Archive for Gaming

The Story of NESticle, the Ambitious Emulator That Redefined Retro Gaming

The product of a talented programmer who designed a hit shareware game while he was still in high school, NESticle was so good that everyone looked past the fact its name was basically a dick joke.

The second stage of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s long lifespan started in earnest on April 3, 1997.

By that time, Nintendo had already moved on to 3D gaming with Super Mario 64. But an army of game fans, largely teens and college students who had been young children when the NES first came out in the early 1980s, were setting the stage for its legacy.

One of those fans, a programmer from Kansas with an offbeat sense of humor and an unmissable skillset, released a PC emulator for the NES—a reverse-engineered software version of the hardware platform. Called “NESticle,” its Windows icon was, quite literally and indelicately, a pair of testicles.

NESticle, nonetheless, did something amazing: It allowed people to play old Nintendo games on cheap computers made by Packard Bell and other firms, and did so while introducing a number of fundamental new ways to appreciate those games. Divorced from Nintendo’s famously draconian licensing strategy, it introduced new ways of thinking about well-tread video games.

Would we have the retro-friendly gaming culture that we do today without its existence? Maybe, but it’s possible it might not be quite so vibrant.

This is the story of how NESticle helped turn retro gaming into a modern cultural force.

Icer Addis was named Wichita High School Southeast’s Class of 1994 most likely graduate to become a millionaire. He had shown some early signs of brilliance by making PC games with his friend Ethan Petty. By the time he graduated from high school, their company, Bloodlust Software, was riding a wave of success during the shareware era. Their first hit, Executioners, a crude-but-funny beat-’em-up game in the Final Fight mold, was full of visual jokes, some of them featuring Addis and Petty, the game’s visual artist.

read more:

NES Classic hack fixes one of the system’s biggest problems

When the NES Classic Edition was hacked earlier this month, all eyes were on the console’s ability to house games beyond its 30 built-in offerings. But, it turns out, there was a more exciting enhancement just a few point releases beyond adding more games: You can now return to the NES Classic Edition’s home screen via a customizable gamepad shortcut (by default, Down + Select).

The NES Classic Edition is an excellent product that handily redefines the entire plug ‘n play console industry through a combination of well-built hardware, superb emulation, and a solid user interface that shames the competition. But it’s not perfect, and manually pressing the Reset button to return to the home screen — to change games and save or load a suspend point — is an unusually inelegant solution.

Source: NES Classic hack fixes one of the system’s biggest problems – Polygon

Sixaxis to Get Rumble This September?

It has been widely reported that the new TouchSense technology will be utilized to create a new, rumble-enabled, PS3 Sixaxis controller.

Sony reportedly informed Kotaku that rumble is definitely coming to PS3, it’s just a matter of when, and this latest press release from Immersion certainly raises the possibility that it could be in September.

“Under the terms of the license, these products will now bear Immersion’s Feel The Game TouchSense Technology logo,” reads the press release from which the news emanated.

Sixaxis to Get Rumble This September? : Next Generation

New Toys Read Brain Waves

Technology from NeuroSky and other startups could make video games more mentally stimulating and realistic. It could even enable players to control video game characters or avatars in virtual worlds with nothing but their thoughts.

Adding biofeedback to “Tiger Woods PGA Tour,” for instance, could mean that only those players who muster Zen-like concentration could nail a put. In the popular action game “Grand Theft Auto,” players who become nervous or frightened would have worse aim than those who remain relaxed and focused.

NeuroSky’s prototype measures a person’s baseline brain-wave activity, including signals that relate to concentration, relaxation and anxiety. The technology ranks performance in each category on a scale of 1 to 100, and the numbers change as a person thinks about relaxing images, focuses intently, or gets kicked, interrupted or otherwise distracted.

The technology is similar to more sensitive, expensive equipment that athletes use to achieve peak performance. Koo Hyoung Lee, a NeuroSky co-founder from South Korea, used biofeedback to improve concentration and relaxation techniques for members of his country’s Olympic archery team.

