Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Chaos Before The Storm

What a difference a weekend makes. I spent the weekend quietly and was not aware of a major news that broke out from an interview. By the time I heard about it, it was Sunday evening and was rather surprised by it. Well, not really... still, it was a bit of a surprise.

Infinity Ward, the developers to Call of Duty 4, is changing how PC players find games/rounds online for their multi-player experiences in their direct sequel: Modern Warfare 2. The change is simply this: no dedicated servers. In place of this and with the help of Valve's Steam platform is IWNET, a multi-player platform that supposedly help get players into the game as quickly as possible and as painlessly as possible. What it's going to do is turn the multi-player experience to like what people find in console systems like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. You end up with a match-making system where they decide for you where you should group up with based on your so-called skill.

Long-time PC gamers and FPS players would know that this kind of system would never work. Even if it has been tried before, it has never worked according to the developer's intention. With the removal of dedicated servers in Modern Warfare 2, an outpouring of protest, proposed boycott, and mostly anger have flooded the PC gaming sites around the world. It has reached the ears of IGN. It has the attention of PBBans. And it has placed immense pressure on Infinity Ward's community manager, Robert Bowling, who broke the said news about IWNET and the absence of dedicated servers.

Yet while all of this primarily affected PC gamers, Xbox 360 players have almost nothing to worry about. But they should worry to some extent. Much of how PC gaming has evolved can be found in many of today's games. Much of how PC gaming started can be found in many of today's games. Many properties seen in console FPS games can be traced back to the early days of PC gaming. This is because Infinity Ward was founded on the Call of Duty games and PC games in general. Why should the console players care about this? A history lesson is needed, for all you young whipper-snappers! Best you show some respect to your elders! *waves walking cane around*

A long, long time ago, a game called Wolfenstein 3D was released as a shareware. Developed by id Software and published by Apogee, it was a successful title that prompted a little known sequel called Spear of Destiny. But id Software was hard at work on making the next game. It would be the game that started it all and changed the face of gaming. That game would be heralded as DOOM. DOOM brought us fast-paced action FPS and gave us the first glimpse of deathmatch. After DOOM and DOOM II, Quake was unleashed and the possibilities were expanded exponentially. Various modifications to the game were released from maps to new game modes to rewriting the entire story altogether. It was the game that gave us Capture the Flag and Team Fortress 2. The people responsible for Team Fortress would go on to develop the Team Fortress Classic modification for Half-Life and eventually be designers for Team Fortress 2. Bungie's project with Halo, which lasted many years, would eventually become a Microsoft Xbox exclusive. The game became the icon for Microsoft's Xbox platform and spawned 2 sequels plus one title based on the Halo universe.

No matter how you look at it, much of how gaming is today is all thanks to how PC gaming has evolved over the years. We would never have Battlefield 1942 if it weren't for Starsiege: TRIBES, where the aspect of a large map can be found on both games. We would never have Unreal Tournament without Quake 3 Arena competing with it for multi-player dominance. But there is a common theme that all of the aforementioned games. All of them except DOOM/DOOM II have a dedicated server. The presence of a dedicated server has remained a standard feature amongst the majority of FPS games today, which not only help centralize where people play but also help stabilise overall ping times.

So as the day go by and the outcry rages on, I watch from a distance. I do not know if there will be changes. I do not know if sales will plummet. But I do know one thing. Infinity Ward has lied and spat in the face of thousands of PC gamers everywhere. Not that it matters much for me, as I have no intention of getting the game in the first place, dedicated server or not. Still, this is something that people have expressed anger and disappointment over. One has to wonder how things will turn out as the release date inches closer.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The OLD Efficiency

As Microsoft makes its way around the country (of USA that is) to promote Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2, I had the chance to attend their "technical briefing" at the Boston, Massachusetts location. The reason why is simple: score a free copy of Windows 7. Is there any other reason? Well, getting to know a little about some of the stuff that is coming soon and new is also good. But sadly I am not much of a programmer.

