Archive for the ‘PC gaming’ Category

Video: Inside the artistic mind of Dead Space designer Glen Schofield

January 16th, 2019

Video directed by Sean Dacanay, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Click here for transcript.

Our recent visit to Dead Space designer Glen Schofield's home to discuss the challenges of developing the horror classic left us with an enormous amount of footage to sort through. Glen was very generous with his time and allowed us more than simply a peek behind the curtain—we got a full tour through the man's artistic mind and processes.

This video is perhaps not as directly game-focused as our previous one, but Glen was brimming with words of wisdom for aspiring game artists—and aspiring artists in general. He tells of his professional beginnings, dutifully toiling away in the Barbie mines at Absolute Entertainment and getting the last laugh when he was promoted over other Barbie-eschewing coworkers. He discusses the artist's eye and how immersing oneself in art alters the way one perceives the world—an engineer might look at a machine and see in their mind the way the parts mesh and the gears turn, while an artist sees the machine and thinks of how to represent it on a canvas in terms of light and shadow. Both disciplines see things that are hidden or non-obvious to everyone else, and both require a blend of talent and training.

My mother is a painter and illustrator, and I hear many of the things she told me growing up echoed in Glen's advice. Artists see the world in a way that other disciplines do not, and the best artists—artists like Schofield—are able to create compelling images that draw the viewer in and allow them to experience some of the artist's own emotions.

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Posted in Ars Technica Videos, console gaming, Dead Space, Gaming & Culture, Glen Schofield, PC gaming, war stories | Comments (0)

Video: Dead Space’s scariest moment almost dragged down the entire project

January 8th, 2019

Video directed by Sean Dacanay, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Click here for transcript. Special thanks to Glen Schofield and Chris Stone for assistance gathering footage.

I need to get this out of the way right up front: the War Stories video crew here at Ars loves Dead Space. The game turned 10 years old this past October, and it's a near-perfect execution of the survival horror genre—the world, the sound design, and the mechanics are all spot-on, even after a decade. It's also one of the games we've had on our War Stories to-do list since the very beginning, and we're excited to finally have this video to share with you all.

Executive producer/creator Glen Schofield was fortunately just as excited to talk about the game as we are, and he invited us into his home to tell us the tale of how Isaac Clarke and the USG Ishimura came to be. Creating Dead Space required Schofield and team to create not just an entire original IP (complete with lore and world-building) but new game mechanisms and new ways to tell a story. The focus of putting the player directly into protagonist Isaac Clarke's somewhat clunky shoes affected every decision, and the resulting game managed to be refreshingly original while also paying respectful homage to other horror movies and games (most notably Event Horizon and Resident Evil, respectively.

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Posted in Ars Technica Videos, console gaming, Dead Space, Dead Space 2, Features, Gaming & Culture, Glen Schofield, horror, PC gaming, videos, war stories | Comments (0)

Samsung sticks Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU inside new Odyssey gaming notebook

January 7th, 2019

Samsung

Samsung is making news at CES 2019—but not for an obvious reason. The Korean manufacturer announced its first new gaming laptop in quite some time: the Samsung Notebook Odyssey. While Samsung has made gaming devices with the Odyssey name, this new notebook appears to compete with similarly powerful and portable gaming PCs from the likes of Acer, Alienware, and Razer.

Most noteworthy is the graphics card inside the Notebook Odyssey: the new Nvidia RTX 2080. Nvidia just announced these new graphics cards, which will come to at least 40 laptops soon. The RTX 2080 and RTX 2060 cards promise big performance and efficiency gains over their GTX counterparts, with the RTX 2080 serving up 20 percent more performance when compared to the GTX 1080 GPU. They also bring ray-tracing abilities to the PCs they power, a process used in films to make live-action graphics look hyper-realistic.

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Posted in CES 2019, Gaming & Culture, gaming notebook, laptop, notebook odyssey, PC gaming, Samsung, Tech | Comments (0)

You can now download the long-lost (and unfinished) SimCity NES port

December 26th, 2018

Nintendo/Maxis/VGHF

This year, we learned that a long-lost version of the classic gaming series SimCity, originally meant for the NES, had found its way from Nintendo's archives to the hands of collectors. That story got a tidy Christmas update this week in the form of a comprehensive data dump, complete with stories, videos, and—perhaps most important—a ROM download of the working, incomplete game.

