Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

a book cover

Playing

alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999


Some Deathloop Observations

I checked Steam today and found that in one week I put 21 hours into Deathloop! About eight of those hours involved trying to get a handle on the game's mechanisms but still, that's a lot of hours in less then a week. And hey, I'm enjoying myself

When I first fired up the game there was some stuttering, I had to change a video setting called Ambient Occlusion to FidelityFX CACAO Performance to stop it. What that means is that I had to turn off ray tracing. Mildly disappointing but, "into each life and all that." And after doing that Deathloop looked fine and ran smoothly. In case anyone needs a guide to tweaking the game's settings, this one from Kotaku helped me.

And this leads to a posting on John Scalazi's blog. He's a science fiction author and like me he bought Deathloop as soon as it was released. He's not very happy:

This is not an exaggeration. When I open up the game on Steam, it'll get to the opening splash screen and then close, throwing up a huge dialog box of crash data. So I open it up again, and then again, and then again, and then again, and eventually if I open it up enough, it'll work and I can play. Why does it work on the fifth or eighth or eleventh try? Got me. My PC, although not new, is not meagerly specced; it fits the gameís minimum system requirements with some headroom. So that's not the issue. Itís just temperamental, and when I say temperamental, I mean Iíve discovered that Deathloop has a better chance of opening and being playable if, while I'm firing up the game, I also have Chrome open and am actively scrolling through a Web page. Why? Who the hell knows? I donít and I imagine neither Bethesda nor Arkane knows, either.

Whether you play PC games casually or have a dedicated gaming PC, you've probably been burned at least once buying a game based on the minimum requirements.

Minimum requirements are bullshit, look at the recommended requirements. If you don't meet them you might have trouble running the game. In the case of Deathloop, Bethesda lists something called ultra specs on their site:

And it's shit like this that causes people to throw up their hands and buy a PlayStation.

September 20, 2021


Windows 11

Windows 11 unlocks on 10/5, I'll be skipping it. It was this article in the Verge about the changes in the taskbar that caused me to ask the waiter for the check.

When Microsoft debuted Windows 8 they were aiming for a uniform experience on the PC, tablets and phones. Unfortunately people use PCs, tablets and phones differently and Windows 8 tanked. There aren't any Windows phones anymore but there are Surface Tablets and it looks like MS wants the user experience to be the same on their tablets and on PCs. Well, as the Brits say, "Bollox."

Microsoft has a habit of removing features and chalking it up to making a smoother user experience. Hell, I still haven't forgiven the bastards from preventing me from customizing the Windows start up sound. Yes, I'm an old and bitter man.

September 14, 2021


Deathlooping

I still have no idea why OBS throws up the black bar on top of the video. There are actually three bars but YouTube strips out the two on the sides. I tried recording with Bandicam and I get a full screen video that stutters badly so I'm going with OBS. Eventually I'll buy software that can handle 4K but not right now, I rather went overboard on Kosh's upgrades this summer so no more gifts for him.

I spent most of today trying to understand Deathloop's menu system. Certain menus can only be accessed at a specific place in the game. I've been gaming via the computer for 38 years and this is the first time I longed for a printed user's manual. But I figured things out and am feeling less frustrated now.

The sequence I recorded is from the beginning of the game and the game goes out of its way to guide you along. I went through it again for the video because at least I knew what I was doing. Colt is trying to reach his former apartment here.

September 14, 2021


The Deathloop Trailer

September 13, 2021


Breaking the Streak

This year I played nine games and completed nine games. That's never happened to me before but there's a good chance my streak may be over, I just preloaded Deathloop.

Deathloop was developed by Arkane Studios, the developers of Dishonored, Dishonored 2 and Prey. I loved those games and finished all three but Deathloop is a little different. You play as Colt, an assassin who has to kill eight targets on an island in a 24 hour period. If you fail to kill all eight, or if you die, time resets. So you try to figure out your target's schedules, how to get them together, in other words there's a puzzle component to the game and I tend to suck at puzzles. But it's good to try things out of your comfort zone, I like Arkane Studios and Deathloop will be the first new game I'll play on Kosh with the new video card. And in a worst case scenario 9 out of 10 isn't a bad record.

