Sunday, December 28, 2014

My man cave and dedicated gaming pc

I did it! I finally have my man cave, with my won dedicated gaming pc in it! And it feels great! It took slightly longer to get together, because my son was born in October, but I finally did it!

My wife's old PC was graciously donated to me to be my gaming rig. It's about three years old, but it's definitely not a bad rig at all! It's got a 3rd generation i7 CPU, my old ASUS GTX560 ti Graphics Card, 16 gigs of DDR3 RAM, and a fresh 1TB WD Blue hard drive.

The screen I have connected is a Samsung 20", which runs at a 1600x900 resolution. Not ideal, but for a start it's perfect!

I formatted and did a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional, and have so far loaded up Steam and Dragon Age Inquisition is installing as I'm writing this.

Also, my wife bought me a not too shabby 2.1 set of Creative Speakers (hasn't arrived yet, thanks to the incompetent couriers Takealot use - hopefully tomorrow, or all hell will break loose!) for Xmas.

So, it's almost ready to game on, and boy am I excited! I will gradually get better gear, like a mechanical keyboard (I hear those are great!), better mouse, and most of all, a better screen and graphics card.

I just hope the motherboard, which has given some minor issues lately (MSI Z68A-GD80) keeps on working, otherwise it'll be a good R5000 or so for a new motherboard and CPU (I looked, and you don't really get decent socket 1155 boards anymore :(. If that happens, I'll probably go for an current gen i5, but we'll cross that bridge when needed.

And I really REALLY want a GTX970, but that's way out of my budget at the moment - hopefully nVidia launches the GTX960 (which I've heard rumors about) in the new year - I will be very happy with a 1920x1080 monitor and a card that can run everything maxed out - the 560 is starting to show its age a bit, but luckily (silver lining) my screen doesn't go higher than 1600x900, so I should be able to run everything pretty nicely at that!

Will post photos soon!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Android Game Review: Spellfall

It has been a while since I last posted something on this blog, but I have good reason! My son was born on 3 October, and boy oh boy, what a ride it's been! He is also, in part, the reason I started playing Spellfall. On one of the many nights where I was awake at two just after changing so my wife can feed him, I checked out the Google Play store, and discovered this little gem of a game...

Firstly, it is a free-to-play game, but there are real money that you can spend on items and coins, which is the in-game currency.

Personally, I really do not like the whole free-to-play kind of games. Especially when the company charges absolutely ludicrous amounts for an in game item. In the case of Spellfall, there are these fancy weapons you can buy with real money, and they go for around $80-$130! I mean, who in their right mind would ever spend that on an in-game item! There are also things like recharging your health quicker for a dollar, or buying some additional coins to help you buy that nice new rune or armor.

Anyway, it's of course optional if you want to fork out real money for the game or not. I have now played the game for exactly 30 days. I have lots of free "snippets" of time to quickly play a game of Spellfall, and I've actually been able to log in every day. The nice perk about doing that is after 20 days, you get to choose one of the $80 weapons to be added to your arsenal! Miss one day though, and you start all over again...

Another nice feature of the game is you can have 3 different games, or save slots, at a time. That means it's not like other games where if you're dead, you HAVE to wait for your health to recharge before playing some more, chances are very good that one of your other saves will have a fully charged and battle-ready mage with which you can play.

So, more about the game. There is some or other story behind the thing, but I didn't bother to actually read up on it, I was just looking for something to keep me occupied while my boy has his midnight snack and I have to burp him afterwards... Basically, you're a wizard, and you battle these monsters. You have a set amount of turns, in which you can move around tiles on the board to make matches. The tiles available are Gold, Frost, Water, Fire, Poison and Lightning. It's a typical match-3 game, but instead of just being able to swap adjacent tiles, you can move any tile to anywhere on the board - a nice refreshing touch to the genre if you ask me - plus you can set up some crazy combos for massive damage! Once you run out of turns, the enemy attacks you, after which your turn counter resets, and you can go again if you survived the onslaught.

There are two kinds of equipment your wizard can use - armor and a weapon. Each of these have a specific number of slots, into which you can place various runes. I really like the whole runes feature of the game, makes it something different!

You get two kinds of runes, active and passive. Active runes, like Heal and Poison, for example, charges as you match tiles of the rune's colour. The Heal rune charges when you match water tiles, Poison rune when you match poison tiles. While battling the enemy, only one rune can be active for that specific turn, but you can switch freely between them as the battle progresses. This is something to keep an eye on, because sometimes you make a huge combo of a specific colour, and then the rune wasn't equipped and your awesome move didn't charge it.

Passive runes function in the background, and gives you, for example, boosts to your damage, or allows you to drain some health from the enemy and heal yourself.

Runes also levels up, but extremely slowly. After a battle, you earn rune points, which helps your runes level up. The Active runes have 3 levels, and as far as I can tell, for passive runes it varies...

When you equip a new weapon or armor, not all of the rune slots are available from the start, so you have to purchase those slots with coins. Sometimes that can be quite a pricey story, and each slot on the item becomes progressively more expensive...

The game world is divided up in several areas, and your goal is to conquer each one. Don't worry, I've been playing for a month now, and I've only conquered the first 4 areas. It takes a while to go through them, because after each battle you need to wait for a good 30 minutes for your character's health the replenish, but also, this is not a game where I sit and play for hours on end. It's a perfect time waster for me, and that's great!

A nice thing about conquering an area on the map is you can then start earning coins off that area. So every time you log in, you get a quick bunch of coins, which can really help with your upcoming battles!

After conquering the 3rd area, it becomes possible for enemies to slowly start taking over your previously conquered areas again, one stage at a time. For me this keeps it rather interesting.

Getting back to the various items you can get, you have two inventory slots - armor and a weapon. These can have special abilities as well, like a boost in your critical chance, or additional protection against a certain element, or even a chance to score an additional move while playing. Most items have around 5 rune sockets, so you can equip the ruins you've purchased in those sockets, but you need to purchase the slots first like I mentioned earlier...

Anyway, this is my top time waster at the moment (Blocky Road is a close second!). I haven't spent a single cent on the game, and that's how I like it. And I still feel it's unethical to charge such ludicrous amounts for in-game items. Rather charge $3-$5 for the game, and allow you to earn those items in a reasonable way. But, I guess the whole "make the game addictive so people cannot resits spending money for more lives/turns" is a business model that works (sadly) - it's just not one I'm in the least fond of.

Get it for FREE on Android here - I can heartily recommend it, and if I were to assign a score to it, I'd give it a solid 4 out of 5! Reviewed on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Friday, September 12, 2014

How to make a template file for your custom content type in Drupal 7

So far, all the sites I have made in Drupal (both of them hehe), have had numerous content types, and each node of that type needs to be displayed in it's own theme. By default, it seems, Drupal doesn't have this functionality built in, but luckily it's not hard to add.

Let's say your content type is called "Products" - naturally you would want to name the page template for that content type something like page--products.tpl.php - but without the little hack below, that won't work.

So, to get that to work, make sure you have a template.php file in the root folder of your theme, and then add this code to it:
    function nameofyourtheme_preprocess_page(&$vars)
            if (isset($vars['node']->type))
                $vars['theme_hook_suggestions'][] = 'page__' . $vars['node']->type;
Just put the name of your theme in the nameofyourtheme part above (same name as the folder your theme is located in) - this file might have other functions as well, so just add this to the file if it does...

Now, your page--products.tpl.php template will start working and doing its magic.

