Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 20, 2013 - 01:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox one, gaming, DRM, disc
Microsoft faced a major backlash from users following the unveiling of its latest Xbox One console. Users were rather unnerved at Microsoft’s reveal that the new console would be required to “phone home” at least once every 24 hours in order to authenticate games and allow sharing. Considering Sony carried forward the disc traditions of the PS3 combined with the user uproar, Microsoft has reconsidered and issued an update to users via a blog post titled (in part) “Your Feedback Matters.”
Amidst the uncertainty caused by various MS sources issuing statements about functionality and DRM that conflict with one another and an air of as-yet-un-announced secrecy pre-E3 where MS released just enough info about the DRM to get users scared (can you tell the way MS handled this irked me?), the company talked about the Xbox One moving forward and taking advantage of the ‘digital age.’ The new console would require online authentication (and daily check-ins), but would also allow sharing of your game library with up to 10 other people, re-downloadable games that can be installed on other consoles (and played) so long as you log into your Xbox Live account (the latter bit is similar in nature to Steam on the PC). Further, disc games could be resold or gifted if the publishers allow it.
That has changed now, however. Microsoft has reconsidered its position and is going back to the way things work(ed) on the existing Xbox 360. Instead of taking the logical approach of keeping with the plan but removing the daily authentication requirement for games if you keep the game disc in the tray, Microsoft has taken their
ball Xbox One controller and completely backtracked.
DRM on the Xbox One is now as follows, and these changes go in place of (not in addition to) the previously announced sharing and reselling functionalities.
For physical disc games:
According to Xbox Wire, after their initial setup and installation, disc-based games will not require an internet connection for offline functionality (though multiplayer components will, obviously, need an active connection). Even better, trading and reselling of disc-based games is no longer limited by publishers. Trading, selling, gifting, renting, et al of physical disc-based games "will work just as it does today on the Xbox 360." Microsoft is also not region locking physical games, which means that you will not have to worry about games purchased abroad working on your console at home.
In order to play disc-based games, you will need to keep the game disc in the tray, even if it is installed on the hard drive, however.
Changes to Downloaded games:
As far as downloadable games, Microsoft is restricting these titles such that they cannot be shared or resold. In the previous model, you would have been able to share the titles with your family, but not anymore. You will still be able to re-download the games.
There is no word on whether or not gamers will still lose access to all of the titles in their game library if their Xbox Live accounts are ever banned. It is likely that gamers will lose any downloadable games though as those are effectively tied to a single Xbox Live account.
While at first glance it may seem as though gamers won this round, in the end no one really won. Instead of Microsoft working around gamers concerns for physical media and moving forward together, it is as though Microsoft has thrown up its hands in frustration, and tossed out all of the innovative aspects for digital/downloadable titles along with the undesirable daily authentication and other invasive DRM measures that gamers clearly indicated they did not want.
I believe that Microsoft should have kept to the original game plan, but added an exception to the daily check-in rules so long as the console was able to authenticate the game offline by identifying a physical game disc in the tray. That way, gamers that are not comfortable with (or able to) keeping the Xbox One connected to the internet could continue to play games using discs while also allowing those with always-on Xbox One consoles the privileges of sharing their libraries. Doing so would have also helped ease the console gaming populance as a whole into Microsoft's ideal digital age once the next Xbox comes out. However, instead of simply toning down the changes, Microsoft has completely backtracked, and now no one wins. Sigh.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft's latest changes to the Xbox One? Was it the right move, or were you looking forward to increased freedom with your digitally-downloaded games?
- The PS4 and Xbox One Hardware Revealed, Console Makers Have Different Goals @ PC Perspective
- E3 2013: Microsoft can ban your Xbox One library @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 07:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: witcher 2, mod, gaming
The Witcher is a series which some gamers have completely missed, labeling it yet another 3rd person hack n' slash, Elder Scroll-ish game that hasn't got much going for it. However this impression is inaccurate, at least in part. While it is indeed a 3rd person game there is a much richer storyline behind the monsters, one which is a bit more adult themed than in similar games, with political manipulations and no real heroes to speak of, merely powerful characters doing what they think is best. The Enhanced Edition came out recently with graphical improvements that will cripple even current generation GPUs and is compatible with the many mods that have already been made. Later this month one of the developers will be finalizing and releasing a new Combat Rebalancing mod which will add even more improvements to the game, even though the Witcher 3 is due out soon and this version was originally released two years ago. If you are unfamiliar with the series you should drop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for details and consider picking up the game from Steam.
