Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2016 - 06:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming
Awesome Games Done Quick is an organization that runs week-long, non-stop speedrun marathons for charity. This one benefits Doctors Without Borders, like the last three summer events. The last five Games Done Quick have raised a little under six million dollars, so this is a serious charity event.
The event starts this Sunday at 12:30pm EDT with a half-hour pre-show followed by an Any % run of Super Mario Sunshine for about an hour and a third, and that is followed by Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for about an hour and a half. Lots of PC games are included on their schedule too, including classics like Final Doom, Hexen, System Shock, and Serious Sam. It is scheduled to go, around the clock, until Saturday at just before midnight, plus or minus a few hours.
Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 02:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, Nintendo
Okay, so I'm a week late on this, but what the heck. Dolphin 5.0 was released on their website. The project is a Wii and GameCube emulator that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This version focuses on compatibility. They claim that about 85% of titles, including WiiWare and virtual-console games, can be played from start to finish, with about 14% of all titles doing so flawlessly.
That said, it also adds several performance features. They improved the JIT compiler, added texture pooling to prevent reloading the same texture over and over, and even added DirectX 12 support, although they don't elaborate on why that would be useful for this workload. While they have not extended support to Vulkan, they do use the “Approaching Zero Driver Overhead (AZDO)” features of OpenGL and its extensions to raise performance on other platforms.
The emulator is available at their website.
Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2016 - 03:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, sale, sales, steam sale, pc gaming
You probably already know this at this point, but the Steam Summer Sale has begun. The theme, this year, is Steam Summer Picnic Sale. As far as I can tell, it has no relevance other than it ends on July 4th. They do claim to have 12785 titles on sale, though, and filtering all on-sale software by Windows lists 12595 of them.
Some interesting deals include 40% off DOOM, 50% off Fallout 4, 35% off Rise of the Tomb Raider, and 50% off Just Cause 3. The Witcher 3 is also 50% off, although it was like that before the sale and its DLC are still basically full price if you want the both of them. If you're looking for older titles, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is 75% off, as is Civilization V and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. As always, have a browse if you are okay with tempting your credit card.
If not? ... ... Sorry.
Subject: General Tech | June 22, 2016 - 10:35 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, hotline miami, devolver digital, dennaton games
The (Edit June 26th: latest entry in the) Hotline Miami franchise was released a little over a year ago, and it was quite popular with both fans and critics. It is a fast-paced, top-down action game that is unforgiving enough that it tends to feel a little bit like a puzzle game as well, at least to me, in the sense that you need to figure out how to catch enough NPCs off-guard to easily and quickly take them out. As such, level design should have a huge impact on gameplay.
And now users can make their own maps. Dennaton Games and Devolver Digital have released the level editor in today's patch. If you don't like user-generated fun, or you experience bugs or something, then you can stay on Hotline Miami 2 version 1.05.
Hotline Miami 2 and Hotline Miami 1+2 combo are both 75%-off for the rest of today.
Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2016 - 12:32 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GOG, pc gaming
GOG.com has begun their Summer Sale, as of June 8th, and it has some fairly deep discounts in it. First, if you sign in to their GOG Galaxy client, they will gift you a free copy of System Shock 2. Second, The Witcher III is 50% off again, or you can get the game and all of its DLC for the price of the base game (which ends up working out to 33% off).
The top seller is the Homeworld Remastered Collection, which has been reduced to $17.49 USD (50%-off). You can also get either The SOLUS Project, which released this week, or The Witness for 15% off. Then we get to some of the game bundles, like all of the Tropicos or a bunch of Bullfrog titles for 80% off. You know how these digital game sales work.
They are also doing an XP system. If you buy games, check in, or do a few other actions, you can accumulate points that will unlock a handful of free games. The three that they're offering me are Spelunky, Gabriel Knight, and Dreamfall Chapters. I'm not sure if it's the same for everyone, though.
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2016 - 03:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows, pc gaming, osx, linux
The next week-and-a-half should be good for video game enthusiasts. E3 2016 starts on June 14th, although EA, Bethesda, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Sony, and AMD (with PCGamer) have press conferences throughout the 12th and the 13th. Of course, not to get lost in the traffic, many entities are releasing their announcements prior to those conferences. For instance, Watch Dogs 2 will have a reveal on this Wednesday, June 8th, five days prior to Ubisoft's press conference.
This post is about a Kickstarter project called Yooka-Laylee, though. This title is being created by Playtonic Games, which contains several past employees of Rare, apparently to create a proper Banjo-Kazooie-style platform title. It raised over two million British Pounds (~3 million USD) and targeted an October 2016 release date. That has since slipped to Q1 2017, but that should be expected for a crowdfunding project, especially when the stretch goals start piling up. It is scheduled to be released on Windows, Mac, and Linux... and a few other boxes.
Of course, they couldn't resist making a Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts joke at the end...
... I chuckled.
