The shop experience was kinda strange, as the store clerk clearly assumed I would buy this for my kids. Anyway. Sadly (and not surprisingly) I am locked to playing games in german. Because companies love to region lock stuff for no reason.
So I am currently downloading Zelda. What next? There do I set up an account or something to put money in? I will be using this mainly on my Christmas trip home. So what are other good games? Fire Emblem: Awakening is on top of my list since I love XCOM. I do not like platformers that much, so I am not sure if I should give good old Mario a spin.
With my going back and forth on my PS4-preorders I have deprived myself of the launch experience. I canceled my long standing 1st wave pre-order, because essentially I was poor. My second pre-order was for the third wave in Janurary. I thought, I will just hunt down freely sold ones. Well, there are none ...
This store (I did not pre-order there.) BTW received the info from Sony that they will get the staggering amount of 6 (in words: six) PS4s. 3 at launch, 3 in December. The XBox One is not launching until 2014. I know Switzerland is tiny (well 8 million people), but they are so incredibly rich, I do not understand why companies neglect it so much. The de-facto minimum wage is 4300 US-$/month. Many people easily double that. While living expenses are accordingly, that still would make a lost of potential PS4-customers.
So I picked up the parts, and frantically put the system together on the same evening. Not a small task for someone who hasn’t done this in a long time. I was pumped. Well, I followed the Tested.com video step-by-step and everything worked out well for most of the build. I actually planned to take a picture of every step of the build, but along the way I forgot that. Here we go.
Moments after taking the last picture, during windows installation, the PC died with a lpound "BANG" and some smoke while I was out of the room to prepare its future spot. I freaked myself and a bunch of people here out, by speculating about the cause of this. The guy from the store where I bought by last PC said it was probably the PSU. I got it replaced under warranty, build it in (without doing anything different) and now the system works like a charm. I am a happy camper, though I hoped the liquid cooling would make the system run quieter. This is not really the case, its rather loud actually. Maybe I can omit the rear "exhaust fan", though the CPU cooler fans are pushing air out which is not optimal.
I probably have been living under a rock, but I just discovered the PS3 has a youtube client. Maybe I did not care about Youtube that much before I started watching Let's Plays and other "long form" videos. I knew my TV had one but it is incredibly slow. Anyway, this is great! Also for GB content. Even better is that you can control the PS3 via your computer/tablet.
So over the last 1.5 years I was contemplating the idea of getting a new PC. The problem was, that I was unemployed and did not feel dishing out my benefits for a new PC, because I like to eat. Anyway I finally found a job, and today I ordered the parts for my first "homegrown" PC in years.
Let me tell you a little bit about my backstory here: I always have been a primarily PC-gamer. Yes, as a kid I owned a Super-Nintendo (boy, did I mowed a lot of lawn). I grew up in "communist" Eastern Germany, and by the time the reunification hit (and we could get some western money), I kinda was to old for Nintendo already. I had good fun playing Zelda Mario Kart etc, but as I was playing them as a young teenager and I already thought "Meh, these are kinda kids games!". I think after that I directly went to a 486 DX 2-66 in a ridiculous Colani-design. My dad dished out an even more ridiculous amount of money for that thing. Looking back I really have to admire my father, putting so much hard work towards his sons passion.
So this thing could run Comanche pretty good. And of course I "borrowed" all the games from friends. Consoles were almost not existent. I heavily leaned towards games with well ... spreadsheets in them. Patrician, SimCity or Theme Park.
Well, this thing lasted me some years. I could experience the joys of IRQ configuration or installing my first CD-Drive. I then got a much less "top of the line" Pentium 133 based machine. Then finally in 1998 I built my first PC. I was interning at a lokal ISP, which also build websites, and I did some simple on the side website building. These guys (the ISP company were really 3 guys: a mid40ies business guy who seemed to shag 21year-old-girls on a daily basis, a ex-con system administrator who ran the servers from his basement, and a laid back, gay-as-a-picknicbasket pc hardware store owner), paid me in PC parts, so eventually I could build a Celerion 300 MHz based PC. Followed by a couple of years of gaming bliss.
