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Mika Hirvonen
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Mika Hirvonen

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Watching Spotlight was bittersweet. Sure, it occupies the same meta genre of "smart people doing smart things" and was highly enjoyable. But it's also seen as the last hurrah of classic journalism. Sure, the new boss does mention the challenges that an old newspaper like the Boston Globe would face. But he also pushes the titular investigative team to dig as deep as necessary to uncover the system of serial sexual abuse the Boston Catholic Church had implemented.
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Mika Hirvonen

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My SteelSeries Spectrum 5XB headset finally kicked the bucket after four years. It was a fairly traditional design with dual 3.5mm plugs. The only specialty was the bending microphone that rolled back into the headset when not being used.

That said, it did have a few shortcomings. Because of the dual plugs, it couldn't be used with a smartphone, a table or my work laptop, which all have just a single plug for both directions. And switching would have been clumsy anyway; Lync/Skype has a nasty habit of hanging up if the audio device that the application assumed you were going to answer the call with changes. So an ability to support multiple devices would be appreciated. Preferably wirelessly.

In addition, the cable was fairly short. It was enough when I was sitting and had plugged it into the front panel, but I admit that I have forgotten it a few times and tried to stand up. Again, being wireless would have helped.

So with those shortcomings in mind, I have started looking at the Logitech G933. Sure, it's blocky and ugly, but it is wireless and supports multiple devices. The extra buttons might come in handy occasionally, but I have no use for color profiles or other fluff.

It seems like all headsets with this feature set seem to target professional gamers, which comes with the LAN party design aesthetic. I'd prefer the smooth HIFI design, but while the sound might be top-notch, their designs tend to lack the all-important microphone. That leaves the professional teleconferencing target audience, which I'm also a part of. But those designs are just so.. flimsy.
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Admittedly I didn't check the sound settings, I just started playing. So it's completely possible that the game was still outputting regular stereo sound.
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In Neal Stephenson's Reamde, one of the real-world applications for the ubiquitous MMO is image processing for security cameras. The system generates NPCs in game that move according to how the people who are seen by the security cameras move. If the players spot a suspicious NPC, they can apprehend them. If enough players apprehend the NPCs who copied their movement data from the same person, the system highlights the person for the real security guards.

Eve Online's version of this is both simpler and more difficult. Instead of potentially suspicious people, the players sift through images of stained cell samples. The players are asked to identify any and all cellular features they can make out. If you agree with the majority of players, your accuracy rating goes up and you get a minor (~50k ISK in the beginning) reward in game. The results are then submitted back to the researchers.

Setting aside the fact that this is real-life microbiology, the minigame is quite hard. There are a lot of possible options, some are mutually exclusive and a lot of the images are ambiguous enough to make it necessary to harness humans to decipher them.
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It's accessible through the menu, so you can play it anywhere and anytime. In addition to the ISK, you get loyalty points for the Sisters of Eve faction.
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Mika Hirvonen

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I've long been a bystander when it comes to Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas or MOBAs. The Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients was the codifier of the genre, but Blizzard itself stayed out of it until Heroes of the Storm.

One recurring problem with online-only games is the difficulty curve, and Heroes of the Storm is not an exception to the rule, even though it streamlines game mechanics in many aspects. The starting point is almost deceptively simple; It's like babysitting RTS units.. without the ability to give commands. I tried the tutorial in HotS, and it really didn't go any further than that. Each hero has only a handful of abilities, so the tutorial did really leave a bad taste.

I know there's almost endless permutations of tactics in hero-vs-hero gameplay alone, but even the remaining tutorial matches against bots didn't really dive into them. They do serve their purpose as map tutorials, but that's about it. If bot players showed up, they were at most a distraction. Like the stupid bots they are, they only ran when their health was low, and stopped running after short while, letting themselves be finished off. The majority of the gameplay still being about babysitting those mindless NPCs. I got to around level 4 from those bot matches. Then I tried a real match.

