Humble Monthly Levels Up, Becomes Humble Choice

I’ve been subscribed to the Humble Monthly plan since February 2017. I went and checked. A friend had been subscribed even longer than that, so I was a bit more aware of what was coming in the packs than I might otherwise have been. So when I experienced having bought Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen (fantastic game, btw) a couple of months before it turned up in the December 2016 bundle… And again with the Vermintide DLC that turned up in the January 2017 bundle, I’d at last had enough and subscribed.

Over that time the formula hasn’t really changed too significantly. There is an early reveal of one or more titles to act as the hook for the coming month, which you gain access to the moment you pay. Then around the 5th of each month it’s a mini-Christmas time with 5-7ish additional titles being blasted your way.

The perceived quality or value of each bundle is admittedly all over the place, especially for those with an already large library of games. There have absolutely been months where I’ve already owned everything of interest already.

But at the other end of the spectrum there have been truly spectacular months. The headliners for November for example are already amazing. It almost doesn’t matter what else there is — this is a fantastic bundle for me personally.

And heck, even in the months I personally didn’t get much out of it — there is almost always something to gift to a friend, and that brings a certain joy of its own.

But- things are a changin’!

Humble Choice (and the ‘Classic’ Plan)

Full credit to Krikket for me even being aware of this — I had the email, but likely would have passed right on by without really looking if not for her post. And it’s kind of a big deal!

Biggest change is that the hidden ‘mystery’ element will be removed. You’ll see a range of games from which to personalise a choice each month. We therefore exchange the Christmas effect for more certainty that you’ll like everything you get. In my view? A good trade.

What I don’t know yet is how many games each month will be available to choose from. At least 10, I suppose, since that is how many the Classic tier plan will have access to.

Existing subscribers before the switch to Humble Choice occurs (almost certainly in December, given the 2019 timeline and November headliners already being announced) will be entitled to the Classic plan for so long as they remain a subscriber.

If you cancel as opposed to just pausing the service, (not something I was aware you could even do before Krikket’s post) then you will not be able to get back to the Classic plan. Nor will this plan be sold to customers beyond the switch over.

And that is where the controversy kicks in…

Because of course some people are angry.

If you approach the Humble Monthly subscription like me — in considering it more or less a permanent fixture, like Netflix or your Internet service — then this is essentially only upside, and a good thing.

But if you were someone who previously preferred to just jump in and out when the headliners caught your eye, this is a fairly significant change for the worse.

You’re being asked to commit to retain the benefit of the grandfathered ‘Classic’ plan over the longer term. Cancelling will drop you out into the inferior (and costlier) plans for life. But as noted, you can pause your subscription without losing your benefits.

Still — I can see why those who liked to dip in and out are annoyed. It’s certainly far less convenient to do that under this new model.

Where you personally land on it is going to depend largely on how you view the subscription. But if the ‘mystery’ element has held you back from subscribing in the past, and with choice you might be interested — jump in now.

The bottom of the Humble Choice Classic page notes that this change is coming in 2019. With the November headliners already announced under the current model my suspicion is that as soon as this bundle finalises in 12 days (from when this publishes) we’ll see a conversion to the new model. And if you haven’t subscribed by then, the Classic option will be gone. (Which, let’s be clear — is entirely playing into the hands of this move. But hey… The value is at least there to back it up. ;))

If you would like to subscribe, the normal link is here.

But if you’re so inclined, there is also my referral link. If you use that one instead of the normal link, $12 NZD is added to my Humble store wallet.

Corporate Responsibility for Individual’s Views

It was quite the day for discussion in the Blaugust discord. Favourite position- oh, for the task bar, I mean — to the retroactive banning of the American University Hearthstone team, around to discussion about a rather unsavoury group of people with a game. Oh and corporate responsibility (or the lack thereof) for the beliefs of those in their employ.

It’s those last two I want to focus on here. We can argue about best position some other time. (It’s bottom. Definitely bottom.)

