Shield can do several things: play Android games, play triple-A Android games made for Shield, handle your online media needs, and stream from NVIDIA's Grid streaming service. Grid has been in the making for several years, and NVIDIA hopes to be first to deliver a playable, lag free experience. At launch, NVIDIA will have roughly 50 playable titles, all of which should be the most recent PC hits. NVIDIA's vision is to deliver all games, at maximum graphics settings, without the requirement for having a high-end gaming rig.
Backtrack several months and you have Razer's Forge TV, a device that's meant to allow you to stream all your games to the living room, lag free. Forge TV is also an Android device, but it doesn't have the power that NVIDIA's Shield has. For reference, Forge TV is equipped with an Adreno 420 GPU, while the Shield's graphics duties are handled by NVIDIA's own Tegra X1, which is based on its current flagship Maxwell architecture. Specs aside, the Shield can do everything the Forge TV can do, and much more. Shield is also 4K ready, while Forge TV is not.
We get our hands on both at GDC. What's our impression?
Same compact G302 chassis, but with new and improved sensor
Logitech recently came by the Lab to show off its new premium gaming mouse, the G303 Daedalus Apex. If you’re thinking it looks just like the G302 Daedalus Prime, that’s because it uses the same lightweight and portable body, which weighs 87 grams and measures 11.5x6.5x3.7 cm. Logitech says this is the enthusiast version of the G302, thus the “Performance Edition” moniker.
There are plenty of mini PC options in the Windows space, but does anyone remember that Chromeboxes exist? For those who care, Acer is expanding its Chromebox CXI line with a couple of new models that have been upgraded with Intel's 4th Generation Core i3 4030U dual-core processor clocked at 1.9GHz (3MB cache, Hyper Threading support, 15W TDP), a speedy replacement for the Celeron chips that power the existing models.
At GDC today, a number of VR and AR developers gathered in a casual forum moderated by Chris Pruett, who does developer relations for Oculus VR. What followed was an interesting jam session as creative minds shared their ideas, triumphs, and frustrations with virtual platforms. Pruett stated at the beginning that he was not there as a representative of Oculus, and in fact he was not the original planned leader of the session.
Tools for digital hair, water, light shafts, and shadows
Most of us think of Nvidia as a hardware company. Video cards, tablets, and now a game console. But they've been doing a lot on the software side, working directly with developers in a program called GameWorks. This is a set of graphical tools that a developer can select from like a buffet, to fill in gaps in the game-creation process, or to accelerate it. Today, Ubisoft Kiev, the guys who worked on the PC ports of Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed Unity, gave some real-world examples of different GameWorks elements that they used to improve their visuals. Also along for the ride was free-to-play online shooter Warthunder, who makes liberal use of some interesting water effects.
I just walked out of Valve’s SteamVR demo and can say that it is the best VR experience I’ve ever had. And this is coming from a guy who has tried nearly all of the VR headsets out there, including Oculus VR’s newest Crescent Bay prototype. This is the closest thing to a modern-day holodeck we have at the moment.
The lead designer on some games you might have heard of, like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, has been away from the forefront of first-person shooters for a few years, but he has not been idle. Aside from building rockets that fly into space, John Carmack also been dabbling in virtual reality. In August 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer of Oculus VR, founded by fellow techno-wunderkind Palmer Luckey. Perhaps sensing a kindred spirit, Carmack tackled the technical underpinnings of the company's purely mobile plans, specifically the Samsung Gear VR headset, which uses the company's mobile phones to act as the brains and display of the device. Today, in front of a packed house of hundreds of developers and journalists, Carmack gave a talk on how that process had worked, and what he expects of the platform in the future. There were no revelations about the Oculus Rift, but a lot of the work that he's putting into Gear VR can spill over into that.
It was speculated that Nvidia might announce a new Titan graphics card during GDC, and that's what the company did—in a somewhat dramatic fashion. It happened at the tail end of an Unreal Engine panel. As Epic founder Tim Sweeny wrapped up his discussion on the state of Unreal, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang surprised attendees by emerging on stage to unveil the company's Titan X.
It's taken a lot longer than anticipated, but official Steam Machines are scheduled to release in November of this year, Valve announced at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC). That means you can expect plenty of Steam Machine announcements, some of which have already started rolling in. One in particular is Maingear's Drift, an ultra-compact Steam Machine and gaming PC that you can pre-order today and have in your hands next month.
Once the Game Developers Conference (GDC) comes to an end, attention will turn to PAX East, which takes place in Boston from March 6–8. That means even more product announcements, though some companies are too excited to wait. One of them is MSI, which is bringing an "arsenal of new gaming products" to PAX East, including its Z97A Gaming 6 motherboard and a pair of all-in-one PCs.