Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Bug lives in my monitor screen (under the glass)

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hex I have been working with PC’s now for years, pretty much my whole life I have had a PC but today something happened that I have never seen before. A tiny little bug (known to my wife as a ‘thunderbug’, but I'm not sure that’s accurate) has some how found its way through my monitors vents and onto the screen, yes onto the screen. Its some how between the image and the glass (plastic really I suppose) its crawling about and making a menace of its self.

I run my dilemma through Google and it seems to be a common problem about this time of year. The best thing to do is to ignore them as they will eventually bake and die or crawl away and probably die out of your field of vision. 399526793_9d3c9a0fcf

If you leave them and they die in an irritating place they may eventually drop down the screen out of view however if you do squish them with your god like figures you will be well and truly buggered. The explosion of bug inners will glue the little fella to the screen as well as the splat zone covering more of the screen than the uninjured dead bug would.

Not really helpful but in a case of technology Vs nature, technology always looses so there is really no defence against this. Just hope your not unlucky enough to ever see it.

As it happen, as I've been writing the little terrorist seams to have vanished.. good news. its either luck, of he has read the post as i have typed and kindly left.

If this has happened to you or you have more information for dealing with this please post here.

A game of value?

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hex

The above screen capture is todays ‘Daily Deal’ on Steam. a little game of solitaire is only £1.36 however as i have no interest in traditional card games (I’m more of a MtG kind of guy) and even less interest in fairies I can not help but think that this game is £1.36 over priced. in fact if it where free i would still not download it because to me its not worth playing.

I did however pay too much for a virtual Unicorn in Free Realms, it worked out to be about £4 much more than a mount (or ride as they are called in FR) is worth in a game where you can fast travel to any location at any time. I was glad to drop the cash thought because of how happy it made my daughter to watcher her character wonder about a jungle playground on a rainbow unicorn.  £4 actually seemed pretty good for the amount of ‘Yey, woot! lol’ it generated for her.

 GameValue

This got me thinking about value, not of mounts of item stores but the value of gaming its self as a whole in out lives (and yes I am still talking about financial value, I just cant quantify the emotional value of awesome unicorns) as a general rule I don’t buy full price games because to me they are not worth the £30 drop when I can wait a month and pick them up on Steam sale or on a discount shelf at my local GAME store (or Asda, an untapped gamming resource).

I tend to look for an hour’s entertainment for ever £1 I spend on any form of entertainment (one of the reasons I only buy £3 DVD’s) however occasionally there is a full price title that I just can’t resist and have to play at release. This happened for me recently with Portal 2. I paid £29.99 for a game that lasted about 7 hours (and that’s being generous) but because the game was something i had been waiting for since its announcement it appeared to have higher value to me. I played it and finished it without actually feeling like i had paid too much because of my perception of its value.

 Valve,M-O-158928-1

In fact i would not hesitate to pay full price for any Valve game as they have never made a bad title. they have proven their worth and i trust their development. so their games have higher value to me.

Battlefield 3 will probably be the next full price title that i pick up but with its multiplayer modes i will probably play a hundred hours of it before its gone so it will be worth the full price purchase.

So, with The Old Republic launching at almost £40 (and yes i will pay that for it) i have to wonder if as gamers we are encouraging the increase in price of games. we are guilty of allowing companies to charge over the going rate for titles but in the end we just want to play the games.

i don’t really have a point to hammer home here its just a musing about how perception changes value, i hope i provoked a thought or two out of you.  Smile

Monday, 25 July 2011

Defeat!



I cant win anything today, I'm so bad at games apparently. It happens every now and again, you get a day off to game, and for some reason it turns to shit, where the whole day feels like a load of fail. I wonder if everyone has days like this, where they cant seem to win... anything at all.

