Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

The Lionhead Closure / Fable Legends Axe: An Update

Last month, the British game development family tree had one of its most venerable branches lopped off, when Microsoft announced the probable closure of Lionhead Studios. Though best known for the Fable series, the Guildford outfit once headed by Peter Molyneux also has Black & White and The Movies to its name, and many of its original key staff were the guiding forces behind Bullfrog greats such as Syndicate and Dungeon Keeper. Whatever one might feel about their status as a Fable factory following a Microsoft buy-out, there’s serious heritage there.

Recent murmurs and rumours suggest that, while a closure for Lionhead as we knew it is still on the cards, the exact nature of how it will happen and what will become both of staff and the well-into-development and free-to-play Fable Legends is still in flux. There may even be a future for the cancelled Fable Legends after all.
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Vulkan API: It’s Gaming, Jim, But Not As We Know It

One API to rule them all. Wrong fantasy franchise, perhaps, but that’s the idea behind Vulkan, the snazzy open-source successor to OpenGL, alternative to Microsoft’s DirectX and something that might shake up gaming on everything from PCs to phones. But what’s an API? And why should you care? We’ll come to that. For now, if Vulkan is everything it’s cracked up to be, it’ll make games run faster and look better on your existing PC. It might make that SteamOS thing a goer, too. Anyway, version 1.0 is out, so the chattering weberati will be casually trading Vulkan references to prove their PC gaming prowess. Time to bone up. Plus I’ve just sat through a five-hour keynote stream on Vulkan from GDC 2016. So humour me. This stuff is actually quite interesting.

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Warning: Windows 10 May Auto-Install On Your PC

Email subject line: “Windows 10.” From my father. ‘Should I upgrade?’ he wanted to know, a question surely posed by a hundred thousand parents to a hundred thousand adult offspring across the land. I didn’t know what to tell him. I like Windows 10 well enough; I even think it’s the best operating Microsoft have ever made. There’s nothing about it I could say anyone on Windows 7 really needs, however, and when it’s a case of someone with only rudimentary technical skills running the OS upgrade gauntlet, I wouldn’t say it’s worth the risk.

Before too long, though, the decision may be taken out of his and my hands – I may end up fielding the post-disaster support phone call regardless, as it seems Microsoft are stepping up their attempts to waft Windows 10 on as many PCs as possible. Even to the extent that the OS is seemingly now automatically installing itself.

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Rocket League In Line For Xbox One Cross-Network Play

Rocket League cross-network

Microsoft have announced a new cross-network feature that’ll be championed by Psyonix’s cage-ball-goal ’em up Rocket League [official site] in the coming months. Although at the discretion of developers, the new initiative means, in theory, Xbox Live users will be able join other players in the same games but on different networks, such as, say, PSN or Steam.

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Minecraft Now An Artificial Intelligence Workshop

Minecraft AI

While Minecraft [official site] is no stranger to the classroom, computer scientists are now using Mojang and Microsoft’s famous build ’em up to improve artificial intelligence. For now, it’s in the hands of a small group of researchers/super smart boffin types by way of a private beta, however it’s going open-source come July. Find out more after the drop.

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A Black & White Day: Microsoft Set To Close Lionhead

Sad news, mostly because a studio with some serious heritage looks set to be closed down, but partly because said studio never had a chance to set out its own identity following the departure of founder Peter Molyneux. Lionhead was what the co-creator of Populous, Theme Park, Syndicate and Dungeon Keeper did after Bullfrog (with the help of dozens of talented colleagues), and while it was always a divisive studio the ambition and exuberance it showed in the Black & White and Fable games will be sorely missed.

Microsoft today announced the studio’s next (and first post-Molyneux) title, Fable Legends, has been cancelled, and that it is “in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK.”
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“Microsoft Is Moving Against The Entire PC Industry”, Says Epic Founder

Tim Sweeney, programmer and co-founder of Epic Games, says that “we must fight” Microsoft and their Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative, which makes certain Windows 10 features only available to developers who agree to sell their game via the official Windows Store.

This is from an op-ed in The Guardian where Sweeney outlines his objections, arguing that “this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made” and that “Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry – including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games.”

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$3,000 HoloLens Development Edition Due In March

While virtual reality will soon be in the hands and eyes of folks at home – pre-orders just opened for the HTC Vive, to ship in April, and the Oculus Rift launches at the end of this month – augmented reality goggles are a bit further out. While VR replaces your vision with a computer-generated world, AR is more of an overlay, making computer graphics appear in our world. Microsoft are preparing to launch the first version of their ‘HoloLens’ AR glasses to developers for $3,000, shipping on March 30th, and have shown off the games and software coming with that.

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It’s About Time: Quantum Break Coming To PC

Remedy (Max Payne, Alan Wake) have been making gorgeous, violent games about angry-sad men for years now. When they announced their latest, Quantum Break [official site], it was revealed as an Xbox One exclusive. Moments ago, they announced that the time-troubling action game will also be coming to PCs. As long as those PCs are running Windows 10. There’s a proper trailer below, along with a newly released live action thing.

