Btw, for the last post, I started to implement the Winerlinks WP plugin, written by Daniel Bachhuber & named after the mighty RSS guru Dave Winer, who credits himself with being one of the first to use them for a blog. The thing about Winerlinks is that it add paragraph-level permalinks, so you can easily direct someone to a specific paragraph via a permalink. Might be useful. If one wrote more posts, more often & were linked to by anyone. :) Also, the paragraph links are only visible on the post page

The Imminent Death of “PC” Games

This is actually an issue that has disturbed me for a long time: copy protection schemes and how their implementation is killing gaming on what was once known as the “personal computer” (and yes, I include Macs, Windows and even desktop Linux in the blanket term). In many ways, in the days of yore it wasn’t so bad. Sure, copy protection hampered many a music program from working effectively – dongles were lost, dongle calls were poorly written and caused crashes – but games, even BOUGHT games, were usually never a problem. The worst that could happen was that you broke your diskette/cd/DVD if that was the kind of CP scheme used.

Now, things are very different. Hardware copy protection has been superseded by several kinds of online authentication, worst of which are the ones that use the internet to even launch, and those that kicks you out of your game – unsaved! – when the wlan flutters for some reason or other. I mean, what the heck? Back in March, Electronic Arts editor-in-chief Jeff Green tweeted about the crappitude of the DRM deployed in his own company’s Command and Conquer 4. At the time I thought it was irksome, but since I myself hadn’t been confronted with the problem, I wasn’t really irritited.

But then came a good review of an expansion to one of the rare games I bought to play via BootCamp: MassEffect 2. I must say this: I really liked ME2, just as I liked ME. Deus Ex it ain’t, but still very much my kinda game. So I rebooted my computer into Windows 7, managed to pay for the game after a bit of a hassle: Bioware demanded that I register as a user, and I searched thru all my email accounts to see if I could find some sort of login info. No dice. After a while, I surmised that I had never registered the game in the first place and went ahead and created an account and bought the expansion. 1+ gig later and I was ready to rhumba. Or so I thought.

Instead, I was stuck in a Catch-22 kinda situation. Apparently, I had registered the original game to an account when I bought it, but that account was with EA, not Bioware, hence I couldn’t find the login info in my email. Thus, the expansion didn’t launch, throwing semi-cryptic messages at me. Something about “DLC” (which I had to search for to find out that it means “DownLoadable Content”) not being authorized for the logged in user. OK, fine. I managed to change account in ME2, only to realize that I could play the game, but not use any saved games or original DLC. Meaning I had to start a 100-hrs-played character from the beginning or just bite the bullet and call it a loss. I did the latter, but fuck me if I’ll ever buy an EA game again. Oh, they offer to merge accounts for people in my situation. Only $30…

I told my WoW pals about it in our forum, and realized that I wasn’t alone: at least three compadres had experienced very similar problems, with similar degrees of annoyance. So the bottom line is that in a rapidly declining PC games industry, some of the game companies has decided to punish those who DO pay for the games with the most draconic CP schemes I’ve ever seen (and I’ve had plenty experience of copy protection since the early 80s). I mean, what are they thinking? An insider friend once told me that one of their games anonymously reported that it was being used but not bought, and a staggering >90% number was pirated. That doesn’t include those that were blocked by outgoing firewalls, of course. So: declining sales = harsher cp = more problems = even less PC games sold. Do the math.  The winners are those with no cp, or a subscription model, or a relatively simple sales model (AppStore, Steam). The ones with the old mindset are probably moving to console only. Or are well and truly buggered.

Testing new theme…

I’m trying out the new default theme for WordPress 3. it’s got a bunch of nifty features, but a few changes to style.css had to be done. Adding

body { text-rendering: optimizeLegibility }
#flickrrss img { border: 1px solid #544b40; float: left; margin: 0 0 5px 5px; }

seems to have done the trick quite nicely. I also added Menlo as standard code font, as well as reducing its font-size.
For more info on optimizeLegilibility, read Aesthetically Loyal’s post on it. It works best on bigger font sizes, but can be notable with smaller sizes as well.

