Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Game Developers want DirectX Out of the Picture According to AMD

Microsoft DirectXIt comes as no surprise to anybody that console graphics pale in comparison to the graphical possibilities of the PC. Compare a card like the GeForce GTX 580 and its 512 stream processor to the 48 units found in the Xenos GPU of the Xbox 360 and you might as well be comparing VHS to Blu-Ray. That doesn't even take into consideration the aging GeForce 7-series that you get with the PS3.

That is why it is so amazing that, even though PC games often look much better than their console counterparts, they do not crush console graphics into oblivion. Why is this, you may ask? Well, it is primarily due to the fact that a majority of games are designed for consoles first and PCs second. AMD, however, says that this could change if PC game developers were able to program PC hardware directly at a low-level as opposed to going through an API like DirectX.

According to Richard Huddy, Worldwide Developer Relations Manager of the GPU Division at AMD, "It's funny. We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it's very clear that games don't look ten times as good. To a significant extent, that's because, one way or another, for good reasons and bad - mostly good, DirectX is getting in the way." According to Huddy, one of the most common requests he gets from a game developer is "Make the API go away."

"I certainly hear this in my conversations with games developers," Huddy added. "And I guess it was actually the primary appeal of Larrabee to developers - not the hardware, which was hot and slow and unimpressive, but the software - being able to have total control over the machine, which is what the very best games developers want. By giving you access to the hardware at the very low level, you give games developers a chance to innovate, and that's going to put pressure on Microsoft - no doubt at all. Wrapping it up in a software layer gives you safety and security but unfortunately tends to rob you of quite a lot of the performance, and most importantly it robs you of the opportunity to innovate."

Now you may be thinking to yourself, weren't shaders designed to allow developers to be more innovative with their graphics? Yes, as a matter of fact, they were. The ability to run programs directly on the graphics hardware definitely allows for some flexibility, especially when you get past the fixed-function shaders accompanied by DirectX 8. Yet aside from a few stranger indie games, there isn't a lot holding you back from saying that a whole lot of PC games look a whole lot like one another.

Huddy added, "The funny thing about introducing shaders into games in 2002 was that we expected that to create more visual variety in games, but actually people typically used shaders in the most obvious way. That means that they've used shaders to converge visually, and lots of games have the same kind of look and feel to them these days on the PC. If we drop API, then people really can render everything they can imagine, not what they can see - and we'll probably see more visual innovation in that kind of situation."

For the full story including an Overhead of DirectX performance and Problems with Multiple GPU Architectures head on over to bit-tech.

Source: bit-tech - Farewll to DirectX?

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Fastest-selling Consumer Electronic Device"

On Wednesday, March 9 Microsoft announced that it has sold more than 10 million Kinect units for its Xbox 360. The device was launched by Microsoft on November 4 and has now become the fastest-selling device in the world.

On the very same day, the Guinness World Records reported that the Kinect now holds the title of the “Fastest-selling Consumer Electronic Device” in the entire world. It sold more than 8 million units in the first 60 days after its release. This statistic was released by Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer at CES in January. Between November 4 and January 3, the Kinect has sold an average of 133,333 units per day.

"The sales figures outstrip both the iPhone and the iPad for the equivalent periods after launch," Guinness World Records wrote in a blog post.
Then, between January 3 and March 9, Microsoft sold close to two million Kinect units. This is roughly the same number of devices that Microsoft sold within the first 24 days.

The Kinect has been one of Microsoft’s most successful recent products. The company’s 2010 fourth quarter revenues shot off the charts. There were rumors of a shortage of Kinects in January, and supposedly, Microsoft had to tap into February’s units.

There are more than 50 million Xbox 360 owners worldwide. Microsoft is hoping to snatch up users who don’t have a Kinect yet, as they add more than just gaming features. It now has features like controller-free Hulu and Netflix and there are hints of PC support.

"The community that has blossomed since the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360 in November shows the breadth of invention and depth of imagination possible when people have access to ground-breaking technology," Steve Clayton, director of cloud strategy at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. "Already, researchers, academics and enthusiasts are thinking through what's next in natural and intuitive technology."

There are also promises from Microsoft to release a non-commercial SDK free download for the Kinect in the spring.

"[It] will give academic researchers and enthusiasts access to key pieces of the Kinect system—such as the audio technology, system application programming interfaces and direct control of the Kinect sensor itself," Clayton wrote.

"Supporting this community and enabling creativity around natural user interfaces (NUI) is important to us, and our hope is that this SDK will ignite further creativity in an already vibrant ecosystem of enthusiasts," Clayton wrote.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

GDC Unveils the Villain of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Uncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionWhile I am no fan of the PS3, the system does have one very very good game going for it and that is the Uncharted series. Both Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves were some of the most sold games for this generation of consoles and the third one is one of the most anticipated games of the 2011 holiday season.

One of the biggest things that people are wondering about is where the story will go from the first two games and, most importantly, who the main villain is going to be to antagonize Drake in his third trip to the PS3. GDC was lucky enough to have some playable demos available for the game and it was clear in the first few minutes that Naughty Dog was not going to hold anything back.

The GDC reveal of Uncharted 3 most likely set in stone anything you were wondering about concerning what the new game would contain. This game, like its two predecessors, is set to give you a truly enticing and riveting experience with intense action similar to the previous games and storytelling to rival Bioware. But GDC did something else for gamers by introducing them, for the first time, to the game's main villain.

The new cutscene shown at GDC introduces gamers to Katherine Marlowe, an aging British woman and head of the 400-year-old cabal associated with the Queen Elizabeth and Drake's relative Sir Francis Drake. The outset of the cutscene has Drake and Sully thrown into an alley in England where Marlowe's henchmen rough them up to the point that they are adequately subdued enough for Marlowe herself to show up.

Sure Drake has gotten himself into some pretty sticky situations before, but Naughty Dog promises that Marlowe is a real threat and the biggest one to Drake yet. While she may seem like a fiery old woman who just wants to get her hands on some treasure, she is still not someone to be taken lightly. She has some pretty rough lackies and is even capable, and willing, to do some of the dirty work herself as seen in the cutscene. Marlowe seems to favor psychological taunts as opposed to physical ones and even steals the ring Drake wears around his neck, the same ring that was important in the first game and is sure to be important in this one.

That is about all that was revealed about Marlowe at GDC, but the event did show off some other things that gamers will find interesting. The game will be running in 3D if you have a TV capable of doing so. The effects looked really smooth in 3D but it probably isn't worth buying a 3D if you don't already have one. A lot of people, however, were very interested in Katherine Marlowe and her role in the plot. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception looks to be one helluva game and the PS3's best title for the 2011 holiday season.

Source: IGN - The Villain of Uncharted 3

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