OCC TECH NEWS
September 23, 2014
Blizzard had been working on a new MMO, codenamed Titan, for many years before hitting the restart button last May when the company realized it didn't meet the expectations and quality expected of games today, both from a design standpoint and a technology standpoint. The once 100-person team was reduced to a mere 30, with those 30 people starting over from scratch. But now, according to Polygon, development has officially been canceled.
"We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident that we knew how to make MMOs," [Blizzard co-founder and CEO Mike] Morhaime said. "So we set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine. And it didn't come together. We didn't find the fun. We didn't find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that's the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no."
So Titan joins Warcraft Adventures and StarCraft Ghost in Blizzard's canned projects bin. Chris Metzen, Blizzard's senior vice president of story and franchise development, told Polygon that the company didn't want to identify itself with a particular genre, so just because World of Warcraft was such a huge success, doesn't mean Blizzard should now be an MMORPG company. That being said, Morhaime added that he wouldn't say no to ever doing an MMO again, just that right now, that's not where the studio wants to spend its time. And while a lot of time and resources was already put into Titan, Morhaime and Metzen said they'd rather cut out a game no matter how much was spent than put out something that might "damage the relationship [and] smash the trust."
In the meantime, despite losing some subscribers, World of Warcraft is still going strong, and Metzen hopes to continue to "support it forever." Also lending to the decision to cancel Titan was Blizzard's recent success with smaller-scale titles like Hearthstone and the currently-in-alpha Heroes of the Storm. The overwhelming success of Hearthstone in particular has led to the studio realizing that it can do more than big-budget, big-scale projects and still find mass appeal.
"Maybe we can be what we want to be and inspire groups around the company to experiment, get creative, think outside the box and take chances on things that just might thrill people," Metzen said. "Maybe they don't have to be these colossal, summer blockbuster-type products."
After roughly a year of rumors and speculation regarding a Sleeping Dogs follow-up, last Friday developer United Front Games stated that we would finally learn more details in the coming weeks. While a reddit AMA is scheduled for later today (12PM PST), United Front made the official announcement last night, accompanied by a "Welcome to the Triad" video.
Triad Wars is more like a spin-off to Sleeping Dogs than a direct sequel. It's a PC-only, online, open-world, action-adventure, strategy game set in Hong Kong where the criminals take front and center. Players take on the role of an enforcer running a gang in the Hong Kong Triads. The goal is to expand your turf and build a criminal empire. The game is a pure sandbox experience, allowing you to control exactly what criminal enterprises you're involved with on your turf, whether it be counterfeiting, smuggling, etc. Combine that with deciding how to outfit your gang, and you understand where the strategy part comes into play. And of course you'll be competing with rival gangs. That being said, United Front is very keen on involving community feedback, so as Rob Olivera (character design) states in the video, it can be a completely different game in two years depending on how it evolves based on the community's input.
Triad Wars is set to release for PC in early 2015, but a limited Closed Beta registration is currently open. Applications are reviewed on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to head to the official site below and sign up ASAP.
Source: United Front Games and Official Site
Silicon is potentially one of the most important elements to certain human societies, with how reliant we are on our electronics. When silicon is eventually replaced with something better though, it will be truly amazing what may be achieved. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, the Singapore A*STAR Data Storage Institute, and the Singapore University of Technology and Design have recently made an important discovery for phase-change materials, which could be one of silicon's replacements.
Semiconductors, like silicon are used in electronics because they can be used to switch electrical signals on and off, and thereby logic devices can be built with them. Phase-change materials, however, actually switch between phases with different electrical properties, using electrical pulses. This switching can take just nanoseconds to happen, and once done, the material will persist in that phase. Naturally this gives PCMs a potential use for storing data, as non-volatile memory, but it could also be used to perform logic operations. Such in-memory logic devices have been demonstrated, but they have been slower than silicon devices and lack stability. However, the researchers have discovered that by reversing the process that had been used, starting from the conducting, crystalline phase and going to the insulating, amorphous phase, the devices could be faster and more stable.
Combining memory and logic operations into a single device could have dramatic impacts on computing, by conserving space and improving speed. Also, as PCM memory devices are non-volatile, there would be energy savings compared to DRAM, which must refresh the data it stores, or risk losing it.
