Look what the mail truck dragged in! After first announcing the X8 in early September (where we got our first look and photos of the mouse), Microsoft has finally shipped the latest addition to the Sidewinder gaming mouse family. The X8 adopts Microsoft’s proprietary Bluetrack technology, which empowers it with 4000 DPI tracking resolution (scalable from 500) and the ability to work on almost any surface. We tested this claim on five different surfaces, from a rough wood desk to Styrofoam board and even coarse carpet. The mouse worked fine (though understandable not perfectly smooth) on all of our test surfaces, and only failed when we tried moving it over glass.
The shipping version doesn’t differ much from the pre-production model we fondled back in September, and retained the nice grip and smart button placement that we liked from our first hands-on. The included rechargable battery was a cinch to install, and tethering the mouse to the thin magnetic cord didn’t hinder our sweeping mouse movements. The wireless receiver is built into a clunky puck-like disc that sits on your desk, which ensures that you get better reception than if the receiver was hidden on a USB key behind your PC. The X8 still feels big for some hands, but our initial impression is that this is a winner. We’ll post our full review soon, but for now, enjoy these sexy unboxing and handling photos.
Comparing Age of Conan’s dark, blood-splattered fantasy world to those of its competitors is like comparing night to day, so we suppose it’s only fitting that we can’t really see a light at the end of this tunnel.
Age of Conan developer Funcom recently announced its relocation to the pointy edge of a quickly crumbling cliff (artist’s depiction here) – reporting that it lost $23.3 million during its fourth quarter of 2008. The culprit: Age of Conan’s free-falling subscription numbers, which now sit at a mere 100,000 after reaching an all-time high of 700,000.
On top of that, Funcom CFO Olav Sandnes decided to risk a dip in the economy’s increasingly choppy waters rather than continue with Funcom, announcing his resignation with all the optimism he could muster.
"Funcom is a company with a substantial potential based on a unique combination of skill sets in a fast growing global market. I wish Trond Aas and the rest of the organization all the best in realizing the full potential of the company," he said.
Videogames? In web browsers? When did this happen? Boy howdy – next thing you know, they’ll be putting those suckers in televisions. What a world.
Fortunately, if you’d like to set up shop on the ground floor of this sure-to-be revolution, you’ll soon have the opportunity to frag a Firefox with Quake Live. Or frag inside a Firefox. We’re not sure which, but both options sound equally awesome.
The free-to-play, browser-based edition of Quake III Arena will flip its window sign around from “Closed” to “Open” on February 24, assuming the above official teaser isn’t some kind of mirage brought on by living in a world without Quake Live for so many years’ worth of when-it’s-dones.
So, who plans on joining us when we christen a very special new browser tab on Tuesday?
The original Mass Effect may still be priming the DLC buffet for one or two more bites, but that isn’t stopping BioWare from slipping gamers a small dose of its sequel.
The trailer in question can be seen here, and – for those who are deathly afraid of even the remote possibility of a Rickroll and would rather not click that link – not-so-vaguely suggests that Commander Shepard (your main guy or gal in Mass Effect) suffered a quick and clean off-screen death. And a permanent one at that – not simply due to bad camera angles.
But, to be honest, we’re thinking the rumors of Shepard’s death have been greatly exaggerated, mostly because the only other tidbit BioWare’s dropped concerning 2Mass2Furious involves reusing save files from Mass Effect – probably for stat boosts, character profiles, and other such pieces of space bling. Otherwise, BioWare could’ve tossed in a few “So, how about that one guy who saved the universe that one time?” questions, ala Knights of the Old Republic 2, and called it a day.
Stanford Professor Byron Reeves is a Planeteer, and you can be one too -- if you’re an MMORPG player. Reeves’ plan hedges its bets on the idea that you’re willing to install a Smart Meter, a device that monitors electricity usage in your house and sends a report of your wasteful excesses to power companies.
However, instead of giving power companies the skinny on your war against the Energizer Bunny, Reeves hopes to send pertinent information to games like World of Warcraft. He outlined his energy-saving plan during radio show Living on Earth’s Green Gaming segment:
"So imagine that you're in your home, you're signed into [the] game… and you make a decision in the game to turn off the lights in an unused bedroom [in real life]. As soon as you do that, the Smart Meter recognizes that, sends the information through the network to your computer and your house [in the game] turns a shade of green that it wasn't before,” he explained.
