Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
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2016 - THE BEST OF PC GAMING TRIPLE AAA

LEARNING ABOUT THE COMPONENTS OF PC GAMING SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The breakdown of components is continued on TechTalk 2
computer An important part to running any PC game properly is to meet the the minimal system requirements listed on the game box or on the sale page of downloadable copies. There are a few exceptions where on new releases the minimum requirements may have been exaggerated, but when you run across this, be sure to get user input before you buy. New releases are steadily requiring higher specs, so if you are considering upgrading any of the components, try to future proof them as much as possible within your budget.

The following is a breakdown of each component, its definition and a brief overview of its function. Once you've acquired this knowledge and become familiar with the specs of your own system, you will be able to make informed decisions about the games you're considering purchasing. Learn to expect that older games with outdated technology will probably require some kind of modification to run them and if they don't, it's a bonus. However, one of the advantages of PC gaming is its configuration capability and with a little bit of tweaking or modding, you can get many older games up and running just fine. Not only does this give you a far broader selection, it also suits those on a limited budget making gaming accessible on outdated systems.

HOW TO LOCATE YOUR OWN SYSTEM SPECS

There are several ways to call up information on your system specs. The following is based on Windows 7, but if you're still a die-hard on Windows XP, it's very similar in this regard. See D: for Windows 8 & 10. It should be noted that XP is no longer being supported with updates by Microsoft nor Steam, nor most software apps.

A:
1. Left click on the start menu.
2. Left click on control panel.
3. Look for a file named System and left click.
4. Click on device manager.
For Windows XP, a dialog box will appear. Click on the general tab and the hardware tab and you should find some basic information about your computer.
B:
1. In the Start menu, go to Computer or (My Computer for XP), right click on it and select properties.
This will produce the same window or dialogue box as in A.
C:
1. You can also access System Information by clicking the Start menu > All Programs > Accessories > SystemTools and finally click on System Information.
This will produce a window with a more detailed menu of system information.
D:
1. Left click on the start menu.
2. Type in  run for Window 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10 or left click on run for XP.
3. Type in  msinfo32  OR  msinfo64  if it's a 64-bit system and click OK.
This will produce the same window as in C.
E:
1. In Windows 7 you can find system files by opening Windows explorer, scrolling to the bottom of the left-hand pane and opening the Control Panel tree.
This will make various control panel windows available.

Depending on your operating system, there could be other ways to reach the information. Instructions are readily available by googling it. Example Digital Citizen

PC GAMING SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Now that you know how to locate your system specs, what does it all mean and how does this affect your PC's performance? The following is a list of the components of system requirements for gaming, what they are and a short explanation of what they do. Each of these components can be upgraded individually. If you find your computer is having difficulty running games, you can change out parts and pieces for a good few years before considering a completely new system. Many people custom build their own computers, and if you're so inclined, this can be considerably cheaper than buying a pre-build. Although there are some advantages to gaming laptops such as mobility, it's doubtful whether they can ever be as powerful as a desktop, although they are making strides on this, and a main disadvantage is that usually most of the hardware cannot be upgraded.

Beware of advice that tells you to take drastic steps when a particular game won't run. There are very often much simpler solutions. Although hardware upgrades will eventually become necessary to play new releases, exhaust all other avenues such as tweaking and modding first. However, if the problem exists with a lot of your games, then it is probably a hardware problem. Possible culprits could be a faulty RAM stick or a failing hard drive.

INDIVIDUAL COMPONENTS OF SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

OS (Operating System)
This simply states what operating systems the game will run on. For instance, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Vista, Windows 7, 8, 10, Mac, Linux, Xbox, PlayStation etc. Some games may require a certain service pack, which is a Microsoft update to your operating system. If you are running Windows and don't get these updates automatically, you can check for them in Windows 7 through Start > All Programs > Windows Update. If you are still running XP, support stopped as of April 8, 2014 Microsoft. At the moment, you can still get Windows XP SP3, but whether this will remain accessible is anyone's guess. Windows 7 will continue to get security updates till Jan 2020, and Windows 8 till Jan 2023. Windows 10 gives you no choice about updates and will install these automatically. UPDATE: After a slew of lawsuits, Microsoft now lets you choose when to install updates, but will still apparently nag you about it.

