Subject: General Tech | November 11, 2014 - 03:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, gaming, eff, DRM, consolitis
This is something that I have been saying for quite some time now: games are struggling as an art form. Now I don't mean that games are not art; games, like all content that expresses feelings, thoughts, and ideas, are art. No, I'm talking about their ability to be preserved for future society and scholarly review. The business models for entertainment are based in either services or consumables. In the entertainment industries, few (but some) producers are concerned about the long tail – the extreme back-catalog of titles. Success is often determined by two weeks of sales, and the focus is on maximizing those revenues before refreshing with newer, similar content that scratches the same itch.
DRM is often justified as maximizing the initial rush by degrading your launch competitors: free versions of yourself. Now I'm not going to go into the endless reasons about where this fails to help (or actively harms) sales and your customers; that is the topic of other rants. For this news post, I will only discuss the problems that DRM (and other proprietary technologies) have on the future.
When you tie content to a platform, be it an operating system, API, or DRM service, you are trusting it for sustainability. This is necessary and perfectly reasonable. The problems arise with the permissions given to society from that platform owner, and how easily society can circumvent restrictions, as necessary. For instance, content written for a specific processor can be fed through an emulator, and the instruction sets can be emulated (or entirely knocked off) when allowed by patent law, if patents even interfere.
Copyright is different, though. Thanks to the DMCA, it is illegal, a federal crime at that, to circumvent copyright protection even for the betterment of society. You know, society, the actual owner of all original works, but who grants limited exclusivity to the creators for “the progress of Science and useful Arts”. Beyond the obvious and direct DRM implementations, this can also include encryption that is imposed by console manufacturers, for instance.
The DMCA is designed to have holes poked into it, however, by the Librarian of Congress. Yes, that is a job title. I did not misspell “Library of Congress”. The position was held by James H. Billington for over 25 years. Every three years, he considers petitions to limit the DMCA and adds exceptions in places that he sees fit. In 2012, he decided the jailbreaking a phone should not be illegal under the DMCA, although tablets were not covered under that exemption. This is around the time that proposals will be submitted for his next batch in late 2015.
This time, the EFF is proposing that circumventing DRM in abandoned video games should be deemed legal, for society to preserve these works of art when the copyright holders will not bother. Simply put, if society intended to grant a limited exclusive license to a content creator who has no intention of making their work available to society, then society demands the legal ability to pry off the lock to preserve the content.
Of course, even if it is deemed legal, stronger DRM implementations could make it technologically unfeasible to preserve certain works. It is still a long way's away before we encounter a lock that society cannot crack, but it is theoretically possible. This proposal does not address that root problem, but at least it could prevent society's greatest advocates from being slapped with a pointless felony for trying to do the right thing.
Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2014 - 04:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VLAN party, gaming, fragging frogs
Once again the amazing crew from the Fragging Frogs and our friends at AMD are teaming up to bring you a day of fun, fragging and prizes! This weekend we also introduce two new friends, Bohemia Interactive Studios, producers of ARMA, DayZ and other games, as well as Innovation Cooling who have both contributed to this event.
If you are not already a member of the PC Perspective Forums you will need to register as a member in order to be eligible to win the prizes given away during the VLAN. The registration thread is right here, sign your name to be eligible and please read through the links to the guides which explain how to log into the Teamspeak channel, the games that will be played and the patches and add-on files that need to be installed to ensure you spend more time playing and less time downloading. iamApropos will once again be streaming the action live via TWITCH.TV so even if you can't participate for some reason you can have fun vicariously. Be sure to thank our game hosts, organizers and sponsors as it takes a lot of time and effort to set these events up.
See you there, in the mean time here is a video to get you even more excited.
Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2014 - 01:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: internet arcade, retro, gaming
Fire up your browser, currently Firefox is the best choice, then load up games you haven't played in over 20 years; or find out what people are talking about when they remininsce about the good old days of arcades. Using JSMAME the Internet Archive has brought back hundreds of MAME cabinet games going back to the 70's, the majority of which are playable to some degree. There is a tech support forum as well as a link to contact the curator of the page if you encounter issues with launching or sound and other technical problems. The one thing that they can't help you with is the games with special controllers that just physically do not translate to mouse and keyboard or gamepad, you might have to think about creating and programming one if you want the rotating joystick from Victory Road.
If you need more modern games to satisfy you, the Fragging Frogs are up to a little something this weekend.