Later I went to university and had my first serious girlfriend, and consequentially neither time nor money. So I really only got back into gaming about 2005, when I moved to Europe's island of peace and prosperity: Switzerland. This meant 1.5 years of a hardcore World of Warcraft addiction (on my MacBook), followed by buying a PS3 and a 360 to cure me (successfully) from this addiction. When Sid Meier's Civilization V was nearing release in mid-2010 I knew it was time for a proper gaming PC. I bought mine from a store that essentially custom builds them like one would do yourself. But now it is time for an upgrade!
The actual PC
So I was pretty anxious about building a new PC. Now it seems like a science in itself. Sure, configuration and such stuff is pretty easy now, but on the other hand so much specialised hardware exists, and things like cooling and airflow are big topics. So it took me a long time to prepare myself. A huge help was the video of Norm & Will from Tested.com building a PC together with Loyd Case.
The moment when I saw this case I was very interested, because it reminds me of the Apple PowerMac G3, which I always wanted back in the day. It would be great to build a modern PC into a bondi-blue PMG3-base, but I am not that crazy. Yes, I am a passionate Mac user. (But PCs are pretty cool, too.) Then again, today my "personal computing" needs are almost covered by my phone. And I do not work at home or such things. Also I have a ThinkPad in the office should the need arise.
There is a slightly never version of a PC-building video here, but with a boring mini-ATX case. So I will use the BitFenix Prodigy case featured in the first video. I had my doubts about this case - mainly that it is to crammed for a beginner - until I yesterday saw this video about what you can do with it:
So today I ordered the parts! Here we go:
Case: BitFenix Prodigy - Mini ITX, black (the black is not as cool but comes with a mesh front for better airflow)
Mainboard: Asus R.O.G. Maximus VI Impact, Z87, LGA1150, WLAN, mini ITX
alternate case fan: BitFenix Spectre PRO 230mm Fan
Storage: Samsung SSD 840 EVO Basic, TLC, 250GB and WD Caviar Green 3TB HD
This PC will play games and movies and surf the web to e.g. look at QuickLooks. It will be attached to my TV initially. I had my previous PC also on the TV, but it is very loud and big. I hated that. I moved it to the kitchen (yes, the kitchen, I have a tiny flat) and attached it to a 22" monitor. This is great for strategy games which I play a lot (that´s why I got the relatively powerful CPU), but pretty odd for controller games. So small footprint and noise reduction were priorities for this build. It is obviously not small enough to sit under my TV next to the PS3.
I do not need an optical drive or many drives, so I will remove the 5.25" tray and the upper 3.5" trays. This will free up enough room to mount the huge radiator facing the top hole of the case. I am not sure where to place the fans. Either the fans next to the outside or the radiator, and in which direction to adjust the fans. Or just get 4 new silent fans and push and pull - but that seems like a (noisy) overkill. In any case there is still enough room to install the SSD, the new 3TB drive and maybe a 500GB 2.5" drive I have lying around. In the front I will put the big 230mm fan and suck in air (which will be filtered by the front mesh).
The main board will be delivered on wednesday, so hopefully I will have a new PC in one week.
Alrighty! So a little recap op what I have been playing. To put this in a context: beginning October I started a new job, after a about a year of absolutely depressing unemployment. It quite takes it out of me every day, and it will get worse. But so far it has been the kind of exhaustion, that leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. So I greatly welcome it. Also not being poor anymore helps a lot. Simultaneously, I started going back to the gym (I can afford one now!), resulting in even more accomplishment and exhaustion. Not really in any particular order:
After The International my interest in Dota 2 waned quickly. It just a way to exhausting game. But at some time I probably go back. The experience with the fellow duders was great.
