"The 8-Bit Guy" Discusses Game Audio

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2015 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, audio

Over the last couple of months, we highlighted the work of The iBook Guy because it's very interesting. He also announced a rebrand to “The 8-Bit Guy” because he hasn't published an iBook video “in quite some time”. If you have been a long time follower of PC Perspective, you'll know that we have a history of changing our name to slightly less restrictive titles. Ryan initially named this site after the K7M motherboard, then Athlon motherboards in general, then AMD motherboards, then PC Perspective. I guess we shouldn't cover mobile or console teardowns...

Anywho... back to The 8-Bit Guy. This time, his video discusses how old PCs played (or, more frequently, synthesized) audio. He discusses the early, CPU-driven audio, which were quickly replaced by dedicated sound cards in the 1980s. They could drive audio waves that were either square, triangle, noise, or PCM (microphone-sampled). These four types were combined to make all of the music and sound effects of the time.

This brings us to today. He notes that, with today's modern computers having so much storage and RAM, we end up just mixing everything as an audio file and play that. This is where we can expand a little. Until around the Vista era, sound cards have been increasing in voice count. One of the last examples was the Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi. This card implemented their EAX 5.0 standard, which allowed up to 128 voices in games like Battlefield 2, and that was about it. When Microsoft released Vista, they replaced the entire audio stack with a software-based one. They stated that sound card drivers were a giant cause of bluescreen errors, and thus almost everything was moved out of the kernel.


At around this time, voice limits were removed. They don't make sense anymore because mixing is no longer being done in hardware. Nowadays, even websites through Web Audio API can play thousands of sounds simultaneously, although that probably will sound terrible in practice.

Audio processing doesn't end here, though. Now that we can play as many sounds as we like, and can do so with complete software control over the PCM waves, the problem is shifted into an algorithmic one.

This is an area that I, personally, am interested in.


See the source and demo at my GitHub

Earlier this year, I created a demo in WebCL that rendered 20,000 - 30,000 sounds on an Intel HD 4600 GPU, with stereo positioning and linear distance falloff, while the system's main NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 was busy drawing the WebGL scene. The future goal was to ray-trace (high frequency) and voxelize (low frequency) sound calls based on the environment, to simulate environmentally-accurate reverbs and echoes. Over the summer, I worked with a graduate student from Queen's University to offload audio in the Unity engine (I preferred Unreal). We have not yet introduced geometry.

At this year's Oculus Connect, Michael Abrash also mentioned that audio is interesting for VR, but that it needs to wait for more computational horsepower. A lot more. He also discussed HRTF, which is the current way of adding surround to stereo by measuring how an individual's ears modify sound depending on location. It gets worse if sounds are closer than a meter away, or the actual user's ears differ too much from the experiment subject.

Anyway, enough about me. The 8-Bit Guy's videos are interesting. Check them out.

Podcast #372 - Steam Controller and Steam Link, Acer XR321CK Ultrawide Freesync Display, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2015 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: yoga 900, xr321ck, western digital, video, valve, ultrawide, steam link, Steam Controller, sandisk, podcast, Lenovo, freesync, acer, 3440x1440

PC Perspective Podcast #372 - 10/22/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Steam Controller and Steam Link, Acer XR321CK Ultrawide Freesync 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
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

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

Tencent Buys Stake in Artillery Games

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 09:48 PM |
Tagged: webgl, tencent, atlas, artillery games

The Chinese investment and Web company, Tencent, has taken interest in many American video game companies. In a couple installments, Tencent purchased chunks of Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, which now total up to over 90% of the game studio. They later grabbed a “minority” (~48%) stake in Epic Games, which creates Unreal Engine, Unreal Tournament, Fortnite, Infinity Blade, the original three Gears of War games, and a few other franchises.


