Here at Maximum PC, our goal is to bring you – our tear-jerkingly loyal readers – the world’s finest technology-based news. As you can imagine, this takes a tremendous amount of concentration and, well, you’ve seen the headline. After all, it’s kind of difficult to concentrate on news stories and other such frippery when – one screen away -- a Tank’s attempting to knock our head’s round peg into our torso’s square hole. Convergence, ain’t it grand?
Along with placing a “Web” tab on Steam’s in-game overlay screen, today’s update gives Steam’s five strings a tightening – the results of which you can see here:
Updated game overlay web browser to support generic web browsing, including web sites that use flash
Fixed games list scrolling behavior with pageup/pagedown and mouse wheel
Fixed GTA4 backups not restoring correctly
Fixed several cases where matchmaking would not work in Left 4 Dead in using Cafe accounts
Changed Friends to be enabled for Cafe accounts
Removed 'view invites' dialog on startup, now clicking on a group/user invite toast will take you directly to the Community control page
Fixed guest passes not showing immediately in games list
Fixed case where a user would be told a guest pass had expired after they had bought the full game
Improved Steam Windows Service restart logic in serveral places
It appears the Blu-ray format may finally be picking up steam. At CES, Andy Parsons, president of the Blu-ray Disc Association, described 2008 as a banner year for Blu-ray sales, and the numbers appear to back his claim. Fourth quarter sales saw 28.6 million Blu-ray sales, up significantly from 9.5 million a year prior. There are now nearly 11 million Blu-ray capable players in the U.S., although 6 million of those are PlayStation 3 consoles.
By comparison, in the same three year time frame after release, DVD players totaled 5.4 million units, not far above all non-PS3 Blu-ray players. And with 40 million homes equipped with HDTVs, there's plenty of room for Blu-ray player sales to grow. Helping to do that, 18 new Blu-ray players were announced at CES, including an HDTV with a built-in player by Sharp.
Despite Blu-ray's recent success, Microsoft reiterated it has no plans to integrate Blu-ray capability with its Xbox 360 console. According to Robbie Bach, Microsoft's president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, the decision comes down to a combination of not enough users requesting a Blu-ray player, and because it wouldn't help "in the core of what Xbox does, which is gaming."
CES there was a new kid on the block by the name of Disney Star Guitarist that was looking to teach you how to play an actual guitar instead of memorizing the five color-coded buttons.
The game works about the same as guitar hero, little gems float down the screen and once they hit a certain spot it’s up to you to place your fingers in the right place and strum (you can find a video here). Only this time, instead of the aforementioned color-coded buttons, you’re using actual strings, on an actual guitar.
Should the game actually be good enough to hold people’s attentions (read: not just Disney songs), there could be some real value here. After all, as a drummer I can see it as a good possibility for someone that plays Rock Band on the harder difficulties to hammer out a beat on a real kit. Perhaps the same rule could apply, once someone’s had enough opportunities to play “Hakuna Matata” on the 5-string?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and when the beholders are judges from Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), Acer's Aspire Predator G7000 series gaming PC has all the right curves. The rig's menacing aesthetics earned Acer WinHEC 2008's Industrial Design award, with one judge saying one look is all that's needed to know that the Predator G7000 is intended for gamers. The judge also noted the PC likely won't win favor among female consumers, but said that wasn't a bad thing, given that Acer's design nails its target audience.
From a hardware standpoint, the Predator G7000 comes with the option of either an overclocked AMD Phenom X4 or Intel Core 2 Quad processor, up to 8GB of DDR2-1066 RAM, and support for either ATI's CrossFire X or Nvidia's SLI dual-videocard technology. But it's the funky orange chassis with a mechanical bezel for easy access to four 3.5-inch HDD bays that ultimately won Acer the award.
Acer also won a Media & Entertainment award for its Aspire 8920G notebook with Blu-ray and full HD, and an Internet award for it's Aspire one Netbook.
“WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.”
WARNING: The above label could soon take top billing on all of your favorite game packages – that is, if Congressman Joe Baca has his way. Last week, he introduced the “Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009.” His reasoning? A masterpiece of misinformation.
“The videogame industry has a responsibility to parents, families and to consumers – to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products,” Baca said in a statement.
“They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility. Meanwhile research continues to show a proven link between playing violent games and increased aggression in young people. American families deserve to know the truth about these potentially dangerous products.”
Of course, Baca fails to mention the other, equally valid studies that kind of, you know, “prove” that gamers are, by and large, normal people. We think one of them might’ve been titled “Real Life.”
So yeah, odds are, this bill won’t be sitting on Capitol Hill for long. Sorry, Baca. Same time next week?
PC gaming’s anti-piracy measures seem to be proceeding along a path not unlike the one the games they’re sworn to protect once traveled. First, games (and anti-piracy) were merciless and cruel – prone to punishing players whether they succeeded or tattooed the underside of a tire with their pixilated frog’s surprisingly red guts. But now, times are a changin’. Today’s games are nice and gentle, giving players a gentle pat on the shoulder if they fail, and a big ol’ lie cake if they finish the fight.
