Warren Spector Returns to Game Development

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: system shock, pc gaming, otherside entertainment, night dive studios

Warren Spector helped create several classic video games, including Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock, Crusader, Thief, and Deus Ex. His most recent titles were Epic Mickey 1 and 2, which took the classic, mischievous Mickey Mouse and gave it fairly adult game mechanics. Following the release of Epic Mickey 2 in 2012, he departed from the games industry to teach at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Image Credit: His Twitter Avatar

Meanwhile, Otherside Entertainment was created from several Looking Glass Studios alumni. The company launched a crowd-funding campaign for a “spiritual successor” to Ultima Underworld, which they called Underworld Ascension. A year later, they announced that they purchased the rights to System Shock 3. It turns out that Warren Spector was interesting in joining this studio, because he just did yesterday (after being an adviser to them for years).

Yay!

According to his quote, via GamesIndustry.biz, he was lured by the opportunity to directly work on both titles. Warren Spector makes complex games, and adding his name to these revival projects should be exciting for those who miss the way PC gaming used to be. There really isn't much to say about this news; it's just promising to have one of the pioneers of PC gaming back in the industry.

A storage medium which will long outlast the readers and filesystem

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: laser, polarization vortex converter, voxel

Ever worry about long term storage of your valuable data but worry that tapes will rot, disks crash, flash die and optical media be cannibalized by the ink printed on them?  How about a process which should hold 360TB of data for 13.8 billion years at 190C and far longer at room temperatures?  Researchers in the UK have come up with a rather impressive technique for storing data for the long haul using lasers and optical media.  They are writing to fuzed quartz glass with femtosecond pulses of light to create three layers of voxels or an optical vortex if you prefer, which are created by the polarization of a vortex by firing that laser through nano-gratings.  Check out more at The Register.

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"Boffins in the UK’s Southampton University have devised a five-dimensional storage scheme using glass, femtolasers and a lifespan of billions of years, so they say."

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Source: The Register

Quantum Break Will Require Windows 10 (and DirectX 12)

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc gaming, DirectX 12

Last week, Microsoft announced that Quantum Break would arrive on the PC. At the same time, they listed the system requirements, which included the requirement of Windows 10. It will only be available on Windows 10 (outside of Xbox One). They also mentioned that the game would require DirectX 12, which made the issue more interesting. It wasn't that Microsoft was pushing their OS with first-party software, they were using an API that is only available in Windows 10, and it had the potential to make a better video game.

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Then they announced that it would only be available on Windows Store, which swings the pendulum back in the other direction. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

In all seriousness, we'll probably see games begin to deprecate DirectX 11 once DirectX 12 (or Vulkan) becomes ubiquitous. These new APIs significantly change how content is designed and submit to GPU(s), and do so in ways that seem difficult to scale back. Granted, I've talked to game developers and I've yet to have my suspicions validated, but it seems like the real benefit of the APIs will be when art and content can be created differently -- more objects, simpler objects, potentially splitting materials that are modified into separate instances, and so forth.

Quantum Break will come out on April 5th, along with a few other DX12-based titles.

Source: PC Gamer

All of your manuscripts will be illuminated with the SteelSeries Apex M800 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: input, steelseries, Apex M800, mechanical keyboard

The Steelseries Apex M800 uses their own QS1 mechnical switches, designed by Kailh and similar in feel to a Cherry MX Red switch.  It uses seperate processors for input and lighting, which allows you to get very creative when using the SteelSeries Engine 3 to program effects. It is also capable of recording macros on the fly, which you can then edit from within the software if you so desire.  Some users will also like the two USB 2.0 ports present on the keyboard, perhaps not for data transfer but handy for charging your phone or if you have USB powered toys on your desk.  Check out the full review including a video of the lighting effects over at Techgage.

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"SteelSeries has always been a heavy hitter in the world of peripherals. With a slew of highly touted mice, keyboards, and headsets, it looks to take things to the next level with the Apex M800 illuminated gaming keyboard. Does it have another winner on its hands, or are thousands of gamer nerds wrong? Read on to find out."

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Source: Techgage

More Tomb Raiding and a new bundle from NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 06:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, tomb raider, nvidia, bundle, the division

The benchmarks that Ryan ran on the new Tomb Raider game were popular enough that it seems worth giving you a second opinion, in this case from [H]ard|OCP.  They use version 1.0 build 610.1_64 of the game, along with Crimson Edition 16.1.1 Hotfix and GeForce 361.75 during their testing.  For 1080p performance they tested the R9 380X 4GB against the GTX 960 4GB which saw AMD's card come out on top with similar results when testing the R9 390 against the GeForce GTX 970 at 1440p.  At the top end the R9 390X and GTX 980 performed similarly in single GPU configurations with AMD beating NVIDIA in multi GPU tests.  They also tried the TitanX, Fury and FuryX in single GPU configurations at 4k ... it did not go well.

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Also worth noting is the new bundle from NVIDIA, if you pick up a GeForce GTX 970 or better GPU or purchase a notebook with a GeForce GTX 970M, 980M or 980 the you are eligible for a free copy of The Division.  Click here to redeem your code or to find out how to get one.

