PSA: don’t buy Quantum Break with a slow internet connection

TL;DR: If you have a slow or unstable internet connection, do not buy Quantum Break as you will not be able to enjoy it the way it was intended. As of writing, the “offline video add-on pack” isn’t even available for downloading unless you buy the game digitally, so if you have a retail copy, sucks to be you.

I’m usually not too keen to buy games before release on any platform because they tend to be overpriced and you never know if they are any good before reviews are in. With Quantum Break (and The Division before that) I made an exception mostly because I really liked the original Max Payne and Alan Wake wasn’t too shabby either. Also, a story-heavy game starring Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), Dominic Monaghan (Lost) and Lance Reddick (Bosch) as in-game characters as well as in the in-game TV show? Sign me up!

I got the game on Xbox One and my physical copy arrived a few days early, just in time for the weekend. On installing the game, I was asked to install an update weighing 4.8 gigabytes – the typical day one patch, nothing special, although I had to download it over night.

You see, I have two internet connections: one DSL link with 1mbit (not mbyte) speed and one via satellite yielding a maximum of 16mbit. I say maximum because the satellite connection rarely ever works as advertised – I might get the full capacity for a few minutes or maybe half an hour at best, then it’ll drop to sub-DSL speeds. Usually it picks up again in the night which means I can at least leave things running and hope it’ll be good in the morning, but with huge downloads that’s still rather unlikely. Occasionally the connection craps out entirely because satellite internet still seems to be pretty flaky when it comes to link stability. Nevertheless it’s quite useful as a backup connection especially since it doesn’t bog down our DSL. That way, my girlfriend can at least still play World of Warcraft while I download.

Pick your poison.

What I’d like to do? Download the episodes in SD, that’s what I’d really like to do.

I managed to download that day one patch over night as intended and was eager to at least start playing the game on Sunday. After the prologue chapter – which I enjoyed a great deal – I finally was treated to the first episode of the in-game TV show. At first, things went rather smoothly as the episode streamed fine, although in noticeably lower quality than even SD. About five minutes in, things started to act up. The video player started to buffer and not long afterwards a message popped up asking me to either “check my internet connection”, retry streaming the episode, skipping the episode altogether (yeah, that’s a great advice in a game that heavily relies on the player watching the videos to understand the story) or, and that’s the kicker, download a 75gb “offline video pack”. You read correctly: seventy-five gigabytes! To quote Lance Reddick from “Bosch”:

Who the fuck thought this would be a good idea?! Since the game is already 45gb, of course the videos wouldn’t fit on the disc, so some kind of download would have been required regardless. 75 gigabytes as the only option however is just insane because if you have a connection good enough to download that in any sensible amount of time you don’t need to download it anyway since you can just stream the episodes instead. So if this “offline video pack” is aimed at players with slow connections, why is it so big? It will take me a week or more of non-stop downloading the episodes just to be able to keep playing the game.

This kind of oversight boggles the mind. Why is there no option to get the videos in SD? A TV episode of 42 minutes usually doesn’t exceed 300mb, that should cut down size a bit. Or just download the video I want to watch so I don’t have to wait for days to even get started? Or hey, download the next video in the background while I play, possibly in SD should I so choose? How about that?

But no – as a developer in Finland where internet connections are blazing fast even in the countryside, Remedy had the idiotic idea to release the video add-on exclusively in 1080p with a crazy high bit rate, likely because it “works for them”. By the way, the game runs in upscaled 720p anyway so there’s really no reason for 1080p cut scenes. Hate to break it for you guys, but there are more people like me in the world. People with data plans, people with slow connections, and not just in rural Germany.

You might think that the back of the box would at least feature a prominent warning about having to download so much to be able to play properly. It doesn’t. According to the box, the game requires a “broadband internet connection”, but that’s something every single Xbox One box tells me, even for games that don’t need an internet connection at all. The box also states the game will need about 55 gigabytes on the hard drive which isn’t correct as well – it’s either 45gb for the base install or 120gb with the video add-on. The lack of warning is what pisses me off a great deal since I’d have gladly returned the unopened product had I known about this earlier. Now that it’s cracked open, no retailer will take it back unless we’re talking about Amazon and we don’t in my case.

"Bundle only"? Fantastic.

“Bundle only”? Fantastic.

The real kick in the nuts however is that you can’t even download the add-on pack because it’s not available for download unless you buy the game digitally. Retail version? Tough shit – the only download offered is part of the digital bundle. This might change once the game is out for real, though, but until then, there’ll be no Quantum Break for me. This issue has been resolved, the pack is now downloadable on its own.

DeepArmory.com is live

deeparmoryI’ve had this project under development for quite a while now as an internal tool for my guild, but since I had a break from WoW after the guild fell apart, it’s only now that I finally got around putting the final touches to it.

DeepArmory.com is a simple, fast and easy to use replacement for Blizzard Entertainment’s very own Armory website with the following features:

  • all information on one page grouped in easy to understand tabs
  • equipped gear is listed in a simple, easy to read fashion including any enchants, gems and upgrades as well as iLevel
  • character progression drilled down to what’s important: raid progression, trade skills and PvP
  • account activity: by checking achievements, it’s possible to list when the account the character is on was active. That way it’s easy to find out who’s an old-school player and who’s fresh off the boat
  • account milestones lists notable achievements in an easy to understand fashion without having to memorize what achievement stands for which feat
  • linked characters: if the player has any other characters in the database, they will be listed here
  • account/character “problems”: if a character doesn’t have Draenor flying, it’ll be mentioned, for example, and if achievements or statistics indicate the character might have been subject to a paid character boost, it’ll be noted as well. This feature is mainly aimed at guild masters or raid leaders.

There are more features I’d like to add in the future, like for example guild history (which already worked once and suddenly broke for no apparent reason), but for now this is the feature set DeepArmory.com offers.

Why not take a looksie? Here’s a link to my most active character. If you found a bug or something’s missing, please post below.

NYC Sales Tax Calculator for Windows Phone 8.1

wp_ss_20150131_0001Good news, everyone! I’ve just released the Windows Phone 8.1 version of my New York City Sales Tax Calculator app. It’s free with non-intrusive advertisements and can be downloaded to your Windows Phone using this link and of course via the store. The entire submission process only took about four hours – meanwhile in Apple land, the iOS version is still waiting to even enter the review process. The only downside is that while Microsoft was quick to approve the app, the ad provider wasn’t, so the advertisements are still dummy banners. Can’t have it all, can you?

NYC Sales Tax Calculator for iOS

nycstciconJust as a heads up: I have just submitted the first version of NYC Sales Tax Calculator for iOS to Apple. Unlike the Android version which exists in free and paid flavors, the iPhone release is always free, but displays banner ads. The app is compatible with all iPhones (but not iPads) running iOS 8 or better. It should be available within the next 8 days, give or take.

A version for Windows Phone 8 is also planned, but unfortunately my newly purchased Lumia 630 died instantly after using it the first time, so it went straight back to Amazon for “repairs” (they’ll very likely just trash it and send me a new one).

Defiance Auto Login no longer in development

Status

Richard

Just a quick heads up for anyone who’s using my Defiance auto login script that I’ve stopped developing it further. I haven’t played Defiance in months now and really don’t plan on revisiting it. You can still get my script here, but I reckon it’ll be outdated soon, if it isn’t already. Should be easy to update for anyone who cares though …