My Home Theatre

It’s been a hiatus… I’ve been a bit busy lately, it’s summer time and all… I’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather with my family but I feel like I’m due, so here we go!

Home Theatre! This topic interest me big time, ever since I bought my “new” house 5 years ago I had been planning to do something nice in terms of an entertainment space. The space I had in my mind was a bit different then your typical audio/videophile types dream of but it’s what I dream’t of at this stage in my life.

I will be the first to admit that this post is late to the game, and I anticipate to upgrade my projector and receiver to native 4k within the next 6-8 months. I have my eye on you Optoma UHD60!

Coming from my previous house (a shoebox) I had a big room to actually call my mancave, a 25’x16′ room. The picture below is pretty unflattering… and it only shows the room from one angle, but this is all I could find for the time being… This was a couple days after we moved in. In hindsight I should’ve taken more before and after photos for this project.

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Here is the original conceptual design of what I envisioned the room to actually become.

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First step was to build the A/V closet and shelving, the closet did not exist originally so I had to rip out some drywall and attach into the existing framing. Here is a before picture of where I put the closet in.

AVcloset-before

Here are some pictures of the AV closet build out. The shelf design I found on another site, if I can find it again I will give them a kudos link, man is it a solid design – homemade shelf that can hold a ton of weight and gear. All of the supplies for the shelf I purchased at Canadian Tire and Rona. All of the cabling, connectors, wall plates and in ceiling speakers I purchased through Monoprice.

 

Here are pictures of what it looks like today, don’t mind the mess I have a few kids.

Projector Mount

If you look at the projector mount picture below you’re probably saying wow that’s a crazy mount is this guy a nutcase? Actually it’s pretty much mandatory in my mind to design something like this if the projector is going to be installed in a basement like setting.

When I originally mounted the projector I was truly a newbie… I affixed it directly on the floor joists, what a mistake. The feedback was vicious and the projector was bouncing like no tomorrow… and when it started to bounce it really didn’t recover quickly since there was nothing to absorb the movement that reverberated off the joists.

This is something I came up with through trial and error, this works for me, it doesn’t eliminate movement entirely, if my kids are bouncing off the walls upstairs it will shake, but it’s absorbed quickly by this design and I can rest well knowing that my investment is safe. To date I have almost 5000 lamp hours using this rig and the projector and lamp still lives on.

I used a large piece of MDF that spans three joists, I tapped into the joists using 2 1/2″ wood screws. From there I lined up where the projector was going to be mounted and penciled in four pilot holes where the bolts were going to be installed. These four bolts affix the actual mount to the MDF base, they are 3/8″ in width in my application, the bolts are fairly long I believe around 3 1/2″. I used several washers, rubber grommets and springs as you can see from the photo, these items are doing a lot of the hard work to minimize any vibration and impact.

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Projector

At the end of 2012 I was on the hunt for the right projector for me. I didn’t want to spend a ton but I wanted a projector that was a good bang for the buck, but mandatory was good input lag and 3D. I stumbled across the BenQ W1070 Home Theatre DLP Projector. It’s a great unit, I’ve been using it now for almost 5 years, so it’s done really, really well… no issues whatsoever.benq_w1070

 

Screen

I went the Do-It-Yourself route. After abundant research I ended up using the following for the screen paint:

Sherwin Williams ProClassic Smooth Enamel Satin Finish Extra White – 6260 UNIQUE GRAY. I don’t believe Sherwin Williams carries this formulation anymore.

Down the line I believe I will switch to an actual screen for my next projector install. Don’t get me wrong the paint is great and a money saver, but I found that it cannot cover imperfections in your actual drywall. If you look close enough you can pick up on these subtle things while the unit is on.

I used a somewhat dark color for the rest of the wall around the screen. Sherwin Williams Classic 99 Satin Finish Extra White – 6549 ASH VIOLET.

The screen is approximately 110″ measured diagonally.

