Can Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart bring balance to the Force?

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2013 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, obsidian, gaming, ea

Disney may have passed exclusive rights to EA for the Star Wars franchise but that might not mean the end of the world if Obsidian Entertainment's CEO has anything to say about it.  Just as BioWare worked with Obsidian the idea of an EA and Obsidian partnership is not completely off the table.  This might not full reassure those who still miss the old days of Black Isle and BioWare games but it seems that there is hope for the future of Star Wars games.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has a quick interview with Feargus Urquhart discussing his efforts to partner up with EA.

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"We now live in a world where The Sims: Star Wars or Need for Speed: Tosche Station could become things. I’m not saying it’s likely (though the former would not shock me in the slightest), but Star Wars is under new management, so who knows? For now, all we can say for sure is that BioWare, DICE, and Visceral are actively adding their own chapters to the space opera, but we won’t see results from those initial efforts until at least mid-2014 – and much later, in all likelihood."

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Gaming

Medal of Honor: GPU Fighter

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, medal of honor, warfigher, 14th installment, frostbite

Medal of Honor is the game which just refuses to stop, with the arrival of Warfighter which is thie 14th version of this venerable series.  It uses the DX11 Frostbite 2 Engine, the same as BF3, which is famous for needing high end graphics cards to get the most out of the effects available to the engine.  [H]ard|OCP took three of the fastest AMD GPUs and three of the fastest NVIDIA cards to see how they fare against this new game.  You may be pleased to hear all six cards could play at 2560x1600, it was only the MSAA settings which needed to be altered.  Neither company was a clear winner, it seems that just about anyone with decent graphics capabilities will be able to play this game and experience the best the engine has to offer.

That is not what PC Perspective will be playing tonight on PC Per Live, we will be continuing our preferred choice of retro gaming with the original Battlefield 1942 game.  It is now available for free on Origin, so if you want to play with us tonight you'd better start downloading it now!  You should also think about tweaking the .ini files to enable resolutions that were not a choice 10 years ago!

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"Medal of Honor: Warfighter uses the Frostbite 2 engine which was made popular by delivering realistic graphics and physics in Battlefield 3. We will be finding out if the image quality has improved or stayed the same compared to Battlefield 3, and what kind of hardware is needed to take full advantage of the game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Happy Fun Time with Electronic Arts

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | October 1, 2012 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: editorial, ea, battlefield 3

You know, I used to love Electronic Arts.  There was a time in my younger days where seeing their name emblazoned on a PC game box as I wandered the aisles of Electronics Boutique was all I needed to see to buy it.  I can still remember the scrolling colors through the big "E C A" on my Commodore 64 as I anxiously waited for Bards Tale or Racing Destruction set to load.  Ah...the good old days.

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Sadly, that warm and fuzzy feeling is long gone, and over the years I've come to dislike just about everything about EA and what they've become.  My most recent foray into the mess that is EA has killed any nostalgia I had for them.  Let's walk through the fun.

I love the BattleField series of games, and have been an avid fan of them ever since the days of BF 1942.  Some of my best memories of LAN parties were BF 1942.  Whether it was driving like mad in a Jeep from one end of Wake Island to the other to try to stop a flag capture, or jumping into a T-34 in Kursk, it was about as much fun as I can recall having with a video game.  Over the years I've picked up most of the BF incarnations and when Battlefield 3 came out, I picked up a copy on release day for my XBox.  I generally like playing games on PC's over consoles, especially First Person Shooters, but I had a few friends that were playing on XBox and we all wanted to jump in and play together.  Even though I'm awful using the controller to play, we had a blast, but after a few months we stopped playing.

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Fast forward to the other day and the PcPer crew decides they want to play BF3 after the recent podcast.  I definitely can't pass up the option to get in on some Battlefield goodness, so even though I've already forked over $60 for the game and another $20 for the first expansion pack to EA on my XBox, I'm stuck with having to buy another copy of the game, just so I can play on a different platform.  Off to Amazon and another $35 funnels into EA's coffers.  Two hours and a 10 GB download later the install starts and up comes...

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Ugh...Origin...really?  I can understand why EA wants its own online game distribution system, but c'mon!  I already have a ton of games through Steam and everything works without a hitch.  Origin is a mess and I've had nothing but problems with it in the past.  I dislike using it so much that I won't buy a game if I know I have to install and use Origin to play.

