Category: Games


New Sherlock Holmes promotional game promises a great time… with friends


If anybody remembers playing co-operatively on Doom or, more recently, Left4Dead, you’ll be familiar with the social networking this engenders. The “I’ve got your back”, “you need that health pack more than me” and “I just ‘accidentally’ shot you in the back” that all that entails, too. Well, there’s a new game in town – 221b, where you have to co-operate.Read More »


Dungeon Keeper


I’ve been on the web today, mainly looking for add-on levels for Dungeon Keeper.  (If you’ve never seen it, pop over to A Nocturne For The Dungeon Keeper and download the demo.)

Add-on levels

Level editors and other Utilities

  • Adikted is a freeware editor.
  • Tim Daish maintains the Dungeon keeper Level Manager and Script Verifier

Strategy guides and walkthroughs

I’ve also been writing my own for ages so expect a few packs of levels to appear here sooner or later…


QEMU


Fabrice Bellard’s excellent QEMU is up to version 0.9.0 (a Windows port is in alpha stage).

So far, QEMU is the first thing I’ve found that runs Windows 98 and Dungeon Keeper properly.  Virtual PC was fast but couldn’t run anything other than the DOS version, and had problems with screen refresh.  Bochs was slow and clunky.  VritualBox couldn’t run the DirectX version either, and wouldn’t run the DOS version at all.  DOSbox was fine – but had problems with the integrated graphics on the laptop.

QEMU was fast, especially with the kqemu acceleration layer (which works fine on Windows Vista Home Premium, folks).  Couldn’t get the networking going, but it wasn’t really too much to worry about – getting the main game going was the main priority.  🙂


Prawn to be wild


First off, apologies for not posting for ages.  I’ve been a bit busy playing the excellent (and extremely daft) Prawn to be Wild series from Weebl – the creator of MTV’s “Wobbl and Bob” if you  didn’t know.

They’re supremely silly and contain adult humour; if you like the Carry On series of films, or the works of Simon Pegg, you’ll like this (note that Weebl also made a game to promote Run Fatboy Run as well).  The ten chapters (so far – there will be twelve of them) are based around the adventures of the character “Insanity Prawn Boy”.  He first appeared in the “On The Moon” series, but this prequel details how he got to the moon.

Everything on the site is in Flash, so should work on Win, Mac and Linux.  (Although I must point out that I had to upgrade to Flash Player 9.0.4.7 to play two of the chapters of Prawn to be Wild.)

Two disclaimers, though: some of the answers to the puzzles are mightily bonkers and take some real lateral thinking.  And it’s all sponsored by T-Mobile, so look carefully and you’ll see some amusing parodies of other networks’ advertising on the wall.  And, of course, if you need a free SIM card, that’s another good reason to go there.


DirectX 10: Microsoft’s all-time biggest mistake?


I was thinking this morning, lying in bed, half asleep, about writing two articles: ten things I like, and ten things I don’t, about Windows Vista.  I got to about number three on the “don’t” list –DirectX 10 – and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it could actually turn out, in the long run, to be the biggest mistake Microsoft’s ever made with the Windows platform: worse that Bob, worse than Windows ME, worse even than the behated Windows Genuine Disadvantage.

So what’s wrong with DirectX 10?  After all, it supports a load of smart new features, such as XInput, XACT, ShaderModel 4 and so on.  It also contains a Direct3D 9 layer, and can run Direct3D 9 games without a problem.

Yes, but not everyone plays just the latest games, do they?  After all, the hardware requirements for most new games tends to be quite beefy – I personally didn’t buy Doom 3 when it first came out, despite my desperate longing for it, because it would have required me to spend about £300 just to meet the minimum required hardware, even though my computer at the time wasn’t that old.

Besides which, everyone has their favourite games from yesteryear that they still play – this is why the Playstations still have backward compatability mode, and why these controllers with hundreds of built in Commodore 64 or Atari games are still so popular.

Take, for example, Carmageddon 2, one of my favourites.  Because DirectSound has been deprecated, and sound is no longer hardware-accelerated (a surefire way to get games to run slower, by the way), C2 runs in total silence.   What’s the point in running over pedestrians if you can’t hear them squelch?  And it really takes the fun out of the pedestrian electro-bastard ray…

And companies are now making both DirectX 9 and DirectX 10 versions of their games.  This is a bit of a disaster for Microsoft, really – it’s back to the days when DirectX was just starting and they were trying to get everyone onto Windows 95 instead of DOS and Windows 3.1.

Oh all right, I know what you’re thinking: I’m whining just because  I can’t play Carma2.  Well, actually, I can.  I just install it in a VirtualPC session on Windows 2000.  What I lose in hardware acceleration (and C2 used to run smoothly on a 300MHz processor with no 3D acceleration) I gain in being able to hear what’s going on.  Problem solved.

But what’s got me thinking that this is a big mistake is something I saw in the supermarket the other day.

Round the corner from me is a shopping park, complete with supermarkets and PC World.  Now the supermarket I usually go into used to have a big display of PC games that took up the same shelf space as the PS3, Wii and XBox 360 allocations combined.  About a week ago, all that changed.

The supermarket has expanded its games range, from two racks to three.  One for PS3, one for Wii, and one for Xbox 360, PSP and Nintendo DS (essentially, that one’s unchanged from before).  PC games are – apparently – stocked on the bottom shelf of the PS3 rack (a rack being about 16 shelves high and 3 feet wide.)  However there isn’t a PC title in sight any more – all the PC titles are now in the bargain section, round the corner.  All one of them.

Well, maybe it’s competition from the PC World round the corner.  After all, they don’t sell console stuff, do they?  Oh, they do.  Ah.

So obviously the supermarket are selling more games, but to console buyers.  And it’s obviously the PS3 and the Wii that are increasing sales.  What Microsoft really don’t need is for their own developers to pull the rug out from under the Windows gaming market, potentially persuading people to go elsewhere.  Especially when your own console is having problems of its own.

Sales of Vista haven’t been going well, by all accounts.  Microsoft have had to capitulate and allow manufacturers to start selling XP once more.  It’s like Windows ME all over again.   For something so hyped, with the advertising suggesting that Vista has the “wow” factor, it’s looking more and more like Vista has the “ow” factor.

What with CNet rating Vista as one of the ten worst tech products of all time (along with the C5,  Atari Jaguar and the Amstrad em@iler), sales of Vista massively down on XP,  grumbles about WPA, moans about poor performance that SP1 won’t solve, five year old bugs coming back to haunt you and the recommended minimum memory for Vista being more than for Windows for Supercomputers,  I’d suggest that if you own shares in Microsoft, now would be the time to sell them, before things get any worse.

So if I were in charge of policy at Microsoft?  It’s quite simple.  I’d be round to the DirectX and SP1 developers with a big stick with a nail through it and a pile of old games.  Then I’d – shall we say suggest? – that until these don’t run, their work ain’t done.




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