Amazon Lumberyard Game Engine (Beta) Announced

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2016 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: amazon, AWS, game engine

Another video game engine has entered the world, this time from Amazon. It is basically a fork of CryEngine that they purchased the rights to sub-license. Amazon states that their engine will diverge over time, as they modify it in-house for licensees and their internal game studio, Amazon Game Studios. It is licensed for free, with full source access, but it has a few restrictions.

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The market is currently dominated with a variety of offerings with different business models. Unreal Engine 4 is free to use, but takes a portion of revenue after some grace amount. CryEngine is available on a relatively cheap subscription, but has no royalty requirements. Unigine offers a few lump-sum options, starting at almost a grand-and-a-half. Unity has a few options, from a cut down free version, to a relatively expensive subscription, to lump-sum payments. Finally, at least for this list, Source 2 is completely free, with the only requirement that published games must be available on Steam at launch.

That last one, Source 2, is basically the business model that Amazon chose with their new Lumberyard engine. The difference is that, instead of requiring games to be published at a certain retailer, they require that games use Amazon Web Services for online interactions, like multiplayer and cloud, unless the developer maintains their own servers. I'm not exactly sure what that distinction ("If you own and operate your own private servers") allows, but I'd assume that Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are big no-nos. On the other hand, single-player experiences and games with local multiplayer, assuming neither has “cloud” features, are completely free to make.

While it would be nice to have a purely open source offering that can compete with these proprietary engines, developers should be able to find a suitable option. Each seems to ask for something slightly different, and they are very permissive otherwise.

Source: Amazon

Remember when competition wasn't a bad word?

Subject: Editorial | October 2, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: google, chromecast, AT&T, apple tv, amd, amazon

There is more discouraging news out of AMD as another 5% of their workforce, around 10,000 employees, will be let go by the end of 2016.  That move will hurt their bottom line before the end of this year, $42 million in severance, benefit payouts and other costs associated with restructuring but should save around $60-70 million in costs by the end of next year.  This is on top of the 8% cut to their workforce which occurred earlier this year and shows just how deep AMD needs to cut to stay alive, unfortunately reducing costs is not as effective as raising revenue.  Before you laugh, point fingers or otherwise disparage AMD; consider for a moment a world in which Intel has absolutely no competition selling high powered desktop and laptop parts.  Do you really think the already slow product refreshes will speed up or prices remain the same?

Consider the case of AT&T, who have claimed numerous times that they provide the best broadband service to their customers that they are capable of and at the lowest price they can sustain.  It seems that if you live in a city which has been blessed with Google Fibre somehow AT&T is able to afford to charge $40/month less than in a city which only has the supposed competition of Comcast or Time Warner Cable.  Interesting how the presence of Google in a market has an effect that the other two supposed competitors do not.

There is of course another way to deal with the competition and both Amazon and Apple have that one down pat.  Apple removed the iFixit app that showed you the insides of your phone and had the temerity to actually show you possible ways to fix hardware issues.  Today Amazon have started to kick both Apple TV and Chromecast devices off of their online store.  As of today no new items can be added to the virtual inventory and as of the 29th of this month anything not sold will disappear.  Apparently not enough people are choosing Amazon's Prime Video streaming and so instead of making the service compatible with Apple or Google's products, Amazon has opted to attempt to prevent, or at least hinder, the sale of those products.

The topics of competition, liquidity and other market forces are far too complex to be dealt with in a short post such as this but it is worth asking yourself; do you as a customer feel like competition is still working in your favour?

The Hand

The Hand

"AMD has unveiled a belt-tightening plan that the struggling chipmaker hopes will get its finances back on track to profitability."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Why you couldn't swipe right while watching a movie in someone else's appartment

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2015 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: amazon, AWS, dynamoDB

It has not been a good week for internet users, with Skype suffering major outages and AWS based services such as Tinder and Netflix going down Sunday and experiencing issues again today.  The Register takes you through what caused the outage in this quick article about Amazon Web Services and DynamoDB. 

As with other Cloud providers, the database is spread out over the globe, with DynamoDB tables split into partitions which are not necessarily close geographically.  The location of tables to which the partitions are members of are stored in metadata servers which can connect the scattered tables into seamless interface for the end user ... when all is well.  In this case the metadata servers were responding to slowly for the tables to function which resulted in those tables querying updated memberships on the metadata servers which caused enough traffic to bring down AWS.  

