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ConnectiCon 2014 Wrap Up July 30, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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This year’s ConnectiCon was quite a ride.  Maniac and Princess Angel were fortunate enough to attend this year’s show, and report on a lot of the event straight from the show.  In fact, we had to shoot a forty minute video just to detail our experiences at the event!  In it, Maniac talks about the panels we saw, the celebrities we interviewed, and the events we witnessed.  You never know, he may tell a story about a well known show that you had never heard before.

Special thanks to the ConnectiCon organizers for inviting us to the event and for letting us bring you all this fantastic ConnectiCon content to the site!

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The Last of Us: Remastered Unboxing July 29, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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Well, right after the flood of all the news coming out for The Last of Us: Remastered, we’ve got one more video for you.  As you may know, the game has been released today, and we picked up a copy of the game for ourselves.  If you’re planning to pick up the game at retail, here’s a good look at what is inside the game’s box.  I’ll let you judge for yourselves if it’s worth the $49.99 US price tag.

The Last of Us: Remastered is out now exclusively on the Playstation 4.

The Last of Us: Remastered – When Joel Met Ellie Interview July 29, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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A year after the original release of The Last of Us on the Playstation 3, Sony got the two lead actors from the game, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, together again for a candid interview in anticipation of the release of The Last of Us: Remastered on the Playstation 4.  In the interview, they talk about practically everything they had to go through to get the roles of Joel and Ellie and how they worked together during the game’s development.  It’s a great interview and you can tell there’s a great friendship between these two actors.  If you’re a fan of the game, or just really looking forward to picking up the PS4 version later today, give it a watch.

The Last of Us: Remastered is out now exclusively on the Playstation 4.

The Last of Us: Remastered Launch Trailer July 29, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Those of you who watched the live feed from The Last of Us: One Night Only might have caught this video after the conclusion of the event.  For those of you who didn’t, here is the official launch trailer for The Last of Us: Remastered.

The Last of Us: Remastered is out now exclusively on the Playstation 4.

Playstation 4 System Update 1.75 Released July 29, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Just in time for the release of The Last of Us: Remastered, Sony has released a new system update for the Playstation 4. The biggest feature of the new update, version 1.75, is that it adds 3D Blu Ray Disc support to the PS4. Also included with the update is a feature originally promised at the PS4’s announcement, an automatic download feature for selected content the PS4 predicts you might be interested in purchasing in the future.

The new update is required for access to the Playstation Network.

The Last of Us: One Night Only Live July 28, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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For those of you who want to see a live performance of selected scenes from the Playstation hit The Last of Us have I got a great announcement for you.

In less than thirty minutes, Sony will be streaming a real world performance of selected scenes from the game by the game’s original actors live from Santa Monica.

One night only. Fortunately while the event has sold out, the event is being streamed on the Official Playstation Twitch.Tv Channel. Click the link right now. The channel is live, the countdown has started. The show should begin at 10pm EST.

UPDATE: The show has ended. For those of you who missed the show, here’s a recording of the event. Enjoy!

Halo: Nightfall San Diego Comic Con 2014 Panel July 27, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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For those of you unable to attend this year’s SDCC, here’s a panel you might have missed. Microsoft and 343 Industries are preparing an all new Halo Miniseries to be released through the new Xbox Video service and SDCC attendees got an early look at it. Here’s a video of the entire Halo: Nightfall panel.

Halo: Nightfall is coming with Halo: The Master Chief Collection this November. It will also be released through the Xbox Video service.

Halo 2 Anniversary San Diego Comic Con Cinematic Trailer July 25, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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It’s been ten years since the release of my favorite game in the Halo franchise, Halo 2.  To celebrate its inclusion with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the game is getting a complete face lift on par with the enhancements the first Halo game received for the Xbox 360 game, Halo: Anniversary in 2011.  Just how good is this game going to look?  Take a look at some of the game’s cinematics, redone by the people at Blur Studios.

It feels like 2004 all over again.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is coming November 2014 exclusively to the Xbox One.

The Problem With BitTorrent July 25, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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In the original design of the internet, data of all types can be hosted on a server, and when a user accesses that server from their computer (called a “Client”), they can retrieve all the data they need from that server. In the case of video files, the client will copy those files from the server as the server sends that data through the internet. The transfer speed for any type of file online is limited by the top speeds of the Client and the Server at the time of transfer, and either the limitations of the Client’s top internet speed or the sheer amount of users accessing information from the server could affect the speed of the client’s download.  However, due to the existence of an inexpensive high-speed internet infrastructure for servers to be hosted on, internet speeds typically would only be limited by what the client’s connection would support, and at the time most clients were still stuck with abysmal dial-up modem speeds. By the time the world hit a wider adoption of high-speed internet connections through cable, satellite, and DSL, speeds improved and large downloads finally became practical.  However, hosting large files on webservers was still an issue.  Server ISPs charged by the server’s upload activity, and a lot of users hosting private web servers were wary of high popularity.  Hosting something like a fan film, if it took off, was an expensive proposition.  Before the turn of the millennium, some very smart web programmers asked themselves if there was a better way to share content.    Did we really need to have a client/server interface or could something else be arranged?  Why didn’t clients just openly share data amongst each other?  Those questions birthed a new protocol that would become known as Peer to Peer (P2P).  In the early 2000s, the P2P protocol saw popularity among college students who could share data quickly on the high-speed local networks their colleges provided them, but it had its limitations.  In 2001, Bram Cohen thought he could improve on the P2P protocol and created BitTorrent.

