Micro$soft Azure Good for the game?

With the ever evolving gaming market the introduction of cloud computing as a means to get the upper hand on the competition is not surprising. The option to offload complex physics and object calculations to a remote powerful server is a logical evolution of the gaming environment. Will it be a good thing, in the long run most likely. Will it be a good thing right now, I would have to say no.

 

At the moment network infrastructure of the internet in the USA is lacking and out dated. With a total of about 70% of households having broadband, internet speed of 3.5mbps down and 1mbps up with the reliability of these connections being questionable outside of major metropolitan areas, limits the potential usefulness of cloud based services. With no real information on the speeds needed on the client side for a reliable experience, it would be safe to assume it would similar to that of Sony’s Playstaion Now service that recommends a 5Mbps connection, meaning that if you stuck with limited ISP options and slower end speeds the service will not work well if at all.

 

Assuming internet speeds in the USA rise drastically in the next to to three years there is still one issue that has been blatantly obvious with the launch of the game Titanfall, which utilizes Microsoft Azure for its online features, stability. The game has suffered from several outages of the Azure service causing the game to not be playable. The push to use this on a large scale I feel is a bit premature. If rolled out in a large scale this might lead to mad consumers and a bad taste in the mouths of gamers for the idea of cloud gaming.

 

Really it comes down to a good idea coming a little too soon. If could computing is going to make it on the large scale internet speeds will need to improve, a bit more time in the oven will be needed for the server side and a slow roll out would be a safe idea.

 

 

http://www.joystiq.com/2014/03/10/respawn-titanfalls-server-stability-is-in-microsofts-azure-ha/

http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/8/5287080/sony-discusses-playstation-nows-future-bandwidth-requirements

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/will-your-internet-be-fast-enough-to-stream-playstation-now/1100-6417023/

http://www.statetechmagazine.com/article/2013/02/average-internet-connection-speed-every-state-america

http://www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america/2013/February

http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/08/26/home-broadband-2013/

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Titanfall, why did you go there bro?

So like many people yesterday I picked up the big title release for the month of March, Titanfall, I picked it up for the PC as I feel its not going to be worth the price of a new system for the one game. There’s been little to no issues with the launch that I have experienced on the PC other then the longer then expected wait times at first to find match making that seem to have been fixed, like they claimed, last night.

 

Over all impression of the game so far is that its a solid shooter that brings a nice change to the genera but does not bring enough to make it worth the hype it has received. The idea/hype of the game being this large scale combat game I feel really fall flat, the maps often feel cramped, the layouts feel like clones of each other with different skinning. The visuals so far have not impressed, being based off the aging Source Engine I feel has a big part to do with this, they feel flat and dated. The fact you have games like Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4 with there stunning graphics, large scale maps (BF4) and large player numbers only seems to dampen what Titanfall might have been if it where made with a modern game engine. Honestly I feel this shows the lack of raw power the “next-gen” consoles have in comparison the there PC counter parts, the fact that the choice was made to use this old engine then the fact that the system can’t preform where it should, come on Dev’s/Console makers, your going to have to step it up with a visual hungry audience.

 

As for ‘large’ scale combat Titanfall, and the gaming media, have seemed to forget about games like the Tribes series for large scale. The maps where massive, the players per match reached 120+ and the combat could last hours in an epic tug of war for flag captures or point control. It just bugs me to no end that PC games that have been out pacing consoles in the scale game seem to be forgotten about due to marketing and hype. Come on people we can do better!

 

I regress, the facts are Titanfall is a solid shooter that should be around for the next few years. It feels very much like the needed change to the shooter genre to break it free from the death-grip that was Call of Duty. Now if only they realize that not selling maps and expansions, but giving them away, will get them a much longer run for sales of there games and a much happier fan base.

