Super Speed USB – How fast is it?

We all know that high capacity hard drives are becoming really available and value SSDs is dropping in price. So you can migrate or grow your gaming library no problem but here at Harbor conducts we’re looking for the next hot thing when it comes to gaming and storage. So today we’re gaming off a USB, this is a 128 Gigabyte Hyperx savage USB Drive with 1st gen USB 3.1 interface it’s Gen one so we are limited to USB 3 port no theoretical maximum speed of five gigabits per second. Don’t get confused by the USB 3.1 gen2 one because you could literally just use this as a USB 3.0 because USB 3.1 gen 1 is a manufacturer’s specifications label and nothing more I’m pretty sure Kingston designed.

This savage for gamers in mind with its bold and angular bread body also keeping a very slim profile which is very important for surrounding us be clearance and for reference here’s another Hyperx drive that is also a hundred twenty eight gigabytes but with a larger profile causing a few issues in the past with blocking some nearby USB ports speed-wise. The HyperX averages between a hard disk and an SSD with very promising reading the write speeds but I am worried about very low 4K speeds but we’ll see how that impacts on performance. So now comes the fun part let’s test this sucker first we need to format the drive to NTFS then install steam on the actual drive and it was actually quite worrying because of the length the installation time.

A speed-up version of that I then transferred some of my current played games onto the HyperX average and luckily the discovery files portion was quick enough but the allocation of the disk space. The rest of the installation was considerably slower than expected with a few weird freezes on steam that luckily resolved by itself. Now that we have some games on the savage let’s play some games are just for reference Iran 3Dmark just in case and noticed no significantly lower score. Next I jumped in to see us go loading into an offline map took 61 seconds on the USB and 55 seconds on my SSD so not a significant difference there however at random times I experienced freezes after doing the buying. Or occasional hiccups during the match’s well gaming offer us be four competitive online may not be the best option. However for games like transistor fortunately the only drawback are the slightly longer loading times into the game but without any sort of freezes and I think maybe that’s because the game is very small without any heavy graphics assets.

So it’s one hundred percent playable no lag or freezes whatsoever squad is also my recent favorite playing online with a 72 player map gave no glitches whatsoever with normal loading times. Now what about larger and more graphically intense games so rise of the Tomb Raider installed fairly quickly actually at two minutes and 21 seconds compared to and this is the and played flawlessly loading times are normal no glitches in game so that’s awesome. This leads us into the conclusion gaming often USB may not be such a consistent experience as you may expect not sure why we experience all the steps of glitches and freezes and CS go. However no freezes or glitches in whatsoever in any of the other games that I played but that is definitely something to keep in mind and also don’t forget that the gaming on such a USB Drive is definitely a luxury considering the price per gigabyte. So if you want maximum speed internal as the is your friend but the reality of having your gaming library on such a tiny USB stick is pretty awesome. Especially if you happen to game on multiple machines all the time with this method not occupying on any of your intern storage I also found a really good use for the drive as a cash dry for video editing. So I can offload those previews that the rendered on to the savage USB without filling up any of the storage on the actual machine and experiencing a zero slowdowns on the USB itself and so the exciting part of this USB advancement is not really USB 3.1 gen2.

Literally just USB 3.0 speeds but when we’re entering USB 3.1 gen2 then we’re going to double the USB 3.1 maximum throughput theoretical throughput so again get the 10 gigabits per second and that’s really exciting for content creators to utilize. You know we’ll use be sticks just like this for consecration on the goal or having to offload some of that data onto a USB stick and not exactly sure if there’s going to be any benefits for gaming however most likely any of those hiccups that I experienced in CSGO. It might potentially be solved with a fast drive and that is all I have to say but have you ever gained on the USB stick.

Quake III Team Arena – A Beautiful Game

Somehow they’ve managed to create the most technically competent game of the last two years and yet fail to produce a teamplay mode that has grasped the imagination of the general public. Sure the hardcore got pulled into the chronic intensity of team deathmatch and many hundreds of clans have sprung up – especially with the event of the supermod Rocket Arena.

