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PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to BioShock news is imminent, according to this 2K Games teaser">poseidonplaza-bioshock







When most of Irrational Games was laid off earlier this year many assumed it was the last we'd see of BioShock, at least until 2K Games mustered the courage to have one developed by a secondary studio ala BioShock 2. Nonetheless, it would appear something BioShock related is about to happen, because 2K Games posted this teaser image (above) on its official Twitter account earlier today, along with the text: "Oooo, what COULD this mean?!".



What's a scantily clad woman with an apple got to do with BioShock? Well, in dark lettering at the bottom of that image is a reference to Poseidon Plaza, which is a prominent location in the original BioShock. The reference seems to indicate that we might see a repackaging of the original game in the not-too-distant future. Whether that repackaging is relevant to PC owners is another question.



After all, it's unlikely the teaser is related to a brand new BioShock game. BioShock Infinite only released last year and if there was a fourth BioShock game, surely it wouldn't return to Rapture? Surely? In the meantime all we can do is speculate.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Trine Enchanted Edition now available with big discount in tow">trine_enchanted_editiludag







Trine 2 was superior to its predecessor in every way, so much so that if you played the sequel first you might be disappointed with the original. To combat this, Frozenbyte has released an Enchanted Edition of Trine, which is basically a remake of the game in Trine 2's engine. Most importantly, it introduces cooperative multiplayer to the original, which means if you've played it before, you may very well want to play it again.



The Enchanted Edition has been in beta for a little while now, but it's now available in its final form with a huge 80 per cent discount on Steam. If you happen to own the original Trine then you're entitled to a free copy of the new one, which can be launched within the game's launcher. The original will remain intact.



Check out the Trine Enchanted Edition launch trailer:



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to DieselStormers review (Early Access)">DieselStormers







Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.



Review by Tom Marks



When I was getting ready to play local co-op in DieselStormers, I didn t expect that I would need to refer back to the Steam store page for instructions, but I soon found out that this wasn t the only thing absent from the $19/ 14 game. The latest Kickstarter-funded project from Black Forest Games, creators of Gianna Sisters: Twisted Dreams, is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up that plays like a Metal Slug/Diablo hybrid. And while it has a unique gun-crafting mechanic and some great looking art, the current Early Access version falls short on everything else.



DieselStormers is entirely playable, but there isn t much to play. I saw everything the game had to offer in under two hours of playtime, and the last hour felt identical to the first. I select a mission from one of the three options currently in the game go right then touch a flag, go right then kill a bunch of Orks, or go right then kill one big, robot Ork and load into the procedurally generated landscape to fight the procedurally generated enemies and then be rewarded with a procedurally generated part to customize my gun.



At this stage in the game s production, the randomness of the enemies and levels just makes every mission feel identical. It s easy to see that the graphics team at Black Forest Games is top notch, but the randomly generated levels in DieselStormers currently don t give me the impression of a living world that I got from the hand-crafted environments of Gianna Sisters. They ve made the switch from distinct, unique landscapes to cookie-cutter ones, and I quickly started recognizing the set pieces that were spawned in front of me time and time again.



The 'Help' button explains this screen in two thoroughly daunting walls of text.



One of DieselStormers key draws, the custom gun crafting, looks promising but isn t anywhere near its final form yet. Guns are broken down into three parts; engines and barrels differ in appearance and stat values, but only very slightly. The frame can change the way your gun fires to one of only three options currently implemented single shot, machine gun, and shotgun spread with more to be added. There is currently no progression in the game, meaning the strengths and variety of parts I received had no relation to the missions I chose, though switching around gun frames did shake up the gameplay a bit. Or it would have, if the dash attack wasn t so massively overpowered.



In a game about building and customizing guns, the dash attack is all I ever want to use. It is significantly faster than normal movement, can kill the most common type of enemy quicker than any possible gun build, is immune to the enemy s slowing effects, is the only way to break through destructible environment pieces, and can be used almost infinitely. It s fantastic, and I feel dirty for using it. All this, combined with the fact that killing the hordes of Orks does not benefit me in any way and isn t recorded anywhere, means that the optimal way to play the game is spamming dash and running to the end of the level. In fact, regular movement is so sluggish and the guns feel so impotent that dashing is the only way I can play DieselStormers without getting massively frustrated.



In the land of tiny Orks, the dashing man is king.



To its credit, DieselStormers has plug-and-play controller support, online co-op, and the beginnings of couch co-op already implemented. The local co-op is, however, incredibly limited. The other players can t change their guns, and the explanation of how other players join can only be found on the Steam store page. Playing with friends is slightly more enjoyable, but there is hardly any interaction between players and nothing about the game changes or gets harder. The main difference is in the Arc Connector, a spark ball that normally hovers above the player s head that now stays roughly between all the players. You can fling yourself towards the spark and your super move, a blue beam of death, fires outward from it, but the Arc Connector s positioning is incredibly hard to predict, so it s hard to use effectively.



