Recently I decided I was going to give PC gaming a real try.  I am not incredibly impressed with the latest console offering so I figure I could build myself a new gaming PC and be able to experience great games like Elite: Dangerous, Kerbal Space Program and Minecraft.  Plus Batman: Arkham Knight is not coming out for XBOX 360 and I love the Arkham series so…   Anywho, this is my random thoughts on building a new gaming PC.

CPU:  The brain of the system.  The CPU for any gaming PC can’t be a slouch since gaming is one of the most intensive work your CPU will have to do.  Software companies are utilizing 4 core technology and are even starting to utilize the CPUs that have more cores, so the CPU can’t be a slouch.  But, gaming is not the MOST intensive work your CPU will do, evidently that title goes to Rendering, 3d Computer Models and video editing.  Which I dabble in but nothing crazy.  So I was able to save a little money here and go with a Intel Core i5 instead of a Intel Core i7.

For research I read a lot of advise, asked my friends and watched a lot of youtube videos, a lot of them.  My friends said don’t do AMD(the other CPU manufacturer) there stuff isn’t as good as Intel.  But all the youtube videos and internet advise suggested going AMD for Entry Level or Mid-Range builds like mine.  I went with the Core i5 and so far I am happy with it.  I could of saved a 150 bucks if I went AMD but at the same time I didn’t want to waste money upgrading a Motherboard and CPU if I wasn’t happy with the AMD gaming computer.  And I still want to build an AMD system just to see how they perform.  But I will have to wait a while on that.

Motherboard:  If the CPU is the brain then this would be the nervous system.  Honestly the research I did really stress about Motherboards.  They do what they do.  You look for the features you want.  Read reviews and look for certain manufacturers.  Beyond that I picked around my price range and there you go.

 RAM: If the CPU is the brain then RAM would be your short term memory.  RAM makes a difference on system performance.  Short answer more RAM is never a bad thing.  But a few things to remember your motherboard can only use a certain amount of RAM the second is once you get past a certain amount of RAM you aren’t going to notice.  Most games require 4 gigs now a days and from what I read and what I am told much beyond that is not needed.

Video Card:  I wish I had a good analogy but the best I can come with is this would be your system glasses.  A gaming computer needs a good video card otherwise you should just stick with Facebook games or a console.  Video cards are difficult to nail down what is good and what is not.  My friends say Nvidia all the way, online seems to float towards AMD.  But the abridged version set a price point, read reviews, look up benchmarks, and go with the most bang for the buck.

Hard Drive:  Back to easy analogies.  This is your computers long term memory.  Hard drives are fairly easy these days you pick how much you want and type and run with it.  With 1 Terrabyte drives being about 50 bucks this made my decision easy.  But I do have to say something to consider is SSD or solid state drives.  SSD’s are quick like RAM quick.  SSD’s will improve your system’s performance and give you quicker loading times on games.  But they are still pricey.

Power Supply:  The heart of your system.  The power supply regulates the electricity flowing to your system if it goes bad you can fry your system quick.  That being said I don’t have a lot of advise watch youtube video and read articles.  I went with a friends suggestion.

Case: The way your computer looks to the outside world.  Here I have some decent advise.  Go with what looks good to you and has good air flow.  Beyond that price and features are what to look for.

 Operating System:  There are several good options here.  I went with Windows 7 because that is what I had on my hard drive already.  However, other things to consider is Ubuntu Linux and SteamOS which are both free.  Ubuntu has a very good user interface and more and more games are coming out on Linux software.  SteamOS is also linux based but from the people who bring you Steam, a digital video game distribution site, basically iTunes for video games(As a quick aside, Steam is a must for a PC gamer, they run awesome sales and have a very large client base).  I don’t have much experience with SteamOS so I have nothing to give you.

Optical Drive:  What was essential for PC gaming may now be not needed now at all.  Most of the games you play now a days can be downloaded and installed.  I included one in my system mainly because I had one handy but they are not needed after installing your operating system.

 Reflections:  PC gaming is fun but also a money pit the more I play the more I want to buy.  A better video card, more RAM, a better chair, a SSD and so on.  But on the flip side you won’t have to drop 500 dollars every six years when a new console comes out because you have been spending that money through out those years on your computer.

I enjoyed putting my PC together and re familiarizing myself with building computers.  I updated a lot of my knowledge that was outdated (from late 1990’s).

Thanks for reading.

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Being a Geek

Posted: August 5, 2013 in Misc.

