I could just turn the volume up really high and listen through the ceiling.
Yes, it’s another Steam Link post. You see, having had some success with streaming Windows to the Steam Link, I thought I’d have a proper go and making Mac streaming work. And I’ve managed it! Eventually. Apple: “It just works!”. Pff.
Firstly, and not related to the audio issue mentioned in title of this post, I found a small utility to stop my iMac from deciding to go to sleep while playing. As it did. And that was annoying. It’s called Owly, and is free. It sits in the menu bar, and you can click it to disable all sleeping, and click again to enable sleeping. There’s options to prevent sleeping for a certain number of hours or minutes too, in case you’re likely to forget to turn it back on.
Anyway, that was an aside. To the matter at hand!
After setting the Steam Link up to talk to my Mac, and configured for my controller, TV, and so on, I discovered that sound wasn’t being streamed. It’d play in the Steam Link menus and startup screen, but not in Steam itself. Only it was – on the Mac.
I trawled the Steam forums, where the issue comes up a lot, but the solution is always the same: use the Steam Beta and it’ll force some drivers to install on the Mac. Thing is, that was the issue back in 2015 and I’ve done that already.
Turns out, after much fiddling, very easy to fix. If the Steam Link itself is set to use 5.1 audio, or “auto detect”, then sound plays through the Mac. Set it to stereo, and it works. OK, in stereo, but at least that’s something. Mini Metro doesn’t need surround sound anyway.
Still, it means I don’t need to boot into Windows quite so much to play Steam games now.
Did you know? The Nintendo Switch is out soon! All these games will be completely defunct then!
Bioshock Infinite (PC)
Well that was a thing, wasn’t it? I completed it, and wrote a reasonably big thing about it, and you can find that here. With spoilers. In essence, though: “Bioshock Infinite is a great story punctuated with pointless, annoying combat sections.”.
Grow Up (PS4)
I completed this too. It was fun, and definitely a break from Bioshock. It’s more of the same game that Grow Home was, only slightly less good.
Pokémon Go (iOS)
They put new pokeymen in it! Well, new old pokeymen. I caught a lot of them.
Pokémon Sun (3DS)
I tried to play this, but the PokéPelego stepped in every time and defeated me. It takes so long harvesting your berries and swapping your pokeys about in the training isle, and collecting all of the pokébeans, that “a quick go” means busywork and no actual game. Sigh.
Total War: Warhammer (PC)
It’s my first Total War game, and I am not a fan of Warhammer. However, I am a fan of unit management and real-time strategy, and this is just great. I can just ignore the Warhammeryness of it anyway. Only about five battles in so far, and I’m playing as the humans (Empire? I think?). There’s a lot to take in, but it seems to be doing a good job of telling me how to play without lecturing.
A Nintendo Switch. It’s out soon, I hear.
I bought a single month’s Humble Monthly in order to get Total War: Warhammer stupidly cheap. It’ll be a few days before I find out what else I got in the bundle. That was £8.97.
I also got, thanks to Sega’s Make War Not Love giveaways, Steam copies of Shining Force, Alien Storm and Golden Axe II. Free!
And finally, £24.99 went on the incredible Humble Freedom Bundle. Worth it just for The Witness, which I already had. So gave it away. Um.
If you’ve been following me at all over the last ten years or so, you’ll know that I generally don’t play PC (or Mac) computer games. I haven’t done for quite some time. The constant upgrade cycle. The fiddling to get things running as well as possible. Console gaming on the sofa in front of a TV just being better. These all combined to put me off.
On occasion, I’d make an exception. Short games. Games, like Civilisation, that you just can’t play on a console. Indie game oddities I’d picked up cheap on Steam. Over time, through various bargains, the Humble Bundle, and free giveaways, my Steam library has expanded with hundreds (literally) of unplayed games. Many of which I know very little about.
Then, two things happened. I bought a new iMac, and I became aware of – and bought one when it was on offer – Valve’s Steam Link.
Are you not aware of what one is? Then let me explain. The Steam Link is a low powered device that plugs into your TV. It’s not unlike a PlayStation Vita TV, an Apple TV, or a Chromecast. It connects, over your home network, to another computer running Steam, and then using technomancy, displays your Steam games on your TV. You can use a standard controller, such as an Xbox 360 pad, to control your games.
