Waiting for Civilization May 13, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games.
Tags: Civilization II, Civilization Series, Civilization V, Performance Issues
Last week my focus was a huge game of Civilization V.
Early in the week I started a few games on the largest map size (going with the Lakes option, so lots of land warfare) with a dozen competing civilizations and the usual complement of city states until I got a situation that looked good. The first time out I was wedged in a corner between the Huns and the Mongols, which did not bode well. The next time I was the Huns, but I managed to get into a war of annihilation with three other civs very early in the game, and while I managed to get to peace while still holding on to my capital, I was set back so badly that any rematch was going to go badly for me.
The third time out I drew the Germans which helped me build up my military quickly and avoid getting penned in early. The Germans have a somewhat imbalanced attribute that allows them to recruit barbarians to their side a certain percentage of the time when they defeat a barbarian camp.
I actively went after barbarian camps, which allowed my city production to stay focused on buildings and wonders. You don’t get the best units that way, but you get a lot of them. My barbarian strategy actually ended up yielding too many units and some points, though I was able to gift them to city states in return for influence. The Germans also pay less for land unit maintenance, so that helped with the budget.
I ended up playing all the way into Sunday evening in sessions of an hour or more. In the end it was down to five civs, all of whom feared my military might and all but one of which, the Carthaginians, who were my game-long ally, I was chipping away at, declaring war, taking a city, getting another city as part of a peace settlement, and then turning to the next in line.
However, my enthusiasm for conquest was starting to wain, so I decided at around turn 1,100 to just go for the cultural victory and end it about 30 turns later. I saved before I started, so I could go back and continue the military victory… or the political victory… or the religious victory. All were still viable. But I was tired of waiting.
I was tired of waiting because, in the last 500 or so turns, that was what I was doing most of the time; waiting. I would make my moves, update production, tweak some improvements, then end my turn only to wait and wait while the computer handled each of the other civilizations, the city states, and finally the barbarians. Then the game would come back to me.
It is a truism of the Civilization series that each version is launched at a time when they really need the next generation of CPUs to run them effectively. I remember getting a new computer and seeing the time it took to play a game of Civ II drop dramatically. I recall writing a note to Firaxis about the slow performance of Civ IV back when it launched, at a time when I had a pretty high end machine in terms of processing power. Their response was quite snotty in my opinion and could be summed up as “play smaller campaigns if performance matters to you, there is nothing wrong with our game.”
So I am left wondering when we will reach the point where average CPUs will be up to the task of speedy turns in Civ V and where the bottlenecks really lay. The game appears to at least be multi-core aware. Looking at Task Manager, at least four of the eight cores in my CPU look like they are in use, though none of them are capped out or even showing usage beyond 50%. So the game doesn’t seem CPU bound. RAM appears to be available, so it isn’t like the game is paging out constantly… or it shouldn’t be in any case. And while there appears to be some issue with I/O… the game takes me four long minutes from launch before I can resume a game already in progress… and four minutes might not seem like much time, but try sitting in front of your screen waiting, clicking to skip through any video possible, and listening to the required speech about your civ and its leader, then it is the “watched pot” scenario… I cannot imagine that they are doing much of that for each turn.
So when will we be set on this front?
I hope that the next Civ V expansion, Brave New World, will include performance improvements like those that came with the Gods & Kings expansion… yes, performance was even worse at launch… because CPUs not only are not getting faster in the ways they used to back in the day, but the CPU doesn’t seem to be the limiting factor at the moment. A long campaign like last week’s, where the last third of the game was mostly me waiting on the computer, puts me off the game.
But it does make me want to dig out my Civ II disk, which is still lost somewhere in my office. The game isn’t as sophisticated as Civ V, though there is some appeal to its sometimes crude simplicity.
But the game itself runs like a dream, the AI zips along, and most of any match is spent doing rather than waiting. There are many reasons I always go back to that game, and speed is certainly one. Yes, you can get mired into epic stalemates, but at least the turns move quickly.
Mods, Performance, Faith, and Spies June 21, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games.
Tags: Civilization V, Steam
The story of that ten year long game of Civilization II certainly put thoughts of turn-based strategy into my brain.
I had been tinkering with Warlock: Master of the Arcane since shortly after Ken at Popehat mentioned it (which is when it went on sale for half price). It is another strategy game from Paradox Interactive, the company that seems to have a near strangle hold on the strategy game market. At least on my machine.
While a decent game, and well worth the money at half price, it didn’t quite scratch the itch the itch caused by all this Civ talk. And while my impulse was to go straight to Civ II again, I decided to crank up Civilization V. It had been a while since I had played it.
That meant getting into Steam, and Steam took the opportunity opened by my looking their way for a minute to put up a message announcing that Civilization V was now on Steam Workshop.
Steam Workshop is Valve’s interface for dealing with mods and other user created content. This got me looking through some of the player content.
I grabbed a few custom maps, including one of Westeros, which I immediately tried out. It is a standard size map only, and it played pretty well. I ended up starting north of Winterfell, so I was in the Night’s Watch position, which did leave me dealing with a horde of barbarians almost constantly throughout the game.
And City States, which I remain unenthusiastic about in Civ V, at least make sense in the context of Westeros, with its many nobles pledged to one liege lord or another and switching sides at awkward moments.
The game was fun and I ended up pretty much as King in the North. It also left me susceptible to Valve’s next pitch, which was for the Civ V expansion, Gods & Kings, marked down 10% if I pre-ordered. And so I did.
Well, some of the features sold it to me as well. I was not so interested in other potential kingdoms or new technology, but the introduction of spies and faith into the game was big to me. I miss spies especially.
The expansion dropped on Tuesday and I have had a chance to play a bit. And for the most part I am happy.
Faith, in which you essentially found a state religion, is good. You can tailor your religion, and there are details to master there, but it does not come up until your empire has reach a given status, so the game is well under way when you have to pick, rather than it being yet another starting parameter with which you can tinker.
And spies… spies are very good. Spies are no longer units on the field of play, to be moved around and thrown at enemy cities. Instead, there is a new interface to manage your espionage activities. But through that interface, you can do all your old favorite spy things along with a few new twists.
And you can no longer create an army of spies to overwhelm your opponent via an espionage war. You have to take a more refined view of their use.
Those two, along with things like embassies, revamped combat, and tweaks to things like city states have seemed pretty good so far.
But then we come to the annoying bit.
Actually, it isn’t annoying to me, because I bought the expansion. This will annoy those who are waiting for a Steam sale on it.
Basically, the expansion includes improvements to performance.
Like all Civ games that I have played at launch… which is, pretty much, all REAL Civ games (so no Call to Power)… Civ V has shown itself to be a processor hogging behemoth, incapable of running quickly on my relatively beefy system, at least when it comes to the last third or so of the game. At that point I generally spend as much time waiting for the game as I do playing.
It is part of the Civ tradition I guess. I remember the time it took to play a game of Civ II dropping dramatically each time I upgraded my computer.
Anyway, along with fixes to the AI, which now fights better, performance overall in the late game has been improved noticeably. But you only get that improvement if you buy the expansion. If you don’t buy it, you can suck it as far as Sid Meier is concerned I guess.
So it is a good thing I felt the need for spies and religion, because I would be pissed if all I really wanted out of the expansion was to make the game work better.
Now to see what that Middle-earth map is like.
I Would Buy Civ II Again… If I Could Find It… October 13, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games.
Tags: Alpha Centauri, Civilization II, Civilization V, Digital Distribution, FreeCiv, GoG.com, Steam
One of the things stopping me from writing up what I think about Civilization V is that I cannot find my 1996 Civilization II disc.
Civ II is still my gold standard for Civ games. I played the original Civilization back in the day, but once I picked up Civ II, I never went back. Civ II was clearly superior in every way over its predecessor.
Not so the games that followed however. Alpha Centauri was very good. I played a lot of that. But I never liked the fact it wanted to be played full screen rather than in a window and I was never big on the alien landscape. So eventually I went back to playing Civ II.
Civilization III had merit, but it never really clicked with me. There were features I liked about the game certainly, but I never found it as satisfying. I went back to playing Civ II.
