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Technology

Two new Razer laptops offer power and profile at a premium

Mar 12 // Steven Hansen
Razer Blade Pro (17") The Razer Blade Pro is in an iterative year. Of course there has been an obsessive attention to making the laptop more powerful, abetted by Nvidia's Maxwell generation Geforce GTX 860M. With what is seen as the fastest mobile GPU, the Pro has seen 46 percent higher benchmark performance.  With the 860M comes a host of Nvidia Geforce features. ShadowPlay allows for easy live streaming to Twitch and ten-minute buffered game capture without performance issues while GameStream allows streaming from the Pro to a remote display. Nvidia's Battery Boost, meanwhile, can reportedly double battery life. Locking the frame rate to 30 will help with that as well. Doubled RAM (now 16GB) and a fourth-generation Intel i7 have all been jammed into the Pro's consistent form factor. Razer is also pushing its Switchblade UI. The touch pad on the Pro is also a screen, which you can use to browse Twitter or watch YouTube -- even while you're playing a game. It's all customizable and Razer has more partnerships in the works with applications. A new Twitch app lets you watch streams on the little screen and even chat while the Windows 8 Charm app tries to pare down the new OS. Razer even co-developed a DJ app with electronic/dance artist Afrojack.  It starts at $2,299. Razer Blade (14") Here's where things get crazier. The (relatively) cheaper 14" Razer Blade started at $400 less last year. We expect technology to go down in price. I think we still do. I still do, anyway. But an edge-to-edge glass 3200 x 1800 10-point capacitive multi-touch display doesn't come cheap. And it looks incredible, thanks also to a 250 percent improved contrast ratio and 160-degree viewing angle on both axes. In his review, Dale was disappointed with the Blade's lack of vibrancy and color in its display, particularly, "compared with Apple's MacBook Pro Retina." Razer clearly took that criticism to heart, delivering the highest resolution 14" laptop display there is. Somehow Razer managed to squeeze that ludicrous touch display -- does that really make Windows 8 that much more usable? -- into its flagship gaming laptop without sacrificing its claims of being the thinnest and lightest in its field. ".7 inches thin," Razer explains in the same way my mother talks about how many "years young" she is. Sei vecchio, va bene. The new Blade uses Nvidia's GTX 870M, a fourth-generation Intel i7, and a bunch of other computer parts (specs are on site, naturally) to deliver around 65 percent benchmark improvements. Which means when Battlefield 4 crashed, it wasn't the computer's fault, and Sleeping Dogs looked more vivid than ever and all I want to do now is play it more. The average FPS at 3200 x 1800 during its benchmark was over 50. You could probably run that on the battery for longer than my laptop will play a movie with the display turned off (critical warnings before one True Detective episode finished).  It starts at $2,199.
Razer's new laptops photo
Razer? I hardly even know her!
Every time I see a razor blade in person I have to pick it up. Those things are dangerous and shouldn't be left lying about. Kids could put them in their mouth or pigeons could weaponize them. Maybe mobsters will smuggle them...

Oculus VR photo
Oculus VR

Carmack couldn't work on VR at id Software, so he left


Doom 4 with a virtual-reality headset 'would have been a huge win'
Feb 04
// Jordan Devore
As much as I want John Carmack to do good work at Oculus VR, it was sad to see him depart from id Software. In an interview with USA Today, he elaborated on why he chose to leave instead of working at multiple companies simul...
Technology photo
Technology

Neat idea: A headset that can help stop gamer rage


Put this tech into something more viable and I'm in
Jan 20
// Jordan Devore
I don't know anyone who hasn't at one point in the life or another gotten upset at a videogame, whether that be due to bad design, an inability to play well enough, or something else entirely. Sam Matson has a novel solution ...
Fancy new RTS engine photo
Fancy new RTS engine

This engine could mean massive new strategy games


Oxide Games uses AMD's Mantle for its new engine
Jan 14
// Jordan Devore
Leveraging AMD's Mantle technology, Oxide Games has come up with a new game engine intended for real-time strategy titles on PC and consoles called Nitrous that can handle up to 5,000 AI- or physics-driven objects (like laser...
GameFace VR photo
GameFace VR

Oculus Rift has some competition: meet GameFace


Yes, they do say 'Get your GameFace on'
Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
Back in 2012 we first heard about the vision of Oculus Rift: to make virtual reality a relevant conversation again by bringing the technology up to today's standards, with low-latency head tracking for optimal immersion. Sinc...