How to remove line on top of a table in Drupal

This will just be a quick post. Drupal tends to add a gray line at the top of any <table> elements you may have on your page, even if you don't have a border specified. A quick and simple way of getting that annoying line gone is by adding this

table {
  border-collapse: separate !important;

to your stylesheet file. Does the trick for me!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Avast just lost me as a customer

For the past 8 or so years I've been using Avast as my free anti virus. But, ever since the last update, I've been getting these really annoying popups advertising other Avast products that you obviously have to pay for. These popups were never there, and now they decided to introduce such an annoyance??

I had a look at the settings, and discovered that you can only disable them if you have the premium version. See below:

See in red in the middle - well done Avast, I'm uninstalling and going someplace else. Also, there goes me recommending it to all my clients as well...

Some titles I'm currently enjoying, and looking forward to

There are a few games that I currently play, but also a few I'm really looking forward to.

Here's what I'm playing these days:

7 Days to Die - The Zombie/Crafting/Survival/Sandbox/FPS/Stealth game that is only still in Alpha, but is extremely fun even in the early state it is. It is ESPECIALLY fun when you do it co-op with a buddy! I blogged about it a few weeks ago, check that post here

Diablo 3 - Patch 2.1 just launched today, and I'm looking forward to jumping back into it. I like how Blizzard has revived the game from the sad state it was before version 2 and Reaper of Souls launched. It's a much better game, and it's getting better with every major update!

GTA 5 - I dusted off the Xbox last weekend and fired up Grand Theft Auto V again, and man that's still a massively fun game. Trevor just took over a strip club as his base of operations, so what's not to like right? This is also a major game that I'm looking forward to launching on the PC - I know I already have it on the Xbox, but I'll definitely get this for PC as well - better graphics (even though I'm seriously impressed with Rockstar for milking the Xbox 360 for all it has - the game looks amazing for such an old system!) and a more densely populated world.

Robocraft - another free to play game on Steam - my buddy told me about this, and the only time I play it is when I join him, but damn what a fun little game! You build your robots from the ground up. You kill the other team's robots. You take over their base. You don't respawn. Lots of fun!

Here's what I'm looking forward to in the upcoming months:

Dragon Age: Inquisition - I loved the first Dragon Age game, and never played the second one (thank goodness, I heard it was terrible!). From what I've seen about the 3rd one though, it looks amazing! I just hope EA doesn't screw it up by adding micro-transactions - in my opinion the bane of all gamers' existence!

GTA 5 for PC - can't wait for this to come to PC - I like my Xbox, but I've always been a PC gamer first!

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor - I'm still a bit skeptical about this one, but it seems interesting... Will keep my eye on it...

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequal - you can play as Claptrap, and you can buttstomp enemies. What's not to look forward to! hehe...

Civilization: Beyond Earth - I've always liked the Civilization games, and this one looks even more awesome! Can't wait for doing "just one more turn" into the night!

Limit Theory - My jaw drops to the ground every time I see what Josh has achieved. The man's a genius! A fully procedural space simulation game with all the bells and whistles! I think I'm even more excited about this one than Star Citizen.

There are so many games coming out in the near future, the 6 I mentioned above are at the top for now though. It's exciting again to be a gamer.

What are you looking forward to?

Diablo 3 patch 2.1 is out

Howdy people, the next major patch for Diablo 3 is out, version 2.1 this time. It introduces a few cool new features, like seasons, leaderboards, greater rifts and even a way to get to the realm the treasure goblins teleport to.

This video by Blizzard themselves summarises it nicely:

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to control your Galaxy Note 3 from your PC

I have a client who asked me to look into how they can provide support to their own clients with Whatsapp, but not have to sit with a phone, and rather do it from a PC, or something similar.

I looked at getting MHL connectors for a phone, connecting that to a PC screen with HDMI connection, and then also adding a bluetooth keyboard for the phone, but that all turned out to be quite a pricey option!

Then I did some searching and got to a solution where you can actually take control of your phone (in my case my Galaxy Note 3) from your PC by using good old TeamViewer! I first thought this isn't possible, but it turns out it is, and I tried it, and it works great!

Here's how:

Obviously you need TeamViewer loaded on your PC - get that from here.

Then, you'll need the Mobile TeamViewer app on your phone as well - here's the one you need. It's called TeamViewer QuickSupport.

The first time you open it up, it will ask you to download and install another app that's apparently needed as well - for my phone it was the QS Add-On: Samsung - get that here. There are several of these available for other manufacturers as well...

Now it's as simple as running the app, and entering the number it gives you on your TeamViewer on your PC. You'll have to allow your PC to connect to your phone, and then you'll get this:

And at the top left, you'll see Remote Control - you'll have to allow it once again on your phone, but that should do it, you now should have control of your phone from our PC. Pretty sweet!

I must say, it works very well. I haven't tested it long term for things like battery usage or the device getting too hot or stuff like that.

I'm also sure plenty of other Android devices will work with it because I saw several QS apps on the Play store. Anyway, enjoy controlling your phone with your pc!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Product Review: D-Link 1360 Wireless Access Point

We recently moved into a new place, which is quite a bit bigger than our previous place, and our study is on the one end of the house, and our main bedroom on the opposite end. My ADSL router's wireless just doesn't reach our bedroom, and I decided to remedy that by getting the D-Link 1360 Access Point, specifically to use as a wireless signal repeater, which according to their website it can do.

It cost just over R400 here in South Africa, which is around $35-$40 for those interested... Anyway, I opened the box, which has a very short network cable, the power supply, a manual (with 3 pages of English) and the two antennas.

According to the manual, you should connect it via the LAN cable to your PC to do the initial setup - you then access the device by either going to http://dlinkap or - doing that for the first time allows you to do the setup for it - you can select from 3 options - one of which is Wireless repeater, which supposedly boosts an existing wifi signal - the sole reason I bought the device.

I used the manual setup option, and it found my existing wireless SSID without a problem, and I entered my password, and the device rebooted.

The first time, it worked ok. Rebooting takes a good few minutes, and after that, my PC connected to my network via the device wirelessly, so I assumed that it is working.

I powered down the device, and moved it to the living room, which is in the middle of the house, and our bedroom is one room over. Switched it on, and it looked like my phone connected to it without a problem, and it actually worked fine in our bedroom - full signal strength. I was impressed. "Was" is the word I want to put my emphasis on in that sentence. When we turned in for the night, I wanted to connect again, but nothing. It kept saying "obtaining IP address" and just didn't get passed that. It did eventually connect to the wireless network, but I couldn't access the internet, and my Note 3 just kept on saying "your internet connection is unstable". The iPad also connected eventually, but didn't work.

I was tired of struggling with the thing, so I went to sleep, hoping I could figure out the next morning. Once again I tried everything. Rebooting, resetting and setting it up again. It's just not working as it should.

I didn't try to use it as an access point or so, but as a wireless repeater it sucks. It's a useless device, and it seems many other on the internet experiences the same issues (serves me right for not properly researching it before buying).

And I thought the fact that my ADSL router is also a D-Link device would make the two "more compatible" with each other, but no such luck. I even tried updating the firmware from D-Link's site - but my device's version is F1, and they only have options on their site for A, B and C.

So, if you plan on buying the D-Link DAP-1360 to use as a wireless range extender, don't. It doesn't work, even with a lot of fiddling. I'm returning mine.

