S.W.A.P. Is Free and not a Regular First Person Shooter

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2014 - 02:46 AM |
Tagged: free games, swap, arena shooter, pc gaming

Subterfuge Weapons Assessment Program, an obvious backronym for S.W.A.P., takes the first person shooter genre and removes the whole "damage" mechanic. Basically, shooting an opponent will have your character "exchange bodies". The point is apparently to prevent the enemy from delivering a payload to your base or put them into situations where they will kill themselves once they are at your position.

While I have yet to play the game, it is free. No micro-transactions, DLC, or subscriptions. They are using this project to gauge interest for a full, Unreal Engine release. It has an interesting art style, reminiscent of Unreal Tournament (1999) or the original Tribes. It could be worth a download, especially if you like old-fashioned arena shooters and unusual game mechanics.

Those are two genres which do not get mixed a lot...

EVGA PrecisionX 16 Now Available

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 26, 2014 - 02:03 AM |
Tagged: steam, precisionx 16, precisionx, overclocking, nvidia, evga

If you were looking to download EVGA Precision X recently, you were likely disappointed. For a few months now, the software was unavailable because of a disagreement between the add-in board (AIB) partner and Guru3D (and the RivaTuner community). EVGA maintains that it was a completely original work, and references to RivaTuner are a documentation error. As a result, they pulled the tool just a few days after launching X 15.

... and they have recently relaunched with PrecisionX 16.

evga-precisionx16.png

This new version, besides probably cleaning up all of the existing issues mentioned above, adds support for the new GeForce GTX 900-series cards, a new interface, an "OSD" for inside applications, and Steam Achievements (??). You can get a permanent badge on your Steam account for breaking 1200 MHz on your GPU, taking a screenshot, or restoring settings to default. I expect that latter badge is one of shame, like the Purple Heart from Battlefield, that is not actually a bad thing and says nothing less of your overclocking skills by pressing it. Seriously, save yourself some headache and just press default if things just do not seem right.

PrecisionX 16 is free, available now, and doesn't require an EVGA card (just a site sign-up).

Source: EVGA

HTC Making the Google Nexus 9 with NVIDIA Tegra K1?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 26, 2014 - 01:45 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, google, nexus 9, nvidia, tegra k1

The Nexus line is due for an update, with each product being released for at least a year. They are devices which embody Google's vision... for their own platform. You can fall on either side of that debate, whether it guides OEM partners or if it is simply a shard the fragmentation issue, if you even believe that fragmentation is bad, but they are easy to recommend and a good benchmark for Android.

google-nexus-logo.png

We are expecting a few new entries in the coming months, one of which being the Nexus 9. Of note, it is expected to mark the return of HTC to the Nexus brand. They were the launch partner with the Nexus One and then promptly exited stage left as LG, Samsung, and ASUS performed the main acts.

We found this out because NVIDIA spilled the beans on their lawsuit filing against Qualcomm and Samsung. Apparently, "the HTC Nexus 9, expected in the third quarter of 2014, is also expected to use the Tegra K1". It has since been revised to remove the reference. While the K1 has a significant GPU to back it up, it will likely be driving a very high resolution display. The Nexus 6 is expected to launch at around the same time, along with Android 5.0 itself, and the 5.2-inch phone is rumored to have a 1440p display. It seems unlikely that a larger, tablet display will be lower resolution than the phone it launches alongside -- and there's not much room above it.

The Google Nexus 9 is expected for "Q3".

Source: The Verge

Euclideon's voxel point clouds are rather pretty

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2014 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: euclideon, voxels, larrabee, point cloud

Could the next Elder Scrolls game you play look like the screenshot below?  Euclideon is working to make that a reality with their new voxel engine.  The engine is strictly CPU based, similar to the long dead Larrabee architecture but with one major difference, currently they are capable of rendering 2000x1000 frames at around 32 FPS on a six-core processor.  They are properly referred to as frames because this is a point cloud solution, not pixel based.  They generated the images in the video you can see at The Tech Report by rendering 3D scans of real objects and locations but programmers will still be able to create scenes with Maya or 3ds Max.  Euclideon feels that they can still get a lot more performance out of a CPU with software refinements and are not planning on moving to GPU at this time.  With two unannounced games using this new engine in development it might be time to make sure your machine has at least 6 cores so that you can be ready for their launch

outdoors.jpg

"We first heard about Euclideon back in 2011, when the company posted a video of a voxel-based rendering engine designed to enable environments with unlimited detail. This month, the firm made headlines again with a new video showing the latest iteration of is technology, which uses 3D scanners to capture real-world environments as point-cloud data. We spoke to Euclideon CEO Bruce Dell to find out more about these innovations—and about the first games based on them."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Podcast #319 - GTX 980 and 970, Noctua NH-D15, Acer's 4K G-Sync Display and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2014 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, GTX 980, GTX 970, maxwell, nvidia, amd, noctua, NH-D15, acer, 4k, 4k gsync, XB280HK, 840, 840 evo, Samsung