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£25?! Xbox One Controller’s Wireless Adapter Is Out

The Xbox One controller is the finest lump of gameplastic I’ve had the pleasure of using for appropriate virtuamurder, but on PC I’m confined to connecting it via a USB cable. That’s a bit old-timey, considering this is the 21st of October, 2015. Wires? Where we’re going, we don’t need wires!

We do need, however, need £24.99 to buy the new USB adapter allowing Xbox One controllers to work wirelessly with Windows 10. Great Scott! That’s a big price for a small doohickey. Why, to afford that I’d have to travel back to 1955 and hand Young Alice sports results from 1950 to the year 2000 so she could become rich off betting!

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Make-O: Project Spark DLC Going Free, Conker Dropped

Why.

Project Spark [official site] is Microsoft’s latest free 3D create-o-play doodad for making your own games and playing other people’s, but it launched with two irritants: it was exclusive to Windows 8, an OS many people skipped; and it had a fair amount of annoying DLC for its gamepieces and gameprops. Well, now we have Windows 10, which is nicer than 8 at least, and soon all of Project Spark’s DLC will be set free.

Microsoft have announced plans to stop making new Spark bits and turn all the old stuff free. This includes cancelling the rest of that baffling Conker the Squirrel stuff.

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Windows Vista/7/8 Update Disables Safedisc DRM

Last month we reported that Windows 10 wouldn’t run games that employ SafeDisc or certain versions of Securom DRM. This decision was made by Microsoft in response to security concerns, but as a side effect rendered hundreds of old games unplayable on the new operating system without players installing no-CD cracks or re-buying the games via modern digital distribution services which don’t use the now-abandoned DRM.

Now Microsoft have released a security patch that also removes support for the Safedisc DRM from Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. Check below for more detail and instructions on how to get those old games working again.

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An Easy Fix For Windows 10 Privacymageddon

Windows 10 is Microsoft’s best operating system in a quite a while, and possibly ever, despite a few foibles. Trouble is that it really, really wants to get mixed up in all your business and then tell the highest bidders all about it – which may or may not be why an upgrade to it from Windows 7 or 8 is currently free. Most of the OS’s monitoring can be turned off, but it’s a bit of a hassle and Windows 10 is far from transparent about what it all does. There is now a quicker method of raising your blast shields, if you so wish.

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Windows 10 Won’t Run Games Using SafeDisc Or Securom DRM

Windows 10 won’t run games that employ SafeDisc or certain versions of Securom DRM, rendering hundreds of old disc-based games potentially unplayable without complex workarounds. Games which used these forms of DRM range from Crimson Skies to Grand Theft Auto 3, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 to the original The Sims. Yet despite this change coming in Windows 10, blame can’t likely be placed at Microsoft’s feet. For one, SafeDisc is notoriously insecure and Microsoft’s decision to block it from their new operating system will likely protect more users than it hurts.

More details below.

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Microsoft Can Disable Pirated First-Party Games

Microsoft can disable “counterfeit games” and “unauthorized hardware peripheral devices” according to the recently updated Microsoft Services Agreement. The agreement, which pertains to the Windows store, suggests they can detect pirated first-party XBox and Windows games you have installed.

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Windows 10 Is Spying On You: Here’s How To Stop It

Windows 10‘s privacy settings very much need to be frowned at. Essentially: unless you pay close attention to the fluffy options offered when you first install Microsoft’s new operating system, it’s going to quietly track your behaviour and use it to fire targeted ads at you, as well as keeping tabs on your location history, data from messages, calendars, contacts and God knows what else. It is a bit scary, despite coming off the back of Microsoft’s own pledge to offer ‘real transparency’. You may or may not be OK with this yourself, but in any event at least some of this stuff can be turned off after the fact. I’ll explain how to do that below.

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Windows 10 Is Quietly Sharing Your WiFi Password

It wouldn’t be a new version of Windows without at least a few entirely bewildering decisions on Microsoft’s part, but this one’s a high speed collision of face and palm even by the standards of the company behind Windows 8. In a nutshell, there’s this feature in Windows 10 which will automatically share your wifi passwords with any and all Outlook, Skype and Facebook contacts who also use Win 10. Or, were they to manually enter your password into their Win 10 device, it would by default be treated as ‘their’ network and shared with their contacts. In other words, be vigilant – otherwise you’ll end up with Kevin Bacon using your internet connection whenever he wardrives past your house.
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How Has Microsoft Changed Minecraft?

Stepping into the main hall at Minecon, the huge annual get-together for Minecraft fans all over the world, you wouldn’t know that Microsoft existed – much less that it paid $2.5 billion dollars to acquire Mojang less than a year ago. The only sign of the multinational software giant’s presence is a monochrome rendition of its logo on the shoulders of its staffers. A logo which, coincidentally, is four flat blocks. Most people probably aren’t even aware the company is there at all.

Since the Mojang acquisition, Microsoft has very carefully stayed in the shadows to avoid spooking the game’s tens of millions of enthusiastic players. At this year’s Minecon I spoke to Mojang staff and Minecraft fans to find out how the acquisition has affected one of the world’s most popular games.

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