ViviTouch: The future of feedback

Jan 13 // Dale North
Bayer MaterialScience created a super thin film that either shrinks up or expands depending on the charge sent through it. This Electroactive Polymer is weird-looking when it moves -- kind of like a muscle flexing. It looks entirely organic, like some science fiction stuff. A row of three or more of these segments and a bit of circuitry make up ViviTouch's actuators, replacing bigger motors and and their weights. This little board can fit in just about anything, from phones and tablets to their cases to game controllers and accessories. Simply attach a flat weight on top and you have a very capable alternative to vibration motors. Amazingly, this flat sliver of tech can do so much more than its predecessors. Unlike motors, they don't have to spin up or down to react. I saw naked actuators react to receiving a charge in a few examples -- their reaction time is practically instant. The main benefit of ViviTouch's actuators is that it can create movement so fast and fine that it can convey countless different types of feelings. Instead of the standard vibration motor oscillations, these actuators are able to play out their own kind of feel waveforms. Any vibration tech can do heartbeats or explosions, but ViviTouch has the ability to convey subtle things like a ball rolling against wood, or a car's gears shifting. Other side benefits of the technology have these actuators being completely silent and highly energy efficient.  I felt a full range of these sensations in a series of demos. All of them had me wondering why ViviTouch technology wasn't already in all of our gaming devices already. While the flat actuator on its own was interesting enough,  other smaller ones shown to me during a CES demo last week really had my imagination going. Flat, circular actuators topped thumbsticks on an Xbox 360 controller, while longer ones lined the edges of the trigger buttons. They're able to send different feel waveforms to each of the actuators. Imagine having the rumble of a tank localized to only your fingertips, while the vibration of turrets are felt in your trigger fingers. The feedback is so fine and fast that you can feel that each gun has its own kind of feedback. ViviTouch even has a developer tool that easily lets game makers apply feedback profiles to each of these actuator pads. Looking like a basic musical sequencer, like Apple GarageBand, this tool lets developers simply drag and drop pre-programmed feedback waveforms to one of the four feedback channels of the timeline. In other words, implementing this superior type of feedback would be pretty easy. And the uses go beyond controllers. I played a labyrinth-style ball rolling game on a mobile phone and could feel every roll, bump, and drop of the steel ball. Even touchscreens can benefit. I tried a demo that used smaller actuators that were placed along the edges of a touch panel. The feedback is fast and responsive enough that it could be used to give players a sort of virtual button press feedback. A new set of Mad Catz headphones have ViviTouch actuators built in. I felt tank treads rolling uphill, and gunfire vibrations had convincing pressure coming through the earpads onto the side of my head. There are even applications for audio outside of gaming. I tried on a set of modified Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones that had bass frequencies being conveyed through feedback. The sensation was like having a subwoofer added to the standard drivers -- very impressive stuff. As strange as it sounds, artificial muscle could change the way we play games.  Let's hope that ViviTouch technology is on its way to replacing motor-based feedback.
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Artificial muscle brings a new kind of rumble
You know how controller rumble works right now, don't you? In most controllers you'll find a couple of motors that spin weights. These spin up when you're supposed to feel the rumble effect, and then begin spinning down when ...