PC Perspective Podcast #319 - 09/25/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our GTX 980 and 970 Review, Noctua NH-D15, Acer's 4K G-Sync Display 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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Samsung Stops Selling Laptops and Chromebooks in Europe

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 24, 2014 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, Chromebook, laptop

This does not apply to our North American readers, although it is good for them to know. To our European fans: Samsung has pulled out of the laptop market, for devices running either Windows or ChromeOS, in your region. The company is not commenting on how many jobs will be lost as a result of this decision. Samsung is not halting operations in any other region and this decision "is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets".

samsung-chromebook.jpg

Parallels are drawn with Sony and its VAIO division, but this is significantly different. Sony sold its PC business to Japanese Industrial Partners who, in July, relaunched the brand in Japan. Samsung has not sold any division although there is rumors of upcoming restructuring. While Samsung will retain their brand and continue to develop products for the other regions, pulling away is always concerning for customers. It really could be a geographic anomaly, like Xbox was in Japan, or it could be a warning tremor. We simply do not know.

Source: PC Advisor

Plantronics updates their RIG Surround headset

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 05:24 PM |
Tagged: audio, plantronics, RIG Surround

It feels like a while since Plantronics released a new headset into the currently crowded marketplace but the 2014 version of the Plantronics RIG Surround has some interesting changes from the previous model.  The RIG Surround mixer used to be a simple volume and balance control but has now been upgraded to what is essentially an external soundcard with extra functionality.  It is best used with a cellphone as the mixer can give you better sound from your cellphone as well as enabling you apply EQ profiles and answer your phone with a single button push.  When connected to a PC the lack of an analog passthrough means that the sound you hear will be dependant on the mixer and not the soundcard in the PC which can reduce the audio quality somewhat but you can bypass it and plug the RIG directly into your PC to enjoy the full capabilities of the headset.  The microphone is removable for when you do not need it which also helps portability.  Check out Legit Reviews opinion on the new version of the RIG right here.

rig_surround_16-645x430.jpg

"We are very excited to be taking an early look at the upcoming Plantronics RIG Surround. It’s not only because Plantronics has a stellar reputation, but because we’ve had great firsthand experiences with their other gaming headsets. The Plantronics RIG Surround primarily consists of two components – a headset and an external sound card called the RIG mixer that also allows gamers to attach their smartphone and use the setup like a home call center."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Requirements Listed

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: wow, blizzard

When software has been supported and maintained for almost ten years, like World of Warcraft, it is not clear whether the worst compatible machine at launch should remain supported or whether the requirements should increase over time. For instance, when Windows XP launched, the OS was tuned for 128MB of RAM. Later updates made it be highly uncomfortable with anything less than a whole gigabyte. For games though, we mostly pretend that they represent the time that they were released.

blizzard-battlenet-real01.jpg

That mental model does not apply to World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. While technically this is an expansion pack, its requirements jumped again (significantly if compared to the original release). Even the first expansion pack, Burning Crusade, was able to run on a GeForce 2. Those cards were bundled with the original Unreal Tournament, which was a relatively new game at the time that the GeForce 2 was released.

Now? Well the minimum is:

  • Windows XP or later.
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT, AMD Radeon HD 4850), or Intel HD Graphics 3000.
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 35GB HDD

And the recommended is:

  • Windows 7 or 8 (x86-64)
  • Intel Core i5 2400 or AMD FX-4100
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 or AMD Radeon HD 5870
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 35GB HDD

World of Warcraft, and other MMORPGs, might get a pass on this issue. With its subscription model, there is not really an expectation that a user can go back and see the game in the same state as it launched. It is not a work, but a service -- and that does not devalue its artistic merits. It just is not really the same game now that it was then.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor will launch on November 13th.

Source: Blizzard

Oculus Rift Crescent Bay, hinting at what the consumer model will look like

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus connect, crescent bay, gaming

If you haven't had a chance to listen to it, Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has linked to the Keynote Panel of John Carmack, Palmer Luckey and several others presented during the Oculus Connect event.  They also give you a few insights into their experience with the new Crescent Bay prototype which features “new display technology, 360° head tracking, expanded positional tracking volume, dramatically improved weight and ergonomics, and high-quality integrated audio.”  They were not the only ones who were playing with the new device, Polygon has both a video and a write up on their chance to use the new model, which is likely to be the last one revealed before the final consumer release.  Unfortunately there is not yet a date as to when that will happen so for now try to make friends with someone who has a Dev Kit 2 model.

