Desucon – Summer 2015

Many people have the conception of a Norway that is filled with wild vikings, blood thirsty frost giants and polar bears. That might be true, but we also have cosplay (costume play). This is a fancy and fun concept that sprung forth from Japan, and has become quite popular worldwide. If you need to see the definition, Google it (or dig through our Otaku-Haven channel). Cosplay attracts people in costume, therefore a gathering place is needed. Desucon provides just that.

1Due to the size, Desucon was arranged in Lillestrøm, some flat and boring place outside of Oslo. The weather was actually quite nice for once, a rarity when it comes to Norway. Luckily I don’t don a fur suit. I cant imagine it being fun to stew in sweat for an entire day. After all, you learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to costume making and wearing. But more on that later.

This year they decided to have a LAN segment as well, where many people played Smash Bros and tried 1-on-1 pro League of Legends. Then there is the usual selection of stands, such as Outland, Neo-Tokyo and whoever decides to hire a table there. The event lasts for three days, with meet-and-greet from various fandoms, and it ends with a cosplay competition and a show at the end…though this show was dull. Regardless, the judges were fair and the competition was fun to watch, since the ones who entered the finals put on some splendid performances. However they really should find a better overlay setup.

16There where a lot of people waiting to get inside on the first day, lining up in a disorderly queue. Some even slept in the hall! They really should have used a loud speaker to inform people, since the VIPs were to enter first. I did not miss anything by waiting, so I just went for food at the local pizza place.

3I mentioned earlier things that do and don’t not work with costumes. I came as Acolyte Lee Sin, which means I wore a hood that disrupts and puts a serious strain on my eyesight. I also wore a belt that didn’t make much sense, and somehow it managed to break. Video game designs and belts seldom make practical sense. Another example was the Commander Shepard outfit someone was wearing. It worked, but several pieces were about to fall off. The most odd and fascinating contraption I saw was on those that decided that they needed to be taller. They stacked several training mats, cut them down to the size of their feet and glued their shoes on top. This makes it very hard to walk, but you do actually become taller. Fortunately they thought of that and set up a cosplay first aid station.

7During the show they also arranged for a cosplay catwalk and a Smash Bros competition; not that I could hear the announcement over the crappy P.A. system. Regardless, prizes were given out at the end, which helped make this Desucon fun…even if the end show was boring.

All these pictures have been taken by me, so if they are to be used I only ask for credit.

Zaceron signing out.

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Haven Review: Gigabyte 970A-DS3P

gigabyte_logoAlright, a little summary for those who have been following us for a while. We’ve had a few technology articles in the past involving the Kingston V+ Solid State Drives (SSDs), but after we changed hosts we lost all our original works.

I’ve been having a lot of issues lately with the system I use. Although not my first computer, it was the one that came overseas with me when I moved from the U.S. to Norway. We’ve been using it ever since we started doing charity pledges, live streams, YouTube content and developing our first actual game.

My lovely little Asus Sabertooth X58 motherboard is finally biting the dust, and despite having a “tough” warranty, Asus refuses to replace the board because it left the country of original sale. Over the years I’ve had a lot of issues with Asus; they’re just not that willing to help. What people don’t realize is that our current endeavors are not for profit.

One company however did hear our pleas, and were willing to help out. Good-guy Gigabyte saved our butts so we can keep working, and we now present a shiny new tech article in response.

Here is our breakdown of the Gigabyte 970A-DS3P:

Gigabyte_big1aAt first glance, the motherboard looks and feels like most others. However, since it uses an AMD processor, it has limited dual-channel memory. For those who aren’t familiar with dual and triple-channels, it’s like having multiple people working on the same project at the same time. Although there are benefits to using an Intel board with triple-channel, AMD has its own benefits. Unless you’re a big performance hound, much of the time the differences aren’t that noticeable.2049

This Gigabyte motherboard in particular has another feature I very much enjoy, which is the CPU socket size. AMD is the Nintendo of the computer industry when it comes to their CPUs…they like backward compatibility! I had a spare AMD Phenom (Socket AM3) and it works perfectly in this motherboard. If I want to upgrade to a more modern six-core CPU, I can. The socket supports AMD AM3+ FX processors. That being said, this motherboard boasts a lot of compatibility. If you needed a replacement board and have all the parts for it, you could probably just invest in this model and you’d be set. I should mention also that if your CPU happens to be an FX, the motherboard comes with an unlock feature. If you have a quad-core, there’s a chance the board could unlock two additional cores for increased performance!

And when it comes to PC gaming, more cores and a high clock speed can make all the difference. Speaking of performance, this motherboard also has AMD Crossfire support. Remember my earlier analogy of multiple people working together on the same job? Essentially you are taking two identical graphics subsystems and having them work in tandem to provide the best visual experience. However this is for AMD only. If you have an NVidia graphics card, you’ll have to find a board with Scalable Link Interface (SLI) capabilities.
Now I’d like to discuss Gigabyte‘s Ultra Durable 4 feature. For gamers who love overclocking (configuring your hardware beyond its rated limits), overheating is always a possibility. For this reason many PC gamers go with water-cooled systems. But if you’re like me, you can’t drop a lot of money on elaborate setups and must constantly worry about the temperature inside your computer. Ultra Durable 4 makes use of Fabric Printed Circuit Boards (Fabric PCBs); the motherboard itself can handle higher temperatures and humidity. This is proves especially beneficial in tropical and sub-tropical climates. This board also provides Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) protection, in case you forget to ground yourself when opening the case. Also included is Power Failure Protection in the event of a surge or brownout. The motherboard is able to deal with a certain degree of excess voltage.dual_uefi_bios

Another neat feature is the UEFI DualBIOS. Now for some users this isn’t a big deal. Many PC gamers go through their machine’s entire life without ever updating their Basic Input-Output System (BIOS). If you do periodically flash-update the BIOS and the process fails, you may have issues re-accessing the system. This is one of the perks of a dual-BIOS; it always keeps track of your current settings. If something goes horribly wrong, it will automatically boot to the alternate BIOS so you can restore and fix any damage.

