Total War: Warhammer demonstrates a natural, synergistic fusion of two genres -- the long-standing grand-strategy games, Total War, and even longer-standing Warhammer tabletop game. Campaigns in the Warhammer universe like Storm of Chaos have given way to Total War-like experiences; armies roam the world map, growing or unfurling (or ‘crumbling’) with wins and losses. At the same time, combat in Total War has kept its structure and mechanics: units travel in tightly-knit groups, facing and flanking are important parts of the battle, and strategic map utilization can make-up for troop count disparities. Then, of course, having a strong general and maintaining troop morale dictate most heavily the staying power of military forces.

All these points are shared by the Warhammer tabletop game. As much sense as the partnership makes, it marks an astounding new venture for the Total War team -- a first venture into a fantastical environ.

Following its content-devoid GDC unveil, Obsidian's new “Tyranny” RPG revitalizes the Pillars of Eternity engine, but slaps a new, eviler-than-thou visage on top. We were given a hands-off preview of Tyranny and its single-player, four-character approach to classic RPG progression. The unveil demonstrated Tyranny's unique take on the player's role within conflict, acting an arbiter to warring factions and issuing fate-binding edicts.

Coincidentally, the player's characters are “Fatebinders” – archetypes we'd traditionally see as “bad guys” in standard RPGs, but they're clearly working only in the best interests of Terratus' inhabitants. Where the Lawful Good types might facetiously ask, “who are we to judge the fate of these townsfolk?” the Fatebinders would answer, “uh, that'd be us. Over here, in the red-and-black and radiating evil.”

Some simulations take liberties with real-world scenarios to guarantee a fun, playable experience: using rockets to propel oneself upward, for instance, is not a good idea in real life; swimming in plate armor while wielding a greatsword – probably not realistic; political negotiations where the net result is forward momentum – totally immersion-breaking.

While at GDC 2016 (full coverage here), we got a hands-off preview of upcoming City Ruler “Urban Empire.” Urban Empire is a mix of city building mechanics and diplomatic/political negotiations, bridging two specific genres into a uniquely strategic amalgam.

Art asset creation was one of our key points of discussion at GDC 2016. Speaking with CryEngine, we revealed some of the particle effects and computational fluid simulation performed at the engine-level – stuff that really drives games we play in the visuals department. Textures and “painted” objects are also a critical point for discussion, an aspect of game art that software tools creator Allegorithmic is intimately familiar with. Allegorithmic's “Substance” software tools are distributed to and used by major triple-A studios, including Activision's Call of Duty teams, Naughty Dog (Uncharted 4), Redstorm (Rainbow Six: Siege), and more.

In this behind-the-scenes discussion on game creation, we talk GPU resource limitations, physically-based rendering, and define different types of “maps” (what are normal, specular, diffuse maps?). For a previous discussion on PBR (“What is Physically-Based Rendering?”), check out last year's Crytek interview; PBR, for point of reference, is being used almost everywhere these days – but got major attention with its Star Citizen integration.

EverQuest was the first MMORPG of its technological and social scale, eventually growing to a volume of millions of players and landing on the “traditional news” cycles to spotlight the outliers. It was a period of firsts: people getting married in-game eventually became real-world spouses, in some cases; we recall a 2005 story of a newborn being named after Fioriona Vie, in another. But for the more casual players – those who did treat EverQuest as more of a game and less of a social hub – its MMORPG mechanics and 3D landscape offered a sense of wonder and exploration, blinding us to the underlying grind.

The original, pre-PoP game wouldn't hold up today. Were EverQuest to release now, even with updated graphics, it wouldn't make quite the splash; too much has changed, and gamers experienced with MMOs are no longer able to see past the grindy nature of many of today's MMORPGs.

Brad McQuaid, the man who brought us the vision of EverQuest and Vanguard, is now working on Visionary Realms' Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. The MMO hopes to blend classic RPG elements that have faded – common areas of meeting, more co-operative PvE that builds friendships, and fascinating landscapes – with new gameplay mechanics, culling some of the old-school grind in between.

In our latest graphics technology interview – one of many from GDC 2016 – we spoke with Crytek's Frank Vitz about CryEngine's underlying graphics tech. Included in the discussion is a brief-but-technical overview of DirectX 12 integration (and why it's more than just a wrapper), particle FX, audio tech, and more.

This is following Crytek's announcement on CryEngine V (published here), where we highlighted the company's move to fully integrate DirectX 12 into the new CryEngine. As an accompaniment to this interview, we'd strongly encourage a read-through of our 2000-word document on new graphics technologies shown at GDC 2016.

Anyone remember Games for Windows Live? It was that parasitic entanglement of PTSD-inducing software, purpose-built to drive legitimate game buyers to piracy. GFWL clung to life as an early scout SCV might – or StarCraft 2 at all, for that matter. Games for Windows Live lived a relatively short life, but each day of its existence felt like eternity spent in a quagmire haunted by the crushed souls of developers pressured into marketing deals with Microsoft, watching in abject horror as their games received lashings for interminable crashes and login bugs.

Mercifully, it was killed. Put down and leaving developers to scramble and update a few good legacy games – DiRT 3, Batman, and Street Fighter included – to work without the GFWL lifeline. Or anchor, as it were.

Good news! The Gears of War Ultimate Edition is coming to PC. Windows made this surprise announcement just today -- but for some reason this announcement comes with a little deja vu. Why does it feel so familiar?

Here’s one reason: It was almost 10 years ago… Halo 2 was finally, after three long years, coming to PC; but what we weren’t prepared for was:

Ashes of Singularity has become the poster-child for early DirectX 12 benchmarking, if only because it was the first-to-market with ground-up DirectX 12 and DirectX 11 support. Just minutes ago, the game officially updated its early build to include its DirectX 12 Benchmark Version 2, making critical changes that include cross-brand multi-GPU support. The benchmark also made updates to improve reliability and reproduction of results, primarily by giving all units 'god mode,' so inconsistent deaths don't impact workload.

For this benchmark, we tested explicit multi-GPU functionality by using AMD and nVidia cards at the same time, something we're calling “SLIFire” for ease. The benchmark specifically uses MSI R9 390X Gaming 8G and MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G cards vs. 2x GTX 970s, 1x GTX 970, and 1x R9 390X for baseline comparisons.

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