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Graphics

Watch Dogs Graphics and Gameplay: PC Vs. Xbox One, With Surprising Results 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the platform-wars dept.
MojoKid writes: Normally, the question of whether a game runs better on the PC or a console is a no-brainer, at least for PC users. Watch Dogs, however, with its problematic and taxing PC play, challenges that concept. And since the gap between consoles and PCs is typically smallest at the beginning of the console generation, HotHardware decided to take the Xbox One out for a head-to-head comparison against the PC with this long-awaited title. What was found may surprise you. Depending on just how much horsepower your PC has, the Xbox One (and possibly the PS4 though that wasn't compared) might be the better option. There's no question that the PC can look better, even before you factor in the mods that have been released to date, but unless you've spent $300 or more on a fairly recent GPU, you're not going to be able to run the game at sufficiently high detail to benefit from the enhanced image quality and resolution. If you have a Radeon HD 7950 / R9 280 or an NVIDIA card with greater than 4GB of RAM or a GeForce GTX 780 / 780 Ti, you can happily observe Watch Dogs make hash out of the Xbox One — but statistically, only a minority of gamers have this sort of high-end hardware. This comparison should be viewed in light of the recent allegations that the PC version's graphics were deliberately handicapped.
First Person Shooters (Games)

The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of Battlefield 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the profit-motive dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ben Kuchera at Polygon recommends against buying the upcoming Battlefield Hardline first-person shooter. Not because it's bad — in fact, he doesn't really offer an opinion on how good the game is — but because it's time to stop incentivizing poor behavior from Electronic Arts and its Digital Illusions CE development studio. After EA acquired DICE, Battlefield game launches accelerated, and launch issues with each game were hand-waved away as unpredictable. The studio's principled stand against paid DLC evaporated in order to feed the ever-hungry beast of shareholder value. Kuchera says, "EA continues this because the Battlefield franchise is profitable; we as players have taught them that we'll buy anyway, and continue to support games that don't work at launch." He suggests avoiding pre-orders, and only buying the game if and when it's in a playable (and fun) state. "Every dollar that's spent on Hardline before the game comes out is a vote for things continuing down an anti-consumer path. If the game is a hit before its launch, that sends a message that we're OK with business as usual, and business as usual has become pretty terrible."
Graphics

Was Watch Dogs For PC Handicapped On Purpose? 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the following-the-console-dollars dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: Many PC gamers were disappointed that Ubisoft's latest AAA game, Watch_Dogs, did not look as nice as when displayed at E3 in 2012. But this week a modder discovered that code to improve the game's graphics on the PC is still buried within the released game, and can be turned back on without difficulty or performance hits. Ubisoft has yet to answer whether (or why) their PC release was deliberately handicapped. Gaming commentator Total Biscuit has a video explaining the controversy.
PC Games (Games)

Watch Dogs Released, DRM Troubles 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the barking-up-the-wrong-tree dept.
Today marked the launch of Watch Dogs, a highly-anticipated action-adventure game from Ubisoft. Early reviews for the game are fairly good, but not without complaints. Eurogamer said, 'Combat encounters also draw inspiration from existing games, with slightly stiff but workable sneaking and cover mechanics and decent if unremarkable gunplay. ... There's a sense of sterility beneath the surface, though. As dazzling as the game can look, this Chicago feels like a place you travel through rather than a world you inhabit. Pedestrians gasp and gawp at car crashes, but exhibit no real life.' Polygon's review complimented the bits of structure within the open-world game: "More than any stealth game I can think of, Watch Dogs does a remarkable job in allowing for proper preparation. It creates a universal environment of constant puzzle solving, which sits cozily next to all the action on display." Rock, Paper, Shotgun added, "It feels churlish to complain about something which is only magical 90% of the time, but in some things, ten percent can seep out and render the rest infuriating and useless." It's worth noting that some users are running into problems even playing game, thanks to authentication issues with Ubisoft's UPlay digital distribution service.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Wolfenstein: The New Order Launches 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the nazi-killing-games-will-outlive-any-actual-nazis dept.
Back in 1992, Wolfenstein 3D helped kick off the fledgling FPS genre. Today, the saga continues with Wolfenstein: the New Order. It's set in an alternate-history world where the Nazis won WW2, with hero B.J. Blazkowicz setting out to join resistance fighters. Unusually for a modern FPS, the game has no multiplayer element — it's single-player only. Early reviews for the game are generally positive. Polygon's says, "First, stealth is a valid option for extended portions of the game, with silent melee takedowns and a brutally effective suppressed pistol. There's also a form of progression in Wolfenstein: The New Order's perk system. Performing certain actions in combat unlocks new abilities and upgrades over time, which can make a significant difference in the way you can tackle firefights. You can also find weapon upgrades that further escalate the raw, over-the-top violence on display. This combination of old ideas and new hooks seems mismatched, but I was taken aback by how well it all worked together."

