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2:32 PM on 06.02.2014  

Modding the DualShock 4

I love the DualShock 4. Seriously, it's my favorite controller that I've ever used, and I've used pretty much anything you could name to me, plus a countless number of third-party offerings. In my 26 years of gaming, I've never used a controller more comfortable.

Except for the joysticks.

The DualShock 4's joysticks really bother me. They just... I don't know, feel like they're going to start wearing out at any moment. Not only that, but they're the only joysticks I've ever used that actually hurt my thumbs after using them for a while. So I figured I'd replace them.

First, I checked to see if the DualShock 3's sticks would fit, but that turned out to be a bust; the bottoms are too big, and the hole that the pegs go into aren't the right shape, so a lot more -- and messier -- modding would be required than I was willing to do. While doing some research, I came upon an interesting discovery: The Xbox One controller's joysticks fit the DualShock 4 flawlessly, and I love the Xbox One controller's joysticks.



As it turns out, the holes on the bottoms of the Xbox One sticks are literally the exact same sizes and shapes as the holes on the bottoms of the stock DualShock 4 sticks. It wasn't hard to find some extra sticks on Amazon, and with the help of my lovely girlfriend, I got to work.

The first thing I did was look up a tutorial on YouTube of how to pull the DualShock 4 apart. It's not too hard, but after unscrewing the back of the controller, there were a couple clips on the sides that gave me a lot of problems. I didn't have one of those plastic separator tools, so I used my fingernails, which didn't exactly feel nice. But whatever, I got it open.



The battery fell out almost immediately, since it's only held in the controller by a ribbon. It's worth pointing out that the battery in the DualShock 4 is the same size as the much superior DualShock 3 battery, and they can be swapped if you want longer battery life for your PS4.

As I opened the controller casing, the triggers flew out onto the floor, but they were easily put back in. There were two small L-shaped springs that were connected to the sides of the triggers, and they're absolute pains to get back into place. The only purpose they serve is to add some extra tension to the feel of the triggers, though, and reassembling the controller without them doesn't make much of a difference; the triggers are fully functional without the springs, but they feel ever so slightly more spongy. On the plus side, removing them actually fixed my sticky L2 trigger.

After disconnecting the battery, lightbar, and motherboard ribbons, I was able to just lift the motherboard out of the casing. This was the goal, since the sticks are connected to the board on the opposite side.



The sticks themselves were easily removed by simply pulling them off the pegs, which my girlfriend did as I held the board (I get nervous putting delicate stuff like circuit boards down, and I try to hang onto them near the edges until I need to put them back). The Xbox One joysticks were then lined up and pushed into the pegs, and the motherboard was put back into the casing.

After everything was back in place, it was just a matter of reconnecting the three ribbons and screwing the back of the controller back on. Everything went back together without a hitch, and as you can see, it looks absolutely gorgeous:



I can't even begin to tell you how much better the Xbox One sticks feel over the stock DualShock 4 sticks. Everything is just as smooth as when I took the controller out of the package, and I couldn't be happier; the Xbox One sticks are a bit taller than the stock DualShock 4 sticks, but the difference is barely noticeable. This controller is perfect now, as far as I'm concerned, and combined with the XInput wrapper for Windows, there's no better controller for PC gaming.

How about everyone else? Anyone dabble in controller modding in the past?

EDIT: It turns out that there are microscopic slots in the controller where the trigger springs are actually supposed to go. Once I figured that out and got the springs to go in, everything felt great when it was put back together. Even with the springs, my L2 trigger doesn't stick anymore, so I suspect that the spring wasn't fit correctly out of the box. (More than one person has reported sticky triggers on these controllers.)

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9:09 AM on 05.06.2014  

Five more things about pedrovay2003



Ooh, it's been a while since we've done one of these, hasn't it? Well, we've all had life updates, I'm sure, so let's get to it! (I'm only doing five, since I've done one or two of these in the past.)

1. I've been published in an actual gaming magazine

Remember when you could actually pick up a magazine made of paper, instead of reading it online? Well, I've recently been doing some writing for Pure Nintendo Magazine, and one of my articles got printed in the actual, physical publication. As a mass communication major and writer, this is still the coolest thing that's happened to me in a while. I'm pissed that the editor used an old copy of the story, though, with some grammatical errors; you can't exactly fix something like that after it's been printed.

