Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
Call of Juarez Gunslinger screenshot
Coming Soon :
Call of Juarez Gunslinger
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Coming Soon :
Call of Juarez Gunslinger

MORE BASICS OF PC GAMING - TAKING GHARGE

Aside from the aspects of making good choices about individual games, there are also many things to know about the industry and how their decisions affect gaming in general. Developers can be passionate about their games given it's the type of work that allows for personal creativity and direct contact with their fans, and this can lead to some misconceptions and certainly more tolerance from customers about the state of the end product. It's a bit of a phenomenon, but games are not held to the same consumer expectations as other more practical products and gamers therefore readily lay out good money for product that might not be up to par. Paradoxically, even though they will loudly complain about it, they will continue to indulge in the same buying behaviors that encourage bad industry practices. That's because gaming is basically an emotional experience, but in reality, this is at odds with the cold, hard fact that video gaming is a multi-billion dollar business driven by profits.

This often translates into developers themselves having to bow to their publisher's demands and although they can be enthusiastic about their creations, they still have to toe the line on practicalities. At the end of the day, the creators want to be paid and publishers and developers are on deadlines that can often result in releasing unpolished and buggy games. They also want to protect their work and unfortunately, laws governing consumer rights concerning software are grey areas that remain to be challenged. Software companies craft policies and licenses that give them all the advantage and often consumers can be left high and dry if they find the game is not exactly as advertised or it won't run on their system. This can leave you stuck and out of pocket with little recourse, although consumer protection policies are slowly gaining some ground depending on the law of the land.

Often, determining the cause of any given problem is particularly more difficult for PC gaming as individual systems and user errors may or may not be the problem if a game doesn't work. The only avenue you may have is the goodwill of the seller if they are not legally obligated to refund your money. Even if many people are experiencing the same issues, companies have written into their agreements that you cannot bring a class action lawsuit against them. The only real protection for consumers is to avoid making mistakes in the first place by being knowledgeable about the subject.

Although video gaming is supposed to be and is fun, it can also be very frustrating when things go wrong. And with PC gaming in particular, things "are" more likely to go wrong. PCs are like people - each is an individual and developers can't possibly anticipate every single variable. It's popular to discuss system optimization or to complain about the lack of game optimization, but like it or not, what developers and publishers do or don't do isn't the only variable. We also share some responsibility for the health of PC gaming in general and how we respond to industry practices can have an impact. Firstly though, we need to optimize our own practices and learn to avoid basic user errors and misconceptions. The following is a general overview of what to keep in mind in order to minimize as many disappointments, annoyances and costly mistakes as we can.

NOW PLAYING
Assassin's Creed Black Flag Preview: After some less-than-stellar and same-old, same-old entries to the Assassin's Creed franchise, Black Flag brought a new invigoration to the series with a entire game built around one of AC3's side activities. Pirating the high seas proved to be a very popular theme and Ubisoft actually did a good job of it too. This game still stands out as one
of the best in the bunch. It was a much needed boost to the series after the disappointment of AC3 when performance issues started to take a real nose-dive.
 cont'd

HOW TO MINIMIZE FRUSTRATIONS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS

How publishers rate the success or failure
of a video game is often determined by its first day sales, which can reach into the millions of copies. Many people want that game the second it's released. However, this is also the peak time for bugs and glitches to abound and some of them may be out of your control. Servers can get overwhelmed with millions of people trying to download the game on day one. If you have confidence in the developers quickly releasing patches, you may want to take the chance, but you can save yourself some grief by waiting for that first flush of user reviews. From these you will find out whether the problems are minor or much more serious. There's nothing worse than getting all hyped up to play on your day off only to find out that your game won't load or is unplayable in its current state. The last few years have been bad for Triple AAA games being released before they are truly polished and it seems to be trending with developers and publishers to either put gag orders on game journalists or not issue previews for review before release. That's a big, red warning flag you should be paying attention to. Critic pre-reviews can also be done on free copies distributed to them by the publishers and often these are not the same as the final release to the public. In addition, many of them are reviewed on console versions and not on PC versions, which can vastly differ in performance.
Make sure your operating system,
memory and graphics card are all sufficient to handle the game. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's surprising how many people buy blind. This can also work in reverse as depending on the age of the game, it may have its own set of problems concerning compatibility to newer technology. If you plan to make PC gaming a hobby, you can resign yourself to the fact that hardware upgrades may eventually become necessary to play the latest releases. Newer PC games can take up huge amounts of hard drive space and require the latest drivers to run properly. You will also have to become comfortable tinkering around in config files and graphic card management programs. Check out TechTalk for an easy lesson in the components of game system requirements and where to find the information about your own machine. Even if you have done your homework, you may still run into the occasional dud that will just not work for you, but if the requirements have been met, it's rare not to find some way around the problem. Check Features for a list of PC game reviews which include issues and possible fixes.
Although this is not so much of an issue anymore,
except perhaps for older games and older systems, do you have a CD drive or a DVD drive or both? Due to compatibility issues, some people keep their old machines just to play older games. This is that tray that you open and put the disc in to install the game. If you're a bargain bin shopper, check the game label to make sure you're not buying a DVD if you only have a CD player or vice versa. Many older games are CD technology. This is only significant if you want a hard copy and due to the rise in popularity of digital downloading, many machines do not even have CD drives any more.
Check the game modes
as some games "are" only multiplayer, or mostly multiplayer, so make sure there is also a decent single-player campaign if that is your interest. Also, the reviews might be quite different for each mode. Left 4 Dead is an example of this. Although online play will keep you interested much longer, the single-player portion is short and nothing to write home about. I knew this by reading reviews and only purchased it when I could get it Left 4 Deadcheap - LOL! Much later, however, I learned about all the add-on community single-player mods, which then gave the game much greater value. So, do some research first before you buy.
Again, through research,
find out how well the game plays using the keyboard and mouse and whether the keys can be re-mapped. With so many games being ported to PC from the console, the developer's proficiency at doing this can range from good to inept. For example, you cannot re-map the keys in Dead Space 1 without a third-party mod. Also, at one time using the arrow keys for movement was standard, but now it seems to lean toward WASD. Some games have not allowed for the choice, which can be a problem for arrow users, southpaws or people with disabilities. Sleeping Dogs is a prime example of this. There are also ported games that really need to be played with a controller and are basically unplayable without one. Reading reviews should give you the heads up, but often do not, so be specific in your search queries or ask in the forums. Many Indie games do not include a key rebinding function.
If you are purchasing
a used game, make sure it either does not require a CD key or if it does that it's included in the game. A CD key is an identification number of a legally purchased game and is required to install it. Steam accounts, games purchased through Steam, and games that require Steamworks to play cannot be resold period, even with a key, so watch out for people trying to resell these. If purchasing new games online, always buy from trusted sources. Do not buy CD keys from shady sites. Keys that have been registered to specific clients cannot be re-used. Millions of people play games and unfortunately this attracts scam artists, so be sure to purchase or trade for these through legitimate and safe means as you will have no recourse otherwise. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Everyday on the Steam Community forum, you will see new threads titled "I've Been Scammed." Use the power of Internet search to get feedback from users. You can check the section called GameClients for info on the most well-known and trusted sites for buying games.
If you are going to download games,
patches, mods or any kind of software whether free or otherwise, if a dialog box comes up asking whether to save or run the file, ALWAYS SAVE. Set up file folders for any software programs, updates, patches or save game files you download. Once downloaded, it will ask if you want to open the folder. Say yes and then right click on the file and from the drop down menu scan it with your anti-virus program. If it is safe, then double left click on the .exe file to install it on your computer. The last thing you need is a virus. The exception to this is when you download games from trusted and well known sites that automatically install the game.
One of the things
you should check before purchasing is whether the game needs patches. If it does, once the game is installed, also download the patch and install it - keeping in mind to save first and check for viruses. Most games will need patches and they can be found either on the official game site or on many other sites. Find a site you like and trust and use it for patches for all your games. Also be aware that there may be different patches required for a hard copy or a digital copy and will not work if you mix them up. Games that use clients to launch, such as Steam and Uplay, are usually automatically patched with any official patches, but may still need user patches. Fortunately, there are many talented people who do these mods for free. Older games that are still readily available on distribution sites may already be officially patched to whatever the last-supported version was.
Shop around for the best prices.
Games constantly go through sale cycles and if you are patient, the game you want will come on sale through one distributor or another. As a savvy consumer, you shouldn't confine yourself to one single source when there are many other perfectly safe choices. If you prefer using Steam for its features, most of them offer Steam keys that can be added to the client.

