Google’s Stadia leverages tech advances to bring the lucrative video-game market into the cloud

Majd Bakar, vice president and head of engineering for Google’s Stadia game-streaming service, explains how it built the infrastructure needed to power that service. (GeekWire screenshot) After spending billions over the last few years to upgrade its cloud computing infrastructure, Google thinks it is ready to tackle the needs of some of the most demanding customers on the planet. Google announced the launch of Stadia Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, promising that it would ship a game-streaming service powered by its massive computing network that works across mobile devices, PCs, and televisions by the end of the year. One of the biggest factors that will dictate the success or failure of Stadia will be the number of times users abandon those games in frustration after encountering glitches, crashes, or delays that have plagued earlier attempts at video-game streaming. “This architecture is the foundation for the new Read the full article…

The Google Stadia game controller feels surprisingly great

Google today took the wraps off its Stadia cloud gaming platform, showing off a bold but largely untested vision of the future of gaming that involves distributing and playing software in real-time over the internet. We still don’t know a lot about how Stadia will work, how much it might cost, whether it will operate as a Netflix-style subscription service for consumers or use a different business model, or when exactly it will come out later this year. But we did get our hands on the custom controller Google built, the only physical piece of the Stadia package. Surprisingly, the Stadia controller feels and looks great. Granted, we didn’t get to try it on a live Stadia demo, but we did get to go hands-on with the same white and orange… Read the full article…

Google Stadia uses a custom AMD chip to offer 10.7 teraflops of cloud gaming power

The beauty of a cloud gaming service is two-fold: 1) you can theoretically play any game, anywhere you’ve got a good enough internet connection to stream it over the net, and 2) even if you’re playing it on a wimpy smartphone, you can harness the power of a beefy server located in a data center. But what kind of server matters a whole heck of a lot when it comes to graphical fidelity and keeping the service affordable, given how many players may be using those servers at a given time — and it turns out that Google’s just-announced Stadia cloud gaming service may have struck a balance between power and price by partnering with AMD for a new custom piece of silicon. According to Google, each Stadia server will contain a custom x86… Read the full article…

Rumor: GoT Showrunners’ Star Wars Films to Be Set in The Old Republic

A new rumor has suggested that the upcoming series of Star Wars films by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will take place during the Old Republic era. Via Comicbook.com, Star Wars News Net has reported that one of its sources, a contact who “has worked on every Disney Star Wars film,” is “95% confident” that this new series will in fact take place in the Old Republic, which has been featured in such games as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. Read the full article…

Konami Anniversary Collections Include Castlevania, Contra, and Arcade

Konami, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, will be releasing three Anniversary Collections that highlight Castlevania, Contra, and its Arcade Classics. These Anniversary Collections will be available digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC and will each include a bonus eBook that is “packed with new information about the titles, including interviews with the development staff, behind-the-scenes insights, and sketches and design documents never before revealed to the public!” The first collection available will be the Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection on April 18, 2019, and for $19.99 plays will gain access to eight games from the ’80s – Haunted Castle, Typhoon (A-JAX), Nemesis (Gradius), Vulcan Venture (Gradius II), Life Force (Salamander), Thunder Cross, Scramble, and TwinBee. Read the full article…

TikTok parent Bytedance is getting serious about games

A turbulent 2018 for China’s gaming market hasn’t held back newcomers. Bytedance, the world’s most valuable startup behind a collection of rising new media apps including TikTok and Jinri Toutiao, is making a further push into video games after it took control of a mobile game developer through a roundabout deal. According to a business registration filing, Shanghai Mokun has become wholly owned by Beijing Zhaoxi Guangnian, a second-tier subsidiary of Bytedance. Mokun is a mobile game developer previously owned by 37 Interactive Entertainment, a publicly listed games publisher that earmarked $791 million in revenue last year, which makes the Shanghai-based company about one-sixth the size of Activision Blizzard. Zhang Lidong, a veteran journalist-turned senior vice president at Bytedance, has taken the helm as Mokun’s legal representative. The price of the deal is undisclosed. A spokesperson from Bytedance declines to comment on the transaction. TechCrunch has reached out to 37 IE Read the full article…

Watch Google unveil its mysterious gaming project live right here

Google is holding a press event at the Game Developers Conference today in San Francisco. The conference starts at 10 AM Pacific Time, 1 PM Eastern Time, 5 PM in London and 6 PM in Paris. While many game companies rely on Google Cloud Platform for their server and infrastructure needs, today’s conference is going to be different. The company has been working on something called Project Stream for more than six months. In its initial technical test, the company let you play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in your Chrome web browser. The game would run on a server in a data center near you, and you’d see the video stream in your browser and interact with your character from your computer. And it sounds like Google is ready to launch its cloud gaming service for real. So let’s see how Google plans to sell this service and the initial game Read the full article…

