Monday, November 17, 2014

Playstation TV with Apple Airport, ymmv

I got my hands on a brand new Playstation TV last Friday as the micro console finally launched here on the old world. I've been eyeing it since ever it was announced in Japan (at TGS I believe last year and actually had to fight the temptation to pick one up in Akiba last spring. 
Over the weekend I tried various ways of getting it to work optimally with my Apple Airport based network. I wanted the lowest latency possible so I could stream Call of Duty from the PS4 in the living room to my desk TV without any perceptible lag.

I think I got very close.

To start with, here is my setup before PS TV.

Modem -1m wired> 3TB Timecapsule -15m wired> Airport Extreme
                                        \-wireless> 2TB Timecapsule
                                        \-wireless> Airport Express

We'll disregard the wireless devices since they don't matter. Wirelessly connecting your Playstation TV to the network or even connecting the PSTV directly to the PS4 via the direct WiFi connection is not a recipe for success. Especially not in a heavily congested area like I live in with over 50 2.4 Ghz access points within range. 

1st try.

3TB Timecapsule -15m wired> Airport Extreme -2m wired> PSTV
     \- 1m wired> PS4

While this setup is fully wired I immediately ran into two problems. 
One was that there was a very perceptible input lag which made shooters unplayable. But even worse was a stutter that would completely freeze the game up for a fraction of a second every 2-3 seconds. 
Not optimal at all.

2nd try.

Airport Extreme -15m wired> PSTV
   \- 1m wired> PS4

This got rid of the micro freezes but still experienced input lag. Games like Diablo 3 and such were totally playable like this but shooter were not.

3rd try.

Airport Extreme -15m wired> PS4
   \- 1m wired> PSTV

Well that's odd, swapping the two around made the situation much better. This could be due to a multitude of things including the faster image processing on the TV on my desk. In this setup I'm able to play any game with no perceptible lag. Although not ideal as I had to gut my network structure to do so. 

4th try. 

Airport Extreme -1m wired> Netgear Gbit switch -15m wired> PSTV
                                                  \-1m wired> PS4

Trying this as soon as my switch comes in. If this works I'll leave both on the dedicated switch and wire everything else back up as before. Will update once I know more.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Destiny - my thoughts

So I'm about 6 hours into Destiny, it's been okay. A famous quote from someone at Bungie (which I'm probably misquoting) is that they strive for 10 seconds of fun and repeating that over and over. And the game succeeds at that. The core mechanic is fun and it feels right.

Unfortunately, the fun isn't all that the repeat over and over.

Echoing what undoubtedly every other publication has already said is that the recycling of content and the bland generic mission design within that content is a huge problem. The last game that so blatantly recycled content that I can remember was Dragon Age 2 and it got critically panned for it. 

Unlike other MMO's the game only has a few zones and these zones like an MMO spawn the same groups of enemies and the same locations over and over. Your few missions take place in between these random mobs. Everything you do gets you XP and sometimes loot (see below.)

And it is an MMO, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not in the way that the game forces you to group but in a way that the game is simply a lot less fun without others. Don't solo this game, just don't do it. This isn't like Halo where you have groups of AI marines to back you up. Playing solo just makes you feel alone and the respawn mechanic actively punishes you for this. So why is there no open game mode where you can drop in to someone else's game or they can drop into yours. Not unlike Diablo 3. If you know your game is a miserable experience solo, what do you care that sometimes there is a level difference or that some people may have to play through a mission twice?

It's also a loot game, but the loot sucks. For all the examples out there like Borderlands, Diablo 3 and the piles of MMORPG's out there. How hard is it to design a loot system that actually encourages the grinding that your levelling structure demands? I'm level 8 but am still wearing level 4 boots as I haven't been able to find nor buy a pair of boots anywhere. ANY boots, better or worse.

I played a few matches of Crucible, it was hideously unbalanced. I stopped caring about it pretty quickly. This is not Halo's multiplayer, it's trying to emulate pretty much every other generic shooter out there. No tactics, poor level design and one hit kill weapons abound. 

Will I finish the story? Probably, if I can find people to play with. Will I uninstall this pretty soon afterwards? Very likely. Is this the game were were promised? Not by a long shot....

After a number of patches from Bungies side to improve the loot situation and finding a bunch of goons to play with I did manage to stick it out till hitting level 27 and indeed finish the story.

Now, mid November, as the torrent of games has started I've finally said my goodbyes to Destiny.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Logitech G35 on Playstation 4

Yes, the Logitech G35 works just fine on your PS4.
Change the volume from the Playstation button -> Adjust Devices menu.

That is all, you're welcome.

