OCC TECH NEWS
July 2, 2014
Corsair has announced a partnership with eSports organization compLexity Gaming to "work together to promote the world of eSports to the masses." Corsair will use the partnership to help develop new products geared towards gamers, similar to work done by Thermaltake and others, and compLexity has gained a new sponsor for its peripheral needs. Senior Director of Consumer Marketing at Corsair Mark Bony said, "compLexity Gaming are both leaders and veterans in the eSports field. We look forward to working with them to elevate the state of the art in PC gaming hardware and broadening the awareness of eSports." COO of compLexity Gaming Jason Bass added, "Corsair is a brand that I have always personally respected. I am very excited to have the opportunity to partner with them as well as to utilize their incredible mice and keyboards."
Source: Press Release
Tripwire Interactive has announced the annual summer event for the multiplayer zombie shooter Killing Floor, and this year it is entitled End of the Line. The name for the update is likely a reference to the upcoming Killing Floor 2 sequel, and it looks like the game will go out with a bang. The event is available starting today and brings with it some free and paid content. Two new wave mode maps are included in addition to a single objective and wave mode based map. A new character can also be unlocked by completing the new map on objective mode. A neon themed character and weapons pack are available as paid DLC. In celebration of the new event, Killing Floor is currently 50% off on Steam.
Source: Tripwire Interactive
Back in April, Capybara Games announced that its Roguelike exploration game BELOW will be coming to Steam alongside the Xbox One. Today, Capy announced that its side-scrolling, time-traveling shooter Super Time Force, which released for Xbox One and Xbox 360 in May, will be heading to Steam as well. But it's not just a mere port! Entitled Super Time Force Ultra, or lovingly abbreviated as STFU, Capy is "adding some very cool (but presently very secret) stuff to [its] crazy time-traveling game!"
In addition to STFU coming to Steam, the 53-track Super Time Force Soundtrack by 6955 is now available for purchase. I wouldn't be surprised if it's sold on Steam as well, maybe even as a pre-purchase bonus. You can listen to the soundtrack at the official site linked below.
Super Time Force Ultra will be coming to Steam sometime this Summer. Pricing and an exact date have not been disclosed and the Steam Store Page has not yet been published.
Source: Official Site via Facebook
Supernatural detective thriller Murdered: Soul Suspect launched last month, but while it had looked like a promising and unique game, it was sadly met with rather mediocre reception. Unfortunately for developer Airtight Games, that mediocre reception was probably met with sub-par sales, and it now seems like the studio couldn't withstand those poor numbers. After laying off 14 employees back in April in what was called "necessary restructuring [as] part of the normal ebb and flow of game production," it now seems like the indie studio has closed its doors for good.
While its website remains online and company executives have not released an official statement, Geekwire is reporting that there's a sign outside Airtight's Redmond office saying the company is closing its doors, "and its office equipment was being sold off at heavy discounts." This seems a bit at odds with what an Airtight executive told IGN after the April layoffs, claiming that "existing projects are on schedule and Airtight Games is actively seeking partners for exciting upcoming projects." It's possible the studio couldn't find partners quick enough to keep the bills paid, or it's also possible that with the downsizing of the company, the smaller team will simply be moving to a smaller office. If the company has indeed shut down, that would certainly be a shame, especially considering its 2012 Portal-inspired, puzzle-platformer Quantum Conundrum was quite well-received (and I certainly recommend any Portal fan to pick it up).
Airtight Games was certainly willing to take risks and try new ideas, but sadly that risk may have caught up to it. Hopefully we'll learn more soon.
Anyone who has had to pay a power bill or seen rates increase can understand one reason why energy efficiency is important. Sometimes it feels like anything that could reduce usage would be worth it, but could it be possible for a home to zero net energy usage over a year? That is a question researchers at NIST decided to test and the year is up, with great success.
The Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) is a four-occupant house and laboratory in Maryland with many technologies to reduce energy usage, or to even produce energy. There are solar panels on the roof, a geothermal system underground, a solar water-heating system, and the house was built with double the insulation level. Inside the home had all of the appliances you can find around your own house, with extra equipment to control and monitor them, in order to simulate the use of a four-person family. After a year, which included severe weather, the home not only met the net-zero energy goal but exceeded it with a 491 kilowatt hour surplus. In total it used 13,086 kWh, which was 3000 kWh more than expected with normal weather, but roughly 14,000 kWh less than a comparable Maryland home, built to state energy standards, would use.
