Watching over Overwatch

Yey, a gaming post!

So I identify as a gamer, I love gaming and my PC is very much what it is due to gaming.  However, I also identify as a social being and as a social being, my gaming is regularly impacted.  Normally just after an announcement that I will be gaming/streaming more…I am invariably busy socially.

Couple that with having no car recently and the train journey to work causing me to lose over 2hrs more per day and my gaming time recently has suffered.

I do, however, keep up with what has been going on with my fave games.  Specifically, this means Overwatch at the moment.  There have been a couple of patches and the introduction of Season 2 competitive since I last played.  Heroes have been nerfed, boosted and nerfed again..this will be never ending for Blizzard, as you will never get the balance 100% correct and every change, however minor, will have at least one set of people losing their frickin’ minds.

I did see an interesting video from Stylosa (Unit Lost Gaming) where he refers to Play of the Mercy.  Essentially he finds it exceedingly annoying that Mercy players can just hide out waiting for their team to die, bounce around the corner and resurrect everyone just after the opposition has blown all of the Ultimates to stop/force the push.  He then asks for people in the comments to offer up their thoughts on changing Mercy (if they feel it necessary).  He suggested a casting time for the resurrect or something else that would introduce a delay, the thinking being that it would give the opposition a small chance to take Mercy out before all of their hard work pressing Q was undone.  He also mentions a possible limit to the number of heroes that can be resurrected.

I do understand what he saying, and it is frustrating sometimes…but it’s also frustrating when any other ultimate fires off that can’t be stopped.  Most of them are instant after all.  What he fails to address, however, is what goes into making Mercy be able to resurrect in the first place.

Now, I am pretty much a Lucio main…so I am support focused, I will freely admit that.  That said, I am an average to below average Mercy.  The skill involved in spreading the healing love, when to switch to damage boost, when to risk zipping over to someone closer to the front line and risk death…essentially, actively participating to the game, cannot be underestimated.  Let’s not forget, building your Ultimate requires activity.

If a Mercy player was to spend the whole time at the back line, healing ranged characters and hiding…the Ultimate wouldn’t build much beyond it’s standard rate.  Meaning you might be lucky to get 1 or maybe 2 resurrects per game.

That ignores the fact that the “hiding” that a Mercy needs to do, needs to be close enough to the action to resurrect everyone…you can do it from behind a wall, but there is a range limit.  Getting into that kind of position on a lot of maps, without being seen and focused down, is an art form all of its own.  It also ignores the fact that the video implies that playing Mercy and getting POTG is easy…then a few seconds later refers to himself as a “Terrible Mercy”…unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways.

Now, do I think that the Mercy Ultimate is perfect?  Not at all, but I do think it doesn’t need much doing to it.  When I watch live streams of competitive matches with the pros, you know that they are able to, fairly accurately, work out when Mercy has her Ultimate.  They do this with most Ultimates.  Generally they see it from positioning, or from another Ultimate dropping (combos are fun) etc etc.

So the exact problem that Stylosa is describing isn’t really an issue when you are playing Overwatch with something other than pride on the line.  Tactically, resurrect is a difficult one.  Drop the resurrect in the wrong team fight and you can throw a match…the same goes for holding it back too long.  You really have to be clever with it.

I do think, though, that it should be changed a little bit.  I don’t want to see it slowed down, I don’t want to see the radius reduced…nor do I want to have it limited to X number of heroes.  I would like to see it have a cost and therefore make it a real tactical choice.  For me, if I am resurrected by Mercy, my Ultimate charge should be reset to zero or 50% of what it was…something along those lines.  If I am killed, and go back to spawn, my Ultimate charge stays where it is.  I think that is OK, because I have to get myself back into the fight to use it.  If a team drops a load of Ultimates to, for example, stop a push…having Mercy resurrect them all and have them immediately be able to press Q is where I do tend to agree with Stylosa.  That is frustrating and, perhaps, a little unfair.

