This was originally a Tweetstorm, but I felt that I wanted to write a post and have no other topics to cover this morning, so here we are.
I have a Game World Problem: my desk is ill-designed to accommodate everything that I want to do with it. For daily use, it’s fine. It’s an “L” shaped desk, with the longer edge being the main activity point, and the shorter edge currently playing host to my work-from-home laptop. I have two monitors for my home PC, mounted to the desk, and one monitor sitting on the desk, attached to the work laptop. My mic and camera are attached to booms between the two sections of the desk so I can access them from either side. Right now, it’s comfortable to work from, regardless of the task. I have enough room to take notes if I need to and enough places for food and drink (because these are the important aspects of a desk, of course).
The issue I have concerns my flight controllers.
I have two mounting brackets connected by what was supposed to be the desk’s keyboard tray, turning this into a solid — and heavy — flight system. The StreamDeck and custom printed mounting shell is attached to one of the brackets so it’s now a permanent part of the flight experience. Whenever I want to play Star Citizen, I have to excavate this from beneath the desk where it lives, attach it to the long side of the desk, connect the wires, and basically give the entire space over to the experience for the duration. What I would like to do is have a dedicated location where I could attach and leave the flight controller hooked up. Right now, the best option for that would be the short edge of the desk as I have enough clearance sitting at the long edge to not smack into the mount with a rogue elbow.
This raises some other issues, like how I apportion my PC and other peripherals for one. My PC is currently sitting between the two edges, so it wouldn’t be difficult to connect whatever, wherever. The problem is really the other input. For Star Citizen, I currently use the two flight sticks (2 USB), the StreamDeck (1 USB), a set of Logitech flight pedals (1 USB), a keyboard and mouse (2 USB), the Tobii eye-tracker (1 USB), and a Razer Tartarus (1 USB). Adding another “station” to the setup, I would need another keyboard and mouse (2 USB), and a plug for my over-the-monitor light (1 USB). Doin’ the math, the key-concern in this case is really the addition of another keyboard and mouse. PCs can handle this, of course, but I am really pushing the limits of my USB input right now, so this has me concerned.
Beyond this, what I need is another monitor. I do have enough ports to put a standard monitor over on the short side of the desk, but Star Citizen has some issues with playing on a different monitor. The best option would be to have the PC dedicated to Star Citizen, and a PC dedicated to everything else, including other games. Considering the price of PCs these days, that’s not financially feasible at this time. Belghast of Twitter fame gave an excellent suggestion, though:
This led to a lot of sketching and hard thinking about if I could do this right now with what I have in my house. The answer might be ‘yes’, with a small asterisk.
I could attach the flight controller to the short edge of the desk, move my main monitor to that side, connect all of the peripherals via the USB hub I have and re-align my PC to service that setup. This would be the dedicated Star Citizen space. I could then use a laptop that I have, install Parsec, attach a smaller monitor(s, depending on how many ports it has), keyboard, and mouse, and use it to connect to the main PC for other things like non-Star Citizen gaming and development. In theory, this should work, and I’d be doing that right now instead of writing this post except for the fact that I still need somewhere to put my work laptop without having to double up on monitors or keyboard and mouse. For that, I’ll need a KVM switch so I can use the long-edge monitor, existing keyboard, and existing mouse assigned to my Parsec client laptop.
I just ordered such a switch, so I hope it works. Meanwhile, I’ll need to see about cleaning up the desk so I can start moving items around in preparation. I also need to see if I can get Parsec to work on the spare laptop, as everything currently hinges on that being the case.
The longer-term consideration is what to do about the monitor situation. My main monitor is a 32″ Samsung 4k monitor which works well enough. I would move this over to the short edge so I could have enough space for Star Citizen as that’s the most important driver of this whole affair. I have a few other monitors, but they are all 1920×1080 27″ jobs which is OK in a pinch, but again — First Gamer Problems. My initial thought was to use the small Wowoto pocket projector that we bought for use outside.
That worked OK in initial testing. It’s good enough for watching a video or playing bright games, even with action, but not so much for Star Citizen. The problem is that the output is just pixelated enough that I would have a hell of a time during the FPS phases discerning between a pixel and an enemy. I didn’t even try space combat at this point because it has to be an all-or-nothing solution.
My ideal fallback is to get a large TV and wall-mount it, mainly because I can get more real-estate for less money than I could looking at computer monitors alone. This has been on the table (!) for a while, but I wasn’t certain about pulling the trigger mainly because TVs aren’t really optimized for PC gaming; console gaming works well enough, of course, but I’m not sure what the real underlying difference is between PC and console gaming. Maybe it’s all in my head. I did find a fairly nice 50″ 120Hz VIZIO TV at the Temple of Capitalism Dot Com, so I put it on my wishlist and will be revisiting it come Black Friday. It’s currently retailing for about $629USD, so I’d like to see it drop so it doesn’t have to become my Christmas gift when I’m still trying to finagle a better 3D printer.