Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2016 - 11:44 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision
On New Year's Day, rumors flew about MLG being purchased by Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. At the time, the vast majority of available information discussed how this would affect shareholders, particularly those with lower-class stock in the eSport company. (As it turns out, very poorly.) I wondered why Activision Blizzard would want MLG's assets, especially considering their heavy involvement with ESL, afreecaTV, and others.
According to a press release from Activision Blizzard themselves, they intend to “create the ESPN of esports.” The Activision Blizzard Media Networks division will be led by the former CEO of ESPN, Steve Bornstein, and the co-founder of MLG, Mike Sepso. The other co-founder of MLG, Sundance DiGiovanni, will remain at MLG. It was previously rumored, during the investor's leak, that he was replaced by the former CFO of MLG, Greg Chisholm. While I expect that some shuffling has occurred, DiGiovanni will apparently remain in a management role at MLG. Granted, it could be equivalent to Hideo Kojima's “holiday” last October, but that would just be silly.
As far as I can tell, other broadcasters have not commented on what this means to them.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2016 - 10:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision
Update (10:10pm ET): Forgot to add "rumor" to title.
So I didn't expect this. According to eSports Observer, MLG has basically been liquidated to Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. Neither company has confirmed the report. The source is a leaked letter that was allegedly sent to stockholders, many of whom, if the rumors are true, were not informed prior to the sale. That's kind-of crappy.
We will probably hear this story evolve, if true, over the next couple weeks. The organization was said to have been running on a substantial amount of debt, relative to the company's size, for quite some time. If the organization shuts down as it seems it will, then many investors will probably get next to nothing.
On the other hand, it is interesting to see what Activision Blizzard will do with their acquisition. The publisher holds several popular spectator titles, such as Call of Duty, StarCraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, and soon to be Overwatch. I doubt that the company would roll their games into their own eSport service, especially as they are growing closer to rival ESL, so I would have to expect that these “assets” will be used to support (or leverage control) over third-party broadcasters and/or leagues.
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2015 - 08:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: treyarch, call of duty, Activision
It's always good when a major franchise decides to add (or re-add) mod support. This time it's Call of Duty. Treyarch, who developed just under half of the titles in the main series, will bring the feature to Call of Duty: Black Ops III for the PC. An unranked dedicated server will also be available, because ranking players using modded content is not exactly... fair... for any reasonable mod tool set, across all possible creations.
They intend to allow custom maps and game modes, which leaves a few open questions. Are custom assets a part of “custom maps and game modes”? What sort of scripting options will be available? Does this mean that users cannot add custom weapons (or even vehicles)? Then you can get into more specific questions, like HUD possibilities and such. Thankfully, we have enough options for “Total Conversion” mods these days, with Unreal, Crytek, Unity, and others letting just about anyone access top-tier tools, in a variety of languages and platforms.
Treyarch is planning to release a closed alpha of the mod tools in March.
Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2013 - 01:05 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: txaa, PhysX, pc gaming, nvidia, infinity ward, call fo duty, Activision
Activision recently announced a technical partnership with NVIDIA at GamesCom. The two companies are "working hand in hand" on the development of the PC version of Call of Duty: Ghosts to implement the kinds of graphical features and technologies that PC gamers expect of a new triple-A title.
According to a NVIDIA Geforce blog post, NVIDIA developers are working on-site at Infinity Ward. NVIDIA is helping Infinity Ward to enhance the Sub D tessellation, displacement mapping, and HDR lighting. Additionally, the NVIDIA engineers are working to integrate support for the company's TXAA (temporal anti-aliasing) and PhysX technologies. The Infinity Ward game developers are also taking advantage of the APEX Turbulence PhysX tool-kit to enable realistic, physics-based, smoke clouds that will react with the environment and player actions.
Activision and Infinity Ward are also enabling the use of dedicated multiplayer servers for Call of Duty: Ghosts. In addition, Call of Duty Elite will be available for the PC version of the game including a smartphone app that allows stat tracking and profile management from a mobile device.
