Death Stranding: The Director’s Cut (Mac)

Now that Kojima’s Death Stranding: The Director’s Cut has landed on iPhones (15 Pro/Pro Max only), iPads (M1/M2 only) and Macs (M series), I thought it would be a good time to put the game through its paces on a high-end MacBook Pro (M2 Max with 32Gb RAM) and an M2 MacBook Air (24Gb RAM). But first, a word about the iPhone and iPad editions: make sure you get yourself a controller – because the touchscreen controls are insane. It took me five minutes just to get past the title screen.

Now, Death Stranding on an M2 Max with 38 GPU cores is gorgeous. It defaults to 60 frames per second, but I changed that to 144 to match my external monitor’s refresh rate and enabled very high graphics and models. The machine handles the game with absolute ease. I ran this at a 2560×1440 resolution (QHD) It pays every bit as well as the PC edition and it’s really nice to see a game like this run so well on a Mac.

Performance on my M2 Max is outstanding…

But the 15″ M2 MacBook Air didn’t fare as well with the same settings (obviously). Anything above Medium graphics/model settings will result in a horrifically sluggish performance regardless of frame rate.

But after some tinkering, I discovered the best settings for a 15″ MacBook Air M2 is to set the graphics level at Medium and make sure that you set the MetalFX mode, Temporal Upscale, is set to Performance. The settings I’ve used for the MacBook Air are show in the following screenshots.

But generally speaking, when you have the right graphics settings on the M2 MacBook Air, and after a bit of stuttering when the game starts, it all soon smooths out and it’s a very good experience. I managed to get a good hour’s gaming in without any issues. It looks good on the lower-end Mac, though expect the CPU to hit the near 90 degrees (celsius) thanks to the lack of fans in the machine.

It’s also a big beast, weighing in around 77Gb. On the 15″ MacBook Air, I had to enable Game Centre in System Preferences otherwise the game wouldn’t even load – it just sat there until I had to kill it off in the Terminal. So remember, regardless of whatever Mac you use: make sure you enable Game Centre before starting the game for the first time!

I think 505 Games have done an incredible job overall. A MacBook Pro with a good number of GPUs is recommended, obviously, but it’s good to know that the game runs well even on more limited hardware.

The Apple Vision Pro: Ouch!

The Apple Vision Pro is an expensive toy, reserved for people with money to burn. The AppleCare+ insurance alone is $24.99 PER MONTH. Apple is certainly putting a big bet on this device, and in all honestly, I don’t believe it’s going to pay off in full. But it will drive the augmented reality field forward a bit, but not in the way Apple (or others) thinks it will.

It’s not a social device. It’s not something people can easily share (and for me, I’d need the $149 prescription package). And every single headset for VR or AR is fiddly, with cables all over the place. The Vision Pro is no exception. This has the potential to be Apple’s biggest flop since the Apple Newton or even the Pippin games console.

That’s a pricey meatball!

The device is now available to pre-order on the US Apple web site. Only available in the US for now.

Another IT fail..

This made me chuckle

If there is one thing that really gets on my nerves is that every localised search engine used in web applications or mobile apps are usually absolutely rubbish. Even YouTube has problems – I usually find what I want by using Microsoft’s Bing, strangely enough, as that does a better job searching for specific YouTube videos than YouTube’s own search engine. Bing can find stuff within YouTube descriptions when YouTube’s own search engine seemingly cannot (although it is meant to).

This is another thing that leaves me bitterly disappointed in modern information technology.

BBC iPlayer bug on macOS still there after 2 years

After finish watching Mr. Bates vs The Post Office, I’m really getting rather shirty with public corporations. I was looking forward to downloading and watching the entirety of BBC’s QI starting right from the beginning, but the BBC iPlayer client for macOS (current version: 2.3.18) still has problems resuming playback of content that was downloaded that I started watching, but cannot resume having closed iPlayer previously.

Most of the time I just get the purple spinning wheel of doom (as shown below) and I can’t do anything. Sometimes the show loads and starts playing back, but only very occasionally. I have to go back in to the BBC iPlayer website and redownload the bloody thing again, which is a pain in the arse.

I originally reported this problem back in March 2022 (case no. CAS-7120181-P8X3B1) and provided them with all the feedback I can could (log files, screenshots, etc.) and they were able to reproduce the problem, though only occasionally. At least I wasn’t going mad. But I have another complaint – the ONLY way to get hold of iPlayer support is through an extremely limited web form. It doesn’t even allow you to respond to replies via email. If you want to reply, you’ll need to use the web form every time, making sure to quote the case number.

It’s an absolute nightmare keeping track of what’s going on as you get an acknowledgement of your enquiry, followed up by the reply. And it soon adds up:

Plus the web form doesn’t accept any files for uploaded. If you need to share log files or screenshots, you’ll have to use either WeTransfer or Dropbox as pretty much anything else is blocked by the BBC.

This was the last correspondence I had with them about the problem:

So they’ve identified the problem relating to load. Presumably this referring to server load (e.g. it’s too busy to respond), but I don’t understand how this could be. The content is supposed to be downloaded offline and the only communication it really needs to make with the server is DRM related – e.g. confirm the content is still valid for playback (e.g. check that it’s still within a valid expiry date). Yet the version of Windows iPlayer has never had this problem, nor the iOS/iPadOS version.

With the BBC license fee increasing, I expect better from them. The only reason I tend to use iPlayer on the Mac is the ability to resize the playback window which I can’t do with the embedded web player.

Ah, technology. Trying to make things better but making them worse.

New Star Wars movie spoils the TV show

So, we’re getting a movie based off the Mandalorian Disney+ TV show instead of season 4. That’s fine – it might help get more bums in seats at the local cinema again – but the big problem it introduces is:

  • Will there still be enough news Star Wars content to keep Star Wars fans with DIsney+?
    • How long before the new movie appears on Disney+ and will it include extras including commentary?
    • Will there be a physical release? Will the extras match parity with the Disney+ or will physical release get the goodies?
  • If you haven’t seen the Mandalorian yet, doesn’t the title alone spoil the series? It took them a while before they revealed the true name of Baby Yoda. On the other hand, Baby Yoda’s true name has been discussed ad infinitum across the internet and is now the worst kept secret.
  • Will there be any further Mandalorian TV series?

Like most movies, I tend to wait until they’re released on the streaming services (or iTunes – which I “buy”). It’s still a very confusing time for physical media – is it going to continue or are the studios going to force us into streaming or services like iTunes in which the service provider or distributor can pull a purchased title from your library at any time?

I just can’t get excited about any of this stuff anymore if I’m brutally honest. The US studio system has royally screwed the pooch and nothing they can do can make me excited for any TV shows or films. My spending on them has gone down considerably, and cancelling Sky later this year will further reduce my interaction.