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The Wishlist, part Welp

I was expecting the Epic Sale to be weeks away still, but apparently it started today. Also, apparently inflation (or lawsuit fees?) come for us all:

Instead of getting a flat $10 off any game at $14.99 and above, you get 25% extra off.

This is technically a better deal when the baseline game you are buying is more than $40. Everything else is a worse deal. For example, Rogue Lords is on sale for $16.24. With the historical coupon scheme, it would be $6.24, but this new scheme means it is $12.18. The one extra nuance though is apparently the new scheme will allow you to get the 25% discount as long as your entire cart is above $14.99 rather than individual items. Risk of Rain 2 is discounted to $12.49, for example, which normally would not receive any extra discount. In the same cart as Rogue Lords, you save… $3.12.

Hey, I’ve done dumber shit for, well, not less but not much more than that.

In any case, it’s extremely disappointing that basically every game on my wishlist is $2.49 more expensive than it was six months ago during the Winter version of this sale. Two-fiddy many not seem like a lot, and perhaps it isn’t in the grand scheme of things, but in my head I turn those numbers into other games I could have bought.

Anyway, this is how my wishlist breaks down in this sale:

  • [$37.26] Final Fantasy 7: Remake Intergrade
  • [$22.49] Cyberpunk 2077
  • [$22.49] Red Dead Redemption 2
  • [$18.74] Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete
  • [$15.74] Satisfactory
  • [$9.37] Risk of Rain 2
  • [$37.49*] God of War
  • [$40.49*] Dying Light 2
  • [$18.74*] Wildermyth
  • [not listed] Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • [not listed] Elden Ring
  • [not listed] NeiR: Replicant

The prices with an asterisk are games not on sale aside from the bonus 25% (Dying Light 2 is 10% off, I guess). I’m actually rather surprised about the bottom three games simply not existing on Epic. I’m not aware of any exclusivity agreements with Steam, and part of Epic’s whole deal was supposed to be a better dev cut of the action, so… what? How is something like Elden Ring not on here?

After some sticker shock at the “buy all the things” total, I pared it down to the four horsemen:

So, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Horizon: Zero Dawn.

I had things like Risk of Rain 2 and Satisfactory in there and some other off-wishlist games like Days Gone and Far Cry 6, but I had to face reality a bit. Given those main four games (and nevermind my existing library), when would I have the time to be playing anything else? I suppose it’s possible that Epic’s next sale is an even worse deal than this one, but that is a risk I am just going to take. This way, I can see where things stand by the end of quad-AAA production experiences, not feel guilty for occasionally tooling around in random indie games, and see what ends up popping up in Game Pass.

And that’s it. See you in six months.

The Wishlist

With a monitor and the PC acquired, it is time for Phase 2: reasons to have upgraded my PC at all.

  • Final Fantasy 7: Remake Intergrade
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • God of War
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Elden Ring
  • Dying Light 2
  • Satisfactory
  • NeiR: Replicant
  • Wildermyth
  • Risk of Rain 2

The ones near the bottom did not need an RTX 3080, of course. Arguably, none of these do. But I have it now, so… Capitalism, Ho!

The plan here is to wait for the next Epic Store sale where they offer 50% off + $10 coupon, which could push many of these into the $15-$20 territory. Indeed, Cyberpunk and RDR2 were both $20 this past Winter, so I’m expecting the same thing this Summer. The big question mark will be FF7R with its MSRP of $70. I doubt it hits 50% off, but maybe something like 25%? With the coupon that would bring it “down” to $42ish which… ehh, maybe. There’s a part of me that wants to wait even more out of principle. At the same time, I have already waited so long for something I’ve wanted so much that it becomes a bit ridiculous. I could just, you know, not buy NeiR Replicant or whatever and use that cash.

Or just have bought a RTX 3070 prebuilt and all the games Nope, nah, I make GREAT decisions.

In other news, I’m looking forward to max settings on games where that matters.

Misadventures

You didn’t think buying a premade PC would be easy did you?

Confirming that it boots up.

Well, it was pretty easy, actually. What has not been easy is the business of migrating my life.

