Its been nearly a year since i’ve posted here, I realised today. Fact is I kind-of forgot about here since i’ve been doing most of my Online Activities on FurAffinity nowadays.
So what has happened since last time? Well…
– I posted a grand total of 2 new stories (make that 3 in a few hours time).
– I finished the first year of university and am currently battling through the second.
– After the new PS3 Slim came out, I bought one. Cutting the story short, they’ve fixed a lot of the issues that plagued the machine when it was first released. Most notably the price point.
– My Xbox 360 got three red lights in February and I had to sent it to be repaired. Microsoft repaired it for free in under a week.
– I hooked up with Blacknlrose after leaving WWOEC the first time. He’s now one of my closest friends.
– I watched Twilight and found it wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be. Its still half-finished and with insane dire-logue though.
– I quit WWOEC, returned after a few months, then quit again. The return was full of drama, and I quit again a month later. The whole place is completely and utterly depressing.
– I named Limbo of the Lost as the worst game of the last decade.
And probably most notably…
– I’m now hooked on Ruby Gloom. The greatest cartoon ever made.
Thats about it for now. Kaboogle.
We’ve all watched Blue Peter when we were younger, and seen the arts-and-crafts projects they demonstrate. I never thought i’d ever have to use the skills I learnt on the program in my adult career. Well, it seems that those skills actually did become useful last night, when I came up with an idea to make life brighter.
I carry a Notebook around with me a lot of the time – its a lot more convenient than dragging a Laptop. However, the covers are rather dull and fail to stand out. A lot of people tend to make their work stand out by buying notebooks with special covers for an extortionate price. However as none of the designs were – make my own covers.
So how did I make them? Simple. I did the following…
- Re-size an image to A5 (half A4) and print out on Photo Paper. I printed two on one sheet of A4, and cut them out.
- Trim image to the right size by using a Paper Trimmer (preferred and accurate) or a pair of Scissors (messy, but cheap and easy).
- Spread Glue (I used a Glue-Stick) on top of the Notebook’s front cover. Add quite a bit – it needs to stick down firmly.
- Spread Glue on the corners of the picture.
- Position and push down picture on top of the cover, and smooth all around the sides by rubbing your finger against.
- Place a heavy-ish weight on top (a hardback book same size will do) and leave to dry for 5 minutes.
Simple and easy to do – considering my printer takes 45 seconds to print the page, it took me around 2 minutes per notebook (excluding drying time). The result is a semi-professional look and the joy of standing out from the crowd of boring Notebooks.
Okay, maybe its not as exciting as other art projects, but you can’t complain having the Furry Bomb series covers…
Edit: Pictures removed due to TOS on Photobucket
As we speak i’m attempting to work on a Ruby Gloom Lemon as a collaboration with a fellow Artist. Problem is that it may be delayed by quite a while. For some reason my body chose this week to completely fuck up for no reason whatsoever. Just brilliant – just when the University Work gets intense as well…
To people interested in my work, I can confirm Three are in the works. One just needs a rewrite (Beta), the second is halfway done (Alpha), and the third is still in planning. I can confirm the Ruby Gloom story will hit Beta (re-write required) – hopefully sometime this week so long my health improves somewhat.
My health is maybe a big factor – been big and slow may be the reason I run out of energy easily. Hopefully after I join the Gym this week, things should improve (and i’ll slide into an XL-size shirt just fine)…
Also, a tip from Kitty. DON’T BUY A PSP RIGHT NOW. Rumors state a UMD-less PSP 2 will be released later this year. If it does, PSP 1000, 2000 and 3000 prices will drop to rock bottom (£34.99 or so) as they will be obsolete. As will the UMD games – £4.99 per UMD doesn’t sound too far-fetched. Sure, i’ll be getting angry email from Sony fans from this statement, but its just a buyer’s tip to save you money.
Recently I wrote a damning review of a story on a Forum which was absolutely terrible. Because I haven’t posted for a while (and the review in question is rather humorous), i’ve reposted it here for your enjoyment.
I must first say well done on the basics. Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation is perfect, and now the paragraphs have been properly inserted, its easy enough to read.
And that is all that is good about the story.
This piece really is the “Battlefield Earth” of Erotic Stories, and is ultimately one of the worst pieces of fiction I have read. The reasoning? It is just so goddamn boring. There is no pacing involved at all: paragraphs are spent harping on about a person’s autobiography before any events take place (within a short time frame). The descriptions are over-extended and read more like a Chemistry Textbook than a story. The storyline itself is made up of random anecdotes sewn together. Characters interact with each other without warning, and explanations have been left out entirely.
I referred to “Battlefield Earth” as I placed it in comparison to L. Ron Hubbard’s Science Fiction disasterpiece. It simply makes a statement for itself through what it features rather than the structure itself. What we are in for is a incredibly boring read-through where it takes ages to get to anything remotely exciting or interesting. The story is almost as long as Battlefield Earth itself: the entire size of it is way too big to make itself known as an Erotic Story. Most of the space is wasted, with details and bullet points pasted in just to increase the page count. Listening to a Used Car Salesman speak for 3 hours about Fuel Economy is more enjoyable, and just as intellectually motivating.
So in review? This is without a doubt the worst Erotic Story I have ever read. Sure, it may have better language than the horrors written in Script seen on the forums, but at least those are more interesting.
It has certainly been one hell of a week; i’m absolutely exhausted by it. As a result its very unlikely i’ll be online anytime in the next 7 days. So much has to be done, it seems…
Some people wonder when was the longest hour of my entire life. Well, after a completely and utterly boring lecture yesterday, some of my friends decided to go to the pub across the road. Of course, I decided to go as well, enjoying their company. Walk in, sit down, relax. The latter has to be a lie – I was so bored and uncomfortable it was unbearable.
Basically I feel the “local” culture of Britain should be reserved for men undergoing a mid-life crisis. The whole atmosphere felt incredibly dirty with stained fabrics, curtains and carpets that have seen better days. The air was filled with the disgusting aroma of cheap beer, and the noise of louts pouring it down their throats. I have to say that it wasn’t much better at the table we sat around either – for some reason it turned from an interesting conversation into the most boring drone-a-thon ever.
Beer seems to make Computer Science students into Uber-geeks. I joined the course as I think on the Application rather than Core Mechanics. So you can guess that the intricacies of one’s code listings isn’t exactly the most interesting thing in the world. Been stuck with the now-geeks and the atmosphere intimidating, I felt alone. Lost in a Hellhole where I would never fit in. Obviously and Thankfully though, the topic changed when the food arrived. And it got worse.
After seeing what they were eating, i’ve decided to go Vegetarian. The steak was raw and bloody, and they had covered it in sauce so you couldn’t taste the meat. Maybe gourmets eat it that way, but I found it quite odd to avoid the taste of the meat altogether. The sight and smell of the disasterpiece Bessie the Cow became made me feel incredibly ill. Unable to take it, I excused myself and left quickly, leaving my Pepsi half-finished.
Outside I breathed in fresh air as I waited for the bus. I felt like an old man having to go into hell like one of those Pubs. After what seemed like forever, I arrived at the City Centre and hit the Coffee House. Once the Espresso hit my tastebuds, everything felt better. Lying back in the chair while feeling the sunlight through the windows, I felt like the Teenager I am again. Been stuck in that hellhole had drained my energy, and feeling the sunlight made it all better.
So what is the result of my experience? Vegetarianism, a liking to fresh air, and a note to never head into a Bar or Pub ever again. Feeling out of place isn’t exactly the thing I like to be.
(Note: My friends, this isn’t a knock at you. You are all awesome and very good fun to have around. Its just that I have a different idea of Fun, I guess)
For some reason, i’ve rather enjoyed writing the last two articles on bad Video Game Consoles. So I decided to do another, only this time choosing the consoles I am about to royally thrash from a single manufacturer – Atari. Sure, Atari hit success with the VCS 2600 and ST series. But their later attempts at gaming were so bad, they were unplayable monstrosities. Keep in mind one thing however – this isn’t the only Atari article. I’ll be following this one up with another, which you will see soon enough…
ATARI 5200 SUPERSYSTEM
Despite the Atari 2600 been a massive success, Atari’s managers were worried. The more powerful Intellivision and Colecovision machines were available on the market, and were slowly but surely cutting into Atari’s market share. To Atari, the best way around was to create a new system to replace the VCS 2600, in as little time as possible. The result was the Atari 5200, and it was in all respects rushed out of the door unfinished.
To save time and costs, Atari’s engineers re-used the system architecture of their Atari 400/800 computer line. This was a proven technology, but in order to lower the price to appeal to Video Gamers, they had to make some small cutbacks. At the time, the 400/800 shipped with 48kb RAM – the 5200 had 16kb usable. The 10kb built-in Software was removed and replaced with 2kb full of basic system routines. The machine replaced the keyboard with 4 controller ports, and was much larger, with a storage compartment in the back for controllers.
However, the machine was half-baked in the way of problems that occured. The first was apparant as soon as you picked up the controller: the monstrosity you were supposed to control games with. Atari had added the numerical keypad seen on other consoles, a number of fire/trigger buttons, and an Analog Joystick. Now, the analog joystick was an innovation compared to the digital (4-way) joysticks of the ages. Sadly, execute was a shambles – the stick was not self-centering, so gamers found it was hard to stop moving in a single direction (as its standard for the stick to return to neutral when not touched). Imagine playing any games with this layout – a port of Asteroids was scrapped as even the programmers had problems using it. Even worse, the controllers were badly made, and often fell apart after just a few hours.
Due to BIOS Changes, the system could not run software designed for the Atari 400/800 computers. And due to a different system layout, running 2600 games was also impossible. The result was that been incompatible with 2600 games meant that players had to abandon their old libraries of great games and put up with the great selection of the 5200 – less than 50 games, most of which were ports of 2600 games with slightly better graphics.
Oddly enough, although many great games were planned for the 5200, they were scrapped quickly. Why? Because it was released in 1982, less than one year before the industry-wide Videogame crash, in which Atari’s attempt to flog a new, awful system was a contributing factor (Along with the main cause, E.T. for the 2600). Talk about bad timing…
** Oddly enough, the Atari 5200 could have run 2600 games with a planned adaptor (Which would basically have the chips simulate the TIA (Graphics chip) of the original 2600. However, it was never released both due to the failure of the 5200 and the issue that most post-1980 2600 games used special tricks to maximize the power of the hardware. This has been done in emulation, but in serious terms, a 6502 just isn’t fast enough to handle emulation. Especially of itself… **
ATARI 7800 PROSYSTEM
One year into the 5200, Atari could see that the system was doomed. So rather than try to fix it, they decided to create another machine! They set their hardware guys off to build a new machine from scratch, attempting to avoid all the mistakes the 5200 had made. Eventually, the 7800 ProSystem was finished.
The main issues of the 5200 were the Bad Controller, 2600 Incompatibility, and Lack of Games. Atari solved these issues in some way, by reverting back to a Digital Joystick (2600-like, but with two buttons), allowed back-compatibility with the 2600, and made it easier to program. The back-compatibility was enabled by use of dual graphics chips – the new MARIA (specially developed), and the 2600’s TIA. The TIA was also used for sound in all games, but MARIA was used for graphics. 7800 cartridges had an extra pin which enabled a switch from TIA to MARIA when they were inserted. MARIA been the best available, the 7800 offered next-generation power at a day and age when Videogames were still in their infancy.
However, the hardware designers must have been on stimulants, as they made shocking errors. The MARIA chip actually made the system a pig to develop for due to it been different from previous consoles, and accessing it was a exercise in futility. Additionally, although it could handle a lot of sprites, scrolling a tilemap across the screen was impossible. It could of course be done in software, but was incredibly flickery, and was hampered by the main issue of the system.
For some reason unknown, the hardware engineers used a simple switch to share RAM between the Graphics chipset and the Processor. Now, this may seem like a reasonable idea to stop Bus collisions (two Chips using the same pipeline), but you’re wrong. The switch meant that the Processor would halt when the RAM was accessed by MARIA. In short, every time the Graphics Chipset wanted the RAM, the CPU would remain idle. This sounds like nothing, but it was a huge flaw. Consider how often the Graphics chip needs to access RAM, and remove that from the amount of times the RAM can be accessed in a space of time. The machine was utterly feeble, broken by this stupid mistake.
Sound was not much better, really. To save costs, the planned POKEY sound chip was not implemented, leaving the machine with the old TIA to generate sound. This gave the machine the sound capabilities of the Atari 2600 – buzzing, horrible noises. Developers could include the POKEY chip in a cartridge, but none did in the end.
So what killed the Atari 7800 above all? Even worse timing. The machine was test-marketed in 1984, when the Video Game Market Crash was in full swing. They shelved it, until the NES revived the games market. Atari re-released the machine to poor success. It was primitive compared to the NES and Master System, and lasted until 1991, losing millions for Atari. They probably would have survived of course if they had 3rd Party Developers actually create some software for the system…
** Although Bus Collisions are still a pain for Hardware designers, they have been solved using modern techniques. Normally, the CPU runs much faster than RAM, so uses a “Cache” to store commonly used Data and Instructions, so the CPU can still run while waiting for the RAM. A MMU with cache handles what accesses the RAM, and in most cases machines have seperate RAM for Video and Sound. Use of these seperate memory modules really did speed up gaming, but Atari were too stupid to even consider the idea. **
In the 1980s, handheld games took off incredibly. From cheap single-game LCD units to the first interchangable cartridges (with the Microvision), the market was growing every week. And in the middle of this, two companies saw potential. One was called Epyx, and they developed a colour LCD portable they called the “Handy Game”. The other company was called Nintendo, and they developed a Monochrome LCD portable called the “Game Boy”. Seeing the potential and intending to overcome their rival, Atari bought the technology from Epyx, made several modifications, and released it as the Lynx.
Both the Lynx and the Game Boy launched around the same time, and each had their strengths and weaknesses. The Lynx had a more powerful chipset, colour graphics, and a backlight. The Game Boy on the other hand used just a Monochrome, unlit screen. However, the Game Boy took over the market for two very good reasons:
- It was $109, $90 less than the Lynx
- Lynx was in short supply as production problems crippled the supply chain.
And that is just the beginning of the Lynx’s problems. The battery usage was abysmal, with six AA Batteries lasting less than 3 hours. In a age where batteries were expensive, this was a huge downer. The machine was huge, supposedly because Atari made it big so consumers “got more for their money”. Sure, it may have looked impressive, but was incredibly heavy and hard to carry around. It was a disaster in the face of the Game Boy (and later, the Game Gear) which could easily fit in a largeish pocket.
Inside, the machine was pretty well designed but ran across problems. The Lynx was originally meant to run on Small Cassette Tapes (the sort you get in dictation machines) loaded into main memory. Atari changed that to a ROM Card, but forgot to change the access area. In short, the cartridge data had to be copied into the RAM, leaving less space for game logic, and as an effect caused horrible load times. Lynx games were simple, and pretty much boring.
The screen, despite been backlit colour, was very blurry and it was hard to see due to artifacts left from rendering. The backlight was a fluorescent tube, which consumed most of the power the system needed (with the primitive LCD and 6502 processor sucking the rest). The layout of the pad was uncomfortable to use, despite the innovation of been able to turn the machine around and play left-handed. However, perhaps the reason the Lynx is mostly forgotten is Atari’s ongoing software policy. Only a few games were made outside of Atari, with the rest arcade ports. Worse, you had to use an expensive developer system which only ran on the Amiga (rather than PCs or Atari’s own ST series).
When interviewed in Nex-Gen Magazine in 1995, Sam Tramiel claimed Game Boy vs. Lynx was not a fair battle, and Nintendo cheated. Not at all. The think that finished off the Lynx was SEGA’s own Game Gear, released in 1991. Despite still having battery life issues, the games were high quality and in colour, and the unit was a lot nicer and easier to develop for (it was basically a portable Master System). Despite taking little market share from Nintendo, Game Gear succeeded by wiping Atari out of the Handheld market. The Lynx continued for 3 more dismal years until been scrapped in 1994 so Atari could focus on their Jaguar console.
** Nowadays we are used to rechargable internal batteries, backlit LCD colour screens, and internet play on Handhelds. The Lynx would have been first in line to grab the crown of the first handheld not to use Solid State Memory for games. Instead, it was taken by the Sony PSP with its UMD format (Multimedia Cards don’t really count, as they use Solid State). Although the memory problems were less notable (more RAM), the load times really are terrible. Its one of the factors which have pretty much doomed the system already. Oh, and battery life is appalling as well, just like the poor old Lynx… **
Well, now things have moved on i’ve decided to get back to business. I got quite a few views on my last non-family post, so I decided to continue the theme of bad systems people don’t really know of.
It seems that there are more systems than I considered which were not covered. So here they all are; three of the worst machines ever to be constructed – GX4000, Phillips CD-i, and Pioneer Laseractive. Keep in mind i’m staying away from Mainstream machines – however I may do some of those in the future…
Its hard to say much about Amstrad’s attempt to break into the Videogame market. Basically, when the NES revived gaming in the second half of the 1980s, every company tried to jump on the bandwagon with their new machines. Most rebadged one of their computers and sold it as a gaming system. Along with many others, the Amstrad GX4000 was one of these machines.
Based on the successful CPC464 series computer, the machine was well behind its competitors. Despite having better colour and screen resolution than most 8-bit systems, the quality was well behind its 16-bit rivals, the Mega Drive and PC Engine/Turbografx-16. Coupled with a lack of games (mostly ports of older works on the CPC464 which were many years old) it wasn’t surprising that the machine was a flop.
Another system thrown on the pile of failed computer-based systems it seemed. Amstrad lost a lot of money, but continued on by getting into the business of building digital tv recievers, which they do to this day.
** Machines based on computers never work most of the time. Reason been that computers are designed for multiple tasks, while games machines are designed for playing Video Games. Despite me saying that, incoming soon are a flood of emails arguing about gaming PCs. Ah well… **
The Multimedia fad existed in the early 1990s. Many systems were released which had “Multimedia” titles available on it, loaded on CD-ROMs. Phillip’s own CD-i was built around a standard designed for allowing Video Playback with a programmable interface bolted on.
However, this placed it in a category of systems designed to run whatever shovelware developers could throw out. Most titles for the CD-i were hastily thrown-together interactive movies with whatever crap they could get their hands on. A CD with 20 1930s songs on it with an interface (“Golden Oldies”) was a good example of this. The machine’s weedy processor (a cut-down 68000) could run sprites and machine code directly, but it was a pain to do so, and the quality was pretty naff. As with the Interactive movies, they got any licences possible and built games around them. The CD-i software section was a landmine for crap, and thus very few games sold. Even the Nintendo Licences were poor sellers, due to the games been incredibly badly made, and not representing the original versions at all.
With just 570,000 systems sold at the stupidly high price of $600-800, the CD-i was a flop. Phillips never again entered the Video Game Market, but their rival – Sony – did. And they made a much better system called the Playstation. You may have heard of it.
** Phillips actually worked on a special version of the CD-i at first targetted as a CD-ROM drive for the SNES. Sony also worked on one. Both deals fell through, and the CD-ROM was dropped from Nintendo’s lineup for two generations of console. Its said that 90% of the hardware of the CD-i was based on the SNES CD-ROM’s hardware. The failure of the CD-i probably explained how bad the SNES’s Multimedia attempts would have been. **
The Laseractive will be well remembered… as how NOT to make a Video Games Console. A Multimedia System with a difference – it had a LaserDisc drive built-in. Also, it played games from different systems with add-on parts. Rather than go into a review, i’ll resort to bullet points to explain why the Laseractive never took off the ground…
- The machine was compatible with other systems… which cost a lot less than the Laseractive. If you bought all the other systems, it would still be less than the LaserActive. Not to mention…
- To play the different game cartridges, you needed extra plug-in modules which the console hardware. These were higher in price than the original systems themselves.
- The games for the system were stored on LaserDiscs. And believe me, a game disc the size of a large pizza isn’t the best thing to insert, take out, and store. Sure, it held a lot of video, but this meant…
- Yes, this was a Multimedia system. But as the Laserdiscs held a lot less video, halfway through the game you had to switch the disc side over. The multi-disc idea was fine with later CD games, but once again flicking the LaserDisc over without damaging was hard. The quality for video playback beat VHS and Video CD, but looked the same on a standard size TV.
- The machine was GIGANTIC. The size of multiple VCRs stacked on top of each other, this was unwieldy and hard to place on a crowded TV setup.
- To play CD-ROMs and CD-based Games, you needed the addon CD Drive. Which was even more expense.
- The console required different controllers for every different module. Which meant tons of the things plugged in at once.
- It cost around $2000, with addons coming in at $500 each. The most expensive console in gaming history.
I guess that sums up the machine.
** Never since the LaserActive has a console been released with so many parts missing from it. Basically, they tried to replicate the addons of the Mega Drive and failed. However, Mega Drive could play most games without the addons. Recently, things have been missing from System Software for usability rather than GamePlay. The PSP’s propietry video format is a good example of this. **
Anyway, hope you liked this post. I’ll probably do another in the future. Maybe Vapourware machines and a special on the “X86 Rush”…
Finally, the funeral went ahead. On Thursday 6th November 2008, my Older Sister was laid to rest. Finally. Everyone will miss you, Jools.