Sunday, December 13, 2009

Working Through a Multiple Games

So I'm currently working on 4 games right now.

Assassin's Creed
Battle Field Bad Company 2 Beta

And then I have my other games to work on:
Grand Theft Auto 4
Pixel Junk Monsters
Super Stardust HD
Valkyria Chronicles
Wipeout HD

And of course my daily use of Wii Fit Plus

Balancing that list with time for my wife, work, TV, and other holiday stuff is a chore let me tell you.

Good thing I have some paid time off coming up.

So here's the question I have, do I play the new games or should I work on finishing up the old ones. And here's the heart of the matter, I've found trophies to be the factor in figuring out which games to play. I know, it's stupid, but true. I've been focusing on Wet and Ghostbusters, leaving Assassin's Creed alone for now. I was playing Battle Field heavily for a while there, but it just doesn't hold my interest (playing the same map over, and over again). Of course Assassin's Creed 2 has a lot of repetition, so that makes it even less appealing. In everything but Battle Field Bad Company 2 Beta, I'm about half way through the game or more.

The implications are clear, if you're making a game, trophy or achievement support is a must. And if you're trying to figure out what game to play, you should be a better player than me and not neglect your old games.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PS3 Music Player Sucks

Yes, this has taken a few days to get together, I've been busy with life. That said, here's my thoughts on the PS3 Music Player.

For those unaware, Sony is billing the PS3 as the media center for you home. Not an easy task as people want to show videos, pictures, play music, games and TV. And well, yes it does music, just not very well.

When the PS3 added music in game, I was excited. I put about 8 Gigabytes of music on my PS3 to play while gaming.

While only a fraction of my music collection, space on a 60G drive is precious so I had to make some hard choices. The results, not just disappointing, but appalling for a device that wants to be the media center of my house. Just going through the list of songs takes forever.

So let's talk about organization. As with any music player, you have play lists. This is where I hit my first major problem. You can only add 512 items to a play list. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Are you telling me that the PS3 doesn't have enough processor power to handle more than that? I call BS on this limit.

Second, as with most people I have an iPod. Unlike most people though, my iPod has complex smart play lists, some of which depend on the contents of other play lists. I do this to keep my music fresh and so that I don't neglect songs. The PS3 has static play lists only. Again, WTF!?! Did they not spend more than 1 week working on this and forget about it?

Here's the real kicker for me. Like I said most people have an iPod. How hard would it have been to add an iPod dock? Yes I understand, recently Sony and Apple have been competing for the same space with games. That said, the PS3's implementation of a music player is an embarrassment.

Give me a smart or dynamic play lists. Allow all my music to be on one play list. Oh and remember where I am and continue playback between system restarts if I configure things to work that way. Is that really too much to ask? Right now, instead of music my way, it is music Sony's way. Again, I call BS.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Game Review - Uncharted

Here at Full Frontal Gaming our budget is minimal. Meaning we don't have the cash to buy and review the latest and greatest games. But for those gamers who are in the same boat, here's a review for a game that's coming to your price range soon.

I wasn't going to post this until I got the platinum trophy for the game, but due to a situation beyond my control I lost my save game. I can't bring myself to play through on hard to unlock crushing again. Not to mention the wife doesn't want to see the story 3 more times.

My first impressions of the game, things flowed nicely together. The cut scenes and the game play really meshed and the game was not only fun, but it was funny.

I had a blast playing though twice. The first time took a little over 12 hours, and the second only 8 or so. There's a few of the "action" cut scenes, but in general the game play is good. Graphics, lighting, and controls all get high marks. The hints system was nice, though sometimes a little slow.

The platforming can be frustrating at times and I really didn't want a horror game, but still I enjoyed things. I can't wait for Uncharted 2 to drop into the price range.


  • Visuals/Audio - Great
  • Story Line - Fun
  • Controls - Excellent

Overall Rating 9/10

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shopping For Gamers

This post is more for the non-gamers in the world. Today, we're going to talk about how to shop for gamers like me.

Now I'm not going to kid you, shopping for gamers is nearly impossible, especially if you don't play video games. The problem is, even if you know the genre a person likes, two games which look the same and cost the same can be totally different. One can be high end caviar while the other, cat fud, mariner's delight.

And, given the difference is so great, if the person does give you a list of games they want, where's the surprise? Finally, reading about gaming will give you very little insight, because gamers are so different.

That said, here's a few tips I've accumulated:

  1. Stay away from gift cards
    • Cash only more restrictive? Better to give a photo frame with real cash.

  2. Ask a friend or coworker of your gamer
    • Gamers can be social, ask around you might get lucky

  3. Make sure the game matches the system
    • Giving Halo to someone owning a PS3 is kinda like giving catnip to a dog. It doesn't really work.

