Amazon Blocking Non-Prime Members From Buying Certain Games

Amazon Prime started off as giving you quick one-day delivery options, expanding into the market for Video and music streaming, and with its latest offer of a monthly subscription system, its popularity keeps growing. That may change if you are a fan of big time games, with the latest news revealing that certain games may be locked behind the “prime wall”.

If you go on the Amazon site now and check out games like Grand Theft Auto 5 or Fallout 4, you may find yourself welcomed by a small blue button on the right-hand side. Replacing the welcoming yellow button that said buy now, the blue button instead asks you “join Prime”. Above the buttons it states that the games are “Exclusively for Prime Members”, giving you no option but to either seek them on different sites or use Amazon Prime to order your games from Amazon.

While you will still be able to buy the games through other sellers on Amazon, if you want to buy it directly from Amazon you will need Prime membership. With a yearly membership getting you 20% off pre-orders and new releases, if you like buying big releases when they come out it may be worth checking out the deals they offer.

For gamers and non-gamers alike, do you think its fair to have your ability to buy what you enjoy locked to an exclusive membership group or does the one-day delivery (or even one-hour delivery) tempt you to grab those new games that little bit sooner?

It should be noted that while the block originally seemed to affect both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com sales, some of the listings on Amazon.co.uk are now unrestricted, suggesting that the initial backlash may already have been enough to sway Amazons opinion on the “prime wall”. Currently, you can see the option featured on Amazon.com’s Grand Theft Auto 5 page.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Netflix Isn’t Against Offline Viewing

Netflix is a huge company, with price increases to help cover the increased traffic that people use with the HD streaming experience. In a recent call though Netflix may look at helping you watch those movies on the go while avoiding the data usage costs that come with offline viewing.

CEO Reed Hastings responded to questions about the possibility of letting its subscribers watch shows offline by saying that they would “keep an open mind on all this”. Part of the reason Hastings gives for this open approach is the “uneven set of networks” that Netflix is noticing as they expand to new areas of the world.

With Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Neil Hunt, stating last year that they wouldn’t add the feature thanks to the “complexity [it brings] to your life”, directly followed by “with Amazon Prime”. Amazon Prime lets you download and stream shows, and with a new pricing model offering monthly subscriptions, Netflix may be changing their tone to help fight off the competition in the media streaming market.

With services like Sky Go, Amazon Prime and even BBC’s iPlayer letting you watch content offline, Netflix is one of the few services that doesn’t offer offline viewing, something that can often put people on or off services when their internet cuts out mid-show.

Amazon Prime Opts For Monthly Subs to Compete With Netflix

When it comes to video streaming service, there is currently a debate over which is best for you, Netflix or Amazon prime. With Netflix recently raising its prices, Amazon Prime looks to be a large contender thanks to some of the original content it now produces, but many are put off by the large upfront cost for the service. This could change as US users of the service could switch to a monthly service.

Previously Prime users had to pay a yearly subscription of $99, offering access to not only their fast delivery options but also Prime Video and Prime Music, the media providing aspects of the Prime service. The monthly subscription costs $10.99 a month if you wanted to keep all the benefits while if you only wanted Prime Video you could opt in for the $8.99 subscription.

With the yearly total costing you $131.88, a 25% increase overly the annual membership, users may want to take the monthly bundle around times like Christmas or large concentrations of birthdays, rather than using it as a go to package over the yearly service. It should also be noted that if you were to select the monthly subscription you won’t get the 25% prepayment discount that annual members of prime benefit from.

Facebook Messenger Introduces Dropbox and Video Chat Heads

Facebook Messenger is a system built to help communicate through the popular social network, but the latest features look to bring it closer to email with Facebook Messenger introducing dropbox features and even adding a chat head imagine to your video calls.

The dropbox features allow you to add in dropbox files just like you would add an emoji, the end result being the ability to go through files and directories on your dropbox system and send them just like you would any other file. Any photos or videos sent linked through the messenger will appear as if  you had sent them normally while other files will either be sent to download via the Dropbox app or as a hyperlink to download the file through the web.