Eurogamer had some criticism: "Less impressive are the plot and the characters, which often feel like they exist only to amplify the opportunities for violence and sensationalism. ... I wouldn't say it's offensive, but Wolfenstein: The New Order isn't a very tactful game, even though it's often trying to be. ... This is a game that does everything it needs to to earn an 18 certificate but rarely manages to achieve a sense of either gravity or maturity." The game is out for the PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, and Windows. It's build on the id Tech 5 engine, and that's causing some graphics issues on the PC, much like RAGE did when it launched in 2011. The game's massive size (~50GB) is causing problems for PS4 owners as well.
PC Games (Games)

In the New Age of Game Development, Gamers Have More Power Than Ever 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the become-the-squeakiest-wheel-for-only-$250 dept.
Velcroman1 writes: "In the olden times before high-speed Internet, the game you purchased on day one was what you were still playing months later. Now we live in an era of day-one patches, hotfixes, balance updates, and more. Diablo III, for example, is unrecognizable today compared to the state it was in when it launched back in 2012. Nowadays, savvy gamers go in expecting their experience to change over time — to improve over time. Today, 'Early Access' is both an acknowledgment of the dangers of early adoption (no one likes to be a guinea pig, after all) and an opportunity for enthusiastic consumers to have a say in how the product they've purchased will take shape. In this article, Adam Rosenberg talks with Michael McMain, CEO and founder of Xaviant, and creative director on the indie studio's first project — Lichdom: Battlemage, which embraces the concept like never before."
PC Games (Games)

The Million-Dollar Business of Video Game Cheating 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-those-birds-are-so-angry dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If you play games online against other people, chances are you've come up against somebody who's obviously cheating. Wall hacks, aimbots, map hacks, item dupes — you name it, and there will always be a small (but annoying) segment of the gaming population who does it. Many of these cheating methods are bought and sold online, and PCGamer has done some investigative reporting to show us rule-abiding types how it all works. A single cheat-selling website manages to pull in $300,000 a year, and it's one of many. The people running the site aren't worried about their business drying up, either — game developers quickly catch 'rage cheaters,' and players cheating to be seen, but they have a much harder time detecting the 'closet cheaters' who hide it well. Countermeasures like PunkBuster and VAC are sidestepped quickly and easily."
Role Playing (Games)

BioWare Announces Dragon Age Inquisition For October 7th 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the nobody-expects-the-dragonish-inquisition dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today BioWare announced a new game in its popular Dragon Age RPG series titled Inquisition. The game will follow the story of an Inquisitor trying to rally the world against the magic-laden forces spewing from rifts opening to another place. The game's creative director, Mike Laidlaw, says players will be able to watch the world descend into chaos, and then deal with the burdens of power as they rally forces in opposition. BioWare is also taking the opportunity to fix all of the things they broke in Dragon Age 2: 'Top-down tactical view is back. Playable races are back. The game seems to have more of an emphasis on challenge thanks to non-regenerative health.' The game will launch on October 7th for the PC, PS3/4, and Xbox 360/One."
PC Games (Games)

Steam's Most Popular Games 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the goat-simulator-falls-just-short dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Ars Technica scraped a ton of gameplay data from Steam's player profiles to provide statistics on how many people own each game, and how often it's played. For example: 37% of the ~781 million games owned by Steam users have never been played. Dota 2 has been played by almost 26 million people for a total of 3.8 billion hours. Players of CoD: Modern Warfare 2 spend six times as long in multiplayer as in single-player. This sampling gives much more precise data than we usually have about game sales rates. 'If there's one big takeaway from looking at the entirety of our Steam sales and player data, it's that a few huge ultra-hits are driving the majority of Steam usage. The vast majority of titles form a "long tail" of relative crumbs. Out of about 2,750 titles we've tracked using our sampling method, the top 110 sellers represent about half of the individual games registered to Steam accounts. That's about four percent of the distinct titles, each of which has sold 1.38 million copies or more. This represents about 50 percent of the registered sales on the service. ... about half of the estimated 18.5 billion man-hours that have been spent across all Steam games have gone toward just the six most popular titles.'"
PC Games (Games)

