Saturday, April 30, 2011

Kaz Hirai to Address Media on PSN Security Breach

Sony will hold a press conference to discuss the company's recent security breach of its PlayStation Network services, Reuters reports. 

Executive deputy president Kazuo Hirai will address the media on Sunday afternoon in Japan to discuss a variety of issues, including updates on its investigation behind the breach and when the Network is scheduled to become operational again. 

The conference takes place at 2:00 PM in Tokyo (1:00 AM EST/10:00 PM PST). 

Dino D-Day Dissected on Video

Like dinosaurs?  Want to play with them in a FPS "shooter" type game?  Yes, your dreams have been answered.  Check out this video of Dino D-Day. A game set in WWII.

Watching this guy play is painful. I don't know if he just sucks that bad, or just allowing the soldiers to kill him. He is horrible. I wish they would get people that could actually play the game well. I never understood why they get someone who can't play a game and sucks at previewing.

Homeland Security looking into PSN outage

Are you fucking serious?

Domestic agency's Computer Emergency Readiness Team lending advice, hoping to glean lessons to prevent future attacks on government agencies; FBI on the case.

Law enforcement agencies are already looking into the PlayStation Network outage and data breach. Now the Department of Homeland Security is joining the investigation, according to a report on NextGov, a site dedicated to covering the intersection of technology and government.
"The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the recent cyber intrusion to Sony's PlayStation Network and Qriocity music service," DHS spokesman Chris Ortman told the site. "DHS' US Computer Emergency Readiness Team [CERT] is working with law enforcement, international partners, and Sony to assess the situation."
CERT is a subagency dedicated to helping companies that are the subject to cyberattacks evaluate their vulnerabilities and then recommend steps to remedy them. The goal is to take the lessons learned from the attacks and then offer them to other government agencies and private companies to promote overall cybersecurity.
"We're all in this together," said Patrick Burke, a senior vice president in the national security sector at SRA International, a DHS contractor. "We all need to understand that. There's an adversary that we're trying to defeat."
NextGov also re-confirmed that the FBI is helping Sony track down the hackers whose attack has kept the PSN down for a ninth day. "The FBI is aware of the reports concerning the alleged intrusion into the Sony online game server and we have been in contact with Sony concerning this matter," FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said in a statement. "We are presently reviewing the available information in an effort to determine the facts and circumstances concerning this alleged criminal activity."
Anyone with additional knowledge of the PSN hack should call the FBI at (858) 565-1255 or file a report online via the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Friday, April 29, 2011

PSN credit card data was encrypted, 'no evidence' it was taken

As day eight of the PlayStation Network outage nears day nine, Sony has posted a newQ&A regarding the data leak that accompanied the service disruption. Two days after itsaid that personal information was compromised, the PlayStation maker is trying to soothe customers' fears by saying that all credit card information submitted to the PSN was encoded.
"All of the data was protected, and access was restricted both physically and through the perimeter and security of the network," the company said in a statement on the officialPlayStation Blog. "The entire credit card table was encrypted and we have no evidence that credit card data was taken. The personal data table, which is a separate data set, was not encrypted, but was, of course, behind a very sophisticated security system that was breached in a malicious attack."
The company said that the reason it has warned customers that their credit card data may have been stolen was out of an "abundance of caution." The company also pointed out that users' credit card security codes--often called CVC or CSC numbers--were never stored on the PSN or Sony's Qriocity media service, which was also compromised in the attack. These three-digit codes are usually necessary to make an online transaction.
The day after Reuters reported that Sony was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cybercrime unit, the game giant also confirmed it is cooperating with "law enforcement." The company did not mention the FBI or any other agency by name, but it did reiterate it is also working with a "recognized technology security firm" on the matter.
Finally, Sony somewhat tempered the prediction it offered on Tuesday, when it said that some PSN services would be back up within a week. "We want to be very clear that we will only restore operations when we are confident that the network is secure," the company said.

