Made a little video about Easy Allies in 2016:
Watch on YouTube
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Easy Ally series
In case you're interested, in 2019 I made an Easy Ally video series and submitted it to Community Showcase to get reaction from featured Allies. Here are all episodes:
- Easy Ally: Michael Damiani
- Easy Ally: Daniel Bloodworth
- Easy Ally: Bradley Ellis
- Easy Ally: Kyle Bosman
- Easy Ally: Ben Moore
- Easy Ally: Ian Hinck
- Easy Ally: Michael Huber
- Easy Ally: Brandon Jones
- Easy Ally: Don Casanova
RE: The EZA Community Top 25 Best of 2011!
I always manage to make a choice in Dragon Age games that will severely hurt me in the end. And Dragon Age 2 was a prime example of that. Spoiler warning! I’ve got very attached to one particular companion and romanced him. Near the end this companion’s conscious action had started a war between two factions. Through the whole game I was trying to bring those factions to the peace, so when my companion had admitted his action, I’ve made a choice as a leader to execute my love and dearest friend.
I rarely get emotional when I play games, but this moment was very impactful and lasting: when the game was over I’ve spent several hours thinking where I’ve lost my relationship with this companion and what could I change to keep him away from the path he walked. So this moment alone had made Dragon Age 2 my 2011 GotY.
But there were many other things that I’ve liked in this game. It moves faster than Dragon Age: Origins (especially in combat) which was a welcome change for me. Visually it looks much better than Origins, especially for character models. Characters are great and well written: even when you don’t share their world view, relationships still make sense. As for the drawbacks of Dragon Age 2, I don’t like changing companion’s appearances and I don’t pay much attention to the set dressing anyway, so it wasn’t a problem to me that those aspects were lacking.
So, yeah, from my perspective, Dragon Age 2 was nearly perfect game.
E3 2019 direct links for press-conferences and other shows (Spoiler Free)
Because of the time-zone and life not everyone can watch E3 live. But finding the recording after the fact and avoiding the spoilers at the same time can be extremely difficult. So I've decided to post direct links here so that you can copy and past them to your favorite YouTube/Twitch downloader and just watch the event without having to worry about recommended videos, comments and other spoiler territories.
PC Gaming Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hru6IvgRSp4
Square Enix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEuHAhkBRaQ
Nintendo (with Treehouse): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhVCdxtofWU
Geoff Keighley's show:
Feel free to post other direct links, but please don't post any spoilers (game names, time codes, etc.)
I've tested GeForce Now
So, yesterday I’ve tested GeForce Now service and got some interesting results. Full disclosure: in Russia GeForce Now is served by 3rd-party company, but they use NVidia branding and, and NVidia promotes their service as GeForce Now. So while my results may not be indicative of worldwide situation, it should be pretty accurate.
As a test game I used Doom 2016 and compared streamed version with a version running on my brand-new gaming PC. Good things first: I didn’t notice any visual difference between local and streamed version whether I was stationary or moving at high speed. Even things like fog had no visual artifacts of video compression. At the same time bandwidth consumption was around 20 Mbps, which is great for 1080p 60fps with individually compressed frames. Also launching games and using cloud saves is very easy.
Not so good is the delay. Doom was perfectly playable via stream, but there was a noticeable difference between local version and streamed version. I haven’t measured it and I’m bad at estimating such things, but I doubt I would notice it if it was less than a couple of frames. It definitely not a network delay (I have 2ms RTT between my PC and data center where servers are hosted), so it must be a video compression delay. Another not so good thing is that my PC load level twice faster than the server (and I haven’t the fastest SSD you can buy). Again, it’s not a deal breaker, but I expected more from the cloud-based solution.
Now the bad thing. There were dropped frames, sometimes almost a second of dropped frames. This was the most curious thing, so I’ve captured network traffic and started digging. Here’s what I found.
Besides a series of TCP connections that last for 7 seconds and barely transfer any data, communication consists of 4 UDP streams. Two transfer data to the client (most likely, one for video and one for audio) and two transfer data in other direction (most likely, one is used for control inputs and another for something unimportant since it’s the only stream that don’t have quality-of-service marking):
Now if you look at I/O graph you’ll see something interesting:
Blue is (most likely) video stream, green is audio stream, black is controller input and red is something else. When I saw dropped frames in game, there’s some significant packet drop, but only for the video stream. Other streams aren’t impacted. It’s even more obvious if you look closer:
And this is how it looks on the video-frame level:
For reference, this is how it looks on the video-frame level when everything is OK:
This doesn’t look like a network bottleneck, since other streams with same or lower quality-of-service level aren’t impacted. It potentially could be a result of load-balancing this particular stream on overloaded network link, but I know this network path from my work and I haven’t encountered any capacity problems. So I just have to assume that there’s some problem on the server’s side, possibly with the video encoding. I know it’s sounds strange since NVidia GPUs are great for video encoding, but delay I’ve talked earlier about is also indicative of some encoding issues. And it's possible that there's not enough video encoding servers (but enough servers to run games) in this data center.
