News Archive Q4 '00
December 21, 2000 - Pitfall woes

You may have seen this article from Retrogaming Times Issue #40. It describes how someone has finally achieved a perfect score in Pitfall for the Atari 2600. That is actually pretty impressive since touching any log or falling down a pit will reduce your score. The fact that Alan Hewston could keep up perfection for nearly 20 minutes is admirable.

The article has this little passage:

Early in this competition, I was the first to break the existing 
record by collecting all but one of the 32 treasures. Shortly 
after that, Robert Macauley and then Robert Mruczek had done 
better by collecting all 32 treasures in this game. Quite a feat, 
and the first to ever do so.

I hate to burst their little bubble, but the DragonShadow team (Dave and me) did that a loooong time ago. Naturally we have no videotape to prove it (dangblast it), but we do have the map we made detailing every screen in the game and showing what we believed to be the fastest route. If Dave manages to find it I'll have to post a scan of it. Maybe we could carbon date the page to prove we did it first :)

*SIGH* While discussing it over email, Dave put it best: "It took people 18 years to do what we did as kids?" Yeah so we're showing our nerdy side here, but dang if it's not frustrating.

December 19, 2000 - New house

After a weekend of moving we're finally in our new place. It feels great despite the mountain of boxes left to unpack.

First on the list was to set up the computer because the cable modem guy came out yesterday to hook us up. And boy did he. We're getting speeds at least twice as fast as our old DSL line, and that's during peak hours too. We're hovering around 2 to 3 Mbit/sec. In fact, for sustained downloads I was getting over 4.5 Mbit/sec. We just need to figure out a way to get the other computer set up to share the connection.

Next on the list was setting up the TV, VCR, and game systems. The new switchbox that I bought makes a world of difference. It's the Sima SVS-4. Unlike most input-selectors which force you to push buttons, this one automatically senses which input is active and switches to it. Turn on the PS2 and it switches to that input. Turn on the DC and it assumes you want to use that and switches. Turn off the DC and it goes back to the PS2. And not only does it accept S-video inputs, it will convert a composite signal to S-video. That way you can mix and match which inputs use which and only need one output to the TV. I wish it would also do component video, but oh well.

I haven't sunk my teeth into SSX for any length of time yet, but I can confirm that the music is awesome. I also received copies of Merlin Racing and Tempest 3000 for NUON. I don't have a player yet (I donated the one I had to a movie studio so they could try it out), but I should get a replacement soon. Christmas==GamingNirvana.

December 15, 2000 - Counters are back

Normally being woken up by a phone call is not the thing to put me in a good mood. However, this particular one was from Walmart to let me know that my Playstation 2 had arrived. I had been in line the day they went on sale and since they didn't have enough for everyone (surprise surprise) they put the rest of us on a list. It took them a month and a half to get to me, but I finally have one. Of course I waited in the lay-away line at Walmart for 30 minutes before someone helped me. Ah well. Now the decision is whether to keep the PS2 or sell it for a profit on eBay ;)

I finally got the hit counters working again. I see by the old log files that they were last used in April. Ah well, I'm sure I didn't miss more than a couple million hits right? The Link Exchange counter was always there, but I prefer using my own to have more control. A side benefit is getting rid of the annoying "broken image" dealies where the counters should have been. Jump to the main page to check it out.

One of my idealistic goals one day is to write my own perl scripts to do things such as message boards, polls, and whatnot. Sheeyeah, like I got time to do that.

Forgot to mention that I saw the Dungeons & Dragons movie on opening night. It was definitely not as good as it could have been. I hope Lord of the Rings can redeem the genre so that movie studios continue to make fantasy films.

December 14, 2000 - Carpet

The carpet is in and the new tile in the bathroom is almost done (it just needs to be grouted). As predicted it looks outstanding - we can't wait to move in.

I got a pleasant email from a fellow from Ireland (hey Ian!) that just discovered the Decaying Orbit website. After reading his very kind email I started revisiting all the DO stuff. I really did enjoy making the game - it was a shame to stop work on it. Maybe I'll try to do a port to NUON sometime in the future. That would be a hoot.

December 11, 2000 - Game Day

Every so often a bunch of us get together and play board games all day (and night). This Saturday was such an event and as usual it was great. I played a couple of new games (the new Settlers expansion and Tikal) which is always great fun. We stayed up until 5am playing so I was dead tired the next day when we went on a hike (a hike in December? must be California).