Xbox division sales up 60%, 2.4 million more Kinects sold

The January-March quarter was a good one for Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, which includes the company's Xbox 360 business. The division saw revenue for the sector reach $1.94 billion, a year-over-year division increase of 60 percent.
The figure was largely fueled by robust sales of the Xbox 360, which moved 2.7 million units for the quarter--1 million more units than the previous January-March record. That brings life-to-date sales of the console to over 52.7 million units, as ithad sold 50 million units-plus as of the end of 2010. For the past several months, the 360 has been the top-selling home console in the US, according to figures from the NPD Group made public by Microsoft.
Also contributing to the EDD's haul were continuing robust sales of Kinect, which sold 2.4 million units sold during the quarter. As of March, the motion-sensing system had sold over 10 million units, making it thefastest-selling consumer electronics device according to the Guinness Book of World Records--a feat Microsoft reiterated today.
Overall, Microsoft saw revenue of $16.43 billion, a year-on-year increase of 13 percent over the same quarter--the third of Microsoft's fiscal year--in 2010. Fiscal third-quarter profits were $5.23 billion, or $0.61 per share.
"We delivered strong financial results despite a mixed PC environment, which demonstrates the strength and breadth of our businesses," chief financial officer Peter Klein said in a statement. "Consumers are purchasing Office 2010, Xbox, and Kinect at tremendous rates, and businesses of all sizes are purchasing Microsoft platforms and applications."


I put a vote up for people to do.  It's located on the left hand side.  Just scroll down a little bit and you'll see it.

Please vote so I can get a better understanding of who's doing what.

Thank you

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Getting Ready for Brink!!?

If you're the type of first-person shooter fan who thrives on headshots, sniping and camping, you're probably not going to like Brink. Splash Damage's shooter is all about team play. Expect to get routed if you're trying to do everything by yourself, because in Brink, it's simply not possible.

Built across each of the game's maps are numerous objectives, many of which can only be completed by a certain character class. Only Operatives can hack, for instance, so if you're running around as a Medic, your best bet to achieve victory is to shadow one around and provide revives and healing whenever possible. Brink launches in less than a month on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and it's looking quite good. If you're familiar with Splash Damage's past work with the Enemy Territory takes on the Wolfenstein and Quake universes, that shouldn't be a surprise. These guys have proven they know how to let you have fun while working together.

The difference in Brink is that it's Splash Damage's first game not tied to an existing fiction. It has a story, a bold art style and mechanics that are more comparable to Team Fortress than to Call of Duty. The various maps in the game can be played on either Resistance or Security sides in sequence, or can be played in random order if you'd rather. Before each match you'll see an in-game cut-scene with voice acting to frame the objectives, and a short while later you're right into the action.
Making field repairs.

In terms of accessibility, Brink veers toward the more hardcore side of the spectrum. I can pick it up and play only because I've been playing Splash Damage games for years, but if you're unfamiliar with this type of objective-based online play, it won't be an easy transition. Splash Damage does its best to lower the barrier for entry by providing video tutorials. Full bot support is also included in Brink, which means if you don't want live players in your game, you won't need them. The artificial intelligence will run around maps and fight, complete objectives and use special class abilities just like real players would, letting you experience Brink without having to deal with fully leveled-up vets blasting you to pieces every five seconds. Considering the focus on team play, it's good to know that a game isn't ruined when one player drops out of an online match. When that happens, an AI will simply take over, meaning your team isn't suddenly one man down and you can continue on without interruption. 

The four classes all get guns, but feature a wide range of class-specific abilities. These are unlocked as you progress through the game and dump points into skill trees. Medics heal and revive, Engineers build and repair, Operative put on disguises and hack, and Soldiers like to blow things up. Further along in the skill trees more powerful upgrades unlock, giving Engineers better speed for building turrets and mines and increasing the frag grenade blasts of Soldiers. Between the skills, primary and secondary weapons and outfits, there's a lot to acquire and customize while leveling up, which should ideally help maintain Brink's appeal in the months after launch. 

Anyone who likes the Spy from Team Fortress or the Infiltrator from Quake Wars will likely gravitate toward the Operative. When this class makes a kill, it can grab a disguise from the body and take on the appearance of the opposing team. There's no backstab mechanic in Brink, but there is a melee attack. If you manage to put on a disguise and sneak into the enemy ranks, or better yet find an isolated target, you can then smash them with your gun, knock them over and unload a few shots for a quick kill. Then you scoop up a disguise from the body without giving anything away. 

