186 Posts

It looks like Ray Tracing is coming to Minecraft. According to an article (https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/article/render-dragon-and-nvidia-ray-tracing), Ray Tracing will come to Minecraft next year. The video trailer says "Windows 10," so I'm not sure whether or not that means it's coming to the Java Edition or just the Windows 10 Bedrock Edition. Check out the embedded video. It looks beautiful!

This actually makes me regret that I did not recently buy an RTX GPU. Part of that decision was because not a lot of games feature Ray Tracing yet, so it didn't seem like a technology I really cared about at the time. That part of the decision still holds true, although this news today brings me one step closer to wanting an RTX GPU. I also didn't want to spend too much money on a GPU. If I had enough money, I'd love to get a RTX 2080Ti or Super, but they're expensive.

I recently found out (thanks to Travis) that you don't actually have to have an RTX card to play the RTX version of Quake 2. However, with all the Ray Tracing features enabled, it's very difficult to get a decent amount of FPS to make the game playable (on a non-RTX GPU).

What do you think about this? Does this make you want to get an RTX GPU or do you already have one? Let me know in the comment section!

I was an early adopter of Atlas. I can attest to it’s less than perfect launch. In fact, I had a terrible time with it. I joined an official server, but couldn’t hardly get any frames per second. It turned out that there were very many players in the world, but most of them were sleeping (they were offline). This caused serious issues which was later resolved.

I didn’t play the game for too long. I enjoyed the beginning of it, starting out, collecting resources to make my first set of cloth armor and tools. Then I had to collect resources so I could build a raft and set out to sea, I had to make sure I had enough resources, including food, for my travel. What makes this game kind of complicated, regarding food, is the need to monitor your vitamin values and try to keep those up. There are four types of food, each corresponding to a vitamin. Vitamins are A, B, C, and D which are (in no particular order) fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat. This meant you needed a stack of each kind to keep your vitamin levels in check and keep in mind that food spoils. You also had to be prepared with fresh water, as you can’t drink sea water. Luckily, the Freeport that you spawn in has a pool of freshwater that you can drink out of and use to fill your water skins (which will leak over time).

I restarted multiple times, but didn’t get very far with progression. I tried to find land, but it was all taken, so I couldn’t build any where. Eventually, I gave up. You can read my original post on the game (https://cheerfulghost.com/GregoPeck/posts/3971/the-most-ambitious-and-most-improved-early-access-game-of-the-end-of-the-year ). However, Grapeshot released a single player mode for the game and I’ve returned to check it out.

It’s a lonely world. Luckily, I don’t actually have to claim any land to build, I can build pretty much where ever I want. I’ve restarted a few times, but ultimately, I found a nice island with fresh water, metal, and other good resources. I kind of feel a bit lucky for finding this island. I started building, but ran into a problem. If you place something like a workstation, or just about anything on top of a wood foundation and then decide to upgrade to a stone foundation, you have to destroy whatever you placed on top of the foundation, before you can place the stone foundation. I’ve submitted this as a bug. This doesn’t happen in Ark, which is pretty much what this game is based on with the same engine, same files, and a lot of other similarities other than being a pirate game. This made me look for a mod like Structures Plus for Ark, which allows you to pick up anything any time. I found one similar called Atlas Architect, which has some stations which are smaller and allows you to pick them up any time.

I would like to tame something, but I haven’t found anything at a high enough level that I want to tame. I think my single player settings will give me a max level of wild creatures that I can tame of 150 and I haven’t seen any yet. Some have been close, but not close enough for me. However, I was able to get started on building ships. I like the raft, but you have to go in the direction the wind blows and it doesn’t contain much space for anything, nor any way to defend yourself from ships of the damned (SOTD). Speaking of them, they are intimidating now. They now can be found in fleets, usually about four, but there could be many more in a single area of the map. I wish there were individuals (as it was earlier in the development of the game), which would let me practice fighting them and be less intimidating.

I built my first Sloop. It took some time to get used to having to manage sails and a rudder by myself. I really needed some crew. Luckily, you can recruit crew member at a Freeport for just 5 gold. Then they’ll want 1 gold every few hours or so. You can also get them by destroying SOTD, they’ll be swimming with the debris of the ship and you can swim up to them, press a button to give them gold, and take them back to your ship. Usually these crew members are at a higher level than the ones you can recruit in a Freeport (which are all level 1). So, I found my way to a Freeport and recruited a few crew. Then I returned to the island where I made my home and built my first Schooner.
I can’t recall at the moment, if my Sloop had canons on it, but I think the Schooner did. I don’t think I used them though, maybe I did try at least once to destroy a fleet of SOTD. If I did, it didn’t go well and I restarted from a backup. I use the same system of backing up my saved data and restoring it when I want, like I do for Ark (just by copying certain files to different directories). After I built the Schooner, I once again traveled to the nearest Freeport to recruit some crew. Then I traveled back to the island where I made my home and started to build my Brigantine.

It was around here, I think, that I found and added another mod. In Ark, I use one that significantly decreases the weight of items and increases stack sizes. I found one for Atlas and was able to collect and carry a lot more resources, which was very important as each new ship requires even more resources. The mod is called Custom Item Stacks. I also had trouble keeping my vitamin levels maintained, so I began using a mod called MultiVitamin, which lets you craft a multivitamin which will raise your vitamin levels to normal. This takes food of each kind and a medicinal herb, but is well worth it. Having a vitamin deficiency will cause you to lose health and eventually die (which will reset your vitamin level, making death actually kind of helpful w/out this mod).

After I constructed my Brigantine, I once again headed to my local Freeport to recruit crew. It was either during this trip or the next that I was unable to recruit any more at one point. Luckily, finding out why wasn’t too difficult with a simple Google search. You can only have a max of 10 level 1 crew members. So, I simply just had to level up the ones that I had, which I didn’t bother with before. They got levels easily enough and didn’t take long to get their first one. I can’t recall now whether or not I tried to fight the SOTD with the Brigantine. Once again, I headed back to the island where I made my home and started to build my Galleon.

The Galleon is huge! The max amount of gun ports on it is 52! It’s definitely a behemoth, which obviously took a while to build. I had some trouble with previous ships where I built the shipyard in water that was too shallow and therefore couldn’t get them out easily. Each ship, by the way, has it’s own size of ship yard. You have tiny, small (I think), medium, and large ship yards. You need to build each to build each ship. This will let you build the skeleton of the ship.

The Galleon has 6 large sails, but doesn’t feel faster than any other sea craft (ships and raft). Maybe this is because I haven’t seen each craft sailing together (which I obviously can’t do in single player mode). However, more sails are supposed to make crafts faster and the Galleon is the fastest (and biggest) ship in the game. After I completed this build, I once again headed to my local Freeport to recruit crew. I ran into an issue with the dinghy. You can build a dinghy dock on your ship. When you get close to your ship with it, you can select the option on the radial menu to have it return to your ship. This will pull it up and put it back where it belongs. There were a few times where I had crew with me when I did this and they disappeared, or seemed to, I may have later found a couple of them. It took a while to hire the remaining crew members I needed to fill my ship. It has a max crew limit of 59, but you can increase that by leveling up a certain stat (ships get experience and level up, too, maybe I should have mentioned that earlier).

