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Last Build Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2018 01:51:56 +0100


Neverwinter Events Starting on March 22, 2018

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:03:50 -0700


This weekend has a lot of potential for Guild Strongholds in Neverwinter. There are several events going on that are really exciting! These events are running Thursday, March 22, through Monday, March 26. This weekend’s events include: Double Icewind Dale currency, Double Shards of Power, and 20% off Stronghold Items in the Zen store. These items are often bottlenecks for upgrading Stronghold structures, so I suggest making the most of this weekend. 

One way to do that is for Guild Leaders to hold a Coffer Contest! If you Click Here, you can download this program that analyzes the donations for you, and it makes the contest much easier to manage. These contests are a great way to expedite Guild growth. The hardest part is finding prizes! 

If you aren’t familiar with Guild Strongholds, this Guild Member Guide explains how these currencies help to grow the guild. 

Sources: IWD Currency Arc Games

Oculus Releases Hardware Report on Computer Running Oculus Software

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:29:25 -0700

Oculus has released data on the hardware people are running Oculus software one for the four weeks ending on March 19. According to the data on CPUs, Intel leads AMD at 89.1% with AMD processors powering just 10.9% of the computers surveyed. This is not too surprising and roughly matches the numbers in the Steam Hardware Survey, though it is interesting the only AMD CPU to crack the top 15 is the FX-8350 (at 2.1%) and none of the popular Ryzen CPUs surpassed the 1.8% of the Intel Core i7-4790. The top two CPUs are the i7-6700K (9.8%) and i7-7700K (8.3%) while the newer i7-8700K is at the number eight position (2.8%).

On the GPU side, NVIDIA is in a commanding 92.2% of Oculus software running computers, compared to AMD's 7.8%. The three top GPUs are hardly surprising, being the GTX 1070 (19.4%), GTX 1080 (17.3%), and the GTX 970 (10.4%). The first AMD GPU to appear on the top 15 list is the RX 480 with 2.0% and the RX 580 is next with 1.4%, taking the eleventh and twelfth slots. The GTX 960 (1.3%) separates the RX 580 from the R9 200 series and R9 390 series, which both came in at 1.0%. AMD fares a little better in the current Steam Hardware Survey data, but NVIDIA still clearly holds the crown over its competitors there too.

Source: Oculus

Vega 12 Patches Appear for AMD Open-Source Linux Driver

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:03:49 -0700

AMD has been working hard for quite some time now on its open source Linux drivers, ensuring the proper code is there when products launch, but as it is open source, the patches are visible to the public. Recently some 42 patches, totaling sixty thousands lines of kernel code, appeared within the AMD GPU Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) kernel driver, bringing initial support for Vega 12. A lot of the code is auto-generated header files and even the new code is largely copied from that for Vega 10 and the Raven Ridge APUs, but it is still there so it appears Vega 12 is coming.

Exactly what this GPU is can only be guessed at currently, but it being the previously seen and announced discrete mobile version of the architecture would make sense. The code does have five PCI IDs in it, but this does not mean there will be five SKUs of the GPU as manufacturers often reserve more of these than they need. This covers the potential release of additional SKUs in the future as well as engineering variants that never come to consumers.

Source: Phoronix

IBM Developing Very Small Computers to Use Blockchain to Secure Products and More

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 09:54:28 -0700

I keep my desktop under my desk, so next to my leg is a mid-tower case with an E-ATX motherboard and a CPU the size of a credit card, and in my pocket is another computer, a fair bit larger than a credit card. These are both pretty powerful devices, compared to what was possible a decade ago, especially when you also consider the size of the current devices. You have to go back almost three decades for the performance equivalent, but IBM has recently shown off a new computer it has built that is smaller than grains of salt.

The entire package of the computer, processor, memory, communications, and photovoltaic cell for power, comes to just one square millimeter but still offers the performance of an x86 processor from 1990. It can also be made for under ten cents. What is the purpose of such a tiny computer? While more may be imagined in the future, one currently considered application is to secure various products using blockchain. These computers would serve as crypto-anchors and could be used to check the authenticity of products, such as medicines, and track their sources, which would be valuable for diamonds and other resources, by following something from the point of manufacture to delivery to the customer.

