It is certainly true that there are some games in my library that I play just for fun, but there are also some, I would say go farther. Apparently this is not unique to me as researchers at Penn State have come to the same conclusion in a recent study.
The study took 512 gamers and split them into two groups. Both groups were asked to rate their perceptions about a game they played, but as one group had a particularly fun game, the other had a more meaningful game. The two groups agreed the games were fun to play, but those playing the more meaningful game appreciated the experience more.
This finding is probably not that surprising, but may still be important, to show that video games do have a place with other media forms, for giving the consumer a meaningful entertainment experience that is deeply appreciated. Given the interactive nature of video games, the experience could be even stronger, compared to books or movies. While there is nothing wrong with just silly, fun games, this shows that it can be worth it for developers to create the emotional stories and narratives of some games.
AMD acquired SeaMicro in 2012 to "tackle the dense server market which was believed to be major future growth opportunity at the time." Dense servers are also known as micro servers and use a large number of small, low power CPUs to provide computing power rather than high power, more powerful CPUs. As of yesterday, AMD has decided to exit the micro server market to return its focus to traditional servers and as a result will take a "$75 million special charge." AMD only released a single product as a result of the SeaMicro acquisition and will maintain the intellectual property rights from the acquisition to "use it in products where it’s of benefit."
Star Wars Celebration has been going on since yesterday, and with it has come plenty of news. A new teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived yesterday, and today the first game footage reveal for Star Wars: Battlefront. Whereas The Force Awakens is set years after the original trilogy, Battlefront is set during those movies, with the intense fighting between the Empire and the Rebellion boiling over into assorted battles. The action in the trailer below starts us off on the Forest Moon of Endor, with speederbikes soaring through the trees and Rebel soldiers trying to take them down. One speederbike crashes into a tree right before an AT-ST appears. Soldiers run for cover to avoid the laser blasts, and then two of the soldiers drop down a portable shield before one takes flight with a jetpack. The AT-ST explodes, but then an even more dreaded sight appears: an AT-AT. Luckily some Y-Wings are on hand to lay waste, yet the soliders now have to contend with Darth Vader.
Once the Dark Lord of the Sith appears, we get treated to footage on different planets (Hoth, Tattooine, and the volcanic Sullust), with X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Boba Fett, and even the Millenium Falcon appearing. It looks impressive, especially when you consider the trailer starts with "GAME ENGINE FOOTAGE" across the bottom. Hopefully this all translates well to the final product, but for now we just have game models, screenshots, and the gameplay trailer to go off of.
Star Wars: Battlefront does not feature space battles, sadly, but does have dogfights in the planets' atmosphere. There will also be no prequel vehicles, characters, or anything else from that era; this is original trilogy through and through, with some parts from The Force Awakens, too. Nor will it make use of Battlelog, which some people may be happy to see. Gamers can play the game in either first or third-person mode and switch between the two whenever they choose. Battles are 20 vs 20 matches, with yes, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and other heroes/villains being playable, just like in the previous games. There is also a co-op mode called Battlefront Missions to play with a friend via split screen or online, although full details aren't quite ready for that.
Star Wars: Battlefront arrives on November 17, 2015, for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, just like last night's leak predicted. There is a DLC called Battle of Jakku that takes us to the planet seen in yesterday's The Force Awakens trailer, with that desert planet being called Jakku. It will be available on December 1 for anyone who pre-orders Battlefront regardless of platform, with December 8 for anyone who did not pre-order. A Deluxe Edition is also planned to arrive, which contains instant access to five in-game items: three weapons (DL-44 Blaster, Ion Grenade, and Ion Torpedo) and two emotes. The Deluxe Edition will set you back $69.99, while the regular copies are $59.99.
The last day of the week is here, with plenty along the way for you to check out. There is a look at the ASUS Strix 7.1 gaming headset, which uses HDMI to connect to a unique base station to control all your various audio settings. We also have a roundup of various M2 SSDs that connector over PCIe, with one even being a new NVMe from Samsung. Grand Theft Auto V arrived earlier this week, and if you're wondering how it will run on assorted hardware, you're in luck as we have a review for you. There's a new case mod that isn't really in a case, but rather a wall mounted PC. Lastly there's a new podcast covering the latest news and reviews from the past week.
Never expect anything to be simple in quantum mechanics, but then somethings in classical mechanics can be very complicated as well. Temperature is one such example as that simple value describes absurdly complex and chaotic activity. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have at long last succeeded in studying how gases behave with temperature, when their quantum properties are brought out.
