Don't trust your life to smartwatches quite yet

June 30, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
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On a charity walk that went from one end of the Outer Hebrides to the other a variety of fitness trackers could not decide on  just how far a distance was travelled.  Indeed it quickly became quite obvious that there were discrepancies as at the two hour point in the walk the distance ranged from 5.5 to 9 miles.  There were spots with no cell signal during the trek but more often than not there was a decent signal but yet the errors were not properly corrected.  The Inquirer's experience illustrates that at this time you should not consider your smartwatch part of your emergency gear to be used with dead reckoning and a compass as you could be literally mislead.  For now these devices are fitness trackers for the city and even then you might want to double check those distances if you are on a mission to cover a certain amount of ground.

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"An example of some of the wearables present on the trek were the Galaxy Gear Fit, Fitbit Flex, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up24, Galaxy Gear 2 Neo and the Pebble watch."

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Source: The Inquirer

Hey Forum Members! Any interest in a free XFX R9 280 thanks to AMD?

June 26, 2014 - 05:30 PM |
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That's right!  If you have posted to the PC Perspective Forums at least 5 times before June 25, 2014 you are eligible to enter the raffle to win an XFX R9 280!  Lenny and the Fragging Frogs have been given a gift from Warsam71 and AMD which will be given away to a lucky Forum member as a show of appreciation for the great community you have all helped build!  Each member can only get one entry (no bribes!) and in order for your entry to count you have to post a picture of your current rig to this thread right here.

The draw will be held July 11th so get snapping and post to the thread for your chance to win!

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"In appreciation of our existing forum members we are giving away a FREE XFX R9 280 Radeon Graphics Card !! (courtesy of Warsam71 and our friends at AMD)."

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Podcast #306 - Budget PC Shootout, the Coolermaster Elite 110, AMD GameWorks competitor

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2014 - 02:36 PM |
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PC Perspective Podcast #306 - 06/26/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Budget PC Shootout, the Coolermaster Elite 110, an AMD GameWorks competitor and more!

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

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano

Program length: 1:19:12

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Watch_Dogs; who watches the optimized code?

June 25, 2014 - 04:38 PM |
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Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have posted UbiSoft's reasoning behind the disabled graphics options on Watch_Dogs in this article.  The explanation they chose is a little bit disingenuous as performance issues are likely not the main reason the so called "E3 enhancements" were removed, though their point about Bokeh sometimes creating issues in seeing the environment around is well founded.  After all how can you have a long distance gun battle against distant blurry figures?  The more likely reasoning revolves around a standard practice for AAA games when showing off a demo at a show like E3, they polished the engine specifically for that specific in game demo.  By cherry picking one or more scenes and spending extra programming time to make it as pretty as possible they raise buzz about their unreleased game and hope to accrue extra pre-orders.  Unfortunately this rather dishonest practice has become a tradition for shows like E3, but on the plus side gives modders extra things to play with!

If you would rather watch frogs; or even better join them, make sure to check up on what they are doing tonight and Friday.

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"Good thing: Watch_Dogs on PC can look nearly as good as the (in)famous 2012 E3 demo that started at all, and it’s not even that hard to do thanks to some hidden graphics files that modders dug up. Bad thing: they were hidden. That certainly doesn’t look good. Ubisoft has an explanation, though."

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What could go wrong? Rooting Google's Nest

June 25, 2014 - 01:07 PM |
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If you have been holding off on purchasing Google's Nest thermostat because you didn't like the app that controls it or just were not overly interested in a thermostat that trys to learn your schedule; would you be more interested if you could root it?  All it takes is physical access to the thermostat and a minute with it plugged into a USB port on a computer.  Not only will this give you complete control over the hardware inside, you can also install an SSH server with a reverse SSH connection to bypass firewalls.  It will be interesting to see how these rooted Nest's can interact with other pieces of hardware released by Google with the "Works with Nest" branding.  Check out how to do this for yourself at Hack a Day.

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"A few months ago, Google bought a $3.2 billion dollar thermostat in the hopes it would pave the way for smart devices in every home. The Nest thermostat itself is actually pretty cool – it’s running Linux with a reasonably capable CPU, and adds WiFi to the mix for some potentially cool applications. It can also be rooted in under a minute."