This time, I did not return home. I set sail with the wind (if I have no destination, I like to travel in the direction the wind is blowing). It wasn’t long until I ran into a fleet of SOTDs and I started shooting at them. The first time, I beat all four of them, but my ship was damaged and was sinking. I ran out of wood to repair it, so I was heading back to the island from which I came so I could gather more wood. On the way, I ran into a ship wreck and decided to go after it. You can see floating debris every now and then indicating that a shipwreck is below the debris. I had installed a diving dock on my ship as I did before on the Brigantine. So I hoped in my diving suit and went down. Unfortunately, it was night and I couldn’t hardly see nor find the entrance to the treasure chest. I started dying and realized that I was freezing to death. I died, but was able to respawn on my ship and go back down to collect the items I had on my body, but I couldn’t find my body, so I restored the files to the backup I made just after hiring all my crew and before setting sail the last time. I ran into the SOTDs again, but I destroyed them all and I’m not even sure if any of them hit me. This was impressive, but it also takes quite a bit of time and effort to circle back around and against the wind after you’ve sailed passed them. Once they were destroyed, I was able to collect the debris they left behind and rescue one person, because I had one more slot for a crew member. She was level 27, I think, but she disappeared when I brought her aboard via the dinghy. She’s still counting as part of my crew, so I’m not sure where she is. This is where I have finished so far.

Since I’m done building ships, I have a little less to do. I can tame creatures and collect treasure from shipwrecks, flotsam, and the SOTDs I destroy. I can (and have tried to) also find buried treasure using one of the many maps I’ve found, but the damned (soldiers of the damned maybe?) are very over powering. I need to tame a good high level bear to help me take them on. I would like to build a submarine, but it requires me to make three different kinds of alloy (which are basically metal ingots). I have iron and thought I had copper, but don’t and so I need to find more. I know there is an underwater trench you can go to with your submarine. I think one or more of the power stones is there. I think these stones allow you to fight the boss, the Kracken.

There are mythical creatures, too, like the Cyclops. There’s also a dragon and some more things you can actually tame or purchase (in-game not w/ real money). These tames will only last for a limited time though. However, if you defeat them, you can collect something called mythos, but I’m not entirely sure what that’s for.

There is also a DLC map. I think it was not made by Grapeshot, but another individual. I know it’s much smaller than the single player map (which is huge). I haven’t tried it out yet, but I think I’m getting nearer to feeling ready to do so.

A lot of this game was pretty much nearly impossible to do alone before single player mode came out. Although single player mode doesn’t exactly make things easier, you can use mods, which makes things a lot easier. SOTD and soldiers from treasure maps are still numerous and intimidating, although I did find out I can defeat fleets of SOTD with my Galleon. There are videos on YouTube that can show you how to build a good ship (Sloop or Schooner) to beat them as well.

I’m glad they released single player mode, although I wish a few things were adjusted to make things easier (or less intimidating) for the single player. The map is huge and in multiplayer mode (the base mode of the game), each section is run by a server. So the map is actually a cluster of servers you can travel to. Surprisingly, it takes as much time to travel to different places on the grid at the same speed in both game modes, although it doesn’t take very long at all. I think this is impressive, that you can travel to a new server and the switch happens very quickly.

So now that single player mode is out, do you think you might give this game a try? I might actually recommend it now, especially if you like building/crafting, taming, and pirate stuff like building ships, sailing, and sea battles. It’s also a good game for exploring, although it can get boring out there in the open sea. Have you tried to play the game in it’s normal multiplayer mode? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments, if you want to talk about this.

I may update this in the future as I play more, or write a new post.

Last year, Studio Wildcard (SW) received major backlash after posting a countdown on the Ark website (survivetheark.com), which ended up being an event that had dino skins (based on the new Jurassic World movie at the time) as rewards. Many fans, including myself, were expecting news of a new DLC, we were sure of it, but we were wrong. However, not much later, SW posted another countdown on the website, but this ended up being an announcement of a DLC, Extinction.

I’m not going to spoil the lore of Ark here. If you want to know it, you can find it easily enough on the Internet. However, it seemed Extinction would be the end of Ark, or Ark DLC. There was a subtle piece at the end that hinted there could be more. There were also coded messages, which revealed another location in the Ark lore. This lead many to believe that this was not the end of Ark, as the story was still open-ended.

Recently, SW, posted a new countdown on their website. There were coded messages found on a website, which were decoded and showed SW giving us hints of something that’s coming. The way they did this was interesting and it was also very interesting to see people on the Internet who were able to decode these messages. One of the encoded messages stated, “this is not Ark 2.” People also were able to analyze the webpage code or scipt in Firefox and found a directory leading to a sound file. The directory was called “Genesis.”

It was a day before the end of the countdown and the Playstation store had a new post. It was showing a Genesis Season Pass along with some pictures of the new content. It seemed someone might be ready to lose their job after this leak. However, it turned out to be true. It wasn’t really a leak though. The page was supposed to go up yesterday on 8/8/19. However when for us it was 8/7/19, it was already 8/8/19 in Australia. SW pretty much just laughed about it in their announcement stream.

Genesis is “a new chapter” in Ark. You can see and hear in the announcement video that we are going some where where some one cannot help us, so she creates a cool robot-like thing and gives it her personality. This will make more sense if you’ve followed the lore of Ark, you’ll know who that “someone” is. This robot is called HLN-A (hint here). It’s designed to go along with us on this new journey and help us along the way. It can show us when there’s danger, react to our emotes, and encourages us to do things in the game. It seems it will guide us on our way to the end of the game or content. Surprisingly, this HLN-A is available now if you purchase the Genesis Season Pass (as I did). Right now, it’s pretty much a cosmetic “pet.” It’s expected to become much more of something when the content is released.

We got a look at some pictures, which show off new creatures and new biomes. Two pictures seem to clearly be on the first map, called the Island (in case you didn’t know), but SW says this new content will consist of two new maps. There’s a volcanic biome, ocean biome, and poisonous-looking biome. Part 1 of Genesis will arrive in December, while Part 2 will arrive in “winter 2020.” I assume they mean Part 2 will arrive about a year after Part 1, because SW always released new DLC a year after the previous one. So, this year, just like last year, many of us are back on the Ark hype train.

One of the new creatures was seen near an active volcano and it’s covered in molten rock/fire. This creature doesn’t like water, can be tamed, and acts as a mobile forge (for smelting iron). This is similar to how other creatures work in the game, for example the Giant Beaver acts as a mobile Smithy. Another new small four-armed creature looks adorable, but is Ark’s first shape-shifter. If it eats Element it turns into a larger wolf-like creature. It seems as though it will not turn on whoever it tamed, but can be used in some strategic ways.

Apparently, (as revealed by SW), people have been asking for another creature from the devs for quite a while now. SW stated that they just didn’t have anywhere to put it. This is the new giant turtle looking creature. It functions as a mobile island, you can build your base on it, and harvest the plants/materials that grow on it. It can dive underwater and when it does, it creates an oxygen bubble, so you won’t need to wear SCUBA gear. This creature is massive and as such Genesis will have an ocean biome that this giant can live in, where it can be tamed.

There are a couple more things mentioned by SW, but I recommend (if you’re interested) to watch the stream, which has been posted on YouTube (https://youtu.be/zC7ArMfwz8U).

Last year, I was really excited for Extinction, but was a bit disappointed by it, mostly because of the amount of things that feel nearly impossible to do alone in single player mode. I don’t want to be let down again, but I can’t help but to get excited about Genesis. However, it does make me wish that devs wouldn’t tell us long in advance about something they’re working on and make us wait months or years at a time. Instead, I kind of wish they would just make the announcement when they release the content. The days do seem to pass more slowly when you’re eagerly awaiting something new to be released.

So, what do you think about this? Are you excited? Have you purchased the Season Pass for this? It’s only about $35 and seems like a great value for Ark content released in two parts. Let me know what you think.

I think this was already reported on here during the E3 stuff, but it's come more to my attention due to a friend sharing info with me on Facebook. At first, I ignored this news. I thought it was just for the Switch (which I may still get) and I believed that the Steam version was "remastered." But, it seems I was incorrect (please correct me if I'm wrong). I played it a few years ago on Steam and didn't have a problem with it, it looked fine to me. Although, I must admit, I never really complained about the graphics. I know the non-FMV stuff wasn't perfect, but kind of blocky/not smooth, but that never affected the love I have for this game. Apparently the "remake" is coming for all (current gen) consoles and on Steam. It might be something I get, I'm not sure, I'll have to wait and see. Hopefully it won't cost very much (I doubt it will).

What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments!

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/final-fantasy-viii-is-finally-getting-remastered-not-a-remake-10579979/?fbclid=IwAR0y521_15LDMOKKNvKLijkTK2w4DBwjuauKMxJ6w0NuTgOe49qilBbsPIs

I've already answered the "why" of this, so if you want to know, check out the comment section of my post here: https://cheerfulghost.com/GregoPeck/posts/4095/alienware-aurora-r4-5-years-later#comment19696

For the first time in over 5 years, maybe even a decade, I'm building myself a new PC. Probably for the first time ever, I'm building an Intel CPU based PC (I used to build AMD ones). I bought my last PC, which was definitely an expensive beast, but I had the money for it. At the time, I also really wanted some top of the line hardware. That was a good Alienware computer for the last 4-5 years, but the time has come to move on.

Last month, I found a new-to-me YouTube channel, JayZTwoCents, which I strongly suggest you check out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkWQ0gDrqOCarmUKmppD7GQ

Because of Jay, I learned a lot and got a little familiar with some websites and brands. For starters, he helped me find www.pcpartpicker.com. You can visit the site to see "my new build" here: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/GregoPeck/saved/RpGhgs

That site gives you the categories of parts you'll need to build a complete PC and in those categories you can search for individual parts. There are a lot of options to search with, making it easier to find exactly what you're looking for. Once you've found a part, the website will tell you where you can go to get it (NewEgg.com and Amazon.com are two of the main places you'll see, but there are others). As I did above, you can also share your builds with others. Also, the site gives you an estimated wattage of your build, so you'll know how much you'll need from a power supply. There's also a section of your own inventory where you can add parts that you already have. The site will also help you search for compatible parts and warn you if you've selected some things with compatibility issues.

This build costs under $700 according to the website. Part of why it's not extremely expensive (other than the budget I gave myself) is because I have parts I plan on reusing, like the CPU cooler I bought last month. I also have a great keyboard and mouse to use along with storage devices (one new SSD and one old HDD). I also bought a GTX 1660 Ti last month. I could probably have saved some money by reusing the Alienware's PSU, but I figured I'd go ahead and get a new one. I could have also chosen to leave out the monitor, but the one I've chosen is a surprisingly excellent value for new-to-me monitor/panel technology. I found this build to be cheaper on Amazon than NewEgg, so that's where I've ordered all of my parts. However, the full ATX motherboard wasn't available soon enough for me, so I've chose the microATX version.

The main search criteria I used was for parts with 5 star/highest ratings. I also searched for the particulars that I was looking for, and then I sorted by price. I kind of had my own idea of what limits I had for the budget. I really didn't feel like spending more than $300 for any part, particularly the CPU and monitor.

I've decided to go with a non-overclocking set up, because I'm not interested in overclocking. I realize overclocking has come a long way over the years, but there are a few things about it I don't like. One has to play the "silicon lottery" and hope that they get a chip they can OC well. OC'd chips draw more power and run at hotter temps and I'm just not sure that it's really worth it. I have an i7-4820k in the Alienware and feel like I couldn't settle for less than another i7. So, I've chosen the i7-8700. I'm not sure if I would notice a change in going from a 4th gen i7 to an 8th or 9th gen i5 or comparable AMD CPU. I'm not even sure if I'll notice a change in going from the 4820k to the 8700. As such, I've also picked out a compatible motherboard. I would really like to get a 9th gen i7 or even an i9, but I'm working with a limited budget. Those parts are a bit more expensive and probably excessive for my use-case.

I've been running with 16GB of RAM for the last 5 years or so and I don't see a need to change it. I'm not sure if I'd notice more or less RAM and I'm not sure if I'll notice the faster DDR4 (as opposed to the DDR3 in the Alienware) RAM I'm getting for this build. Since the Alienware has spoiled me in this area, I don't want less than 16GB of RAM.

JayZTwoCents made me aware of the Fractal Design brand and I have chosen one of their blue cases. I like what I see (pictures and descriptions). It comes with two front fans, which is definitely nice. The motherboard I've ordered has 4 headers for fans and I know my CPU cooler is going into one of them. But, it looks like I'll be able to add more fans, which I wasn't able to do with the Alienware. I'm hoping for positive airflow and max air cooling, since my GPU is air-cooled.

I've ordered an EVGA 600W 80+ Bronze ATX PSU. It might actually be over kill for my system, but I'm sure it will be ok. I am familiar with EVGA and like their products. I was looking at other PSUs, particularly from Corsair, which is another brand I use and enjoy, but I just picked one and went with it. The reviews for all PSUs I looked at on Amazon had plenty of negativity, so it was difficult to choose.

Again, I learned about some new-to-me monitor/panel technology from JayZTwoCents. Apparently, I will notice the difference with the monitor I've ordered for this build. It has 144hz refresh rate, it has FreeSync, but is apparently G-Sync compatible (I'll have to test that), and it has a 1ms response time. It's only 1080p, but I'm ok with that. I'm definitely not interested in the more expensive and hardware taxing of 4K (and we're soon moving onto 8K supposedly).

I'm glad I still have the Artic MX-4 thermal paste I bought last month, because I'm going to need it for this new build. The CPU cooler came with thermal paste already applied, but I'm sure I'm going to need to reapply thermal paste for use on the new CPU.

I might update this post with an edit or something in the comments section as the parts arrive and I get it built and running. Feel free to share your builds or PC building experience or PC specs in the comments below.

If you haven't heard of Honest Game Trailers before, you're in for a treat! I found this online recently and watched most of them. They seriously made me LOL! So, they are funny, but in a way they also kind of make our favorite games look dumb, kind of like how Pokemon games repeat the same formula, but we keep buying them. Still, these are pretty funny, so I thought I'd share them with you. I'm including a playlist link, but you'll find Honest Trailers for many of the games we love like Minecraft, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, Animal Crossing, Mega Man, Star Fox, Metroid, Castlevania, Pokemon, and many more! Check out the playlist and prepare to laugh: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHkNwtRZFo2g74tWgElcOO2T3WWbN7Aga

GregoPeck gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
GregoPeck gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
This winter, I played Conan Exiles. However, I neglected to write a post about it, so here it is (assuming I can remember it well enough).