Source: University of Cambridge
A new day is here and with it brings new reviews for you to check out. Today is particularly useful for those needing a video card upgrade, as both items cover a new product from either AMD or NVIDIA. On the AMD side of things is a review on the Sapphire Radeon R9 285 Dual-X OC video card, which offers a custom cooler and factory overclock to help keep everything cool while gaming. The NVIDIA side covers the new GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970, which run on the Maxwell core and deliver some impressive power efficiency numbers to go along with the top notch performance.
Sapphire Radeon R9 285 Dual-X OC @ ThinkComputers
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 @ PC Perspective
September 22, 2014
Valve is constantly making alterations or adding features to Steam, the biggest gaming platform in the world. But until now, most of those changes have had very little impact on the storefront – the first page you see when you launch Steam or go to steampowered.com in a browser. Back in February, Steam added a "Recently Updated" section nestled between the "Featured" and "New Releases" sections, but the overall layout of the page remain unchanged. However, if you happen to visit the storefont today, you'll notice a rather drastic change, which Valve is calling the "Steam Discovery Update".
According to Valve, the Steam Discovery Update was designed to make it easier to discover exactly what you want. It starts with the storefront itself, or what Valve is now referring to as your Home page. "Specifically, the new features at your disposal from the Home page include personalized recommendations based on your gameplay, reviews from your favorite community Curators, and powerful new search and discovery tools." The featured games reel that has always been a staple on the the top of the page? Now you have the ability to customize it to your liking. By default everything is selected except "Games already in your account", but the other categories you can deselect include: Top Sellers, Early Access Products, Recommended For You, Prepurchase, Software, and DLC for your games & software. Popular New Releases and Games round out the categories, but those can not be turned off. Below that reel, you'll also notice customization options for the "New on Steam" and the "Recently Updated" sections.
Scrolling a bit further down the page, you'll come across a new section that says "Explore Your Queue". The queue this section refers to is the all new "Steam Discovery Queue", presenting you with twelve games Steam thinks you may be interested in. Clicking on your Discovery Queue brings you to a game's store page with four buttons: Add to your wishlist, Follow, Not Interested, and Next in Queue. Like the aforementioned sections, your queue can also be customized to exclude certain categories, like Early Access. Below that is a new Steam Curators section, which allows you to follow Steam Curators ("individuals, organizations, and groups that publish reviews and recommendations in a public forum on Steam"), and then see their recommendations on your storefront.
Below that you'll come across the four tabs for Popular New Releases, Top Sellers, Upcoming, and Specials; but this time around, the lists aren't scrollable on the page. Instead, you click on the "See more" link at the bottom of each list to go to a new search page with the rest of the results. Those new results pages are part of a complete overhaul of Steam's Search and Filtering system. The new and improved system allows you to search by name, tag, or description, or filter by multiple tags and features.
There are a bunch of other minor changes to the storefront and Steam itself, such as the new "Steam Recommendation Feed", a new look for game product pages, and colored indicators for games in your library, wishlist, or cart. For a complete list of changes, check the source below.
Corsair has announced the creation of a new division, Corsair Gaming, dedicated solely to the "elevation of PC gaming and the development of high-performance PC peripherals." As part of this announcement, the first products available from Corsair Gaming are the RGB Series of keyboards, mice, and headsets. Three keyboards will be available, each offering a different number of keys to choose from. The K95 has a full keyboard and 18 function buttons along the left side of the keyboard. The K70 uses a standard keyboard layout and the K65 uses a tenkeyless design. All keyboards will use mechanical switches from Cherry with the option to choose from Blue, Brown, and Red models. Included with the keyboards is the Corsair Utility Engine which allows users to customize their keyboards with "unlimited lighting effects and macros, from solid colors that can highlight key groupings, to smooth gradients, dramatic waves and captivating ripple patterns." The K95 has an MSRP of $189.99, the K70 will cost $169.99, and the K65 will cost $149.99.
The M65 mouse will be available in either black or white color options with a three zone LED lighting scheme. An adjustable laser sensor has a maximum DPI of 8,200 and can be changed on the fly. The mouse is rounded out with eight buttons and an adjustable weight system at an MSRP of $69.99. A pair of headsets will also be available, the wireless H2100 and the wired H1500. Both headsets provide Dolby 7.1 surround sound through micro-fiber wrapped memory foam earpads. The H1500 will be available at a price of $79.99 while the H2100 will cost $99.99.