Frank Cifaldi, founder of the non-profit Video Game History Foundation, posted the complete story on Tuesday. There's a lot of catch-up to be done about how the heck this SimCity version came to be, and Cifaldi breaks down some important tales, including the origins of SimCity, how Nintendo got involved, and the working relationship of game-industry legends Shigeru Miyamoto and Will Wright.

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Posted in console gaming, Gaming & Culture, maxis, NES, nintendo entertainment system, PC gaming, retrogaming, SimCity | Comments (0)

Video: Total War: Rome II devs built all of Europe—and the AI ignored most of it

December 18th, 2018

Shot and edited by Justin Wolfson. Motion graphics by John Cappello. Click here for transcript.

Creative Assembly's Total War franchise has been around for so long that it's old enough to drive, vote, and even drink in most countries. For the three people reading this who haven't played at least one title in the series, the games provide a blend of real-time strategy and turn-based resource management that manages to scratch a number of itches simultaneously. You can direct the conquest of large regions from a god's-eye overhead view and then step down to the battlefield and move units around like Command and Conquer.

As technology and the 2000s progressed, new entries in the series became more sophisticated; by the time 2013 rolled around and Creative Assembly was working its magic on Total War: Rome II, the design goals were ambitious indeed. Designers wanted to give players total freedom to move around all of classical-era Europe, from Caledonia to Arachosia and all points in between. Building a canvas this broad to play on meant the small team of designers had to rely on some clever procedural tools, and although you might expect those tools to be the point of this particular War Story, that's not actually what the problem turned out to be.

What if we threw a war and nobody came?

In order to properly test a game with thousands of square miles of playable space, the designers employed automated tools running on their office PCs. In the evenings when it was time to go home, Creative Assembly would set as many PCs as they could to playing the game in AI-only mode, iterating through battles and scenarios in order to help see which units needed balancing and which scenarios needed tweaking. Along the way, they would also find areas where their procedural terrain generation hadn't gotten things quite right (like requiring a campaign battle to awkwardly play out on a near-vertical slope).

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Posted in ars technica video, Ars Technica Videos, creative assembly, Gaming & Culture, PC gaming, Rome, rts, Sega, strategy, total war, total war: rome ii, video, war stories | Comments (0)

Microsoft is bringing all-you-can-play Game Pass subscription to PC

October 25th, 2018
The arrow is pointing to a PC that's just off-frame to the right.

Enlarge / The arrow is pointing to a PC that's just off-frame to the right.

Microsoft says PC players will be able to access a version of its all-you-can-download Xbox Game Pass subscription service some time in the future.

The news comes from CEO Satya Nadella, who mentioned the move offhandedly in response to a question about cloud gaming in a recent earnings call. Nadella said "increasing the strength of the community" around the Xbox brand is important to the company's bottom line and that "obviously, bringing Game Pass to even the PC is going to be a big element of that."

It's not clear which PC games exactly would be included with such a subscription or whether PC games would require their own separate subscription on top of the existing console Game Pass. For years, Microsoft has been promoting its "Play Anywhere" initiative for games that you buy once and play across PC and console, though we've run into trouble with that compatibility in practical testing.

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Posted in games pass, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, PC gaming, Windows | Comments (0)

Final Fantasy 15 on PC: Has Square Enix lost its way, or do graphics really matter?

August 25th, 2017

Enlarge

In a tech demo, which debuted at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference in May, famed Japanese developer Square Enix recreated a cinema-quality, computer-generated character inside of a video game. Nyx Ulric, voiced by Aaron Paul in the CGI film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, had been previously been confined to the silver screen, where the complexity of producing of detailed computer graphics is offloaded to vast farms of computers one frame at a time (each taking hours to render), before 24 of them are pieced together to create a single second of film.

With top-of-line PC hardware from Nvidia (the server-grade Tesla V100, no less), Square Enix pulled character models and textures from the film, and displayed them in real-time using Luminous Studio Pro, the same engine that powers Final Fantasy XV on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and—with the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition in 2018—PC. Like any good tech demo, Kingsglaive is as impressive as it is impractical, featuring authentic modelling of hair, skin, leather, fur, and lighting that no PC or console on the market today can display (at least in 4K).

The Xbox One X, Microsoft’s “most powerful console in the world,” sports around six teraflops of processing power (FP32, for those technically inclined) to push graphics at 4K resolution—that’s four times the number of pixels as a typical HD television. The Kingsglaive tech demo requires over 12 teraflops of processing power, more than is found in Nvidia’s $1000/£1000 Titan Xp graphics card.

