitable zone…), and needs to have a certain mixture of minerals in its crust with a minimum amount of water layered overtop of same. It also needs to possess a strong magnetic field to deflect the harsher radiation from its parent star.
Some of this can be tested for at long range, some of it cannot (not yet, at least). This planet, Kepler-22b, at least fits into the habitable zone around its parent star (it’s close to the inner edge thereof, though, and so would likely not be the sort of place I’d like to live). Being that it’s around 600 light years away, though, there’s little else we can know about it.
So, you know…don’t break open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving to celebrate the discovery of alien life with.
It’s not there anymore…but it left some fingerprints behind:
The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity is on its way to the red planet, scheduled for a landing in August. In the meantime, the Opportunity rover, which has been operating for nearly eight years, is still sending back scientific results. Its latest, announced at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, provides a clear indication that water once flowed through underground fissures, giving us a better picture of Mars’ geological history.
The findings are based on a vein of material that’s picked up the name “Homestake,” found near the rim of the Endeavour Crater. The material is only a couple centimeters across, but about 50cm long. Readings with a spectrometer indicated it was a form of calcium sulfate, and that it contained significant amounts of water. Gypsum crystals are formed when calcium sulfate associates with water; they tend to dissolver readily, but Mars’ dry climate allows them to be stable. The material has been spotted elsewhere on Mars, in the form of sand dunes in the northern polar region.
The question of where the water went remains open, of course.
Christopher Livingston has kicked off a new feature at PC Gamer, a kind of walkthrough of Skyrim done in the style of those journalists who take three months off to live amongst the homeless. His first entry, “Fresh Off The Boat”, is up now, and more such entries are presumably forthcoming.
Here’s a taste:
It’s morning, and I’ve just arrived in Skyrim. I wear no armor, just simple clothing and footwraps. I carry no two-handed broadsword, just a small iron dagger. No fearsome warpaint adorns my face and no jagged scars tell stories of hard-fought battles won. I have no priceless treasures or magical artifacts, just a handful of gold coins and a single piece of fruit.
I won’t be looting ghoul-infested crypts or rampaging through bandit-occupied forts, I won’t be helping citizens with their various problems and quests, and I certainly won’t be awakening any dragons. My name is Nordrick. I’m not a hero, I’m an NPC, and I’m here not to play Skyrim, but to live in it.
I did something similar with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and wrote about it in a blog called Livin’ in Oblivion. The NPC I created for Oblivion was a dopey-looking fellow called Nondrick, and I’ll be following similar rules with his descendant, Nordrick, here in Skyrim…
He’s set out some basic ground rules for himself, and basically intends to role-play the living heck out of Bethesda’s latest RPG. Of course, one of his rules is “if I die, I die; no reloads!”, so it might not be a terribly long series of articles if things go awry for him.
In other Skyrim-related news, someone has figured out how to make it play nice with Kinect. So for you console gamers, that’s something you might want to look into, if…you know…you want to do those “dragon shouts” in real life.
Mojang has officially begun courting a relationship with LEGO, with the ultimate goal of creating an official Minecraft set of the popular building blocks. The company announced the initiative on Cuusoo, a site devoted to helping amateur (plastic) bricklayers make a connection with the LEGO company.
The concept is simple, builders propose an idea for a LEGO set and, should said idea gain 10,000 supporters, it will be reviewed officially by LEGO.
They evidently hit the 10,000 supporters mark in record time (48 hours, roughly), toppling the Cuusoo servers no less than three times with swarms of traffic. LEGO’s official comments are, in a nutshell, “yup, okay, we get it…the idea is now under review.”
Yeah, I know, I was a bit surprised when Obsidian revealed their next RPG and pulled back the curtain on the IP that they couldn’t pass up a chance to work with. I had been hoping for something in the Icewind Dale series, myself, so…South Park? Really?
Evidently, yes. Click through the above for some combat flavour.
The game, which is being powered by Obsidian’s Onyx engine (the same engine that powered Dungeon Siege 3), has the look and general feel of Paper Mario, and very obviously throws a few nods in the direction of JRPGs. It is evidently being written and voice-acted by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, which means it should be about as crude and socially relevant as you’d expect South Park to be.
Tonight’s post brought to you by more wattage than you need:
And by damn daredevil comets: