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  • BrainwreckedTech 4:14 pm on August 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hardware, , playstation 4, ps4, , , xb1, xbox one   

    Xbox One: Microsoft Had It Coming 

    Since the XB1 DRM debacle, it’s taken me a long time to come up with talking points. Everyone else was expressing their outrage, and doing it better than I would have. I thought about how the DRM could have been done right, but that covers a lot of territory, and the Xbox One wasn’t alone in that regard.

    Today, it hit me: With the exception of the Atari, every company that makes video game consoles loses its God-damned mind between the second and third release of its home console.

    Let’s start with the exception: Angry Video Game Nerd already reviewed the Atari 5200, so I won’t elaborate here.

    In between the Super NES and the N64, Nintendo tried to come up with a CD-ROM extension like Sega had done, only to let the cooperative venture with Sony fall through. Nintendo came out with the N64 later, completely ignoring CD-ROM and forcing higher consumer price tags and dev licensing costs due to the insistance on using cartridges.

    In between the Genesis and Saturn, Sega also had a cooperative venture with Sony that also fell through. Additionally, the 32X was a complete debacle — Sega of Japan wanted to release an upgraded Genesis and Sega of American poo-poo’d the idea and convinced the board to release an upgrade module instead. Sega of Japan countered that by proclaiming that the Saturn was the future direction of Sega. To continue the insanity, Sega of Japan largely relied on arcade ports to sell the Saturn, which were meaningless to Americans due to the collapse of their own arcade scene.

    Sony found their way into the home console scene not so much by cleverness or marketing mojo, but by pulling the trigger on the hubris that Nintendo and Sega had on display. By keeping consumer game prices at $50 and dev licensing at $1 per copy of the game, who wouldn’t develop for the PlayStation? But the Playstation 2 marked a slow turn for Sony. First there were the over-the-top claims (real-time Toy Story graphics) Sony made prior to the release of the PS2. Then there was the laughable attempt at making UMD a media format with the PSP. Everything came to a head with the announcement of the PS3. A $600 price tag, an esoteric chip design, and a complete hand-waving of the online play Xbox & Xbox 360 were bringing to the table paved the way for Sony being last in the 7th generation up until the very end.

    Which now brings us to Microsoft. Just like Sony, Microsoft found good things that no one else was offering and latched on to them. Those good things were unified online play and DirectX. Heck, Microsoft went so far as to release XNA, giving smaller devs a toolkit for simultaneously releasing to Windows and Xbox 360. But the hubris settled in quick. First it was the shifting of the dashboard to match that of Windows Phone 7. Then it was the $10/year price hike of XBL Gold. Then it was the interface change to Windows 8, replete with ads. Then it was the yanking of XNA. So, is it any surprise that Microsoft is trying to release a console at $500 price tag that initially sported consumer-unfriendly DRM?

    There is a bright spot in all of this. While Sony may have lost their mind with the launch of the PS3, it seems they started learning their lessons part way through the console’s life span. The escalated hacks showed Sony that their system wasn’t as secure as everyone thought. And screwing consumers over only invites the general public to more pantsings. The first sign of this lesson learned was allowing Valve to build a bridge between PSN and Steam with Portal 2. The high-point of this lesson learned was to completely forego console DRM after watching how it was blowing up in Microsoft’s face.

    This 8th generation is going to be interesting for sure. At the moment, Sony is making Microsoft look like a fool. Sony has been giving games away for free with a PSN subscription, Microsoft follows suit at E3. Microsoft introduces console DRM, Sony says they won’t do it, Microsoft follows suit. Microsoft pushes indie devs to make games for Windows 8 first, indie devs flock to PS4 for Sony’s self-publishing, Microsoft follows suit. But it was just 8 years ago that the roles were reversed.

     
  • BrainwreckedTech 12:28 am on August 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: deathsmiles ii x, , f2p, gotham city imposters, hardware, japan import, mmo, multi-player, rpg, shmup, shooter, single-player, , trouble witches neo, , , xbox live arcade   

    (Mostly) Asian Persuasion (3 XBLA + 1 F2P MMO mini-review) 

    It’s been a long time.  How have you been?  I’ve been really busy….playing video games.  So much so that I realize there was a 2-month gap in my posts.  Well, I guess if I had nothing better to write about during that time, I should indulge you with some of the things that have pilfered my free time.

    Something that came to mind while writing these mini-reviews is the argument over whether or not the Japanese video gaming industry is declining.  I came to the realization that the answer is both yes and no — the mainstream industry is rotting while the small devs and indies are picking up the ball.  Just like it is here in the States.  Hence, the title of the article and the inclusion of one non-Asian game.

    Deathsmiles II X

    Deathsmiles II X First up is Deathsmiles II X.  If you’re unfamiliar with bullet hell shmups, I suggest you also take a look at Triggerheart Exelica as well.

