Podcast #271 - Hawell NUC, MSI X87 XPOWER Motherboard, the Steam Controller and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2013 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: Z87 XPower, z87, video, steam os, Steam Controller, Steam Box, steam, podcast, nuc, msi, haswell

PC Perspective Podcast #271 - 10/03/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Hawell NUC, MSI X87 XPOWER Motherboard, the Steam Controller 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:24:00
  1. Batman: Arkham Origins keys anyone??
  2. Week in Review:
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Dual Power eSATA USB 2.0 Power combo to 22Pin SATA cable (on eBay)
    2. Scott: Teksavvy Internet (Not USB Hubs)
  5. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  6. Closing/outro

 

Fill out the Form Below to Enter for the Batman: Arkham Origins key!!!

Thinking about the Steam Machine

Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2013 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: steam, SteamOS

The Tech Report got to thinking about the future of the Steam Machine and how likely it is to be more like a line of PCs than a single console.  While some are currently awaiting a response to their request to participate in the beta, TR is already looking to the future of the Steam Box.  With the open source SteamOS and Steam's vast knowledge of the hardware people use in their gaming machines TR envisions a line of Steam Machines from a lower end model for light gaming on a TV all the way up to high end versions that will sport the latest and greatest hardware.  Can Valve be as successful at selling pre-built machines as it is at selling hats? 

Steam.jpg

"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior gets all worked up about Valve's upcoming Steam machines and explains why they're another example of the company playing to the strengths of the PC."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Podcast #270 - AMDs new GPU lineup, SteamOS, the Steam Box, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2013 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: video, valve, SteamOS, Steam Box, steam, razer, R9 290X, R9, R7, podcast, Naga, corsair, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #270 - 09/26/2013

Join us this week as we discuss AMDs new GPU lineup, SteamOS, the Steam Box, 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: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman

 
Program length: 57:42
  1. Week in Review:
  2. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: A pair of coconuts supporting a beautiful
    2. Jeremy: Portable OS
    3. Allyn: Remote Mouse
    4. Morry: AT&T U-Verse
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro

 

Steam Family Sharing Is Different From Xbox One

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | September 11, 2013 - 08:31 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, valve, steam

I know there will be some comparison between the recent Steam Family Sharing announcement and what Microsoft proposed, to a flock of airborne tomatoes I might add, for the Xbox One. Steam integrates some level of copy discouragement by accounts which identify a catalog of content with an individual. This account, user name and password, tends to be more precious to the licensee than a physical disk or a nondescript blob of bits.

The point is not to prevent unauthorized copying, however; the point is to increase sales.

SteamRequestingAccess.jpg

Account information is used, not just for authentication, but to add value to the service. If you log in to your account from a friend's computer, you have access to your content and it can be installed to their machine. This is slightly more convenient, given a fast internet connection, than carrying a DRM-free game on physical storage (unless, of course, paid licenses are revoked or something). Soon, authorized friends will also be able to borrow your library when you are not using it if their devices are authorized by your account.

Microsoft has a similar authentication system through Xbox Live. The Xbox One also proposed a sharing feature with the caveat that all devices would need a small, few kilobyte, internet connection once every 24 hours.

The general public went mental.

The debate (debacle?) between online sharing and online restrictions saw fans of the idea point to the PC platform and how Steam has similar restrictions. Sure, Steam has an offline mode, but it is otherwise just as restrictive; Valve gets away with it, Microsoft should too!

It is true, Microsoft has a more difficult time with public relations than Valve does with Steam. However, like EA and their troubles with Origin, they have shown themselves to be less reliable than Valve over time. When a purchase is made on Steam, it has been kept available to the best of their abilities. Microsoft, on the other hand, bricked the multiplayer and online features of each and every original Xbox title. Microsoft did a terrible job explaining how the policy benefits customers, and that is declared reason for the backlash, but had they acquired trust from their customers over the years then this might have just blown over. Even still, I find Steam Family Sharing to be a completely different situation from what we just experienced in the console space.

So then, apart from banked good faith, what is the actual difference?

Steam is not the only place to get PC games!

Games could be purchased at retail or competing online services such as GoG.com. Customers who disagree with the Xbox One license have nowhere else to go. In the event that a game is available only with restrictive DRM, which many are, the publisher and/or developer holds responsibility. There is little stopping a game from being released, like The Witcher 3, DRM-free at launch and trusting the user to be ethical with their bits.

Unfortunately for Xbox Division, controlling the point of sale is how they expect to recover the subsidized hardware. Their certification and retail policies cannot be circumvented because that is their business model: lose some money acquiring customers who then have no choice but to give you money in return.

This is not the case on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is easy to confuse Steam with "PC Gaming", however, due to how common it is. They were early, they were compelling, but most of all they were consistent. Their trust was earned and, moreover, is not even required to enjoy the PC platform.