Oculus Rift makes a huge leap with Crystal Cove prototype

Jan 10 // Dale North
A new demo uses Epic's Unreal Engine to show a tower defense game that you can look over and down into. And when I say down into, I mean that you can physically look down and lean forward as you watch the action a game board where your button presses trigger shots to hold back the attackers on your tower. And where you could always turn your head freely look around the environment with previous Oculus prototypes, this new one lets you move your whole body freely to change your view. I was able to lean at the waist sideways to sort of look around the side of the game table.  Being able to make such a natural movement to change my virtual view really had an impact. Imagine being able to lean to avoid fire or dodge a punch in a virtual world. Being able to use your body to react to something your eyes are seeing is a level of immersion that we're just not used to yet. I hope they play with more along these lines in future demos, as it really impresses. This new trick uses a camera that reads markers on Crystal Cove's front plate to track the wearer's movements. Oculus boss Brendan Iribe told us that this addition adds three more dimensions of movement to the already existing motion sensing capabilities. The combined effect of the old and new tracking abilities makes Crystal Cove so much more impactful than any demo we've experienced before. Another demo took CCP's incredible space cockpit fighter Eve Valkyrie and made it even more entertaining than the last time we saw it. In a game where barrel rolls in deep space are the norm, motion blurring and delayed action are the last thing you'd want to see. The low persistence upgrade of Crystal Cove let me move my head and body freely in the virtual cockpit to target enemy ships without seeing blurry smearing of the visuals. Floating text in the cockpit dash was crystal clear, even when moving my head back and forth. This alone made for a massive improvement over the already outstanding version of Eve Valkyrie we saw at gamescom last year. But the new positional tracking made it even better. Instead of having to turn my head in unnatural positions, I was now able to move my body more naturally to look around the cockpit during dogfights. I immediately felt immersed and connected, and this allowed me to complete the dogfight mission with a total victory. Comparing with past demos, it looks like the improvements to Oculus Rift's tech have made an already great experience even more enjoyable and effective. Valkyrie was already one of the coolest things I experienced in 2013, but with Crystal Cove's new tech, it looks cleaner, moves better, is much more responsive, and is way less disorienting.  Again, I'm happy to have the privilege of watching Oculus Rift continually improve as time goes by. Looking back, it has changed so much even since last CES, and these new changes are a huge leap forward. At the rate they're going, I think we're in for a treat. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Oculus Rift photo
Hands-on with new prototype impresses
We've been following Oculus Rift since its very beginnings. We were honored to be one of the first to play with one of the earliest prototypes, demonstrated by none other than John Carmack himself. Last year's CES was Oc...

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You're going to want Nvidia's G-SYNC


When it's cheaper, and if you use Nvidia GPUs
Jan 09
// Dale North
We've known about Nvidia’s G-Sync tech for a bit, but seeing how it performs first hand at CES today has moved the purchase of new compatible hardware up my priority list by quite a bit. Nvidia had several of the newly ...
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Steam Machine: 12 partners are making machines so far


Alienware listed among them
Jan 06
// Dale North
CES 2014 is the big coming out party for Valve's Steam Machines. I'm seeing one bright and early tomorrow morning here in Las Vegas, coming from Digital Storm. Later tomorrow evening I'll be attending Valve's press conference...
The Snowdrop Engine photo
The Snowdrop Engine

Ubisoft thinks The Division's Snowdrop Engine is amazing


Ubisoft is all next-gen and stuff
Dec 09
// Joshua Derocher
Ubisoft released a video showing off the Snowdrop Engine from The Division, and it seems like they thinks it's really cool. In fact, they say that "never before has a video game reached this level of detail." I think th...
DICE tech photo
DICE tech

DICE CEO ponders using cloud power to create clouds


Prepare 4 weather
Dec 03
// Steven Hansen
In a recent Guardian interview, EA DICE head Patrick Söderlund talked about some of the new avenues cloud computing is opening for developers and posed the question, "what if we had servers where it pulls in just things ...
inFamous: Second Son photo
inFamous: Second Son

Check out the new inFamous screens with neon powers!


Next-gen beanie graphics!
Nov 25
// Alessandro Fillari
We're seeing a ton of inFamous: Second Son media lately. After the release of the recent trailer, the floodgates have opened, so to speak. And now, the Facebook page for the game has released a set pictures showing off the ne...
6 Million Dollar Ram photo
6 Million Dollar Ram

Crucial announces that DDR4 RAM is coming out soon


We have the technology
Nov 18
// Joshua Derocher
Crucial are rolling out the next-generation of memory, and it might be available as early as the end of 2013. Crucial has a promo up on their site for the new DDR4 memory, and there are lots of fancy graphics showing you just...

