27 December 2007

Linux games: best of breed

While I find such lists of must have games an interesting read and I think is wonderful to have all those games (big thank you to all packagers), my opinion is that the focus should be on a "best of breed" selection and promotion of this particular selection.

 These days I play a lot less than I used to and my area of interest (and expertise, if I may say that) has closed a lot (and is badly represented by the available Free Linux games) but I see a lot of redundancy, for example Alien Arena, Cube, Cube 2 "Sauerbraten", Digital Paint's Paintball, Nexuiz, Open Arena, Tremulous, Urban Terror, Warsow and World of Padman are all the same for me: they are First Person Shooters. They all have they own particularities, strengths and weakness (sometime even the same engines), but for a non hardcore gamer like me, the similarities are more than the differences.
And yes, if I am an expert in one of them, I will be pretty good in the others, but honestly, I will never be an expert in the area, I play FPS games only occasionally.

What is the best of the FPS genre? I really don't know, I mostly play Open Arena because this is what I am most used to from the Quake 3 legacy.

 I understand defining "best of breed" is very hard, each person has his own option. And also defining what "breed" is hard but important in this: for example for the "Strategy" genre, Battle for Wesnoth is "the best", but refining the genre in turn based and strategy, then Wesnoth is the best TBS with something else (Widelands and Glest are my current favorites) for RTS.

So, what are your favorite genres? The favorite games in those genres?

24 December 2007

Glest - a promising 3D Real Time strategy game

[glest]Winter holidays: some are on vacancy, some are happy, some are relaxing, so I think a little post about a game is on topic.

Glest is a free 3D RTS (real time strategy) game available one yum away for your Fedora desktop:

yum install glest

I hate to use that label, as it usually indicate a game with a great potential which lacks some fundamental features (and there are no signs about them in the near future), but Glest is a promising game.

[glest]The good part: is easy to learn, with a classic Warcraft feel, nice graphics, a good concept of two factions, magic versus tech, 3D with a modern look, balanced research tree, unique units and buildings and more. It has lot of the things needed to become "the" Free RTS.
On top of that, it can be easily extended and modded: new maps, units, factions.

[glest]But, as I said, it is "promising", despite being at version 2.0.1 (with a 3.0 in alpha stage) it lacks so many things: event making the screenshots for this post was a pain - edit a config file to change the mode to windowed and modify the screen resolution, no GUI for this and no screenshot key.
Some notable missing features: no network play, no savegames, no campaign. Aa a 3D game, it may tax your computer heavily, so an in-game resolution selector is, I think, a must have, and, again for a 3D game, I expect as a must the ability to change the view, rotate the camera and zoom in and out.

But install, play and judge for yourself, I am a RTS wuss, I got my ass kicked big time in Glest.

21 December 2007

The real question: who's your daddy?

Everyone talks about Matthew Szulik stepping down as Red Hat CEO and being replaced by Jim Whitehurst. Max inform us Jim uses Linux, even Fedora, at home, but I think the real question is what OS does his father run on the desktop?
After all, maybe 2008 will be the year of the desktop Linux :p

20 December 2007

D-Link tech suport

I had recently a boring task (it took me away from some cool clipart work) to configure a hotspot with 3 Access Points put in WDS mode to increase the area covered. It was very consuming as they have to be put in large a building with thick walls and my experience in the area was not that great.

Skipping the useless details (about how it worked well with 2 APs and bad with 3 APs and how all the documentation talks only about using 2 APs), I didn't find anything useful in the manufacturer (D-Link) Knowledge Base, so I used the contact form on the support website to ask for advice.
The reply was quick, but totally useless, with 3 advices:

  • - turn off security; Why would a sane person leave the wireless network open?
  • - change the channel number; I may try this, but I see no point: the hotspot is in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to produce interferences;
  • - and the most useless one: they recommend the demo of a Windows-only software which "simplifies Microsoft Networking and may allow you to trouble shoot your network on your own" (emphasis mine). Duh! The contact form asked for the OS (info not needed for setting up an AP with a web interface) and I specified Linux and I don't need there Windows file and printer sharing

19 December 2007

A new release name

The process for Fedora 9 release name has started, this time much earlier, hopefully early enough to allow artwork and marketing to tune up the message.
For now, we are in the collecting stage on the devel mailing list, it will be followed by a legal cleaning and a public vote.

If I am asked, I tend to go for a darker and aggressive name, but from the proposals so far, I like best the completely opposite "unicorn" (even if I don't have any idea on how it could be implemented in a good desktop theming, I can thing only at excessively cheesy things).
However, I think I would like some more complex names, I find "Pink Unicorn" a better name than just "Unicorn" (and, of course, "Unbelievable Unicorn" much worse).

Hero by accident

This is how an obscure blogger, writing on an obscure blog can get the most know Romanian blogger by accident (pun intended).

Long story short: afternoon, Sunday December 16, a Bucharest covered in snow. A Romanian ministry drives his car, returning from a party, loses control of his car, hit another car and a pedestrian (supposedly on the pedestrian crossing ans supposedly hit only lightly).
A newspaper get a clue, but is not able to verify the story: the ministry denies everything, the police denies it, the ambulance service does not confirm any victim, in what seems to be the perfect cover-up, so no story get in the press.

And here goes the real accident: a young girl passes by, see the cars crashed, makes some photos with her mobile phone, learn about the ministry's involvement, takes more photos and get home and blog about them (link in Romanian language).

The newspaper learn about her blog post, use it as a confirmation for the story and the truth start to be revealed and new witnesses get courage to talk : first the ministry acknowledge he was in the city, then he acknowledge he was involved in a car incident but without any victim, then the police acknowledge a car incident without victims happened, then 30 hours later (!!!) the ministry get to the police to tell his story, then the ambulance service acknowledge it was called at the accident, then the police acknowledge they got an emergency (112) call, then they acknowledge a victim.

Today, 3 days after the incident, it is on the first page on all traditional media. And all this because of a pesky blogger with a camera on the mobile phone.

07 December 2007

Narro: a web based translation tool

Narro is a web-based translation tool (with a Romanian interface) made by alexxed and used to translate some applications (OpenOffice.org, Firefox and Thunderbird) to Romanian, it is a wonderful tool and it grow on me each day.

To demonstrate how much it grew on me lately: I do not use any desktop application translated into my native language (and don't plan to start using), I prefer any time the default, English version. However, there are times when I so unmotivated, bored and sucked of energy, that I am not in the mood do do anything. But in those times, I find myself going to Narro and translating some strings...

And here is a psychological observation from using the tool: OpenOffice.org is translated about 18%, Firefox 3 90% and Thunderbird 2 93%.
If very un-fulfilling to translate OOo strings: it is such a behemoth (70,336 strings) that even if you translate a lot of strings the result is unnoticeable and its status at 18% makes the end look so far and unattainable.
By the contrary, with FF and TB you can easily see the light at the end of the tunnel, half an hour of contributing makes a difference so the process is much more motivating.

So guess where I am translating most of the time...