Source: Steam

Origin Return Policy Announced

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2013 - 01:37 AM |
Tagged: origin, steam

EA wants Origin to succeed and they acknowledge some of their decisions hindered the distribution platform. They are fighting an uphill battle against Steam who are entrenched with both time and trust. Several years have passed since users felt Valve was forcing software into our taskbar notification area and, apart from release dates, their word is fairly... not demonized... unless it draws ire from some other fan-base.

It is usually the scrappy underdog to find new angles to compete from.

origin.png

Origin has the advantage of having a large catalog of first-party titles compared to its main competitor. Just announced, any EA game purchased on Origin is eligible for a full refund within the first 24 hours since it, the game, was first launched. This refund policy is limited to seven days after purchase or, if paid during pre-order, seven days after release.

Steam cannot easily compete on this ground. EA products on Origin make up some of the most visible entries. By far, most items purchases on Steam are not developed by Valve and should require intensive negotiations with multiple publishers. Meanwhile, Origin gains good faith with this policy and can suggest similar initiatives to third-parties content distributors as they sign on without any surprise.

After all users would, by then, expect refunds on Origin.

This is an interesting way for Electronic Arts to release control in exchange for revenue. I hope EA will continue to work with customers rather than fight them with horrific DRM and my-way-or-the-highway policies. Often the seduction of monetizing your control outweighs a rational assessment of how much resources you threw at acquiring said control. Consumers will accept you, just as they accept GoG, even if you are clearly interested in finances... just probably not if you treat them, your customers or potential customers, like enemies. I have said this before.

This is a good move along those lines. Work with your customers and more should come.

Source: Origin
Tagged: steam, origin, ea

What do they want Origin to be?

GamesIndustry International conducted an interview with EA's Executive Vice President, Andrew Wilson, during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2013). Wilson was on the team which originally designed Origin before marketing decided to write off all DOS-era nostalgia they once held with PC gamers through recycling an old web address.

The service, itself, has also changed since the original project.

'"Over the years ... there've been some permutations of that vision that have manifested as part of Origin," Wilson said. "I think what we've done is taken a step back and said 'Wow, we've actually done some really cool things with Origin.' It is by no means perfect, but we've done some pretty cool things. As you say, the plumbing is there. What can we do now to really think about Origin in the next generation?"

Fans of Sim City, who faithfully pre-ordered, will likely argue that Origin does not have enough sewage treatment at the end of their plumbing and the out-flow defecated all over their experience. A good service can be built atop the foundations of Origin; but, I have little confidence in their ability to realize that potential.

Wilson, on the other hand, believes they now "get it".

One assertion deals with customers who purchase more than one game. He argues that multiple update and online services are required and that is a barrier for users who desire a second, third, or hundredth purchase thereafter. The belief is that Origin can create a single experience for users and remove that barrier to inhibit a user's purchase. In practice, Origin ends up being a bigger hurdle than a single-game's service. It washes a bad faith over their entire library and fails to justify itself: games, such as Sim City, update on their own and old titles still have their online services taken offline.

What it comes down to is lack of focus. Wilson believes development of Origin was too focused on the transaction, and that lead to bad faith, presumably because customers would smell the disingenuous salesman. Good Old Games (GOG), on the other hand, successfully focused on the transaction. The difference? GOG gets out of your way immediately after the transaction, leaving you with just the game plus its bonus pack-ins you ordered, not DRM and a redundant social network.

Steam is heavily focused as a service and that is where EA desires Origin to be. The problem? Valve has set a high bar for EA to contend with. Steam has built customer faith consistently, albeit not perfectly, over its life with its user-centric vision. Not only would EA need to be substantially better than Steam, it is fighting with a severe handicap from their history of shutting down gaming servers and threatening to delicense merchandise if their customers upset them.

A successful Origin will need to carefully consider what it wants to be and strive to win at that goal. While possible, they are still content to handicap themselves and, then, not own the results of their decisions.

Steam Might Allow Shared Games?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: steam, DRM

You can learn a lot by scanning configuration, registry files, and so forth; many have made off with a successful bounty. Most recently, some Steam Beta users dug around in their user interface (UI) files to notice a few interesting lines, instructing the user that the title they are attempting to launch will kick off a friend it is currently being shared with.

Wait, what?!

Steam-UI.png

"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicense_Title" "Shared game library"

"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_OwnerText" "Just so you know, your games are currently in use by %borrower%. Playing now will send %borrower% a notice that it's time to quit."

"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_BorrowerText" "This shared game is currently unavailable. Please try against later or buy this game for your own library."

Sure, this whole game DRM issue has been flipping some tables around the industry. Microsoft tried permitting users share games with their family, utilizing about the worst possible PR, and eventually needed to undo that decision. Users would like flexible licensing schemes, but the content industry (including the platform owners like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony, who receive license fees from game sales) are unwilling to cooperate unless they are assured that users are honest.

Of course, what usually happens is honest users get crapped on and pirates enjoy a better experience, after initial setup.

While there is not much difference, from a high level view, between Steam and the proposed Xbox One, there are a number of differences. The obvious difference is Steam's offline mode, but probably the larger reason is trust. Valve has demonstrated a lot of good faith to their customers; where Microsoft shuts down access to content people paid for, Valve has shown they have intentions for both long-term support and consideration for the user's experience.

