Unreal Engine 4 – VaRest Storing Response in Variables (Response Code, Response Body)

VaRest one of the most popular plugins for blueprint REST api calling does allow you to also capture the response that comes back.

My issues were that whenever I tried to get the response code or the response body it wouldn’t pull the data (Response kept coming back as -1). Long story short, this is because I never used any event bindings, so effectively as the screenshot shows below, this will only run when the request is complete, before I was trying to store the data before the response even came back. Easy mistakes like this cost time!

Be aware, there’s no checking for fails in this, my view on this is, if the game login api is down, the game won’t launch anyway through other health checks!

 

 

Hope this blueprint helps you! My API is responding in JSON, I recommend your API do the same.

Unreal Engine 4 – Always show mouse on Widget/UI

If you’re like me you’ve used a widget for the UI over a version of the game world. A similar sort of style to how World of Warcrafts look

Obviously, not as great, but a similar concept!

You might be having an issue were the Cursor, when it clicks on the level it disappears! Then you need to do Shift+F1 to get it back again or wave it over the boxes you have.

No more! Simply change this setting on the widgets CanvasPanel and it will sort it right out!

Should make the Cursor appear over everything! No more clicking the world!

Nvidia, GPP and The Gaming Community

It’s no surprise once again that Nvidia, makers of some of the finest technology humanity has come to invent is yet again finding itself in more hot water because they just can’t get enough press apparently. It’s not enough being the top seller of graphics cards, it’s not enough having the highest market share. Oh no, Nvidia has to go after their own partners for not allowing them to have a monopoly on what seems like branding.

Branding

Yes, branding that thing that comes on the side of your graphics card. The bit that says ROG, Gaming or SuperMegaCard.exe, the thing these partners  (Asus, MSI, EVGA, etc) pour millions into, to set them out from the rest. Nvidia wants to take that brand and “Seize the means of production” on it. Basically, and this is what GPP states, you can’t use that brand with an AMD card for example. So before you’d have the ROG RX 580 with all the flashy lighting. No more! Nvidia said all that effort you put in marketing two cards, now you can put it all into one! The competitor? Nah they don’t matter, they don’t have as much volume as us. It’s absolutely absurd to me that Nvidia is flexing to get brands to pull their marketing for a competitor. Surely that has to ring some alarm bells somewhere in the world?

 

 

 

Community

The community reaction has been nothing but well mediocre to say the least. You’ve got a private company making a massive move against the industry here and the most everyone is bothering about is whether the prices are going to come down so they can keep buying their products. There’s a simple solution to this. Boycott Nvidia and stop supporting these practices.

Is it really a big deal if you can’t play the latest and greatest title on ultra at 87 fps when the AMD Card will do it at like 79? Is it really that big of a deal? I get that you want every bit of performance for your dollar but, sometimes you have to look at the industry and say… yes. I’m taking a stand, enough is enough. Otherwise you’re saying I have no problem with a monopoly, everything costing more and my general ability as a consumer to choose being lost. I’ve always had the comeback to this being, “But what if I want to choose a NVidia GPU, you saying all of this is stopping my choice from going through”. I’m not trying to stop you buying a NVidia GPU. I just want you to be informed enough to be okay with what is being proposed. It’s healthy to have a balance of two products battling against each other. No one loses if AMD leaves the market.

For too long gamers have just accepted whatever a company says to them as final:

Now, here’s the thing, some of the articles I’ve linked might actually contradict my point, in that they show people rising up and fighting back the system. But did they? The games still sold millions, they might have had a 20 odd reddit posts saying NEVER AGAIN, but do we need to reference that famous image for the 498th time on the internet?

At the end of the day I think it really shows the true nature of the gaming community. People just don’t care.

The Realization

People don’t care. That’s all it is. All people want is a video game, with a story, with some multiplayer if possible and a way to burn their cash. Let’s face it we aren’t buying houses any time soon. Basically every Ubisoft game at this point is predictable with the same DLC, the same open world, combat systems, physics, laughable bugs. GTA Is clearly going to be going down the route of an online only adventure after it’s latest success with no doubt some of that transferring to Red Dead. We seen it with Call of Duty MW2. The hype machine that built around that game even though it was an impending doom waiting to secretly bring the studio to what it is today, an absolute mess. Trust me. You could tell it wasn’t the same people that made MW3.

