Category Archives: games

MS Wheel Mouse Optical Redux (August 2018)

Back on the WMO train again. I was using Sweetlow’s signed driver, but it stopped working again, probably due to Windows updates. You can find the old guide here.

I’m on Windows 10 Home 64-bit, version 1803. Here’s how to get it working at the time of writing.

The main google result is not the actual official Sweetlow post. It links to a thread on the overclock.net forums that was not made by Sweetlow. Instead, follow the instructions on Sweetlow’s official (and up to date!) post.

Unfortunately, the ‘vanilla’ signed driver no longer works for me, but I would recommend trying the main instructions first.

I had to use a workaround that is covered in his post. Specifically, the part where he says:
2. If you have EHCI (USB2.0) Controller only on version x64 1703+ or any controller on version 1803+ use these drivers and (Test Mode or atsiv method with non Test Mode)

I haven’t had any luck with the atsiv method, but the test mode suggestion worked (after a bit of fumbling around).

Here are explicit steps on how to do this workaround. As ever, I will caveat this by saying it may not work for you.

Backup your files

  • Backup the following files:
    • %systemroot%\system32\drivers\usbport.sys
    • %systemroot%\system32\drivers\usbxhci.sys

Enable test mode to allow unsigned drivers

  • Open a cmd prompt with admin privileges and type the following commands
    • bcdedit -set loadoptions DISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
    • bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING ON
    • Reboot

Finally, install the driver

We’re going to download the official Sweetlow package (which contains the installer and versions of the driver) and replace the official driver with a patched version. We will then use the official installer to install a patched driver.

  1. Download & unzip https://www.overclock.net/attachments/45829 (you need an overclock.net account to do this) to a directory called “official”
  2. Download & unzip https://github.com/LordOfMice/hidusbf/blob/master/hidusbfn.zip to a temp directory called “patch”
  3. Navigate to “patch”
  4. Copy the DRIVER\AMD64\1khz\hidusbf.sys file
  5. Navigate to “official”
  6. Replace its DRIVER\AMD64\hidusbf.sys + DRIVER\AMD64\1khz\hidusbf.sys with it (I suspect the installer uses the first of these, but I haven’t checked for sure, so replace both)
  7. Still in “official”, run setup.exe
  8. Check the “Filter On Device” box
  9. Change the rate to 1000hz
  10. Click the “Install Service” button
  11. Click the “Restart” button
  12. Close setup.exe
  13. Open mouserate.exe (or browse to https://zowie.benq.com/en-eu/support/mouse-rate-checker.html) and check your hz

If that didn’t work, reboot. If you mess it up and your mouse stops working, simply go to device manager, uninstall the WMO via remove device, then unplug it before plugging it back in. You’re then OK to try again.

MS Wheel Mouse Optical Redux (WMO 1.1 & Windows 10 x64)

Back in 2011, I wrote a fairly gushing post about the Microsoft WMO 1.1/1.1a. It’s a great mouse. It really is.

The end of my WMO

Sadly, in late 2016, the venerable WMO gave up the ghost – its death certificate listed a faulty cable. Basically, I’d be playing Overwatch and it’d randomly disconnect, then reconnect. I’m not a technician, so I binned it.

I then bought a Steelseries Rival 100, as I needed a stopgap mouse. The Rival 100 is a decent mouse, but its shape doesn’t agree with me (it’s too narrow), and it’s a touch too heavy for my tastes.

Finding a replacement mouse model

I decided to try and track down a decent WMO replacement. After a bit of a hunt, I couldn’t find anything that’s 100% suitable; some people recommend Zowies like the EC2-A or FK1, and others like the Razer DeathAdder Chroma.

It’s tough to track down accurate information regarding the unpackaged weight of the mouse, too. The WMO weighed in at ~80g, and in my opinion is better for it.

Furthermore, I don’t want a mouse with stupid cloud software (S3 is down? Well, not sure how to load your mouse settings man!), and I’m not really a fan of spending £60 on a mouse in what is essentially a blind purchase. I might love it, but I might hate it.

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Benq XL2411T Monitor Review

Before I review the Benq, it’s worth giving a bit of background about the monitors I’ve owned up till now.

Dell P1110

image

My first ‘serious’ bit of monitor kit was a Dell P1110 21” Trintron ‘Flat Screen’ CRT (it was flat screen in the sense that it wasn’t a fishbowl and the viewable area was only 19.8” – how the advertisers got away with this for so long always mystified me). The P1110 could easily pump out 100hz and beyond at anything below 1600×1200. It was circa ~2002 and I was a poor student, so I picked it up refurbished for a couple of hundred quid, half-expecting to get ripped off or scammed.

