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828 results for ram
'Why I Still Use Windows 95' - (and IE4...) ? in General Discussion, including Off Topic, Current Affairs
this is stupid, a lot of what that guy said is not true.  for example, win98 is NOT eyecandy, and w/e it does have that would be considered that can be turned off.  win95 is not good for everyday tasks.  is it suitable to do so?  sometimes, but a newer os would be much better, even if its 98.  and how is the whole "3d" look annoying?  not only would be insignificantly take up disk space and ram, but it helps you actually see whats the boarder of something.  and, from what i remember, win98 was under 700mb.  big whoop, 200+mb for a LOT more features, stability, and functionality.  if you're that cheap, go with linux and use a live cd every time you start up your computer - at least that way you take up no space at all.

as for his complaint about programs such as firefox working on a newer os, maybe he just needs to get into the new ages and just buy a new computer.  it would not surprise me that hes using a newer os on something that isn't even 1ghz.  this guy needs to learn to think - FIREFOX IS DESIGNED FOR MODERN COMPUTERS.  obviously it'll run slow if you run it on something that wasn't designed for something THAT new.

with his whole comment on security and stability, one of the greatest complaints about the first win95 that came out was it was very INSECURE, which results in instability.  win98 was considered so great because it was so much more stable and well designed.  win95 was the first os of its kind for MS, you HAVE to expect problems with it.  if this guy were to do as much tweaking and fixing with win98 or any other os as he did with 95, he'd get the exact amount of stability and security as he would with 95 but probably with less work, making his comments void.

i can understand his whole native feeling argument, but 1 thing that just plain makes no sense is why can't he just make the emulator fullscreen?  that way, its like he really IS running DOS.  Again, his point is void.

i couldn't tell if he was kidding or not in the next paragraph.  even in the NT based OSes, if you're running IE and type "c:\", a file browser in explorer will run and replace IE.  works the same way if you type in a website in explorer.  Again, this guy just doesn't think.  and who really gives a crap about those "essential tools".  ever heard of right clicking?  And how is forward, back, and favorites awkward?  first of all, they're optional.  secondly, its for a different type of organization, and apparently it worked well since the old fashioned tree idea (which i'm assuming is what he finds is better) is no longer used for regular file and website browsing whereas these buttons are.  to comment on the last sentence, win98 has columns as well as every other os with menus, so idk where hes getting that from.  instead of alphabetical order, its made in order of installed date, which is easier to navigate.  and unlike win95, you can edit the menus yourself so they are in alphabetical order.  also, the scroll arrows are NOT slow on a NORMAL computer DESIGNED for the os and they're for organization, which again, is proven effective since the idea is still being used today.

i'm completely fine with people using win95, but the reasons this guy gave are just plain wrong or stupid, or invalid.i don't mean to be this critical, but this is just ignorance.
Posted by schmidtbag Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:01 pm
CrossfireX: 2560x1600 gameplay becomes a reality in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
“AMD ATI Radeon4850/4870 CrossfireX” review at Guru3D. Hilbert’s lost it again – high poweredgraphics have that effect on him... Anyway, what’s come to light, lately, isthe high power consumption of the 4800 series (now double-up on the cards andimagine), and the irregular driver performance. You can see a broad spectrum ofresults, but when Hilbert gets CrossfireX to work, it works great. But do putthings in perspective when reading: with the latest generation of graphics cardsworking in dual-GPU setups, you’ll be looking at buying a 30-inch LCD for2560x1600 gameplay.Readit here.
XS Reviews is cracking open the Zalman GS1000 computer case, targeted at justabout anyone who wants to build a supercomputer at home. It supports E-ATX andvery long PCI cards and has hot-swappable bays for HDDs. Lots of space inside,if you’re “just” using a standard ATX mobo, but the panels are a bit dodgy,thinks the author. Not a snip at £100, but if Zalman could swap out those panelswith something better, they’d have a winner.Readon.
A few years ago we were hack-napped off to a press conference abroad just tosee how Philips would conquer the world of mobile telephony. Some 18 monthslater, Philips withdrew from the market, unable to compete with the big namesand (our personal opinion) mostly due to their utterly rubbish user interface.Now Philips is reviving the brand (Xenium 9@9) in China with the brand new X800.ePrice in Taiwan has the review. The X800 is a full touchscreen design (no, youwon’t have nightmares about the old Xeniums) and it looks like something out ofHTC’s workshop, to be honest. Careful when reading the page, it didn’t play nicewithGooglenglish,but you’ll get the gist (and the photos).
Andrew at Tweak Town took some time to write a guide on how to replace theheatspreaders on your RAM. Naturally it’s one of the warranty-voiding themes,but if you’re in need of improving cooling, it’s a necessary evil. Andrewsoutlines three basic methods to do this (hot, cold, lukewarm), but it all comesdown to be REALLY careful with sharp metallic objects in close proximity of aPCB.Letloose the mad aussie scientist in you.
T-break had a party with the ECS P45T-A Black Edition. ECS isn’t really knownas a top grade mobo maker, but it doesn’t fall behind the competition featurewise with this one. The board supports Crossfire, but it’ll break down the lanesinto 2x8 as per the P45 specs, but when you try your hand at an overclock, Abbasthinks you’ll be left wanting. The “Black Edition” brings to mind ideas ofmodding, overclocking and serious tweaking. That isn’t the case, it seems. Goodprice, tho’.Readon.
Tosh has hit the Portégè brand with its shrink ray and launched the G810.It’s no longer a notebook, as it were, it’s a Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone witheverything touchscreen. It’s targeted at the same market as the HTC TouchCruise, but you really can’t avoid comparing the details with the iPhone. It’sHSDPA enabled and even includes GPS functionality. The only real thing goingagainst it is the slow speed of the image capture (slow flash, we guess). $550will buy you one.Readthe review here.
Hardware Zone is gobsmacked by Gigabyte’s most extreme P45 mobo – the aptlynamed GA-EP45T-EXTREME. This board has it all, it seems, even a waterblock onthe northbridge that runs liquid cooling to the southbridge and the rows ofcapacitors. It also allows you to stick in 3 ATI cards and is populated by abevy of LEDs that alert you about your overclocking misdeeds. It’s only apreview, butit’stasty.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:42 am
Spore's minimum specs are surprisingly low in Gaming
The latest news on Will Wright’s magnum opus, Spore, is that the minimum PC (and Mac) specifications required to run the game are surprisingly low.

This is great news for the majority of casual PC gamers who don’t tend to spend an inordinate amount of time and money constantly upgrading their PCs and graphics cards.

Maxis/EA has also released the Sporepedia on the official Spore.com site to whet the appetites of those PC and Mac gamers looking forward to Wright’s immense and hugely ambitious game.

The Specs required to run Spore on your PC or Mac are as follows:

Windows XP 2.0 GHz P4 processor or equivalent 512 MB RAM A 128 MB Video Card, with support for Pixel Shader 2.0 At least 6 GB of hard drive space

Windows Vista 2.0 GHz P4 processor or equivalent 768 MB RAM A 128 MB Video Card, with support for Pixel Shader 2.0 At least 6 GB of hard drive space

