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:

Other than an internet connection, what hardware do you need for Diablo III?

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, diablo iii, blizzard

TechSpot wanted to see what effect your graphics card has on your experience while slaughtering mobs of baddies in Diablo III.  First they removed any chance of a CPU bottleneck by building a test bed using an i7-3960X and then they gathered over two dozen GPUs to test with, ranging from a Radeon HD 6450 to a GTX 680 and almost everything in between.  At lower resolutions all but the slowest seven cards and Intel's HD4000 were able to give 60fps or more but at 2560x1600 only half of the cards they tested could make 60fps or better.  It is interesting to see that the GTX680 and HD7970 offer the same performance at the upper end of the resolutions they tested but you should expect that to change as drivers mature.

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"While we disagree with making single player components online-only, there isn't much mere mortals like us can do about it. What we can do, however, is beat the hell out of Diablo III with today's finest hardware. Blizzard has somewhat of a reputation for making highly scalable titles that run on virtually any gaming rigs, so that's largely what we expect from the developer's latest offering..."

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Source: TechSpot

Corsair Giving Away Five Vengeance 2000 Wireless Headsets

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2012 - 10:45 PM |
Tagged: vengeance 2000, vengeance, headset, gaming, corsair

Popular computer case and power supply maker Corsair recently launched a sweepstakes to get the word out about their new Vengeance 2000 wireless gaming headsets. They will be giving away five of the new virtual surround sound headsets to winners.

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The contest is open to new entrants until Monday (5/21/12), and is very simple to enter. To enter the contest, head over to their Facebook contest page and hit the “Like” button. Then click on the green “Enter Sweepstakes” button. After that, they invite you to tell your friends about the contest. They have a couple thousands entries so far, so get in while you can! The Official Rules are linked on the bottom of the contest page but it looks like anyone over the age of 18 not affiliated with the company is eligible to win.

The Vengeance 2000 is essentially the wireless version of the company's Vengeance 1500 USB gaming headset with a noticeable makeover. The headset uses 50mm drivers and 2.4GHz wireless technology to deliver virtual surround sound without a wired connection to the PC, and up to about 40 feet. It also features a rechargeable battery in the headset and an adjustable noise canceling boom microphone. The headsets have an MSRP of $149 USD.

Best of luck in the contest, and if you win be sure to let us know what you think of them!

Source: Corsair

Take a break from Diablo 3 to look behind the scenes

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2012 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: gaming, diablo iii

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN was given the chance to sit down with the senior world designer and the lead technical artist of Diablo 3.  One of the topics of discussion will be near and dear to those who played the previous games in the series, co-op multiplayer, which really defined the game for those who tried it.  Somehow button mashing in tandem was much more enjoyable than the already great single player experience and the development team spent a good deal of effort bringing that experience to Diablo 3.  They also talk about the difficulties of including enough lore to keep players who want some depth to the story of the game but ensuring that those players who don't care for a back story don't feel it is getting in the way of their game.  At no time were rainbows or unicorns discussed.

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"Diablo III is now a thing that you’re capable of owning and (hopefully) playing. Just before the launch, when those network problems were yet to freeze Hell over, I sat down with senior world designer Leonard Boyarsky and lead technical artist Julian Love to keep them company as queues formed in the streets outside. Along the way, I discovered that having an ex-Troika chap on your game means that ‘lore’ is a very important word indeed, that the distant roguelike heritage hasn’t been forgotten and that technological progression doesn’t necessarily alter design principles."

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Gigabyte USA Announces Gigabyte eSports LAN

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2012 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: LAN party, lan, gigabyte, gaming, case mod contest

Popular motherboard manufacturer Gigabyte Technology Co. recently announced the Gigabyte eSports LAN (GESL), which is its first eSports event in North America. The event includes a BYOC (bring your own computer) LANFest, tournament competitions in Starcraft II and League of Legends, a case mod competition, presentations, and an event raffle. The competitions each feature various prizes for winning including Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 motherboards, graphics cards, RAM, and other computer hardware. Starcraft II and League of Legends further offer $11,000 and $10,000 prize pools respectively.

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The event will be held at the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California from June 15th to June 17th, 2012. In additon to Gigabyte, the eSports event is co-sponsored by Kingston and Cooler Master, among others. The LAN competitions will be broadcast in HD for free during the event for those that can’t attend in person. Alternatively, users can purchase spectator badges for $15 USD. There will also be an event raffle during the GESL that will give away various pieces of computer hardware and company swag to attendees.

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Further, the case mod contest will showcase systems from participants of the BYOC LANFest or spectators, of which five winners will be chosen. They will receive computer hardware and coverage in CPU Magazine should they win.

More information on the event can be found at the Gigabyte eSports LAN website (thegesl.com).

Source: Gigabyte USA

Stressing out GPUs with a DX9 game; is the Witcher 2 the new Crysis?

