So, a long time ago, I found this, and thought it was hilarious.
Today, I found this, and discovered that the Excel e-sports “scene” is actually a thing.
So, a long time ago, I found this, and thought it was hilarious.
Today, I found this, and discovered that the Excel e-sports “scene” is actually a thing.
Or maybe Newell was suggesting that Valve plans to revive its Steam Machines program, getting behind a line of SteamOS-powered living room consoles once more. Given the quick market death of that effort, though, this is probably the least likely bit of speculation at the moment.
I think that Valve will, indeed, make a serious go at a console, running SteamOS (née, Linux), and I think the launch will coincide with the reveal of Half-Life Episode 3. I think they’ve been sitting on that pent-up demand to launch their console. I just think they had no idea they’d be sitting on it for 13 years and counting, now.
UPDATE: I just stumbled across a recent talk by Linus Torvalds, where he points out that he is already on record that Valve might be the one organization that could make “Linux on the desktop” a reality, because they will be obstinate about making a distribution that doesn’t make ABI-breaking package updates every few months. It looks like SteamOS is being updated — about once a year, but that sounds suspiciously as if plans to produce a proper SteamOS-based device has been discussed with him. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking. I’m very happy with my PS5, but I would love to see a Valve console come to market, for a lot of reasons.
Coming “early next year.”
Details on what that would actually entail are slim, and Sony’s announcement just says that the two companies are “hard at work connecting Discord with your social and gaming experience on PlayStation Network.” Whether that means a full-fledged Discord app coming to PlayStation consoles or a more limited integration (like connecting PSN and Discord accounts to more easily chat with friends off platform) has yet to be announced.
Sounds like the first shoe to drop in the disastrous situation I described in the last couple of paragraphs in this rant. Maybe they are going to get serious about integrating the system with more and more-interesting services…
Game-changing smartphone with unique console-inspired design delivers epic performance, unbeatable visuals, total gaming control and endless possibilities
So I just learned that ASUS makes a ROG-branded phone, which means that it’s marketed at highest-end gamers. Their web site boasts that the phone sports a “world-beating 2.96GHz speed-binned Qualcomm SDM845” CPU. For comparison, I checked the benchmarks. According to this website, the iPhone 12’s A14 chip is literally more than twice as fast. Apple’s lead in silicon is astounding, and will be insurmountable for years.
If you want to play games on a phone, there is no Android phone that can even hold a candle to an iPhone. Given the relatively few Android-exclusive games of note, I can’t figure why this would appeal to enough people to be profitable. (To be fair, the list of iOS-exclusive games is even less impressive, though.)
Control is a game that came free with Playstation Plus. I had heard relatively good things about it, but I know that PS+ games are the B- games that have run their course commercially, so I took this move with a grain of salt. Turns out that, like Red Dead Redemption 2, Control has a great game buried in there, underneath all the really terrible parts.
Control has a great X-Files-like vibe. Very atmospheric and moody. Very surreal and mysterious. It’s a great new intellectual property space. Or, at least, it will be, if Remedy ever makes another game based on the franchise. The story is great.
Control has an interesting gun play system. There’s no reloading, but there’s a pause while the gun reloads itself, so it’s all the same thing. Plus, the button that most games would use for reloading swaps between the 2 active weapon morphs in play, and muscle memory frequently leaves me hanging with the wrong weapon effect at the worst time.
That’s… about all the good I can say about it. I’m sure other people have done enough actual reviews, but I’ll give it a short run down:
I could chalk all the shooting mechanics up to taste, and put up with it for the story, but the last point just does the game in. I just tried the game again, and the ONLY way I can find to go forward to my objective is to go through an area that’s just too tough for me. I’ve failed to get through it twice, and there just didn’t seem to be a way to get it done. But I wandered around for 15 minutes, and concluded that this is, in fact, where I should be going, so I tried — and failed — for a third time, with literally no idea how I could deal with it.
I looked for a difficulty setting, and found that it has cheats. Well, that makes sense. So I activated them, and tried again. Despite aim snap, I was about to die for the 4th time, so I just went ahead and activated god mode. I got through the area, and found another control point, but there’s no where to go. Here’s what I see:
And here’s what the map is showing me at that point:
I don’t know where to go. I have an optional mission selected, and there’s no indication where that is. If I activate the “main” mission, the map indicator is in the ??? area to the northeast of my position. I cannot interpret what this is telling me, there’s no indication on how I can get where I need to go, and I can’t find any way through this section. I’m quite literally stuck, and I’m really tired of putting up with video games that force me to do a search and read some article to get past every other difficult part. At this point, I’m just going to delete the game, and hope that Sony gives Remedy access to the fact that this player quit playing the game at 18% completion, and uninstalled it, even though the game was free. That’s how big of a fail it is.