Rambling Redshirt talked to the difference in holding a company to account for the views they — or their actions — express, vs. the beliefs of the individuals that make up the company. There was an acknowledgement that Activision-Blizzard (or a company of any size, really) is going to have racists. Transphobics. Trump supporters.

Holding a company as a whole accountable for the private beliefs of a select few individuals was seen as unreasonable.

To a point — I think this is true. When you’re talking about a company of hundreds or even thousands of people, not even the best of screening processes will catch everyone with values that you may not wish to support.

But…

  1. What about when the previously perhaps ‘private’ view of an individual becomes public? Does the company hold responsibility to react?
  2. What about when, proportionally, it becomes clear that a large number of individuals from a company holds values incompatible with- no, abhorrent to, your own?

On the first point I am more inclined to take each case on its merits. There have been cases where I wish action was taken. (And in the Israel Folau case, it even was!) On the other hand, there have certainly been cases of overreaction.

Just recently the Wellington bus company ran a series of ads for a driver recruitment campaign wherein they had existing drivers talk about why they joined. One driver had racist tweets dug up and presented to the company. Over $20k worth of advertising was pulled and the man was fired.

Pulling the ads — fair. At surface level — also fair to fire. Except that the tweets were old, years old, and already been repented before any of this came about. The man in question had already stated his immense regret and shame at ever having held such views.

That being the case I think it is a raw deal to be fired. A little forgiveness might have been in order.

The second case is far more problematic. At best it is indicative of a corporate culture that just doesn’t give a shit.

But at what threshold does it ‘matter’? What is the proportion where it becomes clear you shouldn’t support the company in question any more?

Well — I suppose the good news is you probably won’t need to wrestle with this one too long before they do or say something representative of their company or group to make it clear.

There was another discussion today. This one on a particular game that I have no desire to name. It isn’t one from a big AAA developer this time, quite the opposite as it’s the work of a small indie group.

The problems started with the girlfriend of the lead developer. Not even a direct member of the team! She expressed a range of transphobic views aligned to the ‘TERF’ philosophy, something I only personally learned about today despite the term apparently existing since 2008. It stands for ‘Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist’. Essentially a bastion of the early era feminists beliefs that trans women were not women at all.

Perhaps making this worse is that the woman in question espousing this hate is herself gay. Someone who should full well understand the pain caused by such exclusionary and intolerant hate.

Publicly — her partner (the lead developer) neither condemned nor supported these views.

But then the leaks started occurring from a ‘secret’ channel on the developer’s Discord, wherein mocking the transgender among their following happened repeatedly. That’s terrible enough — but where it turns from the terrible to the actively sick is the discount they applied to the title in response.

The game was set to 35% off, and the game/soundtrack bundle to 41%. Now there is some room to choose to believe this is coincidence. Particularly where the bundle is concerned as apparently developers don’t set the bundle rate specifically. Whether it was intentional or not though — it was certainly leaned into with later comments.

35% is the suicide attempt rate for high school aged transgender people across the U.S.
This jumps to 41% when considering transgendered adults across the U.S.

This saw positive reviews of like-minded folk with things like:

  • “41% off? You’d have to be suicidal not to buy!”
  • “41% is nice, but maybe one day it’ll be 90% or even 100%.”

It’s fucking disgusting. And you know what just adds another layer of insult to this?

The game was protected by Steam’s ‘off-topic’ review bombing policy. There is a period of around 10-days where people expressing their views — be they of disgust or support — were written off as unimportant. Steam being the sole arbiter and gatekeeper of what is and isn’t relevant to someone’s purchasing decision was always my fear with their policy and this example certainly seems to realise that fear.

This game came up in the context of someone in the community struggling with whether or not to review it — and if they did, whether these factors should be called out.

Throughout the day I attempted to take a light touch approach to the advice given here. But that isn’t sitting right with me now, I don’t think it’s enough.

