Thursday, August 30, 2018

Honest Trailer Time

Yes, with the release of Battle for Azeroth, Smosh Games produced a new Honest Trailer about WoW:

Yes, I was amused.

This is a companion to the (now three year old) World of Warcraft Honest Trailer:

And the trailer for Warcraft in general that came out not too long after the movie:

So go have a few laughs!!

Sunday, August 26, 2018


I knew it was going to happen sometime, but I hoped it wouldn't happen for a long time to come.

There was a mass shooting at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

Police barricading a street near the Jacksonville
Landing area, where the shooting took place.
From The Guardian.

I'm posting a link to The Guardian mainly because it doesn't have a pop up video that automatically starts.

I don't know too many details, but I knew that with the toxic environment surrounding video game chat I figured someone was going to eventually turn words into bullets. The when always bothered me, because it seemed that we as a gamer community kept tempting fate the longer our community tolerates the toxic environment in video games, but I'd hoped that we could fix things before this would actually happen. I guess I was wrong.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Pleasant Musical Surprise

Given that I play SWTOR and other Bioware games, and that I'm surrounded by musicians in this house, it's no surprise that I found this blog post from Bioware the other day fascinating:

New World, New Score: Announcing Sarah Schachner as Anthem's Composer

Hey, I'm always up for a compelling musical score, and it really looks like Schachner's compositions for Anthem certainly fit.

Sarah Schachner, who has also worked on
Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed games.
and for a link to the Soundcloud of the sample piece, Valor (Freelancer's Theme), here you go:

For me, the didgeridoos and drums really make the piece move.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Okay, Who's Using the TARDIS Again?

I kid you not.

No more than a few minutes after I posted a brief "go have fun with Battle for Azeroth!" post, THIS shows up in my INBOX:

Even down to the Redbeard part.

It keeps going and going, but you get the point.

When did Blizz start reading PC?

A Gamer's Wish

It kind of goes without saying that this is kind of a big day for WoW players.

I just wanted to wish them best of luck in playing Battle for Azeroth, because the whole point of playing is having fun.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Gamer's (Other) Pastime

I've been doing some tinkering over the past week or so on my system, because that's what a computer nerd does I suppose. The reason for these little tweaks were patches to my Radeon RX 470 graphics card that fixed the performance issues I saw after the last Windows 10 Creators Update.* I figured that if those patches did the trick, maybe this six year old PC can still pull its own weight for a few more years without needing major upgrades.
Apparently somebody is a Corsair fan.

The system is what was in 2012 a top tier i7-3770 system, although with a slower hard drive, a mid-tier graphics card, and a good 1080 resolution screen. Don't get me wrong, it's light years faster than the old 2007-era 32-bit Intel Core Duo (running Vista, no less) that it replaced, but I realized that eventually the i7-3770 would be eclipsed by faster CPUs with better surrounding architecture. Honestly, I didn't think it would take this long, but I'd argue that's the state of PC development these days. Unlike my experiences at the turn of the Century where the brand new AMD Athlons were top of the line for a scant 6-8 months and totally eclipsed after 2-3 years, the i7-3770 based system has only recently been knocked off of the "recommended" specs for PC games.**
Even PC cases have come a long way
from when I started building machines.
From Gamers Nexus.

Obviously the machine still functions perfectly fine for non-gamer activites, although my wife complains a bit about the loading performance when I start it up***, so if I had to perform major component upgrades I'd be very likely to keep this system as primarily her system and just build a new one for myself instead.

However, what really caught my eye were my experiences playing games that you'd think would have major issues stressing the system but actually don't.

I figured that newer MMOs, such as ArcheAge, Wildstar, and ESO, or regular games such as the aforementioned Rise of the Tomb Raider or Mass Effect: Andromeda, would have issues with the old PC. Much to my surprise, however, none of those games --after accommodating the increased loading times-- stressed the PC much at all. A good part of that is, I believe, due to my insistence on sticking with 1080 resolution rather than trying to run on 4K; without the 4K performance sync to push the RX 470 to its limits, my PC has an easier time of it than it ordinarily would have.**** But I also think that the biggest difference between the newer and older games is the architecture behind the games.

Nope, no problems here. Go figure.

Take LOTRO, for instance. At 11 years old, it is a fairly ancient MMO by today's standards, and you'd think that a top end PC whose guts are 8 years old (but a 2 year old graphics card) would be able to run this at max settings without an issue. However, the lag when you enter into graphics heavy zones with lots of toons, such as Bree, LOTRO struggles on my PC. I pulled up the Windows Resource Monitor and ran LOTRO with it in the background for a little while, just to see what the results were, and I discovered that while LOTRO wasn't stressing my CPU much (about 15-20%, so it was active on one core most likely) or the GPU, it was hitting the hard drive and network quite a bit. Some network activity is to be expected, it's an MMO after all, but the amount of activity suggested that LOTRO was busy getting data from the network servers and then either transferring it to my disk or memory. Even if it was placing the data straight into memory (and the GPU), LOTRO was referencing data on the disk to an extent that wasn't necessarily the case in other MMOs. Back in 2007, Turbine likely decided to utilize their own version of memory swap to get around the 32-bit memory limitations, and in the age of 64-bit PCs this isn't necessary. However, the old architecture remains, and you only notice it when your PC bottlenecks.

In SWTOR, released in 2012, a similar issue is the case as well. The Windows Resource Monitor showed that my GPU was pegged when I ran about Alderaan --the locale that has caused the worst performance issues outside of an Ops run for me*****-- and CPU was at 25% (likely an entire core). The thing is, the RX 470 was sitting at 1 GB of memory utilization when it had 4 GB to play with, so it was being artificially constrained. It's only when I pulled back on quite a bit of the graphics resolution that the GPU was no longer pegged, but the CPU was in a near constant state of activity. This suggests that a CPU upgrade would help a bit, but with only one core being utilized, there's only so much that motherboard/CPU upgrade can do.****** Again, SWTOR is an older game that needs to be rearchitected to spread resources around to take advantage of newer PCs' capabilities.

