What Lego City Undercover Has Proven

lego-city-undercover

Lego City Undercover is an extremely lite GTA style open-world game for computers and consoles that proves it is possible to make a popular family friendly open world game that is still fun but without profanity, prostitution and excessive gore.  In addition to this, the main playable character in Lego City Undercover is a police officer.  Yep.  That’s right, you play as a cop (Chase McCain) and actually have lots of fun and adventure in the process.

There are many fans of GTA that will always defend what it is. They will say it would never be possible for a similar game to exist that could be as fun unless the profanity, gore and prostitution exists.  I have long believed however that this claim could be proven wrong if only the game existed.  (By the way, I believe it’s actually the profanity and prostitution that is being defended from GTA games rather than the exploration of the beautifully rendered game world.

Enter Lego City Undercover

Lego City Undercover nearly achieves the objective of “fun to explore”.  Note I said nearly.  The world of Lego City has adventure and extensive exploration including flying helicopters but remember, the vehicles, aircraft and characters are made of computer generated Legos.  There is no blood and gore here just broken Lego bricks which is fine for what it is.  The sandbox open world style of Lego City Undercover is fun to explore even for adults like me but imagine if this world was not Legos but was a living breathing world complete with realistic looking people and vehicles.  (Imagine if there was an actual train horn for the trains…. something Lego City Undercover is inexplicably missing.)

If Lego City Undercover wasn’t made with Legos

I believe the concept and story found within Lego City Undercover is brilliant and should be developed into a realistic looking game world.  Even though Lego City Undercover is amazingly fun as it is with Legos, a realistic looking version of it (including a working train horn for the trains) would create a whole new game for me (and others) to play and completely accomplished without prostitution, profanity and excessive gore.

Will we ever see a cleaner GTA looking kind of game?  As of this post, one game to keep your eyes on is Police 1013 currently in development.

 

 

 

 

 


The Crew and the state of open world games

Third Person Open World Games Miss the Mark

My Review of Lego City Undercover on Steam

Police 10-13

Audacity

180movie

Athiest Movie

 


Image source

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Modding and Making Cities Skylines Better

 

 

CS_buildings

Last time we took a look at Cities Skylines in 2018.  Today I want to discuss a few mod’s (modifications) I enjoy which serve to make Cities Skylines better and also we will look at some essential upgrades I think Cities Skylines needs “out of the box”.

Let’s first look at making Cities Skylines better with mods.  I use a few basic mods but am limited by what my computer can handle.  This is also true when downloading assets (buildings, vehicles, trees, etc) that have been created by the modding community found in the Steam workshop.  The more assets one downloads for the game the slower your game will run.  (my system specs are located at the bottom of this post for your reference)

Mods to enhance your game

 

Loading Screen Mod  One way to help speed up the loading times for Cities Skylines is by using a great mod called Loading Screen Mod by thale5.  Thank you thale5 for this great addition to Cities Skylines.

Find It! –  If you are going to be using assets in Cities Skylines, The Find It! mod by SamsamTS is an essential addition to help you quickly locate assets while in-game.  Very useful. Thank you SamsamTS for this great addition.

Move It!Move It! a mod also by SamsamTS allows for the quick-moving and copying of assets while in-game.

Fine Road Tool and Fine Road Anarchy – Two great mods that work together for allowing the manipulation of roads!  Thank you SamsamTS for these essential mods.

Ambient Sounds Tuner 2.0 by BloodyPenguin – Want to turn off or control individual volumes of sounds in-game? This mod will help you do that.  Thank you BloodyPenguin for this fantastic addition to Cities Skylines

Kra’s Realistic Ambience Sound Pack by KraIstGerecht –  And better sound pack to remove and change some annoying default sounds from Cities Skylines. (Ambient Sounds Tuner by BloodyPenguin list above is needed to use this pack)  Thank you KraIstGerecht for this great addition to Cities Skylines. 

Chirpy Exterminator by simssi – Essential mod if you want to remove the Chirpy from Cities Skylines.  Thank you simssi for this great mod. 

Slow Speed by Scott – Don’t like unrealistic speed of the vehicles AND people in Cities Skylines?  Other mods may allow control over the speed of vehicles but this mod slows the speed of the people too!  Thank you Scott for this essential mod.

Emergency Light Changer by boformer – Necessary mod if you want control over the color of lights on emergency vehicles from blue only to red and blue (American style).  Thank you boformer for this essential addition to Cities Skylines.

