- - Monday, July 4, 2011


Next gen video games let players tell story

LOS ANGELES — Game makers are crafting more sophisticated story lines and creating characters that evolve based on their experiences within a game.

It’s an attempt to interest new customers and reverse a decline in video game sales as the maturing business competes for attention with new devices like the iPad.

A new crop of games calls for players to make choices that go beyond selecting a weapon. Players are asked to make moral decisions that force the game’s narrative, and their characters, to evolve. “Bioshock Infinite” and “Star Wars: The Old Republic” tap into this vein.

U.S. sales of gaming consoles and video games hit a peak in 2008, at $21.4 billion, according to market research firm NPD Group. Annual sales fell 13 percent last year.


Rural tourism summit set for Southern states

OAK GROVE — Ways to enhance rural tourism in Louisiana and Mississippi will be the topic of the Miss-Lou Regional Tourism Summit Aug. 9-11.

Dora Ann Hatch, agritourism coordinator for the LSU Agricultural Center, said the targeted region consists of 16 Louisiana parishes and 17 Mississippi counties located along or near the Mississippi River.

Speakers will address how to cluster and brand a region using culinary, agricultural and nature-based assets. Tours will include visits to Poverty Point in Epps, the Cotton Museum in Lake Providence and the Lamb Weston sweet potato processing plant in Delhi.


Generics advancing on lucrative pet drug market

PORTLAND — Family doctors aren’t the only ones facing the question of whether to prescribe name-brand or generic drugs for their patients.

Nowadays, even Fido is receiving generic versions of medications to treat illnesses, aches and pains.

As patents expire for branded pet drugs, more generics are finding their way into veterinarians’ offices.

In Portland, Putney Inc. is betting its future on continued growth in the pet generics markets. Founder and CEO Jean Hoffman says the company has launched two generic drugs for pets and has another 20 generics in the pipeline.

Industry consultant Bob Fountain of Fountain Agricounsel in Connecticut says an estimated 10 percent of animal health drugs are now generics. But he says many believe that generics will account for half of all pet medications within a decade.


Google temporarily disables ‘Realtime’ search feature

Google Inc. has temporarily shut down a search engine feature that allows users to find real-time updates from Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed and other social networking sites.

A message posted early Monday on Twitter by the team behind Google Realtime says the search feature has been temporarily disabled while Google explores how to incorporate its recently launched Google+ project into the feature. The tweet tells readers to “stay tuned.”

The company envisions including Google+ information along with other Realtime data from a variety of sources, said Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman.

Google+ is the search giant’s latest stab at entering the social networking segment of the Internet. The project was unveiled last week and lets users share things with small groups of people.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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