It may not be able to brag about escaping from the labs of Valve or Crytek, but that's no reason to discount Simutronics' HeroEngine. After all, BioWare, in its never-ending quest to unite as many seemingly made-up words as possible (Simutronics?), is using it for its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. And, no offense, but we think they know better than you. Probably.
“Our goal was to partner with a platform developer that knows online gaming and virtual world development, and the team at Simutronics has an excellent track record in that respect,” said Gordon Walton, Co-Studio Director at BioWare. “Their HeroEngine was specifically created for building MMOGs and it allows for a great amount of flexibility in the way our entire team collaborates.”
The HeroEngine allows developers to construct a game while playing on a server, meaning that a swing of the nerf bat will no longer take a couple weeks. Additionally, the engine eliminates "the need for nightly builds and code crunching, which significantly reduces the notoriously long MMOG development cycle." In short, this means that The Old Republic may actually escape from BioWare's tractor beam before the LHC comes back online and destroys us all.
Yeah, we're pretty determined to see this game end the world. What of it?
If you want to downgrade a Dell PC in the Inspiron 1525 notebook or 530 desktop line with Windows Vista to Windows XP, it's going to cost more than the $20-50 premium we told you about last summer for other Dell models. How much more? The difference between systems in the Inspiron 1525 and 530 series with Windows Vista and those with Windows Vista Bonus with Windows XP is $150. That's a huge difference, but the reason why isn't really Dell's fault, TG Daily reports. It's all about which Vista versions permit downgrades - and how much they cost.
So, what's going on? These models are normally shipped with Vista Basic SP1 or Vista Home Premium SP1, neither of which include downgrade rights to Windows XP. So, to get Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, which do offer downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional (XP Home's not an option, alas), you must upgrade to Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, which accounts for the extra cost.
For your chance to sound off on the cost and availability of XP downgrades, join us after the jump.
According to Engadget, a pair of problems have popped up on Apple's refreshed MacBook line, the first of which has to do with maxing out the RAM. Some users have complained that running 4GB, whether it be from Apple or a third party, is turning their MacBooks and MacBook Pros into pricey paper weights. With 4GB of RAM installed, affected users claim their MacBooks suffer from random freezes and the only solution is to downgrade to 3GB or 2GB. Apple hasn't yet acknowledged any known issues with maxing out the RAM, but forum users aren't the only ones reporting problems - mobile technology blog site jkOnTheRun reports seeing the same thing.
The other issue rumored to be affecting Apple's new MacBooks comes from news and rumor site The Inquirer, who claims that the MacBook Pro's Nvidia 9600M GPU suffers from the same material defect that affected previous MacBook Pros equipped with Nvidia's 8600M GT GPU. As The Inq tells it, to see the problem:
"You would need to buy a MacBook off the shelf, disassemble it, desolder the chips, saw them in half, encase them in lucite, and run them through a scanning electron microscope equipped wiht an X-ray microanalysis system like this. This is exactly what we did."
The Inq posted several pics with accompanying analysis, which it claims proves that at least some current MacBooks are still using older Nvidia chips containing 'bad bumps,' which in the past has led to blank screens and other video errors in some cases.
According to a recent interview with Google’s vice president of search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer, Chrome is on its way out of the beta stages.
Having only been in beta for three months, the move is notably impressive. Google is hoping to cater to many customers, including OEMs, that can’t offer the browser until it is official. They’re also planning to bundle Chrome with the Google Toolbar and other Google Apps.
The timely release comes alongside a large push by Google to redefine the browser around the open Web. Their plans to have Chrome work as a platform where users can run their applications are ambitious, but admirable. With any luck, we can see some concrete results in the coming year.
The Open Handset Alliance, which is responsible for promoting the use of Google’s Android operating system, recently added 14 new members to its roster.
The newest additions include Vodafone (the world’s largest mobile operator), AKM Semiconductor, ARM, ASUSTek Computer, Atheros Communications, Borqs, Ericsson, Garmin International, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, Softbank Mobile, Sony Ericsson, Teleca, and Toshiba. An impressive group that’s been added onto the 34 strong that signed on when the Open Handset Alliance started a year ago.
