Historically, it's been easy to point to success with traditional MMOs: subscription numbers were the ultimate means a company used to measure how well a game was doing, and customers typically looked at those same numbers as well to gauge the success of the game. The number of concurrent users-how many players are online at a given time-was also important, but that number was usually hidden from users, since it typically painted a less rosy picture of a game's health when compared to the number of active subscriptions. Now let me pose a second question: If the success of a subscription-based MMO is measured by the number of people paying a monthly fee, how does that impact game design decisions?
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John Carmack has been building a virtual reality headset in his spare time. He's showing it to people behind closed doors at this year's E3, tucked away inside the Bethesda booth, and described it as "probably the best VR demo the world has ever seen." Our video hero, David Boddington, was the 30th person in the world to use it.Check the link for a 20 minute video with Carmack on virtual reality, why he decided to tackle headsets, the latency of the human mind, and the first footage of one his handmade prototypes.
Out of necessity, Diablo 3's reward system has to account for the Auction House. Because equipment is never destroyed, in-game rewards can never be too frequent or powerful or they will flood the Auction House, eventually trivializing game difficulty. There have been many solutions proposed, but the reward system seems so intertwined with the Auction House that it's difficult to see a radical change coming. Blizzard's response over the next few patches will be very interesting to watch.
Salt consumption is said to raise blood pressure, cause hypertension and increase the risk of premature death. This is why the Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines still consider salt Public Enemy No. 1, coming before fats, sugars and alcohol. It's why the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested that reducing salt consumption is as critical to long-term health as quitting cigarettes.And yet, this eat-less-salt argument has been surprisingly controversial -- and difficult to defend. Not because the food industry opposes it, but because the actual evidence to support it has always been so weak.
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In a statement last week, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said Abbott's claim that consumers would pay three times more for broadband under the NBN was "just wrong". "Prices for NBN plans released to date are cheaper than, or equivalent to, existing ADSL plans, but with much improved quality of service," Conroy added. "For example, Skymesh is offering NBN services from $29.95 per month. Exetel's entry-level plan costs $35.00 per month. A number of other retail providers, including Optus, offer NBN services starting from $39.95 and $49.95 per month. Thanks to the NBN, competition between retail providers is increasing.""Tony Abbott should check his facts before delivering a national address in the Australian Parliament."Another aspect of Abbott's speech may also be incorrect; his statement that the funds being ploughed into rolling out the NBN could be invested instead in building transport infrastructure such as roads, whilst still leaving "$10 billion" to invest in broadband as well.Abbott made this same claim in February. However, at the time, analysis showed that the NBN is not an expense in terms of the Federal Government's annual budget, and cutting the project would not free up money to be spent in other areas. This is because the project is an investment expected to make a return for the government -- a long-term profit. That return is currently projected to be between $1.93 billion to $3.92 billion.
Diablo 3 comes out in a couple weeks. I'm giving it the coveted award for "Biggest Comeback In System Design." Diablo 2's ability system was so bad that it's almost unbelievable, while the way Diablo 3 handles ability customization is one of the very best systems I've seen.
The European Space Agency is preparing a mission to explore Jupiter and its moons. JUICE will launch in 2022 in search of liquid water that could contain life. Europe is to mount a 1 billion-euro mission to Jupiter and its icy moons, moving ahead with an ambitious plan deemed too expensive by the United States. After more than eight years of review, the European Space Agency (ESA) has given the green light to a space program to explore the giant gas plant and several of its moons - in search of liquid oceans that may harbor life.
This is as much about a human future in space as it is about scraping some gold out of an asteroid. The fuel and resource depots developed for the mining project could serve as a jumping-off point for both robotic and manned missions to the outer Solar System. Planetary Resources is run by people that love science and technology, and want to see humans continue advancing.Planetary Resources Chief Engineer Chris Lewicki has been making the rounds online talking about the technical side of the initiative, and he indicates that there is still another advantage to the mining project. When we're not scooping out their insides, asteroids sometimes make suicide runs at Earth. Numerous mass extinctions have been caused by large impact events.
Given the vast number of planets in the universe, many much older than Earth, why haven't we yet seen obvious signs of alien life, or singularity fields? The potential answers to this question are numerous and intriguing, alarming and hopeful. This brilliant TEDEducation animated exploration of the famous Fermi Paradox is narrated by Chris Anderson. This animation is part of TED's new series, "Questions no one knows the answer to".