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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

It’s no secret that we love games and are very competitive at REM. Combine a passion for games with building comradery, rapport and trust and we got: an awesome company event!

 

REM's 1st 2020 team-building event

We played games at Pin Up Arcade Bar in Waterloo; a fun place with a cool vibe where one could hang out with friends and coworkers to play unlimited arcade games.

 

  Todd Hannigan playing an arcade game

 

Sean McParland playing a pinball machine  

It has a very nostalgic, retro feel that would appeal to casual players and hardcore gamers alike. It’s also in a perfect spot uptown in a plaza where university students could come in to take a break from studying. Check out their Facebook page here.

 

In the arcade is a nice assortment of games such as super-retro ones from the 70’s that’s completely mechanical and analogue to machines that have bright, flashy digital screens. Some are familiar classics such as Pac-man, Super Mario, Tetris and Street Fighter, while others are based on TV or movie franchises like Terminator, Guardians of the Galaxy or South Park.

 

Competitive streaks came out as each tried to best their colleague by getting the highest score or by winning in a one-on-one game. A few of us got particularly competitive while playing 3 games:

  1. International Shoot Out where a person controls a pair of paddles to shoot a ball into their opponent’s goal
  2. Another game where one had to throw basketballs into a moving hoop.
  3. And of course, at a few games of foosball on a table that lit up.

 

 

Below is a short video of Sean Legge getting “nothin’ but net!” Check out and follow us on Instagram for more videos and photos!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sean Legger going for the top score!!

A post shared by REMWebSolutions (@remwebsolutions) on

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Thanks to everyone that played Santa’s Workshop Showdown!

 

Thanks to everyone that played Santa’s Workshop Showdown!

 

We hope that everyone had a great holiday with friends and family. We also hope you enjoyed our game as much as we enjoyed making it! Congratulations to Christine D. for winning an XBOX One S! 

This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

I'd like to take a break from the regular type of posts that I put out and talk about a personal passion of mine:

MMO gaming!

Person's hands on a gaming keyboard

 

Since about as long as I can remember, I have always loved role-playing and adventure games. It can provide an escape from the mundane realities of daily life, and can give you a chance to be a hero, even if it is in an entirely seperate world. Of these types of games, the pinnicle would be the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). It takes all the best elements of gaming, and mashes them together. You have level-up systems, fighting, peaceful gathering, teamwork, loot systems, chat, groups, unique art styles, massive worlds, and great storyline in most cases.

 

While these games are generally the best quality and most immersive of any game genre, this often comes at a price. They are not only generally full-price games to start with, but often come with either a monthly cost to continue playing, or a microtransaction system which is nesseccary to utilize to stay competitive within the playerbase. That being said, most of the great MMOs out there will offer at least 2 methods to pay for this: in-game currency, or real money.

 

Of any of the MMORPG out there (and there are plenty!), there are 2 that I have consistently played and come back to throughout my life, and which I can forsee continuing to be powerhouses in the MMO genre. I will be releasing 2 seperate blogs talking about these at another time, however both games have been going for more than 15 years and still have very stong playerbase numbers. These two games are World of Warcraft and RuneScape.

 

Stay tuned for the next blog where I do a feature spot on RuneScape (RS) and get into some details on that!

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Play Santa's Workshop Showdown for a chance to win an Xbox One S

 

We have created another take on our interactive game. This year playing and winning the top spot could win you an XBOX One S 1TB Console - Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order™ Bundle!

 

We've remastered the game and need your help more than ever matching childhood photos to the correct REM team member. The top 20 contestants will be entered in our draw to win the XBOX One S bundle.

 


 

WIN A FREE XBOX ONE S!

Click here to play!

 

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This is a headshot of Ryan Covert.

 

It's 2019 at the time of this writing. Fortnite has taken the gaming world by storm over the past year or so. Every parent has been begged and pleaded with by their children to purchase a modern console gaming system so that they can become sweaty try hards.

 

Then it happens. Those same children are watching YouTube personalities and streamers alike who push PC hardware as the next-level in the Fortnite madness. The begging and pleading is revived. This time, those same parents don't know where to start and may not have the funds to dump into a high-level gaming PC.

 

Socket 775 To The Rescue

 

As of June 2019, I have successfully built four Fortnite-worthy gaming PCs using hardware dated as far back as 12 years old. It wasn't difficult, but finding DDR2 RAM for older PCs is tricky, and I will throw in some more "modern" suggestions at the end of this blog for those having the same problem.

 

The secret to my success has been in the procurement of used Socket 775 motherboards and CPUs that used to fetch top dollar when they were new. Socket 775 motherboards are now in the range of $30-$60 on eBay. A magnificent Core 2 Quad Q9650 CPU, which was considered the cream of the crop in 2008, can now be coupled with those motherboards for a meer $65 on eBay as well. You'll also want a minimum of 6 GB of RAM, but 8 GB of RAM is ideal. You can get by with 4 GB, but your OS will be starved for resources and you will experience in-game hitching or stuttering as your computer continuously fights to balance your operating system's memory requirements with those of the game.

