Posts tagged “Technology

Please Forgive Me, I Have Some PS4 Impressions for You

Yes, I know, I’ve been so majorly slack and crap that I have no excuse at all. I’m here now though and I have a shiny new PS4 to share with you all. Now, since I live in the UK I’ve only had this little beauty for just short of a month. Before you ask, no I did not go to a midnight launch. I pre-ordered it back in June when they announced it at E3. There was never any question about which console I was going to get this time around. I don’t normally buy at launch with consoles, but I’ve made a couple exceptions for Sony in the last year.  I got a Vita at launch and now the PS4. It is not a decision that I regret at all.

In the couple of months that I’ve now had the machine there is one clear winner in all of the new innovations and changes that Sony has made; the controller. When Sony was releasing pictures of the PS3, the controller was redesigned and had a boomerang like shape and the arms were round and tapered. There was huge outrage at the change from the original style of the DualShock controller so they stuck with the staid design and we didn’t get the new one and I was unhappy. See, I used to have one of the old Sidewinder gamepad controllers and they had this boomerang shape with the tapered round arms. This controller was very comfortable to use. So with the PS4 controllers we got a melding of the two. The DualShock shape is there, but the arms are round and tapered giving them this wonderful shape to hold in the hands. I have managed to play 4-5 hours at a time without getting that hook-hand effect that happens with the old DualShock controller shape. This is a change that was a long time coming and I’m so happy that they finally had the guts to make this change.

Interface3

On to the interface I think, which is very different. The most obvious change is that we no longer just have the single horizontal bar with all of our function icons.Instead we have two parallel horizontal bars. The top bar of  icon are the functional icons like previously; so trophies, PSN Store, trophies, etc. Thee icons are all self explanatory so I won’t really go into them. what I will mention is the improvements in the Trophy section. Unlike on the PS3, the sync and display here is much faster and won’t lock up the whole damned machine as it slowly contacts tot Sony servers to update. I was very happy to see this had been improved as it always drove me up a wall. Also, if a game has trophies for DLC, these are separated too, which is kinda nice too. The bottom row are your installed games like the old game icon on the PS3. The big change here is that by pressing down on the D-pad you can go into the detail for the game that includes current DLC, fried events and your current trophies and news for the game. I find this info very useful as I’ve missed DLC before and I like knowing what my friends have been getting up to in the games I’ve been playing. This is a good social addition I think.

Interface1

Interface2

Speaking of social additions, we now have the Share button on the controller. This button will let you share video and screenshots to Twitter and Facebook. Now I’ve done a bit of sharing of screenshots and 1 video, neither are the full resolution of what you’re seeing on your screen. For the screenshots you can share them to Facebook or Twitter and the size is actually pretty good even if it has been shrunk, Videos can unfortunately only be uploaded to Facebook. Now the really big problem with this is that Facebook hides the HD better quality video though. Have a look at it here on the femme gamer FB page.

FB femme gamer video post

I ripped the HD video out of Facebook though and you can see it below. Still not as good as what I’m seeing on my TV, but it’s much better than the crap quality Facebook presents as default. I really would like to have more control over the quality and file size of what I share. Also, the ability to upload videos to YouTube or another such site would be most appreciated so e aren’t all hobbled with the crapness of Facebook.

Now that I’ve had the console for a couple months, I’m more than happy with my choice. It’s a great machine that has me moved flawlessly from my PS3 to the PS4. It was easy to get to grips with the interface, the game loads while installing is perfect. Sony has listened to all the gripes we had about the PS3 and they addressed them in the PS4. A couple of the most painful things on the PS3 was the syncing of trophies and exiting a game; they fixed it in the PS4. It is the small things with the new generation of the Playstation that has made me the happiest.

Oh, and it’s all very beautiful to look at.


I Don’t Want To Be The Controller

It’s been 6 months. As of last month over 10 million units sold. So there are at least 10 million people out there “being the controller”. That’s 10 million people doing spastic little jigs around their livingrooms. I mean the Microsoft XBox Kinect.