So instead I’ll change tack and plead — please don’t cover this as planned. Don’t give them any more oxygen than they already have. Reviewing the game even with a decision to make a note of this isn’t enough, as it has become clear that there are those willing to purchase it not despite of — but because of these views.

Don’t allow yourself to become a participant in that.

Flight Simulator 2020 Delayed Hype

Some of my earliest PC memories revolve around Flight Simulator 5.0. I didn’t believe in manuals at the time, so my time learning the game initially consisted of hitting all the buttons across the keyboard working out which ones appeared to change anything.

The very first time I managed to take off in a Cessna from the default airport (I think in New York?), do a loop around the air field and land again with all my virtual parts intact came with a huge sense of appreciation.

I never really followed the flight simulator genre much beyond that. I jumped into some of the combat ‘sims’ (although these were typically more arcade than anything else), and I did take a punt some 13 years later with Flight Simulator X.

But it was a short lived attempt as my PC at the time didn’t really handle it so well.

I’m now wondering whether Flight Simulator 2020 might put my computer — especially in context of the new super ultrawide — in a similar position. I missed the announcement from this year’s E3 entirely. Had I not, I might have felt a bit differently about it all.

Just need to find my jaw… I dropped it around here somewhere…

It looks simply amazing, and the technical wizardry and actual degree of simulation going on is even more mind-blowing. Not least of which is the fact it draws upon the over 2 petabytes of real world mapping data and imagery from Google Earth, wait- no. Bing?! I had no idea they were also capturing such information.

Anywho. It allows for a ridiculous degree of accuracy, down to the centimetre level! Weather and wind maps will be similarly used.

There will be some procedural generation too to render the necessary definition for the flora and fauna of the world, just… It really all goes to show how far we’ve come in our lifetime.

I can’t wait to give it a spin on this screen, hopefully without needing to upgrade anything else. Although… I don’t currently have any form of joystick. So… Perhaps it will be time to invest in one of those. I could also use it for Elite: Dangerous and — if it ever actually comes out in a worthwhile form — Star Citizen, after all! :D

Cognitive Dissonance

There is a psychological bias that we as humans have when it comes to attributing causes to behaviour, depending on whether the subject of the attribution is one we like — ourselves, friends, or people we agree with making them part of our ‘in’ group — vs. subjects we do not like.

When it comes to someone we feel positively about we are more likely to attribute positive actions as being a natural result of who they are. Or another way — as a result of intrinsic qualities of the person. Giving money to a homeless person is because they are generous. Compassionate. Anything negative this person does on the other hand is likely to be viewed as a result of the situation or circumstances. Extrinsic from the person. If they snapped at someone — it is because they’re just over tired. Having a bad day. Need to get away from it all for a bit.

These tendencies flip when you are considering someone you dislike. Suddenly this person when giving money to the homeless is just doing it to escape the situation and conversation with the homeless person. When this person you dislike snaps at someone — they are just a grumpy, nasty person. Clearly.

I think that if we’re not careful, that this can translate easily enough into a tendency to rationalise (or not) a particular course of action depending on who our views happen to align with.

I am of course referring to the Blizzard reaction to Hearthstone champion Blitzchung expressing support for the Hong Kong protestors. Blizzard ultimately ‘fired’ Blitzchung and the commentators from his interview. Blitz also had his tournament winnings stripped. A harsh response. With a range of responses and views expressed so far.

Before I get to my response… A quick jump back to earlier this year, and Sport.

Israel Folau

Image result for israel folau

If you’re unfamiliar with the name — let me catch you up. Until recently Israel’s claim to fame was as Australia’s best Rugby player, bar none.

He is also a devout, fundamentalist Christian. Earlier in the year he tweeted that all homosexual people were going to hell. He included drunks, thieves, liars and a few other types in there to round it all out.

Rugby Australia had warned Israel in the past for similar — although not quite this inflammatory — sort of social media post. And in fact had amended his contract to include a clause barring Folau from making… well, exactly this sort of post.

