Friday, May 08, 2015

Leeroy Jenkins Sufffers Digital Degradation. Is the Cloud not as secure as we thought?

An astute poster on Reddit spotted that the famous World of Warcraft parody video "Leeroy Jenkins" has apparently degraded over time on Youtube and the audio is now corrupted.

What could be going on. Are digital archives not as incorruptible as we once believed? If such an iconic work can be corrupted what does this mean for our precious memories that we are increasingly trusting to cloud storage?

Storage devices can degrade over time but this is very unlikely to be the cause of Leeroy Jenkins corruption. Any half way decent cloud storage system has multiply redundant back ups with error correction. As several respondents to the Reddit post have pointed out it is far more likely that the errors were introduced when the video was converted from an older video format to a newer format. The "copy of a copy" syndrome kicks in and quality degrades.

EDIT: For clarification: You can copy digital files perfectly so "copy of a copy" degradation isn't always a problem but digital video formats employ lossy compression so some quality is lost with each conversion. The audio distortion in this case however is so extreme I suspect this is more than just incremental loss  of quality over multiple conversions. I think something went seriously wrong in a recent conversion to HTML5 format.

Regardless of the cause however the video is now corrupted. Given Leeroy's iconic status I am hopeful that some nerd at Google will take notice and restore a pristine copy. The fact that this can happen is something to think about however. Leeroy Jenkins may still be well known enough for someone to go to the bother of fixing it. I doubt you can say the same about the videos you uploaded of your child's birthday party.

Original Reddit post from I_ama_Borat here: http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/357s6l/eli5_all_of_a_sudden_the_famous_video_of_leeroy/ 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Late to the PS3 party

I recently came into a second hand PS3 so I am taking a whistle stop tour through some of the better known console exclusives from the last generation.

The PS3 was technically ambitious with its many cored cell processor but it failed to reach the dominant position that its predecessor held. It was late to market. It cost more than a competing Xbox360 and it was reputed to be difficult to programme. Nevertheless the platform had a number of highly regarded exclusives. Now is probably the very best time to do a retrospective tour of them. Second hand games and accessories are cheap and widely available but with the PS4 firmly established it cannot be long before PS3 stuff starts disappearing from retail shelves.

So far I have tried the following games:

Little Big Planet: Cute platformer that I enjoyed a bit of coop in with my daughter.

Demon Souls: From Software's dark masterpiece that spawned Dark Souls and Bloodborne. So far the game feels very similar to Dark Souls.

The Last of Us: post apocalyptic adventure widely hailed as a masterpiece of storytelling. The opening sequence is terrific and the plot is developing nicely but sadly I am not really enjoying the gameplay.

Uncharted: Drakes Revenge. This is a tomb robbing adventure very much in the style of Lara Croft. I am enjoying this a lot.

Red Dead Redemption: Cowboys, horses and revenge. I haven't played this yet so I about really comment but it regularly features in to ten lists.

I don't realistically expect to finish these games. I already have a backlog of games I want to play on PC. Also despite living in a house with five computers we have only one proper TV so my time on the PS3 is very limited. Nevertheless I am enjoying plugging this gap in my gaming knowledge and the PS3 itself has already become the Netflix and DVD player of choice in our home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Games I have been playing: (Dawn of War 2 expansions, Ryse Son of Rome)

Dawn of War 2 expansion on campaigns: Chaos Rising and Retribution. I loved Dawn of War 2 and I love these expansions. DoW 3 has small squad RTS combat which is a particular favourite of mine. Chaos Rising is a whole new campaign with similar gameplay and a novel "morality" feature which impacts on the skills of your heroes, the gear they can equip and also has some story impacts. Retribution has a fairly short new campaign but you can play as any one of multiple races which gives a lot of replay. Retribution also changes the gameplay somewhat introducing resource gathering and troop recruitment as a supplement to your heroes. You can even choose to swap out heroes for squads of lesser troops which allows some variety in tactics.

Ryse Son of Rome: I got this from Humble Bundle in a sale because I love Roman History and it is supposed to be one of the prettiest games on PC. Sadly the game play has been widely criticised as boring and repetitive. I can certainly vouch for the beauty of the scenery and I haven;t played enough of the game yet for it to become too repetitive. I am a bit put out by the whole notion of a lone Roman Soldier leaping about and performing acrobatics like an action hero. Rome was all about troops fighting in close formation. The silly little shield you have is way too small for a proper Roman Scutum and why oh why does your character only slash with his gladius and never stab?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Alien Isolation: Best Use of Positional Audio Ever?

Undoubtedly the biggest breakthrough for me in learning how to play Alien Isolation was to stop panicking and simply listen to my surroundings. The positional audio in the game is absolutely superb. All of the enemies make characteristic sounds and you can pinpoint their position by sound alone. Not only can you tell where they are you can usually also tell where they are going. The Alien itself is particularly noisy as it stomps about the place and many times I managed to evade an alien with very limited cover simply by moving myself about in response to sound prompts ensuring that I never fell into its line of sight. I cannot recall positional sound every having been as important to me in a game. Please note you don't need surround sound speakers to experience the positional audio I played with stereo headphones and stereo speakers. The headphones are better but the stereo speakers work just fine.

Learning to use sound was so important to my enjoyment and mastery of the game that I would fault the developers Creative Assembly for not making it more obvious during the training levels. To be honest I would fault training in the game in general. This is an unusual style of game that requires players to rethink their normal playing assumptions in order to survive. Like many others I struggled with the first few levels of the game until I eventually figured out how to play. To be honest I almost gave up out of frustration. It is not just that the game doesn't give you direction. Very often gives you misleading direction. Here are some glaring examples:

1) When faced with an unstoppable alien monster your natural instinct is to run and hide. The game reinforces this by liberally sprinkling every level with cabinets marked "Click to Hide Here". While these can sometimes be useful they are usually death traps and running to the nearest one to hide in is a death sentence. They make a racket getting in and out and the monster can hear you breathing inside. Worse still you have no where to run if the monster does come for you.

2) The motion tracker is surely the greatest con-job of all. As a novice player I clutched it deperately trying to figure out where the monster was,  not realising that the beeping of the device was actually giving away my position. Staring at the motion tracker distracts you from the much better information that be be obtained simply by listening and looking around. In my opinion the motion tracker should spend most of its time in your pocket only pulled out occasionally when you know you are safe in order to get an idea of where to go next. It still serves some use in your pocket because it gives an audible warning if an enemy appears nearby.

3) Directional sounds are an absolutely essential tool for tracking enemies in the game but the developers delight in adding plenty of misleading bumps, creaks and other scary noises. This certainly adds to the scary atmosphere but it does confuse novice players. You start jumping at every bump and it takes a while before you learn to pick out the important sounds from the background noise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Alien Isolation Finished

A deeply flawed masterpiece in my opinion but a masterpiece none the lest. The best stealth horror in any game I have seen. I actually got a neck cramp from the tension of playing the game. The flaws? Well the game is too long and far too repetitive.