Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 24, 2015 - 10:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: batman, wb games, consolitis, gameworks, pc gaming, nvidia, amd
Over the last few days, the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight has been receiving a lot of flak. Sites like PC Gamer were unable to review the game because they allege that Warner Brothers would not provide pre-release copies to journalists except for the PS4 version. This is often met with cynicism that can be akin to throwing darts in an unlit room with the assumption that a dartboard is in there somewhere. Other times, it is validated.
Whether or not the lack of PC review copies was related, the consensus is that Arkham Knight is a broken game. After posting a troubleshooting guide on the forums to help users choose the appropriate settings, WB Games has pulled the plug and suspended the game's sales on Steam until the issues are patched.
TotalBiscuit weighs in on the issues with his latest "Port Report".
No-one seems to be talking about what the issue is. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don't have the game myself so I cannot look and speculate based on debug information (which they probably disabled from the released game anyway). I could wildly speculate about DX11 limits from the number of elements on screen, but that is not based on any actual numbers. They could be really good at instancing and other tricks to keep the chunks of work being sent to the GPU as large as possible. I don't know. Whatever the issue is, it sounds pretty bad.
Subject: Shows and Expos | June 18, 2015 - 07:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, E3 2015, E3 15, E3
This has been a good E3 for the PC platform. We got our first keynote, organized by PC Gamer and AMD, which took the format in its own direction. This had basically the same reaction as putting Skittles in an M&Ms vending machine; they are good, but you'll see lots of weird faces on those who were expecting chocolate that melts in their mouths and not in their hands. It also ran long, celebrating the platform for almost two and a half hours, which is problematic for fans of console games who are very busy (and anyone with sub-phenomenal blood circulation or irritable bowels). Personally, I found it very interesting (while a bit long).
Throughout E3, PC Gamer has also kept a vast (but not as complete as they claim) list of titles at the event. Each entry in the slideshow (I know) format has a brief blurb about the game, its release date if available, and whether it is coming to the PC platform. It is updated as the event progresses, but it already has about forty entries. Of the current list, only four are not yet confirmed for the PC. That sounds pretty good, and a stark contrast from five-to-ten years ago.
These four are:
- The Last Guardian (no surprise)
- Fallout Shelter (iOS only)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (which will probably make it to the PC at some point)
- Final Fantasy 7 Remake (which was twice a PC release already)
Unfortunately, they are missing many titles that would be excluded from the PC, so I will add to it here. Gears 4 has not been confirmed for the PC, although the developer is bringing the original Gears remake to the platform. Yup, we get the one Gears we already had (at least until Games for Windows Live had something to say about it). Uncharted 4, Ratchet and Clank, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Dreams are pretty safe bets against the PC. Microsoft has been extremely quiet about Halo 5 and its chances on the PC; ReCore and Rare Replay sounds like Xbox One exclusives, as in excluding the PC as well as the other consoles, as well. Then you add Nintendo, and this list blows up from 12, including my additions, to a much bigger number that I don't even want to figure out.
Still, it is interesting to browse through PC Gamer's slideshow and look at all the content that we will get. It has been a good year for the PC. Microsoft is pulling Windows 10 forward with equivalent effort to what they have spent dragging the mostly unprofitable Xbox division around. They know that gaming is an essential component of why people are locked in to Windows, and it has thrived even through the decade-plus of neglect and maltreatment. On the other side, we see Sony appreciating the PC as a profitable market that can exist alongside their PlayStation initiatives for Sony Online content, and they don't even have as much first-party developers as they used to anyway.
But yeah. Lots of games is good. While I've managed for the last couple years, I feel it's getting much easier to ignore the console exclusives. How about you?
Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 11:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming
The PC gaming utility, Raptr, is normally used to optimize in-game settings, chat and socialize, and record game footage. It also keeps track of game-hours and aggregates them into a list once per month, which makes it one of the few sources for this type of data on the PC. We were late on it last month, which means that another was posted just a week later.