"A small leaflet on the news stand informs us that Andrzej ‘Flash’ Kwiatkowski, an ex-modder and now ‘Gameplay Designer’ at CD Projekt, has returned to modding in an effort to rebalance the combat in Witcher 2. The file size is currently 8 gigabytes, which is too many floppy disks to consider, but should be smaller by release. Which should be very soon."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gunpoint @ Kitguru
- Of Course Valve Are Working On Half-Life 3, Now Shush @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Shadowrun Returns Returning Next Month, Bringing Editor @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- GoG Summer Sale Begins, Torchlight Currently Free @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Nintendo’s first free-to-play title announced as Steel Diver @ HEXUS
- Microsoft Responds on Fake Xbox One E3 Demo Story @ NGOHQ
- Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen PlayStation 3 @ eTeknix
- The Last Of Us Review (Playstation 3) @ Kitguru
- Lobster, a New Game Programming Language, Now Available As Open Source @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2013 - 06:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: freespace, gaming, interplay
Interplay were the original owners of the Freespace IP and sold it off to THQ, who did absolutely nothing with it and apparently did not see any value in it as THQ just sold it back to Interplay for a mere $7500. This is not necessarily good news as Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN points out Interplay is not necessarily the healthiest company right now. So far there is no news about future releases nor really anything apart from the transfer of ownership, but at least we know Freespace is still somewhat alive.
"Yes, Interplay, the company who’s only slightly more existent than THQ at this point. The publisher sealed the deal with a cool-as-an-airless-vacuum sum of $7500, which is a disturbingly small amount of my total yearly rent. If I moved someplace else, I could own Freespace. Right now. I will carry this regret to my deathbed."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- No Force Can Prevent There Being A Warhammer 40K MMO @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Metro: Last Light Review @ OCC
- Metro: Last Light Review @ Techgage
- The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing @ Kitguru
- 10 E3 Trailers You Don't Want to Miss @ Wired
- Borderlands 2 Step By Step Modding Guide @ TechwareLabs
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 6, 2013 - 02:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: evga, minibox, mini-itx, gtx titan, gk110, gaming, computex, computex 2013
First shown off at CES 2013, the EVGA Minibox is a small form factor chassis for Mini-ITX systems that can accommodate large graphics cards. EVGA has managed to enable users to pack a lot of hardware into this tiny form factor chassis. As a demonstration of the case's capabilities, the company showed off the latest version using a full system build with Core i7-4770K and GTX TITAN interals at Computex this week in Taipei.
The Minibox chassis itself is a dark brushed metal case with two USB 3.0 ports on the front IO and space for a slot loading optical drive. The MiniBox chassis further features a motherboard tray that supports Mini-ITX boards, two 2.5" SATA hard drive bays – and best of all – enough room to install full size GPUs. In order to support lengthy graphics cards, EVGA is including a small form factor 500W power supply that is mounted on the floor of the case..
HEXUS reporters spot the EVGA Minibox at Computex 2013. Look how small it is!
There will be at least two SKUs of the Minibox, depending on whether you want to go with air or water cooling. According to Bit-Tech.net, the air cooled version will use two 92mm fans in the top of the case and one 80mm fan for the bottom-mounted PSU. The water cooled SKU will be slightly larger but have enough room for a water cooling radiator (likely 240mm). Beyond that, details are scarce, but the air cooled version is said to be available as soon as next month with water cooled options becoming available later this year.
The Minibox looks to be one of the better Mini-ITX cases out there (although the price is still unknown), and should be popular among enthusiasts wanting a small box that does not sacrifice gaming potential.
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2013 - 07:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Alpha, Prison Architect
The makers of DEFCON have come up with another very original game idea which they are currently developing and which is available in an alpha version on Steam. Prison Architect is a game which is exactly as it's name implies, you attempt to run a prison and keep the guards safe and the prisoners controlled. This is not about abusing prisoners but instead is an exploration into the dynamics of the prison system and how difficult it can be to run a safe prison. As an example of how the prisoners work the designers revealed to TechSpot that "50% of prisoners plead innocent to their crimes, and about 5% of all prisoners are actually innocent" which has an effect on their behaviour. Check out the interview to see if you might be interested in trying out the alpha.
"Prison Architect is like 'SimPrison', if there ever was one, made by people who seem to be damn near fearless about making video games about uncomfortable topics. The game is from the indie studio Introversion, who have also made the saddest/best game about nuclear war.
Here's a brief interview with Introversion's own architects about their newest work. They served up some fascinating answers about the possibilities of a game about building and running a prison."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Mirror’s Edge 2 Is Probably A Thing Again @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- A Slash From The Past: Shadow Warrior Free On Steam @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Microsoft and 343 Industries announce Halo: Spartan Assault @ The Inquirer
- AMD Aiming To Smooth Ports Between PC And Console @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2013 - 08:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z87, ROG, Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, Intel, haswell, gaming, g30, crosschill, computex 2013, computex, asus
During an ASUS ROG press conference at Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan, ASUS launched a number of new bits of hardware aimed at PC gamers and overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to the mini ITX Maximus VI Impact launch, ASUS showed off the ASUS Maximus VI Formula motherboard, OC Panel accessory, and ROG G30 desktop. The available details on each piece of hardware is as follows:
ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard
While ASUS hinted at several of its Z87 motherboards last month by allowing us to post teaser photos ahead of the launch, until today enthusiasts have not seen the latest "Formula" motherboard. However, now that the board is official, you can see the new Z87 motherboard in high resolution photos below!
