OCC TECH NEWS
It is time for a new contest, as OCC is giving away three Tesoro mechanical keyboards. Up for grabs are the Tesoro Lobera Supreme, the Tizona G2N with its Numpad attachment, and the Durandal Ultimate. All feature mechanical key switches, plus both the Lobera Supreme and Durandal Ultimate feature LED backlighting. The Lobera Supreme even has full color backlighting, so you can alternate between a variety of colors to suit your mood or game. If you want to try your hand at winning one of these keyboards, head on over to the forums and enter the contest. It is only open to residents in North America, so our apologies to our international friends.
OCC's Tesoro giveaway runs until September 15, so be sure to enter by then! And if you are one of the lucky winners, you have 48 hours to claim your prize, otherwise it gets redrawn!
September 2, 2014
Another contest is going down, as ECS USA is launching a "Design Your Own LIVA" competition running from now until the end of September. Participants have to take the ECS LIVA system and design their own artwork that will fit on it. The LIVA is a Mini PC with 118x70x55mm dimensions, so it's incredibly small and compact, yet surprisingly powerful thanks to its Intel Bay Trail-M CPU. It is a small area you'll be working with, but it just means an endless amount of possibilities for what you can put on it. All entries have to show a front and back side view, a left and right side view, a 45 degree view, and a 3D view, along with whichever view gives the best look at your artwork.
Once your entries are submitted to ECS by September 30, the top ten with the most "likes" on Facebook move onto the next round, where you turn your artwork into reality. The top ten are given a white LIVA case to put their artwork on, and must take photos of that to send off to ECS by October 31. At that point ECS judges will look everything over, and select a winner no later than November 7. Grand prize winner receives $1,000, second place gets $500, and third place $300, with the remaining seven getting some nice parting gifts.
If you want to get your creative juices flowing and have a chance to win that $1,000, head on over to the ECS USA Facebook page to get started. This contest is only open for residents in the US and Canada, so please take that into consideration. Remember to get your entries in by September 30, and good luck to all participants!
Source: Press Release
On September 18 starting at 6PM PST NVIDIA will begin a 24-hour event to "celebrate this thing we all love called PC gaming." The event will be broadcast live online and local events will be held worldwide in locations such as Chicago, Los Angeles, London, and Stockholm. More details will become available as the event gets closer and gamers will be able to "interact with the livestream, win amazing prizes and share their own gaming experiences."
Gigabyte has announced its first motherboards to feature the Intel X99 chipset. The boards will be available under three different categories including "G1™ gaming, SOC overclocking and signature GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™." Gigabyte VP of motherboards Henry Kao introduced the boards stating, "In addition to being the first motherboards to support the latest Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition CPUs and recently released DDR4 memory, GIGABYTE X99 motherboards offer an extensive range of unique GIGABYTE features that truly unlock the full potential of the platform." Some of the features that will be offered by these boards include all digital power design, long lifespan solid capacitors, Realtek onboard audio with included amplifier, and Killer Networking support. Also included will be a bevy of storage options including M.2, SATA Express, and Thunderbolt.
Source: Press Release
They say you cannot judge a book by its cover, and that is just as true with materials as it is with literature. A material's surface definitely has an important influence on how it interacts with other materials, but materials can interact with more than external materials. Researchers at MIT are investigating how patterning the interfaces within materials can be used to shape their properties.
Traditionally materials have been considered as having an external surface and an interior bulk, but treating the bulk as containing its own surfaces, or interfaces, is a novel idea. To do this the researchers had to adapt equations for determining surface properties to describe how a surface can vary at different locations. Such work is difficult to do experimentally, but computer simulations are capable of it.
By controlling the within a material, the researchers envision the possibility of building altering a material's strength as well as building in useful features. One example would be properties to control the flow of heat and sound through a material, which would impact thermoelectrics, and another would be putting channels inside of shielding meant for nuclear fusion reactors, so that helium atoms could escape, rather than damage the shielding.
