Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2014 - 03:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ubisoft, watch_dogs, watch dogs, pc gaming
Today, Ubisoft has issued a patch for Watch_Dog that fixes bugs and performance issues. Mainly, it is designed to reduce stuttering with higher levels of texture quality, especially "High Textures". "Ultra Textures" could still have problems for "some players", but Ubisoft suggests that future updates to reduce stutter are in progress.
Without knowing much about the internal workings of the patch, I expect that it addresses hiccups when swapping textures. Loading textures into memory can take a significant amount of time, and overhead, but it is necessary if the one you need is not in there. As the size of each individual texture increases, fewer can be stored in the same memory space, leading to more swapping required (especially when it is difficult to tell what a user can see at any given point in time). Ubisoft might have found a more efficient organization (for lack of a better word that I can think of) for textures that allow "High Textures" to stay below their target memory footprint, but not "Ultra Textures", at least not frequently enough to call it fixed.
Of course, I could be entirely wrong.
This patch also addresses bugs with multiple network adapters, crashes, and error messages. According to Ubisoft forums, it is available now. It is not yet on their news blog, though.
Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2014 - 01:09 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox, microsoft, pc gaming, reverse-consolitis
Ah cool. Microsoft has provided the 32-bit and 64-bit (x86) drivers for their Xbox One controllers. The controller can only be used in wired mode, connected to the PC with a micro-USB cable, and there does not seem to be any plans to develop a PC wireless dongle like the 360 had. It will support any game which can make use of an Xbox 360 controller, which is certainly a lot of games.
The D-Pad is said to be a huge step up from the 360, which is a polite way of saying the 360's directional pad was absolute garbage. I am hesitant about the rest of the controller, though. I have heard numerous complaints about its design, particularly with its shoulder buttons, although it is hard to know without physically trying it. Like all peripherals, I would expect it comes down to personal preference to some extent.
PC gamers have other choices, too. For instance, unofficial support for the PS4 controller exists, albeit it is missing features from what I remember (it does support Bluetooth wireless on the PC, however). Also, and this is a better option, numerous PC gaming companies have their own controllers, including Razer, Logitech, and others.
But, of course, if you already have an Xbox One -- then why not try its controller on your PC?
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 07:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wolfenstein, pc gaming, gaming, core i7, 60fps
Bethesda recently published the system requirements for Wolfenstein: The New Order on its blog. The game, which is currently up for pre-order from Steam, is a next generation first person shooter for the PC and consoles (PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360). The system requirements below represent the hardware that PC gamers will need to run the game at a steady 60 FPS at 1080p.
Gamers will need a PC with at least an Intel Core i7 or equivalent AMD processor, 4GB of system memory, and 50GB of free hard drive space running a 64-bit operating system. On the graphics front, users will need to be running a NVIDIA GeForce 460 or AMD Radeon HD 6850 graphics card or better. The game will further require a broadband internet connection and Steam activation. These hardware suggestions are what Bethesda believes is needed in order to run the game "as it was intended to be experienced" on the PC.
Console gamers have similar hard drive space requirements, but obviously will run the game at reduced graphical fidelity as they are limited to their respective fixed hardware.
More information on the system requirements for the various platforms can be found on the Bethesda blog.
If your PC is up to the task of powering BJ Blazkowicz, it's time to get psyched! And In the meantime, why not enjoy some classic Wolfenstein 3D?
Will you be picking up Wolfenstein: The New Order when it comes out.
Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2014 - 11:40 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy
Update: Fixed a couple of points as per the comments.
Final Fantasy might be returning to the PC as its publisher, Square Enix, grows more interested in the platform. Final Fantasy VII and VIII were both available on the PC within a few months of their original PlayStation releases. Since then, Final Fantasy was basically non-existent on the platform, beyond the two MMO releases (XI and XIV).
Within the last year, both titles were re-released on Steam to decent sales. Yoshinori Kitase, producer for the franchise, told Eurogamer that this popularity has grabbed their attention. He acknowledged that the developer does not have a lot of experience with creating a good PC experience, but they could be very interested in the future.