As for a score, since it is not doing what I want it to, a cool 2/10 (the 2 points was pure generosity from my part, it worked for a few minutes at first...)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to get private co-op to work in Far Cry 3

Last night my good buddy and I decided to give Far Cry 3's co-op campaign a chance. We both like the single player game, but haven't played any form of multiplayer on it, and I knew it's got a dedicated co-op set of maps, so we thought what the hell...

We started the game, and discovered we needed to be friends on Uplay first, so we did that, and fired up the game again, and went into the Co-op section, I hosted a private match, invited my friend and that was as easy as that! We got in no problem whatsoever! Damn what a fun experience! Just tons of baddies to kill, and with us chatting and coordinating with voip it was really great!

We took our dinner break, and when we got back, the game didn't want to load. It just kept on saying "can't join game". What a huge pain this turned out to be - the only thing that changed since 30 minutes before that, was we now both had level 10 characters instead of brand new players.

We hit Google, and saw all kinds of nasty stuff about others experiencing the same thing, and Ubisoft not responding on any of it wherever someone asks on the official forums. And why would they, they're probably now too focused on Far Cry 4 anyway...

One thing that a lot of people kept mentioning was that it might be caused by additional network adapters - for example, a lot of people suggested removing stuff like Hamachi and the like. We tried that. We even disabled both our public Windows Firewalls. I tried connecting to the internet with a different ISP. My friend did too. I restarted the game 20 times. Nothing worked, and it was frustrating as hell!

We went on to try a public co-op match, and that worked without a problem (what's up with that??). Same goes for regular multiplayer (I got slaughtered by the way) - but not a PRIVATE co-op match - Can't join game it says the whole time.

Then I thought about the whole Borderlands 2 Online Lagging issue I got a fix for - I even blogged about how to go about doing that here - it basically comes down to using Teamviewer to set up a VPN between you and your friend, and then once that is up and running, playing the game as you normally would.

My friend said he doubt that this would fix the problem, since everyone everywhere mentions to disable such things. We were about to finally call it quits and give up, until I said to him "Dude, just humor me - let's get the Teamviewer VPN going and try it one last time".

So we did.

And it worked. It freaking worked! Instantly he could join my private co-op game in Far Cry 3. We played the train mission. And then the sniping challenge. It was glorious! I won, because I'm the better sniper of course. Also, it made me feel quite a lot better blowing the pirates' heads off! I cannot believe it actually worked - the exact opposite of what everyone was saying online.

So, if you and your buddy aren't getting connected on a private co-op match, get a Teamviewer VPN going - Click here to see how we did that for Borderlands 2 - once that's up and running, try again. Chances are it might just work!

Ahh the joys of it all!

Anyway, enjoy all the shooting co-op goodness Far Cry 3 has to offer, it's a blast!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Having Headset and Speakers connected at the same time, and easily switching between them

Ok, that was a long title for this post hehe - here's a nice little trick I just figured out. I have a headset that I generally use when playing games or watching movies and I don't want to bother the wife. But, it's always a pain, because I have to plug in the headset (yes I'm that lazy) when I want to use it, and then unplug it again when I want to switch back to my speakers.

In the "Sound" control panel option you can easily switch between the two, so what I did was create a shortcut to Sound, and I connected a unique shortcut to it, so now it's as simple as hitting the shortcut at any time, and then setting whichever device I want as the default.

Now, my headset, the Steelseries Siberia V2 USB came with it's own USB sound card, so I'm not sure if this will work if you just connect a headset to your front audio jacks (maybe leave a comment and inform us about that if you want). So, in Sound, it shows up as a separate device.

Here are the steps:

Go to the Control Panel, and find the Sound icon:

Right-click on that, and click on Create Shortcut - it will appear as if nothing happens, but on your Desktop there will now be a Shortcut to Sound. Go find it...

Once you've found it, right click on that, and click Properties at the bottom, which should open up this screen:

See there in the middle it says Shortcut Key - go there, and simply hit the buttons you want to assign the shortcut to (mine, for example, is Ctrl+Shift+Alt+] ).

Now, whenever I want to switch, I just hit my shortcut, and this will pop up:

As you can see, I have two sets of speakers - the one is my regular on-board sound card (Realtek) and the other one is the USB sound card that came with my headset. Only my headset has a mic, so in the above shot the little phone icon is there because of that (default communications device), and my normal Speakers are set as the Default Device.

If I want to switch to my headset, I simply right-click on the top one, and click on "Set as default device":

Now all sound will come through the headset. If you want to switch back to the normal speakers, simply do the same for the speakers and you'll be good to go!

Did you know the difference between headphones and headset - it's called a "headSET" when the headphones has a mic as well - otherwise it's just headphones :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 Days to Die - A Zombie Survival Crafting RPG FPS Open World game

My buddy and I got ourselves each a copy of 7 Days to Die in the previous Steam Sale. And we are not sorry that we did! We took a bit of a chance on it, seeing it's still in Alpha and was released on Early Access, but damn, it's very good so far!

The game was Kickstarted last year (click here for the Kickstarted page), and they managed to get backers to pledge a cool half a million Dollars, and they only wanted $200k to make the game.

The game is currently version 8.8 Alpha (we started playing when it was 8.7), and it's already such a fun game! It does have a few bugs, but that is definitely to be expected from an Alpha build on Early Access.

Although you can play the game solo, I highly recommend to rather play with a friend coop. I've never been a fan of Zombie Survival games where other players are a bigger threat than the actual zombies. There are tons of servers online to join, but you can also host a game yourself, which is how my friend and I are playing at the moment. It did take some tinkering to get it to work properly, but once you have your settings and port forwarding stuff sorted, it's relatively smooth sailing after that.

You start the game in a random spot on the map, which looks like this:

On you, you only have a very limited number of items, like a bottle of water, a bandage, some food and so on. The first order or business would be to get something to defend yourself with - you can punch things, but using a weapon is of course better. The first thing I always make is a crossbow (Daryl style!) - the materials you need is quite straightforward for that (some grass, which you turn into plant fibers, some sticks, and then for the bolts some more sticks, feathers and sharpened stones).

You will also get hungry and thirsty soon, so your second order of business will be to scavenge for some food and water. This comes in various forms, and you can even hunt some of the wildlife and cook their meat (you can even make bacon and eggs!)! Just be careful though, carrying the raw meat in your backpack smells, and that can attract zombies real quick...

After you got some food and water to help you survive your first night, it'll be a good idea to find somewhere to actually stay safely for the night - best bet here will be to find a house with either a basement or an attic (you'll have to clear the house of zombies first...), or even a place with a ladder so that you can get on the roof.

The thing is, when night comes, the zombies start running and they become a lot stronger. Not fun when a bunch of them are chasing you believe me! (don't worry, if this puts you off the game, you can always set your own game to have it so that zombies never run).

The zombies pretty much do what they're supposed to - stand around, chase deer, or if they hear or smell you they'll start going after you. If you outrun them, they'll eventually forget about you. You can distract them with sounds as well.

You can craft all kinds of things. You can literally build a house from scratch. Their is a detailed physics system, so you won't see blocks hanging in the air in this game like Minecraft. Zombies will also damage whatever is between you and them, and if they break part of your building's foundation, the whole thing might just come tumbling down.

Once a day (by default) a plane drops some supplies. This can be antibiotics or other medicine, crafting recipes, ammo, guns, building materials, etc. One thing I really hope for is that the devs get a better sound effect for when the plane fly over, it doesn't sound too good at the moment hehe. But that is a tiny thing that bothers me.