IBM is currently working with prototypes of these computers, but clients can expect the first models to be available to them within 18 months and within five years, advances in various technologies may take it from the lab to the marketplace.


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Source: Mashable and IBM

THQ Nordic and Nickelodeon Partner to Bring Back Select Game Titles

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 09:01:10 -0700

If you enjoyed or still do enjoy Nickelodeon television shows, then this might like this announcement. THQ Nordic and Nickelodeon have partnered to revive a number of game titles related to Nickelodeon properties. A similar agreement existed with the former THQ, which filed for bankruptcy years ago, and the new THQ Nordic is very proud to have signed this agreement.

The announcements for when these games will be hitting shelves will come in future months, but we do already have a full list of the titles:

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Back At The Barnyard
  • Catscratch
  • Danny Phantom
  • El Tigre
  • Invader Zim
  • Jimmy Neutron
  • My Life As A Teenage Robot
  • Rocket Power
  • Rocko's Modern Life
  • Rugrats
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Tak And The Power Of JUJU
  • The Fairly OddParents (US only)
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show
  • The Wild Thornberrys

Source: THQ Nordic

Futuremark Working to Bring DirectX Raytracing to 3DMark

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:48:14 -0700


Microsoft, NVIDIA, and AMD have all made announcements of ray tracing recently, and bringing real-time techniques and technologies to games, so it is probably not too surprising Futuremark, the developers of 3DMark have also been working on the technology. Today the company has released a demo to show off DirectX Raytracing (DXR) as it works to eventually release a new 3DMark benchmark test that will use it.

Ray tracing is not a new method, but is quite demanding, which is why its use has been very limited for decades and almost vacant for any real-time applications, such as video games. As computer hardware has become more powerful though, and more advanced algorithms have been developed, it appears the industry at large believes the time to bring ray tracing to modern graphics has come. What Futuremark specifically describes though is not a move to completely using ray tracing, but combining it with the long used and very fast rasterization for creating scenes. The ray tracing is used to enhance various light effects, such as shadows and reflections, which you can see in the video below. If you follow the source link you will also see GIFs that go between having DXR on and off, to better illustrate the difference ray tracing can make.

Futuremark says it hopes to have the new benchmark test out by the end of the year, but it also states the DXR tech demo is able to run in real-time on current GPU hardware. It was also relatively easy to implement into the company's DirectX 12 game engine, as it is built on existing methods, which is something you can learn more about at Microsoft's DirectX Developer Blog. Futuremark also states that it should be “relatively straightforward” to implement in modern game engines. The tech demo does not use NVIDIA RTX or AMD’s ray tracing solution and only exists as a tech demo, so you should not expect it to be part of a future 3DMark test.


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Source: Futuremark

Next Assassins' Creed Game Might Be Set in Greece

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:25:11 -0700

After taking a break from its yearly release cadence, the Assassin's Creed franchise returned last year with the release of Assassin's Creed Origin, taking players to ancient Egypt, farther back in history than the series has before. Rumors are now suggesting the next game, expected in Fall 2019, will be set in Greece, which has a great deal of interesting history, like Egypt. At one point rumors had claimed Origins would include a portion set in Greece, but then that changed to Greece being saved for the next game, and these latest rumors support that. Also part of the rumor is that this next game entered full production at the beginning of 2017 and is being developed for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

Time will tell if this rumor is accurate, and my guess would be an announcement at this year’s E3, if not sooner, especially if the Fall 2019 launch target is accurate.


AMD Releases Initial Assessment of Security Flaws Found by CTS Labs

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:10:09 -0700

Last week a number of security flaws in AMD products were reported by CTS Labs, a security research company. The company only provided AMD with the information on these issues the day before publicly announcing them, but already AMD has news to report on these issues from its initial technical assessment.

