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!
Belgian studio GRIN is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for its dark fairy tale platformer Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, and I was fortunate enough to receive access to the alpha demo. Instead of simply posting a gameplay video and writing about my first impressions, I decided to narrate as I play. The footage and audio was recorded using NVIDIA ShadowPlay, but the in-game volume gets quite loud, so I apologize for the narration getting drowned out at times. As this is merely an alpha demo, there are no volume options, so it is what it is. Nothing in this demo should be viewed as indicative of the game's final build quality, especially since a lot of animations and systems aren't implemented yet.
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.
September 2, 2014
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 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
When it comes to understanding the existence of the Universe, there can be some curious theories. Naturally testing these theories can be an equally interesting endeavor as they push boundaries almost unimaginable. One theory about the Universe is that what we experience and observe is actually a 2D hologram and now researchers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have an experiment to test this idea.
If the Universe is actually a 2D hologram, then the 3D world we seem to live in is just an illusion, akin to how characters we view with 2D screens believe themselves to be in their own three-dimensional worlds. To test this idea, the researchers are exploiting one of the fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics; uncertainty. If the Universe is a 2D hologram then there must exist 2D bits of information, akin to pixels, and the size of these pixels would be on the Planck scale. These bits describing spacetime, if they exist, but obey quantum mechanics like all other particles, which means there is an uncertainty when measuring their position and velocity. To make those measurements, the researchers have built a Holometer, which is comprised of two, closely place interferometers that are sensitive enough to potentially detect the small jitters of the bits.
For the running of the Holometer experiment, the researchers will be working to identify and isolate sources of noise in the measurements, which could be coming from a variety of sources, including nearby electronics. Eventually though, if the holographic theory is correct, there will a noise that cannot be removed, and thus an aspect of spacetime itself.
Source: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
One year ago, almost to the day, Nintendo unveiled the 2DS; an "entry level" handheld gaming device, abandoning the clam-shell design and 3D support of its older brother, the 3DS. Today, during a Japanese-exclusive Nintendo Direct, Nintendo unveiled two new handheld devices, "New 3DS" and "New 3DS LL" ("LL" is the "XL" equivalent in Japan) – because apparently the people in charge of naming Nintendo's products didn't learn their lesson from the Wii U fiasco. Cue the Abbott & Costello routine when outlets start selling "used New 3DS" versus "new New 3DS". Let's hope the name changes by the time it reaches the Western markets, for Nintendo's own good. Skip to approximately the 14:30 mark in the video below for the reveal:
Naming aside, what really matters is the specs. Both versions are receiving a boost in power thanks to an upgraded CPU, but the most exciting new feature is that Nintendo has finally added a second analog stick! Granted it's a small nub and not a full-size analog stick, but it's still a welcome improvement. In addition, both "New" revisions have two additional shoulder buttons situated beside the existing ones, providing two on each side: R/ZR and L/ZL. The ABXY buttons have also received a facelift, matching the color-coding of the original SNES controller in the Japan market. No word on whether the Western markets will feature the same colors or the gray/purple ones.
In addition to the new and altered buttons, both New 3DS handhelds will have a built-in NFC device for amiibo figurine support, removing the need for a separate accessory. Nintendo also claims that the 3D has been improved, allowing for greater viewing angles. Meanwhile both screens on the New 3DS have had their sizes increased by 1.2x, while the New 3DS LL screens remain the same. As a result, the New 3DS is slightly larger and weighs a bit more than the current 3DS, but the New 3DS LL is a tad lighter than the current 3DS LL, though obviously more than both the 3DS and New 3DS.
The New 3DS and New 3DS LL are scheduled to launch on October 11 in Japan, but Western markets will have to wait for 2015. It's an interesting move since it'll likely negatively affect 2DS and 3DS sales in the Western markets this holiday season; especially considering Xenoblade Chronicles will only be supported by these New revisions and not any of the old ones (not even the one-year-old 2DS). While it's just one exclusive game right now with no other titles confirmed, many current Nintendo handheld gamers are already worried about what the future will hold.
Source: Nintendo Direct via Neoseeker
For years I was told how important a strong vocabulary is, and it took me years to realize just how true that is. Of course you can grow your vocabulary by reading books, newspapers, and hardware review websites. Now researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Karlstad University have proven that playing video games can also strengthen your vocabulary.
For their study, the researchers had 76 children from 10 to 11 years old fill out questionnaires and a language diary, to track encounters with English, outside of school. The boys reported spending an average of 11.5 hours a week playing video games, compared to the girls' 5.1 hour average. The girls however did spend, on average, 11.5 hours a week on online language-related activities, primarily Facebook, while the boys only spent 8 hours a week, on average. It is important to note that for many of these children, their first language was Swedish and they were learning English as a second language. The gamers of the group demonstrated a significantly better English vocabulary than the others, which may be the result of English being commonly used in the games they played, while on Facebook the children could use Swedish instead.
