Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sequelitis - Mega Man X

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

MechWarrior Online will be free to play, PC exclusive

MechWarrior Online will be free to play, PC exclusive:

There's a new MechWarrior game in the works, and it'll be exclusive to the PC. Dubbed MechWarrior Online, the new title will focus on multiplayer combat and be free to play. In-game items will be available for purchase with real money, of course, but Creative Director Bryan Ekman promises that players won't be able to buy items that give them a tactical advantage. Those goodies will have to be earned by actually playing, he says.



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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Broken Toys: A Decade Of Camelot

Gas Bandit's note: To this day I still remember DAOC's launch as the smoothest MMO launch I have ever experienced (and I've experienced a few of them - EverQuest, AC, DAOC, WoW, Warhammer Online, to name a few). Though it's controls and graphics are dated today, if they could slap Warhammer Online's gui, graphics engine and class balance on DAOC's gear, crafting and RvR paradigm, in my opinion you'd have the perfect PvP MMO. The three years I was subscribed to DAOC were some of the wildest of my online life. To find out opening day was in a basement on a shoestring is awesome... and further infuriates me what supposedly "big time" companies get away with today in the way of service level.

More after the jump...


A Decade Of Camelot:

Ten years ago, I began my career in the gaming industry by signing on to help with the imminent launch of Dark Age of Camelot. That game and its team still holds a special place in my heart, though most of the founders from that day have went their seperate ways. Matt Firor, the original producer, asked me to post his recollections of that launch.

(Note that he does make me look like a bit of a doof at one point. I have three things to say in response: 1 – I’m still pretty happy with how we managed to get a working CS front-end and back-end system up and running in about six weeks, 2 – it wasn’t *quite* as doof-tastic as Firor makes out, as I explain in annotations to his tale, 3 – I am in fact a bit of a doof.)

And with that, I give you Matt Firor.

We went into October 9 relatively calm and serene. Vivendi, our distribution partner, had forecast 100,000 sales of the game lifetime, with about 50,000 coming in the first couple of days after launch, and as such, they only “sold in” a very limited number of boxes into the retail channel. We were very comfortable that we could handle those numbers, as we had just had a very successful beta program.

Then, just before launch day, Vivendi got in touch with us and said because customer/retail demand was so high, they were going to release all 100,000 boxes into retail. Fortunately, with delivery times, these extra copies would be delivered to stores a couple of days after the initial 50,000 boxes. This was very helpful to us, as all the boxes were not available on the same day which spread out the “opening day” crush of users over five days. Camelot would go on to sell more than a million boxes in the next couple of years.

Camelot’s official launch day (as in boxes were in the stores) would be October 9 2001, but everyone that had a free account (lots of media, some friends/family, and of course all of us) were able to play starting October 8, as soon as we put our first seven servers online starting around 5:00pm that day.

At the time, Mythic’s offices were located in a townhouse office community near the middle of Fairfax, VA. We were about 30 developers in October 2001, and about 40 customer support. We didn’t have enough space for CS in our original office, so we had to lease space in another building in the same complex, about 50 yards from the developer wing of the company, in a basement space.

Everything was done on a shoestring at that time, so to get internet access over to the CS “center” 50 yards away, Rob Denton, the Development Head of Mythic at the time, and an electrical engineer by training, set up a pair of IR “guns” to make a link between the two spaces. We put one “gun” in a window in the development office, and another in a basement window, pointing up, in the CS center. The link worked very well, and allowed us to share our one Internet line with both spaces. However, because the CS Center was below grade, we had one problem: if a vehicle over a certain height (about 5 feet) parked in a particular parking spot, the link would be broken. We lived in fear those couple of weeks that a delivery truck would park in that spot and cut off Internet access to the CS center. We arranged a quasi-official parking schedule to ensure that an employee car (a short one) be parked in that spot 24/7. The link, fortunately, was never broken.

It's on.

All day on the 9th, we watched as the server numbers grew and grew. I ran the login utility on my laptop all day, just so I could see the population numbers of each server, real time. The population numbers started small around 10:00am on the 9th, and grew slowly but steadily until around 5:00pm, when they exploded. All servers in the space of about an hour after 5:00pm were jammed full – and we had a very large server population setting (about 3,000 players). Even with full servers, everything ran smoothly.

By about 8:00 we were jubilant. Everything was smooth and easy. CS was functioning, and had already responded to many trouble tickets and issues. People were playing, the servers were up.

A group of us formed in Rob’s office, talking and generally basking in the glory of the moment. Each of those 30,000 (max peak players that night) was a paying customer, and each represented significant revenue to us (remember we were very small at the time). It appeared that we finally were going to make money on one of our products. We were giddy with excitement – everything was going awesomely.

Brian Axelson, the 21 year old whiz-kid programmer/designer who had been working for us since he was 16 – responsible for inventing, implementing, and designing Camelot’s combat system, including Combat Styles – was so happy he slammed his fist down on Rob’s desk and said, “Ain’t nothing going to bring this house down!”.