But I digress.  I've already thrown another $35 at EA and we're going to play tonight, so I guess I'll just deal with it.  Hoping to fire it up and get my keybindings setup and a little bit of practice in I double click on the BF3 icon and a browser window opens.  What in the heck?  A browser?  Where's the game?  I close the browser figuring something is wrong, double click on the game icon again and up pops the browser.  Jeezalou.  I struggle for a few minutes trying to remember my ID and password for EA's site and when I finally do get in I'm looking at my stats page for my soldier.  My soldier on the XBox.  Clicking through the menus I vainly try to find a button that will let me launch the game when I notice a little drop down arrow under my Soldier name that says "BF3 XBOX".  Click on that and there's "BF3 PC".  Seriously?  I have to start over and lose all my unlocks?  My google-fu finds that there's no way to merge the two, because apparently EA doesn't understand the concept of a shared database.

Regardless, I eventually find a button labeled "Quick Match" and here we go...

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<Click>

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Holy batsnots, seriously?  In this day and age, I can't play a AAA title video game on my PC because my default browser is 64-bit?  Good lord!  I really don't want to change my default browser just to play this game, so I end up having to fire up a 32 bit version of Internet Explorer, copy and paste the link into that just so I can try to launch the game.  Error message doesn't pop up, but now I apparently need a few plugins.  At this point I had to replace my keyboard as the head bashing knocked a few keys off.  Once I get all the plugins installed I click on the "Quick Match" button again and...

Waiting...

Waiting...

Still waiting...

Continue reading our editorial on the pains of Battlefield 3 on the PC...

EA Releases “Extended Cut” DLC for Mass Effect 3

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: origin, mass effect 3, gaming, ea, dlc

Today Electronic Arts made the Extended Cut DLC available for users to download. Reportedly, it would wrap up plot holes, explain the Reapers further, and actually be influenced by all the choices that you made throughout the game.

I’ll admit that I eagerly downloaded it and went in with high hopes for a better and more personalized (and meaningful) ending. I won’t spoil it for you but the new DLC adds a couple cut scenes to each of the three traditional ending choices and even adds an alternate ending as well.

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The download is a bit over 800 MB, and even around 10PM CST I was able to max out my Internet connection to download the full game and the DLC pack. To get the DLC, open up Origin, click on the “My Games” tab, then click on the little “i” icon in the lower left of the Mass Effect 3 icon. It will now open the Mass Effect 3 game details panel. In the upper right-hand corner, click on the “Shop for add-ons” button. Find the Extended Cut pack (free), and download it.

Once downloaded and installed, you will be able to start up the game and load a save just before you enter the Citadel in the final level. The steps needed to find and install the download were not as intuitive as the simple instructions EA provided, so I hope my path to the DLC will help you (I spent quite a few minutes trying to find the area they said to go to... may be related to a different version of the Origin client and me not being very familiar with the interface, but still).

Warning Spoilers after the break. You’ve been warned!

Source: EA

Future Frostbite Engine Based Games Will Require 64-bit OSes

Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: gaming, frostbite, ea, bf3, 64-bit

Last month, Johan Andersson posted on twitter a tweet that stated future Frostbite engine based games in 2013 would require a 64-bit operating system. The full tweet is shown in the image below. He suggested that it would be a good idea to upgrade to Windows 8, though it is difficult to judge sarcasm in text (hehe). That bit led to a big explosion of tweets as the Internet revolted against what they thought would be required: an x64 version of Windows 8. Mr. Andersson later clarified that any recent x64 version of Windows would be fine.

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You can see the tweet on Twitter here.

The Windows 8 suggestion aside, I was very excited about the news that 64-bit Windows would be required. Currently, games are developed with both x64 and x86 versions in mind, which means that games are shackled by the limitations of the x86 (32 bit) operating system. As an example, Sins of a Solar Empire is a game that generally runs great from beginning to mid-game on large maps, but as players build up fleets of ships and have a lot of data to keep track of, the game starts to run out of memory and starts to chug–even when running the game on a 64-bit operating system. The CPU and GPU are not fully utilized, it is a RAM limitation as reported by a number of users and a situation I have found myself in numerous times as well.

32-bit operating systems (and I’m being general here) have a hard limit of about 4GB of RAM, from which the GPU, other expansion devices, and overhead steal a chunk of address space that the OS cannot use even if there is physically 4GB of RAM DIMMS in the system. With 2GB GPUs being common, that leaves a system running 32-bit OSes with 2GB of addressable system memory. From that, the OS can allocate programs, caching, and other system tasks to that 2GB of total available RAM. Modern games can easily hit 2GB or more of RAM usage, but on 32-bit systems they are severely restricted in how much they can use.

