Valve Opens Steam for Linux Beta to General Public

Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2012 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: valve, ubuntu, steam, opengl, linux, gaming

Gamers were given an early holiday present last Friday when Valve announced it would be opening up its Steam for Linux beta to everyone. For the past few months the company has been testing out a version of its Steam client software intended to run on Ubuntu 12.04 Linux. Valve initially performed internal testing, and then proceeded to invite users to a closed beta. And now (finally), it seems that the company is comfortable enough with the applications stability that it can release it to the general public. While it is still very much beta software, it is actively being developed and improved.

Along with the move to a public beta, Valve is transitioning to GitHub to track changes and bug reports. Further, an apt repository is in the works, which should make installing and updating the Steam beta client easier, especially on non-Ubuntu distros (like Ubuntu forks). From the documentation available on the Steam website, it seems that apt-get install gdebi-coreand gdebi steam.debis still the preferred command line installation proceedure, however. 

Steam For Linux Beta.jpg

Further, Valve has fixed several issues in the latest Steam for Linux client. (Users that were in the closed beta will need to update). The company has improved the back navigation arrow placement and added discount timers and other UI tweaks to Big Picture Mode, for example. Valve has also fixed a bug concerning high CPU usage when playing Team Fortress 2 and an issue with the Steam overlay crashing while playing Cubemen.

Right now, the game selection is very limited, but the client itself is fairly stable. The traditional and Big Picture Mode UI are identical to the Windows version that many gamers are familiar with, which is good. Installation on Ubuntu was really easy, but I had trouble getting it to work with the latest version of Linux Mint. In the end, I was not able to use the CLI method, but the GUI instructions that Valve provides ended up working. At the moment Valve is only officially supporting the beta on Ubuntu, but it is likely to be expanded to other Debian forks as well as used in Valve’s Steam Box console.

The full announcement can be found on the Steam Community site, and the repository files are located here. Another useful resource is the getting started thread on the Steam forums, where you can find help getting the client installed (especially useful if you are trying to install it on an alternative distro).

Have you used the Steam for Linux client yet? I’m excited to see more games and engines support the Linux OS, as that will be what will make or break it.

Source: Valve

PC Version of DMC: Devil May Cry Will Be Available In January

Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2012 - 09:28 PM |
Tagged: PC, gaming, dx9, dmc, devil may cry 4

DMC: Devil May Cry is coming next month. The latest entrant in the Devil May Cry series, the game is published by Capcom and is being developed by Ninja Theory. Further, Ninja Theory has outsourced the PC version of the game to QLOC. DMC: Devil May Cry is a gothic-themed hack ‘n slash game set in an alternate reality in the Devil May Cry universe.

Devil May Cry 4.png

The game is coming out on PC, PS3, and the Xbox 360, with the console versions being released as early as January 15th, 2013 and the PC version coming January 25th, 2013. The PC version will, of course, bump up the graphical quality as well as allowing frames per second rates above 60 FPS. The PC version will also support keyboard/mouse, Xbox 360 controller, and direct input gamepad input.

When purchased on Steam (it is available for pre-order now), DMC: Devil May Cry will utilize cloud saving, achievments, friend support, and leaderboards. The specific release schedule is as follows:

Release for: PC Consoles
North America 1/25/2013 1/15/2013
Europe 1/25/2013 1/15/2013
Japan 1/25/2013 1/17/2013

The game will be available on the PC starting January 25th in both retail and digital versions across Europe and by digital distribution services in North America. Currently, that means Valve's Steam and EA's Origin stores. There is no word yet on if it will be available at retail in Japan or what other digital distribution services will offer the title. The game is already available for pre-order on Steam, however. Additionally, Capcom has released the minimum and recommened system requirements for the PC version. The specifications are listed below for reference.