The molecules in the air around us are zipping around and bouncing off of each other and other objects so much that it would be impossible to track them all, but luckily scientists do not have to, in order to describe them. Instead they rely on statistical physics to determine the properties of the entire gas, but this has led to the question of how one gets from statistical mechanics to quantum mechanics. To answer that, the Vienna researchers used a microchip to catch and cool several thousand atoms to a little above absolute zero, to bring out their quantum properties. By manipulating the chip, the quantum gas could be manipulated as well, and the researchers found the gas could take on multiple temperatures at the same time. Though predicted, this behavior has never been observed before.
For now this research should lead to an improved understanding of quantum mechanics and its relationship to thermodynamics. Someday it may lead to new technological applications as well as how our classical laws of physics emerge from those of quantum mechanics.
A new campaign has been announced by Mushkin Enhanced MFG, an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance and mission-critical computer products. The campaign, which is known as "TAKE CONTROL," is centered on the popular Ghost Recon Phantoms video game title from Ubisoft. On May 1, 2015, Mushkin plans on revealing a new mystery addition to their hardcore gamer-ready product line up that will allow gamers to keep the enemy at bay. Nicolas Villalobos, the Director of Global Marketing at Mushkin, stated that "For years now we have been the best bang for your buck memory and SSD manufacturer and I am excited to announce our latest additions on May 1st."
Interested gamers and consumers can find additional information on the campaign's official website.
Electronic Arts has revealed that Madden NFL 16, the 27th edition of EA Sports' annual football franchise, will be available to consumers starting on August 25, 2015. The game is currently being developed by EA Tiburon, which is based out of Orlando, Florida, and is expected to come to current and previous generation gaming consoles upon release, though no official word has been given on specific platform support.
Yesterday came the first look at Star Wars: Battlefront's Stormtrooper in-game model, which shows an impressive level of detail. Today there's something a little different, as apparently the game's release date has been leaked. When you point your browser to the Star Wars: Battlefront website and examine the source code on the News & Media section, one line stands out in particular: "Available November 17, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC." That date doesn't appear on the website itself because it's a hidden description, just it probably should have been hidden a little better. Or at the very least, not even put into the website's source until after tomorrow, presumably. The date has since been removed, but you can see it for yourself in the screenshot below.
So, November 17, 2015, it is for the new Battlefront, at least for now. EA and DICE will be showing off the first gameplay of Battlefront during Star Wars Celebration tomorrow, which I imagine is when the release date will be official. If it holds out, Star Wars: Battlefront will be out around a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters. Perfect way to build up hype even more for Episode VII.
The Bing search engine from Microsoft now has a 20.1% share of the United States search market, passing the 20% mark for the first time. The rise of Bing has come largely at the expense of Search Alliance partner Yahoo, which is down to a 12.7% share. Yahoo was last above a 20% share the month before Bing was released in June 2009. Google remains the top search engine with a 64.4% share.
Koolance has officially introduced its GeForce GTX TITAN X water block and the accompanying functional back plate. The water block from Koolance is comprised of nickel-plated copper, and features a POM-acetal top, stainless steel inserts, and nickel-plated brass fittings, ensuring optimal thermal performance and longevity. The water block effectively cools the PCB, including the GPU, the VRM, and the memory chips. The back plate is made up of copper and has incorporated heat dissipating ridges, which further improve cooling performance.
The water block from Koolance, model VID-NXTTNX, features an MSRP of $129.99. The accompanying back plate, model ACC-PLTNXTTNX, features an MSRP of $34.99.
One of the many uses of machine learning is computer vision, whereby a computer analyzes a scene and identifies the objects in it, without them exactly matching known models. Building these algorithms can requires thousands of lines of code, but some are turning to probabilistic programming languages to simplify the work. In the case of the Picture language MIT researchers developed, those thousands of lines can be simplified to less than 50.
Probabilistic programming differs from deterministic programming by being based more on inference, which fits well with machine learning. Instead of requiring very specific descriptions, programmers can describe a vague model that the program runs through inference schemes to solve, using inverse-graphics reasoning. The MIT researchers have tested Picture by giving it the simple description of the human face as having two symmetrically placed eyes, with the nose and mouth positioned beneath them. Armed just with that knowledge and examples, the program was tasked with working through 2D images to construct 3D models, and was able to match the thousand-line programs, and in some cases surpass them.
Technically more code than 50 lines is involved behind Picture, as it draws on multiple inference algorithms, but the model for the task itself is still much simpler. This is actually one of the purposes of probabilistic programming languages, where the language is generic and can be used with many inference algorithms, depending on the task.