2. While I constantly talk about how I hate DRM, I love Steam

Want to know a secret about Steam? It's not actually DRM. Steam's CEG component is its consumer-locking DRM system, and it's completely optional when publishing a game to the platform.

The key word there is "platform." As a platform, I love Steam, and I only WISH consoles could do all the things it does. There are plenty of games that use Steam only as a delivery service, and I'll gladly take those PC versions over console versions any day of the week. I just wish developers/publishers, Valve included, respected their customers enough to know how to use Steam and how to not use it; it's not like Steam's DRM actually slows piracy down or anything, anyway.

3. I can't stand touchscreens



See that picture? That's a picture of my phone, and I love it.

I'm typing this blog on my girlfriend's Kindle Fire right now, and my God. I don't care what the future of gaming has in store, physical buttons will ALWAYS be better than anything that has to do with touch sensitivity. The feedback you get from actually feeling the movement of buttons, a joystick, or a mouse under your finders/hand will never, ever be accurately emulated by merely touching a flat surface. The occasional touch feature in 3DS games and the like are fine, but as a main method of control, no thanks; I generally won't even play an Android game without a controller.

4. I'm very interested in the future of the Xbox One

So, here's a fact-within-a-fact: I think the Xbox 360 is close to being the most perfect gaming machine we've ever gotten. While the later exclusives weren't all that impressive, the system-level features were astounding, and every day, I wish the PS3 (and PS4, for that matter) can do what the 360 can.

With the promotion of Phil Spencer as the head of the Xbox brand, I think we can expect the amazing OS features of the 360 plus a healthy list of exclusives down the line. Yes, I think the price needs an adjustment, and I think we'll get one soon. But for now, I'm hopeful. I just sometimes miss the old-timey Destructoid community that was more tolerant of differing opinions; it seems like every time an Xbox-related story or comment comes up, the bashing ensues without ado.

5. I think the keyboard is one of the worst game controllers ever



A keyboard is good for three video game genres: MMO, RTS, and Surgeon Simulator. For everything else, WASD is a horrendous d-pad that requires three fingers to operate and is used to navigate a 3D space. My PC controller of choice? Mouse+PS Move navigation controller. Yes, I'm dead serious.

The nav controller replaces the separate keyboard keys for movement, giving me a complete 360-degree movement system using just the joystick with only one thumb, while maintaining the precision aiming/cursor movement of the mouse. I've actually tried to go back to the keyboard for games like Half-Life 2 and Metro 2033, and I just can't. And don't even get me started on the original Thief games, which are carpal tunnel sources if you use the keyboard with their three million movement keys.

So, there we have it. I hope I made these interesting enough!

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4:12 PM on 12.30.2013  

PSA: FlingSmash with Wii Remote Plus $14.97 at Kmart



I guess the guys at Kmart don't know that the Wii Remote is compatible with the Wii U, because they're currently getting rid of all their copies of FlingSmash -- which comes with a black Wii Remote Plus -- for the paltry price of $14.97. I don't have any stores around me that have any in stock, but the website seems to have them ready right now.

I already have four Wii Remotes, two of them being Remote Pluses and two of them having separate MotionPlus boxes jacked into them, and even I'm thinking of grabbing this just on principle alone. That's a fantastic price, even if the game is mediocre, and to have it work right out of the box with Nintendo's current console offering? Yeah, that sounds good to me.

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5:38 AM on 12.28.2013  

Every Steam developer/publisher needs to live up to Monaco



I bought Monaco: What's Yours is Mine during a recent Humble Store sale. I haven't even gotten the chance to play more than two levels of it yet, but I like what I've seen so far. However, I'm not here to review the game. I'm here to talk about how Monaco, developed by Pocketwatch Games, may very well be the most well-handled Steam game I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

If you've read ANYTHING I've ever put on Destructoid, then you probably know how against DRM I am, and generally, that goes for Steam, too. I know Steam isn't DRM in and of itself, but Valve uses their own optional DRM in their developed games, so why wouldn't everyone else do the same? Most Steam games utilize the platform's DRM, i.e., forever locking a game to a single account; requiring an Internet connection to install/reinstall a game, even if you have all the files locally available; and requiring the client to unnecessarily run in the background, even for single-player games. Monaco does things a little differently.

