Another Intermittent Update

I still haven’t decided what to do with this page. Here’s an update anyway.

While I took a break from GW2 for part of the year since I last posted, the break was mostly due to having my monitor burn out and not having a comfortable way to play on the 42 inch TV I use as a second monitor. GW2 is just one of those games without font options that are readable at living room distances. So for awhile I focused on console ports—Injustice: Gods Among Us saw heavy rotation—designed to be played on TVs with gamepads. I also got caught up on a few Lego games, which I don’t consider amazing examples of modern gaming, but I do consider them great mindless entertainment.

But I did get back in to GW2, and made significant progress on getting one of every class to 80. Only have about 40 levels left on the ranger then will save up my tomes for the release of the revenant, and I’m done. Most of them, however, are not even close to having equipment. My thief, is in good shape, almost completely carrying ascended armor, trinkets, and weapons. Next is the guardian with all exotics and a couple of ascended trinkets.

Those are the two characters I focus on. I use the thief for WvW roaming: with stealths and conditions, he’s hard to kill and hard to run from. I’m still learning, however, so sometimes I make it easy on folks. The guardian gets pulled out for guild raids, when running with a large, organized group. Lately I haven’t made too many raids (and that’s unfortunate, as it started right after joining the dedicated raiding team), as I’ve just been way too tired by their 8 pm start time and on my way to bed for 9 or 10.  It’s an exciting life I lead.

For the last few weeks, most of my gaming time has gone into GTA. Not GTA V, however, I need to finish some computer upgrades before I can run that well enough to play it. I picked up GTA San Andreas on sale a few days before GTA V released. There’s not too many times in my life that I’ve had the opportunity to return to a game ten years after I’ve left it, and in this case, two platform changes later. The Steam version has been stripped of some songs for licensing reasons, but it does have widescreen resolutions except in the cut scenes (which are stretched). I had so much fun with  that game and put so much time into it back in 2005 that I’d forgotten many of the game’s warts. There are lots of graphical glitches and crashes. Ten years ago, I thought my computer was struggling to handle the game, but the game still slows down at similar moments, with too many vehicles and pedestrians on-screen. The FPS really bottoms out when the game is animating heavy smoke, such as that inside buildings on fire. Which will be a problem, again, later — the final mission involves escaping a burning building. It lacks the autosave and save anywhere features of the HD games. And it lacks the taxi and replay features of the HD games that speed up the more monotonous parts of GTA.

It’s also a lot smaller than I remember. I played GTA V by borrowing a friend’s 360. When I first started replaying San Andreas, it felt like the map I was unlocking was much larger than the HD Los Santos. It’s not. Once I had the map opened up and was flying instead of driving, I realized how quickly I could go from end to end, from airport to airport. The whole map is probably less than half the area of GTA V. Fascinating to imagine what this series will be like in 2025.

Computer upgrades have also been progressing. I replaced my burnt out 23 inch monitor with a 24 inch — so I guess that’s an upgrade. I replaced my video card with another 1 gb card, but one that can handle dx11. Amazing how much of a performance increase that alone caused — I spent a few weeks playing Civ V because of how much faster the game loaded in dx11. While doing the video card, I checked my fans as one had been making a lot of noise. Turns out they were both pretty rough: the one that was quiet had actually seized.  I removed the exhaust fan on the side, as that was easy to access, and I unplugged the intake on the front — getting to that fan requires removing the front panel. The exhaust fan I was able to replace right away, coincidentally, as I was visiting a cousin later that evening and he had the right size in storage from an old computer (his current build uses ginormous oversized fans).

Next on the upgrade list is the big three: motherboard, processor, RAM. The RAM I have would probably work on the mobo I’m looking at, and the RAM I want probably works on the mobo I have. So I might do the RAM first. Or do the RAM last. Though probably I’ll just do it all at once. I’ll also put a new intake fan on the front of the case then, as that’s just another $10 – $20 on the job and I’ll have the front panel detached to rewire the power button and the other stuff built into the panel. This whole job will be about $300 – $350. I still have some research to do before I settle on the motherboard, but I’ll be choosing that first, and probably purchasing it this week.

Although I’ll probably want to replace my video card again in a couple of years, those replacements will set me right for the current generation of console ports. And, if the game turns out to be worthwhile, let me run Star Citizen at a fair clip. Which is the end goal, though I must admit GTA V moved up the timetable. I looked into just buying a completely new system, but this saves me a good amount of money and keeps me off Windows 8. There’s nothing wrong with my hard drive, my power supply, or my case anyway.

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