Black Forest Games is active on the Steam forums and says it will be releasing updates every 3-4 weeks, which gives me hope that a lot of the shortcomings of DieselStormers can be solved. But after seeing the list of what s going to be added, I fear the updates will focus too much on new content. There are some fundamentally unsatisfying aspects of the game that can t be fixed with more variation. The jump button which drops you like a brick the moment you let go of the key, the claustrophobic environments, the way I can kill a boss by standing next to it and activating my super, and the downright confusing albeit unique Arc Connector mechanics all need a stern talking to before this game comes out of Early Access.



DieselStormers doesn t provide any sort of depth at its current stage of development. It has some beautifully designed environments and characters paired with some interesting ideas, but there just isn t any significant gameplay. I get a strong sense of the mechanics that Black Forest Games wants to show off, but it hasn t yet built an experience around those mechanics.



The current backdrops are nice, but get used to them.

Verdict

You really shouldn t buy DieselStormers right now. It s very expensive for what feels more like a beautifully animated tech demo than an alpha.

Outlook

Probably good. Black Forest Games has promised a lot by Q2 of next year and DieselStormers has a long way to go, but the developer is active enough in the Steam forums to give me confidence that it's in it for the long haul. More than adding new content, though, I expect it will have to start making fundamental design changes before DieselStormers is ready for consumption.



Details

Version reviewed: Build 2 July 2014

Reviewed on: 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7-4700, GeForce GTX 880M, 32GB RAM

Recommended: 2.5 GHz Quad Core CPU, 3GB RAM, nVidia Geforce 500 or AMD Radeon HD 5000

Price: $19/ 14

Publisher/Developer: Black Forest Games

Multiplayer: 4 Player Online and Local Co-Op

Link: Steam store page
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Google reportedly buying Twitch for $1 billion">Twitch







According to VentureBeat sources "familiar with the matter," Google has reached a deal to buy streaming site Twitch for $1 billion.



Neither Google nor Twitch have commented on the report, but if VentureBeat's sources are correct, it would confirm a rumor that first floated to the surface in late May. At the time, Variety claimed that an announcement of the deal was "imminent," while the Wall Street Journal said talks were still in the early stages.



The acquisition would give Google control over the two biggest forces in online video. YouTube, which it acquired in 2006, is the biggest video platform on the internet, while Twitch entertains more than 45 million users per month, and is far and away the most popular platform for livestreaming on the internet. According to the VentureBeat report, Google's YouTube division headed up the acquisition.



A Twitch representative declined to comment on the report.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Gratuitous Space Battles 2 could be ready by the end of the year">screen_dreadnought1







Cliff Harris of Positech Games doesn't think it's much of a surprise, but just in case anyone was wondering, he made it official today that Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is in the works. It's all about doing the job properly this time around, he said, and that means the sequel will be "bigger, bolder, better and have more cool effects than you can shake a laser gun at."



That's not to suggest that Gratuitous Space Battles was a flop by any means. In fact, Harris said it sold very well and has remained popular thanks to a dedicated modding community. Yet he also sounded somewhat dissatisfied with the game, writing, "The reason for doing a sequel isn t financial though (I d be doing Democracy 4 if it was), but driven more by a desire to do the job properly."



It's all about massive scale and popping eye-candy, a design philosophy perhaps epitomized by support for twin 2560-wide monitors. "As a kid I grew up watching the original Star Wars movies and playing Elite. Space Battles are in my blood and I love them," he wrote. "Game-wise, I *want* to like EVE Online, but I m sick of being ganked by some teenage boy and his pals for their amusement. I don t want the lowliest of the low mining ships that gets one-shot killed. I want a huge, fuck-off spacefleet. I want to be Ackbar."



A bare-bones website at gratuitousspacebattles2.com offers a few details about the game and a pair of very sweet screens, including one showing off the glory of a 2560 double-wide battle. The game is being developed for Windows, Linux and Mac, but not tablets, because it's designed for "gratuitously big monitors." Gameplay sounds like it will be much like the original GSB, with custom-built fleets engaging in 2D, hands-off gameplay, but the engine has been "substantially improved" to provide a more immersive, 3D experience.



Other changes include three new classes of ships, overhauled fighter handling, orders and "a big, exciting new feature in the game that we have not announced yet, but will completely transform the experience of playing Gratuitous Space Battles." Oculus Rift support, anyone? (No, probably not.)



Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is expected to be ready to fly in either late 2014 or early 2015.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot lets you use the Oculus Rift to fight kaiju">Final_Four_Jaegers







The list of things you can do with the Oculus Rift has grown by one a very big one as Legendary Entertainment and Oculus VR debuted Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot today at the San Diego Comic-Con.



There's not much to see in this Comic-Con trailer for Jaeger Pilot, which is far more movie than game, but it sure does have a catchy slogan: "Get ready to drift with the Oculus Rift." The game is apparently being developed in-house by Oculus VR with the Unreal Engine 4, and will put players behind the wheel of Gipsy Danger in a battle against the kaiju called Knifehead.