If you have Steam installed and start Monaco up, the game runs with Steam, giving you all the benefits of the platform, like achievements, automatic updates, and online multiplayer. If you don't care about any of that, and you just want to know that you'll be able to play your game forever and ever (I'm trying to raise my hand and type at the same time right now), then the game will run completely DRM-free if Steam isn't found for whatever reason (uninstalled, renamed, etc.). Pocketwatch Games programmed Monaco EXACTLY the way EVERY SINGLE DEVELOPER/PUBLISHER should handle Steam titles: They give paying customers all the benefits of Steam, but without a single useless, DRM-related drawback. You can even switch between Steam cloud saves and local saves from within the game itself.



Now, Monaco isn't the only game that works this way; in fact, there's a huge list of games that can run with or without Steam, and some can be "turned" DRM-free the same exact way. The difference here is that Pocketwatch Games has actually advertised it. They've actually gone out of their way to let people know that the game can indeed be run without Steam if desired. This is something that I don't think ANY other developer/publisher, Indie or otherwise, has ever done (at least to my knowledge), and I really hope it continues. I would absolutely love it if some kind of notification existed somewhere on a game's Steam store page to let people know that Steam isn't actually required to play it after the initial download.

Steam's DRM is easily cracked; I defy anyone to name a single, non-free-to-play Steam game that wasn't cracked and put online for "free" within 24-48 hours of it's legal public availability. No such game exists. Yet, here we have a game that's been getting rave reviews, and the developer actually used Steam the way it's supposed to be used: without any restrictions, but with all the features that PC gamers have come to expect from a Steamworks title. What's more is that they're not afraid to do it. They've stepped out into the light to let people know how the game was made, and to make sure people actually feel like they own what they've paid for.

(EDIT: Apparently, the team behind Mercenary Kings did the same thing, and advertised on their Kickstarter that it would be a DRM-free Steam game. I was glad to buy this game after knowing that.)

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is how you treat your customers. THIS is how you make a Steam game: all of the positives with NONE of the negatives. I hope Pocketwatch Games continues to be successful, because something tells me that they're one of the only developers around right now that really, truly gets how PC gaming should work.

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8:05 PM on 12.20.2013  

PSA: Sonics 1 and 2 Remastered on sale for 0.99 each



SEGA is having a mobile sale right now, and two of the games I think everyone needs to buy are Sonic The Hedgehog (Android here and iOS here) and Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Android here and iOS here). Yes, the Genesis games. But these versions have been completely remastered, adding full widescreen, extra characters, extra levels, a higher-quality soundtrack, and save file support. Just 0.99 each is an absolute steal for what I believe to be the definitive versions of the games; I literally can't go back to playing any of the previous releases after playing these new ones.

The Android versions of these games can actually be played on the PC using Bluestacks, an Android emulator. The games play amazingly well, and controllers are even supported, so everyone should be able to play them on bigger screens. The Android versions are also completely DRM-free, so you can back them up and bring them to ANY Android device, and they'll play without any data/Internet connection. They look absolutely fantastic on the Ouya, too.

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4:44 PM on 12.04.2013  

A short tribute to The Super Mario Bros. Super Show



In 2009, the gaming world lost Captain Lou Albano, the wrestler-turned-actor who played Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. It was really sad for me in particular, because I had met Albano a few times when I lived in New York. He always came to my elementary school to do fundraisers and hang out with the kids.

Last week, the other half of the most famous duo in gaming left us. Danny Wells, who portrayed Luigi alongside Albano, passed away at the age of 72. As one website points out, this passing ironically occurred during Nintendo's Year of Luigi.

As sad as these two deaths were/are, I found myself doing the same thing today as I did four years ago: I reminisced about the Super Show. I was absolutely obsessed with video games when I was a kid (not much has changed), and this half-hour TV program made me smile every time it came on. It only lasted for one season, but reruns were aired for years after its cancellation, and I watched them all; it didn't matter how many times I'd already seen a particular episode. Heck, I still have every one of them recorded on VHS tapes and stored in a closet in my basement.

The show consisted of a live-action segment, starring Albano and Wells, and an animated story, in which the two actors lent their voices for their cartoon counterparts. The live-action segments had absolutely nothing to do with the games or cartoons, and was kind of a mini-sitcom that detailed the lives of the two plumbers. And they actually were plumbers, for once!

A lot of celebrities would appear on the Super Show, since celebrities got the big ratings. Even Sgt. Slaughter, another wrestler that Albano had appeared with in the ring, made a guest appearance in one episode. I liked to watch wrestling when I was a kid, so that particular story was a real treat for me.