Painting went well. The house looks great, although now the old carpet is covered with spilled paint, chippings, and other debris. New carpet will be installed tomorrow and *that* will be awesome.

We bought a new TV for the new house. It's only 27" (our old one was 25"), but it has component and s-video inputs - aspects severely lacking in the previous set. My aim was to get a cheap set that would hold us over until we upgrade to HDTV (once it becomes a bit cheaper a few years down the road).

December 4, 2000 - Painting

The party on Saturday was fun. It was pretty low-key. We played a little DDR, a little SSX (borrowed a friend's PS2), and a lot of Assassin. The latter isn't a console game, but a verbal party game.

It works like this. Everyone sits in a circle. One person is the administrator for the game and thus does not actually participate. The admin shuffles a number of cards equal to the number of players. Two of the cards are designated "assassin" cards (you could play with more than two if you have lots of people). One card is dealt to each person and everyone looks at their card to know if they are an assassin or not (non-assassins are sometimes called "villagers"). BTW, you could use something aside from cards as long as it was easy to hide from your neighbors and you had two distinct varieties to tell apart the villagers and assassins.

Then the game begins. Each turn there is a "night" round followed by a "day" round. During the night round, the admin asks everyone to close their eyes. Then the assassins (and only the assassins) open their eyes. Somehow non-verbally (and hopefully without making any rustling noise), the assassins agree on one person to kill. They then close their eyes and the admin tells everyone to open their eyes. The selected person is announced dead and out of the game, no longer able to speak. Then the day round begins as everyone that's alive try to figure out who is an assassin. Once a consensus is reached (usually by majority vote), one person is lynched. They are dead and out of the game and are revealed to either be an assassin or a villager (note the alignment of the person killed during the night round is *not* revealed). Then a new night round begins again.

And thus it goes until either the villagers win by eliminating all of the assassins, or vice-versa. It's great fun since after a few games you build a history of who has killed whom and all the backstabbing and whatnot.

Painting of the house begins tomorrow. We're really looking forward to it as we think it will make a world of difference. Carpeting is next week. Then we move in on the 16th.

November 28, 2000 - Tempest 3000

We finally have some games available for purchase for NUON (or at least they will be in the next couple days). Tempest 3000 is by far the spiffiest of the bunch. And by bunch I mean two since there's only one other game out, Merlin Racing. I haven't tried that since E3 last year. It looked to be a fun, but standard kart racing game. Still, I can't wait for Tempest. The music kicks plenty of behind.

The house is officially ours this Friday when the previous owner moves out. We're having a house warming party on Saturday before the painting and carpeting gets done. That way we needn't worry about spills. It will be plenty empty without any furniture. We're bringing over a TV, the Dreamcast, and Dance Dance Revolution for a little party fun. Should be cool since I haven't played the game in weeks.

November 22, 2000 - Turkey day

I'm heading off to Davis, California to celebrate Thanksgiving with the in-laws. I got pretty lucky since I like my wife's family a lot. We're playing golf tomorrow (Thursday). I'm looking forward to that since I haven't played with them in a while and hope I can show some improvement compared to last time.

Zelda has taken up most of my time lately. It's simply a great game. I'm also almost done with Jet Grind Radio - it's a pretty short game. I have Shenmue waiting in the wings, but resolved not to start it until after Zelda is finished.

Check out the new Dungeons and Dragons movie trailer. It was just posted today and really runs circles around the too-much-like-Phantom-Menace first trailer.

November 13, 2000 - This time I have an excuse

I came down with something the weekend before this one and it didn't let up until this morning. It wasn't so bad at first - just a minor sore throat. Then it turned into some minor sniffles. Finally I was just dead tired for 2 days. Luckily those two days were Saturday and Sunday so I could still be productive at work. Still, it didn't put me in the mood to program. I actually *did* fiddle around for about an hour, but the code was broken and I'll be darned if I had the energy to track down the bug.

The wife and I have been busy getting contractors lined up to fix up the new house before we move in. We're replacing the interior doors, having it painted, and putting in new carpet. It's easy to justify these expenses when you just spent over 100 times that amount on the house itself. We're targeting a move-in date of December 16th. Let's hope everything goes smoothly.

