Thursday Jan 03, 2008

Twinsen's Adventures on a modern machine

Over the break I installed Twinsen's Oddessey, also known as Little Big Adventure 2, on my Alienware Aurora earlier this week. I have not been able to play this since we upgraded from Windows 95. I had previously discovered a couple of emulators that might be of help, and wrote about them last Xmas. I chose to try Dosbox who hang out at http://www.dosbox.com. I chose them, because their ambitions seem larger and more open and LBA was documented as working.

So, I downloaded the installer and ran it to install dosbox. I checked out their install guide, which gave good advice on directory structure and the mount command. I used the dosbox to install the software, using two mount commands, one to make the cdrom available to the dosbox, and the second does an effective chroot and assigns a drive letter to the install directory. This also needs to be done when running the program. The other really usefull resource I found was at MagicBall, where they document in a step by step manner how to get LBA2 to run.

 

LBA2 running inside a Dosbox under windows xp

 

Here's how it looks running, you can make it run full screen, but it looks pretty poor as it was designed for a VGA screen. The other great thing is that they claim dosbox runs on other operating systems. So if you have a MAC, or are using Linux, then you can now have access to this great game.

Marginally more detail is on my bliki, but if you want to copy me you're better off looking at the resources above. 

I wonder how easy a Solaris x86 build would be, or if it'll run in a branded zone.

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Monday Dec 25, 2006

Sometimes the future ain't better than the past

Looking at the Xmas (computer) games we over the last couple of days, we all decided we rather missed Twinsen's "Little Big Adventure". We seem to have had this game since we first got a computer in the house. It is a delightfull, if some what surreal, third party adventure set in a fantasy world. The games house that wrote it is/was french. (You can google or wikipedia it, and the produced a followup.)

It looks like its abandonware now, we'll see. I have tried to run it on the new computer's but the game predates Direct-X. It is for this reason that I searched for, found and bookmarked these dos emulators!.

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Thursday Oct 26, 2006

The shady border between the virtual and the real

Chris Melissinos takes issue with Ashlee Vance of the Register about the utility of Second Life, on his blog last week (I can be a bit slow). He quotes a number of organisations using the virtual world of "Second Life" to offer virtual services, including Universities and it seems Reuters. I expect the financial services companies will be in on it soon. To me its a shame; West Nottingham College implemented courseware in the Neverwinter Nights game engine, which may have been more fun; it probably depends upon what your studying. WNC believes its an excellent learning/teaching vehicle, so perhaps this'll take off.

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Sunday Aug 06, 2006

Multiplayer Baldur's Gate at Home

If you're a fan of my del.icio.us RSS feed, you'll have noticed that I have been adding some links about Baldur's Gate. This is the first version released, and I finally got multi-player working in the home today, so I expect to be running through the game again.

I have discovered [at length] that Bioware used Microsoft's the "Direct Play" API in Direct X which won't permit local tcp/ip addresses to participate in a multi-player game. The simplest solution is to use IPX, which fortunately Windows XP still supports. For those looking to solve the same problem, I have documented my researches here... on my personal Wiki, although I have not yet documented my success.

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Sunday Jul 23, 2006

Some Games to play...

There was also an article about board games for the family. Their correspondent was planning to go on holiday in the Lake District, where you can still expect some rain over the summer. The article is here.... Among the games/sites they mention are Cirondo, a sci-fi, galactic domination game, which started as an online game, but not one I'd heard of. I may check it out. Also mentioned was the Board Game Company. This sells a lot of games, but the Guardian found Carcassone (wikipedia & boardgamegeek) worthy of mention and together with Ticket to Ride (wikipedia & boardgamegeek).

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Monday Feb 20, 2006

Coutries contiguous to Russia

In my last article, I wrote that we'd played "Wipeout" with "the countries contiguous with Russia". We had a row about Latvia which was settled by someone at the table next to ours, who confirmed that Latvia does share a border with Russia. Being a pedant, I've looked it up and the obvious countries are "Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China". (11) This leaves some very interesting geography in Europe, where for some reason I don't know about, the city of Kalingrad and its coastal hinterland are Russian. This makes both Lithuania and Poland, Russia's neighbours.

We agreed that the USA (Alaska) was not a contiguous neighbour and by this argument, neither is Japan. Interestingly, Kazakhstan acts as a buffer between Russia and the ex-soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, and while the winning player did not name the first three of these states, he did use the last.

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Monday Feb 13, 2006

Political Games

Republic, the Revolution I went shopping over the weekend and bought a couple of games. Now we have a new computer we can begin to catchup on what we've been missing out on for the last two years.

One game that caught our eye was “Republic, the Revolution”. I had had this pointed out to me before and it reminded me of Junta (see Answer.com & Wikipedia), which I have never got to play. It would seem that the computer game is set in a post Soviet eastern European state, and has a potentially a stronger story line and more strategies for success.

Junta seems based on some of the, or similar games first introduced to me by Michael Laver in “Playing Politics” which I read when it first came out. A second edition, called “Playing Politics: the Nightmare continues” was published in 1993 and a science around them and other similar games seems to have developed. Several of these games were referenced in “Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki, recently recommended by Jonathan Scwartz in his blog. (I've given you enough to find them on your favourite online bookstore).