Tangentially, while trying to get the screenshots off the console, I found that it takes 4 non-obvious clicks to get to the media library, and there’s only one option for a service to upload the images with: Twitter. Really, Sony? Really? There must be a dozen prominent image sharing sites, and the only option is Twitter? Screw Twitter. Especially for sharing screenshots! And screw Sony for making that the only option. I had to resort to a USB stick. Ew.
Additionally, you can only share recorded video to YouTube or Twitter. You can only livestream to Twitch. Nothing about these options makes sense. Sony must expand these options with an update. I’m sure it’s all about the Benjamins. Sony was probably looking for kickbacks to include other services here, and no one donated, so they were forced to give us one option. Sony needs to suck it up, now that the console has launched, and move on. There’s no excuse for a lack of options for any of these ways of sharing. They need to make it like an iPhone, were you can connect your console to a service, and it becomes a “destination” to which you can share anything. (Well, I mean, they do, but they need to give us a lot more options.)
I’ve been continuing to play through Skyrim on my PS5, and enjoying the extra graphical power. Someone has released some mods that allow you widen the field of view, and crank up the FPS to 60 (or unlimited). Since I’m stuck at 1080p for now, naturally, it works great, and still never slows down, even with the environmental mods. I’ll be very eager to try it at 4K@120FPS some day, but, for now, it’s a very welcome addition.
Someone pointed out that Fallout 4 (which is based on the same engine) can’t be modded this way. It needs to actually be patched by Bethesda to allow for this sort of thing. Here’s hoping that they do this. 60 FPS really is quite an improvement. I played a couple of seconds of Fallout 4, and quickly decided that I won’t be doing any more of that until the mod happens.
I’m moving my office back to the basement, and taking the opportunity to thin-out my collection of “stuff.” In the process, I’ve thrown out 2 bags of old computer parts, and I’m going to pitch at least one old computer. As part of the process, I’m wiping 4 hard drives before I chuck them in the bin, as I don’t know what’s on them. To do this, I hooked up the old PC which I used to abuse myself with ESO, and started to wipe one of them.
Then something happened to my audio. None of the audio in my monitor works any more, and my headphone amplifier — which had displayed intermittent problems before — now has a permanent, horrible ground noise. It’s like there was an electrical surge through the HDMI audio channel that blew up the monitor’s audio circuit, and then skipped over my analog mixer, and finally killed my headphone amp, which has been making ground noise intermittently for quite a while now.
Even with all I understand about engineering, electricity, audio, and computers, none of that makes sense. First, I wouldn’t think it would be possible to overload an audio channel’s circuitry over HDMI. There just has to be some sort of grounding to prevent this. Secondly, even if it did pass enough current to fry the amplifier circuit in my monitor, surely it couldn’t have hopped through the output, over the analog mixer, and then (finish) frying the (dubious) headphone amplifier.
After my decidedly un-Christian tirade that followed trying to sort out what was working and what wasn’t, I went looking again for the current news about the forthcoming, HDMI 2.1 Asus ROG PG32UQ. According to the Verge, when it debuts in Q2 2021, we should expect an MSRP of around $900. That’s pretty salty, but I’m ready.
Asus is selling their 27″ version of the ROG Swift line on Amazon for $2,400! Or $1,200, but I can’t tell the difference between the PG27UQ and the XG27UQ, which literally doubles the price. Both of these choices are significantly more than the Verge’s estimation that the 32″ will cost $900, which is scary.
What’s really fascinating here is that the Verge reports that Acer has just released the Nitro XV28, which supports HDMI 2.1, but Amazon doesn’t have a single listing for that model number. According to Acer’s press release about the Nitro, they aren’t shipping until May. There are 3 models in the family, at $900, $1,100, and $1,200 price points, but there’s no real indication on that page what the differences in price are getting you.
