All posts by Partha Das

About Partha Das

Lover of food, books, anime, movies, music, tech, games and sleep. Hobbies include cooking, drawing, tinkering, coding, electronics/robotics and general mad-scientist stuff. Love to learn different languages and about different cultures and trying out new things. Currently learning Japanese and Korean too!

Witcher_2

Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings available for Linux & SteamOS

After the leak of Linux files on SteamDB last March, the Witcher 2 has officially hit Linux. The Witcher 2: Assassins of King is now available for purchase and download to Linux via Steam and also on the SteamOS.

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings is a gritty action role-playing game developed by CD Projekt Red that heavily focuses on the game molding itself based on the user’s choice while interacting with the game world. The game has won multiple awards and accolades and is said to have shipped more than 1.7 million units in May 2012 alone. The game was praised for its graphics too, which is also capable of bringing the most powerful GPUs to their knees.

To celebrate the launch, the game is available on Steam for an 80% discount.

The requirement of the Witcher 2 on Linux is as follows:

v  Minimum:

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 9800 GT 512MB (1280×720, low), Radeon graphics cards are not supported, Intel integrated graphics chipsets are not supported
  • Hard Drive: 25 GB HD space

v  Recommended:

  • Processor: Quad Core Intel
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GT 640 1GB (1440×900, medium)
    • Hard Drive: 25 GB HD space

The first thing that comes to mind with the requirements is the exclusivity of only NVidia cards. This is apparently due to the fact that the Linux version of the WItcher 2 isn’t a true native port, but rather a wrapper implemented port from the Windows version. The Linux version of the Witcher 2 uses eON wrapper by Virtual Programming. The eON wrapper, much like Wine, is a “fully native implementation of essential Windows technologies (such as Direct3D)”, thus making it more efficient than Wine. But in reality, the performance boost can only be seen when using NVidia cards only. Even then, the game performs well only with people having the binary drivers. This move by CD Projekt has enraged many fans on Linux and has sparked many complaints. Instead of hurriedly pushing the game out to Linux, they could have at least waited till they were ready to make a native port. Or even if they were to use wrapper technology, they could have at least resolved the driver issues and the problem of only supporting one brand of graphics card.

This move really does cast a cloud of doubt on the Linux availability of their upcoming games.

Source: Web Upd8

Wasteland_2

Wasteland 2 confirmed to be released by the end of August, 2014

Wasteland 2 has been an ambitious project that has been in the making for over two decades, for Brian Fargo, the developer of the previous Wasteland. And now that dream of his is right around the corner of being fulfilled. In an update on the Kickstarter campaign page, inXile Entertainment has finally announced the final shipping date for Wasteland 2, the end of August of this year. And yeah, they will ship the Linux version simultaneously with the other versions too.

In the post on the Kickstarter campaign page, Brian Fargo says, “We are very happy to announce the ship date for Wasteland 2: the game will be coming to you at the end of August of this year! Before saying anything else, I want to first and foremost again thank you, our backers. Without you I’d never be where I am today, just a few months removed from finally releasing the game I’ve been wanting to make for 25 years.”

“What we’re releasing is a game of much greater scope than we ever dreamed of when starting our Kickstarter. More features, more areas, more reactivity, more words, all thanks to you for funding our game and for giving us the time needed to finish it. My goal has been to over deliver on your expectations for Wasteland 2,”

They have been hinting at a nearing release day for the game for some time now. There are a lot of people too who have been waiting for the game. In the last update, the development team said that they were in the last stages of optimizations, adding contents and removing bugs phase, so such a close release isn’t really a big surprise, but is after all a relief for all the fans waiting patiently for the game. They also released a major update for the game, which is in Beta phase that completes the entire set of maps for Arizona, which is said to be half the entire game. In addition to that many new features has been implemented, along with newer difficulty levels and a new HUD design based on the feedback from the community. For a complete list of changes you can look up the changelog here.

Source: Kickstarter

Muktware_Chromecast_Concept

Google’s Chromecast sells more than 100k units in just 2 months in the UK

More than 100,000 Chromecasts have been sold in just two months of being launched in the UK. The figure comes from select industry experts speaking at MediaTel’s annual ‘Media Playground’ event held in London, UK earlier this week.

Google introduced the £30 Chromecast in the UK back in March following the successful launch of the device in the US. Compared to the sale figure of more than a million devices shipped in the US, the 100k figure does pale in comparison, but nonetheless it is a solid start for the device in a new land. Also, given that fact that the device isn’t as pricey as some of its other competitors like Apple’s AirPlay and Roku 3, the Chromecast have a very good probability of being a dominant force in the field.