Ultimately — and much to the surprise of absolutely everyone — Rugby Australia ultimately decided to enforce their contract. They terminated Folau, their star player. Just like that a multi-million dollar contract was torn up.

It became a hotbed of debate. Accusations of religious persecution were thrown around left and right. Folau (already a millionaire, mind) even attempted to setup a ‘Go Fund Me’ site to cover the legal expenses of fighting the decision on these grounds. When Go Fund Me pulled the page on the grounds of refusing to support such views, an Australian Christian activist group came in to collect on Folau’s behalf.

The decision through the end of all this though has essentially boiled down to the fact that Folau had consciously, and in full understanding of what he was agreeing to, signed the amended contract curtailing his ability to make social media posts of a bigoted, derogatory or otherwise inflammatory nature that could by association bring the Australian Rugby Association into disrepute.

My Opinion on the Folau Case?

Frankly, I was out for his blood.

I can barely begin to tell you how surprised I was Rugby Australia took action. I absolutely expected some small slap on the hand, a reprimand, a warning that the contract forbade such posts and they most certainly did not represent the views of Rugby Australia.

And then… Just a desire for it all to be swiftly forgotten and the news cycle to move on.

But RA took a stand. With the contract as their vehicle, RA took a stand. And I wholeheartedly agreed. That bastard knew what he was doing. Thought he could use his status to flaunt the rules — but he was in willful breach of contract.

Get. Him.

And then the Blizzard case?

Some have already pointed out that Blizzard technically had the right to do as they did. There was a rule in the tournament covering Blizzard from any commentary that might in some way offend all or part of a given population group.

Damnit.

Because this time I agree with the cause of supporting the rights supposedly guaranteed to the Hong Kong people.

Sure — there are some differences between the two cases. But by and large, to retain any degree of cognitive consistency it is necessary to determine whether I truly believed it right to enforce the contract (or rules) or at least acknowledge that for me it isn’t that at all, and it was the views themselves I was responding to.

And the answer for me came down to…

…both.

In both instances — Rugby Australia and Blizzard were acting within their rights to terminate their respective contracts. They were entitled to do it.

I don’t think anyone can argue that, really.

But acting within your rights doesn’t intrinsically make the act itself right. Causes matter. Intent matters. Putting an end to someone spreading a message of bigotry and hate is a good cause. Not allowing someone viewed as a hero continue to shape the young boys of a whole nation with such messages is something worth doing. That needed to be done.

Blizzard bowing to Chinese pressure — and this is 100% what I believe happened — to protect a revenue stream… *sigh* …Look, if we cut all else away and look at it from a raw business perspective, it was the right call for them to make. There is no world in which the Western fall-out costs them more than the entirety of their Chinese revenue stream. Any belief to the contrary is unfortunately a delusion.

But that doesn’t make it right, or something that we should just accept and let slide. The people protesting in Hong Kong are there to endeavour to protect rights that are legally protected for another 28-years. I’ve even seen some mocking of those attempting to take any kind of gesture-based stand and that isn’t OK either. Sure, as a business Blizzard might’ve been entitled to the action they took.

But so to is everyone who then decides this isn’t something that they, personally, wish to support or associate with.

Arrival of the Suuuuuuper Ultrawide

Last week I mentioned putting in an order to upgrade my monitor at last!

It’s here!

Given I’ve only had it up and running for a few short hours now — this is going to be the furthest thing from a review. More a set of first impressions. And those were: “Holy cow that’s a big box!” and, “Oh, at least it isn’t that heavy after all.” Swiftly followed by, “Hmm. I may have underestimated the space this thing will take on my desk.”

Getting Setup

Putting it together wasn’t too much of an ordeal, except for the awkwardly placed IO Ports. At least, they were awkwardly placed for my situation — which is a corner desk essentially impossible to move so also no way to get behind it.

