OK, I’m about to write a longish post but in the meantime here’s an update.

Halo 2 – still don’t got. But what’s amazed me is that not only are there still tons of copies of the collector’s editon in stores, but that people at work who don’t know me all that well still are amazed that I don’t have the game.

Half-Life 2 – got it. It’s amazing. Of course, a lot of people didn’t get to play it on day one since, despite not being an MMORPG, once people on the east coast started getting home from work, the Steam servers went in the toilet. I presume their infrastructure was smart enough to separate the “pusing 3GB of content per user” cluster from the “authenticate so people can play the game when they install it” cluster, but maybe not. I know that people who installed the CD version were complaining of not being able to play, but my DVD version told me it would just finish the process later and let me play in the meantime. Maybe we’re just special since we paid more.

But the whole Steam thing is fascinating to me. Part of me wants it to work – I think the industry would be better off with digital distribution and mandatory updates. But part of me wants it to fail – I’m amused by all of those who say that Half-Life 2 is a better game than DOOM 3. It’s like saying that, say, Gone with the Wind is better than Star Wars – not exactly a good comparison to begin with. Maybe DOOM 3 requires Windows XP (or Linux or Macintosh), but at least you could play it day one. Hell, some crazy fuckers got it running on a Voodoo 2

You want to know why we don’t have anything other than a white anglo-saxon protestant up for the White House? Why we don’t have black or female candidates for the presidency? Because the first few to try will lose and neither party feels like wasting their turn. You want to know why companies like id Software don’t want to do something like Steam? Because the first big time game to try it is going to get bit and no one other than Valve has the desire to tough it out. Stardock sells Galactic Civilizations online, but that game isn’t going to sell millions of copies. DOOM 3 was guaranteed to sell millions and id and Activision didn’t feel like messing with that. Hell, VUG is still going to sue Valve before it’s all over. A party will have to decide that it’s worth the possibility of losing before they put up a minority candidate, and a company like Valve will have to decide it’s worth the possibility of taking a bath on sales and PR before we saw something like Steam.

Metroid Prime 2 – I really want this game. Actually I really want to finish the original. Sure, it’s just more of the same, but the same was damn good.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – from what I understand, this is just more crazy weird shit, but not in a good way. People blast Quake for having no plot, but maybe that’s a good thing since the last two MGS games have had plots so bad no one wants to play them.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – I want this game just so I can drive around and hear DJ Axl Rose.

Tommorow is the release of Halo 2. Ironically, despite the fact that I consider myself a “hardcore” gamer (whatever that means) I won’t be getting it. There’s a couple of reasons why – the fact that there’s so many good games coming out, the usual “lack of time” issues, the fact that Half-Life 2 on DVD is eating most of my money, etc. But the real reason is this – I’m just not that excited about it.

Halo was a good game, don’t get me wrong – but it didn’t really “do it” for me. I personally thought that, as far as console based FPS’s go, Metroid Prime was a much better game. Another game I need to get to this holiday season is Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, but since I never got all the way through the first game, I need to go hit that up first. Heck, I never made it through Halo either. Of course, if someone out there got me Halo 2 I’d play it to death, but I’m not one of the millions of people sitting outside right now waiting for midnight and the game to drop.

Instead, I’m one of the ones wondering – what was the big deal, really, about Halo? I mean, it was a good game – there’s no denying that. It did a number of things very well. And when my born again Christian sister wants to do Halo deathmatch like she does at her Christian singles parties, I know it’s penetrated the Zeitgeist. Someone had a theory – people have a soft spot in their hearts for DOOM because it was their first FPS. Some have a spot for Quake because it was their first deathmatch experience. Halo attracts a ton of people who don’t game on the PC and never experienced an FPS before. Most PC gamers detest console FPS games because of the controller, but console gamers who love Xbox are more or less unanimous on their choice.

Plus, Halo was a launch title – Xbox wound upbeing the only one of the three consoles with a strong launch title. The PlayStation 2 could only muster up SSX (not even an exclusive) and the GameCube had Luigi’s Mansion (Metroid Prime didn’t come out for another couple of months). Microsoft is doing all it can to make Halo 2‘s launch rival that of early Rolling Stones albums. Apparently though there’s a bit of backlash from the hardcore crowd. That’s to be expected.

