Category Archives: Gaming

Eve Crowd-Develops the Spectrum Gaming Monitor



Eve have announced their new crowd-developed gaming monitor, the Eve Spectrum. It’s a stylish 27″ affair coming in three slightly different models with varying resolutions, refresh rates and brightness levels. Behind the Spectrum is the team that produced the successful Eve V 2-in-1 Windows portable device which broke Indiegogo records on launch.

Using their previous experience of developing the V, Eve have tapped into the gaming community and asked gamers what they want from a gaming monitor. Several thousand of them responded, providing a spec list that should satisfy enough gaming fans to make them put down a deposit pronto.

The Spectrum models use LG IPS panels for the screens but they come in three different configurations.

  1. 144 Hz refresh, 2560×1440 resolution, HDR400
    and 450 nits peak brightness.
  2. 240 Hz refresh, 2560×1440 resolution, HDR600
    and 750 nits peak brightness
  3. 144 Hz refresh, 3840×2160 resolution, HDR600
    and 750 nits peak brightness

All the screens have 1 ms response times and 98% DC-IP3 colour gamut. The screens rotate between landscape and portrait orientations. Full specs are here.

In addition to the glass, the Spectrum monitor double-up as communications hub with a plethora of ports, including two one HDMI, two DisplayPort sockets, two USB C ports (one with video), three USB Type A ports, a USB-B port for data back to the PC and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

People might recall that the original Eve V was a highly successful Indiegogo launch, raising 1300% of its target in just four days, setting a European crowdfunding record on the platform. As is often the case with such oversubscription, Eve did struggle to deliver but got there in the end offering a decent Surface Pro competitor.

This time, rather than going down the traditional crowdfunding route, Eve are using pre-orders, with a deposit of $100 securing a Spectrum monitor with the balance required once the unit is ready to ship. Deliveries are expected in Q3/Q4 2020.

The models will start at US$349, US$489 and US$589 (with the same pricing in euros) for the first 500 units. After that, prices will increase “corresponding to the ordered quantity”. Following Apple’s lead, the stand is extra but at a much more reasonable price of $99. As I write, I note that some prices have gone up already so get in quick!


Zynga Data Breach Affects 200 Million Android and iOS Gamers



Hacker News has reported that a hacker has claimed to have breached the mobile game company Zynga, Inc. Earlier this year, the same hacker reportedly sold almost a billion user records stolen from approximately 45 popular online services.

According to Hacker News, the hacker managed to breach the Words With Friends game, which has a database of more than 218 million users. Zynga posted a Player Security Announcement about this on September 12, 2019. It doesn’t say very much.

Cyber attacks are one of the unfortunate realities of doing business today. We recently discovered that certain player account information may have been illegally accessed by outside hackers. An investigation was commenced, leading third-party forensics firms were retained to assist, and we have contacted law enforcement.

While the investigation is ongoing, we do not believe any financial information was accessed. However, we have identified account login information for certain players of Draw Something and Words With Friends that may have been accessed. As a precaution, we have taken steps to protect these users’ accounts from invalid logins. We plan to further notify players as the investigation proceeds.

Forbes reported that the Zynga breach affects all players on both Android and iOS platforms who installed and signed up to play Words With Friends before September 3, 2019. Forbes points out that the hacker told Hacker News that data belonging to Draw Something, and from a discontinued game called OMGPOP, was also accessed.

What Zynga data has potentially been compromised? It may include: names, email addresses, login IDs, hashed passwords, password reset tokens if one had ever been requested, phone numbers where provided, Facebook IDs if connected to the social media platform, and Zynga account IDs.

Personally, I have never understood why someone would decided to breach Zynga (or any other gaming company) for the purpose of stealing data. The hacker must be aware that what they are doing is illegal. There is always the potential that hacker will be caught have will have to face legal consequences.


Minecraft’s Super Duper Graphics Pack has been Cancelled



Mojang announced that they are ceasing development of Minecraft’s Super Duper Graphics Pack. The upgraded graphics pack was first announced during E3 of 2017.

Super Duper was an ambitious initiative that brought a new look to Minecraft but, unfortunately, the pack proved too technically demanding to implement as planned.

We realize this is disappointing to some of you – there was a lot of enthusiasm for Super Duper from inside and outside the studio – but unfortunately, we aren’t happy with how the pack performed across devices. For this reason, we are stopping development on the pack and looking into other ways for you to experience Minecraft with a new look.

Ars Technica reported that the E3 of 2017 announcement included an incredible trailer that showed Minecraft in a dynamic shadow-and-light model, with screen-space reflections, material-based lighting, and more. It was described as a “pack”, meaning it would leave Minecraft’s raw assets untouched.

It was going to run in 4K resolution on supported hardware, and a free launch was promised by fall of 2017. Clearly, that didn’t happen.

Fans of Minecraft have been waiting for the Super Duper Graphics Pack since 2017. There are bound to be people who are deeply disappointed that it isn’t being released.

The decision to cease development of the pack is probably a good idea, considering that Mojang was not happy with how it preformed “across devices”. The worst thing they could have done would be to release it only to have it not work as promised.


Ninja will Stream Exclusively on Mixer



Tyler Blevins – known as “Ninja” – has left Twitch in favor of Mixer. The announcement was made in a clever (and delightfully cheesy) video that was posted on Ninja’s Twitter account. Ninja was one of Twitch’s biggest streamers.

A press release on Bloomberg provides more details: Gaming superstar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins announced he is teaming up with Microsoft’s interactive live streaming service, Mixer, to stream panels and games exclusively at Mixer. Ninja will kick off his first Mixer stream during Lollapalooza 2019, from August 2 through August 4, at Ninja’s Dojo inside the Red Bull Outpost.