Likewise, Civilization IV. Civ IV is probably the version I have played the least. I went almost straight back to playing Civ II.
And then last year came Civilization V. Civ V felt to me, after all these years, like it got back to some essence of what made Civ II such a good game. But to really put my finger on what it is, I want to go back and play Civ II.
Only I cannot find my disc, which is where I started this post.
I did find my copy of the Mac version of the game. But that doesn’t do me any good, as I would need to drag my old PowerMac 8500 (with the G3 processor upgrade card) out of the closet to play, and I am not that interested in playing. (Plus I am not sure where the ADB keyboard and mouse have gotten to. That keyboard turned 25 years old this year!)
Somewhere around the house there is at least one, possibly two, Windows copies of the game. I can dig around in my office some more I suppose.
But ideally though, Civ II would just be available on Gog.com for $9.99. That is where I got my current copy of Alpha Centauri. (Which is what reminded me of the whole “must run full screen” thing.)
My second choice would be to find it available on Steam. As much as I still resent having to have internet access in order to play a single player game (so Steam has taken the sting out of that Diablo III reality), it is mighty damn convenient. But while they have Civ III, IV, and V available, Civ II is nowhere to be seen.
This leaves me with physical means, finding another disc for sale somewhere. Not an impossible task, but it means I cannot have it RIGHT NOW!
I guess this is a sign that I have accepted digital distribution.
And while I am thrashing around on this, maybe I should take a look at FreeCiv, which looks very Civ II-like. And I can download it.
Looking Back at 2010 – Highs and Lows December 30, 2010Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Facebook, Lord of the Rings Online, MUDs, Nintendo, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Trek Online, TorilMUD, wii, World of Warcraft.
Tags: BlizzCon, Cataclysm, Civilization V, Duke Nukem Forever, EALouse, Farmville, LEGO Harry Potter, MassiveBlips, Pokemon HeartGold, Pokemon SoulSilver, Rift, Total Annihilation, Traveller's Tales, Warzone Tower Defense
Yesterday I looked forward to figure out where I might be headed in the new year, at least for MMOs. (There are some single and multi-player games on my list, but that is another post.)
Today, it is time to look back at what came to pass in 2010, or at least what came to pass in my little corner of the gaming world.
Lord of the Rings Online
- The instance group had a great summer diversion from WoW into Middle-earth. LOTRO gets better every time I go back to it.
- I had more fun than I probably should have playing with the music system in LOTRO.
- The transition to Free to Play seemed to be mostly a good thing for the game. There were a lot more people playing. And Turbine has been adjusting what is free and what you need to purchase from the LOTRO Store based on feedback.
- I feel quite satisfied, as a Lifetime Subscriber, as to how I was treated as part of the transition to F2P.
- Only four of us hit Middle-earth, and since there is no mentoring or “buy a level” method in LOTRO, there seems little likelihood that we will be able to carry on past where we stand with the whole group involved.
- Still haven’t seen Moria yet. (Only 8 levels away though!) And Mirkwood?
- It still lives! And look at how many servers it still has! Not bad considering its age.
- Now has housing in what looks to be an interesting mix of the EQII and LOTRO approaches. It is really well done, given the architecture and interface that EQ has been carrying along with it for nearly 12 years.
- Server merges, once I could find my characters, beefed up the visible population somewhat.
- Only focused sustaining the current population, though that is probably both the right and practical choice. It just makes me a little sad to have to admit that there just isn’t going to be any significant new player base.
- Server populations feel pretty small even post-merger. I suspect we’ll see another round soon.
- The game is really feeling its age. Every time I go back the interface feels older and more cobbled together.
- EverQuest II Extended is bringing in enough people to its single server to make the game feel more alive than it has in a long, long time.
- New Halas is a good starting area and if you follow the quest line all the way through, you get a mount as a quest reward. One more for the “why didn’t you do that sooner?” list.
- The integrated quest guide functionality really helps out in New Halas.
- The basic New Halas housing makes the old single room cells we got as housing in the racial ghettos at launch seem like… well… single room cells. (Though they are now two-room cells these days.)