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"Picture a steakhouse in which the cooks are taking so long to prepare the food, the side dishes have gone cold by the time the waiters and waitresses take the plates from the chef to the hungry diners. The orders have to be started again from scratch, the whole operation is overwhelmed, the chef walks out, and ultimately customers aren't getting fed."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Checking out the new Kindle Paperwhite

Subject: Mobile | July 2, 2015 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: amazon, kindle paperwhite

The insides of the third generation Kindle Paperwhite match the Voyage, a Freescale i.MX6 SoloLite 1GHz chip, as do the outsides with a new 300ppi screen.  Connectivity has been expanded to Wi-Fi as well as an available 3G model and there is also a brand new font called Bookerly.  If you are in need of an eReader and are not in Canada so that you can get the Tegra 4 powered Kobo Arc 7, you should head over to Techgage and see if the new improve Paperwhite is the solution you should chose.

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"Amazon has just revealed its third-gen Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, and while it doesn’t offer a substantial upgrade over the previous model, it does iterate on what was already a fantastic device. With a 300 ppi screen and brand-new Bookerly font at-the-ready, there’s not much to dislike with this e-reader."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: Techgage

Oops! Incorrect AMD CPUs Allegedly Sold on Amazon

Subject: General Tech, Processors | February 11, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: amd, amazon

So allegedly Amazon UK sold some AMD A8-7600 APUs, but they actually shipped Athlon 64 X2 5200+ CPUs. Despite what you would think, it was actually “dispatched and sold” by Amazon UK itself, rather than a dishonest seller who has some explaining to do. For those affected, Amazon is apparently handling customer service well, as expected, and promptly replacing the parts. It does not seem to affect other regions, and the problem started just a short time ago.

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Unless you're Sebastian, these processors will not even fit in the motherboard socket. PC World has an interesting side-by-side comparison of the two pin configurations. They do not look alike at all. You should not have a hard time identifying the problem if you are careful enough to look before you insert, which is obviously something that you shouldn't have to do. Also, AMD refers customers to their authenticity support page for a few extra ways to be sure that the box that you got came from AMD.

What would be the most interesting part of this story is finding out what happened. Unfortunately, we probably will never know, unless it turns into a famous legal battle of some sort.

Source: Tech Report

Video Perspective: Amazon Echo Overview

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2015 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: video, echo, amazon

Late last year Amazon announced the pending release of the Echo, a standalone device that would sit in your home or office and listen to voice commands and respond in a Siri-like or Google Now-like fashion. The first Amazon Echo units have shipped and I received one of them, opening it up and putting it to use for a few days this week.

At its core, the Echo is a collection of microphones and speakers, connected to the internet through Wi-Fi. Using the keyword of “Alexa” (or you can change it to “Amazon”) you stir Echo from its slumber to respond to requests for information, streaming­ music and lists or timers. Voice recognition is fantastic and the speed at which Echo responds to voice commands is impressive, moving along at a quicker pace than either Google’s or Apple’s options.

Users that have uploaded their music collection to Amazon’s cloud library will be able to access that music through the 2.5-in subwoofer and 2.0-in tweeter, both of which add up to surprisingly good audio performance for such a small device. Amazon Prime users will have access to the company’s collection of including streaming music as well, though that collection is notably smaller than something like Spotify. Music from Amazon’s digital music store is the one item you can purchase solely through voice commands.

Adding things to a shopping list, asking for fact-based information and telling lame jokes all happen efficiently. But the drawback to the Echo is its lack of knowledge about the rest of my life. The device has no ability to know about my next calendar appointment, my incoming emails, my estimated drive time to the work. Google does though, and I can’t help but think that a Google iteration of this exact item would be a better solution.

Check out the video below to see Amazon Echo in action and determine if this device deserves a spot in your home.

PCPer 10 Days of Christmas: Day 7 - Amazon Kindle

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2014 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: kindle, holiday, amazon, 10 days of christmas

Are you still hunting for that perfect gift for the hardware and technology fan in your life? Or maybe you are looking for recommendations to give to your friends and family about what to buy for YOU? Or maybe you just want something new and cool to play with over the break? Welcome to PC Perspective's 10 Days of Christmas where we will suggest a new item each day for you to consider. Enjoy!

