Our third and final interview featuring Scott Wasson, current AMD RTG team member and former EIC of Tech Report, has just gone live with information on GPU architecture. This video focuses more on a handful of reader and viewer questions, pooled largely from our Patreon backer discord, with the big item being “GPU IPC.” Patreon backer “Streetguru” submitted the question, asking why a ~1300~1400MHz RX 480 could perform comparably to an ~1800MHz GTX 1060 card. It’s a good question – it’s easy to say “architecture,” but to learn more about the why aspect, we turned to Wasson.
The main event starts at 1:04, with some follow-up questions scattered throughout Wasson’s explanation. We talk about pipeline stage length and its impact on performance, wider versus narrower machines with frequencies that match, and voltage “spent” on each stage.
We’ll leave this content piece primarily to video, as Wasson does a good job to convey the information quickly.
In this final part of our recent Cloud Imperium Games LA office tour, we conclude by talking with Technical Director Sean Tracy about upcoming technology to be shown at CitizenCon. The annual Star Citizen backer event will take place on October 9, Sunday, at ~3PM PST.
Until then, this discussion dives into new character technology that will be shown at the event, resource consumption and management, CPU thread assignment and the jobs engine, headbob and image stabilization, and authoring tools for Star Citizen. The previous three parts of this tour can be found at the links below:
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.
We've been following Star Citizen fairly extensively since its 2012 campaign. As journalists, part of the job is "discovering" games before they make it big; I always task writers with dedicating some portion of our time at PAX to discovering indie games, the hope being that one goes mainstream after we've made it in the door early. I vividly remember Star Citizen hitting the $800,000 mark on Kickstarter and feeling like I'd missed the boat for journalistic success -- it was at the height of its campaign and everyone else had already started talking about it. Even still, we linked up with CIG CEO & Chairman Chris Roberts to discuss technology in-depth (lots of hardware conversation in that link), which had been entirely unexplored up until that point. It's still one of my favorite articles I've worked on, and much of that content remains relevant through today. Funny how much I've learned since then, too.
Months later, we caught up with Roberts at PAX East 2013 shortly before a discussion panel (filmed). Fast forward to July, and we found ourselves at the Cloud Imperium Games office in Santa Monica. At this point, Roberts' next major goal was $21 million; that'd allow him the freedom of ditching private investors in favor of crowd-sourcing the entire game, he told us, and it was no longer a pipe dream to do so. Everyone in the room knew the funding target was on the horizon, it was just a matter of when. I don't think any of us could have told you that Star Citizen would be sitting at $42 million -- more than double our July meeting -- less than a year later.
We've been covering the Orcs Must Die! series since its inception -- actually, it was one of our very first camera interviews ever -- and have followed it through the second iteration. The first OMD shipped as a single-player, traps-oriented game that encouraged Rube Goldberg-lite combos to pulverize orcs. The idea centered on tower defense mechanics (prevent the bad guys from getting to the end) mixed with on-the-ground action-RPG mechanics. The second game -- cleverly named "Orcs Must Die! 2" -- introduced co-operative play between two players. It was a much-needed refresh that we largely enjoyed within our team.
I suppose I'll take the opportunity to mention that OMD! is made by Robot Entertainment, a studio that's largely formed of refugees from Microsoft's now-dissolved Ensemble Studios - the makers of Age of Empires and other RTS games.
The newest game was unveiled at PAX East 2014 this weekend and brings F2P 5v5 combat to the series. In playing Unchained on-site, the game felt like one part MOBA, one part action-RPG, and many parts Orcs Must Die! (that is to say: blood, giblets, and gratuitous amounts of cartoon death). Let's do the interview thing before we jump to further details:
Active game-buyers of the 2006-2007 era would likely recognize Dreamfall’s box art immediately, whether or not they played it; Zoë’s pink tank-top and contrasting dark hair made for perhaps one of the only game boxes of the period to present a female character in, y’know, clothes. The game received critical acclaim for its narrative-driven approach to play, and although it did have some scrutinized combat and stealth mechanics, it was always about the story. Players were left hanging at the end of the game, eagerly awaiting the continuation of the story in what would become Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey.
But then all went silent.
THQ subsidiary Volition has gained global recognition for its development of the Saints Row titles, easily the most purely ridiculous games on the market. In a good way. In a discussion panel at The Escapist Expo this weekend, Volition Creative Director Steve Jaros gave insight to the studio's game design process, the distinction and initial competition between GTA and Saints Row, and the studio's bankruptcy and subsequent purchase.
Jaros' topics included: Volition's sources for inspiration, their shock when GTA's first foray into gang-related storylines was announced, writing lines for voice actors, hiring celebrities for in-game personalities, and beloved game design concepts that never shipped. Even if you're not a big Saints Row fan, it's worth watching the first 10 minutes if only to learn about the studio's philosophy and the industry's interactions.
For at least a year now -- maybe two -- we've kept Plantronics' GameCom 780 headset at the top of our peripheral referral list. It's affordable, now priced firmly at $55, powerful, well-equipped for stream-quality broadcast, and durable.
As much as we've come to endorse the 780, it's still a mid-range headset; there's an entire spectrum of quality out there, as with all components, and we've yet to explore the top-tier headsets in any officially-published capacity. That changes today, courtesy of SteelSeries' new Siberia Elite headset.
We had a chance to get a hands-on with the new SteelSeries Siberia Elite headset and its accompanying software revamp while at PAX Prime last weekend. Let's hit the specs before further discussion:
Given our dedication to DIY system building, we've historically been wary of system assembly companies and still maintain that building your own rig is the best option. That stated, there are a number of legitimate reasons to contract your build out to an assembly company: Maybe there are time constraints, or maybe the system is a gift / not for you, or maybe you need a half-way step between the Dells and HPs of the world and a DIY machine.
We've been wanting to post a round-up of all the major system builders for a while now; with the rise of companies like Origin PC, Digital Storm, CyberPower, iBuyPower, and plenty of others, we've heard enough horror stories and high praise to thoroughly confuse newcomers to the market. The issues that arise with system building organizations is often one of quality of service and price: We've received numerous consumer complaints over CyberPower shipping rigs in such a way that the weight of the video cards rips the PCI-e sockets from the board, and I've personally commented on their $50 charge for a 20% overclock -- which can be done in 5 minutes.
After talking with Origin PC Product Manager Jorge Percival at PAX Prime 2013, we're a bit more hopeful about the future of pre-build companies. Let's hit the video before discussing why we walked away with that feeling.
If you've ever been to a major LAN event or gaming convention (or, y'know, the internet), you've probably seen case mods. They're some of the most inspirational creations when it comes to upcoming system build projects for GN's staff, and if you've seen our recent "best system builds of PAX" gallery, it's easy to see why we get so excited about sleeving and painting.
It's intimidating to jump into case modding, though, and while our team has done half a dozen mods, we're certainly no experts. That's why we recruited Bob Stewart and Rod Rosenberg of BSMods -- makers of the Rosewill Throne Industrial mod we showcased -- to give us a top-level "how-to" guide to case modding and PC painting.
If you're looking for the getting started guide for performance tuning, check out our Overclocking Primer.
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