AMD may have inadvertently given out information today that could narrow down the release window for their upcoming Ryzen CPUs. The possible release date information was provided by a panel description for the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC), where AMD will host a panel detailing Zen optimization techniques for programmers. GDC 2017 takes place from February 27-March 3. This coupled with the AMD panel description from the GDC website (and our own digging while at CES) tells us that Ryzen will ship at the end of February.
In the original panel description (that has since been changed), AMD was asking session attendees to join their “Game Engineering team members for an introduction to the recently-launched AMD Ryzen CPU.” “Recently-launched” is the key phrase and indicates that the Ryzen CPU would likely already be available prior to GDC 2017, which again is February 27-March 3.
In a hands-on demonstration at GDC 2016, Logitech showcased its newest G900 Chaos Spectrum “wired-wireless” gaming mouse. We've got the unit in-hand and are running extensive battery life testing prior to publication, but for today, we're covering initial specs, wireless range, and engineering. The below interview hosts Chris Pate, Logitech's Gaming Portfolio Manager, who speaks to testing, engineering, range and accuracy of wireless mice, and wireless mouse misconceptions.
The goal with the $150 G900 Chaos Spectrum mouse (the “spectrum” means “RGB,” in Logitech's branding) was to create a high-precision wireless mouse that's ready to be taken on tournament weekends, without charge. The unit can extract an advertised ~32 hours from its battery under the right conditions – namely disabling the lights – or about 24 hours of gaming use when running the LEDs. A braided cable is provided for charging or wired use (“wired-wireless”) and the mouse can charge while being used with the cable.
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.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare builds upon mechanics instituted by Torn Banner's critically acclaimed Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, preceded by Source Engine mod Age of Chivalry. The team's humble beginnings were rocketed ever upwards by Valve's placement of Age of Chivalry on the official Steam store – the first of three mods to receive such an accolade. Its peers, Dystopia and Insurgency, have also gone on to establish studios.
Mirage significantly changes the top-level gameplay from what's been experienced in Torn Banner's previous titles, but does so without shaking the foundation. Low-level gameplay elements remain intact with the new title, including swing mechanics (follow-through mouse drags that impact outcome) and the psychology-driven design approach to competitive play. Importantly, Mirage now absolves itself of largely physical combat with a new-found dedication to – go figure – arcane sorcery.
Epic Games made the most of the its stage at GDC 2016. In the company's “State of Unreal” panel, CEO Tim Sweeney packed in as much news in as he could – an empowered battle against CryEngine's latest announcements. The success of the latest iteration of the Unreal Engine was a focus point; according to Sweeney, Unreal Engine 4 now has over 1.5 million users, and the seven largest franchises on the engine have generated over $1 billion in sales each.
The Unreal Engine news wasn't limited to larges titles, though. Last year, Epic announced a grant for indie developers using the Unreal Engine and, not to be outdone by CryEngine's $1 million indie fund, Epic increased their grant from $800,000 to $1.2 million. Epic is additionally partnering with HTC and Valve to bring 500 Vive units to indie developers to increase the development of VR titles.
GDC 2016 marks further advancement in game graphics technology, including a somewhat uniform platform update across the big three major game engines. That'd be CryEngine (now updated to version V), Unreal Engine, and Unity, of course, all synchronously pushing improved game fidelity. We were able to speak with nVidia to get in-depth and hands-on with some of the industry's newest gains in video game graphics, particularly involving voxel-accelerated ambient occlusion, frustum tracing, and volumetric lighting. Anyone who's gained from our graphics optimization guides for Black Ops III, the Witcher, and GTA V should hopefully enjoy new game graphics knowledge from this post.
The major updates come down the pipe through nVidia's GameWorks SDK version 3.1 update, which is being pushed to developers and engines in the immediate future. NVidia's GameWorks team is announcing five new technologies at GDC:
Volumetric Lighting algorithm update
Voxel-Accelerated Ambient Occlusion (VXAO)
High-Fidelity Frustum-Traced Shadows (HFTS)
Flow (combustible fluid, fire, smoke, dynamic grid simulator, and rendering in Dx11/12)
GPU Rigid Body tech
This article introduces the new technologies and explains how, at a low-level, VXAO (voxel-accelerated ambient occlusion), HFTS (high-fidelity frustum-traced shadows), volumetric lighting, Flow (CFD), and rigid bodies work.
Readers interested in this technology may also find AMD's HDR display demo a worthy look.
Before digging in, our thanks to nVidia's Rev Lebaredian for his patient, engineering-level explanation of these technologies.
We welcomed AMD's Scott Wasson on-camera at the company's Capsaicin event, where we also spoke to Roy Taylor about driver criticism and covered roadmap updates. Wasson was eager to discuss new display technology demonstrated at the event and highlighted a critical shift toward greater color depth and vibrancy. We saw early samples of HDR screens at CES, but the Capsaicin display was far more advanced.
But that's not all we spoke about. As a site which prides itself on testing frame delivery consistency (we call them “low frametimes” – 1% and 0.1% lows), it made perfect sense to speak with frametime testing pioneer Scott Wasson about the importance of this metric.
For the few unaware, Wasson founded the Tech Report and worked as the site's Editor-in-Chief up until January, at which time he departed as EIC and made a move to AMD. Wasson helped pioneer “frametime testing,” detailed in his “Inside the Second” article, and we'd strongly recommend a read.
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