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August 29, 2001
 
9:03 PM
A while back I mentioned a game called Mageslayer from Raven.While it's no longer being published it's now at Home of the Underdogs for download. I fired it up again - it felt good to have the hardware to push it this time. Picture Gauntlet from the 1980's. Now picture it in 3-D. No, I'm not talking about Gauntlet Legends - while that was a fine game on it's own merits, it wasn't really Gauntlet. Mageslayer now this is Gauntlet, right down to the ghosts and the generators. Give it a go if you're interested in that kind of thing.

 
1:22 PM
So last night I introduced my wife to the Dreamcast version of Dragonriders: Chronicles of Pern. The game is based off of a series of novels by Anne McCaffrey, of which my wife is a fan. Recently I fired up the Wheel of Time demo (Unreal engine powered FPS based loosely on the Robert Jordan novel series) and she hated it. Mainly because it's too evil and menacing looking (or at least the levels in the demo were) and she didn't want to play it. As a result, I don't assume that a franchise tie-in will neccessarily garnish interest from her. So I fire up this game for her and instantly she's enthralled. I hear "Dragon Riders" and I instantly think Panzer Dragoon - you know: big, fire breathing dragon you get to ride and shoot fireballs onto poor villagers. First thing that happens in the game is a large dragon tells its owner (I think), the hung over protagonist, to find the special hyde cream and brush to clean him, so you have to make your character find these things. This is when it hits me that this is basically an adventure game, which is good in one respect - I'm all for the adventure game's triumphant return. On the other hand, it's disappointing since I was hoping you could fly the dragon. A little research tells me that eventually you do get to fly it, but it's not the main crux of the game.

So she plays this game for hours, which I figured is a good sign. The whole time she's making comments that only someone who had read the books would know, and she understands the dialogue as if she had already talked to some of these people. This is great and all, but the whole time she's expressing how frustrating the game is to play. I can't blame her - though I didn't play it myself I sat there and watched her for a while and if you thought the control scheme in Resident Evil was bad - this one makes those games look refined. There's clipping errors, an annoying and frustrating interface, and the same habit that Resident Evil: Code Veronica had where the camera perspective changes from "following you" to "stuck in one corner". Oh, and the camera sucks as well. In one scene you have two paths in a cave to go through - one of which has this killer snake. Well, you go down either path and you disappear for a second until you get far entough down the path to change the camera to "following". Problem is the path curves and so you get stuck. My wife literally had to switch to the first-person perspective crossbow to see where in the hell she was, then blindly try to navigate some more, repeating this routine until she got out. Annoying.

Also there's the usual spate of problems - gameplay too linear (you have to talk to person A before person B, even though you run into person B first), unfeasible situations (a large rock wall crubles to dust with one swipe of an axe) and pointless lines of questions (no consequence to answering something wrong). Plus, you can't skip dialouge, so you inadvertently wind up having to listen to some conversations multiple times). On the plus side, the voice acting, while not perfect, is not bad. Far better than Shenmue - that game made me want to scream. Also, it does do a good job of synching the voice to the mouth movements - but no one other than Hank Hill shows his teeth that much. Overall, it's a passable game whose main draw is its license, which is enough to draw in fans of the books enough to forgive its flaws - witness the ability of my wife to keep playing while complaining about the game. I guess it's a telltale sign as to why GameStop sells this one for $20 ($30 for the PC version). It's also somewhat indicative of what was one of the original Dreamcast fears - that the systems WinCE abilities would make for straight PC ports with little to no consideration for the complexities of consoles - witness the 66 VMU blocks (close to 1/3 of the card) needed to save.

On an unrelated topic, I also decided to pimp my dot-com I also help do on the side. View it as the lone non-pop-up ad on the site. Or don't - I don't care.

August 28, 2001
 
2:11 PM
Microsoft exec says XP will revive PC sales. Hidden meaning: your PC won't run this. My favorite line: "it gives consumers a lot more reasons to upgrade than did its predecessors". Next Headline: Self-deteriorating Car to help auto sales. Oh wait, that's my car.

My wife's running Windows XP now. Not sure if it likes her GeForce 2 better, but the point is slightly moot since she plays few 3D games.

BTW, the new link to AuntieZen above is to my longtime friend Donovan. Not sure if he's just got a ramblings thing or if he's trying to sell/promote something (like himself).

August 24, 2001
 
4:27 PM
I forgot to mention that it looks like Moe moved. Check her out and be careful - she might pee-on you.

 
3:52 PM
And in a truly meaningless coincidence, in addition to being the sixth birthday of Windows 95, today is also the tenth birthday of Linux. I know this is a truly cruel critique, but for all the hype paising Linux and damning Windows 95 (some of which I also partake in), Linux powers less than 5% of the world's computers, whereas Windows 95's decendants power over 90% (5% of the world runs a Mac). Looks like MS uses it's time better.

Oh sure, you can make the argument that the reason Windows powers 90% of the market is because it's a desktop OS aimed at the mass consumer, and that were you to look at the number of non-desktop applications Linux would hold an advantage. Well while Linux has more than 5% of the server market, the lion's share still goes to Microsoft. You could also argue that Linux also had to not only convince others to chuck their current operating system for a free unsupproted one, but that it had to more or less single handedly create the open source movement. True, but look at what Windows had to do. First off, they had to convince all the users out there to run their DOS programs in Windows - not a small task. Also, they had to convince all the programmers out there that development of software, especially games, was better in Windows. They did this with DirectX which took four versions to hammer out but they got there. Then they also had to convince the users of the world to buy more powerful machines to run this whole shebang in the first place.

