Monthly Archives: March 2005

Computer Trouble

After rebooting twice for seemingly no reason yesterday evening, the PSU of my PC seems to have given up. That put me in some sort of dilemma as I had planned on buying a new machine some-when in the April timeframe, and spending €150 for a new PSU (as I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the really cheap PSUs and a Dual Athlon (2×1800+) with 4 hard-disks, huge RAID5 controller, and a Radeon 9800xt simply needs a lot of juice) just did not appeal for a single month.
I was leaning towards getting either a nForce4 Shuttle w/ an Athlon64 or a Mac mini. These machines couldn’t be more disparate, could they? I realised that I simply don’t need that kind of computing power at home (not to speak of the energy bills) and the Shuttle is not available yet.
I have thus ordered the faster Mac mini, an external drive (which I will now have to back-up separately as I don’t have a RAID anymore) and some more RAM. I still need to get a working PSU for getting all the data off the disks, though.

European Software Patents

Major :(. It looks like the new European Software Patent Directive is here to stay, in spite of plenty of opposition.
I had a feeling something like this may happen (stretch the vocal opposition until demonstrants are tired / confused, meanwhile lobbying enough support for the bill to pass). Getting an absolute 2/3 majority to do anything about it at the 2nd reading in parliament is impossible, so welcome to the brave new world…
Fucking idiots!

Addendum: It may not be as bad as I made it out to be — yet.


Darwinia is the new game from the folks at Introversion (the last of the bedroom programmers as they like to call themselves). They are a small independent game company and the only reason I found out about them, was that I liked their previous game Uplink, which is some sort of hacking simulator. Enough with the href-pimping, on with the impressions.
The box of Darwinia is green, and when I say “green” I mean “GREEEEEEEEEEEEN”. It practically yells at you. That way it’ll be relatively easy to find it should a retailer stock it (which may or may not habe been their intention ;)). The game itself seems to be some sort of action RTS, a bit reminiscent of “Cannon Fodder” or maybe even “Syndicate”. Graphics-wise, the Introversion-folks have made the best of their lack of graphic artists and implemented a retro-futuristic, texture-less “dreamscape” which fits the game well. The interface takes a no-clutter approach (using a separate gestures screen) and some clever computer-metaphors (ALT-Tabbing your units). I am not sure about their decision to compress chip-tune music as ogg, I would have much preferred an actual SID emulator (or code something akin to kb[fr]‘s software synths) — if only for the additional geek factor.
It is a labour of love, and it shows. Everytime I’ve started the game, I was greeted by a different intro, some reminiscent of 4kb-intros from the scene, others being digs at long out-of-business software companies (“Sensible”), and others still “emulating” a C64 loading process complete with flickering. And all have evoked feeling… Recommended (even for people like me that hate “proper” RTS games)!

Dead or Alive Ultimate

I’ve been quietly playing “Dead or Alive Ultimate” for the past two weeks. I am new to the DOA-series, the last (and first) 3D-fighter I played was Soul Calibur 2.
There are (essentially) only three buttons: kick, punch and “hold / counter”. All the other buttons are shortcuts to combinations thereof. Guarding seems to be done by the classic SF2 method of holding the direction away from the opponent. The graphics are quite nice but I still don’t quite understand why for example the arms are separate objects and not properly skinned onto the main body. This is usually well-hidden by clothing, but still a bit annoying. Most likely this is not a technical limitation but due to the difficulty in setting up the bones for such an object. Also, there is quite often some slow-down (which may be due to me playing wide-screen mode (PAL) where more scenery is visible) — usually once for 1-2secs every 3-5 rounds — something like this has no place in a fighting game with carefully controlled environments and should definitely have been eliminated before release.
I have finally unlocked all the costumes yesterday (via the survival / collection method). The only difficult bit was getting the medal for winning 50 fights in a row. In the end, I managed to get 59 wins in the Tag-mode with Zack and Jann Lee with the health bar set to “Largest”, mostly playing Zack and using Jann as my backup for when I was in a tight spot. 😀
I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of countering, but at least I can block now. And it has made me want to play Soul Calibur 2 again, which is not online but I have not taken advantage of that in DOAU yet (except for uploading my scores for survival where I am somwhere in the 1750s). It’s not the best fighter ever (and no-one except Itagaki claimed it to be), but then it’s not crap either. Looks like the media-average of (currently) 83% is spot-on. 😉

Beyond the Clouds

“Beyond the Clouds” is Shinkai Makoto’s new work, after Voices of a Distant Star. In contrast to “Voices” (which was about 25 min), “Clouds” is a full featured movie running for about 90 minutes. And as expected when one works with such a small staff, the project took a lot longer than originally estimated, but then it was only supposed to run for about 50mins.
In any case, the artwork is still highly recognisable (e.g. the “blush lines” across the characters’ cheeks) with its lush colours and an excellent use of contrast / bloom. The backgrounds are jawdropping and the CG is integrated much better than before (i.e. you hardly notice it). Similarly, the story also deals with the same (romanticised and melodramatic) themes as its predecessor — seperation and love, but it also adds a third person to the mix.
I quite like the idea of the story; it has some interesting “hard” science fiction ideas in it as well as reflecting more or less current political events — all set in a parallel universe that diverges from our own somewhere in the 1970s.
All in all, it has obvious similarities to “Hoshi no Koe”, but that cannot be a bad thing. It is very easy to forget that this project was undertaken by comparatively few people led by Makoto, which makes it all the more impressive. Very much looking forward to the R1 DVD.
As an aside, how does one play the violin with the bowstring upside down? 😉