OCC TECH NEWS
Belgian studio GRIN is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for its dark fairy tale platformer Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, and I was fortunate enough to receive access to the alpha demo. Instead of simply posting a gameplay video and writing about my first impressions, I decided to narrate as I play. The footage and audio was recorded using NVIDIA ShadowPlay, but the in-game volume gets quite loud, so I apologize for the narration getting drowned out at times. As this is merely an alpha demo, there are no volume options, so it is what it is. Nothing in this demo should be viewed as indicative of the game's final build quality, especially since a lot of animations and systems aren't implemented yet. In fact, the game seems to run at slightly under 720p.
Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is planned for a Q1 2015 release on PC with Closed Beta to begin next month. If you'd like to support the project, the minimum Kickstarter pledge is $15, which grants you the full game upon release along with the Kickstarter-exclusive Toy Soldier Editor; Steam key or DRM-free via GOG.com. Closed Beta access starts at $50 and up, while Alpha access starts at $100 and up. The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, September 4, 2014, at 5:55PM EDT.
August 27, 2014
While the Xbox One has been available for quite some time now without the Kinect sensor, the Kinect itself has been unavailable to purchase separately at a later time. Microsoft is looking to change that, as it will soon offer the Xbox One standalone Kinect sensor to customers who initially purchase the Xbox One console by itself. The Xbox One Kinect will be available starting on October 7, 2014, and will come with Dance Central Spotlight, the latest video game in the dance series from developer Harmonix. The sensor allows for voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect games.
The standalone Xbox One Kinect will cost customers $149.99. At that price point, it seems that if a customer has any intention of purchasing the Kinect for the Xbox One at a later time, they might as well purchase the bundled version of the Xbox One upfront.
Source: Xbox Wire
More and more it looks assured that we will see silicon be replaced in electronics with flexible and transparent materials. Researchers at the University of Washington have recently created a heterojunction between a pair of two-dimensional semiconductors that could find use in future technologies.
Heterojunctions are where two different materials meet and combine, and because of the combination, the junction itself possesses different properties than the two materials. In this case the two materials were molybdenum diselenide and tungsten diselenide, which are both monolayer materials and have similar structures. The similar structures greatly helped in forming the junctions without any distortions or discontinuities. To create the composite material, the researchers put a powder mixture of both materials in a chamber heated to 900 ºC and passed hydrogen gas through it. This caused some of the evaporated atoms to move over to a cooler part of the chamber, where they could form single-layer crystals. Thanks to the different properties of the materials, they evaporate at different times, so they go to the cooler region at different times as well. After the first material cooled and former triangular crystals, the second came over and attached to the edges, forming the heterojunction.
While this experiment only used molybdenum diselenide and tungsten diselenide, the process could be used to combine other two-dimensional materials to achieve a variety of properties for use as LEDs, photovoltaics, in-line quantum wells, and more. No matter the use though, the process should be fairly easy to scale up for mass production, by using a large furnace.
Source: University of Washington
If multiplayer could be added to the third iteration of Mass Effect, why not the third iteration of Dragon Age? Electronic Arts and BioWare have unveiled four-player co-op will be present in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and in a lot of ways, they're handling it similarly to what they did with Mass Effect 3. Instead of co-op being seamlessly integrated into the main campaign, Inquisition's multiplayer mode will feature cooperative quests that are separate from the single-player world. Three such quests will be available at launch, but randomness will ensure replayability. Each campaign randomly generates a large map that is comprised of smaller sections. Those smaller sections are chosen from ten pre-designed areas, but each have distinct variables that change things up, like different enemy encounters or breakable walls.
Unlike Mass Effect 3, BioWare states that multiplayer in Inquisition will have no impact on single-player progression or story; it's a completely standalone experience. In fact, even the characters you choose are completely separate. At launch, players can unlock up to twelve characters across the three classes: Legionnaire, Reaver, and Mage. You can checkout a screenshot of the character selection screen below. Each will play different and are leveled separately with a level cap of 20. You'll also be able to collect loot, salvage items, and craft new weapons and armor, but there will be no auction house and no trading amongst players.
Everything in multiplayer will be accessible simply by grinding, but if you want to speed things up, you can purchase Platinum, which can in turn can be used to buy some unlocks a bit quicker; but again, everything will be purchasable via in-game gold. BioWare never intends to sell items or multiplayer content. BioWare's Scylla Costa told IGN that there will be new heroes, levels, and additional content added to multiplayer over time, but that "it's all free DLC for everyone."
Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch on November 18 in North America and November 21 in Europe for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The Standard Edition costs $59.99 for all platforms, while a Deluxe Edition is available for $69.99 and includes the following bonus content: Flames of the Inquisition Armor, Flames of the Inquisition Armored Mount, Skyhold Throne, Red Hart Halla, Bog Unicorn, and the digital soundtrack. Pre-ordering either version grants you some nice fiery weapons from the Flames of the Inquisition Arsenal.
Source: Press Release and Official Site and IGN
Dropbox has revealed that it has consolidated its three Pro account options, which previously included 100GB, 200GB, and 500GB of storage, priced at $9.99, $19.99, and $49.99 per month, respectively. The new Pro plan offers quite a bit of value compared to the old storage options, as it includes 1TB of storage for just $9.99 per month. Dropbox Pro also includes various features that will surely appeal to potential subscribers, such as password protection for links and documents, time expiration options for links, and view-only permissions. Dropbox is aiming its latest Pro plan at customers who need more storage than its Basic plan, which starts at 2GB, but do not need as much storage or as many tools that Dropbox for Business offers.
Source: Dropbox Blog
One day we may use electrical wires and cables capable of transmitting currents without resistance. The key to this future is understanding superconductivity, the phenomenon that enables it. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University have recently made an interesting discovery concerning iron-based superconductors that challenges some long held beliefs.
Superconductivity arises in certain materials when they are brought down below some critical temperature. For the earliest superconductors, this temperature was just above absolute zero, but since then we have discovered high-temperature superconductors that have critical temperatures significantly higher, though still far from room temperature. Some of these superconductors are iron-based materials, which was unexpected initially as these materials also have magnetic properties. Large-range magnetism is known to suppress superconductivity, but now it has been discovered that local magnetic moments do not disrupt it In fact these isolated areas of magnetism within the material may assist superconductivity, as they are at their maximum when superconductivity is. The researchers also discovered that the number of electrons in the moments was the same for different kinds of iron-based superconductors, though their distributions differed.
Beyond the potential for understanding superconductivity better, this research could also have an impact on other technological materials and devices. To do the study, the researchers had to develop a way to measure the local moments, which had not been done before as previous research always looked at the bulk average.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
August 26, 2014
Seagate has announced that it has begun shipping the worlds first 8TB mechanical hard drives. The extremely large capacity drives will benefit consumers of large amounts of data such as data centers and enterprise servers. As more storage will be able to fit into a smaller space, power and cooling requirements can be lowered. VP of Marketing Scott Horn described some of the motivations behind the move, "As our world becomes more mobile, the number of devices we use to create and consume data is driving an explosive growth in unstructured data." In addition to the massive amount of offered storage the drives also offer "enterprise-class reliability and support for archive workloads" with "multi-drive RV tolerance for consistent enterprise-class performance in high density environments."
Bloomberg is reporting that the next Apple iPad will feature its largest ever screen, measuring 12.9", which beats current offerings of 7.9" and 9.7". Sources indicate that production will start by the first quarter of next year and that the design process has been ongoing for more than a year. Apple could be looking to breathe new life into the product line as sales have been decreasing for the past few months. Apple may be looking to target the enterprise market with the larger tablets, a sentiment shared by Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC, who said "We’re expecting larger tablets to do better” in the enterprise market."
Just about every cancer can be a big problem, and all are dangerous when they spread, which makes it vitally important to know if it is. Catching cancer cells in a patient's blood is very difficult though, because of how few cells there can be, and that many methods for sorting cells are complicated or can damage the cells. Researchers at MIT, Pennsylvania State University and Carnegie Mellon University however, have developed a device for sorting cells with great accuracy, and relative ease.
Instead of relying on chemical tags or strong mechanical forces, this method utilizes sound waves to gently guide cells. By using two acoustic transducers on either side of a microchannel, a standing wave can be made with a pressure node parallel to the flow. This much has been accomplished before and did demonstrate that cells of different size, compressibility, and other properties, would be pushed around differently. What has been added now is a tilt, putting the pressure node at an angle, relative to the flow. This causes the cells to pass through multiple nodes, and be slightly pushed to one side, and cells of different physical properties are still affected differently.
The researchers have already tested it with plastic beads 9.9 and 7.3 microns in size, demonstrating 97% accuracy, and were able to recover 71% of cancer cells in a sample that included those and white blood cells. They also created a computer model that can predict how cells will be affected based on its properties and the angle of the sound waves, which opens up the possibility of device customization.
