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Devil Wears Wings
Jul 17, 2006

Deals in Pac, not opinion.

Has your little Wii got you down? Are you incensed by your Xbox or put off by your Playstation? Do you not want to flail around like an idiot with motion controls like all of the major consoles are making you do these days? [Just kidding. Seriously, please don't use this thread for platform warfare. -ed] Well, maybe it's time that you tried something different.



Yeah, that's right. PC gaming will make a man out of you. Even if you're a woman.


I: The Purpose of This Thread

A while ago I noticed that, while every console seems to have its own Q&A/general discussion thread, there's no real thread for PC gaming. The closest thing we have, really, is the Steam thread, and that's more focused around digital-distribution deals than anything else. And let's face it, the PC platform can be daunting for someone who's used to simply popping a DVD in their console and going to town. You've got hardware and software issues to work out, configurations to... uh... configure, and things like monitor resolution, competing digital distribution platforms, and frame-rates all throwing extra wrenches into the works.

Therefore, I want this thread to be a place for us to discuss what's happening in the PC gaming world, to help newbies and people returning to the platform get started, to work out issues regarding getting games to run playably, to offer advice on modding and such, and, well, pretty much anything else not currently covered under the purview of the Steam thread or the various PC hardware threads in SH/SC.


II: Why Should/Shouldn't I Become a PC Gamer?

Advantages of the PC platform include:
  • Greater visual fidelity. Even at "1080p" resolution, the Xbox 360 and PS3 usually render games at 1280x720 (and sometimes even lower!) and then upscale to the higher resolution. Most PC games made in the last 10 years can be made to display in native resolutions up to 2560x1600, whether through game options or through tweaks.
  • Backwards compatibility. No other platform has a twenty-plus-year back catalog.
  • Cheap-rear end games. Because the PC platform has a ton of competing digital distributors, prices on games are lower than on consoles - especially if you pay attention to sales.
  • Free games. Some of the PC's best titles won't cost you one cent. Plus, free fan-made maps and conversions can help to breathe all new life into your old game.
  • Game-enhancing mods. A console game from 1996 still looks like a game from 1996, but Duke Nukem 3D on my PC looks like it was made yesterday thanks to eDuke32 and a high-res texture/model pack. And that's just one example.
  • Control variety. You can grab a keyboard & mouse for your FPSes and RTSes, a gamepad for XBox 360 ports, a flight stick for flight sims (not like anyone plays those anymore), an arcade stick for Street Fighter IV, and more. Unlike on consoles, you're not limited to a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Game variety. The PC features the most active indie dev scene of any other platform save maybe iOS, so there's always interesting stuff coming out if you're a more adventurous gamer.

However, there are some disadvantages...

  • It's not cheap. Building your first gaming PC might set you back $800, and then another $800 every three years or so as you upgrade. More so than with a console, investing in PC gaming is a commitment. You should be sure that you'll actually use it before investing in the platform.
  • It's usually not just "plug-and-play." The cheapest way to get started by far is building your own PC, and that'll take a solid afternoon of installing and configuration. Plus you'll usually need to install games and mess around with game settings before playing.
  • You need some degree of technical know-how. Make no mistake, you'll be tinkering with hardware and software a lot, and while this becomes much easier as you go along, the initial learning curve can be pretty steep.
  • Some game genres barely ever see the light of day on PC. These include action-adventures/Zelda-likes, 3D platformers, fighting games, beat 'em ups, music games (i.e. Guitar Hero/Rock Band), and Japanese-style RPGs. Though these genres do have appearances on the PC platform, they're often developed by indie houses and don't have nearly the level of polish that console titles do. If you're a hardcore fan of any of these genres, you're better off getting a console or handheld.
  • Multiplayer is usually online-only. If you want a platform designed for "a bunch of friends and a couch" multiplayer, go grab a Wii.

I need to add here that I'm trying to be objective in the above. I'm not a console warrior. I own a Wii and iPod Touch 4G along with my PC, and I owned a 360 and DS until recently, and I love them all for their own respective merits. But I also feel that you should know what you're getting into before you drop big on a gaming rig.

But wait! Isn't PC gaming dying?

The "PC gaming is dying" argument is as old as dirt. PC gaming has been "dying," by all accounts, for at least ten years, so it's probably not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, with the advent of Steam, the scene is actually much stronger than it was five years ago.

That said, the PC gaming scene certainly has changed a lot in the past decade. Here's what you can expect to find in the way of PC games nowadays:

1) The odd big-budget AAA exclusive. These generally tend to be RTS or 4X games (Civilization, Starcraft 2, Dawn of War), MMOGs (World of Warcraft and tons of also-rans), casual-oriented sim titles (anything by Will Wright), Western RPGs (Neverwinter Nights, Titan Quest, The Witcher), and FPSes (Team Fortress 2, Crysis Warhead). There's not as many as in the "Golden Age" of the 1990s, but they're still released periodically and they can still justify the cost of a gaming PC in and of themselves.

2) Console ports and cross-platform titles. There's actually been a ton of these in recent years, thanks mostly to how easy it is to port games from the 360. Usually these are "shootery" titles, but sometimes we get a good action-adventure or platformer; for example, in 2010 we got competent ports of Darksiders, Assassin's Creed 2, and Lara Croft, among others. While many console ports are "quick and dirty," and thus require some tweaking to get the most out of, we PC gamers can enjoy things like higher native resolutions, mouse aiming, and better graphical effects on these titles, making them quite worthy of your time.

3) Eastern European-developed titles. Astonishingly, countries like Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic actually have huge PC development scenes. These games all generally share the following things in common: They're arguably pretty, very demanding on hardware, very atmospheric, and sort of rough around the edges. Still, the Eastern Europe scene has produced wonderful titles like The Void, Metro 2033, and the STALKER series.