Ever had a video call on Facebook messenger? Your entire screen filled with someone’s face, stopping you from contacting or responding to other messages. The new chat head feature will display your callers video in a little circle that you can place and drag around your screen, letting you get on with your browsing while you chat away. The feature could even support video chat amongst different applications and with both features set for release within the next few days, just watch out for the latest download.

Netflix to Increase Prices For 37 Percent of US Customers

Netflix has rapidly become a legitimate rival to traditional Television broadcasts and revolutionized the way we all watch video content. Instead of having to view your favourite programmes based on their pre-arranged listings, you can instantly access a huge library without adverts. Furthermore, exclusive programming such as House of Cards showcases the quality content, and value when subscribing to Netflix’s service. While there is competition from Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and others, none of these really compared to Netflix’s ability to offer a massive range of blockbuster films.

Unfortunately, price increases have been occurring on a regular basis which might deter some users from continuing their subscription. Furthermore, the company recently clamped down on users accessing the US library with a DNS or VPN. Annoyingly, consumers outside of the US often have to put up with a fairly restricted selection of TV shows which is down to licensing agreements. Once again, this is another reason why certain long-term subscribers might feel inclined to cancel.

Some time ago, Netflix announced that they would be increasing prices gradually and freeze the cost for current users for a limited time. The ‘grandfathering’ period has now expired which means that almost 17 million US subscribers protected by this scheme will face a price increase from $7.99 a month to $9.99. This follows a 50p price hike in the UK and it looks likely that the company will continue with this strategy especially for those purchasing the HD tier. Of course, acquiring the broadcasting rights to expensive programming is bound to cut into Netflix’s profit margins. It’s clear they want to offer the best possible library and form the new instant form of Television.

However, if the prices continue to rise and eventually cost more than a cable service, I’m not sure how many subscribers they will lose. In the USA, I don’t think it’s likely, but disgruntled customers outside of the US market might feel they’re receiving poor value due to the smaller library while paying a similar price.

FCC Says Netflix Throttling Itself Isn’t Against Net Neutrality

Recently the popular streaming service Netflix admitted that when it comes to mobile phones accessing their system, they reduced the video quality on most mobile networks to help avoid excessive data usage. This caused an uproar given Netflix’s stance on the topic was to support the concept of Net Neutrality (the idea being that all traffic on the internet is equal and, therefore, shouldn’t be prioritized or capped based on its content). It nows seems that the FCC have stated where they stand on the matter.

The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that the Federal Communications Commission had no intention of investigating the service for throttling its own streams. Critics of Netflix agree with the idea that the FCC’s ruling on net neutrality applies to internet service providers, those that provide the entirety of the internet to you rather than just a service within the internet. Even with this agreement, they want the company investigated, with Wheeler clarifying that they “do not regulate edge providers”. An edge provider in this case is what the FCC title online content providers, the ones that actually use the internet to provide a service rather than provide access to the internet itself.

This comes at a time when the FCC are openly investigating mobile providers for their internet usage systems, with companies like TalkTalk offering their Binge service, a service which allows you to stream unlimited amounts of content from select providers that have partnered up with TalkTalk.

Where do you stand? Should companies be allowed to reduce quality to ensure you get a smooth service without additional costs? Should they be allowed you provide you with “unlimited content” from select providers?

Sony To Offer 4K Streaming Service ‘Ultra’ From April

Rumours have recently been spreading saying that Sony would be working on a 4K variation of their PS4. Sadly it would seem those rumours were overblown but you could soon be watching 4K Videos on demand with Sony offering its streaming service from April.

The 4K films featured as part of ‘Ultra’, their streaming service, will retail at $30, including a selection of special features and will be available through Sony’s new 4K screens. Alongside their new films, people will be able to upgrade films they’ve purchased from Sony’s online store 4K versions at a “discounted” price.

Those with Ultraviolet movies will be able to enjoy them alongside their new films with the ability to link to their UV collections meaning that all those UV codes you’ve been adding to that account may finally see some use.

With 4K players costing upwards of hundreds of powers on their own, $30 a movie doesn’t seem that bad when you compare the prices. The limited collection of movies that will include the likes of The Walk, Concussion and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, may put people off but with it building upon Ultraviolet and other systems people may decide to skip the discs altogether and stick to streaming 4K content in order enjoy the latest quality in movie experiences.