At that moment, all the servers crashed, simultaneously.

We all looked at one another in dread, and sprinted back to our offices, each checking on the part of the game we were responsible for. Everything checked out – nothing seemed wrong. But the servers were down and wouldn’t reboot.

All the programmers were summoned to Rob’s office – I was a fly on the wall – and he walked them through the problem. It wasn’t a code problem, although that wasn’t immediately obvious. It was something keeping the servers from booting and authenticating properly.

After about an hour, the problem was traced to the Customer Support tool – that very day programmer Scott Jennings had made a small modification to the CS tool to take advantage of a database feature buried in MySQL to make database queries work faster. That change did in fact significantly increase the speed at which the tool made queries to the database – but at full load, the index that he built quickly became overloaded, and started to time out and lock out other queries. (Editor’s note: This change was actually fully tested… with one low-population test server running. Guess what changed on launch day!) Because the game servers relied on access to the database as well (for player authentication, etc.), they couldn’t keep up with the crush of players logging on and off – and they crashed like the proverbial house of cards. And, because the database was locked up, when they rebooted, they immediately ran into the same problem and crashed again.

The helpful message I added to greet CS reps on launch day.

Once the problem was found, it was very easy to fix, for the moment. The CS tool was modified to not make any of those specific types of queries, the database server was rebooted, the index rebuilt, and everything came up again – this time smoothly and without error – and ran flawlessly until the next afternoon, when we had our first bug-fix patch. Scott had fixed the DB/authentication problem in the meantime (Editor’s note: and said programmer slept three days later), and that functioned properly as well.

In the end, a very smooth launch, but a lesson was definitely learned that when you’re dealing with something as complex as a MMOG launch, you never know what is going to take you down.

There are many more stories to tell about the early days of the service – like how we had to expand servers quickly because of demand, but couldn’t get them delivered from Dell because we had no credit rating. All our purchases up until that point had been made on the spot with no leasing. We had no leasing history, so Dell wouldn’t ship us servers quickly. We were forced to drive to MicroCenter (in Fairfax) and buy a dozen or so desktops, quickly installed Linux, and then drove them (in a pickup truck) to our colocation facility, and stacked them up like firewood in a cage. Those two servers clusters (lovingly called the “gimp servers”) ran for at least a year with no problems, at which point they were swapped out with standard Dell rack-mounted models.

I remember walking into the office one morning towards the end of October. By that time it was obvious we had a smash hit on our hands. Our marketing/sales consultant, Eugene Evans (now the GM of the studio) had a whiteboard near his desk (right by the front door) where he jotted down sales numbers. By October 27 or so, it showed that we were not only the #1 selling PC game for October, but also the #1 selling PC product for that month. Since this was the first boxed retail product Mythic had, I asked him if this success was normal. Eugene, and old industry veteran, looked at me like I was insane and replied, “No, this isn’t typical.” He then broke out in laughter. It seemed so easy at the time: you make a game, put it in a box, and it sells like hotcakes.

Most everyone knows the rest of the story from here – Mythic quickly outgrew its space and in 2002 relocated a few miles away to new mid-rise building, where it grew to take over three floors. A buyout by EA followed in 2006, and the studio is now known as Bioware Mythic. Dark Age of Camelot’s numbers have dwindled down to a fraction of what they were in those heady days of 2001-2003, but it is still up and running, ten years later.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Guy chokes a kid after being made fun of in Black Ops, we're ... upset

Guy chokes a kid after being made fun of in Black Ops, we're ... upset:

We read in horror today the story of Mark Bradford, a 46-year-old, jobless father of three from Plymouth, Devon (UK). After being killed and then taunted by a 13-year-old opponent in Call of Duty: Black Ops, Bradford tracked down his teenage opponent (in real life) and proceeded to mercilessly choke him. The attack was luckily thwarted by the teen's mother and Bradford later admitted to one count of assault.

It's a grim story, and simply inexcusable. A grown man attacking a child like this turns our stomachs and should turn the stomach of any responsible, caring human. This is the end of our post on the matter, and it in no way continues after the break.

Continue reading Guy chokes a kid after being made fun of in Black Ops, we're ... upset

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Zero Punctuation: Resistance (cough HALF LIFE cough) 3

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Windows 8 and the marginalization of geeks

Windows 8 and the marginalization of geeks:

On Tuesday, Microsoft made the Windows 8 Developer Preview available publicly without demanding so much as a Windows Live login name and password in return. I know, I was surprised too. After a bit of poking around, I managed to get the DP up and running in a trial installation of VMware Workstation 8.0, and I've spent a good few hours tinkering with it.

Now, I think we can safely assume that the full release of Windows 8 is still a year or so away. That means what we're looking at here is very much a work in progress, and criticizing Windows ...


