Tag Archives: Gaming

3 Self-Hosted VoIP Applications You Might Not Have Heard Of…Unless You’re a Gamer

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If you’ve seen the 2008 movie WarGames: The Dead Code, you would probably remember how the protagonist of the movie plays multiplayer games with his friend, while simultaneously talking to him online using something that most of us refer to as voice chat. (Note!: I’m not encouraging you to watch that movie! It was a flop. If you really have to check out the story, watch the original WarGames, released in 1983. Classic!)

So, the point is not about gaming here. It’s about the talk. We’re gonna talk about VoIP.

If you’re an average user, who uses the internet everyday you must have heard of, and even used some of the popular VoIP applications in the market such as Skype, Fring on mobile devices and Google Voice. The thing about most of these services is that they are run by third party companies, they limit the number of people that can talk simultaneously aka voice conference and/or they are slow. Apart from these services, however, there are quite a few VoIP applications that are better, let practically any number of people to talk without any additional cost and provide various quality options albeit at a little cost. Cost of running a server.

Gamers who engage in multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft etc, often play in groups, called clans. These clans coordinate their gameplay through such VoIP applications. To put things in perspective, if you need ammo, you just say, Hey Captain, I need ammoand then captain says Already on it’s way soldier!. These clans host or get someone to host servers for these VoIP applications so that they can continue their action in full throttle.

Today, I’m gonna talk about three applications that you can use for this purpose and much more. Their basic idea is that you first install the software on your server, then anyone who needs to join the talk can download the desktop client and connect to the server. On the desktop client, the experience is like IRC, or any other group chat where you can text and speak.

TeamSpeak

screen_ts3_main_macTeamSpeak is one of the oldest contestants in this category. Available at teamspeak.com, Teamspeak is multiplatform for both the server and desktop clients. VoIP applications when compared, are graded on the base of quality of sound, codecs used, inbuilt noise cancellation capabilities and latency (the time taken for voice to travel through the interwebs to the desired listeners lower is better). The latest TeamSpeak, version 3, improves on all of these and more. In case of TeamSpeak, the codec used is Speex A free, patent/free audio codec. Also, on TeamSpeak 3, is the ability to join more than one servers using tabs something like IRC.

However, TeamSpeak itself isn’t open source. It’s proprietary and comes with a license and licensing cost.

If you’re going to use it for a not-for-profit activity, Teamspeak is free and allows 32 people (or slots) on it. If you register the application and apply for a license (which is also free, as long as you’re doing not-for-profit), the server can house 512 people at a time. The other licenses, such as those for Commercial organizations, need to be registered and the license cost can be anywhere from $25 to $500 yearly depending on how many people are going to use it.

So, if you just need it for talking to a group at college or school, you’re gonna get it free. But then you’d have to host it on some server, either yours or some one else’s. If you can’t or don’t want to set up your own server for it, you can buy specific TeamSpeak hosting from various service providers such as InstantTeamSpeak, TeamSpeakHost and GameServers which begin at around $3 monthly.

Ventrilo

ssmac300_1Ventrilo is another old-school application for gamers, launched about 8 years ago. Commonly referred to as Vent, it is known for its low latency and low cpu usage. Also, Ventrilo uses not one but several codecs such as Speex and GSM and you can customize what quality sound you want in and out, depending on your connection speed.

The server software for Ventrilo is cross platform, however, no Linux client is current available for the desktop.

Like TeamSpeak, Ventrilo is proprietary software. It provides two licenses. Public and Pro. The Public license is free, however, I can’t confirm if there’s a limit to the number of people that can connect to a server when it runs on a public license, but some sources say it’s 8 users.

Also, most people around it’s community say that acquiring a Pro license is very difficult, not because it has requirements such as a minimum 1000 slot count, which should continuously increase, but because Ventrilo is just not giving Pro licenses. So the only option left is setting up our own server with the Public version which is free, or buying hosting with a reseller that already has a license.

Popular resellers include GameServers, NationVoice and InstantVentrilo, the cost for which goes around $3 monthly.

Mumble

Mumble is the last of this list, and arguably my favorite of all. Point one: It’s open source. Point two: It’s free. Point three: No licensing cost. Point four: No limitation on number of users who can connect. Point five: Very low latency. greenshot_2010-10-09_01-33-51

Mumble uses the Speex codec and the audio quality sounded heaps better than Skype. Also, there is no echo, and Mumble does noise cancellation on the fly. The latency is so low, it’s almost telephone-like. It’s like you’re talking to someone in the same room as you.

