Posts by Associated Press

  • Xbox, can you hear me now? One requires repetition

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By Derrick J. Lang, Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Like a stubborn family member or insubordinate employee, Xbox One owners might need to tell their fancy new console what to do more than once.

    In flashy commercials that began airing last week to promote Microsoft's upcoming video game system, an array of users verbally command their Xbox Ones to do stuff like answer a Skype call, fire up a "Titanfall" match or play the latest "Star Trek" film. The ads leave out one detail: They probably had to repeat themselves a couple of times for it to work.

    At a demonstration of the Xbox One this week organized by Microsoft, the new version of the company's voice-and-motion-detecting Kinect sensor didn't work nearly as flawlessly in real life. The Xbox 360 successor, which is scheduled for release Nov. 22, required several commands to be repeated for the response to pop up on screen.

    The previous Kinect sensor was equally billed as a game changer when it debuted in 2010 but was considered by many gamers to ultimately be a gimmick.



  • In Marvel Comics, Ms Marvel returns as Muslim teen

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    In latest Marvel NOW! Push, a teenage Muslim girl from Jersey City becomes Ms. Marvel

    By Matt Moore, Associated Press

    Marvel Comics is bringing Ms. Marvel back as a 16-year-old daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in Jersey City named Kamala Khan.

    The character — among the first to be a series protagonist who is both female and Muslim — is part of Marvel Entertainment's efforts to reflect a growing diversity among its readers while keeping ahold of the contemporary relevance that have underlined its foundation since the creation of Spider-Man and the X-Men in the early 1960s.

    Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona, working with editor Sana Amanat, say the series reflects Khan's vibrant but kinetic world, learning to deal with superpowers, family expectations and adolescence.

    Amanat calls the series a "desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective" and what it means to be young and lost amid expectations by others while also telling the story of a teenager coming to grips with having amazing powers.


    Marvel is part of The Walt Disney Co.; DC Entertainment is owned by Time Warner Inc.


  • Zynga trims 3Q losses under new CEO, stock surges

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By Michael Liedtke, Associated Press

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Zynga Inc. whittled its third-quarter losses even as its revenue plunged and fewer people played its digital games.

    The improvement raised investors' hopes that the hobbled company might be able to regain its stride under a new CEO hired during the summer, and shares jumped 13 percent in after-hours trading.

    The results announced Thursday served as the first report card for Don Mattrick, a respected video-game executive who was overseeing Microsoft's Xbox division until he was hired in July to replace Zynga founder Mark Pincus as CEO of the San Francisco company.

    Mattrick is turning to an old colleague to help him in his attempt to engineer a turnaround. Zynga said Thursday that Clive Downie will become its chief operating officer beginning Nov. 4. Downie, 41, is defecting from a mobile game maker called DeNA, but he and Mattrick previously worked together at video game maker Electronic Arts Inc.

    If not counting one-time gains, Zynga said it would have lost 2 cents per share. That figure was better than the average loss of 4 cents per share projected by analysts, according to FactSet.

  • Dog of War: Meet ‘Call of Duty’s’ new barkout star

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By Derrick J. Lang, Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — His name is Riley.

    Unlike his squad mates in the next installment of the rabidly popular "Call of Duty" series, he's not adept at sniping enemy combatants or piloting drones. He can't even pick up a gun.

    Yet even though "Call of Duty: Ghosts" isn't due until November, Riley has already become the breakout star of the military shoot-'em-up. He even has a Twitter account — @CollarDuty.

    Yup, Riley is a dog — probably the first canine action hero to star in a mainstream video game.

    After footage released earlier this year revealed that "Ghosts" would feature a four-legged soldier, the Internet uniformly wagged its tail in anticipation. The mere tease of a canine character inspired fan art, doggy cosplay and the unofficial Twitter account, which has attracted over 28,000 followers.

    "We ended up using these pieces of tape that the mo-cap system could see as markers," said Adelmeyer.

    The inclusion of a dog in the violent, mature series begs the question: Will "Ghosts" have an "Old Yeller" moment?




  • Batman set to begin again in ‘Arkham Origins’ game

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By DERRIK J. LANG , Associated Press

    BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Ben Affleck is poised to portray a new incarnation of the Caped Crusader in a film that also features Superman. However, the developers of the upcoming video game "Batman: Arkham Origins" are taking the character back to basics for the third installment in Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment's popular "Arkham" series. "Origins," which is primed for release Oct. 25, is set several years before 2009's "Arkham Asylum" and its 2011 sequel "Arkham City." The game unfolds over Christmas Eve during the second year of Bruce Wayne's tenor as the Dark Knight. The crime boss Black Mask has set a $50 million bounty on Batman's cowl-covered head and enlisted several assassins to collect on it.

    During a demonstration of the action-adventure game last week, Holmes showed off a level where Batman stealthily sneaks into Gotham police headquarters. First, he shot to the roof and quietly took down a few corrupt SWAT members before maneuvering through the complex, where he eavesdropped on a young James Gordon and his teenage daughter, Barbara.

