Posted by Deliverator on 4th May 2006
Well, I have virtually run out of Lucasarts Scumm games to play using ScummVM. I came to wondering whether there was any equivalent project for Sierra’s classic adventure games. Unfortunately, unlike Lucasarts, with their unified “Scumm” scripting system, Sierra games were implemented with a large number of tools. The chief systems used in Sierra adventure games were AGI for their earlier works and various versions of SCI for their later adventure games. While there are some interpreters to allow these games to be played on modern platforms, such as NAGI and FreeSCI, neither is nearly as mature and polished as ScummVM. So, what can one do, short of busting a 486 out of the closet? One solution that I have found is DOSBox. DOSBox is an opensource project that implements a large subset of the operating system and hardward environment of an old DOS computer, including all the oddball sound and video cards in use 15-25 years ago (Wow, has it really been that long?). DOSBox in itself is a bit of a pain to use, but couple it with a nice graphical front end like D-Fend and running old Dos games becomes a breeze. One of the nice things about D-Fend is allows one to create environment profiles for each game and create a direct icon to launch each game. So, if a game runs better with a Sound Blaster 16 or a EGA graphics card, then give it a EGA graphics card. So far, I haven’t found an old Dos game which DOSBox will not play. So far I have tested:
-Goblins 1 and 2
-Hero’s Quest (later renamed Quest for Glory)
-King’s Quest I, II and III
-Wing Commander: Privateer
-Quest for Glory II
-Quest for Glory I – VGA
-Space Quest I – EGA and VGA
-Space Quest II
Posted in Emulation and Virtualization, Gaming, General, Operating Systems | 6 Comments »
Posted by Deliverator on 8th April 2006
I have been rather displeased with the recent crop of PC video games, in particular the whole FPS genre, which increasingly dominates store shelves. I recently played F.E.A.R. to completion and at the end was left with the fealing that it should have been something more. The one thing that fear really had going for it was atmosphere. The sound effects were terrific and the designers made much better use of shadows/lighting to set the mood (unlike Doom 3). On the whole, though, many fundamental aspects of the game felt wanting. In particular, the few “puzzles” in the game were far too easy to solve and the almost invariant way in which voicemails and laptops were used to move the story along, really made me feel like the game was just a series of levels that had been stitched together, with a veneer of a story pasted along the top at the last minute. Half Life 2 (and HL 1, for that matter) did a far better job of revealing aspects of the plot through more subtle hints placed in the environment. In Half Life 2, it was easy to believe in the world that the game designers had so meticulously crafted. Fear, to me, just felt like a pointless exercise in FPS mechanics. Frankly, the whole FPS genre has gotten rather stale, and it is a rare game like HL 2 that stands out in the faceless crowd.
So, in lieu of playing yet another hackneyed FPS, I have been playing a number of classic computer adventure games from Lucasarts and Sierra. Thanks to platform agnostic game interpreters like ScummVM, I have been able to play many of these games on my Netbook Pro. Rather than taking a trip down nostalgia lane, I decided to start playing games that I’ve heard great things about over the years, but had never played “the first time around.” I started with Sam and Max Hit the Road and followed it up a couple days later with The Secret of Monkey Island. It took me a couple of days to complete each of them, and I confess I had to use a walkthrough twice. Some of the puzzles really had me pulling my hair out (but in a good way!). The sheer goofy inventiveness of these classic games has really been a breath of fresh air for me.
Sadly, adventure games have all but disappeared from the PC marketplace. I had a memerable chance to visit with legendary game designer Roberta Williams shortly before Sierra went poof for good after a series of bad mergers and corporate malfeasance. Ken and Roberta have more or less wiped their hands of the PC gaming genre (and fell off the earth for a number of years), but some of the great adventure game designers are still plugging away and fighting the good fight. Notably, Tim Schafer, who helped create some of Lucasarts most popular games (including Monkey Island), has started his own company, Double Fine Productions, which has come out with a very highly regarded new game called Psychonauts. Psychonauts, despite all the critical acclaim, is very hard to find on store shelves. Thankfully, due to the miracle that is the interweb, you can order it online.
So, if you are as disgustipated as I with the state of modern gaming, try downloading a classic adventure game from Sierra or Lucasarts. Your sense of whimsy will thank you.
Posted in Gaming, General | 1 Comment »
Posted by Deliverator on 7th September 2005
Hacknight this evening was quite interesting with the main topic of conversation being VOIP over Wifi. Rob is back from his extended roadtrip across the south-west US. He got as far as Texas and headed back around the time that Katrina hit, staying just ahead of the more sensible (and car equiped) evacuees from Mississippi and Louisiana. We discussed the latest goings on in Second Life – my arcade, limitations of SL’s scripting language and an interesting project called “Deep Teal” which overcomes many of these limitations by allowing SL objects to communicate with programs outside of SL for their data processing needs. We also discussed a persistent problem that myself and others have encountered with Rob’s virtual fish, namely that they keep going AWOL. I have tried “catching them in the act” by purposefully introducing conditions thought responsible for their unapproved leave taking, but have been unsuccessful. Sometimes the problem does not manifest itself for weeks at a time, but inevitably I will log in to an empty (or partially empty) Koi pond. One possible solution to this problem is to have an invisible “fish rezzer” object that sits at the bottom of the pond/tank and scans the area for the presence of the fish. If the fish goes awol, it rezzes a fresh copy and feeds it a list of waypoints. Currently, one must lay out a series of waypoints, rez a fish from inventory, move all the waypoints slightly so that the fish “sees” them, wait until the fish has discovered all the waypoints and then delete the waypoints. This can be a time consuming process, especially if it has to be repeated every time a fish goes AWOL. Rob’s fish are amongst the best I have seen in SL. If he can only iron out a few kinks I think his fish could be quite popular, perhaps enough to substantially supplement his income from Metrix. There are a number of people I have learned of (and a few whom I have encountered) who earn their RL (Real Life) living through the sale of SL objects.