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Source: Hack a Day

Would you trade your Macbook for a Surface 3 for $650?

June 24, 2014 - 02:38 PM |
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In it's latest attempt to not look desperate when offering the latest Surface for sale Microsoft will offer up to $650 off a Surface 3 if you trade in your Macbook Air.  The top end model of Surface 3 will have a Intel Core i7 processor and 512GB internal storage and cost you around $1950.  There are less expensive models available though it is possible that will reduce the amount of money you receive for the Macbook Air that you trade in.  Also according to The Inquirer this is not an online deal, you must be able to show up at a Microsoft Store in person to claim the trade in.   Will this be enough to help drive sales of Microsoft's hardware or will this incarnation of the Surface or shall it languish on store shelves like the previous generations?

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"Yes, you read that right. Microsoft has launched a trade-in programme at its US stores, where it offers customers up to $650 for their Macbook Air, which can be put towards a Surface Pro 3."

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Source: The Inquirer

In memory of Kernal_Tom

June 23, 2014 - 05:53 PM |
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It was a sad day for the Fragging Frogs last Monday (6/16/14) when we lost one of our own, Kernal_Tom, known in the forums as tlemaste. He passed away due to complications from surgery to address his ongoing health issues.  He joined the PC Perspective Forums and the Fragging Frogs over 12 years ago after running into Lenny at his day job.  They became fast friends immediately and Kernal_Tom's great personality and positive attitude ensured he quickly became good friends with all the regular Fragging Frogs as well ... indeed he didn't give you much choice as he was one of the most frequent participants in Teamspeak and gaming nights.

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Anyone who knew him and has not yet done so can leave their remembrances and well wishes for Kernal_Tom's wife in this thread in the Forums.  This loss has hit many of us and sharing your memories can be helpful and is very appreciated.  Anyone who wishes to help out his wife please donate to this fundraiser which Lenny has kindly started on YouCaring.  Carol is also unfortunately in a battle to maintain her health and anything you can afford would help her greatly in this next stage of her life. 

Show how much you miss Kernal_Tom and remember him the way he would want you to... by showing up at least once a week to game with a Fragging Frog!

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Some good news on competition for a change; SSDs may be getting cheaper

June 23, 2014 - 01:38 PM |
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If the information provided to DigiTimes is correct we may be in for a price war between SSD manufacturers.  We have seen price drops in flash memory, especially with the advent of TLC and asynchronous flash which have been heartily approved by most enthusiasts.  However there is a chance that in the coming months competition will start driving prices of SSDs down but may have the opposite impact on other products.  Micron is planning on reducing the amount of memory it sells to other companies in order to ramp up its stock of SSDs and SanDisk has jumped into the market with both feet.  You can also expect to see all the major manufacturers start putting out more M.2 drives as adoption of Intel's Z97 board grows.

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"The SSD industry is heading for fierce price competition as major suppliers, including Micron Technology, Intel, Kingston Technology, SanDisk and Samsung Electronics, are gearing up efforts to outperform others, according to industry sources."

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Source: DigiTimes

Gaming Evolves, a new and improved Raptr App is here

June 20, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
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AMD's Gaming Evolved app powered by Raptr has just undergone some changes that focus on those who like to show off their gaming skills and tricks with others.  Updates to their H.264 support now allow you to stream your gaming to Twich with no impact on your performance.  They've also added Game DVR which automatically records the past 10 minutes of your game play, guaranteeing you can save your best moments even if you forgot to start the recording manually. 

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The interface has also undergone an overhaul to make it even easier to use the auto-configuration features in the Gaming Evolved app to optimize your games graphical settings to ensure you get the best looking game your AMD hardware can give you without compromising your performance.  Currently there is a list of 204 supported games and the list is growing constantly.  They still make it easy to install and play Free To Play games such as World of Tanks and there is currently a sale on in the Rewards section where you can spend your accumulated RPs on top games.  Since you get 500 points simply for signing up and they stack up while you play games it is a great way to get your hands on new games without spending a dime!