With this experiment done, and the point of a net-zero home proven, the NZERTF will continue to be used to test technologies and measures to reduce energy use and improve efficiency, with an aim at reducing costs. The researchers estimate the technologies used and efficiency-enhancing construction would add about $162,700 onto the cost of a comparable home built to Maryland's building code, when totaled together.
We have a few items for you to check out on this Wednesday, so hopefully they can help you get through the day. There is a look at the MSI Z97 XPower motherboard, which resembles the Z87 version, just with a slightly different layout and water cooling barbs on the CPU VRM heat sink. We also have a review on the SteelSeries Sensei wireless gaming mouse to see how the company's first wireless mouse stacks up to its wired brethren. Finally there's an article covering Steam In-Home Streaming and what it means for the future of gaming.
MSI Z97 XPower @ PC Perspective
SteelSeries Sensei Wireless Gaming Mouse @ Madshrimps
Steam In-Home Streaming and Gaming Future @ Benchmark Reviews
July 1, 2014
Back in January, CD Projekt RED announced The Witcher Adventure Game, a tabletop game that will be getting a PC and mobile version. But apparently that's not the only mobile Witcher game in the works. Today, CD Projekt RED announced that it'll be entering the world of free mobile gaming with The Witcher Battle Arena, "a fast, fun and accessible MOBA game based in the Witcher universe." Battle Arena has been designed with mobile devices in mind, combining "great accessibility and a balanced learning curve with complex tactics and a limitless array of skill-based strategies gamers can deploy during each battle." Most importantly, CD Projekt RED is determined to put fun before profit – every piece of in-game content can be unlocked via gameplay, with microtransactions simply allowing players to unlock certain items faster. According to Creative Analyst Tadek Zielinski, "Battle Arena is all about skill and dedication, and we've spent hundreds of hours planning to make it a paragon of fairness in mobile gaming."
So how does the game play out? "In the Arena, six heroes battle it out to the death, trying to capture and hold three conquest points in short, intense and action-packed skirmishes." Battle Arena offers a 3v3 PvP mode, a co-op mode against "mischievous bots," and yes, even the ability to "play alone if your Internet decides to take the day off." As of now, there are eight heroes planned, each with their own unique skills and tactics: Eithne of Brokilon, Philippa Eilhart, The Golem, Iorveth, Letho of Gulet, The Operator, Saskia of Aedirn, and Zoltan Chivay. Be sure to check the official site for detailed information on each hero.
The Witcher Battle Arena is scheduled to launch sometimes in Q4 2014 on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows Tablets, "with free future updates planned to expand the game both in terms of number of characters, gameplay modes and more." While CD Projekt RED designed the game, development duties fall to fellow Polish studio Fuero Games.
Source: Press Release and Official Site
Japan Industrial Partners, the investment firm that bought the Vaio brand from Sony earlier this year so that Sony could focus on its mobile offerings, has just relaunched the Vaio brand. Although Sony sold the brand, it still holds a small stake in the Vaio PC business, which allows it to sell the computers. Two new laptops, known as the Vaio Fit and Vaio Pro, are now available through Sony's online Japanese storefront. While the name brand lives on, Japan Industrial Partners is at this time only providing Vaio products to consumers within the Japanese market. The company is attempting to gain a foothold in the crowded laptop segment by pushing innovative features such as the latest Intel processors, solid state drives, and touch screens, but only time will tell how popular the Vaio brand becomes.
ASUSTOR has just released ASUTOR Data Manager 2.2, just over four months after it released version 2.1. The latest version adds in various new features and optimizations, much of which were included thanks to user input and feedback, according to Product Manager at ASUSTOR, Steve Huang. ADM 2.2 contains several new core features, including Night Mode scheduling, hard disk hibernation indicators, multilingual username support, more advanced UPS functionality, and support for external CD, DVD, and Blu-ray drives. New applications are also available in ADM 2.2 and include Photo Gallery, MiniDLNA, Google Drive, HiDrive, and Mail Server. Another feature that is included with ADM 2.2 is a Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox add-on known as Download Helper, which provides one-click downloading of online streaming video.
ADM 2.2 is available for all ASUSTOR NAS devices and can be downloaded now.
Source: Press Release
Music streaming service Songza is the latest company to be purchased by Google, at a rumored price of $35 million. The company "is in the business of learning about what songs people want to listen to when they’re in particular situations such as a summer cookout or relaxing at home." The acquisition joins a growing number in that technology sector including the purchase of Beats Music by Apple. Google is reportedly planning to use the team to work on the Google Play Music All Access service.