Screen Frame

I used 2 1/2″ MDF trim I mitered the corners at 45 degrees and installed L shaped hinges on the back side. I primed and painted with flat black paint and used brad nailer to affix it to the wall.

Speakers

I opted for a 7.1 configuration, the front and center speakers I got a sweet deal on from Newegg, they were on clearance dirt cheap… I could not pass it up. I picked the JBL Studio 1 Series Studio 190 Front and Center speakers. For the subwoofer I went with the Klipsch KW-100, for the sides I went with Klipsch RS-62s. For the in ceiling I went with Monoprice 6-1/2 Inches Kevlar 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers.

The in-ceiling speakers I cut a plywood template to hold the speaker since I have a drop ceiling with soft fiberglass tiles. The plywood template fits into the 2’x2′ grid and the grid take the weight of the speaker and not the tile.

For the Klipsch surround speakers, I mounted the speaker to a stud on opposing walls using a single screw.

I am not an audiophile but they sound good to me, most would recommend not mixing and matching, but really for me I was going with the best value/deal at the time as speakers can be really expensive for something better then bottom of the barrel.

AV Receiver

For the receiver I went with the Onkyo TX-NR616, I had never purchased an Onkyo before but I can say I have been really happy with it.

The receiver can not fully power my front speakers in it’s current 7.1 configuration, if I used 5.1 it can power them fully, but the sound is still good, I don’t pump it too often… just something to keep in mind if you are purchasing an AV unit.

The one issue I have had which seems to be some kind of glitch where HDMI switching stops working after the projector is turned off, it doesn’t happen all the time… it is a random thing. Simply recycling power on the receiver corrects the issue.

IR Repeater

For extending my IR remotes (satellite receiver, AV receiver, etc…) I went the cheap route. I picked up a USB powered IR repeater from Amazon – Neoteck IR Repeater Infrared Remote 1 Receiver 4 Emitters Control Kit. I just plugged it into my AV receiver’s USB port to get power, and I installed the IR receiver discreetly along the edge of my drop ceiling. It’s cheap but it does the job and I can close my cabinet if need be and not have to fight with pointing remotes directly at the device.

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Fix graphical desktop artifacts in crossfire.

Tools:

Hawaii Bios Reader

Atiflash 4.17

Dos boot disk

HxD hex editor

Hawaii Fan Editor

I have scoured the internet for a solution to my long standing problem with my crossfire setup. After much digging my searches yielded no results. I noticed a problem where the cards when in Crossfire would artifact if they were sitting idle on the destop. I have the problem documented here.

Inside my computer I have two R9 290x cards by Gigabyte in crossfire, these are the Windforce editions. The exact model is GV-R929XOC-4GD, one uses the F2 BIOS the other uses the F11 BIOS. When I game the temps on average are about 60-70 degrees Celsius on the GPU cores, and about 95-100 degrees on the VRM. My CPU doesn’t exceed 45 degrees. Cards are at clock speeds and both BIOS versions are the same, I recently updated the BIOS on both cards, but that did not fix the issue.

In short I can do about an 2 hour gaming session and everything runs smoothly, then when I exit to desktop I get artifacts, lines coming across all 3 monitors, but as soon as I go into a game again these lines disappear. Back to desktop the lines re appear again. I bring up anything graphical like a web page or youtube, the lines will disappear, if I minimize the browser the lines reappear. If I stay on the desktop and disable crossfire, again the lines will immediately disappear.

I initially suspected it was the fact that I was running a crossfire set up. My other suspicion was that despite both cards being the same make one has memory chips by Hynix(F11 BIOS) and the other by Elpida(F2 BIOS). I believed that the problem was with the memory or rather something to do with the memory.

Note worthy, when only running a single card this artifacting problem does not occur. It only happens in crossfire and when the cards are in a low power state mode, idle, or rather when the clocks are dropped to conserve energy.

