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Thread: A Console Gamer's Year-Long Experiment With the PC

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    That Guy You Hate RPGamer Staff omegabyte's Avatar
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    A Console Gamer's Year-Long Experiment With the PC

    Over the course of the year, RPGamer's senior reviewer put aside his consoles in favor of a PC specifically designed for the living room. This is how it turned out.

    Read the article here
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    Great article! I think you highlight some of the reasons why PC gaming wasn't even something I thought about until now. My brother thinks that the new desktop he gave me will be able to keep up with new PC games for the next 4 years at least, which feels too short for it to be useful for gaming exclusively. Which is why this computer is also a big data storage unit.

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    I think steam will fix some of your issues, they have started pushing for the "big screen" which will let you play games on a TV. I think this push is due to them getting into the console wars and the rise of OUYA which could use the android version of steam.

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    Member flamethrower's Avatar
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    Adrian, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    The only PC JRPG I can think of in recent years is Recettear (2010). It's on sale on Steam now for $10 (it's probably worth $10). This is an indie Japanese game with low production value, and it's PC-exclusive. I suggest you try it. If you want to mess with keymapping for a few minutes, it can be played with a controller, but it doesn't support controllers by default. There are indie Japanese games too. We just don't get those, and still don't for the most part. I think it's because translation is expensive and for indie games (with low selling prices), the benefit for that cost is just not there.

    It's true that A and AAA Japanese titles just don't come out outside of consoles. You may want to consider non-Japanese games. There's certainly plenty of those for PC. I tend to like indie games because they're fun, cheap, and run on my 2006 system without issue. I will probably upgrade next year sometime.

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    That Guy You Hate RPGamer Staff omegabyte's Avatar
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    I think steam will fix some of your issues, they have started pushing for the "big screen" which will let you play games on a TV. I think this push is due to them getting into the console wars and the rise of OUYA which could use the android version of steam.
    I took big picture mode into account when I wrote this, but it doesn't actually have that big an impact. Yes, it makes accessing your titles more living-room friendly, but it's up to individual developers to create gamepad support when they make their PC versions. MOST do nowadays, but PC-only titles usually don't.

    The only PC JRPG I can think of in recent years is Recettear (2010). It's on sale on Steam now for $10 (it's probably worth $10). This is an indie Japanese game with low production value, and it's PC-exclusive. I suggest you try it. If you want to mess with keymapping for a few minutes, it can be played with a controller, but it doesn't support controllers by default. There are indie Japanese games too. We just don't get those, and still don't for the most part. I think it's because translation is expensive and for indie games (with low selling prices), the benefit for that cost is just not there.
    I was referring primarily to blockbuster games in that section, which is why I didn't mention stuff like Recettear (and thanks for the suggestion, but the game sounds too similar to the Atelier series to be up my alley. I've also tried another game from Carpe Fulgur, Chantelise). There are a few smaller Japanese companies that release their titles exclusively for the PC, but those are equivalent to our own indie developers most of the time. The biggest Japanese developer I can think of that develops games specifically for PC is Falcom, and they're not especially large. But even huge Japanese releases usually have delayed PC ports. Dark Souls came out over 6 months after its initial release, and Resident Evil 6 won't hit PCs til March.
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  6. #6
    Good article but I don't agree with the gamepad problem. That is easily fixed with xpadder(only costs 10 bucks) and is totally worth it.

    There may be barely any blockbuster JRPGs but there is plenty of indie stuff out there at least.
    Last edited by Pimpalicious; 12-20-2012 at 01:37 PM.

  7. #7
    I used to be a primarily PC gamer when I was a teenager in the 90s, and through most of my undergrad years. I had all the major consoles since the NES days, and I played regularly. I always saw the consoles and the Japanese Game machine, and the PC as the American Game machine.

    Fast forward to my Grad School days, moving into my own apartment for the first time and having more disposable income, I ended up finding that gaming in my living room on the couch to be much more comfortable. While I used to build my own desktop and do major overhauls every 3 or 4 years when I was younger, I haven't done a major upgrade since ~2006 when I built a machine that could run Oblivion & Crysis at the best settings, which is the same build I'm still using. Now the desktop sits in my bedroom, hardly used as anything other than a storage device.

    This generation is the first console generation where I've opted to take the console version over the PC version for numerous games. I'm a HUGE The Elder Scrolls fan, having been playing them on PC since Arena first came out. When Morrowind was delayed on the PC for those lame xboxers, and the game came out feeling tailored for the console rather than the PC, I complained. Then Oblivion came along a few years later and repeated the feeling of the PC version feeling like a port of the console game. Skyrim is the first TES game where I decided it wasn't even worth getting the PC version for (and I'm the one who likes to have all series on the same console when possible).