The Fragging Frogs are still working towards the next major gamign event but that doesn't mean you can't play with them, there are still official pick up games every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and you can find members online almost all the time.

oculusriftcrescent.jpg

"The new kit was available to play at Oculus Connect, with a new set of demos designed to show off the increased sense of “presence” provided by the device. If that word sounds familiar, that’s because that’s what Valve called it when they worked on their own VR prototype. Michael Abrash, now at Oculus, headed that team at Valve."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Cheap laptops are expected to cut into mobile GPU sales

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, hp, dell, asus, acer, toshibe, mobile gpu

The growing market of low cost $200 to $400 10" to 15" laptops is expected to cut into the sales of AMD and NVIDIA's mobile GPUs as they are forced to focus more on higher end models.  That is a much smaller market and the margins generally favour the laptop vendor as opposed to the company providing the mobile GPU.  This will be felt more strongly by NVIDIA as AMD's APU lineup will appear in the smaller and less expensive notebooks but will still have an effect on AMD's bottom line over the coming quarters.  DigiTimes also mentioned that AMD's R9 390X is due out in the first half of 2015 and that both companies are currently reducing the price of their GPUs in the hopes of increasing their sales volumes on the desktop.

55-6101-mobile_gpu_600.jpg

"Notebook vendors including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell, Lenovo, Asustek Computer, Acer and Toshiba, will launch low-cost models with CPUs with integrated graphics in the fourth quarter of 2014 and therefore AMD and Nvidia are expected to see demand for their discrete mobile GPUs decrease, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Excuse Me, Your SLI Is Glowing

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 24, 2014 - 02:41 AM |
Tagged: sli, nvidia

SLI Bridges are thrown in with compatible motherboards and there is usually little reason to want anything else. They work. There is no performance advantage for getting a "better" one, unless it does not connect with your specific arrangement of two-to-four cards. Today, NVIDIA gives another reason: a soft, beautiful glow to match the green "GeForce GTX" on the cards themselves.

nvidia-sli-bridge.png

Mind you, this is not the first glowing SLI Bridge. EVGA even provided us with a few of their own for a giveaway last year.

NVIDIA has three models, depending on the layout of your cards. 3-way SLI will need to be arranged as a series of two-wide with no gaps, using the "3-Way SLI Bridge". 2-way configurations have the choice of two empty slots between the two-wide cards, or no gap; former would purchase the "2-Way Spaced SLI Bridge" and the later, the "2-Way SLI Bridge". They each require GeForce GTX 770 cards, or better, as well as a recent GeForce Experience (1.7+). Certain non-reference designs may be incompatible.

The SLI Bridges are available now. Both 2-Way bridges are $29.99 and the 3-Way is $39.99.

Source: NVIDIA

Tranquil MonoOne Is a Fanless All-in-One

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 23, 2014 - 08:34 PM |
Tagged: transquil, monoone, all-in-one, fanless

This announcement does not have too much information to go on, but Tranquil PC is launching their MonoOne all-in-one PC at the end of the month. It will be fanless and milled out of solid aluminum. This solid chunk of metal helps keep the device cool. It is a large mass of metal with fins cut out of it for extra surface area.

tranquil-monoone.png

Specifications are not listed. We do not even know the screen resolution, processor, drive, I/O ports, or RAM. Current speculation is that it will use a low power Core-level CPU. It looks like it has a removable metal stand and a VESA mount for the wall. In fact, it looks like the stand is attached by the bottom two wall-mount points but I cannot see for sure.

The MonoOne launches at the end of September.

Source: Tranquil

UPS Store Expands 3D Printing Services

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2014 - 06:35 PM |
Tagged: ups, ups store, 3d printer, 3d printing

If you have a few 3D objects that you would like to make physical, it might not make sense to purchase a whole MakerBot Replicator or equivalent device. To print, fax, and copy shops, the third dimension seemed like a natural extension to their business model (because it literally an upward extension on their previous service).

UPS_store_logo.gif

Image Credit: Wikipedia

One such retailer is The UPS Store, and they just announced that their six-location test was successful. They are now expanding to "nearly 100 additional locations nationwide". Their "Find a Location" page currently lists 45 locations which, I assume, will be appended as more stores setup with the required hardware and training.

