Saturday, April 27, 2013

XBOX more Windows than console

Article first published as XBOX More Windows than Console on Technorati.

By now you're probably aware that May 21st is a big day for Microsoft.  That's when we'll hopefully get some details about the next  generation Xbox.  Of course if it's anything like the PS4 announcement we'll just see a bunch of game demos. 

That and at some point somebody's arms flailing about in front of a Kinect sensor.

EA, the game publishing giant, is apparently on board with the new console after two anonymous  sources leaked a few tantalizing tidbits about an exclusive add-on content deal.  Exactly what that means, however, is still a matter of supposition.

Until now, all we really knew from all the leaked developer kits, anonymous tips and antisocial behavior from a former creative director is that the console was going to be based on Intel X86 architecture, require an Internet connection to function and have a Blu-Ray Drive.

Which may as well be a press release for the Sony PS4.

Then on April 25th Paul Thurrott, longtime watcher of all things Microsoft, wrote an article for WindowsITPro called, "HereComes the Next Xbox"

Thurrott is a respected author, blogger and head honcho at and has access to those in the know at Microsoft.  Basically if Thurrott says it's real there's a 99% chance it is.
From his article we know this much about the next XBOX.  

  • ·         We still don'tknow its name will be but it definitely won't be XBOX 720.
  • ·         It'll cost you $500 ($300 w/2 year XBOX Live sub. at $10/mo.) 
  • ·         It won't run Xbox 360 software but the 360 will still exist.
  • ·         It's going to be running the Windows 8 Operating System

Yes, you read that right.  The next XBOX will be running Windows and not Windows RT or some strange derivative.  Thurrott says it will be based on Windows 8 Core which is the entry level Windows 8 operating system complete with tiles and media player and all of that. 

Of course it will be heavily modified for the console but at its heart it's still Windows 8.  The Modern (or Metro) tile interface would seem to lend itself to just such an application so long as the translation from touch centric to something more in line with a console could be adapted.

That's the rub.  Windows 8 may be Microsoft's one user interface to rule them all but on a console, even one based on X86, you're still dealing with a limited sandbox.  It has to be that way or else you're just selling a $500 PC that you can't upgrade.

Thurrott stated in his article that the "always on" Internet requirement wouldn't be as "draconian" as people think. 

The question that comes to the forefront is why have it at all then?  How can a console be required to always have a connection to the Internet if it isn't for DRM?

I think I've got the answer and it goes straight back to the operating system. 

Remember, Thurrott said the OS was based on Windows 8 core.  If that's so then it's going to be subject to the same patch cycle as any other Windows 8 deployment.  Even in a sandbox, security holes, bug fixes and the like will need to be applied on a regular schedule. 

Which brings up a very real concern for the platform because it's going to require Microsoft to be ever vigilant or face the potential disaster of millions of Windows 8 consoles suddenly being bricked by an unpatched vulnerability.

It's my own supposition but it's the only way I can see an "always on" requirement being less draconian. 
We'll know more in a few weeks at the announcement and at this year's E3 where Microsoft is supposed to spill all the beans about the console.

I guess this is what they meant by convergence.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A real AMD 7990, next Xbox and Windows 8?

The Midaged Gamer Report for 4-26-2013

This Week:

A real AMD 7990 launches but the drivers still stink,  The next Xbox and Windows 8?

I'm going for quality, not quantity this week so let's see where the train goes...

Let me start by apologizing if this next part bores you but you're going to need some background to understand why the launch of the AMD 7990 is so disappointing.

Somewhere back around December 2011 we got the first hint of a dua lGPU powerhouse based on AMD's Southern Islands platform.  The original launch date was supposed to be the first quarter of 2012 but that didn't happen.  Four months later Nvidia beat AMD to the punch by announcing the Dual GPU 690 which had 2 of Nvidia's GK104 GPU's (the same as the GTX 680).  The only response from AMD was a missed 7990 reveal at the 2012 Computex and subsequent delay moving the forecasted launch to late August of 2012. 

It wasn't till October of last year that we finally saw a dual GPU product announcement bearing the 7990 moniker but it was not based on any reference design from AMD but rather something Powercolor had designed themselves. Apparently board partners had gotten tired of waiting around for something to fit into the void the 7990 was leaving. 

