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Microsoft Gets Language Censor Patent

Microsoft Gets Language Censor Patent

#$%+&~From the f***ing awesome department comes word of a new patent by Microsoft that could have a profoundly positive impact on its Xbox Live service.

The eagle-eyes at Ars Technica report that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has approved Microsoft’s application for a way to censor profane or inappropriate language.

This is great news for anyone who has put up with one too many f-bombs, or any racial/ethnic/sexual slurs at all for that matter, while trying to enjoy a game of Halo or Gears of War.

According to the patent, the invention would process incoming audio, compare the words in the audio to an index of “undesired speech” and, based on the probability of a match, censor the audio to a point where it’s “substantially no longer perceivable by a listening audience.” Better still, the probability threshold improves dynamically to improve performance down the line.

Ars Technica also points out that this technology could be used for live television applications, possibly eliminating the need for a tape delay, or at least saving producers the stress of hovering over a “bleep” button.

Let’s hope something gets developed for the Xbox 360 soon, and for the sake of our Playstation 3 owners, gets offered or developed for Sony’s console as well. Better yet would be a technology to record incidents of foul language so that bigots could be wiped from online gaming outright.

[Via Joystiq]

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New Xbox Live to Include Community Games

New Xbox Live to Include Community Games

XNA Creators ClubCome November 19th, Xbox Live is going to get a major facelift. While the changes deal with mostly cosmetic and organizational issues, one feature of “The New Xbox Live Experience” will allow anyone to download user-created games.

Previously, this option was only available in beta to premium members of the XNA Creators Club, an exclusive group for the homebrew developers. Microsoft plans to bring the service out of beta along with the new Xbox Live.

This is no free ride for consumers, though. XBL Director of Programming Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb inteviewed XNA Community Manager Kathleen Sanders on the topic, and they were sort of quiet on the factoid that you’ll have to pay for these games, so we’ll post Sanders’ quote right here:

“They have an idea, they have the energy and the willpower to do it, they can go and create it, put it through peer review, and then it’s up on Community Games for you to buy,” Sanders said.

To be fair, developers are going to make some money off of this, or at least recoup some of the $99 they spent on the development software. More specifically, they get 70 percent of the revenues, or 40 percent to 60 percent while the game is being promoted as a feature title. Games will cost between 200 and 800 Microsoft Points to download, according to Joystiq.

Hyrb has previously detailed some of the new organizational features of “The New Xbox Live Experience,” so hopefully we’ll also get some robust measures to sift through the inevitable amount of crap that will be available.

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Could Syndicate Rise from the Rubble?

Could Syndicate Rise from the Rubble?

SyndicateCiting anonymous sources, Computer and Video Games reports that a remake of the cult computer game Syndicate is in the works from publisher Electronic Arts.

The early 90’s PC realtime strategy game cast players as the executive of a major corporation in a cyberpunk-style world, forcing them down a road of questionable moral decisions. Using a team of four cyborg agents, players assassinated rival execs, rescued allies, killed enemy agents and pushed the company’s brand on civilians and scientists. All the while, the corporation researched new weapons and technology with the tax dollars of conquered territories. The action unfolded through a cold, isometric viewpoint.

An expansion pack, called Syndicate Wars, was released in 1996 for PC and Playstation.

Whoever was talking to CVG didn’t reveal much else. The news site is thinking that developer Starbreeze (The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, The Darkness) might be tapped for the title, as they’ve signed with EA to reinvent an unnamed classic game. But earlier this year, legendary game designer Peter Molyneux, who produced the original game, told Shacknews that he “would love to redo a version of Syndicate.”

Given solid track record of Molyneux and Starbreeze, we’d love to have either of them on board.

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Ghostbusters Game in ’09, According to Aykroyd

Ghostbusters Game in ’09, According to Aykroyd

The Video GameGhostbusters star Dan Aykroyd still has high hopes for the stalled video game based on the movie, telling a Dallas radio station that the game is “a year away” from release.

Kotaku, which reported Aykroyd’s comment, ran with a rumor last week that Atari would publish the game, so they’re hoping this is a confirmation of sorts, not just an idea Aykroyd got from … Kotaku.

If you haven’t been following the saga, big-time publisher Activision dropped the project in July, along with eight other games, as a way of streamlining operations. Given the sloppy track-record of movie-to-game adaptations, this wouldn’t normally be a big deal, but gamers were optimistic because Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were writing the story, and the entire Ghostbusters team except Rick Moranis were going to provide voice talent.

The game was in development for most gaming platforms. Players would control a rookie member of the squad, accompanying the veterans through events that occur after Ghostbusters II. Action was standard proton pack blasting. The game had already been well-hyped and previewed — with hands-on time against Stay Puft Marshmallow Man — when Activision pulled the plug.

We find it hard to believe that a game with such huge selling potential won’t get made, but of course, it’s a question of when.

