Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: iD

3+ Hours of discussion later...

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The beginning of QuakeCon is always started by several hours of John Carmack talking about very technical things.  This two hour keynote typically runs into the three to four hour range, and it was no different this time.  John certainly has the gift of gab when it comes to his projects, but unlike others his gab is chock full of useful information, often quite beyond the understanding of those in the audience.

 

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The first topic of discussion was that of last year’s Rage launch.  John was quite apologetic about how it went, especially in terms of PC support.  For a good portion of users out there, it simply would not work due to driver issues on the AMD side.  The amount of lessons they learned from Rage were tremendous.  iD simply cannot afford to release two games in one decade.  Rage took some six plus years of development.  Consider that Doom 3 was released in 2004, and we did not see Rage until Fall 2011.  The technology in Rage is a big step up due to the use of iD Tech 5, and the art assets of the title are very impressive.

iD also made some big mistakes in how they have marketed the title.  Many people were assuming that it would be a title more in line with Bethesda’s Fallout 3 with a lot of RPG type missions and storyline.  Instead of a 80 hour title that one would expect, it was a 10+ hour action title.  So marketing needs to create a better representation of what the game entails.  They also need to stay a bit more focused on what they will be delivering, and be able to do so in a timely manner.

Read the rest of John's Keynote by clicking here.

Author:
Manufacturer: Quakecon

Event kickoff, hardware workshop prizes, packed BYOC!

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Yesterday marked the official start of Quakecon 2012 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas. This four-day event includes PC gaming awesomeness for more than 2,800 gamers in the Bring Your Own Computer LAN section as well as access to numerous gaming vendors and PC hardware exhibits. The event is sponsored by many big names in the gaming and PC hardware industry as well like Alienware, Intel, Ventrilo, Plantronics Gamecom, Cooler Master, Western Digital, and many others.

 

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The day got off to a rocky start as id Software co-founder John Carmack's annual keynote address was delayed by more than two hours. Hundreds of gamers also lined the hallways waiting throughout the day for the opportunity to get into the already packed BYOC. But, unfortunately many were turned away from gaming at the event. This is one of the first times in almost a decade that the BYOC area was filled to capacity on the very first day of Quakecon!

 

Continue reading our coverage of Quakecon 2012!

Raging through the wilderness; a traveller's guide

Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2011 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: rage, carmack, 60fps

The Tech Report have braved corrupted textures and .ini files to bring you a tour of the wastelands of Rage.  Once the NVIDIA fix was applied the low resolution textures that appeared and never left disappeared as the PC's caching power was finally put into play.  The review is mixed, for instance while it does have Doom 3 like monster closets it seems that you can actually see the enemies hiding in the cracks before they jump out at you, far better than the teleporting insta-monster of the aforementioned game.  Head over to see what their impressions of the game were after playing for three days.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior spends a few days in Rage's virtually textured wastelands, finding a solid shooter packed with personality and, after a little tweaking, truly stunning visuals."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Podcast #173 - Battlefield 3 System Build Guide, RAGE Performance Testing and Issues, Bulldozer updates and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2011 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: rage, podcast, nvidia, kepler, Intel, bulldozer, bf3, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #173 - 10/06/2011

Join us this week as we talk about our Battlefield 3 System Build Guide, RAGE Performance Testing and Issues, Bulldozer updates and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 58:56

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:39 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:53 MSI X370 Review: Fusion Hardware, Ultraportable Chassis
  6. 0:03:05 Battlefield 3 (BF3) System Build Guide - What you need to succeed
    1. Battlefield 3 Beta: Caspian Border Performance and Screenshots
    2. Battlefield 3 (BF3) Beta Performance: Quality Preset and SLI Scaling
  7. 0:16:10 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  8. 0:17:12 RAGE Performance and Image Quality Evaluation - Day 1
    1. PC Gamers Rage Over Numerous RAGE Issues
  9. 0:31:30 Panel Self Refresh; a new way to save power
  10. 0:36:11 AMD Bulldozer FX CPUs dated: October 12th. Shhh.
  11. 0:37:01 AMD Bulldozer FX Processor Benchmarks Leaked
  12. 0:41:15 More confirmation, NVIDIA is leading the 600 series with mobile chips 
  13. 0:44:05 Just Delivered: Asus HD 6770 DirectCU Silent
  14. 0:47:38 OCZ Technology Acquires UK Design Team from PLX Technology
  15. 0:49:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Join me at GeForce LAN in Oakland!!
    2. Jeremy: Buy RIM, please!
    3. Josh: I have one, and I like it:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835209049
    4. Allyn: power-over-esata to (22 pin) sata cables, cheap: here
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing

Source:

The good, the bad and ... ya that is just dang ugly

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2011 - 10:06 AM |
Tagged: rage, gaming, battlefield 3

This has been a busy week for the gamer and the game reviewer as we have seen the (partial) release of two long awaited games.  The first to arrive was the beta for Battlefield 3, delivered via a new delivery system called Origin which is like Steam only not as good.  The beta has received good reviews for the gaming portion but the game browser and the entire process to just get into a game has not, as you can read about at The Tech Report.  As reviewers we cannot just play a game however, it needs to be benchmarked for performance to ensure that you know what to expect in the way of framerates as well as how the image quality stacks up.  At PC Perspective we've also made some recommendations on the best parts to buy depending on the resolution you wish to play at, which has sparked a slew of comments on our choices.

Then, the long anticipated Rage hit and proved worthy of it's name.   Those who could manage to get past the many causes of the instant crash to desktop on launch were disappointed as to the quality of the Mega Textures that we were promised.  This has caused upset in many places, [H]ard|OCP providing some unfiltered feed back here, which is being reflected on many other sites.  Ryan went so far as to slow down game play so you can see the console-tastic texture fill rate as well as the incredibly limited graphics settings in his article on rage.

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Author:
Manufacturer: id Software

RAGE Peforms...well

RAGE is not as dependant on your graphics hardware as it is on your CPU and storage system (which may be an industry first); the reason for which we will discover when talking about the texture pop-up issue on the next page.

Introduction

The first id Software designed game since the release of Doom 3 in August of 2004, RAGE has a lot riding on it.  Not only is this the introduction of the idTech 5 game engine but also culminates more than 4 years of development and the first new IP from the developer since the creation of Quake.  And since the first discussions and demonstrations of Carmack's new MegaTexture technology, gamers have been expecting a lot as well. 

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Would this game be impressive enough on the visuals to warrant all the delays we have seen?  Would it push today's GPUs in a way that few games are capable of?  It looks like we have answers to both of those questions and you might be a bit disappointed.  

Performance Characteristics

First, let's get to the heart of the performance question: will your hardware play RAGE?  Chances are, very much so.  I ran through some tests of RAGE on a variety of hardware including the GeForce GTX 580, 560 Ti, 460 1GB and the Radeon HD 6970, HD 6950, HD 6870 and HD 5850.  The test bed included an Intel Core i7-965 Nehalem CPU, 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory running off of a 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive.  Here are the results from our performance tests running at 1920x1080 resolution with 4x AA enabled in the game options:

Continue reading our initial look at RAGE performance and image quality!!

PC Gamers Rage Over Numerous RAGE Issues

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2011 - 07:18 AM |
Tagged: rage, PC, id, gaming, carmack

Many of the PC Perspective staff members have been testing out RAGE this week, and were among the countless fans that had been waiting impatiently for id software’s RAGE (to be released) since the first Mega-texture screenshots surfaced of the first person shooter a few years ago. As the game finally unlocked (on steam) on Monday night; however, the game’s enemies were not the only thing catching fire. The Steam Users Forum started lighting up with numerous complaints, bug issues, crashes, and graphical woes and rolled into an uncontrollable wildfire.

