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Showing posts from December, 2014

In which I make a killing (not!) selling Steam trading cards.

I don't really understand Steam trading cards. I know they appear in my Steam inventory when I play games and I am vaguely aware that they come in sets which can be collected to make something else ( badges apparently ). I have never made a badge and I never even been fortunate enough to acquire a complete set. In fact I don't think that is even without actively buying cards. I would happily ignore the whole business except for the fact that they are trade-able. Trading cards can be bought and sold on the Steam community market for real money (well actually Steam credit but given that I have an ongoing healthy expenditure on games it amounts to the same thing). Every time you examine a trading card in your inventory it tells you how much similar cards are selling for on the Steam market. This causes me angst. There is a market out there with buyers and sellers. There is money to be made and money to be lost.  I image that Gevlon Goblin , if he ever discovers the Steam market

Shadow of Mordor - Like a Chinese take-away

They say you feel hungy again an hour after finishing a Chinese take away and that is sort of how I feel about Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor. I really enjoyed the game but now that I have just finished it I am not sure if it will leave any lasting memories. The game play, the setting and the whole presentation are absolutely terrific but overall it is a collection of fun gaming activities rather than a massive integrated work. The story itself (of the game not of Lord of the Rings) is fairly forgettable which doesn't help but I actually think the enormous freedom the game give you also contributes to this lack of overall purpose. Come to think of it I felt very similarly about finishing Far Cry 3. Perhaps this is a feature of what are being described as Ubisoft style open world games. Another gripe is that the game forgoes a final epic boss fight in lieu of a sequence of quick time events (press X to not die sort of thing). This is a let down in my opinion and is somewhat su

PC Update: Final piece of the puzzle

Over-clocking the Ageing CPU was the final stage required to bring my ageing gaming rig up to 2015 specification. Original post here: Earlier trials had proven my i5-760 had plenty of over-clocking headroom while maintaining stability but that the stock Intel heat-sink was unable to dissipate the additional heat generated. A  Zalman CPS10X   heatsink addressed that problem for a modest €26 additional investment. Zero points for neat cabling but at least the airways are clear.  I had taken  measurements well and fitting the large heatsink posed no real problems although it took a while because I had to remove the motherboard to fit a rear retaining plate. The i5-760 has a factory locked multiplier so over-clocking is a trade-off that requires adjustments to cpu, ram and IMC voltages and timings. I used the utiliti

PC Update 3: SSD Caching Software: PrimoCache or VeloSSD?

This is third in a series of updates about the steps I am taking to extend the life of my gaming PC. You can read the original post My error in buying a 64Gb standard SSD rather than a dedicated cache drive means I have to look for separate caching software. Owners of newer Intel motherboards may be able to avail of Intel's Smart Response caching service but I have to look for a third party solution and the two leading contenders seem to be Romex Software's PrimoCache and EliteBytes VeloSSD . There is only one desktop version of Primocache and the cheapest single computer personal license is $29.99. This doesn't appear to have restrictions in terms of number of disks or disk size and it supports two level caching (ram and SSD). The base version of Velossd does not support ram caching but they offer a new product MaxVeloSSD which offers two level caching and is directly comparable to Pri

Asassin's Creed Unity first impressions

Nvidia are giving away free  Ubisoft games with their GTX970/980 video cards and I chose Assassin's Creed Unity. Eighteenth century Paris was too tempting a prize to turn down. There is a lot of forum discontent about the game because the initial release was apparently badly optimised and buggy in places. The  minimum system specs are huge but Nvidia cards seem to fare better than AMD in this game so I reckoned that AC Unity was a good a way to test my recent upgrades . I have only played for about an hour so far but I am delighted to say that the game is running very smoothly so far. I am playing in Very High quality, 1680x1050, 60fps with Vsync on. I am a little surprised at it running so well because my ageing cpu is below minimum spec. No evidence of glitches or stuttering yet. Fingers crossed. I am even more delighted to say that the rendition of 18th century Paris is absolutely stunning.   The clothes, the architecture and the furniture are completely gorgeous and the cit

Extending the life of my gaming PC (Update)

Original post here: The parts I have ordered to extend the life of my gaming PC are beginning to come in. First up was the additional 4Gb memory. Although I bought these second hand to keep costs down they turned out to have almost identical specifications and timings to the memory already in place. This could be useful for over-clocking of which more later. The second part to arrive was my Inno3D GTX 970. I haven't had much opportunity to play with it yet but I am very impressed so far. Shadows of Mordor on my HD5850 benched at 42fps average with medium settings. The GTX970 is hitting over 120 fps with the same settings a 3x improvement. It manages 100+ fps with ease in very high settings. In practise I always enable Vsync for gaming so the practical implication of this is that I can play modern games at 60fps again having gotten used to settling for 30fps on the HD5850. This uses a non referenc

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Over the last few weeks I have found myself getting  sucked in to Shadow of Mordor. I don't normally indulge in recently released AAA games but the combination of Tolkien and Arkham was enough to convince me this one time.  The game ambience owes more perhaps to Petr Jackson than to Tolkien and it is unusually violent (albeit the spouting blood is all Orcish black). Nevertheless I am enjoying it greatly.  I have seen this style of game called "Ubisoft like Open World"  similar to the recent Assassin's Creed and Far Cry games. You have a beautiful open world to explore with many optional side-quests and mini games in addition to a main quest line.  I have also seen criticism of the repetitiveness of it all.  Shadow of Mordor does have many repetitive elements and yet it offers a large range of different game play opportunities. When you are first thrust into the world the  vast array of things to do is quite over-whelming. You gradually learn how it all work