Razer, a world leader in high-performance gaming hardware, software, and systems, has launched the BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma. The latest gaming keyboard from Razer is simply a refresh of the already available BlackWidow Chroma, as it features the same switches and RGB lighting support but ditches the numpad, which reduces its size by roughly six inches. Being tenkeyless, the BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma is able to fit in areas that are limited on space, and is actually better suited to be a mobile keyboard solution for gamers.
The BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma comes with a hard carrying case and is available for immediate purchase, costing consumers $140.
Google has officially released its latest keyboard known as Google Handwriting Input. The latest keyboard from Google is able to recognize scribbled text in 82 different languages, and is also capable of understanding smiley faces. According to the search engine giant, Google Handwriting Input supports both print and cursive writing, and can be configured as the default keyboard on Android devices running version 4.0.3 and above. While Google Handwriting Input will likely just be a fun experiment for smartphone owners and children who have access to such devices, the recognition that the keyboard product offers is quite amazing to say the least.
The week is starting to wind down, but not before there are some reviews for you to check out. We have a look at the Phanteks PH-TC12LS low profile CPU cooler to see how well this smaller heat sink performs. There is also a review of the Motorola Moto E smartphone, a budget friendly model that packs an LTE radio and Android Lollipop. For another low budget option, there's the Blackview Breeze smartphone, which can also utilize Android Lollipop. Wrapping up for the day is the SpotCam HD Wi-Fi Video Monitoring Camera, a cost-effective way to spruce up the home security and record in 720p.
One day we may see the construction of a quantum Internet that will be far more secure than today's global network. This is thanks to quantum encryption, which protects data from being read and alerts users to eavesdroppers. For it to work though, we need the ability to transmit photons in a quantum state over great distances, and researchers at the University of Toronto have designed a technology to help with that.
Even modern optical communications require repeaters to ensure classical signals survive their travels, so more fragile quantum signals need special repeaters to preserve the information. The current technology for doing so is complicated, acting like a mini quantum computers, requires low temperatures, and is kind of slow. What the Toronto researchers have created is an all-photonic quantum repeater that comes with several benefits. Just by being all photonic the system is much simpler, as it no longer requires a physical quantum memory system, or an interface between matter and light. It is also able to operate at room temperatures, has a higher communication rate, and a superior fault-tolerance.
One aspect to this design that is particularly interesting is that its components have already had proof-of-principle demonstrations made. This work started as an attempt to transmit polarization over long distances, but then the researchers decided to try for the 'fancier' quantum teleportation, which teleports the entire state of a particle from one location to another.
Batman: Arkham Knight was originally supposed to launch on June 2, but it was pushed back a little bit to June 23. If you're worried about it getting another delay, have no fear, as the game's director, Sefton Hill, confirmed June 23 was the official and final launch date. Developer Rocksteady didn't want to delay the game at all initially, but felt that little extra time would be well served. Given how the game looks, even in the PS4 gameplay video below, it was a deserved delay. Hill also revealed a couple of changes to the controls, where now holding the trigger button on a controller will send Batman into a "super fast dive" straight down off a rooftop. Tapping the trigger will cause Batman to slide. What the corresponding keyboard press will be wasn't mentioned, but is probably the same as past games. Oh, and the difficulty of Arkham Knight can be adjusted on the fly, so if you want to give yourself an even tougher challenge, you're now able to without restarting the game.
Many gamers are eagerly looking forward to Star Wars: Battlefront and hoping that it lives up to the legacy of the past titles. The game won't be out until later this year, but this Friday during Star Wars Celebration, EA plans to show the first gameplay reveal for Battlefront. However, we have a little teaser for you tonight in the form of the in-game Stormtrooper model. EA had been teasing the model for a little while and finally took the wraps off it, and it is impressive. The armor is spot-on to the original movies, but dirty and dingy as befitting someone fighting the Rebel Alliance. This Stormtrooper is also sporting a black enlisted trooper pauldron and a backpack with a hose connected to the helmet, possibly for extended operations or spacewalks. Overall the detail is outstanding, and given that this is an in-game model, should make for an experience pulled right out of the movies.
The full Star Wars: Battlefront gameplay reveal is still more than a day away, but we should be in for quite a treat when it happens. You can be sure to find all the information on it right here.
The European Union has filed charges against Google accusing it of "illegal, monopolistic practices," claiming that it "abused its position as market leader by prioritizing its own services in search results and diverting traffic away from its competitors." Google could face penalties of up to 10% of its annual income, which would be roughly $6 billion. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager described the charges stating, "In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules." Google has countered by stating that it has created a number of failed products over the past few years and cited its Flight and Shopping Search tools which haven't "made a dent in the US and European markets." Two previous large antitrust victories for the EU came with rulings against Microsoft and Intel for $1.7 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.