Best purchase ever.

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Video recording with MSI Afterburner

I’ve used this application for half a year now, but had no idea that it has the ability to capture video. 

It’s slightly more configurable than FRAPS, the file sizes are smaller and, crucially, it doesn’t seem to degrade in performance when recording for multiple minutes.  My registered copy of FRAPS causes massive system lag after a few minutes of recording (as in, I’ll drop from 60 fps down to 3 fps, and it’ll just constantly ping-pong between 3 and 60 fps until I stop the recording).

MSI Afterburner works perfectly for me.  Give it a try

BF3 – Pump Shotgun tips (870MCS & SPAS)

Non Battlefield 3 players, look away now.  Battlefield 3 players who like shotguns or want to get better with them, keep reading.

Firstly, just so you can see that I can actually use shotguns to a vaguely competent level, here’s a quick clip showing what the SPAS & Slug can do:

Firstly, if you’re a shotgun user in BF3, ditch the auto shotguns.  They’ve only got enough punch to kill a couple of people with one clip.  Grab yourself an 870MCS or the SPAS 12.  Both of these shotguns are one shot, one kill and have plenty of potential for decimating entire squads with a single clip.

Which one?

If you’re using buckshot or flechette, it’s up for debate.  The 870MCS does more damage per shot, has a wider cone of fire, pumps more slowly and generally has faster pellet velocity.  Both are good choices.

However, according to the stats, if you’re using slug rounds (read on, and I will recommend them over the other ammo types), the SPAS is the way to go.  When using slugs, all of these differences excluding the pump time disappear.

The slug is an ammunition type that means the shotgun fires a single bullet rather than 11 or 12 pellets.  I.e. it is pretty much all or nothing.  Since the 870MCS and the SPAS have identical stats other than the pump speed when using slugs, it makes sense to take the shotgun with the fastest pump time.

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EA penalises its existing customers; nobody cares

To follow up from my last babblings on the scourge of expansion packs and unfair advantages, EA/DICE has really put the cat amongst the pigeons with the release of BF3 Premium.

I bought BF3 premium because I view £40 for 5 expansion packs as a reasonable price (even if I already own Back to Karkand and don’t receive a discount or extra copy, ala Steam).  However, read about the other features and you’ll notice the following blurb,

Queue Priority

Get priority when queuing for your favorite game server. Queue priority lets you get quicker into the game (VIPs will still go first).

Read this and think about what it actually means.  You, the existing, non-premium customer, are being actively penalised through no fault of your own.

A mere 7 months ago, you spent £30 to £40 of your hard-earned money, but now you’re a second class citizen because you’re not willing to spend even more.  This is not a case of players with the base game being unable to utilise new content/maps/guns etc., it is a case of a whole tier of customers being treated with contempt, and for what?  To add an extra bullet point on the marketing blurb.

Why the hell should somebody who paid an extra £40 be given the nod ahead of you when joining a vanilla BF3 server?  Somebody on the BF3 forums used an excellent analogy – everybody knows it is rude to jump the queue (or to use an Americanism, to “cut in line”).

I often play on heavily contended servers with queues containing 3 or more players – without premium there’s every chance that several premium players could repeatedly knock me down the queue, potentially indefinitely.  “Your game is important to us, please hold the connection”.

I don’t often unleash a polemic about something, but this is what is technically known as, “total bullshit”. 

It sets a worrying precedent.  I hope EA/DICE reconsider this decision and show their customers more respect.

Moving Origin Games to a different drive

I wanted to move my BF3 install to my SSD but couldn’t figure out how to do it.  Numerous posts suggested things, but none worked until I found this:

From the EA forums:

http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/7461348.page#17730650

From SicklySquid:

“OK. I thought I would pass this along like a good Samaritan.
SO I had the problem of not being able to install BF3 Into the directory I wished. I did most of what -=ADF=-Joey said, however I could not find _installer\DISK1 or EASetup. If they were here I would of found them trust me haha. So instead of uninstalling the game through the setup I simply used the windows uninstaller. (note: I moved the game to the directory on my other HD first. Also deleted the folder in the directory origin put it in.)
After I opened origin back up and instead of it saying "download" it said "install". It gave me the "working" symbol for a minute or so. Then it recognized it in the directory on my other drive. FIXT! “

And another thing… BF3 Expansion packs

From the blurb on the Battlefield Blog (emphasis mine):

Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand is a huge expansion pack featuring four legendary Battlefield maps reimagined in the Frostbite 2 engine. Three new vehicles (the VSTOL fighter jet, Desert Buggy, and an APC), ten new weapons that you can bring back to the base game, and a new layer of persistence with our all-new Assignments make this a must-have for any Battlefield fan.

