IPad 3 Out By March, Says Report

Reports are that the iPad 3 is currently being prepped for release in March 2012. Reports are that it will have a QXGA display and longer battery life compared to the iPad 2, though other wise be very similar; still it is expected the iPad 2 will see a price reduction to $399 when its successor releases.

Furthermore, it is expected that a 9.7-inch iPad 4 will release in October 2012 with much more powerful hardware and integrated applications. All of these strategies will look to counter cheaper tablets, such as the Kindle Fire, and more top-flight tablets from Microsoft and Google.

Source: digitimes.com

Social Schooling Network Sees Funding, End-Of-Year Stats

Piazza has announced that it has secured $6 million in Series A funding, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The social learning network for students and instructors will use the money to expand its interactions and outreach efforts.

“Bessemer invested because we believe that Piazza can lead a communications revolution in higher education,” said Ethan Kurzweil, Vice President at Bessemer Venture Partners who recently joined Piazza’s board of directors. “Across every sector, the world is witnessing seismic shifts away from clunky, centrally-mandated software packages towards tools designed from the ground up to be social and collaborative. That wave is breaking in education, and Piazza is best positioned because of its ability to create positive engagement among users. I wish I’d been able to use Piazza when I was in college myself.”

“In BVP we found a partner that shares our vision for a social learning network that transforms education,” said Pooja Sankar, Founder and CEO of Piazza. “This year we will expand our platform to support more open-ended interactions among students and encourage new forms of social learning, stretching beyond the traditional classroom. As we execute on our mission, we will draw on BVP’s wealth of experience in helping companies to scale from initial customer successes into lasting businesses.”

Piazza, which emerged from private beta in January and how has over 100,000 students at hundreds of schools worldwide, including 109 of the top 250 colleges in the U.S. Designed to be an environment that students can ask questions under the guidance of their instructors, students who sign on to Piazza stay logged in for an average of four hours a day.

During the Fall 2011 term, 96 percent of the questions posted on Piazza were answered, with 45 percent receiving an answer from a student and 67 percent addressed by instructors. Most active class on Piazza was a computer science class at Berkeley, where students recorded over 19,000 contributions during the course of the semester; one student in this class answered 463 of his peers’ questions while 74 percent of the students contributed, which is 7.5 times the industry norm for online communities.

“I demand deep engagement from my students in the classroom,” said Srinivasan Keshav, Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Waterloo. “With Piazza, for the first time I can expect a level of engagement outside of class that enables me to challenge my students with harder problems. I know they will work through them and learn together using Piazza then come to class knowing what they need to learn. That’s not just a better way to get questions answered, it’s a more effective style of teaching and learning.”

“People are making a big deal out of Berkeley choosing gmail as its email solution, but nobody I know uses email unless we’re forced to,” said Tianbo Xu, a student at UC Berkeley and the president of the school’s IEEE student branch. “We’ve grown up with a more social communication style, but at the same time a lot of students are reluctant to participate in class forums because they don’t want to seem too smart or too dumb. Piazza has figured out how to create a vibrant social network centered on your class without demanding that you disclose everything. Once you’ve used it, it’s hard to imagine not using it.”

Max Payne 3 Special Edition: Get It Now

Max Payne 3 will have a special edition, but in order to get it, you have to pre-order before January 15. The game is currently set to launch in March 2012.

Max Payne 3 special edition will come with a 10 inch tall Max Payne Statue, some original still life art prints, copper and brass-plated iron bullet keychain with a screw-off back and the official soundtrack featuring the game’s instrumental score. Downloadable bonuses include a multiplayer character pack of eight playable characters (including characters from the original Max Payne and Max Payne 2 like classic Max, Mona Sax and Vladimir Lem), the “Disorderly Conduct” multiplayer weapons pack including the Hammerhead Auto Shotgun, G9 Grenade Launcher and Molotov cocktail.

Bayonetta Designer Teases ‘Comeback On The Game Scene’

Hideki Kamiya is one of the head designers at Platinum Games and has a storied history as director of notable titles like Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Okami and Bayonetta. While, he’s teased announcements that have led to nothing over the past year, his comment to 4Gamer suggest he may finally announce his latest project in 2012.

“Kamiya said that he would like to announce a new game and make a comeback on the game scene and be known as more than just some guy who posts on Twitter,” said the interview synopsis.

Source: Andriasang.com

Microsoft Flight Takes Off

Microsoft is taking their Flight Simulator series in a bold new direction. Check out parts of the free-to-play experience in Microsoft Flight with this trailer produced by the Ayzenberg Group!

Feature: Turtle Beach Brings The Noise For Modern Warfare 3

If you’re into the hardcore online shooting scene, chances are pretty good that you play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The latest incarnation of the most popular shooter series on the planet is also highly prevalent on competitive gaming circuits. Those same professional gamers also use equipment from Turtle Beach, the top provider of gaming headphones. It’s a natural combination then that both work together on what could only be dubbed the largest launch of a licensed gaming headset series ever. We talked with Michael Arzt, VP Marketing and Business Development at Turtle Beach, about the team up with Activision.

Give me some background on the collaboration you’ve had with Activision over Call of Duty.

Back in March of 2011 we introduced a real game changer into the headset market, the Ear Force PX5 and have since followed it with two related models, the PX3 in June and the XP500, which has just hit the market. What makes these products so special is that they all feature programmable game audio and chat settings that can be customized for specific game titles and switched on the fly. Think of how everyone knows how to change their weapons on the fly, but now they can do the same with their game audio settings.

