Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2014 - 07:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: overwatch, blizzcon 2014, blizzcon, blizzard
Blizzard has announced Overwatch, a new franchise to expand their portfolio. It was unveiled at the Blizzcon keynote with a cinematic trailer followed immediately by gameplay footage. The first video looks significantly different from other Blizzard cinematics. It follows a Walt Disney Animation Studios art style, including exaggerated facial features and animations, versus the game company's normal dulled realism. It would look at home alongside "Bolt", for instance.
The gameplay itself is compared to Team Fortress 2. It is a class-based first-person shooter with an assortment of game types. The first two, announced modes will probably sound very similar to most of our fans: Point Capture and Payload (yes, that Payload). The classes are described more like MOBA heroes, however, but multiple players are (said to be) able to use the same class. Apart from the character design, they seem to be functionally TF2 classes. Maybe the difference is just that their names do not define what they do?
There are several similarities and differences between the two games. The classes seem to borrow from Team Fortress, with a comfortable embrace to magic and abilities. There are at least two engineer-style characters that can build turrets, and at least one of them can build a teleporter. One difference is, there seems to be a bit of a focus on parkour and movement abilities, such as grappling hooks, in particular.
There are also a couple of guesses about where this game came from. The funny, albeit likely incorrect reason is that, after Valve took the reigns of DOTA, Blizzard decided to take on Team Fortress 2 and push into their turf (although Gabe Newell has described the relationship between the two companies as "friends"). More likely, Paul Tassi published on Forbes some claims that Overwatch was a remnant from Titan, possibly one of its intended PvP modes. If this was a spin-off of Titan, it makes me wonder exactly what kind of engine they were trying to develop, that was developed for an MMO but that could also be comfortable as a first-person shooter. That said, it is not uncommon to see versatile engines in recent years, such as Source and Unreal Engine 4.
Overwatch will be going into a multiplayer beta in 2015, seemingly early in the year. It is interesting to see Blizzard go into a vastly different genre than their usual, especially from a technology standpoint.
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2014 - 12:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: google, barges, mysterious
Not even Google is able to defeat the enforcement powers of local fire marshals which is why the mysterious barges are no longer anchored off the coast of San Francisco. It seems that may not have met the fire safety rules required by law and so they have departed for places unknown. The variety of theories which attempted to explain the barges, from floating data centres to a project to cede from the USA, were far more entertaining than the truth but perhaps we can enjoy a resurgence of entertaining internet hypothesizing now that the barges have disappeared. The Inquirer did get a chance to speak with Google about the barges and it turns out that they were simply a very unique way to set up a display room to show off Google's newest projects.
"TWO MYSTERIOUS BARGES moored by Google off the coast of the US last year were apparently moved because coastguards feared they did not conform to fire regulations."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Website Peeps Into 73,000 Unsecured Security Cameras Via Default Passwords @ Slashdot
- Microsoft's November Patch Tuesday is a whopper @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft releases free anti-malware for Azure VMs @ The Register
- Microsoft improves Azure SQL Server cloud service, simultaneously makes it worse @ The Register
- Inside the OC Lab at MSI HQ in Taipei: KitGuru TV
Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2014 - 04:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VLAN party, gaming, fragging frogs
Once again the amazing crew from the Fragging Frogs and our friends at AMD are teaming up to bring you a day of fun, fragging and prizes! This weekend we also introduce two new friends, Bohemia Interactive Studios, producers of ARMA, DayZ and other games, as well as Innovation Cooling who have both contributed to this event.
If you are not already a member of the PC Perspective Forums you will need to register as a member in order to be eligible to win the prizes given away during the VLAN. The registration thread is right here, sign your name to be eligible and please read through the links to the guides which explain how to log into the Teamspeak channel, the games that will be played and the patches and add-on files that need to be installed to ensure you spend more time playing and less time downloading. iamApropos will once again be streaming the action live via TWITCH.TV so even if you can't participate for some reason you can have fun vicariously. Be sure to thank our game hosts, organizers and sponsors as it takes a lot of time and effort to set these events up.
See you there, in the mean time here is a video to get you even more excited.
Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2014 - 02:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, far cry 4, ubisoft, gameworks, txaa, hbao+
Check out the video for a look at the various in game enhancements that NVIDIA's new feaures will be bringing to FarCry 4 and gaze in awe at that gorgeous yak featured at 1:37, just look at its hair waving in the breeze and reacting to the motions of the animal. It is not clear if AMD's TressFX will provide equivalent body and shine to the beasts that HairWorks does but you have to admit that is an impressive amount of work to make meat on the hoof look pretty. There are two different technologies to improve the look of shadows, Percentage Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS, aka ShadowWorks) softens the edges of shadows based on the distance between the object creating the shadow and the surface the shadow appears on while Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion (HBAO+) is a new and efficient way to render ambient lighting and shadows accurately without paying for it with a big hit in performance. Temporal anti-aliasing, TXAA is reputed to offer the benefits of MSAA 8x at the performance cost of 4x; while it is hard to judge the accuracy of that in the video you can certainly see it is an effective way of removing jaggies from straight edges. You can also expect to see God Rays rendered properly, the shot of the sun through the tree near the end makes a rather nice set peice to display that effect.