By requiring a 64-bit operating system, developers can focus on producing games that can make full use of RAM on modern systems. RTS and other strategy games are going to benefit the most, but even shooters like Battlefield (4?) will run smoother by being able to store as much data in RAM as possible without those pesky restrictions of 32-bit systems. Unfortunately, the upcoming Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion game will still suffer from RAM issues (though it is said to be managed better than previous releases) as it is being developed around the possibility of running on 32 or 64-bit OSes. Here’s hoping that the next SoaSE game will require 64-bit OSes just like Frostbite engine games will.

The best part, aside from performance benefits of course, is that the majority of gamers will not have to do anything when these games come out as they are already running a 64-bit version of Windows. Even OEMs have started loading x64 versions on pre-built systems in the last couple years (since Windows 7 and RAM became so cheap). Most gamers will be able to jump right in and enjoy the benefits immediately because gamers are inherently required to have at least somewhat recent hardware to play the latest games.

In the end, requiring 64-bit operating systems is a good thing, and hopefully more developers will follow in DICE’s footsteps. By freeing themselves from the limitations of 32-bit systems, they can focus on using gamers’ hardware to the fullest–at least until games start using more than 8TB of RAM (which would require a new version of Windows anyway as Win 7 x64 (Ultimate/Pro) can only address 192GB).

Source:

No you can't be a Syndicate on your own, you need partners

Subject: General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: ea, gaming, syndicate, co-op

If Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN makes allusions to a My Little Pony game being more like Syndicate than the new FPS version recently released then you know there is a problem.  The single player has changed from a top down view of a living city in which you go about nefariously manipulating circumstances to put your Syndicate at the top of the pile you are now a grunt running and gunning and fighting boss battles.  The review was not entirely negative once they tried the co-op mode which allows up to four friends to take on the AI on maps which are won by fulfilling mission objectives as well as slaughtering your opponents.  Bonus points for basing these maps on themes recognizable from the original versions of the game.  

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"They’re not entirely wrong, though it depends on the My Little Pony game. If it was squad-based game set in large, civilian-packed environments and documented a turf war between Ponies (presumably fought by throwing berries at each other or offering stern lessons on treating people nicely), it would certainly be a lot more like Syndicate than a first-person shooter with gigantic guns, infuriating boss fights, an underbaked psychic-hacking mechanic and a plot cobbled unegagingly together from over-familiar bits of The Bourne Identity, The Matrix, Robocop and Half-Life 2."

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Mass Effect 3 is Coming, Pre-Order Now and Get Battlefield 3 (PC) Free

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2012 - 02:08 AM |
Tagged: PC, mass effect 3, gaming, game, ea, bf3, battlefield 3

Update: Apparently EA has decided to pull the deal because it was too good of an idea :(. 

The final installment in the Mass Effect trilogy is almost upon us, and for those itching to get a taste of Mass Effect 3 can now go and download the Mass Effect 3 demo for the PC via EA's Origin service. The demo delivers about an hour (they claim two hours, but I finished it in about an hour and I was purposefully taking it slow to take in the scenery and such) of Shephard battling against a (spoilers ahead) Reaper invasion.

Personally, from playing the demo I'm not convinced that it is going to live up to the hype, and it seems to be rather "dumbed down" compared to the first one. With that said, it was not terrible and I will likely pick it up if only to finish out the story.  The story itself hits hard in the demo and I am excited for that aspect of the Mass Effect sequel, for example.  If you have not already done so, check out the demo that's out now.

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Anyway, if you do enjoy the demo and are getting pumped for the release this March, EA is currently running a rather good deal on Origin for those willing to Pre-Order Mass Effect 3 from the Origin store. According to EA, users who place a pre-order for Mass Effect 3 through the Origin store for any platform (including digital download, boxed PC copy, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3) before March 5, 2012 will receive a free digital PC edition of Battlefield 3 for free.  The codes for BF3 will be emailed to customers when they become available.

As always, there are some caveats:

  • The offer is only valid for those in US and Canada.
  • You must pre-order through Origin and cannot be combined with any other discounts.
  • You are not eligible for the free copy if you already own Battlefield 3 on Origin.
  • The Battlefield 3 codes will be emailed no later than March 8, 2012.

That last one is a big one (for me anyway).  Considering Battlefield 3 is already released, why can't those that pre-order ME3 get instant access to it?  I was all for the deal at first as I have not yet purchased BF3 and if I could get it for free by pre-ordering a game I was likely to buy anyway it sounded like a sweet deal.  Unfortunately, not being able to jump into BF3 to hold me over until Mass Effect 3 launched makes it less awesome.  After all, once Mass Effect 3 releases, I'm not going to want to play Battlefield 3 anymore!  Considering Battlefield 3 will likely still be approximately $60 on Origin in a few months, getting it free is still a good deal, but it's less of a impulse purchase knowing I might not get the Battlefield 3 code until after I have Mass Effect 3 downloaded.

