Loving the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 FE!

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition box

Last week I upgraded my graphics card from the GTX 960 (2GB OC) to the Founder’s Edition of the GTX 1060. Most people interested in upgraded to the 1060 seemed to prefer to wait for the third party versions of the cards to come back in stock (they sold out quickly just about everywhere), but as someone who really dug the style of the Founder’s Edition cards when they were announced, I had no problem going with stock card from Nvidia.

The card arrived last Thursday and I couldn’t wait to dig into it.

GeForce GTX 1060 FE

I was really impressed with the way the card was presented once I slid the top off the box. I couldn’t help but stare at it in awe for a few moments before pulling it out of its snug fit in the box. The first thing I noticed is that the card had some serious weight to it, seemingly much heavier than my MSI 960.

GeForce GTX 1060 FE

I had never installed a graphics card before, so I was a little nervous trying to remove my 960. The lever to release the card was being pretty stubborn and I had to press down uncomfortably hard to release it. Luckily I got it out without breaking anything (but I swear I felt the motherboard bend) and got the 1060 installed without much problem (it took some maneuvering to get the screw holes to line up with the case).

GeForce GTX 1060 FE LED

Once installed I booted up my PC, got the drivers installed (I was worried at first because the GeForce experience app was gone, apparently I had to redownload it with the new card installed) and after one more reboot I was ready to go. The first thing that I did was launch Fallout 4 and crank every setting as high as it would go. My 960 could run it pretty well on mostly high settings (around 35-45fps if I remember right), but with the 1060 I got a steady 60 with everything maxed out. That excited me, as I’ve never seen such a steady framerate before.

After fooling around for a few moments in Fallout I jumped into Overwatch and set it to epic quality, again with all settings maxed out, and saw a steady 70fps which also made me smile. The only other game I’ve played so far is Black Ops III, which also got a steady 60fps with everything maxed out.

I’ve also noticed that the card doesn’t seem to get very hot while I’m gaming, and it’s whisper quiet all the time. After a few matches of Overwatch yesterday I checked the temperature using the GeForce experience app and it showed 59 degrees just after I exited the game. I haven’t checked how hot it runs during the heat of the moment, but it could be that Overwatch isn’t demanding much of the card. The hottest I’d ever seen my 960 run was in the low 80’s, but that was with overclocking and running a benchmarking app. I haven’t bothered overclocking the 1060 as everything I want to play runs incredibly smooth out of the box.

I’m running on an AMD FX 8320 3.5ghz (liquid cooled and overclocked to 4) and as far as I can tell it’s not preventing the 1060 from delivering a great experience in anything I play. I have not intention of ever running anything higher than 1080p (my desktop is hooked up to my 47″ TV in the living room and that’s all I need) so the 1060 is a great card for my needs. I’m certainly glad I decided to make the upgrade, and look forward putting it to the test as more demanding games come out over the next few years.

Do eSports belong on ESPN?

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Last Sunday night The 2016 EVO Championship finals were broadcast on ESPN2, and it seemed to reignite the debate about whether eSports belong on ESPN or on television in general. Some people have argued that gaming has no place on a sports network, while others counter that some of ESPN’s popular programming includes poker, also not a sport. I decided to sit down and watch the ESPN broadcast of the EVO finals (available online via ESPN3) and see what all the fuss is about.

I should start by saying that I’ve never been able to get into any eSports. I’ve tried watching competitive League of Legends, DOTA and CS:GO (which has a league that airs on TBS) and none of it has ever made sense to me. I can’t wrap my head around how people become fans of particular competitive video game players.

evo espn announcer

Watching the “ring announcer” of sorts introduce the players came across as a little awkward, or maybe overhyped. I’m sure it’s because I just don’t understand the fandom around the whole thing. I can sympathize with the confusion of those who happened across the EVO broadcast while channel surfing, even though I’m someone who’s into gaming, I still scratch my head when I hear announcers and commentators getting incredibly excited about people playing video games.

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The broadcast did do a good job of offering viewers a crash course on Street Fighter for those who know very little about it. I haven’t played Street Fighter since the SEGA Genesis, but I could at least somewhat figure out what was going on thanks to the explanations. Once the matches started, however, I was entirely lost once the matches started. They would spout of words that had no meaning to me, and I cringed when one of the announcers said the word “strat” during a match. I think they could have done a better job of “dumbing down” the terminology if they wanted to appeal to a mass audience.

