You can't keep a good Syndicate down

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2013 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: syndicate, Satellite Reign, Mike Diskett, Kickstarter, kick ass, gaming

Syndicate and to an extent the sequel Syndicate Wars, have a golden reputation among gamers, some of whom were not old enough to have played it when it was originally released but ended up playing it on an emulator.  In these games you tried to take over the city using whatever methods you could, from the agents you controlled to the persuadatron along with a good overall strategy.  Mike Diskett, who originally designed these games is now back with a new twist, in Satellite Reign you are trying to take down the Syndicates, though the interview does hint that you might have a chance to rule the city if you don't bother to recruit citizens to your cause and only use them as meat shields.  Check out the interview at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN which dives deep into the world, the trailer is below but what you should do is head to Kickstarter and help make this game incredible.

... oh, and change your Ubisoft password.

"Satellite Reign is a new open world cyberpunk city RTS from the lead progammer of Syndicate Wars, yes, but it also another chance for man who has been embittered by the worst aspects of our industry’s commercial ferocity. In picking up a gauntlet forged in the 1990s, he found the grit to fight back. Help him. Do it now."

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Gaming

Cooler Master Launches CM Storm QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2013 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: quickfire xt, mechanical keyboard, gaming, cooler master, cherry mx red, cherry mx green, cherry mx brown, cherry mx blue

Cooler Master has launched its new CM Storm QuickFire XT mechanical keyboard that joins the existing QuickFire Rapid under the company's CM Storm branding.

The QuickFire XT is a full-sized 104-key mechanical desktop keyboard measuring 17.3" x 5.2" x 1.1" (440 x 132 x 29mm) and weighs 2.43 lbs. The keyboard features a slim design with a matte black finish. More importantly, the keyboard uses Cherry MX switches with laser-etched key caps and an embedded steel plate in the keyboard body for added durability.

Cooler Master QuickFire Storm XT Mechanical Keyboard.jpg

Cooler Master bundles six alternative key caps, a key removal tool, and a detachable USB cable with the QuckFire XT.

Other features of the QuickFire XT include NKRO (N-Key Roll Over) in PS/2 mode as well as 1ms rated response times when used in USB mode. Media functions are handled by the dual-function, well, function keys, and the Windows key can be disabled when in "GAME mode."

Cooler Master QuickFire Storm XT Mechanical Keyboard Close Up.jpg

The mechanical keyboard uses Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Green, or Red keys. It appears as though only the Blue and Red switches are available right now, however. The following chart details the switch options and corresponding Cooler Master model numbers.

Cherry MX Switches Used Storm QuckFire XT Keyboard Model Number
Cherry MX Blue SGK-4030-GKCL1-US
Cherry MX Brown SGK-4030-GKCM1-US
Cherry MX Green SGK-4030-GKCG1-US
Cherry MX Red SGK-4030-GKCR1-US

The Cooler Master Storm QuickFire XT mechanical keyboard comes with a 2 year warranty and is available now with a MSRP of $89.99. More information can be found on this Cooler Master product page.

Also read: CMStorm QuickFire Rapid Review: Everything You Need

DirectX 11.2 Will Be Exclusive To Windows 8.1 and Xbox One

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2013 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, Windows 8.1, tiled resources, microsoft, gaming, directx 11.2, DirectX

The release of a Direct X 12 API may still be uncertain, but that has not stopped Microsoft from building upon the existing DX 11 API. Specifically, Microsoft has announced an update in the form of DirectX 11.2, which makes some back-end tweaks and adds some new gaming-related features.

First shown off at BUILD last month, Antoine Leblond demonstrated Direct X 11.2, and one of the API's major features: tiled resources. He did not go into specifics, and Microsoft has not yet released documentation on DX 11.2, but during the presentation Leblond described tiled resources as a mechanism for supporting very high resolution texutres by allowing the game engine to use both dedicated graphics memory and system memory to store and read texture data. The demo reportedly featured 9GBs of texture data, which was shared between GDDR5 and DDR3 memory.

Microsoft DirectX Logo.jpg

I am not certain on exactly how this "tiled resource" technology differs from what current games and hardware is already capable of, where the graphics card can use some amount of system RAM for its own purposes when it has data that cannot be stored in the limited GDDR5 space. Perhaps Microsoft has found a way to make the swapping process more efficient, or it could be a completely new way of enabling shared memory that would support HUMA/HSA-like strategies behind the DX abstraction layer to make it easier for game developers. This is all speculation, however.

The other major takeaway from the announcement is that the new DirectX 11.2 API will be exclusive to Windows 8.1 PCs and the company's Xbox One gaming console. It is suprising that Windows 8 is not included, but seeing as Windows 8.1 will be a free update it is not that big of a deal. Windows 7 users are not likely to be pleased with Microsoft witholding it as an incentive to get gamers to upgrade to its latest operating system. Hopefully some good will still come out of the exclusivity in the form of better ported games. Because the Xbox One supports DX 11.2, I'm hopeful that it will encourage game developers to take advantage of the latest technology and support it on the PC version as well when they do the port of the game.