American Road Signs 2.2.0 by Judazzz–  Want the American green looking signs in your game? This mod does just that.  Thank you Judazzz for this amazing mod.

Daylight Classic by BloodyPenguin – Essential mod for removing the default yellow color from default Cities Skylines and giving the game a more realistic sunlight look.  Thank BloodyPenguin for this great mod.

Automatic Bulldoze v2 by mexahuk – Makes bulldoze management easier and automatic in Cites Skylines.  Thank you mexahuk for this great mod.

Road Options a.k.a Crosswalks Remover / Road Colors Changer ++ by TPB – Essential mod if you want to be able to quickly have control over your road colors and more.  Thank you TPB for this great mod.

Advanced Vehicle Options (AVO) by SamsamTS – Essential mod to allow some control over your vehicles  in Cities Skylines.  Thank you SamsamTS for this great mod.

Improved Public Transport 2 by BloodyPenguin – Great mod for allowing more and easier control over your transit system.  Thank you BloodyPenguin for this great mod.

Traffic Manager: President Edition by LinuxFan – Necessary mod if you want control over intersections, roads and more.  Thank you LinuxFan for this fantastic addition to Cities Skylines.

Building Themes (Green Cities) by BloodyPenguin, boformer, SamsamTS – Great mod for controlling your district styles in Cities Skylines.  Thank you BloodyPenguin, boformer, and SamsamTS for this great mod.

These mods are some of the best mods that simply help Cities Skylines be more accessible to the average user without adding the need for dependencies (except the sound packs)  into your game.  These mods play nicely with each other too (no conflicts as far as I know) and are easy to install/uninstall through the Steam workshop.

If you are interested, here’s a complete list of mods and assets I have subscribed to in Cities Skylines

CS_town

 

A Better Vanilla/default Cities Skylines

It is my opinion Cities Skylines could be an even better game by doing a few simple things.

Seasons.  The game needs Seasons by default or at least a Winter/Summer change (snow/no snow).

District Names Overlay On/Off Toggle.  The District Styles feature is lacking already in Cities Skylines but it really needs a simple ON/OFF name toggle to allow hiding/unhiding of districts name overlays that appear directly on your city while in-game.

Better default Anti-aliasing and Optimization.  This game seems to have memory problems and doesn’t graphically look that clean by default.  The edges on buildings, roads and well just about everything are jagged even on high settings without a mod.  In my experience any mod (such as Dynamic Resolution to counter the anti-aliasing problem only slows down older computers and seems to make my game look worse).

An American Overhaul. This is more of wish than anything but without mods, Cities Skylines doesn’t look American as SimCity accomplished quite well.  Semi Trucks with 3 trailer wheels? Railroads with catenary lines everywhere? Of course the emergency vehicles sirens are not American either and the overall look of buildings and houses don’t look anything like the kind we see in the United States.

Better Road Building Tools.  At least one that allows for sharp junctions and more control over where they can be placed.  Mod’s fix this but why not the vanilla game?

Conclusion

While Cities Skylines has weaknesses, it is still a great city builder and simulator especially with mods.

Do you play Cities Skylines? What do you enjoy about Cities Skylines? Let me know in the comments!


My System specs

Heres a quick look at my computer system. Yes I told you it was old but surprising Cities Skylines still runs okay (without many assets).   Microsoft Windows 10 Pro   System Type: 64 bit AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 945 Processor x4  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 4gb ram)


Cities Skylines

Cities Skylines Disasters expansion on Steam

Paradox Interactive

Cities Skylines on Steam

Find me on Steam

Hope

Audacity

Fullyfreefilms.com


Image source from my in-game screenshots

It’s 2018: Revisiting Cities Skylines

cs_snow

Today we revisit Cities Skylines, the city builder simulator/game (for computer and now consoles).  Remember? It’s that game that tried to replace SimCity 2013 and for many of us, was successful for the most part.  I have reviewed Cities Skylines in the past but there have been quite a few expansion packs and mods released since then so I figured it’s a great time to get a fresh look at the game and what I think about it in 2018.

Criticisms and Recommendation

While I do not hesitate to recommend this game especially for you who enjoy computer city builders like SimCity, I haven’t shied away from noting some frustrations with the game as well.  And at that time, the primary feature I have needed to force myself to overlook is the non-American influence and look of the in-game building models, vehicles, signage, road and track styles (Cantenary lines), etc no option to change them without mods.   Of course, since this game was made in Europe I can kind of understand the European influence but this isn’t always the case with games no matter who makes them.  (Police 10-13 for example is being made in Australia and as far as I can tell, appears to be quite American.)

Expansion Packs

Now it’s 2018 and Cities Skylines remains the only city builder for computer that has withstood the test of time and in my opinion has only gotten better.  There are expansion packs and DLC which enhance the game.  I will only be commenting on the expansion packs I have installed.

There is After Dark, which brings a few night related policies and styles to the game.  Snowfall, which brought snow-covered maps to the game, including trams for any map but did not bring us seasons, more on that later.  Match Day adds a Futball/Football stadium, which in America we refer to as Soccer.  There is the Mass Transit expansion which notably adds some more transportation options, such as Blimps, Large Airport, Taxi, Monorails, Cable Cars suspended from a cable (not to be confused with San Francisco cable cars) and ferries.  The final expansion pack I have installed as of this post is Natural Disasters.  The Natural Disasters Expansion features as you might assume naturally occurring ways to destroy your city (then rebuild it), such as flaming Meteor, Earthquake, Tsunami, Forest Fire, Building Collapse, Sinkhole, Lightning strike and Tornado.  In addition to some disaster related buildings and options, this expansion also adds helicopter air support including police patrol, fire, search and rescue and medical choppers to the game. Green Cities is the most recent expansion pack to be released which I can’t comment on since I don’t have that one, yet.

cs_one

What Do I Really Think of the Expansion Packs?

SnowFall

In my opinion, all of the expansion packs offer something important to enhance the overall game-play of Cities Skylines.  For example, in the Snowfall expansion pack the included trams are a necessity if you want to build a proper city.  SimCity 2013 included trams by default so SimCity fans will love having trams from the Snowfall expansion. Mods will let your download custom trams (such as this awesome cable car from San Francisco by stockjr97) which enhanced the city experience.  I recommend picking the Snowfall expansion pack up on a sale (either Steam or the Paradox website).  Also as the title suggests, snow is included but not as a season.  (boo hoo)

Neglecting seasons or at least Winter/Summer city building on the SAME map is a mistake because even the Sims 3 has snow and summer on the same map.  Right now, with Snowfall, (without mods in the game) a Winter map must be chosen in order to see snow and to enjoy some included winter parks such as an ice rink, ice sculpture park snowman park, sky lodge, curling, snowboarding, Christmas tree and more.  Water line heating has also been introduced with this expansion but I have not experienced it as a necessity on a non Winter map.

Mass Transit

Mass Transit expansion is a must for the added transportation options it brings to the game even if you don’t want to use them all at the same in your cities (but we try, right?).  Why wasn’t trams included with this pack?  I’ll try to understand, it’s about marketing.

Natural Disasters

In my opinion, the Natural Disasters expansion is fantastic simply for the helicopters which get added to the game!  Random disasters can be turned off in the options menu and just as in SimCity, any disaster can be summoned at will whenever—if you so choose. (Although I have noticed a curious increase in tree fires in my city since I have installed this pack).   However if you do unleash a disaster or two, remember you might want to save your city first.   (by the way Paradox, we want Alien UFO’s and a large monster to eat the buildings)

After Dark

In the After Dark expansion, I am not totally sure all that it does but it will include a prison, prisoner transport van,  nice hotel, casino, and some policies as they relate to tourism and leisure especially after dark.  Oh I get it, After Dark!   (by the way, the day/night cycle was already included in the game for free in an update.)

Conclusion

So is Cities Skylines better in 2018?  The short answer is an obvious yes but mostly because of expansion packs and mods.  The modding community has been busily creating more great content and in my opinion necessary content to the game.  I may need to do a post about that soon.

Do you play Cities Skylines? What do you enjoy about Cities Skylines? Let me know in the comments!