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New Yorkers: Bring the Street Fighter Pain

New Yorkers: Bring the Street Fighter Pain

Street Fighter ClubFollowing the success of a similar beat-down held in LA three months ago, a massive Street Fighter tournament is coming to Brooklyn, N.Y. on October 24.

Street Fighter Club will feature console versions of Street Fighter IV (out now in arcades, if you can find one) and the upcoming Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. Both games will be played on high definition screens, providing breathtaking visuals as your ass gets handed to you.

To make things nerdier (and somehow cooler), commemorative shirts designed by geek-chic artist Meat Bun will be available at the event. I Am 8 Bit creator Jon Gibson will set the mood with decorations, and word is they’ll have soap, a la Fight Club, as well.

SIgn up at the official site. Since there’s no time or location announced yet, presumably you’ll get an e-mail or phone call telling you where to be and when as the date approaches.

Of course, some of us in the know can tell you there’s already a place in NYC where you can get your SFIV on. Just head to Chinatown Fair, 8 Mott St., and get a thorough beating in the fighting game of your choice.

If you prefer to play the game comfortably at home, you’re out of luck. SFIV won’t be out until next year, and no date has been announced for SFII Turbo HD Remix.

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“No More Heroes” Creator Eyes Wii MotionPlus

“No More Heroes” Creator Eyes Wii MotionPlus

Wii MotionPlusWhen we first heard about No More Heroes, we had the same fantasies — of waving the Wii remote with sword-like precision — that we might have reserved for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Of course, by the time the latter game hit shelves, we realized such accuracy wasn’t possible with the Wii’s current technology.

That’s why No More Heroes creator Suda 51’s interest in the Wii MotionPlus is so scintillating. In a video interview with IGN, Suda says, “I would like to use Wii MotionPlus for No More Heroes 2 if I could,” though he later adds, “I haven’t even touched Wii MotionPlus yet so I am not aware with how it works so that’s why I am not sure yet.”

Details about the sequel, called No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, are practically non-existent. Obviously it isn’t too far along if the developers haven’t fleshed out the control scheme yet. We at least know that the original game was a beautiful and somewhat underrated hack-and-slash, driven by bizarre characters and Tarantino-esque gore.

We also know a decent amount about the MotionPlus. The remote attachment will make controller response faster and more accurate, Even allowing “1:1” controls, where your physical movement is matched exactly on the screen. When it’s released next spring, the MotionPlus will come with packaged with Wii Sports Resort, a set of minigames that includes sword fighting.

This can only bode well for games with beam katanas won through online auctions.

[Via Go Nintendo]

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Quantum of Solace (not) Like GoldenEye

Quantum of Solace (not) Like GoldenEye

Quantum of SolaceThere’s something amusing about today’s interview with Adam Gascoine, co-design director for the game James Bond: Quantum of Solace.

The interviewer at semi-official Playstation blog Three Speech is intent on framing this conversation around “the spectre of GoldenEye still looming large in the background.” It’s not long before Gascoine mentions that his team played a hefty amount of the classic Nintendo 64 game, and our interviewer pounces:

I’m glad you mentioned it before I did! I suppose there were two options with that game – not to go anywhere near it, or to immerse yourselves in it. It seems like you chose the latter?

Gascoine is reluctant to budge. It becomes clear that this isn’t a GoldenEye clone. “Yes, we immersed ourselves in it! We’re a very different game though, because obviously GoldenEye is eight or nine years old,” he says, adding that while the team learned from the game, there are just a lot of elements that don’t fit anymore.

Good for him. We all have fond memories of GoldenEye, but you have to admit the console first-person shooter was ahead of its time back then. Games like Halo represent the genre growing into its clothes. Exhibit A: GoldenEye had a controller layout that would make a modern FPS player tear his hands off. “GoldenEye was the first game to use a controller in that way – we can’t recreate that,” Gascoine says. “So we said, let’s get a great engine, let’s get great controls, and let’s do what the equivalent is right now, and that’s Call of Duty 4.”

Still, our interviewer presses, “What else have you been able to draw from GoldenEye?”

Gascoine’s best answer is that the game has “this extraordinary intensity. You felt so powerful playing it, we wanted to capture that.” In other words, they drew on nothing. Exhibit B: All shooter games (or at least the better ones) are intense, and make you feel powerful.

Gascoine shifts the conversation topic to actor Daniel Craig’s physicality and how great it was working with him (and, presumably, not Pierce Brosnan?). Unfazed, our interviewer sneaks in one more question at the end of the interview: Will the new game also have lots of characters and weapons from the whole series? The Answer:

No, we didn’t touch that.

In conclusion, this game is not like GoldenEye, aside from the IP. And there’s nothing wrong with that. How about we let Gascoine make his own game, and we’ll see how it fairs on November 4.

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