Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dell Laptop Bursts Into Flames In Japan

IPB Image

And this article that made me Google it...

Thanks be praised to Google Images search.

GP2X RTS (real-time strategy) game idea

See this post and the one immediately after it.

Based on what Tobriand said:

IPB Image

Can you tell who is flanking who with fighter/bombers? Can you tell which side has the bigger guns, but less corvettes/frigates?

Simplistic symbology, if done right, can tell a lot. After that, it's all gameplay. As you can see here, I assume the ships can rotate their facing, which can be used later for more complicated 2d or even 3d polygons, assuming the game was GPL and someone else came along afterwards.

It's all based on positioning...

IPB Image
Here's how this game works.

  1. You have four attack unit types: Capital Ships, Cruisers, Frigates and Fighters selected by pressing SELECT than A,X,B,Y.
  2. You have four support unit types: Mothership (makes more, and repairs), Repairship, Minelayers (every RTS needs something for turtles) and Turrets (mothership makes them and sends them to the square you designate) selected by pressing START than A,X,B,Y.
You can't control who your ships shoot at, you can only control their movement.

Selecting and Movement works in this way...
  • Press THUMBPAD down and you activate the "select grid", which makes the grid show up in the background with the button labels.
  • Press that button and your cursor appears there, 4x as big as usual (takes up the whole Y grid, for example). Press a diagonal to narrow your cursor down (you don't have to). Up assumes diagonal left, left assumes downleft, etcetera, for those accidental presses.
  • To grab grids that don't have a button, just move the grid-cursor with the thumbpad.
  • Press THUMBSTICK again, and whatever ships you have selected will go there.
To move something, you either select ALL of a unit type (SELECT, A would grab your Capitol Ships, wherever they are), or you select units in a grid (of any of the four types you currently are working on, based on whether you pressed SELECT or START last, either attack or support units). For example if we grabbed B we would net either the Mothership or the Frigates, but not both.
  • L, when the thumbstick hasn't been pressed, releases all selected units.
  • If you enter Thumbstick Grid-Select mode with units already selected, it assumes you want to move them. If nothing is selected, is assumes you want to select something, and then move it.

Rock, Paper, Scissors
Fighters go after other Fighters first, then Capitol Ships and Cruisers. Fighters are owned by Frigates. Frigates go after Fighters first, then other Frigates, and suck against Capital Ships. Capital Ships go after Cruisers then Frigates, and suck against Fighters. Cruisers are decent against Capitol Ships, Frigates, and Fighters, but don't own or be owned by anyone.

I think the Rock, Paper, Scissors needs to be change to 4 not 3. I think the grid system needs work - that center area is just too hard to select and you can't macro-select it with a 4x square. Perhaps "Volume -" would select the left two unlabeled squares, "Volume +" would select the right two, and THUMBSTICK down would select the middle two, which it would do every time until you press A,X,B or Y to macro-select another grid area.

Just stuff I come up with quickly.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Great Sunday

Dungeons and Dragons
My friend Dove proved again his ability to run a D&D game. He's not much on the creative side - he leaves an author's descriptions at the door, but he plays his NPCs accurately and well, complete with voices. Where he really shines is continuity and organization. His world always seems real because it is completely consistent. He has a perfect image of what's going on (even if he doesn't try to mimmick some Dickens and describe it all) and it shows when we play. He manages combat better than any DM I've played with, even Stan Lowman.

Stan's theory of combat was "when it gets so big I can't fit it all in my brain, I'll gloss over it." He'd use homebrew rules to "approximate" what happens when 40 enemies, en mass, do something. It'd be in keeping with the rules so we all went with it, besides which Stan was not a DM you questioned needlessly. He'd listen, but he was always in charge.

Dove, on the other hand, can handle 40 enemies in split groups coming at us from different angles, and keeps track of every single creature's stats & hitpoints - in part thanks to DM Genie (google that), a difficult program to use at first.

So Sunday was good.

