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  • mattlindh 5:42 pm on February 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Game Theory, interactive education, Starcraft, UC Berkeley   

    Starcraft Class at UC Berkeley 

    caltreegrove

    My current institution of higher learning, UC Berkeley, is offering a class on Starcraft and Game Theory. I’m all for realizing the educational potential of games, but I’m not sure this is it. Judge for yourself here.

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  • mattlindh 3:58 pm on June 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: I have seen, , , speed racer   

    I Have Seen: Speed Racer 

    I Have Seen: Speed Racer

    Speed Racer has gotten a bad rap. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but if you go into the movie with certain expectations, then you might find, as I did, a very satisfying experience. With that, here are my top four reasons why you should watch Speed Racer.

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    • detnap 8:47 am on June 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I followed one of the automatically generated links (Movie Review: SPEED RACER (PG) 0 Stars) and he panned the movie and just walked out halfway through. I think that some movies have a specific crowd. He said “I do understand the disciplines of the Japanese style.” and that right there seems to show that maybe he isn’t as much of an expert in “Japanese style” as he believes.

      I think my feelings toward this movie would be much more in line with yours than the population at large. I haven’t seen it yet, but plan to sometime.

    • Phokal 2:30 pm on June 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      $1 theater or Blu-ray. Bring it over :)

    • mattlindh 5:18 pm on June 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Well like I said, if you watch it for the style, then you’ll like it. If you’re expecting much beyond cool visuals (like plot), then you probably won’t.

  • mattlindh 3:04 pm on June 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Clone Wars, ,   

    New Clone Wars Trailer 

    New Clone Wars Trailer

    This trailer is a lot more atmospheric than the last one. I like it.

    See it here.

     
  • mattlindh 9:49 am on May 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fallout 1, Fallout 2, ,   

    Guide to Installing Fallout 1 and 2 

    Guide to Installing Fallout 1 and 2

    For those of who wish to enjoy the long overdue pleasure of playing Fallout 1 and 2 (I’m looking at you Phokal) or want to relive it, you may not be aware that, since those long ago times, some dedicated fans have taken it upon themselves to fix up unpatched bugs and even add deleted content. The mass of fan patches and mods can be bewildering, so here, I’ll present the instructions to getting what I believe to be the best and purest Fallout experience.

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    • Phokal 12:15 pm on May 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks quite good. If you notice an update, you should edit/comment and append it here. :)

      I’ll have to use these when I play this soon. I also HAVE that picture you found. I printed it out as a test print of our Dye Sub printer one day and it’s framed. (I’ve had it since my apt on Adams St.)

    • mattlindh 11:08 am on May 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, that guy’s made two more Fallout-themed pictures. He’s pretty good.

    • Alexxarian 1:12 pm on October 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Awesome guide. Just wanted to mention that there is a new patch, 1.3.4, by TeamX, so get that one instead:

      http://www.nma-fallout.com/forum/dload.php?action=file&file_id=1075&sid=16e4d1a28c3ea4ed8ca2d67c697902c3

      http://teamx.mhost.ru/node/297

    • Jimbo 3:32 pm on November 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I have an issue with the white label trilogy collection. It’s been a while since i abandoned fallout 2 (yes I will take the abuse) In fall out 1 my screen blacks out including the inventory bar and can only be uncovered with mouse movements like eraser in paint. I don’t remember this being a bug on the original. running on xp sp2 amd 6000 7600gt

    • phokal 3:47 pm on November 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Did you set them to run in Compatibility Mode?

      Right click the shortcut or exe, go to the Compatibility Tab, and set to Run as Windows 98. You may need to turn on other/different combinations of options. Possibly 95. I don’t remember off hand.

    • jim 7:54 am on December 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      hey Jimbo, that exact same thing is happening to me, anyway around this?

      i tried what you said phokal, but still same problem.

      • phokal 10:29 am on December 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

        I’ll be reinstalling this on Vista 64 soon. I’ll let you know more precise steps then. I just remember hitting the exact same thing. Switching around compatibility options eventually fixed it. maybe the 16bit color one?

    • Hagbard23 8:44 pm on January 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, all the links for the fallout one patches are dead, is the site down and this works usually, or are the URLs just old and the files are somewheres else or what… but they aren’t working for me i get a 404 on all of them… so hey…wtf?

    • Nick 12:33 am on February 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Yes these links are now dead.

      The GSP white label 3 in 1 version contains a patch for each game – are these patches enough to complete all 3 games? E.G F2 is patched to 1.02d from the disc files. Updating F2 to 1.02e from web based patches produces error where the game no longer recognises the CD.

      Any experience of completing or patching white label 3 in 1 set appreciated.

