IslandGamers-Technology And Gaming Info

June 4, 2007

PC Games – User Stats, less than 2% DX10 Capable.

Filed under: PC, PC Games, Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 7:54 am

I’ve taken an interest in the whole DirectX 10 phenomeneon which is supposed to usher in a new era of PC Gaming in the very near future. The games that we’ve seen previews of show graphical improvements over DirectX 9, but nothing thus far that is so incredible when put next to DX9 content as to make DX10 seem like a necessity. The differences between DX8 and DX9 were phenomenal, but DX9 and DX10’s differences seem to be incremental thus far at best. Additionally my understanding of early Windows Vista reviews suggested that the Unified Shader approach should allow for faster framerates as the GPUs will be used far more efficiently. Early benchmarks between DX9 and DX10 versions of demos on the market now have not shown this to be true. DX9 and DX10 framerates are comparable.

Valve has released their own recent statistics which show that actually just over 1% of gamers that play Steam titles  (about 325,386 gamers in all) are Direct X 10 compatible. In fact the majority of Steam gamers are running on Geforce 6600 and 7600 graphics cards, which represents the midrange to lowend of the graphics card market.

Among gamers only about 5% of Steam users have made the Vista upgrade. The fact that not only are there not many DX10 card owners, but not many people seem to own the OS that enables DX10 either raises a question mark as to how this technology is really going to revolutionise the PC Gaming sector as advertised.

Admittedly, it is still quite early in Vista’s lifecycle, and Nvidia’s DX10 capable cards have been on the market for just about 6 months so far. Valve’s statistics are interesting though, for developers who choose to release ‘Vista Only’ titles or who consider chopping the lowend to midrange from their playable specs in future titles.

Check the full Valve statistics here 

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June 1, 2007

PC Games – First DirectX 10 Title is Company of Heroes patch 1.7

Filed under: PC Games, Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 12:34 pm

Company of Heroes has released a patch that updates the game to take advantage of DirectX 10.

So what can gamers expect of the ‘new’ DirectX 10 update?

Not much:

DX10 Features

  • Edges of particles are softened where intersecting 3D objects.
  • Thousands of additional ‘litter’ objects in the world.
  • Improved user control over anti aliasing settings.
  • Alpha to coverage anti aliasing to improve quality of alpha test objects such as shrubs.
  • Lighting quality has improved by moving all calculations per pixel.
  • More precise point light calculations.
  • Point lights can now cast shadows.
  • 3D short grass on the terrain.
  • Vertical refresh synchronization is enabled by default to improve visual quality by preventing tearing of the display image, use ‘-novsync’ to disable.
  • Hardware PCF for improved shadow quality.”

Whee. So we get better eyecandy. And more ‘litter’ objects. No notes about improved framerate though. We hope to get some reviews that show comparisons between the versions, as well as benchmarks from the DX9 and DX10 versions soon.

PC Games – No Starcraft 2 in 2007.

Filed under: PC Games — Ramajay @ 11:32 am

Blizzard’s Rob Pardo mentioned to MSNBC news that Starcraft won’t debut in 2007. Those that saw the demo thought the game was in such an advanced state of development that it could possibly see a 2007 release. Oh well.

“The only thing I can give you [that’s] concrete is it’s not going to be this year. Some people were hoping, because of how advanced the game looks, that we’d have it out by Christmas, but that’s definitely not happening.”

Blizzard is putting a lot of effort into online matchmaking, and intends to distinguish itself from Supreme Commander, Company of Heroes and others by offering an excellent Online competitive experience.

The interview also notes that there is not going to be a fourth race added to the game. Starcraft 2 will feature the same tried and true formula of Terran,Protoss and Zerg. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

More of our Starcraft 2 Posts 

link: ars technica

May 25, 2007

PC Games – Dungeon Runners Launches!

Filed under: PC Games — Ramajay @ 7:21 am

Dungeon Runners is a Diablo-esque full 3D MMORPG type game by NCSoft. Players can download the client for free, and play for free but have the option to pay US$4.99 a month for additional features.

Gamers are asked to download a small client file of about 375k which in turn downloads the full game client which is about 420MB. Graphics are acceptable, reminding me of Warcraft 3 or Heroes of Might and Magic with some better effects. The game seems to be pure hack and slash Action RPG fare, which isn’t a bad thing.

Give it a whirl, after all it’s free. 🙂

May 19, 2007

PC Games – Blizzard announces Starcraft 2

Filed under: PC Games — Ramajay @ 7:57 am

The long wait is over for the sequel to what fans claim to be the best Real Time Strategy game ever made!

Starcraft 2 has been officially announced by Blizzard!

Blizzard has mentioned the following features for the sequel:

  • Races will be further distinguished from one another through new gameplay mechanics and new units.
  • Some of the original units will also be receiving new abilities, but it is unclear which ones are included at present.
  • Uses a 3D engine that “realistic physics and the ability to render several large, highly detailed units and massive armies on-screen simultaneously.”
  • The map editor is returning — huzzah!
  • And — shocker — there will be both a single player and multiplayer version of the game.
  • It will be released for both the Mac and PC.
  • No release date currently exists.

“With StarCraft II, we’ll be able to do everything we wanted to do with the original StarCraft and more,” stated Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We recognize that expectations are high following the long-running popularity of the original game, but we plan to meet those expectations and deliver an engaging, action-packed, competitive experience that StarCraft players and strategy gamers worldwide will enjoy.”

Starcraft II will contain the same three races from Starcraft I with no additions :Protoss, Terran and Zerg. These races do, however, have a few new units added which should alter gameplay somewhat. Another fantastic out-of-the-box addition is the full map-making and scripting toolset that will allow players to completely alter the game, ensuring that Starcraft II will probably be played for the next decade after release.