    I think what I want to see is a lot more integration between PC and consoles though. I was stoked when I found, quite accidentally, that when I right-click on a movie file on my desktop and my 360 is on, all the sudden I have an option to play that movie in the other room on my TV screen. How cool would it be if the same could be said of games? Maybe there is no 360/720 port, but I can just select an option to "Play this game on my 720", walk into the other room and pick up the controller.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Mur View Post
    I think steam will fix some of your issues, they have started pushing for the "big screen" which will let you play games on a TV. I think this push is due to them getting into the console wars and the rise of OUYA which could use the android version of steam.

    It really depends on the game. Some games, like the original Deux Ex or a lot of the RTS on PC do not work well with control pads, even with xpadder support.

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    I didn't learn anything! MasterChief's Avatar
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    Honestly, I've done some PC gaming, but Steam and other DRM services only serve to push me away. I've grown less trustful of DRM as time has gone by. I just like being able to stick a disc in a box and have it go without having to beg HAL for permission to play.

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  10. #10
    Interesting piece, although you could have done a lot better in quality and a little better in price than Alienware. It's just not the brand it used to be. Keep that in mind for your next purchase, because PC gaming will suck you in!

    When I saw the heading "Preorders are worth it," I assumed you were going in a different direction. Something to note, especially if one goes with Gamestop, is that retailers simply don't order a large quantity of many PC titles (the big names are the exception, rather than the rule). So, if you have an eye on that next release that isn't published by EA or Blizzard, I'd recommend preordering if not getting it digitally.

    The aforementioned gamepad fix is another quirk of PC gaming; there's almost always a solution to that kind of problem. There is just a steep learning curve for getting things to play nice together in a PC game, especially for someone new to it. Heck, I've been doing it over 20 years and I still learn something new all the time, even about games from the 90's and last decade. It just takes a little basic know-how and often some research. The resources for both are out there.
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    That Guy You Hate RPGamer Staff omegabyte's Avatar
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    Good article but I don't agree with the gamepad problem. That is easily fixed with xpadder(only costs 10 bucks) and is totally worth it.
    xpadder is actually the solution I attempted with ME3. It is NOT the same. It's not even close to the same. The analog, for example, doesn't map one to one. It's jerky and imprecise and doesn't adjust for acceleration. In the case of ME3, the HUD is also completely different in the console version, and the PC version's HUD is not controller friendly.

    Interesting piece, although you could have done a lot better in quality and a little better in price than Alienware. It's just not the brand it used to be. Keep that in mind for your next purchase, because PC gaming will suck you in!
    True, I probably could have, but I likely wouldn't have found a tower case designed like this, which is the whole reason I purchased it in the first place. I did pay a premium, yes, but as far as I'm concerned I paid for the case, not the hardware inside. This particular model is easy to open and modify, which means that if I do decide I need to upgrade, whether that's adding more RAM or swapping out the video card, it should be a relatively easy task. I'm in it for a console-like experience, which is finally possible. I've zero interest in the nitty gritty that hardcore PC gamers get into with their machines. I just want something that works out of the box.
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  12. #12
    While I agree with some of your points and I don't want to sound like I'm bashing you, I just have ask: How much do you really know about computers?

    When you talk about your PC from college, you state "its capabilities were rapidly outstripped by titles that pushed graphics hardware to its limits. I quickly abandoned using it as a gaming PC, returning to the reliability of consoles." To me, that reads more like you grossly overestimate your knowledge of computers, cranked the graphics up to the max and then gave up on PC gaming when you weren't getting 60FPS. Don't forget, even consoles used to/still suffer from framerate issues on certain games (Gradius III anyone? Or for something more recent, Bayonetta for the PS3?)

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    That Guy You Hate RPGamer Staff omegabyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by imercenary View Post
    While I agree with some of your points and I don't want to sound like I'm bashing you, I just have ask: How much do you really know about computers?