Unfortunately, being Canadian, I cannot utilize any of these yet. I could see this being mostly useful, for me, if I wanted to print out an original 3D figurine or sculpture as a gift. Others could make replacement parts and so forth.

UPS Store has not given a timeline to complete this rollout.

Source: UPS

Blizzard Cancels Their MMO, Titan

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2014 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: blizzard, titan, MMO, mmorpg

Titan has been officially canceled by Blizzard after a year and a half delay. Since around May of 2013, the developer attempted to "reset" the project by shrinking its staff down to a core group of thirty, down from a hundred. This team wanted Titan to embody their wildest ambitions, but they realized that it was not going to be fun. "Fun" is not the goal of every game, nor should it be.

Blizzard.jpg

If "fun" was the intention though, and it isn't, then you have a problem.

As for the employees, there does not seem to be any discussion of lay-offs. 16 months ago, when the team was downsized from 100 to 30, Blizzard claimed that its staff would be reassigned to other projects. The smaller, core team is not mentioned today at all, positively or negatively. Whether that is a good sign, and why it never came up in the inteview, is still unknown. Hopefully they will be transferred to an existing game or service, or work on a different, new product.

Source: Polygon

If you like DisplayPort 1.3 wait until you meet USB 3.1

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2014 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: 4k, vesa, dockport, displayport 1.3, usb 3.1, DisplayPort Alternate Mode

The bilateral symmetry of the Type C plug has already put smiles on many faces, not having to flip the USB connector three times to find the right plug orientation will be a nice treat and steal some thunder from Apple's Lightning.  That is not all that USB 3.1 will be bringing however, 10Gbps of data throughput and up to 100W on a single cable have also been announced as part of the new standards capabilities.  There is something new today as well, support for DisplayPort over USB 3.1 which will perhaps only be available over specialized cables but could become a standard feature. 

reversible-usb-3-1-540x334.png

DisplayPort Alternate Mode takes advantage of the nature of USB 3.1 which offers four lanes for traffic to pass through, with a choice of USB data at up to 10Gbps per lane, up to 100W of power, DisplayPort AV at up to 8.1Gbps or at DP 1.2a speeds of 5.4Gbps which is likely the top speed on the first cables released.   For those initial cables you will need all four available lanes to be able to display at 4k resolutions but once the speed is increased to 1.3's 8.1Gbps you should be able to see VESA's promise of 4k video, Superspeed USB data and up to 100 Watts of power over a single cable.  Even when all four lanes are devoted to DisplayPort to run 5k video the cable will still support USB 2.0 speeds thanks yo separate pins dedicated for that function.

DisplayPortAltMode.jpg

"The new Type C USB connector is causing a lot of excitement, thanks in part to its reversibility (you can plug it in either way up) and high rates of data and power transfer. But there's now another reason to buy into in: DisplayPort support."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: VESA

Sleeping Dogs Developer's Triad Wars Is PC Exclusive

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 11:43 PM |
Tagged: united front, triad wars, square enix, sleeping dogs

Triad Wars, set in the Sleeping Dogs universe, takes the setting into an online "open-world" game that is exclusively for the PC. United Front, the developer of both Sleeping Dogs and this title, is said to be partnering with Nexon to make it a free-to-play game, at least last we heard. Suddenly, PC-exclusivity makes a lot of sense. The game is currently in closed beta, which they are accepting applications for, but it is set to launch in 2015.

The most weird part, to me at least, is that Square Enix is still involved with the title and Nexon is mentioned nowhere (outside of the aforementioned statement by United Front's CEO's from last June). United Front is definitely the developer, okay, but how are the other two companies involved, specifically? Did Nexon get pushed out? How is Square involved, other than hosting the accounts? No clue. Perhaps this will be answered in tomorrow's Reddit AMA. We'll see.

Triad Wars is expected to be Free-to-Play and officially launch in 2015.

Source: United Front

ASUS and Robert Morris University Partner for "eSports"

Subject: General Tech, Displays | September 22, 2014 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: esports, asus, vg248qe

I am a little torn about the term "eSports". Yes, I've used it. It is the accepted name. According to the definition, it mostly fits its role. Grammar and language are also fluid concepts, too. They can mean different things as time passes. I guess my real problem is that it attempts to snuggle up to "sports" for acceptance, but maintains a single-letter divider (unlike golf and, to some extent, curling). In my opinion, it is either a sport or it is something else entirely (a game, maybe?).

riot-lol-logo.jpg

Apparently they support StarCraft, too.

Also, it should be considered legitimate. Spectator sports are for entertainment, and "eSports" are entertaining to watch. Sure, it is not for everyone -- but neither is any other sport.

