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Seeds of Resilience 1.0 Release is OUT and a backstory!

After almost 1 year of Early Access and 7 years of development, Seeds of Resilience is out now. It's a 2D turn-based survival management game where you have to make a new village from scratch. The game has a special story, it was born in a time where the environment was still a forgotten issue, 6 years ago. It was the kind of time where growth was the only thing people were interested in.

The NPD Group: Developers Have Been taking More Risks With New IPs

An insight report from The NPD Group on console gaming paints interesting comparisons between the current (Xbox One and PS4) and past (Xbox 360 and PS3) console generations. For one, the fact that both generations started out their shelf-life with comparable new physical game releases and, among those releases, new IP, is interesting. The fact that physical releases new IP releases in current generation consoles tanked compared to their previous-gen counterparts on year three may be an indicator of either reduced trust in the market's capacity to absorb new releases and IP; a conservative approach on releasing games; or, more likely, the increase in development times, which means that games whose production began on or slightly after the new generation of consoles hit the market only went live, usually, three to four years later.

However, the rate of new releases and new IP among them in current generation consoles has increased as we hit their retirement time (which is expected to be between 2020 and 2021). It's interesting to note that it seems that new IP releases ar about on par with previous generation console,s which is a fact I think most of the readers will feel is against their own interpretation of the market - and a reason why NPD says developers "have been taking more risks). We are now seemingly bottoming out in new physical and new IP releases, as this generation comes to a close. But at least the games seem to be better than in the last generation: here, average score for current-generation games is two points higher than that of the last generation of consoles.

EA Reveals Next-Generation Hair Rendering for Frostbite

In the gaming industry, everything is evolving around game graphics. GPUs are integrating new technologies such as ray tracing, there are tons of software dedicated to making in-game illustrations look as realistic as possible. Electronic Arts, one of the game publishing companies decided to release a state of the art AAA games, today revealed an update to DICE's Frostbite engine.

DICE's Frostbite engine is powering many of today's AAA titles such as Battlefield V, Anthem and Star Wars Battlefront. Today it got a big update. EA released new capabilities to render the hair of in-game characters with almost real-life realism. This is pretty impressive considering that hair is very difficult to model artificially. Being one of the most interesting topics for game developers, good hair animations are extremely important to achieving the lifelike look newer AAA titles are targeting.

Teslasuit, the Full Body Haptic Feedback VR Suit, Wins the Red Dot Design Award

If you've heard of Teslasuit, you've likely felt some sort of interest towards it. As well you should: the ideal of a full body suit with haptic feedback for VR experiences is enough for some of us - at least those with the hero, "I'll never get hit by any bullet" complex. Add to the full body haptic feedback capabilities such as full body motion tracking embedded into the suit, as well as localized temperature controls for transmitting heat and cold sensations, and... There's also biometric feedback built in for usage patterns and engagement ratio, to aid developers in their data collecting. Well, can I hear Ready Player One, anyone?

The company behind the Tesla suit have just announced that their product won the Red Dot: Best of the Best, the top distinction in the competition. It is granted for groundbreaking design and goes to the best products in a category. The Teslasuit is now available for distribution as a development kit, and features dedicated software, documentation, API integration with Unreal Engine, Unity, and Motion Builder.

Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service at GDC 2019

We knew this was coming, especially after Google's teaser from earlier this month. Project Stream was a proof-of-concept in collaboration with Ubisoft, to see whether AAA gaming was possible over the internet. Things were smooth most of the time in our own experience, but there remained questions over how the concept would translate over to a finished product, especially with infrastructure challenges on the client side of things. Google's keynote at GDC just wrapped up, and the main focus was Stadia- the now named cloud gaming service borne out of Project Stream.

Stadia is built with instant access in mind. An example demo came in the form of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which was used in the public test before. It is integrated with partner YouTube channels such that a trailer for a supported game would have an option to play said game, which would then launch immediately. Stadia is built with support from a wide partner network including AMD, Unity, id Software, and more, with details seen past the break.

