GDC 15: Valve's $49.99 Steam Controller Coming In November

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2015 - 01:54 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, peripheral, gdc 2015, gdc 15, gaming, controller

Valve has given the elusive (vaporous? heh, I'll leave the good puns to Scott) Steam Controller a release date and several refinements to the design. Slated for a November 2015 launch, the Steam Controller will ship with most of the Steam Machines offered by OEMs. Users will also be able to purchase controllers directly from Valve (via Steam) for $49.99.

Valve Steam Controller.jpg

The final controller features a curved design with lots of rounded edges (no sharp angles here), large handles and dual circular programmable trackpads. The four button d-pad has been replaced by an analog stick while the four A, B, X, and Y buttons sit where a second thumb stick traditionally resides.

A circular Steam button and two smaller buttons finish out the face controls.

The two large (and despite my impressions from photos apparently ergonomic) handles each host two dual stage (analog and/or digital) triggers on the top and a button on the underside of the controller.

The Steam Controller is powered by two replaceable AA batteries and is wireless.

Users will be able to create and save custom configurations to their Steam profiles as well as share those custom settings with other Steam users. This should make adoption a bit easier since you will be able to jump into games with a recommended configuration that other users report works well. Or at least it will be a better starting point for your own custom settings rather than being thrown to the wolves with a new and unfamiliar controller. I think it is going to take practice to get good at this even with the jumpstart on suggested configurations though.

It will be available in November (Steam Store page link) for $49.99 which is just cheap enough that I will likely pick one up just to try it out and see what the hype is about. If it is as comfortable as some writers (who have gotten hands on time with them at GDC) are claiming, I’m willing to give it a shot now that it includes a thumb stick (I think I need to be eased into this dual trackpad setup).

Engadget has several more photos from the GDC show floor that are worth checking out.

What do you think about the final Steam Controller?

Source: Valve

GDC 15: Maingear Launches Customizable Drift Steam Machine

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2015 - 12:46 AM |
Tagged: SteamOS, Steam Machine, maingear, gdc 2015, gdc 15, gaming, drift

Maingear is joining the Steam Machine fray at the Games Developers Conference with its announcement of the upcoming Drift Steam Machine. The Drift is a configurable small form factor gaming PC that will come equipped with Valve’s SteamOS operating system in November.

Maingear Drift Steam Machine.png

Maingear’s new Steam Machine uses a small aluminum unibody chassis with optional Glasurit automotive paint to create an exceptionally attractive gaming console. It comes in two base systems – the Maingear Drift and the Maingear Drift SS – from which users can further customize based around the Intel H81 and Z97 chipsets respectively.

The Drift is the entry level system starting at $949. This system includes a MSI H81-i motherboard, Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258 processor, 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz memory, a NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti, 500GB Seagate Barracuda hard drive, 8x DVD drive, and a 450W Silverstone power supply.

Maingear’s Drift SS takes things up a notch by moving to a Gigabyte GA-Z97N-WIFI motherboard, Intel Core i5-4590 processor paired with Maingear’s Epic 120 Supercooler closed-loop water cooler, a NVIDIA GTX 970 GPU, and a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO in addition to that 500GB hard drive in the Drift PC. The higher end liquid cooled Drift SS starts at $1,949.

Maingear Drift Steam Machine Rear IO.jpg

The Drift SS comes at a hefty premium but it sure would look impressive in your entertainment center!

Maingear is offering up the systems for pre-order today and will start shipping the customize-able systems next month. Note that systems shipped before November will come with Windows 8.1 x64 and not SteamOS (though you can emulate the experience by booting Windows into Steam Big Picture Mode or installing the beta yourself).

Source: Maingear

GDC 15: New Syber Steam Machines Coming This Fall From CyberPowerPC

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2015 - 12:17 AM |
Tagged: syber, CyberPowerPC, steam os, gaming, gdc 15, gdc 2015

Syber, a new division of CyberPowerPC, announced plans to launch a slew of Steam OS-powered living room PCs this fall. There are six Steam Machines planned in all, with prototypes being shown off at the Games Developer Conference (GDC) this week.