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Friday, September 02, 2011

Counterfeit Chinese USB Hard Drive

Counterfeit Chinese USB Hard Drive:


The picture above looks like a Samsung USB Hard Drive case right? Looks can be deceiving, the case actually contains come large nuts to make it feel like there is actually something inside and a USB thumb drive to provide some convincing operation. The USB drive has been made to simulate the large hard drive by showing up with a 500GB capacity even though the capacity of the drive is only 128MB. I am thinking some smart people in China made a custom controller for the drive to allow it to work in a loop mode which allows all of the most recent copied data to remain and the oldest data be overwritten. The TOC also works in an interesting way since even though an old file has been overwritten it would remain in the TOC to make it seem that the drive is functioning as it should.

Read more at Jitbit Blog.


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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Notch narrates minecraft 1.8 preview

New graphic settings, better lighting, npc villages, hunger bar, exp, sprinting, critical hits, and ENDERMEN.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Windows 8 offers native ISO mounting support

Windows 8 offers native ISO mounting support:

Microsoft has a new post up on its Building Windows 8 blog. This time, the company is detailing the operating system's native support for ISO files. Double-clicking on an ISO will automatically mount it using a virtual optical drive. To kill the virtual drive, simply eject the virtual disc.

In addition to mounting ISO files, Windows 8 will perform a similar trick with the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) files used by virtual machines. The approach here is almost identical: double-click ...


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Friday, August 26, 2011

Razer intros ultra-slim gaming notebook

Razer intros ultra-slim gaming notebook:

Peripheral maker Razer has long catered to gamers, and its latest creation stays true to those roots while entering an entirely new market: notebooks. The company has unveiled the Blade, a gaming laptop that features a Sandy Bridge CPU, discrete GeForce graphics, and a slender aluminum chassis just 0.88" thick. The Blade looks pretty badass, too.



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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

EA's Origin Service Is Basically Spyware, According to Origin's EULA

EA's Origin Service Is Basically Spyware, According to Origin's EULA:

Because today's trifecta of corporate malfeasance and/or generally shitty behavior wouldn't be complete without mentioning something awful EA is doing, let's talk about Origin again. Specifically, how it apparently includes spyware.

You guys? We REALLY need to start reading these EULAs ahead of time.
You guys? We REALLY need to start reading these EULAs ahead of time.

Once again reminding us all that we really ought to be reading these terms of service that we so often blindly agree to, intrepid users of Origin have discovered within EA's End User License Agreement for the service that, by installing the software on the system and using it, you are giving EA full license to track a number of different things on your computer, including, but not limited to personal information, computer information, application usage, software, software usage, and peripheral hardware usage. The reason for all of this is for the usual "marketing purposes" and "to improve our products and services" nonsense, but the EULA also states that EA will happily sell your information to any third parties it sees fit.

It's fair to point out that Valve's Steam service also does some of the things listed here when you use it. However, the trick is that Steam allows users to opt out of any and all such practices. Origin has no such opt-out feature, and in fact states that you cannot use the service at all unless you agree to their terms.

That does present quite the quandary for the information protective gamers out there who might want to play a game like, say, Battlefield 3 on their PC. Battlefield 3, alongside other EA PC titles, will require an install of Origin to operate, even if you buy a physical copy of the game.

In the end, this is actually a fairly fixable problem for EA. The publisher would simply need to patch in an opt-out option for any and all info scraping that Origin might be involved in. If it doesn't? Here's a deeply enraged Reddit thread that you might want to partake of.

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GameStop Discarding Deus Ex: Human Revolution OnLive Coupons

GameStop Discarding Deus Ex: Human Revolution OnLive Coupons: There's an image of an email on Ars Technica allegedly from a Field Operations Manager with GameStop that instructs employees to "remove and discard" the coupon for a free OnLive version of Deus Ex:...

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guild Wars 2 trailer loaded with in-game footage

Guild Wars 2 trailer loaded with in-game footage: "

Although I've never really been into MMOs, I've always liked the fact that Guild Wars didn't require a monthly subscription. Shell out for the game once, and you can play it as much as you'd like. Guild Wars 2 will take the same approach, and a new trailer showcases some of what we can expect from the game.




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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gearbox teases Borderlands 2

Gearbox teases Borderlands 2: "

Yeah, it isn't much, but the Borderlands fan in me is vibrating with anticipation after watching this quick teaser trailer for Borderlands 2.




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The Engine Was Just Sitting There!

From -

The Engine Was Just Sitting There!: "

Bioware Mythic announces Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, which was originally titled Warhammer Online: Battlegrounds And That’s It Because You Gits Have The Attention Span Of A Tsetse Fly And We Added A Third Side Because DAOC Battlegrounds Were Pretty Fun That Way And This Title Is Really Long We Should Change It.

So if you played Warhammer Online and thought “you know, I really liked the battlegrounds, but not enough to pay a monthly sub, but maybe enough to pay extra for a +4 Sword Of Swordening”, this is your thing.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New M-Disc Technology Promises Permanent Data Retention

New M-Disc Technology Promises Permanent Data Retention: "

More and more folks are turning to cloud services like Dropbox to store their oh-so-precious private data, but when it comes to truly valuable info, it's still a good idea to keep a physical backup disc around in case those virtual services crap out on you. Then again, CDs and DVDs scratch waaaaay too easily and have limited shelf lives. If you've ever been screwed by a big gouge across an important backup disc, you might want to check out the new optical media that's hitting the market soon. Supposedly, it lasts forever, and the Department of Defense vouches for its resiliency.

