November 25, 2013

BF4 - Round start timer needed

I believe Battlefield 4 needs a round start timer, much like BF3 had.  I personally have BF4 loaded on an SSD and have rather fast load times for the maps (though there are still plenty who load faster than I do). However, there are still many players who still have an HDD, some of whom actually still have only a 5,400 RPM drive.  I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to have to wait a few minutes for the map to load, only to find all the vehicles are taken and points are capped by the time you finally get feet on the ground.

The other night, I played a few rounds on a 32-player conquest server.  I only played a few rounds because it seemed that one team had more SSDs than the other.  I was one of three people that loaded within the first minute of the round on my team, whereas the other team had 10-12 loaded by the time I was up.  Because of this, the other team had all but one flag, and was pushing on our final flag by the time the rest of my team was finally on the map.  Because the game does not seem to shuffle teams well between rounds, it was this way for three rounds, and my team was never able to take back enough flags to get a lead.  However, both teams seemed matched well enough that if all had been allowed to load before being able to leave deployment, it likely would have been a close round every time.  Having faster load times clearly gave the other team a significant advantage.

November 24, 2013

BF4 Raw Rounds - Golmud Indecision

I have uploaded another raw round.  This is a particularly good one in terms of the quantity of bad decisions that one can pick apart.  My team is absolutely stomped, and I am no help.  Part of the problem was that I was trying a little of everything and not focusing on just one thing, such as destroying tanks, holding an objective, repairing a chopper, or following squad mates like a puppy dog.

I tried shortening it a bit by speeding up some of the running/no action sequences, as well as cutting some of the spawn screen delays while I was having trouble deciding what to do next.

One of the interesting things about watching my raw footage is realizing just how slow my reflexes are.  In-game, I feel as though I am constantly moving and decision-making.  However, when I watch it back, I realize what I thought was a snap judgment in-game was actually very delayed and slow. I will have to work on that.

It was just after this round that I decided to change my playstyle a bit.  While it doesn't always work, I am trying to choose one thing to focus on for each round, such as being more patient.  Patience has actually been my most frequent focus since my Where Did I Go Wrong - Overextending video to try and reduce the number of times I overextend.  I must say, a conscious effort on one thing makes a difference.  Hopefully, my next raw round will actually show a bit of improvement.

November 19, 2013

BF4 YouTube Series - Where Did I Go Wrong

I am trying out video editing as a new hobby and an extension of my gaming hobby.  In doing this, I am trying to offer something new that I don't see a lot of game play from a average/below average player, and analysis from the angle of, here's what I did wrong and how I could be better.  There are tons of helpful YouTube producers out there, but seeing empty server footage, or video of their best moments doesn't always help us learn how to avoid our worst moments.

For that reason, I am creating a series focused on those worst moments and how to have fewer of them.  In my Where Did I Go Wrong series, I take a clip in which I do something bad (usually, I die) and discuss how it happened and what I could have done differently.  I then show the clip again with full game sounds I believe feeling "in that moment" it part of what helps learning from bad game play stick.  I can watch videos from others all day and really have an understanding of the theory behind how to be better, but making it happen in-game is a different story, at least for me.

I welcome constructive criticism of both the video editing and my game play.  I am a noob at videos, and I play like a noob in-game.  I have a lot to learn in both places.  I am aware that my microphone sucks.  I am hoping to get a better mic for commentary after the holidays.

November 13, 2013

Battlefield 4 Raw Rounds

The first Battlefield 4 Raw Round is posted on the Heplinger Gaming YouTube.  Hopefully game play videos can become a fun little hobby from which I can share gaming as a related hobby, as well as share things that help myself and others improve in-game.

Raw Rounds is something many in the Battlefield 4 YouTube community offer, where they post videos of rounds that have little to no editing.  I hope for mine to tell a bit of a story.  As much as I love the Battlefield franchise, I am terrible at it.  I intend for this series to show the evolution of my game play as it (hopefully) improves.  At the very least, by watching these back I plan to learn from my mistakes, and hope others can as well because most raw rounds posted are the best rounds from really good players, not average rounds from a below-average player.