The monitor is over a metre wide so again — in the context of being in a corner — it was quite difficult to even rotate it to get behind it. If I was to do this all over again, I would have completely stripped the desk of all contents before starting rather than just clearing the space required to place it. (Pro tip: Also don’t tip it toward you to reach the back. The centre of balance shifts very quickly. ;))

In any case, placement and connections were ultimately done and it looked grand.

… Until I turned it on. Then the real fun and games began.

It booted into 3840×1080 resolution, with a helpful On Screen Display (OSD) pop-up asking me to set the resolution to 5120×1440 for ‘best results’. Problem with this being — Windows was adamant that 3840×1080 was the native resolution of the display and further — was the top resolution of the display. Oh and also just 60hz, too.

After which followed an hour or two of troubleshooting. I had managed to get the resolution set to 5120×1440 briefly at one point after a mains power cycle of the monitor and PC — but shortly thereafter all display from the PC cut out and all reboots afterward were back at 3840×1080@60hz maximum.

I was about ready to call the unit faulty and be done with it when I decided to give one last hail Mary. Replaced the included DisplayPort cable with a known good cable from the monitor it was replacing.

Straight into 5120×1440@120hz, no issues since. Phewph.

The Desktop Experience

The Samsung C49RG9, and this one is mine! And now running at it’s full resolution glory!

I feel like the photo does poor justice to the sheer size of this thing. That keyboard in the foreground? It isn’t a reduced size board — it’s a full size, complete with a full NumPad and set of media controls.

To be honest, I was concerned that it might just be ‘too big’. After placing it on the desk I became confident it was too big. But sitting in front of it? You very quickly forget how big it is. It feels natural to use and the ability to subdivide your window space without anything feeling cramped is simply fantastic.

The start of this very blog post you see on the left there? That’s taking a full 2560×1440 monitor’s worth of space. And frankly I could cut that in half and still feel comfortable. (I often did exactly that when my 1440p was my main monitor.)

But as nice as this all is — let’s be honest. The extra desktop real estate is not why I nor anyone else is likely to pick this particular monitor.

Gaming! :D

So far I’ve only really tried games that I know support the resolution, so the experience is a really positive one. Without any shadow of a doubt, I am going to run into issues with some games handling the extremely rare 32:9 aspect ratio poorly.

Right now my belief is I can tolerate the black bars where necessary. Whether that will hold up after getting to experience the full super widescreen experience? Well… We’ll see.

Following on from the theme of initial concern over size for the desktop experience — I wondered whether there just might be too much to take in. But I needn’t have worried. Short of full VR, this monitor is about the about the closest you’re going to get to restoring your peripheral vision in a game.

You needn’t ‘focus’ on the edges of the screen — they’re just there. You can spot movement and react just as you would in real life, but your attention remains fixed in the centre. The slight curvature helps with this whole peripheral vision effect too.

Destiny 2 – Start of the Forsaken campaign

Performance?

Well, the bad news is it’s a notable hit. We’re talking literally 2x pixels per frame. ~7.4 million of the suckers! My system I would consider to be ‘not bad’ but no longer close to top of the line. It has an nVidia GTX 1080ti and an i5-8600K driving it.

With that, I was hitting between 60-75 FPS in Destiny 2. And — now we get to the good news — with the adaptive sync tech in the monitor (it uses FreeSync v2) this still feels silky smooth to play, with no visual tearing, laddering or other odd artifacts on screen.

Warframe did much better being a slightly less demanding game and held to a steady 100 FPS. This could have been higher but I frame locked it to match the 100hz refresh rate I’ve currently got it set to. This monitor can do 120hz out of the box — but this requires a drop down from full 10-bit colour to 8-bit.

I’ll likely play around with these settings over the coming days and weeks. It seems to be commonly held that the difference between 10-bit and 8-bit colour makes exceptionally minimal difference in gaming. It’s of more importance for HDR movie content and the like. (An area I haven’t played around with yet.)

