Video game console

You’re the Only One not Playing with Unity

It wasn’t too long ago that one could conjecture that most hackers are not avid video game players. We spend most of our free time taking things apart, tinkering with microcontrollers and reading the latest [Jenny List] article on Hackaday.com. When we do think of video games, our neurons generally fire in the direction of emulating a console on a single board computer, such as a Raspberry Pi or a Beaglebone. Or even emulating the actual console processor on an FPGA. Rarely do we venture off into 3D programs meant to make modern video games. If we can’t export an .STL with it, we’re not interested. It’s just not our bag.

Oculus Rift changed this. The VR headset was originally invented for 3D video games, but quickly became a darling to hackers the world over. Virtual Reality technology is far bigger than just video games, and brings opportunity to many fields such as real estate, construction, product visualization, education, social interaction… the list goes on and on.

The Oculus team got together with the folks over at Unity in the early days to make it easy for video game makers to make content for the Rift. Unity is a game engine designed with a shallow learning curve and is available for free for non-commercial use. The Oculus Rift can be integrated into a Unity environment with the check of a setting and importing a small package, available on the Oculus site. This makes it easy for anyone interested in VR technology to get a Rift and start pumping out content.

Hackers have taken things a step further and have written scripts that allow Unity to communicate with an Arduino. VR is fun. But VR plus physical reality is just down right exciting! In this article, we’re going to walk you through setting up your Oculus Rift and Unity game engine to communicate with the outside world via an Arduino.

Off the Shelf Options

If you head over to the Unity Asset page and run a search for Arduino, you get a few options. Sadly, searches for Raspberry Pi do not yield any fruit. There are a few generic serial communication options such as Simple Serial and SD Serial, but these options are not free and do not, at face value, appear to be well supported. Unidino looks promising, but it’s thirty bucks and there’s not much activity on the forum. The obvious choice to play around with on a rainy day is ARDunity. There’s a free version that still has plenty of capability to experiment with, and it’s well supported and documented. It’s written in more of a WYSIWYG style that can be off-putting to coders, but it will have to suffice until someone bangs out more advanced version.

Getting Started

We’re assuming that you already have Arduino and Oculus setup on your PC. If you don’t have an Oculus Rift, we recommend to go to the Oculus site and install the software anyway. It will allow you to test the Unity/Arduino communication through the Oculus run-time even if you don’t have the hardware. This way when you do get a headset, you won’t have to do anything. Just execute the .exe and you’ll see your work in VR. Note that they used to prevent the software from installing on computers that did not meet the minimum requirements….

How to Free Up Space On Your Nintendo Switch’s Internal Storage

The Nintendo Switch comes with a meager 32GB of storage. You can expand your storage with an SD card, but that’s still a pretty small amount of space on your console. Here are several ways you can clear up internal storage space, or at least offload some of that data to an SD card.

By default, if you have an SD card installed in your Switch, the console will automatically store downloaded games and screenshots to it until it’s full. If you started using your console without an SD card, or if you don’t have one, you might need to clean house once in a while.

There are two ways to delete games on the Switch. You can either delete them, which will take all your game save data with it, or you can “archive” them. Archiving a game will delete all of the game data (which takes up the bulk of the space on your console) but leave your game saves where they are. That way, if you download the game again in the future, you don’t have to start over.

This is important because your game saves are only stored on your console. Nintendo doesn’t sync your game saves, let you back them up, or even copy them to your SD card. If you delete a game from your console, your game save is gone forever. So if you haven’t played Breath of the Wild for a bit and want to delete it to make room for something else, archive it instead. For that reason we almost always recommend archiving instead of deleting games if you ever want to come back to them.

If a game is installed on your Switch’s internal storage, you’ll also need to archive it in order to move it over to your SD card. Start by inserting your SD card, then archive the game you want to move. Once it’s gone, re-download the game from the eStore and…

8 Misleading Gadget Marketing Gimmicks

Consumers now have thousands of computers, tablets, e-readers, phones, game consoles, and other gadgets to choose from. Unfortunately, technology marketing teams have a frustrating history of creating misleading marketing campaigns — from the commercials they create to the facts listed on product listings. Here are eight misleading marketing gimmicks to be aware of before you purchase any new tech toys.

