Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 16, 2013 - 02:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: consoles, consolitis, pc gaming
If you really enjoy an Xbox or Playstation game, better hope your console does not die: it is likely that nothing else will play it. This news comes from a statement made by Blake Jorgensen, CFO of Electronic Arts. Clearly EA is a trusted partner of all console developers and not just an anonymous tipster.
You mean, Devil May Stop Crying?
I tend to rant about this point quite often. For a market so devoted to the opinion that video games are art, the market certainly does not care about its preservation as art. There is always room for consumable and even disposable entertainment, but the difference with art is that it cannot be substituted with another piece of content.
There would be a difference if someone magically replaced every copy of Schindler’s List, including the vaulted masters, with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I could safely assume that the vast majority of the audience for either film was not just browsing the Holocaust movie genre. I would expect the viewer was seeking out the one or the other for a specific reason.
This is incompatible with the console ecosystem by its design. The point of the platform is to be disposable and its content is along for the ride while it lasts. They often deliver the console for less than their parts and labor fees: research, development, and marketing costs regardless. The business model is to eliminate as many big fees as possible and then jack up the price of everything else ten bucks here and there. Over time you will not be given a bargain, over time you will give them more than they made you think you saved. They then spend this extra money keeping content exclusively under their control, not yours. Also, profits... give or take.
Again, there is always room for consumable entertainment. The consoles are designed to be very convenient, but not cheap and not suitable for timeless art. Really, the only unfortunate element is how these impairments are viewed as assets and all the while examples such as this one dance around the background largely shrugged off without being pieced together.
As for your favorite game? Who knows, maybe you will get lucky and it will be remade on some other platform for you to purchase again. You might be lucky, it might even be available on the PC.
Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2013 - 12:48 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tournament, pc gaming, call of duty
NVIDIA is hosting the Grand Finals of it’s Call of Duty Black Ops II Rivalries tournament this Saturday at the NVIDIA headquarters. The gaming competition pits various teams from colleges across the US against each other for NVIDIA graphics card donations to their respective schools and an ultimate prize of gaming PCs with NVIDIA GTX 680 GPUs for each team member on the winning team.
Currently, it is down to three finalists and two wild card schools. The schools will battle it out on January 19th, 2013 at a live event in Santa Clara, California. CAL, USC, NC State, E. Carolina University, and Oregon State will all be competing at the event. Of course, the game of choice remains Call of Duty Black Ops II and each team member will game on NVIDIA-provided gaming PCs with the option of using a controller.
In addition to the CoD Black Ops II battle, there will be food and drinks provided at the tournament. If you live in the area, you can register for free to attend the event in person on a first come, first serve basis. To RSVP your attendance, head over to this page on the NVIDIA site. The event will run from 1:00 pm to approximately 6:00 pm where one school will be crowned the tournament champion.
You can find more information on the rivalries competition here.
Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2013 - 02:17 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pc gaming, interview, bioshock infinite
Despite the yearly proclamations of death, PC gaming is still alive and kicking. 2012 saw a number of developers put more emphasis back on the PC in multi-platform development schedules. It seems that Irrational Games also realizes the advantages of the PC platform with Bioshock Infinite. In an interview with Ken Levine and Chris Kline of Irrational Games, the developers told IGN what the company is doing to develop the PC version of the game. While they encountered several issues during development of the first Bioshock, Irrational Games is giving Bioshock Infinite its own team of on-call programmers to develop the PC version.
Reportedly, the developers underestimated the time and effort required to develop the first Bioshock game using DirectX 10 technology and a PC-optimized UI. In the interview with IGN, Irrational Games’ Technical Director Chris Kline stated that “this time around things were done differently.” Irrational Game has a team of programmers, artists, designers, and UI specialists dedicated to the PC development track along with the team working on the console versions.