What in the world is going on with monitors these days? I can go to Sam’s Club, and take home a 70″ 4K TV for, like $500! I don’t understand what the extra money is buying me. The widely varying prices on monitors seem to be due to the HDR part of the specs. Getting a good implementation seems to be eye-wateringly expensive. All seem to support HDR 400, which everyone seems to agree is basically like not having it at all. Given that I’ve never had it for 25 years of gaming, it seems like I can live without it until it becomes sanely affordable.
I don’t understand what’s so hard and confusing about this, and it’s precisely why I’ve gotten away from PC gaming. The same sort of relief I felt in moving from Gentoo Linux to Ubuntu, and then experienced again in moving from Linux to macOS, is what I’ve felt in moving to using a console for gaming. It’s just SO much less hassle. Up till now, I haven’t had to spend time educating myself on niggling details between unnecessarily-similarly-named models.
I’m going to try to hold out for a 32″ model of some kind, but if Amazon is correct, and the ROG 27″ is $2,400, only God knows how much it will cost. It’s clear that 27″ is a sweet spot in LCD manufacturing. I may have to give in on that. In any case, it looks like I’m going to have to wait 3 or 4 months to finally figure this out. Again, I don’t understand that. The monitor manufacturers have known about the next-gen console specs for years. You would think that they would have been more on top of this, instead of waiting 6 months after their launch.
I just note, for the record, and with no small amount of satisfaction, that Red Dead Redemption 2 didn’t even make the list. It’s only an honorable mention. It’s not that it was completely terrible in all aspects, of course, but I contend it will eventually be seen as one of the most overrated and over-hyped AAA titles to ever hit the market.
I keep promising myself that I’m going to finish Spider Man and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but I’ve been playing through Skyrim. Again. Yeah, I know. A 10 year old game being played on a 7 year old console, now playing on a PS5. But that makes it a good benchmark, because I’m so familiar with it now. Skyrim on the PS4 plays alright, but will skip frames if you turn really fast.
Of course, I had several mods installed. However, they were only gameplay mods. I had tried some graphics enhancement mods, but they slowed down the game. Not terribly, but noticeably. So I took them back out.
When I installed the game on the PS5, I saw the graphics mods in my list and thought, why not? I installed all of the popular ones for lighting, weather, fog, and water. I’m happy to report that Skyrim on the PS5 now looks quite a bit better, and never skips frames. I know this isn’t a proper demonstration of what the hardware can do, but it’s just nice, you know?
I finally got a Playstation 5, thanks to Best Buy and Twitter. The new hardware can apparently do 4K at 120Hz over HDMI 2.1. I have a monitor that I use at 4K@60Hz over DisplayPort for my Mac, but it can only do 4K@30Hz over HDMI. So I went looking for a new monitor. The problem is that what I want doesn’t seem to exist. I can’t find a single model in the 30-inch range that can do 4K@120Hz. There are a lot that do 1080, and many that can do 1440, but if there are any that can do the full 2160, I can’t find them. What I don’t understand is that there seem to be a lot of big screen TV’s that can do 4K at 120Hz. Why aren’t they making them in desktop monitor sizes? I guess I’ll have to wait and hope that the new-gen gaming consoles push the market to make them.
UPDATE: I’ve been able to find a few select models that will do 4K@60Hz in a 32″ size, but, so far, none of the them support HDMI 2.1. Only 2.0. I’m not buying until I can find a unit that satisfies all the display features of the PS5.
UPDATE: Aha! My prediction about the next-gen consoles pushing the market was spot on. Asus — from whom I’ve bought all of my monitors for years, now — has just announced a new model, the ROG Swift PG32UQ, and it was covered just 3 days ago. It supports HDMI 2.1 and HDR and 4K@120Hz.
At the time of this writing, Amazon has listings for the 25″, the 43″, and a 34″ models. The 43″ is listed at $1,100, but I don’t want to go bigger than about 34″, and that one is being listed by some 3rd-party scalper at $1,600. (Good job, buddy.)
B&H lists them as a new item, “coming soon,” for $800, and that seems correct, but then I notice that it’s a ROG Swift PG32Q (not “UQ”), and the specs say it only supports HDMI 2.0, and I’m right back where I started. Why is this so hard? Researching further, this article says that the UQ version will be available starting at the end of the first quarter. Sigh.
Note bene: This means that all three listings on Amazon for the “UQ” model are fraudulent. They can’t possibly be that model yet. Nice, Amazon. Really keeping up your reputation here.
Anyway, I guess that will give me time to recoup from the PS5 itself, and get my tax return…