Grasping the concept of the block-button...


I've been playing a fair amount of Mortal Kombat lately, and as I was playing the game earlier today I suddenly realized something: 
 
"I don't have an issue with the dedicated block button in this game!" 
 
It's not that in all the years I've been playing fighting games, I've been unable to utilize a block button. 
It's just that I don't really have to think about utilizing it any more. 
 
Obvious question:
You're probably wondering how I possibly could call myself a long time fan of the Mortal Kombat series, if the block-button have been an issue? 
(and yes...I WILL call myself a long time fan of MK)
 
Answer: 
Back when I first was introduced to the Mortal Kombat series my gaming-platform at the time was an Amiga. Which means the games for it was designed around a single button joystick. This was of cause also the case for Mortal Kombat. 
 
If you've grown up with a system with multi-button controllers (which is probably the most of you) this may sound insane... or at the very least as an inferior version of the game. However the Amiga-version was in no way inferior or unplayable.  

The way the controls were handled for the games was that holding down the button would block, and then it used diagonal inputs for executing some moves. So all moves were actually in the game. Street Fighter II for the Amiga did something similar, by using diagonal inputs for some moves. 
 
Post single-button gaming:
I've generally felt that the Street Fighter/Tekken way of blocking by holding back, was way more intuitive and superior - but I realize now that with the amount of teleporting that is an core part of MK, it totally makes sense to use a block button instead. 
 
When I got back into fighting games with Playstation, it was really Tekken 3 that was my fighting game of choice, and I wasn't really forced to deal with a block button before playing DOA2 (maybe 3... can't remember). Since I've of cause been playing a bit of games in the Soul Calibur series and Virtua Fighter, but at no point I've actually *really* gotten used to games that use a block button. 
 
... That is of cause until this Mortal Kombat. 
 
Some of it may actually be that the block-button isn't a face-button. I donno. 
... But the main point is that I don't forget to use the block button anymore. Something that I'll admit even have been a bit of a problem even though I've played quite a lot of UMK3 on 360 and DS.
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Yoomp! - and Atari XL/XE emulation

So I saw this video on a youtuber's page about a homebrew game for Atari XE called Yoomp!  
The Youtube-channel is Nice and Games
  

  
It's pretty awesome - and actually I'll suggest anyone to check this guys channel out if you're into retro stuff. 
He is pretty entertaining. 
 
However this game had me interested enough to go through the trials and tribulations of getting an emulator of this computer to work. 
This was in fact a bit of a hassle. Mostly because although I know about a lot retro computers - I grew up with Commodore computers, so I've never even tried emulating this particular system before. 
 
But it worked and now I've gotten the game working on my mac... and it is... awesome. 
Honestly never got the impression that the Atari were capable music on par with the C64. 
 
Pick up the game at http://yoomp.atari.pl  and the music is available there too. 
The emulator I went with was Atari800Macx which of cause is for mac. It is probably easier to find a good emulator for Windows.
 
However now that I've got Atari emulation up and running - I figure someone on these forum may have suggestions for games to look for for this system.  

Keep in mind that I know most classic games for C64, so it is a bit interesting for me if it is Atari-specific titles... or at least games where the superior version is for Atari.
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A couple of ghetto-fixes to GHWT drums

A while back I ran into a problem with my green pad becoming way to responsive and registering hits no matter which pad I hit. 
All available help on the subject deals with pads that aren't responsive enough, so I was in a bit of a problem. 
My original post describing my problem

I did however find a solution to this particular problem, and since I've not found this fix covered on the internets, I might as well share it :-)  
 

FIX 1

I noticed that the green pad (the pad that was way to responsive) was pretty wobbly, and I basically figured that if I could stop this wobblyness, It would stop registering hits from vibrations outside of the pad itself. I turn out this worked. 
 
Red Arrow: rubber-barb holding pad in place. 
I guess you could stop the wobblyness of the pad in a couple of ways, the way I did it however was first opening the drum-set and looking on the backside of the pad. 

Each individual pad is held in place by 3 rubber-barb. When you press upon the pad it becomes apparent that these may be able to "give" a great deal. up to 1 cm.
 