I’m not sure what went wrong but apparently the conversion of Halo to the PC has been considered “botched” by many. I never played it (already owned it on Xbox) so I’m not sure if it was just disdain over the course of the game’s development (originally a 3rd person PC game, then a FPS console exclusive, then two years delayed on the PC) or if it was just considered a below-average game by many’s standards. It occurs to me that I thought the Atari Jaguar game Tempest 2000 was an amazing game on that system, and the critics agreed – but the game was damned on the PC. It occurs to me – it could be that, by Jaguar standards Tempest 2000 was indeed an amazing game but by PC standards it was crap. Perhaps it was too with Halo.

And for some reason the “Special Edition” Halo 2 bugs me. Of course, if I was getting the game I’d probably get that one (same reason I opt for the Extended LOTR DVD’s) but to be so self-congratulatory on a game before it’s release disturbs me. At least when some movie gets a special edition DVD treatment, it’s because it had a chance to prove itself at the box office. But games don’t get a second chance really. Of course if they had released the special edition later, then gamers would be mad that they had been suckered into the “regular” edition. What a mess.

The ultimate irony however is that most non-print reviews I’ve seen of Halo 2 say that it’s essentially “more of the same” of Halo. It has online Xbox Live gameplay and the usual spate of enhancements, but it’s apparently just an improved Halo. Not that this is bad – the sheer popularity of Halo implies it was at least a good idea, and plus it’s not like it’s a mission pack or a pseudo-sequel like the last two GTA titles, but in an industry where innovation is supposedly everything (witness the quick backlash DOOM 3 experienced) people en masse seem to want exactly what Bungie is serving with Halo 2.

Well anywho, perhaps I’ll pick up the game. Ah hell, who am I kidding – I know I’ll buy it. Just not tommorow.

Half-Life 2 went “gold”. On the off chance I’ve never explained that, when a computer or video game goes “gold”, it just means it’s finished and headed off to manufacturing – a holdover from when CD-R’s tended to be gold, so the master disc was gold (as opposed to going gold in the record industry, which means you sold 500,000 copies). It hits stores November 16th.

I’m in an odd position – again, I’m not sure if my system will run the game, but I’m going to buy it anyway. Specifically, I’m going to buy the collector’s edition. I’m doing this for a few reasons – for one, this version of the game, like Unreal Tournament 2004, ships on a DVD instead of six CD-ROMs. Additionally, it comes with Half-Life: Source, the original Half-Life game redone in the Source engine. Oh and it comes with a T-shirt and some other crap. Anyone out there have any good ideas on how to convince the Wife to let me spend $79.99 in November? Here’s to hoping Fry’s comes through on a cheaper deal.

Now what I’m not doing – and what I think Jimmy is – is purchasing the game on Steam. Valve came up with this thing called Steam a few years back. I was actually one of the original beta testers. I downloaded it, installed it, told it I wanted to play Half-Life and before I could blink it had downloaded 500MB+ to my hard drive and had me in the game. I had thought by asking to play Half-Life it was going to search for the installed local copy I had. I had no idea it was going to download a second copy of the game to my hard drive.

The idea behind Steam is this sorta nebulous concept wherein games can be purchased, played, updated, etc. from within Steam. Essentially it’s one step further towards this “buy things online – no need for physical media anymore” concept that, along with video phones and the like, is pretty much in everyone’s Epcot Center view of the universe. Now, given that things like the iTunes Music Store have worked and taken off, this is not an unprecedented concept. Take for example how my Wife decided she liked Insaniquarium enough to buy it online.

However, no matter how “ready” a concept like this is, at least in the case of Half-Life 2, I’m just not ready for it yet. There are games (like the aforementioned PopCap affaris and games which can’t be purchased in stores) that it makes sense to me to buy online. However, I’m just not interested in the idea of buying a game, whose multiple gigabytes in size match affairs like DOOM 3, online and waiting for it to download. Valve has been allowing people to pre-load the game, so there’s 99% complete copies of Half-Life 2 on people’s hard drives right now waiting to be unlocked and completed, but when you do a format/reinstall – you get to let all that crap redownload again.

“But you can just take your downloaded HL2 cache and back it up to a DVD!” yeah, well besides the fact that I just haven’t jumped on the DVD burning bandwagon yet, again – I’m not interested. I want a real, official DVD sitting on my shelf that I can install from. Some will agree with me, others will think I’m being silly. Whatever. It’s my problem, I guess.

This is not to say I won’t be using Steam at all. Steam either is or will be (as in – at some point in the future) the lone method of playing HL2 online. Actually, I’m not sure there really is a “HL2 Online” per se. I mean, I guess there has to be in the respect that HL2 will be a base for mods, but there’s not going to be a “Half-Life 2 Deathmatch” from what I understand, but rather the “official” HL2 online component is Counter-Strike Source, a Source-engine remake of Conter-Strike. People who purchase a HL2 package right now get to play CS:S immediately.

