Darth Scrapheap



If appearance systems are the “true” endgame… them I am woefully losing right now.  Last night I managed to push my Deathknight across the line and ding 110, to which I immediately abandoned all attempts at questing and instead focused on World Quests.  For those who do not know when you hit 110 all you need do is walk over to Khadgar and you can start up the madness on your alts without needing to do the faction grind.  Now I look like a random assemblage of crap…  or very much like a raiding dps warrior did in vanilla.  I know that helm is supposed to be menacing and Deathknighty… but it just keeps reminding me of a lizard or turtle… or something similar.  After a round of “complete the gear quests” I am sitting at 795 and I absolutely plan on exploiting the hell out of the Timewalking dungeons this weekend to help push that higher.  As much as I wanted to like the Paladin… it was mostly just a choice to push up so that I could have a miner to feed my engineering.  Similarly I started the Rogue with the thought of pushing up a Herbalist/Alchemist but stalled out because Rogues are squishy and annoying.  Instead I started working on my Deathknight because deep down inside I still have a lot of love for the character… the fringe benefit however is that now I have a reasonable Herbalist as well to at the very least feed my Seed-Battered Fish Plate habit.

In other news we had a pretty good night of raiding with us coming in and killing Odyn once again after a weird off week thanks in large part to Thanksgiving.  It still took a few tries and there are a lot of fiddly bits we can improve on to make it less horrible at the end.  From there we had a crazy pull that never ended because we did not learn our lesson properly and or they said they patched something they didn’t actually patch.  From there we set up and changed a few things on Guarm and had an amazingly smooth one shot…  which is pretty damned awesome considering this was only our second night of attempts.  We then continued on to Helya and by the end of the we were pushing her into phase three and phase two was seeming less suicidal.  All in all I will count that as significant progress, the only negative being there just aren’t that many gearing options yet from this raid.  I am super bummed that I am going to have to miss our now “a thing” Friday night Emerald Nightmare clear this week.  I have a family thing that happens once a month, and this just happens to be that Friday.  Thankfully I think we have more than enough reasonable tanking options to make something work in my absence.  I am just bummed at losing a shot at maybe just maybe getting those last three corrupted essences.


I also played a significant amount of Final Fantasy XV, and I have decided it is far less a boy band simulator and more Final Fantasy Entourage.  All of that said… I still like it quite a bit and it is absolutely priceless when Prompto sometimes hums the class FF battle victory theme after you finish a combat engagement.  Right now I am heavily engaged in a life of murder-hobo-ry as I am roaming the country side looking for baddies to vanquish and looting interesting cooking materials.  The key take away from yesterday however is that I gave the official Sony PS4 Remote Play a shot and man…  have they seemingly improved it greatly.  Sure there are still moments when it wigs the hell out and you are best to simply hold still until it stops struggling.  Those however are few and far between and for the most part the end result is an extremely smooth play experience.  For reference my PS4 is hard wired into my router, and I was connecting into it from my laptop over the wireless network.  I did some tests in Destiny to see if this was simply a “good enough for an RPG” thing or if it really was reasonable for playing other games.  I could notice a little bit of controller lag while running and doing some patrols… but it was more than reasonable enough for me to play.  I am not sure if I would be willing to go into the Crucible or something extremely difficult, but I had a good enough time killing random splicers in the Plaguelands remotely.  In truth it is “good enough” for 90% of the stuff I do in Destiny and I would absolutely be willing to try something like farming Archon’s Forge while remoted in through the laptop.  It is definitely good enough for Final Fantasy XV which greatly increase the range of play options I have…  and I am going to want to test this theory out on the Vita pretty soon.  I still think the performance of the unofficial “Twisted” Remote Play was better… but he has just been unable to keep it updated to function on the latest version of the PS4 firmware… and the bonus features of playing with a keyboard, mouse and xbox 360 controller simply are not worth being behind in the firmware version especially given that it will bar you from accessing the PSN store.  I am super happy though to see that Sony seems to continue to improve performance.

