Category Archives: Gaming

My Rig

From time to time I get asked what hardware and GPU I’m using for DAZ Studio, as well as for gaming. Rather than typing it out every time, I thought I’d make a handy post that I can refer interested parties to. This is that post 🙂

Hardware

I’m using a (rather old) HP Z600 workstation for rendering and PC gaming. I picked it up for a song (about $170) in 2016 from eBay, after a discussion with Jonstark on the Carrara Forums.

It has two Intel Xeon quad-core CPUs working in tandem, which means the CPU alone can use 16 threads for rendering. It came with 4GB of stock RAM, to which I’ve added an additional 16GB, which means today it has 20GB in total. I also added a USB 3 card and a USB WiFi dongle for network connectivity.

GPU

The fastest GPU I could find that would fit into the Z600 (vintage 2009) midi tower case was a GeForce GTX 970 graphics card (by ZOTAC) with 4GB of RAM. I bought it specifically for use with DAZ Studio, which requires an NVIDIA compatible card for the Iray rendering engine.

What makes Iray tick (and render fast) is a metric called CUDA cores. The more of those a GPU has, the faster it can render. Mine has 1664, which at the time was quite impressive. It was $199 when I bought it on Amazon in 2016.

Operating System

The Z600 came with a Windows Vista license, but I’ve installed Windows 10 Pro on it pretty much immediately. It needs the Pro version because it has multiple CPUs, which cannot be addressed by the Home version.

You can read more about how I built this system here.

Current Consoles

I also have a several games consoles in current use:

  • Playstation 4 (Slim)
  • Playstation 3 (Super Slim)
  • Nintendo Wii (with WaveBiird wireless GameCube controller)

I also use an Xbox 360 controller with WiFi dongle for use on my Windows system.

Other Systems

Aside from the above, I also use the following:

  • a Mac Mini 2012 on my desk
  • two Mac Minis in the cloud
  • Microsoft Surface Pro (First Generation)
  • 3x GoPro cameras (HERO 4 Silver and 2x HERO 5 Black)
  • Blue Yeti microphone
  • Logitech C922 Pro Stream Web Cam
  • various iOS devices
  • various lapel microphones

How to play the Mass Effect 3 Demo on PS3 (2018)

The other day I downloaded the Mass Effect 3 Demo on my old Playstation 3. I had enjoyed Mass Effect 2 immensely, I own the trilogy for PC, and I wanted to take a look at how the Playstation 3 version looked.

To my surprise, the demo didn’t start up. All I got was an error message telling me that the EA Origin or Alliance servers are down, and then the demo quits. Which sucks.

Turns out those Mass Effect 3 demo servers have been switched off many years ago, and the game is obviously coded so badly that it thinks it can’t live without an answer from those servers. Seriously flawed design there, folks!

Lucky for us, there’s a simple trick we can use to start that demo anyway! 

Continue reading How to play the Mass Effect 3 Demo on PS3 (2018)

How to aim left/right in Mass Effect Andromeda

Ryder goes into cover automatically when you enter cover. However, by default he/she only aims to the right. That’s no good when your enemies are around the left corner. 

So how do we change that?

If they had only told us during the tutorial, ey? On PS4 and Xbox, it’s the R3 button (i.e. press the right stick). On Windows it’s the ALT key.

How to play HALO on Windows 10

The other day I bought a brand new copy of the 2001 classic HALO – Combat Evolved for Windows. I really liked this game and played it on the original XBOX quite a bit – even thought I must admit that I neither liked nor got it the first few times I picked it up. A colleague told me to stick with it, and I began to love it over time (probably when I “got” the story and the controls).

Fast forward 16 years and I thought, perhaps I’ll pick it up again. My HP Z600 with Windows 10 next to the TV is extremely capable hardware for this type of entertainment.

Imagine my disappointment however when the game installed fine on Windows 10, but refused to start. Nothing doing! I ran it as Administrator, went through all the compatibility options, but nada – HALO did not want to start up. Monkeytrumpet, I thought.

Thankfully we have the internet, and I soon came across an article that explained that I needed to download Patch 1.10 of the game from the Bungie website. A 16 year old game is still supported with updates? Go figure! Here’s the link to that patch.

Enjoy!

Hotel Dusk: Room 215

When I owned a DS console many years ago, I remember playing a game called Hotel Dusk: Room 215. It was more like an interactive book than a classic adventure game. At times a little tedious, it had a super gripping storyline and I couldn’t forget.

In the story, protagonist Kyle Hyde, former NYPD detective, has left the force and is now a door-to-door salesman. He’s still trying to find out what happened to his former partner. When his employer sends him to Hotel Dusk in LA, he finds a host of characters that all tie together into a larger plot, which appears to be connected to the disappearance of Kyle’s former partner.