4) Indie titles. These range from simple-looking freeware/browser games like Knytt and Captain Forever to higher-budget commercial releases like Shattered Horizon that have graphical flair on par with the big boys, and everything in between.


III: What Hardware Do I Need?

Need specific advice on components to pick for building or upgrading your PC? Please don't post it here. Instead, go to SH/SC's Parts Picking Megathread.

NihilCredo posted:

PC gaming is like an RPG in reverse: the later you buy an upgrade the better.

First of all, I would HIGHLY recommend building your own PC instead of going for an iBuyPowerXtreemFatal1tyAlienware pre-built box. Pre-builts tend to suffer from substandard hardware (especially power supplies, cases, and motherboards), bad hardware configurations (for example, sticking a high-end Intel Core-i5 in with a low-mid-range video card), and sizable markups compared to simply buying the hardware yourself. And besides that, building PCs is hilariously easy and idiot-proof these days, so long as you can read directions.

As for pricing/speccing out a PC, the realm of PC hardware is far too complicated to go into in the scope of this thread. Instead, I'll simply direct you to the SH/SC Parts Picking Megathread, where Crackbone and his crack (haha, get it? Crack?) team of hardware experts will be able to direct you toward the best configuration for your needs.

Generally speaking, though, all that you need to "max out" 99% of modern games at a true 1080p resolution is the following:

CPU: A triple- or quad-core Athlon II, generally available for under $100
Video Card: A Radeon HD 6850, GEForce GTX 460, or equivalent, generally available for under $200
RAM: 4 GB DDR2 or DDR3, about $50

Plus the case, power supply, Windows, etc. Seriously, that's it. Hell, even people with high-end Core 2 Duos from 2008 can still use them with an aggressive overclock.

Note on "Gaming Laptops:" Generally, unless you have special needs (you travel around a lot, you're in the military, or whatever), gaming desktops will ALWAYS be a better option than gaming laptops. Gaming laptop hardware needs to be scaled down to run on a portable PC, so you'll generally be paying at least twice as much for equivalent laptop hardware when compared to desktop parts. Plus, notebook gaming hardware hits a wall pretty quickly; even "high-end" mobile GPUs are equivalent to mid-range desktop parts. (For example, the Mobility Radeon 5870, AMD's flagship mobile GPU, is just a scaled down Radeon 5770, a desktop video card that can be had for about $130.) Finally, gaming laptops are generally hot, noisy, have hideously low battery life when gaming, and lose the upgradability that desktops have. That said, there are some situations where you might want to consider a gaming laptop, but generally you should get a desktop instead.


IV: What about keyboards/mice/controllers?

Keyboards: Generally, anything will be at least competent. Just buy whatever you're comfortable with. I use a basic Acer keyboard and have no complaints.

Mouse: Several people in the thread have recommended the Logitech MX-518. Haven't used it myself, but it's supposed to be the best all-rounder on the market.

As for controllers, there's tons of varieties out there and pretty much every one seems to have its proponents and detractors. So here's a bit of general advice: get a WIRED Xbox 360 controller. They're comfortable, reasonably priced, and supported natively by hundreds of games. Why wired? Because the wireless 360 controllers are terribly overpriced and have issues with certain console ports.


V: And monitors?

Check out SH/SC's Monitor/Display Megathread for some recommendations. Just keep in mind that 1920x1080/1200 is basically the modern "default" resolution for desktop PC gaming, so that's probably what you want.

There's a lot of debate over 1920x1080 versus 1920x1200 for playing PC games. The first offers a more "cinematic" view conducive to action games, while the second is more useful for top-down games like RTSes and anything else where a large vertical AND horizontal field of vision are helpful. I personally prefer 1920x1200, but your mileage may vary.

Devil Wears Wings fucked around with this message at Aug 3, 2011 around 17:34

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Devil Wears Wings
Jul 17, 2006

Deals in Pac, not opinion.

VI: Okay, I've got my sweet-rear end PC setup. Now how do I get me some games?

Unlike console games, even big-name PC titles are distributed digitally these days. Basically, publishers will contract with one or more distribution platforms to sell their games through those platforms. The buyer (AKA you) can then select from any of these platforms, purchase the game, and download and install it, all without leaving his or her comfy computer chair.

The PC has tons of these competing platforms, and it can be really hard to make any sense of all of them. Here's some of the ones you'll want to keep track of:

  • Steam (SA Games Thread): Most PC gamers will agree, Steam is THE digital distribution platform for PC. Run by Valve (the guys behind Half-Life and Left 4 Dead), Steam features a lightweight client that also acts as an invisible DRM scheme, allowing publishers to be content with the security of their games without inconveniencing the rest of us. They also have the best, and most frequent sales. Finally, thanks to the fact that you can add links to non-Steam games that you already have installed to your Steam games list, their client doubles as a general game launcher. For that reason alone, no PC gamer should be without a Steam installation.
  • Good Old Games (SA Games Thread): GOG is a site run by a bunch of crazy Poles who update old games to work on modern versions of Windows. Their games are completely DRM-free, meaning that you can install them on multiple PCs, and reasonably priced at $6 to $10 each. They have everything from Baldur's Gate to old Sierra adventure games to Heroes of Might & Magic, all guaranteed to work on modern systems.
  • Direct2Drive: One of Steam's major competitors, run by IGN. They sometimes have good sales and they don't require their own standalone client; games can be downloaded through your browser.
  • GamersGate: Another Steam competitor. Like Direct2Drive, they don't require their own standalone client. They sometimes have good sales too, of which about 10% will be games you've heard of. The rest will be bizarre, shady-looking stuff of dubious origin. But don't let that stop you.
  • Green Man Gaming: A newer, experimental distributor that allows you to trade in "used" games. Often has good sales, but they require that you use their awful download client and their customer support apparently sucks.
  • Impulse: One of the oldest PC digital distribution services. They seldom have any good sales, and their CEO is a big whiny man-baby, but occasionally they have something good.
  • Games For Windows: Yes, Games for Windows sucks, and yes, their in-game overlay and login system is some bullshit. But they've been having a lot of good sales recently, and it's the only place that you can find great stuff like Fable, Age of Empires, and A Vampyre Story.
  • Blizzard Store: Never has sales, but it's the only place to find Blizzard games online so we love them anyway.
  • EA Store: EA's own DD system. Their downloader isn't as bad as it used to be and they often have worthwhile sales.
  • THQ Onlike Store: THQ's own online storefront (duh). THQ often has very aggressive sales on their PC games so it's worth keeping watch on this one.
  • UBIShop: Ubisoft's own online storefront.

