FNG Logo created by Nick Serr

31 December 2010

Hot Pursuit - Thursday Night Gaming Edition

"Santa" dropped a special gift in Atholon's Steam account this morning and helped him join the other FNGers playing Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

We "gave it a spin" tonight with Thundr, who got his settings worked out so he can play with us too.

The first several runs found myself trying to bust both Thundr and Atholon, and while I came close a few times, was never successful.

Then we switched to me running from them as a lone racer... and you guessed it, couldn't get away.  It was fun though, so we all started taking turns being the lone racer, on a quest to be the first one to evade the cops and win the race.

I was finally victorious on one run where I missed what we thought was a shortcut... Atholon attempted the shortcut only to find it was a dead-end.  Thundr ended up with a fatal crash that took him out of the race as they tried to catch up with me.  A few miles later, the finish line was finally in sight.  I checked my radar and saw Atholon quickly approaching; but it was too late.

Victory ahead!
First lone racer victory of the night.

Our final race had Thundr and myself chasing Atholon.  Thundr unfortunately wrecked out of the race, and it left me tailing Atholon for the next 5 miles.  Those 5 miles had us careening through the streets, myself ramming Atholon's car as often as possible, and Atholon hitting the brakes and letting me fly on by as often as possible.

It came down to the wire, and we thought there would be a 2nd lone racer victory for the night; but I finally got that last bash in... cops win.

Here is a shot Thundr took just before the bust, and one I took of the wreck when the bust occured:
Take that punk racer!!!

So close... yet so crashed... BUSTED!
It goes without saying that we had a good time... did I mention this game FREAKING ROCKS?!

I'm also happy to report that we had no connectivity issues as far as getting gamers into the lobby was concerned.  Jarin had one drop out of the game, but it was due to alt-tabbing out to capture the screenshot you see above... now we just need to get eight of us together at once instead of little 2's and 3's here-and-there.

Hopefully that'll happen soon...
GG!

29 December 2010

Gaming Week Continues with Burnout and Hot Pursuit

I happened to catch SpeedMonger on IM tonight, so we decided to test some of our connectivity issues.  

We have previously had problems with Split/Second and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.  Earlier in the week, when we had our problems with Hot Pursuit, one of my computers was able to connect, so I checked my router settings to see if I'd maybe been forwarding some ports to that computer for another game that might be interfering with ports Hot Pursuit uses.

I found that I'd been forwarding Titan Quest ports to that machine, so I assume it was the cause of our dilemma the other night.  I turned the port forwarding off for that game, and we commenced testing out Burnout Paradise first.

We connected fine and spent an hour free roaming and taking each other down, as well as trying out some of the events in the game.  It was a good time.  Some of the most memorable moments of the night were us trying to get the biggest drift in free mode inside a stunt quarry.  We were constantly attempting to take each other down to stop the drift, and SpeedMonger was successful in stopping me several times.

He helped me figure out the correct jump to take to get a hard to reach billboard in the quarry, and despite doubts that my piece-of-crap car (third one you earn) could make the length of the jump to reach the billboard, we were able to barely crash through it (and epic wreck afterward.)

SpeedMonger is only missing 8 billboards before he has them all, and one of the events we played brought us to the parking garage that has the launch ramp necessary to reach the billboard. After we figured out which ramp we had to take, we both started trying to make the jump onto a building's roof across the road, required to launch through the billboard in question.

Below is the the screenshot of the scene where the billboard is.  I was first to break it, so I pulled my car next to the fragments (bottom-right of the screenshot.)  The billboard was on the edge of the canopy roof you see on the building to the right of my car.  In the distance is SpeedMonger (JCA69 on EA games) attempting to make the jump to the roof.

SpeedMonger jumping for the roof to take out the same billboard
you see lying broken in front of me.

We tried Hot Pursuit next and were successful in connecting to each other!  Since there were only 2 of us, we ran 3 Interceptor courses: SpeedMonger racer and myself as cop first, then 2 more vice-versa.  We had a blast (literally - EMP anyone?!) and I look forward to getting SpeedMonger in on some games with more players in the future, hopefully.

If only I could transform into Bumble Bee and take out the cop car chasing me...

More Hot Pursuit Fun

DirtyDan, about to be busted by WhollyMindless and Freyar.
(Click to enlarge)
Besides the two cops closing in on him,
notice the helicopter (under the yellow health bar)
ahead ready to drop a spike strip on him!
Well, I have mixed feelings about tonight's Hot Pursuit action... the action was great, don't get me wrong, but getting the action started was a hassle again tonight.

