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New 60GB Xbox 360 announced, cheaper 20GB version in Gaming
Microsoft has announced that it willbe producing a new $349 60GB Xbox 360, and the 20 GB version that itwill slowly replace will be cut in price in the US to $299.
AlthoughUK price changes have not been published, the arrival of a new 60GBversion – giving users much more memory for things like movies,trailers and Xbox Live Arcade games – is in keeping with Microsoft'spush into downloadable content.
"We know consumers need moreand more space to store the amazing digital content Xbox 360 offers,and we're giving it to them at no extra charge," said Albert Penello,Xbox director of product management at Microsoft.
"No onedevice offers the depth and breadth of entertainment that Xbox 360 candeliver, and now you'll have three times the storage to manage all thatgreat content."
What does it mean for UK?
The20GB version of the Xbox 360 – normally known as the Pro – currentsells for £199.99, and it seems likely that the news 60GB version willretail for the same price when it hits UK shelves.
This meansthat the older 20GB version will be given a price reduction, althoughit remains to be seen how close that will be to the Arcade version(with a much smaller storage capacity) which is currently priced at£159.99.
Microsoft's support of the now-failed HD DVD drive has meant a shift of focus onto downloadable HD (and SD) content.
Thesuccess of Xbox Live Marketplace has buoyed the console, and the offerof extra storage to boost these services makes a good deal of sense.


Prices for all other models remain unchanged, so that’s $279(£141/€176) for the Arcade (that’s the one with a 256MB memory card)and $449 (£226/€283) for the Elite – the flagship model with anintegrated 120GB HDD.
Although the leaked email said the new machine would be called thePro, Microsoft’s official announcement of the 60GB model didn’t use anysuch uplifting title.
The bad news is that – at least for the time being – the 60GB Xbox360 will only appear in the US and Canada when it goes on sale nextmonth.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:08 pm
So You Want To Be a Video Game Artist ... in Graphic Design, Web Design and Creative Arts Concepts
In a market that’s oversaturated with incredibly talented artistsand writers, up-and-comers and semi-professionals alike face theoutrageously difficult task of gaining recognition in their chosenfield. One dilemma out of many is that many young artists are forced tocompete against traditional animators that didn’t get out of the mass layoffs and salary cuts plaguing Disney in the year 2001, the eventual closureof the animation giant’s 2D studios creating a flood of overqualifiedprofessionals entering into jobs that would normally be moreaccommodating towards talented students and other entry levelapplicants.
While this is hardly a bad thing– one would have a hard time arguingagainst widely-distributed mediums getting a boost in artistic quality–it leaves a lot of people scratching their heads, wondering how thehell they could possibly make it in the professional world, especiallywhen it comes to video games. You know how they say the right answer isoften the simplest? Well, here’s a simple answer to the headscratching:learn how to become a professional.


[TABLE][TR][TD][/TD][/TR][/TABLE]
Art in its many varied forms has, and always will be, a staple ofevery human culture that has ever walked the Earth. Over time, nearlyeveryone has debated what constitutes art that’s worthy of display, ofreflection; why a single image may evoke a great deal of emotions inone person while it leaves another cold and uninterested. This worksrather well for art contained within the many varied galleriesscattered across the globe, but that kind of ambiguity will rarely getyou honorable mention in mediums that rely heavily on– you got it–technical expertise.
The consumer market may be easy to fool with rudimentary attempts atfan art from your favorite game or anime, but knowing you have thetalent and expanding that talent are two extremely different things. Unfortunately, thanks to social networking sites like deviantArt and its numerous clones, many are under the delusion that the groping their ego receives in the form of comments or favorites make them impervious to conventional criticism. So here’s rule number one, in case you missed it:
You are never above criticism no matter how good you think you are.
The only way an artist will be anywhere near capableof making ends meet in a market that’s incredibly competative is bystanding out, both in their list of skills and in the body of work theypresent in their portfolios.Fresh ideas are just as paramount to getting that dream job you’redrooling over, but having a solid understanding of drawingfundamentals– perspective, life drawing (prudes are advised to get over naked people) and proper use of negative space– is going to be one of your most treasured assets.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a representative from Raven Software’s creative team over lunch, and later received a tour of their headquarters (which I, unfortunately, can’t tell you about, other than to say: holy crap that was cool). My tour guide had been a technical artist for Electronic Arts in the past, citing the impressive wealth of knowledge that landed him those jobs in the first place. Hestated in no uncertain terms that one of the ways an applicant canreally stand out is by showing proficiency in manipulating gameengines, saying that being able to produce mods for various games using the Unreal Engine would be an immediate edge over other prospective employees. Similarly, a solid understanding of 3D software such as Maya–including how to create detailed textures for the models you create– isincluded in the mix, even if your entire job revolves around sketchingconcepts with pen and paper. In short: wherever your strengths may lie,being able to showcase versatility in many different aspects of gamedesign is much more likely to land you a job in the industry.
Sounds difficult, doesn’t it? As if learning all the basics of drawing wasn’t hard enough, right? Well, it isdifficult; no matter how much encouragement you might receive from yourpeers and loved ones, nothing will erase that fact… but if you’reanything like me, you look forward to the learning process as much asyou look forward to landing that dream job.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:13 am
30 Most Anticipated Games of E3 in Gaming
30. Rise of the Argonauts (PS3, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Liquid Entertainment
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Anaction RPG that promises to be way more action than RPG, Rise of theArgonauts has a winning mythological premise and lots of little designtouches that keep the game looking fresh. Take the Argo—the ship oflegend will act as a seafaring headquarters from which your recruitedArgonauts will provide support. There is also a “deed” system that willincrease Jason’s abilities via the acquisition of Xbox LiveAchievement-like trophies. So it’s bursting with interesting ideas, andit’s all running on the reliable Unreal Engine 3—this could be thesleeper hit of the year.


29. High School Musical 3: Senior Year Dance (PC, Wii, PS2, NDS, X360)
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: TBA
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Considerthis your representative sample of licensed games that promise to sellgangbusters regardless of quality or media reaction. And High SchoolMusical 3 is likely to be the biggest game of its breed this year: themovie of the same name is the first time this children’s blockbusterfranchise will see a theatrical release, meaning the marketing for theproperty is likely to be even more inescapable than usual. Beyond theusual niceties of rhythm games—coop and competitive modes, mechanicsspecific to each system’s control scheme—it will have the songs fromHigh School Musical movies past and present. That last one is almostcertainly the only feature the game needs to add another million insales to the franchise’s life-to-date count.

28. Borderlands (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Capabledeveloper Gearbox has never swung for the fences with quite as muchgusto as with Borderlands. The fact that the game is original IP isn’teven the half of it—it also promises a procedural item creation systemthat will provide this sci-fi first-person shooter over half a millionweapons. If that’s not enough, Borderlands also shares some ambitionswith big-budget role playing games: the world will be expansive,character growth and classes comes standard, and missions and sidequests will populate the landscape. Borderlands has all the earmarks ofa breakout hit, and its scope should easily take the breath away fromboth shooter and science fiction fans.

27. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Goingon the title alone, Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe feels a decade late,like it should have been slugging it out with Marvel Vs Capcom for thequarters of 90s teenagers. But it’s actually a better idea,commercially, in 2008—now the game can ride the tide of successfulcomic book film blockbusters. It can pull from the years of soliddesign work and franchise reputation rebuilding that culminated inMortal Kombat: Armageddon. And with an anticipated ESRB rating of T forTeen, there’re no retail hurdles to keep the adolescent maledemographic from eating this up with a spoon.

26. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (PC)
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: GSC Game World
Est. Release Date: Aug 29, 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:Shadow of Chernobyl was hardly the biggest first-person shooter of 2007in the west. But it posted platinum-level sales in Eastern Europe,where its freeform gameplay and mythos steeped in Russia’s uniquescience fiction struck a strong chord. With little similar competitionin the region, its sequel Clear Sky should do well for itself therealso. Which isn’t to say the rest of the world shouldn’t (or won’t)give it a go as well—Clear Sky will add a tactical, squad-based turfwar to the already eccentric proceedings, and should be just as curiousand interesting a beast as its predecessor.

25. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS3, X360, Wii, PS2, PSP, NDS)
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No, but it might as well be

TheForce Unleashed could well be the biggest project to bear the Star Warsfranchise name since Episode III ended the franchise’s non-animatedtheatrical run. Every Star Wars fan has been curious about the periodright before the Original Trilogy when Darth Vader had his run of thegalaxy; Force Unleashed promises to capture this period from theperspective of the Dark Side, using exciting new technologies torealistically render bot the AI and the Force itself. If the persistentrumors are true, this could well be the last project completely builtby LucasArts’ internal studio—but in that case, it will be one heck ofa send-off that a lot of Star Wars fans will experience.


24. Beyond Good and Evil 2 (PS3, X360)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier (likely)
Est. Release Date: TBA
Officially Announced for E3: No

Allthat’s known about Beyond Good and Evil 2 is that it’s currently beingworked on by Ubisoft premier designer Michel Ancel. But in this case,that’s more than enough—Ancel’s resume does include perennial hitRayman and (naturally) the first Beyond Good and Evil, after all. Andthe first Beyond Good and Evil is particularly beloved. The smallaudience that played it has been talking about it ever since, praisingits varied gameplay and realistic, strong female protagonist Jade. Sothe sequel is exciting, and though its commercial success is by nomeans assured it’s possible that maybe the adult gaming audience isfinally ready for this franchise.


23. Lock’s Quest (NDS)
Publisher: THQ
Developer: 5th Cell
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

2007’sbiggest surprise sales blockbuster was a little DS game called Drawn toLife, built by a little mobile developer called 5th Cell. That gamegave the independent studio a reputation for creating innovations withstrong market appeal, and it could cement that reputation with Lock’sQuest, a curious RTS/Action/RPG/minigame hybrid with cute graphics,quick thrills and a world that can be completely remodeled by theplayer. In other words, it has a lot of elements that appeal across awide variety of gaming demographics, as well as a lot of ambition. Ifthis one lives up to its potential, it would be great to see it succeed.


22. Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (PC, X360, NDS)
Publisher: D3 Publisher of America
Developer: Infinite Interactive
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Lastyear’s Puzzle Quest combined the most addictive parts of the casual“match three” puzzle game with the most addictive parts of RPGcharacter development, a powerful cocktail that murdered productivityand sold in huge numbers. There’s no reason this follow-up shouldn’tcontinue in that trend—it’s still a match three puzzle game (this timemore Collapse than Bejeweled), it still has those all-important RPGelements, and it’s being built by the same studio. The only differences(besides the science fiction setting) all look like improvements.There’s an element of strategy gaming. Players can enhance not justtheir character, but also their spacecraft. Downloadable content willabound. It all sounds like a game that players will itch to play afterthe first hit.


21. Crysis: Warhead (PC)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Crysis
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Allegedlythe last PC exclusive from the bastion of PC gaming high technology,Crytek’s side story to 2007’s Crysis looks every bit as graphicallydazzling as its predecessor. It also promises to be a moremarket-friendly title (a tall order considering Crysis’ million-sellingstatus); Warhead provides a less strategic, more bombastic run-and-gunaffair compared to the original Crysis. And with a year of hardwareadvancements in between Crysis and Crysis: Warhead, that more widelyappealing design will find that a lot more people have the rigs toactually run it well. And who knows? If Warhead does manage to findthat perfect balance, perhaps Crytek will stick to their PC-exclusivestomping grounds for a while longer.

20. Tomb Raider Underworld (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360, PC, NDS)
Publisher: Eidos
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

It’sbeen a few years since Crystal Dynamics took the Tomb Raider franchiseand reinvigorated it with Legend. But it’s really with Underworld thatthe series’ previous mistakes have been taken to heart. Rather thanrest the game on its laurels again, Underworld is a creation that lookstoward with the new; the game engine is all new, the way the worldinteracts with Lara is more realistic, combat now has melee and willflow fluidly into the puzzle mechanics. And if that wasn’t enough toguarantee sales, Lara has a motorcycle now too.


19. Sonic Unleashed (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

Thesedays it feels like SEGA promises the moon with every Sonic title, tothe point where it’s hard to fall for it anymore. Take Sonic Unleashed;it’s promise of a revamped, re-invented Sonic echoes the promises SEGAmade before this generation’s first Sonic the Hedgehog hit the Xbox 360with a sad plop. And yet, franchise sales have never followed the samecurve as the blue blur’s review scores. This is mostly because ofSonic’s strong appeal to the child market, but on some level thegraying Genesis owner wants to believe what we’re told, that this nextSonic really will reclaim the glory days. Anyway, Sonic Unleashed. It’srunning on a new engine and has some 2D environments. It’ll sell, andas for the rest of it? Here’s hoping.


18. MadWorld (Wii)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Platinum Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: No

PlatinumGames, formerly Seeds, formerly Clover Studios, isn’t known for makingcommercial hits. No, that team is known more for making instant,beloved classics. Okami certainly, but Viewtiful Joe is in there aswell, and the only people who remember God Hand these days love it toabsolute death. MadWorld, a blood-soaked black and white Wii exclusive,feels like a return to the playful, experimentation that made this teamfamous. Will it sell? Well, it’s nice to think that just maybe, thistime, the market has caught up to what Platinum is doing.


17. Animal Crossing Wii (Wii)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Est. Release Date: TBA
Officially Announced for E3: No

Asof this writing, Animal Crossing Wii still exists as a hopeful glimmerin the eye of the gaming public. Nintendo hasn’t said anything at allabout it yet, though almost all speculation says that it exists andwill be announced soon—and if that’s the case, E3 is as good a place toshowcase it as any. It’s a completely believable theory. Nintendo’sChristmas lineup is currently a complete mystery, and Animal Crossing,already a surprise hit on GameCube and DS, is such a good fit for thecasual Wii-loving audience it’s startling it’s not on the systemalready.


16. Left 4 Dead (PC, X360)
Publisher: Valve Software
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Valvedoesn’t release duds, and it doesn’t buy teams that can’t deliver. Sothe fact that it purchased Turtle Rock Studios and have put a greatdeal of PR muscle behind Left 4 Dead speaks volumes as to how good thisgame could be. The game has a completely innovative, yet highly marketfriendly hook in its “four survivors must cooperate to survive thezombie horde” premise, though players of a less polite persuasion canalso take up the role of a super-powered zombie. This could very wellbe the next major online phenomenon, like Team Fortress 2 before it.


15. Resistance 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Thefirst Resistance was the big win for the PlayStation 3 at launch, butResistance 2 looks set to spin that good first impression into anempire. Resistance 2 pushes the game out of London to the morerelatable (in the US, anyway) environs of the United States. A goodmove, but not as good as the massive 60-man multiplayer that the gamepromises. That’s fantastic scale for an online console game; add onsome more focused, objective-oriented teamplay and Resistance 2 is agood contender for gamer’s next networked obsession.


14. Killzone 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Guerilla Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Threeyears on and Killzone 2 is still trying to shake off its disastrous“showing” at E3 2005. Admittedly the team at Guerilla has done a finejob of actually approaching the target in that first badly marketed“target render,” with more recent previews showing the game asappropriately attractive and bombastic for its high position in Sony’sportfolio. But it still needs a big floor to show off, and it needs aman to say “in-game graphics” about one thousand times in front of somehuge HD Killzone if it wants to really nail the market. E3 historicallyhas had some very big floors.


13. Fable 2 (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Alot on Fable 2 is already known, and most of it is interesting on avariety of levels. There’s the in-game dog, a character ofunconditional love that will act as the player’s anchor to the game’sworld. There’s the Pub Games, a series of Xbox Live Arcade titles thatwill act as both encapsulated products and previews for the bigrelease. Then there’s the gay marriage, pregnant adventuring, and allmanner of family matters to deal with in the game as well. It’s a gamethat promises to push boundaries and break some of the medium’s moreridiculous unnecessary taboos. Considering the success of the originalGable, it’s likely many people will choose to experience this moveforward—surely a good thing.


12. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC, X360)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

RedAlert’s Cold War gone hot is one of the most beloved scenarios is allof strategy gaming, and the franchise’s long seven year absence makesthis game even more exciting and desirable. And by adding thepseudo-Japanese Empire of the Rising Sun faction the festivities geteven more campy and strange, complete with towering mecha, psychicschoolgirls and parachuting bears. So it’s got a lot of hooks for boththe longtime fan and sugar-crazed newcomer alike.


11. Far Cry 2 (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

FarCry 2 has found a unique gaming setting in the jungles, savannahs andtowns of Africa, and it plans on giving the player a lot of thatsetting – 50 square kilometers, to be precise. Plenty of new gameplayelements will make themselves known as the player crosses that expanse:some wounds have to be treated with field medicine (ie. fishing abullet out with a knife) and brush fires can be started, only to bewhipped up realistically by wind. Far Cry 2 is an underutilized brandmoving to an underutilized setting while adding multiple newinnovations, making it an extremely strong contender in the hardcoreshooter market.
10. Prince of Persia (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

Princeof Persia: The Sands of Time was one of the last generation’s definingmoments, so it would have been easy for Ubisoft to just build astandard sequel on the successes of its previous trilogy. The fact thatthis is not the case, that the series is instead being rebooted with anincredible hand-painted aesthetic and open world, show a strongdedication to making the Prince one of the most lasting and importantfranchises in gaming (though the big budget movie helps on that scoreas well). While previous PoP titles did sell well, after theblockbuster success of Assassin’s Creed, the timing is perfect for thePrince to really make it big.


9. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Est. Release Date: TBD
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Sinceclosing the door on the last console genre, Square Enix has relied onhandheld games and Wii side stories alone. If the publisher’s lastfiscal statement said anything, it was that’s no way for a company tolive—so while Square Enix has some other interesting console games inthe pipe, it needs to bring its megaton franchise back into the publiceye. It’s not surprising that Final Fantasy XIII will show up in someform at E3—and regardless of what form it takes or what the game lookslike now, it could certainly steal the show if it tried.


8. Street Fighter IV (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom/Dimps
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Atworst, this is a surprise come back of one of gaming’s most iconicfranchises. At best, this could be the surprise come back of agenre—certainly if anything could revive a flagging fighting gamefield, a new numbered entry in its greatest series would be the thingto do it. Perhaps the best sign that this game knows what it will taketo succeed is its reverence to Street Fighter II—all of the charactersfrom that game will return, and the gameplay mirrors the measured paceof that early entry. Considering versions of SFII still sell in strongnumbers, it’s easy to see how this strategy could succeed on the market.


7. Rock Band 2 (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)
Publisher: MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008 (X360 timed exclusive, with other versions to follow)
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Nomatter what other companies say, the fast-paced game of catch-up thathas gripped the music genre says one thing louder: the four-piece RockBand is the standard for the field. And while little is known about itat this point, what is known proves that Harmonix hasn’t lost the plotwith Rock Band 2. Sticking to its “platform” guns, the game will befully backwards compatible—with old DLC, with old instruments, theworks. And while user-created content is not a go this time, there arecertainly things about the game yet to be announced—you don’t want tomiss this one at the show.


6. LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Media Molecule
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Despiteseemingly constant delays, LittleBigPlanet remains one of the mostunique products in Sony’s first-party arsenal. The idea of a game thatlives and dies by the content created by its users has been triedbefore in first-person shooters, but LittleBigPlanet, with its lovelytextured graphics and universal, non-violent charm wants to be muchmore—the YouTube of games perhaps, or the Legos of the 21st century. Ofall the games that could bring PlayStation 3 to the mass market, thisremains the best hope.


5. Halo Wars (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Ensemble Studios/Bungie
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

HaloWars is more than just the next title from Microsoft to have the Haloname. It’s also more than the first Halo project not spearheaded byBungie. Halo Wars wants to be a revolution in real-time strategy, aconsole exclusive built from the ground up for a console controller—inother words, Halo Wars wants to do for real-time strategy what Halo didfor first-person shooters. If it succeeds, it could crack wide open thenascent console RTS market as gamers try it based on the franchisealone. It’s been reported that the game will be playable by the mediaat E3, so the show should give a much better idea as to how itssucceeding.


4. Spore (PC, Mac)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Maxis
Est. Release Date: Sep 7, 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

It’scertainly something that even after the seemingly endless amount ofwords typed about Spore, even though it’s appeared in publications asnon-game centric as The New Yorker, even though the wait for the gamehas been years long and interminable, almost everyone who knows aboutit is still excited at its promise. And after the success of therecently released Creature Creator, that excitement is still mounting.Will Wright’s SimEverything could very well the next big thing, tossingaside silly ideas like “demographics” and just appealing to everyoneeverywhere. In other words, the next Sims.


3. Gears of War 2 (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Epic Games
Est. Release Date: Nov 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Gearsof War 2 is a lot of things. To the gamer, it is epic, the sequel tothe game that dominated man hours spent on Xbox Live for most of 2007.To developers, it’s the new baseline, as every new Epic game has cometo represent the state of the art for the now industry standard UnrealEngine 3. In both regards Gears of War 2 looks great. A fewimprovements to the constantly evolving engine have already been shown,and most gamers agree that new mechanics like martyrdom and the “meatshield” look like fantastic fun. Gears of War is already one of thisgeneration’s emblematic franchises, so it will be great to see how thesequel goes about cementing that status.


2. Resident Evil 5 (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

RE5is not even close to a retail release, and yet it’s already one of themost interesting topics in the industry. It brings with it the highlyrespected pedigree of Resident Evil 4, hands-down one of the best gamesof the last generation, and will probably sell strongly to the audiencethat loved, or even heard about, that game. Yet it’s also mired incontroversy over some concerns regarding racism. So it’s a projectthat’s walking many tightropes of expectation, and there’s potentialfor huge success or massive failure here. As a result this E3 could bethe most important public showing for RE5 until its release—it shouldbe fascinating.


1. Fallout 3 (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Fallout3 shows great evolutionary leaps every time it’s displayed for publicviewing, with recent revelations—the childhood simulating charactercreator, the 500 endings—being particularly fascinating. Now that it’scoming precariously close to its announced release date, this E3 shouldrepresent the game’s biggest showing yet. If there are any surprisesleft in the title to announce, expect them to get announced at somepoint during the week. But even if there aren’t, Fallout 3 has alreadyproven itself to be a sprawling, ambitious project that anyone in thegaming audience would wait to spend more time with.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:55 am
Build a DX10 rig for under £176 in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
We like big explosions, the bigger the better, in fact.
Wealso like smoke effects, water ripples, dappled lighting filteringthrough jungle canopies and creeping up silently behind people, beforemurdering them with our bare hands. But enough about our weekendpastimes…
What we really like are the fantastic visuals that DX10 gaming offers.
If you listen to most people, they will tell you that you need a quad-core, DDR3, triple-SLI setup to play Crysis. The sort of setup that requires you to remortgage your house to own. These people are wrong, and we're going to show you why.
We'vepreviously demonstrated how to build a DX10 setup for just under £300,a not unreasonable amount that should be within the reach of mostpeople. But what if you just blew all your money on a sordid weekend inAmsterdam, and you've resorted to scrambling under the sofa for loosechange? Would you believe us if we told you that it's possible to builda DX10-capable rig for well under £200? Well, it's true.
Ofcourse you can't connect it to a 22-inch wide screen monitor withoutthe frame rates plummetting, but if you're on that tight a budget, abig monitor is probably the least of your concerns.
Wheneveryou work to such a tight budget, something has to give and this projectwill be no exception. We need to prioritise in certain areas, whileothers can be largely ignored.
Yes, a case is important to stopyour gear being an untidy heap of electronics on the floor, but reallyyou just need a metal box to screw things onto. Optical drives are dirtcheap, and with memory stick capacities being what they are, hardlyanyone burns DVDs, so we only need a DVD ROM.
It also means noquad-core and no SLI. But dual-core chips are surprisingly cheap, andwe'll see just how well a budget DX10 card performs. Don't forget thatif you have any parts available from an existing PC, such as cases anddrives, you can reuse them and put the money towards a higher-end CPUor graphics card.


