Introduction, LAN Fest, Game Demos, Future of Gaming panel
Check out our video coverage of the SXSW Screenburn Arcade!
The 19th Annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival kicked off on Mar. 9 and wraps up Mar. 12 in Austin, Texas. While most of the event featured interactive workshops and panels of experts from within the web development and social media communities, I focused most of my efforts covering the SXSW Screenburn Arcade at the Palmer Event Center. This is where most of the PC and console gaming enthusiasts attending SXSW converged to watch pro gamers from the IGN Pro League battle in League of Legends, Starcraft II, and check out several game demos like Lollipop Chainsaw for the XBox 360 and Quantum Conundrum and FireFall for the PC.
Intel LAN Fest
I also had the opportunity to visit the Intel-sponsored, non-profit LANFest where event visitors could jump on one of their Alienware systems and play a variety of PC games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Team Fortress 2, MineCraft, Half Life 2 Death Match, WArsaw, Alien Swarm, Portal, World of Tanks, and Left 4 Dead 2 . LAN participants paid a $5 donation to play, which helped raise funds that will be sent to the city of Bastrop, Texas that lost more than 400 homes because of wildfires last September. They also raffled off a new ASUS Ultrabook to raise money for the United Way non-profit organization.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 8, 2012 - 03:41 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, graphics card, gpu, GK104, gaming, 28nm
GDC 2012 is upon us, and in addition to the Samaritan demo and some gaming goodness, we spotted a leaked image over at Legit Reviews that is allegedly a photo of a production NVIDIA GTX 670 Ti graphics card.
The cooler looks to cover the whole PCB and be of the blower design, funneling hot air of the of the front of the card and out of the case. The connectors include two DVI, one HDMI, and one Display Port. Rumors suggest that the latest NVIDIA cards will be capable of multi-display (>2) from a single card much like AMD cards have been doing for some time.
Not a whole lot is known about the upcoming GK104 "Kepler" GPUs with a good deal of certainty, but we have reported on a few leaks including that the cards will have 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM on a 256 bit memory bus, and that the cards may just be coming out in May. Due to Epic using a working Kepler GPU in their Samaritan demo, that launch date does not sound too far fetched either. On the performance front, there are conflicting rumors; some rumors state that the cards will blow AMD out of the water and other people swear the cards will not be as powerful as the rumors suggest. I suppose we'll find out soon though!
Are you still waiting for NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs or have you jumped on the latest Radeon series?
Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2012 - 01:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sales, record, pcga, PC, gaming
In two surprising bits of news, the PC gaming alliance is not only still alive and kicking, but their recent report indicates that the PC games industry saw record sales numbers in 2011. The consortium reported that worldwide PC game sales hit $18.6 billion last year, a year over year increased of 15%. The initial numbers definitely seem to suggest that PC gaming is nowhere near dead.
The PCGA states that the rise in sales is due to increases in the Chinese PC games market and the rise in popularity of Free-to-Play games like TF2, Star Trek: Online, League of Legends, and World of Warcraft (which has a free component), and many others. The integration of some of the most popular Free to Play games into Valve's Steam store certainly didn't hurt either!
Further, the release of several big hit titles including Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Saints Row: The Third, and Portal 2, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (my pick for PC Per Game of the Year) all contributed to the record sales numbers on the PC. According to the article, Asian publisher Tencent launched League of Legends and is now bringing in 11 million players (though it's likely that not all of those players are active and/or spend money on the service) and will be surpassing Activision as the company making the most money off of PC games. Zynga, the company behind many of the
annoying time sinks popular Facebook games, continued to rake in a boatload of money with 2011 revenue of $1.1 billion.
Not only did the PC gaming alliance report these positive numbers for 2011, but they predict that the PC games industry will continue to grow. As digital distribution systems catch on and broadband connections continue to improve and spread into new areas (though Verizon and AT&T aren't helping matters by stopping further roll outs of FIOS and Uverse), the PCGA predicts that the industry will grow to $25.5 billion, which would be a 37% rise in four years. If the growth rate continues in Asian markets and publishers continue to back down from DRM in favor of producing more titles that people want to buy, their predicted growth is certainly achievable. More information on the PCGA report can be found here along with the full press release here(PDF).
Subject: General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 09:53 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: gaming, business, blizzard
Blizzard recently announced that they analyzed their current business needs and have decided to perform a global reduction of their workforce to streamline operations. The bad news upfront is that this reduction in workforce entails the company letting go approximately 600 employees worldwide. They have stated that the majority of departments being cut are not related to the game development divisions
More specifically, they stated that 90% of the employee reductions will be from departments not related to game development. Also, they noted that the World of Warcraft (WoW) development team "will not be impacted." Blizzard believes that the cuts were a necessary part of decisions relating to a company with changing needs in an ever evolving industry. CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime, stated that they are proud of the contributions those effected by the announcement have made for Blizzard and they "wish them well as they move forward."
