Archives for November 2012

In My Weekend Gaming Digital Hands


So I have been in Atlanta all week on business, working 12+ hour days and eating like a king for five straight days (oh, and a ride in the corporate jet). But long days like that on the road leave little time for my hands to touch gaming keyboards, so I’m looking forward to seeing my beautiful wife and kids again, and once they’re all comfortably tucked away in bed, getting a little “me time” with Borderlands 2 and Mr. Torgues Campaign of Carnage.

What will you be playing this weekend?

Lumia 920

So I just picked up a Lumia 920 and I am pleasantly pleased with this fine work of art.

I post this because I am going to be looking forward to playing some Windows Phone games on it. If you hear of any you would like a review of shoot me a message or comment here.

We’ve Got a Heartbeat!

It is with excitement, relief, and a slight sense of pride that this post has been composed and posted from my new computer. What was originally a collection of pieces parts in their own respective packaging is now a functional – albeit neutered (…temporarily. I shall explain.) – rig that makes me giggle just to look at. I am very grateful for the generosity of my parents for shouldering the greater burden of cost. I had originally thought Indy’s Bullet wouldn’t be built until well after the 2013 tax season. So it came as a delightful surprise when last week at Thanksgiving Pops pulled me aside saying, ‘Let’s go shopping tomorrow’. Indeed! Wandering around MicroCenter with Papa Bear and a shopping cart for close to two hours on Black Friday 2012 will forever be a fond memory. Awesome. Now, on to some pictures.

In the end, the main objective of the trip to MicroCenter was to purchase the necessary parts to get up and running. A graphics card can wait. Another hard drive can be added. RAM can easily be swapped. My dad kept me grounded in the decision-making process. Pictured here is not a barebones rig, though.  Despite the absence of a GPU, the i5 and P8Z77 are a slammin combo. It’s been close to a week now and I am continually amazed at how well this rig can pull its own weight. I may not even bother buying a separate graphics card after all. The previous sentence is a lie.

Installing the CPU was the most nerve-wrecking part. There’s a whole lotta pins that have to fit exactly into a whole lotta slots. I’ve got jittery fingers to begin with, and knowing this made me all the more nervous. One minor slip – one bent pin – and   I would have wept for a week. Seeing as how we’re now a week later and I can listen to a Paul Simon CD through headphones while a demo of Crusader Kings II downloads and updating USB 3.0 drivers all simultaneously testifies that I did not screw anything up. Awesome sauce.

Yojimboz and xJonesicusx were there, too. They did stuff.

 

So, funny n00b story: We learned that 2-pin molex no likey 4-pin molex the hard way. The faceplate of the MSI case HAD (note the tense usage) a separate USB charger slot. Fried that sucker like we was havin’ it for supper. We were getting all headlong and just started connecting stuff to the PSU – This 2-pin case connector just didn’t seem to want to go into the 4-pin of the PSU – maybe if we push harder… On first bootup the abundance of smoke looked pretty groovy being lit by the case’s deep blue LEDs. We tried to patch up the lead and try a different connector but yielded the same smoldering result. So now there’s an orange USB slot on the faceplate looking all eager and useful. This ultimately could have just been a problem of plug compatibly between case and PSU. We searched fervently for a provided adapter but to no avail.

Despite the folly of n00bishness, the end product didn’t turn out too shabby. I removed all four of the tool-less 3.25″ drive bays to help air flow as well as providing extra space for unused PSU cables. I intend to pick up an aftermarket CPU cooler in the future. My only concern at this point is whether or not the GPU will have sufficient length clearance – there’s a whole lot going on in that tight little area…

Here’s a closeup shot of the concerned area. I kept the SSD in one of the bays, attached some Velcro on the back of the bay, and stuck it to the bottom of the 5.25″ bay area. This way I’m only using one SATA power cable for both the optical drive and SSD. I gotta tell ya: SSD’s are great! All that initial driver updating was a breeze when the windows boot screen doesn’t even have a chance to finish its animation before the desktop loads. Golly. And my new Hearts of Iron III campaign loads in a fraction of the time compared to what I’m used to. Good times.

Beautiful Skyrim

James pointed me to a post over at the PC Gamer Blog showing off some STUNNING enhancements that are possible with Skyrim.

It’s no surprise that the modding community was going to tear into Skyrim and tweak every nook and cranny and really improve upon it. Bethesda and Steam facilitated that, to their credit. But I’m actually beyond amazed what has already taken place.

What has me more interested is what the PC Gamer writer says: “Keep in mind that when that grass fills the screen Unreal reports framerates as low as 5 fps, so super-modded Skyrim isn’t always playable. But think of it as a preview of the near-future.” This is what really excites me. The near future. I’m still torn between becoming a full-time PC gamer and a console gamer. But the thought of what the next Xbox or Playstation is going to be capable of makes the graphics whore in me giddy beyond belief.