You can dig into the ground (use a shovel when it's dirt, and a pickax when you hit stone!). Your tools have durability, but you can make new ones or repair existing ones. You can even, once you've learned the right recipe, reload your own ammo. Firstly, you'll need a forge (stones and a pipe). You will also need bullet tips - for that you need a mold. To make the mold you need an existing bullet tip (get that from a regular bullet, simply take it apart) and some clay. Clay you get by digging in the ground. The mold you use at the forge with lead to make more bullet tips. Lead you get from scavenging the world for stuff like fishing sinkers, or car batteries. Next, bullet casings - this you can loot from objects in the world, usually trash, or you can make your own. Once again you need a mold, and your material here is brass (brass you get from breaking down things like trophies or door knobs). Lastly, gun powder - you can also get some in the world, or you can make your own. That's luckily easy - simply take a pickax and break down boulders you see. Sometimes they'll give you coal and potassium nitrate powder, which you combine to make the powder. Finally, at a blistering speed, you can combine your bullet tips, bullet casings and gun powder to make ammo.

You get all kinds of zombies/enemies. Fat ones (which soak a lot more damage, and usually drops spam for some reason), cheerleaders, naked zombies, nurse zombies (sometimes carrying medical stuff), zombie dogs, and even giant wasps (they drop honey, good for hydration and hunger!). Depending on where you are, like the snow biome for example, you get lumber jack zombies, and they're also tough as nails.

Another way to get a steady supply of food is to start a farm. You need a gardening hoe of course, and water (which you can bring with a bucket if you're not close). Then you need seeds (funny how you get potato seeds in the game hehe), which you can now plant. But be careful, the stupid zombies can trample your crops! Harvest regularly, and make some blueberry pie - good stuff!

I can carry forever about this cool game. My suggestion would be just get it and see for yourself. Just keep in mind it's still in alpha, and with that comes bugs (we've experienced a few believe me - nothing game breaking though...), and regular updates which will probably mean you'll lose your save game. Still, it's a great game, and the potential for a phenomenal game is definitely there. The next update for it, version 9, is due for 8 August according to the devs, and it's gonna be a big one! (check out their website)

Get it on Steam here


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My ever growing list of Steam games

I've been on Steam since I got Half-Life 2 back in December 2004. At first, I hated Steam, like I'm sure many other people also did back then. But now, I get sad when a game I want isn't on Steam. As such, I have, over the last few years, purchased many a game on Steam, and here's my list as of 15 July 2014:

  1. 10,000,000
  2. 7 Days to Die
  3. AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome
  4. Adventures of Shuggy
  5. Age of Wonders III
  6. Alan Wake
  7. Alan Wake's American Nightmare
  8. And Yet It Moves
  9. Anomaly 2
  10. Anomaly Warzone Earth
  11. Aquaria
  12. Atom Zombie Smasher
  13. Avadon: The Black Fortress
  14. Awesomenauts
  15. Back to the Future: Ep1 - It's About Time
  16. Back to the Future: Ep2 - Get Tannen!
  17. Back to the Future: Ep3 - Citizen Brown
  18. Back to the Future: Ep4 - Double Visions
  19. Back to the Future: Ep5 - OUTATIME
  20. Bang Bang Racing
  21. Banished
  22. Bastion
  23. Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY Edition
  24. BioShock
  25. BioShock 2 
  26. BioShock Infinite
  29. Borderlands
  30. Borderlands 2
  31. Braid
  32. Broken Age
  33. Brutal Legend
  34. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
  35. Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box
  36. Cave Story+
  37. Cities in Motion 2
  38. Cogs
  39. Company of Heroes
  40. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
  41. Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
  42. Counter-Strike: Source
  43. Crayon Physics Deluxe
  44. Crusader Kings II
  45. Crysis 2 Maximum Edition
  46. Cubemen
  47. The Darkness II
  48. Darksiders
  49. Darwinia
  50. Dead Space
  51. Dear Esther
  52. DEFCON
  53. Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten
  54. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  55. Dishonored
  56. DLC Quest
  57. Dota 2
  58. Dungeon Defenders
  59. Dungeon Siege 2
  60. Dungeonland
  61. Dustforce
  62. EDGE
  63. Eets Munchies
  64. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  65. Eufloria
  66. Europa Universalis III
  67. Faerie Solitaire
  68. Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes
  69. Fallout: New Vegas
  70. Far Cry 3
  71. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
  72. FEZ
  73. Fieldrunners
  74. From Dust
  75. Frozen Synapse
  76. FTL: Faster Than Light
  77. Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition
  78. Garry's Mod
  79. Gemini Rue
  80. Ghost Master
  81. Gish
  82. Gnomoria
  83. Grand Theft Auto
  84. Grand Theft Auto 2
  85. Grand Theft Auto III
  86. Grand Theft Auto IV
  87. Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City
  88. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  89. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  90. Gratuitous Space Battles
  91. Gun Monkeys
  92. Half-Life 2
  93. Hammerflight
  94. Hector: Ep 1
  95. Hector: Ep 2
  96. Hector: Ep 3
  97. Hero Academy
  98. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing
  99. Infinity Wars
  100. Jack Lumber
  101. Jamestown
  102. Just Cause 2
  103. Kinetic Void
  104. King Arthur - The Role-playing Wargame
  105. King's Bounty: Armored Princess
  106. King's Bounty: Crossworlds
  107. King's Bounty: The Legend
  108. Left 4 Dead
  109. Left 4 Dead 2
  110. Legend of Grimrock
  111. LEGO MARVEL Super Heroes
  112. LIMBO
  113. Little Inferno
  114. Loadout
  115. Lugaru HD
  116. Machinarium
  117. Mafia II
  118. Magicka
  119. Mark of the Ninja
  120. McPixel
  121. Medal of Honor
  122. Men of War
  123. Men of War: Assault Squad
  124. Men of War: Red Tide
  125. Metro 2033
  126. Midnight Club II
  127. Mirror's Edge
  128. Monaco
  129. Mount & Blade
  130. Mount & Blade: Warband
  131. Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  132. Multiwinia
  133. Natural Selection
  134. Neverwinter
  135. NightSky
  136. Orcs Must Die
  137. Orcs Must Die 2
  138. Osmos
  139. Overlord
  140. Overlord: Raising Hell
  141. Overlord II
  142. Path of Exile
  143. PAYDAY: The Heist
  144. Penumbra: Overture
  145. Pid
  146. Pinball FX2
  147. Plants vs. Zombies: Game of the Year
  148. Poker Night at the Inventory
  149. Portal
  150. Puzzle Agent
  151. Puzzle Agent 2
  152. Really Big Sky
  153. Red Faction: Armageddon
  154. Revenge of the Titans
  155. Risen 2 - Dark Waters
  156. Rochard
  157. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken
  158. Rogue Legacy
  159. Rome: Total War
  160. Sacred 2 Gold
  161. Sacrifice
  162. Saints Row 2
  163. Saints Row: The Third
  164. Sam & Max 301 - 305
  165. Samorost 2
  166. Sanctum
  167. Sanctum 2
  168. Serious Sam 3: BFE
  169. Serious Sam HD: First Encounter
  170. Serious Sam HD: Second Encounter
  171. Shadowgrounds
  172. Shadowgrounds: Survivor
  173. Shank
  174. Shatter
  175. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  176. SiN
  177. Sleeping Dogs
  178. Sniper Elite V2
  179. Snuggle Truck
  180. Solar 2
  181. Space Pirates and Zombies
  182. SpaceChem
  183. Space Run (added on 16 July 2014)
  184. Spiral Knights
  185. Spirits
  186. Splice
  187. Starbound
  188. Steal Bastard Deluxe
  189. Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  190. Super Meat Boy
  191. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  192. Swords and Soldiers HD
  193. Terraria
  194. ThreadSpace: Hyperbol
  195. Time Gentlemen, Please!
  196. Toki Tori
  197. Torchlight
  198. Torchlight II
  199. Tower Wars
  200. Towns
  201. Trackmania Stadium
  202. TRAUMA
  203. Trine
  204. Trine 2
  205. Tropico 4
  206. Universe Sandbox
  207. Uplink
  208. Vessel
  209. A Virus Named TOM
  210. VVVVVV
  211. Waking Mars
  212. The Walking Dead
  213. Wallace & Gromit Ep 1 - 4
  214. War of the Roses
  215. Warhammer 40,000 - Dawn of War - GOTY Edition
  216. Warlock - Master of the Arcane
  217. Wizorb
  218. World of Goo
  219. X3: Terran Conflict
  220. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  221. Zen Bound 2
There you have it. I will play all of those games. No, that's probably a lie. I really want to, but I just know that time and the willpower will never allow it. A lot of the games I have tried so far, but most I haven't even installed yet.