Since the original introduction of the Kindle e-reader years ago, the Amazon-built device has been considered the best digital reading appliance on the market. That continues to this day, even with the release of the iPad, the widespread sale of Android tablets and even Amazon's own color screen devices like the Kindle Fire. The eye comfort, extended battery life and low cost continue to drive the Kindle's dominance in this market.

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Newly revised with a touch screen e-ink display, the lowest cost Kindle device can now be picked up for under $60 if you are cool with some ads showing up on the screen while the device is locked, or $80 if you aren't. E-ink technology provides the key benefits that Kindle has over standard tablets for reading: no backlight is required and thus your eyes have much less strain to focus on the words and the ability to maintain an image on the screen without constant power allows Kindle to last "for weeks" without a recharge.

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If you or anyone you love is a reader, then you owe it to them to buy a Kindle.

If you are having trouble picking out a gift for a loved one, consider buying an Amazon.com gift card! Amazon has basically every product on the planet for your gift recipient to order and purchasing gift cards through these links directly sponsors and supports PC Perspective! And hey, if you were to buy gift cards for yourself to do your own Amazon-based Christmas shopping...that wouldn't exactly be a bad thing for us either! ;)

Did you miss any of our other PCPer 10 Days of Christmas posts?

Google Will Not Buy Twitch.tv... Amazon Did.

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2014 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: amazon, twitch, twitch.tv, google

Well this is a surprise (and I think a pleasant one). We were under the impression that YouTube, the video distribution arm of Google, was planning to purchase Twitch for $1 billion USD (pending regulatory approval). Today, it was made official: Amazon would be purchasing the video streaming platform. Twitch's CEO, Emmett Shear, published an open letter to their community with a message of thanks and a confirmation of Amazon's acquisition.

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I guess "eSports" is ready for... Prime time.

Twitch did not mention their value, but don't worry -- Amazon published a press release. The retail and infrastructure giant will pay $970 million in cash. The entire deal is expected to finalize "in the second half of 2014". Since we are already in the second half of 2014, that means any time between now and New Year's (assuming "Calendar 2014").

On the copyright front, I believe this is a major step forward. We originally feared that YouTube, and its parent company, Google, would impose a similar system to their own upon Twitch, to appease copyright owners. This is a problem because YouTube's copyright complaint system is plagued with abuse. I hope that Amazon and Twitch will be more friendly to potential, unproven infringers than YouTube has demonstrated itself to be.

Lastly, Amazon has a big, existing business in web infrastructure and online content delivery. Whether you look from the angle of Prime Video or Amazon Web Services (EC2, CloudFront, etc.), the company can handle sending bits from one place to another. They seem to be a good fit on on that front.

If there was any doubt that Amazon wants to be a big part of the gaming industry, it is gone.

Source: Amazon

Now on Amazon: 1TB Samsung 840 EVO SSD for $399, ASUS PB287Q 4K for $649

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Storage | June 19, 2014 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, 840 evo, 1TB, amazon, pb287q, asus, 4k

A couple of really nice Amazon picks hit my email box today and I thought they were worth posting for our readers as well.

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1TB Samsung 840 EVO for $399

First, and clearly the most exciting: the 1TB version of the Samsung 840 EVO SSD is now selling for just $399. That comes in at $0.399/GB, which is actually better than the cost per GB of the Crucial MX100 that launched this month. If you haven't picked up an SSD that is big enough to hold all your games, this is the perfect opportunity!

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ASUS PB287Q 4K 28-in monitor for $649

Also, after our review went up at the end of May, the 4K ASUS PB287Q 28-in monitor is finally up for sale on Amazon for $649 with a shipping date of July 1st. If you think you might be interested in the universe of gaming at 4K, now is a great time to jump in.

Thanks for supporting PC Perspective!

Amazon Gold Box Deal Titanfall for just $36

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2014 - 07:37 AM |
Tagged: amazon, gold box, titanfall

If you haven't yet picked up Titanfall, the next multiplayer shooter from many of the creators of the Call of Duty series, today is your chance to do so at a discounted price. Amazon.com is pushing Titanfall with its daily Gold Box deal, which as the name suggests, is good for today only: Tuesday, April 22nd.

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And hey, buying your Origin game key through the link above also happens to support PC Perspective!

If you are looking at building a low cost gaming PC to play games like Titanfall, we did write an article on that exact subject back in March.

Source: Amazon