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So far, CyberPowerPC has revealed the Syber Steam Machine-E, Syber Steam Machine-P, and Syber Steam Machine-K. At the low end sits the Steam Machine-E with an unspecified quad core AMD processor and NVIDIA GTX graphics card starting at $449. For $100 more, you can step up to the Steam Machine-P with a dual core Intel Pentium G3258 CPU clocked at 3.2GHz and an AMD Radeon R9 270X. Finally, the Steam Machine-K sits at the high end with an Intel Core i5-4690K processor and a NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970.

Syber also hinted at an exclusive orange clad Steam Machine through CyberPowerPC for $1,399.

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Of course, these are merely starting prices and users will be able to further customize them when ordering. This is CyberPowerPC’s second stab at breaking into the living room with the SteamOS partnership. Interestingly, they have managed to shave a bit off the cost of the lowest end model and added several more tiers compared to the initial series launched at last year’s CES.

Source: Syber

GDC 15: Valve Shows Off $50 Steam Link Game Streaming Box

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2015 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: GDC, valve, streaming box, Steam Box, steam, pc game streaming, gaming, gdc 2015

Valve has slowly but surely been working on its living room gaming initiative. Despite the slow progress (read: Valve time), Steam Machines are still a thing and a new bit of hardware called the “Steam Link” will allow you to stream all of your Steam content from your computers and Steam Machines to your TV over a local network. Slated for a November launch, the Steam Link is a $49.99 box that can be paired with a Steam Controller for another $49.99.

Steam Link Angled.jpg

Valve has revealed little about the internals or specific features of the Steam Link. We do know that it can tap into Valve’s Steam In-Home Streaming technology to stream your PC games to your TV and output it at 1080p 60Hz (no word on specific latency numbers but the wired connection is promising). The box is tiny, looking to be less than half of a NUC (and much shorter) with sharp angles and one rounded corner hosting the Steam logo. Two USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a HDMI output, and an AC power jack sit on the rear of the device with a third USB port located on the left side of the Steam Link.

Steam Link Budget Streaming Box.jpg

In all, the Steam Link looks like a promising device so long as Valve can get it out the door in time, especially with so many competing streaming technologies hitting the market. I’m looking forward to more details and getting my hands one later this year.

The old is new is old again, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2015 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, wolfenstein, the old blood

B.J. Blazkowicz is back ... in time?  There was apparently a recent reboot of the venerable Wolfenstein series far more popular than the mediocre 2009 reboot which was set in a modern times, albeit a parallel history in which the Nazi's won.  The Old Blood was just announced, set presumably in the same timeline as The New Order, set in 1946 and is an assault by our hero on Castle Wolfenstein to try to prevent the Nazis from winning the war.  If it is indeed a prequel then we already know the ending, with B.J. suffering a massive head wound and going into a coma; perhaps while bending over to pick up the Spear of Destiny?  Check out the trailer at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

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"Bethesda have just announced a Wolfenstein: The New Order stand-alone prequel, which is wonderful news. Going by the subtitle The Old Blood, it’s set in 1946 as the Nazis are on the brink of winning World War II."

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The mothership is standing by

Subject: General Tech | February 25, 2015 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, Homeworld Remastered, gaming, fragging frogs

That's right, for those of you who pre-ordered Homeworld Remastered and for anyone that pops by Steam to purchase it, your productivity is in for a serious hit as you try to guide your fleet to a new homeworld and then defend it.  For those lucky and old enough to have played through it originally you will find the look vastly improved and from what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN and other reviewers have found you will also love the improved interface.  For those who have not had the pleasure of playing through these two games before, the $33 investment is more than worth it, especially with improved multiplayer coming in the near future.  Check out the videos and overview of the poster child for revamped legacy games here.

You will have to take a break this Saturday though, as the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party #9 kicks off at 10AM ET and will end when the last frog drops.  You can check out the official thread in the forums right here to get all the information you need to participate.  AMD and other mystery sponsors will be giving away prizes to those who log into and participate in the TeamSpeak channels; not to mention it is the best way to chat in game and in the general lobby.  You can also check out the list of games that will be played as well as links to the mods and patches you will need, please download and install them before Saturday to maximize your playing time.  See you there!

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"In terms of strategy games which ‘need’ remastering, Homeworld was probably somewhere at the bottom of the list. But in terms of strategy games which really, truly benefit from remastering – well, this is a chart-topper."

