Flea Market Finds

23:30 by akylas. Filed under: Games,Videos

Every Sunday, I attend a flea market close to my home, and have been doing it for about six or so years now. It’s about ten minutes away from my house so it’s incredibly convenient. There is not particular theme to this flea market (e.g. electronics, furniture, etc), so many of the tables are simply mini-yard sales. This means extensive variety on what you can find there some weekends.

This past Sunday I ran across an interesting selection of CDs, with half of them being imported from Asia. From what I could tell, they to be of Chinese origin, although that was just a simple guess.

The first interesting one appears to be a Chinese TV show from the 90′s.

Chinese Show (Flea Market)

Chinese Show

The purpose or topic of the show is unclear from the front or back of the case. I am guessing 90′s due to the quality of the video screen captures on the case and known dates of other CDs within the overall collection, and not really indicative of anything else. I have not tried this out yet, but I believe it’s a VCD so I should be able to throw it in a DVD player that couldn’t care less about regions, or simply toss it in my computer.

The second highlight of this collection is some sort of flight simulator or air combat arcade game. It might also be a collection of games.

Chinese Flight Simulator

Flight / Combat Simulator / Arcade

On the back it appears to list many aircraft, but these could be additional games or demos included on the disk. It looks relatively interesting, but the last one certainly takes the cake on the import CDs I picked up:

Chinese Simcity 3000

Chinese Simcity 3000

It’s a Chinese version of Simcity 3000. Whether it’s legitimate, a pirate version, or a knock-off is unclear. The front of it is certainly unique, and I didn’t even realize it was a Simcity-esque game until I got back into my car after purchasing it. Conducting a quick search on Google for any Chinese Simcity 3000 box art images yielded no results.

I definitely want to load up a Virtual Machine with Windows XP and give these finds a shot.



Interesting old id Software videos

18:55 by akylas. Filed under: Games

Ran across a couple sets of id Software videos while working on my research project that some may find interesting. First is a video tour of the id Software office back in November 1993. Much of the video is taken up by John Romero playing a near-finished version of Doom. A lot changed in that last month of development, as you can tell by the videos:

A Visit to id Software
Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pek_JxmPonM
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDdrg-z4cA8
Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krESUsuQMto
(Originally posted by John Romero at: http://rome.ro/wordpress/?p=52)

The second set of videos is a documentary of id Software by machinima.com:

All Your History: id Software
Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YreEwtV7D0
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uvh1aZId_4
Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZazceTEVufg
Part 4 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VPzu0Ehqwc
Part 5 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYKKvnKQkkE

There are quite of few other companies / games covered in their “All Your History” series that I have yet to watch. They certainly look promising based from the first couple parts I’ve watched of the id Software series.



Happy 15th Birthday Team Fortress !

23:03 by akylas. Filed under: Games

Today remembers a monumental day in gaming history that occurred 15 years ago. Robin Walker, John Cook, and Ian Caughley posted the announcement for the first version of their Quake C mod to the newsgroup rec.games.computer.quake.announce. This mod was Team Fortress and it would quickly become of the two most popular mods to grace the Quake community.

Fan-created Team Fortress Banner

Fan-created Team Fortress Banner

Team Fortress began only a month prior, the instant John Carmack and his team at iD software released Quake C to the public (the Quake C source and compiler). This opened the door to the community the creation of many forthcoming mods and patches and would keep the Quake series one of the most popular multiplayer games until Counter-strike took the stage four years later. Robin and his team already knew the plan, they just needed to get to work and build it.

From: walker@netspace.net.au (Robin)
Newsgroups: rec.games.computer.quake.announce
Subject: Multiple PlayerClasses QuakeC Patch.
Date: 22 Aug 1996 12:01:30 +0100

Announcing TeamFortress v1.0: (Excerpt from readme)

* TeamFortress v1.0 *

TeamFortress is a new QuakeC patch which radically changes
team games. It provides far more incentive for teams to
actually work as a team. Each member of the team has unique
weapons, items, and abilities.

Player Classes

TeamFortress uses multiple player classes. Whenever a new map
is loaded, all players start as an Undefined class. This
class has 1 health, an axe, and cannot pick up anything. Once
a player class is chosen, you cannot change class for the rest
of that level. To choose a class, just use the appropriate
impulse. (See Impulse Summary)

The classes implemented so far are as follows:

SCOUT: Fastest moving class. Can only wear a small amount of
the lowest absorption armor. Limited to the 2 Shotguns and
Nailgun. Low ammo levels.
Carries a Motion Detector, 2 grenades, 3 concussion grenades.

SNIPER: Medium speed. Wears only small amount of armor,
upto medium absorption level. Limited to Nailgun and Sniper's
rifle. Medium ammo levels.
Carries 2 grenades.

SOLDIER:Slowest moving class. Wears large amount of armor,
at all absorption levels. All normal weapons except Grenade
Launcher. High ammo levels.
Carries 4 grenades, 4 nail grenades.

DEMOLITION MAN: Medium speed. Wears medium amount of armor,
upto medium absorption level. Uses the ShotGun and
Grenade/Pipebomb Launcher. Carries 1 DetPack, 6 grenades, 4
Mirv Grenades.

COMBAT MEDIC: Medium speed. Wears medium amount of armor,
upto medium absorption level. Uses both Shotguns and the
Super Nailgun. Carries Medikit, 3 grenades, 2 concussion
grenades. Regenerates slowly.


Uploaded to ftp,cdrom.com and ftp.stomped.com
Source included, no progs.dat.