When I discovered the DesMuME emulator for the DS recently, I thought I’d try running the game on my Surface Pro – and it’s almost exactly like having a super sized DS, complete with stylus.

Since the game has it’s tricky moments, I’ve made list of questions I had while re-playing the mysteries of Hotel Dusk: Room 2015.

Continue reading Hotel Dusk: Room 215

How to setup the Xbox 360 controller for Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb on Windows

I’ve bought another classic retro title from GOG.com the other day: Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (from 2003 I believe). I greatly enjoyed this game on the original Xbox and I had no idea that it had even been released for other platforms.

Turns out the game does support a (more or less) mappable Gamepad profile, but it was written many years before the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows was even invented, and as such not all buttons can be mapped.

Which means the gaming experience sucks – especially for a game with so many commands.

Luckily I found a very helpful forum post discussing these very issues, and of course someone cleverer than you and me has figured our how to get the Xbox controller to (mostly) work in this game. I did have some success following that post, but to make this thing work 100%, there are a couple of things we need to do.

I thought I’d share them in this article, in case you too would like to help Indy fight against the evil Nazis.  Continue reading How to setup the Xbox 360 controller for Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb on Windows

How to run Might and Magic III (from GOG) on your Mac

I’ve recently discovered GOG.com, the service that provides “good old games” from yesteryear to retro connoisseurs like myself. Games that used to run well on DOS and other long forgotten platforms are getting a new lease on life by being packaged up to run on today’s technology.

Many games run on Windows, Mac and even Linux – but some are only available for single platforms, mostly Windows. The Might and Magic 6-pack is such an example, available for only $9.99 (a total bargain, considering it’s 7 games).

I remember getting “Isles of Terra” free with a computer magazine in the nineties. I’m not usually into role playing games, but having enjoyed Bard’s Tale III on my C64 many years before, I gave this one a shot and loved it – just like its sequels (Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen, together making up a whole new game called World of Xeen).

I wanted to find out if I’d still enjoyed this game today, so I tried installing it on my Mac using a Windows 7 VM with Parallels Desktop. However, it didn’t run well and the mouse is interpreted rather weirdly. That’s no surprise really, because it means I’m running an emulator inside another emulator. Of course things will go wrong!

Might and Magic is installed using the DOSbox emulator under Windows, and as soon as you click the launch icon, DOSbox is launched, and within it the actual game. Thing is, DOSbox is also available for Mac, several Linux flavours and some other exotic platforms – so I was wondering if I could somehow just run DOSbox on my Mac and launch the original files from within it.

To my surprise, it works great!

Let me show you how I did it in this article. Continue reading How to run Might and Magic III (from GOG) on your Mac

How to use the Grappling Hook in XIII for GameCube

unknownI was playing XIII again the other day. The US GameCube version this time. I remember enjoying XIII on the original Xbox back in the day, as well as on PC.

Even today, there’s nothing quite like playing these old style shooters with blurry textures and blocky unsmoothed 3D objects.

That aside, I had a tough time making the Grappling Hook work, mainly because the controls on the GameCube version must be the most terrible in the history of console gaming. Sadly my copy did not come with an instruction booklet, but at $4.99 with free shipping I’m not complaining. I found no instructions on the internet either, I’m probably a lost cause and too late for the XIII party anyway.

For future generations, and my future self, here’s how the XIII GameCube control work (from what I could figure out). Continue reading How to use the Grappling Hook in XIII for GameCube

How to change your Playstation Network Password after “The Incident” (even though Sony mess you around with a link that doesn’t ever work)

Months after “The Incident” at the Sony Playstation Network happened, many users are still having problems resetting their password.

This mandatory security procedure is necessary says Sony, and I can understand that.What I can’t understand is why they keep sending you to the same link to change your password, when all said link does is bring up an error message stating that the site is down.

Let’s take a look how we can remedy this.

Continue reading How to change your Playstation Network Password after “The Incident” (even though Sony mess you around with a link that doesn’t ever work)

The Nintendo Points Scam

It has just come to my attention that you have to be careful where you buy Nintendo points and what you use them for.

For those of you who don’t know: Nintendo Points are like Microsoft Points in that you pay cash for “credits” (i.e. Nintendo Points) and then redeem these against downlaodable software. Due to the high credit card processing fees for micropayments many companies have introduced a points scheme instead where the minimum amount say £5 or £10, however the items you can buy can be much cheaper.

So here’s the scam:

1000 Nintendo Points cost you anywhere between £7 and £14.99!

Continue reading The Nintendo Points Scam