Category: Tech

Tech 1

Epic Games calls out Intel

You can’t help but like Epic Games VP Mark Rein. Sure, he is a graphics whore but he openly speaks his mind and has a lot of important things to say. In an interview with Firingsquad, Mark Rein called out Intel on making horrible graphics chips, and I could not agree with him more.

FiringSquad: What is Epic’s feeling about PC game hardware and how will the Unreal engine be part of that?

Mark Rein: I wish I could report only good news but that’s not the case.

On the good side there is a lot of exciting news in the PC space. Ageia is launching their physics hardware. NVIDIA now has Quad SLI. Dell is getting serious about PC gaming with their XPS 600 Renegade system and XPS M170 laptops. Both Intel and AMD now sell dual-core processors. Apple has switched to Intel. NVIDIA’s SLI is taking hold and lots of game enthusiasts are starting to use it. These are all good things that Unreal Engine 3 is very qualified to take advantage of. We’re obviously using the PhysX library which, in addition to giving us very strong physics performance on Xbox360 and PS3, will give us the ability to take advantage of the upcoming PC PhysX hardware. Prior to their announcement at CES this year we had a chance to run Unreal Engine 3 on Dell’s new XPS 600 Renegade Quad SLI system and I can tell you that it is fantastic! Dell is lending us gear for our GDC demos this year. In addition to running our theatre on the amazing Renegade we’ll also be demo’ing on more down-to-earth SLI-equipped XPS 600 systems and the Dell M170 laptop with NVIDIA’s Geforce Go 7800 GTX. Dell is also lending us some of their amazing 30” monitors which are fantastic for Unreal Editor demos. Our new multi-threaded renderer will also be great on dual core processors from AMD and Intel. Windows Vista will also give us a nice performance boost by getting us closer to the hardware than past versions of Windows have.

Unfortunately the bad side is getting really bad. It is getting harder and harder for the average consumer to buy a computer with a decent graphics chips in it. When I go to major electronics retailers I see that most of the machines being sold are using Intel Integrated graphics – including the vast majority of laptops. Some of the desktop machines don’t even have slots for discrete graphics cards which I find personally offensive. Laptops of course are mostly not upgradable so a bad laptop is a bad laptop forever and considering how many people are replacing desktop with laptops this is especially worrisome. It is really sad when you see the moniker “media” or “entertainment” attached to something with Intel Integrated graphics in it. I question the logic of developing dual-core CPUs and saddling them with ultra-low-end graphics especially considering that one of the big benefits of Windows Vista will be a hugely improved graphical user interface that will help improve productivity. There are some seriously expensive desktops and laptops with crappy graphics chips in them – these aren’t just the low-priced machines either. Intel salespeople are probably patting themselves on the back for these design wins but the truth is the more successful they are with this strategy the faster they could be killing off the PC games market and nobody has the balls to stand up and cry foul because Intel is so powerful.

If people take those machines home and try to play recent PC games on them they’re going to have a horrible experience and possibly give up on PC gaming altogether. Users aren’t educated in this area but when their new $1,500 PC says “no” to a decent PC game they’re going to just assume the PC games market had passed them by. This is sad because the difference in cost the PC manufacturer to put in a decent graphics chip isn’t very much.

We need to find a way to encourage manufacturers to offer more balanced systems with better graphics chips and understand that every user they convert to a gamer represents a potential higher-margin sale the next time and every user they discourage from gaming represents a potential lower-margin commodity purchaser later. We need those mainstream users to be trying PC games. It is nearly impossible to justify the cost of making games that scale down to integrated graphics when the next-gen consoles have so much graphics power and represent a huge upcoming market. How many publishers would bother bringing their latest games to PC if only the hardcore players could run them? Those customers have already proven they’re willing to spend $300 for a graphics card so expecting them to own a next-gen console isn’t much of a leap.

So despite the fact that I’m a big cheerleader for PC gaming I am worried about a potential for catastrophic failure of the PC gaming market. You’d think Intel would be worried about that too especially considering that none of the next-generation consoles use Intel CPUs.