 

Next, you need to find a GPU with enough horsepower to run modern PC games at a decent framerate. While I have managed to run Fortnite at 60 fps on a GeForce GTX 560 ti, I would suggest purchasing a GPU with at least support for the latest nVidia or AMD drivers. I suggest trying to find one of these cards within your budget on eBay, Kijiji, Craig's List, or similar:

 

  • GeForce GTX 760
  • GeForce GTX 960
  • GeForce GTX 1050 ti
  • AMD R9 290X
  • AMD R9 380
  • AMD RX 480
  • AMD RX 570

 

There are many different combinations of these cards, with varying amounts of video RAM typically listed as "GDDR". Generally speaking, the more RAM you have, the better experience you will have. However, in my testing, the older GTX 760 with 2 GB of GDDR3 RAM provides plenty of speed to drive 60 fps gaming on Medium quality settings in Fortnite at resolutions up to 1920x1080. Considering this is running on a 12 year old PC, this is mind blowing.

 

For those interested in doing this themselves, here are some additional links to help you out:

 

  • CPU-Z
    Determine the exact motherboard make and model you're running, along with the type and configuration of RAM you have installed. This helps you determine what upgrades are available for your existing hardware.
     
  • Core i3 based PCs
    These machines are a great example of a complete system (lacking a dedicated graphics card / GPU) that have plenty of power to run modern PC games for thousands of hours of enjoyment. They typically use DDR3 RAM, which is much cheaper than the older DDR2 variant mentioned above due to supply and demand.

 

Feel free to drop your questions in the comments below if you'd like more information.

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This is a headshot of Todd Hannigan.

Learning Better Pinball Skills:

 

We have a pinball machine at the office and it has become somewhat of a competitive monthly game to be in the top spot. We have a score board and we record the top three scores every month. You never know when you are going to get knocked out of the top three and it changes almost daily. The top player gets their name up on Pinball Wizard board for bragging rights for the month.

 

Brad is the Pinball Wizard for June

 

It is appropriate that we have a Pinball Wizard, because we make a content management system called WebWiz@rd, that makes adding content to your custom designed website extremely easy. If you want to be a web wizard as much as I want to be a pinball wizard, please send us an email at sales@remwebsolutions.com or check out our site at remwebsolutions.com and the great things we do here.

 

Back to pinball! It has become so much of a competition that I find myself wanting to learn more about the skills necessary to give myself the advantage over the other players in the office. So much so, that I decided to write a blog about it to let others know of a great site https://papa.org/, that you can learn all of the tricks you need to become the best pinball player you can be. The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association website has some great tips in their Learning Center under Player’s Guild. I especially like the videos on flipper skills, really makes the game more fun once you master a couple of new flipper skills. You really do have much more control of a game that most people think is random and very little control. Give them a watch and see just how much you game improves.

 

This is the machine in our office

 

Our office likes pinball so much that we are planning a night out to go to the Pin Up Arcade Bar in Waterloo (https://www.facebook.com/PinUpArcadeBar/). It is a great place to go and pay one low price of $5.00 and you can play as much as you want for the night. 

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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

It’s a known fact that we at REM love to play foosball!

 

It’s a fun activity to do and it feels great to get your energy levels up after playing a vigorous, challenging match with a friend. Personally, it took me a long time to get the hang of it. When I first started playing about 2 years ago I lost a lot – and I mean A LOT! But the key in acquiring new skills is to never get discouraged, no matter the number of loses. I didn’t see it as losing I saw it as “training;” with that mentality I wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone.

 

So how does one play foosball? Essentially, foosball is table game/sport based on Soccer (or Football for Europeans). The name originated from the German word for soccer (pronounced the same way) literally meaning “foot plus ball.”

 

The goal is to utilize the 4 rods and a total of 9 “players” (the wooden or plastic men with no arms) to put the ball into the “net” (usually just a hole at your opponent’s side). The 4 rods are:

  1. The 5-bar: the rod in the middle that starts off the game. Usually the strongest because it’s the heaviest and the hardest to get pass because of how many “players” in the bar.
     

  2. The 3-bar: the main set of players that shoot the ball into the goal and therefore closest to the opponent’s “net.”
     

  3. The Defense (2-bar): this bar is right in front of your goalie and net. Its main uses are two-fold: a) to block/deflect the ball from the net and b) to push the ball away from your side of the table and into your opponent’s side.
     

  4. The Goalie: self-explanatory here.

I’ve learned that when it comes to Foosball, it’s not about the power of your shots (although having strong, powerful shots can help a lot…. I’m looking at you, Sean Sanderson!), but the precision of them.

