Archive | October, 2012

The U.S. Navy is looking for a few good video game hackers

29 Oct

The war on terror has taken an odd — and kind of fun — turn.

The U.S. government has hired a white hat hacker collective to dig through used video game systems in an effort to track down bad guys.

The Navy is leading the charge in this hunt, last week hiring California-based Obscure Technologies to head up the “Gaming Systems Monitoring and Analysis” project. The company will be paid just over $177,000 for the job of developing tools to extract sensitive information from six modern gaming systems and examine how it might be exchanged through messaging and chat networks.

Wary of the obvious privacy concerns, the Pentagon says it only plans to use this technology overseas, since it’s illegal to do so on American citizens.

Beyond the possibility of terrorists using systems like Xbox Live and Nintendo’s 3DS to exchange information about potential targets, the Feds are also looking to hunt down pedophiles, which sometimes use online game systems to find potential victims.

Obscure Technologies certainly has its work cut out for it. The company will be responsible for designing a prototype rig to monitor and capture data from gaming systems. They’ll also have to write what sounds like a manual on how best to use it (and why it chose the route it did.)

That’s tricky stuff, given how complex encryption technologies have become as developers fight back against video game piracy. But seeing as Obscure Technologies is staffed with a lead scientist who previously reverse engineered the Xbox, the Navy seems confident.

Part of the lure for officials to look closely at monitoring in-game chats and messages is the expanding role of game machines. The Xbox 360 and PS3, for instance, can now access social media sites and offer peer-to-peer messaging systems that have thus far gone largely unmonitored.

 

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Aside

Video game sales fall for ninth consecutive month

22 Oct

Video game makers just can’t catch a break.

For the ninth month in a row, brick and mortar retail sales of video game hardware and software was down — and down sharply. The NPD Group, which tracks the sales, says overall numbers for the month were down 20 percent compared to a year ago.

A lack of price cuts and new home consoles led to a whopping 39 percent drop in hardware sales, but the good news is that software sales seem to be showing a slight rebound, falling just 9 percent year over year. Software sales are generally viewed as the best barometer of the industry’s health.

Still, many analysts, including NPD’s own Anita Frazier, were hoping for better numbers on the software side.

“One factor contributing to the softness we have seen in retail content sales so far in 2012 has been the decline in the sheer number of new titles,” she said. “This, however, was not the case in August because there were more new titles when compared to last year; titles with sales that were significantly better than last year’s launches. So, what we’re seeing impact August results is the domino effect of the light release schedule from earlier in the year. That lack of new releases has had a significant impact on subsequent month’s sales.”

Nintendo received a bit of a boost as the 3DS XL, which was released late in the month, appears to be resonating with players. The system represented 44 percent of the total 3DS sales.

[Related: Review: Super-sized Nintendo 3DS XL is a big improvement]

Beleaguered game publisher THQ also found a bit of redemption in August as their action game Darksiders II led the video game charts, barely beating New Super Mario Bros 2 for the 3DS. Other new releases that saw solid sales include the latest Kingdom Hearts game and the long-in-development open-world romp Sleeping Dogs.

September will see the release of many more anticipated games, including Borderlands 2, FIFA 13 and the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. Sales of Madden NFL 13 will also be included in those numbers, even though the game went on sale in late August. (NPD cuts off its reporting just prior to the end of the month.)

Here are the month’s top 10 selling games.

Rank Title   Publisher
1 Darksiders II   THQ
2 New Super Mario Bros 2   Nintendo
3 Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance   Square Enix Inc.
4 NCAA Football 13   Electronic Arts
5 Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes   Warner Bros. Interactive
6 Sleeping Dogs   Square Enix Inc.
7 Transformers: Fall of Cybertron   Activision Blizzzard
8 Batman: Arkham City   Warner Bros. Interactive
9 Call of Duty: Black Ops   Activision Blizzzard
10 The Amazing Spider-Man  

Activision Blizzzard

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Update 3.4 for Age of Conan is Now Live

15 Oct

Update 3.4 for Age of Conan is now live! This new update to Age of Conan brings some exciting new changes to the Bear Shaman and Conqueror classes, as well as the Amphitheatre of Karutonia to provide better feat options for different situations.

Several things have changed in the Amphitheatre of Karutonia. The Abyssal Keeper and his menagerie have been evicted and can now be found in Ymir’s Pass. Inside the Amphitheatre, someone bigger and meaner has taken his place. A large number of other, smaller, changes have been applied to make this instance an even more stimulating experience.

The Amphitheatre of Karutonia is now available in a new Unchained version where level 80 characters can go to satisfy their vanity as well as claim epic treasures! Update 3.4 also includes exciting changes and improvements to the Bear Shaman and the Conqueror.

The main goal behind the Bear Shaman changes is to provide the class with several feat options for different situations, as well as giving the highest feats a clearer purpose and theme and make them more powerful.The Wrath tree is oriented towards upgrading combo damage, performing combos to empower the Shaman’s healing capacity, and granting them powerful bleed effects. The Spirits tree is strongly oriented towards empowering the Shaman’s spells in order to increase their damage and healing output.

For Conquerors, this update includes some tweaks to the Brute tree of the class. The goal of these tweaks is to make the Brute a more attractive tank, addressing concerns players have had for the Alternate Advancement abilities and giving the Conqueror more meaningful tools through the Disciplines / Formations / Techniques / Banners system.

Interested players can visit the offcial website for the full update information. If you are lookig forward to become a member of a guild, click here to get build your own guild in Age of Conan!

 

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