Get to know our new editor Wes Fenlon (read his first report, too, on how net neutrality affects PC gamers) this week as he joins us to chat about CES, Steam Machines, our hands-on with the new Oculus prototype, as well as The Banner Saga, DayZ, and Broken Age.
Why order pizza when you could have PC Gamer Podcast 368 - Legendary Eagle Chalupa?
It's safe to say that Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey was exhausted when we sat down at last week's International CES to chat. He'd been in town for eight days, talking to the press and showing the newest Oculus Rift prototype, dubbed "Crystal Cove." The newest headset uses 360 degree positional tracking and low persistence motion blur tech to essentially keep wimps like me from vomiting during use. But even though he was wiped, Luckey still took a few moments to talk to me about the promise of VR for videogames and beyond, the rumors of John Carmack making an Oculus Rift game, and his thoughts PC gaming moving to the living room.
New independent studio Oxide Games wants to reshape the way strategy games are built. The five-man team—mostly ex-Civilization V developers—is building a new 64-bit 3D engine called Nitrous, with a focus on adding some technical muscle to new turn-based and real-time strategy games. The aim, according to the studio, is to help developers add massive scope to upcoming games.
That's me, leaning forward in the cockpit during my Oculus Rift demo of EVE: Valkyrie this morning. I'm reading the words printed on a screen to the left side of my cockpit, as my fighter sits in the launch bay. The words were blurred as I reclined in the char, but came into sharp focus as I got closer.
But there's something else, something more subtle happening in that photo: I'm amazed that I haven't thrown up.
With all the excitement surrounding Steam Machines this year, it’s easy to forget about the controversal "Steam Box" from last year's CES. As a reminder, in January 2013, Xi3 unveiled its Piston console, along with the news that the company had received an initial investment from Valve, indicating the Piston’s position as a Steam Machine. However, in March, Valve announced that it claimed no involvement with Xi3, sending ripples of confusion and drama throughout the industry.
The Oculus Rift has been making waves in PC gaming for a while, but mostly absent from the buzz has been the company behind Oculus, Oculus VR. Apparently they’ve been saving up all that excitement for this year’s CES, where they unveiled a new prototype, the Crystal Cove. Our friends at Tested got to have a long hands-on with the new prototype, and I’m not even a tiny bit bitter or jealous about that. At all.
Buying a Steam Machine right now—if they were available—would be a curious decision. You'd have an attractive, compact gaming PC meant to go under your TV—a good thing, but pricey—with a Steam-modded version of Linux that you'd be best off uninstalling. SteamOS might be better-designed than Windows for your TV, but a GTX 780 is a bit overkill for the small portion of Steam's library that runs natively on Linux. That's Valve's challenge, and expanding Steam's native Linux library is its priority, says Product Designer Greg Coomer, who spoke with PC Gamer at CES 2014 today.
At Monday's Steam Machine press event for CES 2014, Valve's Gabe Newell made an off-hand comment during his ever-so-brief Q&A section that, while the company is responsible for producing Steam Controllers, other companies may make them as well. It was a surprising statement—it's long been assumed that Valve would use its control of the Steam Controller design to help steer the direction of the 14 Steam Machines created by various hardware manufacturers. After all, you can't call yourself a Steam Machine without including the gamepad and its owl-like dual trackpad design.
Monday night at CES in Las Vegas, Valve unveiled the third-party Steam Machines currently under development. A few names on the list were well-known: Alienware, Origin PC, Digital Storm. But one of the lesser-known developers, Zotac USA, boasts a unique quality among its competition. “We were the first company to start working with Valve [on a Steam Machine],” Zotac’s Kevin Wang reveals. “Originally it was not going to be multi-partner, but Valve went that direction.”
Written by Jonathan Deesing
Tuesday at the International CES, Razer unveiled Project Christine—its newest product aimed at creating a fully modular high-end gaming PC. At first glance, it hardly looks like a PC at all, but each of its strange modular spokes is a computer component.A thermal cooling tower forms a backbone, which has a number of modules that snap in and out. The modules—roughly the size of a paperback book—represent various components of a computer such as its GPU or CPU.
The Oculus Rift does a neat job of putting your head inside a game, but what about the rest of your body? YEI Technology’s first stab at Kickstarting their PrioVR mo-cap suit fell short, gathering 49% of its $225K goal, but with the first consumer-ready prototypes being shown off at a packed CES preview event YEI are gearing up to start a new funding drive on Valentine’s Day.
We’re in the midst of CES 2014’s gadget and computer hardware information avalanche and it’s starting to get a little difficult to separate the exciting announcements from the announcements we’ll forget about before the show’s over. For example, how do you feel about Razer’s announcement of Project Christine, a modular gaming PC? I mean, look at it. That doesn’t look like any PC I’ve ever seen. Where's the dust-clogged exhaust fans, the fire-hazardous tangle of cables, and the unsightly, space-inefficient case?
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Valve's Steam Machines are king. The Half-Life developer and Steam creator held a press conference that that everyone wanted to attend, but flipped the script when it devoted the majority of the event to its hardware partners. But even though Gabe Newell gave the briefest of briefs, some Valve-only content was still available: The company's press area included six Steam Machine prototype stations, giving the press a chance to try some popular games with the fabled Steam Controller.
Valve may have decided to go it alone when it comes to manufacturing Steam controllers, but the company’s getting a little help in pushing out the box itself. Valve’s Greg Coomer told IGN that we’ll know which companies will construct Valve’s fleet of Steam Machines sometime during CES 2014, which runs from Jan. 7-10, 2014.