Holy Bot

······ Formerly known as Pälsen's Camp ······

Music Production. Gaming. Random Shit.

Joining the Losing Team

In most PvP first person shooters there’s this mechanic that every so often place you on the losing team. Especially if you’re playing with three or more friends in a squad.

That has to do with more player slots being free on the losing team due to a high quit frequency on that team before you join. The game’s matchmaking is then trying to balance the teams by filling up the empty slots.

This is very annoying and discouraging.

Still, I don’t really see how it could be fixed; not being able to join matches in progress would have you waiting a thousand years.

The problem is that noobs quit when their team is losing.

And I’m no better. If I’m playing on a team that loses three matches in a row by 600 tickets or so (Conquest in Battlefield), I would rather quit and scan for another server than to play on. That’s wrong but also some form of self-preservation.

To lose a few matches in multiplayer is of course fine. Reasons could simply be you and your team being properly pwned for sucking. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

It’s just that joining a losing match in progress isn’t that fun. And this is much more common than joining the winning team. Actually, one could argue that this situation is in the nature of PvP – helping your team to turn the tide. Although I doubt the average and casual player is that noble to willingly join a bad team to do so.

Correction of Audio Quality

Here’s an update, or a rethink, of an old post that claimed that a high-resolution sample rate is better for audio quality.

Well, it’s wrong.

192 kHz digital music files offer no advantages over 48 kHz. Sampling rates over 48 kHz have some nasty side effects, like ultrasonics that cause intermodulation distortion. You still get all the fidelity benefits – smooth frequency response, low aliasing – at the 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz rates.

But do go ahead and set your music project to 24-bit. Though 24-bit is irrelevant to playback, this bit depth does offer a larger dynamic range, is useful for multiple processing in series, headroom and noise floor. 16-bit linear PCM audio doesn’t cover the entire theoretical dynamic range.

It’s useless to distribute music as 24-bit (remember the dynamic range of most types of music is usually less than 12 dB). But nowadays most players can handle 24-bit files, and they don’t harm fidelity. Therefore it’s possible to skip dither solutions to reduce your music project to fit distribution at 16-bit files.

Destiny: Fight the Good Fight

When I first got Destiny I wasn’t sure about many things. I didn’t know whom the Traveler was or what the Darkness was, but I was eager to learn. I was ready for a new epic AAA game to suck me in. Hell, I was starving for any new next-gen game.

Unfortunately I still don’t know about neither the Traveler nor the Darkness. The Traveler could be a philosophy, a technology or that giant sphere hovering over the Tower. It seems to have some self-proclaimed protectors called the Guardians. But why, what their relationship is and how the Traveler is communicating with them – is still not known to me. (Well theres this Light, something like the Jedi force of Star Wars, but I dont really know.)

There are three different playable species: Human, Exo and Awoken. It doesn’t matter what you chose, they pretty much play the same. In the beginning of the story, your assistant drone called Ghost, re-activates you from being dead. It says much has changed since you were alive, and that’s that.

There’s no story arc to build a narrative or dramaturgy. You live your second life like it was your first, no questions asked – and still nothing’s clear why you do anything at all.

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Anyway, you fight your way to the Tower – which is a lifeless hub where you can do almost nothing – and then the game starts. Or had it already started? (I’m now on level 20 and still waiting for something to happen.)

There’s this mysterious Stranger that appears a few time during the story, but nothing is revealed about her, and she still seems strange to me.

And who the hell is Rasputin? An AI? What is its legacy, how do we benefit from it?

In a cutscene, halfway through the game, the Awoken are conspiring against you, saying something like: why reveal our true purpose, well by the end of the campaign story this is still a secret.

The Vex is so evil it despises other evil – very cliché, but this doesn’t bring anything in terms of storytelling or even harder enemies. It’s all for nothing.

Who to Fight

In brief, I don’t get the story. I think the mythology is weak and there are no motives for doing shit, and all shit works the same way: go to a planet kill aliens, headshot a boss, hijack a network, find coordinates for a new location, repeat.

And the world of Destiny is small, only a handful of planets and moons. It’s a world where nothing ever happens. A pseudo-sandbox game with nothing to do in it. And stay long enough at one place and the enemies will spawn forever like life means nothing at all.

You fight the Fallen and the Hive, Cabal and Vex, and sometimes they fight each other. You fight with friends and random players online, and sometimes you fight solo. You fight without a cause.

Fighting with friends is fun for a bit, but usually ends up in competing over kills, and steal kills your friends will.

Game Presentation and Mechanics

The soundtrack sucks. Sometimes it’s generic cinematic scores but with unmatched styles, and during boss fights the game pumps some awful industrial rock.

The voice acting is really the worst I’ve heard, even though Bungie claims to have rework the much mocked Peter Dinklage recording on the public alpha release.

But on the better side of things, Destiny looks good, that is, if you like non-realistic, heavy saturated matte paintings with sci-fi fantasy touch; you look like Boba Fett, riding an Imperial Speeder Bike at dawn.

Also the game mechanics works great. This is a first person shooter that, in this case, feels good to play. But with only one thing to do: shoot everything that moves.

Verdict: this game had potential once (read: on alpha) but has been abused and badly misconducted. It constitutes a good FPS platform or even as a MMO, but is a just hollow shell.

Some Thoughts on Reason 8

Where’s Propellerhead at? The company wanna help musicians make more and better music – “this goal defines us”, it says. True, that’s honorable and ambitious but is Propellerhead on the right path?

The Reason 8 upgrade ships on September 30th and brings, ehum, a new browser and drag and drop support. I’m not convinced, to say the least. Come on now, this is an insignificant achievement in comparison, and in these days of responsive user interfaces.

