Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2016 - 07:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, pc gaming, esports, DOTA 2
Every year, Valve hosts a giant gaming event called “The International”. While the prize pool is still being increased through purchases of the The International 2016 Battle Pass DLC bundle, it currently rests just below $19.4 million USD. The way previous years worked is that about a third went to first place, and the rest trickled down. Keep in mind that DOTA 2 is a team sport, though, so winnings don't all go to a single person.
Anywho, it will be a five-day event broadcasted on Twitch, Steam Broadcasting, WatchESPN, and YouTube. Owners of a SteamVR-compatible headset will also be able to view the broadcast in VR (which isn't just for The International, but this is the first The International to support it). It's not just projecting you into the stadium, either; it gives you a command center to see stats around you, or you can jump down into the map to see the battle around you “human scale”.
The International 6 begins on Monday.
Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 09:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ea, origin, pc gaming
EA's “On the House” promotion is basically a 100%-off sale, with the intent of periodically bringing you back to their store. Whatever you acquire is free forever, but you only have a handful of days to claim it. Even if you're not interested in downloading it at the moment, it's good to poke in, press download, and just not actually download it until later. Maybe you'll buy something, too, while you're there. Either way.
This time is Battlefield 4: Naval Strike. If you have Battlefield 4, but do not have the Premium subscription, then this is your chance to grab a portion of its exclusive content for free. As the name suggests, it includes four, navy-focused maps, a hovercraft, and a new game mode. If you've played 2142, you might remember the Titan mode, where you would capture missile launchers throughout the map to weaken a flying carrier, and eventually destroy it. Similar idea, but with an aircraft carrier.
Also, the Westwood-developed action RPG, Nox, is “On the House” as well.
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.