Sailing and laptops … do you got game?
Ok, the title may be a little bit of a stretch … but not much.
I want to use this blog post to see if others take their computer gaming to sea with them in sailboats.
Now, at the onset, I am prepared to deal with complaints from those who claim/assert that “they went down to the sea in ships” to get away from all the technology and the invasive ‘gagetization’ of society.
I note–by way of response–most modern-day cruisers have GPS, cell and satellite phones, chart plotters that rival computers in size and complexity, bottom-imaging sonars, radar with chart plot overlay, AIS transponders for easy vessel identification. And of course, we use Kindles, I pads, I phones, DVD players, and flat screen plasma or LED TV’s on our humble ‘sailboats.’
If you are one of the last true sailors and are using paper charts, a compass, a very accurate hand wound chronometer, and a sextant, then feel free to let me know I do not understand the spirit of sailing. I expect that criticism to arrive by either snail-mail or a small bottle with a cork in it.
I admit upfront that I am an inveterate online gamer and gamer in general. I have been hooked, since my first game of Lunar Lander in a mall in Denver (at a quarter per play) in the mid 1970s.
I hand-built my last desktop before we went sailing. It had quad SLI graphics, four hard drives (Raptors), 8 gig of memory, a quad-core processor and a power supply which required that I rewire the wall and circuit breakers for the house, because it could draw 1600 watts of power at peak graphical loads.
To put that in perspective, that is 32 (thirty-two) 50 watt light bulbs. Enough to light a small village in the third world. I am not actually bragging or defending this environmentally. My life is now much different, as you can see from this blog. I will assert my life choices in sailing away-from-it-all as my only defense.
Of course, it also would not fit physically into the boat. That probably helped with my decision to sell it and use the proceeds to buy a laptop for the boat.
Now, with all of that as introduction, to my question. My question is this:
On your boat … do you got game?
As we moved out of the house and onto the boat, my challenge was how to continue–in a marine environment–a hobby which I’ve enjoyed for years. The technical challenge was to match the performance of my desktop in a laptop that could be run on Spiritus.
I chose an ASUS G45 ROG 17 inch laptop for many reasons.
Since moving to the boat, I have played the following games: Skyrim (just loaded the latest down loadable content “Dragonborn” today). Dishonored, Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 (plus the new endings), and Deus Ex (in progress).
My setup is the ASUS laptop, a set of Logitech Wireless headphones for 5 speaker surround for gaming, a wireless Logitech game controller.
Today, after loading the latest DLC for Skyrim, I am writing this instead of playing, because the inside temperature on our boat is 90 F at 9:30 pm, even after the sun has set. I am afraid of firing up the laptop because the ambient temperature in the cabin is so high. The laptop actually puts out a heat signature from its rearward facing vents–not to mention the power block.
It may be that 4 months a year in La Paz, while (and if) we are at anchor or at the dock, it will be simply too hot to use the technology.
That being said, before Carolyn joined me here in February, there were many late nights of gaming in Spiritus at her slip in the marina.
Art Imitates Life. This is me (my Skyrim avatar, anyway) giving strong thought to abandoning the heroic–but, admittedly poorly paid–profession of “Dragon Slaying,” and taking the 38 foot double-ender, named Spiritus away from the slip, and heading for warmer climes. Maybe, La Paz, Mexico.
“Honey, I want to quit my day job and move onto the boat. It just needs a few things to make it just like home.”
The boat just needs a little work to be sea worthy. Let’s see, new sails (tanbark), new standing rigging, charts for Mexico, a compass that points south, and maybe a monitor wind-steering system. A couple of more dragons and I will have enough plunder to have the bottom painted.
And, I gotta get a new life raft!
Like all sailors, I am looking for a wench, to help lift the anchor … and my spirits on those long nights at sea.
(Right now, there is laughter in the real-world boat ‘and comments about my “rich fantasy life.” I wonder why???????????)
“Die, dragon, Die … daddy needs some new bottom paint!”
Back to real life
Energy usage: The laptop’s energy demands can be easily met using the boat’s solar array when we are not at dock.
Connectivity: I play mostly games that run thru the Steam system. You can also play them offline–if you choose–which I do mostly because of connectivity issues when sailing or anchoring out.
Here at Marina La Paz, we have hard-line at the dock connections good enough for games that require an internet connection. I do not believe they are up to interactive multi-player online games. That is just my opinion.
Ditto for the “Banda ancha” Telcel modems. They are fine for games that check-in with the net, but not for online multi-player simulations. Too much data being exchanged.
Getting the games: I use Amazon and Steam and purchase the games online with digital download. I swore I would never do this, but a trip back to the states for a new game is out of the question. And, the real justification, snail mail in Mexico, at least as far as I can tell from our experiences is … how to phrase this … time-consuming. It can take six weeks for something to get to the marina or to the Club House mail boxes.
I have gamed as part of an online gaming group. For several years before sailing, I played at UnitedOperations.net. I played, led, and wrote missions for hundreds of players from a host of nations. We played almost exclusively, in those days, Armed Assault II, which is an online military simulator in high-definition. The group played the game in a very realistic mode. It included real-time communications by simulated radio, briefings online before missions, and video post-game tactical reviews.
I have added two links below to videos of one my Hearts and Minds missions that were popular for a few months. Hope you enjoy the ‘realism’ of the team worked online game play.
They have a website if you are interested.
It was a fun experience and a very interesting and diverse group from literally all over the world.
I have not tried that from La Paz because of the technical difficulties of setting up a proper connection and frankly because it requires way too much time and discipline to stay that involved while moving around the world.
I might change that after Armed Assault III comes out, if we sit anywhere long enough.
So bottom line, if you want to have a gaming experience–while anchored or at a dock in a foreign country–it is not much more difficult than an email connection or internet connection to read news.
What is your experience?