Dogecoin, much coin wow!

dogecoin

There’s a new digital gold rush going on and this time its all about the math. The media, traditional banks, and governments seem to hate the idea but with the recent media attention its hard to deny the fact that Bitcoin is here and its spawn of other types of  cryptocurrency(1) are exploding, from the best known Bitcoin(2), Litecoin(3) and Namecoin(4) to the less known and new kids like Dogecoin(5), Penguincoin(6) and the soon to be Rubycoin(7) at the moment its an endless sea of opportunity for those willing to take  a chance on what coin might boom and what what coin will go bust. With the allure of being that guy that bought his super car(8) with the new hot coin, I have to admit I have tossed my hat into the ever growing ring.

:Disclaimer: The nature of cryptocurrency makes it a very risky investment. Use this information at your own risk. This information is for educational and entertainment only. You should make sure of your countries laws in regards to the practice of digital currency trading, as it might not be legal in your area. :Disclaimer:

I will be documenting my journey to the center of the cryptocurrency (I’m going to short hand it with crypto) world here while trying to make sense for those wandering what the nuts and bolts of this whole mining thing. Im going to be linking A LOT of other sites and keeping it to the bare bones basics here to keep more manageable.

Useful Basics

If you feel like jumping right in I would suggest heading over to the source of all knowledge when it comes to crypto, the bitcointalk.org forum.

:Coins:

Dogecoin – DOGE

Bitocoin – BTC

Litecoin – LTC

Penguincoin – PENG

:Terms:

Hash-rate – The speed your miner can solve the math problems needed to find coins. The higher the has-rate the better.

Mining Pool(e) – A group that pools all there has-rate together to solve math faster. The findings are split between the people of the pool according to what ever rules have been set by the pool.

Miner – The thing doing to mining. The hardware

Worker – A type of account setup within a pool to track who has mined what.

GPU – Graphics Processing Unit or simply your computers graphics card.

ASIC – Application Specific Integrated Circuit its a chip to do one thing, mine.

FPGA – Field-programmable gate array(e) programmable chip that can mine at GPU speeds and uses low power. I have not personally looked into these yet.

Wallet – A digital wallet, coins are stored and sent from it using a unique id. Each coin type has its own wallet at the moment.

[Mining Wiki(d)]

:Mining:

Mining coins at the moment comes down to the type of hashing algorithm(9) it uses, as of now most of them are based off of either SHA-256(a) or scrypt(b).  With both types of coins you are more likely to see a return in your investment if you join a pool.

SHA-256 Base

You will need a miner based off of ASIC(c) hardware. As a general rule of thumb if the coin takes an ASIC setup to mine it, its going to hit the pocket book HARD. At the moment a good miner of this type will run from about 1,500$ to 15,00$+ You can find slower ASIC minters on eBay and Amazon but the fact that they are being sold tells you they are no longer a viable means of making any sort of decent return.

scrypt Base

At the moment you will be able to get away with using a miner based off of its GPU power. At the moment this is a very popular option for new coins to use scrypt as it levels the playing field since at the moment there is no real presents of ASIC miners for this type of coin.

:Common Mining Software:

CUDAMiner – Used with Nvidia GPU’s

BFGMiner – A cross-platform miner used with ASIC/GPU/CPU/FPGA

CGMiner – A cross-platform miner used with ASIC/GPU/FPGA

CPUMiner – A simple miner to use a CPU to mine. It was made to mine SHA-256 based coins, versions to mine scrypt coins are around

Ok with the info about what is used to do the work its time to move onto picking a coin, picking a pool and mining! For me I picked Dogecoin and Penguincoin, the reasons where both coins are scrypt based, meaning my gaming computer can mine at a decent rate, and the fact both are laughable as a currency and who doesn’t like a good laugh. Come on, it would be epic to be the guy buying a super car with Dogecoin!

