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      Epic’s new motion-capture animation tech has to be seen to be believed / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 23 March, 2023 - 12:33

    Would you believe that creating this performance took only minutes of video processing and no human tweaking?

    Enlarge / Would you believe that creating this performance took only minutes of video processing and no human tweaking? (credit: Ninja Theory / Epic )

    SAN FRANCISCO—Every year at the Game Developers Conference, a handful of competing companies show off their latest motion-capture technology, which transforms human performances into 3D animations that can be used on in-game models. Usually, these technical demonstrations involve a lot of specialized hardware for the performance capture and a good deal of computer processing and manual artist tweaking to get the resulting data into a game-ready state.

    Epic's upcoming MetaHuman facial animation tool looks set to revolutionize that kind of labor- and time-intensive workflow. In an impressive demonstration at Wednesday's State of Unreal stage presentation , Epic showed off the new machine-learning-powered system, which needed just a few minutes to generate impressively real, uncanny-valley-leaping facial animation from a simple head-on video taken on an iPhone.

    The potential to get quick, high-end results from that kind of basic input "has literally changed how [testers] work or the kind of work they can take on," Epic VP of Digital Humans Technology Vladimir Mastilovic said in a panel discussion Wednesday afternoon.

    Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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      Gravity in Space is a highly unusual physics-based space shooter out in Early Access

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Friday, 29 January, 2021 - 12:34 · 1 minute

    Here's your chance to try out the most unusual physics-based space action game I've ever seen. In Gravity in Space you fly around various weird maps filled with small planets, rocks and more in a tiny little spaceship you control with six degrees of freedom.

    Now available in Early Access and it will remain there for at least six to twelve months, it's actually quite surprising. The developer sent a copy for us to test early, and the control system and overall quirky uniqueness of it is thoroughly charming and like nothing else. The flight controls definitely take some getting used to as you swing your ship around various celestial bodies.

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    "Unlike most other space games you are actually bound to Newton’s laws of motion — you cannot control where you go directly, but only indirectly through acceleration impulses that add to your current velocity vector. Controlling a spaceship is totally different compared to an aircraft. It is much harder. No air resistance, no maximum speed, no limits. You have to completely rethink the basic idea of flying. Float around several gravitation centers and use them to get to your target. But you must not lose focus on your enemy! You have put yourself in superior positions, avoid his mines, repel his attacks, and finally shoot him."

    The training will probably take you a little while to get through, after that you can hop in to play against others in real-time online battles. Once you do get the training down, the combat needs you to carefully use the gravitational forces spread-out throughout each level to outplay opponents with your mastery of the six degrees of freedom manoeuvrability.

    Your ship isn't the only unusual thing, your weapon is too. You fire off a little explosive probe, which is also of course affected by gravitational pulls so you need to take that into account for both your ship and your weapon.

    Find it in Early Access on Steam .

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      What Never Was: Chapter II gets a teaser trailer and a Steam page

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Thursday, 14 January, 2021 - 12:25 · 1 minute

    What Never Was is a free short, story-driven first-person puzzle-solving adventure that released back in 2019. It was so popular that the developer is bringing out What Never Was: Chapter II.

    The first part released in January 2019, with a Linux build arriving later in April 2019. It went on to gather over 4,000 user reviews and still has an "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating today. Epic Games later noticed it and gave the developer an Epic MegaGrant (no exclusivity) to help Acke Hallgren work on more of it.

    "Starting immediately after the events of What Never Was - Sarah finds herself magically whisked away to a strange place. Where did the magical clock take her? What other secrets are to be discovered? What more did her eccentric grandfather hide from her?"

    Hallgren has been busy, with What Never Was: Chapter II well underway now and it has a fresh teaser:

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    A while away from release though, as work is currently ongoing into the core parts of the game and so no release date is currently being set.

    On the subject of Linux support returning for Chapter II, Hallgren said to us "assuming everything goes according to plan, I will make sure to have the same support as the previous chapter" which is great to see.