Chasing Happy

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Obliviously Chill

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This week has been an interesting one so far.  I’ve been trying to take these mood enhancers that I had fallen out of the habit of taking on a daily basis.  According to my wife it makes a huge difference when I am taking them, versus when I am not.  However on Wednesday night they caused me to more or less forget that I had a raid to attend.  I was sitting there happily on the sofa watching Daredevil Season 2 and screwing around in Destiny through the official remote play application… and next thing I know around 9pm I check into Slack and realize that I had completely blown off the Wednesday night WoW Raid thing.  Thankfully they were able to make it work without me, which is awesome…  but I was otherwise completely oblivious to having anything going on that night.  Like in the back of my head there was a vague feeling that I was supposed to be doing something, but I was so chill that apparently I never actually acted upon that thought.  I partially blame Daredevil because really, this season so far has been enthralling.  I only started watching it Wednesday night because our cable box was uncooperative, and I couldn’t seem to get anything else up on the screen.

I’ve been feeling generally disconnected from the world, and my hope is that the happy pills will help to curb that instinct and allow me to actually participate in it again.  I’m not even certain what caused me to stop taking them, other than one day I simply forgot… and the next day I forgot… and so on until I was out of the habit.  I’ve had quite a bit of work stress lately, combined with the stress of all of the home renovation “change” has kinda pushed me into another funk.  After a sequence of bad mental health days, I came to the realization that I really should be taking them again.  When I am not doing great, I tend to throw up this wall and paint a happy face on it… then duck behind it hoping the world will go away.  I realize this is largely a defense mechanism, but it feels so much safer behind the wall than out in front of it interacting openly.  Everything feels like it is buzzing past so fast that I can’t really grasp what is going on, or who is attempting to interact.  So when I am sitting in this mode I spend a lot of time staring at things, without actually understanding what I am looking at or how it actually relates to me.  One of the things I have tried to do with this blog is be pretty open about whatever is going on with me…  even if it is the not so great stuff.

Warlock vs Oryx

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Through the course of playing Destiny I managed to push all three classes to 40, but some of them get a lot less use.  Namely my Warlock has kinda become the unloved child of the bunch, because no matter how much I try… I never can seem to get the hang of their damned jump.  It always feels like a much less useful version of the Titan jump.  Hunter makes perfect sense… they have triple or quadruple jump depending on if you have the Bones of Eao equipped.  Warlock jump however never seems to do the thing I want it to do when I want it to do it.  However lately thanks to the magic of the Remote Play application I have been poking around on that character, because in the grand scheme of things… it has the least impact on my other activities.  The problem is that I really have not done much questing.  I ground my way to 40 through the various patrol missions and had not even completed the Taken King content.  So last night I decided to pick up where I had left off in that quest chain, which turns out about four quests from the end of it.  This was a big nuisance since anytime I got one of those ever so lucrative “Patrol the Dreadnaught” bounties, I couldn’t actually do that… and would end up having to complete a story mission to get kill credit.  Over the course of the night however I managed to finish the main story arc of the Taken King and it is ridiculously easy when you are sitting at 292 light.

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Also while doing stuff on the Warlock, I decided to go ahead and do the Stormcaller quest chain so that I could unlock that class.  I have to say having done all of them now, this one was probably my favorite.  I loved the whole “taming the storm” aspect of the quest because it really seems to it the class as a whole.  Now unfortunately I need to just do a bunch of leveling to top off my various subclasses.  I have all three maxed on the Titan, but for the others… I have Nightstalker on the Hunter maxed, and absolutely none of the Warlock classes maxed with Sunsinger being the closest since I figured the whole self rez thing would be the most needed like a Titan bubble.  I wish there were versions of the mark/bond/cloak that increased leveling for classes other than the ones added with Taken King.  Even if you had to do some sort of a quest to earn them, it would be a welcome addition for anyone trying to top off all three classes.  The only problem with running Strikes/Crucible to level is that I feel like I am not entirely effective because I am missing large chunks of my abilities.  So instead I just end up running bounties and screwing around in the patrol missions which seems like the slowest way to level sub classes.  However all of this is great “playing from the couch on the remote play app” fodder so it will probably see a lot more screen time than it previously did.  Before the ability to reliably play remotely, the only time I was really playing Destiny was to go do group activities.  Now I can do a lot of solo questing from the comfort of the living room and it is making me play catch up on all of those things I largely ignored.