The thought process was that the prebuilt came with a 1TB NVMe SSD and then I would just move my two existing SSDs from my current machine over into the new one. Since they are already labeled as “Data” and “Games,” with corresponding contents, it would make for what I imagined to be an easy move. The first thing that tripped me up was the fact that my C:\ drive (a third SSD) had games installed on it too. So, I spent most of the afternoon copying over ~90 GB worth of files to the Data drive with the intention of moving them back to the C:\ drive of the new computer.

Once I cracked open the case of the new PC though, I became very confused.

In short, there really didn’t seem to be any obvious bay drives or cages or whatever the fuck you call “place where you stick SSDs.” I mean, there were places where I could kinda sorta maybe see an SSD fitting, but not how it was supposed to fit. The internet was fairly useless in this regard, as was/is Cyberpower tech support who, as of the time of this writing, has still not responding to the ticket I submitted. All I wanted to know was A) where are SSDs supposed to go, B) what the shit these plastic things are supposed to be (presumably related to affixing SSDs), and C) is it true that there is only one SATA port on this motherboard?

That last apparent fact really threw my plans into disarray, as I wouldn’t be able to bring over two SSDs like I planned. The subsequent surprise that the Data drive was, in fact, an old-school HDD this whole time barely registered.

Feels like a “3 Seashells” situation.

So, Lesson 1: it’s actually very important to pay attention to what the motherboard of your PC looks like, even if that seems like the least exciting piece of the machine.

Lesson 2: Likewise, pay attention to your case. Every damn one seems to have a window on the side these days, which means everything else is getting stuffed out of sight or miniaturized out of existence.

Incidentally, both are lessons I should have already learned from a prior misadventure a few years ago with buying a washer & dryer. Our old top-loading washer stopped working, and the issue was fried electronics that would have cost $200 to replace just in parts. Considering the dryer took 2-3 cycles to dry towels anyway, we opted for a new washer & dryer combo. We did our research, we compared prices, we shopped around, we got a good deal. The thing that we didn’t account for? Which ways the goddamn doors open. They are both front-loading machines and the doors open towards each other. Huge pain in the ass moving clothes around. Can’t really swap positions because of the drain pipes and the dryer vent, and the washer door is not reversible so… yeah. The little stuff matters.

In any case, I reexamined my available options for the PC. The motherboard technically has three NVMe slots, but one of them is behind the huge, honking RTX 3080. So, maximum, I could have one SATA SSD and one additional NVMe SSD. Decision? Throwing my hands (and cash) in the air and purchasing a 2TB NVMe SSD for about $200. Getting a 1TB version would have saved some money and put me on par with my current setup, but… well, my current setup is one without a lot of AAA games installed. And what this experience has taught me thus far is that I don’t really have a deep desire to be spending my precious free time fiddling around with computer components.

Seriously, how could I have not known I still had a HDD installed after all these years? That was where Guild Wars 2 was installed! I never questioned the loading times, but now it all makes sense.

As for the digital migration, that is still ongoing. Several years ago, I bought an external hard drive “docking station” thing in an effort to try and save my wife’s data when her laptop died. Basically, you can chuck any hard drive in the plastic cage, SSD or HDD, and then connect it to another computer via a USB 3.0 cable. It worked. So, that’s the play: install the NVMe SSD into the new computer, unplug the old computer, plug in the new computer, and then (temporarily) remove all the hard drives from the old one and transfer their contents via the docking station.

And because I like doing things the hard way, I am first making a fresh backup of my Data drive to an external SSD that I have around the house for exactly this purpose. Well, that, and because I am vaguely concerned about this 11+ year old surprise HDD dying mid-migration.

So that’s where I’m at. Hopefully the next update will be about how everything went perfectly, and that I was finally able to see a game, any game, at max settings and that it was all worth it.

Battlestation: PC Acquired

About 10 years ago, I bought my current PC. In that time, I pretty much only added a few extra SSDs and upgraded the graphics card from 560ti to 970 to 1060 (via warranty). I have had the same i5-2500K processor, the same 8GB of RAM, and the same motherboard the entire time.

Well, I just put in an order for a new prebuilt when a good deal presented itself:

  • Intel i7-11700KF
  • 32GB RAM
  • RTX 3080 (10GB)

After tax, the total came to $1842. That’s more than the $1260 I spent on my rig back in 2011… although inflation means it really cost ~$1600 in today’s dollars.