The PC version of Bioshock Infinite will be able to take full advantage of the higher-end hardware in computers. The game will come on 3 discs and feature:
- Additional objects and particles versus consoles
- Longer viewing distances
- Higher quality textures
- High precision color buffer
DirectX 11 features:
- Contact hardening shadows
- HD ambient occlusion
- Diffusion depth of field
- Compute Shader
- FXAA using Shader Model 5
According to the developers, medium quality settings on the PC will be equivalent to the console versions of the game. From there, the PC will have high, very high, and ultra settings that will further ramp up visual quality beyond what the current generation of consoles are capable of. Specifically, the PC system requirements for Bioshock Infinite are as follows:
|Component||Minimum Requirements||Recommended Requirements|
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4GHz or AMD Athlon X2 @ 2.7GHz||Quad-core processor|
|GPU||ATI Radeon HD 3870 or NVIDIA 8800GT||AMD Radeon HD 6950 or NVIDIA GTX 560|
|HDD||20GB free||30GB free|
|Sound Card||DirectX Compatible||DirectX Compatible|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (32-bit)||Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (64-bit)|
It is refreshing to see developers respect the gaming platform that starting it all and is driving the industry (in hardware at least), and take PC gaming seriously. Here's hoping Bioshock Infinite is a success. Considering it is due out on March 26th, 2013 gamers do not have long to wait to find out how well the PC version was done.
IGN has the full interview with Chris Kline and Kevin Levine that is worth reading to find out the developers stance on the future of PC gaming, the Oculus Rift, and even Valve's upcoming Steam Box!
Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2012 - 10:15 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Crysis 3, pc gaming, crytek, CryENGINE 3, fps
Today Crytek revealed the system requirements for its upcoming FPS Crysis 3 game. The third installment in the nanosuit-wearing sandbox shooter series looks poised to take full advantage of the latest PC hardware, which hopefully means a return to Cyrtek’s PC roots.
On the low end, users will need to be running at least Windows Vista and have a system with a dual core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB memory. From there, the game will scale to using at least a quad core processor, 8GB system RAM, and either a NVIDIA GTX 680 or AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card for the high performance settings. There is no word on how (if?) the game will further be able to take advantage of multiple 7970/680 graphics cards in CrossFire/SLI to take the graphics to the extreme. Also, Crytek is not yet revealing details on graphical quality and what each of the specification tiers will get you in terms of graphics and framerate performance.
The full minimum, recommended, and high performance system requirements are listed below.
|OS||Windows Vista, 7, or 8||Windows Vista, 7, or 8||Windows Vista, 7, or 8|
|Graphics Card||DirectX 11 GPU with 1GB memory||DirectX 11 GPU with 1GB memory||Latest DirectX 11 GPU|
|Processor||Dual core||Quad core||Latest quad core|
|System memory||2GB (3GB on Vista)||4GB||8GB|
|Example Processors||Intel E6600 or AMD Athlon64 X2 5200||Intel i3-530 or AMD Phenom II X2 565||Intel i7-2600K or AMD FX4150|
|Example Graphics Cards||NVIDIA GTX 450 or AMD HD 5770||NVIDIA GTX 560 or AMD HD 5870||NVIDIA GTX 680 or AMD HD 7970|
It is nice to see CryENGINE still being developed, and I look forward to it bringing my PC to its knees as it lies somewhere between the recommended and high performance requirements.
Are you excited for Crysis 3?
Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2012 - 07:14 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Star Wars, pc gaming, gaming, free to play, F2P
Bioware announced on Friday that its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is now Free 2 Play. As a result, my productivity over the weekend suddenly dropped dramatically (heh). The subscription option is not gone entirely, but players are now able to create characters up to level 50 without paying anything. This approach is similar to the way World of Warcraft and Star Trek Online handle the Free to Play model.
Installation is simple, and is just a matter of walking through a few standard steps and accepting the EULA. While the initial download for the installer is small, you cannot jump into the game until you download all of the assets -- and Star Wars: The Old Republic is far from a lightweight game with an asset download of about 25GB required to play (plus future smaller patches).
