Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
BEYOND AAA
THE BEST OF INDIE GAMING
MOST POPULAR
INDIE
RELEASES
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THE BEST OF PC GAMING - POPULAR:  2016 INDIE RELEASES
THE BEST OF PC GAMING - POPULAR: 2016 INDIE RELEASES
RECENT POST-RELEASE REVIEWS - SEE FEATURES FOR BEST SINGLE PLAYER GAME REVIEWS
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MAGICINDIE COLLECTION
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OUTLAST
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QUAKE 4
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MURDERED SOUL SUSPECT
PAGE 2

NEXT-GEN PC GAMING AND SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

computer You'll likely run across lots of talk about "next-gen" gaming. This can simply be referring to the latest iteration of consoles, which promise bigger and better things, or it can refer to what developers are able to accomplish with newer and faster processing technology. This translates into more detailed and realistic visuals, more dynamic open-world games that are affected by the player's choices, new game mechanics, and more realistic physics that affect anything from lighting effects to character appearances and movements. However, although the idea is appealing, many developers have not quite figured out how to best optimize this technology, the result being insanely high PC system requirements and less than perfect performance. In addition, some developers, in the pursuit of great visuals and tech design, seem to have forgotten the number one reason people buy games, which is for the fun. If a game is not fun, no amount of latest, greatest tech is going to save it. Given the number of problems with new Triple AAA releases over the past couple of years or so, next-gen game development seems to be a painful learning process as many users give scathing reviews and low scores on what were highly anticipated games.

MORE ABOUT THE COMPONENTS OF PC GAMING SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Disc or Disk Drive ( both spellings are correct )

Obviously the thing you put your game disk into in order to install the software on your machine. This hardware is usually located in your tower, although there are also external disk drives. The specifications have to do with the speed in which it transfers the information on the disk to your computer. I haven't paid any attention to this and have never had a problem, however, due to a type of DRM that requires you to play with the disk in the drive, the speed that information is transferred onto your system would account for the requirement. Newer games will use DVD's as they hold more information. Older games on CD's may have as many as 5 discs that need installed. Newer drives will accept both CD and DVD discs. This spec on the label will tell you whether the game needs a CD drive or a DVD drive, which is imperative information as they are not interchangeable. It might also tell you what speed it needs to be. Many people don't install CD drives in their tower anymore and it looks like they may be heading for extinction.

Video and Sound
These requirements have to do with your video and sound cards and their compatibility to DirectX. DirectX is a Microsoft application consisting of a set of standard commands and functions that developers use in programming their software. These applications are usually used in video games and manage the functions of the video and sound. Most users need only the DirectX "End-User Runtime" installed on their computer in order to run DirectX-enabled software. This is automatically included with your Windows operating system. The label will tell you which minimal version is needed to run the game.
For more information on DirectX, you could read the following; The Software Patch and Computer Hope.
Some games will include the DirectX version and when you are installing will give you the option of installing this also. You shouldn't need to install this if you already have that version or higher, but it won't hurt anything if you want to play it safe.
If you would rather update manually, go to Microsoft DirectX Update, but make sure your operating system and video card support the version you update. This info should be on the graphic card box. Many games are still using DirectX 9, but may give the option of using DirectX 11.
( Also, DirectX 10 can't be installed on an XP system and DirectX 11 only under certain conditions even though your graphics card may support it. This means that if you have XP, you cannot play Just Cause 2 on your system as it requires DirectX 10. You gotta love Microsoft.)
The newest DirectX is 12, but this can only be installed on Windows 10. If you don't have your graphics card box, you may have to research what versions your Graphics card will support. Updating your video and sound drivers and DirectX is the first step to overcoming game glitches. To find out which version of DirectX you have do the following:
  • 1. Click on start
  • 2. Click on run or type in run and click on run
  • 3. In the dialog box that appears type dxdiag
  • 4. Or just type in dxdiag in the search box of the start menu
Another window will appear with all the information under the system tab. While here also click the display tab and the sound tab which will give you the information about your cards and driver versions. Not all developers use DirectX, but it is by far the most popular at the moment.
A Note about Open GL (Open Graphics Library)
This is an alternative to DirectX. These programs are called API's, which is short for Application Program Interface. An API enables programs to directly communicate with each other. The basic function of OpenGL is to issue a specific collection of executables or commands to the operating system. In doing so, the program works with the existing graphics hardware that resides on the hard drive or other specified source. You may find Wolfire Blog interesting reading, although it's a few years old now. There are some games where you may find an option in the menu to choose Open GL.
Vulkan is the new successor
to OpenGL. In contrast to DirectX 12, it's available to multiple operating systems and developers are starting to provide more and more support. As it requires different drivers, Nvidia and AMD are also including this in driver updates.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

A graphics card is basically another processor with its own memory specifically for processing video images. It thus offloads this work from the CPU (central processing unit) and system RAM. You may hear it referred to as a GPU (graphics processing unit). Graphics cards are also something that can be changed out on your system, but research what people are saying about various makes and models. Games can be optimized for one brand or the other. The game label usually tells you which graphics cards are minimally compatible with the game and occasionally it may not be compatible with specific cards. The problem with this is the variety of graphics cards on the market and the variety of models and series. A game may work better with one brand or another and it's a bit of a guessing game. How do you compare your card to the cards listed under requirements? This is a topic unto itself, so you'll have to investigate your own card by researching it on the Internet. There are sites that compare the performances of various cards. You could also try Can You Run It. Just type in the name of the game.