Did it work? Well, I'm not writing this on a Linux box. The developers ultimately decided that DirectX was better (Carmack notwithstanding) - rather than code for 50 different video cards, program for one standard. Let the driver makers do the rest. It doesn't work that way 100% of the time, but most developers like it. Even the ones who use OpenGL use DirectX for the non-graphic sections. The end users went for the platform which runs everything. And the fact that people have to upgrade their systems periodically stimulated the economy (though this last point is kind of rude).

All was not roses and sunshine however. The marriage of 32 and 16 bit code was not a perfect one, as anyone who has experienced the "Blue Screen of Death" can attest to. The inclusion of legacy code (to run DOS and Win16 programs) neccessitated that the kernel was initially unstable. Windows XP looks to do away with this entirely - which will no doubt break any 16 bit drivers still bouncing about after six years - as it completes the graft of the NT based kernel into the desktop Windows OS. Additionally, every time a major OS revision rolls around, many vendors jump on the opportunity to charge full price for an "upgrade" (though this is less prevalent now that the mass distribution of the Internet makes casual patching a way of life). And don't even get me started on what many computer manufacturers will do if you "break" your system with a new OS upgrade. Some will offer advice on how to get the new OS working, others (Best Buy) will act like you just tried to put NEXTStep on your system and tell you to go fuck yourself.

Linux has its supporters, and their merits are not lost. True, Linux is "free". Linux patches take hours, not weeks. Linux likely runs faster. However, picture if you will that your house needs a new roof. Who are you going to have roof your house - a ragtag bunch of persons who have never met each other in person and don't do this sort of thing for a living, or are you going to hire a team of paid professionals. Sure the last one costs you more up front, but the first one ultimately costs more in the long run, and not just in terms of money.

I have to hand it to the Linux supporters, though - anyone can bitch about Windows, but it takes someone really dedicated to run something else. If you gripe incessantly about how much you hate Windows and Microsoft but continue to run Windows and Office then you're a hipocrite. Most of us dislike many things about Windows and Microsoft, but we just grunt and bear it. I'd rather have a flaky OS that can do anything I want it to than an OS that is stable but can't run anything.

So happy birthday to Windows 95, Linux and R2-D2.

 
9:43 AM
Regardless of whether or not you liked the film A.I., you have to admit this is pretty cool: Seems ILM (you know, Star Wars) used Unreal Tournament to map out the Rouge City environments (you know, the city with the giant, er, women) in the movie to show to Speilberg before they bothered to go ahead and make them in the movie. Check this article for more. I wonder if they're going to release the maps. Deathmatch with Jiggalo Joe!

August 23, 2001
 
4:58 PM
Oh, and I nearly forgot, the bad news is that the Nintendo GameCube has been pushed back to November 18th, almost two weeks later than their November 5th original date. The good news (I suppose) is that IBM, who is making the chips in it, is getting their logo on it. The weird part is that yesterday at Spaceworld pre-show conference (Spaceworld: Nintendo's own personal annual convention) they unveiled new footage of Mario Sunshine (tenative title) and the next Zelda game (which doesn't even have a tenative title). The Mario game looked pretty standard, but the Zelda game went for a cell shaded anime feel. You'll have to look at it here to see what I'm talking about. On the one hand, I love Zelda and I believe Miyamoto can do no wrong. On the other hand, a Zelda cartoon? I don't know. Obviously this, like with the Attack of the Clones titled film, is something I am going to have to wait until all the cards are in on, but my initial reaction was not good on seeing this footage. I was halfway convincing myself it was allright footage until someone pointed out how close it is to the Powderpuff Girls. Must... go... play... Majora's Mask.

 
3:45 PM
Have you ever had a problem you couldn't figure out for a while and you looked all over creation and you still couldn't find anyone else who had posted the solution to the problem and no one you knew knew the answer to the problem, so you mucked with it long enough to figure out what was going on and you figured out how to fix it and then it came in really really handy many times after that and you look like a fucking genius since you figured it out? Well I just had one of these sorts of things happen recently and I want to spew it forth so that it doesn't bite anyone else in the ass. Basically, I had a problem wherein I installed the DirectX SDK and I fired up some of the Direct3D examples. No go. I have a Voodoo3 3500 (the Voodoo3 part is the important bit) with 128MB of system RAM. Some of the examples told me I didn't have enough video memory. Others told me they couldn't create a Direct3D device. I had the latest drivers, I had DirectX 8 installed. No go. I posted my problems to GarageGames and though the people there wanted to help, they couldn't. Odd, since many of them claimed to have the same setup as me. I tinkered with BIOS settings, reinstalled DirectX and my drivers multiple times, even reformatted and reinstalled Win98SE. Nothing. Then, on a hunch I visited Voodoo Files. I noticed that there were relatively new drivers out from someone for the Voodoo3/4/5, so I downloaded them. When I install them they have the official 3dfx screen and everything. When I reboot, I can suddenly fire up all the Direct3D samples (except for a few, which tell me that their particular feature isn't supported by my card). I can even still run my TV tuner bit. A little bit of research reveals that the latest official 3dfx drivers (which are old at this point, as 3dfx is dead) do not support DirectX 8, which is the root of this problem. Ironically, if I had fired up the DirectX 7 SDK I wouldn't have had this problem. So, if you have this problem with your Voodoo3 card, fire up these drivers. The only thing I wonder is: are these "hacks" of older drivers, or are they reverse engineered? Or is this someone out there who used to work for 3dfx who is still updating drivers with a copy of the driver source he hung on to? The official 3dfx installer is the most curious part. Also, now the Red Faction demo works.