Xbox One and television: working together

Nov 08 // Dale North
TV is waiting for you to watch it: That HDMI passthru port has a television signal continually streaming into the Xbox One, waiting for you to watch it. Simply call out that you'd like to watch television and the Kinect will understand you, instantly pulling up the feed from your cable box. The Xbox One UI runs in the background quietly while you're watching the boob tube, meaning that users remain fully connected to their friends and the rest of the world.  This means that everything that Xbox Live is connected to is available, even while watching your favorite game shows or crappy nighttime dramas. Game invites, Skype invitations, and more are visible during television watching. If you're popular, expect to get more pop-ups than a shady porn site! Your wish is Kinect's command: You won’t need a remote control to control your television with Xbox One. Voice commands let you do everything from turning up the volume to changing channels. You can simply call out the name of the network or program you’d like to watch if you’d like.  This works because the Kinect sensor doubles as a massive IR device that blasts out infrared codes to every corner of the room. The signals bounce off walls and return to the devices in the room, even if they’re in shelves or behind glass. This lets users completely do away with remote controls.  Upon initial setup, Xbox One’s system looks up your components in an online database and plugs in their respective command data. The Xbox One does all the heavy lifting, taking your voice command and translating it to IR that your devices can understand.  Channel and content surfing becomes even easier with the One Guide app. It looks like your standard DVR/cable box channel guide at first glance, but all of its functions can be navigated via voice. Numbers, channel names, program names and more work as valid commands. Users can ask Kinect “What’s on Discovery?” to see its listings, and then say “Watch this channel” to tune to it, for example.  Beyond television listings, One Guide also lists programming from other apps and services, letting you navigate streaming content alongside television listings. For example, Hulu Plus has app channels for popular shows and movies. Even non-video applications can be saved as an app channel. We saw an example where a photo gallery in Microsoft’s Sky Drive was saved as a channel. Selecting it in One Guide lets it act like a channel of programming, showing a slide show of the photos.  The experience can't be 100 percent hands free, though. Basic commands, like transport control, channel changing,  and the like, will all be available via voice controls. You will  have to dig the remotes out for deeper control of your DVR and cable box, though.  Aw Snap: Of course, you can choose to filter these notifications or shut them off completely. But fellow internet addicts will enjoy Xbox One's snap feature, which lets you pin just about any app to the right side of the screen. Xbox One's notification feed app will keep you connected while you watch your crap syndicated reruns. I'm going to use Twitter while I watch reality cooking shows. You can search for hot pictures of Kari Byron in a snapped Internet Explorer app while watching MythBusters if you'd like. Snapping will be a game changer for television watchers with an internet problem.  Sports fans are going to freak out: I'm not a sports fan. At all. But even I was extremely impressed with Xbox One's NFL app. Through Microsoft's partnership with the NFL, exclusive content is available for users through this app. Highlights are constantly being pushed to the servers from the NFL, and are instantly available in the app on Xbox One.  Sports nuts will enjoy snapping the NFL app while watching television, letting them watch one game while keeping track of others. The app keeps track of your favorites as well as highlights from around the league. Users could watch games live while tracking how plays impact their fantasy league in real time in the NFL app. ...if you like TV, that is: I'm not much of a television watcher, so I don't expect to use a lot of this. But the level of integration is impressive enough that I expect that Xbox One will change the way a lot of people watch television. If Microsoft is still out to own the living room, the TV integration for Xbox One is a big step toward that.  
Xbox One and TV photo
Watch TV in a new way
You probably won't buy an Xbox One to watch television, but television watching seems to be pretty neat with all the integration and applications Microsoft have worked into their new console.  They want you to always hav...