-Mass Effect 2 bugged out, wasn't saved and kicked me back to the map screen. I cant face redoing the whole mission, I may never go back to the game it made me that angry.
-Emperor Battle for Dune bugged out and I failed another mission ( seriously wtf? )
-League of Legends was just bad, 3 games with bad team mates against co-ordinated and annoying opponents.
-StarCraft 2 I played a bad game and got stomped by a guy using an auto-win strat. Then he felt the need to talk smack after the match.

At this point I would usually go watch a couple of episodes of an awesome show, such a Breaking Bad. Not tonight though, I am not done yet, so I am downing a litre of mountain dew.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

I shoot through the best abou, damn dead again

 

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fish[2]After my recent post about battlefield 3, it seems as good a time as any to talk about my top 5  multi-player shooters.   These are the games I find myself going back to time and time again. The games that offer the sort of competitive and fun "pvp" that most mmo's can only dream of. Oh and one thing, I don’t do, and have absolutely no interest in straight boring team death-match. All these games are objective based.

The rest of the list is going to be I'm no particular order, however firmly at number one is Battlefield Bad Company 2. This is at the top because of the battlefield_bad_company_2_pc_30v35_resized_1020_wm_Battlefield_Bad_company_2_funny_pictures-s540x303-80667-580way it actively encourages team-play in a genre that all to often involves a dozen people running around doing their own thing in what is a team in name only. The class structure also means that it is easy to be an important party of the team, even of you couldn't hit the side of a barn. That aside, the game looks great, has amazing destruction, fantastic sounds (it really does sound like a battlefield) and is still very heavily played well over a year after it launched. Oh it also had an excellent Vietnam expansion.

Second on my list has to be Team Fortress 2, which you can now get for the 1734938558_31f0bf37e2_obargain price of free. More class based play, with 9 different ones to play. Each class plays very differently from each other, to the point that it almost feels like a different game when you swap classes. This is further emphasised by the unlockable (or purchasable) weapons which further add variety. Speaking of variety there are now over 30 maps, half a dozen game modes and a healthy modding community. It even still looks great and will run fine on any PC made in the last 5 years. It is also, in, my experience, the only free to play shooter worth playing.

monday-night-combat-comicSpeaking of Team Fortress 2 brings me to Monday Night Combat,a game I initially disregarded as a TF2 clone. The reason being that like TF2 it has classes, and several of these classes, at a glance at least, seem to have blatantly copied TF2. However MNC stands happily on its own right. Essentially it is a third person shooter mixed with a defence of ancients type game, where you have to help your robots get into the enemies based, whilst preventing their robots from getting into your base. Despite first appearances it is actually a very original shooter, with a great sense of humour and some truly lovely animations. It also has the added advantage of being cheap.

Heading back to something vaguely resembling the real world we have Homefront. Now the reason I like Homefront, is because it is a bit like Modern Warefare, however it fixes a lot of the things I don’t like about MW. In Modern Warefare the players doing well, get further bonuses in the form of killstreaks to ensure that the players not doing so well, continue to fail. Now in Homefront yohomefront_wallpaper_gameu can also buy bonus attacks and vehicles so you can do extra damage, but you buy them with the xp that you have gained during that match. So you might be sitting pretty at the top of the scoreboard and decide to buy a big tank thing for 1600 xp (the bigger/more powerful the item the more xp it costs), someone could spend 250xp  on a rocket launcher and get lucky, blowing you up and next thing you know you are no longer top of the table. The other thing I like is that if a player is on a big killstreak, the player gets bonus xp, but everyone on the opposing side gets a rough location on their minimap and a huge xp bonus for taking the killstreaking player out. So with these little tweaks they have created a game that manages to feel fast paced and exciting, but fair in a way that Modern Warefare has never felt, to me anyway.

