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

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2013 - 10:32 AM |
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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Gaming

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

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 26, 2013 - 10:20 AM |
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 25, 2013 - 10:04 PM |
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 - 04:09 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

Palit Releases GTX 780 Super JetStream Graphics Card With Triple Fan JetStream Cooler

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 24, 2013 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: palit, gtx 780, gaming, super jetstream, jetstream

AIB partner Palit has announced a speedy GTX 780 of its own with the GTX 780 Super JetStream graphics card. This card has a triple fan cooler and is one of the fastest GTX 780’s announced so far (matching the GPU clocks of the Gainward Phantom GLH).

The Palit GTX 780 Super JetStream clocks the GPU’s 2,304 CUDA cores to 980 MHz base and 1033 MHz boost. Palit has also slightly overclocked the 3GB GDDR5 memory at 6200 MHz. For comparison, NVIDIA clocks the reference card at 863 MHz base, 900 MHz boost, and 6008 MHz memory. Palit is also producing a non-Super JetStream card clocked at 902 MHz base and 954 MHz boost.

Palit Factory Overclocked GTX 780 Super JetStream.jpg

The differentiating factor here beyond the factory overclock is Palit’s own JetStream cooler. This cooler, well, cools an aluminum fin stack (copper base) using two 80mm fans on either side of a single center-mounted 90mm fan. The fans sit beneath a black and gold colored shroud. According to Palit, the JetStream cooler is rated at 6 dB quieter and 10-degrees Celsius cooler than the reference NVIDIA cooler.

Additionally, the GTX 780 Super JetStream comes with an 8-phase PWM with DrMOS technology.

Palit has not yet released details on where and when the GPU will be available, or how much it will cost.

Source: HEXUS

Gainward GTX 780 Phantom GLH Features Massive HSF and Factory Overclock

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 24, 2013 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: phantom glh, gtx 780, gk110, gaming, gainward

The rumored GTX 760 graphics cards are still not available, but graphics enthusiasts do have a number of new factory overclocked GTX 780 cards with custom coolers to drool over. One such new GTX 780 card is the so-called GTX 780 Phantom GLH card from Gainward. This card is 2.5 slot monster that pairs the GTX 780 GPU with custom power phases and a giant block of aluminum and copper to support a healthy factory overclock.

Gainward GTX 780 Phantom GLH Graphics Card.jpg

This new Gainward Phanton GLH card pushes the GTX 780 GPU farther than the company's own GTX 780 Phantom. It has a base clock of 980MHz, boost clock of 1033 MHz, and slightly overclocked 6200 MHz memory. Of course, being based on NVIDIA's GTX 780 chip, the Phanton GLH features 2,304 CUDA cores and 192 Texture Units within 12 SMX units. The Phantom GLH's 3GB of overclocked GDDR5 memory affords the card 297.6 GB/s of memory bandwidth. Gainward claims that the new card is up to 19% faster than NVIDIA's reference GTX 780 graphics card.

To put that in perspective, the Gainward GTX 780 Phantom (non-GLH) is clocked at 902 MHz base and 954 MHz boost. Further, NVIDIA"s stock GTX 780 is has GPU clockspeeds of 863 MHz base, 900 MHz boost, and 6008 MHz for the memory. In other words, it is an impressive factory overclock, and I'm interested to see how much headroom is left for enthusiasts to push the chip further with the included cooler.

Gainward GTX 780 Phantom GLH with Box.jpg

Other features of the upcoming Gainward GTX 780 Phanton GLH include an 8-phase PWM with DrMOS technology, a large aluminum fin stack with removable fans that is connected to a copper GPU block via five 8mm heatpipes, and an EXPERTmode option in the company's overclocking utility. Video outputs are the same as the reference design, with two DVI, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI port.

There is no word on pricing or when (and where) it will be available, but expect this beastly card to come at a premium. Although, as one of the fastest factory overclocked GTX 780 cards (soon to be) available, it may be worth it!

