StarCraft Remastered Trailer, Release Date, and Pre-order

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2017 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, blizzard

We first reported on StarCraft Remastered when it was announced, which was alongside the GSL 2017 Season 1 finals on March 26th. This was accompanied by a patch that brought the base game up to modern standards, which conveniently allows it to be multiplayer-compatible with Remastered, although skill-based matchmaking is exclusive to Remastered.

It has now been given a trailer, above, and a release date: August 14th, 2017.

As for the price? Pre-orders for StarCraft Remastered are available at $14.99 USD, although it’s unclear whether this price will stick after the pre-order period. I should note that the page states that StarCraft Remastered requires “StarCraft Anthology”. The way its worded makes it look like you need to buy something else, but StarCraft Anthology was made free with the aforementioned 1.18a patch. Basically, it looks like Blizzard is treating StarCraft Remastered as a paid booster to StarCraft Anthology, but, again, the latter is free so it probably only matters in terms of the install process. At least, that’s how it looks to me.

Source: Blizzard

Summer Games Done Quick 2017 Begins Sunday

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 11:39 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, gdq, speedrun

Starting on Sunday, Games Done Quick will be hosting their twice-annual, 24-hour speedrun marathon until 3am on the following Sunday. It will begin with a one-handed playthrough of NieR: Automata, and just keep going through game after game, including a handful of races between popular runners of applicable titles. (Personally, those tend to be my favorite segments.) Many are run on the PC!

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This event will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Until Awesome Games Done Quick 2017, it looked like the amount raised per week-long event settled at around 1.3 million. That one, however, leapfrogged the previous year’s total by a whole million dollars, ending up at $2.22 million USD. Summer Games Done Quick, apart from last year, tends to do a little less, but who knows?

Deux Ex: Mankind Divided Frame Breakdown

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 10:40 PM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, eidos montreal, deus ex: mankind divided

Frames of modern video games can be made up of tens of thousands of draw calls, which consist of a set of polygons and a shader pipeline that operates on it, and compute tasks. Last September, we found an article by Adrian Courrèges that broke down a single frame of DOOM, and discussed all of the techniques based on information from debug tools and SIGGRAPH slides.

This time, we found a video from János Turánszki that analyzes the ~32,000 - 33,000 graphics API calls of a single Deus Ex: Mankind Divided frame, using NVIDIA Nsight. As he scrubs through these events, he mentions things like how text is painted, a bug with temporal anti-aliasing, what appears to be a multi-pass blur for frosted glass, and so forth.

János Turánszki develops the open-source (MIT licensed) Wicked Engine.

Source: YouTube

Beyond Good and Evil 2 Voyager Engine Demo

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, pc gaming

Honestly, I don’t really know how many first-party engines Ubisoft currently maintains anymore. Anvil is one of their more popular ones, which was used in Assassin’s Creed, Steep, For Honor, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Far Cry 5 will be using the Dunia Engine, which was forked from the original CryEngine. Tom Clancy’s The Division, Mario + Rabbids, and the new South Park use Snowdrop. I know that I’m missing some.

Add another one to the list: Voyager, which will be used in Beyond Good and Evil 2.

From what I gather with the video, this engine is optimized for massive differences in scale. The Creative Director for Beyond Good and Evil 2, Michael Ancel, showed the camera (in developer mode) smoothly transition from a high-detailed player model out to a part of a solar system. They claim that the sunset effects are actually caused by the planet’s rotation. Interesting stuff!

IO Interactive (Hitman) Becomes Independent

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, hitman

During the most recent SquareEnix financial earnings release (PDF) they announced that they would withdraw from IO Interactive, who makes the Hitman series of video games. Their most recent release, Hitman 2016, is one of our major benchmarks because it was one of the first titles to rework its engines for DirectX 12 (and it’s also a very pretty game). The previous game, Hitman: Absolution, was also featured on one of our live streams because it was an AMD Gaming Evolved / Never Settle title.

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IO Interactive has followed-up with their own announcement. As of last Friday, they are now an independent studio, and they were able to negotiate both their management and the Hitman IP. “We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.” In other words, they don’t seem to have any publisher lined up, but the Hitman franchise should be enticing for many AAA-level companies.

Just a couple weeks earlier, IO Interactive also announced that new purchases of Hitman would automatically buy all episodes from the first season. Steam will, however, detect existing episodes and only bill you for the ones you’ve missed. They say that “these changes will help us lay the foundations for our future plans for HITMAN” but it’s unclear what they mean at this point.

Original Xbox Games Potentially Emulated on Windows

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2017 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: xbox, pc gaming, microsoft

Before we begin, the source of this post is a PC Gamer interview with Microsoft’s Phil Spencer, who leads the Xbox team. The tone seems to be relaxed and conversational, so, for now, it should be taken as something that he, personally, wants to see, not what the division is actually planning, necessarily.

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Still, after it was announced that the Xbox One would get emulation for original Xbox titles at the Xbox E3 2017 Press Conference, PC Gamer asked whether that feature, like so many others lately, could make it to the PC.

His responses: “Yes.” and “I want people to be able to play games!”