  • Largest Ferris wheel nears completion in Las Vegas

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By Hannah Dreier, Associated Press

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — The madcap carnival on the Las Vegas Strip is getting another over-the-top addition: the world's largest Ferris wheel.

    The outer wheel of the 55-story High Roller ride is scheduled to be hoisted into place Monday. The gargantuan project is now visible from all over the city, including the airport. Early next year, it will be outfitted with 1,500 LED lights, and start its slow spin.

    "It's going to be an icon," Project Director David Codiga said. "It's going to be a part of your visit to Las Vegas if you ride it or not. It's more or less impossible not to see it if you come here."

    Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns more casinos than any other U.S. gambling company, is building the ride as part of its $550 million Linq development, a new outdoor plaza across the street from Caesars Palace.

    The walking mall, sandwiched between the Flamingo and Harrah's hotel-casino, is expected to open this winter. It's designed to lure Gen Xers and millennials, demographics Caesars believes will contribute a majority of Sin City tourist dollars by 2015.


  • Microsoft works to save face after Xbox backlash

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By Derrik J. Lang, Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- When it comes to hyping next-generation hardware, the video game industry doesn't typically opt for simplicity. However, during a presentation at the GameStop Expo in Las Vegas to promote the upcoming Xbox One console last week, a no-frills, old-school approach is exactly what Microsoft employed when confronted with a convention room full of passionate gamers.

    There were no flashy videos, sensational demonstrations or celebrity appearances. Instead, Xbox Live programming director Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb candidly took questions on stage from the crowd for 30 uninterrupted minutes, a refreshing reprieve considering the backlash Microsoft has continued to endure since unveiling the Xbox One in May.

    "Look, at Xbox, we really care about the community," Hryb replied when asked point-blank how Microsoft would win back consumers. "We're very focused on what is right for gamers. Everybody at Xbox is a gamer. It's not like we just show up, do our work and go home. We want to make this the best game system that you are going to own for the next 10 years."




  • Video game boosts mental abilities in older folks

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    Preliminary study shows older players of specialized video game can boost mental powers

    By Malcom Ritter, Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) -- It probably won't become as popular as "Grand Theft Auto," but a specialized video game may help older people boost mental skills like handling multiple tasks at once.

    In a preliminary study, healthy volunteers ages 60 to 85 showed gains in their ability to multitask, to stay focused on a boring activity and to keep information in mind — the kind of memory you use to remember a phone number long enough to write it down.

    All those powers normally decline with age, Dr. Adam Gazzaley of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues noted in a study released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

    The study was small, with only 16 volunteers training on the specially designed game. Gazzaley and other brain experts said bigger studies were needed to assess whether the game could actually help people function in their everyday lives. He's co-founder of a company that aims to develop a product from the research.

    The game progresses to harder levels as a player improves, to keep it challenging.

  • NBC trying to create big event with game

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By David Bauder, Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) -- A giant hourglass structure being built on the rooftop of an abandoned Manhattan car dealership may look like Godzilla's futuristic toy but instead represents NBC's hope for the television event of the season.

    It's the set for "The Million Second Quiz," a prime-time competition with Ryan Seacrest as host that will play out over two weeks starting Sept. 9. Someone adept at trivia will win a $2 million prize on the Sept. 19 finale.

    More than a game, the event is a peek into the future of broadcast television.

    With the sources for quality content expanding along with the ability of viewers to watch when and how they want, showing big live events like football games and awards shows is becoming the most reliable way broadcast networks can draw a big crowd and distinguish themselves from rivals.

    With the play-at-home app, NBC hopes to capture the imagination of people who have grown accustomed to watching television with a second screen open.

    "I said, 'You're spending an awful lot of money. I do hope we're going to use this thing several times over,'" he recalled.


  • Complicated fun: Are theme parks going geeky?

    Associated Press at Plugged In 2 yrs ago

    By Tamara Lush, Associated Press

    WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — Boasting obscure characters and detailed story lines, several new attractions opened at theme parks this summer in Central Florida. The new rides and areas are much different from those just a generation ago, when Dumbo the Flying Elephant was considered high tech.

    These days, a ride involving a simple, blue elephant just won't cut it.

    Take World of Chima at Legoland, for instance. The attraction is based on a Lego building block play set and Cartoon Network show about eight animal tribes, a crocodile king, magical vehicles called Speedorz and a life force called Chi. There are epic battles over the Ancient Pool of Chi, set in a lushly landscaped tropical world.

    Or look at Universal's Transformers ride. It isn't just inspired by the toy and the movie — it's a detailed, 3-D, "interactive battle" between the Autobots and Decepticons that has its own website.

    When did fun become so complicated?

    Attraction designers have a difficult job: They must present a story to guests of all ages, from all walks of life.

    It all comes down to narrative, theme park experts agree.