‘Raw Data’ Heads To Oculus With New Content, Cross-Platform Multiplayer

The next update to Raw Data will include updated characters, a new map, and a larger player base for multiplayer. Thanks to the Oculus Touch controllers, Survios is bringing its active VR first-person shooter to the Rift platform.

Survios is a relatively new developer, but it quickly made waves when it popped onto the scene at VRLA in January 2016 with Raw Data, an action-packed first-person shooter. The game garnered a lot of attention, and the hype around it built to a fever pitch before it even launched. Raw Data hit Steam Early Access in July 2016, and by September the developer revealed that it hit a big milestone: Survios CEO Nathan Burba told Fast Company that Raw Data was the first VR title to generate $1 million in a month.

Survios achieved the million-dollar mark while supporting one platform (HTC’s Vive) and focusing primarily on creating an active VR game that made you get up and move. Until Oculus launched the Touch controllers, it wasn’t possible to bring Raw Data to the Rift. Now that Touch is on the market, and Oculus is taking its experimental tracking configurations seriously, Survios is embracing the platform.

Survios is bringing Raw Data to Oculus Home next month when it publishes Update 0.6 to Steam Early Access, and both versions of the game will be compatible with each other. Survios is committed to embracing cross-platform gameplay going forward.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Oculus player community to Raw Data,” said Survios chief creative officer James Iliff. “With VR still a young, niche industry, it’s crucial right now for the entire community to be united regardless of platform. We believe VR is ultimately going to be a platform-agnostic medium, and we’re showing our support for that shift with Raw Data’s new, cross-platform compatibility—and that’s just the beginning. We’re going to do everything we can to create content for the entire VR community.”

But the new update isn’t just about Rift support and embracing the wider VR community. Survios also adjusted two of the three player characters, Saija and Boss, in response to user feedback. They will get new abilities to adjust the balance of the game.

Update 0.6 also includes a new mission called “Cataclysm,” which sounds much more frightening than my experience with zombie-like robot torsos coming at me in the dark. The new mission puts you on an elevator descending into the depths of Eden Corp’s Data Chamber as you fend off waves of the corporation’s androids.

Survios didn’t give an exact release date for the next Raw Data update, but it said we could expect it in March. In the mean time, the developer is attending GDC and showing off cross-platform co-op at its booth. If you’re attending GDC, you can find the team at booth #944 in the South Hall.

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AMD Ryzen release date, news and features: everything you need to know

Ryzen has risen – sorry not sorry – at long last. AMD’s latest multi-core desktop processors were revealed recently during an event in San Francisco, and the first of many will soon be available to purchase.

The new chips promise to bring AMD into the high-performance sphere with Intel in a way that’s more affordable and is a marked improvement on its own previous generation of silicon.

Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about AMD Ryzen before the imminent launch later this week.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The latest in AMD’s highest-end desktop CPUs
  • When’s it out? The first of many release on March 2
  • What will it cost? Ryzen 7 series starts at $329 (about £260, AU$430)

AMD CEO Lisa Su showing off the new Ryzen 7 processor

AMD Ryzen release date

The first of what will likely be many Ryzen processors is available now for pre-order and will release on March 2. The chip comes in three varieties ranging in price and capability. 

However, AMD hasn’t yet revealed any other versions of the Ryzen processor other than the 7 series, designed to solely compete with Intel’s Core i7 series. If AMD wants to compete with Intel’s entire range, we’ll surely see more versions of the chip soon enough.

A render of what the Ryzen 7 boxes will look like

AMD Ryzen price

The Red Team, if you will, is again positioning the Ryzen 7 series against Intel’s Core i7 chips, but for far better prices. The Ryzen 7 1800x chip, for instance, will be available for $499 (about £400, AU$650). That’s less than half as much as Intel wants for its Core i7-6900K.

The Ryzen 7 1700x is marketed as AMD’s mid-range chip within this series, priced at $399 (about £320, AU$520), while the Ryzen 7 1700 (no “x”) will be available for $329 (about £260, AU$430).

As you can see, these are the top-end of AMD’s new chips, aimed at professional and serious enthusiast PC gamers.

An AMD Ryzen 7 CPU hard at work

AMD Ryzen specs

Ryzen was designed by AMD to perform well at high loads and be compatible with the latest hardware in PC gaming. To that end, the firm had to develop a new chipset for the processors, the X370 and X300, and a new socket, the AM4. 

Yes, that means you’ll need a new motherboard (and a newer OS than Windows 7) for your Ryzen CPU. Luckily, AMD Ryzen motherboards are already in the works for this very occasion. Here’s a list of the technologies that these motherboards will support:

  • Dual-channel DDR4 memory
  • NVMe
  • M.2 SATA devices
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2
  • PCIe 3.0 capability

Now, for the Ryzen processor architecture itself. AMD says that its goals with Ryzen were “maximum data throughput and instruction execution plus high bandwidth, low latency cache-memory support for optimal compute efficiency.” So, know that all Ryzen processors will enjoy these same traits: 

  • Two threads per core
  • 8MB shared L3 cache
  • ​Large, unified L2 cache
  • Micro-op cache
  • Two AES units for security
  • High efficiency FinFET transistors

Essentially, the Ryzen chips will be better at hyper threading across their eight (so far) cores, enabling more actions per clock than before. For more information on how the first Ryzen 7 chips perform, check out our initial news article.

Plus, we already witnessed an AMD Ryzen chip break a world record in benchmarks – albeit under extreme cooling. (Maybe that’s why Intel’s thought to be working on a 12-core beast of a chip.)

High-level capabilities aside, here are the highlights for each of the three new Ryzen 7 chips:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 1800x – 3.6GHz (up to 4GHz); octa-core; Extended Frequency Range (XFR) with better cooling; 95 Watt TDP
  • AMD Ryzen 7 1700x – 3.4GHz (up to 3.8GHz); octa-core; XFR; 95 Watt TDP
  • AMD Ryzen 7 1700 – 3GHz (up to 3.7GHz); octa-core; AMD Wraith Spire cooler; 65 Watt TDP

Stay tuned to this page for more of the latest Ryzen information as the launch approaches and goes down on March 2 and beyond.

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The best Macs to buy in 2017: Apple's top iMacs, MacBooks and more

Update: As we’ve recently refreshed our computing buying guide ranking methodology, we’ve rearranged our list in a new order that reflect not only the star rating of each of the best Macs, but their TechRadar award status as well.

Buying a new Mac isn’t as straightforward a decision as picking up the latest iPhone. Unlike with Apple’s mobile devices, Mac users tend to keep their systems up and running for years on end. With a wide variety of form factors and configurations to choose from, there’s a lot more to consider. Portability, power and design preferences are just a few on the shortlist.

While the Mac lineup is easily digestible, the options still feel endless. If you want a desktop, there’s the petite Mac mini, the all-in-one iMac and Mac Pro workstation to choose from. On the laptop front, you have the choice between the entry level MacBook Air, the 12-inch featherweight MacBook and the productivity-focused MacBook Pro.

Even if you gloss over the build-to-order options, there are dozens of possibilities ranging from $499 (about £325/AU$646) all the way up to $3,999 (about £2,610/AU$5,181). That said, every Mac – regardless of custom specs – ships with the latest Apple operating system, macOS Sierra, complete the now Touch Bar-supported GarageBand.

By no means should you buy a Mac on impulse. As you don’t want to be stuck with the wrong choice for the next five years, we’ve combed through every Apple logo-inscribed computer in order to help you find your perfect match. With two fingers on the trackpad, scroll with us as we dive in and find the best Mac for your needs.

