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January-March 2003 (oldest-to-newest)
Wasn't it the year 2000 like just last week? Holy cow
how time flies. And I'm not even having that much
Nothing to report on Decaying Orbit. I'll see about
getting the speed up once I fix a few of the remaining
Things are starting to calm down a bit. We're having
our kitchen remodeled later this month so we've been busy
getting that scheduled. We just ordered the cabinets this
week and I think we've settled on a counter top style. I
admit I'm rather excited to get it all done as the new
kitchen will be a bazillion times better than our current
We played golf last Sunday. I'm slowly improving. Too
slowly for my tastes. We've taken classes on two occasions
and both times I picked up some great tips. Each time I was
expecting to see a dramatic difference in my game. Alas it
looks like I'll be taking the slow road to breaking 100.
I admit, the game has sucked me in. The presentation
and production value on Eternal
Darkness are just phenomenal. I absolutely love
playing it at night with the sound cranked. The sound
effects are fantastic - especially the casting of spells.
I've also been setting up a bunch of eBay auctions.
Remember when I was
comics? I'm going back and relisting all the ones that
didn't go the first time around. I'm splitting a bunch of
the larger lots up so I actually have nearly the same
as the first time.
I finally corrected the analog up/down controls on the game
since they were reversed in the version I released before
Evidentally Sega had a prototype of
Streets of Rage 4 for Dreamcast.
But, in their infinite wisdom, killed it. Bastards!
Read about it and see some early prototype movies
Having finally finished Eternal
Darkness this weekend I started
Super Mario Sunshine. I decided
I needed something a bit lighter after the intense (but
I'm sitting somewhere around 15 shines and loving it.
The graphics won't blow you away - at least they didn't
until I got to the big reflective dishes in that beach
level. The game is just fun!
With Eternal Darkness out of
the way maybe I'll get off my sorry ass and work on Decaying
Orbit :). Thank goodness I don't have
Splinter Cell yet or I'd likely be
sucked into another game.
While viewing my Extreme Tracker stats one of the last
twenty referrers was from the site
I went there and couldn't find anything about DSI. Anyone
know what's going on? It seems to be a game humor site so
I'm not quite sure why I'd be linked from there.
In related news, the Extreme Tracker also led me to
They did a little blurb on December 26th about NUON that
included Decaying Orbit.
Normally I probably wouldn't think the camera in
Super Mario Sunshine is so bad.
However, considering the game I played right before this
was Eternal Darkness it looks
that much worse. In ED the camera was excellent. Only a
couple times did I encounter a situation where a bad camera
angle caused an enemy to hurt more than it should have.
The one in SMS seems to be literally trying to block
my view. It gets stuck behind things. It insists on
maintaining a behind-the-back angle in cases where a side
view would be better. It rotates for no particular reason.
I'm now sitting just over fifty Shines. It's tempting
to start playing Metroid in parallel, but I know I'll get
sucked in and not get back to SMS until I've forgotten where
I was (ala Shenmue).
Our remodel starts today so we are sans kitchen for the
next 4-6 weeks. It'll be like bachelor days - eating frozen
dinners and going out to restaurants.
One thing I'm looking forward to with the remodel is the
ability to seal all the little cracks in the kitchen walls.
You see we have a constant battle with the local ant
population. Every winter when the rain starts they get
the bright idea to come inside. I don't even want to think
about how many are inside our walls at this very moment.
I should be flattered that they think our food is so
scrumptious, but really it's just gross. One time a couple
months ago we returned home to find them swarming around the
outside of our fridge. Opening the freezer revealed a huge
pile of hundreds of dead ants. They had evidentally sniffed
something good and found a way in, but had died soon after
stepping into the sub-zero temperatures. And since none of
them came out to tell the others it was a bad idea, they
just kept following the trail inside like a bunch of
I realize there has been a new season of the Mole on
lately. While I have been watching it, I'm not in
to it as much as the others. For one, it only had 7
participants instead of 13 which doesn't give much time
to get to know the people. Also, they're all "celebrities"
rather than real people. Pretty weak. Much of the
intensity is lost when you're watching Stephen Baldwin be a
dick on camera. Should I really care which of these TV
stars end up winning the pot? However, if it leads to
another (regular) season of the show then I'm all for
My wife and I are divided this time as to the Mole's
identity. I think it's Frederique and she thinks it's
Kathy. Given our track record it'll probably end up being
Yes, that's right. I did some work on
Decaying Orbit last night. Much
like leaving anything for too long I'm still remembering
how things work and what I was doing. I did fix a problem
with some messages not being displayed. Now that they are
displayed I must figure out why they're not displayed
I'm getting really anxious to start the next project.