This is a _team_ patch. It is a lot of fun to play single player,
or deathmatch, (especially the sniper's rifle :), but it is
designed for team games.
If you've got a bunch of friends and play games regularly on a
LAN, this is the patch you've been looking for.

(If I may say so myself :)
Robin. (Bro in Quake)
"Can you help me remember how to smile? Make it somehow all
seem worthwhile? How on earth did I get so jaded? Life's
mysteries seem so faded..."

Even though the team was quick on their feet, it would take another five months before the community began to blossom. Many game developers and publishers took interest in the mod, with the team getting offers for further development by iD software, and then Valve. The team was so amazed by the Half-Life engine that they abandoned their plans with iD software and started three month contracts at Valve to port Team Fortress to their Half-Life engine. Their contracts turned into full-time positions as the Valve team was impressed with their work. On April 7, 1999, this game released to the public under the banner ‘Team Fortress Classic’. While TFC was being ported, the team had already started the development of Team Fortress 2, who’s process actually started before iD software approached the team.

There would be many iterations of Team Fortress 2, with at least three confirmed different designs, all drawing different inspiration from Valve and the original Team Fortress team. Not much was heard from Valve about Team Fortress 2 after they abandoned their first design, ‘Brotherhood of Arms’ from 2001 to 2006. Many considered the game to be vaporware and ended up believing it would never release. In reality, the team spent this time hashing out ideas, and also working on the company’s next hit: Half-Life 2. It’s at this stage that Valve opened the curtain at the 2006 EA Summer Showcase event and revealed the Team Fortress 2 that we know today. It would release a little over a year later on October 9, 2007 as part of Valve’s Orange Box offering.

TF2 - TF 15th Birthday Image

Courtesy of Valve Software

Happy Birthday Team Fortress.



Google Music Beta

00:23 by akylas. Filed under: Software

About two months I was accepted into the Google Music Beta. I signed up while on my Chromebook, and while I like to think Google gives preference to those who sign up for their betas on Chrome OS machines, I doubt that’s really the case. One would think that would be the case, right?

Once you’re accepted into the Beta, you’re given access to the web portal and the desktop application.

Google Music Beta User Interface

Google Music Beta User Interface

All the desktop application is responsible for is uploading your music back into the Google cloud. You simply specify the location to find your music and if it detects any in there (of a certain format), it’ll upload them. It really does nothing else, and that’s not really saying a bad thing. Also of note, I would expect Google would do a checksum of your song and correlate that to the same song someone else might’ve uploaded, but that’s not the case. All your music has to be individually uploaded. It does take quite some time, even if you’re on Cable/DSL.

As far as the web interface is concerned, it looks and works great. It’s pretty simplistic on what you would expect for a media manager: It simply just lets you listen to your music, and does not offer much else as far services, which I like. It does not shove recommended music in your face, or populated your library with music that’s not really yours. The website works on all the web browsers I’ve tried thus far (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox) without a hitch, although I would expect this from Google.

Google also has produced applications for their Android devices that allow you to listen to the same library, over 3G or over WiFi. I tested it out on a Samsung Galaxy S II, and despite it’s choppy interface, it works pretty well! It’s a bit heard to navigate and occasionally gets hung up, but this is their beta of course.

Overall it has helped me in many circumstances where I found oddly myself without a device that has my music library on it, or if those devices are dead. I only have approximately 130 songs in my online library at the moment. I hope to add more, but I probably won’t until I find myself sick of my selections on there at the moment. Whether or not I’d pay for this service, I’m not sure. It certainly comes in handy when using my Chromebook, but for all other situations I usually have my Zune on me.



CR-48: The Google Chromebook

23:20 by akylas. Filed under: Hardware

A couple months ago I probably received one of the last CR-48 Chromebooks that Google was distributing to developers for testing their now released Chrome OS platform. I have to say, the hardware is pretty sleek.

CR-48: The Google Chromebook

The entire notebook is matte, with what almost feels like to be simple plastic. It feels cheap, yet nice at the same time. Even though the notebook is almost a matte finish, it certainly does its fair share of collecting fingerprints. I guess you can always expect that with all laptops though.

The laptop itself is rather small; Only slightly bigger than many of the netbooks you see today. The screen is a little on the cheaper side, but it certainly does the job (especially for a free device for that matter). The viewing angle on it is surprisingly limited, but when you’re using it like a notebook and don’t have it propped up anywhere else, it’s perfectly fine.

The keyboard is probably my favorite part of the notebook. The keys are very square and relatively low compared to the bezel. It feels almost as nice as the Macbook Pro keyboard, and pretty much looks just like it, except the letters do not light up.

CR-48 Keyboard

The battery life is fairly excellent, although the device is always either on or in a hibernated state, such that when you open the laptop up, it does its one to two second fast boot and brings you right to the login screen. Due to this, when the laptop is shut, and you decide to not use it for several weeks, it will eventually drain. That’s not really a complaint though because I’d hope you won’t have one and run into this situation. I can imagine this behavior with the battery easily carrying over to all other Chromebooks available now.

The only caveat I’d have to say with these devices is the odd charging problem that they have. When you plug in the power adapter into the unit, you have to plug it in very slowly until you see the orange charging light. Once you do, you can push it in all the way and you’re fine. If you immediately push it in all the way, the device will not charge, but it will be powered. It was quite strange and took me a while to figure out.

All in all, pretty great hardware. Even better since it was free. I certainly prefer this size and design over any other netbook available. Soon I’ll be discussing more about Chrome OS.

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