The only thing I had to do was displace this space with something else, to make the pad less wobbly. 
  
 
ordinary wire 
 
 
My choice to displace this space was some ordinary wire, which most people probably have lying around in an abundance. 
 
It's the kind wire that is found in pretty much every package of hardware to hold items in place in the package.  
   

  

The wire wrapped around the barb. 
 
 Then I simply wrapped the wire around the inner part of the rubber-barb to displace the space, to make the pad much less wobbly. 
 
... And this basically made the pad not pick up vibrations from the other pads.
 
 

  

FIX 2 

The second fix I've made was a bit more of a added function to the drum-set, I decided I might as well try out, now that I've already had my drum-set open and found it not looking too intimidating inside. 
 
I actually play Rock Band 2 a lot more that I play Guitar Hero, and anybody who has used the GHWT drums with Rock Band 2, may have been somewhat annoyed about the way the game interprets blue drum-pad. I know I have :-) 

The yellow cymbal on the set is almost always a cymbal in the game, but the blue drum is actually most often a cymbal in the game too. 

So I had the idea of just having the orange cymbal (which is ignored by RB2 anyway) double as a blue drum for use in RB2. A fix which actually was very simple. 
    
 Connecting a second wire to the blue drums connection.  


It's very easy to se where the wires for each pad is connected on the controller. 
It was really only a question about connecting another wire to the same connection as the blue drum, and make this wire connect to the orange cymbal in some way. 
 
Red arrow shows the blue drums connection. 
Blue arrow show the wire that I attached to the same connection.
I did not solder anything, it's pretty much hold in place with tape and faith. 
 
 The tale of two jacks
At the other end of the wire I simply have a mini-jack.  
 
Red arrow: The original "jack" that I connect, if I want to play games from the Guitar Hero franchise. 
Blue arrow: The new jack I connect, if I want to use the drums with Rock Band 2.
 
Please notice that I have a hole where others actually have a "holder" for the drums-sticks. 
It's basically a casualty of the first day of having the drums, where my arms may have been flailing around a fair bit - and as such hitting this "holder" and pressing it into the drumset. 
 
Even if your not as stupid as me and making a hole like that, I think you'll probably still be able to find a way to get the wire top-side. 
  
I believe this fix makes my Rock Band 2 experience that much better, since both the blue pad and the cymbal can be used as I see fit. 
 

FIX 3

This is my latest fix on the set, and the reason why I had the set open again, and made it possible for me to take these pictures. 
 
The red pad had begun behaving like my green pad used to do, so I figured it was the same problem again. 
This turned out to not be the case though. 
 
The problem this time was that the sensor on the pad had simply come of, and was touching the plastic. As such it registered any vibration done anywhere on the drums-set. I simply tried to use some tape to attach this sensor again. 
 
This didn't really turn out to work for much more that a couple of songs, before the tape came loose. This resulted in the pad registering multiple hits most of the time, again making the game unplayable. 
 
The solution I came up with was actually not so much my own idea. 
What I did was making a bit of a variation on these guys' solution. 
 
Instead of using a popsicle-stick, I simply rolled a piece of paper together in the needed length. Making a pretty solid "stick", that still is somewhat flexible to prevent the pad from registering multiple hits from "counter hit". 
Basically it is just supposed to hold the sensor in place and not push against it. So far it seems to be working. 
 
 
I hope somebody can make use of my experiences. At this rate I doubt I've done making fixes for the drum-set though. 
I figure that in about a years time I've got a drum-set solely held together by tape and other patches :-)
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Re-buying games *just* because they are cheap...

 I actually think I've done something like this before...  

 Anyway, I just bought this: 
 
 
It's Bully for the PS2 and it was only approximately 4$. 
While it may not seem that overly cheap for americans, keep in mind that your 5$-bargain bins are more like 10$-bargain bins in my country (well, 9,5$). 
So considering how good this game is, this is actually a steal. 
 