After much tweaking of the system and performing various tests it all came down to the Memory Clock, the clocks on the memory were being stepped down to almost nothing. The reason I suspected the clocks is that when I went into a graphically intensive application the problem disappeared. And the reason I knew it wasn’t the Core clock and it was the memory clock, the core clock would clock up on demand but the memory clock would not, it had two states 150 Mhz or 1250 Mhz, and it only propped up to 1250 when something graphical was being presented on the desktop or a game was being played. During “power play” mode the cards core clock drops to 350 from potential 1040 and memory drops to 150 from 1250. Mind you the core can be stepped up on demand and it does this rather well the memory apparently not so much.

To edit the BIOS files and flash them they will require a *.rom extension. The files from the manufacturer did not have this extension, I renamed the files to include the .rom extension and flashed them using Atiflash, it worked and my cards are running fine.

In order to fix the issue I had to hex edit both the cards BIOS files and flash it with AtiFlash in DOS. I also disabled ULPS. Although ULPS is not a fix to the issue I like knowing that when I hop out of a game the fans will keep spinning to cool down my card to an acceptable temperature. I don’t like the idea of one card being passively cooled after it reached 80 degrees +. I essentially edited both the cards BIOS files to never drop the Memory clock, so now the memory clock is always at 1250Mhz. And this fixed the problem. There are other tweaks to the bios I made as well, and while not necessary I also edited the BIOS core clocks, the core now never drops below 500 Mhz, the next step up is 840 Mhz, and then 1040 Mhz. This was changed from 300 Mhz, 727 Mhz, and 1040 Mhz respectively. Below is a screen shot of the PowerPlay profile changes, original on the left, and edited on the right. Capture1

Finally I also changed my fan profiles and a single temp profile. Since I raised the Core clock slightly and the memory clock completely I wanted to make sure that the card was not running hot. So I raised the fan profiles by 10% and dropped the top temperature profile by 10° C.

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New version of Hawaii Bios reader on left can edit the Fan Profile

The single temperature profile I was worried about was the 90° Celsius/100% fan, I changed it to 80° Celsius/100% fan speed. Then I raised the other fan speeds by 10%, so 56 went to 66%, and 25% went to 35%. You can see below the changes I have made to the Fan profile as displayed in Hawaii Bios Reader. Note that although Hawaii can read the Fan profiles these need to be changed in a hex editor such as HxD, only the PowerPlay values can be changed in the Hawaii Bios Reader. Alternatively you can use the Hawaii Fan Editor by DDSZ. The new version of the Hawaii Bios Reader can now edit the fan speeds and temperatures on the Fan profile page, it is no longer necessary to hex edit the ROM file.Capture2

The last step after the BIOS was edited I had to flash the file using Atiflash with in DOS. Download the boot disk and create a dos bootable flash drive. Place the rom file and atiflash in the root of the flash drive. Boot into dos and flash the new BIOS for your card. Remember to only do one card at a time and to power down after each flash. Also flash one bank at a time, I have my original and the new BIOS on each card, I used the performance bank to flash the custom BIOS. Atiflash usage is as follows:

atiflash -p 0 biosname.rom

With all these changes to the GPU BIOS on both cards I now have eliminated the Desktop artifacts. My idle card temps hover around 50° C, ~ 3-5 degrees higher than the stock BIOS clocks. And ULPS is disabled. Everything is peachy on the gaming PC.

Here are the two sample ROMs I created for my cards, F2 and F11.

For more detailed information check the below links and sources.

Disabling ULPS: Open regedit and search (Edit – Find) for EnableUlps then change the DWORD value from 1 to 0. Ignore EnableUlps_NA this does nothing. Keep searching (pressing F3) through the registry and change every entry you find in there from 1 to 0. Once finished reboot. Although disabling ULPS is not necessary I like it because with this feature off the driver does not disable the secondary card after a gaming session, which in turn allows the fans to cool the card properly instead of just shutting it down.

