Understandable standards for system and components

I love this Tech Report article on setting standards for computer systems and components, but don’t have any idea how we could make this reality.

Discrete or integrated, nobody knows what graphics solution to choose anymore. No, I’m not talking about people like you and me who actually read hardware reviews. I’m talking about the vast majority of the market, composed of regular, non-technical people who simply want to buy or upgrade a computer. That apparently simple task has become an ordeal. I mean, you know there’s a problem when even my most computer-literate friends come to me for clarification—and I often can’t help without looking at Scott’s graphs.

I confess this is even true for me, and I try to keep myself moderately well informed of what is going on in the world of graphics cards. I’m still running an nVidia 670 card in my desktop, and would love to upgrade (don’t need to, but I want to), but I don’t have the time right now to properly evaluate the current generation and make sure I get something that’s a legitimate upgrade while still maintaining a reasonable spending budget.

Skyrim best mods?

I’ve started playing Skyrim again. The kids love it. I love it. It’s just a really well-crafted game. So now I’m looking over the newest Steam Workshop mods available for Skyrim. There have been loads of good community add-ons done since I stopped playing a few months. Anyone have recommendations of the best game enhancements? I love mods which add to the atmosphere of the game, simplify gameplay, or which make small but nice tweaks to the overall game experience. I’m not looking for anything to make my characters super powerful from the beginning.

As examples of what I like and use, I have the Stones of Barenziah Quest Markers mod. I use Unread Books Glow. I find something like Towns and Villages Enhanced to be nearly mandatory. And Realistic Ragdolls and Force just makes beating enemies a tad more realistic without increasing gore and so adds a nice bit to the play. I also have a few audio/music mods to increase ambiance, and some map mods to improve the quality and usefulness of the in-game map. So with these as my primary interest, can anyone suggest some more really handy mods for the game?

Bejeweled Twist quick-impression

I just downloaded PopCap game‘s newest – Bejeweled Twist.  The first couple versions of Bejeweled games grabbed me right away.  This one?  Meh.

But then, I decided to start paying attention to what the game was offering.  The concept is simple – spin a set of four jewels, try to get three in a row.  It lacks the immediacy of the original, but it gives some new twists that add depth and strategy.  Here’s a video someone else made showing a bit of gameplay.

Read more of what I saw in the game below the hump. Continue reading “Bejeweled Twist quick-impression”

Disappointing game launches

The all time 5 worst game launches? Honestly, that’s a list that has to be tough to narrow down to just 5.  Still, 1Up has managed to highlight the worst offenders.  One managed to recover quite nicely and become one of the highest rated games of all time, but the delivery and verification process at release was insanely bad.

2. Steam/Half-Life 2

Yes, yes, we all love Steam now. It’s the model of digital distribution and community management in PC gaming right now, utterly shaming Microsoft’s embarrassingly inept Games for Windows Live initiative. But back in the day, we were even harsher on Valve than we now are on Microsoft — because the official launch of Steam on November 16, 2004, which coincided with the launch of Half-Life 2, was an utter nightmare.

Wall-of-text warning on the original article, though.  Seems the web-layout folks might want to educate the writers on the importance of more paragraphs and other visual breaks.

[tags]1Up, Half-Life, Worst game launches, Gaming[/tags]

How to solve Indiana Jones on the Atari 2600

My brother just sent me a link to a SharkBait article which references an old VHS video series from Vestron Video in 1982 that tells you how to beat a variety of Atari 2600 games.  The article has this Raiders of the Lost Ark game guide, and since I remember so well playing the game, I thought I’d put it here so I can always remember how great it was (well, always meaning until YouTube removes the video or shuts down).

If you click on that video and go to the YouTube patch, you’ll find links to other video guides, plus a number of other Atari 2600 game-related videos.  Oddly, when I look there is a link to a “worst games on the 2600” video, which suggests Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the worst games on the Atari 2600.  The video below that is the video guide for the game Superman, which actually is on my list of worst Atari 2600 games ever.

If you’d like to know more about the Raiders game shown in the video, I highly recommend Atari Age as the source for pretty much all 2600 and other Atari console information.  Click on the little Pac-Man looking icon in the top right corner of the screen to get the ROM, and then get the open source emulator Stella for running it.

[tags]Atari, 2600, Atari 2600, Emulator, Game, Gaming, Console, Raiders of the Lost Ark, YouTube, Vestron[/tags]

CryENGINE2 vs. reality

See how powerful the CryENGINE2 is, assuming you have a sufficiently powerful machine to drive this.

[gametrailers 31022]

Not as good as looking out real-world locations, but extremely impressive for a game engine.  Most of the engine driven stuff is flatter or duller than the real-world video, but I’m still looking forward to being able to run something with CryENGINE2 when I make my next system upgrade.  (via Joystiq)


I hadn’t even heard of this game before, but Sumotori looks worth trying just based on these videos and the 96K download size. In fact, if you are still stuck on a 1200 baud modem connection and find 96K too large (psssst – this page is bigger than that), you can instead get a tiny 29K version.

Drunk cubism fighters? Sign me up.

[tags]Sumotori, Gaming, YouTube, Drunken Cubism[/tags]

Wii-remote head-mounted virtual-room tracking

This is simply awesomesauce in a little controller.  While catching up on my Penny-Arcade reading for the day (and by the way, might I recommend the PennyPacker extension to you if you are a Mozilla user), I caught this video of a project to make a head-mounted device to give a user the visual sensation of a truly three-dimensional image on a monitor.

The first minute or so of the video might seem a bit boring, but it’s a setup for a really neat demonstration of the effect of real spatial movement effecting the display.  I tried snagging some images from the video to show the effect, but it’s the motion and not the image that makes the effect so cool.  In motion, parts of the image do appear to stand several feet out from the screen, and moving forward will put you behind those parts of the view so you don’t see them any more.

[tags]Penny Arcade, Head mounted display, 3D enabling technology, Wii, Nintendo, Sensor bar[/tags]

Gordon Freeman calls Coast-to-Coast AM

Man, this is hilarious.  Have you ever listened to the kook-show Coast-to-Coast AM?  Well, listen as Gordon Freeman, of the Black Mesa Research Facility, calls in and shares concerns about a mysterious person at his workplace that he and security-guard buddy Barney call the G-Man.

That’s just rich, isn’t it?

[tags]Gordon Freeman, Barney, Security, GMan, G-Man, Half-Life 2, Coast to Coast[/tags]