As a free subscriber you get access to the entire game, but there are several other limitations that might just annoy you into purchasing a subscription. If you are vigilant, it is possible not to pay anything. Some of the larger restrictions include XP-rates, number of characters per account, medical probes, reduced reward choices, and not being able to sprint until level 15 of all things (!). After level 10, the rate at which you gain experience points is reduced compared to paying subscribers. As an alternative, you can purchase XP boosters to make up the difference. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase it with in-game currency. At least it’s another one-time charge instead of paying every month for a subscription. The number of characters per account is restricted to two, so you will need to delete one or pony up for a subscription if you want to play as additional classes to get their stories. That’s unfortunate, but not a deal breaker and something that Star Trek Online also does. Medical probes allow you to respawn in the same area as opposed to respawning at a medical center. This would not be so bad if it was not for the biggest issue I have with the Free To Play version: getting around the game takes forever! With a quick travel that has a 2 hour cooldown and not being able to sprint until level 15, it takes a long time to get from mission areas and back again. This became especially evident on Coruscant where walking from the taxis to the senate tower in particular was a slog.
With all the major limitations out of the way, I will say that the game is just as good as my friend has been trying to tell me since launch. In particular, SWTOR is really fun, and I would even go as far as saying it is addicting. While it is not KOTOR 3, it is really close and definitely fills in a gap. It definitely encourages you to go for the subscription option but it is enoyable enough that the restrictions are worth putting up with, however annoying.
When I started out, the combat took a bit of getting used to, as you move around with WASD, aim the camera with the mouse, and also right click to attack. With ranged weapons it will likely not be an issue but when you are running in with a lightsaber, it may take a bit of training before you hurt the enemies more than yourself (heh). I wish that there was a keyboard key to auto-target the nearest enemy, especially since my companion just loves to walk in front of me when I'm trying to target someone with the mouse (KOTOR did combat that way, from what I remember). The force abilities of the Jedi Consular are satisfying indeed.
(Hint, if you go with the Jedi Shadow option as I did when you chose an advanced class, you get a free double bladed lightsaber in a backpack that shows up in your inventory--the game doesn’t make this clear at all and it took me reading on a forum after looking around the game for a couple hours trying to find a double bladed saber that is required for some of the Jedi Consular’s abilities... It ended up being in my inventory the whole time, d’oh).
You can grab the game from Bioware’s SWTOR website. If you are a Star Wars fan, I encourage you to try it out for yourself. The download is huge but ultimately worth it. Just keep an eye on the time as otherwise you may look up and notice it’s 5 AM and you missed all the Black Friday deals!
What do you think of SW:TOR?
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 05:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming, greenlight, gaming
Valve announced today that ten of the games submitted to its Greenlight service have been approved. Each of the titles are in various states of development, and will be released on Steam once they are complete. While Valve encountered a minor hiccup when it instituted a $100 (one time per developer) submission fee that goes to the Child’s Play charity to combat an increasing number of joke/spam submissions, it has been overall a very successful program for the company. A number of developers have submitted their games and the community has taken to service and deciding which games are interesting enough to be sold on the Steam Store.
The first titles to successfully be green-lit are listed below.
- Black Mesa
- Cry of Fear
- Heroes & Generals
- No More Room in Hell
- Project Zomboid
Personally, I'm most excited about Black Mesa and Project Zomboid coming to Steam. In the news post on Steam website, Anna Sweet stated that “the Steam community rallied around these titles and made them the clear choice for the first set of titles to launch out of Greenlight.” I am now now eagerly awaiting the Black Mesa download in particular. What about you, did any of the games you voted for make the cut this time around?
Introduction, Virtual Insanity and Game of Making Games panels
Our second day at Quakecon 2012 started bright and early with expert panel discussions led by some of the gaming industry's elite game designers and programmers from around the globe. These panel discussions focused primary around the process different game studios go through to produce triple AAA titles and current developments in virtual reality headset technology. There was also more discussions about creating mods for games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and utilizing modding communities as resources to produce higher quality games.
In between panel discussions, Quakecon hosted the first round of their annual Bawls chugging competition. BYOC gamers and event attendees were also able to try out a few game demos of Smite, Rise of the Triad, Dishonored, and Doom 3 BFG Edition. There were also several "quick draw" Quake Live matches to give out raffle tickets for a chance to win a new 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe.
Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2012 - 03:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: origin, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, crowdfunding, pc gaming
EA wishes to foster independent game distribution on their Origin platform. Developers of games which are crowd-funded through a service such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter will receive 100% revenue share from the service for 90 days.
I need to give EA credit when they do something good.