PC Gaming Alive and Dominant 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-my-cold,-dead-hands dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on a panel at PAX East which delved into the strength of the PC as a platform for games, and what its future looks like. The outlook is positive: 'Even as major computer OEMs produce numbers showing falling sales, the PC as a platform (and especially a gaming platform) actually shows strong aggregate growth.' The panelists said that while consoles get a lot of the headlines, the PC platform remains the only and/or best option for a lot of developers and gamers. They briefly addressed piracy, as well: 'Piracy, [Matt Higby] said, is an availability and distribution problem. The more games are crowdfunded and digitally delivered and the less a "store" figures into buying games, the less of a problem piracy becomes. [Chris Roberts] was quick to agree, and he noted that the shift to digital distribution also helps the developers make more money — they ostensibly don't have everyone along the way from retailers to publishers to distributors taking their cut from the sale.'"
PC Games (Games)

Civilization: Beyond Earth Announced 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the montezuma-takes-over-the-universe dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today at PAX East, Firaxis announced Civilization: Beyond Earth. It's a new Civ game inspired by their sci-fi strategy classic Alpha Centauri. Beyond Earth is currently planned to launch this year on the PC. According to Game Informer: 'Beyond Earth presents an opportunity for Firaxis to throw off the shackles of human history and give players the chance to sculpt their own destinies. Civilization games typically have a set endpoint at humanities modern age, but Beyond Earth has given Firaxis the opportunity and the challenge of creating a greater sense of freedom. ... The five different victory conditions that represent that next major event in human history are tied to the new technology web. At the start of the game, players will choose leaders and factions (no longer bundled with one another) and choose colonists and equipment to settle the land. Once descending from orbit, the technology web allows players to move in a number of directions.'"
Cloud

GameSpy Multiplayer Shutting Down, Affecting Hundreds of Games 145

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-you-may-no-longer-experience dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For over a decade, GameSpy has provided and hosted multiplayer services for a variety of video games. GameSpy was purchased in 2012, and there were some worrying shutdowns of older servers, which disabled multiplayer capabilities for a number of games. Now, the whole service is going offline on May 31. Some publishers are scrambling to move to other platforms, while others are simply giving up on those games. Nintendo's recent abandonment of Wi-Fi games was a result of their reliance on GameSpy's servers. Bohemia Interactive, developers of the Arma series, said the GameSpy closure will affect matchmaking and CD-key authentication."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Measuring the Xbox One Against PCs With Titanfall 377

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-you're-thinking-with-death-robots dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, Respawn Entertainment launched Titanfall, a futuristic first-person shooter with mechs that has been held up as the poster child for the Xbox One. The Digital Foundry blog took the opportunity to compare how the game plays on the Xbox One to its performance on a well-appointed PC. Naturally, the PC version outperforms, but the compromises are bigger than you'd expect for a newly-released console. For example, it runs at an odd resolution (1408x792), the frame rate 'clearly isn't anywhere near locked' to 60fps, and there's some unavoidable screen tear. Reviews for the game are generally positive — RPS says most of the individual systems in Titanfall are fun, but the forced multiplayer interaction is offputting. Giant Bomb puts it more succinctly: 'Titanfall is a very specific game built for a specific type of person.' Side note: the game has a 48GB install footprint on PCs, owing largely to 35GB of uncompressed audio."
Censorship

Battlefield 4 Banned In China 380

Posted by Soulskill
from the yet-candy-crush-gets-a-pass dept.
hypnosec writes "The Chinese government has officially banned Battlefield 4, stating that Electronic Arts has developed a game that not only threatens national security of the country, but is also a form of cultural invasion. The country's Ministry of Culture has issued a notice banning all material retailed to the game in any form, including the game itself, related downloads, demos, patches and even news reports. According to PCGames.com.cn [Chinese language], Battlefield 4 has been characterized as illegal game on the grounds that the game endangers national security and cultural aggression."
PC Games (Games)

The Battle For the Game Industry's Soul 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-i-don't-want-to-buy-a-stupid-hat-for-my-character dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times has a story about the imminent release of Battlefield 4 on 29 October, as it's one of the most highly-anticipated video games of the year. The most interesting part of the article is where it highlights what a mammoth undertaking such 'AAA' games have become. There are hundreds upon hundreds of people working full time on it, and hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in its development. These number have been rising and rising over the years; how big do they get before it becomes completely unfeasible to top your last game? The article also points out that the PC platform is beginning to wane in popularity. Nobody's quite sure yet whether it'll level out or go into serious decline, but you can bet development studios are watching closely. With bigger and bigger stakes, how long before they decide it's not worth the risk? Even consoles aren't safe: 'Electronic Arts is nevertheless trying to extend franchises like Battlefield to devices, because it must. But at the same time, it has to grapple with the threats undermining traditional gaming. Though the classic consoles are getting reboots this fall, there is no guarantee that new models will permanently revive the format's fortunes.' And of course, the question must be asked: do we even want the 'AAA' games to stick around?"
Books