Source: Press Release
The long awaited sequel from inXile, Wasteland 2, was released on Friday after a 25 year gap from the first game. Gaming accessory and software maker Razer has announced that Wasteland 2 will come bundled with the Razer Surround Software Development Kit (SDK) to provide an "enhanced virtual 7.1 channel surround sound experience with any stereo headphones." inXile has also expressed interest in integrating other Razer SDKs into its products such as the recently announced Chroma SDK. The Razer Surround SDK can be used free of charge and requires no additional software installation. Founder of inXile Brian Fargo described the partnership saying, "I’ve watched Razer and Min grow to become titans in the gaming industry, so when the opportunity to work with them came about, I jumped at it. Razer Surround is able to stimulate the listening senses and will offer our players a way to further immerse themselves into the post-apocalyptic world that is Wasteland 2."
Source: Press Release
According to science fiction, it is cool and futuristic to be able to control devices by waving one's hands. Some technologies already exist to let us do just that, and many of these rely on a device's camera, which works, but is not necessarily the ideal solution. Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a way to use a cellphone's data transmissions to track movement in the area around it for input.
For any number of reasons, our phones broadcast wireless signals that penetrate many materials, including our bodies, very well, but not perfectly. Some of the transmitted signals will be reflected back to the device. With multiple, low-power receivers in a smartphone, the reflection could be picked up and analyzed to track position and movement, and the researchers have aptly named this project SideSwipe.
Compared to camera-based systems, SideSwipe could cut down on battery use, as the data processing involved is much simpler than the video processing cameras require. Also the penetrating nature of wireless transmissions allows SideSwipe to function even when the smartphone would is in a user's pocket or bag.
Source: University of Washington
Unsurprisingly, Assassin's Creed Unity will have a Season Pass. What may be (pleasantly) surprising is the variety included. Today, Ubisoft detailed the contents of the Season Pass, and it's quite impressive. The Season Pass essentially boils down to three main components. The first, and most mundane, DLC extends Arno's journey in Paris, offering three new missions (The American Prisoner, Killed By Science, and The Chemical Revolution) and access to over 30 new weapons, equipment, and outfits, including the exclusive Fleur de Lys sword on launch days. Pretty standard fare as far as DLC goes.
The second piece of the Season Pass is called Assassin's Creed Unity Dead Kings, which offers a new story campaign taking place after the events of the main game, along with a new city to explore. In a self-contained set of missions, players leave Paris for Saint Denis, "a troubled city with a mysterious and extensive underground that holds the crypts of deceased French kings." Equipped with the new Guillotine gun, Arno will fight new merciless adversaries to uncover the darkest secrets of the city. Dead Kings will also feature new open-world activities, such as treasure hunts, murder mysteries, and contracts, including new co-op missions. Lastly, additional weapons, gear, skills, and outfits can be unlocked and carried over to the main game.
If Dead Kings didn't sound cool enough, enter the third piece of the Season Pass, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China. That's right, Assassin's Creed is going to China... but not in the way you expect. Chronicles: China is a standalone 2.5D reimagining of the franchise developed by Climax Studios. Set in 16th century China, players take on the role of the last remaining Assassin of the Chinese Brotherhood, Shao Jun (who you may know from the Assassin's Creed Embers animated movie). After having been trained under Ezio Auditore, Shao Jun has returned to Beijing to exact revenge on all those who destroyed her Brotherhood. "Players will be able to rely on stealth to accomplish their mission, as well as Shao Jun's martial arts training and all-new Assassin gear," such as the Jian Sword and the Foot Blade.
Assassin's Creed Unity will release on November 11 in North America and November 13 in EMEA territories for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The Season Pass will be priced at $29.99, with all content "available by early 2015." I wouldn't be surprised if Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China is available for individual purchase, but no official word on that just yet.
Source: Press Release and UbiBlog
Cooler Master, a leading provider of computer chassis, power supplies, and CPU coolers, has officially released the NovaTouch TKL keyboard. The latest input device from Cooler Master is a hybrid capacitive keyboard that is built around speed, accuracy, and comfort. The NovaTouch TKL makes use of a Japanese made, hybrid capacitive switch that features a uniform 45 gram actuation force and a 1mm actuation point. The unique switch, which is exclusive to Cooler Master, has a smooth press, tactile trigger point, and rapid debounce time. Additionally, the NovaTouch TKL is equipped internally with N-key rollover and anti-ghosting technology, which help to provide improved typing accuracy. Portability and ergonomics were were a forefront when designing the Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL, as it features a detachable micro-USB connector, is quite compact, and is tenkeyless, meaning that it does not include a numeric numpad.
The Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL is available immediately for purchase in North America and carries an MSRP of $199.99. More information about the Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL keyboard can be found within our in-depth unboxing and review.
There are some senses we cannot imagine being without, and touch is definitely one of them. Robots however have only had limited experience with the sense of touch, and they would have as much use for it as we do. Researchers at MIT have recently created a new touch sensor that can give robots touch with impressive accuracy in real time.
The new sensor is actually based on an old design called GelSight, which uses light to measure touch. The sensor consists of a plastic cube with metallic paint on one side, along with multiple lights and detectors. These lights, each a different color, shine through the cube, bouncing around and reflecting off of the paint, until eventually returning to the light detectors. These detectors measure the intensity of the light and feed that data to a computer-vision algorithm that uses it to reconstruct the surface of the cube. The original GelSight sensors could resolve deformations on the micrometer scale, while this version works on the millimeter scale. That is still more sensitive than our fingers though and the loss in resolution does allow the sensor to be smaller and for the processing to be done in real time.
The researchers have already tested a robot with a single one of these sensors by having it plug a USB cable into a plug (something some people even have trouble with). With luck, we may see this prototype developed into a practical device before long.
Back in July, Gearbox Software and Take-Two Interactive Software announced Battleborn, an FPS-MOBA hybrid that Gearbox refers to as a "hero shooter". Battleborn consists of five factions of heroes: Peacekeepers, Eldrid, Jennerit, L.L.C., and Rogues. Each faction works together against a common enemy, the Varelsi, but they all have different playstyles and narrative motives, such as the Peacekeepers being your soldiers while the Eldrid are your fantasy tropes. Along with some 5v5 competitive multiplayer that shares similarities with MOBAs, Battleborn features a five-player cooperative campaign, which Gearbox has shared in a new gameplay walkthrough video:
The video above features five unique characters: Oscar Mike, Montana, Thorn, Miko, and Rath. Each character is quite different, both aesthetically and in the way they play. Every time a character levels up, players get to choose one of two new abilities/skills. It's an interesting system that reminds me more of Starcraft II or the new XCOM games more than your typical MMO, MOBA, or RPG. That being said, at Level 7, each character unlocks his or her Ultimate ability, which is certainly more MOBA-like; though something that has also been a part of each Borderlands game as well. Like Borderlands, the game also features a rather unique aesthetic, which you can see in both the video above and the fifteen new screenshots below.
Battleborn is expected to arrive sometime in 2015 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. While it may borrow aspects of MOBAs, the game is not free-to-play, and in fact is already available for pre-order at major retailers for a whopping $59.99 – yes, even the PC version has that price tag. The game looks sweet, but Gearbox may find it rather difficult to convince gamers to spend that much on an FPS-MOBA, especially on the PC where there are so many other free alternatives.
Source: Facebook and Official Site
As we approach the limits of silicon circuitry, more and more replacements are appearing to claim the element's throne. Hopefully silicon's reign will last long enough for a clear successor to be found. Researchers at Harvard though have discovered a new material that could be that successor.
This new material is what is called a correlated oxide and uses quantum mechanics to challenge silicon. The base material is samarium nickelate, but by doping it with hydrogen or lithium, the researchers were able to manipulate its band gap. The band gap is a very important characteristic of many materials as it determines the energy difference between conducting and non-conducting electrons. Silicon transistors require the ratio between conducting and non-conducting, or on/off states, to be 104. Previous attempts with correlated oxides have only had an on/off ratio of 10 or 100, but the Harvard researchers were able to achieve a ratio greater than 105, putting it near state-of-the-art silicon transistors. This ratio is present when the material is at room temperature, or even hundreds of degrees above it.
One would expect that a material to potentially replace silicon would come from a lab investigating such replacements. This discovery actually came out of a fuel cell lab though, where the researcher's experience with thin films and ionic transport was used to create the correlated oxide.
Source: Harvard University
NVIDIA has just made the GeForce 344.16 drivers available for its newly released GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 GPUs. The latest drivers, which are in beta, come just days after NVIDIA released the WHQL certified GeForce 344.11 drivers. The new GeForce 344.16 drivers are only compatible with the GTX 980 and GTX 970, and while a release notes link is available on the NVIDIA website, it is nonfunctional at this time. No information has been released surrounding bug fixes and performance improvements that the GeForce 344.16 drivers may bring to the table.