September 12, 2021


Jack

I found this old picture of Jack. Unlike Newton, who has a thing about wires, Jack ignored my computer. That changed once he hit double digits, then he started hanging out behind Kosh, enjoying the heat from Kosh's fans. I was a little nervous at first until I watched him creeping behind the computer, ducking under and stepping over wires, never once touching them. It probably helped that he was a small cat.

Newton will have to find another source of heat when old age arrives for him, not only does he have his wire fetish going against him, he's also a lot bigger then Jack. With the best of intentions he couldn't navigate the maze behind my desk. Fortunately he's a couple of years away from decrepitude so I have time to plan.

September 8, 2021


Kosh Is Complete

On the bottom is my old Nvidia 1080ti video card, on the top is its replacement, a Nvidia 3080ti. You probably heard about the video card shortage and it's true. That card cost more then the combined cost of the chip, motherboard, memory and monitor I bought earlier in the summer.

I was going to postpone the video card upgrade until next year, but when I went to see Mrs. Silverman, weekend before last, she said, "You don't go to restaurants, you don't go to bars, you play games, get the card." Moon's advice was the same so I got the card. I now have a beast of a machine, for a little while, you know how these things go.

I tried to take a movie of my character doing some damage in Cyberpunk 2077. It's on YouTube and I have it below but for some reason there are black bars on three sides of the picture. Normally this happens when the the video capture software is set at one resolution and the game is set at another. That's not the case here so all I can say is that you may want to full screen the video if you're inclined to watch it.

At almost seven minutes that's probably the longest video I ever posted. I finished Cyberpunk 2077 some time ago so I'm pretty overpowered for pick up missions around town, but sometimes it's fun to be overpowered.

Next week Deathloop drops. I's about a hitman who's stuck in a time loop until he successfully assassinates eight people in a 24 hour period. It's by Arkane, the studio that developed Dishonored, Dishonored 2 and Prey. I loved those games so I preordered Deathloop even though it has a lot of puzzle game DNA in its makeup. Besides, I managed to get through Portal and Portal 2 back in the day and they were puzzle games. I'm currently on a nine game winning streak this year and I hope Deathloop doesn't break it.

And that's pretty much that. The Year of Computer and Office Upgrades is over.

September 6, 2021


Today I Learned...

That my new video card draws a lot of power and my old power strip/surge protector needs to be replaced with a more robust model. Rolf is taking care of that for me.

I also learned that Amazon Music has whole albums that you can listen to. I've had Prime for a few years now and never thought to search for albums.

I'm kind of dumb about some things.

September 4, 2021


This Arrived Today

September 1, 2021


Messing About With Demons

The second remake of Doom came out in 2016. The native resolution of my monitor is 3840x2160 and I figured that I could run a five year old game at that resolution without a problem. But my 1080ti wasn't up to the task and I had to crank the resolution down a notch to 2560x1440.

I never finished that version of Doom back then and I won't finish now. But while I'm waiting form my new video card I'm dipping into the game a bit So here's a minute and a half of me slaying some demons.

For the record, I'm playing on easy, at 65 I have no false pride. And unless I hit a boss I can't get past I may keep it on until the new video card is in place, just to make a video at the higher resolution.

And just for comparison, here's a video of someone going through the original version of Doom.

Not the version that was released in 1993 but close enough. Let me tell you, in 93 that shit was groundbreaking.

August 31, 2021


Video Card

After much blather about putting off buying a new video card until next year, I bought a new video card on Saturday. It was $500 over retail and if you know anything about the shortage of computer chips a $500 markup isn't that bad. Added to the mix is macular degeneration. My vision is fine today and may be fine for years but it doesn't make too much sense to delay purchasing a board that delivers high end eye candy.

Earlier this year I had hope that the disruptions to the world's supply lines would ease in 2022. That's pretty much been shot to hell, Nvidia is saying that video boards won't be readily available until 2023. And by readily available they mean available for list price. And it's the same for cars, appliances and according to the Times, board games.

Be that as it may, the new card should be here on Thursday. I put Cyberpunk 2077 back on my system so that I can stroll around Night City with the visuals cranked up to maximum. I may even kill some bad guys along the way.

