Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Runescape - Buying a Bond: The Value of Membership

Jagex has announced that they will be increasing the price of Runescape membership and bonds in June 2018. In anticipation of this change, I have purchased some bonds with in game currency.

When I first read the announcement, I wasn’t surprised at all. Prices go up over time. When I first started playing, you could purchase membership for $5 per month. This cost has gradually climbed over the years, to the point that standard membership now is $9.49 USD per month. You can get better deals with Premier Club or other promotions, but that requires committing to the game for a year at a time. Given my spotty history with Runescape, I’m not going to pony up the cash to play for a year when I might not want to play anymore for a while after just a few months.

Jagex has stated that members will keep current pricing provided their membership does not lapse for more than 14 days. That’s all well and good, but I don’t see that lasting for long. Come time for Premier Club purchases next year, Jagex is going to want more money out of their player base. Besides, everyone stops playing eventually. How long until no players have the grandfathered rate anymore?

Initially, I didn’t feel that this price increase would affect me. I didn’t plan on going p2p for a while anyway, and if I did, I would just pay the higher price for a month and cancel my membership again for a while. It occurred to me, however, that an increase in dollar value of a bond would also increase their value in gold pieces from within the game. I wasn’t sure exactly what the price increase would translate to in game, but it would certainly be cheaper to buy a bond now, rather than after the initial purchase price goes up.

I started looking into the market price trend of bonds. For the past several years, the price of bonds will gradually climb leading up to the bi-annual Double XP Weekend, then bottom out for a few months afterward. Each event has left the “bottomed out” price a little higher, but the trend has continued almost identically for several times now. Fortunately, in the wake of DXPW, the market price of bonds was lower than it has been for several months. At roughly 14.6 million gp, the in game cost of a bond was honestly somewhat reasonable.

If I were going to buy a bond, the time to do it was right now. Between the upcoming price hike and current market, chances were good that bonds might never be this cheap again. I looked on the Grand Exchange and contemplated whether to place an offer on a bond. If I liquidated all of my in game wealth, I would have something north of 100 million gp. I could afford the price of a bond, but it was far from trivial. Was 14 days of membership worth about 1m per day? Worse, I would probably have to put an offer for something more than the current market value. What exactly is membership worth to me?

I put up an offer to purchase one bond for market price, and another offer for 15m even. I left these offers for several hours, with nothing happening on either. Eventually, I decided to place another offer for 15.5m to hopefully snag one. Fortunately, the newest offer purchased within just a few minutes. My wallet may have been 15.5m lighter, but I also had a bond worth 14 days of membership.

For the sake of maybe picking up another bond for cheaper, I left the other two offers up for a few days more. Playing fast and loose, I eventually decided to put up another offer for 15.5m, and got another bond. Sure, 31m was a ton of money, but I may as well pick up 2 while they were cheaper than I expect them to ever be again.

With 2 bonds in my currency pouch, I started to look into what I could do in p2p that would give me the income to maintain membership with a bond. Some slayer tasks can be pretty profitable, and cutting elder logs can apparently net about 800k per hour. So honestly, there were options that I could maintain without too much difficulty. Plus, I don’t plan on keeping membership for long stretches of time. I’ll use a bond when I want to play p2p, earn enough money to buy another bond, and then go back to f2p for a while.

I’ll probably keep 1 bond in reserve at all times. It’s much easier to make money in p2p, so it would be good to have that bond as a backup. Instead of trying to catch up in f2p, I can just pop the bond and spend that time making money to buy another bond and get ahead. I plan on using the first bond after the Spring Fayre ends, an event I’ll discuss later. For now, I’m focusing on maxing out my mining gains.

At the end of the day, this still begs the question. How much is membership worth? For those paying with real money, how high can the price go before it becomes too much? If you’re buying bonds, how much in game money should a day of membership cost? When it gets so expensive that it takes the entire 14 days just trying to make back what you spent, why even bother going p2p in the first place? I have 28 days available, but where do I draw the line for buying more bonds in the future?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thirsty Thursday Eve

I’m considering a new blog segment about all things alcohol. The name: Thirsty Thursday Eve. You know, because it’s a Wednesday thing, and Thirsty Thursday is when people drink? Whatever, I thought it was good.