It's there if you want it though, so go download the Mass Effect 3 demo and let us know what you think of it!

Source: EA

Battlefield 3 Sells 5 Million Copies

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: PC, gaming, fps, ea, bf3, battlefield 3

As many readers of the site will know, the PC Perspective guys have been a “bit” interested in EA’s latest multiplayer first person shooter (FPS) Battlefield 3. Ryan for one has been “testing” Battlefield 3 extensively since the game’s release as he admitted on the latest TWICH podcast.

According to EA, the PC Per staff are not the only ones to enjoy the game (despite some game issues; I’m looking at you Origin) as Battlefield 3 has sold a whopping 5 million copies. It seems as though Battlefield 3 has emerged from the battle against stability issues to win the war and be a successful release. Battlefield 3’s sales have also impressed Electronic Arts who claimed the 5 million copies have surpassed their “best expectations.” Unfortunately, they have yet to release the numbers (that I want to see) concerning the percentage of sales of the PC versus the consoles.

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Another bit of positive BF3 news is that almost 99 % of the game stability issues have been fixed. M ore information on the game issues can be found here. Until next time, feel free to hit up the PCPER BF3 platoon and play with some fun people!

Source: Ars Technica

Battlefield 3 Will Be Standard Definition Without Hard Drive Install

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2011 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: xbox, PC, gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is nearing its October 25th release date and information about each platform's release is starting to pour in.  One notable piece of information concerns the optional hard drive install for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3.  We reported earlier that the FPS would come on two DVDs for the Xbox 360, and a BF3 producer had been quoted in stating that the DVDs could be installed to the system to enable "optional high resolution textures."  At the time, I had assumed that the optional install would merely boost the (already) HD (high definition) image; however, according to Shack News the game will be only standard definition without the hard drive installation.

The PC will always have HD resolutions available, assuming your rig can handle it.

Executive producer Partick Bach explains that Battlefield 3 is based around a streaming texture engine where the terrain, textures, and content are all streamed in, and is a new way of doing things on the console (though not the gaming industry as a whole).  Unfortunately, it looks like the concern many gamers had in regards to the Xbox 360's DVD drive not being able to stream high quality textures fast enough have been realized.  Both the PC and the Playstation 3 on the other hand, are able to stream the necessary HD textures from the hard drive (PC) and Blu-Ray disc (PS3).

Mr. Bach further explains that because there are so many Xbox 360s with either no hard drives or (nearly useless) 4 GB drives, the company had to develop the Xbox version such that even a system with no hard drive could at least play the game, even at the expense of image quality.  "You could call it a 'standard-def' version for the 360 if you don't have a hard-drive."  What is still unclear is what exactly he means by standard definition.  Whether that means the game will be limited to a 480p resolution without the optional hard drive installation or high definition (720p+) resolutions with relatively lower resolution textures is not certain (though likely the later rather than the former, if I had to guess).

What this means for Xbox 360 gamers, in the end, is that the game will be quite a bit more expensive than previously thought if they want the full experience after factoring in the cost of an (outrageously priced) Microsoft hard drive.  Are you planning on buying the Xbox version?

Source: Shack News

Battlefield 3 Has Optional High Resolution Texture Pack Install On Xbox 360

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2011 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3

The Battlefield 3 beta is almost at a close, and the Xbox 360 version of the game will come on two discs, one for the single player and one for the multiplayer modes. It is not all bad news, however. DICE has revealed that the Xbox 360 version will have an optional high resolution texture pack available on the second game disc that will bump up the graphical quality.

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GamerZines has quoted Battlefield 3 producer Patrick Liu as stating “There's a voluntary install on the 360. I think Rage did it as well where you can install content to stream higher res textures.” Further, he believes that Battlefield 3 is the best looking game (on the console).

The PC will have graphical settings (far) surpassing those of the Xbox 360 and PS3; however, it is not clear how the hierarchy will stack up from there. The PS3 may well also receive the high resolution texture pack included on the Blu-ray disc that will not need to be installed, but this has not yet been confirmed; therefore, how the Xbox 360 and PS3 will compare graphically remains to be seen.

Did you manage to get onto the Caspian Border map over the weekend? What are your thoughts on the graphics of Battlefield 3 on the PC and/or consoles?

Source: Gamer Zines