Source: Bit-Tech.net

A Humble Bundle for those on the go

Subject: Mobile | June 28, 2013 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, humble bundle

If you are unaware of the Humble Bundle then you have really let yourself down as a gamer, while you won't find AAA titles in the bundles you will find a wide variety of quality games at a price you get to choose.  The latest bundle that was assembled comes with support for a new platform to the bundle, Android 6.  Overclockers Club are not totally in love with the games offered in this bundle but with the extra games available for those tossing in about $5.00 or more you still get a great value and support charity as well.  Check out their overview of the bundle, or just head straight to the Bundle page and pick up a selection of cross-platform games.

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"Overall the Humble Bundle with Android 6 is not the strongest bundle we have seen, but certainly has its strengths. It is hard to see why you would not want to get at least the base games, while the two BTA titles may only be worth the few dollars more to a smaller group of you. No matter how you look at it though, the bundle is a great deal and even if it had only one strong title, it would be a great deal. If additional BTA titles are added at the halfway point, as typically happens, the bundle will only get better."

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Gigabyte Launches GTX 760 OC Edition Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 26, 2013 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: windforce 3x, triangle cooling, gtx 760, gk-104, gigabyte, gaming

Not to be left out, Gigabyte is also releasing its own take on the GTX 760 Kepler GPU. This new GTX 760 Overclock Edition uses the company’s WindForce 3X cooler with “Triangle Cooling” technology. The card is model GV-N760OC-2GD and is available now from various retailers for around $260.

Gigabyte GTX 760 OC Edition.jpg

The GTX 760 OC Edition card has a GTX 760 GPU with a base clock of 1085 MHz and boost clock of 1150 MHz. Unfortunately, memory (2GB GDDR5) remains the same as stock cards at 6008 MHz. 

The factory overclock on the GPU is among the highest options, but is not the highest clocked GTX 760 card. The reference card is clocked at 6008 MHz for the memory and a GPU base and boost clockspeed of 980 MHz and 1033 MHz respectively. The card supports the company’s OC Guru II overclocking utility as well, for adventurous enthusiasts wishing to see just how far they can push their particular cards on air cooling.

Gigabyte GTX 760 WindForce 3X Graphics Card.jpg

Gigabyte is using its WindForce 3X cooler for this overclocked model. The cooler features three angled fans and a custom fin stack with direct contact copper heat pipes to effectively transfer heat away from the GPU. Gigabyte uses two 8mm and four 6mm heatpipes to get heat into the fin array.

The Gigabyte GV-N760OC-2GD GTX 760 Overclock Edition is available now for $259.99.

Source: Gigabyte

MSI Launches Factory Overclocked N760 TF 2GD5 GTX 760 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 26, 2013 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC, msi, gtx 760, gk-104, gaming

MSI is joining the GTX 760 fray with its own version of NVIDIA's latest 700-series graphics cards called the N760 TF 2GD5/OC GTX 760. This midrange gaming card pairs an overclocked GTX 760 GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and the company's Twin Frozr IV cooler.

Specifcations include a GTX 760 with base clock of 1085 MHz and a boost clock of 1150 MHz. It further has 2GB of GDDR5 memory, but it does not come factory overclocked (6008 MHz stock).

MSI GTX 760 Twin Frozr.png

The cooler on the MSI GTX 760 is the Twin Frozr IV which features two 100mm fans, an aluminum heatsink with heapipes connecting the fin stack to the GPU base plate. The fans use MSI's "propeller blade" technology to increase airflow.

The N760 TF 2GD5/OC is not the fastest factory overclocked card, but it should be among the quietest with its two large fans that can spin at lower RPMs while still providing good cooling performance. It also opens up doors to users overclocking beyond the factory overclocked speeds, depending on the particular chip they get.

It is available now for $259.99 at various online retailers, including Newegg.

Also read: PC Perspective's full review of the $250 NVIDIA Kepler-based GTX 760 GPU.

Source: MSI

Remember when story was more important than having an open world? Remember Me and Pepperidge Farms do.

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2013 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: remember me, gaming

There is no question that Remember Me will take some flack for not giving player the chance to spend hours running aimlessly through the city of Neo-Paris, stopping for baguettes and coffee at every cafe or rooting through every cupboard and pantry in every house.  Sandbox games are huge now but they often lead to players missing chunks of the storyline because they happened to miss that one left turn off of a tiny alley.  Linear, story driven titles ensure that the only reason you miss out on plot points is because you weren't paying attention to the character expositions on screen and they are also much more able to allow your choices to impact the storyline.  From the review Overclockers Club put together about Remember Me, it sounds like this game is a great example of that type of game. 

remember_me_06.jpg

"Remember Me takes place in a futuristic version of Paris called Neo-Paris. The year is 2084 and mega-corporation Memorize has invented a new brain implant called the Sensation Engine, or Sensen for short. Using Sensen, people are able to upload and share memories – imagine if you fed your exact memories directly to your favorite social media sites. Apparently, the vast majority of the population in Remember Me actually thought this was a good thing, with 99% electing to do so."

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Zotac GTX 760 AMP! Edition Is The Fastest-Clocked GTX 760 So Far

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 26, 2013 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: zotac, gaming, AMP!, gtx 760

Zotac recently announced a new GTX 760 AMP! Edition graphics card, and it is the fastest factory overclocked GTX 760 announced so far.

Specifically, Zotac has taken NVIDIA’s GK-104 “Kepler”-based GTX 760 GPU and overclocked it to 1111 MHz base and 1176 MHz boost. The company has also managed to overclock the 2GB GDDR5 memory to 6208 MHz. This is impressive for any overclock, much less a factory overclock! For comparison, the reference design features 6008 MHz memory and a GPU with base and boost clockspeeds of 980 MHz and 1033 MHz respectively.

Zotac GTX 760.png

Additionally, the Zotac AMP! Edition features the company’s signature orange and black themed dual fan HSF. The cooler uses a custom aluminum fin stack and heat pipe combination that is further cooled by two 75mm fans.

I’m anxious to see how well it performs in reviews, and if there is any more headroom left in the GTX 760 GPU for further overclocking. Zotac has not yet released pricing information for this card, however.

Source: Zotac

Gainward Releases Factory Overclocked GTX 760 Phantom With Custom Cooler

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 26, 2013 - 01:04 AM |
Tagged: phantom, gtx 760, gk-104, gaming, gainward

In addition to the monstrous GTX 780 Phantom GLH, Gainward is releasing a new Phantom graphics card based on NVIDIA’s new GTX 760 GPU.

This new Gainward GTX 760 Phantom graphics card shares many of the same features as its larger GTX 780-based sibling, just with lower specifications and pricing. The GTX 760 itself features 1,152 CUDA cores and a respectable factory overclock of 1072 MHz base and 1137 MHz boost. Gainward has even overclocked the 2GB of GDDR5 memory slightly to 6.2 GHz. For comparison, the reference NVIDIA GTX 760 comes clocked at 980 MHz base and 1033 MHz boost for the GPU and 6.0 GHz for the memory.

Gainward GTX 760 Phantom with Retail Box.jpg

The factory overclock is not the only aspect that sets the Gainward model apart, however. This upcoming graphics card comes with a beefy power phase with DrMOS circuitry, support for the company’s EXPERTool overclocking utility, and a custom cooler. The HSF features an aluminum fin stack, two removable 80mm fans (to make dust removal easier), and four heat pipes connected to a copper base-plate that sits on top of the GPU. According to Gainward, its custom Phantom cooler is up to 6.5 dB quieter and 16-degrees Celsius cooler than the reference NVIDIA design.

Gainward GTX 760 Phantom.jpg

Gainward has not released specifics, but expect the card to be available soon for somewhere around $270. Fortunately, reviews on this model are already starting to trickle out, and it looks promising.

Source: Gainward

Gaming the System: The Real Life of Game Programmers

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2013 - 07:09 PM |
Tagged: programming, gaming

There is a popular misconception that a good programmer is defined by their guru-status with a language. A lot of the time, however, a good programmer has a great understanding of algorithms and general problem solving skills. Some optimizations escape, even from the category of outside-the-box solutions, into the bin of dirty hacks. The final issue of Game Developer magazine takes a moment to salute some of the dirtiest found in games.

"(s)elf-exploitation", last story on the first page of GamaSutra's version (contributed by Game Developer Magazine staff), was the most entertaining, at least, in my opinion. The current lead engine programmer for Insomniac Games, Jonathan Garrett, outlined the process they underwent to update their game which shipped without an update system.

ratchetclankremotecode.jpg

A similar exploit in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess save games was the first homebrew for Wii.

Image Credit: Giant Bomb

For those unfamiliar with programming: this hack is foundation of basically every worm which enters the system of those who fail to apply appropriate "Critical" or "Important" Windows Updates.

As it turns out, the End User License Agreement for Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal was refreshed from servers, owned by either Sony or Insomniac, and stored in a static memory location. This remotely served data was just a few memory items away from code which is executed in response to certain network traffic.

The team fed a much longer EULA than originally intended to overwrite all of the memory up to and including the network code. Then, when the server poked the PS2 with a specific network packet, the game would jump to the place in memory which handles that traffic... which is now whatever code Insomniac tagged at the end of their obese EULA. Now that they shoved code into a place in memory that they knew the PS2 would happen to wander through, that code loaded the patch data and fixed the damage they to the gap in memory between the EULA and the network code.

And that, dear readers, is why AMD implemented hardware support for Data Execution Prevention (DEP) found in Windows XP and later.

Although, I wonder, did they need to break the EULA when they did this? Food for thought.

Source: GamaSutra