It's an early stage for us. We haven't got an awful lot of experience in this field. So when we have more know-how and experience in this market we would be very interested.
Kitase also noted that, by ignoring the PC platform, their games are completely off the table in several markets. He did not mention any markets by name, but China only recently reopened its borders to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo after banning them in 2000. In Brazil, a PS4 launched at a little over 3x the US price, after converting into USD, because of tax and other distribution issues.
Also, while not mentioned in the article, Square Enix has been very active in porting their back-catalog to mobile platforms. This seems to be a time of re-evaluation for the company. While they have had recent troubles with projecting sales figures, mostly with Eidos releases, they have at least dodged Games for Windows Live in favor of Steam.
Also, ending with a pun, Final Fantasy VII supports Cloud Saves. Hehehe.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | February 12, 2014 - 07:45 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox, xbone, ps4, Playstation, pc gaming
PCMag, your source for Apple and gaming console coverage (I joke), wrote up an editorial about purchasing a gaming console. Honestly, they should have titled it, "How to Buy a Game Device" since they also cover the NVIDIA SHIELD and other options.
The entire Console vs PC debate bothers me, though. Neither side handles it well.
I will start by highlighting problems with the PC side, before you stop reading. Everyone says you can assemble your own gaming PC to save a little money. Yes, that is true and it is unique to the platform. The problem is that the public vision then becomes, "You must assemble and maintain your own gaming PC".
No. No. No.
Some people prefer the support system provided by the gaming consoles. If it bricks, which some of them do a lot, you can call up the manufacturer for a replacement in a few weeks. The same could be absolutely true for a gaming PC. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a computer from a system builder, ranging from Dell to Puget Systems.
The point of gaming PC is that you do not need to. You can also deal with a small business. For Canadians, if you purchase all of your hardware through NCIX, you can add $50 to your order for them to ship your parts as a fully assembled PC, with Windows installed (if purchased). You also get a one-year warranty. The downside is that you lose your ability to pick-and-choose components from other retailers and you cannot reuse your old stuff. Unfortunately, I do not believe NCIX USA offers this. Some local stores may offer similar benefits, though. One around my area assembled for free.
The benefits of the PC is always choice. You can assemble it yourself (or with a friend). You can have a console-like experience with a system builder. You can also have something in-between with small businesses. It is your choice.
Most importantly, your choice of manufacturer does not restrict your choice in content.
As for the consoles, I cannot find a rock-solid argument that will always be better on them. If you are thinking about purchasing one, the available content should sway your decision. Microsoft will be the place to get "Halo". Sony will be the place to get "The Last of Us". Nintendo will be the place to get "Mario". Your money should go where the content you want is. That, and wherever your friends play.
But, of course, then you are what made the content exclusive.
Note: Obviously the PC has issues with proprietary platforms, too. Unlike the consoles, it could also be a temporary issue. The PC business model does not depend upon Windows. If it remains a sufficient platform? Great. If not, we have multiple options which range from Linux/SteamOS to Web Standards for someone to develop a timeless classic on.
Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2014 - 06:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, microsoft
PC Gamer reports that Jason Holtman has left Microsoft after being there just six months. Little is known about his departure, or even what he accomplished at Microsoft beyond his "Head of PC Gaming and Entertainment Strategy" title, but the publication hopes to have more details soon.
It does appear as if he chose to leave.
Image Credit: Microsoft-News
Prior to joining Microsoft, Holtman served as the director of business development for seven years at Valve. He is credited with a lot of Steam's success, from content deals to their wildly successful "Summer Sales".
We do not really have much beyond that, yet.
Readers, how do you think this reflect Microsoft's stance toward PC gaming?
Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2013 - 10:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: txaa, PhysX, pc gaming, nvidia, infinity ward, call fo duty, Activision
Activision recently announced a technical partnership with NVIDIA at GamesCom. The two companies are "working hand in hand" on the development of the PC version of Call of Duty: Ghosts to implement the kinds of graphical features and technologies that PC gamers expect of a new triple-A title.
