If nothing else, we’ve learned one very critical item when working with Chris Roberts: Film everything. With most of our interview subjects, we go through a brief “pre-interview” process that provides a synopsis of the forthcoming questions and builds comfort between the presenter, the subject, and the camera. Every time we’ve done that with Roberts, we’ve accidentally dived into the actual content of the interview – I’m then forced to interrupt the CIG CEO and turn our cameras on.

This time, we did it differently.

“Just – just set the camera up right when we start talking and hit ‘record,’” I told Keegan Gallick, our camera operator and video editor. “Chris immediately starts talking about usable content items.”

This past week has been non-stop GTA V content, starting with GPU benchmarking and concluding with an unfathomable experience with phone support services.

Following publication of our investigative report that outed inexplicably poor call center performance, Rockstar reached-out to us with redoubled efforts to resolve uprooted support concerns. Yesterday's feature piece primarily highlighted a hangup policy – support agents claimed a “requirement” to hang-up on phone-in customers immediately after reading from a script. This occurred upon calling for status updates on tickets, which were consistently met with the same response:

Our most recent investigative consumer report set forth a goal to evaluate Rockstar Games' customer service phone and email support. The company has been under fire lately resultant of hacked GTA V social accounts, whereupon users have lost access to their GTA accounts (a $60 purchase) – and their ability to play the game – and have been placed on indefinite hold for a resolution. In the case of one reader who reached-out to us, we were informed that Rockstar customer support “hung up” on the reader, an action that we viewed as inexcusable if true.

We set forth in search of that truth. Our recorded calls (and this story) can be found below.

A week of benchmarking behind us, we've now tested most major aspects of Rockstar's new GTA V PC release. We've elected to adopt the game into our test methodology for future component reviews, given its wide performance demands and load balancing between the CPU and GPU. This final GTA V benchmark looks at CPU bottlenecking at various resolutions and settings; we pit the 3570K, 4790K, FX-8320E, FX-8370E, FX-9690, G3258, and Athlon 760K against one another.

The selection casts a wide net for core count and price points, hopefully illustrating where CPU bottlenecks may appear in playing GTA V.

GTA V shipped alongside an onslaught of graphics settings – none of which offer tool-tips – that can vastly control the fluidity of gameplay. In our recent and comprehensive GTA V benchmark, we tested multiple video cards for FPS at simple “max” and “high” settings, fluctuating resolution between 1080, 1440, and 4K along the way. That content now behind us, we took the opportunity to objectively benchmark various graphics settings for performance differences, then took a few screenshots for comparison of those settings.

This GTA V optimization guide assists in choosing the best graphics settings for frame-limited video cards, explaining the options along the way.

Following our GTA V benchmark from yesterday, we decided to embark on a mission to determine the impact of texture qualities on system performance and visual acuity. We took screenshots of identical objects at Very High, High, and Normal texture resolutions at 4K, then compared the textures in combined screenshots. During this process, maximum theoretical VRAM consumption and texture quality impact on FPS and tearing were also analyzed, resulting in a specific settings benchmark for GTA V.

The launch of GTA V ($60) saw the publication of our video card benchmark earlier today, which looked at the performance of various configurations playing the new open world game. In the process of testing video cards – and while speaking with others who've attempted to play GTA V – we found several bugs and crashes that require attention.

The game is better-optimized than most day-1 PC titles, something for which Rockstar deserves credit, but still falls short for a few users. This article looks at GTA V crash fixes, black screens, frame stutter / drops, and lag and offers some work-arounds and solutions.

It's finally here.

Grand Theft Auto V took its time to migrate to PC, and from our preliminary overview and testing, it seems like the wait was worthwhile. GTA V's PC port exhibits unique PC features, like a VRAM consumption slider indicative of the maximum VRAM requirement of the current settings. The port also added first-person mode, complete with new 3D models and animations for the characters' arms, phone, guns, and what-have-you. As you'll find out in our benchmark results below, the game is also incredibly well-optimized across most graphics card configurations, something we can't say has been true for most games in recent history.

These things take time, and RockStar certainly took as much of that as it needed.

Using a suite of video cards spanning the Titan X, SLI GTX 980s, R9 290X and 270Xs, GTX 960s, 750 Ti cards, and more, we benchmarked GTA V in an intensive test. This GTA V PC benchmark compares FPS of various graphics cards at maximum settings in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.

This article makes no intentions to comment on gameplay value.

Epic Games on Level Design Psychology

By Published April 10, 2015 at 8:30 am

The East Coast Game Conference often feels like the “Epic Games Conference.” The show is indisputably dominated by local heavyweight Epic Games of Unreal fame, leveraging its home-field advantage to offer paneled insights on the game development process.

In hot pursuit of Bioware's humbling keynote on storytelling and narrative, we attended an Epic Games panel on the topic of Unreal Tournament's symbiotic, community-based development endeavors. The panel was headed-up by Senior Designer Jim Brown, an industry veteran who agreed to an on-camera discussion pertaining to oft-untold level design tactics.

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