Since there are no licensing cost and the application for both server and desktop is free as is, hosting Mumble on your own server won’t cost you anything in the form of licensing, even if you host for your entire school or college. However, the limitations come down to how powerful your server is. Similarly, if you plan to buy hosting for Mumble from a third-party, the cost of it will be considerably lower than the other two counterparts mentioned above, but you’ll be limited by the number of slots or connections. You can choose your hosting plan accordingly.

Another plus point for Mumble is that it can be used for podcasting and general interviews. The upcoming (currently in beta) version of Mumble’s server side app (it’s actually called Murmur the server app, but I prefer to keep it simple) will support recording. Although recording   has nothing to do with the server, it’s the desktop client’s capability, but the developers of Mumble are designing the record feature in such a way that whenever someone starts to record, all the participants of the talk are alerted. This needs the server’s connection. So podcasters, wait a few weeks until Mumble desktop/client 1.2.3 is   released, and then you’d have the option of selecting a competent alternative to Skype that gives better quality recordings!

Hosting your own Mumble presents no limits, however, third-party hosts such as MumbleSlots, VoipServers, GameServers and Sabrienix will limit your usage by slots, that is, they will limit how many people can talk at a time. For example, I got a 10 slot package from Mumbleslots. It usually costs $15 yearly. But they had this offer going on which gave me a flat 50% discount (the offer is still on). So in short, I got an account where 10 people can simultaneously voice chat, for $7 a year and the quality is badass! Literally. Nevertheless, I got it because I wanted the record feature. Native record feature for Interviews for the win!

If you’re interested in trying Mumble out, you can connect to my server and chat up with whoever is there (I may not be present at all times). Just install Mumble and then click this link: Connect to Keshav’s Mumble server Login using a username of your choice.

All these applications were inherently developed for gamers, however, these are just software and technology that you can use with anything you find it suitable for. For example, organizations can host these on their intranet and then everybody in the office building can talk in different channels or rooms for different departments. And yes, these applications support password protected channels, so nobody will be able to peek into the conversations of the HR department!

Happy talking.

Image Credit: jayraz

Buy/Pre-Order Microsoft Kinect For $149

Microsoft will be shipping their gaming accessory called Microsoft Kinect on November 2. Microsoft Kinect is a new XBox add-on which will bring motion sensor gaming to Microsoft’s gaming device.

Microsoft-Kinect

If you are keen to know more about Microsoft Kinect, read our earlier post about What Microsoft Kinect is, Details and more. However, if you have already and are looking to get your hands on the device,   you will have to wait until November 2nd. However, you can start pre-ordering the Kinect bundle for Xbox or also pre-order the Xbox 360 with Kinect bundle.

Amazon is selling both the standalone Kinect bundle and Xbox 360 with Kinect bundle on their site, you can use the links below to pre-order your choice of Microsoft Kinect.

Amazon is also selling several Kinect Games which are available for pre-orders on the site. You can also purchase or pre-order Microsoft Kinect from the Microsoft Store by visiting store.microsoft.com.

Download FIFA 11 Demo for PC

EA has come out with FIFA 11, the next version of the most popular football/soccer game available out there. The 1.2GB demo download is now officially available at the EA website.

FIFA 11 Demo

FIFA 11 has several new features including new personalization options for players and goalkeepers. In addition to that you can also customize the audience chanting and more. FIFA 11 has over 500 teams and 15,000 players.

FIFA 11 also bring in 360 ° dribble which provides users with more delicate dribbling control. You can watch the  demo video of the FIFA 2011 game from EA below. From the looks of it, it is pretty awesome.

Oh yes, if you loved the video, head over to this site to download the FIFA 11 demo for PC.

(h/t @weemundo)

New TellTale Game with the Heavy in Tow?

TellTale games are renowned for their episodic and funny games. By funny I mean can’t-stop-guffawing-jaws-bleedingkind of funny. They have released gems such as the Sam & Max series as well as Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People. So what happens when they release a cryptic-message filled video that teases at a new game in the making?

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As you can see from the image above, it seems that the new game will have Tycho from the Penny Arcade Adventures series, Max from Sam & Max, the Heavy from Team Fortress 2 and Strong Bad from Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People.

These guys, in order:-

tycho

max

heavy

strongbad

While Tycho, Max and Strong Bad are TellTale Games’ staples, the inclusion of the Heavy from Valve’s team based shooter Team Fortress 2 adds to the general confusion around the gaming world. What could this Really Strange But Probably Hilarious Game be?