I first noticed Conan Exiles on YouTube. There were a few channels that I follow that had game play of it. I began to watch the first video in a series, but didn’t finish the video. Something about it just didn’t look appealing. It was pretty much the UI. So initially, the game didn’t look like something I’d be interested in, so I ignored it for a while.

I did notice some of my friends on Steam were playing it. I eventually decided to watch the series posted by Sl1pg8r that I had started. I ended up watching the whole series and yet I still was unsure about whether or not I really wanted to get the game. I think part of that (or maybe most of that) was because I didn’t feel like paying full price ($60) for a game. So, I put it on my wish lists and waited. Eventually, I found it for about half price (on Humble Bundle, I think), so I decided to get it. I don’t regret doing that and am glad I saved some money.

Just from the sound of it, Conan Exiles actually sounds like a game I would be into. It contains crafting, building (a base), fighting, survival, boss fights, tiered gear (weapons, armor, and tools) taming (or slavery in this game), and boss fights. It sounds similar to the Minecraft, Terraria, and Ark: Survival Evolved formula that I’ve come to love and desperately want more of. In hindsight, I think it actually fits well alongside those games.

The game can be played in single player mode or online with friends on a server. I played single player mode, as is my norm. The single player game is a little more difficult, but not impossible. There are levels of difficulty you can choose. If you select the easiest one, you will not drop all items when you die. However, if you select a more difficult one you will, although you can actually edit a config file and toggle the drop all items upon death penalty.

There are a few different races you can pick. There are also a variety of religions, I think they each have their own bonuses or characteristics. You’ll spawn in the desert at the beginning, naked (if you selected that option) or mostly naked with nothing. Conan comes to take you off the cross/stake you’re hanging on and then leaves. From here you want to gather some resources like stones, sticks of wood, and twine (or fiber). You will use these to craft your first equipment (outfit/armor, weapons, and especially tools). You’ll find your way out of the desert easily enough and reach an area that some players call “Sanctuary.” There’s a river here, but there are also monsters, people, and animals (like crocodiles).

From there, you’ll want to find a good spot to call home. You’ll want to craft your first straw bed (or mattress) to set a (temporary, I think) respawn point, otherwise you’ll respawn in the desert where you started. Then, you’ll want to use the tools you’ve made to mine and harvest more materials so that you can get started on your first base. Once that’s done, you’ll have shelter and be safe during sand storms.

As I mentioned there are some “monsters” around. There are some that look kind of like humans or zombies, they’re not incredibly dangerous, but if one spots you, it will attack you. You may also run into some people, but these people are not your friend. There are a variety of people all over the map that, again, are not friendly. This, however, is where the taming (slavery) aspect comes in to play. You can actually knock them out and drag them to a Wheel of Pain, which will break their will and bend them towards yours. Once they’re “tamed” (enslaved) they become thralls and each has a specialty. For instance, some are Armorers, which can be added into a slot in your armor workstation and boost production or quality of armor. There are others and they come in different levels. Level 4 thralls are the highest and they are named. These are the ones you really want, but they are the most difficult to get and find.

Depending on some game options, or level of difficulty, you’ll eventually have to fend off hordes of thralls or creatures attacking your base. I played on the easiest level of difficulty and had this feature turned off, so I can’t speak much of it from personal experience. This event is apparently one of the most common ways to find those named level 4 thralls. You can also spawn them in if you use the command console.

Your armor, weapons, tools, and workstations can be upgraded over time. Well, “upgraded” is the wrong term to use, more like “replaced with something made of better material.” It’s kind of like in Minecraft, Terraria, and Ark where you start out with wood and make your way to iron (although that’s not specifically what happens in Conan Exiles, it’s just a game play example). As you progress, you’ll find different materials and be able to use them to craft better things.

There is also experience and levels. You also have traits you can unlock (similar to Ark’s engram system). However, you won’t have enough points to unlock everything, so it’s helpful to have others around who’ve learned different abilities. However, you can make a potion to reset these attributes.

There are a variety of points on the map you can discover. There is an achievement for discovering all of these, which I have completed, although this task is kind of difficult even with a map because there are (or were at the time) some bugs. However, there is at least one mod that remedies this and a command you can use to teleport to any of these areas. You can find different materials in different areas along with different creatures. Some places you may revisit, while others you may never visit or go back to. You’ll discover many of these just within your regular game play. There are a few different zones that are basically different biomes, such as the jungle, frozen area, volcano, and deep desert. These also contain different things like resources and creatures.

Since I mentioned a bug, it’s a good time to bring that topic into this discussion. There are (or were when I played) some bugs in the game (and I don’t mean the large ones that you can kill lol). There are, however, some ways around these bugs. Development of the game seems to be on-going (at least the last time I checked) and you can report bugs or find them via Google, usually on the forums. As I said, there’s also at least one mod that remedies a bug, but you might run into more and you can of course report them. I had an achievement I was trying to get where it says to “cripple an enemy.” I read that one way of giving this debuff was by shooting them in the legs, so I did and the enemies I shot were crippled. However, this is not the way the game wants you to accomplish this. It requires you use a power attack (instead of regular attack) with a certain weapon (sword, I think). Power attacks use more stamina, but they can add debuffs to your enemies.

As I mentioned development, there are actually two versions of the game that you can (or do) get. One of them is called a “testlive client” in which the developers will add features or fix bugs and those that wish to test that fresh build of the game can do so. Otherwise, you’d have to wait until something is done with their testing phase for it to make it into the base game. This might be something some people are interested in as new features (and possibly bugs) come as soon as the developers have created something. They can report on bugs or give feedback to the developers, who will eventually publish these new things to the base game. Different games have something similar to this, but usually you have to subscribe to the beta.

A quick note, I did like the music in the game. Now, there are bosses and they can be difficult to tackle alone, but they’re not impossible. They can give you new things. One boss grants you the ability to learn how to craft the armor it was wearing, for example. There are also kind of mini bosses in the world that are more difficult than their regular counterparts. There’s a white tiger, an elephant, a rhino, a giant spider, a giant snake and more. If you defeat these, they will drop a key. You then use this key to open up certain treasure chests in the world, which will give you a random Legendary level weapon (I’m not sure if they give tools an armor, I don’t think so). If you want to collect them all, you can wait for the creature to respawn, defeat it again, get another key, and open the chest again (after it kind of respawns). It is slightly annoying that what you get is random. I liked using one-handed swords, so I was looking for the Legendary one. I think I eventually got it (and the shield), but before that I got duplicates of everything else. This is a challenge to complete, but it’s quite satisfying when you figure out the right strategy to defeat the mini boss. One actually spawned in with a duplicate of itself (a bug). However, I was able to beat them both by circling around the area and attacking them while they were slightly above me. For the white tiger, I learned (other than having good armor and a good weapon) to block, attack, block, attack, and repeat that until it was dead. That thing is quick!