ASUS and Powercolor didn't wait for AMD's blessing, however, with Powercolor using the 7990 label on their first dual GPU card without complaint from AMD.  Powercolor's subsequent offering, the Devil 13 and Asus' Ares 2 made no mention of the 7990 on their packaging.  That only fed the rumors that there would be no official AMD Dual GPU offering to compete with Nvidia's 690.  That left the AMD faithful wondering if they'd have to wait till AMD's next generation for a "real" dual GPU card to battle Nvidia.

All those rumors were finally put to rest this week but is it too little too late?

AMD calls their new 7990, Malta.  It's based on dual 28nm process 7970's, has 8.6 Billion transistors (2x4.3bil.),  6GB (3GBx2) or DDR5, 384bit memory bus (x2), on a single PCB design.  The card takes 2 8 pin PCI-E power plugs and promises 576GB/sec memory bandwidth and 4096 Stream processors (2x2048 per GPU).  Sounds good until you realize that all those (x2's) are very reliant on software to make the real magic happen.

The 7990 designation continues with the new reference design but AMD is quick to point out that this is the official 7990 where previous partner produced cards were not.  That's not the whole story, however.  The 7990 is basically just another dual GPU stuck on a single PCB running in crossfire.  Really, there's no difference from two cross-fired 7970's aside from freeing up a slot and a couple of power plugs.

The real story, however, has nothing to do with hardware.  It's the Achilles heel of AMD GPU's for the past 2 generations of their video cards.  That being, the drivers.  From PCPer's new performance rating system called Frame Rating we see that new hardware still can't fix flaky drivers. 

The 7990 is still hampered by deficiencies in the drivers when using Crossfire even if both GPU's are on the same PCB.  That means the problems with runt frames and erratic multi-GPU performance continue.  AMD has tried to address the issue with not one but two beta drivers with the latest given only to PCPer appearing to help but not eliminate crossfire performance issues. 

At a $1000 price point the performance deficit caused by AMD's continually sloppy driver development could push buyers straight into Nvidia's 690 and Titan GPU's.  That goes double when you consider buyers have been waiting for a year for a card that is currently not a real competitor to Nvidia's high end offerings.  At this point PCPer has what amounts to a prototype driver that could be the foundation to finally rid AMD of its crossfire driver curse but you won't see it till midsummer.   If you can wait that long at least you can take advantage of a huge 8 game bundle AMD's offering with the 7990 including titles like Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider and Crysis 3

Ok, enough about that...

We finally have a date for the announcement of the next Xbox.  Since the February announcement of the PS4 (still bummed it's not called Orbis)  Xbox fans have had to listen to their Playstation buddies go on and on about the PS4.   The only information an Xbox fan got came from a former Microsoft creative director's bad attitude

That was, until this week's announcement of a special XBOX event to be broadcast live on, Xbox Live and Spike TV (in the U.S.) at 10AM May 21st.
Great, so the Xbox faithful finally get some credible news but wait! There's still time to spread around some unofficial rumors so here we go...

Of course the obligatory parade of Triple-A titles will be announced but new this week are some third-party affirmations about the console coming from the person of one Paul Thurrott.  For the uninitiated Thurott is a well respected tech blogger and author who runs as well as hosting the weekly "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWIT network that airs every Thursday.  Thurott has connections within Microsoft and has been writing about the company and its products for decades. 

Oh yeah, and he's a real big Call of Duty fan.  So there's that grain of salt...

I like Paul, in fact he's known to pull no punches when Microsoft does wrong and was no fan of the reign of Steven Sinofsky.  Apparently the feeling was mutual as he frequently found himself snubbed by the former Microsoft exec.  Why that's important will become clear in a second but first the aforementioned "salt"

Thurott is on record as saying that Windows Vista wasn't that bad of an operating system.

To which I say, you're delusional Paul.  Any operating system that can turn the performance of a Core I7 into an Athlon 64 is bad.  If Apple would have embraced "Hackintosh" users in 2006 I'm convinced Microsoft would've been reduced to the market share of Linux because of Vista.

So there's that but I digress...

The real news is that he's managed to confirm that the next Xbox will launch in early November, will not be backward compatible with the Xbox 360 and will cost $500.  If that price is too steep you can get it for $300 if you agree to pay $10 a month (USD) over the next 2 years for an Xbox Live Gold subscription. 

The new Xbox will contain an Blu-Ray drive and its operating system will be running...

