Chris Roberts doesn't need no steenking console; Star Citizen is proudly PC only

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2012 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: wing commander, gaming, star citizen, sqaudron 42

As mentioned a few weeks ago the brains behind Wing Commander, Privateer and Freelancer, Chris Roberts has a surprise brewing for PC gamers and today we have a name, a date and a trailer.  Star Citizen will be a huge game with multiplayer support and what looks to  be a persistent universe where your actions and the actions of other players will have an effect on the overall scope of the game, for instance the ability to find uncharted warp gates and sell your navigational data for profit to companies and other players.  There will be a single player offline aspect as well, called Squadron 42, for those who want to muck up their universe on their very own.  You can sign up as of 10.10.12 and donate money to the cause as the game is in pre-alpha and still needs a lot of money and time to finish.  Help bring this space sim to fruition and support PC gaming at the same time.  Keep an eye on Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN as they may someday release video of what they have seen, in the mean time the trailer is below.

"I’m sitting in a room, definitely not watching Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts playing a new Wing Commander game. No, it’s the brand new, totally original Star Citizen [the single player aspect of which is called Squadron 42, for some reason - Ed], and as I watch him fly a fighter with no resemblance whatsoever to the Raptor with a Broadsword turret out of a carrier’s launchbay and into the never before seen Vega Sector, I don’t for a second pause to notice how he totally isn’t flying past one of the Kilrathi’s asymmetric Dralthi fighters. Or anything else that might require an expensive license or getting into bed with EA."

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List of Games for Linux Steam Client Leak

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2012 - 09:26 AM |
Tagged: valve, tux, steam, linux, gaming

A Steam client for Linux has been a long time in the making, but is definitely getting closer to release with an imminent public beta announced last month.

During the initial announcement, Valve hinted that at least one native Linux game would be available along with the new beta client. Many gamers have predicted that the game will be Valve's own zombie FPS Left 4 Dead 2. Now, thanks to a leaked list of games from Valve's CDR database, gamers can add a few more native Linux games to that list. Among the leaked native Linux games are:

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Crusader Kings 2
  • Cubemen
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • Eversion
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
  • Trine 2
  • Waveform
  • World of Goo 

Unfortunately, various id software titles with Linux ports appear to be absent as well as several popular Linux-only games such as Tuxracer, Super Tuxkart, and other games popular with a certain penguin. It will be interesting to see what newer games Steam is able to bring on board after the official launch as well. I expect to see games like FTL, for example. Further, I'm curious to see how well received Steam will be versus software like the Ubuntu Software Center!

You can find a full list of games currently on Steam (for Windows) that have native Windows binaries – and will likely make it onto the native Linux Steam client – on this wiki page.

Are you excited for Linux to (finally) get a Steam client?

Source: Bit-Tech

Help bring Nexus 2 to life and save the local galactic neighbourhood

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: Kickstarter, kick ass, Nexus, Nexus 2, gaming

The original Nexus: The Jupiter Incident can be hard to explain to those who believe the only RTS game style involves a base and focuses on harvesting resources in order to produce masses of cloned troops of different styles and tiers.  It is similar to Homeworld in that it involves fleet battles and races with differing technologies and spaceships but that is where the similarity ends.  There is no mothership nor do you collect resources to spawn more ships, instead you start with a set amount of ships and equipment to outfit those ships at the beginning of the mission and if you happen to lose a ship to enemy fire that ship is gone; if you are lucky you might get a replacement next mission.   The ships can be outfitted with a variety of weapons and equipment, from shield destroying beam weapons to hull destroying missiles to close support fighters, your choices are limited only by the supplies available not the amount of money or resources you collected.  The pace is much slower but then the missions are unforgiving and simply having a ship out of place could spell disaster for your entire squadron.  At $10 on Steam if this sounds even slightly interesting you should pick it up!

