Connected #311: The Rickies (September 2020) – Relay FM

Connected #311: The Rickies (September 2020) – Relay FM

If you’ve never listened to Connected before, this would be a great time to try the show out. The Rickies are a prediction-focused episode before Apple events. With Apple’s September event just around the corner, there’s no better time to get in on all the shenanigans and japes than right now. This show is one of my must-listen podcasts every week.

They are also raising money for St. Jude all month long, so it would also be a great time to donate

Xbox Series S Officially Announced at 3 AM

It seems that leaking the actual console design, price point, and release date was the leak that broke the dam. After Windows Central reported that the Xbox Series X and S would release on November 10 at $500 and $300, respectively Xbox decided to confirm the Series S’ existence, design, and $300 price tag. They have remained mum on the Series X pricing and the release date.

The Series S is all-digital, supports raytracing, 1440p up to 120fps, 4K upscaling for games, 4K media playback, and has a 512GB SSD. No other specs were officially revealed, but since the Series S has been one of, if not the, worst kept secret for this upcoming generation, I think it is safe to bet on the previously leaked specs.

The key differences between the Series X and S lie in the GPU, RAM, output, and storage. The GPU is reported as having less than half the compute units (20 CUs vs the Series X’s 52 CUs) and only a third of the teraflops with 4TF instead of 12TF. The RAM is reportedly only 10GBs of GDDR6 instead of the Series X’s 16 GB. The Series X does have an interesting combination of RAM though, with 10 GB at a speed of 560 GB/s and the remaining 6 GB at 336 GB/s. I wonder if the Series S’ RAM will be at 560 GB/s or 336 GB/s.

I find the more interesting comparison for the Series S is between it and the Xbox One X. While the CPU and GPU are less powerful on the One X, its GPU does have 40 CUs and 6TF. The One X has 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM at 326 GB/s. It also outputs full 4K gameplay, instead of upscaling it and comes with a disc drive. Unfortunately, the Xbox One X was discontinued in July 2020.

The $300 price tag is going to grab a lot of people’s attention. It will definitely look better on the shelf next to both the PS5 and the Series X, especially when an electronics department employee is giving a weak pitch. Parents and kids will snag these up quickly. I am curious how the different specs will impact performance and development. Microsoft has promised cross-generational support for many of their games. This adds one more combination of hardware to the mix. Despite all the hemming and hawing surrounding the PS5’s price and date, Sony does have clearing messaging between its two PS5 variants: One has a disc drive, the other does not, otherwise the two boxes are identical. While this won’t lead to a price gap like the Series X and S have, it does make for a cleaner message.

On the flip side, having a price tag of $300 is a much louder message.

Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct – Nintendo

Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct from Nintendo

Sometimes, having hope pans out.

Nintendo sure is acting like Nintendo with some of these Mario 35th anniversary announcements. A Super Mario Bros. 35-player battle royale, Tetris 99 style? Great idea! Let’s only allow people play until March 2021. So Nintendo.

Let’s take three iconic 3D Super Mario games and put them in a single collection for Switch. Swell plan! Let’s also only offer it both physically and digitally until March 2021! Why not?

It would not surprise me if after this March 2021 deadline if Nintendo sells these ports individually and digitally only. Maybe sometime next summer there will be some sort of N64 or GameCube or even Wii virtual console for Switch?

This may also help paint a picture for Nintendo’s plans for The Legend of Zelda and Metroid’s 35th anniversaries, both of which are next year (but who am I kidding, Metroid will get bupkis). There have been rumors of a port of Skyward Sword for Switch for quite a while now. During the Wii U generation, both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess got full HD ports, so I doubt there is a triple pack with those games. Maybe the sequel to Breath of the Wild will release, possibly alongside a new, more powerful Switch?

Speculation and confusion aside, it is great to see Super Mario 3D All-Stars in action and to be able to play in just two weeks! I think this quick turnaround from official announcement to release is a blast. It is a shame we have to wait until February 2021 for Super Mario 3D World+ though.

DF Retro EX: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 – Digital Foundry

DF Retro EX: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 – A Brilliant Remake of a Classic Gaming Series! by John Linneman for Digital Foundry

This is a stellar look at the actual history of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and its sequel. I never knew there were so many ports! I grew up solely on the N64 port of the first game: I still have my blue cartridge that my Dad bought at a garage sale in the neighborhood. I would find tricks and cheat codes on GameFAQs and play for hours in front of our tiny CRT in the basement. I’m stoked to pick up these remakes down the line.

Two is One and One is None

I come to you today to warn you about hard drive corruption. Backup your data. Save yourself the headache, heartache, and wallet-ache that comes with trying to save corrupt data.

Back in April-May, I bought a 5TB external drive and began recording most all of my gameplay. I’ve wanted to build a collection of footage I could use for video projects and reference. After years of capturing guide footage and having to delete it for space, I really wanted to try and start keeping it.

I captured all of my Death Stranding play time and all of The Last of Us Part II. I had some Call of Duty matches, Persona 5, and test footage from my Super NT and GameCube. So far, this had amounted to between 2.5-3 TBs of footage.

Then last weekend I was brainstorming a video idea. I plugged the drive in to transfer new footage and everything was gone. This happened to another drive of mine roughly two months ago, an external SSD, but I had a backup of it through Backblaze. I did not have a backup of the game footage because of its size. I knew the upload would take ages. I completely regret that logic.

I tried using First Aid in Disk Utility on my Macbook. It found out there was corruption. I booted into recovery mode like Disk Utility recommended, but it wasn’t running recovery on the drive. I couldn’t solve it. So I turned to third party software.

I picked Wondershare Recoverit that would scan for free and then I could chose to pay $80 to recover if it found anything. After 12 hours of scanning, it found 2.13 TB of data. I went to preview a file and it prompted for payment with no option to just back out and keep looking at what it actually found. The payment screen showed three tiers, which I was not aware of. There was the basic tier for with the $80 price tag I was expecting. Then there was the top tier that included “advanced video recovery” for $160 lifetime license. I talked to Abby and we decided it’d be okay to go for. After seven hours of moving the data to another drive, everything should have been saved.

Unfortunately, almost every single file was still corrupt. The bits were there, but unplayable in video software. Advanced video recovery required a completely different scan of the drive.

After 28 more hours of scanning and copying to another drive, the software found 12 “recoverable” video files. Once again, unplayable. The “advanced video recovery” seems to just have the files capable of being recovered. Don’t worry, Wondershare sells video recovery software just for that purpose. It was here when I finally gave up. I kept the functioning files (plus all of the footage from The Last of Us Part II, just in case).

I’ve (mostly) accepted my loss. I have definitely learned my lesson. I immediately backed up some essential work video files to four different locations. And now I have begun the long process of backing up my gameplay footage. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Always have a backup.