Friday, January 1, 2016

Steam Controller: First impressions.

I'm a little biased. I've been trying to find a way to play PC games from the couch for years before the steam controller was announced. I've used (and purchased) most of the profiling tools available, even written some custom scripts to make playing old PC games on a gamepad from the couch a possibility. So, I *really* want the Steam Controller to be a success, and I want it to work well. So far, I'm not disappointed.

Unboxing was a breeze. After opening the box, all the pieces are there. The USB cable was hidden in the box, so make sure you have everything before disposing of it.


Make sure you've got all the pieces before you discard the box. 


 The receiver has a dock, which unlike many USB docks, is weighted very well, and doesn't look ridiculous (see the wifi dongle behind it?). Mine is set up high, because it has to go across a large room to get from my desktop to my couch. I am running my PC through my TV via a large HDMI cable run through some latch duct.

TL;DR - You can seamlessly switch between wired and wireless modes on multiple PCs.

 With the MicroUSB on the controller, you can wire your Steam Controller to another machine (say a laptop). It will connect automatically to the wired device, then when you unplug it, it turns off, and you can reconnect to the wireless dongle by turning the controller on again. For someone who may be switching back and forth between a Steam link and a laptop/desktop this is huge. For me, I'm just switching between my desktop and laptop.



 The latest Steam Client Beta included startup sounds and shutdown sounds.

The Steam controller looks a lot like the Xbox controllers.


Playing Games with the Steam Controller is different. I don't know how else to explain it. It's a change, and I'm going to have to spend a lot of time getting used to it. There was a bit of leg work finding out how to make non-steam games work, and older DosBox titles on Steam have issues, but all in all, it's been fairly easy.

I haven't found a game yet that doesn't work to at least being 'playable' with less than 5 minutes of config, if any time spent on config. Unlike most profilers, this lets you name the actions assigned to each button.. Most of the templates are easy to modify, and the UI couldn't be more straightforward.


I'll start posting videos of the games that I've setup with this. Most of them work with a quick community profile load, and others will just work with the templates provided, but others take a little work, but it's well worth it to play half life 2 on the couch.

Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for more on the Steam Controller.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Chromecast Tab Screensaver - Bookmarklet How-to

What? Tab Screensaver? Why?

I have this irrational fear of image burn in on my TV. I have a really nice sound system on my TV, but I listen to music a lot on my computer. I wanted to cast SoundCloud, and (and stream foobar locally through UDB and cast... more on that later) but not burn the tab into my TV screen. If only there was a screensaver for my browser tabs... and what if I could click a button and have it just run in that tab, so i could browse elsewhere... hmm... if only...


Execution

To make this work, I figured I could create a bookmarklet that would fill the tab (for any screen/window size) that would not show scrollbars after  resizing, and display some sort of screensaver. 

To make this work, you can just copy my code.

Since you're using Chrome, I'm not going to show this in any other browser, but you can probably figure it out.

Click the Menu button and selelct "Bookmarks"> and check "Show bookmarks bar"

Now, right click on your bookmarks bar and select "Add Page"

In the new window that apears, type "Screensaver" in the Name field, and paste the code below.


javascript:(function(){

var div=document.createElement("div");
var divStyle = div.getAttribute("style");
divStyle = divStyle + " border:0;position:fixed;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;z-index:9999999;";
div.setAttribute("style", divStyle);

var iframe=document.createElement("iframe");
iframe.src="https://clients3.google.com/cast/chromecast/home/v/c9541b08";

document.body.appendChild(div);
div.appendChild(iframe);

/*Math for the scale factor */
var scale=Math.max(window.innerWidth/1280,window.innerHeight/720);
var iframeStyle = div.getAttribute("style");
iframeStyle = iframeStyle + " border:0; pointer-events:none; -webkit-transform:scale( "+scale+"); -moz-transform-scale("+scale+"); -webkit-transform-origin:top left;";
iframe.setAttribute("style",iframeStyle);

div.addEventListener("click",function(n){
n.preventDefault();
this.parentNode.removeChild(this)},false);

})
();


Alternatively, you can just drag this link to your bookmark bar.
Screensaver Bookmarklet

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast running in Ubuntu

If you didn't know, there's a Git Hub project by xLAva to get Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast running on Linux. I've got it up and running in Ubuntu 15.04 with almost no effort by using my Windows-Side SteamApps directory.

