Friday, December 21, 2007

Crysiswatch: Day Three

The NVIDIA Forceware update
released yesterday seemed to solve the worst of the problems, even though I still get a bad disc read error the first time I try to launch the game (the second attempt always works).

Until I got the Blue Screen of Death.

This game is doing everything it can to halt my forward progress. At this point I feel like maybe if I don't finish this game the world will end, that a malevolent force is ensuring my frustration by casting error incantations at my processor and video cards.

I will gather my strength by playing something that works, like Team Fortress 2.

Then once more into the breach.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Artificial Intelligence, Real Stupid

a job opening for a Senior AI Programmer.

Please, someone, someone very good, apply for this position. Hell, someone apply who has at least heard of AI, because the developers at Crytek don't know shit.

Nearly three years ago I wrote about Far Cry's horrible AI. It has gotten worse.

Not only are the dreaded player-seeking helicopters back, but there are several new tricks that basically amount to cheating. Koreans who can take three rifle shots to the face and at least seven to the body. Fifty cal machineguns with small armor plates that magically deflect bullets and even goddamn direct grenade hits.

There was the time I launched a fucking rocket into a sniper tower, blowing its roof off, and both of the snipers in it survived.

Or the time I very cautiously approached a position and thoroughly scouted the area. Completely clear. Then I got into a jeep. My radar lit up with three enemies in a circle around me. Yes, enemies spawn in out of thin air. These are not augmented sci-fantasy enemies with crazy powers - these are just grunts that apparently slide through dimensional folds.

When they aren't killing you over and over again, the enemies are outrageously dumb. They drive into obstacles. The boat drivers will putter around once their gunners have been killed, not even attempting to fight. When you cloak and decloak, most of the time enemies won't look at your last known position. Instead they'll just forget you were there and get distracted by some other shiny object.

I watched a tank turn its gun toward me. I cloaked. The turret swung back to the allied tanks. I uncloaked. Turret came back toward me. Cloaked. Turret swung away. Satchel charge, BOOM. Dumb.

It's pretty clear that the AI wasn't even touched between Far Cry and Crysis. The game's idea of challenge is waves of hard-to-kill enemies. And I've already seen instances of being out of range of the health tracking, so an enemy you're sniping runs around being shot and taking no damage at all.


So I got Crysis working for a little bit (obviously). Now it just freezes twenty minutes into a playsession.

Jesus what a shit game.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


would be a great shooter.

If it weren't the buggiest piece of shit I've ever tried to run. Settings don't seem to matter. Display drivers don't matter. I even installed the RC1 beta Vista SP.

First it wouldn't read the disk.

Then it would crash trying to load saves.

Then it would shut off my mouse and keyboard.

Then objective updating completely bugged out.

DirectX 9 or 10, it doesn't matter. Low, High, Very High settings, it doesn't matter. I even turned on single processor affinity, which seemed to help things until it triggered a huge memory leak.

This thing is a buggy piece of shit on a computer pretty much designed to run a game of its kind: Core 2 duo, dual 8800s, 4 gigs of RAM.

When it runs, it looks great and runs fast. The gameplay is a sleeker iteration of Far Cry, which is also a blast. It's not quite a sandbox game, but you have a larger array of tactical options available at any one time.

But it has more major bugs than I've encountered in any game, ever. They might patch it soon, but I'm likely to uninstall it in the meantime.

*Sigh* Back to The Witcher, I suppose. Which is a post for another time.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


If I'm
reading this correctly, the big plan to help out people who are in danger of losing their homes is:

1. Pretend the plan will cover a large number of people.
2. Make the terms so specific that a much smaller number of people will benefit.
3. Make sure that the poorest people, i.e., those who would most benefit from the plan, are excluded from the terms.
4. Ensure that the plan doesn't actually do anything except delay the inevitable accounting in the hopes that a miracle will occur between now and the reset date.
5. Meet with the same fuckers who issued the subprime loans in order to devise a way to completely shift responsibility onto consumers - even though the current problems are endemic to the cash-grab business practices of the loan industry, which just happened to be de-regulated.
This totally makes sense.


It grows increasingly difficult for me to moderate my political feelings. Every time I try and convince myself that Republicans just have different ideas for running the government, it basically comes out that they'd much rather dismantle the government, sell off everything that isn't nailed down and roll back social progress to a feudal system.

Every plan they come up with is pretty much asking Big Business what would help the bottom line.

Since they've come to power the Republicans have done everything they can to completely erase the Great Society. Ronald Reagan sliced off its limbs and Cheney/Bush have been skullfucking its corpse.


Speaking of Cheney . . .

But his implication was clear: When asked if these men had lost their spines, he responded, “They are not carrying the big sticks I would have expected.”

This is really easy to understand, let me explain the context.

It's perfectly coherent when you understand that Cheney is pretty much the biggest dick in the known Universe.


The above news article about our crooked soul of a Vice President is actually quite relevant considering this month's Round Table. Cheney is making the argument that a woman, Nancy Pelosi, in a position of leadership in the House is emasculating for male Representatives. Poor guys.

Really, our world is so infused with the stench of sexism that the Vice President is threatened by a female Speaker of the House.

We really should geld all male politicians.

Video Games Versus Art - Part One Billion

= Not Art.

A man dipping bugs in paint and then using light to manipulate their scurrying over a painted background = Art.

Devil is in the Details

I think
I'm broad-minded enough to give Mitt Romney a little leeway for his religion. There are some good sentiments in his most recent speech. I don't expect him to not speak to his own religious experience.

