Today's round-up includes an unexpected advance by the Swedish army, a little downloadable fun and games from PlayFirst, a now-secret Microsoft job posting, and a look at the evolution of everyone's favorite plumber.
- Swedish developer Digital Illusions, makers of the Battlefield 1942
series, has announced it has sold a development license for the Battlefield 2
technology to Swedish firm AerotechTelub, who will use the technology to power simulators used in Swedish Army defense training programs. According to Jörn von Treskow of AerotechTelub: "Developing a similar technical platform would be very costly, and by licensing a commercially developed product we hope to help the Swedish defense in training new talents quicker and thus save money." The licensing contract is worth around 4 million SEK ($543,000 USD), with a small license support clause included.
- Downloadable game publisher PlayFirst has announced its formation, alongside $5 million in first round funding from Mayfield and Trinity Ventures, revealing its intention to go "beyond the hardcore gamer" with a portfolio of Web-downloadable games. Co-founder and CEO John Welch, formerly one of the leading lights behind Shockwave.com's gaming portal, suggested: "We want to reach families, women, and new audiences with games that are easy to play and fun." The publisher's games are expected to launch on online portals later this year.
- Thanks to a job posting made, and then rescinded, on Microsoft's site earlier this week, details about planned online features for the Xbox 2 (apparently still codenamed Xenon) have been revealed. The job ad called for a software server engineer to help create "a spectator mode for many Xenon games, Xbox TV, with tickers at the bottom of the screen featuring recent high scores and game highlights, a tournament system, and tradable trophies." After a number of consumer game sites picked up on this job ad, it was swiftly removed, but the posting helps illuminate the importance of increasingly complex online gaming technology in Microsoft's future Xbox strategy.
- An informative article
at NFG Games, partly reprinted from the author's piece in a recent issue of Nintendo Official Magazine UK, illuminates the history of the 2D Mario sprite over the past 20-plus years. The author points out: "It's a well known story that when creating Mario - originally called simply 'jumpman' - Shigeru Miyamoto made him look the way he does because of hardware limitations of the time", before going on to painstakingly compare over 30 different Mario sprites drawn from 1982 to 2004.