Category Archives: Games

Steam indefinite update paused

So recently I had an issue with Steam where the Witcher 2 update got stuck at 99% and the status “Update Paused”. No matter what I tried with the pause/resume button, I couldn’t get it to budge from this status and actually update.

After a while I grabbed Process Explorer from the Microsoft website and checked the files that were being opened when I toggled this state. I noticed a reference to Steam\steamapps\downloading\20920\CookedPC\pack0.dzip. Then I also noticed a file reference to Steam\steamapp\logs\content.log. Upon checking that file I found a notice that it was trying to preallocate about 11 GB for this pack0.dzip. Checking my drive status, I saw that this particular drive letter only had about 9 GB left. Freeing up some space allowed the update process to actually start and finish, after which I got even more space back, since it seems Steam downloads these files and then replaces them, deleting the temporary one. So I guess the lesson learnt is that you should always have enough disk space free as the single largest file in any of your games.

Small touches that inspire

It’s the littlest of things that can really brighten my mood when I notice them. In this case I was watching Fallout: New Vegas’ DLC trailer for Honest Hearts. In the trailer you see the player with a pistol and on one side of the pistol at least is written: “καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν”. This is Greek and refers to the second part of the verse of John 1:5 in the New Testament of the bible, meaning in English: “and the darkness did not comprehend it”. In my opinion a great way to bring enlightenment by the bullet.

Nintendo DS and dd-wrt, revisited

In an earlier post I detailed how to get your Nintendo DS connected to a router with dd-wrt. One problem I had back then was that I could only make it work in 802.11b-only mode. The solution is to go to your dd-wrt page, select ‘Wireless’, then select ‘Advanced Settings’ and set ‘Basic Rate’ from ‘Default’ to ‘1-2 Mbps’. Now you can set ‘Wireless Network Mode’ under ‘Basic Settings’ to ‘Mixed’ instead of just ‘B-only’.

Defense of the Ancients and Hamachi

So I tried to play Defense of the Ancients (DotA – a Warcraft 3 mod) over Hamachi with some people only to find out that I couldn’t see the LAN game in the lobby. If you have this issue, try to see if you can telnet to port 6112 of the hoster’s IP address. If that works, you’ll get disconnected after a few return presses, you need to check if all Warcraft 3 versions are all the same. This was the issue I was running in. I had missed the latest patch (1.21b to 1.22a) back in July 2008.

The cake is a lie

Some of you may have played Valve’s Portal game and remember the phrase that ‘[t]he cake is a lie’. Most of us most likely associated this with the fact you get incinerated at the end of the trials.

I think the meaning is twofold though. Remember the source code leak Valve experienced in 2003 of their Half Life 2 engine code base? It became clear during a trial in Germany in November 2006 that a group called ‘myg0t’ (a play on ‘mein Gott’?) was actually responsible for the source code leak. Now, apparently the myg0t group has some sort of initiation ritual where people have to (source: Wikipedia article on myg0t):

  1. bake a cake
  2. write “myg0t owns me” on it
  3. take a picture of the cake with your face (including party hat) next to it
  4. take a picture of you eating the cake and
  5. post the picture online in a gallery

Now, given that the Orange box came out in 2007, would it be overly strange if Valve was making a reference (with the cake is a lie quote) that the ‘cake initiation’ is just a lie for them (myg0t) to laugh at others who want to join? Personally I think it fits right into Valve’s alley.

What is that flaw with computer RPGs?

In the article Jeff Vogel talks about how he starts to hate computer roleplaying games (RPG). It is funny, but I have recently been thinking about these things as well.

I recently moved house and finally had normal use of my PlayStation 2 and various other equipment again. So I set out to finally finish Final Fantasy IX, X and X-2. Final Fantasy IX wasn’t as bad as X was when it came to having to grind your way constantly in order to not suck at the next part where some boss enemy would otherwise kick your butt hard. What’s even more perplexing is the fact that Square Enix in some strange state of mind forces you to go through games of reflex (some very bizarre) in order to obtain some item so that you can get the other item/weapon/thinghymajig that will enable to more easily beat the game.

Now, I am not sure what part got confused, but would I be playing an RPG game if I wanted to be tested on my reflexes? If I want to test my reflexes, I’ll fire up Half-Life 2, multiplayer Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, or CounterStrike. I never understood these games of reflexes in adventure games like those from Sierra (remember Leisure Suit Larry) and I do not understand them from the point of view of an RPG. No, I do not want to do a bloody Chocobo race! Perhaps I am alone in this mindset, but I do not think so. I do not mind categories to blend, it can make games more interesting, but in these cases it just serves no point whatsoever.

Perhaps this is why Zelda always didn’t annoy people. It does not pretend to be one thing and annoy you with something else. You are attacked in real-time by monsters, you fight back in real-time. You have a wimpy three hearts of energy at the start, but as you beat more bosses you gain more hearts. Alternatively you can find more heart pieces that will, once you collect four pieces, give you an additional heart as well. Parts you cannot do or reach is solely due to you not having item X or Y. And you typically do not have to jump to various hoops to get these items. Normally it’s either reaching some location and open a chest or beat a monster and gain said item. There’s one part in Oracle of Seasons where you have to dance in order to obtain the boomerang. It might take you perhaps three of four times to get it right, but it is obtainable.

Now, try to race the Chocobo in Remiem Temple and try to get three chests. No matter how hard I tried, and granted I might just be bad in this, I managed to get one or two chests only. Reaching for the third always made me loose to the other racer. It gets even more bizarre in the manner that you need one or two 300-400 page strategy books to find out about all secrets. I am all for secrets, but this is getting bizarre beyond comparison (and yes, I have two of the Japanese Final Fantasy X books, and one for X-2, if only for the artwork).

Now, I played World of Warcraft for a few months, but it became so tedious. The moment you encountered someone from the opposite faction who was perhaps two-three levels above your current level you might just get your butt handed to you. I will readily accept that someone of a higher level can beat you more easily, but normally you have at least a fighting chance. Also, to obtain these levels you have to go grinding (the act of sharpening, in the case of MMORPGs the act of building up experience points to gain a higher level) in order to improve. Sure, I can accept the fact that you need experience, it is no different from joining a martial arts group in order to learn a specific art. But there is a big difference here, I think, between the paper based RPGs and the computer ones when it comes to characters and experience. With the paper-based ones you can at least express yourself and choose your path, especially along the axis of alignment (good, evil, chaotic, lawful). With World of Warcraft, no matter which faction you choose, you wind up doing quests that all push your character towards a lawful good or neutral good alignment. You do not have the option yourself to assume a mantel of evil. And that also brings us back to major problem with computer RPGs, you make no lasting impact on the world around you. And ultimately, this was what RPGs set out to do with the paper-based variant. We all loved The Lord of the Rings that we wanted to play our own parts in such grandiose stories and alter the course of history or at least die trying. So, aside from the time spent on the game leveling and gaining items, just what exactly did you accomplish in the world you played in with, say, World of Warcraft?