Tuesday, April 28, 2015

GTA 5 on PC - Awesome Co-op - eventually...

My awesome wife bought me GTA 5 for PC as an anniversary gift. I already own it on my Xbox 360, but I always knew that the PC version will be the definitive version by a long shot!

The game arrived a day late, but I didn't mind too much, since we had some friends staying over and I knew there wouldn't be time to play even if I wanted to. I did the install of the SEVEN discs, and was greeted by a nice 5 gig day 1 patch. Anyway, I let that run and started the game. Yes, this is the definitive version for sure. Indeed!

Sadly, I haven't had much time to put into the game as of yet, but over the weekend I finally got a good amount of GTA 5 in, and my good friend Jayson also got his copy last week, so we were extremely eager to boot up the game and do some co-op stuff! I never played GTA 5 online on my Xbox, so I didn't really know how it works and stuff, but it basically comes down to what they call game sessions. When you join GTA 5 online, you join an existing session which can include up to 15 other random players.

I did, however, see the menu options for creating closed friends-only sessions or invite-only sessions, so we tried doing those. And damnit, it just didn't want to work :( Jayson couldn't join my game, even though he saw my invite and I couldn't join him. We did manage, however, to play together on pre-existing sessions, which obviously included other players...

When you start, there's an optional tutorial section which we both did, and this helped us reach about level 4 with our characters, but after that we wanted to start playing together.

The first couple of things we did was a race here and there, and a few other players joined in as well. We both sucked big time against the guys with better cars and more experience - but, racing wasn't the reason we wanted to play the game together. We wanted to do co-op missions like the missions you do in the single player game, but I couldn't figure out how to do that, because every icon on the map were either deathmatches or races or something where you play against each other...

I hit up Google, and found out that the cool co-op missions only start when you reach level 5. Duh!! hehe...

Anyway, the first night we didn't play too much, only stopping at level 4 - why? Because we spent most of the night just trying to join each other's games - we were a bit disappointed in how much we struggled doing that. We gave up late into the night, and tried again yesterday. We had a lot more time, so we hit up Google to figure out how to get it to work properly.

Once again, it seems that port forwarding on my router as well as our good old fashioned Teamviewer VPN did the trick.

Port forwarding settings for GTA 5 for PC:

For the PC version of GTA 5, you should do port forwarding on your router for UDP ports 6672 and 61455-61458.

Then, get a TeamViewer VPN going between you guys, and it should work a lot better! (here's how to get that going).

How to play GTA 5 for PC online with just your friends:

When that's up and running, start the game as you normally would, but go into the Story Mode first - once you're in the game, hit Esc to bring up the menu, and click on the Online tab. At the bottom of that menu, you'll see it says Play GTA 5 Online - click on that, which opens a new menu with a bunch of additional options, like Go, Closed Crew Session, Closed Friend Session, Invite Only Session, etc.

We used Closed Friend Session (obviously make sure you and your buddies are friends on the Social Club). This means I'm basically hosting the game (I think). Once you're in, your friends have to go to the Friends menu and click on your name and click Join session. This should get you to play together without worrying about other people ganking you the whole time or being mean by killing you over and over hehe :)

So, our co-op experience of GTA 5 on PC

Basically, it's the most fun I've had in a co-op game since we beat the Warcraft 3 Tower Defense map called Burbenog back in 2005/2006. We played about the first 5 or 6 missions given by the NPC's (Simeon and Gerald) and they were an absolute blast! It was what we both were hoping the co-op experience would be. The first missions were really easy, but it got harder rather quickly! The nice thing though, is you can play them over and over again, excellent for trying different tactics or upping the difficulty (gaining more money and experience for successfully completing it!).

I don't have any screenshots to share, but we foresee a huge amount of GTA 5 PC online gaming in our future, and I'm sure you'll be reading lots about it here in the days, weeks and months to come!

Grand Theft Auto 5 for PC is the best version of the game by far. You are missing out if you're a gamer and you're not playing it. Get it, and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ludum Dare - creating a game in 72 hours

My good friend Jayson asked me to join him in the next Ludum Dare - for those out there who don't know what that is, it's basically a competition (although there isn't really anything to be won, except for exposure and the oh-so-needed experience) where you can take part in either the compo or jam - for the compo you must create everything in the game yourself, and you have 48 hours to complete your game in, and in the jam you get 72 hours, but you have the ability to opt-out of various aspects, like sound or graphics.

Another interesting part of the dare is they give you the theme! This time around it was "unconventional weapon"...