April marks the release of Grand Theft Auto V for the PC. It went live on the 14th and, despite only counting for half of the month, ended up at 4th place. Next month's survey will tell us whether the post-release drop-off was countered by counting Grand Theft Auto for a full month, which is double what they have now. It was just 0.17% of global play time behind CS:GO. Despite an error on the graph, it knocked DOTA 2 down to fifth, and Diablo III down to sixth. In fact, just about everything below Grand Theft Auto V dropped at least one rank.
Only three games actually gained places this month: ArcheAge, Warframe, and Spider Solitaire. Yes, that game is now the 19th most played, as tracked by Raptr. You could sort-of say that Hearthstone gained a rank by not losing one, but you would be wrong. Why would you say that?
League of Legends dropped less than a percent of total play time, settling in at about 21%. This is just about on target for the game, which proves that not even Rockstar can keep people from having a Riot.
Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 07:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming
Raptr is an application that helps PC gamers by optimizing in-game settings, recording and streaming gameplay, and providing a chat service. Each month, they use their community data to compile a list of most played PC games over the previous month. This release concerns the month of March, 2015.
The top five games rarely move, but the last two months are minor exceptions. In February, Diablo III kicked Smite out of fifth place, leaving League of Legends, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive untouched above it. In March, DOTA 2 by Valve Software had its third place ranking usurped by their arch nemesis: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive by Valve Software. That is the only change in the top five segment.
Looking at the bottom three-quarters, Dragon Age: Inquisition continued its descent right off the list, allowing PAYDAY 2 and Spider Solitaire to both re-enter the top twenty. (Apparently Spider Solitaire dropping by the list made Raptr “sad”. It has been absent since November 2014.) Battlefield 4 is down and War Thunder is up. Battlefield Hardline was only tracked for the first two weeks after its release, because we ran out of March, but it didn't even come close to the top twenty, placing 49th. It is attributed to Battlefield 4's decline, though.
StarCraft II being the only exception, four of Blizzard's five current titles are in the top ten most played games on the PC. With the Legacy of the Void beta going on, I wonder if they will achieve a five-for-five (or six-for-six if Overwatch is available by then) when the game fully releases, whenever that is.
Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2015 - 04:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming
If you have ever watched the movie Groundhog Day, then the premise of this game should be familiar. Garbage Day borrows its premise and lets the player do whatever they want for a day, and time resets. The game is said to justify the theme with a nuclear power accident, because the average person doesn't understand how nuclear energy works so why not?
In the movie, this gave Bill Murray countless opportunities, literally, to understand the town and figure out what he was supposed to do to move on with his life. This is the core of many video games, such as the Hitman franchise, but it is perceived as repeated failures. The game will supposedly have an end state to allow the player to break the cycle based on their actions. Unlike a stealth-action game however, it looks like it encourages goofing off as a means to soften the repetition.
Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2015 - 06:43 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming
A little late this month, but there is yet another Top 20 PC Games of the month from Raptr. This one counts the amount of person-hours played per title over the month of February and presents them as a percent of their recorded total. This month finally shows some shake-up in the top five games, but not a lot. Still, this was the first time since November that we saw anything other than: League of Legends, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Smite -- in that order -- at the top of the list.
Basically, Diablo III rose about a percent and a half to take the fifth-place spot from Smite. First through fourth maintain the exact same order as they have been in since October. In terms of percentage, League of Legends jumped back above 20% total usage and World of Warcraft dropped below 10% total time. Both Valve titles in the top five, DOTA 2 and CS:GO, saw an increase due to content patches.
There was a lot of shuffling in the bottom fifteen, but each have less total play time than the amount that WoW lost. Heroes of the Storm, a MOBA from Blizzard, joined the list at 1.09%. This launches them onto the list at lucky number thirteen. The only game to fall off the list was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Don't worry, fans of DirectX 9, Star Wars: The Old Republic is still on the list.