Don't want to check all those sites every day? Here's some resources for tracking PC game sales:

CheapAssGamer's Video Game Deals forum: Covers consoles and iOS too, but if there's a good PC digital-distribution deal, these guys will pounce on it before anyone else.
Digital Distribution Deals blog: A nice, clean general run-down of deals on the major DD sites. Useful if you don't want to check 10 different websites for deals every day.

One general rule for PC game buying, though: Unless you're going to play the game you're buying immediately, always always ALWAYS wait for a sale. Otherwise you'll be crying yourself to sleep when that $50 game you just bought went on sale the next day for $20.


VII: "Prettying Up" Your Games

Now that you've got some games, it's time to play them. But wait! One of the main advantages that PC games generally offer over their console counterparts is a sharp increase in visual fidelity. When you first open up the graphical config menu in your everyday PC game, however, you'll no doubt see a lot of things that make absolutely no sense to you.

Here's a brief run-down of some of the common settings you may or may not find in a modern PC game, and how you should be setting them. This guide assumes that you have a PC that meets the hardware requirements in Section III. If you have less powerful hardware, then I'll get to that later.

  • Ambient Occlusion: Enables a type of soft shadowing effect. Can generally be turned on safely, but may be resource intensive in certain scenes.
  • Anti-Aliasing (often abbreviated "AA" or "MSAA"): Eliminates jagged edges (or "jaggies,") allowing for smoother edges on polygonal surfaces. This setting can be very taxing on graphics hardware, especially at very high resolutions. If you're not sure if your system can handle it, then start it at 2x, then up it to 4x or 8x if you don't see any noticeable slowdown.
  • Antisotropic Filtering (often abbreviated as "AF"): Eliminates blurring and graphical artifacts when in-game objects are viewed at an angle. This setting is not very taxing on modern video cards, so you can generally set it to max (8x or 16x in most modern games).
  • Bloom: Enables bloom lighting. A lot of people find it annoying, but it can be very pretty when used well. Can generally be enabled, unless you don't like it.
  • Depth of Field: An effect that makes distant objects look out-of-focus; i.e., slightly blurry. This one is really up to personal preference.
  • DirectX: The "API," or programming interface, that Windows uses to render your game. There are three versions of DirectX communly used today: 9.0C (an older version compatible with Windows XP), 10 (Vista and 7 only, released in 2006), and 11 (Vista and 7 only, released in 2009.) Some games will support only 9.0C and 10, some will support only 10 and 11, and many support all three. Generally you should set the game to render using the most modern version of DirectX available, since enabling DX10 or 11 will allow you to enable some enhanced graphical effects. If you experience slowdowns, however, this should be one of the first settings you drop.
  • Motion Blur: A graphical effect that blurs your surroundings when you move. Generally used to make games look better at low frame rates, so you can safely leave it off.
  • PhysX: A type of advanced physics processing available only with NVidia-based video cards. Disable it if you have an ATI card. Don't worry, though: Few games use it, and pretty much none use it for anything substantial.
  • Resolution: The resolution that you want the game to display in. Know the native resolution of your monitor (i.e. 1920x1080, 1680x1050, or whatever) and set this setting to display in that resolution. Pretty simple.
  • Shader Quality: Controls the quality of lighting and shadow effects. This can generally be safely set to max.
  • Tessellation: Allows additional graphical detail on certain surfaces. Only available with DirectX 11-capable cards (ATI 5000 and 6000 series, NVidia GTX 400 and 500 series). Enabling tessellation can slow your system to a crawl. Enable it initially, but disable it before you alter any further settings if you experience slowdowns.
  • Texture Quality: Controls the sharpness of in-game textures. Can generally be safely set to max.
  • Triple Buffering: An option that helps resolve low frame-rate issues when Vsync is enabled (see below) by creating frame buffers in your video card's RAM. Generally, you should always turn this on concurrently with Vsync when available.
  • Vertical Sync (often abbreviated as "Vsync"): An option that syncs the frames per second that your PC can display to the refresh rate of your monitor. Enable this if you experience screen "tearing," a problem characterized by horizontal "lines" going down your screen when you try to move. Trust me, you'll know it when you see it. Leave this disabled by default and only enable it if you need it.

404notfound posted:

And for an all-around good site for reading up more about this kind of stuff (with game-specific graphics tweaking guides), hit up TweakGuides.


VII Part Deux: Prettying Up Old Games

One of the best advantages of PC gaming is that old games with still-good gameplay often don't have to show their age in the visual department. While a PS2 game will display at 480p with low-res textures forever, many old PC games can have their visual quality upped several notches thanks to fan patches and tweaks.

That said, here's a few tips at getting old games more up-to-speed with modern times:

Source Ports - A "source port" is just what it sounds like: a port of the original game's source code to a new platform. For PC games, that generally means that a game has been ported from DOS or Windows 95/98 to Windows XP/Vista/7. Source ports are free addons that usually require the original game files, and they generally enable things that the original game engine couldn't do: Higher resolutions, better lighting, mouselook, anti-aliasing, and so forth. Generally speaking, source ports are most often developed for old 1990s FPSes, but they can sometimes be found for other genres.