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Now am I going to say that eSports have no place on ESPN? Not quite. As a sports fan, even I don’t spend a lot of time watching ESPN anymore. In fact, most of the time the only time I actually watch it is when it’s on at the gym. I have MLB Extra Innings to watch baseball and I get any baseball news and highlights via the MLB app. I don’t need to waste time watching Sports Center anymore, I can get exactly what I want to see without having to watch an entire ESPN broadcast. I think this is one of the reasons that ESPN’s viewership has been hurting lately, and one of the reasons they’re trying to attract new audiences.

For an added perspective, Vanessa walked by while I was watching the broadcast and shook her head, saying something to the effect that “these people are dumb”. I can’t say I share that perspective, but that’s coming from someone who’s not into video games, and I feel like that sentiment is probably echoed by many of the people who are questioning why this was broadcast on ESPN. What I would say to the people who have complained about eSports on ESPN, is that not everything on a particular channel is going to appeal to everyone. I like sports, but am not interested at all in watching softball, basketball, cross fit competitions or the BattleFrog Race Series that is on ESPN as I write this.

Ultimately, I didn’t hate watching EVO, but I’m not certain I’d seek out future fighting eSports events. Part of it may be that I just don’t like fighting games. I’ve never had the patience to learn the moves, and have always button mashed my way through Mortal Kombat, and to this date have never won a match online in Mortal Kombat X (to be fair I’ve only played like 5 matches and never played again).

I might be more interested in watching competitions in games that I play, such as Overwatch, Madden or FIFA, but seeing as I don’t even enjoy watching people play those games on Twitch, I don’t think competitive play would be able to keep my interest either. It’s obvious that thousands (millions?) of people enjoy watching eSports. It’s not for everyone. It’s not for me. But I’m not here to tell you to ‘get your damn eSports off my TV’.

 

Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’: Can’t stop watching!

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Last night Vanessa and I watched the first episode of Netflix’s new series, “Stranger Things” and it was amazing. We were hooked as soon as the opening credits hit, with its mesmerizing music that reminds me a lot of the opening credits to The Wolf Among Us .

The show kept us on the edge of our seats throughout, and the first episode is a wonderful thrill ride from beginning to end. By the time it ended I immediately wanted to start watching the second episode (I don’t usually binge watch), however it was past midnight and we both needed to get some sleep. I can’t wait to continue watching the series later today, and if the second episode is as good as the first it’s very possible that we’ll end up finishing the entire series this weekend!

Stranger Things

If you haven’t checked out “Stranger Things” yet, I highly recommend it! You won’t want to stop watching!

Heading into ‘Uncharted’ territory with PS Now

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Last week I again signed up for Playstation Now with the intent to finally check out the Uncharted games using my Playstation TV (which has been collecting dust for quite awhile). I had never played an Uncharted game, and knew very little about them going in, but I had always heard great things about them.

Once I launched Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, I was pretty impressed with how the game looked, although some textures seemed a little muddy. Still, for a game that came out 9 years ago it still looks pretty darn good. Uncharted not only looks great, but sounds great too thanks to its superb voice acting.

Uncharted

Sorry for the poor quality of these pictures, I don’t have a great way to take screenshots with the Playstation TV unless I hook it up through my PVR box.

Unfortunately, almost as soon as the game handed me control of Nathan Drake I started to realize that I might not enjoy playing the game. The shooting in the opening sequence felt really sloppy and put me off on the game from the start. I got through the sequence without dying (playing on easy), however it just didn’t feel good at all.

If it were only the shooting that didn’t control well I could probably push through the game, but the climbing and platforming has felt clunky so far as well. I haven’t enjoyed any of the climbing as it was slow and felt like a chore from the start. The platforming is even worse. During the early sequence in which Drake must run toward the camera as the platform beneath him is falling I got so frustrated I nearly turned the game off right then. I died seven or eight times during the sequence because Drake controls like hot garbage, and didn’t seem to respond as expected.

Uncharted climbing

You might say that the clunky controls could be due to the fact that I’m streaming the game via Playstation Now, however I haven’t felt the same about other games I’ve played via PS Now, such as The Last of Us. ¬†Also I have pretty fast internet (200mbps) and a powerful router. Sure, I absolutely hate the Playstation controller and its analog sticks, but I think there’s just something off about Uncharted’s controls. Maybe it’s because I’m playing a 9 year old game, but considering that much of the game revolves around platforming and climbing I’m not sure if I’ll be able to push myself through it.

