Jitesh's Domain

Game Designer. Producer. Gamer.


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Currently Playing – The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine

The Game

I’m pretty sure by now, most of the readers have already played Witcher 3… or at least have heard about this gem. I finished the main game about 2 years ago and clocked in ~100 hours! For me, this game is without a doubt, one of the finest RPGs of this generation. It just does so many things right.

This post isn’t about what makes the game great, it is about how the game provides multitude of game settings that players can make use of to further intensify the entire game experience by making it more immersive (personalize to your liking). Some of you might know about this, as the game is a little old now… to me though, after trying some settings that I’ve mentioned down below, I can vouch for the increased ‘fun’ the whole thing brings.

How I used to play?

I directly delved into the game by making minimal adjustments to the game settings (apart from visuals and audio) and finished the main game in ‘Blood and Broken Bones’ difficulty. It was an excellent experience.

This is how I played the game (~100+hours):

Witcher3_SettingsON

Take a note of the contents in the RED BOX.

The game itself is exceptionally beautiful, with lots of details in terms of the way interactions work, the way in which the world feels real with some truly well designed geography (with noticeable locations, terrains and points of interests).

Now, with no changes made to the game settings and keeping them at default, this is how it (over)populates the HUD. Unfortunately, I noticed the problem after countless hours of gameplay. Not really a problem per se, more of an hindrance. Everything inside the RED BOX is meant to simplify exploration and ease the players into the game. Give better, detailed directions to what, where, when and so on. In short, easing by hand-holding. Once we start playing the game this way, naturally we progress quicker and feel great about it. However, after paying close attention, we realize that by playing this way, our eyes are mostly focused at the RED BOX. Especially, glued to the glorious, beautiful, rotating, mini-map. This is when, we stop ‘truly playing the game’ to ‘surfing the game’ because of the minutiae brought about by the mini-map. In short, eyes glued at the wrong place… a tiny place in relation to the entire rest of the screen that is filled with intricate details… real details which are begging for your close touch and exploration.

This is how I play the game NOW (~10+hours and counting):

Witcher3_SettingsOFF

Trust me, with this way, my experience with the game and immersion it brings about has increased by a lot! To me at least. This is something that I would seriously recommend you all try too. I started with this personalized setting with the expansion ‘Blood and Wine’.

Toggle the following ‘Off’:

Witcher3_MenuSettings1

Do not forget, we can open the main World map whenever we want to see the destination objective marker, explore and find our own way and traverse like a real ‘Witcher’. Let’s just not look at the shortest way to reach there with dotted lines on your mini-map with the exact distance of footsteps it’ll take you! Try it out and see the experience being enriched.

Along with this, I also found 2 more settings that can really add a little more twist and increase the sense of danger. This can be a little subjective, but worth a try 😉 Turn ‘Off’ Boss and Enemy Health Bars. Yes, sounds scary as frak! I can’t really recall right now, but few other games also have the setting for turning off HP bars. So, try this out here… a Witcher, after all doesn’t really know how much HP the opponents have (unless witcher-vision provides the touch) 😉 role-play!

Witcher_Boss

In short, I encourage every player to try and personalize and find settings that suit you best. Turning Off the mini-map is highly recommended as I personally found that it truly enriches the experience. Everything else, well tweak and play around with them, see if it works for you or not.

This is the beauty of a true player-friendly PC game. Tweaks and tips to dig deep and escape!

 

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GPU’s in my life. 17 years+

Pentium MMX 166MHz. Matrox Manipulation Extensions. MultiMedia Extensions. What have you. Neither is correct though. That’s another story and is completely out of the scope here. This article is about GPUs. Yes. The meat. The bones. The love. Raw processing power in drawing tris/s and accelerating games by lowering burden on CPUs.

My first foray into gaming like a crazy addict on PC started with my first purchase (above). Of course, I ain’t counting playing games for countless hours on classic x86 (286, 386, 486 and Pentium Class 1) in my school/ cousin’s/ friend’s place. My personal relationship with computers started in my home with Pentium 166 MHz MMX. During that time, 1996 I did not have a dedicated 3D-accelerator (so it was called then). What was available for me was on-board Cirrus Logic (if I remember it correctly). It had a mightly 1MB of memory size. Yes. That is 0.1% of Video RAM that is currently installed in my PC.