A GGB fan and Guild Wars fan-forum moderator, LordFu, found me on the GP2X forums I frequent. At the D&D game, my GP2X proved an able MP3 player, if not portable (no way to easily carry it while moving about), and two D&D players fell in love with it. Decker liked Neo Geo (Metal Slug) while Jakob liked the Genesis emulation.

On this handheld, there's something for everyone.

Oh, neat post I found: Visual Comparison of the GP2X and it's predacessor, the GP32.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I now have 575 Genesis ROMs and 144 SNES ROMs including 47 translated SNES ROMs on my GP2X. That enough? No, no, you're right - that's a pitiful number of SNES ROMs, but SNES emulation isn't perfect on the GP2X, whereas Genesis emulation is.

MAME and NEO GEO refuse to cooperate.

Friday, June 23, 2006

PSP: Crippled by DRM

Two good friends of mine have a knack for taking observations and data and compressing it into semi-precious stones. One I have sex with nightly, and the other I don't.

(One is my wife, the other is my male friend, Dove)

I told Dove that my GP2X was EVIL, because it nearly converted Ian, an IT guy and PSP owner, in 5 minutes flat. What got him? When he saw DivX video playing on it and found out it could use 4GB SD cards.

DRM Kills
The PSP is crippled by DRM, Dove pointed out, because everything you would want to do with it requires that you buy something. Not just videogames, but movies - nothing will play that isn't UMD, so if you want to have a movie on it, you have to pay DVD prices to get it, even if you already own a DVD of that movie. To make matters worse, the Memory Stick Pro Duo requirement is hard-wired into the PSP, so that either 3rd party sticks won't work, or at the very least, if you buy a 1GB stick, the PSP will only "see" the first 256 megs.

So when the PSP first came out, having a CD or two of music with you sounded cool (mind you, this is if you bought the most expensive Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo), but people have rapidly moved past this mindset and into the 20GB iPod market where they think "I can take my whole music library with me."

Even a GP2X can't handle more than an SD card can carry (unless you use a Break-Out-Box / USB Host to power an external hard-drive, which isn't portable), but...

  • A GP2X allows you to view DivX, Mov, Avi movies without worrying about UMD DRM.
  • A GP2X lets you use any kind of SD card you want (certain el-cheapo brands won't work).
  • A GP2X lets you play all kinds of games (I have over 700 Genesis games on mine, that I can save at any time) and pausing, saving and restarting these things is easy.
Most of Dove's friends who enjoy their PSP's think of it as a replacement of their GameBoy - and talk about the games they have where they can play for 5 minutes and save - be it their golf game or a racing game.

The GP2X, depending on the emulator used, allows you to save the state of the game you are in wherever you are - mid-jump during a boss fight? No problem! Homebrew games typically don't allow for such, and just have a pause feature - but that's one more reason to load up an emulator while in a line.

At any rate, well said. I had to write it down.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

GP2X: What is it?

Some friends of mine were confused! First, head here and look over this review!

GP2X Arrives - Videos!

That's Paul playing Vektar on the GP2X.

The "I Just Got My GP2X!!!" stickied thread:
Time to get my contribution buried in here for posterity and tradition's sake:
  1. GP2X
  2. TV-Out Cable (no extra cables to actually use that S-cable yet)
  3. 128mb SD card (4gig on the way)
  4. Carrying Case
  5. 8x2500mah AA's, charger (Energizer)
The screen has a great viewing angle, and I have a Mark 2/Mk2... check my videos!

Overclocks stabily to 280MHz, speedtests to 300MHz (as my sig suggests). THANKS TO EVILDRAGON FOR THIS UNIT!
I enjoy playing:
  • Quake 280MHz using every single key (look up/down is volume +/-, strafe is L & R)
  • Beats of Rage - When I finally got it running, I was amazed by the fluid animation of the game, the beautiful backgrounds, and the music! Techo from Mortal Kombat? Boss music from Streets of Rage? Awesome!
  • Streets of Rage 1 & 2 (3 has sucky music) for Genesis
  • Sonic - 'cause I missed that growing up
I can tell I'll need a lot more Beats of Rage mods (around 50 megs a pop) because that's just too much fun. I really enjoy Quake.