Here is what I'm currently playing though:
  • Infitiy Wars
  • Banished
  • 7 Days to Die
  • Batman
  • Age of Wonders III
I would like to do mini reviews of the games I like, so I'll link to those from this page as I do them :) Anyway, feel free to let me know in the comments what games you reckon I absolutely MUST add to my collection, and why (the games I really like playing are bold, that will give you an idea of what I like...)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Another Logitech product just failed

In a previous post I bitched quite a bit about how Logitech products are failing me. And now, yet again another Logitech product I own has failed me. Shame on you Logitech!

This time around it's my Z506 5.1 Speakers. They just died without provocation. I read up and it seems this too is quite a common thing, it seems something vibrated loose inside. My father-in-law is good with such things, so he is checking to see if he can figure out what's wrong with them.

Come on Logitech, stop making stuff that breaks! Or is this normal for stuff that is out of warranty with you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Drupal Modules I've used so far

For the last 6 months or so I've been working in Drupal, which is one of the top open source content management systems out there. I was kinda thrown in the deep end with it - I had a customer who really wanted me to do their website, and was actually willing to pay me to learn Drupal. So I did. And I'm super impressed with it as a CMS.

It is quite a complicated system to learn from scratch, but not impossible. I silly mistake to make is to assume that you know Drupal if you already know PHP, HTML, JS, CSS and MySQL. Knowledge in those things help, yes, but it's a brand new system to get to know.

Anyway, one thing I really like is that chances are, there's a module for that - this is a very popular saying among Drupal developers - because it's such a popular CMS, there are thousands of developers doing the grunt work and help expand and develop the platform, and as I found with my first big Drupal site, 9 out of 10 times there actually is a module for that!

Here is a list of the modules I used with my first big Drupal site:


This was one of the first modules I needed for my site. If you want to display any kind of data in any kind of way, this is the module to get. And the best part, it is fully theme-able :)

Some ways I used it was to show a random Youtube video on a specific page, or determine how a specific page's info gets rendered. I'll never build a Drupal site without this module.

Video Embed Field

As I just mentioned above, I needed a new content type field for video clips, and this one did the trick just fine. It allows you to add a field to your content type that specifically takes either a Youtube clip or a Vimeo clip. You can also specify things like the whether the video should auto play and things like that.

This also creates a new setting under admin for video styles (similar to image styles).


My client required various forms with many different fields and various emails that needs to be sent with each submission. Webform was the perfect solution for what I required. You can create as many fields for your form as you want, and then you can use those forms in several ways. For example, you can send a thank you message to the person who filled in their form, specify what the thank you page should be, limit how many times each person can submit a form, etc.

After the form gets submitted, you can create multiple emails that needs to get sent out, each with its own settings, like to and from addresses, subject lines and custom messages, etc.

So, if you need people to fill out a slightly more complex form, get this one, it's great!

Search Config

This module I used to limit which content types and things like that show up in search results. Very handy if you have multiple content types, but only want people to find a specific kind.

There are a few more, but these are the ones I'll always have loaded on my future Drupal sites...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Diablo 3, better loot on torment difficulty

In my previous post I was complaining a bit about the loot drops in Diablo 3 - my thoughts were that why should you play at torment levels when legendary drops still happen at Normal difficulty. Well, it appears that while legendaries do indeed drop at the pre-torment difficulties, there are certain items that can only drop when your difficulty is set to Torment 2 and above (I might be wrong about the 2 part, but yes).

After doing some research, I saw that there are some really cool gear items that you can find when you push the difficulty up to Torment 2 and above! For example, there are legendary potions, and class specific set items!

Here are some links that I found handy


It appears that certain acts also have specific drops from the Horadric caches that you get for completing bounties, with the exception of Act 4, where any of the Act-specific items can drop from the cache.

Also, with my Level 70 Demon Hunter I have actually gotten a piece of the Natalya's Vengeance set already, didn't realise that it was because I was playing on Torment :)

So, if you want the good gear, go ahead and play at least on Torment 2 ;) I did a rift run last night with my Witch Doctor, and the boss dropped a very nice legendary ring. It did take a while to finish it though, a good hour or so!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Diablo 3 Loot drops: Normal vs Torment difficulty

I've been playing Diablo 3 almost exclusively since Reaper of Souls came out a couple of weeks ago. I must say, Blizzard has really turned the game around, and it is now what it was supposed to be from the get go two years ago. Anyway, I'm very happy with the game as it is now, and I try to play every spare moment I can.

One thing kinda bugs me though.

Last night, my good buddy and I decided to do some gear farming, and played the game on Normal difficulty. Me with my recently leveled-up-to-70 Witch Doctor, and him with his nicely geared Crusader. It was an absolute breeze. Elite enemies we killed with two or three shots, and even bosses didn't last long. Needless to say, we killed a lot of enemies extremely quickly.

Now, to get to the reason for this post - the loot drops didn't feel any different. I got a two legendary weapons for my Witch Doctor, and even a few legendary plans and a set plan. My friend got a set item and a couple of legendaries as well.

After a while my thought was that it didn't feel much different in terms of loot drops than playing the game on any of the Torment settings. The loot that dropped still felt pretty much the same, and the legendaries still came along like it always does.

I'm now wondering why would you want to play the game at higher difficulty levels, especially when it comes to looking for new and better loot. At the normal difficulty you kill the mobs so much quicker and the amount of cool drops evens out.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that for now - I didn't read up on this elsewhere, so maybe your chances of getting specific torment level loot doesn't exist at lower difficulties or something like that, but last night it didn't seem that way at all...

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Getting to know Drupal

I always kicked against open source CMS's quite heavily, mostly because I personally found that regular people, and by that I mean people who aren't in IT or web development, struggle to use them.

That was why I created my own CMS. The whole idea behind it was to be a very straightforward way of managing stuff in a database. It didn't have advanced things like modules or templates and stuff like that, the backend and frontend were two separate entities.

At the end of last year I had a client who really wanted me to do their site in Drupal, and even offered to pay me to learn how to work with it. Their reason is a good one - if I die (sounds a bit harsh, but it's a legitimate concern for a big client), who will be able to carry on with the site. Drupal is one of the top three CMS's on the internet.

Anyway, I was very reluctant, but I thought, hey might as well do it and learn something new. I started studying Drupal.