Back in 2008, Electronic Arts attempted to purchase Take-Two Interactive, even trying a hostile takeover when its initial bid was rejected. That obviously failed and Take-Two has remained on its own ever since as a publicly traded company. Now, over six years later, one analyst is fueling rumors that Activision Blizzard is trying to acquire Take-Two. Mike Hickey, an equity researcher for the Benchmark Company, claims that the two companies were engaged in an "emerging romance," and that acquiring Take-Two would be a "no-brainer" for Activision.
With Destiny costing Activision $500 million to create, Hickey sees that venture as "difficult to annualize," which is something Activision typically likes to do. By acquiring Take-Two, Hickey's theory is that Activision could essentially annualize its future performance by the sheer number of high-profile franchises it would take over, such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead, Borderlands, NBA 2K, BioShock, and more. In addition, Hickey feels there are "shared cinematic ambitions" that would play a key role in such a merger. Take-Two is supposedly shopping around a GTA film adaptation, while Activision recruited Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey for its upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. While not mentioned by Hickey, we also know that a World of Warcraft movie has long been teased by Blizzard.
All that being said, not every analyst holds Hickey's beliefs. Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at major analyst IHS, told GamesIndustry.biz that the acquisition is unlikely. "Activision's MO is relatively anti-risk and it has a calculated long-term growth strategy based on establishing and developing billion dollar franchises that unlock large amounts of value for the company," Harding-Rolls explained. "Activision is well placed to deliver that once again following the Skylanders success with Destiny and I don't believe acquiring Take Two and its stable of IP fits with this strategy." That being said, he does think Activision is looking for "further growth opportunities" and certainly thinks a movie opportunity would make sense, especially since "a number of its franchises are longer in the tooth or more competitively challenged than before."
Whether the rumor is true or not, shareholders seem pleased with the news, as the stock prices for both companies rose on Friday and are once again seeing a slight increase today (there was no trading Monday due to the holiday).
Trion Worlds' free-to-play "sandpark" MMORPG ArcheAge entered alpha testing back in April, with several closed beta tests starting in July. If you haven't had the fortune of getting into the testing, don't worry, as the game will soon be available for everyone to enjoy. During PAX Prime this past weekend, Trion Worlds and developer XLGAMES announced that ArcheAge will officially launch on Tuesday, September 16. But you won't even have to wait that long! There will be an Open Beta from September 4 at 10AM PDT to September 8 at 10AM PDT. That being said, after the Open Beta ends, all the servers will be wiped clean, so I don't personally understand the point.
While ArcheAge is free-to-play, anyone who buys one of the three Founders packs (Silver at $49.99, Gold at $99.99, and Archeum at $149.99), will get a four-day Head Start. The Head Start begins September 12 at 10AM PDT and culminates with the game's official launch on the 16th. While alpha and beta progress will be wiped, all progress from the Head Start will obviously carry over to launch.
Source: Official Site
Currently most technology relies on electrons for carrying information, but many foresee a future where photons do that job instead. Transitioning from electronics to photonics is not going to be easy though in part because electrons and photons are such different quantum particles. Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute however have developed a new photon cannon that overcomes one challenge, by producing single photons that travel in one direction.
The reason it is so difficult to produce single photons compared to electrons has to do with the types of particles they are. Electrons are fermions, which cannot group up, while photons are bosons that are very comfortable existing in the same place at the same time. By using a quantum dot, a synthesized semiconductor crystal though, the researchers are able to produce single photons by exciting the dot with a laser. While that addresses the single-photon issue, the photons are only useful if they go in the right direction. To accomplish that, the researchers built the dot in a photonic crystal on a chip, and that crystal forces the photons to go one way.
The resulting photon cannon the researchers built has a 98.4% success rate of producing single photons and having them go where they want to. Now the researchers are working to patent this work and develop high-efficiency prototypes that could see use for encryption and quantum computing.