Seriously, just look at these beautiful images. Now to pick one for the new PC background.

Planning a PC Build Before the End of the World

For over a decade now I have had an itching desire to construct myself a gaming PC – burning, even, probably from all that itching. Indeed, a computer that would facilitate ultra graphic settings; where I don’t even have to consider a game’s system requirements or even recommendation because the rig would be so slammin’. I’ve had my fair share of personal computers, be they gifted or shared or hand-me-downed, and am forever grateful for my time with them. And they weren’t utilized just for gaming. I taught myself the basics of HTML4, maintained a couple of websites, and dabbled in Photoshop, Visual Basic. A Compaq Presario was, amongst other things, my tap into the wonders of mIRC where I discovered a whole musical genre that I will take to my grave. This here HP Pavilion laptop, now 5 years old and running strong, has facilitated just about every computational task our family has ever needed… except running Black & White 2 or Medieval II: Total War or DreamFall. So, for as useful and pragmatic as these confangled doohickeys are for pretty much every facet of life, my main desire has always been to use them to game, though I haven’t always been able to be indiscriminate to system requirements.

But for whatever reasons I’ve never actually given myself the opportunity to build one. So, leave it to recent case of envy for my little brother’s ad hoc rig to help motivate me to get this project in gear. Plus, the world is ending in a month so why not go out with a bang? I’ve spent the last couple of months reading up and shopping around, and if more than anything else this has been a fun research project. The power and price of personal computing these days is enticing. What follows, then, is a glance at my thought processes towards what I want, what I can get and finding the happy space in between. Nothing has yet been purchased; this is all theoretical.

As a quick illustration to what I want my new computer to be, please watch the following clip:


Bam. Right there. Indy’s reaction. Love it.

I continue to read about these maxed out $5000 gaming systems – donning black and red color schemes, looking menacing, swinging weapons garishly to and fro –  and, although I do not doubt their superior computing power, I know there’s a more practical and economical way of freaking playing StarCraft 2. For this reason, my new system will assume the moniker ‘Indy’s Bullet’. Indy’s Bullet will be tight, precise and will get the job done. It will be forward-compatible. And it will be built from the following parts: (*NOTE: I’m still learning, please correct and/or suggest where necessary)

CPU – Intel i5 3750K

Motherboard – ASUS P8Z77-V PRO (no Thunderbolt)

I am listing these two main components together because I will be purchasing them at MicroCenter, thusly introducing a major variable to the construction of Indy’s Bullet. MicroCenter is within reasonable distance of me. Purchasing as much as I can from this at-a-loss retailer would only be wise. MC has a combo deal where they will automatically knock off $50 from the price of a motherboard with the purchase of a CPU. Plus, such a close proximity would be extremely advantageous should any part be defective and a plan of action for returns need to go into effect, which I am accepting as a very real possibility.

As per the Intel vs. AMD debate: I’m going with Intel because of reasons… And that’ll be the end of that. Plus, MicroCenter sells these babies at close to $40-$50 less than online stores. Win/Win so far. I’m choosing this model because 1) Ivy Bridge supports PCI-e 3.0, which is necessary for GPU(s), 2) i7 will just be overkill and 3) it is unlocked, and I find this appealing because I want to tinker with overclocking. And overclocking wouldn’t be possible if my motherboard is shoddy.

Yes. I have spent more time researching motherboards than I have any other component. After a great deal of pondering I’ve decided on the P8Z77- PRO because, compared to competing mid-level mobos, this board is more about focused performance than bells & whistles. Indeed, I do not need freaking six USB 3.0 ports. Although, it does come with a Wi-Fi antennae – Asus touting that Indy’s Bullet could also serve as a wireless router ( for what it’s worth this is appealing as our current wireless router is crap). But, back to performance: can overclock memory to 2800; two SATA 6gb/s; two PCI-e 3.0. It has a back-up BIOS, which is good in case I royally screw something up while overclocking. The P8Z77-PRO also has independent fan control, appealing to gamer and tree-hugger alike. And it has this new VirtuMVP technology which, if I understand correctly, will also help with power consumption and contribute to longevity of the GPU.

GPU – Gigabyte GV-N670C-2GD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 2048MB GDDR5 PCIe 3.0 x16

Translation: Bottom of the top tier of video cards, or top of the middle tier video cards. I am intentionally rounding down on all other computer components to finance this powerful tool. I am choosing NVIDIA because, more than anything, I’ve just been hearing too many scary stories about Radeon cards, especially when it comes to tweaking. There’s also a 4GB model for about $50 more, but I don’t know enough yet  about the ins/outs of GPUs to determine whether or not this would be worth the extra money. The 2GB model is reported to be nearly-silent, stable and efficient. Me Gusta.