The final entry is Killzone 3, the only console shooter (yes I know that the others are all on the consoles, but that's not what I play them on).  Another class base shooter that borrows heavily from other games like TF2 (such as one class can make himself appear to be on the opposing side) and others. However it is all well implemented into an attractive and fast shooter. The main reason it is on the list is because of its Warfare mode. When you load into a warfare map the game generates 7 games types which last 3 or 4 minutes each, with the winning side being the one that wins the most games, and then it goes onto the next map. These game types can be team deathmatch (the only exception to what I said at the beginning), capture points, destroy/protect an objective or protect/kill a specific player. They say variety is the spice of life, well that's why I like Killzone 3. I can happily sit in a Killzone match, and as the objectives change it will make me  change my approach and tactics. As much as I love Battlefield it can sometimes get frustrating when there is a constant fight over one point, Killzone’s warfare game type gets around that and provides an great shooter experience.

So there are my top 5, I feel I should give an honorable mention to Counterstrike Source. It is a great, if unforgiving, shooter, that shows you really don’t need things like gadgets and xp if you nail the basics. Now I have command, go out there and shoot each other. None of these games are expensive anymore and not one of them is going to ask you for a monthly subscription of have fun (though be wary of TF2’s hats, it is possible to become obsessed).

Saturday, 23 July 2011

On the Plus side it is not Facebook

 

Join-Google-Plus

fish[2]I have recently become a google plus member, thanks to a random invite from a kotaku member. Now I have never had a Facebook account, and indeed never wanted one. Now from what I can gather Plus has a great deal of similarities to Face book, but without a great deal of things that annoy, well me.

It has no grinding games, no massive security holes and the ability too very easily section off various groups of people. So these things are all great and the whole system works as well as you would expect from a google product. However it is still facebook_purposea lot like Face book, a service that I, at best, detest. So why am I finding myself enjoying google plus?

Unfortunately I think I have the answer, and it comes down to elitism. Now the last time I heard Google Plus had 20 million users, which is a hell of a lot for a beta. However this is a drop in the ocean compared to Facebook's half a billion. Call me an Internet snob but I don't want to be on a social network where my family and work mates can easily contact me. I like having the Internet as a place where I can talk and share about stuff that enthuses me, games, in an honest way without having to explain either what I am talking about or why. I think that should my sister get a Google Plus account, then I am some how diluting my Internet self by using the Internet to step away from games.

I think this is one of the reasons I have always stuck to twitter, it is very easy to single out the people I want to follow. The last time I saw my sister she mentioned twitter_cartoongetting a twitter account and I was semi-horrified, as I assumed if she did, she would want to follow me. The point I guess I am stumbling around in the dark for, is that we all have these online persona's. Now I am not saying that the online blogging gaming me is inherently cool, because I know it isn’t, however it is a far true face than the, humm, mask I show people I actually know in the real world (with a few exceptions obviously).

Damn this is a self obsessed and pretentious blog. Just curious if other people try and keep there online and offline lives separate.

NB I really don’t hate my sister that much, heh I seriously doubt she will read this.

Friday, 22 July 2011

MMO Universes that need to be created.

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hex Lord of the Rings online is one of my favourite MMO’s of all time. i like how is traditional and well mannered while having a dark undertone and serious story. my love of the game however is not in any way fuelled by a love of the franchise. i love LotRO even though i think the movies are over rated and the books are dated.

So today while at work (stressful day but thanks for asking) I had a moment and for some reason began to mull over the franchises that I do love and wondered why no one has made them into MMO’s or even successful games. As i like to share thoughts and stir ideas i thought i would share my list of potential MMO franchises with you.

Farscape: It ran for four years and had a leviathan of lore spanning the whole galaxy. there where enough races and technologies shown on the show to fuel any RPG or MMO for a good adventure. it got canned as a show when they realised that the story was so incredibly complicated that there was almost no chance of new viewers being picked up. but still, a great and rich lore that’s just sitting there ready to be picked up.

Babylon 5: B5 is something that i have only really got to enjoy recently but its raw and deep, its really strange to me that there was not even a single player game of any note based on it. its got lore coming out of its ears and a strangely quiet but loyal fan base.

