PC Gamer Guitar Hero III Un-review

Guitar Hero III

PC-Gamer Jan 2008 gave Guitar Hero III a low rating because of “low frame rates”.
Let me be the first to tell you this is not fair.
They review Crysis in the same magazine, and that game requires serious horsepower and a new graphics card.
If they had actually tried Guitar Hero III on the same system, they would get results like I do for both games on my now 2 year old AMD dual core 4200+ with the latest Saphire ATI 3870 chipset HD video card.
It’s all in the video card.

I will be the first to admit that Intel was the place to be for the last 2 years, however I do not buy computers *that* frequently.
I plan to upgrade soon, but not before some serious comparisons (as opposed to ridiculous speculation) come out between Intel and new AMD technology.

Anyway more to the point, with the latest video card, Guitar Hero III’s game play is amazing and the graphics are great.
Yep, Crysis is good too.
Sorry to break the news to you, but unless you’re in nVidia 8800 or ATI 3800 chip territory, you’ve got crap.
Now upgrade and buy some games to wow yourself on your 1920×1080 flat-panel TV.
Actually, a $500 Samsung 245BW 24″ 1920×1200 monitor works just fine.

One other little thing, the games utilize 5.1 sound, so be sure to grab a $70 logitech X560 or better set of speakers.
(I’ve had something like that for many years, actually).

Microsoft and Bungie “devolve” relationship

Microsoft is spinnging Bungie off to be an independent company again.
Shane Kim, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios said “We saw ‘Halo 3’ and we were all, like, WTF? This is just Halo 2!! We are *so* *done* with them”.

Harold Ryan, talking head for Bungie was heard to cackle “Hehehehe, the plan *worked*!”

DirectX Revisionism

Iain dugg
an article about the upcoming DirectX 10 specification.

Let me rephrase the opening of the article more accurately. The original reads:

Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API) was first introduced in 1995. DirectX was designed to make life easier for software developers by providing a standard platform developers could use to easily make multimedia software and game programming for the Windows Platform.

Before the arrival of DirectX, developers had to program their software titles to take advantage of features found in each individual hardware component. With the wealth of devices on the market, spanning from input devices to graphics and sound cards, supporting every hardware device on the market was a tedious, time-consuming process.

The only fatual part of that is the first sentence about DicrectX coming out in 1995.
Here is my rephrasing.

Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API) was first introduced in 1995. DirectX was designed to lure software developers into using a proprietary, Microsoft-owned API, providing vendor lock-in and reduced availability of games on other platforms.

Before the arrival of DirectX, developers were using OpenGL, a cross-platform, standardized 3D graphics library that allowed developers to take advantage of 3D graphics without requiring deep knowledge of that hardware.

BFG PhysX card on sale in Canada


You **can** get them in Canada!

Iain pointed me to
this BFG page
when he told me I could buy a PhysX card for my PC.
He said it didn’t seem to be available in Canada.

However, if you scroll down the page you will see that they are promoting the following Canadian places to get the BFG PhysX card:

TigerDirect’s price is
which is a bit steep considering it only costs $300 in the US.

Maybe I should get one before I go.
$CDN/$US is currently at 0.9085, so if I buy it here (ignoring costs of converting currency),
it would “only” cost $330 or so.

Physics Engines

I was somewhat taken aback last night when Iain told me that physics chips for games were no good.
He expanded on this by saying that because the data flows over the PCI bus, it slows everything down.

Now, wouldn’t they be PCI-express cards? Hm.

Today I ran across a Slashdot story titled
Comparing PC Game Physics,
which details how the companies behind the two big physics engines are depating each other’s merits on public forums.

Apparently it started when Havok, the company behind Half-Life 2’s physics engine (I guess it’s a 3rd party library that the Half-Life guys licensed?)
commented on
Ageia’s PhysX card being used in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, which also a Havok game.

Ageia has now
shot back a response.

Interesting goings-on..

WolfKing gaming key..pad

WolfKing keypad
click for larger pic

Iain pointed out
an article on ExtremeTech
that talks about this thing called the WolfKing.

It’s designed for first-person-shooters (FPS’s), where you use the q-w-e/a-s-d/z-x-c section of the keyboard a lot.

Personally, *I* use ‘q’ for move left and ‘e’ for move right, but there are many (most I think) who use ‘a’ and ‘d’ instead.

If they were smart, they would just make this thing a USB hub, so you can plug your keyboard into it and then plug it into the computer,
all without using up another USB port.
Don’t know if that’s what they did though.

Xcode 2.2 supports MS Visual Studio assembly

Xcode 2.2 has been release, and mentioned in the release notes was this little nugget:

Visual Studio compatible inline assembly: In order to provide migration
support for applications moving from other Intel platforms, we have begun to
provide VS inline assembly support. This work is not complete at this point butsupports many usages. Please file problem reports for missing functionality.

With this support, these game developers will find it much easier to bring such code over the MacOS.

I am thinking of games here, and any assembly-level libraries they’ve written to speed things up.
This would have to be pure code, not something that calls out to any platform-specific APIs.
Maybe a physics engine or something.

Then again, if you can dual-boot (or even better, switch-boot) to your game-playing OS (formerly known as Windows), why bother?


Mac version of Star Wars Battlefront

Yay, it’s out!
Ronnie, Michael and I have been playing this on the PC for the last little while and it’s quite addictive.
It’s not the most recent game, and the 3D is pretty good, although not up to today’s standards (i.e. it will look much the same on a $75 video card and a $700 video card).

Now to find someone in Toronto who stocks it!