27 inch iMac with 5K Retina display Best Mac 2016

1. 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

Apple’s biggest iMac puts everything on display

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M380 – R9 M395 (2GB) | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 27-inch Retina 5K (5,120 x 2,880) IPS | Storage: 25GB – 1TB PCIe Flash; 2TB – 3TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (H x W x D): 51.6cm x 65cm x 20.3cm

Core i7 costs extra
No Target Display Mode

If you want the big screen of an iMac with the precision of a Retina display then there’s only one iMac for you: the iMac with 5K Retina display. It comes with a choice of two quad-core Intel Core i5s at 3.3GHz and 3.5GHz respectively, a 1TB hard drive or Fusion Drive and it’s so pretty we want to marry it.

If you’re dropping more than a grand and a half on an iMac you might as well go the whole hog and get the faster, Fusion Drive-packing model, replete with a 5K Retina Display, 3.5GHz processor and Fusion Drive for £1,849 ($2,299).

For designers and video creators looking to make the move to ultra pixel-heavy content, the 5K iMac pairs an illustrious display with a heaping deal of screen real estate to boot. It may not have the expandability of a Mac Pro, but hey, at least you don’t have to worry about buying a separate monitor.

What’s next for the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display?

Apple is unlikely to change anything big on the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display in 2017, making way for other models—like the MacBook Pro—to get the limelight. Nevertheless, with Microsoft’s Surface Studio catering to artists and designers with a full-on touchscreen, the iMac is starting to feel like yesterday’s news. 

Read the full review: 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

21 5 inch iMac with 4K Retina display Best Mac 2016

2. 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display

A gorgeous 4K display on a compact all-in-one

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5; i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 21.5-inch UHD (4,096 x 2,304) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe Flash; 1TB HDD; 1TB – 2TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (H x W x D): 45cm x 52.8cm x 17.5cm

Fusion drive not standard
Chunky display bezel

If 27 inches is too much for you, Apple’s 21.5-inch 4K iMac is much smaller but bears an equally sharp display. It goes toe-to-toe with the 27-inch 5K iMac’s when it comes to pixel density, and it similarly supports the DCI P3 colour gamut allowing for accurate, vibrant colour.

The 4K iMac starts at £1,199 ($1,499) and can be upgraded with features such as a faster processor, more RAM and faster, more capacious storage.

It isn’t much more affordable than the entry-level 27-inch iMac once you’ve ramped up the configuration, so it’s worth bearing in mind whether spending the extra money would be worth getting hold of a larger display and much more powerful graphics capabilities.

If those aspects aren’t important, Apple’s smaller iMac is still a capable machine and features one of the best 4K screens around. And, if you don’t need an Ultra HD display, there’s a 1080p model as well.

What’s next for the 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina Display?

As with the 5K iMac, it’s highly unlikely that Apple will launch a new 4K model in 2017. Nevertheless, it will surely benefit from an upgrade to macOS Sierra 10.12 thanks to new features like Siri and Universal Clipboard.

Read the full review: 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display

best mac

3. 12-inch MacBook

Small, but perfectly formed

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch Retina (2,304 x 1,440) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 28.05cm x 19.65cm x 1.31cm


Apple’s 2015 MacBook refresh wasn’t for everyone and, despite being rosier and “goldier” than ever, that contention hasn’t changed with this year’s upgrade. While both models supplanted the MacBook Air as the lightest and smallest laptop, the extra portability came with compromises.

Most notably, Apple replaced the standard USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2 ports with the brand-new USB-C protocol. While it’s cool that a single cable can now handle both power and all sorts of data transfer, Mac users who are used to plugging in a variety of devices may find themselves frustrated picking through the various hubs and adapters required to complete even the most basic tasks.

There’s also the keyboard. When the PowerBook debuted in 1991, Apple caused a stir by pushing the keys closer to the screen to create a natural palm rest and room for a trackball. Apple has attempted to change the game once again with the new MacBook, this time by re-engineering every key to be thinner and far less springy to the touch.

It feels quite a bit different than any other laptop we’ve ever used, so we recommend trying one at an Apple Store before making a decision. If those two concerns (and the loss of the glowing Apple logo) aren’t an issue for you, the MacBook is pretty great.

Even though its 1.1GHz, 1.2GHz dual-core or 1.3GHz Intel Core M processor has nowhere near the power of the Pro or even the Air, the laptop is more than capable of running iMovie, Photos, and even Photoshop with ease, much thanks to the smooth-as-butter macOS Sierra.

It’s also easy on the eyes with a stunning design that’s available in silver, space gray, gold in addition to a new rose gold finish, and it comes jam-packed with the latest in portable technology, from the 2304×1440 retina display to the Force Touch trackpad. An affordable $1,299 (£1,049/AU$1,799) gets you 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an improved 10-hour battery.

What’s next for the 12-inch MacBook?

This year’s MacBook model was the tock to last year’s tick, meaning it didn’t get quite the performance boost it deserved. Even with the welcome touch of an elegant new color option, the MacBook could undoubtedly benefit from a set of full-on Core i processors. Check out our 12-inch MacBook release date, news and rumors article for all of the latest updates on potential upcoming models.

For now, though, Apple has the iPad Pro, which weighs 1.57 pounds and measures 6.9mm thick, for those who don’t want the power of a Mac, meaning that the MacBook needs to be more powerful to remain attractive.

Because it runs iOS, though, the iPad Pro isn’t compatible with certain apps, namely legacy programs designed for macOS, meaning that there is still a market for a laptop that can also be transported easily.

Apple also has to consider the MacBook Air, which has a 13-inch screen and is aimed at professionals who are on-the-go but need a powerful laptop.

Read the full review: 12-inch MacBook

15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina

4. MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)

Still the most capable MacBook there is

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; AMD Radeon Pro 450 – 455 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.4-inch Retina (2,880 x 1,800) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.49cm x 30.41cm x 21.24cm

Touch Bar smartly designed
Loads of USB-C ports
Touch Bar needs more app support
Direct light washes out Touch Bar

After an extensive wait period, we finally have the MacBook Pro overhaul we deserve. Complete with a thinner, sleeker design, a Space Gray color option and an OLED-backlit Touch Bar in place of the function keys, the late 2016 MacBook Pro isn’t quite the same notebook we’ve come to know and love. In due time, it may even be better.

While it’s pricier than what we’ve seen in the past, starting at $2,399 (about £1,970, AU$3,170), the revitalized MacBook Pro is still more affordable than the desktop tower that shares its surname. If you’re looking for more of a desktop replacement than a road companion, it’s definitely the way to go.

For almost $1,000 less, sure, you could treat yourself to the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, but then you’ll miss out on the Touch Bar as well as the added screen real estate. Plus, by default, the 15-inch MacBook Pro ships with an i7 processor and an AMD Radeon Pro 450 graphics processor – with four USB-C ports to boot.

There’s a lot to love about the 15-inch MacBook Pro, including 16GB of RAM, the option of up to 2TB of SSD storage space and a massive trackpad. Sure, you’ll be shelling out an extra wad of cash for this model, and the butterfly mechanism used in the keyboard isn’t exactly flawless, but it’s the best MacBook Pro money can buy, made better by cutting-edge tech. 

The USB-C ports, for instance, are Thunderbolt 3 compatible, meaning you can transfer up to 40Gbps with a compatible device. Plus, at long last, you can use the MacBook Pro in conjunction with up to two 5K monitors, making it a suitable iMac stand-in too. You can even use any one of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging since support for MagSafe adapters has finally been dropped. 

Stacked with either a 2.6GHz or 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and a Retina 2880 x 1800 display, the MacBook Pro is a screamer whether you’re editing videos in Final Cut Pro or making music with Garageband. 

Of course if you want the tricked out, built-to-order 2.9GHz MacBook Pro with all the specs maxed out, you can expect to pay – wait for it – $4,299 (about £3,540, AU$5,670). Ouch.

What’s next for the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

This year was all about playing catch-up to Microsoft’s Surface devices. While the MacBook Pro was the first laptop to get the Retina display in 2012, it’s continuing to cater to users who want a lot of power on-the-go. 

