The Haus

Tuesday, March 21, 2000


Okay, gotta vent here. If the intellectual level of the Shugashack messageboards decreases any further I'll SWEAR we've somehow found a way to take cow dung and make children out of it. I haven't seen IQ's so low since the concept of frontal lobotomies. Good grief.

I say take the PCs away-they obviously need to learn how to
  1. Think critically and RATIONALLY, and
  2. Write
before they begin typing a single word of drivel on the internet. It's a shame this can't reflect on families anymore. You'd see a lot of this crud go away.

More Obi-Wan

The Obi-Wan Network has posted an article from PCG UK about LucasArt's Episode I: Obi-Wan on their news page. It is written as if it were a Jedi training manual in an effort to be clever. That hinders more than it helps, but the basic information is there. Also, since I didn't see a "reprinted by permission" this smells like it could be a copyright violation <sniff, sniff>. Thanks

NVIDIA and Linux

NVIDIA's driver support in Linux has always been somewhat, ahem, sketchy. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be getting any better. According to this article on Slashdot, the new binary-only drivers that should be coming sometime this century from NVIDIA will not be using DRI (Direct Rendering Infrastructure--XFree86's answer to DirectX) at all. It's bad enough not make closed-source drivers in Linux (which is the unforgivable sin in the Linux world), but they are also throwing away the DRI standard which their own Linux FAQ said they would be supporting.

I guess it will all come down to this: if the NVIDIA binary driver proves to be by leaps and bounds better than any DRI driver, then people will use it. But if it is closed-source and it sucks, no one will come within 500 miles of it. I hope NVIDIA rethinks this position. Of course, since the vast majority of gamers use Win32 and they just got the big X-Box contract, they may not give a rats. J.t.? Any thoughts?

Update! In reading through the comments on that article, I came across this one which may give some insight into the situation:
NVidia is going to take a lot of heat from the Open Source community over this. But the reason why its closed source is because they're stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The AGP DMA technology their cards use is licensed from this other company (forgot their name). They signed an NDA to get this technology.
Interesting point, if it is correct. Rarely are these matters as simple as they may appear.

Gaming Skunk Works

Graeme Devine updated his .plan with some ideas for a game company "skunk works". Check this out:
I've been thinking a lot about this whole idea of giving out degrees in game design, and it seems that there's a genuine need to be pro active in bringing new people into the community and teaching them some of our mysterious ways. What I'd like to look at doing for those people not enrolled in game design courses at school (who teaches those anyway?) is to start a small skunk works inside id that has active ongoing support from a few people here, a small budget, and actively encourages and teaches our trade.
Anyway, I'd like to propose that our new skunk works helps out by helping the game design process, looking at maps, looking at code, and communicating directly between us, other developers, and the community at large. It's only in our best interests to pass on knowledge, get input and give input on what we're doing, and help make this industry grow.


New Q3A Models

Paul Steed posted a couple of Metastream shots of the new models he is working on for the forthcoming Quake III Arena expansion pack. Pretty cool stuff! You will need the Metastream plugin to see the models. Thanks Planet Quake.

Pondering the Imponderable

So, you think I've just been slacking off with the past few slow news days? Certainly you jest! The Master, Crawl, and I have been working feverishly on EZ-Net's new game server. Yesterday, I made several updates to our Game Servers section of the site, including hardware information and setup guides for Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament. This weekend, The Master got the traceroute page done as well as taking tons of screenshots for the Half-Life servers (the H-L server on the new machine is running the new Counterstrike mod, by the way).

I saw on Gone Gold yesterday that Best Buy is offering the Half-Life Game of the Year edition for $9.99 after rebate. I think I have no reason not to get it now.

As soon as work is done on the server pages, I'm going to turn my attention to our Linux Stuff section, which currently has absolutely nothing in it :) I've got a bunch of things I'm going to move into that section and a few things in the queue to write for that section too.


So, is it going to go gold or what? A lot of folks at ION (Romero, KillCreek, Stephens) made a big deal about how they were all leaving for the weekend. Maybe they left too early?

Update! Evil Avatar is reporting that the release candidate that was submitted on Friday was rejected by Eidos and another was submitted yesterday. Oops!

ZeroPing's Author Answers

Jibe, the author of the much-maligned ZeroPing mutator, responds to comments posted yesterday if Cliff Bleszinski and Brandon Reinhart's .plans. Here's a snip, check out the rest of his homepage:
Zeroping is an experiment, not a crusade. It may be that client-side hitscan's never been done because there's something horribly wrong with it; if so, I'll be happy to let it go -- you learn the most from the experiments that fail. But the hundreds of technical arguments I've read against ZP seem more like relfexes than anything else, and I've yet to hear any complaints that I don't feel I can address. I'm happy to have Epic in the conversation (although not quite in the format I'd prefer) because I suspect they'll present the harshest and most weighty objections.

To state my position a little more clearly... We've all seen the odd side-effects of client-side movement: warping from one location to another, lifts changing state to compensate, etc. I doubt anyone would call client-side motion a bad thing any more; it's much better to accept the occassional eccentricities than to have a 200ms delay on your "forward" key. I'm arguing that the same is true for the fire button, and whatever oddities client-side hitscan presents.
The "warping" his refers to is, for me, the most annoying thing about Unreal Tournament and makes it very difficult to compensate for lag.

Monday, March 20, 2000

Additional Notes on ZeroPing

Brandon Reinhart updated his .plan with his opinion of the whole ZeroPing mod.
Unreal Tournament server-authoritative netcode is that way for a reason. The author of Zero Ping seems to think that we didn't know what we were doing when we wrote it. :)

Zero Ping might make a game feel more responsive, but it seriously opens up servers for client side exploitation. Security is a critical part of online gaming and multiplayer fairness.

Even though Zero Ping makes the game feel more responsive to the shooter, it detriments the victim. You might think you got out of the way... hell the server might even agree that you DID get out of the way...but Zero Ping ignores that and empowers the client's machine to make critical gameplay decisions.

I encourage mod authors to avoid using the Zero Ping Unreal Tournament mod. Finally, realize that ngWorldStats will reject stats reports from servers using the Zero Ping mod.

On Star Wars Online Rumors

Verant's President and CEO, John Smedley, sent an email to the Star Wars Vault regarding some of the rumors that have been swirling around about what will be in their massively-multiplayer Star Wars extravaganza. Here's the whole spiel, in all its glory:
We're really excited about doing Star Wars Online with LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment. It's going to be a while before we release any official information, but I wanted to make a couple of comments.

First of all, nothing related to the amount of game content we will have in the game is remotely final, so things like the number of planets aren't going to be really announced for a while. I will say that we understand clearly the extremely high expectations of Star Wars fans everywhere. I would just urge everyone to wait a while until we are prepared to release more information.

Second, don't read anything into words like "zones". We've been working onsome truly awesome next-generation technology here at Verant, so terms like "zones" will really end up meaning vastly different things then they have in EverQuest.

Overall we're going to be keeping our heads down and working hard. From time to time we'll be stopping by here and the other fans sites as they emerge and we'll say what we can, when we can.
Thanks Evil Avatar.

Stef Still Sucks in Quake

For anyone who follows User Friendly, you know that Stef Murky sucks at Quake. Well, he still sucks at Q3A. Hehehe :-)

A.T. Hun comments: I need my daily fix of User Friendly, The Piranha Club, and Something Awful or I just go mad (and yes, J.t., then I would go "Mad one, mad two, mad three . . .")

ZeroPing Mod is bad

According to Cliff Bleszinski's .plan update, the popular ZeroPing mod for Unreal Tournament is a "bad thing"tm.
When you press the fire button, a message gets sent to the server to let the server know that you fired. In the case of instant hit weapons like the UT Sniper Rifle, the server does a line trace to see if you hit anyone. This is fair, because the server knows exactly where each player is, and has the most recent information about their position. It can make a fair assessment as to whether you really hit the guy or not.

What ZP does is give that judging responsibility to the client. Using the approximate information the client has predicted, the client checks to see if the guy was lined up with your crosshair and tells the server "yep, you hit him". While this might seem great to the camping bastard firing the sniper rifle, it sucks if you're the guy he's firing at. Because you know full well you hid behind the pillar in time, but because the camper doesn't have the latest information on your position, he thought you were in full view.
I should point out a couple things: This benefits those with REALLY poor connections (the normal method of server-validated hits benefits those with really GOOD connects), and it also benefits those who want to cheat. Heck, if you can control hit messages on the client, you can tell the server you always hit anyone who is anywhere near you. Zbot, anyone?

A.T. Hun comments: Well, this could lead to an aimbot, no doubt. I'm actually rather surprised I haven't heard of one in UT yet. But I don't think CliffyB's arguments hold a whole lot of water, unless you are of the opinion that only LPBs should play your game. I've gotten behind pillars many time (or so I thought) or have been hit in the head with the "mystery rocket from nowhere" (which is my favorite UT phenomenon). I suppose that's the punishment I must suffer for having the gall to live in a town with no high-speed access.

The Master responds: I'd have to say it's really a horse apiece. Yes, it sucks to suffer because your an HPB (and remember-anyone in NE. Wisconsin gets to suffer this-even with my ISP I suffer a 10 hop penalty to any server outside of EZ) but when you get somebody in a game who is running a 650 ping (this happens a lot more than I'd like) and they're kicking butt because they have lag time to aim in, it starts to suck. But these problems don't go away because you're an LPB either. LPBs get that extra 10-100ms over HPBs to think about stuff because they have much lower network latencies. So either way somebody gets the shaft.

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