Games Developers Play

It’s rare I speak about the electronic entertainment industry since retiring from any sort of online game development or online game, I’ve also given up supporting many companies, such as Microsoft who still cannot get the XBox 360 right. In my tenure working on an amateur development team and rubbing elbows with some well known companies like id Software, Activision, Ravensoft and others I have lost some respect I once held for some of these professional development houses.

Since moving on from Urban Terror I have yet to spend any money on another PC game, nor have I built a new computer to support these high end fandango games that only seem to be getting prettier than anything else. I can’t speak for their game play, but after nearly 10 years of development on Urban Terror it became quite apparent that game play would always trump graphics. As we have seen in the past and will continue to see in the future, graphics will continue to sell games, not game play. Even games that should have never made it to retail will end up being found on retail shelves and not long after in the bargain bin.

Unfortunately many game developers continue to recycle their “franchise” products. This in my opinion is not what development is about. I feel that many companies seem to have lost that creative drive that bought us many unique and enjoyable games back in the day, DICE and their Battlefield series is one of the most popular. Another example is Call of Duty from Grey Matter Interactive/Activision. Both of these developers have been taking their series to the next level, but how is the game play? I believe as a franchise ages it can become chocked full of so many features that it actually detract from game play. I still feel Codename: Eagle was a solid game from DICE. Simple, yet enjoyable on a LAN.

Recently with the release Portal 2 by Valve (alleged) fans seem to do nothing but trash talk the game. This is typical of supporters to whine, “while hundreds of negative summaries complaining about unbelievably inane shit (source). This just goes to show even professional designers can’t get things right and fans continue to shell out their money for games and feel they are deserved something in return.

I do agree with what is stated in this article on Destructoid, “Of course, the people whining would still buy <insert game here> and everything else <insert company here> puts out without a second thought. No wonder they whine so hard — it must be difficult being such spineless, dickless chumps.” This was ALWAYS the case with Urban Terror development and all those chumps didn’t have to pay to play. It’s no wonder I got out of gaming.

Development houses will continue to develop games. While the actual retail market is undergoing a change, with boxed software slowly giving way to downloadable software, the quality of games continue to improve. I believe this is a trend that will continue to rise for years to come. Franchises will continue to spin new iterations and gamers will continue to overpay for under-developed software.

Frustration Claims Victory

Sometimes I wish I would have never changed my PC being used for my ham radio station. Since unplugging my old PC nothing has worked. Nothing! In the past two months I have made a total of 2 QSOs because of these ongoing issues. Thankfully this is the “off season” for contests, but as we head into August, the contests are coming, starting this weekend with the NAQP – CW.

I am keeping my fingers crossed I will figure shit out by tonight so I can participate to some degree on Saturday. I don’t feel very confident about it, but there is still a glimmer of hope alive. With this “down time” I have relocated the shack to a corner of the garage (images coming soon). I had electricians wire in a few new outlets, a light and a switch to control the light, all on their own breakers. I also hung faux wood paneling on the wall and raised the floor with some 2x4s and plywood. All in all it turned out well. I still have some work to do, but right now my main priority is to get the station working.

I am using a Yaesu FT-1000MP, Rigblaster Pro (also tried the SignaLink USB) and an Alpha 76PA. After spending about 3 hours trying to get the rig to work correctly with the Rigblaster Pro, I gave up. Even with horrible conditions, I was able to received PSK31 on 14.070. I also seemed to send fine, although my CQ call was never answered. So there is some question that I was not transmitting, yet all the indicators told me otherwise.

I have yet to be successful configuring RTTY and CW. Right now, my priority is CW in order to participate in the NAQP. I was able to get the rig to transmit, but no power was included. Why? I dunno. I continue to have COM port issues. The new PC has a single COM port, but the Rigblaster can be configured with a serial to USB cable, which I was using and could see in the device manager. I also picked up a PCI board that has two serial ports. Overkill I am sure, since I don’t really need it, but there should be no reason in the world this exact setup worked on my old PC and does not configure on the new PC.