1. PlayStation 4 Pro’s 4K graphics

The new PlayStation has been marketed as a new 4K gaming experience. Despite the marketing claims, developers have begun to admit that the console doesn’t have the processing power to render a true 4K image. Instead, the PS4 Pro fills in half of the required pixels for a 4K image (like a checkerboard) and utilizes an algorithm to fill in the missing pixels for a 4K screen, which will still result in a high definition gaming experience, but not technically 4K.

The PS4 Pro will be close enough to 4K image that most gamers won’t be able to tell the difference. Mislabeling the PS4 Pro as 4K isn’t malicious, but it’s still indicative of an industry that continually oversells image quality as true 4K.

2. Video game trailers with misleading images

Video games, every once in awhile, mislead gamers about the quality of the graphics. Gamers awed by the trailers, purchase the game, and then are disappointed by the poorer-than-advertised image quality. Game marketers hoodwink gamers in two ways: pre-rendered images and cross console game images.

No Man’s Sky has come under fire (and an investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority) for using concept art and pre-rendered footage to advertise their game in a manner that over-exaggerates the graphics.

In 2010, Final Fantasy XIII’s trailer was banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for using PlayStation 3 clips to advertise the Xbox 360 version of the game. The trailer convinced individuals to purchase the game, only for them to discover the Xbox 360 version of the game had lower quality graphics.

3. Available storage space

Available memory is an important aspect of many purchases. Is 8GB enough? Or would a 32GB device be better? Each consumer needs to make an educated decision which device best fits their needs. The problem is that tech manufacturers often choose to not advertise how much of the memory has already been used by preinstalled software and hardware.

How big can the discrepancy between advertised and available storage be? In the past, Apple iPhones and iPads had 20 percent less storage space…

Harvest Moon farm-life sim celebrates 20th anniversary with its first-ever PC game

It’s the 20th anniversary of Natsume, Inc.’s Harvest Moon, and for the first time, the iconic farming simulator will be coming to PC with Harvest Moon: Light of Hope.

In its long history, Harvest Moon has been available on a variety of platforms, starting with Super Nintendo and releasing on all Nintendo and Sony consoles thereafter. Though Light of Hope is the first time Harvest Moon is for the PC, developer and publisher Natsume’s first PC launch will be Wild Guns Reloaded later this year.

Much like Sega’s strategy to bring its IPs to PC, Natsume is increasing the number of platforms its games are on in order to reach a bigger market, though it’s still absent from Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. This could be because the PC market is comparable to the console games market; in 2016, console games generated $35 billion in revenue counting games, services, and hardware, while PC games generated $34 billion without being bolstered by hardware sales. The mobile games market is the largest, generating $41 billion in sales in 2016, up from previous years.

“We’re focusing on expanding our frontiers: Harvest Moon for Switch, Harvest Moon for Steam, Harvest Moon for PS4, Harvest Moon for Mac, and Harvest Moon for mobile, and any platforms yet to come,” said CEO Hiro Maekawa in an interview with GamesBeat at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last week. “That’s what we’re heading for. Reel Fishing is the project we’re…

Harvest Moon farm-life sim celebrates 20th anniversary with its first-ever PC game

It’s the 20th anniversary of Natsume, Inc.’s Harvest Moon, and for the first time, the iconic farming simulator will be coming to PC with Harvest Moon: Light of Hope.

In its long history, Harvest Moon has been available on a variety of platforms, starting with Super Nintendo and releasing on all Nintendo and Sony consoles thereafter. Though Light of Hope is the first time Harvest Moon is for the PC, developer and publisher Natsume’s first PC launch will be Wild Guns Reloaded later this year.

Much like Sega’s strategy to bring its IPs to PC, Natsume is increasing the number of platforms its games are on in order to reach a bigger market, though it’s still absent from Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. This could be because the PC market is comparable to the console games market; in 2016, console games generated $35 billion in revenue counting games, services, and hardware, while PC games generated $34 billion without being bolstered by hardware sales. The mobile games market is the largest, generating $41 billion in sales in 2016, up from previous years.

“We’re focusing on expanding our frontiers: Harvest Moon for Switch, Harvest Moon for Steam, Harvest Moon for PS4, Harvest Moon for Mac, and Harvest Moon for mobile, and any platforms yet to come,” said CEO Hiro Maekawa in an interview with GamesBeat at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last week. “That’s what we’re heading for. Reel Fishing is the project we’re…

Atari CEO confirms the company is working on a new game console

Atari CEO Fred Chesnais told GamesBeat in an exclusive interview that his fabled video game company is working on a new game console.