I’m also a bit confused as to how the original Half-Life works on Steam at the moment. Half-Life was one of the first game with the notion of “authenticating” online before you were allowed to play the game online – your CD Key was sent to WON.net for authentication and you got to play if your key wasn’t in use or wasn’t blacklisted. I think WON.net has been abandoned (and/or disbanded in Vivendi’s dissolving of units) in favor of Steam, so I’m not sure that, if I did do an install of Half-Life from CD’s, that I could even play it online – I’m thinking it’s all Steam at this point.

Now I’m not completely against Steam. In fact, I’m not really against it or using it at all – just not for buying huge, eagerly anticipated games. Steam provides many advantages, chief among them the fact that it keeps the games completely up to date – requires this to be the case in fact. When Steam went Open Beta, Valve decided to entice people into helping it stress test things by offering Half-Life and its popular mods (i.e., ones that Valve had bankrolled) for free. This is where the problem hit – Steam just wasn’t equipped to handle it yet. The experience pretty much sucked for everyone – to the point where to lighten the load Valve released huge files for download through other venues (FileShack, BitTorrent, etc.) to handle the majority of the files needed. Many gamers decided that Steam would be uninstalled and never seen or heard from again.

Then when Valve announced that in the near future Steam would be required to play any Valve games online, gamers went batshit. This, coupled with the delay of Half-Life 2 (which may or may not have been a result of the source code leak) turned off a large number of gamers.

But Steam got better. Valve staved off people losing it on Half-Life 2 release day by doing staggered preloads. They hired the BitTorrent guy (proving that little fringe concepts can get you work). People started buying into the idea of automatic updates. And a lot of people like the idea of buying games online.

Not everyone likes Steam of course. Namely, Vivendi Universal Games. Valve signed on to Sierra to publish Half-Life which wound up being the smartest move Sierra ever made. Somehow, Valve was able to keep their intellectual property rights in the contract, meaning that if they did a second Half-Life game, they weren’t neccessarily indebted to release it through Sierra. They did have to go through Sierra as a publisher, unless of course they were able to skirt the publisher bit entirely.

Now the story gets complicated from here and only highly paid lawyers really know what’s going on. Sierra has been dissolved by VUG for underperformance (namely the lack of a second Half-Life caliber title and the Tribes 2 fiasco). VUG is now publishing the boxed copies of Half-Life 2 but they either see nothing or very little from Steam purchases. They have supposedly tried in court to stop Valve from being able to use Steam to sell Half-Life 2, going so far as to say that their original arrangement is void and that Valve doesn’t own the Half-Life IP. The rumor was that VUG was going exercise to sit on the release candidates for Half-Life 2 for six months, pushing the game to 2005.

Valve made concessions to VUG. They won’t let people unlock and play Half-Life 2 on Steam until the game hits stores. They’re charging the same for it online as they are in stores (though this works for them since it makes them more money). Their $79.99 package in stores includes Half-Life: Source and Counter-Strike: Source but their $89.99 package through Stream also includes Day of Defeat: Source – this is I believe both because this makes the package online different than what’s being sold in stores and because I think it’s Activision that controls publishing rights to that mod.

So Valve and Half-Life 2 go from a slam dunk and a pleasant surprise to a hellish release and delay nightmare. But PC Gamer gave the game a 98%, tying it with Sid Mier’s Alpha Centauri for the highest rated game ever and calls it “possibly the greatest game ever made”, so yeah – I’m getting it.

But I’m getting it on DVD dammit. I can’t push for DVD packaging and DVD games this much for this long and then buy the stupid game online.

My Wife keeps complaining that I never blog. Seems everyone else in our little circle keeps the regular update thing happening, and I don’t. Oh well. Every day at work is hectic, every night is busy with unpacking more boxes. I have tons of potential posts in my head and most of them wither on the vine either because I forget them or they’re not quite as good when I finally do hash them out.

Quick life update – I have now entered the bracket of home owners. Well, “owner” in the respect that I’m indebted to a financial institution for the next three decades or so. I’ve obviously unpacked my PC, got my office set up with the glued wood furniture which almost didn’t make the five mile trip, and purchased a pool table which I’m determined to not have go the way of the treadmil or metal detector.