“And if I'm using less electricity, my team might do well. I get gold pieces and points… whatever the game designers think is fun. You get feedback in an entertainment game about what you're doing in the real world."
Sounds good to us, though implementing it – especially in a game as colossal as World of Warcraft – might be a bit rough. Then again, Blizzard did invent a race of hippie cow-people, so you never know.
Nvidia this week released new WHQL GeForce drivers for GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, and 200-series owners. The new drivers, version 182.06, promise around a 10 percent performance increase in Fallout 3 at high resolution with AA, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Half Life 2 at high resolution with AA, the insanely entertaining Left 4 Dead at high resolution with AA, and Race Driver: GRID, also at high resolution with AA.
In addition to double-digit performance boosts, Nvidia says its new drivers include full support for OpenGL 3.0 on GeForce 8, 9, and 200 series GPUs and automatically installs the new PhysX software (version 9.090203. The drivers also fix a bug in Vista 32-bit where GeForce 9800 GTX/GX2/GT/GTX+ and 8800 GTS/GT/GS owners experienced a system hang when switching between performance states.
You should be excited about this. Like, sure-let’s-raise-and-drop-the-New-Year’s-Ball-again excited. If you don’t know why, here’s some homework.
Anyway, at today’s Valve DICE keynote, Gabe Newell announced that a series of Valve-penned comics are setting up shop on Valve’s Monopoly map, and – even better – that they will receive their Certified Fine Art status from the team responsible for Valve’s “Meet the” series of Team Fortress 2 movies.
Ahem. Apparently, the comic is meant to “excite customers about the company’s games outside of creating game content.”
Delightful. 2009 is now officially Best Year of the Century.
So you’re looking for a new gaming rig, but all those Mid-ATX beasties just aren’t what you’re looking for, huh? Direct your eyes to Shuttle’s new SDXi Carbon, a beautiful, power packed box with a price tag to match!
The SDXi Carbon measures in at only 7.3 x 7.9 x 12.2-inches and packs a 3GHz Core 2 Duo E8400. It has the option of 2, 4, or 8GB of RAM, anywhere from 250GB to 2TB of HDD capacity, an Nvidia powered GPU, gigabit Ethernet and optional WiFi.
And it’ll all cost you a beefy $2,599, at its very base. What’s all this about a recession now?
In a document recently obtained by VE3D, publisher NCSoft announced that Guild Wars 2 won’t be nestling up inside your hard drive until – at the earliest – 2010. Prior to that, the game was scheduled to enter beta during 2008. However, developer ArenaNet screen-blurred into an entirely different flashback, saying that NCSoft’s purported release window for Guild Wars 2 is pretty much hogwash.
“On Friday, NCsoft released investor materials that showed a very broad release window for Guild Wars 2, with the explanation that release timing is still ‘to be announced.’ ArenaNet has never given a release date for Guild Wars 2 other than ‘when it's done.’ NCsoft's investor materials are a reflection of that philosophy,” said ArenaNet’s Mike O’Brien.
“I know some fans had hoped for a smaller gap between the launch of Guild Wars: Eye of the North and the start of beta testing for Guild Wars 2, but we communicated last summer that it would be some time before we could commit to any beta or launch dates. Guild Wars 2 is a large and ambitious game, and we're going to take the time to do it right.”
So then, maybe the game will take its first wobbly steps in 2010 or 2011. Maybe even later than that. 2009, though? You can stop holding your breath now.
We hate jumping the gun on things, but we’re feeling pretty confident in our expert assessment that StarCraft II might just drop in 2009. Hell, it’s about time. Today’s announcement that the sci-fi head of Blizzard’s quality-focused hydra is “in the final stretch,” then, already has us jumping the gun on StarCraft II’s release date. And you know how much we hate that.
“We don't want to lie about the Beta, and we don't even want to lie about the next Battle Report. When we know a date (for anything) for certain, we'll let you know,” said StarCraft II lead designer Dustin Browder.
“Hang in there. We're in the final stretch,” he added.
So yeah, that’s basically the article. Thanks for coming out tonight, everyone! It’s been great.