Below you can see the recommended hardware, it is worth emphasizing that only 64bit OSes need apply on the PC.
SANTA CLARA, Calif - November 6, 2014 - Ubisoft announces today a new technology PC gaming development partnership with NVIDIA that will bring players closer to their games than ever before.
Thanks to the power of NVIDIA GeForce GTX technology, including the just-released GTX 980 and 970 GPUs, this holiday’s long-awaited FPS, Far Cry 4 will look even more beautiful. By integrating NVIDIA’s GameWorks technologies, such as HBAO+ for realistic shadows, TXAA for cinema quality smoothness, as well as enhanced 4K support, Ubisoft is delivering cutting-edge content that allow PC players to become fully immersed in their gaming environments. In addition, Far Cry 4 also integrates NVIDIA Godrays technology so gamers can feel the sun beating down in the Himalayas, and NVIDIA HairWorks, for rendering the realistic, but deadly adversaries that will be encountered in the game.
Ubisoft also reveals Far Cry 4 PC system requirements:
- Supported 64-Bit OS: Windows 7 (SP1) x64 / Windows 8 x64 / Windows 8.1 x64 ·
- Processor: 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5-750 or 3.2 GHz AMD Phenom II X4 955 (2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-2400S or 4.0 GHz AMD FX-8350 or better recommended)
- RAM: 4 GB (8 GB or greater recommended)
- Video Card: 1 GB DirectX 11–compliant with Shader Model 5.0 or higher
- Supported Video Cards at Time of Release: AMD Radeon HD 5850 / 6000 / 7000 / R7 / R9 series
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 / 500 / 600 / 700 / TITAN series \
- Sound Card: DirectX-compatible (5.1 surround sound recommended)
- DVD-ROM Drive: Dual-layer Hard Drive Space: 30 GB
- Peripherals Supported: Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, optional controller (Xbox 360 Controller for Windows recommended)
- Multiplayer: 256 kbps or faster broadband connection ·
- Note: This product supports 64-bit operating systems only.
Laptop versions of these cards may work, but are not officially supported. For the most up-to-date minimum requirement listings, please visit the FAQ on our support website at support.ubi.com.
If you are wondering whether or not your PC can run Far Cry 4 smoothly at the highest settings, please run the NVIDIA GPU ANALYZER which detects your graphics hardware and compares it to the developer's recommended GPU specification for Far Cry 4. It's a quick and easy way to see if your graphics hardware will provide you with an optimal experience in Far Cry 4.
With Far Cry 4 players will experience the most expansive and immersive Far Cry ever, in an entirely new, massive open-world. Players will find themselves in Kyrat, a breathtaking, perilous and wild region of the Himalayas struggling under the regime of a despotic self-appointed king. Using a vast array of weapons, vehicles and animals, players will write their own story across an exotic open-world landscape. Developed by Ubisoft Montréal in collaboration with other Ubisoft studios, Far Cry 4 will be available worldwide on November 18 for PlayStation4 and PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC.
Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2014 - 02:26 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, Samsung, R9 290X, podcast, nvidia, mx cherry brown, msi titan, msi, hawaii, gtx 760 itx, assassin's creed, amd, 8gb, 850 PRO
PC Perspective Podcast #325 - 11/06/2014
Join us this week as we discuss our Samsung 850 Pro Roundup, MSI's GTX 760 ITX, 8GB R9 290X 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 Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:35:30
Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2014 - 01:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amazon prime, cloud storage
If you have Amazon Prime then you have had 5GB of online storage for a while now, whether you knew it or not. As of yesterday that has been increased to an unlimited amount of photos and videos, as long as you follow certain guidelines. A single photo cannot be larger than 2GB and videos can be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. If you have files which do not meet those criteria you can still upload them but they will be kept in your original 5GB of storage, assuming you have the space for it. There are a few other minor caveats which [H]ard|OCP lists here along with their reassurance that the service is actually everything it claims to be.
"This is not our usual subject matter, at all. But surely there are a lot of HardOCP readers that are also Amazon Prime members and a lot of us like a good deal. So is Amazon Prime's new free photo storage up to what us [H]'ers would expect. When it is too good to be true is it always too good to be true?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Public Test Released For Croteam's The Talos Principle @ [H]ard|OCP
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Will Have 16 Free DLCs @ [H]ard|OCP
- Intel Core M platform to account for below 10% of notebook shipments in 2015, say sources @ DigiTimes
- Intel Skylake processor release date slipping: reports @ The Register
- Speaking in Tech: Biz bods chat LIVE from OpenStack Summit @ The Register
- Win a £2,499 MSI GT70 2OD Notebook with KitGuru
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 6, 2014 - 12:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, r9 295x2, R9 290X, r9 290, R9, hawaii, civilization, beyond earth, amd
Why settle for space, when you can go Beyond Earth too (but only if you go to Hawaii)!