    You can follow it on Steam .

    Do try out the original on Steam since it's free and you might find something you like. It is quite a peaceful little puzzle-adventure so it's not surprising it's so highly rated.

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      Epic Games has acquired RAD Game Tools so they now own Bink video and more

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Friday, 8 January, 2021 - 09:45 · 1 minute

    Epic Games latest acquisition is RAD Game Tools , one a great many game developers will be familiar with. As confirmed on the official Epic Games news post , the plan is to integrate RAD tooling into Unreal Engine.

    RAD tooling is used by close to 25,000 games, according to the post, making it massively popular. Probably the most well-known of their tools by gamers is Bink Video and you might have seen a logo of it across some of your favourite games going back to the 90's.

    As graphics in game development and beyond become more photorealistic and powerful, developers need best-in-class compression software that can manage increased data requirements without compromising quality. Members of the RAD team will partner closely with Epic’s rendering, animation, insights, and audio teams, integrating key tech and improvements across Unreal Engine and beyond. RAD and Epic combining forces will allow even more developers access to tools that make their games load and download faster, and offer their players a better, higher quality video and gaming experience.

    Epic Games

    The good news is that Epic will not be locking it down to their systems. As the post explains, RAD will continue supporting and selling licenses for their products across all industries and those that don't use Unreal Engine.

    So now Epic Games own Psyonix (Rocket League), Quixel (Megascans), SuperAwesome (kids digital media ecosystem), Hyprsense (facial motion capture), Easy Anti-Cheat and no doubt that list will grow.

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      Unreal Engine 4.26 rolls out with lots of Linux improvements, drops OpenGL for Vulkan

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Friday, 4 December, 2020 - 09:53 · 4 minutes

    Epic Games have rolled out the latest major upgrade to Unreal Engine 4 while work continues on Unreal Engine 5.

    This latest release with Unreal Engine 4.26 surprisingly has quite a lot of Linux issues sorted, along with dropping OpenGL in favour of Vulkan on the desktop now. It's a change that's not really surprising, with Vulkan being the future along with it being needed for Stadia which is quickly expanding its list of available titles.

    We’re pleased to announce that Unreal Engine 4.26 is ready for download! This release brings new tools that extend your ability to create believable real-time environments and characters for games, film & TV, visualization, and training & simulation; continued advancements to our virtual production toolset; higher-quality media output; improved design review tools; and much, much more.

    Epic Games

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    We've rounded up the other Linux specific fixes for you here:

    • Automation - Bug Fix: Fixed Linux packaging failure resulting from Lumin key being copied locally into Gauntlet.
    • Core - New: Removed unnecessary target dependencies for ShaderCompileWorker on Linux.
    • UnrealBuildTool - Bug Fix: Fixed retry in Linux when linking batch files.
    • Bug Fix: Resolved an issue with Linux with the SegFault in source filtering and notification manager when closing QAGame Clear Regional Lists at the pre-exit instead of during the global dtor.
    • New: Building with a -gbd-index with Clang v9 or above now cuts symbol loading time by more than half (45 seconds to 17 seconds).
    • New: Added the No Relative Mouse Mode command-line option to support remote VNC.
    • New: Lld linker is now supported with Clang v9 and above.
    • Bug Fix: Implemented GetWindowUnderCursor for Unix Platform.
    • Bug Fix: Updated for Linux build.
    • Bug Fix: Fixed SegFault in source filtering and notification manager when closing QAGame Clear RegionalLists at pre-exit instead of during global dtor when many objects / modules have been freed. Call RemoveAll on FilterCollection->GetSourceFilters updated in PreExit instead of global dtor when many objects / modules have been shut down.
    • Bug Fix: For Unix, fixed FUnixPlatformMemory::GetStats() that always returned 0 when memory was over 10.24gigs.
    • Bug Fix: UE no longer hard codes c14 in LinuxToolchain as the default c standard.
    • Bug Fix: Added SP_OPENGL_SM4_REMOVED to IsDeprecatedShaderPlatform(). This fixes assert when getting shader stats (called from FShaderCookerStats::Initialize).
    • Bug Fix: Added error messagebox when vkGetPhysicalDeviceSurfaceSupportKHR fails (no present support).
    • Bug Fix: For Linux Vulkan, fixed amdgpu mesa crash where drawinstance call is outside render pass enabling shader complexity view.
    • Bug Fix: Update translucent rendering fix to use BeginRenderingTranslucency.
    • Bug Fix: Honor UE4's Mono-build environment using .
    • Bug Fix: Fixed BC6H/BC7 texture formats not being available for Linux.
    • Bug Fix: Fixed submenus closing causing main context to close.
    • Bug Fix: Fixed focus issue where Windows with never activate policy were being set to active.
    • New: Updated Linux SDL2.0.10 to SDL2-2.0.13-13784. Also we removed Epic opengl and emscriptem changes. Source snapshot for SDL 2.0 (Updated Wed Apr 29, 2020) .
    • New: Enabled ssse3 by default for Linux x86.
    • New: Build ShaderConductor for Linux Script now uses v16 Clang 9.0.1, and works around incorrect llvm-tblgen location. This also adds declspec guid -fms-extensions for build error.
    • New: Updated Linux SDL2.0.10 build files to SDL2-2.0.13-13784.
    • New: Added support for multithreading in forked processes. Use -PostForkThreading when SupportsMultithreading() is false to allow multithreading in forked processes. Forked processes do not inherit threads from the master, so this keeps the master process in single thread mode but transforms the RunnableThreads into real threads on the forked version. Use FForkProcessHelper::CreateForkableThread to use this feature. ForkableThreads will behave correctly according to the environment they are called in (singlethread, multi thread, forkable). SyncEvents created in -PostForkThreading environments are real events on the master process (Win, Unix platform only).
    • New: Added TaskGraph.ForkedProcessMaxWorkerThreads cvar to directly control the number of worker threads spawned on forked processes that enable multithreading.
    • New: TaskGraph can now be multithreaded on a forked server with -PostForkThreading. To do this the TaskGraph needs to be shut down and recreated entirely by the forked process for the switch to occur. The functionality can be disabled via "TaskGraph.EnableForkedMultithreading 0" if needed.
    • New: Linux AArch64 libs for FreeType2 v2.10.0, ICU 64.1, and HarfBuzz 2.4.0 now include cross compilation scripts. This also adds LinuxAArch64 back to installed engine builds.
    • New: Added bGdbIndexSection bool to LinuxToolChain.
    • New: Changed default linux directory permissions to 775 from 755 to make working with them easier.
    • New: You can now use msbuild in mono for Linux when using an installed copy and mono >= 5.0.
    • New: Linux directory watcher optimizations and fixes for cases where we're running with "virtual" layers in the platform file (i.e. pak files).
    • New: Added a skip linux UE4_DO_ROOT_PRIVILEGE_CHECK check for programs.
    • New: Updated to new LLVM V17 Clang 10.0.1 toolchain.
    • New: Moved to using llvm-objcopy for objcopy and strip.
    • New: Installed Linux builds now assume a bundled toolchain.
    • New: Added support on Mac and Linux for user-defined .unrealrc files that allow developers to specify environment variables for UBT and UAT scripts. .unrealrc files in the home and the workspace directory will be applied before the editor, UnrealBuildTool, UnrealAutomation tool, etc are run.
    • New: Added support for VK_KHR_image_format_list, VK_KHR_shader_atomic_int64 and VK_KHR_driver_properties support for Linux; added gpu crash extension support on Linux for AMD and NVIDIA.

    Full release notes available here .

