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GDC 2015 - Valve has just announced Steam Link, something that will be released later this year and will "extend your Steam experience to any room in the house". Steam Link will work with your PC, Mac, Steam Machines and even Linux-powered systems. It will stream content from Steam to the Steam Link device, with the only requirement is that they're on the same network.
Valve's new Steam Link will be capable of 1080p at 60Hz "with low latency", and will be made later this year in November for $49.99. The company also took the opportunity to announce its new Steam Controller, which will also be available in November.
Steam Link is "designed to take advantage of the PC horsepower you already have in your home, with In-Home Streaming" while the hardware includes three USB ports, and HDMI out. All you have to do is hook it up to your TV through HDMI, into your network, with Steam Link doing the rest of the work to detect any and all computers in your house running Steam.
GDC 2015 - Valve has announced Source 2, the graphics engine that will most likely power Half-Life 3, if it ever arrives. The new Source engine has been teased for a while now, we it appeared in some DOTA 2 code a while back.
The new Source 2 engine, according to Valve's Jay Stelly: "With Source 2 our focus is increasing creator productivity. Given how important user generated content is becoming, Source 2 is designed not just for the professional developer, but enabling gamers themselves to participate in the creation and development of their favourite games".
Just like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5, Valve's new Source 2 is also "free to content developers". Valve tease: "This combined with recent announcements from Epic and Unity will help continue the PC's dominance as the premiere content authoring platform".
Sony wants to cash in on the rising number of free-to-play game titles for the PlayStation 4 game console, with officials saying there has been continued growth of free-to-play.
"We're really looking at this as a significant part of our digital business," said Sara Thomson, senior account executive of the free-to-play business at Sony, during GDC. "I think that it's going to be a really big chunk of our revenues in the next few years; 3-5 years. And it's already growing at amazing rates that are really quite surprising."
The gaming market has changed and more free-to-play games helped cause a shift among game studios and console makers - with great long-term potential of free-to-play games on consoles, according to Sony.
Epic Games has moved away from its subscription model for Unreal Engine that it unveiled last year, where it has just announced that it is providing its graphics engine to developers for free. Yes, for nothing.
There is a slight catch, with Tim Sweeney explaining: "You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. It's a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed".
This provides Epic Games with the great chance of helping the community grow, getting more and more developers to use Unreal Engine. Sweeney continues: "The past year has been a whirlwind for everyone at Epic Games. Our community has grown tremendously. The quality and variety of creative work being done has been breathtaking. When we asked people to submit their projects to be shown this year at GDC, we had the challenge of picking just 8 from over 100 finalists that were all good enough to show".
HTC's chairwoman, Cher Wang, has the Internet in a frenzy right now by teasing that the company is working with Valve on something to do in the Half-Life franchise.
Wang said that HTC was "cooperating with Half-Life" but didn't elaborate on whether this was Half-Life 3, or another Half-Life game set in the VR world for its just-announced Vive headset that it partnered up with Valve on. Valve's own employees were reportedly "surprised by Ms Wang's comments as they were not working on a Half-Life game for the new helmet at the moment" reports the BBC.
I've said in various OpEd's that for VR to go mainstream the software is the most important part, and that a "killer app" is required. I've even said that Half-Life 3 would be that killer app, but are we really on the Eve of the announcement of Half-Life 3? Someone pinch me.
According to a blog post from AMD's VIP of Visual and Perceptual Computing, Raja Koduri, Mantle is done. Koduri said: "...[I]f you are a developer interested in Mantle "1.0" functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX 12 or GLnext".
Koduri said that AMD will not be releasing Mantle 1.0 as a public SDK as it originally hoped, so it will go gently into that good night. Alternatives? DirectX 12 and the new OpenGL standards. AMD wants to see developers move away from Mantle 1.0 and into DirectX or the new OpenGL. Koduri adds: "Mantle must take on new capabilities and evolve beyond mastery of the draw call. It will continue to serve AMD as a graphics innovation platform available to select partners with custom needs".
AMD has done what it set out to achieve behind closed doors, and that is to get closer to the metal. DirectX 12 formed out of the ashes that is now Mantle 1.0, and the world is going to be a better place in just a few years when everything shifts towards these new APIs in DirectX 12 and OpenGL.