The jokes were corny, the acting wasn't all that good, and the laugh track was really obvious to even a child, but all of it put together felt like pure magic. It was Nintendo without having to actually sit down and play anything; a production that didn't cost the price of an NES game to enjoy. It gave me a reason to look forward to sitting down on the couch after school. I never got tired of seeing which guest would appear on the Super Show that day, and what antics and arguments the brothers would get into. Would Luigi cause Mario to become invisible, needing to rely on the magician, Blackstone, to restore him to normal? Would the famous wrestler, Captain Lou Albano, make an appearance, always conveniently when Mario wasn't in the room? I loved every second of the cheesiness.

Lou Albano and Danny Wells provided me with some of my fondest childhood memories. I'll never forget that time in my life, when I didn't have a care in the world, and Mario and Luigi were always there to greet me when I got home from school.

Once again, everybody, let's pour one out for our Super Mario Bros. And, as always, do The Mario.

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6:52 PM on 11.05.2013  

Humble PSA: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Scribblenauts Unlimited are DRM-free



This isn't going to be a long blog, but I wanted to let people know of my excitement anyway. Two of the Humble Bundle's games right now are DRM-free, even though they need to be downloaded through Steam.

Scribblenauts Unlimited can just be run, and as you can see from the picture above, it's completely aware that it doesn't need Steam. Arkham Asylum, however, tells you that you can't run it without Steam running. But if you go into your Binaries folder where the game is installed, make a shortcut to ShippingPC-BmGame.exe, and add " -nosteam" (without quotes) to the end of the Target field, the game will launch without Steam. Save data saves and loads perfectly as well, albeit in a completely separate folder than if you're launching the game through Steam.

This makes me really happy. I'm all for digital content as long as I'm completely unrestricted, and thanks to that random trick I found, I am. I bought the bundle strictly for Scribblenauts, since I knew it was DRM-free going into it, but Batman is an awesome surprise.

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5:11 AM on 10.30.2013  

PSA: Outlast is now available DRM-free



I've been holding off on Outlast since it's release, because it was only available through Steam. Well, that's no longer the case, as the game is now available DRM-free through GOG.com, A.K.A. the why-isn't-this-website-the-digital-distribution-standard-yet website, and directly through the Red Barrels website. If you buy it directly from Red Barrels, you get the DRM-free game, the soundtrack and a Steam key for a second copy of the game.

I've heard almost nothing but good things about Outlast, and with Halloween just around the corner, this is a perfect time to dive in. The game is currently on sale for $13.39, which is almost impulse-buy territory for me, especially since I haven't played a really good horror game in a while. After playing both Amnesia games, I'm all in when it comes to first-person horror.

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3:13 PM on 08.15.2013  

Steam on Mac is the way to go



For those of you who have read anything I've posted to Destructoid, you'll know that the title of this blog is completely out of character for me. I can't stand Apple, and I'm constantly talking about how much I can't stand going through Steam to play my PC games. So, what's going on? Have I lost my mind? Has Gabe Newell finally won me over?

No. Hell, no. However, something has recently come to my attention that makes me much more willing to deal with Steam. For the past couple weeks, I've been messing with turning my laptop into a Hackintosh -- running Mac on a Windows-based PC instead of the other way around. I got it to work for the most part (there are still bugs I need to work out), and the first thing I tried to do was download a couple Steam games to test them out. I was playing around with them, and I noticed something interesting about the ones I had tried: None of them needed Steam to be running in order to play them. Now, Steam games are occasionally like this, completely DRM-free, as the choice to implement Steam's DRM is up to the developer/publisher; The interesting part about this story, however, is that the games I tried through Mac OS X actually DO require Steam to be running if you play the Windows versions.

A few days ago, I logged into my Steam account and downloaded the Mac version of The Walking Dead, and I backed it up to a thumb drive. Last night, I went up to my old college library, where quite a few powerful Macs are set up for people to use. I plugged in my thumb drive and started playing The Walking Dead, just as if I had downloaded it right then and there. It played beautifully, too, just as well as the Windows version on my own PC, and this was all straight from a flash drive.



I did some research into this amazing discovery, and I came to find out that the Mac version of Steam doesn't contain the CEG component -- the part of Steam that handles all of its DRM. Some games still do require Steam to run somehow, like most games made by Valve themselves, but the vast majority apparently don't. I looked up some more games online, and the new Shadowrun Returns is another example of a game with DRM if you play it through Windows, but DRM-free if you play it through Mac.