       
Case and PSU
Ifyou want a well-designed case, with plenty of fans, numerous ports andplenty of upgradability, then it's easily possible to spend more thanour entire budget on such a beast.
Likewise, if you want a 1KwPSU that supports the likes of SLI, then it's going to cost a fairamount of cash. At the other end of the spectrum is the all-in-one caseand PSU deal. We found one for just £26, which includes a 400W PSU.
Thismay not sound like a lot of power, but it's more than enough to run oursetup. When spending such a small amount of money on a case, you'dexpect it to be quite horrific, but it's surprisingly well featured. Ithas a matt-black finish, which helps on the looks front, and the frontpanel has USB and audio ports.
Most of the internals can befitted without the need for a screwdriver, and it even has a lockingside panel. Sure, it isn't the best-looking or quietest case we've everseen, but for this sort of money, we're not complaining.
The result?
As the most basic DX10 card available from NVIDIA, it comes as no surprise that the performance of the 8400 is not the best.
However,at £20 it still does pretty well, as long as you keep the resolutionrealistic. Okay, not everyone wants to play at 800x600, or even1024x768, but then you shouldn't be so cheap, should you?
Surprisingly, Crysis gave some of the best results, although BioShock achieves the best framerates of all. Using the Optimal settings button, Crysisdid set all the detail level to low, but the results still lookedpretty good. However, if you're going to be realistic about playingDirectX10 games, then you are going to have to find a little more moneyin your budget.
Hooking the 9600GT up to our budget CPU workedabsolute miracles, and at around £70 extra is an absolute steal. Notonly could we turn the detail right up, but we could run a higherresolution and still get twice the frame rates of the 8400GS.
Surprisingly,adding a high-end quadcore CPU doesn't give much of an increase, witheither the 8400 or 9600GT. In conjunction with the 8400Gs, the Phemom9550 does give you some extra fps over the Athlon X2 4400+, but withwhen it comes to the 9600GT, the difference over the 4400+ setup ismarginal.
So, if you want the best performance, and can spend alittle extra, buying the 9600GT is the logical choice. You know itmakes sense.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:47 am
Microsoft Bans ‘Ben Dover’ from Xbox live in General Discussion, including Off Topic, Current Affairs
I say MS needs to stay out of everyone's business until someone complains, and from what I hear, people complain often on XBL.  I know someone who has been banned from a server just for his username, he didn't actually do anything.  Some people in this world make too much of a big deal about nothing.  No one gives a shit if you swear in a game, especially if single player contains swearing.
Posted by schmidtbag Sat Jul 05, 2008 11:12 pm
The multiplayer future of The Sims, MMO Style? in Gaming
Weeks after the closing of EA-land, formerly known as The Sims Online (TSO), the head of the Sims Division at EA is hinting at a multiplayer future for this popular life-simulating strategy game. Isn’t she, like Merlin, getting the timeline backwards?
Surely the bestselling computer game of all time would haveexperienced a smoother transition from single- to multiplayer,especially a game with a social needs bar; friendless Sims end upmoping around on the couch and experiencing Social Bunny hallucinations. Yet TSO was poorly received.

The fact that EA had nixed user-createdcontent and turned a multitude of flexible worlds into one persistentworld did not help. Most disappointingly, the necessities of eating,sleeping, and acquiring career skills ended up overshadowing whatshould have been the central aspect of TSO: socialization. After fiveyears of stagnation, TSO was demoted to EA-land in February, then closed down altogether last month.
Mere emoticons and asterisk-enclosed actions don’t cut it for everyone. Fellow conversationalists seem more real if their avatars can visibly laugh, shrug, weep, grin, or even just sit there.
At the same time, there’s a necessary element of unreality invirtual worlds. Although the real world doesn’t allow you to walk up tosomeone and click “flirt” over and over, reach the “propose” optionhalf an hour later, and start a new family over the course of anevening that strikes me as a little too close to home for many players.The life-simulating MMORPG presents a paradox of the real and theunreal.

Why does World of Warcraft have 10 million active playerswhile Second Life has only about thirty thousand? My guess: peopleprefer to visualize themselves as powerful conjurers rather than ashuman beings. When we interact in human form, the corresponding humanfantasies pushing themselves out into the open—the sudden significanceof sexual preference, the out-of-the-blue professions of love—might beharder to deal with than any challenge a WoW raid could present.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:19 am
Wall-E: Are Movie Games Getting Better? in Gaming
Largely in anticipation of going to see the film tonight, I went a few rounds with THQ's game based on Wall-E. (It is of course available for every game platform under the sun, but I played the Xbox 360 version.)
My goal: To see if games based on movies have, at least in somecases, made a leap beyond the utter trash they used to be when Iactually played them. Results: Somewhat. I still wouldn't actually playWall-E unless I was being paid to, but it's clear that there'sa great deal of polish, and the translation of the movie's action intogameplay is clever and varied.
You begin the game by playing as Wall-E. The first thing I noticedis that, instantly, it's fun to control the little guy as he zipsaround the ruined Earth on his miniature tank treads. When he jumps, hecurls up into a box and flies through the air. It's a satisfyingfeeling, not awkward at all.
                                                      
Wall-Edoesn't do much. His entire programming is based around compactinggarbage into tiny cubes and then stacking them. So unless the designerswere going to turn Wall-E into a tiny killing machine and totallypervert the movie's message, they had their work cut out for them. Thesolution was that all of Wall-E's actions are based around making, thenthrowing, cubes of garbage.
He can create cubes out of normal old trash, which are good forthrowing far and hitting targets that open up new paths in the level.Cubes made out of electronic waste that still has residual batterypower left in it are good for charging up other electrical equipmentthat opens up more paths.
Before this has a chance to get too boring, you're playing as Eve,Wall-E's flying robot girlfriend who can, in fact, shoot things. Eve'slevels alternate between flight exploration as she searches for plantlife on Earth, and something resembling a single-player racing game inwhich she zips through tunnels, blasting away debris and trying toreach the finish line before time runs out.
What's ultimately disappointing (and all too familiar) about the treatment of Wall-Eis that the movie's story and characters aren't used for anythingbesides window dressing. I am not suggesting for a second that there isgoing to be anyone who plays the Wall-E game voluntarilywithout seeing the movie, so it's not as if anyone is going to betotally stumped forever. But it does seem like a bit of a waste to havethese characters and storyline all ready to go, then fail to capitalizeon them.
That said, if the future of movie tie-in games is products that areclearly inferior to the film but not utterly objectionable as games,I'm fine with that. Wall-E is playable and fun, and probablywill not make children cry, which is far more than could be said forthe movie games I grew up on.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:41 am
UK01, New UK mobile carrier: own GSM spectrum, wi-fi hospots in Entertainment, Film and Music, Mobile devices and media
UK01 claims to be a real GSM operator, and has just signed a dealwith Spectrum Interactive to put its GSM base stations into phonekiosks run by the Wi-Fi hotspot operator, establishing a few hundredlocations from which UK01 customers will be able to make, and receive,calls.
Behind UK01 is a company called Mapesbury Communications Ltd, whoseCEO Magnus Kelly said in a statement that "this agreement is animportant milestone, as it accelerates our ability to launch the UK's6th mobile phone network".
The spectrum used for UK01's network is around 1800MHz, so withinthe operating band of most mobile handsets, but the operator's licenceis only for low-power deployments which will have very limited range -so customers won't be able to wander far from the kiosk bearing theUK01 service mark.They'll also have to manually select the UK01 network, as the companyapparently has no roaming agreements with other operators to provideadditional coverage.
The lack of roaming is unsurprising, as Mapesbury only paid around£77,000 for the limited-power licence. To get into the door of a realoperator you'd need at least a billion quid's worth of spectrum.
UK01 is much more like a Wi-Fi hotspot operation, and the deal withSpectrum Interactive underlines that. Punters seeing the service markmight decide to switch to UK01 for a cheaper tariff, as long as theyhang around nearby, though the company might like to remember PhonePoint, Phone Zone and Rabbit as similar services that crashed andburned.
The spectrum was part of Ofcom's first spectrum auction, and thenewly-formed regulator imagined it might be used for private networksor operator in-fill, both of which are being deployed by otherlicensees. The use of 1800MHz prevents 3G data services (3G is stillcorralled at 2.1GHz), so it's EDGE at best, though UK01 hasn'tannounced any kind of data service as yet.
We tried to speak to Mapesbury Communications to ask whether UK01intends to expand its network, but we were told that the only chap whocould help us was Mr Kelly, the CEO, and he's not around today. Sowe're left to speculate.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:48 pm
nVidia turning it's GPU's into 'PhysX Physics Processors' in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
3D card manufacturers shouldn't take this the wrong way, but ittakes a lot to make us crawl out of the communal Eurogamer bed (yes,all the Eurogamer writers share a single large bed - we do it forfrugality and communality, which remain our watchwords) and go to ahardware presentation. There's a nagging fear someone may talk maths atus and we'd come home clutching the local equivalent of magic beans.And then we'll be laughed at by our fellow writers and made to sleep inthe chilly end where the covers are thin and Tom left dubious stains.That's no fun at all.
Then again, there's some things you can'thelp but go and have a gawk at. So when an invite claims, "All toooften new hardware brings with it a small performance increase - maybea 5-10 percent over the previous fastest thing. Wouldn't it be far moreexciting to see a speed increase of x20 or even x100... well, we'll behappy to show just that on Friday," you have wander along. Even thoughyou suspect it may be a trap and they're going to attack you withill-shaped blades, you have to find out what on earth they're talkingabout.
As we suspected, it wasn't quite what we were hoping for.Sure, there are programs which gain a x100 increase via the methodsNVIDIA talks about on this particular Friday, but unless you're workingin economics or astrophysics modelling, it's not exactly that relevant.However, something more quietly astounding was explained. Mainly, thatdespite the fact that no-one you know bought a PhysX card, if you're aPC gamer with a relatively recent NVIDIA card, you've already got one.Or, at least, you will soon. Spooks.

