What She Said

January 7, 2002
5:02 PM
Yuppers, it looks like they can make the iMac more gay and stupid

5:02 PM
I'm going for the Blogging world record today, but this one is just a short one.

The conundrum of the "new and better" and "more crash free" operating system is that it more or less confirms that the operating systems just prior to it were in fact not better or crash free, a fact the company (Microsoft in this case) directly refutes when the previous OS's were the main bread and butter of the company. However it's downright funny when a company (Microsoft again) more or less refuses to even acknowledge the operating system.

I've purchased every MS OS since DOS 5, except for Windows ME. I got Windows 95 when I bought my Acer Aspire back in 1996 and I was pickled tink when Windows 98 came out - until I found out it wasn't all that much faster and if you ran Windows 95 OEM Service Pack 2 (OSR 2) with the latest IE, you were basically running it anyway. I upgraded to Win98 SE via a friend's CD and I skipped Windows ME until I heard good things (and I never heard good things). Now I have Windows XP Professional, courtesy of my Father-In-Law. The upgrade will upgrade any previous MS 32-Bit OS except Windows 95.

Microsoft told every industry over and over in 1995 that Windows 95 would basically make everyone's lives happier and easier. However when the opposite turned out to be true (it was a better OS but it required tons of work to make it that way on a mass scale) most places decided to make their IT department locked into either Windows 3.1 (which they knew worked) or Windows 95 (which they had managed to make work), lest they become a Microsoft Guinea Pig again. My Wife's place of employment got Windows 98 like last month.

So it comes as a bit humorous that Microsoft doesn't want people to be able to upgrade from Windows 95 to Windows XP. Perhaps it's really just an issue of not being able to upgrade that operating system, but everyone of course suspects the obvious (which is probably true) - if you've been dodging OS upgrades for six years it's time for Microsoft to start hosing you from scratch. They did this same thing to people trying to upgrade from Office 95 to Office XP. The catch 22 of course is if you're still running Windows 95 the odds of you being able to run Windows XP (because of your computer being old/slow) are slim.

But then the last straw came last night. My Return to Castle Wolfenstein CD lists the supported operating systems: Windows 95 OSR2/98/98 SE/NT 4.0 (SP6)/2000/XP. Yuppers, if you're still ruinning the original Windows 95 you got on floppies you're SOL. Why you can even think of runnning Wolfenstein is another matter.

2:22 PM
So last night I got the Return to Castle Wolfenstein hookup. I also bought Serious Sam: The First Encounter, which I figured was appropriate, given the fact that Serious Sam: The Second Encounter is coming out next month.

Wolfenstein's an odd one. Gray Matter studios, who formerly called themselves Xatrix (everyone "quit" Xatrix to "form" Gray Matter) did the single player, Nevre Studios did the multiplayer. Id did the original game, so it's "An id Game, developed by Gray Matter (with multiplayer by Nerve)", somewhat akin to "Steven Speilberg Presents a Robert Zemeckis film". The movie Back to the Future was directed by Zemeckis, but is usually credited to Speilberg by most since he's the most recognizable name on the poster. Wolfenstein is a Gray Matter title but it's considered an "id Game". It makes sense all around - the game sells better because the average joe can't tell the difference between "developed by" and "just has their name on it" (witness the number of people who think the same people who made Atari games in the 1970's are making the new PS2 games by Infogrames with the Atari logo on them). In addition, id gets sales revenues from the fact that their logo is on it and it was their game to begin with (though I wonder who owned the rights to the old Castle Wolfenstein Apple II game the game Wolfenstein 3-D was a remake of).

The only people who don't seem to come out on top in this deal are Nerve - they've been pushed to the back, so to speak. This is ironic since it was essentially their multiplayer game that made the game popular initially. I've heard from some people who just figured the single player portion of the game was a side dressing of sorts for the multiplayer game, which was the case with Quake III: Arena. This is not uncommon - I've known people who bought Goldeneye and a Nintendo 64 just to do deathmatch - caring nothing about the single player portion.

In 1998 Valve released Half-Life, instantly hailed as the best PC game ever made. However the multiplayer, while it didn't suck it more or less was tacked on. It wasn't until Counter-Strike came out a year later people started to play online a lot - and buy the game a lot. Valve did the smart thing and hired the CS team and made them Valve employees. Now they're working on full blown Counter-Strike games. Ironically their original idea was to do the same thing with Team Fortress 2. Team Fortress was a pretty popular Quake (1) modifcation. The team wanted to make Team Fortress 2 for Quake II when they started to get the idea of making it a commercial expansion pack, or maybe even a standalone game. Then Valve got a hold of them and signed them to make Team Fortress 2 a Half-Life add-on pack. To tide the fans over they had them do Team Fortress Classic, a version of the original for Half-Life and made it a free download. However, TF2 has yet to be released and has gone from a Half-Life expansion to a full-blown standalone game using its own new engine. Meanwhile fans are getting their fill with TFC and CS.

The long and the short of this the fact that it now apparently takes multiple developers to properly do a game with single and multiplater components properly. When id did DOOM, they invented the deathmatch game (more or less) so there was nothing to worry about. However as time goes on the amount of quality gamers expect has multiplied. The development of the game Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64 took twice as long as needed, due to the multiplayer component. As a result the game sold tremendously better. id Software grew tired of having to make single and multiplayer components for Quake and Quake II and then have gamers mostly just play the multiplayer, so they made Quake III multiplayer only, shaving development time in half. Whereas Valve is having internal teams do their multiplayer development, when id looked to farm out production of a Wolfenstein sequel they turned to the newly formed Gray Matter to do the job. The initial plan was for a single player game, perhaps with a multiplayer component later (an approach that Ion Storm Austin took with Deus Ex, which worked to a large extent), but then they decided to also contract Nerve to do the single player component. Now Wolfenstein is looking to shape up to be an example of how things can be done right - both the single and multiplayer aspects are outstanding.

Still, it's almost sad that id will get the credit for this game. True, they did write the engine and the original game it was based on, and they did help a bit in the development, but it's really Gray Matter and Nerve who made the game. Still, id gets the credit for whenever DOOM and Quake get ported to another platform, even though it's someone else who does the work to port it. Plus, Gray Matter and Nerve could do much worse than "from the people who bought you Wolfenstein...".

However, I bet Robert Zemeckis gets tired of being called "The Forrest Gump guy".

8:22 AM
I love my Wife - she never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I lament that we have some important things not in common - she doesn't really care too much for video games, I don't give a fig about decorating. However, we do have other things in common - we both like to read, we both like Twin Peaks (me moreso, probably), etc. She loves Fantasy/Sci-Fi stuff. So long as Mercedes Lackey, Anne McAffrey and Robert Jordan can still write, I'll always have stuff to keep her entertained with. We usually pick up a paperback or two when we leave town - she'll have them read by the time we get back. And she's a hardcore reader, too - she doesn't feel the need to keep the books, whereas I make it a point to have hardcover on the bookshelf whenever I can.

So we make plans to go see Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Saturday night. I had finished reading the book hours before. I figure it can't miss - hit movie, big budget, three hours, based on a book, fantasy. Good stuff. She hated it. No point, too drawn out, useless scenes. Like I said, she never ceases to amaze me.

In any event, I liked the movie, but I wonder if I'm just another victim of "supposed to like it" syndrome. I read the book and I liked it - the part I could follow - but I wonder if that's another sign of "supposed to like it" syndrome. In any event I plan on reading the other two books in the saga before the next movie comes out and I guess I'll know then if it really was the epic of our time or another geek syndrome beaten to death.

More later - I got my game on this weekend.

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