Electronic Arts has announced plans to shut down several free-to-play PC offerings in the coming months as they are "not as popular as they once were." The four games that are getting the ax are Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Play4Free, Need for Speed World, and FIFA World. The games will remain up for 90 days, with some games having achieved a greater than five year lifespan. Executive VP of EA Studios Patrick Söderlund described the move as forward thinking stating, "While we say farewell to these free-to-play titles in the next few months, we are always exploring new concepts and ways to bring great games to more players around the world." He added that Star Wars: The Old Republic continues to enjoy success and that EA has plans to introduce additional content this year.
People have been fascinated with the idea of invisibility for millennia, but only in modern times may we actually achieve it. Metamaterials are man-made materials with properties impossible to find in Nature and can be used to cloak objects. As it turns out though, there is a simpler way of achieving invisibility, and researchers at ITMO University, Ioffe Institute and Australian National University have done just that.
What the researchers have done is take advantage of a classical problem concerning the scattering of light from a homogeneous sphere that was solved almost a century ago. When light strikes an object of high refractive index it can scatter by two mechanisms: resonant and non-resonant scattering. Instead of a sphere, the researchers were working with a glass cylinder filled with water, which they change the refractive index of by changing the water's temperature. By doing this correctly, the resonant and non-resonant mechanisms scattered waves of opposite phases, causing them to cancel each other out, making the object invisible. This was achieved for microwaves at 1.9 GHz and by changing the temperature of the water from 90 ºC to 50 ºC.
Though the current work dealt with microwaves, it could be applied to the visible spectrum of light. It could also have applications for the development of nanoantennas, such as building invisible support structures. As these structures would not need special, metamaterial coatings, they would be much simpler to make.
ASUS has officially announced its latest motherboard offering, the TUF Trooper B85. The TUF Trooper B85, which is based on the versatile Intel B85 Express chipset, comes with military-certified components that ensure exceptional durability and long-term reliability, and is certified by TUF engineers as a server-strength motherboard. According to the ASUS, over 7,000 hours of strict validation tests were performed by TUF engineers to ensure that the motherboard is truly able to withstand all types of conditions and heavy use. The ASUS board boasts the military-grade TUF LANGuard Ethernet socket, TUF ESD Guards 2, TUF Audio with physical shielding, TUF Thermal Radar Core for flexible temperature management, and a five-year warranty.
Not to be outdone by NVIDIA, AMD has a part of its gaming technologies used in Grand Theft Auto V. The company's Contact Hardening Shadows (CHS) is part of its Gaming Evolved technologies and can be enabled in GTA V by AMD video card users. What CHS does is calculate the distance between an object and a light source, as well as what the object's type is, to create realistic soft shadows. AMD users can enable AMD CHS under the game's Soft Shadows option, so they too get an exclusive boost, much like NVIDIA owners do with Percentage-Closer Soft Shadows.
Regardless of which video card you use, GTA V caters to both, thanks to AMD Gaming Evolved and NVIDIA GameWorks.
The middle of the week is here, with a few items in tow to help you get through the day. We have a look at the ROCCAT Tyon Gaming Mouse, which features an 8200DPI laser sensor, 12 programmable buttons, and RGBA lighting. There is also the Oppo R5 smartphone, a 4.85mm thick device that is one of the thinnest devices around. Finishing off for the day is the Samsung Magician 4.6 and 840 EVO EXT0DB6Q firmware to see if it truly is fixed on the 840 EVO SSD.
Humans have been looking to the sky for probably as long as we have had eyes, and there are still many mysteries to solve. Among these is dark matter, a source of gravitational force that may have a link to galaxy formation and the continued existence of galaxies as well. Now researchers at the European Southern Observatory have found dark matter interacting with itself in an unpredicted way.
Nobody knows what dark matter is, but we do know we cannot see it. That is not the reason we refer to it as being 'dark' though, or at least it is not the only reason. It is also called dark because it does not interact directly with normal, light matter, which also interacts with light. It even seems that dark matter does not interact with itself, except through gravity. The only means we have to observe dark matter is by the bending of light its gravity causes as light travels through the Universe. The ESO researchers looked to a collision of four galaxies and mapped the distribution of dark matter in the collision, finding one clump of it lagging behind the galaxy it surrounds. The amount of lag cannot be described by gravity though, which means there must be some other force involved. Whether that force is something we already know or something completely exotic can only be determined with more research.