- The Revelry and Honor guild hall (on Guk) is still awe inspiring, and in a much less game-lagging sort of way.
- EverQuest II Extended has effectively ended any possible influx of new players for the old EverQuest II servers. How soon until EverQuest II live is just the Antonia Bayle server?
- On the server with my main characters (Crushbone), nobody on my friends list or in either of my guilds is still playing.
- The integrated quest guide appears to be a work in progress, at least in some of the older zones.
- The rest of the New Halas housing looks just like the basic from what I have seen, with a room added here or there. I’ll just stick with the basic.
- Eyesore marketing. EQII deserves better.
- The Freeblood Station Cash Grab. $65 for the race and all the accessories.
- The loss of Stargrace as a subscriber.
- TorilMUD is still up and running. I’ve only been logging into it since the Fall of 1993.
- ZMud still works for me on Windows 7! More than a decade of triggers, scripts, and macros preserved a while longer!
- Oy, you think EverQuest or EverQuest II Live have population problems?
Star Trek Online
- It shipped! A Star Trek MMO at last!
- My classic NCC-1701 ship model looks great! I love it! I make original series sound effects whey I fly it!
- Seems to be getting all sorts of of new episodic updates.
- Apparently it wasn’t the game I wanted. If you ask me, I’ll tell you I like the game, and I’ll mean it when I say it, but I obviously can’t be trusted to speak the truth. It is installed. I keep it patched. I never play. Damn.
- Then there is the whole C-Store thing…
- Gets back to the series roots and what made my most favorite Civ game, Civ II, great.
- Actually runs well on my new machine.
- Gets just as laborious to manage as you get closer to the end game (unless you’re losing badly) as Civ II
- Ghandi the Terrible! (Supposed to be fixed with the latest patch)
- Didn’t run at all on my old machine for no reason I could divine.
- Individual Civs and tiny scenarios as for-pay downloadable content? I’ll wait for a big Steam sale. And then I’ll wait some more.
- Atari updated it so it has a single, all-in-one installer and it runs on my new machine.
- Game Ranger supports online multiplayer for TA.
- Continues to be one of my three best-ever RTS games. (the other two being StarCraft and Age of Kings)
- I still don’t have anybody to play against. (Same for Age of Kings, and I am so out of practice with StarCraft I get slaughtered by the sharks on BNet so fast it is scary.)
- HeartGold and SoulSilver continued the tradition of improving the Pokemon franchise in many ways with each release, both large and small.
- Lots of downloadable events.
- National Pokedex complete, including the rare, special event Pokemon.
- I am totally ready for Black and White this coming March.
- I still need 325,217 steps to max out the Pokewalker. I wear the damn thing everywhere. Obviously I need to walk more or rebuild the Pokewalker LEGO machine… and then hide it from the cats.
- We didn’t get all of the download events they got in Japan. (Where is my special Celebi?)
- WiFi co-op play in HeartGold and SoulSilver limited to battles. I miss the underground from Diamond and Pearl.
- Pokemon Ranch was no help at all.
- LEGO Harry Potter shows that Traveller’s Tales still has the magic.
- Netflix Streaming… the downloadable version. Perfect for our current setup, which includes a 14 year old 32″ tube TV. And there are a lot of MST3K episodes available.
- Just Dance – If only Wii Music could have been that good.
- My daughter loves Super Mario Bros. Wii.
- The Wii, on the other hand, seems extremely taxed playing LEGO Harry Potter. At first I thought there was something wrong with the game, but it is the Wii huffing and puffing trying to keep up. The LEGO games look much better on the XBox 360 or PS3. It is time for some better hardware from Nintendo.
- Netflix Streaming selection is still too small… and too random. How do you make season 2 of a series available on streaming, but season 1 not? I know, it is all in the licensing details, but they need to get those details worked out.
- I totally suck at Super Mario Bros. Wii. My daughter and her little pals play, and I am the one always in the bubble.
World of Warcraft
- The instance group is back together in Azeroth
- I can fly in old Azeroth! OMFG that is so worth it! Especially with my druid.
