Thursday Aug 06, 2009

Little Big Adventure

I have been struggling to get VRDP from Virtual Box working on my home network, of which more maybe later, but I took a break to install one of the greatest games ever on the home machines with the help of my younger son. We finally found a copy of Little Big Adventure that'll run on modern machines. This is hosted at LBA HQ. It runs native but recommends running under DosBox. So that is what I did...

LBA V1 running on the Alienware under DosBox

I now have two programs that run under DosBox and so place my command files in the Windows shortcut as -c arguments. For more see my bliki articles DosBox and Lba & dosbox. The downloaded archive contains a .iso but I have not worked out how to fool DosBox into thinking the .iso is a CD, but its probably possible so one wouldn't need the CD to be loaded into the cd reader, but unless you sort this out, you'll need to burn a CD.

Long time readers may remember that I put LBA2 on the machine a while ago.


Friday Mar 14, 2008

MMORPG, making them massive

During the meeting, we considered the opportunities around Project Darkstar. This is a shardless gaming platform operating environment, written in Java, and inspired by Sun's extensive experience in building mission critical enterprise computing platforms.

MMORPGs seem to be even more popular in some of the far-eastern countries than in the west and its possible that by offering a programming platform Sun can create new conversations with game authors. Make no mistake, Darkstar is a game author's offering. One of the more interesting derivations of Darkstar is project wonderland, built on top of 'Looking Glass' an experimental three dimensional desktop, which has led to the creation of a business/collaboration orientated networked virtual world. This allows us to offer lessons from mission critical computing and its efficiency and predictability requirements, not to mention an understanding of the difference between a game world and business collaboration. It should be noted that networked virtual worlds are seen by both the EU Commission and Gartner as important computing platforms of the future.

The Darkstar code has been published under the GPL v2.0 and talking and thinking about the implications for developers with my colleagues led to my considering Bioware's experimentation with post royalty licenses. This interests me because together with the second life license which explicitly ensures that authors own their intellectual property, they both illustrate that the lawyers (or license designers) can ensure that licenses explicitly target both collaborative and and monetisation behaviour and reinforce the business models of the original license authors. The GPL uses sharing as a gatekeeper condition, while as noted above Second Life license protects author's intellectual property, hence encouraging the development of virtual property within the "world". The Bioware Aurora license ensures that purchaser's of the bioware games get the free right to use all community content. Bioware's Aurora license with which they licensed Neverwinter Nights and its kicker modules ensured that any user created content had to be distributed under the Aurora license. This ensured a no-commerce clause, for the binaries, and the requirement to run the modifications using a licensed version of the runtime. This both protected Bioware's license income and meant that external authors created additional demand for the original game, tools and runtime. N.B. These are not distributed separately.

There is a growing economic theory about the "optimum welfare price" of software and/or information, which I have promised Dominc Kay that I will write up. Copyright and monopoly ownership are legal distortions that inhibit this price occurring in a market. It is however generally the case that most inventors/authors intellectual property rights are fully asserted and freedom only licensed. However, the economic theory is for another day.


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 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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Friday Mar 09, 2007

What's my blog worth?

Another blog valuation at Dane Carlson's blog been pointed out to me by FlexRex.So here's mine.

My blog is worth

How much is your blog worth?


This uses the technorati api to query the technorati ranking, which undervalues a roller blog because technorati treats the long and short names as seperate blogs.. However, the html above is not dynamic and so I have done two queries and added the result. The number above is Dane's view of how much my blog is worth today.  (His link to the backing research is  a bit out of date. Tristian Louis' researc
has now been archived.

An alternative valuation is made at Blogshares, which values the blog at $15,000. @ blogshares



Listed on BlogShares


Although, I really should learn how reindex it as I havn't done this  ever. If you know how to do this, I suggest you post a comment and buy some of my shares. 


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!.


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 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.


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).


Thursday Jun 01, 2006

The Technology behind Virtual Worlds

I popped in to see Jeff Kesselman (who blogs here...) & Seth Proctor (blogs {occassionally here...) at their Project Darkstar demo. There's no question but that Project Darkstar demos always make an impact. Project Darkstar is a java based server platfrom designed for writing massively scalable games. We're seeking to offer our unique technology platform for applications developers a proposition to games authors and hosts. You can see their sites; a project dashboard or a Sun Labs spotlight article or their project page at I didn't and havn't spent the time getting to know the project, the queues are usually so long, but as Telco's move from "triple play" to "quad-play", it'd be good to learn more.

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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.


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 & 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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