Ironically, we live in Frisco, TX and we used to live about a block south of Main, which is pretty much where the “city” portion of Frisco effectively ended. We were determined to move further south in Frisco. We wound up moving about five miles further north. You literally have to pass a ranch with cows to get to where we live. Our visitors don’t consider us “city folk” anymore.

We bought a home from a builder, but it was done when we found it. It was an “inventory home” meaning essentially that they cut us a discount to get us in the house ASAP. We found the house and had moved in within a month. That same month I expereinced job stress in the form of my boss being fired (which was good – but it’s still stressful) and my original cat Jenny passed away after 21 years. Stressful.

But overall things are good. If there’s anyone out there who wants to rent a house in Frisco, TX, contact me (long shot, but we still owe rent at our rent house)

Sleeping in on a Saturday morning is not really possible yet – roughly 9 AM or so the construction on nearby homes commences. It’s almost disturbing to see how fast these houses go up – say what you will about the people who build houses for a living, they’re a well-oiled machine. Compare this to the movers we hired – two of them were white guys who would not stop bitching about how much stuff there was to move and how heavy it was – and they move stuff for a living. With the exception of my grandfather’s man-killer of a player piano, I don’t know what the big deal was.

Like I said, we got a pool table. We went originally to Billiards & Barstools, the trendy place, but besides the fact that every pool table there was hideously expensive, the help there was snooty and no help to us at all. Then I spotted a girl on the side of the road holding a sign pointing to Universal Billiards who not only sells nice pool tables for a fraction of the price, but were nice and helpful as well. We got one right away.

How much of a geek am I? All I can think about when I play pool is how Virtual Pool makes you a better pool player thanks to the optional trajectory lines in the game. So I dig out my old copy of this 1998 game, and it really can’t handle itself too well – certian windows won’t work and it won’t accept higher resolution modes. This is something I’m noticing – the DirectX notion of “it will run in Windows forever” almost holds up – but not quite. Anywho, a little searching shows that the last title in the series, Virtual Pool 3, was published in 2000. I find the demo for it and it kicks ass, so I start downloading it off of eMule – but then I try and see if the game’s in stores anymore. To my surprise it is, and the Lewisville GameStop has a copy for $10. So I go get one, but by the time I get home my download has finished.

Here’s the funny thing – the version I downloaded has a woman named Jeanette Lee who “hosts” the affair and offers advice through instructional videos. The version I bought doesn’t have this. The game was published in 2000 by Interplay but since Interplay has more or less gone the way of the Dodo, this copy states “Copyright 2004 Global Star Software, a Take Two Interactive Subsidiary”. The game itself also shows itself as “Copyright 2004 Celeris Software”. Celeris Software is the company that made the Virtual Pool series but other than a cell phone game, the company appears to be dead. Were I to guess, I’d say that Global Star got a lot of Interplay’s assets through bankruptcy and they decided to release Virtual Pool 3 as part of a line of bar-themed budget reissues. Not sure about Friday Night 3D Bowling or Friday Night 3D Darts but Virtual Pool 3 is less a pool game and more a physics simulator and in that respect, it kicks serious ass. It makes sense that the rights to use Jeanette Lee have expired and it was easier to just cut the tutorials and crap out of the game than try to re-acquire her rights. Interesting that in some places the spider fonts (Lee’s nickname is the Black Widow) remained in place.

Oh well, at least I’ve got a legit copy and I’ll use that to play online.

I discovered something last night on my own system which is a huge relief to me, so I figure I’ll share it on the off chance that someone Googles for the exact same thing.

Essentially, when I opened up Windows Explorer and clicked on my C drive, it was taking forever (i.e., several seconds) to show me the folders and files from the root directory. The D drive showed me things pretty much instantly. In light of my recent hard drive troubles I was concerned that this was my C drive’s way of telling me it was about to die.

But then last night it hit me what was happening. In the root of my C drive I had a zip file. And not just any zip file – one with thousands of files in in (the Torque source). Every time I was calling up the root of the C drive it was scanning that zip file in order to treat it as a folder, since I hadn’t disabled native zip file support in XP. I moved the file and everything was fine. I’ve disabled zip file support and placed it back, problem solved.

I guess it’s kinda sad that a lot of my peace of mind is tied to how well my PC perceivably functions, but whatever.

Some months back, roughly towards the start of this year, I bought a 200GB IDE Maxtor hard drive. After four or five months, it gave out, which surprised me completely. I figured with its one year warranty it would last at least that long. So I did what anyone would do – send the thing back in and get a new one under the warranty period. Maxtor in particular has a nice policy wherein you can have them send you the new one first and then you send the bad one back – in the proper packaging they sent you the first one in. This of course requires you send them your credit card number in case you try to screw them.