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      Kujlevka is an upcoming quirky Russian adventure about a crashed alien ship

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Monday, 9 November, 2020 - 09:54 · 1 minute

    The Russian village of Kujlevka becomes anything but ordinary in this upcoming story-based adventure game about an alien ship that crashes into your house.

    "Russia, 1992. An ordinary village of Kujlevka faces yet another challenge in this dark period of Russian history, and this one really makes the financial crisis and raising crime rates look bleak: out of all locations on Earth, this little settlement, forgotten by everyone, turns into the busiest place on the planet overnight when a flying saucer crashes directly into the headman’s house."

    Check out their first trailer:

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    It's a choice-based character adventure, one with Russian political roots. The developer explains that you will "drink a shot, get political" as you need to do with aliens as well as the situation at the time. With the story progressing based on your choices, it seems it will be possible to play through a couple times and see how things change although they've not said how many endings there are yet.

    Kujlevka has a demo available for Linux and Windows up on Steam. The English is a little rough, although it is only an early demo what they've got could end up being pretty amusing as long as they get someone to clean that up. They're not done with the demo either, as they do keep updating it so if you decide to try it out you can give them feedback on their Steam forum.

    You can try out the demo now on Steam . It's due for a full release in late 2021.

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      9 Monkeys of Shaolin is a great classic kung-fu movie inspired beat 'em up out now

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Monday, 26 October, 2020 - 14:52 · 3 minutes

    9 Monkeys of Shaolin gives us another wonderful beat 'em up with easy to use controls, thoroughly entertaining combat and some great visuals. Developed by Sobaka Studio, the same team behind REDEEMER.

    Inspired by classic kung-fu movies of the 70s, 9 Monkeys of Shaolin follows Chinese fisherman Wei Cheng on a path to avenge the death of friends and family after their lands are invaded by pirate raiding parties. Sobaka claim it's a "true rebirth of the iconic brawler genre", which is overstating it a bit but there's no denying I've had a lot of fun with it.

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    The story in 9 Monkeys is your pretty standard beat 'em up material, with a pretty ordinary person taking up arms to avenge the death of their family but it's the overall direction and production values that really help it along. Some well designed cut-scenes sprinkled in, along with plenty of great voice acting really enable 9 Monkeys of Shaolin to leave a lasting impression while not being particularly genre-defining.

    Combat is the most important thing in a beat 'em up and 9 Monkeys of Shaolin excels there, as it's suprememly smooth and quite exciting. Flowing from one attack type to the next feels awesome, as does dodging around enemies and unleashing mighty combo attacks mixed in with power attacks you build up energy for during fights. Everything about 9 Monkeys of Shaolin just feels so good thanks to the combat style and weaponry. Using your staff to jump from afar towards an enemy, and watch as they fly into boxes and everything smashes beneath them — there's a lot of little touches to enjoy here.

    Enemies are impressively varied too and that's where it shines, as you'll end up needing every ability possible to get through it. Enemies have quick attacks, long range attacks, brutal smashing attacks that completely flatten you and more. Even with all of that, the combat in 9 Monkeys of Shaolin still feels relatively tame, it's not overly fast paced and you still get quite a bit of time to think which is why I think I like it so much. When enemies are about to attack, the tells in their stances and animations mean you know what's coming.


    It's challenging and fun but it doesn't aggravate with the toughness of it. If you don't like it being tough, the Novice difficulty mode seems pretty good for people of all abilities too. You can also change the difficult during missions so it's a well-rounded game in terms of difficulty.

    The locations you fight through are quite varied too, all with their own distinct style and colouring which makes sending people flying through it all the more delightful. As far as beat 'em ups go, you don't get much more fun than this. Worth picking up easily.

    Feature Highlight:

    • 3 unique fighting styles: fight on earth, in the air or use mysterious magic seals.
    • Captivating narrative: follow Wei Cheng as he rises from a mere fisherman to the master of Shaolin martial arts.
    • Stunning visual style: unlikely combination of historical and mystical elements.
    • Extensive character development system: various unlockable perks, items and fighting styles.
    • More than 25 different levels: Chinese villages, Buddhist monasteries, Japanese mansions and much more.
    • 10 types of Chinese and Japanese polearms, each with its unique traits.
    • Co-op play: invite your friend to complete the game together.