Of course I made that sound a lot easier than it actually is. As tends to happen in team games where someone can stealth, the opposing team is going to be wary of those suspiciously hovering around behind the front lines of battle waiting for someone to turn their back. You have to be smart about maneuvering around. Keep in mind that there are multiple stages of death in Brink too. If you get shot enough you'll keel over but, instead of dying, exist in a near-death state where you can either wait for a medic or for the respawn timer to count down. To steal a disguise, your enemy will need to be fully dead, which means you should shoot or melee the enemy on the ground until he stops twitching. You still need to wait a few seconds after initiating the disguise command for it to actually take effect, so trying to do this on bodies out in the open isn't going to work consistently. 

On the run.

Disguising can be used for more than just making kills. It's also useful for walking around unnoticed on your way to capture objectives as well as causing chaos on an enemy team when they realize there's an imposter in their ranks, making them susceptible to a coordinated push by your team. Again, communication is a key to success. 

Often on a map you'll find yourself with the option of pursing multiple objectives. The primary one might be to escort a wheeled machine to a certain spot, but in the meantime you can find ways to capture command posts or open side doors or construct barricades, meaning the fight isn't always limited to one specific area. Splash Damage makes travel between all these points of interest faster with its contextual movement system where, by holding a button, your character will rapidly vault and climb while running to maintain speed, which seems especially useful to avoid getting stuck on the wrong side of a ramp's railing or accessing less exposed walkways to move around the map without absorbing too many bullets. 

This is just one of the many ways to play in Splash Damage's game, which hopefully lives up to the studio's pedigree when it's released early next month.

Call of Duty Zombies: Call of the Dead Trailer (Escaltion)

Here's a little preview of the new expansion, "Escaltion".

Brink Gameplay Movie 1 (Get Smart: Objectives)

I would have posted it for April 27th, but with the giant post and several other smaller post, I thought I'd save this for today.  Here's a video that is just about five (5) minutes long.  It seems to just replay some of the crap we've already seen in other videos, just in a female voice.

Shows some recycled footage along with some new footage.  This actually shows the slower pace of the game.  Looking good!  I love the heavy cowboy that comes in with his minigun.  WHOOA!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sounding Off On Brink

One of the most visually striking games on the horizon is also no slouch in the audio department. Splash Damage on sound design.

Brink is certainly one of the most striking looking shooters coming in 2011, but it's also going to sound amazing. The attention to detail on the aural side of things is staggering, and the lion's share of the credit goes to Splash Damage's Audio Director Chris Sweetman, who has gone to great lengths to create a layered soundscape, as you'll find out if you read on…

IGN AU: You started out working in film – how different is the approach to directing audio in a game as opposed to film?

Chris Sweetman: 
If I'm honest, the process of actually designing the sounds is really no different. The big difference is the non-linear approach video games take instead of the linear approach you see in film, plus the implementation of sounds and music within memory constraints. 

In film, you will generally approach it scene by scene and multiple sound editors will work on different scenes. The supervising sound editor will manage these teams and make sure that the sound is consistent through the reels in collaboration with the director. This process will normally take around four months. 

AAA video games are worked on for upwards of two years, so the process is much more iterative. You might also find that certain features won't arrive until the last six months (such as cinematic or dialogue recording). Implementation is the big difference with us having to orchestrate thousands of sounds in real-time over the course of play! 

IGN AU: How did the transition across to games come about? What appealed to you about working in this medium?

Chris Sweetman: 
When working in film during the early 90s I began to feel that the video game industry was pioneering in a lot of areas, and I figured that eventually the audio would follow a similar model to film. In my opinion everything had been done in film audio that could be done, but interactive audio excited me, and I've been passionate about it for over 15 years now. 

In film you don't tend to have one person doing all the audio - you play to individuals' strengths and experience by having specific roles, such as sound designers, dialogue editors, foley editors and so on. The games industry hadn't started doing this in 1995, so there were practically no specific roles as "Sound Designer" when I began looking for a way in. 

Luckily I met with a like-minded chap called Pat Phelan who was the audio manager at Gremlin Interactive. He was as forward-thinking as I was, and I had a job! 

From films like Goldeneye to games such as Burnout Paradise, Sweetman has worked his audio magic on some cool projects.

IGN AU: What are the challenges of working with sound in an active soundscape where you don't have complete control?

Chris Sweetman: 
It can be a real challenge, but we do have control over most aspects of audio playback. 