Memory – G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866

I must confess that the memory component is one that I’m still fairly ignorant to. But, nonetheless I am confident with my decision with the G. Skill Sniper Series. It’s got a good speed with a reasonable latency. It does not have flashy heat spreaders like Corsair sticks, which could very well get in the way of an after market CPU cooler. Plus, the Sniper Series is compatible with the P8Z77 – minor detail. And 8GB is plenty – PLENTY – for a gaming/enthusiast build; any more and you’re just playing with yourself.

Storage – Intel 330 Series 2.5″ 180GB SATA6Gb/s Solid State Drive(SSD)

Intel has been bringing the hammer down on other SSD manufacturers by creating capable drives at competitive prices. Despite their smaller capacity, SSDs are appealing to me because I simply do not need an abundance of HD space: I uninstall games as soon as I complete or grow bored with them; I do not plan on storing dozens of HD movies. The only media I foresee taking up any moderate amount of space will be audio files – And even then it won’t be that much because 90% of my music are stored on these circular plastic compact discs, or ‘CDs’ for short, that I keep in binders out of the reach of my kids; an even smaller more exclusive group are on larger discs made of wax, which, in the biz, we call ‘vinyls’. Snarkyness aside, a SSD would be right at home in Indy’s Bullet, and with prices dropping by the week there’s no reason in the world to go with a mechanical drive.

Monitor – *undecided brand* 24” Widescreen 1920 x 1080

I had originally thought about aiming towards a true color 1200 resolution but quickly came to my senses. For five years I’ve been using a laptop with a resolution that doesn’t even reach beyond 1280 x 800 (gaming with even less). Therefore a new 24” standard HD monitor will have plenty of WOW! factor. And I think 24” is the sweet spot because 27” is just a migraine waiting to happen.

Power Supply

Still researching these. Probably Corsair. 700, maybe 750 Watt. That GPU wants at least 550 – the hog.

Case

No more than $100. USB 3.0 headers. Front headphone jack. Nothing too gaudy or flashy so as to not be a temptation for my kids and their curious button-pressing fingers. It can’t be more than 22” tall in order to fit under my desk; I refuse to put my desktop on my desktop. I like what NZXT does.

This isn’t ugly.

 OS –

Windows 7. Eff Windows 8.

When all is said and done I feel that this is a very reasonable, well-planned build. Indy’s Bullet will play the RTS games that I long for, as well as facilitate any programming or audio editing/mixing that may come my way. All hail the PC.

The Warrior has fallen… on the button [Borderlands 2]

This post has mild spoilers for the ending of Borderlands 2. Hit the jump to see the full post. (Sorry feed readers, you’re going to see the whole thing)

[Read more…]

Weekend Gaming

Another weekend is upon us! This one snuck up on me all of a sudden. This weekend is a bye week for both of my football teams, so I’m looking at quite a bit of gaming time.

Borderlands 2 continues to consume the bulk of my gaming time, but I think (at least Mordecai told me) that we are gearing up for the final mission. That means that we either barrel through and finish up the game (until more DLC drops) or we become completionists and start mopping up all the side-quests (even the level 5 stuff we forgot to do weeks ago). With Halo 4 already out, I have a feeling we’ll be finishing up Borderlands 2 sooner rather than later.

When the main TV isn’t available for 360’ing, I plan on doing a little PC gaming. Maybe hop back into Diablo 3 for a look around or maybe something unplayed in Steam.

What gaming are you doing this weekend?

November Releases

Man, November and its releases really snuck up on me this month. Never mind that it’s by far the busiest month of releases, that the Wii U is launching and that this is one of the stronger line-ups in a while. It was just “BAM!” and I realized it was already November 5th. So let’s get to the releases:

Week of November 6th
Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection
Saints Row The Third The Full Package
NASCAR The Game: Inside Line
Mass Effect Trilogy – And here we start off strong, with a package that is easily worth twice what they are charging for it. This is the perfect gift for that member of your gamer family that has yet to experience the awesomeness that is the Mass Effect Universe (you know who I’m talking about). Don’t ask, just get it.
Halo 4 – I have picked up every game in the Halo Series at launch (except Wars) and while I will be picking this game up soon, I may actually hold off a little before I pick up Halo 4. I’m still enjoying Borderlands 2 to switch games at the moment. But Halo 4 will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