Those willing to download and use the latest GeForce beta drivers for the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 can do so through the NVIDIA website.
September 21, 2014
Namco Bandai Games has released a TGS 2014 Trailer for Dragon Ball Xenoverse, and in doing so confirmed that the game will now be coming to PC via Steam, alongside the previously announced console versions. While this is the 15th Dragon Ball fighting game released on home consoles (and thus why it's abbreviated Dragon Ball XV), Xenoverse marks the first time a Dragon Ball game will be released on PC. The announcement comes less than a week after NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja STORM Revolution launched on Steam; another popular manga fighter published by Namco Bandai.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse is planned for a March 2015 release on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Namco Bandai
iBUYPOWER, a company that boasts superior performance, reliability, cutting edge technology, and timely production, has announced that a full range of gaming systems that carry the newly released NVIDIA GTX 980 GPU are now available. With the latest high-performance video card from NVIDIA, which features the impressive Maxwell architecture, gamers can expect an unparalleled gaming experience with PC titles that are currently available, as well as titles that will be released in the future. The Senior Vice President of iBUYPOWER, Darren Su, stated that "iBUYPOWER always guarantees its customers that we carry and support the latest technology and NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 980 and 970 are no exception."
Information about the technology and performance that the NVIDIA GTX 980 offers, as well as a selection of systems that feature the latest graphics card from NVIDIA, can be found on the iBUYPOWER website.
September 20, 2014
Since OverclockersClub is predominantly a computer site, we tend to only post gaming news that involve or affect the PC gaming landscape. I mention this because right now Final Fantasy XV is only confirmed for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But with the new-gen consoles basically (watered-down) PCs, the recent announcement of all three Final Fantasy XIII games coming to Steam, the high likelihood of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD coming to PC, and all the other Final Fantasy games that have been brought to PC (and well received, I might add), it seems almost guaranteed that Final Fantasy XV will be making its way to PC eventually.
While people argue back and forth regarding Western RPGs versus JRPGs, the one thing that is almost universally accepted is that, when it comes to graphical fidelity, Western RPGs have always been far superior. Western RPGs like the Elder Scrolls, Witcher, and Dragon Age franchises have been leading the charge for quite awhile now, but Square Enix is about to change that with Final Fantasy XV. While it still has the Japanese styling, particularly for its characters, everything else about FF XV looks more akin to those aforementioned Western RPGs than JRPGs of the past.
Source: Press Release
Apple recently announced the next generation of the iPhone, the iPhone 6, which was able to set a sales record for the company after four million phones were preordered by eager customers. Although iPhone 6 pre-orders were set to ship out yesterday, it has come to light that the iPhone 6 Plus is experiencing massive shipping delays. According to Verizon Wireless, iPhone 6 Plus orders will not ship out until October 24, 2014. AT&T has noted that it could not promise iPhone 6 Plus orders until November, while Sprint failed to provide a shipping timeline and T-Mobile simply stated that it would honor all preorders. Even the Apple retail store is currently listing a three to four week shipping timeframe, which seems to be the shortest of all delays announced.
As more orders come in for the iPhone 6 Plus, which seems to be the more popular model when compared to the iPhone 6, the delays will likely continue until additional units can be manufactured.
NVIDIA's debut of the GTX 900 Series graphics cards issued in the first wave of Maxwell-based GPUs; an architecture that is pretty damn impressive. Among its many features (such as Dynamic Super Resolution), NVIDIA "designed Maxwell to solve some of the most complex lighting and graphics challenges in visual computing." NVIDIA's game demo team decided to test the capabilities of its new technology in a rather unique way, recreating the moon landing scene in Unreal Engine 4 using one of Maxwell's key technologies – Voxel-Based Global Illumination, or VXGI.
VXGI is a new and improved representation of the way light bounces from one object to another in real time, by breaking a scene's geometry into many thousands of tiny boxes called voxels (essentially a pixel in 3D). Maxwell accelerates the creation of these voxels using a technology called "multi-projection", which lets the GPU process the geometry just once for each box's six sides. So how did the demo team use this technology to prove the legitimacy of the moon landing?
