NVIDIA GeForce NOW Beta Update 5

I’ve been playing Destiny 2 using NVIDIA GeForce NOW for MacOS (in beta) during my trip to Denver. The client was recently updated – this post focuses on the addition of Advanced Streaming Settings.

Here’s a little introduction about how I came across NVIDIA GeForce NOW, in case you missed it:

NVIDIA GeForce NOW Mac Beta

“New Ultra Streaming Mode and Direct Mouse Input can reduce lag by 30%” (NVIDIA GeForce NOW for Mac Forum)

Test Setup

Machine

Alice’s Late-2013 MacBook Pro Retina 13″ (MacBookPro11,1)
Intel Core i5-4258U 2.4GHz (Dual Core)
4GB DDR3-1600
Intel Iris 5100
Built-In Retina LCD (2560 x 1600 Retina)

Network

CenturyLink DSL Connection (35 Mbps Download / 5 Mbps Upload)
Hardwired to LAN using USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet Hub (the one I recently ordered)

I noted the video settings that NVIDIA GeForce NOW selected within Destiny 2:

Ultra Streaming Mode Off On
Video Settings
VRAM Usage 2579 MB / 24370 MB 1330 MB / 24370 MB
Resolution 1280 x 800
Vsync Off
Advanced Video
Graphics Quality Custom
Anti-Aliasing SMAA FXAA
Screen Space Ambient Occlusion 3D HDAO
Texture Anisotropy 16x 4x
Texture Quality Highest Medium
Shadow Quality Highest Medium
Depth of Field Highest High
Environment Detail Distance High
Character Detail Distance High
Foliage Detail Distance High Medium
Foliage Shadows Distance Highest High
Light Shafts High
Motion Blur On
Wind Impulse On
Additional Video
Render Resolution 100%
HDR Off
Chromatic Aberration On
Film Grain On

I also tested on my mid-2011 MacBook Air:

Mid-2011 MacBook Air (MacBookAir4,1)
Intel Core i7-2677M 1.8 GHz (Dual Core)
4 GB DDR3-1333
Intel HD Graphics 3000 (384 MB)
Color LCD (1366 x 768)

The only difference was the video resolution, which defaulted to 1280 x 720 instead of 1280 x 800.

Input delay was noticeably reduced with both Ultra Steaming Mode and Direct Mouse Input enabled, though it felt like the network was too slow to keep up with demands. I will have to test in greater depth at home, when we can remove the network as bottleneck. When the network cooperated, I was able to challenge with a lot more confidence than previously, making for a better experience overall.

NVIDIA GeForce NOW Mac Beta

I was on the phone with Alice last night when I decided to check out the NVIDIA GeForce NOW beta for MacOS. I’d seen it in a promoted post on Facebook when I was going through my feeds earlier in the day, and was immediately interested.

I installed the beta and fired up Diablo III. I proclaimed “The future is here!” as I made my way past the login screen, which I’d last seen as far back as 2013. My mid-2011 MacBook Air ran the game at all low settings when it first came out, but I was now looking at it in its full glory, made possible by GPUs in the cloud.

I set out to see how I might tie my Mac into my streaming setup. I grabbed the mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapter that I had left laying around ever since I began leveraging DLNA, and used it to connect my MacBook Air to my AVerMedia Live Gamer HD. OBS displayed “HDCP,” but passthrough functionality was unaffected.

I played Fortnite, a title I knew that my workstation could run passably at low settings at 1280×720. The image was obviously being scaled up from whatever GeForce NOW decided was suitable for my MacBook Air. I noticed occasional input lag, which I am assuming is because I was running off of WiFi. It would be nice to tie my MacBook Air more neatly into my workstation setup through a Thunderbolt hub (Amazon.com), but most importantly, I need to hardwire it to my LAN. While a USB ethernet adapter (Amazon.com) would do the trick, I would be better served by a combination USB hub ethernet adapter (Amazon.com).

What really turns me on to NVIDIA GeForce NOW’s technology:

  • It allows users to prioritize investments into infrastructure over amassing local processing power. Investments into infrastructure are long-lasting, whereas Moore’s Law makes keeping up with the latest processors costly.
    • Reduces barriers to entry for modern AAA titles, allowing in users on long upgrade cycles

Next steps:
Before I make the investment into bypassing HDCP (either on the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD or before the signal hits it), I would like to learn how to force NVIDIA GeForce NOW to output to the external display at its native resolution instead of selecting the optimal resolution for my MacBook Air’s display.

My Sony Playstation Move Navigation Controller Failed …

it’s not dead!

I searched around for a bit to see if anyone else had encountered a sudden failure of their Sony Playstation Move Navigation Controller, and found this thread: sony nav controller wont charge¬†(XIM4 Community). The red LED began blinking once again upon connecting the controller to a USB port on my computer. I’m confused because it had been plugged into the computer’s onboard USB when it failed. No matter. Crisis has been averted.

Leading up to the failure to charge, I’d¬†hardly used the controller or the computer that it was connected to at all. I suspected the battery had drained

Note: The following is the original post. I moved it lower to avoid confusion

Well, it was a surprisingly short run.

It won’t turn back on after an entire night spent on a wall charger.

I aim to find out if it’s gone for good.

Is using a keyboard mouse adapter in console gaming cheating?

An updated and expanded version of this article can be found at yetieater.com/opinion/using-keyboard-mouse-console-gaming-isnt-cheating/

The use of keyboard mouse adapters in console gaming invites heavy discussion on forums: I’ve seen my fair share of posts on reddit about this issue. Without fail, the first person to comment that the use of keyboard + mouse (KBM) adapters in console gaming is equivalent to cheating reaps positive comment karma in proportion with the number of people who view the thread. Comments perceived as arguments in favor of KBM adapters get down-voted to oblivion, in spite of their being both constructive and cogent. Even inflammatory comments like, “OMG dude get good with a controller or go to PC” get more positive traction than legitimate arguments. The issue of proper voting reddiquette aside, I want to get my thoughts out on the matter, with hope that even the most closed-minded may come to see things differently.

