Facebook Purchases Oculus

facebook oculus rift

I can guarantee that no one saw this coming. Social media giant Facebook has just purchased Oculus, the company behind the VR-device Oculus Rift, for two billion dollars. That’s billion with a “b”, folks.

The Oculus team posted an update to their Kickstarter page, outlining why they though Facebook would be a good fit with Oculus technology and their excitement to work with Mark Zuckerberg.

Of course there’s been an Internet backlash over this; Markus “Notch” Persson of Mojang has announced that he’s canceled the Oculus version of Minecraft because thinks Facebook is “creepy”. Original backers are flipping out, saying that the VR company has sold out and are requesting refunds.

What do you guys think of this news? It’s certainly out of left field, that’s for sure. Is everyone making mountains out of molehills here? Should Oculus have consulted with their backers in some form first, or is this their right as an independent company? Go!

Sources – Oculus Kickstater Notch’s Twitter

Inside Look at Wii U Reveals Development Woes

Wii U

We’re sometimes hard on Nintendo around here, but it’s (for the most part) out of love for what Nintendo was and could be. The Wii U, Nintendo’s latest stab at relevance in the gaming world, has been met with a lack of enthusiasm embodied by abysmal sales.

So how does something like this happen? If you’ve ever wanted an inside look at the development process of an entire console, EuroGamer presented the latest in its series, The Secret Developers. The premise of this feature is that developers write candidly and anonymously about particular subjects. This edition of the Secret Developers just happens to focus on the genesis—and troubling development— of the Wii U by a major third party developer.

And it’s certainly…interesting, to say the least. Continue reading Inside Look at Wii U Reveals Development Woes

The Xbox One Community Gives Microsoft Some Feedback

xbox feedback

If there’s one way to mercilessly QA-test your new product, it’s by releasing it into the wild. Rest assured that, no matter how many man-hours your company put into testing a device, giving it to a million people will mean that any bugs, issues or glaring oversights will pop up in short order.

Since the Xbox One released on November 22, the gaming community has had plenty of time to fool around with it and figure out what it’s missing. A website called Xbox Feedback has sprung up where suggestions for future updates to Microsoft’s new console can be found.

Personally, I find the lack of some of what I would consider no-brainers (such as being able to check the battery charge on the home screen or the difficulties with party chat) pretty mind-boggling. Even though the Xbox 360 got bogged down with a UI that it was never really built to support, it still had a lot of user friendly tools and tricks. I personally appreciated the ability to set the controls to every game for inverted as a system-level option because I am a weirdo.

What do you guys think about Xbox Feedback? Any suggestions you would add to their current list? Do you think this website will actually gain any traction?

Source – Xbox Feedback

Digital Foundry Tests Dead Rising 3, Finds it Lacking

dead rising 3 digital foundry

Launch titles for a new generation of consoles have a lot to live up to. They have to be discernibly different from the previous generation, look better, carry all sorts of bells and whistles and run smoothly.

Given that this is the first hardware refresh in eight long years, perhaps the expectations leading into this gen are too high. Some people might have been expecting 60 frames per second and 1080p on every game, but recently it came to light that the early games of this console cycle will rarely be hitting that mark.

In fact, Dead Rising 3 falls far below it, as Digital Foundry found out on behalf of Eurogamer. The Xbox One launch title runs at 720p and is supposed to be a consistent 30 fps, but sometimes it dips down to the lower twenties and high teens. The dip is especially noticeable in the large outdoor areas now that Dead Rising 3 is a contiguous open-world and boasts a larger variety of zombies than the previous titles.

Dead Rising 3 does have a crazy amount of effects like per-object motion blur (which the original game had as well, believe it or not) and seems to be a vast improvement over the performance the game displayed at E3, which was apparently choppy and tearing frames all over the place. It seems that Dead Rising 3 definitely puts the Xbox One through its paces.

What do you guys think? Did Dead Rising 3 promise what it can’t deliver? Did we expect too much going into this next generation of consoles? Is 1080p at 60 fps still another cycle off?

Source – Eurogamer

The GamerSushi Show, Ep 75: Millions of Beeches

gamersushi show ep 75 gta 5

We’re back after a week break, but can you blame us? We needed time to digest Rockstar’s latest magnum opus, GTA 5. As you can imagine, a large portion of the cast is taken up by this game, but we only talk up to the first heist, so there’s not a huge risk of spoilers.

Other than that we talk Valve’s Steam announcements (outside of the Steam controller that hadn’t been revealed yet), I heap some love on Nintendo for the Wii U and Windwaker HD and the fact that Apple payed EA to give them the exclusive launch of Plants vs Zombies 2, and apparently that’s a big deal?

Anyways, you know the drill by now, listen, rate and come back next week (hopefully) for another installment of the GamerSushi Show!

0:00 – 6:27 Intro
6:28 – 21:40 SteamOS, Steam Machines
21:42 – 26:58 Next Gen Transfers
26:59 – 31:09 Wii U and Wind Waker HD
31:10 – 37:25 EA and Apple “Non-troversy”
37:26 – 1:01:07 GTA 5
1:01:08 – 1:03:48 Outro

Sony E3 2013 Press Conference Highlights

PS4 E3

Now that Microsoft has sounded off this morning, it’s time for Sony to jump in with their own version of what the next generation of video gaming should look like. As these things tend to go, the conference had its share of highs, lows, hyperbole, hype and exciting moments. But most of all, some shots fired at Microsoft.

Many people said that this year was Sony’s to lose. So how did they do? Continue reading Sony E3 2013 Press Conference Highlights

Steam Box Build: The Twin Birds

Twin Birds

Before we start I wanted to note that all of the pictures in this article are linked to higher resolution versions.