The prospect is exciting, but will it run up against EVEL Valkyrie producer Owen O'Brien's belief that virtual reality is a poor fit for first-person gameplay? The Oculus Rift headset will undoubtedly make for a visually immersive experience, but unlike the jaeger pilots in the trailer, body movement isn't going to correspond to body action in the game. Will this somehow work out to be better than conventional FPSes in VR?



Score Pacific Rim Jaeger Combat Simulator tix by visiting our booth (#3920) from 9-9:45AM daily. #LegendarySDCC pic.twitter.com/ITbhWU9Nqa— Legendary (@Legendary) July 24, 2014





It's worth noting that it's unclear to us whether Jaeger Pilot is a fully-realized game that will be released publicly, or more of an interactive demonstration of the Rift in the context of the film. If it is a game, it'd be a challenge to represent the two-pilot requirement for jaegers in the film. That seems like an extraordinarily difficult experience to design, not to mention one that might border on being a rhythm game. One thing that encourages me is that cockpit experiences have been some of our favorites on the Rift so far. Whatever form this Jaeger Pilot takes, despite Hollywood's mixed history with games, it's nice to have a beloved action film that natively features VR showing up on the Rift.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Obsidian still talks about making Knights of the Old Republic 3">kotor2







Pillars of Eternity developer Obsidian Entertainment has done some pretty good stuff over the years, but its finest work is probably its first: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. And even though it's not likely to happen, the topic of KOTOR 3 still comes at the studio with some regularity, and there are a lot of people there who'd like to take it on.



KOTOR 2 wasn't perfect by any stretch. A lot of planned content was cut, and the ending was particularly problematic because it didn't conclude so much as just stop, very suddenly and without much warning. Designer Chris Avellone acknowledged some of those issues in a 2006 interview with RPG Codex, saying, "I do wish there had been more time and I wished I had had more time to work on the end game, and that was my fault. We did get a lot accomplished in the time we had, and I probably should have cut another planet (the droid planet got the axe). I still think it's a good RPG, we probably should have just made it shorter."



Eight years later, it's a topic that still comes up. "I think there are a lot of the people at the studio that would like to do Knights of the Old Republic 3," Josh Sawyer, the project director on Pillars of Eternity, told IGN. "I think at that time LucasArts was really focused on what they considered to be extreme, extreme blockbusters and even though the Knights of the Old Republic series was pretty successful, it just never seemed like something that was going to happen at that time."



Lead Producer Brandon Adler said it's a topic that comes up every three to six months at the studio. "We just bring it up and talk about it," he added. "Not anything terribly serious, but we just say, 'Wouldn t it be cool if?' and just develop some ideas for what we d do with that stuff."



I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen, but yes, it would be very cool indeed.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to DayZ diary: the fishing trap">DayZ





As DayZ slowly winds its way through alpha, we're finally beginning to see more updates to the early access zombie survival game, with new items and features being regularly added. Mechanics for hunting, fishing, crafting, and cooking mean there are now new ways to thrive and survive in the post-apocalyptic landscape of Chernarus besides simply scrounging around in buildings for canned food or shooting and looting other players.

I thought I'd try surviving by relying exclusively on these new tools. Instead of guns, I'd try to use a crossbow to take down some deer. Instead of peeling open canned tuna I'd try to pluck fish from ponds. No more cold beans: I'd cook my food over a roaring fire or gas-powered stove. A quiet little camping trip: that's all I wanted. Robbery, murder, betrayal, and bad luck: that's what DayZ gave me instead.

Part one: the gear

I could run straight out into the woods and survive simply by picking apples and berries (now available from certain trees and bushes) and by drinking water from ponds, but if I want to hunt, fish, and cook, I'm going to need gear, and quite a bit of it. That means my woodland adventure needs to begin by raiding a few small towns and buildings, and with that comes facing the mild threat of zombies and as well as DayZ's true danger: other players.

I pick a high population server (I don't want this to be too easy) and fresh-spawn near the revised Northeast Airfield, which has been recently transformed from a military installation into a civilian airstrip with a few industrial buildings and a control tower. Luck is with me: it's both empty of players and appears to be un-looted. I make off with some great outdoor gear: a crossbow (though no arrows), a couple of water bottles (which I can refill from ponds and even from falling rain), a portable gas lamp (which needs a gas canister), and an bulky orange mountain backpack to hold it all.





Might have more luck with the cap off.

I don't dawdle: despite the changes to the NEAF, it's still a highly-trafficked area and if there aren't players here currently, they're definitely on their way. I head into the trees to the northwest, aiming for the northern road that will lead me all the way across the map. Along the way, I come across something I've never seen before: what appears to be a half-finished gas station in a clearing in the woods. It's weird, but I'm glad I found it, because in the trunk of an abandoned car I find one of the game's more elusive items: a fishing lure.