 


Cities Skylines

Cities Skylines Disasters expansion on Steam

Paradox Interactive

Cities Skylines on Steam

Find me on Steam

Hope

Audacity

Fullyfreefilms.com


Image source from my in-game screenshots

How to destroy a city without losing it in Cities Skylines – Natural Disasters

disasterone_CS

If you have the Natural Disasters expansion pack for Cities Skylines it’s pretty simple to wreak havoc on your city with say, a tornado, an earthquake or a meteor strike (or two or three) without actually losing the hard work you put into building your town.  That is, assuming you save it first.

cs_city

Manually Save Your City First (Disable Auto Saving and Random Disasters)

Besides simply saving your city, there are a couple of things you must do to preserve your city or town if you want to for example, watch that Tsumani flood your town.  But before you watch any natural disaster level your city, if you don’t want to permanently lose your city you will need to also disable AUTO SAVING of your game and disable random disasters.  Disabling these two options are very important if you don’t want any surprises later.

cs_options

Disable Auto Saving and Random Disasters

In the options menu (on the main menu) or within the gameplay menu while in-game you must uncheck all the entries for automatically saving your game (such as to save a game automatically every 10 minutes or more).  Why do this?  Doing this insures you will have full control over your city before and after a disaster strikes.   You don’t want the game to overwrite your city with an auto saved destroyed copy of your city by mistake!  You will also need the make sure the Random Disasters option is unchecked too.

cs_ingameoptions_marked

When you are sure the appropriate options are disabled (not checked), you can build your city and prepare your city for its impending doom.  (If you have a created a city already that want to see a disaster strike, load that saved city and just remember to make sure all the options I have mentioned above are disabled before you unleash any disasters!)

If you haven’t already, you can add some of the buildings to your city which are included with the Disasters expansion such as an evacuation bunker, early warning system, helicopter depots and radio antenna if you so choose.  It’s up to you what you do before you destroy your city just make sure it’s manually saved if you want to access it later.

 

Pick a disaster and watch the aftermath

When you are satisfied with your saved city, you are ready to pick a disaster.

The destruction caused by the disaster can be pretty devastating on your city but no worries because if you did everything correctly you will always have an untouched saved copy waiting to be destroyed again, and again if you so choose!

Obvious but important note:  Do not save your city after a disaster (without renaming the destroyed city first)  if you want have access to your original untouched city in the future.


Disclaimer:
My tips are intended for entertainment purposes and not officially endorsed by the maker of Cities Skylines. If you don’t want to lose your city, please save it. I will not be responsible for lost cities.

Like Cities Skylines? Read my review here

Like Simcity? Read about my updated SimCity (2013) (aka SimCity 5) experience here.

 


Cities Skylines

Cities Skylines Disasters expansion on Steam

Cities Skylines on Steam

Find me on Steam

Hope

Audacity

Fullyfreefilms.com


Image source from my in-game screenshots

Windows 10 Fast Boot a Source for Many Desktop Booting Freezes

win10_screenshot

Microsoft may recommend Fast Boot but it has been source for many freezes to my Windows 10 desktop

If you have Windows 10 on your computer, chances are you have seen your computer crash, freeze, hang or have some other undesirable behavior especially after performing feature updates.  I have seen my computer refuse to boot into the Windows desktop after the Anniversary Update released in 2016 after several attempts. This freezing phenomena again occurred just recently after receiving the Creators Update released in the Fall of 2017.   The reason?  Fast Boot (which Microsoft apparently recommends) was automatically enabled after the feature update (I had disabled it before).   (And in case you are wondering, I have seen this freezing issue related to the Fast Boot enabled on at least three separate computers.  Why Microsoft doesn’t address this issue I do not know. )

So, if you are able to get to your desktop or your computer hasn’t been frozen entering the desktop, the first thing I recommend is to disable the Fast Boot feature ASAP which is found under Power Options.  (Note:  If you know your Fast Boot option is enabled and you have never had any issues with booting into the Windows 10 desktop, by all means feel free to leave it on!)

Disabling Fast Boot in Windows 10

1. Navigate to Power & Sleep Settings in Windows 10.  (Type in Power in the search bar or icon located at the on the taskbar at the bottom on your desktop.)

2.Click on Additional Power Settings (Usually located to the right or towards the bottom of the Settings window under Related Settings)

power_options_win10

3. In the Settings window that opens, click on Choose What the Power Buttons Do option located to the left of the Power Options window.  (Note: this will be part of the Power options found in Control Panel)

fastboot_powerbutton

4. The window System Settings will open.  Four check boxes will be listed with the Fast Boot options listed first.  Usually it is grayed out and the box has been already checked.  To uncheck it, simply click on Change the settings that are currently unavailable.

fastboot_win10

5. Uncheck Turn On Fast Boot (Recommended)

6. Save the changes.  That’s it! Making sure this little hidden nugget from Microsoft is unchecked has fixed a lot of startup problems on my computers.  Hope it can help you.