      • phokal 7:54 pm on July 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Yup. Sorry about that. I need to clean this up a bit. For now, I’ll point everyone to GoG.com, which offers a patched up and supported version of the game.

        I’ll fix these links soon.

    • Angus 11:48 pm on October 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      nma-fallout.com has all the latest patches. Also, the White Label edition is the European version. If you have that one, you will also need to get the children patch.

    • Water Bear 6:36 pm on October 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Step 1: Buy fallout 1,2 and tactics off steam for 19 bucks
      Step 2: Play.

    • phokal 9:02 pm on October 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      The fan patches actually add in a decent amount of content. They range from bug fixes, increased resolution, or cut material.

    • slx 7:21 am on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Sadly all of the Fallout 1 links are 404 (even the “1.3.4, by TeamX”) and the Fallout 2 “Install the engine fixes (released February 22, 2008)” is, too. :(
      Please, refresh the links!

      • terry 12:02 pm on September 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        listen i love fallout but im rubbish with a PC ive downloaded a restoration project patch and i dont know how to do anything else do i have to install it to a certain folder? do i have to extract something to a file? how do i extract? someone take pity on a technophobe fallout fan and e-mail me with instructions fallout 2 works fine just plain ignorant thanks tfo2010@hotmail.co.uk

  • mattlindh 4:23 pm on May 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , nazis on the moon   

    Invasion of the Moon Nazis 

    Invasion of the Moon Nazis

    New movie from Finland called Iron Sky. Two words: Space Nazis.

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    • Phokal 4:36 pm on May 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      two words for you: “fucking. awesome.”

      I’ll have to research this a bit later. Have any additional info? summary, etc?

    • mattlindh 4:44 pm on May 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I linked to the trailer and the website, where it’s described as a “dark science-fiction comedy.” Here’s the plot summary:

      Towards the end of World War II the staff of SS officer Hans Kammler made a significant breakthrough in anti-gravity.

      From a secret base built in the Antarctic, the first Nazi spaceships were launched in late ‘45 to found the military base Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun) on the dark side of the Moon. This base was to build a powerful invasion fleet and return to take over the Earth once the time was right.

      The year is 2018. Things are looking good for Renate on the Nazi moonbase. For all her life, she has worked hard to be a productive member of the Fourth Reich, and now, her dreams are coming true.

      Renate is to travel to Earth on a secret mission with her fiance, the handsome and high-ranking Klaus, a true Nazi down to his jackboots. Their mission: to assassinate the president of the United States, Jenna Bush.

      Renate finds Earth not to be the pit of depravity Klaus had described. Suddenly, bombing this world back to the stone age doesn’t seem like a good idea at all.

      But the Nazi invasion is on its way, and the world is goose-stepping towards its doom.

    • Phokal 12:01 pm on May 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Just thought of this imagery during the trailer: Battlezone (for the PC). GREAT game waaay too ahead of its time. First game to default the WASD control scheme from what I remember.

    • pickett 10:31 am on May 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      you crazy jew
      the war is over, aaron!! live in the now!

    • Phokal 2:33 pm on May 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hah. Not my post. Though, I notice the category isn’t set. I’ll go fix that quick.

      And, note, Battlezone was Americans vs. Soviets on the Moon during the Cold War.

    • mattlindh 2:35 pm on May 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Oops, my mistake.

      They were also on other planetary bodies in the solar system. I think the Chinese were involved too.

  • mattlindh 4:32 pm on May 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Action Figures, Avengers, , Justice League, ,   

    Steampunk (and other) Action Figures 

    Steampunk (and other) Action Figures

    “Imperialist and steel baron, Anthony Edward Stark, while overseeing construction of a new steam powered weapon. was taken prisoner during the Mexican American War. He was instructed to build the weapon for his captors. Instead, he built a suit and escaped. He later refined the suit to a more formidable weapon.”

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    • phokal 11:42 pm on May 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I’d buy ’em.

      And then I would have to resist the temptation to worship false idols. Because. These. are. that. god-like.

      Great find. How did you come across these?

    • detnap 8:03 am on May 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      These are pretty fantastic.

  • mattlindh 4:19 am on May 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Steampunk Laptop 

    Steampunk Laptop

    This guy turned his laptop into a steampunk-themed contraption. It even turns on with a clock-winding key. Cool.

     
    • phokal 11:40 pm on May 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      More awesome that most awesome things. Practicality hurts it a bit, but makes up for it in style.

      Now, if only it had a mod to actually steam a little. That would be something amazing to see.

      They need these on old Tour Trains (where you ride around for a week on a train as the vacation).

