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Chromecast is now available in Australia, Belgium, Japan, Korea, Portugal and Switzerland

Chromecast

Chromecast

It’s time to celebrate, Chromecast fans, as the connected HDMI dongle is now available in more countries internationally. Google has announced Chromecast availability for Australia, Belgium, Japan, Korea, Portugal and Switzerland.

Google’s Chromecast dongle is an easy way to liberate the content on your phone and play it back on your HDMI-equipped TV. It’s been available in the US since mid-2013, more recently making its way to the UK.

Now that easy-sharing love is going international. Google tells us that 60 per cent of YouTube video views in Korea is via a mobile device and you could easily send that to your TV.

Google opened up the SDK for Chromecast in February 2014, meaning that third-party developers can easily integrate support on their apps. In the UK, that means that BBC iPlayer is supported, alongside the likes of YouTube and Google Play Movies.

Best of all, Chromecast doesn’t care if you’re using an Android handset, or iPad or iPhone. You can even use it to send mirror Chrome browser tabs from your Mac or PC.

Of course, it’s a popular way to watch Netflix on the big screen too, but sadly some of you might be waiting for local support for that service for some time.

Chromecast

What is Chromecast?

Chromecast is a thumb-sized media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV. Set it up with a simple mobile app, then send your favorite online shows, movies, music and more to your TV using your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

 

Sit back, watch together

With Chromecast, you can easily enjoy your favorite online entertainment on your HDTV—movies, TV shows, music, and more from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Google Play Movies and Music, and Chrome. No more huddling around small screens and tiny speakers. Chromecast automatically updates to work with a growing number of apps.

Remote free

Chromecast works with devices you already own, including Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones®, iPads®, Chrome for Mac® and Chrome for Windows®. Browse for what to watch, control playback, and adjust volume using your device. You won’t have to learn anything new.

Plug in and play

Get started in 3 easy steps: plug Chromecast into any HDTV, connect it to WiFi, then send videos and more from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV with the press of a button

More info: http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/chromecast/

Chromecast

Amazon Lumberyard Is a Free Triple-A Game Engine for Everyone

Amazon Lumberyard Is a Free Triple-A Game Engine for Everyone

American e-commerce titan Amazon has released a free cross-platform game engine for aspiring and existing developers which will easily link with existing Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure and its own live streaming video platform, Twitch.

Called Amazon Lumberyard, the new game engine is capable of producing AAA games, and is being offered free of cost: no upfront payment, no hidden subscription fee. Currently in beta, Lumberyard is available for developers using Windows PCs (from Windows Vista through to Windows 10) and will support development for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Amazon said it will add development support for Oculus VR, iOS and Android devices in the near future, and OS X and Linux support following soon after. To run Lumberyard, you will need at least a quad-core processor, 8GB RAM, 200GB free space on your hard drive, and a high-end video card with 2GB VRAM.

Aside from streamlined AWS and Twitch integration, it includes a visual scripting tool to aid even “non-technical game developers” who can work without hassle, and upgrade their game’s cloud-based features – such as a community news feed or daily gifts à la FIFA Ultimate Team – via a drag-and-drop interface.

“Building technology capable of making the highest-quality games is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. Game developers either have to spend several years creating the more than 20 significant technology components that are needed to build the highest-quality games … or they have to invest in commercial game engines that are expensive and do not include native integrations with Twitch or cloud back-end technologies (like AWS),” the company said in a statement.

See: global7 terms

Amazon boasts considerable history and clientele with its extensive Amazon Web Services product portfolio, which has been used by the likes of Ubisoft and Sega. “Many of the world’s most popular games are powered by AWS’s technology infrastructure platform,” vice president of Amazon Games Mike Frazzini said. He revealed that game developers had expressed their wish for a less expensive game engine that wasn’t lacking in power. That was their motivation in delivering Lumberyard, and pairing it with AWS for its extensive back-end capabilities and Twitch for the gaming community was both integral for Amazon’s revenue and bonus for the developers.

While Lumberyard remains free, Amazon will hope to recover the money put in its development when developers opt to use its related AWS services. Also part of the new game engine is the C++ software development kit built into AWS to facilitate access to the company’s other services. C++ remains the most widespread language used to make games around the globe.

“Amazon has been a great partner and we are deeply excited about both Amazon Lumberyard and Amazon GameLift. The integration of a fantastic game engine with amazing cloud services presents a wonderful opportunity for both independent developers and established publishers,” said vice president of creative development at 2K Games, Josh Atkins. Amazon GameLift was announced alongside Lumberyard as a service to help developers scale their multiplayer systems and meet user demand, and prevent online frustration that is rampant in today’s world. But the service is only available for developers in the US for now, and will cost a small per-player fee.