Yes friends and neighbors, you can finally rest assured that Windows 8 is indeed the one platform to rule them all in the Windows world. 

Windows 8 core is the most basic version of Windows and while it doesn't support virtualization it does support the tiled (Modern or Metro) interface, has a desktop and supports most of the standard Windows applications.   You can bet it will be heavily modified but at its "core"(pun intended) you've got a Windows PC.

Thurott also claims that the next Xbox will indeed be required to have an active Internet connection but he qualifies that with the statement that it "isn't as Draconian as many seem to believe."  Although he hasn't gone into detail on exactly what that means.

My guess (and that's all it is) is that the Windows 8 core OS that the new Xbox runs on will be subject to the same security updates and patches as any other Windows install.  That means all those new Xbox owners are going to learn the phrase, "Patch Tuesday"    

Windows 8 is more secure and better performing than Windows 7 but I 'm not so sure I'd want to run a console with it.   It's still just a console after all.

That and I'm wondering if Microsoft thinks there's going to be a bunch of 80" touch screen TV's flooding the market or will we all be flailing our arms at a Kinect sensor to launch a game.  The only other option is to navigate the "tiles" with a game controller which to be frank would profoundly "suck."

The "Always On" thing bugs me though.  It's a fact of life that anyone with a PC or Tablet these days is forced to lose hours of their lives to updates.  Thing is, I can still use my PC and current consoles without always having to be connected to the Internet. 

May 21st will be interesting.

That's it for this week and I've gone on for almost 1500 words so you must be asleep by now. 

Remember, next week is the big monthly wrap up!

I'm out.

Friday, April 19, 2013

EA's Axe a swingin', BF4 Battlelog 2.0, OUYA growing pains

The Midagedgamer Report for 4-19-2013

This Week:

BF4 brings Battlelog 2.0, OUYA growing pains, EA's axe keeps swinging and some other crap

It's been a slow news week which is both a good and bad thing.  Good that this will be short, bad that it'll be long on editorials so hang on and let's get going!

Well it seems that with the Fall launch of Battlefield 4 will come a new Battlelog dubbed Battlelog 2.0.  Dice has leaked a partial screenshot showing some of the redesign.  It's supposed to be accessible via mobile, console and web browser.  Supposedly you'll be able to "track your stats and interact with friends". 

Sounds  just like Grid 2's "Racenet" only worse.

So if Battlelog 1.0 wasn't annoying enough you can now look forward to the "mobile optimized" Battlelog 2.0.  Gee, I wonder if it'll have a timeline like Facebook.  Maybe we'll even be able to "Like" our battlefield buddies and exchange family photos...

Excuse me while I go throw up...


Joystiq did another article on the Ouya console this week and so far Richard Mitchell has a few complaints about the console.   Most of them he admits can be attributed to the fact that the consoles that kickstarter backers received are very early models.  The chief complaints are a rather uninspiring game library, controller issues and problems with the interface.

In Ouya's defense he does reiterate that these are very early models and firmware updates have corrected some of these issues. 

Ouya may not be ready for primetime but it doesn't officially launch till June 4th either.  So it's probably best to consider it a beta product.  If it had all the issues the author mentioned on official launch that would be a bird of a different color. 

In short, it's really just a beta device right now and feedback good or bad will ultimately make the product better.  That's what Beta's are for.  Imagine if you could have early access to a PS4 console.   I'd be willing to bet all the same issues would show up. 

If you've been contemplating a graphics upgrade you may want to consider the Nvidia option.  Starting Tuesday, Nvidia announced a new bundle to replace the Freebie Steam game bundle they were offering.  Consumers who purchase a Geforce 660 or above video card will get a free copy of the game Metro: Last Light.  The sequel to Metro 2033 set in post Apocalyptic Moscow from 4A studios and the now defunct THQ  (rights since purchased by publisher Deep Silver) is due to launch May 14th for $49.99 but you get it free if you take advantage of Nvidia's bundle.  AMD's bundle is still better but at least this time around you get a triple-A title for your trouble instead of a bunch of Steam freebies with some upgrade credits.

EA's swingin' the axe again.  It seems since former CEO John Riccitiello announced his resignation last month heads have been rolling throughout the company.  Last week saw 200 layoffs throughout EA's studios and this week finds the company admitting that it's undergoing a "restructuring" . 