  • mattlindh 11:55 pm on May 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , The Dark Knight,   

    New Dark Knight Trailer 

    New Dark Knight Trailer

    Awesome.

     
    • phokal 11:39 pm on May 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Some minor spoilers, but still quite good.

      I’m definitely looking forward to this movie. Combined with Iron Man, and a (possibly good) Hulk movie, it seems to be the summer of the Comic Book Film.

  • mattlindh 12:51 pm on February 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: annah, book, detnap, , ,   

    Planescape: Torment: The Book 

    torment.jpg

    Planescape: Torment: The Book

    Inspired by detnap’s assertion that the story in Planescape: Torment “just isn’t dense enough” and that “if we put all the pages of a video game story together, at the end, it might be 100 pages, but it’ll take 60 hours to tell the story,” I would like to point out a novelization that takes much of the game’s text and dialogue and edits it together into a narrative. (More …)

     
    • phokal 1:50 pm on February 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      The game was more like a 30-40 (do everything) playtime, right? Bit quicker if you ran through it, but I think you’d be missing a lot of the plot if you tried to speed run.

    • mattlindh 5:51 pm on February 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Can’t remember how long it took. If you were like me, and constantly reloaded to see what other options would do, it took a lot longer. However, the universe was so detailed that it was a pleasure.

    • detnap 6:36 pm on February 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Well, maybe I’ll just pick up the book then.

      Again, I’m a believer that plots in video games help the gameplay. For instance, gears of war plot was dumb, but the game was still pretty good. Call of duty 4 plot was pretty cliche (we’ve seen soviets stealing nukes a million times) but the game was pretty good. Halo’s plot is just random mumbo jumbo, but the game is okay.

      Writing in a game could make the game good, but as a medium couldn’t you get a good story out of a book as well? I can not get the Call of Duty 4 experience of being frustrated out of my mind from a book, but I might be able to get the Planescape Torment Experience out of a book. The things that separate it out for me (since it is an rpg) is the ability to customize my guys to be badass.

      • Zirusianna 8:31 am on May 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        But there are things that books can’t capture.

        I also read the book, but that was after I played the video game. And though we are talking about a video game, after 10 years of being a gaming nerd, I still have trouble comparing Planescape Torment to any other game not made by the same man. They are insanely unique.

        Things like pictures of the landscape itself, that you chose your own dialog, that you can play through the game itself, conquer Sigil yourself, means a lot to me, because it’s the focus point of the games. Not violence or blood or mature sex scenes. Not any multiplayer function, or even the DnD ruleset it was build on. That’s not in focus; The story is. It’s all about the story.

        If you like the book, the game is worth a shot. Some people like books better – I love the Warhammer 40k universe more on book form than any game or movie, but Planescape Torment is such a unique experience, in any form, that it’s worth it to try both.

    • mattlindh 8:40 pm on February 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      But you can customize your eyes. You can swap out their teeth, even their eyeballs. And your class and your stats determine what you can do. The story is hugely dependent on how you configure your guy, which makes it an interactive experience. When you read a book, you don’t get the same sense that the stuff that is happening is happening to YOU. Plus, Torment brought in a lot of philosophy that really made you think. The ability to make choices makes it superior to a book. The examples you cite are all first person shooters. Sure, those are fun, but they aren’t very good if you’re looking for less action-oriented entertainment.

    • mattlindh 8:41 pm on February 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Oops, meant “guys” instead of “eyes” in the first line.

    • phokal 12:57 am on February 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      RPG has the customization, but games can portray moments in ways movies and books cannot. Each medium has advantages. Books allow for envisioning the events taking place in a certain way, but the events themselves are static. A common complain against books is ‘pacing.’ Tom Clancy books are too long/boring, or it felt rushed. Movies have the same issue, but often have to be tighter to fit budget constraints and director vision. Special effects show things audiences may not have been able to imagine, but the director was.