Here’s the trailer to the new game:-

Time-lapse Video Of Making Of A Video Game

Playing games is one of the most addicting things I have ever done, however, when we play games we do not really bother to know how those wonderful graphics were created or how the gameplay was done.

If you are curious to know what a programmer does to create a game, here is your chance. A game programmer called Markus Persson has uploaded a time-lapse video of him making a game named Metagun, which can be played here.

Though the game is definitely not a graphical delight, it is definitely worth to watch how much work and effort went into creating the game. Check it out in the embedded video below.

(h/t to our resident gaming expert @SathyaBhat)

Game Companies Unite to Help Displaced RTW Employees

Remember All Points Bulletin? Yes that MMO that had you play as either brutal Enforcers or, um, brutaler Criminals? That MMO that was really, really bad? That MMO RealTime Worlds spent $100,000,000 making? Yes, you read that right. A hundred million dollars on a game that was complete hogwash. It sold less than 10,000 units apparently, and is thus one huge and massive failure when it comes to Massively Multiplayer Online Games.

RTW

The reason the game tanked was because you had to buy the game and then subscribe to it not because the driving controls were screwy or the game lagged and looked horrible even on a high end computer. People wanted to give the game a chance but in this era of microtransactions, that is not a sustainable business model.

Thus Real Time Worlds had to cut seventy five percent of its staff. That’s 157 people jobless after working on a massive AAA title and dreaming about achieving something that only the likes of Everquest and World of Warcraft have managed to achieve.

As an alleged ex-RTW employee says in a caustic comment on Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s article

The sheer time spent and money it took to make APB is really a product of fairly directionless creative leadership. Certainly Dave J has great, strong, ambitious ideas for his games. But he’s a big believer in letting the details emerge along the way, rather than being planned out beyond even a rudimentary form. For most of the lifetime of APB, he was also CEO of the whole company, as well as Creative Director. His full attention was not there until it late in the day. This has ramifications for how long his projects run many years, on average and the associated cost. This, in turn, means that the business model options were constrained, conspiring to place APB in a really difficult position, commercially. Ultimately, it’s this pairing of a subscription model cost with free to play game play that really did for the game. And many of us saw it coming a mile off. I must admit I’m dismayed about the scale of the failure, however. Many of us thought APB might do OK at retail and sell a few hundred thousand, though struggle on ongoing revenue, and gradually carve a niche. But it absolutely tanked at retail I believe (though I’m not privvy to figures) I think due to the critical mauling it received. It never made the top 20 of the all format UK chart. It’s scraping along the bottom of the PC-only chart, a situation I’m assuming is replicated in its major markets. And being at the bottom of the PC-only chart is not where you want to be as a AAA budget game. God knows what the budget was, but when you account for the 150-odd staff and all the launch hardware and support, it was in the tens of millions of dollars.

However, the gaming industry is quick to respond to capture this massive pool of unused talent. As Joystiq reports, Codemasters alone is looking for quite a lot of employees to fill its UK studio. The Creative Assembly and Activision are also looking for new talent in Europe. With a huge amount of gaming jobs going redundant these days, it’s good to see some heartening news come out of all this mess.

As one commenter says Every once in awhile, humanity doesn’t disappoint me. This is good news.

PS3 Jailbreak is Finally Here

PS3-Jailbreak

An Australian hardware modding unit called OzModChips is claiming that the PS3 has finally been jailbroken. If true, this is indeed quite an achievement, since Sony’s PlayStation 3 is a heavily locked down platform that is renowned for excellent security. The jailbreak will enable owners to back-up their games and even run pirated games.

The solution being tested by OzModChips basically requires you to purchase an USB dongle called PS Jailbreak. When plugged into the PS3 and booted, the utility present in the dongle is executed and the PS3’s security measures are deactivated. The developers are claiming that this won’t brick the system and since the PS3’s seal isn’t tampered with, warranty will also remain valid.

The final retail units of PS Jailbreak are ready and more information is available at psjailbreak.com. PSXScene is vouching that PS Jailbreak is the real deal. It will be interesting to see how Sony reacts. According to unconfirmed reports, PS Jailbreak is generated with Sony’s official SDK (Software Development Kit) that makes it illegal to share. A lawsuit or two are definitely in the realm of possibilities. However, it might be difficult for Sony to shackle modders around the world, once the cat is out of the bag.

Sony Ericsson Working on Android Based PSP Gaming Phone

Gaming has never been Android’s strong suit. The quality of games on the iPhone has always been better than those on Android. That, however, is set to change soon.