In September I started Grand Theft Auto V and played it to a completion of about 50%. Since then I continued on in an absolutely glacial pace. But I do enjoy it. I love open world games, and the fleshed out city goes a long way. I also love buying houses in a game.
In search for bite-size chunks of gaming I played Orcs Must Die! 2, which does not add much to the original if you do not play co-op, but it remains refreshingly hard.
I also recently started playing Trine 2. (This is a 2011 game. Imagine how daunting my backlog is.) Oh my this game is so pretty. If you play Killzone 2 first, and then Trine 2 you probably get an epileptic shock. I think I am stuck somewhere. I wonder how this plays in Co-op.
There also has been a bit of Crusader Kings II, while I have been at my parents since I can play it on my MacBook. This game remains fun. I still haven't explored all possibilities there. There are probably years worth of gameplay in it. Especially, since Paradox Interactive AB will likely announce a new expansion tomorrow.
The last weekend vanished thanks to Sid Meier's Civilization V, including all expansions DLCs, including the new map pack, and the fall balance patch. The changes where not dramatic. Mainly, Germany and Japan where buffed by making them less war focused and giving them bonuses to production/trade and culture, respectively. I think I am done with Civ5. After only 2'238h of gameplay. I think I got my moneys worth.
A huge chuck of my time in the last months of unemployment however went to Europa Universalis IV. The essential grand strategy game from Paradox. I great game to learn about history and spend hours on wikipedia alongside playing. Also a great game to live out your evil world conquering side. Nothing stand before a 16th century Brandenburg - > turned Prussia -> turned Germany, reaching from the Adriatic Sea to Finland. Also nothing stands before tiny Milan, for that matter. They already put It a great patch, and DLC I buy without even ready the description. Likely, my Game of the Year 2013. Then again I have not played Brothers yet (Stupid question, but can you enjoy this as a single child?).
I ignored Shadowrun Returns so far. I think I will never play it. I backed a bunch of games, but I came to terms with the notion that I will not play many of them. But its cool to help these people make their and others dream game come true. I will probably play Elite: Dangerous. David Braben talks about the viscosity of planet atmospheres and procedual generation. You actually should check out his TED talk.
I also quickly checked out Democracy 3. This is a game for real man (and women). As you can already tell from its download footprint of 175 MB. This a game of charts and funny bubbles connected with lines. But by putting you in control of essentially everything a country it is somewhat emotional, in a weird way. It also show how imperfect but beautiful democracy is. (The british developer I think was influenced by the essential 2-party system in the UK. It does not reflect well countries with many parties in their parliament.) The underlying neural network approach to simulation of voter behavior produces some really unexpected outcomes. I essentially was crushing it as a super-left high-tech utopia as Germany, but I lost the election essentially because people where jaded and did not vote, while the small opposition of religious fanatics and "falcons" was mobilizing all his sympathizers. You really should check out this game. It is made by A DUDE. He needs to eat.
I also bought Spacebase DF-9. This would be right up my alley, but it is not a game yet. Be warned. I am not sure what the feature set will be. Essentially I want a new Theme Park. I fear this is not it.
As you can see I have been shying away from everything story-based. Even before I started feeling that it is such a drag to start playing these story games. You have to get your bearings, start and then time is up already. This makes appraching my PS3-backlog even harder. After GTA V, there is the Assassin's Creed 3 DLC, Uncharted 2+3 and Mass Effect 3 (yep ME3, still wrapped. I feel dirty.) Not to speak of all the PS+ titles. I wanted to be done with the PS3 when the PS4 comes out. I doubt that now.
I am really looking forward to the PS4. I will buy shooters for it. I haven't played a MP-FPS on a console in years. (Call of Duty: Black Ops was the last one). I prefer them on consoles, since I am not a good player. Also, I am determined to blow my first paycheck on gaming so an iPad and a new PC might hit soon.