My oldest daughter doesn't have a favorite game yet. She asked me to look up Genesis strategy games. Herzog Zwei comes to mind...

The Miscellaneous Post:
I just bought this:
A-DATA Turbo 4GB Secure Digital (SD) Flash Media Model Turbo SD 150X 4G - Retail

It's listed on the Wiki

Edit: Why did I suddenly spend $100 on an SD card?
Because my GP2X arrived yesterday and once I played around with it, I was able to judge whether it was best to buy 1gig, 2gig, or 4gig SD card. Basically, I had to own the system and try it out with my eldest daughter's 128mb SD card to see just how good it was and just how much I'd be using it. Well after staying up until 12:30AM playing Quake1 and trying (unsuccessfully) to get OpenBor working, and loading up a ton of Genesis ROMs, I had my answer.

The GP2X is literally better than I had hoped for with regards to how much I enjoy it.

What I think about my GP2X:
I love it. It plays music, movies, shows my pictures (of family, kids, whatever) and plays a whole heap-load of games which, so far, haven't cost me a penny other than the 4gig SD card I bought to hold them. It is still en route and should arrive today. It is not fickle about what made the JPEG or (usually) video, nor where ROMs came from, with the exception of MAME ROMs, many of which need to be put through a conversion utility. Whoopdiedoo.

This thing runs:
  • Neo Geo
  • Sega Genesis
  • Super Nintendo
  • Sega Master System
  • Amiga
  • Atari variants
  • Arcade systems (<1996~1998)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Homebrew games
  • Linux ported games (that won't kill its dual 200MHz processors)
My only regret is that I don't have 2 because I can see I'm hyper-protective of it and my 9yo daughter wants to keep it with her during the day so she can use it when she has baby-sitting duty. Also having 2 would be cool because maybe I could get my dad interested in developing for it - but alas, there are better things to spend money on.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Nacho Libre was Fucking Stupid

Nacho Libre was fucking stupid. It's enough to make me curse, and y'all know I don't curse much.

First of all is that the movie attempted to portray horrible execution as camp movie-making, and it doesn't work. It throws in ancient ditties (songs) poorly recorded and has the whole racist angle that I've read Napoleon Dynamite had — in that the only Mexican that is portrayed as good, intelligent, or even non-disgusting to look at is the nun, and she's essentially a 13 year-old's sex object. The level of thinking of the movie, as reviewers said, really is 12-13 year-old boys, and even they won't like this unless peer-pressure sets in.
  • Now, I could get over how Mexicans were treated because — everyone in the film was playing a Mexican. It was the flavor more than a deliberate racist remark.
  • I could get over the campiness.
What really burns me is that, when you remove this, you find that Nacho Libre really is just bad film-making. It has a few funny parts but the story can't decided whether its dragging on nor what it's making fun of. One moment, Nacho is in the wilderness, and the next he's singing a love song for the nun making fun of how black women sing love songs. It just has no point and, unfortunately, takes too long to get to each funny segment.

Dumb and Dumber I enjoyed, which is why I really couldn't pin down why I don't like Nacho Libre after wanting to like it so much — I think that's the key. Dumb & Dumber never stood too long in one spot. Nacho Libre does — interminably, through the whole damn movie.

By the end of the movie, I was literally wishing it would hurry up and finish to A) put me out of my misery and B) before they have something even more stupid happen that would ruin what I was trying to salvage of the movie.

Doh! I was disappointed.

As for nit-picking, I've got this one: when Nacho, the Catholic Monk turned Luchador (still a great concept for a comedy, no?), said "Maybe in the next life." And this just illustrated the lack of research as to what they were trying to make fun of — Latin Catholics don't have much of a concept of reincarnation, so that didn't seem like a joke, it sounded stupid.