For me, getting into graphics accelerators started when Quake II arrived. I was having super-fun playing the game in software mode. But, then I came across OpenGL setting for the game. Well, that was it. I turned it on and somehow got it working in Quake II. Immediately, the graphics smoothed out, green filter all over the screen and the game portrayed a fun ride with approx 2-5 FPS (or I think so). That was it. I had to buy myself a new graphics card. That’s when I started researching and knowing more about accelerators available in market.

Let’s begin with my first purchase. It was the year of enlightenment, 1998.

Disclaimer: All the years associated with GPUs in my blog is “Year of purchase

1. Diamond Viper V330 [1998]

RIVA 128 GPU

This card immediately boosted my performance in games from almost-nothingness to spectacular (by standards of ’98). Major boost was with the increase in memory size to 4MB.

2. Asus AGP-V7700 Nvidia GeForce GTS 32MB [2000]

GeForce2 GTS 32MB 2

The major selling point of this card was Transform & Lighting (T&L). It was all woohoo at the moment. I absolutely loved this graphics card. Particularly, this card blew Giants: Citizen Kabuto. One of the first games that used this card to the limit.

3. Sapphire ATI Radeon 9600 SE [2003]

To this day, I still consider this card to be a filler. Getting this was more of a mistake. I was supposed to get 9600, SE was a real low when it came to performance. Very unsatisfactory. Mainly, as it had a measly 64-bit memory bus. It just couldn’t handle games of that generation well.

4. Nvidia GeForce 6600 GT [2005]

Nvidia Geforce 6600GT GPU 2009-01-27

After the love that was GeForce 2 GTS, 6600 GT blew me again. This is one of the most famous cards of the decade. I am pretty sure countless PC gamers had an affair with this video card by Nvidia. Effective memory clock frequency of 1000 MHz! DDR all the way! Yeah!

5. Sapphire ATI Radeon x1950 Pro [2007]

x1950 Pro

x1950 Pro

This was another of my favorite GPU. It faithfully allowed hordes of games to run smoothly at pretty high settings. Plus, it boasted a killer 44.2GB/s memory bandwidth. Yes!

6. Palit AMD Radeon 4870 Dual Sonic Edition [2009]

Palit 4870 Dual Sonic Ed. 1024MB

Palit 4870 Dual Sonic Ed. 1024MB

It has been 4.5 years now since I bought this card. I must say, this has been one of the best performer. Ever. Even after 4 years, this card performs admirably in current gen games like Metro: Last Light and Far Cry 3. Most games are still playable at 1080p. Love it. Guess, I’ll wait for awhile before I upgrade next. The time has not yet come. 4870 still rocks and has enough juice to satisfy me. At least for a while. 

6. Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280x Dual-X OC Edition [2013]

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280x Dual-X OC (UEFI)

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280x Dual-X OC (UEFI)

And… I finally gave in to this marvelous new GPU from AMD. R9 280x is a notch above everyone in competition and very close to mighty Nvidia Geforce GTX 770! For the price, this is certainly one of the best value. 3D performance in current-gen games is mindblowing! Not sure how this might handle 4K resolutions… but that is for next year!

I thought of making some interesting analysis (high level) on specifications of all these cards that I owned.

Just shows how the chipsets have evolved since 17 years (or more closely 13 years). Presented here in graph format. I’ve considered some of the major criteria that defines a GPU at a high level. Let’s begin!

Transistor Count

Increase in the count of Transistors on chip

Increase in the count of Transistors on chip

Memory Size

Increase in (raw) Memory Size (technology not taken into account here)

Increase in (raw) Memory Size (technology not taken into account here)

Memory Bus

Memory Bus size

Memory Bus size

Memory Bandwidth

Rise in Memory bandwidth through the years

Rise in Memory bandwidth through the years

Core Clock

Increase in Core processing clock frequency

Increase in Core processing clock frequency

Memory Clock

Increase in Memory clock frequency

Increase in Memory clock frequency

Fabrication

Decrease in the Fabrication process

Decrease in the Fabrication process

 

That’s about it folks. For now. Might post some mid-level details soon.