  4. Take your gamer shopping for systems
    • I know, it ruins the surprise, but it will make sure they get the right gift.

  5. Don't rely on/be fooled by game covers/sales people
    • Wario Ware for the Wii came with a pink cover. That doesn't mean it is a game for girls.

Good luck and have a great holiday season. And cash is always good.

Contest - Two Days Left

Reminder, there's just over 2 days left to get your logos in. See the original contest post for details.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday - Gamer Boon or Bust?

I ask you dear reader, what could make the local paper grow 2 inches in thickness on a Thursday?

We're talking about Black Friday.

From Freddies to Frys, Kohl to Kmart, Target to Toys R Us, Amazon to Walmart, everyone is trying to separate you dear gamer from your hard earned cash. Even grocery stores are getting into the Black Friday madness. Some stores (Best Buy/Frys) open up at 5 am while others (Toys R Us) start at midnight and still others (The Shack) start at 10 am Thanksgiving day. And why not? The economy is down, and retailers are hurting.

Attack of the Advertisements

Here's the ads from my local paper. Click on the images to zoom in, they're big.

Best Buy

Fred Meyer

Fry's Electronics

Game Crazy

Game Stop


The Shack


Not to mention the online sites with Black Friday Deals, such as Amazon or New Egg.

Sure, there's some deals in there. Who wouldn't want to save $10 on a SATA laptop hard drive. And some games are discounted (though one might note everyone has new releases like Uncharted 2 at $59.99).

But I ask, as you forget your turkey and ready your battle plans, is it worth it? Long lines, few real deals and lots of frustration. Might it be better to remember, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with your family, not shopping for them. Yes, everyone likes to get a good deal and yes, some may rationalize the time spent shopping as doing stuff for their family. That said, if you can, stay in bed, enjoy your Friday.

For those who just can't, well I guess I'll see you at Fry's @ 5 am.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Media Review - Wii PlayOn

You may want to read our first PlayOn review before this one.

So I'm going to preface this entry by saying there are two possible reasons I got such poor performance. Either the wi-fi connection or the fact that Wii PlayOn is still in beta may account for my issues. That said, Wii based PlayOn sucks.

So let's start off with the interface. Simply open up the Opera web browser on the Wii and go to to see a list of PlayOn servers on your network. Unfortunately, it seems that the same server showed up multiple times. Not a good start.

So I loaded up Hulu (I did like the interface here) and pulled up "Married... With Children." After a few seconds of buffering the TV show started. I picked a SD show, as PlayOn says that the Wii handles HD poorly.

Let me just say based on the performance of the SD picture, I'd hate to see HD. The video stuttered through the show. The forward/back controls I was used to were basically non-existent. Pausing caused the stream to break. The Wii has no digital sound, and the analog wasn't any better than analog broadcast TV.

Wii based PlayOn earns Full Frontal Gaming's first Epic FAIL.


  • Video Quality - Bad (Jerky, Stuttered)
  • Audio Quality - Marginal (Analog Stereo)
  • Controls - Non-existent
  • Selection - Wonderful (Almost enough for me to give up cable)
  • Streaming Issues - Yes (Streams break, SW Updates)

Overall Rating 3/10

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Game Review - Wii Fit Plus - A Party Game?

So I've been using Wii Fit since the day it came out in North America. Furthermore, when Wii Fit Plus came out I got a hold of that. (The guys at Best Buy didn't believe they could sell the game without the balance board, but that's a story for another blog post.)

One of the really cool features of Wii Fit Plus is the multiplayer mode. Once everyone has been lubricated with enough alcohol, the games are a blast. Especially the chicken flying, which is a good workout.

I've seen people convinced that the Wiimote was used, even though the game clearly said it is not. I've had people try to beat it without flapping their arms.

For those unaware, the chicken flight is your Mii character dressed up as a chicken trying to fly from platform to platform picking up extra time. You fly by flapping your arms. Small, fast flaps move your character a little bit or hover. Big slow flaps make you sore, I mean soar. If you run out of time, your total distance is your score. If you make it to the last platform, the time plus the ring you land in is your score.

It is a blast, to watch and to play. Just be careful that no one is too tipsy. They might fall off the board. And over all, it is a great workout.

Upcoming Posts

Yes, I know I haven't gotten everything on the last list, but here we go:
This list doesn't imply the order in which these articles will come out, and we reserve the right to add and/or remove as need be.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reminder - Logo Contest Is Still Going On

So far we have 0 submissions

Currently we have not had anyone enter Full Frontal Gaming's Logo Contest. Right now, you could simply put the words "Full Frontal Gaming" in white text on a black background and get yourself a month free of game fly.