This time, they purchased an undisclosed share of Artillery Games. Artillery has not released a title yet, but they are working on a WebGL-powered engine. In other words, titles created with this technology will run directly in web browsers without plug-ins or extensions. At some point, Artillery Games decided to make a native client alongside their web engine, which was announced in September. This was apparently due to latency introduced in the Pointer Lock API and networking issues until WebRTC matures. (WebRTC brings P2P network sockets to web browsers. While people mentally equate it to video conferencing, it is also used for client-to-client multiplayer. There is even a BitTorrent client that runs in a web browser using it.)

Unfortunately, the real story would be how much of Artillery they have purchased, and we don't know that yet (if ever). They are buying up quite a lot of formerly-independent studios though, considering how many are left.

Sword Coast Legends; more Dungeon Siege than Dungeons & Dragons?

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: gaming, sword coast legends

Sword Coast Legends was just released and you should probably take a look at this quick preview of the game at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN if you are hoping this will fill your time until Baldurs Gate: Siege of Dragonspear is released.  They have not yet had time to complete a full review including the multiplayer and Dungeon Master modes but the overall initial impression that this game feels more like Dungeon Seige than previous D&D games.  You can still pause the game to order your party in combat but it seems less necessary as you are using a small pool of abilities to hack and slash your way to victory.  The review is not primarily negative and it sounds like there is fun to be had but if you were hoping for something more intricate and involved then you may be disappointed.   Then again, it may prove that the multiplayer mode with a DM overseeing a custom adventure may make this title worth picking up.


"We’ll have some thoughts on the multiplayer portion of just-released, latter-day Dungeons & Dragons RPG Sword Coast Legends [official site] – including the all-important DM mode – very soon, but while RPS gathers its party to sally forth, I thought I’d share some initial impressions on singleplayer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:



Patriot's new gaming headset, the Viper V360

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: patriot, Viper V360, gaming headset, 7.1 headset, audio

Patriot has expanded into the gaming headset market with the Viper 360, which has two 40mm Neodymium drivers and two 30mm sub-drivers which use software to emulate 7.1 surround sound.  The earcups have the volume control, a button to toggle the Ultra Bass Response feature and a switch to turn the large LED lights on and off, should you desire a glow in the dark head for some reason.  The frequency response matches the competition at 20Hz- 20KHz, the two sub-drivers are enabled in UBR mode and do add some vibration along with more bass volume.  At $60 it is reasonably priced and the the two year warranty should ensure you get your money's worth.  Check out the full review at Modders Inc.


"Patriot is known for its memory and mobile products, and has just recently started selling peripherals. It might seem like an unusual jump, but their new headset proves that Patriot is prepared to expand and succeed in this new market. Patriot's initial headset offering is the Viper V360, a virtual 7.1 capable gaming peripheral that plugs in via USB."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Modders Inc

The Killer NIC through the years

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: killer nic, bigfoot

When the Killer NIC was first released in 2006 the PC Perspective crew were not overly impressed, it seemed a solution in search of a problem and initially it was far more expensive than it was effective.  Over the years the way the solution was implemented changed from running on an embedded Freescale PowerPC SoC to using part of the CPU to handle the processing which both reduced the price as well as offering better overall performance.  More recently the acquisition by Qualcomm has helped Bigfoot develop a far more effective product, the one seen on many Z170 boards and which has received far more positive reviews.  The Tech Report recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Killer's CEO Mike Cubbage and the Chief Marketing Officer Bob Grim about how their product has changed over the years.  You can read about what they learned as well as learn more about how the current generation of Killer NIC performs its various tasks in their article here.


"Killer-powered Gigabit Ethernet ports can be found on many gaming-focused motherboards and laptops these days. We talked to Killer Networking about the details of its latest hardware and software, and then we put those features to the test with a Killer-equipped motherboard."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Valve

A new controller for PC gamers

Last Friday, the early buyers of the Steam Controller and the Steam Link device, built by Valve directly, began to receive their hardware. I was one of the lucky early users to get my hands on both of the units. The Steam Controller has evolved drastically since I first got hands on with it and its implementation of unique haptic feedback and a thumb-specific touch pad on the right, rather than a second analog stick, make it quite different than the Xbox or PlayStation controllers popular today. The Steam Link is Valve's answer to GeForce GameStream and allows you to share your Steam library on your local network to another display or TV in your home.