Minimum PC Requirements:

  • OS: Windows Vista®/XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: AMD Athlon™ X2 2.8 GHz or better, Intel® Core™2 Duo 2.4 Ghz or better
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 8 GB free hard drive space
  • Video Card: ATI Radeon™ HD 3850 or better, NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800GTS or better
  • DirectX®: 9.0c or greater
  • Sound: Standard audio device

Recommended PC Requirements:

  • OS: Windows Vista®/XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: AMD Phenom™ II X4 3 GHz or better, Intel® Core™2 Quad 2.7 Ghz or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 9 GB free hard drive space
  • Video Card: AMD Radeon™ HD 6950 or better
  • DirectX®: 9.0c or greater
  • Sound: Standard audio device

The game is based on the Unreal 3 engine, and while it is not going to push the upper boundaries of gaming PC hardware, it should look fairly good on the computer. If you are interested in the game, the Capcom-Unity website has a number of screenshots and videos showing off the game that are worth checking out.

Source: Capcom-Unity

John Carmack Believes Next-Gen Consoles Will Continue Targeting 30FPS Games

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2012 - 12:06 PM |
Tagged: xbox, ps4, gaming, games, consoles, carmack

While Nintendo has continued to pump out new gaming consoles, both Microsoft and Sony have been sitting on the current Xbox and PlayStation hardware for years. For example, the Xbox 360 is seven years old, and yet the Redmond company does not appear to be in any hurry to advance to better hardware with a new console. Sony is in a similar mindset with its PlayStation road map.

There have been rumors for the past couple years on the next Xbox and PlayStation, but there is one thing that is certain. Once gamers do (eventually) get a new console though, it will have substantially better hardware than the current generation. And considering that the latest games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have started to push the hardware to its limit, developers are clamoring for better hardware as their engines outgrow the consoles. Visuals are still increasing on iterative console games but the frame rates are starting to slip as a result. PC gamers have Eyefinity, multi-GPU, AA, AF, higher resolutions, and unrestricted frame rates. Meanwhile, developers that want games on both console and PC platforms have to contend with the fact that the Xbox 360 and PS3 are limited to a frame rate target of around 30 FPS. (And the latest games are jast barely able to achieve that target.)

Unfortunately, while many console gamers likely expect the next generation of consoles to set the frames per second bar higher, a statement by John Carmack suggests otherwise. On Twitter the id Software founder stated that “unfortunately, I can pretty much guarantee that a lot of next gen games will still target 30 fps.”

Carmack_30FPS.jpg

It is an interesting statement from the mind of a game developer. When next generation consoles do come out, they will likely push more than 30FPS on average as games built on (tweaked) existing engines will run faster on the updated hardware. However, it seems that developers are more concerned with pushing visual quality instead of framerates. As developers start pushing the new hardware, the framerates will fall towards the 30 FPS target, much like the current generation of consoles are experiencing. I suppose gamers that want unrestricted fram rates will have to stick to PC gaming for the forseeable future. 

Carmack_120FPS_On_PCs.jpg

Carmack is much more optimistic about higher framerates on PC games.

Do you think gamers care about higher framerates on their consoles?

Source: Shack News

... but will it play Far Cry 3?

Subject: General Tech | December 12, 2012 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: gaming, far cry

[H]ard|OCP took the GTX 680 and HD 7970, both alone and in pairs, to see how they performed in the newest game to come with an extra serving of eye candy, Far Cry 3.  At 2560x1600 with NO AA and Ultra settings the game looks spectacular but in order to get to that resolution you will need CrossFire or SLI as the frame rates are quite low on a single card.  For single card players 4X MSAA at 1080p is a much better target if you want the Ultra settings.  As for a winner it is hard to say, while the Radeon peaked higher than the GTX 680 the NVIDIA card provided much more consistent frame rates.