In doing so, the New York company might be cashing in on the popularity of retro games and Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, which turned out to be surprisingly popular for providing a method to easily play old games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda in HD on a TV.

Last week, Atari began teasing a new product called the Ataribox.The video released on a non-Atari web site showed a picture of some kind of hardware product,…

Inside Microsoft’s strategy for the Xbox One X reveal

Microsoft unveiled its Xbox One X video game console on Sunday ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The console debuts worldwide on November 7 for $499.

You can use the same peripherals for the game console as those for the Xbox One and Xbox One S. And it will be able to play original Xbox console games. Microsoft showed off games such as Electronic Arts’ Anthem, 4A’s Metro Exodus, and State of Decay 2. But it didn’t show any Gears of War or Halo titles.

Microsoft’s team went over every detail of the press event for months. And we got a chance to ask one of the company’s leaders why it made certain choices as it prepares for yet another round of the console wars.

I caught up on Monday with Mike Nichols, chief marketing officer at Microsoft’s Xbox, in an interview at the company’s showcase at Galen Center in Los Angeles.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Above: Xbox One X debuts November 7.

Image Credit: Microsoft

GamesBeat: I was curious what your thoughts are on the marketing side, how this compared to your strategy for the Xbox One introduction. You have a certain amount of time. What do you say about this new console?

Mike Nichols: How many of these have you seen from us? All of them? 16 or so? [laughs] We decided this time to focus on two things this year. One was the introduction of the console. The second was—we didn’t want to show a lot of games everybody knows. We decided to show a more eclectic collection of different types of games. We wanted to show a lot of them.

When we were in all the rehearsals, we were thinking, “Well, we’re always around 90 minutes. Do we want to do that again?” But there weren’t any games we wanted to pull.

They’re very valuable. They have a role. I’m personally a fan of a lot of those big popular game franchises. But we ended up focusing elsewhere.

Above: Kareem Choudary unveils the Xbox One X at E3 2017 .

Image Credit: Microsoft

GamesBeat: What’s enough to get people to buy the box? There weren’t as many existing franchises that you could have talked about. You could have shown Halo for 30 seconds, something like that, or Gears of War.

Nichols: We focused mostly on things shipping in the next 12 months, so everyone had a sense of those. We’re definitely working on stuff for Halo, as you might imagine. We’re working on stuff for Gears of War. We have a whole bunch of things up our sleeves, but they’re a bit further out. It was a matter of timing. We think it’s okay to give some of the franchises time to breathe.

Giving people something a bit unexpected—everybody expected we would talk about Project Scorpio, and we did. Every time we come into the briefing, it’s expected that we’ll tell you about Halo, Gears, this, that. It becomes a little rote.

GamesBeat: You would have lost the time for all these smaller games, too.

Nichols: Again, even then, everybody knows Halo 5 is on Xbox One. Everybody knows Gears of War 4 is on Xbox One. It was more like, let’s show some other stuff we think is interesting.

GamesBeat: I remember some more technical things you guys got into. Did you want to get all of that out of the way before you talked about games the machine can play?

Nichols: I felt like it was important to frame things up for everyone, so the show is easy to follow. There was so much anticipation about the hardware announcement in particular. We wanted to come out and say, “Here’s the hardware announcement. The rest of this is about games that are playable across all the different members of the Xbox One family.” The original, the S, and the X.

Frankly, there’s so much engineering that’s gone into the thing. We’re proud of that. That engineering will result in far better experiences. The visual ID itself—I’m biased, but I think it’s beautiful. But the real magic of it is on the inside, and the experience that enables. That’s where we ended up focusing. Let’s talk a bit about the innards and the design decisions we made, and then let’s show what this thing can do up on the big 4K LED screen. It seems like people liked both elements of the presentation, at least based on the early read. Hearing a bit about the hardware decisions and then spending the next 90-plus minutes on games.

GamesBeat: What about VR? Was that decided in some way, whether you wanted to talk about VR or not?

Nichols: Our focus as a company on VR is far more on Windows than it is on Xbox One. We have some headsets launching that we’re very proud of, coming later this year for Windows. It’s called Windows Mixed Reality. We have all the Studios teams working on several titles for those headsets. We’re working with third parties on content for those headsets. But our primary focus is on Windows and PC for mixed reality, for lots of reasons. We decided to focus this show far more on Xbox One and the introduction of this particular console.

