Classic Game “Marathon” Free on Steam

Released in 1994, this game could be called a Doom clone. It used a game engine that couldn’t handle ramps, curves, or solid enemy models. You can’t even jump! But it still had great graphics and an entire short sci-fi novel hidden in terminals that gave you objectives and the plot. I played this *so* much and even helped with creating a makeover mod for it!

Available free on Steam.

“Am I Being Mocked Somehow?”

Willow is not sure about this whole “cat video game” thing; no sir, no sir. (I beat the chase scene this time, since I had a clear head, then I saved because I didn’t want to keep going until Maya got home.)

Installing Skyrim Using Wine on Mac OS X

Computer used: 2009 Mac Pro with 8 GB memory, a 1 GB Apple graphics card, and OS X 10.9 Mavericks

  1. Purchase Skyrim on Steam. (By waiting for the right sale, I got it for $5.)
  2. Download ThePortingTeam’s Wine wrapper for Skyrim.
  3. Follow the installation instructions under “Installation”. Run Skyrim at least once. At this point Skyrim worked excellently except for a horrible display bug. So, after a lot of websites and some guessing…
  4. Right-click on the wrapper (the Skyrim icon), choose “Open Package Contents”, and open just as you did during Step 3.
  5. Click “Set Screen Options”. Uncheck “Use Mac Driver instead of X11”.
  6. Under “Override Wine control of Screen Settings?” click “Override”.
  7. Under “Override Settings” make sure that “Fullscreen” is checked. Under “Installer Options” make sure that “Force Normal Windows” is checked.
  8. Click “Done”. Click “Quit”. Double-click the wrapper icon, and enjoy your game!

I also installed the Unofficial Skyrim Patches, SKSE, and SkyUI, but that’s for another time. Further, I updated the wrapper engine to WS9Wine1.7.21, but I’m not sure I needed to do that. If you do, the instructions are on the Wineskin Winery website.

Have fun hunting dragons!

BorgSpace Interplanetary

Since the days of my first Lego set, I have never lost the joy of building something – having a goal for how something should look and feel and function, then correcting and tweaking until what I was making came as close to that goal as possible.

Kerbal Space Program takes that thought and expands upon it, by offering one all the parts to build a neat-looking airplane or space rocket, then challenging you to make it fly. And once you make it fly, to do something with it: can you reach the Pole? Can you reach orbit? Can you reach a moon or another planet? Can you land a rover or build a base on another world?

I’m thoroughly addicted. And I knew I was cursed to a few late nights when the idea popped into my head of building an imitation of a Valkyrie space fighter from the Macross anime… and then making it fly. Did I succeed? Well…


That’s right, I’m not dead yet. I just haven’t felt like journalling at all in months – my creativity and ability to string words together has been darn near zero.

But sometimes, going through my old work will inspire me a bit. To that end, here’s a video walkthrough of the video game level I designed – an addon for Excalibur: Morgana’s Revenge, a game still available for play on Mac, Windows, and Linux via the Aleph One game engine.

Designing game levels is fun… and doing something I haven’t done in years may be just what I needed to stretch my muscles a bit!

Of Phasers and Sabers

My enforced vacation from work brings some good news: some personal projects have moved much farther forward in the last month. I finally repaired Thunderchild, made progress on a video project, reorganized bookshelves in the bedroom and living room, and now I’ve finished a pair of games sitting in my collection since 2004: “Star Trek: Elite Force 2” and “Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast”. (Yeah, I really burn through the games, huh? This is why, despite my love for a good computer game, I don’t buy them very often.)

Star Trek: Elite Force 2

“Elite Force 2” is the second game where you take on the role of leader of Voyager‘s Hazard Team, a group of highly-trained survival and combat specialists. I love this concept in Trek, as it suggests that Starfleet knows you need folks like these sometimes, without suggesting that the fleet has an entire militaristic arm waiting for warfare. Had the idea existed when I was on Pathfinder or Yeager, I’d have lobbied for this to be added to our roleplay.

Unfortunately, while the game is prettier than the previous one, and contains more play time, the writing is weak compared to the first game. “Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force” had a script and plot superior to many televised episodes of Voyager (faint praise, eh?), but this sequel consists mainly of grinding one’s way through waves and waves of “Alien” clones. I was particularly offended by the redemption of an alien scientist who causes the gruesome deaths of thousands (including many of your crewmates and often almost you) through vain dreams of power and the affection of a girl, but eventually says he’s sorry and all is forgiven. Ever notice how, in post-DS9 Trek, the heroes are always punished for poor choices or bad luck, but the antagonists generally aren’t?

Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast

The Dark Forces franchise has held up a little better. While Mac users had to skip the second game in the series due to a lack of interest in a port, both “Dark Forces” and “Jedi Outcast” take the player back to the days of “A New Hope” and “Empire” far better than anything George Lucas has written in the last decade. The developers produce expert recreations of both specific locations and places hinted at by the movies, the sound effects and music cues immediately evoke the original experience, and even the short romance subplot in the more recent game is handled far better than the prequel movies do. I won’t lie – I found “Outcast” to be quite difficult, but worth my patience.

Instead of space bugs, you’ll face Stormtroopers of the Imperial Remnant left over after the death of Emperor Palpatine. A fallen Jedi has tired of the Light Side, and has allied with the Remnant to produce – well, let’s just say you’ll need to learn those lightsaber skills. Much fun.

Now, I need only finish “No One Lives Forever” and “Tron 2.0”. Probably won’t be soon, because I do have several more interesting things on my plate than shooter games…

Why this “Steam on Mac” thing is a big deal to me

Steve Jobs has little use for computer games. Inconveniently, his customers are quite interested, and that’s been a problem since 1984.