"The Internet Arcade is a web-based library of arcade (coin-operated) video games from the 1970s through to the 1990s, emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. Containing hundreds of games ranging through many different genres and styles, the Arcade provides research, comparison, and entertainment in the realm of the Video Game Arcade."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition @ Beamdog
- Atari Video Game Burial Hits Ebay @ Hack a Day
- Far Cry 4 Story Trailer Reminds You There’s A Story
- Rockstar shows off first-person GTA V experience @ HEXUS
- Lords of the Fallen @ The Inquirer
- How to make money playing games - Kitguru TV speaks with Fnatic COO
- Nvidia Shield Gaming Tablet @ eTeknix
- NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Review @ OCC
- One hard ghoulie: 1985's Ghosts 'n Goblins @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2014 - 12:59 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: TKL, tenkeyless, roccat, mechanical keyboard, gaming, Cherry MX
Roccat recently launched a slick new mechanical keyboard called the Ryos TKL Pro. The "TKL" in the name stands for "tenkeyless" and signifies the lack of a number pad. The new keyboard features your choice of Cherry MX switches in a glossy black (micro dot finish) frame with raised keys and a large palm rest with thumb buttons. The keyboard further packs in two ARM Cortex processors and 2MB of flash to store up to 470 macros and drive the per-key LED backlighting. Developed and tested by professional StarCraft II gamer HyuN, the Ryos TKL Pro is a cool looking bit of hardware that is available now with a MSRP of $140.
The Ryos TKL Pro measures 23.3 cm x 40.4 cm and holds 91 programmable keys. The keyboard connects via a 1.8 meter braided USB cable. It sits on five rubber feet with two being retractable risers. The mechanical keyboard supports USB report rates of 1000Hz and 1ms response times as well as N-key rollover anti-ghosting technology. The onboard memory allows users to store macros and secondary key functions when using the EasyShift+ and FN keys. The Ryos TKL Pro supports per-key illumination with special effects allowing any number of keys to be lit up while the rest remain dark. It can be configured to illuminate only the keys used in game, for instance.
Roccat has chosen Cherry MX switches for the Ryos TKL Pro like its larger Ryos MK Pro sibling. Specifically, gamers will be able to select models sporting Cherry MX blue, black, brown or red switches.
Other features include support for Roccat R.A.D. software to display game stats and achievements and Roccat Talk to interface with other Roccat gear.
The Ryos TKL Pro incorporates most of the features of the Ryos MK Pro into a more compact design. (You mainly give up the USB/audio hub and dedicated macro keys). If you are looking to ditch your number pad (and while this keyboard looks cool, I could not live without the good ole' num pad!) it might be worth looking into for your next keyboard. It is available now for $140.
Read more about mechanical keyboards at PC Perspective.
Mini-ITX Sized Package with a Full Sized GPU
PC components seem to be getting smaller. Micro-ATX used to not be very popular for the mainstream enthusiast, but that has changed as of late. Mini-ITX is now the hot form factor these days with plenty of integrated features on motherboards and interesting case designs to house them in. Enthusiast graphics cards tend to be big, and that is a problem for some of these small cases. Manufacturers are responding to this by squeezing every ounce of cooling performance into smaller cards that more adequately fit in these small chassis.
MSI is currently offering their midrange cards in these mini-ITX liveries. The card we have today is the GTX 760 Mini-ITX Gaming. The GTX 760 is a fairly popular card due to it being fairly quick, but not too expensive. It is still based on the GK104, though fairly heavily cut down from a fully functional die. The GTX 760 features 1152 CUDA Cores divided into 6 SMXs. A fully functional GK104 is 1536 CUDA Cores and 8 SMXs. The stock clock on the GTX 760 is 980 MHz with a boost up to 1033 MHz.
The pricing for the GTX 760 cards is actually fairly high as compared to similarly performing products from AMD. NVIDIA feels that they offer a very solid product at that price and do not need to compete directly with AMD on a performance per dollar basis. Considering that NVIDIA has stayed very steady in terms of marketshare, they probably have a valid point. Overall the GTX 760 performs in the same general area as a R9 270X and R9 280, but again the AMD parts have a significant advantage in terms of price.
The challenges for making a high performing, small form factor card are focused on power delivery and thermal dissipation. Can the smaller PCB still have enough space for all of the VRMs required with such a design? Can the manufacturer develop a cooling solution that will keep the GPU in the designed thermal envelope? MSI has taken a shot at these issues with their GTX 760 Mini-ITX OC edition card.