By all accounts the Kinect has been a huge success. The commercials are everywhere and judging by the sales the Kinect is too. And only 6 months after release people seem to still be interested in it. Games are still coming out for it.

What if I don’t want to be the controller though? What if I want to sit down on the couch and run across some roof tops with nothing more than the movement of my thumbs? Do I really need to insert myself into the game with more than my imagination?

Now don’t get me wrong; I think the advance in technology is awesome. When the videos of “Natal” first showed up we were all in awe of it. The idea of interacting directly with the games we’re playing sounded like a great concept. The games that have come out of the Kinect system really just feels like an extension of what Nintendo started with the Wii. Exercise and party games seem to be the primary focus.

Now I do own a Wii. I got it on release day. I love it, but I was rather happy when I realised that I could sit down and play the games with only the minimal amount of exertion on my part. The idea of moving around to interact with a game was a nice novelty but it wore thin fast. When it became clear that more mature games just weren’t on the cards I lost a lot of my interest.

Now I know that Microsoft is expanding outside of the exercise and party game market, but on the majority this seems to be the games they’re pushing. Sure I could always play these games with my husband, but neither of us really has any interest in them. What happened to the demo game we were shown in that Project Natal video? What happened to talking to the character in the game? Now that is something I’d like to do.

Can you imagine what could be done if the conversation ability we were shown was mixed with a standard controller? Some of us have no interest in doing that little spastic jig in our livingroom, but would really like to use this new technology. The thought of playing something like Prince of Persia or Assassin’s Creed without a controller in my hands makes me shudder. What I would like is to talk to other characters in the game. Can you imagine just how much more awesome Dragon Age could be if you could actually speak to the other characters?

Now this dislike of the idea of “being the controller” isn’t derived of anything so mundane as being fat and out of shape, cause I’m not. Really I just don’t want to interact with my games in that way. I have no urge to do a little jig in my livingroom.

And just for the record, I’m not terribly enamoured with the Playstation Move for much of the same reasons.

~Donna


Red Ring of Death

So, the Xbox 360 died a death. Red Ring of Death after 5 long years of service. I know, I must have the oldest Xbox 360 ever.  Electronics lasting 5 years isn’t unheard of if it’s quality tech. Xbox 360s though are lucky if they last a year. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Both my PS1 and PS2 still work and the PS1 flew several thousand miles with me when I moved.

Now I’ve always said that if my 360 got an RRoD I’d just get rid of it and that would be that. I would have done just that too if it hadn’t chosen to do it in the middle of playing Fable 3. Oh yes of course, it chose to die while I was just over half way through the game. Not before I’d gotten the game or after I’d finished it, but smack fucking in the middle. This of course meant I couldn’t just say to hell with MS and the Xbox 360. Nope, needed a replacement. Somehow.

So we have 3 options. Pay the £70 to send it in and have them “repair” it. This option is otherwise known as them sending me a refurb of someone else’s RRoD machine that will RRoD on me again at some point in the future. The second option is for us to find the cash and buy a new one that not only has a bigger hard drive, but it’s also black. This option costs £200.

Of course the third option comes down to how much effort I really want to put into all of this. My final option is that I could call up their Customer Service department, yell at them and get all obnoxious American on their asses and get them to “repair” it for nothing. Yell loud enough and long enough and you’d be amazed what can happen just so that you’ll go away.

You can guess which option we went for; yes, we got a new one.

This actually brings me to the whole reason I’m here writing this. I have done the one thing that I really really hate having to do, I bought another Xbox when mine failed.

Microsoft boast massive numbers of units sold, but just how many of those unit sales are actually from people buying multiple consoles due to getting an RRoD? I know several people who have bought 2-3 Xbox 360s because they’d gotten an RRoD. The numbers are inflated by these multiple sales.

These newer ones are supposed to be less prone to getting the RRoD, but by now shouldn’t Microsoft have this issue fixed? Shouldn’t such a major fault not be allowed out in the public domain? Obviously not, but it has survived and flourished and people keep buying them

Guess I’ve no room to talk now. I still resent having to do it when I shouldn’t have had to. Sure I could’ve just paid the £70 to have it fixed. Yea it was out of warranty, but why should I be paying for something that is a known fault in the hardware and wasn’t caused by any inappropriate use of the machine? Any other company would have been forced to recall, but somehow Microsoft has managed to keep selling and selling and selling.