 


There may be lots of bad news out there but see what Hope looks like at FullyFreeFilms.com

Windows 10 Creators Update

Anniversary Update

Audacity Movie

180movie


Images are screenshots from Windows 10 on my computer

 

Would you be interested in a family-friendly version of Grand Theft Auto?

Vlc_2013-08-15_08-23-01-13

The question was once raised, “Would you be interested in a family friendly version of Grand Theft Auto?”

And my response is, absolutely.  By now, there are mods available which turn GTA games including GTA 5 into a similar family friendly gaming experience.  Yet I believe there is money to be made for any game company/developer who developed a GTA 5 style open world game without the extensive profanity, sex and violence (specifically against others) which GTA games are known for.  Essentially it could be GTA 5 lite.  This game would feature the same map, same natural environment including AI traffic but different gameplay options.  Police patrol? Yes. Catch bad guys? Yes.  Cause explosions? Sure.  Fly?  Drive?  Run? Yes, yes and yes.

In-game options are always good

Another option would be for Rockstar games to include a filter(s) within their games.  Simple on or off options for language.  Street dialogue profanity on/off.  Assassin’s creed Black Flag includes a similar option to remove blood.

We already see games which feature beautiful scenery but do not focus on swearing, sex and violence at every turn.  The CREW Wild Run is a perfect example.  However, The CREW only features a driving mode.  No running, walking, doing police patrols, exiting your car, etc.  In fact you can’t get out of your car at all.

Just Cause 2 is another example of a great open world game without sex and extensive swearing. In fact, the swearing can be virtually eliminated by lowering the volume for dialogue.  However, Just Cause 2 does not feature a modern American style city nor a map or vehicles like GTA 5.  Additionally, there is a lot of violence in Just Cause 2 (explosions and commando style shooting)—against the bad guys.

Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption outside of missions doesn’t even feature all the sex, violence and swearing one can find in GTA 5.  Red Dead Redemption isn’t available for a PC nor does the map feature a modern American-like city.  In fact, RDR is a western game.

Modding GTA games

An open world game that virtually eliminates swearing, sex and allows the player assume the role of a good guy or as a cop will get my business.

At this point I will note the mod for GTA 5 called LSPDFR. LSPDFR is a police mod essentally allowing the player become a cop in the GTA 5 world.   The trouble with mod’s is how they cause GTA games to crash.  In the meantime, I will be waiting for a permanent solution to LSPDFR or even the family friendly mod for GTA 5.  Is Police 10-13 going to be that game?

 

Would you like to see a GTA 5 family friendly version or similar?


The Crew and the state of open world games

Third Person Open World Games Miss the Mark

Police 10-13

Audacity

180movie

Athiest Movie

 


Image source

The Crew and the State of Open World Games

Pic_20180109_004833_4096x2160

If you haven’t heard of it, The Crew is a massive online open world type game for PC and gaming consoles centered on driving cars and motorcycles.  The game allows the player to drive and race cars and motorcycles (2015 version) across a modified map of the United States.  Did I mention the map is large?  When the The Crew was released at the end of 2014 it was nice but was limited in its gameplay features and visual detail. It received criticism for it’s less than stellar graphics and static weather among other things. The game at that time did not feature dynamically changing weather as it does now in the most recent version of the game from 2015 (The Crew Wild Run).

Pic_20180109_003535_4096x2160

It is now 2018 and The Crew has been out for a few years but it still has many exciting elements to it.  For example, the world has been injected with a vibrant living world including people, animals, aircraft, balloons, and new and improved jumps and ramps.  I find this game a great rediscover since the original release of the game.  And if you purchase the expansion pack called Calling All Units, players can play the game from the cop’s side of things–with limitations.   Now it’s the limitations to The Crew  which make this game another great example of an awesome open world style game falling short of its full potential.

Game Limitations (and frustrations)

Let start with the police player limitations.  When playing as a cop in The Crew (Calling All Units) the player must gather wait for a notification enter a chase with another player.  Did I mention this game is online only? (I will get to that later.)   But seriously, why do I have to wait for a notification to chase another player?  And the chase isn’t a typical cops and robbers police chase either.  The driver you are chasing must take a crate from one point to another before the live police player can catch up to them.  It’s fun but it could be better.  What happened to patrolling the streets and pulling over speeding drivers, other online players and Ai drivers on a regular street?  In my opinion that would truly make for a great (and perfect) police expansion to The Crew.  There are limitations on the vehicle you get drive.  Opening up the number and variety of police vehicles would make things more fun too.

