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Comment Re:Still playing catch up (Score 1) 15

Even Valve only implemented refunds in response to a) growing legal rumblings and b) EA's Origin jumping the gun by going first and putting the publicity spotlight on Valve.

It's an issue where competition genuinely worked for the customer. It probably didn't hurt that threats of legal action in certain jurisdictions were hovering in the background.

Comment Re:pioneered by Microsoft's leading industrial des (Score 1) 135

Going from TFA, it appears to refer to vapour-chamber cooling. Now that's not actually an MS innovation; it's already in use on tech such as very high-end PC graphics cards (it's on the Nvidia 1080 Ti in my PC). But this is probably the first time it's been used in a piece of mass-market hardware like this.

Comment Re:1080P 'modes'? (Score 0) 135

Having read the Eurogamer/Digital Foundry articles, the quote you pick out appears to mean that users with 1080p displays will be able to enable supersampling, where the console renders an image at 4k but then displays it over a 1080p output.

It's basically a very, very resource heavy version of antialiasing and has been available in many PC games for years now.

Comment Re:Had to sell it (Score 3, Interesting) 110

The Switch is an ergonomic nightmare. I've got mild RSI and I have to be very, very careful about using it undocked, or via the joycons attached to the grip. Fortunately, the Pro Controller, while expensive, is fine in terms of its ergonomics (though the lack of analogue shoulder triggers reduces its quality as a controller).

But the Switch itself is about as bad as you can get. In undocked mode, the control inputs are right on the very outer edge of the unit. If you have normal-sized hands, the only way to hold it is via "pinching" the edges. Your hand is entirely unsupported and will slip into a cramped posture by default. The same problem is also present with the joycons when using them undocked.

Modern video game controllers have "wings" for a reason, even though they are generally just hollow plastic. They fill the palm of your hand during play and prevent you from cramping up your hand. This is both more comfortable in immediate terms, and less likely to lead to problems with your hands over prolonged use. Nintendo have completely ignored two decades of ergonomic progress with the Switch. A lot of people will be happily using their units right now and not (yet) feeling any ill effects, but storing up all kinds of problems with their hands for later in life.

If you want to play Zelda, then go ahead. It's not really my cup of tea, but some people seem to like it a lot. But for the love of god, get a Pro Controller if you're going to do so. No game is worth inflicting long-term pain on yourself.

Comment Not the target demographic? (Score 1) 226

I'm well outside the 18 to 24 demographic myself, so I may not be best placed to comment on this, but I'm not really sure how many of today's big movie releases are really targeted at that demographic.

Increasingly releases seem to be split into three categories:

1) Very Important Movies About Very Important Things (TM), also known as Oscar-bait, which is usually targeted at the middle-aged-and-older demographic.

2) Millennial/Gen-X nostalgia-fests based on comic-book franchises or reboots of old movies and the like which were big for people born in the '70s and '80s, but probably don't have much resonance for people born after around 1990 or so.

3) Kids' films, for which the actual spending-demographic is usually the parents in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are actually footing the bill.

That makes commercial sense, because those demographics are where the spending power lies. A visit to the cinema these days can be a fairly pricey affair, so I suspect the 18-24 demographic might just not be seen as worth chasing.

Comment Re:w00t - the K6 bug all over again! (Score 2) 113

AMD's issue here isn't necessarily that they have more of these problems or that the problems are more serious. It's that they have a reputation for having more of these problems and for them being more serious when they happen.

A lot of people, self included to a degree (though I do try to counter it) have picked up trust issues around AMD products over the years. In many cases, including mine, that may well be because we tried running AMD CPUs which just run a bit hotter than the Intel equivalents with cooling that would have been acceptable (but no more) in an Intel system, and ran into stability/longevity problems as a result. So it's more of a user-error than something innate in AMD's hardware. But the reputation is there and it's very easily reinforced by stories like this, even if it's a bit unfair.

Comment Re:Ridiculous Extrapolation (Score 2) 374

I suspect administration is the biggest factor here, at least assuming trends in the US have been anything like those here in the UK.

I still get the quarterly newsletter from my old college (usually accompanied by requests for donations of varying subtlety). What's been clear looking at these over the years is just how sharply the size of the administration function has increased since I was there. I did a quick and dirty estimate around 12 months ago, provoked by a particularly aggressive thrust of the begging bowl (I do actually make an annual donation, but never for as much as they want) and estimated that the administrative headcount had (at least) tripled in around 20 years.

I'd be prepared to bet that many of those administrators are paid as well as, if not better than, the lower and mid-ranking faculty. There were a lot of job titles that included the word "director", usually accompanied by a bunch of nebulous words that told you little about what the person actually did.

Luxury student accommodation probably pays for itself. Certainly, at my old college, the luxury accommodation they built is rented at premium rates to overseas students (typically Chinese or Middle Eastern) whose families can afford it and don't like the idea of their offspring roughing it.

Comment Re: FRost (Score 1) 632

The problem here is people going along with the flow and stampeding into fields which are either fashionable at the time, or else subject to big public messages around skills shortages. Those inevitably result in over-supply by the time the people who are choosing their educational path at the time actually make it into the job market.

