Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 03:03 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, valve, SteamOS, hsa foundation, hsa
Valve may very well produce one of the near future's most popular non-mobile, consumer, Linux distributions. SteamOS will be marketed for gaming PCs (some very compelling ones at that) starting next year. CES will definitely be interesting. With such a popular distribution, and as an existing member of the Khronos Group, it makes sense for Valve to join the Linux Foundation... and they just did.
It is still unknown to what extent Valve joined Linux (members are classified by level of contribution from Platinum to Silver) and we likely will not know until their list is updated. While they probably will not be hanging out with Intel and others in the platinum category, Silver is not the most noteworthy of statuses... alongside Barnes and Noble (likely because of the Nook) and Twitter.
Another addition is the HSA Foundation. AMD is already a Gold member (y'know... HSA's faja) and ARM is Silver so I cannot see HSA being much more than that. Still, Linux will be an important focus for the heterogeneous computing architectures to endorse: both in terms of back-end server optimization and customer-facing devices.
Of course I am not belittling any contribution. Still, there is that desire to see Valve lead the pack. Ultimately, though, it is not the size of the badge: it is how you wear it.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 5, 2013 - 02:38 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, r9 270, Steam Machine, SteamOS
I cannot see how they will be making any money at this but, next year, iBuyPower will launch their first Steam Machine. At the price of $499, the same as an Xbox One, you will get an AMD CPU bundled with a discrete Radeon R9 270 graphics card.
Image Credit: The Verge
Oh, and Valve's controller will be included in that price.
Sure, they can save money on the free operating system, but that still looks pretty awesome. In terms of actual dimensions, the case is said to be between the size of the PS4 and the Xbox one. Frankly, if you like the look of home theater appliances, this could be a nice twist on that aesthetic. It will also come with a 500GB hard drive. Don't worry, though: it is a PC. If there is a USB 3.0 port anywhere on it, you can attach a giant drive for your games.
And the power supply is internal, too!
iBuyPower is expected to ship this device at some point in 2014 along with a wave of other Steam Machines. Prepare for many of these innovations to come out of CES.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 02:26 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pcga, certification
Okay, so we all know I hate certification. Art platforms should be as open as possible to allow small businesses, hobbyists, and even casual users to share their expressions and ideas. Certification is the basis for my distrust of Windows Store and the "modern" Windows platform altogether. When you have someone between you and sharing, terms will be dictated for every transfer.
I am reminded of Harvest Moon which was pressured with ESRB certification (unclear where the pressure was coming from, however) to remove same-gender relationships in a North American release. If you build censorship, they will come. This is not censorship... but keep that in mind.
That said, the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) should only get between you and an advertising logo. They will not prevent you from sharing your app, unlike Windows Store, but rather just not say you have a satisfactory title.
Testing will not be free, of course. A non-PCGA member will need to pay $500 per game to be submit their title for certification; another $2000 will be required to request help with certification from the organization.
Metrics that the certification looks at is whether it runs at a smooth 30FPS at 720p medium settings on some reference platform and whether it supports gamepad and couch use cases (if those users would reasonably expect that environment for the title... ex: StarCraft would probably be exempt).
I can see this being... okay. It is a bit pointless for users who do the slightest bit of research before they purchase a title. That said, under the condition that it will not be a mandatory certification, it might be beneficial for smaller companies to market their goods. Cheap endorsement for small businesses is not a bad thing as long as it does not lock the art, itself, in any way.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:59 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: dice, BF4
DICE has announced that they are working on Battlefield 4, its expansions, Mirror's Edge, and Star Wars: Battlefront 3. Or at least, they have been working on them. For now, Battlefield 4 will be the only product in active development. DICE and EA have acknowledged issues with the game in terms of stability and connectivity. Until that becomes satisfactory, they will pause development on all other titles and expansion packs.
PC Gamer received a statement from an EA spokesperson about these claims. Apparently the China Rising DLC was basically completed before this decision was made; everything else will wait. Really, you just cannot keep bombers and motorbikes sitting on the shelf.
I mean, it is interesting that they say this. Still, I cannot see what this actually means. EA will not pull environment artists and sound engineers to fix these issues. It is a good "commitment to our customers" statement and I applaud them for admitting problems with the game (oddly, I found this version much less error prone than Battlefield 3) but, despite sounding clear, I wonder how much extra resources will result from this. Sure, it was a petty example, but it questions where the line actually is.
Battlefield 4 is available now from multiple retailers (just not Steam).
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:32 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: elder scrolls online
The Elder Scrolls Online is coming and one of the hooks of the franchise is its character customization. Hours can be spent preparing and building characters into whatever the player desires. Many factors can be tweaked to make the perfect archer, mage, or thief. Some versions even allow the player to be infected with vampirism or lycanthropy to become a vampire or a werewolf.
Bethesda has just released a video outlining various possible customizations. Yes, there will be quests to infect your character with the two aforementioned diseases. I am sure that is what you all really wanted to know.
Basically the levelling system is as follows: when you gain a level you gain a point to add to your stats and another point to add to your skills. Attribute (stats) points let you choose whether to increase your health, magika, or stamina. Skill points allow you to learn spells or abilities; using these skills pushes that skill further down its "line". You can then branch ("morph") that ability's skill tree out in some direction. The example given is a friendly restoration skill: at some point you will be allowed to choose whether to heal three (instead of one) allies or have it replenish some of your magika. A common mechanic but, now, one confirmed in the game.
