All posts by Ævar Örn Kvaran

Developer, Tech enthuasist on a quest to ever improve my skills and myself

My 2017 favorite games list

10 – Everything

Game that is really good to play alone or with kids. Ultimately it does something I have not seen in this way before. Using gameplay to delve deeper and drive the point of Alan Watts philosophy deeper than you otherwise could. Given the time you are given in this world, the philosophy starts to mean more than just what you get from the words. For me I started seeing the world in a different light…. I also just had fun flying spears and fences around.

9 – What Remains of Edith Finch

What remains
Like Tacoma, it tried out some new things for the “walking simulator” playing with different styles and light gameplay mechanics to spice things up a bit. This game is absolutely beautiful, sad, interesting and touching.

8 – Tacoma

The long awaited second installment from fullbright, makers of gone home. I really liked the system shock vibe it had, as well new way of displaying “audio logs” in an interactive way. Its take on corporate future and normal life within in it was fascinating

7 – Bayonetta

The PC Port of bayonetta launched in 2017 and was my first experience with the series. Ridiculously over the top action/adventure hack and slash game with a latex wearing protagonist. I thought the combat was satisfying, the surprisingly insane cutscenes and combat arenas, and creative special moves, while being a bit uncomfortable about how sexualized the main character is. The camera does go for a lot of ass shots in some cutscenes but generally the protagonist is a forger of her own destiny and the game never takes itself too seriously.

6 – Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild

My first Zelda since the second Zelda, goes deep into mixing authored content with heavily systems driven game-play. Does so masterfully. However the story and quests are very light and feel quite old and used compared to modern games. This is no witcher but makes exploration and climing up towers really fun, Ubisoft and others can definetly learn a thing or two from this one.

5 – Nier Automata

It took me a while to even figure out what this game was, it plays aggressively with different camera angles and controls to look and feel like different genres. It also does really interesting things with story telling, and of course is simply really fun on a second to second and minute to minute basis, along with exploring a lot of common sci-fi tropes and philosophies.

4 – Oxygen not included

Oxygen not included
This is one of the games I love coming back to regularly since they are really good at adding stuff to it. It was really fun and addictive from the first release, and has only gotten more interesting with more updates. This game takes over my life for a few days at a time, until I move to something else, and do it all over again after a few updates.

3 – Player Unknowns battlegrounds

This one was close for the second, as it offered a completely new multiplayer experience for me. Mix of fear, surprise, stragegy, tactics, and actual shooting skills. Great but very different in squad or solo. Managed to replace rocket league as the multiplayer game for me. Its effect on the gaming scene already started in 2017 but will be felt for years to come. This one, or someone like it is here to stay

2 – Prey

This game, aka System shock 3 Is everything I love about the immersive sim, and sci-fi. A lot of meaningful choices. A lot of close examination of spaces with tons of immersive storytelling in them. Mimics alone deserve a place in video game history as the most interesting enemies, especially in the immersive sim genre. So is this a cup or a facehugger!. The story was really good, kept surprising you. No further spoilers, buy and play this game please.

1 – Wolfenstein New colossus

This was the right game for me in 2017. It got me thinking real hard, how much the non-targeted majorities or minorities would fight for the oppressed, when faced with death or lifetime imprisonment for opposition. It both contained inspiring moments and portrayed the feeling of being crushingly overwhelmed by fascists. Aside from all of that it is an excellent shooter, which contains the perfect mix of stealth and combat, and very smooth transitions between. It is well written, contains interesting characters, and avoids many of the pitfalls of the earlier game.

PC game performance and upgrade guide

This will be very game focused but this guide can partially be used for applications as well as general systems performance

Ever wondered what piece of hardware in your PC is keeping your favorite game to run as well as it could, or even just what to upgrade next? I am going to share my experience and knowledge to help with that.

Tools for analyzing performance in windows have greatly improved over the years and this screenshot is from the performance tab in windows 10. This information is available in windows 7 in the resource monitor application, but I will leave using that for the windows 7 readers.

Windows 10 perfomance tab

If you do not have two monitors, there are two ways of analyzing performance of a game. Alt tabbing and checking history, or playing in windowed, the easiest way is to have two monitors and to start with the performance tab open on one screen.

Things to look for:

Memory usage:  80% or higher, most modern operating systems, start writing parts of the memory to disk, once memory use reaches 80%, since disks are approximately 100x to 100000x slower than RAM. This can also cause your hardrive to be overloaded which has cascading effects on performance.

The percentage on the Disks shown in the performance tab, indicates the ‘Active time’ on the disk, its normal that this hits 100% during loading, but if it is quite often at 100% your disk is overloaded and cannot handle requests fast enough. If you don´t have an SSD, that is your next upgrade, since SSDs handle requests much quicker than older HDDs.  Like stated above your memory might be a partial cause of this.

CPU usage: The problem with CPU usage display in windows is that it only goes from 0 to a 100, OSX can go over 100% because it has 0-100% per core on a processor, since often parts of games or applications are limited by a single thread, this number does simply not say enough in today’s world. On an i7 (quad core with hyberthreading) full usage of one thread displays as 12.5% cpu usage. To make matters even more complicated, many game engines consume a full core no matter if they need it or not.
Many of today’s engines to leverage multiple cores, but they differ in how well they can share their load between threads, so even if your CPU does not show a 100% or even 50% you might still be bound by your CPU.  My approach so far with CPU is to see if I can rule out everything else being the bottleneck, and if so my CPU probably is.


Now that being out of the way, the last big piece of the puzzle is the graphics card, or your GPU, there are essentially two things about GPU that can limit your performance. Graphics memory and pure performance of your GPU.  The GPU performance is a topic in and of itself and can be quite optimized by developers. The only information I am providing here is as a consumer, given a current build of a game, is my GPU limiting me and if so then how.

This  is where windows comes short and we will have to resort to 3rd party software, I use HWINFO, which is quite excellent piece of software.

To do what I am demonstrating here, download HWINFO run it, tick sensors only, and find GPU core load and GPU memory allocated.

You can look at those values, but its more helpful to double click them and get the histograms. In the GPU memory allocated you might have to manually set the maximum. It is your GPU memory in megabytes, so 4GB is 4096, 8GB is 8192, but you don´t have to be exact, since its rare that games are just under a few megabytes of the limit.

What to look for here is pretty simple. If the GPU memory allocated is very close or at your GPU Ram capacity, you should lower your graphics settings (often just texture quality) or get a GPU with more memory, If the GPU Core load often hits 100%, you are overloading your GPU, and probably need a better one.

Some notes: If you have V-Sync turned off and the game has completely unlimited frame-rate, it is likely that GPU core load will stay at 100% and your CPU higher than usual. The reason for this is that your computer will try to render as many frames as it possibly can, therefore using all the resources it has.


From Gogogic to CCP

In the end of august Gogogic shut down its operations after 7 years, 4 of which I was employed there. The  reason for this was simply lack of money to continue operations and our latest sort of ‘last stand’ game (Godsrule: War of mortals) had not met expectations in terms of retention and income.

After a month of evaluating multiple opportunities I now work as a Software Engineer at CCP Games from October 2013.