But what does all this have to do with Nvidia’s GPP Program? Well it’s rather simple, it’s the same community. We are the people that accepted;

  • Windows 10 doing all manners of bullshit to our systems, automatically enabling updates, changing preferences and rolling out a bombsite of an interface.
  • Micro-transactions in the form of skins, guns, coins becoming the defacto way to wring more money out of customers, all of us that care about how we look? Jog on mate.
  • The consolification of Battlefield, trust me I’ve got a post dedicated to that game coming.
  • Steam being accepted as the global monopoly on buying PC Games (While I do accept the competitors are a tad troublesome, at least make the effort to shop around! GoG is quite fantastic).

Trust me, I could go on for several more bullet points but forgive me if my faith in this community hasn’t been shattered by the willingness to bend over to companies.

But, they care about us!

Companies, the one thing that gets into the minds of us all is the advertising and targeting that companies do to make you their friend. I’ve done it myself, I’ve seen myself defending absolutely stupid things Microsoft does and wondering why the fuck am I even bothering, I agree with the person I’m arguing with!

I’ve seen people argue with me about actually wanting micro-transactions because they don’t have time to play the game! Well don’t bloody play it then, throwing money at your problems is a downright bad and stupid trait to have! Again, I should know, I’ve been there myself! You might remember the controversy with one Star Wars Battlefront 2, why it got so god damn heated that people that wanted to actually play the game, not join in the community boycott actually broke away from the official subreddit so they could have a place to circlejerk about how fantastic the game was. You had people that seemed… scared to come out and talk badly about the game because at least it looked like they didn’t want to admit it had faults.

It’s absolute bliss ignorance. If you can ignore all the issues, pretend they don’t exist, pretend the company behind the game wasn’t voted one of the worst companies in America, pretend that they never had one of the most down-voted comments in existence on Reddit, pretend that the entire gaming community isn’t going for the throat for everyone playing the game. Then fuck me you should get a job as a brick wall.

And that is where it comes back to our full circle. Back to NVidia’s GPP. You see it isn’t all that different. People are ignoring issues for a few more FPS. When all they really have to do is support the competition for a few generations and watch their products improve just as NVidas has. Money talks at the end of the day, if they don’t have the money then don’t be surprised when you don’t have a choice.

Conclusion

Gamers in general want no drama. They want to sit down, play their games and not have to deal with any issues in that game or surrounding it. The thing is that isn’t possible in today’s world. You have a moral choice to pick, a choice to pick for the industry and about 1,400 bloggers just like me telling you why you should be shot out of a canon for X, Y and Z reason. We wouldn’t have to have these conversions if people simply put stop defending multi-billion dollar companies, and stopped acting like their life will end if they don’t have the latest star wars game or the latest Call of Duty and instead just waited. Wait, see if the games good, gauge community reaction, is the bug list currently standing worth the buy? Are you happy with a £54.99 price tag for games? Are you happy with the publisher? It’s a lot to decide on, and there’s plenty more to decide on after all of this. The real question is, do you want to? Do you care if Nvidia was the only GPU maker, do you care if Ubisoft made the same game every single year? Do you care if Microsoft was the only operating system developer left, what about Rockstar and it’s love for GTA Online? Would you prefer it to go back to the single player roots?

Everyone has a voice. You have a voice. A company shouldn’t decide that and I shouldn’t either. All I can hope is that this somewhat made you think about what you want in the future. I’m not telling you to go out and buy all of AMDs stock. I’m saying, think about it.

Also, to ya’ll saying that voting with your wallet doesn’t work, just stop please.

Discord and Expensive Market Share

When it comes to Discord, you really can’t complain about getting an absolutely no questions asked free application that works across your mobile and desktop devices seamlessly. Read the tag-line for yourself!

“All-in-one voice and text chat for gamers that’s free, secure, and works on both your desktop and phone. Stop paying for TeamSpeak servers and hassling with Skype. Simplify your life.”

Voice and Text chat, they’ve not even updated it to say Video Chat which it now does too! No more paying! No more hassling with Skype! (To be honest I never actually had much of a problem with Skype, sorry!)

Simply your life. That’s basically it, isn’t it? People don’t want to read a tutorial on buying a free tier EC2 instance from AWS, installing Teamspeak for 20 people for free and running it basically forever on $0 or a few dollars.

 

For the majority, it’s an welcome addition to the VoIP space when it comes to creating communities and chatting to your friends. For many we used X-Fire, Teamspeak 3, Vent and skype to talk to our friends and have conversations over text if we couldn’t find the mic cause it was lobbed into a pile of laundry after a bad match of Call of Duty 4. For many, those other applications have gone with the times, no longer being used due to outdated interfaces and infrequent updates. For the rest the feature set that discord comes with, along with being put on a dedicated host that you don’t have to worry about is something that is valuable to everyone and something people even pay for. Teamspeak also offering a similar service if you fork over the cash.