August 30, 2021


Diablo II Resurrected Beta

Yes, I talk a lot about gaming, it's how I spend a lot of my time. Today I downloaded the Diablo II Resurrected Beta, which was simply a matter of firing up the Blizzard Launcher and clicking a button. I just got off of about 40 minutes of exploring the first area and clearing out the Den of Evil.

I replayed the Mass Effect Trilogy and had a great time but I'm not sure that Diablo 2 resonated with me like the Mass Effect games did. It's not like I didn't have fun, it's more like I'd buy it if things got really slow for me, gaming wise. Currently things are not slow, I have The Ascent on my drive and tonight I may buckle down and try to get the feel of controlling my character with the WASD keys. And even if I can't get the hang of The Ascent, I preordered Deathloop today, that unlocks on 9/14.

But the remaster of Diablo II doesn't suck and I'd consider playing multiplayer when the game is released next month in the unlikely event that somebody was interested in that.

August 20, 2021


Assassin's Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris

Last night I reached the endgame of ACV's latest expansion. The game's villain is Charles the Fat, but he's not really an evil person he's mentally ill and you can save him if you wish. I did wish but couldn't figure out how to pull it off, so I went to the net and discovered the secret. You fight him, throw him into two braziers during your battle and then lock him behind a grate. At that point the Queen comes in and agrees to take Charles to a quiet place where he can be helped. Except it didn't work for me and before assuming my game was bugged I searched to see if something else was going on.

There was, I was playing on easy and if you're playing on easy you can't save Charles, you can only kill him. So I changed the difficulty to normal and replayed 30 minutes, two boss fights and saved Charles. Curtain falls, game finished.

I don't object to the devs deciding to penalize players for playing on easy but I do object to devs not being upfront about it. The first is their prerogative, the second is chickenshit.

I just had to add the word chickenshit to my HTML editor's spell check.

All that aside, I played ACV for 229 hours. According to Steam I've played Skyrim for 202 hours. But I was playing Skyrim before I linked it up with my Steam account. Still, 229 hours is a big investment in time. You know the old saying, "I'll get a life when someone can show me it's better then what I'm doing now."

August 20, 2021


Alexa and Skyrim

It's almost three in the morning and I'm watching a video on Verge. A guy is playing Skyrim on his echo and he's trying use a dragon shout, in this case Fus Ro Dah. It's the shout that pushes thing out of the way, unfortunately Alexa just isn't getting it. So the guy raises his voice and shouts, "Alexa, Fus Ro Dah" and sweeps everything off his coffee table. And in my bedroom the echo on the night stand starts playing Itsy Bitsy Spider. Good try Alexa.

August 20, 2021


Fish

Yesterday I picked up two pieces of salmon seasoned with Cajun spices and successfully cooked them. I also learned that even with a sprinkling of spices, fish isn't the most flavorful food in the word. Ok then, next time salt it is.

August 18, 2021


Assassin's Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris

The new expansion for Assassin's Creed Valhalla is out and I see it's going to be another lighthearted romp.

August 16, 2021


Goodbye Shepard

I'd like to say I named the system myself but the credit goes to the devs.

I kind of screwed up the ending, there are three choices at the end of the game. You can stop the Reapers, the villains, by choosing to destroy all synthetic life. That's what I did during my first play through and it never sat right with me. The second choice is to become a kind of super AI and control the Reapers. That choice stops their attacks but leaves other synthetic life forms like the Geth and my mobile AI Edi alive. I earned a third choice, I could have used my DNA to merge synthetics and humans across the galaxy. Humans would have synthetic traits and the Geth would have some biological traits. That was the one I had planned to take but the AI who was giving me the rundown on things never mentioned it and I didn't realize that option was available to me. So I took the control option.

I suppose I could have replayed the ending but in retrospect I'm not certain that changing the fundamental nature of hundreds of trillions of beings was a moral choice. So I think I'll stick with the control ending.

Bioware is working on Mass Effect 4 and the rumor is that the destruction ending is canon. That would piss me off but not enough to pass on the game. I will give the game a pass, however, if the Newton system isn't around.

August 15, 2021