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2016 - 07:46 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, pc gaming, linux
According to Phoronix, gaming on Linux has experienced exponential growth in recent times. Over the course of the last two years, Steam's catalog on the platform expanded from 500 games up to over 2200. This is a little over a 4.4x increase over two years. If I'm doing my high-school math correctly, and I seriously hope I am, this corresponds to an average increase of just under 2.1x year-over-year.
In other words, this is litearlly the trend, minus half-life. Snicker snicker snicker.
The quantity of Linux's games catalog is a very different argument from its quality, of course. Still, you can find many interesting titles there. Valve has been porting their catalog to the OS, as have other, high-end titles, like Tomb Raider, Trine, Civilization V, Civilization: Beyond Earth, XCOM, and a couple Borderlands versions. If interested in specifics, and you enjoy a sense of humor like you would see on our PC Perspective Podcast, check out LinuxGameCast for their reviews of specific titles.
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2016 - 03:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is one of the best looking games available, and its final DLC, Blood and Wine, intended to raise that graphical bar slightly. Near the base game's initial launch, in early 2015, there was a bit of a controversy surrounding the image quality and how it sort-of rolled back. Righting this issue was apparently one of the design goals for this final DLC, leaving users with fonder memories of the title before CD Projekt Red moves onto newer projects. Granted, the memories weren't all that bad to begin with, but it was nice to address regardless.
As you can see, this environment is bright, vibrant, and heavily saturated with color. The medieval city is alive with colored cobblestone, flowers, banners, and buildings all under a bright, blue sky. There was quite a bit of texture pop-in that I saw, even at 1080p, but it wasn't too distracting. This, again, is supposed to be the last time that CD Projekt adds substantial content to The Witcher franchise for the foreseeable future, but I hope that the mod community will keep the title alive.
Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2016 - 03:24 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nes, the witness, the wit.nes, pc gaming
The Witness, from Thekla Inc. and Jonathan Blow, caught the attention of a few of us at PC Perspective... mostly Allyn. Anywho, it's based on an island that you explore and solve puzzles along the way. I'm not talking about puzzles in the “Space Quest”, point-and-click adventure sense, but like, puzzles that you would expect to find in a newspaper, which unlock doors and turn on machinery when solved.
If that sort of game is for you, then you might want to check out a “demake” of it, called The Wit.nes. It is created by an indie developer who goes by the name Dustmop, for NES emulators. Being a game that's based on the NES platform, the entire virtual ROM is currently 40KB. (NES titles varied between ~8kB and ~1MB). It plays from a top-down perspective in its exploration mode, rather than first-person for what should be obvious reasons, but the puzzles are apparently quite faithful to the original style.
It's free and small, so check it out at their Itch.io page if you're interested.
Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2016 - 07:31 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming
Before I begin, I should note that the release date for Mirror's Edge: Catalyst has been pushed back two weeks. It will now launch on June 7th in North America, and June 9th in Europe. DICE claims that the reason for this delay is to work on “Social Play,” which allows users to create their own time trial events, and to integrate feedback that they will receive from the Closed Beta. The beta starts the day after that reason was announced... so it can't logically be the whole truth.
Anywho, the specifications.
First, Mirror's Edge Catalyst requires at least four “logical” cores. They list the minimum as the Intel Core i3-3250 or the AMD FX-6350. A dual-core, HyperThreaded processor should work, but it would need to be as fast as the i3-3250. EA does offer refunds through Origin, however, so, if you're interested but not quite sure, you could just try it and see.
Second, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and the Radeon R9 270x are listed as the minimum GPUs, with the GeForce GTX 970 and the Radeon R9 280x (3GB) recommended. Especially on AMD's side, there really isn't a whole lot of difference between these parts. The R9 270x has 2.5 TeraFLOPs of performance, and the R9 280x has 3.5 TeraFLOPs. Over on NVIDIA's side, the GTX 650 Ti has about 1.5 TeraFLOPs of compute, while the GTX 970 goes up to 3.5 TeraFLOPs. They seem to be targeting about twice-the-PS4 for their benchmark of high-end performance, but it looks like they aren't willing to scale back too far to be smooth. This could be caused by one of three issues:
- The gameplay requires a fairly high and consistent framerate
- They didn't put a lot of effort in downscaling and/or
- It can go lower and/or higher, but DICE/EA just doesn't want to officially support it
Third, despite being an open-world title, the game isn't too tough on hard drive space. It only requires about 25GB of space, which is about half of a typical, large title these days. That said, the art style also doesn't really require too many textures. Basically everything is colored by its lighting engine, because the environment is supposed to give a sterile feel.
Fourth, and more interesting, the game requires a heck of a lot of RAM. At a bare minimum, it requires 6GB of memory, which also means that it will not run on a 32-bit operating system. Their recommended RAM goes way up from there, requesting 16GB for that level of experience. Yes, RAM usage doesn't really correlate with assets, but that is almost the entire install size of the game, which (again) is 25GB. That's a lot, but it will hopefully cut down on the load times that people have been complaining about in the console pre-release builds. To be clear, I don't mind and it could be a very good thing, but it's definitely a noteworthy amount.
If you're interested, check out the various streams and videos that should be popping up. The full game arrives on the first full week of June.