Ask Author David Craddock About the Development of Diablo, Warcraft 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the stay-awhile-and-ask-questions dept.
The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus, and their success elevated the status of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North to the point that further games are still hotly anticipated more than 15 years later. In an effort to discover and document that part of gaming history, author David L. Craddock conducted extensive interviews with early Blizzard developers. His intent was to investigate how both of the Blizzard studios succeeded at breaking into a saturated and competitive industry, and how their design process influenced both their acclaimed releases and the projects they discarded along the way. He's writing a series of books about the history of Blizzard, titled Stay Awhile and Listen. The first is due out on October 31st, and David has agreed to answer your questions about his investigation into those early games. David will be joined by Blizzard North co-founders David Brevik and Max Schaefer. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
PC Games (Games)

Half-Life 3 Trademark Filed In Europe 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the break-out-your-jump-to-conclusions-playmat dept.
jones_supa writes "A trademark application for Half-Life 3, possibly the next entry in Valve's excruciatingly dormant Half-Life franchise, has been filed in Europe, according to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Union's trademark and designs registry. The OHIM's database lists the Half-Life 3 trademark as owned by Valve Corporation, and filed on its behalf by Casalonga & Associés, a patent and trademark firm. The trademark covers 'computer game software,' 'downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices' and other goods and services. The application was filed on Sept. 29. There is no equivalent trademark on record at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."
Input Devices

What Valve's Announcements Mean for Gaming 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the steam-team's-dream-stream dept.
Now that we have the full picture of Valve's efforts to bring PC gaming to the living room (SteamOS, dedicated hardware, and a fresh controller design), people are starting to analyze what those efforts will mean for gaming, and what Valve must do to be successful. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh points out that even if Steam Machines aren't able to take the market away from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, they put us a step closer to the final console generation. "Valve has hopefully sidestepped the most depressing aspect of console gaming: the enforced obsolescence that makes you consign your entire games collection to a dusty cupboard every five years." GamesRadar notes that Valve's approach is fundamentally different from that of the current console manufacturers because it's about putting more power into the hands of the users. "The takeaway from SteamOS, then, is that openness breeds innovation. Valve's putting the very source code of its operating system in the hands of everyone who wants it just to see what happens. Comparatively, Microsoft is pushing its Windows Store, turning Windows into an increasingly closed platform (i.e. one that charges costly development licensing fees and restricts access to certain content providers)." Everyone's curious to see how the controller will perform, so Gamasutra and Kotaku reached out to a number of game developers who have experimented with prototypes already. "[Dan Tabar of indie studio Data Realms] said the configuration map for the controller allows you to do 'pretty much anything.' For example, developers can slice up a pad into quarters, each one representing a different input, or even into eight radial sections, again, each section representing whatever you want, mapping to key combinations, or to the mouse." Tommy Refenes, co-creator of Super Meat Boy, wrote an in-depth description of his experience with the device. He summed up his reaction by saying, "Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine."
Input Devices

Valve Announces Steam Controller 317

Posted by Soulskill
from the long-awaited-innovation dept.
Today Valve unveiled their third and final announcement about living room gaming: a Steam controller. The company made the determination that existing gamepads simply weren't good enough for bringing PC games to the living room, so they made their own. Instead of having directional pads or thumb sticks, the Steam controller has two circular trackpads. The trackpads are also clickable, and Valve claims they provide much higher fidelity than any previous controller trackpad. Valve also eschewed the traditional 'rumble' feedback mechanism: "The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement." The center of the controller holds a clickable touchscreen. "When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven't thought of yet." The design also breaks up the common diamond-shaped button layout, instead putting the A B X Y buttons at the corners of the touchscreen. The controller is designed to be hackable, and Valve will "make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering." The controller is being beta tested concurrently with the Steam Machines they announced on Wednesday, so you can expect them to be on sale in 2014.
PC Games (Games)

Valve Announces Family Sharing On Steam, Can Include Friends 263

Posted by Soulskill
from the microsoft-looks-on-sadly dept.
Deathspawner writes "Valve has today announced its next attempt at a console-killer: 'Family Sharing' is a feature that will allow you to share your Steam library with family and close friends. This almost seems too good to be true, and while there are caveats, this is going to be huge, and Valve knows it. As Techgage notes, with it you can share nearly your entire Steam library with family or friends, allowing them to earn their own achievements, and have their own saved games. 'Once a device is authorized, the lender's library of Steam games becomes available for others on the machine to access, download, and play. Though simultaneous usage of an account’s library is not allowed, the lender may always access and play his games at any time. If he decides to start playing when a friend is borrowing one of his games, the friend will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.'"

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