The Skylake processors featured in the latest MacBook Pros make it possible to power two 5K screens at once, and while that’s everything we could have ever wanted from the MacBook Pro, the added Touch Bar needs some work. 

Right now, it’s less of a superior alternative to touchscreens and more of a workaround to avoid adding touch support to macOS. Of course, this could all change given the proper support from app developers, but we’ll find out for certain over the next year.

Read our full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)

5. 13-inch MacBook Pro (Late 2016)

Thinner, faster and Space Gray-er than before

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 540 – 550 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.49cm x 30.41cm x 21.24cm

Alluring design
Vibrant display
Two USB-C ports forces compromise
Keyboard too shallow for some

About a year and a half out from its 2015 variant, the late 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro was well worth the wait, though it comes with a handful of prominent changes. While a high-end configuration introduces an OLED Touch Bar to the mix, a standard MacBook Pro still remains for the manageable cost of $1,499 (£1,449, AU$2,199).

Even without the Touch Bar, though, the late 2016 MacBook Pro is a sight for sore eyes. It resembles the featherlight 12-inch MacBook, thanks to its sleeker exterior design and the notable absence of that glowing bright Apple logo we’ve all come to know and love. The non-Touch Bar models are equipped with just two USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 ports.

For those who value the look and feel of traditional function keys to the (currently unproven) gimmicks of the Touch Bar, this is the model for you. Of course, all of your older accessories will most likely require adapters to be used with the MacBook Pro’s quirky new inputs. Not to mention the “butterfly” mechanism featured in the MacBook Pro keyboard isn’t for everyone.

Nevertheless, on the inside, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a full set of 6th-gen Intel Core i5 processors, which can be swapped out for an i7 chip if you order from Apple’s website. All of this is complemented by up to a whopping 1TB of PCIe-based SSD storage, up to 16GB of RAM and a vivid Retina display that only Apple can deliver. 

The MacBook Pro may be ill-equipped with a smaller range of ports this time around, but ultimately it’s the future-proof notebook we’ve been desperately craving to get Thunderbolt 3 on a roll.

What’s next for the 13-inch MacBook Pro?

Although the current MacBook Pro just came out not long ago, we’ve already begun to hear rumors develop about its successor. Next year, for instance, it’s been suggested that another hardware refresh is in the works and will sport up to 32GB of RAM in addition to a full-size OLED display

At the same time, Apple was a bit late to the game when it came to Skylake. The 6th-generation processors featured in the latest MacBook Pro lineup will assuredly be outpaced by Kaby Lake in the coming months. The new CPU chips from Intel are not only more powerful, but also more energy efficient than those which came before them.

Lastly, while we’d like to see a proper touch panel on the next round of MacBooks, Apple doesn’t exactly sound fond of the idea. Competing head-on with Microsoft’s Surface lineup, according to Phil Schiller, would fragment the macOS ecosystem even further. So while we shouldn’t expect a touchscreen MacBook Pro, Apple can’t hold back forever, right?

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016) 

13 inch MacBook Air Best Mac 2016

6. 13-inch MacBook Air

It’s now possible to grab big Air for less

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch HD (1,440 x 900) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm

Battery life
Nippy storage
Dated design

The MacBook Air is in an interesting spot. While it’s still one of the most popular and well-known notebooks around, the launch of the slimmer, lighter 12-inch Retina MacBook has stolen some of its thunder, and we have to assume one of two things: either a major update is in the works, or it will soon be made obsolete by an expanding MacBook line.

We wouldn’t recommend going for the 11-inch MacBook Air, which is well past its sell-by date, but the MacBook Air will still give you all-day battery life, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt ports and an SDXC card slot. Not that you should need all those ports once USB-C gains traction.

Even without a Retina display or Force Touch trackpad, the 13-inch MacBook Air is a very capable machine, complete with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB flash drive.

Either model can be found for less than a grand, and with identical specs, choosing between the two sizes comes down to preference, with just $100 separating the $899 (£749/AU$1,249) 11-inch version and the $999 (£849/AU$1,399) 13-inch one.