      Games combine some of these. Sure, there are negatives, such as any story portrayed has to fit into fun gameplay. Story elements have to be placed on scripted events that have triggers. This is a current technical limitation. However, they allow for observer controlled pacing, and a degree of control not found in the other two. Often you see a scene or read a passage where a character acts, how you believe, out of character.
      “Don’t be stupid. Don’t trust him!” or “That’s not what he’d do. He’s a soldier, why would he risk the mission to care about the child?”
      Just because the writer wrote a deep involved backstory about said soldier having a kid who shot himself, doesn’t mean it will flow if that never made it into the story to explain the character’s actions. In games, you are given control over this aspect. The characters reasonings and emotion are given by the observer. You do things because of reasons that you make up. Why your character would do it. In GTA, perhaps you accept a mission to beat up an old lady. You have to accept this mission, but the reasoning is yours. Perhaps you imagine you accepted it because you are a good soldier/gangster, and you do it because ordered. Perhaps you do it to gain the trust and further money/girls from the gang learder. Perhaps to gain trust in order to betray them. Or perhaps because you like to beat up old ladies. As long as you accept a reason like this, rather than “because there is a waypoint there,” then the medium is capable of story telling.
      Instead of losing the illusion because characters behave oddly or with reasons you don’t believe, you lose it when you break the script. Playing many of these story driven games is like playing a scavenger hunt. If you hunt between points and find clues, going to where you are supposed to, then the illusion of choice and progression will hold. If instead of following the clues, and you just turn around and go to the nearest Denny’s for a Breakfast grand slam, then of course the story will fall apart.
      The initial reason for this is because “well, I was bored.” The difference is, a book and movie force you to stay bored for 2 minutes before picking up again (or the viewer gives up). In a game, in the INSTANT a user becomes bored, they can immediately wander, immediately break the story. And it takes effort to get it back, effort a bored user doesn’t want to put in. And to get not bored they need to progress, but they can’t because they have wandered off the path.

      Developers fault for not making the path narrow enough? Not enough dangerous, horrible spikes to kill the player who wanders? Perhaps. I’m sure the person who solves this problem will make a ton of money.

      If you play Planescape Torment, point to point, there is no way you cannot appreciate the story. It is unique in its medium in that you explore an environment that you cannot know. Assumptions may help you some, but different players will not have the same assumptions about the same parts. Observing the environment and realizing you are standing in a giant archway, walking to the single point you now KNOW it is where you should go, making the discovery of the portal YOURS, is a much greater draw than reading about a character who saw the same thing. The presentation that holds it back is its interface. Dialog delivered in 100’s of pages of 10 line boxes is tedious.

    • detnap 7:04 pm on February 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “When you read a book, you don’t get the same sense that the stuff that is happening is happening to YOU.”

      Yes, if that is if you relate to the character as yourself. I personally don’t relate to the character as “Me”. If you like Torment because of how it portrays “you” and the story behind it, okay. Again, going by balder’s gate, final fantasys, phantasy stars, fallout, I look at the main character as a hero doing what a hero would, not necessarily doing what “I” would do.

      “Plus, Torment brought in a lot of philosophy that really made you think.”

      To be sure, but we can but philosophy down on paper too.

      “The ability to make choices makes it superior to a book.”

      If that is all that the game needed, can you strip out all the gameplay elements? Do you believe that Torment can survive as just a text adventure game?

      The point is that sure, you might have loved the story so you liked the game, even given its weaker gameplay mechanics. You felt that the story was strong enough to carry its weaker gameplay mechanics. I did not.

      “Sure, those are fun, but they aren’t very good if you’re looking for less action-oriented entertainment.”

      That’s why I read a book.

    • mattlindh 7:18 pm on February 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “Yes, if that is if you relate to the character as yourself. I personally don’t relate to the character as “Me”.”

      The whole point of an RPG is to identify yourself with the character – that’s why it’s called “role-playing.”

      “To be sure, but we can but philosophy down on paper too.”

      Yes, but having something at stake – real consequences – drives home the points in a way that mere descriptive text can not.

      “If that is all that the game needed, can you strip out all the gameplay elements? Do you believe that Torment can survive as just a text adventure game?”

      Wait a second, since when do text adventure games not have any gameplay elements? You can’t seriously mean that games like Zork have no gameplay. That would restrict the definition of gameplay to something very banal.

      “You felt that the story was strong enough to carry its weaker gameplay mechanics. I did not.”

      I was under the impression that you did not play very much of the game. How much of the mechanics did you experience?

      “That’s why I read a book.”

      So your basic point is that you don’t like Torment because you mainly play games for the action. I guess we look for different things. I view games as potential art – one reason why I generally don’t like to play sports games. Also, as I already said, reading a book doesn’t allow you to make choices. On the other hand, I do like those Choose Your Own Adventure books.

    • detnap 7:35 pm on February 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      ” A common complain against books is ‘pacing.’ Tom Clancy books are too long/boring, or it felt rushed. Movies have the same issue, but often have to be tighter to fit budget constraints and director vision. ”

      “However, they allow for observer controlled pacing, and a degree of control not found in the other two.”

      So, pacing isn’t a complaint against video games? If I have to do some mundane task, over and over, how exactly is the pacing being controlled by me? There can be slowly paced games, just like books and movies. (by the way, there are many more authors than Tom Clancy).

      “Often you see a scene or read a passage where a character acts, how you believe, out of character.
      “Don’t be stupid. Don’t trust him!” or “That’s not what he’d do. He’s a soldier, why would he risk the mission to care about the child?””

