What She Said

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.


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.

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