Get him!

The primary idea NVIDIA was trying to push was Optimised PC - the approach discussed in Rob Fahey's interview with Roy Taylorthe other day. The idea being that the traditional PC approach whereyou buy the fastest PC processor you can doesn't actually lend the bestresults, at least in most situations. If you spent more on -predictably - a GPU-driven 3D card, for an increasing number of areas,you're going to get much higher performance. If the program is usingthe GPU in a meaningful way, anyway. NVIDIA highlights areas likeimage-processing and HD video-encoding, as well as - natch! - games.You lose in single-threaded activities - like, say, just booting up aprogram - but they argue a small loss in opening a Word Document isless noticeable than frames in games or similar.
Where it startsgetting interesting is NVIDIA's development language, CUDA. The problemwith all the threading programming methods is that it's radicallydifferent to single-threading (and, yes, we're getting into, "Why wouldanyone care about this but a programmer?" territory, but its backgroundfor the key point later). It's hard to do, and CUDA is basically a wayto make things more accessible.
NVIDIA claims anyone experiencedin C or C++ will be able to get a grip on it (i.e. not us, but theaforementioned programmers). This means that anyone who codes in CUDAcan program the GPU to do pretty much whatever they like; it's byturning the 3D card into a bank of processors that the financialanalysts and the astrophysics guys are getting such impressive results.And impressive savings, as it's a lot cheaper to do it this way.

Now, NVIDIA claims that the fact GPU solutions are cheaper is goingto push better GPUs into more business machines. This will help pushthe idea that an okay CPU/good GPU machine gives better performancethan a good CPU/okay GPU, leading to more machines with better GPUs...and so, making more PCs abstractly available for gaming. Or, at least,raising the bottom level of hardware that you can expect people to have.
Interms of a more general use, transcoding video can take hours. Later inJuly, all GeForce 8000+ cards will ship with Elemental HD, a programwhich manages to perform the odious task - in the words of NVIDIA - "ina matter of minutes". The software will also be available for people todownload online, probably with a small fee ala Quicksave if theyalready have a GeForce card.
Point being: this CUDA malarkeyisn't something that's just for future NVIDIA technology. It'ssomething that allows the hardware many PC gamers already have to berepurposed.
For example, PhysX. NVIDIA's Physics 3D Card systemwas only supported in a minor fashion, as no-one would buy a card justto make explosions fancier, but with CUDA it can run on one of theother GPUs. A proportion of the 3D card's power can be given over torunning physics, giving those fancy PhysX-style interactions withoutactually having a specific card for it. CUDA's porting to PhysX willbecome available to the public in July, but developers already have thetools.

The Euphoria engine of Natual Motion. It's hard to illustrate this sort of thing.

You'llbe able to - for example - manually, up front, decide to devote aproportion of your 3D card's power to PhysX. Alternatively, developerscan commandeer it and do exactly the same thing. The new generation ofcards which are about to be announced are able to deal with pretty muchanything that exists on the highest setting with power left over, sothat power can be given over to acting like a 3D card would.
Andit goes further. Where previously you'd have just thrown out your old3D card when you upgraded your PC to a new one, if you have a G8000+ 3Dcard already, you can keep it, and just set it to concentrate solely ondoing PhysX tasks. This isn't a SLI situation where you need two of thesame cards working in tandem - any post-8880 card, rather than beingput out to digital pasture, can be given a job of deciding how bits ofglass bounce off a skyscraper, or similar. NVIDIA claims it's talkingto ATI to try and get them to use CUDA too, which.... well, we'll seethere, eh?
The potential is interesting. Demos shown include Natural Motion, whose Euphoria engineis heavily physics-dependent, allowing unique, convincing moments ingames. A straight collision isn't enough, as straight ragdolls areludicrous - the system involving AI (so the hit object will try andmove limbs to protect self and similar) leads to impressivelynaturalistic results. The first sign of this publicly was in GrandTheft Auto IV, but Natural Motion's own American football game, Backbreaker,is a fascinating example of what a physics-heavier approach tocollisions can give games. And, with CUDA-esque use of GPUs to do thisstuff, the PhysX related boon is accessible to even more of us.
So they did talk some maths, then, but we survived.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:11 pm
Why Xbox Live isn't free in Gaming
Until recently, Microsoft could brag about how Live was by far themost feature-complete online service on any platform, with a unifiedFriends list, the best online shop, voice and video chat as standardand a consistent and stable online experience. But in recent monthsthere’s been a shift in the market, and even bigger changes are coming.Microsoft is the only player to charge for online play, and theirpolicy has landed some of the best online games on the 360... but as PCand PlayStation developers offer comparable features at no extra cost,the Gold subscription starts to lose its shine. The launch of the PC’sSteam Community late last year and promises made by Sony at January’sConsumer Electronics Show have placed Microsoft on the back foot, andhas all of us asking: what does your annual subscription pay for?
The Punters
It’s very simple math - you take the features offered by Xbox Live,subtract the features offered by Live Silver, and then subtract thefeatures Microsoft’s nearest competitor - the Playstation Network -offers for free, and whatever’s left is what Gold users get for theirannual fee.