I watched numerous tutorial series about the general ins and outs of the system, how to create your own custom modules and how to make themes for the system (they call the "look and feel" of the website a theme).

I must admit, I am really surprised at how powerful a system it actually is. And with a little bit of tinkering, you can get it to do pretty much whatever you want! Uh, rather, A LOT of tinkering as was the case with my first Drupal site.

So far I have learned a great deal about how it works, and I can see that I still have a lot to learn, but if you're in the same boat as me, and have some knowledge in PHP, HTML and CSS, give Drupal a go. It's actually a pretty great system, and I look forward to developing more for it in the future.

Maybe I'll eventually post some of the tips and tricks that I develop for myself on this blog, so check back soon :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

My thoughts on Diablo 3 Loot 2.0 update

I was one of those who were extremely excited about Diablo 3 when it finally came out. And I really enjoyed playing the game. One thing really bugged me though - I didn't ever get any decent gear drops, I literally had to hit the Auction House after each level up just to be able to survive my encounters. I ended up leveling up my Demon Hunter to about level 46, my Barbarian to about level 27 and a few more to the early teens. No cool gear drop worth mentioning.

I know why Blizzard decided to do an Auction House - they wanted to keep an eye on things, because in Diablo 2 people sold gear all the time to other players, so Blizzard wanted their share of the pie as well of course. Anyway, it really hurt the game more than anything in my opinion.

I lost interest very quickly, and didn't even level one character to level 60. I wasn't in the mood to grind till I level up, and then spend an hour searching for nice new gear in the Auction House.

Last year I learned that Blizzard has decided to finally take the whole Auction House out of the game, and I was really glad to hear that. Furthermore, they've patched the game with their new Loot 2.0 system, which is also a pre-patch for the new expansion coming out.

After Loot 2.0 came out, I kept a close eye on the internet to see what the people had to say, and I was happy to learn that it was good news. Great news even! It was a new game!

I decided to dust of the section of my hard drive where Diablo 3 was installed, and started it up again on Saturday. First thing I noticed was that the difficulty settings has changed, and you can increase or decrease the difficulty at any time.

I started a new Witch Doctor, and quickly went to about level 20 in a few hours - there's currently a double XP buff active in the game, I guess that really helped. The loot drops have been amazing! Finally I'm getting gear in every game that improves my character. I've even had two orange items (legendaries) drop as well, and BOTH were actually usable by my character!

I've upped my difficulty to Master, and I'm surviving so far! It feels like a new game, so if you too were disappointed in Diablo 3 because of the loot issues, you should definitely give it a try again. The new Loot 2.0 system is awesome, and it really makes the game fun again.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pixel Piracy, from the makers of Terraria

This morning I saw a post on Facebook about Pixel Piracy, and it was made by the same guys who made Terraria. I found myself immediately intrigued. Terraria claimed over 275 hours of my time - that in anyone's book is money well spent!

Now, I haven't bought Pixel Piracy just yet, but I think I might just do it. Check out this gameplay video, looks really cool hey!

It's on Steam now as an Early Access title for $15, but with 33% off :) I will definitely give it a try sometime...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Afrihost at it again

I just got this email from Gian Visser, the CEO of Afrihost (Yes I'm sure it's an automated email, but I don't care):

We have a gift waiting for you...


Because we're sincerely grateful for your business and wanted to say 'Thank you' for trusting us with your internet and for sticking with us through thick and thin.

So there are free, fresh GBs waiting for you in your ClientZone right now.

Here's how to claim your extra GBs:

- Click this link
- You'll see your Bonus Calculator
- Press the 'Show My Bonus' button
- You'll be given a percentage of your
  monthly GBs
- Your account will be automatically 
  topped up with these extra GBs for the 
  rest of the month
- This costs you absolutely NOTHING

What's the catch?

There isn't one! Enjoy!

Have a spectacular weekend

CEO, Afrihost

And here's what I got:

Hehe, that makes me a happy chappy!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Galaxy Note 3 and 4k Video Recording

One of the features of the Galaxy Note 3 was that it's camera can capture 4k video. That has a 8.3 mega pixel resolution of  3840 x 2160. That's huge!

Anyway, after I got my phone, I only saw full HD as an option for recording video, and it's not a mistake. You see, there are two versions of the Note 3 - the one I've got has the 1.9Ghz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5420 3G processor, and the other one has the 2.3Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 LTE one.

That probably means I don't have LTE either, but to be honest, I'm not missing it, or the 4k recording. My phone is blazingly fast, and pretty much anything I throw at it, it handles without breaking a sweat.

I've also read that even in some countries, the 4k feature is also missing on the Snapdragon version.

I only think that once 4k TV's become mainstream then this might be something you'd want, but here in South Africa we're not even close to having affordable 4k TV's.

Anyway, bottom line, my Galaxy Note 3 is awesome, I'll never go down to a smaller phone again. And I still use the stylus! :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to play the Loadout Annihilation game mode

Last night we played the Annihilation game mode of Loadout. At first, I had no clue as to what the hell was going on, but caught on quite quickly. It is basically a combination of 3 of the other game modes, with a few twists of course - and it's a huge amount of fun!

Firstly, to understand the other game modes:

Death Snatch

This is Loadout's version of classic death match. You run around and kill people. The twist here, however, is whenever you die, you drop a Blutonium vial. You must collect this item in order to score the actual points. This also means that if someone snipes you from far away (which I personally hate a great deal), they don't get the points unless he/she or a teammate picks up the vial. And, your team mates can get your vial, and prevent the opposing team from scoring. A very nice take on regular old boring death match indeed!


Everyone knows Capture the Flag - you each have a base with a flag, and your job is to go over to the enemies' base, grab their flag and return it to your own, while stopping the enemies from taking your flag. You can also only score if your own flag is safe. So, how Jackhammer works is basically the same, except the "flag" in Loadout is a massive hammer. And the nice thing here is that the hammer doubles as an all powerful melee weapon! And each hammer kill charges it, making it more valuable (you only have 5 hits though, so use them wisely!). Take this back to your hammer, and you score. Also, prevent the enemy from grabbing your hammer.


Blitz is quite similar to Battlefield where there are points to capture on the map. In Loadout, however, only one point is active on the map at any given time, so everyone is gunning for the same point. Chaos ensues. Every time.


So, Annihilation is a combination of all three the above game modes, but adds even a few more things. The match is still 4 vs 4, and it's just as chaotic and frantic as the other modes.

Each team has a drop ship, which also serves as your spawn point for when you die. Inside the drop ship, there are three booster stations, and as you score points, you can buff your character. The options are Damage, Armor and Healing:

Next, you need to score points by doing the 3 objectives - that is killing the enemies and taking their dropped vials:

Capturing control points (you also get a 30 second damage boost after capturing a point!):

And stealing their hammer and bringing it back to yours:

Doing these activities not only score yourself points, but also your team. The points you score personally can be used at the charging stations at your drop ship to boost yourself. The points for your team, well that's basically your main goal. The first team to hit 10000 points gets access to the enemy drop ship (there's usually a shield preventing you from entering).

This opens up the last objective, and that is to deliver the ultimate smack down inside your opponent's base. You do this with a charged hammer - so, steal their hammer (which is at their side of the map remember), bring it back to your base to charge it:

Once it's charged, you now have to head back to their drop ship. Nice thing though is that you have unlimited hits (not the usual 5), so you can go mad and hit the baddies all you want. So, rush to their base, and smash this thing:

If you manage to do this, you win the match. And respect. And more Blutes to spend on additional goodies and upgrades for your arsenal.