See the details here.

PSN Downloads and Patches

So I recently lost my HD and game saves. I also lost everything I downloaded. So I started downloading PAIN again. 400 megs or so, not so bad.

Then there were 6, 400 meg patches applied. It took forever before I could play.

As I sat there, I couldn't help but wonder, why didn't Sony just patch the game on the server. That way items would be ready to play once they were downloaded.

Would that be too much to ask, really?

Backing Up Your Game Saves

I'm starting over on Uncharted today. 0 treasures, no rewards. Why would I do this?

Well, I had unlocked crushing, and I secured every other medal in the game. Then I got a beta code, and installed it. The game was fun, till it crashed.

When it crashed, it corrupted the file system, and the backup to restore from. Now my BC PS3 is stuck in a reboot loop, trying to restore the file system.

This close to Black Friday, I figure I'll wait and upgrade the HD. In the mean time, I have to start over on my second PS3.

I lost my game saves for about a half dozen games. While that sucks, it's not nearly the number other people have. So I wanted to take this moment to remind you, back up your game saves. Do it today, right now. You never know when things will go bad.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clan Support on PSN

For a long time now I have wondered why Sony has not created a Clan System for the PSN. Currently having a game clan on the PS3 is more than a chore to keep up with let alone manage via PSN Message system and Clan Websites. If only Sony would create a simple application to maintain a Clan Roster (not tied to Friends List) with a few simple features would be a good start.

• Clan Admin Panel (add & remove members, ect ect)
• Clan Roster
• Clan Message System
• 1 Clan max per PSN ID
• Clan Profile (Info and Roster viewable by public)

And always great to have...
• Event Calendar (With Message Notifications)
• Member Rankings (Co-Leader, Capt and so on)
• Game Divisions (member subrankings per division)

This is just something I have thought "This would be great to have" for the past few years. I am sure there are other features that would be great to toss in but I feel the above would be a great starting ground.

New Stuff Coming

I'm currently in talks with a group to secure good screen shots for reviews and such. Unfortunately most sites have a very strict copyright on the images/trailers making it nearly impossible to get good screen shots. I'm hoping that will change here soon, unfortunately this took me away from my article writing time today. I'll have something new up tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Media Review - PS3 PlayOn

Today I'm going to review one of my favorite pieces of software PlayOn. It's a piece of software that runs on a computer which gives you access to Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and other online video sites on your XBox360, PS3 or Wii. While it works with DLNA-compatible devices, the focus has been on consoles. In this review I'm going to focus on the PS3 version, and leave the Wii for another time.

If anyone wants to donate their XBox360 to me so I can review on that platform as well, I'd be more than happy to take it.

Getting back to the review, there are a few sites PlayOn does out of the box, including Amazon VOD, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, ESPN, CBS and now "My Media". "My Media" allows you to add local files, music and pictures to stream to those other devices, so you can have one version of the truth (rather than copies of every picture on every machine).

But let's suppose you wanted to watch video from the ridiculously named "SyFy" website? While the program doesn't support every site out of the box, there's a site with third party plug-ins, including Crackle, SyFy, Cartoon Network and so on.

PlayOn is written in .Net and MediaMall has opened up their APIs to developers so they can make plug ins for any site that's not supported by default.

Great so now we have an idea as to what PlayOn does, how does it work?

Well, like I said, PlayOn runs on your computer. It is important that this computer is hard wired to your internet connection and your console to get proper performance. Additionally the computer has to be reasonably beefy, as here's what happens. The computer plays the video, and in real time re-encodes it into a mpeg stream. It streams that to the PS3, allowing you to watch just like any other video (using the same controls I might add). Since this is a stream FF/Rev don't always work properly and you can have issues where the computer hasn't streamed enough (or the connection to the website is dropped) leading to playback issues. Also, since everything is done on the computer, you don't have to worry about DRM issues on your console.

So on the PS3, PlayOn integrates into the video list. It acts like a folder, letting you browse which service and then the different ways a site has organized their video. While for Netflix I'll stick with the PS3 Disc, it does fairly well on sites such as Hulu and YouTube.

The problem comes in when Hulu or YouTube changes their site. Every time the site changes, there needs to be a new update to your PlayOn software and it may not always work properly. That said, when it does work, you could almost leave cable and other TV services behind for this.

Oh and did I mention, because it is a stream you can at least fly through the Hulu commercials at 1.5x speed? As for picture quality, the HD video is indistinguishable from over the air HD to me. And the audio for HD on Hulu? For now it seems to be stereo, but that could change in the future easily enough.

PlayOn is not free, but you do get a 14 day trial.

Oh and the next review of PlayOn will be through the Wii. It accomplishes this through the web browser.