In Microsoft’s own words, the perks of being a Gold subscriber are as follows:
1) Play your Xbox 360 multiplayer games online with the premiere online gaming service.
2) Use the brand new TrueSkill Matchmaking system to play againstopponents with similar skills, personalities, and gaming tastes.
3) Give player feedback to rate your teammates and opponents on theirsportsmanship, abilities, and conduct to influence matchmaking.
4) Play select original Xbox games online (the Xbox 360 Hard Drive is required).
5) Get access to exclusive Gold Member content.
6) Engage in video chat.
7) Enjoy all the Xbox Live Silver features.
Freed from PR-speak, points one, two and three are essentiallystandard functions of modern online play: multiplayer gaming, onlineranking and feedback systems, so we’ll consider them one point. Pointfour is available to Silver members and even to people without abroadband connection by downloading the CD from xbox.com. Fivepresumably refers to the demos which are available earlier for Goldsubscribers, but that’s really more a way of gimping Silver types thanrewarding Gold subscribers. Point six, we can’t argue with - video chatis limited to Gold - but as point seven demonstrates, Live Marketplace,Arcade games, DLC and auto-updates are available at no cost to Silvermembers.

We’ll kindly add to Microsoft’s list an eighth and ninth point -mass messaging is only available to Gold users, and Microsoft should bea little more proud of their unified Friends list and messenger whichmakes online gaming with friends such a complete pleasure.
So, with our non-scientific method, we’ve stripped Microsoft’s nine points down to just four:
1) Online play with standard features offered elsewhere.
2) Video chat.
3) Mass messaging.
4) Unified Friends list and messenger.
And of those four, Sony’s PSN offers one, two and three for nocharge to players. In effect, your subscription pays for... er, nothingmore than a list of 100 names you can pull up in any game.
Still, what you don’t see is that, unlike PSN, Live’s hosting -leaderboards, Matchmaking, the lot - are all run by Microsoft ratherthan by third parties. It means devs are more keen to go online on Xboxwhere the online play is paid for by you, rather than them, so - inthat sense, at least - Live’s hosting model makes for a more cohesiveand better supported service, but a model where the cost will always bepicked up on the gamer’s end.


The Developers
So long as the expense of running servers and matchmaking systemshas to be picked up by somebody, no online gaming service will ever betruly ‘free’. The cost of PSN and PC online gaming is typically pickedup by developers and publishers. CoD4, for example, runs on similarsystems on both console platforms, but is maintained by Microsoft onLive and by a dedicated third party company at Activision’s expense onPSN. Both play the same at your end and both work on a peer-to-peersystem with a matchmaking layer to link players up, but on Live you payfor that layer, and on PSN they pay.

Live is a great deal for third parties then, but less so for gamers.On the plus side, it means Microsoft get the lion’s share ofonline-enabled games, with even the most low-rent of independentdevelopers able to support online matchmaking in their games. Meaning,overall, it makes online play in multi-format titles far more likely onthe 360.
But again, is it really $49.99/£39.99’s worth of bonus? The PC/PSNmodel - where publishers/developers run their own matchmaking systems -has worked for years and PC gamers have enjoyed cost-free gaming evenbefore the days of multiplayer Doom. Sega’s Dreamcast was arguably thefirst console to make a dent in the online space and managed to offeronline play in the majority of its titles at no cost. PlayStation isset to offer users everything Live does at no cost in the near future,Steam offers everything Live does in its supported games, and theWii... well, at least it’s free, eh?
THE TRUTH
Live’s best asset is that it allows even small developers to supportonline play - the value of which can’t possibly be denied. Without it,we’d never see online play in small-budget XBLA titles or evenmarginalised full-price games. The question to ask is whether or notthat’s worth the precious money from your pocket, on rotation, every 12months.
From the player’s end experience, Live is the leader, but it’shardly a full fifty bucks/forty-quid ahead of its competition. Themarket has changed since 2002 and so long as the PlayStation Networkand Steam Community threaten to match Live feature-for-feature, Liveneeds to be obviously better in some other way, especially in the UKwhere it costs a full fifteen quid more for a yearly subscription thanthe $50 (£25) cost over in the U.S.
At some point in the coming months, PSN will rob Live’s FriendsList, completing its mimicry of Microsoft’s system. It’s at that pointwhere questions must start to be asked of Live. It’s certainly easierfor developers, but as gamers, perhaps we should rightly expect just alittle more from our Gold subscription.
Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:38 pm
Evaluating your graphics card needs - Full iVirtua Guide in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
If you happen to have a friend or a family member who’s an expert oncomputer graphics cards, you’re in luck. Bring that person along withyou while you shop, and you’ll benefit from their experience.

If,on the other hand, you don’t have a game techno-wizard to call on—or,if you’d like to understand what you’re buying before you spend yourhard-earned cash—you’ve come to the right place. In this section, Ihelp you determine which graphics card features you need, includingimportant considerations such as video memory, the bus type, andexternal connectors.

Built-in versus add-on
Today’s PCs use two different types of graphics cards, and each has advantages and disadvantages:

Built-in cards.A graphics card in this category isn’t really a graphics adapter cardat all, because it’s actually integrated into the motherboard. Abuilt-in card doesn’t require an AGP slot or a PCI slot, so amotherboard with a built-in card can fit into a smaller case anddoesn’t take up a valuable slot. (This explains why graphics cards areoften built-in on computers that use thin workstation cases, which arecommonly called pizza box cases.) If you’re building a new PC, rememberthat a built-in graphics card is usually easier to configure than aseparate adapter—and integrated graphics cards tend to be lessexpensive than their removable counterparts. On the down side, anintegrated video card may not let you install additional video memory.

Separate adapter cards.
A graphics adapter occupies either an AGP or a PCI slot in yourcomputer. Naturally, a separate card is the choice of gamers who willbe upgrading their graphics hardware to keep up with the cutting-edge3D chipsets and visual effects in the latest video games. If yourgraphics adapter suddenly stops working and you need to replace it, aseparate graphics adapter card will ensure that you don’t have to sendback your entire motherboard for service or replacement, too.


Ifyou’re considering a graphics upgrade for your current motherboard andit has a built-in graphics card, you’re facing a brick wall (unless youcan add a daughter card, or disable the integrated card so that you canadd a PCI graphics card).

Understanding resolution and refresh rate

Askany computer power user—especially a gamer—what specifications are mostimportant in selecting a graphics card, and two figures are almostcertain to be included in the group: maximum resolution and maximumrefresh rate. In this section, I discuss both of these importantcriteria.

Resolution makes the graphics card
Resolutionbegins with the smallest unit displayed by your graphics card—a singledot, called a pixel. Pixels are the building blocks of every imagedisplayed on your monitor; they’re arranged in lines across yourscreen, and your graphics card controls each pixel individually forbrightness and color. For this reason, everyone expresses resolution asthe number of pixels displayed horizontally by the number of linesdisplayed vertically. For example, a resolution of 800 x 600 means thatthe monitor displays 800 pixels horizontally across the screen and 600pixels vertically.

Windows 98 still supports a minimumresolution of 640 x 480, and some games still use thisresolution—typically for big, bright graphics that don’t need a lot ofdetail, as in a casino game. However, almost all games that need finedetail—from role-playing games and strategy games to 3D first-persongames and simulations—now use resolutions of 800 x 600 or 1,024 x 768.Your desktop also benefits from a higher resolution, as you can displaymore of a larger document, Web page, image, or spreadsheet (or justmore program icons) on the screen at one time.

As you’veprobably already guessed, I would recommend that you keep your desktopset to a resolution of at least 800 x 600 (or, if your eyes don’t mind,1,024 x 768 is even better). If you can switch resolutions inside agame, you’ll probably find the resolution control in the Options orSetup screen; many games automatically set the resolution based on thespeed of your processor and the amount of video memory on your card.

The importance of the refresh rate
Whatis the refresh rate of a monitor, and why is it such a big deal forgamers? That’s a good question. But before I answer it, I need todescribe how your computer actually draws a video image on yourmonitor. (Don’t worry: I’ll try to keep this from getting boring.)

Agraphics card creates an image on your computer monitor by “painting”it with electrons—in fact, the image is emitted from a phosphorescentcoating that glows on the inside of the monitor tube. The coating glowswhen it’s hit with a stream of electrons from the electron emitter(commonly called an electron gun) at the back of the monitor; theseelectrons move across the inside surface of your monitor, one line at atime, from top to bottom.