From what I can tell, the majority of Mac Steam games are DRM-free, even the big-name ones.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually considering building some sort of unholy gaming rig just to play Steam games through Mac. I don't even know how to comprehend my own words here, as Apple and Steam are two things I generally really dislike. But it's really amazing to know that there's an official, non-hacked version of Steam out there that's almost -- almost -- as user-friendly as GOG.com. As much as this sickens me, if I'm ever going to get into PC gaming, I think it might just be Mac that makes me do it.

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6:31 PM on 06.19.2013  

Microsoft's DRM reversal is the biggest victory for consumers in recent memory.



I've said -- more than once -- that one of the main differences between PC gamers and console gamers is that console gamers won't take the same restrictive shit that PC gamers seem to so often be just fine with. Well, if today's news isn't proof of that, then I don't know what is.

As I'm sure everyone is already aware, Microsoft is lifting all of its restrictive DRM from the Xbox One. No longer will you need an Internet connection to play what you paid for. No longer will a retail game be forever stuck to you, with only one transfer being allowed. No longer will you have to worry about playing your games in the future. Microsoft, arguably the biggest titan in the electronics industry, as been moved by the will of their potential customers, and it's a damned beautiful thing.

Microsoft is backpedaling. Everyone can see that, and I don't think they're even trying to hide it. I'm sure Microsoft still WANTS to restrict everyone, and some third-party publishers (*cough*EA*cough*) will probably hate the fact that DRM isn't going to be implemented, at least not on an operating system level. But the fact that the customers (or potential customers, anyway) got Microsoft -- MICRO-FUCKING-SOFT -- to do something like this is an ENORMOUS victory. Whether Microsoft likes it or not, the people with the money have spoken, and the chorus is like music to my ears.

Now, I'm not going to go out and immediately change my PS4 preorder to an Xbox One preorder; I'm still not a fan of how the Xbox One requires a Kinect, making it not only $100 more than the PS4, but also raises privacy concerns (and, if it breaks, the system itself becomes a paperweight). But I'll be paying MUCH closer attention to the console now. I've always liked the 360 more than the PS3, but the PS3's free online play always kept me coming back. That's not going to be an option pretty soon here, so it's all going to come down to exclusives and built-in features that the competition doesn't have. But, no matter what I go with in the future, one thing is certain: Game owners (yes, OWNERS) won a very important battle today.

Now, if only we could get rid of all the DRM in Steam.

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12:23 AM on 06.11.2013  

Sony knocked it out of the friggin' park (Shortblog)




It's appropriate that Sony's conference was after Microsoft's, because it seems like EVERYTHING they said and did was tailored specifically to counter everything Microsoft said to piss its former customers off.

No online requirements for retail games AT ALL.

No mention of forced motion controls or cameras watching you.

A cloud-based service that's COMPLETELY optional.

Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV.

A HUNDRED DOLLARS LESS than the Xbox One.

PlayStation Plus members get PS4 games at launch.

MY GOD.

The only negatives I can think of here are a) the console looks like ass, just like the Xbox One, and b) the fact that Sony's going from free online play to charging. This indeed sucks, and I hate the fact that it happened, but at the very least, PlayStation Plus is a hell of a lot more worth paying for than Xbox LIVE Gold (which will still NOT be free on the Xbox One). At least I won't feel like I'm paying JUST to play online, like I did with the Xbox 360 whenever I had Gold, which wasn't often.

As far as I can tell, the PS4 has the freedom that the Xbox One and Steam don't offer, and it has the power and the usability that the Wii U lacks. It seems like this generation is going to be an EXTREMELY easy choice as far as non-handheld gaming systems go.

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2:40 PM on 05.21.2013  

My Xbox One Thoughts

It's called the Xbox One. ONE, not Three.

It looks like a VCR that will blind you if you look at it too long.

It forces you to pay for a Kinect, something nobody wanted in the first place.

It requires an Internet connection to register a game to your account and start it up. In other words, all the bullshit DRM PC gamers have had to deal with for years, now in console form. (One of the reasons I still play on consoles is because I'm not letting anyone tell me when I can and cannot play my games, so this one alone kills any chance of me buying the system.)

Used games require you to pay Microsoft a fee to play them on a different account than the original one. (This is unacceptable, especially since Microsoft is getting the money for other companies' work.)

Microsoft is obviously more interested in TV interaction than gaming.

So, what do I think of the Xbox One? It's quite simple, actually:



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