- An all new race to play, redone level 1-60 content to go through, including updated instances, plus guilds have levels and achievements that give access to interesting things.
- With only five levels to cap out, I am taking it easy and enjoying the new content.
- The game is still smooth and polished and a lot of fun to play with my friends and family.
- Once the instance group hits 60, there are 20 levels of unchanged content between us and the next new thing.
- Level 85 seems to come awfully quick for most. Nobody else seems to be taking it easy.
- Can’t fly in some parts of meso and neo Azeroth.
- Guild levels come very slowly for small guilds. I think we’re 25% of the way to level 2. Achievements are also easier for bigger guilds.
- More reputation grinds… including one with your own damn guild! I helped found the guild five years ago, and now I’m neutral with it?
- Gear inflation – my best welfare epics: Gearscore 245. My first green drop at Mt. Hyjal: Gearscore 272. My hunter gained a base 100 DPS rating by trading in his blue gun for the first green quest reward gun.
- Wintergrasp is dead… and when it isn’t, I end up getting owned by level 85s with gearscores that seem to be an order of magnitude above my own.
Blizzard in General
- Still the brightest star in the PC games sales chart, with booming sales of StarCraft II and Cataclysm.
- Hasn’t been completely destroyed by Bobby Kotick yet.
- Tenacious D – Completely uncensored at BlizzCon. Told my daughter she could watch until the first swear word. She barely got to watch a minute.
- Gave Red Shirt guy his due.
- Didn’t ship Diablo III… or give us a release date.
- Didn’t tell us a damn thing at BlizzCon. We had to find stuff out this way.
- Forcing RealID on users who want to post to the forums? That didn’t piss anybody off…
- RealID and Facebook integration plans in general.
- I still hate the new BNet Parental Controls window. Firefox doesn’t seem to like it either. There may be a correlation.
- It is starting to get easier to count the people I know who play WoW and who HAVEN’T had their accounts hacked.
- Still no cast list for the Warcraft movie.
- Family Feud – Comes in great, bite-sized doses and you can help your friends score more… or embarrass yourself in front of them. The answers piss you off, but in a good way. You feel smarter than your fellow man and woman.
- Warzone Tower Defense – In the MindJolt section, it isn’t really a Facebook game, you can play it other places, but I first found it on Facebook. It is fun.
- FarmVille, FrontierVille, and most everything else became an annoying, wall-filling, endless notification grind. Not for me.
- I actually made a Facebook category for this site. eeew.
- Those pirates at Zynga still haven’t sent me my damn FarmVille fridge magnet! And they not only kept my magnet, but they probably sold my mailing address to somebody along the way.
Other Semi-Related Items
- Scott Hartsman’s back and looking like all win with Rift
- Duke Nukem (and 2K Games) might have the last laugh after all. Hail to the chief, baby!
- The MMO market in general looks like it is in for an uptick in the coming year.
- EALouse get’s it all off his chest. I’m not sure any of it was a surprise though.
- APB… I blinked and missed it.
- MassiveBlips, gone… and probably forgotten. Who will continue to decide who runs the #1 WoW blog?
- For what seemed like forever this past Spring and Summer, Derek Smart and David Allen just could not shut up. Well, at least until somebody got paid off and went away quietly. (Okay, it was like Jerry Springer, we decried it, but we couldn’t look away.)
- The EALouse comment thread makes Derek and David look like the pinnacle politeness and restraint.
- Lots of great comments from the regular readership. Tobold has a point, being less popular generally begets better quality. There is probably a lesson in that which applies outside of blogging.
- Very little trollish behavior aside from SynCaine… and he can’t help it, he just foams at the mouth when somebody says “World of Warcraft.”
- Still writing regularly after more than four years.
- Writing and recording stuff that I enjoy going back and looking at years later, which was my main goal for the site. This is my gaming memory.
- A very high complement and honor paid to me in the form of a mention from Massively. Thank you so very much.
- I have a backlog of things I want to write about, much of which I fear I will never get to or, worse, that I’ll simply forget.
