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Archive for April, 2019

HangZhou Night Net

NinjaBee has released two games on the Live Arcade already: Cloning Clyde and the addicting Outpost Kaloki X. This week, the developer come back with the turn-based tactical game Band of Bugs. The game promises gameplay deep enough for the more demanding audience yet inviting enough for casual gamers. That's a tall order, but let's not be downbeat. The feature list is impressive.

Choose to play through a story-based campaign, stand-alone missions or skirmishesStory-based campaign:
Action and adventure in a single-player
campaign story! Follow the adventures of young Maal as he leads an
elite team of bug warriors to protect the kingdom from evil insect
enemies.Stand-alone missions: Try your hand at one of these unique single-level scenarios. These short battles include
a background story, unique events and custom goals.Skirmish: Test your
skills on a variety of individual maps, including custom maps designed
by the player with
the in-game editor! Select a game type (Elimination, Capture, or
Escape) and choose to control any party in the battle to demonstrate
your superior tactical skill.Four unique multiplayer modes for up to 4 players either locally or over Xbox LIVE, including:
Elimination:The first team to lose all the bugs in one party loses the battle!Capture:Capture (or defend) a strong point.Escape:Reach an escape point, or stop the enemy from reaching it.Mission: A unique scenario with custom story, events, and goals.Challenge friends to Spider Hunter, a more relaxed game that allows up to 8 people to join and leave on the
fly!Use the game’s built-in
level editor to design your own custom scenarios for play against
others over Xbox LIVE (a first for an Xbox
LIVE Arcade game!)Xbox LIVE Vision camera support in all Xbox LIVE multiplayer modes.Mystery leaderboard where players earn points for items they are not told about – Players can check the board
and figure out what will help them get to the top of the leaderboard!

There seems to be a lot of meat here, and if the mechanics hold up to the laundry list of neat features we're in for a treat. The game will go for 800 points ($10). We'll give you a heads up when the game is released.

Although WWDC is technically over, discussion about the information that came out of it is far from it. You guys have yet to see even half of the videos that we have queued up for you—trust me, they get better in both quality and content. One of the videos we're prepping up is a spliced-together version of all the developers we talked to, answering the same few questions. One of those questions was "What do you think the real reason was for Apple to avoid opening up the iPhone to developers?" HangZhou Night Net

And I've gotta say, Mac developers are an optimistic bunch. So very, very optimistic. By far, the most common answers to the question were either that Apple "wasn't ready" and that they had decided to give devs something to work with too late before launch, or that Apple simply wanted to release a super-solid product with no possibility for anything to go wrong upon launch. In all cases, everyone said that they believed in their hearts that the "true" SDK was "coming."

It's endearing. Many of these devs are friends of mine, for whom I hold a lot of respect. Who wouldn't want to develop something for the iPhone? I'd like to remain optimistic alongside this collection of extremely bright folks, but some discussions with close friends of mine inside Apple make me think twice about that optimism.

An old friend of mine from college (who, as you would expect, has requested to remain anonymous) is an Apple engineer who is not on the iPhone team himself but has regular interaction with folks from the team. "It's not that it's not ready," he told us when asked about the non-SDK announcement at the keynote. "The issue here is security, right? Everything on the iPhone interacts directly with the kernel, and so there's a major concern about letting unsigned apps from developers just go in there and start interacting with the kernel along with everything else. Sure, Google's apps (such as Google Maps) are technically third-party, but they hand over signed code that we know we can trust. Not everyone can do that.

"Then, what happens when customers start installing these apps and they don't all get along? Suddenly now you have a phone—one of the most important devices some people own—that might be crashing and preventing calls from being made and received. Not only is that annoying to the customer, that's a lot for the companies' customer service to deal with. And to have to tell people 'well, it's not our fault, it's actually this third-party app that you installed' doesn't always go over so well with the general populace," he added.

Then came the million-dollar question and the slightly-less-than-million-dollar answer. Will there ever be an iPhone SDK that resides outside of Safari?

"This is just my opinion, and I could very well be proven wrong in the future," he warned. "But based on what I know, I don't personally believe that there will ever be an open iPhone SDK. Not like the one everyone seems to want, anyway."

Don't shoot the messenger, folks.

