spreken zi overclockin?

You guys haven’t heard from me in a few days. That’s 99% the BF2 Demo’s fault. It’s good…. really good. Up until yesterday however I was having some issues running it. I know my system is no slow-poke, but BF2 had to be set really low, 1024×768 at “low” details/textures/etc with no AA, AF and with lighting and shadows turned off, to be exact. That just didn’t seem reasonable. I thought maybe it’s just a really intensive game. Thats until my boss had issues running it too. He has nearly the same rig I do with a slightly older graphics card. We should really be able to play the game at reasonable settings he says. I agreed and started digging.

First thing I did was run some benchmarks. I hate 3DMark and think it’s a bias piece of shit, so I settled on AquaMark. I love AquaMark. Not only is it a “real game scenerio”, it actually gives scores that might make sense, and then breaks them down into easy to understand chunks. Anyway, I ran it and got THIS. That’s a score of 36978 (representing – CPU: 3622, GFX: 7553). Not bad I think. Until I compare it to other systems in my range. Someone with the EXACT same hardware is getting over 60,000. Thats just not right.

So I start asking around. With the help of the fine lads in the AquaMark forums, we determine it’s my VIA drivers. A quick reinstall from the original CD that came with my mobo and now I’m getting THIS. 53396 is MUCH more in range with where I should be. And that’s stock. I haven’t tweaked anything yet. I’m hopinh to break 60,000 by the end of the week.

A little video card driver tweak here, a little RAM timing change there, and I should be cranking out the power.

Oh, and as for the BF2 demo. I went from 1024 at Low, to playing it at 1280 at Med/High with AA and lighting/shadows turned back on. Just goes to show you, sometimes drivers make all the difference.


Something Fishy from EA Comes

This is not mine, I have cut and pasted from a forum post:

One of the big groovy features of BF2 will be the ‘ranking system’. This is a quasi MMORPG like feature where you have persistent ranking based on game scores over time. Your rank will have real ingame benefits like weapon unlocks and highest ranked players get access to the new ‘commander mode’ (one player gets to play the game in a RTS like view controlling artillery, sending commands, UAVs, etc)
….sounds great right?

Here is the catch…you can only earn rank on EA servers. This means anyone who wants to get access to unlocks has to play on the EA servers. Also it means that regular players on unranked servers will always lose access to commander mode from anyone who plays on EA servers (and ‘outranks’ them). Private server Admins will have no access to the ‘locked’ weapons and features.

EA’s only solution for admins is rent servers from EA (I assume at their current rate of $8/slot/month!). EA will hold a monopoly on renting ‘ranked servers’

Here is an EA comment about it from a RealityFriends interview

Q. Can you expand bit more about ranks/stats. The sound of it, reminds me a lot of the honor system in Americas Army. Here are some of my concerns: When the screen with the players on the server comes up, will you be able to see the rank of each player? Will the unlocked weapons be available only in official/rank servers? Will clans be able to lease official servers and will it only be one company’s monopoly? What effect will that have for the private servers, since all the people will be playing in official/rank servers to get their rank up?

A: That was a lot of questions:
– You will be able to see the rank of everyone on both ranked and unranked servers.
– Unlocks will only be available on the ranked servers.
– As mentioned earlier, you will be able to lease official/rank servers.
– We hope that will enjoy the game enough to play it both on ranked and non-ranked servers

EA claims that this is to protect the ‘integrity’ of the ranking system (but of course it is a little fishy that the only avenue for us admins is to rent from them)

I dislike this thought process. Having a game with “unlockables” is great, it increases replay and adds something to strive for, especially in this model where your rank is your badge of honor and you get weapons upgrades and whatnot. But, whats the point of having unlockables if you can’t use them?

“Yeah, I spent 40 hours a week playing on EA’s servers, I’m a 4 star general, but I can’t use the sniper rifle today because I’m playing on a private server.”


What the fuck is that about? If it’s not a server side variable I’m going to be super pissed. Angry enough to send my thoughts to EA directly. And don’t think I don’t have email addresses from the development team either.

I can see their side, they want to maintain a “safe” enviroment for their gamers. Saying, within these specific servers, there will be zero cheating, zero asshats and they’ll always be well maintained and admined. That’s a server I would infact enjoy playing on, and that’s their point. But to make HALF THE GAME the insentive to play there is a little fucking retarded. I probably haven’t explained, but for every class there’s ranks, higher ranks get cooler stuff, etc, just like a RPG. I’m sure as shit not going to be a private for the next 5 years and never play with any of the unlockables.

