Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Soggy Holiday musings

Technically speaking, Tech–for Everyone is still on vacation. But I think today that I will jot down a few thoughts on the state of computer gaming, football…and maybe publish a new free link. For those of you who would prefer to see the re-posted prior Tips & Tricks article (one you may have missed) which I would normally have published here, click here. Again, I sincerely hope you are all having a safe and a happy holiday. My online Tech Support business is open as usual.

I am a guy. And when I say “guy”, I am basically saying, “a big kid”. Because I am a guy, I like football and I like video games — as Loyal Friends and True already know. So I was delighted when Santa delivered to me the latest release of my all-time favorite FPS, Call Of Duty 4 from Infinity Ward (and released by Activision).

As happy as I was to get this new game, and as much of an admirer of the good folks at Infinity Ward as I am, I was disappointed when I actually played the game. This latest installment exemplifies the direction in which games are evolving, and I think the gaming companies should take a second look at some of their decisions.

First, let me say that I was not disappointed enough in CoD 4 to tell you not to get it. That’s not what I’m saying. CoD 4 is (to me) a “must have” if you’re into the combat genre. Its graphics are impressive and it’s a blast to play. But. (Have you ever noticed, in life, how many unsaid “but”s there are?)
Let me preface this transitional thought here with a reminder that I am a computer geek: I play my video games on a PC, and not a game “console”. I have a ‘souped up’ computer to play these games on (although it is getting elderly, and by that I mean it is about a year and-a-half old) — it has plenty of RAM and dual 256MB graphics cards. Please keep the PC angle in mind when considering my critique.

1) Is it just me, or can everyone complete a new game in less than a day?
This is my biggest disappointment in Call of Duty 4, specifically, and the new games in general. I have been playing computer games since their inception (Star Trek on a teletype terminal) and I think this progression will state my case clearly enough: It took me about a month to get to the final scene in Duke Nukem 3D (1996), and to this day I don’t believe I have found all the secret locations: It took several days — almost a week — of intense sessions to get to the final scene in the original Call of Duty (2003): and it took about 5 hours to complete Call of Duty 4 (2007).
Quite a bit less “bang for my buck”, wouldn’t you say? And over far too soon.

2) Too durned big. Call of Duty 4’sinstall required 6 GB’s of hard-drive (six!), and is the first game that required so much effort from my dual graphics cards that I found myself accepting the relatively mild defaults (such as 800 x 600 dpi) to keep up a playable frames-per-second. Typically I can crank up the resolution and turn on every special effect (every “bell and whistle”) to its highest setting. My system is no slouch. This means the average person, with an average PC, simply cannot play CoD 4 (..and for those of you who are wondering, I have dual 7600 GT’s).

3) There are glitches in CoD 4 because it seems pretty clear to me that there’s been a major shift in the way games are being written (I could be wrong here). It used to be that games were written for the PC and then “ported” to run on the various consoles, and that now the reverse is true– a new title is written for one, specific game console and then “ported” for other platforms. If I’m right, this is a colossal mistake in strategy (which will ultimately hurt sales).

I believe all these things are due to a desire to make the graphics in games as “realistic” as is technologically possible. In the past, this has a been a “good thing”, and because of it we are no longer looking at two-dimentional Ms. Pac Man-type graphics…
mspacman.jpg

but are can wander through very realistic ‘virtual’ environments that are quite impressive in their ability to make you feel like you’re there.
cod.jpg

But I think too much is being sacrificed to attain this level of “realism”, and I for one, would rather have more maps/levels, secret rooms, and a longer game than a short game with accurate shadows. (For instance, there is no ‘level’ in CoD 4 where you get to drive a tank, a feature expected from earlier releases.) And, yes, I know, it is this evolution which has pushed the development of other PC technologies… but.
As a point of reference, I have developed a new sense of admiration for Far Cry (2004) from Ubisoft, which seems to be the perfect blend of reasonable realism and (seemingly) endless maps and challenges.

And now to football:
Having been born and raised in SF Bay Area, it is only fitting and proper that I am a 49ers fan.
Man… what can I say? It a job that it is getting harder and harder (and harder) to do.

It is somewhat comforting that there seems to be only two really good teams this season. But (there’s that “but” again!) something has changed in football, and it hasn’t been for the better. The refs are changing the outcomes of games more than ever before. “Parity” is a joke. Certain “football fundamentals” seem to have vanished from the scene. It seems — to me — that football has become “entertainment” and not a Sport. There has been… some sort of vague decline which I cannot put my finger on.
Perhaps I am just becoming an old fart… but I haven’t been enjoying watching football (for some years now) like I used to, and it is not simply because the niners aren’t the “Dynasty” niners any longer.. it’s something else.
There..enough kvetching for one day. Anyone else thinking these things… or am I all wet?

Today’s free link: for those of you for whom the Ms. Pac Man screenshot brought back nostalgic and happy memories, or for those of you who prefer arcade style games, download Mega Mario. Featuring the Mario Brothers — first introduced in Donkey Kong — this classic arcade game works on all versions of Windows.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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December 29, 2007 - Posted by | computers, Gaming, hardware, PC, tech, Windows | , , ,

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