There are two different sessions. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning was geared towards developers. The afternoon was geared towards IT people. I attended both, mostly. After the session was over, the people walked out and were handed a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, an interesting surprise as Windows 7 Ultimate is Microsoft's highest tiered edition of Windows and contains everything that Home Premium and Professional has and then some.
As I have opted to depart early during the afternoon session, I went to the registration desk to attempt at redeeming a 2nd copy of Windows 7. And it worked. I now have 2 copies for which I can use. And here I thought I would walk away with 1 in the end. But it turns out that wasn't the case. It did not even occur to me what I will be getting, which you will know in a bit.
After a train ride home and then settling down, I had no time to really install it as I had to prepare the main rig for installing. That means backing up various files and making sure I don't lose any settings. After dinner and after looking over to see what else is needed to be preserved, I put the disc in and rebooted. After a format and a couple of reboot, the rig got to the desktop and the first thing I did to check is the System Properties. This is what I found:

I could not believe it. I spent several hours listening to them promoting and hyping their stuff and all I got was a 32bit install disc?! Well, it does say 32bit disc on the DVD. Yet you'd think Microsoft would be smart enough to promote x64 (aka 64-bit) and try to phase out x86 (aka 32-bit). C'mon man. That's just plain retarded. You call that the "New Efficiency"?? That's not new. That's OLD.

So take a good guess on what I had to do. Yep, I had to look for a torrent for the x64 build of the same OS. Can't Microsoft anticipate that people would prefer the x64 build over the x86 build? Microsoft is trying to push their Windows 7 certification to include 64bit, a sign that they want to push 64bit so that the hardware works in 64bit version of Windows 7. How do they expect the people who attended these events to help push forward the progress of 64bit computing when we're given 32bit code on disc? This is the most pathetic and retarded thing I have ever went through. Never mind the fact that I got it for free. If I was stuck with 32bit Windows 7, it would be worthless to me even as free! There's no point in going with 32bit Windows if the hardware of today that run Vista is more than capable of handling a 64bit operating system.

It's quite moronic that I have to resort to looking for an illegal copy of Windows 7 x64 when I have a legitimate key. I could have understood the distribution of the 32bit OS had this happen 2-3 years ago. But with today's hardware and software, a 64bit OS should be the preferred form, instead of being spoon-fed 32bit code. I would have been just fine had Microsoft gave people options to get a 64bit ISO or disc using some redemption method. But nooooooooooooooooooo.... Bunch of idiots...

Friday, October 02, 2009

My First Dual-Layered Burn

For a very long time, I have been using single-layered DVD+/-R blanks to burn all of my medias and files. However, some of the files I have go beyond the usual 4.5GB mark. Unfortunately, I cannot simply split them off and try to make two discs out of them. It doesn't seem all that practical to me. But I am starting to run low on space due to all the downloads and archiving of various files. Added to the fact that I'll likely be reinstalling Windows 7 come Monday (or later, depending on how quickly Microsoft dispatches the CD keys), I have to make sure that whatever data that sits on the drive is backed up. Otherwise, I'll be missing a lot of things in the event that something goes wrong or I had to reinitialize the RAID array that was supposed to be my gaming hard drive.

The first burn contain only one file. It's a movie of "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly" that is encoded in 720p H264. Having watched this movie from start to finish a while ago, it was great being able to actually see this old classic in high-definition glory. I should try to watch the other movies such as "A Fistful of Dollars." Maybe I should try considering a quick run of Netflix since that seems to be a far simpler and easier solution than trying to find it at a local Best Buy or Blockbuster location.

The actual write to this dual-layered medium is already finished. However, I wanted to verify that the information sitting on the hard drive matches that to what's written on the disc itself. Hopefully, it's all good and well and I have no error. One unexpected issue came up, as I have tried to set the write speed to 2x in order to ensure the best writing quality possible. It borked at me and defaulted to 4x write speed, which is my drive's top speed for dual-layered writing to DVD+R DL mediums. The discs I purchased is able to go up to 8x but who knows how reliable that write speed is. I feel better knowing that taking it slow will guarantee that the data remains intact and the writing quality is top-notch. It's weird, though, because I have an old NEC drive that has served me very well for the past several years and it has performed admirably for writing and reading. It's quiet and it's reliable.

Perhaps when the verify process is done, I'll give the movie another view. Maybe...