Xbox One's Kinect: impressive control, instant access

Nov 08 // Dale North
Easiest sign in ever: Much has been said about the all-seeing Kinect sensor camera. I saw the benefits of its always-on status immediately in the demonstration as Microsoft's Jeff Henshaw was able to log into the Xbox One by just... well, being there. He pulled a cloth cover off of the Kinect sensor and the Xbox One immediately saw him and logged him in, changing the screen to reflect his settings, and populating the menu with his apps and data. He didn't have to say or do anything for this to happen.  Everything you would need, from his most recently used apps to his friends list, were automatically listed up on his home screen. Henshaw's most recently played game, Forza Motorsport 5, was placed front and center for ease of access. In the pin area, all of his favorite apps, sites, and music were placed.  A technology called beam forming lets Kinect triangulate the source of spoken commands. Whitten says that the beam narrows down to read a width of about five inches -- about the width of a mouth -- and this lets Kinect associate a command with a face and skeleton so that it 'knows' which person in the room spoke the command. To demonstrate, Microsoft's Jose Pinero entered the mock living room. By simply saying "Xbox, show my stuff," the system switched the home screen from Marc's to Jose's, populating it with his favorites, pins, and more.  Users can go to any Xbox One in the world and sign in to have their preferences come up this same way. Getting into/out of the game: Microsoft wants users to be able to get into their games as fast as possible. A demonstration had us jumping back into a stopped game of Forza Motorsport 5 from the home screen by simply calling out to the Xbox One. It loaded instantly, right where the user left off on last play. This is even more impressive when you consider that the user was logged out previously.  Of course, not every game would load this quickly. They have it so that the last game you played sits in this hot state, ready to be loaded back up instantly.  Getting out of a game is just as easy. While Forza 5 was open, we called out to the Xbox to switch to Internet Explorer, and in an instant the browser was loaded. We flipped through other apps to further test the systems reaction speed. Every other app -- from television watching to Skype to the music player -- loaded instantly upon voice request. No lag, no load times.  This works because the Xbox One was designed to run apps and games in separate spaces, with each having its own CPU cores and memory space. Your last game will always load quickly for this reason. As for apps, the last few you've used will continue to be at the ready.  Putting the Game DVR features to the test: I played a bit of Forza 5, doing my best to keep clean lines to impress those watching. Getting to a point that I felt a bit proud of, I was able to call out "Xbox, record that" to have the system record what I was doing. From here, the system gave me the option to share this clip or edit it.  We took the clip into the Upload Studio app. From there, trimming of the file, from 30 seconds to the last full five minutes, was possible. We pulled up a picture-in-picture effect preset and then filled the second box with taunting, using the Kinect camera. Other options let you add voice overs for walkthroughs, or add skins to your finished video.  We saved the video, and it encoded very quickly. Being on a broadband connection, it also uploaded to the Xbox servers very quickly.  The whole process -- capturing, editing, and uploading -- is very quick and simple. Snap: I think that the ability to "snap" apps to the right side of the screen while watching television or playing games will be popular with Xbox One owners. You're free to tell the system to snap just about any application to the side by simply telling it to do so vocally. You could snap an internet browser window to view a FAQ while playing an RPG, or the music player while playing a racing game. I like the idea of having Twitter snapped to the side while watching television so I can keep an eye on things.  It really works: No one likes the idea of having to continually yell at your game system to get it to do things, hoping it will understand your commands. So many have expressed similar concerns since the Xbox One's announcement.   I'm glad to report that the Kinect sensor and all the tech powering it makes controlling the Xbox One seem really simple. This was an in-house demo that Microsoft conducted, but I did get to try it out for myself, so it wasn't like it was scripted or controlled.  Everything we tried seemed to work beautifully. Let's hope things work as well when we get our Xbox One systems home later this month. 
Xbox One Kinect photo
Hands... er, voice-on with Xbox One
I had a chance to see exactly how Xbox One's interface works with the Kinect sensor in a demonstration last week. After seeing several examples and even trying it out for myself, I came away impressed at how well the voice co...

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Well, tech heads will enjoy it
Sony and Wired invite you for a peek inside the angular next-gen game system known as the PS4. All its innards, including the CPU, GPUs, optical drive, memory, cooling systems and more, are on display in this video. Sony's Y...

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Project Flare, Square Enix's cloud-based tech


They're partnering with Ubisoft to kick it off
Nov 05
// Dale North
Square Enix's move into cloud gaming is called Project Flare. It's not cloud games, though -- it's more about the technology running the games. They announced that they're working with companies such as Ubisoft to explore the...
Sony CEO CES keynote photo
Sony CEO CES keynote

Sony CEO Kaz Hirai delivering CES opening keynote


Ridge Racer!
Oct 24
// Steven Hansen
CES isn't until after Christmas. January, in fact. But we seem to be in the habit of preparing for holidays months in advance, so put away your Christmas lights and pull out your CES 4K LEDs because it's late October and Chri...
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Microsoft testing their own version of Google Glass


Glassholes rejoice
Oct 23
// Dale North
Do you know what a glasshole is? That's a street term for a person that uses Google Glass. I like the term, but I'm not hating on Glass users. Have you tried Google Glass. I have, and I think it's really neat. It seems that M...
Kinect photo
Kinect