Job cuts are never an easy decision, especially for the employees. I wish them all the best of luck in continuing their careers and other future endeavors.
Subject: General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 12:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ea, gaming, syndicate, co-op
If Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN makes allusions to a My Little Pony game being more like Syndicate than the new FPS version recently released then you know there is a problem. The single player has changed from a top down view of a living city in which you go about nefariously manipulating circumstances to put your Syndicate at the top of the pile you are now a grunt running and gunning and fighting boss battles. The review was not entirely negative once they tried the co-op mode which allows up to four friends to take on the AI on maps which are won by fulfilling mission objectives as well as slaughtering your opponents. Bonus points for basing these maps on themes recognizable from the original versions of the game.
"They’re not entirely wrong, though it depends on the My Little Pony game. If it was squad-based game set in large, civilian-packed environments and documented a turf war between Ponies (presumably fought by throwing berries at each other or offering stern lessons on treating people nicely), it would certainly be a lot more like Syndicate than a first-person shooter with gigantic guns, infuriating boss fights, an underbaked psychic-hacking mechanic and a plot cobbled unegagingly together from over-familiar bits of The Bourne Identity, The Matrix, Robocop and Half-Life 2."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Diablo III: 20 Minutes of Game Play @ [H]ard|OCP
- Syndicate (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Syndicate @ Kitguru
- The Darkness II @ HardwareHeaven
- Darkness II @ Kitguru
- Bridge Constructor PC Review @ eTeknix
- Waving A Flag For Turn-Based Combat: The Banner Saga @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Die Nasty: Bigpoint’s A Game Of Thrones MMO @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Cloud Gaming: Microsoft Flight Is Out Today, Free @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- My first few hours with the PlayStation Vita
- FIFA Football (PS Vita) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- SEGA Virtua Tennis 4 World Tour Edition (PS Vita) Review @ HardwareHeave
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss (U:GA) PlayStation Vita @ Tweaktown
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (PS Vita) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
Introduction, Design, User Interface
Gaming. Laptop. Portable. These may well be the three most contradictory words in the PC industry. It’s been possible to game on laptops for years, but making a high-quality gaming experience portable is a goal rarely achieved.
Alienware made a stab at resolving the contradiction in 2010 when it released the M11x, but the result was questionable. No one can argue that the M11x isn’t portable, but its gaming performance is no better than a 15.6” laptop with mid-range discrete graphics. There simply isn’t enough room in the chassis to cool a larger, more powerful GPU. Worse, the M11x is simply too small for most people to use every day.
Enter the Alienware M14x. The larger display size of this laptop makes it possible to equip a more powerful GPU as well as a full-power Core i5 processor rather than a low-voltage model. Let’s look at the full specifications.
We can already see that the M14x will easily outperform its smaller cousin. The better hardware increases price as well as size, however – the base is $1099 and our review unit, featuring upgrades like a quad-core processor and 1600x900 resolution, rings in at $1274.
Subject: Mobile | February 28, 2012 - 03:43 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, MWC, mobile world congress, gaming
Nvidia has always been happy to show off the gaming capabilities of Tegra 2 and Tegra 3. No surprise there – the company’s roots are in PC graphics, which goes hand-in-hand with PC games. When we reviewed the Transformer Prime there were several beautiful pre-installed games, such as Shadowgun, that showed off the hardware. Now Nvidia has come up with not one but five more new titles to brag about at Mobile World Congress – including a new Sonic the Hedgehog game.
Let’s have a look at them.
Dark Kingdom THD
This is a role-playing game built in the vein of games like Diablo and Torchlight. The visuals are impressive and a game like this should control well on a tablet, so this could prove to be an excellent title. I do wish the graphics offered more variety, however – they look a bit dark and dreary to me.
Eden to GREEEEN THD
Hey, are you tired of tower defense games yet? I hope not, because that’s what Eden to GREEEEN is, albeit it one that has somewhat less restrictive mechanics than most titles in the genre. Of the games that Nvidia showed at Mobile World Congress this is easily the least attractive, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to play.
Golden Arrow THD
This is a hack-and-slash title that apparently will be including a lot of lens flare and explosions. I’m not sure that sounds appealing, but if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it. There’s no video available for this title right now, so we don’t have a lot to go on.
Hamilton’s Great Adventure THD
This game, which is already available on other platforms (you can even pick it up on Steam), is a puzzle game that asks players to navigate hazardous terrain on their quest to collect treasure and do over adventure-y things. The versions of this game that have come out for other platforms have received a fair amount of praise, so Nvidia is wise to be bragging about adding this to its stable.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II
Nvidia has been bragging about Tegra 3’s console-quality graphics, so why not poach one of console gaming’s most popular franchises? Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II looks to be a straight port of the version that will be available on game consoles, which means platforming at light speed with excellent 3D graphics. I sincerely hope that the controls are solid, because if so, this could be one of the best games on any tablet.
