February 2, 2009
January 22, 2007
Notwithstanding their popularity, I haven’t been much of a one for MMORPGing. About the only Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game that I’ve played consistently in the past has been Puzzle Pirates 🙂 While I loved the puzzles in Puzzle Pirates, the monotonous nature of having to play the same puzzles over and over again finally got to me and I gave up.
Since then, since most MMORPGs are fee-based (and because I just didn’t have the time to devote to them) I’ve stayed away from them. Stayed away that is, till a couple of days ago when I read about Second Life. I downloaded the client and tried it out but found it to be utterly boring – not to mention very, very slow :p If you want to have a virtual life pretty much the same as your normal life, Second Life is ideal – all you do is find a job, build a house, talk to people … that kind of thing – boring :p I uninstalled Second Life after the second time of trying it.
But, my appetite whetted for online games, I went in search of other games to try. That was when I came across Pirate King Online. I loved the colourful, cartoony graphics and since the game said that it was going to be free for ever, I decided to give it a try. Of course, the client turned out to be 300MB and it took me about a day (with the slow broadband we have over here :p) to download it. Once I downloaded the client and installed it, it found more updates on the server and started downloading those. Once that was done, I was finally able to get in and I must say, I really enjoyed what I found in there 🙂
It’s an interesting fantasy world full of creatures to fight, skills to unlock and lots and lots of quests. This is the kind of game that I actually like. One where there are set missions and you have things to do and ways to level up. Of course, if you want the usual virtual life stuff, I believe you can set up a stall and become a merchant or offer other services. But for the moment, I’m content to simply play the various missions and to level up 🙂
April 29, 2004
My Favourite Waste of Time …
Actually, what my favourite waste of time is, is a question since there are so many :p As I mentioned in the previous post, of late, the problem has been finding the time to do anything because I seem to have accumulated a lot of ways to waste time 🙂 And the funny thing is, that in the beginning I actually seemed to have the time for all of this but suddenly I find that I have so many things to do and not enough time to do it all in. I blame the Internet :p
You think that’s an exaggeration? Not at all. Just take a look at the list of my most recent wastes of time and you’ll see why I blame the Net. First there are the TV shows. I had a few shows that I loved when I was in the US but once I got back to Sri Lanka, I ever gave up hope of seeing those shows. Then came one fine day when I realized that all these shows are available on the Net for download and all I had to do was get them off the Net and I could keep up with the shows almost as soon as they were aired in the US! So now I’m busily watching 24, Gilmore Girls, Monk, Smallville and Star Gate whenever there is a new show and that keeps me busy through the week 🙂 Actually, in the case of Gilmore Girls, we actually get the fourth season (which is on air in the US as well) here in Sri Lankan television but they are a bit behind in Sri Lanka and so I prefer to get my show from online and then watch it again when it goes on TV :p
Then there were the comics. Again, something I’d had access to in abundance when I was in the US. Here, it’s hard to get your hands on comics. Then I discover that that too is available online for download :p Not only that, but I discovered that I could get hard to find collections like Marvel’s "Infinity War" or the "Infinity Gauntlet" or any of DC’s Elseworld’s titles, fairly easily online. The only problem? They seem to be either archives of JPG collections or files in the comic book reader format (CBZ or CBR), which are just renamed ZIP or RAR files. I simply hate having to go through JPG collections and reading it file by file – yeah, nothing to get so upset about but call me finicky :p So, what I do is extract all the JPG files from their archives and then use Adobe Professional to combine them all in one PDF file which I name a specific way and then add to my collection. Yes, I’m anal and I create most of my own work :p
The latest waste of time came about of course when I discovered that I could get old DOS games from the Net and better yet, get their Amiga versions which look better and even play better as long as you can configure the Amiga emulator correctly. So now, I sit at home on an evening playing Lemmings when I don’t have a comic to go through or a TV show to watch 🙂
And those are just the latest of my wastes of time 🙂 There are the existing ones like watching movies – I just bought 13 DVD’s last Saturday since the pirate DVD trade is booming in Sri Lanka and you can buy the latest Hollywood releases for something like US$ 3 :p And guess how many of those 13 movies I’ve seen so far? One! Yeah, there just is too little time in the world :p
April 26, 2004
Return of the Prodigal
Yes, I am not dead …yet :p And I had to think long and hard about where to post this one since my main blog at The Developer’s Corner has been inactive as well for the longest of times. I finally decided that the post should go here since this post has nothing at all to do with development but the original dilemma arose from the fact that I did have a lot to say about why I haven’t done any development work in a while :p Ah well, guess there are always going to be such cases where you can’t figure out which blog gets the post when you have multiple blogs. Maybe I should go back to a combined blog? This might actually make sense when I combine Blog and BlogMan (whoops, that sounds like a development related statement … see what I mean?)
