For the past few weeks, my friends and I have been playing a lot of games together, and one of the games we’ve been playing is CS:GO. It’s a game that I’ve been playing for almost five years, so it’s really nice seeing some of my other friends starting to play. One of the main problems that we’ve been facing though is with the game’s matchmaking system. However, we were able to solve it by using something called FACEIT.

FACEIT is a separate client from Steam which is the platform that hosts CS:GO. When you use FACEIT, you are still playing the game off of Steam, but you are playing the game on FACEIT’s servers. The FACEIT servers are pretty much an alternative version of Valve’s official matchmaking system.

I’ve used FACEIT in the past before, but only to play a few games. However, the reason why my friends and I are using it more now is because of Valve’s matchmaking system. With the official servers, players that want to play together have to be within a certain skill ranking of each other. Since I’ve been playing the game for much longer, my rank is a lot higher than the rest of my friends. This means that we aren’t able to play together unless we have a full premade team of five people. Often times this proves difficult, and so we’d always be missing one person to fill the last spot on the team.

Fortunately, FACEIT fixed this problem for us because since I’ve never really used my FACEIT account too much, my level is around the same as my friends who’ve just made new accounts. This lets us play together without having to go through the hassle of trying to find a group of five people.

Playing with your friends isn’t the only reason why other people use FACEIT though. A lot of the people that play on FACEIT servers are looking for a more competitive experience, and the skill ceiling in FACEIT is considered much high than the official matchmaking system. Some players currently playing for big-name organizations used to play in FACEIT’s pro league. FACEIT servers are also run on 128 tick servers which are more responsive than the official matchmaking servers.

Some issues we’ve had with FACEIT though is the fact that you don’t always get to choose which maps you want to play on. CS:GO has different maps with different layouts, and since most of my friends aren’t too into the game they don’t know how to play some of the maps. In FACEIT, each team has team captains and they go back and forth banning different maps until there’s only one left. The map that wasn’t banned is the one everyone plays on. Sometimes you don’t get to be team captain, and sometimes the other team bans the only maps you know how to play. This sometimes results in devastating losses where our team just can’t play as well as the other team. To us though, it isn’t really too big of a deal since we’re mostly playing for fun anyways.

Overall, FACEIT has been a good alternative to the official CS:GO matchmaking system for when my friends and I want to play. There is a bit of a trade-off, but to be honest it’s a lot more convenient to be able to play with whoever I want without being held back by skill difference.

Online Music Lessons

Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, my music teacher and I have resorted to conduction our music lessons online via Skype. So far we’ve only had one lesson, but we plan on continuing them for the time being. That being said, there have been some issues concerning how our first online lesson went. This week I’ll be writing about the advantages and disadvantages that I found during the first lesson.

One new thing that wasn’t really an advantage or disadvantage was that my music teacher created his own lesson template file for us to work with. This didn’t really have to be something exclusive to our online lessons, but it was the first time that we did something like it. What he did was create a short song with different instruments that wasn’t really complete. For the duration of the lesson, we spent time applying different strategies to improve on the file in order to make it sound better. I found this to be quite different and interesting since we would typically start creating something from scratch which would take some time.

Setting the new lesson format aside, an advantage that I found in the online lessons was that I was able to see what my music teacher has on his screen and how he is working around the music program. Usually, we’d both be working off of the same laptop, however, this time I was able to see what he’s doing and how he has his software set up.

While I was able to see my teacher’s screen, Skype caused quite a few problems. The first problem that I immediately noticed was that only one person could share their screen at a time. That meant that either I had to be screen sharing or my teacher had to be screen sharing. This meant that we had to keep on switching back and forth. In the end, it wasn’t too big of a deal since we were mainly focusing on my screen, but it was still an inconvenience.

A second disadvantage of using Skype was that screen sharing doesn’t share the audio from the computer. For a music lesson, this was quite the issue, and the only way to fix it was to not use headphones in order to let the audio come out of the speakers and into the microphone. This made it impossible to use headphones which made it harder to tell the differences when changing effects, and it also made it really difficult to hear what was playing on each other’s computers. Sometimes the audio would be really quiet sometimes, so we had to bump up the volume of the laptop since we didn’t want to change the levels in the program. This also made the Skype call audio louder, so the other person would be really loud when you wanted them to hear the audio. Currently, there isn’t a way in Skype to change the audio of individuals during calls.

Overall, the online lesson was different and interesting. Most of the issues we had were just from Skype which was the program we used to share each other’s screen. As far as I know, Skype doesn’t really get useful updates very often, but pretty much all of our problems would be solved if we used something like Discord. It’s also free, multiple people can share their screens at the same time with the audio, and you can adjust other people’s volumes. However, its format is more that of being a social hub rather than making phone calls between individuals.

A Three Week Long March Break

Next Monday will be the start of March break and for the following two weeks, there will also be no school. So far, my class’ teachers still haven’t said much about how the curriculum will change, but most students at my school seem pretty happy about not having to go to school. This week, I’ll be writing about my thoughts on the extended break.

The cause for the closing of the schools after the break was due to the COVID-19 virus. For the past couple of days, the school had made announcements about making sure people are keeping their hands clean, but it was only until last Thursday after school that the school closures were announced. By the time everyone went to school on Friday, none of the teachers really knew what was going to happen during the two weeks following the actual March break. The only thing that they said they’d do is to make sure to post updates online if anything new comes up, but so far the only thing I’ve seen posted is that one of my English assignments has been postponed for the week back. To me, this doesn’t really make sense because 100% of the assignment can be done online. Though, I don’t mind having the extra time.

In terms of what I’ll be doing for the next few weeks, I think my friends and I will probably be playing video games for the most part. We don’t really go outside to hang out too much in the first place, so it’s pretty much just an extended break. I’ll also most likely end up watching a lot of Youtube and Anime. However, I still do have some school things to complete although it isn’t much.

There have been talks of online teaching taking place, though, I can’t really see it being used effectively. Especially since it could be hard to make students participate in lessons while they’re at home. Even inside a physical classroom there are some students that don’t really take their work seriously, and I can see how some of them would choose not to participate in the online teaching. However, even if online teaching was put into effect, I don’t really think I’d mind too much.

Overall, I think that the extended March break won’t really end up being too interesting. Maybe there will be the possibility of online teaching, but I can’t really see it happening realistically. Most of my time during the break will end up not doing anything very productive anyways.

Counter Strike: GO Shattered Web

By the end of this month, CS:GO’s operation Shattered Web will end. I ended up not writing about it when it was first announced because I hadn’t really been playing the game too much at the time. However, operation Shattered Web has been the first operation the game has had in almost three years. This week, I’ll be writing about my thoughts on the operation.

Operations in CS:GO don’t really show up too often, and the last one that took place was operation Hydra which was a couple of years ago. A lot of the times when new operations are announced players are really excited because operations are kind of like special events containing different missions. While you can still play the game in the normal modes, operations usually add special missions with a different style of gameplay. Additionally, there are side missions to complete in the normal game modes that help you earn certain rewards.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really end up playing too much throughout the duration of the operation, but I’ve heard that for this operation there was a battle pass that was introduced. Much like battle royale games like Fortnite, the more you play the operation the more rewards you can get. You were able to pay money in order to get an enhanced battle pass with more rewards, and you could also speed up your progress in the pass if you wanted too.

The battle pass allowed for the introduction of new cosmetic items such as player model skins. At first, there were lots of videos of YouTube showcasing how the skins could be used to gain a competitive advantage, but as of late I think that the developers have taken measures to keep the game fair to other players. To go along with the player model skins, patches to put onto character models were added which are basically stickers for your character models. The patches seem really similar to the stickers you can put onto your weapons, and to me, it seems kind of unnecessary. However, the game has gone free to play, so I guess it kind of makes sense to add more purchasable items in the game.

I’ve started playing a bit more in the past few weeks, but not enough to really care too much about the operation. However, other people have been saying that it’s been really fun and how the quality of operations keeps improving. I think that’s true especially since a lot of new features have been added between the last two operations.

Overall, operation Shattered Web is coming to close, and a lot of new content was brought in for the months that it’s been active. I still won’t be worrying too much about completing the many remaining missions I have, but more of my friends have started playing the game. Now I pretty much play to have fun on the weekends with my friends.