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I have a purchased a lot of videos on the instructional site Udemy for Unity and a few other tools. Their video series are usually pretty good, and I’ve got their site open on another tab so I might buy the course (for $10), watch it, and see exactly what I could do with the software. If I feel comfortable enough at the end that I could accomplish the kinds of things I’d want to accomplish, then $50 a month would be an investment. Considering there have been plenty of times when I’ve bought games at full price that I’ve never played long enough to get my money’s wort, I don’t think I can really turn my nose up at a sub price like that.
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I just wanted to start off with a shout-out to the Elgato Gaming Twitter account team. After yesterday’s post which featured the image of my custom Elite Dangerous button icons for the Stream Deck, I got a cold-Tweet from them.
I followed up with a snarky response about how I wish they actually worked, which kicked off a little back-and-forth which netted me a pre-release version of the next software update for the device to test to see if it would help my in-game detection issue (spoiler: not yet).
I’m always hesitant to pester official Twitter accounts for tech support, although I know that they are the first line in many defenses, PR as well as support. It was really nice of them to keep up the dialog and to offer a potential solution on the off chance it might help out, whereas some other companies might have just told me to sit on it until they officially released the next update and let them know if the issue still persists. Elgato are good folks.
War on Drugs
I’m pleased to announce that my local friends have mostly all picked up Ghost Recon: Wildlands. We had five people online last night, first with a friend who had played for quite some time and knew the ropes, and later with a friend who was going through the initial mission while we were doing things like stealing helicopters and raiding prisons.
Driving around with the wind whipping through my hair
As a long time MMO player who has played with others as well as alone (mostly alone) I don’t think I’ve ever really encountered a game that had such a different attraction between with and without that GR:W offers. Alone, the game is incredibly boring. Your AI companions are competent, but they do their own thing as they are supposed to, but not always the way you’d like it. But being competent means that eventually you’ll get the job done.
Since games in the Ghost Recon series are notable for their brutality relative to other shooters, incompetence is part of the equation, which is why playing this game with friends turns it into a whole different ball game. We had a chopper blow up with us in it the other day because someone in the passenger seat released a drone at 5000 ft that hit the rotors and took us out. Last night, we crashed a chopper into a hillside but walked away unharmed. People get run over, cars explode, and miniguns take out gas tanks. It’s not as over the top as, say, Just Cause, but it’s still pretty amusing sometimes, and you don’t get that when playing with bots that are good enough to complete the mission. When they die, it’s frustrating; when a real team member dies, it might be frustrating, but might also be hilarious. While the ideas are serious, and while everyone is trying to accomplish a goal to move the ball down the road, sometimes you have just just laugh at the bizzare and absurd things that happen when playing with others.
“Anyone see a chopper we can crash?”
Another QA Pass, Please
I have tried to start Endless Space 2 a total of five times now. Three times, I attempted to start a game but was interrupted by something external. Twice, I attempted to start a game but was blocked by irritating bugs.
Both bugs show up in the tutorials, which has three levels in ES2 – None, Basic, and Advanced. Having played many 4x games, and Endless Space back a few years ago, I kind of know what needs to be done, but it’s the how that requires a refresher course. I opted to try the tutorials on both Basic and Advanced level, and each had an issue. In Advanced, the game asked me to “buy out” the research using Influence…without actually giving me any influence to buy with. In Basic, the game asked me to “buy out” my build queue…without providing a button to do so, or maybe without illustrating where that button is located (it ain’t where you’d think it should be, I can tell you that).
The research thing is legit; there’s a thread on the Steam forums about it. The build queue thing might be me being dense, but the tutorial — the aspect of the game that’s supposed to hold your hand and lead you to where you need to be — dropped the ball in pointing out the button’s location if the button wasn’t where it logically should have been.
Tutorials are optional, and I could make a go of it without either level but while a lot of stuff looks familiar, I’m rusty enough to require a refresher. Considering I sent my colony ship off exploring and couldn’t figure out how to get it to turn around and return to the system I actually wanted to colonize, I think I’m needing some hand-holding.
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Now that our deck has been completed, we’re spending more time outside than in. For me, this is a blessing and a curse; I am not made for the out-of-doors, but I’ve also not really been “feelin’ it” when I sit down to play something. I need to get back to the PSVR games I have, and also the non-VR PS games I have (including the upcoming Marvel Heroes translation for the PlayStation).
Saturday was spent mostly doing yard work. I have to dismantle the old stairs leading up to the original deck, so I did a bit of that. We also carved out a small garden section at the foot of the new deck stairs, so we had to get plants and mulch for that. I’m never more reminded of my housebound status than when I try and do intense yard work, and this was one of those cases.