Mac OS X Mac OS X 10.5.3 Leopard or higher Intel Core Duo Processor 1024 MB RAM ATI X1600 or NVidia 7300 GT with 128 MB of Video RAM, or Intel Integrated GMA X3100 At least 4.7GB of hard drive space for installation, plus additional space for creations.
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:51 pm
Acer’s Atom-based Aspire One £299 Eee Rival in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
The new machine does have something of an identity crisis – Acer iscalling it a “mobile internet device” when others are calling similarlaptops sub-notebooks, micro laptops and suchlike. There certainlyseemed to be some discrepancy between Acer’s label for the machine andIntel’s descripton of it as a ‘netbook.’ Acer has even sent us a‘positioning document’ that says “the Aspire one is an all-newcommunication device designed to provide a true mobile and wirelessexperience through continuous access to the Internet no matter whereyou are.” Nice.
But, marketing claptrap aside, the Aspire One looks like aformidable prospect, especially given its £199 price point for the 8GBLinux version with 512MB of RAM. Acer has engineered a bespokeinterface, rather like Asus’ for the Eee PC. Open Office is offered, asis a Messaging app that can handle MSN/Windows Live, AIM, Yahoo andGoogle Talk. Likewise an integrated email app can handle variousaccounts including Google Mail, but not Hotmail.
Windows XP Home is also an option (£299) but Acer only had the LinuxLite version available for us to look at during this morning’s launch.The uprated Windows XP option provides 1GB of RAM with an 80GB harddrive. Various models will be available, including a version with7.2Mbps HSDPA. Acer was also talking up WiMAX, but we all know itsappearance in the UK will be long and drawn out. 802.11b/g Wi-Fi isincluded as standard – part of Intel’s 945GSE chipset.
The Atom N270 chip is the Diamondville variant (Silverthorne is forUMPCs and MIDs) and runs at 1.6GHz with a thermal envelope of 2.5W.That’s the top end of the spectrum for Atom, which doesn’t need a fan.
In terms of weight and size, the Aspire 1 is just over 1KG and ismore-or-less perfect for a train-top table. It’s still an 8.9-inchdisplay, though Acer plans some bigger-screened models in future. Othernotable features include an SD slot for expanding the memory as well astwo available batteries – a 3-cell that Acer says promises three hoursof battery life as well as a 7-cell for a pretty impressive sevenhours. Take some time off this if you’re buying an XP-based variant.
The Aspire One will make an impression on the market, that’s forsure. The £199 Linux offering is impressive and pound-for-pound the XPversion is better value than the MSI Wind. Acer clearly wants to makean impact – the company will hope the Atom will give the Aspire One thespringboard it needs.
Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:05 pm
Dell XPS 730 H2C - 4 graphics cards super rig 2GB DDR3 in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
HOTHARDWARE HAS A MASSIVE gaming machine that’ll make mostgamers drool over - the Dell XPS 730 H2C. It’s an oh-so-powerful machine withdual-dual graphics cards under its bonnet and an extremely expensive CPU topower it all. Sure, you might be disappointed with “just” 2GB of DDR3 RAM, butthat’s about the weakest link in the whole setup. Lest we forget, the XPS 730ships with an integrated watercooling system. Its godlike features did leave animpression on the review crew (and wallet). Catch ithere.
The Lenovo M57p Eco ultra small computer has some nifty entrails, but islacking in the “looks” department. The Eco in the name purports to its EPEATGold and GreenGuard Air Emissions Quality certifications. The fact that itsrunning an E8400 and drawing just 74W at load is simply jawdropping. AlthoughLenovo has cut the umbilical cord with the original IBM designs,here’san article to prove that they Big Red has something up its sleeve.
Sparkle is very much alive and kicking – and they’ve just launched a new9600GT that InsideHW was nice enough to review for everyone to read. The SparkleCalibre 9600GT comes factory OC’d at 700MHz (a popular choice with this GeForcechip), and performs as you’d expect. The price doesn’t seem too steep for anOC’d 9600GT, although Nebojsa does think so. Read about ithere.
OCC is testing ThermalTake’s new VH6000BWS Armor+ case. This big box istargeting quad-core graphics and extreme cooling requirements, although the latter is mostly a DIY job - you can pull out the HDD cages to install additionalcooling, for example, but you'll have to setup your own coolers. Apart from thebiggie 230mm fan, Thermaltake has left a lot of fan mounting points free for youto do as you will –keep the price lower in the process. Solid stuff, it seems.Read ithere.
Hilbert is laying his hands on BFG’s latest PSU, the ES Series 800watter.It’s a sensible PSU if there is such a thing – throwing LEDs and modularity outthe window – and sticking to the basics: power and performance. By the end ofthe review, Hilbert is really raving about how good a thing BFG has. It takesquite a bit to achieve this...clickethhere, my son.
If you’re into heavy Torrenting this review is for you. Custom PC is testingthe Emprex NSD-100 P2P Download Engine. At a paltry £45.81, this little enginecan manage up to 20 torrents while you get your beauty sleep. It’s downside isreally not having an integrated HD or NAS feature, but you can plug an externalHD to it. Simple enough, it seems, but there’s better out there, thinks Kevin.
Posted by Editorial Team Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:35 am
Would you buy a premium priced PC? New Ultimo High spec PC's in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
High end PCs are starting to emerge from the shadow of gaming, as British company UltimoPC is launching a range that will break the bank to lavish you with top end components.

The firm has unveiled five PCs types, the Gaming, Workstation, Mediacenter, Silent and Spacesaver.

Co-founder Paul Harris said to TechRadar: “The ethos behind Ultimo is to build the best range of personal computers in the world. This may sound like a throw away line but we think long and hard about our choice of components and their compatibility.

“It’s not just about numbers, it’s about reliability, stability and a first class user experience. Every component has been selected for quality, from the Zalman fans to the WD Hard drives, Corsair RAM, Intel Processors and of course the Thermaltake and Coolermaster cases.”

Money can’t buy you love…but it can buy PCs

The PCs come in a range of costs, from the Workstation, which starts at £699, to the high end Gamer, which can be specced up to £2200.

Harris adds: “Our target audience is anyone who wants to buy a high quality rig at an affordable price. We’re confident that no other PC manufacturers will put as much time and effort into building and testing each of their rigs to perfection like Ultimo. Our aim is not to be the cheapest but to be the best.”

The company is also offering a range of high-end peripherals, from monitors to wireless mice and keyboards, to supplement the “expensive is best” ethos.

Each PC comes with up to 1-2TB of storage, and up to 4GB DDR3 RAM is available on most models.

Each PC is made to order, and takes seven days to deliver. Available now.
Posted by Editorial Team Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:45 pm
Valve: 'PC Gaming Market Is Not Dying' - DEBATE in The Great Debates!
The PC is no longer a viable platform. The PC is all about casual gaming. The PC market is dying.

We've heard it all before, and so has Valve's Doug Lombardi. Irecently caught up with the marketing VP during an Electronic Artspress event. At the end of the night, the house music dying down, wehad a long chat on a number of topics--many of which pertained to hiscompany's primary platform.
What does Valve think of the PC Gaming Alliance? Are they as tired ofthe PC gaming "problem" as we are? What is at the root of the issue,anyway?
Shack:
Do you guys ever get tired of the same old "PC Gaming Is Dying" stories?
Doug Lombardi:
I mean, I think,we sort of laugh at it. Because we've been wildly successful--we'revery fortunate, you know. Our games have all done really, really well,Steam has taken off and become this whole other business for us, Valvehas never been in better shape--and yet everybody is talking about howin the PC world, the sky is falling. And we're like, we've been doingthis for 10 years now--actually 12 years since the company started, 10years since the first game came out--and we've never been in bettershape, financially or otherwise. The company is over 160 people now--itwas 20 people when we shipped Half-Life. We've got multiple projectsgoing--we were always a one-project-at-a-time group.
We don't understand why that story gets traction over time. I thinkpeople have finally started to clue in to the fact--there was a storylast week where people finally looked at the online subscriptionrevenues for WoW and all the things that look like WoW, and realized,wow, there was a butt-load of cash being made here that wasn't beingcounted at the register, at retail, in North America, which is whereall these stories come out of.


