Category Archives: gaming

PC deep clean and a new video

I didn’t intend to deep clean the inside of my pc today, but it was starting to overheat a bit, and the fans were becoming a little too loud, so I dragged out the paint brushes and the vacuum cleaner and got stuck into it. Now I’m knackered. If anyone wants to know how to clean their own desktop pc [can’t do it to a laptop] you can find the post here.

One reason I had to reduce the noise of the fans [in the pc] was because the microphone was starting to pick them up when I recorded my latest how-to video. That’s the one down below:

The how-to is for gaming, but I’m slowly honing my skills for the creation of self-publishing videos. The one above may look simple but the editing was brutal. I stopped counting the snippets of video at 50 and didn’t count the voice-over and overlay snippets at all. I did, however, learn how to make my own circles and arrows and overlay them on segments of the video I wanted to highlight:

Unless anyone particularly wants to hear the -cough- dulcet tones of my Aussie accent, leave this one for the gamers. 😉

Time for a long delayed breakfast,

cheers,
Meeks


Why, and how, to use the Youtube video editor

I’ll start with the ‘why’. Once you upload a video to Youtube, any changes you make will require that you:

  1. delete the original video, and
  2. upload the new, updated video

Why is this a problem? Because any views or comments you get on the old video will be lost.

The only exception to this is if the changes you want to make are minor. In that case, you can use the in-built Youtube video editor to make small changes to the existing video.

What kind of changes? Let me show you in this 4 minute, how-to video that I created:

I decided to have a little fun with the ‘speaking bits’ so used one of my gaming avatars to ‘animate’ the boring bits. Ahem…

In the example shown, the ‘tail’ of the video was too long. The tail is the bit right at the end which is where you want to display end screen information:

These ‘elements’ encourage viewers to see other videos you’ve created, or subscribe to your channel. The last thing you want is for viewers to switch off without seeing more of your content.

So the end screen elements are very important, but they can only be added after you upload your video. This makes getting the timing right a bit of a challenge. I’m sure professionals know precisely how long to make the ‘tail’ of the video, but I always seem to make them too long.

According to my research, end screen elements need to be on-screen for a minimum of 5 seconds. Anything less than that and they simply don’t appear. The maximum time they can appear is 20 seconds, so you need to find the sweet spot and time your ‘tail’ to match.

After much messing around, I finally got my end screen elements to appear just after the ‘blow kiss/goodbye’. And I had to use the method shown in the video to do it. 🙂

And finally, this is the video that made me scoot down this rabbit hole in the first place:

I’m having a lot of fun creating these gaming walkthroughs, but I’m also learning the skills I’ll need once I start making how-to videos in earnest.

cheers,
Meeks


ESO player housing: Moon Sugar Meadow

I completed this house some time ago, but my video capturing and editing skills have only just caught up. This video includes a number of new features, including a soundtrack:

I still have a lot to learn but I now know how to use the ESO in-game camera a bit better. It doesn’t matter how good your editing skills may be if the raw footage is poor quality.

On the video editing front, I’ve learned how to:

  • Cut and splice the video footage with still images to create a smooth flowing visual narrative,
  • Focus on important images using freeze frame,
  • Narrate the important ‘bits’,
  • Add a ‘soundtrack’ to help tie the whole thing together.

I’m particularly proud of the soundtrack as I was just experimenting, and it worked. lol

For anyone who’s interested, I recorded roughly ten minutes of video just for the background music. Then I took the video into VideoStudio Pro 2021 [the software I use for editing] and ‘split’ the audio out of the video. This left me with just an audio track. I then added the audio track to the completed video.

What all that means is that the video is made up of three layers:

  • the edited video [complete with sound effects like bird calls and footsteps],
  • the voice over narration, and
  • the music soundtrack.

Once my skills improve a bit more, I hope to be able to create how-to videos and maybe, one day, a trailer for my books. That’s all in the future though. For now, I’m still on a massive learning curve. Thanks for coming along for the ride. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


New toys, new skills

Some months back, I invested in Corel VideoStudio Pro, as well the Action! video capture program. One helps me take good quality video footage, the other helps me turn that raw footage into something a great deal more professional. Unfortunately, both have required quite a steep learning curve, but I’m proud to say I can now do a proper ‘voice over’[1].

