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DarthFos
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Life
Once again, my page has become quiet due to a not so little thing called Life. It is this one thing we all have to deal with in our own ways and ultimately make decisions around. For me, Life has been busier than normal which has required me to choose to prioritize certain things ahead of my hobbies.

Hobbies are good but sometimes you have to put them on hold. I'll get back to my extensive pile of hobby projects soon but right now, I need to keep my brain focused on other things.

New hobby based stuff will show up... Soon™
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Bill Owen's profile photo
 
Amen to my fello Munky 
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Streaming the Game Beast
As anyone who follows gaming might have heard, Valve has finally taken the Steam In-Home Streaming functionality out of beta for the masses to use: http://store.steampowered.com/streaming/

The implications from a HTPC perspective are quite awesome.  If you already have a beast machine for games, you can now have a lower powered (quiet) system for your HTPC to stream your games to.  I haven't had a chance to test the functionality myself but the thought of using the oomph of my main gaming system to stream a game somewhere else is very cool.  

Speaking of cool, here is a thought some might not have considered.  Gaming PCs are notorious heat producers and I know when I get a good gaming session going, my office gets pretty warm (especially in the summer).  The idea of being able to move the beast somewhere else as a headless game pixel cruncher and stream that to a reasonably capable PC in my office is awesome.

This also ties into my SITH project which is a custom scratch built HTPC concept I'm working on.  It will be rocking a GTX760 for local pixel crunching (no lag / multiplayer) but for cases where a game is absolutely nasty, I can have the beast do the hard crunching and stream to SITH.  Add in my Synology to host music/videos and SITH will be a great evil system for my TV.  I really need to get going on this thing!
Play your Windows games on devices running other operating systems. Currently Mac OS X, Linux, and SteamOS, with support for more systems coming soon. Play your demanding games on lower-end systems. System requirements dictate the rig you'll need to run your game, but with In-Home Streaming they ...
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May the 4th is coming so keep your eyes here for some new content.  It's time I started posting again so that seems like the ideal day to do so. :)
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Valve is a big tease
As many have seen, Valve is up to their usual routine of teasing information to their users.  On Monday, they finally dropped the first of three announcements revolving around their Steam Big Picture / Livingroom initiative.  Not much of a surprise is their first announcement being their SteamOS.  I kind of figured that is where they would be going with all their talk about Linux but now it's time to speculate the next two announcements.

Before I get into the next two announcements (and my particular speculation around them), here is a snippet from Gabe Newell's speech at LinuxCon:

"Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities we see for bringing Linux into the living room, and potentially pointing further down the road to how we can get it even more unified in mobile."

Interesting yes and then there is this:

"There are sets of issues to making sure whatever platform you have works well in a living room environment.  There are thermal issues and sound issues, but there also a bunch of input issues. So the next step in our contribution to this is to release some work we've done on the hardware side."

Hardware is a logical step but does that necessarily mean Valve is getting into the console business? I think it could be possible but a part of me thinks: "Why would Valve bother getting into selling & supporting hardware?"

If you looked at their announcement page, they actually reveal an aspect of their plans in a very subtle way.  Go here: http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/ and look at the three circles at the bottom.  Inside are the following subtle icons (which I will identify in glorious ASCII art)

1.)     O
2.)  [O    ]
3.)  O + O

We now definitely know #1 is the SteamOS and that makes sense.  When we now look at #2, all that yells to my brain is the hardware side of what SteamOS will run on.  Some will say "STEAMBOX!" and while that is the most obvious, I'm thinking this will actually involve two components:  

2a) A detailed list of the supported hardware configurations for the SteamOS platform.  The DIY crowd will be able to build to suit the OS and Valve is only on the hook for supporting the OS on hardware they say they will support.

2b) Partner Hardware Systems.  This is a logical step and would make the most sense coming from a digital distribution and software focused company.  Push all the marketing, distribution and hardware support onto some vendors that are good at building hardware and keep your focus on the OS itself.  The vendors do all the work and your OS gains traction in the market. I believe there will be a SteamBox but I don't think it will be built by Valve.