NPD, god love 'em, they release a US retail sales report, and peopletake that and say that's the world picture. And it's just not true.It's not like NPD is trying to be evil. Their job is to report NorthAmerican sales data. They're doing their jobs. But people are takingthat and discounting.. in Germany for example, retail sales of PCproducts crush all other games, with the possible exception of the DS.It certainly kills all of the next-generation consoles. So if peoplewere looking at that and factoring it in, if people were looking atWoW's subscriptions alone and factoring it in, looking at Steam salesand factoring it in.. Just look at what Popcap's doing--Bejeweled andPeggle and all this stuff--they're not in that NPD data.
If you go around and you look at all these different things that arehappening on the PC, and you add them together, my hunch is that [thesales numbers] would actually be much larger than all of the consolesput together. Again, minus the DS, because the DS is this crazy thingby itself. But talking purely in terms of the Wii, the PS3, and the360, if you added those together and looked at the whole picture, I'dbet you PC would be even, if not bigger than those three systems interms of the money that's changing hands and the opportunity for doingbusiness.
So we always look at those things, and we always kind of laugh. We'redoing just fine, Popcap's doing just fine, Blizzard'scertainly--they're printing money down there. We always sort of shakeour heads, and go, okay, sooner or later someone's going to write thebigger picture story and perceptions will change.
Shack:
Interesting that you use the word "perception." Is this a perception problem?
Doug Lombardi:
It is absolutelya perception problem. I mean one of the things that happensis--Microsoft has an army of PR people that work for Microsoft. Theyhave at least two agencies that are additional armies. Nintendo I'm notas familiar with their PR outline, but I'm sure it's similar. Sony issimilar. The PC has nobody. They've got people like us, in our sparetime, talking to guys like you. I mean if there were hundreds of PRpeople stationed around the world, whose whole job was to call youevery day and tell you why the PC was a great platform, your perceptionwould probably be different.
Shack:
As far as improving perception, what do you think about something like the PC Gaming Alliance? I noticed you guys aren't partners. Any particular reason behind that? Do you see a real benefit coming out of the PCGA?
Doug Lombardi:
We'll see. Imean, I think it's great that a group of major players are gettingtogether and trying to address the problem. For us, we're really busydoing Steam, building our games. We're not really members of any of theboards, whether it's the IDG, or the PC Gaming Alliance, or whatever.If those guys want our opinion, we'll give it to them, but being onthose boards is kind of a job. We try to remain a small independentstudio, and if our help is needed in some way other than just joiningthe group for the sake of being another developer sitting a table atthe meetings, then we'll talk to those guys. I mean we're totally opento it, we want them to succeed, but until we see an actionable reasonfor us to be involved in it, you know, how we can help in a tangibleway, we're going to kind of sit in the bleachers with everybody elseand wish them luck.



Wedefinitely wish them luck. Like I say, part of the reason why the PChas the perception issue is that they don't have a group of peoplechampioning it. And if the PC Gaming Alliance says, "We need to attackthis from an advertising and PR standpoint," we'll be there to givethem quotes. [laughs] So however we can help. Just because we're not onthe board doesn't mean we're not rooting for them.


Shack:
Do you see a PC gaming resurgence on the horizon, at least in terms of how people think about the platform?
Doug Lombardi:
I think you cansee it in this room. I don't know what the final total is here, but Ithink there are eight PC games and three console games here?
Shack:
Yeah, about that.
Doug Lombardi:
And this is EA's"getting ready to start clubbing you guys over the head for E3"campaign that's beginning. So I think it's starting to happen. I thinkwe saw some of that last Christmas too. A lot of the big titles wereOrange Box on the PC, Crysis, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusadedid really well. I think this year you're going to see a lot of thesame thing with Left 4 Dead, Spore, Battlefield Heroes. There's a lotof people making great PC product. id is getting ready to rev up abunch of really great PC product, and those guys are always great.They've been legends on the PC since, what, '93? So I think it alwayssort of comes and goes.



There's this kind of roller-coaster ride: the consoles launch, their PRagencies go out and do everything they can to try and say the PC isdying, they'll prop up the sales of the console, the console starts toget old in the tooth, the PC starts leapfrogging in terms of graphicsand bigger releases. So we're almost what, mid-way through the consolelifecycle now? So yeah, over the next two years the story's going tocome back that the PC is bigger, things like Left 4 Dead and Spore, theid titles are going to come out and everybody's going to be like, "Wow,those console titles are looking kind of crappy."

Shack:
Do you think PC system requirements are an important part of this perception problem?
Doug Lombardi:
Oh, I think it'sa big problem. I think it's a big problem. You know, we try to bereally responsible. Going back to Half-Life 1, we tried to be reallyresponsible in saying the average PC gamer should be able to play thisgame start to finish and have an enjoyable experience. Now, they're notgoing to have the best graphics, they're not gonna have every shaderturned on and what have you. But they're gonna have a decent framerate,all the monsters and creatures are going be there, and all the dialogueis going to be there. From a basic content and experience level,they're going to be able to go through that.
We take that Steam hardware surveytwice a year, and we publish those results of usually a million or moregamer systems. We publish those very consciously to try to help otherpeople realize like--here's a million people on Steam and what theirsystem requirements look like. No, you can't drop support for DirectX 9yet. There's still 70% of the people playing on Steam today are runningon DX 9 cards. So you've gotta be cognizant of that, and RAM and CPUspeeds, same way.
In the old days we had sort of this weird, "Okay, here's some of whatthe card guys and CPU guys are telling us they're gonna be selling, andhere's this voodoo crystal ball thing we're going to do and try toguess." Now that Steam survey gives us an exact data point to workfrom. You've got a million people, we do it every six months, and wecan go back and say 18 months ago it was here, and here's the adoptionrate, and we can see the trajectory. It's pretty black and white.
I think hopefully one of the things we did really well with Orange Box,and we've heard this from a lot of people: "I fired up Portal on mythree year old machine and it ran great." And that helps us sell moreunits, and helps the perception of the PC industry. People buy a newgame and their system is 18 months old and it doesn't run, or it'sunplayable, that hurts the PC industry. That person who just spentmoney on a PC game is going to have a question mark next time he walksinto the store. And he's gonna say, "Geez, I don't know, if I buy it ona console I know it's going to work."
So I mean, I think people just need to do a better job of looking atwhere gamers are at, being more honest about the system requirementsthey put on the box, and just sort of taking a step back and saying,"Gameplay is king, performance is second, and graphics are somewhereafter that." People have said to us, you know, Portal is cool, but itwasn't the prettiest game. Well, okay, it sold a whole lot, it wasnamed game of the year by over 30 outlets, and many of the people whoplayed it told me they finished it and had a great time. I would muchrather have that than have people tell me it was the prettiest gamethat came out last year.
Shack:
Does theresponsibility lie somewhat with the hardware manufacturers to markettheir products in a reasonable way, or is it up to the developers toset sane requirements?
Doug Lombardi:
Oh I think it'stotally the fault of the developers. Totally the fault of thedevelopers. I mean the graphics guys, their job to keep pushing theenvelope, and as they push the envelope, move the lower-end cards downto a nice price point, so that there's always this evolution that'shappening. If you're a hot rod type of guy, and you want to spend $400on the latest thing, you want to have a smoking machine, and when Left4 Dead comes out you want to run it at its highest resolution withkiller framerates, and call your buddies over for a beer and make themall drool over your system, awesome. But if you're just a guy who wantsa decent PC for less than a thousand bucks, and wants to be able to rungames on it, there should be a card out there that runs games at adecent famerate and decent fluidity. Then it's on us to write for bothof those guys.



It's a business decision, really. Too often I think the developmentside of things runs the house. People say, "Oh, we've got to targetthose high-end core gamers. We have the best graphics, sweetestscreenshots, and we'll get more press, and we'll win." Okay, well,you'll win in the pre-launch phase. Then when the game comes out, and60-70% of the people who don't have that sweet machine--maybe evenhigher numbers, maybe 80% don't have that sweet machine--well you justcut off your ability to sell to all of those guys.
You know, it's hard to be able to have games that scale, and to writeperformance on the high end, and write performance on the bottom end,but you know, winning in any industry means some hard work, and there'sa certain level of hard work that developers have to takeresponsibility for. And when you see games that do that, where theyhave solid gameplay, and they scale well across machines, usually thosegames do well.
Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 24, 2008 6:22 pm
Age of Conan tops charts: finally a game that takes on WoW? in Gaming
After a long build up, including an eight-week delay to apply the final polish, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (AoC) has been launched.

The game is widely seen as one that has a chance of taking on the current king of the online gaming heap - World of Warcraft (WoW).



That battle for a share of the global online gaming world is one that the mighty Conan himself would relish. At stake are fame, respect and untold riches.

The BBC News website got a chance to play through the early levels of the game and right from the opening moments it is obvious that the cosy world of WoW has been left far behind. It's not for nothing that the game is rated 18.

The game opens on a galley ship on which both male and female characters are slaves. Under attack, the ship sinks and the character is washed up on the beach of an island called Tortage naked but for a loin cloth and shackles.

From those opening moments the graphical detail of the game is a huge leap forward from the rather "cartoon-y" look of WoW. It even rivals Lord of The Rings Online in the graphical stakes. That detail comes at a price - the minimum specs are quite high.