Source: University of Copenhagen
If you've been a longtime visitor of OCC, you may remember that I used to write a weekly Steam Greenlight Spotlight feature back in 2012-2013. I bring this up because my Week 18 entry back in January 2013 was an action-adventure RPG called Evoland, which subsequently launched on Steam in April 2013. Evoland told the story of the action adventure genre, changing and evolving as you played, from a monochrome 2D world to a colorful full 3D. Today, developer Shiro Games announced a sequel: Evoland 2, A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder.
Evoland 2 is the spiritual successor to the original Evoland with its graphics style changing as you travel through time and its gameplay evolving as you move along the storyline. It is also a much bigger game and a classic RPG at heart, with a complex scenario based on time travel, dozens of characters with their own backgrounds and ambitions and vastly different gameplay styles that are linked to the story and the players actions.
While Evoland switched up gameplay mechanics over the course of the game, it mostly stuck to the action-adventure and RPG genres. One of the cool things with Evoland 2 is that it'll explore a variety of genres, with "turn based tactical combat, platformer, and shoot'em up" shown in the last screenshot below. According to the developer, "Most of them can be found in all time periods with their art style updated to fit each period."
Evoland was a great game, but if there was one common criticism, it was that it was an extremely short game. Evoland 2 sounds like it'll be upping the ante, so hopefully that means a longer, more engaging experience. As of now, Evoland 2 is planned for a Q2 2015 release for Windows and Mac.
Source: Press Release and Official Site
Is Titanfall still Titanfall without Titans? That question is going to be answered today when Game Update Six rolls out. While this sixth major update brings a bunch of changes and additions, the major addition is the new featured game mode called Pilot Skirmish. Pilot Skirmish increases the player count to 8v8, but removes AI and Titans. When I reviewed Titanfall back at launch, one of the things I loved about the game was how it handled mobility; I even made the bold statement that other developers could learn from its mobility. I guess we'll now see if that mobility is enough to help the game stand out without the presence of Titans.
You can check out the link below for details on the additional changes, such as Marked For Death being made a permanent game mode, three new colorblind options, gambling, and a new way of handling joining a match more than half way done. Titanfall Game Update Six launches later today for PC and Xbox One.
Source: Facebook and Official Site
AMD has just introduced three new eight-core processors into its FX lineup, the FX-8370, FX-8370E, and FX 8320E. While performance is certainly a marketing component of these new processors, as they are geared directly towards content creation and gaming, their price points are what make them attractive for potential buyers. The 4GHz FX-8370 and the 3.3GHz FX-8370E are priced at $199.99, while the 3.2GHz FX 8320E is priced at $146.99. AMD is hoping that the value of its three new FX-series processors wins over consumers who are looking at low-level and mid-level offerings by Intel. Unfortunately, the three new FX processors are still built upon the Piledriver microarchitecture that AMD launched in 2012 and are also manufactured with a 32nm process.
Smart Home, a technology offered by Samsung that connects all types of home electronics onto a single network for simplified access and control, is expected to have improved compatibility in the near future. Samsung plans to open the service up to third-party developers, allowing appliances and electronics to be controlled from Galaxy smartphones and company smartwatches. Although Samsung did not reveal specific third-party products or services that are expected to be compatible with Smart Home, it did tease capabilities such as monitoring the amount of electricity used by appliances, monitoring security cameras from a smartphone, and turning on lights by using geolocation. The expansion of Smart Home will be facilitated by a software development kit for the service that is expected to be released later this year.
More information about Smart Home will likely be revealed at the Samsung's Developer Conference, which begins on November 11, 2014.
Despite how common batteries are, they are not simple systems and their complexity makes it difficult to find all the avenues to improve them. For example, we do not fully understand how the electrodes behave while in use, in part because we have limited abilities to measure how heat can affect deformations due to stress. Researchers at Purdue University have recently developed a new experiment that can do just that.