      And that often happens in a video game too. How many times have we went to save the princess in the wrong castles? We do have a limited amount of choice, but for a story to progress, we have rails.

      “You do things because of reasons that you make up. Why your character would do it. In GTA, perhaps you accept a mission to beat up an old lady. You have to accept this mission, but the reasoning is yours. Perhaps you imagine you accepted it because you are a good soldier/gangster, and you do it because ordered. Perhaps you do it to gain the trust and further money/girls from the gang learder. Perhaps to gain trust in order to betray them. Or perhaps because you like to beat up old ladies. As long as you accept a reason like this, rather than “because there is a waypoint there,” then the medium is capable of story telling.”

      So, if I make up a reason why my character is behaving the way it is, then that makes it storytelling? That doesn’t make a very good narrative. And I don’t believe that you personally make up a story for every action that you do. I’ve seen you repeated jump into a pit, for no other reason than to see what the game would do. I’ve seen you climb a ladder for 45 minutes and then jump off just to see if you’d get something.

      The motivations in video games are really weak. I’m sure that planescape doesn’t necessarily fall into this trap, but in general, when you’re playing a game. at some point you’ll do an action for gameplay sake and not for story’s sake. (for example, doing side quests for extra xp. Even though you know exactly where to go to save the world, you take a detour to deliver some sandle to get some xp)

      “If you hunt between points and find clues, going to where you are supposed to, then the illusion of choice and progression will hold. If instead of following the clues, and you just turn around and go to the nearest Denny’s for a Breakfast grand slam, then of course the story will fall apart.”

      This has been your theme since assassin’s creed has come out. (basically “If you don’t play the game the way that the developers intended, you may have a weakened game playing experience”). I would say that’s what the strength of a game is. To be able to do whatever I want for the reasons that I want, not for the reasons of some underpaid video game writer. If I have to hunt the exact same clues, why can’t the author just tell me where the clue was found? Do you really get that much enjoyment out of hovering your mouse over a picture of a room and see what highlights?

      If you take out choice from a game, then the game is no better than a book, just more tedious.

      “Observing the environment and realizing you are standing in a giant archway, walking to the single point you now KNOW it is where you should go, making the discovery of the portal YOURS, is a much greater draw than reading about a character who saw the same thing.”

      It’s not “MINE”. It’s the character that the writers of the game have written and have presented on the screen for me. There’s no challenge because everybody that plays the game can do it. It’s not me, it’s you, and Ray, and me, and anybody else that play Planscape.

      You don’t really get better at playing “Planescape torment” as much as you get “Further”. Compare that to other games, such as Halo and Starcraft, were the more you play the better you are.

    • detnap 7:37 pm on February 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      To sum up,

      Planescape, in its current form, I would rather read the book than Play the game. If they made the gameplay more compelling (in the manner that I enjoy (namely, more like lost planet in terms of action, more like Balder’s gate in terms of weapons) with the same story I would probably enjoy it.

      But as it stand… Pass.

    • detnap 8:01 pm on February 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “The whole point of an RPG is to identify yourself with the character – that’s why it’s called “role-playing.”

      That’s not really true. They’re called “role-playing” because the first “role playing” games were based off of the pen and paper dungeons and dragons. A computer role playing game doesn’t necessarily make you take the role of the character any more than a baseball game.

      “Yes, but having something at stake – real consequences – drives home the points in a way that mere descriptive text can not.”

      What are the consequences? loading a save? death? becoming less powerful at the end?

      “Wait a second, since when do text adventure games not have any gameplay elements? You can’t seriously mean that games like Zork have no gameplay. That would restrict the definition of gameplay to something very banal.”

      Okay, fine. How about stripping out the baldur’s gate engine from Planescape. Will it survive? (I’m saying this because you said that planescape gives you choice and lets you associate with the main character, both of which can be done with a plain text game)

      “I was under the impression that you did not play very much of the game. How much of the mechanics did you experience?”

      Enough to know that I couldn’t equip Dakon with a +4 longsword dualwielded with a +3 shortsword.

      Enough to know that I could only have the same 6 or so party members as everybody else.

      Let me ask you, when you finished the game, did you finish with exactly the same party members as Aaron?

      I’ll tell you this, when Aaron and I compared endgame notes with Baldur’s gate, and we had completely different parties, much of the different gear. There wasn’t a single character that we both had. I bet you and Aaron had near identical parties at the end (or maybe only one of your characters were different).

      “So your basic point is that you don’t like Torment because you mainly play games for the action. I guess we look for different things. I view games as potential art – one reason why I generally don’t like to play sports games. Also, as I already said, reading a book doesn’t allow you to make choices. On the other hand, I do like those Choose Your Own Adventure books.”

