The Haus

Monday, November 29, 1999

New UT Linux

Brandon "GreenMarine" Reinhart updated his .plan to announce an updated Linux distribution. Here's the goods:
Jack is going to put the new Linux UT distribution up on soon. Everyone should download this. If you already have UT installed, just unarchive the LinuxCoreSystem.tar.gz file in your UnrealTournament directory. Otherwise, install as normal.

This version fixes problems with the installer. I've had a couple people outside Epic test it and they say it works great. Send feedback or questions to

Remaining Q3A Characters

id's Paul Steed sent Redwood shots (from the Q3A manual) of the remaining three characters that will be in Quake III Arena. They are: Bitterman, Bones, and Crash (think DoomChick). Stomped even is running a poll, asking what your favorite character is. All told there are 32 characters in Q3A, including 23 different models. The rest of the characters are just a different skin on the same model.

Because I know you care (not) here are my favorite characters in no particular order: Doom, Klesk, Sorlag, Tank Jr., and Bones. I will most likely be playing as Doom.

Do the Linux, Be the Linux

Have I mentioned lately just how cool Linux is? Just thought I'd make that statement. Watch here for further developments on just how cool Linux is :-)

Red Hat to Back Mozilla

ZDNet is reporting that Linux distributor Red Hat is planning a "major investment" in the Mozilla open-source browser project, founded and sponsored by Netscape. Hopefully this will speed up Mozilla's progress.

Call it delusions of grandeur if you want, but Red Hat CEO Bob Young says, "Our competition is not the other Linux distributions. Our competition is with Microsoft." Whether or not Young's company can bring down "The Man" remains to be seen.

Thanks Slashdot.

Good News!

Good news #1: I got my free Quake III Arena hat in the mail today. I got it by sending in a little coupon that came with Quake II (yes, I'm probably the last person in the world to buy Q2).

Good news #2: I fired up Mozilla M11 today. It's obviously not ready for prime-time yet, but it's also obvious that it has potential. The new layout engine (Gecko) is much faster and supports more features than Netscape 4.x. There are plenty of features to be completed and bugs to be squashed, but it seems clear that Mozilla (and therefore Netscape Communicator 5.0) has a bright future.

Daikatana News?

Since this seems to be the day for hearsay and innuendo, The Shugashack pointed me to Evil Avatar, who posted this "inside scoop" on Daikatana.
Eidos has a release canidate of Daikatana. They are still doing testing, but the game is unofficially "Gone Gold".

The Daikatana launch party is December 17th.

Daikatana will ship on Monday December 20th and be in stores starting as early as December 21st.

Eidos has said that if bug fixing cannot be finished in time for the December 20th ship date, they will just ship the current release canidate and "patch later".
None of this is official, but it certainly makes a whole lot of sense. It will be interesting how Romero's much-maligned brain-child sells, since it was beaten to market by both Unreal Tournament and Quake III Arena.

The Master adds: And is based on the Quake 2 codebase. Will be interesting to see what Ion's programmers have been able to do with the Q2 engine, especially since they've turned over senior programmers at least twice

Update! Billy Wilson at VoodooExtreme has posted that his source at ION Storm confirms Evil Avatar's report. Expect to see Daikatana on shelves the week before Christmas (and expect an immediate patch).

More on Windows and OpenGL

A Win2K beta tester emailed Blue's News with some information on the status of OS's OpenGL support. Here's the whole deal:
...I would like to set the record straight. I am a beta tester for Win2K. Not only will Win2K not ship with OpenGL drivers it will not ship with Direct3D drivers. The OS supports both DirectX and OpenGL, however, video card manufacturers have/were not able to kick out stable drivers in time to make it to RC3, (the cut-off was actually RC2). MS is pushing stability so they will not be replacing the current drivers that support only standard 2D desktop graphics. I am using Win2K beta drivers for my TNT2 Ultra and many games run fantastically on Win2K with it. I am using NT4 glide and opengl drivers for my voodoo2 board and I am able to play Ultima9 acceptably, (it runs under Win2K better than under win98). You can be sure that when Win2K is on the shelves most of the card manufacturers will have Win2K drivers with D3D and OpenGL support available.