The Never Settle promotion launched itself into space a couple of months ago, but AMD isn't settling for that. If you purchase a Hawaii-based graphics card (R9 290, R9 290X, or R9 295X2) then you will get a free copy of Civilization: Beyond Earth on top of the choice of three games (or game packs) from the Never Settle Space Gold Reward tier. Beyond Earth makes a lot of sense of course, because it is a new game that is also one of the most comprehensive implementations of Mantle yet.
To be eligible, the purchase would need to be made starting November 6th (which is today). Make sure that you check to make sure that what you're buying is a "qualifying purchase" from "participating retailers", because that is a lot of value to miss in a moment of carelessness.
AMD has not specified an end date for this promotion.
Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2014 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, Optimization Guide
Tech ARP have updated their handy SSD Optimization Guide which covers a variety of ways to ensure that your SSD has a long life and offers you the best possible performance while it works for you. Many of the tips such as enabling AHCI mode in your BIOS before installing an OS are obvious to even an SSD newbie but not everyone will be familiar with their GUID Partition Table or proper partition alignment. The guide is a handy reference for users old and new to make sure that your brand new SSD is performing up to specification.
"Modern SSDs use a mix of techniques and technologies like overprovisioning of memory cells, wear levelling, a write combine buffer (or on-the-fly data compression), and the Trim command or automatic garbage collection to maintain performance and extend the lifespan of the flash memory cells. However, there's only so much they can do."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Seagate 1200 SSD 400GB SAS 12Gb/s Review @ NikKTech
- Corsair Voyager Air 2 Mobile Wireless Storage 1 TB Review @ Madshrimps
- QNAP HS-251 Fanless NAS @ techPowerUp
- Silicon Power Armor A60 USB 3.0 Hard Drive Review @HiTech Legion
- Silicon Power Armor A30 USB 3.0 Hard Drive Review @HiTech Legion
- Mach Xtreme MX-ES 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Kingston HyperX Fury 16GB USB 3.0 @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2014 - 01:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: internet arcade, retro, gaming
Fire up your browser, currently Firefox is the best choice, then load up games you haven't played in over 20 years; or find out what people are talking about when they remininsce about the good old days of arcades. Using JSMAME the Internet Archive has brought back hundreds of MAME cabinet games going back to the 70's, the majority of which are playable to some degree. There is a tech support forum as well as a link to contact the curator of the page if you encounter issues with launching or sound and other technical problems. The one thing that they can't help you with is the games with special controllers that just physically do not translate to mouse and keyboard or gamepad, you might have to think about creating and programming one if you want the rotating joystick from Victory Road.
If you need more modern games to satisfy you, the Fragging Frogs are up to a little something this weekend.
"The Internet Arcade is a web-based library of arcade (coin-operated) video games from the 1970s through to the 1990s, emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. Containing hundreds of games ranging through many different genres and styles, the Arcade provides research, comparison, and entertainment in the realm of the Video Game Arcade."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition @ Beamdog
- Atari Video Game Burial Hits Ebay @ Hack a Day
- Far Cry 4 Story Trailer Reminds You There’s A Story
- Rockstar shows off first-person GTA V experience @ HEXUS
- Lords of the Fallen @ The Inquirer
- How to make money playing games - Kitguru TV speaks with Fnatic COO
- Nvidia Shield Gaming Tablet @ eTeknix
- NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Review @ OCC
- One hard ghoulie: 1985's Ghosts 'n Goblins @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 5, 2014 - 12:56 PM | Andre DeCoste
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, R9, amd, 8gb
With the current range of AMD’s R9 290X cards sitting at 4 GB of memory, listings for an 8 GB version have appeared on an online retailer. As far back as March, Sapphire was rumored to be building an 8 GB variety. Those rumours were supposedly quashed last month by AMD and Sapphire. However, AMD has since confirmed the existence of the new additions to the series. Pre-orders have appeared online and are said to be shipping out this month.
Image Credit: Overclockers UK
With 8 GB of GDDR5 memory and price tags between $480 and $520, these new additions, expectedly, do not come cheap. Compared to the 4 GB versions of the R9 290X line, which run about $160 less according to the online retailer, is it worth upgrading at this stage? For the people using a single 1080p monitor, the answer is likely no. For those with multi-screen setups, or those with deep enough pockets to own a 4K display, however, the benefits may begin to justify the premium. At 4K though, just a single 8 GB R9 290X may not provide the best experience; a Crossfire setup would benefit more from the 8 GB bump, being less reliant on GPU speed.