Ultimately, I feel as if DRM is not a necessary evil, but while it exists at least there are companies such as Valve who earn trust and use DRM both for and against users. I expect that some day, the industry will turn against DRM either willingly, by legal intervention, or because companies like cdp.pl will use DRM-free as a promotional tool and nibble their way to dominance.

And yes, despite the fact that this will be confused with bias: if you prove that you are untrustworthy before, you will get away with less later regardless of your intentions.

L4D2 Beta Coming to Steam For Linux This Week

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2013 - 07:25 AM |
Tagged: valve, steam for linux, steam, pc gaming, linux, l4d2, beta

Users of Valve’s Steam for Linux client will be getting access to the beta version of Left 4 Dead 2 later this week. The L4D2 beta will come with the new Enhanced Mutation System (EMS), which adds advanced scripting options to the multiplayer zombie survival game.

In fact, all Left 4 Dead owners will get access to the new beta release via the Steam client (not just the Linux platform) for free. The beta will appear in the all games list as a separate download from the main Left 4 Dead 2 game. It will allow beta players to connect to beta servers and other L4D2 beta users.

L4D2 Beta with EMS.jpg

The EMS system is the biggest addition to the beta currently. It gives developers access to custom script logic as well as custom spawn points and control entities. New maps, characters, and weapons are beyond the scope of the EMS, however.

Interested gamers should keep an eye on their Steam games list as well as the Left 4 Dead blog.

Source: L4D.com

Podcast #242 - AMD's new Richland APUs, Steam Box Prototypes, Seagate Hybrid Drives and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2013 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: Strider, steambox, steam, sshd, Silverstone, Seagate, Richland, quadro 6000, quadro, podcast, hybrid, APU, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #242 - 03/14/2013

Join us this week as we discuss AMD's new Richland APUs, Steam Box Prototypes, Seagate Hybrid Drives 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 0:59:45

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:01:30 Silverstone Strider Power supply
    2. 0:03:00 Richland Unveiled: AMD releases new A10-5750M
  2. 0:14:33 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:15:35 Steam Box Prototypes in the next few months
    2. 0:24:00 NVIDIA allegedly part Quadro 6000 GK110 card
    3. 0:25:30 Seagate SSHD Lineup
    4. 0:30:00 WebM now official with Google and support from MPEG LA
    5. 0:33:40 GF Actually Shipping 28 nm Product!
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:42:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Tranquil PC Intel NUC case
      2. Josh: Cheap and Pretty!
      3. Allyn: Automatic
      4. Morry: Edimax 150mbps wireless nano USB adapter
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Steam Box Prototypes Will Reach Developers Within The Next Four Months

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2013 - 05:26 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, pc gaming, gaming, console, big picture mode

In talking with the BBC, Valve CEO Gabe Newell revealed several details regarding the company’s upcoming Steam Box gaming PC. The console competitor will go up against Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 successor. So far we know that the Steam Box will utilize Valve’s Steam distribution service and its Big Picture Mode user interface. Valve will be manufacturing its own reference design, but third parties will also be allowed to construct Steam Boxes that will tap into Valve’s gaming library. Xi3 in particular looks to be at least one of the likely Steam Box partners to produce hardware.

Newell indicated that Valve would be sending prototype devices to customers within “the next three to four months.” The designs are not yet finalized, however, as evidenced by Newell’s statement that the prototypes would be used to gather feedback, and Valve is still working on balancing heat, noise, and performance.

“We're working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it.” - Gabe Newell in an interview with BBC before receiving an award for Portal 2.

Further, Valve has not yet determined exactly what it wants the controller to be. It will reportedly be shipping several different prototype controllers along with the Steam Box PCs. One area that Newell is particularly interesting in is in gathering bio-metric data -- such as heart rate -- and using that data to change the game experience for the gamer. This would be one area that Valve could focus on and have an advantage over other consoles. As a fully-fledged PC, the Steam Box could tap into existing bio-metrics technology and easily have the horsepower to effectively parse the bio-feedback. I can only think of a few situations in which such data would be useful (horror games, party/dancing/exercise games), but I do see it as being at least as beneficial as the Kinect was/is to the Xbox.

With that said, we still do not know much about the Steam Box. Much like the PS4, we still do not know what the actual hardware will look like (though we have at least been shown the PS4 controller). Pricing is also one of the major unknowns, and BBC reporter Leo Kelion quoted an industry analyst Lewis Ward (IDC) as noting that Valve will likely not be able to subsidize the hardware nearly as much as the other major console players (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) are able to. The Steam Box is inevitably going to be priced more in like with PCs than with consoles, as a result. On the other hand, gamers that buy a Steam Box can look forward to getting games that are much cheaper than the console equivalents. Give Steam Box gamers a couple of Steam holiday sales and they will easily make up the price difference!

What do you expect the Steam Box to be, and will it finally take PC gaming to the masses?

Source: BBC