So it might be if I have any number of games capable of running >100 FPS (like Warframe) then the extra 20 FPS headroom might be worth the reduction in colour depth.

Final First Impressions?

Rather positive. But it’s early yet, to be sure.

I’ve hardly begun to dive into the depths of what this thing can — and can’t — do. The games I’ve tried so far, as noted, were hand picked for the knowledge of their supporting widescreen correctly.

Here’s some images of those in the meantime though. ;)

Now, after having followed Jeromai in getting a monstrous monitor this size — I may also have to follow his footsteps in reconsidering the theme at use here. Something to better display the wider format screenshots I’ve more likely to have more of now. :D

I Fought the Uber Penguin

And the Uber Penguin did not win. While I’m also dealing with Penguin in the Telltale Batman game I don’t mean that one. No no, this Uber Penguin belonged to Asheron’s Call. The Uber Penguin is a metal encased cyborg-like level 160 critter that roams the frozen plains near Silyun.

One of the new1 towns added in the Throne of Destiny expansion.

Luckily, I had a group.

You might have noticed from the screenshots I hit level 100, too. And then some. I hit level 100 yesterday and finished the night at level 108 tonight.

Progress if anything has actually sped up over the last little while. And it leads me to say something I’m not sure someone enjoying something so old should… But uh; I actually like some of the changes made since the days I played Asheron’s Call.

When I left, you could see the shape of this emerging, the merest outline of what was to come. An even greater focus on quests as the main source of XP. And this was still years before the likes of Everquest II or World of Warcraft.

Specifically what I like, is that it seems from start to finish, despite an ever growing demand on XP generation to meet the curve of increases for your levels and skills — the game keeps up. The milestones — the many, many, milestones — that you set yourself are successfully struck at a steady cadence. Many of these milestones are small things, but equally steady are the big hits.

Level 100. Gaining enough skill points to specialise Melee Defense again. A new tier of weapons. Getting flagged for a new set of quest content. Obtaining new artifacts for future use.

And like I mentioned in that setting goals post, sometimes the things you do can work toward multiple of these milestones at the same time. But other times you need to choose. For example, there are a special set of vendors you can access in Candeth Keep. They offer you 100% of the value of items sold to them, which is insane. But perhaps even better there is a Master Mage there which sells top level components. Usually you would need to take a special trip to an out of the way place to get them.

Candeth Keep is a new endeavour. A fortress symbolising the new unity between the Lugian, Tumerok and Isparian races. To gain the special access you need to sacrifice a hundred (partial, thankfully — not required to be full) bags of material salvage.

It’s by no means a herculean task, but it is time out from questing or otherwise earning XP. It’s time out from looting what you might otherwise want to and it means a period of sacrificing keeping the salvage you might otherwise use to improve your own gear.

It adds a a little friction — and a little friction isn’t bad.

Jahannan Vault — resting place of the Major Smoldering Stone. Also perhaps one of my earliest experiences with an MMO Jumping Puzzle. Much of the dungeon is such.

Striking the right balance is difficult. Too much and the experience overall just isn’t worth it. The shine comes off, lustre gone, away goes the any desire to play.

But too little and I think you strike something a little closer to the current WoW retail experience. The edges have been sanded off to such an extent it may as well be a slip’n’slide.

There is nothing to create emotive memories. No sense of accomplishment through overcoming anything. No decisions to make. Just go with the flow.

WoW Classic reminded me of the importance of having meaningful decisions to make at all levels of play. And on this, Asheron’s Call executes perfectly to my mind.

As to what I’ve been up to? Well.. Lordy.

Just a sampling. Some of these likely to have been worthy of their own posts. Aerlinthe Isle for example? A high level zone with a quest chain that existed since the relatively early days of Asheron’s Call — and yet I never did it.

On Darktide — the full PvP world — it was an RPK (Random Player Killer) stronghold. We Anti-PKers had our places, and they theirs. This was one of theirs.