Anyway, the situation has been like this – my routine has changed so much that I really haven’t had much time for blog entries .. there is always just too much to do. So I kinda stopped making SM entries and then The Developer’s Corner went into neglect as well since I didn’t have time to code any longer either. I’ve been working on two different fronts – one is my regular job and the other is a separate project that I got involved in as part of my job. This second project has gradually taken up more and more of my time until during the the last month I was even working weekends to get things ready for the Sri Lankan elections which were to be held at the beginning of April. The elections have come and gone and things have calmed down a bit now but I still don’t seem to find the time to update my blog or to do any coding since the two jobs continue to go on. I have decided to try and make more regular updates though since otherwise my two blogs that I seemed to be so religious about updating would just die a natural death. However, I think I really must think about combining The Developer’s Corner and SM. This actually would allow me to make more frequent updates and still try to somewhat keep things on topic since the topic can once again be anything at all :p
So what have I actually been doing? Well just last week, my friend Robin and I were discussing old DOS games – games that we both used to enjoy but hadn’t played in ages. The nostalgic trip down memory lane got me thinking about some of the games I really loved and suddenly, I had a hankering to play some of them. I’d already tried to play a few them, like Gods, on Windows XP but had found the game to be slow and I didn’t really feel like going through that again. However, I suddenly realized that there might be a virtual machine or an emulator around for DOS which might allow me to play the games as they were meant to! My search resulted in me finding DOSBox – an emulator for DOS on Windows (as well as a host of other platforms actually …) – just what I was looking for! My tests with DOSBox were less than satisfactory though since Gods still seemed to run much slower than I remembered. However, I did bag a whole bunch of old DOS games from the Web since there were a lot of abandonware sites which had all my old favourites for download 🙂
Somewhere along the way, I stumbled across an Amiga emulator – WinUAE. I have no clear recollection as to how that happened now. I realized after some reading that all I needed to run Amiga games was this emulator, an Amiga ROM image and some other little bits and pieces which I was able to get together fairly quickly. I found that there was a whole slew of Amiga games available for download and that all of my old DOS favourites were there in Amiga format too 🙂 Unfortunately, my first attempts at getting an Amiga game running on WinUAE weren’t very successful but this was mostly due to my total lack of knowledge of both Amigas and WinUAE. I finally stumbled upon the correct way to set things up in WinUAE so that I can run a game and my first game was Deliverance. I was so hooked by the game (yes, even though it was ancient :p) that I played it till about midnight on Friday!
Over the weekend, I perfected my configuration of WinUAE for playing Amiga games and was able to get a few of my old favourites like Gods, Lemmings, The Lost Vikings and Chaos Engine working just fine on it. The game play is as good as ever, there is no speed difference and the best thing of all, the games take only a few megs on my hard disk! What more can one ask for? :p
May 17, 2003
I was planning to do some work on the Blog code today but a friend of mine asked me to take a look at an HTML page she’d done since the page wasn’t working properly, and I got sidetracked. She was using a lot of layers and one layer was not aligning properly. Now a simple word of warning, if the following sounds condescending or patronizing, I can only say that it wasn’t meant to be – I hate people being oh-so-high-and-mighty-just-because-they-know-something-that-others-don’t and try not to be that way myself but sometimes I get the feeling that I come across as if I am what I hate most. Well, anyway, this was not meant to sound like that :p The problem she had (and the situation itself) was an interesting one and so I thought of writing about it. She had over 20 DIV layers each nested within the other and when she gave me the source code to look at, I didn’t realize this was the case. I however, am unable to take a look at code and then simply decide what was wrong – I always need to putter around a bit with the code before I get a "feel" for it. So I began reformatting the source so that the tags would be indented and so I would be able to figure out if there were any non-terminated tags. The end result? I ended up removing all the DIV tag nestings :p I realized my error only after about an hour of work and then had to go back and work from the original code but actually figured out the problem – it was indeed in the DIV tag nesting and the indenting did help – it’s just that I’d never seen like 20 levels of nested DIV tags 🙂
My friend Robin, who’s probably my closest friend in real-life, is leaving the company for a different company. He joined about a year after I’d been with the current company (the first time I was with them) and stayed on when I left to go to the US and now he’s leaving. Since I hardly go out after work and don’t socialize much, he and I basically associate only at work. Wonder what’ll happen when he leaves? Of course, he and I are pretty similar in that we’ll both pick up a friendship after years but wouldn’t try to maintain the ties of friendship while we are in different places. So we’ll probably drop out of touch unless of course, he happens to be online from his next place of work :p Robin leaving is going to put me in an awkward situation in a way – it is possible that quite a bit of his work is going to come my way and I might not like doing that. I’m tempted to find a different job quickly so that I can leave at the same time as him (not that I’m not looking now mind you – but currently it’s kind of a laid back search … :p) but then again, I don’t know … I guess it’s best to wait and see in this case …