The Geforce blog claims that the PC version is intended to be the definitive CoD: Ghosts version, which is always nice to see. More graphical effects and features are being worked on, but IW and NVIDIA are keeping them under wraps for now.
The PC is in a really good place right now between console cycles where developers are finally starting to realize the power of the PC and what it is able to offer in terms of graphical performance and control options. PC-first development is something that I have been wanting to see for a long time (develop for the PC and port to consoles rather than the other way around), and now that PC versions are once again getting due credit and development attention (and resources), along with the upcoming consoles being based on x86 hardware... these types of technical partnerships where the PC version is being positioned as the best version are hopefully the start of a trend that will see a new surge in PC gaming!
Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2013 - 02:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: next generation character rendering, GDC 13, gaming, Activision, 3D rendering
Activision recently showed off its Next-Generation Character Rendering technology, which is a new method for rendering realistic and high-quality 3D faces. The technology has been in the works for some time now, and is now at a point where faces are extremely detailed down to pores, freckles, wrinkles, and eye lashes.
In addition to Lauren, Activision also showed off its own take on the face used in NVIDIA's Ira FaceWorks tech demo. Except instead of the NVIDIA rendering, the face was done using Activision's own Next-Generation Character Rendering technology. A method that is allegedly more efficient and "completely different" than the one used for Ira. In a video showing off the technology (embedded below), the Activision method produces some impressive 3D renders in real time, but when talking appear to be a bit creepy-looking and unnatural. Perhaps Activision and NVIDIA should find a way to combine the emotional improvements of Ira with the graphical prowess of NGCR (and while we are making a wish list, I might as well add TressFX support... heh).
The high resolution faces are not quite ready for the next Call of Duty, but the research team has managed to get models to render at 180 FPS on a PC running a single GTX 680 graphics card. That is not enough to implement the technology in a game, where there are multiple models, the environment, physics, AI, and all manner of other calculations to deal with and present at acceptable frame rates, but it is nice to see this kind of future-looking work being done now. Perhaps in a few graphics card generations the hardware will catch up to the face rendering technology that Activision (and others) are working on, which will be rather satisfying to see. It is amazing how far the graphics world has come since I got into PC gaming with Wolfenstein 3D, to say the least!
The team behind Activision's Next-Generation Character Rendering technology includes:
|Javier Von Der Pahlen||Director of Research and Development|
|Etienne Donvoye||Technical Director|
|Bernardo Antoniazzi||Technical Art Director|
|Zbyněk Kysela||Modeler and Texture Artist|
|Mike Eheler||Programming and Support|
|Jorge Jimenez||Real-Time Graphics Research and Development|
Jorge Jimenez has posted several more screenshots of the GDC tech demo on his blog that are worth checking out if you are interested in the new rendering tech.
Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2012 - 08:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Bungie, Lawsuit, Activision
Contracts between Activision and certain developers are public evidence thanks to litigation between Activision and the former Infinity Ward executives. It turns out Bungie, of Halo fame before they left Microsoft to partner with Activision, is developing their titles for the PC after their first Xbox-exclusive release. The proposed style of game has “massively-multiplayer client-based mission structures with persistent elements”.
… truth be told I have been disappointed with their games after Halo 2 when they focused on fan lip service...
But as a result of recent litigation involving their publisher we have found out that Bungie is working on a massively-multiplayer game with persistent elements. According to the contract published as evidence we will see certain versions are planned to be developed for the PC supposedly in-house.
This is the first time since the 90’s where Bungie has developed a game for the PC in-house -- excluding the small assistance which Bungie provided to Microsoft Game Studios and Pi Studios for Halo 2 Vista.
Yeah… the comments for this post won't surprise me...
(Photo: Bungie, Inc.)
If you wish to see a little behind-the-scenes of game publishing then you might like to check the contract out. A lot of amusing information such as royalty rates and bonuses are not-too-buried within the legalese. The formatting makes it actually quite human legible to skim through for the most part.
Even if Activision is ultimately successful in their lawsuit against former executives West and Zampella it would certainly be one of their most annoying victories -- at best. They lose if they win and they very lose if they lose.
Now if only Heart of the Swarm release date was important for the trial…