First thing, you need to download the Linux executables from https://github.com/xLAva/JediOutcastLinux

I downloaded as zip, and extracted to my desktop.  Open the extracted folder and navigate to ./code/Release/

Copy the two files "jk2gamex86.so" and "jk2sp" into a new folder on your desktop so you have this.

No, navigate to your SteamApps directory. You can find this in your Windows File system by going to "[SteamDirectory]\SteamApps\common\Jedi Outcast\GameData"

copy all the files into your new folder where the GitHub files are.

No, right click in the folder and select "Open in Terminal" and a new terminal will open in that directory. Now run "./jk2sp"


 You may get an error

username@hostname.domain.com
  • ./jk2sp: error while loading shared libraries: libopenal.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
  •  
This means that you're missing some of the dependencies, or you're running 64 bit version of Ubuntu and don't have the 32 bit libraries installed:

username@hostname.domain.com
  • sudo apt-get install libopenal1:i386
  • sudo apt-get install libxxf86dga1:i386
  • sudo apt-get install libxrandr2:i386
  •  
The last one isn't mentioned in the xLAva's readme because it was included in ia-32 libs, but that meta-package no longer exists for 15.04.

There's a small flicker on my current setup in fullscreen, and slight distortion due to my extra-wide monitor aspect ratio (21:9).
 
Here's some screenshots of running it windowed. You can create a steam shortcut in Linux directly to the executable if you want it to show up in Steam.







Installing AMD Graphics Drivers on Ubuntu 15.04

  Quick Summary

I'm going to show the method I used to install drivers for my AMD R7-265 on Ubuntu 15.04. I had to try a few different methods to get things working the way I wanted, so there are several options covered blow. All of this can be done from a terminal without a working Desktop Interface unless specified otherwise. I will update UI methods with terminal commands later. Here are a couple things you might need to know before starting.
      Get to a Terminal From UI: 
If you're new to Ubuntu, you might be glad to know that the terminal in Unity is hot-keyed to:  
ctrl + alt + T
      Get to a Terminal With No UI
To enter a virtual Terminal (Even if your Desktop or Xserver are not loading) press:  
ctrl + alt + F1
Log in with your user name (Usually your first name) and password.

Installing Catalyst

To start off with, we need to download the drivers. If you're looking at how to install drivers, I can't assume your DE is working right, so we're going to use terminal commands. There's two ways to get to a terminal. Choose what's right for you.

Setting up the directory and downloading the drivers

We should create a working directory so we can easily clean up, or backup the drivers.
username@hostname.domain.com
  • mkdir amddrivers
  • cd amddrivers
  • wget www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/amd-catalyst-omega-14.12-linux-run-installers.zip
  •  
Wait for the download to complete and then unzip the drivers using 'unzip'...
username@hostname.domain.com
  • unzip -v amd-catalyst-omega-14.12-linux-run-installers.zip
  •  
... and let's CD into the directory we extracted the archive and execute the launcher.
Wait for the download to complete and then unzip the drivers using 'unzip'
username@hostname.domain.com
  • unzip -v amd-catalyst-omega-14.12-linux-run-installers.zip
  • cd fglrx-14.501.1003
  • sudo ./amd-driver-installer-14.501.1003-x86.x86_64.run
  •  
Follow the on-screen instructions. I recommend choosing the automatic install over the create deb package option. You can find the most up-to-date documentation here.
Uninstalling AMD Drivers after a mistake
If for some reason the AMD drivers aren't working on your machine, don't worry. We can revert to the default drivers quite easily. Just open a terminal, either from the UI or by using the virtual terminal and run the following command.
username@hostname.domain.com
  • sudo /usr/share/ati/amd-uninstall.sh
  • sudo reboot
  •  

Installing The AMD Proprietary Drivers from Ubuntu Repositories (UI-only method for now)

Ubuntu 15.04 actually has a pretty solid fglrx driver installed already. It worked better for me than the proprietary ones did and fixed a lot of issues with Steam crashing, and other 3D render and Xorg related issues. Here are screen shots from how I installed fglrx drivers.








 Then hit Apply Changes and type in your root password. You'll need to reboot afterwards.

Results:

Took screenshots in Windowed mode to show that this is Ubuntu