The Internet

NVIDIA Launches GeForce NOW Game Streaming Service 51

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has championed game streaming for a number of years now, whether it's from a GeForce GTX-equipped PC to one of its SHIELD devices or from its cloud-based GRID gaming beta service to a SHIELD. Today though, NVIDIA is kicking its game streaming business up a notch by launching a new service dubbed GeForce NOW. The service streams PC games from the cloud to SHIELD devices at up to full HD 1080p resolutions at 60 fps. It may be tempting to call GeForce NOW an official re-branding of its GRID game streaming beta but that is reportedly not the case. The GRID beta is going away with the launch of GeForce NOW (an update will replace the GRID app with GeForce NOW), but according to NVIDIA, GeForce NOW was re-architected from the ground up to provide a better overall experience. NVIDIA sees GeForce NOW as sort of a "Netflix for games." There is a monthly fee of $7.99 for a subscription, which gives customers access to a slew of games. There are too many to list but top notch titles like Batman: Arkham City, Ultra Street Fighter IV, GRID 2 and many others are included. In addition to the games included in the subscriptions price, NVIDIA will also be offering GeForce NOW users access to AAA-titles on the day of release, for a fee. The games will typically be sold at a regular retail prices but not only will users get to play those games via the GeForce NOW streaming service on SHIELD devices, they'll also receive a key for playing the game on a PC as well. To use GeForce NOW you'll need an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, SHIELD portable, or SHIELD tablet (with the latest software updates installed) and a SHIELD-approved 5GHz router. Your broadband connection must also offer download speeds of at least 12Mb/s. 20Mb/s is recommended for 720p / 60 FPS quality, and 50Mb/s is recommended for 1080p / 60 FPS.

Raspberry Pi Touch Screen Released 66

An anonymous reader writes: The Raspberry Pi has been enormously successful, but one frequent request has been for the Foundation to create a simple touchscreen to go along with it. Gordon Hollingworth said, "I honestly believed it would only take us six months from start to end, but there were a number of issues we met (and other products diverted our attention from the display – like Rev 2.1, B+, A+, and Pi 2)." Now, after two years of development, they've launched a 7", 800x480 LCD that runs at 60 fps. The capacitive screen supports 10 simultaneous finger touches and has a 70 degree viewing angle. The Raspberry Pi Foundation's blog post provides some interesting technical background on electromagnetic compliance and how to connect and use the display.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Gamers Are Fans of Games, Not Genres 119

_xeno_ writes: A recent article on Steam Spy talks about how a "target audience" for game genres doesn't exist — or, more specifically, how there is no such thing as an "FPS gamer" or an "MMO gamer" or a "MOBA gamer." The majority of players tend to be fans of specific games, rather than genres. For example, the wildly popular MMO World of Warcraft managed to reach over 10 million players at its peak. However, these players never became "MMO gamers" — they were simply World of Warcraft gamers. As World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers fall, there's been no corresponding uptick in subscribers of other, competing MMOs. In fact, pretty much ever MMO released since World of Warcraft has been forced to move to a "free-to-play" model simply to survive. The article explains how the majority of gamers concentrate on a very small number of games, rarely trying new games: they're fans of a specific game, not any game that plays like it.

Bethesda Unveils New Doom Game, Announces Dishonored 2 113

An anonymous reader writes: Bethesda kicked off this year's E3 expo by unveiling the new Doom game they've been working on and announcing a sequel to the popular fantasy action-adventure game Dishonored. They've posted a gory trailer (YouTube) for Doom, and shared several minutes of gameplay footage as well. The game is due out in Spring 2016 for Xbox One, PS4, and PCs, and it will include an editor that will let players make new maps and gameplay modes. Dishonored 2 has a trailer as well, though fewer details have been shared about the game. Bethesda also added details to their recent announcement of Fallout 4. It's been given a release date of November 10th (2015), and they did a live demo on stage at E3 (YouTube) with a bunch of game footage.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Fallout 4 Announced 229