This means you can have a powerful and huge PC in one room, but play the games in another. It’s black magic, and when it works, it works fantastically. When it doesn’t, though…
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made a concerted effort to make my Steam Link work as well as I possibly can 1. Since I had to reinstall Windows 10 anyway, I set it up to try to negate as many issues as I could when playing games remotely. An unobtrusive virus killer, making sure Windows updates are installed well before I start to play, updated graphics drivers, and so on. A cheap unofficial Xbox 360 wireless receiver (which surprisingly works out of the box on a Steam Link) was purchased so my Steam Link box isn’t strewn across the lounge carpet so my wired 360 pad cable can reach.
A New Console
What I essentially have now, is a brand new games console under my TV. A massive library of mostly untouched games ready to go. Not only that, but the graphics card in my iMac is surprisingly capable. I’m not as up on my GPUs as I used to be, but it’s an AMD R9 M395. I can max out Bioshock Infinite and Total War: Warhammer on it, so it should be good for most things for a good few years yet. Especially since my TV is only 720p.
Oh, and I have a wireless keyboard and mouse for those games that need them, in case you’re wondering. It’s rare I’ll play those, however.
Now, it hasn’t been plain sailing getting to this point, and although I’ve been using it mostly without issue for a few weeks now, there are still problems. Last night, for example:
1) Turn on Steam Link 2) Stream from computer 3) Start Bioshock Infinite 4) BSOD 5) Restart 6) Game no longer installed?!
The issue could have been anything. I had to reconnect to my computer (and put in the authorisation code again as if I’d never done it before). Then reinstall Bioshock Infinite. Luckily this didn’t take long – I expect it found most of the files locally in the end. And then be completed baffled as to how, and why, the screenshot button had moved from Home+RB to Home+RT.
I now accept some odd issues, and work round others. This means I can just get on with pretending I have a new console and just play the games previously locked away. When it works, performance is great! I don’t notice any lag, and I don’t have a noisy computer warming the lounge. Hopefully this will continue!
I’ve not mentioned this yet, but it’s part of a drive to spend less on gaming this year. ↩
I got my Steam Link working properly! With a wireless controller and everything! That means it’s almost a new console! Woo!
Lego Dimensions (PS4)
Specifically, the Portal 2 expansion level for it, and the associated hub world that goes with it. It’s pretty good, although very easy to skip large bits of it. Funny though. And I completed it.
It’s Kuru Kuru Kururin, that Game Boy Advance game with a spinning stick in it, only with a rotating limousine driving round a city instead. And FMW video sections at the start and end of each “mission”. And it’s set in 1977. It’s very odd, and the acting is mostly terrible, but somehow it’s also excellent.
Pokémon Sun (3DS)
I completed this just after posting about it last week! I was really that close to the end. The final “boss”, such that it is, almost beat me, but I managed to narrowly defeat them. Since then, I’ve not really played it very much, although I really should.
SteamWorld Heist (3DS)
What I did play some more of, is this. Finished a couple of optional missions, and redid a handful of missions I’d not got all the stars on previously. Still have a few to go from early on in the game, but not many.
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PS4)
I completed this in the week too. It is fantastic. Terrible production values, as expected, and completely over the top, but EDF is always like this. The final level was nuts.
Grow Up (PS4)
This is excellent. It’s basically just the first game, Grow Home, only with a bit less going up into the sky and a bit more horizontality. Yes, that’s a word now. Not sure how far into it I am, as I’m mainly just enjoying climbing and exploring and sometimes stumbling across things to collect, unlock, or play with.
Bioshock Infinite (PC)
The main thing I’m playing via Steam Link right now. It looks incredible – especially since I bumped the graphics up to “ultra”, who knew my iMac could manage that? – but isn’t especially interesting besides that. Yet, anyway. Dishonoured is a better Bioshock Infinite than Bioshock Infinite is so far.
A NINTENDO SWITCH ARE YOU DEAF? Having second thoughts about Zelda though – it’s a 3D Zelda. I don’t like them.
Nothing! Doing well at this positivity lark.
Also nothing! Well, £3.50 on an Xbox 360 controller wireless adaptor thing. Does that count? Probably.
Today, I found two files on my computer from long, long ago (well, 11 years ago anyway). One is called “foreword.doc” and the other is “beginning.doc”. I don’t know why I created them, but I thought I’d publish them here. If you have any ideas exactly what they’re for, please let me know.
Computers are, almost certainly, the most important invention of the last hundred years or so. Yes, you could argue that without machines or calculating devices or electric generators or whatever the computer would have never been born. But that isn’t important.
What is important is they’re here, they rule our lives, and we need them more and more.