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Posted in AMD, Final Fantasy VII Remake, final fantasy XV, Gaming & Culture, NVIDIA, PC gaming, Square Enix | Comments (0)

Jurassic World Evolution is a theme park sim from Planet Coaster dev Frontier

August 20th, 2017

Frontier, the developer behind the sublime Elite Dangerous and Planet Coaster has new sim in the works. Jurassic World Evolution is a theme park sim, but instead of ferris wheels you have Triceratops, and instead of worrying about guests getting sick, you have to worry about guests getting eaten by a freaking T-Rex.

Jurassic World Evolution puts players in control of operations on the island of Isla Nublar, as featured in the original Jurassic Park. The goal is to build new attractions, bioengineer new dinosaur breeds, and figure out the best way to keep said dinosaurs away from paying punters. “Every choice leads to a different path and spectacular challenges will arise when ‘life finds a way,'” says Microsoft.

Further details are thin on the ground, but there is a release date of “Summer 2018,” which just so happens to be when the next film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, is due to be released.

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Posted in console gaming, elite dangerous, frontier, Gaming & Culture, Jurassic World Evolution, PC gaming, planet coaster, Xbox One | Comments (0)

AMD Threadripper 1950X review: Better than Intel in almost every way

August 10th, 2017

Enlarge / With an orange and blue color scheme to boot…

If Ryzen was a polite, if firm way of telling the world that AMD is back in the processor game, then Threadripper is a foul-mouthed, middle-finger-waving, kick-in-the-crotch “screw you” aimed squarely at the usurious heart of Intel. It’s an olive branch to a part of the PC market stung by years of inflated prices, sluggish performance gains, and the feeling that, if you’re not interested in low-power laptops, Intel isn’t interested in you.

Where Intel charges $1,000/£1,000 for 10 cores and 20 threads in the form of the Core i9-7900X, AMD offers 16C/32T with Threadripper 1950X. Where Intel limits chipset features and PCIe lanes the further down the product stack you go—the latter being ever more important as storage moves away from the SATA interface—AMD offers quad-channel memory, eight DIMM slots, and 64 PCIe lanes even on the cheapest CPU for the platform.

Threadripper embraces the enthusiasts, the system builders, and the content creators that shout loud and complain often, but evangelise products like no other. It’s the new home for extravagant multi-GPU setups, and RAID arrays built on thousands of dollars worth of M.2 SSDs. It’s where performance records can be broken, and where content creators can shave precious minutes from laborious production tasks, while still having more than enough remaining horsepower to get their game on.

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Posted in AMD, Ars Approved, CPUs, Gadgetology, Gaming & Culture, Intel, PC gaming, pc hardware, Ryzen, Tech, Threadripper, X299, X399 | Comments (0)

The external graphics dream is real: Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box reviewed

August 3rd, 2017

Enlarge / The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box and Sapphire RX 580. (credit: Mark Walton)

Specs at a glance: Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box
Power 350W Asaka AK-PS035AF01 SFX
Ports 1x PCIe 3.0 X16, 1x Thunderbolt 3.0
Size 18.5cm x 34.0cm x 20.2cm
Other perks 120mm Asaka Fan
Price $300 (~£300, but TBC)

The external graphics card (or eGFX), long the pipe dream of laptop-touting gamers the world over, has finally come of age. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3—which offers up to 40Gbps of bandwidth, the equivalent of four PCIe 3.0 lanes—consumers finally have access to enough bandwidth in a universal standard to make eGFX a viable option.

So the theory goes, you can now take most laptops with a Thunderbolt 3 port, plug in a box containing a power supply and your GPU of choice, and enjoy better visuals and higher frame rates in games, and faster rendering in production tasks. You can even whack a PCIe video capture card or a production-ready audio interface in that external box, if you so wish.

Thus far the limiting factor, aside from some potential performance bottlenecks and driver support, has been price. The Razer Core, as beautifully designed as it is, costs a whopping £500/$500 without a graphics card—and that’s if it’s even in stock. Meanwhile, the Asus ROG XG Station 2—which is most certainly not beautifully designed—costs £400/$400. When paired with a decent graphics card like an Nvidia GTX 1070 or an AMD RX 580, a full eGFX setup runs just shy of £900/$900, not including the price of a laptop to pair it with.

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Posted in AMD, eGFX, Features, Gadgetology, Gaming & Culture, GPU, Nvida, PC gaming, Tech | Comments (0)