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"A new Tomb Raider game is out, Rise of the Tomb Raider. We take RoTR and find out how it performs and compares on no less than 14 of today's latest video card offerings from the AMD and NVIDIA GPU lineups from top-to-bottom using the latest drivers and game patch v1.0 build 610.1_64."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Samsung is showing off some very pretty displays

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, transparent display, ML32E, TO55F

TechARP just posted a video of two reflective displays from Samsung, the 55" ML55E mirror display which has 55% reflectance and 90% transmittance and displays at 1920x1080 and a 32" model, the ML32E.  These will be used in store displays for now, but soon you may be upgrading your bathroom mirror so you can catch the news while you shave, or your Netflix stream while you take a quick break.

They also showed off the 55" O55F transparent OLED display, again 1080x1920 which is 45% transparent and they claim is able to provide 100% Adobe RGB colour space with 98% DCI color support.  As with the reflective displays you will first see these as store displays but it shouldn't be too long before we will be able to get our hands on them.  You can also see the Samsung PR here, unfortunately it does not specify what material was used in the transparent display but one hopes it is sturdy enough not to have to be protected from scratches and bumps.

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"At the recently-held Samsung Forum 2016, we came across these really cool transparent and mirror displays that Samsung will be bringing to the market shortly. Take a look!"

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Source: TechARP

This new type of Resistive RAM can be flexible and transparent

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2016 - 06:53 PM |
Tagged: ReRAM, RRAM, aluminium oxide

Entirely transparent or translucent devices, which are also flexible are becoming less of a dream and coming closer to reality.  We have discussed RRAM quite a bit here on PCPer, most recently another teams research on creating transparent and flexible RRAM out of indium zinc oxide materials.  Nanotechweb have just linked to another set of researchers who are using aluminium oxide to design similar RRAM; great news as more research on the possible materials which will bring us the next generation of RAM the better.  Materials pricing is very important and as we move away from silicon the more choices manufacturers have, the less likely we will have shortages and prohibitive cost increases for production.  Pop over to Nanotechweb for an overview of this particular research if you are so inclined.

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"Among the emerging memories, resistive switching memory (ReRAM) in particular has attracted much attention in recent times owing to its fast switching, simple structure, and non-volatility. Flexible and transparent electronic devices have also attracted considerable attention for making future electronic devices."

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Source: Nanotechweb

Why can't we have nice things? USB Type-C can be as bad as the etherkiller

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2016 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C

USB 3.0 Type C cables have finally solved the strange physics defying issue of the originals and you no longer need to rotate your USB plug twice before it will connect.  Unfortunately it has introduced more serious problems, in some cases dangerous and expensive problems.  Back in November we posted about a Google researcher who found a variety of cables which did not have the correct resistor installed and which could release the magic smoke from your computer.  He is still at it and may be one of the only reasons to join Google+ as you can follow his findings there.  Unfortunately he won't be posting for a little while as the most recent one, a SurjTech 3M cable, destroyed his test equipment, including a $1499 Pixel 2.

Sadly it is not just cheap off brand cables you need to fear, Apple recently recalled numerous Type C cables which shipped with their products.  The Inquirer mentions a way to tell if your cable is definitely dangerous but this seems a situation where you are better safe than sorry.  Considering these dangers and the fact that in many cases the manufactures are actually using USB 3.0 cables with the Type C connection, it might be worth waiting on upgrading those peripherals.

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"APPLE IS the latest company to fall foul of the messy rollout of USB-C. The company has recalled a bunch of the cables that were official accessories sold separately or included with the most recent MacBook devices that eschewed USB=A and Lightning in favour of a single USB-C port for everything."

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Source: The Inquirer

PSA: Get An Additional 2GB of Free Google Drive Storage by Securing Your Account

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2016 - 02:56 AM |
Tagged: google drive, google, cloud storage

In honor of Safer Internet Day, Google is offering up 2GB of additional Google Drive storage space for free to users that run a security checkup on their accounts through this Google tool.

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Google will ask you to go through several steps to secure your Google account and verify your information. You will need to confirm your account recovery information and connected devices. The tool will also show you what applications and services have access to your Google account (for me it was only Chrome and Target's Cartwheel app). Further, it will ask you to set up 2-factor authentication and confirm that you still want to leave the listed app passwords active (app passwords are randomly generated passwords used in apps that do not support 2-factor authentication, such as Thunderbird).

After stepping through the security checklist, you will find an addtional 2GB of storage space in your Drive account. Note that native Google Docs do not count against your space, but uploaded copies of things like Excel spreadsheets and Word documents kept in those formats do. Get the free space while it's still being offered!

Also, I hope that you have already locked in your OneDrive storage space as well!

Source: Google

Fancy new Intel powered routers from Wind River

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2016 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: Intel, wind river, telecoms

The next dream of telecoms providers is network function virtualization, the ability to virtualize customers hardware instead of shipping them a device.  The example given to the The Register were DVRs, instead of shipping a cablebox with recording capability to the customer the DVR would be virtualized on the telcos internal infrastructure.   You could sign up for a DVR VM, point your smart TV at the appropriate IP address and plug in a USB disk for local storage.

The problem has been the hardware available to the telco, the routers simply did not have the power to provide a consistent internet or cable connection, let alone add virtual devices to their systems.  At the upcoming MWC, Wind River will be showing off Titanium Servers for virtualizing customer premises equipment, with enough processing power and VM optimizations that these types of services could be supported.

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"Intel is starting to deliver on its vision of x86-powered modem/routers in the home , as its Wind River subsidiary releases a server dedicated to delivery of functions to virtual customer premises equipment (CPE)."

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Source: The Register