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January-March 2003 (oldest-to-newest)

2 Jan 2003 - It's 2003 already?

Wasn't it the year 2000 like just last week? Holy cow how time flies. And I'm not even having that much fun.

Nothing to report on Decaying Orbit. I'll see about getting the speed up once I fix a few of the remaining problems.

9 Jan 2003 - I'm not dead

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 one.

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.

14 Jan 2003 - It's all about Eternal Darkness

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 selling my 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 number of auctions as the first time.

Game Progress I finally corrected the analog up/down controls on the game since they were reversed in the version I released before Christmas.

22 Jan 2003 - Breaks my heart

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 here

27 Jan 2003 - It's a me, Mario!

Having finally finished Eternal Darkness this weekend I started Super Mario Sunshine. I decided I needed something a bit lighter after the intense (but incredible) ED.

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.

29 Jan 2003 - What the...

While viewing my Extreme Tracker stats one of the last twenty referrers was from the site www.uncleclive.co.uk. 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 InsertCredit.com. They did a little blurb on December 26th about NUON that included Decaying Orbit.

3 Feb 2003 - &%@#! camera

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. Oh well.

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 lemmings.

5 Feb 2003 - My old cube

I was digging around for some of my old VML photos. I'll be putting them up over time. To start out, here are some pics of my cube. These were taken in 1999. At one point we were running out of cube space so a bunch of them, including mine, had to be compressed. This is the pre-compressed version. This is the nicest cube I've had. It was pretty big and next to a window (behind me in the photos). Ah the good old days.

6 Feb 2003 - Celebrity Mole? Oooookay

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 it.

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 Erik.

Game Progress 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 correctly.

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.

13 Feb 2003 - Point, me

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?

24 Feb 2003 - Look at this bunker!

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!

3 Mar 2003 - New computer

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 nothing worked.

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 Yak's overflowing-with-praise review.

5 Mar 2003 - Finally...

How long has that Staff 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.

10 Mar 2003 - Shhhhhh

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 and 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 good.

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

17 Mar 2003 - GamePark Goodness

Got the GP32 in the mail and shortly thereafter got the app to play homebrews (after borrowing a friend's SM card).


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.

24 Mar 2003 - A little GP before bedtime

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? Good question.

27 Mar 2003 - We cannot let them near the Glittering Caves

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. Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!

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 this one.

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.

28 Mar 2003 - Woot!

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.

31 Mar 2003 - Bah

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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