Rollercoaster last year

If I had to describe the last year or so, it's been a rollercoaster of things. From projects at work moving at an unreasonable pace to complete turn overs and somehow managing to keep treading water long enough to get to the other side. On the personal side it's been up and down due to stresses from work and some unforseen medical issues cropping up here and there. Burnout is very real and I'm constantly teetering on that very edge.

Of course I try to counter this with different things like building a PC, self medication by playing games to relieve some of the stress but its not always affective. Sometimes things go bad... Like for the first time I might have killed a PC and/or motherboard... Seriously AMD, make everything freaking LGA already. It's seriously panic enducing Everytime I have to remove the heatsink and the processor goes with it...

I'm hoping to get back to some photography and few other interests but for now just of games I'm playing this year.


  • Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers
  • Azur Lane Crosswave
  • Monster Hunter World Iceborne


  • Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo


  • Danmachi
  • Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet

Xbox One

  • Phantasy Star Online 2 OBT (soon)

Dark blue skies and beyond

I've been waiting for quite a while for a new Ace Combat game on consoles. The last main version I played was Ace Combat 6 on the Xbox 360 released back in 2007. It's an arcade sim game (or sometimes refereed to as simcade) but It's a fun one. The landscape for these kind of console games have been almost desolate after the days of PS2 and Dreamcast. Ace Combat 7 marks a return of the main series a little over 11-12 years later. There have been portable games but they kind of lack the feel that the console versions had.

In the PS4 version of Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown has a little bonus VR campaign featuring Mobius 1. The VR campaign is only 3 missions but boy... its a paradigm shift once you play it. The ability to track the target simply by turning your head while in flight even if it isn't in front of you really is a showstopper. Suddenly the need to just follow the arrows to where the plane when isn't needed as much since i can look over left, right, or above to keep track of my target.

Needless to say, it immediately became apparent how constrained I felt playing the normal single player campaign. I did beat the game but not without wishing the feature was available throughout the normal campaign mode of the game. Especially in the tunnel runs, the ability to quickly check wing placement inside the tunnels is kind of important especially with the larger planes.

This particular lack of feature lead me to getting the game on the PC to attempt to emulate the ability of looking around using a VR software called Vorpx. I had originally purchased a license for the software back when the Oculus Rift CV1 was released to use with several non-VR games. One of it's abilities is to map headtracking to a controller which was what I wanted. The Mouse Look options for Ace Combat 7 on PC were pretty dismal at the moment. For whatever reason, they mapped both move AND look to the mouse.

After a bit of tweaking I was able to get it working but not without a few shortcomings. The first problem is it isn't completely natural. There is a deadzone in the headtracking which causes the view to snap to center a bit. I've since found the correction for this with head-tracking deadzone adjustments eventually but it took me a while to realize that would fix that issue. The other problem is it isn't fully natural since it emulates the right stick of the controller. If you tilt your head to the side, your view doesn't tilt with you. This is within tolerance for myself but anyone else might not do so well.

Another major issue is the overall view isn't fully covering the field of view inside the Oculus. This is because the screen is still a 16:9 view just zoomed in with minor attempts at 3D effects to sort of give depth of field. As a result, black borders exist top and bottom if you let your eyes drift to the extreme edges. At the same time because its zoomed in, information such as radar and loadouts are just outside your field of view without zooming out some and making those borders more obvious.

The way that the VR campaign in AC7 handled it was move the radar and loadouts into the left and right Digital Display Indicators (DDI). As a result, the view was more natural. I'm sure someone will find the hack to let you move these or allow the game to render in a more natural VR dimension but its still pretty early. I will most likely finish this campaign in VR on the PC even if its still not completely working.

That being said, because that bug from the little bonus campaign bit me hard already and thanks to an timely steam sale, I got my hand at the DCS F/A-18C Hornet module. Unlike Ace Combat, the F/A-18C module is a full blown simulator. That means everything inside the cockpit is modeled and works. Every switch in the plane has a function and you can flip them and they'll work. This means you can take a plane that's sitting on the ground dark and cold (turned off) and bring it to life using the same real-life procedures.

I've spent at least a good 3-4 hours so far doing power-up procedures, take-offs and not so graceful landings. I also did this entirely in VR with a working HOTAS joystick, something that AC7 on the PC is currently lacking unless you have a specific Thrustmaster supported HOTAS joystick. Sadly I don't have any video of what I see in VR at the moment. DCS shows the view of whats inside the VR headset but only from a single eye. As a result, you're only seeing half of what I'm seeing inside the headset. I'll need to play with this more to see how I can capture this video.