November 7, 2000 - I give up

Another weekend down the tubes running errands. I seriously hope that once we get settled in the new pad that I'll have more free time. For now I can't get a block of 2 hours to do anything.

That might partially be due to Jet Grind Radio and Majora's Mask which I recently obtained. If that weren't enough, Shenmue arrives this week too! Gaming nirvana for me is a tough thing to find since I'm not a big fan of the more traditional genres (racing, sports, fighting).

October 31, 2000 - Aargh

My weekends are constantly overrun with running errands and getting things done which I've put off for too long. I did get a chance to play a round of golf on Sunday, but my programming time was limited to a single hour Sunday evening.

Lots of new stuff on eBay with more to come. The only thing that might get up there in price is the copy of Dark Tower, a fantasy board game that seems to be quite rare. I picked that one up for like $35 from someone on a newsgroup a while back. While extremely cool with the electronic tower and D&D motif, it's not a very good game. It relies too much on luck. It's neat to have just to have it, but given the choice I would rather have the $100 that the game is going for in other auctions. Plus it would be one less thing to move when the time comes.

Happy Halloween!

October 24, 2000 - Blah

I had a serious case of the unmotivators this weekend. All Sunday I just felt so <blah> for lack of a better term. I ended up watching a lot of TV and not doing much of anything.

The wife is going out of town this week. Hopefully that will let me focus my energies a bit more. I had an idea on a new rendering scheme which would increase visual quality at the expense of bandwidth. Exactly how much it tanks performace I will have to see, but it could simplify things quite a bit.

October 20, 2000 - Color me surprised

Well I'll be darned. It was a serious bid. I guess the game is pretty difficult to find. Why else would someone pay $66 for a Sherlock Holmes point-and-click adventure game? <shrug>

Let's see if I can get any programming done this weekend. My weekends always seem to get occupied by running errands or attending social events. I do need to get the next set of auctions going on eBay, but hopefully that won't take more than a couple hours.

October 18, 2000 - People will by anything

My word. Of the 26 auctions I had going on eBay, 24 received bids. Not only that, but the overall total value of the final bids nearly doubled the starting values. I was a bit shocked by this one. I'm not sure if someone is yanking my chain or if that game is really worth $66. Hey, if they pay I won't argue. So far I haven't heard back from the bidder so I'm guessing it wasn't a serious bid.

October 13, 2000 - Boo!

It's always cool when Friday the 13th occurs during October. Goes with that whole Halloween theme. Not that I go out trick-or-treating mind you. Last year I did go to a party as Darth Maul. It was a bit hot in the robe and mask, but it looked cool.

The eBay auctions are going well. In fact they're going better than I had anticipated with a couple of items. The Dagon's Lair 3-pack, Rocket: Robot on Wheels for N64, and Privateer 1 have all been bid up higher than I was anticipating (currently $15.50, $26, and $15.50 respectively). I've also been pleasantly surprised by System Shock (not the sequel) and Neverhood as they are both over $30 which I think is more than I originally paid for them. In total, I put up 26 items in my first batch. I'm waiting for those to finish before putting up more as I want to get some positive feedback points for the next round.

October 9, 2000 - Cleaning house

The house closed on Friday without a hitch. Aside from the one major snag we hit a few weeks back the house thing wasn't too bad. We will probably move in November or December. Not knowing exactly when sure does put a big question mark in things. Oh well.

In preparation for the big move I'm attempting to get rid of a bunch of my old stuff. I have eight auctions going on at eBay right now and that's just the beginning. I estimate I'll have well over 50 by the time I'm done. Most of the stuff is old PC games that I've been hanging on to for some reason. Take a look if you are interested. I'll be adding lots more stuff over the next few weeks.

October 4, 2000 - Thinking

I had to spend some time thinking about how to implement part of the renderer. As it stands now it is not very condusive to what I need to do. I think I've come up with a scheme, but need to try it out before I can feel comfortable with it.

Played a bit of Iron Dragon online. I lost, but it was a good learning experience. The guy I was playing against was very fast and, not wanting to slow the game down, I tried to be as fast in order to keep the game from dragging. That led to some mistakes on my part. Still it was fun - I'm sure I'll be doing it again.

We close on the townhouse this Friday and everything looks in order. I can't wait to have this done with. Of course then it becomes a matter of scheduling painters, carpeters, and other home repair contractors to work on it. But not knowing exactly when we're moving in makes that difficult.


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