Wing Commander Saga; a rebuild by fans for fans

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2012 - 04:04 PM |
Tagged: gaming, wing commander, mod

There is some incredible news for those of you who have purchased old Wing Commander games from GOG, as well as those of you who've though about it but prefer the memories of the game they've already formed.  A group of modders has taken the engine behind FreeSpace 2 and created Wing Commander Saga, which spans a time period from just before the beginning of Wing Commander 3 and takes you through to the end of the Terran-Kilrathi War.  On top of the vastly improved graphics and features like autopilot are dozens of cinematics throughout the game, thousands of lines of original dialog and large scale fleet battles.  Do not despair if this is the first you are hearing about it for the release date is tomorrow!   Check out Wing Commander Saga: The Darkest Dawn here.

"Any old-school PC gamer worth his salt has spent some time dogfighting in space in Wing Commander, or at least is familiar with the series that first took flight in 1990. Heck, even Mark Hamill (better known as Luke Skywalker) lent his voice acting talents to the third installment, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. If you have fond memories of flying through space in the 1990s, you'll be happy to know that fans of the franchise are nearly finished with a massive followup."

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Source: MaximumPC

Thank you Bethesda; how about some attributions Steam?

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, skyrim, elder scrolls, mod

Attention (PC) Skyrim fans, Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has some great news!

High Definition Textures have arrived for Skyrim via Steam.  The download is just over 3GB and contains .BSP files which is the file type Bethesda in general and Skyrim in particular store their textures.  This is rather handy as two mods which already add high definition textures do so via a new folder called Textures under your Skyrim folder.  This means that the mods do not interfere with the official HD download as far as crashing the game, however more investigation is needed to discover how the mods interact as far as texture rendering priorities as well as determining which gives you the best looking textures.

Just download it via Steam and ensure that you enable it via the Data Files option on your Skyrim launcher.  While you are clicking on that download you might notice a link to something called Steam Workshop.  This leads you to a section of Steam where you can download mods for Skyrim via Steam which can be applied to your game though it does not necessarily replace Nexus Mod Manager.  When you have clicked on the mod then the next time you launch Skyrim it will run a check and synchronize your game and the mod.  The mods can be enabled and disabled just like the HD textures via the Data Files portion of your Skyrim launcher.

The addition of official HD textures and supported mods is a brilliant move by Bethesda and Steam and the PC gaming community wholeheartedly thanks them for this wonderful addition to the game.  Many PC users initial experience with Skyrim was not positive, especially those using AMD graphics cards.  The patches to Skyrim and AMD's drivers have finally fixed most performance issues users experienced and with the addition of PC specific improvements and mods Bethesda may have gone a long way to wooing back those users who were initially unimpressed with the game.

Along with these additions does come a plea to Steam.  You may notice negative comments underneath the mods which you choose, such as "It should say "Stolen by: Manic Zombie" The uploader gave no credit to the author of this.".  This is very unfortunate for the brilliant mind that decided to model mudcrabs with a monocle and top hat as the number of users of this mod will soar but the modder themselves are doomed to obscurity.  It could be that Manic Zombie was indeed the original modder as the Japanese site links to a download on Skyrim Nexus that he posted.  If Steam is going to offer mods the modding community would greatly appreciate it if Steam researched the mod to ensure that the submitter is indeed the actual source of the mod or at least has the modders permissions.  The "Report" button is a great start but in order to help attract game modders to Steam, reassurance that they will get recognition for their mods would go a long way to bringing even more modders into the fold.

rimmod.jpg

"The long-awaited Skyrim Creation Kit is out, and it’s come with the rumoured High-Resolution Texture Pack all the kids wanted! The game’s also 33% off on Steam in the US and UK at the moment, if this is what you were waiting for."

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I heard you like Starcraft? Yeah, it Hyrules!

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 02:33 AM |
Tagged: zelda, starcraft 2, starcraft, mod

So you may be aware by now that PC gamers often like to mess with their game and customize it as they desire. Sometimes you even see the magical situation where one game gets grafted into another like a turducken you can play with. You do not play with your food, do you? Regardless of your eating habits it is perfectly reasonable to play with a videogame in your videogame and could be reasonable in the near future to play some Zelda in your Starcraft.

Technically a turducken would be a Portal Gun inside Link to the Past inside Starcraft…

The mod appears to have made quite a bit of progress judging by three of their released videos. According to what I can tell: multiplayer is being worked upon, soldiers are related to zerglings by death, and chickens are no longer the most deadly beings of the land. Unfortunately, being that Link and the soldiers are the only units with attacks right now (so it would seem) it suffers from classic Starcraft 2 issues: Terran imba.

What do you think?

Source: Youtube

Battlefield 3: No plans for mod tools

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 8, 2011 - 12:29 AM |
Tagged: mod, battlefield 3

The Battlefield franchise has had a somewhat indecisive history with the mod community. Battlefield 2 was developed in part by a mod team for the first game, Battlefield 1942, and mod tools were provided for several of their releases. Recently they shifted their focus on to the console spinoff, Bad Company. While the second in the franchise was created for the PC neither featured mod tools. Now that DICE has returned to the original canon with Battlefield 3 there were hopes that mod tools would return with the franchise but according to DICE that is not the case.

These tools are hard, just look at the destructibility, you wouldn’t like it

German gaming site GameStar met up with DICE’s CEO Patrick Soderlund to discuss Battlefield 3. Soderlund answered an array of questions from the community about the Bad Company 2 friends list, alternatives to the commander mode, and the potential future of Mirror’s Edge. When questioned about the mod tools: Soderlund did not rule out the possibility of mod tools in the future but might as well done so. He contends that Frostbite 2 is too difficult to deal with for modders (which historically means: “the tools barely work for us, we are not going through the effort to polish them for public use”).

Surprisingly, to those who know me, I can agree with DICE’s stance on the issue. If your mod tools do not fit your level of polish required to release, then do not release them; provided, of course, you do not actively harm the creation of mods. With that in mind, the mod community is what will keep your game flowing with new content, for a little upfront cost. If your tail is shorter than you anticipated: this should be the first place to look.

Source: GameStar

Swap your displays CCFL with LEDs

Subject: Displays | May 31, 2011 - 12:09 PM |
Tagged: hack, mod, ccfl, led, repair

Over at Hack a Day is a video and project log of an industrious fellow whose digital picture frame backlight bit the biscuit.  Instead of buying a new one he removed the dead CCFL and replaced it with a six dollar LED strip instead of an expensive inverter or lamp for the CCFL.  The project is not easy, especially if you wish to attempt this on a full sized monitor but there are tips and tricks that should help you on your way in the full post.

CCFL_repair.png

"[Fileark] had the backlight on his digital picture frame go out one day. These are generally Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps which require an inverter to source the voltage necessary for proper operation. When they stop working, the inverter is usually to blame. Since that circuit is made up of pretty small surface mount circuitry, he decided to replace the backlight with LEDs rather than repair the inverter."

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Source: Hack a Day

Call it Xenonauts if you want, it's still X-COM done the right way

Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2011 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: gaming, x-com, mod

It has been a first person shooter, a flight simulator and a turn based strategy game in a world where even a glass window is utterly impervious to nuclear weapons, but never has X-COM UFO Defense been properly remade or reimagined.  It looks like an indy company will beat everyone else to it with their soon to enter beta testing Xenonauts, which keeps the style of the original, admittedly aged game, and more importantly includes destrucatable terrain!  No word yet on if you can fund your extermination efforts by selling equipment you made from alien tech to world governments but there is a lot of info on the game over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

RPS_xeno1big.jpg

"It’s been a bit all-quiet for the Cold War-set X-COM reimagining Xenonauts for the last few months, but creators Goldhawk have finally broken cover to show how the major element – the ground combat – looks in action. The answer, you may not be terribly surprised to hear is “quite a bit like X-COM”, but clearly that’s exactly what we want. Higher res and detail is a fine thing, but it’s especially pleasing to see that destructible scenery, something so bafflingly absent from many of the commercial X-COM remakes, is present and correct."

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The 8GB Atari 810 Drive, now with flash memory support

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 5, 2011 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: mod, microSD, atari 810

It is common knowledge that technology gets smaller as time advances. There is, however, a point where a certain level of advancement trots along the border to absurdity and makes you think about exactly what is possible with modern technology and occasionally an innovative spirit. Leave it to the hackers to consistently push that boundary and entertain the rest of us less talented individuals.

Recently a blogger by the name of Rossum detailed on their Posterous blog their project of creating a microSD reader as a model replacement of an Atari 810 disk drive.
 
atari810sd.png
Image from Rossum
 
The original Atari 810 disk had the storage of 88K which is about 90,000 times smaller than the 8GB microSD card used in the miniaturized model 810 drive. Rossum claims to provide all the models, schematics, and code for the project in the near future for anyone wishing to dust off their soldering irons and create their own.