But to return to Republic, I tried it last night but found it quite hard to pick up. The UI's are quite old fashioned, although how I expected a city's political composition to be displayed I'm not so sure, and I really rather enjoy the “Leninist/Soviet” look of the clothes, architecture and iconography. Anyway I checked it out on the internet and failed to find very much. The two crucial resources are the vendor site here... (you'll need to enable popups), with downloads such as wallpaper or buddy icons and “Game Faqs”, here..., although the forum referenced never took off. (I'll have to see if I need to do something about that).

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Thursday Apr 28, 2005

Wipeout

A mind game for journey's. Define a category for which there are many answers, such as States of the USA, non-members of the UN, Schwarzenegger (or Streep) fims and then each player bids as to how many answers they can name. The highest bidder, (the last bid after everyone else has passed) starts and seeks to meet his or her bid. If they suceed, they win, if they fail (you'd best agree a time limit) the lother players get to offer answers. There's to be no repetition and the last player (again best agree a time limit) to state an answer wins.

My favourite question is "Films with sequels where the sequel is as good as or better than the original", but it can only be played so often; its a category rarely added to. It also creates massive room for disagreement, which is part of the fun.

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Betrayal at the House on the Hill

For various reasons, the other month we went into Aldershot and visited "The Games Shop". This is, as you'd guess, a shop that sells board games, games books, jigsaws and other games accessories; but not computer games, which is maybe why it has no web site. At our first visit, last year, we picked up "Murder at the Abbey" also here..., and this time bought "Betrayal at the House on the Hill". Its fantastic - collaborative, replayable, and with strong varied stories, our first night was Buffy's Hell's Gate, a deeply dramatic story, I'm playing Professor Longfellow, academic buffer, very knowledgeable, limited strength and sanity, trapped in the basement by the flames of the abyss, I gave "Flash", the school running team star my mystic ring as he climbed out of the basement using his rope to take it Madame Victoria. He joined up with the other two players and we managed to perform the ceremonies to close the Hell Gate and discover the secret passage just in time to rescue me from a firey death.

This game is advertised by its publishers here..., and the publisher's forums are here....

This is the second great game we've got from this shop, so if you're local and into games look'em up.

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Monday Oct 18, 2004

Education, Education

We were watching University Challange the other week when the picture question came up and our younger son answered all three correctly identifying a war-hammer, a halberd and a morning-star/flail. Our good opinion of his diligence at history studies fell rapidly when he told us he knew because of the hours on the computer playing "Diablo".

Tuesday Aug 03, 2004

Where the real & virtual worlds collide!

The G2 supplement in the Guardian yesterday See Here... covers the phenonomen of real life trading of virtual objects, that only exist in online game worlds. I had hoped to ease myself into the world of games industry punditry, mainly because I don't play enough to be a player's doyen, nor do I work closely enough with the industry as a consultant, but blogs are usefull for unfinished thoughts as well as polished polemic.

The current generation of MMORPGs1 are the inheritors of a long tradition. The majority of these seem to be in the fantasy fiction genre of sword and sorcery borrowing from Tolkien & Conan, but if you go to www.mysupersales.com , one of the trading exchanges, you'll see that both science fiction (and most bizarrely) cyberpunk2 games are also available. Interestingly for Sun these games typically charge a subscription fee for access, and are definitely an illustration of how IT companies can make money on the basis of customer relationships and recurring income streams in exchange for a valued service.

The fictional heritage travels from the written fiction, through role playing & board games to two computer games genres, the online 1st person shooter and the CRPG/MUD. The merging of these two genres, the adoption of the 3rd party view and the expansion of the online capabilities of the internet wirespeed and server capabilities has enabled these life size virtual game worlds. The Guardian article (see above) interviews participants and reflects their varying degrees of involvement and the drivers that have enabled trading between the real world and games worlds.

The study of Labour Economics gives us a work/leisure utility curve, and different people have different trade offs between swapping an hour of leisure for an hour of work; they place differing values on the worth of the leisure hour3, while the market places a value on the extra work hour. This is their marginal utility rate. By selling virtual objects created by spending leisure time, the traders are arbitraging their work leisure utility factors4. This is true until we discover people who consider the creation/discovery of these tradable commodities their income source, I wonder how long it'll take.

Its probably not possible to pre-calculate the utilities involved because the traded objects have a value above and beyond the hours invested (a psychic value), and are also still unlikely to trade at wage rates, certainly not the buyer's wage rates5. It should be born in mind that the discovery/creation of these tradable objects takes a lot of time. It may be that these mismatches between market value and labour cost is one of those economically oberservable phenomena that suggest that a new virtual world, factor of production exists. This psychic income within the price determination mechanism should inhibit the growth of brokers or futures traders, because unless the primary trader is in the market, psychic cost and value cannot be determined.

Its interesting (to me) that the Guardian's article is published on the day that ID software launch/relaunch Doom in its latest incarnation Doom3 since it was Doom that first introduced me to multi-player computer gaming and the first I came across that permitted internet gaming.


1.    Massively multi-player online role playing games.

2.    How bizarre is role playing a cyber hacker in an online game hosted on the internet. Post modern or what.

3.    The increasing value people will place on leisure time as they work more is the reason that overtime i.e. payments for working above and beyond one's contracted hours (remember that!) was traditionally paid at enhanced rates.

4.    This whole process of converting, combining & defining factors of production is really difficult and controversial, so there's plenty of room to disagree with what may happen in both the long and short term.

5.     The Guardian article quotes a Final Fantasy XI character (Avatar) being sold for just under $1300, how many work hours is that?

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