What’s next for the MacBook Air?

The MacBook Air, which launched in 2008 and was then updated in 2010, is in need of a refresh—and while rumours have long suggested Apple was going to give it one, it seems as though it’s being phased out completely

The Retina display, a branding term Apple gives to its highest-resolution displays, has not yet made it onto any of the Air models and the internals—which are currently made up of Intel’s Broadwell CPUs from 2014—undoubtedly need the Kaby Lake treatment.

The Air currently occupies an awkward, but necessary, spot in Apple’s lineup between the Pro—which is aimed at people who don’t need to use intensive applications like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro but do want to write or edit photos—and the MacBook, the less powerful option made for portability and longevity.

The Air is Apple’s best selling model, according to supply chain estimates, and continues to be the cheapest (and now only) way of getting a laptop with a glowing Apple logo on the back.

The company is evidently not obsessed with keeping it bang up-to-date. Notwithstanding, the 13-inch model is still available in its current state – albeit with double the RAM at 8GB – at the same entry-level cost.

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air

Mac mini Best Mac 2016

7. Mac mini

Apple’s most affordable Mac

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Storage: 500GB HDD; 256GB – 1TB PCIe Flash; 1TB – 2TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm

Impossible to upgrade
No monitor

The Mac Mini is Apple’s cheapest computer and has, for a long time, been its least powerful. Fortunately, Intel’s processor technology allows the desktop to be used for heavier tasks and Apple has brought the low-end model up to a decent specification.

The desktop is popular both because of its price—which undercuts the cheapest MacBook Air by $400—and its design, which is small, sleek, and simple.

The Mini comes in three variants: a $499 option with a dual-core i5 CPU, a spinning hard drive, and 4GB of RAM; a $699 option with a more powerful processor, an SSD, and 8GB of RAM; or a $999 model which is comparable to the iMac at the same price.

The top-of-the-line Mac mini bumps the processor up to 2.8GHz and adds a Fusion Drive in place of the 5400-rpm spinner, but at $999, we wouldn’t recommend it.

If you’re willing to spend over a thousand dollars on a desktop computer, you’ll be better served by moving up to an iMac. In the UK, the Mac mini runs from £399 to £799, while in Australia it starts at AU$699 and tops out at AU$1,399.

What’s next for the Mac mini?

The youngest Mac mini will celebrate its third birthday later this year, but Apple could be looking to update it so that its low-end users get a decent experience when running macOS, which became more graphically intense with macOS Sierra, the latest version.

A 2017 model would, while unlikely, include Intel’s Kaby Lake chips, yielding major performance improvements alongside other, newer internals, like faster and larger RAM and an SSD options for the low-end model.

Read the full review: Mac mini

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article 

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Improbable's SpatialOS Heads To Open Beta, Integrates Unreal Engine

Improbable announced at GDC 2017 that SpatialOS, a platform that makes it easier to build massive game worlds, will be available as an open beta starting March 2. The company also said that SpatialOS will soon integrate with the Unreal Engine–it’s currently limited to Unity–and revealed the first game development companies given subsidized access to the platform by Google Cloud as part of the new SpatialOS Games Innovation Program.

SpatialOS is all about game worlds. It allows developers to store information across multiple servers and game engines; to use various micro-services at the same time; and to support “a huge number of concurrent players across different devices” in one world. The platform keeps track of all this data and makes it available to all players. The desired result: massive game worlds that respond to player actions instead of feeling like static backgrounds.

Here’s what we wrote about MetaWorld, a VR social experience that uses SpatialOS, back in July 2016:

Improbable’s SpatialOS distributes the workload across hundreds, and even thousands, of cloud servers. The result is that everyone exists within the same world. MetaWorld doesn’t rely on instances or zones to limit the number of players connected to any given server. The entirety of MetaWorld exists on the same cluster of servers, which means you’ll never encounter a loading screen as you traverse the expansive world—and expansive it is.