While many of the issues were described as relating to the Zen architecture, AMD states the issues are actually only associated with the firmware for the embedded security control processor (AMD Secure Processor) in some of its products, and the chipset used in some AM4 and TR4 platforms. AMD also makes a point that all of the issues require administrative access to the system, at which point the user has unrestricted access to the system and can use a far greater range of attacks than just those described by CTS Labs. Additionally, modern operating systems and enterprise-quality hypervisors have security controls to prevent unauthorized administrative access.

While CTS Labs had listed them as 13 issues, AMD has grouped them into three categories for a table to describe the impact of these issues and the planned mitigation. For all of these, AMD states patches to the AMD Secure Processor firmware or Promontory chipset should mitigate the issues, with no performance impact expected. AMD is working on the firmware updates to release in the coming weeks and is working with the third-party designer and manufacturer for the Promontory chipset to create mitigations there. All of these patches would be deployed through BIOS updates.

Source: AMD

Game Ready Drivers Available for Sea of Thieves from Both AMD and NVIDIA

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:17:08 -0700

Today is the release date of Sea of Thieves, a highly anticipated game for both PC and Xbox One, and if you purchased a copy for your computer, there are new graphics drivers you can install for the best experience. Both AMD and NVIDIA have released drivers with support for the new pirate-themed title from Rare, and come with some more features than that. AMD's Adrenalin 18.3.3 drivers also have support for A Way Out and Vulkan 1.1 along with some fixed issues for Forze Motorsport 7, Final Fantasy XV, Star Wars Battlefront II, and fixed an issue with Radeon ReLive recordings. Besides Sea of Thieves support, NVIDIA's GeForce 391.24 drivers add Ansel support to Pure Farming 2018, Q.U.B.E. 2, and Star Wars Battlefront II, and NVIDIA Highlights support for Call of Duty: WWII, Dying Light: Bad Blood, Escape From Tarkov, and Tekken 7.

You can follow the source links for more information on either driver and links to download them.

Source: AMD and NVIDIA

Ubisoft and Vivendi Reach Deal for Vivendi to Exit

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:04:13 -0700

Some time ago Vivendi purchased stock in Ubisoft, and for a number of months there have been concerns Vivendi was trying to take the company over. Ubisoft has been trying to prevent such a move and today revealed plans for doing exactly that with Vivendi selling its entire stake in Ubisoft. Ubisoft is purchasing some of these shares back through a structured transaction, while Guillemot Brothers SE, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Tencent, and Accelerated Bookbuilding is used to purchase the remaining stake. Vivendi has also agreed to not acquire any shares of Ubisoft for five years and Tencent also has some limitations on it, as part of the agreement. Tencent will not transfer the shares it will acquire and will not attempt to increase its share or voting rights in Ubisoft. The two companies have agreed to a strategic partnership though to accelerate Ubisoft's reach into China.

Source: Press Release

AMD Showing Off Real-Time Ray Tracing with Radeon ProRender

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:44:41 -0700

Yesterday NVIDIA revealed its RTX real-time ray-tracing technology and Microsoft unveiled DirectX Raytracing, and while AMD's GDC 2018 session on integrating real-time ray-tracing techniques into existing renderers is scheduled for tomorrow, it has shown off some of it today. The company states it has achieved real-time ray tracing by combining aspects of the very fast rasterization rendering with ray tracing. Rasterization is used to draw basic structures and surfaces very quickly and then a ray tracing process is applied to compute various advanced light-effects, such as reflections, shadows, and transparency.

Support for this real-time ray tracing method is coming to Radeon ProRender, a physically-based rendering engine AMD developed some time ago and continues to improve. It has been built using OpenCL, allowing it to work on multiple operating systems, and is able to work with GPUs and CPUs that supports the required version of OpenCL, regardless of its vendor. It can also support multiple GPUs and CPUs in the same machine and at the same time and its source code is available. This new real-time ray tracing has been built on Vulkan, so it too should support multiple platforms, but AMD partners need to contact their AMD representative to gain access to it.

While Radeon ProRender does target the work of 3D professionals, game developers will also able to use this technique to increase photorealism in games, without sacrificing performance. How this will be applied to improve gaming graphics will be discussed in the future though.


