Monday, June 9, 2014

<3 Gaming Laptop

I haven't done significantly much in the way in gaming or posting about gaming. I'd planned to knock out quite a few games since January, but time constraints with work and other obligations have kept me from following through on that. Gaming isn't my only pastime activity that has suffered due to real life, and this makes me sad. It's hard being a grown up with actual responsibilities, but I digress. I was supposed to write about my experience with Star Wars: The Old Republic in this post, which I started playing around late February/early March, but this turned more into a post about my recent BIG gaming purchase, which was for a "real" gaming laptop. My current specs are:

20140419_115003


Processor: i7-4700MQ (2.4 GHz - 3.4 GHz)
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 8970M RAM: 32 gb DDR3 1600MHz Dual Channel Memory
Primary Hard Drive: 120GB Crucial M5 Series SSD
Secondary Hard Drive: HGST Travelstar 2.5-Inch 1TB 7200RPM
OS: Windows 8.1 (Boo!)


I'm a gaming laptop person. I have desktops that I have built specifically for heavy gaming, too, but I like the portability of laptop gaming. I can often take my laptop to work and set up my command center and do things during lunch and slow hours. I also take my laptop on trips and use it when I have down time. To be fair, I do use my laptop for business/other purposes as well. It's great to have in my office for work. However, let's not kid ourselves. Its main goal is for gaming. Everyone knows it.

I know that some people have their issues with laptops not being idea for gaming, but it has been the idea solution for me. Also, laptops have come such a long way in terms of gaming, even though gaming laptops have been around forever. I feel like some people hold on to a very Neolithic view of laptops and gaming that need some dispelling. My laptops have held up just as good if not better than most desktops that I've owned, but I will concede they're more a pain to get repaired if something goes wrong with them.

The first gaming laptop I got was about three years ago wasn't specifically for gaming. It was a laptop that could handle games very, very well. It was an Acer, and it was my baby. This is significant because this also marked my foray into playing PC games seriously. I'd built a PC with my husband that was powerful, but my main goal there was to be able to play my favorite MMO of all time (the now defunct City of Heroes/Villains) with no lag and great graphics.

I'd played other PC games, but I wasn't ever really serious about any of them. I preferred to play games on my consoles because, at that point, I was more comfortable with a controller in my hands than using a keyboard and mouse. I just always felt so awkward playing with a keyboard and mouse. Even playing CoH, I had a weird keyboard setup to make it more comfortable for me.

Then, I got my Acer. The goal was never to be able to play games on it. I actually just needed a new laptop for productivity reasons. I had no idea the power that it possessed could play games at medium to high settings (ultra at times, depending on the game). Around this time, a friend mentioned that I should check out Mass Effect 2. I'd heard about Mass Effect, but hadn't been interested since I thought it was just going to be some space war game that I couldn't get into. Another reason I hadn't tried it is because the first game was only PC or Xbox. I didn't have an Xbox at the time only a Playstation 3, and I do not like to start a game series on the second (or later)

game if I can help it. I have to start from the beginning. So, checking out Mass Effect presented a dilemma. Since I didn't have an Xbox, my next question was: Could my laptop play it?

I installed Mass Effect, not expecting a whole lot to be honest. I knew I had a decent CPU and RAM, but I wasn't so sure about the graphics card. I was really surprised when not only could the laptop handle it, but it could play it at high settings. This started my first step into gaming on a PC almost exclusively. Mass Effect made me a better PC gamer. It was a little bit of a learning curve getting accustomed to default keyboard/mouse setup (nothing too terrible, but still), but now, I have no problems jumping into most PC games without worry. I actually prefer to game on a PC now days.

I upgraded my 15-inch Acer to another Acer computer with a 17-inch screen and more RAM after about a year. I gave my old Acer to a relative whose in college to use for classes and gaming. Even after 3 years, it still handles most games awesomely, which is truly a testament to how reliable a laptop can be for gaming, even heavy gaming. In the Acer I bought after my initial one, I changed out the CPU to a quad core. After having that one for about 18 months, I was finally ready to make the leap to an actual laptop that was for gaming and not just a laptop that could handle gaming. Around mid-February, I finally got a brand new gaming laptop from XoticPC. Initially, I'd wanted the Sager 8295. However, I debated for over a month about whether to spend the money or not before I actually ordered it. After ordering it, I got an email saying that it was out of stock and that they could offer me a build with similar specs (the Sager 8275) but with some cosmetic differences from the 8295.

After debating, I decided not having some of the cosmetic features wasn't a big deal, and I didn't want to wait until mid-March, which was the expected ETA on getting the specific model I wanted back in stock on both XoticPC and the Sager official site. I managed to order the last 8275 before it was out of stock on both as well.

Let me just say that my experience with XoticPC was a great one. There were a few hiccups in my journey to getting this laptop that I felt they handled well including one really infuriating moment with my bank not wanting to allow the purchase. There was a representative communicating with me every step of the way.

In fact, this same representative was one I'd been speaking to a month prior. I'd been bugging him with all my questions, and once I decided to purchase, he became my contact person, as well. I appreciate that there was one person that I could communicate with at all times instead of being bounced around from person to person, and it kept the experience consistent since he was familiar with the situation and could offer answers based on what we'd gone through previously.

