DIY next-gen gaming: part 2

OK, time to get started on my new system build. As mentioned last time, I’m spreading the process out through the year so as to keep things affordable and take advantage of upcoming developments.

To kick off I’m taking a look at the computer’s power supply. I had originally intended to include a new SSD in this phase but prices seem to be falling all the time, so I’ll give that another month.

PSU – Corsair CX 600, £52

Ideally I wouldn’t be getting a new power supply but my old one died a couple of  months back and I’m currently borrowing one from a colleague. Time to get that back to him.

PSUs are fairly cheap. Having compared various review sites such as Hexus, Anandtech and Tom’s Hardware, plus ratings on pcpartpicker, I’ve ended up eyeing the Corsair CX 600.

With CPU and GPU efficiency improving all the time I could probably get away with less than 600w but it’s best to stay future proof, especially as I run multiple drives and peripherals. It can all add up.

Corsair do a nice 3 year warranty even on these cheaper models which is reassuring.

I went for the semi modular version, which means I won’t have any unnecessary cables flapping about.

It should arrive on Monday so I’ll let you know how the install goes.

DIY next-gen gaming: part 1

Barring some determined technical work from the likes of CD Projekt RED in The Witcher 2 and DICE’s remarkable Battlefield 3+ Frostbite engine, gaming has been in a bit of a rut for a few years now, thanks to the aging PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles holding everything back. Sure, there have been some incremental advances in Unreal games, with Arkham City looking noticeably fancier than Arkham Asylum, but we haven’t seen the seismic shifts that pushed gaming along in the 90s and 2000s.

Now, at last, the PS4 is out, unlocking a new development ceiling for cross-platform devs. This will also inevitably drive a bunch of PC gamers to upgrade their rigs to keep pace and fairly rapidly outstretch the console’s capabilities. Including myself.
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Batman Arkham Knight trailer

Rocksteady are making another Bats game! Set in Gotham itself! There’s a batmobile! Conroy is back!

All good news. However, hidden amongst the reveal info is that Gotham has been evacuated due to the Scarecrow’s antics, which makes me sad. Gotham is only Gotham City if people live there – otherwise it’s just an even larger prison scenario.

I want a Batman game in which there’s a living, breathing city. Where the city isn’t in the verge of total collapse. I want to play as Bruce Wayne for some of it, using my detective skills and playboy persona to uncover information Batman wouldn’t be privy to.

Far less interesting is a deserted city designed purely as a playground for game mechanics, with a contrived setting to avoid awkward ratings issues around civilians getting harmed.

That’s the other thing – to be heroic, Batman needs some actual people to save. Asylum was in an asylum, City was in a giant prison, and now it sounds like Gotham itself will be empty of normal people. Without people to save the hero aspect gets lost, leaving Batman as an angry man beating up mentally ill criminals.

Anyway, it’ll still be ace to play, because Rocksteady are masters of game mechanics.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons review

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A few of the thoughts prompted by playing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons:

  1. Perhaps we should have another child. Having a sibling looks lovely.
  2. This is a bit like playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, with the annoying combat removed and greater depth to the story.
  3. The variety of locations and the sense of being taken on a real journey reminds me of Deus Ex, oddly, even though the games are in no way alike.
  4. Oh. Maybe I’ll reconsider #1.
  5. Ah, it’s a proper fairy tale, then. No Disneyfication here.

It’s a game that’s very difficult to discuss without spoiling it. The general mechanics involve single player coop, controlling two characters simultaneously, one with the left stick and one with the right stick (a gamepad is pretty essential). It’s never particularly difficult, other than the mental leap required for that dual control – a splitting of your brain which is quite fascinating to experience, and which reminded me a little of learning to use both hands independently while playing piano.

The game is utterly charming, remarkably dark within its whimsical setting, and uses its control mechanism as an integral part of its story in a move that is hugely exciting and unique, both to gaming as a medium and to this game specifically.

Brothers is a one-off. Play it immediately.

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Steam streaming beta thoughts

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I wrote a post a few months back theorising a little about SteamOS and how it’s bad news for Microsoft – if Valve get a number of plates all spinning in unison. A big part of SteamOS’ initial appeal will come from Steam’s new streaming ability, which is now in beta and works across Mac, Windows, Linux and SteamOS itself. I’ve been fiddling with it on a couple of Windows machines and it’s quite the remarkable thing. Continue reading

How to install Cyanogenmod on a Samsung Galaxy S3

If you’re here for info on installing Cyanogenmod on your S3 and just want to get to it, skip down the page a bit. First a bit of self-indulgent history, blogger-style:

Back at the start of 2013 my S3 phone started freezing randomly. My phone carrier, O2, refused to help me so I had to research the issue myself, a process which worked. I chronicled the mess in a blog post, including full instructions in case anybody else had the problem. You can find the blog post here.
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Rise of parental motivation in games

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There’s a surprising number of games around now in which you take on the role of a parent, one way or another – including literally. Whether it’s directly protecting a child in The Walking Dead and The Last of Us or delicately balancing your ethics against the welfare of your family in Papers, Please, there’s an increasingly common thread of adult responsibility that I don’t recall encountering previously. Continue reading