Online Only (sometimes stinks)

When playing the Crew, other driver players must sign in to play the game.  Live people are playing alongside you as you explore and race in this massive driving world. Sounds fantastic, right?  Sometimes this is great fun and sometimes it would be nice to be able to drive and explore the game with only AI drivers and without drivers who insist on trying to run your car off the road or engaging in demolition derby.

The Crew has been improved, visually since its first release.  But like other open world style games, there is great room for improvement especially in the realistic department.  In GTA 5 for example, we find many limitations and annoyances.  The game might feature a visually stunning map of grand proportions but a lack of realism and it’s over-the-top gratuitous elements ruin the game.  While it is great fun to blow things up and see large explosions I find types of games that feature disgusting profanity at every turn and on nearly every street corner as does GTA games ridiculous and unnecessary.  A simple profanity filter in the settings could fix this.  And as to the violence and sex, I do not play a game to kill bystanders or to have virtual sex.  I play open world games to mostly be able to explore the map and see the scenery whether it be by foot, in a car, boat, plane, train or motorcycle and have some fun with explosions, killing bad guys and playing as a cop in the process.  Oh, and did I mention the graphics and map should be at least as stunning and expansive as GTA 5.  I have yet to find this type of open world game but perhaps Police 1013 will be that game.

 


 

The Crew

Fullyfreefilms

Audacity Movie

Police 1013

The Crew 2


images are personal in game screenshots

MyPillow®: Is the High Price Justified and Should I Buy One?

Pile_of_pillows

Most of us have seen or heard the infomercials and commercials on TV and radio for MyPillow®.  Mr. Lindell is a great communicator and he is the founder and inventor of MyPillow®.  I want to trust him when he says “I personally guarantee MyPillow® will be the most comfortable pillow you’ll ever own.”   But is the MyPillow® pillow really that good?  I could use a new pillow because mine is turning a yellow-brownish color.  But should I buy a MyPillow®?

Is this pillow amazing or what?

Radio and TV Talk show host Sean Hannity (who is awesome by the way) discusses the benefits of owning a MyPillow® pillow on his radio show.  The testimonies found on the MyPillow® website proclaim nothing but praise and adulation for this pillow and the wonders it does to help in sleeping better.  With all this positive jubilation I’ve heard and read about the MyPillow® I am nearly persuaded to buy my own MyPillow® pillow just to experience the hype …er… pillow myself.  But there is a problem that has been keeping me from purchasing my own.

What about the price

First, the price of the MyPillow® pillow is not cheap.  I have seen it for close to $50 at Walmart to as much as $90 online. The high price for any pillow causes me to pause and it certainly does with a purchase of my own MyPillow® brand pillow.  And yet, there is an even bigger problem that price holding me back in such a purchase.  And this second problem is not an easy one for me to overcome.

There are reviews

What I have learned so far about MyPillow® started with a quick visit to a few website reviews such as Amazon, Walmart, Better Business Bureau and YouTube.  All of these sites feature either mixed reviews or some candidly negative opinions about this pillow or the company who makes MyPillow® with positive comments in the mix.  Positive reviews and comments are great and essential to sell a product but negative reviews about a product never sit well with me.  When I read or watch reviews, I take into account user error, bias, tone, the details provided and the overall quality of the comments within the review.  But even honest and fair reviews for MyPillow® seem to expose something unsettling about this product.   For starters, the grade letter on the Better Business Bureau website certainly doesn’t help this cause especially when companies pay the BBB to appear on their site.  Hmmm.

I have read about and watched reviewers who have cut open a MyPillow® brand pillow and reveal what appears to be nothing more than shredded pieces of foam in varying shapes and sizes. This might not be problematic if this was all there was to tell. Many reviewers claim the MyPillow® is lumpy.  That theme repeated itself more often than I think it should have unless it were true.  And I can understand why this might be when there are lumps of foam clumping together under one’s head in the form of a pillow!  How about the return policy?  User experience seems to be all over the map on this one.  Some folks claim an easy return while others claim customer service was unhelpful and the high price for return shipping had to be paid by the customer.  But back to what’s on the inside of the pillow. Perhaps this foam (or whatever it is) is made of a high quality material and that’s why the pillow is expensive?  I do like that MyPillow® is made in the USA.

