Cloud Imperium Games has been talking about its 64-bit engine conversion for at least two years now, but we've never had a chance to properly explain the benefit of this move. Following last week's interviews with Chris Roberts (Part 1: Procedural Planets V2, Alpha 3.0 & Part 2: Weather System), we sat down with CIG Technical Director Sean Tracy to learn about CryEngine, the technical inner-workings of procedural planet generation V2, and more.

Tracy sat in on our first meeting with Roberts, and was able to prepare some additional points of depth with notes taken from that meeting. The entire discussion with Tracy ran for about forty minutes. We've split that into two parts:

 

  • Part 1, today, is on 64-bit engine technology, world space coordinates, edge blending, and meshes and layers.

  • Part 2, Wednesday (10/5), is on CPU threading, system resource and load management, character technology, and more CitizenCon info.

Note: You may find our previous discussion on DirectX 12 & Vulkan of interest.

It took us nearly 5000 words to cover the first half of our two-part interview with Cloud Imperium Games CEO Chris Roberts, who joins us now for the second half. In the first part, we dove straight into discussion on Alpha 3.0, plans for unveiling procedural generation V2 at CitizenCon, and Star Marine & Arena Commander A2.6 updates. Roberts' procedural generation plans initially disclosed to GamersNexus in 2014 have mostly been realized, and the team is now working on a second iteration of the internally built Planet Ed[itor] toolset. Much of the new procedural generation technology will be shown at CitizenCon on October 9, but Roberts also teased to us that new character technology would be on demonstration at the event.

This is the second and final half of our interview with Chris Roberts, CIG CEO & Chairman, but not the final interview for our trip. Technical Director Sean Tracy joined GamersNexus to discuss deeper engineering solutions to technological challenges faced by the team, offering some insight to game development that we think our 'regulars' will enjoy from an engineering standpoint. The first half of that content will post on Friday, September 30. The second half will be announced alongside the publication of the first half.

Both interviews – with Roberts and with Tracy – ran about forty minutes in length, and contained a trove of new information related to the title's immediate future. With Tracy, we'll discuss engine architecture, what it actually means to “refactor for 64-bit,” authoring tools, and more.

It's been three years since we first visited the Cloud Imperium Games studios in Santa Monica, though we've conducted a dozen interviews with CIG CEO Chris Roberts in the time since. Now, taking a victory lap through Southern California's hardware manufacturers, we stopped over at CIG's offices for a second in-person visit.

A lot has changed. The studio, for one, is now in a new location that's farther from the Santa Monica beach, but in a larger space. The team has grown significantly in both organization and team size, and challenges faced, and Roberts has adjusted his interview technique just enough to ease off on providing release dates.

Our latest visit had us focusing on the new planetary procedural generation tech, version 2.0, the predecessor for which we originally detailed two full years ago. Roberts talked us through the start-to-finish plans for CitizenCon's presentations, additional Alpha 3.0 launch details, Star Marine, procedural generation, character tech, and engine refactoring in a forty-minute interview. We've split the interview into two parts, the second of which will go live on Monday (September 26). Our time spent in the office was doubled to accommodate a second interview with Technical Director Sean Tracy, responsible for answering our deeper hardware and software engineering questions. That content will go live next week, after the first two parts of the interview with Chris Roberts.

Midair Successfully Revives 'Tribes' Format

By Published September 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm

We saw a lot of games at PAX West and, as always, didn’t get a chance to cover all of them individually. One little game stood out, though: Midair, the spiritual successor to the Tribes series.

Cloistered away in the back of the sixth floor of the Seattle Convention Center, Archetype Studios barely got their game into PAX. Another exhibitor dropped out of the show two weeks prior to kick-off, opening a slot for waitlisted Archetype. As longtime fans of the Tribes series, Archetype Studios and its founders were disappointed by Tribes: Ascend’s support and payment model, leading to the creation of Midair. The game was already successfully Kickstarted for nearly $130,000, about 30% more than initially asked.

The Coalition's Gears of War 4 demonstrated the capabilities of nVidia's new GTX 1070-enabled notebooks, operating at 4K with fully maxed-out graphics options. View our Pascal notebook article for more information on the specifics of the hardware. While at the event in England, we took notes of the game's complete graphics settings and some notes on graphics setting impact on the GPU and CPU. The Coalition may roll-out additional settings by the game's October launch.