Google has just released a stable build of Chrome 37, which is now available in a 64-bit version for Windows. The 64-bit version of Chrome offers plenty of enhancements over the 32-bit version, such as a 15 percent improvement in decoding performance when using the VP9 codec, as well as greater engine stability when handling typical web content. Security is also improved, as the 64-bit version of Chrome is more effective at defending against vulnerabilities that rely on controlling the memory layout of objects.
The 64-bit version of Chrome 37 is only available through a new download link on the Chrome download page, with the only known issue being that it lacks 32-bit NPAPI plugin support.
Source: Chromium Blog
Wearable technology is gaining popularity at an alarming rate as technology giants continue to reveal and release products, such as smartwatches, that fit into the category. ASUS has decided to follow in the footsteps of others, such as LG, Motorola, and SAMSUNG, and market its own smartwatch. The company has posted a teaser image of its upcoming smartwatch across various social media platforms. The sketching of the forthcoming smartwatch shows hints of a leather strap, stainless steel elements, and a screen that is slightly rounded on the corners. More details about the ASUS smartwatch will be revealed by the company at IFA in Berlin, which is set to take place on September 3, 2014.
Microsoft has finally acknowledged an overheating issue that plagues the Core i7 version of its Surface Pro 3 tablet. While the technology giant failed to mention anything about overheating, it did note that the Intel Core i7 version of the Surface Pro 3 runs warmer due to the processing power it delivers in such a small package. Nonetheless, some owners have actually seen temperature warnings on their screen during times of both heavy and light computing tasks. Microsoft has revealed that the temperature warning is being triggered by accident thanks to a software bug, and that only a small number of Core i7 models are affected. According to Microsoft, "Our investigation reveals that the system is triggering this event sooner than it should for some people, only when the device restarts, and this does not occur when the device is booted and running." An update that addresses the issue should be out in the near future, once Microsoft deems it ready for deployment.
Color blindness affects only about nine percent of people, but just about every digital camera is unable to discern color with just its detector. Color images are the result of filters external to the photodetector that separate incoming light to the red, green, and blue we are familiar with. Researchers at Rice University however, have developed a photodetector with color sensitivity, while studying cephalopods.
How are cephalopods like squids related? These species have very odd skin, which the Office of Naval Research wants to be studied. Cephalopods are color blind, but it is suspected that they can still detect color with their skin, and it was from this hypothesis that the Rice researchers developed the new photodetector. On top of the typical silicon photodetector, the researchers put a layer of aluminum that was etched into, using a process commonly used in CMOS process. The thickness of an oxide layer was also manipulated to create a plasmonic grate on the detector's surface. With such control, grating could be tuned to only allow certain frequencies of light through, and to focus that light onto the detector.
Unlike the filters traditionally used in digital cameras, this plasmonic grating can be built directly onto silicon photodetectors using standard CMOS techniques. Beyond the advantages of being part of the chip, this grating is also smaller and simpler and the filters, all while mimicking how organisms detect colors.
Source: Rice University
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) has announced that the highly anticipated LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham will be launching November 11 in North America, November 14 in the UK, and November 12 in the rest of Europe, for practically every current gaming platform: PC (Windows and Mac), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo 3DS. The iOS version was not listed in the press release, so it's unclear whether that is arriving at the same time.
In LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Batman and the rest of the Justice League must stop the evil Braniac from adding Earth to his collection of miniature worlds and cities. With more than 150 unique characters, LEGO Batman 3 is sure to feature something for everyone. Even though it loosely follows the story of LEGO Batman 2, it should still be a great entry point for anyone whole foolishly has not experienced the pure fun and joy of a LEGO game.
Source: Press Release
As my mother and father will both exclaim at times, computers and machines can be quite dumb. For now, that is just annoying, but if we ever start relying on robots to help in our homes, it could be a real problem. To head off potential problems, researchers at Cornell University have developed Robo Brain and set it the task of processing content on the Internet, in order to learn and teach other machines.
Though currently our computers and other devices are able to find us the answers to almost any of our questions, it is not in a form that the computers can understand. This is what Robo Brain addresses by associating text with images and videos, to recognize objects and learn human language and behavior. It stores this information with a Markov model, which consists of nodes representing objects, actions, or parts of an image, and edges connecting them. When another robot searches for knowledge, it starts with its own chain of nodes, and will look for a similar one Robo Brain built. As there may be differences between what Robo Brain and the robot built, probabilities have been assigned to the nodes of Robo Brain that represent allowed variance.