Little by little, we improve the rig.

Yesterday two things happened: our new, fresh blood for the Shadowrun game my husband runs arrived at my house to work on his character, and so did my new ATI 5770 card as well as my stonky new headphones from Sound Blaster. The former was very quiet and my husband got off work late so we didn’t get much done — but there’ll be more on tabletop in the coming weekend. No, today’s post is about technology! Shiny, shiny technology.

I was nerd enough to take the plunge on the WoW headset. I didn’t do it just for the geek factor, though. No! I researched. I had originally been intending to buy a RAZER product, but while we’ve done well with Razer mice, the headphones came fairly poorly reviewed, especially in the range I was looking at (around $70). The mic break and there were a lot of failed headsets within the first six months of use. So I looked up some other headsets and found that the headphones were fairly well rated and I decided ‘what the hell’. Why not.

I could not be happier with these babies, let me tell you. They’re large, and encompass my whole ear, but don’t GRAB my tiny little head like it’s in a vice. It’s comfortable even with my glasses on. I have some complaints with the mic position, but the noise canceling works; I popped on to an allied guild’s vent, said hello to some friends and talked with them for a while in a way I could never have done before. The sound incoming was excellent and from all reports, the outgoing was also good, I was very clear. The THX and other items also really helps crisp up the sound, so if you have the urge to play with those, I assure you, this is not a bad buy!

Being a cord sound purist, though, I did not get the wireless ones. USB cable plugs right into the front of my box, I don’t have to fuss with unplugging my speakers, and BAM! I’m good to go. I’m pretty pleased with the purchase– we’ll see if they last. But honestly, after my last headset– that I could only wear without pain for about thirty minutes–it’s a really nice change.

The card is also very awesome; I now run WoW on max settings without any issues at all. In fact, it’s made play easier. I got popped into Heroic Halls of Reflection, which with it’s tight LOS mechanics, has always been a cluster of magical effects that choked my older card and caused lag issue. Not good when you’re on DPS, and death when you’re heals! But I ran it TWICE yesterday and not only did I get to really appreciate the gorgeous mist affect laying over the floor of the instance, but I didn’t have any graphic lag at all. We smoked both runs and I consider that card $120 well spent. I shortly booted up Dragon Age: Awakenings and gloried in the smoother movement, the prettier graphics (also at max!) and tonight, I’m probably going to buy the Dawn of War II pack off Steam (since my DoW2 is attatched to my husband’s Steam account, from when we were sharing one) and glory in commanding my tiny marines up close and personal.

The next purchase will be a new monitor. I’m eyeing a 22″ widescreen from Samsung; currently I’m running on a 19″ that’s about 3-4 years old, and it’s a little trooper. Not a single dead pixel! Samsung’s goods have really impressed me, so I will probably stick with them (or possibly go Toshiba; our TV is Toshiba and oh the prettiness when I pop in a PS2 or 3 game!)

Speaking of PS3 — I haven’t had time to pick up Heavy Rain again; the frustration lingers, and weirdly, I don’t like to play it alone. I like having my husband there to sort of ‘co-op’ it, with ‘look at that’, ‘X, X, HIT X!” and so forth. Maybe it’s beacuse I haven’t been on a console regularly in about a year and a half, and maybe because the game regularly creeps me out. I really do want to finish it. I think I’ll make it a priority over my four day birthday weekend when I’m home waiting for things.


Just When You Thought They Were Complete…

Yes, it’s another introduction of the visible members of the Femme Gamer Legion. Instead of letting it fill you with fear, consider us a fine variety mix.

My name’s Ann and I’ve been gaming, mostly online sorts, for about twenty years now. I tend toward the roleplay crowd, though like the non-MMORPGs just as well. I remember my first foray into Internet gaming. I’d been dragged to a MUD by a friend on IRC, and was told to grind sheep kills for XP. That sheep killed me, or, in the words of the game, “tickled me into the stomach.” Everyone has to start somewhere.