Oh, and Dragon Age: Inquisition fell ten places, but caught itself at #19.
Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2015 - 11:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming
If you are interested in the top five most played PC games, according to Raptr, then the rank order has not changed much. Each of them bled a lot of mind share though. In January, the top twenty games accounted for 61.93% (give or take rounding error) of total time, with 44.05% of total time dominated by the top five. In December (2014), the top twenty games had 78.41% of total play time, or 57% for just the top five. This means that PC gamers, at least those using Raptr, were spending a lot more time playing a diverse spread of less-popular games last month.
The biggest change (by rank) was Warframe, which lost six ranks and 43.2% of its play time, even though that was only 0.6% of Raptr's total. The second-largest change in the bottom fifteen games is Diablo III, which climbed up five ranks due to a major update that was released halfway through the month. The third-largest change is Dragon Age: Inquisition, which lost almost half (43.3%) of its play time, resulting in a drop of three ranks.
Even though the ranking had a few big movements internally, all twenty were also on last month's list.
Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2015 - 03:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: warner bros, pc gaming, GOG
Another publisher signed a deal with GOG to sell and distribute games, DRM-free. To launch their partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, six games have been added and five of them are on sale. LEGO Batman (50%-off), the two LEGO Harry Potter games (each 60%-off), F.E.A.R. Platinum (50%-off), and Bastion (60%-off) will be at their reduced prices all week.
The sixth title comes from their acquisition of Midway Games and is actually a three-game combo: Mortal Kombat 1+2+3. One person in the comments said that they are DOS-based versions and controller support might be a problem (although JoyToKey should solve that problem nicely - especially for a fighting game without analog controls). The first two games only support single PC multiplayer, although Mortal Kombat 3 allows LAN. Of course, LAN support should be easily extended to online multiplayer with people that you know online via VPN software, but I have not tried it myself and lag could be a problem.
All six titles are DRM-free, because it's GOG and that's how they roll.
Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2015 - 02:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webgl, pc gaming
gorescript is a first person shooter that runs in a browser through WebGL (via Three.JS). Its developer, Time Invariant Games, has not mentioned a business model, if there is one, but the first three levels, three guns, and two monsters can be instantly played at their GitHub site for free. The source code, including a map editor for levels and a map editor for monsters, weapons, and powerups, is also on their GitHub under an MIT (permissive) license.
From a technical standpoint, it is not the most impressive game that I have played in a browser -- that would be a toss-up between Unreal Tournament 3 (they had a demo at Mozilla Summit 2013) or Dead Trigger 2. In gorescript on Firefox 35, I was getting about 80-110 FPS, although that begun to crawl down to around 20-30 FPS with some dips down to ~10 FPS; it was probably averaging ~45 FPS when all is said and done.
(Note: Especially if you have a high-refresh panel, the maximum frame rate of Firefox can be adjusted in about:config with the layout.frame_rate variable. Mine is set to 120.)
Again, it is free and it should amuse you for a little while. Maybe we can get it to blow up with third-party content? Even as it is, I think it is worth a mention for anyone who wants a Doom/Quake throwback.
Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2015 - 11:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming
Whoops! It looks like I forgot about Raptr's list for November. In it, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare launched at 10th place and 17th place, respectively. World of Warcraft also jumped from 8.53% to 15.61% of total play time, which is significant and almost equal to League of Legends. Spider Solitaire also made November's list at 19th place.
This month, Dragon Age: Inquisition climbed from 10th to 6th, because it had a full month of play, while Call of Duty fell off completely (along with PAYDAY 2 and Spider Solitaire). Also, World of Warcraft did not lose its gain, but actually built upon it by a small amount. It did not grab mindshare from League of Legends though, because that game rebounded from its losses in November and was even more popular than it was in October.
That's about all that I found interesting however.