Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why Pillars of Eternity is awesome

Heritage Hill

For a while now I've been disappointed with the gaming scene. Gamers don't all enjoy the same genre of game but it really felt like the games industry is only every releasing first person shooters.

Oh I know there's games other than first person shooters being released but from the games reviews you'd think those were the only games out there.

So, Pillars of Eternity is awesome simply for being a isometric view RPG similar to Icewind Dale or Baldur's Gate. It's really been a while since one of those came out.

Just to make it more interesting, the game gives you choice in how you complete quests. Of course, it's not total freedom. That's the inherent limitation of RPGs. There's simply far too many possibilities to deal with. But Pillars of Eternity does offer quite a wide choice to pick from.

The game rewards exploration. Open up new maps, discover secret areas, or take extra efforts in solving quests to get more XP than simply following the story campaign. Even combat is given the same treatment with monster stats slowly revealing themselves as you battle more of the same type of monster. This is a neat way to giving ever lesser XP to players for defeating the same ol' monsters. In the classics like Icewind Dale or Baldur's Gate, this would be equivalent to getting less XP as your party levels up.

Soon after release, there's already news of players beating the game solo. And this is a party-based game too. Beat the game with just your single character, or beat it by recruiting companions into your party. The choice is yours.

I haven't completed the game yet. I've opted for party play, and enjoying the nice narrative and voice overs. But there's nothing wrong with that is there? That's the choice you're given in this game. Play it like a click fest if you want, or take your own sweet time to enjoy the sights and sounds in the game.

But I must say reading about others' solo exploits really tempts me to try it out, too. Maybe once I'm done with this character...

Pillars of Eternity shows what's possible with crowd funded games. Sure there's been failed crowd funded projects but that doesn't take away the awesomeness of the game.

And once I'm done, Torment Tides of Numenera beckons...

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Resume your GoG download on Linux

Unfortunately, GOG doesn't have a official download client for Linux users. This isn't a problem with smaller games, but I recently purchased Pillars of Eternity which came in at a rather large 6.7GB.

And that's not even the largest game out there!

So what's a gamer to do when he can't download his game in one go? Fortunately there are ways around GOG's current limitations.

I'll document the method that worked for me here.

I'm using Firefox so that's what I'll use to illustrate the method here.

The Firefox preferences window

In Firefox Preferences, click on remove individual cookies under the Privacy tab. Then, type in "gog-al" in the search box (minus the quotes). That should show you the cookie we need for this to work.

The value of the cookie we want is in the content field. Copy it to clipboard.
We don't really want to remove the cookie. We want to know the value which is shown under contents.

Next comes the terminal. We'll be using wget for this.

~$ wget --no-cookies --header "Cookie: gog-al=paste_cookie_content_here" -c URL

Remember to replace URL with the download link from your GOG library and "paste_cookie_content_here" with the cookie you copied earlier from Firefox.

If your download gets interrupted halfway for whatever reason you can run the same command again and it will resume from where your download stopped.

That's it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Just enough parts to run the HTPC

Archgon BluRay drive

So I've ordered a Archgon BluRay drive a last week and it arrived. I now have enough to actually run my HTPC build although it'll be limited to optical media playback for now. The storage drives will come later.

Unfortunately, I've hit a snag. OpenELEC detects a DVD inserted into the drive but selecting play disc doesn't do anything. Attempting to play the VOB files manually only worked for what looks like a advertisement video on the disc but the actual content I'm trying to watch doesn't play. I suspect it's a DRM thing and I'll need to install something extra.

So, I'm stuck with a non-working HTPC for the time being pending figuring out how to "fix" this little problem.

Here's a photo of OpenELEC 5.0.5 running. That small black box you see on the left is the HTPC.

OpenELEC 5.0.5 in action...

I'm not the only one having these issues, it seems. Others have had similar problems for a while now. I just hope a simple update to the latest version can at least reduce the problems to a more bearable level.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Continuing with my HTPC build

The major parts of my HTPC in their boxes.

I had ordered a Asrock E350M1 board and AData 2GB DDR3 RAM and they've arrived. Together with the casing and power supply I purchased earlier, and the cheapest USB key I could find (a Strontium 8GB from Popular Bookstore; it even came with a 10% discount) I now have enough parts to test if this build could work with sensible performance.

The OpenELEC install didn't take long. Following the installation instructions on the OpenELEC Wiki wasn't too hard. Everything seems to run fine. Even playing a 1080p video off a separate USB key didn't pose a problem. Playback was nice and smooth.

The wonderful Flirc Ir remote.
Oh, yeah. I guess I forgot to mention I'd bought a Flirc USB Ir Remote some time back. That one took over a month to arrive. I'd almost given up on it but I'm glad it came. Setting up Flirc for XMBC/Kodi is super simple so now I'm able to control OpenELEC using my DVD player's remote.

The only thing now is to get a BluRay drive and a pair of hard disks (or three) and this HTPC will be complete.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

The beginning of my HTPC

Cooler Master power supply and casing boxed.

I ordered a casing and power supply recently, and they've arrived. These two will be part of my budget HTPC build. They're pictured above still in their boxes (a Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced and a Cooler Master Elite Power 350W).

I'll be taking my time ordering parts in small batches.

Here's the proposed specifications for the HTPC.

Casing: Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced
Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite Power 350W
Motherboard: Sapphire Pure White AMD E350 Mini-ITX
Memory: Adata DDR3 1600 240 Pin DIMM RAM 2GB
Storage: Archgon CB-5021-GB Internal Blue Ray Burner, Western Digital 3TB Hard Disk (2 initially in RAID1 using btrfs, 3 eventually in RAID5 using btrfs)
Operating System: OpenElec

I'd initially wanted to make a separate NAS and HTPC build so I can separate storage from the media player. I'd even asked on G+ and got awesome input. This was supposed to be a higher spec'd build running the NAS while a Raspberry Pi build was supposed to the the HTPC.

In the end, I realised it wasn't a good idea for me. I've never build a NAS or a HTPC before. Tackling 2 new things at once is probably a bad thing. So instead I'll be combining them into a single machine to reduce the number of unknowns to a more manageable number.

Next purchase: Motherboard and RAM.