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id Software's RAGE, when it's working

The major issues of RAGE include the trusty “CTD,” a crash to desktop, after the initial cut scene in the campaign as you emerge into the game world, screen tearing, mouse super sensitivity, and texture pop-in.  According to Maximum PC, Bethesda has stated that this error is caused when using AMD’s Battlefield 3 Beta performance drivers. I experienced this issue myself when testing out RAGE, and switching to these RAGE performance drivers fixed that particular crashing issue. There are also reports of crashing during other parts of the game; however, they are more varied than the previous crash issue and do not manifest themselves on all systems.  On the mouse super sensitivity front, using a mouse on in game dialog menus can be problematic as well. The mouse sensitivity seems to skyrocket, making it difficult to hit the “accept” and “decline” options compared to the mouse speed when using guns or walking around in the game world.  The same physical motions seem to be greatly magnified on the in-game menus, as shown in the video below.

The remaining major issues do not necessarily affect gameplay; however, they can be distracting and certainly can interrupt the immersion factor of the game. Specifically, there is currently a texture streaming problem such that when the player turns too fast (or at all in severe cases), the textures of the game “pop in.” What this means is that the game looks blurry and missing detail until the engine is able to “catch up” and present the gamer with the (correctly) detailed textures. Bethesda indicates that this texture lag/pop in problem is due moreso to driver issues than problems with the engine. It remains to be seen whether updated drivers will be able to fully fix the texture streaming issue, however. The video below shows the texture pop in issue quite well.

The texture issue is not only a PC issue, however. Giantbomb noted in their Quick Look of RAGE that the Xbox 360 version of RAGE also experiences the texture pop in issue, though not to the extent of the PC. Beyond texture pop in, the PC version also succumbed to screen tearing issues. As an example, when entering the Wasted Garage level, the left two-thirds of my screen became filled almost completely with a solid yellow color where the image was torn in multiple places. This image below is of another user’s screen tearing experience which was less severe than mine but still enough to cause problems in playing the game.

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GameFront is having RAGE screen tearing issues as well.

Finally, RAGE does not play nicely with FRAPS, which saw a massive slowdown in framerate when recording (much more than the normal dip experienced in other games). (UPDATE: the new AMD driver (updated Rage Performance Driver) seems to have fixed this for the most part.)

Some of these graphical issues may be attributable to the automatically adjusting nature of the game’s graphical settings as the game may not be able to cache/reuse textures it has recently loaded if the engine determines that the graphical settings need to be lower or higher, resulting in the engine needing to reload textures, and thus having what feels like lagging textures even in areas you’ve recently looked around. The extent to which it happens though is likely caused by a number of factors, that many hope a patch will mitigate.  On the other hand, Bethesda is indicating that the texture issue is not due to the engine but rather is due to graphics drivers.

Either way, gamers are not happy with RAGE and are waiting impatiently for drivers and/or a patch to fix the various issues, whichever the case may be.  It may be prudent to take a "wait and see" approach to the game before jumping in, if you haven't already purchased it of course.  Are you running RAGE right now, and if so what sorts of issues (and hopefully solutions) have you run into?  Vent your rage about RAGE in the comments below!

PC Gaming to Surpass Console Gaming in Revenue by 2015

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 22, 2011 - 11:26 AM |
Tagged: skyrim, rage, pc gaming, diablo iii, consoles, battlefield 3, batman

During a conference call with NVIDIA this week some interesting information from DFC Intelligence, "a strategic market research and consulting firm focused on interactive entertainment and the emerging video game, online game, interactive entertainment and portable game markets" according to their webiste, was revealed that paints the world of PC gaming in a much more positive light than previously expected.  By anyone's account, the coming fall and winter release schedules are going to be packed with fantastic releases:

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Several of these games, including DOTA 2, Diablo III and The Old Republic are going to be PC-only titles with others (like Battlefield 3, RAGE and Skyrim) that will without question look better and play better on the PC.  This sets up a great time for hardware companies like NVIDIA and AMD to sell system upgrades in order to maximize user experience in these titles.  