The reason it is worth mentioning this 8 year old game is that the Most Wanted Entertainment and most of the original dev team have launched a Kickstarter program to fund the creation of the sequel, Nexus : The Gods Awaken.  Keeping the original feel, as they put it "a game for Admirals, not Project Managers", and updating the game to modern specifications with the use of the Unreal Engine, perhaps not an exact match to the two tech demos released over the past few years, in fact perhaps even better.  Ship design is planned to be modular which will allow greater customization of your task force as well as enabling the inclusion of larger, better designed space stations and capital ships.  You will get full control over the design of your fighters, bombers and gunboats, which may make watching them die while protecting your ships a more personal experience than in the first game.  You can also expect to see familiar faces and two new alien races, not to mention the one you already went up against but only if they get enough money to get this project off the ground.

Kickstarter is quickly becoming a way for game companies to finance the creation of a game without needing a large publisher behind them and when tied with a release on Steam it also reduces the need for a distributor.  Many will loudly scream that this will lead to a fragmentation of the gaming industry as not everyone will hear about the release of a game, as well as leading to the release of games not destined to be blockbusters.  You can safely ignore them, another Halo game should come out soon and they will stop paying attention and let those who like a game for what it is and not what the advertising says get on with supporting projects like this.  If you feel the same, head to the Kickstarter site and toss them a few coins!

"The gameplay of Nexus is everything the discerning Space Admiral could desire. Alongside improvements and polish across the board to existing graphics and gameplay, there is also a wealth of new features to expand and enrich the gameplay to ever-greater heights.

The Psis are a new class of NPC, who can be added to the crew of certain ships. Each Psi has a unique power, allowing them to influence the course of battle, and turn a lost cause into a triumphant victory."

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Source: Kickstarter

Steam Begins Selling Non-Game Software, Software On Sale Until Oct. 9

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, software, gaming

In August, Valve announced that it would soon begin selling non-game Windows software on its Steam (game) distribution service. This week, the company launched the first titles to be sold on Steam, which are mainly game related applications like benchmarks and art/asset editors.

Steam Software.jpg

To sweeten the deal, Valve is offering up the first wave of software titles for 10% off until next Tuesday. The launch titles include:

  • ArtRage Studio Pro
  • CameraBag 2
  • GameMaker: Studio
  • 3D-Coat
  • 3DMark Vantage
  • 3DMark 11
  • Source Filmmaker

These applications are available for purchase now, and most will take advantage of Steam features like cloud saving and the Steam Workshop to share your creations with others. Further, I can see the benchmarking utilities appealing to reviewers as they can just let Steam take care of the product keys and it can just be rolled into the same Steam backup that the benchmark games are in! For most people though, I think if the price is right Steam might be a viable option. On the other hand, it will be facing stiff competition from services like the Windows Store in Windows 8. And not to mention the pesky issue that if you lose your Steam account or do not agree to the next EULA change you lose access to any programs you've purchased on Steam (oh joy).

Steam Software.jpg

You can find more information in Valve's press release.

What do you think of Valve selling non-game software on Steam? I'm willing to give it a chance but don't think I'll use it all that much unless its included in a seasonal Steam Sale.

Source: Valve

Limited Access Steam for Linux Beta Coming In October

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2012 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, linux, gaming

Valve software is slowly but surely moving towards supporting the open source Linux operating system with a new Steam client. The latest milestone is an announcement by Valve that it is extending the beta beyond its privately selected internal testers to a limited number of public users.

The upcoming public beta will be rolled out soon along with a sign up page where the public can apply. From that sign up list, Valve will be selecting 1,000 applicants to test the Linux version of its Steam client.

While Valve has not announced a specific date for the start of the beta (or when the sign up page will go live) beyond that it is coming “sometime in October,” the company did provide a couple of tidbits of information on the beta client software.

The (limited) public beta will include the Steam game client, and a single Valve game. This beta client will run on Ubuntu 12.04 or above. Unfortunately, the beta will not include any additional playable games. Also the beta client will not include the recently released (on Windows) Big Picture Mode functionality.

tux_valve.jpg

Many users are speculating that the single game hinted at in the announcement will be the company’s latest zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead 2, as Valve has shown off the game running on Linux before. Valve has stated that it is extending the beta beyond its internal testers to attempt to get a wider sample size and to be able to test the beta software on as many varied hardware configurations as possible.

Gamers that want a chance to be one of the 1,000 users that will be asked to participate in the beta should keep an eye out on the Linux blog on Valve's website.