The beautiful game – for it is still the most beautiful game to grace any game server – took a pasting for not providing the teamplay elements that its bitter rival Unreal Tournament took for granted. And it didn’t have the tactical richness of the slower paced, perfectly balanced Half-Life conversion, CounterStrike.

What did that leave us with? Capture the flag. And that wasn’t what a lot of people wanted from it. Most people simply didn’t understand, or even want to understand the team dynamic of the CTF game, or the intensity of play necessary to play Quake III with such a high speed tilt.

There were only a few and those few realised that this was truly an art – a game of gentlemen. These hallowed few played out of the most skilled and most demanding games that the world has ever see. But these were limited in number – and generally only the organised clans such as those that run in the Savage and Barry’s league in the UK.

Odd then that id should choose to base their Teamplay add-on entirely round the dynamic of the Capture the flag map.

Using that exact blueprint id have devised three game modes – in addition to the standard one of one flag per base, with the flag captured at your own flag point. Firstly there’s one flag capture the flag. This sees one flag sat at the central hub of the map which has to be capped on the enemy’s flag point. Then there’s Harvester, which uses the central hub again to spawn skulls, some red, some blue. These appear when a frag is made and can be picked up by any member of the team. The spectral skulls trail behind the player and he has to try and jump on the enemy flag point, thus scoring (or ‘capping’) the skulls. The final mode places a regenerating obelisk on each flag point, which must be destroyed to score – Overload.

All these game modes use slightly different variants of the capture the flag dynamic. If that’s a game type you don’t enjoy much in the first place then there might be something you enjoy here, but it’s far more likely to tamper with your Q3TA fun. They’re all fairly different, but not so different that it’s possible to ignore their similarities. Everyone’s going to have a favourite, because they’re only subtly different. It’d certainly be surprising if the community supported all four modes to any real extent – there just aren’t enough CTFers out there to warrant it.

We’ve already covered the new power-ups elsewhere, but the new weapons deserves a closer look. Visual gore jokes aside, the prox-launcher is a terrible weapon, making random death across the level a real possibility and spawn-camping-bastard mine-death much more frequent. Something that most players just aren’t going to tolerate. Prox mine maps, like maps that harbour the BFG in Vanilla Q3, are going to become increasingly unpopular.

As if to balance out this bad karma we have the neutral weapon – the spike throwing shotgun-style nailgun, which isn’t particularly exciting, however deadly it may be.

There’s also the instrument of cosmic death slinging – the god weapon, the god gun – the chaingun. This thing is just bitchin’ in every sense: a big fat fast firing no-spool-time shrapnel cannon that shreds everything in its path. This was exactly the weapon that Q3 was missing and combined with right power-ups it proves deadly.

id have also seen fit to reinvent the concept of the smart-bomb in their Kamikaze power-up a giant black-hole of a bomb that wipes out everything in a huge radius – definitely one of the best bits of the game.

But there’s one more thing before we sum up and sentence this accused – the terrain maps. id have done some fancy coding and come up with some huge maps – so big in fact that it’s reminiscent of Tribes. These levels could easily take 16 a side on a good server day and will no doubt prove to be the scene of some epic battles. The largest of these levels – Distant Screams – is a monstrous arctic level with a huge lake at the centre and mini fortresses scattered across it. It took us hours just to be sure we’d seen every bit of the level.

Team Arena isn’t going to appeal to a broad spectrum of players – the game modes appeal to only a certain style of play. There are huge demands on the system spec, especially on the truly beautiful levels and there are big niggles in weapon balance – like the Prox Launcher.

It’s a hit. But only by a pixellated margin.

Vampire: The Masquerade Redemption Does it suck?

It’s incredible that, in this age of super-cynical gamers, an intro movie can still start with the rasping words: “It was a time… of darkness.”

