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How Windows 8 rewrites the rules of PC gaming   Leave a comment

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PC gaming is primed for a renaissance—or at least a reinvention—like we haven’t seen since the advent of 3D acceleration in the late 1990s. For this, we can thank the mobile revolution and all its attendant technologies. Game developers can now tap into accelerometers, touchscreens, and the cloud to add new features and gameplay scenarios. And even Microsoft’s comprehensive approach to Windows—merging desktops, tablets, and smartphones under a common code base—is changing the ways in which game creators should approach their work.

All of these developments were made patently clear at the recent Microsoft Buildconference. Justin Saint Clair, a Microsoft business development manager, stood before an audience of game developers and encouraged them to reset their approach. Don’t just think about graphics, themes, and plot lines, argued Saint Clair. The first question every developer should be asking is, “What is a PC?”

The very definition of the term “personal computer” has been upended over the past few years, and now PC gaming looks to be catching up at last. We’re no longer bound to keyboard and mice. We’re no longer even bound to playing the very same game—or the very same campaign within a single game—on the same device. In this article, I’ll walk you through all the new use cases that game developers are exploring. The fruits of their labor will become manifest in all genres of PC gaming, from the casual titles we play on tablets to the deep, textured 3D extravaganzas we download from Steam.

One game, multiple manifestations

When the iPad launched a couple of years ago, the tablet quickly redefined the rules of video gaming. Thanks to its built-in accelerometers and touch sensitivity, the iPad became both a game screen and a game controller. Not only could we tilt the tablet to, say, control a car’s steering in a driving game, but we could also use our fingers to directly manipulate the gameplay action.

But that was the state of the mobile gaming art in 2010, and simple accelerometer and touch tricks are now considered a given. In 2013, Microsoft will be encouraging developers to imagine tablet gaming experiences that extend beyond the tablet—in essence, single games that manifest themselves in different, creative ways across a variety of devices and platforms.

Xbox SmartGlass uses a Windows tablet as a secondary display for Xbox games.

Microsoft is working on APIs that allow developers to create a single game that plays more or less similarly on PCs and tablets, but with different control schemes and less-demanding graphics for tablet iterations. For example, the Xbox Live multiplayer API will live on both Xbox and Windows, allowing developers to build seamless multiplayer games that span platforms. Another Microsoft development path taps into the “second screen” approach, in which a single game leverages both your big-screen TV and a tablet—a scheme that’s already being realized on Windows 8 tablets running the Xbox SmartGlass app. The Xbox 360 racing game Forza Horizon, for instance, lets you (or a friend) view highway maps on your tablet, while you continue to steer the car with your console’s button-oriented driving interface. In effect, the tablet allows you to have a second person in the “passenger seat,” helping you with navigation.

MICROSOFT
The PC hardware landscape is much more varied today.

Microsoft is also taking advantage of its Windows runtime platform (the underpinning of all Windows 8 Store apps) along with Xbox Live networking features to iterate a single game franchise in unprecedented ways. Take, for example, the Mass Effect series of sci-fi third-person shooters. Mass Effect 3 is already a big single-player hit on the PC, but now a companion game, Mass Effect: Infiltrator, is available for iOS, and both titles tap into the franchise’s cloud-based “Galaxy at War” system. The upshot? In Infiltrator, when you gather intelligence data, your achievements will improve your “Galactic Readiness Rating,” which is integral to the PC game.

Of course, the cloud offers simpler benefits as well. Imagine firing up a game on your PC, playing a few minutes, and then saving your progress to Microsoft’s servers. Later, you’re in a hotel room in a distant land, where you load an iteration of the same game on your tablet, and continue where you left off. Such a scheme is already available in the desktop PC gaming titles Mass Effect 3 and Dirt Showdown, but you can expect more deployments to follow. It’s also worth noting that even simple Microsoft Store apps keep their status and save games in the cloud, ensuring that the whole lot of them offer seamless starting, stopping, and restarting regardless of your physical location and of which Windows 8 device you’re using.

At the Build conference, Microsoft’s Saint Clair also shared a new vision of online multiplayer gaming. He encouraged developers to imagine a single multiplayer game on PCs, Xbox 360 consoles, and Windows 8 tablets—three different platforms, but with players engaged in exactly the same online environment. This model is already available inHydro Thunder Hurricane.