Then there's this:

"We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust."

No we aren't. No we don't.

I realize it can be hard to pander to Christians and discuss the founding documents of our nation. The best we've got is "Nature and Nature's God" or maybe "Creator", but those are so non-specific. "Divine Providence" might just end up confusing people. That's it in the Declaration of Independence.

The Constitution has even slimmer pickings. Basically "no religious tests" and "no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

It's almost as if the Founders knew what they were doing.


I don't even want to get started on what the sentence "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom" might possibly mean or portend or imply.

Honestly, I'd just like a guarantee from a candidate that they won't listen to God if He says something like, "Go and invade Iraq, er, liberate the Iraqis." Let's face it, God's a shitty strategist. He sent His people against Jerusalem without any siege equipment.

Monday, December 03, 2007


This is
a bit old (May of this year), but I don't remember seeing anything about it.

The folks at Introversion, makers of the most delightfully stylish and interesting little games, have got another one lined up. A big one. No real clue what it's about.

But there are some tantalizing clues.

Go read this topic. Watch the video. See a city take shape before your eyes utilizing very simple rules that generate a chaotic result.


In about two minutes half of the game Crackdown has been created, with buildings you can actually enter.

Well, okay, not quite half.

Sandbox games utilize simple rules to create complex chains of interesting gameplay. The real bottleneck is creation of assets. If you begin finding ways to create rules that govern the content then you're a step toward simulating the complexity that human designers generate.

I don't think designers will ever be replaceable (I hope not), but I am always looking forward to better tools that allow tremendous flexibility with simple inputs.

Right now game creation tools are crude, the equivalent of hand-cranked film cameras. Everything has to be cut together piece by piece, lit only by candlelight; the medium on which we present things tenuous and prone to error.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

To Search Again

If you're really interested
in the latest game-violence/real-world violence causation study beyond just skimming the press article, you may as well go to the website of one of the principal authors, Brad J. Bushman.

Dr. Bushman helpfully allows the download of almost all of his peer-reviewed articles. I've snagged three of them that focus on videogames and will do my layman's best to go over them when I have the time.

Homework never stops.


Before I read these papers, I will mention that one thing I noticed in the studies I've read previously is the disregard for the actual incidence of violence and lack of correlating any increases of violence in specific demographics with other social factors.

For example, in the last six years the gap between rich and poor has widened due to disastrous economic policies. This kind of wealth disparity has been shown to cause an increase in crime, and these crimes are the type that aren't motivated by violence but often result in it - carjackings, home robberies, muggings. And because college is often out of reach and jobs scarce, this type of crime comes from young people - who happen to members of a generation in which almost everyone has played videogames.

In fact, the biggest difficulty in any media violence study is attempting to control for all the variables. Are they correlating with children who played sports? Are they identifying the type of sport, e.g., contact vs. non-contact. What about music choices? What about different kinds of abuse? What were their social groups and the interaction between them? What economic status?

Without a good control group, and with the fact that pretty much everyone from the last three generations has grown up surrounded by videogames, these kinds of studies are nearly impossible. Then there is the difficulty of classifying violence - is Mario violent? "Realism" is often touted as being especially affecting, but what is considered realistic? Mortal Kombat was called realistic, but nowadays it looks cartoony. The goalposts are constantly moving, so how do you even begin to discern a metric for realism?

Media violence doesn't happen in a vacuum. I'm not going to disparage the people who make it their life's work to study it, but I do find that conclusive studies tend to be anything but.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Funny To Me

If you follow
the work of Maynard James Keenan at all you might be interested in his latest release under the name Puscifer.

The first video is here on youtube.

It's . . . well, the funniest thing to me will be the reaction from both Tool and A Perfect Circle fans who aren't familiar with anything else MJK has done.

But if you've ever listened to Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty, then you'll be a little more prepared, at least for the single. Weird, drum-heavy, ambient . . . music, with vocals that are more about experimentation or ornamentation than anything else - if that sounds like something you want to try, give it a shot. While Maynard never gets quite as crazy with his voice as Mike Patton, both of them like to play with intonations, effects, breath patterns, hisses, pretty much anything they can do with their sound.

I used to listen to CAD while trying to fall asleep, and while I found the album to be shit when fully awake, in that reverie of near-sleep it was great for triggering lucid, strange dreams.

Maybe Puscifer will be the same.

The Marilyn Vos Savant of Blogs

cash advance

That's right.

I wish I knew exactly what metric they're using. Spelling maybe, though I use plenty of nonstandard words. They certainly don't mark you down for profanity.

I'm guessing it just pulls your most recent post and checks one or two things. Maybe word count, percentage of misspellings, that kind of thing.

Or maybe it's random. I don't know. My blog's the genius, not me.

Regardless, you are smarter for having read this contentless post.

Daily Dose

The President of the United States is
not the fucking Commander-in-Chief. People do not elect a Commander-in-Chief.

The President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. That's it.

If you are not a current member of the military, he is not your Commander-in-Chief. He's not even the Commander-in-Chief, because that title is not applicable to a vast majority of the country.

If you're a journalist making this stupid flub, you're promulgating a dangerous error. The difference in context is not minor. It is the difference between a Republic (no matter how tenuous) and a Military Dictatorship.

It's telling that the President's own Press Secretary enjoys using this turn of phrase. But that doesn't mean you have to follow her deliberate propaganda with your own acquiescence.

Get it right.

And start acting like citizens, for goodness' sake. You're embarrassing us in front of the rest of the world.