Uncharted

Besides the controls, I’m just not much of a fan of platforming and puzzle solving in games. During one puzzle sequence early in Uncharted I clearly knew what I had to do but the clunky controls made the execution beyond frustrating, and I fell off of platforms again and again which wasn’t fun at all. I’ve never enjoyed climbing and platforming in more modern games like Tomb Raider, but I’ve been able to push through because those games control well and the shooting is a blast. Maybe the later Uncharted games play better, but if I’m going to play them I want to experience the series from the start.

 

Do you think that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune still holds up today? Should I just skip it and start with Uncharted 2?

 

Finished Life is Strange

Last night I finished up Life is Strange and am incredibly sad that I won’t be able to look forward to exploring Arcadia Bay anymore. I can easily say that Life is Strange is one of the best story driven games that I’ve ever played. There were so many memorable moments and characters, and the game affected me emotionally more than any game ever has. I feel like my life has been improved by the experience, and it never felt like mindless entertainment. I’d like to comment more specifically on the game, so I’ll be getting into some spoilers from here on out. If you haven’t played Life is Strange, I highly recommend you stop reading now, because even if you don’t think you’ll ever play it, the experience will be much better if you go into it unaware of what is about to unfold.

 

Spoilers follow below

 

Life is Strange took a pretty dramatic turn starting in the third episode and it kept getting stranger and stranger (and also darker) from there on out. One of the things I enjoyed most about the earlier episodes was that so much of the game revolved around everyday life. There were images of the storm to come, but it was mostly a human story early on. Once things first started to get dark (leading to the discovery of the dark room) the game shifted¬†in a way that I’m not quite sure I liked. It was exhilarating to try and figure out what exactly was going on, but as the game got closer to its conclusion I feel like it got just a little too crazy. Part of me wished it would have been just a little more predictable, or a little more grounded, but at the same time at the end of it all it felt like everything fit into place.

One thing I really liked is that in the end you’re faced with two horrible choices. There will be no happy ending no matter what Max chooses, and I like the gravity that this adds to the final choice in the game. There’s no obvious choice, as both will inflict a great deal of sadness on Max and many others. Ultimately I chose to keep Chloe alive as I feel like this was the right choice for Max. It’s no secret that she’s quite selfish in the way that she uses her power, and considering how much of the game centers around trying to help and save Chloe, it seemed like despite the horrible implications for Arcadia Bay, that’s the choice Max would actually make.

I really liked the way the end unfolded after deciding to sacrifice Arcadia Bay, in that Max and Chloe drive off “into the sunset” in a sense, and leave Arcadia Bay behind without looking back. At the same time I feel like it’s a little unbelievable that they seem to show little emotion for what just happened, and it’s not clear that they even bother to check up on any friends or family on the way out of town. Maybe because Max had already seen the scene of destruction play out so many times she was a little numb to it all, and it’s true that she’s already been through such an emotional rollercoaster, I just sort of wished for something more.

One last minor complaint I have is that the optional photo achievement system is still in place during the final two episodes. There was such a gravity and urgency to the situation that I didn’t feel that Max would be interested in taking pictures at all toward the end. I ended up missing most of the final achievements as I wanted to play the game with a sense of urgency, which is somewhat annoying but it only felt right.

 

How to toggle AR mode in Pokemon GO

So I wanted to post a quick follow up to my last post about Pokemon GO as I’ve seen a lot of people questioning how to turn off AR mode in Pokemon GO (or how to turn it back on). The option to toggle AR mode only shows up when you’re attempting to catch a Pokemon. Once you’re near a Pokemon and tap on it you’ll see a slider labeled AR in the top right corner of your screen, and tapping this will turn AR mode on or off.

Hope this helps those who are still trying to figure it out.

Why I recommend turning off AR mode in Pokemon GO

So in my time with Pokemon GO so far I’ve noticed something that could become somewhat of an issue for those unaware of the game. Basically most of the Pokemon I’ve found in the streets have been located “in” people’s houses. In other words, with AR mode turned on I’ve had to point my phone at someone’s house while standing awkwardly along the sidewalk in order to locate it. I know that a lot of people are paranoid about people pointing phones are cameras at their houses (I’ve seen many posts on the Nextdoor app in recent months complaining about possible thieves taking pictures of their houses and saying they’ve called the police).

I think it would be best for Pokemon GO players to turn off the AR mode when wandering around the neighborhood hunting for Pokemon. If you don’t mind spooking your neighbors, then by all means stand in front of their houses pointing your phone at them, but I think it would be wise for most players to disable the AR mode.

How to turn off AR mode in Pokemon GO