As Robo Brain may get some things wrong, or just need some help, you can visit its website to provide corrections and additional information: RoboBrain.me.
Source: Cornell University
August 25, 2014
Back in June, publisher Devlolver Digital unveiled its "Indie Games Roster of Awesomeness" during E3 2014. One game in that roster is Titan Souls, which has received its first official Gameplay Trailer today. Developed by Acid Nerve, Titan Souls is a top-down, open-world action game where you have but a single arrow at your disposal during your quest to defeat giant titans in order to recover the titular Titan Souls. As I described back in June, it's essentially a top-down Shadow of the Colossus with the difficulty and learning curve of Dark Souls.
Titan Souls is coming to PC (Windows, Mac, Linux), PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita in Q1 2015, and will be playable in the Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime later this week.
Source: Press Release
LG has announced a pair of OLED televisions that feature an ultra high definition 4K resolution. There will be a 77-inch model and a 65-inch model, with the 77-inch expected to have a price of $11,000 based on its Korean price. As with any new high-end technology, early adopters will be hit with a high price tag, but the high resolution and superior picture quality could be worth it for people with that kind of disposable income.
Source: Toms Guide
Lian Li has announced its latest case, the PC-Q19, an aluminum Mini-ITX offering. The brushed aluminum case is based off the slim form factor PC-Q12 and adds support for a VGA card with the help of a riser card and also adds additional room for storage. The case is just 6.2" tall and makes a great addition to a home theater. Up to three 2.5" drives can be used in addition to a single 3.5" drive. The case can be oriented vertically or horizontally and includes pop-off side panels for easy access. The PC-Q19 will be available by the end of the month at an MSRP of $149.
Source: Press Release
Nine...Hundred...Seventy...Million...Dollars. That's how much Amazon just agreed to pay to acquire videogame-streaming service Twitch. Back in May, several sources reported that Google's YouTube division would be acquiring Twitch for over $1 billion, with Venture Beat reporting in July that the deal was actually inked. So why did Twitch go for the seemingly lower bid? Twitch CEO Emmett Shear had the following to say:
We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster. We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.
According to Amazon, "the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2014," which is an odd thing to say since we're already in the second half of 2014. I guess that means it's expected to close before the year ends. It'll be interesting to see how the deal affects the service, but most fans of Twitch seem pretty happy the service wasn't acquired by Google. With Google already owning the #1 platform for Internet video in YouTube, it's probably safer for us all that it didn't also acquire the fastest growing in Twitch.
Source: Amazon and Twitch
Okay, this is probably something that will not surprise many people. A recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles has shown that the use of digital media can impair a child's social skills. More specifically, by spending time looking at a screen instead of interacting with someone face-to-face, the children are not learning how to read emotional cues.
For the study, the researchers used two groups of sixth graders. Both groups were given a test at the beginning of the study, to determine their ability to recognize emotions that was repeated at the end. In the interim, one group of 51 students went on a five day trip to a nature and science camp that does not allow the use of electronics. Before going to camp, the group made an average of 14.02 errors on the test and at the end of the study though that number dropped to 9.41. The 54 students who did not go to the camp at that time saw little or no change in the number of errors made. The students reported that they spend, on average, 4.5 hours each school day with digital media, in one form or another.
While the study does rather strongly indicate one negative with digital media, at least it also shows it can be addressed, to a point. Make sure the kids get some face-to-face time, away from devices and they should be in better shape.
Source: University of California, Los Angeles
Dark fairy tale platformer Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is roughly 87% of the way toward its $50K Kickstarter goal with ten days remaining, so it's looking like it should be successful! To try and garner that last surge needed to push past that goal, GRIN held a live Twitch Q&A yesterday, which the studio has now posted to YouTube for all to enjoy.
The video shows the same three sections from the Gamescom alpha demo, but provides a lot of details about the game. Woolfe will consist of five main sections, each with at least one major boss fight, and each one taking about an hour to complete for a "good" gamer. That being said, there will be collectibles in the game for those that want to delve deeper into not only the story of Riding Hood, but also some other fairy tales. There's also a plan to have a "New Game Plus" mode with super-powered Toy Soldiers and a timer for those that want to compete for speedruns.
Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is planned for a Q1 2015 release on PC with Closed Beta to begin next month. If you'd like to support the project, the minimum Kickstarter pledge is $15, which grants you the full game upon release along with the Toy Soldier Editor; Steam key or DRM-free via GOG.com. Closed Beta access starts at $50 and up, while Alpha access starts at $100 and up. It was also confirmed that the Toy Soldier Editor is exclusive to Kickstarter backers, so certainly get in while you can if you want a "place" in the game! The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, September 4, 2014, at 5:55PM EDT.
Source: Kickstarter Update
Some say that information is the most valuable commodity in the world currently, so naturally it has to be protected. This can be challenging though, especially with complex software systems that handle information of multiple safety levels. Researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have recently created a new tool that checks for possible security leaks, and help keep data safe.
The tool is called JOANA and works by checking the data channels a piece of software will run data through. It will identify channels that are publicly visible and those that are secured, and find where they may cross. As you can guess, secure data is most likely to be exposed at these crosses of secret and public information. There the data can get out by explicit leaks, by implicit leaks that expose patterns in the encryption, and by probabilistic leaks that could allow data to be reconstructed. Even though that last type of leak is particularly hard to identify, JOANA is able to catch it and even has a low false alarm for it.
As it stands now, JOANA is the only software analysis tool for finding all three kinds of security gaps without having a high false alarm rate. Low false alarm rates are very important, as we do not want resources to be wasted hunting a nonexistent issue or for real issues to be erroneously dismissed.
If you're a Civlization and/or Sid Meier fan, you're going to want to pay attention. Firaxis Games, the studio behind the Civlization series, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Pirates!, Railroads, and more, has announced its first ever games convention, Firaxicon. Taking place in Hunt Valley, Maryland, the event includes: a meet and greet with members of the Firaxis Games team; "An Evening with Sid Meier" featuring an exclusive presentation by Sid; the first ever XCOM: EU Invitational Tournament with a chance to win The Golden Muton; a tour of the Firaxis Games office; hours of "panels, presentations and more"; playing boardgames against/with Firaxis Games' designers; unique Firaxicon swag; access to Firaxis Games merchandise; dinner and drinks Saturday night at the Firaxis Feast; and the fortune of playing Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth almost a month before release!
Tickets to Firaxicon cost a mere $40, but must be purchased in advance at the link below; no tickets will be available at the door. Aside from the tour of the Firaxis Games office, the rest of the event takes place at the Embassy Suites Baltimore - North/Hunt Valley, in Cockeysville, Maryland, just north of Baltimore. Firaxicon officially kicks off Saturday, September 27 at 10AM, and runs 24 hours straight until shutting down on Sunday morning at 10AM. If you're not keen on pulling an all-nighter, official events end Saturday night; only "unofficial" gaming sessions continue beyond that point until the 10AM "hard stop."
Source: Official Event Site
The final week of August is upon us, and with it comes a couple of items for your viewing pleasure. We have a review on the Elite Screens ezCinema Plus 100", which is a 100" screen ideal for those with a projector. If you need a big viewing area to watch the newest movie or play the latest game, this could be the answer. There is also a look at the Motorola Moto E smartphone that is aimed squarely at the entry-level crowd with its $130 price. It runs stock Android and features a 4.3" screen, but it hopefully performs admirably enough to be a first smartphone for many.
Elite Screens ezCinema Plus 100" @ LanOC Reviews
Motorola Moto E @ TechSpot
As technology improves, it is understandable that it has a growing presence in completing tedious tasks. According to a variety of science fiction stories though, many of us have been taught that it is not necessarily a good thing to let robots have too great a role in the work. Researchers at MIT decided to put that to the test, and initially hypothesized that a sweet-spot of shared human and robot control would exist.
The study used groups consisting of two humans and one robot that could have one of three configurations. One has the human workers allocating all of the work, another has the robot allocate all of the work, and the last one has one human allocate their own tasks, while the robot sets tasks for the other. As expected, the configuration which had the robot allocating all of the tasks was the most efficient, but it also had the most satisfied human workers. This surprised the researchers as the workers reported feeling that the robot "better understood them" and "improved the efficiency of the team."
Though a physical robot was involved in the study, this result does not suggest that they should be involved in every task. What it does show is that giving control of scheduling, delegating, and coordinating tasks to algorithms instead of people may be a better idea than anticipated.
August 24, 2014
If you tried to play some games this Sunday, you may have encountered some service issues. A hacker group posting under the Twitter handle "Lizard Squad" has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks against several online gaming services, including PSN, Battle.net, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) titles, League of Legends, Path of Exile, and most recently Xbox Live. If that wasn't bad enough, Lizard Squad took it even further, calling in a bomb threat for an American Airlines flight that SOE president John Smedley had been on, causing it divert to Phoenix. Unsurprisingly, that action got the attention of the FBI as a matter of national security.