Joe Best, associate producer at publishers Eidos, said: "We really want this to be full fat but also scalable to the PCs of the last few years."

The opening is worthy of a Conan story in which the hero is left to craft his, or her, destiny with their bare hands. The first quests involve finding a way to remove the shackles and then kill the man who enslaved you.

For the first 20 levels of the game, players will be pretty much alone, said Joe Best, an associate producer at Eidos.

The "linear" nature of those early levels on Tortage is where players become familiar with the game world, the abilities of their character and how to play. After that they get to join the larger MMO world of AoC.

     

During those early levels the most important lessons learned are those that show how to fight.

Combat, bloody visceral combat, is at the heart of the Conan stories and the game is no exception. One of the first decisions made when the game was being drawn up, said Mr Best, was that the combat would be "ferocious".

"It's not about watching your character fight for you," he said. "they really wanted to break away from that "point and click" aspect of MMOs."

In games such as World of Warcraft characters attack automatically once they are directed to a target. In AoC the on-screen character only does what it is told. That's necessary as enemies adapt their fighting style to defend against the way they are attacked so that involvement is key.

And the combat is involving, much more so than WoW, where the same attacks and spells will despatch the same types of foe.

There is no doubt that it is fun to use combos and alter your attacks to beat a foe to the ground, or knock them back and then leap forward to finish them off with a panther-like grace that would win a nod of approval from the massive Cimmerian, Conan himself.

     
Quote:
AGE OF CONAN: SPECIFICATIONS
Minimum
Processor: 3GHz
Ram: 1GB
Video: Nvidia GeForce 5800 or ATI 9800
OS: Windows Vista/XP
Recommended
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or better
Ram: 2GB or better
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7950GX2 or better
OS: Windows Vista/XP


It was odd, said Mr Best, that given combat centrality to most MMOs that no-one had tried such a thing before.

AoC's distinctiveness does not stop with blood, gore and intense combat. At the higher levels players can get a mount, (horse, mammoth or war rhino) that can be used for trampling enemies in to the dust. Those on horseback can swing a weapon and use the momentum of a charge to inflict huge amounts of damage.

Those mounts are likely to be very useful in another of AoC's selling points - siege warfare. Guilds can build their own cities or battle keeps, once their members have gathered enough raw materials for the buildings. As Mr Best said creating a city is a "very social experience".

But once built it may not be safe. Rival factions can gather their war mammoths, trebuchets and troops to lay waste to their enemies' homes and businesses. Pitched battles featuring huge groups of players are likely to become very popular.

Mr Best said many of the decisions that have driven the development of Age of Conan were taken to make it stand out.

Quote:
"If you are going up against World of Warcraft you cannot imitate it, you have to go your own path and do it your way," he said.


And that's something Conan would doubtless agree with. But it remains to be seen whether that list of features not seen in many other MMOs is a recipe for the one feature WoW has in spades: success.

Funcom has announced that over 1 million people have signed up to the Age of Conan beta test, a figure which the company believes is a record, and proves huge interest in the forthcoming adult-themed MMO.
Quote:

"Funcom has not been able to find any higher beta numbers for MMOs in the western world," said Morten Larssen, VP of sales and marketing. "We believe it represents the largest ever beta sign-up figure in the history of the genre."


The company also released additional statistics about interest in the game, commenting that almost 800,000 people have signed up for the newsletter, while last week the official site registered 725,000 unique users.

But while the official launch date of May 20 is still applicable in the US, the European date is now May 23, aligning it with the traditional Friday release for titles in the region.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue May 20, 2008 4:54 pm
UK Samsung R410 laptop is £499 boasting ATI graphics in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
We’ve managed to get a glimpse of Samsung’s latest mainstreamnotebook – the R410. Wandering through a hall of Samsung’s wares at itsHQ in South Korea, we were shown the R410 in action.
It’s not aslightweight as you might expect – 2.4KG for a 14.1-inch laptop remainsa little on the heavy side – but cheaper notebooks contain heaviercomponents. The lid retains Samsung’s glossy black branding, while theinside is silver.
Speaking of price, it’ll be £499 and you should be able to get your hands on one anytime now.
Thespecs on the model we saw were 2GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon Xpress 1250graphics card, a 1.3-megapixel webcam. The 1,280 x 800 pixel displaywill almost certainly have a gloss coating for the UK. The R410 canalso employ any chip from an Intel Celeron T1400 right up to an IntelCore 2 Duo T9300 – exact UK specifications to be confirmed.
Whilethere’s an S-Video out and a 3-in-1 card slot, there’s no HDMI as onmany of Samsung’s other notebooks – somewhat surprising, but there haveto be some sacrifices to hit that sub-£500 price point. Interestinglythough, it boasts Gigabit LAN.
Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 17, 2008 6:22 pm
OSX Capable PC is here finally in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
Because we think it’s informative to see how OS X performs on a computer that isn’t a Mac, Macworld ordered a Psystar Open Computer about a week or so ago. The machine, which Psystar touts as a low-cost alternative to Apple’s hardware, has arrived in our lab, where we plan to put it to the test, just like the home-made Mac built by our own Rob Griffiths.
    
Thesystem we bought from Psystar features a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duoprocessor, 2GB of 667MHz RAM, and a 250GB Hard Drive (specifically, aHitachi Deskstar in our machine). Though the base model includesIntel’s integrated graphics, we splurged and purchased an NvidiaGeForce 8600GT for $110 so that we could test the Open Computer withboth cards.
    
I ordered our Open Computer directly from thePsystar Web site, since that was the only way to place an order at thetime. (Psystar now offers sales over the phone.) Originally, I placedan order for an Open Computer without OS X installed—Psystar charges$155 to install the operating system, and I figured we could save a fewbucks on our order with a little do-it-yourself know-how. But a fewdays after ordering, I called Psystar looking for a status update. Alive human being answered the phone—somewhat surprising to me, giventhe storiesthat had appeared about the company immediately after it announcedplans to sell a Mac clone—and put me on hold to look up the order.Moments later, another Psystar employee came on the line and stronglysuggested that I pay to have OS X pre-installed. He explained that,unlike the Windows and Linux, installing OS X is a very difficult andcomplicated process and that the company does not provide installationinstructions for OSX. I reluctantly pulled out the credit card, and thesystem shipped out to us a few days later. The system cost us $399.99,plus $50 for a FireWire card. Add in the $110 graphics card and the$155 OS installation, and the machine cost $714.99; shipping broughtthe price to $751.47.
    
As I mentioned above, we’re currentlytesting the Open Computer to see how it performs compared to anhonest-to-goodness Mac. But here are some first impressions gleanedfrom receiving and setting up the machine…
    
     

The Psystar Open Computer, resting comfortably in our Lab

IfPsystar is all about giving you the Mac OS X experience at a moreaffordable price, it was obvious right away that product packaging isone area where the company is looking to trim costs. When the boxarrived, we found it stuffed with white foam packing peanuts, makingthe unpacking process a big mess—I hate those things. The Open Computerwas just sitting in there with the packing peanuts, with nothingcovering it. Some of the doors on the front of the case that cover theoptical drive and the USB ports were a ajar with little pieces of thepacking peanuts lodged in there. After we cleared out the offendingbits, the doors closed properly and the computer appeared to be noworse for wear.
We had a bit of scare, however, when we tried to start up thecomputer. As soon as I hit the power button it sounded like I’d turnedon the garbage disposal. I quickly unplugged the power cable and openedthe case. It turns out that one of the power cables was getting caughtin the fan. I rerouted the cable and restarted. The crunching sound ofthe cable hitting the fan was gone, but the fan was still pretty darnloud. You won’t want this computer sitting on your desk.
    
After using Rob’s home-made Frankenmacfor a few days last week, I was prepared for all of those elegant PCBIOS and bootup screens. Unlike Rob’s machine though, there were noother visible partitions or operating systems stored on the hard drive.Once the Open Computer was all booted up, I was able to plug in aFireWire drive and have it be recognized. The system asked if I wantedto use the external drive as a Time Machine backup drive, and I clickedYes. And though the icon of the drive changed to reflect its new statusas Time Machine volume, the backup would immediately fail each time itattempted to run.
    