My next big hurdle was picking a pool. When you search for mining pools I learned they seem to popup faster then Walmarts in the mid-west, and the look about as reputable as a used car lot at first glance. At the moment it looks as if the majority of the pools all use the same software to manage there site, thus making it that much harder to try and find the right one. With some trial and error, mixed in with a bunch of reading I settle with united-miners.com for my Dogecoin mining and multi-pool.eu for my Penguin coin mining. I choice these sites based off of the fact one the Doge one uses HTTPS, they where listed on the pool list of each coins site and the fact they had support that got back to me when I asked questions, and finally the percent they charge for fee’s. At the moment I have had no issues with either site and would be happy to recommend either. I will add though if united-miners adds penguin coins to the pool I will be transitioning from multi-pool to them as they enforce more security features when it comes to accounts and account changes.

:Pool Basics:

Do not use the same password at the pool that you use anywhere else.

Use a strong password that is a random mix of upper case and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Personally I did a huge security sin and wrote it down on a piece of paper and have it hidden around my desk. Mind you I do NOT have it saved on my computer. If you are going to save it to your computer encrypt it so it can not simply opened and copied.

Its recommended to use a good email service that offers login verification. Gmail is a common one as its simple and fast to setup a 2-step verification. This is an important step to help minimize the chance of someone breaching your account and transferring you balance of coins from the pool to there wallet. Coin theft is real and can the losses and be huge!

Personally I setup a email account for just mining just as an extra step to protect my primary email from being breached. (Personal and work stuff email)

With my next post I will be covering setting up the mining pool account, getting a wallet, picking a miner and mining!

:External links:

(1) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptocurrency

(2) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

(3) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litecoin

(4) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namecoin

(5) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogecoin

(6) – https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=442876.0

(7) – http://www.rubycoin.org/

(8) – http://articles.latimes.com/2013/dec/12/local/la-me-ln-lamborghini-bitcoin-20131212

(9) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptographic_hash_function

(a) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA-2

(b) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrypt

(c) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application-specific_integrated_circuit

(d) – https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining

(e) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-programmable_gate_array

Titanfall/Nvidia Check it.

If you happen to find yourself like many people these days moving from desktop computing to mobile here is one very helpful tip/trick to know about if you have a laptop running an Nvidia GPU.

Most laptops that feature Nvidia Gfx now come with a feature called Optomis. The function of Optimus is to try and guess what GPU to use for what application to try and save power. So for example with Titanfall since it was based on the source engiene Optimus choice to use the integrated Intel GPU. The game did run ok mind you when everything was set on low but with the laptop running a GTX 670m as well I knew it should be able to have it on high at least.

What do you do if this happens to you? Follow these simple steps to force the Nvidia card to be used and enjoy the results!

Click Image to enlarge

!. Right click the desktop and select Nvidia Control Panel

Set-1

2.  Select Mange 3D Settings

Set-2

3. Select Program Settings

Set-3

4. Select Add

Set-4

5. When this menu comes up it will list recent programs that have run. It should have the game you wish to add but if it does not select Browse and browse to the location of the game’s .exe file. This can be found in a few different ways. If you are running/launching the game from Steam Right Click the installed game then goto Properties> Local Files Tab > Browse Local Files. If you are running the game from Origin you can find the file in C:\Program Files(x86)\Origin Games or C:\Program Files\Origin Games. If you installed the game on a secondary hard drive change the drive letter as needed.

Set-5

6. Select the games .exe file and click open.

Set-6

7. Now simply select select the Nvidia card as the prefered graphics card to use hit apply and your done!

Set-7

These steps are done on a non-SLI laptop I do not have access to a SLI machine to update them as needed. I will add instructions for getting a Laptop with a SLI setup to run correctly once I get a hold of one.

Hope this helps out and happy gaming!

