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# Monday, 31 March 2014

The Acer W4 and other 8" Intel Atom "Baytrail" tablets are interesting little things. They're small, compact, yet they run on x86 processors. And the obvious thing which you'd want to do on an x86 is to play games on it! Playing games on a keyboardless device in the Modern UI is not an issue, but when it comes to games that run on the desktop such as via Steam or what not, here are a few tips to help you get the best gaming experience out of your device.


Gaming | Gear
Monday, 31 March 2014 11:01:31 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 17 August 2013

Let’s follow up on my PC Gaming adventures. First of all here are the specs of my rig.

  • Intel Core i5 2.8GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • ATI 5700

It’s nothing too special, other than the fact that it’s plugged into a TV

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Now if you’re wondering why there’s a disc taped to the front of the system, when you have a little infant who finds daddy’s screams of terror when he accidentally shuts down the PC funny, you too would want to make sure it’s not that easy to push the power button!

The primary game controller used is of course the Razer Sabertooth.

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It’s really nice that most PC game developers understand the need to support the XBox Gamepad, an added plus is that when you run Steam in Big Picture mode, the guide button becomes the Shift-Tab hot key which you’d usually press on the keyboard so you can still access most of Steam’s functionality with only the Gamepad, neat!

Then I needed to handle the fact that I’d want to use my Turtle Beach PX5 on the PC.

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I wanted to use the Optical Jack on the PC, but then I realized that I’ll have to remember to toggle quite a few settings to get the sound piped through the TV again. And that’s not good for one simple reason.

My Wife!

This is because my office room is also the room my wife uses to placate little WH if he wakes up and refuses to go back to sleep at night, so she’ll come to my room and use the TV to try and get him to sleep again. At this time, WH is usually, crying, screaming, squirming, etc. etc. Basically everything that would piss off and stress out a mommy who have just been woken up. Imagine how would she feel if upon turning on the TV and playing some videos and no sound comes out of the TV to soothe WH?

So I had to look for an alternate solution, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro

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Yes, this is basically a USB sound card. And more importantly, it’s a USB sound card with an OPTICAL PORT

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So why does this help my situation? When you set a USB sound card as your default sound device in Windows, the moment it is disconnected Windows will automatically pipe sound back through your internal Sound Card, and whenever you plug the USB one back in, it becomes the default sound device again. This makes it very easy for me to switch between output to the TV or to my headset, all I have to do is plug the USB in and I’m good.

Of course I’m quite aware that USB audio cards might have latency or other performance based issues, haven’t felt anything noticeable for now though.

As I started playing Payday 2, I realized I needed to get voice chat working or I’d never be able to play effectively. I tried all manner of cable converters to plug the PX5 Xbox 360 connection into the X-Fi’s mic jack, but none of them seem to work the way I’d like them to. Until I got fed up and just plugged the jack into the Sabertooth, at which point Windows made the familiar Hardware Inserted sound and… *poof* a new mic input device appeared for the headset of the Sabertooth…

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And it works exactly like intended, just like on the Xbox 360! The driver support package which MS gave the Xbox 360 controller is amazing!!! In fact, you can even set your PC sound to output through the XBox 360 headset. Though it’s at a VERY VERY poor bitrate though.

The Journey Continues…


Gaming | Gear
Saturday, 17 August 2013 23:46:30 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 20 July 2013

I recently dove back into PC Gaming, there were 2 main factors that influenced this decision.

First of all was the XBOX One was announced to have some severely crippling controls that would spell certain doom for parallel import players like me, and even though they decided to revert back to the current XBOX 360 control model, I can’t help but be slightly shaken by that.

Secondly was The Walking Dead, when I bought the Humble Bundle for Telltale games SPECIFICALLY to get The Walking Dead, I didn’t realize that it was Steam ONLY. Therefore I had to go back to using my dormant Steam account, one thing lead to another and I ended up with some more games in my Steam account.

So here’s what I feel so far after a few months of PC gaming.

The Good!

Cheaper Games! If you’re not chasing to play games immediately on their launch date, you most likely can get it cheaper after a few months, most likely on Steam. But a good site to keep tabs on stuff is through CheapShark.

More Variety! There’s a nice thriving Indie game scene on the PC, you’ll be able to find a lot of strange, quirky, and possibly entertaining games to play. But these games are not without their problems, for one thing, some of them might lack a lot of the iterated polish you’ll see in a proper retail game, this might make the game very unfriendly to newbie players or casual gamers who are not familiar with typical gaming tropes. One of the worst problems you might find if you’re unfamiliar with this is ending up buying a game that’s partially complete in which the developer swears they’ll constantly work on and improve it, you just gotta give them some faith and time. I’m not saying this is a BAD thing, but this might give the wrong idea to people unfamiliar with such a concept.

