Category Archives: Gaming

Anything gaming related: reviews, strategic tips, tech hacks and anything else that has to do with using video games.

How to play Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved in 1920×1080 (Steam)

I’ve just picked up a copy of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on Steam. I used to love this twin-stick arcade shooter since I first discovered it in Project Gotham Racing. I had the Xbox 360 version too, and haven’t thought about it for many years. I didn’t even know it was available on Steam until today, and picked up a copy for $1.99 – happy memories!

I browsed through the resolution options pretty much immediately, since the game comes up with a default of 640×480, which is a tad low for today’s screens. By default though, the highest I could set it to was something along the lines of 1280×720 (or derivatives thereof), and truth be told, that’s troublesome for streaming. Was that as high as it went? Did I need a dodgy patch to go any higher?

Thankfully no, a 1920×1080 option is built in, but it’s not exactly obvious how to obtain it. Here’s how to do it:

  • head over to Help and Options
  • select Video
  • set Keep Aspect Ratio to YES
  • now select 1920×1080

The Aspect Ratio is the crucial part. Setting this to YES will unlock other resolutions that were not available with the default option of NO. Much easier than I thought.

How do Humble Bundle refunds work for Steam Keys?

I’ve recently seen what I thought could be an interesting game called Filament. It had just been released, and I thought I’d buy it. They had it on offer through Humble Bundle. They had it on sale, I was hyped, and I bought it. I even went via a friend’s referral code to support him. All was well.

Humble don’t make software available for download though. They give you a redemption key for another place, or a software key that makes whatever you buy operational. It’s a really clever system. In my case, I got a Steam Key that I duly redeemed, so now the game was in my Steam Library.

I played it later that day (in fact, I even streamed it so I could play it with friends and solve puzzles together), but it turned out the game wasn’t really what I had expected. Although a great effort by the team that made it, it was not for me. Thoughts of a refund came to mind. But since I bought it through Humble, the refund wouldn’t go through Steam… how would this work, I wondered?

It worked great actually, let me share my experiences with you here.

Different Refund Policies

I remember back in the day of physical discs, you could bring your overpriced Playstation games (and DVDs in fact) back to the shop within 30 days, sometimes 60. Those days are long gone of course, unless the product is defective. Since the dawn of the online game distribution marketplaces, things have changed. But still, most places have a refund policy.

Steam for example state that you can get a refund for your purchase within 14 days if you haven’t played more than 2 hours. EPIC have the same refund policy. They review this case by case though, so they may give you a refund outside these criteria. Which is nice!

Humble on the other hand, selling a lot more than just games, state that they’re happy to give you a refund within 60 days of your purchase in principle, evaluating requests on a case by case basis. Between the two of them I was covered: I had played the game for less than 2 hours, and I had only bought it earlier in the day.

So if Humble would give me the refund, what would happen to the game?

The Humble/Steam Refund

Here’s what happened: a lovely lady named Becca looked at my case and refunded the money right back into my PayPal account, no questions asked. Only a few hours after I had asked and explained my situation, I had my money back and the case was closed.

To my surprise, the game itself though was still in my library. Would they let me keep it? Could it be somehow removed from my account, as it would with regular Steam refunds? Nothing seemed to have happened immediately, nor did I see anything on days 2 or 3. Filament remained in my account.

Then came day 4 (today) and I see this notice popping up in my Steam client:

That answered my question: the refunded game was indeed removed from my account, and now I no longer have it available. So that’s how they do it:

  • Humble give you the refund
  • Steam remove the game a few days later

Another puzzle solved! Given the complex nature of such a case, I’m super happy to tell you that it all worked flawlessly, and thought I’d share the “how” with you.

How YouTube trimmed my 3 hour video to a 6 second clip – Funny Fail Story

I wanted to share a tragically funny YouTube story with you. It has to do with a copyright claim I’ve received on one of my recent Twitch streams, and a “helpful” tool YouTube offer to alleviate such a problem. Grab a coffee and prepare to be amused.

I was playing Cube Escape: Paradox on Twitch, and we really got into it. It’s an exciting TwinPeak-esque game with a very atmospheric soundtrack. In fact, the first part is free to play, and there’s a free movie you can watch too. Twitch only saves game broadcasts for up to 60 days, so I transfer them to YouTube for posterity, and to reach another audience at the same time. In fact, I upload my Twitch streams both to my Main Channel for a few weeks before making them unlisted, and also to my Gaming Channel for good. It’s a strategy that keeps my main channel tidy going forward.

Continue reading How YouTube trimmed my 3 hour video to a 6 second clip – Funny Fail Story

Running Stardew Valley without Steam (and the caveats it brings)

I’ve been playing Stardew Valley for a few days, and I’m enjoying it a lot. I have the Steam version, and as I often do, I’ve asked Steam to not create a Desktop shortcut for my game. Shortly after I thought that might have been a good idea and created one by myself and pinned to to my Start Menu. All works well: Stardew Valley starts and I can play.

However, I’ve just LOST two days worth of progress because the Steam Client wasn’t running in the background. I have it disabled, because I genuinely dislike the idea of daily updates to a service I barely use, and because I’d like to run as little “background crap” on my system as possible (yes Adobe, I’m looking at you).

The Steam Client not running does not stop Stardew Valley from starting, or from running, or from saving. It all works rather swimmingly… until I started the Steam Client, at which point the automated cloud save implementation wiped out my Stardew Save – and hence I lost two seasons worth of progress. YIKES!

Continue reading Running Stardew Valley without Steam (and the caveats it brings)

Prevent Steam on Mac from starting automatically

I’ve recently installed Steam on my Mac for the first time. I made sure to disable the auto startup option from the menu as I hardly use it on this underpowered machine (under Steam – Preferences – Interface). There’s no tick box there!