I can’t source most of this, so you’ll have to assume that my memory isn’t too fuzzy, and I wouldn’t lie to you. But while plenty of Apple engineers have been happy to help out game developers here and there, Steve’s seen bigger things for his Macintosh; leaps and bounds of creativity, imagination, and the simplification of daily tasks. Not bad, but we want to shoot the undead too, and Mr. Jobs doesn’t really seem to get that.

So thanks to that, and years of management confusion at Apple, Mac gaming has never had the market share of Windows gaming. That didn’t mean no one was playing, though. The company that created Halo made its first fortune off a Mac game. The company behind Doom and Quake always found it worthwhile to publish Mac releases of their titles. But there was one game, a classic among Windows gamers, one that always stood separate. When people tested me for rabid Apple fandom, there was always one fact I’d easily admit to: you couldn’t play Half-Life on the thing.

And there’s some odd history behind that. According to rumor, Half-Life for the Mac was nearly done: in late beta-testing, at worst. Then Gabe Newell of Valve went to Apple and asked Steve Jobs to make some changes to the Mac OS so it would run his games better. (I suspect it was either DRM hooks in the OS, or more likely, licensing DirectX from Microsoft… both of which had a snowflake’s chance in Molten Core of happening.) Steve probably explained in his winning way where he figured Newell’s head was stuck, and Mac HL was immediately cancelled.

But, you know, other guys kept making money, small though they might be. And did I mention “Molten Core”? Yeah, see, that’s a place in a little game called World of Warcraft… a game with around 11 million subscribers, available in parallel for the PC and the Mac. So, maybe Mac gamers are only 1% of the PC gaming market. That meant that Blizzard was collecting subscription money from 100,000 gamers every month. Obviously, that’s the kind of money than any successfully game company can totally ignore…

Oh. Hm. Well. And, you say, Macs all run on Intel motherboards, now? Well. Perhaps we can do this without trying uselessly to twist Steve’s arm after all…

So, now we’ll have Steam on the Mac, and I can play HL and Portal without dual-booting, and not have to roll my eyes when a friend tells me about this awesome little $5 game download they found there the other day. I’m happy. Gabe will get my money. He’s happy. And it only took him over a decade to figure out how to reach into my wallet!* Well, we all just need a little time, sometimes.

*I confess, he already has some of it. I bought HL for the PlayStation 2, and Portal for Windows, playing the latter by dual-booting my Intel Mac. But Valve says that I’ll get a copy of Portal for Mac for free just because I registered the original through Steam… and suddenly, I’m even more well-disposed to the company. (I previously expressed concerns about the Steam service, and they still exist, but the company seems to be going out of their way to make the utility worth more than the hassle. That seems good business.)

A Pirate Must Live A Pirate’s Life

I’m slowly returning to the Internet after the wonderful madness of the last few weeks. There’s plenty about those days to talk about, too, but I’m warming up with something especially trivial: WoW faction transfers.

When you make a World of Warcraft character, you choose one of two factions, and then one of five races within each. Once you’ve done that, you can’t talk to the people on the other side, help them very much with their adventuring – in fact, the main thing you can do is attack and kill them. There are various game design reasons for this setup, though I think some of them might have had alternate solutions.

But, of course, everyone who plays Alliance has some friends who signed up for the Horde, and vice-versa. So, Blizzard is now offering to let you switch your character from one side to the other for a fee: many restrictions will of course apply, to keep metagamers from abusing the ability. Whatever race you were in your faction will be changed to a race from the new one.

Frankly, I’d have liked to see them do it a little different: allow you to change faction while keeping your own race. Outcast gnomes in the mesa of Thunder Bluff! Acerbic Blood Elves in the forests of Darnassus! Humans attacked on sight should they dare to attempt to return to Stormwind! Now, that would be some fun.

I’m sure that Blizzard thought about that, and had what they consider very good reasons for doing it the way they have. But from a role-playing standpoint, at least, I think it would have been extremely cool.

The Hammer Fell – On Me

Okay, I give. I suck so much at Starcraft that I can’t beat the last Terran mission even by using the resources, supplies, map, and quick build cheats. The only thing left would be to hit the automatic “I WIN” cheat, which sort of defeats any residual point. (One of the “Monty Python” CD games included an “I WIN” button at the very beginning, which if pressed, declared the player the winner, presented a fanfare, and ended the game.)

I’m wondering if I ought to bother with Starcraft II after all. Besides, there’s always Diablo III.

Brief updates

  • 07:49 @starstryder That’s right! you need Katamari Damacy instead: #
  • 07:51 Wow. Absolutely exhausted yesterday, nearly wrecked on the way home. Think I’m feeling better this morning. #
  • 13:33 @queenofpith If a Richmond Dave & Busters installs the VWE MechWarrior simulation pods, I am so there! #
  • 14:56 Job perk: had lengthy hallway discussion with boss this morning about Dollhouse, Dr. Who, and BSG. Local PBS may be showing 4th Doctor eps! #
  • 17:30 Just watched Blizzard’s Uldar preview video. Holy smoke! For the first time ever, I’m really sorry that I’ve never done endgame raiding. #
  • 18:42 OMG, this History Channel program on the secrets of the art on the dollar bill is complete bunk. #
  • 19:42 Microsoft will ban you for XBox Live for being out as gay. Not that my money matters, but they won’t get a gaming dime from me now. #
  • 20:55 This History Channel program on Atlantis is also bunk, but at least I expected that going in. #

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