XBOX 360 Controller Support! The gold standard for a controller, thankfully most of the PC developers realize that they need to support the XBOX 360 controller which makes it much more comfortable in most scenarios. If you’re going to game on a keyboard though, it’d be highly recommended that you go for a keyboard which allows you to press multiple keys at a time since most normal keyboards will only detect about 3 or 4 simultaneous key presses.

The Bad!

Hardware Compatibility/Peformance Problems! While this is much less of an issue than it was a few years back, one thing that you must always be aware of when playing PC games is hardware compatibility and performance issues. At times you might run up with issues where games might not work properly because of certain hardware configuration in your PC, or maybe there’re some driver issues, or maybe it’s just your processor. Unlike a console you can’t just start a game and hope that it works perfectly all the time, you must be prepared to search for solutions and maybe even get your hands dirty to hack at some system settings just to get it to work. And most importantly, please don’t expect ANY system to be able to play ANY game, if your PC wasn’t spec’ed for game playing purposes you most likely won’t be able to deal with most big name titles.

The Ugly

Region Lock! I always thought that the PC gaming world was a free market, and yet the other day I was meant with a message from Steam saying I couldn’t enjoy the super cheap offer on Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition because the offer was not for my region..


Saturday, 20 July 2013 20:57:44 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 25 May 2013

This is my Nintendo 3DS XL

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The amount of games I play on it is quite surprising considering it’s a portable dinky little console, in fact the only reason I upgraded from my original Nintendo 3DS to this XL one was because not only did I wanted WZ to be able to see me playing properly on it but also because the fantastic, funky, hot games coming out for it in the next few months are just too much!

But even with all this love for the Nintendo 3DS, one thing that Nintendo managed to do both right and wrong at the same time is their implementation of a digital purchases, their Nintedo e-Shop.

So what do they manage to get right? Let’s take a look at the stuff which I bought from the e-Shop (Using the prepaid cards purchased from Play Asia, since it’s almost I haven’t been able to attach a Malaysian CC to the account)

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Everything after the 3rd column are downloads from the e-Shop, and everything without the word DEMO on it are things I bought from the e-Shop. And this is what Nintendo get’s right, in addition to e-Shop only mini games like Liberation Maiden and Starship Damrey, retail games like Adventure Time and Art Academy 2 can also be purchased on LAUNCH DAY. Nintendo seems to be quite committed to selling games in both retail and digital form, and that’s great!

But then in typical Nintendo form, for all the good which they’re doing they just HAD to go screw up the platform some how. It’s goes like this, all those games you saw just now, and also the balance in my e-Shop account?

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The USD43.07 balance? They’re not tied to any form of online ID, they’re tied to the CONSOLE ITSELF!!!

To put it simply, when you loose an iPod, or a phone, you can just sign in to your account and redownload you apps and stuff.

Nintendo in their effort to make it easy (probably) and user friendly decided that creating an account was too much of a hassle an just linked everything to your 3DS. I’m gonna guess that all the people in the team who came to this decision

  • Don’t have children
  • Never broke a device by dropping it
  • Never lost a device

It’s RIDICULOUS to assume that a person is never gonna have any accidents with the 3DS which results in ALL the e-Shop downloads AS WELL as e-Shop balances being lost. It also means that a heavy e-Shop user’s 3DS might be worth a LOT!

After coming to this realization, I have decided that any retail games that I would want to play all the time (Animal Crossing) and games which WZ might play I’ll buy the e-Shop version (cause I don’t trust WZ to swap cartridges properly!) Everything else I’ll buy the physical cartridge except when I can’t… like.. Ace Attorney…

God damnit Nintendo, get your act together!


Saturday, 25 May 2013 16:50:25 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 17 May 2013

I really need to remember that if I’m in DESPEREATE need for Nintendo Prepaid Cards, Play Asia while being a reputable store seem to have some funky handling algorithm. In fact I do believe that it might be some MANUAL process, since you can get the code almost instantly if you buy it during normal office hours at GMT+8 but after that… it’s a looooong wait…

It’s all Nintendo’s fault!

ps. Don’t buy stuff too close to midnight, banks run batch processes then and most likely CC processing will get delayed!


Friday, 17 May 2013 23:57:15 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 02 April 2013

After the whole fiasco with the Hori FPS Assault Pad and the spectacular failure of the Razer Onza part of me was a bit cautious about getting another ‘Better than the standard controller’ controller. But I did.. and here it is.. the Razer Sabertooth.