Not so much gas pumps as helium pumps, apparently.

I reach the north road and run west for a good twenty minutes, looting the series of scattered barns, sheds, and garages as I go. I find a farming hoe and use it to dig up earthworms for bait. In another garage I find a rope, and further on I find an axe. I use the axe to cut down an Ashwood tree, which gives me a pole. I tie the rope to the pole, and I've got an improvised fishing rod (you can also craft a longbow from the same materials), then combine a worm with my lure and attach it to the pole. Bingo! I'm ready to fish.





Finally, something I can pwn: worms.

One small wrinkle: I'm now in the northwest corner of the map, which has a distinct lack of ponds (and a distinct lack of everything else: even the tiny town that used to exist out here has been removed, leaving only a solitary water pump). The only pond I can think of is west of Vybor, south of here. Vybor has grown busier recently: with military weapons becoming more rare and player spawn-points spreading further inland, there's much more foot traffic in Vybor lately than there has been in ages. I'll have to proceed carefully.





Fishing tip: look both ways before crossing a field.

I skirt past the bus depot, then crouch nearby, peering down at it, wondering if I should loot it. If I catch a fish I'll need to cook it, and I still have neither matches for a fire nor a portable stove or cooking pot. While I'm watching the depot for activity, I hear a sharp crack from my left and my screen goes black. Someone's shot me, most likely from a cluster of trees north of Lopatino or perhaps even from the same stand of bushes I'm squatting in. Just like that, I'm dead. Everything I've spent the morning collecting is gone.

Part two: the catch

Okay, then! It appears I crouched in the wrong bush while looking in the wrong direction. After a long, deep sigh, I put my deceased character out of my head and respawn in Dubrovka, a small town that would be perfect to loot for starter gear except that it's already been picked clean by other players. I head north toward Krasnostav, thinking I'll raid a few buildings there before heading west to the town of Gvozdno, but due to the sun being hidden by the clouds, I accidentally wind up running east. I realize my mistake only when I come across a sign that informs me, dreadfully, that I'm on the outskirts of a place where fresh-spawns go to die: Berezino.





How did they spot me? My red cap and purple backpack, perhaps?

I carefully raid some of the buildings on Berezino's outskirts, making my way north toward Khelm. Berezino being Berezino, though, I run into other players almost immediately. They're semi-geared, but thankfully friendly, and after a brief conversation they wish me a safe trip and head into town to look for trouble. Less friendly is the zombie who assaults me while I'm picking berries, and my apple-picking is abruptly ended as well when I hear a long gout of gunfire a few blocks away.





Uh, thanks for the help, but I've got it.

Okay. I'm being stupid. I bolt from Berezino, and make it through Khelm safely, filling my pack with odds and ends. Then I get stupid again, pressing my luck by hitting the NEAF for the second time today. This time, I'm not the only one there.





Fishing tip: people in masks are horrible.

I don't really mind being held up in DayZ. A lot of times, the muggers just want to make sure you're not a threat, or just want to mess with you a bit. I'm not a fan of being handcuffed, however, and I'm also not a fan of the N-word, which one of the bandits uses repeatedly while preparing to cuff me. So, camping be damned: I take out my machete and start running around wildly while hacking at them. I'm eventually shot dead, but I know I got a couple cuts in: as I lie there in the darkness, I hear one player frantically ask the other for a bandage. Bleed, jerk. Bleed all of your stupid blood.



Part three: the bait

This is quite a fishing trip so far, huh? I spawn quite close to Krasno this time, and the impulse to find a gun any gun and return to the nearby airfield to put some holes in those two masked dickweeds is almost overpowering. I remind myself: you're here to fish. With great effort, I turn and head west through town, though I do stop at the police station just in case there's a firearm there. There isn't.





I'm wearing a police jacket. But I'm clearly under arrest.

I'm stopped a few minutes later by someone else with a gun, though he tells me not to worry, he's not going to hurt me, and we chat for a bit, just long enough for his friend, who I didn't see, to run up behind me and hit me in the back of the head with an axe. Clever girl. Not so clever me.

Part four: the snag

I'm starting to feel like a fish myself, a fish in a very small barrel. I've found myself a Mosin and a long range scope this time out. Though I have no ammo, and I'm not here to shoot anyone, I can at least use the scope as binoculars to scout for trouble ahead. I've been raiding Cernaya Polana, dodging the extremely high population of zombies the town always seems to feature, while listening to the distant booms of Svetlo's constantly exploding gas station. I've also found some nice Gorka camo clothing in the fire station, but no backpack.





Just to prove this zombie game does have zombies occasionally.

I reach the train tracks and begin following them west, keeping an eye on the recently added and heavily trafficked town of Novodmitrovsk as I run. I hear some distant shots, so I peer through my scope, eventually spotting one player running through Novo's streets. It suddenly occurs to me that aiming a rifle at someone is a good way to get shot (though, clearly, not aiming a rifle at someone is also a good way to get shot) so I put it away. Well, I try to put it away.