Stargate: i know, i really do. it was almost an MMO that was always going to fail but with the right team behind it Stargate could have been a really great MMO.

Transformers: okay, there have been odd little online games and a reasonable full title but wouldn't a transformers MMO be GREAT! you could design your own robot and explore cybertron in its full glory. it would be just great.

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TRON: before the new movie came out, and i mean years before i was the last advocate of the Tron universe. its such a great idea for an MMO and with just oodles of augmented reality potential. then could make the lore semi-real world overlapping claiming that it was ‘real’ and you where using your computer to explore the Grid. it would be really good but with the new movie (that i really love btw) i doubt it will ever happen in the way i visualised it using only the original movies lore/

RPG_abberantd20_coverAberrant: Champions online was based on the Champions pen and paper role play game but what allot of uninitiated gamers don’t know it that Champions was only ever the poor cousin of the Aberrant game. Aberrant was far more politically driven and the lore was much more elegant (granted only my point of view) as super heroes go its my benchmark. I really think that it would have made a better game with less alien invasions and pointless grinding.

The writing of HP Lovecraft: yeah. stop for a moment and think about the potential for the classical horror MMO

Firefly: space cowboys and a great lore! im not sure of there is enough fleshed out information about the universe but it would be great to play in that environment. images(mind you with this site http://www.fireflyuniverseonline.com/ you never know)

Buffy the Vampire slayer: the Buffy franchise is not a popular as it once was and the fans have for the most part moved on to other things but the core interest is there for a great MMO. there was even  a single player tomb raider style game i had on the original xbox that was great fun.  looking at how the TV show ended with so many slayers i think there is much potential for both lols and fighting.

Warehouse 13/Eureka : TV shows that if you have not seen your missing out on. they are little tongue in cheek and seem to be set in the same ‘cannon’ and would make an epic MMO with some real world type environments and some potential for doing just about whatever the writers want to.

as i said that little list is what i came up with over lunch today. notice that there is very little there that’s not Science Fiction. I'm not sure if that is a symptom of the lack of sci-fi games out there or my personal tastes but i would love to see an MMO with any of them.

how about you? what franchise do you want to see as a game?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

You can’t solve a mmo problem with a can of Raid.

 

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fish[2]The end game in mmo’s has always been problematic. What do you give players to do once they hit that maximum level (usually after not inconsiderable time and effort). Many games fall back on repeated runs of dungeons and raids. Now this seems to be to be a very archaic approach. What we are essentially talking about are boss fights.

Now the majority of games have now moved away from boss fights, because they are annoying and tedious, with only a few games slavishly holding onto them (like the god damn awful Duke Nukem Forever). In most cases these are not that well implemented. Now I have done a fair number of raids in my times, and 10% of the Game-Rant-Duke-Nukem-Forever-Review-Boss-Fighttime they are fun.

You get that sweet spot, everyone is having fun, joking on ventrillo, doing what they are meant to and there is an undeniable satisfaction when you kill the boss. However in my experience the other 90% of the time is either frustration due to dying time after time, or everyone taking the experience way to seriously and sucking any fun out of the process.

Do I have any suggestions as to alternatives to raids or dungeons? Humm that’s a good question I have asked myself. I guess I have nothing aside from working in events like races, treasure hunts and mini games into your mmo. Oh wait I have another idea which I think would be interesting. Lets steal a concept from Team tf2specialFortress 2’s book and mix a raid with PVP. Have a big boss which one side has to protect and the other side has to kill.

Thinking about it my biggest problem with dungeons and raids is their predictability. The majority of the time the reason why you fail at a raid is because someone in your group is not good enough (either down to gear or not knowing what they are doing), and this leads to resentment to those people. Who wants to play a game to become resentful and annoyed at your fellow players, if I wanted that I would buy an Xbox.