This is a culmination of a few different ideas I’ve had over the years. A while back, I thought of doing something for “the economic alcoholic” or how to be frugal with your drinks. Recently, I considered that I should start recording and reviewing various beers that I try, since the selection at Ingles swaps around so much that I rarely remember what all I’ve had. In short, Thirsty Thursday Eve would be an umbrella that all of these topics fall under. Plus, it would post on the day before Thursday, so people can take my advice into consideration for their weekly ethanol-related rituals.

At present, this would consist of a number of different things. Reviews on various drinks, including beers, spirits, and mixed beverages. For new concoctions that I discover or create on my own, I may write up recipes. If I find stellar deals on drinks (looking at you, Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum), I may discuss those here. Again, this is anything alcohol related. If anybody has recommendations for specific products, or even ideas about what I could discuss, feel free to drop those in the comments or shoot me a private message. I’d like to evolve this into something regular.

Maybe it will pan out. Maybe it dies before it ever really gets off the ground. I figured it can’t hurt to throw the idea out and judge interest. Everybody has different tastes, and I think it would be nice to get discussion going about what different people like.

I was initially hesitant about posting this sort of thing on my blog. What about my public image? What about family and fellow church members that may have less favorable views on alcohol? But then I decided that it doesn’t concern any of you. It isn’t exactly private that I do drink on occasion. I even make a post about a certain alcoholic beverage a while back. I do this in my own home, where my bills are paid, and my family is taken care of. If alcohol were to become a problem for me, I would hope that somebody would call me out on that before it causes major issues. I do realize that alcoholism can wreck lives if left unchecked. However, if you have a problem with me enjoying an alcoholic beverage on occasion, and kept within a reasonable number… I don’t care. What I do in the privacy of my house is none of your concern.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Better and Better - The Plight of Mobile Device Upgrades

So many people feel pressured to buy a new smartphone every year or two, but is it really necessary? Why can’t we get a mobile device and stick with it?

A common rule of thumb known as Moore’s law will tell you that computer processors double in speed and performance capabilities roughly every 2 years. This pace has held true for decades, and has only begun to slow down in the past 5 years or so. Over roughly the past half of a decade, the progress hasn’t necessarily come to a screeching halt, but it has slowed dramatically.

What does this mean for the technology industry? Well, a lot of things, but one thing in particular is that new versions of CPU chips are going to be smaller and smaller improvements over previous versions. Year over year, the latest and greatest won’t be so much greater than last year’s model. On some fronts, this is a good thing. Hopefully, it’ll force the hands of chip manufacturers into reducing prices.

How specifically does this affect the mobile technology market? Smartphones haven’t been a thing for very long, and only really became popular consumer goods around the time that the first iPhone  was released in 2007 and Android was released in 2008. In roughly a decade since they became popular, smartphones have gone from janky pieces of equipment that weren’t really great at anything, to fine-tuned hardware that can keep up with full fledged computers. Each year’s new device has improved on the old model by leaps and bounds.

With processors reaching a plateau in performance, this trend is bound to reduce the performance gap between flagship devices released each year. The processor gets a higher number after the model name, you might get another gig or two of RAM, the the practical performance isn’t as noticeably better as it used to be. Sure, technophiles like myself appreciate the spec bumps, but is your average user going to? I sincerely doubt it.

People feel pressured to upgrade, though. All the cool kids have the newest version, why don’t you? Doesn’t matter if you’ll take advantage of any improvements or spec bumps, you *need* the latest model.

It’s all about marketing and planned obsolescence. Phone companies can sell these little computers like your life depends on it. And even if the marketing doesn’t sway you, things like OS upgrades mean you can’t stay on the old model too long. After a while, you’ll stop getting security fixes and updates that keep you compatible with apps and such. Even if the hardware still works fine, you’re depending on the OEM to keep releasing software updates for your specific model. How long is that going to last?

I don’t mean to sound old, but it just bothers me how phone manufacturers are constantly pushing upgrades, and not maintaining the old devices. Yes, I realize that they get more money from people buying new phones, but it’s really not necessary. If they would lay off the planned obsolescence, upkeep devices for longer, most people would really have no reason to upgrade. Other than the nearly arbitrary number after the name of the phone, it’s going to do what you need it to do just as well as last year’s model.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Runescape - 99 Magic

I finally did it. I finally got level 99 Magic.

As I have discussed time, and time, and time, and time again, this has been a long and ongoing process. Between the setbacks, the missed goals, and the distractions, I wasn’t actually sure I would ever hit 99. But through it all, I have persisted, and finally reached my goal. On 17 March 2018, I made the final cast of High Level Alchemy that gave me enough experience to level up.