August 21, 2001
 
1:35 PM
Damn you! McDonald’s, damn you! I'll never eat your food again! Or at least not until I get off work.

August 20, 2001
 
1:29 PM
You know that 5 billion dollar lawsuit that the parents of the Columbine victims have filed against 25 video game companies? It looks like Eidos has been dropped from the lawsuit. Apparently - get this - the way they decided who to sue was that they went through the belongings of the killers and anything attached to anything they owned got sued. Eidos got sued because they found the box for the PC port of Final Fantasy and so Eidos makes the list. Of course, Eidos didn't make the game - they just ported and published it - Square (of Japan) developed the game. However they decided that since Final Fantasy didn't have any guns in it they're cool. Guess it's lucky that there weren't any Tomb Raider games in their room. How about this - be glad your kids weren't software pirates. Oooh - there's a good question: if they only found pirated games would they even be able to sue? "Your game set my kid off - I'm suing you!" "Your kid stole our game - we're suing you!" Even if those two hadn't killed themselves the game companies would still get sued - those kids don't have that kind of money.

 
11:00 AM
Today is the first day of Freshman Orientation Week in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. FOW is where all the cadets who are incoming as freshmen get to come to campus a week early so that they can get fitted for uniforms, so that they can get haircuts (the guys, anyway), and so that they can get yelled at a lot. The idea is to get the "WTF?" mostly out of the way before class starts. In addition, without fail a certian number of incoming freshmen will suddenly have the epiphany that they don't want to be in this Corps thing at all and they can politely and quietly leave before all the real fun starts (and hopefully before the haircut). Ironically, six years ago today was the Sunday before FOW for me, so six years ago today I was sick out of my mind and hated my life. I love FOW these days - gives me a laugh to remind myself of what I looked and acted like, and how badly I just wanted to go home.

This means then that Friday is the six year anniversary of the release of Windows 95. Not that that means anything.

So my adventures in DirectX have been foiled/delayed by the fact that the Direct3D samples won't run - they either tell me they can't create a Direct3D device or I don't have enough video RAM. Now, this is kinda rediculous - every Direct3D anything runs on my system, and the people in this thread I started tell me all should be obee kaybee, but still no go. I figured it was a "rollback from WinXP" issue, since I've had some other problems, but a reformat/reinstall didn't do the trick. Oh well, at least the other things I noticed seem to be okay now.

The part of the reformat/reinstall I hate is not the reformat/reinstall, nor is it the fear that you didn't back up something important on the drive you have to reformat - it's the reinstalling of everything. This wouldn't be such a big deal, if I didn't have so much shit. Office 2000,Visual Studio, FrontPage 2000, Corel Draw 7 (don't laugh! it still works!), Adobe Acrobat 4.0 (not the reader), Nero, The stuff that came with my DVD drive, the drivers for my mouse, the drivers for the Zip Drive, the million or so little utilites, it's annoying. I miss the old DOS days where you could just copy the contents of a directory - no registry, no shared DLL's, no system directories. It was nice. And what I really hate is those games that don't need to be reinstalled, but they think they do. Quake 3 runs more or less like the old Quake and DOOM did - you install it and it places an entry in your control panel to be uninstalled. Now if you reformat your hard drive you can still run Quake 3, but if you need to install a patch or the Team Arena mission pack it says you don't have Quake 3 installed. The fuck you don't! But since it's not "installed", it's just "there" you have to reinstall it over your old installation. Then you can patch it. Annoying.

With any luck I can finally tinker with V12 and DirectX tommorow night.

August 15, 2001
 
4:58 PM
Oh shit - you mean Outlook 2000 has a bug in it? Quick! Alert the media. Wait, too late.

August 14, 2001
 
10:58 AM
Yeah, so I got one of those Zip drives yesterday. Well, that's not entirely accurate, ViaTexas got a Zip drive yesterday. I got the USB Powered Zip 250 model - the one that doesn't even need to plug into the wall. It r0x0rs. Yeah, I know everyone got one of these things seven years ago when they were all the rage, but I'm slow. So I fire up this little baby and I'm fairly surprised by it's performance - the instruction manual said that if possible you should not use other USB devices simultaneously. Well, my mouse is USB, so no go there - maybe if I don't touch it. Well I fire up the Iomega Backup program, which I figured was just a frontend for copying stuff. I select a few directories, being sure to keep it under 250MB when I notice the preferences. I check them out and they tell me that it can compress the files. Well great but most of what I have is ZIP files, which are probably as compressed as they're going to get, so I'm not too hopeful. I tell it to start and then I head to bed. As soon as I lay down I realize I need to do something so I go do that and then I check on the Zip drive - it's transferring 36MB a minute - it's going to be finished in no time. So I head to bed - and an hour later I get a phone call, a job in the nightly accounting feed blew up and I have to unfuck it. Only it's so bad it extends beyond what I know to do, and beyond what my team mate knows how to do, so we call up the head guy and he says it's so bad that he has to restore the nightly backup and we'll have to attack it in the morning. Wow - lucky for me it wasn't something I screwed up. Some kid had too many transactions for the program - it tops out at 650 and he had 666. Scary. So while I'm waiting on the head dude to get back to me on what this is going to entail I check the Zip disk. It's only half full - it literally got the 2.1:1 compression it was stating. Also, it compresses the whole thing to a file, so not the blind copy I was expecting. On the one hand, this isn't what I'm looking for - the idea behind this is the fact that I need something to update a database to a big removable disk. However, this backup dealie is nice, so I fire up a new backup of 357MB worth of stuff. This morning I check on it and it got down to like 140someoddMB. Cool. Me likey the Zip disk. Plus Iomega for some reason has started making its 250MB Zip disks in a "U" shape - presumably because it helps to avoid confusion with the 100MB disks.

