March 1, 2017

GDC 17: AMD Capsaicin & Cream Event Report

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards


AMD held their second annual gathering of developers and press focusing on the company’s line-up for the coming year. The processor manufacturer, console architect and videocard producer invited Broken Joysticks to the event and we had a front row seat for all of the major announcements. While Advanced Microdevices did a little bit of reflecting on the successes of 2016, this latest showcase was really about their upcoming line of AMD Vega GPUs, brand new partnerships with developers and to a lesser extent the imminent launch of the Ryzen processor.

Chief architect of the Radeon Technologies took the stage as the primary presenter during the hour long conference. He reflected upon the release of the Radeon 480 this past June and that the eventual launch of the AMD new RX VEGA line of graphics card will put them into direct competition with offerings from rival GPU maker Nvidia.


Virtual Reality was one of the primary focuses of AMD’s presentation with the photo-realistic characters of The Sword of Bahubali: A VR Experience wowing viewers both in the form of a pre-rendered concept trailer, an on stage presentation of the VR Experience running on a Ryzen + VEGA setup and the promise of a version that will be compatible with existing hardware to be released soon. The Bahubali VR Experience is still under development and it was briefly mentioned that the final product may require dual Radeon 480s just to be rendered in real-time on modern VR headsets.

During the development of AMD’s VEGA line of GPUs a large focus was placed on memory optimization. Using technologies like AMD’s High Bandwidth Cache Controller and New Geometry Pipeline developers can get the performance of today’s 4GB cards into as small of a footprint as 2GB. Smaller memory footprints will also allow VEGA to produce exceptional results even if a PC gamer has opted to skip the jump to the Ryzen line of processors.


Speaking of optimized performance, a number of on stage demonstrations touting the power of the upcoming Ryzen + VEGA combo utilizing several different AAA releases. Developers from Rebellion took to the stage with the recently released Sniper Elite 4 showcasing the game running at 4K on a single Radeon 480 and a dual Radeon 480 set-up on a Ryzen rig. With a single 480 Sniper Elite 4 is able to push a stable 30 FPS while at 4K while the dual setup was able to maintain a mind-blowing 60 frames per second using AMD’s current flagship GPU. It makes one wonder just what the VEGA line of cards could achieve with titles like Sniper Elite 4.

Returning to Virtual – Reality folks from Steam took the stage to discuss the fact that the development version of the Steam VR Tracker, which allows developers to introduce real world objects into a virtual environment will launch for $99 USD and will be supported by AMD’s crimson drivers. We also got a look at four world exclusive VR experience reveals utilizing AMD hardware including an updated version of ROM: Extraction, an on-stage side by side demonstration of ROBO Recall and the first look at Sprint Vector – a VR focused endless runner.

There was a lot to be excited about at AMD’s Capsaicin & Cream event yesterday – most notably the 4 VR experiences and demonstration of the VEGA graphics card line. While the demonstrations were certainly impressive and the promise of technologies like High Bandwidth Cache and Rapid Pack Math tantalizing, it would have nice to get some solid details on the pricing and general availability of RX VEGA – especially with Ryzen’s impending release just a few weeks away.


GDC 17: Hands-On With VR Sports & Front Defence

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Vive Studios will introduce three brand new entertainment experiences for the HTC Vive this spring for owners of the headset. During the first day of the Games Developer Conference I got the chance to sit down with Joel Breton to discuss the three new products – VR Sports, a collection of room scale enabled mini games. Make VR, a tool that helps bridge the gap between Virtual Reality and the real world by bringing support for 3D printers into the virtual space. Finally, Vive Studios also announced Front Defense, a World War II inspired shooter that uses Valve’s room scale technology.

The ten-minute demo of VR Sports and Front Defense that I tried at GDC was my first experience with room scale. Previously I had played Elite Dangerous in VR at E3 2016, set up my own sitting VR experience with motion controllers and played a few demos that used the Xbox 360 controller but this was my first time being able to move freely in the real world while strapped to a VR headset.

VR Sports is exactly what the title implies– table tennis using both room scale and the HTC Vive motion controllers. I was able to use one of the Vive wants to position the ball in front of me and smash it with the paddle in my other hand. It took me some time to adjust to the Vive wands and I found myself smashing the ball just a little hard, sending it flying out of bounds. After a few attempts and some coaching from the helpful HTC staff I was finally besting my computer controlled opponent. While the VR Sports demo at GDC17 was limited against an AI opponent the final game will also support online multiplayer against friends who also have HTC vive setups.

The second, and last, demo that the Vive team had on display was the tutorial level for Front Defence. In this World War II inspired first person shooter players have to fight off waves of enemy soldiers after learning the ropes against stationary cardboard targets. Front Defense gives provides players with a number of different tools of destruction to defeat their enemies – a standard machine gun is wielded in the right hand and reloading is performed by gripping the ammo clip with the left controller and then grabbing a replacement clip from your belt and inserting it into the gun. Rocket launchers also make use of a similar reloading mechanic where I had to reach down and grab a new projectile from an armored case on the ground and then insert it into the back of the rocket launcher. All of these movements added to the immersion and realism that you just don’t get when playing with a standard controller. It did take me some time to adjust to the idea of moving around a virtual space when using the HTC Vive but this is not a limitation of the platform and more getting used to not having to control my movements with an unnatural input device.

I’d like to thank Joel and the Vive Studios team for letting me go hands-on with their upcoming games. For my fist taste of room scale, the GDC demos showed me how impressive premium VR could be with technology as immersive as room scale. Make sure to watch my interview with Joel Breton in the embedded player below:


Monster Dating Game Soulless Wonder Hits Steam Greenlight

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Les Major

Soulless Wonder Title

Sister site Darkain Arts Gamers has released their very first game on Steam Greenlight and it’s a doozy! Lantz is a cursed bard who has to adventure out beyond his kingdom to try to convince monster girls to fall in love with him. Why? Because the Paladin Queen of the kingdom shattered his soul and it’s the only way to restore his spirit to his body!

Lantz can try to romance eight different characters ranging from a fox girl, zombie, slime girl, goblin, succubus, and even an eldritch horror inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft to name a few.

Inspired by companies like Telltale Games and NIS America, Soulless Wonder is a dating sim with meaningful choices to make and complex characters to get to know. Even more amazing, Rod Espinosa of The Courageous Princess fame is doing the artwork! He’s working for companies such as Marvel and Dark Horse comics in the past, as well as being nominated for both an Eisener and Ignatz award! The news just keeps getting better with composer Joel Steudler creating the music for the game. He’s best known for creating music packs with Degica for RPG Maker in recent years.

Show your support today and vote for Soulless Wonder:


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