A couple of decades ago, when I was making the educational choices that would largely define my career route, the accepted wisdom was that if you wanted the high-income middle-class lifestyle, you should become a lawyer. Go around my sixth-form classes (note for non-Brits - sixth-form is the usual term for the 16-18 slice of our educational system) and pretty much half of the class would have said they wanted to be lawyers. 20 years later, large tracts of the legal profession have been hit by a combination of massive over-supply and growing automation. It turned out to be anything but a pathway to riches for most.

This can happen with any field. STEM is not immune. Specific sub-sets of STEM, such as video-game design (which is the trendy pick of choice for modern teenagers), are critically over-supplied (and have been for a decade or more) to the extent that pay can be kept rock-bottom and staff treated like dirt.

There's no hard and fast secret to avoiding finding yourself in a similar situation, but as a general rule, keeping your skills sufficiently flexible to allow for a bit of direction-change and doing what you can to avoid lemming-rushes will generally help manage your risks.

Comment Re:Moore's Law (Score 2) 51

To some extent, that's going to depend on the size of your screen. Larger screens will show up a lack of anti-aliasing a lot more harshly than smaller ones. I suspect a lot of people still gaming at 1080p don't have massive screens (though of course there will be plenty of exceptions).

Comment Re:Moore's Law (Score 1) 51

The 1080 Ti isn't really pitched at people still playing games at 1080p. The 970, which is a few years old now, is still a pretty solid choice for 1080p gaming and its direct successor, the 1070, is overkill (and just fine for 1440p in many cases). Hell, running a lot of games on a 1080 Ti at 1080p, you will probably only see a modest improvement in performance over older cards before you hit CPU-constraints anyway.

The 1080 Ti is really designed for two things; 4K gaming and VR (and, to some degree, people wanting to do 1080p or 1440p gaming at 120Hz). Both of these make much better use of its capabilities. The rapid growth in affordable 4K monitors around 18-24 months ago was a bit of a shock to the system for a lot of people. Running games at 4K requires a huge escalation in resources compared to 1080p, which had been the de facto standard for a long, long time. The 970 and 980 both choked on 4K. The 980 Ti could manage it acceptably (and with a few image quality compromises) in some games, but was still overall more of a 1440p card. Even the 1080 wasn't really up to scratch. The benchmarks seen so far for the 1080 Ti show something that looks much more like an actual single-card 4K gaming solution (even though getting there fully will probably have to wait for Volta).

Then there's VR, which benefits from being able to hold very high framerates (while outputting more than one image) to counter-act motion sickness.

Comment Re:WTF ? (Score 1) 51

I... rather suspect that you are mixing up which card you have. Either that, or you have an "Nvidya G-Forks 1080Ti" with a suspicious amount of Chinese script on the packaging and curiously disappointing performance.

The GTX 1080 was launched in May 2016. The Titan X (Pascal) in August 2016. You might also be thinking of the lower-end GTX 1050 Ti, which launched in October 2016.

Comment Faster than the Titan... (Score 5, Interesting) 51

The "faster than a Titan" thing has been causing a bit of angst. The early reviews and benchmarks do indeed show that the 1080 Ti outperforms the Titan X (Pascal) in many cases. It's not universal; some games and benchmarks still favour the Titan by a tiny margin, but those are a minority.

But the sheer price of the Titan X (which was unprecedented in the Pascal series) has driven a lot of extra discontent this time around, especially as the 1080 Ti came out with a lower price than a lot of observers had been expecting (there were confident predictions from usually-reliable sources that it would be $200 north of where it actually landed). If you need a bit more salt in your diet, take a look at some of the threads over on the Nvidia forums today from disgruntled Titan X owners.

This is, however, pretty much par for the course in the high-end PC game and it's not as though Nvidia haven't slipped into a predictable cycle over their last few generations (at least since the 700-series) that makes clear how things work. If you want to buy a card that is "top of the range", you've basically got three options:

1) Buy the *80 card that arrives with the first wave of consumer cards in each generation. You will get a few months at the top of the tree, until the release of the (massively more expensive) Titan. This is always the cheapest of the three options, but also the most time-limited.

2) Buy the Titan that comes out a few months after the *80. This will have an absurd price tag - often twice that of the *80. It will be the fastest thing around for, in general, 6-9 months, and even then, the next card may only match it rather than beating it.

3) Buy the *80 Ti that comes out 6-9 months after the Titan. This will generally give you framerates in most games in the +/- 3% range of the Titan, but for a price much closer to the *80. This will hold its place at the top for anywhere from 9 to 15 months, until the release of the next generation of cards. In the next generation, the *80 will outperform the last generation *80 Ti and the *70 will offer broadly comparable (maybe slightly better) performance for around half the price.

I've been going for the *80 Ti route for a while now, on the grounds that the price/performance ratio tends to hold up better over time. I'm seeing complaints at the moment from people who bought a Titan within the last few weeks, which is just bizarre. The 1080 Ti has been known to be close to release since January, so why anybody would take the plunge on a Titan at $1200 under those circumstances is beyond me.