Editing the VGA BIOS: I used tools such at Hawaii Bios Reader, it is capable of creating a proper BIOS check sum in order to flash the card. Essentially in Hawaii Bios reader I edited the frequencies of the clocks then I proceeded to change the Fan and Temperature profiles with a Hex editor, I used HxD to do that. Be aware that if you use HxD after you use the Hawaii tool, you will need to open the hex edited file and resave it in Hawaii to it retains the right check sum for flashing. Other wise the card will not take your custom BIOS.

Sources:12, 3, 4

PC Gaming accessories: Mouse

I’ve always used Logitech mice, except for a long long time ago when I had a dell mouse which i used with one of my first gaming/school PCs. But even prior to that I had used the basic Logitech mice. I’ve tried alternatives but I find that with most companies they don’t have the ergonomics that are necessary for prolonged gaming sessions. Logitech has done ergonomics well on mice for a long time now and it is one of the few companies that still does. I still own my older G5 Laser Mouse and it’s kicking around in one of my drawers as a backup. Somewhere else in a box, stored under my staircase, hidden in there lies an old MX 510 which I picked up at staples while I was in College. The MX 510 replaced my Dell stock mouse. Then a wireless MX700 replaced that, the G5 Laser replaced that, ang again the G700 replaced that. Then recently I thought I broke the G700, I slammed in on my desk in furious moment of rage and frustration, this messed up the scroll wheel functionality. Having thought I broke the scroll wheel I replaced the G700 with a wireless and optical G602 mouse. Yes sometimes I rage when I play games… sometimes.

From my personal experience in over 2 decades of PC gaming I can confidently say that Logitech mice are rock solid, they also have a good ergonomic shape to them. I’ve tried other mice but they just don’t cut it for me like the logitech ones, they don’t have the comfort or reliability. Logitech are comfortable mice and they can take a good beating. Having said this these mice are not without their flaws, I have not found the perfect mouse yet. Even though this migth be somewhat biased on my experience go ahead and check it out.

Also for the heck of it I will toss in a couple notes about the older mice, just to reminisce a little. But mostly this is a comparison of a couple Logitech wireless gaming mice. Note that with most wireless gaming mice from Logitech they are a bit heavier due to the added weight of the batteries. This suits me just fine, I like a bit of a heavier mouse for gaming, a lot of people don’t. If that is the case a wired mouse would be the way to go.

MX510: Great ergonomic feel to the mouse, it is a basic optical mouse and designed for non gaming. I used it for gaming a lot. It was comfortable and light. It’s still in a box in my home.418E7H3ZYHL._SX300_

MX700: This was one of my first forays into the wireless/gaming mouse territory. Great ergonomic feel and shaped much like the MX510, but to be honest I wasn’t happy with this mouse. I paid $120+ for it at the time and kept it for less than a year. I gave it away to someone. The battery life on these was terrible and the performance not much better. I understand sacrificing short battery life for a wireless experience but this mouse had very few benefits to owning it.MX700-930754-0215-R-unit

G5: Solid laser mouse performer, it has an adjustable weight tray that slides in and out of the bottom of the mouse. This was my first laser mouse, I didn’t know what I was missing with optical mice until I bought this. Weight can be adjusted by inserting and removing 1.7g and 4.5g weights into a weight tray the slides in and out of the bottom of the mouse. The threaded cable shielding proved to be a burden, and I had to eventually remove it completely. The cable underneath the shielding would get trapped and fold through the shielding. I would worry that this would make the wire inside the cable tear and this is why I removed it entirely.