  • Video Quality - Superb
  • Audio Quality - OK (Stereo)
  • Controls - Great (Just as expected)
  • Selection - Wonderful (Almost enough for me to give up cable)
  • Streaming Issues - Yes (Streams break, SW Updates)

Overall Rating 7/10

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why Warhawk Still Holds My Interest

So I've been playing Warhawk on the PS3 for a long time. A long, long time. I don't play it as much anymore as I used to, but every Monday night, I get back on.

So I started playing on April 14, 2008. Not as long as some people but in that time I've logged over 568 hours of playing time. Considering most games I put down after 15 hours, that is a real accomplishment.

I asked myself this morning, why do I still play? I mean it's not like I don't feel I got the value out of the game. And there's other things to hold my interests. I've gotten married, there's movies/shows I want to watch. I've got a job, and a shelf full of games I need to finish, so why do I dedicate so much time to this game.

Well, it boils down to two reasons. One is the people I play with. Every Monday I play MAXIMUMSoap with Heavy7666. He runs a server, and while my ping isn't always the best I always have fun.

The second reason is, I still haven't mastered the game but I can still play. Story based games won't let you proceed unless you get better or solve a particular puzzle. In Warhawk the team is a toss up, you could be on a really good team one round and a crappy one the next. Either way you improve your skills and make improvements and adjustments.

That all said, I do have other games and responsibilities taking my time now, so my playing time is reduced. I can't see myself getting much past the next rank. My skills in game are not improving like they used to (I've reached a plateau when it comes to my level) and I'm OK with that. The good times will continue for a while on MAXIMUMSoap, Mondays @ 9 PM Eastern.

Monday, November 16, 2009

DLC - What a Rip Off

So this editorial is going to generalize and while it is not true in every case, for the most part downloadable content is a rip off.

The Past

Let's start with a little history, back in the bad old days game publishers had to really test their games. If they released a game with a flaw, that was it. You wanted an extra level? Hold up the release or it is left on the cutting room floor. No second chances.

Then came the internet, and eventually it migrated to the last generation of consoles. (Except for Nintendo.) At first is was only for gamers to play against each other, but as the current generation of consoles came around the console makers added storage space. This gave the publishers the ability to patch a game (making up for incomplete testing) and fixing issues on the fly.

The Present

And then someone got the bright idea:
You know that game level we had to leave out? Let's put it back in, but make people pay for it.
Thus was born, downloadable content or DLC. Not only do publishers no longer need to test as completely, but they can continue to charge for the game long after it becomes part of the bargain rack at the local game shop. Yes, this allows publishers to get games out on time, but some companies have so embraced the model that they no longer publish full games.

I mean what publisher wouldn't want you to lay out $100+ dollars for the game, controllers and then charge you $2 for each song you could play? And they rationalize it by saying "Oh that's what gamers want, they don't want to pay for content they won't use."

Since there's no way to resell content you didn't really like, and the only place to get it is from the console maker's store, they've created a monopoly. There really isn't any competition to drive prices down, and this gets to the heart of things. Storage space is cheap, and it costs the company nothing to make extra copies of DLC for you. Thus the profit margins are much higher any time you use the store to download a game or content. Do they pass along some savings to you? No. If 10,000 people download something and they've paid the developers off, does the producer lower the price? There's no incentive to price things reasonably, they control all the sources.

The Future

And here's the really scary portion. How long until someone get's the idea to start charging for patches? Haven't you seen the writing on the Sony blog? "This update is offered free of charge!" What happens when your online game suddenly needs an update you have to pay for to continue playing? As if producers needed an more ways to take money from us.

Of course, there's the argument "You don't have to play." That is true. And going down that rabbit hole will end badly for the game/console makers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heavy's Thought on Gaming

As a Full time Automotive technician, Father and husband I don't have a
great deal of time to play games. My time at home is very precious to me
(Que: Golim saying that word). I run a Warhawk Server every week
(MAXIMUMSOAP -9pm ET Monday's) because I know that is a game that
I enjoy very much.

I may be jumping the gun a little here .. let's back up and go with a bit of history

I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember,
Atari 2600 .. to Coleco Vision ... a Nintendo or two ... Sega's systems
(genesis w/32x and CD) ... Orig. Playstation, Xbox, Playstation 2,
playstation 3, Xbox 360 and lets not forget the Wii .... Had a bunch
of systems and hundreds upon hundreds if not thousands
of games. Playing games was a Big part of my childhood and is
still a part of my life as an adult. I have two wonderful children
(13yr & 9yr) a very awesome wife , couple dogs snake and they
are the bulk of my existence. So when it comes to playing a game
I can't afford to put in hours upon hours just to be disappointed
or dislike games.