There are resources spread out all over the map, so it is wise to have multiple bases. Maybe you want to collect some yellow flowers for a potion, you’ll want a base closer to them. Or maybe you’ll looking for a level 3 or 4 thrall, you’ll want to make a base closer to them and wipe them out until you find what you’re looking for or wait for them to respawn if you don’t (they respawn rather quickly). There are some dungeons, not too huge, which contain different enemies (like skeletons) and bosses.

I think that pretty much covers it (from my memory). I think it’s a good game and I enjoyed playing it even though I stumbled upon a few bugs. If you don’t want to pay full price for it, then put it on a wishlist and wait for it to go on sale, so you can get a better deal. Is it worth full price? Yeah, I guess so. I don’t think I would have regretted paying full price and I easily could have, I just didn’t feel like it.

Oh, I’d also like to mention that there are some tricky areas, like the frozen area and volcano. I’s really hot in the volcano, so you have to make sure you’re wearing the right kind of armor to keep from overheating. There’s a set you can also wear to reduce the amount of stamina you use while climbing (yes, this is similar to Breath of the Wild). There’s also an area where it’s freezing and, again, you’ll want to wear appropriate armor. There are a few areas of water you can get into. One of which is a great place for finding gold.

Also, I’d like to mention some of the higher tier resources. One of them is very difficult to get, because you have to wait for meteors to fall in the frozen biome. You then have to use explosives (or lots of fire) to break open the shell to reveal the material you need to mine. There are also a couple of forges in the frozen and volcano biomes you’ll need to visit if you want to craft certain pieces of gear. Obviously, again, you’ll want to go prepared to survive the temperature and creatures within.

Oh! There’s a new game called Conan Unconquered. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be a strategy game that’s kind of (like or basically) a tower defense game where you have to defend your base from hordes of creatures. I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll get into, but if I do, perhaps I’ll let you know eventually.

Anyway, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask or share them in the comments section below.

It is time to give a status update on the Alienware Aurora R4 that I got a little over 5 years ago. The reason for this is because of it's current condition and some things I think fellow Alienware Aurora R4 owners may need to know. Although if you own an Alienware/Dell or heck any PC, some of this may be relevant to you.

I remember how learning about PC technology was a big thing in my teens. I grew up as a kid with a Commodore 128d, but we got our first Acer PC in 1995. Wow, what a change! I had gotten a little advanced with the Commodore. I knew how to program it, basically (pun not intended....BASICally), and I began to learn about it's hardware (300 baud modem yay!). The PC was a step up and jump into a new world. I continued to visit my favorite BBSes, while at the same time learning more about Windows and PCs in general. As I got older, I learned more, bought more computers, and was actually able to upgrade them. I seem to recall a time when I had 12MB (yes MB!) of RAM. Wow, those were the days! Haha. Eventually, I was building my own. However, at the time, I was pretty much "an AMD guy." I even wrote a paper in college about AMD Vs. Intel (and why I believed AMD was superior). It seemed to me that AMD was using newer, better technology (RISC), and they're CPUs were cheaper. It wasn't until about 5 years ago that all changed.

In early 2014, I posted here on Cheerful Ghost that I was thinking about a PC upgrade, a new build or a new buy (you can see that post here: https://cheerfulghost.com/GregoPeck/posts/1888/thinking-about-a-pc-upgrade). I did a little research and came up with what I wanted for hardware (Intel i7, GTX 690). I realized that the hardware I wanted was expensive, but I had some money to spend, so I wasn't too worried about it. However, I decided that it would probably be cheaper to actually just buy a PC. This was in part, because of the cost of Windows. So, I decided to "save some money" and buy an Alienware Aurora R4. However, I paid a lot for it, more than I've ever paid for a PC, so it seems my "save some money" logic kind of failed. In part it was because I really wanted an i7 and a GTX 690. I also decided on 16GB of RAM. And thus my life with my most favorite PC of all time began.

It wasn't too long before I realized that maybe I had selected the wrong GPU for this new PC of mine. Ark: Survival Evolved had just come out in Early Access and I loved it. Unfortunately the GPU wasn't up to the task. This is because the 690 is a two-in-one 4GB GPU, which means it was two 2GB GPUs working together as one (technically in SLI mode). Unfortunately, some games (particularly Ark) couldn't fully optimize the GPU. The game was only able to use half of it, sadly enough. I had to tone down the settings drastically (I think in DX10 or DX9 mode). The game really didn't look great, but I was able to play it.I had started playing on an official server and I really loved the game, but I had a strong feeling that I wanted to play the game and see it as it was meant to be played and seen. So, I decided it was time to retire the 690 and get an upgrade. My fellow players seemed to agree that a 980Ti was their best recommendation and that is what I decided to get. (You can read more about it here: https://cheerfulghost.com/GregoPeck/posts/4094/evga-geforce-gtx-980ti-6gb-classified-gaming-acx-2-0-post-mortem).

I got an EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti 6GB "Classified Gaming" with ACX 2.0+ (thermal technology).I seem to recall that one of the first games I played was Subnautica, but I didn't really get into it until about 3 years later. I really just cared that it could run Ark and it did! I was greatly impressed and loving how beautiful the game looked and that I actually had a PC that could run it. Granted, I couldn't really run it on the highest "Epic" settings, but that was for a Titan or better GPU. I really loved this GPU much more than the more expensive 690. My memory tells me I paid $400-$600 for it, but Amazon says it's still for sale at about $700! Wow! How is this 3 year old GPU still worth that much? Is it really that good? Well, actually yeah, I think so.

I believe the GPU was overclocked out-of-the-box. I never did try to overclock it myself as I am not experienced with overclocking. I'm still used to the old days when doing so could be very dangerous, you could actually destroy a CPU or GPU trying to overclock it. So, I never messed with it, never tried to do it. Even though I got an overclocked GPU, I decided to let software take care of it for me. I used EVGA Precision X16, although I really only used it to control the GPU fan, which I set to 100% while gaming. At the same time I used the Alienware Command Center to set my HDD and PCIE fans to 100% while gaming as well. I didn't mind the noise.

Unfortunately, I began to pay attention to how hot the GPU was running. I eventually noticed that my GPU was running at 91c (celcius) while playing Ark and this seemed normal. I never experienced any issues that seemed as though the GPU wasn't working because it was too hot. I ran into some confirmation bias while researching the issue when I saw a post that said these GPUs run hot and it's max temp was 91-92c and if it got too hot it would throttle itself. I never applied thermal paste to a CPU or GPU before, but that was one recommendation I saw on the Internet and from a local friend. I finally bought some Arctic MX-4 from NewEgg as it's the most popular thermal paste on there and at Amazon (although it was cheaper on NewEgg and would arrive sooner). Before this, my PC actually shut itself off a few times. I did some more research about cleaning a PC (especially w/out compressed air) and used a hard plastic straw to blow some dust away and clear some fans. Later, I bought a can of compressed air at Wal-Mart and used it. However, I was watching my GPU thermals while playing Civ6 and getting nervous as it found it's way to the upper 80's (Celsius). Then, it dawned on me that I should check the CPU temperature, which I never worried about, because I had liquid cooling for it.