Friday, 15 July 2011

I will be rolling the DICE and hoping for 3

 

battlefield-3-preorder

fish[2]I love shooters, and as you will have no doubt twigged by now I am a big Battlefield fan, having love the series from early on. Now this year the proper sequel to a game I spent a very significant chunk of time playing, Battlefield 2, is coming out. Now EA seem to be sinking a lot of time, effort and money into making this a spectacular game, and more seemingly more important to them, a direct competitor to Activison’s Modern Warfare 3. They certainly seem to be winning the hearts of a number of gamers, as seen here.

Now from my point of view this should be pretty easy. I don’t like Call of Duty games, they have so far been, expect 1 and 2, at best “popcorn” single player games. What i mean is explosive, fun and instantly forgettable, heh the gaming equivalent of a transformers movie. However my dislike is reserved for the multiplayer, which seems to give significant advantages to people who are already good, and as I am only ok, usually ends up with me dying again and again. However if Bad Company 2, and what I have seen of Battlefield 3 is anything to go by, this is not the case with DICE’s opus.

First multi player glimpses

Anyway I am not here to talk about COD, I am going to explain what I know about BF3 (at the request of Hex). They are a few exciting things that we know so far. The first being that the lead platform for the game is the PC, my platform of choice. This may not sound to exciting, however it is fairly common these days for a game to be developed first for a specific console, then transferred (sometimes not that well) to the pc. The advantage of BF2 being developed primarily for the PC is that the game should look great (well you only have to look at the videos to see that) and the 1controls should be very well optimised for pc player.  Other PC centric bonuses are that there will be dedicated servers, and they will host games of up to 64 player (really rare in console land). Though unfortunately DICE have confirmed there will be no mod tools release, because they would be too “complicated” to use. To be frank I don’t buy this, as the internet is full of very clever people. More likely EA wants to keep control of any new content

There will be 4 multiplayer classes like in bad company, though with tweaked abilities. For instance the assault class now has revive and healing gear and the support class can lay down a bipod for his LMG and actively suppress the enemy. Also there are a few well known maps coming back from previous games, Strike at BF3PhysicalWarfareKarkland being a pre-order bonus remake from Battlefield 2. Speaking of pre orders EA got into some trouble recently, stating some powerful weapons are for pre orders only, which, after a internet uproar, they confirmed would be released to all, at some point after the games release.

The game itself takes place in the middle east in the near future, and they seem to be going for a bit more serious, less bombastic approach to the single player (well when compared to the MW3 trailer), which will be between 6-10 hours (a little vague I know). From what we have seen you play a US soldier in a conflict on the Iran/Iraq border, and we have also seen that the area is tectonically unstable, with at least one earthquake occurring. We also know that there will be some vehicle sections, a tank definitely.

Kaboom

Both the single-player and the multi-player will be wrapped up in the new Frostbite 2 engine. What makes this special, aside from looking lovely, is that they are promising previously unrealised levels of destructibility. Potentially being able to bring down tower blocks and actually destroying cover to get at your enemies.

Well I think I have bored you enough, check out the videos, even if you aren’t into shooters they are still impressive sights

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Erm what did that dude in that movie say.

 

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fish[2]I am right now watching the movie source code, whilst writing this blog on my tab. Now it is a great film, interesting, exciting and well acted. So why I am I currently writing this blog, and not watching this great movie.

Well I have a theory about this, and I essentially think that it is games fault. This happens with pretty much all television and movies, to the point that I often play games, and just listen to the television.

I have found that with the lack of interactivity means that at best I end up at best half puzzlequest2watching things, or just drift off uninterested. Even the most basic of game mechanics, say in something like puzzle quest, are enough to keep me focus on a game. I still go to the cinema sometimes, but only for films I am really excited, plus the advantage of a cinema is that it has none of the usual distractions, such as my pc and this tab.

Now I am sure as hell not saying that games inherently ruin your attention span, but they certainly seem to have ruined mine. Then again I am very obsessive when it comes to games. Is it really just me that is like this, oh please tell me it is not just me?

