Some Good (And Bad) News!

12 07 2008

Okay, so I know this is a very old cliche, but whatever…

Let’s start with the good news first:

After lots of efforts (and long nights), I’ve finally managed to get my computer back in business after changing my mobo and CPU. I ran into some problems trying to get my SATA HDDs to run in AHCI mode, and sadly, I failed, miserably!! For some unknown reason, neither Vista nor XP would install when I changed the BIOS settings to AHCI. So, anyway, after 10 (maybe more) unsuccessful attempts I gave up, and got both OSs installed in dual-boot configuration using the good old normal IDE mode:

– Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 for my everyday PC use.

– Windows XP SP3 for gaming purposes only.

And now, my new beloved CPU, the almighty Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 is sitting tight and cool in a brand new Gigabyte EP35-DS3R. No complaints whatsoever! It’s one super amazing piece of hardware. PC is literally flying right now. I decided to re-finish Crysis for the 4th time just to enjoy the smell of burning silicon!!! That game really stresses everything! And that’s exactly where you could see the Quad stretching its legs.

So, the bad news is, DirectX 11 is coming with Windows 7. Which practically means a new wave of DX11-compatible hardware. Which also brings the sad news to those who own a DX10 card, like me: start looking for a DX11 replacement card!!!! WTF?!@#?!@#?$!@#$^@#$. I bought my DX10 card less than a year ago!!!!!!

It’s really facsinating how companies work together to make you replace your brand new VGA card just to get some new features!! Don’t you guys love it when nVidia & ATI start bragging about how important it is to get a new DX11 VGA?!?!?!

Whatever. I’m glad I got my PC working again. And so begins the long process to get everything set up the way I like it all over again……

Note: obviously you guys have a clue as to where I’ve been in the last 2 weeks, don’t you?!?! Sorry anyways…

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Bill Gates, Forever!

28 06 2008

Yesterday, 27/6/2008 is a day to remember. Bill Gates officially retires from his job at Microsoft. He will be dedicating most of his “new-found” time on his charity organization.

It is a day to remember beause the man has accomplished so much, he became a legend. He had a dream, to make the PC as easy and reliable as any other electronic device we use today. And he delivered.

I know many of you may disagree with me due to well-known legislation problems concerning his products. But I for one, will never forget the first day I laid my hands on a keyboard. My first PC had a DOS 6.33 operating system, and even though I used it only for gaming at that time (I was 12), it really inspired me, and it didn’t seem that hard to learn either. This is IMO a great achievement; to make a PC with all its complications easy to operate even for a 12 year old kid!

And then came Windows. The OS monster sitting on ~80% of today’s PCs. Windows 3.11 was the beginning for me, and it was jaw-dropping at the time that I thought it was a miracle!! And look how that miracle evolved into a sophisticated platform for almost any kind of task. For me, my PC is a platform for gaming, programming, DVB-S TV, home theater, internet device, PDA, student-tools, and many more tasks than I can ever think of…

So, thank you Bill Gates. You’ve certainly made an impression on me, and many others. Your work will never be forgotten. & I hope one day I’ll be able to make a similar impression on other people, it is really the dream of my life.

There are so many details I didn’t want to get into here. Here’s a very interesting article written by Wolfgang Gruener at Tom’s Hardware with some more details about this event.





GRID, An Addictive Experience

4 06 2008

Codemasters prove themselves again as the masters of race games. The Colin Mcrae rally series, DIRT, and now: GRID!

GRID appears first as an arcade racer, but proves to be much more than that. It’s a whole experience, with different race disciplines, and various car classes.

Adding to the whole experience is a fantastic visual representation. The new game engine is wonderful, great effects, great physics.

The game stays away from strict simulation racing, moving towards a more casual style. Opening the game to a wider audience, including those who use the keyboard, like myself.

So, all in all, it’s a wonderful game and a huge success. Rated 8/10.





CPU+GPU Upgrade Benefits

4 06 2008

A great and extensive article on Tom’s Hardware shows the benefit of upgrading either the CPU or the GPU, or even both. It concentrates mostly on gaming performance between different hardware parts, indicating some cheaper parts that offer almost the same performance.

Read it here: GPU vs. CPU Upgrade – Tom’s Hardware

If you’re planning to upgrade, I strongly suggest you read that article. It could save you lots of money.





The DemoScene (Pt.2)

27 05 2008

The reason I wrote about the Demoscene is because it’s an amazing concept when applied in video games.

In fact, it was a gaming article that introduced me to the Demoscene. I don’t have it on my PC right now, but I believe it was a Gamespot article about the upcoming Will Wright’s game “Spore”. Will Wright (the designer of the holy grail game: “The Sims”) pointed out how modern games are becoming more and more sophisticated in terms of animation and textures. He said that future games would require an army of animators to make the game as real as possible.

So, the point is, why use pre-generated animations if we can animate objects on the go?! Meaning that we could generate animations as needed in the game. The generation algorithm would be based on constant rules defined by the programming team.

That animation method will be used in his upcoming game “Spore”, where you’ll be able to create your own custom species, and the game will automatically generate the animations required to move your creatures around, make it dance, fight, etc… The creature generator would define the static points on the creature’s body, and the body structure (arms, legs) and the game would do the rest. The creature’s animations will be generated according to the laws of physics. So, the creature would actually move realistically, because his motion is built on real-world physics.

The great achievement here is that the user has the freedom to create whatever he/she wants, and the game would generate the animations required for that creatures behavior. So, the user is no longer bound by the game’s own pre-generated content! And game developers no longer require massive animation teams.

Wrapping it all up:

Realtime content generation = less animators = more programmers = more creative and expandable games = happy gamers all around the world.

And, for those of you who believe this is mere junk, take a look at “.Kkrieger” (developed in 2004) by “The Produkkt”, a 3D FPS in 96 KB! with all the fluffy 3D effects of a full-blown x GB game!

Check their website to download it and see for yourself: www.theprodukkt.com

Also, don’t forget to check the Spore official website: www.spore.com

It’s a new world out there. Imagine using that technology along with ray-tracing rendering technique!

WoW! I’m speechless!!!





The DemoScene (Pt.1)

21 05 2008

I wanted to write about the Demoscene ever since I saw the first real demo.

The Demoscene, as defined by Wikipedia “…is a computer art subculture that specializes in producing demos, which are non-interactive audio-visual presentations run real-time on a computer. The main goal of a demo is to show off programming, artistic, and musical skills.”

Those of you who owned a PC during the 90’s will surely remember those executable files that were bundled with certain pirated games or programs. They would probably show an animated scene about the piracy group who cracked the software. So, they’d show their names and make pride of their abilities. All that in a relatively small file. (That was my first contact with a demo.)

However, after some research I have found that the Demoscene actually started before the 90’s, on some early platforms, like the Commodore64, Atari, & Amiga.

Demos (or Intros) have evolved well beyond traditional pixelized images floating around on the screen, to become more like a short movie, including most of the artistic values of any real-life movie: art, direction, storyboard, photography, 3d art & animation, and music.

The really stunning fact about Demoscene is that Demos are a real programming challenge, where some groups are challenged to write a Demo in a restricted file size of 64 KB! There are even some recent Demos stuffed in a tiny space of 4 KBs. Early Demos are available in 256 Bytes!

So, yes, the Demoscene IS a programming challenge that focuses on new, innovative techniques to generate all the required contents in real-time. As opposed to saving each component in a separate file.

When I watched my first Demo, I was instantly shocked about the great amount of effort put in it. And as I watched more and more Demos I really started to notice how each Demo has its own artistic mood.

I could talk for hours about Demos and Intros, but it won’t matter, because you won’t believe it until you see it with your own eyes. So, I’m gonna cut to the chase and list some sites and groups to give you a head start:

– More info about the Demoscene: http://www.demoscene.info/

– Even more info: http://pilgrimage.scene.org/demoscene.html

– The Demoscene online TV: http://www.demoscene.tv

– One of the best groups on the scene (ASD): http://www.asd.gr/ (Go for their “Animal Attraction” Demo first)

– Another amazing group (Conspiracy): http://conspiracy.hu/ (I like their “Chaos Theory” Intro)

– And finally, the biggest Demoscene archive on the web: http://pouet.net

Have fun.





Saving PC Gaming

19 05 2008

I don’t agree that PC gaming needs to be saved. But however, several organizations are trying to “save” it from the unknown threat. The latest effort is an AMD logo program to identify that a certain PC is capable of “decent” gaming performance in major titles.

It’s actually ridiculous to try and think that way. Simply because the PC hardware market is a an everyday changing market. Current top of the line PCs will be mainstreams in a year or two. And so is the case with PC games.

So, an AMD Game! certified PC today will certainly be outdated next year, and will surely be incapable of running next year’s games..

Anyway, Mark Hachman of ExtremeTech has a very interesting idea on how to solve this. And I like it very much. You can find the original article here: Another Sorry Effort to Save PC Gaming?