Alright, that leaves us with the O+O component.  Since the first "O" in that is SteamOS, I am leaning towards SteamOS combining with another platform.  Remember that first quote I showed above?  I base this third theory on this little part: "...and potentially pointing further down the road how we can get it even more unified in mobile."

3.) My speculation on this third announcement is a play by Valve into the mobile space.  I'm going with SteamOS + SteamMobile and how they can join up both worlds. The mobile gaming market is huge so why wouldn't Valve want to tap into that revenue stream too and link it right into their SteamOS.  Maybe something along the lines of the NVIDIA Shield and Sony PS Vita type stuff where your SteamOS device works with your mobile/handheld hardware (streaming, cloud support, etc).

Short summary or the TL:DR version:
1.)     O     = SteamOS (announced)
2.)  [O    ] = Partner Hardware (SteamBox) and DIY Hardware Specs
3.)  O + O = SteamOS + SteamMobile (or whatever they will call it)

We won't know for sure until Valve actually drops the other two announcements.  These are my thoughts and while I'm fairly confident on #2, I suspect #3 is going to be the real Valve surprise in this announcement trilogy.
Last year, we shipped a software feature called Big Picture, a user-interface tailored for televisions and gamepads. This year we’ve been working on even more ways to connect the dots for customers who want Steam in the living-room. Soon, we’ll be adding you to our design process, so that you can help us shape the future of Steam.
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Daniel Carr's profile photoDarthFos's profile photo
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3rd Announcement is a Steam Controller... ok. I guess it is fitting to have a way to interface with SteamOS but I wasn't quite expecting that.
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Sorry Wallet, it's for a good cause
Why am I apologizing to my wallet? STEAM SUMMER SALE! Yep, it is that time of the year again when Steam slashes prices on different game titles with Daily Deals, Flash Sales and Community Choice selections.  For those who haven't gone through a thorough Steaming of your cash flow, here are a couple tips I've learned.

1.) Don't buy everything on day one.  The deals fluctuate so put a watch on your favorite title you don't own yet.  Add it to your wishlist so you can keep an eye on it.

2.) Is a new major title currently 50% in a Daily Deal, Flash Sale or Community Vote? If not, wait for it.  Quite often they sit at 25% off or 33% off and then BOOM a 50% deal happens at some point.

3.) Older titles quite often get some kind of 75% off Flash or Daily deal.  Those are the ones that sit at 50% for most of the sale so watch for that extra bonus drop in price.

4.) Participate in the Community Voting.  You will basically be helping to decide what game gets a nice discount every 8-hours.

5.) Already have a title but are also a good friend? Wait for some killer deals (ie 75% or more) on cheaper titles and buy them as gifts.  I have several games in my inventory that I've slated to give away to my buddies.

6.) Own a title but haven't bought all the DLC packs for it yet?  Now might be a good time to get them as those too will all be on sale.

Shop smart, Shop S-Mart.  (in this case... Steam)

http://store.steampowered.com/
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Vroom Vroom SPLAT
I have a feeling some of you racing game fans might be interested in this particular bit of news. For some time now, the port of the original Carmageddon game has been available as a mobile app on iOS with the Android version "Coming Soon".  Guess what! Coming Soon = Friday May 10th on Google Play and it will be free for the first 24 Hours.  Android users, mark your calendars in the blood of splattered pedestrians!
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I keep forgetting Stainless Games is in the UK so Friday has started... Enjoy Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stainlessgames.carmageddonpromo and also iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/id498240451 
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Hadouken!
It's not very often I get pulled into a web series but this one caught me off guard.  I just binge watched the entire series.  I'm talking about the Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist series on Machinima which consists of 12 episodes.  Initially, you may find the Ken/Ryu component a little cheesy but power through to basically learn their origins along with how Akama came to be.  Production wise, this is a very cool series and I really recommend it if you are a Street Fighter fan.

Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist - YouTube Playlist
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZLTS4u9M_2r89MGqgDNGGxQfmLuhtxqU
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SITH: Evil will reveal itself... soon.

