• chevron_right

      War Stories: How Crash Bandicoot hacked the original PlayStation

      Kyle Orland · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Sunday, 5 September, 2021 - 12:45 · 1 minute

    Shot by Sean Dacanay, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Click here for transcript .

    When you hear the name Crash Bandicoot , you probably think of it as Sony's platformy, mascoty answer to Mario and Sonic. Before getting the full Sony marketing treatment, though, the game was developer Naughty Dog's first attempt at programming a 3D platform game for Sony's brand-new PlayStation. And developing the game in 1994 and 1995—well before the release of Super Mario 64 —involved some real technical and game design challenges.

    In our latest War Stories video, coder Andy Gavin walks us through a number of the tricks he used to overcome some of those challenges. Those include an advanced virtual memory swapping technique that divided massive (for the time) levels into 64KB chunks. Those chunks could be loaded independently from the slow (but high-capacity) CD drive into the scant 2MB of fast system RAM only when they were needed for Crash's immediate, on-screen environment.

    The result allowed for "20 to 30 times" the level of detail of a contemporary game like Tomb Raider , which really shows when you look at the game's environments. Similar dynamic memory management techniques are now pretty standard in open-world video games, and they all owe a debt of gratitude to Gavin's work on Crash Bandicoot as a proof of concept.

    Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Biomarkers are how cancers give up their secrets

      Scott K. Johnson · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 18 December, 2020 - 16:10

    Animated by Hannah Folz. Click here for transcript . (video link)

    We’re kicking off a new video series focusing on science, and we’re starting with the science of cancer treatment. There are a lot more options for cancer treatment than there used to be, but new treatments are often more effective because they only work in specific situations. Matching up patients with the treatments that fit them best is one of the things being unlocked by advances in biomarker testing.

    Biomarkers are genetic variations, proteins, or chemicals produced by cells that can tell you about the internal workings of a cancer or how the body is responding to it. By measuring these things in cancer tissue samples or even in blood or urine, it’s possible to detect or identify cancers, generate a prognosis, and determine which treatment has the highest chance of success.

    Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Amnesia and Soma creator Thomas Grip explains how he makes games terrifying

      Ars Staff · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 14 October, 2020 - 14:15

    Video produced by Justin Wolfson, edited by Patrick Biesemans. Click here for transcript .

    Welcome to "Scare Tactics," a pilot for a video series that aims to explore how different creators make horror games. We see horror as a special genre—horror games aren't always played for the same reasons as other games. They aren't necessarily fun , and their reward often comes from overcoming one's own fears, rather than from overcoming the game's mechanics.

    We're starting the series by cozying up to Frictional Games cofounder Thomas Grip. To call the release of Frictional's Amnesia: The Dark Descent a watershed moment in horror gaming would be a severe understatement—it launched the careers of many Let's Play YouTubers and spawned dozens of copycats all trying the same scare-your-brains-out formula. The company is currently working on Amnesia: Rebirth , but Grip took time away from finishing Rebirth to take us through his philosophy and approach to horror game design.

    (Along the way, he also shared some Rebirth previews with us, and our video above showcases a few Rebirth gameplay elements that haven't been seen yet!)

    Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Join Sean Gallagher and guests on October 15 for an IT roundtable talk

      Lee Hutchinson · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 8 October, 2020 - 17:24

    Join Sean Gallagher and guests on October 15 for an IT roundtable talk


    Working in IT often means finding creative ways to make the best of a situation you've been handed. Whether it's fixing problems you didn't cause or adapting to changes that leadership failed to account for, it's all about figuring out how to keep repairing the proverbial airplane while it's flying—and 2020 hasn't really made things any easier for anyone.

    To provide a bit of a respite for weary IT decision makers—and also because we're geeks who will take any excuse to talk shop!—Ars is organizing a livestreamed roundtable discussion next week starring Ars IT/infosec Editor Emeritus Sean Gallagher, where he'll sit down with our hand-picked panel of experts to discuss the ways in which businesses (and the ITDMs within them) are adapting their processes and strategies around the new reality of remote work, plague, and whatever the hell else is happening in the world right now.

    Look who’s talking

    We've pulled in three panelists to converse with Sean:

    Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      LGR’s Clint Basinger plumbs the depths of retro-computing—and his YouTube comments

      Lee Hutchinson · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 September, 2020 - 15:15 · 1 minute

    Produced by Vara Reese, edited by Ron Douglas. Click here for transcript .

    Retro-tech YouTube is an awesome place to lose months and months of time—it's a place where awesome creators like The 8-Bit Guy and Techmoan ply their wares, tempting viewers with in-depth discussions of decades-old technology. My personal favorite retro-tech channel to fall into, though, is LGR , or "Lazy Game Reviews," hosted by the smooth-voiced Clint Basinger.