So all was well until the night before QuakeCon, when the replacement one gave way. I had to switch out for the 40GB one in my server so I could play games at QuakeCon. Oddly enough, I found myself hoping that this second drive was out of the warranty period – they do this thing where the replacement drive’s period is the original drive’s period, or 90 days, or plus 90 days, or something. Say what you will about Western Digital, I’ve got drives from theirs that can take normal use. Oddly enough everyone I talk to has no problem with Maxtor drives. I think they even pioneered the 200GB models.

However, the warranty period goes until October so I did what anyone would do – sent it in again. I got it back in last week and as I was opening the box I thought to myself that the least they could do was send me a better drive. Kinda like when you send in something and they don’t make it anymore. I guess that’s what happened since the drive they sent me was 250GB. That’s more additional space than the Windows boot volume I have (another 40GB WD drive). I never really bothered to do this but I think I could fit every game I have on this drive and still have space left over (how sad is it that I didn’t think that about my 200GB drive?).

We’ll see how this goes. Since I only keep crap like games on my second hard drive it’s far from the end of the world when it gives out, but it’s still annoying. If this thing lasts a year I’ll be happy (again, how sad is that?) but I think that, warranty be damned, if this one goes out I’m through with Maxtor as a brand.

Fool me Once…shame on…shame on you…Folmuah can’t get fooled again

I updated my PDF resume above, in case anyone cares.

I was discussing C++ with a colleague and came up with the following analogy.

Writing in VB or VB.NET is like building a house on a foundation.

Writing in C# is like pouring the foundation and then building the house on top of it.

Writing in C++ is like having to invent concrete, chopping down the trees to make 2×4’s, discovering blacksmith techniques to make nails, and inventing every single appliance from scratch, before pouring your foundation and building your house on top of it. All the while being told that in theory you could go next door and use the same building materials on your neigbor’s home only to find out that you can’t.

You also can’t go next door with VB.NET or C# but at least you don’t even have the vague premise that you can.

We’re closing on a home at the end of the month – house analogies will probably replace car analogies for a while.

This year’s QuakeCon was a blast. The Gaylord Texan is freaking huge, and I even got the Notorious DLG to go. He denies it, but in years past I was unable to get him or others like him to go since the misconception has always been that if you weren’t a huge fan of id’s offerings, you might as well not go.

One thing I noticed more of this year is the behavior. Perhaps I was just oblivious to it in the past, or perhaps I was just more aware due to the “niceness” of this place. The first night some dude spit off a balcony and/or poured some beer out. He got himself and the others in his room kicked out. Some other people got kicked out as well – and the Gaylord goes the extra step of banning you, reportedly for life. Also I noticed a lot more drinking and drunk people, but again this might just be me being more observant.

I’ve mentioned in the past on the changing demographics of QuakeCon and this year was no different – and several people were calling attention to it. There were definitely a lot more women there this year – and not just the E3 “booth babe” variety. As much as I don’t have a problem with it, I’m already seeing some backlash. It makes perfect sense – when your activity is populated primarily by geeks it’s only natural that a certian percentage of them flock to that activity to escape the social situations that rejected them – i.e., girls. Now that women are getting into this activity these people are hostile to being placed in situations where they are surrounded by the same people whose rejection pushed them into this sort of thing in the first place. Oh well, they’ll get over it – heck, now they have something in common with them.

It’s almost a shame I can’t play DOOM 3 online for shit – my system does an admirable job of playing the single player portion, but it’s just not swift enough for online. Perhaps if I bumped the resolution back down. Just getting in to a DOOM 3 match is a problem though – the in-game browser is completely worthless and although The All-Seeing Eye is tremendously better, the issue is getting the one of four spots on a server in time (since the game takes a while to load) – I wonder if it reserves a spot for you? If not it should.

But the most bang for your buck, multiplayer-wise, continues to be Unreal Tournament 2004. Onslaught is amazing and the game just generally plays great. It’s funny – one of the original slams against the game has wound up being its strength – since Unreal Tournament 2003 mods are compatible with UT2004, the game has a wealth of content it wouldn’t ordinarily have if it started from zero. Ironic that at an id event I was playing a lot of UT2004 but whatever. I played a lot of Quake 3: Arena as well but ironically, I didn’t know what client-side mods were popular, so I was limited to the out of the box servers or server-side mods.

