openSuSE Tumbleweed and Leap

It just keeps impressing me fortunately. Every decision they seem to be making lately has kept me interested. They seem to be going for the model I’ve often said that Linux should go for and something I think Windows has had an advantage at. I’m talking about having a stable with security updates base with the very latest in applications.

I’ve often thought that Linux could do this even better with the advantages it is afforded, such as the massive software repositories that most Linux distros have they have means each program doesn’t need to track its own version and means you don’t have to monitor websites and emails for new version reports.

This is what Leap is, the new version they are working on. Leap is going to be mega-stable and based off of their main enterprise Linux.

The disadvantage of this in Linux could be kernel support, so it’ll be interesting to see which way they go with that. The kernel is generally very stable with newer stuff needing a newer kernel to work right as that is what will drive your new laptop’s finicky wifi hardware. So it needs to be pretty up to date, but not so up to date that isn’t reasonably well tested within the framework of the rest of the system. And up-to-date on a SuSE system seems to mean something in a completely different league to up to date in the Ubuntu world. Still, I probably won’t be using it, I’m perfectly happy with the bleeding edge. And I do have a stable version of Linux that I use. When I was with Gentoo I found it useful to occasionally see what the more popular binary distros were up to, as when you are on a rolling distro you can lose track of how stuff works and what new programs have came along.

Like I was trying to figure out how to change the graphical boot for Tumbleweed and I was looking rhgb (RedHat Graphical Boot) only to discover that program had been superceeded years ago and the thing I wanted to know how to configure was called Plymouth instead, and worked at a much lower level and earlier in the boot system.

And would let you play games whilst your computer is booting properly.

Mostly it’s just nice not to have to dick around like I used to need to.

… and from Kubuntu to Tumbleweed

Of course, I never really stop experimenting and openSuSE Tumbleweed had tremendous potential.

Sure enough with Tumbleweed’s bleeding edge, the bug in the video drivers was fixed, which made it more than worth my time to try to find where the hell you get third party packages from. It’s called the Packman repo and once I was a bit more serious about looking for it (having used Fedora back when it was Red Hat Linux, it was much easier to find their non-free stuff as I remembered FreshRPMs) I found it quite quickly in their list of additional repos.

Also I quite like the package manager from Tumbleweed, zypper – although I’m not so keen on the GUI version. However, the upside is that it does actually work, whereas I’m found both Kubuntu’s Muon and Manjaro’s Octopi to be just plain non-functional. Muon doubly so because it is recommended for use in adding repos and doesn’t work for that very purpose. People simply recommend the CLI.

Zypper is lightning fast and dead easy to use, although it took a little getting used to parameters only being relevant to the previous command. zypper -u rm package is not the same as zypper rm -u package.

Problem is I’m used to apt-get and worse, Gentoo’s portage, both of which are better at cleaning up after themselves. For example, with apt-get when you remove a package it will remind you that you have uncleaned dependencies that can be removed with a command, whereas Zypper if you forget to zypper rm -u package will just remove the package and not clean up dependencies. Worse, reinstall the package and remember to -u, and this time the dependencies won’t be cleaned up, they have become part of the system. Like I say, a worse comparison is to Gentoo’s portage which works even better for cleaning up – you have a master list of programs you definitely want on your system and it maintains their dependencies. Remove a package, run a command and its dependencies vanish.

Zypper’s sheer speed trump both however, and so it feels like less a compromise, and more just a different tool with its own advantages and disadvantages.

We’ll see how it goes, but so far I am very impressed. I get the latest packages, it’s actually very stable, and maintenance is not only easy, but very fast.

I have now fully switched from Gentoo to Kubuntu.

For the curious, my reasons:

I wanted to stop spending so much time mending & maintaining.

I wished to switch to KDE – it has improved loads over the years and is way better than GNOME was before it went to shit and is way more featureful and nicer to use than XFCE. Gentoo, despite its bleeding edge reputation, is still on the last version of KDE.

The open source drivers for AMD / ATI cards are fairly good now, and do what I need a little better than the official ones and work with newer kernels.

When they work.

Under Gentoo I could never figure it out. Probably not Gentoo’s fault, they also work badly under OpenSUSE and Fedora too. I can’t use both screens at once, trying makes one lose the signal but the desktop is still using it. Disabling the second screen doesn’t make the first one come back on, just disables the second screen with the first still blank, this persists through a restart. On top of this daft behaviour, Fedora even only displays the login on your first screen – but first screen isn’t defined – in my case it happens to be the off display. Useful. In Ubuntu all that works just dandy.

Both Fedora and OpenSUSE were great choices, but they are also both interested in open source purity – they don’t come with even slightly non-open stuff. Both come with nerfed FFMPEGs, and are thus useless. Fedora has third party stuff, but like I say, couldn’t get the screen working. I didn’t find similar for OpenSUSE, which is a shame because I loved everything else about OpenSUSE – the rolling version was completely stable, yet joyously up to date, much more so than Gentoo, it even has FFMPEG by default over LibAV, which Gentoo came around to as well recently.