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2012 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, witcher 2

[H]ard|OCP overheard that The Witcher 2 underwent a large update, to the tune of 10GB or so, which gave them an opportunity to pit the newest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD against a game which has a reputation for being hard on graphics card.  The Radeon HD 7970 and GeForce GTX 680 both struggled equally at 2560x1600 on this game, which is quite impressive for a year old game.  The most demanding feature of the game is UberSampling, which incorporates Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering and can bring even these powerful graphics cards to their knees.  When it was enabled [H] saw frame rates reduced to 20fps or lower, something that the old standby Crysis just cannot do.  You can argue that a DX9 game lacks many of the optimizations of DX10 and 11 which help the performance of these cards but it would seem that as far as testing the raw graphics power of a card,

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"The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings just underwent a major update. The Enhanced Edition offers a new zone, more quests, more cinematics, and several bug fixes. This DX9 game has the reputation of being one of the most demanding and stressful games on modern video cards. We put this theory to the test."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Microsoft Xbox 360 and Kinect Bundle for $99 On Contract

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 02:58 AM |
Tagged: xbox 360, microsoft, gaming, console

The Xbox 360 has now been available in some form for almost seven years and has sold approximately 67.2 million units. Consumers are able to get the updated Xbox 360 4GB model for $199 USD at many retailers along with the Kinect add-on for $99. If that price still seems too steep, Microsoft has started to offer a subsidized Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle for those users lucky enough to live close to a physical Microsoft Store. There are currently 17 stores in a number of US states, with four more listed as "coming soon."

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Microsoft is offering a two year contract of Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 a month. As a promotion for signing the contract, the company will sell a 4GB Xbox 360 S and Microsoft Kinect add-on for $99 USD. In total, the system will cost $458.76 plus applicable taxes–$359.76 for the monthly contract and $99 for the hardware. Interestingly, the subsidized cost ends up being more expensive than buying it outright. In under five minutes of searching around Amazon, I found 2 1 year subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold and an Xbox 360 S 4GB and Kinect hardware bundle for $380.20.

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That isn’t surprising but is still interesting that the subsidized model with contract does end up being more expensive. If you can’t afford the upfront cost the subscription may be worth it, especially with the Xbox Next not coming this year. Buying the hardware outright is going to cost less but considering the Xbox is rather dated at this point, paying $99 for the hardware–with the Xbox Live Gold contract not being locked to that one console– may be a better deal should the next Xbox be released within that two year window then buying both consoles outright. At least then, you can apply the contract towards the new console and not be out as much money on the original hardware. In the end, it is a nice alternative method for getting the console and Kinect hardware.

On the other hand, for the price of a subsidized Xbox 360, you could buy a shiny new GTX 670 for a gaming pc (hehe).

Source: Microsoft

Steam Allows Remote Installation of Games

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2012 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, gaming pc, gaming, games

Valve recently released a beta update for its Steam client that allows users to remotely install games to their local machine using the steampowered.com website.

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After installing the beta update to the local Steam client (Steam > Settings > Beta Participation), just leave the client logged in on your machine. Then navigate to Community page of the Steam website. After that, click on the Games category where the website will then list all the games tied to your Steam account. If you have a game you want to download and install while you are away, just hit the install button to the right of the game’s name.

This is certainly an interesting feature for some, especially if you happen to be on vacation during a Steam Holiday Sale! (hehe). More details on the process can be found here. Is this a feature you’ll be using?

Source: Valve

New trailer for Mechwarrior Tactics

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2012 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: online, Mechwarrior, gaming

PC Gamer got their hands on a new preview of Mechwarrior Tactics, the soon to be released free to play online game.  The beginning clearly shows the turn based nature of the game, especially when there is an overlay of hexes on the map, a necessity if they want to provide an experience close to the tabletop game which it has evolved from.  Once the action starts you can see Jump Jets in action as well as several LRM attacks, all nicely animated.  Fans are anxiously awaiting the release of this game, to see if it truly remains free to play as well as to see if the game is actually enjoyable.

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"Hexes with mechses makeses me happy"

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Source: PC Gamer

Ubuntu, now available through Steam

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, steam

It seems the Gabe Newell doesn't like hearing that you can't game on Linux and is planning on releasing a Linux version of both Steam and the Source Engine.   The implementation is planned to be natively supported by Linux with no need for Wine, Phoronix has seen it running with an install of Ubuntu and a Catalyst driver for the Radeon that was providing graphics.  The Linux community has been waiting a long time for this day and now that Gabe is focusing his attention on this project there is hopes that it will soon come to fruition.  Phoronix could not be happier.

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"For those that have doubted the exclusive Phoronix claims for quite a while now that the Steam client and Source Engine are in fact being ported to Linux, the doubts can be nearly laid to rest. Even I began to wonder how long it would take before the clients for their popular games would be publicly released under Linux. However, after confirming the information perhaps a bit too soon, their level of Linux interest is much more clear after spending a day at their offices. A meeting topped off the day with Gabe Newell regarding Linux where he sounded more like a Linux saint than an ex-Microsoft employee. Valve does have some great plans for Linux beyond just shipping the client versions of Steam and their popular games on the Source Engine."

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Source: Phoronix