Netflix Party Lets You and Friends Watch Netflix Together In Different Rooms

Remember those times you see a really good movie on Netflix and just want to watch it with a friend? If that has ever been you, you know that sometimes you can’t be in the same room to watch Netflix every time you find something interesting to watch. In this day and age being stuck in the same room to watch a film really shouldn’t be a problem, and Netflix Party looks to solve that problem.

Netflix Party is a google Chrome extension that will let you and friends watch Netflix from two different machines. Adding synchronised video playback you never have to worry about your friend being behind or in front of you, even during those embarrassing moments when the call of nature interrupts an action scene. Alongside the playback options, Netflix Party goes so far as to add a group chat to the side of the movie, meaning that if you wanted to discuss and talk during the film without microphones disturbing your experience, the option is there to write your opinions about the plot holes and characters without disturbing the experience for everyone.

You can find the extension here, and the official site has a three-step guide on how to start using the extension which we can summarise right here.

Step 1: Install the extension
Step 2: Open a video on Netflix
Step 3: Click the NP icon to start/join a Netflix party

Simple and enjoyable, just what we like to hear.

YouTube Looking To Go Live With YouTube Connect

YouTube is the name people think of when they hear about videos on the internet, and while social media like Facebook and Twitter have added video support, many still prefer to upload to YouTube and then share the video. One thing Facebook and Twitter do that YouTube can’t is to create live videos such as when someone decides that they want to start streaming straight to their audience. This may change though with reports about the new service: YouTube Connect.

VentureBeat may have stumbled across the new service, which seems to be targeted towards creating a live streaming platform for YouTube users. The feature is based around the ability to start streaming from your mobile phone, but there are other features such as the chat ability and even the ability to tag people and other accounts in the stream. A news feed will allow you to feature the latest clips from friends and subscriptions.

The live videos won’t just be locked to the app, with them simultaneously streamed to their YouTube channels as well, all the while they are saved so that in future someone can come back and catch up on your videos.

While YouTube does currently have live streaming the feature is noted as being in beta and limited as to who can access it, so maybe YouTube Connect will be their way of bringing the feature to the masses in the near future.

Ever Wondered What’s In Google’s Data Centres?

Google is known for a lot of things but the company was built on data, the storage and searching of information from all over the internet. Typically these things are locked behind closed doors but Google wants to show it all through an eight-minute video tour showing you everything you need to see in Google’s Data Centres.

First off you need security clearance, as even for Google employees the sites are normally locked down. After a small interview regarding all the different bits and systems that help ensure a 24-7 service of their systems. Stepping into the actual data centre requires more than just a pass as you need to get through a circle door locked by an iris scanner as part of the dual authentication.

Through the entire video, you can see how large a data centre is with it giving you just a small glimpse of the building. In an interview with Virginia, one of the people responsible for the network it’s revealed that a single building can support up to 75,000 machines while transmitting over a petabit of data per second.

They even go into detail about how data and drives are removed from the system. First, the drives are wiped only to then be placed in what is essentially a wood chipper designed just for hard drives.

Take the tour in the video below and see for yourself just how big a company Google is and how many steps it takes to protect both companies and customers data. Be warned though the video is a bit of an advert for Google’s cloud platform so it may be a little cheesy at times.

Netflix Admits It’s Been Throttling Video for Mobile Streamers for Years

People have always been wary of companies when it comes to mobile data, with rumours T-Mobile was throttling connections for videos that weren’t signed up for their binge service. This seems to be common practise though with Netflix coming out and admitting that it’s been throttling connections for years.

Mobile data is a big topic these days, with more and more people using their phones to connect and browse the web while on the go. These matters only get bigger when people begin watching movies or streaming shows on the morning commute to work.

With companies like Netflix accounting for 35% of internet traffic, you can’t help but feel like they have a responsibility to help people out avoid the large charges that companies place on data use. Netflix admits that it has been throttling streams at 600 Kbps for mobile services, that is unless you are with Sprint and T-Mobile who Netflix state “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies”.

