Made a donation to the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund

Gary Gygax at Gen Con Indy 2007. Gygax is stan...

Image via Wikipedia

Their website does a terrible job if helping you understand why you might consider donating and what they’ll do with the money, but I still gave $20 to the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund this week. Gygax is one of the creators of Dungeons and Dragons, originally a set of miniatures supplements he wrote with his friends that grew into a global brand. He also founded one of the earliest gaming magazines (Dragon Magazine), launched what became and remains the US’s largest gaming convention (Gencon), produced a hit animated television series (Dungeons and Dragons), and more. Gygax’s games and company played a huge role in my middle childhood, and I still have a stack of his books and supplements tucked into my basement rec room’s game cabinet. The intent is to build a statue commemorating his life on parkland in downtown Lake Geneva, WI, where he lived and worked for most of his life. He deserves the recognition.

The memorial is going to be in downtown Lake Geneva, in this park.

Friday fun: Id’s Doom in your browser

A great demonstration of how much progress is being made with javascript. Spend some time at lunch today playing the original Doom from Id in your browser. Performance is a little sluggish on my middle of the road imac at work, and the sound lags behind the action, but it’s still pretty impressive. It also sort of mimics my original experience with Doom back in the day, when it was sluggish as heck on the old (386? 486? I can’t recall) machines we had at the office when it came out. Anyway, worth a little stroll down nostalgia lane. Mind that you should try this with a modern browser. Enjoy!

Minecraft plus Studio Ghibli plus time = brilliance

So you have to be a nerds nerd to really appreciate this but man, if you fit the bill, this is fantastic. This:

Is the worlds imagined by Studio Ghibli as recreated by a bunch of folks using the Minecraft engine.

If you’re unfamiliar with Studio Ghibli, stop what you’re doing and go watch Laputa, Castle in the Sky, or Grave of the Fireflies, or Porco Rosso, or, well, anything they’ve done, but especially those. Shorthand explanation would be that they’re a Japanese analog to Walt Disney.

If you’re unfamiliar with Minecraft, and you have a computer that’s less than 6-7 years old that can run Java, go spend the $15 or so to register. It’s a 3d lego toolkit with world generation, multiplayer, and zombies, plus a whole lot more, but that should be enough right there. Plus it’s absolutely brilliant.

Just my luck: no functioning consoles

So my primary hobby is gaming, and I spend a fair amount of time and money on it. What are the odds that in the same timeframe Sony Playstation’s PSN service would go down for a month+ due to being hacked, and my just over 3 year old (read: just out of warranty) xbox 360 would Red Ring of Death? 100% likely as it turns out. Just a couple of days after the PSN network blew up, my Xbox died as I sat down to watch a movie on it. I’m especially pissed about the xbox because I intentionally held off buying one for several years because the RROD issue became well known and I decided to hold off for a hardware revision, assuming Microsoft would address the issue. They didn’t. Supposedly it’s addressed in the newest ‘slim’ models (I bought an Elite shortly after they came out), but at this point, having had my first generation xbox die and now my 360 die, I’m not so sure I want to buy back into the platform. It’s a real dilemma though, because I have literally dozens of games for the thing, as well as many peripherals (the controllers alone go for $50/pop and I have 4 of them), and selling everything off will earn me pennies on the dollar. Plus, I’m figuring my soon-to-be toddler would enjoy the Kinect motion control stuff MS is pushing these days.

So…what to do. I can’t decide. I’m sitting pat for now. E3, the biggest gaming industry trade show, is next month, and I’m going to see what comes out of that before doing anything.  I should note that while the PS3 still works, mostly, aside from multiplayer, I’m worried trophies won’t sync correctly when the network comes back up, so I’ve been staying off of it. Meantime, it’s back to gaming on the PC primarily.

No audio over hdmi on windows 7? Solution:

I bought a new monitor and am replacing my 5.1 speaker set with speakers built into the monitor – basically I’m reducing clutter on my desk and am going to use headphones when I want quality audio from the computer. Having a baby changes your priorities 😉

The problem was, when I got everything wired up, I had no audio coming from the computer. Ultimately this boiled down to a driver issue that’s related to the fact that when you’re using HDMI, your video card is responsible for delivering the audio to your output device. I had to update my realtek audio drivers, disable all devices, then restart the machine and reconfigure, before I could get audio out. I found this forum thread helpful, as well as this image illustrating the three places you need to make changes to your system configuration in order to get audio out.

While this is a driver issue ultimately I blame Microsoft for this – it’s hard to imagine making something as simple as ‘I want sound from my computer’ more complex.

Posting this in case it’s helpful to others.

Video shrunken/ not fullscreen using an HDMI cable? Solution:

I bought a new monitor and connected it to my video card via HDMI. The video output was shrunken, with ~1″ black borders all around the screen. At first I thought the monitor was defective but I tested using a DVI cable and the display was fine. Much googling later, I figured out it’s an issue with ATI/AMD’s catalyst control center. Basically you have to set overscan to 0% in the catalyst control center to rid yourself of this issue, something that’s not at all intuitive – even finding where to change that setting is a chore. This post on aoclarkejr.com was super helpful and has pictures of each step you need to take. I found that via this forum thread. Posting this just in case it helps others solve this issue.

Friday fun link: Glorg

Glorg is worth checking out simply on the strength of its design. It’s a minimalistic one button rpg inspired by roguelikes with great art design and music. This isn’t a deep experience, but it’s perfect for your friday lunch break. Pay attention to the timing on your mouseclicks – it’s not obvious at first that timing plays an important role. A video is below:

Friday fun: Hydorah

Inspired by arcade games from the 80’s, Hydorah‘s a very capable riff on the classic old shootemup Gradius. It’s free, runs only on windows, and is pretty damned difficult. Definitely check it out if you grew up in the 80’s and enjoy shootemups. Here’s a video to give a sense of how it plays:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7066986&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Hydorah Official Trailer from Locomalito on Vimeo.

Return of the Friday fun link: Cursed Treasure

Cursed Treasure is a fantastic flash-based tower defense game with a level up system. If you’re a fan of the genre you don’t want to miss this one. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it’s just really well executed, has good graphics, UI, and sound, and enough depth to keep you engaged. I finished all levels with a brilliant rating. A hint: the fear power of Crypts is really powerful. I found it easiest to focus on leveling that tower type up. Also holding down shift lets you repeat actions, something that’s not obvious and which is critical to beating Ninjas with your fireball.