Let’s say I do decide to play on EAs servers. I get good. I’m a sergeant now. I’ve got a sweet ass shotgun that I like a lot. Now it’s match time. Matches are played on private clan servers. Private servers are unranked and have no access to unlockables. My cool shotgun that I’ve been playing with for the last month, non-existant. I have to step down to the lowest denominator and play with the basic weapons only. Everyone does, making the playing field level. Level, but incredibly boring and not fun.

Way to go Dice/EA, way to fuck your fans. Way to mess with your biggest support group, the clans, the rabid fans who would have done anything for you. And don’t get me started about the lack of CTF. One game mode. Bah. What nonsense.

I’m still looking forward to this game. The demo should be out tomorrow. I will enjoy it completely I’m sure. What I won’t enjoy is the next few months while the hate mail pours into EA headquaters about what fucking retards they are for making HALF A GAME unaccessable to even those who have infact worked hard enough to earn it.

Give it a month. They’ll be a server side patch NOT from EA to unlock everything. I also fully expect a CTF mod within a few months.

I’m done.

The upshot

The major upside to all this talk about Apple switching to Intel chips is that finally you poor Mac bastards will be able to enjoy video games with the rest of us. “But Matt, there’s plenty of great games for the Mac, like Halo and… umm… Halo”. Riiight. And the fact that something like Battlefield 1942 was just published for the Mac this past spring, a mere 5 years after the PC version, means that Mac has a thriving game community too right?

Seriously though, What Jobs did was brilliant in that respect. By having x86 compiled software (for the better part of 4 years) and the development kits to make the executables universal with litteraly 1 check box, you’ve now made a stable, fast, PC-based gaming platform availble to Mac users.

Game development time for the different versions will shift to the development of 1 version with universal application. As it is, PC, XBox and PS2 versions of video games are often written at the same time, because the platforms are similar and not much has to be converted/changed. Those seperate versions are often released weeks/months from each other due to final tweaking, but that seems acceptable to me. Now, you’re practically making the Mac version at the same time you’re making the PC version. Maybe a few tweaks here and there for things like graphics card compatabilites, but now we’re talking weeks and months rather than 5 years. Add to that the fact that Xbox 360 and PS3 games will be even more PC in design, and you’ve got a sweet out look for cross platform, universal game releases.

I’m not nieve enough to think that a Mac version of future PC games won’t take a bit of work. Look at the Linux vs Windows gaming situation. Just because something is x86 doesn’t mean it’s going to magically work. I do think however that if this is addressed in the development phase rather than the “porting” stage, this can save a lot of time and grief. If game designers are already making multiple versions of their games based on console and PC hardware, similar PC hardware shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Now, what that will do to game design is another matter. Creativity will be completely hosed. Game will be more “generic” to be available to the widest spectrum of hardware, software and user bases. But that’s a whole other argument that I don’t have the time or energy to get into at the moment. All I can say is that I hope developers keep pushing their designs into new and exciting games hile making them available to a broad audience. I hope all this good hardware doesn’t go to waste.

Matt out.

Welcome to the club Mac users

After years of going with IBM to produce chips for their computers, Apple is moving to x486 architecture and will begin using chips produce by Intel. I’m sure you’ve already heard of this. Nagle and Chris are up on their Mac news and Chip and Jason are as up on their general geek news as I am. If not, I’m sorry this is how you found out. Please turn you attention to a press release or two.

I’m not surprised in the least. First a move from OS9 to a linux based OSX, then rumors of the Marklar project about their PC compatible software. This has been a long time coming.

I like the part where they say “No, OSX will never be on anything other than Apple hardware” but… “Windows? Well, we wouldn’t stop you”.

Give it 1 year. 2 tops.

If you think people weren’t porting Apple OS to the PC before, just wait until they get their hands on a OSX version written for the x86 platform.

The official company line is that their not getting “into the software buisness” and won’t be selling OSX for PCs. That’s going to fuck’em. You think Microsoft isn’t going to jump at the chance to own not just PCs but Mac desktops as well? They’re going to push Longhorn HARD at Mac users, probably getting a few to switch as well. A lot of people don’t like having a PC at the office and a Mac at home, and this would just add a level of compatibility and reduce their conversion aggravations.

After saying all that, I think it’s a good move with the chips at least. The PowerPC chips are woefully underpowered. I read someone blogging about how the PowerPC chips are more “sophisticated” and contained millions of more calculations a second, or some bullshit like that. Yeah, so that’s why my old 2100+ AMD can open Photoshop faster than a G5 right? Because the Mac is doing it with sophistication? OK.

At least now we can see some real benchmarks. Before all we had were synthetic guesses at what comparable Mac vs PC test were.