The latest high profile target was the London Playfish studio which has been reportedly "made redundant" .  EA announced the closing down of all the studio's Facebook  games with much of the studios creative assets split among other EA divisions.  Whomever's left is at risk of being labeled "redundant"  A fate that's already befallen employees at EA's Hyderbad studio in India.

After 2 years of Triple-A flops, bad launches and lackluster performance in the mobile space perhaps the biggest problem with EA is a lack of focus.  Trying to be everything to everybody can only lead to being nothing to nobody.

CVG has put together a list of the 29 most promising PC games to be release in 2013.  Of course Battlefield 4 is on the list but so is Dragon Age 3, Watch Dogs, Elder Scrolls online, Company of Heroes 2 and a reboot of Command and Conquer as a Free to Play game based on the Frostbite 2.0 engine.  Worth a look.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Orth is out, Grid 2 = Most Wanted? EA layoffs & more

The Midagedgamer Report for 4-12-2013

This Week:

Mr. "Don't see the drama" don't see a paycheck no more, Grid 2 = NFS:Most Wanted, EA layoffs and more!

Remember Adam Orth?  You know that guy who last week set the console gaming world on fire with his twitter account?  Well apparently he's no longer the creative director of anything having resigned his position after Friday's apology from Microsoft's Larry Hyrb of the XBOX group...

"We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday...This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter."
Microsoft Apology

The commentary on various forums on the topic has ranged from "good riddance" to "I feel sorry for the guy".  I don't feel sorry for him at all.  An attitude like that in a retail business is poisonous.  This went far beyond even the Adria Richards fiasco a few weeks back.  Orth left absolutely no room for interpretation and suffered the consequences.

More news about the upcoming Grid 2, specifically about the multiplayer modes.  The upcoming game due out May 28th in the U.S and the 31st in Europe is going to offer up to 12 player online racing as well as a new "anti-griefing" system designed to match player racing styles so that you don't end up with more aggressive "paint swappers" racing against players trying to achieve a clean race.  There's also integration with social and mobile apps as well as what sounds like a very "Autolog" like "Racenet" which like Battlefield 3's "Battlelog" is the only way to launch a multiplayer game.  The game will feature modes like Race with the option for "Liveroutes" , Endurance, Drift, Touge, Checkpoint, Face-off, Time Attack as well as Challenge events in the form of Overtake and Power Lap.

Liveroutes is interesting because it's a race mode that tries to leverage the "open world" dynamic the whole game is based on.  It basically means the track can change at certain points based on what's going on in the race.  No more memorizing turn 4 or anticipating a straightaway.  Sounds a bit like Need For Speed:Most Wanted but where EA failed maybe Codemasters can succeed.
I have to wonder if Codemaster's is overreaching this time though.  The very EA like online interface and dizzying array of race modes could be biting off more than the developers can chew.  Then again, Codemasters has had 5 years to develop it.  We'll see on May 28th.

Pete Hines, PR President for Bethesda has an opinion.  He thinks that people who complain about new games launching with DLC at day one don't get it .... "I don't think they quite understand the development process and the point at which you have to stop making the game and you have to finish the game." He goes on to say that DLC often happens in the middle of all of that somewhere. 
More like an aborted development cycle to milk more money out of content that should have already been there.  DLC is fine but launch day DLC is just another case of squeezing more money out of your customers and you know it Pete.  Of course how valuable can an opinion be from anyone  that heads up "PR and Marketing"

In case you were wondering when the next update of Intel's Thunderbolt interface was coming (and who wasn't..ha ha) Your wait will soon be over.  It'll be out....soon.  As in the end of the year or early 2014 depending on how fast you want to go.

At the National Association of Broadcasters convention this week Intel announced the new Falcon Ridge controller that provides 20Gbps (that's 2.5Gigabytes per second) bandwidth as well as Redwood Ridge which is a low power version of the interface offering  the same 10Gbps bandwidth of current Thunderbolt controllers.  Both controllers offer Displayport 1.2 compatibility by the way for improved display performance.

 Redwood Ridge will launch with Haswell  later this year, Falcon Ridge sometime after that.  Meanwhile USB 3.0 still maxes out at 5Gbps but a new standard promises to match existing the existing 10Gbps bandwidth of Thunderbolt.  It still doesn't have Displayport capability or the ability to transfer video and data over the same cable, however.  What it does have is better adoption and a lower price point.