G402: Dubbed the Hyperion Fury. Good basic optical mouse, comfortable and good for gaming. Light for the smaller hands as to not over accelerate when aiming or moving. If you are looking for a wired gaming mouse that is non laser this would probably be it. Although the cost of $50+ is a little too much for this. Personally I do not worth the money.logitech-g402-hyperion-furyG602: After having owned laser mice this optical wireless device lacks the smoothness and the precision that I find I get out of laser precision. I find that the profile of this mouse is a little too low as well. Since I like to rest my palm on the mouse, and my hands are rather big, in longer gaming sessions my hand will start to cramp up. The battery life is amazing on this device, it takes 2 double AA batteries, and has a switch on top of the mouse to switch it into performance or endurance mode. Endurance mode allows it to sip juice from one battery at a time, and grants the user 1400 hours of device usage. Performance mode on the other hand allows it to shine in gaming at full power giving you a lesser 250 hours of use. I assume the switch changes the polling rate at which the mouse tracks movement across a surface. Personally I find this mouse ok for gaming, I’m not a fan of optical technology as any imperfections in your polling surface, such as grease and dust will mess with the optical sensor and it’s accuracy. Other than the optical sensor, the mouse it is fully featured and does not lack in other functionality, although the construction feels a little flimsy. The software is ok, just ok, but then again I never use the G software with any of the Logitech devices. I don’t much care for macro functionality as I don’t play MMOs and the software annoys me more than anything else, so it’s never on my system. Since the battery life on this is rather long this device omits the USB cable/charging option like the G700/s has. It’s a shame as the last thing you want to be doing during a gaming session is fumbling for a fresh pair of batteries. One thing to note about this mouse is that the Middle Mouse Button was dead right out of the box. This seems to be a hardware defect as stated by Logitech to one of their user on the forum. This defect also seems to be plaguing a lof of devices across this line of mice, so it is not a matter of getting a lemon out of the bunch but rather a hardware design flaw. Also the G602 has 6 thumb buttons, that’s 4 to many, and since the software is useless, that’s 4 buttons without a function. I haven’t tried it but perhaps they can be mapped directly in game via key bindings.g602_1

G700: The g700 is  a work horse of all the mice I have had. It is solid and takes a beating. Trust me, it knows how to take a beating, I’ve abused this mouse. I like the larger profile on the mouse and it is very comfortable for larger hands in longer gaming sessions. What the g602 lacks the g700 has, precision, comfort, and a short battery life. The batteries don’t last nearly as long as they do in the g602. Having said this unless you do 12 hour gaming sessions that will not be an issue, also unlike the g602 the g700 has a micro USB plug at the front so you can charge the battery and game as if you would with a wired mouse.g700

The G700s is it’s successor with minor alterations to the design, such as the sensor and the coating on the mouse which add better perspiration protection and grip. Mostly cosmetic changes over the G700. Worth every penny you pay for this mouse. I have had my g700 for 3+ years, it hasn’t skipped a beat, it’s amazing for gaming and I highly recommend it. I bought one for my buddy on his Birthday last year, he loves it as well.logitech-g700s-910-003584-rechargeable-gaming-mouse

Mousepad: The surface on which you game makes a huge difference, especially if you are using an optical mouse, not so much with a laser mouse. The optics of a mouse can be impeded by dirt, dust, or any other form of surface that is not uniform. Also try using a glass surface with an optical mouse, it will not happen. A proper mouse pad will not only provide you with a clean surface for a mouse it will also provide you with a surface that gives very little friction and resistance to mouse movement. Your acceleration will not be impeded and depending on the type of mouse pad might actually improve. I prefer the hard mouse pads over the cloth ones they are generally a low resistance surface that aid in mouse precision.mouspad

Mouse software: Do not use the G software with these mice. I noticed that the software resets the mouse values and settings, which was odd, but it did that. As soon as I removed the mouse software, immediately the mouse started functioning properly again. That is a huge fail on Logitech’s part. Other than that I appreciate the mice, they are basic, ergonomic, and for the most part reliable. 

Consoles have ruined gaming.