He also talked about Xbox 360 emulation on PC, specifically how it would be difficult, but he wants games to run across console and PC. “I want developers to be able to build portable games, which is why we’ve been focusing on UWP for games and even apps that want to run on multiple devices.”

You might know my personal opinions about UWP by now, specifically how it limits artistic freedom going forward through signed apps and developers, which is a problem for civil rights groups that either need to remain anonymous or publish expressions that governments (etc.) don’t want to see public, but cross-device is indeed one of the two reasons that it’s seductive for Microsoft. Content written for it (unless it finds an unpatched exploit, like how Apple iOS jailbreaks work) cannot do malware-like things, and they should be abstract enough to easily hop platforms.

But you won’t see me talk ill about preserving old content, especially if it could be lost to time based on a platform decision they made fifteen years ago. I hope that we do see original Xbox games on the PC. I also hope that we develop art in a medium that doesn’t need awkward methods of preservation, though.

Source: PC Gamer

Dawn of War III Vulkan Support on Linux to Add Intel GPUs

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, linux, vulkan, Intel, mesa, feral interactive

According to Phoronix, Alex Smith of Feral Interactive has just published a few changes to the open source Intel graphics driver, which allows their upcoming Dawn of War III port for Linux to render correctly on Vulkan. This means that the open-source Intel driver should support the game on day one, although drawing correctly and drawing efficiently could be two very different things -- or maybe not, we’ll see.

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It’s interesting seeing things go in the other direction. Normally, graphics engineers parachute in to high-end developers and help them make the most of their software for each respective, proprietary graphics driver. In this case, we’re seeing the game studios pushing fixes to the graphics vendors, because that’s how open source rolls. It will be interesting to do a pros and cons comparison of each system one day, especially if cross-pollination results from it.

Source: Phoronix

GOG.com Summer Sale Has Just Begun

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 07:02 AM |
Tagged: sale, pc gaming, GOG

GOG.com, formerly Good Old Games, because good old names, is having their summer sale. Discounts are advertised at up to 90%, and a copy of Rebel Galaxy will be gifted immediately following your first purchase.

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For me, this was the moment that I jumped on The Witcher 3. I deliberately avoided it until the DLC were bundled and the whole package was on a significant discount, which is now the case. The Witcher 3 Game of the Year, albeit not the year that we’re in, is now 50% off. Another front-page deal is Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition for 80% off, as is the original Mirror’s Edge, although I already have both of them. If you haven’t played it yet, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is great, and it’s 85% off (under $2).

Source: GOG.com

Valve Ends Steam Greenlight Program

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2017 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming

As of today, June 6th, Valve has closed their Greenlight program. New submissions will not be accepted and voting has been disabled. Next week, starting on June 13th, Valve will open Steam Direct, which allows anyone to put their game on the platform for a deposit of $100 per title, which will be refunded once the title makes $1,000 in sales. Valve performs a light amount of testing on each game it receives, so it makes sense to have something that prevents you from drowning upon the opening of the flood gates, and it’s nice that they refund it when sales are high enough that their typical fees cover their expenses, rather than double-dipping.

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There is still some doubt floating around the net, though... especially regarding developers from impoverished nations. As a Canadian, it’s by no means unreasonable to spend around a hundred dollars, plus or minus the exchange rate of the year, to put a game, made up of years of work, onto a gigantic distribution platform. That doesn’t hold true everywhere. At the same time, Valve does have a measurable cost per submission, so, if they lower the barrier below that, it would be at their expense. It would also be the right thing to do in some cases. Either way, that’s just my unsolicited two cents.

Steam Direct opens on June 13th.

Dell Executive Projects Five-Year Growth in Gaming PCs

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2017 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, dell

DigiTimes published a couple of statements from Dell’s senior vice president of Consumer Product Marketing, Raymond Wah, regarding the company’s view on the PC gaming industry. We’ll start with the two quotes, below.

Electronic sports (e-sports) and VR (virtual reality) are main growth drivers for gaming PCs, Wah said, adding gaming is becoming e-sports and this is a global trend. Continual gaming content updates push hardware developers to upgrade the specifications of gaming PCs, Wah indicated. The number of e-sports fans will increases to 145 million in 2017.

In line with gaming PC marketing, Dell has sponsored e-sports events and cooperated with movie producers, Wah indicated. Dell has also begun to set up gaming PC retail outlets at Best Buy chain stores in the US and plans to set up 50 outlets in total.

The article also mentions that he expects that the demand for gaming PCs will continue for five years, unlike the rest of the PC market, which is projected to shrink. It goes on to add that the company is pushing gaming products under two brands now, both Alienware and their general public-focused Inspiron line.

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Many of our readers are probably comfortable assembling their own PCs, but getting OEMs involved adds the whole segment of users who would be comfortable sacrificing cost or performance to offload that hassle. That’s a positive note that I think is often lost on PC enthusiasts. Just because shaving out middle-people makes the transaction more efficient, doesn’t mean that there’s no valid reason to pay a big OEM, or even a small business, local computer store, to handle it.

If he’s right, the next five-plus years should be good for us, too.

Source: DigiTimes