 

Amazon Lumberyard is available for download now, as a beta version and is completely free to use, including the source.

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Original Article

Counting Sheep That Won’t Put You To Sleep

Counting Sheep That Won't Put You To Sleep

Divide by Sheep is a puzzle game that requires math, advanced planning, and sometimes just a little bit of luck. That description might sound less than exciting, but the game makes up for this by making you drown the sheep, feed them to wolves, slice them to pieces, and generally have some fun with the cuddly critters. Developer Bread Team has created some of the fluffiest looking cartoon sheep in the world, and then gone out of the way to let you torture them with impunity as you ostensibly try and save a few of them from inevitable death. The game has been released now for iOS and Steam, with an Android version in the works.

There’s a bit of a story at the beginning of the game, setting things up, but much like Cut the Rope, the exposition is minimal, and safe to skip. The comparison makes sense – while Cut the Rope was a physics puzzler and Divide by Sheep is a series of math puzzles, the two games have a lot in common, such as fiendishly clever gameplay hidden under a very cute exterior, coupled with excellent audio and art design.

The story – if you must know – is that the Grim Reaper is lonely, and decides to cause a flood so there will be lots of dead sheep for him to spend time with. Your job is to help the sheep jump past a series of obstacles and make their way to waiting rafts, to escape this grim fate.

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The basic gameplay is simple – you have blocks of land scattered around each level, and there will be a number of sheep on these blocks. Each sheep requires a full block of land, and you have to guide the sheep across the map to reach three waiting rafts – each has a capacity and you need to get that number of sheep onto the raft to get a star.

To do this, you need to swipe from one block of land to the next – all the sheep on your starting block of land will jump, so if you’ve got six sheep on a large block of land, and you make them jump towards a smaller piece of land that only has three cells, then you’ve consigned three sheep to a watery grave. On the other hand, if you jumped three sheep onto a bigger block that already had two sheep and four empty slots, you’ll have five sheep that will now move together.

As long as you get the right number of sheep onto even one raft, you can progress to the next level, and try out new puzzles, but completionists will no doubt want to keep retrying a level until they get all three stars.

Early on, the game offers very little challenge as it is just introducing the mechanics to you. In the first 30 levels, we got a 3-star rating on almost every puzzle in the first try itself. As you progress though, the game gets trickier, and starts to introduce a lot of new mechanics that make things a lot harder.

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It starts off with some fences that your sheep can’t jump over, and then introduces wolves who will eat your sheep. You can move the wolves around too, and need to rescue them at times. They can be essential when you want to thin down your flock, and at other times, you’re going to want to push them off into the water to meet the numbers required by a level.

Further complications quickly come in the form of laser fences, which slice your sheep into two. These now take up double the space on land, but two halves still count as just one sheep -which can lead to some tricky juggling to make sure everyone arrives as planned.

Trampolines that bounce you back, and splitters that divide your flock are just some of the obstacles that the game comes up with to keep you on your toes. With 120 levels across four worlds to explore, and more apparently coming, there’s a lot of puzzles to solve, and as you explore the game, it really gets challenging. Despite the difficulty of some levels, the game doesn’t ever leave you feeling stranded either; while you might not get a three-star rating on every level, you probably won’t get stuck either.

The charm of this game lies in its silly, cute visuals and cheerful audio, mixed together with a very dark sense of humour. The sense of humour reminds us of Unpleasant Horse, an endless runner which was all about crushing pretty ponies to death. But, under the fluffy wrapper, Divide by Sheep is a sharp game you really should play – just like Cut the Rope.

We played the game using a review code provided by the developers. The game is now available on iTunes for $2.99 or Rs. 190. The Steam version of the game is available now for $4.49 or Rs. 285.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect for Windows Sensor

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect

After discontinuing the original Kinect for Windows sensor in December last year, Microsoft is now discontinuing production of the new Kinect for Windows v2 sensorlaunched in July last year. The firm says the move is to “consolidate the Kinect for Windows experience around a single sensor.”

The Redmond giant is now pointing interested users, mostly developers, to the Kinect Adapter for Windows cable, to be used in conjunction with the Kinect for Xbox One sensor.

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect

The Kinect for Xbox One sensor, which began to be sold separately in October last year, costs $149.99 (Rs. 11,490 in India). The Kinect Adapter for Windows cable on the other hand costs $49.99 (roughly Rs. 3,100). The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor used to cost $199.99 when available, so it all works out.