In real life fish news, my gene spliced fish seemed to be acting a little stressed in their six gallon world. I have been contemplating a bigger tank for a while now, and my not wanting to kill these (expensive) wonders of modern science made the decision much easier to justify to my wallet. After hacknight, I went out and purchased a 20 gallon tank. It is shaped like an extruded hexagon and is far more vertically oriented than any other tank I have owned. The “column of water” look and distortion from the angled glass panels takes a little getting used to, but all in all, I like the effect. The Ikea quality table that I was using for the six gallon tank could never have bourn the weight of ~160 pounds of water, so I purchased a matching stand for the tank as well. Oh, and of course a tank needs a hood, so I added that to the pile as well. I also purchased a couple ghost shrimp to help clean the gravel in my tank, a niche left vacant with the death of my Albino Cory. Fish, like many a hobby, can get expensive, fast. Thankfully, a longer than anticipated consulting job today resulted in today being “a wash” – haha :)
Posted in Gaming, General, SWN Hacknight | No Comments »
Posted by Deliverator on 18th June 2005
- Fixed leak in pressure housing and tested to 2.5 feet of depth! The way the housing is designed though, it actually tightens up and becomes less likely to leak as the pressure increases.
- I have had more than my quota of pesky printers and fax machines for a lifetime, this week. If I never see another, it will be much too soon. That said, network enabled all-in-ones rock!
- Scott and Ryan are somewhere in the midwest right now on a greyhound bus, having embarked on their epic biking trip. I expect to hear from them in a few days once they reach Maine. They are not going to be blogging during the trip, or at least not much, so I am going to try to keep people posted on their progress – here.
- Saw Batman Beyond today and actually liked it, which is a first for any Batman film since Tim Burton’s. The essential story was told in a very different way than any of the other films, which is one of the reasons I like it. It was a real reinvention of what a Batman film should be.
- Been playing around some more in Second Life. There is more depth and potential in it than I gave it credit for, at first.
Posted in Gaming, General, Movies, Rants and Raves, ROV Project | 2 Comments »
Posted by Deliverator on 15th June 2005
Went to hacknight this evening and was pleased to see that Casey Halverson was present for the first time in quite a while. Casey is the man behind such cool projects as SnowNet and TrainNode and is always good for an interesting conversation. Casey showed off the hardware for TrainNode and its captive portal system. The captive portal has a really neat feature that displays the im usernames of all users logged onto the system. This is a great way to help users of a system connect up and start interacting. I wish internet cafes would have such systems. As usual, conversation at hacknight covered a wide range of topics and was highly animated.The highlights of the evening for me were: Casey’s OEM cellphone-on-a-chip, a system for storing data using pings and the two Matt W’s demos of Second Life. I have been hearing a lot of good things about Second Life of late, so decided to plunk down $10 to check it out.
The concept of Second Life is probably a bit baffling to most people. It is at its essence a virtual space and a set of tools for interacting with that space, building objects, environments, etc. In short, it is an online virtual world. Massively multiplayer online role playing games have been around for quite a while, so the idea of virtual worlds is nothing new. The thing that confuses most people about Second Life is that it is not a game (well, unless you choose to make one…), but rather an environment created entirely by the users of the system. You can create anything your imagination (and increasingly robust tools) are capable of envisioning. I haven’t tried my hand at creating object yets, but do intend to checkout the modeling and object scripting system in the near future. I spent a few hours checking out various publicly accessible environments and found that they ran the gamut from mundane and mediocre to fanciful masterpieces of both art and code. I particularly liked a soaring aerodrome filled with airplanes, hovercars, balloons and every flying vehicle imagineable. I tried my hand at piloting a publicly accessible hover-taxi and went skydiving. I have created a small gallery of pictures from my adventures in Second Life.
Posted in Gaming, General, SWN Hacknight, Wireless | 1 Comment »
Posted by Deliverator on 17th March 2005
So, I have been hearing that Rome: Total War is a pretty sweet game for a while now. I was down at Fry’s the other day checking out wireless security cameras for possible mounting on Tyr, our robot, while down at the National competition in Atlanta. I found a pretty nice system that should fit our needs for $99, a price that shouldn’t break our already miniscule bank. Anyways, Fry’s had Rome: Total War for $35, the cheapest price I have seen in a brick and mortar store, so I picked up a copy. I played it for 3-5 hours yesterday. Quite simply, it rocks! It does a pretty good job of blending turn based strategy with realtime execution of battles. You can choose to play the game strictly as a turn based strategy game (in some ways, strikingly similar to Civilization, but with very modern 3d graphics), or fight each battle for absolute control of your troops (which can often result in fewer losses than just having the computer resolve battles). I can tell that there is a lot of subtlety to both aspects of the game that I am not yet grasping or utilizing properly yet. I know already that this is one that I am going to be playing for a long time.
Posted in Gaming, General | No Comments »
Posted by site admin on 4th December 2004
I have been having a lot of fun the last few days playing Half Life 2: Team Deathmatch. There are only a few official levels out, but they are well designed and a lot of fun to play. Deathmatch was just added, and it is still a bit rought around the edges, but I honestly haven’t had this much fun playing deathmatch in YEARS. The action is absolutely frenetic. By the time I quit tonight, I had honestly soaked my shirt with sweat! It just does not get any better. HL: Multiplayer is the icing on the cake of what is certainly the best FPS since the first Half Life. I can’t wait to see what Valve has on tap next!
Posted in Gaming | 3 Comments »