This is by far my favourite game mode, and I can't wait for the devs to create some additional maps! Go ahead and give it a shot, with the above knowledge, you wont just run around like a headless chicken as I did in my first game! :)

Steelseries Siberia V2 USB - my first gaming session

Yesterday, I finally got my Steelseries Siberia V2 gaming headset, and I couldn't wait to do a proper gaming session with it. Now firstly, I'm not a pro gamer at all! A gaming session for me is playing for 2-4 hours.

Anyway, my buddy and I booted up Loadout last night, and I switched my headset over to the 7.1 channel emulation. Boy oh boy, I am not disappointed with my new headset at all! The sound is amazing, the mic works very well, and the best part, it's extremely comfortable. When you look at the set, it looks quite big a bulky, and heavy, but it's really not. And the USB soundcard that came with the headset is definitely better than my regular onboard soundcard.

Here are some screenshots of the software (which you have to download - there's no driver disc with the device):

Not the prettiest interface, but it does the job it's supposed to. Here's what the USB soundcard looks like:

It's got volume control, and mute buttons for both the mic and the audio. It attached to your PC with a mini USB cable, which is included (I first thought it wasn't, but it just fell out when I opened the box).

It also includes an extra long audio cable, which is a nice touch.

Anyway, after the four hours session it was as if I never wore the headset. It's that comfortable. Loadout gameplay is a bit too frantic for me to have been able to figure out if the 8 channel sound made much of a difference, but I'm sure it did. Time will tell whether my gameplay improves as I get used to the directional sound :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Steelseries Siberia V2 USB Pro Gaming Headset

My awesome wife bought me this baby for our anniversary:

I just unpacked it, and I'm listening to some music now as I write this. I've got it loud. Very loud. And it sounds freaking amazing! I've never had a decent set of headphones, and I cannot believe how huge a difference it makes, even to something as simple as listening to music.

The bass is incredible, I can feel the set vibrate on my head, and the noise cancelling is spot on, I cannot hear anything from the outside world, not even me typing on the keyboard (can't hear that even when nothing is playing!).

And, when nothing is playing, you cannot even hear the slightest hiss in the background, they're dead silent! NICE!

I cannot wait to use it for this evening's Loadout session! I will definitely be updating this post with my experience :D

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Logitech G330 headphones

This post is basically a continuation of this one: - it was basically a summary of how Logitech, once one of my favourite computer peripheral brands, is failing me.

As you can see on the above post, I've gone through numerous Logitech devices, and they always seem to start failing or breaking after a while. Usually just out of the warranty period.

Anyway, on 14 October 2011 I bought myself a G330 gaming headset - now, firstly, it's not the top of range model at all, and it didn't cost me that much - ZAR313, which is around $30.

Anyway, so I've had it now for just over 2 years (2 years 4 months to be precise), and the pad on the left ear has torn off. I do not use it a lot, I don't ever go out to LANs, so I literally only use once, maybe twice a week for a gaming session. Or when I need to use the mic if I'm Skyping someone.

Here's what it looks like now:

As you can see, the ear pad is torn, and it's literally hanging by a thread. To be honest, I'm actually quite surprised that it lasted this long anyway, since it only has a 1 year warranty. Needless to say, I'm not gonna replace it with the same model, since this one is actually not very comfortable to use for more than an hour at a time.

The included USB connector that came with the headset also broke (probably about middle of 2013), but that didn't bother me too much, since I can just plug the headset in the front audio jacks on my PC.

My awesome wife is buying me a decent Steelseries headset for our anniversary, and I'll definitely be posting about that as soon as it arrives. Here's the one I'm going for - the SteelSeries Siberia V2 USB:

I know it looks a bit big and over the top, but from what I've read this one is extremely comfortable, and the sound quality is to notch! Can't wait to get it :)

Check it out on their website:

Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My top 3 Free to Play - Part 3: Loadout

I've always liked shooter action games, and I remember a buddy and I used to LAN (with coax cables nonetheless!) Half-life 1 a decade and a half ago. I grew up in a small town, and it was basically just the two of us who played. Every now and again a 3rd guy would join in, but that wasn't very often... Always had fun though :)

I've never been a huge online shooter player, I leveled up my Battlefield 3 character to about level 20, and that's pretty much it. I tried Team Fortress, but man I just couldn't get into it. I've never played Call of Duty, and I probably won't be taking part in the Titanfall beta which is going on right now. But, I was nonetheless intrigued when I saw Loadout pop up on my Steam home screen. I checked out some videos, and the curiosity totally overwhelmed me. I installed it (only about 2.1gig download, not too shabby!). See for yourself:

The idea behind the game is firstly it's a 3rd person shooter. Secondly, you get to craft your own guns. What I always hated about arena type games was the usual search for a cool gun after each respawn. Here, you have two gun slots, and a slot for equipment (like grenades or a shield). So, you decide which guns you'd like to take into the fight, and basically start each spawn with those items.

Also, with it being 3rd person, while running away, you can still shoot behind you. The in-game animations are also hilariously funny - one time, I got shot in the head and miraculously survived, but I was left with only a pair of floating eyes and a spine where my beloved head used to be. Getting blown up while running removes your lower body, and you keep on crawling a few extra feet in the direction you were headed. Even sometimes after dying, you lifeless corpse will have one final say by flipping off your killer!

What is also nice about the game is they don't have the normal game modes you'd expect, but very clever variations of the usual ones.

Instead of regular death match, they have Death Snatch - it works just like regular death match, except here you drop a Blutonium Vial when you die, which the other team must pick up to score the point. The nice thing is that your team can pick it up as well, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring. So after killing the enemy, you need to get that asap, otherwise it doesn't count.

Then you get Blitz, which is similar to Battlefield where you capture points. But instead with this one, only one of the many points on a given map is active at a time and can be captured. It makes for some frantic matches, since everyone is gunning for the same point at the same time (shotguns and grenades rule here hehe!). Only once you've captured the point for your team, does it actually count. And the only way to capture it is to basically stand still right next to the point itself (you can even do your character's taunt to make capturing faster, but you cannot move or shoot while taunting!), making you a very easy target! After capturing the point, a new one becomes active, and everyone guns for that one - lots of fun!

Jackhammer - my favourite game mode in Loadout - this is their variant on the very well-known capture the flag mode, but instead of capturing a flag and be all defenseless, you capture a massive hammer, which doubles as a one-shot killer melee weapon. Then it's just a case of returning it to your base, and your hammer needs to be in place as well. Each kill with the hammer makes the capture more valuable, but you only have a limited number of hits that you can dish out with the hammer.

Lastly, there's Extraction - scattered around the map are these heaps of Blutonium that each team's designated gathering must gather and take to one of the grinders spread across the map. For each successful drop, you get points. So, it's a rush to not only protect your team's gatherer, but also to try and take out the opposing team's. The role of gatherer gets swapped around randomly as the players get picked off.

Each match is a 4-on-4 game, so the games are very frantic and quick paced, which I really like. And most of the time 3 out of the 4 players in your team (you included hopefully) actually brings their part - not like some Battlefield matches where a lot of the time people just did their own thing and not work together.

Every item that you can customize your guns with level up as you use that gun - the barrels, magazines, stocks, damage type, etc. These things just take forever to level up though, so it's best to find a gun you really like and try to stick with it for a while. Your character also levels up of course, and eventually you start to unlock additional load-out slots (you can swap load-outs in-game which is cool!), avatars and extra gun slots.