After DXPW, I only had about 12,500 high alchs to go before I got 99 Magic. Even if I just did 1000 per day, I could get it in about 2 weeks. To avoid getting a third ban, I limited myself to 500 or 1000 casts at a time. Eventually I would get it, I just didn’t want to have another ban on my record. My pace may have been a crawl, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was 1 level away, and I had already come so far.

While every skill that I have trained to level 99 has given me a sense of accomplishment from my persistence and relief from being finished, this one was different. It was tinged with an undeniable hint of bitterness. I could have reached 99 months ago, easily before Christmas. If the only problem had been the 24 hour loss of that first ban, I still could have finished by my goal time. The bigger issue was the ban just took the wind out of my sails. I had such great progress, and then got banned out of the blue. Why bother after that, you know?

I think the other reason for my bitterness is how pointless 99 Magic is for f2p accounts. For p2p, just about every new Magic level brings some sort of new spell, new gear, or access to something better. And the way the Magic skill used to work, leveling up made spells do more damage, even on f2p worlds. After the Magic rework, player level has no bearing on spell damage. So I spent all that time grinding out high alchs for no practical benefit. I had access to all f2p spells and gear before I even started playing again back last year. The past few months? Those just gave me a higher number.

Though I was hoping to get the Magic pet Newton before I reached level 99, that didn’t happen either. That, to me, is specifically annoying. I got Rue, the Runecrafting skill pet, after only 227,153 xp. Combat skill pets were added on 20 November 2017, at which point I had 8,964,913 Magic xp. I now have 13,039,157 Magic xp and I STILL don’t have Newton. Over 4 million experience points, and no Magic skill pet.

Regardless, I obtained my goal of 99 Magic. As pointless as it may be on f2p, and despite the fact that I didn’t get Newton in the process, I got another 99 under my belt. Eventually, I’ll probably start high alching again to try for Newton. Until then, I’m not going to touch it. I’ll use Magic for combat now that Air Blast is free with a Staff of air, and the Giant Mole is f2p. Otherwise, Magic can cease to exist as a skill for all I care.

Now that I’m done with Magic for the time being, I’m not quite certain what I’ll do next. Obviously, I’m still working toward my goal of “Lvl 99 Everything” to remain true to my coffee mug. I recently discovered that Maple logs are cheaper than unstrung Maple shieldbows, so that means I can train Fletching while technically making a profit. Not much of a profit, mind you, but it’s better than paying to train it. I might not go for 99 Fletching immediately, but that’s definitely on the radar.

Besides training Fletching, I’ll definitely continue running my daily tasks and trying to get the skilling pets for Fishing and Cooking. Update on those: the pets were released on 22 August 2016. Since then, I have caught 6451 salmon, cooked 948 of those, caught 7998 trout, cooked 1081 of those, and still got neither pet. I started at 13,281,159 Fishing xp and 13,189,041 Cooking xp. I now have 14,172,429 Fishing xp and 13,402,015 Cooking xp. That’s a gain of 891,270 Fishing xp and 242,974 Cooking xp with no pet. I’m starting to think I just got really, really, really lucky with Rue.

As of 23 March 2018

Whatever I do, I’ll still be playing for a while. I’m probably not going p2p any time soon, but I’m nowhere near out of things to do in f2p. Sometime coming up, I’ll probably try to work a little more on my combat skills. Magic is already taken care of, but melee and Ranged could use some work. They aren't as fun to train without Slayer, but it means that I can do harder tasks when I do start back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Army Navy Surplus Stores

I recently started trying to find a good Army Navy surplus store around me, and I’ve learned that they have nearly gone extinct.

For some reason, I got hit with the nostalgic urge to visit an Army Navy store in the past few weeks. Between their cheap camping gear like paracord, the fact that I could use a new pair of BDUs, and the sheer joy of window shopping, I really just wanted to go to one and peruse their wares. I might pick up something if I found anything I could make use of at a good price. Military specification bags and knives are supposedly some of the best, and I’d like to try out a canvas belt like I’ve heard of some people finding at surplus stores. Plus, people seem to rave about the thermal poncho liner, or “woobie” as I hear it referred to among those who know of its excellence. I hadn’t gone to one in several years, so it seemed like the time to go see what any local stores had on hand.

Looking around on Google Maps, I found that there weren’t many at all around me. The one that I remember going to most recently has long since closed down, and been replaced by a pawn shop. One in a nearby town seemed to still be in business, but it was too far away for a lunch break trip. Ideally, I wanted somewhere close enough that I could swing by, look at what they had, and get back to work on time.