The board comes in red and black colors, and surprisingly, comes equipped with ASUS' thermal armor accessory which includes a plastic shroud for the front of the motherboard and a SECC back-plate with thermal pads to aid in cooling and supporting the motherboard (even with heavy CPU HSFs). In addition to the thermal armor, the board has finned heatsinks on the PCH and VRM hardware. The VRM heatsink in particular uses the company's CrossChill technology which allows user to integrate the VRM heatsink into their water cooling loop or leave it as air-cooled. The board also features a diagnostic display and start/reset buttons.
The ASUS Maximus VI Formula features a LGA 1150 CPU socket, four dual channel DDR3 DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a total of 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports.
The rear IO panel includes a mPCI-E Combo II card that supports 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios along with a M.2 NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) SSD slot at the top. Other IO includes:
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports (one used for BIOS flashing)
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
- 1 x S/PDIF connector
- 1 x RJ45 Gigabit LAN
- 6 x analog audio jacks
Overclocking technology includes ASUS' Extreme Engine DIGI+ III power delivery that incorporates 60A BlackWing chokes, (90% efficient) NexFET MOSFETs, and 10K Black Metallic capacitors.
Finally, ASUS has also added a SupremeFX chipset for quality onboard audio. This audio chip is capable of 120dB SNR, a headphone amplifier for 600 ohm cans, EMI shielding, and quality OpAMPs.
ASUS OC Panel Overclocking Accessory
The ASUS OC Panel is a hardware accessory for the company's ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard. It allows you to adjust the BCLK and other settings related to overclocking your processor in real time. It also provides CPU temperature feedback on the top of the LED display.
According to the press release, overclockers Andre Yang and Shamino managed to push a system with a Maximus VI Extreme motherboard, 32GB RAM, and a Core-i7 Haswell processor to 7GHz CPU and 4200MHz clockspeed using liquid nitrogen cooling. It looks like a cool accessory that will allow you to easily adjust the overclocking settings without rebooting into the UEFI BIOS. Pricing and availability have not been announced, but expect it soon.
ASUS ROG G30 Gaming Desktop
The ROG TYTAN G30 desktop PC features a stylized case with red LEDs and a front door with ROG and ASUS logos. Internals include an Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" processor and a NVIDIA GTX 780 graphics card. Even better, ASUS is using liquid cooling for the CPU, and offers a 1-button overclock of all four CPU cores to 4.1GHz. The PC also integrates ASUS' SonicMaster and AudioWizard technology which reportedly enhances in-game audio.
Again, pricing and availability for the haswell gaming PC are still unknown.
What do you think of ASUS' recent ROG product announcements? Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2013 news throughout the week!
- ASUS Maximus VI Impact ROG Mini-ITX Motherboard @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Z87 Motherboard Lineup Preview @ PC Perspective
- ASUS "We Transform" Press Conference: Mobile devices, tablets, VivoPC, and more! @ PC Perspective
- ASUS VivoPC and VivoMouse Details @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Working On GTX 770 Poseidon With Hybrid Air/Water Cooler @ PC Perspective
- ASUS G750 Gaming Notebook With Haswell and GTX 700M Hardware @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2013 - 03:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: livestream, gaming, computex 2013, asus
ASUS will be kicking off Computex 2013 with a livestream where the company will likely announce new products. The theme for the event is "We transform". The press conference will be held at 38 Songren Road Xinyi District, Taipei, 101 Taiwan, but for those not in attendance the livestream is in approximately 3 hours and allow enthusaists and press to cover the event from afar.
If you are a 'night owl,' insomniac, or just plain excited about new ASUS gear feel free to tune into the livestream at this link (or via the embedded stream below the break) and discuss any announcements in the comments below!
The livestream and press conference starts at 3:00am ET (3:00pm local Computex time).
I am expecting to see some new motherboards, graphics cards, and PCs from ASUS to complement the launch of Intel and NVIDIA's new CPU and GPU components. Perhaps we will finally see the launch of the rumored RAIDR PCI-E SSDs. It should make for a good show, so tune in if you can!
While you are waiting for the live stream to start, feel fee to check out Morry's review of the ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Motherboard, a new Z87 motherboard!