AT&T weren’t overly happy, releasing the following statement:

“We’re outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs.”

To be fair to the company, Netflix is looking at becoming more data efficient, including the re-encoding of re-encoding of its entire media library entire media library in order to help shave off those extra Kbps that will cost you. If you think this is something new, the company stated that it has been doing this for more than 5 years in order to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps”.

No matter what you think of the company, no one seems to have noticed it before (can’t have been that big a deal could it?) and they were doing it for the right reasons so I don’t see how Netflix has done anything wrong other than not inform people before regarding the process.

Dying Light The Following Comes To GOG

Dying Light features you playing in the city of Haran, overrun by zombies, with a few safe havens separating the masses from the threat. In order to stay alive ‘runners’ do just as they are called, run. Running to and from drops with supplies and a preventative measure that helps those infected, users need to use every weapon and tool they can make and find in order to traverse the cityscape and survive the night. If that sounds like your cup of tea you can now find the Dying Light The Following on Good Old Games (GOG).

GOG is known for providing DRM (data right management) free games, removing the “online” required status that comes with many games (including some single player games). If you were worried that the four player co-op feature of Dying Light is lost if you get the game through GOG, do not fret. The multiplayer features of Dying Light will be available through GOG Galaxy, the new multiplayer system that GOG hopes will keep some of their more dated games viable for multiplayer well after the original servers and systems are offline.

If you were worried that the four player co-op feature of Dying Light is lost if you get the game through GOG, do not fret. The multiplayer features of Dying Light will be available through GOG Galaxy, the new multiplayer system that GOG hopes will keep some of their more dated games viable for multiplayer well after the original servers and systems are offline.

Featuring the basic game, the Following expansion and not one but four DLC’s including the Bozak Horde game mode, the game looks to promise you everything you need without shackles. For a limited time, the game also has 17% off, giving you the whole bundle for just £33.29.

You can find the game here, and we will see you on the rooftops.

Battlezone is Coming to VR on PC and PlayStation 4

Do you remember the iconic Battlezone? It’s certainly been a long time since I played it and even then, I think it was on an Amiga, perhaps even a Commodore64 when I did! The world isn’t short of HD remakes, remasters and rereleased, but it seems we have room for one more, as Battlezone is getting a full VR makeover on PlayStation VR and on Oculus Rift on PC.

I couldn’t think of a better place for Battlezone that VR, with the image of sitting down in your brightly coloured tanks whizzing around a map like a heavy-duty match of Mario Kart. As if the prospect of multiplayer isn’t enough, the team at Rebellion has released a new campaign trailer for the game, showing you just how much has changed in the game over the years.

“I think VR has an unfair reputation for just offering cool bitesize experiences, but we want to come out firing and deliver the kind of substantial content early adopters are crying out for. Obviously we’re hoping that Battlezone will be one of the first PlayStation VR games players buy, but we’re also designing it to be the one they return to time and time again… once VR has taken over the world of course!” Rebellion CEO and Creative Director Jason Kingsley.

 It’s certainly shaping up to be interesting, and with the developer touting procedurally generated as well as semi-randomized content so that each campaign is unique, so it should have some great replay value there too.
Are are you looking forward to Battlezone? Will you be playing it on PC or PlayStation?

Trailer Released for Fallout 4 – Automatron

Many of you have no doubt played Fallout 4, or like me, you’ve likely completed it too. Personally, I was more than a little disappointed with how the game ended, and felt little desire to venture out into the wasteland after the credits rolled, but with new content on the way, I may be convinced to pick up a Fat Man once again.

The new DLC is set to hit Fallout 4 just next week, and to celebrate, Bethesda has release their latest trailer, showing us a nice slice of what we can expect in a few days time.

The Automatron DLC will feature a new character called the Mechanist, who has released violent robots into the Commonwealth. Guess what the good news is? You get to go destroy them all! Not only can you unleash hell in the old gun-crazy fashion, but you’ll also be able to build your own robots, customise them, paint them, give them voices and hopefully more. If that doesn’t sound cool, then nothing does! We can’t wait to see what future DLC ideas Bethesda has come up with.