I’m going to tell you why this is a bad thing. You’ve likely guessed why and it’s this.

Money

We’ve got a player in the field right now that seemingly has no end to it’s bank account. It’s no hidden truth that discord is funded with investor money hoping to make an eventual profit. Raising over 30M dollars isn’t something you can just get back via emojis. This is the Discord plan to success!

Wondering how we plan to stay afloat as a company? We thought it’d be tasteless and boring to stuff ads into every nook and cranny of Discord, so we’ll be exploring a few less intrusive options, like optional cosmetic items, such as sticker packs, sound packs, and skins. Don’t fret, we’ll never charge for Discord’s core functionality!

In the meantime, we’ve released Discord Nitro– a small set of extra perks that you can subscribe to monthly as a way to show your support and help us continue making a super-cool extra-awesome! Not only will your contribution help us along our journey, but you’ll look super stylish doing so. (Here’s a link to a nifty article for more info!)

We’d love if you pulled a few of your close friends into the Discord family. Every extra voice helps us grow a little bit more, and that means a whole lot to us.

So that’s it. Support Discord based on skins, voice packs and emojis. For every 16 year old Sean with no money this is a dream come true. Kids will fall head over heels for this sort of application because they don’t have to pay anything! As Discord is a private company I can only assume so much so take everything I say in this article with a massive grain of salt as it’s all assumptions. But surely, running a platform the size of discord, processing all that voice, maintaining two applications and now multi-call video chat, it has to be striking something into their wallet. As someone that’s seen the potential bill from just a small AWS operation, they can’t be breaking even. If they are, the internet is far more happy to throw money around than I thought it was.

Competition

The other applications,  they look outdated, they feel outdated, but are they really? I’ve heard this thing go around funnily enough that Teamspeak 3 has around the same if not slightly better/worse audio quality than Discord. It depends fully on way to many variables to count, if you’re using some cheapo $40 headset, everything’s going to sound the same. If Discords servers go through some issues, then your going to have a dip in quality. A stable Teamspeak 3 server, hosted by you, under your control, located 30 cm away from you, there’s little delay, little lag, little audio issues because you control all the variables! Maybe it’s a shift in the market that is making it more outdated? People are shifting towards complete and utter laziness, or well simplicity. I think every group of friends has that one guy/gal that knows a bit too much about computers and wants to prove themselves right? Get him/her on the job, they’ll love it! Really I only consider Teamspeak 3 a viable competitor to Discord. In my opinion it’s audio quality is far better, it’s managed by you and it’s got a mobile app that does the damn job. I’ll be honest, if I want to send memes and talk to people on my mobile, I want to use something like WhatsApp or iMessage. They are far more lightweight, native and fit the job way better.

Streamers

I remember vividly when Discord was first picking up steam. EVERY streamer on twitch was advertising it. Similar to how every streamer ends up playing Fortnite, Sea of Theieves, PUBG, etc. Maybe I’m 100% wrong on this but it seems like gamers and the market in general is being influenced heavily right now by these sorts of sources. I’ll never forget when everyone was advertising Curse Voice as a serious competitor, getting their buddies on Curse because they had to use it and wanted to push it. Like, basically if your favorite streamer is using a service at this point you need to go out of your way to ensure they aren’t getting dollars for that. Only streamers I trust are the ones using Skype at this point because they’re too stubborn to move their contacts lists.

Reddit too was also into this. For some reason every subreddit needed it’s own Discord. You take the discussion out of reddit and put it on another platform. Thus killing some of the conversations that would occur on your reddit. The mods reasons? They want quick chats to happen on Discord. What the hell is the point of a discussion board if you’re going to block submissions based on length cause they should be more appropriate in a Discord setting! Reddit mods never have made much sense though.

History Repeating

It’s a single point of failure that people continue to never learn from. Put all your resources into one product, a product you can’t control, with noted service issues, no real plan of generating income other than subscriptions. Twitter got Flak for taking a million years to generate a decent enough profit that it actually made headlines.

I used to be big on this forum called Game-Tuts. A site which many of us poured thousands of posts into, guides, tutorials, save game files, a fantastic resource for new and advanced gamers. Know what happened? The site shut down a few years ago now and hasn’t been live since then, forever lost to the internet gods. Nothing lasts forever sadly, especially when it’s free and the money dries up.

Amazon as well, they just invested absolutely everything into market share, they buy things they need to get to where they want to be. AWS is an extremely fantastic solution to what used to be buying a £60Dedicated server from OVH and calling it a day. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it works out. Amazon are second to none in perfecting their technique, but even they took a while to generate a profit worth a news headline.