- I never got to a bunch of things that were somewhat topical and have since lost some meaning, but which I should have recorded at the time, if only for context.
- My most popular posts this year involved a World Cup predicting octopus, Talking Cats Playing Patty Cake, and Blood Elf Porn. Now you know the secret to popularity.
- I still cannot find another WordPress.com theme that I like better than Regulus. Not that I need to change, but something in my keeps looking. (Something in that probably explains men.)
- I looked at my site the other day without being logged in and saw the ads that WordPress.com slips in for the readers. Gold seller ads. I swear, I didn’t know.
And that was about it for 2010, wasn’t it? Thank you all for being involved!
Now what highs or lows did I miss in my myopia?
October in Review October 31, 2010Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, Casual Games, entertainment, EVE Online, Hardware, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Civilization V
This month we found out that only Bhagpuss and my mother actually look at the blog in anything other than an RSS reader… and judging from the FeedReader stats, that reader is Google Reader.
Okay, maybe a few other people look at it once in a while according to the poll.
I asked this question because I put something new in the sidebar, a list of posts other blogs that I found interesting. I suppose it will just end up being a reminder list for me of posts to perhaps look at again.
And it c0nflicts a bit with my Twitter feed, since along with being an alternative feed for my posts, I do occasionally link other posts in there as well. Sometimes the same post goes in both. I’m confused. I’m still working out what I really want out of Twitter and Google Reader sharing.
And speaking of Twitter, this month is the first time that Twitter has actually figured in any significant way in the traffic coming to the blog. The top 5 sources of referral traffic this month:
This does not include search engine traffic, that would put Google.com on top.
Twitter became significant because CCP_Fallout tweeted the results of the EVE Online Screen Shot Contest to the tweet fleet. That brought a lot of people over to look.
One Year Ago
Last year at about this time Torchlight came out, giving a lot of people a Diablo-like injection of fun. It didn’t have a lot of replay value for me. Once I burned through the game once I was pretty much done, which made it unlike Diablo II, which I returned to a number of times. But it was just $20 and gave us a taste of what Runic might be able to deliver going forward.
It was also the three year anniversary of the regular Saturday night instance group, and I presented a summary of what we had done. I will probably revisit that theme for the fifth anniversary.
A couple of us scouted the then newly Free to Play Dungeons & Dragons Online as a possible next game for the instance group, but it didn’t stick.
I was able to buy the Adventurer’s Pack for LOTRO and get the Siege of Mirkwood expansion for free. Not as good of a deal as monthly subscribers got I understand, but a decent deal. Of course, LOTRO has changed a lot since then.
In World of Warcraft October last year say me finish off both the Brewfest and Hallow’s End meta achievements. I was still left with one achievement for each holiday though. Fun was had with pumpkins and the Headless Horseman.
The instance group returned to Utgarde Keep to take on Utgarde Pinnacle, at that time the last five-person dungeon in Northrend. We were victorious and gained the Northrend Dungeonmaster achievement. But otherwise we were deciding on where the group should go next.
New Linking Sites
I would like to thank the following site for linking here.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
- EVE Online Screen Shot Contest Winners
- Fighting Blood Elf Porn
- A Quick Pass Through GDC 2010
- How I Got My 5,000 Turbine Points
- Pokemon Mew Download Event
- How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
- Play On: Guild Name Generator
- BlizzCon Costume & Dance Contest Notes
- One Month of LOTRO Free to Play
- LOTRO – Comparing VIP with Free
- WoW Account Hacked – This Just Keeps Happening
- The Path to My Next System
Most Common Search Terms in October
I’m not sure this needs to be a regular feature, but this month people got here via these search terms.
- elf porn
- thorin oakenshield
- turbine points
- blood elf porn
- zombrex pen
- the ancient gaming noob
- wow account hacked
- mafia wars
- lego x wing
Search Terms of the Month
thorin keeper of ulduar costume
The new machine is up and running. I’ve moved over most of the key data from my old machine. Probably the most annoying items are iTunes, which is throwing a fit about exporting and importing my playlists, and Eudora. I was perfectly happy using Eudora 6.2 as my email client for the last five years or so. It also doubles as my text editor and to do list holder. However 6.2 is very unhappy under Windows 7, even when trying to run it under XP emulation mode. Meanwhile, the new, open source version of the mail client, build on to of Thunderbird, looks a lot like old Eudora, but does not behave like it. Most annoying.