“The mysterious Mechanist has unleashed a horde of evil robots into the Commonwealth, including the devious Robobrain. Hunt them down and harvest their parts to build and mod your own custom robot companions” – Bethesda

Automatron is launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC on March 22nd, with a price of $9.99.

Quantum Break Receives a Launch Trailer

When I first saw the gameplay trailer for Quantum Break, I wasn’t necessarily too impressed. Sure, its graphics seemed pretty good and the gameplay had a few  innovative features, but overall it just looked like a regular third-person shooter that would have me kill one wave of enemies after another until I got bored. I’m pleased to say that I was most likely wrong on all accounts, as Quantum Break is shaping up to be a very interesting game, not just because it requires DirectX 12 but also because it has a well-written story behind its action-packed scenes. The game was developed by Remedy Entertainment and will be published by Microsoft Studios, which means that it won’t be arriving on Steam.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait too long until its official launch date, as Quantum Break is scheduled for an April 5 release for PC and Xbox One consoles. And since that date is almost upon us, the game’s developers have decided to treat us with a launch trailer, which features the renowned “Come As You Are” track by Nirvana. Even though this game is likely to push my PC to its limits, I’m really looking forward to playing it for a bit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU17_kd-e4w

Will you be picking up Quantum Break?

Facebook Acquiring The Masquerade App In Hopes Of Rivaling Snapchat

When it comes to socialising with technology, few haven’t heard of Snapchat. The popular mobile app has over five and a half million reviews average at 4 stars for the popular app. It looks like another social giant will be stepping into the ring though with Facebook acquiring the Masquerade app in hopes of stealing some of Snapchats thunder.

Masquerade (MSQRD) provides similar features to Snapchat, but like its name has a very particular focus. While Snapchat lets you “face swap”, taking your friends face and switching its place with your own, Masquerade can do that with a list of prepared “masks”. From a tiger or a monkey to your favourite celebrities, if you are a looking at swapping faces the App has what you need.

This is only Facebook’s first step, with plans being reported to integrate this technology into the Facebook toolset. Don’t worry if you are a user of Masquerade because the App will remain a free standalone app, it just means that you could soon swap out your friends faces for a monkey or Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars.

In a post on their website Eugene Nevgen, CEO of Masquerade, stated that even with they’re partnering with Facebook they will “keep adding fun features”.

Image courtesy of MaximOnline.Ru

Amazon.JP Delivering Japanese Video Games Worldwide!

We all like that new game smell. Opening up the post to find that new game, the case screaming for you to open it up and slide in the disk. Sometimes the game you want to play isn’t available in your country, a case that is most common with Japanese releases. Don’t worry, as Amazon.JP has started delivering Japanese video games worldwide.

With select games and even consoles now available for international shipping, you can enjoy some of those releases that you’ve missed out over the years. Currently, the offer only applies to items sold directly by Amazon.jp with international shipping.

In order to do this, you may want to view Amazon.jp in English, an option that you can find on the right-hand side of a product page (shown below).

With fair prices for games like Dark Souls 3 costing just ¥ 6,473 (around £41 without shipping), you could soon find yourself building up an international collection of games. Some consoles these days don’t care about the region of the game, for example, the PS4 and Xbox One while others you may have to reorder to enjoy the Japanese releases (the Wii U and 3DS among them).

Are you looking forward to ordering your first game from Japan? What games are you going to pick up? Tell us your experience in international games and delivery services in the comments below.

Quantum Break to Require Internet Connection

Quantum Break is set to be one of the biggest games to grace Windows 10 this year, and with the game using directX 12 (DX12) you will have to buy it through the app store. This may be a problem for some as those who purchased the rather silently released Gears Of War Ultimate Edition found that the game was more than lacking in terms of performance and stability. It may come as a shock to some then that the next nail in the Windows 10 gaming experience is the constant online connection that you will require for Quantum Break.

Why is this a big deal you may ask? The problem people will have with this is that the game is a single player game, requiring an online connection means that should your internet drop out or you want to play on the go you won’t be able to. The reason given by Microsoft is  that you will require a high-speed internet connection to enjoy the cutscenes in the game, which is considered story heavy.