And there's where things ended recently. I used CPUID/HW Monitor and found out that my PC was running too hot (90c+)! I did some more research and found multiple people reporting issues with their CPU liquid cooling system. Some people had replaced their cooling system with a Corsair system. So, I ordered one, but then later decided I wanted a newer (and still compatible) model. Some people posted pictures of cooling systems that were clogged with green "goo." Luckily, they told you that you could clean them with isopropyl alcohol. I decided to take mine apart, but I didn't see any "goo." I put it back together and things seemed better, but the good "repaired" feel didn't last. I remember seeing "artifacts" on my screen (green lines, abnormalities) and the PC shut off. Finally, I was trying to get my PC on, but it would only beep at me continuously 6 times and then repeat. After more research, I found out that (at least for the Alienware Aurora R4) this meant a GPU failure. So, I took the 980Ti out and put in the 690. It came on the but 690 displayed different "artifacts" (white lines). I took the GPU out, tried to turn on the PC and again it beeped at me the same (it does this if you have a bad GPU or if there is no GPU).

I did notice the bottom of the two GPUs (the point of contact to the PCIE slot) was wet. I didn't see why or how. I even took the 980 apart, but didn't seem to find the source. However, I did later see the liquid cooler drop some water onto the PC while the GPU was out. So, I think this is how the PCIE slot got wet. I finally got it dried and tried the GPUs again, but it would only beep 6 times again with the 980 and the 690 still had white lines. So, I tried the 8800 I had in an old computer and it worked. So, it seems I have one definitely dead GPU and another damaged one. The 8800 seems fine, but it only has less than a gig of VRAM, crazy! So, I thought I need a new GPU and liquid cooler for the CPU.

I seriously started to think about getting a new computer, but I really didn't want to. This Alienware has spoiled me. I really love it and don't want to be without it. I went to Wal-Mart to look at their PCs, but I knew I wouldn't find anything, because I had looked at them weeks or months ago and scoffed at them. I'd look at the system specs and say aloud "are you kidding me?!" The "gaming" HP PC had an Intel i3 or i5! It also had maybe a 3GB VRAM GPU. It was only about $600, but there's no way it could come anywhere close to my Alienware w/ it's i7! Looking online was disappointing. Even though this computer isn't exactly worth what it was 5 years ago, it's still expensive (or rather over $1,000)! I couldn't get an affordable one with the specs I wanted (i7, 16GB RAM, 6GB GPU, etc.). It blew my mind that even though I spent a lot of money on this PC 5 years ago and then again 3 years ago (GPU upgrade), it was still a beast! I wouldn't mind having an i9 even though I don't know about them, but even an i7 means an expensive PC and there's no way I could possibly settle for an i5. So, basically I decided that my PC was just fine (specs wise) and I would be very happy if I could just get it running again even with most of the same hardware/components. I didn't need a new computer nor did I need an upgrade. However, I needed to replace some parts, which should save me some money. Although at this point, I've ordred almost everything except for a CPU and PSU (power supply unit).

I did run into a problem when it would not POST nor beep. I did some research, tried some things to no avail. I figured the motherboard must have fried with the wet GPU socket, so I ordered one on Amazon, but it was about $200. I really don't want to have to replace the motherboard, although it doesn't look as complicated (in the manual) as it seems. I may do it just because I know I have one or two USB ports on the back that no longer work (I have two on the front that have issues to due to water damage last year). During this whole time I did not test all the components and that was my mistake. I assumed too much. I reseated the CMOS battery multiple times and made sure that the PSU was good (it is, there's a way to test it for these computers). I thought everything else was fine, it had to be the CPU or motherboard, right? Well my mistake lied in my assumption. I actually watched a video on YouTube called "How to Repair a Dead Computer" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz9pMKy9Mbs&t=1824s). I was actually surprised that even though I am an experienced IT tech support guy, I learned something from this video. I had already taken out all of my RAM when the PC was not beeping nor POSTing and it beeped twice, which meant that RAM was missing. I put the RAM back in and it went back to no beeps no POST. But, after I watched this video (spoilers!), I thought "hm, that's one thing I didn't try" and it actually worked!! By removing and replacing individual RAM sticks, I found out that one of them was causing my problem. Here I assumed my RAM was all good, but apparently something happened to it. I figured one stick would be cheap, but I couldn't find (on Amazon or NewEgg) a stick of RAM that was exactly the same (same brand, same specs., etc.). I did a little research and concluded that it's probably either not good nor optimal to mix brands of RAM. I'd rather have all of them exactly the same and working together. So, I ordered a 16GB kit on Amazon.

So, here I sit borrowing a laptop that has a hard drive that's completely full and doesn't have space even for Windows Updates. (Wow!) I'm actually writing this post in Notepad! I can't wait to get my PC back up and running again. It really is hard to believe that a 5 year old computer could still be decent. Although, after reading my post history here, I found out that I had said the previous PC I built was 7 years old. I feel like I'm more used to the days where every few years a new computer was kind of necessary. I think at that time technology just progressed so steadily. It reminds me of Moore's Law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law). I wonder if technology has slowed down at all or if it's still going at the same pace. Maybe as I grow older time gets taken into different perspectives. 5 years as a kid is a long time, but it passes so quickly when you're reaching 40.

Would I recommend an Alienware PC? Yeah, pretty much. If you have the money and don't want to build one yourself, sure. You can actually buy a refurbished version of my PC (with a different GPU) on NewEgg for under $1000. I didn't see it when I was looking for a new computer, otherwise I might have just bought it. Right now, I don't know that I'm ready to mark up how much this repair is costing me. I can just be glad that I can do it and that I have pretty much solved the puzzle of "what's wrong with my PC?" Here's to hoping the CPU is still undamaged. Well, even if I have to replace every part of my PC, I think it's worth it.

While there are arguments for building your own PC and not buying from a manufacturer like Dell or HP, there are some advantages such as warranty and tech support. My PC is now out of warranty (and so is the 980Ti), so I cannot freely rely on tech support. Although I did email EVGA requesting instructions on how to reapply thermal past to my out of warranty GPU. I got a reply saying there is no such "guide" or instructions, but I could find something on YouTube. He even sent me a link to a YouTube video I had already watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDLQ7FjPMf8). He could have just said "you're out of warranty, I can't help you", but apparently EVGA has good customer service. I can also attest to Amazon's excellent customer service. One more advantage to buying from a manufacturer, even if it's an older or refurbished PC, you can easily find resources online to help you figure out what's wrong. In my experience there are plenty of people out there who have the same PC as I do and have had similar problems with similar solutions. Luckily, parts also still exist for it on Amazon and NewEgg, making this rebuild possible. I can't wait to breathe new life into my PC.

Want to share your PC specs? How often do you buy or build a new PC? Do you buy or build? Who do you buy (PCs or parts) from? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!

I'm replacing so many parts! I wanted to include links for you, so check them out below. I found a pretty cool YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/Jayztwocents/). While I am an experienced IT guy and quite knowledgeable when it comes to computers (most people know me for that and often ask me some kind of computer question or for tech support), I'm actually learning! The more I learn, the more I want to do with my rebuild. So, although my HDD seems fine, I've decided to make the jump to SSD. These (along with other technologies) are apparently cheaper now and definitely worth getting. With this I won't have to sit around waiting for Windows or my games to load. Luckily, too, it seems easy to install Windows 10 on a new SSD, if you already have it installed on a HDD, because you have a digital activation that is stored on Microsoft servers. So, it seems, there's no need to buy a new copy of Windows or purchase a new key if you've already activated one. (Good job Microsoft!)