I was a bit skeptical to join in, but decided to go for it! My Unity skills aren't close to as good as Jayson's, so he was in charge of coding, and I decided to go for the one thing that really makes me uncomfortable - graphics! The whole idea, after all, is to move you out of your comfort zone and to let you push yourself. And I'm very glad I did!

The dare started Saturday morning at 3am for us (local time in South Africa of course), and we were greeted with nice load shedding on Saturday morning between 10am and 12pm. Haha, we had to laugh at the additional challenges we would face being in deep dark Africa. We had load shedding the next day as well, and Jayson had internet woes a plenty!

Anyway, the theme, Unconventional Weapon, was quite not what we expected, so we both wrote down a bunch of ideas for that. I had stuff like Bovine Launchers (a cow cannon if you will), Mainstream guns with which you kill hipsters, and a bar code scanner. Jayson thought of a dog bowl hehe...

We went with the bar code scanner, and after we discussed it a bit, we decided that the main protagonist would be none other than a QR code whose aim is to get to the other side of a supermarket and let yourself get scanned to disarm a bomb. On your path to glory you would face one of two enemies - the evil bar code scanner shooting you with powerful waves slowing your progress (or ultimately bumping you off the shelf!) or a shopping trolley toting a general electric mini gun that shoots pencils - because why not! The game is called AgentQR :D

I'm going to post the images here now, and feel free to mock and ridicule me, as I don't have much of a artistic bone to even come close mentioning..........

The evil bar code scanner:

I made that thing from SCRATCH in Photoshop! The flames really helped bring out the evilness of it! :)

Next, the shopping trolley with the pencil shooting general electric mini gun:

Jayson didn't like the original wheels I had on, so I decided to show my disgust at him for giving the trolley a very nice set of expensive alloy rims and low profile tires. That's right!

Damn that's bad haha!

I also had to design the level, which included a backdrop (which I kinda like!):

And some items for the background inside the supermarket:

I made the fridge FROM SCRATCH hehe, and the cool looking window. Lastly, some items to block the way for our hero, like Milk, boxes, coffee cans, toilet paper and cereal (these were the easiest I could come up with haha):

And lastly, our Hero:

We made the game in the 72 hours we were given. And it was an immense amount of fun, and both me and Jayson learned a hell of a lot! I realised that if I give some effort, I can actually manage to make not too bad graphics, and Jayson made his first ever platform game.

The only thing we opted out for was sound - I tried recording some sound effect with my phone, but that failed miserably!

If you also took part in the dare, please vote for us, and if not, feel free to check it out anyway and let me know what you think!


Play it on the web here: http://www.alistersoftware.co.za/projects/AgentQR/Web.html (Just use any browser other than Chrome, they don't allow the Unity Web Player anymore)

Friday, April 17, 2015

GTX 970

Hehe, the title of this blog post really makes me happy. If you've read through my blog, you would have seen that I was due to purchase a GTX 960 graphics card in the upcoming months, but something bugged me a little with that card... It's also a mid range card, like my GTX 560 ti was back in 2011 when I got it. But this time around, nVidia's mid range card is mostly a "power consumption" upgrade from the previous generation. I read that the GTX 960 is a perfect upgrade for a 560, but if you have a 660 or a 760, then it's not really worth it that much.

Also, being stuck at the bottom of Africa means we pay a lot more for stuff than the lucky guys in the first world countries. And, as an added bonus, South Africa is experiencing numerous issues like load shedding (for my overseas readers who aren't familiar with that - basically our local government didn't think of upgrading our power generating abilities as our population grew exponentially in the last 20 years, meaning our power provider, Eskom, doesn't have sufficient capacity to actually supply us with a constant and steady stream of electricity anymore, now they cut power every day or two to prevent a total blackout... fun!). Combine that with the oh so useless xenophobic attacks taking place, we now sit with a weakening currency, meaning we pay an even bigger premium for items that are manufactured overseas - aka all things computer related.

Anyway, I've been contemplating really hard to maybe invest in the GTX 970 instead - yes I know there's the whole 3.5GB RAM issue, but it's still the best value for money nVidia card on the market, and the RAM issue only becomes an issue when you start gaming on extreme resolutions with extreme settings. I'm on 1920x1080, so in my case it's not gonna be such a big impact on my gaming experience - in fact, it won't bother me at all!

So, after deciding that, I started doing some homework, and for a mere R1800 more, I can get a 970 instead of a 960, and I reckon it'll give me a good 2-3 years longer service than the 960 would.