    You can buy 9 Monkeys of Shaolin from Humble Store and Steam .

    We're a little late on the release of 9 Monkeys of Shaolin, as we've been tracking down a graphical bug with NVIDIA GPUs on Linux. It appears that the NVIDIA driver series 455 has an issue with broken effects in 9 Monkeys of Shaolin but previous drivers are fine. The result on the 455 driver is bright blue smoke where fire should be, and bright blue streak effects when attacking - which is very annoying and distracting. Thankfully, the game works great on earlier drivers and the issue has been reported to NVIDIA .

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      Futuristic, mysterious, full of physics and circuits - puzzle game The Long Gate is out

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Tuesday, 22 September, 2020 - 14:05 · 2 minutes

    Developer David Shaw has now released The Long Gate, a thoroughly mysterious puzzle game full of quantum physics and circuits set up as puzzles.

    With puzzles that can be completed in whatever order you find them, Shaw worked with a quantum computing science company called D-Wave Systems to build them and make sure the quantum theory used is factual and achievable. The result is a puzzle game with a very interesting idea - if you can grasp the mechanics and if you love tinkering with wires.

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    The Long Gate could have possibly sat along side the likes of Portal and The Talos Principle, if it did a bit more world-building instead of abruptly dumping you into it. It's not enough to have good intricate puzzles, you need some sort of attachment to it that I wish I had here because the setup is initially quite exciting. Walking through these huge chambers with lots of moving pieces, with a couple quite beautiful scenes, I wanted to know so much more.

    Mystery like this only really works where it's carefully guided. The learning curve here certainly didn't help and there's absolutely no setup to help you out. There's a few initial starting puzzles of course that are easy enough but the difficulty just spikes so suddenly and harshly. It assumes far too much existing knowledge on part of the player, and that's a big problem. The difference in other first-person puzzle games, is that their mechanics are trickled in and start with the basics. Here, there's not really any of that. The result, is a game of frustration.

    Feature Highlight:

    • Challenging puzzles - cryptic puzzles built around digital, analog and quantum circuits
    • Open exploration - players can explore the caverns and complete puzzles in almost any order they choose
    • Underground Oasis - The caverns of The Long Gate are full of wonder and nature, providing a contrasting setting to the machine-based circuit puzzles
    • Stunning soundtrack - The Long Gate features a beautiful original soundtrack by musician Nicholas Newman

    If you do have an open and keen mind for challenging puzzles and you have ample patience, The Long Gate could be good. Not a game made for everyone, that's for absolute certain.

    You can buy The Long Gate now on Steam .

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      FOBIA - St. Dinfna Hotel is an upcoming psychological horror - try the demo

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Monday, 14 September, 2020 - 12:17 · 1 minute

    Pulsatrix Studios are working on FOBIA - St. Dinfna Hotel, an upcoming psychological horror and it appears a number of readers are excited about this one. We've had quite a few emails and notifications about it, as they recently put up a demo with Linux support on Steam.

    Fobia is a first-person experience that focuses on mixing together environmental exploration, a little survival and some puzzle solving. You assume the role of a young journalist named Roberto, investigating supernatural events to get a bit of a career boost which leads you to the Santa Dinfna Hotel.

    You can see the original trailer below. It's in brazilian but YouTube's captions do a good enough job for me:

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    For some actual Linux gameplay, you can check out this video from Xpander.

    It appears they're also running a crowdfunding campaign on a platform called catarse, which interestingly is open source . Not as known as the likes of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo but nice to see some free and open source funding platforms. The FOBIA has another 42 days to hit R$50,000 (Brazilian real).

    Follow it and try the demo on Steam , funding campaign here .

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