Week of November 13th
Tropico 4 Gold Edition
F1 Race Stars
Call of Duty: Black Ops II – I’d have to go back and look, but has a Call of Duty launched this close to a Halo game? I guess it’s been quite a while since Halo 3, but it is going to be interesting to see how the launches match up against each other.
History: Legends of War Patton – If my dad played video games, he would definitely dig these History Channel games.
The Hip Hop Dance Experience – Looking at this track listing, I’m not really sure if this is exactly a “Hip Hop” experience.
LEGO Lord of the Rings – A holiday release wouldn’t be complete without a LEGO release.
Midway Arcade Origins – How many times does Midway think we’re going to buy this? /Buys it
Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed Bonus Edition
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two – Coming soon: DLC characters of Luke Skywalker and Jar Jar Binks.

Week of November 20th
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse
Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game
Hitman: Absolution
Power Rangers Samurai

Week of November 13th
Nintendo Wii U Console – Black Deluxe Set – Tempting. So very, very tempting.
Assassin’s Creed III
Scribblenauts Unlimited
Mass Effect 3 – The mind boggles at how good Mass Effect 3 will be with that secondary screen on the Wii U controller.
Game Party Champions – I see we’re getting a head start with the shovelware.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (With Amazon Instant Video Credit)
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
Darksiders II
New Super Mario Bros. U – Sigh…
Transformers Prime: The Game
Wipeout 3
Just Dance 4
ESPN Sports Connection
Rabbids Land
Madden NFL 13
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
ZombiU
Tank! Tank! Tank! – Sounds like an advertisement for one of those super sales at the local Convention Center: “FRIDAY FRIDAY FRIDAY!”
Tekken Tag Tournament 2Need I say more?
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
Nintendo Land
Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed Bonus Edition
Arkham City: Armored Edition

Week of November 6th
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013
NASCAR The Game: Inside Line

Week of November 13th
The Hip Hop Dance Experience
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
LEGO Lord of the Rings

Week of November 20th
Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game

Week of November 6th
Harvest Moon: A New Beginning – Harvest Moon you say? Why yes, yes I would like to link my old Harvest Moon review!
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Rayman Origins

Week of November 13th
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
Rabbids Rumble
Scribblenauts Unlimited

Week of November 20th
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d you steal our garbage – Yeah, Ice King? What’s your deal?!
Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game

Week of November 20th
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d you Steal our Garbage ?!
Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game

Week of November 6th
Mass Effect Trilogy

Week of November 13th
Tropico 4 Gold Edition
Dark Arcana: The Carnival
LEGO Lord of the Rings
History: Legends of War Patton
Angry Bird Star Wars
Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Week of November 20th
Scribblenauts Unlimited
Hitman: Absolution
Assassins Creed III
Twisted Lands: Origin

Week of November 6th
LittleBigPlanet Karting
Saints Row The Third The Full Package
Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection
NASCAR The Game: Inside Line

Week of November 13th
Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Trilogy
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Midway Arcade Origins
LEGO Lord of the Rings
F1 Race Stars
History: Legends of War Patton
Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed Bonus Edition
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Week of November 20th
Resistance: Saga Collection
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game
Hitman: Absolution
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Week of November 27th
Under Defeat
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault

Week of November 13th
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified

Week of November 20th
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Persona 4 Golden

Week of November 6th
Ragnarok: Tactics
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013

What are you picking up?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

Thrifty Thursdays – 5 Shopping Habits of the Frugal Gamer

I’d like to think Frugality is one of my finer qualities when it comes to gaming. One of the greatest things about good games is that they very rarely go out of style but they do go out of popularity.

The idea behind Thrifty Thursdays here at Buttonmashing is to introduce a delightfully inexpensive alternative for your weekend or weekday gaming habits.

Between all the sales, free to play crazes, and bargains on old titles I’m sure we won’t run out of things to talk about.

So, to kick it off I’d like to provide you with a few simple tips to get your parsimonious posterior in gear.

1. Use social media to find out about discounts on popular games.  Check out Amazon Video Games on Twitter as an example.

2. Check sales on a regular basis.  Sites like Steam and Gamersgate offer daily deals.  Amazon and Good old Games offer a new  deal every week, and Gamefly hosts a used game sale once a month.

3. Hold off on new games unless you’re buying them for multiplayer.  Prices drop within months so by waiting until the fever has died down you’ll score a good deal.

4. For console games buy used.  Always.  Going hand in hand with #3 buying a used game will always save you money.  Gamestop, Best Buy, and Gamefly all offer generous return policies on used merchandise that doesn’t work.

5. Watch Buttonmashing.com.  We’re going to be bringing you a frugal gaming choice every Thursday from here on out.  Subscribe to our feed to make sure you don’t miss a single one.