The concept was great. The execution was pitiful.

MySpace is Stupid

Well at Brandon's behest, I started up a MySpace account just so he can add me as a friend. I'm not sure if he'll want to, now. [see blog post]

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Press "Start" To Play

Low and behold, I accidentally came across a good videogame-centric Web comic that doesn't think gamers want a story or to see sexy kittens - granted, my hat's off to everyone in that niche of the biz whereas they are still running, and isn't.

I actually took time to write the makers, partly because they are talented, and partly because their latest post scares me. I call it the post of death - it's where folks say "I'm feeling burdoned! I have no time!" which is sometimes the last gasp of their own mind not wanting to say "Good lord, I'm finished."

I hope they come around and do well. That kind of talent is rare. They even draw girls. Well.

You mean the Government can't manage our lives as well as we can?

This news article about FEMA's 1 billion in fraudulent relief aid payouts really speaks to a larger issue.

Oh, and as if D&D Online wasn't stupid enough because it lacks a Dungeon Master, now you can solo, too! Yes, I've played it. No, I don't like a D&D game that is basically "Hang out in bar, find PUG (pick up group) or your friends. Teleport to dungeon. Fight stuff. Go back to bar.

Where the hell is the rest of the world? Oh, they omitted it.

Correction: PS3 is all bark AND bite

I turns out I was wrong about this post. I reply to everyone who posts a comment. Anyone who takes the time to read and write, deserves as much. Usually I'll never repeat it as I have here, though in this case, I felt I had to because I hate misrepresenting facts.

Anonymous said...

You don't want to use for your technical information. They're the FOX News of the internet I'm afraid. The article regarding the slow READ of the Cell processor from local memory has been completely debunked on slashdot

10:25 AM

David said...

Thank you, anonymous! I stand corrected, happily I might add.

6:26 AM

Monday, June 12, 2006

My Great Weekend

D&D that Wasn't
Well I came this close ][ to having fun at the big D&D game. I avoided the County Picnic because my wife backed out on attending it, and I didn't want to drive all the way there with four children alone, so I thought "Great, I can get to D&D on time."

Then 12:40 PM comes, and as I ready myself, my 13-month old walking, abstract-thinking baby boy latches onto me. I try to pawn him off on my lovely lady. He struggles to be free of her and cries. I try to sit down with him and distract him. He's onto my plot before I get halfway through it, and throws the toys down and latches onto me again. Every time I try to leave, Jose Francisco makes it abundantly apparent that - for whatever reason - he wants his Papa today.

My wife pushes me to go, but finally I tell her "What can I say? Sorry, 13-month old baby boy, daddy has a D&D game? This is why parents have no life." She chuckled, and told me to call the restaurant where the game was held to tell everyone I couldn't make it.

Jose & Diablo 2
So Jose Francisco had a Saturday full of Papa. Around 2 PM my wife told me to call my cousin, Paul, and and hour and a half later he was at my place, and we played Diablo 2 until 12:30 AM, with breaks for dinner and a baby boy, who sat with me or around me for a long time. It was odd, as much as he wanted me, he didn't seem to want me to be doing anything other than being at home with him in my lap. This was easily accomplished. Sometimes I let him have my mouse while I was in town.

Sunday was a lazy day. We went to Publix, I rediscovered the joys of Day of Defeat: Source (running on the Half-Life 2 engine), as well as how much I fail to understand what I'm supposed to do in Dystopia (same engine).

Jose Francisco, The Strong
That's a nickname his sisters gave him, independantly.

Jose Francisco and I spent time bashing things on both days. He has a will to conquer everything - whereas I don't care if someone else is better at something than me, I'm happy for them - Jose Francisco behaves more like my cousin, Paul, and his grandfather in Mexico (retired gynecologist and military commendant, separately), in that he has a will to dominate all things around him. Anything that presents itself saying "Ha ha, Jose Francisco, you can't climb me!" or "Look, I'm a toy soldier! Quick! Bash me with your other soldiers!"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hitman: Blood Money advertisements

"Shockingly Executed" A naked woman, having been electrocuted by a toaster in her bathtub, presumably yet another way for the Hitman to murder his victims.