    The fun in the Deathsmiles series isn’t beating the game — that’s relatively easy with unlimited continues and 3 selectable difficulties for each stage.  The challenge is in mastering the scoring system.  Of course part of that mastery lies in playing on the hardest setting and not getting hit, but haven’t we had enough insanely difficult games where getting anywhere is next to impossible?

    The devs certainly thought so and have toned down things a bit in this incarnation. The slowdown in Deathsmiles II X is more prevalent. Getting the true final boss Pigeon Blood Jitterbug in DS2X is a snap.  Level  1 (Easy) can now be selected all the way through the game instead of just 3 stages.  And the penalty to your item counts for getting hit is slashed in half — from 50% is DS1 to 25% in DS2.

    Just because penalties and hoops have been reduced doesn’t mean getting billions of points is any easier.  A hit is still ultra-damning to your final score and finishing off each boss with the homing shot to get Jitterbug leaves you wide open.  You’ll have to work for your 6 billion point achievement, and you’ll have to work even more if you want to score anywhere near 150 billion point mark of the top players on the leader board.

    One thing to note with this game is that Cave experimented with 3D with Deathsmiles II.  Cave is well-known for some of the most gorgeous 2D sprite-based shooters, and they didn’t quite pull it off graphics-wise with Deathsmiles II.  However, with 720P the 3D of DS2 gets a B.  (Compared to the lower-res arcade version which gets a C by comparison.)

    Speaking of Arcade, that mode is a little messed up on the 360 version.  Initially Cave wasn’t even going to bother, but decided to try and stuff it in at the last minute.  Whereas as the the new 360 and Arrange modes have more slowdown than the original arcade version, the Arcade version on the 360 has less.  The incoming enemy markers are also missing.  And there are no leader boards.

    The biggest ding against this game comes on its price tag of $30. I don’t suppose the fact that this was a retail disc release in Japan makes that pill any easier to swallow.  Especially seeing as how we get absolutely ZERO translation.  That’s  right — ZERO translation. Whatever you see in English in this game was already in English.  Brush up on your Google-fu.

    Afterthought: You may opt to go for the original Deathsmiles NA release, which can be picked up used on Amazon for as little as $19 including shipping.

    Trouble Witches Neo

    Trouble Witches NeoNext up is Trouble Witches Neo.  If it isn’t obvious by now, I’m a schmup fan.  (More precisely, a previously-dormant schmup fan.)  As with Deathsmiles, beating the game is no sweat on Easy with unlimited continues.  The challenge is the high score.

    One thing to note is that this game has HORRENDOUS English voice acting.  Consider half of your $15 purchase to be the entertainment value you can derive from that alone.  Here’s the kicker:  You’re going to HAVE to play with the English voice acting if you want to know what the bosses are saying since there are no English subtitles if you chose to enable the original JP voice acting.

    The most interesting thing about this game is that it started life on the PC and its creator is very anti-Touhou.  Aside from that?  There’s actually a tutorial and a this game is translated, so it might be an easier pill to swallow than Deathsmiles II X.  Then again, this game brings back the difficulty that DS2X leaves out, meaning beginners aren’t going to be able to count the continues with their fingers and toes alone.

    Gotham City Impostors

    Gotham City ImpostorsHey, we’re still shooting things here, but at least it’s not a shmup and the characters are actually able enter into legal agreements!  The best way to describe Gotham City Impostors is with an analogy: GCI is to Call of Duty multi-player as Outlaw Golf is to Tiger Woods PGA Tour.  In other words, a completely farcical take on the genre that has a surprising amount of depth and thought put into it that can actually put the big guy to shame.

    The back story makes no sense — a variant of Joker Gas is turning people into Batman and Joker wannabes — and serves little more than to give a flimsy excuse to set up team of Bats and Jokerz.  There are pre-defined load-outs for Medic, Scout, Soldier, and what-not, but you can either tweak these to your liking or roll your own.  (One of the common ones I saw was a mostly-Soldier load-out save for the megaphone — a soldier that could be a healer in a pinch.)

    It’s hard NOT to like this game unless you like to take your games too seriously.  If so, please stick with your Call of Duties and Halos.

    Dungeon Fighter Online

    Dungeon Fighter OnlineThe final entry, and the game I’m currently playing, is Dungeon Fighter Online.  Take Final Fight (or Streets of Rage), then add swords, guns, magic, a juggle-happy combo system, a fantasy setting, RPG elements, and some MMO.

    Did I mention that it’s Free 2 Play, and that you really don’t have to party with anyone if you don’t want to (though it helps if you do)?