EA has officially announced Battlefield Hardline Premium, which is virtually identical to the other Premium services for the previous titles in the Battlefield franchise.
Battlefield Hardline Premium will cost $50, offering gamers four new "super features" which include: masks, gun bench, competitive play and legendary status. Not only that, but you'll get two weeks early access to the four story-themed DLC packs, as well as monthly rewards and access to "exclusive in-game events and items".
Here's a detailed list of what Battlefield Hardline Premium has on offer:
Four super features:
- Masks - New player masks with unique gameplay benefits tied to the theme of each mask.
- Gun Bench - Provides players with the ability to visually customize their weapons and track their kills per weapon.
- Competitive Play - Support for competitive play through Battlefield Hardline Premium-access only tournaments and ladders.
- Legendary Status - Provides replayability of the entire progression system.
Four digital expansion packs featuring new multiplayer maps, modes, vehicles, in-game content and a story themed throughout all four:
- Battlefield Hardline: Criminal Activity - Players have to make a name for themselves in fast-paced, highly-destructible new maps littered with small-time crime jobs. Available summer 2015.
- Battlefield Hardline: Robbery - Take down the opposition head on and progress through key locations with major cinematic action. Available summer 2015.
- Battlefield Hardline: Getaway - This is frantic, high-speed chases that immerse players deeper in the heist. Available fall 2015.
- Battlefield Hardline: Betrayal - There is a rat in every operation and players will have to find out who to trust. Available winter early 2016.
- Two weeks early access to all expansion packs
- 12 Gold Battlepacks
- New personalization options including gun camos, ammo skins, and more Battlefield Hardline Premium exclusive in-game items
- Access to double-XP, in-game missions, and more Battlefield Hardline Premium exclusive events
- Priority position in server queues
We've been writing about various uses of Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4, but Quixel has something unique to share with its Megascans technology. Megascans is massive, as its library contains thousands of materials scanned with the company's HDR surface capture technology. The best way to show this off, is with a video, below:
Quixel explains this well: "MEGASCANS is a new breed of material library, finally bringing full real-world surface scans to the art community. Browse, preview and download 1000+ materials scanned with Quixel's groundbreaking HDR surface capture technology and experience real diffuse, specular, normal, translucency, AO and much more".
The jungle environment demo looks impressive, but it isn't the absolute best we've seen. What it does showcase is Quixel's impressive surface capturing technology, and the power of Unreal Engine 4 and its versatile nature.
Ubisoft doesn't have much trust with gamers, especially PC gamers, but The Division is still continuing to shape up nicely - even if it looks like its graphics have been watered down over time. A closed beta of the game is currently active, with a bunch of people playing The Division and discussing specific gameplay details and more.
The participants have detailed the way players will enter 'Dark Zones' which are public combative spaces within The Division, which are both cooperative and competitive, filled with friendlies and enemies. Players must pass through a decontamination chamber when entering and leaving the Dark Zone. There are special weapons are gear that you can collect in the Dark Zones, but you must pass through the decontamination process in order to have these weapons and items become a permanent part of your kit.
These Dark Zones in The Division feature up to, or around 100 players. Other players in here can act as friendlies, but hostile players can be killed, which build up something called a reputation meter. Once your reputation meter begins to build, you become more visible on the in-game mini map. You and your team can choose to work together with another team, with alpha players saying that there have been scenarios where players hide on rooftops, scale up and down buildings with grappling hooks, and more.
With the first season of the Starcraft II World Championship Series 2015 (WCS) reaching ever closer to the finals date, ESL just announced that this event will take place during the 2015 Gamers Assembly in Poiteres, France.
With 12 players currently qualified out of the 16 total bracket, we've seen plenty of hard-fought matches including the qualification from Aussie Zerg underdog Jared "PiG" Krensel.
Although Starcraft II doesn't always have the same flair and new-age eSports feel as it once did in 2012, there's no denying that the passion and commitment is still there from the players, spectators and developers. Just take a look below at Krensel's reactions when his qualification was confirmed for this finals series.