For the last little while I’ve been very harsh about the state of affairs in gaming, especially in the console space. Specifically with Ubisoft, EA and Activision. Console gaming exploded onto the scene in the last two decades and the 90s was perhaps the most important decade for gaming and gaming innovation both in PC and the console space. Technological leaps and graphical bounds happened during this decade. The Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and Playstation revolutionalized the 3D genre for consoles. I have never before or since enjoyed a console as much as the N64.

Nintendo_64_Logo

 

In the PC space, I remember buying an additional 4 Megabytes of RAM when DOOM II came out. I paid about $230 dollars for it. I also paired the RAM with a 16 bit Soundblaster sound card that cost me almost $150. I walked to the Futureshop at the town center with my older brother to pick it up. He was my insurance policy or rather muscle just incase someone was tempted by $400 worth of computer equipment. $400 was a lot of money for a 13 year old. It was an exciting time to be a teenager during those days and to be passionate about computers, computing, and computer games. But those days are long gone and now the Gaming industry has turned in to a perverse capitalist machine. A machine that is more concerned about profit than releasing a good functional product. I’m sorry to say it but the indie gaming industry is not immune to the above statement either.

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These corporations are trying to churn out a game each year in every one of their Intellectual Properties. Recently I even read somewhere that Ubi said they’d like to release a new assassins creed game every year. These game budgets have swelled to millions of dollars, and there are so many people on these projects that the product comes out incomplete, buggy, and usually with a day one patch. The right hand is not talking to the left hand. The reason these games come out like this is because these companies are run by CEOs that have no idea what the game subculture is actually like, and I think they are trying to mimic the model T assembly line that Henry Ford championed but with games. If this happens you can pretty much guarantee the death of the creative and innovative. The industry is sucking the life out of gaming and all the naive kids that accept mediocrity are buying the garbage that these companies are flogging.

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If anything the last two years has been a great example of how not to do business within the gaming industry. Evolve was the perfect poster child of gaming mediocrity masked by the illusion of original content and thought. The game was plagued by repetitive play, then came the DLC content overload. I read somewhere that if you bought Evolve and all the silly DLC that does not come with it by default you would spend about $200 on the game. If that isn’t a cash grab I don’t know what is. Then the broken game of Halo Master Chief Collection was another blunder. The online portion of the game wasn’t playable for 3 months after release. Guess what you consolation prize was for buying a game and not being able to play it? One free week of Xbox Live, ha ha ha, what a fucking joke. Don’t get me started on the actual operating system of the Xbox One, it is broken, and it is broken badly. The online experience is painful at best, there are so many bugs and glitches in it that most online play is met with frustration and anger.

Wii_U_Logo

All this leads me to the Wii U. I was always a firm believer that the only honest company and the only one that cares was Nintendo. Their games, albeit few and far in between, almost never needed a day one patch. You could usually play them straight out of the box, and their DLC prices for Mario Kart 8 were extremely reasonable. They were driven by gaming and creating fun games based on their already existing IPs. I was always a firm believer… but I was wrong!

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Toad_amiibo

Insert the amiibo. The amiibo is essentially an NFC enabled figurine that allows you to recall data associated with said amiibo. Well at first I was ok with these figurines, as they would mean a new revenue stream for Nintendo and the kids would have something cool to put in their rooms. I though it would be a sort of memory card that would hold your characters stats and you could carry it over to your friends house, tap it on their controller, and voila your character appears. Well I was completely wrong. Not completely wrong but overall wrong. You can still do with amiibo’s what I described above, however that is not all that they can do, let me tell you about the dark side of the amiibo. Some amiibo’s unlock game content. Tor example the Toad amiibo unlocks extra content in the game Captain Toad Treasure Tracker. I kid you not, and that is not the worst part either, the worst part is that Nintendo is doing limited runs on some of these. What does that mean? It means you are shit out of luck, unless you want to pay $30 CDN to someone online, where the retail price is $13.99 CDN. What about the coveted Gold Mario amiibo, $50, fortunately the Mario amiibo has 3 versions at this moment so any content locked behind the Mario amiibo can still be accessed with the other two figures. In the end Nintendo has created a black market for their amiibo figures. In my books this is worse than any of the other sketchy business practices that the console industry employs. With that said goodbye Nintendo, and finally, goodbye console gaming. You will wither into obscurity as mobile gaming is gaining traction and replacing the casual console gamer. PC gaming was  and always will be my mistress.

