"gorescript" Is an Indie, Browser-Based 3D Shooter

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2015 - 02:36 PM |
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.

gorescript.jpg

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.

Raptr's Top PC Games of December 2014

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2015 - 11:01 AM |
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.

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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.

Source: Raptr

Internet Archive Adds Thousands of In-Browser DOS Games

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 09:24 PM |
Tagged: javascript, dos, pc gaming

Well would you look at that. Archive.org has been working hard to preserve as much art and expression as possible, including some things that you would think are blocked by copyright holders. In this latest initiative, they have included DOS-era games in a JavaScript-based editor. Yeah, most of what I tried are pretty much unplayable, but it's a gigantic catalog none-the-less (over 2000 titles).

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It has some titles like: Aladdin, Duke Nukem 3D, Bust-A-Move, Battle Chess, and Oregon Trail. Some of them, like Bust-A-Move and Aladdin, are not playable for me on either Chrome or Firefox due to low frame rate.

If you have a good PC, feel free to give them a try.

Source: Archive.org

Console DRM Woes? Try Some Good Old PC Games Instead!

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2014 - 11:23 AM |
Tagged: Xbox live, retro, PlayStation network, pc gaming, GOG, gaming, DRM, console

With the outage over Christmas of both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network (both pretty much restored, though it took Sony much longer to recover) many console gamers were unable to play.

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Screen captures of the official status from both networks this morning

Beyond online gaming even those attempting to play their own local games were often hampered by the inability of the DRM system to work, preventing the game from loading. Oh, DRM...who needs it? Not the person playing old games that don't use it!

While the term "retro gaming" will likely evoke images of an Atari 2600 or NES, it is retro gaming of the PC persuasion to which we direct our attention now. The website known as Good Old Games (GOG.com) sells many classic titles from distant and not so distant past, and everything sold is DRM free. Install, run; no internet connection required (after you use the internet to actually download the game, that is).

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The games are inexpensive as well, but get so much more so during the frequent sales the site promotes. One such sale is going on now, where various Square Enix-owned titles are 75% off, which puts them at $1.49 to $2.49 each. Take that, modern console gaming!

Street Fighter V Revealed: PC-PS4 Cross-Platform Multiplayer

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: street fighter v, street fighter, pc gaming, gaming

Well this is something that people have been demanding for quite some time. Not only will Capcom's Street Fighter V be available on the PC and PS4, but multiplayer can be a mix-and-match between the two platforms. You will not need to coordinate a platform of choice ahead of time. Players on both of these platforms will be able to connect to one another.

capcom-sf5-logo.jpg

While Capcom has not released any further details, previous Street Fighter releases for the PC have supported local multiplayer when extra controllers are connected. The omission of Xbox One is definitely strange as well, given the exclusive agreement between Microsoft and Capcom for Dead Rising 3. Of course, different game, different contract, but it suggests a larger reason to avoid Xbox One. Two possible, not mutually exclusive reasons are: 1 - Sony paid them and/or 2 - Microsoft was too restrictive about cross platform play. In the past, Microsoft would only allow PC-Xbox cross-platform play if the PC title was branded as Games for Windows Live, which I do not think any game took advantage of (Update: Apparently I was wrong and Shadowrun actually launched cross-platform multiplayer before it was sunset). It also no longer exists.

Street Fighter V will be out... sometime... for PC and PS4.

Source: PC Gamer

Broken Age: Act 2 Delayed Until 2015

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2014 - 02:45 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, gaming, Tim Schafer, broken age

Tim Schafer and the rest of Double Fine set up a Kickstarter in early 2012 to fund a classic, LucasArts-style adventure game. After being funded over eight-fold more than they intended, they allowed the production to balloon and fit their new budget. This resulted in Act 1 being released in 2014, over a year later than their original deadline, with the second half (Act 2) coming later – expected in late 2014. Within the last couple of days, they announced that the release date has slipped into “early next year” (2015).

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This is one of the problems that a Kickstarter can face. There is definitely an instinct to supercharge an over-funded product, which could lead to delays, hiccups, and other problems. On the other hand, the extra money, and the public knowledge regarding how much extra, can raise the expectations of your audience – they might feel cheated if you fail to over-deliver. Beyond this, I have been told that it is very common for budgets to inflate over the course of regular development, something that you cannot really account for in advanced crowd-funding. Again, this may be wrong – it was what I expected but, of course, hoaxes prey on that.