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2014 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, skyrim, frostfall
Last week RPS engaged in a bit of a theme, reviewing various survival games which is a genre which has really taken off this year. Perhaps the most interesting was this article describing life with mods that make Skyrim into a much colder place to live, with frostbite becoming a serious concern as well as weather effects which are far more than just eye candy. They also chose a mod which disables fast travel and removes dragons and the Dragonborn, instead playing a random outlaw out for an adventure. All told this makes for a very different game than the vanilla and for those really looking for a new experience there is a comprehensive list of survival mods in this post, check out the comments below as well if you want to start counting your calories.
If you prefer survival of the fittest in a multiplayer game, then drop the single player mods and check out what the Fragging Frogs are up to this week.
Drinking also has an effect.
"But more importantly, Meeko kept me warm in Skyrim’s deadly mountain passes. One of the mods I have installed is Frostfall, which gives the player a few extra things to worry about. Exposure can leave you freezing to death, while being wet means you succumb to the cold even faster. You have to keep yourself warm at fires and fill up on hot soups to keep your ‘exposure meter’ from dropping too low. Once, I tried to swim across a small, icy river and before I could get a fire going on the opposite shore I passed out from hypothermia. I woke up in a familiar inn, penniless, frostbitten and with this note in my pocket."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2014 - 01:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, borderlands: the pre-sequel
As you may have noticed, Ryan and the gang from NVIDIA have been playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and giving out lots of prizes to viewers. That is certainly enough to make anyone think positively about the newest installment of Gearbox's series, but how is the game its self? Several familiar characters make an appearance, albeit in slightly different roles than either of the previous games nor do gravity or oxygen remain as they were. Does the zany dialogue and cartoony graphics provide as much fun as the other games or has the series already reached its peak? As usual Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have thoughts on that topic to share with you.
"It’s a little tricky to avoid feeling that a review of The Pre-Sequel (!) is superfluous. Surely everyone in the world has had a taste of Borderlands at this point, and have made their minds up about it? This is very much more of that same formula, with zaniness turned up to… What’s that, Steve? You’ve never played a Borderlands game? Wow."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- To The Moon! Borderlands: Pre-Sequel Preview-Review @ Techgage
- F.E.A.R. Online Is Free-To-Play On Steam @ [H]ard|OCP
- Wot I Think: Legend Of Grimrock 2 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Civ: Beyond Earth’s Intro Recreates Science Victory @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Lights off, nappies on! It's Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within @ The Register
- In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream - Alien: Isolation Review @ Techgage
- Wot I Think – Styx: Master Of Shadows @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review @ OCC
- Sleeping Dogs 2-Years Later Review @ OCC
- Civilization: Beyond Earth Linux and Mac release dates confirmed @ HEXUS
- Tunnel Vision: Alien Eyes Sore Jubilation @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Back In Flashblack: Jagged Alliance Again @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 21, 2014 - 06:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: maxwell, nvidia, gaming, mini ITX, small form factor, GTX 970, GM204, gigabyte
Gigabyte has announced a new miniature graphics card based around NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 970 GPU. The upcoming card is a dual slot, single fan design that is even shorter than the existing GTX 970 graphics cards (which are fairly short themselves). Officially known as the GV-N970IXOC-4GD, the miniaturized GTX 970 will be available for your small form factor (Mini ITX) systems in November for around $330.
The new Mini ITX compatible graphics card packs in a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 970 processor, 4GB of video memory, a custom PCB, and a custom WindForce-inspired cooler into a graphics card that is smaller than any of the existing GTX 970 cards. Gigabyte is using a custom design with a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector instead of two 6-pin connectors from the reference design or the 6-pin plus 8-pin from manufacturers like EVGA. The single power connector means less cabling to route (and
successfully attempt to hide heh) and better small form factor PSU compatibility. The cooler is an aluminum fin array with three copper heatpipes paired with a single shrouded fan.