It was recently revealed that the Xbox One version of the game will be 44.09GB in size, a whole 8GB more than the 36.18GB. It now seems that the size difference is because Xbox one will be downloading the video content as well, requiring only PC gamers to have a constant online connection. With the Xbox One video being limited to 1080p video files, a mere shade of the 4K content the PC will enjoy, some people will argue that for a single player game, downloading the video at a lesser quality may be worth saving the hassle of an always online connection.

First a bad release for Gears Of War and now the news that always online single player games are Microsoft’s hope for Windows 10 games, are you likely to pick up the game and if so do you think that Microsoft has done the right thing?

Youtube Adds Handy Blurring Tool to Video Editor

We all use Youtube. We watch everything from funny cats playing musical instruments to the latest music videos. The problem being is that once it’s uploaded to Youtube you can sometimes quickly find that you’ve left something important in. From your friends license plate, to maybe even your address or phone number on a piece of paper hiding in the corner of the screen. What could you do? For just that scenario Youtube has added a Blurring Tool.

While they previously had a blur tool, it was only really built for people who wanted to hide their faces, but now you can go all out and blur anything you feel might require a little bit of privacy. The cool part of the feature is it’s pretty much automated, all you need to do is draw a box around the part of the video you want to hide and the software will do it all for you. If that’s not what you were after you can just lock the box in place and blur even just a part of the screen.

Understanding that the tool has many uses, Amanda Conway, the privacy lead for this tool, stated that they “built the feature with visual anonymity in mind”. Blocking everything from number plates and faces to phone numbers and bank cards, the new tool could save people time with their post video editing.

Portal vs Half-Life: The Cake is Real!

If there is one thing Valve don’t like its the number 3. With fans waiting for Half-life 3 till it became nothing more than a joke, the eagerly awaited Left 4 Dead 3 being nothing more than rumours and even Team-fortress 2 looking to be the last in the line of releases. The one thing Valve do like doing, messing with physics. Nothing more so than in their ever popular Portal game series (again, a series of only 2 games). Of course, Valve mess with physics no matter what game you play, but physics means nothing when it comes to the cake!

The cake may not be a lie, as you can now even purchase the elusive cake from the Portal game series. When it comes to cake, people will do anything for a slice, from stealing that final slice to using portals and explosive barrels to get the whole thing for themselves.

In the fan-made video see Gordan Freeman from the Half-Life series fights off against Chell from the Portal series in order to gain that ever elusive cake.

It’s always nice to see fans do these kinds of videos, mixing up series and jokes into something that’s not only fun to watch but also good for a quick laugh. Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to grab some cake.

Six Minutes Walking Dead: Michonne Gameplay Released

The Walking Dead is a highly popular series whether we talk comic books, TV show, or games for various platforms and if I had been a little younger it would have been on of the franchises I’d be hooked on. I’ve moved on from this genre, but millions of fans haven’t and I bet they’re excited about this new video preview which only just was released. The Walking Dead: Michonne is a mini-series that will feature three episodes instead of the usual five which is why it is being classified as a miniseries instead of just a normal season label. The first episode is called In Too Deep and it scheduled for February the 23rd, although two days later when it comes to Android and iOS devices. The next two episodes in this miniseries, episodes 2 and 3, will then launch in March and April respectively.

The newly released video contains six minutes and eight seconds of goodness for fans of the Walking Dead stories and best of all, it doesn’t really contain any spoilers. It is shown in a slow pace that will allow you to follow even if you haven’t had your morning coffee yet and aren’t fully awake. It doesn’t show any of the difficult choices either that the Telltale games are renowned for, but it does offer a glimpse into Michonne’s state of mind.

The new game should fill some of the gaps for comic fans. It is set between the issues number 126 and number 139 where Michonne was absent. Michonne has been a very mysterious figure in the story and readers have long speculated on her past. It is quite possible that the new game will shed some further light on the character, at least if we go by this newly released video.