So there's this young lady gamer's take and Joystiq's open-ended blog which encouraged it's readers to make some unusually insightful remarks (see the large block of italicized text).

My take on the whole issue? Should it be banned? Are people luddites? Is it evocative of sexual power over women? Is it just meant to be sensational? Even so, does it change our culture, bit by bit? Does it matter?

All I can say is the world ceased to be the kind of place I enjoy living in a long time ago. That doesn't mean I expect anything to change, nor that becoming St. Paul's next defender is going to help anything. Discussions usually go like this: Everyone sits at a table, and takes turns getting up on the table, shoes and all, and waving their baggage around madly while yelling, and sitting down again. Nothing much gets done - it's like folks have forgotten how to learn, and instead focus on feeling right (not being right, which often involves being corrected).

I have three daughters, so of course I'm different. But if I am a defender of anything - it is of them. Until the world gets up and announces that it wants David Beoulve to be its Paladin, I'm not interested in trying to "save" it from anything. It doesn't want saving. It doesn't need saving. And it will stab your eyes out if you try. Moreover, folks who try to push what is right and wrong on others run the risk of becoming the wrong themselves.

While there are definite rights and wrongs in the world, most of them have to do with treatment of other human beings. If half the world wants to make a religion out of murder porn, it's only an issue when they gain power over part of the rest of the world. This is, ultimately, everyone's fear. "If enough of the world changes, it will change against me." People who want to take up that torch will do so. For me...

Charity and ethics start at home. If folks want to join you, let them. You can't stop people from being stupid, nor train them out of insensitivity.

I think this advertisement line is merely deliberately sensational, which doesn't say much about the game. Look at Postal 2, which I enjoyed maiming and burninating the civilian population in, but there just really wasn't much game there. That said, I could only watch my burn victims writh and whimper and curl up with the realization that they are dying, and give up about 5 times before it lost its mystique, appeal and became something stomach churning. Death is not glory, either in dying or killing. The game hit a little too close to home with that one aspect (burning deaths). The AI was attrocious which meant the world felt more disconnected at all times - other than the burning animations, I never felt like I was killing real people.

Brutality in today's world comes from a disconnect from feeling for other human beings. What games we play might affect the weaker among us, but not the rest of us. If you're already disconnected from the rest of humanity and fantasize about killing them, a videogame isn't your biggest issue.

Topics like this dance around the real underlying themes in life.

EDIT: Actually, I've got a great idea! Why not just ask Old Grandma HardCore? This post actually touches on this overall topic.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Escapist writes about Blizzard

It's a great magazine this issue, if you read it from start to finish, but it doesn't actually accomplish much other than a history lesson and an informative look at the inner workings of Blizzard that has helped drive their teams to success - and why many have left the company despite it being a wonderful place to work.

I posted a comment about one of the articles here.

PS3 all bark, no bite?

The PS3 "mortgage your house" GPU is underpowered and might get half the number of polygons on screen compared to the XBOX 360 "takes it from behind."

This article talks about the issue.
And this article backs it up.

"You end up with a console with half the triangle setup rate of the 360, a crippled CPU that is a bitch to program, and tools that are atrocious compared to the 360. To make matters worse, you have an arrogant set of execs telling us that twice the price is worth it for half the power, a year late. If it isn't already too late, Sony had better do something about this recto-cranial inversion or it may very well sink the console."

My take on the whole issue? The XBOX 360 came out ahead of Sony's predictions, and the PS3 is suffering for not having as much time for it to be developed and tested as Sony wanted - and needed.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Updates on David

Well, I still need to convert to LiveJournal. I've gotta find a way to get Segmagic or one of its downloadable editors to work kind of like RTF (Rich Text Format). I don't want to hand-code my boldings or hyperlinks.