Questions

So the question that remains still remains.  Is this pillow simply a cheaply made pillow that should cost around $10 and some reviewers have suggested but has instead been marketed at a higher price so we the consumer think it’s a luxury pillow? Of course, that would be deceptive and that wouldn’t be good publicity for any company would it?  Or, is this pillow in fact a truly a high quality product that one could justify in paying a price of $50 to near $90 or more?   Well, right now I don’t have the answer but I do wish I could try out a Premium MyPillow® before I spent more than $10 on my own.

If do get my hands on a MyPillow® pillow I will update this post and give you my first hand…..or head, experience and thoughts.

I want to hear from you. Do you have (or know someone) who has first hand experience with the MyPillow® pillow?  Feel free to let me know in the comments below.


 

MyPillow® Online

A MyPillow®Video Review  

Another MyPillow® Pillow Video Review

Films every person should see before they die

Watch hope in action Audacity Movie

What does Hitler and Abortion have in common?


Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed within this post are that of the author’s in his endless quest for the truth.


Image source and credit:  Danpape (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

X-Plane 11 – Should You Buy It?

Cessna_172SP_hum2
Cessna 172SP X-plane 11 over Arcata, CA

This post is a quick review of my experience using X-Plane 11.  I hope to help you answer the ultimate question of Should I buy it? while I add some personal comments along the way.

X-plane 11 is an advanced flight simulator by Laminar Research which utilizes modern 64-bit architecture found in today’s computers along with the latest GPU’s and CPU’s.    I will list the pros and cons I found in using the X-Plane 11 Demo and ultimately purchasing the complete X-plane 11 simulator on Steam.

This review represents my experience after running X-plane 11 on an older computer.

My Computer Specs: CPU- AMD Phenom II 945 Quad Core, MEMORY- 8 gb ram, GPU- GTX  750ti OC 4gb memory, HARD DRIVES- Two 500 gb, One 250 gb

Cessna_172_Hum

Pros/What I do like

User Interface (UI): 

Pleasing to the eyes.  The UI in X-plane 11 has been given a complete and welcome overhaul from past versions of the sim. Old and new users will find the settings easier to navigate and understand. Whether configuring a joystick, flight yoke or tweaking the sim’s graphics, the simple sliders, added search function and visuals make configuring X-plane 11 to your liking fun and intelligent.  I personally enjoy the new layout and views for displaying aircraft, airports, weather and the visual representations of various flight yokes and joysticks simply wonderful.

Lighting: 

Impressive. The lighting in X-plane 11 is simply amazing and in my opinion, more realistic than ever.  I have been using X-plane 10 global the past few years and after first running the X-Plane 11 Demo, I immediately noticed a vast daylight improvement over the previous version of the sim.  The sun is more dynamic and bright, with better rendered shadows–as one would expect on a bright sunny day.  At night, HDR lighting adds more realistic vibrant lights on cars, buildings, aircraft and runways.  (Note: need a good graphics card with at least 4 gb ram I recommend for HDR and to utilize maximum effects within the sim)

Sound:

Good. Aside from the ATC audio, general environment and aircraft sounds are quite realistic and pleasing.  Audio for default X-plane 11 aircraft is generally acceptable.  I have found aircraft audio mostly depends on the aircraft you fly and their original quality, whether payware or free.  (As expected, payware aircraft tend to be more realistic both visually and sound-wise)

Clouds: 

Clouds appear to be softer and whiter in X-plane 11 but my FPS did take at least a 10 point frame rate drop when flying in heavier fog/cloud layers.  Clear skies it is.

Frame-rates (FPS):  

I have been pleasantly surprised by the improvement in frame-rates in X-plane 11 over X-plane 10.  (Settings for my machine are 4x anti-aliasing, HDR High,  Shadows on,  Scenery Options Medium -Low,  Reflections off. ) My system is quite old but even with my older processor and the GTX 750 ti 4gb I was able to hover around 30fps when flying in my hometown  (KEKA, KACV)*.   At these settings within the Demo Area I was able to get around 22-23 fps, clear day and even better FPS at night. )

Graphics/Autogen: 

Overall the default textures for terrain, buildings, road-networks, airports etc. are fantastic in X-plane 11.  Days (and nights) are more realistic  than ever in X-plane 11 with the new haze (particle system?)  that has been added to the atmosphere.   As mentioned before, HDR lighting makes street lights, runways, and aircraft lighting look real.  Yes I enjoy lights. With a decent graphics card (the more memory the better)  visual settings and lights will look great in your sim.  The trains/traffic have even been updated in X-plane 11 too!