Granted, this is a small step, and the final Steam client for Linux is probably a ways off still, but I am still excited. Like Scott mentioned, gaming is one of the things keeping me with Windows despite my interest in Linux Mint (that OS really flies on my system! ).

Source: Valve

Can't get enough classic gaming? System Shock 2 and Thief 2 get compatibility updates

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2012 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, system shock 2, thief 2, classics

Remember the olden days when a game was interesting enough on its own that you didn't need to add Panda bears as a playable class just to try to get players interested?  Two perfect examples of what a game should be, System Shock 2 (why we can't have nice things) and Thief 2 have recently received unofficial, community designed stability patches.  If you have spent time and money at Good Old Games or hoard old game CDs in the belief that you will have a trouble free experience playing old titles under Win7, you have probably come to the realization that sometimes it just isn't that easy.  That is why it is wonderful to see PC gaming enthusiasts hard at work making old classics compatible with today's software and in some cases enabling resolutions and settings we only dreamed about when the games were first released.  Check out Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for the files you will need to experience these two games again, stable and with improvements beyond the original releases.

As well, make sure to check PC Per Live (over there at the right ... the radio tower with LIVE under it!) as the PC Perspective Podcast is tonight at 7PM PDT and afterwards we will probably live stream the crew playing a game, possibly one which begins with the letter 'B'.

Shock2.jpg

"System Shock 2 and Thief 2 are regularly hailed as classics for a reason. They’re meticulously designed, tough but not unfair, and, well, they’ve been around for a gazillion years – at least, in gaming technology time. Unfortunately, our light-speed-traveling future machines take about as well to them as modern automobiles to giant stone Flintstones wheels. In other (pseudo) words, clunkity clunk clunk crash. But now – finally, wonderfully, mercifully – some kind soul’s seen fit to release unofficial patches that bring both games up to speed. And, according to early reports, they make some positively massive improvements."

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Don't lie about Sleeping Dogs

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2012 - 09:33 PM |
Tagged: sleeping dogs, gaming

Sleeping Dogs is apparently not a part of the True Crime series and the original title True Crime: Hong Kong was misleading.  Then again, it is totally not a Grand Theft Auto clone either.  Whatever this game where you play a cop pretending to be a member of the Triad, in theory undercover but more likely just getting to live out a submerged fantasy actually is, The Tech Report has some advice for you.   Simply enjoy the game, go on a killing spree, drive around pointlessly or even do some missions, don't think about it just play.

If you neither want to think or to play, then PC Perspective can fulfill your need.  Right after the podcast the four of us are going to try streaming a little Borderlands 2 action, so grab some popcorn, your favourite beverages and kick back and relax at PCPer Live!

mrs.jpg

"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior spends a few nights with Sleeping Dogs, United Front's combat-infused GTAlternative."

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Chris Roberts is making something new for space jockeys

Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2012 - 05:44 PM |
Tagged: wing commander, gaming

If the name Chris Roberts doesn't immediately fill your mind with fond memories, you obviously never watched the credits of a Wing Commander game.  He was the creator of the Wing Commander universe and the cut scenes featuring real actors instead of CGI.  He has announced that he is working on something, though the actual details are fairly slim.  We know it will be a space sim, but whether it will take place in the Wing Commander universe, if it will be mission based or open like Freelancer or if he is planning on unveiling something completely new is unknown.  Either way it is a win for space sim fans and gamers who appreciate the quality of story line and extras that he is famous for.  Check out Rock,. Paper, SHOTGUN for links to his new site.

In the mean time, if you haven't tried the full conversion FreeSpace 2 mod Wing Commander Saga yet you can occupy yourself until we know a bit more.

ProperCutscene.png

"This is something of an announcement of an announcement but it does contain information relevant to simulated spacefarers everywhere. Gather them together before the screen and allow them to gaze on the website for Roberts Space Industries. Here’s one of the things it says on the site."