Here’s a good comparison point. I use KDEnlive for my non-linear video editing needs. This uses mlt. Older versions of mlt add green tints to things, but that was fixed. OpenSUSE has the most up to date (March 2015) version. Gentoo’s is from June 2, 2013. Ubuntu’s is a little older than OpenSUSE and not the latest, but they have the source package for the most recent, and it’s surprisingly easy to compile and install from their source deb.

It feels pretty strange abandoning Gentoo because of its out of date packages as that’s supposed to be its great strength.

So Kubuntu because:

Latest KDE5 stuff.

Open source graphics drivers that do everything sanely.

Easy to maintain.

Not so terrified of non-completely free stuff that they cripple FFMPEG.

Up to date in general (but especially KDE)

I can put up with having to jump an extra hoop for latest FFMPEG and libAV by default because I have the above.

Silent Hills Future

It wouldn’t surprise me if Kojima left because no-one got that PT is not Silent Hills despite it literally spelling it out in the demo that it wasn’t a demo of Silent Hills.

The logo has been removed from the PT website, as part of a larger debranding; not sure this is news.

I’m disappointed that it’s looking like Kojima is not going to be directing Silent Hills, and as I have often maintained, no, lending the engine would not be enough and even that seems unlikely. However, put this in the hands of any competent team enthusiastic for Silent Hill and give them enough funding and time to get the job done and you can make great Silent Hill games again.

I just wish that were likely, but they’ll probably just farm it off to a ‘barely okay’ game company again.

I still think it would be interesting to give Climax a go on proper hardware.

10k milestone and Call of Cthulhu troubles

It isn’t really very obvious just quite how much effort goes into the Let’s Plays and some more than others. Whether it’s re-subtitling in-game movies for Silent Hill 2, zoom transitions to make Eternal Darkness’ movies appear full screen, or mixing aspect ratios together in Silent Hill 4, we try to make games appear at their best and present them as no-one else does. It is a supreme compliment when people don’t even notice as it means we’ve done a flawless job.

Call of Cthulhu has been one of the hardest LP series to produce.

The game has compatibility issues, that are sadly and misguidedly called bugs. Mostly these relate to Windows 7 not rendering the skybox correctly. This doesn’t generally affect the gameplay, with the major exception of the scene on the deck of a ship where the player must aim the ship’s cannon at some magi on an island in the far distance. This island is part of the skybox with the magi inside it. Obviously not being able to see the skybox makes the section impossible, unless the player happens to know exactly where to shoot, or is prepared to shoot everywhere until it manages to hit the invisible targets. In terms of atmosphere however, the lack of a skybox is quite detrimental. Features which are supposed to blend nicely into the distance now don’t as the skybox’s dampening effect is absent so the distance is a stark white and everything renders stark against it instead of the obfuscating fog effect you should get. Water effects just stop after a certain distance and things generally just don’t look like they were intended to. On youtube, this means that since pretty much every walkthrough and Let’s Play of the game is wrong – to the point where people simply assume that the game is poorly done, or, more insidiously, is just supposed to look like that.

It is for these reasons that we are playing the game on a Windows XP box. The PC port of the game also uses some XBox (the platform the game was originally published on) effects that are not replicated when playing on non-Nvidia hardware. So this is not being played on the current PC (the one built for gaming and rendering), but on the older PC. This PC is now my son’s main PC and so is only really available when he retires for the night.

Basically, we can only play on Call of Cthulhu when the stars are right.

Last time we tried to record was a more serious issue though, as whenever we hit the record button the game would drop to 1fps and be basically unplayable. After much clearing of hard-drives (and gnashing of teeth), we eventually discovered that it was the Windows XP OS itself which wouldn’t allow the hard drive to get properly … done (whether the issue was formatting or partitioning, we aren’t certain).

Turns out Linux is better at partitioning and formatting a drive to NTFS so that Windows XP can use it than … Windows XP.

There is a reason why Windows XP is obsolete.

Now we can record again, thank goodness.

The other news is that we’ve hit a youtube milestone. 10k views on one video. This is the FRAPs darkness problem solution. Which doesn’t really work anymore, but gives enough information to figure out what’s wrong yourself. I actually don’t like it because it doesn’t work anymore, and the method it uses is incompatible with Sony Vegas which seems to be what a large number of video guys use. Of course, Sony Vegas is incompatible with most input formats and is one of the reasons I don’t use Vegas. It also annoys me that it’s so popular when the LPs are comparatively unviewed.

I suspect when we eventually get around to publishing our video production methodology, it’ll be hopefully as well viewed.

About

Peter has played a lot of games over the years.

He made this website due to an exasperation with traditional videogame reporting and reviewing, reiterating what they’ve read on Kotaku and 4chan making almost all game reporting painfully generic.

This is Peter’s answer.

Born in 1981, Peter lives with his son, a cat, and a girlfriend. He has a degree in Computing and Networks.

Michaela is a twenty something cephalopod, or a 25 year old English chick with too much time on her hands.