The only thing keeping Thunderbolt from supplanting USB 3.0 at this point is the high price of cables and relatively small selection of devices to connect to.  It's a catch 22 situation which is why Intel is pushing the new standard to Hollywood as a replacement for the aging Firewire standard still in use today.  A classic case of trying to get professionals and early adopters with deeper pockets to foot the bill for newer technology.  They get the latest and greatest and after a few years we get lower prices.

 Intel also discussed future plans for Thunderbolt cabling to include optical fiber instead of copper which could theoretically make bandwidth limitless but increase the cost of cables even further with the need for optical transceivers and such.

A promising interface but nothing's going to happen till the cost comes down and more devices are out there to use it. 

So why should a gamer care?  With Displayport capability and high bandwidth straight off the PCI-E bus the days of being limited to only what you can cram into into a laptop case are over.  Imagine eventually being able to have a drop in performance "Dock" to play the latest games at the highest settings but retain the low power and portability of an ultrabook.  Bandwidth is king and it'd be nice if Intel could finally get Thunderbolt into the mainstream.

On the job front, EA has laid off a bunch of people in its Montreal studios supposedly to "sharpen their focus for new platforms and mobile."  Rumor of the layoffs has been circling around since earlier this week with some reports saying most of the layoffs are in the Q&A department.  Regardless, it makes no sense to be slashing staff if you're ramping up for a new platform. 

If the recent launch debacle of SimCity and the complete failure of Warfighter are any indication EA may be cleaning house.  Unfortunately, quality seems to be the major issue in the past few years.  If the rumors are true and most of the layoffs are Q&A people then they've completely missed the mark. 
Anytime I hear the words "Streamline our operations" in a company press briefing it usually means they're circling the wagons.  All the more reason to make sure you're putting out a quality product instead of pumping out marginal games with huge development costs.


If you've just been dying to do some hardcore gaming on your new 80" flatscreen but the console just wasn't cutting it, Couchmaster may put you back in the game (no pun intended).  No, it's not a new gaming console, well at least not the kind you're thinking of.  It's a wraparound padded desk designed to handle your PC mouse, keyboard and a few other USB accessories.  To be honest it kind of looks like a craft project but at $150 U.S. it's reasonably priced for what it is. 

Obviously, only single gamers need apply unless you're trying to become single again...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My fish is dead

No, it's not some kind of metaphor or weird urban slang I just made up (although it might be after this). 
In many of my Midagedgamer Reports my little finned friend would curiously watch me as I recorded the weekly video reports.

He was an Angel Fish and while I know he had the attention span of ...well...a fish, he became a constant companion over the past few years.

I'm still convinced he watched TV as he'd always move to the corner of the tank with the best view of my plasma screen when it was on.  If I were in the room he made sure he was out front and would follow my every move.

Did you ever feel like someone was watching you? Chances are in my living room you were and it was my little Angel fish. 

Pets enrich our lives even if it's only in the simplest of ways.  Could it be possible that I'm projecting human qualities on an animal who could only respond to the most basic of stimuli?  Of course, spend enough time with anything and it's bound to happen.

Ever pat the dash of your car when arriving home after a particularly treacherous journey?  How about when you slap your monitor for screwing up your last paragraph in your term paper...
They call that Anthropomorphism by the way...

Whether or not I'm projecting, the fact of the matter is I feel the loss.

I've lost my little writing companion and aquatic overseer.

I'll miss you buddy.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Always On, No Big Deal?

Article first published as Always On, No Big Deal? on Technorati.

"Sorry, I don't get the drama"

That's what Microsoft Studios Creative Director, Adam Orth,  says about forcing gamers to have an "always on" connection to play a game.  In a tweet that left no room for ambiguity he defiantly proclaimed,

 "Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in. #dealwithit"

It's hard to gauge whether Orth's dismissive stance on forcing customers to keep the Microsoft umbilical cord attached is real or just a sloppy attempt at market research.  The discussion did arise out of rumors that suggested the next XBOX will require persistent connectivity.

When confronted by a BioWare designer  about launch day failures of SimCity and Diablo3 that were directly related to the requirement for "always on" connection, Orth's tweeted back, "electricity goes out too." 

 Official or not the exchange has not gained Orth nor Microsoft any friends with an almost immediate backlash against his twitter account forcing him to switch to protected status.

Whether arrogance or avarice, events like this prove where the gaming industry's  focus is.  Hint, it's not the customer.