HelloVR said that MetaWorld’s entire map covers nearly 10,000 square miles of traversable space. ‘There are no loading tricks or fake backdrops,’ said Herman Narula, Founder and CEO, Improbable. ‘If you can see it, you can travel to it – step by step if you want to.’

Improbable said “thousands of game developers” have signed up to use SpatialOS. The SpatialOS Games Innovation Program (SGIP?) was formed in partnership with Google Cloud to select a few companies that could benefit from the platform. The company said that the studios have “significantly reduced–in many cases completely eliminated–costs” associated with their use of SpatialOS thanks to the program. The devs and their games are…

  • Seed by Klang, a game of planetary settlement set in a shared, persistent world, created by a team including former senior CCP (Eve Online) employees.
  • Lazarus by Spilt Milk Studios – a multiplayer top-down 2D shooter set in a huge galaxy populated by artificially intelligent alien factions locked in a war for territory.
  • Chronicles of Elyria by Soulbound Studios – an MMORPG built with the Unreal engine, running on SpatialOS and set in a world where characters age, die, and shape their legacy through multiple lifetimes as different characters.
  • Vanishing Stars: Colony Wars by Ninpo Game Studio – a new type of massively multiplayer real-time strategy game, played across thousands of star systems, each with their own planets to battle on.

To make as big an impact as possible, though, SpatialOS will have to support more than just one game engine. So Improbable announced that it’s built an “experimental build” of the platform with support for the popular Unreal Engine. The company will use Dusk, a game it made with the Unreal Engine, to show off the integration’s possibilities at GDC 2017. It’s also asking game developers with Unreal Engine experience for their input on a project.

SpatialOS makes a lot of promises that many people have heard before. Online games have long claimed to offer massive, persistent worlds on which gamers can leave a lasting mark. The reality is much different: People are split between a couple different servers that are often wiped and which don’t respond to player actions in a noticeable way. Structures disappear, enemies rise from the dead, and everything is a server wipe away from oblivion.

Improbable chose a good name, then, given its ambitions. The company will host a number of talks during GDC 2017 to give developers a chance to learn more about SpatialOS; the company’s full schedule for the conference is available on its website.

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Porsche Design's Book One looks to outrace Microsoft's Surface Book

As with its cars, Porsche Design loved what it has created with its new Book One 2-in-1, made to challenge Microsoft’s Surface Book.

The 2-in-1 device is unique in that it is both a convertible and a detachable computer. The Book One can become a tablet by detaching the 13.3-inch screen or folding the screen 360 degrees onto the keyboard.

The folding functionality exists because of the hinge, which has been borrowed from the Porsche cars’ gearbox. The flexible folding and detaching mechanism gives the device a unique design that is hard to find in other 2-in-1s today. It’s likely other PC makers will try to come up with copycat designs.

Porsche Design has created a “new product category” with Book One, Roland Heiler, chief design officer for the Porsche Design Group, said at a press event at the fancy W Hotel in Barcelona. The press event was held on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress show going on this week.

“It would be boring if we just did a normal computer,” Heiler said.

And it should come as no surprise that this device is expensive, particularly with the name Porsche Design attached to it. It’ll be priced at around US $3,000. It will be available in April in 17 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, many Western European countries, the United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong.

The device is about 15.9 millimeters thick, and its two panels are equally sized. The device weighs about 1.58 kilograms, which is slightly heavy for 2-in-1s, and that’s because of the anodized aluminum that houses it.

The Book One offers about 14 hours of battery life, according to Porsche Design. It has two batteries, with a 25-watt battery in the tablet unit and a 45-watt battery in the keyboard base. The charging time is about two hours.

Speedlink Releases Nintendo Switch Chargers, Screen Protectors, And More

Nintendo wants its upcoming Switch console to be used everywhere. Want to connect it to a TV and use it like a normal console? Go for it! Have a hankerin’ for some Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the go? That’s why it also works as a handheld device. The only problem is that portability doesn’t come without risks–which is where Speedlink and the various Switch accessories it’s releasing alongside the console are supposed to come in.