I'm running out of money, but I'm also very tempted to upgrade my monitor and get into high refresh gaming. I haven't experienced it yet, which is why my basic 60hz/60fps gaming is fine w/ me, I may decide to make that jump, too, although I may wait on it a bit.

I may come back and update this post as I install my new (or new-ish) parts, or if I find that I want or need another part.

I forgot to share with you the other parts I've ordered for this PC rebuild. Here they are:

The same motherboard that's in my PC (which I may actually send back as mine seems to be working):

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, HDB Fan Graphics Card
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NBHXKK6/ref=twister_B07PQNCT3B?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
EVGA Product Page: https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=06G-P4-1263-KR

Corsair Hydro 80i v2 Liquid CPU Cooler

A-Tech 16GB RAM kit (a replacement, not an upgrade)

ICY DOCK 2.5" to 3.5" SATA 6Gb SSD & Hard Drive Converter / Adapter / Bracket -Black
(Model: MB882SP-1S-1B)

WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB PC SSD - SATA III 6 Gb/s, 2.5"/7mm - WDS100T2B0A

Today it grieves me dearly that I must report that my newest, most favorite GPU, has died. I am now realizing I've only had it for about 3 years, but it feels like I've had it much longer. Before I get into things about it, I'd like to get back to a bit of an introduction to my beastly Alienware Aurora R4.

When I was inexperienced (and pretty much in my teens), I bought computers. I grew more experienced and I remember occasionally finding more RAM that I could fit into my PC, I think I remember a time when I had 12mb (yes mb!). Some time after that, I began to build my own. I pretty much went with AMD CPUs as they were cheaper and seemingly superior. In fact, I wrote a paper in college on AMD Vs. Intel and why I thought AMD was superior. However, things changed. About 5 years ago I was looking into buying or building a new PC. I ended up deciding that the parts I wanted were too expensive and that it might be cheaper to buy a PC. I bought an Alienware Aurora R4 for a lot of money, which kind of seems to negate the logic I came to. Haha. However, this post is not about the PC itself (I plan to write one up for it soon), this is about the GPU.

Before I got the Aurora, I was running a PC I built myself with an AMD CPU and a GeForce 8800 (which has less than a gig of RAM). I'm pretty sure I thought I had a good computer back then, but looking back I think it's pretty terrible! The Aurora completely spoiled me, but again I'm kind of saving that for later. So, back to the GPU. I wasn't all too familiar w/ GPUs and I wasn't really doing any heavy gaming, just Minecraft, Terraria, and Starcraft 2, pretty much. I probably didn't need a super PC or GPU, but one (of each) really caught my attention.

For some reason the beastly GTX 690 became what I wanted. Yeah it was a $1,000 GPU, but I had some extra money. Maybe it's that price tag that gave much so much confidence in it. So, when I ordered the Aurora, I selected the 690 as my GPU. When I got the PC, I felt pretty great. However, it didn't take too long before I realized the downside of the 690. Looking back, I now feel foolish for selecting that GPU, but hind sight is always 20/20, isn't it? What I didn't fully realize is that while the GPU has 4GB (I scoff at that now) of VRAM, it's really two 2GB GPUs built into one. When it came time to play Ark: Survival Evolved in Early Access, I quickly learned that my newly beloved beast of a GPU couldn't do what I wanted it to do, so I had to run it in lower settings (DX10 or DX9 mode I think). This made the game much less attractive, but I was able to play. Having 2 GPUs in one sounds good, at least until you realize that not all games can actually utilize such a configuration. Ark was one of those games, which could only access half of my video card. I was disappointed. So, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

I was playing Ark on an official server, wishing I could play it the way it was meant to be played, and how it was supposed to look. So, I asked my fellow players what kind of GPU they would recommend. They all pretty much agreed that a GTX 980Ti would be what I want and after just a little bit of research, I agreed with them. Luckily, I had some extra money so the near $600 price tag didn't bother me too much. My memory tells me I paid $400-$600, but if you look (at the link provided above) on Amazon, it's still selling for almost $700!

It's interesting to me that a card I bought 3 years ago is still selling for the same price! Perhaps a used one could be found for cheaper, but I have a strong preference for new products (they come w/ warranty, you know what you're getting, no real surprises, they're easily exchangeable, etc.). Wow, what a beast though! If this GPU is still worth that much after all these few years, it has to be good, right? Well, yeah pretty much actually!

Before I bought the 980Ti, I really wanted a Titan, but I didn't have that $1,000 to spend on a new GPU, so I had to go for something cheaper. I seem to recall seeing that it is comparable to a Titan and can preform very well. I can actually now attest to its performance, although keep in mind I don't do 4K high-rest gaming. My simple Dell monitor is locked at 59-60hz, so I pretty much don't expect more than 60fps, but I do expect 60fps. It did that beautifully, actually. I don't recall a game that gave me any problems with this GPU.

I remember when I got it. One of the first games I played w/ it was Subnautica. I didn't really get too into the game at the time, though I did about 3 years later. My main concern was how would this GPU handle Ark and it really impressed me. I don't think I was able to run it at the highest "EPIC" settings, but those settings were designed for a Titan (or better). Still, Ark performed and looked beautiful to me now finally, I was definitely impressed and satisfied. One thing to note is that I ordered a special edition of the GPU from EVGA (hence all the stuff within the full name).

I believe it was overclocked out of the box and came with additional thermal protection (ACX 2.0+). Maybe I'm weird, but I think I do like overclocked stuff, I'm just not confident in my own ability to overclock something. I'm used to the earlier days when it seemed like a dangerous thing to do. Now it seems as though it's quite easy and actually safe to do. I pretty much left it up to software to decide how fast it actually ran. I remember it reaching about 1200mhz, but it usually ran at about 1190mhz. This didn't really mean that much to me. It performed very well, it did pretty much what I wanted to, so I wasn't really concerned with how fast it was. It also came with 6Gb VRAM, which was an improvement over the 690.

Now is where the problem comes in, pretty much thermals. I don't know exactly when I started to pay attention to how hot it was. I was using EVGA's Precision X16 to run the fans at 100%. I was also using the Alienware Command Center to run the HDD and PCIE fans at 100%, whenever I was gaming. But, the point is that I started paying attention. Earlier this year or late last year I realized that it was reaching 91c while running Ark. I did some reading and confirmation bias hit me. I found a post that said that this GPU runs hotter and can run fine at 91c and that (or 92c) was it's threshold. I read that it would throttle itself if it reached that point, so it wouldn't work too hard. So, I stopped worrying about it so much, until things happened again. My PC shut off on its own and I believed that my GPU was overheating, which was kind of correct. I never re-applied thermal paste to a CPU or GPU and had to do a bit of research on that. I finally ordered some Arctic MX-4, because it was very popular on Amazon and NewEgg. Unfortunately, something else seems to have happened and my GPU is now dead.