MORE DETAILS ON DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT (DRM)

DRM is a broad term for a piece of encrypted code inserted into software which is supposed to ensure that only those who have purchased the product are able to use it. However, these DRM schemes often seem to hurt the legitimate buyers more than the pirates and can be just as prone to being glitchy as the game. There are different forms of DRM and some are more intrusive than others and may remain on your computer after the game is uninstalled. It's a highly controversial subject and some people won't buy games with any kind of DRM attached to them. However, in this day and age, avoiding some form of DRM is becoming more difficult. At the very least, you can expect online authentication of a key. You should keep in mind the following broad types of DRM and how they may or may not affect your decisions. These are very basic explanations and all have their unique problems. If you want to know more about a specific issue, click on the link or do a search.

The other type of DRM commonly referred to is the requirement to register with a second and even third party client such as Steam, Origin or Uplay in order to register and/or play your game. See GameClients for more detail.

SecuRom

This is a specific DRM used for CD/DVD copyright protection and aims to prevent duplication of the software. By requiring the disc to be in the drive to play the game, it enables it to distinguish between a legal copy and a burnt copy. Securom can also control digital distribution, the number of installations of a game and the number of installations on a specific machine, although it does offer a revoke activation tool for some games. As you can well imagine, this has caused an uproar in the gaming community and some high profile games have suffered over this with people refusing to buy. Bioshock, Mass Effect and Spore are some past examples, although SecuRom has since been downgraded or removed on many of these older games. It has also been controversial as it can remain on your computer even after the game has been uninstalled. Recently, Microsoft issued a security update for Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10 that no longer supports and breaks games that use SecuRom or SafeDisc. Apparently, it is only the disc-based versions of games that are affected and there is a work-around.

Tagès / Solidshield

This is another form of software copy protection and the game requires Tagès for activation. The Tagès device drivers are installed on the first launch of any Tagès-protected application. There are some compatibility problems with Windows that can cause problems on your computer and the Tagès drivers may need to be updated from their site. Once again, some games have since had this removed.

Steamworks

If a game uses Steamworks and you are not already registered with Steam you will have to install this application when you install the game. This requires an initial online registration, but then you can install the game on as many systems as you want. After this, a physical disc becomes redundant as the game will be available through the Steam client indefinitely. You should read Steam's SSE (Steam Subscriber Agreement) before deciding if it's for you. There are very strict rules about sharing your account, although they have recently introduced family sharing. If you can live with the agreement, you will likely be happy with the many sales, but as with everything, there are Steam lovers and Steam haters and Steamworks is still a form of DRM. However, if you can say nothing else about Steam, at least they are dedicated to PC gaming and have contributed greatly to it's health. (If you're interested in joining Steam, a community member put together a list of games that still include a form of DRM as well as those in which the DRM has been removed in the Steam versions. Over time, this project has evolved into a comprehensive gaming wiki. Kudos to him. See PC Gaming Wiki)

Games For Windows Live (GFWL)

This is an online gaming service for Windows branded PC titles, which enables Windows to connect to this live service. This requires you to have an Xbox live account for online registration. However, if you want to play single-player only, you can register and then choose the option to play off-line. If you do not register, the game will not allow any saves. It was widely rumored that Microsoft would drop GFWL in July of 2014, but that has come and gone and there has been no official announcement by Microsoft. Some former games using this have converted to Steamworks and there is much speculation about what will happen to many other games. It remains to be seen whether developers will keep supporting their games by removing this DRM or whether these games will become defunct. Keep your eye on this one folks if you have or intend to buy GFWL games. GFWL games are also known to cause problems during launch. This is likely caused by outdated versions and may be solved by updating the GFWL client before running your game.

Denuvo

The developer of Denuvo has not revealed how its anti-tampering technology works. They insist this system differs from DRM in that it "prevents the debugging, reverse engineering and changing of executable files," whatever that means. Although cracking groups have seen some success, they admit it has taken much longer and are finding this frustrating. There is also a lot of speculation amongst users concerning whether it shortens the life span of SSD drives, which the company denies. Although Denuvo admits that the technology won't stop the pirates forever, their main concern is protecting games during their first few months after release.

Always Online DRM

Some games require a constant connection to the server through the Internet. Of course, if you lose connection to the server, you won't be able to play your game, even in single-player mode. In the past, companies such as Electronic Arts and Ubisoft were so heavily criticised about this that they had to withdraw it, but now it is cropping up again. The justification given for this is a constantly evolving game world. Although, many users are very resistant to this, some developers are still ploughing forward with this model with the idea that their games will have a longer shelf life and become bigger cash cows.