Tukui updated via git

git + tukui

I guess this is some fairly geeky shit, but I’m finally getting into the git hubbub. In this case, I’m using git to update the Tukui addon for World of Warcraft, a game that I hadn’t played for about 6 months. There were some great instructions for getting it all to work, and that lead me into uninstalling MacPorts and instead installing the speedy Homebrew package manager. Homebrew is just blazingly fast compared to MacPorts, and it all worked very well and dandy until brew install wireshark, which caused me to start an issue on github. Anyways: back to Tukui and WoW.

I must say that its screenshots doesn’t do it justice, and neither does its description. Basically, Tukui is a versatile set of plugins, partly built on ye olde caith ui, all presented via a dynamic interface that changes character after what you do: PvP, PvE or raid. I have some minor beefs with the fonts used – broken fonts seems so 90s – but all in all, it is all very instinctive. Actually, the basics pretty much match the ui I last used myself. The upside for me, but downside for many, is that there are no real in-game config options. Rather, you rely on changing the luas yourself. You don’t really need to change a lot, but I recommend opening World of Warcraft/Interface/AddOns/Tukui/config (use TextWrangler or TextMate) and changing

["bottomrows"] = 2, -- numbers of row you want to show at the bottom (select between 1 and 2 only)

to these settings. Personally, I enjoy 2 bottom rows (at least until I get the hang of the keybindings again). The layout doesn’t really benefit from right bars, but those are available as well by changing

["rightbars"] = 0, -- numbers of right bar you want

to a number you like (max 3 with 1 bottomrow, max 1 with 2). Also, another thing that you can’t get via /help is the /hb command, which moves you into keybind mode. A nifty thing with tukui’s keybinds is that you can bind directly into the spell book, without the need to actually have the spell in the bottom bar. I think that’s it. Surely not for everyone, tukui is a very well-balanced package of add-ons. If you’re not afraid to edit lua, of course.

So, 3.0, huh?

Super smooth automated update this time. Hadn’t tried that on a full release before. I’ll check out that new default theme & see what can be done with it.

Steam on Mac: first impressions

I wasn’t really aware of how Steam worked before installing it on my mac the other day. I know, I know, for someone who is pretty much a tech/game junkie I was a slow learner this time around. Woo-woo, all aboard the slow train!

Anyway: I installed Steam belatedly and missed the free Portal offer. Pretty much butt ugly, like an Adobe Air app. I checked around and found to my surprise that a whole slew of games were suddenly available for mac for the first time ever. And not too expensive either.

Steam for Mac screenshot

I found a wee game named Torchlight, which had a couple of really positive reviews. Runic Games, makers of the game, has an impressive roster of ex-Blizzard North employees, such as Matt Uelmen, who wrote the original Diablo 1 & 2 music. The connection between thought and buy button was exemplary. Boom! 14 euro and 10 minutes or so later the game was installed.

Game launched. Game played for some hours. Positive experience. Bit simple. Why is that nowadays normal mode what I used to call baby mode? I’m not an expert, for chrissakes, I’m a beginner even, but give me something to bite into. This is not only about Torchlight, but recent games from Bioware, like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins. When played at normal, boss fights are so undertuned it makes me cry.

Anyway, nice & relaxing – though simple – my first thoughts on Steam was “EASY TO BUY”. Why did it take this long for game developers to make sales easy? And why did it take them this long to see that mac will generate lots of extra income? It’s dangerous of course – in a similar way, Paypal buttons makes the way from thought to buy so dangerously short there’s a real risk of overspending. Especially since it’s so easy to do when slightly drunk/tired/shamed.

Then today I realized another thing that I hadn’t thought about: when I install and log into steam on another computer, the game is downloaded and IN SYNC with the game I just played at home. Teh awesome! This is the way things should be: you buy something, you should be allowed to use it on your other devices. And keeping the games in sync is a great touch. This is how I hope iBooks for iPhone/iPad will work in the future: open the “book” where ever and it opens where you left off. Grant my boon and call me a your slave!