Forget Skyrim, check out how Skywind is doing

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2016 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: gaming, skywind, mod

Of all the Elder Scrolls games many choose Morrowind as their favourite; the overarching story is similar to other releases but there was just something special about Morrowind.  The Skywind project have been working for quite a while now, bringing the home of the Dunmer into the Skyrim engine.  As you can see in the video that Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have posted the project is quite advanced with much of the assets completed and even new audio recordings.  They are currently looking for sound engineers, Creation Kit users, 3D modellers, texture artists and other creatives that can help bring Skywind to fruition; if you have the talent and the time follow the link from RPS to apply.

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"Skywind, then. It’s an attempt to re-build Morrowind within Skyrim’s engine, with re-build environments, textures, models and more. The latest update video shows just how far the project has come, while aiming to recruit more members to help finish it."

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Gaming

Testing the performance of 15 different Linux distros on Skylake

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2016 - 06:14 PM |
Tagged: linux, Fedora, ubuntu, debian, CentOS, opensuse, Antergos, Sabayon, Void Linux, Zenwalk, KaOS, Clear, Alpine, Skylake

Phoronix have just wrapped up a marathon benchmarking session comparing 15 different flavours of Linux on a system with a Skylake based Xeon E3-1280 v5 and a MSI Radeon R7 370.  They tested a long list of programs, from SQLite through OpenGL based games and multi-threaded ray-tracer benchmarks.  They wrap up the reveiw with a table showing all the results in an easy to see format for you to reference when choosing your preferred Linux distro.  If you know what tasks your machine will be assigned to, you can see which of these 15 distros will offer you the best performance, as not every Linux machine is used for the same purpose.

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"Succeeding January's 10-way Linux distribution battle is now a 15-way Linux distribution comparison on an Intel Xeon "Skylake" system with Radeon R7 graphics. Distributions part of this Linux OS performance showdown include Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, OpenSUSE, Antergos, Sabayon, Void Linux, Zenwalk, KaOS, Clear Linux, and Alpine Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Talking VR, Gaming and Cyborgs with David Hewlett

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2016 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: video, sol, David Hewlett, cyborgs

As a part of our Streaming Out Load 12-hour live streaming event, fellow geek David Hewlett stopped by to talk with us about his changing opinion on VR, what games he plays with his son and how our cyborg future is beginning.

Talking VR and the HTC Vive with Polygon.com's Ben Kuchera

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 9, 2016 - 03:18 AM |
Tagged: video, polygon.com, ben kuchera, VR, htc, vive, Oculus, rift

During our 12-hour live streaming event cleverly titled "Streaming Out Loud", we invited Ben Kuchera from Polygon.com to stop in and talk about a subject he is very passionate about: virtual reality. Ben has been a VR enthusiast since the beginning, getting a demo of the first Rift prototype from John Carmack himself. He was able to bring over the HTC Vive Pre unit to the office for some show and tell, answer questions about the experiences he has had so far, hardware requirements and much more.

Logitech's G810 Orion Spectrum for those who seek illumination

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2016 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: input, logitech, G810 Orion Spectrum, RGB LED

Logitech's G810 Orion Spectrum utilized their own proprietary Romer-G switches, they are non-linear with a 1.5mm travel and an actuation force of 45g; they also allow for an impressive light show.  The software which controls the LEDs is quite impressive, the Freestyle mode allows you to change the illuminated portion on everything on the keyboard up to and including the logo, media keys and even the three Lock keys.  You can read about how Hardware Canucks felt about these switches as well as watch a video showing off the RGB LEDs in their review.

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"The Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum includes multiple improvements over previous G-series keyboards, including the new Romer-G switch, RGB lighting and a simpler, more efficient design."

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10GBps of Non-Volatile Memory Express based storage from Seagate

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2016 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, PCIe SSD, NVMe

Seagate is rightfully bragging about their new PCIe SSD line up, the fastest currently available.  The drives come in two types, a 16 lane and an 8 lane model, using a standard PCIe interface.  The 16 lane version provides the full theoretical speed of 10GBps while the 8 lane model is less expensive and offers a mere 6.7GBps of throughput.  These drives are designed for enterprise usage but if you can afford the steep price tag which will come with these drives you could certainly using them for an impressive upgrade.  Check out more at The Inquirer.

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"SEAGATE HAS announced what the firm claims will be the world's fastest solid state drive (SSD). The 10GBps device is already production-ready and has been built to Open Compute Project (OCP) specifications, making it suitable for hyperscale data centres."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Cancels Fable Legends

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2016 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, lionhead, fable legends, dx12, DirectX 12

Officially, Microsoft has not yet shut down Lionhead Studios, but they have canceled Fable Legends. They “are in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK.” Press Play, another developer at Microsoft Studios in Europe, will be shut down as a result of this same announcement, but that studio only developed Xbox One titles, and so I'll defer to other gaming outlets to cover that part of the story.