However, while the electrons arefocused on another portion of the screen, the phosphorescent coating onthe area that’s already been painted starts to dim, and then thecoating stops glowing entirely. So the monitor must redraw the imageconstantly to keep it bright, as shown in

Asyou probably expected, the refresh rate (also called the vertical scanrate) of a graphics card-and-monitor combination refers to the numberof times per second that your computer redraws the image on themonitor. As a general rule, the higher the refresh rate, the better;although you can’t see it with your eyes, the majority of computersredraw each pixel on the monitor at least 65 times per second (giving arefresh rate of 65Hz). Resolution is also tied to refresh rate: Asresolution goes up (which uses more video memory), refresh rates willdrop accordingly.

Here’s the bad news: 65Hz isn’t enough for anyPC owner, especially gamers. A dedicated computer gamer needs a higherrefresh rate for several reasons:

A gamer can spendhours in front of a monitor, and a higher refresh rate reduceseyestrain for most people. Even though you may not be able to noticethe screen being redrawn, your eye can discern the difference between arefresh rate of 60Hz and 75Hz. The more times the screen is redrawnevery second, the more stable the image appears, and the less itbothers your eye.

Many games require higher resolutions in therange of 800 x 600 to 1,024 x 768, and higher resolutions generallylook better with a higher refresh rate.

Because an image is morestable at a higher frame rate, small details onscreen are easier todistinguish with a higher refresh rate.

A higher refresh rate reduces flicker in all of your games.


Therefore, keep these recommendations in mind when you’re shopping for a graphics card or monitor to use for gaming:

Ifyou’re shopping for a monitor, always try to find one in a local storeso that you can evaluate it with your own eyes: Specifications don’ttell the whole story. As a demonstration, run your favorite game on themonitor before you decide.

Always look for a graphics card andmonitor with a refresh rate of at least 75Hz. For most people, thehigher the refresh rate, the better the image; in fact, some expensivehigh-end graphics card-and-monitor combinations (commonly used forcomputer-aided drafting) can handle refresh rates of over 100Hz.However, I’ve met gamers and other computer owners who swear that theyprefer a lower refresh rate. Only your eye can make the decision, sotry out a monitor at 75Hz or 80Hz before you buy it.

Both yourmonitor and your graphics card must support the same refresh rate inorder for you to use it. Setting your monitor for a higher refresh ratethan recommended by the manufacturer can permanently damage it!(Windows 95 and 98 may alert you of this problem as well if you try toset your refresh rate too high.)

If your monitor and graphicscard have Windows 95 or 98 drivers, your computer can automatically setthe optimal refresh rate for your particular hardware combination. (Ofcourse, that’s “optimal” according to the manufacturer, so it may notsuit you perfectly. But at least it’s a good start.)


Unfortunately,there’s one problem with shopping for a card with a high refresh rate:This particular figure often isn’t mentioned! Most manufacturers don’tinclude a card’s refresh rate in their advertising, so it’s up to youto visit the company’s Web site and dig a little deeper. You’ll alsofind these benchmark figures mentioned in articles covering graphicshardware in gaming and computer magazines. Sometimes a little sleuthingcan make the difference between a good graphics-card choice and a greatchoice, so avoid the temptation to buy quickly. And turn a critical eyetoward those flashy graphics-card magazine advertisements.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:32 am
Are Women gamers just as competitive as men? in The Great Debates!
Oberon Media's new COO, Don Ryan, believes that there is little difference between male and female gamers.
"Myexperience at MSN and Xbox Live is that women are as competitive if notmore competitive than men, except that they just don't want to spend orhave the time or learn 'up-down-X-X-Y-Y'...They don't want to deal withthat," he told GamesIndustry.biz.
"You give them one button, they'll kick your butt."
Ryanalso recognises that although the current generation of consoles aren'tnecessarily considered as casual devices, that could changesignificantly over time - so that while the USD 300-500 price points ofthe Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 can compare with the PlayStation 2 whenit launched, Sony's older console has a much bigger casual appeal today.
                   
"Iagree with your general premise in that, if I'm a single mom thatreally likes puzzle games, I'm not necessarily going to go and buy aPlayStation 3 to come home and download Bejeweled," he said.
"Whenwe designed Xbox Live Arcade...That's the reason it had a retro-arcadetilt to it. We knew that we had to have the rabid owner of the boxcompletely engaged. So, you know, Geometry Wars and the rest of it.
Then, what happens, underneath it you have this nice foundation of Hexic, Bejeweled and Astro Pop."
Ryanknew that the users of the Xbox 360, and those who paid for content andservices, were often different people - giving Microsoft the potentialto reach both.
"What we tried to do was, again, segment intothese two core audiences, with some content bridging - puzzle gamesalways bridge, especially action puzzle games - and link them to thecommunity."
"And what ended up happening is exactly what wethought. 'Hey, I'm familiar with that. I know how to play that! Get outof my way. Oh, I beat you!. And then the competition kicks in..."
To date, Oberon's titles haven't yet appeared on the PlayStation Network or WiiWare - but that could change in the near future.
"Ultimately,what we're going to try to concentrate on are a few set of coreplatforms, then we'll partner with people for expanding thedistribution of our intellectual property across other platforms," hesaid.
"Just like any publisher who is focused, we are going toidentify potential franchise extensions and find people who are just asexcited about our IP for those devices."
So, while the companydoesn't have any plans to internally build WiiWare games, for example,that doesn't mean they won't talk to other parties about exploitingtheir IP on other platforms.
"Ultimately, what you are going tosee is the PS3, the Xbox 360...as the price curves comes down, you aregoing to see more and more casual content."
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:41 pm
Playing WoW is worse than looking at porn in Gaming
It may be the most famous MMORPG inthe world, with over 10 million subscribers to the game, but accordingto a leading psychiatrist in the treatment of online game addiction,some World Of Warcraft users are more ashamed of being addicted to it than online porn.
In a revealing interview printed in Sunday’s Boston Globe,Dr Jerald Block spoke about the rise in internet addiction and some ofthe cases he has had to deal with. In it, he states: “The computergamers tend to be harder to treat. People feel a lot of shame aroundcomputer games. Whereas, it's socially acceptable to have a pornproblem.”
This gameplay world
According to the Boston Globe, Block had recently published an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry arguing that ‘Internet Addiction’ should become a new diagnostic term.
Furtheron in the interview, Block explains that: “As a society we understandthat porn is something people do, and you can see a psychiatrist andget treated for it. But gaming is hard to describe to anyone else.
“Sothese people can't explain their situation to friends. In fact, it'shard to give you an example of what my clients talk about, becausegaming is enormously complicated.”
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:11 pm
WWDC 08: Developer Demos Roundup in Apple
Appletook the wraps off version 2.0 of its iPhone firmware at WWDCtoday.But it didn't send thousands of iPhone owners scurrying away toclickon 'Check for Update' in iTunes.
The 2.0 firmware, and by associationthe new iPhone3G, are due to be rolled out worldwide on July 11.
Thenew iPhone 3G is undoubtedly theheadline act – it updates Apple'spioneering smartphone withtri-band HSDPA connectivity, GPS and improvedbattery life. If theiPhone was hard to beat before, it's even toughernow. But the new2.0 firmware that's being rolled out with it is equallyimportant.
Enterprise, SDK and 'new features'
Availableon both the 3G and original2G iPhones, version 2.0 adds a several newfeatures to the iPhoneplatform. There are those that we've alreadyseen: push email andcalendaring (via MS Exchange), Cisco VPN supportand downloadablethird-party applications via the forthcoming App Store.
And there are those features we didn'tsee coming: a pushnotification service, a scientific version of Calcand a nifty ContactSearch. These hardly make compelling front pagenews. Apple has improvedthe iPhone in very subtle ways.
When it hits on July 11, version2.0 ofthe iPhone firmware won't offer a major overhaul of theiconictouchscreen interface. Why should it? If it 'aint broke... AsSteveJobs explained in his keynote, there are three elements to theiPhone2.0 software – enterprise, the SDK and 'new features'.
SinceApple firstrevealed the iPhone 2.0 software back in early March, we'veknownabout its enterprise plans. Apple's support for MS Exchangewillenable the sort of push calendaring, push email, push contactsandremote wipe capabilities that businesses have been crying outfor.Ditto the built-in Cisco VPN client.
What we're reallyinterested in is thepersonal apps and games. With 250,000 softwaredeveloper kitsdownloaded since March, Jobs revealed that Apple hadadmitted 4,000applicants to its iPhone developer programme (from25,000applications).
With access to the iPhone's coreAPIs(shared with Mac OS X), plus its accelerometer, cameraandlocalisation features, we now have a better idea of what theiPhoneis capable of.
Super Monkey Ball for $9.99
Just as it did back in March, Segashowed off an updated cut of its GameCube favourite Super MonkeyBall.This game will be available on the App Store for $9.99 when itlaunchesin July. That's about £5 or £6 in UK money,although expect thereal-world exchange rate to be avoided in favourof $1=£1. At least it'sa lot less than the rumoured $25 pergame that was swirling around techwebsites pre-keynote.
In comparison, the rest of the earlyAppStore line-up at WWDC seems a little simplistic – anuninspiringselection of games, medical applications and prettied-upnews feeds. Butthere are some bright sparks.
The mobile version of TypePad,forexample, has been designed to tie in with the iPhone's camera,enablingyou to take shots and upload them to a website. Looptoffers a mix ofsocial networking with location-aware intelligence,while the AssociatedPress plans anapp that will map your whereabouts to deliver relevantnews.
Apple itself has developed a pushnotification service,designed to keep a persistent IP connectionopen that can notify you ofnew emails or instant messages. And itdoes this without the relevantapplications running in thebackground. It's a big deal, but pencilSeptember in your diary forthis one.
Like the iPhone 3G, the AppStoreshould launch on July 11th. 2G and 3G iPhone owners will be abletodownload apps less than 10MB over 2G/3G, Wi-Fi or via iTunes.Anythinggreater than 10MB will be limited to Wi-Fi connections anddownloads viaiTunes.
The 2.0 upgrade will be free for iPhoneusers, but it will cost iPod touch owners $9.95.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:03 am
WWDC 08: 3G iPhone with GPS - £99 half price and apps in Apple
"The price is a maximum of $199 all around the world -- we're really,really excited about the new iPhone 3G. And as you might expect, wehave a new ad! I'd love to show it to you." Lights are down... spytheme.