I have a luxury at work that my shop has WiFi and I own a computer
that I can surf on at my toolbox. In the past year or more I have had
moments when work has been very slow and I can watch gaming
vids, or talk to stalkers on twitter, troll through forums... but these
times are not a given. I have made purchasing mistakes in gaming
as I'm sure everyone has. Years ago I would have looked at a Sucky
Game purchase as a possible trade to a friend or maybe someday
I'll play it again. ... Now this same Sucky game purchase is lost Money
the same feeling I get with Bad service and food at a restaurant, or a
broken new in Box item from a Store... the restaurant can sometime
be salvaged with a discount, or the fact that you don't tip as well ..
Haha Mr. Sucky waiter - Take that. The broken item can sometimes
be exchanged or maybe returned to buy something else. the Game
on the other hand, retuning it is like a cop out... it's feels like saying
this Game beat me feels Dirty .. it feels kinda wrong ...

Basically what I'm sorta Saying is as i get Older and the Games get
better at looking good in trailers and game play vids. It becomes
harder for me to go out and purchase a Game brand new on release day.

Sometimes I think .. why not just rent it first, or wait a Month or two
and read some reviews maybe buy it used for half price ???

Gaming in these times becomes, for me, a lot less about the New
and improved and A lot more about -

My time is worth a lot -
Can this "Game" meet my GOML

Anyone that has a different view should feel free to tell me how "Wrong" I am

Media Review - Netflix on the PS3 - A Second Look

In my haste to review Netflix on the PS3 I didn't wait for the second disc. Upon testing with the second disc, several new items came to my attention.

Good news every body!

First the good news, streaming to both PS3s seemed to work just as well as streaming to one.

The other shoe drops.

Now here's the bad news. So the first test was removing the disc while a movie was playing. When hit eject, I immedately got a screen saying "invalid disc". Not the worst thing in the world, since Netflix will send you multiple discs, but annoying none the less.

Now we hit a sore spot with me, I have on PS3 connected via HDMI and one via component to different TVs. If I play a BluRay disc or game I get at least 720 p resolution. The Netflix disc loads up in 720 p; however, on the TV with component connections when I played a movie, the resolution dropped to 480 p, and the aspect ratio changed. Not only did I not get full screen video at a supported resolution, but the image was wrong (forcing a 16:9 image to 4:3 by stretching). I looked for an option on the PS3 to explain this and failed to find anything. The only explanation I can come up with is that Netflix wants an encrypted signal to the TV and won't do analog HD. A crying shame for customers, and I'm removing a full point from my last review.


  • Video Quality - Superb over HDMI, Crappy over component
  • Audio Quality - OK (2 channel DD, No different than standard Netflix streaming)
  • Controls - Meh
  • Selection - So so (Missing new releases)

Overall Rating 6/10

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Contest - Make a Logo

For Full Frontal Gaming's first month anniversary, we're giving you the gift. What is this gift? Well, even though we're going ultra low budget on the blog, how does 1 month free from GameFly sound? 2 discs out at a time of course. How does one get this gift? Simple. We need a logo.

  • The logo cannot be wider than 660 pixels, and no taller than 300 pixels. It doesn't need to be exactly that big, it just cannot exceed those dimensions
  • Must be appropriate. This blog doesn't have the "Adult Content" flag checked, let's keep it that way.
  • Post a link here in the comments of this post.
  • Follow @Guardian_Bob on twitter.
  • Re-tweet "I just entered the Full Frontal Logo Contest #FFG" (You must do this to be considered.)
  • Enter as many times as you want.
  • Cut off date is December 1st, 2009 @ 12:01 AM PST.
  • The logo will go up on December 7th, and the winner will be notified via Direct Message on Twitter.
  • Open to any and all non-contributors of the blog. The winner will be selected by contributors.
  • By posting a link to an image, you give Full Frontal Gaming non-exclusive rights to use that image. Copyrighted material is automatically excluded.

Demo Review - Star Trek D-A-C

So I was excited to see a new Star Trek game. My hopes were high while I downloaded the demo on my PS3. I should have known better, really.

Imagine my disappointment when it turns out to be Super Stardust HD, only repackaged with different things to shoot.

Yes there's a co-op mode, and a few other things that Stardust doesn't have, but in general the control scheme is the same and all you do is fly around and shoot things in an asteroids style game.

Like I said, I should have known better.

There is no strategy, no thought. Part of what I loved about Star Trek was the the cerebral part, mixed with ship battles. In fact you could do much better by allowing most of the ship battles to be automated and work on the missions. Worth a download, but not worth the money.