    LGR has been reliably churning out videos (often set to smooth jazz) for more than a decade, running the gamut from game reviews to industry retrospectives to... whatever this is , but the videos I love the most are the unboxing videos. They're not your typical unboxing videos—I mean, where else can you watch someone unwrap and set up a new old-stock IBM PC AT, model 5170 ? And then upgrade the crap out of it?

    We've done a couple of successful videos with YouTubers Markiplier and Linus Tech Tips , and so we thought it was time to give Clint at LGR the same treatment—we trawled through the comments on his past videos looking for gems, and then we asked him for his recollections about the comments and the videos to which they're attached.

    Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      War Stories: How Forza learned to love neural nets to train AI drivers

      Jonathan M. Gitlin · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 14 September, 2020 - 20:11 · 1 minute

    Produced by Justin Wolfson, edited by Shandor Garrison. Click here for transcript .

    Once an upstart, the Forza franchise is now firmly established within the pantheon of great racing games. The first installment was created as the Xbox's answer to Gran Turismo , but with a healthy helping of online multiplayer racing, too. Since then, it has grown with Microsoft's Xbox consoles, with more realistic graphics and ever-more accurate physics in the track-focused Forza Motorsport series as well as evolving into open-world adventuring (and even a trip to the Lego dimension ) for the Forza Horizon games.

    If you're one of the millions of people who've played a Forza racing game, you're probably aware of the games' AI opponents, called "Drivatars." When the first Drivatars debuted in Forza Motorsport in 2005, they were a substantial improvement over the NPCs we raced in other driving games, which often just followed the same preprogrammed route around the track. "It was a machine-learning system on a hard drive using a Bayesian Neural Network to record [racing] lines and characteristics of how somebody drove a car," explains Dan Greenawalt, creative director of the Forza franchise at Turn 10 Studios, in our latest War Stories video.

    In fact, the technology originated at Microsoft Research's outpost in Cambridge, England, where computer scientists started using neural nets to see if it was possible to get a computer to identify a Formula 1 driver by the way they drove through corners.

    Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      War Stories: How Diablo was almost a turn-based strategy game

      Lee Hutchinson · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 18 August, 2020 - 15:10 · 1 minute

    Produced by Justin Wolfson, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Click here for transcript .

    The year 1997 means a lot of things to me—it's not only the year I met my wife , but it's also the year wherein I sacrificed hundreds of evenings and nights to Diablo , the newly released grandpappy of loot lottery games. No game I'd played before had anything like Diablo's raw power to alter the flow of time—like, you look at the clock, see that it's a bit before midnight, you smash a couple of monsters, and then suddenly the sun is peeking through the window.

    If the Lord of Destruction could be said to have a father, it would be lead designer David Brevik. Much of what would become Diablo sprang from his mind, including the name itself (taken from Mount Diablo , situated close to where Brevik lived at the time of Diablo's inception). All those lost nights and bleary-eyed mornings should properly be laid at his feet—although as Brevik originally imagined it, Diablo would be more of a traditional Rogue -esque affair of turns and sub-turn actions. Diablo's signature real-time loot-spewing combat was somewhat of a late addition—and one Brevik himself opposed.

    Smash and grab

    As Brevik explains, it came down to a simple show of hands in the office at the end of a long week. Brevik and perhaps two or three others wanted to keep the game turn-based, and more than a dozen others voted to convert the title into a real-time game.

    Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    • chevron_right

      Tech YouTuber Linus Sebastian looks back on a decade of fun and silliness

      Lee Hutchinson · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 June, 2020 - 15:10 · 1 minute

    Directed by Morgan Crossley, edited by Daniel Poler. Click here for transcript .

    About 300,000 years ago before quarantine started, we sat down with YouTuber Mark "Markiplier" Fischback and had him talk to us about some of his most popular video comments and his path to millions of subscribers. (Lordy, was January really that long ago?) You responded positively, so today we have another video along those same lines: we're talking with the second-most-famous Linus on the Internet, Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips.

    We're big fans of Linus here in the Orbiting HQ, primarily because he does the kind of tech projects that most of us only joke about. Like, hey, how about building a 320TB NAS ? Or upgrading your Wi-Fi network with enough capacity and gear to handle the crowd at Yankee Stadium ? Or, my personal favorite, how about parting together a gaming PC so hilariously powerful that seven players can use it simultaneously ? (And why stop at just seven ?)

    The signature Linus cheeky grin and devil-may-care attitude were both on display when we sat down (virtually) with Linus a couple of weeks back to shoot this video, the second in a series that we're tentatively calling "Personal History." We dug deep into the comments on some of his older YouTube videos to get his reactions, and we couldn't stump him even once—it turns out that like a lot of creators who really care about their creations, Linus really does read almost all of the comments.

    Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments