This is just something I remembered I took a picture of a while back, and I thought “what better place for this than the interwebs!”. Really, how often do you see praying mantises fucking on the side of a trailer? Like… never.
Anyways, that’s not the real reason for this post. Actually, there’s not much of a reason. I just wanted to ramble about my latest gaming. I’m not sure if it’s sad or not, but I’ve been having the most fun playing old games lately. Specifically, I played both campaigns of Warcraft 2, plus most of the Human campaign in the expansion pack (Beyond the Dark Portal). After a week-long intermission of playing NOLF, I moved on to another oldie: Command and Conquer (free here). However, the NOD campaign wasn’t as fun as the GDI one; GDI has too many versatile heavy weapons. If you don’t have some SAM sites yet, they’ll fuck you up with helicopters and especially air strikes. If you don’t have 5 light tanks, you’ll get rocked by a mammoth tank. And no more carting engineers into their base in an APC to jack their shit. So, I gave up on NOD and switched to C&C: Red Alert. Occasionally, I get an urge to play C&C: Renegade again. It’s too cool being in the middle of a strategy game. Alas, I never finished Renegade the two times I tried.
I’m not sure exactly what sparked this bought of classic gaming–maybe nothing in particular, but I’ve got some guesses. One is that my system is falling below the acceptable performance level for most new games. I was looking forward to playing Bioshock until I found out about the steep system requirements. Even though the community has fixed the video card shader requirements somewhat, I still feel like I’m having trouble getting into the game because of performance issues–try battling a Big Daddy with 6fps. Another reason for not playing recent video games is that I feel like I’m turning into the demographic old gamer that only enjoys strategy or nostalgic gaming. Hopefully, a game will come along soon to prove this wrong, though. The final reason is that my taste for them has been soured by constant bugginess and instability problems. It seems like every game I’ve played recently has had at least one problem I’ve needed to google, even the older games. Let’s go through a list, shall we…
- Red Alert: Problems installing under XP. Fix: Run the DOS installer under compatibility mode for Win95 or just copy the install directory to your hard drive. Don’t forget to patch it.
- No One Lives Forever: No music. Fix: Run DXDIAG, under Music tab, disable “Default Port Acceleration”. Apparently, NOLF uses MIDI music with their own sound font.
- Warcraft II: Doesn’t run in XP. Fix: Get the Battle.Net edition.
- Sven Coop: Can’t play online. Fix: Crack the authentication, because WON is dead. Check out Steamless Project, but probably don’t bother with the WON alternatives.
- Dark Messiah: Overheated my video card initially, but then just started randomly freezing halfway through the game. Fix: Gave up on this one.
- Stalker: Oh, where to begin. Fix: Play Deus Ex or Oblivion.
- And finally, Fortress Forever…
I’ve been pretty excited off and on over the last year about Fortress Forever, the source engine remake of Half-Life’s Team Fortress Classic mod. Well, I finally checked up on it recently and noticed they finished it in September, weeks before the launch of TF2 in fact. But of course, when I got onto an empty server to give it a whirl, I locked up within minutes. Googling around, I came up with several supposed fixes to the generic “looping sound crash/freeze”. I dunno about crashes, but whenever my system freezes and the sound loops every few seconds, I know it’s a video card problem. Sure enough, most of the fixes were of the video card variety. So I tried the typical “update your drivers” fix, thus finding out that ATI has inadvertently (or maybe not) started phasing out AGP cards from its newest drivers (7.7+). Shit, my Direct3D wouldn’t even initialize with the 7.9 Cats. I went back to the next latest set of Omega drivers (based on 7.4) because I enjoy the control panel that doesn’t force bloatware rape on your system like the Catalyst Control Center that fucked my system over last time I installed it. But part of the Omega control panel doesn’t work for some reason, so I may end up going back to 7.6 + ATI’s control panel from some old Cat version (4.12?).
Long story short, the drivers weren’t the issue. I tried lowering sound card acceleration in DXDIAG and setting FF to launch in Direct3D 8.0. None of this did any good. Then I got a hint that reminded me of a “fix” I used to get Stalker working. You may recall from this news post, how I set some Paged Pool parameters to stop Stalker from freezing. At the time, I was unsure that such a change to the memory management would affect other programs negatively. From my understanding, setting PagedPoolSize to 0xFFFFFFFF basically just told Windows to use as big a pool as it could, thus making it difficult to run out. Apparently, the source engine doesn’t like this. After I forced a value of 402653184 (Dec) bytes (384MB), I was able to play an entire game of the classic map Well as a sniper. (Betting this fix may also work for my Dark Messiah troubles, as it also uses the source engine.) I’m still feeling out this new TFC, but it was still great fun and everyone in the community is awesome. I had some problems sniping though, at first…I kept trying to make lag shots like I was still on a 56K modem. Nope, you don’t need much lead with 70ms ping.
Oh…and FUCK YOU, STALKER! Ukrainian piece of shit.