With the Walking Dead seasons 1 and 2 having sold over 50 million copies worldwide, there will be a lot of people itching to continue the story. And they can do just that in a little over a week, for now, here’s the video.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt HD Reworked Project Updated

The beauty of modding a game to improve the graphics is more often than not in the little details. Tweaking some lighting, smoke effects, adding better grass textures, making water look clearer, and so on. The Wicher 3 HD Project has been doing a lot of work to tweak and improve almost every aspect of the games textures and models, and while it already has a huge impact on improving the fidelity of this already fantastic looking game, it just keeps on getting better and better.

Modder ‘HalkHoga’ released the latest version of his HD texture pack for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. While not the biggest update in the packs history, version 2.6 helps improve some LOD issues with the rock in the game and while that doesn’t sound like much, it’s made a big difference in a game that’s heavily populated with rock and stone structures. To help even further, their textures have been improved and further optimized.

“Toadstools!” I hear you cry. OK, maybe not, but you’ll be thinking about being impressed (maybe) when you hear that Toadstool textures have been upped from 256×256/128×128 to a much more detailed 1024×512/1024/512. As I said before, the devil is in the details and when you start going through a game like this, all these little changes add up to a big visual impact.

If you want to upgrade to the latest version, or even install it for the first time, you can head over to the Nexus Mods page and grab the files, which can also be quickly installed using NMM too. If you want to check out even more mods for The Witcher 3, head on over to the main Nexus page and get downloading, there’s lot to choose from and you can really push the limits of the games graphics engine as far as you desire.

Super Bowl 50 Sets a New CBS Streaming Record

The Super Bowl is one of the most popular sporting events worldwide and continues to attract very large audiences. This year’s event was hosted at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area, and contested between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. According to broadcaster CBS, the average cost of a 30-second commercial during the game was a staggering $5 million. Unlike the majority of NFL games, the Super Bowl manages to create interest from new viewers outside of the US who aren’t overly versed with the rules. Perhaps, they want to see the half time show, adverts or simply intrigued by the spectacle. As a Brit, I don’t really follow American football, but the Super Bowl is always an interesting watch!

In terms of media coverage, the Super Bowl 50 was a resounding success and managed to attract a “record audience” streaming the game. Unfortunately, there’s no specific numbers from CBS to judge how many people tuned in, but it’s clearly broke last year’s figure of 800,000 viewers per minute. Even if you really dislike American football, this is an extremely impressive and exemplifies the importance of digital media. Part of this success is down to CBS encouraging streaming through various devices including the Apple TV, Roku Stick and Xbox One. It’s not unreasonable to think that streaming could take over from traditional TV broadcasts in the next 10-15 years. Technical problems during the stream might deter people from using it in the future, but organisers are becoming more aware of how to build the correct infrastructure for more viewers.

In an ideal world, I’d love to know the exact figures, because the Super Bowl provides an extreme example of consumers adopting streaming on a mass scale. Still, TV will reign supreme for some time, but people are now more open to streaming content online.

Image courtesy of TheAtlantic.com

Google Hangout is Going Peer-to-Peer

Google hangout is used for work and personal use, often fighting against Skype for dominant market use. With tweaks and improvements over the horizon, the next change is going to be fundamental to how Hangouts will communicate with each other.

Hangouts suffers from the fundamental flaw that most video and audio communications technology suffer from, the connections. A bad connection often means that video services have to lower the quality of your video and even the audio. Remember when you’re watching Netflix and suddenly realise you are staring at coloured blocks and crackly audio? That’s because the connection you’ve got to the Netflix library is a little bumpy. This is even worse with services like Skype and Hangout when the connection goes from yourself to your contact/s via the service’s own servers, this means you are running through a busy junction in order to reach your destination. Hangouts looks to change this though by going Peer to Peer (this means you will only ever create a connection to your intended contact/s when possible.

If you often use Hangouts you will notice a small change, possibly a large one if you frequently get a bad connection. Could this be the first step to Hangouts becoming the go to communications service for people over the likes of its competition?

Watch Blue Origin’s Rocket Landing from Vehicle’s POV!

The internet seems to love the videos of the technically amazing Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launching and landing again and we’ve seen quite a few videos of this and enjoyed them all. However, there’s one more angle you won’t have seen yet, as the team have released a point of view video from the rocket that gives you an awesome new look at the landing.