In fact speaking at Media Playground on Wednesday, Paul Scanlan, co-founder and president of MobiTV, Chromecast, which allows video content from tablets and smartphones to be ‘cast’ to a TV screen, was a “strong threat” to the likes of Sky, Virgin, BT and TalkTalk.

“I think it can do more damage than good to the pay TV operators,” he said. “To the existing incumbents I think Chromecast is a really strong threat.”

Chromecast already has several of the UK’s biggest media providers onboard. BBC iPlayer, BT Sport, and Netflix all offered native Cast support in their respective Android and iOS applications on launch day. Even BBC is planning to add casting feature in their web player in the future. Nigel Walley, managing director at media strategy consultancy Decipher, expects pay TV operators like to add casting capability to their Sky+ app thus integrating into the threat and profiting from it rather than fighting it.

However, Jon Block, ITV’s controller of digital products, is not that optimistic. According to him Casting is a niche activity at the moment and says that it will take it about half a decade to become mainstream by which time the TV market will be in a new cycle, thus negating any possibilities of a threat. He also cites that since there are a lot of services that are not supported by Chromecast, like 4OD and ITVPlayer, Chromecast have a long way to go before being classified as a viable threat. He also adds that lack of any industrial standard in this field will keep the Chromecast limited in the foreseeable future.

Whether the Chromecast is a serious threat, or it is just a limited device with a lucky start only time will tell. But what we can say from the figures for sure is that there is healthy amount of demand for the convenience and connected experience that Chromecast is capable of affording to the end users.

Source: OMGChrome

youtube_logo

YouTube to acquire Twitch for more than $1 billion

In a deal that is bound to become the biggest deal in the history of YouTube, representative from Google’s YouTube and Twitch have reached an understanding of acquisition for an amount that is thought to be in excess of $1 billion. The apparent acquisition news has been confirmed by sources close to the deal. Both representatives from YouTube and Twitch have refrained from commenting on the news. The announcement is expected to be coming pretty soon however, the sources have confirmed.

Google had acquired YouTube back in 2006 for a total of $1.65. YouTube has since become the most popular video streaming service around the world with an estimated 6 billion hours of video served to about 1 billion users around the world. As a result of this acquisition initiative, YouTube is preparing for being challenged by US regulatory committee on the grounds that this deal is an anti-competitive deal. The deal comes after the recent appointment of Susan Wojcicki was named the CEO of YouTube.

San Francisco-based Twitch lets users upload and watch free, live gameplay videos that can be streamed from Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. The company claims to have more than 45 million monthly users, with more than 1 million members who upload videos each month. It also has deals to distribute shows from partners including CBS Interactive’s GameSpot, Joystiq and Destructoid. Twitch. Founded in 2011, the startup has raised about $35 million in funding. Investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, Alsop Louie Partners, WestSummit Capital, Take-Two Interactive Software, Thrive Capital and Draper Associates. Twitch has about 130 employees. In March 2014 alone, Twitch was single handedly responsible for 1.35% of all downstream traffic in North America.

Though this deal signals a significant merging of two of the best video services on the internet, people are showing concerns that Google might just later shut off Twitch entirely citing insufficient revenue and thus putting YouTube as the sole provider of everything online-stream.

Source: Variety

Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Arts offers over 300,000 images for free download

Ever wished that the pieces hung in those art museums were part of your living room, or maybe even your wallpaper? Unless you are a world class art thief or a multi-millionaire, those dreams would remain a dream generally. But thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ decision to release an astounding 394,000 high resolution images of the world class images it has in its collection, that dream can now be fulfilled quite easily.

The initiative by the Museum is called – Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) – and gives access to work of art that it believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art said, “Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain. I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Arts has the most extensive collection of artwork in the world, including more than 500 Picassos, along with dozens of paintings from Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas. Apart from the European master’s masterpieces, the Met also houses photographs of Aztec stone works, Greek sculpture, and Chinese calligraphy among other art related artifacts from around the world. And this month, the Met have decided to release digital images of all of that to the public, freely available to the public.

Visitors to the Met’s website can sort images by artist, medium, location, and era. All of the images are high resolution images with each of them being in excess of 10 megapixels, so they are ideal for printing and studying, which is what the Met intends its collection for. The images from the Met are intended for students, educators, researchers, and creators of non-commercial content. Those wanting to use one of the Met’s images for commercial reasons will still have to license them from the museum.

Museums have always been a bit skeptical to allow high resolution digital copies of their collection, citing fears of forgery and decrease in revenue. The Smithsonian has more than 1.2 million images, film and audio clips available online, but many are posted at low resolution to discourage commercial use. But with efforts like the Google Art Project, the museums are now releasing their own high res version to fight back low resolution knock offs. Whatever may be the case, now is a wonderful time to get those digital version of the art that you always loved and perhaps apply it as your desktop wallpaper or even your apartment wallpaper.

