Asus Nvidia GeForce 550X TI

Yep. I just bought this monster of a graphics card.

Yes. Another navel gazing post, but I think it’s worth the trouble.

After I bought Diablo 3 and started playing the game, I noticed major lags with this game on my desktop. I was not able to diagnose the problem initially, and was relegated to my laptop. I cleared the Normal mode, but the graphics were a bit lost on the minimum requirements .. and something felt missing. I went back to diagnosing the problem and turns out that my video card was overheating for the past 3 months, causing the PCI Express bus to shutdown and thus stopping all PCI devices (including my wireless card!).

The main reason of this, was that the video card’s fan was gone. This was the point when I started delving in the world of gaming hardware … and I followed the white rabbit.

The way I came to this conclusion was by using a software called MSI Afterburner, a software which works with most graphics cards. What it does is that it provides you real-time information about the metrics of your card such as temperature, GPU usage, Fan Speed (of the Graphics card) and Fan RPM. What’s more, with the right hardware, it also allows you to change most of these values. So I tried overclocking the fan to run at full throttle, but to no avail, the fan just would not start!

Now, the hardware used in gaming is all about performance, about driving the hardware to higher and higher … to get that extra bit of richness for all your pixels. With performance, comes a host of problems – heat for instance, where do you transmit all that excess heat? Power wattage is another, the energy required to deliver this performance requires higher wattage. A normal desktop computer requires 115W of power, a gaming computer on the other hand can demand as high as 400+W of power … higher than that of a server!

Asus Nvidia GeForce 550X TI

So, when I purchased this card, I was suddenly in a flux … a new SMPS … a new cabinet perhaps? Where does this stop? Fortunately, I had a 400W SMPS, which meant that this card runs perfectly on my system. I fired up Diablo, and voila … the GPU usage hit 100%, temperature went from 40% to 80% … and stayed. Stable for the entire while.

Finally, a card which cools faster than it heats up! Added to the sheer beauty of each and every game … things are looking good!

10 reasons why Diablo drives me nuts

I have been playing this game for a month or so now, whenever there is a weekend, I do put in my 4-5 hours in this game. Some of the features in this game absolutely drive me nuts! Here are 10 reasons why Diablo drives me nuts!

  1. No offline single-player mode. Which means, my internet connection HAS to be available. Plus for slower internet connections (which is common in India), the game is virtually unplayable. Not to mention the regular scheduled maintenance downtime on Tuesdays, meaning for 1 day a week I cannot play the game I own.
  2. Limited Video card ranges. I would think that a company as big and experienced as Blizzard would not make this mistake, however they have. The video cards with which D3 can run is limited to a handful, which means the bulk of their loyal following from D2 will either have to buy a new computer (which I did) or watch the screencasts on youtube.
  3. Real Money Auction House effectively means that to play in the higher tougher modes, you have to fork out more cash for items. Although I will not stoop so low, but it’s a possibility that many players are facing.
  4. D3 as a product is not fully ready, they have released the product into the market to ship it first. This could be done to simply beat other games which are coming out and slowly eating at the games market share. Games such as Torchlight II (which went in Beta last month), Star Wars, Amalur, Rift (which has a major upgrade lined up to be released in front of WoW: MoP). When you ship an incomplete product, bugs are bound to rise. The good thing about Blizzard that bug resolutions come quickly through patches, but each time a patch is rolled out, that means further downtime. Blizzard, do you want your paying customers to play the game or just sit by grumbling while you patch things? The amount of threads and trolls that I have seen on the Blizzard forums shoot up whenever a new patch comes out. I mean, go ahead and admit it that the architecture of the game has not been thought out properly.
  5. The game is geared to be played on higher and higher difficulty modes. So when you ultimately kill Diablo in Normal mode, you move on to the Nightmare mode. Now, the drops given by Diablo are so mediocre that they quickly become unusable in the next difficulty mode. Now, this can be a minor technicality, but then the only time I would keep the drops that Diablo gives me is when I defeat the game in Inferno mode and wait for the PVP season to begin.
  6. Every RPG these days turns into a farming and grinding game. There are some crazy farming videos that I am seeing these days, heres one. Well, if the game turns into one GearQuest, then I the facebook game GearQuest is better, eh? And free t boot!
  7. Now this is petty, but I have to bring this up! My favourite class, the Paladin has been nerfed.
  8. For each class there are two types of weapons, a 1-handed weapon which can be dual-wielded and a 2-handed weapon which requires both the slots. Now, the benefits of the 2-handed weapon are not as great as having two 1-handed weapons. What that means, that I will never use a 2-handed weapon for any of my characters because I am not using the stat-gains from one of my item slots (the other hand which is now stuck with carrying the 2-hand weapon). This seems to be a problem in game design. At least make the stat gains from 2-handed weapons worth the trouble damn it!
  9. With the Auction House, come the hordes of gold farmers and gold vendors on each game. WIth them comes incessant spamming on general chat about different websites offering the cheapest gold. I had earlier blogged about the Economics of Gold Farming in World of Warcraft … I guess D3 also is relegated to the same fate.
  10. Each of my characters are stuck on their own servers. So when the Americas’ server is down, I can’t play with my Level 35 Barbarian, if the Asia’s server is down, I can’t play with my Level 15 Demonhunter, and so on. Which means that I am stuck with one server (unless I power level all my characters)

One of the main reasons of me loving Diablo II so much was its great replay value. But what D3 has done is forced me to replay this game even when I do not want to!

Diablo 3: Updates

diablo3 I have been waiting for almost three years for this game to release. Along with me thousands of other Diablo fans are waiting for Blizzard to announce the public beta launch date. Truth be told, it’s going to negatively impact the subscriptions of the other Blizzard games, especially World of Warcraft. Perhaps they are working out on when to announce the launch of the 4.3 WoW patch, and when to announce the Diablo public beta. Here’s a list of all things that I have heard about the game.