Update: Someone recently said to me.. “Consoles haven’t ruined gaming we’re just getting old.”. Nah, I don’t believe this at all, I still play games, I just play them on the PC where there is variety in gaming and the prices are not ridiculous. Also I can pinpoint exactly when consoles ruined gaming, this happened as soon as they became online capable. As soon as online capability was no longer a pipe dream for consoles DLC became a prevalent presence of the profit margin for gaming. This was true for the Xbox 360s and the PS3s. With the newer generation of consoles the Ubisofts and EAs took this a step further, now these companies would release broken games and with the online necessity of the Xbox One and PS4 they would patch the games as they see fit. This multi-billion dollar industry needs to be regulated, there needs to be a set of standards. Everything else has a lemon policy, and software should as well.

Update 2: COD Black Ops 3 was recently announced and with it further proof that gaming is just a cash grab for the industry. I haven’t for a long time nor will I ever again suppor this franchise. Check out the price.CaptureI rest my case!

 

Hardline Beta… all aboard the hype train.

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6 months have passes since the last beta and the game still plays like an old lady with a hip replacement trying to cross the street. That’s right folks despite EA trying to cram this crap down your throat and stating that they have fixed some issues with the game, and despite the delay in releasing the game, fundamentally the game hasn’t changed from it’s previous beta state. What were they doing for the last 6 months? Fixing Battlefield 4?

BF Hardline feels like a Battlefield 4 mod, a bad bad mod at that. I am still a firm believer that this game should have been an expansion pack to BF4 and not a stand alone game. It should have been an expansion which lends all the elements from BF4 and then it should have been skinned it to look like Hardline. It does not feel like a AAA title and there is no way in hell that EA will have me part with $70 plus taxes for this abysmal attempt at a video game. This is just another attempt at highway robbery by a AAA title publisher.

The game tries to be like counter strike, and it falls flat on it’s face. You can’t be counter strike, don’t even attempt it, there is a reason CS hasn’t changed their formula for their game in over a decade This formula works and it works well. People still play and compete in CS to this day. There is a reason Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Counter-Strike are in the list of the top ten most played games on Steam.

Folks this game is going to have a big problems on release, it will have the similar issues that BF4 experienced. Playing the current beta I noticed similar stutter and lag as in BF4 pre November patch. Let’s face it the BF4 engine which this game is built on, is flawed. The engine is so flawed that the last major patch released for BF4 used BF3 animations and it had a bunch of code rewritten. Code that has been re written from the release of Battlefield 4.

The internet is trying to hype this game a lot, but what I’ve learned from the internet in the last year is that the same people that try and hype this garbage are being paid off by these companies to do so. These AAA video game companies are trying to pull a fast one with these poorly designed games, you should reply in kind and vote with your wallet.

In the end there is nothing to see here just a poor BF4 skin that plays nothing like BF4, I’m not talking the actual game modes, I’m talking player movement and over all feel of the game. It feels like a sluggish arcade shooter which will never occupy space on my hard drive. I cringe at the thought that somebody will actually pay for this game. Try the Beta and let me know what you think.

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Nevermind the Oculus Rift, I’ll take a Microsoft HoloLens.

The Windows 10 presentation and the Microsoft presentation took me completely by surprise. Windows 10 and the Xbox gaming experience, the nice integration of Steam into the Xbox app and other neat little features. Let’s not forget the Microsoft Surface Hub, all in all not too shabby.