In time, I hope to make short how-to videos to complement my how-to posts. You saw a tiny snippet of that in my last post. For now though, I’m doing player housing walkthroughs while I learn the ropes. This is my latest walkthrough:

A narrated walkthrough of the Undercity

This particular housing project is set in an area that looks like a real wasteland, so I tried to reproduce some of the things I visualised in The Vintage Egg, in particular the story about the Christmas Roast. I think I managed to fudge the grim feel of the Undercity, but I couldn’t quite re-create the high tech architecture. Still, I had a lot of fun. 🙂

I’m off to practise some more new skills.

cheers,
Meeks

[1] My first efforts saw me recording the ‘narration’ at the same time as I was trying to film the video. Okay for simple things, next to impossible for more complex things. Now I can focus on the video first, then record the narration over the top of the video. Still need a script but it’s miles easier.]


Dieselpunk House – Anpire

I love building things in ESO, and I think I’m pretty good at it, but this house – built by Anpire – is beyond exceptional:

Not only is the building itself incredible, but the ‘cinematography’ is brilliant as well, and the laid back, jazzy music suits the build perfectly.

cheers,
Meeks


ESO, Lion’s Cradle and Bandicam

The video above is the first part of an ongoing walkthrough of a house I built in Elder Scrolls Online, ESO for short. This house is probably the most ambitious thing I’ve built in-game, and you’ll see why when I show you what the original looks like:

Thank god a friend hadn’t built anything on her version of the house yet so I could get a ‘before’ video.

As you can see, the estate appears to be quite small, with just a single room house, a below deck area and a wide deck out front. But…this house has the best view of any house in ESO. So I built out [from the fence] and down as far as the envelope would allow.

In coming videos I’ll show views from the new areas so you can see how much extra space you can make by building out. For my money, Lion’s Cradle is an unsung gem.

And now a bit about the process of creating these videos in the first place. Let’s just say it’s been fraught. In the last three days I’ve tried out:

  • Shadowplay video capture [nVidia GEForce Experience]
  • Democreator [Wondershare]
  • Movavi Gecata
  • OBS
  • Bandicam
  • and Ease-Fab video converter

Shadowplay uses the nVidia graphics card [if you have one] to create great videos, but because they’re created with variable framerates, I couldn’t upload them to anything. It may be possible to make them compatible with Vimeo etc, but I couldn’t work out how, so, no go.

Democreator I couldn’t get to work, can’t remember why. Again a no.

Movavi was okay but I simply don’t have the money to buy software that I may only use once in a blue moon. So, no.

OBS…this is open source software and the most popular app around at the moment, but I had major problems with it. For starters, my operating system [Win 7] is not supported by the app, but I read that I could still use it. So I tried. I could get a screen capture going, of sorts, but the hotkeys didn’t work so I had to record manually from within the app. As a result, I had junk at the beginning and the end. Also I couldn’t get it to record in mp4. So then I tried Ease-Fab to convert it to mp4 but the result was…ick.

And finally, I tried Bandicam. Almost fell off my chair when it worked first time, straight away. I had to experiment with different resolutions, but I think the ones in the videos above are a reasonable trade-off between quality and size. Plus my pc is oldish so it’s not that great with super high resolution.

If you’re using Windows 10 you’ll probably find that most of these apps work better simply because your pc is likely to be more powerful. But…if you use Win 7 like me, it’s nice to know that we still have options.

And finally, to salve my conscience, I have to say that learning how to do all this will come in handy as I try to create video tutorials. That, however, is still some way off as I need equipment and a video editor, none of which I currently have. But knowledge never goes astray, right?

Have a great weekend,

Meeks


My Favourite bits…The Vintage Egg

The Vintage Egg (Postcards From Tomorrow Book 1) by [acflory]

The Egg is a collection of six short stories that I published back in 2013, but at least two of them – The Gamer and Brehak – were conceived more than a decade earlier. Both grew out of my fledgling experiences as an online gamer, and the realisation that seeing really is believing, even when you know that what you’re seeing isn’t real.