One location appeared to be just a few minutes away from my house. Not something I could easily reach during lunch, but I could swing by just to check out the exterior after work. On my way home, I took a detour from my normal route to see if I could find this possibly hidden gem of an Army surplus store. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an online catalog with their warehouse listed on the map. There was no storefront, so no way for me to actually look over their physical goods as I wanted to do.

In searching, I found several other online Army Navy surplus suppliers. One store in particular, I actually ended up purchasing some shoes from. These are all well and good (arguably superior, since you can see all of their products from the comfort of your home), but it’s just not the same as going to a physical store and looking around at what they have. It’s almost like going to pawn shops and looking for bypassed treasures.

Along the way, I learned some about how surplus stores work. Apparently, surplus stores attend auctions for collections of military surplus goods. These stores buy up items in lots at the auctions, and sell them individually at their own location.

Eventually, I came to the realization that there really wasn’t a need for brick and mortar Army Navy surplus stores anymore. Online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have tons of new and used items that surplus stores might carry, or high quality replicas thereof. For small town surplus stores, how can you compete with the price and selection of E-commerce giants? They need enough business to net a profit, in addition to keeping the lights on. Admittedly, my niche situation is far too uncommon to pay the bills for most surplus stores.

You need paracord? Walmart has bundles of 100’ for $10 or less. That nylon belt that I was curious about? Amazon has them for $8 or so, in a variety of colors and styles. You can even buy a box of MREs from Amazon, which I long thought nearly impossible to obtain.These options are even better than a catalog. I can see current inventory, order what I want, and have it delivered to my door in 2 days or pick it up on the same day in some cases. Why even bother going to a specific store that may or may not have what I want, when I can throw a bundle of paracord in the buggy with my weekly grocery run?

I still maintain that there is almost a romantic notion of looking through old uniforms and gear that have seen actual use. It’s like a museum that you can purchase from. And at the surplus stores that are still in operation, you may very well be able to find better deals than what Amazon or Walmart have. But that option may not be around for much longer. With everything moving to online retailers, a military surplus catalog may be the closest you can get to visiting an actual surplus store.

If there is an Army Navy surplus store near you, go check it out. They sometimes have some genuinely cool items. From wardrobe pieces, to camping gear, and everything in between. Sure, you may be able to buy similar things online, but there is something to be said about the experience of exploring your local surplus store.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Runescape - Double XP Weekend and Second Ban

A few weeks ago, Jagex held its semi-annual Double Experience Weekend (DXPW) event on Runescape. With a few exceptions, players gained double experience for nearly any action from February 23 to February 26, 2018. These exceptions, along with the consequences of my attempt to reach level 99 Magic again, have left a sour taste in my mouth.

DXPW is always announced several weeks before it begins, in order to give players time to prepare. Players stock up on materials and items to train certain skills and take advantage of the bonus experience rates. For typically expensive skills like construction, DXPW gives players 72 hours to spend half as much, and train skills twice as quickly. Since DXPW only comes twice a year, most players like to make the most of it.

I considered what I might want to work on for DXPW. I recently knocked out 99 Runecrafting, and I didn’t really want to put too much effort into Smithing since I’d also like to get all of the Respect rewards from Artisan’s Workshop. The only logical option was Magic. As much as I was still salty and burned out from my previous ban while working on Magic, DXPW would let me cut the remaining xp to level 99 in half.

To explore the idea of grinding out 99 Magic during DXPW, I started crunching some numbers.

At the time, I had 11,329,410 Magic xp. Level 99 requires 13,034,431 xp. That gives me a gap of 1,705,021 xp to obtain before I hit level 99.

High Level Alchemy normally gives 65 xp per cast. To get 1.7M xp, I would need to cast it 26,232 times. Since DXPW doubles that 65 xp per cast to 130 xp per cast, it would drop my required number of casts down to only 13,116. If I could manage a little over 13k casts of High Level Alchemy within 72 hours, I could get level 99 Magic.

13k high alchs. Was that reasonable? Could I do that easily, or at all? It had been so long since I was regularly grinding Magic, I didn’t recall how many casts per day or per hour that I usually got. Looking back through my updates, I seemed to get between 2k and 3k casts per day on average. One time, I did manage to get 5k casts in a single day. Since DXPW was a special occasion, and I could justify buckling down on my grind, I could definitely get between 4k and 5k casts per day for the duration of the weekend.