Along with finding the positive impact of playing games, the researchers also identified that MMORPGs were the most effective at developing English vocabulary, thanks to the number of players of interaction between them.
Whenever you take a picture, the photons that are captured were actually reflected or scattered by the objects in the image. This is how cameras have always worked, but could it be possible to take a picture with photons that never interacted with the imaged object? It must be as researchers at the University of Vienna, Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, and the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology have done so.
To achieve this seemingly impossible task, the researchers turned to quantum mechanics and the phenomenon entanglement in particular. Entanglement is when particles are so tightly bound together that the properties of one can affect and determine properties of the other, even when separated over great distances. To create the entangled particles, the researchers fired a laser into a pair of nonlinear crystals, with the imaged object in the middle. Both crystals created pairs of entangled photons, but one would be an infrared photon while the other would just be red. The optics of the experiment made sure all of the infrared photons from the first crystal took the path that would have them interact with the target, a sketch of a cat, while the red photons would remain clear of it. The infrared photons would then enter the second crystal, combining with any infrared photons made there. All of these infrared photons were then discarded, while the red photons were captured by a camera that could not even see the infrared photons.
Despite the red photons never interacting with the sketch of the cat, the beams still recreated it in bright and dark patterns, because the information of the infrared photons was preserved by the red photons. This research could see some very interesting applications in the future, including in medical and biological imaging where low light imaging is important.
Source: University of Vienna
August 28, 2014
Valve recently added support to the Steam client for hardware encoding on NVIDIA GPUs, allowing gamers to "play remotely from your PC connected to any Steam-enabled system in your home at resolutions up to 1080p at 60 fps." Sam Lantinga of Valve described the effort saying, "We’ve worked closely with NVIDIA to support hardware encoding on GeForce cards with our Steam In-Home Streaming technology, and the result is nothing short of amazing." The NVIDIA hardware encoder is able to encode the frames in real time and allows gamers to play with no noticeable lag.
PowerColor has announced the latest addition to its stable of video cards, the TurboDuo R9 285 OC. The card is being offered as "a cost-effective choice for those who are looking for the best bang for their buck." The card has 2GB of GDDR5, a factory overclocked core speed of 945MHz, and a memory clock of 1375MHz. A pair of 80mm fans help to power the namesake TurboDuo cooling system with patented Double Blades design that offers 20% more airflow. The heatsink is made of pure copper and has a U-shape heat pipe design. The features of the card are rounded out with DirectX 12 support, 7-phase power design, and multiple connection options.
Source: Press Release
When the Kickstarter campaign for Planetary Annihilation came to an end on September 14, 2012, it raised over $2.2 million, smashing its $900k goal and solidifying six stretch goals in the process. Since that time, it's been a long and tumultuous road for developer Uber Entertainment. On June 13, 2013, the game entered Steam Early Access with a price of $90, which created quite the stir. But it made complete sense because that was the price of the lowest Kickstarter pledge tier to receive alpha access, with the price lowering over time as the game entered new phases of development, all the way down to its current price of $29.99. People with common sense understood the pricing and accepted it, but of course naysayers and trolls are always the loudest. Nevertheless, Uber didn't buckle under the pressure and instead buckled down to push out update after update.
Now, nearly two years after its campaign ended, Planetary Annihilation is set to exit Early Access and officially launch on September 5. "The launch edition of the game includes a number of upgrades, including enhancements to both single-player and multiplayer. It will also include two new features: resource-rich gas giants and the "Annihilaser," a celestial laser of doom that obliterates planets with each tremendous blast." While the official date may be September 5, the game will actually be updated "shortly" with these new features, and the release build will be playable at PAX Prime from August 29 through September 3.
Source: Kickstarter Update and Steam
Over 13,000 years ago, many great animals lived in North America, including mastodons, saber-toothed cats, and even American horses, but they all disappeared at the end of the Pleistocene period. The exact cause of this mass extinction has been a matter of debate for some time now. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara however have new evidence that may solve the mystery.
Studies of prehistoric times often require looking at the many layers of materials beneath us. Each layer was deposited at a certain time and the materials of each layer can tell us about the Earth's situation at the time, and about certain events. Across what is called the Younger Dryas boundary, the researchers have found many nanodiamonds. These small carbon crystals are found in their cubic forms, like those we use for jewelry, and as hexagonal crystals. What makes these particular diamonds important though is that they could only have been formed by a massive event, such as a cosmic impact.
The only other barrier that has had more than one identification of nanodiamonds is the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. The nanodiamonds in this barrier are the result of the cosmic impact that killed off the dinosaurs and many other species on Earth, 65 million years ago.
Source: University of California, Santa Barbara