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Source: Raptr

Origin wants to know if you will love them now

June 20, 2014 - 02:03 PM |
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[H]ard|OCP spotted a brand new feature on Origin called Game Time, which allows you to play a full version of a game for a limited time.  They are launching this feature with 48 hours of Titanfall, if you plan on playing make sure to clean up your drive as it is almost 50GB.  The clock starts to tick from the moment you first launch the game; from that point you have 2 days of access whether you play or not.  This is perhaps a little better than Steam free weekends for those with slow connections as your download time doesn't count against you.  Hop on for some Titan on Pilot action this weekend as The Fragging Frogs are likely to take advantage of this

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"It’s Game Time! This is a brand new program on Origin: it’s free time with full games. Origin Game Time isn’t a demo, it’s the full game playable for free for as long as there’s time on your Game Time clock. And we’re kicking off Origin Game Time with a truly massive experience: Titanfall on PC."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Now on Amazon: 1TB Samsung 840 EVO SSD for $399, ASUS PB287Q 4K for $649

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Storage | June 19, 2014 - 03:56 PM |
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A couple of really nice Amazon picks hit my email box today and I thought they were worth posting for our readers as well.

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1TB Samsung 840 EVO for $399

First, and clearly the most exciting: the 1TB version of the Samsung 840 EVO SSD is now selling for just $399. That comes in at $0.399/GB, which is actually better than the cost per GB of the Crucial MX100 that launched this month. If you haven't picked up an SSD that is big enough to hold all your games, this is the perfect opportunity!

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ASUS PB287Q 4K 28-in monitor for $649

Also, after our review went up at the end of May, the 4K ASUS PB287Q 28-in monitor is finally up for sale on Amazon for $649 with a shipping date of July 1st. If you think you might be interested in the universe of gaming at 4K, now is a great time to jump in.

Thanks for supporting PC Perspective!

Podcast #305 with Guest David Hewlett - Richard Huddy Interview, Seagate 4TB SSHD, SSD Endurance and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2014 - 01:20 PM |
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PC Perspective Podcast #305 - 06/19/2014

Special guest David Hewlett joins us this week to discuss our interview with AMD's Richard Huddy, the Seagate 4TB SSHD, SSD Endurance 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!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Maleventano and David Hewlett

Program length: 1:31:16

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

 

You got your FPGA in my Xeon!

June 19, 2014 - 01:19 PM |
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Intel has just revealed what The Register is aptly referring to as the FrankenChip, a hybrid Xeon E5 and FPGA chip.  This will allow large companies to access the power of a Xeon and be able to offload some work onto an FPGA they can program and optimize themselves.  The low power FPGA is actually on the chip, as opposed to Microsoft's recent implementation which saw FPGA's added to PCIe slots.  Intel's solution does not use up a slot and also offers direct access to the Xeon cache hierarchy and system memory via QPI which will allow for increased performance.  Another low power shot has been fired at ARM's attempts to grow their share of the server market but we shall see if the inherent complexity of programming an FPGA to work with an x86 is more or less attractive than switching to ARM.

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"Intel has expanded its chip customization business to help it take on the hazy threat posed by some of the world's biggest clouds adopting low-power ARM processors."

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Source: The Register

Sound like a pro with Blue Microphones' Spark Digital Lightning

June 18, 2014 - 05:45 PM |
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The Spark Digital Lightning condenser microphone contains its own DAC which means that all the signal processing is done before the audio is sent to the device which you are recording to or broadcasting from.  That saves processor cycles on a PC but also means you can use this with a phone and other mobile devices and still produce audio of a decent quality.  It comes with a shock mount and your choice of either USB and Lightning cords or USB and the old style 30-pin Apple connector.  You can control volume, gain and mute directly on the mic as well as switch on a Focus option which alters the bias voltage of the condenser capsule similar to a low frequency filter.  Check out Benchmark Reviews full look at this ~$200 microphone that can almost compete with studio mics bearing a much higher price tag.

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"The Spark Digital from Blue Microphones is an all-in-one solution for high quality digital audio production. All the signal processing is done inside the body of the microphone, and the interface to your computer is through one of several available serial connections. The Spark Digital supports USB 1.1/2.0, the relatively new Lightning connection, or the older Apple 30-pin interface, through the use of separate cables for each connection type."