    Dungeon Fighter Online has taught me where Phantasy Star Universe has failed so hard.  While both games have you running “dungeons” over and over again, DFO actually gives you a reason to do so (even if it’s something as simple as collecting items, defeating a certain number of a particular enemy, or clearing harder difficulty levels).  DFO’s dungeons are more organized in difficulty, meaning you’re not running all over the game world for harder missions as you level up.  (Counterpoint: Sometimes you’ll be running all over the world for quests pertaining to a particular dungeon.)  While the organized dungeons all but eliminate the need for a centralized party system, DFO has one anyway, as well as a centralized auction system.  And lastly, there’s always some special event (common in F2P), unlike Sega and PSU.

    One word of warning: Although the game is very keyboard-centric, and the game itself does include a bit of game pad support, you may wish to use a program like Joystick 2 Mouse to map a controller to keyboard presses and/or mouse movements yourself.  Reason being: The game itself only supports one joystick, leaving out any secondary joystick and/or D-pad you might have.

     
  • BrainwreckedTech 12:06 am on August 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hardware, , , , ,   

    HOWTO: Get NVIDIA On Linux To Use Custom Resolutions Over DVI 

    NVIDIA LogoLinux Logo Half

    You want something easy? Cut the EDID pin on a VGA cable, hook up your monitor, configure xorg.conf to whateve resolution you want, and call it a day.

    You want something scary? Do the same with a DVI or HDMI cable and witness the NVIDIA driver do everything in its power keep you from falling down and skinning your knees like you’re 2 years old.

    The problem stems from the fact that digital flat panels have one native resolution. Well, actually, this would be a problem if these monitors didn’t have internal scalers. So now the problem becomes: What device scales better — your NVIDIA GPU or your flat panel? Chances are most people wouldn’t be able to tell. Some might be annoyed that their flat panel just steches everything without regard to aspect ratio.

    But what if you actually want to run at a “non-native” resolution because you’re using an HDTV whose actual native resolution is 1368×768, whose actual native resolution is never reported at all, but reports the max 1920×1080 as it’s native resolution?

    Here’s the slew of options you need:

    Option “UseEDID” “False”
    Tells the driver not to use modes that the display device reports it can use
    Option “UseEDIDFreqs” “False”
    Tells the driver to ignore frequency ranges reported over EDID.
    Option “ExactModeTimingsDVI” “True”
    IMPORTANT! Tells the driver to use timings as-is. Otherwise, it tries to find a best-fit resolution instead. If you leave EDID enabled while connected to an HDTV, you’ll get a 1368×768 resolution scaled to 1920×1080 resolution. If you disable EDID modes, the driver will fall back to 640×480 and then reject your custom resolution as being too large.
    ModeValidation NoDFPNativeResolutionCheck
    Tells the drive not to check resolutions agains the reported native resolution. This comes into play when UseEDID is false since the driver will fall back on 640×480 and then reject your custom resolution as too large.
    ModeValidation other
    Nothing special to note here as these would be used even if you were using a VGA connection.
    Section "Device"
    	Identifier	"DVI0"
    	Option		"UseDisplayDevice"	"DFP-0"
    	Driver		"nvidia"
    	Option		"UseEDID"		"False"
    	Option		"UseEDIDFreqs"		"False"
    	Option		"ExactModeTimingsDVI"	"True"
    	Option		"ModeValidation"	"NoDFPNativeResolutionCheck, NoEdidModes, NoMaxPClkCheck, NoVertRefreshCheck, NoHorizSyncCheck, NoEdidMaxPClkCheck"
    	Option		"NoLogo"		"True"
    	Option		"DPI"			"144 x 144"
    EndSection
    
     
    • Tim 9:27 pm on September 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks! Just what I needed.

  • BrainwreckedTech 2:02 am on May 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , atheros, atl1c, c665d-s5518, , hardware, ifcfg, laptop, , netcfg, , networkmanager, , realtek, rtl8192ce, satellite, , toshiba, , wireless   

    Linux And Flaky ATL1C Support 

    Linux Logo Here’s something I thought I’d never see — the day that wired networking in Linux could ever be considered anything less than “it just works.”

    I recently purchased a laptop (Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5518 to be precise) and had trouble out of the gate after installing Arch Linux.  The computer would seem to hang whenever the network was involved.  (E.g., running netcfg, networkmanager, or the ip command.)  I assumed that it was wireless support that was causing the headaches, so I ran hwinfo --netcard | grep "Modules\|File" to find the kernel modules related to my networking devices.