  • Explosions - Yes
  • Controls - OK
  • Rating - 5/10
  • Get the Demo - Meh.
  • Get the Game - No

Friday, November 13, 2009

Trailer Review - Final Fantasy XIII

Once again it is time for a trailer review. This time it's the new hotness known as Final Fantasy XIII. They decided that title fit on the box better than "Consume Every Free Moment of Time in My Life for the Next Three Months."

After the requisite title screen we get a nice intro from our MC for this trailer.

Next we get a little information about the characters, first comes the heroine, lighting.

Next is snow. At this point I'm wondering which character will be "Heavy Drizzle".

Then they seem to break from the theme with a spice like name, Vanille (Extract?).

Finally, we're introduced to Hope. Wait, I thought someone else brought us hope, with change we can believe in.

Like it says, he's sensitive. Don't make fun of his weight, he'll start pouting in the corner. Once again they say they changed the battle system. To me it looks like an incremental improvement.

Finally, we get to the explosions. It seems every trailer needs one of these.

The battle commands stack up and are removed right to left as your players beat on those nasty beasts.

The next image is why I say this is an incremental improvement. They still have the same hand pointer that's been used for years. You mean you couldn't find a better way of highlighting the command yet?

Of course there's riding the bird. I'm surprised PETA hasn't taken Square-Enix down.

Finally, the piece everyone was waiting for, a release date for the US.

So time for the scores.
  • Explosions - Yes
  • Game Play - Yes
  • Pre-rendered Video - Yes
  • See the trailer - Yes
  • Overall Rating 13/15
  • Buy, Rent or Skip the game - Buy (for now)

Upcoming Posts

I wanted to give you a teaser of what's coming next here at Full Frontal Gaming.
This list doesn't imply the order in which these articles will come out, and we reserve the right to add and/or remove as need be.

The Pitfalls of the Pint - Drinking and Gaming

Drinking and gaming can be fun

Here's some tips to keep you from being banned

So you've done it or know someone who has. Drinking and gaming. That said, it is especially important in multiplayer online games that you use moderation and control. Otherwise you end up the jackass everyone muted for trying to sing Poker Face to your team, while playing a FPS. (Drinking and Rock Band is a completely different story.)

Here's the tips:
  1. Play on servers that you won't be banned (official, friends) for trying to lighten the mood
  2. If you're an angry drunk, just don't drink. If you're the singing happy drunk, that's cool. (Your team might be loosing 120-0 but at least they can laugh.)
  3. Don't join serious games. Understand that you really won't help your team all that much, so drinking before a clan match is probably a bad idea.
  4. Stay on the ground. I can't tell you the number of times, flying while intoxicated has killed my character. Mainly because at a certain point you quit caring and keeping track.
  5. Listen to your team, if people are complaining then stop, or move to a different server.
  6. You can sing without using the mic. Not nearly as entertaining to your team, but still a lot of fun.
  7. Limit your intake. I had a night that I didn't realize how much beer I was consuming until I finished off a growler. That didn't end well. Have a limit and stick to it.
Now, these tips apply less to multiplayer party games. That said if you're throwing a party with drinking and gaming, make sure you have a place people can crash without driving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why You Need to Be Wired Part 2

This is the conclusion of yesterday's "Why You Need to Be Wired Part 1". Read that first for context.

These posts relate to all of the current generation consoles, PS3, Wii and XBox360.

So now that we've talked about interference, we need to talk about overhead and latency. Latency or "ping" refers to the amount of time it takes to get from your computer or console to another computer or console. Overhead and latency go hand in hand, and the biggest portion is encryption. Encryption is very useful to keep people from spoofing your bank's web site as well as protecting your own passwords. That said this protection comes at a cost. First let's look at a low bandwidth ping test.

Using wired Ethernet:

Using wireless:

Looks almost the same, and some may say, wireless is faster, which is true in this case. My wired connection uses Computer -> USB -> Ethernet -> Switch -> Router -> The Internet, where as my wireless connection is Computer -> Wireless -> Router -> The Internet. Yes the extra switch is introducing a 1 ms delay. But remember this is a low bandwidth test, where the router has to do very little to decode the packets and the computer has to do very little to encode them.

A speed test tells the real story.
Using wired Ethernet:

Using wireless:

You'll notice that when I went to a wireless connection, my ping doubled and my bandwidth dropped. This mostly due to the encryption. Additionally, there's what's called overhead with wireless. Overhead is extra control signals from your device to the router (and back again) which is not part of the data you intended to send/receive. It is meant to manage the data being sent and to check for data errors. This overhead reduces your overall bandwidth and processing it introduces some more delay. When the overall bandwidth usage is low, this delay is insignificant, but up the amount of data to transfer and look out.