She reviews video games, and likes tea, cats and cute things.

She enjoys reading, writing, drinking tea, and  video games, particularly story driven ones, or horror.

Michaela is the owner of StudiousOctopus.

Life is Strange

So we’ve played all of the first episode of Life is Strange. That’s all of Chrysalis.

We checked and the parts are not named the same as the AIs from Peacewalker. Sadface.

However, I can safely say that despite the obvious flaws, the most immediately noticeable being the terrible lip-syncing much like the last game of theirs, Remember Me (I actually thought the doctor’s faces in the opening were masks because they didn’t move at all), that I’m liking it. Other flaws are some of the absolutely terrible dialogue – it does have a sort of fake-retro 90s that didn’t exist likeable-ness to them, but is often painful rather than fun, especially the almost constant name-dropping in the opening to the point where you will probably feel like telling Max to just shut up. And Victoria. And Jefferson. And all of  the other classmates’ names I’m more sketchy on; I felt the game introduced too many characters early on. I’m still calling the missing girl “Laura Palmer” for the obvious Twin Peaks reasons.

However once you progress past that and get used to some of the other irritations the episode really starts to redeem itself, finishing with a scene where two former best friends rediscover each other after many years absence.

Here’s to hoping the rest of the game skips the problems the opening of this episode have. The next episode from the preview in this one is going to have a sequence involving a train. You know, like in Twin Peaks. It’s also lovely to have a game with the illusive female protagonist – like Remember Me did. Let’s also hope the game doesn’t stoop to Queer Baiting

Life is Strange, postponements

So it turns out that Life is Strange will not in fact be presented in 1080p @ 60fps as the HD PVR 2 doesn’t support that, and a higher resolution is more important than a higher framerate in this case. In fact, I can even hear myself hovering over the check out button on the vendor’s website saying, “well, that doesn’t matter, it’s not like Youtube even supports 60fps anyway”.

Yeah.

On the other hand, we’ll still be doing the PS4 version at a much higher quality level and resolution than the internal recorder can manage. We’re talking 1080 @ 14Mbs compared to the internal 720 @ 8Mbs. And no, you don’t need double the bitrate to compensate for double the resolution, so that’s higher resolution and higher quality. Still a bit sad though, as I do totally think that 60 fps is absolutely worth it. I’m actually surprised at the quality we do get, as it’s a lot better than what I was expecting due to the HDMI cable. Last time we used the HD PVR 2, we were using the component cable, and wow, no, the image quality is not on the same level despite what years of XBox 360 dominance claimed.

Scheduling-wise we have Call of Cthulhu and Sam & Max episodes already produced and uploaded to the channel. You know, you can always check if we’ve got more coming by checking out the playlists. We upload and queue videos as soon as we’ve got them up, scheduled, tagged, etc. In the interest of getting the next Life is Strange episode out promptly we’ll probably put off actually publishing Call of Cthulhu and Sam & Max so the first set of Life is Strange is out before the second set comes out from the developers, giving us a chance to play and get it out quickly. We figure since Call of Cthulhu is already 11 years late a few weeks shouldn’t make much difference, but we’re sorry if you’re waiting for it, but fear not; it will come out.

More Call of Cthulhu soon

Not to worry, we have managed to get more Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth recorded, and we should have those videos up reasonably soon. We’re also going to have some new Sam & Max episodes, this time part three of Beyond Time and Space – Night of the Raving Dead.

The more I think about it, the more I think we do want to play Life is Strange – but not for the most positive reason really. We want to play it because we keep reading people saying how relatable and realistic it is, and the advertising surrounding the game claims that they’re trying to revolutionise choice in games, but well, we can’t see a massive difference between it and Mass Effect’s paragon / renegade system with two unrealistic choices in opposition. So it may well become the third game in our new Mon/Wed/Fri release schedule, but we’re hoping that this schedule is a temporary measure until we get a little more free time to resume recording daily videos for your viewing pleasures.

And we would have something to offer, we do have the technology and I think the game is in 60fps which we can handle. I would be playing the PS4 version too, not sure the game works well on keyboard & mouse.

Moving back to 3/7 publishing schedule

The website is back up and being worked on, but things have been going slowly. Both the website and the channel are having to take second fiddle to Peter going back to college, this means he is both working full-time and attending college part-time and so we have less time to work together to produce the content. Really, this website was supposed to be up and populated with some of the older articles by now, but due to experimenting with some other software it didn’t work out like that and it didn’t get completed before life suddenly got busier.

Once the daily set of videos has finished (Call of Cthulhu Part 32 on Feb 7th) we’ll be moving to a different publishing schedule. I’m not sure if it’ll involve the same games or if we’ll have to take a break from recording PC games. We had to move one of the drives to a different PC just for Call of Cthulhu for reasons we’ll go into when we eventually build a sub site for Call of Cthulhu, so recording the massive files we use for PC recording is likely out, and we’ll have to concentrate on the much smaller files generated by recording with a Hauppauge from a console.

We have put off recording Calling for a while.