Now all these years later, I have. I had a sort of mental block over ever getting this place done and thanks to some new friends I’ve made on the Levistras server — that has been busted right through. I’m the proud owner of a Black Fire Stone and the Aerlinthe Recall spell.

Humble Monthly: October 2019

What a mix of emotions this month’s Humble Monthly brings! Overall positivity wins out, but it’s a positivity for the future as this current month’s inclusions are overwhelmingly ‘Meh’.

Don’t get me wrong — if I didn’t already own Battletech, I’d be quite over the moon about that. Better still it isn’t just the base game, we’re getting the first major DLC otherwise included in the quite pricey season pass. A DLC piece I didn’t yet own, to boot. So there’s something this month for me. Woo! I wondered whether it might actually still be cheaper to pick-up the full season pass anyway if you wanted the final two inclusions, but this actually isn’t the case.

If you end up liking Battletech enough to want the final two DLCs (the last of which actually isn’t out yet) you will still find it cheaper to buy the two you need individually rather than everything again, so yay!

Anywho. Onwards to the headline titles, and we have three this time. All fairly big titles actually, but two in particular that have made me squee with excitement to get my hands on.

November Headline Titles

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

:o

Holy moly. While Spyro Reignited has been around on PS4 for a little while now, it only came out on PC last month. And here we go.

I actually own this on the PS4 already — I bought it less on nostalgia and more on thinking it an excellent game to get my youngest boy (8) involved in gaming and learning controller skills and the art of patience and practice.

And for that it has been perfect. Fun and charming with challenges of both platforming and combat, without all the violence that it seems some of his friends are already allowed to play. My wife and I didn’t want our youngest to be left behind in gaming, so this was a great fit.

…And alright, maybe nostalgia played a small part in the selection of this specific title. I still remember very fondly playing it with my younger brother. :)

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

:o :o

I have less of a personal attachment to Crash, my brother played this one farrrr more than I did. So while it isn’t one I’d likely have spent money on to get access to, if it’s going to come via Humble Monthly?

Heck yeah I’m in!

Spyro and Crash both make me pretty excited for next month’s bundle as the headliners. There is another too which might be of more interest to others, but eh.

Also, you might spot a bit of a theme here — all Activision published titles.

Call of Duty: WWII

Eh.

I don’t own it already at least, I guess.

By this point there would be no real multiplayer presence left to speak of — June’s inclusion of the Call of Duty 4 standard edition would be what you want for that.

But this one does at least have a singleplayer campaign still. I’m told it’s fairly short, but as an inclusion in the Humble Monthly, maybe I’ll take a look at it at some point.

Revealed Titles

Not too much to say about this list of inclusions, really.

By far the two with the most potential from this list for me are Planet Alpha an Avernum 3. Planet Alpha looks to be an adventure platformer, focusing at least as much if not more so on the visual spectacle of its environments and what is going on around you than demanding platform play.

Avernum 3 is an RPG from somewhat famous (insofar as niche RPG developers go) Spiderweb Software. (Not to be confused with Spiders, developers of Greedfall and Technomancer!)

Spiderweb Software is renowned for their open approach to their RPGs and I own one of their older series called Geneforge, which I really quite enjoyed. If you’re a fan of a more retro approach to CRPGs you might quite enjoy this.

…As for the others though… sigh. Sonic was at least as much a part of my childhood as Spyro, probably moreso. But I find it hard to raise any degree of excitement for anything in that franchise any more.

Override: Mech City Brawl seems like it could be interesting to be fair — but it also looks like it was built on the basis of needing quite a sizable playerbase to keep it going. A playerbase it could never hit without the big bucks publisher marketing spend. Still — you might find some joy in the days immediately following this bundle, or if not and you have gaming buddies locally, it does support local party play.

Puss struck me immediately as a meme game, and once I saw the testimonial comments were from Jackscepticeye and Markiplier, this was locked in. Spiral Scouts gave a NSFW warning on loading the game page in steam — but it appears to be largely language related. From a quick glance at the trailer, it’s a bit like you took the juvenile humour of a Borderlands game and then removed all last traces of restraint or wit. … Yep.