If the new Macs have the equivalent of Pentium 4 (or higher) chips in them, they’ll be able to compete neck and neck with the fastest PCs. I would LOVE to see Apple win, and thats not sarcasm. I honestly think a P4 (or P5 at that point) Mac running a x86 version of OSX would be faster than the same P5 running Longhorn. I honestly do. But, since OSX will never be sold to PCs, they’ll be the preverbial “line in the sand” and we’ll all be making the same PC or Mac choice again. Only this time, the playing field is level, the computers are close in speed and you’ll have a choice of OS if you go Mac.

This can go one of two ways. Either comparable machines will go head to head and PCs will win because of Apples enormous price tag OR Apple drops the prices a bit, releases OSX for the PC, and we settle in for a long winter of back and forth competition.

Either way it’s exciting. I say Apple will take 20% of the market away from PC retailers AND will have to release OSX for the PC within 2 years of the first Intel Apples rolling off the line. Thats my prediction.

If I’m wrong, at least I’m not as wrong as this guy, who must be getting snickers all around the office this week.

Peter Glaskowsky, former editor of the Microprocessor Report, is an expert in the semiconductor business. Here’s what he told eWeek about the prospects of Apple switching the Mac to x86 processors:

“It’s a bunch of bull,” Peter Glaskowsky, analyst for The Envisioneering Group, in Seaford, N.Y., told Ziff Davis Internet News. “Firstly, Apple certainly pays much less for IBM and Freescale processors than Intel charges for comparable chips. Probably less than half as much on average. The G5 is a smaller, more efficient chip than the Pentium 4, and IBM has no other customers willing to buy large quantities.”


7th time the charm

I started this post about 6 times already, most of it mundane and stupid so I quit. The result of which is I now have a few different things to mention but that I don’t want to discuss any of them in great detail. I probably will anyways, such is the nature of the beast.

As some (none) of you might have heard, Battlefield 2 has gone gold. It’s ship date is the 21st. I’ve had my preorder for quite sometime now. The DVD special edition with bonus usb headset will be on its way soon. I can’t say I’m excited because that wouldn’t be doing it justice. It’s already gotten E3 Game of the Year by about 4 different media outlets. From everything I’ve read, watched, studied about it, it will truely be a great step in gaming history. If any of you can break yourselves away from World of Warcraft for 30 seconds, I urge you to at least try the demo, which will be out next week.

I can’t even put into words the number of cool things involved in this game. Hell, I couldn’t even do that for the original. If you’ve NEVER played any of this and I’m just rambling, indulge me for just one brief second…

You, and 60 of your closest friends, on dynamically changing terrain, can do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g… You can grab a gun (from on of 8 classes), and seek out the enemy on foot. You can take control of a 40 ton Abrams M1 battle tank and level the town. You can jump into one of the attack helicopters and rain hellfire missles down apon unsuspecting ground troops. You can take a JSF and Mig jet and dog fight with fully interactive cockpits. Alternatively, you can support anyone else doing any of the above. You can be an engineer and repair damaged tanks, you can be a medic and heal wounded soldiers, you can be heavy assault class and give ammo to all your friends. You can blow up bridge with c4 as a special ops class, you can repair/rebuild them as the engineer. This goes way beyond normal “class” system game play. Each division has a specific roll to play (if they choose to) and you team can take advantage of these to win. Or, conversely, you can take up a gun and just shoot other people, which is equally fun. Battlefield 1942 was revolutionary in the way that you could choose what you wanted to do. You weren’t stuck on foot or in a vehicle and you weren’t limited to a single strategy to win. Deathmatch this is not. Battlefield 2 takes all that “total interactivity” and adds beautiful graphics, a serious kick ass physics engine, more options for every option, and most importantly, a complete sense of teamwork, the thing most online game lack completely.

Have you played CS (or CS:S) and it’s a one man show? “That guy” has a score of 1000 and everyone is kinda just running at each other guns blasing. That is the opposite of BF2. The basic game is “conquest”, or “control and hold” would be more accurate. Capture points are scattered high and low and you must control them to make the other team “lose tickets” or points. When the tickets reach 0, you lose. You can’t take a control point by yourself (at least not easily), which makes some sort of team interaction a must. Even if it’s just “run guns blazing” in a group, atleast you’re doing it with other people.

Anyway, it’s going to rock. I really can’t explain it any more than that. I’ll be playing it, and probably talking about it, for the next few years. I hope to at least see some of you on the battlefield. You don’t have to stay long if you don’t like it. To each their own.

So… battlefield leads me to my team and that leads me to Nagle.

Nagle has been working hard on a new set of logos for me and my crew. I came up with the basic idea and he ran with it. They’re turning out fantastic and I’m very excited about them. Watch this space shortly (probably next week) for a preview of what I’m talking about. I certainly appreciate all his hard work. The look really kick ass. Thanks Nagle.

That’s about all I’ve got time for, Lauren and I are hanging out with Ashley and some friends tonight.