They're called M-Discs and they're being brought to market a start-up company called Millenniata, Computerworld reports. M-Discs ditch the traditional reflective layer found in standard physical media discs and instead etch the information directly into the body of the multi-layered disc itself, which is made of an undisclosed stone-like substance. Millenniata says that any device that can read a DVD can read an M-Disc – the only special equipment necessary in the whole process is an M-Disc burner.

That's cool in and of itself, but Millenniata also claims that M-Discs are darned near impervious to damage. They told Computerworld you can toss an M-Disc in liquid nitrogen, then dump boiling water all over it, and nary a byte of data will be damaged. A DoD study found no data loss after subjecting the M-Disc to grueling conditions -- a claim no other disc can make.

Although LG's supplying the initial round of M-Disc burners, Millenniata's CEO says that any DVD hardware manufacturer can make the jump to M-Disc by installing a firmware upgrade on their machines. The M-Disc's staying power comes at the cost of burn speed, however; you can only write to them at a 4x rate. At that speed, it's almost a good thing that M-Discs will only be able to match standard DVD capacities of 4.7GB when they hit the shelves in October for $3 a pop. Millenniata puts their money where their mouth is by offering a lifetime warranty for the discs.

Image credit:


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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Trackmania 2 gameplay, editor footage leaked

Trackmania 2 gameplay, editor footage leaked: "

PC gamers might not be able to get a taste of iconic driving games like Forza Motorsports and Gran Turismo, but we do have the Trackmania series. The latest iteration, Trackmania 2 Canyon is due out next month. We've already seen a trailer for the game, and now there's a couple of minutes of gameplay footage up on YouTube. Check it out:




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Monday, August 08, 2011

German geniuses hit 800Mbps with light bulb WLAN

German geniuses hit 800Mbps with light bulb WLAN: "

Light bulb WLAN

Last year, Chinese scientists showed off some new old-school tech, transmitting data with blue LEDs that flicker faster than the human eye can perceive. This throwback to the good ol' days of IR receivers was able to hit speeds of 2Mbps, but leave it to the fine folks at the Heinrich Hertz Institute to push the light bulb networking tech to the extremes. Earlier this year researchers hit 500Mbps with white LEDs; now, using a combination of white, green, blue, and red, the team ramped that up to 800Mbps, officially putting Ethernet on notice. The line-of-sight networking won't actually replace your standard Cat 5 line or WiFi router, but it could find a home in places like hospitals where radio-based wireless technology can cause problems for sensitive equipment. With any luck, we'll soon be bathing our homes in HD-streaming illumination.

German geniuses hit 800Mbps with light bulb WLAN originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 01 Aug 2011 16:19:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | sourceSlashgear | Email this | Comments"

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World of Warplanes Website

World of Warplanes Website: " has launched a new World of Warplanes Website as an online home to this upcoming MMO action game set during the 'Golden Age of military aviation.' At this point the site offers some..."

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Borderlands 2 Announced

Borderlands 2 Announced: "Gearbox Software tweets a confirmation of yesterday's indications that Borderlands 2 is in development. The official Borderlands 2 Website is online, offering a bit on plans for the role-playing..."

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Z-Drive R4 SSD combines blazing speed, PCIe 2.0 interface

Z-Drive R4 SSD combines blazing speed, PCIe 2.0 interface: "

PCI Express may be the future for solid-state drives, and the interface has already taken root in OCZ's Z-Drive SSDs. The company has just announced a new one: the Z-Drive R4. Available in full- and half-height models, the Z4 has a PCI Express 2.0 x8 interface with 4GB/s of peak bandwidth to and from the system. You're gonna need the bandwidth, too, because the fastest Z4 is said to be capable of pushing data at nearly 3GB/s.




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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Space Marine cinematic trailer

Release date September 6!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Computer Reads Manual, Plays Civ

Computer Reads Manual, Plays Civ: "

We can no longer hide our secrets from the machines by writing them in books.
MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab report that they have boosted the effectiveness of a game-playing AI by enabling it to read the manual: “When the researchers augmented a machine-learning system so that it could use a player’s manual to guide the development of a game-playing strategy, its rate of victory jumped from 46 percent to 79 percent.”

What’s most amazing about this is that despite the trial and error nature of this kind of machine learning, the ability to correlate text instructions with events in the game do seem to have a significant impact on the system’s capacity to learn how to play, as the article explains: “The researchers also tested a more-sophisticated machine-learning algorithm that eschewed textual input but used additional techniques to improve its performance. Even that algorithm won only 62 percent of its games.” So, you know, RTFM is sound advice, even if you are a machine.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gratuitous Tank Battles Announced

Gratuitous Tank Battles Announced: "Independent developer Positech Games announces Gratuitous Tank Battles, an upcoming alternate-reality RTS/Tower Defense hybrid to follow Gratuitous Space Battles. The concept behind this is that the..."