Official PS4 Remote Play

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Some time ago I wrote a post about the unofficial Twisted Remote Play app.  Since that time I have used that thing on a nearly daily basis, if for no reason other than the pull screenshots off of my PS4 without having to play move the thumb drive.  It worked well, and honestly offered a level of game play that was nearly indistinguishable from sitting physically at your machine.  It worked amazingly smoothly over my laptop downstairs and while I didn’t do anything super serious with it, I did spend quite a bit of time farming resources or doing daily bounties in Destiny through it.  When I bought into the Alpha I believe it was $10 and since then he has shifted the pricing scheme to a free/premium structure.  As a former paid user I got transitioned to premium, and from what I can tell the paid version just gets newer updates.  However around the time I wrote my original post it was confirmed my Sony that they would be releasing an official version of the Remote Play application.  For anyone who cares to know, it turns out that Twisted simply reverse engineered the existing Xperia remote play app that had been available on the android and then greatly tweaked and improved the net code.  The improvements were not insignificant, and I honestly doubted that the official app release would even come close to the performance of the Twisted client.

I am guessing the existence of this unofficial dark horse client lit a fire under Sony and maybe caused them to improve their product offering to compete.  As of this morning the 3.50 system update is available for the PS4 and with it brings the official client that you can download here.  Out of the box it honestly performs like shit.  The default is 540p 30fps and using your PSN account to find your machine over the internet.  However if you kill the client and relaunch it, you will notice a settings box down near the bottom on the left hand side.  I found that if I cranked up the resolution to 720p and the frame rate to High it also changed the way the application worked.  Instead of finding your machine over the internet, it instead looked for it on your local network and as a result greatly improved the performance.  Granted my tests this morning were over a wired connection straight into the same router my PS4 was connected to, but I have to say the performance was reasonable.  I am not 100% sure if it is quite as smooth as the Twisted client, but it was absolutely playable.  I popped into Destiny and ran around the planet working on some bounties and while it felt like at times there was maybe a tiny bit of lag in the input… it was absolutely playable.  If you are doing anything serious at all I would still highly suggest sitting at your machine and just playing like Sony intended… however if you want to chill out from a laptop I have a feeling that the experience will be comparable to the Twisted client.

All of this said… I really hope that the Twisted client updates and gets fixed.  There were a lot of interesting things that he was doing that I want to see continued.  For example he was doing some work with emulating a Dualshock 4 controller with a Keyboard and Mouse.  Now it wasn’t quite there yet but it worked “well enough” to play around with on bounties and such in Destiny.  The other thing that I would love is for him to figure out how to pass through the Microphone input to the remote play application allowing folks to hang out and talk on PSN party chat while playing remotely.  I also feel like Twisted is going to ultimately support complaints with his client far better than Sony will.  PSTV for example is a mess and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of fixing it… given that they officially cancelled the product.  I feel like the PC and Mac support here is just to be able to say that they can do this feature that Xbox One has been touting for awhile, and once that check mark has been ticked off they simply won’t devote the resources to making sure it continues to work as well as it could work.  All of this makes me hope that they did not permanently break support for the method that Twisted has been connecting, because I really want to see that project succeed.

PS4 Remote Play

Strange Days

ASUS-ROG-GL551JW-DS74Yesterday was an extremely strange day, because an event happened that was largely unexpected.  As I have talked about over the last several months, my laptop is definitely seeing its age.  At the time I got it, it was an amazing power house of gaming with dual GT 650m video cards…  that could pretty much run whatever I happened to throw at it.  The problem is the laptop is from 2012, and in that time a lot of stuff has changed and we have gone through three generations of video cards.  So long as games were largely based on the PS3/Xbox 360 architecture everything was peachy, but as games dropped support for that generation and started to focus on the PS4/Xbox One it began to struggle.  The first game I can remember that it flat out would not run in a way that I could stand to play it… was Dragon Age: Inquisition which is shockingly taxing on a video card… especially one of this age.  Then came Fallout 4… and a long string of games that I had to run at 720p with greatly stripped down resolution options to get them to run at all.  So since before Christmas I had been watching the local Craigslist to see if there were any options out on the market that could be snatched up on the cheap.  I have a mixed past when it comes to Craigslist, because I have been able to get some insane deals like a Playstation 4 in early 2014 for only $200.  I have also gotten insane run around that seemed to last for weeks over a couple of laptops that the other party simply flaked out on.