I would highly recommend buying from their site, and I'm sure my future purchases will be made from them. I even received my laptop earlier than planned and a $50 refund I wasn't really expecting from a service that I added that they felt they hadn't necessarily provided. So, they get a thumbs up for me for making a process that could've been a pain relatively easy, even with some of the problems I had.

(Note: These models I mentioned have since been updated to newer models on the site, so you won't find these exact models for sale anymore.)

I added my own secondary hard drive which is why I linked it in the specs above. The new laptop isn't as sleek and mean as my old Acers, but I don't mind. What I love is that I can upgrade just about everything

on this machine with relative ease. I don't anticipate having to change the RAM any time soon since what I have is already overkill, but I know I'll want to upgrade the processor in the very near future. I don't plan on getting a new laptop for quite some time thanks to this one.

I'm mostly happy with this purchase. I felt a little awkward spending so much money on myself for one purchase. I blame this on being a mommy and feeling as if I could've did something different with the money like spend it on my family, even though I know I am still going to spend money on my family. I've had to remind myself that this was "me" money and not "family" money that I spent.

There have been a couple of games that have acted a little weird on the system, but I'm sure that is Windows 8's fault. Some games are very laggy with low FPS when I play in full screen, but this problem seems to correct itself in full windowed mode for whatever reason. Also, there was one point where I was stressing out and thought that Skyrim wasn't using my dedicated graphics card (I have an onboard graphics, too, making the system switchable), but it turned out that my game was crashing because of a mod that was conflicting with it.

My old laptop has gone to my husband who is learning the joys of PC gaming now, though I doubt he'll ever be a predominantly PC gamer. He's recently started playing Borderlands 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and SWTOR. All of which he plays with me, but we're getting there.
Continue Reading…

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mini Double Review: Amanita Design - Botanicula and Machinarium

Continuing on my journey to whittle down my "to-be-played" pile, two Amanita Designs games, Botanicula and Machinarium, unassumingly eased their way on to my play list. Botanicula was part of one of the recent Humble Bundle Indie Sales, the same one that I acquired Thomas Was Alone from, and Machinarium was part of the free games for Playstation+ members. I have to say I'm impressed with the simple way they presented both games. I wasn't sure if I'd really like their games,

Amanita doesn't start their games with lengthy instructions or even a general overlook. Instead, you're immersed in the gameplay, immediately clicking your way around and unlocking the new worlds they have dropped you in. This worked very well in their case--probably more so for Botanicula than Machinarium, but both games were very fun to explore. I enjoyed the unimposing approach they've set before you. You understand what you're supposed to do, even if you don't have instructions set before you, and you're tasked with figuring out how to achieve that goal.

Continue Reading…

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: Papo & Yo

My first completed game of 2014! I'm on a mission to clear my PC backlog. I'm not sure how successful I will be since I keep acquiring new games from the Humble Bundle and the Steam sales (though I am pleased to report that I behaved myself during the holiday sale) faster than I can actually play them. I used a website to pick five random numbers based on how many PC games I own, and the five it picked would be my first plays of the year no matter what they were. The five games it spit out were L.A. Noire, Papo & Yo, Risen, I Am Alive, and Tomb Raider (the reboot).

Initially, I started with I Am Alive, and while I was enjoying that game, I allowed Papo &  Yo to tempt me away because I loved the look of the game from screenshots I'd viewed, and I expected it to be something light and fun as opposed to the depressing darkness of I Am Alive. I finished this game in one night, soldiering way past bedtime to finish. This game isn't particularly long. I think it took me roughly three hours to complete. However, I'd started the game late with all intentions of going to sleep after a little play time. Instead, I found myself emotionally invested in this boy's journey. Spoilers ahead. You've been warned.

Continue Reading…

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This blog is a mishmash of thoughts, pictures, and rantings among other things about games I've played, games I will play, and games I am currently playing. From time to time, I may post book reviews that I've written that are about different games and/or game worlds. Feel free to recommend games or add me on the platforms I've listed. I don't do competitive multiplayer much anymore, but I'm always down for some co-op these days. I'm usually DigitalTempest everywhere unless otherwise specified.

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Email: digitaltempest82@gmail.com


PSN: DigitalTempest | XBL: DigitalTempest | Steam: DigitalTempest | Raptr: DigitalTempest


2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tiara has read 6 books toward her goal of 52 books.
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Tiara's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Elfstones Of Shannara
tagged: upcoming-reads, currently-reading, 2016-audiobook-challenge, classi...
Gardens of the Moon
tagged: currently-reading, fantasy, z-narrator-ralph-lister, 2016-audiobook...

goodreads.com

Tiara's bookshelf: read

Deceived
really liked it
Review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge and 2016-audiobook-challenge
The Girl from the Well
liked it
More reviews @ The Bibliosanctum TL;DR Review 2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to reread Anna Dressed in Blood to make myself feel better about this Longer Review: T...
tagged: 2016-women-of-genre-fiction-reading, horror, and young-adult
Thirteen Reasons Why
I don't think this quite captures the complexity of bullying and suicide, and some of the issues that Hannah started facing toward the end of the novel really seemed to detract even more from the feelings she was going through by having ...
tagged: young-adult, popsugar-2016-reading-challenge, 2016-audiobook-challe...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
liked it
Spoiler free review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge
The Phantom of the Opera
really liked it
tagged: classic-horror, classics, audiobook, 2016-audiobook-challenge, horr...

goodreads.com

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