Mondelez wants to use Kinects to watch you buy snacks


Put down those Oreos!
Oct 18
// Jordan Devore
Mondelez International (Oreo, Wheat Thins, Nabisco) is exploring a pilot program that will have Kinects monitoring shoppers as they look around the snack aisle, ABC News reports. "The technology looks at facial features to de...
Nvidia photo
Nvidia

Nvidia hopes to stop screen tearing with G-Sync


Hardware solution to address stuttering
Oct 18
// Jordan Devore
Nvidia has announced G-Sync, a technology said to eliminate screen tearing, input lag, and stutter. This is a module that's built into monitors, synchronizing them with the GPU's output. Sounds fantastic on paper -- and Epic'...
Xbox One GPU unlock photo
Xbox One GPU unlock

Microsoft will unlock Xbox One GPU reserves for devs


Xbox One key will...unlock its true potential
Oct 03
// Steven Hansen
A whopping 10 percent of the Xbox One's GPU is reserved for the Kinect and app running (in the concurrent-running Snap Mode). "The current reservation provides strong isolation between the title and the system and simplifie...

Exploring the depths of the ocean in Assassin's Creed IV

Aug 09 // Dale North
The naval battles return in a big way, but to really explore the ocean means jumping in. For the first time in Assassin's Creed IV you can access the ocean from anywhere in the game's world; you're immediately in, with no loading or transitions.  But, before jumping in, stop and enjoy the beauty of the ocean. No -- really look at it. Ubisoft Singapore put a lot of work into making the ocean as realistic as possible. They traveled to the Caribbean for research in order to nail the look, and put their research into even the smallest details, like new tech for the look of the sand and sunlight. They even have simulations for sea foam, with controls that can vary how it'll look when it washes up on sand or pools around rocks. They're not messing around when it comes to realism The water's surface in ACIV on next-gen consoles is stunning. It shimmers in the sunlight in a way that makes you want to take a snapshot. All of their technical work combines to make for some postcard worthy imagery.   ACIV's engine is doing crazy work under the hood to make the waves look realistic, and that kicks into overdrive when simulating what happens when objects like ships move through it. We saw examples of how the engine scales from calm waters to massive storms realistically -- impressive stuff. Ubisoft Singapore says that you can expect the water to look very good on current-gen consoles, but some water appearance features are only available on next-gen systems. Ubisoft Singapore Senior Technical Director, Georges Torres, told us that they saw next-gen as an opportunity to do what they wanted with water in ACIII but didn't have the resources for. If you're looking for technical specifics of what you'd see in the next-gen over current generation versions, Torres says adaptive tessellation tech is the major thing. Expect more detailed waves -- a third frequency of wave is possible with next-gen consoles, over the two of ACIII. Also, the way the water interacts with objects in it will look better. For example, objects that fall into water will appropriately displace water. On the rendering side, there's much more detail to see with the new consoles' versions.  Underwater is equally as lovely. Ubisoft Singapore has done a fine job in creating an underwater world you'll want to explore. Swim to whatever catches your fancy, enjoying the sea life that glitters among the almost glowing coral reef. You might see a treasure chest in the distance, but keep in mind your oxygen limitation. Oh, and sharks. While you can harpoon sharks from a boat, you're totally helpless underwater.  The running and climbing gameplay we've come to expect from the franchise can't take place underwater, Ubisoft Singapore has worked in some similar elements for underwater navigation. Players can swim wherever they'd like, and once they get going they can pull on fixed objects to propel them forward as sort of a speed boost. It's not just flat swimming -- there's pushing and pulling on objects, escaping sea creatures, getting caught in water currents and more.  There's some motivation for diving beyond just sightseeing. Of course, just as in pirate days, there's treasure and money to be found. Also, blueprints can be retrieved from underwater to improve your ship. There was no capability for this underwater exploration in the existing game engine, so Ubisoft Singapore was tasked with creating it. Torres told us that it was from scratch. He said that they altered the perspective over the last game so that the player could see water, jump in it, explore it, and swim out of it back onto land seamlessly.  Torres said that unifying these aspects of play wasn't easy. Moving from the ocean inland, a lot of loading needs to happen in the background for a seamless setting transition to happen for the player, and that's not to mention the animation sets that have to change the character itself. He said it looks natural, and seems simple, but in reality some very complex stuff goes on under the hood to make it all work. From what we saw of live gameplay at the studio, seeing it in action looks perfect, so here's a tip of our pirate hat to the team.  But it's not just graphics and animation at work here. Torres told us that they've developed a full series of technologies to make the underwater experience as immersive and realistic as possible. The Singapore team built tech for the visuals, coloring, particle effects, ecosystem, animations, underwater audio, underwater behaviors, swimming simulations and much more. Even the way the light filters through water to create a sense of depth was a focus for them.  The takeaway here is that Ubisoft Singapore put a lot of hard work to draw players into the deep. Full teams were tasked with making the underwater experience as realistic and immersive as possible. Maybe Assassin's Creed IV open-world underwater exploration will make up for all of the crappy underwater levels we've had to put up with over the years. 
ACIV Underwater photo
Getting technical with underwater gameplay
Water is usually a background element in action/adventure games. Or at best, water gets a temporary spotlight in levels that let you take a break from standard play -- a quick splash and then back to land.  It's rarely e...