You'll note in all 4 cases I used exactly the same server, and in all 4 cases I used the same computer and internet connection. I also ran each test more than once to obtain consistent results, and while Comcast may have shaped the packet, they would have done the same in all the tests, thus giving us reliable results regardless.

After seeing all this, some may say "Well, I'm going to turn encryption off!" Please, for the love of all that's holy in this world, do not open up your personal wireless router to everyone. First, this really doesn't solve all your issues, remember the other wireless overhead? Second, removing encryption not only opens up your traffic to everyone else around you but it makes it easy for someone else to connect to your router. Even if you have MAC address filtering, that won't stop someone from connecting to your network and potentially doing malicious things such as downloading child pornography. Guess who the feds blame when they trace the download to your IP? Encryption gives you some protection against this, and in most cases the malicious person will continue on down the street looking for another sucker rather than attempting to crack your connection.

WPA/WPA2 with a pre-shared key is enough for most people.

A final note, yes I live on the west coast, and that does seem to help. I tend to get very good pings on my PS3, typically sub 65 ms when playing in the US official Warhawk servers. And for those who are not math inclined, 1000 ms = 1 second, so 65 ms = .065 s.

Using the numbers from the speed test as an example, a ping of 126 means that I would get 7.9 updates per second. Heck if I removed the extra switch and got that 1 ms back, I'd get 8. Compare that with a ping of 249 (wireless speed test) where I'd be getting 4 updates a second and you can see why this is important.

Effectively, with a ping of sub 65 I'm getting an update from the server 15 times per second or more. Not only does this improve my game play it means the server has better data for the other players to use as well improving their game play. If someone joins with a ping of 333 or more they are getting less than 3 updates a second, 1/5th of my speed and incremental updates are 5 times bigger. And anyone who's crazy enough to join with over 1000 ms ping, they end up bogging a server down (lots more data to send at a time.)

So now that you know why it is important to use your Ethernet connection get a cable. If it is from Dollar Tree or MonoPrice makes no difference, just get one and use it. Your fellow games will thank you (or at least not curse your name due to your horrible ping, no promises on other cursing).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why You Need to Be Wired Part 1

This post goes into all the gory details why using wi-fi to play games online is a bad idea. If you don't care so much as to the why, just find yourself an Ethernet cable and use that.

So wi-fi is great for a lot of things. For downloading items on your laptop or browsing the interwebs it is great. Even for flash games, which download and run on your local machine it works wonderfully.

It is no wonder next generation console makers would include it. In fact the Wii doesn't even have an Ethernet port. It's cheap to add and has wide spread appeal. That said, I've hit the single biggest disservice to gamers I've ever seen.

So, for those who don't know, 802.11a started at 5 Ghz. It was faster, less prone to interference but the signal only went ~50' and the components were expensive. Thus entered 802.11b/g. These two standards used the 2.4 Ghz range to get 3 times the range. 802.11b had a much reduced data rate, but 802.11g finally brought back 802.11a speeds with the extra distance. All is golden right?


As you may or may not be aware, 2.4 Ghz was open as that's the frequency microwaves used. Additionally some portable phones used this frequency as well. Now some are saying how bad could it be?

Imagine a still lake. Now imagine a throwing a rock that water and creating a wave. Also imagine a guy on the other side who measures the time between waves. You can "send" him information and he can receive it. That's your normal wi-fi signal. Nice, clean waves without a lot of interference. Then someone gets the idea to microwave nachos. It's like throwing an injured baby seal into the lake. All the thrashing and such interferes with your nice clean waves. The listener (router) cannot tell what to listen to easily, so it spends extra time filtering out the noise and only looking at the biggest waves, thus degrading the speed. The same thing happens with those 2.4 Ghz phones.

So here's the second and more important piece, do you know why microwaves operate at 2.4 Ghz? It's because that's the wave length which water absorbs. And we have these annoying bags which are filled 2/3 with water walking around all the time. Most people call them family and/or friends.

Furthermore, with the PS3 and Wii, the controllers are Bluetooth based. Again, wireless and you guessed it, at 2.4 Ghz. Add in neighbors and other interference, you're lucky to ever get a signal.

Now I know some of you are saying, but what about 802.11n. Doesn't that run at 5 Ghz? Yes and no. 802.11n uses both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz to increase bandwidth and maintain backwards compatibility. This means your bandwidth can change drastically at a moment's notice. Plus as more and more devices move to 802.11n, we are going to have the same crowding problem we have with 802.11g.

Okay, so we've talked about why you're signal will degrade and cause problems, but so what? Even at the most degraded levels you still get 11Mb/s which far exceeds your cable modem so who cares.