The decision was tough. In fact, I have been mulling over the thought of canceling the order and getting a similarly beefy machine with a 3060ti instead for ~$400 cheaper. The idea would be to save that money and put it towards a replacement GPU in the Fall when the 4000 series cards come out and presumably obsolete the 3080.

But you know what? I kinda want to be done.

Assuming it arrives in working order, this PC will meet all the needs of every game that I had been putting off for the last few years. Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, FFVIIR. All of which I am planning on purchasing during the next Epic Summer Sale where they should be 50% off + $10 coupon. Having a 3060ti would make them playable at 1440p but otherwise put me in that awkward scenario in which I either play them with the hardware I have at the time, or sitting on them until I get the 4000-series card. Not that that is even guaranteed to be widely available! If I’m waiting until the Fall, I may as well wait for the Winter Sale instead… and so on and so forth.

If you think that’s exhausting to read, imagine being me.

So, yeah. It’s done. And that is certainly worth X dollars all by itself.

Monitor Acquired

A few months ago, I was talking about wanting to upgrade my battlestation. It’s been a few days, but I have since bought a new monitor and have been putting it through the paces. And I’m here to confirm that… my chicken/egg dilemma was correct.

I went with the LG 27GL83A-B, which is a 27″ 1440p 144Hz IPS panel monitor. I bought it off Amazon when it was on sale for $279.99, but it has since crept back up closer to its $379 MSRP. My previous monitor was already 27″ but it was just a 1080p 60Hz VA panel. If you don’t speak monitorese, the short version is that I now have a 2K monitor that is actually capable of displaying more than 60 FPS.

if my PC can output more than 60 FPS.

Thing is, my computer (graphics card, CPU, etc) has not changed in any way, but now it has to output 43% more pixels. So while the colors are absolutely poppin‘ on the screen, some games end up looking worse because I’ve had to downgrade textures and other settings to maintain acceptable framerates. That’s the chicken/egg dilemma, and I chose the egg.

Now we wait for a passably decent Prebuilt PC with a good graphics card before I can get maximum value. With the rumors of Nvidia’s 4000-series coming out in the August/September range, I’m somewhat hopeful that either the 3080 card becomes a bit cheaper or possibly just leapfrogging directly to 4070 or whatever.

Piecemeal Battlestation

I mentioned recently that I was in the market for a computer upgrade. In fact, I am looking to change a number of things about my current setup. For example, I recently bought a new gaming chair. My old chair was one of those nylon net “breathable” chairs, purchased because my wife’s cat destroyed the prior two I owned. With the cat no longer with us, I decided to upgrade. It’s been working out… kinda okay. Not the amazing plush experience I was hoping for, but it was $120 instead of $500, so yeah.

In any case, here is the list I’m going for:

  • Monitor – 27″ 1440p 120Hz+, probably IPS (up from 27″ 1080p 60Hz TN)
  • Video Card – GTX 3060ti or better (up from GTX 1060)
  • RAM – 16GB (up from 8 GB)
  • CPU – Anything from last 2 years (up from i5-2500K)
  • USB – Actual USB 3.0 connections, WTF? (up from USB 2.0)
  • Desk – Something with drawers, probably, maybe big enough for two monitors (up from Origami)

There were actually some good deals on monitors back during Black Friday, but it was a chicken & egg dilemma. Do I buy a new monitor now, even though I wouldn’t be able to output 1440p or 120Hz given my hardware? But how long would I go after buying the hardware until I get a monitor that takes advantage of the specs? Besides, where would all this shit fit in the first place? My current desk is nowhere large enough to have two 27″ monitors, and my current monitor cannot be rotated.

That said, there isn’t a big big rush. If something falls into my lap or there is some kind of other offer I can’t refuse, then I may go for it. Otherwise? Well, just like everyone else in this pandemic, I hope the shit I got continues working until I no longer want it. Thoughts and prayers to everyone out there having to buy a refrigerator or new/used car in the present environment.

Addendum: I still find my own post about computer shopping from 2011 both hilarious and accurate. The price I paid back then ($1260) is the equivalent of $1557 today. So maybe I shouldn’t be worrying about this shit at all and just buy the first GTX 3070+ prebuild I see in that range.