21 September 2007

Oh Goody, Reinstalling Windows


Argh! So I got a new Graphics Card yesterday. It's sort of a stop gap solution before I finally join the ranks of PCI-E and I was hoping it was going to fix the crash issues I have with Source based games. I followed the suggestions found on Valve's site with no luck, I figured maybe it was an issue with my old graphics card's memory. One upgrade later and the new graphics card with the recent driver from ATI's site installed later and I started Team Fortress 2 again. About 3 minutes later it crashed with the same issue. Damn!

Then hidden in the mists of the steam support site there was the fact that Games freeze when running on ASUS motherboards. Oh, I've got an Asus board, maybe that's been it all this time. What's the fix? Upgrade your BIOS? Right you are. Apart from a brief time spent trying to get DOS to work for the firmware tool (before realising it was the wrong firmware, glad I didn't try to flash that on) I upgraded it on Windows.

Everything seemed to go fine except when I went into Windows it just rebooted at the end of its load. Nothing logged or anything, it just constantly did that. I could get into Safe Mode and I could load a Ubuntu Live CD just fine so it didn't appear to be a borked BIOS. I figured I'd try restoring Windows from the disc. Bad move! That copied the files went to the now finding your devices bit and crashed out. Then it would go back in, try and find the devices and crash out. It would do this until I got suitably annoyed. Which wasn't that long after it started.

Next up was reinstalling Windows from scratch. That went fine, obviously whatever driver causing Windows to crash and burn wasn't there in the first place. Great! A fresh version of Windows with none of the patches, apps or games on. Time to start the patching and installing again! Yeay. I was on SP2 when I had finished for the evening. I installed the newest GC drivers and that caused the machine to crash (maybe that was the problem in the first place but strange it only happened after the motherboard was upgraded). Rolling back to an older version seemed to work fine, at least I hope it is.

After all that, 6 hours later with my evening gone, I started up Team Fortress 2.

It crashed.

10 September 2007

Top 10 Essential RPGs Follow Up

Lots of Dice

Jay recently posted an article about when great games cease to be great which I think is a bit related to the essential RPGs post a bit back. It seems linked to me as the initial question, which perhaps I failed to answer in my post, was What games do you feel that someone really should be familiar with to be considered an expert... on the subject of CRPGs? I pondered this because I'm not really certain that someone needs to have played Final Fantasy IV to really know about the Active Time Battle system that was used there-in. It's been used in other games subsequently, I many cases better, and someone who played a derivative is no less aware of this technique than someone who played the original.

My original list has some games that, personally, were great landmarks in my CRPG experience but aren't particularly fine examples of the genre or bring anything new to it (such as Phantasy Star III). Someone who wanted to learn from previous RPGs would probably do better to look elsewhere for solid gaming experience. The immaturity of the genre in the early years perhaps lead to very primitive story-telling technique and, as I'm no longer a teen, I'm not sure how well these games will hold up to scrutiny. I've certainly found that playing through some of the early Final Fantasy games on the GBA. Bad UI only furthers to put annoy people who have come to expect a smoother play experience from their games. Of course in the article about great games ceising to be great Jay argues the opposite, that it is fun. I'm quite sure that some games will never lose some of their charm. Perhaps the storyline is still strong and the mechanics bearable enough to put up with continuing or maybe nostalgia over the game drives me to play it where a new player would give up (maybe the best way to test this is to try a few of the games others listed that I haven't played and see if I enjoy them).

Of course if it isn't the mechanics that we are playing the old games for (if we argue that just an awareness of those mechanics rather than the origin is enough) and we are happy enough with the concept that most RPG plots are variations of a big list then what do the old games offer us? Perhaps nothing more than the right combination of mechanics and plots with a story that keeps us involved and characters that appeal to us (for whatever reason that is).

Looking back at my list most of the games there are because the characters appeal to me (Baldur's Gate II, Final Fantasy VII and Planescape Torment); the setting appealed to me (Arcanum, Fallout 2 and the creepy System Shock 2); the storyline appealed to me (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic). Leaving Phantasy Star III (which, along with the first and second, brought me into the whole CRPG), Neverwinter Nights (which didn't have the same level of emotional depth as Baldur's Gate II but was the first game to bring a good multiplayer CRPG experience to me) and, Oblivion which appeals to me on so many levels, maybe it hits the exploration part just right (I love it but I can't quite place why, perhaps a few years will tell whether this really is the case). So maybe, with that in mind, old games still appeal just as much to us because they are as strong, for all the right reasons, as new games are.