But if two gamers can fall in love with their respective avatars, what happens when reality intrudes? Or when one of them deliberately deceives the other? Readers of Innerscape will recognize both of these themes. They, and much of the backstory of Innerscape grew out of these two stories.

The following excerpt is taken from the second story, Brehak:

The dark-haired man with the impossibly long legs sprawled on his throne, surrounded by a bevy of naked beauties – all small-breasted, all blond, all wearing the same come hither look. Except he hadn’t come…

“Out. All of you. Get out!”

As the blond NPCs winked obediently out of existence, their lord and master rose from his ornate, padded throne, and strode over to a huge tapestry that hung on the wall behind the throne.

The tapestry hid an iron-studded door that led out to a windswept balcony. From there he would have a panoramic view of the icy wastes that lay beyond the battlements. His realm.

Grabbing the iron ring that served as a handle, Brehak flung the door open, and walked outside. The chill wind, and the snow beneath his naked feet made him shiver, but he welcomed the discomfort. It was nice to feel something for a change.

When he had first created this fantasy realm three months ago, everything had been new and exciting, including the sex. But the thrill of being serviced by his harem of Ktah look-alikes had waned very quickly. No matter how he programmed them, their behaviour was never realistic enough to make him believe he was with her. None of them could ever capture that strange innocence lurking behind her seductive blue eyes.

Had she even been a she?

Brehak had agonized over that question a million times since the night Ktah disappeared from the OR. Her voice had certainly been that of a woman, but he knew that didn’t mean much. When he had tried out a female avatar, just to see what it would feel like, the game AI had subtly altered his voice patterns to make him sound more feminine. His walk though, and his body language, had remained stubbornly masculine.

Ktah had not played typically female classes, yet even so her body movements had always been graceful in a way most men could never match-

…except perhaps a really good female impersonator…

Was that why she/he finally ran away? Because they’d come so close to stimming?

Some days, Brehak was revolted by the thought that Ktah might have been a man. Other days he cursed her/him for not following through. Perhaps if they had finally had sex he would be able to move on. But they hadn’t, and the questions remained.

It was not that he had been in love with Ktah – they had not known each other long enough for that – but the possibility had been there, impossible to ignore. Impossible to forget.

Brehak knew it was stupid to be so obsessed with an avatar, and he had tried to exorcise Ktah’s memory many times, but none of the women he met in OR could hold his interest for long. Most were nice enough, but sooner or later they all started talking about meeting up ‘outside’, and that always killed it for him. 

Back when the OR had been in its infancy, he had made the mistake of telling one woman why they could never be together in real life. The pity, and revulsion he had seen on her face had scarred him more thoroughly than all the surgeries he had undergone. Apparently some women could face making love to a man with no legs, but drew the line at one with no bowels

Would he have seen that same look on Ktah’s face – if he had told her the truth about himself?

“We’ll never know now, will we?”

Leaning on the cold stone of the balustrade, Brehak looked out over his empty, icy realm and laughed. It was not a happy sound.

Brehak is by far the darkest story in the Egg. The rest range from kid-friendly to vaguely funny [The To-Do List], but all deal with how human beings deal the the technology we are likely to face in the future.

The Vintage Egg is starting its five day free run on Amazon tomorrow [March 2 northern hemisphere time, March 3 southern hemisphere time], and I hope everyone grabs a copy while it’s free.

cheers
Meeks


Augmented Reality [AR] game set in Melbourne

As a gamer and denizen of Melbourne [Australia], how could I resist this New Atlas article about an AR game set in the city I love?

‘The game is the first in the True Crime Mysteries series by indie studio 10Tickles, helmed by husband-and-wife team Andy Yong and Emma Ramsay. The couple are both fascinated by true crime, history and the city of Melbourne itself, and so set out to build an augmented reality experience that tapped into all three.’