If a Mercy using her Ultimate meant that I no longer had my Ultimate available, it would make the usage of resurrect an incredibly tactical decision.  Do you go for the res and try to keep the push going or is there enough time available to head back to spawn, keep your ultimate fully charged and head back into the fray.

It’s not perfect, but it could be a good change.

Other than that, leave her alone…She is most definitely not an easy character to play.

Stream Quality Improvements

audio-519575_960_720Well, it has taken me a while, and I am still messing around with the settings..but I have finally got the quality and audio issues, that have been annoying me, under control.

This is great for me as I now feel comfortable to start making Let’s play videos for YouTube.  If I ever get around to it is an entirely different issue, but at least I am happy with my setup if I do.

Also, my setup for being able to record locally, has finally allowed me to organise my stream audio levels better too.  I streamed some Overwatch on Saturday night and, for the first time, it sounded like it was me streaming and not that I was just on comms with another guy that was streaming..  My voice levels were previously fine, but I just didn’t have enough granular control of my comms software, where I could turn it down to the stream, but keep the volume high to me personally.

So, thanks to Virtual Audio Cable and VoiceMeeter Banana..I now have a decent setup.  Saturdays stream was proof of that.

You see, I use OBS Studio for streaming and recording.  I love it, it’s free, flexible and relatively free of bugs.  The only trouble I was having was that it would only record everything I heard and everything I said.  1 track for everything I hear, 1 for everything I say…so I could turn up my voice, but if I wanted, say, Mumble to be quieter..I had to make it quieter for me too.  This is a problem, obviously.  Especially if I want to have some Music playing and chat to some friends when I am just recording gameplay.

The current options in OBS are pretty much all or nothing.

I do seem to recall that the OBS dev mentioned that he hoped to be able to bring in applications as independant audio sources, but had no idea how long it might be.  Also, buying a mixing desk and differing hardware solutions was not a financial possibility for me.

So, I needed a solution.

Virtual Audio CableI installed Virtual Audio Cable and told it to give me 4 virtual cables.  Being a kindly piece of software, it did just that.  I then set my PC Playback Device to use Virtual Line 1 as an output.  All of my Comms programs (Skype, Discord, Mumble, Teamspeak) to use Virtual Line 2 and MusicBee to use the VoiceMeeter Virtual Input.

 

VoiceMeeterNext up, VoiceMeeter Banana.

I set “Hardware Input 1” to Virtual Line 1 and told it to output to channel A1
“Hardware Input 2” is then Virtual Line 2, which outputs to both A1 and A2
Hardware Input 3 (no quotes, actual hardware) is my Rode NT-USB Microphone, set to A3 output.

Virtual Input 1 is set to A1 and B1 output.

Hardware Outputs are then set as follows:

A1 – USB Headset
A2 – Virtual Line 3
A3 – Virtual Line 4

Why do it this way?  Well, A1 is effectively a monitor now. I can listen to everything at the volume I want, but it is literally just that, my listening volume.  Recording volume is then set in OBS.  Also, outputtiing my Mic to a Virtual Line, allows me to apply processing on the fly and get my voice sounding all silky smooth when I stream, not just when I record.

OBS Studio:

In OBS, I then setup audio captures for Virtual Line 4 (My microphone), Virtual Line 3 (Comms Program), VoiceMeeter Speakers (Music) and Virtual Line 1 (PC Audio).  This means I can set their volumes individually.  Which is how I can now keep Comms nice and quiet in the stream, turn the music up and down etc.

This means that I don’t get to apply any VoiceMeeter control or processing to Line 1 (as I access it directly in OBS), but I don’t need any processing on that so I am not worried.

Using this setup to record local MP4 video, I can get each audio capture on it’s own track thanks to the OBS Studio mixer..so when I (eventually) import into Sony Vegas, I can mute the music or the comms, or my speaking etc etc etc.  It makes it possible to have a gaming night provide viable footage.