Conspiracy theorists have argued for decades that Buzz Aldrin's suit must have been lit from something other than the sun, since the sun was behind the lunar module. The only explanation was that it was an auxiliary light source... in a studio. The photo was just too perfect. After NVIDIA's demo team "researched the rivets on the lunar lander, identified the properties of the dust coating the moon's surface, and measured the reflectivity of the material used in the astronauts' space suits," NVIDIA got to work on recreating the scene. Not only was the demo team able to reproduce how the light illuminated Aldrin, proving there was no artificial light source, it was also able to prove that the reason there were no stars in the photo was simply due to the exposure level of the camera.
NVIDIA's demonstration is quite the fascinating and unique use of a technology we typically think as only applicable to gaming or rendering. So now that one of the top conspiracy theories has been debunked, what's next for the green team? The Kennedy Assassination?
Source: Press Release and NVIDIA Blog
Sony has recently revealed that users of the Sony Entertainment Network online store can now watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters and hit TV episodes from the newly launched Video Unlimited web player. The new web player eliminates the need to download content through a separate application, and boasts support for Windows and Mac machines. Easy to use playback controls have been integrated into the Video Unlimited web player, and full screen mode is supported as well. Owned and previously rented content is also available for immediate viewing. In order to access the Video Unlimited web player, users simply need to navigate to the Sony Entertainment Network online store, rent or purchase an available video, and then select the “Watch Now” button.
The new web player is currently available to all Video Unlimited countries, which include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.
Google Maps, which provides Android and iOS users with free driving, walking, and bicycling directions, has announced that it has expanded to support 20 additional countries. The countries that are now able to use the navigation feature found within Google Maps, which still happens to be in beta, include Angola, Bahamas, Bolivia, Botswana, Fiji, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tobago, and Trinidad. While those residing in these countries will benefit the most from this announcement, travelers who visit these countries will also benefit from being able to find their way through areas that are unknown to them.
Source: Android Central
September 19, 2014
We have known that a sequel to Sleeping Dogs has been in the works for quite some time now, but until now all we had was a name: Triad Wars. Most people assumed, reasonably so, that Triad Wars would be like its predecessor – a third-person, open-world action game for PC and consoles. Well, not so fast. According to developer United Front Games, Triad Wars is an "upcoming PC online game." Nothing else was divulged, but the studio did post an interesting Vine video:
According to Triad Wars Community Manager James Baldwin, more will be unveiled on Tuesday, September 23 at 12PM PST via a reddit AMA.
Source: United Front Games and Twitter
They say great things can come in small packages, and it appears that may be true, if you can think of a dwarf galaxy as 'small.' Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered that a dwarf galaxy may have at its center a supermassive black hole many times larger than the one at the center of our own Milky Way.
M60-UCD1 is a so-called ultracompact dwarf galaxy orbiting M60, which is one of the larger galaxies in our area. The researchers had previously examined the dwarf galaxy, noting the rate at which it was emitting X-rays. The rate matches that of gas falling into the supermassive black holes of other, much larger galaxies. Using the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea, the researchers determined that M60-UCD1 may have at its core a supermassive black hole weighing it at 21 million solar masses. With a total mass of 140 million solar masses, that black hole would make up 15% of the galaxy's mass. For comparison, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way comes in at 4 million solar masses, but our galaxy weighs 50 billion solar masses (50,000 million, to be clear).
The obvious question is how could a dwarf galaxy have such a large black hole at its core? The researchers suggest that the dwarf galaxy is possibly what remains of a once larger galaxy, where a supermassive black hole is more expected. When it passed by another galaxy, likely M60, most of the gas and stars were stripped off, leaving what looks like a dwarf galaxy behind. If this is accurate, then other dwarf galaxies may also house similarly large supermassive black holes.
Source: University of Utah
Earlier in the month, I posted that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD would likely arrive on PC via Steam following the console release. Many Final Fantasy games have been released on Steam over the past year or so, including the most recent release on Tuesday: Final Fantasy IV. But now perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that Square Enix is embracing PC gaming JRPG fans – the full Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is coming to Steam.
The first game, Final Fantasy XIII, will be arriving on Steam October 9 for a mere $15.99. Pre-ordering earns you a 10% discount, dropping the price to $14.39. Its sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and the sequel to that, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, will also be coming to Steam next Spring. I'm sure once all three are released, there will be some sort of trilogy pack for purchase, but no word on that.