I phoned up my suppliers, and my sales guy at Corex is giving me an excellent deal - his name is Dylan, and he's one of the sales guys at the Cape Town branch of Corex, and I've only ever gotten excellent service from the guys there, and Dylan especially - if you're ok with registering as a reseller with Corex (a bit of a mission but very much worth it believe me!), I can heartily recommend chatting to him - DylanV@corex.co.za or 021 528 8000 - and here's the purchase I will be making very soon:

That's right, the MSI GTX 970 GAMING 4G! And the price I'm paying is less than R1000 more than you'd pay from a big overseas vendor like NewEgg! Makes me extremely giddy to know I'll soon be upgrading to a higher end card like this one, and as the box says, I look forward to JUST GAME!

I'm especially looking forward to cranking up the settings more on GTA V, which I installed yesterday (wasn't happy with the 5GB patch I had to download after installing from the discs, but hey, these things happen!) - my GTX 560 ti only has 1GB RAM (the game shows how much RAM your settings is using, and I was sad to see that the 1GB I have didn't allow for much), so the 4GB will be a huge step up, let alone the rest of the raw power my new addition to the family will serve!

Happy gaming in my future, I foresee! :)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Star Chronicles: Delta Quadrant mini Review

Edit: Full disclosure - since writing this review I've joined up with Jayson and we're now both part of Alister Software. So, when I wrote this I was just writing a review for a friend's game, but now I'm part of the team and actively working on it. Armed with this knowledge, I hope you can still find something useful in my review below:

My good friend Jayson and I have been playing around with the elusive art of Indie Game Development. It all started when Terraria was released, and I learned that it was coded in XNA. That got me to start tinkering around with it as well, and boy oh boy, what an interesting thing it turned out to be!

One of the first major things I realised was that the maths I so hated at school, actually had a place in this kind of programming. Working with sin, cos and tan, and calculating degrees and radians all of a sudden had a real place in my life!

Anyway, I didn't delve too much in it (although I still want to!), but Jayson carried on. A few years ago he started playing around in Unity 3D, and have recently finished his first proper game. It is called Star Chronicles: Delta Quadrant. And for a first title, it's damn fun indeed!

(visit Jayson's blog)

One nice thing about Unity is that you can compile your game for several platforms, including Windows, Linux and Android.

The game is about 2 years in the making, and I know the effort, time and love that went into making it. I was even lucky enough to give some inputs about the game to Jayson, and to help play test it on my PC and phone.

Check this videos out:

The game might look simple at first glance, but there's some deep mechanics at work underneath. First and foremost, it's a turn based game. You have a certain amount of moves, then you hit the end turn button, and the enemies get a go. Secondly, it's Roguelike - you will die often. Thirdly, there are RPG elements present, such as leveling up by gaining XP, finding loot, such as better equipment (like afterburners, long range sensors, bigger shield generators) and weapons (ion pulses, mass drivers, beam weapons and missiles), and earning skill points to improve various aspects of your ship. Lastly, all of this is in a great Science Fiction setting in the Star Chronicles universe (watch this space!).

The main goal is to survive and get stronger, all while searching for a new home world for your people. Each sector (level or stage if you will) has a certain goal, for example kill X amount of enemies, or escape the sector alive, or hack a station for intel, etc. After each sector, the game gets saved, and you have the opportunity to quit to the main menu and assign your newly earned skill points (stuff like making your weapons stronger, or increasing shield capacity or cargo space), and then carry on with your mission.

If you die, you have to start over, but the XP you've earned, along with any skill points, remain.

I really like Delta Quadrant, and it was rather special for me to see my friend write the game from scratch, and see what it really entails doing something like that! The biggest challenge you would think is the coding part, but in my friend's case it was graphics. He is sadly not an artist, but I really think he did an admirable job. The graphics is a little bit on the basic side, but definitely not enough to make it any less fun - the core of the game is absolutely the game play mechanics that Jayson created, and it makes for an excellent time waster that turns many a bathroom break into at least a half hour affair...

To prove to you how much faith I have that many people out there will also find the game enjoyable, I put forth the money needed to get the game on Steam's Greenlight ($100) - and I parted with my money gladly (something I don't easily do!).

Here is a link to the Greenlight Page: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=413705011

And demos can be downloaded from the IndieDB page

Edit: The game is now available on Steam - Buy Star Chronicles: Delta Quadrant on Steam

If you are in any way fans of LITE Roguelikes, Scifi, RPG and turn-based games, you might just like Delta Quadrant as well, so give it a try!