Let’s get back to my main point. Everyone has been all over the Oculus Rift for the last year or so, and VR in general. Recently even Samsung released their version of a VR headset, Gear VR. Personally I think that Gear VR is a complete waste of your money. You are limited to Apps on a closed software eco system and you are limited to one manufacturer, and at the moment one phone. All aboard the fail boat. Also all these VR headsets promise only 1080p resolution split in half, each half for each eye. In an age where UHD televisions will be taking over soon, and where 2560×1440/1600 is pretty much the norm for computer monitors, VR headsets have a little catching up to do. Next gen PC video cards will be able to handle UHD gaming as well. Also I’d like to mention the Canadian equivalent of the Oculus, the Totem VR by a Canadian company from Montreal.

Then there is the fact that VR is very anti-social. You close your senses off to the rest of the world and delve into one just by yourself.

Insert the Microsoft HoloLens. Have a look at the commercial.

This isn’t just a device for entertainment, this is also a collaboration tool. A multipurpose device that uses Augmented Reality (AR) to display computer generated images, and video streams around your home. Microsoft had to actually create a new Processing Unit for this. A processor which measures and calculates your surroundings in order to render images and sounds via the HoloLens and it makes sure they are rendered in the appropriate space. I’m talking about the new HPU or Holographic Processing Unit.

The applications for this processor alone are amazing. New mapping technologies, and new ways to map areas. Imagine a quadrocopter fitted with one of these HPUs sending back telemetry data in real time, you could map and navigate areas that were previously inaccessible to humans. It is said that NASA is using the HoloLens as a collaboration tool for it’s Mars mission.

Surely this is a hit for Microsoft, I personally can not wait to get my hands on one of these devices. I have shifted from contemplating getting a VR headset to most definitively getting a HoloLens. Well played Microsoft. Get your wallets ready.

UPDATE 2016/03/09: Never mind the Hololens, Microsoft over promised and under delivered. The Hololens is a steaming pile of shit. The HTC VIVE came out swinging and I pre-ordered that. Room scale VR is where it’s at at the moment.

Evolve Big Alpha

Like many around the globe I received an Evolve Big Alpha key on Thursday, and last night I downloaded the game and got a chance to try it out. My first impressions are right after the video.

So as you can see Evolve is an asymmetrical multi-player game. What does that mean, well it’s 4 vs 1, not 2 vs 2, etc. In the video you can see me playing as a support guy and as the monster. The monster is big, fast, and strong. The human characters are generic, and your typical space shooter characters, not much there really. I found that the monster was a little to powerful and the human characters were a little too weak. But I’m sure there will be some balancing done on this game in it’s near future. More than anything though I found that the game doesn’t really require any skill. At it’s core it’s very basic, great for the pre-teen in your household. Much like CoD I think this will be the target demographic of Evolve. In general I found that the game is very underwhelming. My excitement lasted all of about 5 minutes and then it quickly subsided due to it’s lack of skill level requirement. The game is just not challenging enough for me to keep playing for an extended period of time. In my personal opinion there needs to be more to the game, maybe the maps need to be more interactive. Perhaps the addition of levers and switches that change the layout of a map and change the pace of the game. If this would occur the human players would be forced to alter their strategies and change their play style, in the end this would alter the flow of the game. There is one thing that the developer did right and they deserve credit for it, this would be the basic level design. When I was running around as the monster trying to feed and Evolve I wasn’t getting hung up on the map and areas with in the map, well done.

Having played the Alpha, I will not be picking up the final product. I can not see the final product being much different from the current Alpha, aside from the standard balancing and what not of course. Being able to play as the monster was fun for a short while but it was short lived and over all the game is a huge snooze fest. The game didn’t really draw me in, and in my personal opinion this is a testament to it’s mediocrity.

Happy Halloween and Happy Gaming.

Did you have a different gaming experience in Evolve, what did you or did you not like about it?