      I think I play role playing games not for the story really, but to get my guys very powerful and to equip them with awesome stuff. Torment didn’t let me do that. In FF3, I had all 14 or so of my character learn the most power spell and equipped with the best items at level 99. I killed the final boss with one hit (not one round, one hit). In FF7, I had all my character learn knights of the round and get to 99. In baldur’s gate, I maxed out the xp and everybody had top line gear. That’s how I play role playing games. The story keeps the game together and gives me motivation, but that’s not really why I play.

    • phokal 8:01 pm on February 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      – Role playing the character is completely true. Not every RPG is Final Fantasy 6/7/8/9/10, where the main characters backstory, personality, and (for most part) ability are given rather than discovered or invented. Baldur’s Gate’s plot was shallow in delivery, but that was because you were meant to fill in the gaps with your imagination (much like a pen and paper). The story was just as much the way each unique battle unfolded (killing the captive with a fireball accidentally. or being surprised by the blur ability when you’d never seen it before), as it was the branching dialog (with standard good and evil choices).
      The games combat was just so strong that you could play it almost like x-com, where power leveling, party composition, and tactics were as much a game in and of itself as exploring the giant (mostly optional) world of Baldur’s Gate 1 (and extended a bit into 2). It’s harder for me to judge the optionalness of 2,…because I did EVERYTHING.
      Then there are the deeper choice based RPG’s like planescape, fallout, and deus ex. Your choices affect your character and how the plot unfolds. Which quests you get changes drastically, as do the endings. Yes, I know I haven’t beaten fallout, yet, but I know of the “this is what happens to this city” ending of each one (much like Chrono Cross did for all 80+ characters), which is different depending on how you did the quest/sidequests.

      As for consequence, planescapes is the easiest to defend. If you don’t investigate, you don’t ever learn your past. You can beat the final badguy, but never really know who he/she was, and why he/she attacked you. And you only ever learn the secrets of you past by REALLY investigating (having max stats, doing certain quests). As for Rey and I finishing the same, No. I completed many of the major side quests, and knew to take a lot of wisdom. Rey never learned the secrets/backstory of the main character his first time through. He got the ‘neutral’ ending, basically. Also, I had a hero weapon Rey never got. I think he’s still pissed I got it. No spoilers, rey, but feel free to bitch. As for the ‘same’ party, there are (from memory) 8 characters and 6 slots. 3 characters are optional, Vincent from ff7 like, characters that are hard to find and recruit. Seeing that we both carried the plot central chars around, that leaves 1 extra slot. Rey’s played the game multiple times with each extra char. I played through with Ignus, who I thought was the most interesting of the 3.

      Planescape would survive as a text adventure: someone made a BOOK an enjoyed it. It boardered lined on Adventure game with its realitively easy combat minus major encounters, and large amount of dialog.

      As for power,…the main char of Planescape can pretty much floor anybody in the rpgs you mentioned, and gets to by the end of the game.
      .
      Minor Spoilers:
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      As you know, in DnD games, you stats are permament. Sometimes you boost with Items. The Nameless One gets a stat point per level, gets stat points for completing major quests, and for recovering memories. By the end of the game, if you build your guy right, you can hit the max wall of 28(?) or 32(?) for 4 of your stats, and the rest be on their way. :)
      THAT’S power leveling.

    • hintzilla 3:04 pm on February 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I just got done listening to the newest 1up Yours podcast where the editors from 1up.com and EGM invite the Createive Director from Naughty Dog (most recently known for Uncharted) and Lorne Lanning from Oddworld Inhabitants to discuss storytelling in games, and whether or not its even a viable medium to do so in. It gets very in depth, with both guests using examples from their studios’ games, as well as some great questions from the 1up/EGM guys, namely Shane Bettenhausen’s criticism on Uncharted’s ending. You can download it from the itunes store or 1up.com.

    • Phokal 3:43 pm on February 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I think I need to beat uncharted before I hear the ending ;)

      it’s on my queue

    • hintzilla 3:54 pm on February 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I guess it’s not all that spoiler heavy, and is towards the end of the podcast, so you might be safe listening for the first 45 minutes or so. When Bettenhausen starts freaking out about the female character from Uncharted is probably a good stopping point. There is a lot of good talk about Stranger’s Wrath, which is probably my favorite original Xbox game, so it’s definitely worth a listen if you’ve gotten into any of the Oddworld games.

    • detnap 5:59 pm on February 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sorry, so let me get this straight. You killed the final boss in Planescape in one hit? Not one round, one attack.