Windows 8 may let you run Xbox games?!?!?!?

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hex Just now, literally moments ago i found THIS post over at Gamespy that says in short that there are rumours that the upcoming Windows 8 operating system may allow you to run Xbox 360 games on your PC.

OMG! was my first though. I’m no Xbox fan but a sudden increase in the number of games i can play on my PC has to be a great thing to happen right? then i thought about how it would mean i could play Halo with my friends and not have to pay for a console or Live account. then i read the article again. It looks legitimate. there is at least a chance that window 8 will be able to launch 360 games. A few Google searches went by and now i am still convinced that this may be something Microsoft are considering.

For Microsoft it would be a good thing because they would have that foot hold in PC gaming that they have never managed to obtain. with the popularity of the 360 and the lack of interest in GFWL it would really shake up the industry.

However a few things have come to mind for me at least.

1) this is likely to require hardware, specifically a special and probably external DVD drive to launch the hardcoded disks without risking the exposure of the code that protects the 360 from hackers and pirates going onto Live. 

2) Controllers, this will almost definitely be something that is a prerequisite as i can’t see them going back and enabling keyboard and mouse in all the games for the platform.

3) a minimum PC specification. i would say that that Microsoft PC score system that no one cares about will suddenly start to matter if you want to play 360 games.

4) a Live subscription. i can not see Microsoft making the Live network free not even for PC gamers when we will all be using the Live network in the same way.

Now there is the other thing that floated to the surface in my memory: remember the original Xbox (the big black fella) well when that was announced there where talks of the games being PC compatible as both platforms used Direct-X and the X-box was basically a custom build PC. Well, as you probably remember, that never happened. not even a sniff of it happened.

so, i think that there is a change that this is something that’s being seriously considered but at this time its not likely. if it does happen that ‘starter’ kit (the drive you will no doubt need) will probably cost as much as a 360 does on its own so there will be very little point.

So, any thoughts?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Vlog– Mouse Love.

 

Mouse Love!

Brought a new Razer Lachesis 5600DPI Gaming mouse, this is a review-rant about how great it is.

Official Razer Store link: http://store.razerzone.com/store/razerusa/en_US/pd/productID.207541300

When will we be free to go WoW

 

world-of-warcraft-free-to-play-starter-edition

fish[2]With Free to Play now being the ultimate choice for any mmo that has less than a million players (at a rough guess), I was having a discussion with my other half about if, or more accurately when WoW would go free to play. Now in the last 12-18 months the best part of, humm damn i has got to be going on 20, established, if not large, mmo’s have gone free to play, and it certainly seems to be working out for all of them, even those that might not deserve the success (yes I am looking at you champions).

Now WoW going free to play it might seem unlikely, but it is not entirely without precedent. For instance they have just announced their infinite trial system, where,wow-china like AoC used to offer, you can level a character up to level 20 entirely for free (with restrictions). Also in China WoW has a payment model already in place that is very similar to free to play, so in theory the infrastructure is already available to them.

So do I expect WoW to go free to play, then? No I don’t, not for a very good while. I think that Blizzard could potentially make a huge amount of money from going free to play, but then again they already are making a huge amount of money. I am not saying that it will never go free to play, but it is going to be at least 5 years, if not longer.

The rational for this is that they certainly won’t make it free to play until after their new mmo is launched, a game which has still yet to be revealed, so that, I would guess, is at least 3 years away, and even after that I don’t think Activison would take steps to go free to play unless there was serious fall off in player numbers.

However there are a number of new mmo’s coming up that could potentially steal WoW’s players, so lets try to crunch some numbers. Rift had a very good launch star-wars-the-old-republic-pc-game-2010for an mmo,  with 1 million players no long after launch, so lets assume a game like The Old Republic pushes even further and sells 3 million (the amount Starcraft 2 sold, one of the biggest selling pc games ever).  Now even if every single one of those 3 million people are current WoW subscribers (very unlikely) and they all give up WoW to play TOR, that still leaves Blizzard with 8 million plus subscribers (if you believe their numbers).