Since the Kickstarter launched, Ron Gilbert left the company. I pout.

Broken Age: Act 2 will be released in early 2015 and conclude the Broken Age story as a free upgrade for everyone who paid for Act 1. This is nice but, while I could see an argument for Act 1 customers needing to purchase Act 2 in the era of Telltale episodic content, it only makes sense for at least Kickstarter backers to get the whole game. I mean, it was announced as a single title; it would be a supremely bad move to promise a full game and deliver a half of one (torn at an awkward point in the narrative no-less) only to ransom the second half a year later.

Thankfully, it will be free, not just for them, but for everyone who owns Act 1.

Source: PC Gamer

Raptr's Top PC Games of October 2014

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2014 - 11:30 PM |
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming

The PC gaming utility, Raptr, tracks the time its users spend playing titles and aggregates it into a monthly press release. Because its purpose is recording game footage, adjusting quality settings, and so forth, it is not limited to any specific catalog of games. It allows a comparison developers, publishers, and distribution platforms, as long as the average Raptr user is representative of that market.

raptr-caas-most_played_oct_2014.jpg

It should be noted that, because game-hours are the recorded metric, it is not necessarily a good experiment to judge sales figures from. It is weighted by the average session length per user and how frequently the average user plays it, and not just how many people use it. As such, it will probably over-represent MMOs, MOBAs, and other multiplayer games... unless you are looking for aggregate game time, which is exactly what this survey provides (and sales figures are bad at determining).

From last month, League of Legends lost a bit of share, down from 22.54% of total to 22.25%. The second place contender, World of Warcraft, jumped from 7.63% of total game time to 8.53%. This means that League of Legends dropped from being 195% more popular than WoW to being 160% more popular. World of Warcraft is expected to jump further due to its Warlords of Draenor expansion that released in early November. The October bump, reported today, was likely due to the pre-expansion patch and promotional events.

Diablo III, the other Blizzard title on this chart, lost three places (and almost half of its play time) this month. It currently rests above Minecraft as it dropped below Smite and Counter-Strike: GO and ArcheAge moved up past it. PAYDAY 2 and FIFA 15 represented the capital letters by jumping onto the list (back onto in PAYDAY 2's case) in 14th and 15th spot, respectively.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor are new games for October, and appeared on the list in 18th and 19th place. Both titles bumped Team Fortress 2 down to 20th place, almost spiting the Halloween promotion, although its play time increased from September.

Source: Raptr

Far Cry 4 Will Require Modest PC Hardware and Newer Operating Systems

Subject: General Tech | November 12, 2014 - 04:07 AM |
Tagged: system requirements, pc gaming, kyrat, fps, far cry 4

In case you missed it earlier this week, Ubisoft revealed the PC system requirements needed to run Far Cry 4. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and set to release on November 18th, Far Cry 4 is the latest action adventure FPS in the Far Cry series. The game uses Ubisoft's Dunia Engine II which is a heavily modified game engine originally based on Crytek's CryEngine 1 developed by Kirmaan Aboobaker. The player is a Nepalese native that returns to Kyrat, a fictional location in the Himalayas following the death of their mother only to become embroiled in a civil war taking place in an open world filled with enemies, weapons, animals, and did I mention weapons?

Far Cry 4 Kyrat Bow and Arrow.jpg

This bow is a far cry from the only weapon you'll have access to...

According to the developer, Far Cry 4 continues the tradition of an open world environment, but the game world has been tweaked from the Far Cry 3 experience to be a tighter and more story focused experience where the single player story will take precedence over exploration and romps across the mountainous landscape.

While I can not comment on how the game plays, it certainly looks quite nice, and will need a beefy modern PC to run at its maximum settings. Interestingly, the game seems to scale down decently as well, with the entry level computer needed to run Far Cry 4 being rather modest.

No matter the hardware level, only 64-bit operating systems need apply, Far Cry 4 requires the 64-bit version of Windows 7 or later to run. At a minimum, Ubisoft recommends a quad core processor (Intel i5 750 or AMD Phenom II X4 955), 4GB of memory, a Radeon 5850 or GTX 460, and 30GB of storage.

To get optimal settings, users will need twice the system memory (at least 8GB) and video memory (at least 2GB), a newer quad core CPU such as the Intel i5-2400S or AMD FX-8350, and a modern NVIDIA GTX 680 or AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics card.