Its really hard to go back to the old way of playing flight sim games or even driving games after experiencing what VR is suppose to be able to do with these style of games. Here's hoping that more simulator style games will support VR going forward. There's a lot of information we gain from being able to look to our left and right or up and down at a given moment in a simulator. Something that is lacking from a fixed view that games have provided before. It's that sudden game of information just from what we see that pulls us much further into the world being present then any other element before.

Project... Something?

Usually when I start a project, either building a PC or building something from scratch, I usually give it a project name. I usually take a character from an anime or game for the project and that name will stick to the system or item once it's built. Though this time I'm really not sure what name to give it.

The new project is a new MicroATX PC. It's an upgrade to my aging Intel 4670K. On a few games and several applications, I've caused the cores to max out and have had some odd hardware problems over the last several months possibly attributing to something going wrong with my motherboard. I've also noticed my USB3 is shocking me (literal electricity) every now and then. I've had it electrify my desk enough times I I use my key to discharge it.

The system will need a new motherboard, ram (because the previous ram is DDR3 and the current is DDR4), and CPU. I'll be migrating my video card, which is a Geforce RTX 2080, my SSDs, and any peripherals. I've already gone ahead and bought the Thermaltake Level 20 VT from NewEgg several weeks ago. This is a MicroATX case that features tempered glass. I've not messed with tempered glass, just clear plastic side panel windows. I've also picked up a fully modular power supply, a Corsair RM750, during a Cyber Monday sale.

For the CPU, I'm jumping back onto the AMD wagon and am waiting on the upcoming Ryzen 3 lineup to be officially announced. I originally jumped off AMD as the technology dead ended after the Phenom II line and didn't get anywhere with the FX or the APU lineup but it seems AMD finally got things straightened out with the Ryzen and Ryzen 2 CPUs. I generally prefer AMD since it is cheaper overall for both CPU and motherboard combined. The average Intel motherboard can easily run you $150 and up starting out for even some of the most basic ones and that's before you take into account the cost of the processor. That being said, Ryzen 3 probably won't see a release till sometimes after CES 2019.

The other thing I'm looking at, and this is by far the scariest idea... is to water cool this system. I'm not talking All-In-One (AIO) coolers that are made by Corsair, but actual true watercooling, a la Jayz2Cents or BitWit. I've not settled on the setup yet and I'm still bouncing the idea, only because this is where I burn most of my budget on. An average true water cooling setup can cost easily upwards of $400+ dollars for all the parts and tools needed to do the job. Somethings I can borrow such as a heat gun, but the tools to make the correct angle bends and such, are still required unless you have a really good idea at dimensional measurements.

The advantage of this vs an AIO setup vs a true water cooling setup is mostly in the noise level. You can generally run the fans quieter with a true water cooling setup if the system is properly configured. It also gives you more headroom to play in with regards to overclocking hardware. Another advantage is that I can add the GPU to the water cooling loop and get it cooling as well or just concentrate on the GPU alone. The RTX has a nasty design on the Founders edition where it dumps hot air from cooling the card directly onto the motherboard and nearby components. Previous versions blew air out the back of the card.

The catch is this case was designed around an MicroATX so space is a premium in there so I need to be sure I get the right size radiator or figure out how to stuff 2 240mm radiators in this case. I've seen it done, it just might not be pretty.  I've also never done this before so I'm jumping off the deep end.

Several years back I did buy a reservoir and some base components to play with the idea of water cooling a CPU, but I never did get around to building it. This was back when the motor you used, were literally fish tank motors and the average way of securing tubing was zip ties. This was also in the era just after AMD finally built a CPU did wouldn't explode or catch fire like the Athlon XP. I've seen that actually happen to a friends PC a year or two before I built my very first one, not the best confidence booster to see happen, lol.

In any case, a name... The case is a dark grey/black. Also hanging on the wall just behind my PC is a mini wall scroll of Noire from Neptunia. Maybe Project Noire? Or maybe her little sister, Uni, so Project Uni? Alternatively I could go with Neptune's little sister, Nepgear... I might go with that. The case is smaller then your typical system so fits the profile of the little sister and I do want to use purple somewhere in the water cooling system, either via dyes or fittings. I guess for now, Project Nepgear for now. Below are the specs so far for the system.

Project Nepgear System Configuration
Case: Thermaltake Level 20 VT
Motherboard: Unknown
CPU: Ryzen 7 3700x (tentative)
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition
RAM: G.Skill Trident RGB 16GB (tenative)
PSU: Corsair RM750
Storage: Existing SSDs