Rage3D Kombuting // February 8th edition



Author: Pete Vagiakos
Date: February 8th, 2013

Office for Linux, next-gen consoles, Bad Robot meets Valve and the Cave!

Is it a blog? Is it my rumblings with a spice of memes? Is it Stuff That Are Entirely My Opinion And Do Not Reflect That of Rage3D? Guilty as charged on all accounts. Enjoy and comment away :)

Microsoft Office... for Linux?

Rumours are nice, and we love them here on Kombuting. And we'll start with one of those, even though, technically, you can't actually call "rumour" something that has been with us for quite some time. Maybe not as in “it may happen”, but more like a “imagine what if” scenario we used to talk about when we discussed things in the computing industry. But times have changed; and people are actually giving it some thought. So according to our friends over at Phoronix, it seems Microsoft is actually planning to released its Office suite for Linux, with an ETA sometime within 2014, or at least considering it – and this time, the rumour doesn't seem so far fetched.

Once upon a time it would sound silly to suggest that Microsoft would even think about releasing its golden Office suite for another CPU, or a competing operating system (no Mac users, you obviously don't count ^_^). But as I said previously, times have changed. Office is already underway for Android phones, Microsoft has already ported the Office libraries to an non-Intel platform (you can thank Windows RT for that), you can actually choose to use either its file formats or the “rival” Libre/Openoffice ones natively from within Office, the company contributes Hyper-V driver code to the Linux kernel, it's actually sponsoring Linux events, dare I say.. it's more open these days?

Of course we are not on the verge of such a release; I imagine the first thing the guys at Microsoft will see is whether a Linux port will be profitable for them. It's always been a “chicken and eggs” situation with major Linux applications anyway; and don't forget that we are talking about big companies here. They want to have profits, and Linux is all about Open Source and freedom. But even if they are considering it, this is big news; and together with the Linux gaming push by Valve (even though John Carmack doesn't believe in it, as he revealed lately) it...dare I say it... may be time for Linux to make inroads to the desktop. Which is almost like saying “PC Gaming is going to die” of course; I can't even begin to count the times I've heard that line in the past 20 years, and then shot down. But then again, here I am; in Linux Mint, writing this piece in LibreOffice's Writer, using the .odt file format and saving the file on my Microsoft Skydrive folder, which I used to create the odt file in the first place. You never do know, do you?

New consoles in the horizon... anyone excited?

Staying with the rumour mill this week, we'll talk about consoles. I must admit I am a PC kind of guy (only console I've ever owned is the Nintendo Wii, and only because I've won it on some competition), so I can't say I am super enthusiastic about them. But then again, many people are, and since we aim to please, we bring you the latest and greatest.

So with the Wii U out of the way (which you can hardly call next-gen really, it was more like Nintendo catching up to the current generation consoles graphics-wise), we can focus on the two rivals, Sony and Microsoft. After quite a long time, there are semi-solid indications that both companies will present the successors to their consoles this year. Sony in particular released a big tease for February 20, which actually seems to be the date the Playstation 4 will be announced. We don't know much about the new console, just the indications we get from the dev kits which were released lately, which are (according to Kotaku):

  • System Memory: 8GB
  • Video Memory: 2.2 GB
  • CPU: 4x Dual-Core AMD64 "Bulldozer" (so, 8x cores)
  • GPU: AMD R10xx
  • Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
  • Drive: Blu-Ray
  • HDD: 160GB
  • Audio Output: HDMI & Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels

Of course the hard disk is a bit on the tiny side for today's standards, but the rest of the specs seem pretty nice. We also know there'll be a new controller which should have some kind of touch input and have motion sensing technologies. Some exciting stuff for the online accounts as well, where it seems you'll be able to have more than one account logged in at the same time for any given console. Imagine playing with your friends, and with all the accounts simultaneously logged in, you'll be able to have your scores, saves, achievements and whatnot in any console you play. It's price is said to hover at about $400, which already has caused some controversy amongst the press.

As far as the next Xbox iteration is concerned, we know even less about it. It will definitely be powered by AMD technologies as well, with Edge narrowing it down to an AMD 8-core processor at 1.6GHz, DX11.x class GPU running at approximately 800MHz, and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. It'll sport a Bluray drive (rumour has it that the new Xbox games will be released on 50GB dual layer disks) and even though hard disk capacities are not yet known, we expect Microsoft to bundle a quite large hard drive, since it will bet quite a lot on online play and online game downloads. We also don't yet know whether Kinect will be embedded to the new Xbox or whether it will be separate again; but it will definitely be vastly improved. Lastly, we expect a big revamp of its online interface, which will closely resemble Windows 8 and the Metro guidelines.

Xbox is rumoured for a Q4 2013 release, just in time for the holidays, so stay tuned for more gossip, news and developments as time passes by; we will definitely share our thoughts once Sony unveils the PS4 in two weeks. I am sure the moderators over at the Console Gaming forum are eager to deal with the onslaught of flame wars between console fanboys ^_^

Games and Movies converging – Valve meets J.J. Abrams

First of all, I would like to say that I am a big fan of J.J. Abrams, ever since “Alias” rocked my world. I consider the guy to be one of the greatest story tellers of our time, and his myth is slowly but surely getting bigger and bigger every day. Where do I begin... Alias, Lost, Fringe (my personal favourite of all time), now Revolutions and Person of Interest, movies like Mission Impossible 3 and 4, Cloverfield, Star Trek, currently in charge of two of the greatest franchises of all time, Star Wars and Star Trek. His resume is impressive and there seems nothing stopping him, or his company, Bad Robot. Abrams, ever since “Alias” rocked my world. I consider the guy to be one of the greatest story tellers of our time, and his myth is slowly but surely getting bigger and bigger every day. Where do I begin... Alias, Lost, Fringe (my personal favourite of all time), now Revolutions and Person of Interest, movies like Mission Impossible 3 and 4, Cloverfield, Star Trek, currently in charge of two of the greatest franchises of all time, Star Wars and Star Trek. His resume is impressive and there seems nothing stopping him, or his company, Bad Robot.

On the other hand, you have Valve, maybe the greatest story teller in the gaming department. Its Half Life saga (even if it's still incomplete, with Half-Life: Episode 3, or Half-Life 3, or whatever it's called these days missing in action) is one of the best games of all time, with a captivating story and great game play. I really don't need to also remind people of Portal, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and other great games. Valve of course is no stranger to trying to expand to other media beside games; movies based on its games were often rumoured in the past, but never quite made it the big screen. But, it seems that is about to change.of all time, with a captivating story and great game play. I really don't need to also remind people of Portal, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and other great games. Valve of course is no stranger to trying to expand to other media beside games; movies based on its games were often rumoured in the past, but never quite made it the big screen. But, it seems that is about to change.

So Gabe Newell and J.J. Abrams met in the 2013 DICE Summit a few days ago, in order to talk about storytelling in various media. They highlighted differences between the ways games and movies tell their stories, successes and shortcomings of both media, and the big news came from J.J. himself, where he revealed that he has an idea for a game he'd like to work with Valve on, and that he's been talking with Valve for quite some time about gaming, and making movies based on Valve's games. So they both feel that it's time to do more than just talking, and set the groundwork in order to create things together. himself, where he revealed that he has an idea for a game he'd like to work with Valve on, and that he's been talking with Valve for quite some time about gaming, and making movies based on Valve's games. So they both feel that it's time to do more than just talking, and set the groundwork in order to create things together.

You have to admit, movies based on games? Not a very pretty story; and I don't even have to name examples. There's just so many of them and I would like to apologise right now because I am sure that, for some of you, Uwe Boll movies came to mind. Games based on movies? Same thing; with only a handful of games tied to movies any good. But whenever Hollywood story tellers are involved in an original game, we usually have a winner. Even Steven Spielberg has done that, with older gamers remembering “The Dig”, the gem that he released alongside LucasArts back in the day.

So here we actually have two great news: an original idea by J.J. Abrams possibly becoming a game, and Bad Robot exploring the possibility of movies based on Half Life and/or Portal universe. The Internet went amok when news broke about this, and rightfully so – the thing is, should you hold your breath and wait for the fruition of this joined venture in the next couple of years? My money would firmly be on the “no” option. J.J. Abrams has his plate full right now with the two huge franchises he's going to direct; and Valve is... well... Valve. They take their time for just about everything, hence the “Valve Time” they're famous for. From various interviews I've read, it seems that the company environment over there is “do whatever you think is fun”, and since they essentially run a flat business with no bosses, they prioritise projects according to what they believe is interesting (which actually sounds like a great workplace in my book).. The Internet went amok when news broke about this, and rightfully so – the thing is, should you hold your breath and wait for the fruition of this joined venture in the next couple of years? My money would firmly be on the “no” option. J.J. Abrams has his plate full right now with the two huge franchises he's going to direct; and Valve is... well... Valve. They take their time for just about everything, hence the “Valve Time” they're famous for. From various interviews I've read, it seems that the company environment over there is “do whatever you think is fun”, and since they essentially run a flat business with no bosses, they prioritise projects according to what they believe is interesting (which actually sounds like a great workplace in my book).

All in all, I wouldn't hold my breath for anything to come out from this collaboration in the near term. In the long term though, whatever these two brilliant guys can come up with, please, bring it on!

The Cave – play it already!

And speaking of gaming, I felt that I had to stop and mention one of the most innovative games I've played in quite a while. It's called The Cave, it's produced by Double Fine Games and it's the child of certain guy called Ron Gilbert. If the name rings a bell, it's probably because the guy's pretty much a legend; as a member of the golden era of LucasArts, together with Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman, Ron Gilbert has helped producing games like Maniac Mansion and the first Monkey Island games. So with such strong background, people were curious to see what he could come up with.it's produced by Double Fine Games and it's the child of certain guy called Ron Gilbert. If the name rings a bell, it's probably because the guy's pretty much a legend; as a member of the golden era of LucasArts, together with Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman, Ron Gilbert has helped producing games like Maniac Mansion and the first Monkey Island games. So with such strong background, people were curious to see what he could come up with.

The idea behind the Cave is simple; you select three out of 7 unique characters, each with his strengths and weaknesses and you enter a big Cave. Essentially it's a modern adventure game, with light platform elements. You control the three characters, and you use them to solve puzzles you find inside the said talking Cave. Yes, I did say talking Cave, and it's one of the highlights of the game; which is full of good old-fashioned humour. You'll find yourself giggling with the sarcastic comments the Cave makes, and that's not all of it. You see, each character has a special ability that helps him solve puzzles. The monk has telekinesis, the Time Traveller can teleport, the Hillbilly can swim underwater and so on; and depending on which characters you've selected, each puzzle has a different solution. There are also large areas inside the Cave that are accessible only when you have a certain player (the Knight has to rescue a princess which...let's say doesn't go so well, the Twins have to escape their parents' house, but not in a way you'd expect them to), so in order to fully enjoy the game, you will have to play it at least three times, and each time you do, it'll feel like a totally different game.ution. There are also large areas inside the Cave that are accessible only when you have a certain player (the Knight has to rescue a princess which...let's say doesn't go so well, the Twins have to escape their parents' house, but not in a way you'd expect them to), so in order to fully enjoy the game, you will have to play it at least three times, and each time you do, it'll feel like a totally different game.

So load up Steam and grab the game already, you will definitely not regret it!

Tune in next time; same Komb-time, same Komb-site.