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One of the reason I decided to even consider buying the Sabertooth is the fact that unlike the Assault Pad and the Onza, no where in any of the reviews online did I see the line “It’s kinda big.” in their reviews. It was also proven to be correct when I first picked it up and my hands didn’t feel like cramping up!

When I first held it in my gaming grip, it had the familiarity of the stock Xbox 360 controller, didn’t feel too big or small. Felt as if I was holding the stock controller.

And that’s a GOOD thing, because the stock 360 controller has a very good feel when you hold it.

The other immediate improvement was with the position of the extra mappable buttons, you get 2 on top nested deep inside between the bumpers and the triggers.

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And FOUR under the controller

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Basically the bottom switch is a loose see saw that can tilt towards either side so you can 2 buttons for each switch.

The impressive thing about these buttons is the fact that previous pads like the Onza put the extra buttons too close to the normal buttons, which meant that by sheer muscle memory it would be VERY LIKELY for you to hit the buttons when you didn’t want to.

But on the Sabertooth, it less of a problem depending on how you press the bumpers. For me I’d hit the bumpers using the middle of my index finger, I don’t actually press it with my finger tip. The extra top button is positioned in such a way that it’s at my index finger tip instead of my knuckle so I wouldn’t accidentally press the extra button.

The bottoms buttons have no standard buttons to get in the way of, and I don’t feel that they get in the way of my small hands. Might be a problem for those with bigger digits, so I guess that’s why Razer provided the ability of removing the bottom buttons if you don’t need them.

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Once you remove the button, you get a hole like the indention on the left, Razer was nice enough to give some rubber stoppers to block the holes like the one on the right. The problem is that I just couldn’t seem to press them into the hole tight enough and kept feeling that they were going to fall off. The other interesting issue was that as I was squeezing the stoppers in, the joystick gave out loud creaking noises…

Like the Onza the face buttons of the Sabertooth are still the good old caps ontop of micro switches with minimal travel distance

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The D-Pad is now four normal looking buttons instead the weird pie slice on the Onza.

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Unfortunately because it is still four separate buttons, it still doesn’t work very well for sweeping motion ala Street Fighter. Basically it’s hard to get a Hadoken on, let’s not even talk about a Shoryuken!

The analog sticks on the Sabertooth feels just right to me, not too loose, not too tight. The caps have a slight bumpy dot texture on them.

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But if you really want better grip on the tips, Razer was kind enough to provide two grippy silicon joystick caps for you so you can have a better grip on the sticks if you want.

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Let’s talk about the special features of the Sabertooth, the first thing to talk about is of course the OLED screen that sits at the bottom of the stick.

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This is probably one of the reasons why the Sabertooth is so expensive! But it allows for some interesting features to be implemented because the screen is used to show more information to the user.

The first obvious function is the ability to map the six extra buttons to any other BUTTON on the stick.

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Yes, you heard right you can map ANY button to the extra buttons, including the Start and Back buttons as well as the triggers. Very useful indeed!

You are also able to adjust the sensitivity of the thumbsticks.

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You can set sensitivity in the range of –10 to +10. As I mentioned in my Hori FPS Assault Pad review, joysticks report values as how far it’s pushed to the edge where the center is 0% and the edge is 100%.

To further explain how joystick sensitivity tuning works we’ll need some diagrams!

Normal

The picture above represents how far the joystick is from the edge, so the left edge is the joystick in the neutral position, and the right edge is when you push it fully to either direction. The picture above depicts how a normal joystick reports how much it’s pushed to the game, so normally when the stick is at rest it reports 0% and when it’s pushed to the edge it reports 100%.

When we set the sensitivity to +3 this is what happens to your joystick range

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The point where the joystick tells the game that it’s been pushed to 100% get’s drop to around 70% of its full range. This in theory would let you hit full turning speed in FPS games much more faster. Would this give you a edge? Well I’m not that competitive a gamer to know. Smile with tongue out

Then if you set sensitivity to +7 you get the results below

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So all you have to do is nudge the joystick a little and you get to move at full speed!

So that’s what the POSITIVE sensitivity values do to the stick, so what about NEGATIVE values? Let’s take a look at the setting of –3

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What happens when you set the sensitivity to a NEGATIVE value is that the maximum reported distance of the joystick gets dropped, so even though you might be pushing the joystick all the way it’ll only report 70%. This is helpful when you need to move something slowly and you can’t trust yourself to not just slam the stick into the corner ie. When you’re staring down a sniper scope.

A value of –7 would yield the following range

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And for some reason, the setting of –10 yields a range of 0% to 0%. It's either that, or because the reported range falls within the deadzone region of the games I was testing on.