It's rare for PC games to intentionally be made not to run on the major operating systems of its day, but it does happen. For instance, Halo 2 wasn't made to run on anything before Windows Vista, even though XP was still the prevailing OS. Watch you don't get caught on this as Microsoft is pulling the same dirty trick and now making PC games specifically for Windows 10 only. However, there are ways and means to get older games to run on newer technology, but it's unwise to just assume that they will without researching it first.

Compatibility Modes: There's a feature in Windows that allows you to run programs in earlier versions of Windows. This may (or may not) fix an issue with trying to run older games. To access this feature manually on Windows 7 & Windows 10, do the following;

1. Right click on the program or game icon or .exe file.
2. Left click on properties
3. Click on the compatibility tab, check the compatibility mode box.
4. Choose which options you want
5. Also choose to run as Administrator if necessary and click OK.

In Windows 8 at step 2, you can click on Troubleshoot compatibility and choose one of the options.

Administrator Rights: If you do not have Administator rights on your computer, you may have to enable this in the compatibility tab as well. Some people consider system wide Admistrator rights a security risk, but many programs require it to allow you to make changes or to install the program.
TIP: If you have a Steam version of the game, the compatibility window will not appear by clicking on the desktop game icon properties. Instead, in your Steam folder, navigate to Steam Apps > common > name of game > game name.exe, right click on this file for the properties option, choose the compatibility tab and change as above.
CPU (Central Processing Unit)

This is the component of the computer that fetches, decodes and executes instructions. Its speed at executing these functions is usually expressed in GHz (Gigahertz). The higher the number is, the faster it processes. Dual cores, quad cores and multiple cores enable faster and faster speeds. If you don't know what you have, you should find this info about your processor in the same place as explained above in "where to find your specs." Games are designed according to the technology of the times and so many older games were made for single core systems and may run too fast on multiple cores. If you have more than one core, one possible solution to fixing such a game, if you are having problems, is to set the game to run on a single core. To do so follow these instructions.

1. Once the game is launched, while you are in the menu press ctrl, alt, delete to bring up the program called task manager. Keep all three keys depressed at the same time to do this.
2. Click the task manager button, then the processes tab. A list of programs currently running on your computer will appear. Choose the game.exe (eg: painkiller.exe) and right click on it.
3. A small menu will drop down with a choice that says Set Affinity. Click this and uncheck the cores until you have only one that is checked.
4. Return to the tab Applications and make sure the game is highlighted. Click the button at the bottom of the dialog box that says Switch to and you will return to the game.

The problem with this method is that you will have to set the affinity every time you want to run the game and sometimes it doesn't take. There is another way to do this that stays in effect until you uninstall the game, but the following method requires being more careful about what you're doing.

Warning: Be sure to read all of the information and comments on the following linked sites before downloading and installing. This method may not work on Windows 10.
There's a small piece of code called imagecfg.zip that will allow you to set the configuration on any game you want to run on single core for the duration of its installation. Once this file is downloaded, installed and unzipped to the system32 folder or sysWOW64 under the Windows folder in Local disk (C:), you call up your "command prompt" window. Command Prompt is supposed to be located in your Start menu under Accessories, however, in some cases it's hidden (perhaps for your own protection). In Windows XP, I found it by going to Help and searching for it where it conveniently included a link that brought it up. You can also call it up by going to Start > Type in or click Run > and then type in cmd and click OK. In Windows 7, it is located in the Start menu under Accessories, but you need to right click it and run as Administrator. Windows 8 and Windows 10 have slightly different ways of getting there. How-to Geek A window will appear and there will be a file path showing in here that you don't want, so type in cd.. (cd with 2 periods) and press enter, cd.. and press enter, as many times as it takes to get down to only the C:\> prompt as the latest line.
TIP:  If you are receiving an error message, it may be that you have to run Command Prompt as Administrator. To do so, right click on Command Prompt and click Run as Administrator. NOTE:  Many software applications, including games, need Administrator privileges to run, but some people feel that setting your entire computer system to always run as Administrator could present security risks. You can research this matter and decide what's best for your situation. Digital Citizen
Once imagecfg is installed, locate your game's main .exe file by right clicking on the game's icon and examining the Properties. (If it's a Steam game you may not find the complete file path here and will have to locate it manually) If you don't clearly understand the instructions from the imagecfg link, go to metzomagic.com and look under Steve's XP (Legacy) games corner where you will find a series of questions, one of which deals with imagecfg and what info to type into Command prompt, which is basically imagecfg -a 0x1 then, in quotes, "the full path to your game's .exe" wherever it is located on your computer. Once done, type the word exit and push enter to quit command prompt. If you uninstall the game and reinstall it, you will have to repeat this process. (IMPORTANT !! In case of problems, backup your original game.exe before inserting the imagecfg command in Command Prompt.)
TIP: To get Windows 7 to show the full path, click to highlight the file you want in the Windows Explorer left-hand pane then left click in a blank spot in the address bar.
Ram (Random Access Memory)