A million motorcycle helmets. Zero motorcycles.

There's occasionally an issue in DayZ, caused by lag, where player actions are delayed for a few seconds. My character won't put away his gun no matter how insistently I tap the key, so I decide to just run away. Once I've started moving, however, I finally see my guy shoulder his Mosin, though he immediately takes it back out again. Since I'm already running, this causes my character to skate forward as if on ice, and I'm unable to stop him. He slides forward about ten feet, off the edge of a rock, falls about six feet to the ground, and promptly dies. Ah yes, the third threat of DayZ: falling a few short feet. It's often fatal.

Part five: the lure

As if mocking my efforts to fish, the game spawns me north of Svetlojarsk near a small, recently-added fishing village called Dobroe. I loot it, looking longingly at its little pond that would be perfect for fishing, then skirt around Novo to the north, practically off the edge of the map. I'm doing okay: I again have a mountain backpack, a gas canister, and another Mosin (no ammo, though) which I drop when I find another crossbow (still no arrows). I chow down on some apples I find under a tree, I find another hoe to dig up some worms, I find an axe to hack up a new fishing pole with, and I even find a box of 83 matches. I accidentally come down from the hills into the western end of Novo I keep forgetting just how long this city is and cautiously raid few outlying buildings.





Apple-Picking Simulator 2014.

Outside a store, someone shouts at me to put my hands up. I can just see him inside for a moment before he crouches behind a counter. Then he abruptly pops up, firing three shots at me with a pistol. He misses, somehow, all three times, though my real chest almost explodes from the shock. He then yells at me to leave or he'll kill me (translation: he's out of ammo). When my heart restarts, I head west, spotting another pond near the road that would be perfect for fishing, if only I had the rest of what I needed: at this point, just a rope, and a lure.





MinecraftZ.

Along the north road I find a pickaxe and chisel some stones from a boulder. You can use eight of these stones to improve a campfire, though I only have enough room to carry two. I eventually come upon the long row of garages again, finding all of them closed. I open the first, find some rope, attach it to my pole, and pause to eat some collected apples and drink some water. When I come back out, I notice something alarming: the rest of the garage doors are now open. Someone else is here, looting the same row from the opposite direction. He's now standing in the garage next to the one I've been having lunch in.





Of all the garages in all the world, he had to walk into mine.

I peek my head in, wave, and say hello. He has no microphone, and as horrifying as players with mics can be, the silent ones are infinitely worse. Who the hell knows what's going on in their heads? This fellow is typing, though. "Hello."

I tell him I'm no threat, I don't have a gun, I'm just looking to do a little fishing, and all I'm missing is a lure. He stares at me a moment, then looks down to the ground at his feet. A moment later, a fishing lure appears on the floor in front of him. "here take it," he types.

I edge slowly into the garage where he stands, silent and staring, his Mosin still in his gloved hands. I pick up the lure, thank him profusely (he types "np"), ask if he needs anything ("uhh nah") wish him a safe adventure, and then I back carefully out of the garage. I hold up one hand and lean side-to-side to make it wave. Then I run like hell. There's no shot, there's no trick, there's no catch. He was just a good guy helping out a fellow lone wolf. Thanks, stranger.

Part six: the bite

I'm back where I was earlier, in the northwest, thinking again about that pond down near Vybor. This time, though, I give the bus depot and Lopatino a wide berth to the west, further than most players bother to tread. I spot a deer, though in all this time I haven't found a single arrow for my crossbow, and arrows can't yet be crafted. Chasing deer with an axe doesn't really feel like hunting but I do it for a bit anyway, mostly because I'm stalling.





Deer-Bothering Simulator 2014.

I need to push east toward that pond outside Vybor, but I'm desperately worried about being shot again. Eventually, I creep in, moving from treeline to treeline, scanning for players. I've still not found binoculars so I can't scout properly, and red chains are appearing on my screen every few minutes (an indication of desync, often caused by proximity to other players).





Even the fish know better than to pop their heads up in this game.

So, I'm thrilled to stumble across a tiny little pond I didn't know was there, north of Pustoshka, surrounded by trees. I'm still close to Vybor, but not as close as I was planning to get. I edge up to the pond, cast my line, and check the bait. I check the bait again. And again. I check the bait about forty times. Nothing.

I reposition, cast my line again, and check my bait a couple dozen more times. Finally, a notification: "There is some movement near the bait." Then, "Something is cautiously examining the bait." Something besides me, that is. A notification in red: something has bitten the bait! I pull out the line and find I've caught my first fish, a carp. At this point, the little fish is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in DayZ.





This is punishment for eating that innocent worm!

As I do on the rare occasions when something good happens to me in DayZ, I run like hell, my heart in my throat. Away from Vybor and Pusto, west into the trees, where I finally stop, take a long look around, and use my axe to chop a tree down. I combine the resulting sticks with a bandage (you can also use paper or rags) to produce a campfire kit, attach a piece of firewood (from the downed tree), and ignite it with my matches. Lighting a fire can be difficult in high winds or rain, but the weather is perfect and it lights on the first try.