Well there's a second piece we've glossed over. That's protocol overhead and latency added. I'll add that in part 2 of this series.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Classic Gaming / Greatest Hits

Today's post is a little bit of editorial rather than a review:

So yes I realize I'm playing into a xkcd joke, but I just started Uncharted - Drake's Fortune. I got it for a song, and so far it's kept me and my wife entertained.

While I understand Uncharted 2 is all the rage right now, I encourage people to look back at the greatest hits and classics. Play through Mario Brothers again, shoot that dog on Duck Hunt.

When you hit a frustrating point of Modern Warfare 2, remember, your old games need love too.

A round or two of Warhawk never hurt anybody. MaximumSOAP on Monday nights, 9 PM Eastern, 6 PM Pacific, sponsored by Heavy7666.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trailer Review - Modern Warfare 2

What is a trailer review?

Since this is the first one I feel an introduction is in order. As it stands now, there's a better chance of winning the Powerball than getting a game early to review here, so instead we here at Full Frontal Gaming will be reviewing the latest trailers and telling you which ones to watch. Oh and don't take this too seriously, this meant to be fun.

Onward to the review!

Call of Duty 6 - Modern Warfare 2

Producer - Infinity Ward

This trailer starts off showing a smart bomb camera going down, transitioning into a pre-rendered explosion of a building. Next you see guys getting into Humvees and manning the minigun on top. The vehicular scenes continue blowing up what looks to be houses in suburbia America. There's a flash of an airport and then back to suburbia where you see houses on fire.

As this jumbled train wreck of pre-rendered video continues you see helicopters taking off, characters fighting in the tundra, scuba diving, guys fighting with night vision googles and people reloading their guns. Finally it seems we get to our first look at non pre-rendered video but still no actual game play.

It appears to be a squad defending an airfield against terrorists. Followed by a tunnel collapsing on you and your fellow squad members.

Despite the fact that all you've seen are jumbled images put to music the trailer continues on to rocket launcher on pillars and then back to snow mobiles on the tundra. After you watch the snow mobiles explode you see guys launching rockets from a castle and guys using a riot shield to deflect bullets. Back to the airfield, suburbia, and then outer space as you watch a space station blow up.

Once the second of space video is done, on to the jet skis and then the airport again. The repetition continues until you see a guy with green flares. Start the explosion scenes. You see at least three helios go down, with big explosions. Then the cut back to the title.

Overall, I say skip the trailer it'll only confuse you.
  • Explosions - Yes
  • Game Play - No
  • Pre-rendered Video - Yes
  • See the trailer - No
  • Overall Rating 6/10
  • Buy, Rent or Skip the game - Buy

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Media Review - Netflix on the PS3

Movies on demand

Getting Started

So I got my disc yesterday in the mail. Came with the same speed as normal Netflix movies. The envelope was a little different to help keep people from sending back the disc.

I set out on getting provisions for my movie night.

With the proper provisions secured I put in the disc and was presented with the standard loading screen. After the disc loaded up, I had to take a code from the disc and entered using a computer to link the accounts. While entering that information I also ordered the second disc for my second PS3. In talking with Netflix, they are not placing any restrictions on the number of PS3s which you can stream on. You can request another disc when registering your current disc.

So with the code secured, the menu loaded up.


The picture quality is awesome. Even in SD the picture is far better than standard cable. Also, I have yet to see any streaming/buffering problems. All video playback has been smooth.


Like any other Netflix streaming the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. That said, it still sounds good.

Control Scheme

This leads me to the first place I wasn't impressed. This doesn't use the standard PS3 video controls. Irritating to say the least, I frankly expected forward and back to fast forward and rewind. Instead it goes into a paused mode where you can select the scene you want. Using L2/R2 rewind and fast forward work, but the interface is a little funky.

Additionally, hitting pause can take several seconds to pause the stream which is annoying.

Finally, using up while video is playing will take you back to the menu, saving your position. Quite clever if you ask me, so that earns a thumbs up.

Watching a Series

So here's another annoyance. Netflix will go to the next item in a series only when you run though to the end credits. You'd think if there was less than 3 minutes left when you exited playback the next show should be automatically selected.


Netflix doesn't put the latest releases up to stream on demand. I can't even get the latest X-Men movie. I can get them through the PS3 video store, though it'll cost me a lot more.


  • Video Quality - Superb
  • Audio Quality - OK (2 channel DD, No different than standard Netflix streaming)
  • Controls - Meh
  • Selection - So so (Missing new releases)

Overall Rating 7/10

Comparison with PlayOn

I've used play on for months. I've had streaming problems with Netflix and the audio isn't as good. That said, the control scheme is standard using PlayOn.

Other Items

Remember for ~$10/month you can get unlimited streaming + Blu-Ray discs.

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