The new measurement technique is based on Raman spectroscopy, which traditionally uses a laser to catch the vibrations of a crystal lattice, to determine the chemical composition of a material. What the researchers have done is added the ability to make nanomechanical measurements and to test it, they used microscale silicon cantilevers. The cantilevers had a stress applied to them and were heated from 25 ºC to 100 ºC. The results showed that the heat increased the deformation of the surface and near-surface structure, because the heat weakened the bonds between the atoms.
During normal use, batteries will heat up and the electrodes within will also swell and contract, which is why understanding how heat impacts the effects of stress. Something else that makes this technique particularly valuable for studying batteries is that Raman spectroscopy uses lasers, and thus does not need any sensors within the harsh insides of a battery.
Source: Purdue University
The second day of September brings us some more reviews, including some new products from AMD. We have a review on the refreshed FX CPU lineup, including the FX-9590, the FX-8370, and the FX-8370E. All feature various improvements in hopes of further competing with Intel, the least of which being a price cut for the FX-9000 series parts. There are also a couple of looks at the AMD Radeon R9 285 video card, which is the first Tonga GPU from the company. It has support for DirectX 12, XDMA CrossFire, and better 4K video support, so it could be the new video card to go for, if the performance is right. Wrapping things up for today is the Corsair Graphite 380T case, a rather sweet looking mITX case that could be the perfect home for a portable gaming rig.
AMD 2014 FX Refresh - FX-9590, FX-8370, and FX-8370E @ PC Perspective
AMD Radeon R9 285 @ PC Perspective
AMD Radeon R9 285 @ TechSpot
Corsair Graphite 380T @ Madshrimps
September 1, 2014
G.SKILL unveiled its Ripjaws 4 series DDR4 memory kits just over one week ago, but the leading high performance memory manufacturer has already broken the DDR4 memory speed record. Using LN2, G.SKILL was able to push its Ripjaws 4 series DDR4 to a whopping 4004MHz, using the ASUS ROG X99 Rampage V Extreme Motherboard and Intel Core i7-5930K CPU. The score has been validated by CPU-Z and can be seen in the screenshot below.
Source: Press Release
Back on May 6, Team17's twisted and brutal Lemmings-inspired Flockers arrived on Steam Early Access with just 25 levels. Now, after roughly four months, Flockers is set to leave Early Access with over 60 levels. Check out the Official Release Trailer, along with a bunch of new screenshots below:
Flockers will launch September 19 worldwide for PC and in Europe for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. North American PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers will ahve to wait for September 23. The PC version includes a level editor with Steam Workshop support.
Source: Press Release
Considering Borderlands 2 had a Season Pass, along with a plethora of additional DLC, it should come as no surprise that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is getting a Season Pass as well. 2K and Gearbox made the official announcement yesterday, revealing that The Pre-Sequel will indeed be getting a Season Pass that will bundle together four planned add-on content packs at a discounted rate. The Season Pass will sell for $29.99 compared to the $9.99 individual price for each piece. While details are sparse, Gearbox promises "new characters, challenges, missions, and experiences." With Borderlands 2, the two additional characters were never a part of the Season Pass, so their addition this time around is of particular note and should please fans of the franchise.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel launches October 14 in North America and October 17 elsewhere. Pre-ordering grants access to the Shock Drop Slaughter Pit, taking place in an old Dahl facility and hosted by TR4-NU. It will be available for purchase at a later date for those that do not pre-order. If you're looking to upgrade your PC, the game is currently being bundled with select NVIDIA GPUs.
Source: Official Site
Kingston used the PAX Prime expo this past weekend in Seattle, Washington as an opportunity to demo the next-generation HyperX Predator DDR4 memory kit. This new memory was designed with the Intel X99 chipset in mind and will be available as 16GB sets with 4GB sticks that operate at 1.2V at frequencies ranging from 2133MHz to 3000MHz. HyperX business manager Lawrence Yang said, "With the industry launch of DDR4 memory, the HyperX team is excited to have our Predator DDR4 memory ready for the next generation of PC enthusiasts who continually want the absolute best performance possible from their system."