Via: The Verge
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

valve_steamos_debian_over_ubuntu

Third Party manufacturers shows concern over possibilities of Steam Machines

As Valve gears up for the launch of Steam Machines at the end of this year, many third party manufacturers are showing their concerns. Their major concerns about the machines are that it is going to be a tricky system to manufacture as compared to other consoles or entertainment systems.

Frank Azor, the general manager of Alienware’s game division expresses his concerns as, “It’s going to be very challenging. This will absolutely be the least profitable system we ever sell.” He goes on to add that manufacturing Steam Machines is going to be quite tricky with so many options available, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. But then again, even though the prospect of Steam Machines isn’t very profitable with Alienware, they are still going to go forward with the manufacturing, trusting Valve on able to pull this off, based on Valve’s previous success on the gaming segment.

This sentiment isn’t just limited to Alienware, with Kelt Reeves, president of Falcon Northwest Computer Systems Inc. saying, “If anyone can do this, Valve can do it.”

Then again, there are other manufacturers that are much less trusting of Valve. According to them, the main concern is that there is no fixed specification for Steam Machines. Valve had introduced the concept last year with the idea being that third-party manufacturers can choose to build and sell their own Steam Machines which are basically living room PCs that come with the Steam OS and support for the Steam controller. So, just like Android, there could be a million combinations of pricing and hardware that could be made available, which has the great potential of confusing consumers. Plus if Valve were to start manufacturing their own Steam Machines, then the entire spectrum of third party manufacturers would be left in the dust as people would flock only to Valve branded machines. Valve has confirmed that they do not plan to do any such things and keep the system open to third parties.

Although the concerns seem to be quite genuine, one thing I would like to point out to people is that pre-specced configurations with OS installed is nothing new. Brands like Dell and HP does it all the time. And Steam Machines are exactly for those people who don’t have the time or effort to get SteamOS manually on their systems and would rather buy a pre-made system to save on both time and effort. So, true it might create some confusion, but it will also create more options for the consumers. In my opinion the main concern of the manufacturers is perhaps only the area of profit alone. Whatever it is, this is something we can only tell for sure once Steam Machine launches at the end of this year.

Source: Gamasutra

valve_steamos_debian_over_ubuntu

Games released on Steam in 2014 already surpasses games released in all of 2013

Ever had those times when you didn’t have any games left to play? The gaming blues as we gamer folks like to say it. Well, if you had or are having it now all you have to do is to turn to Steam to blow it all away. According to an analysis report by Gamasutra, Steam has seen more game released in the last 20 weeks than it has released in all of 2013!

The large influx of games in 2014 on Steam is something that is credited partly to Steam’s Green Light feature that allows the community to elect a game to be published on Steam. In fact only recently there were as high as 75 games released on Steam in a single day too! The trend, as analyzed by Gamasutra in their graphs, has grown exponentially and judging from the recent trends of May, it seems that it will continue down that part.

This trend however has both pros and cons. The pros of this trend being that indie developers now have a definitive platform where they can independently showcase their ideas without having to go through the hoops related to publishers. And since is a community driven process, the developers have a minimalistic quality level to take care of too which is again reinforced by the competition.

However, the con of this system lies in the sheer number of games being released each day. As more and more games are released every day, their time on the front page is getting diminished; as such developers can’t showcase their games for longer than 24 hours at max. This is a big problem, which was the reason the concept of publishers came in the first place. There are a lot of indie games that are perhaps never seen by people and subsequently never played as it get buried under the big number of releases on Green Light every day.

Valve has however announced that the days of Green Light are numbered and will be removed entirely to make way for an even more open self-publishing system. Although nothing has been announced officially, nor said definitively by Valve, the new system will allow anyone to publish their game with the users of Steam acting as the curators. The developers can also host their own web-based Steam web-front.

Whatever it is Valve implements, one thing is for sure, indie developers will be given more freedom in releasing their game more effortlessly. Along with that they will be facing a tougher competition as the sheer number of games released reduces the exposure time each game gets drastically.

Source: Gamasutra

Unreal_Engine_4

Unreal Engine 4.2 feature preview shows inclusion of Vehicles & Camera Animations

Following hot on the foot of the last update to the Unreal Engine, the update version 4.1, Epic is now gearing up for the next version of the Unreal Engine, version 4.2. A new blog post has been put up on the official Unreal Engine website previewing the various features of the latest update to the engine. The major update to this version is perhaps the inclusion of Vehicles, Camera Animations & tighter integration to Blueprints, along with other little features and tweaks & bug fixes common to new versions.