The members of the alliance are expected to “deploy compatible Android devices, contribute significant code to the Android Open Source Project, or support the ecosystem through products and services that will accelerate the availability of Android-based devices.”
It’s expected that these additions will help grow Android’s influence on the mobile market. And goodness knows it could use the help, because Google has a long way to go before they get a significant market share.
Google seems to be espousing a very simple strategy of expanding rapidly and at all costs. Although there is always going to be the possibility of Google spreading itself too thin, there is also immense hope of it benefiting under the law of averages. Market research firm Net Applications has fueled rumors of a Google OS. Yes, Google might be getting ready to enter the OS market.
Net Applications’ legion of software sensors across the internet has gathered some interesting data recently. Around one third of the traffic coming from Google has its OS information inexplicably hidden. According to Net Applications, this is truly unprecedented as they have never observed “an OS stripped off the user agent string before”. Is Google working on an OS of its own now?
In a bid to woo more developers towards its vernal Android platform, Google has begun offering a Sim-and hardware-unlocked G1 phone to developers. The unlocked version not only opens the floodgates for developers from around the globe, but it also presents an alternative to those US-based developers who have been resisting the retail version.
Google has confirmed the availability of the unlocked phone in 18 countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Japan, India, Canada, France, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Hungary. Although the unlocked G1 costs only $399, developers will have to part with $25 to register themselves on the Android Market site before they can order the phone.
ATI videocard owners take note - AMD has released new Catalyst drivers, v8.12, for both Windows XP and Vista. The new Catalyst release brings with it performance improvements in several DX9 and DX10 games, including up to a 25 percent boost in Crysis (DX10) for both Single and Crossfire mode. More recent releases, such as Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3, also receive a claimed performance boost by up to 10 percent and 15 percent respectively.
Many bug fixes accompany 8.12, such as improved HD video playback no longer causing Vista to stop responding, better support for connecting an All-in-Wonder card to a Yamaha receiver via an HDMI cable, and several more.
The new drivers also unlock the ATI Stream compute acceleration capabilities built into Radeon HD 3870, HD 3870 X2, and all HD 4000 series graphics cards. Similar to Nvidia's CUDA technology, ATI Stream is a set of advanced hardware and software technologies that enable AMD GPUs to work with the CPU and accelerate applications other than just graphics. To show off the technology, AMD has made available its free ATI Video Converter utility.
The good just got better with the release of the Opera 10 alpha made available earlier today to showcase the new Presto 2.2 rendering engine. The company claims the new rendering engine is up to 30 percent faster than Presto 2.1, which provides the foundation for Opera 9.5, while also touting full web standard compliancy.
"Opera has fine-tuned its standards support and, as a result, Opera 10 alpha achieves an Acid3 100/100 Test score," Opera Software wrote in a press release. "This version also provides Web developers with a whole range of new technologies for building better Web sites."
By comparison, Firefox 3.0.4 scores 71/100 on the Acid3 Test, with Firefox 3.1 beta1 and Google Chrome 0.4 scoring 89/100 and 79/100 respectively, according to Cnet.
Several updates are also included in the new Opera browser, including support for the latest HTML and CSS standards, opacity modifications through RGB and HSLA for setting the opacity of any web page element, inline spell-checking, an auto-update feature, and other goodies.
More bad news for big business, as Japan's Sony Corp. announced plans to cut 16,000 jobs, cut back on investments, and pull out of businesses all in attempt to save $1.1 billion a year. The job cuts rank as the biggest ever announced by an Asian company so far in the economic crisis, but some analysts are saying it might not be enough.
"The number sounds big, but this staff reduction won't be enough," said Katsuhiko Mori, a fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments. "Sony doesn't have any core businesses that generate stable profits. After the workforce reduction, the next thing we want to see is what is going to be the business that will drive the company."
Sony already trails Apple's iPod in portable music and the company is losing money on flat TVs. But it could get even worse. Sony acknowledged the market may force its hand at making equivalent cuts from its videogames and movie businesses, saying that the situation was "under simultaneous review."
To weather the storm, Sony said it has also raised European prices for its electronics products. And yes, that could mean higher Blu-ray player pricing, but not for PS3 consoles.