Upcoming Release List On Steam Sees Abuse By Developers

Valve's popular "Upcoming Release list" within Steam has become a bit of a hot button topic as the abuse of the feature becomes more widespread. As pointed out by Mike Rose, founder of indie game publisher No More Robots, on Twitter, the system behind the upcoming release list can be easily rigged by developers themselves. For context, the release list is created by Steam when it checks the release date for each title set in the Steam back end. Once it has verified the release date, the system then lists all titles that have been found on a fair number of wish lists, and displays them in the order they will be released. At this time, developers can continuously change the back end release date, thus keeping their games at the top of the list. This makes it easy for already popular titles to remain at the top, soaking up even more views. Meanwhile, if you take a gander at the games store page, you will see the proper release date which differs from the back end date the system currently uses.

Worse yet, there are currently no consequences for developers that are partaking in this practice. While in some ways I can appreciate the devs noticing these loopholes and taking advantage, the fact remains that it hurts the general user base. It also shows another flaw in Valve's various systems, showing how vulnerable they have become in recent years as their omnipotence has been steadily fading. For now, Tom Giardino from Valve's business team has made it clear that they are looking to fix and or resolve the problem, but do not wish to give an ETA for when a said fix would come. This is likely because they don't want to mess with the developers' ability to control their games release timing. It seems Valve can't catch a break between this, the Epic Games Store, and other problems. You can check the thread linked below for a full look into Mike's findings and thoughts on the issue.

Story Trailer, System Requirements for From Software's Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Outed

From Software's Dark Souls series has become one of the hallmarks of gaming in recent years, spawning multiple formula-copying titles with their own takes and settings. However, it has become clear that no one developer has mastered From Software's mix of cruel difficulty. I'd say From Software has mastered an almost alchemically concocted technical prowess in animation mechanics and timing, mixed with pattern recognition, attention to detail, reflexes, and the cherry on top, immediate, repeatable gratification on finally overcoming that damn Ornstein and Smough pair.

The latest story trailer showcases Japan's Sengoku period in the 1500's, a period drenched in conflict and the blood of samurai, with Owl taking on an apprentice from the remains of a battle. As with almost every samurai tale, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be making use of a plot centered around recovering one's honor. According to From Software, you'll be able to use "deadly prosthetic tools and powerful ninja abilities while you blend stealth, vertical traversal, and visceral head-to-head combat". I'm already fully aware that the title is misleading: you'll die more than twice by the time the credits roll. You can start counting your deaths and victories come March 22nd, when the game is released for all platforms (via Steam on PC).

Activision-Blizzard Stock Valuation Falls 10% in Wake of Bungie Split

Whether Activision-Blizzard's split from Destiny and Destiny 2 developer Bungie was caused by an overzealous grip on Bungie's creative vision or not is something that will likely never be clarified. But one thing is for certain: in the stock market, it doesn't really matter how something happened, but really what the effects are of it happening. And Bungie splitting from Activision-Blizzard means that the industry behemoth now finds itself with one less IP under its belt, thus constraining its revenue sources to a couple of high-profile IPs. Less sources of income = less versatility and resilience to market fluctuations, and that is something Activision-Blizzard was immediately hit back for from investors.

The company's stock decreased by as much as 11% in the wake of the Bungie split, from a high of $51.35 down to a low of $45.19, as investors reduced their trust in the company's profit volume and momentum. It has since recovered, but is still some 9% down. Whether Activision actually expected this much of a fall or not only the company knows. It'll be interesting to see the company's next financial report, though.

HTC Vive Pro Eye: Hands On with Hardware and Software

The Vive Cosmos was not the only major announcement coming out of HTC's Vive business unit at CES this year. While that has massive mainstream appeal, the company was quick to let us know that it was still to early to comment further than what has already been covered in the aforelinked news post. Instead, they invited us to their suite to take a closer look at the Vive Pro Eye- one of the few things that really stood out for us at the trade show.