Then there’s the LAN party, which is begging for redefinition. Today’s LAN party typically involves every player lugging a bulky PC or beefy gaming laptop to a common location, plugging in a bunch of cables and switches, and joining a multiplayer server. But Windows 8 running on mobile devices could dramatically reduce a bunch of logistical pain points. As Saint Clair asked, “What happens when everyone in the house has a tablet?”

The tablet changes everything

Tablet gaming isn’t just PC gaming with touch control tacked on. A good tablet game will also recognize a suite of behaviors and technologies specific to modern mobile devices: touch gestures, of course, but also accelerometers, GPS, near-field sensors, gyroscopes, and more. Windows Runtime—Microsoft’s new development platform that unifies PCs, tablets, and even Windows Phone 8—incorporates all of those possibilities, enabling game developers to take advantage of new mechanics and models. As a result, any developer who is comfortable with Windows Runtime can tap into gameplay dynamics as rich as anything we see deployed on iOS.

But although tablets are rich with creative development opportunities, they often drop the ball in pure performance. Tablets and hybrid devices don’t offer the raw CPU and GPU firepower of a good desktop PC, and this is a limiting factor that all traditional PC gaming developers will have to respect. Making matters worse, the GPUs inside current-generation Windows RT tablets and Windows Phone handsets don’t support the full range of DirectX 11 features available to desktop PCs with modern graphics cards. Game programmers will need to ensure that Windows 8 Store games will work in Windows RT using only Direct3D 9 in their 3D content.

That doesn’t mean games will look terrible on tablets, however. Low polygon counts and low-resolution textures don’t look nearly as bad on small tablet displays as they do on a large desktop display. Also, many of the games built for sale on the Windows Store will be lighter, casual fare, so performance problems likely won’t be a major factor.

Minesweeper: A prime example

The updated version of Minesweeper is a shining example of a casual game that takes full advantage of the new features Windows 8 enables.

Minesweeper as it was before Windows 8.

The original Minesweeper, of course, has been available for free in every version of the OS since Windows 3.1; this single game is probably responsible for more lost productivity than any other title, except perhaps Solitaire. Microsoft wanted to completely reimagine Minesweeper and make it a showcase for what a Windows Store game could be. To that end, Microsoft hired experienced casual game developer Arkadium, and the new version of Minesweeper adds much more than just simple touch control.

First off, the game no longer runs in a window. It’s now a full-screen app suitable for tablet devices, but it still works well on a desktop PC. Arkadium also added a new skin, the garden theme. Beyond that, the revamped game also has a new Adventure mode in which you explore a set of caves with a cartoony character.

Unlike in the Minesweeper of yesteryear, you don’t need to clear or mark every tile to pass an Adventure level. In fact, there’s no single “perfect” way to complete a level: You can explore every inch to maximize the amount of gold you collect, or you can simply find the quickest route to the exit. It’s your choice.

Racing through an Adventure level without uncovering or marking most of the tiles nets you a lower score than exploring the level more thoroughly. Monsters and other obstacles block your travel along the way, but you also pick up tools and weapons to ease navigation.

In total, Adventure mode changes Minesweeper from a simple clear-the-map game into a sort of “roguelike” in which you explore levels and overcome challenges to get through a maze. The game also incorporates social media sharing: Each time you complete a level, you have the opportunity to share your accomplishments.

Adventure mode turns Minesweeper into a roguelike game.

Minesweeper also adds the social dimension of daily challenges and achievements. Daily challenges let you collect virtual currency for earning badges, and hold the promise of an unspecified prize. But these challenges are also saddled with advertising. Yes, in-game advertising has come to Minesweeper, usually in the form of short video clips or clickable hotspots that take you to an external site. This commercial element—along with the limitation of not being able to run Minesweeper in a window—definitely reduces the game’s fun factor. Still, there’s no debating that the new social elements show how Microsoft is trying to advance even the Windows platform’s most rudimentary games.

Sharing, achievements, and other social activities are now part of Minesweeper.

Enhanced desktop games on Windows 8

The Windows desktop is still a big part of any Windows 8 system, including tablets and hybrid PCs running the new OS. All-in-one PCs with touch capabilities are gaining prominence in the Windows 8 desktop hardware landscape; and some higher-end all-in-one PCs, such as the Dell XPS One and Lenovo A720, include discrete GPUs, which allow them to run more 3D-intensive titles.

