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Holy Bot

Bedroom music production, gaming and random shit

Month

January 2013

About Patch 1.06

There’s a new update for Black Ops II on PS3. Reading the change notes, there seem to be some new features, like a “Go to Top” button for the League Leaderboard. Really? Who the fuck cares? Fail.

And the issues addressed, like smoother turret tracking when targeting players… Come on now, these aren’t critical fixes.

Further down the list, there’s gameplay balancing. Now, I don’t mind that, but some efforts are a bit strange: the FAL OSW was already nerfed with patch 1.04 (did it not get right the first time?) and the Type 25 has always been overpowered, why make it even more so?

Even though Treyarch claims to listen to the community and update the game based on the feedback, I do think Treyarch misses the point by far: Black Ops II’s biggest flaw simply is lag.

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About Patch 1.06

There’s a new update for Black Ops II on PS3. Reading the change notes, there seem to be some new features, like a “Go to Top” button for the League Leaderboard. Really? Who the fuck cares? Fail.

And the issues addressed, like smoother turret tracking when targeting players… Come on now, these aren’t critical fixes.

Further down the list, there’s gameplay balancing. Now, I don’t mind that, but some efforts are a bit strange: the FAL OSW was already nerfed with patch 1.04 (did it not get right the first time?) and the Type 25 has always been overpowered, why make it even more so?

Even though Treyarch claims to listen to the community and update the game based on the feedback, I do think Treyarch misses the point by far: Black Ops II’s biggest flaw simply is lag.

Clarity to Your Mix

Let’s talk about mixing electronic music, i.e. dubstep.

Mixing means spreading out all the sounds into individual spaces. There are some things you could do to create space, clarity and depth to your mix. And the tools to do this are: a) volume, b) pan, c) reverb, d) phase and e) equalization. Wisely use EQ to cut away unwanted frequency ranges, e.g. muddy low frequencies, or gently boost parts that need a little attention.

Many dubstep tracks are built around drum and bass and are – on the most fundamental production level – sequenced around 140 BPM, has a nasty-textured wobble bassline and are programmed to a half-time beat.

Of course there’s no set method, and breaking the rules is anyway regarded as innovative. Nevertheless, drums are commonly created through overlaid samples, e.g. a snare drum sample and clap, merged with reverb. And when it comes to the kick, it shouldn’t collide with the self-oscillated sub-bass, which is achieved by reserving frequency ranges (or by side-chain compression).

Below is a prominent frequency map, stolen from Simmon Power’s excellent dubstep mixing guide and music mastering series. (Yeah, they’re old, but so is the Bible man.)

  • Sub: 30 Hz
  • 808 Kick: 60 Hz
  • 909 Kick: 110 Hz
  • D&B Kick: 150 Hz
  • Bass: 220 Hz
  • Congas: 500 Hz
  • Pads: 800 Hz
  • [Snare: 1 kHz]
  • Rising FX: 1.7 kHz
  • Crash: 2 kHz
  • Stabs: 3.5 kHz
  • Claps: 6 kHz
  • Weight: 20 Hz – 150 Hz
  • Warmth: 220 Hz – 380 Hz
  • Muddiness: 250 Hz – 400 Hz
  • Knock/Punch: 600 Hz – 1 kHz
  • Definition/Bite: 1 kHz – 2 kHz
  • Clarity: 4 kHz – 7.5 kHz
  • Air/Sparkle: 7.5 kHz – 20 kHz

There’s a lot more characteristics to dubstep: pads and lead sounds, composition and arrangement, instrumentation, shuffle and swing, triplet rhythms and syncopation, dynamics, breaks, build ups and drops, stereo image/width and movement, compression and limitation, modulation and automation, resampling… But hey, I gotta go.

Just one last thing, don’t forget to listen to your mix, use your ears and stop staring at the frequency charts. And if possible, listen to your shit on different systems – a good mix should sound alright almost everywhere.

Ladies and gentlemen, here it is, the infamous home studio/man cave.

http://www.tumblr.com/audio_file/palsen/41733674518/tumblr_mhcybbDrKQ1s3t8ku?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

The Hub is a track I’ve made a while ago. It’s some cocky electro shit, kind of dirty. Neither the best nor the worst.

A Good Game

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There’s a lot of beasting on YouTube, monsters that seamlessly get 100+ kills and pro clans (Faze Clan, Team Envyus or OpTic…) just murdering it.