I’ve been playing "Rise of Nations" the last couple of days and if you are a "Civilization" and "Command and Conquer" fan, you’ll probably love the game since it seems to be a cross between the two :p In fact, I’ve only played the game only twice so far – once last night and once today but I’m hooked! The game play is interesting, fast and keeps you moving all over the place – and I’ve only played the tutorials so far :p In a way, the game seems to be what Microsoft tried to do with "Age of Mythologies" (incidentally, this is a Microsoft game too but developed by Big Huge Games whereas AoM was developed by Ensemble Studios) but I feel that this succeeds where AoM failed. I didn’t like the feel of AoM what with the full 3D engine and the kind of blocky looking graphics. While not 3D, "Rise of Nations" looks better and plays better – at least in my opinion. I’ll have to get in to a couple of actual games before I can tell for sure but considering that I started the first tutorial last night around 8 o’clock and didn’t even realize it was 10 o’clock till I started losing <g>, it seems to me as if I’ve found a new addiction :p
February 11, 2003
To be mayor for a day … or a week … or …
Have you played "SimCity"? I have been playing that game since it’s first incarnation as a DOS game. I barely remember the original version. I think I tried to play it on my notebook computer (a 386SX – does anybody even remember those nifty numbering schemes such as SX and what it meant? :p – with an astounding 5MB of RAM and an 80MB – not GB, MB :p – of hard disk space). I think the game refused to load because my video card would not support VESA drivers. Now the only thing I’m hazy about is whether this was the original SimCity or the later SimCity 2000. I think it was SimCity 2000 because I remember being really frustrated with the video problem and I wouldn’t have been that disappointed if I hadn’t already been addicted to SimCity :p
I do remember playing SimCity Classic under Windows 3.1 and I even remember some of the graphics (and the improvement in overall graphics standards) for SimCity 2000. I remember that there was a Win9x version of SimCity 2000 (not just a DOS one and so it must have been SimCity 2K which gave me VESA driver problems) and I remember playing that one too but by that time I was more interested in other "Sim" games like SimTower and SimIsland but my love of the SimCity franchise remained. In fact, I think I have played almost all of the Sim games developed by Maxis (now they are just an extension of Electronic Arts but they used to be a different company) – who remembers such classics as SimAnt and SimEarth?
Anyway, my interest in SimCity peaked again when I heard about SimCity 3000. I was told that you could actually walk through your city and get the opinions of your citizens as to how you were doing with the city. That it would be the first, personal city simulator. I waited for SimCity 3K and bought it when it came out but alas, the personal interaction was not there. The graphics were better than ever and the gameplay was more of the same stuff that I remembered but this really wasn’t the evolutionary next step in the game that I’d expected. Now I hear that SimCity 4 (not SimCity 4000 but SimCity 4 – guess somebody at EA decided on a name change :p) is out 🙂
It still does not have the personal interaction with your citizens – at least not much. You can take people from The Sims and plop them in your city but I’m told that they don’t always convert over well and that they don’t retain the same characteristics as they had in The Sims. But it’s a small start. In addition, instead of city building, the new game is supposed to concentrate on region building so that you can build several cities or a city and a town or an agrarian community (whatever takes your fancy basically) and build up interactions between the two. This leads to a lot more planning and building stuff that is probably going to keep you occupied for hours. Plus, I’ve seen the graphics and it looks gorgeous – and the game is now supposed to have a day and night cycle with pretty realistic effects. So I’m looking forward to the next iteration of SimCity – I’ll probably write more after I’ve actually played the game :p
January 20, 2003
These are some of my favourite things …
I’m still recovering from my bout of illness but then again, as those who know me are aware, this happens to me about once a year – it’s a cyclical thing :p It happens pretty regularly and has a known time frame for me to get well – I’m on my way to recovery except perhaps for a relapse – and that’s been known to happen too. There’s no joy in life when there are no surprises :p That actually brings up something that a protagonist in the latest book I’m reading – "Necromancer" by Gordon R. Dickson – says, or rather, is said about him. In describing his character, it is said that he can analyze isolates in anything and so he is rarely ever surprised because he knows that something is a logical result of the preceding moment or moments. I sometimes feel like that ….
But to get back on track, since I haven’t been feeling too well and was all alone at home for part of the weekend (my parents again went to the Kurunegala house but came back early because they were worried about me – which was sweet of them but I sometimes think that they worry way too much about me :p), I spent my time doing the stuff that I love to do. I’ve been reading – both "Necromancer" and a trade paperback collection of X-Men stories called "The Asgardian Wars". I finished watching the DVD collection of "Kindred: the Embraced" and also have been doing some PC gaming after a long time. Now the gaming is all Edward’s fault since he’s the one who got me hooked :p
Edward told me about "Dungeon Siege" and that it was a great game. I went and looked at the website and it looked pretty interesting and so I decided to give it a try. I got the game and installed it at work on Friday (it was a holiday and nobody was there) to see if it was interesting and I think I played for close to an hour – I brought the save game home with me and then installed on my machine at home and I started playing it Saturday evening and just couldn’t stop :p I played part of Saturday evening (had to stop when the mosquitos came out in force :p) and then started again on Sunday morning and kept on playing till about lunch time. I think I’ve put in close to six hours by now and while it *is* getting a bit repetitive (I mean the battles and the dungeon crawling) it still is very interesting. The strange thing however is that I don’t mind the repetitive battles and the incessant dungeon crawling on console games but don’t so much like it on PC – maybe it has to do with the fact that it is a bigger screen and a different controller? I don’t know … but I’ll probably play "Dungeon Siege" for a good while yet …