Without getting overly technical, this is the amount of memory storage available to programs. All programs running on your computer take up a certain amount of memory and compared to text, graphics are memory hogs. In order for your game to run properly, you need a certain amount of memory available to it. Game labels will give you the minimal requirement. (The amount of memory your system has can also be found in your system properties.) If you need more memory, additional memory sticks can be purchased and installed in your tower, but find out how to do this safely first. (not your safety, the computer's) You should consult your motherboard manual as to what kind of memory is compatible with it and what type of slots you have. This memory is not to be confused with hard drive space. Ram memory is used temporarily. As soon as the program/game is closed, it no longer needs the memory and frees up the space. You can regain some memory by disabling unnecessary programs that open when you start your computer. To find out how to do this, you can check out How-to Geek for instructions. Memory can be expressed in megabytes or gigabytes. 1,024 megabytes equals 1 gigabyte. Two 512MB sticks will give you 1GB of memory.

Hard Drive
This is the place where all of your data is stored permanently until manually deleted by you. The game label tells you how much free hard drive space you need to install the game. When your game is not running, the files are still stored on your computer. It's not using RAM when it's closed, but it is using hard drive space. In order to find out how much free hard drive space you have open Windows Explorer and click on My Computer. In the right window pane, highlight the folder named Local Disk (C:) Next to it you should see how much space is being used by all the programs and files you have installed on your C: drive and how much is free. You can use the same method for other storage drives. This will probably be expressed in gigabytes. For more info right click on it and chose properties.

Alternately, in Windows Explorer you can just click on Local disk (C:) and the info will show in the very bottom bar of the window. You can free up space by getting rid of some unnecessary files you may have created and by doing maintenance like disk defragmentation and disk cleanup, which are found in Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Don't manually delete files that you are unsure of or you could do serious damage. Do a search to find out what it is. These days, newer games are requiring huge amounts of hard drive space. As with RAM, additional hard drives can also be purchased and added to your system. These can be internal or external.