Then we got Propellerhead’s app Take. For real? It’s just redundant and I just can’t see the need of such for anyone.

The recent in-house racks, A-List Acoustic Guitarist and A-List Electric Guitarist – Power Chords, address to whom? One could argue that earlier racks have been tailored first of all to beatmakers, singers, sound designers. Not to mention the focus on the experimentalists with Reason’s whole modular core design of tweaking one’s own audio signal paths. But these A-List racks? I dunno… And as an electronic musician I’m neither interested in pre-fab guitars nor sounding like undistinguished commercial radio hits. Moreover, I believe real guitarists would rather record their own shit, and then layer and comp takes in the sequencer.

So what’s going on? Is this Propellerhead shifting from professional to consumer (much like Apple did with Final Cut Pro X). I might be wrong, I hope I’m wrong.

Except for a few flaws – like inability to customize shortcuts and program macros – Reason 7 has been a great DAW with its relatively versatile set of rack extensions.

It seems to me that, what we see now is Propellerhead lacking of real innovative ideas to push things further.

Greatness Awaits, I Hope

Today it’s nine months since PlayStation 4 was launched in North America.

Right off the bat, I got Call of Duty: Ghosts. Then Battlefield 4. And eventually, by the end of May, Watch Dogs. That’s three games in nine months – and only one of these titles met my expectations.

I guess my taste in video games is kinda limited, and I skipped some obvious AAA blockbusters, like Killzone: Shadow Fall and inFamous: Second Son.

Some people enjoy indie games – like Fez, Outlast or Don’t Starve – with a few exceptions, I generally don’t.

I’m counting just over a hundred releases so far on the PS4, which includes remakes such as The Last of Us Remastered or Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, teasers like Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and ports like Diablo III or Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Nine months since its launch, PS4’s roster of games is a disappointment. However, checking upcoming releases, we might be up for a treat: Tom Clancy’s The Division, The Order: 1886, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Far Cry 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition

No Need for Headroom in the Bedroom

Essentially, headroom is the space between the highest level a track reaches, and the level where clipping occurs.

If you’re a pro and submitting your mix for mastering at an external resource, you should give headroom (between -3 dB and -6 dB) on your master output. Likely, you’re also told to remove any pre-mastering processors, such as master bus compression, limiting, equalization, and to reduce frequency buildups and leave your mix dynamic.

The mix, handed over to the mastering engineer, should generally speaking be a 24-bit audio file, no dithering.

But what about us bedroom producers whom master our own shit, do we the need to care about any of this for our MP3s or uploads? No, but we could take these advices to help ourselves when mastering.

That is, when your mix is done and you’re about to enter the mastering phase (either you bounce your mix and start a separate mastering project or you do the mastering as a last step in a self-contained song project), remember these tips – your mastering process would gain from this.

Bass Divided

I already written about side-chain compression, so here’s a tip how to use it in a more subtle – yet effective – way: separate the bass in low, mid and high frequencies and then have the kick drum trigger the compression only on the low end of the bass.

  1. Make three copies of the bass (or create parallel channels).
  2. Isolate the bass in three frequency ranges; low 20-160 Hz, mid 105-950 Hz and high 550 Hz-7 kHz. It’s okay overlap some.
  3. It’s possible to pan the high and the mid slightly wider, but keep the low end in mono.
  4. Now side-chain only the channel with the low frequencies by -6 dB or so.

By doing this, the low end of the kick will be audible whilst the overtones of the bass will be kept intact.

The Death of Video Game Consoles

It’s not a prediction, but the eighth generation of video game consoles, i.e. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, might be the last.

I figure streaming devices like PlayStation TV – or even future smart TVs – will replace video game consoles in the living room (and elsewhere).

In other words, streaming games over a broadband connection is the future. And the future is now. The technology is here: the game runs remotely on hardware in a data center, and only the visuals and sound are sent in real-time to the player’s budget system.

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Sony already launched PlayStation Vita TV in Japan last November, bringing games, movies, and music and remote access to the PS4 on a shared local Wi-Fi network via Remote Play.

PlayStation TV is a small micro-console box with support for PlayStation Now streaming service (which access PS3 games), PS Vita, PSP and PlayStation One classics.

And its potential might just be the death of video game consoles as we’re used to know ‘em.

Specs and Features

PlayStation TV has a quad-core processor, 1GB of internal memory and supports video output of 720p/1080i. In essence, it’s a stationary version of the PlayStation Vita. It also supports Bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi 802.11n, HDMI, Ethernet, USB and Sony’s proprietary Vita memory card slot. It supports both DualShock 3 and 4 controllers.

At launch (beta use on July 31, 2014 in the US) PlayStation TV will grant consumers access to nearly a thousand games. Device due for launch in Europe this fall.

Second coming

A blueprint of the video game console killer I’m talking of, is a standalone model – let’s call it PlayStation TV 2. It should support all the current features and then some. Send even higher resolution with no noticeable render downsampling or compression; an evolved system with relevant content. Flawless integration with PlayStation Now, that should include all future games.

Now, how does that sound to you?

Less Input Lag

Input lag occurs in every TV. Lag is the time difference between a signal input (on your controller) and the time is takes to manifest this on screen.

So make sure you got your HDTV set on Game mode when playing on console. This mode improves latency between input and picture by disabling certain image processing protocols. In short, Game mode cuts down the response time on the video feed.

But by doing this the picture quality will suffer; color processing, noise reduction, advanced scaling and such are bypassed or greatly reduced, meaning the picture will look less pretty. Still, the less your TV has to work, the more responsive your controller is.

Game mode is available on most current TVs, e.g. Samsung, LG, JVC, Panasonic, Sony, Philips, Sharp.

There’s an input lag database online you might like to check out.