How do I know the 980Ti is dead? At the same time of paying attention to my GPU thermals, I realized that my CPU was overheating, too. The CPU was using a liquid cooling system, so I never really worried about it (even though it's the first of it's kind I've used or seen). At one point, I had taken the liquid cooling system apart and got it to work again. Things seemed find and to be working better, but then suddenly my PC crashed again (shut itself down). I tried to get it back on, but noticed "artifacts" on the screen, which were pretty much green lines and such oddities. After that, my PC would beep 6 times and not POST. After much researching, I learned that those 6 beeps meant that there was something wrong with the GPU. So, I brought the old 690 out and tried it. Unfortunately, it ran into some of the same trouble (artifacts). It didn't take me a while until I realized that GPUs were actually wet on their contacts with the PCIE slot and that the socket was wet or oily. I took the 980Ti apart to see what was wrong and it didn't look like it was coming fron the GPU, honestly I couldn't really tell where it came from. However, I did later notice at least one drop of water from the CPU liquid cooler, which I now think could have actually leaked onto the 980. The socket got wet, so the 690 had trouble, too. I did end up managing to dry the socket and trying again. The 980Ti was dead and the 690 was still displaying artifacts (white lines). I pull the 8880 out of an old PC and put it in and everything on the screen was fine. I also accidentally broke a fan blade on the 690.

So here I am without a working "decent" gaming GPU. However, I luckily have some extra money. While I cannot right now afford a new Alienware or beastly PC, I can actually afford to replace some parts, like the GPU. I did some research and I finally decided to buy a GTX 1660 Ti (etc. see links below). While this has the same amount of VRAM as the 980Ti, it's faster. This GPU also costs about 50% less, but is definitely newer and seemingly superior. It also seems to have much better thermal technology. It doesn't include the new RTX (ray tracing) technology, but does include the new Turing core technology. At first glance, this model does look strange. It takes up more slots than the other GPUs, but I believe I have room for it. If not, it seems pretty easy to return/refund/RMA something with Amazon and EVGA.

I'm really looking forward to the new GPU, while watching multiple videos about it. It definitely seems like a good gaming card and especially a valuable one. Perhaps in the future I will update this post or create another giving an intro to the new GPU. But for now, I have to wait for it to arrive from Amazon. I originally ordered the non-Ti edition, which arrived today, but yesterday I realized my mistake so I have a return/refund going on for it while I ordered the Ti edition.

I feel like I've learned quite a bit about GPUs lately. Learning is good. I don't fully understand all the technology involved and can't talk about it like some of the pros I see on YouTube, but I have some good basic understanding. Right now I just want my PC back to life, even if it means getting the same or relatively equal parts for the ones I have to replace.

What GPU do you have? How often do you upgrade? Do you have your eye on a certain GPU? How much are you willing to spend on a new GPU? Let me know in the comments section and we can talk about it!

Want to see what I'm talking about? Check these links:

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB CLASSIFIED GAMING ACX 2.0+, Whisper Silent Cooling w/ Free Installed Backplate Graphics Card 06G-P4-4998-KR
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010GK3YYC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
EVGA Product Page: https://www.evga.com/articles/00934/EVGA-GeForce-GTX-980-Ti/

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, HDB Fan Graphics Card
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NBHXKK6/ref=twister_B07PQNCT3B?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
EVGA Product Page: https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=06G-P4-1263-KR

GregoPeck gives this an astounding "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.
GregoPeck gives this a "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.
Civ 6 is such an amazing game and a new expansion, Gathering Storm, was released a while ago. I’ve been too busy playing it, which is why I am now just getting to write about it. Civ 6 was the cure I needed, but didn’t think I wanted. I had gotten bored of video games and wasn’t sure what to do. I was hesitating to buy GS, because I didn’t really feel like playing a strategy game like Civ 6 more. However, I am absolutely glad that I bought GS. Since then, I can’t stop playing Civ 6.

The theme of GS is climate change and global warming. Cities can now be powered by coal, oil, and uranium, each having it’s own impact on the environment. You can make power plants in industrial zones, which you will need eventually as some district improvements need power to operate fully such as the stock exchange. Unfortunately, like in the real world, these power plants add CO2 into the atmosphere and cause irreparable damage. Some tiles are below sea level and will flood once CO2 levels reach a certain point. There is a new icon or place in the game where you can check to see how the environment is doing. There are also rivers that flood and volcanoes that are quite destructive.

Luckily there are ways to combat climate change (again just like in real life). You can build dams to stop the rivers from flooding (but you can do nothing to stop the volcanoes). You can therefore build hydroelectric dams, solar farms, wind farms, and offshore wind farms. Also each energy source has it’s own level of impact on the environment. Coal has a heavy impact, oil is moderate, and uranium is mild. However, uranium power plants have a chances to melt down. Because of this, I’ve never built one. You can also use the Carbon Recapture project later in the game that can actually negate all of the CO2 in the atmosphere that everyone puts in.

GS also adds the World Congress in which civs get to vote on different things. For instance, which luxury resources will be doubled, receiving more points for a certain great person, and quite a few more choices. Civs can vote for or against different things. They can spend diplomatic favor in order to sway the vote more. These can be obtained in a variety of ways. There is also a new victory condition, Diplomatic Victory. Players vote for or against which civ receives 2 diplomatic points. When a civ reaches a certain amount of points, they win a Diplomatic Victory. There are numerous ways to gain diplomatic favor and diplomatic points. One way to get 2 diplomatic points is to build the Statue of Liberty.

Another addition to the game are new civs such as the Maori, Sweden, Canada and more. The Maori are quite unique, because they start the game in the ocean and able to traverse deep ocean tiles. Their music is also quite unique. Canada is unique, too, as they can get bonus production in tundra tiles. Also, you cannot declare a surprise war on Canada and they can’t declare a surprise war on other civs.

I’ve only kind of briefly covered this expansion. I strongly suggest checking it out if you’re interested. Civ 6 is (in my opinion) one of the best games in recent years and this expansion adds more to it, making it more playable. Previously, I had looked at some of the achievements and I got some of them, but others looked too difficult to get or bother with. However, I found a great guide online that offers strategy tips for obtaining each achievement. It also made me realize that you can actually play the game in multiplayer by yourself. There is a “hot seat” mode where players can play on the same computer and just take turns using the same keyboard and mouse. It’s really cool, still fun (to play by myself), and makes some of those achievements much easier to get. For instance, one requires that you capture a settler with a Viking Longship. Instead of waiting for the AI to have a settler at a coast, you can (as one player) send a settler to the coast and (as another player) capture it. This pretty much make all achievements possible for me. I also learned how to use the command console. You need to edit a config file to enable it, but then you can hit a key to activate it. One of the commands you can use is “reveal all” which will show you everything on the map. This is incredibly handy, especially in cases where you’re trying to make sure a certain wonder or city-state is on the map. This can be done only in single player, but you can save your game, open it in multiplayer and copy some of the game configurations to recreate it. If you want to know more about this, just do some Googling. :)

Edit: If you're interested in the achievement guide I found it's here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=914286854

That guide will also kind of explain how to play multiplayer "hot seat" games by yourself, so that you don't have to wait for the AI to do something you want it to. However, from what I've read on the web it seems this mode is not available in the Switch version (PC Master Race!!!!!).

For those achievements that require certain natural wonders or city-states on the map check out this link for how to access the command console and use the "reveal all" command, extremely helpful! https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=804400692

Bonus: Here's a couple of good YouTube channels that have some great Civ videos. The first one has a playlist for a beginner's tutorial for the game (very helpful).
See Quill18: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbx1TZgxfIauUZyPuBzEwZg
See Drew Durnil: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPcABVoFfCK5gDfX0PY1KGg

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