Resolution - The first thing you'll probably want to do is up the game's resolution to your monitor's native res. While not all old games support custom resolutions, you can often enable them anyway with a few tweaks. The Widescreen Gaming Forum Wiki is a great resource for how to do this for any given game; if they don't have a solution for your game, then chances are that one doesn't exist.

Anti-Aliasing & Antisotropic Filtering - Enabling these two filters can easily turn a jaggy, blurry 3D game into one that looks a whole lot sharper. Both can be enabled through your video card's control panel.

Texture Packs - Early 3D games generally have horribly low-resolution textures due to the constraints of system and video RAM at the time. Sometimes, however, independent artists will make sharper, higher resolution replacement textures more befitting of a modern-day game. These packs can often be found on ModDB; otherwise, a Google search is your best bet.

Model Packs - Somewhat rarer than texture packs, sometimes an intrepid soul will redo some or all of the polygonal models in a game to have a higher polygon count. For some early "2.5D" games, these models can even replace 2D sprites! Generally these are best paired with a nice high-res texture pack as well.


VIII: Modding

"Mods" are community-created add-ons that either enhance a game's base ("vanilla") experience or make significant additions to it. Some will even use the game's engine, and maybe some assets from the vanilla game, to create an entirely new single-player campaign or multiplayer experience. And the best part is, they're generally all free!

The process for installing mods varies by game; most mods will come with a readme file with instructions. But Rule #1 is always Backup, Backup, Backup! Do NOT install a mod without backing up your game first. Otherwise you might just end up with a broken game and a whole new installer to download.

There's a TON of resources all over the 'net for mods, but ModDB is a good starting point, especially if you're interested in new single-player campaigns or multiplayer modules.


IX: What to do if your game is running like poo poo

First: If you're experiencing crashes, graphical artifacts, or any other such problems, run over to the Haus of Tech Support. This section is concerned purely with slowdown or stutter, which is far more common, especially if you have an older system.

Your PC outputs a certain number of frames per second to your monitor. This number is known as your "framerate." Many of the visual enhancements I described above negatively affect your framerate.

Generally, a framerate of around 30 FPS with occasional dips is the bare minimum of what is considered "playable." Beyond that, you'll start to see visual "stuttering," or choppy movement. To boost your framerate back up to an acceptable number, here's what you should do, in this order:

1) Turn off tessellation, bloom, and/or any post-processing effects.

2) Drop down to DirectX 10 or 9 rendering. (This can make a HUGE difference where applicable.)

3) Reduce anti-aliasing by one notch at a time.

4) Reduce other settings (texture quality, shadows, etc.) by one notch at a time.

5) Drop your resolution down to a lower one that still matches up with your monitor's aspect ratio (16:9, 16:10, or 4:3). In other words, if you have a 1920x1080 monitor, drop your resolution down to 1600x900, and then to 1280x720. This will make your game look like rear end but may make it playable.

If none of these things work, then your system simply may not be powerful enough to handle the game in question. In that case, it's time to upgrade your hardware.

Devil Wears Wings fucked around with this message at May 27, 2011 around 19:41

Devil Wears Wings
Jul 17, 2006

Deals in Pac, not opinion.

RELEASING THIS WEEK









RELEASED THIS PAST WEEK













"Frontier Colonies Map Pack" DLC


























UPCOMING PC GAMES FOR 2011

Rock Paper Shotgun

Adrian Werner's list - A little out-of-date and containing a handful of delayed/canceled games, but still a good resource.



GAME RECOMMENDATIONS

All of the following games are either PC-exclusive or have PC versions that are generally more well thought of than other versions. All are easily available via digital distribution, and most come highly goon-recommended. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but instead merely a "launchpad" of where to begin as a PC gamer.

(More to come!)


Action
Alien Shooter series - Intense top-down shooters by a team that's honed the formula to an art.
Alien Swarm - A FREE multiplayer co-op, top-down shooter from Valve.
Altitude - 2D multiplayer aeroplane combat. Pure, simple fun.


Action/Adventure
Aquaria - A highly polished, indie-developed "Metroidvania."
Giants: Citizen Kabuto - Part third-person shooter, part Godzilla sim, with some genuinely funny storytelling.
Mount & Blade: Warband - A pretty accurate, and fun, simulation of medieval combat. Apparently really fun in multiplayer.
The Void - Artsy game with naked chicks.


Adventure
Amnesia: The Dark Descent - Horror-adventure. You will wet your pants. And poo poo your pants. And probably do a lot of other unsavory things to your pants.
Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please! - Hilarious lo-fi adventures by a couple of narcissistic Brits.
Broken Sword: Director's Cut and sequels - An enhanced version of the classic '90s adventure. If you like it, the sequels are worth a look too.
Gabriel Knight series - Detectivey point-and-clicks. Master storyteller Jane Jensen's crowning achievements.
The Longest Journey - Long, kind of wordy at times, but well worth the experience.
Machinarium - Just try not to find this simple point-and-click adventure charming. Just try.
Monkey Island Special Editions - In my humble opinion, the best adventure games ever created. Period. If you're looking to start an adventure game kick, start here.
Penumbra series - Slow-burning horror-adventures. Not for the faint of heart.
Puzzle Agent - Twin Peaks meets Professor Layton, with art by the Grickle guy.


Arcade/Score-Attack
AaAaAA!! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity - A falling simulator, and a helluva lot more fun than that description makes it sound.