TechTalk 2   is a continuation of the components of system requirements
HIGHEST CRITICALLY SCORED TRIPLE AAA RELEASES OF 2016
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DARK SOULS 3 at a score of 89 on metacritic is followed closely by a user score of 8.3
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CIVILIZATION VI enjoys a metacritic score of 88, but users are not so sure at 7.1
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DISHONORED 2 had a rating of 8.6 from critics, but performance problems have the disgruntled fans score considerably lower at 6.5
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RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER has a critical score of 8.6, but with a user score of 7.9
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XCOM 2 comes in on metacritic at 88, but not as high with the users at 7.2
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THE WITCHER 3 BLOOD AND WINE, an expansion pass to The Witcher 3, tops the charts with metacritic score of 92 for both critics and users alike.
SOME GAMING LINGO DEFINITIONS
2D & 3D: 2 or 3 dimensional. Imagine the difference between a painting and a sculpture. With 3D you can move around in the environment to see all sides of the object.
AI, Bot, NPC: Artificial Intelligence, Robot, Non-Playing Character. These are all characters in the game that are generated by computer programming in order to simulate the behavior of creatures or humans.
Alpha & Beta: These are first and second testing phases of software. Games may be released temporarily in these phases so that users can find the bugs and report on them.
CD Key: This is a unique registration number assigned to every copy of a game. It identifies you as a legitimate purchaser and is required for installation.
Co-op: A type of limited number multiplayer game mode where people team up and co-operate with each other to achieve a specific goal.
Crash or Freeze: Basically when your game arbitrarily quits to desktop with an error or freezes your entire system.
Cut Scene: A short movie scene in the game where you have no control over movement or saving for that period of time. Also known as cinematics.
DLC: Down Loadable Content. This could include modifications or could be additional episodes for a game. Some are free and some aren't.
Griefer: In Multiplayer games, a person who deliberately harasses and irritates other players through various means.
Indie: A game created by an individual or a development studio that is independent from a game publisher.
LAN: Local Area Network is a network that connects computers located within a relatively small area such as a house or single building. Many Co-op games use LAN, which allows you to play with family members in the same household using different computers.
MMO or MMOG: Massively Multiplayer Online Game. A game capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of players simultaneously over the Internet.
Mod: Modification. As the word suggests, as developers release their source code for a game, people can modify this code and create entirely new effects, levels, graphics and even gameplay. User mods, created by the community, are often free and can add value to your purchase if done well.
Nerf: A term used when developers change the effectiveness of ingame items or gameplay to something less desirable. The rationale for this could be to fix bugs or inbalances.
Patch: A type of mod usually released by the publisher to fix bugs, but often done by fellow gamers.
Peer-to-Peer: This is a system of connecting players without using game servers. It detects the person with the best connection and upload speed who then becomes the host. All data will now be sent to the host's computer and sent back to everyone using the host's home broadband. This can create a lot of latency. (lag)
Physics Based: Physics engines are software codes that simulate the natural laws of physics and enable you to interact with objects in the game. An example might be mimicing the actual movements of pulling a drawer open with your hand.
Platformer: A game genre characterized by jumping to and from suspended platforms or over obstacles.
Porting: Porting is the term used when a computer game designed to run on one platform, such as a game console, is converted to run on a different platform such as a PC.
PVE Player Versus Environment eg: fighting computer generated enemies. PVPPlayer Versus Player: Competing against live players.
Real Time Players must perform actions with the consideration that their opponents are actively working against them in real time and may act at any moment. Time progresses continuously according to the game clock.
Respawning The re-creation of an entity after its death or destruction. When you die and start a section over again, depending on the game, enemies may or may not respawn and you have to defeat them over again.
Sandbox / Open World A game where the player can freely roam the virtual environments.
Simulation Games that attempt to replicate real life situations.
Source Port A software project based on the source code of a computer game's engine. It allows the game to be played on operating systems or computing platforms with which the game was not originally compatible. They started out being different than mods in that they did not change the original gameplay. However, you will now find many of these that are adding changes
Strategy A game in which the players' decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome.
Tactical The emphasis here is more on battle strategy and less on exploration.
Turn Based Game flow is partitioned into well-defined parts called turns. A player is allowed a period of analysis before committing to a game action. They are able to plan their moves to a greater degree than in real time, given the extra time available to them.
NOW PLAYING FEATURE
If you've been around gaming for awhile, Grim Fandango is one of those old classics that you've likely heard referred to as "one of the greatest games ever". It received universal acclaim at the time, but was considered a commercial failure that likely contributed to Lucas Arts quitting the adventure game development business. It's ironical that Grim Fandango ...
TIPS
TIP:  For easy access, you can create a desktop shortcut to you system specs by right clicking the System file in the Control Panel and clicking create shortcut. In Windows 10, you can just drag an app or program onto your desktop from the start menu.
RECOMMENDED FEATURE
The Longest Journey series has indeed been on a very long development journey. This is the second game of three and was much anticipated by fans after the popularity of The Longest Journey. Although Dreamfall takes place in the same universe, it is not a direct sequel and replaces the former main character with Zoe Castillo, although April Ryan still plays a central role.
GAMES THAT WILL PUSH YOUR HARDWARE
Will it run Crysis ? became the defacto question for gamers any time they were asking advice about computer systems, and even today, 10 years later, this game will stretch your PC hardware to the max.
The rest of these newer games are not quite as punishing, but can still be fairly demanding if you want all the bells and whistles on high settings.