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Source: AMD

Microsoft Changes Feature Update Model for Faster Installation

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:10:43 -0700

Installing updates on Windows is often treated as a joke because of the many times it can require, or insist, on a restart and how long the process can take. In an effort to tackle the latter for feature updates, like the Creator's Updates Windows 10 has received, Microsoft has shifted parts of the update process around to reduce the amount of 'offline' time, which is the time the computer cannot be used by the user, bringing the average offline time down to 30 minutes, compared to the Creator's Update average of 82 minutes and Fall Creator's Update average of 51 minutes.

As explained at the source link, there are multiple steps involved with installing feature updates, and some of these are done in the background while the user is working and others are done when the operating system is not running. Under the older model steps such as migrating user content and placing the new operating system into a temporary working directory were done during the offline phase, but with the new model these tasks are done in the online phase. This means the online phase will be longer, but as the processes involved run at a low priority in the background, neither performance nor battery life should be impacted much. The result is still less disruption to the user's work as the offline time will be significantly less than it has been before.

Source: Microsoft

GTA Online Gets The Southern San Andreas Super Sports Series

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 05:55:04 -0700

Though Grand Theft Auto 5 and its counterpart GTA Online released years ago, Rockstar Games is continuing to add new content and challenges to the latter. The latest example is the Southern San Andreas Super Sports Series that is bringing new races and vehicles to the game today, with more coming in future updates.

Today players are getting The Hotring Circuit, the first of two new racing modes, along with the Hotring Sabre, a new vehicle made specifically for it. The Overflod Entity XXR, Cheval Taipan, Vulcar Fagaloa, and Vapid GB200 are other vehicles also being added with this update.

Coming April 3 is Target Assault that will team players up as one player drives the vehicle in a race, trying to earn points from position, with another player acts as the gunner trying to destroy targets with a mounted gun. More content is arriving May 1 when players be using new special vehicles from the Doomsday Heist to dodge underwater mines, glide over raceways, and boost through air gates. May 29 will see the release of seven new Transform Races.

Source: Rockstar Games

Epic Games Releasing $12 Million of Paragon Assets for Free

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:50:38 -0700

It was back in January when Epic announced it would be shutting down Paragon, an action MOBA the developer built in Unreal Engine 4 that will be gone come April 26. While it might not be possible to get a game going after that date, you may see some of its characters and other parts after this date. Epic has released Paragon assets to the Unreal Engine Marketplace, and though the assets are worth a total of $12 million dollars, they will be free to use in UE4 projects, "no strings attached." This release includes assets for 20 characters, Monolith and Agora environment assets, and announcer audio.

If you are using UE4 for your project, are considering using it, there will be a livestream on March 29 at 11AM PT / 2PM ET on how to set up animation Blueprints for Paragon characters at the channel. Also, you can expect more Paragon Asset packs to be released through the Summer.


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Source: Epic

NVIDIA Announces RTX Ray Tracing at GDC

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:40:30 -0700

Game Developers Conference 2018 is going on right now and many companies are bringing new technologies and applications to show off, including NVIDIA. Announced today, NVIDIA RTX is a ray-tracing technology that is described as bringing real-time, cinematic-quality rendering to content creators and game developers. Ray tracing involves actually following the path a ray of light takes to determine how it is affected by the materials and objects it interacts with, which is far from a trivial task. While it dates back decades, better and faster systems for it are a constant desire by many because of how difficult and time consuming the work is. Achieving real-time ray tracing is a significant feat.

NVIDIA did not work on RTX alone but also with Microsoft, enabling support for it with the new DirectX Raytacing (DXR) API. The NVIDIA GameWorks SDK will receive a ray-tracing denoiser module, to help developers wanting to add the Microsoft DXR API and NVIDIA RTX to their products. Some developers are already applying RTX, including 4A Games, Epic, Remedy Entertainment, and Unity, and will be demonstrating it over the course of the week at GDC.

One catch to RTX worth noting is it is only supported by the NVIDIA Volta architecture, which is not in a consumer-targeting product, and naturally future architectures from the company. For those of you using AMD hardware though, or more interested on the topic, that company will be presenting its own work on integrating real-time ray-tracing techniques into renderers on Wednesday at GDC.

Source: Press Release