Tonight I'm going to embark on some adventures with the DirectX SDK.

 
9:17 AM
Hey real quick, if you happened to read yesterday's post yesterday, check it again - somehow it got truncated in Blogger. The fixed post is below.

August 13, 2001
 
2:10 PM
Okay, so time for my QuakeCon wrapup. Like the last time I went (1999) it was pretty dang cool - but it was also not nearly as cool as if I had brought my own system.

This year I went with my wife Wendy and some of her gamer cousins, the aforementioned Moe and Robert. However, the first day (Friday) it was just me and my wife. So we get there and we get our little name tags, placing our names on them. Then we step into the BYOC room. It's much bigger than last time - the size of a couple of gymnasiums. She immediately kept apologizing to me that we hadn't planned well enough to bring our PC's (or perhaps just mine) but I assured her it was alright. Next we stepped into the room with the exhibits and displays. Immediately I was drawn to the table under the large banner reading "DOOM - Game Boy Advance" where they had four GBA's networked together running the GBA port of DOOM. While the screenies I've seen of this port looked crappy to alright, I can tell you this much - this port kicks ass in the flesh. While it can't really hold a candle to some of the recent Win32 ports with higher resolutions, it works really well. One thing though - neither myself nor anyone who was around when I was fiddling with it (some of which were wearing Activision T-shirts - the DOOM GBA publisher) could get Multiplayer working. Oh well - I'm sure they'll either iron it out or it will become obvious with the inclusion of a manual. I'll tell you this much - money permitting the day they come out with that port I'm picking up four GBA's, four copies of DOOM GBA (this game's too big to do the "one cart" thing), and a link cable. Yes, you're invited.

Next up was Return to Castle Wolfenstein. My lone disappointment with this game is that it's swastika free (as far as I can tell). I guess it's because in a multiplayer game having someone with a Swastika be the winner is a dangerous precedent (the original Wolfenstein had no multiplayer). Not that I like swastikas, mind you - but killing Nazi's without them just isn't as much fun. I bet they still can't sell the game in Germany as it is. They had four PC's running the single player version, and twelve or so networked ones running a multiplayer "Axis Vs. Allies" game (think Counter-Strike in WWII). Very cool - and very well done. Also, Raven had two PC's running Soldier of Fortune II. Lots of good old carnage.

Then for some reason my wife and I took a Discreet seminar. Discreet is the company who spun off of Autodesk and now handles the 3D Studio MAX product. They were giving seminars on how to use GMAX, a product which is a subset of 3DSMAX. The idea (I think) is that a game developer pays however much Discreet's cost is and buys GMAX to be used on their game. They then can write level and model exporters for GMAX and distribute it (with those exporters only) free to their end users. So we went to the "Character Modeling" seminar and my wife gave up at some point. I was barely able to keep up, and even then I had the horns on the wrong side of the thingy's head. Oh well.

After lunch we waited for the id press conference and the Carmack talk. My wife is bored out of her mind at this point. Couple that with the fact the press conference was late, the people around us were "unusual", and the fact that the smelly guy next to her couldn't stop staring with his creepy beady little eyes at whatever breasts were around (read: not that many at QuakeCon) and she was slowy becoming miserable. I pointed out John Carmack with his wife Anna Kang (not sure if that's still her last name) as they walked by to which my wife was shocked that they looked so normal. So finally they let us in and we all get to sit down. Todd Hollenshead (CEO) gives a little schpeil and then shows some video footage of Quake, Quake II and Quake III, the last of which was the Team Arena teaser again. He retorts, "I guess you've all seen that before," which gets laughter from everyone but my wife, who hadn't. Then they announce Quake IV, outsourced to Raven. Looks like that rumor was right.

Then they announce that their unannounced game is untitled and is a "multiplayer experience not based on an existing property" but not a MMORPG. Ok, cool. Next.

Next is the DOOM III demo. It looks badass. It has all the stuff from MacWorld and more. No gameplay or sound yet. Also no title. Damn. But it looks cool. Then comes a scene with a dead guy on the floor with his guts being feast upon by a demon, complete with blood curdling down the drain. Great id, just fucking great. I have to justify that the game industry is not full of evil violent school-shooting shit every day to some people and you go and pull something like that. Suffice it to say Wendy was not amused. To their credit it looked more like they were going for that Resident Evil, Silent Hill horror movie feel (as opposed to the more ominous Hitman feel) and they stated that this probably wasn't going into the final game, but it was still a gruesome sight.

Carmack followed that with a talk. Surprisingly, I could keep my head above water, which is more than I can say for the crowd which ranged from enthralled to filtering out to sleeping. Carmack of course is going on about everything he feels like talking about, no structure, no goal, he just goes on and on. It's like listening to a genius on the Hawking level - if you're looking for someone to sell you something, move along, but if you want to listen to one of the few geniuses in the game industry just go on about whatever, Carmack's the guy. His lone fallacy is his shrill, nasal voice and a habit of being just a little too phoentic at places. I didn't notice it too much (I heard him speak two years ago), but my wife couldn't stand it. Then there was the usual Q&A session.

The next day the cousins joined us, and Wendy brought a book. We had noticed that almost everyone had their handles on their tags instead of their names, so I wrote "Schnapple" on mine and Wendy wrote "Mrs. Schnapple". We attended Paul Jaquays' "Trash my Map" session where the id mapper critiqued people's Quake III levels - not so much on style or content, buyt mainly for technical aspects and their use (or overuse) of polygons - interesting insight into what level designers have to do to get levels everyone can run. Then we toured the joint, playing games and such. We wrapped up the day by watching the showing of Jedi Knight II. Folks, Raven is the shit. This is going to be an awesome game, handlily surpassing the first game. You know you get to see the good shit when they won't allow video or photos of the game to be taken (they did this at the DOOM III demo as well).

So that was QuakeCon - it sucks that I didn't get to bring my PC (especially when I discovered that when I arrived not all the BYOC slots were full), so the thing got dull quicker, but I got to see the id press conference at least (which was my main goal) and I got a T-shirt or two out of the affair. I got to show my wife that this was in fact a real industry with a huge following and I got to hang out with some family members I don't see that often.

So, what else? Well looks like the aforementioned (yes, I like that word) Moe redid her page, and apparently has been redesigned using Pepto Bismol. I was going to make a pee-on joke at her expense, but looks like she ditched that page. Drat.

Oh, and I rolled back to Windows 98. Guess that precipice had a bungee cord after all. Ironically I ditched XP not because of the OS - the OS is fine, in fact I miss it already. I ditched it because of no Voodoo3 drivers. Anything and everything I found just didn't work too well. I guess I could do the "install/roll back" dealie every time I wanted to play a game, but I didn't want to mess with that. If I owned a GeForce 3, I wouldn't have a problem - pretty much every video card whose maker is still alive has at least some beta drivers that work. In theQuake games there's some minor OpenGL glitches, but Black & White is unplayable, due to garbled text. I read I could turn off AGP text caching but it turns out I don't even have that. So even Direct3D games are spotty. Here's the thing, though - whose fault is it? Is it 3dfx's fault? Well it is in the respect that they're not here to make new drivers, but does this mean that every piece of technology dies along with its maker? To Microsoft's credit, they at least have a pretty good attempt at a Voodoo3 driver, but perhaps it's their fault old Win2K drivers don't work. Maybe it's Nvidia's fault - they "own" what's left of 3dfx and appear to be burying it in New Mexico along with those E.T. carts. Word is they refuse to let Microsoft have the source for the 3dfx drivers, and since Nvidia's not working on new drivers (they want you to buy Nvidia video cards, after all) then the drivers die. Perhaps it's EA/Lionhead's fault - they're the developers of Black & White and they don't have a product that supports XP yet - it supports ME and 2000, so XP should be a given, yet it isn't. Sure, come October they'll probably have a a patch out, or at least a workaround, but I don't need a workaround, I need a game.

So I'm not good enough to hang with the Beta OS boys after all. Ironically this wouldn't be a problem if I didn't run games - meaning that XP has at the very least made its claim as a professional OS. More ironically, short of the fact that the XP compatible drivers they made were imperfect, this isn't even a Microsoft problem. 98 is like The Phantom Menace, it ain't perfect and in some cases isn't even pretty, but it works for what it does. Consequently, there's no way I'm buying XP unless they can come up with a version that runs my 3dfx card flawlessly, so basically I'm going to have to hold off until I can get a new video card - like a GeForce 3. My wife couldn't do the XP thang since it doesn't like her hard drive controller (?). Same old stuff - new hardware for new OS.

August 9, 2001
 
4:52 PM
Where do unfinished games go when their developer dies? Daikatana is no real consequence - it was running about as well as it was going to when Ion Storm Dallas folded. Anachronox is another matter - it still needs a good patch or two, but the aforemention Ion Storm is closed. True, some of the developers are using the last "moving out and cleaning up" days of Ion Storm to put the wraps on a new (final?) patch, but what if there's still a lingering bug or two? (And judging by the "patch from yesterday's patch" pattern Quake 3 fell into, there's always a lingering bug or two.) I guess the developers could always go ahead and take the source and stuff with them - or can they? I mean, the "developer" owns the rights to the source, but what happens when the "developer" goes away? Does Eidos (the publisher) own it? If so, what are they going to do with it? Anachronox's source is a different animal - its original engine was licensed from the Quake (1) source code, but since id has released that code under the GPL and they had no problem with Raven releasing the Hexen II source code (also derived from Quake), they probably wouldn't have a problem with it (unless Anachronox also incorporates Quake II source, which id hasn't released). It would probably be in Eidos' best interests to have someone working on the Anachronox source should another bug or two come up - if horrible bugs plagued Anachronox (and with a patch already put there's no real evidence that there are still lingering bugs) then Eidos wouldn't be able to sell any more copies of the game they just placed in a box on store shelves and then they would lose even more money. They could have the developer fix the bugs - but they just fired them all. What to do, what to do...

Even more perilous is the just-announced news (rumor, anyway) that Dynamix, the developers of the successful game Tribes 2 have been all let go - roughly 300 or more of them. This isn't a bad thing per se (other than lots of people losing their jobs), except that Tribes 2 isn't just not finished, it's really not finished. The patches have been so haphazard some of them undo previous patches. The prevailing logic was that eventually the game would get stablized - but now that seems uncertain. This is different than the Eidos/Ion Storm situation - Sierra has enough internal developers that they can hand off the finishing job to someone else. However, will they bother? Perhaps at some point they'll just say "good enough" and leave it be. Perhaps the game was re;eased when it was in the state it was in (after being delayed multiple times) because Dynamix knew they were on the chopping block. But why were they on the chopping block? Tribes sold a berzillion copies and Tribes 2 sold plenty (last I heard was 200K units), but still they get the boot. Sierra probably isn't going anywhere themselves - each time they unveil a new Half-Life expansion/sequel/prequel/stand-alone-mission-pack/pack-of-the-previous-games-named-after-a-precious-metal, they more or less print money. I still like Sierra, mainly because I grew up playing the King's Quest line of games, but ever since Roberta Williams and her husband sold the company in 1996 (and vanished after the dreadful King's Quest 8) the company has become a corporate giant and, as a result, has come to represent everything people hate about companies in America - away with the love of the art, make way for the bean-counters. No, we won't be making another Space Quest game - they don't sell. Now hunting games - that's the money! You don't want to make another Tomb Raider game for us this next year? You want to "tweak the engine" and come out with a different game? No, sorry - please give us Tomb Raider II No? Well then you're fired - Shelly, please get me another development team to whip out some levels, and pronto!

Granted, I know nothing about the business world - and I sure as hell don't have a clue what it takes to sustain ones self in business. It always seems like when art and commerce mix, however, commerce wins and then commerce dies because it killed the art - witness TSR, makers of the Dungeons and Dragons products in the 70's, 80's and 90's - as soon as the bean-counters took over the company died. Ironically the company was bought by Wizards of the Coast, who have since resurrected the D&D line, but while people have praised them for sticking to their values, they look to also be succombing to the bean-counter mentality.

I'm headed to Dallas in a few hours to go to QuakeCon. While I love id and all their games - they're going to announce some new ones. I'll tell you what they are - Doom III and Quake IV, which they've farmed out to Raven. Any takers? Notice how id hasn't come up with an original game premise since 1996? Doom and Quake sequels, a Wolfenstein sequel (farmed out to Gray Matter) and even a Commander Keen sequel on Game Boy Color. Not to say they're not any good - especially the footage I've seen so far of Doom III - but I wish they could come out with something different and new. Who knows perhaps they'll surprise us all at QuakeCon.

Well anywho, couple these revelations with the fact that Gathering of Developers, the independent publisher out of Dallas has been sold to Take Two, a corporate giant, with 99% of the staff breaking off to form a DVD-Video based magazine (?) and the other 1% moving to NYC, and this is shaping to be one fucked up day in gaming.

Oh well, at least the V12 engine was released. Too bad I can't buy it just yet.

 
9:27 AM
The luster is starting to fade from Windows XP. Previously, I thought that Quake 3 was fine and Elite Force was the screwed up one. However, I have since discovered that Quake 3 looks weird as well. Not unplayble, just kinda annoying. A set of drivers I can get at http://go.to/3dfxp makes OpenGL work, but breaks Direct3D support, meaning I would have to roll back and forth between drivers for different games. This isn't so bad, per se, but now I don't even really have proof that Direct3D even works. Just on a whim I started up Black & White this morning and while it ran fine - 3D world looked perfect and everything - but the text looked all screwed up. I had to keep guessing as to whether or not I was quitting the game or deleting my hard drive.

OK, so at least I can burn a CD, right? Wrong. Despite the fact that Nero has worked just fine up until this point in XP this morning it was no go. No ASPI layer. Well fookin a - it was there before. I'm sure I can get it to work - I've found info on some people with the same problems - but it's a pain. Still, I know it's my own fault for getting into this. The hell of it is that thanks to my taking off tonight to go to Dallas for QuakeCon this weekend I won't even be able to muck with it. If I can get things working - one way or another - I'll keep XP, otherwise it gets the heave-ho.

I revamped the linky linky at the top of the page. My sister, Amy Kidd, now has her own .com, interestingly enough. Click and try her Christian Singing Dealie. Oh, and the Duck link yesterday was to my (possibly aforementioned) cousin-in-law Moe's page What She Said. Since she's been so nice as to give me a permanent link, I figured it was appropriate to affiliate her site as well.

So, off to QuakeCon. Bummer that I can't bring my PC. However, so long as I get to see Carmack's press conference tommorow all will be good. Now I need to find directions to the darn thing. Who knows, perhaps my father-in-law will let me blog from his system.

August 8, 2001
 
10:45 AM
Garagegames.com Post
I'm running the V12 demo on a development computer provided by Intel that has both XP and WIN2000. It works on both.

Jeff Tunnel, GG employee.

Sweet.

 
10:00 AM
All is fine and peachy in Windows XP ladyland, but alas this morning all was not well with the force. I ran Elite Force last night and it ran - but there were some minor graphical glitches. I tried several things to no avail, but since the glitches were minor there's no big deal. However, Tribes 2 won't run - gives me an "unhandled exception" error. Well, more specifically the beta demo of Tribes 2 won't run. I've researched this on forums and yup, WinXP (more specifically the video card drivers and their lack of WinXP support) have issues with Tribes 2. This isn't really a big deal - I don't own the "real" Tribes 2 and I'm sure WinXP is on their "to do" list somewhere. However, I am planning on purchasing the V12 engine from GarageGames, and it's based on the Tribes 2 engine. As much as I like WinXP so far, if a compiled V12 app/game won't run on it, it gets the heave-ho. I wonder if I can dual-boot Win98 and WinXP? I've heard it's possible to do this with WinME, so I hope so. Better question - the WinXP RC1 I have is a 180 day beta copy. That means early in 2002 I either buy XP or to the reformat thang. However, while I perfectly realize that if I uninstall and reinstall WinXP those 180 days in all likelihood don't start over, I wonder if it's smart enough to say "well you went back to Win98 for a month, so you only get five months of WinXP overall."? Intriguing.

Although I haven't mucked with it too much yet I found this this morning to try and give support to WinXP Voodoo3 users. If you find yourself afflicted by a dead video card manufacturer (as I do) check them out.

Anywho, QuakeCon in two days. Also, M R DUCKS.

August 6, 2001
 
8:53 AM
I don't know what's worse - the fact that while I was doing the "right thing" and hacking it out in College for five (and a half) years the village idiots of the world were quitting their jobs, shacking off the chains of the workaday world and relying on income from web advertisements in a dot com era, the fact that I had to wrestle with the notion that I was possibly wasting my time with College - the majority of the dot com millionaires were doing good to even be High School graduates, the fact that I realized there was a good possibility that the shine would be off the rose by the time I would be able to even do anything in the "web world", or the fact that just as soon as I see the logic behind the notion of web advertisements and the fact that they can indeed be a good thing to sustain the income and livlehood of those whom I draw entertainment and news from, the whole thing goes to shit and dot coms bomb left and right. Although I had a problem with people drawing their income from running a web page of all things, and I loathe pop up, pop under, pop whatever ads, I don't really mind television ads - some of them are quite entertaining in fact - and that's really all web ads are. Except that the barrier to entry for the web is much lower. To get on a television show you have to have acting talent, plus you have to convinvce someone you are worthy of being on their television show. All you have to do to set up the ultimate Dragon Fantasy Chronicles 12 Expansion Pack website is to pick up an HTML/Flash book at the local Barnes & Noble and devote a week or so to it. And who wouldn't to forego want an 8 to 5 job? I really like this job I'm at most of the time, but I would much rather prefer to sit around the house all day with my kittens and a keyboard.

So part of me wants to laugh at the web economy - we haven't even really seen the worst of it yet. All those fools who wanted to weasle out of the "real world" are now doubly screwed - they not only are unemployed, but they're now without marketable skills - marketable to anyone else besides other web companies whose date with the hangman is likely down the road a piece. But then I realize that there are some dot coms I don't want to bomb. Blue's News comes to mind. I'm willing to put up with the annoying pop up flash ads so that I can read about the latest Quake beta patch. However, look at Penny Arcade. They come out with an entertaining comic thrice weekly and attempt to make a living off of it. When their ad thingy went bust they resorted to donations. So far they've been able to dodge the bullet of traditional labor, but how long this can last remains to be seen. As someone who has plopped down hundreds of dollars on DVD's and Games I can play and watch infrequently at best, throwing a couple of dollars towards a couple of entertaining chaps so that I can check their humor three times weekly seems like a good tradeoff. Yet I haven't done it. The main reason is because I'm lazy, but on another level there is the fact that what they are essentially impying is that I and others should give them out money so that they can do what it is I want to do - sit around and play games all day. I'm sorry - it might be different if they were providing deeper content (and since I'm a longtime subscriber of various magazines, I know whereof I speak) but I'm not going to send you the money I work for so that you can not work. It doesn't work that way. However, I'm not completely without passion - they stated that if half the site's visitors donated a dollar a month they would be set. Okay, here's $12 - but I want my money back if you go bust in a year.

The next time you go to your grocery store, go to whatever aisle it is they sell Barbecue Sauce (hint: usually the same place the ketchup is at). The Barbecue Sauce market is, interestingly enough, a fierce one. Count how many sauces there are (as opposed to, say, how many different types of ketchup there are). It's mind boggling. Now notice how a lot of the bottles look like "a guy in his basement with some bottles, some locally printed labels, and a really big vat" put them together. Seventy percent of the Barbecue Sauce market (sales, in this case, as opposed to "using" an OS) is cornered by the big guys - Kraft, Hunt, Heinz - with over 30% of the overall market going to Kraft's K.C. Masterpiece. The remaining 30% is carved out of the hundreds of minor players. When I start to think of the romanicized notion of running a website for fun and profit, I think of all the guys in their basements making the next great niche Barbecue Sauce. Now, how many of these sauces do you think provide their creators with untold riches? Probably very few. Go far enough from the location you're at and most of these sauces won't follow you. Their distribution is local at best. While the Internet provides the much greater distribution that the niche Barbecue Sauce maker's can't even afford or fathom, at least the Barbecue Sauce makers have a tangible product, which is ultimately worth more.

So anywho, the point of this whole rant was that I'm glad I didn't drop out of college to do a dot-com (having said that, I do have a dot-com on the side). I'm also glad I'm not relying on the web economy - it will be a profitable venture in the long run and it will stabilize at some point, I'm just glad I'm not one of the hundreds who will be fucked until it does.

August 3, 2001
 
2:16 PM
Last night I stood on the edge of a great precipice, and instead of merely looking down, I jumped in, never to be the same again. Yes, I installed Windows XP RC1. I had heard about it's already legendary stability. I had heard about its loathsome Product Activation process. I had heard about how it's going to shove things like .NET and Passport down our throats. But mostly I had heard that Microsoft was allowing people to purchase the release candidate for $10. This minor barrier to entry motivated me to not place it on my hard drive when I was looking to reinstall Windows 98 SE. However, both my wife and myself recieved preview copies in nice little DVD keeper cases yesterday in the mail, a pleasant consequence of my father-in-law signing us up on Microsoft's "free shit" list. I figured what the hell - Win98SE isn't really anything to sing about.

So I fire this puppy up. It takes an hour and a half to install it - I expected that. When it starts up finally it takes a long time. I sit there hoping this is a "one time" dealie, despite the lack of inidcations that this is what it is. When I finally get to the desktop, I realize I can no longer see my Trillian icon in the system tray, but I can still hear it logging on. After trying several things I discover that un/reinstalling it fixes this. MemTurbo starts up twice for some reason. The desktop disappears for a second for some reason. And a simple volume adjustment in the system tray results in 80 processes I have to end. I start to wonder if this was such a good idea after all.

Then I noticed that I'm in a 800x600 resolution mode. I figured out in Win98 SE that the largest resolution I can push with my Voodoo3 3500 card is 1152x864, so I go to Display Properties. I can't pick that - it goes from 800x600 to 1280x1064 - and that latter resolution just doesn't jive with my monitor. Then I noticed that it has something like "Generic SVGA" as the adapter. Well that simply won't do, so I figure just reinstall the driver. Small problem - what do I reinstall? 3dfx only ever came out with Win9x and Win2K drivers - and now 3dfx doesn't exist anymore. I installed the Win2K driver - but it didn't take. Crap. So I did a Google search for WinXP and Voodoo3 3500 and it sent me to NTCompatible (I wonder if they'll ever change their name) who tells me that I might as well hit the Windows Update site, so I do.

Well holy crap, "product updates" pulls up some hotfix and a "Voodoo 3/4/5 series compatible adapter". Cool - Microsoft of all people is going to keep the drivers up to date. I fire it up and it works like a dream. Except that now my system can only push 1024x768 - perhaps some more fiddling is due.

I hate skinning. Some programs, like Winamp, use it to good measure, but others, like Ulead's VideoStudio, use it to hide their inadequacies. So WindowsXP is like one BIG skin. However, surprisingly, I like it. It "feels" good - not like some idiot-proof Mac or something. I'm not sure what to make of the start menu - perhaps it can be modified. It puts your name in big letters on the top of it, along with a customizable icon - I wonder why it chose the Rock Gutiar for me (unless it does this for everyone). In addition, you can uninstall it and go back to whatever you ran before - how effective this is I don't know, but it's neat.

As for the Windows Product Activation? Please - like presenting your driver's license when writing a check or being polite to the police officer, so long as you're legit it shouldn't be a big deal.

So no longer am I relegated to using Windows 98, nor do I have to worry with Windows 2000's compatibility issues - though the sheer newness and beta quality of Windows XP does tend to make compatibility a whole different animal. I haven't made my final verdict on Windows XP but I can say this much so far: not bad.

Oh, and yesterday I forgot the Nintendo 64 port of Doom, which looked and played more or less nothing like any previous version of Doom ever - the levels had changed and the engine heavily modified and enhanced to the point where it just wasn't Doom anymore. I figured they had made a whole new game and just "pasted" some Doom enemies into it, but I learned recently that indeed it was based on the original Doom source code, so they just made a hard left with it. So, despite having the best graphics and sound and also being the last Doom port to a console (save DoomDC), it also wond up being the worst port ever.

August 2, 2001
 
6:01 PM
I now have this site powered by Blogger. If my work has paid off you won't even really be able to tell I did anything at all. The idea behind Blogger is that, instead of me editing a web page in FrontPage, I set up a Blogger template and update through the Blogger website. This is a really neat idea - provided Blogger doesn't go into dot-com hell.

So, on to other things. A port of Doom to the Dreamcast has been released. Coded by some independent hackers, DoomDC does a pretty bangup job. Considering that this is pretty much the first independent effort to port a piece of exisitng source code other than an emulator to the Dreamcast, it's mighty impressive. It will run the IWAD files for Doom, Doom II, The French version of Doom which lacks the swastica location, Ultimate Doom and both episodes of Final Doom. However, while it does have full speed and sound support, it doesn't play music just yet, nor does it feature multiplayer. Also, due to how the screen rendering is (so far) handled, the colors look a bit washed out. However, these are minor quibbles - this is the best console port of Doom ever. Doom's NeXTSTEP development platform meant that porting was relatively easy for id, so many consoles got Doom, but none of them ever got it right. The Atari Jaguar version was alright, but it had a low resolution (somewhere between the "high" and "low" on the PC) and the levels were abbreviated (some were missing, others had sections missing). Oh well, at least it had multiplayer through two linked Jaguars (finding a second person with a Jaguar, however, was the fun part). The Sega Genesis 32X version was laughable in that the screen size was too small and no sprites existed for any angle other than head on - all enemies were "coming right for you" all the time. The version for the 3DO player was pretty awful - lots of missing frames and the usual smaller levels. The versions for the Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn did what they could given the lack of technology, but neither really went down in the history books. And the Super Nintendo port (running with the assistance of the FX2 chip) was, like the upcoming port to the Game Boy Advance, more of a technical demo/stunt than an actual port of the game - impressive for the platform in consideration, but the worst ports in so far as the game was concerned.

Still, it felt damn good to play that game again. I think I'm going to have to go fire up the Bobby Prince soundtrack tonight. Let's just hope id doesn't blow it with Doom III.



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