Since you might not want the sensitivity as –5 all the time, the Sabertooth have 2 profile slots for settings. Swapping profiles can be done easily by pressing the profile button. But if you’re going to do it on the fly while playing, note that you’ll need to press it TWICE to swap. The first push brings up the profile menu, the 2nd actually changes the profile

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One more not so obvious feature which the Sabertooth has is the ability to access a diagnostic menu and display the current values reported by the analog sticks (Reported values are not influenced by the sensitivity settigns)

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This is important to competitive players, because after time the analog sensors on the sticks might deteroriate and give false reading or values, or they might be worried that they’re victims of a slow-turn joystick. So with this onboard test menu it’s extremely easy to confirm that your stick are all working properly.

Having used the Razer Sabertooth through Bioshock Infinite, I must say it’s not too bad at all. Not having a cramp inducing shape helps alot of course, but the fact that the mappable buttons are pretty much out of the way and being able to quickly and accurately adjust joystick sensitivity. I would definitely recommend the Razer Sabertooth without reservation…. if only it didn’t cost so much! The price will definitely cause concern to potential buyers and the features while great still doesn’t make it an absolute must buy yet.

That said if the only other controller you’re thinking of getting is the Razer Onza? No man… just say no to Onza!


Gaming | Gear
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 10:18:00 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 24 November 2012

So... after the device quality disaster that was the Razer Onza (The thumbsticks would go out of whack after awhile) I can't believe I decided to go ahead and buy yet another specialty joypad, this time it's the Hori FPS Assault Pad EX.

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First of all.. like the Razer Onza, this thing feels a bit big for my small Asian hands, was cramping about 10 mins after using it. (need to add more insight)

Like the Razer Onza, the Hori Assault Pad gives you 2 additional remappable shoulder buttons.

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The original bumper is the higher one, like with the Razer Onza, you'll need a while before you can get use to the extra button.

Unlike the Onza, not only can you remap the 2 additional shoulder buttons to the face buttons or bumpers you can also remap the TRIGGERS as well. But it surprises me that you can remap the original bumpers as well.

Also unlike the Onza is the fact that there's no way to see WHAT button something is mapped to, and also there's no way to remap it quickly on the fly. Because remapping a button involves holding the PROGRAM button until a green light pops up.

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Press the button you want to remap, and then press the button you want to map to.

The controller also includes a freaking bright blue brag light, which changes to red whenever the rumble motors engage.

The blinding light is easy enough to disable, all you have to do is hold down the back button for a few seconds and it'll turn off.

And now we move on to the other specialty of the Assault Pad, the sensitivity wheel located below the D-Pad

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This wheel controls the sensitivity of the right thumbstick, although it's a bit wrong to say it's a sensitivity control due to how a joystick works compared to a mouse. While a different DPI rating for a mouse would influence how many pixels would be cross when you move the mouse by a centimeter, a joystick doesn't do that.

Joysticks basically just report how far away they are from the center of the stick, where the center is 0% and the edge is 100%, So how would you implement a sensitivity dial for a joystick then? The dial basically changes how soon the stick reports that it's at the edge, the setting of 1 is normal, and the max setting of 7 means you just have to push the stick ever so slightly and it'll report as if it's been fully pushed.

I don't find this sensitivity dial of any particular usefulness though.

The next important feature of the Assault Pad is the Target button. Located underneath the controller near where the D-Pad is

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When you hold down the target button, The right thumbstick's motion will be limited to about 25%, so you can push the stick very quick and fast but it'll result in slow movements.

While this sounds GREAT on paper (and it was what made me decided to buy it) when used in Halo 4, this works like an emergency brake button for the right stick, when held down the reticle moves painfully slowly. I wished there was a dial to customize exactly what is the limit when you hold down the button, but there isn't one, so it feels like a wasted opportunity.

One more thing about the Assault Pad is that you can screw in taller sticks for the thumbsticks.

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That's the tallest stick, how useful is this? Well, when I use the medium sized one my hand feels like dying after only 1 minute instead of the usual 5 when I'm using the default height. Extremely NOT useful for small hands.

And that's the gist of it, like the Razer Onza, the Hori FPS Assault Pad is just TOO big for my hands, the distance between the edge of the controller and the right thumbstick really hurts my hands, that and the fact that the 2 main selling points of controlling joystick sensitivity doesn't really work well practically serves will serve as a reminder for me that I should not buy any more 3rd party controllers which everyone has mentioned that it's a bit big.


Saturday, 24 November 2012 15:43:57 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 11 April 2011

Just decided to drop into my Halo player profile page, and what a coincidence!

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888 games.. I should buy 4D! or.. 3D!


