Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Another world

Sitting in the Steinhaus, at the perfect walking distance from GSI. I hope I'll get an apartment soon, although I should probably look around myself again. Had a quick look before x-mas and there are options, but they're a bit costly.

Been at work for exactly one week now, and I've been cleaning up some code to setup a VME DAQ. Some issues with the readout of a brilliant new module that they manufacture here at GSI, probably an initialization thing. The big task of tomorrow!

Contemplating the purchase of a HHKB Pro 2, with blank white keycaps. I'm typing a lot at work, so that would be nice for my fingers. Normal keyboards give me a horrible sensation when I think about my hands, I need a proper keyboard. The Filco I can't use at work, way too loud. The blank and 60-key layout would stop others from typing on my computer though, but the Colemak layout kicks them out already so they can use their own computers ;)

So the Tim Schafer game was released today, too bad I can't dl very fast, I don't want to hog the wifi. Oh yes, I am a sucker for his older games and I jumped the bandwagon from the start, when it all went down. I imagine some people are having a blast with the beta. I also did a quick checkup on Ron Gilbert and had completely missed The Cave, I need to check that out. And figured that Monkey Island is now owned by Disney, which means we'll probably never have Monkey Island 3 :(

But I need to end on a good note, so, uh... Right, I have landed on Sunder, the planet which only allows scientists! In Anachronox, in case you wonder. I just landed and walked around the first place, haven't dared to step outside yet. I love adventure games.

Update 2014-01-18:
I installed Broken Age on my Lenovo E130 with Slackware 14.1, but it wouldn't start, only complaining about "missing OpenGL features". Had a look around, the support in the forum isn't very fleshed out yet. Steam officially supports Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and if you don't have that, you're on your own. There was a tip about adding "--log", but that did nothing for me. Fortunately, I'm nuts about Slackware, so I set out to fix it.
You need OpenGL 3.2 or similar, which you can get with new versions of xf86-video-intel and Mesa 10 (I grabbed 2.99.907 and 10.0.2, respectively). Don't forget to update libdrm as well (2.4.51 worked for me). Make sure you compile for 32-bits targets and make 32-bit packages. And why not make 64-bits packets and get OpenGL 3.3 support everywhere while you're at it. But when I executed "~/.local/share/Steam/SteamApps/common/Broken Age/run.sh", seg-fault. Grr. Just for fun I ran ./BrokenAge through gdb with the proper LD_LIBRARY_PATH and that worked. Haven't thought much about it, I just gamed on. We have new games on Linux, yay!

So, my verdict on the game... Very nice, graphics are smooth and the music fits well. I enjoy single player games like these. What's up with the dad-computer hiding outside? And a bunch of other things, but we'll see in Act 2 I suppose.
Now let's bust out the real grumpy little me: even I think it was a bit short at < 3h 40m, and I talked about pretty much everything and checked out every place I could. The graphics, while nice, are a bit modern-style "hazy", I don't really feel like being part of that world on the other side of my monitor. The 8-bits era was nice because it was crisp, not for the garbage resolutionz. I use bitmap fonts wherever I can on my computers though. And the puzzles were rather silly... Too much of a ride, so I never got the feeling that I had to do anything, I was just supposed to do things. Bit weird, very little suspense, and I even killed the Mog (boo-hoo, spoiler, imho anything that can be ruined with a few spoilers is rubbish anyway, and this game had a bit more to offer).

Do you remember "Hi! My name's Guybrush Threepwood and I want to be a pirate!"?

Or how Manny Calavera was screwed over with every new client?

Game intros with class. Still, Broken Age was definitely worth the money, I'm glad Tim Schafer did this. The only other options are German and Spanish adventure games...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy birthday Earth!

We've heard them all, so I'll just say: right on!

So what are my New Year's resolutions? I can tell, because I have none: I have none. I have ideas, but I will not promise myself anything. I am a free human being! And probably a bit high on champagne, lobster and cheese.

So how do you pass a Mephad'in Doorlord on the planet Anachronox? You cannot. But you may learn that there is some "generic incriminating information" about a brother of that guard, with no details. Confronted with your vague black-mailing, the guard may reply (para-phrasing) "I see you have incriminating information that I wish to not be spread. I will let you know about an alternate entrance." And that is one of the most important reasons I play games. Not for tea-bagging, I do that with my morning tea and that is sufficiently boring. Not to climb a high score chart, I do that with every aspect of my life already (I use the Colemak keyboard layout and am a master at traversing flights of stairs, oh yeh). No, I play to be entertained, either by comedy, gore or taste. Anachronox delivers quality comedy. Old school shooters provide pure gore. Taste, uh, we don't have much of that in the gaming world. Doom 4, please provide gore for us!

Figured today that I had forgotten to remove the gamma curve on our source textures, no wonder everything looked incredibly washed out. What happened was the dynamic range of the texture data was compressed upwards the gamma curve and was therefore saturated, so everything looked very gray and lifeless. Some time ago I asked our artist to remove the gamma curve, but that in turn reduced the "perceptible" dynamic range. And doing the ka-pow in the shaders is cheap enough so I'll just keep doing that.

One New Year's eve, I'd love to carry a Marshall stack outside and blast the neighbourhood with my ax. In recent years they've pulled the cool big fireworks here in Sweden, so someone has to provide something heavy.

I've watched some of the Indiana Jones and Back to the Future marathons on Swedish TV in the last few weeks. My goodness are they great or what. I feel sorry for today's kids who won't get the "hype" which is then surpassed by the product. Doesn't happen anymore. Just like the ad for the coco-puffs Bailey cups introduced in an 8 out of 10 cats Christmas special one year, "they are f-cking amazing". Yep, getting old.

Edit 2014-01-01:
A few friends dragged me to the cinema a while back, first time in many many years: The Hobbit 2, the desolation of Smaug. People seem to like the depiction of Smaug in that movie, and tbh it's kind of what I wished Skyrim would've been (who wants to fight dragonS with a sword and shield from the ground? Bah.). But, am I the only one who thought Smaug lost all power and intimidation after about 3 seconds of talking? "Oh but he rants in the book" you say. I haven't read it. And according to numerous sources, the movie doesn't follow the book all too well _at all_. He should just have shut up, possibly said "this treasure is mine to behold" or whatever, contemplate the intruders and then just roast everything.
I saw the Wizard of Oz from 1939 for the first time today. I wouldn't mind defining "cinema gold" to be when Dorothy breaks out into one of the most wonderful songs ever made in the first part of the movie. *sigh* Slightly more touching than the scene with Luke dreaming about adventures in space, standing on the plains on Tatooine watching the binary stars setting at the horizon, but maybe not as empowering.