Too bad I didn’t get to go to some of the workshops I wanted to – like editing DOOM 3 maps or the presentation of the Enemy Territory Fortress mod for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Yeah, I was surprised as shit when ET released a map editor and source – now people can make a mod for a standalone game that’s free. I’m kinda surprised that more people haven’t latched onto that idea – but I guess what you really have a lot of is people holding off and making the most of their opporunity.

The best thing this year was the freebies – I have five T-shirts and two hats as a result of free crap giveaways. Jimmy and crew were enthralled with the playable EverQuest II demo. It’s funny – I wasn’t that impressed with it. It looks good, but not any better than say Far Cry. And what’s the use of high-end rendering technology if all it does is make better looking rats to kill? Then again, they’re not as enamored with DOOM 3 as I am – but I think I like DOOM 3 since I’m predisposed to, like they are with EverQuest II. All I know is I’m happy I don’t have to play DOOM 3 on an Xbox – it looks ok and has a steadier framerate than my PC, but it’s simply worse looking with lower poly monsters, etc.

So that was QuakeCon – I hear for the next two years they’ve got it at the Gaylord. Next year I’m definitely getting a room there – the hour drive to and from Frisco is for the birds.

Well here it is, in the early morning hours of August 3. I’ve had DOOM 3 for about five hours now. I went to GameStop and took a number – only the first 20 preordered people got their game tonight. I stood around and watched everyone talk about the game, getting more nervous about my ability to play it or not. And someone in that room needed to shower very much badly.

I took it home and nerviously went through the three-disc installation. Then I fired it up. First thing I did was have it detect for me – 640×480, Low Quality, all effects on. Then I fired up the game. It plays a video, then a second video – but then pans out to show that the video is playing on a monitor, rendered in the engine. Kickass! the game runs, and it runs well!

Damndest thing though – it runs better in cutscenes than the game itself. Oh well – it still runs much better than I could have hoped for on a lowly GeForce 3 Ti/200. Actually, it runs much better than the GF3 deserves. And I’m amazed at how much detail I can still see. I figured I’d be happy if it ran as well as the Xbox footage I’ve been seeing – my experience blows the Xbox out of the water.

Multiplayer’s interesting. Right now, there’s no dedicated server out there and, as of this moment, not many people with the game, so there’s at best a smattering of servers. And I don’t know how this is going to factor in, but with ~4 people per game (I forget whether that’s a hard limit or just the default), it’s kinda tricky to find an open server. I can tell you this much – the server browser needs some serious work. It doesn’t sort or filter correctly and many times will tell you a server isn’t full when it is.

One amusing thing I’ve not experienced in a while – this is the first id game, I believe, to feature reloading. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for two players to run out of ammo and sit there reloading just trying to get more shots off. It’s like the comic relief scene in an action movie.

The other interesting thing which I’m sure will be gone tommorow is that since there’s no dedicated server and no one out there wanting to run a dedicated server with their copy, games just suddenly end since the person running the game decided to stop playing.

The amount of polish on the game is outstanding. The menu GUI is slick – I remember being unimpressed by the “oval” motif of Quake III: Arena but this one impressed me. The atmopshere is cool – I found myself stopping to watch the UAC videos on the monitors. And playing Super Turkey Puncher Pro.

I was impressed by the game, impressed by the graphics and engine, impressed by the multiplayer, and thinking the game is well worth the $55 I paid for it. For those of you looking to save, go to Circuit City where it can be had for $45 I’m told.

Anywho, I must stop playing since I must head to bed and get some sleep. The best thing about my system and DOOM 3 is that it can only get better from here, and now I’m really looking forward to QuakeCon.

Here we go again. It’s 2004, id Software is coming out with a new game, and I have no idea how well I can run it.

In this case it’s DOOM 3, and it’s actually going to hit stores on August 3rd or so. I’ve bought the last several id Software games on day one or as close as I can. I bought Quake II, Quake III: Arena and Quake III: Team Arena all on day one. I ordered Quake as soon as it hit shareware status. I think I even bought the floppy disk version of DOOM II the day it came out or that week. For DOOM II I was hindered by a 486SX 20 (yes, they did make them that slow) but on low detail it played acceptably. I had upgraded to a Pentium 133 when Quake came out, so it’s DOS-based software renderer ran fine, but I had issues with Quake II‘s Windows-based renderer. Fortunately I had upgraded to a Pentium 3 500MHz and Voodoo3 card just prior to Quake III: Arena.