I write from the perspective of a gamer, reared on first person shooters. My first console-based FPS was Fur Fighters for the Sega Dreamcast, and my first PC FPS was Doom. While I am no stranger to the arcane mechanics of the modern gamepad, I would take a keyboard and mouse over two analog sticks any day of the week, and there’s good reason why.

Those who decry KBM console gamers as cheaters are delusional. What they’re really getting at is this notion that the world of consoles is somehow different from PC: fairer. In their minds, everyone should compete on a level playing field. I’ll prove that the field was never level to begin with, and that only a naive definition of cheating would see KBM adapters fall within it.

Fairness in Console Gaming

Consoles have always been computers. They are designed to run code that has been digitally signed, and typically to do so at a lower cost of entry than a contemporary gaming PC. The “PC Master Race” crew knows this is possible because an entire generation of console will have the same performance envelope from its launch to its eventual exit from the marketplace. Console manufacturers are thus able to reap economies of scale in production and gain leverage over suppliers by producing a large volume of standardized equipment.

Once this standardized console has left the store, however, its environment will vary wildly based on the end-user. Consumers have a dazzling array of complementary components to choose from – everything from the display to the sound system can be selected for a specific purpose, and every serious gamer makes those choices with the intention of gaining a competitive advantage, in turn making console gaming no fairer than any other sport.

Defining Cheating in PvP Gaming

Let us define “cheating” in the context of PvP gaming, and then evaluate whether the use of a KBM adapter falls within our proposed definition.

What type of activities or behavior can we universally declare to be cheating?

Memory injection. Lag switching. DDoS. Aimbotting. Wallhacking.

Thus we define cheating in video games as any modification of runtime game data, including network data.

We may be tempted to employ a vague definition such as: “Doing something to give an unfair advantage over another player,” or “any activity that modifies the game experience to give one player an advantage over another,” but these definitions are fundamentally flawed, because they center around a notion of fairness that does not exist in the real world. These definitions are so loose that deliberate practice might even slip into them.

Let’s be realistic about what a KBM adapter is: it is a device whose primary function is to provide the player with an alternative input method. They accomplish this by emulating controller input: the console is incapable of distinguishing between KBM input and controller input.

KBM adapters aren’t aimbots. They don’t give the ability to see through walls, like wallhacks or ESP. Some support functions like rapid-fire and scripting, which falls into a grey area, but the primary function of the KBM adapter remains the same: provide the player with an alternative input method.

As KBM adapters don’t alter runtime game data, they do not fall into the accepted definition of cheating.

The Competitive Gamer

The goal of any competitive player is to overcome the competition using whatever means necessary, short of cheating or breaking the rules of the game. David Sirlin’s Playing to Win (sirlin.net/ptw) does a fantastic job discussing the stratagems employed by the competitive gamer in pursuit of victory. Early in the book, Sirlin defines “scrubs,” comparing them to competitive players:

A scrub is a player who is handicapped by self-imposed rules that the game knows nothing about. A scrub does not play to win.

Both in-game and in the real world, the competitive gamer seeks to gain an advantage over the competition. Within the scope of the game, one player may have greater map awareness than the other. Outside of the game world, you can bet that a THX sound system will give a better game experience than a pair of iPhone earbuds, though most competitive gamers tend towards headphones. There are even sound cards that boost the sound of in-game footsteps.

Would competitive players of fighting games call the use of an arcade stick cheating? A flight stick in an air combat game? A racing wheel in a racing game? Only a scrub would take the handicap and use the general-purpose controller when a dominant option can be employed.

Controller vs. Keyboard and Mouse

Imagine a FPS game that has no aim assistance, one that was built around the keyboard and mouse as the default input method. Then, a forward-thinking player brings a controller to the table. Does the new player gain a competitive advantage by using the controller? Would the KBM players switch over to running a controller?

In reality, one is hard-pressed to make the case for the game controller being more competitive than the keyboard and mouse. Situationally, a controller may be better than a keyboard and mouse — for instance, while watching a very narrow opening with a sniper rifle, it takes very little effort for a controller user to hit the trigger without influencing their look direction.

If you make the argument that keyboard and mouse have greater precision and accuracy, effectively dominating controllers, then why aren’t you making the investment into a keyboard mouse adapter? It’s incongruous to state that:

– I play to win,
– keyboard and mouse are better than controller,
– and I use a controller because keyboard and mouse users are scrubs

If you take the game seriously, why not take the plunge and get a keyboard mouse adapter for yourself? Treat yourself, bruh. If you’re a competitive gamer whose gaming setup could support a keyboard + mouse, you owe it to yourself to try it out. I can guarantee that it will change your gameplay experience.

Otherwise, if you’re determined to stick to your console controller, at least do yourself the favor of getting an accessory like KontrolFreek. Extending your analog sticks will provide you with more precise aim, which you can probably leverage to run a higher in-game sensitivity.

In closing, I’d like to address the point of most keyboard and mouse vs. controller arguments focusing only on mechanics. While important, mechanics alone won’t determine the outcome of a fight: a KBM player with poor game sense will lose to a competent controller player the majority of the time.

More

My Xbox One Setup
My XIM4 Setup for Destiny
Table of Keyboard Mouse Adapters for Console Gaming

Edits
20161018: Added table of keyboard + mouse adapters for console gaming