Far Cy 4 Mortar.jpg

Anything beyond that is gravy that will allow gamers to crank up the AA and AF as well as the resolution.

Far Cry 4 will be available in North America on November 18, 2014 for the PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360. Following the North America release, the game is scheduled to launch in Europe and Australia on November 20th, and in Japan on January 22 of next year.

Source: Maximum PC

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Dated for December 11th

Subject: General Tech | November 12, 2014 - 03:23 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, final fantasy xiii-2, final fantasy xiii, final fantasy

It seems like Square Enix has paid attention to the criticism about Final Fantasy XIII. While it would have been nice for them to go back and fix the problems for the original game (Update Nov 12 @ 5:35pm EST: They are, in early December - Thanks TimeKeeper in the comments), it looks like the sequel, XIII-2, will behave more like a PC title. First and foremost, it will not be locked to 720p and it is said to offer other graphics options. The sequel is scheduled to launch on December 11th for $20, or $18 USD on pre-order (a few dollars above the launch price for Final Fantasy 13).

square-ffxii2-logo.jpg

Of course, it is somewhat disappointing that screen resolution, a 60FPS cap, and graphics options are considered features, but the platform is unfamiliar to certain parts of the company. Acknowledging their error and building a better, but probably still below expectations, product is a good direction. Hopefully they will continue to progress, and eventually make PC games with the best of them. Either that, or they have a talk with their Eidos arm about borrowing Nixxes, a company that specializes in enhancing games on the PC.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is coming to Steam in a month for $20 USD. The third installment, Lightning Returns, will arrive sometime in 2015.

Source: Steam

EFF Wants Legal DRM Circumvention for Art Preservation

Subject: General Tech | November 11, 2014 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, gaming, eff, DRM, consolitis

This is something that I have been saying for quite some time now: games are struggling as an art form. Now I don't mean that games are not art; games, like all content that expresses feelings, thoughts, and ideas, are art. No, I'm talking about their ability to be preserved for future society and scholarly review. The business models for entertainment are based in either services or consumables. In the entertainment industries, few (but some) producers are concerned about the long tail – the extreme back-catalog of titles. Success is often determined by two weeks of sales, and the focus is on maximizing those revenues before refreshing with newer, similar content that scratches the same itch.

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DRM is often justified as maximizing the initial rush by degrading your launch competitors: free versions of yourself. Now I'm not going to go into the endless reasons about where this fails to help (or actively harms) sales and your customers; that is the topic of other rants. For this news post, I will only discuss the problems that DRM (and other proprietary technologies) have on the future.

When you tie content to a platform, be it an operating system, API, or DRM service, you are trusting it for sustainability. This is necessary and perfectly reasonable. The problems arise with the permissions given to society from that platform owner, and how easily society can circumvent restrictions, as necessary. For instance, content written for a specific processor can be fed through an emulator, and the instruction sets can be emulated (or entirely knocked off) when allowed by patent law, if patents even interfere.

Copyright is different, though. Thanks to the DMCA, it is illegal, a federal crime at that, to circumvent copyright protection even for the betterment of society. You know, society, the actual owner of all original works, but who grants limited exclusivity to the creators for “the progress of Science and useful Arts”. Beyond the obvious and direct DRM implementations, this can also include encryption that is imposed by console manufacturers, for instance.

The DMCA is designed to have holes poked into it, however, by the Librarian of Congress. Yes, that is a job title. I did not misspell “Library of Congress”. The position was held by James H. Billington for over 25 years. Every three years, he considers petitions to limit the DMCA and adds exceptions in places that he sees fit. In 2012, he decided the jailbreaking a phone should not be illegal under the DMCA, although tablets were not covered under that exemption. This is around the time that proposals will be submitted for his next batch in late 2015.

This time, the EFF is proposing that circumventing DRM in abandoned video games should be deemed legal, for society to preserve these works of art when the copyright holders will not bother. Simply put, if society intended to grant a limited exclusive license to a content creator who has no intention of making their work available to society, then society demands the legal ability to pry off the lock to preserve the content.

Of course, even if it is deemed legal, stronger DRM implementations could make it technologically unfeasible to preserve certain works. It is still a long way's away before we encounter a lock that society cannot crack, but it is theoretically possible. This proposal does not address that root problem, but at least it could prevent society's greatest advocates from being slapped with a pointless felony for trying to do the right thing.

Source: EFF