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LambdaMOO, MUDs, and 'When the Internet Was Young'July 21 @ 7 PM source

Slashdot reader travers_r shares "a peek into the early days of internet culture and multiplayer gaming." (Apparently this MOO has been running continuously for 28 years.) "From the looks of it, squatters run it now..."

LambdaMOO was different from the earliest MUDs, which were Tolkienesque fantasies -- hack-and-slash games for Dungeons & Dragons types with computer access, mostly college students. LambdaMOO was one of the first social MUDs, where people convened largely to play-act society, and what might have been "one of the first MUDs to be run by an adult," [co-creator Pavel] Curtis believes... Everybody comes through the Coat Closet the first time they visit LambdaMOO, entering the Living Room through a curtain of clothes, like children into Narnia. In between the textual rooms and objects they explore, there's a faster-moving flow of words, the coursing real-time chatter of LambdaMOO's other users. This is a Multi-User Domain: a chatroom and a world at once, a place where telling takes the place of being...
[I]t's nearly impossible to describe to a modern computer user what that means, because although MUDs once made up 10 percent of internet traffic, their dominance was obliterated by the arrival of the visual, hyperlinked, page-based Web. To anyone weaned on images and clicked connections, every explanation sounds batty: A MUD is a text-based virtual reality. A MUD is a chatroom built by talking. A MUD is Dungeons & Dragons all around the world. A MUD is a map made of words. The science fiction writer Philip K. Dick once defined reality as "that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away," and in that sense a MUD is a real place. But a MUD is also nothing more than a window of text, scrolling along as users describe and inhabit a place from words.

Undark titled their piece "a mansion filled with hidden worlds: when the internet was young," describing the mansion's halls as "really just a string of code, where people once lived, and still do, in some way or another, as someone must, until the server winks out." I logged in a few times in 1997, so I'm probably in there too...
The article describes reading a Usenet newsgroup about MUDs back in 1990. "Approximately half of the contributors thought it was a game; the other half vehemently and heatedly disagreed."


Does all this bring back memories for any Slashdot readers?

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Saudi Arabia Bans 47 Games In Response To Two Child SuicidesJuly 18 @ 12 AM source

An anonymous reader quotes a report from IGN: Saudi Arabia is apparently banning 47 games in response to a pair of children committing suicide after allegedly being encouraged to do so while playing an online game. Per the Associated Press, the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media said yesterday that a 13-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy have taken their own lives after playing a social media game known as Blue Whale. Also called the Blue Whale Challenge, the disturbing social media phenomenon is a form of extreme cyberbullying. It's not clear how the Saudi government believes this connects to more mainstream video games, but it nonetheless appears to have banned 47 popular indie and AAA games in response.The Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media's website actually says the list of banned games was last updated on July 2, but the Associated Press' report claims the bans were just announced Monday.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Game Company Fires Two Employees Who Complained About 'Mansplaining' on TwitterJuly 8 @ 8 AM source

An anonymous reader quotes the Verge:
On July 3rd, narrative designer Jessica Price tweeted a 29-tweet thread dissecting the challenges of writing player characters in an MMORPG. A streamer who goes by Deroir responded, "Really interesting thread to read! However, allow me to disagree slightly," and shared a three-tweet explanation of how narrative design influences player expression in the sort of games that Price narratively designs. Price both replied directly to Deroir, tweeting "thanks for trying to tell me what we do internally, my dude," and retweeted his response with the caption "today in being a female game dev: 'Allow me -- a person who does not work with you -- to explain to you how you do your job....'"
Price's suggestion that Deroir was mansplaining game development -- an area where he does not have the same knowledge or experience -- sparked anger among the ArenaNet community. She subsequently responded to those criticizing her on Twitter. [Here's the first lines of that tweet. "Since we've got a lot of hurt manfeels today, lemme make something clear: this is my feed. I'm not on the clock here. I'm not your emotional courtesan just because I'm a dev. Don't expect me to pretend to like you here. The attempts of fans to exert ownership over our personal lives and times are something I am hardcore about stopping."] Price was fired shortly after. Although many fans are comparing this to something like working in a restaurant -- be polite to the customer, or get fired -- Price says it's impossible to talk about this incident without larger context about systematic online harassment, particularly the sometimes abusive relationship between fans and game developers and the failure of game companies to address it. "Game companies are generally unwilling to be honest with themselves about how they're complicit in creating and sustaining that environment," she tells The Verge...
Price adds that she believes her firing was an emotional reaction on the part of ArenaNet co-founder Mike O'Brien. "He fired me personally, and the meeting was mostly him venting his feelings at me," she says. "I understand being afraid when you see the Reddit mob coming for you, but if people with less power can weather it -- and we do, regularly -- so can he...." "We can probably fire anyone on the GW2 dev team as long we make a big enough stink," wrote one user on the Guild Wars 2 subreddit. "Nobody at Arenanet is safe from the hand of reddit. We're literally running the company now..."
ArenaNet also fired Peter Fries, a writer who'd worked for them for 12 years, apparently for defending Price in a series of now-deleted tweets. (For example, "Here's a bit of insight that I legitimately hope [Deroir] reflects on: she never asked for his feedback.")
"The message is very clear, especially to women at the company," Jessica Price tells the Verge. "If Reddit wants you fired, we'll fire you. The quality of your work doesn't matter."