I'm working from home today and waiting for my 1080 Ti to be delivered. I wish I could say I'm not bouncing up and down in my chair going "SQUEEEEEE!!!" like a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert, but I'm not sure how convincingly I could make that case.

Comment Re:Dead pixels normal... in 2001. (Score 5, Informative) 241

I bought a Switch at launch, more out of curiousity than anything else. The story of the platform across the board is "handful of nice ideas let down by corner-cutting and failure to comprehend basic design lessons".

I haven't personally experienced the most serious issues with the device. That's to say, I have no dead pixels. I do not, under normal circumstances, have the wireless interference problems that is causing the joycons (particularly the left one) to lose synchronisation (though I can replicate them if I try, by switching on more devices). Nor have I yet scratched the screen putting the thing into and out of its dock.

That said, there are some design decisions around the Switch that scream "cheap", some which scream "incompetent" and some which scream both. For a relatively pricey piece of hardware, that's not really acceptable. Let's leave aside for the moment the crap Bluetooth transmission from the joycons and the dead pixels; here are some of the smaller quality-of-life issues with the Switch that should not be an issue in 2017:

- The size of the joycon controllers is way too small for the average Western hand (and certainly for a good proportion of adult males). The shape of the thing provides relatively little support to the hand and, whether it is held on its own or in the grip, encourages a cramped hand posture. This is really, really bad for your hands.

- When the unit is used in handheld mode with the joycons attached, the impacts on hand posture are arguably even worse. The device is reasonably large and, while I wouldn't describe it as heavy, nor is it particularly light. Your hands are supporting a noticeable degree of weight here. But the design of the joycons and the manner in which they attach to the main unit means that you end up crabbing your hands if you want to both hold the unit up and reach the control inputs. Unlike the Wii-U Gamepad and the Vita (both of which were by no means perfect in this respect), there is no grip at the back to allow you to distribute some of the weight more evenly around your hands or improve hand posture. It's worst for your right hand, where the location of the right analogue stick at the bottom of the unit means that you are essentially going to end up holding up that end of the unit by "pinching" it near the bottom.

- The layout of buttons on the joycons is terrible. The + and - buttons are located, for some bizarre reason, "above" the analogue sticks. This means you need a large thumb movement to reach them, which is both uncomfortable and likely to result in an accidental button-press or analogue stick input.

- The charging point's location on the bottom of the main unit means that it is awkward to support the weight of the unit on a table while using it in handheld mode. It also means you can't charge it while using the built-in stand.

- The built-in stand is a cheap, nasty and fragile plastic flap, barely capable of staying upright. Many people are already reporting this has snapped off or failed.

- The cartridge slot cover feels flimsy and fragile. I haven't yet seen reports of these snapping off, but I wouldn't be surprised to. The Vita had the same problem here.

- The dock unit you use to connect the thing to the TV has a cheap and nasty plastic feel. There are numerous reports that the version of the dock shipped with retail units is lower than that which was seen on preview units used for demonstrations and sent out for review purposes (though I haven't seen a preview unit myself yet, so cannot confirm this). Certainly, it is a loose and wobbly fit for the console on retail units and there are many reports of the dock scratching the main-unit's screen.

- The process of attaching/detaching the joycons is a bit fiddlier, and requires a bit more force, than had commonly been assumed.

- It is easily possible to put the joycons on the grip unit the wrong way around. What is rather less possible is getting them off again (at least without a very large degree of force) after you've done so.

- The console only ships with one mains charger. When the console is docked, this needs to be routed through the dock. When it's detached, it needs to go into the bottom of the console. Removing the charger from the dock unit requires, for no good reason that anybody can discern, opening a flap on the back of the dock, which is a pain and, depending on positioning, potentially involves tangling in your Big Mess Of Cables behind the TV more than is convenient. It feels like a ploy to sell the "official" extra charger, which is sold with a huge mark-up. People have had mixed results with third party chargers.

In short, there are a huge mass of ergonomic, design and convenience problems with the unit, mostly stemming from problems that everybody else has long since solved by 2017.

The fact that the hardware is being sold at what looks like a large mark-up (with every possible corner cut on cost) implies that contrary to their rhetoric, Nintendo do not expect a significant third-party ecosystem. This is a console targeting direct profit from sales, not the licensing fees that make up a large portion of the income for Sony and MS's gaming divisions (and almost all of Valve's).

Comment Re:waste of money (Score 1) 117

The Gamecube controller was absolutely awful. The right analogue stick was an abortion... a hideous shrivelled nipple which was of no use whatsoever in-game.

I kinda get what they were going for, with the face buttons. Until the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox generation, there tended to be one controller button that was used more than the others, so why not make it bigger. Unfortunately, they did that just as console games were getting more sophisticated and button usage was getting more evenly spread. So they ended up with a godawful controller where accidental button presses were the norm.

Also, the cable was about 3 inches long. They had this weird, fucked up idea that people played console games sat in a ring on the floor around the TV. The cable just wasn't long enough to reach to the average sofa.

I would personally rate the Gamecube controller as one of the worst ever made. The N64 and Dreamcast ones also had their woes, but the Cube one was just nasty.

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