How to build The Matrix

Rizwan Virk Contributor Rizwan Virk is executive director of Play Labs @ MIT, a serial entrepreneur and author. Released this month 20 years ago, “The Matrix” went on to become a cultural phenomenon. This wasn’t just because of its ground-breaking special effects, but because it popularized an idea that has come to be known as the simulation hypothesis. This is the idea that the world we see around us may not be the “real world” at all, but a high-resolution simulation, much like a video game. While the central question raised by “The Matrix” sounds like science fiction, it is now debated seriously by scientists, technologists and philosophers around the world. Elon Musk is among those; he thinks the odds that we are in a simulation are a billion to one (in favor of being inside a video-game world)! As a founder and investor in many video game startups, I Read the full article…

Valve veteran and Riot Games developer launch Stray Bombay, a new game studio in Seattle

(Stray Bombay Logo) Even if you don’t know Chet Faliszek‘s name, you’ve likely heard of his work. As one of the writers at Valve Software in the 2000s, Faliszek helped create the stories of seminal video games including Portal, Left 4 Dead, Half-Life 2: Episode One, and Counter-Strike. To put it less gently, he’s one of the reasons why cakes have been lies for the last 12 years. More recently, since leaving Valve in 2017, Faliszek was working in Seattle at Bossa Studios. This week, at the start of this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Faliszek officially announced the founding of his newest venture, Stray Bombay, with Dr. Kimberly Voll. Based in Seattle, Stray Bombay is actively hiring at GDC for multiple positions, with funding already in place via Riot Games and Upfront Ventures, in order to create a new cooperative-play video game. “Players are smart, they are Read the full article…

Washington-based brothers behind ‘Dwarf Fortress’ to unexpectedly launch cult indie game on Steam

The cult indie hit Dwarf Fortress is unexpectedly coming to Steam. Silverlake, Wash.-based designer Tarn Adams, the primary creator of Dwarf Fortress alongside his brother Zach, announced via the company’s Patreon page last week that the long-running game will arrive on both Steam and Itch.io in a new version that features actual graphics and “generally enhanced” audio. As the original Dwarf Fortress (see below) has been both freeware and made entirely of ASCII art since 2006, this marks a massive departure for the game in more ways than one. The reason for the new version, according to Adams’ announcement, is related to financial concerns due to healthcare treatment costs. “We don’t talk about this much, but for many years, Zach has been on expensive medication, which has fortunately been covered by his healthcare,” wrote Adams, co-founder of Bay 12 Games. “It’s a source of constant concern, as the plan has changed Read the full article…

SHODAN returns in System Shock 3 trailer

OtherSide Entertainment has dropped the first real teaser trailer for its upcoming System Shock revival, offering a look at some “pre-alpha in-engine” footage of a doomed space station under the control of murderous AI SHODAN. The System Shock 3 trailer was shown at Unity’s Game Developers Conference keynote, confirming that the game will use the Unity engine. System Shock 3 sees original producer Warren Spector return to the legendary immersive sim series. The game has undergone a protracted development and recently lost its publisher, Starbreeze, which is in serious financial trouble. Despite this, last month Spector said “The team is still, as we say, ‘psyched and cranking’ — in other words, continuing as normal. I’m confident we can… Read the full article…

Unity’s latest demo is a gorgeous sci-fi short starring a lifelike virtual hero

The latest jaw-dropping demo from Unity, one of the most widely used game engines in the world, isn’t just an example of how developers can use new shadow effects or rendering tools. It’s also a darkly beautiful philosophical journey stuffed into a short animated film. “I’m fascinated by technology and its impact on us as humans; our psychology, sense of self-identification, and our deeply ingrained sense of spirituality,” explains Veselin Efremov, creative director at Unity’s demo team. “I thought it would be fun to explore these existential and philosophical themes in the guise of a simpler adventure story.” The new short film is called The Heretic, and it lasts less than four minutes. In it, a man in a beat-up leather jacket, one that… Read the full article…

Nvidia is bringing ray tracing to old GPUs that can’t ray trace worth a damn

How do you convince gamers that they’re getting their money’s worth from a $500+ graphics card? Nvidia’s latest technique is pretty smart — it’s taking real-time ray tracing, an eye-popping if barely adopted feature previously exclusive to its pricey new RTX-series graphics cards, and bringing it to a whole bunch of older Nvidia GTX-series GPUs that can’t ray trace to save their lives. I’m partly joking. It’s pretty cool that I’ll soon be able to try out some “basic” DirectX Raytracing with my nearly three-year-old Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU! Here are the other graphics cards and chips that should be able to take advantage with a driver update this April: But seriously: Nvidia’s blog post seems explicitly designed to… Read the full article…