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Valve Announces First Greenlight Approved Games

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming, greenlight, gaming

Valve announced today that ten of the games submitted to its Greenlight service have been approved. Each of the titles are in various states of development, and will be released on Steam once they are complete. While Valve encountered a minor hiccup when it instituted a $100 (one time per developer) submission fee that goes to the Child’s Play charity to combat an increasing number of joke/spam submissions, it has been overall a very successful program for the company. A number of developers have submitted their games and the community has taken to service and deciding which games are interesting enough to be sold on the Steam Store.

steam_greenlight.jpg

The first titles to successfully be green-lit are listed below.

Personally, I'm most excited about Black Mesa and Project Zomboid coming to Steam. In the news post on Steam website, Anna Sweet stated that “the Steam community rallied around these titles and made them the clear choice for the first set of titles to launch out of Greenlight.” I am now now eagerly awaiting the Black Mesa download in particular. What about you, did any of the games you voted for make the cut this time around?

Source: Valve

CiiNow Engineering Open Cloud Gaming Platform With AMD Radeon Graphics Hardware

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 10:41 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, radeon, onlive, gaming, cloud gaming, ciinow, amd

In the wake of OnLive going bankrupt and selling itself to new investors, a new cloud gaming company has emerged called CiiNOW. The company was founded in 2010 and now has 24 employees. It has managed to raise more than $13 million USD, but with a new investment from new chip designer AMD CiiNow is ready to go public with its software. Interestingly, instead of starting its own cloud gaming service, CiiNow is positioning itself as a Middleware company by selling its virtualization and gaming software to other companies. Those business customers would then use CiiNow’s software to start their own cloud gaming services.

Ciinow website.jpg

In the deal with AMD, CiiNOW will recommend AMD Radeon graphics cards to customers as well as supporting them on its software platform. According to CiiNow, its virtualized platform is able to run on any data center or cloud computing platform’s hardware. While OnLive generally required specialized servers where the graphics card was dedicated to providing games to one (or a small number of) user(s), CiiNow claims to be able to provide up to eight 720p HD streams per server blade, and up to 272 HD streams per traditional server rack. On the user side of things, CiiNow has stated that gamers would need at least a Mbps internet connection in order to play the streamed games effectively. Company CEO Ron Haberman was quoted by Venture Beat in stating the following:

“One of the big issues with cloud gaming is that no one likes to talk about costs, we are more economical because we virtualize any hardware that fits underneath our software.”

Ciinow_how it works.jpg

While the company has not gone into details about how the virtualization software works on off-the-shelf servers, they claim that it is an extremely scalable solution that can support rapidly growing numbers of end users without dramatically increasing hardware costs. It's impossible to say how well cloud gaming services based on this technology will work without more details or a hands on, but it is nice to see someone else take up the mantle from OnLive – especially with competitor Gaikai being bought out by Sony. CiiNow wants its technology to be used to deliver AAA titles to gamers over the Internet, so I'm interested in how they are going to pull that off using varying hardware with CiiNow's software layer running on top (specifically, the performance they will be able to get out of the hardware and how it will be sliced up between clients/gamers).

The company has said that games will not need to be ported to the virtualized software to work, only a DRM free copy from the publisher needs to be provided to load it onto the platform. Further, the cloud gaming provider using CiiNow's software will be able to support game pads and other controllers to interact with the streamed games. CiiNow does not list specific latency numbers on its site, but claims that it is using a low latency H.264 video stream to send the gameplay down to users. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to match or exceed NVIDIA's GRID technology in that respect, however.

There are still a lot of questions about how CiiNOW's software will work, and whether it will advance cloud gaming in general. Fortunately, you should be able to get some answers soon as the company's software is now available to the public, and we should start to see some new cloud gaming providers popping up based on the virtualization technology. Reportedly, the company has completed several trial runs in Europe and has potential customers in the US, Korea, and Australia. CiiNow claims that it could take around two months from when a customer orders equipment before its cloud gaming service can go live, so the first fruits of CiiNow's labor might emerge by the end of this year.

There is a preview of a cloud gaming service up on CiiNOW's website, but no partners with plans to launch gaming services have been publicly announced yet. 

In the video below, CiiNOW CEO Ron Haberman introduces the company's new cloud gaming platform.

Continue reading for my speculation and brief thoughts on cloud gaming. Feel free to join the comment discussion (no registration required).

Source: Venture Beat