Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Palo Alto-based startup Arraiy is developing methods for automating part of the often-tedious process of producing visual effects for movies, TV shows and video games. “Filmmakers can do this stuff, but they have to do it by hand,” said CTO Gary Bradski, who has worked with tech companies such as Intel and Magic Leap. The Arraiy team, led by Bradski and CEO Ethan Rublee, “are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects houses,” reports The New York Times. “That includes systems that learn to ‘rotoscope’ raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from their backgrounds so that they can be dropped onto new backgrounds.” Continue reading Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

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Access Android Games Immediately With Google Play Instant

The age of instant gratification just got even more addictive thanks to Google’s new Google Play Instant, which comprises Android apps and games that do not need to be installed before people can try them out. The tech giant announced the upgrade at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Available games include Supercell’s “Clash Royale,” Zynga’s “Words with Friends 2,” King’s “Bubble Witch 3 Saga” and Hothead’s “Mighty Battles.” These and more are already available on over 1 billion Android devices.

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Facebook Plans to Be Next Home to Online Content Creators

Facebook wants to be the next home for online content creators, aiming to displace YouTube, Patreon and others with additions to its Creator app, which launched in November on iOS and will be available on Android soon. The social media giant is currently testing ways Creator users can make more money and connect with their fans. One such way would allow monthly subscribers to gain access to exclusive content from their favorite creators and allow them to earn fan badges similar to those used on Patreon.

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Amazon Debuts Cross-Platform Competitive Gaming Platform

Amazon has launched an AWS-powered competitive gaming platform called Amazon GameOn, which allows third-party developers to add eSports-like competitive elements such as tournaments and leaderboards to mobile, PC and console games. Gamers can also win Amazon prizes (perhaps an Echo Dot, for example) in real-time, which effectively adds another layer of competitive gaming between professional eSports players and amateur gamers. According to market research from Newzoo, eSports could grow into a $1.5 billion business by the year 2020.

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NBCUniversal, Intel, Microsoft, Unity Launch Gaming Contest

NBCUniversal is inviting developers to create games leveraging its popular television and film properties such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Back to the Future” and “Jaws.” Through the Universal GameDev Challenge — co-sponsored by Universal, Unity Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft — Unity game engine developers can submit pitches to be selected to build out their full vision in PC game form. Winner and runner-up win a consulting contract with Universal, Microsoft and Unity, along with a combined $250,000.

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Google, Ubisoft Partner on Open-Source Game Server Project

Multiplayer game servers are notoriously difficult to build and maintain, but as the popularity of multiplayer games increases, Google Cloud aims to tackle the issue with the advent of Agones (Greek for “contest” or “gathering”), its new open source project developed through a partnership with French gaming company Ubisoft. Dedicated servers are important for multiplayer games to reduce delays, stop cheating in its tracks, and provide a better overall experience for those connecting to play. Google is currently seeking more partners for Agones.

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Google Maps Helps Develop Real-World Gaming Experiences

Google is enabling game developers to create “Pokémon Go”-like experiences in which game elements are embedded into real-world maps using the new Google Maps API and the Unity game engine. Over 200 games are already in development. Next Games is developing a game based on the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” and NBCUniversal and Ludia will release a “Jurassic World Alive” location-based game for mobile. Because Google Maps updates in real time, developers can create gaming experiences with a sharp eye on reality.

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Mobile Gaming Tops PCs and Consoles to Take Market Lead

Prior to 2014, home game consoles and PCs ruled the gaming roost, but since then, mobile gaming has gained steady ground. New 2017 numbers indicate that mobile gaming’s market lead is widening, with users spending 2.3 times more on mobile than on PC and Mac games and spending 3.6 more than on home game consoles, according to an annual report released from App Annie and IDC. In total, mobile games generated $70 billion in 2017; Mac games generated $34 billion and game consoles generated $22 billion.

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Ubisoft’s New AI Assistant Helps Catch Bugs in Video Games

Another exciting AI development has arrived, and its aim is to keep pesky bugs out of video games. At the recent Ubisoft Developer Conference in Montreal, the gaming company unveiled Commit Assistant, its new AI assistant for game developers. The goal is to catch bugs before they’re coded, saving developers time, reducing in-game flaws, and cutting back on company costs. One of the most expensive and time-intensive aspects of game design is eliminating bugs, which can absorb significant manpower and as much as 70 percent of costs during development.

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Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

ETCentric subscribers and their friends are invited to participate in the Creating Reality Hackathon, being held March 12-15 on the USC campus. The organizers are seeking forward-thinking industry storytellers, game designers, coders, and other creative artists. The teams that produce the top AR and VR submissions will each be awarded $5,000. This event will also be an opportunity to get a hands-on preview of the HTC Vive Pro and Intel’s Vaunt AR glasses. If you wish to participate, please submit your request via this special link (the deadline has been extended to March 7). Visit the event website for more info. Continue reading Registration Deadline for USC Hackathon Extended to March 7

Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

Twitch will debut its reality competition show, “Stream On” on March 8, featuring 14 online video personalities vying for a $60,000 prize over an 11-week period. The competition and its prize money is intended to help finance and promote the streaming careers of new Twitch Partners who are building audiences already, but have yet to break out. Those selected to compete are gaining recognition for talent beyond gaming, such as art, comedy, cooking and music. The show will be produced by Twitch Studios and air live on Twitch.tv. Continue reading Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

FoxNext VR Selects ‘Planet of the Apes’ for its First VR Game

On April 3, 20th Century Fox’s FoxNext VR Studio will release “Crisis on the Planet of the Apes,” its first virtual reality game, for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. Priced at $14.99, the first-person game is set between the stories of the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and allows the user to experience the world from the point of view of an ape captured by humans who attempts to escape the research facility. According to Variety, “the game was produced in partnership with UK-based Imaginati Studios, and was first announced at CES 2017.”  Continue reading FoxNext VR Selects ‘Planet of the Apes’ for its First VR Game

Blade Shadow: Reviewers Point to the Potential of Virtual PC

A virtual computer, loaded with personal data and preferences, and able to be used across devices with any screen size, with super-fast Internet, is still a dream of the future. French startup Blade has created Shadow, which offers a tantalizing taste of that virtual PC future, although reviewers suggest it still needs some fine-tuning. One reviewer tried out a Shadow PC with the performance of a $2,000 gaming PC, and was able to stream games in 4K, at high frame rates, with the promise of continuous (invisible) chip upgrades — all for $50 a month (or $35/month for a year’s subscription). Continue reading Blade Shadow: Reviewers Point to the Potential of Virtual PC

Symantec Publishes Global Security Findings in Latest Report

Today’s consumers are “overconfident in their security prowess,” which has resulted in a record year for cyberattacks, according to the “2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report.” The Symantec report found that 978 million people across 20 countries were impacted last year by cybercrime, and 44 percent of consumers were affected in the last 12 months. “As a result,” notes the report, “consumers who were victims of cybercrime globally lost $172 billion — an average of $142 per victim — and nearly 24 hours globally (or almost three full work days) dealing with the aftermath.” Continue reading Symantec Publishes Global Security Findings in Latest Report

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