According to a NVIDIA Geforce blog post, NVIDIA developers are working on-site at Infinity Ward. NVIDIA is helping Infinity Ward to enhance the Sub D tessellation, displacement mapping, and HDR lighting. Additionally, the NVIDIA engineers are working to integrate support for the company's TXAA (temporal anti-aliasing) and PhysX technologies. The Infinity Ward game developers are also taking advantage of the APEX Turbulence PhysX tool-kit to enable realistic, physics-based, smoke clouds that will react with the environment and player actions.
Activision and Infinity Ward are also enabling the use of dedicated multiplayer servers for Call of Duty: Ghosts. In addition, Call of Duty Elite will be available for the PC version of the game including a smartphone app that allows stat tracking and profile management from a mobile device.
The Geforce blog claims that the PC version is intended to be the definitive CoD: Ghosts version, which is always nice to see. More graphical effects and features are being worked on, but IW and NVIDIA are keeping them under wraps for now.
The PC is in a really good place right now between console cycles where developers are finally starting to realize the power of the PC and what it is able to offer in terms of graphical performance and control options. PC-first development is something that I have been wanting to see for a long time (develop for the PC and port to consoles rather than the other way around), and now that PC versions are once again getting due credit and development attention (and resources), along with the upcoming consoles being based on x86 hardware... these types of technical partnerships where the PC version is being positioned as the best version are hopefully the start of a trend that will see a new surge in PC gaming!
Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2013 - 08:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ubisoft, txaa, pc gaming, nvidia, kepler
NVIDIA announced on Wednesday that it had formed an alliance with Ubisoft to collaborate on Ubisoft's upcoming PC game titles (coming this fall). The alliance involves the NVIDIA Developer Technology Team "working closely" with the Ubisoft development studio on several new PC titles. The team NVIDIA-enhanced PC games covered by this new alliance includes Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag, and Watch Dogs.
NVIDIA Senior VP of Content and Technology Tony Tamasi stated in a press release that "Ubisoft understands that PC gamers demand a truly elite experience -- the best resolutions, the smoothest frame rates and the latest gaming breakthroughs." NVIDIA has reportedly worked with the Ubisoft game developers throughout the entire development process to incorporate the company's graphics technologies.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist is the first game to come out of the alliance. It features PC gaming graphics technologies such as DirectX 11 effects, parallax mapping, ambient occlusion, tessellation, HBAO+ (horizon-based ambient occlusion), and NVIDIA's own TXAA and Surround support. The latest Splinter Cell game also comes bundled with NVIDIA graphics cards.
NVIDIA did not go into details on what sort of extra PC-centric graphics features the other Ubisoft games will have, but it should be similar to those in Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Curiously, the press release makes no mention of NVIDIA's The Way It's Meant To Be Played program, though it seems that this alliance may even go a step further than that in terms of development team interaction and shared resources.
Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2013 - 05:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, valve, xbox, pc gaming
A half of a year, almost to the day, passed since Valve removed two dozen employees. Jason Holtman, then Director of Business for Valve, was among those released. Despite the flat-by-design corporate structure, with even game credits listed alphabetically versus title and department, Holtman is considered key to the success of Steam.
Games for Windows has not been a success. Microsoft Game Studios, and even Microsoft Hardware, had high respect in the PC gaming industry with extremely popular franchises and lines of peripherals. Their image has since regressed far enough for Microsoft to give up, two years ago, and roll Games for Windows into the Xbox brand.
As Microsoft fell, Valve climbed. Steam, largely credited to efforts by Jason Holtman, distributes games for basically every major publisher. It has a respected position on the hard drive of gamers which is an enviable feat. The Windows Store has not received any uptake. Microsoft feels the need to change that and, it would seem by accepting the job, Holtman believes he can accomplish that.
I do wonder how Microsoft will be influenced by this hire. The major concern with Windows Store is its certification process and I doubt anything will change on that front. I expect the hope is his contributions to publisher relationships but he might also, on the side, induce change in visible ways.
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