I'd be tempted to abandon DO, but with so many people
waiting for it (yeah right, so many) I'll do my best
to get it up and running properly.
So I guessed right this time. Whoopee.
I finished Mario Sunshine last
night. Boy that is one incredible let down of an ending.
And talk about a joke of a boss battle! Sheesh, they better
try harder next time.
The wife and I are going to Europe next week so postings
will be sparse, if any. That is assuming the world doesn't
fall apart in the next couple days. Honestly duct tape?
A good time was had by all (okay, both). We were in
London for a few days and saw some museums and shows. Then
off to Wales for a quick stay. After that we went to
Edinburgh and played golf at St Andrews, on my birthday no
less! (The big three-oh. As in "oh crap".)
Check out the sand traps we had to deal with during our
golfing. You can see the pin just above and to the right
of my head. Those are sheer vertical walls my friend. When
we got in one of these suckers we were basically screwed.
Thankfully neither of us play for a handicap yet so there's
no harm in just chucking the ball out of the trap.
Highlights were: visiting the
Doctor Who museum in Wales
(yes we're geeks), playing at the birthplace of golf when
the weather was absolutely perfect, meeting up with my
friend from the Yaroze days Bob who lives in Scotland, and
watching a play starring Gandalf himself, Ian McKellen.
The latter was more a novelty than anything as the
play itself was very odd.
And I came home to some presents in the mailbox. Got
the Two Towers game for Gamecube and a giftcard from my
sis. Woo! I will defy my age as long as I can!
I received the parts for a new computer last week and
spent the weekend assembling it. It actually replaced my
wife's old system, but I will definitely use it to try some
games that have been sitting on my shelf.
The installation went nearly flawless. It would have
been a lot easier if the wireless card had behaved. But it
seems the D-Link card we use doesn't like Win2K. Strange
since my PC uses Win2K and the same card just fine.
However, on the new machine, even a bare install of Win2K
wouldn't accept the card. After installing the drivers it
would slow down so much as to be basically hung. The CPU
usage would be pegged at 100% and I didn't know what was
causing it. I tried downloading the latest drivers for the
card and also installing Service Pack 3 for Win2K, but
So we went back to Win98, which is what she was using
before. It's probably better for me too since some games
don't like Win2K.
Her new system is very bottom of the barrel, but still
oodles better than what she had.
Old CPU: Pentium 2 300MHz
New CPU: Athlon 1700+ (1.4GHz)
Old graphics card: S3 Trident something or other (we're talking old)
New graphics: nForce2 integraged video GF4 MX
Old sound card: SoundBlaster AWE 64 (admittedly not bad)
New sound: nForce2 integrated audio
The only card plugged in now is the wireless adapter.
Given time I'm sure they'll integrate that on the
motherboard too. Total cost was about $350 and that's
only because I got her a new DVD/CD-ROM drive. I could
have salvaged the old one, but it was the drive that
originally came with my Gateway machine 7 years ago.
As for my own PC, it's still a P3 667MHz. I'm waiting
for Doom3 to decide how to proceed. In some ways it's
frustrating having the inside scoop on new NVIDIA products
since I know what's coming next. At some point I'll just
dive in with whatever's good at the moment.
Oh, and I just ordered a GamePark 32 based on
How long has that
link lead nowhere? I don't even want to know. Well, I
just ported the old page over so at least there's
something there now.