    • Phokal 1:34 pm on March 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      You can win the final fight in…. a variety of ways. Seeing as one of your party members can be the personification of Order living in a suit of armor and gains a massive boost when he sees the boss, it is possible for the fight to be over pretty quickly. If that’s how you go about it.

      As for a single attack, you’ve played DnD. If a resistance check fails, then yea, it’s all over. Also, most fighters gain extra attacks per round rather than increase in sheer damage (ala simplified FF system). That’s how it works in DnD. To make the damage delivered in a single hit rather than round is to compare two unlike systems far too harshly. It’s not like you’d consider the Monk a useless, low damage melee class because it takes him 12 hits in a single round to kill a Dragon in Baldur’s Gate 2.

  • mattlindh 3:36 pm on January 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: building PC, , hardware,   

    Building a New PC 

    img_6419.jpg

    Building a New PC

    Phokal and I, mattlindh, are planning on building new PCs and we would appreciate some assistance as to what parts to get. Below are our current ideas with the asterisked parts already decided. Would you kindly help us out?

    **Updated with nearly finalized parts 1/20/07:

    **Purchased 1/31/07:

    (More …)

     
    • detnap 3:45 pm on January 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks pretty good, but there are a few suggestions:

      Case:
      It’s difficult finding a nice case (because for most parts, the variables are “it works” or “it doesn’t”. for a case, there are also questions if it would be easy to work on, if it is quiet, if it looks good, etc).

      I won’t say what is the best, but if I was going to buy a case today, I would try:
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811103011
      It has two large fans running at low rpms so that they move a lot of air while staying quiet at the same time.
      $109

      Motherboard:
      The P35 chipset is a good staple, but if you would like to plan for sli, you should probably get something with an nvidia chipset.
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131142
      $115

      Processor:
      A quad core is a very cool piece of work, but for today’s gaming, a dual core at higher clockspeeds will still probably be faster. A 3 Ghz Core 2 Duo will outpace a 2.4 ghz core 2 quad in most games (but will get wiped out in Maya or video rendering)
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115028
      $279

      Video Card:
      Right now, the 8800 gt is the goto card, but even so, there are a few variations of it. There are some that are “Overclocked” from the stock speed of 600 (up to 700, which is about a 15% increase). An example of one (not one that I would recommend, but as an example)
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125085
      That has an aftermarket Zalman fan, but the issue with it is that it only has 256 megs of onboard memory.
      My recommendation is to look for one with an aftermarket fan, already is clocked at higher than stock speeds, and 512 megs of video memory.

      Sound Card:
      I’m not sure, but I would first get the system put together, and then afterwards if the onboard sound isn’t performing enough, then get a sound blaster.

    • mattlindh 3:57 pm on January 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Good place to find deals that expire quickly:

      http://www.fatwallet.com/c/18/

    • scubamofo 8:56 pm on January 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I dont think I will be doing much gaming on my system but I am looking for something that I can use as a media center. What should I really be focusing on when looking for components? Also I know Phokal told me that a bigger monitor is better then multiple monitors. I really like the ease of two separate monitors rather then one larger monitor. Any input?

    • Phokal 3:10 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148288
      Seagate 500gig.
      With a “firmware” issue apparently. We should figure out what that is and get the link to the new firmware needed.

    • Phokal 3:15 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      ALchemy looks to cover most of the Vista issues:
      http://ask.americas.creative.com/SRVS/CGI-BIN/WEBCGI.EXE?New,Kb=ww_english_add,U={B8F60310-DA4F-11D3-94F4-00500463020E},Company={CEAE216D-8719-4C00-AC9F-03BC258F7B70},d=1130251443648,VARSET=ws:http://us.creative.com,case=9286

      Is it worth the 100 bucks, though? Or will they release another/better card soon? I think we should price out / set the rest of the box, and see if there is money left for that. Have to do it soon, b/c the mail in rebate expires soon.

    • mattlindh 3:36 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Re: Firmware Issue

      “Seagate has recently discovered that some of Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives with firmware version SD04 or SD14 will report an incorrect cache size.”

      http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/other_downloads/cuda-fw-disty

    • detnap 3:50 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “Is it worth the 100 bucks, though? Or will they release another/better card soon? I think we should price out / set the rest of the box, and see if there is money left for that. Have to do it soon, b/c the mail in rebate expires soon.”