Being a Geek

Recently Wil Wheaton has posted links oh his blog (which I read on a regular basis and enjoy) and talked about what being a geek is. One of the links is of female geeks not getting accepted by their male geek counter parts. The other is the theory that being a geek is passionately loving something and diving fully into it. Whether it is Tabletop, books, movies, sports or even bird watching being passionate about something makes you a geek and I don’t 100% agree with that but first the lady geek problem.

Seriously I spent roughly 16 years of being in the dark about the world of geeks. The only link I had was my fondness for video games. Once I found that there are even cooler and more immersive games that I could play I was hooked. I dived into the geek world. I found Role Playing, Trading Card Games, Red Dwarf, Anime and Swords. When I moved out on my own and really was looking for a girl to join me on this adventure. I looked for geek girls and found that they aren’t in abundance.  Now 10 years later I am married to a fellow geek and have several female geek friends. But it infuriates me that guy geeks would straight say girl geeks aren’t true geeks. They are fakers and only there to try to find guys or only there to dress up. Let the ladies be I say. If they are true geeks then they will join our ranks and add to the fun and awesomeness of being a geek. If they aren’t true geeks then they will go back to being what they were before.

Which brings back to what is a geek.  Mr. Wil Wheaton says a geek is someone who is incredibly passionate towards certain subjects. But I have to disagree because that means everyone is a geek. A huge fan of the Green Bay Packers who goes to every game, wears a cheese hat and can tell you how many Super Bowls the Packers have won and all the data on the team past or present would be considered under Mr. Weaton’s definition a geek and I don’t agree. I went through a lot of crap for being a geek. I still get picked on and made fun of on a regular basis for liking the things I like. Because the things I like are not considered mainstream. I really don’t believe a sports fan and RPG nut are both geeks. And I will admit there is a little elitism in there as well but from my point of view the non mainstream people, the people who got picked on, the people who took crap for being different, the people who would rather read the hobbit then spend time at the gym, the people who played Magic during high school dances opposed to actually dancing these are the people who are geeks. These people went through a sort of initiation process listening to everyone telling them that video games are for kids, fantasy novels are stupid and Magic is a money waster and they kept doing the things they love. Those people are geeks. If I left any geek out I apologize. I don’t mean to single out sports fans but just the one I am more familiar with. Don’t get me wrong I think it awesome to be a fan of something but point is lets not use geek as a catch word for being passionate about something.

d20Pro

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

This weekend I got to use d20Pro for two different game and watch it be used for another.  I have had a mild interest in Virtual Table Tops for a couple of years now.  Although initially I wanted to use them on table size touch screens.  Unfortunately for me and my gaming group I do not have the funds to create such cool toys.  However the setup I was using this weekend was extremely good, efficient and well within my price range.

For those of you who don’t know d20Pro is a Virtual Table Top, a digital game table, a digital management system and a great visual tool for Role Playing games.  D20Pro is built to be used only for d20 games but the games I was running this weekend were not d20.

I was worried that the software would make the game feel to video game like but I was extremely wrong.  If anything it help to immerse you more into the game.

My experience this weekend was in 3 different games a game my friend who owned the software ran and 2 games I ran.  I was not playing in the first game and was just observing but I actually kinda liked watching the action on his 42” screen and also being able to hear what the players were saying to the DM.  He also had 2 remote players playing as well and you could not notice a hiccup in the gameplay and the main screen was being ran by a Netbook with d20Pro and handling 2 Skype calls which I found pretty impressive.

I ran two games with the software the first was the new and award wining game Marvel Heroic Roleplaying a fun super heroes game system by Margaret Weiss Productions.  As I said before d20Pro doesn’t handle non d20 game statistics but I was able to plop down effects and make notes for my players to see and found the combat quite enjoyable.  The other cool thing was I had an hour to load all the character images and build a map for the combat and I was able to do this with time to spare.  For those of you interested we ran 1 encounter and I chose the scene in the movie where Sabertooth flips over Wolverine’s truck in Canada and Cyclops and Storm show up out of no where to save them.  The scene was of coursed changed a little to have the additional players and more challenging battle.  But everybody had a great time.  Keep in mind I had been using the software for about 2 hours by the end of the game and the group did not notice a hiccup at all.

The second game I ran was the still in Beta Star Wars Edge of the Empire.  This system is again not d20 put I was able to use some of the features of the program no manage hit points and movement.  Again the software ran beautifully even handling space combat with some finagling of course.