OK, so turned out I had a bit to say on this after all. There you go. Let’s hope next month’s reveal titles have a power to match the headliners! I’m also unable to stop myself from being somewhat interested in what the December bundle will bring for Christmas, too! :D

Upgrading my Monitor!

If there is one space I’ve typically skimped on with my PC it has been in the monitor department. Or if not skimped per se, then definitely at least been behind the times. I suppose I’ve sort of jumped between the two states here and there. It started for example with refusing to move on from CRT.

I got up to a 19″ CRT while everyone else had already moved onto LCD. And honestly, it wasn’t even anything to do with the fact LCD panels started to catch up in refresh rate or visual quality that ultimately made me switch. No no, what finally got me was going to LANs and watching enviously as others breezed across the carpark with their LCD screens vs. the herculean effort required the lug the 19″ CRT that far.

I forget exactly when, but it’s only been in the last 4 or 5 years that I invested in a monitor with a higher than 60hz refresh rate too. But I still went 1080p, looking for performance over visual fidelity. I thought people trying to jump to 4K at that stage were crazy. (And actually, that far back, they probably were.)

A bit over a year ago, I probably went in for what was truly a pricey monitor (by my standards), an ASUS 27″ 1440p IPS panel that could still support 144hz refresh rate. That’s what I’m using now (with the prior 1080p monitor sitting alongside as secondary).

Even that relatively small seeming increase from 1920×1080 to 2560×1440 was quite a revelation to me. And I found it to be a fantastic balance in visual quality and performance. While I’m not running a current generation RTX card, I do have a 1080ti which is more than adequate for powering that resolution.

Which brings us to today…

Following in the footsteps of Jeromai and his journey to the Super Ultrawide side earlier in the year, I’ve now put in a purchase order for the next model along. The Samsung CRG9.

Like Jeromai’s, it’s still 49″ and retains the crazy 32:9 aspect ratio. But given that is already a monitor of behemoth proportions, I think not going bigger still was probably the right call. The biggest upgrade over last year’s model is the jump from DFHD (Dual Full HD, 3840×1080) up to DQHD (Dual QHD, 5120×1440).

Not my one. Mine is still coming. Hopefully next week! :D

It is a lot of pixels to drive, which does concern me a little. But it’s less than a 4K res panel asks of your video card by roughly a million, so given 4K benchmarks I’m reasonably hopeful I wont have to sacrifice in the frames department too heavily.

The other concern is of course support for the resolution. Even 21:9 — the far more common widescreen format — is only barely beginning to pick-up steam. In fact, consulting Steam’s Hardware survey results, at the time of writing this 5120×1440 (or last year’s 3840×1080 for that matter) are bundled up into the ‘Other’ category for Primary Screen Resolutions which as a whole has 1.83% representation.

The more common 21:9 resolutions have ~1.69% between them. (Compared to the still prevailing 1920×1080 at a whopping 63.47%.)

Still, watching from afar it does appear that support is improving overtime. And… This might be a bit of blasphemy amongst the widescreen diehards… But black bars don’t bother me terribly.

While not ideal, I could happily play my older titles in 16:9 in the middle of the screen — or, more likely — put them into windowed mode with other things alongside.

And then there is the HDR aspect and the whole new world of caring about ‘nits’! Apparently in this case they’re a good thing to have, unlike back in school. ;) Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey supports HDR on PC apparently, so mayhaps I’ll have occasion to go back and finish up after all.

In any case. Order is in. Now just to wait. And of course, in typical Nait style — I decided on what I wanted and received approval from the Boss (read: Wife) to actually make the purchase on a Friday after close of business.

I got a good deal on the price ordering from who I did, but now that the waiting has commenced I almost would rather to have paid more to just pick it up. Hah.