Most of the enemy team was at level 2, so they pretty much jumped straight into the game. But unlike me, they played the game from a completely different viewpoint: Enemy heroes are the real obstacle, not the mindless NPCs. So when I set up shop at one of the three lanes that lead to the enemy base, I was almost always facing at least two enemy heroes, and the assist-and-snipe style of the tutorial hero, Raynor (from Starcraft), didn't really lend itself well to brawling. I only died once, but it took a lot of running and covering behind walls. Meanwhile, the enemy kept switching lanes to strike at whoever was alone at the moment. It didn't help that all my teammates spoke only Russian, so I imagine they were shouting advice and orders that I summarily ignored.

#heroesofthestorm
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I never got into MOBAs either. I tried it already during its origin times with Warcraft, later DOTA, LoL etc... not really found the fun in it! But yeah, the genre is online multiplayer only, the tutorials really don't help.

I almost bought Homeworld Remastered today, but then saw the XCOM 2 preorder price and ... oh well... xD. Will get XCOM2 nevertheless. Will wait a little with Fallout 4 and hope for a better price and bugfixed later this year.
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There is a saying that warfare is 99% boredom and 1% pure terror. Tonight's fleet was certainly realistic in that regard.

The fleet started as usual; We moved relatively quickly to a halfway point, from where we could use our jump drives and get immediately into combat if needed. But the subcapital fleet seemed to do just fine without us, so after a long wait the fleet commander told us to start preparing for the return trip. But instead of an uneventful ride home, an enemy capital ship fleet ambushed one of our Hel super carriers that was outside of it's protective POS shields. Instead of letting it die unassisted, the fleet commander dropped the shields of the POS to let our Titans and other super carriers exact a bloody vengeance on behalf of that Hel. Which is when we, the dreadnought and carrier pilots, warped in.

The entire fight must have lasted less than five minutes. But in that time the enemy also destroyed a Moros dreadnought and two fellow Chimeras, each lasting less than a minute. They could have just as easily picked my ship as their target, because we didn't have nearly as many Chimeras as we had Archons. Archons are meant to repair armor damage, so they aren't that useful in rescuing shield-based ships that have relatively weak armor, so we Chimeras mostly had to fend for ourselves.

So how much did the enemy lose in those five minutes? 23 dreadnoughts plus assorted subcapital ships, well above and beyond the cost of the Hel, the Moros and the two Chimeras that we lost. You really can lose a fortune in a blink of an eye.

#eveonline  
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Many retro games adopt a low-resolution aesthetic to pay homage to the games the designers were inspired by. In Axiom Verge's case, the inspiration obviously came from Super Metroid. However, because the game is actually running on a modern console with a 1080p screen, it can violate those self-imposed rules when appropriate. For example, zooming out to show off a big boss monster. All that detail in the tiles and the sprites is still there, but you can fit so much more of it on screen at once. Which is why you only see glimpses of Kraid in the equivalent battle in Super Metroid; Fitting the sprite into the screen would box the player in, and the fight actually uses that in the first phase. But here you can keep a comfortable distance from the boss and still see it in full glory.

#axiomverge #supermetroid
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Mika Hirvonen

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A game that I never played or even could play is shutting down. In other news, CCP Shanghai is building a PC FPS set in the New Eden universe. With lessons learned, I hope.

#eveonline #dust514 #projectlegion
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Back in 2011, CCP released a trailer called "I Was There" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSxSyv4LC1c) to promote the much-mocked Incarna expansion. But every good lie contains a seed of truth in it.

For example, a few days ago there was a "major skirmish" that was mentioned on EveNews24, one of the news sites focusing on #eveonline  . And I was there in the relief fleet that jumped to the rescue (5:25 in the video).