The only thing is - I already have this game... So I can only wonder why I actually bought it. 
Actually, I've currently lent out my other copy of the game to my nephews, but I honestly don't think I'm going to replay the game, just because I have a new copy. 
... But I guess they can keep the game now. 
 
I recall I did this with "Devil May Cry" too once.
 
I'm just wondering if anybody else does stuff like this.    

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Gamemods are differently for the hardcore!

Well, of cause it is...

But on the top of my head, there can be a number reason why someone would give game-mods a go:
  • You might seek more challenge for a game you've played to death.
  • If you have an older system, you might actually love the fact that you can expand the games you can actually run.
  • Mods can address game-breaking issues that really bother you.
  • You may just want to experience the game in a new way, without making the game not fun...

If a game is a few years old and have picked up a modding-scene, it is most likely someone have made an overhaul-mods, that is basically is a collection of popular mods. If you've either picked up an older game or just wanted to revisit one, one of those mods seem to be the way to go.
Except people who make these Overhauls seem to assume, that people seek more challenge out of the game.

I've been trying out some mods with the space-trade-sim Freelancer lately. More specifically the overhaul mods Crossfire and Discovery.
Both of these mods offer an expanded universe, with more ships, mechanics, improved graphics,the possibility to play with the mod online on their server... and enemy npc's that take FOREVER to take down because of "improved" AI - However, this just means that the have increased ability to heal themselves.

I've played about an hour of the mod Crossfire today before I got annoyed with this, and wasn't able to take out a single enemy in this frame of time. Be aware that the pay-off from any of these missions wouldn't have been correspondent to the weapon-costs used during battle. It's apparent that you start of with enough money on the game-server to buy some better weapons - however nothing in the system you start out in is expensive (or powerful) enough to match the enemies you meet in the same system. 

The enemies are in fact not more challenging - they are just more time-consuming to take down.
Personally I don't se the logic in adding a whole lot of ships and equipment to the gameplay, while effectively rendering a whole lot of ships and equipment useless from the start of the game. If you're trying to develop an online community around a mod, I wouldn't recommend alienating people who seek to play to... you know... just to have fun.

It seems to be a reoccurring theme among plenty of mods for several games. The mod Discovery for the same game is similar in that way, however I was able to take down some enemies. I just had to devote roughly 20 minutes per enemy - Since the amount of enemies that fly together in groups are largely the same as the original, you have to devote a lot of time to a single battle. I recall having played a mod for Pirates of Caribbean, which also added a whole lot of new and exciting enhancements... along with enemy ships that took forever to take down.

I'm currently waiting for Oblivion and looking to play this game with mods. I already have the game for PS3 but got very annoyed with how the level-progression is done. This is however something I've read that there are made mods to fix in different ways - Coupled with a mod that makes it possible to leave your alchemy-equipment at home for some home-brewing, this sounds like a sweet deal to me.

Now if I can just experience these enhancements without having to run into wolves 10 levels above my own level...
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Rock Band 2 vs Guitar Hero World Tour

While this subject may seem a little late to the party - please keep in mind that I am european, and thus RB2 have only just been released here a few weeks back. 
This also means that I'm playing RB2 with the GHWT-drums since that's the game I acquired back in december - Seriously, as if I was going to buy RB1 (which just had been released at that time) knowing that RB2 had already been released in the States.
Most of my comments on the games are probably going to be drum-related, since that's what I'm mostly rocking now that it's the new thing.
Also be aware that I have the PS3-version of both games.

Having played quite a lot of Guitar Hero World Tour up to this point, and been playing Rock Band 2 intensely in these last 2 weeks or so , I wanted to share my observations on how I think Rock Band 2 compares to Guitar Hero World Tour.

Having never played RB1 I differently noticed some sort of timing difference between the two games. I feel that RB2 requires somewhat more precision.
However having overcome that, overall RB2 comes across as the better *game* to me. Anyway, I better start listing my main observations..