      In Vista, they removed support for DirectSound for directional sound and put it natively into Vista. Creative got around that by putting a wrapper around DirectSound and then sending it to their hardware support. Theoretically, it will work with any game, but when games start to drop DirectSound support and support the new Vista, API, then the Hardware acceleration won’t work at all. And according to benchmarks, creative sound cards don’t necessarily perform better than onboard sound.

      http://techreport.com/articles.x/13874/6
      Average FPS
      Onboard Creative X-Fi
      BioShock 25 fps 24 fps
      Call of Duty 43 fps 39 fps
      Crysis 24 fps 24 fps
      Quake Wars 43 fps 36 fps

      Audio hardware for games is mostly a moot point in Vista.

    • mattlindh 4:00 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      One issue with the EVGA 8800 GT: It’s superclocked, and some people report that it may get too hot at times and the fan might not be adequate.

    • detnap 4:01 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “Also I know Phokal told me that a bigger monitor is better then multiple monitors. I really like the ease of two separate monitors rather then one larger monitor. Any input?”

      For a Media Center PC, something like a dell would probably be fine.
      http://bensbargains.net/redirect/54263
      It’s about $450 and comes with a monitor (which you may want to upgrade to an ultrasharp for about $130)

      Working with 2 monitors changes the way that you work, but if you become accustomed to it, it gives you more bang for the buck.

      A 24″ monitor maxes out at 1900×1200 for $600, and gives you 2,280,000 pixels.

      Two 20″ monitors maxes out at 3200×1200 for $217 a piece (total of $434) and you get 3,840,000 (which is about 70% more pixels).

      If I were going to buy a monitor, I would buy 2 20″, (mostly because a 20 inch is so cheap and I’ve become accustomed to working with 2 monitors)

    • detnap 4:02 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “One issue with the EVGA 8800 GT: It’s superclocked, and some people report that it may get too hot at times and the fan might not be adequate.”

      Yeah, look for one with something like a Zalman aftermarket fan.

    • mattlindh 4:30 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks like there aren’t any at newegg with aftermarket fans except the one with only 256 MB. We’d have to install one after. In the meantime, maybe we should find one that’s only the stock 600 MHz and then overclock it later?

    • mattlindh 4:44 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “And according to benchmarks, creative sound cards don’t necessarily perform better than onboard sound.”

      Yes, but I’m mainly interested in sound quality in sound cards. I listen to a lot of music and I watch movies on my computer, and I’m looking to make full use of my 5.1 speakers.

      It’s more expensive, but we might want to consider the Asus Xonar D2X or the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude.

      http://techreport.com/articles.x/13874

    • mattlindh 5:10 pm on January 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Two possible video card fans for the 8800 GT:

      VF1000 LED
      http://www.zalman.co.kr/eng/product/view.asp?idx=289&code=013

      ZM-RHS88
      http://www.zalman.co.kr/eng/product/view.asp?idx=318&code=013

      The problem is that the first goes for about $50 and the second goes for around $30. Not worth it?

    • detnap 11:24 am on January 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Something else to look at is the 8800 gts 512 (g92). In terms of pure bang for the buck, it isn’t as good as the 8800 gt, but for a little bit more money it’ll give you a little bit more performance (and since your video card will be your bottleneck in terms of fps, the faster the card, the faster the game). It will probably average 10% faster.

      On newegg, the gts is about $320, but there are a couple that come with crysis or company of heros, so if you haven’t bought those games already and were planning to, you can count that into the cost. A gt runs about $250, so with the game in consideration, the gts is about $20 more expensive.

      The gts does take 2 slots, but it will provide better cooling than a regular gt. It will also be able to reach a higher clockspeed than a gt with stock cooling if you try to overclock it. Also, if you put an aftermarket fan onto the gt, that will take up two slots anyway.

    • Phokal 11:16 am on January 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      This looks good to me:
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130312

      we should order before they run out of crysis ;)

      let’s price this sucker out today, if we can.

    • phokal 10:50 pm on January 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Added to cart, it is 1294.93 before $60 in mail in rebates.

      Kinda expensive, but it currently has $80 off the power supply.

      I was going to wait a few days so my Visa could be clear for this, but I may have to order the power supply soon, to save the $80…

    • Dave 2:23 pm on January 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks good to me. I’d invest in a heatsink though. Quad cores are pretty hot. The Thermalright ultra 120 might be a little extreme, but I’m sure there is something out there that won’t break your wallet as bad.

    • Phokal 2:54 pm on January 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Any in particular you recommend? In the archive is a link to a wizard, but I was never sure which options would be best.

      Any sold through newegg you recommend? (Save on shipping)

    • Dave 6:04 pm on January 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I do like this one:
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835154001
      Btw are you guys in CA? Cuz remember newegg taxes up the ass.

    • mattlindh 3:35 am on January 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      So do you want to order soon?

    • phokal 12:46 am on February 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      purchased.

      nwn2 better be frickin playable this time.

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