We tested Gears of War 4 on the new MSI GT73 notebook with 120Hz display and a GTX 1070 (non-M) GPU. The notebook was capable of pushing maxed settings at 1080p and, a few pre-release bugs aside (pre-production hardware and an unfinished game), gameplay ran in excess of 60FPS.

We've got an early look at Gears of War 4's known graphics settings, elevated framerate, async compute, and dynamic resolution support. Note that the Gears team has promised “more than 30 graphics settings,” so we'll likely see a few more in the finished product. Here are our photos of the graphics options menu:

Rocket League Review: 1 Year Later (2016)

By
in Games
Published August 13, 2016 at 8:30 am

With a full year under its belt, we thought it'd be time to revisit Rocket League for a "One Year Later" review. GN tester Mike Gaglione has been playing Rocket League unrelentingly since its launch, and put together this gameplay footage and analysis for video publication. We've also got the transcript below the video, if you prefer.

We're looking at the game's history, its developer support, competitive play support, and gameplay mechanics. For folks who haven't yet tried Rocket League, you haven't "missed the boat," so to speak; the game is constantly evolving, and follows a more modern model of constant patch shipments.

Video below:

Quadrilateral Cowboy Review & Gameplay

By
in Games
Published July 31, 2016 at 8:30 am

Quadrilateral Cowboy is the latest release from Blendo Games, a company which usually consists solely of developer Brendon Chung, but in this case includes team members Tynan Wales and Aaron Melcher. Cowboy is vaguely connected to previous titles Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving by the fictional city of Nuevos Aires, but explores an entirely different style of gameplay.

The player character is known as Poncho, one of a three-person crew of hackers selling services to the highest bidder. The core premise, according to Blendo Games, was “a first-person sneaking game, but all of your equipment is outdated and heavy and clunky.” An array of gadgets is used to plan ten heists in “alt-future 1980-something” (don’t worry too much about that).

Benchmarking in Vulkan or Dx12 is still a bit of a pain in the NAS, but PresentMon makes it possible to conduct accurate FPS and frametime tests without reliance upon FRAPS. July 11 marks DOOM's introduction of the Vulkan API in addition to its existing OpenGL 4.3/4.5 programming interfaces. Between the nVidia and AMD press events the last few months, we've seen id Software surface a few times to talk big about their Vulkan integration – but it's taken a while to finalize.

As we're in the midst of GTX 1060 benchmarking and other ongoing hardware reviews, this article is being kept short. Our test passes look only at the RX 480, GTX 1080, and GTX 970, so we're strictly looking at scalability on the new Polaris and Pascal architectures. The GTX 970 was thrown-in to see if there are noteworthy improvements for Vulkan when moving from Maxwell to Pascal.

This test is not meant to show if one video card is “better” than another (as our original Doom benchmark did), but is instead meant to show OpenGL → Vulkan scaling within a single card and architecture. Note that, as with any game, Doom is indicative only of performance and scaling within Doom. The results in other Vulkan games, like the Talos Principle, will not necessarily mirror these. The new APIs are complex enough that developers must carefully implement them (Vulkan or Dx12) to best exploit the low-level access. We spoke about this with Chris Roberts a while back, who offered up this relevant quote:

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is EA’s reboot of their 2009 first-person parkour game. The first Mirror’s Edge was well-received for its advanced visuals and intuitive, mechanical gameplay. For some of those who played the first ME, time has only sweetened memories of the innovative parkour-style gameplay. When EA and DICE announced the sequel, we were immediately interested -- we liked the first game most for its time trials and 3D platforming, somewhat unique in execution with Mirror’s Edge.

Like its predecessor, gameplay in ME Catalyst is deceptively simple. You run, you jump, you slide, and sometimes, you kick. We pick-up playing as Faith, a young woman who makes her living as an aptly titled ‘runner.’ If you couldn’t guess, that means she runs items and information from point-to-point, like a courier -- but in a dystopian future where private security companies routinely invade the privacy of citizens. Runners allow data to be moved about more discreetly. As a runner, you traverse the rooftops of Glass -- the city ME Catalyst takes place in -- almost entirely made of a white concrete that stays freakishly clean. Those rooftops also host a lot of ventilation, piping, and fences, all of which are used to the advantage of our parkour-trained runner. Navigation of the rooftops is left largely up to player, but certain obstacles light-up red to guide the player towards the objective.

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