Keeping up with the Joneses

I’m very, very disappointed to see that, just as in BF2, weapons from expansion packs can be taken back into the main game.  The reason I find this to be a particularly bad decision is that it potentially puts vanilla* players at a disadvantage.  Some people will say, "guns are sideways upgrades", but really, it’s not true.  Unless each gun is identical, there’s no such thing as perfect balance in games.  All it takes is one overpowered weapon to make it a "keeping up with the Joneses" experience. 

If the content pack contains weapons that are very strong or particularly useful in common situations, players will have a choice: buy the expansion pack and have that option, or watch the playing field become skewed in favour of those who pay more.

Moreover, cynics among us (i.e. me) see this as the perfect vehicle for developers to drive revenue by deliberately adding must-have content to expansion packs.

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Since when was it in vogue…

… to make aspects of your game totally totally and utterly unbalanced when new players are in the mix?  I realise that people are OCD and like collecting shit, but has it really come to this?

I say this because I’ve finally had the time / hardware upgrade to allow me to play BF3, and what do I find?  Every bugger has guns and vehicle perks except me.  In some cases this is not so bad (e.g. I can do just fine without heavy barrel and minor options like that) but in other cases it renders the game unplayable for the noobs.  E.g. I get in a chopper and get shot down instantly, as I don’t have any countermeasures.  The best I can do is wait for a friend to come online who already has chopper perks so I can piggy back off them. 

Similarly, folk in jets have perks like air radar so they can find me easily.  Tankers get various perks like coax machine gun & smoke. 

In my opinion, everyone should start with the key class/vehicle items (defibs, flares etc.) and anything beyond that should be a sideways option.  By sideways, I mean that you already have a default set of perks/tech (such as smoke in the tank), and additional perks give you options for certain situations, not concrete advantages.  As far as I’m aware, there’s no disadvantage to having flares (as opposed to nothing). 

I don’t get it.  It’s just as … weird as starting with no defibs in BC2 – you couldn’t actually be a medic until you’d played for a while.  Games are naturally weighted in favour of experienced players, as they have map / weapon / game knowledge that new players lack.  By design, this compounds matters.

Valve’s response to being hacked

… was very, very disappointing.  I’m somewhat befuddled by the extremely low key response to the incident. 

Visibility

On logging into the steam client this evening, there is no mention of the breach.  I’ve seen a few people on the forum disagreeing with my assertion, so I can only assume their announcements strategy is bugged or flawed.  I have announcements turned off, but in this case, the announcement should be prominently displayed.  Being told you may have had your credit card / password details stolen is not something I ever want to opt-out of.

There is no mention on the steam website.

There is no mention on the steam forums except for a tiny security announcement across the top of each individual forum.  It is tucked away out of sight – it’s not splashed across the main index or anything of that ilk.  I was asked to change my password when I tried to log in; that is all.  No reason was provided as to why I had to do this, either before or after.

Finally, I didn’t receive an email about it. Emails were only sent to those registered on the forums. 

Breached

A company’s security is only as strong as its weakest link, and once inside a machine, it is hard to say where an attack started and ended — particularly when you take human factors into account.  Not to be mean to Gabe, but Gabe’s HL2 fan site forum account was hacked years ago and they found his password was “gaben”.  Nobody is perfect, even when they’re taking preventative measures.

Even if the machine is totally isolated from the rest of Valve’s network, all it takes is one sloppy admin to re-use a password elsewhere, and you have major problems. 

History tells us that companies often cling to information when something goes wrong, and that what is eventually admitted (either due to information control in the early moments of the investigation, ignorance or both) can be far worse than the initial assessment.  In a situation like this, I believe that the only safe thing to do is to warn all of your customers about the potential breach so that they can take preventative measures.

Furthermore, as it happens, I do have a forum account, but it was tied to an old email address.  Who’s to say that my steam account username & password don’t match my forum username & password?  It is a common thing to do (note: I didn’t, but it wasn’t far off as, like most people, I am forgetful and a touch disorganised).

In my opinion, there should be a general email going out to all steam customers via their login emails, plus unavoidable notifications on the steam client, website & forums.

So how did I find out?  http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/ was the messenger for me, not Valve itself.  Perhaps I am the exception, but I somehow doubt it.