    When you talk about your PC from college, you state "its capabilities were rapidly outstripped by titles that pushed graphics hardware to its limits. I quickly abandoned using it as a gaming PC, returning to the reliability of consoles." To me, that reads more like you grossly overestimate your knowledge of computers, cranked the graphics up to the max and then gave up on PC gaming when you weren't getting 60FPS. Don't forget, even consoles used to/still suffer from framerate issues on certain games (Gradius III anyone? Or for something more recent, Bayonetta for the PS3?)
    The computer I was referring to in that particular case hit a wall when F.E.A.R came out, could barely run the demo at minimum settings. Handled Half-Life 2 just fine, which was released pretty close to it if I remember right. Crysis was also released around that time. Mid-2000's saw a lot of graphically advanced game engines release just prior to the new console generation.
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    これはメタです RPGamer Staff Quin's Avatar
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    F.E.A.R was 2005, Half-Life 2 was 2004. A lot can change in one year of PC hardware developments.

    I've previously mentioned that if the games I currently play on my PS3 were released for PC (Mostly JRPGs and Japanese developed action/fighting games like Bayonetta/Vanquish & the Blazblue series), I'd switch to buying PC versions. That said, my PS3 is currently wired into my PC setup via an HDMI capture card, so I'm often using both at once anyway.

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    I didn't learn anything! MasterChief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quin View Post
    F.E.A.R was 2005, Half-Life 2 was 2004. A lot can change in one year of PC hardware developments.
    And with it, a whole lot of money getting dipped. We don't see it as much now since big companies are making games for consoles mostly and indies aren't exactly going to demand the absolute top of the line. Buying a current gaming card can cost as much, if not more, than a whole friggin' console, and with western companies finally learning at least some friggin discipline from rising console businesses, it seems less and less worth it.

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    That Guy You Hate RPGamer Staff omegabyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quin View Post
    F.E.A.R was 2005, Half-Life 2 was 2004. A lot can change in one year of PC hardware developments.

    I've previously mentioned that if the games I currently play on my PS3 were released for PC (Mostly JRPGs and Japanese developed action/fighting games like Bayonetta/Vanquish & the Blazblue series), I'd switch to buying PC versions. That said, my PS3 is currently wired into my PC setup via an HDMI capture card, so I'm often using both at once anyway.
    That's part of my point though. In the past, one year could make a huge difference in PC hardware. Now, though, it's less severe, and that's mainly because of the multiplatform model. The console versions keep the minimum specs down, which means PC hardware is viable for longer periods. If we were in the same situation as we were 7 or 8 years ago, my little living room PC would probably be obsolete in the next few months and would need an upgrade or replacement. However, unless the new console generation also brings with it a huge increase in graphics tech (and I'm skeptical that it will - I doubt many devs can afford that kind of investment), it might even be solid for the next two or three years.

    Standardization is the best thing that's ever happened to PC gaming, and I think is the main reason why it's become so successful lately.
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    Thanks for your article. It must have been so interesting, that I registered forum account - long time reader, first time poster...

    I wanted to comment on your article partly because I've moved away from consoles over the last three years. The current generation of consoles was total disappointment for me and there were lot's of PC games that I missed. To be fair, it's probably easier or more common to make such a move in Europe - in Germany, the PC is still the platform of the majority of gamers.
    But the downfall in quality of JRPGs over the last years would have been unbearable even in less favourite circumstances. And the majority of console games are now action focussed. So I decided to get a new windows machine, when the old iMac gave up. But I went for a different route than you - and I think there lies the reason for your slight disappointment.
    Quote Originally Posted by omegabyte View Post
    I'm in it for a console-like experience, which is finally possible. I've zero interest in the nitty gritty that hardcore PC gamers get into with their machines. I just want something that works out of the box.
    This sums up your mindset, of which I already thought when I read your article. It determined which PC you bought and what games you thought it should deliver. Sadly you can't capture what PC gaming means for most of its defenders that way. And I don't think you need to get fully hardcore ore anything like that. But at least for me, the experience of building my own PC (with a lot of help from the internet and my wife) was the great beginning. True, it's not easy, but you can't make a lot of mistakes. And after a process of 3-4 hours you have built something that is designed to match exactly your expectations. And it's a lot cheaper (and can still look gorgeous) than any pre-built machine you can order.

    Secondly you looked for games that are also on your console. But why would you do that - you already have a console. And the graphical differences are most times negligible. On he contrast, there are genres that aren't really on the console. And there are even RPG experiences you can't have on a console. Even a game like Skyrim is vastly different on a PC because of the ability to use mods. What makes PC gaming appeal to me is what others may call 'work' - the ability to get more out of the game, to have a 'deep' (not in the sense of immersive stories, but in the sense of an immersive system) gaming experience. Sometimes this can create a metagame of wikis, FAQs, and so on - but even when I'm staying below such stuff - there is a vast catalogue of games to be explored. For me this meant rediscovering strategy games that were and still are mostly absent on consoles.