The Vive Pro Eye is, as the name would suggest, a new SKU with integrated eye tracking in the Vive Pro HMD. Working together with Tobii, the Vive Pro Eye allows for a more natural control mechanism within VR via eye controls, which in turn means a revamped menu navigation system is possible. This allows for increased accessibility to end users with disability, more optimization on VR performance, and detailed analysis of VR experiences for both the client and the businesses alike. Read past the break for a breakdown of our experience with the Vive Pro Eye, and the various demos on hand to showcase the feature.

Discord Store Offers 90% Revenue Share to Developers, Potentially to Counter Epic Games Threat

The launch of the new Epic Games store for the PC has created many an aftershock in the gaming industry, including Steam updating their revenue share model, but the games press and media alike were quick to discuss implications more so for the equally new Discord store that understandably is more in line as far as breaking into the market goes, and impact from competition accordingly. In a series of moves that no doubt pleases game developers and publishers alike, Discord announced that they are going to offer a 90/10 revenue distribution with 90% in favor of developers- an increase over the industry leading "up to 88%" from Epic Games until then.

There is a small catch in that Discord is allowing developers to self-publish the games if they so desire, which in turn is how they will get that 90% revenue share, so it remains to be seen how user friendly that process is. Discord in their blog post made a big point about how it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018, a move that will no doubt be examined throughout not only the gaming industry but every single online app distribution platform where a 70/30 split is the current industry standard. As long as this move enables the store to break even and churn out a profit, we would like to see more of this happening to where game developers get more money and do not feel compelled to work ridiculously long hours.

Sunset Overdrive Likely Headed to the PC Platform as per ESRB Listing

Insomniac Games' Sunset Overdrive first released as an XBOX One exclusive in 2014, and it was generally met with positive feedback from critics and users alike who appreciated the art style and gameplay of the third-person shooter. This was arguably the developer's biggest attempt at an open world action adventure game before they set off working on this year's hit Spiderman game for the Sony PS4 platform. As with just about any Microsoft console title these days, however, this too appears to be coming to the PC sooner than later. The first hint at this came from a Korean Game Ratings and Administration Committee notice earlier in May, and today we got word of the ESRB having a listing for the game as filed for the PC platform.

The game description can be read in the source link, which is NSFW in writing only, and everything points to a game release that does not appear to be nerfed in content thus far. We do not yet know if this is a straight port or more options are added in, and neither do we know whether this comes from the developer (who presumably are also busy handling post-game content for Spiderman) or delegated to someone else. All that can be said at this time is the release of Sunset Overdrive on the PC is now more of a matter of when and at what price point, rather than if at all.

Valve Approves Team Fortress 2008 Mod, Reverses Decision, Angers Modding Community

Well this was a tale that took a roller-coaster ride, and then some. It started with a YouTube trailer for a mod that promised to take back Team Fortress to its 2008-era, which unsurprisingly got many fans of the game excited. The developer/modder who went by the handle XYK initiated a website (now inactive), along with other social media channels that included an active Discord server for the project. Timely updates followed, and good news came in the form of news from Valve that informed the modder of approval of a Steam release, as well as upcoming beta test keys as well. This was followed by Valve wanting some things to be changed, which were also done and things looked smooth at the time.

Then Valve decided they were not sure the mod was more than just a re-purposing of leaked game code, and decided to reverse their decision of approving a Steam release for the mod. This, as expected, did not go well with the vast majority of fans. The killing blow to the project came, however, not from Valve but from the modder himself who decided to go out with a negative bang of sorts instead of working with Valve. As it is, not only is the game community upset at both Valve and the modder but the u-turn taken by Valve has since been negatively criticized by other modders as well.

NVIDIA Does a TrueAudio: RT Cores Also Compute Sound Ray-tracing

Positional audio, like Socialism, follows a cycle of glamorization and investment every few years. Back in 2011-12 when AMD maintained a relatively stronger position in the discrete GPU market, and held GPGPU superiority, it gave a lot of money to GenAudio and Tensilica to co-develop the TrueAudio technology, a GPU-accelerated positional audio DSP, which had a whopping four game title implementations, including and limited to "Thief," "Star Citizen," "Lichdom: Battlemage," and "Murdered: Soul Suspect." The TrueAudio Next DSP which debuted with "Polaris," introduced GPU-accelerated "audio ray-casting" technology, which assumes that audio waves interact differently with different surfaces, much like light; and hence positional audio could be made more realistic. There were a grand total of zero takers for TrueAudio Next. Riding on the presumed success of its RTX technology, NVIDIA wants to develop audio ray-tracing further.