But the common gamer doesn’t reach such heights as certain hardcore gamers do. I’m talking about the regular players, amateurs. I’d say that a pretty fair player has a 1.5+ K/D. And based on my experience, the average, struggling player is at 1.2, I figure.

A good game of Team Deathmatch or Kill Confirmed for an occasional player, would be above 35 kills and below 9 deaths. And if you score above 3000 points on Domination, you’ve done pretty well.

I’m a struggling player. My K/D is around 1.4, and if lag compensation doesn’t get the best of me, I usually go like 25-12 on TDM or Kill Confirmed.

My buddy papa_oregano often gets 30+ kills, but at the same time dies 40+ times. How is it possible that he clashes with enemies 70 times, whilst I only meet half as many enemies during a whole match? When I asked him about this, he accused me of camping. But really, I don’t. (Perhaps on Carrier, if I’ve chosen a sniper class.) For example TDM on Standoff, I never stop moving – I’m not even aiming down the sight, dude!

Basically what I’m suggesting is that a mediocre player like myself, don’t get matched to lobbies where kids get 100+ kills. At the most extreme, some lucky bastard, with a couple of high Scorestreaks, might get 90 kills.

About Matchmaking and How to Find a Noob

In Black Ops II the biggest challenge you’re likely to face isn’t good players, no it’s fucking lag compensation. For real. Consider this, in Sweden most PS3 owners have at least 10 Mbps – and many 100 Mbps – meaning 4 bar connection at all time, and still, we suffer consistent laggy games, just as anyone else.

Now, I could go on and on about latency, ping, search (locale) preferences, host migration and dropouts, instead I intend to write about the skill based matchmaking.

Some time ago on Activision’s support site, a detailed article on the Black Ops II matchmaking process was published. The article focuses on Public Matches. In brief, the article describes an algorithm designed and filtered to a) place you in a game host in your region, where b) the average player’s skill is similar to yours, and c) where the connection is as best.

One of the filters in the matchmaking process roughly sets you up against other players in the same broad skill range. That is, you should generally not get matched to games where the average skill of players is extreme in relation to your skill level. Although, how the game denotes skill is unknown. It could be by scores per minute (SPM), by kill/death ratio, by win/loss ratio or even by some sort of hidden kill per minute counter.

An enjoyable game is simply where you’re doing well. Not where you end up losing the match with a K/D ratio below 1. Too heavy competition just brings you down. It’s more fun to own noobs, right? To enter lobbies where everyone is a tryhard camper with 2.0+ K/D isn’t that exciting for most players.

You shouldn’t be alarmed by high ranks in a lobby though. With those prestige glitches all over PS3, you’ll often meet cheaters with Prestige Master and 3-4 K/D but who turn out sucking big time.

How to predict a defeat

Does anybody know of any noob lobbies? I guess you just have to be lucky. At the same time, it’s easier to avoid elite lobbies. I reckon that the later in the evening you play, the more difficult competition gets. Know that after midnight there’s a lot of no lifers online, and as they say, practice makes perfect.

You’re often sure to tell if the competition will be hard if you’re up against people with headsets and the same clan tag. This isn’t waterproof, but it could be a sign of an upcoming defeat.

A half-ass tip is, if you’re playing with friends in a party, whose skills are varied, you could set the worst player of your team as the Party Leader. Actually I haven’t found any real evidence to support this theory, but suppose the protocols of matchmaking is based on the Party Leader’s stats, then if you’re better than the leader you should be able to be matched to games with a lower average skill level. I usually play with friends and we do this all the time, but I haven’t experience it to work that well.

One thing about playing with friends is that the connection issues tend to be worse. Too many times, I’ve rage quit from a party due to lag, and when I then play on my own, I find the lag less noticeable.

P. S. Yeah about my friends, well we’re not a clan, there’s no teamwork what so ever, we just play together.

Please Shoot Me: A Review of Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 received widespread acclaim from critics. I just can’t understand this. I don’t like this game at all. It’s ugly and clunky and it doesn’t bring anything fresh. Far Cry 3 is a potpourri of incongruous games and mechanics – where nothing is done right.

The Havok physics engine, with its ragdoll techniques, hasn’t looked this dull since 2007, when the PS3 was new. (Bear in mind that environment, nature, trees and stones, always look good as computer-generated imagery.)

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Far Cry 3 is a sandbox game, set on a tropical archipelago called the Rook Islands. The protagonist is trying to survive and escape from pirates dealing in human trafficking, whilst also saving his friends.

