In The Light Within we put Seren back together and ultimately discuss storyline implications going forward. Some preferred, some not so much. As always with quest episodes, spoilers ahead ;).
Computer technology has reached a point where most of our interactions simply work without much fuss. In the 1990s and earlier it was not uncommon for a computer of the era to have issues with day to day tasks. These problems would arise because of two reasons, first, new applications might not meet the system requirements, and second, hardware in the early days of computing wasn’t all that powerful. Today, most applications are efficient enough and we have an abundance of powerful hardware. In the last 5–8 years this has lead to a drastic increase in hardware longevity.
My primary gaming PC was built in 2012, I upgraded the GPU (to a NVIDIA GTX 670) in 2013 since it inherited an aging but still adequate GPU. The machine features an Intel Core i5 3570k CPU with 8GB of memory (RAM). I have a solid state drive and a couple spinning disks for volume storage on it. Aside from degradation that happens over time in Windows (much less prevalent on 7 and 8 than previous versions) this computer still runs all my games and performs day to day tasks adequately. Why? The vast majority of games out there are GPU dependent (shiny graphics) and an Intel Core i5 is great for anything aside from heavy media encoding. I do not see any reason in the near future for a hardware upgrade aside from a catastrophic failure.
Now you may be asking yourself, why does this happen? Why don’t we need an upgrade every 2 years? Right now microprocessor (CPU) design has reached a point where changes are incremental and slower. Intel is currently facing a challenge in decreasing the size of their manufacturing process. Intel has been sitting at the 22nm lithography since 2012. Just recently in 2015 we saw the move to 14nm. What this basically means is that each individual transistor on a chip is manufactured at that scale. As the scale gets smaller we see either an increase in power efficiency or more transistors added resulting in more compute power. The downside however is that once the process goes below 11nm weird things start happening (related to quantum physics). I would love to go into depth explaining the weirdness and possible measures to correct it but the takeaway point for today is that microprocessor evolution has slowed down. Each new iteration will bring a 10%–15% increase in power use/performance for die-shrink (22nm -> 14nm) and about a 20%–25% increase when a new architecture is released.
Aside from when performing tasks such as gaming and encoding (models, media, etc.) our computers are fast enough. A whole renaissance happened between 2005 and 2010 where web browsers became more efficient and responsive letting us use the web with very few hiccups. This is largely due to an emphasis on efficiency for mobile users and the hardware advancements mentioned previously. Development kits on Windows and OS X provide developers easy ways of writing efficient code that uses very few resources. The resources that are used most heavily (memory and CPU cycles are the big ones) are plentiful. Developers have also started to embrace technologies that let them use all 4 cores inside of that powerful CPU that you have sitting on your desk, this once again has the side effect of reducing the appearance of wait time.
As you are probably seeing by now there’s no reason that a computer in 2015 should feel slow. If your machine is feeling slow there are three main things that can be done to speed it up:
With these 3 solutions it is possible to have a computer that is even a few years old running like it’s brand new. While there are still cases out there that require more CPU power (the odd game or media encoding) it’s often the case in the modern world that the CPU is almost too powerful. And with this, we look to other areas of the system for optimization. I truly believe that we are entering a world where a 5+ year lifespan of a computer is not hard to imagine.
It's been a very slow month in terms of RuneScape updates this August. All and all I think the community, and Jagex to a lesser extent, has just been in a holding pattern waiting for “The Light Within” quest. I thought this would be a great time to answer a listener question from RSBANDBUpdate!, episode 530 and 531. The question was from Tyler and he asked, “what was your favorite game growing up?” This question made me think back and reflect on all the games I loved as a kid and while its terribly difficult to choose one, I definitely have a favorite series that has crossed different gaming platforms. However before I let the proverbial cat out of the bag and disclose my favorite game let me start with some honorable mentions.