Sony Ericsson is reportedly working on a gaming smartphone modeled along the likes of the PSP Go and the Samsung Galaxy S. Here’s Engadget’s mockup of the Android PSP phone.

Android PSP Phone Mockup

It will have a 3.7 – 4.1 inch touchscreen display with a WVGA resolution and a landscape slider with gaming controls instead of a QWERTY keypad. It will have the standard PSP buttons and a touchpad instead of the joystick.

On the hardware side, it will probably have a 1 GHz+ processor and at least 512 MB RAM. The games on the new platform will be similar to PSP games in terms of graphics and performance. It will run Android 3.0 Gingerbread and will have a custom Android Market application solely for the games.

Sony Ericsson is reportedly working closely with Google to make this happen; this could be the next big thing in mobile gaming. The iPhone has some really good games but gaming enthusiasts have always bemoaned the lack of hardware gaming controls on it.

Head over to Engadget for more details.

Alien Swarm Mini Review

Why I term this a mini review is because I have not played this game online. Considering the fact that this is mostly an online-only co-op game, I have not played much. Nevertheless, the little bit of Alien Swarm that I have played shows that this game is pretty much one of the most generous gifts by Valve to the modding community at large. It’s also a pretty cool free game. Completely, utterly free.

AlienSwarmLogo

What’s that? Access to a modding community, did you say?
Yes, sir. Alien Swarm is a decent game on its own right, but the included Source SDK as well as a level editor pretty much makes this game infinite. It also allows anyone to dive into some of the best games and mods available these days. I’d personally recommend FLIPSIDE and Weekday Warrior for anyone looking for a different gaming experience. Note: Mods that rely on existing content of Source-based games such as Half Life 2 or Team Fortress 2 will, of course, remain unavailable to those who only have Alien Swarm.

That’s all very good but how good is the game? Get on with the review man!
Oh yes, the game is very good. Pretty good in fact. Considering that this was originally an Unreal Tournament mod, the game has turned out to be something that we can waste lazy afternoons with!
The basic premise has you being in control of one of four classes of soldiers:-

AlienSwarmCharacters

The Officer with passive boosting aurasand access to the class-restricted shotgun.
The Special Weapons soldier dealing massive amounts of damage with autoguns.
The Medic the game’s healer who is invaluable when fighting Parasites and other aliens in general.
The Tech who has access to special weapons as well as the person who can open locked doors with a mini game. (I can imagine how flustering the experience would be when playing under hard mode!)

WeaponSelect

The game features quite a lot of weapons most of which I sadly have not unlocked. They will be opened in due time with online play and leveling up, I am sure!

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The game is quite good to look at, with soft bounced lights, realistic shadows of unrealistic things (see next screenshot) and some great effects. There is talk about how you can play this game in first person and the video does not look bad at all!

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In all, this game is pretty awesome and I can’t wait to see some Indian servers go up. Not until they stop playing Counter Strike: Source, of course.

Get Alien Swarm today!

Alien Swarm: New Free Shooter From Valve

If the name Alien Swarm sounds familiar to you, that is because there was a fairly popular mod of the same name for Unreal Tournament. Apparently, while no one was looking, Valve quietly hired the team behind the mod – Black Cat Games.

For the past two years, they have been working on major Valve projects like Left 4 Dead and Portal 2. However, at the same time, they also continued working on their pet project, a sequel to their original claim to fame.

The new Alien Swarm runs on Valve’s Source engine and will be made available tomorrow for free. The game is a top-down shoot-em-up, which supports up to 4-player co-op mode. Alien Swarm will also have four unique classes of characters, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Like in the original game, the player will be tasked with killing waves of aliens.

Alien-Swarm-1

Alien-Swarm-2

Modders will be pleased to know that Valve will release the full game code, in addition to releasing the SDK. Head over to the official website for more screenshots and trailers.

Hat tip: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

NVIDIA Announces DirectX 11 GeForce GTX 460 Graphic Card For $199

NVIDIA has announced a DirectX 11 GeForce GTX Graphic card which will sell for $199. The DX11 GeForce GTX 460 card comes in two versions, one with 768MB memory and the second one with 1GB memory.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 GPU

NVIDIA today announced the latest addition to its Fermi-class of graphics processing units (GPUs), the NVIDIA ® GeForce GTX 460 — which delivers a great DX11 gaming experience and is priced right at the market’s $199 sweet spot.