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PCPer Live! Interview with AMD's Richard Huddy June 17th, 4pm ET / 1pm PT

June 18, 2014 - 05:08 PM |
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UPDATE: Did you miss the live event? Well, there's good news and bad news. First, the bad: you can't win any of those prizes we discussed. The good: you can watch the replay posted below!

AMD recently brought back Richard Huddy in the role of Gaming Scientist, acting as the information conduit between hardware development, the software and driver teams and the game developers that make our industry exciting. 

Richard stopped by the offices of PC Perspective to talk about several subjects including his history in the industry (including NVIDIA and Intel), Mantle and other low-level APIs, the NVIDIA GameWorks debate, G-Sync versus FreeSync and a whole lot more.

This is an interview that you won't want to miss! 

On June 3rd it was announced that Richard Huddy, an industry stalwart and vetern of ATI, NVIDIA and Intel, would be rejoining AMD as Chief Gaming Scientist

Interesting news is crossing the ocean today as we learn that Richard Huddy, who has previously had stints at NVIDIA, ATI, AMD and most recently, Intel, is teaming up with AMD once again. Richard brings with him years of experience and innovation in the world of developer relations and graphics technology. Often called "the Godfather" of DirectX, AMD wants to prove to the community it is taking PC gaming seriously.

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Richard Huddy will be stopping by the PC Perspective offices on June 17th for a live, on-camera interview that you can watch unfold on PC Perspective's Live page. Though we plan to talk anything and everything centered on gaming and PC hardware we have a few topics that have been hot-buttons lately we know we want to ask about. Those include the AMD versus NVIDIA stint with GameWorks, AMD's developer relations and the Gaming Evolved program, how AMD feels about the current status of Adaptive Sync (G-Sync like features) and much more.

We want to take your questions as well, which is one of the reasons for this post. Richard has agreed to answer as many inquiries as possible in our allotted time and to help make this easier, we are asking our readers to give us their questions and input in the comments section of this news post. We will still take live questions in the chat room during the event, but if your question is here then you have a much better chance of that being seen and addressed.

If the intensity of these topics wasn't enough to entice you to watch the live stream, then how about this? We have a massive prize pool provided by AMD that is unmatched in our live stream history! Here's the list:

  • 1x AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Graphics Card plus a power supply!
  • 1x MSI Radeon R9 280X
  • 1x Sapphire Radeon R9 280
  • 1x MSI Radeon R9 270
  • 1x HIS Radeon R9 270
  • 1x Sapphire R7 260X
  • 15x Never Settle Forever codes

Yup, that's all correct; no typos there. All you have to do is be on the PC Perspective Live! page during the stream on June 17th! We will be giving all of this hardware away to those watching the interview.

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AMD's Richard Huddy Interview and Q&A

4pm ET / 1pm PT - June 17th

PC Perspective Live! Page

How can you be sure you are here at the right time? If you want some additional security besides just setting your own alarm, you can sign up for our PC Perspective Live mailing list, a simple email list that is used ONLY for these types of live events. Just head over to this page, give us your name and email address, and we'll let you know before we start the event!

I am very excited to talk with Richard again and I think that anyone interested in PC gaming is going to want to take part in this discussion!

UPDATE: I know that some of our readers, and some contacts and NVIDIA, took note of Huddy's comments about TressFX from our interview. Essentially, NVIDIA denied that TressFX was actually made available before the release of Tomb Raider. When I asked AMD for clarification, Richard Huddy provided me with the following statement.

I would like to take the opportunity to correct a false impression that I inadvertently created during the interview.

Contrary to what I said, it turns out that TressFX was first published in AMD's SDK _after_ the release of Tomb Raider.

Nonetheless the full source code to TressFX was available to the developer throughout, and we also know that the game was available to NVIDIA several weeks ahead of the actual release for NVIDIA to address the bugs in their driver and to optimize for TressFX.

Again, I apologize for the mistake.

That definitely paints a little bit of a different picture on around the release of TressFX with the rebooted Tomb Raider title. NVIDIA's complaint that "AMD was doing the same thing" holds a bit more weight. Since Richard Huddy was not with AMD at the time of this arrangement I can see how he would mix up the specifics, even after getting briefed by other staff members.

END UPDATE

Source: PCPer Live!