The Elder Scrolls Online is expected to be released this spring for PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One.
Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 05:10 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, ultrasharp, toshiba, R9 290X, r9 290, podcast, ocz, Kaveri, dell, amd, A10-7850K, A10-7700K, 4k
PC Perspective Podcast #279 - 12/04/2013
Join us this week as we discuss R9 290 Variance Issues, OCZ's Bankruptcy, Kaveri Leaks and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Scott Michaud
Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 02:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: mmorpg, gaming, elder scrolls online
Long time fans of The Elder Scrolls series have not been jumping on the online version in great numbers, partly due to the changes that were made to the game to make it an MMORPG but also because that particular market is rather saturated. Over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN is a short video intended to offer an enticing look at the skills that you can develop over time. They are much more in depth than the constellation of skills available in offline TES games and can be gained in more ways that just levelling up. As well they can be tweaked and modified in such a way as to make your character much more personalized, take a peek and see if it convinces you to give the game a try.
"When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a fireman and an astronaut and a cowboy and a monster truck and Batman and a shoe and a barn and a machine that could produce infinite popsicles and the head of a moderately successful middle management firm. Eventually, however, I realized that I’d have to settle on just one thing, so I decided that I hated money and became a games journo."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- New PlanetSide 2 Progression Won’t Involve Gear Or Power @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Give It A Trya: Maia Lands On Steam Early Access @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Steam’s concurrent user record breaches 7 million @ HEXUS
- Super Mario 3D World @ The Inquirer
- A Flippin’ Good Time: The Pinball Arcade PC Review @ Techgage
Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 12:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, obvious, reversible
Backwards compatibility is a big issue for PC users who do not want to have to constantly upgrade everything from connectors to add-in cards every time they do a small upgrade. That compatibility comes with a cost, many devices which should have been allowed to die long ago still live on. It is possible that one such abomination may be going away in the near future, the trapezoidal USB plug that only connects in one orientation. The USB Type-C connector will be square, similar in size to the current USB 2.0 Micro-B plug found on non-fruit based cellphones and most importantly it will not have a specific orientation required to connect. Hopefully Slashdot isn't discussing something too good to be true.
"Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told — just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle!"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Toshiba tweaks SSD model: She's flashy, but she's not dense ENOUGH @ The Register
- PC market staging a RECOVERY. (Only joking, it's through the floor) @ The Register
- NAND flash suppliers to cut production to stabilize chip prices @ DigiTimes
- Creating Bootable Windows XP, 7 & 8 Flash Drive Installers @ Techgage
- A Collective Pitch Quadcopter @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | December 4, 2013 - 03:52 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, corsair, Cherry MX, cherry, CES 2014
The three little letters that instill fear in tech journalists (and vendors) right around the holiday season: CES. This will be the first of many news posts coming out of that event -- it is still a month away! Companies are already preparing for what will come after the holidays. Brace yourselves!
Corsair and Cherry have just released a preview of their upcoming CES announcement. Mechanical keyboards (at least those based on Cherry MX switches) were only rarely backlit. Pretty much every model of Cherry MX-based keyboard with per-key LED lighting was, at one point, developed by iOne (they produced the XArmor line of backlit keyboards and collaborated with Razer on the BlackWidow). I am not particularly sure what the difficulty was from an engineering standpoint but I do know it was rare.
Cherry, themselves, are assisting the next evolution of this technology. The company has developed a special version of their MX Red-class switch with built-in RGB illumination. The mixture of these three colors allows for a key to be lit by any color in the visible spectrum (up to the precision allowed by hardware and software). Their press release suggests 8-bit per channel control (~16.7 million colors). Their exclusive launch partner for this 2014 debut will be Corsair.
Clearly their K-series keyboards sold well.
If you want to learn more about the Cherry MX switches, be sure to check out our overview from 2012. Also, check out the Cherry website for a ridiculously informative breakdown of the switch all each of its components. Seriously, this puts my animation to shame; it is kind of depressing.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | December 4, 2013 - 12:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: uppercase, msi, mini-itx
MSI is calling these products, "Mini, but Mighty". These components are designed for the mini-ITX form factor which is smaller than 7 inches in length and width. Its size makes it very useful for home theater PCs (HTPCs) and other places where discretion is valuable. You also want these machines to be quiet, which MSI claims this product series is.
The name is also written in full uppercase so you imagine yourself yelling every time you read it.
The MSI Z87I GAMING AC Motherboard comes with an Intel 802.11ac (hence, "GAMING AC", I assume) wireless adapter. If you are using a wired connection, it comes with a Killer E2205 Ethernet adapter from Qualcomm's BigFoot Networks (even small PCs can be BigFoot). Also included is an HDMI 1.4 output capable of 4K video (HDMI 1.4 is limited to 30Hz output at 2160p).
Good features to have, especially for an HTPC build.
The other launch is the GTX 760 GAMING ITX video card. This card is a miniature GeForce 760 designed to fit in mini-ITX cases. If your box is a Home Theater PC, expect it to run just about any game at 1080p.
No information on pricing and availability yet. Check out the press release after the break.
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