SAN FRANCISCO--On a regular basis, two of the things I most like to write about are Lego and virtual worlds. So when I first heard about Lego Universe, a Lego-themed virtual world, well, I was more than a little interested.
Lego Universe, which, sadly, is still about two years from public release, will be a full-scale MMO (massively multiplayer online game) aimed at Lego's core audience, kids ages 8 to 12. But in keeping with the company's awareness of the millions of adults who are utterly devoted to the iconic toys, there is expected to be something for … Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--In a frenetic keynote address at the Game Developers Conference here, Microsoft showed off the next phase of a strategy it claims will "democratize" game development and distribution.
For several years, Microsoft has been working on its XNA Studio, a platform that allows anyone to create games for the Xbox and for Windows.
But now, the company is expanding the XNA offering to allow the best community-created games to be uploaded to and distributed from Xbox Live.
Microsoft is calling the new offering its "Creators Club," and the idea is to present the Xbox Live … Read more
For those who came in late, Blu-ray has won the format war.
On Wednesday, online retailer Amazon.com became the latest to declare its support for the victorious high-definition technology, announcing that it "will more prominently promote Blu-ray hardware and software products on its Web site." The company will not, however, discontinue its sales of HD DVD products.
"The high-definition landscape is rapidly changing, and consumers are looking for guidance on how to make the best high-definition buying decisions," Peter Faricy, Amazon's vice president of movies and music, said in a statement from the company. &… Read more
I've just made a small orange cube disappear with my mind. No hands necessary.
I'm testing out the San Francisco company's so-called brain control interface, the latest iteration of technology it first showed off a year ago, but which, unlike last year, is now almost ready for prime time.
The idea is a blending of hardware and software: A headset that seems a little like the one from the James Cameron-written 1995 film, Strange Days, complete with a set of sensors that are built to read your brain waves.
The software then is designed to interpret those … Read more
There's been a lot of progress in the world of high definition in the last few days. HD DVD has fallen, and just yesterday, video host Dailymotion rolled out its new HD player. While every visitor of the site with a fast broadband connection has access to the new HD player, only two types of content providers can actually upload HD content to it. The first are the official content providers like movie studios and TV networks. The second, are motionmakers--Dailymotion's equivalent of YouTube's director program. Anyone can become a motionmaker; they just need to state … Read more
If ever there was a time for a famous futurist to be giving a keynote address at the Game Developers Conference, this is it.
When Ray Kurzweil, the author of The Singularity is Near and one of the most noted futurists around, takes the stage at GDC 2008 in San Francisco on Thursday to talk about "the next 20 years of gaming," he'll be weighing in at a moment in the industry's existence when the lines between games and Hollywood and advertising are blurring, when the term "gamer" encompasses 75-year-old grandmothers and when the … Read more
Well, that's it. Toshiba appears to be pulling the plug on HD DVD. Toshiba has not commented publicly, but a report on Japan's NHK says Toshiba has made the decision to withdraw from next generation high-definition DVD production.
This news certainly doesn't come as surprise to anyone remotely following HD DVD's format war with rival Blu-ray. HD DVD had suffered a string of defections, with Warner, Netflix, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart all recently pledging their alliance to Blu-ray.
The NHK report says existing HD DVD products will remain on the market for a while, but Toshiba … Read more
A new report from Nielsen Online finds that women are nearly twice as likely as men to watch streaming video on broadcast network TV sites, at least in the 18-to-34 age range.
And men are two-and-a-half times more likely to watch video from the top consumer-generated media Web sites--YouTube, MySpace, Veoh, and Break.com--according to analysis of statistics gathered by Nielsen Online's new VideoCensus service.
Another thing that's interesting from the report is when the viewing of all this streaming video is being done. Most of the network TV watching online is happening during the lunch hours of … Read more
Despite the immediate threat of a hostile takeover by Microsoft, Yahoo's kicked it into high gear. In just two weeks Yahoo has released a hot new product (Yahoo Live), announced mobile social communication tool OneConnect, acquired online video platform provider Maven Networks, killed off its music service and replaced it with Rhapsody, and launched a completely new version of collaboration suite Zimbra.
This morning the parade of changes continues with the relaunch of Yahoo Video. Besides an all new layout, Yahoo Video is coming a little closer to YouTube. It is emphasizing editor-chosen content alongside the most popular videos on the service. One of them being the new trailer for Indiana Jones, which oddly enough looks significantly better, and is available in HD on Yahoo's Movies property.
The Flash video player (the most important part of the service) has been given a face-lift with slightly higher resolutions and a new wide-screen display that can be embedded on blogs or other Web sites. User file size limits have been increased to 150MB, letting users upload larger videos files sizes that tend to come with wide-screen clips. Standard 4:3 video simply plays in the player with black bars on each side.
Also revamped are personal profiles. Users can create playlists and embed them on third party pages. Like YouTube's efforts, there are tiny thumbnails for each clip, and the creator can swap the order and choose whether it plays continuously.
New to the mix are "networks," which are a simple way to browse content by genre. The videos come from various Yahoo properties, and each network is skinned to match. It's a distinctively different feel at each network, and does a much better job at encapsulating content and the feel for each brand than YouTube's efforts with its partner channels.