Source: NY Post
The Samsung 850 Pro is the latest solid state drive from the company and it is the first to use the new 3D vertical NAND flash memory technology. The new technology "features a proprietary vertical cell structure that overcomes the density limit currently facing planar NAND architecture." The 850 Pro is capable of read and write speeds up to 550MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively, and also boasts 100,000 read IOPS and 90,000 IOPS. It will be available in capacities of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB.
Source: Maximum PC
Sometimes small things can mean very big things, but before those big things can happen, you have to detect the small things. Detecting the almost infinitesimal is hardly easy though, but researchers at Berkeley Lab and the University of California, Berkeley have recently measured a force of roughly 42 yoctonewtons (yN). That would be 0.000000000000000000000042 (42*10-24) Newtons, and one ounce of force is 0.278 N (or 2.78*1023 times greater).
This ultrasensitive detector uses an optical trap to hold and cool a cloud of rubidium atoms. Two standing-wave light fields are what actually trap the atoms and isolate them from the external environment. By modulating one of the fields, the cloud's center of mass can be moved, and this movement can be picked up by another, probe beam of light. The key aspect of this detector is that it decouples the atoms from the environment, which allows the measurement to approach the Standard Quantum Limit, which is the smallest force that can be measured, according to the Uncertainty principles. The closest we have gotten to the SQL before was six to either orders of magnitude, but this got us to just four times above it.
The ability to measure such unbelievably small forces could impact Newtonian physics and General Relativity. We have to be able to measure forces, specifically gravity, at very small scales to answers some of the questions these fields present us with.
Source: Berkeley Lab
Depending on your age, you may have never played Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, but if you follow video game history or development, odds are you're at least aware of its existence and impact on the industry. Released in 1992, it's considered the first first-person 3D role-playing game, and is cited as inspiration for The Elder Scrolls, System Shock, Deus Ex, and many more. Legends Richard Garriott and Warren Spector directed and produced the game, respectively, but the real vision of the game came from Paul Neurath, who later went on to lead the development of such classic franchises as Thief and System Shock.
Seemingly out of the business for the past decade, Paul Neurath is back as founder and CEO of brand new, Boston-based indie studio OtherSide Entertainment, with the goal of "bringing to core gamers reboots of classic game franchises." Underworld Ascension is the studio's first title and will mark a return to the Underworld franchise for the first time since 1993's Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds. With Underworld Ascension, OtherSide aims "to innovate and revitalize the fantasy genre in the same way that its predecessor did in 1992."
As of now, Underworld Ascension is only planned for PC, but no release window has been provided. In addition, it's unclear if this new entry in the series will have any ties to Ultima, as Electronic Arts holds the IP rights to that; which may be why the Ultima name is absent this time around.
Source: Press Release
The Dead Island universe is expanding once again. The original Dead Island and its sequel Dead Island: Riptide are survival horror action-RPGs with an emphasis on melee combat and co-op. Then there's Dead Island: Epidemic, which is a zombified twist on the MOBA genre. At E3, Dead Island 2 was announced, which brings the series back to its roots with seamless co-op multiplayer and "first-person melee combat with dedicated RPG elements such as character development, looting and weapon crafting." But now comes the announcement of an entirely new game in the series, entitled Escape Dead Island, which is unlike any of the previous games.
Escape Dead Island is a "third-person single-player survival mystery spin-off that unravels the origins of the zombie outbreak and tells the story between multi-million-seller Dead Island and the recently announced successor Dead Island 2." It's a story-driven adventure that follows Cliff Calo, who arrives on the island of Narapela, part of the Banoi archipelago, seeking to document the unexplained events he heard about. Aside from the switch to third-person perspective, the other major difference you'll notice right away is the aesthetic change – Escape Dead Island uses a cel-shaded look, as you can see in the trailer and screenshots below.
Escape Dead Island is set to launch on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 this Fall for $39.99. The game is being developed by Fatshark, the studio behind (in order from oldest to most recent) Lead and Gold, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, Hamilton's Great Adventure, Krater, War of the Roses, and War of the Vikings – quite the broad range. Meanwhile, Dead Island 2 is being developed by Yager Development, the studio behind Spec Ops: The Line and the upcoming Dreadnought.
Source: Press Release