FPS
ArmA II - Probably the most realistic military shooter out there. WARNING: Requires one helluva CPU, and probably a SSD, to run well.
Counter-Strike Source - Lots of people still play this game and I don't know why, but you might want to check it out.
Crysis and Crysis Warhead - Lush, wide-open jungle environments and Predator-like powers make these some of the best PC-exclusive shooters in recent years.
Deus Ex - Stealthy shooter with RPG elements. Considered by many to be one of the finest FPSes ever released.
Doom and Doom II - The FPSes that started at all. If you've never played them, do it now. Seriously. And be sure to install some visual mods.
Duke Nukem 3D - You can always bet on Duke.
Half-Life series - Atmospheric, story-based corridor shooters. Still second to none after all these years.
Killing Floor - The other multiplayer zombie-killing FPS. Many goons will actually recommend KF over Left 4 Dead.
Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 - Multiplayer zombie-shootin' mayhem. Grab it even if you've played it on your Xbox already; the twitchy gameplay style works so much better with a keyboard/mouse.
Painkiller - A fast-paced, twitchy FPS in the style of Quake and Unreal, except with better graphics.
Serious Sam HD + sequel - Twitchy FPS gaming at its finest.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl - Atmospheric, open-world shooter set in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Team Fortress 2 - Valve's flagship multiplayer, class-based FPS. If you want to get involved in a PC multiplayer community, this is one of the best.


MMO
Guild Wars - An MMO that doesn't require grinding, and therefore just might not consume your entire life.
World of Warcraft - Don't play this unless you want to become an instance-grinding poopsocker.


Music
Audiosurf - Sort of like Guitar Hero plus a racing game, and terribly addictive.


Platformer
Commander Keen series - What the iD guys did before they invented the FPS genre.
Eversion - Yeah, it looks cute, but it's not for the faint of heart. You've been warned.
VVVVVV - An excellent representative of the genre that I like to call, "torture-platformers." You will die. A lot.


RPG
Arcanum - Basically a steampunk Fallout, made by the same guys who worked on the Fallout games.
Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2 - Classic, party-based fantasy RPGs set in the popular Forgotten Realms D&D setting.
Dragon Age: Origins - Yeah, it has a console version, but DA:O started out life as a PC exclusive and the PC version is light years better.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Classic open-world RPG. When modded to hell and back, it's one of the best - and most beautiful - all-around games on the PC.
Fallout and Fallout 2 - Open-world post-apocalyptic RPGs. The original games behind the more modern Fallout titles.
Freedom Force + sequel - Real-time strategy-RPGs lampooning old superhero comic books, developed by Irrational Games (BioShock)
King's Bounty: Armored Princess - A lovely RPG with strategic battles.
King's Bounty: Crossworlds - An expansion to Armored Princess.
Planescape: Torment - When PC gamers talk about genuinely moving video game stories, they usually start and end here.
Torchlight - A classic-style action-RPG with some very blatant homages to a game that rhymes with "Meeablo."
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines - A deep RPG set in the World of Darkness universe.
The Witcher - Polish-developed game with REAL MORAL CHOICES. And tits.


Racing
Super Laser Racer - A top-down combat racer akin to Micro Machines. Now with multiplayer support.
Trackmania Nations Forever - Crazy-rear end racer with lovely graphics. Plus it's free!


Simulation
Dawn of Discovery Gold - A streamlined exploration/trading sim set in the Age of Exploration.
DEFCON - A Cold War nuclear-holocaust-sim, and about as intense in practice as that sounds in theory.
Europa Universalis III - A well-regarded medieval 4X game.
Master of Orion 2 - Widely considered to be the "gold standard" of space 4X games.
Minecraft - Sort of a building-sim-...thing. I really don't know but a lot of people seem to be gaga over it.
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale - Simulates running an item shop in an oldschool RPG. Ignore the anime and just play it.
Sid Meier's Civilization V - Considered by many to be the finest iteration of the long-running civilization-sim series.
Tropico 3 - Create and control your own banana republic. Need I say more?
Uplink - A hacker sim by the Darwinia/DEFCON guys.
X3: Terran Conflict - A space 4X game that the guys around here love. Has a near-vertical learning curve, so NOT recommended for beginners.


Strategy
Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic - Combination turn-based strategy and 4X game. Goons raved about this title for months before they finally released it for digital sale.
AI War - A frantic space RTS that has to be played to be believed.
Company of Heroes - Squad-based, tactical RTS set in World War II. If you're new to the RTS genre, I'd start here.
Heroes of Might & Magic 3 - Turn-based fantasy exploration/conquering game. Three is usually considered the best of the bunch.
Jagged Alliance 2 - Turn-based strategy with RPG elements. Console SRPG fans should start here.
Napoleon: Total War - The latest iteration of Sega's long-running, PC-exclusive Total War RTS series.
Sacrifice - A bizarrely captivating RTS made by Shiny (the Earthworm Jim guys).
Space Rangers 2: Reboot - An RTS-based game that literally tries to do every other video game genre, and actually does it pretty well.
Starcraft 2 - It's the sequel to Starcraft, and if you haven't heard of Starcraft then you've probably been living in a deep, deep hole in the ground.
Total Annihilation - Forget Command & Conquer, this is THE classic RTS. Genre newbies should start here.
Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II - Highly rated, squad-based RTS set in the Warhammer 40K universe.
X-Com: UFO Defense - Defend the Earth from an alien invasion in this classic tactical strategy game.

Devil Wears Wings fucked around with this message at Aug 1, 2011 around 16:02

Aurora
Jan 7, 2008

Runs in the family.


Devil Wears Wings posted:

[*]Backwards compatibility. No other platform has a twenty-plus-year back catalog.

The Wii does.

Anyway, I'm mostly a PC gamer nowadays, but there are a few games I wish I could play on 360 and PS3 that I don't have the money to buy a console for.

Bobtista
Nov 20, 2004

Look at me. I'm Bobtista. I shoot laser from my arms like I'm eight years old.

Seconding that a wired 360 controller is most definitely a must buy for modern PC gaming, with all the console ports coming our way. The fact that I can buy an awesome game like Just Cause 2 for a fraction of the cost on console AND play it in much, much better quality is reason alone to love my desktop.

And you should add L4D + L4D2 to the FPS list.