The Psystar site features a pagewith lots of available software update downloads, including one forfixing Time Machine errors. Psystar turns off the Mac OS’s automaticSystem Update feature, so you need to download and install updatesmanually. One might think that the company would send you a machinethat’s as up-to-date as possible, but that’s not the case. I calledPsystar tech support and learned that the company will offer a downloadin the next couple weeks that will enable Psystar users to takeadvantage of Apple’s Software Update utility.
    
Macworld Labuses Migration Assistant to transfer our Speedmark user files andfolders to our test system from a clean system booted into FireWireTarget Disk Mode, and that process worked just fine with the OpenComputer. We found, however, that we were unable to boot the OpenComputer into FireWire Target disk mode. The tech support person didn’tthink that Psystar offered that feature. Other startup options, likeSafeBoot, zapping of PRAM, and startup drive selection via the Optionkey are also not available.
    
I tried cloning the internal drive to an external FireWire drive using Carbon Copy Cloner.It cloned successfully, but I was unable to boot from it, even though amessage said the volume would be bootable. It sounds like a couple of folksin the Psystar forums were able to find a way to do it, but theyweren’t giving out specific instructions. We’ll continue to look intothat.
                        
That said, I’ve been impressed by how compatiblethe Psystar is with applications and peripherals—many of the OS Xfeatures work as they would on a legitimate Mac. Look for Speedmarkresults for our Open Computer, as well as other interesting tidbits wecome across, in the coming days.
Posted by Editorial Team Fri May 09, 2008 8:38 pm
Have WoW on your RAM: Infringe Blizzard's copyright in Gaming
The question is, how is installing a third-party tool copyrightinfringement if it doesn't use Blizzard's code? This is where thingsget dicey. In a filing, Blizzard quotes a section from its EULA thatsays that "All connections to the Game and/or the Service, whethercreated by the Game Client or by other tools and utilities, may only bemade through methods and means expressly approved by Blizzard." Inother words, you're only allowed to play WoW using Blizzard-approved software.
By scrolling through the EULA and clicking okay, you agree, and canthen play the game. Here's where Blizzard's logic gets slippery. Toplay the game, certain parts of the code have to loaded into yourcomputer's RAM. In effect, Blizzard says you're making a copy of thegame. Since Glider breaks the EULA, you no longer have a license tomake that copy in your system's RAM, and now you're infringing onBlizzard's copyright.
So you see, any program which creates a "copy" of itself in yoursystem's RAM—and that's every program on your computer—makes you guiltyof copyright infringement unless you have a license allowing you to doso. Public Knowledge, a DC-based public interest group defending therights of users in "the emerging digital culture" has filed an amicus briefwith the court explaining why these claims are so preposterous. PK'sarguments are sound and easy to understand. "Defendant Blizzard insiststhat users of its software must rely upon a license from Blizzard tomake RAM copies, and users infringe copyright when they use thesoftware in a way not permitted by the license agreement," the amicus stated."But the license agreement cannot govern users' rights to make RAMcopies, because that right is already reserved to users under 17 U.S.C.§ 117. Therefore, Blizzard cannot claim any infringement of itscopyrights based upon the creation of RAM copies..."
The law cited by PK states that
"it is not an infringement for the owner of a copyof a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copyor adaptation of that computer program provided...
that such a new copy or adaptation is created asan essential step in the utilization of the computer program inconjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner." It's going to be hard to argue that using your RAM to run World of Warcraft isn't an essential step in playing the game.

Public Knowledge doesn't seem to want to side with either party inthese suits. "This is a case pitting distasteful gaming behavioragainst anunsavory over-assertion of copyrights," Sherwin Siy, Public Knowledge staff attorney stated.Blizzard is trying to stop a company from profiting from cheaters, butin doing so it may alter EULAs and TOS agreements, to the detriment ofusers.  
Quote:
"Under Blizzard's theory, a copyright owner could not onlycontractually impose the most onerous restrictions on itscustomers—restrictions that undermine rights guaranteed by copyrightand First Amendment law—but could also enforce those conditions withthe threat of copyright law's high statutory damages," argues Public Knowledge in its brief. "Blizzard'sattempt to use contract to alter and displace those aspects ofcopyright law it does not like, while using copyright penalties toconstrue and enforce the terms of that alteration, is untenable, andthe Court should not endorse it."
Posted by Editorial Team Thu May 08, 2008 6:55 am
Mario Kart Wii tournaments underway in Gaming
In the bag: Starting small
Picture this: Back in 1980, some snot-nosed punk (and ComputerLandretail employee) named Richard Garriott coded a little RPG for theApple II, which he called Akalabeth: World of Doom. Lacking the funds or theconnections to get it published in any
The Worldwide Tournament feature of Mario Kart Wii is a neat addition, but one that we couldn't talk about in the full review as it didn't launch alongside the game. Late last week, the first worldwide tournament began and I decided to participate.
Warnings for the tournament arrived quickly: a message was sent to myWii Message Board informing me that a tournament was underway and myMario Kart channel quickly changed to a full-blown alert about thetournament. Progress and updates can be posted to your Message Board,as well.
I clicked over to the Tournament section of the online menu. Once youpick your racer and vehicle, you're thrown into a 100CC match on apredetermined course, which is in some cases slightly altered from itsoriginal form. For example, my first race on the Mario Circuit was mademore interesting as the usually-tethered Chomps were running around thecourse. You participate in the run against 11 NPCs as you would in thesingle player mode. Tournaments appear to run for a four-day span overa weekend—the current one ended today—and feature only one course andno real online racing.
Upon completing the race, you submit your time over the Nintendo Wi-FiConnection. This can be done multiple times during the Tournamentperiod. After submitting your record, you can view your time on a linegraph in relation to your friends' times, regional times, and worldwidetimes.
Essentially, the Tournament boils down to a time trial contest. Thelack of direct human competition makes things less exciting than theycould have been, but racing enthusiasts should dig the added dimensionthat worldwide ranking brings to the quest for the best time. I'mworking my Wii Wheel hard to get those good times, and I hope to see some Arsians leading the pack.
sort of professional capacity, Garriotthand-copied a stack of labeled disks and instructions, stuck 'em all in plasticbaggies, and personally peddled them to software stores. That is, until wordof Akalabeth spread like wildfire and California Pacific Computer Companypicked up the publishing rights. Thus did Garriott's alter-ego, Lord British, riseto power.
Today, of course, the Ultima series that Akalabeth spawned spans over adozen critically acclaimed products. Garriott himself went on to become aworld-famous game designer; he currently owns his own castle in Texas, andhe's taken multiple trips into the Earth's orbit. In fact, we were unable to reachGarriott for comment as part of this feature since (as of this writing) he's overin Russia prepping for a trip to the International Space Station in October.Not bad for a career that started with a simple little game that came ina plastic bag.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Jam-packed: The Infocom years
Once upon a time, graphics weren'tsomething people took for granted.Infocom's text-only interactive fictionnever suffered for the lack of them,though few modern gamers can appreciateall those words, since we've become abunch of murder-happy rageaholics withthe attention spans of coked-up ferrets. Orso we're told.
But really, they weren't so minimal as allthat. Infocom titles came with a bizarrerange of pack-in doodads called "feelies."They ranged from the slightly silly, likethe 3D comic book and glasses of LeatherGoddesses of Phobos, to the absolutelynecessary, like the map and game piecesused to keep track of all your robots inSuspended. Again, these often doubled asa form of copy protection. Wishbringerincluded a sealed letter that matched theone you were tasked to deliver in the game.The game instructs you when to open it,but the contents were not disclosed withinthe game itself. Others were awesomely useless:Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy includeda set of black, nontransparent cardboard"Peril Sensitive Sunglasses." Cool, yes, butthese days it seems like a great length togo to for a joke. Less dramatic -- but equallyimpressive -- were all the uncompromisinglyin-universe pamphlets, ID cards, tourist brochures,and correspondence that doubled asgame manuals. The immersion they fosteredmakes playing without 'em feel like onlyabout half the experience.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Manual-o-rama: Serious games are serious business
If you think World of WarCraft-obsessed raiders get way too seriousabout their games, you've got it all wrong. Atone time, many games -- particularly flight simulators,hex-based historical war games, and godgames -- came packed with (or, as you can see fromthe illustration, in) entire binders bursting withmaps, grids, diagrams, procedural instructions, andother paraphernalia designed to help ensure youwere the best you possibly could be at pretendingto do whatever it is you were doing. Back then, if itdidn't have what amounted to a 200-page technicalmanual, it wasn't a real game.
The "read-along" game was a particularly annoyingtangent: Instead of displaying vital story elementsin the game itself, some older RPGs (SSI wasnotably guilty of this) would, at various points,insist that you follow along by reading a particularpassage of fiction from the included documentation.Thankfully, these strange, immersion-breakingmethods of copy protection are a thing of the past.But contemporary games like Falcon 4.0 and manyof AGEOD's boxed editions still include plenty ofthe beloved old-time bells and whistles.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Rock 'n' roll: EA's greatest hits
Thousands of years ago, Trip Hawkins and a fewothers broke away from Apple to form a newcompany that would become known as Electronic Arts;EA's first great innovation was its then-revolutionarypolicy of not treating their employees like crap.Standard practice at the time was to actually avoid givingcredit to game programmers to avoid head-hunting,and while other breakaways like Activision and Imagicmade progress in the area of not-being-jerks-to-designers,EA went even further.
The company likened its employees to rock stars, creditingtheir work and even going so far as to include their photographson packaging and magazine ads, all while giving thema generous share of the profits. This policy was reflected bythe company's name: Electronic Arts' developers were artists.This is most evident in the design of the game boxes themselves,which resembled vinyl LP sleeves. Graced with art thatranged from beautiful to just plain indescribably weird, eachpackage even went so far as to include interior gatefolds featuringarty black-and-white photos and profiles of the designers.Pretentious? Maybe, but unlike the Ion Storm developer-image debaclemore than a decade.
     1987-1993: The Golden Years