Source: Press Release
HighPoint has announced the addition of some new products to the RocketStor 6300 line of Thunderbolt 2 storage solutions. The RocketStor 6328AS is an 8-bay RAID solution that gives users a choice between RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and JBOD configurations. An easy to use web interface simplifies configuration and also allows for e-mail notifications and remote access. The 6328AS has an MSRP of $1,299. The 6324LS and 6328LS provide JBOD storage through the Thunderbolt 2 interface with capacity for four and eight drives, respectively. These solutions were designed to "host mid-scale backup applications, digital libraries and archives for digital assets." The 6328LS has an MSRP of $999 and the 6324LS costs $649.
Source: Press Release
With roughly four days left, dark fairy tale platformer Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries reached its $50,000 Kickstarter goal at some point yesterday. As a thank you to every backer, developer GRIN has added an additional reward to every tier: a digital copy (PDF) of a Woolfe tabletop/fantasy RPG. While the details are still being ironed out, the PDF will include "a Game Master Guide, Character sheets, and templates for creating dungeons and maps."
In addition, GRIN had always said it avoided including physical goods in Woolfe's tiers because it would dilute the actual funds earned during the campaign and not actually be indicative of how much money could be put toward the game's development budget. Now that the campaign is successful, the studio has announced four physical add-ons any backer can tack on to their existing pledge: a Poster Pack at $32, which includes four beautiful posters (one even signed by the Woolfe team) measuring 707x500 mm or 27.83x19.69 inches; a Hardcover Artbook at $39, "containing at least 80 pages of concept art, high-quality 3D character and environment renders, level design sketches, story extracts, character back-stories, and selected fan art"; a Boxed version at $39, which includes a DRM-free PC DVD containing the game and a separate CD for the soundtrack; and a Deluxe Boxed version at $120, which includes the same DVD and CD, but in a rather unique and visually striking 3D-printed box. Be sure to check out the images below to see what each add-on looks like. All pricing includes shipping.
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, and is approaching 2,000 backers!
Source: Kickstarter Update
The Resident Evil re-remaster isn't the only Resident Evil game coming Early 2015. Capcom has revealed that Resident Evil Revelations 2 will also be arriving around that time, but the publisher did so in a rather unconventional way: with a live-action trailer. Not exactly the best way to announce a game, but I guess it's better than simply having a ten-second teaser with just a logo.
Since I never played the first Revelations, I'll leave it to our sister site Neoseeker to break it down a bit:
So we actually don't know much about this sequel to Resident Evil Revelations, but the teaser video might have a few hints for eagle-eyed gamers. The most obvious one can be seen about 29 seconds in, at which point we see an individual wearing a TerraSave t-shirt. For those unaware of the significance, TerraSave is a fictional human rights group in the Resident Evil universe, and its most prominent member is Claire Redfield, Chris Redfield's sister.
One viewer also pointed to a figure in the background, appearing at around the same mark. A woman is seen leaning against the wall, her hair reminiscent of Rachel Foley's. Of course, that might be reading a little too much into it, but you can never be too sure with teasers these days. Developers can be amazing trolls too, after all.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 is planned for Early 2015 release for PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. There has been no mention of Nintendo platforms, despite the first Revelations game originating on the 3DS.
Source: Press Release and Neoseeker
Back in the beginning of August, Capcom revealed plans to revisit the original Resident Evil once again, remastering the 2002 remaster of the 1996 classic. With PAX Prime upon us, Capcom has released the first official trailer, along with a few new "current gen" screens.
The Resident Evil re-remaster is planned for Early 2015 release for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
To know what is trending, Twitter scans its library of tweets and counts up the number of times certain hashtags are used. While this definitely succeeds in identifying what is being talked about the most, it does not tell us what is actually being said. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia decided to change that by developing a system that actually analyzes the words being used, to extract meaning.
