Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Battlefield 3 on a No-Kill server or Battlefield for the pacifist

Kumbaya my lord....Kumbaya...

Last weekend was a revelation for me which was unexpected considering I was playing a 4 year old Battlefield game.

They call it a No-Kill server which is just like it sounds.  You don't get to shoot anybody and if you do you get banned for an hour.

For most Battlefield games an hour ban effectively takes you out of the current match but not on a no-kill server.  Considering that victory in most Battlefield games is predicated on diminishing the enemies' remaining tickets via kills, removing that mechanic makes for long matches.

Shotglass and I joined one such server Saturday night.  From what we could tell the match had been going on for at least an hour but had only shown a loss of roughly a dozen or so tickets on either side.

It was a surreal experience for us and it took awhile to figure out how to score points without using violence.

Of course rule #1 is you can't kill anybody.  You can give them a bit of a kick by throwing a round or two their way if you need somebody to move but that's about it.  You score points via non-violent means such as capturing objectives, repairing vehicles and anything else that doesn't result in improving your K/D ratio.

To be honest, I thought it would be boring but it turned out to be anything but.  It was very much a game of restraint and cooperation as teams vying for an objective would literally stack up on either side tantalizingly close to what could be a spectacular kill streak if only you could just pull that trigger.

Those who couldn't restrain themselves found swift retribution and knowing this was Battlefield 3, being kicked from a server effectively nullifies any gains from your moment of weakness.  AKA:You won't get any stats for the kills.

This was a unique enough experience to capture on my TWITCH Channel so without further delay I present 2 hours of a Battlefield pillow-fight.

Peace out man!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Twitch Mania!

So I've been busy the past few days.  As you already know, I've set up a TWITCH channel and last night was my first real broadcast and in the process I learned a few things. 

One was that I was more motivated to play.  Strange how the possibility of an audience makes you want to perform...

Another was that even after all my adventures with Video drivers and DDU, Battlefield 4 can still BlueScreen my system.  Battlefield 3 didn't have the same issue...at least this time.

I'm currently using X-split gamecaster (free edition) for broadcasting which limits me to 720P streaming which should be enough.  However, I've noticed that even with a 720P stream and recording that any game resolution lower than that or non-widescreen will put bars on the sides of the video.  I was hoping it would stretch it out but no dice.

I'll probably try a few more streaming suites before I'm done but the goal is the same.  To get the  best stream quality I can without impacting the game.  So far X-split is doing a decent job.

I've got a few videos from last night for you to check out.  As always thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DudzFryd is on Twitch

Hey folks!

I finally set up a TWITCH channel at http://www.twitch.tv/dudzfryd

So keep an eye out when I go online.

I'm also saving broadcasts and uploading
them to my YouTube channel.

See you there!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

DDU: Vanquish your Display Driver Junk

I really don't have a defensible bias one way or the other when it comes to video cards.  I've had everything from just about everyone over the past 2 or so decades.

Clock Speeds, Video RAM, Cuda Cores, it's all pretty much the same these days.  Pick whatever works best for whatever you're doing.

Most people go the AMD route for Multiple Monitors ( as in 4 or more ) while the  Adrenalin junkies pick Nvidia.  

But that's not what this post is about.

No, it's not about Mantle or DirectX 12 or PhysX either.  It's about the crap that gets left behind when after you upgrade your video card.

These days driver installations are pretty easy.  Even Linux Distros give you an installer now.  While Nvidia drivers can be considerably less portly than their AMD counterparts there's still enough cruft that comes along for the ride even in a minimal install.

Therein lies the problem.

Lately, I've been having some issues with my production PC.  Games freezing up, crashing and even the dreaded blue screen of death. 

Something almost unheard of since Windows 7 came along has been a regular plague to me.  Especially when I'm playing Battlefield 3 and 4.

The stop errors are usually of the "1C" variety indicating that there's an unhappy driver somewhere.

But which one?  

Even the most hygienic of Windows systems develop some registry rot over time as you add and remove things.  

Which is the real core of the problem and dovetails nicely into my condemnation of AMD video drivers.

I've had my issues with AMD drivers before.  In fact I did an entire video on how to get around the fact that HDMI ports on AMD Video cards seem to think they're always the default audio output.  The net effect is silencing your PC until you either change the pecking order or disable them in your volume control panel.

This issue, however, is far more insidious. 

Coincidentally, it's also the primary reason that I truly despise AMD drivers on a cellular level.  

Their hardware is usually on par with Nvidia but their drivers are absolutely hideous in my view and now I have yet another arrow in my quiver of hate for them.  

Catalyst driver installs are sloppy, there's no denying it.  They leave crap everywhere on your system and claw their way into every nook and cranny like a virus.

And just like a virus, removing them isn't as easy as a simple uninstall from the control panel.  Even AMD has to admit it since they've been regularly releasing new versions of their own "Clean install utility." 

They're not really worried about Nvidia or Intel drivers,however, it's their own steaming pile of misery this thing goes after.

Except it doesn't...

So is the only solution a wipe and reload?  

Not so fast.

There's a little utility out there that's been around for quite awhile called DDU.  DDU stands for Display Driver Uninstaller and it does exactly what the name implies.  

This little wonder will seek out display driver files and registry entries and allow you to remove them...completely.

This is a boon to anyone who's switched from say an AMD to Nvidia graphics card.  

Or vice versa...Oh, I made a funny!  No, Nvidia drivers don't even come close to the mess made from a Catalyst installation.

But I digress...again.

The program is simple to use and automates the process with a few simple clicks.  Best of all it's harmless as it only goes after video drivers and nothing else.  Meaning if you uninstall all your video drivers with it,  the worst that will happen is your system using a default WDDM (Windows OEM) driver on reboot.

This was the only utility that actually removed all remnants of an AMD catalyst installation.  

The Video below gives a demonstration.  This is one tool that should be on every gamer's tool bag.

Check it out!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Syndicate: EA offers up fascism for free!

Here's the setup....

You're a CEO but not just any CEO.  Instead of cheesy photo ops and pandering to shareholders you command entire nations with an iron fist and a small army of deadly cyborgs.  It's a world born out of an Ayn Rand wet dream where brutal corporate fascism is considered "marketing."
Sound like fun?

It was back in 1993 and EA thinks it could be again.  To that end the latest "On the House" promotion for this quarter is the classic BullFrog game, Syndicate.

To play Syndicate is akin to playing the old board game Risk except but with small teams of Terminator-like cyborgs doing your dirty work.  You win by conquering other nations via missions that range from simple espionage to outright assassination.  Success brings great rewards with failure exacting an equal punishment. 

The game is considered a "Real Time Tactical Shooter"

Which in English means you direct a team of 4 cyborgs around a 2D map and directly control their actions while making sure you meet the mission's objectives.

The game's interface isn't very intuitive and has a bit of a learning curve but then most games of that era suffered the same affliction.  Remember, these were the days when DOS ruled the PC and a mouse was something that you set traps for unless you were a Mac user.

The graphics were astonishingly good for their time with this game being one of the first to utilize higher resolutions for actual gameplay (640x480) than was experienced in the menus.  Quite a feat considering most games of the time offered no better resolution than 320x200.

About a year or so ago I actually did a video series on classic PC games and dragged out my copy of Syndicate for one of them.  If you're on the fence over whether you want to sacrifice 60MB of storage space to try the game out I invite you to check out the video below. 

The game is currently free (normally $4.99) from EA's Origin service and comes with a preconfigured DOSBox shell for use on modern operating systems.