The only thing about this motherboard I dislike is Gigabyte‘s affiliation to Norton, who’s products are among the biggest memory and resource hogs in PC history. But that discussion is for another day; there’s a pretty sizable list of why I don’t like Norton products when it comes to gaming.

Last but not least is Gigabyte‘s EasyTune feature. Like many computer manufacturers, they are aiming to make overclocking easier for the rookies out there. EasyTune provides a simple interface to boost the performance of your computer hardware. But unless you have adequate cooling inside your system I wouldn’t bother touching it. Although the motherboard may be able to take higher temperatures without added cooling, I wouldn’t risk it.

All in all, is this motherboard worth the price tag it carries? The simple answer is yes. With its modern features and backward compatibility, a new system can be easily built from old peripherals laying around. You can trust me on this…I’ve already done it!

-Daniel Clatworthy-

Life is Feudal (Early Access)

LiFFirst up is our disclaimer.  We received this software for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this article are our own. No compensation has been tendered for this review.

Trending…the term is almost a parody of itself. During the past decade, if you don’t trend then you’re relegated to the back of the bus; and it seems the retail gaming world agrees. One such trend is “early access” availability. Projects non-existent in a retail sense are attaining major acclaim (a certain open world zombie title comes to mind); and they’re profiting as much now in alpha/beta as they likely will upon release! Another developing trend in gaming is the “Sandbox RPG”, which requires players to mine, hunt, craft, explore and build to ensure survival.

Enter Life is Feudal from BITBOX, Ltd. This beautifully rendered product fits into both the aforementioned trends, and I’m currently posting an ongoing series for it on the HeroesOfGamersHaven YouTube channel. There are two versions of Life is Feudal (LiF) in progress: A small-server edition called “Your Own” (LiF:YO), as well as a full MMORPG (LiF:MMO).

SellingPoints1Currently, only the early alpha stage of LiF:YO is available. The projected release is TBA, but early 2016 is likely. LiF:MMO is somewhat trickier to predict, as closed testing isn’t scheduled to begin until the “first half” of 2016, according to the developer.

There are two major differences between LiF:YO and LiF:MMO:
1. Map size (3 square kilometers vs. 21 square kilometers, respectively)
2. Maximum number of players (64 people vs. 10,000+ people, respectively)

Don’t let the seemingly smaller scope fool you…3×3 km is huge! The game started me off at the extreme southern shore of the map, and I decided to hoof it to more interesting landmarks on the northern side. It took over 30 minutes to trek the following path:
LiFRoute1LiF focuses on three major activities:

Exploring: Walk, sprint and mouse-look your way to victory. Basic movement is fairly straightforward, but here in the alpha the interface occasionally trips over itself. When you close a dialog box for instance, the Windows cursor sometimes fails to disappear. This means that mouse-look is frozen until you press a certain key to release the cursor. One of the first things you’ll want to seek out are apple trees, as they will be your primary source of food for a while:

Inventory1Acquiring: I’m using this term loosely to refer to the collection of resources, whether it be foraging, fishing, mining or any other such general gathering. It all begins by opening the “Context Menu”, which I have bound to my left mouse button. Simply point to any object in your environment (yes, even the ground) and click. This brings up a list of actions that directly relate to various skills your character has thus far mastered:

Skills1Building: I use this term to reflect improvement; not only to your eventual homestead, but also to your character’s physical prowess. Press the “Skills” key to see a complete list of abilities. On the left-facing page in the diagram below, each horizontal row represents a unique skill, while vertical columns denote increasing levels of mastery. The right-facing page describes abilities earned after reaching important milestones of learning:

LiFSkillsAlthough there are several goal-oriented play modes available in LiF:YO, the easiest way to learn the game is in “basic sandbox” mode. Here there is no hurry; I simply enjoy taking in the sights. I also turn my air conditioning up nice and breezy for full effect! As you explore, day turns to night…and back to day…perhaps a little too quickly. It would be nice to directly control the length of each; maybe even sync it to your local time zone. Other than that, the environment is quite realistic; especially with the Ultra graphics settings enabled. For my video series I use Medium, but periodically switch to both High and Ultra when key vistas present themselves. Below are a couple of screenshots for reference. The forest scene is in High-res; the mountain shot is in Medium-res:LiFScreenshot1aLiFScreenshot1bBy now you may be wondering about the huts, farms, houses and eventual mega-keeps and castles supposedly featured in LiF. You should understand that this is a slow, deliberate process (Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc.). You will, and should spend hours in discovery before constructing things. Additionally, take time to understand your status bars. Pop quiz: What’s the difference between “hard” and “soft” stamina…or between hard and soft hit points? Which character stat allows you to carry inventory in slight excess of your weight allowance?

My YouTube series progresses just like this; as anyone would, tossed almost naked (and somewhat afraid) into the wilderness! Indeed, we will eventually build a homestead replete with chickens, steam baths and fire pits. Until then, we wander.

I will write a complete Haven Review upon LiF:YO‘s release, including breakdowns and scoring…and then again next year when the MMO debuts! I eagerly await both.

-Chris Roberts-

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