Organizing your Steam library

I’ve had a steam account since 2003, so unsurprisingly I’ve accumulated a bunch of games over time thanks to summer sales, winter sales, humble bundles, …
As a way to give users a means to sort and categorize games, Steam introduced categories a while back. You can add arbitrary categories, and have a game in multiple categories, and categories are synced to your account so they appear on multiple devices. The downside is that you have to set categories for each game manually.

Here is where a nifty tools come in hand: Depressurizer (download)

It provides a user friendly interface for organizing your categories, making it easy to mass categories games. But it’s most useful feature is the ability to auto-categorize games. It can do so via various criteria like genres, Steam flags (e.g. “Single-Player” or “Steam Cloud”), Steam tags, Developer & Publisher info, How Long to Beat times, release year, and/or Steam review user scores.

Once automatically categorized it is easy to find games on your library that are Local co-op, or maybe you are feeling like playing a Dungeon Crawler game today, or just want to browse games you have with an Overwhelmingly Positive rating.

I use a unique prefix for the different auto-categories so it is easy to tell them apart in steam. It also doesn’t mess with existing categories, so it’s easy to manage both categories from depressurizer and your own manual ones.

And this is an example of how the end result looks like
in Steam










Floor plans for PAYDAY Map “Diamond Heist”

I’ve played PAYDAY the last few weeks, it is a 4 player CO-OP FPS (think of Left 4 Dead in a different setting). One of the maps has caused me a bit of difficulty (Diamond Heist). There is an achievement called “Are Those The Blue Ones?” where you have to collect all the sapphires before the alarm goes off, and I kept forgetting where they were. Also keeping track of the cameras was a bit of a pain, so today I threw them all together on a map for easier reference (right-click “Save link as …” to download):

Graphics sources:–diamond-by-lmproulx

How to increase Fraps performance with a ramdisk

I recently started playing Battlefield 3 and remembered that I have a Fraps license so I installed it and started recording some stuff. Unsurprisingly the performance made a big dip when I recorded. A glance at my PC told me the harddrive was at fault, probably bringing the whole system down due to IO.

Since my PC has more than enough RAM I decided to set up a 5Gb Ramdisk to see if that helped. It did, when writing the video files to the ramdisk I hardly had any performance hit. Unfortunately 5GB isn’t going to last long while recording 1920×1080 @ 40FPS (a few minutes footage at most).

Here is my little cmd file to create a 5GB ramdisk as drive J: and format it for usage:

So my next thought was to see if I could write a script to move files off the ramdisk when they were done being written to by Fraps. This obviously was going to cause IO load … the reason we were having performance issues in the first place, so I was skeptical about if this was going to help any. Especially since I also had to move the files away quick enough so that the drive wouldn’t fill up completely with the next file Fraps was writing. I wrote a little powershell script for this (yeah, a *nix Sysadmin writing scripts in powershell …)

Here is my little powershell script to copy the finished files from my ramdisk to a normal HDD (please excuse  possible ugliness, I’m a powershell noob):

The last little problem I noticed is that the 5GB ramdrive wasn’t big enough (Fraps seems to create some dummy files and fills them up). Forcing Fraps to make smaller files by toggeling the recording fixed that though -> pressing F9 twice fast will drop a few frames though. I used my Logitech G13 for that, just had a key mapped to press F9 quickly every 60 seconds. The shortest gap I could get working reliably is 50ms.

This all probably sounds awfully complicated, but it works and solves my problem. Fraps is great software, but it would be immensly helpful if you could set the file size in the settings (instead of it defaulting to 4GB). Or, even better, if Fraps could rework their IO system to work more efficiently.

So to sum everything up:
– create ramdrive
– start script that copies files from the ramdrive to a normal HDD
– set fraps to store videos on the ramdrive
– start game, press F9 to start recording and then press the G13 key to toggle the F9 periodically

Thanks for the free games @Valve

For the release of their latest game Portal 2, Valve went to great lengths marketing wise. They set up an “Alternate reality game” (ARG) with tips and puzzles hidden in 13 independent games (to promote indie games). Some of the games even added extra levels just for the ARG.  Solving puzzles, finding passwords, and triggering special events led to the possibility to gain “potatoes” as a sign of progress. If all 36 potatoes were found in the 13 games involved players got a golden potato.

After the ARG was solved by the community, Valve added a countdown a few days before the release of Portal 2, allowing the community to get Portal2 to release early by collecting potatoes and (in the end phase) playing the 13 indie games.

Last Friday Valve announced in the official blog “There’s also still time to collect all 36 potatoes. Anyone accomplishing this feat by the time Portal 2 launches will receive a very special, non-hat-based reward.” An extra incentive for people to play the games involved and collect the potatoes. I spent most of the last days collecting all 36 potatoes, got the last one just hours before the deadline.

Today everyone with a golden potato  got the reward, a valve complete pack and a copy of portal2. I’m honestly impressed. I never would have expected them to not only give out all their previous games ($100), but also a free copy of their latest game they just released yesterday ($50).

Impressive move Valve, even if I was irritated at buying the game on steam on pre-order and then seeing Amazon and Best Buy drop the price shortly before release by 10$, the ARG and the potatoes blew everything out of the water. So now I have a few copies of games I already owned to give out 🙂

Grid clicker script

I finished up my “grid clicker” script. it is intended to simplify testing of games where you have to click certain patterns (a grid). Typical facebook games like farmville or funfari are great examples of this. just download the file (here is the sourcecode), execute it, and an eye should appear in your task bar. Double clicking on the icon in your task bar will start the script, just follow the instructions and everything should be fine.

And while I am at it: here is a spreadsheet I started for plants/trees/animals in funfari: Google online spreadsheets