And while most gaming pundits have been telling us for years that PC gaming is dying, the report from DFC tells a different story:

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Based on revenue alone, estimates show PC gaming to surpass the sales of console games by 2014 with steady growth.  How can this be?  Have you stopped by your local Gamestop or Best Buy and seen the shelf space devoted to PC games compared to that devoted to the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii?

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Here is the key and it is something we have always suspected but haven't really been able to nail down: packaged sales are dying while digital distribution methods and new monetary game mechanics are increasing.  Because the industry's most prolific digital sales platform is notoriously tight with sales numbers (Valve's Steam), we have to depend on third party reports from DFC and others.  According to this chart, the digital sales of gaming on the PC are skyrocketing and will take PC revenues past consoles in just a few years time.  

One note here: this does NOT just include downloaded games in the traditional sense.  Instead, new pay models like the monthly subscriptions of World of Warcraft and "free to play" models that charge for upgrades and additional features are really going to be pushing the industry forward.  Looking at titles like League of Legends that claims 15 million PC gamers worldwide and others like World of Tanks and World of Planes, this trend is growing and though it differs from the "traditional" PC gaming mentality, it appears to be dominating our future.

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Many a PC gamer has lamented about the "console port" generation of games and this graph demonstrates how the power of the PC and the power of the current generation of consoles have diverged over the years.  By NVIDIA's estimates we are now about 8-9x the performance level of the Xbox 360 when compared to the GTX 580 that currently sells for about $450.  But if you look at the quality difference between something like Deus Ex: Human Revolution on the PC and the consoles, you do NOT see anything close to that kind of improvement.  Game developers have always had their hands tied by having to develop for the lowest common platform and while the PC market (when dominant) meant an upgrade cycle of 2-3 years we are now hitting a 6th year of static console gaming power.

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Unreal Engine

If we want to see games that look like THIS, a screenshot from the Unreal Engine Samaritan demo, then we need to boost the baseline and soon. 

But the numbers that DFC Intelligence provided give hope to those die-hards in the enthusiast and PC gaming community that with the expanding reach and positive growth of the PC market as a whole, developers will see this as their chance to move the medium forward beyond the status quo. 

Source: PCPer

Carmack Speaks

Last week we were in Dallas, Texas covering Quakecon 2011 as well as hosting our very own PC Perspective Hardware Workshop.  While we had over 1100 attendees at the event and had a blast judging the case mod contest, one of the highlights of the event is always getting to sit down with John Carmack and pick his brain about topics of interest.  We got about 30 minutes of John's time over the weekend and pestered him with questions about the GPU hardware race, how Intel's intergrated graphics (and AMD Fusion) fit in the future of PCs, the continuing debate about ray tracing, rasterization, voxels and infinite detail engines, key technologies for PC gamers like multi-display engines and a lot more!

One of our most read articles of all time was our previous interview with Carmack that focused a lot more on the ray tracing and rasterization debate.  If you never read that, much of it is still very relevant today and is worth reading over. 

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This year though John has come full circle on several things including ray tracing, GPGPU workloads and even the advantages that console hardware has over PC gaming hardware.

Continue reading to see the full video interview and our highlights from it!!

Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Introduction, PCPer Hardware Workshop

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The third and final day drew thousands of gamers and curious people to Quakecon's exhibition hall and Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) area. Some gamers were pretty weary from all-night gaming sessions, while others continued to press on by playing Tribes: Ascend, Rage, Team Fortress 2, and Left 4 Dead 2. Others took time out from gaming to make the rounds to various panel discussions with community managers from Respawn, id Software, Bethesda Softworks, and Insomniac and learn more about first-person gaming from  id Software's Tim Willits and other developers in the gaming industry.

 

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Each day started with Ventrilo's Rage Quick Drive drawing that gave gamers an opportunity to win $1,000 and tickets for a chance to win a brand-new 2011 Molten Orange Ford F-150 Raptor SVT, complete with the Hennessey VelociRaptor 600 SC upgrade package. Today's quick drive drawing started with Marty Stratton from id Software crowd surfing at the main stage in the exhibition hall.

 

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Continue reading the final day's coverage from Quakecon 2011!!