Ok, enough with the overwrought metaphor.
See, with companies like Valve – and now Relic – in the picture, anti-piracy measures no longer have to punish gamers. As explained by Dawn of War II lead designer Jonny Ebbert:
“We want to give out steady doses of free downloadable content because we believe in rewarding people who buy the game and the reason we don’t like DRM solutions is because they punish the innocent and they have to jump through all these hoops.”
“We don’t want to do that so we’re going with the approach that Valve pioneered to just reward the people who actually bought the game with cool stuff,” he added. “Free downloadable, regularly accessible stuff that enhances the game and then that’s an incentive for the people who didn’t buy the game to buy it. So we’ve got a really bold, robust strategy for that and we’re going to be revealing more details in about a month, but I think players are going to like it.”
A robust open beta? No DRM? Free goodies on a regular basis? We're only nine days into 2009, and Relic may already have snatched the "Best Developer of 2009" award right out of our hearts. Bravo, guys and gals.
A bit of good news for those forced into a Twilight Zone-esque loop of reliving the Fallout 3 main quest’s final, anticlimactic seconds ad nauseam: the game’s upcoming “Broken Steel” DLC pack will remove its game-halting point-of-no-return.
And, as if the opportunity to spend eternity wandering an irradiated hell weren’t enough, Bethesda also intends to sow some growing room into your character’s jammies. Ten levels of growing room, to be exact.
"We plan on raising [the level cap] to level 30 - but it will be a long, hard climb to get there," Bethesda lead DLC producer Jeff Gardiner told Eurogamer.
The apparent increased leveling time should have many players sighing with relief, as ascending mountains of fallen foes to an absolute peak of level 20 wasn’t exactly difficult in a game of Fallout 3’s scale.
However, we have to ask: Why release the Broken Steel content pack – or at least a few of its features -- in March, after the other two content packs, titled “Operation: Anchorage” and “The Pitt,” have already come and gone? After all, many players have characters mired in save points near the game’s currently inescapable ending, while others hit the level cap long ago. Will they now be forced to resist the DLC’s allure until March if they wish to enjoy it to its fullest?
Asus is here in full force at CES, showing off their vast selection of netbooks and notebooks. We darted straight to the systems that featured the most updates to existing lineups, including the 1000HE, S121, and 101H tablet. We also got our hands on Asus's newly announced W90Vp gigantic gaming laptop. 18.4 inches comes close to Dell and HP's record of 20.1 inches in their previous lap crushers, and is still too unwieldy, in our opinion. Still, we admire the effort and can't help but be awed by the alleged 15000+ 3DMark 2006 score in this "portable" beast.
With competition from Gateway and HP, affordable gaming boxes are becoming all the rage and Dell has every intention of participating. The OEM has just launched the XPS 625, a sub-$1000 desktop with a modest spec sheet.
Dell, a longtime lover of Intel, turns to AMD this time around. The affair breathes hot and heavy with AMD's Dragon platform, including configuration options of the fresh out of the oven Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition processor (3.0GHz), dual ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics cards, up to 8GB of memory, a10K RMP hard drive (interestingly this can only be added as an "additional hard drive"), and Windows Vista 64-bit. Dell says the entire system is overclockable through AMD's performance tuning software, and as just configured, it's all going to cost a shade over $2000.
To keep things under a grand, the XPS 625's base configuration consists of an AMD Athlon X2 5600+ Black Edition processor (2.9GHz), 2GB of DDR2-800 RAM, 500GB hard drive, ATI Radeon 4670 videocard, DVD burner, and Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit.
After the thrashing Intel doled out with its Core 2 and now Core i7 platforms, one might accuse AMD of having its head in the clouds for the past couple of years. Now AMD really is looking to the cloud, but not the way you probably imagined. The struggling chip maker announced at CES a plan to shake up the "deployment, development, and delivery of HD content" by building a massively-parallel supercomputer that will give home to the "AMD Fusion Render Cloud."
"Seven out of 10 of the world’s fastest machines, including the fastest two computers on the planet, are powered by AMD hardware,” said Dirk Meyer, AMD President and CEO. "Today, AMD is pleased to announce a new kind of supercomputer unlike any other ever built. It is being designed to break the one petaFLOPS barrier, and to process a million compute threads across more than 1,000 graphics processors. We anticipate it to be the fastest graphics supercomputer ever."
AMD says its scalable graphics supercomputer will make it possible for content providers to deliver videogames, computer apps, and any other graphically intensive application through the Cloud to mobile devices with a web browser, and without sucking the battery life out of the units since both the movie and gaming chores will be rendered server-side.
Looking at the hardware, AMD says its Fusion Render Cloud will include AMD parts (duh) like the newly minted Phenom II processors, AMD 790 chipsets, and ATI Radeon 4870 GPUs.
Do you see this as being a game changer for AMD, or game over for a company with enough on its plate already? Hit the jump and sound off!