Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
 
Speed

How fast is your computer? Having now received my new computer, I find that this question is very hard to answer. There is no universal measure for speed of computers, you can only measure the time it takes the computer to do a specific task. So I've been running benchmark programs like 3DMark and find that my new computer has a score of just under 24,000, compared to 14,500 for the old one. I can also measure the frames per second of games, for example World of Tanks at highest graphics settings going up from 60 fps to 100 fps. But practically these measures of speed don't mean much. If World of Tanks didn't have a small display for frames per second, you wouldn't even be able to notice the difference between 60 and 100.

So what I am left with is a computer which FEELS a lot faster. This is mainly due to the solid state hard drive on which the operating system and the programs are stored. That results in much less time passing between me clicking on an icon and the computer doing what I asked him to. There is less wait for the computer to boot up and shut down, for starting programs, and for loading screens in games. That makes the new computer much nicer to work with, but it would be hard to put a number on this gain in speed and comfort.

A similar issue exists when measuring internet speed. Ask somebody how fast his internet is, and he'll probably give you a number expresses in MBit per second. I have a 20 MBit/s VDSL internet connection. 20 MBit/s ends up being up to 2 Mbyte per second of download speed, so this speed measure is relevant the day I want for example to download my digital copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which will presumably be several gigabyte large. If the EA servers are able to send out data at that speed, being able to download 7 gigabyte per hour will be a big help. But for actually *playing* SWTOR the 20 MBit/s speed is irrelevant. For online games it is far more important how fast your "ping" is in milliseconds, because that determines how long you have to wait between you clicking and something appropriate happening. If you play on a server on a different continent, you might end up with half a second of ping, making your character react much slower than everybody else. It is hard to not stand in the fire if your ping is that high. Fortunately a lot of European servers for different games are situated in the area between Paris and the Netherlands, and I have 30 ms ping in many online games.

So, I have a really fast computer and a fast internet connection. Now I just need to decide what to use them for. I haven't even installed World of Warcraft on the new computer, only World of Tanks and Steam. And I don't really have any plans for MMORPGs before SWTOR. I just hope I can get into the beta soon. Apparently I'm not alone here, I see a lot of discussion of SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, and Diablo 3 in the blogosphere, and very little discussion of games that you can actually already play. Well, I have a large collection of games I bought in various Steam sales and haven't tried yet, maybe this is the opportunity to play them.
Comments:
Deus Ex HR might be something you'd want to try after you exhaust your previous steam purchases.
 
download all of your steam library just in case you might want to play it ... that should cover the first couple of dozen gigs. Then make sure to watch some streamed movies in parallel (assuming you got some Lovefilm/Netflix like thing over there).
 
Maybe you should install Lotro? Seems to be a world you enjoy visiting on occation, plus expansion coming in less than a month = new zones you can have a look at. (No quests there unless you buy the xpac, but I think nothing stops you from just sneaking up to Orthanc. Don't blame me if you get in trouble though :)
 
Minor LotRO info so that you avoid the pitfall: travel as a low-level character in LotRO doesn't last long: the aggro ranges become enormous as the level difference increases.
I brought a level 10ish character in the Trollshaws: seeing the hordes of mobs running in from beyond the horizon to kill me was fun, but it made crossing the area impossible (at level 16, it's possible, so there's a threshold value somewhere).
It's not Ryzom, where with superior skill you may be able to navigate areas 200 levels above you.

Going back on-topic: I find this part of your article depressing: I see a lot of discussion of SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, and Diablo 3 in the blogosphere, and very little discussion of games that you can actually already play. What I mean is that coming from this point of view, those games will never be able to stand up to the expectations.... Maybe it'd be time to stop focusing on what is done wrong and start looking for what is done right?
 
Yes. WoW, SWTOR, GW2, and Diablo. I have this feeling each is waiting for the other to make their move. Blizzard has a long history of dropping their big news or trials at the same time as other MMO release or update. I expect WoW to play that game with SWTOR considering the timing of BlizCon and SWTOR releasing later this year.

I think Diablo and GW2 will be in the same boat. Even if both can't release at the same time I expect the later released game to have a "free weekend" or such within the same timeframe the other releases.

Much of the online RPG crowd is waiting in limbo, with improved systems, just waiting for dates from Blizzard, EA, and Anet.
 
I have just started Deus Ex HR and I second Zaeni's reccomendation. SO far it feels like a true successor to the ground breaking original. It is an FPS but it isn't a twitch shooter so it probably won't give you motion sickness. The graphics are not state of the art however so it isn't exactly a tech demo.

If you just want to stretch your system to the limits then Crysis 2 or one of the Metro games are probably where it is at but FPS warning applies.

The recent total war games also demand a very powerful system to get all the bells and whistles but I am not convinced that the difference is worth it.
 
To me the biggest benefit of having good hardware is being able to max out a game and not worry about a FPS hit.

But yea, certainly the upgrade every 6 months thing is somewhat over, and it's rare to see a game come out that really crushes computers and demands an upgrade.
 
1 word:

Bastion
 
Gratz on your new rig, Tobold!

I think 3DMark is a fairly good indicator in terms of gaming power. 24k in Vantage is pretty solid, I think you'll be good for the next year at least.

...someone above me mentioned that system requirements of games aren't increasing as fast as they used to. I've found this also to be the case - any theories on why that is? Is it due to consoles or what?
 
I think we've reached a sort of inflection point where the costs involved in pushing the leading edge tech are prohibitive. Higher poly counts and longer view distances create an expotential increase in the art required to fill it all in, art which must be made by people. Companies like blizzard have a pretty firm grasp of the tech available to their customer base - I'm sure there are charts with a sort of PC performance bell curve - so they can ccompare the costs of producing a CPU-melting graphics monster against the likely sales numbers. My guess is that those kinds of games aren't the winning proposition they were just a few years ago.
 
That's a really solid explanation, Christopher, cheers for posting that! :)
 
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