This research nicely pairs with that of another team looking at collisions of galaxy clusters, which also indicated that dark matter interacts with itself. Together these studies put brackets on the behavior of dark matter, and eventually we may be able to squeeze down to whatever dark matter really is.
Grand Theft Auto V will surely keep many PC gamers satisfied for a long while, and it is the PC version that is considered the definitive version of the game. It has some jaw-dropping visuals, more life to the world than the console versions, and is probably one of the games that may make people pick up a 4K screen. Rockstar has shown the PC version off at assorted press events, with demo systems packing a pair of GeForce GTX 980s in SLI, which is something NVIDIA is rather happy about. GTA V also makes use of two NVIDIA GameWorks technologies: Percentage Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS) and TXAA. PCSS adds realistic soft shadows to the mix, while TXAA enables film-style anti-aliasing to reduce crawling and flickering seen in motion.
So we have some GameWorks technologies and demo systems showing off the PC version of GTA V with SLI GTX 980s. Add in the Game Ready Driver, and it's a small wonder why NVIDIA is happy about the game. And really, all PC gamers should be happy to have GTA V on the system it was always meant for.
Grand Theft Auto V finally is out on PC, but everything isn't all roses for every PC gamer who picked it up. There are various crashes, glitches, and flickering issues afflicting GTA V, but apparently some AMD video cards are displaying artifacts when MSAA is enabled. The bottom right corner tends to display the artifacts, for whatever reason, and it disappears when AA is disabled. Rockstar has released some workarounds for issues people may experience, but right now if you have an AMD card and have artifacts, turn off anti-aliasing.
Hopefully Rockstar and AMD can get a fix out soon for that issue, as well as any other issues currently hitting the game. GTA V looks simply stunning on PC, and especially at 4K, so perhaps the developer's comments about always having a PC version in mind is true. Now, it just needs to prove that by solving the issues posthaste.
NVIDIA has officially added Risen 2: Dark Waters to the GRID Games library. The game, which features an environment overrun by raging titans and monstrous creatures, is set several years after the end of Risen, the immensely popular RPG title in the franchise. NVIDIA SHIELD owners can dive into the world of Risen 2: Dark Waters to explore the rich landscape, interact with intriguing characters, and figure out how to get rid of the terrifying creatures once and for all.
The addition of Risen 2: Dark Waters to the GRID Games library brings the total amount of free video game titles available to SHIELD gamers to 46.
It was reported early last month that Google was planning to enter the wireless carrier market as a mobile network virtual operator (MNVO). New research conducted by Android Police has found references to Tycho, Nova, and Project Fi. Tycho is the codename of an app, Nova is the rumored name of the Google MNVO, and Project Fi is likely a temporary name for the service. The app gives users the ability to pay bills, check usage data, adjust their plan, and also request a new number. The Google service will likely follow a pay per gigabyte billing scheme with no overage charges for going over what you have paid for, you simply buy additional data at the normal rate. Existing Google Voice numbers are expected to be transferable to the service.
Tt eSPORTS, the gaming focused line from Thermaltake, has announced the availability of its newest gaming mouse, the Ventus X. The Ventus X has a unique design, featuring a fan built-in to the body of the mouse to keep your hand cool. The inclusion of the fan helps to prevent the potential negative impact of sweaty palms while gaming, giving improved grip and control. The mouse improves over its predecessor, the Ventus, with a new ergonomic design and configuration software to customize macro keys. The mouse is powered by a 5700 DPI laser and features red LED illumination. The Ventus X is available with an MSRP of $49.99.
Currently our computers rely on the charge of electrons to operate, but in the future computers may use electron spin instead, as it offers many benefits. Often these two properties seem to be kept separate, but by combining coupling these properties we can develop spin-orbitronics. Devices based on this field can be smaller, faster, and more energy efficient and researchers at Berkeley Lab have made a discovery to bring them closer to reality.
Central to many of our computers and the Internet is magnetic data storage, which relies on magnetic domains in magnetic films. What the Berkeley researchers have found concerns the walls between these domains and how they react to electrical currents. Within magnetic domains all of the spins of electrons are aligned either up or down, but the walls between them can be much more interesting. These walls can have spins that rotate in a helical spiral or in a cycloidal spiral, and either can have right or left-handed chirality. When a current runs through them the walls, depending on their spin, can be propelled with the current, against the current, or to the left or right. The researchers also found that the handedness of the walls can be flipped by controlling the strain on the film.
Spin-orbitronics could open up new ways to store data in magnetic memory devices. This would include storage devices that rely on electrical currents, instead of mechanical systems to retrieve data.