In general, keeping up to date with the latest drivers for your card is usually a good idea, but not always. Sometimes the drivers themselves are buggy and people prefer not to update. Sometimes, just by tweaking some of the performance options ingame you can get it to run better. IMPORTANT !!: any time you are going to install updated software on your computer, create a restore point first in case something goes wrong.
System restore is located on your start menu under Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.
Here you can create a restore point "just prior" to installation and thus restore your computer to an earlier time before you installed the new programs.

Onboard Graphics
Some CPU's have what is called "onboard graphics" meaning they are integrated with your motherboard. I used my onboard graphics for quite awhile and it actually performed not too badly, but the general consensus is that game performance is better with a separate, dedicated graphics card. Most CPU's still have integrated graphic processors which can be disabled if you install a separate card or sometimes they are disabled automatically. In most laptops, the graphics card is attached to the motherboard and cannot be changed.

What are Drivers?
A driver is a program that controls a device. Every device, whether it be a printer, disk drive, or keyboard, must have a driver program. Many drivers, such as the keyboard driver, come with the operating system. For other devices, you may need to load a new driver when you connect the device to your computer. Drivers for all these devices are usually updated on a fairly regular basis. You can go to the official sites of your products and search for updated drivers. Be sure to match the correct driver to the model number of your device. Updating to the latest GPU Drivers are another "do this first" line of defense for unoptimized games. Both Nvidia and AMD tend to release new drivers for new Triple AAA releases.


Fallout 3 screenshot

NOTE: My general rule of thumb is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." You may be buying or updating yourself into bigger problems. Games not running properly are often the fault of the developer and not your system. Sometimes other programs, such as your antivirus, may be interfering with the game and some simple tweaks may fix it, or perhaps you need to update your GPU drivers. When you research the problem, look to people who suggest these simpler solutions first and be wary of advice out of the gate that has you uninstalling and reinstalling your operating system or buying new hardware. These are drastic measures and probably not necessary. Whittle down the easier possibilities first. In my experience, solutions have often come through diligent searching. For instance, some games don't play nice when installed on a different hard drive than Steam, or some don't like Steam Overlay.

HOWEVER, if many people are experiencing similar problems, it's likely the game that's at fault. Fortunately, fellow gamers usually come up with the solutions and often times it can be a very simple fix such as turning Vsync on or off. For a good general overview of getting the best performance from your system and graphics card you can check out Tweakguides

   Sound Card

As with graphics, many motherboards come with integrated sound cards. Most people would probably find this sufficient for their needs, but if not, you can also buy separate cards. The typical sound card has a slot available at the back of the computer with various input and output ports and speakers plug directly into this. You can also plug in various external devices such as a digital audio player or microphone. These also have drivers that can be updated.

Controller

Although technically your keyboard and mouse are controllers, in the gaming world a controller is a separate hand held device that is used to control all your actions in the game. PC games may or may not support the use of a controller or conversely may play better with one. Sometimes, even though a game is playable on the PC, the keyboard and mouse controls are atrocious and virtually make it unplayable without a controller. Of course, they don't usually tell you that up front, which is why reading reviews first is important. Some games were initially developed for platforms other than the PC, such as Xbox or PlayStation, and don't transition well. These games are referred to as being ported to the PC.

Administrator Rights
Many applications, including games, require you to have Administrator rights on your computer in order to install and/or alter the files. Some people consider setting this universally on your system to be a security risk and instead set themselves up as a user. Or, perhaps, there are several people using the same PC and each has a private user account set up. If you find you are not able to make changes to a program that other people can, you may not have Admin Rights to the program. Right click on it and then click properties. Look under security, permissions and perhaps advanced.

MULTIPLAYER AND CO-OP NETWORKING

Game Server
To take any the mystery out of this, a server is basically just another computer that routes information from one source to another. You might call it the middle man. In order to play online with other people, your computer needs to communicate with someone else's computer and this is achieved by both of you connecting to the same server. Servers come in all sizes in terms of the amount of information they can process and sometimes if they are exceptionally busy you may not be able to connect. Some gamers actually set up their own servers and may be able to handle a smaller number of players.

Dedicated Servers
This is a single computer that is dedicated to serve the needs of everyone in the network. People can constantly enter and exit the game without affecting it. The host leases an entire server without sharing it with anyone else. This offers the benefits of security and stability.

A LAN game
is only available to other people in your Local Network. However, you can set up a virtual private network (VPN) so that computers across the world can appear to be in your Local Network. You can read how to do this at How-to Geek. However, you should be aware that some gaming companies are banning this and it could get your account with them into trouble.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)
networking is an application architecture that partitions tasks or work loads between peers. Peers make a portion of their resources, such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth, directly available to other network participants without the need for coordination by servers. So these are hosted by the players themselves. A person with a good connection is automatically picked randomly to host the game. If that person leaves the game, it will either end or be picked up by another host, although some games do not allow for host migration. Wikipedia

Other Requirements:
If a game requires additional DRM such as needing a Steam, Origin or Uplay account etc., you should also find this specified in most system requirement specs. Often the multiplayer portion requires an additional registration as well and you have Drm upon Drm. These usually offer additional content, bonuses and stats.
That brings us to the end of our general review of system requirements. It's important to check the game requirements or be caught flat-footed with no recourse if the game does not perform or you find out on launch that you need a third-party account. After reading this and Basics, now you are ready to purchase a game and Install it. Check out Features to see if there is a game that appeals to you and GameClients for an overview on places to purchase it and their downloading methods.

Page 1 Learning the components of PC Gaming system requirements
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