H_FC3_settings.gif

"Find out what to expect in Far Cry 3 with a GeForce GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and also with SLI and CrossFireX performance. We look at several comparisons of quality settings, and let you know about the important graphics eye candy to get you going in your Far Cry 3 gaming experience. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Nintendo Sells 425,000 Wii U Consoles, 1.75 Million Hardware Units In November

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2012 - 04:42 AM |
Tagged: Wii U, Nintendo, gaming, engadget, console

Nintendo recently unveiled its next generation console with the Wii U. While Ryan managed to get his hands on a couple of consoles, I still have not been able to get a hold of the elusive 32GB black SKU because they have been sold out at the retail stores in my area since launch day. Specifically, new data uncovered by the NPD Group puts into perspective just how popular Nintendo's new hardware is by the sheer number of units purchased in the first week of sales alone!

According to a press release by the NPD Group (available here), Nintendo managed to sell 1.75 million units of hardware in the US from October 28th to November 24th. The 1.75 million total units is further broken down between mobile and console hardware. For mobile, Nintendo sold an impressive 910,000 mobile gaming handhelds. On the console side of things, the results are not record breaking but still notable. Nintendo sold 845,000 consoles during the entire month of november.

Nintendo Wii U Game Console Black.jpg

Surprisingly, the majority of those 845,000 sales are comprised of Wii U sales over a one week period. During the first week of the Wii U being launched, Nintendo sold 425,000 consoles.  That is in comparison to the original Wii’s 475,000 consoles sold in its first week. Another interesting console number is that Nintendo has managed to sell 40 million total consoles since its launch, so the new Wii U still has a long way to go before it can topple the original motion-controlled console.

The NPD Group attributes the successful sale of 1.75 million units of gaming hardware to Black Friday sales and the initial launch excitement surrounding the new Wii U. It will be interesting to see if the Wii U will surpass its predecessor in popularity, and how long it will take to do so.

IMG_8529.JPG

I'm sure he broke the warranty on this torn apart Wii U so it is a good thing he didn't brick it with a failed firmware update! (heh)

Overall, it does appear to be a decent system with DRM, a 2GB firmware update, and retail (un)availability being the only major gripes from the Internet that I’ve picked up on. I look forward to getting my hands on some games to see how well the asynchronous gameplay works with the new gamepad in particular.

Are you excited about he Wii U?

See a full tear down of the Wii U with photos, video, and leftover screws at PC Perspective.

Source: Engadget

Crysis 3 PC to Ship with High Resolution Textures and Advanced Graphics Options

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2012 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: PC, gaming, Crysis 3, crysis, CryENGINE 3

Crysis 3, the third major installment in EA’s popular sandbox nanosuit-toting FPS is just over two months away. And unlike Crysis 2, this iteration is one that PC gamers should look forward to as much as the original. In an interview with Crysis 3’s Technical Director Marco Corbetta, PC Gamer was told that Crytek has made several optimizations and improvements to CryENGINE 3 that take full advantage of the horsepower offered by today’s high-end gaming PCs. Reportedly, with Crysis 2, there was a focus on delivering a console title, but with Crysis 3 PC gamers will get advanced graphics options and the high resolution textures on launch day that they deserve (my opinion there).

PC Gamer quoted Corbetta in stating that Crysis 3 improves upon the “AI navigation system, animation system, water, fog volumes, cloud shadows, POM, AA, cloths, vegetation, particles, lens flares, and grass.” Basically all of the little details that PC gaming is known for. On the topic of grass, the technical director expanded in saying that Crysis 3 is able to model each blade of grass which the player and NPCs will interact with, allowing movement to be spotted in the brush (and now I’m having flashbacks of Jurassic Park and it’s tall grass...). In essence, Crysis 3 is reportedly returning to its PC roots with a vengeance.