Addons, Plugins and Tweaking

If you like tweaking,  modding and using addons you will love X-plane 11 because adding custom content is a breeze in X-plane 11.   (The FlyWithLua plugin is a great example)

 

An important note about default X-plane Airports for new users:  Some default airports in X-plane 11 will not include buildings but updated airports which do include buildings, hangers and terminals are being added to X-plane via updates.  Find out about the airport gateway hereBuild/improve your own airports with World Editor (WED)


Cons/What I don’t like

 

User Interface (UI): 

While I completely enjoy and welcome the new easier to navigate and appealing layout of the UI, I still find myself wishing I could control certain settings.  This of course is my coming from using X-plane 10 which allowed control over those settings in the UI.  For example I would like to be able to disable birds, deer and boats. I see no options to disable those.  And if fire and balloons still exist within the game (haven’t seen them yet in X-plane 11) a disable option would be welcome for those too.  I would also like to be able to control the number of cars on the road, and the number of roads, separate from the number of buildings.  For me adjusting them is from a cosmetic and a realistic stand-point.  (My town for example has many roads, but very few cars or buildings.)

Sounds: 

ATC in X-plane 11 make work more realistically than in it did in previous versions of X-plane but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t tried it yet.  I find the synthesized voice that is used completely unbearable to listen to.   Some default aircraft such as the helicopter produces some wonky rotor sounds which sound more mechanical than realistic.  Screeching tires sounds are better but still exist in the default Cessna 172 which I don’t like.

Steering/ Controls: 

It might be just me, but I find the steering/rudder controls of the default Cessna 172 and helicopter erratic and somewhat difficult to control on take-off.  New users especially users coming from FSX may have some difficulty at first.

Clouds

While generally clouds and fog in X-plane 11 are good we know they could be improved visually in terms of their shape, definition and overall appearance.  Thunderheads and storm clouds should appear like tall menacing thunderheads (cumulus cloud) rather than layers of stratus.  Contrails in X-plane 11 need fixing (more on this in the graphics section below).

Graphics:

Of course the visuals can always be improved and I know the X-plane developers are working hard on so many awesome aspects and improvements for X-plane 11, including realistic clouds and autogen.  However, aside from unrealistic ATC audio, two areas that really distract my flying is the terrible rendition of airline contrails when viewed at a distance and the deer/birds that pop up when you least expect them.  Right now default X-plane 11 is showing black/grey contrails which are hardly realistic.  The first time I saw it I thought the plane was on fire.  I will be looking forward to new longer and actual white aircraft contrails (as seen in FSX) which would improve the visuals greatly in X-plane 11.  Being able to disable unrealistic looking deer and birds on the runway would be fantastic too.  Thank you Laminar Research.

 


Should You Buy X-plane 11?

If you love flight sims such as FSX or Prepar3d, than yes of course you should buy X-plane 11.  X-plane 11 runs better and the atmospheric visuals are impressive.  In addition, the improved UI  and the realistic lighting is enough to give this simulator an emphatic positive recommendation from me.  However, I also recommend first trying out the Demo for X-plane 11 before you spend the money on the full version (either on Steam or via X-plane.com).   With the demo version you will be able to see how well (or poorly) the sim runs on your particular machine while you experience the new user interface, flight controls, included aircraft, weather and lighting systems this great flight simulator provides.   And let’s not forget about the plugins and script addons which help this sim too.

Final note:  X-plane 11 is always being updated and improved.  Users can opt in or out of beta’s releases of the simulator if that is something that interests you.

 

*KEKA/KACV –  as of this posting these default airports did not feature airport buildings/hangers but I did add custom created content in my game.

 


Disclaimer:  The opinions and information expressed in this review are my own and are based on my own experience.  These views or opinions are not intended to reflect the views or opinions of Laminar Research nor any of the developers of X-plane 11 in any way.

 


X-plane 11 Official website

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X-plane 11 on Steam

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My X-Plane 11 Review on Steam


Images are my in-game screenshots from default X-plane 11.05