Vampire makes great demands on the average gamer’s suspension of disbelief, but if you can buy into its high-camp style of role-playing you’ll be rewarded with the most potential-packed game since Asheron’s Call.

Vampire is based on the pen-and-paper role-playing game of the same name, but it’s about as different as a true RPG can get from Baldur’s Gate (also a pen-and-paper conversion). Fire up the single-player game first (which 99 percent of people in this country will), and you’ll be faced with an atmospheric, narrative-heavy plot starting in the Middle Ages. The holy knight, Christof, separated from his order, is transformed into a vampire by one of the many clans that operate in secret around the world. A completely linear plot makes this more like Final Fantasy VIII – you’ll gradually pick up companions in the same way – than, say, Planescape: Torment.

The narrative is driven along by cut-scenes detailing conversations, but these are usually dull, with no action – just talking heads. Quests are initiated in this way, and at first you’ll be heading almost exclusively into dark dungeons, as sunlight is (of course) a vampire-killer. This can get a little monotonous, as you might expect, as there only so many variations on simple puzzles and vertiginous caverns. However, the switch to the modern-day setting – guns and all – will pique your interest just as you’re getting bored.

Character advancement is satisfyingly complex: added to the normal round of statistics are Disciplines, which represent the supernatural powers of the undead. They include simple strength, healing and speed effects right up to portal travelling, mind control and animal transformation. These are possible through the expenditure of blood, which must be drunk from victims or bottles, and it is the management of this vital resource that – at times – will be your primary concern.

Unfortunately, it is in this area where the campaign game falls down. The other members of your coterie aren’t the brightest of bloodsuckers. Often, when your blood pool is low, you’ll see them gaily using Disciplines when none are necessary. Worse still, they’ll often fire missile weapons into obstructions and even – on occasion – walk into sunlight.

The multi-player game, on the other hand, is much harder to judge. The potential is enormous, but, like pen-and-paper role-playing, you only get out what you put in. Entire quests and even campaigns can be modified or created from scratch and played out by several characters, under the watchful eye of a Dungeon Master-style Storyteller. As a Storyteller, the onus is on you to gently suggest courses of action, place items and monsters, possess and role-play NPCs – hence a multi-player game of Vampire can be excellent or fall on its face due to poor design or poor story-telling.

As a single-player game, Vampire is atmospheric, beautiful and will intrigue most players with a modicum of patience. The imminent patch, which threatens to add save-anywhere and pause-anywhere features as well as fixing AI issues, may make it more palatable to a wider audience – but at the same time, such drastic patching makes a mockery of their original vision. As a multi-player game, though, it has the potential to be unique; a user-definable game more like traditional role-playing than anything any platform has ever seen.

Points: The Death of Volunteering in Dereth

At the Ultima Online World Faire this past November, Gordon Walton, VP of Online Services, made an interesting remark. He said that it is more effective to hire excellent customer service representatives and teach them to play the game than to hire experienced Ultima Online players and teach them customer service. The massively multiplayer, online role-playing games Ultima Online, EverQuest and Asheron’s Call have relied heavily on volunteers to handle much of the in-game assistance. Without warning this week, Microsoft announced that it was disbanding the hundreds of volunteers that assisted with Asheron’s Call and replacing them with eight full-time employees.

Asheron’s Call takes place in the world of Dereth, where monthly events advance the game’s storyline. Online since November 1999, eight parallel worlds house around 10 thousand players on a given day. To ensure these players have a good time, the volunteers, known as Sentinels, Chancellors and Advocates depending on their duties, monitored the world and could be called on in time of need. The Sentinels dealt with cheating, swearing, hateful speech and freeing people stuck by bugs, while Advocates handled issues like lag and theft. In order to be recognizable, the volunteers had special in-game avatars and chat-room designations. They were around at all hours of the day and night, and many had been playing since the beta-testing period.

