Death Stranding: The Director’s Cut was due to be released on the Mac on the 2nd December, but has been moved back to the 31st January 2024.
Even Kojima-san (who came and visited us at SMG a few months ago along with film director Nicolas Winding Refn) can push back release dates at the last moment. Actually, that’s not quite true. I’m guessing it’s all to do with 505 Games, Inc., as they’re the ones that ported the original PlayStation game to Windows PCs and have consequently ported the game to the Mac. No reason has been given for the delay, but at least they’re willing to delay in order to fix any last minute bugs, etc.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing how well this game fares on a Mac on both a professional and personal level. Death Stranding is an absolutely superb game, and is currently my all-time favourite. So I’m happy to wait a bit longer for it to appear on my platform of choice. In the meantime, here’s hoping the dystopian cat game, Stray, gets an on-time Mac release – due the first week of December.
Resident Evil Village has just been released on the iPhone 15 Pro (only) and iPads with M1 and M2 SoCs (system on chip). It features PS4 assets which is, I believe, the first time that a mobile game has deployed such a thing. But given the size of the iPhone 15 Pro (and Pro Max), I ask myself this question: why? Why go to the trouble?
I downloaded a copy from the App Store to have a play about with, and the first thing I noticed was how bad the user interface was. Firstly, you’ve got to use a virtual touch controller or some other physical game controller (such as a PS5 or Xbox controller) rather than touching on menu options. I’ve never gotten used to virtual touch controllers – I find them too small and fiddly and when you’ve got multiple action buttons, the game becomes unplayable. The only way to play titles like those is to use a proper game controller from the Xbox or PlayStation console. That kind of defeats the purpose if you’ve already got the consoles!
You could use the USB-C function to hook the phone up to a monitor, but then because you’re just mirroring the screen, you don’t use all of the screen’s resolution. Plus, it runs at a much lower resolution to that of the iPhone’s native display. Not very Pro, Apple.
So, I think we can pretty much forget the iPhone Pro becoming a Nintendo Switch-like competitor because it tries to be everything, and that’s not always a good thing. Narrative games that require little or accurate input from the user, and the usual mobile culprits like Candy Crush and other simple UI games are about as much as the iPhone (or any other phone for that matter) will ever achieve.
This leads me to the new M3 family of chips destined for a newly refreshed MacBook Pro and iMac range. As I bought my M2 Max laptop earlier this year (and work providing me with a M2 MacBook Air), there is no chance in hell I’m going to be rushing out to buy an M3 Mac even if the MacBook Pros now come in a “Space Black” colour. If you want a fully tricked out MacBook Pro, it’ll cost you a staggering £7,200 (128Gb RAM and 8Tb of storage, 16-core GPU and 40-core GPU). Performance is a bit of a mixed bag, judging from the various commentary from those that have spent time studying the specs. Memory bandwidth performance is down a little, but overall memory is up (e.g. 32Gb becomes 36Gb) and you can now buy a MacBook Pro with a staggering 128Gb of RAM. Performance between an M2 and M3 equivalent is said to be similar between the M1 and M2 series. So, there is no love lost there.
The M3 series is really there for those people who have remained on Intel Macs all this time. Trust me, if you’re still on an Intel Mac, moving to an M1, M2 or especially M3 is going to amaze you with just how much faster things are.
The M3 does finally include hardware ray tracing for graphics, which is nice. But all this means very little unless Apple can convince developers (looks away, whistling) that developing games for the Mac (and iOS/iPadOS) platform is worth their while. Games that have been released aren’t going to play as well on a MacBook Air or lower end MacBook Pro than they would on an M2/M3 Pro or M2/M3 Max which has many more GPU cores. It’ll be interesting to see what the performance is like with Death Stranding when it’s released on the Mac platform in just over two months’ time.
The built-in touchscreen LCD displayed text in Arabic only – with no option to switch languages unless one had a pretty good grasp of the Arabic language. So, I did a bit of Googling and found that Netgear had a Netgear Mobile app for this kind of router. I downloaded that to my iPhone, connected the iPhone to the M6’s Wi-Fi network and then used the Netgear Mobile app to connect to the router’s admin interface – in English – where I could then change the LCD display’s language from Arabic to English.
Before all that, however, I tried to fumble my way through the Arabic interface and ended up updating the firmware for the router entirely by accident. Had to be done anyway. But it still doesn’t explain why the sealed device shipped with Arabic as the default language. Has O2 been dealing with Trotter’s Independent Trading?
Once I was in properly, I changed the admin password, configured the DHCP settings to match that of the previous set-up (although Netgear omits the ability to set reservations), changed the settings on the Nighthawk RAX200 router that I was using with Virgin Media to become an Access Point only, disabled the Wi-Fi on the M6 and rebooted everything (including the Netgear switch).
Everything came back online as if my broadband never died in the first place. I had internet access for all my devices again, and there was an initial flurry of competing devices as to download updates, etc. which rendered internet access from the laptop almost impossible for several hours as O2 doesn’t have the greatest range or performance in this area – max. of 30Mbs (but usually around 10Mbs) download and 5-7Mbs upload. It took a while for everything to settle down before it was all usable again.
The M6 unit is much smaller than I expected, but everything is easy to get access to. It operates in three modes – battery optimised mode (but less performance), performance mode (with battery) and maximum performance mode (but you have to take the battery out). I’m currently running on maximum performance mode without the battery. When I travel, I’m going to need to get a case for the unit and battery along with the USB-C cable to power everything with. The supplied power dongle is a bit flimsy – but thankfully I always carry a UGREEN 100W wall charger with me that should be able to replace that on my travels.
I’m still going to need fibre broadband here as multitasking with different apps and devices puts a real strain on available internet bandwidth – and 4G connectivity (no 5G from O2 here – yet) can’t compete with that. But’s infinitely better than nothing, and better than tethering the iPhone to the one device. The big bonus of using the M6 is its replaceable battery (with additional batteries charged at £34.99) which makes it a much more viable option when travelling (along with sharing the connection with your phone, tablet, and other devices that you might be carrying with you – ideal for couples and families!).
I’ve just became a member of the fediverse and spun up my own Mastodon server. I’ve used a domain that I snapped up after watching Ted Lasso which I think is highly appropriate for social media: bantr.co.uk.
Now, I should make it clear that you don’t need to run your own server to be part of the Mastodon/fediverse. You can sign up for hundreds, maybe thousands of servers depending on your interest, for example. Many servers cater for a particular subject or interest but join other servers to form a unified network. See joinmastodon.org for more information.
It’s important to note that it hosts only one account at the moment: mine (@[email protected]). Nobody else can sign up for an account (yet) as I have limited resources which I don’t want to abuse. Usage is very low at the moment, and I’m still figuring out the best way of maintaining everything without it blowing up. But so far, so good.
I got back into Mastodon again once I found out that Zuckerberg’s Threads intend to join the fediverse – and what that means is that servers like Threads or mine can all exchange messages together to form one big social media network. But as a server admin, I have additional powers that allows me to block other servers or other users on other servers of interacting with my server or users. Each server operator can set their own rules as to how messages are sent and received.