“I never would have thought that I could build a career by doing what I love, and I am extremely grateful for the incredible experiences that I have had. As I look at the next step in my career, achieving bigger goals in the gaming industry with Mixer will allow me to have the perfect balance of opportunities and success. My roots as a gamer started with Halo, so working with Microsoft and coming over to Mixer felt like a natural next step. Capturing all the great moments in gaming and sharing the wins (and losses) with a positive, community-focused environment that we can all be proud of – that’s why I’m here”, said Ninja.

The Verge reported that Mixer is owned by Microsoft. It was originally launched as Beam back in 2016, and was rebranded as Mixer in 2017.

The Verge also reported a statement from Mixer: “We’re thrilled to welcome Ninja and his community to Mixer. Mixer is a place that was formed around being positive and welcoming from day one, and we look forward to the energy Ninja and his community will bring.”

It is definitely an interesting move for Ninja, who has built up a huge following on Twitch. I think that many of his fans will go over to Mixer to watch him stream. Of course, there will be people who complain about his decision. I cannot confirm this, but I suspect that perhaps Mixer is giving Ninja a better financial deal than Twitch did.


Pluribus AI Bot Beat Pros in Six-Player Poker



Pluribus is the first AI bot capable of beating human experts in six-player no-limit Hold’em, the most widely played poker format in the world. It makes me think of AlphaZero, an AI system that taught itself how to master chess, shogi, and Go. AlphaZero was created by DeepMind.

Pluribus is a new AI bot that was created in a collaboration between Facebook and Carnegie Mellon University. In recent years, new AI methods have been able to beat top humans in poker if there is only one opponent. But developing an AI system capable of defeating elite players in full-scale poker with multiple opponents at the table was widely recognized as the key remaining milestone.

Pluribus has defeated pro poker players in both a “five AIs + one human player” format and a “one AI + five human players” format.

If each chip was worth a dollar, Pluribus would have won an average of about $5 per hand and would have made about $1,000/hour playing against five human players. These results are considered a decisive margin of victory by poker professionals.

There is a lot of detail in the Facebook post about Pluribus, including the AI bot’s blueprint strategy and information about how it stacked up against humans in the poker games. The post also includes some comments from the human professional poker players who share their thoughts about playing against Pluribus.

It has been said that robots are coming to take our jobs. In some industries, they already have pushed out the human workers. Should we now start to worry that robots may someday replace humans players in games? I suppose it might be possible that, in the future, AI bots will have replaced all the humans on eSports teams. That might be fun to watch once, but I think it would get really boring after that.


Microsoft Introduced Project Scarlett



Microsoft introduced Project Scarlett at the Xbox E3 2019 Briefing. It is for players who want a console designed, built, and optimized for gaming. Project Scarlett is arriving Holiday 2020.

Project Scarlett will set a new bar for console power, speed and performance, arriving Holiday 2020 alongside Halo Infinite. With a custom-designed AMD processor, high bandwidth GDDR6 memory, and a next generation solid state drive (SSD), Project Scarlett will give developers the power they need to bring their creative visions to life. Thousands of games across four console generations will look and play best on Project Scarlett.

A video about Project Scarlett provides some more details. There is mention of reduced load times, where the game stops and players have to wait around for the next part to load. Microsoft’s goal with gaming is to not have those pauses.

Project Scarlett has a custom designed processor that leverages the latest Zen 2 and Navi technology from their partners at AMD. It makes processing four times more powerful than the Xbox One X. It also leverages high bandwidth GDDR 6 to ensure the best performance possible.

In the video, there is mention of giving gamers the option to connect across devices and across platforms in a way that Xbox was never able to do before. Your games, your achievements, your progression, your accessories – your console experience with Xbox all comes forward with Scarlett.

It sounds like Project Scarlett and Google’s Stadia will compete against each other for the attention of gamers. Both are being released at roughly the same time, during the holiday season. Scarlett has the advantage of already having a dedicated player base who currently play on Xbox consoles.


Google Announced First Collection of Stadia Games



Google announced the first collection of game that are coming to Stadia, the company’s game platform. A limited number of Stadia Founder’s Edition are available for preorder at the Google Store.

Those that buy Stadia will have the ability to play games across multiple screens. People who have a 4K TV and Stadia Pro will get up to 4K HDR resolution at 60 frames per second with 5.1 surround sound. Coming in 2020, Stadia Base is how you will play games you purchase in up to 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second without an active subscription to Stadia Pro.

The Stadia Founder’s Edition is priced at $129. It will ship in November of 2019 in U.S., Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. Google is working to expand to additional countries in 2020.

The Stadia Founder’s Edition includes:

  • Three-months of Stadia Pro
  • A three-month Buddy pass
  • A Founder’s badge
  • A Chromecast Ultra
  • A limited-edition Night Blue Stadia Controller
  • Dibs on selecting a Stadia Name
  • A Google Chromecast Ultra for streaming to your TV

Stadia will include free content, as well as discounts on titles you buy. The first free title is Destiny 2, and it comes with the base game, all previous add-ons, the upcoming Shadowkeep expansion and the annual pass. After your three-month subscription ends, Stadia Pro is $9.99 per month.

You can purchase an extra controller for multiplayer games, or for your laptop. Controllers come in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White or Wasabi. Each costs $69.99.

One of the things that I like about Stadia is that it lets you play games without a console. It also doesn’t make players wait for game downloads. It is intended to be a “jump right in” and play kind of situation.

Additional games are available for purchase, including titles like DOOM Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Tomb Raider Trilogy, The Elder Scrolls Online, Baldur’s Gate 3, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Farming Simulator 19, and Final Fantasy XV. Right now, it is unclear what each of these games will cost. The interesting thing is that people will buy the games – not rent them.