So as it stands I think it would take a huge massive fall off in number of players before Activision/Blizzard would even considered giving up on the subscription model. It is far more likely that they will launch there new mmo, development on WoW slows to a crawl, and players start abandoning it out of boredom (hell this happens quite a lot now from what I can gather). At which point they will then take the steps to make it free to play. I personally would love a free to play WoW that I could dip into every now and then, oh well maybe when I am in my 40’s.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

steel series QcK mini - Thoughts

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hex%2520%255B2%255DRecently after downsizing my desk I have had to find a smaller mouse mat, my Razer Mantis mat was far too large. so after a trip to my favorite online retailer (Amazon UK) I ordered the only smaller gaming surface I could find, the steel series QcK mini.

This mouse mat is little thinner than I expected and arrived in a tubular package (manufacturers packaging, nothing sinister) that opened easy but did leave the mat with a slight ripple, this faded in a few days and its now gloriously flat.

The surface is nothing spectacular to look at (but I did buy the plain black version) with a small white 'steel series' logo in the corner. The printed logo is a thick rubber print with a texture but is so far in the corner of the mat that its not an issue at all and does look quite striking on an otherwise plain surface.

the mat is a 'regular' sized mouse surface the size that you see in most stores but what sets it apart is not size or looks its the perfect tracking that it offers all the time. This mat is one of the smoothest surfaces I have ever games on. As some one who usually games at about 3000DPI I don't need a large mat as I am making tiny movements that mean I rarely need to reposition my mouse.

for very little money (about £5) this is the best budget mouse mat that you can have. After using this mat when I eventually get a larger desk I may shop for a more traditional gamer-sized pad but I can guarantee that ill be buying another 'steel series' product. 

Amazon UK link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000UEZ37G/ref=cm_cr_rev_prod_title

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Gamers Security

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hex When it comes to the more technical aspect of gaming there are two types of gamer. Those who are tech savvy computer users and those who can only just about get Steam to install.

Many people just want to game, they don’t care how it works or why downloads take time, they want to smack the buttons and get lulz! – that’s fine, I'm not judging you but with so much hacking effecting the games companies we love i thought i should write a quick ‘edu-blog’ about computer security.

I’m going to assume you are using Microsoft Window’s Visa or newer (Windows 7) as your operating system (the thing you see when you turn your PC on) and that you know how to use webpages (because you reading this!)

The first thing that any gamer should install is an antivirus program and a Firewall. usually these two come as a single item and often the free options are at least as good as the paid alternatives. The antivirus portion of the software basically stops your computer getting sick (and some times sneezing our your personal information) while the Firewall portion is protection against nefarious programs and ninja like intruders. Here are my two recommendations (Both free)

MSE

Microsoft Security essentials: this is ideal for the less tech savvy gamer as you download/install and then forget about it. it maintains its self about 90% of the time and won’t bother you except for the occasional update. its a really good level of protection for anyone and i consider it to be great for lower powered PC’s

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Comodo internet security (Free version): Comodo is my personal security application of choice. its a very paranoid piece of software and will ask you every time a new application wants to use the internet and its not ashamed of it, it will often irritate and some times can crash a game when you load for the first time but the irritation is nothing compared to the level of security you have over your system it is in my opinion the best firewall out there. The antivirus portion of it is also superb and does everything you would expect from a package of this kind.

The next thing that i recommend for any gamer is a method for dealing with spyware. There are many applications out there but there is one that stands high and mighty above every other knowing it is king.

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Spybot Search and Destroy: Spybot is awesome, run it once a week. update it, then immunise and scan. you should pretty much be spyware free for life, it really is that simple. its only draw back is that the protection you have is not automated it requires you weekly attention to be really full proof. but its very good at what it does.