Code wheels of doom: Crazy copy protection
Software piracy breeds paranoia, and this was true evenway back when. Most disk-based copy protection provedeasily crackable and hence ineffective, so developers resortedto manual-based measures. In the most simplistic cases, a gamemight merely request a specific phrase from the instructions -- say, the second word from the fifth paragraph on the ninthpage. A few Sierra games got exceedingly weird; The Colonel'sBequest came with a foldout poster that had an infrared viewingwindow and demanded that you match a specified character tohis fingerprints (printed on the poster) before beginning play.King's Quest III -- one of the most outlandish examples -- forcedplayers to type entire passages from the documentation, wordfor word, error-free, on pain of a "game over" screen.
Conversely, the sharp minds at LucasArts often designedtheir copy-protection schemes around more logical and indepthpuzzles. The first two Monkey Island games had thoseinfernal phrase-matching code wheels, and Maniac Mansion'smechanism echoed the aforementioned infrared strip scheme.Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade famously came with awell-crafted mock Grail Diary pack-in designed to mimicthe movie's; Indy (and the player) follow clues throughoutthe game, matching descriptions of the elusive Holy Grail toaccounts laid out in the diary and eventually deducing thecorrect Grail during the game's final puzzle. Loom's Book ofPatterns took a similar tack, assisting players with puzzles overthe course of the entire game. Sometimes fun and occasionallyinfuriating (don't lose those manuals!), old-school copy protectionis (if you ask us) far preferable to today's StarForce- andSecuROM-powered "safety measures."

[Click here to open slideshow]
Questing for goodies: Sierra sets a new standard
Oakhurst, California-based adventure-game titan Sierra On-Lineruled the lion's share of the PC-gaming market from the early 1980sinto the mid-1990s. From humble beginnings with 1979's Mystery House(which added then-revolutionary graphics to the traditional text-basedadventure) and through the company's meteoric rise by way ofnow-classicfranchises like King's Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Police Quest, Sierra always had a way with product delivery. As was commonfor this era, decorative box sleeves and unconventional pack-in literature(which, as with Infocom's games before them, typically doubled as documentationand copy protection) characterized the majority of Sierra's hits:Space Quest II's Space Piston comic, Police Quest's procedural guides andcity maps, the Quest for Glory games' Famous Adventurer's CorrespondenceSchool handbooks, and Leisure Suit Larry 5's Playspy men's-magazine spoofare just a few good examples.
And like EA, Sierra was one of the earliest companies to celebrify its topdesigners; the images of people like Roberta Williams, Al Lowe, Jane Jensen,Jim Walls, Scott Murphy, and Mark Crowe graced these game boxes, actingas both marketing bullet-points and seals of quality. Sierra's success in themid-1990s also brought about a subscription-based house magazine calledInterAction -- sort of a PC-gaming equivalent to Nintendo Power preachingto the company's devoted customer base. Alas, Sierra's "fun" way of productpresentation eventually died out over the back half of the 1990s in the nameof cheaper manufacturing costs. Yay, capitalism!

          1994-2000: Identity crisis!


[Click here to open slideshow]
The Age of CD-ROM ...Is Upon Us!
The CD-ROMcraze took off inthe early 1990s, and bygolly, game publishersmade sure we knewabout it. Back then,when they weren'tshoving the new mediain our faces by teasingthe discs through clearwindows on the boxes(see photo), theywere inventing newbuzzwords to communicateexactly what sort of horsepower our PCs would needto boot these cutting-edge games. In the days before folkslearned how to read system requirements, software was ratedaccording to multimedia PC levels. An MPC1-compliant PC(16MHz CPU, 2MB RAM, 30MB hard drive, 256-color videocard,1x CD-ROM, 8-bit soundcard, and Windows 3.0) was sufficientto play games with an MPC1 designation, and so on. It lasteda whopping six years (making it all the way to MPC3) beforeeveryone stopped caring.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Dorks and dragons: Cloth maps and action figures -- actually not that cool
Some games got just a little too dorky (you know, other than thenerdy war games that came stuffed with hex maps and battleplans). Though this isn't exclusive to a particular era in time, earlyMMOs like Ultima Online and EverQuest are particularly guilty, throwingin everything from painstakingly illustrated cloth maps to (inthe case of UO expansion Lord Blackthorn's Revenge) unpaintedaction-figure molds. Other than acting as stop signs for potentialromantic partners, these crazy props served no practicalpurpose (the maps often were notated in whatever crazysymbol-language their game world utilized). Remember theill-fated Ultima IX: Ascension? In addition to conforming tothe organization-defying box-design pitfalls outlined above,U9's gigantic container housed a cloth map, ye olde spellbookreplicas, a small deck of tarot cards, and a certificateof authenticity signed by series creator Richard "Lord British"Garriott himself. If that sort of collection doesn't get you labeled "Kingof the Hardcore Geeks" by everyone you know, we're not sure what will.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Shape shifting: Why won't they just fit on the damn shelf?
The mid- to late 1990sfeatured a brief and --for game-store owners, atleast -- irritating flirtationwith irregular box shapes. Onone hand, having a triangular, trapezoidal,octagonal, or whatever the-hell shaped boxmight make yourgame stand out ona shelf. On the otherhand, eventually it'd bejust part of a growing nest ofcompeting angletangles. Better still,getting them on the shelf at all in a space-efficientway became a puzzle in itself. Theydidn?t just stand out -- they fell off. Take oddities likethe incomprehensible hyper-origami of the Marathon box:It looked cool, but it didn't stack or store well. The lamentablecondition of GFW's archive copy bears testament to this.     

