Monday, October 18, 2010

Turn Any Old PC, Laptop Or Netbook Into A Flexible Media Centre

More and more people are experiencing streaming video as the primary source of video entertainment. For example, most students at college or university rely on their laptop for their source of (usually illegal) video content such as movies and television shows. However, with legitimate services like Lovefilm, Hulu, YouTube, BBC iPlayer and 4OD, a truly immense catalogue is available at one's fingertips (not to mention PPStream, a very impressive video streaming client). The problem is that most people are still consuming online video via their PCs at their desks. Video content like movies and television shows should be enjoyed as they were designed to be viewed; to be watched in the living room and shared with friends and family on the big TV screen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inverted Y-Axis Option And A List Of Games Without Y-Axis Support

'Normal' mapping is the case where moving the joystick/mouse/analogue stick 'up', results in the game point of view shifts 'up'. The y-axis inversion control scheme is basically the inverse of this. 'Up' points the camera 'down', and 'down' points the camera 'up'. Y-axis inversion is the way that I've learned to play any game that requires change one's point of view.

Inversion of the y-axis was never really a choice me. Like many, I learned to play like this because the first games I played were flight simulators or space combat games like Wing Commander. In real-life, airplane joystick controls by default are 'inverted'. When I transitioned to first-person shooters, the mentality of the flight simulator stuck with me through the first-person view point (as well as third-person view point games).

The way that I see it, y-axis is a valid way of thinking about pointing a camera. If you imagine your virtual character as a puppet facing away from you with a pole sticking out of its head horizontally, you can make the puppet look up by tugging the pole down, and vice versa. And a similar logic applies to the flaps of an airplane, where one pulls the joystick downwards in order to 'pull up' the plane.

Inverting the y-axis doesn't really offer an advantage or disadvantage. Rather, it's just a way that some people expect controls to work in a game. And developers know this: almost every single game that has come out in the last 10 years supports y-axis inversion. However, there are a select few titles which do not, and this is why I've created the list. I hope this is a useful resource for you. Inverted gamers unite!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ultimate List Of Steam Serial Keys From Retail

Steam always sells games at higher prices than in the retail stores. However, many retail copies of games contain serial keys that can be registered on Steam. By comparing Steam Store prices with retail prices, it is possible to find a Steam serial key that costs much less than buying directly from the Steam Store. For example, Order of War is available from the Steam Store for £29.99, but can be bought on Amazon for £2.60 including delivery. This retail copy can be registered and played on Steam without ever using the disc.

The following page is a list of every possible retail Steam key with a Metacritic rating over 60 that can be bought from retail. Each game title contains a link to its Steam Store page. My list includes a price from Amazon which is generated dynamically, as well as a link to Camelcamelcamel, a site which generates graphs of Amazon prices to track the decrease in price of a game over time. An explanation of how the graphs work is available in a previous article: Buy New Games For Less Using Graphs. The source of games that this article is based on is from Steam Support which lists the serial key formats of the games.

Last Updated: 18th January 2011.
Please comment if there are any new additions that I have missed.

(All versions linked are for Steam PC versions of games, even if the correct box art is not displayed).