Doom 4 Doomed? Black Ops DLC, Borderlands 2 Patch/DLC and More!

The Midagedgamer Report for April 5, 2013

This Week:

Is Doom 4 doomed?, Pretty guns in Black Ops 2, Borderlands 2 patch and more!

I really, really hope you haven't been holding your breath for the release of Doom 4.  Of course if you did you expired somewhere around Quakecon 2008 anyway.  Kotaku reports that after 5 years the cornerstone franchise of FPS gaming isn't getting anything new anytime soon.

The wrench in the works is a now confirmed rumor that all development for the game was basically tossed out in 2011.  The stated reason was that all the work to that point basically looked like Call of Duty meets demons. In other words just another franchise FPS.  ID's failed game RAGE apparently took up all of the developers attention suggesting someone took their eye off the Cacodemon.  Mismanagement and attrition of key talent seems to round out the balance of the blame. 

ZeniMax (parent of Id and Bethesda) has apparently just about had it with Id, making non-specific threats to get the game out "or else".  This  after the game was again "re-imagined" to take advantage of next generation consoles. 

The real question is, does anyone really care about Doom anymore? 

There is a new trailer for the Black Ops 2 showing the addition of micro-transactions to customize your weapons.  It's already out on Xbox 360 and will show up on PS3 and PC on April 12th.  I guess if they can't fix the multiplayer they can at least let you put a nice paisley print on your Mac 10. 

In related news the next batch of Black Ops 2 DLC is scheduled for release on April 16th for the Xbox 360 and you can get it for 1200 Microsoft points or $15 US.  Yes, that means it's XBOX only folks.  It's called Uprising, gives you 4 new maps and basically has you fending off, you guessed it, zombies.  The twist on an otherwise tired zombie theme is that you can play as one of 4 mobsters voiced by Hollywood icons like Ray Liota, Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano and Chazz Palminteri.

If you don't know who they are just Google their name with the word "mafia" and your questions will be answered.  Of the four additional maps one is called, "Encore" which happens to be set in a deserted music festival in London.  Sounds like a Left for Dead 2 ripoff to me.  I've said it before, I'm sick of zombies and making my character sound like something out of the Sopranos isn't going to make a bit of difference.

Speaking of Uprising, Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth caused one when he tweeted out that he didn't think requiring an always-on connection to play a game was a big deal ...

"Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always online' console,...Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in. #dealwithit."

Is this guy for real?  Or is this just a sneaky way to take a reading on the market for such things.  There's been lots or speculation on just how connected the next Xbox will be lately and this just added fuel to the fire.   Not many statements come from highly placed Microsofties without being carefully curated.   That or this guy needs to get out in the real world once in awhile.  Talk about living in a bubble!

Borderlands 2 has released its latest patch addressing a number of game bugs and enabling the "Ultimate Vault Hunter" mode.  Don't expect any raise in level caps unless you purchase the "Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade( DLC) pack though, that's reserved for DLC only.

Borderlands 2 is a great game but it's wrong to tie a raise in level cap to the purchase of DLC.  The only reason they can get away with it is the lack of an online multiplayer mode.  Other than Duels, a higher level character playing along with you in co-op can only benefit you.  Strangely, the most curious thing about the new DLC has to do with the raise in level cap. 

In screenshots featuring the new DLC it shows a level 61 player going up against a level 63 opponent!  Worse, it's in the early missions of the game.

One of the tweaks from the patch allows you to repeat a playthrough of the original campaign while keeping your stats and weapons.  If the game progressively levels like it does your first time through you could be facing level 100+ foes that you have no hope of defeating.  Where's the fun in that?  Maybe they need to just get rid of level caps period.

From the official release...

Update v1.4.0 (Released 4/2/2013)