     
2001-Present: Packaging Trends Take a Nosedive


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Collector's corner: Special (and not-so-special) editions
Every now and then, a publisher still goes balls-to-the-wall with itsmarquee games. Blizzard's big World of WarCraft collectors' boxesinclude mouse pads, behind-the-scenes DVDs, and heavy hardcover art books.And Civilization Chronicles -- a truly impressivelabor of love -- collects Sid Meier's entire Civseries in a sturdy case, including every expansion(updated for modern PCs), a book chroniclingthe series' history, and a DVD chock fullof interviews. But these kinds of deluxe treatmentsdon't happen very often -- most so-called"Collectors' Editions" really aren't. One recentexample: Sins of a Solar Empire's CE box touts atech-tree poster and a hotkey card. Huh?
MMO special editions are particularly prone tosuperfluousness. In-game bonus can't grant anundue advantage to a player, thus                   prevalence of useless but presumablyenvy-inspiringspecial-edition petsand cloaks. The othertypical inclusion is a gamesoundtrack; that would be a perkfor just about any game that isn't an MMO. A massivegame could possess the greatest musical score ever created inhuman history, but after 100 hours of killing boars, it's the last thingmost players want to hear when they're not playing.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Mass market: Stick the disc in a sleeve and call it a day
Nowadays, you're lucky if the typical PC game comeswith anything more than a flimsy black-and-white manual,a couple of discs in paper sleeves, and a cheap cardboardpacking frame. In an era where just about every multi-million dollargame release puts a publisher's bottom line at risk,the only good corner is a cut corner. It's undoubtedly justthe nostalgia talking, but we shed a tear for the days whena few tchotchkes and a nice box were the rule rather thanthe exception. Nowadays, we just wind up paying an extra$20 for the "privilege"of owning a biggerpiece of cardboard anda flimsy book filledwith crappy conceptillustrations. And withdownload-on-demandservices like Steam fastbecoming stable PCgamingsuperstores,it can't be long until"bargain bin" becomessynonymous with"deluxe edition."
The future looms large
Posted by Editorial Team Mon May 05, 2008 6:57 pm
A History of PC Game Packaging Trends [FEATURE] in Gaming
In the bag: Starting small
Picture this: Back in 1980, some snot-nosed punk (and ComputerLandretail employee) named Richard Garriott coded a little RPG for theApple II, which he called Akalabeth: World of Doom. Lacking the funds or theconnections to get it published in any sort of professional capacity, Garriotthand-copied a stack of labeled disks and instructions, stuck 'em all in plasticbaggies, and personally peddled them to software stores. That is, until wordof Akalabeth spread like wildfire and California Pacific Computer Companypicked up the publishing rights. Thus did Garriott's alter-ego, Lord British, riseto power.
Today, of course, the Ultima series that Akalabeth spawned spans over adozen critically acclaimed products. Garriott himself went on to become aworld-famous game designer; he currently owns his own castle in Texas, andhe's taken multiple trips into the Earth's orbit. In fact, we were unable to reachGarriott for comment as part of this feature since (as of this writing) he's overin Russia prepping for a trip to the International Space Station in October.Not bad for a career that started with a simple little game that came ina plastic bag.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Jam-packed: The Infocom years
Once upon a time, graphics weren'tsomething people took for granted.Infocom's text-only interactive fictionnever suffered for the lack of them,though few modern gamers can appreciateall those words, since we've become abunch of murder-happy rageaholics withthe attention spans of coked-up ferrets. Orso we're told.
But really, they weren't so minimal as allthat. Infocom titles came with a bizarrerange of pack-in doodads called "feelies."They ranged from the slightly silly, likethe 3D comic book and glasses of LeatherGoddesses of Phobos, to the absolutelynecessary, like the map and game piecesused to keep track of all your robots inSuspended. Again, these often doubled asa form of copy protection. Wishbringerincluded a sealed letter that matched theone you were tasked to deliver in the game.The game instructs you when to open it,but the contents were not disclosed withinthe game itself. Others were awesomely useless:Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy includeda set of black, nontransparent cardboard"Peril Sensitive Sunglasses." Cool, yes, butthese days it seems like a great length togo to for a joke. Less dramatic -- but equallyimpressive -- were all the uncompromisinglyin-universe pamphlets, ID cards, tourist brochures,and correspondence that doubled asgame manuals. The immersion they fosteredmakes playing without 'em feel like onlyabout half the experience.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Manual-o-rama: Serious games are serious business
If you think World of WarCraft-obsessed raiders get way too seriousabout their games, you've got it all wrong. Atone time, many games -- particularly flight simulators,hex-based historical war games, and godgames -- came packed with (or, as you can see fromthe illustration, in) entire binders bursting withmaps, grids, diagrams, procedural instructions, andother paraphernalia designed to help ensure youwere the best you possibly could be at pretendingto do whatever it is you were doing. Back then, if itdidn't have what amounted to a 200-page technicalmanual, it wasn't a real game.
The "read-along" game was a particularly annoyingtangent: Instead of displaying vital story elementsin the game itself, some older RPGs (SSI wasnotably guilty of this) would, at various points,insist that you follow along by reading a particularpassage of fiction from the included documentation.Thankfully, these strange, immersion-breakingmethods of copy protection are a thing of the past.But contemporary games like Falcon 4.0 and manyof AGEOD's boxed editions still include plenty ofthe beloved old-time bells and whistles.

[Click here to open slideshow]
Rock 'n' roll: EA's greatest hits
Thousands of years ago, Trip Hawkins and a fewothers broke away from Apple to form a newcompany that would become known as Electronic Arts;EA's first great innovation was its then-revolutionarypolicy of not treating their employees like crap.Standard practice at the time was to actually avoid givingcredit to game programmers to avoid head-hunting,and while other breakaways like Activision and Imagicmade progress in the area of not-being-jerks-to-designers,EA went even further.
The company likened its employees to rock stars, creditingtheir work and even going so far as to include their photographson packaging and magazine ads, all while giving thema generous share of the profits. This policy was reflected bythe company's name: Electronic Arts' developers were artists.This is most evident in the design of the game boxes themselves,which resembled vinyl LP sleeves. Graced with art thatranged from beautiful to just plain indescribably weird, eachpackage even went so far as to include interior gatefolds featuringarty black-and-white photos and profiles of the designers.Pretentious? Maybe, but unlike the Ion Storm developer-image debaclemore than a decade.
     1987-1993: The Golden Years


Code wheels of doom: Crazy copy protection
Software piracy breeds paranoia, and this was true evenway back when. Most disk-based copy protection provedeasily crackable and hence ineffective, so developers resortedto manual-based measures. In the most simplistic cases, a gamemight merely request a specific phrase from the instructions -- say, the second word from the fifth paragraph on the ninthpage. A few Sierra games got exceedingly weird; The Colonel'sBequest came with a foldout poster that had an infrared viewingwindow and demanded that you match a specified character tohis fingerprints (printed on the poster) before beginning play.King's Quest III -- one of the most outlandish examples -- forcedplayers to type entire passages from the documentation, wordfor word, error-free, on pain of a "game over" screen.
Conversely, the sharp minds at LucasArts often designedtheir copy-protection schemes around more logical and indepthpuzzles. The first two Monkey Island games had thoseinfernal phrase-matching code wheels, and Maniac Mansion'smechanism echoed the aforementioned infrared strip scheme.Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade famously came with awell-crafted mock Grail Diary pack-in designed to mimicthe movie's; Indy (and the player) follow clues throughoutthe game, matching descriptions of the elusive Holy Grail toaccounts laid out in the diary and eventually deducing thecorrect Grail during the game's final puzzle. Loom's Book ofPatterns took a similar tack, assisting players with puzzles overthe course of the entire game. Sometimes fun and occasionallyinfuriating (don't lose those manuals!), old-school copy protectionis (if you ask us) far preferable to today's StarForce- andSecuROM-powered "safety measures."

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Questing for goodies: Sierra sets a new standard
Oakhurst, California-based adventure-game titan Sierra On-Lineruled the lion's share of the PC-gaming market from the early 1980sinto the mid-1990s. From humble beginnings with 1979's Mystery House(which added then-revolutionary graphics to the traditional text-basedadventure) and through the company's meteoric rise by way ofnow-classicfranchises like King's Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Police Quest, Sierra always had a way with product delivery. As was commonfor this era, decorative box sleeves and unconventional pack-in literature(which, as with Infocom's games before them, typically doubled as documentationand copy protection) characterized the majority of Sierra's hits:Space Quest II's Space Piston comic, Police Quest's procedural guides andcity maps, the Quest for Glory games' Famous Adventurer's CorrespondenceSchool handbooks, and Leisure Suit Larry 5's Playspy men's-magazine spoofare just a few good examples.
And like EA, Sierra was one of the earliest companies to celebrify its topdesigners; the images of people like Roberta Williams, Al Lowe, Jane Jensen,Jim Walls, Scott Murphy, and Mark Crowe graced these game boxes, actingas both marketing bullet-points and seals of quality. Sierra's success in themid-1990s also brought about a subscription-based house magazine calledInterAction -- sort of a PC-gaming equivalent to Nintendo Power preachingto the company's devoted customer base. Alas, Sierra's "fun" way of productpresentation eventually died out over the back half of the 1990s in the nameof cheaper manufacturing costs. Yay, capitalism!