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It's always unfortunate when jobs are cut, which seem certain given the closing paragraph of the Xbox announcement thanking them for their service. The weird part about this whole issue is how late plug was pulled in its development cycle. A closed beta has been operating for months, and a demo was shared with press as a DirectX 12 benchmark. The business model was supposed to be free-to-play, which means that it could potentially continue to bleed money after launch, but you would expect that concerns would have boiled over much earlier than now.

For our audience, this also means the cancellation of one of the expected, early implementations of DirectX 12. Lionhead Studios have also contributed to Unreal Engine 4 during the development of Fable Legends, particularly with shadow map optimization. I think their Global Illumination features, the main topic of the same article that was linked in this paragraph, were contributed upstream too, but I can't find an explicit source of that.

Podcast #389 - Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2016 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: WD, video, uwp, thermaltake, Samsung, reeven, podcast, Okeanos, Microsoft Store, HelioSeal, hdmi, freesync, dx12, Core X9, brontes, ashes of the singularity

PC Perspective Podcast #389 - 03/03/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, 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!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:32:49

    1. And the VLAN on Saturday!
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:51:40 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

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

Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party #12; Saturday March 5 10:00AM ET until the last Frog falls

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2016 - 05:25 AM |
Tagged: VLAN party, gaming, fragging frogs

That's right folks, it is time for another Fragging Frogs VLAN with fun and prizes for all.  For those of you who have not participated in any of the last 11 this is a perfect time to get to know a great group of gamers over the day and maybe even tempt you to participate in the regular gaming sessions.

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The rules for joining and being eligible to win prizes are as follows:

  • You must be a registered member at the PCPer forums (register here)
  • You must have a minimum of 5 forum posts prior to the start of VLAN
  • You must post to this thread stating your intention to attend the VLAN event
  • You must meet the eligibility requirements (if any) of the individual sponsors below
  • Your shipping address must be in the Continental United States or Canada
  • Lastly, you must participate in the VLAN event by playing games with us and having fun!!

It would be appreciated if you reply to this thread to confirm attendance, it also contains valuable information on our Teamspeak server rules and connection details as well as links to the threads that let you share your Steam, Origin and other accounts with other Fragging Frogs. 

This thread here contains the information you need on patches and mods for the games we will be playing and gives you an idea of the standard assortment of games we play.  Feel free to suggest others as well.

There will be prizes and giveaways but remember that the main point of VLAN #12 is to have fun and get fragging!

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Source: PCPer Forums

Microsoft plans to merge PC and Xbox gaming

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2016 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, windows 10, uwp, uwa, universal windows platform, pc gaming, microsoft, consoles

If my editorial from yesterday didn't get you interested in this discussion, then perhaps a new line of talking from Microsoft's Phil Spencer will do the job. During its spring presser, the company's gaming lead talked about a plan to merge the PC and Xbox gaming experiences with cross platform gaming, universal applications and compatibility for upgraded Xbox consoles. I found a great write up over at The Guardian that I will pick some of the quotes from and then offer up my views.

Now it seems Microsoft’s plan is to shift the entire development model towards universal applications that run across PC and console – indeed any machine that’s compatible with the Universal Windows Platform. This could have radical implications for the console model, which so far has always been based on the idea that the hardware has to remain largely unchanged throughout the machine’s lifespan.

Much like I detailed in yesterday's story, the Universal Windows Platform and applications are the key here, with the goal of allowing developers to code a single game or program that will run on the entire gamut of PCs in the world including desktops and tablets, as well as on the Xbox One game console. 

“In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven years or so,” said Spencer. “We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs.”

I am actually incredibly excited for the idea of more, and more frequently, updated Xbox hardware from Microsoft. Like it or not, with UWP or without it, consoles and their hardware capability have always been a somewhat limiting factor on how much effort game devs put into creating new games for the PC. If we can depend on newer console hardware, and that games will more ably handle newer, faster components, then it raises the ceiling for image quality, new features, experiences like VR, etc.

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“We can effectively feel a little bit more like what we see on PC where I can still go back and run my old Quake and Doom games, but then I can also see the best 4K games coming out. Hardware innovation continues and software takes advantage. I don’t have to jump generation and lose everything I played before.”