THE GOOD

  • I love how the whole career-mode is i RB2. The whole idea about gathering fans to progress work very well and the fact that each character earn money individual works pretty well too.
  • You're able to start a new band with other people WITHOUT being completely cut off from unlocked songs. You don't have to unlock songs again.
  • I loooove the whole using drum-fills to activate star power ...ehm... I guess that's "overdrive". I'm unable to count all the times in GHWT where I've broken a 4x streak trying to activate star-power and it didn't register. Actually I generally love everything about the fills. They actually come in meaningful places unlike GHWT, where I usually don't even bother since I seldom are able to drum anything naturally.
  • I think the fact that hits during fills DON'T count any points works to the advantage of the general gameplay. By not activating the overdrive you can make it through hard parts, using the fills as breathers between the hard part. However it's at the expense of points which can't be earned during these sections. Also since the fill-sections itself don't count towards your score, you don't feel "pressured" to perform the fill if you can't do a meaningful one.
  • It's a great idea that the bass-player is able to rack in a 6x multiplier. It adds to the importance of the bass in the songs.
  • The way overdrive is activated on the singers track seem superior to GHWT, where it often seem to activate accidently. The rhythm-sections are also superior to GHWT's "make some noise"-sections... seriously, who can (or would) even do that without just being annoying. The fact that the rhythm-sections are voluntary to take into account people, who actually have the mike on a stand and are willing to play an instrument AND sing is kind of awesome... I actually did this in GHWT :-)
  • Rocking a GHWT-guitar in RB2 is awesome simply because it ignores the input from the finger-smudged solo-pad. I don't know if I'm missing out not having a RB-guitar with solo-buttons, but to me it's a big deal that the stupid solo-pad (which I didn't EVER use anyway) doesn't suddenly give false inputs.
  • ... on that note. The blue solo-sections are a good addition - you get aware on sections where your instrument has a solo and is in focus - and although I don't actually have a RB-guitar, I can easy deduct that these solo-sections work a whole lot better with the solo-buttons on the RB-guitar, than the way GHWT can suddenly out of the blue throw some slidey-notes at you.
  • Multiplayer actually works... and it works well. Of cause I can't be sure if this just because I have the PS3-version of the games, but I've NEVER successfully got any online game going in GHWT... not that there is much reason to anyway. The way RB2 makes it easy to join and invite people in a band, has actually made me aware that there IS actually people playing PS3 online... Now it would just be nice if people had headsets too... Not that I have one either though.
  • That songs are compatible between Rock Band games is reassuring... And apart from that novel idea, the song selection is larger than that of GHWT and also cheaper. Go figure...
  • Although I've yet to use it - the "no fail"-function is a great idea.

THE BAD

  • The inability to change difficulty after failing a song is kind of annoying. This is especially the case when playing a 6 song set, just to discover that song number 5 is out of your league at that particularly level. I don't know how many are willing to burn through their fans by trying multiple times on the same song to HOPEFULLY beat it eventually. This pretty much leave you with an annoying choice on a multiple song setlist: Either play on the level you can beat most songs and risk failing one of them - or play it safe and play on the level where you can beat all songs, but will be bored playing most of them... That sucks! - It's all well and good that you're able to "save and quit" during a setlist, but this annoyance pretty much keeps me from giving the "Endless Setlist 2" a go...well... ever.
  • I not sure, but it seems you can go from green to failed very suddenly in RB2. I've sometimes died with "overdrive" to spare. GHWT seems more forgiving in that regard.
  • However singing seems to be VERY forgiving. I don't think I've EVER 100%'ed a song in Singstar on expert for example, and this is something I've managed to do in RB2... I'm differently not THAT good a singer.
  • It's not a big deal, but it would have been nice if the bass had open notes like in GHWT.
  • The 5-note pattern of GHWT seems superior, and the fact that the drum-controller itself clearly defines visual difference between the drums and the hi-hats is great. It's not likely to ever be addressed, since I'm well aware that the price for song compatibility between games, is that you can't change the original format.
Which pretty much brings me to my main issue with the game...
  • The GHWT-drums' compatibility with RB2...