In summary, GeForce Now is a service that can actually do videogame streaming, but it has some issues that needs to be fixed. So you can consider it to play Cyberpunk 2077, but definitely try before you buy.
RE: The EZA Community Top 25 Best of 2012!
Let me tell you a story.
I try all PS Plus games. One month one of those games for Vita was Virtue’s Last Reward. So I’ve decided to give it 5 minutes before deleting it. In 5 minutes I’ve got to a puzzle and I like puzzles. I’ve decided to solve it and then uninstall the game. The puzzle was fine, so I’ve decided to watch next cut-scene before deleting it. The next cut-scene was over an hour long (at that time I had no idea what visual novel is) and in that hour I’ve got intrigued by the mystery of its story. So instead of deleting the game I’ve kept playing, but at that point I wanted to go only through one storyline (I’ve chosen the leftmost path on the flowchart). I was very surprised when I’ve reached story’s lock and by googling it I’ve discovered that you need to play other story paths. By that point I was already wrapped by game’s plot, so I’ve continued playing. And once I’ve started seeing alternative paths and once I’ve discovered that this gameplay gimmick is a part of the grand narrative I felt in love with this game.
Obviously some parts of its story and its premise just resonated with me and they may not resonate with you, but the fact that I went from being ready to trash this game almost immediately to 100% it three times and also buying 3DS and importing 999 just to see it’s prequel speaks volumes about the quality of Virtue’s Last Reward.
It was ported to PC a couple of years ago, so it’s easily accessible and it often goes on sales. If my story made you intrigued, add this game to your Steam wishlist. Maybe one day you will try it and maybe you’ll love it as much as I do.
RE: The EZA Community Top 25 Best of 2012!
In mid-90s my parents bought me a book about video games. It had lots of short descriptions and two detailed walkthroughs. One of those walkthroughs was X-Com: UFO Defense. I had no PC at that time (and of course no consoles) so I’ve never played it. But I’ve read that walkthrough again and again imagining I playing it.
Flash forward to 2012. XCOM: Enemy Unknown comes out and gets great reviews. I start playing it and it is exactly the same game I imagined playing nearly two decades ago. I had absolutely magical experience going through its campaign.
It’s #6 on my list because while this magical experience is tied to this game it has almost nothing to do with game’s qualities. It’s a great game, but I played more enjoyable 2012 games.
RE: The EZA Community Top 25 Best of 2019!
A Plague Tale: Innocence is my #6 of 36.
Life is Strange 2 was a huge disappointment for me this year (I liked first episode, and hated the rest), so I wasn’t too interested in another game about sibling children. Then they released a free demo and I played the first chapter. It was good. No, it was great. I still had other games to play and it was too pricey at that moment, so I added it to my “to play list”. Then it joined Origin Access Premiere which I got in November, so I finally played it. And I loved it!
Even through visuals are important to me (and they are great here), the characters are the most impressive thing for me. Amicia is the perfect lead – she is smart, she is resourceful, she is determined, but at the same time she is very vulnerable. And excellent VO makes you believe that Amicia is about to break and fall apart, but each time she manages to find inner strength to keep going against the harsh world that tries to kill her. It’s so easy to get attached to such non-superhuman character and it’s so easy to get inspired by her actions.
Amicia’s brother Hugo could easily be the most annoying part of such game, but he isn’t because even when he acts “stupid” you can always understand why. Also he helps you many times during the game, so he never feels like a cargo you have to carry, nor like a princess waiting to be saved. The bond between him and Amicia doesn’t develop as much as it could, but it only helps during certain story parts.
There are some other great characters, but the next thing I want to talk about is the story. It’s dark, it’s grim, sometimes it’s shocking, but these shocking moments always have a purpose. The pacing is great and there’s some optional lore if you interested in this period of history. I agree that the ending could be better, but I really liked the Epilogue, so I was still satisfied.
So why it’s only my #6? It’s because of gameplay. It’s good, but there’s a skill tree with very good abilities that can be unlocked with materials you find in the world. Well, I explored a lot, I got a lot of resources and I unlocked pretty much everything. And when you get every skill your character becomes so powerful that the gameplay no longer fit for the story this game tells. So my advice to anyone will be to go a bit faster than your gamer heart wants.
And yes I recommend this game to almost everyone. It’s not long (7-8 hours), it’s accessible (Origin Access Premiere, Xbox Game Pass) and it has a free demo if you still hesitant.