Expect to see some rolled eyes as you read this quote from Spencer; as PC gamers we already HAVE that capability and the move to UWP and UWAs is threatening to hinder that for us going forward. The PC has seen Steam, Origin, DRM-free gaming, an accelerated path to digital distribution, mods, overlays, benchmarking - all things that were held back or outlawed on consoles.

The Xbox chief ended his keynote by reiterating the importance of the PC as a gaming platform. He promised that UWAs will support multiple different graphics processors and that issues with V-Sync ( a setting that matches the game framerate with your monitor’s screen refresh rate) would be resolved.

Enabling support for different GPUs is a good promise, but much more important than just saying it is knowing HOW that support will be handled. As we saw based on our testing and research with Ashes of the Singularity, just supporting Radeon and GeForce cards isn't enough. What about features unique to each GPU? What about SLI and CrossFire? Variable refresh rate monitors? Enabling maximum performance with exclusive fullscreen modes? There is a lot to be answered and discussed. 

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Quantum Break will be on PC, exclusively as a Unified Windows App

This also marks the second time I have heard Spencer mention a "fix" for Vsync issues. I'd love to hear what they have in mind, and I have asked MS several times, but so far I haven't gotten any kind of solid answer. The real question is: does MS understand the problem and the gaming community on the PC well enough to even know what the problem is they are trying to fix?

The big question now is how onboard the development community is with the UWA concept. In theory, these apps should run seamlessly on top of PC and Xbox One architectures, with abstractions to exploit the graphics processors, system memory and other hardware features, as well as compatibility with Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API) for enhanced graphics performance. But will the reality match the promise?

"In theory" and "in practice" are two wildly different things, and we've already seen one example of this not going as planned. I do believe that game developers would jump at the chance to have true cross compatibility as long as the hiccups and issues we are discussing can be dealt with in a reasonable way. It just makes sense: this eases development hurdles and expands the possible customer base.

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Outside of Microsoft, it will be interesting to see how studios react. “In principle UWA sounds like a good idea,” says Byron Atkinson-Jones, a veteran games programmer, now running his own indie studio, Xiotex, and working on sci-fi puzzler, Caretaker. “It offers a more unified platform or environment rather than a fragmented operating systems running on an even more fragmented hardware base. However, this is all reliant on just how hard it is to develop for and how much of a closed shop it will become.

“The best thing about PC is that anyone can make a game for it and UWA sounds like it’s going to become a curated system that will probably require some developer registration to get on.”

Exactly this. The benefit of the PC is its openness, even when running on Windows (as opposed to SteamOS or Linux, for example.) If you take that away, will developers and gamers start to walk? 

Given that Microsoft is promoting UWP as a catch-all platform for Windows 10 that encompasses Xbox one, what does this mean in terms of support for the console’s hardware specifications? “As it stands currently, if you are making an Xbox one game you can be sure on what kind of hardware it’s running,” says Atkinson-Jones. “If developers are then forced down a UWA route, is it going to be the case that this certainty is gone and we get back to the situation on PC where you have to start specifying a minimum spec – which kind of renders a unified platform redundant?”

I disagree that having a minimum spec makes a unified platform less useful, it simply sets a standard for which experience and gameplay can be measured. Even Apple iPhones and iOS implement this to some degree and they have as locked down of a software ecosystem as you can get. If it's handled correctly, Microsoft could be the arbiter of hardware classification and certification, as they kind of already are with WHQL, making sure that any PC hardware or updated Xbox hardware will pass the test for previous and upcoming gaming titles.

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But that is a very difficult task and is likely why MS would like to integrate some restrictions through the API and Windows compositing engine to help them hold that promise moving into the future.

But he will have to convince not just gamers, but the development community. “Microsoft has tried this before with Games for Windows and that was a disaster,” says Atkinson-Jones. “There will be many game developers who had to go through that monstrosity shaking their heads in disbelief that history may just be about to repeat itself.”

Oh yeah, that...remember Games for Windows Live? Remember when it cratered and we had to deal with the fallout of some games not working without GWL servers running? Or just the complication of needing a unique sign-in that often tied the game down in unwieldy ways? That's the dystopian future that PC gamers want to avoid.

All of that being said, I'm still hopeful that Microsoft can turn this into a positive movement. Removing the 7 year upgrade cycle for the Xbox One means that PC gamers will benefit from moving specs on the consoles, giving game developers the ability to target higher end hardware as the platform evolves. I do believe that cross platform games will mean an increase in innovative titles with expanded audiences and more opportunity for developers to make money for their work. But all of this has to be done with more sensitivity to the PC ecosystem than it is being addressed with currently. If nothing else, PC gamers are a loud and easily started group.

Be sure you read the full story over at The Guardian!

Source: The Guardian