May 14, 2007

ATI- Radeon HD 2900XT Reviews On Net.

Filed under: AMD, ATI, Nvidia, PC Games — Ramajay @ 9:01 am

The results from the reviews are as described in our earlier post here. The card is a disappointment to those hoping for a frame rate monster and does not compete in the high-end with Nvidia’s 8800GTX card based on pure gaming performance.

The summary from various reviews is that the card performs about the same as the Nvidia 8800GTS in most games. The 2900XT ,however, draws an alarming 200W of power under load and ATI/AMD recommends a 550W powersupply at minimum and a 750W power supply if you are thinking of a crossfire solution. The card is longer than the GTS and in addition to this immense power draw it requires a large cooler which one review site described as a mini A/C unit. The 2900XT has been reported to idle at around 70c and peak at 84c when under load during a 3DMark2006 benchmark.

Nvidia now owns the high-end, and we did not see an offering from ATI that matched the performance improvements of the old 9700 series of graphics cards which totally eclipsed Nvidia FX series for an entire generation all the way up to the X800 XT cards vs Nvidia’s 5900 Fxs.

The 2900XT does offer the usual great image quality from ATI, with some new modes such as HQ Anisotropic rendering and CSAA modes faring quite well in image quality testing. The card also delivers HD right out the box which allows you to view 1080P HD content with just a 10-15% impact on your CPU as the entire decoding process is managed on the graphics card itself. Potential buyers also need to take into account that these cards come standard with High Def HDMI connectors which provides HDCP immediately, with sound. ATI also arranged a bundle deal with Valve to give you some free Steam titles due to be released: HL2:Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress.

The 2900XT is priced at around US$399.00.

ATI is looking a bit better in the low to midrange market, with the 2600 and 2400 series of cards sipping power and providing some good performance, although we have yet to see these cards benchmarked and on the market. Consumers will actually have to wait till around July for the 2600 and 2400 to hit store shelves.

From a pure performance perspective, Enthusiast gamers will go for the 8800GTX when Frames per second is king. Those people looking to watch their pockets and who view HD content on their PCs may opt for the ATI solution as they weigh the noise factor and power supply issues.

Check the reviews for yourself here:

May 11, 2007

PC Games- Stalker Patch 1.0003

Filed under: PC Games — Ramajay @ 5:54 pm

A new patch has been released for Stalker, moving the games version number to 1.0003. I have no idea why they selected such a ridiculous version number system, one may worry at the number of fixes the team thinks it will take to get to version 1.1 😉 .

This patch doesn’t break previous savegames and your saves from 1.0001 should all work just fine. There are some AI tweaks as well as general game stability issues, including multiplayer features and stability tweaks.

Get It Here

May 6, 2007

ATI – R600 X2900XTX a Disappointment

Filed under: ATI, Nvidia, PC, PC Games — Ramajay @ 6:24 pm

DailyTech has performed an initial benchmark test with Retail drivers of the X2900XT and XTX graphics card from ATI. If readers recall, this card utilises ATI’s new R600 chip and has been delayed several times supposedly to allow ATI to release a full lineup of DirectX10 cards to the market at the same time.

Nvidia released the high end 8800GTX and GTS series late last year, and has now introduced midrange entries to market.

Some analysts touted that the R600 would definitely trump the 8800GTX’s performance figures and far outclass Nvidia’s DX10 offerings.

The actual benchmark performance does not eclipse Nvidia’s top end 8800GTX card, however, and instead ATI’s flagship top -of -the -line offering competes directly with the 8800GTS, the next step down from the 8800GTX.

In Company of Heroes, the 8800GTX pushed 80fps while ATI 2900XTX managed to deliver 53.2fps at the widescreen gaming resolution of 1920×1200. Eldersrolls IV:Oblivion showed the 8800GTX similarly outperforming the ATI XTX card by 23.3 fps with the GTX pushing 98.4fps and the XTX 75.1fps.

Things don’t look good for ATI at this point with regard competing with Nvidia in the DX10 market. The balance has swung once more over to Nvidia with regard to best performing card after their FX series debacle. The company has also never given up the marketing lead and prospective buyers are still far more likely to see an Nvidia advertisement online or in a game rather than the ATI brand.

This coupled with the fact that ATI will not be able to boast even similar performance to the Nvidia card and it makes it very difficult for them to compete, unless they attempt to differentiate themselves based on quality, or better HD television output.

We’ll let you know more about this battle between the Graphics Card giants as it unfolds!

May 4, 2007

PC – New Nvidia Drivers for XP 158.22

Filed under: PC, PC Games — Ramajay @ 8:43 pm

Nvidia has released some new drivers for XP. They include support for the Nvidia 8800 Ultra as well as the rest of the G80 lineup:

GeForce 8300 GS
GeForce 8400 GS
GeForce 8500 GT
GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 8600 GTS
GeForce 8800 GTS
GeForce 8800 GTS
GeForce 8800 Ultra

Get them here

May 3, 2007

PC Games- City Of Heroes Issue 9 Released.

Filed under: PC Games — Ramajay @ 4:00 am

That high flying MMORPG, City Of Heroes has released its latest update: Issue 9. The latest issue promises a Crafting and Auction system which many gamers felt was missing from the game. Players will be able to collect dropped items, commonly known as loot in other RPGs, from enemies which they have defeated. These items can be combined according to various recipes into new types of player created Enhancements which players can use to boost their powers. Oh, and you can make new types of Wings as well for your characters. Wings are cool. There are also some new High Level Task forces for players to team up in, with their commensurate uber rewards at the end! 

(more…)

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