It seems so simple now, I don’t know why I didn’t do this before.  So simple that I helped r4tty set it up too and now he is back to having his DJ Voice from days gone by.

It’s amazing what technology can do for you, when you put your mind to it of course.

I realise that this is a bit of a techy post, but I figured it might help some others who have had the same issues…

Why I don’t “Console”

PS3 ControllerNo, before you ask, I don’t do the whole “PC Master Race” malarky*. My reason…I can’t use controllers.  There, I said it.

It doesn’t make sense, I mean, I used Joysticks on the Vic-20, ZX81, Atari 2600, Spectrum 48, Spectrum 128, C64, Amiga etc etc etc.  Even on my green-screen PC back in the day, I was playing Prince of Persia with keyboard and wishing I could connect a joystick to it.

At some point, the Master System and the NES dropped, with controllers…and I loved them.  Then, Megadrive and SNES.  I was still hooked,  Controllers were great.  Mainly they were for action games…a lot of platformers.  You needed skill to use the controller properly, but none of the games required any level of pixel perfect precision.

By the time the Playstation dropped in ’95 (I think), I had been playing Doom on PC for a couple of years.  Shortly after the Playstation dropped, Duke Nukem 3D hit and I was gone, done with consoles.  I was playing lan and (eventually) online multiplayer and loving it.

FPS games have always been my go to game genre.  I love them, I love the immediacy of them, I love being able to drop into a game without needing to commit to anything more than a 20 minute round of something (although invariably for longer).  I like that I was better than some people, and took great pleasure in taking out people that were better than me.  The team aspect was amazing.  Consoles couldn’t stack up.  They still can’t.  I have watched videos and streams of people playing FPS on consoles and, don’t get me wrong, they have improved….a LOT.  However, they still have the same movement/aim issues they always had.  Aim assist is still an option (and in fact the default as I understand it).  Movement/aiming are considerably slower and the art of strafing a circle around people is just lost as a technique.  As soon as you can use a mouse/keyboard for this kind of game, your reactions improve and the game speeds up.

Consoles have improved.  I mean, sure, they are always going to lag behind PC gaming in terms of power and tech, but they give a standard platform to work on where the limitations are clear to the developers…meaning the developers can explore pushing the console to the limit, knowing that it will work in the exact same way for everyone that buys the game on that console.  For me, I can see why people thought that the end of PC gaming was nigh.  Devs were going to rush to consoles and ditch PC forever.

People make a big deal over exclusives and a lot of people point out that the PC gets a massive amount of what are, technically, exclusives (in that they aren’t being released to console).  That isn’t strictly an exclusive as far as I am concerned.  An exclusive would be Halo or, more recently, Destiny.  These are games that appealed to me and I was interested to play them on PC.  Even if I wasn’t personally interested, PC Gamers in general were.  That makes an exclusive to me.  A “triple A” title that causes another group of gamers to consider buying some other hardware specifically to play it.  The day that the Battlefield series becomes a console exclusive, that could be problematic for PC gaming.

Even Halo eventually dropped on PC and it was, pretty much, a disaster as far as I remember.  The didn’t factor in what makes FPS on PC different.  They kept the speed that they used for the consoles, it was a direct port.  Direct ports can’t work.  It’s that simple, taking a game that works so perfectly in one format and then just altering the code so that it works on different hardware doesn’t work.  It can’t work and it doesn’t.

If you think that PCs are the best gaming platform or not, you cannot deny the benefits of of them.  Want to play games with an old/current console controllers?   We have USB connectors for that.  Want to turn it into a fully functional driving simulator?  We have devices for that.  Want to be on voice chat with some people, video chat with another, play a game, have some music playing and still be able to type a quick message to your friend who isn’t responding to you? (I am looking at you LW)  You can do all of that too.

