By LOU KESTEN
Associated Press Writer
Real news from the virtual world:
—COMMUNITY CHEST: Video games are like what screenplays were in the last century: Everyone has an idea for one. (Mine combines monkeys, antigravity weapons and the puzzle game Sudoku.) But some amateurs are turning their ideas into virtual reality, thanks to Microsoft's XNA (which doesn't stand for anything) program. And now you can check out the results on Xbox Live's Community Games portal.
There are more than 60 home-brewed games now available. They cost about $2.50 a pop, although you can download a free demo of any game that piques your interest.
Marc Whitten, general manager for Xbox Live, says XNA offers young developers "a much lower barrier to entry" to the industry. He points to games like "Portal" and "Braid," two indie projects that became big hits.
The best of the Community Games so far is "Blow," a mellow puzzler that requires you to fan bubbles across the screen. I also liked the frenetic shooter "Weapon of Choice," the old-school platformer "Being" and the simple yet clever "Lines."
The weirdest offering has to be "In the Pit," an audio-only experiment in which you are a monster who has to find its next victim by following the sound of the victim's breathing. Not the kind of thing you'd build a whole game around, but an intriguing demonstration of the creativity at work among XNA developers.
—BAD DAY AT MIDWAY: You'd think a company associated with landmarks such as "Ms. Pac-Man," ''Space Invaders" and "Mortal Kombat" would be very much in demand, but Chicago-based Midway Games has fallen on hard times lately. Media mogul Sumner Redstone thought he could turn it around, but after investing hundreds of millions of dollars, he finally sold his majority share for $100,000. The buyer, a company led by private investor Mark Thomas, will also assume $70 million in debt in the deal.
By LOU KESTEN
- SLIDESHOW: 2008 Holiday Decorating Contest Lane has two words for them and any others who might like to try their hand at winning the contest: Movement and music. “The two things people usually forget are animation ... and music. You always get a few extra points if you have some Christmas carols playing,” he said.
- GAME NEWS: Microsoft's Community Games project COMMUNITY CHEST: Video games are like what screenplays were in the last century: Everyone has an idea for one.
TECHNOLOGY: Adria seeks scientists' help to push food further
When Ferran Adria asks for help in the kitchen, he doesn't mean busboys.
The father of so-called molecular gastronomy — the science (or art?) of manipulating food via gelatins, liquid capsules and his now-ubiquitous foams — recently asked Harvard scientists to help him push the boundaries of food even further.
- TECHNOLOGY: TechBits package 12/10/2008
- TECHNOLOGY: TechBits package 12/3/2008
- GAMING: Downloadable content revives old games
- EXTRA: Christmas tree trains keep on chugging NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Forsyth's best Christmas was when he woke up to a train chugging around the tree, a conductor's hat and a little pair of overalls.
- EXTRA: Some tips on Christmas tree trains
- EXTRA: Hanukkah theme nights make small gifts special
- EXTRA: Ideas for Hanukkah theme nights
- More Extra Headlines