EDIT:

No Fallout: NV love either? For shame OP.

Bobtista fucked around with this message at Dec 17, 2010 around 23:07

Slow and Serious
Mar 20, 2007

It runs ok.

No Starcraft 2 in your recommended PC strategy games list?

Faze
Nov 25, 2009

Never underappreciated.


Don't forget some much needed accessory items, such as:



and the ever popular, always needed:

nickhimself
Jul 16, 2007

I GIVE YOU MY INFO YOU LOG IN AND PUT IN BUILD I PAY YOU 3 BLESSINGS


I disagree that a gaming PC will set you back $800 or so every three years. My last PC lasted me about 6 years or so. Sure, graphic options had to slowly be turned down over time with newer games featuring better graphics but you can always upgrade individual components.

A new graphics card that can handle today's games at max settings will cost you around $150 or less. That will play games for a few years before you can think about getting something better to keep your games looking much better than console titles.


Edit:

I almost forgot basic maintenance of your PC. It is commonly overlooked by the basic PC user but cleaning out your PC from the inside really, really helps. If you go over to someones house who owns a Dell or HP and see dust coming out of the case, there's a good chance there is a ton of dust inside clogging up the heatsink, fans, and all components inside. Using a can of air to blow that stuff out will seriously help your computer live a while longer.

nickhimself fucked around with this message at Dec 17, 2010 around 23:14

Blunt Force Trauma
Mar 16, 2008

No one gives a fuck about shit.
So fuck your shit.
We fuck shit up,
Cause shit's fucked anyway.
Shit is run in to the ground.

I don't wanna think about it,
I just wanna get down.


nickhimself posted:

I disagree that a gaming PC will set you back $800 or so every three years. My last PC lasted me about 6 years or so. Sure, graphic options had to slowly be turned down over time with newer games featuring better graphics but you can always upgrade individual components.

A new graphics card that can handle today's games at max settings will cost you around $150 or less. That will play games for a few years before you can think about getting something better to keep your games looking much better than console titles.

Yeah, I generally have a fairly beefy PC that can play most games on the highest settings, and I don't think I spend more than $600 every 5-6 years or so - I actually don't buy consoles because they're too expensive

Also, in contrast to some genres not being available on PC, it should be noted that some genres are only strongly represented on PC - RTS games and MMOs are the two biggest examples I can think of.

404notfound
Mar 5, 2006

stop staring at me

Do people really make arguments for and against 1920x1080 or 1920x1200? Seems to me like the logical thing is to just get the biggest one available, hardware horsepower permitting.

Some other good graphics terms to include are ambient occlusion (those soft shadows you get kinda like on an overcast day) and depth of field (the thing that makes things that should be out of focus blurry).

And for an all-around good site for reading up more about this kind of stuff (with game-specific graphics tweaking guides), hit up TweakGuides.

saucepanman
Feb 26, 2009


Always concealed
Safe and inside
Alive


Excellent OP. Good list of recommendations, you can always add more as people see fit

viva la pc

(USER WAS PUT ON PROBATION FOR THIS POST)

Funso Banjo
Dec 22, 2003


Looking forward to this thread growing.

I have a Wii and a 360, but have always preferred the PC for gaming having grown up with a Comodore Vic 20, and an Amiga 500, it's just the natural progression. Consoles are great, but I always feel a bit deflated when an awesome game comes out and it's not available for the PC.

I am particularly looking forward to some deep game recommendations. I am always looking for a game I can get into and it holds my attention for a decent amount of time. So many games are awesome, but a week later you've had enough because it;s just the same thing over and over, or it lacks complexity.

SwissCM
Apr 23, 2003

Fight the system by not tipping waiters! Not by refusing to eat out!

I make this recommendation often: Don't cheap out on the Power Supply. It's one of the most critical components in a PC build and using some cheap-rear end noname brand is always a terrible idea. A 400w Corsair will always be better than a 800w Generic POS that comes bundled with a crappy case. In the past I always used to not bother getting a decent PSU and paid for it with unreliable PCs that ended up dying in some way or another. As soon as I started using good quality ones, reliability skyrocketed.

Also, consider not getting a monitor and just using your TV. Most modern LCD TVs are capable of displaying 1080p just fine and a wireless keyboard and mouse sitting on top a small table you can pull over your lounge chair makes for a great setup and saves money.

SwissCM fucked around with this message at Dec 17, 2010 around 23:52

Devil Wears Wings
Jul 17, 2006

Deals in Pac, not opinion.

Edited OP with the suggestions so far! Keep 'em coming guys.

404notfound posted:

Do people really make arguments for and against 1920x1080 or 1920x1200? Seems to me like the logical thing is to just get the biggest one available, hardware horsepower permitting.

You'd be surprised what nerds on certain tech forums are capable of debating til they're blue in the face.

Catsoup
Mar 4, 2009


SwissCM posted:

I make this recommendation often: Don't cheap out on the Power Supply
Amen.

Great OP, maybe you should include a bit about FOV regarding different monitor sizes and games?

kri kri
Jul 18, 2007



404notfound posted:

TweakGuides.
It's really too bad this dude has pretty much given up on making any new guides, but the old stuff is good I guess. The tech report should hire him or something, the guy just can't figure out how to run his website.

Xmas Dumpster Fire
May 29, 2001


Funso Banjo posted:

I am particularly looking forward to some deep game recommendations. I am always looking for a game I can get into and it holds my attention for a decent amount of time. So many games are awesome, but a week later you've had enough because it;s just the same thing over and over, or it lacks complexity.

Check out something from the Simulation genre. Their not everyone's cup of tea, but are huge time-sinks. Dawn of Discovery and Tropico 3 are excellent, and if you enjoy them, don't be surprised if you dump 100 hours into them. Civilization and many other 4X games will hold you attention for an obscene number of hours as well.