The yellow hi-hat mostly represent a hi-hat in the game, so in for the most part that pad is well enough placed for use with RB2. In fact the only song that comes to mind where the yellow pad seems to represent is "Jesus Christ Pose" by Soundgarden... which incidentally was the first song I bought - and thus I noticed this problem.
However the interpretation of the blue pad annoys me immensely - it sometimes represent a tom and sometimes it represent a hi-hat... and the most annoying thing is, that I see no reason why the orange hi-hat on the GHWT-drums (which is left unused) couldn't double as blue note in the game. 
This simple adjustment would seriously solve my entire issue with the compatibility.
The occasional usage of the green pad as a cymbal doesn't really bother me all that much, because apart from the green note at the end of fill-sections, I don't notice this all that much.

This is pretty much what I've noticed and felt like commenting on - didn't actually mean to write a complete essay about it, but it became a fair bit longer than I anticipated.
It's probably apparent enough, but I find that the good outweigh the bad and I'm generally enjoying the game a whole lot.

Feel free to comment and tell me your take on the two games' differences.
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SOASC: The kind of insanity I can relate to

While surfing for some retro game-music due to a recent thread on this board, I stumbled over this madness.

So what is it?

It's a rig consisting of 4 PC's and 2 Commodore 64's... and it's basically a project designed to automatically record every SID ever made.

The rig is automated and records the audio output of 2 C64's in real-time, and uploads the resulting mp3's to be available for download on SOASC.
The final result will require over 400 Gb of storage - which is a fair bit more than the 40-50 Mb of storage the entire collection of SID-files takes up.

The reason there is 2 C64's connected has not actually anything to do with speeding up the process, but is actually because that through the production of the C64, it was fitted with 2 different versions of the SID-soundchip. While the older version actually was buggy, it's generally considered to have a *warmer* sound. For this reason SIDS are generally programmed to sound "correct" on either the older or the newer soundchip.

Considering how small storage-wise the entire SID-collection is and how good current emulation technology for SID-playback is (win / osx), the insanity of this project becomes even more apparent. This is for purists who NEED the authentic sound.
I don't know who these people might be.

However I can't do anything but love the effort and the project.
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Can I get an arcade stick for right-handed people, please?

This weekend I bought Street Fighter HD Remix since it has just now been released on PSN here in Europe. 
Being unable to pull much of any special move consistently on the d-pad, I decided to dig out an arcade-stick of mine to use with it.

It may be older but it works well enough
This monstrosity on the left my arcade stick which I've had for a couple of years.
It's actually a PS2-stick, but it seems to work well enough with an ps2-to-ps3 adapter.

Actually I've read somewhere that using the controller-adapter-solution to cheap out of buying all new hardware for your console, ads some marginal lag to the control-inputs. I am however not good enough to notice or care.

Actually, I've already bought an PS3 specific arcade stick. It has all sort of problems though - like wonky buttons and the stick mapped to the left analog stick. The latter problem making it useless for use with MK vs DC, since up/down makes your character sidestep... and the first problem making it useless all around. 
So my PS2-arcade-stick is the best choice for me.
 
But to get to the point of this blog-post:

I've never actually been comfortable using sticks with that design.
They actually seem backwards to me.

I would rather use my right hand for controlling the stick and the left hand for the face-buttons. Which is exactly what I tried this weekend... 
I tried crossing my arms - and much to my surprise it actually worked for me. I was suddenly able to pull off pile-drivers like it was nothing.

I figure I must be the oddball and that every arcade stick out there actually isn't designed for left-handed people. It's pretty apparent that the design mimics the controls of standard gamepads, with directional controls on the left and buttons on the right, and (of cause) the controls of arcade cabinets.

However I think I've figured out WHY the standard design doesn't feel right for me.
It's pretty much sprung out of habits learned from a young age...

Would you honestly grab this joystick with your left hand without prior conditioning?
Being from Denmark it's not actually game consoles that were the most predominant source for video games when I was a kid.
Certainly nobody I knew had a Nintendo og Sega console. So I wasn't actually exposed to the traditional controller for these consoles.

Instead I grew up with with home-computers like the Commodore 64 and later the Amiga 500.
The controllers for these computers were indeed very simple: 1 stick and 1 button.

There is nothing about the joystick-controller that signals which hand goes where, so as a kid I just did what felt most right to me. 
Which was grabbing the stick with the right hand, and pushing the one button with my left.