When will the unfounded rumors cease? BTW, the Fahrenheit project was for DirectX 3D technologies and has nothing to do with Windows 2000 or any Microsoft OS per se.
Once again, it seems that The Registry is reporting half-truths instead of actually getting the story. Caveat Surfor (Let the web-surfer beware).

The Master adds: Considering the current M$ attitude of "if it ain't Microsoft, it ain't," I wouldn't have been surprised if The Registry had been accurate on this one. However, the reasoning behind Microsoft's decision on this one is completely understandable, and a GOOD thing. Thanks to Blue and his intrepid readers for setting the record straight.

Pondering the Imponderable

Just a couple of points I need to get off my chest:

Micro$oft boots OpenGL

According to The Register (not necessarily a completely reliable source) Microsoft is pulling support for OpenGL in W2K. Here's the most telling snippet:
Do not let your personal preference for the Quake family of games dominate your understanding of this market. OGL is not strategic for us... as the last three years of history in the multimedia space have shown...
Now, why would THIS be? BECAUSE OF MICROSUCKS DIRECT-X! How do you compete with Micro$oft? You don't.

Thanks sCary.

A.T. adds: I can't really imagine this being too big of a problem. It's not that Win95/98/NT's built-in support was a whole lot to write home about. On the other hand, The Registry could've pulled this one out of their rears again. It seems that far too much of the stuff they post has some basis in reality, but little else.

Paul Steed interview

VoodooExtreme has a great Q&A interview with Paul Steed. Check it. Good stuff. Beware, PS doesn't pull punches or censor language :-)

Even more Q3A data harvesting

Well, there's been a few more posts to the SlashDot Forums from John Carmack on this whole Q3A Data issue. I think he's got a point. Need to have a lawyer review those readmes from now on :-/
When the article first showed up, I thought "It IS documented in the release!". I went and looked, and unfortunately, that documentation from the previous release didn't make it into the latest release. Sigh. Our fuckup.

Apropriate quote: "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence".

I remain unconvinced that we have done something morally offensive.

Yes, we could have (should have, meant to) included a notice that it was going on in the EULA, but honestly, how many people carefully read and consider every line of all the EULA's they click through? How much of a difference would that have made to people?

I dislike lengthy legal verbiage, but it is reactions exactly like these that cause them to grow. Every time someone says "Sue 'em!" over something, a lawyer proposes another paragraph in a license document.

The most upstanding thing to do would be to have explicit UI that asks on installation if you don't mind sending your data when you play multiplayer games. I would consider that justified if we were sending a detailed system spec. That is something we may want to do in the future. Data like that is helpfull in making good development decisions.

But this is just a driver string riding along with your game version. It just seems silly, like requiring you to acknowledge before leaving your house that someone might see you. I would rather have fixed a bug somewhere.

I can see that it is a slipperly slope to be on, and I can easily project it to a scenario that I would be offended by, but I just can't convince myself that knowing the reletive distribution of different OpenGL implementations is violating people's rights.

The system was set up to allow us to notify people with a one-line message when their versions are out of date. I imagine some people are offended even by that, but I consider that a positive service to the community.

Including the renderer string was an afterthought to get some good unbiased data to help make future decisions on. Every once in a while we tally up the numbers, then dump all the logs. That's it.
From the FWIW department: MicroSoft claimed the same thing when they were caught harvesting GUIDs from IE when users entered Windows Update. 'Course, GUIDs uniquely identify the users. IP addresses (unless static) DON'T. And there's nothing in the data id is collecting that identifies users either. And WHO CARES about a GL_RENDERER string? Good grief...