I was about to mention that the older machines run on DirectX9, but I don't think that's as much of an issue as at first glance. Age of Conan runs perfectly fine in either DirectX9 or DirectX10, and switching between 9 and 10 in LOTRO doesn't have an impact. And I do play GW2, which runs in DX9, and the only issues I have are loading. Once the zone or locale is loaded into memory, everything plays fine.


So what does all this mean? Basically it means to stop worrying and just relax. There's only so much you can do without doing a complete rebuild, so fretting over whether an 8 year old PC can handle games at highest resolution without hiccups is a bit of a fool's errand.

That doesn't mean that a guy can't dream or tweak (or whatever). It does mean that I'm likely going to have to build a PC of my own, because the Old Battleaxe isn't going to give up the ghost anytime soon, and I can't see my wife saying "Yeah, we need to upgrade the PC" either.

If anything, getting faster internet speeds is what she'd want, and in a few years that'll take care of itself with the mini-Reds all off to university. (And that will cause it's own problems.....)

*And here I thought the performance issues were long term degradation of the system. Oh well.

**Rise of the Tomb Raider had the i7-3770k as the "Recommended" setup in 2016, and I can't imagine that in 2018 that's still the case. The specs are TBA at this time, however.

***Replacing the old had drive there with a SSD or a hybrid would help out a lot, but I'm not so sure I want to do that if it means a ton of work breaking the old hard drive into a SSD for the OS and traditional hard drive for games and other applications.

****If I'd go with a 4K monitor, I'd want one big enough to really appreciate the 4K difference, such as 32" or larger. But I'm not about to blow that sort of money on a system at this time, because priorities.

*****Yes, I've been in Ops runs before, almost totally during special events. Don't look at me like that!

******I kind of expected there to be disk activity like LOTRO has, but that wasn't the case. My old Barracuda was doing a good enough job of keeping up with the system, although I did notice that when Chrome was on in the background but only when SWTOR was running I saw disk activity while I was running at around 9/12 GB of RAM. Once I killed Chrome, however, the disk activity vanished. As another test, I killed SWTOR instead of Chrome, and still the disk activity went away. Therefore, the two combined must have led to some disk swap activity.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Last week I did something that I thought I would likely regret later: I downloaded The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and created a character. I'd bought the game back during the big Steam midyear sale, and I really wanted to know whether the 90 GB download size was going to be worth it.

When I start a game, I don't dip my toe into the water gently. I jump into the deep end of the pool.* I was a bit concerned that after my experience with Stardew Valley, where I played the game constantly as much as I could, I was going to have a hard time pulling myself away from ESO. When you add in the "Oooo, shiny!" aspect to the game, not to mention that it was GenCon weekend and I had Twitch cast to our television, I was being bombarded with gamer stuff.

I feared overload.

Well, I didn't get gamer overload, but I found that ESO is a pretty interesting game.

I'd bought the game --which included Morrowind-- so that meant that a new player starts in Morrowind itself. I had no real preconceived notions about starting zones and whatnot, so I kind of shrugged and went with it.

As I expected, the initial questline sucked me in, but I noticed that there were hardly any side quests, so I was a bit confused. Then I made it to my first decent sized questing city, Balmora.**

There were several size quests, including a main questline that kind of dominated my time in the city, but what I didn't expect was that a small side quest, The Memory Stone, would suck up all of my attention.

And all the feels.


For older WoW players, there's the questline in Wrath about Crusader Bridenbrad, who had come down with the plague and had gone off into isolation to not be a danger to anyone else. Try as you might, whatever you try to help cure Crusader Bridenbrad of the plague doesn't work. In the end, the Crusader dies, but the Naaru intervene so that after Bridenbrad can be brought into the Light.

Knowing that the questline was made to honor Brad Bridenbecker, brother of Blizzard VP Robert Bridenbecker, who died from cancer in 2007 makes the questline all the more moving.

Well, ESO has their own moving questline in The Memory Stone.


It seems such a simple request, really: go take a "Memory Stone" to absorb an old Dark Elf's memories so he can pass them on to his estranged children. But the thing is, those memories pack a hefty emotional punch. And then the ending...

It's the sort of questline that will resonate the most to parents attempting to reach out to their adult children, trying to get them to understand how things turned out the way they did. In life, we don't get to have the do-over or a "roll a new character" that we do with games. You handle life on the fly, adjusting to whatever is happening, and some of those choices made at the time can seem cruel or callous later. But that's life: we frequently make the best of the situation we're in.

The Memory Stone hit me like someone had dropped a ton of bricks on my head. I'm not ashamed to say that I teared up at the end, because it's a parent thing. No, it's a life thing, and people who go through life will understand why such a small side quest had such an outsized impact on me.

*See: WoW, Stardew Valley, SWTOR, etc.

**Not to be confused with Balmorra from SWTOR. And yes, for the purist you go through a very small village and then head straight to the capital, THEN out to Balmora.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

WoW Intersects with D&D. Film At Eleven.

As a promotion for WoW's Battle for Azeroth, the website The Nerdist is having a Celebrity D&D livestream event tomorrow, featuring Brooklyn 99 actor Terry Crews.
Yeah, this guy. From Wikipedia.

Alas, the only video promo that I've found is on Facebook so far, but it does look like it could be fun.

EtA: And heeeereeee we go!

Terry Crews Joined us to Battle for Azeroth on our Newest CelebriD&D