DOOM 3‘s listed minimum system requirements are just below what I have (GeForce 3, Athlon XP 2000, 768MB RAM) which concerns me, but hardcore PC gaming site HardOCP has stated that more or less what I have actually does a decent job at playing the game, so I’m hopeful. I figure – worst case scenario I can run it about like an Xbox would until I can upgrade my video card. Which of course will be another thing I’ll need to buy at some point. Wish me luck on bouncing that off the Wife.

It’s been interesting to witness the recent DOOM 3 mania. I personally never minded the delays the game saw – I figured it would help me in the long run on upgrades. But here it is – oh well. I’m sure I can run it in some capacity. It’s kinda a bummer that I won’t be able to bells-and-whistles it from day one but hey – it’s guaranteed to look better and better. Hell, it’s desgined to look its best on 512MB video cards – of which there are none on the market yet. I need to upgrade my sound setup to do 5.1 so I can do the surround sound thing – but I don’t even have a TV/theater setup designed to do more than stereo and I don’t really know how surround speakers would work in the corner of the office I have.

All of this seems like a little far to go to play a game, but besides being an id Software game, we know DOOM 3 will be powering a lot of games in the near future.

More interesting is the reaction. id announced the game over four years ago, so we’ve had that long to know it was in the works. Contrast this to Valve and Half-Life 2, where the game was secretly in development for five years before being announced in May of 2003. Valve boldly announced the release date as September 30, 2003. id Software then had to concede that DOOM 3 was not coming out in 2003. I completely lost my bet that it would ship on December 10, 2003 – the 10th anniversary of DOOM shareware. But then Valve delayed Half-Life 2 for various reasons, not the least of which was the source code leak. It still hasn’t shipped and has no release date. Many people thought (some still think) that Half-Life 2 will be the better of the two games and that id had every intention of releasing DOOM 3 in 2003, but retreated from that for retooling due to Half-Life 2. No one knows if this is true or not, but it’s somewhat ironic that DOOM 3 is coming out first.

Sites like Blue’s News and Shacknews wouldn’t be here were it not for id Software. They were started by people who were fans of Quake, and most of them were fans of DOOM back in the day. While they have branched out to all things FPS and most things computer/video games in general, but their loyalty to all things id Software (and the people who are on them) shows. The “gone gold” thread on Shacknews has amassed over 7,000 Posts. Blue’s is running 2-3 DOOM 3 related stories a day.

It’s funny – one of the the things that’s always been id Software’s strength and weakness is that for the last twelve years or so they’ve been making essentially the same game. The game is “guy with gun runs around and shoots things”. Every so often the atmosphere changes (Nazis, Aliens, Demons), every so often the renderer changes, every so often the motive changes (key cards, multiplayer, etc.), but it’s always been “guy with gun runs around and shoots things”. For all DOOM 3‘s innovations, it’s also “guy with gun runs around and shoots things”.

What really kills me is how not cut and dry it all is. I’ve been seeing a lot of things on id Software recently – the G4 Icons special, the Masters of DOOM book I’ve taken to reading again, etc. After Wolfenstein 3-D they were considering doing a racing game. Quake was originally a 3rd person RPG. For all their verse/chorus/verse, id Software didn’t really mean for their games to be all versions of each other.

And yet there’s all these things id does to surprise us. Quake was the first game of theirs to require CD-ROM. Quake 2 was the first to feature prerendered cutscenes. Quake III: Arena was their first to require a 3-D accellerator and not feature a single-player mode. Now DOOM 3 is their first game to attempt the often unused PC Horror genre. It’s also the first since DOOM to be throttled down to a 4-player online mode. It’s also the first with a level editor in the box. Sure, it’s at its core another “guy with gun” game (and not, say, a flight simulator) but it’s still some different directions for them.

One thing they did that I think is kinda retarded (and I know I’m the only one that cares) is to change the number they’re numbering it with. There was DOOM, then DOOM II, with roman numerals. They went for a long time with a logo for DOOM III that also had roman numerals like DOOM II, then they went with DOOM 3, with the number three in that “cubed” fashion, like the posters and such for Alien 3. I don’t like this – I liked the big ass roman numerals. But hey, what do I know. Perhaps associating themselves with Alien 3 will work (though it really didn’t work for that movie).