Don't eat the rocks. I think we ended up in Largo? I rhymed with Fargo, which is why I didn't believe we were actually in Largo, or that there was a Largo, until we were leaving it and I saw a sign that said "Entering Tampa," which got me all confused. But that's easy to do.

Thursday and Friday I had training on Voter Registration software, but Friday was the best, as we got to see the EViD, Electronic Voter Identification system. It's basically a Point of Sale system that's been retooled to run as the Registrar of Voters. You know, when you vote, you see this long line of people who get their names checked and get issued a correct ballot style?

Well the EViD makes this whole process a LOT faster than old ladies looking through large books listing voters. You just give them your Drivers License, they swipe it, see what they have to give you, and hand you a ballot. Though, mind you, individual Clerks will handle that probably with several people rather than one, but it's still a lot faster and other Election Offices say their Clerks and Poll Workers love it.

My coworkers loaned me cash for Red Lobster! That was yummy, and $15 off thanks to the County. 2 pounds of Snow & King Crab for $5? Who could resist?

I got an air-hockey table for my kids, which they love. I believe everyone had fun on the trip.

I drove both ways though :P My friend, Dove, who writes for Gamers Gone Bad, kept me awake and focused on the way back extolling some really cool properties of light and ... I can describe every bit of what he said, but not name it - argh.

Maria de Guadalupe and I have been having a lot of fun with Diablo 2 and its expansion. I never tried it before now - no real excuse other than being a father. She's playing a Sorceress and I was playing a Necromancer, which is a lot of fun because I have this BIG ARMY. Sadly, the 1.11 (last patch) update severely hampers the number of undead I can summon.

Yesterday I switched to playing a Druid. It took me 30 minutes to figure out how to get the Druid to be able to hang with Maria's Sorceress (cleverly named Maria). Just grabbing the waypoints won't do, as I couldn't gain any XP from the higher-level creatures. Setting the level does nothing other than change the number and amount of XP to next level. However, against the recommendations of the hero editor, setting the XP, but not the level, and wandering out of town and killing one monster does the trick.

It's been much more fun with my druid because everything I pick up is better than what I have, and because druids cast more offensive fire spells. I do love fire. Necromancers are better army-makers, near as I can tell. None of my dire wolves, carrion vines or ravens have long-range attacks, as the Skeletal Mages do.

One thing I do not recommend is pairing a Druid and a Necromancer, because the Druid's pets automatically eat dead bodies to heal either themselves or the druid, and the Necromancer needs dead bodies to make more skeletons of any kind. My cousin, Paul, played a druid with us on Saturday. Much fun was had when he wasn't busy forgetting he was, in fact, playing with other people who don't magically know where he is, where he is going, or what he is doing. Paul thinks that's leadership to say "I just go and do what I gotta do, and either people follow or they don't."

That's just a pitiful perception of leadership. That'd work in a street gang, but it's not leadership ;)

Amazing news! Michael / EvilDragon found a GP2X that overclocks reliably to not 260MHz, not even the coveted 280MHz, but an amazing 300MHz! I know of one guy on the forums who has a GP2X that can do this (and posts about it). Most folks are happy if their GP2Xs make 260MHz, and a lucky few brag openly about their 280MHz (as long as Epicenter isn't there to rain on their parade with his speed demon). I am SO HAPPY.

Since Michael found a good GP2X, naturally he shipped it (on Monday, May 29th), however, it has to pass through US customs first. I predict the NSA will interrogate my GP2X.

NSA: "Are you a part of a guided missile system?"
GP2X: "Uh, no."
NSA: "Are you part of a bomb?"
GP2X: "Heh, no."
NSA: "Are you from North Korea?"
GP2X: "God, no. I was designed in South Korea."
NSA: "Do you pledge allegiance to President Bush, his administration, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales?"
GP2X: *ponders this* "Uh, you do know I run an Open-Source Operating System?"
NSA: "Process her."
GP2X: "Aiiieeee!"