Skywind is coming ... still

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2014 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: gaming, morrowind, skyrim, mod, skywind

The long awaited mod is still in development, recreating Morrowind with the improved Skyrim engine.  The alpha is currently available to those who own a copy of both games, Skyrim for the engine and Morrowind for the actual game content.  There is a lot of work to be done uniting the games, skill trees are different as well as the differences in the armour system.  With a complete redo of every texture as well as the incorporation of all of Morrowind's content this is a major project but it seems Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has good reason to believe this mod will continue being developed as there is quite a bit of action on their forums as well as the preview video they just posted.

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"I'm so used to these modern conversions of old games stalling mid-development, that I immediately approach them with skepticism. There’s now enough here that I’m starting to open up my hope glands and spurt optimism juice all over my clothes. It’s kind of a problem."

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What will survive from Games for Windows Live?

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2014 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: gaming, microsoft, G4WL

With the ending of Microsoft's Games for Windows Live service many people are understandably worried that they will no longer be able to access games that they have legitimately purchased.  Some games, such as BioShock 2 have been made available via Steam and so will continue to be available but there is a long list of other games for with the future is uncertain.  The list HEXUS provides is far from complete as many companies have yet to respond to inquiries about the future of their games and for quite a few the only thing we know is that the game is not currently slated to be removed.  Check the current list and keep your eyes open for updates.

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"We last mentioned the closure of the Games for Windows Live (G4WL) service back in October when we heard about BioShock 2 being updated and the main game and all its DLC being made available upon Steam so it could continue to be enjoyed."

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Source: Hexus

NVIDIA G-Sync DIY Kit For ASUS VG248QE Monitor Now Available for $199

Subject: Displays | January 17, 2014 - 06:35 PM |
Tagged: vg248qe, nvidia, gaming, g-sync, DIY, asus

NVIDIA's new G-Sync variable refresh rate technology is slowly being rolled out to consumers in the form of new monitors and DIY upgrade kits that can be used to add G-Sync functionality to existing displays. The first G-Sync capable monitor to support the DIY upgrade kit path is the ASUS VG248QE which is a 24" 1080p 144Hz TN panel. The monitor itself costs around $270 and the you can now purchase a G-Sync DIY upgrade kit from NVIDIA for $199.

The upgrade kit comes with a replacement controller board, power supply, HDMI cable, plastic spudger, IO shields, and installation instructions. Users will need to take apart the VG248QE monitor, remove the old PCBs and install the G-Sync board in its place. According to NVIDIA the entire process takes about 30 minutes though if this is your first time digging into monitor internals it will likely take closer to an hour to install.

The NVIDIA G-Sync DIY kit below the ASUS VG248QE monitor.

For help with installation, NVIDIA has posted a video of the installation process on YouTube. If you find text and photos easier, you can follow the installation guides written up for PC Perspective by Allyn Malventano and reader Levi Kendall. Both DIY kit reviews stated that the process, while a bit involved, was possible for most gamers to perform with a bit of guidance.

You can order the DIY upgrade kit yourself from this NVIDIA page.

Alternatively, ASUS is also releasing an updated version of the VG248QE monitor with the G-Sync board pre-installed in the first half of this year. This updated G-Sync monitor will have an MSRP of $399.

With the G-Sync kit at $199, will you be going the DIY path or waiting for a new monitor with the technology pre-installed?

Read more about NVIDIA's G-Sync display technology at PC Perspective including first impressions, installation, and more!

Source: NVIDIA

AMD looking to take up the Mantle of huge scale games

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2014 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: Star Swarm, Oxide Games, Nitrous, Mantle, gaming, amd

Without having seen Frostbite run in Mantle there is still some supposition as to the true effect of the new technology; will it increase the performance of high end PCs and allow lower end ones to do things they cannot under DirectX?  Engadget has a video of a different Mantle based engine called Nitrous, displaying a demo called Star Swarm which can display thousands of objects simultaneously on screen.  In the video they switch to DirectX to show you how much the demo slows down and what effects need to be disabled to be able to make it perform as it does under Mantle.  If this translates to real game performance Mantle could totally change RTS and most other types of games by a huge margin.  Let's hope it arrives soon now that Kaveri is out!

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"Some RTS games set the limit at 50-70 units, while others can cope with as many as 500, but a new game engine called Nitrous takes things up a level: It uses AMD's Mantle programming tool to speed up communication between the CPU and GPU, allowing up to 5,000 AI- or physics-driven objects (i.e., not mindless clones or animations) to be displayed onscreen at one time."

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Source: Engadget

CES 2014: Sennheiser Launches New PC Gaming Headsets

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2014 - 10:15 PM |
Tagged: sennheiser, headset, gaming, CES 2014, CES, audio

Hi-end PC audio manufacturer Sennheiser has announced two new PC gaming headsets aimed at enthusiasts. The new headsets are called the G4ME ZERO and G4ME ONE and feature a closed ear and open ear design, respectively.

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The G4ME ZERO is a high end model circumaural headset with a foldable design, ample padding on the headband and ear cups, and noise cancelling microphone. The analog headset is rated at 150 Ohms and the speakers at 10 Hz to 26 KHz. The G4ME ZERO has a 3 meter cable that ends with two 3.5mm jacks for the microphone and headset. Users can purchase the Sennheiser PCV 05 Combo Adapter to take the two 3.5mm jacks into a single jack for use on Mac PCs and game consoles. It is slightly heavier than the G4ME ONE at 312 grams.