An anonymous reader writes: After teasing gamers with a countdown timer yesterday, Bethesda has now announced Fallout 4 for PCs, the Xbox One, and the PS4. They've also released an official trailer (YouTube video). The game will be set in post-apocalyptic Boston, and the player character will apparently be accompanied on his adventures by a dog. The Guardian has a post cataloging the features they're hoping will be improved from previous games in the series: "The combat system in the last two Fallout games was not universally adored. It often felt you were shooting wildly and blindly, biding time before you could use the the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting (VAT) system, which allows players to focus in on specific parts of enemies with a percentage chance of hitting them. ... Well-written, hand-crafted quests are going to be vitally important. The Radiant Quest system used in Skyrim sounds brilliant on paper: infinite quests, randomly generated and a little different each time. But the reality was a lot of fetch quests in similar looking caves. Bethesda may be tempted to bring that system across to Fallout 4, but there's an argument for abandoning dynamic quests altogether and opting for a smaller range of authored challenges."

Epic's VR Demo Scene For the GTX 980 Now Runs On Morpheus PS4 Headset At 60 FPS 35

An anonymous reader writes: Originally created as a Unreal Engine 4 demo scene to push the limits of VR-capable graphics on the Oculus Rift 'Crescent Bay' prototype VR headset, Showdown is now running flawlessly at 60 FPS on Morpheus, Sony's PS4 VR headset. The demo was previously only able to run at Oculus' 90 FPS target VR framerate on the Nvidia GTX 980, a GPU which costs nearly $200 more than the PS4 itself. To the delight of UE4 developers, the performance improvement comes from general optimizations to UE4 on PS4, rather than specific optimizations to Showdown.
Classic Games (Games)

"Descent" Goes For a Crowdfunding Reboot (and a Linux Version) 149

New submitter boll writes A bunch of Star Citizen alumns have taken it upon themselves to resurrect the hit game franchise Descent, backed by a Kickstarter campaign. If you are a semi-oldtimer on the PC gaming scene, you may fondly remember how the original Descent was among the first to provide 6 genuine degrees of freedom during intense late night LAN gaming sessions." Reader elfindreams adds: It will be released as a PC/Mac/Linux game and will include a single player campaign and multiplayer with up to 64 combatants on a map! They are working with a number of members of the current D1/D2 community to make sure the flight/gameplay feels "old school" and they are updating the technology and game to a new generation.

NVIDIA Announces SHIELD Game Console 116

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA held an event in San Francisco last night at GDC, where the company unveiled a new Android TV streamer, game console, and supercomputer, as NVIDIA's Jen Hsun Huang calls it, all wrapped up in a single, ultra-slim device called NVIDIA SHIELD. The SHIELD console is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1 SoC with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, Gig-E and 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO WiFi. It's also 4K Ultra-HD Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps (VP9, H265, H264) with encode/decode with full hardware processing. The company claims the console provides twice the performance of an Xbox 360. NVIDIA demo'ed the device with Android TV, streaming music and HD movies and browsing social media. The device can stream games from a GeForce powered PC to your television or from NVIDIA's GRID cloud gaming service, just like previous NVIDIA SHIELD devices. Native Android games will also run on the SHIELD console. NVIDIA's plan is to offer a wide array of native Android titles in the SHIELD store, as well as leverage the company's relationships with game developers to bring top titles to GRID. The device was shown playing Gearbox's Borderlands The Pre-Sequel, Doom 3 BFG Edition, Metal Gear Solid V, the Unreal Engine 4 Infiltrator demo and yes, even Crysis 3.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate 187

jones_supa writes: It should be safe to conclude that humans can see frame rates greater than 24 fps. The next question is: why do movies at 48 fps look "video-y," and why do movies at 24 fps look "dreamy" and "cinematic." Why are games more realistic at 60 fps than 30 fps? Simon Cooke from Microsoft (Xbox) Advanced Technology Group has an interesting theory to explain this all. Your eyes oscillate a tiny amount, ranging from 70 to 103 Hz (on average 83.68 Hz). So here's the hypothesis: The ocular microtremors wiggle the retina, allowing it to sample at approximately 2x the resolution of the sensors. Showing someone pictures that vary at less than half the rate of the oscillation means we're no longer receiving a signal that changes fast enough to allow the supersampling operation to happen. So we're throwing away a lot of perceived-motion data, and a lot of detail as well. Some of the detail can be restored with temporal antialiasing and simulating real noise, but ideally Cooke suggests going with a high enough frame rate (over 43 fps) and if possible, a high resolution.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Reviewed and Benchmarked 91