    The last point I wanted to bring up is the gaming environment. While I like the option of having a PC plugged to my tv, I don't think this would be a good entry point into PC gaming. Keyboard and mouse are so much part of the experience are there aren't enough good alternatives for them. Also I somehow don't get what's wrong with gaming on a 'small' monitor - most people sit nearer to their PC monitor that they would to a TV. And usually most people play alone, so the great hardware that they might have in their living room (a great TV and perhaps even a decent soundsystem) is disproportionate. If it's there anyway (because one has a home theatre set up), the option of playing PC games in that environment is a nice bonus. There are even some options of using the normal desktop PC (perhaps even standing in another room) in that environment. But I don't think there is a way around to say it: PC gaming requires a desk.

    In my mind the PC doesn't have to be equivalent to consoles. And I don't think it should. On the other hand I don't think that consoles should emulate PCs just to get their advantages. I still don't like the idea of having to update the system software of a console...
    Last edited by Ganesh; 12-21-2012 at 03:04 AM.

  18. #18
    RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff Jmustang1968's Avatar
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    Interesting take. I have been both a PC gamer and console gamer all throughout my gaming life, so I have an appreciation for both. Consoles are holding back some of the technical advancement of recent PC releases. However, I think with the issues with Crysis when it came out, it dawned on developers to not diminish their customer base by making a game that only a small percentage of home computers could play. The graphical and technical arms race in PC development has subsided some to allow more people to play the games.

    Even with the next gen consoles coming out, it won't significantly up the cost of a gaming PC. Current gaming PCs are leaps and bounds above what the PS3/360 can do, and consoles have a large gap to cross to even get in the same ballpark. I think the next gen will get them somewhat close to a mid-range gaming PC.

    In most cases, I still feel the superior version of a multi-platform release is to be found on the PC. Frame-rate and textures being the predominant factor. I also usually prefer the mouse and keyboard over a controller for most games. Mass Effect seems like it would lend itself well to a mouse and keyboard set up. For home living room setups, you can get a lap desk type of item to assist with having a surface for your mouse while on the couch/recliner. I can see how console only gamers would resist making the switch to the mouse & keyboard, but for many games, especially shooters and strategy games, the mouse & keyboard offers unparalleled control and precision.

  19. #19
    News Director/Reviewer RPGamer Staff Severin Mira's Avatar
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    In releation to some of the points above, there is a bit of a parallel to the argument about handhelds that it needs to be as close to the console experience as possible, to which the immediate question is "why?". Which, other than trying to piggyback on all the money that CoD etc. make, I haven't seen much of an answer to.

    Going the other way, a lot of the PC games don't emulate a console experience because it does sully the experience in some way. I don't want to play Football Manager on the console, and a lot of simulation or strategic games (e.g. Total War, Hearts of Iron and the other Paradox games) really would struggle. We are an RPG centric site though so I guess it doesn't make much sense for us to really look at the "which genres work better" angle, but you can certainly look what mouse+keyboard can offer over the gamepad for a few RPGs
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    Member Kiralyn's Avatar
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    Personally, I've been playing computer games since since 1980 (starting with rpgs like Ultima 1 and Wizardry 1) and messing around with consoles almost the same amount of time (although I didn't actually own one until the PS1).

    For me, I consciously divide the games I play on each platform - something that I think of as a "console" game, or that needs to be played with a controller.... I play on console. Computer games are to be played with mouse & keyboard. The whole "stick my PC in the living room, and play it on the TV while lounging on the couch" scene isn't my thing. So I divide up games in my head - JRPGs? Console. WRPGs? Computer. FPS, RTS, Strategy? Computer. Platformer, racer, fighting? Console.

    The only real place this annoys me is with console FPS's..... I can't remotely play those with a controller. Makes me wish they either ran on PC, or I could hook up a keyboard & mouse to my PS3.



    And while I have built a PC (just this last year), I definitely didn't enjoy it. Too stressful. Being able to buy a box and have it work is nice. (Messing with the software on it is a different issue, I'm mostly OK with that. Heh.)



    edit: and somehow, through all this time, I've managed to completely avoid handhelds. Both console (PSP, GB, etc) and computer (iPad, iPhone, Android). No, wait - I did have a Microvision waaaaay back in the day.
    Last edited by Kiralyn; 12-21-2012 at 06:15 AM.

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