Two organizations that do consider it legitimate is ASUS and Robert Morris University (RMU). The college has recently announced scholarships for the top League of Legends players. After all, a sports scholarship is just an advertisement expense from the university's view. That applies to any sports scholarship. The point is to lure students to your campus and spectators to sporting events. Consistent winnings and great players gets your name out there on both fronts. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as they uphold a high standard of education, too.

Today's news is that ASUS partnered with RMU to provide "over three dozen" monitors to the university. Specifically, the VG248QE 24-inch, 144Hz display. This is almost $10,000 USD of hardware at current retail price. The press release is unclear whether ASUS donated the panels, or if they were sold at a discount. I reached out to the university over Twitter for clarification.

Honestly, I find this interesting and an innovative extension on old practices.

Source: ASUS

Grand Theft Auto V on PC Has First Person Mode???

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: GTA5

gta5-lossantos.jpg

So... uh... this might happen. Apparently, there was a Google Cache posting of a Rockstar Games support page which claimed several new features for Grand Theft Auto V on the PC.

A brand new first person mode for vehicles that shows the interior of the vehicle, including working speedometers, tachometers, dash lights, and more

(...)

A brand new first person mode while on foot

The most weird part is that it was listed in a part of the page, unfortunately deleted from Google Cache, that seemed to list PC-exclusive features. That is, not exclusive to the re-release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC -- just exclusive to the PC. This is, of course, going by memory. I could have misread it the first time, before it was deleted.

Also, since no-one seems to have seen the page outside of Google Cache, it could have (somehow) been a faked injection. I can confirm that it existed on Google Cache from a Rockstar-owned URL, though. I've never heard of that happening before, but PC Gamer seems to have heard of it.

Hey, if that list was the reason for the delay, I'll take it, Rockstar. I don't approve of the other platforms getting an inferior experience without a technical reason, being a PC gamer for so long makes me empathetic, but maybe it will come to them. Often PC versions were cut down and delayed out of fear of development costs and piracy. Maybe, in this case, they took that time to make a better product. That would be novel.

Grand Theft Auto V for the PC is coming on January 27th, 2014 2015.

Source: PC Gamer

Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2, and Lightning Returns Comes to PC

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, final fantasy xv, final fantasy xiii, final fantasy

Square Enix is "very interested" in the PC platform. They acknowledge that the Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII Steam re-releases were quite popular. These titles were originally released on the PC in 1998 and 2000, respectively. They are now interested enough to bring the three titles in the Final Fantasy XIII universe to Steam that were Xbox 360 and PS3 exclusives. Also, the first title is launching for $16, $14.39 on pre-order, so they are not even gouging us with a full-price tag.

square-final-fantasy-xiii.jpg

The first title will be available in two and a half weeks (October 9th). The other two are expected to roll out by Spring 2015. Also, Final Fantasy IV was released on September 17th. They are actually releasing them faster than most people can probably play them. The flood gates are open. In their Final Fantasy XIII news post, PC Gamer muses about the rest of the franchise reaching the PC, such as FFX and FFX-2. It would make sense. I mean, they released (or are working on) seven remakes, not even counting the two MMOs. That is already a large chunk of the main franchise.

Personally, I wonder if this is testing the waters for Final Fantasy XV.

Final Fantasy XIII is being released on October 9th for about $15, give or take a dollar.

Source: PC Gamer

Google+ Not Required for Google Accounts Anymore

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: google, google+

I cannot help but feel like this is a step on the eventual phasing-out of Google's most recent attempt at a standalone social network, Google+. Until just recently, the company was doing all that they could to force it into each of their services; now, they give you a "no thanks" option when creating a Google account (for GMail, Google Docs, and so forth).

google-plus-integration.jpeg

Image Credit: Marketing Land

Marketing Land claims to disagree. They expect that Google will "continue making subtle changes to the service" such as enhancements to Hangouts and Hangouts on Air, or even spinning out Google+ Photos. The thing is, these initiatives will not mean that they are supporting Google+; rather, it says that they are supporting the parts of it that worked. The article did not even mention actual Google+, the social network, as something that Google might consider updating -- just Hangouts and other sub-products.

This all depends on what you consider "Google" to be. Not having a profile on a message-sharing service does not really change much, despite how it feels. The real point should be reducing the barrier-to-entry for cross-promotion. A unified login helps in reducing effort to acquire new users without any real risk. Forcing users into your ecosystem could help, if it does not shove them away.

And Google seems to care even less about keeping users in their eco-system with a limited communication and microblogging platform.