Added a new playthrough called Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, unlocked for a character once they have completed the main story missions in True Vault Hunter Mode and reached level 50! 
o In this mode, you will always start in Southern Shelf at Cleaning Up the Berg and may reset your playthrough progress as often as you like without losing any items, levels, or stats. All enemies are significantly more difficult in this playthrough, but the loot quality has increased accordingly. Rumor has it there is an entirely new rarity of loot out there for high-level players.
Added new items to the Black Market: 
o One additional ammo upgrade for each ammo type, at 50 Eridium each.
o Two more backpack storage space upgrades, at 50 and 100 Eridium respectively.
o Two more bank storage space upgrades, at 50 and 100 Eridium respectively.
Increased the maximum amount of Eridium players can hold from 99 to 500.
Fixed a bug that was causing some users to crash on startup or when loading into a level after choosing their character.
Fixed a bug that could cause hosts to become invulnerable if they were being revived by a client who disconnected mid-revive.
Fixed an issue that could cause players to crash or freeze when fighting BNK-3R.
Fixed a bug that could cause Deathtrap's Robot Rampage audio to not stop playing after killing an enemy until Deathtrap despawned.
Fixed a bug that could stop the Gunzerker's Keep It Piping Hot skill from functioning as intended.
Covered an area of the world near Claptrap's ship where the player could fall in and be unable to get out.
Fixed an issue where a Siren could revive a player and make another player invulnerable under specific circumstances.
Addressed instances of audio distortion tied to Axton's turret and kill skills.
(Mr. Torgue DLC) Critical hits against Midgets now register properly.
(Mr. Torgue DLC) Rat Thief enemies are no longer allowed in Pete’s Bar due to patron concerns regarding excessive theft.
(Captain Scarlett DLC) Fixed an issue with the "Shady Dealings" challenge where a purchase could sometimes not count toward its completion.
Fixed an issue where players could be unable to interact with the menu when a mission that granted experience but not items was completed and not handled by the player before saving and quitting.
Fixed an issue where players could cause the round to not fail in a Slaughter mission if a surviving player disconnects while all others are out.
(Sir Hammerlock DLC) Thermitage is now friendlier and will no longer refuse to come play with some players.
Fixed issues with the following missions that could cause players to get stuck or not be able to complete them: 
o Wildlife Preservation
o Medical Mystery
o (Captain Scarlett DLC) Let There Be Light
o (Mr. Torgue DLC) Eat Cookies and Crap Thunder
Fixed a bug where players were able to do far more damage than intended by exploiting a buff from the Evil Smasher.
Clients are now able to see explosions caused by Norfleets in multiplayer.
Fixed an issue causing Relics to sometimes not show the Favorite indicator.
Fixed an issue that caused E-tech weapons to not be able to hit the Mechromancer's 'One Two Boom' orb.
Seraph Gear from Captain Scarlett and Mr. Torgue DLC re-balanced to be more powerful.
Fixed class mods that increase the skill grade of Axton's Metal Storm, Onslaught and Quick Charge skills to function as intended.
Fixed an exploit involving Vladof rocket launchers that could result in having infinite ammo for any weapon.
Fixed an issue where weapon cards would sometimes not display how many bullets they consumed per shot.
Mechromancer's Prodigy class mod now correctly increases reload speed.
Fixed an issue causing impact sounds from users with The Bee shield to not be audible on clients.
Adjusted Mechromancer’s Sweetheart class mod to correctly increase team health.
Assassin’s “Slayer of Terramorphous” class mod no longer includes Gunzerker skill bonus.
(Mr. Torgue DLC) Torgue vending machines can now stock legendary weapons above level 48.
Chere-amie sniper rifle and transfusion grenades no longer cause audio distortion.
Assigned price to Anshin 'Evolution' shield so that players can sell it for money if desired.

You may not have noticed but the Steam Cloud service went down for a few hours this past Monday.   That meant your saved games, screenshots and other Steam public shares weren't available.  That annoyed me so I did a video on how to find and back up your saved games that you may find useful.  Find it at the link below.


Change is a comin' and this will be the last weekly midagegamer report video.  Honestly, after a year of weekly scheduled YouTube postings rarely breaking 50 views and YouTube getting increasingly hostile over monetizing them, I think I finally got the hint. 

Nobody really seems to like them no matter what's in them and they're a lot of work to put together especially when nobody's interested.

 I will do a monthly gaming news wrap-up video, however, but only so long as someone wants to watch it.  Of course I'll continue to post gaming how-to's and other items of interest on YouTube but only the monthly report will be on a schedule.

The weekly blog entries, on the other hand, have been steadily growing so the report will continue in a weekly print format on

I'd like to say thanks to those of you who regularly viewed the weekly video reports.  It's because of you that I'm even bothering with a monthly installment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to recover from a Steam cloud failure

This is just a short video on how to recover your saved game files from Valve's Steam client.  I show you the  locations of the saved game folders as well as how to set up the Steam Cloud.  Enjoy!

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