Worse comes to worse I am going to try to old PC again. I brought it downstairs “to the shack” but did not have time to connect it up. As long as I can get the CW function working this weekend for the contest I will be happy. I am still working on my ARRL Triple Play Award and only need 14 QSOs using CW to help me. Past history is not on my side, as I could not get the old PC working once I disconnected all the cables. Hopefully my luck changes today.

I also started working on the ground system. The electricians drove an 8′ half inch copper rod in the ground just opposite the radio. I play on getting three more installed, two at the base of the antenna, based on K9STH’s grounding primer (found on QRZ.com). I will then hopefully tie in all the ground rods, as well as the copper grounding strip at my desk.

WTF? Part Deux

*sigh* Well, here I am again, it is the weekend and while I don’t really have “free time” on my hands, as I look to me left and see “Zoom” playing in one of his toys, satisfied watching daddy at the same time, I felt I had to drop in and update just “WTF” has been going on.

The job. Well, I can tell you I still love the company! The people, the pay, the position, although I don’t get to play “choo choo” until Late November, 2007, nonetheless its great so far. Remember one thing, if you are every talking about your “updated” resume, I suggest you don’t use the word, “embellish” when describing it. Even though the word means, “to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details” which is what a professional resume service does. Enough on that topic.

I had a first I was hoping I wouldn’t, but I was not alone in accomplishing (or not accomplishing it). I did not pass, what they call a ‘skill test’. Personally, I think I got screwed by the instructors, as they told me after the fact, “Oh we were discussing your test and felt you did enough to pass. BUT, the one step you left out is being removed in the process “THE NEXT CLASS” and we did not feel we could give you the benefit of the doubt.” Again, WTF? Why tell me this? Let alone in the presence of all my classmates, thought that was sort of a shitty move on their part.

So, this means I have two tests, a written on Monday, which is scheduled and a re-test for the skills check, all because I did not press and hold a friggin button for 10-30 seconds. I knew I was forgetting something in the process too, and I made it clear, TWICE! And the instructor proceeded to say, “Oh don’t worry about, continue on…” But, in the end it comes back to nip me in the ass.

I finally got the machine up and running and let me say, 30+ days of troubleshooting could have been resolved by taking Spellbinder’s advice and NOT install RAID 0 for the 3-300GB hard drives I had. The performance is still there, using MS Flight Simulator X as a benchmark, if you consider a solid 15 FPS great performance. And believe or not, 15-20FPS is solid performance, of course it does not come without a price tag…LOL.

I tried running Nvidia’s Dualview last night in order to take advantage of the two DVI outputs. The problem was the programmed assigned one card to each monitor, which made me say, “WTF?” So while flying on dual monitors in FSX was cool, I decided the degraded visuals was not worth the larger screen size, atleast at this point in time. FSX looks outstanding with the visuals set at high right now. The flying is smooth and aircraft movements are quality realistic (from my 16 years of flying).

So its the end of the year and I will look back in a week or so and comment on where the year went and how I and my family fared. Personally, I think I achieved great things, looking back on my list of what I wanted to accomplish, mainly a new job. Thankfully I am happy that opportunity came around.

For those Urban Terrorists coming to ‘the floor’ for further insight on the mod being released. I don’t have any super secret news to pass on. I have been testing the new files for the past few nights and personally, I think it is the best version we have ever released. It is taking longer than normal, partly due to the fact that we have been working on other programs to help create the environment you play in. For example, you might have seen the ASE & lavatubes post on www.urbanterror.net. That was something that 27 worked on for a bit in order to improve the visuals and lighting in game. Rest assured, the community will rejoice at the release.

And to all my fantasy football brothers I play with. The view at the top is great. Catch me if you can! I am riding LT like there is no tomorrow. Giddy up!

WTF? Where’s Oswald?

No, we are not trying to play Where’s Waldo with Oswald. Fact is, I’ve had very little “free” time when I get home from work..well, training. I can’t call it work, because its not work at all. As I mentioned awhile back, I have 52 weeks of training, give or take. The first 16 weeks is learning how to operate a train. My study habits are not great, but I think I am much better than many of the “slackers” in my class. Sad too, because these were the BEST candidates they had. In fact, I am not even training to be a train operator, but I need to go through this training.