This had never been done before and it has now opened up a whole new world for game designers. Going into this project we knew we needed to be sure of three things: first, the results had to live up to Turtle Beach’s legacy of innovation as well as Activision’s own high standards for one of the biggest entertainment properties of the year; second, we had to go further than just a simple licensed product and so have produced headsets that integrates and enhances game play; and, third, it had to be a true collaboration.

Ear Force PX5

Being teamed up with the biggest game of the year certainly helps.

Fortunately, collaborating with the MW3 brand and development teams at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer has been a great process from start to finish. We worked together on everything from choosing headset models and CMF (colors, materials and finish) profiles for each, to package concepts and product names. As the headsets came together, we secured the advanced audio preset settings and character voice prompts that take the high end models to another level. The MW3 flagship model, the Ear Force DELTA, has a true “personality” all its own. Any Call of Duty fan already familiar with our conventional PX5 and XP500 models will get a pleasant surprise when the headset boots up with a gruff “Ear Force Delta powering on” spoken by Call of Duty military consultant Hank Keirsey. Likewise, the MW3 optimized presets created by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer will pull players into the Modern Warfare 3 experience even further.

Having everyone involved treating this like a true partnership, with shared vision and passion for the end product, is what made this possible. The results are some of the greatest game audio products available, which transcend traditional logoed licensed goods to become an integral part of the ultimate Modern Warfare 3 experience.

Talk to me about the opportunity to work on material for Modern Warfare 3, probably the biggest game of the year.

When Turtle Beach made the commitment to start looking at licensing opportunities, we felt it was important to create co-branded products that offered something unique. As the pioneers and leaders in the game audio space, we need to always keep pushing forward with our products and deliver innovations that will excite consumers.

There are only a few games that have the market gravitas and recognition level we were looking for with our first licensed venture. The way we see it, the culture of the MW3 community is in tune with our own culture and makes a great fit. This is a fully immersive game with a true blockbuster cinema approach that fully showcases all the incredible benefits of premium headsets; especially during co-op play over XBL, PSN or the internet, where precise directional cues during game play, crystal clear communication and atmospheric audio that you can feel down to your bones can all make a huge difference. Some of the technology we’ve pioneered, like the Sonic Lens and Sound Field Expander, can bring out the most subtle audio cues and expand or narrow the field of game audio, giving players unparalleled levels of control over the experience.

So it was important to you to integrate an enhance the specific experience of the game.

We were very fortunate to be able to partner with Activision for these Modern Warfare 3 headsets. Not only is it the biggest title of the year, but it will introduce a whole new segment of avid gamers to the benefits and increased enjoyment of games that Turtle Beach headsets provide. Iconic game brands like Call of Duty are rare and offer us great opportunities to forge memorable partnerships that resonate with the community.

What other games has Turtle Beach produced headsets for over the years

The Ear Force Modern Warfare 3 line is the first officially licensed headset models from Turtle Beach, and we feel it has uniquely altered the standard for what a licensed game audio product can be. But prior to this, our headsets have always been great for all games and we have forged many wonderful and lasting relationships with an assortment of publishers, developers and other gaming companies over the years. We have done retail promotions, event integrations, online and social media campaigns, advertising and more with many major game titles. Notable partner programs in the recent past have included Halo: Reach, Star Wars the Force Unleashed II, Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, Duke Nukem Forever, and Batman: Arkham City, to name a few. Further notable programs include companies like Marvel Entertainment, Intel and Nvidia with more great partnerships on the way.

Ear Force DELTA

Detail some of the elements of working with these different developers.

One especially exciting and easy collaboration model is made possible by Turtle Beach’s proprietary programmable Digital Signal Processor (DSP) technology found in the models I mentioned earlier. With the XP500 or PX5 headset connected to a console and our proprietary audio software in hand, a game developer can make custom presets in minutes that bring the exact audio experience they desire to the end player. This capability opens their games’ fans to new levels of immersion and enjoyment through the XP500/PX5 and PX3 platforms. At the launch of the PX5, we partnered with the Dead Space 2 audio team to create presets that put players into Isaac’s helmet and others that gave them the necromorph’s unique audio experience, while still others further enhanced the eeriest elements of the game’s already incredible sound design. We welcome and embrace those kinds of retail and community collaborations, as well as the bigger, more formal co-branded product opportunities, because they all serve the ultimate goal of making games more accessible and fun through better audio.

Stay tuned for part 2!

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Played Modern Warfare 3 Picked up a Turtle Beach Ear Force headset Join the discussion on Facebook.

Lego Batman 2 Brings In The Justice League

Warner Bros. Interactive has announced that it has started work on Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. The game, planned every major system in Summer 2012, will take the TT Games created series and expand it beyond the bounds of Gotham City.

“In Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin join other famous super heroes from the DC Universe including Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern to save Gotham City from destruction at the hands of the notorious villains Lex Luthor and the Joker,” reads the release. “Batman fans of all ages will enjoy a new and original story filled with classic Lego videogame action and humor as players fight to put the villains back behind bars.”

Xbox Live Indie Developers Have Happy New Year

Microsoft has announced changes to the App Hub for Xbox Live Indie Games developers. Most prominently, the size of Indie Games has been increased from 150MB up to 500MB.

“Another area we’re adjusting today is the requirement that titles larger than 50MB be priced at either 240 or 400 points. After raising our maximum size we’ve decided to also raise this limit. Starting today you can apply the 80 point price to any game with a CCGAME size under 150MB, which is three times the current limit of 50MB,” posted Microsoft. “The last change affects a fewer number of developers, but we still believe it’s an important update. Originally developers were limited to just eight titles on Xbox Live Indie Games. When Creators Club became App Hub, we raised the limit up to ten. We’re happy today to let you know that we’re again raising this limit up to twenty titles per developer.”

Source: blogs.msdn.com