One of the biggest challenges is creating space so that every sound can be heard properly, especially in first-person shooters when you potentially have 16 characters all firing their weapons at the same time! We use many tools at our disposal to make sure that when this does happen -- and it will -- you are not faced with a wall of cacophonous sound! 

One of my processes is to look at how to create harmony very early on in the development cycle by making sure that three main focus areas are all designed with that in mind. In the case of Brink, these were Weapons, Explosions & Foley: 

I made sure that each faction would have different weapon sounds even if they were using a re-skinned version of the same weapon. Each faction's weapons are designed as different timbres (kind of like voices in a choir). This means that when you hear lots of weapons being fired at the same time in the game, your chances of it sounding harmonious are greatly increased. 

14 different audio samples are layered together to create the game's baseline shotgun blast sound. You can hear it here.

We designed the explosions so they were different timbres to the weapons, which in turn means that they don't occupy the same sonic space as the weapons. 

Each character class has its own set of footsteps and Foley. This even changes depending on how much clothing you are wearing, again meaning that the chances of the sonic landscape cluttering up are limited. 

It's like betting on a horse race while knowing which horses will cross the line first. 

IGN AU: In a game like Brink, where there are multiple class-types, is an effort made to make each one sound distinctive? Could a trained-ear tell the difference between classes on the battlefield just by listening?

Chris Sweetman: 
For Brink I decided to let the dynamic mission auto-chatter handle most of that work. For instance, the Medic is the only one who will hear people shouting for a Medic, while an Engineer is the only class who hears "I'm stuck on a mine." 

Aside from that, each body type has different sets of footsteps, so it is possible to tell what size of character is coming around that corner up ahead. 

Your footsteps betray you, Luke. Oh, sorry, n00bpwner69.

IGN AU: One aspect of sound creation that is generally overlooked is Foley work. How much detail did you go into to try and achieve realistic sounding movement for all the physical abilities at the player's disposal? Are these sounds distinguishable enough to know whether someone is sliding towards you or vaulting over your head?

Chris Sweetman: 
I'm really glad you guys picked up on this, as I wholeheartedly agree. 

For me Foley is the undiscovered country in video games. It can be so powerful in aiding the player experience, but sadly it's never given the attention it deserves in most titles. Foley was a massive focus for me on Brink; we spent three days at Shepperton Studio recording every footstep, every gun rattle, and every slide, so that we could really go to town on the Foley detailing. Each of our three different body types has its own set of footsteps, scuffs, stops and starts on every surface in the game. 

Weapon Foley was another big focus, with each weapon having its own set of weapon movement. -- for example, the sounds change depending on if you are walking or using the SMART system. We also have sets of sounds for mantling, wall jumps, climbing and sliding. 

I've taken an unusual approach with particular sounds in Brink. One such example would be the sliding, where you can actually hear the slide further away than you would normally. I felt it was an important gameplay choice, and made sure that even from a fair distance away you would hear it. 

So yes, you can definitely hear if someone has just vaulted over your head or is sliding around a corner! 

IGN AU: Your game features different ranges of sound depending on how you're shooting and how close you are to another player's gunfire. How did you achieve this and do you feel it will make the sound effects stand out significantly?

Chris Sweetman: 
The major difference with Brink is that we change the sound when aiming down the sights and focus more on the mechanical aspect of the weapon. The reason for this is twofold: first, it really allows the player to focus on the target without a huge weapon sound creating a distraction, and second, it also permits me to play with the style aspect of the weapon sounds. The iron sights are designed specifically for each weapon, and sit underneath the main weapon sound. When the player moves into iron sights, we lower the normal weapon sound in volume and add the mechanical layer in real-time. 

In regards to the other player's gunfire, we use varying stages of distance from the player to play back different sound content. There are three distinct stages - near, mid and far - and the engine crossfades these samples depending on how far the other player is away from you. The great thing about this method is that it fills out your background ambience with an interactive battle. Every weapon sound you hear is what is happening on the battlefield right now! 

On top of that, we also filter the ambience of each player through our auto chatter system, so when you get a message from another player over the radio, the soundscape at their location can be heard in the background. 

Auto chatter sounds awesome, but can it also filter out foul-mouthed 12 year olds? Now that would be valuable tech.

IGN AU: How do you achieve clarity of sound when you have up to 16 players in an area, all running, jumping, speaking and firing at the same time?