While Lizard Squad is most definitely behind the bomb threat, a Twitter user by the name of FamedGod is claiming that he's responsible for the DDoS attack on PSN; that "LizardSquad couldn't hurt a fly." As of now, it does not seem any personal information has been compromised at any of these sites or services.
Source: Shacknews and PC Gamer and PS Blog and Huffington Post
Turn-based strategy game Age of Wonders III has been available for roughly five months now, and having received mostly favorable reviews, it's now time for developer Triumph Studios to expand upon it. The Dutch studio has revealed the first major expansion pack, Golden Realms, will be arriving as DLC on September 18; and it's certainly more akin to the expansion packs us older gamers grew up on, adding a slew of new content and features.
While Golden Realms doesn't add a new class, it does add a new race: The Halfling Race. Alongside the Halflings is additional content in the form of: a three-scenario Golden Realms campaign; new exotic map locations, such as the Naga Dwelling and Lost City; over twenty new units, including Dread Monkeys, Mermaids, and Glutton; 50 new magical artifacts to be used by your heroes, including the Crystal Skull and Witch Doctor's Headdress; a new Wild Magic specialization, which allows you to cause mutations, warp equipment, or simply cause pandemonium; a new Partisan Specialization to help you engage in guerrilla warfare, allowing you to create concealed hide-outs and develop ambushing skills; and two hand-crafed, standalone scenarios that can be played solo or in multiplayer.
Along with the aforementioned new content, Golden Realms also adds four major new features: Mystical City Upgrades, which allow you to unlock new unique city upgrades by discovering arcane treasure sites; Empire Quests, which allows you to indirectly compete with other players to become the first to unlock unique rewards for your realm; Seals of Power, which is "a new King of the Hill style victory condition where players must capture and hold the dangerous Seals of Power structures in order to achieve victory;" and Defensive City Upgrades, wherein each race now has a new unique city defense to build, such as the Draconian's Firestorm Pillar and the Human's Bell Tower.
Age of Wonders III: Golden Realms will arrive via digital distribution channels on September 18, and all the aforementioned new content and features will be integrated into the updated Random Map Generator. Pricing has not been determined yet, but those that don't feel like dropping some coin will still get some benefits in the form of a new patch releasing that same time. The free patch will add "updated AI, balance, a new Spell Disjunction System, Steam Workshop and Cloud Saves for Steam Users." Along with the Gameplay Trailer above, ten new screenshots have been released, which can be viewed below.
Source: Press Release and Official Site
Canalys, an analyst group that combines global coverage and local insight gained from offices in America, Europe, and Asia, has revealed that shipments of wearable devices are quickly increasing. The group estimates that 6 million smartwatches and fitness trackers were shipped by technology companies in the first half of 2014. Compared to the 300 million smartphone shipments in the second quarter of this year that number is quite small. However, compared to previous shipments of like devices, the estimate concerning smartwatches and fitness trackers for the first half of this year is a 700 percent improvement over last year.
Samsung currently is the worldwide leader in the smart wearable band market, in regards to the first half of 2014, but competitors such Motorola may change that statistic with the release of the Moto 360.
AMD has recently announced the Radeon R9 285 graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, which is set to succeed the Radeon R9 280. The latest graphics card from AMD comes with a Tonga Pro GPU, which supports new features such as AMD TrueAudio and FreeSync technology, and matches the 1792 stream processors offered by its predecessor. The Radeon R9 285 does feature a lower maximum GPU boost clock rate than the Radeon R9 280, at 918 MHz for the former compared to 933 MHz for the latter. However, the Radeon R9 285 does feature faster memory, with the new card boasting a 1375 MHz actual/5.5 GHz effective memory speed compared to the 1250 MHz/5.0 GHz effective memory speed offered by the Radeon R9 280. The main improvement that the AMD Radeon R9 285 offers is a lower TDP, as it carries a maximum 190 Watt TDP compared to the 250 Watt TDP of the Radeon R9 280.
The AMD Radeon R9 285 will be available starting September 2, 2014, and carries an MSRP of $249. The card will also be available with the Never Settle Space Edition bundle, which adds Alien Isolation and Star Citizen to the list of games that come bundled with certain Radeon graphics cards.