A very curious sentence caught our eye in NVIDIA's micro-site for Turing. The description of RT cores reads that they are specialized components that "accelerate the computation of how light and sound travel in 3D environments at up to 10 Giga Rays per second." This is an ominous sign that NVIDIA is developing a full-blown positional audio programming model that's part of RTX, with an implementation through GameWorks. Such a technology, like TrueAudio Next, could improve positional audio realism by treating sound waves like light and tracing their paths from their origin (think speech from an NPC in a game), to the listener as the sound bounces off the various surfaces in the 3D scene. Real-time ray-tracing(-ish) has captured the entirety of imagination at NVIDIA marketing to the extent that it is allegedly willing to replace "GTX" with "RTX" in its GeForce GPU nomenclature. We don't mean to doomsay emerging technology, but 20 years of development in positional audio has shown that it's better left to game developers to create their own technology that sounds somewhat real; and that initiatives from makers of discrete sound cards (a device on the brink of extinction) and GPUs makers bore no fruit.

Lesson from the Crypto/DRAM Plagues: Build Future-Proof

As someone who does not mine crypto-currency, loves fast computers, and gaming on them, I find the current crypto-currency mining craze using graphics cards nothing short of a plague. It's like war broke out, and your government took away all the things you love from the market. All difficult times teach valuable lessons, and in this case, it is "Save up and build future-proof."

When NVIDIA launched its "Pascal" GPU architecture way back in Summer 2016, and AMD followed up, as a user of 2x GeForce GTX 970 SLI, I did not feel the need to upgrade anything, and planned to skip the Pascal/Polaris/Vega generation, and only upgrade when "Volta" or "Navi" offered something interesting. My pair of GTX 970 cards are backed by a Core i7-4770K processor, and 16 GB of dual-channel DDR3-1866 memory, both of which were considered high-end when I bought them, around 2014-15.

Throughout 2016, my GTX 970 pair ate AAA titles for breakfast. With NVIDIA investing on advancing SLI with the new SLI-HB, and DirectX 12 promising a mixed multi-GPU utopia, I had calculated a rather rosy future for my cards (at least to the point where NVIDIA would keep adding SLI profiles for newer games for my cards to chew through). What I didn't see coming was the inflection point between the decline of multi-GPU and crypto-plague eating away availability of high-end graphics cards at sane prices. That is where we are today.

AMD Says Vega Frontier Edition "Gaming" and "Pro" Modes are Not Placeholders

AMD's Vega Frontier Edition was a release that seemingly left most users either scratching their heads in bewilderment or - more specifically - disappointed. Some of this disappointment seemed to stem from a desire to see the long-awaited RX Vega consumer graphics card performance in the wild - or at least snagging a preview of it. Alas, the Frontier Edition's gaming performance was a disappointment when one considers the expected performance of AMD's underlying hardware - 4096 Stream processors and 16 GB of HBM2 memory - as well as the fact that this is AMD's first high-performance architecture since the Fury line of graphics cards. But to be fair to AMD, they did warn us - the Frontier Edition isn't the right graphics card for gamers.

One of the points of contention for this new release was that AMD delivered a graphics card that straddled the prosumer equation - offering both Pro drivers for professional workloads, and a Gaming Mode which should allow developers to seamlessly jump from development mode to testing mode through a driver toggle. However, when used at launch of the Frontier Edition - and even now - this toggle is little more than a dud. Mostly, what it does is remove the Wattman control panel.

Windows 10 Process-Termination Bug Slows Down Mighty 24-Core System to a Crawl

So, you work for Google. Awesome, right? Yeah. You know what else is awesome? Your 24-Core, 48-thread Intel build system with 64 GBs of ram and a nice SSD. Life is good man. So, you've done your code work for the day on Chrome, because that's what you do, remember? (Yeah, that's right, it's awesome). Before you go off to collect your google-check, you click "compile" and expect a speedy result from your wicked fast system.