The Origin online distribution system is not as appreciated as Steam has been but that does not stop EA from trying. The service was made a requisite for PC games such as Battlefield 3 which was an annoyance to gamers -- much as Steam was an annoyance to Half Life 2 players. Whether Origin was a good service or not was irrelevant as customers just do not like to be forced to use a service to access unrelated content.
Origin has decided to waive distribution fees for crowd funded content for 90 days -- wielding a carrot.
Maybe Warren Spector should crowd fund a small project at Junction Point -- publish on Origin’s Systems
It’d be like Tim Schafer, just more ironic.
Two main options for crowdsourcing projects are Indiegogo and Kickstarter. If you are one of our Canadian viewers than you are limited to posting your project on Indiegogo as Kickstarter will not fund projects outside the US; of course you can fund American projects on Kickstarter from Canada, just not create your own. With Origin you are then able to publish on an established platform and receive full revenue for the first three months.
Of course if you have licensed technology or assets such as Unreal Development Kit you are still obliged to follow those commitments. For the first three months EA will just keep their hand out of your pocket.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 7, 2012 - 03:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, diablo iii
Tom’s Hardware took a look at the recent beta of Diablo III and published benchmarks of its performance across multiple profiles. They have found that, for minimum quality settings, a GeForce GT 440 or Radeon 6670 will be very smooth at lower resolutions and even handle 1080p. Maximum quality settings do not lower framerate by all that much even with antialiasing enabled.
Blizzard works on their own personal time zone centered on their offices. It seems quite nebulous to most but apparently 12 years somehow signifies the end of a release cycle. The last couple of years have seen a flurry of releases for the company with two of their three major franchises seeing update twelve year after their last installment.
The latter of those two franchises is Diablo and Diablo III is set to launch in just over a week. If you wonder how your machine will handle the game, and you missed the open beta a little over a week ago, Tom’s Hardware did not miss it and has put it up against several of their test systems.
Not quite a demonic presence on your hardware…
Oddly enough, raising your specifications from minimum to high with antialiasing will only drop your framerate by approximately 20-21% at 1920x1080 resolutions. It is possible that when the full game is released that the highest quality settings could have features enabled which increases that difference slightly.
The other possibility is that the game quality settings are quite CPU-bound. Unfortunately Tom’s Hardware did not test various CPUs between low and highest to see how they scale.
If that is not the case, however, the addition of quality settings seems more about allowing the user to personalize their experience rather than supporting lesser hardware. This could be one of the rare occasions where a mild overclock has a functional use.
For those wishing to see how the game will work on mobile parts, you will likely need to wait just a little longer. The benchmark focuses on desktop components. If your PC has a minimum of a GT440 or a Radeon 6670 then you should not be concerned in the slightest about Diablo III even if you output to a 1080p TV or monitor.
Also, if you are running AMD cards -- be sure to check out our recent article about what to do with the 12.4 drivers. Diablo III likes some cards on it, but not others. How about your's?
Diablo III is scheduled to be released May 15th.
Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2012 - 05:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, gearbox, borderlands 2
Gearbox advertises an enhanced PC experience for Borderlands 2 in the form of a love letter.
It takes a lot of devotion, effort, and trust to make a compelling game for the PC. Apparently Claptrap is willing to take all the time necessary to get into our pants -- or wherever else you carry your credit card. It is somewhat sad how stories like these are newsworthy. This kind-of calls to attention how half-assed most games are these days in general, for all systems, especially when it comes to optimizing for platform-specific traits.
Actually on second thought, maybe we will need some Penicillin.
The list of PC-specific enhancements is quite long, but most entries are based on interface and Steam integration features:
- FOV slider
- “100%” mouse usable menus/mouse wheel scrolling
- Remappable keybindings for keyboard/mouse
- PC specific UI
- Native multiplayer matchmaking
- Push to talk
- Logitech keyboard support ((I assume they mean LCD screen information))
- LAN support (including OFFLINE mode)
- Control pad support
- Integrated v-sync option
- Support for higher resolutions
- Mouse smoothing options (can be disabled completely)
- Cloud save support
- Achievement support
- Friends list support
- No port forwarding required
Is there any feature that you wish would be included for the PC version? Personally I would like the option for splitscreen support especially for those with Eyefinity setups. How about you?
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