A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the venerable Tim Rogers, an opinionated games writer if ever there was one. Here's the fun thing about Rogers, though: If you were to shuffle one of his reviews in with those of ten other game reviewers, his piece would stand out like the Batman in daylight, foremost for one obvious reason -- it'd be really, really long. Rogers meanders all over the place, delving into each aspect of a game, as well as many things seemingly unrelated, which he then acknowledges as seemingly unrelated. Sometimes, after noticing that 15 minutes have ticked away from your life and your web browser's scroll bar thing is only half-way down the page, you just wish he'd get to the point.
Rogers, as far as game reviewers go, is an anomaly. People don't want a novel; they want pros, cons, and a numerical score, because they'd rather be dashing someone's virtual brains against the pavement than learning. So I guess it kind of makes sense that games generally exist on the flipside of that reviewing stereotype.
Take, for instance, Resident Evil. Find the red lion, blue tiger, and green goat to form a key so that you can crank open the Voltron door. Sure, your gun-toting pyromaniac of a hero probably could've written a book titled "101 Ways To Pop A Door Off Its Hinges," but where's the fun in that?
Oddly, even though we constantly quip about padded-out sequences or pointless sidequests in our favorite games, we sound the sirens on the whaaambulance when those elements finally take a hint.
So which do you want? Games that toss in chores and fetch quests in exchange for that ever so marketable "60 hours of gameplay!" bullet point, or masterfully designed experiences -- like Portal -- that leave you hungry for more?
Well, today's Roundup, described by some as a "masterfully designed experience -- like Portal -- that leaves you hungry for more," hopes to satisfy all comers. Caged within, you'll find stories about a bill of rights for PC gamers, a new race for StarCraft II, and free gas! You heard me -- free gas! It's all after the break.
The abandoned remains of EarthLink’s ambitious free WiFi service are scattered across various U.S cities. Many of the WiFi networks that EarthLink founded have been rescued by private investors and saved from their inevitable demise. The latest savior happens to be Google, which has decided to run the WiFi network in Milpitas. It has joined hands with I-Net Solutions and a few others to save the network. There will be no access fee unlike the time when EarthLink ran this particular network . The Milpitas network didn't figure on EarthLink's list of free WiFi networks.
Forget about daytime television, the real drama takes place in the tech industry. Intel and Nvidia's relationship can be described as rocky at best, and now the GPU maker has said it will make "a significant investment in optimizing software" for VIA's Nano processor. VIA's low power chip has already been spotted outperforming Intel's Atom CPU, making this latest announcement all the more interesting for anyone paying attention to the ultraportable market.
The announcement also puts to rest an earlier rumor alleging Nvidia of using its relationship with VIA as a bargaining chip with Intel. Recent speculation suggested Nvidia's motive all along was to convince Intel to let its Atom processor support Nvidia's MCP73 IGP chipset, and in return, the GPU maker would terminate its alliance with VIA.
With the ultraportable market seemingly exploding as of late, should Intel be worried about a more solidfied relationship between Nvidia and VIA?
Comcast made it official today by announcing it will introduce bandwidth caps to all residential customers starting on October 1, 2008. The ISP describes the 250GB per month cap as "an extremely large amount of data," noting that a large majority of customers will never cross it. Or will they?
Comcast says that the 250GB cap is enough to send about 50 million emails, download 62,500 songs, download 125 standard-definition movies, or upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos. Put into that kind of perspective, 250GB seems plenty for all but the most bandwidth hungry users, who tend to be up to no good anyway. The ISP also notes that the bandwidth cap represents the same policy that has already been in place, except with more explicit numbers outlining what is and isn't allowed.
"As part of our preexisting policy, we will continue to contact the top users of hour high-speed internet service and ask them to curb their usage," the company told ArsTechnica. "If a customer uses more than 250GB and is one of the top users of our service, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use."
Previous speculation of Comcast's impending bandwidth cap pointed towards a $15 fee for every 10GB customers go over the limit, but a cursory glance at the company's FAQ page doesn't appear to make mention of overage penalties.
What are your thoughts on Comcast's decision to cap bandwidth?
Intel fans be polite and stifle those snickers, but at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany, members of AwardFabrik.de managed to breach 4GHz on an AMD Phenom 9950 processor using liquid nitrogen cooling. Not without controversy, the feat failed to pass CPU-Z's validation.
Running at precisely 3952MHz, the team recorded a 19.954 second SuperPi 1M time, setting a new record for AMD processors. Other hardware used in the endeavor included a Foxconn A79-S motherboard and an OCZ 1KW power supply.
On a related side note, SuperPi may find itself being replaced as processor technology moves forward. While the world record for AMD CPUs now sits at just under 20 seconds, the record for an Intel processor is 7.14 seconds using an E8600 overclocked to 6376MHz, leaving little headroom for future record breaking attempts.