SwissCM posted:

I make this recommendation often: Don't cheap out on the Power Supply. It's one of the most critical components in a PC build and using some cheap-rear end noname brand is always a terrible idea. A 400w Corsair will always be better than a 800w Generic POS that comes bundled with a crappy case. In the past I always used to not bother getting a decent PSU and paid for it with unreliable PCs that ended up dying in some way or another. As soon as I started using good quality ones, reliability skyrocketed.

Anyone who decides to build a computer should have this drilled into their head. Anandtech did a review recently of three different 550W PSUs, just to show the difference that quality and price can make: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3985/...ifferent-prices

Slow and Serious
Mar 20, 2007

It runs ok.

Devil Wears Wings posted:

Starcraft 2 - It's the sequel to Starcraft, and if you haven't heard of Starcraft then you've probably been living in a deep, deep hole in the ground. Not available online as far as I know.
It's here, choice of boxed or digital version : http://us.blizzard.com/store/details.xml?id=1100001122

JosefStalinator
Oct 9, 2007

Come Tbilisi if you want to live.


For simulation, you might as well list the other paradox games (perhaps as a whole), since they all do the job simulating their particular era quite well.

Kaboobi
Jan 5, 2005

SHAKE IT BABY!
SALT THAT LADY!


Great OP.

Add Darksiders to Action/Adventure and Duke Nukem 3D to FPSs THANKS!

spasticColon
Sep 22, 2004

In loving memory of Donald Pleasance

Awesome OP. I always wondered when a thread like this would be posted because all three consoles have their own megathreads. I own a PC, Wii, and PS3 slim but I game on my PC more than my Wii and PS3 combined. I have a Wii for the Mario/Metroid/Zelda threesome and a PS3 for console exclusives and a blu-ray player. On PC, its all about First Person Shooters and Western RPGs. Although right now I'm having a problem with Fallout 3 crashing with graphical anomalies but all my other games run fine and that pisses me off because I don't want to play the gimped console version.

How many of you still gaming on a Core 2 Duo and DX10 video card? I'm still kickin' with an E8400 and GTX260 216 and I can still run most games on high or max settings at 1920x1080. My CPU is starting to show its age though so now I'm trying to decide whether to upgrade now and save some or wait until Intel releases their new processors next month and therefore have to spend more to upgrade. The comedy option of course would be getting a Core 2 Quad for my current system.

Tiramisu
Dec 25, 2006
Tuscan Trifle

Surprised that with all the titles in the OP, you left The Sims 3 out. Sure, everyone's probably heard of it, but everyone's heard of WoW, too.

PC gaming really doesn't need to be expensive anymore. Thanks to the longer console generation cycle and developers primarily working on console games now, mid range pcs can play just about anything with settings maxed out for years.

Kilometers Davis
Jul 9, 2007

They begin again


Nice OP! I just got back into pc gaming again after building a black Friday system. I missed it

Tufty
May 21, 2006

The Traffic Safety Squirrel

This is a fantastic thread with a great OP. I own all 3 consoles () but I mainly game on the desktop PC I built about a year ago. To anyone who hasn't already built one: If I can do it, then you can. When I built my desktop it was my first experience with PC hardware not on the outside of the case involving a USB port but with some research and the fantastic SH/SC thread I managed it and I love my PC

Tufty fucked around with this message at Dec 18, 2010 around 21:11

Quickpull
Mar 1, 2003

We're all mad here.

spasticColon posted:

I have a Wii for the Mario/Metroid/Zelda threesome and a PS3 for console exclusives and a blu-ray player.

If anyone is looking for a good Metroidvania game for PC check out the indy game Aquaria. I picked it up in the humble indy bundle and it ended up being my favorite out of the bunch. It's a bit more atmospheric and less combat oriented but its a lot of fun. Best played with the 360 controller the OP told you to pick up.

PC is always my go to system as someone who doesn't stick with one game for very long and would always prefer to check out something new. The bustling indy scene, constant steam sales and regular beta tests always give me something new to try either cheap but usually free.

Thanks for the great OP.

THE AWESOME GHOST
Oct 21, 2005

THAT'S WHAT THE SONG WAS REALLY ABOUT


Kilometers Davis posted:

Nice OP! I just got back into pc gaming again after building a black Friday system. I missed it

Yeah, I finally built a system last week after having to use laptops for 5 years. I was still able to play stuff like The Orange Box on low settings but I'm looking forward to the upcoming Steam sale because I have years of PC gaming to catch up on. I wish I did a bit more research before buying it though, because I could have spent a little bit extra to get a better graphics card, and maybe a faster HDD (everyone keeps telling me to get a secondary SSD for Windows and commonly used games) but other than that I'm really happy with it. It's a good feeling to be able to max out settings

Wally Joyner
Jul 8, 2004


spasticColon posted:

How many of you still gaming on a Core 2 Duo and DX10 video card?

Im using a E8500 & GTX 285 myself. Why would the C2Q be a comedy option if its drop in compatible with my mobo? I figured id have an upgrade path once the majority of games moved beyond two cores.

Optimus Prime Ribs
Jul 25, 2007



SwissCM posted:

I make this recommendation often: Don't cheap out on the Power Supply.

This cannot be said enough. I was using a Enermax 350W power supply that was top of the line (when I bought it).
Since it wasn't a cheap piece of poo poo it was able to power my computer which has two optical drives, four hard drives and a BFG 8800GT 512MB video card in it.
The baby lasted almost 5 years, between two different computer setups, before it finally died.

Also:

Devil Wears Wings posted:

DirectX: The "API," or programming interface, that Windows uses to render your game. There are three versions of DirectX communly used today: 9.0C (an older version compatible with Windows XP), 10 (Vista and 7 only, released in 2006)

DirectX 10 is available for XP via an unofficial port.
You can get it from here: http://www.techmixer.com/download-d...for-windows-xp/

I downloaded it installed it on my XP machine from there and it works just fine.
No word on a DirectX 11 port yet (that I know of).