Let’s Begin

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I set out on a journey. My journey wasn’t very different from that of Frodo and Samwise when they set out from the Shire to take The One Ring to Mordor, and cast it into the fires of Mount Doom. But, instead of Sam I had Jeff, and instead of throwing a ring into some lava, I was researching, pricing out and building new gaming PCs. This marks the first new PC I’ve built for myself since 2007 when I put together what we lovingly refer to as the “Leet World PC.” The itch to build a new machine began when Steam released Big Picture Mode, and I started to really love the idea of having a 10-foot experience for my PC games.

The goals I had for this build:

  1. Try to stay close to a $600 price point.
  2. Find a smaller, good looking-case and quiet components since it will be in the living room.
  3. Have playable frame rates in most games at 1080p with everything maxed.

Alright, on the important stuff…

Specs

PART DESCRIPTION PRICE
CPU Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz $119.99
Motherboard ASRock B75M-ITX Mini ITX $89.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 $40.98
Storage Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5″ 7200RPM $59.99
Video Card HIS IceQ Turbo Radeon HD 7850 2GB $189.99
Case BitFenix Prodigy Mini ITX Tower $79.99
Power Supply Antec NEO ECO 620C $49.99
TOTAL $630.92[1]

 

Choices

parts

Some of you might say, “Nick, you could’ve spent less money than that, and get basically the same performance if you had done ‘X’ thing.” And, you wouldn’t be wrong in that statement, but what you are forgetting is that I don’t care what you have to say. Yes, it’s true that if I would’ve gone with a different case (ATX/Mini ATX) I wouldn’t have been locked into paying more for a Mini ITX board, but the smooth lines and sexy curves of the BitFenix[2] case were too much to pass up. Another limiting factor with Mini ITX was the lack of AMD motherboards available, so I chose to go Intel.

mobo

Since the Prodigy case has two USB 3.0 ports on the side, I wanted to find a board that had USB 3.0 headers, and the ASRock B75M-ITX fit the bill. Not only that, but it has two more USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA port on the back, so you can connect all the things. After deciding on the board, I needed a CPU. Since this was meant to be just a gaming machine, I felt that I could skimp here, and didn’t go for the PC-builder’s darling, the Intel i5. Instead, I opted for the i5’s little brother, the i3-3220, and it’s a great little dual-core hyper-threaded chip that won’t bottleneck the GPU, which is the most important part. I originally was going to only get 4GB of RAM since most games can’t address more than that, but it was almost the same price to go for 8GB, so I thought I’d future-proof the box a little bit.

gpu

The crown jewel of this build is the GPU. Yes, it’s not the best graphics card ever, but for under $200, you can’t do much better. ATI’s Radeon HD 7850 is already a pretty fast card, but HIS has over-clocked their IceQ Turbo to 1.0GHz[3]. I also opted for 2GB of Video RAM, up from the standard 1GB, to help with anti-aliasing and texture detail at higher resolutions. Another nice thing about the HIS Ice Turbo is that it’s quiet… Really quiet. When I fired the machine up for the first time, I didn’t realize that it was on for a second. To go along with this beefy GPU, I picked up a 620 watt Antec PSU. Antec is one of the best names in power supplies, and this little guy delivers. It has more than enough connectors for HDD/GPU/fans, and is almost silent while running.

And now back to the good part…

Pictures

prep
As any gamer knows, first, we gather our materials.
tools
A good builder needs their tools.
build
By the middle of the build I had taken over our entire dining room table.
power
Those boards don’t work on water! Unless you’ve got power!
removed
I had to remove both the secondary Hard Drive Cage and the DVD Drive Bay…
beast
…to fit this beast.
ass
Dat ass.
done
Aaaaaand we’re done!
black
Only to have to do it all again, in black.

Obligatory benchmark

bench

Alternates

If you are looking to build something similar, but maybe want to go a cheaper route, here are some options. First, you could build basically the same computer but with a cheaper case and motherboard. Also, if you are going to be running your games at 720p, something like a Radeon HD 7770 or NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 650 would suit your needs fine. One interesting solution, if you like the case or the ITX form factor, is to go AMD. Yes, earlier I said there was a lack of AMD boards for Mini ITX, but the one or two that there are, are FM2 socket. The FM2 socket is for AMD’s Trinity, formerly Vision, APUs which are a combo CPU/GPU on the same chip. I know what you are saying, “But Nick, integrated graphics suck,” and you used to be correct. The Trinity APU is the first solution that is actually a viable integrated graphics solution for gaming. I’ve seen playable frame rates from games like Sleeping Dogs at 720p using an AMD A10-5800K. This would obviously save you a lot, because you won’t have to buy a separate GPU, and if you want, in the future you can Crossfire it with a matching ATI GPU for more performance.

To Wrap it Up

After the blood[4], sweat and tears I ended up with a pretty sweet little machine. She is quieter than the XBox 360 it sits next to, prettier than the PS3 on the other side, and more powerful than either. I loaded up a couple Steam games, and they look gorgeous at 1080p on the 50″ plasma. But, as happy as I am with the little black box, the dream of being able to just fire up your PC and start playing is not quite there yet. Consoles are still hands down more user-friendly. I had issues with Big Picture not auto loading, stability in games and not being able to dismiss alerts without a keyboard and mouse. Overall, I’m incredibly happy with the purchase, and wouldn’t change a thing, but this whole experience has really showed that unfortunately, Big Picture is not ready for prime time quite yet.


 

1. These are the prices I paid at the time. The cost of parts can fluctuate wildly, so your mileage may vary.
2. The BitFenix name and logo inspired the names of the PCs: Jean-Grey (White) and Dark-Phoenix (Black).
3. ATI Radeon HD 7850s are factory clocked to 860MHz.
4. I have cut myself at some point during every build I’ve ever done, and this was no exception.