Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fallout 4 is Coming

At E3 a few days ago, Bethesda made their first major presentation on Fallout 4. It is below.

And part 2, which is just as good...

I thought that Fallout 3 was brilliant.  My concern was that this new one might not be new or innovative enough to be a worthy successor.  We'll see how the story unfolds, but initially it looks really good.  But in terms of features, it looks amazing.  The crafting system looks ridiculously fun.  And the settlement system looks like its own base defense-style minigame nestled neatly into the game world.  I can't wait to fiddle with it.  Given that I just bought a new computer (which I'm using to type this), I will probably even get to play this in the PC version!  Should be such a blast.

Speaking of base defense games, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Fallout Shelter, the new iOS game they just released.  I just downloaded it, and am looking forward to taking it with me on my family vacation next week.  Hooray!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

RIP My NWN2 Rig; Long Live My New Rig!

Last week, while playing the excellent Pillars of Eternity, my computer froze and went into an loop while trying to load an area.  When I did a warm boot (reset button), I got a blue screen with bad words on it like "disk fault."  I did a cold boot, I was able to load windows, but things seem to be running strangely.  Steam won't load.  There's a lot of cacheing.  Chrome won't launch, only Firefox.  Things look bleak.

It might be possible to fix it.  Maybe it just needs a new hard drive (would be its third).  But the fact of the matter is that this PC is the one that I bought in Fall of 2006 to run Neverwinter Nights 2.  That makes it almost 9 years old, the same age as my oldest kid.  It's still running Windows XP, which has been discontinued.  My wife can't run Adobe Lightroom on Win XP, which has become a significant need as her photography interests and expertise have expanded.  It has been a great machine, but I think it's time to retire it and move on to the modern generation of computers.

My life has changed a bit in the last nine years.  Rather than working out of an office, my desktop currently sits stashed in the corner of the family room.  I don't have time for as much gaming as I used to.  And while I'm hardly wealthy, I'm a tenured college professor now rather than a Ph.D. student.  So this time, I've decided to go with a desktop replacement-style laptop; something powerful enough to run some modern games reasonably well, with a nice screen, solid hardware, etc...but a laptop nevertheless.

This is the first time since high school that I've purchased a computer without buying component parts.  Feels wrong.  But anyway, after a lot of shopping around, I decided on the Lenovo Y70-70.  Here are the specs of the model I've ordered:
i7/4720HQ (2.6 ghz)
16 GB PC3-12800 DDR3L 1600 mhz RAM
17.3" IPS FHD LED Monitor
With the educator discount they offer, it runs $1299 at Lenovo's website.  Compared to other "Gaming Laptops" that are comparably equipped, that's an amazing price.  It was surprising to see that Lenovo's own website has the best prices for its products around (often by several hundred dollars), and furthermore that the products offered there are newer and better updated than those on newegg, best, etc.

You can read a review of the Lenovo Y70 laptop here by the excellent Sherri Smith, but the model I'm buying should outperform the one they reviewed due to the upgraded hard drive (SSD!) and video card (960M!).  Battery will still be an issue, but this thing will almost always be plugged in anyway; as a 17", 7.5-pound laptop, this thing will be a beast to lug around!

I was excited to find a 900-series graphics card with 4 gb of RAM.  I see a lot of the 860M/4gb models around, but most of the 960M cards are 2 GB.  And I'm super-excited to run a laptop with a solid-state drive.  It should result in a huge improvement in the usability of the laptop, with programs opening and closing faster, and hopefully less issues with eternal caching.  Size-wise, 512 GB is a bit small, but I used some Amazon gift card money from my birthday to buy a nice external hard drive for photo/video storage.

I'm also pretty excited to give Windows 8 (and then Windows 10) a whirl.  The screen on this computer is supposed to be bright, crisp, and brilliant.  And it's also a touch screen, which is pretty exciting for me.  This is the kind of thing I once would have had a fit about, but I think it should make it fun to use...and more intuitive to use for my ipad-trained kids.

This is still a 4th-generation CPU.  And it doesn't have the ability to be hooked to an external graphics amplifier like Alienware and some other companies offer.  But it's still pretty powerful, and costs a heck of a lot less than those other systems do.

I've backed up my saved games in Pillars of Eternity so I'm looking forward to giving it a run on this new machine once it arrives.  I have no doubt that NWN1 & NWN2 will also make appearances on the drive; my localvaults for both are already backed up!  I'm probably also going to play Sword Coast Legends when it is released, as well as Torment: Tides of Numenera next year.  And maybe, while I'm at it, I'll give something that pushes the limits as well.  Fallout 4, perhaps?

While I might not get nine years from this one like I did the last, I'm looking forward to many years of fun gaming with this laptop!