MojoKid writes To say that BioWare has something to prove with Dragon Age: Inquisition is an understatement. The first Dragon Age: Origins was a colossal, sprawling, unabashed throwback to classic RPGs. Conversely, Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn't just tell an epic story, it evolves in a way that leaves you, as the Inquisitor, leading an army. Creating that sense of scope required a fundamentally different approach to gameplay. Neither Dragon Origins or Dragon Age 2 had a true "open" world in the sense that Skyrim is an open world. Instead, players clicked on a location and auto-traveled across the map from Point A to Point B. Thus, a village might be contained within a single map, while a major city might have 10-12 different locations to explore. Inquisition keeps the concept of maps as opposed to a completely open world, but it blows those maps up to gargantuan sizes. Instead of simply consisting of a single town or a bit of wilderness, the new maps in Dragon Age: Inquisition are chock-full of areas to explore, side quests, crafting materials to gather, and caves, dungeons, mountain peaks, flowing rivers, and roving bands of monsters. And Inquisition doesn't forget the small stuff — the companion quests, the fleshed-out NPCs, or the rich storytelling — it just seeks to put those events in a much larger context across a broad geographical area. Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the best RPGs to come along in a long time. Never has a game tried to straddle both the large-scale, 10,000-foot master plan and the small-scale, intimate adventure and hit both so well. In terms of graphics performance, you might be surprised to learn that a Radeon R9 290X has better frame delivery than a GeForce GTX 980, despite the similarity in the overall frame rate. The worst frame time for an Radeon R9 290X is just 38.5ms or 26 FPS while a GeForce GTX 980 is at 46.7ms or 21 FPS. AMD takes home an overall win in Dragon Age: Inquisition currently, though Mantle support isn't really ready for prime time. In related news, hypnosec sends word that Chinese hackers claim to have cracked Denuvo DRM, the anti-piracy solution for Dragon Age: Inquisition. A Chinese hacker group has claimed that they have managed to crack Denuvo DRM — the latest anti-piracy measure to protect PC games from piracy. Introduced for the first time in FIFA 15 for PC, the Denuvo anti-piracy solution managed to keep the FIFA 15 uncracked for 2 months and Dragon Age Inquisition for a month. However, Chinese hackers claim that they have managed to rip open the DRM after fifteen days of work. The hackers have uploaded a video to prove their accomplishment. A couple of things need to be pointed out here. First,the Chinese team has merely cracked the DRM and this doesn't necessarily mean that there are working cracks out there. Also, the crack only works with Windows 7 64-bit systems and won't work on Windows 8 or Windows 7 32-bit systems for now. The team is currently working to collect hardware data on processor identification codes.

Ubisoft Points Finger At AMD For Assassin's Creed Unity Poor Performance 262

MojoKid (1002251) writes "Life is hard when you're a AAA publisher. Last month, Ubisoft blamed weak console hardware for the troubles it had bringing Assassin's Creed Unity up to speed, claiming that it could've hit 100 FPS but for weak console CPUs. Now, in the wake of the game's disastrous launch, the company has changed tactics — suddenly, all of this is AMD's fault. An official company forum post currently reads: "We are aware that the graphics performance of Assassin's Creed Unity on PC may be adversely affected by certain AMD CPU and GPU configurations. This should not affect the vast majority of PC players, but rest assured that AMD and Ubisoft are continuing to work together closely to resolve the issue, and will provide more information as soon as it is available." There are multiple problems with this assessment. First, there's no equivalent Nvidia-centric post on the main forum, and no mention of the fact that if you own an Nvidia card of any vintage but a GTX 970 or 980, you're going to see less-than ideal performance. According to sources, the problem with Assassin's Creed Unity is that the game is issuing tens of thousands of draw calls — up to 50,000 and beyond, in some cases. This is precisely the kind of operation that Mantle and DirectX 12 are designed to handle, but DirectX 11, even 11.2, isn't capable of efficiently processing that many calls at once. It's a fundamental limit of the API and it kicks in harshly in ways that adding more CPU cores simply can't help with.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Blizzard Announces Overwatch, a First-Person Shooter 183