Fly like an eagle

June 18, 2014 - 04:33 PM |
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Creative geniuses have found another way to combine the Oculus Rift with other hardware to create something new, in this case it is a bird simulator.  Strap yourself in to the device and use your arms to flap the wings of your bird body and lean to try your skills at aerial manoeuvring. The Oculus provides your birds eye view of the ground and there is even a fan placed in front of you to give even more immersion.  Hack a Day also mentions an olfactory component, it will be interesting to see how that was pulled off.

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"Have you ever dreamed of being able to fly like a bird? Sadly, we’re just too heavy with our solid bones and fatty tissues – but now there’s a simulator called Birdly which will give you the experience you crave."

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Source: Hack a Day

Get some help choosing your next mobile device

June 18, 2014 - 01:57 PM |
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If you are overwhelmed by the choice of mobile products on the market and are looking for a little guidance this article at The Tech Report is a good resource.  Their staff have picked out what they feel are the best mobile devices from tablets to transformer pads to full sized laptops.   You can choose between several models in each category depending on your budget, as the best solutions tend to be the most expensive.  The budget models are nothing to sneer at though as even on the low end mobile devices pack a lot more power than they used to.

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"Earlier this year, we revised the structure of the TR System Guide to focus exclusively on PC components. Our aim was to cover peripherals and mobile gear in separate articles. We posted our first standalone peripheral picks in April, and today, we're completing the set with our first standalone mobile staff picks."

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So Watch_Dogs Graphical Mods Didn't Take Long...

June 18, 2014 - 02:32 AM |
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The "PC Master Race" meme has some merits. Gamers who care about a title, given some technical knowledge, will often make it look better than the developers intended. Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV can both look better than most next-gen releases. Watch Dogs is peculiar, though, because it just came out.

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Both images, credit: TheWorse from Guru3d forums

TheWorse Mod for Watch_Dogs apparently started as an attempt to restore the bloom effects from the game's E3 2012 trailer. Since then, TheWorse has improved performance, reduced stuttering, and improved many other effects (such as adding bokeh DOF blurring). The end result is quite pleasing to the eye.

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Check out the Guru3d thread as it develops. The versions seem to by arriving frequently.

Battlefield Will Not Be Annualized Says Patrick Söderlund

June 17, 2014 - 07:54 PM |
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Last year, we got Battlefield 4. The year before? Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The year before? Battlefield 3. The year before? Medal of Honor (Reboot). We will not be getting a new Medal of Honor this year, because Danger Close was shut down in June 2013. Danger Close developed the two recent Medal of Honor titles and, as EA Los Angeles, many of the previous Medal of Honor titles and many RTS games (Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth).

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Many of their employees are now working at DICE LA.

So, when a new Medal of Honor title should be released, we get Battlefield: Hardline. A person with decent pattern recognition might believe that Battlefield, or its spinoffs, would fill the gap left by Medal of Honor. Not so, according to Patrick Söderlund, Executive VP of EA Studios. As was the case at E3, where both studios (DICE and Visceral) repetitively claimed that Battlefield: Hardline was the product (literally) of a fluke encounter and pent-up excitement for cops and robbers.

Of course, they do not close the door for annualized Battlefield releases, either. They just say that it is not their plan to have that be "the way it's going to be forever and ever". Honestly, for all the hatred that annualized releases get, the problem is not the frequency. If EA can bring out a Battlefield title every year, and one that is continually a good game, then power to them. The problem is that, with an annual release cycle, it is hard to get success-after-success, especially when fatigue is an opposing, and (more importantly) ever-increasing force.

It is the hard, but lucrative road.

Source: PC Gamer

Less than One Hour Until Team Fortress 2 Announcement

June 17, 2014 - 07:26 PM |
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TF2, the free-to-play dress-up game with a remarkably deep combat mechanic, is less than an hour away from announcing something. It, currently, is a countdown timer above a mock TV test pattern above an old-timey military control panel. That is all we know at the moment. We'll update when we find out what is going to happen. Personally, I expect that we will see a video and likely details about a large update.

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Apparently it is called "Love & War". It is a 15 minute video with an actual plotline. It seems to align with an update for between-team actions, like conga lines and square dancing. Also, there are few interesting achievements for doing those actions.

The real highlight has to be the video though. I've embedded it above. Take a quarter of an hour out of your time. It seems pretty hilarious.