The Kinect Adapter cable lets users connect the Kinect for Xbox One sensor to a Windows 8.0 and 8.1 PC or tablets just like the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor, and both the sensors are functionally identical – the company says its Kinect for Windows SDK 2.0 works the same way for both sensors as well. Microsoft is also assuring current owners of the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor that support will remain unaffected.

Microsoft says the move is a part of an effort to “simplify and create consistency for developers”. The firm’s Kinect for Windows Team in its blog post announcement said it had seen great demand from the developer community over the “past several months”, and had “difficulty keeping up with requests in some markets.”

The Kinect for Windows Team added it saw the “developer community respond positively to being able to use the Kinect for Xbox One sensor for Kinect for Windows app development,” and ensured the Kinect for Xbox One sensors and Kinect Adapter for Windows units are readily available in most markets. While this is true for the sensor in India, the adapter is not readily purchasable.

Undertale Review

For a game developed by a single person, Undertale is as contradictory as they come. It uses rudimentary graphics that wouldn’t be out of place in the 8-bit era of consoles yet it manages to display emotion far better than most photorealistic AAA titles. There’s an emphasis on non-violence but you’ll frequently find yourself in combat. And with all the critical acclaim it has garnered, you’d assume it’s a game anyone would enjoy, but it’s not really for everyone.

The consistency, or lack thereof, is in part due to its overarching narrative. The game is set amidst a backdrop that has monsters living beneath the earth after losing a war to mankind, and you play as a human child who falls into the ruins and ventures deeper underground with the purpose of getting home.

Along the way you’ll pet dogs, hear bad puns from skeletons, and play matchmaker to lovestruck guards. You can, of course, resort to the usual slaughter of everyone and everything in your path thanks to the game’s easy combat system, but that would miss the point of Undertale. You see, the main feature of the game is that it lets you converse with almost every monster and use your mediation skills to prevent a clobbering.

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(Also see: Top 5 Games That Will Run on Any PC)

From flirting with your foes to heckling them, the options are aplenty and varied. All of these choices are available in the game’s battle screen that lets you – aside from doing the aforementioned activities – attack and defeat your enemies. Physical attacks involve tapping the button at the right time for maximum damage, while staying damage-free is a function of your ability to avoid obstacles that pop up when you’re duking it out. It’s an elegant system reminiscent of classic Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) such as Super Mario RPG, coupled with the conversational nuance of titles like Dragon Age.

While Undertale does its best to urge the pacifist route on you at every juncture, it doesn’t always give you the means to do so. From an odd opening encounter – that we later found out could have had a different outcome – to evading bosses, you’ll find yourself at times at a loss on how to approach it in a non-violent fashion. Some might find the clues it drops to be more vague than they should be, and thus, while the game might keep telling you to play in a particular way, it will make it hard to do so at times. This wouldn’t be that big a deal if Undertale didn’t take every moment to make you feel horrible about your choices either, through simple animations and smart use of text.

Nonetheless, the game’s pacing more than makes up for it. From partaking in quiz TV shows to betting on snail races, there’s a whimsical, enjoyable quality to it all thanks to the variety at hand. You won’t find yourself squaring off against the same enemies again and again in the hope of levelling up your character, and you won’t be hunting for epic loot or weapons either. Undertale manages to eliminate our pet RPG peeves like backtracking, fetch quests, and grinding for new weapons and armour. Rather, you’ll be exploring a world steeped with detail, solve puzzles (most of which are simple to complete) and some combat (or you could talk your way out of fights).

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(Also see: Top 5 Indie Games You Should Play Right Now)

This subversive tone extends to simpler elements such as the game’s economy. Merchants will be more than happy to sell you their wares but some won’t buy your items. All of these are welcome moves but only if you’ve played your fair share of RPGs in the past. Random battles, a classic JRPG annoyance, are still present though.

If you’ve played RPGs before, you’ll appreciate Undertale immensely more than someone who hasn’t due to its remixing of genre tropes in an almost satirical fashion that would be lost if you haven’t. Something to keep in mind before giving it a go. You can finish it in around six hours and give it another shot for different outcomes depending on your play style.

Despite its inconsistencies, Undertale is a memorable romp that sticks with you long after it’s over. It’s not perfect and it’s definitely not for everyone and that’s just fine.

Pros

  • Great combat system
  • Emphasis on mediation
  • Memorable plot

Cons

  • Not particularly inclusive
  • Could communicate options better

Rating (out of 10): 8

We played a retail copy of Undertale on PC. The game is available for OS X and Windows on Steam at Rs. 369.

 

Original Article