The tiny card comes factory overclocked at 1076 MHz base and 1216 MHz boost, which is a respectable boost over the reference specifications. For reference, the GeForce GTX 970 processor is a 28nm chip using NVIDIA's GM204 "Maxwell" architecture with 1664 CUDA cores clocked at 1051 MHz base and 1178 MHz boost. It appears that Gigabyte has left the 4GB of GDDR5 untouched at 7.0 GT/s.
|Gigabyte GTX 970 Mini ITX||
Reference GTX 970
|Core (MHz) Boost||1216||1178|
|Memory Rate||7.0 (GT/s)||7.0 (GT/s)|
|PCI-E Power||1x 8-pin||2x 6-pin|
The display output on the miniature Gigabyte card differs slightly from the reference design with the addition of a DVI-D connection.
- 3 x DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DVI-I
- 1 x DVI-D
According to Gigabyte, its custom cooler resulted in lower temperatures versus the reference design. The company claims that when running Metro: Last Light, the Mini ITX Gigabyte GTX 970 GPU ran at 62°C versus a reference design hitting 76°C running the same game. If true, the Gigabyte cooler is capable of keeping the card significantly cooler while taking up less space (though fan speeds and sound levels were not mentioned, nor compared to other custom coolers).
The small form factor friendly GTX 970 is coming next month with a MSRP of $329.99. Are you excited?
Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 01:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Day For Night Games, The Black Glove, irrational, gaming
Watch the Kickstarter video from Day For Night Games and you will see a lot of Bioshock DNA in The Blck Glove, but not a lot of bloodshed. Instead of hordes of Splicers to take down in a variety of ways there are three artists whose creations you can improve by changing their past Muse, Medium or Message and instead of Big Daddy there is a ... Space Minotaur? You take the role of curator for The Equinox, a rather surreal 1920's theatre with three exhibits, the artist Marisol, the filmmaker Avery Arnault, and musical act Many Embers. By overcoming the Space Minotaur in a variety of minigames you can change the past of these three artists to completely change and hopefully improve their creations in the games present. The focus will be on the amount of times you can replay the game as each of the three categories will have three sub-categories which leads to many possible outcomes for the three artists creations. Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN offers their thoughts on this project here.
This may not end up being as much of a hit as Bioshock multiplayer did with the Fragging Frogs but there will likely be a few members who do end up picking it up. In the meantime BF4, ARMA2 and 3, UT2K4 and a wide variety of other games remain popular and more importantly, populated with players. Check out what they will be up to tonight!
"The Black Glove is a new project from a selection of the developers who worked on Bioshock, from the first game right up until Burial at Sea and the winding down of Irrational. It has instantly become one of the games I’m most looking forward to seeing more of, although that’s partly because there’s not quite enough on show right now."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Styx: Master Of Shadows Launches Trailer From Darkness @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare @ The Inquirer
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare @ The Inquirer
- Wot I Think: Alien – Isolation @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Latest Far Cry 4 trailer gives an in-depth look at game weaponry @ HEXUS
- Wot I Think Now I’ve Finished Shadow Of Mordor @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Space 4X M.O.R.E. Double Dips On Kickstarter @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Introduction and Design
A little over a year ago, we posted our review of the Lenovo Y500, which was a gaming notebook that leveraged not one, but two discrete video adapters (2 x NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M in SLI, to be exact) to achieve respectable gaming performance at a reasonable price point (around $1,200 at the time of the review).
Well—take away nearly a pound of weight (to 5.7 lbs), slim the case down to around an inch thick, update the chipset, and remove one video card, and you’ve got the Lenovo Y50 Touch, which ought to be able to improve upon the Y500 in nearly every area if the specifications add up to typical results. Here’s the full list of what our review unit includes:
While the GTX 860M (2 GB) is a far cry from, say, the GTX 880M (8 GB) we had the pleasure of testing in MSI’s GT70 2PE, it’s still a very capable card that should provide satisfactory results without breaking the bank (or the back). The rest of the spec sheet is conventional fare for a budget gaming notebook, with the only other surprise being the inclusion of a touchscreen—an option which replaces the traditional matte LCD panel in the standard Y50.
The configuration we received has already been slightly updated to include a CPU that’s a nudge better than the i7-4700HQ: the i7-4710HQ (which gains it 100 MHz in Turbo Boost clock rate). Otherwise, the specs are identical, and the street price is very close to that of the Y500 we originally reviewed: $1,139. Currently, an extra 10 bucks will also score you an external DVD+/-RW drive, and just 90 bucks more will boost your GTX 860M’s VRAM to 4 GB (from 2 GB) and your system RAM to 16 GB from 8 GB. That’s really not a bad deal at all.