To start off, the researchers used tweets associated with the Super Bowl and World Series and provided their system with a small library of words they expected to be present. The system then looked for those words as well as their placement within the tweets. The result is an analysis of what is happening at a micro or local level, beneath the clutter of hashtags.
The researchers see this system potentially being used to help provide information to people about what is happening in any given situation, such as after a disaster. It could even be used to predict future events.
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia
Corsair has announced a new memory kit, the Dominator Platinum DDR4, developed in collaboration with ASUS. The memory will be available at speeds of 3300MHz, 3200MHz, and 3000MHz and is being touted as the "world’s fastest production memory kits." The fruits of the collaboration can be seen when pairing the memory with ASUS motherboards that use the X99 chipset, specifically the X99 Deluxe and Rampage V Extreme, as Corsair tuned the "memory timings to take advantage of the optimized DRAM layout and UEFI firmware." Corsair Chief Operating Officer Thi La said, "Our rigorous validation with ASUS has enabled us to make Dominator Platinum 3300MHz the fastest desktop DDR4 memory available at launch."
Source: Press Release
August 30, 2014
Sapphire has announced three video cards based on the R9 Graphics Core Next architecture from AMD. The R9 285 Dual-X pairs an R9 core with the Sapphire Dual-X cooler. The cooler uses a multi heatpipe design with two aerofoil fans. The R9 285 OC takes stock core and memory clocks of 916MHz and 1375MHz, respectively, and factory overclocks them to 965MHz and 1400MHz. An innovative option is also presented with the R9 285 ITX Compact OC edition, a card built for small form factor systems. It is just 171mm in length with an "efficient heatpipe cooler with a single fan." The cards will be available starting September 2.
Source: Press Release
August 29, 2014
Last week, The Behemoth teased its fourth game, codenamed Game 4, stating that a demo will be playable at PAX Prime from August 29 thru September 1. Not much was divulged other than saying it was a genre the studio never covered before, but based on the hexagonal title screen for the teaser trailer, I made an educated guess that it would be a turn-based strategy game of sorts. Today, The Behemoth released a Gameplay Teaser video, providing a sneak peek at Game 4, and it is indeed a hex-grid, turn-based strategy game, but with the unique aesthetic The Behemoth's games are known for. Apparently, "It was first revealed at the end of the game demo we brought to PAX Prime 2014--thus the appreciative 'thank you for playing' at the beginning of this video."
If you're attending PAX Prime this weekend, head on over to Booth 3003 to take your crack at the demo of Game 4.
Back in March, Double Fine Productions announced that Costume Quest 2 was in full production and would be arriving in time for Halloween 2014 for PC and consoles. Today, publisher Midnight City announced that beginning today, Costume Quest 2 is available to pre-order on Steam for $14.99 with four exclusive costumes from the original game: Robot, Unicorn, Eyeball, and Pumpkin. There's also a bundle available for $19.99 that includes the game and aforementioned costumes along with a copy of the first game with its Grubbins on Ice DLC, essentially providing that first game at half price.
Costume Quest 2 is arriving for PC (Windows, Mac, Linux) via Steam on October 7. The game is also coming to consoles, but it is unclear whether those will be arriving on that same date. Costume Quest 2 will be playable at PAX Prime this weekend at both the Midnight City Booth (#6808) and Double Fine Booth (#117).
Source: Press Release
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) and Monolith Productions has released a brand new trailer for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, entitled "Meet Ratbag". While the majority of Uruks are dynamically generated through the Nemesis System, thus making them unique to each player, Ratbag is a special case. As shown in the trailer, Ratbag plays a critical role in Shadow of Mordor's story, acting as a mole of sorts after you save him from certain death.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is releasing on September 30 in North America and October 3 in Europe for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. A Season Pass will also be available with an exclusive mission and additional content.
Source: Press Release