          1994-2000: Identity crisis!


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The Age of CD-ROM ...Is Upon Us!
The CD-ROMcraze took off inthe early 1990s, and bygolly, game publishersmade sure we knewabout it. Back then,when they weren'tshoving the new mediain our faces by teasingthe discs through clearwindows on the boxes(see photo), theywere inventing newbuzzwords to communicateexactly what sort of horsepower our PCs would needto boot these cutting-edge games. In the days before folkslearned how to read system requirements, software was ratedaccording to multimedia PC levels. An MPC1-compliant PC(16MHz CPU, 2MB RAM, 30MB hard drive, 256-color videocard,1x CD-ROM, 8-bit soundcard, and Windows 3.0) was sufficientto play games with an MPC1 designation, and so on. It lasteda whopping six years (making it all the way to MPC3) beforeeveryone stopped caring.

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Dorks and dragons: Cloth maps and action figures -- actually not that cool
Some games got just a little too dorky (you know, other than thenerdy war games that came stuffed with hex maps and battleplans). Though this isn't exclusive to a particular era in time, earlyMMOs like Ultima Online and EverQuest are particularly guilty, throwingin everything from painstakingly illustrated cloth maps to (inthe case of UO expansion Lord Blackthorn's Revenge) unpaintedaction-figure molds. Other than acting as stop signs for potentialromantic partners, these crazy props served no practicalpurpose (the maps often were notated in whatever crazysymbol-language their game world utilized). Remember theill-fated Ultima IX: Ascension? In addition to conforming tothe organization-defying box-design pitfalls outlined above,U9's gigantic container housed a cloth map, ye olde spellbookreplicas, a small deck of tarot cards, and a certificateof authenticity signed by series creator Richard "Lord British"Garriott himself. If that sort of collection doesn't get you labeled "Kingof the Hardcore Geeks" by everyone you know, we're not sure what will.

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Shape shifting: Why won't they just fit on the damn shelf?
The mid- to late 1990sfeatured a brief and --for game-store owners, atleast -- irritating flirtationwith irregular box shapes. Onone hand, having a triangular, trapezoidal,octagonal, or whatever the-hell shaped boxmight make yourgame stand out ona shelf. On the otherhand, eventually it'd bejust part of a growing nest ofcompeting angletangles. Better still,getting them on the shelf at all in a space-efficientway became a puzzle in itself. Theydidn?t just stand out -- they fell off. Take oddities likethe incomprehensible hyper-origami of the Marathon box:It looked cool, but it didn't stack or store well. The lamentablecondition of GFW's archive copy bears testament to this.     

     
2001-Present: Packaging Trends Take a Nosedive


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Collector's corner: Special (and not-so-special) editions
Every now and then, a publisher still goes balls-to-the-wall with itsmarquee games. Blizzard's big World of WarCraft collectors' boxesinclude mouse pads, behind-the-scenes DVDs, and heavy hardcover art books.And Civilization Chronicles -- a truly impressivelabor of love -- collects Sid Meier's entire Civseries in a sturdy case, including every expansion(updated for modern PCs), a book chroniclingthe series' history, and a DVD chock fullof interviews. But these kinds of deluxe treatmentsdon't happen very often -- most so-called"Collectors' Editions" really aren't. One recentexample: Sins of a Solar Empire's CE box touts atech-tree poster and a hotkey card. Huh?
MMO special editions are particularly prone tosuperfluousness. In-game bonus can't grant anundue advantage to a player, thus                   prevalence of useless but presumablyenvy-inspiringspecial-edition petsand cloaks. The othertypical inclusion is a gamesoundtrack; that would be a perkfor just about any game that isn't an MMO. A massivegame could possess the greatest musical score ever created inhuman history, but after 100 hours of killing boars, it's the last thingmost players want to hear when they're not playing.

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Mass market: Stick the disc in a sleeve and call it a day
Nowadays, you're lucky if the typical PC game comeswith anything more than a flimsy black-and-white manual,a couple of discs in paper sleeves, and a cheap cardboardpacking frame. In an era where just about every multi-million dollargame release puts a publisher's bottom line at risk,the only good corner is a cut corner. It's undoubtedly justthe nostalgia talking, but we shed a tear for the days whena few tchotchkes and a nice box were the rule rather thanthe exception. Nowadays, we just wind up paying an extra$20 for the "privilege"of owning a biggerpiece of cardboard anda flimsy book filledwith crappy conceptillustrations. And withdownload-on-demandservices like Steam fastbecoming stable PCgamingsuperstores,it can't be long until"bargain bin" becomessynonymous with"deluxe edition."
The future looms large
Posted by Editorial Team Mon May 05, 2008 6:55 pm
Cubans line up to buy their first legal PCs in General Discussion, including Off Topic, Current Affairs
Citizens of the communist-controlled country can for the first time be the proud legal owners of a computer.  More than a dozen prospective buyers were lined up Friday outside Havana's state-run Carlos III shopping center for a chance to buy the tower-style Qtech PC and CRT monitor for £395.37.

The PCs have an Intel Celeron processors with a 80GB hard drive and 512MB of RAM and running the Windows XP operating system. Equipment that would be laughable in a Western country.

The PCs will not be allowed connections to the Internet. Only trusted officials and state journalists are allowed access to the Internet.
Posted by William Tildesley Sun May 04, 2008 9:47 am
Asus Crossbow-proof screen in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
What’s unique is that this LCD seems like itreceived bullet-proofing (or something) with a 9H Hardness protection rating (isthis Mohs scale? That would be impressive!). This is done thanks to a glasssheet that covers the entire panel. The LCD panel itself is TN and in 4:3 ratio,but due to the glass pane, it weighs twice as much as a standard 20-inch LCD.Crossbow-proof, according to the Russian video. Read the reviewhere.
Boot Daily is doing a Gigabyte vs. Asus shootout in the X48 department. Acouple of years back you’d have called the winner without reading the article,but today it seems Gigabyte has something to be quite happy about (Gigabyte usedto have Asus build mobos for them some time ago, maybe that is still the case?).The Asus P5E3 Premium and Gigabyte GA-X48T-DQ6 bench it out, with Asus winningoverall performance and Gigabyte price/performance. Read the reviewhere.
While the world is looking onwards to Green Goblin’s next generation ofgraphics cards, AMD’s partners are making an effort to put out special ones thatcan trump Geforce, somehow. Visiontek sent off a new Radeon HD 3870 X2Overclocked Edition to Tech Spot, where Steven was waiting eagerly to put it tothe bench. He used Catalyst 8.4 64-bit in his endeavours, and the results werequite impressive. Just when you thought Nvidia had pinned down ATI, here comes acard that matches the GX2’s performance.Quiteimpressive.
Memory manufacturers are moving more and more into another area of expertise– due to the need to supply enough clean power to the system components(including their precious RAM). Just look at Mushkin, OCZ and Corsair. Well,Anandtech has a review on Corsair’s latest PSU, the HX1000W – the first toreceive Nvidia’s Triple-SLI rubber stamp. Efficient, powerful and not at allnoisy, seem to make the Corsair kit something of a catch, thinks Christopher.Read ithere.
French website Hardware.fr has reviewed Intel’s Q9300 and E7200, the two“budget” models of the Quad and Duo families, respectively. The tests revealsomewhat of a disappointment when it comes to the E7200’s overclockingpotential, but it still outperforms its predecessor the E4700, says Marc. TheQ9300 has a different issue altogether. It’s replacing the Q6600 but theperformance on the Q6600 is slightly higher and the price is cheaper. Maybe whenSSE4 comes into its own... Read the originalhere,orGoogleFranglais.
Abit’s AX78 is on the bench at CPU3D. It’s AMD770-based, matched up with aSB600 southbridge. CPU3D used an Athlon FX-62 for the tests and were prettysatisfied with the outcome. Sure, you still won’t be able to compete withIntel’s mainstream, but it looks like a very decent performer for a veryreasonable price, considering the board is packed to the rim with features.Catch ithere.
Posted by Editorial Team Thu May 01, 2008 5:37 pm
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