"70 countries this year. We're going to start with 22 ofthe biggest, rolling out the iPhone 3G at the same time in all of thesecountries. July 11."


"The big news, is $399 to $199 -- we think we can check off more affordable."

"We think the iPhone 3G will be affordable to almost everyone. 16GB model for $299 -- for that model we have a white one

"iPhonestarted off at $599 for an 8GB device, which now sells for $399 -- wewant to make it even more affordable. I'm happy to tell you the 8GBwill sell for $199."

"These deals are all signed, sealed, anddelivered. Our stretch goal was 25 countries -- we'll be in 70countries this year, we think we can check off more countries."Applause. "Which brings us to more affordable."

Don't worry people, we'll have maps!


Huge, huge applause. People are on the edges of their seats. "We'llbe rolling it out in 70 countries in the next severeal months. Nexttime you're in Malta and you need an iPhone 3G, it'll be there for ya."


Showing all the countries, playing Small World -- most of SouthAmerica... Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Czech, Switzerland, Portugal,Spain, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Greece,Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast,Cameroon, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa... man, way too many countries!

"Wethink we can check off third party apps. We distro iPhones in sixcountries -- we set ourselves the goal of 12 countries for the iPhone3G, and the stretch goal of 25 countries... Here we go..."


"Enterprise support: as we explained earlier, full Exchangesupport. All secure VPN, everything everyone's asked for is built-in.We're on exactly the right track, we can now check off enterprisesupport. Third party apps -- the SDK, you saw the great apps, and we'vegot the best way to distro them."


Zig-zagging down Lombard street. "So! Built in GPS, and much, muchfaster data. We think we can check off 3G and add built-in GPS toboot." Big applause.

Showing tracking ping -- crap, that's hot.

"Locationservices is going to be a really big deal on the iPhone -- you saw abit of that here today, it's going to explode. We get location fromcelltowers, from WiFi, and now we get it from GPS." So that's A-GPS."We can actually do tracking."

11:38AM PT -
"Sogreat performance, great battery life. Now, one other thing thatbenefits from fast data is GPS -- we've built that into GPS." The crowdroars.


"Browsing, 5-6 hours of high speed browsing. Video - 7 hours, audio - 24 hours." Big applause. Dizamn.

"2Gtalk time is up from 8 hours to 10 hours. 3G talk time... other phoneshave 3 - 3.5 hours, we've managed 5 hours of 3G talk time, which is anindustry-leading amount of time."

"If we compare this to WiFi,we'll see 3G approaches WiFi speeds. We're also really proud that we'redoing this with great battery life -- standby time is 300 hours."


Email attachment download demo. 5s over 3G, 18s over EDGE.



"We took two other 3G phones -- the iPhone 3G is 36% faster thanthe nokia N95 and Treo 750 -- and look at the result you get, by theway! Full page on the iPhone, and quite a bit less on the otherphones." Big applause.

"It's even more remarkable when you lookat this next to WiFi -- you can see 3G speeds are actually approachingWiFi. It's amazing zippy -- 17s."


Still waiting to load... people are murmuring. Duh, Steve, we'vebeen saying this since the beginning. People are whistling now. 59s onEDGE. "Slow."

Showing EDGE vs. 3G -- let's see how we do. 3G version takes 21s to load... PAINFULLY slow on EDGE.




"How does the iPhone 3G tackle these things? Let's take a look at3G. Why do you want 3G? Faster data downloads, right? There's nowherethat you want it more than the browser and downloading email. First,the browser..."

"Improved audio, it's really, really great... and it feels even better in your hand, if you can believe it."

"Flush headphone jack."

"Solid metal buttons, the same gorgeous 3.5-inch display, camera"

"We'velearned so much with the first iPhone. We've taken everything we'velearned and more and created the iPhone 3G. It's beautiful. This iswhat it looks like. "Black back! "Thinner at the edges. Full plasticback, it's really nice."

HUGE applause.


"Today w'ere introducing the iPhone 3G.

"The number onereason people didn't buy iPhones is because they just can't afford it(56%). So as we arrives iPhone's 1st bday -- we're going to take it tothe next level."



"And last but not least -- everyone wants an iPhone, but we need to make it more affordable." Big applause.

"Second:enterprise support, third: third party apps, fourth: we need to sell itin more countries. We've sold iPhone in six countries so far, butbelieve me, they're in use ALL over the world." Hehe. "It's clear thereis a demand."


"What are these next challenges? 3G." Huge applause.

"Inthat first year we sold 6m iPhones since we ran out some weeks ago. Wedid figure out what our next challenges are... the next mountain wehave to climb to go to the next level."

"That's all great, butthe thing that makes us the happiest is that users love the iPhone. 90%customer satisfaction -- that's off the charts. What products todayhave that? 98% are browsing -- mobile browsing has gone from nothing to98% with the iPhone. 94% are using email, 90% are using SMS -- 80% areusing 10 or more features. You can't even begin to figure out how touse 10 features on a normal phone!"


"And iPhone has had tremendous critical acclaim -- best inventionof the year -- it's the widely believed that this it the phone that'schanged phones forever." Applause



"Now I'd like to talk about something near and dear to my heart.That's the iPhone. In a few weeks it's going to be the iPhone's firstbirthday. An amazing intro -- certainly the most amazing we've everhad."

Steve! "Isn't that great? We've been working on that for a while. I think we finally got it right."

".Mac users can continue to use service, but they'll be automatically upgraded to MobileMe. So that's MobileMe."

"We'regoing to create a free 60 day trial, available along with iPhone 2.0.You might be asking what about .Mac? MobileMe replaces .Mac."

"It's available for $99 per year -- 20GB of storage."
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:48 pm
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