After scouring the inter webs for 20 minutes to look this up, I decided to dig up my own G35 and just try it out. So you don't have to (or maybe now you want to...)

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Last Night

Got 5 minutes, like Cyberpunk and want to play something amazing right now?

Check out The Last Night at

It's the best 5 minutes you'll spend today. Looking forward to the Kickstarter ;-)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Surface Pro 3 - first impressions

The Surface Pro 3 is not "the tablet that can replace your laptop"and if that's what you are looking for then stop looking. That mythical all-in-one convergence device simply doesn't exist yet.
What the Surface Pro 3 is however is a powerful productivity device that while not what you were looking for might be exactly what you need.

The Surface in question here is a middle of the road Core i5 with 256GB of storage. Adding the type cover, Office 365 Personal and a perhaps redundant 13" Incipio Ronin sleeve my grand total came to $ 1.598,- which is frankly a lot of money, twice as much as my iPad Air 4g 64GB for example. On that note, if you are in the market for a tablet, get the iPad and stop reading this piece as the rest of it is totally irrelevant.

Still here?

The reason for that rather blunt statement is that as a pure tablet the Surface Pro 3 is simply a failure. Way too heavy to comfortably hold in either orientation for longer than a minute or two and too large to balance on an uneven surface. The legacy of windows gives most apps a exceptionally poor touch interface and the majority simply don't support portrait mode. Also the kickstand is absolutely useless as the slightest touch of the Surface while propped up on it sends it sliding all over the place on any kind of smooth surface like... a table or a desk. Making the device unsuitable for anything other than passive content consumption. A tablet you can't use as a tablet is completely redundant.

But, with the type cover connected, that awkward device becomes an amazing ultra portable, powerful and convenient Win 8.1 laptop. For one, the keyboard instantly stops the surface from sliding all over your desk and gives you all the keys you need to be productive in the included applications. You'll quickly learn how to move between the keyboard and the touchscreen to get things done in the most efficient manner and even the most die hard Windows 7 hold-out might finally get what Microsoft was aiming for with Windows 8. The included pen was great for making quick notes but personally, unless you're an artist, I think the pen is a hold-over from a bygone era and not really that useful anymore for those of us with mouse/trackpad and typing skills. The trackpad itself is actually the only downside to the type cover as it's not as responsive as I'm used to from other notebooks.

So as a first impression, it's probably one of the worst tablets I've ever used and at the same time one of the best ultraportables. At this price however it's still very hard to recommend this over a MacBook Air unless you just absolutely need Windows.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Divinity Original Sin Review

Now I must admit, I wasn't part of the original Kickstarter on this one. As it was launched around the time I was suffering from a now common affliction called Kickstarter fatigue. 

In hindsight, that was a mistake. 

I'm about 12 hours in and enjoying myself immensely. The game is a breath of fresh air in a genre that seems to be obsessed with chasing wide open world and often forgetting to put anything interesting in them. In Divinity every part of the gameplay map servers some kind of purpose. From providing place to find a secret to an interesting spot for one of the games tactical turn based encounters.

And it are these encounters that are the highlight of the game for me. Taking the rich tactical options of games like Baldurs Gate and more recently the original Dragon Age and putting them in a X-Com like framework with actions costing a set number of points. Unspent points carry over to the next round adding an even deeper level of strategy where some spells and abilities require you to save some points from the previous turn. That's on top of an already very varied menu of tactical options.

I'm playing as a Ranger and Cleric. Which gives me access to a number of archery abilities, tens of special arrow heads from standard exploding and poisoning to steam and smoke screens. On the Cleric I get healing, buffs and the ability to cast a number of offensive spells. You're never at a loss for options.

Apart from the two "main" characters you can swap additional characters in and out of your party. Supplementing your two mains. Just for the combat, Divinity: Original Sin is worth the price of admission.

That doesn't mean other areas are underdeveloped, graphically the game looks better than most most higher budget commercial games and those graphics are backed up by some great sound effects, okay voice acting and the usual suite of fantasy music. Again, the battle music is the standout here which is good because some of the battles tend to last in the tens of minutes.

The story so far has been a bit slow going, taking me through a traditional murder investigation plot while funnelling me from area to area. While the game is essentially non-linear it's the enemies levels which in practice gate you from certain areas. There is simply no way your level 3 guys will be taking out that mob of level 5 Orcs without either a lot of luck or patience. Better try again when you've levelled up a bit. But the setup of the story is promising and I will certainly be playing more of it to see where it goes.

All in all, I recommend you pick this one up if you're a fan of classic RPG's and tactical battles. Those of you looking for an open world RPG or a more MMO like experience will not find what you're looking for here.