And then there is the question of what to load up on the new machine.
So far, game-wise, I dragged over World of Warcraft. I had just patched up to 4.0.1 and wasn’t going to do that again.
Then I did fresh installs of EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and Civilization V. The first two I thought would be good to refresh, since both have been on my old system for a long time. And of course, I had no drag-over option with Civ V. It does, however, run on my new system. Go me.
Now what else should I install?
And what am I going to do with the old CPU? Aside from gagging when taxed by certain games, it runs well.
The screen shot contest went off well. I sent out all the prizes, though one person didn’t claim their PLEX and the contract expired. I created a new contract.
I’ve gotten back into the game a little bit of late. With a fresh install and a DX11 capable system, I wanted to fly around a bit.
I also started up the economic engine again, working the market place. I’ve spent more than half of my saved ISK over the last 8 months. It is time to refresh the coffers.
Meanwhile, I am posting three of the screen shot entries from the contest over at EVE Online Pictures every week.
Facebook games finally hit the limit for me. They can be amusing to start with, little economic sims that they all seem to be, but they don’t have much staying power. That isn’t to say that there couldn’t be a great Facebook game for me, but I have yet to see one I really like over time.
Lord of the Rings Online
While the instance group, or the four of us who have been playing this summer and fall, have been in LOTRO regularly, the pace is slowing down. I suspect that we’re in a rest mode before Cataclysm lands.
I will keep up with LOTRO I am sure. At level 41, Silinus is my highest level LOTRO character ever, and there is still the draw of Moria. But as a group I think we might be off for a while.
World of Warcraft
The instance group is still figuring out how we should approach Cataclysm, since we have a group of level 80s, a group in the mid-60s, and the option to roll up fresh. The changes to classes, the new races, the upsetting and recreation of zones, and the ch0pping up of a couple of long, drawn out instances might mean we need to start fresh again.
- #303 Mawile
- #464 Rhyperior
- #472 Gliscor
- #488 Cresselia
Willing to discuss trades over Nintendo WiFi for any of these.
You’ll know when I’m done. There will be a post.
I know there are a lot of things going on, that the next month will be full of stuff, yet it is all slowly being overshadowed by Cataclysm.
For example, LEGO Universe went live recently. I was interested in that. Now I just cannot get my enthusiasm up for it.
Maybe I’ll just take November off.
Civ V – Some Progress October 3, 2010Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games.
Tags: 2K Games, Civilization, Civilization V, Sid Meier
I thought I was on to something today that would help with my Civilization V problems.
After shutting down all unnecessary processes on the machine, I decided to run try altering the run properties for the game.
My logon account is already in the Administrator group, so I didn’t think that would change anything, but XP has an option to run without protection from unauthorized activity.
I unchecked that box, wondering if it would change anything.
Really, it is hard to say if it did, or if just random chance or some other action got things going, but things did get going better than ever.
I managed to play 89 turns.
I was far enough into the game that I was starting to learn something about playing.
I was invested enough in the game that I will probably go back and try to play from one of the save points.
However, after turn 89 the game hung. Something in the executable was stuck in a loop as it was again driving the processor full blast, although only one of the core this time, but nothing was happening. I let it churn for about 10 minutes, then force quit the process.
Of course, I was unable to launch the game again after that.
There seems to be two hurdles to playing.
First, there is launching the game. This seems to get hung up on something, as the game ab ends four out of five times before I get to the main menu.
Then there is actually keeping the game going. The process gets hung up on something, probably falling through an unhandled exception over and over again to infinity. But what the trigger is for that, I have not yet determined. I’ve spent so little time actually getting to that error.
Still, there was a bit of progress today. At least Steam rolled over and is actually measuring my play time in approximate hours (2) rather than minutes.