Above: Xbox One X has all the same ports as the original or…

What’s the Difference Between the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X?

There’s more than one Xbox One. You can already buy the Xbox One S, a redesigned Xbox One with a few upgrades. Microsoft is also working on a major upgrade named the Xbox One X, which will arrive on November 7 and was codenamed “Project Scorpio”.

All Xbox One models will play the same Xbox One games. However, newer models may play those same games with more detailed graphics and smoother framerates. Here are the main differences.

Xbox One (Released November, 2013)

You’re probably already familiar with the original Xbox One. The console itself is a a large, black, VCR-style box. All Xbox One packages originally included the Kinect, Microsoft’s solution for voice recognition, motion tracking, and controlling your cable box or other TV service with its integrated IR blaster.

The Xbox One was released a week after the PlayStation 4, and the two consoles directly competed with each other. The Xbox One was a bit slower and $100 more expensive than the PS4 (no thanks to those TV and Kinect features). As a result, Sony pulled ahead in sales.

Microsoft has shifted gears since then. Microsoft dumped the Kinect from most Xbox One bundles and matched the PlayStation 4’s price. In fact, Microsoft has all but abandoned the Kinect. You can still buy a Kinect for about $100 and connect it to your Xbox One afterwards, if you like, but don’t expect to see any new Kinect-enabled games any time soon.

Xbox One S (Released August, 2016)

The Xbox One S is a streamlined, slightly faster Xbox One with some other improvements. It costs around $299, about the same price as the original Xbox One now costs, although Microsoft sometimes cuts the price. For example, Microsoft cut the price by $50 when the Xbox One X was announced.

Where the original Xbox One was black, the Xbox One S is white. The console itself is about 40% smaller than the Xbox One, and it doesn’t have the Xbox One’s massive power brick. The console has been redesigned in small, smart ways. There’s now a USB port on the front of the console instead of on the side, for example, making it easier to plug in USB sticks. You can also stand the Xbox One S up vertically, if you like.

The Kinect is missing in action here. No models of the Xbox One S ship with a Kinect. The Xbox One S does not have a dedicated Kinect port on the back of the console, as the original Xbox One does. If you buy a Kinect and want to use it with your Xbox One S, you’ll need to get a Kinect-to-USB adapter from Microsoft.

The new controller bundled with the Xbox One S is white, too. It includes a few minor improvements, such as a textured back for easier grip. It now supports Bluetooth, which means you can connect it directly to a Windows PC without buying the Xbox Wireless USB adapter. However, you can use any model of Xbox One controller with any Xbox One console.

Under the hood, the big new improvements are support for 4K resolution and HDR color. You’ll only be able to see that 4K improvement if you have a 4K TV, and you’ll only get HDR content if you have a 4K TV that supports HDR-10. You won’t notice any difference otherwise. If you have a TV that supports only Dolby Vision HDR instead of HDR-10 HDR, you won’t be able to view HDR content. Blame your TV’s manufacturer for not supporting both.

The Xbox One S isn’t actually powerful enough for 4K gaming, unfortunately, so games will still play…

Sony’s sold 60.4 million PlayStation 4s

The PlayStation 4 has hit another major milestone. Sony Interactive Entertainment has sold 60.4 million PS4s. The publisher finished its media presentation leading into the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in Los Angeles earlier tonight where it showed off upcoming games like Spider-Man, Uncharted 4 downloadable content, and more. But while the company has plenty of big names lined up for the future, its current library has helped the PS4 dominate the console space.

The PS4 has not only surpassed the 60-million mark, but Sony also revealed that its console owners have also purchased 487.8 million retail and digital copies. That’s an attach rate of more than 8 games per PS4.

Xbox Scorpio is probably the name for Microsoft’s new console

Project Scorpio E3 2016 02

We’re just hours away from Microsoft dropping all the new details on its upgraded Xbox system at the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in Los Angeles, and the leaks have started during into a steady stream of information.

Xbox Scorpio is the name of the new Xbox, according to an advertisement on Best Buy’s website. Previously, Microsoft referred to the system, which is significantly more powerful than the Xbox One, as simply “Project Scorpio.” This new…