The latest version of the Unreal Engine 4 now fully supports Vehicles. The new version will support 4WD, FWD & RWD drive train out of the box, with as many numbers of wheels as you desire. The default number of wheels is set to four. You can even set up as many gears as you want and even choose between Automatic and semi-Automatic transmission of the gears. All of these features are completely exposed to Blueprints too. In order to celebrate these features Epic has included a demo of an off-road racer, which is available for free from the Marketplace. A simple vehicle template will also be included with version 4.2 to jumpstart your vehicle related projects.

Next on the list is the Camera Animations. This is a feature that is very similar to the one found in Unreal Engine 3, only it is much more expanded with Blueprints support. With CameraAnim, you can layer animations onto the in-game camera, thus animating the camera position and rotation, FOV, and post process settings. The CameraAnims can be created in the Content Browser, you can convert a track in Matinee to one, or you can import keyframes from external tools like Maya.

Along with these, there are a ton of features being added to this new version. For an in-depth look, you can visit here.

Also, this build heavily uses code contributed by the community as can be seen by the credit roll that begins the blog post. This just shows that opening up the source code can expedite the development process by a huge margin.

Source: Unreal Blog

muktware_amd

AMD & VESA introduces new anti stutter tech, challenges NVidia’s G-Sync

In a new update to the specifications of the Display Port’s 1.2a standard specifications, Video Electronic Standard Association (VESA) has added a new syncing technology called the Adaptive Sync. This new addition to the DP standard should prove to be a boon to PC gamers as this will solve one issue of PC gaming that has been plaguing us for a long time. With this standard, the problem of frame-tearing or stuttery gaming performance under V-Sync would be completely solved.

The problem most of the us gamers face with our PCs is that if the refresh rate of our monitor doesn’t match up with our GPU’s frame rate, we get all kinds of torn frames and stutters. According to VESA’s proposed standard, a DisplayPort-connected monitor will match a graphics card’s rendering rate on the fly, on a frame-by-frame basis to the monitor’s refresh rate, thus solving the problem the problem of screen tearing.

Now all these could sound similar, if you have been staying abreast of the happenings in the tech world. If it did, you are right, since that is exactly what NVidia’s G-Sync does. AMD has a similar technology too called Free-Sync which is set to bring this to laptops with embedded DP. According to AMD, the difference between their own tech and NVidia’s as “expensive-and-proprietary vs. industry-standard. “G-Sync uses expensive and proprietary hardware. In contrast, Project Free Sync utilises the industry-standard DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync specification to promote wider adoption lower cost of ownership and a broad ecosystem of compatibility.”

AMD also says that, “the DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync specification was ported from the Embedded DisplayPort specification through a proposal to the VESA group by AMD.”

And this is exactly the reason why Adaptive Sync and Free Sync works so well together and will be combined to get Project Free Sync to work with external monitors. At present, all of AMD’s APU and GPU are capable of this new technology, except that there are no compatible display devices available to utilize the technology. AMD estimates that it will take anywhere between six to twelve months to get the technology adapted into current monitors and make it mainstream. That is a long wait, but at least it saves the solution to a very old problem from being monopolized and limited to just one company and keeps it as an open industry standard.

Source: PC Gamer

Jagged_Alliance_Flashback

Jagged Alliance Flashback confirmed for Linux

Jagged Alliance Flashback has just been confirmed for a Linux version. As mentioned in a post on the Steam Community boards, the developers are working on getting a stable Linux version out to the community to try.

“We are serious about the Linux version, and it will be up within days! We simply ran into some bug that had to be fixed vs. getting Linux set up as export. Takes a little while even with Unity.”

Jagged Alliance Flashback had just entered Steam’s Early Access and the promise by the developers for a Linux version to be “up within days” is quite exciting news, especially for fans of the series who were disappointed with the last game, Jagged Alliance: Back in Action.

Flashback, unlike the previous game Back in Action, is an attempt to reset the game franchise to what made it famous, pure tactical turn based enjoyment. Flashback includes a deep and engaging turn based tactics role playing game enhanced by new features. It includes a cover system that makes the tactics run even deeper and become even more engaging. Also, included in Flashback is a true line of sight calculation mechanic that makes enemies react more naturally while making you device tactics more realistically. Other deeper enhancements to the combat system have been promised by the developers over the phase of Early Access.

The Early Access version of the game has a small island that the players can explore and conquer along with a few dialogues and quests. The game also comes with an editor that allows players to make their own maps and mods and share it among themselves.

The game secured its Kickstarter funding in the May of last year and is slated to be released later this year.

Source: Steam Community