As I learn about video editing and how to quickly and efficiently find key points in my game play, I hope to bring other types of videos as well, again to help people learn along with me.  If all goes as planned, I can bring the community a new perspective - Battlefield 4 through the eyes of a super casual player striving to improve.  Constructive feedback on my game play and videos is always welcome.  Trolls will be left under their bridges.  ;-)

November 6, 2013

Battlefield 4 Freeze and Sound Loop

I have been one of the "unlucky few" that found Battlefield 4 to be unplayable initially due to the game constantly freezing with a sound loop (the last sound played repeats without end).  During the first five days after the game's release, I managed about 20 minutes of play time and never actually completed a round due to freezing up.  Thankfully, the single player campaign worked, most of the time, so I managed to get through about half of that.  I also spent a fair deal of time looking into the freezing issue and trying to find answers, and testing out my attempted solutions.

I have managed now to play a few hours with only one freeze.  Unfortunately, there are still server crashes, so I can never be sure my game would not have frozen if the server hadn't crashed.  What I finally did that seemed to help the most is to run the game in "Borderless" mode instead of "Fullscreen".  You can change this option in-game under the video settings.  However, I cannot be absolutely certain this is the ultimate fix; it just happens to be the most recent thing I tried before it started working.

In my research, I found a multitude of things seemed to work for other people, some of which are contrary to what I did (such as rolling back video drivers).  I will not go into much detail on those; rather, I am simply going to list the things I tried in hopes that some part of this will help others get the game to a semi-playable state before a patch gets released.

  1. Updated to the latest video drivers (I have an AMD card, so it was version 13.11 beta 8)(go here for NVIDIA drivers)
  2. Manually updated Punkbuster
  3. Turned off the Origin overlay (the function that allows you to hit Shift + F1 to access Origin while in-game)
  4. Update to the latest drivers for my onboard audio (I thought I was updated, but my motherboard site did not actually have the latest drivers, so this took a little research)
  5. In the Battlefield 4 settings file, change the GstAudio.AudioQuality setting from 0 or 1 to 4.  I am not sure this changed anything for me, but others have claimed this has fixed the sound that cuts out on the Lancang Dam map.
  6. Reinstall DirectX to be sure it is latest version
  7. Reinstall .Net to make sure it is latest version
  8. Repair the BF4 install (in Origin, right click on BF4 and select "repair installation")
  9. Disabled HDMI audio drivers in the Windows Device Manager because it is not used, and I was trying to eliminate all conflicts
  10. In the in-game console (accessed via the tilde "~" key), type "RenderDevice.RenderAheadLimit 1" (without quotation marks).  This limits the number of frames your CPU pre-renders for the GPU, which can help cut the load on your CPU.
  11. Close everything - I went through the task manager and closed all non-essential processes
Despite all these things, I still experienced freezes until I changed to borderless mode.  I played the game with HWMonitor running both before and after all these changes, and never found my CPU or GPU to be overheating, ruling that out as a cause for the freezing.

Hopefully, my game will continue to work without freezing, and the recent R7 update for servers will end the majority of crashes, and I can go on to enjoy Battlefield 4.  If my game does freeze again, I will likely try closing AMD's Catalyst Control Center (I left it on as an essential process because my GPU gets too hot of the fan is not running 50% or higher).  I remember having a similar sound loop and freeze issue with Bad Company 2 that almost completely went away when I uninstalled MSI Afterburner, so BF4 may be having a similar video device program conflict.

One thing I should add is regarding the in-game sound.  After updating my sound drivers, I lost VOIP.  I could see people speaking in my squad, but could hear nothing.  I also had sound cutting out really bad.  I went into my Windows playback device settings and changed the speaker settings from 44100 Hz, 24-bit to 192000 Hz, 24-bit.  The next time I started the game, VOIP had returned, so it seems it does not come through on the lower frequency Hz.  I still have sound occasionally cutting out (last night on Operation Locker, there were no gun or other environmental sounds, just the sounds of soldier's voices), so I am going to try changing GstAudio.AudioQuality back to 1 to see what happens.

Update: I played for quite some time last night. My game froze up a couple times within a out 3-4 rounds. I checked the settings and realized it had reverted back to full screen. I changed the setting and encountered no more freezes. However, BF4.exe stopped working a couple times, which really isn't any better than a freeze, though that thankfully seemed to happen between rounds, and may have been connected to me Alt + Tabbing out to use Battlelog to change my load out. Also, even with the audio setting change, Golmud Railway and Lancang Dam have serious audio cutout issues. I also kept hearing a squeal, like a locking noise, when I was not in a vehicle and no one was nearby to use a locking weapon.