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'Only' 999 more days left for XP security updates

'Only' 999 more days left for XP security updates: "Yesterday marked an interesting milestone for Windows XP. In 1,000 days (or 999 as of today), Microsoft will stop providing security updates for the OS. XP's extended support period ends on April 8, 2014, and Redmond is using the countdown milestone as an excuse to trumpet the..."

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Cryptex flash drive uses combination lock sleeve, brings a whole new meaning to hardware encryption

Cryptex flash drive uses combination lock sleeve, brings a whole new meaning to hardware encryption: "

256-bit AES not doing it for ya? Now you can replace that dedicated-processor encryption with actual mechanical hardware, thanks to the Cryptex flash drive and its five-wheel combination lock sleeve. Modeled in AutoCAD and constructed using various glistening metals, the Cryptex's five-digit combination will keep prying eyes far from you sensitive files -- and, well, it just looks insanely awesome. Like many shiny objects that seem too good to be true, it's barely more than a concept at this point, so you'll have to settle for the digital version for now.

Cryptex flash drive uses combination lock sleeve, brings a whole new meaning to hardware encryption originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 12 Jul 2011 01:17:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Technabob | sourceSteampunker (Russian) | Email this | Comments"

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The fanless spinning heatsink: more efficient and immune to dust

The fanless spinning heatsink: more efficient and immune to dust: "

There’s a fundamental flaw with fan-and-heatsink cooling systems: no matter how hard the fan blows, a boundary layer of motionless, highly-insulating air remains on the heatsink. You can increase the size of the heatsink and you can blow more air, but ultimately the boundary layer prevents the system from being efficient; it’s simply a physical limitation of fan-and-heatsink cooling systems in specific, and every kind of air-cooled heat exchanger in general, including air conditioning and refrigeration units.

But what if you did away with the fan? What if the heatsink itself rotated? Well, believe it or not, rotating the heat exchanger obliterates the boundary layer, removes the need for a fan, and it’s so efficient that it can operate at low and very quiet speeds. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger [PDF]. Developed by Jeff Koplow, a researcher at the US government’s Sandia National Laboratories, the new heatsink (which has also been dubbed the “Sandia Cooler”) basically resembles a big, metal fan. The cooler consists of a static metal baseplate, which is connected to the CPU, GPU, or other hot object, and a finned, rotating heat exchanger that are cushioned by a thin (0.001-inch) layer of air. As the metal blades spin, centrifugal force kicks up the air and throws it up and outwards, much like an impeller, creating a cooling effect.

rotating heat exchangerThis new technique is so efficient that if these heat exchangers can find windespread adoption in computers and air conditioning units, Koplow estimates that the total US electricity consumption could drop by 7%. Furthermore, if you’re a computer geek, there’s another big advantage of the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger: it’s intrinsically immune to the build up of dust and detritus. The Sandia Cooler may also be the technology that smashes down the “Thermal Brick Wall” that is preventing computer chips from moving beyond 3GHz.

So when can you get your hands on one? Koplow is now working on a design that can be mass-produced — and hopefully he’ll soon be able to bring this awesome piece of technology to market.

Read more at New Scientist or read the research paper


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

APB Reloaded: What a load

So I took the time to download and try "APB Reloaded," free to play and allegedly in "open beta." Found out there's a reason for it. If they took money for this game, it'd probably be illegal.

This game's performance is ass on a platter. Oh, don't get me wrong, it looks nice, the ideas are good, and it'd have some real potential if taking more than 3 steps in any direction didn't reduce your framerate to 2 FPS or lower. It's plain to see why the first game company that tried to actually launch this game went belly up - this is unplayable. And my system is no slouch - I've got an 8800 GTX, quad core processor and 3 gigs of ram (windows XP, not 7).

Everyone involved with this endeavor should be ashamed of themselves. I cannot remember a gaming experience as frustrating as this. Ever. I've previously reviewed games that were terminally broken or downright awful, but they've got nothing on this. Forget APB. Play Saint's Row multiplayer. Yes, even with the framerate issues and the awful controls, it's millions of light years better than APB. I'm not even sure I want to go back and check on this one in 6 months because I'm downright insulted they'd even entertain the notion that this horrendous pile of fecal matter is in any way ready for public consumption.

To add insult to injury, the game installs its stupid third party "live" software on your computer in order to play, and pathetically, it requires you to install punkbuster as well. What does it say about your dev house when you have to rely on a decade-plus old third party memory scanner to police your client? Get. That. Shit. Off. My. PC. And burn in hell.

F. F. F. F Minus. Minus minus. Suspension. Expulsion. Permanent record. Juvenile hall. Summary execution. F.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Minecraft 1.7 pistons = Punchcard Memory

Since redstone current can be transmitted one meter through solid blocks and no meters through transparent, all of a sudden, punchcard memory in minecraft is possible. Add this to the APU and display modules shown by previous minecraft pioneers... and having a computer in minecraft is all that much closer.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Report: Serious gamers spend more time on PC than consoles

From the "Duh" department...