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You can't stop the undead; check out the mods that exist for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: gaming, vampire the masquerade

Just because White Wolf and the World of Darkness were purchased by Icelandic studio CCP Games who are now doing nothing with the IP doesn't mean you can't explore the world with your favourite clan of vampire. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines which was originally released in 2004, gained a massive following of players many of whom are skilled modders who have been cranking out patches and mods over the years.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has just posted about two of the newest, one which unlocks Bloodlines Antitribu clans allowing you to play a far wider variety of clans and use their particular Disciplines.  That particular team is currently working on Sabbat storylines for the game as well.  In addition a new version of The Final Nights is available with a huge list of changes, additions and improvements.  Even if you have no Humanity left you should check out the work that has gone into keeping this game vibrant and interesting.

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"I’ve been conservative with Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. The only modding I do is boshing on ye olde unofficial patch, without even enabling the optional new bits, and maybe replacing my character model with a nicer NPC model. I might be bolder next playthrough, as apparently we’re spoilt for choice with Bloodlines mods at the moment."

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Is there a Hardline of difference between AMD and NVIDIA?

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2015 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, battlefield hardline

Battlefield Hardline is in public beta for those who have tired of Battlefield 4 and are looking for a new online Frostbite 3 shooter to play and [H]ard|OCP has run benchmarks to show you what kind of performance you can expect.  They gathered together three cards from the two companies, a GTX 980, 970 and 960 as well as an R9 290X DD, 290 and 285 with a mix of default and factory overclocked frequencies.  As of yet there is no Mantle support in the beta so both vendors are using DX11 in the tests, with the top four cards at 2560x1440 and the remaining two at 1080p, all set to 4X MSAA and Ultra settings except for the Dustbowl map.  The GTX 980 takes top spot but the most interesting results are the 290X and 970; the difference is so minuscule that they essentially perform at the same level and the same can be said of the pricing.  Also worthy of note is that in only one test did the cards use more than 3GB of RAM and never hit 3.5GB.

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"We hopped on the open public beta of Battlefield Hardline this past week and tested performance in all three maps with six video cards to find out how this game performs. We will talk about each map in the beta, and our experiences in terms of performance and gameplay experience so that you will know what to expect in the full game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

When is Civilizations not Civilizations? When you are on starships!

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2015 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: gaming, sid meier, starships, civilization

The video posted at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN does not show gameplay until the 30 minute mark but may still interest you before that so try not to immediately skip until the launch screen.  Once you do, you will see that Starships does borrow from Beyond Earth, with the idea of Affinities granting specific bonuses based on the leader you chose but then it immediately changes.  Starships of varying sizes and components become your troops, maps become dynamic with the addition of asteroids on the field which move, interfering with your weaponry as well as your movement and solar systems replace cities.  The way you end your turn has also changed, instead of a limited amount of moves and attacks your ships have a crew which tires as you use the ship and let you choose to keep going with penalties due to the fatigue of your crew or send them on shore leave to end their usefulness for that turn.  Check out the video to see what you think of this new face to Sid Meier.

starships2.jpg

"Meier also tackles the thorny question “how do you put maps in space?” and clarifies that people who call themselves ‘marauders’ don’t tend to be terribly friendly.

The Starships footage kicks off at around the 30 minute mark, but the more patient view can enjoy a whole 50 minutes of Sidchat."

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The Bard's Tale is back baby!

Subject: General Tech | January 28, 2015 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: old school, inxile, interplay, gaming, bards tale

Ah the sweet days of exploring Skara Brae on an Apple ][e, trying to figure out how to make it down a street or corridor without being teleported back to where you started and trying to figure out if you want to promote your magic user to a sorcerer or wizard.  InXile, the same company that brought Wasteland into the modern era will now be working to bring back The Bard's Tale. This will hopefully be a much better implementation than UbiSoft's disappointing Might & Magic X: Legacy, the change from Wasteland to Wasteland 2 is vast but has been well done.  Check out Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for more and watch the fall of Baron Harkyn and his four groups of 99 berserkers below.

"Brian Fargo and the inXile team’s next project will be another revival of an Interplay oldie. Following the success of Wasteland 2, the studio is now turning its attention to The Bard’s Tale, the fantasy dungeon crawling series last seen in 1988."

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