Overall I am very impressed with the software and in serious consideration of picking it up.

Edge of the Empire my thoughts

Posted: October 25, 2012 in RPG

Let me start by saying I am pretty big Star Wars fan.  When I say this I don’t mean I have memorized all the names of every single character, I haven’t had long debates on who shot first and I don’t get mad at George Lucas every time someone brings up the newer Trilogies.  What I mean by being a huge fan is I have watched all the movies, read a majority of the novels and have played several games in all published versions of the Star Wars license, this includes Star Wars d6, Star Wars d20 and Star Wars revised d20 and Star Wars Saga Edition.  When I was at Gen Con I bought the newest Star Wars game, Edge of the Empire, without reading a single review, without even looking in the book.  Now I am not saying I am proud of any of these “achievements”. I am just simply trying to establish my background.  Since I bought the Beta I have been reading the Forums and listening to my gamers feedback and I wanted to put my two cents in writing.  Here is a list of some of the complaints and my thoughts on them with Edge of the Empire.

Funky Dice – I can’t use my normal dice for this game

I can’t say much about this one at first, I was very hesitant and even groaned when I saw that it used custom dice.  All I can say is play it.  After playing with the custom dice I kind of wish more game would do it.

 

Character Creation – not enough starting credits

The common complaint is I can’t afford a good blaster or I don’t have enough money for gear.  I should be able to start the game with the gear I need to make my character be able to fill his role.

Well first off remember the name of the game Edge of the Empire, meaning Fringers, meaning hanging out on the Outer Rim.  Settlements are small, life is hard and not everybody has wads of cash.  Usually you trade to get commodities in this type of setting and like you said blasters are expensive someone is less likely to trade a blaster then say a commlink or heck even a datapad.  In addition to this I think the low credit amount adds to the game it gives the characters another goal something to look toward.  On top of everything Slugthrowers are dirt cheap, I know they don’t have a Star Wars “feel” but you buy one of those you have a decent amount of money left and you play 3 or 4 games and take a blaster pistol off a dead adversary seems pretty easy to me.

Characteristics – you can’t change them after character creation unless you take a talent tree to the end

This one is not as common amongst my players as it is on the Forums.

I think this stems from d20 players expecting an ability boost every 4 levels.  Again in the setting more things are based on skill opposed to pure ability.  I really think this is just power gamers wanting to find the win button for this RPG.

 Talent Trees – Why do I have to take a certain talent before I can take the talent I want

I kinda agree with this one however in defense on the way it is currently is the same way MMORPG’s have being doing it for years and I rarely here complaints about them.

The Force – I should be able to do more with the Force

This usually comes from a couple of different sources.  The first source is the SAGA players, the people who at 1st level build a Jedi that can rival Yoda.

The second group is power gamers again trying to find the win button and the third is people without patience.

Let get this clear, YOU ARE NOT YODA, DARTH VADER, MACE WINDU, etc.  You are Luke Skywalker at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back, you are hanging upside down in an ice cave, a Wampa is about to have you for dinner and you have to try with all your might for your lightsaber to fly out of the snow and into your hand but all it does is wiggle a little.

Things that I really like

Obligation

The Obligation mechanic is a great addition.  It allows the players and GM to have an instant hook for adventures and allows in game bonuses for the Obligation.

Critical Hit chart

The critical hit chart is pretty neat and it shows when your character has been really hit by a weapon.  As an added bonus the critical hit stays on your character until it is healed even if the effect has gone away.

Destiny Pool

One of the problems I have heard about Star Wars Roleplaying game is that most of them handle Light Side and Dark Side points wonky.  The Destiny pool is great in showing the back and fourth of the Light Side and Dark Side.  If the GM spends a Dark Side point then the Group gets a Light Side point and vica versa.

Fantasy Flight Updates

Fantasy Flight has been on the ball with updates.  Every week on Wednesday they release a new update and they haven’t failed yet.  It shows that they are invested in this game.

 

Things that bug me

Damage and Healing

I understand having your heroes able to live after a fight but the damage seems to be healed relatively easy with the use of Stimpacks (which are dirt cheap).  Unless the character gets a critical hit against him.

WHERE ARE MY DICE

You have released a new game that uses custom dice why aren’t they available for sell yet?

If you like Star Wars and are tired of the seriously cheesed out games that Saga Edition provides or you want a new system that is still supported unlike d6 then seriously look into Edge of the Empire.  I am loving it.