46 Minutes of Civilization V October 1, 2010Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games.
Tags: 2K Games, Civilization, Civilization II, Civilization Series, Civilization V, Sid Meier
Civilization II is probably the single player game I have spent the most time playing since I first purchased a computer.
I played the original game Civilization and was hooked by its game play, so when Civilization II came out I was right there, day one.
Civ II was great, a huge improvement over its predecessor… so much so that I never considered and going back an playing the original game.
There is a whole post in why I prefer Civ II. But for the moment I’ll leave it with the simple fact that I can still play the game on my current PC, more than 14 years after it originally shipped. It runs great and, in a move that seems genius in hindsight, it plays in a standard, re-sizable window so it even takes advantage of the fact that my monitor has gone from 800×600 to 1600×1200 in the intervening time. There are a few games I could mention that I wish did the same.
But back at launch the game was a beast.
The Civilization franchise has never bought into the Blizzard philosophy of low system requirements.
I don’t think I was able to play the game at its full potential until I picked up a 400MHz Pentium II years later. But by the time I had a Pentium IV, it ran smooth and fast. But it was a long time getting there.
And was Civ II stable at launch? Well, let’s just say that the auto-save feature was there for a good reason. Resuming games after a crash was a common occurrence.
So when I was tempted into buying Civilization V based somewhat on SynCaine’s posts about it, I was pretty sure the game was going to live up to the Civilization tradition of being a complete beast on day on.
I bought it via Steam, as much as I dislike Valve’s service. I’ve been screwed by Valve and their requirement that you must have an internet connection to play a single player game in the past. (Yes, that was a long time ago, but I can hold a grudge like no other when I’m in the mood.)
But since Civ V seems to be tied to the service no matter how you buy it, there didn’t seem much point in going another route.
And while I wasn’t happy about it, I certainly wasn’t expecting Steam to mock my misery.
Five days with the game and I’ve been able to play for 46 minutes.
And a good portion of those minutes were spent waiting while the game sat hung, driving all four cores of my Intel Core 2 Q6600 processor beyond 50% capacity. I had to bring up Task Manager just to see if the game still had a pulse.
I was not able to play at all for the first day.
It wasn’t until I turned off the intro movie, got into the options and turned down every possible setting to its absolute minimum, picked the default minimum game (changing any game setting is like hitting the fail button), and shut down every possible process on my system that I was able to hit my peak and get 46 turns into a game before it hung.
And I consider myself lucky to have gotten that far. Most times I just see this at launch.
And there is no recovery, no launching the game again. It is straight to the Start menu to reboot the system after any failure. I’ve tried. There is no hope without a reboot.
Okay, my system is aging, and not so gracefully. It isn’t at its most stable of late. But this is ridiculous.
I should have the horsepower to run the game. My quad 2.4 GHz CPU should be up to the task, being beyond the recommended system requirements, which specify a quad 1.8GHz or better. Woe to those who have only a single or dual core system.
And running with everything off, including virus protection, but the OS and Steam the game doesn’t appear to be trying to claim memory beyond the 2GB I have installed.
But it fails every time. Sooner or later, the carpet is yanked out from under me… and usually it is sooner.
Steam seems to have a patch for the game every night that fixes one crash or another. I’ll give Steam that, the patching happens fast. But each such patch only leads to disappointment as the game ab ends in the black rectangle where the intro movie should be running. (Couldn’t they put up a logo or something if you’ve turned the intro movie off?)
And all of this wouldn’t annoy me so much if the game didn’t appear to have promise, if it didn’t seem to have erased some of the sins of its two predecessors, if it didn’t feel like perhaps, maybe, it was getting back to the feel that made Civ II such a great game while keeping the bits of III and IV that actually improved the series.
I’d really like to play it and see if that was true.
But I can’t it seems, not yet.
I run Steam each evening in hopes that a new patch will make the game behave.
I wander through game sites looking for suggestions on how to tame the game.
But so far I’ve only managed 46 minutes. Barely enough for a EuroGamer review.
I guess I’ll have to go back to Civ II if I want a Civilization fix while I wait for Civ V’s day to come.
It should play really well in about 5 years. History repeats itself.