Crysis 3 explosion.png

As far as advanced graphics, users will be able to adjust a number of features to tweak the graphics details to get the most out of their hardware (or at least make the game playable until the next generation of cards?). From the top down, the advanced graphics menu has the following options: Game Effects, Objects, Particles, Post Processing, Shading, Shadows, Water, Anisotropic Filtering (AF), Texture Resolution, Motion Blur Amount, and Lens Flares. There are no sliders, but you will be able to choose from low, medium, high, and very high (for most settings). And if the previously announced PC system requirements are any indication, you will need a rather beefy multi-GPU system in order to crank these settings to the maximum.

You can find more details and the full interview over at PC Gamer. If you’re interested in the upcoming Crysis title, it’s worth a read.

Source: PC Gamer

Making a case for the reboot of one of the oldest multiplayer shooters

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2012 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Counter-Strike

Having seen Dust2 more times than is probably healthy makes picking up CounterStrike Global Offensive less attractive than perhaps it should be.  The Tech Report makes a strong case for the game, especially when it comes to weapons loadout.  Instead of spending the beginning of a game taking a random amount of time pulling out your favourite super rifle which you earned after putting 80 hours into the game, everyone has the same amount of time to purchase the same variety of weapons.  Since the money comes from kills you got previously on the map and not a stockpile that began from the first time you ever played the game you will never fall too far behind the competition, no matter how infrequently you play.  Not getting rewards might chase off some fans, but that might also improve the quality of in game chat, so it is not really a bad thing.  Check it out and see if they can convince you to get AWPed again.

TR_CSGO.jpg

"I picked up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive last week. I don't know why it took me so long—the game came out in August, after all, and it costs only $15. Anyway, I was playing Battlefield 3 with a buddy of mine, and we were both getting slaughtered by a whole team's worth of veterans—you know, those folks with the golden eagles next to their names and every unlock in their arsenals. I mentioned CS:GO in passing, and my friend asked, "Why aren't we playing that right now?""

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Razer Announces Updated Orochi Mouse For Mobile Gaming

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: razer orochi, razer, PC, mouse, mobile, laptop, gaming

Razer has been on an updating kick this month with a number of its gaming mice being refreshed with better hardware and support for Synapse 2.0 (cloud syncing) software. This time, Razer is turning to its mobile lineup and giving the Orochi an upgrade for a 2013 release.

Razer Orochi 2013 Mobile Mouse.jpg

The ambidextrous mouse can be used in a wired or wireless configuration. While the original Orochi featured a 4000 DPI laser sensor, the updated model upgrades the sensor to 6400 DPI. Further, Razer has bumped up the Bluetooth radio to one rated at Bluetooth 3.0 specifications. Powered by two AA batteries, Razer has reportedly improved battery life by a significant margin. The company rates the mobile gaming mouse at up to 30 hours of continuous gaming, and three months of normal use.

 

Razer Orochi Chrome.png

The refreshed mouse maintains the traditional LED-lit scroll wheel, mouse buttons, and two side buttons of the original Orochi. Interestingly, it comes in a shinier "chrome" colored variant in addition to the standard black blade addition.

The refreshed Orochi 2013 is available for pre-order now for $69.99. According to the Razer website, the blade edition will ship in 1-2 weeks and the chrome variant will ship in a little over a month.

Source: Razer

Razer Refreshes Krait Gaming Mouse With Better Sensor

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2012 - 09:53 AM |
Tagged: razer, mouse, mice, krait, gaming, 6400 dpi, 4G sensor

Earlier this month Razer announced that it would be updating its DeathAdder gaming mouse with a new sensor and texturized grips. Now, it looks as though the peripheral company is going to be updating its Krait mouse as well.

krait-02.jpg

The budget gaming mouse will be getting an updated 4G infrared sensor that has a maximum of 6400 DPI resolution for sniping precision. The DPI can be changed on the fly with the Krait as well. Measuring 116mm x 52mm x 36mm and weighing 85 grams, Razer has kept the same overall form factor and design as the original Krait, but has removed the strip of LEDs on the side and replaced them with new texturized rubber grips that are designed to improve grip. Support for Synapse 2.0 is also coming to the new Krait mouse, which will allow you to sync your mouse settings to other computers.