Some rumors just refuse to die, and one that refuses to stay buried is that Nvidia might be looking to enter the CPU market. On the surface, such a move would seem to make sense, as both AMD and Intel offer integrated CPU and GPU platforms. Speculation that Nvidia might develop a platform of its own has been particularly strong the past few months, and chairman Jen-Hsun Huang, a co-found of the company, only fueled the fire at his press conference on the opening day of NVISION, saying "we believe in x86...we believe in heterogeneous computing."
But while Huang has been hesitant to stomp on the rumor outright, Chris Malachowsky, another co-founder and senior vice president, went on the record with PC Pro as strongly denying the graphics chip maker would make such a move.
"That's not our business," Malachowsky said. "It's not our business to build a CPU. We're a visual computing company, and I think the reason we've survived the other 35 companies who were making graphics at the start is that we've stayed focused."
Malachowsky also pointed out Intel's marketshare dominance and financial strength in the CPU market as reasons why the Nvidia would be wise to steer clear.
Do you believe Malachowsky, or do you think the company will have a change of heart once Intel's Larrabee and AMD's Fusion start shipping?
Google inked another 3 year deal with Mozilla to remain the default search option in the open-source Firefox browser. Originally set to expire back in 2006, the deal was extended to 2008 and will now run through 2011.
"We're very, very happy about our relationship with Google," said John Lilly, Mozilla CEO, "and this makes sure that Mozilla will be sustainable and thrive for quite a long time to come."
Lilly has good reason to be happy, as the partnership netted Mozilla around $57 million in 2006 alone, or about 85 percent of the company's total revenue. The funds go towards paying staff, supporting its bandwidth and hardware infrastructure, and to distribute grants.
Google comes out ahead, too. As Firefox continues to grow its marketshare and increase its userbase, that means more searches and clicks for Google, which in turn translates to advertising revenue. But for as much as Google and Mozilla may seem intertwined, Mozilla maintains that the two operate independently.
"We develop our product and technical direction as part of an open process unrelated to the search relationship with Google," Mozilla wrote its 2006 Financial FAQ. "We talk to Google about the parts of the product that offer Google services (i.e., the Firefox Start Page) and the services they provide, like anti-phishing. Otherwise Google does not have any special relationship to Mozilla project activities."
The Engineering Windows 7 (aka "e7") blog at MSDN is providing us with a useful look at how the performance of Windows 7 is being analyzed in this week's blog post. So, what are the major subsystems being analyzed? Some of them include:
Memory usage: trying to balance time versus space (disk, memory)
CPU utilization: keep it as low as possible to improve multi-user scenarios and reduce power consumption
Disk I/O: reading, writing, paging performance for both traditional and solid-state drives
Boot, Shutdown, Standby/Resume: working with system vendors to make these operations as fast as possible
Base system: balancing "on-demand" loading of resources with the need to keep performance at as high a level as possible
Disk footprint: working with the space demands of device drivers, help system, optional components, diagnostics, and logging information
To learn more about how Microsoft is performance-testing Windows 7, and how your comments can help shape Windows 7, join us after the jump.
I can't sate my Twitter addiction. I'm loathe to hit up my favorite gaming sites. I can't even allow my glance to linger on iGoogle. Why? Because PAX is in town, and I'm, well, not. Due to circumstances beyond my control, PAX is out of my reach this year. So while the hardest of the hardcore come together for a weekend of gaming goodness, I'm doing my best to avoid a jealousy-induced pity party. But, even though my non-presence at PAX is a huge loss for the entire gaming community, it got me thinking:
The PAXian legion, as I mentioned earlier, is predominately composed of so-called "hardcore" gamers. Without even being in the same state as the community-focused gaming expo, I can assure you that over 100 attendees will be clad in "Green Linen Shirt" T-Shirts, replete with armor stats and a sour tinge of body odor. Why? The answer's obvious: they're gamers -- and proud. For a number of reasons -- the medium's relative youth, alarmists' tendency to buzz about, etc. -- dedicated gamers embrace their hobby with a near religious fervor.
Sure, movies have "cinemaphiles" and literature has its bookworms, but gamers are Scientology to other mediums' group of co-workers who meet sporadically for a round of Putt-Putt. With time, I imagine our community will fragment -- genres will expand and tastes will narrow -- but for now, we're a thick stew, full of assorted meats and veggies, but still part of a cohesive whole.
So, do you call yourself a gamer? Are videogames an integral piece of your personality? Is your pride inextricably tied to your Gamerscore? Or are you just a person who happens to play games, and nothing more?
Today's Roundup is like a perfect sundae, with just enough gooey non-gamer-friendly fare drizzled over a vanilla base of terms like "ESA," "second-hand videogame sales," and "Starcraft II release date." There is a spoon, and it's after the break.
Eye-Fi, whose line of Wi-Fi-enabled SD cards caught our attention earlier this year, is back in the news: the new Nikon D90 DSLR joins its stablemate, the D60, as the second Eye-Fi-enabled camera.
What's New in the D90?
The D90, which makes its formal bow at Germany's Photokina trade show in late September, adds the ability to temporarily disable Eye-Fi transfer functions through the camera menu; a useful feature in hospitals, airplanes, or anywhere else where you want to prevent images from flying through the ether.