But Discord isn’t Amazon. They can’t exactly go into selling hairdryers by the cheap so you keep coming back for that same day delivery. At this point, maybe they’ll get into books?

Conclusion

So, what should you do? Discord makes no money, every other platform has kept to their ways and streamers keep forcing sponsors on you. Well it’s simple, you weigh up what’s important to you and pick the best solution right?

If you don’t care about the content you post on Discord, if you don’t care about the conversations, privacy, the history, the downtime that will occur with a major service such as Discord, then keep using it. It’s a fantastic resource.

I just think it’s extremely odd that the internet looked at this free service, asked what the catch was and never waited for the answer. But the older I get, and the stupider I become I realize that perhaps I should just jump in head first and forget about that voice telling me to stop being a party pooper.

My prediction, Discord is waiting for the right price, is going to sell out to the top bidder and leave the service in someone elses problem. That is what I’d do and I assume the founders aren’t total idiots. They’ve built a fantastic application, but it’s time to relax on a sunny beach in Scotland. Or well, perhaps stay indoors with the heating on.

Maybe that’s just the 3% of a tory voter in me.

Overwatch. Seasons, Heroes and Meta

It’s no lie that Overwatch has risen, fallen and stagnated over the years. A Multi-billion dollar game franchise that has made it’s mark on history as one of the best team shooter, payload pushin’ games that exist.

We’re not going to talk today about how amazing Overwatch is. Let me get that out the way though. It is a fantastic game, and anyone that tells you otherwise is blinded by the issues in the game that might make it not so fantastic. Or are they onto something? I’ve heard for months now about how Overwatch as a competitive game won’t take off, yet it has; a league system, an MMR system, a way to avoid bad teammates, heck it even has the loot boxes that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has.

So what about it is bad?

To find out, I set myself out on a mission. I was going to place platinum as I always do every season, play the game for a few games and write a report on my efforts. This is over 20 games, with no effort involved, basically as low-effort as you can get. What followed was an abuse of myself, my weekends and my patience.

The Placements

I did my placements. I won 5 and lost 5. This resulted in me being put in high gold. 2400ish, no problem I’ll play a few as I usually do every season, get myself to platinum and continue on right? What is more annoying is that the game thinks because I’ve not played in x weeks that must mean I’m no longer platinum. I get where it comes from but come on, place me where I was before. In Overwatch you gain MMR depending on how “better” the game thinks the enemy team is, so losing over 200 SR points is a massive hit.

I’ve not played in quite a while, I usually come in, do my placements and get bored because I’ve not got much invested into the game. I was not leaving this game gold, that isn’t something that I can do. But it seemed to be that whenever I got 2498 (I’m not joking, I hit this number and around this number frequently) I got a team of people that were not a team. I could lock in healer and we’d have DPS issues, I could lock in DPS and we’d have a suicide Reinhardt, I could lock in tank and we’d have healers that wouldn’t dive in with me to support my pushes. No matter what I could not break out of 2400.

The Loss Streak

This was a moment that will define me as someone that doesn’t give up. I went in losing every game. I spent weekends making progress pushing to 2452 only for my loss streak to wipe it out, keep in mind I’m someone that works 9–5:30, I can’t put all my time into this game, but I did. I wasn’t going to be defeated by people that couldn’t work together. So what did I do? I kept on playing, I have over 50 losses right now on my account. I can state with all my knowledge and might that over 85% of those losses were not my fault. It’s very hard to believe, but anyone that has gone through a solo competitive season will agree with me. This game is built for 6 people to play together and I’ll come back to that later in the article.

The Realization

Now, I’m not gonna lie, at around 70 games in, I assumed this was me, I was destined to be gold, maybe I’m just not that great of a player, but I refused to give in.

I refuse to believe that I am this type of player, these are the players I encountered on my journey:

  • Refused to change hero, or try something for at least 1 round to see if it works
  • Refused to accept someone going a Torb on attack or a Widow on a certain map
  • Complained about everyone causing them the loss rather than looking inward (I never complained publicly about my team, that only causes everyone to get pissed off and annoyed)
  • Refused to let the 20 hour Moria with 80% win percentage go Moria when they have 3 hours on it (I’m all for you going whatever hero you want, but when it’s obvious just switch dude.)
  • Alting when everyone’s dead on the floor
  • Being unable to regroup, instead yelling at people to get on the point when it’s about 2 capture zones away from the end objective
  • Refusing to switch hero when they get countered (Wanted to bring that one up specially, if your getting destroyed by a Phara, Mercy combo, switch off the Junkrat cause you can’t aim. Some people can do it, these players just couldn’t.)