Source: Press Release
Netflix users have been able to use a variety of devices to view the popular video streaming service, and Ubuntu users will soon find themselves on that list as well. Support for Ubuntu can be enabled with a series of modifications, but this new update will enable native support. An update will be rolled out for the Network Security Services library to users of the current Long Term Support release, 14.04, within the next two weeks, while version 14.10 will have a compatible version from the start. Paul Adolph of Netflix recently posted to the Ubuntu Developer mailing list to explain the process, "Netflix will play with Chrome stable in 14.02 if NSS version 3.16.2 or greater is installed. If this version is generally installed across 14.02, Netflix would be able to make a change so users would no longer have to hack their User-Agent to play."
Source: OMG Ubuntu
NVIDIA has launched its newest king of the hill video card, with the GeForce GTX 980 offering some truly impressive numbers across the board. It runs on the GM204 Maxwell core, which has a maximum TDP of 165W. That is a crazy low wattage for a high-end video card, especially one that is rocking 2048 CUDA cores, 64 ROPs, 128 texture units, 4GB of GDDR5 memory, and 5.2 billion transistors. Core clock speed comes in at 1126MHz, while that 4GB of memory is running at 7000MHz. The cooler is the same style as NVIDIA's recent ones from the GTX 700 cards, yet should still have the same effectiveness as it is a pretty standout model. Enough talking, onward to the reviews!
NVIDIA GTX 980 @ OCC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 @ Neoseeker
Maxwell Makes Its Debut: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 & GTX 980 @ TechSpot
Maxwell is Here! GTX 980 is Now Revealed! @ Bjorn3D
NVIDIA GTX 980 @ LanOC Reviews
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 @ Benchmark Reviews
The end of the week is upon us, and that means there are some reviews to help send you off right. We have a look at the ASUS Maximus VII Formula, which is the company's new ROG motherboard for the Intel Z97 chipset. There's also a review on the AMD Kabini APUs and how the company has brought back the Athlon nomenclature. The LUXA2 GroovyR 360° Micro Wireless Wall Mount Speaker gets put to the test to see how well it can handle all your tunes. Wrapping things up for the week is a new podcast looking back at the latest news and reviews.
Return of the Athlon: AMD Brings Kabini to the Desktop @ Bjorn3D
ASUS Maximus VII Formula @ Bjorn3D
LUXA2 GroovyR 360° Micro Wireless Wall Mount Speaker @ ThinkComputers
Podcast #318 @ PC Perspective
Many children once envisioned that when they grew up, their work attire would be a spacesuit. While it is easy to say that spacesuits are cool, future spacesuits may have a very different look to them in the future. Researchers at MIT are working on a design that could see modern bulky spacesuits replaced with suits that are effectively a second skin.
Spacesuits are really just small spacecraft with life support systems to keep the occupant warm and at a livable pressure. Modern designs achieve that pressure using gases, but the design the researchers are working on would rely on mechanical pressure instead. That pressure would be delivered by coils of a shape-memory alloy. These materials are special metals that can learn a specific shape that they will return to, when heated to a certain temperature. Below that temperature, the alloy is pliable like a paperclip. The idea is to incorporate these coils into the spacesuit, which will be flexible enough for an astronaut to put on, and once on the alloys will be heated to return to their learned shape, which will be smaller, pulling the suit onto the person.
While tests show that such a spacesuit would be able to apply the needed amount of pressure to a body, it does have the problem of requiring temperatures that would eventually cook the astronaut, unless a locking mechanism can be developed. Given the reduction in weight and potential increase in mobility though, you can bet that the flaws will be worked out eventually.
The 25+ year wait is finally over for fans of one of the most iconic and influential RPGs in video game history, Wasteland. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, followed by Steam Early Access, Wasteland 2 has now officially launched. With seven squad members to manage, 80+ hours of gameplay, 300+ characters to meet, and a total word count of 550,000+, I think it's safe to say inXile didn't pull any punches in making the sequel the very best it could; one deserving of the Wasteland name.
Wasteland 2 is currently available for purchase from most digital download retailers, including Steam and GOG, for a mere $39.99. A Digital Deluxe Edition is also available for $59.99, which not only includes a copy of the game, but also copies of both Wasteland 1 and The Bard's Tale, along with three digital novellas set in The Wasteland world, Mark Morgan's Wasteland 2 original sound track in digital format, and an incredible digital concept art book showcasing many of the world's characters and environments.
Source: Press Release