Keyboard Reviews

I have an IBM Model M, but it is out for the count right now, and needs, probably a new membrane and so probably a bolt mod etc.

In the meantime, I need something to type on. I bought some keyboards to try. Actually, first of all I bought a cheap spare – the Logitech K120 due to its reputation for being quiet. This is useful for doing LP videos for those games that require a keyboard. I would also need a keyboard I can get some typing done on to serve me in the meantime.

I bought three keyboards.

Filco Majestouch-2 – £120
Cherry G80 – £82.80
Unicomp Classic – £100

Filco Majestouch-2

Mine is a full sized keyboard and comes with blue Cherry switches.

First thing you’ll probably notice about the keyboard is the weight. Despite being one of those modern slim designs that has the case carefully cropped around the keys in a perfect slim rectangle it has a massive heft. This is because of the metal backplate on the keyboard. It is heftier than the other two keyboards I have, although doesn’t weigh more than the admittedly much larger Model M. Another nice feature is a backwards pointing cable with one of those rubber chunks on the end to stop damage to the cabling. The cable is dead center, which I’m not too keen on, but is not a big deal, and maybe even be preferred by some. It is also incredibly neat and well defined, much more so than the other keyboards which felt unfinished in their own right, but incredibly so in comparison to this one, which has a sublimely polished finish. It is also boxed in a more commercial way, whereas the other two keyboards came in plain brown boxes, the Filco arrived in a glossy colourful box, albeit one understated in comparison to an all-singing, all-dancing ‘gaming’ model, and is understated too with smaller and slightly italicised keycaps in a modern font. I don’t like the fact that the lettering on the keys is slightly raised, as I suspect this will wear eventually. Another downside is the lack of a proper vertical curve that I expect, although I’m sure most people wouldn’t even notice, but if it feels off, that might be why. Especially when doing something like alt-tab that has an oblique angle.

The switches themselves are fine and also polished in much the same way as the plastic is, with a flawless carried sound, and the backplate gives you something solid to hit keys against when you bottom out. The blues supply more than enough resistance whilst still feeling light. It’s a good feeling and the sound is consistent around the whole keyboard. N-key rollover didn’t really make a difference to me, and the keys feel a little smooshy when gaming, but overall, this is a damn fine keyboard, as to be honest, I’m expecting them all to be at this price range. This is definitely the nicest looking of the bunch and just is immaculately finished. Even to the point of having a slightly mottled texture on the keys, which is stronger on the spacebar for grip. The keys do feel a little thin compared to the other keyboards here.

The feet were nicely rubberised and seemed fairly robust, but personally I hate rubberised feet. Comfortable computer use is paramount, especially for those of us who suffer from RSI, having rubberised feet just makes it more awkward to shift position to stay comfortable.

Cherry G80

The Cherry G80 is by the same company that makes the switches.

This is the lightest of the bunch, but does rather look the part. It is very light and uncomplicated, but inside has the exact same Cherry Blues that are also inside the much nicer looking, considerably more expensive Filco board. It doesn’t have a pull-safe cable and feels unfinished compared to the Filco. On the other hand it has its own charm, being friendly lettered, and with that curve that I like, with the cable sensibly off to one side. A cute little thing is that the Control keys actually say “Control”.

However, the typing action is simply less consistent and less nice than the Filco, it’s louder and I can feel a reverb that isn’t there on the metal backplated Filco board. I can also feel my error ratio going through the roof in comparison to the Filco. I just wouldn’t recommend this board over others. I was actually quite shocked that the same switches could feel so vastly different. The difference between the Filco and Cherry is vast, and not at all explained by the price, the Filco is nice, but is roughly in the same class as the Unicomp, but the G80 does not feel like £80-worth of keyboard.


Unicomp Classic Keyboard

Here we have a Unicomp keyboard with a clear lineage going all the way back to the Model M. It’s weighty, but less so than the Majestouch-2. Once you get over the fact that it looks a little messy and the plastics are no-where near the high grade plastic on the nigh-indestructible Model M, you still have the buckling spring keyboard – if not a fantastic example of it. As expected of a board from that lineage, it is an absolute joy to type on. There is no smooshiness, and if you have typed a key, you damn well know that you have typed it. It is reassuringly loud and sounds a little machine gunny, but in a very pleasant way. The cable is by the side, but does unfortunately point down, and has none of the perfect polish of either the Filco or the Model M. Gaps between keys are uneven and some of the key edges are a little jaggy. Pressing around on the case makes an unpleasant creak (to an extent the Model M does too, due to design, the modern Filco is completely solid by comparison). To me the Unicomp is the one that feels the most right, but a curious thing happened once I moved from the Filco to the Unicomp, I made a couple of extra errors when typing. Curious. Once again I do blame the cheaper plastics, as I suspect the lack of rigidity in the board makes it feel ‘off’ and then causes less confident typing. Obviously getting used to the keyboard would mitigate that a bit over time, as it would on any board, really.

A big advantage that the Unicomp has over the more expensive Filco is that the keycaps on the Unicomp will not wear, using the same method as the Model M, the keycap lettering is embedded into the plastic so no worn-off letters, and the plastic is still higher grade than most other boards, feeling oodles more solid and wear resistant, the Filco’s keys feeling thin and barely there by comparison. I also much prefer the non-rubberised and more sturdy feet of the Unicomp.


The main thing that annoys me about the Filco isn’t really the Filco’s fault. It’s people’s advice about key switches. The Blues are always advised as the choice for typing, with people recommending others for gaming, but I see no such divide perhaps except for noise. I game with a buckling spring keyboard and I see absolutely no reason to not except for when I’m recording LP videos. However I think blues aren’t very suited to gaming and perhaps to light typists as well. Which reminds me of an aside I wanted to make.