Only you don't get it... Instead, your system comes grinding to a lurching halt, and mouse movement becomes difficult. Fighting against what appears to be an impending system crash, you hit your trusty "CTRL-ALT-DELETE" and bring up task manager... to find only 50% CPU/RAM utilization. Why then, was everything stopping?

If you would throw up your arms and walk out of the office, this is why you don't work for Google. For Google programmer Bruce Dawson, there was only one logical way to handle this: "So I did what I always do - I grabbed an ETW trace and analyzed it. The result was the discovery of a serious process-destruction performance bug in Windows 10."

CD Projekt Red: We Will Not Give In to the Demands of Thieves

CD Projekt Red are the world-renowned studio responsible for RPG masterpiece The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the two other less known, but still great Witcher RPGs before it. The company is one of the most gamer-oriented, generous game developers out there today, bar none. I say this, because this is a company who did some missteps before, but quickly backed out of them and that have created one of the most memorable and successful open-worlds to date. This is the studio that offered not only a soundtrack CD with their standard edition of the game, alongside a full-color map of the game world, but also went to the lengths of including a small letter to thank us for choosing their game over others. These developers offered 16 pieces of DLC with their game, DLC pieces that other studios had been (and have been) charging customers for.

The company outlined above have come forth in a tweet, publicly calling out an attempt from thieves to ransom stolen development files on the studios' upcoming sci-fi Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red said that they will not give in to demands from the individuals that have contacted them, and acknowledge that the public release of those files is likely to happen as a result. The studio also goes on saying that these files (if they even come to public now that their value has been thoroughly cut down) are "largely unrepresentative of the current vision for the game." I don't know about you, but I'd much prefer to get some info on CD Projekt Red's next project from themselves.

P.S.: This editor Is sorry for the above post looking eerily similar to a rant. I just have a low tolerance for this kind of behavior from any part, but most of all, when the targeted party is actually one of the studios that is more deserving of gamers' respect.

Fedora, Ubuntu, and SuSE Linux Available from Windows Store

That's right, Microsoft could soon distribute Linux. Popular PC Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, and SuSE, could soon be available through the Windows Store. Microsoft made this startling announcement at its Build 2017 keynote. The idea here is to make Linux distributions available to power-users who want to run the operating systems in virtual machines, or install the OS in a manner that lets you run Linux applications directly on Windows 10.

There are still limits to what you can do with Linux you get from the Windows Store. For starters, the OS can't be installed on the host machine, in say, a separate partition/volume, which you can choose to boot from, using a bootloader such as GRUB. The download also doesn't directly expose the .iso installer disk image of your Linux distro. It could still be useful for developers seeking a turnkey Linux environment instantly for development or testing, or for schools to teach Linux.

ROCCAT Dips Its Paws on Game Development, Presents Sick City

ROCCAT is moving deeper into the gaming sphere with its very first in-house developed title, Sick City, a Real Time Tactical Combat game which ROCCAT says "Breaks with both conventional genre and developmental norms." The newly founded "ROCCAT Games Studio" looks to not only create a unique interpretation of action-based tactical combat, but more importantly, deeply integrate player feedback into core development decisions.

ROCCAT presents this close proximity relationship between developer and community as the future of gaming, saying that "No other early access title integrates its players and prospective buyers so thoroughly in production." This means players will have the opportunity to actively participate in decisions that will shape the retail version of Sick City. Features such as new maps, factions, game types, campaigns, even the future of Sick City in eSports - these decisions will be placed in the hands of the player, in what ROCCAT envisions as a truly collaborative project.

VESA Forms Working Group Towards XR Standards

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has recently announced plans to form a special working group within its ecosystem, whose mission will be to develop standards for XR (eXtended Reality) products and development. XR envelops both VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality), and VESA has apparently had enough of differing vendor implementations. According to VESA, "the lack of standardization is causing compatibility issues between products from different vendors, as well as increasing the complexity and cost of development, ownership and replacement. Lack of compatibility can also create confusion for end users and impede broader acceptance of AR/VR products."