Brace
May 29, 2010

by Ozmaugh


I have a Razer Lycosa Keyboard, how should I go about cleaning under the keys of the keyboard as well as the surface of the keyboard?

the dad farm
Dec 6, 2005



I have a Dell XPS right now that i have had since the summer of 2005. It has done me well for a long time but it is just not up to snuff with regards to gaming nowadays. I went online and looked at some pre-built systems and the costs are just way to high to justify doing that.

After reading the OP i am thinking of going the "build it yourself" route, however i am a little hesitant to start dropping money on parts. I am comfortable with spending about 1000$ (maybe a little more) but i really wish i had like a check list of what i needed and what are good long lasting components i could fill those slots with.

Any help would be appreciated!

Mr. Peepers
Mar 11, 2005

Well, I'm a ghost. I scare people. It's all very important, I assure you.

If you want to get a nice mouse for playing games, nothing comes more recommended than the Logitech MX 518. It looks weird at first but performs like a dream. It has on-the-fly adjustable sensitivity, which for certain games is amazingly useful. Two thumb buttons and a clicky scrollwheel round out the package. It's not terribly expensive and I love mine to death.

Optimus Prime Ribs
Jul 25, 2007



Brace posted:

I have a Razer Lycosa Keyboard, how should I go about cleaning under the keys of the keyboard as well as the surface of the keyboard?

Get a compressed air can and blow the air in the keys.
If the keys themselves are dirty (like if you spilt orange juice on them like I did once) then just pop them off and rinse them with water, or soap and water if they're really hosed.

Doc Cylon
May 5, 2010

This is John Crichton paging Doctor Cylon, pick up the phone imperious leader.


Fantastic OP. I bought Minecraft recently (due to the price going up on Dec 20th, seriously go buy it pronto) so I've been drawn back into almost solely PC gaming with the occasional blast on my PS3. Also started the SC2 campaign again on Hard, and I'm getting that itch to play Civ 5 again...

Doc Cylon fucked around with this message at Dec 18, 2010 around 21:52

The Flying Milton
Jan 18, 2005



I just upgraded from a 4870 to a 6850. Pretty excited.

K8.0
Feb 26, 2004

I love DLC, and enjoy visually progressive Diablo armor sets for my tiny penis

(Unrelatedly, I am also a RACIST)


the dad farm posted:

I have a Dell XPS right now that i have had since the summer of 2005. It has done me well for a long time but it is just not up to snuff with regards to gaming nowadays. I went online and looked at some pre-built systems and the costs are just way to high to justify doing that.

After reading the OP i am thinking of going the "build it yourself" route, however i am a little hesitant to start dropping money on parts. I am comfortable with spending about 1000$ (maybe a little more) but i really wish i had like a check list of what i needed and what are good long lasting components i could fill those slots with.

Any help would be appreciated!
Go to SH/SC, there's a thread there that will basically tell you exactly what to buy. The cost/performance sweet spots for high-quality hardware are around $650 and $1000 so you should be able to get something really nice. Building a system is not hard to do or risky as long as you can follow instructions and not decide to forge ahead on your own when you don't know what you're doing.

Kikka
Feb 10, 2010

I POST STUPID STUFF ABOUT DOCTOR WHO


Mr. Peepers posted:

If you want to get a nice mouse for playing games, nothing comes more recommended than the Logitech MX 518. It looks weird at first but performs like a dream. It has on-the-fly adjustable sensitivity, which for certain games is amazingly useful. Two thumb buttons and a clicky scrollwheel round out the package. It's not terribly expensive and I love mine to death.

Seconding this. If you don't already own something you know is better, buy this mouse asap. It's often in the 30 dollar price range, performs absolutely fantastically and fits to your hand like a glove.

Plus, no other mouse has a cool embedded skull face.

angry_keebler
Jul 16, 2006

In His presence the mountains quake and the hills melt away; the earth trembles and its people are destroyed. Who can stand before His fierce anger?

Any discussion of PC gaming has to include Emulators.

Dolphin: You can now play all of your Wii and Gamecube games at 1080p with real controls instead of wiggling your wiimote like a chump. You need a relatively beefy pc, but anyone building a new computer today should be able to run Dolphin, and new revisions improving compatibility are always coming out. You either need a Wii or the trusty LG GDR-816x series DVD drives to read your Wii discs. Playing Metroid Prime 2 with a mouse and keyboard or DKCR with the 360 controller is a revelation.

PCSX2: You can now play all of your PS2 games at 1080p. Gyoru already has a great thread. You need to have a PS2 so you can dump your games and PS2 bios to your PC.


Obviously, the sames holds true for every earlier system, from the Gamecube down to the humble NES.

the dad farm
Dec 6, 2005



K8.0 posted:

Go to SH/SC, there's a thread there that will basically tell you exactly what to buy. The cost/performance sweet spots for high-quality hardware are around $650 and $1000 so you should be able to get something really nice. Building a system is not hard to do or risky as long as you can follow instructions and not decide to forge ahead on your own when you don't know what you're doing.

Does that list include everything i am going to need to have a fully functional PC?

angry_keebler
Jul 16, 2006

In His presence the mountains quake and the hills melt away; the earth trembles and its people are destroyed. Who can stand before His fierce anger?

the dad farm posted:

Does that list include everything i am going to need to have a fully functional PC?

Why not post in the SHSC thread with your budget, resolution, and expectations? We are happy (enough) to offer advice.

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Death By Yogurt
Apr 3, 2007

I'm so underground
I'm in another reality.


the dad farm posted:

Does that list include everything i am going to need to have a fully functional PC?

I built one over the summer using nothing but the advice and links provided in the OP of that thread. I hadn't done more than install a piece of RAM before that.

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