Report: Serious gamers spend more time on PC than consoles: "During March and May, research firm Newzoo surveyed over 20,000 gamers from a range of countries. The results have been tabulated in an official report available only to paying customers, but some detail have been released in a series of infographs. The data is sorted..."

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Really Bad Day at Black Rock

Really Bad Day at Black Rock: "Eurogamer has a report that Disney has closed the doors on Pure and Split/Second developer Black Rock Studios. This was originally a rumor, but they have since confirmed the news. In May it was..."

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Age of Conan Now Free-to-Play

Age of Conan Now Free-to-Play: "Funcom announces that Age of Conan has made the promised transition to a free-to-play business model. A new Age of Conan: Unchained launch trailer celebrates the news, and here's word: Players now..."

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Duke Nukem Forever

Great gobs of unpleasant avian sinus drainage! It's a review! Do we do that on this site? I forget!

After 15 years, Duke Nukem Forever has finally come out. All the vaporware jokes, all the wailing and gnashing of teeth... the king is back. But is he still the king?

Alright, you've probably read a lot of other reviews that tell you Duke Nukem Forever isn't a good game. Some even say it's a bad game. Myself, I'm not so sure. And I definitely don't agree with the reasons other pundits put forward when they call DNF a bad game. They want to talk about the dated references, the sexism, all that rot.

Well, I'm here to tell you DNF is not a bad game. It's not a GREAT game. It's hard to even call it a good game. Maybe that's why everybody badmouths it so harshly, because Duke Nukem 3D left some impossibly huge shoes to fill. Duke3D(dot ee ecks ee) was an absolute revolution in the first person shooter genre. The first FPS game that let you have multiple floors in the same 2 dimensional space (later referred to as "2.5d" because it used chicanery in a 2D plane to create the effect), the best multiplayer of the late 90s, and of course the shocking, edgy content - it all created a perfect storm that made Duke3D the staple of just about every LAN party and gaming rig I ever saw.

DNF could have been that again. The problem is not that its conventions are too dated, the problem is developers tried to shoehorn in too many "contemporary" conventions and paradigms. For example,
  • Duke3D let you carry one of every weapon in the game
  • DNF lets you carry two weapons.
  • D3D let you carry huge amounts of ammo
  • DNF lets you carry very restricted amounts of ammo, but boss fights and other heavy conflict areas usually have an inexhaustible ammo crate you can return to multiple times
  • D3D largely consisted of open, free roaming levels that had you hunt keycards to find the exit
  • DNF largely consists of highly detailed rooms and hallways, each with one entrance and one exit
  • D3D let you shoot, reload or sidestep while sprinting, and there was no limit to sprint distance.
  • DNF does not let you do any of that while sprinting, and your sprinting is limited by a fatigue mechanic.
Starting to see the pattern here? What hobbles DNF and makes parts of it irritating are not dated old 90s paradigms... it's the adoption of the bad "quasi-realistic" modern gaming mechanics that everybody gripes about today! I remember late nights with friends playing deathmatch, sprintstrafing in circles firing unbelievable numbers of rockets at each other until someone got lucky. Can't do that in DNF.

A particular sticking point for me as well is the way the alien-stolen "chicks" are handled. Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling "sexist" here or anything, but consider another difference here between D3D and DNF - In D3D, the stolen chicks in alien pods were largely scenery. Usually there were ways around them, so you didn't have to kill them even though they would beg you to do so... but if you did kill them, the game penalized you in the form of health loss or by spawning extra enemies. DNF however turns all that on its head - the girls do NOT beg for death (in fact they beg not to be DUMPED), they are placed in bottlenecks in the levels so you HAVE to kill them to get past, and if you leave them alive for too long they will die anyway and you will be punished by additional enemy spawns. That whole part just didn't sit well with me.

And don't even get me started on the load times.

It's not ALL bad though. The "gimmick" portions of the game are mostly enjoyable - the "Duke gets shrunk" portions I found particularly entertaining, less so the strip club scavenger hunt. I liked the driving portions, but maybe I'm the only one who did. I thought the ego mechanic was a nice innovation, where you raise your max health by interacting with objects (though I could have done without the blinding red splatter whenever you get wounded). And I have to tell you, it felt to me like the final boss of the game almost came halfway to redeeming the single player campaign. It was the first part of DNF that felt like the Duke I remember.

So that's basically the story - Duke Nukem Forever isn't as good as Duke 3D felt back in the 90s, but I can name several recent games that are worse - such as Homefront, Turning Point: FOL, Call of Juarez 2... At this point though, that it even came out at all is something of a triumph.

Grade: C+.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Minecraft: Back in the office, and some words on 1.7 and 1.8!

Looks like Minecraft's "Adventure" mode is pushed back to 1.8. 1.7 will have pistons and some bug fixes. The 11/11/11 release date also likely to be pushed back.