I switch, I watch what heroes they go, I adjust for the map, the payload, the corners around the map, the communication, if there’s a 5 man premade and I’m the random I’ll fill and let them do whatever they want. 5 People communicating over Discord/TS is way better for me. (Although we never won >.> ) I did everything in my power to win games and it wouldn’t come easy, we’d have team issues extensively or we’d win the game by stomping the enemy to the extremes. I’m talking when I win, it was impossible to lose, when I lost it was impossible to win. The teams I won against, had the exact same problems I had when I lost.

The Win Streak

Of course, this moment was coming otherwise my computer would be in a hole in the ground and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It came, it went and the loss streak came back, again, and again, and again.

To put it into perspective. I bounced between 2200–2400 constantly. To the point where you can assume I won every game between 2200–2400 then lost them all back to 2200, back to 2300 more often than not, back to 2450 way more often than not.

It was as great generals have put it in the past. One step forward, 14 steps back.

There wasn’t a win streak, that title was a lie, what happened was I eventually got to 2470 and through some miracle got to 2502. I achieved my goal through nothing more than the system deciding ahead of us even playing the game it was my turn. Now this is where it gets interesting. I was then able to push up to 2570 with little to no effort, I played 3 games all wins no problem, I lost another game which was due to one of our teammates having bad internet. Do not play competitive games if you have bad internet.

UnitLost

I was recommended this YouTuber by a friend on how to get better at heroes, now my D.Va wasn’t the best, so I watched his videos in an attempt to improve, trust me I tried, I actually got way better as D.Va, my ultimate still absolutely suck but in general I could peel enemies way easier, I was using my abilities correctly and blowing lots of Widowmakers’ up. Through this experience I can actually say I learned much more about my heroes, people like Reaper became viable options again once I learned how well to play D.Va. Moria wasn’t always the best option due to her healing running out, being able to whittle down her mana as much as possible was an objective of mine in games. I grew as a player and realized. I should not be at these ranks. So I’m thankful at least for that experience, I got way better than my team mates.

Stats

I’ve got over 109 Games Played, I’ve got 58 wins, 2 ties, the rest losses. I had to play 109 games to gain 50 SR. When you think about it, the amount of hours, weekends, cups of tea, dinner ordered, mouses clicked, keyboards whittled down, chair further sunken into. Was it really worth it? It’s times like this when you have to break it out into a bullet point list of what is wrong with the game, why I believe I had this experience and what I tried to do to fix it.

What to Change

  • Have a system where you can pick what role you want to play. If you want to play Support then it should match you with players that don’t want to play support/will play DPS/Tank so you can go support.
  • Stop matching me with people that play one class. It’s really simple, in Overwatch you should not focus on one hero, that’s just stupid. If someone goes that hero, what do you do? Go Hanzo and throw? Trust me that happened more often than I’d like to admit.
  • Take personal stats into account. There’s no reason why I should sit in my chair, sweat my arse off trying to carry and win games to be deducted the same amount of SR as someone else on my team that got tilted went Genji and had 2 elims with 493 hero damage over a 20 minute game. Personal Stats need to be taken into account and SR rewarded to those that play well and carry well.
  • Just because my team SR is higher than the other team doesn’t mean I should lose more points. Going back to my 3rd point should resolve this, but this is a fundamental bad math calculation, your saying that because we’re better we should win, but if we don’t then we’re bad. But if the system works as it does right now those numbers cannot be trusted. I’m not a gold nor a plat player, I’ve played plat and there’s still absolute idiots in that league that I wouldn’t play with either.
  • Time investment has to count for something. Give me a chance to play with someone with a win streak, give me a chance to play with the big boys every once in a while. Put me in a master game and track how well I do, shake it up a bit. Stop thinking that if my SR == 2400 then you need to get players within that range. You don’t. Match me with people that you believe I would work well with. Check my most played heroes, check my allies most played heroes, build us a team, don’t leave the team building after the fact when we’ve all logged into the game ready to start the match.
  • Map Select, why this isn’t in the game yet I’ll never know. It’s silly to force people to use certain maps they don’t like. It makes the game unfun to play on maps you don’t like. We have Pro E-Sports allowing teams to ban maps.

Conclusion

Overwatch is a really fun game. It has problems and it needs to address those right now because the situation I had to go through to rank up 50 SR is unacceptable. You can’t tell me that stomping a team/being stomped is the way this game is meant to be played, no one wants that in their gaming time. Voice Communications should be forced, not an opt-in. Overwatch VOIP is more than acceptable. Blizzard need to give people options for building a team outside of someone Alt+F4ing before the game starts.