Sunday, November 28, 1999

Even more Q3A data harvesting

sCary posted on the Shack that the whole GL_RENDERER string thing was alluded to in the 1.08 Q3ATest. Check it (snipped from the Q3test_instructions_readme.txt from that rev):
When Quake 3 Arena starts a map up, it sends the GL_RENDERER string to the Message Of The Day server at id. This responds back with a message of the day to the client. If you wish to switch this option off, set CL_MOTD to 0 (+set CL_MOTD 0 from the command line).
A.T. adds: Perhaps id is not so sneaky and underhanded after all? Obviously no one reads the readme :)

More on Q3A Data Harvesting

John Carmack has replied to some concerns about the fact that Q3A reports information about you to id's master server. Here's a (rather large) snip:
You can disable it by setting "cl_motd 0" when the game starts up if you really don't want to send anything or see our message.

We added the result of glGetString( GL_RENDER ) to get some much needed information about the distribution of video cards and drivers.

We can see how many people aren't following directions and running glsetup. This is a big support issue.

We can see how many people are running minidrivers, which are going to make our lives a mess in the future.

We can see how many mac (steady 5%) and linux (5% at initial release, tailed off to 2%, probably due to dual booting) people are playing.

Getting this information has been usefull. We can compare the numbers of people playing with a given card with the amount of support emails we field, so we know which vendors (3DFX) we need to give more crap about their driver quality.
My $.02? People are getting their undies in way too much of a bundle about this. I wish id would have mentioned it in a readme at least. But I think some of the Slashdotters have been watching too many Oliver Stone movies if they are ready to accuse id of using Q3A as a Trojan Horse.

Thanks Blue for the heads-up.

Q3A Data Harvesting

Well, there's been a major blowup post on LinuxQuake on Q3A harvesting video card and Q3A version info and sending it to id software as part of your authentication login to a Q3A game. Personally, I don't like the data harvesting, but the info is really NOT personal, and allows id to collect some market info on video cards and O/Ses. HOWEVER, they do allow you to turn it off. Do this at the Q3A console (pull down using the tilde ~):
seta cl_motd 0
BTW: LinuxQuake is being Slashdotted right now and is practically unvisitable. But you can get the whole story there if you're willing to wait.

Site Update

In lieu of actual news, I decided to update the site a bit. I've reorganized the Tips and Tricks page. This page will house any useful information we have found on our various travels across cyberspace. Most recently, I've added Unreal Tournament cheat codes, courtesy of Game Sages. All kinds of good stuff will follow!

Creative Labs NVIDIA Overclocker

Creative Labs have released a beta version of an overclocking utility for their NVIDIA-based products (TNT/TNT2/GeForce). It comes with no technical support, so use it at your own risk. Of course, if you blow up your card, don't come crying to them (or to me) either.

I used it for a bit on my TNT, overclocking the core to 95 and the memory to 120. I don't know how much I'll use it, but I'm sure I'll fiddle with it from time to time.

CliffyB on Map Griping

Epic's Cliff Bleszinski updated his .plan with some map suggestions for people who think that UT's maps are either too "boring" or too "gimmicky". Personally I think some people (like the ones he refers to) have this burning need to get on messageboards, any messageboard, and vent their spleen. I guess some people just need to get out more.

Patent issues

Was reading a messageboard post about Open Source on Slashdot, posted by John Carmack, and it got me thinking:

When somebody patents a technique, can that patent be overruled because of somebody implementing that technology before the patent date? What rules are there to get a patent thrown out? So, if some technique in 3d graphics was first applied by id, and then somebody patents it, can id get the patent thrown out, or can somebody else?

I'm thinking about this in the context of an earlier post here on the Haus on the Y2K windowing patent. I implemented a windowing Y2K fix for a project at my real lifeTM job, in April of 1995. And Apple computer did a similar thing with ProDOS, which I'm SURE predates this weenies patent (BTW: This sucker was filed October 3, 1996, so I guess I beat him out the door. Gimme your money :-).

Any thoughts? Email me!

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