Time to cook my catch! I add my stones to the fireplace, and use my machete (a hunting knife or kitchen knife also work) to filet my fish, then drop the filets into the fire.





Nothing like a crackling fire to put a long day of being murdered behind you.



I wait, a long while, but a nice while, a peaceful while, for my fish to go from raw to cooked. All that's missing is one of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s guitars, though that would make music, which would attract players, who would shoot me in the face or axe me in the head. My fish finally cooks, and I pull them from the fire before they go from cooked to burnt (it doesn't take long for that to happen, same as in real life). Chow time! My fish tastes like victory and fish.



I have re-invented the fishstick.



I'd planned to cover hunting today as well, but you see how even a simple fishing trip can go awry in DayZ. Luckily, there's another form of hunting, where you head to the airfield and look for people wearing clown masks. They don't cook up so well, but on the other hand, you don't need a lot of gear to bag one.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Habitat review (Early Access)">Habitat







Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.



The planet Earth, malformed and scarred from some unthinkable cataclysm, now sports a massive ring of orbiting space debris, some of it very unusual. Along with items you might expect to find floating around in a sci-fi game, like booster rockets, laser cannons, and abandoned space shuttles, you'll also find ferris wheels, hamburger restaurants, enormous buzzsaw blades, and the head of a giant mechanical fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex. Your job is to cobble together this space flotsam to build bizarre weaponized space stations capable of supporting life and dishing out death.



How these items got up here, or why some even exist at all such as the severed head of a cyborg Statue of Liberty isn't important. The point is, they're the key to your survival if you can mash enough of them together. Clicking a piece of debris and dragging it to a location will instruct one of your loyal yet highly-expendable engineers to fly out, nab it, and push it to the spot you've chosen. If two items are close enough, the engineer can weld them together. Rockets and boosters can be lassoed and attached to shuttles, then fired either separately or together to move your ship around in the debris field. Weapons, gas tanks, cargo containers, and anything else you find can be attached to your growing habitat.



The earth is destroyed, but America remains obnoxious as ever.



Goals and objectives are pretty scant at this stage. You're told to generate resources like fuel, electricity, and omni (an undefined, multipurpose resource) all which come as a by-product of sticking parts and pieces together. You're also told to increase your crew to ten engineers, which is just a matter of clicking the plus symbol when you've got enough resources to support them. Another goal, connecting thirty pieces of junk together, is a little challenging complex habitats occasionally explode when their parts bump one another or when fired boosters vibrate too much but you can build several separate habitats at once, making it easier to use more parts.



There's also the reason for all those lasers and rocket-launchers: destroying enemies, though I was a little confused as to what actually constitutes an enemy. I attacked one nearby space platform, simply because I wanted to test my giant sawblade and fire-breathing dino-head. The station was inert, did not offer any resistance, yet when I destroyed it I was credited with eliminating a "predator." Another space station opened fire on a lone astronaut who had become separated from my crew, and proceeded to noisily bombard him for about ten minutes, never killing him and never moving from its spot in orbit. By the time I assembled a new ship to engage, the enemy station had already exploded on its own.



In space, everyone can hear you Dubstep.



Beyond sticking together a bunch of oddball objects, trying to fly in a straight line, and seeing what various weapons do, there's not a whole lot of gameplay at the moment and only the sandbox mode to occupy yourself with. In fact, you can't even stop working on your orbiting masterpiece and come back later: there's currently no way to save your creation. A save feature is coming, according to the developer, but in the meantime don't get too attached to anything you attach to anything else.



Habitat has a good sense of humor and there are some funny objects to find in orbit, but as is often the case with jokes in games, one look is generally enough. A giant speaker that shoots colorful dubstep rays is amusing the first-time you activate it, as are the giant metal Hadouken hands that launch fireballs and Lady Liberty's red, white, and blue laser field. After that, though, I just scrolled past them and looked for more useful items. The exception is the fire-breathing T-rex head. That simply never gets old.



Attaching rockets to ferris wheels has never been easier.

Verdict

There's an hour or so of light, aimless entertainment here, provided you don't mind losing your work when you quit. I don't see much reason to revisit Habitat until it s closer to release.

Outlook

Unclear. None of the stretch goals were met during Habitat's Kickstarter campaign, so elements like multiplayer and modding support, both of which this game could make good use of, might never be a reality. A campaign mode is promised, which would add needed structure, and while the developers are promising frequent updates, the game hasn't been on Early Access long enough to establish a track record (though their first update was on time).



Details

Version reviewed: Version 0.11, July 22, 2014

Reviewed on: Intel i7, 2.8 GhZ, 8 GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 660 Ti

Recommended: Dual core 2gHz processor, 2 GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 550 or higher

Price: $15/ 11

Publisher: 4gency

Developer: Versus Evil LLC.