    Device Modules: "atl1c"
    Device File: eth0
    Driver Modules: "rtl8192ce"
    Device File: wlan0

    I blacklisted rtl8192ce but that didn’t solve my problem.  (More …)

     
    • Jesse Robinson 5:18 am on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I had exactly the same problem with atl1c it caused the console to freeze when the cable was unpluged,do you know the maintainer of this driver,so we can file a bug report,the problem is worse with a 3.4 kernel.
      Linux Jesse 3.4.0 #2 SMP Wed May 30 09:01:55 EST 2012 x86_64 GNU/Linux

      I really need to upgrade my kernel before submitting a bug,but scanning round it seems the bug is still there as of current kernel release.

      • BrainwreckedTech 9:55 am on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Unfortunately I do not. Which also means I do not know how much work is going into the driver. If there’s a dedicated team, then they just need time. If it’s a single person, he could probably use some help even it’s nothing more than yet another environment in which to see how the driver code behaves. Just be prepared that this might entail setting up a debug environment (e.g. compiling and using a kernel that spits out debug symbols, etc.). If you can code, all the better. :)

        Either way, as the driver is listed as EXPERIMENTAL, it’ll do no good to file normal bug reports as the people behind this driver already know that it is not 100%.

    • GreyGeek 8:47 am on August 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      As of Aug 12, 2013 this atl1c bug is affecting my Acer V3-771G laptop running Kubuntu 12.04.2 with all updates. On my system it shows up as a random disconnect and reconnect. Most of the time the reconnect is almost immediately, but sometimes it may take as much as 30 seconds. I switched from NetworkManager to WICD and the problem remains, but perhaps not as frequent. From once every 5 minutes to once every 10 minutes. There is NO messages indicating the disconnect & reconnect in any system log.
      I am using the 3.8.0-27-generic kernel.

  • BrainwreckedTech 7:33 am on March 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hardware, metro, , , , windows 8, windows ce, windows mobile, windows phone,   

    History Repeats Itself With Metro. 

    Windows 8 Logo There’s been a lot of vitriol over WP7 and Metro as of late.  And a lot of doom and gloom predictions to go along with that hate.  To plagiarize Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw a bit, the masses are totally totally right…almost.  The reason I agree, however, is a reason that I don’t see brought up often if at all — that shoe-horning an interface for one type of device onto another type of device is never guaranteed to work.

    (More …)

     
  • BrainwreckedTech 4:10 am on November 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: driver, hardware, , mtu, , nic,   

    WARNING: Your NIC (or Driver) Might Lie About MTU 

    This is one for the ages. I had two problems creep in at once. The first was shoddy NFS performance. I Googled my way across the internet for troubleshooting and performance tips. However, nothing seemed to improve the situation. While that was going on, I noticed the second problem — one of the hard drives was failing its own SMART test.

    I was already up late, and the last thing I wanted to be bothered with was finding out which drive it was, going the manufacturer’s site to download their drive diagnostic boot CD, getting the warranty return code, and starting the RMA process. But I hung in there and pulled through.

    After some sleep, I tried tinkering with a few more networking settings. I was still coming up with nothing, so I ordered a Cat6 cross-over cable so I could at least rule either way on the cabling and network switch.

    (More …)

     
  • BrainwreckedTech 1:18 am on August 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hardware, hdmi, , , resizing, resolution, scaling, widescreen   

    NVIDIA, HDTV, and Overscanning 

    Nvidia GeForce Logo First off, an apology for not writing in a long time, but since I’ve switched to Arch Linux I really haven’t had any brain-wrecking problems to write about. But you know, that just means the next problem I run across is going to be just that much bigger, right?

    I had a couple of issues with my HDTV. (More …)

     
  • BrainwreckedTech 1:54 am on March 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: controllers, gamepads, , hardware, , , source,   

    HOWTO: Play Source Engine Games With A Controller 

    While Source games do have support for game pads out of the box, you’ll quickly notice the control is digital only if you try setting things up in the button config menu. (More …)

     
    • Anonymous 4:52 pm on August 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      “Move Forward” config?

      • BrainwreckedTech 11:08 pm on August 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        The configuration option that pertains to moving forward?

        Yeah, I kinda worded that a little goofy.

  • BrainwreckedTech 3:04 pm on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dvd drive, , hardware, , , ,   

    Why Original Xbox 360 DVD Drives Fail 

    Xbox 360 Logo

    By now, everyone knows that the original Xbox 360 fails due to over-heating issues. Those that have ventured inside (or seen pictures or videos of those that have) know that criminally small GPU heat sink also played a role. And the introduction of the Xbox 360 Slim revealed another piece of the puzzle — the original Xbox 360s won’t shut themselves down if they get too hot.

    But have you ever wondered why the DVD drives fail? (More …)

     
  • BrainwreckedTech 8:08 pm on January 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hardware, , rrod, ,   

    Just In Case You Think Xbox 360 Elite Systems Are Immune 

    Xbox 360 Elite RRoD

    This nasty little surprise hit me 5 days ago.

     
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