Blue Origin is led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who released a Vine of the second landing attempt which took place on January 22nd (video below). The shot was created using a camera which was mounted on the vehicle’s booster. The video (at the bottom of the this page) is only six seconds long, but keep in mind that this is because it was sped up from its normal speed. In the video, you can see New Shepard descend towards the launch pad, then deploy its legs, before landing a perfect propulsive landing technique.

This is an amazing technical achievement that simply cannot be understated. Not only did they launch the rocket into space and land it safely back on Earth, the most recent launch was the very same rocket, showing that their plans for a reusable rocket is making great progress. The project is destined to be a reusable rocket that can take passengers into sub-orbital space, where they’ll experience four minutes of weightlessness and if that’s not cool enough, they’ve got plans for bigger rockets already in the works.

The team is clearly making great progress, and with Space X and Virgin Galactic, to name but a few, all working on pushing new innovations to the world of space travel, the next few years are going to be extremely exciting.

Check out the video of the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket landing below and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Ceres Looks Amazing in NASA’s New Fly-By Video

NASA released a beautiful new video that shows a fly-by of the dwarf planet Ceres, so if you came here hoping for a video on the Danish beer named Ceres, you’re out of luck. This is however much better and shows a very close fly-by of this tiny planetary object. The new video is composed out of images made with NASA’s Dawn spacecraft and the simulated flyover was made by the mission’s camera team at Germany’s national aeronautics and space research center.

Before any of the conspiracy theorists come out and try to tell that the photos used to make this video have been manipulated, I can tell you that they have. The colours have been enhanced to make it more pleasant to watch and to show the subtle differences on the surface materials. The original non-enhanced photos would be quite boring to look at and scientists believe areas with shades of blue contain younger, fresher material, including flows, pits and cracks.

The images were captured during a phase that lasted from August 2015 to October 2015 where the spacecraft orbited Ceres at an altitude of just 1450 kilometers. Ceres is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but it wasn’t Dawn’s first stop. Dawn has previously orbiting the asteroid Vesta for 14 months back in 2011 and 2012 before it arrived at Ceres in March 2015.

While the photos for the video were taken from a very low orbit, the spacecraft is currently flying even lower while it is on its final mapping trip at about 385 kilometers height from the surface. That’s closer than the international space station is to earth.

“The simulated overflight shows the wide range of crater shapes that we have encountered on Ceres. The viewer can observe the sheer walls of the crater Occator, and also Dantu and Yalode, where the craters are a lot flatter,” said Ralf Jaumann, a Dawn mission scientist at DLR.

Batmobile’s and Titanic Unleashed in GTA V

Grand Theft Auto is easily one of the greatest games in the series so far, the stories are fun, the graphics are great and the game world massive! However, no matter how much fun the game was at release, the PC modding community aren’t going to just take a day off and leave this one alone. While ripping around in the stock vehicles is a lot of fun, modded cars are where the real action is at, especially when those vehicles are eight of the most iconic Batmobiles!

This incredible mod adds the Batmobile 1966, Batmobile 1989, Batmobile MK2, The Tumbler, The Batwing, Batmobile 2016, The Batpod and the Batmobile Asylum; that’s a lot of potential Batman action right there! These are really detailed too, with interiors on the vehicles, weapons systems where appropriate and even the jet boosters for when you really need to get out there quickly and fight crime… or cause crime, no one said you had to be Batman.

Check out the videos below for a look at the new cars, as well as a flight in the Batwing. If that doesn’t have you reaching for the nearest mod download site, nothing will.

Just when you thought you had seen it all in terms of vehicle packs, there’s one that’s just a little bit bigger than the Batmobile, ok, it’s a LOT bigger. If you’ve ever dreamed about taking the Titanic on a cruise around the islands in GTA V, then today is your lucky day, as one modder has brought the iconic ship back for you to cruise around in.

I must admit, nothing says ultimate billionaire adventure pack like a luxury cruise ship and a Batmobile, so what are you waiting for. Download the Batman Vehicles mod here, and the Titanic mod here.

Which iconic vehicles would you like to see modded into GTA V?