The new GeForce GTX card is built from ground up and deliver up to 4x tessellation performance(i) over competing GPUs. The GTX 460 bring the ultimate gaming experience with DX11 bundled with and . GeForce GTX 460 also supports NVIDIA 3D Vision technology.

Epic Games, Tim Sweeney who is the Chairman, CEO and Technical Director commented: "With the GeForce GTX 460, NVIDIA is really upping the ante with an amazingly fast DirectX 11 GPU available at a great, mainstream-friendly price. Its new hardware tessellation support will enable games to reach an entirely new caliber of graphics."

GeForce GTX 460 Specifications and Pricing

Both the GTX 460 cards will have 336 CUDA Cores and 675 MHz Graphics Clock. GTX 460 will also have a 1350 MHz processor and a texture fill rate of 37.8 billion per second. The 768MB version will have a 192-bit memory interface and Memory Bandwidth of 86.4 GB per second.

On the other hand, the 1GB card will have a 256-bit Memory Interface Width and a Memory Bandwidth of 115.2 GB per second. The 768MB GeForce GTX 460 GPU will sell for $199, whereas the 1GB GPU will sell for $229.

The GeForce GTX 460 768MB version will be available starting today from NVIDIA add-in card partners. Wider availability of the GeForce GTX 460 1GB is expected by July 26, 2010.  For more information and specifications visit the product page for GeForce GTX 360.

E-xpress India to Release PSP Games for Rs. 699

Manna from heaven for PSP gamers! (The legit ones, at least).

Console games, unlike PC games in India, are still priced fairly out of reach of the non-pirate gamer. While many of the current-gen PC games are published in India for ridiculously low prices when compared to their price in the countries of their origin, console games tend to be similarly priced to their cousins abroad. All that is set to change with E-xpress India deciding to publish eighteen PSP games for Rs. 699 under the title PSP Essentials.

PSP-ESSENTIALS-

The titles are mostly animation movie spin-offs or aimed at kids in general, although there are a few exceptions (Tom Clancy’s EndWar, Tomb Raider Legends and the like). It is a small step, but we are all hoping that more publishers in India aim for the rights to publish better and bigger games in India for gentler prices!

Dragon Age 2 Announced

Epic RPG makers Bioware today announced the epic sequel to the epic RPG game of yesteryear in an epic announcement page today, er… epicly (!)

I guess they got bored of developing Mass Effect 3

Dragon Age II will be taking place across a decade, with each and every one of your choices having consequences far into the future. Though the initial setting is pretty similar to what we have played already, I am pretty sure Bioware has some new tricks up its sleeve that would definitely make this one a huge, if not gigantic, hit.

Morrigan? Please?

The usual marketing snippets follow:-

Embark upon an all-new adventure that takes place across an entire decade and shapes itself around every decision you make.
Determine your rise to power from a destitute refugee to the revered champion of the land.
Think like a general and fight like a Spartan with dynamic new combat mechanics that put you right in the heart of battle whether you are a mage, rogue, or warrior.
Go deeper into the world of Dragon Age with an entirely new cinematic experience that grabs hold of you from the beginning and never lets go.
Discover a whole realm rendered in stunning detail with updated graphics and a new visual style.

New visual stylesounds pretty sweet but I don’t think a Borderlands-ish effect is what I want from my RPG. Nevertheless we’ll see how that goes.

A trailer is inbound on the 17th of August. Stay tuned for it!

Portal 2 is going to be Awesome

Yes, Portal 2 is going to be awesome way more awesome than the original Portal. Hopefully.
Here is 10 minutes and 53 seconds of exactly why Portal 2 is going to be awesome.

That is a compiled video of all demo videos released during E3

Of course, as long as Wheatley’s voice is not retained. (We are used to forced cuteness without emotion, aren’t we?) There is of course, much that will be added in due course. ALSO we are missing our dear companion cube! What is that wretched box of glass that has taken your place, my dear friend-that-has-a-heart-on-all-six-sides? What other opinions do you have about Portal 2?

NFS World Beta Opens Today

EA Sports is releasing a new beta of Need for Speed World today to participants worldwide. The new NFS World beta introduces 11 new cars, including the Audi R8 and Nissan 370Z, bringing the total cars in the garage to 25.

nfs_world

In addition to the new cars, EA has also added new performance customization packs for every car and increased the number of progressions levels to 50. NSF World beta also introduces Private Matches and a Meeting place for car shows.

You can download the latest NFS World Beta by visiting this link. Please note that you will require to have an EA account in order to be able to download the Beta Client.