You can read the entire article by clicking the link below:

https://newatlas.com/games/true-crime-augmented-reality-game-misadventure-little-lon/

cheers

Meeks


A naughty weekend in Warrandyte

No! Not that kind of weekend…;) This kind of weekend:

The lighting effects are truly glorious in Elder Scrolls Online, and they inspired me to create classically inspired interiors for my in-game house. That involved finding recipes, gathering ingredients and finally crafting beautiful items like:

…the goblets and knick knacks you can see displayed on that shelving.

I also splurged and bought a very expensive recipe for a glass goblet and some ‘food’. In this last screenshot, you can see my wedge of cheese, the bread platter, and some kebabs. Dinner chez moi. 🙂

I loved the player housing in Final Fantasy XIV, but the housing and control in ESO are an order of magnitude better. Harder to master, but I think the effects speak for themselves. And yes, I did spend a lot of time playing this weekend. But I also spent a lot of time, and most of my energy mowing. I literally did not have enough oomph left over to write. Today, though, I will make up for lost time.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Eyesight & Oculus Rift

As an old[er] gamer with dodgy eyesight, I’ve been worried that I’d never be able to play VR [virtual reality] games. Well, yesterday I learned that I can. 😀

But first things first: what is Oculus Rift? Basically, it’s a very expensive piece of headgear that makes it possible to view imaginary things as if they were real. The model I tried out yesterday looks like this:

As well as the goggles and inbuilt headphones, the Oculus Rift comes with two handsets that transmit Wifi data to the two ‘receiver’ units positioned in front of the ‘player’.

All of this hardware is controlled by specialist software running on a fairly powerful pc. Without getting too technical, the software sends two, separate, high resolution images to the lens inside the headset. The appropriate image then bounces through one of the lens and into the left or right eye.

To get an idea of how this works, close one eye and look at an object. Close both eyes and move a few inches to the left. Now open the other eye and look at the object again. The object hasn’t changed at all, but the viewing angle has – i.e. you’re seeing a part of the object you haven’t seen before. Put the two images together, and you get a 3D image.

The human brain interprets these separate images all the time using a process called ‘stereopsis‘. But for some individuals, stereopsis doesn’t develop as it should. The brain still gets streams of images from both eyes, but these individuals see depth using a process called ‘motion parallax‘.

I am one of these individuals, and that’s why I worried I wouldn’t be able to see in VR. But I can! I can. My spatial awareness expanded right out, and when a bunch of very large robots suddenly turned feral and loomed over me, I instinctively threw my hands up to protect my head! I also squeaked in fear, but the less said about that the better. 😀

This is a video of a bunch of older people experiencing VR for the first time:

The headset shown in the video clip is the VIVE rather than the Oculus Rift, but the experience is much the same.

I wasn’t wearing glasses when I tried out the Rift, but apparently you can fit your normal glasses inside the goggles by adjusting the fit.

And now a word or two about the quality of the graphics. I wasn’t wearing any of my glasses [I have 3, one each for long, mid-range and close viewing] and that may have made the graphics less than optimal. Or it may be that the graphics still need to be improved. Or perhaps you simply need bleeding edge computer hardware to get the best results. Whatever the reason, I was in no danger of mistaking computer generated graphics for the real thing. But…the sensation of depth really does trick the brain into believing the images are real. One day, we may not be able to perceive the difference at all.

Finally, some unpleasant aspects of the hardware. For starters, the goggles are heavy. Whilst you’re ‘inside’, you tend to forget about the weight because there’s so much there to distract you, but it does feel a bit like carrying half a brick around on your head. It’s also hot. Yesterday was only warm, but after ten minutes playing with the Rift, my hair was wet with sweat.

A big part of the weight of the Rift comes from the glass lenses that make the magic possible. Given how young the technology is, I suspect the mechanics will be improved rapidly. One improvement I would very much like to see is in the handsets. Although they are far more intuitive than the controllers used with consoles, they’re still clunky. Gloves and a full-body suit with embedded sensors would be miles better. They’d also be miles more expensive, but hopefully the price will come down by the time I can afford to buy one. 😉

All in all, I loved my taste of VR, and now that I know I can see despite the issues with my eyesight, I’m determined to own my own setup…one day.

cheers

Meeks


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