Monday, 11 April 2011 10:12:26 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 31 January 2011

This is an XBOX360 Wireless Controller.

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On the box, this is ALSO called an XBOX 360 Wireless Controller

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There are some slight differences along with a special transforming D-Pad feature. But let's get the subtle stuff out of the way, on a normal pad's analog stick, there are 4 dimples to indicate directionality.

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On the transforming controller, the surface of the analog stick is smooth but with a little pit right in the middle of it.

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Ok it's not exactly smooth, there's an ever so slightly gripy texture on the surface of the stick to ensure your thumbs don't just go flying off the thing. But not so gripy as to put all the grip pad manufacturers out of business.

The other obvious difference are the face buttons, where as this is the normal one.

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Buttons are marked with letters and color coded. Now for the transforming controller (seriously… why no special name?)

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Notice it's a mono tone design, and the X is BARELY visible! So… if you're the type of person that still has to look at the controller for the right colored button or letter when the game tells you to push it, you might have a slight problem.

And now for the main event. The D-Pad, this is the normal D-Pad.

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Some gamers call it Worst D-Pad EVER! Basically because instead of a cross which presses in like a button, you get a disc which tilts. Which is probably causes the majority of the complaints that the D-Pad isn't accurate. Personally I never had too much of a problem with it. Here's the D-Pad of the transforming controller in disc mode.

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By gripping and turning the cross key in any direction the grey colored rounded edges sink into the pit, leaving you with…

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A distinct cross key, so your thumb doesn't need to guess where the major directions are.

And now for the little problem I have with this. When I first heard about this controller, I thought when the corner edges are sunken the cross key would then function like buttons instead of tilting the entire D-Pad. But when I got home and took the controller out of the box and pressed it around in cross key mode, it feels slightly different. But it's still a tilt. Trying out a few games like SSF4, Ikaruga and Pac Man CE DX and I can't say wheter or not in cross key mode it is better than a normal D-Pad.

This is probably because MECHANICALLY the transforming D-Pad is probably the SAME as the normal D-Pad, the only change was that instead of a single plastic disc that forms the D-Pad area, what we have is a 2 part cap that's able to convert when necessary.

The OBVIOUS difference would be that your thumb can actually feel the major directions, and maybe for big thumbs, now that the corners aren't there you won't accidentally hit a corner?

If you're looking for a controller bundled with a battery pack plus play and charge cable to add to your console I'd say you can consider this, since it is still a normal controller. UPDATE : In light of recent events I must downgrade my recommendation from buy it if you want to to NOT A RECOMMENDED BUY. What's the recent event?

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Yes, you're seeing it right, the whole D-Pad SNAPPED off from it's controller stem.. It might have been weaker because it's a thinner rod than the normal one to allow it to spin. And I guess I must have snapped it after a particularly intense Super Meat Boy test session. I hope this falls under the normal warranty claim…

But… if you're hoping that the D-Pad actually works radically different from the normal D-Pad, you might want to test it out first before buying it. The converting D-Pad is a nifty feature but it doesn't really feel all that different to me.


Monday, 31 January 2011 00:39:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [4]  | 
# Saturday, 20 November 2010

For record keeping purporses, and also as a reference post if god forbid the sensor comes crashing down one day. This is how I mount my Kinect sensor.

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The sensor is mounted on the top of your typical flat screen TV. I was going to make a stand using instructions provided here, when I encountered 2 problems.

The first was that the top grills behind my TV ran the full length of the TV, so there’s no center spine area to put the tape on. Therefore I resorted to the use of a smaller tube.

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I’m guessing some Asian parents should be familiar with this nutmeg oil can, it’s diameter was just the right size to angle the platform. Speaking of which, the 2nd problem was the platform.

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Surprisingly I couldn’t find a simple no entry sign, or anything like that in the ACE Hardware I went to. I saw lots of STICKERS, but no signs. I ended up with a cutting mat that has a melting point of 70 degrees Celsius.

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I used industrial strength velcro for all removable points, then I used some duct tape as an anchor to help ease the force of the platform pushing against the can hopefully making for a more permanent bond.

Redundancy wise, in a case of failure. I hope that my used of multiple strips of velcro on the front of the TV combined with the duct tape, will ensure that there’s no SPONTANEOUS LOSS of adhesiveness, should the heat of the TV melt the velcro strip connected to the can I should be able to see it tilt gradually and perform any repairs instead of just watching it crash to the ground.

I hope!

For spatial reference

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The space from the TV, to where the white couch is, happens to be JUST THE RIGHT SIZE for 2 players. 1 player is where WZ is sitting.


Gaming | Gear
Saturday, 20 November 2010 23:01:35 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
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