Even desktop games can benefit from additional features built into Windows 8, such as the enhanced touch interface. Intel has worked with a couple of key developers to bring touch to desktop games. Firaxis added touch, including support for gestures, to Civilization V, one of the biggest strategy titles of the past year.

The latest Civilization 5 update adds multitouch to a classic strategy game.

At least one desktop PC game, Wargame: European Escalation by Eugen Systems, was developed from the ground up for touch. Eugen’s first game, R.U.S.E., supported touch under Windows 7, but the interface was a little obtuse. In contrast, the top-down map interface of European Escalation—a real-time strategy game that takes place in a hypothetical war between the 1980s superpowers in Europe—offers tiles, rather than small buttons, as the main selectable user interface elements. Touch select and other gestures also work as expected.

Wargame: European Escalation is designed from the ground up to support touch controls in a sophisticated RTS title.

Both Civilization 5 with touch support and Wargame: European Escalation work well with Windows 8. European Escalation, like Eugen’s earlier game, will also work with touch-enabled Windows 7 systems.

Interestingly, both games have also been optimized for Intel’s integrated HD 4000 graphics, so their performance should be adequate on Ultrabook-class hybrids and tablets. That’s a reality that all game developers will face going forward: In raw performance, the graphics hardware on these sleek systems currently doesn’t measure up to discrete graphics cards on desktop PCs.

A new generation

Windows 8 and Windows RT have arrived, and with it, the new generation of Windows Store games. Many of these games will be built on JavaScript, HTML 5 canvas, and Microsoft’s XAML core languages, allowing easy porting between mobile and PC platforms. Higher-end titles will continue to be developed in more traditional languages.

More important for users, new gaming experiences are emerging. With many Microsoft Store apps, you’ll be able to transition easily from your game when you’re moving from one platform to the next. The widespread adoption of Windows 8 games on mobile devices such as Ultrabook hybrids and pure tablets will encourage the spread of certain gaming genres that have had modest traction, such as location-based or augmented-reality titles. New sensors built into tablets and hybrid laptops will allow game designers to build new control types into games, which in turn will give them the ability to create new types of games.

Although Apple iOS fans will no doubt snort, suggesting that such features have always been available on iOS, relatively few cross-platform titles exist between iOS and Mac OS. Plus, Apple’s laptops seem to be evolving toward higher-end display technology, but aren’t adopting touch as a key part of that OS.

The new generation of Windows games, on the other hand, will integrate titles on desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, and even Xbox consoles, creating new experiences for users of all kinds of games, ranging from the very casual to the hard-core. It’s going to be exciting to see what games emerge, given the plethora of platforms and sensors, all running on a common platform.

Posted December 9, 2012 by paras91 in Mysterious places around the world

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Beautifully Eerie Photos Of Earth As A “Black Marble”   Leave a comment

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Posted December 9, 2012 by paras91 in Travel - Just explorer the World here

Well here is my list – The top ten countries not to be missed in 2013.   Leave a comment

Sri Lanka

Cut-price paradise back on the map

Best for: Culture, off the beaten track, value for money

Statue of Hindu deity at Koneswaram Hindu temple, Fort Frederick.

Battered tragically by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and wracked by civil war from 1983 to 2009, many areas of the country have remained off limits to even the most intrepid traveller. Now the bitter conflict is over, investment is fuelling the tourism industry, and visitor numbers are steadily increasing. Prices are affordable, and with low-cost flights from the convenient travel hub of Bangkok, Sri Lanka is emerging as one of the planet’s best-value destinations.

Read More : wikitravel.org/en/Sri_Lanka

http://www.srilanka.travel/

South Korea

Geared up for the Great Outdoors

Best for: Activities, events, off the beaten track

People trekking on Mt Halla.

Without fanfare, South Korea has quietly developed into an outdoor recreation destination with untapped potential in golfing, hiking and fishing. Though not quite undiscovered, few people outside the country know about it. That anonymity will likely fade away in 2013 as it bursts onto the world stage hosting a series of major sporting events.