Imagine my surprise when I restarted my Mac a couple of days later, only to be greeted by the familiar window showing “Updating Steam”. Bad software design at its best: do the opposite of what the user has selected. Good job, Steam!

This being a Mac issue, there’s about 0 threads on the web on how to tackle this issue. It took me a moment to remember that there’s built-in Mac option under Preferences – Users – Login Items. That’s where Steam was hiding, and as such, it is started no matter what. Untick that box, and Steam will no longer start on your Mac when you boot the system.

Flaky with a Capitol F: My Elgato HD 60 Pro review

I wanted a top quality capture solution for my PS3 and PS4 consoles, something that would last a few years and that I could use for high-quality HDMI capture of other devices too. I’ve had a cheap USB solution before and as you can imagine, the quality just wasn’t great. I finally bit the bullet and purchased an ELGATO HD60 Pro. This is a PCI-e card with a dedicated video encoder, HDMI in and out, and from what the sales brochure tells you, it’s the proverbial Dog’s Bollocks. I’ve had it for several months now and can give you some impressions.

Continue reading Flaky with a Capitol F: My Elgato HD 60 Pro review

So I’ve picked up NO MAN’S SKY – and here’s what I think

I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about NO MAN’S SKY that made me wonder what all the fuzz was about. On the surface the game seems to be something I might enjoy, combining exploration on a vast scale, building, crafting and handsome looking graphics. The asking price of $60 promises a AAA title, so when it was on sale the other day, both on Steam and on GOG, I picked it up and had a look at it.

I’m coming into this game cold, not knowing what to expect. I literally had no expectations, other than the hope of having a good time. Sadly that didn’t happen. It can be like that with complex games though, you have to give it an hour or two to get into them, learn the interface, understand what you’re supposed to do. Good games (like any good software) will help you make this a welcoming experience.

NO MAN’S SKY doesn’t do that. It’s not even trying.

Continue reading So I’ve picked up NO MAN’S SKY – and here’s what I think

Where does CONTROL store Game Saves

I came to this interesting “retro” type area in CONTROL, the one in which Jesse is dressed as an FBC office assistant. I thought this woudl be a great area to explore further with Photo Mode. However, there was really no way to save my game in that section – at least none that I could think of. CONTROL uses an auto-save feature, which means that when I reach the next section, it may not have been easy for me to go back to where I currently was.

I decided to investigate where CONTROL stores its save games and found they’re in this folder: C:\Users\you\AppData\Local\Remedy\Control\Default-Epic-User

Replace you with your actual Windows user name. Note that I have the EPIC version of the game, so this location may change when installed from other marketplaces (in which case, please let me know in the comments). The folder contains several sub folders. Copy them all somewhere save (don’t drag and drop them; right click and select copy instead). This will preserve your current game state at the last save point.

When it’s time to return to that spot, simply copy all subfolders back, overwriting any existing items in the folder above. When you relaunch the game, you’ll see a warning from the EPIC Games Launcher, telling you that your local game save is older than the last cloud save.

Choose Upload to Cloud to play with your current settings (i.e. the one you’ve just restored). Download to Machine would overwrite everything and start your game from the last save point, just in case you’ve made a mistake.

And that’s that! Now we can save multiple games in progress. You can pickup CONTROL on EPIC Games – and if you liked this article, you can use code JAY-VERSLUIS on checkout to get me a small commission if you like πŸ˜‰

Where does CONTROL save shots from Photo Mode (on Windows)

Remedy and 505 Games did a good job implementing Photo Mode in CONTROL across all platforms yesterday. While they did a great job telling everyone about this feature, they did a lousy job telling us where those screenshots are actually saved. It might be more obvious on games consoles where you have limited places to investigate, but I spent half an hour exploring my Windows hard disks without joy.

Until Leuncode on Discord answered my puzzled question and said, “it’s in the Documents Folder”. Thank you so much for clearing that up!

Photo Mode can be activated from the Pause Menu (Start Button on the CONTROLler, or press ESC on the keyboard). We get several adjustment options and settings, a seriously important one is to hide the UI. The implementation isn’t great, and essentially CONTROL simply takes a screenshot of whatever is on the monitor – including the UI if it’s there.

If you want to give the game a whirl, head over to the EPIC Store and grab it. If you hack in my creator code JAY-VERSLUIS I’ll get a small commission πŸ˜‰

How to play XIII (Classic) – PC Keyboard Layout

Back in the days when I had a physical copy of XIII, I never had that problem with the console versions of the game. There are only so many buttons to press on a controller, and there’s an in-game tutorial that tells you.

Surprisingly, the current GOG.com version comes with a manual, but it does not mention the keyboard layout. Neither did the original manual for the physical game if I remember correctly. When I wanted to map the PC kets to my controller using Xpadder, I quickly realised that aside from walking and basic shooting, I had no idea how to use the scope of the grappling hook.

I’ve compiled this handy list to remind me how it works for next time, might come in handy if you’re in the mood for some retro comic type FPS action:

  • WASD keys – walk around, rather fast
  • hold the left SHIFT key – in addition to WASD to walk slowly
  • SPACE – Jump
  • MOUSE – look around
  • Left Mouse – Fire
  • Right Mouse – Alternative Fire (like throw grenades, or stab with a knife)
  • Q – use Quick Heal, i.e. take next available med kit
  • E – Action (i.e. open doors, pick up items, etc)
  • G – Throw hand grenade
  • R – Reload Weapon
  • Right ALT – use the Sniper Scope
  • C – Crouch down (toggle between standing and crouching)
  • Page UP / Page DOWN – cycle through weapons