Back in the office, and some words on 1.7 and 1.8!: "After a few weeks out of the office (E3, then Italy, then F.3.A.R this weekend (great game!)),..."

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

There Ain’t No Drama Like Spaceship Drama Cause Spaceship Drama Don’t Stop


There Ain’t No Drama Like Spaceship Drama Cause Spaceship Drama Don’t Stop: "

This week in Eve:

Incarna shipped! You can now walk in your spaceship. No one else can see you walk in your spaceship but yep you’re walking. So there you go.

The in-game clothing store also shipped. You can now spend $60 on a monocle. To be fair, it’s a really nice monocle and I think monocles cost about $60 in real life. Oh wait, sorry, I meant $6. So there you go.

Most players responded with “What was CCP thinking?” This being Eve, someone promptly leaked exactly what CCP was thinking. (hint: pretty much exactly what you think they were thinking)

The Eve player base responded with the calm demeanor you’d expect by, um, literally rioting. The devs responded with, uh, yeah.

People have been shocked by the price range in the NeX store, but you should remember that we are talking about clothes. Look at the clothes you are currently wearing in real life. Do you have any specific brands? Did you choose it because it was better quality than a no-name brand? Assume for a short while that you are wearing a pair of $1,000 jeans from some exclusive Japanese boutique shop. Why would you want to wear a pair of $1,000 jeans when you can get perfectly similar jeans for under $50? What do other people think about you when they see you wearing them? For some you will look like the sad culmination of vainness while others will admire you and think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whichever it is, it is clear that by wearing clothes you are expressing yourself and that the price is one of the many dimensions that clothes possess to do that in addition to style and fit. You don’t need to buy expensive clothes. In fact you don’t need to buy any clothes. Whatever you choose to do reflects what you are and what you want others to think you are.

If you do not buy a $60 monocle A LOSER IS YOU. So there you go.


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Friday, June 24, 2011

Saints Row: The Third Trailer

Saints Row: The Third Trailer: "GameTrailers has a new trailer from Saints Row: The Third, with a walkthrough of open world gameplay in the sandbox action game sequel. This includes beating on random pedestrians, hitting homeless..."

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Star Wars Galaxies Ending in December

Star Wars Galaxies Ending in December: "The Star Wars Galaxies Website announces SOE's Star Wars MMORPG will be ending on December 15, 2011, which clarifies how it would operate alongside BioWare's upcoming Star Wars The Old Republic..."

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Team Fortress 2 now Free to Play

Great googily moogily, they did it. Team Fortress is now free to download and play off steam, having been switched to a "freemium" model. That is, you can play for free, but spending money in the store gets you extra stuff. FAQ here.

Details at

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Study contends that video games decrease violent crime

Study contends that video games decrease violent crime: "For years, decades even, we've been told that violent video games are bad, mmmkay. The violent ones are supposed to be particularly insidious because they desensitize folks to brutality and encourage them to act out virtual fantasies in the real world. What if violent video games actually decreased..."

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Zero Punctuation: Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TF2: Don't stab me now

Seems like a good time.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TR's Summer 2011 system guide

TR's Summer 2011 system guide: "AMD's next wave of processors may be on the horizon, but some of us need to upgrade sooner rather than later. So, here's a new edition of our system guide replete with some of the fastest gear and best deals money can buy right now."

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And The Lamb Lies Down In A Crate On Broadway

From Brokentoys:

And The Lamb Lies Down In A Crate On Broadway: "

Your frequently asked questions about the dude shipping himself cross-country while playing LotRO.

1: He has a friend driving him across the country on a truck, so no, it’s not just “sticking a tag on a box and mailing yourself Fed-Ex”.

2: Performance art would be my guess. Also the fact that bloggers like myself really can’t resist stupid stories like this.

3: Probably not a Warden since they’re pretty latency-dependent!

4: 7 days.

5: Yeah, it is pretty dumb

6: I’m pretty sure it’s not technically against the law to lock yourself in a crate for a week.

7: Yeah, I’d be worried about the hard drive, too.



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LEGO Universe Going Free-to-Play

LEGO Universe Going Free-to-Play: "The LEGO Group announces that LEGO Universe will go free-to-play this August. This involves the addition of a free zone, though they are not adding microtransactions at this point: 'LEGO Universe..."

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City of Heroes Going Free-to-Play

City of Heroes Going Free-to-Play: "The City of Heroes Website announces that City of Heroes Freedom will launch later this year, brining a free-to-play component to Paragon Studios' MMORPG. This will be a hybrid method which will..."

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Tropico 4 Trailer



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Serious Sam 3 stays true to franchise's roots

Serious Sam 3 stays true to franchise's roots: "Earlier this year, we learned that a third chapter in the Serious Sam franchise is due out this summer. The game isn't ready yet, but Rock, Paper, Shotgun spent some quality time with one level and came away impressed. Serious Sam 3 appears to stay true..."