As many of you know I've been a gamer since before home consoles were even a thing. To take a look at some of my favorites in many ways is like taking a tour of gaming history. Of course the very first games I fell in love with have to be Asteroids and Defender for the Atari 2600, yes I go back that far. I recently dug up these games and gave them a little play and I have to say their simplicity and ease of access is still charming and a big reason Atari dominated the early 80's. That brings us to the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). What a ground breaking system it was. My all time favorite game makes its first appearance on this legendary platform. Before we get to that, first I have to give it up to some of my favorites that are often considered some of the best games of their era. Contra was such an awesome game. I mean who doesn't still remember the 100 extra life code to this day, and talk about difficult. I dusted off this classic awhile back and couldn't believe how hard it was. Along with Contra I also have to mention the Castlevania series. Castlevania 3 is widely acknowledged as one of the best games of the original NES and its no wonder. It was a platformer with difficult boss fights, a great story line, and memorable characters. Lastly I have to mention Mike Tyson's Punch Out! I still enjoy this game. It was challenging with each fight having its own mechanics and even had a cameo appearance from Mario as the referee. I shudder to think how many controllers met an untimely end due to not being able to get up from the count of ten after receiving an devastating uppercut from Iron Mike himself.
I know many of our readers remember Super Nintendo as their first console and while I never actually owned the console I do have some favorite games from the era. Star Fox was so revolutionary at the time. I remember marveling at its graphics. I spent many a sleep overs staying awake until the sun came up playing this game with friends. Then came the Sega Genesis. This was the first console I purchased with my own money. I spent the summer of my sophomore year in high school bailing hay to earn the cash for it. The first games I bought became my favorite games of the system, Roadrash3 and Streets of Rage2. Roadrash3 was just pure fun. I mean kicking someone and smacking them with chains and billy clubs while racing a motorcycle in traffic just made me smile. Streets of Rage is one of those games that you don't even remember why you liked it so much, you just know you did. Now its time for what you all have been waiting for, the big reveal.
My favorite game growing up was... (drum roll please) Final Fantasy. I loved this series and still do. It's the only game remotely close to the number of hours I've put in to RuneScape. It was my introduction to RPG's and the original grinding RPG. The very first Final Fantasy game was released for the NES and was thought by many at the time to be Square Enix's swan song. The company was in real trouble and was looking like it would be boarding up and going out of business. The game critics didn't think much of it at the time but it quickly gained a huge following. Final Fantasy saved the company and brought it back from the edge and gaming history was made. Its one of the most prolific games of all time with titles on the original NES, Super NES, PS1, PS2, PS3,and PSP and even the PC now.
Of course we can't talk about Final Fantasy without talking about its most popular titles. Final Fantasy X was an epic adventure. It had a complex leveling system, turn based combat, voice acting, and an epic story line that immersed the player in the game. You found yourself caring about these characters and wanting to uncover its mysteries. Oh, and did I mention saving the world? When you think about PS2 you can't help but to think about this game, which is saying a lot considering the PS2 is the best selling console of all time, a record not likely to ever be broken. Now you know my favorite series but is there one game in particular that stands out the most for me as my all time favorite game?
Here it is my favorite game growing up Final Fantasy 7. I can't describe the joy this game brought me then and even today. It was so immersive so compelling it literally felt like you were playing a fantasy novel. It had plot twist and turns and the connections you made with the characters were deep. This game had what many in the gaming world still see as one of the saddest and most shocking scenes of all time. Sorry can't spoil it but FF7 fans know what I'm talking about. If all that wasn't enough, the customizability and flexibility of the equipment in my opinion is the best in the series. The weapons and armor had their own stats and attributes, however in addition there was this stuff called materia and it could be put into weapon and armor slots. Different weapons had different number of slots and the materia itself had different purposes ranging from magic to summoning to health boost. It brought a level of strategy that just hadn't existed before . It was also a true grinding game too. Talk about OP, if you spent the time you could become so OP that nothing could withstand you. I loved that aspect of it. I want to be rewarded with Chuck Norris like powers when I spend that much time grinding. There's really nothing more that I can say about this game. If you've never played it try it especially if you like grindy RPG's.
So there you have my favorite game of all time. I want to thank Tyler for his question and please forgive the unsolicited response. I hope this has been a stroll down memory lane for at least some of you. If your in to retro gaming give some of these titles a try. I can attest to their timeless appeal. As for next month I'm cooking up something special so stay tuned for that. I'll give you a hint its RuneScape related and has something to do with pointy ears. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping.
Due to a large number of factors, I am cancelling all future Skill of the Week competitions. I don't have much to day, just a thanks to everybody who competed in them. I do not see them coming back in the near future.
A new school year has begun and in the absence of an update, what do we do?!? We answer your questions! Seren, the Worst Update Ever, and various pronunciations and more.