In 2005 I had the pleasure of to watch a wonderful independently produced documentary on Halo fandom. It was released before YouTube and other HTML based streaming content providers took over the internet, so if you wanted to view video content you would typically have to download the entire video file to your PC’s Hard Drive.  The host who was providing the documentary was using a new protocol that was seeing a huge degree of popularity online called BitTorrent, and if I wanted to watch the documentary I would need to install the BitTorrent program to my PC and set it to download the file.  I downloaded an installer and completed the program’s installation, after which I was greeted by a plea from the protocol’s creator asking me for money. In the installer’s plea, the BitTorrent creator explained that he had no job or any other source of income except from donations from BitTorrent users. While I wouldn’t call this panhandling I did think this was a little suspicious. I mean, wasn’t this guy hired by Valve Software shortly after creating BitTorrent? He must’ve impressed someone, because Valve is one of the most successful privately held companies in the world, and that is not an easy job to get. I think he had left Valve by the time I had first installed the program, so his message about being unemployed was technically valid at the time.  Apparently he must’ve preferred being unemployed and asking for donations from total strangers rather than drawing a stable salary from a successful software company. There must have been something to that, as he has formed his own company around BitTorrent a few years ago.  While this may sound like a great story about the wonders of capitalism at face value, I cannot help but wonder if he had kept the job he earned at Valve, would he still need to ask people for money in his program’s installer?

After that negative experience with the installer completed, I connected to the seed hosting the documentary and hoped to download the video quickly on my brand new high speed internet service.  Sadly, it was not to be.  While I was able to eventually download the film, the experience downloading it was just horrible.  I had just come from spending nearly ten years stuck on an abysmal dial-up connection as all the high-speed providers refused to service my area until 2004.  When I finally installed high-speed internet to my home, my download speeds jumped from 2.9Kb/s to speeds hundreds of times faster.  Now, downloading this BitTorrent file, I felt like I was back on dial-up speeds.  My connection speed to the users hosting portions of the film was abysmal.  I was typically getting the same download speeds I would have gotten had I kept my dial-up service.  I would even go long stretches of time where my computer was unable to download the file at all because BitTorrent could not find any connections to users hosting portions of the documentary I hadn’t already received. What I would have normally downloaded in less than an hour took several.  After the experience had left me with a bad taste in my mouth, all I could think was, “I cannot for the life of me understand how a protocol like BitTorrent is as popular as it is.”

So why did I have such a bad experience?  First off, why was the protocol downloading the file so slowly?  I looked closely at how it was designed to work and concluded its entire premise is based on a flawed understanding of what its users should be willing to do.  Users who seed BitTorrent traffic are spreading out their bandwidth among multiple users at the same time, which by default could be as many as ten to twelve.  When a stable connection is established with the other peer, it’s literally at the lowest speed the uploader’s connection will allow.  Sure a user could change their upload settings manually to support just one or two users at a time to improve their upload bandwidth, but web servers are capable of hundreds of simultaneous connections without flinching.  You don’t have the benefit of millions of users connected to a single download when you’re sharing less popular files.  Most users, if they even allow someone to download from them at all, will typically not adjust their upload settings, and for the users who are lucky enough to get a decent speed when connected to another user, there’s no way to predict how long that other client with a decent upload speed will stay online. A few minutes? A few hours? Data is transmitted with file sizes in the GBs nowadays, and some users could spend days waiting for their downloads to complete. Sure, logging into a user with a decent connection for a few minutes could save a downloader several hours of download time, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be connected to a user with a decent connection for very long, and when they eventually log off you’re back to abysmal download speeds.  When I wrote on a message board about my issues with download speeds I was told I should be forwarding my ports so that my router would allow direct connection for several ports BitTorrent used, essentially punching holes in my firewall. For security purposes, I don’t forward my ports for any thing and in today’s day and age routers are smart enough to adjust traffic without the need of a user overriding their port controls.  I can typically host game servers from behind a firewall without needing to change my router’s settings manually, if BitTorrent can’t work well simply because its user has a router, then that’s another serious flaw.

Speed and security aside, here’s the biggest flaw with the service.  It makes the assumption that users will stay connected to the seed after they finished their download. The seed cannot transmit data its users don’t have,  so if everyone with a complete version of the file leaves the seed the seed could become useless, wasting the time of anyone currently connected to it and wasting the time of any new users expecting to download a complete file.   The seed does not shut down or terminate in the event it does not have at least a single a user logged in with a complete file connected to the service.  In all, it becomes a waste of time and bandwidth for everyone logged into it.  Nowadays, with ISPs everywhere forcing arbitrary data caps (with tiered plans on the way) that limit how much data a user can upload as well as download, do you honestly think a user would be as willing to keep the protocol active after they’ve received all the content they requested?

I can’t in good consience endorse such a flawed service, nor do I plan to use it ever again. I can assure you I was heavily disappointed that the service which had done so badly for me was being widely adopted by reputable companies who could have done better themselves.  As the Server/Client interface has shown itself to be a superior method for interacting online, BitTorrent will likely be looked back upon as an odd little experiment during the overall development of the internet.  BitTorrent relies on sophisticated users for the protocol to work well, and without them it falls apart.  While I do believe that P2P has possible uses for the future, the BitTorrent protocol is not the right way to go.  Hopefully in the future, someone will be able to see a better way.  If you do, you might end up getting featured here some day.

The Last of Us: Remastered Photo Mode Trailer July 25, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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In anticipation for the release of The Last of Us: Remastered on the PS4 next week, Sony and Naughty Dog have released this trailer during San Diego Comic Con showing off the game’s new photo mode.  It’s a pretty detailed video which gives explicit instructions on how Photo Mode works, its limitations, and how you can use it to share your photos.

The Last of Us: Remastered is coming July 29th, 2014 exclusively to the Playstation 4.

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