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Valve Shuts Down New Way of Estimating Game Sales On SteamJuly 7 @ 2 AM source

A recently discovered hole in Valve's API allowed observers to generate extremely precise and publicly accessible data for the total number of players for thousands of Steam games. While Valve has now closed this inadvertent data leak, Ars can still provide the data it revealed as a historical record of the aggregate popularity of a large portion of the Steam library. From the report: The new data derivation method, as ably explained in a Medium post from The End Is Nigh developer Tyler Glaiel, centers on the percentage of players who have accomplished developer-defined Achievements associated with many games on the service. On the Steam web site, that data appears rounded to two decimal places. In the Steam API, however, the Achievement percentages were, until recently, provided to an extremely precise 16 decimal places.

This added precision means that many Achievement percentages can only be factored into specific whole numbers. (This is useful since each game's player count must be a whole number.) With multiple Achievements to check against, it's possible to find a common denominator that works for all the percentages with high reliability. This process allows for extremely accurate reverse engineering of the denominator representing the total player base for an Achievement percentage. As Glaiel points out, for instance, an Achievement earned by 0.012782207690179348 percent of players on his game translates precisely to 8 players out of 62,587 without any rounding necessary (once some vagaries of floating point representation are ironed out). Ars has shared the Achievement-derived player numbers in their report; there's also a handy CSV file. Some of the titles with the most total unique players include Team Fortress 2 (50,191,347 player estimate), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (46,305,966 player estimate), PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (36,604,134 player estimate), Unturned (27,381,399 player estimate), and Left 4 Dead 2 (23,143,723 player estimate).

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Mouse and Keyboard Support Could Be Coming To the Xbox One This YearJune 25 @ 11 PM source

Over the weekend, Windows Central received a purported internal Microsoft presentation from earlier in the year detailing plans for mouse-and-keyboard support for the Xbox One. Microsoft has been teasing the support for years now, but it's finally becoming a reality soon. The Verge reports: Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans tell The Verge that Microsoft and Razer presented their plans at the annual Xfest event for developers earlier this year. Razer is planning to allow game developers to tap into its API to bring Chroma lighting effects to games. If all goes according to plan, Xbox One users will start to make use of this later this year with Microsoft's fall update for the Xbox.

Xbox gamers will welcome the addition of keyboard and mouse support, but some will question the impact on multiplayer games. Microsoft is allowing developers to detect whether a keyboard or mouse is present on an Xbox One, and games could potentially only match keyboard and mouse users with similarly equipped players. Balancing games will be down to developers, and Microsoft is offering up all the tools required to ensure games can implement the support in a variety of ways.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Two Teenaged Gamers Plead 'Not Guilty' For Fatal Kansas Swatting DeathJune 16 @ 5 PM source

Two more men entered pleas in federal court for their roles in a SWAT call that led to a fatal police shooting in Kansas: not guilty. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, Kansas, and Casey Viner, 18, from a suburb of Cincinnati, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and remained free on $10,000 bond, court records showed. Both of the suspects live with their parents, local media reported. In the so-called "swatting" incident, in which someone falsely reports an emergency requiring a police response, Viner got upset at Gaskill over a video game they played online, federal prosecutors said, and Viner contacted a known "swatter"...and asked him to make the false report to police at an address that had been provided by Gaskill. Viner did not know that Gaskill no longer lived at the address, but Gaskill knew, prosecutors said.
After media reports of the shooting, Gaskill urged [swatter Tyler] Barriss to delete their communications and Viner wiped his phone, according to the indictment... Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy and several counts of wire fraud. Viner and Gaskill were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Gaskill was also charged with wire fraud and additional counts of obstruction of justice.