Read More : http://wikitravel.org/en/South_Korea

India :

The New Seven Wonders: Taj Mahal, India

It is one of the biggest countries. It is the second largest populated country of the world. The country is famous for its ancient beauty and architecture. Taj Mahal, Kutub Minner, the caves of Ajenta and Elora are the main tourist sports of this country. Millions of tourists are come in this country every year.

Read More : wikitravel.org/en/India

Have a look at this : http://www.incredibleindia.org/

http://www.indiatravel.com/

Montenegro

Emerging superstar with wild beauty

Best for: Activities, adventure, off the beaten track

Old church on rocky mountain above town of Kotor.

Nature has been prolific and creative in Montenegro, producing such iconic draws as the bewitching Bay of Kotor and the buzzy beaches along its Riviera. But be sure to pack a pair of hiking boots along with your swimsuit, for Montenegro’s beauty is no less intense in the wild and rugged interior. A new – and steadily growing – network of hiking and biking trails and improved infrastructure is making this glorious quilt of nature ever more accessible, while creating new employment for locals.

Read more: wikitravel.org/en/Montenegro

And this : http://www.visit-montenegro.com/

Iceland

Strange land inspires devotion

Best for: Activities, off the beaten track, value for money

Hikers on the Thosmork-Landmannalaugar trail near Landmannalaugar.

Ask any tourist during your trip to Iceland and you’ll quickly see that everyone develops an unconditional love for the little island nation, whether it’s for the mind-bending scenery, the platefuls of delicious lamb and fish dishes, or the sincere local hospitality. The currency crash – which effectively devalued the króna by 75% – also helped make a trip much more favourable to the wallet. As the global economy starts to heal, prices are climbing once more. The spoils of Iceland are no longer a secret, but they’re still yours for the taking – and in 2013 you’ll still be well ahead of the curve.

Read More : wikitravel.org/en/Iceland

And this : http://www.icelandtravel.is/

Turkey

Step off the beaten path

Best for: Off the beaten path, culture, food

Aphrodisias Tetrapylon.

New low-cost airlines are opening up the southeast of Turkey, and excellent bus services make getting around easy. Explore the historic old towns of Mardin and Midyat, feast on fantastic food in Gaziantep and see the recently uncovered ruins of Göbekli Tepe near Sanliurfa. Experience the Turkish section of the recently inaugurated Abraham’s Path walking trail, where accommodation is in simple Kurdish homestays, a long way from the tourist buzz of the coast or Istanbul’s Old Town.

Read more: wikitravel.org/en/Turkey

This : www.travelturkey.com/

 

Dominican Republic

The Caribbean’s ‘Next Big Thing’

Best for: Activities, value for money, events

Fishing boats on beach.

In the first quarter of 2012 the Dominican Republic saw an 8.4% increase in tourism. With more airlines offering stops to the country’s eight international airports, as well as cruise ships adding the DR as a major port of call, more people are escaping to the land of sun, sand, and surf comparable to anywhere else in the Caribbean.

Read more: wikitravel.org/en/Dominican_Republic

Malaysia :

 

Around 2005, the Malaysian government made a decision to push tourism, in order to make the economy less dependent on exports.  It worked, as tourism became the country’s third largest source of income, and it climbed into the top ten most visited countries.  Most of the visitors come from Asia, overwhelmingly nearby Singapore.  However, the country also receives about 500,000 UK citizens a year.  The main attraction is the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, which is home to the Petronas Twin Towers, the largest twin towers ever built.  The city also has many huge shopping malls, which draw many visitors.

Read More : wikitravel.org/en/Malaysia

And this : www.tourism.gov.my/

 

Slovakia

Makeover for cultured corner of Europe

Best for: Culture, adventure, off the beaten track

Town of Nizne Ruzbachy by river.

Two decades on from the Velvet Revolution, Slovakia has galvanised to form one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies, joined the EU and ranks right up there in Google searches for bargain ski packages and stag weekends. Now the tourism industry is keen to distance the nation from being all cheap pistes and piss-ups. The image overhaul has been overdue but it’s here, and in time for the inevitable party in 2013.

Read More : Read More : http://wikitravel.org/en/Slovakia

And this : www.slovakia.travel/

 

Ecuador

Reborn railways open up rainforest

Best for: Food, off the beaten track, activities

Domes of Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion on Parque Calderon.