Of course, perhaps this is to underscore the notion that DOOM 3 is not really a traditional sequel to DOOM and DOOM II so much as it is a “retelling” of the first game (at least). This is another big difference for id – a game that’s overtly a remake of an older game of theirs. Of course, Quake II wasn’t really a sequel to Quake at all, and of course the multiplayer universe of Quake III: Arena had nothing to do with the previous games either. Carmack let it slip in an interview that they kicked around the idea of a remake of Quake II with the DOOM 3 engine to show how it could be done quicker but they nixed that idea. That was probably either not a real idea or they didn’t want to storm on the thunder of Raven who is currently doing Quake IV with the DOOM 3 engine, but still it shows that id is still trying to be unpredictable after fourteen years (confusingly enough, Quake IV is a sequel to the storyline in Quake II but not a sequel to anything in Quake III: Arena).

On that aforementioned 486/20 is where my first experiences with DOOM went down. I had of course played Wolfenstein 3-D to death and loved it, but DOOM was one of the first games to introduce me to the concept of “you don’t have enough to play it”. Specifically, I had 2MB of RAM in my system and DOOM needed four. RAM was something my feeble mind didn’t know of until I went and bought Comanche, the helecopter sim, and the thing wouldn’t run since I didn’t have enough RAM (actually, I think I somehow knew I didn’t have enough but that I could sneak past it somehow). My friend at the time, Bill, did have 4MB of RAM in his 386, but for reasons I’m not sure I could troubleshoot even today, he couldn’t get it to run – except once or twice for some reason. He kept telling me about how amazing the game was (the head bobbing and the witnessing of the gloved hand pumping the shotgun in particular amazed him).

So I ordered 2 SIMM sticks, 1MB each. I opened up my machine, popped them into two of the four slots, fired up my PC – and nothing happened. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to recognize the extra RAM. I was pretty pissed off if for no other reason than I had conviced my mom to buy these things for me and I couldn’t get the fuckers to work.

For reasons that have been lost over time, I came into possession of Bill’s computer. For reasons I don’t remember, I thought it would be perfectly OK to open his computer up. For reasons related to wild hunches, I took two SIMMs from his PC (I think he had tried the upgrade trick and also didn’t get it working) and popped them into mine. All four slots, a whopping 6MB of RAM – and it worked. And DOOM worked. And there was no going back. And for reasons that baffle me to this day, Bill didn’t murder my ass for opening up his PC. We both upgraded to more RAM and it continued to work.

We played the snot out of DOOM and downloaded tons of levels off of CompuServe. Getting DOOM to work over a modem was like pulling teeth – but man it was fun when we did get it working. I had the high school computer lab hooked up with DOOM – we played when our work was done. Not sure if I could get away with that today. I made levels (nothing releasable really) and generally loved it.

Quake wasn’t released until after my first year in college. To some degree, the fact that it was less mainstream popular than DOOM II and the offspring of that made it more likeable. I was ready, PC-wise, for Quake – I wasn’t ready for Quake II. Kinda sad really – I never got to upgrade in time to really enjoy that game. When Quake III: Arena came out, I had just upgraded my PC. But here I am, right before DOOM 3 and I have no idea if I can handle it. I think I can, but with a lot of bells and whistles turned off. Oh well, it’ll look better every single time I upgrade.

And the DOOM 3 hysteria is continuing. For starters, Chris Vrenna, the guy who did the theme song, is releasing a limited pressing of 500 7″ records with the theme on them. I bit – I don’t have a turntable but that’s too cool a collector’s item to pass up. I actually got a copy as soon as it went on sale – I thought somehow it would sell out quickly. Oh well, maybe I’ll get copy #1. Steven Kent, author of The First Quarter, is finishing up The Making of DOOM 3 – it should make a great companion piece to Masters of DOOM by David Kushner, a book I’m working on right now which is fascinating to say the least. I preorded the game at GameStop and it seems all the major chains got these boxes to give to people who preorder – with a pewter monster inside. The GameStop monster is the Baron of Hell from the original game. Pretty nifty for $5 – I wonder if there’s people who are preordering the game at different places to get the different monsters.

One thing about the game that does bug me though is this – the day it went gold, people were getting their copies of PC Gamer in the mail, with their exclusive first review of 94%. It’s still the only review of the game. But with the lead time of a print magazine it means either one of two things – either the game was done a lot longer than expected, or PC Gamer reviewed an incomplete game. Either way is intriguing, but the incomplete game angle is probably more likely. That’s not so bad, except that it makes you wonder what bugs they excused. Also, what are the odds they would fight hard to get the first review and then trash the game? Granted, 94% is hardly the best review they’ve ever given, but with their “Id’s Masterpiece raises the state of the art form” quote on the cover of the box – it’s obvious some people were scratching each other’s backs on this one.

But who cares – the Frisco GameStop told me on the phone today I can pick up my copy at 7PM tommorow. It’s on.