Chris Sweetman: 
We decided early on that achieving sonic space was the most important thing for us to solve, and our Audio Programmer Simon Price and myself spent months on working out different systems to cull sounds. 

Eventually we settled on various solutions. One of the big ones was Simon creating our version of HDR (High Dynamic Range) audio, which at its most basic is an automatic mixing system that scans the volume of a WAV file and decides what the playback volume should be based on the distance from the player. 

Alongside HDR we also have a snapshot mixer system which ducks groups of sounds dependent on game states that we set up. For instance, when one of the commanders is speaking to the player about pertinent game information, we duck all other sounds in the world by about 30% to allow him to be heard. 

IGN AU: What aspect of your work on Brink are you most proud of? What should we strain our ears to hear when the game comes out?

Chris Sweetman: 
I'm most proud of the Foley and sonic clarity that we have in Brink. You can hear every sound -- and when you have massive battles raging that's a real bonus!

Get SMART! Brink video

Here's a little 4:00 minute video of "the basics".  It is stuff you already know, but does talk about things we should know. This is for the people who don't really know anything about the game. Enjoy it.

It's a cool video and it's more Brink, what else do you want?!  BRINK!  13 more day for the US folk, 15 more days for the UK guys.  Friday the 13th for you Brits.


I'm sorry all my Playstation fans, but I just have to laugh.  It really does suck that you guys and gals cannot play anything (I'm not even sure if Netflix works) because of the current events.

I also warn anyone from buying or even downloading anything.  Since SONY has admitted their incompetence about their weak security, I would be very wary about what do.

Doesn't anyone wonder about how a group of hackers hacked into a multi-billion dollar company?  I thought Sony was actually a bit more geared with better security, but I think with all the things they removed from the "fat PS3 (3rd party OS, backwards compatibly) the people finally got fed up.

I will say I am an XBOX fanboy, but I want to say this.  Hasn't anyone noticed how much Sony DOESN'T listen to their users?   You can say whatever you want about Microsoft and the "RROD", but that shit is overplayed.  I have used the same damn XBOX for over two years and never had an issue.  Also, haven't you noticed that the XBOX Live is just... better.  Microsoft listens to their users and adds features people like.  Sony, they remove more shit then ever.

Well, to all you Sony gamers.

Sorry you guys can't play anything.  Real bummer.

Sony confirms personal PSN data compromised, 'some services' back up 'within a week'

100th post!!!!!

Sony has entered the seventh day of its PlayStation Network outage, and the situation has turned from bad to worse. Offering an update on the "external intrusion" that gave the Japanese electronics company cause to brings its online service for the PlayStation 3 and PSP offline, Sony has confirmed that personal information has been compromised.
"We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network," a Sony spokesperson confirmed on the company's official blog.
As for what that means to PSN and Qriocity users, Sony said that "an unauthorized person" has gained access to such identifying information as registrants "name, address (city, state, zip), country, e-mail address, birth date, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID." Sony recently told a group of investors that the PSN currently has some 75 million registered users.
According to the publisher, it is also possible that the intruder may have gleaned certain profile data, including "purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers."
Sony also confirmed speculation that credit card data may have been compromisedas part of the attack. "While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility," the Sony spokesperson said. "If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained."
Sony is taking a three-pronged approach to addressing the situation. The first, as many gamers have noticed, has been to indefinitely bring down the PSN and Qriocity media service. Sony said that it has also "engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened." Finally, the publisher said that it is currently taking steps to "enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by rebuilding our system."
Sony noted that US PSN and Qriocity users can contact credit-monitoring agenciesExperianEquifax, and TransUnion for a free "fraud alert" that ensures credit agencies will take extra precautionary measures toward identity verification. The publisher notes that this fraud alert may impede the expediency of legitimate credit requests.
Luckily there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, with Sony saying, "We have a clear path to have PlayStation Network and Qriocity systems back online and expect to restore some services within a week."
[UPDATE] Meanwhile, the PSN outage is beginning to draw attention from the highest levels of the US government. In a letter to Sony Computer Entertainment America president and CEO Jack Tretton, US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has called on Sony to offer full disclosure to PSN users if their information was compromised and to offer two years of free access to credit reporting services to check if their credit was adversely affected. "Affected individuals should also be provided with sufficient insurance to protect them from the possible financial consequences of identity theft," Blumenthal said.