Realizing that 99 Magic was perfectly feasible with DXPW, I started buying up supplies. I tried out a few different items from the Runescape Wikia high alch market watch page. My top priorities were items that would buy quickly enough, while still making a slight net profit, and low cost per item. More expensive items usually make a better profit, sure. But they have a lower buy limit, they typically buy more slowly, and I didn’t know if I could afford to buy 13k of them. Plus, they have gotten the high alch value wrong on occasion, so the net profit is either less, or in extreme cases, it may even result in a net loss. I didn’t care about making a ton of money (I can do that later), I just wanted to get 99 Magic.

Magic Shieldbows seemed to be the best fit for my needs. They were cheaper than most other items commonly used for High Level Alchemy. The buy limit of 5k per 4 hours was plenty high enough to get how many I needed, and they purchased very quickly at market price. I bought up enough to hit 14k in combination with my other high alch items that I had banked up from before, and got enough Nature runes to match. I could’ve gotten the exact amount that I needed, but those extra few hundred would just be the icing on the cake in celebration.

DXPW officially began on Friday, February 23, at 12:00 PM GMT or 7:00 AM EST. I was ready to start as soon as the clock rolled over and they announced it over game chat. However, I wasn’t getting the expected 130 xp per cast. Instead, I was only getting 78 xp per cast. That didn’t seem right. I looked it up to confirm my gut feeling. Sure enough, double experience was members only. Those of us with f2p accounts only got a paltry 20% bonus.

I won’t say I was devastated, but I was certainly disappointed. All of my calculations assumed a full 2x bonus experience. I had only purchased enough supplies to cover about 14k casts. With 20% bonus experience, that 13,116 became 21,859 casts of High Level Alchemy to reach level 99.

There was no sense in whining about it. I had purchased quite a bit of supplies. I may as well use them while I get some bonus xp. Who knows, maybe I could knock out the nearly 22k required casts within my 72 hour window. Probably not, but it’s possible. Either way, every cast of high level alchemy that I managed during DXPW counted as 1.2 casts any other time. That adds up when you’re dealing with a few thousand casts.

I started high alching and didn’t really stop unless there was a portable forge up. Since I also had quite a few protean bars I wanted to get rid of, I figured DXPW was the best time to get rid of them. And since protean bar smithing runs for about 5 minutes without interaction, it bought me some time to forget about the grind every now and then.

By late afternoon, I had managed to get 98 Magic and several Smithing levels. Since I didn’t have the supplies to reach 99, I placed a few orders on the Grand Exchange to buy more Nature runes and Magic Shieldbows. I would need them eventually, and if I did manage to burn through all of the supplies I had originally purchased for DXPW, it would be good to have more available.

Satisfied with my progress, I decided against trying to keep high alching while cooking dinner. What’s an hour or so going to mean across 72 hours of the weekend? I could pick back up after I finished cooking.

Or so I thought. I tried to log in after dinner and saw an unfortunately familiar notification. “Your ban will be lifted in 47 hours, 37 minutes, 26 seconds.” Really? REALLY??

As much as I was disappointed when I saw that f2p only got 20% bonus xp for DXPW, I can’t quite describe how I felt when I realized that I was banned again. Disappointed, frustrated, baffled, and some other cocktail of emotions. I was playing legitimately. I always have. No bot detection is perfect, sure, and I can understand a player getting a false positive ban every now and then. But two false positives in the course of a few months? That’s just ridiculous.

Judging by the time remaining, it appeared the ban had been applied around 9 PM on Friday evening. My account would be available again on Sunday evening. While that would leave me with around 12 hours of DXPW, I didn’t even care to take advantage of it. I was so annoyed that I had received 2 bans, despite never cheating, that I didn’t even want to play again. At least not for a while. I would be missing out on 20% bonus xp, but what does that really matter?

So I didn’t play for the entire remainder of the weekend. I didn’t even think about it. It was liberating, honestly. We went to the zoo and saw the animals. It was nice to be in touch with real life, and not tethered to a game just because they were boosting the amount of imaginary points in a specific date range.

On Monday morning, I eventually got around to logging in. I wanted to see if they docked any of my experience gained. I’ve heard before that sometimes, Jagex will take away experience or items gained from illicit play. Getting banned was one thing, but if they also took away the progress I had made, it would’ve added insult to injury.

Fortunately, I was still at level 98 Magic, which meant they probably hadn’t taken any xp away. I wasn’t keeping up with it to the letter, but that was probably about right. Since DXPW was over, I decided to calculate how much progress I got within the 14 hours or so that I did manage to grind.

I started DXPW at 11,354,189 Magic xp and 3,973,722 Smithing xp. Before I got banned, I had reached 12,224,131 Magic xp and 4,632,249 Smithing xp. That was a net gain of 869,942 Magic xp and 658,527 Smithing xp, for a total of 1,528,469 between the two skills. I got almost 870k Magic xp within 14 hours. I could’ve gotten 99 Magic during DXPW easily.

It’s difficult to pin down exactly how many casts of High Level Alchemy I managed during DXPW. I didn’t record exactly how many supplies I bought, and the experience rates fluctuated over the course of the day. The base rate was 1.2x for most of the time, but Jagex occasionally boosted it to 1.25x after meeting charity donation milestones. Not only did the base rate change, but several players used pulse cores here and there, giving further busted xp rates temporarily. Going with the minimum and most frequent xp rate of 78 xp per cast, getting 869,942 xp would have taken 11,153 casts. So I probably got in at least 10k casts, if not closer to 11k casts. All within 14 hours.

I could have gotten 99 Magic during DXPW, but I didn’t. Not because I didn’t have enough time or supplies, but because Jagex banned me. This makes twice that they have banned me, and I have never once cheated while playing Runescape. They pride themselves in their bot detection, but if you’re going to get two false positives within the course of a few months for the same player, maybe you should tweak your methods some. Don’t punish honest players, even if that means you might miss a few actual bots here and there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

SteelSeries Free Mobile Wireless Controller

I recently obtained the Free Mobile Wireless Controller from SteelSeries, and I have been tremendously pleased with it.

I’ve never been a fan of touchscreen controls for video games. If a game was made specifically for touchscreen devices, or ported from other platforms with controls adjusted properly, they aren’t bad. Still not quite as good as a dedicated controller in my mind, but they’ll usually pass. Emulators of non-touch platforms on touch screens are normally atrocious. The on-screen buttons often obscure part of the screen, and there isn’t any tactile feedback to let you know whether you’re still on the buttons or where you are on the d-pad or analog stick. It’s always been a terrible experience for me to play emulators on a touchscreen device.

Recently, I’ve found that slow-paced games like RPGs can be passable on touchscreen devices. I would prefer a physical controller, but I can get by with the touch controls. Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Trading Card Game on Game Boy and Game Boy Color respectively both worked decently well with touch controls. I tried The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, but the movements were just too quick for me to play with any proficiency.

When discussing this issue with a coworker, he mentioned that he was trying to get rid of the aforementioned bluetooth controller. While I would normally be keen to take him up on such an offer, I informed him that the bluetooth connectivity of my janky phone was broken, and that I would have to decline.

After picking up a pair of bluetooth headphones and successfully pairing them with my phone, I decided to ask about the controller again. Sure enough, when you follow the instructions to pair a device properly, it actually works. He was willing to give up the controller, normally a $50 accessory, for $5. I figured at that price, I may as well take it off his hands.

The controller connects via bluetooth, and I was initially concerned that there would be too much of a delay to play anything fast-paced. Fortunately, the delay is minimal, maybe a fraction of a second. It obviously isn’t perfect, but it’s short enough that I can usually anticipate the input lag without any issues. Even playing Donkey Kong Country 2, a platformer with some very specific timing, I don’t really have any issues after a few minutes to get acclimated to the lag.

Left: K-Cup Right: Controller

As for size, the controller is extremely small. On the plus side, this makes it super portable. On the negative side, it could be unwieldy for people with large hands. My hands are pretty big, but it feels surprisingly good to me. Not quite Dualshock 4 comfortable, but comfortable enough that I have no fatigue from playing long stretches with it.

Battery seems to last reasonably long. I’ve never played it down to empty, but the official documentation claims roughly 8 hours of play time and 2 hours to fully charge it. I play with it for a while, and stick it on the charger when I’m done.

Overall, I am extremely happy with the controller. I can’t say I would’ve paid full price for it, but it was certainly worth more than $5 to me. If you’re looking for a solid controller that’s portable, but capable, this is the way to go. If you can find one discounted, even better. It seems to work for emulator gaming on Android, and I plan on using it to play games on a Raspberry Pi when I get around to setting up RetroPie.