Sunday we spent at the in-laws, celebrating a belated Mother’s Day because scheduling conflicts prevented us from doing so on the actual day. There’s really not a lot more to say about that.
Honestly, this is going to be the last dedicated post on the subject you’ll get from me. I am now officially defeated by the Elgato Stream Deck.
A lot of folks on /r/elgatogaming and elsewhere have said that they’ve been using the ‘Deck in conjunction with a utility called Auto Hotkey. This app is designed to allow users to write scripts that listen for special key combinations, which can then trigger actions such as adjusting your OS volume or taking screenshots and posting them to Dropbox. Because AHK works at a level which allows it to interact with a whole range of applications (when running as Admin), the plan is that Stream Deck can send these scripted hotkeys into the aether where they are picked up by AHK, which can then do what Stream Deck cannot: send keys to the focused apps.
As a developer by day, I’m open to the nuances of whatever scripting language you want to use, and AHK isn’t all that complex. I created a script which checks for Elite Dangerous and if it’s running, execute whatever key combo was sent. I managed to translate a chord into the game command to turn on my ship’s headlights, and that works…but nothing else does. The lights work 100% of the time, but everything else works anywhere between 0% and 2% of the time. That 2% is something that I’d seen people talking about: how the ‘Deck doesn’t always send commands on the first, second, or even 10th press of the button, but might consider doing so somewhere down the line. I had entertained the idea that my script was bad, but I’d tried several variations on the theme and recevied the same non-results every single time.
I made cool keys and everything! 🙁
Right now, I’ve given up on trying to make this thing do what I want it to do. Obviously, all of the OBS stuff works because that has a dedicated pipeline to speak through. I can launch apps like Elite Dangerous and its utilities, and I did manage to wire up the Windows Game Bar commands which is a good thing because it has a screenshot function that works on anything you tell it is “a game”. I also managed to get it to work with Discord so I can mute and deafen audio in the voice channels, although I’d love direct Discord integration so I could switch servers and even rooms using the ‘Deck. I also have buttons that control my OS volume, but that’s about all. Really, the screenshot, Discord, and OS volume buttons are the only regular commands this thing is going to send, making it a very expensive paperweight.
I hope Elgato opts to make it more of a universal app that does what Logitech and Razer, et al., can do, although given that their wheelhouse is dedicated to streaming, I don’t know if it’s in their interests to update it to do more than what little it’s meant to do: control your live stream.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
As of right now (May 22, 2017), Humble Bundle has Ghost Recon: Wildlands on sale for 20% off. I saw this deal and sent it out to friends who have been happily subsisting on The Division Underground missions for the past several months.
I received GR:W for free with my video card, and aside from using it to put the card through its paces, I’ve not played it much. It’s not a soloist game, despite having a squad of NPC soldiers backing you up. GR differs from The Division in that GR games tend to be way less forgiving when you’re getting shot. When you finally make it to cover, then, the system is calling in wave after wave of reinforcements.
Teabagging Unidad corpses
I played it last night with my brother, and Mindstrike, and we learned a few things. First, you die quickly and often. Second, if you’re attacking a cartel-held property, kill everyone quickly or else you’ll be there forever and will probably find yourself back at point one. Third, there’s no coherent line-of-sight between where you start and where you need to go. We tried to figure out our next step in the narrative but ended up picking some of the worst random locations for new players to take on.
Still, it was fun. More fun with real people. I’m hoping more people snag the game before the sale ends, because I burnt out on The Division a long time ago, and would like to play something with people again.
This is my role in the team.
Endless Space 2
Endless Space is one of my favorite 4x games. Like all of them, however, I have never actually completed a scenario. Still, it served as inspiration for several features of my ill-fated “Project Universe” because I really like the way Amplitude approached the game.
Wandering through the stacks at Steam storefront, I literally stumbled across Endless Space 2. I think I knew this was A Thing, but like many things these days it fell off my radar.
I watched the videos on the store page and decided that ES2 was a solid follow up game. It seems that Amplitude has included a lot of cool new features, not the least of which are the addition of probes instead of scouts, a need to to research FTL technology to get beyond your meager local neighborhood, and a galactic “auction house” which allows you to buy and sell technology and ships for Dust, the game’s mysteriously magical currency.
I haven’t yet fired it up, but I’m looking forward to it. Amplitude is really an under-the-radar strategy developer (Endless Space, Dungeon of the Endless, Endless Legend, and other Endless universe games) that does consistently good work that I enjoy.
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