Subject: Systems, Mobile | June 2, 2013 - 11:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quadro k1000m, origin pc, nvidia, kepler, Intel, haswell, gtx 700M, gaming, eon17-s, eon15-s
Origin PC has announced that it will be integrating Haswell CPUs and GTX700M GPUs into its line of gaming notebooks and desktops. Specifically, Origin PC will add Haswell CPUs to its Genesis, Millennium, and Chronos desktop PCs. Origin PC is also outfitting its EON gaming laptops with both Haswell CPU and GTX700M GPU upgrades. And to sweeten the pot (if only slightly), Origin is bundling a voucher for Grid 2 with each Haswell-equipped Origin PC order.
Both the EON15-S and EON17-S gaming laptops feature Intel Haswell processors, NVIDIA GTX700M or Quadro K1000M mobile graphics cards, and up to five storage drives when the optical drive is removed. The laptops are even able to have an independent RAID of two mSATA SSDs and two hard drives or SSDs along with a non-RAID storage drive in the optical bay—that's a lot of storage for a laptop!
The laptops come with customizable display lids available in red, black, silver, or a custom air brush as well as back-lit keyboards and touchpads. As the SKU names suggest, the EON15-S has a 15.6” display while the EON17-S has a 13.3” display. Origin PC is further offering factory overclocking for the Haswell processors and GTX700M graphics cards. The company claims up to a 20-times power reduction during idle thanks to the more power-efficient hardware.
Unfortunately, all this new tech comes at a premium, and the EON15-S and EON17-S gaming notebooks start at $1,722 and $1,784 respectively. As far as the desktops go, there is also a slight bump in price depending on the Haswell chip you select during the customization process. Upgrading to an Intel Core i7-4770K on the GENESIS desktop costs an extra $193, for example.
You can find more information on the Origin PC website.
Not to be left out, GPU partner Zotac has announced its own set of graphics cards based on NVIDIA's GK-104 GTX 770 GPU called the GTX 770 and GTX 770 AMP! Edition. Both cards come with Zotac's custom dual fan cooler and have some impressive factory overclocks. In fact, the GTX 770 AMP! Edition is the fastest factory clocked GTX 770 so far, and is the only card to feature overclocked memory.
The Zotac Geforce GTX 770 features a GPU base clock of 1059 MHz and a GPU boost clock of 1098 MHz. It will be available with either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 memory. In either memory configuration, Zotac is keeping the GDDR5 at the stock clockspeed of 7010 MHz.
Meanwhile, the GTX 770 AMP! Edition has GPU clockspeeds of 1150 MHz base and an impressive 1202 MHz boost. However, the GTX 770 AMP! does not only feature an overclocked GPU, but overclocked memory at 7200 MHz.
The chart below compares the two Zotac graphics cards.
|Zotac GTX 770||Zotac GTX 770 AMP! Edition|
|GPU Base||1059 MHz||1150 MHz|
|GPU Boost||1098 MHz||1202 MHz|
|Memory||2GB or 4GB||2GB|
|Memory Clock||7010 MHz||7200 MHz|
Both of the Zotac graphics cards also come with a Splinter Cell game bundle that includes three (digital download) games:
- Splinter Cell: Double Agent
- Splinter Cell: Conviction
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist (will be release later this summer)
As far as pricing and availability, the GTX 770 (ZT-70301-10P) is on sale now at Newegg for $400, but the 4GB GTX 770 and GTX 770 AMP! have not yet been released by the looks of it, and Zotac has not announced official pricing or ship dates yet. More information can be found here. The AMP! Edition has some impressive factory overclocks, and the benchmarks should be interesting.
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 06:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, metro last light
Metro 2033 quickly gained a reputation as a game which can take everything a modern GPU could throw at it and still want more. Now we have not only a new generation of Metro but also some new hardware to test it with, namely the TITAN and the GTX 780 which are now in [H]ard|OCP's test bed. They tried out the new game at 2560 x 1600 with high tessellation enabled and found the TITAN to be the overall winner thanks to its ability to support PhysX at these high settings, with the GTX 780 a very close second and perhaps a better choice for those not planning on using PhysX. Their testing also backs up the developers statement that in order to enable SSAA you will need a second GPU.
"Today we look at 4A Games Metro: Last Light. Running the 4A Engine it supports modern DX11 effects including tessellation, and NVIDIA PhysX, providing realistic simulations of particles, water, cloth and fog. We'll evaluate this game using today's latest video cards including GTX TITAN and GTX 780, for a total of eight video cards."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Metro: Last Light @ LanOC Reviews
- Metro: Last Light PC @ Tweaktown
- Metro: Last Light Performance, Benchmarked @ TechSpot
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review @ OCC
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon @ Tweaktown
- Defiance Review: Resistance is Not Futile @ Techgage
- Wot I Think: GRID 2 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Endless Space Now Even More Endless Than Before @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN