Category Archives: Gaming

I have been well-conditioned

I wondered, today, how much of the unease London’s nearly-oppressive surveillance camera presence comes from being brought up on games like System Shock, where you’re being watched by the opposition and systematically eliminating their eyes is part of the game.

I thought of this today as I noticed one over a door and thought “I could probably nail that if I had a large wrench…”

Comparison of game quality two consoles

I know the Wii’s success was a surprise to almost everyone in the development industry (especially those who allocate money to projects), but I thought by this point, we’d be seeing some quality games come out for it. And I read some comments this week about how it was a novelty – people bought it, played Wii Sports, and it started gathering dust immediately. I compared it to my much-traveled DS over the last six months on Game Rankings…

For the DS:
1 90+ game (Phantom Hourglass)
5 80-89 games (counts the two Pokemon versions)
8 70-79 games

For the Wii:
2 90+ games (Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime 3)
0 80-89 games
9 70-79 games

And then compare that to the Xbox 360 (which I don’t have)
2 90+ games
16 80-89 games
I don’t even know how many 70-79 games

And again, I know the development pipeline for the Xbox 360 has the advantage of that huge lead time and all. But when do we start getting some decent games for the Wii? I don’t think anyone knows how this will play out — but I’m really curious to see what happens when I run that query again in six months.

Copy protection: training users to not buy or pirate games

I buy my PC/console/etc games, largely because I know that as the world’s constructed, the people who produce games I want to play need money now, in the same way I know that if I don’t buy some band’s album, or go to their concerts — yeah. I feel good that I have my NOLF boxes kicking around, and Full Throttle, and whatever.

The problem with this is that it totally sucks, especially on the PC. You get stuck with Star Force or whatever installed, and when I run a game I bought, sometimes they scan my system and complain about other programs… it’s a hassle, and it makes me not want to buy them.

I pre-ordered Bioshock, for example, and it asked for the serial number. and it kept rejecting my serial number. I had to go through and figure out which ambiguously printed letter/number was which. What kind of total crap is that, when they can’t forsake 0/O I/1 or at least print them so that they’re easy to differentiate?

Plus, it includes SecureRom, which means it fucks up my machine generally. AWESOME. THANKS.

Meanwhile, there’s a ton of pirated versions already out there. So the choice I’m presented with each time I consider buying a PC game, really, is:
– Buy, have to install malware with the game, figure out what software I have on my computer doesn’t work with that species of malware, probably tweak my anti-virus/firewall software, get treated like a criminal, or
– Be a criminal and pirate it

Really? That’s the choice you want me to be making? Seriously, they’re training legitimate buyers to go online, find the cracks, and use them on software they bought. Did they think that through? That all the people who go through that will make the same decision next time, instead of thinking “As long as I’m downloading the pirated version anyway, maybe I should get it first…”

Crazy. It’s just crazy. The game’s pretty sweet, if you’re curious, though it’s super important to get a high frame rate and update to the beta drivers if you’ve got an nVidia card: it’s way, way too hard to play otherwise, to the point where it’s not even fun.

Extended versus expanded memory

This will going to date me as sure as cutting me open and counting my rings. I just dug this notbook up, and it contains a couple pages of notes like

Mem total used free
Conv 640 69 571
Upper 0 0 0
Adapter 128 128 0
XMS 3328 1088 2240
total 4096 1285 2811

device c:\dossetver.exe
device c:\dos\himem.sys
dos = high
files = 30

This is followed by alternate versions of the same format, except optimizing for EMS instead of XMS (emm386.exe, baby)… pages of “devicehigh /L: 2,12048=c:\dos\setver.exe”

I realize, when I look at stuff like this, why I get so annoyed when I look at my task list and see even trivial apps that shouldn’t be running at all (I’m looking at you, Apple) taking 4 megs of memory. It used to take forever to get Wing Commander to run. It was crazy.

I feel like saying “Gamers today. You don’t know how good you’ve got it.” and then pointing at myself and laughing. What in the world drove me to waste days – days! Working on crap like that? Trying to get games to run in DOS back when they were really pushing it was a lot like tearing down and rebuilding your house every time someone came over for dinner.

“What? You need to grate cheese? Oh no!”

And we put up with it! We loved it! Wow, were we all morons.

Gamer cache

My parents cleaned out their garage and handed back to me a couple boxes of books and other good stuff. But I was overjoyed to discover:

The Ancient Art of War, on one 5 1/4th” disk, including absolutely pristine manual.
Pirates! (the original, accept no imitation)
Wing Commander
Wing Commander 2, including the 3.5″ disks with the voices
Full Throttle

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get Ancient Art of War off an entirely obsolete and unusable format so I can play it again. I’m pretty psyched about this possibility.