This is a character I wrote up using the Random Character Generator for the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game.  The best part is the fact that the game I played as him in was maybe 20 minutes long and we accidently released Carnage, Venoms psychotic son.  OOPs!

Enjoy.

Jeff Sanders had graduated from MIT with several master degrees in the Technology field so it was no surprise when Oscorp hired him the day of his graduation.  He worked for 5 years at Oscorp developing new tech for the company. As he worked there and his clearance got higher and higher Jeff started finding out  more and more about Oscorp projects that were well beyond what could be considered ethical science.  One such project was an aerosol when sprayed into the subjects room would make the subject body mass increase 10 fold and eventually rupture tissue killing the patient.  Jeff decided he wasn’t going to work for a company that used science unethically.  He took his newest project a pair of bracelets that created a field of invisibility.  He turned in his two week notice.  Two months later he snuck into one of the bio labs where they were performing experiments on convicts 95% of them did not survive the process.  He went to the storage tanks and turned off the pressure relief valve thinking the the pressure will gradually blow the tanks and destroy the lab.  The tanks blew sooner than he had anticipated, flinging him forward the wall.  He woke a few minutes later warning bells blaring and the sound of running feet approaching.  He saw the first response teams come in and they didn’t seem to see him.  He quietly snuck out the door of the lab.  The next morning he woke up feeling “different”.  He only had a few hours sleep but he felt like he had slept 8.  He decided to lay out on the roof of his apartment building and read a book.  He got really engrossed in the book and read it all the way through.  When he finally finished the book he realized he had been out in the sun for 8 hours.  His body was just as white as it usually was.  However he was a little thirsty and his lemonade glass had been empty for several hours.  As he thought about what he wanted to drink he got his glass and started heading to the roof door when it finally hit him raspberry iced tea would be perfect as he had the thought his book melted out of his hands into his glass.  He looked at the glass the book had some how been turned into raspberry iced tea.  Then Jeff started putting things together the blast from the lab the invisibility field bracelets.  Somehow the chemicals in the tank had mixed with the invisibility field and altered his DNA he had been given super powers.  Jeff quickly started doing more test realizing some of the things he had thought was weird today.  First off he hadn’t eaten all day but yet he felt great.  He had been out in the sun for over 8 hours and it didn’t give him a bad burn like it should have.  The final one though was the raspberry iced tea.  Jeff quickly ran downstairs to his apartment.  He started experimenting.  First it was seeing what he could turn into raspberry iced tea, then he examined what he could change into what.  He discovered that he can change anything into anything else.  Book to tea, water to wine, toaster to loaf of bread it was amazing.  He quickly learned what his new abilities were he could transmutate objects, he had resistance to Cosmic energy, and had increased stamina.  Combine that with the invisibility and a focused beam blaster from the bracelets and Jeff learned he could help out, heck he could become a super hero.

Aside  —  Posted: October 22, 2012 in Books, RPG
Tags: , ,

  I have made it a quarter through Edge of the Empire the new Star Wars Roleplaying game by Fantasy Flight Games.  At first I experienced buyer remorse (I didn’t even open the book before I bought and on top of that it is a Beta version of the game which is planned to be released next year) but after I have spent some time reading through this book I am really liking what Fantasy Flight is doing.  This is by no means a end all be all review or a crack on any other versions of Star Wars Roleplaying out there.  This is just a listing of things I have found interesting.

First off the big one, Funny Dice

Edge of the Empire uses custom dice like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay does.  The book comes with a sticker sheet to modify your existing dice.  There is also a table you can consult if you just want to stick to your normal dice.  Now that I have read through the book I find it interesting to use the custom dice and it looks like fun.  Because lets face it most of us love to buy dice and the numbers usually don’t mean squat anyway.  Anyone who is hung up on this one thing I say give it a shot and see what you think.

 Dice Pools

The way they currently have Dice Pools is interesting.  The Active player is the only one who rolls dice.  Even on opposed checks.  Example: On Static Checks the Active player adds what is called difficulty die to dice pool based on the difficulty set by the GM.  On Opposed checks the Active player adds difficulty die and challenge die depending on the opposing NPC’s chararistics and skills.