Availability for the titles shown by Nvidia is generally vague, but can be summed up as vaguely “spring.” The Sonic game, for example, will be coming out for Xbox 360 on May 16, so the tablet version will probably release sometime close to that date.
Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 05:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, serious sam 3 bfe
If you are a fan of old style shooters which involve nothing more complicated than killing everything that moves then you will probably enjoy this post over at The Tech Report. It covers the new Serious Sam 3:BFE and all of its explosive joys. One of the more attractive new features is the expanded co-op mode with up to 16 people able to coordinate their firepower against hordes of beasties. Check out the 'big, stupid fun' and see if this is the game you need to help you blow off steam.
"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior gets sucked into Serious Sam 3: BFE, a retro shooter that puts a coat of fresh paint on a franchise famous for over-the-top FPS combat."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gotham City Imposters (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- HTML 5 Gaming: Classic and Modern Titles You Can Play for Free Today @ TechSpot
- Guild Wars 2 Opens Beta Sign-Ups For 48 Hours @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Swoop In The Tribes: Ascend Beta This Friday @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- The Vita game guide: impressions of 14 launch titles @ Ars Technica
- I play LoL; What should I know about Dota 2? @ LanOC Reviews
- Super Meat Boy Review @ eTeknix
- Gotham City Imposters Game @ HardwareHeaven
- Asura's Wrath (XBOX 360) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2012 - 02:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, mass effect 3, gaming, game, ea, bf3, battlefield 3
Update: Apparently EA has decided to pull the deal because it was too good of an idea :(.
The final installment in the Mass Effect trilogy is almost upon us, and for those itching to get a taste of Mass Effect 3 can now go and download the Mass Effect 3 demo for the PC via EA's Origin service. The demo delivers about an hour (they claim two hours, but I finished it in about an hour and I was purposefully taking it slow to take in the scenery and such) of Shephard battling against a (spoilers ahead) Reaper invasion.
Personally, from playing the demo I'm not convinced that it is going to live up to the hype, and it seems to be rather "dumbed down" compared to the first one. With that said, it was not terrible and I will likely pick it up if only to finish out the story. The story itself hits hard in the demo and I am excited for that aspect of the Mass Effect sequel, for example. If you have not already done so, check out the demo that's out now.
Anyway, if you do enjoy the demo and are getting pumped for the release this March, EA is currently running a rather good deal on Origin for those willing to Pre-Order Mass Effect 3 from the Origin store. According to EA, users who place a pre-order for Mass Effect 3 through the Origin store for any platform (including digital download, boxed PC copy, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3) before March 5, 2012 will receive a free digital PC edition of Battlefield 3 for free. The codes for BF3 will be emailed to customers when they become available.
As always, there are some caveats:
- The offer is only valid for those in US and Canada.
- You must pre-order through Origin and cannot be combined with any other discounts.
- You are not eligible for the free copy if you already own Battlefield 3 on Origin.
- The Battlefield 3 codes will be emailed no later than March 8, 2012.
That last one is a big one (for me anyway). Considering Battlefield 3 is already released, why can't those that pre-order ME3 get instant access to it? I was all for the deal at first as I have not yet purchased BF3 and if I could get it for free by pre-ordering a game I was likely to buy anyway it sounded like a sweet deal. Unfortunately, not being able to jump into BF3 to hold me over until Mass Effect 3 launched makes it less awesome. After all, once Mass Effect 3 releases, I'm not going to want to play Battlefield 3 anymore! Considering Battlefield 3 will likely still be approximately $60 on Origin in a few months, getting it free is still a good deal, but it's less of a impulse purchase knowing I might not get the Battlefield 3 code until after I have Mass Effect 3 downloaded.
It's there if you want it though, so go download the Mass Effect 3 demo and let us know what you think of it!
Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2012 - 03:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, far cry, far cry 3, ubisoft
If you follow the information from the just released official trailer of Far Cry 3 then the date you await is the 7th of September. The leaked trailer which arrived 5 hours ago stated a date of the 6th, which was almost the only difference between the two releases. Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has both the trailers if you want to take a peek.
"This is the ‘official’ version of the Far Cry 3 trailer, which is almost exactly the same as the one that leaked earlier on today. I actually felt bad about linking to that one, but we’re all about disclosure here at RPS: whether you’re Ubisoft or John Walker, we’ll get to the heart of the story, no matter what. So, tell us Ubisoft: why did the leaked trailer have a Sept 6 release date when this one says Sept the 7th?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Bastion PC Review @ eTeknix
- Skyrim High Resolution Texture Pack Comparison @ NGOHQ
- Unreal Engine 4 will "shock" gamers, says Epic @ HEXUS
- STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! MechWarrior Tactics Sign-Ups @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- A new standard in design: in-depth with the PlayStation Vita @ Ars Technica
- Console Gaming - What to expect in 2012 @ eTeknix
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 Xbox 360 @ Tweaktown
- UFC Undisputed 3 (XBOX 360) Review @ HardwareHeaven