Considering the XR market's value is expected to hit roughly $162 billion dollars by 2020, we can certainly see how "compatibility issues" and "lower acceptance of AR/VR products" could affect what is looking to be an extremely lucrative market. Let's just gloss over the fact (slightly paradoxical, actually) that we're now looking at two different XR standards groups, VESA's newly-announced initiative, and Khrono's OpenXR.

Intel Cancels Intel Developer Forum, Including IDF17

In what amounts to a surely shocking bit of news for the PC hardware industry, Intel has announced it has cancelled IDF17, and terminated the Intel Developer Forum program altogether. Intel had previously announced there would not be an IDF in China this year, but now the cancellation appears to have gone global and permanent. From the horse's mouth, if one were to consider Intel a horse (would it be a fast one? My mind wanders):

"Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF program moving forward. Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum! Intel has a number of resources available on intel.com, including a Resource and Design Center with documentation, software, and tools for designers, engineers, and developers. As always, our customers, partners, and developers should reach out to their Intel representative with questions."

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation Update Brings Improved Performance to Ryzen

Some outlets are reporting that Stardock's Ashes of the Singularity is about to receive the much-referred-to patch that allows for improved performance on AMD's Ryzen line of processors. If you remember, rivers of ink flowed regarding AMD's Ryzen performance in gaming, with its monstrous, high-performance 8-core, 16-threaded design sometimes delivering performance below expectations. At the time, AMD clarified how Ryzen is a distinctive CPU architecture, similar yet fundamentally different from Intel's x86 implementation, promising upcoming patches from game developers that would allow Ryzen's architecture to truly deliver.

After Creative Assembly and Oxide Games vouched to improve Ryzen support, Oxide seems to be the first developer with a patch available (from version 25624 to 26118) that improves performance by up to 30%. Reportedly, it took the developers around 400 work-hours to improve the game code in respect to its execution on AMD hardware.

AMD Sends Required Patches for Vega Support in Linux

AMD has recently sent out around a hundred patches, which amount to over 40 thousand lines of code, so as to allow developers to integrate support for its upcoming Vega GPU architecture under Linux. The new code is essential towards baking support for Vega under Linux, considering the many changes this architecture entails over AMD's current-generation Polaris 10 (soon to be rebranded, if sources are correct, to the new RX 500 series.) Also of note is the existence of seven different device IDs for Vega-based products, though this really can't be extrapolated to the amount of SKUs under the Vega banner. For now, that really is just a number.

Windows 10 Build 15048 Brings Mixed Reality Support and Demo

The latest Insider build of Windows 10 (Build 15048 for the curious) appeared at first to be a simple bugfix release. But hidden inside was a neat little gem for Mixed Reality developers: Support for the technology complete with a demo.

For most of us, this means little. Attempting to run the demo without a pricey Mixed Reality developers kit will only unlock a simulation of the demo, not an actual Mixed Reality experience. You will also need to enable "Developers Mode" on Windows 10's settings panel to enable the "Mixed Reality Portal" that leads to the demo in the first place.

AMD's Ryzen Debut: Onwards to the HEDT Market or The Stumbling Hype Train

I should break down the bad news first: we here at TechPowerUp won't be able to provide you with a timely, straight-from-the-oven Ryzen review. Like some other publications, our Ryzen review sample failed to arrive on time. And trust us - we did will it to do so as much as we could, risking a Stranger-Things-esque nosebleed. Alas, to no avail.

The good news is that while we won't be able to offer you our own review of AMD and Jim Kellers' latest high-performance x86 brainchild, we will still strive to bring you meaningful coverage on it. This article aims to make an overall aggregation on review consensus, benchmarks and capabilities of the newest AMD CPU. Trying to add something, we'll also try and evaluate whether AMD learned - or didn't learn - something from its Bulldozer launch fiasco, in a pure marketing perspective. This will justify the editorialized nature of this article, but only after we dive straight to the numbers. Without further ado, follow on to the numbers.
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