Touch Typing

Touch typing is when you can type by touch, where you know where all the keys are by feel and don’t need to look at the keyboard constantly to hit the right keys and know which keys are where.

And that is all it means. Wikipedia goes on to say that Touch typing typically involves placing the eight fingers in a horizontal row along the middle of the keyboard (the home row) and having them reach for other keys. Which is nonsense, almost every typist uses their own method, who has formal typing training these days? But anyway, yes, touch typing is emphatically not using a formal typing method, touch typing is not using each finger evenly as you type, touch typing is not typing fast, Wikipedia cites the famous study showing that informal typing styles people have self-developed are just as effective as the formal style. And touch typing is most definitely not typing so lightly that you don’t bottom out the keys when you type. Typing fast always involves a trade-off between accuracy and speed, and making sure you press the keys hard enough to actuate at 50g of force, but not enough to bottom out at 60g is a bizarre myth that keyboard enthusiasts spread. I have literally never encountered a single fast typist who doesn’t bottom out the keys. Although I’m sure there must be one somewhere just to be the exception.

Back to Conclusion

So the reason blues aren’t suited to gaming but buckling springs work is that buckling springs have a reset point at the actuation point, by which I mean the way to repeat the character is to make the spring buckle again, by lifting it and pressing it again. Every time you hear a click, you’ve typed a character. But with a Cherry Blue, the reset point is above the actuation point, so you can re-press a key without hearing / feeling the click. To me this rather defeats the purpose of the audio feedback. So the advice I got was to use Blues and avoid Browns. However, with Browns the actuation point and reset points are very much the same. With the blues trying to quickly double-tap feels very off, but for most typing they’re fine, and the implementation of Blues on the Filco is second to none. I’m eager to try some Browns, so I’ve ordered a second Filco to see if this fixes my problem with it. As well as getting a version that keeps the key lettering on the front to mitigate wearing off the keycaps. With those concerns out of the way, the Filco has the potential to outshine the Unicomp. But we’ll see when I get the Brown-switched version.


The keyboard I bought in addition to try out was the US layout (I’m actually more used to the US layout – wish I could buy a Unicomp in US without resorting to importing) brown-switched Ninja version of the Majestouch-2. The Ninja version is interesting for two things, you can either get completely blank keycaps or you can get keycaps which are front-printed. I went for the front-printed keys. The other interesting thing is that the keys themselves are actually nicer and thicker than the thin-feeling standard keys on the unsubtitled Majestouch-2. If you don’t find the lack of labelled keycaps too weird / distracting, I’d say go for them. I was certainly right about the brown key switches in terms of niceness with regards to having an actuation and reset point very close together. It means you always know when a keypress has occurred. However, I found myself getting a higher rate of accidental keystrokes because the force needed to actuate the keys was just too low. Higher tension switches would of course mitigate that, but you simply can’t buy keyboards with the more exotic switch types in them here. You pretty much need to build your own and that can be prohibitively expensive.

After all that, I’m sticking with the typing action of the Unicomp which for £20 less than the Filco has much nicer keys and dye sublimated keys so they’ll basically never wear at all. However, were I able to buy a Filco with higher tension brown-type switches for quiet, or better yet, capacitive buckling spring for sheer typing pleasure I’d go for one in a heartbeat.

Photography by Studious Octopus.

Twitch Streaming / Channel News

With all three series of games we’re currently playing on YouTube, we can sort of see an ending in sight for all of them. We had a very productive super-session of recording at the beginning of the year and we generated enough material to last for a good long while so we could take a more relaxed approach, work on the website etc.

Some of that went better than other bits, but anyway. What we have realised is that means we will get through about six games a year in this format we have right now. We want to do more, but we’re not interested in doing more games to the standard that we have our LP stuff at. Instead, we’ll be taking a more relaxed approach to play more games and do games in only a very few longer parts. This also means that games which set the scene for other games in the same series can be done without doing those titles in the LP format letting us showcase the titles that really shine in the LP format, whilst also playing the games more suited to streaming as, well, streams. These streams can then be uploaded to the YouTube channel.

So yes, the news is that we’ll be streaming. Very soon. And we’ll likely be streaming Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, which is perfect for streaming due to its length and so we can get the juicy Soul Reaver LP all the sooner.

Feel free to check us out on and follow, you can also see some stream testing there.

SOMA contains PS4 controller graphics in the PC version

Want to use your lovely PS4 controller on your PC version of SOMA?

People often don’t realise, but the PS4 controller is perfectly happy under Windows and works out of the box as a DirectInput controller requiring no drivers to work as a PC controller. Although sadly, the headset port and touchpad do nothing.

However, if you’re used to PS4 button mappings and placements then you’ll know how awkward it is to play a game with only XBox controller mappings available (this is pretty much every PC game with controller support), especially when it tells you to press ‘X’ which is of course in a different place on the PS4 pad, in fact it seems to shift about on pads quite a lot.

Luckily, SOMA actually contains all of the icons from the PS4 controller, right in SOMA/graphics/general/input. You can take the icons you like from the ps4 folder and copy them over the relevant x360 folder icons and when you start the game, you’ll get in-game prompts that have the right icon that matches the controller in your hand.


Now you can play SOMA on the PC with a PS4 controller and have it come up with the right icons.

However, there are several places on the title screen with the same. I’m sure all these could be found and perhaps even a plug-in made which will show all the right mappings, as they do seem to exist in the PC copy.

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.


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.