It's May the 4th and as it is Star Wars day, I will post this little teaser. For quite some time, I have been planning a custom built Home Theater PC. The thing is, I don't want a typical giant desktop or cube shaped blob like most purchased HTPC cases tend to be.  For me, it has to fit this criteria:

1.) Fit into an actual TV stand component location properly

2.) Be powerful enough to run Steam and multiplayer games at 1920x1080 on the TV.

3.) Be quiet.

I have some strong system components in hand, the chassis will be as small as I can make it and it will be completely water cooled (because I'm evil like that).

More will be revealed this summer.
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Get your Func on
Got my hands on a Func Gaming Mouse, took pictures of it, tested it out and then assembled words about it in the form of a review.  

Oh yeah and the Mod Zoo is giving one away as a bonus and you can enter for it on their Facebook page: 
https://www.facebook.com/TheModZoo
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The OUYA Kickstarter Legacy
Deep down, I’m a very patient person and when projects go sideways, I am accepting of delays when there is actually a reason behind it. I’ve backed several Kickstarter projects that are delayed but the project owners have at least explained why and their backers thanked them for it.  In the case of OUYA, my patience has worn painfully thin to the point that I’m now writing this assembly of words about this particular experience.

To really grasp the source of backer frustration, you must go through the series of events.  With these dates explained, you’ll have the proper foundation for why so many Kickstarter Backers of the OUYA console are annoyed; especially today on RETAIL LAUNCH DAY!

April 5: Update #21: OUYA states they started shipping units on March 27th.  You know, 3 months ago.

April 19: Update #23: Nearly 20% of early backer shipments will be on the move.

April 26: Update #24: We’re now estimating 50% of all orders will be on the way by end of next week and Limited Edition orders will start shipping next week. Yeah, 2 months ago.

May 3: Update #25: “Will early backers receive their consoles before OUYA becomes available in retail?” “The answer is Yes…”.  This is when retail launch was still slated for June 4.

May 10: Update #26: OUYA gets 15M in new funding and delays June 4 retail release to June 25 “… to meet all this demand to give us time to make more OUYAs.” 60% shipped according to chart

May 17: Update #27: “We remain on track to have all early backer shipments out the door by the end of May.” Chart shows 80%.

May 24: Update #28: 100% SHIPPED!. DHL tells them scanning all shipments which triggers confirmation e-mails may be delayed until next Wednesday (May 29). Yup, 100% shipped, a month ago.

May 31:@OUYASupport Tweets: “https://twitter.com/OUYASupport/status/340461166725840896” “We will be posting another announcement to our Kickstarter page this afternoon. Thanks for your patience!”. This was response to many Twitter posts about not getting any updated information. Adding insult to everything, this update never happens.

June 2: “myouyaiscoming” E-Mail stating my unit has reached their distribution center a full week after they were supposedly 100% shipped.  I guess “100% shipped” meant from the end of the conveyor belt to a pallet in the factory shipping department.

June 11: “Your OUYA is on the move.” with a tracking number that still doesn’t work for a link that didn’t exist in the e-mail in the first place (and yes I’ve tried the appropriate proper tracking sites)

June 11-13: OUYA sets up shop in a parking lot outside of E3.

Remainder of June: Continued deafening silence on Kickstarter where users now have to resort to getting answers from the support e-mail, twitter contacts or by reading unanswered comments on Kickstarter and forums.

June 21: E-mail with subject: “Your damn OUYA tracking number still doesn’t work? PLEASE READ”. They may have thought the subject line was cute but at this point it feels more condescending.  The solution they provide only works for some and they didn’t even bother giving credit to the person that actually found the solution. That person was a backer who posted the solution in the Kickstarter comments days earlier.

June 24: Update #29: Tomorrow OUYA will officially launch!  The first update in a month and a shiny gem of blame tossing: “And -- if you were one of our backers that was impacted by the complications caused by DHL (shipping service) and have yet to receive your OUYA, please know that we are working overtime to get this resolved. We will continue to push our partners to find a resolution and will work directly with you and keep you in the loop until every backer has an OUYA in-hand. Thank you for all of your patience and support.”

