The Haus

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

NWN Linux Beta Client Soon?

Bioware updated the Neverwinter Nights Linux client page with word that they are getting ready to release a beta version of the client! YES! Here's the scoopage:

We are about ready to go for the Linux Client Public Beta, but we are waiting on some standard commercial issues to be completed. This is a normal, expected step in publicly releasing material. This does not add any new obstacles or complications to the mix. It's about as ready to go as can be from our end and after these commercial issues are finished up we will get it out to you. Sorry, but we cannot give you an exact time estimate right now.

You just know that I will be all over this once it is released.

Sweeney on 64-bit Computing

I saw on several sites that Epic's Tim Sweeney made a post on Slashdot concerning Intel's comments on 64-bit computing. It seems like they aren't planning on putting out a consumer 64-bit processor until potentially the end of the decade. Here's a snip:

Intel's claims are wholly out of touch with reality. On a daily basis we're running into the Windows 2GB barrier with our next-generation content development and preprocessing tools. If cost-effective, backwards-compatible 64-bit CPU's were available today, we'd buy them today. We need them today. It looks like we'll get them in April.

Any claim that "4GB is enough" or that address windowing extensions are a viable solution are just plain nuts. Do people really think programmers will re-adopt early 1990's bank-swapping technology?

C'mon, Tim, tell us how you really feel. :)

The Master comments: I know if I could run a system that could easily access more than 4 GB of ram, I would vote for that system when we do our next database server upgrade at work. Being able to host your entire database in RAM is awesome. I'm just trying to imagine the query access speed right now.

More Freelancer Demo Impressions

A little while ago I finished the story part of the Freelancer demo--the demo only gives you the first mission of the game, and apparently I quit right before the end of the mission last night. Even after you finish the story mission, you can still explore the system and take side (non-story) missions.

I do like the demo a little more now that I've seen more of it. The combat is extremely fast-paced but is pretty fun. The keyboard & mouse controlled flight (no joystick support) is better than I expected it to be.

A lot will ride on the non-story part of the game, I expect. Just how much freedom do you have outside the story? Will the trading and exploration balance the scripted missions? I've read on Gone Gold that the game does reach points where you must continue the story in order to continue playing. That is unappealing, but not enough that I wouldn't try the game I suppose. Yeah, I think I'll get this when Best Buy has it on sale in a few weeks.

A.T. Hun comments: I just finished the story part myself. Combat is fun. It strikes me as being Wing Commanderish, which shouldn't be a big surprise. I've going to try some trading between systems and see how that goes. If that turns out to be cool (read: Elite enough), the game would be worth buying. I also have to decide if I want to get another Windows game or not.

MMORPGs -- When they End

There's a post over on the Motor City Online website, talking about the planned August closure of Motor City Online. Now, I have never played this game, but this raises an interesting question about these massive-multiplayer online games. When the developers chuck the game, who suffers? When Quakeworld was released oh-so-long ago, the servers were operated by the community, not by the game developers. To this day, much of the 1st persion shooter game servers are community affairs. Thus, even when the game is no longer commercially popular, people who like it can still play. An interesting situation to consider when you get into the latest online-only game.

J.t.Qbe comments: Last weekend I picked up an Everquest CD at Best Buy for two bucks, figuring I'd try the free month and then cancel before paying anything. I don't know if I'll even bother with a month. I found the game to be quite a disappointment. A coworker tells me that it's really not that bad, and he's going to try to get online and give me a tour. We'll see. After the disappointment of Everquest, I fired up Neverwinter Nights again, which initially disappointed me with its single-player game. I downloaded a user created module and wow! It was pretty fun. From what I hear, there are quite a few really good modules available now, all free. I'm going to have to give NWN another shot, I think.

Vidcard update

I just got an email back from Visiontek telling me that I have to RMA my card. Unfortunately they want it shipped in the original packaging (which I know I don't have any more) and say that I have to have the original receipt (which I'm pretty sure I don't have any more). Even worse, I don't have a decent backup card to use for however long it would take for them to fix it. I guess I'm SOL from a warranty standpoint, so I might as well slap a Blue Orb on there and let 'er rip.

The Master comments: I've been considering video cards over the past few months (I have a GeForce 2 32mb card) and I'm leaning away from the Nvidia cards at this point. The technical articles I'm reading all indicate that ATI has finally created a better card for less cash. Bonus. :-)

A.T. Hun comments: Unless you use Linux. NVIDIA's Linux drivers rock everybody's world. ATI has made some advances and their drivers are getting better all the time, but they are still behind NVIDIA's. Having said all this, the only card that matters is the one that runs DOOM III the fastest.

The Master comments: I haven't committed my desktop to Linux yet, so thankfully I don't have to deal with the linux driver issues that have plagued many of the current videocards. I'm still going to wait for Doom III to make up my mind though :-)

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Freelancer First Impression

I really haven't had much time to play the Freelancer demo yet. I got it (and DirectX 9) installed and fired it up. It runs very smoothly on my system at 1024x768 with all the options cranked. It's probably going to take a little while to master the control scheme, but it seems to be very powerful. As I was playing, I kept thinking that it looked like Parsec. Hopefully I can devote a bit more time to it soon.

J.t.Qbe comments: I played it yesterday for an hour or so myself. It works under DirectX 8.1, but I hear that multiplayer requires DX9. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the demo ran very well on my Athlon 800; at 1024x768 with all the options at 75% or so I didn't see any stuttering. The game is very pretty; the graphics are great. Combat is very fast-paced, more like the old X-Wing games rather than the Wing Commanders. Freelancer is trying very hard to be like Privateer and Elite, but with more of a storyline. I'm still not sure how that'll work out; it didn't work too well with Privateer II. And I didn't like that I couldn't skip past any of the cinematics once I'd already seen them.

It's impossible to sum up a game after an hour of play. The beginning of any game is going to be more story-heavy just to get you into the game; I hope that there's more interactivity than I experienced. I didn't get much chance to play with the trading system, since most of the first hour is cinematics and combat. I'll play the demo more this week. Offhand I can say that I probably wouldn't buy this on release day, but would wait for a decent sale. So far it's a good game, but not a desperately-must-have game.

Past Two Days' News

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