  • The private beta has been released last week, and is open to all the friends and family members of Blizzard employees. Not only is it a way to find beta testers ;-), but also it’s a brilliant HR ploy.
  • The game will fear an Auction House (AH) like the WoW series, but this time players will have an option to use real money in the AH. This is going to be a game which will somehow impact the economy, at a micro level albeit, but interesting to note that no other game has the balls to try this out. Then again, this idea might just backfire.
  • The solo game will require the player to still be connected online. I guess the online part is made mandatory due to the ease of operations. The game can be updated later on, DRM issues are resolved, piracy goes down, instead of a one time purchase a player can be made to pay the subscription amount month on month. Most of the game houses are trying to include this concept (even Microsoft with X-Box live).

Having said all that, the game is still widely awaiting and you can start checking out the game play videos of Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard and Witch Doctor. With the private beta now live, you can always hope to see a lot more content and videos on youtube.

Here’s hoping that the game releases before 2012!!

Fortune Online: Diablo2 style MMORPG

After power leveling my first level 85 Dranei Hunter on World of Warcraft, I kind of realized that I need to slow down on the WoW front. Not only was it eating a significant amount of my free time, but I had gotten a bit jaded by it.

So after staying away from it for half a week, I tried to give this a whirl. FortuneOnline is a free MMORPG which has the look and feel of Diablo 2 … took me back to my days of engineering … bunking lectures so that I could stay back and slay Diablo/Baal or his uber-minions. I think that game is the only game I played to its fullest (for a full 6-7 years).

Pros:

  • Interesting power-ups and skill trees for different classes
  • It’s a browser based game – no pesky bulky client downloads
  • Platform dependant as long as you can install Adobe Flash
  • Diablo clone MMORPG (I can’t get enough of this)
  • Good controls and game controls are extremely responsive
  • Game is divided into different sections very nicely
  • It’s free

Cons:

  • Not many players online who seem to be active on the general chat
  • The consumable items do not work sometimes (I hope the developers sort this glitch out)
  • Game can get a bit repetitive after some time
  • The item drops in the game suggest presence of more classes that the player can have, however when I was in character creation, I did not see those classes (don’t know if there is a premium mode)
  • The plot is not riveting, or perhaps I am still too jaded for really engaging into the game plot.
  • The graphics are meh! … however, even Diablo was not that awesome (remember it was 1999), now our expectations have gone up

All in all, a good whirl and you can idle by a few boring hours with this game. I do hope that the Torchlight folks can turn out a better MMORPG

Torchlight

TorchlightRetailBox I am a huge fan of the Diablo series, so much so that when I had an important exam to study for, I had a friend come over and play on my machine … that way I could study and not get tempted to play the game!! 3 months later, I cracked that test, Nikhil got hooked on Diablo :-). After battling the hordes of Baal, both of us tried different variants of the game, I think I have completed the game with all characters while Nikhil has completed the game in all difficulty levels (yep! Hell!!).

It was 2009 and the folks at Blizzard were keeping the Diablo3 plans hush-hush. So how do we fill the void? Believe me, I have tried … Oblivion, KOTOR, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout … RTS games like Rise of Nations, Rise of Legends, Anno 1404 … the list goes on. My thirst for Diablo remains, until I saw on the xfire community a game which seemed to resemble Diablo, a LOT!! Screenshots looked like an old friend with a new hair-do … sleeker, trendy … but underneath, it was the same old friend.

I did my research and read through the wiki of the game, an excerpt –

Pre-production on Torchlight began in August 2008, shortly after the dissolution of Flagship Studios. Runic Games was founded by Travis Baldree (lead developer of Fate and Mythos) and veterans of Blizzard North and Flagship: Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer and Peter Hu. The “entire Flagship Seattle team” consisting of 14 people (the branch of Flagship which created the original Mythos) signed on to Runic Games at the time of its formation. Having lost the rights to Mythos, the Runic team saw the development of a new game as a way to “finish what [they] started,” although they would have to start over with none of the code or art assets from Mythos.

The game is touted to be the best Diablo clone that is there in the market. With a standard storyline, and lots of drops, I found the game an excellent hack and slash game. Also with an upcoming MMO to be launched soon in tie-up with Perfect World (a Chinese firm), the rights to play online would be free with the game.

One more game to look forward to in 2011 :-)

Diablo 3: The thing I have been waiting for

When I was doing my engineering (way back in 1999), one of my very good friends, Choxy told me of this original game CDs that his friend had gotten from the US. Now trust me, back then an original game CD was a big thing (it still is, but now you have torrents :-) ), and needless to say, Choxy with his awesome networking capability had those cds with him.

After meeting with him and getting those CDs, I was excited … heck, I was jumping up and down and aching to just play the game. But how to make the game run without those CDs… that was the question. After much soul searching, I found the right crack (had to install the game twice before I got the exact crack!!). By this time it was night and my mother was heckling me to go to sleep (yeah, it was so back that I actually listened to my folks). You could say that this was the turning point … once, the game started running, I said bye bye to a normal life, and the next 3 years of my engineering life were spent late-nights, surfing, playing, days – sleeping, eating.

I was hooked, and how!?! One of my best friends also got hooked to the game, so much that he used to visit my place just to play the game … and boy he was a good player. During my CAT preps, I took his help in occupying the machine so that I would not play Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction instead!! So part of my MBA’s credit is also due to Kombdi!!

After almost 5 years, Diablo2 is completely out of my system. Or so I thought, yesterday I learned about Blizzard announcing Diablo3 :-)

The craze is on.