 

Of course there’s a lot more that goes into this sport. And yes, it is a sport! It requires training, accuracy, strategy…and sometimes trash-talk…. hehe  but of course all in good fun. The important thing is to have fun and to be a good sport about it. If you’d like to know more about it, here’s a link to a handy-dandy video:

 

 

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This is a headshot of Sean Sanderson.

Pokemon GO

Chances are if you see someone walking around with their head down and overly fascinated with their phone they are playing Pokémon GO.

 

The viral mobile game has taken the world by storm and had a record breaking release.  Almost taking out Twitter for the most daily active users, Pokémon GO has the most downloads on iOS devices than any other iOS app in history. Surveys are starting to state downloads of the cultural sensational app are starting to plateau, but are future updates planning to recharge these numbers?

 

What’s All the Hype About?

 

Players use their mobile devices to hunt, capture and collect little digital monsters. These creatures pop on to the screen alongside real world environments. (activated by the user’s camera) This augmented reality technology paired with the geocaching and the 90's nostalgia has proven to keep trainers hunting.

 

The Nintendo game is forecasted to make at least $25 million this year and even local businesses are profiting using the in game 'Lure" features to attract not only Pokémon but people to their shops.

 

A handful of us here at REM have downloaded, and play the app. With a Pokéstop right next to our office we are surely not likely to run out of Pokéballs anytime soon! Even if all we can catch are the Rattata's

 

Gotta Catch 'em all!

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This is a headshot of Ryan Covert.

An acquaintance of mine recently wrote an increasingly popular article on the negative effects of client authoritative network modelling as it applies to online multiplayer video games. Specifically, the enabling of "cheaters" when client machines are given priority over the server. Glenn Fiedler is a respected software engineer who has worked on several AAA video game titles over the years and most recently finished working as the lead software engineer for Titanfall by Respawn Entertainment before moving on to start his own business where he specializes in network technology for - you guessed it - video games.

 

Glenn's original article discusses the problems with this network model and the reasoning behind developing these solutions from a server authoritative model is the only way to ensure the best experience for gamers:
http://gafferongames.com/2016/04/25/never-trust-the-client/

 

The article has since been picked up by several major online publishers, some of which I have listed here.

 

Ars Technica: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/04/analysis-the-division-may-need-complete-rewrite-to-fix-hacking-problems/

 

Developer Tech: http://www.developer-tech.com/news/2016/apr/27/ex-programmer-respawn-and-sony-criticises-divisions-network-model/

 

PC Gamer: http://www.pcgamer.com/veteran-network-programmer-says-the-division-needs-a-complete-rewrite/

 

Games Radar: http://www.gamesradar.com/why-the-division-is-broken-online-according-to-a-former-god-of-war-titanfall-dev/

 

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/26/hackers-cheats-ruined-the-division-pc-ubisoft

 

Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/thedivision/comments/4gjlh5/network_expert_gives_his_opinion_on_hacking_in/

 

And the list goes on...  I've left out links to articles that Glenn himself has flagged as being too inflammatory or negative in general. Glenn was simply attempting to help the gaming community at large understand what the problem is with The Division from the viewpoint of a seasoned software engineer who has literally written the correct type of code himself with a great level of success.

 

As a software developer myself, I not only find this interesting but also very familiar. When we're developing software at REM we always take into account the potential actions of the client machines accessing our software and the best ways to circumvent problems without negatively impacting the website visitor's experience.

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This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

Gear VR Blog Image

 

Well, my early impressions didn't blossom into any interesting.

 

I purchased a great MOGA controller to give the gear VR a fighting chance, but after the novelty wore off (about 3 weeks) my Gear VR is sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

 

My primary complaint is that the maximum time I could keep the unit on my face was about 15 minutes before requiring a heat break, complete with a sweat clean up.   Gross.

 

The secondary complaint is that even the best games inspire a lot of "You've got to see this" comments while immersed.  Unless you buy a Gear headset for everyone in the room, most people are just left staring at some person twisting in unnatural positions.  It's not a shared experience.  I think the lack of sharing relegates the device to a party trick/novelty as opposed to the next big gaming paradigm.

 

With that said.... I will still buy an Oculus Rift for my PC to give it one final chance to win me over during this generation.  Innovation requires investment, so I don't want to bail completely at this point.

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Contributors

Brad Anderson
152
March 26, 2020
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Rob Matlow
87
March 23, 2020
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Christine Votruba
26
January 17, 2020
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Ryan Covert
48
July 26, 2019
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Sean Sanderson
63
July 23, 2019
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Matt Stern
4
July 16, 2019
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Sean Legge
1
June 28, 2019
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Sean McParland
17
June 28, 2019
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Todd Hannigan
47
November 13, 2018
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