New Xbox One details revealed with unboxing

Aug 08 // Dale North
The controller has a new (and waaaay better) d-pad, new thumb sticks, and triggers that are loaded with haptic feedback. The batter compartment is seamless, and when you open it you can pop in AA or rechargeable batteries. A micro USB cable will be used for charging and wired gameplay, but note that you can't charge generic rechargeable AA batteries with it. When you plug in the USB cable, the internal radio shuts off. You can even play without batteries in this mode. There is a new chat headset that has an upgraded speaker and mic, and it has been designed to take advantage of the systems new sampling rate, which is three times that of the Xbox 360. The headset is light, has a padded earpiece, and a bendable, rotating boom. Oh, and muting and volume control takes place on the controller and not the headset -- nice. And while HDMI cables aren't as exciting as the rest of this stuff, know that one comes in the box. It is 4K rated, so that means it'll also handle 1080P and 3D with no problems. What do you think about all of these technical details? Or the unboxing. Are you putting a preorder in now?
Unboxing Xbox One photo
Xbox One facts and component details
Microsoft has just released some interesting facts and new details for their upcoming console, the Xbox One. A Day One edition of the console has been unboxed and explored -- one of less than 20 that exist on our planet. Alo...

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Turtle Beach acquires Parametric Sound Corporation


Sound tech to benefit gaming products
Aug 06
// Dale North
Turtle Beach, makers of fine gaming headsets, has just announced plans to acquire Parametric Sound Corporation in a reverse merger. The transaction is scheduled to close before the end of the year. This small San Diego-bawed ...
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Nvidia's Project Logan GPU brings PC graphics to mobile


Huge upgrade in mobile graphics processing
Jul 24
// Dale North
At SIGGRAPH this week, NVIDIA and Epic Games teamed up to unveil their next-gen mobile processor, Project Logan. This GPU is based on the Kepler architecture that powers what NVIDIA has been putting in desktops and notebooks...
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New invention will let you feel virtual objects


By getting blown
Jul 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Virtual reality is cool and all, but you can't actually physically feel what's happening in these experiences. It's all happening in your head, but Disney is looking to change that with Aireal, a new invention that blows puf...
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Apple reportedly looking to buy the company behind Kinect


Siri and Kinect K.I.S.S.I.N.G?
Jul 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
A report from Calcalist claims that Apple is looking to acquire PrimeSense, the 3D sensor company behind the original Kinect. Apple has offered $280 million to purchase the Israeli-based company after talks of including the 3...
Mark Cerny photo
Mark Cerny

Tech talk: Lead architect describes road to PlayStation 4


A fascinating lecture from Mark Cerny
Jun 28
// Jordan Devore
In this Gamelab 2013 lecture, PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny discusses the hurdles of developing for the notoriously-challenging PlayStation 3 and how that led to a more standardized approach (and lack of Cell proce...
Razer Surround photo
Razer Surround

Razer Surround: Virtual surround to stereo sets, for free


Get the best performance out of your audio equipment and help a good cause
Jun 28
// Steven Hansen
Did you know that Razer has more software engineers than hardware engineers? While the company is known for its high-end (read: pricey) peripherals and daftly sleek gaming laptop, it does equally wild work on the software sid...

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