The campaign is kinda repetitive and the story isn’t as compelling as some critics suggest; the writer of the plot claims to investigate what killing does to humanity, how being force to kill, effects the Average Joe. These heavy issues inside the framework of a first-person shooter? And for kids? Come on motherfucker, don’t believe the hype. There’s no such subtext – ambitious yes, but still vague and mal placé.

The more I think about the plot and narrative, the dumber it seems. E.g. in the end when you must chose between your life long friends or the catalyst Citra – that you’ve briefly met like five times  the decision should be obvious, still the game presents this as a tough one.

The cast of characters are awkwardly binary, either they’re good or they’re bad. And you know this from the first time they enter the scene. And they’re just boring (there’s no Brucie Kibbutz or Mordin Solus.) Moreover, the cast is not a complex web of relations, there’s really no intrigues, like in Metal Gear Solid or Mass Effect.

This is a FPS but its mechanics are slow and inaccurate, nothing like Call of Duty, Killzone or Battlefield. Headshots are essential due to the slow time to kill. Aiming for the body, you’ll quickly burn through your ammo.

Far Cry 3 also features role-playing game elements including experience points, skill trees, and a crafting system. But these are not nearly as sophisticated, as let’s say, Fallout or Skyrim.

The game’s AI gives artificial intelligence a bad name. The enemy is like a five year old child, and at the same time got a sixth sense, finding you in a bush a thousand meters away camping like a boss with a sniper rifle and suppressor.

The missions are rip off of other games and franchises: the resemblance to Grand Theft Auto and Uncharted series, and Red Dead Redemption are striking.

Sneaking missions seems to play a large role here, but they are poorly executed. Nothing like Hitman or Assassin’s Creed.

There’s a few type of vehicles, although none of them are fun to drive. And they differ only in size and how well they grip the underlying terrain (if you’re off road with a quad bike, it’s like driving on ice, man).

Far Cry 3 also features co-op and a competitive multiplayer mode. All this is a total waste of time.

Note: The comparisons to other titles above, refers only to specific mechanics, not as games in whole.

Mix VoIP and in-game sound with the G330

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The Logitech Gaming Headset G330 is a low budget pick, which works on the PS3 as VoIP mixed with in-game sound. No sweat, literally; it has comfortable foam earpieces that won’t make your ears sweaty. And that’s really why I got ‘em in the first place. I wanted a light, small headset. Not any circumaural headphones with ear-cups of leather or artificial leather.

The headset features adjustable behind-the-head design, a noise-cancelling cardioid microphone, which in practice works well. The VoIP is pretty clear, but listening to in-game sound lacks power overall.

There are also in-line audio controls on the cord, which allow you to adjust the volume or mute the microphone.

The cable is sufficient, 2.4 m. Having a cord means, a) no issues Wi-Fi or Bluetooth dropouts, b) no inconvenient recharging of batteries, and c) cables lying around. (They should invent a technology to charge batteries wirelessly, now wouldn’t that be something?)

How to mix the in-game sound

Even if this headset is designed for Windows-based computers and Macs, it does work on the PS3. And, as stated above, you’re able to get the in-game sound mixed with the VoIP, that is, if you rewire the cables. Here’s how:

1. Connect the USB adapter in one of the port of the PS3.

2. Plug the headset’s output (male) to the input of the USB adapter.

3. Plug your TV or amplifier output (via a 3.5 mm-cable, male to male) to the phones input of the USB adapter.

4. In Settings > Accessory Settings > Audio Device Settings, select the Input Device to the headset, and select the Output Device to HDMI, or whatever you use.

5. In Settings > Sound Settings > Audio Multi-Output, turn this setting to “On”.

Actually, I don’t think step 5 is necessary, but it won’t hurt setting it on. Truth be told, the sound this way won’t be too good though – forget about sound whoring. But it does work.

The Logitech Gaming Headset G330 was my first headset. Since then I had the Tritton AX 180 Headset (plainly bad sound), the Turtle Beach Ear Force PX21 (too loud hiss), the Sony PULSE wireless stereo headset – Elite Edition (bad bass rumble effect, it’s like someone knocking on the headband) and nowadays I use the Turtle Beach Ear Force PX5 (so far, the best).

Gaming headsets are only, at their best, good for gaming. None of the headsets can match “real” headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 25-1 II. Hell, even a pair of Koss Porta Pro sounds better than any of these (including the legendary Astro A40).

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