We started with 13 people in the class, including myself and two other guys who are like me, going through the training as part of our overall training program. Since Monday we have had 4 people fail out of training and one quit. It’s amazing, this is not rocket science! Not even close, but it does take some dedication and effort on the part of the trainee. I won’t continue to dwell on the “why” part of failure.

Time, what little I have is not spent anywhere near my computer. I take that back, I am STILL trying to build my new game machine and come to find out the OCZ memory I have does not like my MSI mainboard. Needless to say it only took me 33 days to figure this out and now I cannot return the memory to Newegg.com. So I am hoping a BIOS update will resolve the issue, since I do not want to spend any more money on a mainboard or memory. If you want to help me resolve this, let me know and I will get you specifics on the parts.

We did celebrate our son, Zachary aka Zoom, birthday last Thursday, November 30 and again on Saturday with friends. He had a great time, didn’t cry once, even when we sang happy birthday to him. He is spoiled, so many toys to play with now. I do not know where we are going to put them all! He is also trying to walk, as he just learned to pull himself up to a standing position.

With the good, comes the bad, he also took his first header off the changing table and hurt himself, but nothing that will cause any permanent damage. Although he now cries when I put him on the table for a changing. And, no for inquiring minds it was not on my shift. My wife was devastated and felt terrible, yet she is still a great mom. Spills will happen and this will not be his last, I am sure of that.

Anyway, I am off to study my signs and signals for our quiz in the morning. I will pass it, guaranteed! Loving life and not having to worry about airplanes or weather…sign. Ain’t life grand?

Point Blank Review: MS Flight Simulator X

I know many gamers, unlike myself who could not sit in front of a flight sim for hours upon hours, especially if you consider 5 hours flying over endless ocean could be pretty damn boring. As I have done the past few years, I picked up the newest offering from Microsoft, Flight Simulator X. I recall being impressed with the Century of Flight (FS9) back in 2004 when I demoed it at E3. But this new flight sim is what FS9 was and more!

As I sit here now, I am in awe at what resources are available in support of this program. I guess I shouldn’t be considering some of the gaming communities I have been involved in. I mean who every thought that e-sports and the broadcasting and viewing of online gaming would take off like it did?

Now, I knew you could replace scenery and add aircraft and if you were so inclined, you could join a virtual airline online. But after reading and reading at FlightSim.com, which is a plethora of flight sim related information. This community is huge and the support is unbelievable! Not only can you fly, you can act as an air traffic controller with VATSIM.net, Virtual Air Traffic Flight Simulation Network, where you act as the controller, controlling flight simmers in the virtual world. Add to this is the fact that you can download navigation charts from Navigraph or the FAA.

If this isn’t enough for a new simmer or even a veteran flyer this next product comes from Air Nav Systems called FS Live Traffic and it tracks all air traffic in the US! This can be linked to your flight sim. Amazing!

Don’t forget that before you buy all these “add-on” products you need to upgrade that old joystick. That is where Saitek comes in with their award winning x52 flight Control System. And since it’s no fun to use the “twisty” axis on your joystick, why not add the Pro Flight Rudder Pedals as well.

Oh and if THAT is not enough…how about the Matrox Triple Head 2Go that allows you to hook three monitors together to take full advantage of the 3840×1024 resolution! Holy airports! Now that is how a computer display should be! Not sure what I would do with all that!

Of course Flight Sim X is a resource hog. My system is not new, I’m running a P4, 2GHz with 2GB DDR RAM and GF 6800GT video card, but I am not able to run everything on high settings as the FPS would drop into the single digits. So this requires the initial upgrade, a new computer and that fancy GF 7950 GX2 for starters, building a new, faster system around it with 4GB of DDR2 RAM and a 3.4GHz or higher processor.

All this for a $69.99 flight sim. Priceless!