Obituary – MacBook Pro (2011 – 2016)

We remember today not just a beloved design icon, video editor and avid gamer, but also my closest companion through thick and thin. At five years old, standing taller than fifteen inches, always feeling lighter than two and a half kilograms, the absence of your sturdy chassis pressed against my shoulders will always be felt. It will always be said that you died doing what you loved the most – running Final Cut Pro while I edited a World of Tanks gameplay video compilation. Your absence will leave a space on my desk, a hole in my backpack and a problem on Saturday when I have to visit Woody for the EU WoT League Grand Finals. Bugger.

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Review – Cook, Serve, Delicious!

Today I’m looking at a unique cooking game that describes itself as “one of the few hardcore restaurant sims in existence”. The English language release of the Japanese original “Ore no Ryouri 3”, “Cook, Serve, Delicious” casts the player as the managing chef in the game’s namesake restaurant located in the fictional SherriSoda Tower, a past-it’s-prime skyscraper on the comeback trail. You’re tasked with dragging it’s run-down cafe back up through the culinary ranks, restoring both the 5-star rating and former glory as hottest restaurant in town, but don’t let the setting fool you – even Gordon Ramsey would struggle to deal with the heat in this kitchen! Continue reading Review – Cook, Serve, Delicious!

Microsoft’s UWP “Landgrab”

Let’s keep this one short – Microsoft have the unveiled “Universal Windows Platform“, essentially a single-codebase/multi-hardware targeted compile ecosystem with MS as gatekeepers. Less work for developers to support all MS’s device! Yay! Except they’ve got some weird rules about how games published through this ecosystem should work. Boo! But that doesn’t matter, because the whole ecosystem is open and can be used however developers want to use it! Yay!

Or least, it’s open for now. There’s nothing to stop MS putting important features behind their wall – maybe the next version of DirectX will be UWP-access only? I guess that’s a version of DirectX that on-one (who matters) will develop games for then, I guess. I hope they hurry up with Vulkan…

Note To Self

Read the list of patches your Linux server is prompting you to install before you install them. Certain applications don’t like it when the installed MySQL interface libraries get updated to versions they weren’t compiled with. Especially while they’re running. Also, database backups might be a good idea.

UPDATE: Also, when setting your compile options, your server has 4 cores, not 2.

Something Old, Something New

Let’s get it out of the way now, right at the top – “That Dragon, Cancer” is not a video game in the same way that The Stanley Parable, Gone Home and Kentucky Route Zero are not video games. You may sit at your computer with your keyboard and your mouse and control them just like video games with video game-like graphics and sounds, but they are not video games.

Don’t get me wrong, saying they aren’t games doesn’t detract from their value in the world in any way what-so-ever, but they aren’t video games and no-one should be calling them that – especially video games reviewers.

Oh dear. Too late.

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Preservation Versus Piracy

I spent most of yesterday setting up my own World of Warcraft server. With a little Linux knowledge, a HowTo guide and a MySQL server, I compiled, configured and populated a little private server for myself and a couple of friends I used to play WoW with ‘back in the day’. Some people would immediately accuse me of piracy, and they do have a point. The license agreement I signed up to when I first fired up the European Open Beta precluded me from ever using the World of Warcraft client software with any servers other than Blizzard’s official paid-for ones, so I’m definitely in an “actionable position” right now, albeit a civil one rather than a criminal one. It’s arguable that a combination of the WoW client being available on any torrent site worth it’s salt along with freely available server software is a pirate’s dream, and that by doing this I’m being nothing but a Freetard. Those people who think that can go f*** themselves and stick their short-sightedness up their backsides.

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NASA TV Airs Cosplay Selfie in ISS Control Room

After the first British astronaut enters the International Space Station, it’s good to know that the folks at the ISS are firmly in control. I was watching NASA TV to see if they had anything about Tim Peake’s experience so far. After a brief conference with UK press, he sounded in good spirits and having a great time. The broadcast then went back live to the ISS Control Center just in time to see a whole load of folks get up and leave at the end of their shifts. And then… at 4:56am GMT… just in the corner of the feed…

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SteamOS Under-performing Against Windows

While it’s certainly not unexpected, the performance differences between SteamOS and Windows games have been nicely quantified by an article on Ars Technica that shows just how much of your system power you’re sacrificing using Valve’s free OS over the pay-for Windows. In some cases, it’s pretty shocking – Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor on medium settings under Windows gets a higher frame rate than SteamOS on lowest settings. Ouch.

It would seem the main reason for this is that Windows has DirectX while SteamOS has to rely on OpenGL. The idea that DirectX is faster that OpenGL full stop doesn’t hold any water, but the idea that games devs are better at using DirectX than OpenGL makes perfect sense and basically boils down to the same thing for SteamOS users. Let’s hope the Kronos working group can put Vulkan together PDQ – the future of open source games performance is relying on it pretty hard right now.

Taking On The Consoles – Revisited

You may have noticed that the initial idea behind was blog was self-building a Steam Machine that could compete on both price and performance with the XBox One and Playstation 4. With it’s higher specs, the PS4 was the primary target. After days of poring over price lists, benchmarks, reviews and spec sheets, I eventually pulled the trigger and built a fairly impressive system for just below the price of a Playstation 4 at the time.

You may also have noticed that all the analysis and gameplay footage and stuff that I spoke of never materialised. Why? Primarily because the system I built relied on a period of change in the PC parts market that brought the prices of several components, namely the motherboard, down to fit the budget. Those deals evaporated pretty quickly and within a week of the build, a similar spec system simply couldn’t fit inside the budget. So how about now?

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Propaganda Redefining Theft

A new advert caught my eye on TV today, part of a £3.5m government initiative to discourage piracy. I don’t know if you pay attention to such things, but anti-piracy initiatives have always been somewhat economical with the truth about what piracy is and how big an effect it has on the world’s artistic output.

This particular advert is no exception. This animation depicts YOUR piracy as the sole destructive force that’ll bring about the end of all creative output in the world, closing down cinemas, preventing all future music releases, bringing our bookshops to their knees and wiping out the video games industry. Uh-huh.

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Stoney Mahoney's Gaming and Tech Blog