In a jailhouse interview in January, Barriss told a local news team that "Whether you hang me from a tree, or you give me 5, 10, 15 years... I don't think it will ever justify what happened... I hope no one ever does it, ever again. I hope it's something that ceases to exist."
In April, while still in jail, Barriss gained access to the internet then posted "All right, now who was talking shit? >:) Your ass is about to get swatted."

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Microsoft is Working on its Own Game Streaming, Netflix-Like ServiceJune 11 @ 12 AM source

Phil Spencer, Microsoft's gaming chief, revealed the company is building a streaming game service for any device. Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device, he said, adding this service will offer "console quality gaming on any device." From a report: "Gaming is now at its most vibrant," he said. "In this significant moment we are constantly challenging ourselves about where we can take gaming next." He said that Microsoft is recommitting and harnessing the full breath of the company to deliver on the future of play. That includes experts in Microsoft research working on developing the future of gaming AI and the company's cloud engineers building a game streaming network. He added that the company is also in the midst of developing the architecture for the next Xbox consoles. Further reading: Microsoft Acquires Four Gaming Studios, Including Ninja Theory, As It Looks To Bolster First-Party Catalog.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Ubisoft CEO: Cloud Gaming Will Replace Consoles After the Next GenerationJune 8 @ 9 PM source

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Better start saving up for that PlayStation 5, Xbox Two, or Nintendo Swatch (that last follow-up name idea is a freebie, by the way). That generation of consoles might be the last one ever, according to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. After that, he predicts cheap local boxes could provide easier access to ever-evolving high-end gaming streamed to the masses from cloud-based servers. "I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware," Guillemot said in a recent interview with Variety. "With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home. There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us."

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Atari Launches Linux Gaming Box Starting at $199June 2 @ 4 PM source

An anonymous reader quotes Linux.com:
Attempts to establish Linux as a gaming platform have failed time and time again, with Valve's SteamOS being the latest high-profile casualty. Yet, Linux has emerged as a significant platform in the much smaller niche of retro gaming, especially on the Raspberry Pi. Atari has now re-emerged from the fog of gaming history with an Ubuntu-based Atari VCS gaming and media streaming console aimed at retro gamers. In addition to games, the Atari VCS will also offer Internet access and optional voice control. With a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, the system can be used as a standard Linux computer.
The catch is that the already delayed systems won't ship until July 2019... By the launch date, Atari plans to have "new and exclusive" games for download or streaming, including "reimagined classic titles from Atari and other top developers," as well as multi-player games. The Atari VCS Store will also offer video, music and other content... The hardware is not open source, and the games will be protected with HDCP. However, the Ubuntu Linux stack based on Linux kernel 4.10 is open source, and includes a "customizable Linux UX." A Linux "sandbox" will be available for developing or porting games and apps. Developers can build games using any Linux compatible gaming engine, including Unity, Unreal Engine, and Gamemaker. Atari also says that "Linux-based games from Steam and other platforms that meet Atari VCS hardware specifications should work."
Atari boasts this will be their first device offering online multi-player experiences, and the device will also come pre-loaded with over 100 classic Atari games.
An Indiegogo campaign this week seeking $100,000 in pre-orders has already raised over $2.2 million from 8808 backers.

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Star Citizen Video Game Launches $27,000 Players' PackMay 29 @ 7 PM source

An anonymous reader shares a report: Crowdfunded space simulation game Star Citizen has launched its $27,000 Legatus Pack, which includes nearly all its spacecraft plus extras. Only players who have already spent $1,000 in the game can access the pack. Cloud Imperium, the creators of Star Citizen, has received more than $200m in crowdfunding since launching a Kickstarter campaign for it in 2012. According to its website it has more than two million players, although the game itself is still in development. Star Citizen aims to create a vast science fiction universe that can be explored in dozens of spaceships, with first-person space combat, all online and multi-player.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.