Tech Video

PhysX Cards

So, price info has been coming out for the BFG PhysX card. It should cost around $350. I am still not sure if I will be buying one of these or not. In a way, it seems somewhat pointless to buy a physics card. With today’s dual core processors and GPUs, I don’t see any problem with calculating physics on the CPU & GPU. Two processors with 4 threads are enough in my opinion, especially considering most game engines are still single threaded.

Then there is the issue of support. The PhysX cards only work for games that run AGEIA’s physics middleware. How many games will actually use it? Havok is by far the most commonly used physics middleware and if anything its support is growing. It is also worth mentioning that Havok has been talking about physics processing for the GPU for a while now. To me, it sounds like a much better idea then having a separate PPU for physics. I find it hard to suggest buying a physics card that will only work on select games. Can you imagine buying a video card that only worked on games that ran in OpenGL?

Then there is the fact that AGEIA’s physics middleware runs perfectly fine on the CPU. So you don’t even need the card to play games that use it. I would suggest waiting a good long time before buying one. I would like to see how much support this card actually gets, and how much of a performance boost you will actually find on a game running on dual cores.

One thing is for sure though, the demos do look sexy (just not $350 cool) and I am willing to bet those demos can run fine on a dual core processor if it took advantage of it. You can view one of the demos below. If it looks interesting, a slightly different (and a little bit cooler) high resolution version of that video can be found here.


Buck up or shut the f*** up!

Seriously. I am tired of reading people complain about their outdated junk. I hate people that feel like the whole world should be held back for them because they are too cheap to keep updated. These are the same people that make me install games over 4 cd discs. Everyone that doesn’t have a dvd drive needs to go out and buy a $25 dvd drive. Give game manufacturers a reason to start putting EVERY game on dvds now.

Then there are the people that ask for help in forums and get mad at you when you tell them they are SOL. They are like “I need a new graphics card. I want to run Quake 4, Call of Duty 2, F.E.A.R., and Half-Life 2 on high settings and I don’t want to spend more then $200”. I tell them thats just not going to happen for $200 and they get all mad. Honestly, what the hell do they expect. Maybe they are just clueless, but if thats the case, how about doing at least a little research for yourself before coming to a forum and asking people for help.


Aliens are real.

Yeah thats right. I know because there is an alien ecosystem growing in the dark recesses beneath the keys of my keyboard. I never really noticed, but its pretty gross looking. Dust and dirt all over it. I started cleaning it (compressed air and a damp cloth of warm water works good) but then decided it was a good enough excuse to buy a new keyboard. I have a new pc anyways and my old one is currently suck without a keyboard. So this somewhat cleaned keyboard is going with my old pc and my new pc is about to get a new keyboard.

Logitech Ultra X

Pretty nice keyboard at a pretty nice price ($19.99). The shipping was crazy though ($6.99).

Games Tech

Tech Un-Support

I have been having connection problems with World of Warcraft so I went to their webpage and checked out the tech support section. I found a page with some steps to try if you have connection issues. After following those steps and having no success, I e-mailed their tech support using their web form as it suggests.

Here is the contents of my e-mail. I was trying to be as descriptive of my problem as possible so I could get help. I let them know what I had tried to do, so that I dont get those same steps repeated back to me that I already tried.
When playing WoW I sometimes experience connection issues. I have only started experiencing these problems when I got my new pc. I never had connection issues before.

Sometimes when I play I wont be able to talk or interact with NPC characters but it appears that the other players around me are still connected as they move around. If I walk around some more, no other players will load and I eventually get a message that I have been disconnected.

The first time I logged on with my new pc it would happen all the time, though a few nights ago I was able to stay connected the entire time I was on (a few hours). Though today I was disconnected a few minutes into the game twice.

What I have tried:
1. Turning my software firewall off.