Multiplayer: Single-player only

Link: Steam store page
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title="Permanent Link to How to create SweetFX-style shaders that don’t affect the HUD with Durante’s GeDoSaTo">gedosato-me3-greyscale







In 2012, Peter "Durante" Thoman wrote the popular mod DSfix for Dark Souls: Prepare to Die on PC. In April 2014, he wrote a series of articles for PC Gamer about modding Dark Souls 2.



About 3 months ago, at the same time as the PC release of Dark Souls 2, I released a new tool called GeDoSaTo. At first, it primarily focused on offering a set of graphical enhancement for DS2, but also supported downsampling in a limited set of DirectX 9 games. Since then, its scope and applicability have expanded greatly. Dark Souls 2 is now just one plugin rather than the main focus, compatibility has increased greatly at this point in time it s more likely for any random DX9 game to be supported than not and new, higher quality downsampling algorithms were added.



One example is Lanczos downsampling, which preserves/enhances small-scale detail, as you can see in this example - a cropped 5120x2880 to 1920x1080 downsampling from Might & Magic X: Legacy:







Crucially, the full source code for GeDoSaTo is now available on GitHub, and I welcome all contributions, including bug-fixes, feature or compatibility enhancements and new game profiles. And this is where this article comes in it is not necessary to know any programming to make significant enhancements to specific games, thanks to the power of the generic plugin. GeDoSaTo's generic plugin offers all the widely popular functionality of injectors such as SweetFX SMAA injection, high quality tone mapping, HDR effects, color, contrast, sharpness and gamma adjustments and more but better, as it allows you to target the application of those effects exactly to where they are needed, while not affecting UI elements or the HUD of games. This article will teach you how to use these capabilities in your own games, and walk through the entire process using Mass Effect 3 as an example.

The Generic Plugin

With GeDoSaTo becoming more general, there was a need to be able to target individual games without polluting the entire codebase. The solution is a plugin system, which allows for plugins written in C++. However, while that is a very powerful solution, it is overkill for most uses and requires some familiarity with programming.



The Generic Plugin is automatically used whenever GeDoSaTo is launched with a game for which no specific plugin exists. It supports the following features:



Downsampling from arbitrary resolutions (the fundamental purpose of GeDoSaTo).

Injecting either SMAA or FXAA post-processing anti-aliasing.

Customized image post-processing shaders.

Post-processing, AA and screenshot targeting to individual pixel shaders.



Points (1) to (3) are rather simple and straightforward to use. Select the desired settings in the configuration file, optionally edit the shader files and you are set. Of course, the same types of post-processing can also be achieved using SweetFX.



Point (4) is where GeDoSaTo distinguishes itself. When you use a SweetFX injector to add some post-processing effects, they will always be applied to the final rendered image, which means that the HUD and various UI elements will be processed as well. Particularly with FXAA and heavier post-processing this can be quite detrimental to the image quality of UI elements, especially that of text. The following image shows the menu screen of Blackguards, both with and without FXAA and post-processing.







As you can see, the injected processing greatly improves the quality of the rendered background elements and cleans up their edges nicely, but it also reduces the clarity of the text and even introduces some artifacts in the 2D elements. This means that when you use a SweetFX injector to change color saturation or add AA, these changes affect the UI as well and often be detrimental to its quality, as in the example above.



Ideally, we would inject post-processing which only affects the rendered image, but not the HUD/UI elements and that is exactly what GeDoSaTo provides. In the rest of this article, I ll walk through the steps of creating game-specific post-processing plugins that will only affect a game s graphics, not its UI.

Getting started with game-specific GeDoSaTo profiles

As an example game, I picked Mass Effect 3 to demonstrate the process of implementing HUD-less post-processing. The first order of business if you want to try a new game (after downloading the latest version of GeDoSaTo) is adding the game s executables to the whitelist. The whitelist is checked by GeDoSaTo, and only programs entered in it are affected. So, start GeDoSaToTool and press the Edit Whitelist button:







This brings up a text editor, which allows you to add executable names or patterns to match multiple files to the existing list.



For Mass Effect 3, we need to add MassEffect3Config and MassEffect3 you can usually find these names by navigating to a game s installation directory. Note that the whitelist also allows you to enter an additional name for each listed program in the case of ME3 this is hardly necessary, but it helps for more obscure files such as lcgol or EoCApp .







After editing the whitelist, you can press Sort Entries to have the entries automatically sorted, and don t forget to save, either with the button or by pressing Ctrl+S. Now we are almost ready to go, but to investigate how to perform HUD-less processing we still need to enable frame dumping (this allows us to record the rendering process of the game, which we will need to identify when exactly we want our injection to happen).



In the Edit Keybindings dialogue, enable the dumpFrame keybinding by uncommenting it like so:





A big dump

After this preliminary setup, it s time to start building a plugin for Mass Effect 3. First, I suggest configuring the game to run at a low resolution, such as 1280x720, and in windowed mode. This is not strictly necessary, but greatly speeds up the overall process. Also, make sure to enable all the graphical settings you want to use later when playing, as changing them might change the shaders the game uses and render all our subsequent findings obsolete.