“Most physical games are really mental games,” said Lee, also chief technology officer at San Jose-based NeuroSky, a 12-employee company founded in 1999. “You must maintain attention at very high levels to succeed. This technology makes toys and video games more lifelike.”

Boosters say toys with even the most basic brain wave-reading technology — scheduled to debut later this year — could boost mental focus and help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and mood disorders.

The basis of many brain wave-reading games is electroencephalography, or EEG, the measurement of the brain’s electrical activity through electrodes placed on the scalp. EEG has been a mainstay of psychiatry for decades.

An EEG headset in a research hospital may have 100 or more electrodes that attach to the scalp with a conductive gel. It could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

But the price and size of EEG hardware is shrinking. NeuroSky’s “dry-active” sensors don’t require gel, are the size of a thumbnail, and could be put into a headset that retails for as little as $20, said NeuroSky CEO Stanley Yang.

Discovery Channel :: News – Animals :: New Toys Read Brain Waves

NVIDIA “G80” GeForce 8800GTX Performance Explored

DailyTech – NVIDIA “G80” GeForce 8800GTX Performance Explored

NVIDIA is set to launch its upcoming G80 GeForce 8800GTX and 8800GTS graphics cards next week, however, DailyTech snagged a GeForce 8800GTX board to run a couple quick benchmarks on. The GeForce 8800GTX used for testing is equipped with 768MB of GDDR3 video memory on a 384-bit memory bus as previously reported. Core and memory clocks are set at 575 MHz and 900 MHz respectively. Other GeForce 8800 series features include 128-bit HDR with 16x anti-aliasing and NVIDIA’s Quantum Physics Engine.

Previous NVIDIA graphics cards in single card configurations were limited to lower levels of anti-aliasing. With the GeForce 8800 series, users can experience 16x anti-aliasing with only a single card. DailyTech has verified the option is available in the NVIDIA control panel.

The physical card itself is quite large and approximately an inch and a half longer than an AMD ATI Radeon X1950 XTX based card. It requires two PCI Express power connectors and occupies two expansion slots. An interesting tidbit of the GeForce 8800GTX are the two SLI bridge connectors towards the edge of the card. This is a first for a GeForce product as SLI compatible graphics cards typically have one SLI bridge connector. [Read on]

See article for pics also.

Wii Will Have an Updatable Linux OS

From Slashdot : eldavojohn writes “There’s bits and pieces of information floating
around that revolve around ‘Iwata Asks’ interviews on Nintendo’s
website. What I found interesting was the tidbit about the updatable
operating system: ‘Wii is the first system from Nintendo that we can
continue to be involved in (via operating system updates) after the
customer buys it. This means that Wii will greatly expand and diversify
the ways in which people will enjoy games in the future.’ The Wii is
reported to operate on top of a proprietary form of the Linux kernel,
although there are already efforts to make a GNU/Linux for the
console. So, the answer to the age old question is that it already runs

See Slashdot link for original article, comments, and other links.

Do the Math: Will Sony Go Broke?

.:: ESH Reviews: Do the Math: Will Sony Go Broke?

From ESH; For video game players, the competition among the three game console manufacturers must seem like a Dead or Alive tournament. There’s always a winner and a loser, but someone else is always lined up for another bout with the winner.

Few tears were spilled when the No. 4 console maker, Sega, dropped out of the market a few years ago. But can you imagine if, in a year from now, there were only TWO console game makers?

Not only COULD it happen, but we’re going to tell you why it WILL happen. [Read on]

A POV on Sony and how and why they will continue to sink. Will Sony over-come and rise, or fall to its demise? corpse

XFX GeForce 7950 GT 570M Extreme | XFX GeForce 7950 GT 570M Extreme

GeForce 7950 GT is the second addition to NVIDIA’s GeForce 7950-series – the other being the flagship GeForce 7950 GX2. However, unlike the GeForce 7950 GX2, the GeForce 7950 GT is based on a single G71 chip and bears more resemblances with a GeForce 7900-series card than it does with the GeForce 7950 GX2. This could be a little confusing for the consumer, but we feel that NVIDIA is looking to phase GeForce 7900 GTX and GeForce 7900 GT out of the market, whether there is demand for those products or not.