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Another thing that people overlook with security is their choice of web browser. as much as Microsoft would argue this statement its pretty accurate ‘Internet explorer is bad’ i know, that sounds harsh but its true. IE as its known (the blue E) is by far the most widely used browser out there, and as such the most targeted one.

Both googles Chrome and Mozillas Fire Fox are excellent alternatives. both of them can run plugins (extensions) these are little ‘apps’ that run in the browser making your life better in every way (that’s an exaggeration) I use Fire Fox personally because it loads faster on my machine but chrome is a great browser and i have very little negative to say about it.

in fire fox, if you click the orange FireFox button (top right) you can navigate your way to the ‘Addons’ menu. In chrome you can click the spanner (upper right) and navigate to extensions’ (then click get more), then when in there, i recommend you search for the following as a minimum.

WOT (web of trust): it puts a little traffic light by a link, telling you if it can be trusted and if you do end up on a very untrusted site it blocks the whole page and warns you before you continue. its very handy for a quick guide to a sites reputation.

Ghostery: this is a little tool that tells you what ‘advertisers’ are tracking you on a specific site and allows you to clock them from doing this. its not strictly speaking security related but in my mind its a thin old line.

Adblock Plus: it blocks ads, again, thin line.

LastPass: despite a recent security breach last pass is still the best way to manage passwords, its like a vault for them but its kept on a server so your information is not on your computer for people to steal. it also offers to generate very secure random passwords for websites and allows you to recall all your passwords with a single login if you change your computer. its pretty much an essential in my mind. (premium service is totally optional ad only £12, not that i know anyone who has needed it)

Well, that’s it, that’s my very brief any hopefully easy to follow security guide. its really the most basic things that i consider essential if you want a more secure PC then google for information of the following

Peerblock – Strategic IP blocker

UAC – its a windows option that most people turn off but if you research you will see that its actually pretty cleaver and the protection it offers out way the irritation

Alternative DNS – again, sort of not security related but if you can use Open DNS or Google DNS instead of your providers services you will have a more reliable internet experience as well as having built in protection from very high profile ‘spoofing’ sites. (i prefer Google DNS if your wondering)

the only other thing i can really recommend is that you avoid saving credit card details on any smaller sites and change all your passwords whenever you think there may even be a minor intrusion into any of your accounts.

I hope this was of help/interest to you.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Won’t someone think of the children

 

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fish[2]It is with amusement and a little confusion that I have been following the events regarding California versus video games supreme court ruling. Now from what can gather the senators and representatives from California are trying to make it illegal to sell games with adult content, violence, swearing and all the usual suspects, to children.


Now understandably there was a big uproar from the gaming community, as they want every child to have the opportunity to play as many violent video games as they want. Hang on I have just read that sentence back, and while it is true (as far as my understanding of American law goes) it is probably the stupidest sentence I have ever written. Now I know that freedom of speech is a highly protected concept in America, but there is a huge difference between banning a game like Bulletstorm (violent and sweary), and ensuring 4 and 5 Bulletstorm_Screen_4year olds are playing it.


Freedom of speech  is an amazing thing and i would never want it to be restricted, however taking reasonable precautions to prevent the more extreme content, of any kind of media, being seen by kids just seems sensible to me. Here in good old blighty we have been using a system of rating that makes it an illegal act to sell adult content to minors, and you know it, for the most part, bbfc-18-jan82009-cg-main99999works absolutely fine.


It is very rare that a game or film, both are rated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is banned, even when some of the mainstream press call for it, such as in the case of the manhunt games. Now I guess that part of the concern that the Americans have is that the video games are rated in, at best, a unfair way, and at worst in a way that only My Little Pony Adventures or similar pass without restriction. I get that, but all I am saying is that there has to be a middle ground that suits both sides both sides, after all it works in the UK.