As of October 2015, always-online games with single player modes that have had dead servers for six months or longer are now exempt from DMCA prohibitions on circumventing copyright protection. Quote "Video games in the form of computer programs embodied in physical or downloaded formats that have been lawfully acquired as complete games, when the copyright owner or its authorized representative has ceased to provide access to an external computer server necessary to facilitate an authentication process to enable local gameplay" This basically means that in the US, at least, it is legal to circumvent any DRM for online games where the server has been shut down.

Client Based DRM

As well as hardware based DRM that ties your game activation to a certain machine, there could additionally be client based DRM. This means that you must register your CD key with a specific provider in order to launch, play and save your game. Some of these clients include EA/Origin, Steam, Uplay and Xbox Live. For digital copies, some sellers may offer just a simple downloader application, but may also still require one of these clients to actually play it. As an example, if a game uses Steamworks, no matter where you buy it, you will need a Steam account. After registration, these clients may or may not offer an offline mode for single-player games. It is not uncommon to have more than one form of Drm on a single game and it is often difficult to track down just exactly what games have what DRM as publishers and developers are not very forthcoming about it.

Basics 3 - Industry Trends  covers the current industry trends and the many ways publishers and developers can raid your wallet.

Basics 1 - Know Thyself  Customize your gaming experience by exploring your personal likes and dislikes.
ON MY WISHLIST
Waiting for red hot sales on those new game releases? Many of them are part of a series so if you've missed previous versions, you can scratch the itch by playing them while you wait. Some of them are better than the sequels anyway.
DEUS EX
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Deus Ex Mankind Divided suffers due to bad publicity over some questionable practices by the publisher, but I'm keeping it on my wishlist because the game itself is supposedly fairly good.
For now, Deus Ex Revolution is the better buy if you've somehow missed this highly rated game.
FALLOUT
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Fallout 4 is on my wishlist as a "maybe" because I loved Fallout 3, but hated Fallout New Vegas. Although the main game goes on sale often enough, the season pass and DLC remain expensive.
The best part about Fallout 3 is that you get to adopt a dog named Dogmeat. He will remain your faithful protecter and companion and love you regardless of your faults.
TOMB RAIDER
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Rise of The Tomb Raider is a game I really want, so just waiting for that deal I can't refuse.
Tomb Raider 2013 takes Laura Croft's story right back to the beginning in a modern re-invention of the series.
ZOMBIES
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Dying Light The Following is another one I really want, but the developers keep adding things to keep the price high.
There is no predecessor to Dying Light, but the developers, Techland, did make another zombie-themed series of which Dead Island is the best. The sequels to that, not so much.
DISHONORED
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This is another must have just because the first one was great. However, this may have to wait till I upgrade my system as apparently there are performance problems.
Dishonored is another very highly rated game and can often be gotten for a song during sales.
ARTICLES & HOW-TO's
TIPS
TIP:  More and more PC games are being released without customizable controls. In the past, this feature was just taken for granted, but not any more. Often, it is not readily apparent that you cannot remap your keyboard keys and you may have to search fairly diligently to discover this nasty little omission. This can present a major problem for left-handed or handicapped people or people who are just comfortable with certain control schemes.
This issue has become more prevalent than it should be, especially with Indie games. For instance, the highly popular and critically acclaimed Ori And The Blind Forest had no customizable controls until a new edition was released. So don't just take it for granted and ask fellow users before committing. Sometimes you may be able to reconfigure the config file or use a tool called AutoHotkey for rebinding.
TIPS
TIP: Clients Apps which are necessary to run certain games such as Steam, Uplay, Origin and GFWL etc. often have updates. If you are having difficulty getting a game to launch, be sure that you have the latest version of the applicable client. Some older games still include the old launchers as well, so you must update the client and any secondary DRM client it uses before launching the game. Most notorious for this problem are games that use GFWL. You can grab the latest GFWL here. Update your clients often just by opening them every once in awhile, even if you are not using them a lot.
HOT RELEASES
Get Even screenshot

GET EVEN: June 2017
GENRE: Action Horror
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

Prey screenshot

PREY: May 2017
GENRE: First-person Shooter
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

Little Nightmares screenshot

LITTLE NIGHTMARES: Apr 2017
GENRE: Puzzle Platformer
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

screenshot

MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA: Mar 2017
GENRE: Action RPG
MODES: Single-player, Multiplayer
METACRITIC RATING: 72