 Obligations

A really interesting mechanic.  Each PC selects an obligation, they owe a debt, they have a bounty on there head or something of that nature.  Then the GM will decide how much of an impact that has on the PC.  A PC can also increase the impact the Obligation it has on him to receive more starting XP.  Where this becomes important is at the start of every game session the GM will roll on the obligation chart.  If the groups total obligation is less then the die roll then the group is stressed about their situation and suffer penalties for the rest of the game session.  Which can be handy to throw a little more roleplay in there.  Like the collector sending a message with pay now or I am placing a bounty on your head or the group hears rumors that a bounty hunter has been tracking them.  Also the person whose number got rolled takes double the penalty because he is the one under the most stress.  Overall a really interesting idea and mechanic and I can’t wait to see it in use.

Destiny Points

They make a come back from Saga Edition.  At the Beginning of the Session the GM will as the Force Users to roll a force die and the GM will tally the number of Light Side Points and Dark Side Points.  As the Game Progresses the Players can use Lights Side Points but when they do it increases the Dark Side pool and the GM can use Dark Side points but when the GM does it increase the Light Side pool.  Here again a interesting idea.

Like I said I have not read through the book nor have I played in a game but the more time I spend reading it the more I am liking it.

My Post Gen Con Post 2012 Edition

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Misc., RPG

Another Gen Con has come and gone.  This year was my 5th Gen Con.  However it was the first year that I had 14 friends with me.  I had some good experiences and some bad.  Overall I still had my best four days of gaming.   Here is a summary of stuff I did.

 Wednesday

My wife and I decided to go up Wednesday we used a bus to get to Indy which was pretty fun and will consider doing that again.  We arrived at the Mariott around 11:30 and had all afternoon to goof off till the rest of the group showed up.  We soaked in the Hot Tub, walked around the mall and walked around the convention center.  People finally arrived around 7:30 and we had California Pizza kitchen then we went back to the hotel and we played Magic till 1ish.

Thursday

Walked around the exhibit hall I tried out the Least I Could Do card game which was pretty cool.  Then it was off to Zombies Corporate Inc.  Overall I enjoyed the game but some of the others didn’t.  Then back to the exhibit hall.  We had dinner at Buca Di Peppo’s that evening they have a circular room that was perfect for our larger group.  After dinner we headed over to our Artimis game.  For those of you who don’t know Artimis is Starship Bridge Simulator using 6 Networked computers.  The game was pretty fun but the time went by way too fast.

Friday

More walking around the exhibit hall played Telestrations and Big Bang Theory the card game.  Telestrations was pretty fun as a party game and Big Bang Theory would be a lot better if it wasn’t a clone of Apples to Apples.  At 2pm we had a game of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying the Watcher wasn’t as enthusiastic as he could be but other than that the game was fun and I look forward to playing with someone who is more animated.  Then it was off to Dinner at Rock Bottom which didn’t impress us as much as it did last year but was still good.  Then back to the hotel for gaming in the lobby.

 Saturday

We had a mission to find a book for my Brother in Law so Brandon Sanderson could sign it.  We weren’t as successful as we would of liked but we did find a few things.  While we were looking around I found out that Fantasy Flight was finally releasing some Star Wars Roleplaying, I bought the book with out even checking out the system.  Fantasy Flight is usually a good company and I love Star Wars so I thought why not.  There are certainly things that raise my eyebrow but over all the game intrigues me. Then I was off to Star Wars RPG d6 ran by Sparks.  The game went pretty good actually one of the best game I have ever had at a Con.  Dinner at Hard Rock then off to watch after a 13 year old while everyone else went to the Masquerade ball (in my opinion I got the better end of the deal).

 Sunday

The last day of the Con is always the weirdest you are tired from the last 3 days, you are kinda ready to go home, people nerves are frayed for dealing with thousands of gamers but you don’t want the gaming awesomeness to end.  We spent more time checking out the exhibit hall played a couple more demo games.  Station Master which was a great quick game with interesting strategy potential and 3v3 which the wife really liked.

A few lessons learned or ideas for next year

Exhibit Hall

My favorite part about Gen Con is walking around the exhibit hall buying stuff and trying new games.  I feel like I really didn’t get as much time to do that this year.  So I think next year I am not going to schedule any events during exhibit hall hours.  Unless there is a cool seminar that really tempts me.

Time to De Geek

I know this sounds weird but I think next year I am going to take an hour or so and find a nice corner of the con to chill and collect my thoughts it really felt like I was running from place to place this year without break.

Let someone else pay for the hotel

I stressed about money all weekend.  I was worried that Discover would screw up and say nope you don’t have enough or price at restaurants would skyrocket or something like that.  I think next year I will just pay someone my share of the hotel early and that way they can pay and I don’t worry about it.

Well that was Gen Con for me.