The new computer was a lot louder than the old one so I
made it a quest to quiet that sucker down. A couple good
sites I happened upon are
End PC Noise
Quiet PC. They sell all sorts of stuff to get your system to
shut the heck up.
So I got a Nexus CPU fan to replace the awful stock one. Also, I yanked
the fan off the northbridge and put on a Zalman heatsink. Finally, I didn't mention this before but
when I ordered the system I also got an Enermax quiet power supply.
With all these bad boys in place you can barely hear
the PC when it's on. It's strange not being able to tell
if your PC is on just by walking in the room. Now I can't
wait until I replace my own system so I can do the same
thing. When my PC is on it totally drowns hers out. One
annoying thing is that her new DVD/CD-ROM drive is way
louder than the old one. A side effect of spinning the
disc so fast I guess. I'd gladly trade some of that speed
for silence - oh well.
I was a bit worried about replacing the fansink on the
Crush northbridge with a plain heatsink. To test it I left
Quake 3 running in demo mode for several hours while we
were gone (which is one of the things we do at work to guage
stability). It worked just fine so I think everything's
One funny point, upon removing the old CPU fansink I
realized that I had put it in backwards such that it was
only getting a minimal amount of thermal grease. Oops.
I made sure to attach the new one correctly :P
Got the GP32 in the mail and shortly thereafter got the
app to play homebrews (after borrowing a friend's SM
Playing Trolls and Tribulations on the little thing is
very cool. The emulator isn't perfect so lots of games
don't work yet, but enough do that it's a blast. I really
hope someone ports the full MAME over so I can do the Time
Pilot '84 thing.
The controller takes some getting used to. It's more
like a stick rather than a pad, which I would have
preferred. It's a bit sensitive and seems fragile. More
intense games are difficult/impossible to play. Forget the
Summer/Winter Games series - you'd be begging to have the
stick snap off. Fast paced shooters might be difficult
too. I tried playing some Grid Runner (which does work on
the emulator) and got my ass kicked. 'Course the game
seems rather hellishly difficult to begin with. It's hard
to get in the zone with such a tiny screen.
I finally received my 128MB SM card and have loaded all
pertinent C64 games on it. The Pinball Dreams demo is
pretty good too, although that song gets stuck in my
head. My current fave is Jumpman. If only the emu didn't
have that bug where the display sometimes gets offset.
While 128MB may be tons of room for emulators, it's
nothing for MP3s. I'm going to try re-encoding some albums
at a lower bit rate.
Riff has opened a new site dedicated to emulator
development. He's the guy working on the NUON emulator.
Check out EmuForge. I
might even take a crack at getting some sort of emulator
going on GP32. No one seems to be doing a Stella (Atari
2600) or Atari 8-bit emulator and those are two I must
to have on the machine.
When the hell am I going to work on Decaying Orbit again?
How many times have I heard that frickin phrase?
Damn that next-to-last level in
Two Towers is hard. I got so
close last night. We're talking five seconds from
winning. I must have played that level 30 times already.
It's been a while since I've played a level (in any game)
that was so frustrating. Maybe one of the levels in
Lost Vikings qualified. It's been
so long I can't remember.
Note to developers: Anyone can make a game that's
impossible. You overstepped the bounds of game design with
Also, if you're going to have mid-level cinematics, make
them able to be skipped. Just when I'm getting into my
orc-head-crushing zone it gets taken away because I have to
see them bring in the catapault yet again.
Finally got past that blasted level. I didn't think I
would since I've had that stupid door in better shape going
into the final battle in previous tries. (The point of the
level is to defend a door from being bashed down.) Partly,
I figured out how to use my special moves to best effect.
Mostly, I got lucky. One more level to go.
Just in time too as Zelda arrived at our doorstep
yesterday. I haven't put it in yet, but I'm sure I'll get
plenty of quality time with it while my wife is gone all
next week. I'm hoping to do a spot of programming too.
So the last level in Two Towers
is yet another protect-the-door level. I don't have the
patience to slog through it 30 times before I get lucky.
I've moved on to Zelda!
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