It can be as flexible or restrictive as you want it to be.  Run it from your couch plugged into the TV, run multiple monitor setups.  Flexible.

I think that’s the key here, flexibility.  When I am not happy with my performance, I can upgrade individual components.  Yes, PC hardware is more expensive..but, I bought my current PC 4 or 5 years ago and only felt the need to upgrade the video card in the last few months.  I have been able to play every game that I have wanted to, with good quality settings during that entire time.  Seeing as I don’t exclusively use my PC for gaming, the usage that I get from a PC is well worth the investment.

When I do game, the games are normally cheaper.  If you game a LOT, then this saving on its own will stack up over time.  Also, backwards compatibility is not a problem, so you never have to re-buy games for each iteration, or keep old hardware lying around.  With a very small amount of tinkering, I could easily install and play old DOS games from the early 90s.

I like the idea of consoles, I really do..everyone on a level playing field, no complicated setups.  Devs only have to worry about one hardware standard and the same controls for everyone.  I just need flexibility, cheaper games and options.

Oh yeah, and I suck with controllers..did I mention that already?

 

* Good word, should be used more!

photo by:

Game Servers

Newark NJ Refurbished Playground HVLP PaintSo..I talked about it yesterday and so I added a Game Server section to the website. Click on Game Servers on the site menu and you will be taken to a list of the servers that are available.

Occasionally, more when I am trying a new game and changing configs a lot, they will be passworded. If this is the case, send me a message on Twitter and I will either give you the password or at least an ETA as to when the server will be public.

The only exception to this is the Mumble Server. You will always need a password, which I will happily provide, and I need to be able to connect and register you on the server…otherwise you won’t be able to change channels or speak, which kind of defeats the purpose for a voice comms system Smile

Enjoy!

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Survival Goodness

You don't even get one of these!!

You don’t even get one of these!!

Survival games on PC are all the rage at the moment.  Mostly with Zombies, but there are a few non-zombie titles too.

Essentially, you are dumped into a world with little or nothing and sent on your way.  Most of them will include crafting, base building, hunting (or indeed being hunted), differing weather conditions and, in a lot of cases, other players.  Some games will have you figure out what you can craft from what, others will employ a kind of levelling up where you get some points and a finite amount of choices.  All of them will involve some level of grind (you need materials to be able to craft things after all).  However, in all of them, the focus is on crafting and gathering.  Even in PVP you need to craft more weapons, better weapons, better armour, some bullets etc.

This is where I should switch off and, quite possibly, fall asleep.  These kind of games are everything I have spent my gaming life trying to avoid.  I have been an FPS player since original Doom, always multiplayer and always looking for a game that gives me the option of a 20 minute “quick fix”…even if I end up then playing for 10 hours.  Occasionally, and MMO would hold my interest briefly, and then back to FPS.

And yet, I love Survival Games now.  I have lots of them (although I confess that the more unforgiving ones are not being played a lot at the moment…yes, I am a scaredycat).

I blame FrankieOnPCin1080p and Sl1pg8r personally.  They are both responsible for my love of Ark: Survival Evolved and Frankie is the reason I bought Arma 2 for the DayZ mod.  They both seemed to be having a great laugh, so I thought “I’ll have me some of that”.

After getting Ark and DayZ Mod, I figured I would try H1Z1, which I also love..so then Miscreated happened, Rust and most recently 7 Days to Die.  I can’t explain it.  I know I should hate these games..but I don’t.  They are fun, even the grindy bits.

The key, is to get some people together that enjoy gaming and that you can have a laugh with and, even the most boring sounding game in the world can be fun.

To that end, I will be posting shortly about the Discombobulatory Ramblings servers that are available.

In the meantime, take some time to head over to Frankie & Sl1pg8rs’ channels, look for their Ark playlists, make yourself comfortable and settle in for a bloody good laugh.  Then, when you buy the game (on PC), let me know and we can join up Grin

See you soon