Immersion has been in the news in recent years largely on account of their legal beatdown of Sony. The haptics feedback company took both Microsoft and Sony to court over the presence of haptic feedback technology in their controllers back in 2002, and Microsoft settled for $26 million and a few surprises (more on that in a minute). Sony, on the other hand, defended their PlayStation 2 DualShock controller, but once the smoke and appeals cleared, Sony was on the hook for more than $90 million. HangZhou Night Net

When Sony claimed that the lack of haptic feedback in the PS3 controller was due to "rumble" being "last-gen," we pointed to the lawsuit as evidence that bad blood was ultimately fueling the decision. Curiously, once the settlement was in place, Sony said that they "look forward to exploring with Immersion exciting new ways to bring the largest and best range of gameplay experiences to our customers." As it turns out, some gamers like rumble, and it looks like rumble may be returning to the PS3.

The bad blood may have been cleared up between Sony and Immersion, but there's a new fight brewing between Microsoft and Immersion. The company is suing Immersion for breach of contract, having failed to pay proper consideration to Microsoft for a very interesting agreement between the two parties.

"We entered into a binding licensing agreement with Immersion and are seeking to have that agreement honored," said Microsoft associate general counsel Steve Aeschbacher in a statement. "Our request to the court is that all companies and industry partners should play by the same rules and that the binding agreement we signed with Immersion be honored."

Just what hasn't been honored? The complaint details the Sublicense Agreement (SLA) that Microsoft and Immersion entered into in 2003, following the settlement between the two parties. According to the complaint, the SLA entitles Microsoft to a minimum $15 million payment as a result of Immersion's settlement with Sony. Microsoft and Immersion apparently agreed to share the bounty that would stem from a court battle with Sony, and Microsoft says they have yet to be paid. In fact, Microsoft had a stepped arrangement which provided that additional compensation should be paid to the company if the total settlement amount surpassed $100 million, which Microsoft believes it has. How can that be true if the Sony settlement was for just $90 million?

Microsoft accuses Immersion of having failed to promptly disclose the full terms of their settlement with Sony, and they also accuses the company of "actively attempting to characterize its agreements with Sony as something other that [sic] what they are—a settlement." The accusation is that Immersion categorized part of the settlement as "licensing" of new technology. Microsoft sees any licensing stemming from the suit as being part of the settlement proper, and they want their cut.

Thus Microsoft says that in addition to the original $15 million "base obligation" owed as a result of the SLA, the agreement also entitles Microsoft to compensation for an additional amount to be determined at trial.

Several hours after publication, Immersion responded to our requests for comment. You can read Immersion's side of the story over at Opposable Thumbs.

I made a bit of a pledge to myself a little over a month ago: I would get back into shape. I recently moved into my late twenties and wanted to feel better about my fitness level and less winded after somewhat routine athletic activity. At one point in my life, I was in good shape. I was competing in athletics. I just lacked the motivation that working with a team once offered. HangZhou Night Net

So like any good geek, I spent money as a means for motivation. I went out and bought myself an Nike+iPod Sport Kit. It's not a terribly large amount of money at $29.95, but the combination of technology and a small investment was enough to get me out and running. I have now completed my first month of training and thought I would take some time over the next week and talk about some of the things that have made my running experiences more "enjoyable" (or as enjoyable as running can possibly be). Sure the kit has been out for a while, but if this inspires even one person to start running again, then score.

I ran into a problem almost immediately with my Nike+iPod Sport Kit: like so many, I don't fit into Nike's shoes. If you don't know already, most Nike running shoes have a divot taken out of the insole so you can place the sensor portion of the kit inside the shoe. I had a few different options: I could cut a hole into the insole of my shoes, I could "tie" the sensor into the laces, or I could buy a pouch for the sensor. Being what some may consider frugal, I decided to lace the device into my shoes: it took only a few days before I gave up on this tactic. The sensor would slip around no matter how tightly it was tied in, and there was always that uneasy feeling that it would squirt out of my shoe completely. Add this to the inconsistency of the distances I was running, and I was ready to pony up a nominal amount of money for a pouch.

The pouch that I bought was made by Grantwood Technology and cost me around $7.00 shipped from Amazon. It is simply a pouch with a black with a white logo on the front. When laced into your sneakers, the opening faces your laces, so there is nowhere for the sensor to go which equates to peace of mind.

I had an initial concern when I received the unit: at the time I wore my running shoes for more then just running and had to take the sensor out of my shoe after each run to save battery life. I was worried that with the way the pouch laced into the shoe, I wouldn't be able to get the sensor out without unlacing my entire shoe. It turned out that my fear was unfounded, and the sensor was easily enough removed. Since then I've gone to running-only shoes, Saucony Hurricane 8s, and I am glad I did. I'm also glad that I don't have to squeeze my feet into the sausage casings that are Nike's shoe line.