These days, I’m firmly established in the massive multi-player graphical IRC experience called Second Life, where one may find me as Pym Sartre. I still do the text-based MUSHes and have taken out my revenge on any number of sheep by now. I pound around WoW as a Tauren Shammie, and am eyeing several games for the new machine. I fiddle with mechanics of RPGs a bit, though my life situation doesn’t seem to allow much tabletop. That may… change, as I try to convert co-workers.

I’m also an IT professional and fiddle a lot with hardware and networks and security at home. My gaming machine is a monster that glows red from the fires of hell that energize it, but I’m in the process of building a new gaming monster with a unique open case design. There may be more on that later.

It’s exciting to be a part of Femme Gamer,and I look forward to seeing what worlds the Legion conquers. And if it happens to be yours… we’ll be nice. Promise.


*BEEP* *BEEP*

So turns out my motherboard was slowly enacting seppuku upon itself.  Due this unfortunate turn of events I had to buy parts for a new computer. Since I hadn’t upgraded anything other than memory and video card in the last 3-4 years I had to replace everything. So I got new memory, hard drive, CPU, motherboard (obviously), video card and PSU. I also bought a 1TB external hard drive when I thought it was my hard drive going tits up. Luckily it wasn’t, but now I have a backup drive.

Wasn’t terribly costly to buy the new parts. All told was about £250, not including the TB drive. Took me a week or so to get everything re-installed and sorted out. But being the geek I am, I enjoyed every moment of it.

Now that I have a dual core CPU and a PCI-E vid card, the games look OMFG wonderful. LotR:O looked wonderful already, but now it looks super wow and runs so smoothly. I think I need to re-install Bioshock jsut so I can look at it in amazement.

So my computer is all fixed again and you can all breathe a sigh of relief.


Girl Tech?

Is there such a thing as girl tech? If you watch much children’s tv you’ll find that there is. Finally the electronics market is figuring out that there is a market for girls and women using gadgets.

For the young teen girl you’ll find such things as electronic diaries and pink handheld consoles. For adult women you’ll find more pink phones than you can shake a stick at and small bits of electronics made for the small hand of a woman.

Games are no different either. As computer and console gaming becomes more and more popular the games comapnies are finding that the female demographic is something they can cash in on.

I have yet to decide if I should feel flattered or insulted. Just why do I need special attention after all? I admit though that I’m a special case. The micro-PC I’m typing this on right now isn’t something you’d find marketed at women, but maybe it should be.

Most women have very specific tastes in games and gadgets. The gore and violence of a lot of games isn’t something that all women are necessarily interested in and games companies know this.

Take for example online games. Historically playing online games and MMOs was primarily something that male gamers participated in. Times are changing though. In the mainstream online games you’ll find more females playing than you would have even 5 years ago.

So the question that bears asking is this; what changed?

Well the most obvious answer to me is that technology has changed. As it has developed it has become easier to understand the basics. Pretty much anyone can handle the basics of using a mobile phone or a PC. These aren’t degree needing things anymore, they’re simple.

As technology has become easier to understand it has also become a lot more accessible. More people have snazzy PDAs, mobile phones and personal computers. How would some of us live without our portable media devices?

So easier to understand and more accessible technology. Well it was inevitable that women would start delving into the land of boy’s toys. So here we are.

The other reason is a little more slippery. Marketing plays an interesting part in all of this too. Recently on UK T.V. Nintendo have been running a commercial that is aimed very directly at girls.

This direct marketing isn’t seen for boys. You don’t see a commercial that says “Games that boys like” at the end of it. Maybe there should be.

I’m not offended or upset by this direct marketing. What annoys me slightly is how they’re going about it. The DS has found its way into a lot of girls’ hands. It’s small and interesting and has a very good spread of games. Because of this large game catalogue I think it has become more interesting to females, not anything to do with the marketing.

Really I’m just pondering and wondering here. The age of Barbie is gone, there’s no need to market to us like we’re still in the 50s. So why is technology and games being directed at us like it still is?