Titanfail? Any one? No?

titanfall

So after a few issues with getting Titanfall up and running on my PC, wrong beta code sent by EA/Server Issues, I can say the game plays much better then I would have imagined. The game play as you probably know consists of playing as a pilot then when the time has been reached or once you have gathered enough points you can call down a titan. It would seem that if one team was racking up score quick in the early game and calling it Titans it would be the end of a match, by I’m pleased to say its far from over if one side reaches calling in a titan first. Over all the action felt very fluid and well thought out, from wall jumps to ‘rodeoing’ a Titan (Jumping on its head and shooting the sh%t out of its “brain”), I feel like the action just doesn’t stop. I can honestly say I hope this game does very well, but I feel at the moment it is doomed to be a flash in the pan.

At the moment I have a little over 2 hours of game play on the beta and feel like I have played the game out. I’m sure as time goes and they add content the level cap will grow from 14 to much higher and the limited 5 or 6 guns will grow as well, but is that enough? It reminds me of when the last Gears of War came out, everyone I knew bought it and played non-stop for a couple of weeks. After that the game was well, played out. The limited maps, play styles and well lack of content just lost all its appeal and we all went out different ways. I have a feeling unless they have an ace up there sleeve, Titanfall is doomed to the same fate.

We will need to see some drastic changes to game play and additions I feel if this game is going to have a good run. Addition of maps, game types and weapons as free updates would be a very wise move in the right direction. In a world of pay to win and pay for just maps gamers don’t expect quality anymore they just want what they know, but I can say I for one am not that way and I know quite a few of my friends are the same. We expect more from the publishers such as was once common free updates and game content. This is the perfect game to go back to releasing maps and game types as just part of the normal update process and not as some “added” value bullsh@t.

But I digress, the fact of the matter is Titanfall does have a lot, and I mean A LOT of potential to be a giant in the history of gaming, I just feel that if the makers follow the major trends in gaming at the moment it will become like so many other games of this era and fall away quickly and quietly will no one really missing it.

Titanfall Beta Wrong Code Fix

So this morning I awoke to the following email –

“Congratulations: You’ve been selected for participation in the Titanfall Beta!
The Titanfall Beta is now LIVE and ready for you to jump in. Here is your single-use code redeemable directly on your Xbox One console:”

My only problem is that I don’t own an Xbox One and I signed up for the PC beta sad days… Well there is good news if you found yourself in the same situation, you can get that beta code swapped for a PC one and its an easy process! Just don’t give the code away or you will be out of luck!

If you want to try and swap your code check out this simple work around issued by EA on the issue. It took them about 2 hours to respond to my support ticket and sort it out. Once they did all was well!!

http://help.ea.com/en/article/titanfall-beta-code-platform-issue-and-workaround/

Hope this helps out a few people!

Sony why you no spend money?

 

psn-ddos

So the game Outlast released today for the PS4 and is free for PlayStation Plus members, as I am one of said members I was super excited to hear this! So I booted up ye’ old Netflix Play, aka Playstion 4 lets me honest here, and to dismay I found an error message while trying to access the Playstion Store. It seems with the combination of the system update they pushed yesterday and the interest in Outlast it has DDos’s the PSN, again…

With game launches being plauged with server issues becoming the norm this did not surprise me but also makes me very sad and very mad. For the life of me I can not figure out why these billion dollar companies are nickle and diming on network infrastructure when there latest and greatest products, not only gaming consoles mind you, rely heavily  on the internet and networks. The cost of servers is cheap now, the fact I can rent out a server for a few bucks a month or lease a fairly beefy dedicated server for under a hundred makes me mad that these companies are not sinking money into the growth of such a vital part of there products feature. What is it going to take? A mass movement of customers from your platform to say PC? Maybe a shareholders meeting that has some representatives that are a bit more of the gaming generation to yell at the CEO and CFO about how they are losing customers every time this happens. So far I feel the PS4 is a very solid platform for gaming BUT this type of thing makes me want to sell it and drop the money into a video card for my PC and leave consoles in the last decade. Its just crazy…..

 

Anyway if you read this and happen to know how to get a hold or Sony’s CEO or another gaming big wigs tell them to pull there heads out of there asses. They are killing there own products, and it makes me sad.