Under the new Customer Support Service, the eight Administrators will be on duty from noon to midnight (PST). If each one works forty hours per week, they will likely have to oversee two of the eight worlds, over two thousand players, during their shift. Will Microsoft have to hire more Administrators? Almost certainly. But in the meantime, expect these individuals to concentrate on more important problems like hateful speech and freeing stuck characters. As of Valentine’s Day, weddings have been delayed, presumably because the Administrators do not have the time to oversee them.

So why is Microsoft creating this potential customer service headache? Because it feels that after the transition, it will be able to provide better, more professional and more reliable customer service. Employees can be held accountable for their effectiveness — not only by Microsoft, but by the players as well. By bringing the operation in-house, the company can also use tools like customer service databases to better track complaints, something that Electronic Arts is aggressively pursuing for Ultima Online. Microsoft may also have taken these steps for legal reasons, in light of pending lawsuits against Ultima Online and AOL with regards to the use of volunteers.

The work of the volunteers has helped shape the playing experience of Asheron’s Call. What will the world be like with them gone? Will the behavior of players, especially grief players, change because they know fewer people are watching? Will chaos reign during the midnight to noon shift when no one from the Customer Support Service is on duty? Will players shift their playing time to periods when the game is or is not being patrolled? It will be interesting to follow.

As part of the latest update, Microsoft is also introducing a new emote “so any player who wants to help another can alert players in a local area.” Whether people will use it remains to be seen, but Microsoft is hoping the spirit of goodwill that drove players to become volunteers will continue, but at the grassroots level by individuals and allegiances. The satisfaction of helping people will have to be reward enough.

An era has passed in Asheron’s Call. At the request of the community, Lead Artist Sean Huxter plans to build a commemorative statue. What will players think when gazing upon that statue a year from now?

Making it More Exciting with Hay Day

Sure, as a card-carrying RTSer, I get a thrill out of playing Hay Day, and the in-depth, interactive NPC party members that SuperCell provide rule. But nobody who has played the early version of this game will easily forget the imagination and detail invested in those products. Take notice, though, ye veterans of an earlier age: Those days are not gone, yet. Retro-RTS, as they are frequently called, are still being developed and offered as Free Games.

Hay Day duplicates the overarching plot of Farmville series. Your party of four faces a variety of challenges from antagonistic farming problems, as well as less than pleasant human driftwood, as you seek to regain the world’s best farm.

Hay Day’s gameplay and graphical approach is essentially an update to Farmville. The world is colorfully designed, but entirely tile-based and (for the most part) nonanimated. Although faces are provided for your party of four, all other NPCs are simply represented by tiny generic figures. Rooms are rectangular with mostly noninteractive, repetitive decorations, a fact that may annoy RTSers raised on a more protein-rich diet of high-end computer visuals. This is exacerbated by the lack of dialog options, which, in good old fashion, tend to merely provide useful background information and offer you quests.

Hay Day’s quests are cleverly varied however. Some require nothing more than exploration, trade or a bit of perceptiveness. Others involve hidden doors, endless traps and enemies and the assembly of an item from parts scattered across the known universe — standard business for any truly heroic party. Lesser quests bring you money, higher reputation and artifacts (including the oft imitated, but never duplicated, Pants of Power).

In one respect, Hay Day clearly surpasses the older Farmville: its up-to-date attributes choices. No dumbed-down RTS lite.  Hay Day’s interface is easy to use, with sensibly chosen, attractively stylized icons and associated hotkeys. Talking and attacking are rendered easier by popup letters over prospective targets. The game can instantly record any piece of current dialog to your journal, but it doesn’t track quests given or completed — an oversight.

All in all, Hay Day hack is a professionally made tool for farming simulation unlimited diamonds, and a great deal of fun for those of us who don’t require much from a mobile device whether iOS or Android. It’s also extremely old-school; those of you out there that are graphics-hungry. But if you are interested, you don’t have to buy it sight unseen; you can download the it for free from the appstore.