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The G4ME ONE, on the other hand, weighs 300 grams and features a open circumaural design that wraps around the ears but still lets air in to reduce sweat over long gaming sessions and allow some outside sound in.  This lighter analog headset is rated at 50 Ohms and the speakers at 15 Hz to 28 KHz. Similar to the ZERO, the ONE uses two 3.5mm jacks at the end of a 3 meter long cable. It uses plush velvet pads on the ear cups and provides plenty of padding along the headband as well.

Both headsets share a design aesthetic that incorporates white, red, and silver colors on the outside of the ear cups and microphone. The headband and ear pads are black with a large Sennheiser logo along the top end of the headband. Users can control volume via controls on the right ear cup and automatically mute the microphone by lifting the boom mic upwards. Both high end G4ME headsets look nice and comfortable from the specifications and amount of padding shown in the photos.

Along with the headsets, Sennheiser has announced a partnership with IO Interactive, which is part of Square Enix to develop game audio using Sennheiser recording equipment. The company is positioning this deal as the perfect way for gamers to get the exact audio the game developers intended by using Sennheiser microphones to record the audio, headsets in the studio to test the audio, and gamers using the same headsets to play the games. It is a nice perk for sure if you are already looking to buy into one of the company's high end headsets.

The G4ME ZERO has an MSRP of $279.95 while the G4ME ONE has an MSRP of $249.95. You can find more information on their respective product pages:

Read more about PC gaming headsets at PC Perspective.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Sennheiser

Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice; oh hey the new Aliens game isn't from Gearbox

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2014 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: gaming, alien: isolation

We've been burned by Aliens games in the past, most recently by Gearbox's Colonial Marines and many are not willing to trust any new games using this IP.   Those who still have fond memories of the sound of the motion tracker did get some good news recently as Creative Assembly will be releasing Alien: Isolation which will not be a horrible shooter but instead will be a survival horror game in which you play Ripley's daughter.  The trailer shows promise, with the only flames coming from tools and not military grade hardware.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN had a chance to get their hands on the game, check it out here.

"We have all been burned by past Alien games and I would like us to maintain a healthy scepticism about Creative Assembly’s recently unveiled Alien: Isolation, which I went to see and play just before the turn of the year. With this in mind, I believe it an obligation, before we begin discussing this new threat, to observe a moment of silence in which we can all remember the brave souls we lost to the Colonial Marines disaster."

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How shiny will your gaming be on an SSD

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2013 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: gaming

Sure, it is obvious that an SSD will speed up your boot time and the loading speed of programs but will it actually make your in game experience better?  [H]ard|OCP tested a Western Digital 640GB Black Edition HDD against a Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB in five different games.  The results are as you might expect; consistency, framerate and gameplay performance differences all fall within the margin of error showing that in game the SSD will not have much effect.  On the other hand load times for both the game and saves are vastly improved.

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"We've upgraded all our video card test systems to SSDs recently. But does it actually make a difference in real world gaming performance? Today we are going to test the claim that an SSD will improve your gameplay experience compared to a spinning hard drive. We test several games apples-to-apples on our video card test system."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Trying to tempt people onto The Elder Scrolls Online beta

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: mmorpg, gaming, elder scrolls online

Long time fans of The Elder Scrolls series have not been jumping on the online version in great numbers, partly due to the changes that were made to the game to make it an MMORPG but also because that particular market is rather saturated.  Over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN is a short video intended to offer an enticing look at the skills that you can develop over time.  They are much more in depth than the constellation of skills available in offline TES games and can be gained in more ways that just levelling up.  As well they can be tweaked and modified in such a way as to make your character much more personalized, take a peek and see if it convinces you to give the game a try.

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"When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a fireman and an astronaut and a cowboy and a monster truck and Batman and a shoe and a barn and a machine that could produce infinite popsicles and the head of a moderately successful middle management firm. Eventually, however, I realized that I’d have to settle on just one thing, so I decided that I hated money and became a games journo."

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Hey look, Win 8.1 is better at something!

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: win8, gaming, BF4

[H]ard|OCP found something that Win8.1 can do better than Win7, especially now that the mouse issue is not nearly as pervasive.  As it turns out the current non-Mantle version of Battlefield 4 performs between 3-6% faster when run on a Win8 machine.  While that finding does not imply a huge performance difference they also reported that the video was much smoother when run under Win8 with none of the choppiness that was present under Win7.  Think of the frame pacing examples Ryan has provided as a good demonstration of what they are referring to, though the cause may not be the same.  It will be interesting to see how the Mantle version will perform under both operating systems.

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"Is in-game real world Battlefield 4 gaming performance better on the Windows 8.1 operating system or on Windows 7? We look at video card performance between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in this game and find out if upgrading to Windows 8.1 is worth it or not for the much rumored performance advantage."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel's HD4600 versus AMD's 4600 on Linux ... with special guests

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2013 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, mesa, open source

Phoronix is continuing to test the performance of open source Linux drivers on Source Engine games with this installation focusing on the performance of the Haswell i7-4770K.  They compare it to a number of RV770 based AMD GPUs as well as the newer HD 6450.  As you can see in the result the performance of the HD 6450 and HD 4550 are almost exactly the same and are the only two Radeons that do not leave the Intel's GPU in the dust.  If you have experience with the HD 4650 you have a very good idea as to how Intel's 4600 performs as the results are very similar.  Check out the full review here.

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"Earlier this week I delivered some 13-way AMD open-source Linux GPU benchmarks when tested against Valve's Source Engine powered Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Source games. Now up for testing from the Steam Linux client on Ubuntu is the Intel open-source Mesa graphics driver performance with Core i7 "Haswell" graphics."

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Source: Phoronix