Unfortunately, many people are frightened of computers. They don’t understand them as well as the “experts” (who in reality, probably don’t know nearly as much as they tell you), and they all know that computers will, variously, rot your brain, eat your thesis, cause your hands to drop off, and force you to watch hardcore pornography. This is a Fact.
“Computers” is such an all-encompassing term. If someone tells you they “work with computers”, it could mean they’re a programmer. Or it could mean they design websites. Or run a large corporate network. It could even mean they develop new computer hardware, or, conversely, that they work in a bank and spend eight hours a day typing numbers on a keyboard.
Not that people generally tell you they work with computers. This is partly due to the reason above, but it is mainly because people who work with computers are considered nerds or geeks, and nerds and geeks are sad, lonely individuals who spend all of their lives indoors with the curtains drawn, watching Star Wars and discussing the finer points of lightsabre battles with other nerds and geeks on the internet. This is a Fact.
Interestingly, there is (in my mind at least) a distinction between nerds and geeks. In terms of their perceived stereotypes, at least.
Hello and welcome back to the wonderful, pointless world of Alphabest! It’s been a little while, but now it’s time to return. And what a letter to return with!
Actually, there probably isn’t a more underwhelming letter than I on the GameCube. So few games! Even fewer good ones! What a disappointment.
We begin with two games based on The Incredibles (that Pixar film, remember?): The Incredibles, and The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer. As licenced dross, they’re coming nowhere near the good games. Joining them is The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which bucks the trend of licenced games bu actually not being terrible! Unfortunately, it isn’t that great either. Ah well.
More licenced dross includes Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and The Italian Job. The former could never hope to be decent, but the latter could have been so much better. Racing Minis in sewers? Yes please! But not like this of god not like this. Imagine Midtown Madness, only crap. That’s The Italian Job.
And I-Ninja. You all remember I-Ninja, right? Of course you don’t. Especially since it never came out on the GameCube in Europe. One good thing about it, however, is that it initially came with a copy of Pac-Man Vs, which is by far the better game.
Finally, in the “bin” pile, are International Superstar Soccer 2 and 3. Certainly, back then, the football series that essentially became PES was much better than rival behemoth FIFA. Sadly, it’s still football.
Which brings us to the sad realisation that “I” is just:
Intellivision Lives!, which is included here mainly because of the sheer number of games in included, is a compilation of Intellivision games. The Intellivision was like the Atari 2600, only arguably more powerful and with no good games. Making this entry here somewhat pointless. It was no Atari Anthology, to be sure.
Ikaruga is a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up, and one of the very best examples of such a thing ever to exist. Apparently. I mean, I liked it an stuff, although the game it is a followup to – Radiant Silvergun – was better, I thought. Not that I’m a fan of shooters anyway, but both games were something quite different, and have a massive following.
And the Alphabest?
Oh let me guess. Or you guess. Actually, nobody guess because it’s bloody obvious: it’s Ikaruga. Fans of shoot ’em ups absolutely have to have it, and people like me who aren’t absolutely have to try it because it challenges the way such games are played and perceived, not least because of its clever black and white damage and immunity mechanic.
You can see that the GameCube has just one, one, decent game beginning with I.
J next time. Please, let it be a better selection…
Yes, yes. One day I will write about something other than games again. But that day is not today!
SteamWorld Heist (3DS)
Which I have now completed! I will be returning though – it is so very good and I need more hats. And there’s a New Game + of course, and I missed a few stars, so there’s that to rectify too.
Pokémon Sun (3DS)
Which I have reached almost the end of. Solgaleo is mine, the Professor in the Shorts has built his Pokémon League, and I’m about to go in and take them on. Actually, I’m not: I think I’m woefully underpowered so I’ll be levelling up a bit then giving it a go instead. Aiming for a team of varied 65-70 level creatures, and I’ve only two in that region at the moment.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Because of course you go to a wedding to play this. I came second.
Powerstone 2 (DC)
Also at the wedding. I had no idea what was happening but I seemed to win? I think? No, I hadn’t played it before.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (GC)
I got my Steam Link playing GameCube and Dreamcast games last week, so of course I would play this at some point. It is still excellent. I still love it. I still wish Activision would make a THPS1-4 compilation for the 3DS. But they won’t.
Some PSVR Titles (PS4)
Tried two different PSVRs in the same day. They’re like busses or something. Games played included Driveclub VR, Battlezone, and some thing with cute little animals in it that you can’t seem to kick or punch or kill.
NSFW ~ Not A Simulator For Working (PC)
It’s alright I suppose. It’s basically a Boss Key Simulator.