I did make a recording of my own, but honestly this one gives a better overview of what happened than mine, even with the massive speedup. I can't multitask well enough yet in an actual fight to find good camera angles and do my duties in the fleet at the same time.  By comparison, the player who made this video had multiple ships and characters in the same fight (plus several others on reserve).
L-C3O7 system, Fade region. On the 28th of January at 17:00 EVE Standard Time, a squadron of Imperium super capitals was caught moving, leading to an impromptu battle between Imperium forces and a half a dozen entities over the tackled ships. The chain of events that led to the incident started ...
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After my system got a failing grade from the Oculus Rift compatibility checker, I decided to bite the bullet and get my system ready for that 4k screen I've been planning to get for a long while.

My case, PSU, memory modules, monitors and storage were fine, but the three components I had to upgrade were the crucial ones: CPU, Motherboard (because the CPU socket type keeps changing for each generation) and the graphics card. I didn't go for absolute top-of-the-line, but I did get an Intel i7 4790k processor, MSI Z95 Gaming 5 motherboard and an Asus Strix Nvidia GTX 980.

Uninstalling the old motherboard went fine; The case has multiple cable chutes, so all wires stayed near where they would be needed and out of the way of the motherboard itself. But for some reason, the power connectors for the motherboard were rotated 180 degrees when compared to my old motherboard and the cables were "settled" in their old orientation, so twisting them to fit had to be done very carefully. Also, the graphics cards just keep getting bigger. Since they can't get longer or thicker without ruining Crossfire/SLI setups, they get taller. So while my case had thumbscrews for the expansion slot covers, in practice they cannot be reached anymore without a screwdriver. Finally, there was a slight mishap with the CPU fan's wires being pulled by default a little bit too close to the fan and stopping it from moving, but thermal throttling prevented any damage. I even got an achievement in 3DMark for having a CPU bottleneck.

The real pain point proved to be the drivers. Windows 10 didn't have drivers for the integrated network card and leftover services from my old motherboard were causing install processes to stall and eventually crash. Even NVidia's drivers needed to be reinstalled a few times. Eventually things stabilized, though.

That only left my screens. I have dual Acer S271HL screens, which were connected through DVI-D cables to my old graphics card. But the new GTX 980 only had one DVI-D connector. It did have an HDMI connector, so I bought a spare HDMI cable and plugged in the second screen. And.. the color balance was off. How? Both screens are identical and were bought at the same time. And from what I understood, DVI-D and HDMI are electrically compatible and are both digital, so the screens should be receiving the same input.

I tried recalibrating the screens with an external color sensor (Spyder4 Pro), but I couldn't get the two screens to match exactly; One was just slightly brighter than the other. An external color sensor should have been able to detect and compensate for it, but no matter how many times I recalibrated the difference was still visible.

So if I couldn't get matching color profiles with different connectors, how about using the same connectors? The graphics card did have three DisplayPort connectors, so first I tried the simplest way I could find: With a pair of DP-HDMI cables. But I learnt the hard way that these cables are one-way: You can connect a DisplayPort screen to a HDMI source, but not the other way around. Even though the cable does physically fit, no image is displayed. So I had to find an another store and and buy two DisplayPort-to-HDMI converters and an additional HDMI cable. And suddenly the calibrator was able to match the color profiles. Yay.

Actual testing with games will have to wait for an another time. Hopefully the alliance capital fleet in Eve Online can find something nice to chew on.

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A lot of people bought the Strix lately. I see you all put your SpiderPro to good use! :-)
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It took around 16 hours of game time, but I'm finally done with Axiom Verge. Kind of. There's still several glitch worlds to find, but I really didn't have any success in tracking down more than one of them. Anyway, I think it's time for a postmortem. Axiom Verge is what you get when a single developer can implement their uncompromised vision. It is both a love letter to Super Metroid and an attempt to drive the genre forwards, in particular with environmental storytelling and upgrade mechanics.

The game has a vast backstory, and only a part of it is revealed during the game. Trace, the protagonist, finds himself in a strange alien world, where everything is either dead, horribly mutated or downright corrupted. And the connecting factor between the worst of the monsters is a human face, barely recognizable. And while some explanations are given or can be found, not all of them are trustworthy, and the underlying reason for the entire conflict is as mysterious in the end as it is in the beginning.