It wasn't actually until getting a PS2 myself I've began learning to use a gamepad. Well, guess I did pick something up with what little PS1 I played at friends and whatever... 
But even though I today am pretty comfortable with gamepads - If presented with a joystick-like controller, I would much rather control the stick with my right hand.


Guess I'm wondering if I'm alone in this.
I figure there's bound to be other people who didn't grow up with gamepads in their hands.

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My thoughts on Saints Row 2

I recently got hold on Saints Row 2, and must say that I'm really enjoying it. The whole "customize-yourself" aspect of this game is truly impressing and time absorbing.


While I am enjoying it a lot more than I did GTA4, I'll try not to get to much into to the already overplayed "SR2 is better than GTA4"-argument, since I do have gripes with the game. I'm aware that this game has more in common with GTA:SA - however again I feel it's more

As many people have mentioned on the net following things are better/more fun than later GTA-games:
  • Driving is a lot more fun, and the fact that you can come from point A to B without trashing you car before a mission is gold.
  • The fact that you can save what seems to be an endless number of cars in your garage is great - AND that you can recall a car you've accidently destroyed is even better. I really couldn't see any reason to pimp out any car in GTA:SA, since I knew I'd probably loose it at some point.
  • I find melee fighting more fun. When you hold a gun and do a secondary attack you do a crutch-kick - which is awesome.
  • Territory wars are more fun and less intrusive that those found in GTA:SA.
  • You don't have to eat, work-out or take people on dates to maintain some sort of favorable bonus.
  • You can at any time replay previous missions.
  • There seems to be more weapons in SA2 and they are pretty varied.

Now I get to some few things I've noticed that are not quite up to par in SA2:
  • Car/people spawning/disappearing  is even worse than GTA3. Seriously, a car can drive by you and while you still can hear it's engine, and when you turn around it will be gone. I've numerous times spotted a car I've wanted, drove past it to block with my current car - just to find it has magically disappeared. I just hope at some point these kind of games will feature spawning that far enough away to actually be somewhat believable. 
  • I find the weapon/food-selection mechanic cumbersome. Especially I find It pretty hectic to find and activate some food in the middle of a firefight - and that's honestly the only time you would need to activate it, since health is regenerating if you've pulled yourself out of the line of fire.
  • Man I would love to have a breadcrum-trail in these kind of games. Looking at the GPS while driving is actually kind of annoying... For some reason I was actually under the impression that Saints Row (and thus Saints Row 2) featured such a mechanic. But since I've never owned Saint Row, I probably just remember reviews mentioning the trail on the GPS, since that was a big plus over the GTA-series at the time.
  • I guess it would be nice if there were a bit more smaller diversions. Like the ability to play pool, since several of your cribs feature a pool-table.
  • With all the customization you are able to do to your person, it would be kind of nice if you were able to save these settings.

That is some of what I've noticed about the game so far, but I haven't completed it yet though... I haven't completed GTA:SA or GTA4 either... but I must say, I think it's more likely that I complete this game. Although at the moment I'm in no hurry since I find plenty of non-story things to do in the game.
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Getting in "The Zone"

I just downloaded the PSN game Astro Tripper and after playing a fair bit of it, I wasn't doing very well in it.

One thing that was bothering me about this game is the complete lack of music in-game.
It does however support custom soundtracks... 
which actually just left me with another problem:

"What music goes well for a game like this?"

For some reason the first thing I though of when trying to think of some fitting music, was the music from the original Stardust for the Amiga.
... And sure enough I was able to find mp3's on the net of soundtrack to that game...

Sure enough as soon as I put this music on for the game, I was able to get in the zone, and did a lot better at the game.

I especially like this theme: Level 3
... Not that I was ever able to actually get to level 3 in the original Stardust game, but basically all the level-themes are similar. A simple thumping techno-loop... But I find that style so fitting for this kind of game.

And thus I want to ask what kind of custom music you choose for these kind of games? Preferable something legally downloadable.
I haven't even begun filling my PS3 with music.
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