The video below walks through a quick unboxing of the two new hardware options from Valve and demonstrates the use of the controller in a couple of games as well.

We'll definitely have more on the Steam Controller and Steam Link very soon, but I think this video should be able to help you decide if this is something you want to add to your gaming arsenal.

Mionix is keeping it simple with their Castor Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2015 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: input, mionix, Castor, gaming mouse

The Mionix Castor gaming mouse is for those right-handed people who are looking for a basic LED glow and programmable buttons that number under a dozen.  On the Castor there are six in total, two of which sit under the thumb on the right hand side of the mouse which is why lefties are not going to enjoy using the Castor.  Using Mionix's software you can program those buttons as you see fit as well as adjusting the DPI between 50 to 10,000 and split the X and Y axis if you so desire.  You can also vary the USB polling rate, Angle Snapping, Angle Tuning, Pointer Speed and Lift Distance to be saved in one of five profiles which you can jump between using the button at the top.  Techgage with the overall design of the mouse as well as the number of features hidden in this unassuming mouse.  Check out their full review if you are looking for a new gaming mouse.


"Mionix’s marketing strategy of naming its products after heavenly bodies is brave. It’s good, then, that the company succeeds more often than not in designing stellar products. Will its Castor, named after one of the brightest of stars visible in our skies, live up to its billing? Or will it explode like a supernova amidst such galactic expectations? Read our review to find out!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: Techgage

Cherry Trail in a Raspberry Pi form factor

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: x5 Z8300, UP board, Intel, Cherry Trail, atom

Intel's efforts to put an x86 processor in your pocket have been rather varied, from the old Minnowboard, the Compute Stick and recently the new Intel Galileo and Edison chips.  Apart from the new Galileo and Edison releases, the hobby community have not adopting them in the same way that they have Raspberry Pi or Arduino.  Hack a Day has a post about a new product that might be a bridge between Raspberry hackers and x86 hackers called the UP Board.

It is the size of a credit card and is powered by a quad-core Cherry Trail Atom x5-Z8300 clocked at 1.84GHz, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC Flash.  For peripheral support it has a Gigabit NIC, five USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, HDMI and most importantly, the same 40-pin GPIO pin connector the Raspberry Pi Model B Plus uses as well as DSI and CSI connectors for the Raspberry Pi camera and touch screen.  This offers familiar hardware for those already familiar with the Raspberry and means that the kits they currently have could be transferred.  It will be interesting to see if this brings x86 functionality and interfaces into hobbyist scene.


"Efforts to put x86 on a dev board have included the Minnowboard, the Intel Galileo and Edison, and even the Intel Compute Stick. These have not seen the uptake you would expect from a small x86-powered board, but that tide may soon turn. The UP board is exactly what you would expect from a Raspberry Pi-inspired board with a real Intel processor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: Hack a Day

Valve Says (External) Ads in Steam Are "Just Dumb"

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2015 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam

Of course, this quote doesn't include things like promotional images for games. It's a store, so it will promote its products. This is referring to like, Doritos. In response to Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation integrating ads in their service, Valve said that it doesn't make sense for Steam. It might make some short-term money, but it doesn't bring value to the user, it could harm the long-term relationship with the user, and it probably doesn't even sell Doritos.


Doesn't go with Mountain Dew.

In my opinion, it doesn't really matter. An ad-free Steam is nice, but I don't feel it would that it would affect me much as a user (although that would need to be actually measured to be a valid data point). I also think that its lack of effect is a fallacy. When surveyed, the vast majority of people believe that advertisements don't work on them, or just let them know that products exist. They're wrong.

I do believe that it would affect their long term brand perception with customers in general, though. Several brands have tried to get involved in gaming platforms and events, and the inevitable ads and product placement get ridiculed. It makes sense that Valve would avoid that, especially since their brand is what's keeping them on par with their competitors.

What do you think, though? Do you believe that you would mind? Or would you just shrug and ignore them (unless they're obnoxious)?

Source: GameSpot