Basically, GeForce 7950 GT is launching at the same price point that GeForce 7900 GT launched at in March. It comes with a load more performance and an additional 256MB of memory that is starting to become a requirement at higher resolutions. It’s based on the same G71 chip and comes with all pipelines intact, meaning that there are 24 pixel pipelines, 8 vertex shaders and 16 pixel output engines.

The reference design is clocked at 550/1400MHz – that’s a 100MHz increase in core speed over GeForce 7900 GT and an 80MHz increase in memory clock. In comparison, it’s 100MHz slower than GeForce 7900 GTX’s core and 200MHz slower when it comes to memory clock speed. The reduced clock speeds means that NVIDIA can use a smaller cooling solution. As a result, the reference card uses the same cooler as the one we’ve seen on NVIDIA’s GeForce 7900 GT. [More here|pics]

PS3: Even more bad news from Sony

PS3s at Launch: North America, 400k. Japan, 100k. – Kotaku

Not only have they delayed the PS3’s launch for the vast majority of the world, but look at these new numbers on how many PS3s will be available at launch date.

• North America: 400,000 Units
• Japan: 100,000 Units

Does that look like a lot to you? Keep in mind Microsoft’s global launch was 1.5 million units, and there were still massive shortages. [More – Kotaku] Gaming – “Oh, it’s delayed”

Real-time raytracing | Parallel Worlds | by Brett Thomas

As some of you already know, the idea of real-time raytracing has always been one of my pet-peeves for the industry. The concept is easy – rather than trying to approximate every single pixel’s light value through myriad pipelines and shaders, you trace rays of light from eye to source using one physics calculation. This calculation takes lots into account based on what the light hits, but it is just one calculation that is repeated millions and millions of times per frame.

Rather than using uni-directional meshes for models, where only the outside counts as visible space (this is where clipping errors derive from), raytracing deals in volumes. Each time a ray of light hits a new volume, a new segment is created (dubbed a rayseg) for how light would react within (or on) that particular material. Since light is now allowed to pass through transparent objects, or is properly reflected off a solid surface, all light in a room traces back to its sources. It sounds easy enough! If only the implementation were as simple… [Click for more]

Cedega and Linux: Let the Windows games begin | Cedega and Linux: Let the Windows games begin

If there’s one area where Linux distributions fall behind Windows, it’s games. Most PC games are built for Windows. Where does that leave Linux users? With Cedega, a melding of Wine and DirectX developed by TransGaming. Today, Cedega 5.2.3 officially supports about 50 games, though in reality it can run a lot more.

For a mere $5 a month (with a minimum subscription of three months) you can get the latest version of the software, support, and the right to vote on which games TransGaming should work on to improve Cedega.

Browsing the Games Database, you can spot blockbuster titles such as World of Warcraft, Civilization 4, Battlefield 2, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Half Life 2, Counter Strike, and Fifa 2006 — just to name a few of the officially supported titles. In addition, the database includes more than 1,300 games that are reported to work — more or less. Since Cedega is nothing more than a translation layer — it translates DirectX and Windows API calls to OpenGL, OSS/ALSA, and Linux APIs — not everything runs perfectly.

Installing Cedega is easy, but installing a game under Cedega isn’t always simple. [Read on]

Mario 2 not really Mario 2 The 12 Differences Between Super Mario Bros. 2 and Doki Doki Panic

When Mario 2 for the NES was released in the U.S., it looked and played differently than anyone had expected. It turned out that Mario 2 was not really a Mario title at all, but a game released in Japan as Doki Doki Panic. Nintendo had decided the actual Mario 2 was too difficult for an overseas release and pulled the title and modified Doki Doki instead. In order to make Doki Doki Panic Mario-like, they made some small changes, upgraded the character graphics, and sent “Mario 2” onto the market.

The details of what exactly Nintendo changed to create their blockbuster hit is somewhat of a mystery. Unless you’ve managed to find an original copy of the Japanese Doki Doki Panic, most likely you don’t have much idea of how much or how little Nintendo changed. [Full Article]