June 25: Update #30: “Gonna fix this.” “Backers, I am pissed. Some of you have not yet received your OUYA -- and, to you, I apologize. I did not promise to ship to most of you before we hit store shelves. I promised to ship to all of you. I’ve been reading your comments, and we are working to solve this.” – Julie. 12:10AM on Launch day. So all the issues are some kind of surprise to you now?

The above timeline basically shows how the OUYA team has treated their backers.  I patiently watched as users commented in the Kickstarter page, the OUYA Twitter accounts and in forums to get canned responses or were told to submit tickets to the support email.  Generally, most backers probably checked the Kickstarter page for information only to find that big void in June where OUYA left everyone hanging.  The only recourse was to sift through tons of angry comments to find snippets of hope like the DHL tracking solution provided by a backer that worked for some.

To top everything off, many International backers that coughed up the extra $20 for shipping are being charged by DHL for additional handling fees. I was expecting to get hit with taxes (that’s normal) and most likely customs charges but not to the degree some people are being charged.  Source: http://ouyaforum.com/showthread.php?2741-International-OUYA-Backers-getting-charged-extra-Customs-charges .  Some backers have become so frustrated with this that they refused their packages, reversed charged their credit cards and have been demanding refunds.  Not receiving their units prior to this retail launch has started a new flurry of refund requests in the Kickstarter comments as frustrated backers continue to vent.

I will give the OUYA guys the benefit of the doubt for not being prepared to handle the massive logistics involved with firing 60,000 consoles to individuals all over the world.  Face it, their campaign went ballistic and at over 9X their goal, it became a viral success beyond what they anticipated.  That being said, their ultimate failure comes down to a simple and controllable aspect of their campaign: Communication to their backers.

Think of how the story would have been different if they didn’t show up in a parking lot at E3 and instead put all that time & energy into resolving support issues for backers.  The positive spinoff from that would have probably had more news reach and impact than the childish antics going on between them and the E3 organizers.

I’m still looking forward to my OUYA and will enjoy tinkering with it (when it shows up).  It’s cool to see something succeed but let this also be a great lesson to those who strive to do the same.  No matter what happens, keep the communication alive between you and your backers.
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DarthFos's profile photoBrad Chacos's profile photo
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There is patience and then there is this situation.  I'm giving OUYA until tomorrow for the unit to arrive (tracking # still doesn't work).  If it doesn't show up, I'm going after them for a refund because I'm pretty well done even remotely caring about this console anymore.
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Chaos Comes in All Forms
Sorry about the silence lately but I have had life throw me some real curve balls lately which resulted in screwing up my life/work/everything schedule beyond belief.  Once I get past this unexpected event filled period, I will get back to game stuff and random discussions like that.  :)
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It's a Weekend of Chaos!
It would figure that it is a Double XP Weekend in Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), a Double XP / Double Station Cash Weekend in Planetside 2 and I received a brand new video game closed beta invite (Sorry, NDA) all at once.  To say that creates a little chaos in my free time is an understatement considering all my other games & projects I still haven't done.  My work/life balance has been a bit off hence the less frequent updates & postings.

For me, family comes first and I will drop what I'm working on when I'm needed. That has been the case for the last few weeks which is why there are less updates, I'm now behind schedule with my work projects and the gaming rig hasn't been powered on for over 2-weeks.  Things are settling down but the impact to my work schedule can't be easily remedied.  Sorry gaming and this glorious weekend of possibilities but you will have to wait.

For the rest of you with free time, if you like FPS games and haven't tried Planetside 2, this weekend is a prime time to dive in.  Double XP gains & Double Station Cash rewards is definitely a good thing.
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Welcome to the Dark Side
Introduction
DarthFos Google+ Page
 
Welcome to my Google+ Page where I plan to write random things about video games and discuss gaming related topics I find interesting.  I do reserve the right to ramble on about other topics when the mood strikes.
 
This page is for the fun of it and I hope you enjoy it as well.
 
My Custom Profile Image created by Lar deSouza, amazing artist for http://lfgcomic.com and http://leasticoulddo.com web comics.
Check out his work sometime and his personal store here: http://lartist.myshopify.com/.