Where Axiom Verge really shines is the game mechanics. It would have been possible to just copy powerups from Metroid or Castlevania, the upgrades that you do get have their own distinctive flair. For example, instead of an ice beam you get a glitch gun which can be used to freeze certain enemies, make others less dangerous and even turn some of them into allies. Instead of a morph ball, you get a launchable, remote-controlled drone that can fit into tight spaces, dig around and even go through doors. It can also serve as a scouting tool if you launch the drone into a deep pit or something else you don't want to jump into just yet. Likewise, you don't get a speed booster, but you gain the ability to phase through walls. Instead of super bombs, you can glitch everything on the screen. All of these play with your ability to read the terrain and notice which sections can be bypassed with your new powers and which ones you need to revisit later. And of course, some secret items require you to use multiple powers properly to reach them.

There's also a shitload of weapons to be found, from the glorified puzzle-solving tools to situationally useful curiosities to general-purpose screen-clearers. Seriously, the lightning gun and the flame thrower might be among the most mundane of weapons, but their ability to cause high damage without aiming makes them pretty unbalanced. But before you get them the game is actually pretty challenging. Health pickups are infrequent, so having to find a proper firing angle to kill an enemy without getting hit can be tricky. And you really can die from a thousand minor cuts if you don't learn how the enemies move and attack. And the game will not stop you from wandering deeper and deeper into the planet and facing increasingly difficult monsters. There are damage, spread and shot size upgrades, but their effects really don't become noticeable until very late in the game. If there is an Axiom Verge 2 in the making, I wish the developer would spend some time balancing the weapons. Each should have a good reason for existing.

All in all, Axiom Verge was mostly an enjoyable game, even it wasn't as big of a step forwards for the Metroidvania genre as Freedom Planet was for Sonic platformers.  I admit I got a bit tired in tracking down the last items. The game does tell you when you have collected everything in a section of the map, but I wish it also left a marker for items that you have already collected. And because there's no X-Ray scope, finding the proper place and tool to bust through a wall can take a lot of time. Environmental hints like the faint item ambient sound from Metroid would have been helpful.

#axiomverge  
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I usually don't attend fleet operations this late, but the fleet commander promised that the long wait was worthwhile. The subcapital ships had been skirmishing around an enemy control tower for several hours, but the fleet commander kept us in reserve until the perfect opportunity presented itself. Because you can track both friendly and enemy pilots and get notifications when they log in or out, the fleet commander told us to stay logged off until needed.

And after several hours of waiting, the command to log in came. The enemy had took the bait and our fleet managed to jump right on top of them. This was the second time I got to shoot at actual players in my Chimera, so I was quite nervous. But because the system had at best almost a thousand players in it, time dilation ensured that there was ample time to react.

In the end, the battle lasted around three hours (not counting preparation, travel time and waiting), and total losses were around 114 billion ISK, of which the enemy's portion was 80.7 billion ISK. All those battleships and strategic cruisers add up when each of them costs more than a billion.

http://evf-eve.com/services/brcat/?s=45337,45330,45332,45333&b=6831270&e=210&t=qbbrvurvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv&o=1&r=1&ro=104.21666666666667

#eveonline
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Mika Hirvonen

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A Star Wars movie has certain things that can be taken as a given. Action, music, effects, sounds. All can be safely assumed to be top notch. That leaves the prequels' weakest elements, the story and the characters. The former was a bit of the same old, but I can happily say that the Force Awakens bucks a trend that many recent movies follow: Making the villain more interesting by default because the heroes are so boring. Both the old and the new cast are very likable. But I'm not saying that Kylo Ren is bad, either. Rather than hamming it up, he reminds me of the young emperor in Titus.
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More than anything, Internet needs great, quotable dialogues.
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Kaksi suurta salia on varattu efektipläjäyksille ja muille suuren budjetin leffoille, ja neljässä pienemmässä salissa pyöritetään tarpeeksi pienemmänkin profiilin elokuvia.
Atmosphere: Very GoodDecor: Very GoodService: Very Good
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
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