2. These steps here:
(though I have set them back to their origional settings after those steps didnt work)

3. Forwarding TCP port 3724 to my pc on my linksys router (though I never had to do this with my other pc, I decided to give it a try) (this is still on)

4. Testing your Connection and Performing a Trace Route. It gets to:
14 80 ms 82 ms 81 ms []
before a timeout.

Specific PC SPECS:
MSI K8N Neo4/SLI Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 AMD Mobo
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 1GHz FSB Socket 939 Processor
BFG Tech Geforce 7800GT OC 256MB 256-bitPCI Express x16
CORSAIR XMS 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 ST3160812AS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

Any suggestions on what to try next? Thanks for your help.


And what do I get as a respons a few days latter? Some bullshit copy & paste generic response from their tech “support”. Thanks for not helping me at all. I almost wondered what they were doing with all that money they make from subscription fees, but obviously they use it to pay some great tech support people.


Hello Ryan,

If you are having trouble with high latency or simply staying connected to the World of Warcraft game servers, the steps below are good for troubleshooting this. You may have already tried some of these steps, but please confirm you have tried them all since they will usually address common connection-related issues.

Step 1. Configure your Firewall and/or Router

Firewalls and routers are designed specifically to control your computer’s incoming and outgoing connections. You may need to set up these security features to allow access to the game servers. If these are not set up correctly, the firewall or router may prevent you from connecting to World of Warcraft.

Please see this page for port information and advice on setting up your firewall/router for World of Warcraft:

Step 2. Third party program conflicts.

Some third party programs can interfere with your connection. Programs such as Xfire, Teamspeak, and Port Magic have been reported as causing some issues. Please try closing all background applications as explained on our support site: (“”)

Step 3. Network card issues.

There are several drivers that, if out-of-date, could cause issues for broadband users. If you need more help in locating drivers for your hardware or finding the settings listed, please contact the hardware manufacturer or a qualified technician.

* If you access the internet through an external broadband modem, be sure you have the latest firmware and drivers available for your modem.
* If your computer connects to the modem via USB, be sure you have the latest drivers for your motherboard or your USB PCI card.
* If your computer connects to the modem via Ethernet, be sure that your network card has the latest drivers installed.
* Some network cards also have settings that when changed have corrected these types of issues. First, you need to navigate to your network card properties.

1. Click on Start.
2. Click on Control Panel.
3. Double click on the System icon (in Windows XP, you may need to click ‘Switch to Classic View’ on the left hand side of the screen).
4. Select the Hardware tab.
5. Click on Device Manager.
6. Expand the section labeled Network Adapters.
7. Right click on your network card and select properties.

* If you have a Power Management tab in your network card properties, click it and unselect the “allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” if selected.
* On the Advanced tab, You can also try changing the Speed/Duplex to Force 100 Full Duplex. This has shown to fix these types of issues as well. To do this, go into your computer properties, and then into your device manager. Locate your network card, and go into the properties for it. click on the advanced tab, and you should see a list of items. One of them should be Speed/duplex settings. Change this to Force base 100 Full duplex. If you have an older router or hub you may need to use base 10 full duplex.
* You may also have a Checksum Offload property on the Advanced tab, if so you can try choosing to disable that option.

Step 4. Testing your Connection and Performing a Trace Route

Running a Trace Route will track each step of your internet connection to World of Warcraft, and can help identify if and where connection problems may be occurring. Please see this page for instructions on doing a Trace Route test:

If none of these steps helped, please let us know exactly what error message you are seeing, and where in the connection process it occurs.

If you email our support team, please attach the tracert.txt file from step 4, or have it handy if you call in. In addition, please attach the “connection.log” file, which you will find in the “Logs” folder within your World of Warcraft install directory. These files can often allow us to identify the source of the problem.


James K.
Blizzard Entertainment

If you reply, please include all previous text and files related to this e-mail.


If that doesnt help I am supposed to e-mail you? I am pretty sure thats what I just did. Way to fail at actually reading the e-mail. Thanks for making it easier to cancel my subscription.