Also read: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Graphics Card Review - GK110 Mini

Source: Gainward

Rumored NVIDIA GTX 760 Specifications Leaked: The First Mid-Range 700-Series GPU Option

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2013 - 09:28 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 760, GK104, gk-104, gaming

There have been rumors of a new mid-range Kepler-based graphics card coming that will be next entry in the GTX 700-series. This new GPU is rumored to be called the GeForce GTX 760. If the specifications are true, the card will fit between the existing GTX 660 and GTX 660 Ti graphics cards as far as hardware specifications and pricing. While it will be under the GTX 700-series, it will not have the faster 7Gbps memory clockspeed of the other 700-series cards.

As far as specifications, Videocardz claims to have the final specifications list in a recent news post. The GTX 760 is rumored to be the latest graphics card to use NVIDIA's GK-104 "Kepler" GPU. The GTX 760 will have some units disabled for a GPU with 1,152 CUDA cores, 96 Texture Manipulation Units (TMUs), and 32 Raster Operations Processors (ROPs). The GPU supports NVIDIA's latest GPU Boost 2.0 technology which will automatically ratchet up the Boost clockspeed so long as temperature allows. It has a base clockspeed of 980 MHz and a boost clockspeed of 1,033 Mhz.

GTX 760 graphics cards will allegedly come in both 2GB and 4GB GDDR5 memory flavors. NVIDIA is clocking the memory at 6 Gbps (1502 MHz), which makes it the fist 700-series part to not take advantage of faster memory chips. However, there is a bit of saving grace as NVIDIA has moved to a 256-bit memory bus. This allows the card to still see a respectable bump in memory bandwidth of 192 GB/s on the GTX 760 versus the GTX 660/GTX 660 Ti's 144.2 GB/s bandwidth.

Compared to the existing mid-range 600-series cards, the GTX 760 has base and boost GPU clockspeeds equal to the GTX 660 (and faster than the GTX 660 TI). Memory clockspeed is also unchanged on the new card, though it has a wider memory bus. The GTX 760 has 192 more CUDA cores than the GTX 660, but 192 fewer CUDA cores versus the GTX 660 Ti. TMUs are also sit evenly between the two 600-series cards, but the GTX 760 does have 8 more ROPs enabled than both the 660 and 660 Ti.

Graphics cards with the upcoming GTX 760 GPU will be powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors, and it has a 170W TDP. That power consumption puts the card between the 150W GTX 660 Ti and the higher-end 230W GTX 770. It appears that the card will not come with the high-end stock metallic cooler used in the other 700-series cards, though the various AIBs are likely to fit the GPU with their own custom aftermarket coolers. Video outputs on the cards will incluce DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort.

The chart below compares the specifications between the GTX 660, GTX 660 Ti, GTX 770, and the rumored GTX 760.

  GTX 760 GTX 660 GTX 660 Ti GTX 770
CUDA Cores 1,152 960 1,344 1536
TMUs 96 80 112 128
ROPs 32 24 24 32
GPU Base 980 MHz 980 Mhz 915 Mhz 1046 Mhz
GPU Boost 1033 MHz 1033 MHz 980 Mhz 1085 MHz
Memory Bus 256-bit 192-bit 192-bit 256-bit
Memory Clock 1502 MHz 1502 MHx 1502 Mhz 1752 Mhz
Bandwidth 192 GB/s 144.2 GB/s 144.2 GB/s 224 GB/s
TDP 170 W 140 W 150 W 230 W
Architecture GK-104 GK-106 GK-104 GK-104

The card is supposedly going to be released on June 25th for around $300. It will compete with AMD's 7950 with boost graphics card. Further, the card will be an alternative to NVIDIA's own GTX 660 Ti and an upgrade for gamers still running GTX 560 cards with the company's older Fermi-based GPU.

Source: Videocardz

Microsoft Gives Xbox One Gamers What They Want... Sort Of

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 06:08 PM |
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.

Xbox One Logo.jpg

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?

Also read:

Source: Xbox Wire

The Witcher 2 is a little more that just a pretty RPG

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 12:23 PM |
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.

RPS_wrassle.jpg

"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."

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Gaming

Freespace picked back up by Interplay ... almost good news

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2013 - 11:37 AM |
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.

z8910152XFreeSpace-2-Open.jpg

"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."

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