As for gun customization - there is quite a huge variety of options here - you can select between beam, slug, bullet and launcher type weapons, but can customize them further. For example, I have a Tesla Beam Weapon with a sniper barrel and a heatsink - this shoots a solid electrical beam which shocks enemies, but also arcs to nearby enemies. My buddy has a RPG that he lays mines with. Some people have machines guns that heal teammates. And others have guns that shoot fireballs (being on fire is never fun, and I've burned to death on numerous occasions! Nice touch is being on fire makes my shock gun overheat faster!).

After each match, you get experience and Blutes - this is the in-game currency with which you can upgrade your weaponry and things like that. The only part where you can pay real money is to customize your character. There are various (and extremely hilarious!) taunts you can purchase, as well as various outfits for the 3 characters in the game. You can also buy additional load-outs for your character, but these you can unlock yourself if you're patient.

Loadout is a huge adrenaline rush, and the fast and frantic game play makes jumping in for 10 minutes in your break a possibility! I highly recommend it, and it's 100% free to play!

Lastly, one thing that I really really want to congratulate the devs on is how well the game handles latency. We play on European servers from South Africa, so our ping time is around 200-300ms, but you never even notice it at all when playing with others with sub-50ms pings. The net code really makes it feel as if you're all in the same room! So guys, well done, that's some stunning coding - the big guys can definitely learn from you!

Check their website: and on Steam:

And here's Part 1: Path of Exile and Part 2: Infinity Wars

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My top 3 Free to Play - Part 2: Infinity Wars

I've always quite liked CCG - that is, Collectible Card Games - I am a huge fan of Magic the Gathering and a have a huge box full of cards. I don't, unfortunately, play as much as I'd like though. Anyway, Infinity Wars just released their beta on Steam, click here for their website - also, check out this short intro video on what the game is about:

Firstly, I always like it when developers take a tried and tested game mechanic, but add a few twists and things like that of their own. Infinity Wars is a prime example of what I mean - firstly, instead of actually taking turns to play your game, and have several phases through which each turn goes, both players now play their cards at the same time. You cannot see what the other player is playing though, so that immediately introduces some form of surprise.

Also, the battlefield consists out of several zones:

There are four zones in total - Command, Support, Assault and Defense. Whenever you play a card, it goes to your support zone, and they generally have to wait 1 turn before you can move them out to either the Assault or Defense zones. If you place a card in the Assault Zone, you're basically attacking with it, and any cards in the Defense zone is to block any attackers from the other side. 

Each player generally starts with 100 life points, but to put a very nice twist on everything, each player also 100 morale points. When either of the two reaches zero, you lose the match. You lose life points when the enemy player has units in the Assault zone, and you in turn do not have any blockers (or adequate blockers) in your Defense zone. But, with the morale system, it's sometimes not wise to sacrifice your units to save health points, because when you lose units, you lose morale points too.

Each deck consists out of 3 command units - these also determine your deck's faction and which other cards you can have in your deck - these units are always available from the start of the game, but you still have to pay resources to play them - you can, however, put them directly into either the Defense or Assault zones. You can also play their abilities from the Command zone, which is also quite a nice feature.

The game is entirely free to play, and all of the cards in the game you can acquire without paying real money. All cards are also trade-able, and the devs promise an Auction House is in the pipeline. Just keep on playing the campaign and you will get in-game currency with which you can buy boosters and decks. You also gain levels as you play, and each level you gain, the game rewards you with a 15 card booster pack. Here is a very cool card I got from one of the boosters:

Infinity Wars resources works like this - each match you both start with 1 resource, which then increases with 1 after each turn. There are also 7 factions you can choose from - they are called Warpath, Flame Dawn, Genesis Industries, Cult of Verore and Descendants of the Dragon, Sleepers of Avarrach and The Exiles. You can read more about them here: - from what I understand, new factions will be added all the time, which is really gonna keep it interesting!

Just like other trading card games, each card in Infinity Wars has some really cool artwork on it, but they've gone a step further - each card's artwork is fully animated - it's a really nice touch!

Lastly, the developers have promised to bring the game to iOS and Android as well, and I think this will really let the game stand out more! So, if you like trading card games, and are looking for a really cool free one, give this a shot! It's plenty fun!

Give it a try on Steam here, and if you'd be so kind and enter my referral code (AEAD5) if you start playing, that'd be great! And feel free to add me as a friend in the game (lars).

Click here form Part 1: Path of Exile, and here's Part 3: Loadout

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My top 3 Free to Play - Part 1: Path of Exile

Ahh Free to Play - this always conjures up an image in my mind of micro-transactions that are inevitably needed to win the game, and sometimes even costing more in the end that some major AAA titles out there. EA is a huge culprit in this area, with the new mobile version of one of my favourite classics, Dungeon Keeper.

I haven't played it, and I don't intend on playing it. Apparently the cost of moving things along is just beyond ridiculous, but quite frankly, I didn't expect anything less from EA.

Luckily, their dumbass decisions have caused many awesome games to sprung up that are so-called Free to Play, and NOT Pay to Win. This is a really awesome way of actually going at the whole free to play model. You have this really awesome game that anyone can play in full, and actually complete the game without paying a cent (or be worried that you'll be up against other people who are way more powerful than you just because they have huge wads of unwanted money lying around).

This list will be my current top 3 Free to Play and NOT Pay to Win games.

1. Path of Exile

I have so far read only good things about this, so I decided to give it a shot as well. It's a online Action RPG game, available for free on Steam.

If you were, as I was, a bit disappointed in Diablo 3, then this might just be the hack 'n slash action you're looking for. One thing that really caught my attention was the unique game mechanics it has, as well as an enormous passive skill tree, I mean, look at this thing - go ahead, click on it!:

Here's also a link to a very cool version of it showing you what kind of buffs and stuff comes from where:

Anyway, the only real money you can spend on Path of Exile is for vanity items that make you character stand out a bit more. There's no buying cool gear or buffs that will help you perform better in the game at all. Awesome!

The other cool mechanic these guys have come up with is instead of having set skill trees for each character class, you can pretty much decide which direction you want to take. Skills come in the form of skill gems (which also level up as you play, by the way) and you then socket these gems into your gear. You can swap them out at any time, and the three types you get are green, red and blue. Green is dexterity based, red strength based and blue is of course magic based. Don't worry, there are plenty of skills to ensure you have a unique build!

It is very possible for your tanking warrior to have some blue gems in his arsenal as well, or even that your powerful sorcerer shoots with a bow.

All of the character classes share the passive skill tree above, but they start at different locations of it, but you can steer your character in any direction you want.

Another feature that I really like is that they ditched gold or credits as a currency. In Wraeclast, which is where the game takes place (it's kind of like a purgatory place you get exiled to, hence the name of the game I guess). Instead, you use in game items like identify scroll, town portal scrolls, and various others to do the trading and crafting with. It's a very refreshing way of doing it, and it's one of my favourite features in the game.

I've now leveled up a character to about level 25, and I'm really enjoying it. It also does a coop game very nicely (although I've only played with one other person at a time).

The general ratings of about 8-8.5/10 is spot on. This is an excellent ARPG, and the value is unbeatable! Feel free to ditch Diablo 3 for this one, you won't be disappointed!

I'll be posting my other two games shortly, so be sure to check back soon!

Click here for Part 2 - Infinity Wars and here for Part 3 - Loadout