 

krait-01.jpg

Compared to the original Krait's 1600 DPI, the updated model should bring the classic design into the hands of modern gamers that are used to higher precision mice. At least that's the idea. It will be interesting to see how well received Razer's updated designs will be.

According to EXPreview, the updated Krait will cost 299 Yuan, which works out to just under $50 USD. Unfortunately, there is no word on a specific release date.

Source: EXPreview

Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free To Play

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2012 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, pc gaming, gaming, free to play, F2P

Bioware announced on Friday that its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is now Free 2 Play. As a result, my productivity over the weekend suddenly dropped dramatically (heh). The subscription option is not gone entirely, but players are now able to create characters up to level 50 without paying anything. This approach is similar to the way World of Warcraft and Star Trek Online handle the Free to Play model.

Star Wars The Old Republic Screenshot.jpg

Installation is simple, and is just a matter of walking through a few standard steps and accepting the EULA. While the initial download for the installer is small, you cannot jump into the game until you download all of the assets -- and Star Wars: The Old Republic is far from a lightweight game with an asset download of about 25GB required to play (plus future smaller patches).

SWTOR.jpg

As a free subscriber you get access to the entire game, but there are several other limitations that might just annoy you into purchasing a subscription. If you are vigilant, it is possible not to pay anything. Some of the larger restrictions include XP-rates, number of characters per account, medical probes, reduced reward choices, and not being able to sprint until level 15 of all things (!). After level 10, the rate at which you gain experience points is reduced compared to paying subscribers. As an alternative, you can purchase XP boosters to make up the difference. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase it with in-game currency. At least it’s another one-time charge instead of paying every month for a subscription. The number of characters per account is restricted to two, so you will need to delete one or pony up for a subscription if you want to play as additional classes to get their stories. That’s unfortunate, but not a deal breaker and something that Star Trek Online also does. Medical probes allow you to respawn in the same area as opposed to respawning at a medical center. This would not be so bad if it was not for the biggest issue I have with the Free To Play version: getting around the game takes forever! With a quick travel that has a 2 hour cooldown and not being able to sprint until level 15, it takes a long time to get from mission areas and back again. This became especially evident on Coruscant where walking from the taxis to the senate tower in particular was a slog.

With all the major limitations out of the way, I will say that the game is just as good as my friend has been trying to tell me since launch. In particular, SWTOR is really fun, and I would even go as far as saying it is addicting. While it is not KOTOR 3, it is really close and definitely fills in a gap. It definitely encourages you to go for the subscription option but it is enoyable enough that the restrictions are worth putting up with, however annoying.

SWTOR_Double Bladed Lightsaber.jpg

When I started out, the combat took a bit of getting used to, as you move around with WASD, aim the camera with the mouse, and also right click to attack. With ranged weapons it will likely not be an issue but when you are running in with a lightsaber, it may take a bit of training before you hurt the enemies more than yourself (heh). I wish that there was a keyboard key to auto-target the nearest enemy, especially since my companion just loves to walk in front of me when I'm trying to target someone with the mouse (KOTOR did combat that way, from what I remember). The force abilities of the Jedi Consular are satisfying indeed.

(Hint, if you go with the Jedi Shadow option as I did when you chose an advanced class, you get a free double bladed lightsaber in a backpack that shows up in your inventory--the game doesn’t make this clear at all and it took me reading on a forum after looking around the game for a couple hours trying to find a double bladed saber that is required for some of the Jedi Consular’s abilities... It ended up being in my inventory the whole time, d’oh).

You can grab the game from Bioware’s SWTOR website. If you are a Star Wars fan, I encourage you to try it out for yourself. The download is huge but ultimately worth it. Just keep an eye on the time as otherwise you may look up and notice it’s 5 AM and you missed all the Black Friday deals!

What do you think of SW:TOR?

Source: SWTOR