Still I was not in dire straights and part of me was wanting to wait to see what the next generation of Nvidia cards looked like before purchasing a brand new laptop…  which seemed to be the direction I was heading towards.  Then over the weekend I actually saw something good on Craigslist, which surprised me in the midst of all of the over priced machines… and laptops that predate my current one.  Someone was selling a Asus Republic of Gamers laptop with an Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, 16 GB of Ram, a Nvidia Geforce GTX 960m video card, with 1TB data drive and a 128GB SSD.  At first I apparently texted the wrong phone number, as I missed a zero in a sequence of four zeroes in a row.  However after texting the right address the guy responded pretty quickly.  I asked the standard questions… like does it have any issues, why are you getting rid of it, etc… and then started making offers.  Miraculously I apparently started off the bargaining in the right place, because I was able to talk him down to $600 which is a significant deal for that laptop.  So last night I spent the ever so fun game of starting to install everything I “need” to be happy with a laptop, but I have to say anytime I upgrade like this there is a little bit of sadness too.  I develop a personal relationship with my computers… and I guess part of me feels a little bad about kicking one to the curb to spend time with a newer model.  I know that is a strange sequence of thought…  but I can’t help but feel a little sad that I am moving on.

Remote Play

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Screenshot taken with Fraps while Streaming from PS4

One of the great promises of the Playstation 4 was the ability to remotely play the system from a Vita, Android device, or the Playstation TV set top box.  For the most part this works… but with certain constraints.  The Vita appears to do an amazing job of remote play, given its limited real estate and the slightly wonky control scheme.  However the Playstation TV set top box has been nothing but a disappointment.  There are threads all over the place talking about how to somehow get it to perform well, but most of these involve having a hard Ethernet connection back to the same router that the Playstation 4 resides connected to.  The problem here is… the entire idea of having it is to be able to extend the reach of your PS4 to another television.  Basically for a long time I was looking for a way to play my PS4 somewhere other than sitting up in my office, where I have it for the purpose of recording gameplay footage.  Awhile back I read about an unofficial side project that extended Remote Play to the PC, but never actually got around to checking it out.  The software is currently in active alpha development, but from what I was reading online it seemed like it actually worked well.  The author charges $10 for access to the alpha client… which is the only thing that had kept me from playing with it already.  So last night I took the plunge hoping that I could sit there and play PS4 as my laptop downloaded and installed various bits of software.

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Screenshot taken with Fraps while Streaming from PS4

Firstly I have to say… this thing is phenomenal.  There are a few hoops that you have to jump through like registering your PC with your Playstation 4 as a remote play device.  Additionally in order to get the native DualShock 4 to work I had to track down LibUSB which honestly took longer than any other part.  Once installed my DualShock 4 installed on my system and was recognized by the Remote Play application.  Unlike the native Remote Play options… this thing connects insanely fast to your PS4 and even the wake on lan functionality seems to work great.  The real test however is if I could manage to play Destiny on my PC without being frustrated by the control input lag.  Sure enough I managed to complete several duties and even hopped into some crucible where I managed to rack of some decent kill streaks…  all running remote over my wireless network.  Every now and then there is a slight bit of artifacting… and occasionally there might be an input hiccup… but in the grand scheme of things it works insanely well.  There are some constraints…  you are limited to a maximum of 720p running at 60 fps.  For the most part I ran the default of 720p at 30 fps and the experience was not necessarily perfect but good enough for me not to care about any imperfections.

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Screenshot taken with Fraps while Streaming from PS4

Where the really awesome bit comes in is the fact that the software author currently is working on mouse and keyboard controls, and for a little bit I actually tried playing Destiny with mouse and keyboard.  There is some work that still needs to be done… and the mouse just doesn’t quite move fast enough yet to make game play truly viable…  however since this software is actively being developed on I have a feeling that at some point soon… or with some configuration tweaking I will be able to sit on the sofa and play Destiny without the Dualshock 4.  Part of me wants to throw money at this guy to get him to add more features… because seriously this thing is working amazing.  Folks have already chimed in with “But Bel, Aren’t they adding official support?”.  This is true, but I have a feeling that Sony isn’t going to add in all of the features that this software is already starting to support, like the ability to pretty much play with ANY usb controller and not just the Dualshock 4.  I have a feeling that without any doubt Sony is not going to support Keyboard and Mouse emulation either.  In any case… it is $10 well spent even if you just want to play around with it.  Over the course of the night I played Destiny, Rayman Legends, and Farcry 4 all without issues.  Also of note… ALL of this was while I was downloading a game from steam, a game from origin, and copying files across my network… and STILL the remote play session refused to lag.