Once you have started the game, you can press the numpad + key to make GeDoSaTo report its status, in order to make sure that the previous configuration additions were successful. For our Mass Effect 3 example, the result will look like this:







Now, load a saved game and get into a situation where some distracting HUD is shown. For the example, I chose this scene:







The next step is to press the key bound to the dumpFrame action (F9 by default), which causes GeDoSaTo to write out a detailed log of all the relevant rendering actions performed by the game for the next frame, and also an image dump of the current buffer at crucial points. Now might be a good time to brew a nice cup of tea, make a sandwich, check your favorite news site, or perhaps all of the above. What I mean to say is that this process will take a while.



After it has finished, all the information required to achieve HUD-less post-processing and screenshot taking is at our disposal. In particular, what we need is the most recent log file created in the log subfolder of the GeDoSaTo installation directory and the image dumps generated in the tmp folder.





Finding a Suitable Shader

Before coming back to the example, I ll explain how the current post-processing targeting functionality in the generic plugin works. There are two settings related to injection targeting: injectPSHash and injectDelayAfterDraw . The former specifies a hash code for the pixel shader which marks the point during each frame where we d like our post-processing to take place, while the latter is a Boolean value which determines whether or not post-processing should be delayed until after the first draw subsequent to using the shader with the specified hash. The following diagram should illustrate the concept more clearly:







In the upper row, the usual injection process employed by e.g. SweetFX and GeDoSaTo without special configuration is illustrated. Only once a complete frame is rendered does the injection happen, so obviously it applies to both the main rendered 3D scene and any existing HUD elements. Conversely, the lower row shows what happens in a targeted scenario with GeDoSaTo. During rendering, the game configures the GPU to use various pixel shaders (indicated by green lines), and draws geometry with them (red lines).



GeDoSaTo assigns a unique identifier (its Hash) to each shader. The injectPSHash parameter then specifies that the processing should take place when a pixel shader with the given identifier is used. Optionally, the processing can also be delayed until after the following draw call by setting injectDelayAfterDraw. What this means is that we can find, for example, the shader used when drawing the first UI element say a health bar and instruct GeDoSaTo to perform its processing at the point where the game first uses this specific shader. This way, only the actual game content rendered before the UI will be affected by our processing.



Searching a Hash for Mass Effect 3



Armed with this knowledge and the dump data generated previously, all we have to do is find a suitable pixel shader hash for Mass Effect 3. Usually, what I do is open up the folder with the dumped buffer images in windows explorer and set it to show the largest icons possible on the left of my screen, while opening the generated log file on the right (don t pay too much attention to the colors, the discoloration is due to how the alpha channel is being dumped):







It is then usually a rather straightforward task to find a suitable hash code by following these steps:



Find the point in the image dump where the first HUD elements appear. In our case, this happens when going from dump113 to dump114 .

Use text search to find the corresponding line in the log file.

Continue on downwards to the first call of SetPixelShader. The second parameter to this call is the hash code we are looking for.



One complication you might notice is that the HUD is already displayed in dump111 . This can happen in many games if a framebuffer used in a previous frame is not cleared. A more solid guideline for (1) in such cases would be find the last point in the frame dump where no HUD elements are visible , but a bit of experimentation might be required even so.

Creating a Game Profile

In order to use our newly gained hash code, all that remains is creating a game profile for Mass Effect 3. This means creating a subdirectory in the config path of the GeDoSaTo installation named after the game executable that is, as we figured out for the whitelist entry in the beginning, MassEffect3 and putting a GeDoSaTo.ini file into it. We can then use the built-in editor of GeDoSaToTool to edit it and add the hash code, like so:







We could also add more settings which we only want to apply for Mass Effect 3. Additionally, by placing a post.fx shader file in the same directory we can arbitrarily change the post-processing shader used for the game. As a small demonstration that our targeted injection is working, I created a shader which turns the image into a grayscale rendering:







As you can see, only the 3D rendered parts of the game are affected, while the HUD elements still retain their color. In addition to targeted postprocessing, we can now also use the takeHUDlessScreenshot keybinding in Mass Effect 3.

Conclusion

While its main purpose is still high-quality downsampling, the current version of GeDoSaTo can also be used as an alternative to SweetFX for the injection of post-processing effects. It goes beyond the scope of similar tools as, with a bit more effort, it can be tuned to apply only where you really want it to, without affecting HUD or UI elements.



If you find some hashes or create good profiles for games which are not yet supported, please do take a moment to contribute them to the project at Github, so that all users of GeDoSaTo can benefit from your efforts. Github offers an easy to use interface and plenty of documentation for how to set up pull requests, which are the best way to contribute and of course your contribution will be immortalized in the GeDoSaTo version history!
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