Today at Blizzcon, Blizzard announced its first new franchise in 17 years: Overwatch. It's a first-person shooter, a type of game Blizzard hasn't made before. It seems to be based on team deathmatch combat, with a number of characters/classes that all have different abilities. The beta test will start sometime in 2015 (you can sign-up here at the official site, unless it gets crushed by traffic). Game director Jeffrey Kaplan (a.k.a. Tigole) said one of their big goals is to make it an approachable game in a way shooters often aren't. A cinematic trailer is available, as is a gameplay trailer. Blizzard has set up stations for players at Blizzcon to play Overwatch this weekend, so more details will be coming soon.

YouTube Opens Up 60fps To Everyone 152

jones_supa writes Four months ago YouTube promised support for 60 frames per second videos. Back then, the feature was limited to some selected demonstration clips. Now the capability to upload 60fps videos has been opened to everyone. By searching YouTube, a lot of interesting high-FPS material can already be found. For now, some caveats apply though. To watch the clips at 60fps you currently need to use Chrome (further browser support is on the way) and be sure to select 720p60 or 1080p60 from the settings menu of the video player. A fair amount of decoding power is also required, so you will need good hardware. In addition, YouTube says that the content format will be only available on "motion-intense" videos, and the average cat video may not be detected as such. Of course gaming will be the most obvious genre that can take advantage of the higher frame rate.

Getting 'Showdown' To 90 FPS In UE4 On Oculus Rift 30

An anonymous reader writes Oculus has repeatedly tapped Epic Games to whip up demos to show off new iterations of Oculus Rift VR headset hardware. The latest demo, built in UE4, is 'Showdown', an action-packed scene of slow motion explosions, bullets, and debris. The challenge? Oculus asked Epic to make it run at 90 FPS to match the 90 Hz refresh rate of the latest Oculus Rift 'Crescent Bay' prototype. At the Oculus Connect conference, two of the developers from the team that created the demo share the tricks and tools they used to hit that target on a single GPU.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Quake Meets Minecraft in FPS Construction Kit Gunscape 50

SlappingOysters writes: One of the highlighted games at the PAX AUS expo starting on October 31 is Blowfish Studios' Gunscape, a game described as an FPS construction kit. As well as building and sharing FPS maps for multiplayer gaming sessions across eight different modes, the game will also be able to handle up to nine-player splitscreen on a 4K display. This includes co-op map building.

Apple A8X IPad Air 2 Processor Packs Triple-Core CPU, Hefty Graphics Punch 130

MojoKid writes When Apple debuted its A8 SoC, it proved to be a modest tweak of the original A7. Despite packing double the transistors and an improved GPU, the heart of the A8 SoC is the same dual-core Apple "Cyclone" processor tweaked to run at higher clock speeds and with stronger total GPU performance. Given this, many expected that the Apple A8X would be cut from similar cloth — a higher clock speed, perhaps, and a larger GPU, but not much more than that. It appears those projections were wrong. The Apple A8X chip is a triple-core variant of the A8, with a higher clock speed (1.5GHz vs. 1.4GHz), a larger L2 cache (2MB, up from 1MB) and 2GB of external DDR3. It also uses an internal metal heatspreader, which the Apple A8 eschews. All of this points to slightly higher power consumption for the core, but also to dramatically increased performance. The new A8X is a significant power house in multiple types of workloads; in fact, its the top-performing mobile device on Geekbench by a wide margin. Gaming benchmarks are equally impressive. The iPad Air 2 nudges out Nvidia's Shield in GFXBench's Manhattan offscreen test, at 32.4fps to 31 fps. Onscreen favors the NV solution thanks to its lower-resolution screen, but the Nvidia device does take 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited by a wide margin, clocking in at 30,970 compared to 21,659.

Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles 338

MojoKid (1002251) writes A new interview with Assassin's Creed Unity senior producer Vincent Pontbriand has some gamers seeing red and others crying "told you so," after the developer revealed that the game's 900p framerate and 30 fps target on consoles is a result of weak CPU performance rather than GPU compute. "Technically we're CPU-bound," Pontbriand said. "The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it's the CPU that has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running in parallel. We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating, because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise..." This has been read by many as a rather damning referendum on the capabilities of AMD's APU that's under the hood of Sony's and Microsoft's new consoles. To some extent, that's justified; the Jaguar CPU inside both the Sony PS4 and Xbox One is a modest chip with a relatively low clock speed. Both consoles may offer eight CPU threads on paper, but games can't access all that headroom. One thread is reserved for the OS and a few more cores will be used for processing the 3D pipeline. Between the two, Ubisoft may have only had 4-5 cores for AI and other calculations — scarcely more than last gen, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 CPUs were clocked much faster than the 1.6 / 1.73GHz frequencies of their replacements.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Early Reviews of Destiny: Unfulfilled Potential 93

Destiny is a first-person shooter set in a persistent, online world. It was released on Tuesday by Bungie, the development studio behind Halo, and billed as a blending of console shooters and progression-based MMOs. Reviews for the game are finally trickling out, and most publications say it's merely average. (Though it's worth noting that the social and multiplayer portions of the game are difficult to evaluate in such a short timeframe, and like many MMOs, Destiny will continue to see active development.) Polygon's Arthur Gies reports, "Destiny doesn't look real, but rather, it looks like painted concept art, meticulously assembled and presented to you at all times. Instead, it's the suggestion, through Destiny's concept, its soundtrack and its visual presentation, that Destiny is big. That there's a whole universe out there to explore, a reality worth discovering. There isn't, though."

Jeff Gerstmann at Giant Bomb had a similar reaction: "There are cool little flashes of brilliance in Destiny, but a lot of it feels like a game designed by people who weren't sure what sort of game they were designing. Is it a loot shooter? Sort of, but the loot isn't very good. Is it an MMO? No, but you'll occasionally encounter other players out in the field. A story-driven shooter like the Halo franchise? Sure, if you don't mind digging through the developer's website to find those little bits of lore." The Escapist's Jim Sterling concludes, "Destiny exists in the shadow of multiple games, taking a little from each, and doing nothing truly remarkable with any of it. It's a prime example of how the nebulous concept of 'content' can be used to puff up a game without adding anything to it."
First Person Shooters (Games)

John Romero On Reinventing the Shooter 266

An anonymous reader writes: John Romero helped bring us Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein, but he's also known for Daikatana — an immensely-hyped followup that flopped hard. After remaining on the periphery of game development since then, Romero announced last month that he's coming back to the FPS genre with a new game in development. Today, he spoke with Develop Magazine about his thoughts on the future of shooters. Many players worry that the genre is stagnant, but Romero disagrees that this has to be the case. "Shooters have so many places to go, but people just copy the same thing over and over because they're afraid to try something new. We've barely scratched the surface."

He also thinks the technology underpinning games matters less than ever. Romero says high poly counts and new shaders are a distraction from what's important: good game design. "Look at Minecraft – it's unbelievable that it was made by one person, right? And it shows there's plenty of room for something that will innovate and change the whole industry. If some brilliant designers take the lessons of Minecraft, take the idea of creation and playing with an environment, and try to work out what the next version of that is, and then if other people start refining that, it'll take Minecraft to an area where it will become a real genre, the creation game genre."