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GRID online multiplayer meets early demise on PC

GRID online multiplayer meets early demise on PC: "Allowing users to host dedicated multiplayer servers was once a staple of the PC gaming scene. Such freedom is rare these days, which is a real shame. As Bruno highlighted in his 10 commandments of PC gaming post, dedicated servers are desirable because allow for user customization,..."

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Minecraft: West Freeport


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I Have Nothing I Could Possibly Add To This Story

I Have Nothing I Could Possibly Add To This Story: "

Fox announces Family Guy Online


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40k MMO news from E3

It Came from E3 2011, Part 15: "Warhammer 40k MMO playable next year at E3."

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day II: "'We're blackballing any sites that don't love banana pancakes from reviewing Serious Sam 3: BFE. You've all been warned. #BetterBetOnSam.' -- Devolver Digital."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DNF Review Dust Up

DNF Review Dust Up: "Ars Technica has a screenshot of a since-deleted tweet from PR firm The Redner Group with an overt threat about negative reviews of Duke Nukem Forever, saying: '#AlwaysBetOnDuke too many went too far..."

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Crysis 2 dropped from Steam, others may follow

Crysis 2 dropped from Steam, others may follow: "Could we be on the cusp of a war between game download services? Valve has dominated the market with Steam, but at least one major title has been pulled from its catalog. Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports Crysis 2 will now only be available through EA's new..."

(edit) or not...

EA Didn't Pull Crysis 2 from Steam: "GameFront has a statement from Electronic Arts saying they did not pull Crysis 2 from Steam (thanks Computer and Video Games), in spite of the implications of the 'only on Origin.' button they..."

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The 10 commandments of PC games

The 10 commandments of PC games: "Picture this for a second: you just unpacked the latest PlayBox 720-X blockbuster game, Gran Gears of Duty Fantasy XVIII. It's a game so juicy and dreamy that it'll send you flying into all the colors of the rainbow, twitching and jerking with pleasure-induced spasms just from looking at the..."

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Codemasters, Epic fall victim to hax0rs

Codemasters, Epic fall victim to hax0rs: "Sony and its PlayStation Network have been hacked multiple times in the last little while, but they haven't been the only victims. As Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports, Codemasters and Epic have both been hax0red. Neither intrusion compromised customer credit card data, the companies say, but it looks like email addresses and passwords were nabbed in the attacks. Codemasters also admits that user addresses and dates of birth were exposed. There's word that Nintendo is the target of a new phishing scam, as well.

At least some of the attacks on Sony were in response to the company's lawsuit against George Hotz, who hacked the PlayStation 3 console and posted its root keys online. So-called hactivist group Anonymous claimed responsibility for the initial assaults. However, it doesn't appear to be behind the latest attacks on Codemasters and Epic.

While it's comforting that the most recent efforts to nab customer information fell short of gaining access to credit card numbers, it's unsettling to know that game publishers have now become targets—seemingly for no reason at all. I guess everyone with a web presence is getting hacked these days. Here's hoping Steam remains immune to the onslaught."

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Gaming – now and then

Gaming – now and then: "

Something for you to think about..

Which games pop in mind if you look at that comic?


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Minecraft coming to 360 and Kinect this Winter

Minecraft coming to 360 and Kinect this Winter: "

Man, Mojang's little indie darling is getting some major mileage with the gaming industry's biggest players. The Microsoft E3 press conference brought the announcement that Minecraft would be making its way to Xbox 360 with some unexplained Kinect support this Winter. No other details were announced, but we're thrilled to punch trees to extract logs using our real hands.

Update: Microsoft has announced in a press release that Minecraft will 'feature cross-functionality between the PC and Xbox 360 versions.'

JoystiqMinecraft coming to 360 and Kinect this Winter originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 06 Jun 2011 13:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Cheap GPUs Rendering Strong Passwords Useless

Cheap GPUs Rendering Strong Passwords Useless: "StrongGlad writes with a story at ZDNet describing how it's getting easier to use GPU processing against passwords once considered quite strong.
'Take a cheap GPU (like the Radeon HD 5770) and the free GPU-powered password busting tool called 'ighashgpu' and you have yourself a lean, mean password busting machine. How lean and mean? Working against NTLM login passwords, a password of 'fjR8n' can be broken on the CPU in 24 seconds, at a rate of 9.8 million password guesses per second. On the GPU, it takes less than a second at a rate of 3.3 billion passwords per second. Increase the password to 6 characters (pYDbL6), and the CPU takes 1 hour 30 minutes versus only four seconds on the GPU. Go further to 7 characters (fh0GH5h), and the CPU would grind along for 4 days, versus a frankly worrying 17 minutes 30 seconds for the GPU.'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Carmageddon!

Between this and Duke Nukem Forever, I feel like I'm regressing back into high school.

Via Kotaku

Carmageddon Returns With New Car-Smashing Game

Avatar for Luke Plunkett Luke PlunkettVintage car combat series Carmageddon is making a comeback, with original developers Stainless Games having quietly re-acquired the rights to its old property.

The new game is called Carmageddon: Reincarnation, and will be a downloadable title due sometime next year. No platforms or any more tangible information are available than that.

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