Ecuador‘s railway network is scheduled to radically revamp in 2013 with new lines linking increasingly cosmopolitan Quito and the coastal port of Guayaquil. Tracks will also connect Ecuador’s famed 5900m-high volcano Cotopaxi and the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose), claiming the steepest (and most hair-raising) stretch of railway in the western world. Developers believe the gamble will pay off and pull in unprecedented tourist numbers.

Read more: wikitravel.org/en/Ecuador

And this : www.ecuadortravels.ec/

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  • Helltown

Hell3

The History

The Northern part of Summit County in Ohio is known by the eerily blunt moniker, Helltown. In the 70’s, Boston Township was the site of a government buyout, and subsequent mass eviction of citizens. The houses were intended to be torn down and the land used for a national park, but the plans never quite manifested. Legends spawned wildly, and who can blame the legend mongers? Driving through the dark, wooded landscape was enough to give you chills even when it was populated, let alone when you have to drive by boarded up houses standing next to the burnt out hulks of others (the local fire department used some buildings for practice).

The Terror

Whether based on a kernel of truth or cooked up in the heads of creative visitors, the persistent legends of Helltown add to the creep factor. The steep Stanford Road drop off, immediately followed by a dead end, is aptly named The End of the World. If you get stuck at this dead end for too long, according to ghost story enthusiasts, you may meet your end at the hands of many members of the endless parade of freaks patrolling the woods. Satanists, Ku Klux Klan members, an escaped mental patient, an abnormally large snake, and mutants caused by an alleged chemical spill proudly march in this parade. And if you stray from the roads, you may find Boston Cemetery, home to a ghostly man, grave robbers and, the quirkiest of all, a moving tree.

Posted November 13, 2012 by paras91 in Horror places around the world

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  •  Catacombs, Paris, France.

Is this a real Paris Catacomb Ghost Photo asks Harold Grant Ghost Picture from his recent trip to Paris 2008.

Is this a real Paris Catacomb Ghost Photo asks Harold Grant Ghost Picture from his recent trip to Paris 2008.

Long ago, as the city of Paris grew, it became necessary to provide more space for the living. To do so, engineers and planners decided to move the mass of humanity least likely to protest: in this case, the dead. Millions of Parisian dead were quietly disinterred in one of the largest engineering feats in history and their remains were deposited along the walls of the chilly, dank passageways lying beneath the City of Light. They lie there to this day, in the eternal darkness, an Empire of the Dead.

The Paris Catacombs are infamous and much has been written about their history and purpose. A million visitors a year are said to walk the dank corridors and to stare at the bones and gaze fixedly into the empty eye-sockets of the long dead. Many of these same visitors, and some of their guides, have encountered more than just the silence in the catacombs: they have had encounters with ghostly inhabitants that roam the empty passageways and mutely follow the tour groups around.

Ghost Photos and erie feelings or often reported through out the internet from the many visitors to the locations. Ghost are often said to be felt more the witnessed eye to eye. Many have reported to us that they have been grabbed or have felt ghost touching them even grabbing their hands and clothes.

A Real Paris Catacomb Ghost Photo sent to us by Brian Lundsguard

A Real Paris Catacomb Ghost Photo sent to us by Brian Lundsguard

Several report seeing a group of shadows in one area of the catacombs; as the living walk along, the dead follow in complete silence. To some the experience is completely overwhelming and tours have been cut short by the growing sense of unease. Photos have revealed orbs and ghostly apparitions, and EVP’s have been recorded throughout the vaults. And many, many ghost photos happen all the time.

The catacombs were first cleared in Roman times, with succeeding generations of Gauls and Frenchmen perfecting the Roman engineering. Now the catacombs are a veritable rabbit’s warren, and though many boldly enter without a guide, to do so puts one at risk of being lost there forever. There have been many reports of rash individuals who wandered into the catacombs for a laugh and who have never been seen again.

Ghost Photo of Paris Catacombs sent to us by Linda Graham

Ghost Photo of Paris Catacombs sent to us by Linda Graham

This, and many chilling tales of experiences in this Empire of the Dead, put the Paris Catacombs on our list of most haunted places.

Posted November 13, 2012 by paras91 in Horror places around the world