Carrying a device like the Switch around introduces two concerns: keeping it safe and making sure it doesn’t lose its charge. Speedlink plans to address both problems with its accessories, which includes the Glance Screen Protection Kit with a bundled cleaning cloth and squegee for hard-to-reach spots.

Those tools will be available in two bundles. The first is a four-piece that includes a screen protector with squegee; a screen-cleaning cloth; silicone analog stick caps; and a “rugged carry case” that can hold up to four of the Switch’s itty-bitty game cards. The second is a seven-piece bundle with…

  • Screen protector with squeegee
  • 2 x sets of silicone analog-stick caps
  • Rugged carry case for four game cards
  • High-quality screen-cleaning cloth
  • Charging cable for any USB port (3m)
  • In-ear headphones with 3.5mm jack for great stereo sound

Either bundle–or just the screen protectors themselves–might appeal to Switch owners worried about scratching up the console. Nintendo’s products are durable (the original NES controllers were nigh indestructible) but carrying around a 6.2″ tablet with detachable controllers is brand new territory.

Switch owners might also worry about the console’s battery running out in the middle of a play session. Nobody wants Link to be killed by some Bokoblins in Breath of the Wild simply because they forgot to charge the Switch before hopping on a plane or heading to a nearby café or something.

Speedlink tried to address those concerns with the Rod USB Car Adapter, which will charge the Switch via a vehicle’s 12V socket, and the Stream Play & Charge USB Charging Cable that allows for simultaneous charging and gaming. Both could make it easier to keep the Switch’s battery topped off.

That problem might be a bigger deal than some people think. Nintendo said in the console’s spec sheet that battery life in handheld mode depends on the game that’s being played. Breath of the Wild, for instance, can be played for “roughly three hours on a single charge.” Given that the Switch’s battery can’t be removed, gamers will have to find creative ways to make sure they can play the Switch’s flagship launch title for more than a few hours.

Speedlink isn’t the only company getting into the Switch accessory game a little early. Snakebyte did the same in January. As we reported at the time:

The company announced two accessories–a foldable headset with 40mm drivers that’s meant to provide decent sound quality while using Switch as a handheld device, and a “starter kit” filled with accessories. That bundle includes game cases, a screen protector, stereo earbuds, a cleaning cloth, control caps, and a carry bag to “allow for an enhanced gaming experience” and protect the device.

The Switch will make its debut on March 3. Pre-orders have been sold out at various retailers for months, but GameStop said that it will have a limited supply available to walk-in customers, provided they make it to one of the company’s midnight launch events. Speedlink said the accessories will be available from Amazon and “retail stores” by the end of February but didn’t say how much they’ll cost. (A quick Amazon search didn’t turn up anything.)

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HTC Offers Vive Financing, Expands Availability To 9 More Countries

HTC’s announced a new monthly financing plan for the Vive system and said that it will sell the device in nine more regions this Spring.

Cost is the biggest factor preventing many people from adopting high-end VR. But for others, the problem isn’t money so much as it’s the fact that in many places, they simply cannot buy a Vive system. HTC’s trying to solve both of those problems with these announcements.

In North America and China, the company is now offering financing options to let prospective Vive owners spread out the system’s cost. North American customers can choose 6-month or 12-month 0% financing or 24-month financing at 7.99%. The financing plans split the purchase into monthly payments of $138, $66.58, and $40.13 per month, respectively, all of which are easier to stomach than a one-time payment of roughly $800.

Chinese customers get different financing terms to choose from, including a ¥2,296 per month 3-month term, a ¥1,148 per month six-month term, and a ¥574 per month 12-month term. All three options are offered at 0% financing. HTC said that select European retailers would soon offer similar financing programs but didn’t offer a specific timeframe. Vive purchases can be financed through Vive.com in North America and JD.com in China.

HTC is also increasing the scope of the Vive’s distribution channels. Starting today, the company will accept orders from customers in Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cypress, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The first shipments to these nine new regions will begin on March 1.

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