We had a different mix of players tonight... three that we hadn't connected with before:

  • ThatOneGuy
  • DirtyDan
  • WhollyMindless
  • Freyar
  • Dragonflye
Like the other night when we couldn't get all of us connected in one game, and we found out that the mix of SpeedMonger and myself and/or Mando was the brutal combination... tonight it was Dragonflye and WhollyMindless.  *sigh*

I hope whatever network weirdness is going on with the game's seemingly "auto-resolving" will get worked out by Criterion/DICE or whoever was responsible for the networking code.  I'd rather do some port forwarding or something if it would let us all connect fine.  Hopefully we'll find a new patch or workaround soon so we can all play together.

Dragonflye gave up and dropped out for the night, and the other four of us were able to connect fine and race for a while.  We switched off for 2v2 Hot Pursuits, with the teams being DirtyDan and myself, vs. WhollyMindless and Freyar.  We took turns being cops and racers, swapping each round.

We had a ball and I was bummed when I had to bail for the night... but the picture you see above was of the final moments of the final pursuit.  I'd been taken out early in the game by WhollyMindless, who placed a roadblock in just the right spot to ram me into and totally sandwich me in, preventing me from backing out before the "busted" timer removed me from the game.

This left a lot of time for Wholly to catch up with Freyar and use the outnumbering advantage on DirtyDan.  I got to spectate the whole thing and witness the intense conclusion you see in the screenshot above.

One of the cops had called in a helicopter, while the two closed in on Dan.  You'll notice that Dan and Freyar were both in "Critical Damage" mode where either could have been removed from play with one more good hit to their vehicle.  Unfortunately for DirtyDan, he was the recipient of the final blow.

Once we got playing, the action was good, with rare little spots of lag.  Again, we hope we can figure what's causing some of us to not network nice together, so we can get a full game going and all enjoy this great game.

Thanks to WhollyMindless and Freyar for joining with us tonight.  We had a great time and hope they'll join us again for more FNG Hot Pursuit sessions... (TrackMania too!)

GG!

28 December 2010

Hot Pursuit - Quickly becoming a new FNG staple

(click to enlarge)
Check out the Mumble overlay near the top-right corner.
Yes, that's my THT1GUY license plate next to my alias!  :)
Well, Christmas night was a blast.  And while Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit isn't without glitches, it's a pretty dang nice experience for the most part.

We had six people show:
  • SpeedMonger
  • BomaJoe
  • DirtyDan
  • ThatOneGuy
  • d6Amefath3r
  • Mando
We were hoping we could get all of us into a game, but for some reason SpeedMonger has a problem connecting to ThatOneGuy, but only with certain computers from my home.  As mentioned before, my two kids joined us, and for some reason, d6Amefath3r could join SpeedMonger and BomaJoe and play a few rounds, but anytime Mando or myself joined with them, if SpeedMonger was in the game, we couldn't join, and vice versa.  d6Amefath3r was having problems with the game crashing to the desktop with no error randomly too.

So we split into two games and had a riot for a while.  SpeedMonger opted to jump out and the five left joined together for some fun mayhem.  We played a bunch of Hot Pursuit matches, taking turns being cops and racers. (Being a cop is harder than it sounds...)

Hot Pursuit involves cops trying to stop the racers during a race they're having along the Seacrest County roadways.  If the racers reach the finish, they win.  If the cops shutdown the race by taking the racers out, the cops win.  It was definitely interesting trying to stop the racers as a cop, and exciting trying to finish the race with the "po-po" on your tail.

After midnight, I excused my children to bed, and BomaJoe excused himself; which left DirtyD and I to our lonesome.

We decided to try another mode, Interceptor, which was a perfect choice because it's meant for one vs. one (Cop vs. Racer.)

This mode is interesting, in that it plays more like Need for Speed: Most Wanted.  The cop chases the racer until they are able to take the racer out; or the racer evades the cop until they can get out of its range and go through a 30-second "cool down" timer.  It's more of a free-roam mode where you're not locked into a given way to go on the track, like Hot Pursuit.

DirtyDan and I found each other pulling a lot of handbrake 180's, trying to evade each other, and have some really funny moments I wish I'd FRAPSed some screenshots or video of.  One of the funniest moves of the night landed me one of our first "escapes" in Interceptor mode.  

DirtyDan had about exhausted his supplies of helicopters, EMPs and Roadblocks (still had some spike strips),  on this track that was nighttime and raining.  On his last attempt at unleashing the fury of his EMP shockwave on me, I used the first of my "Jammers" to stop the shockwave and disable his radar.  I can't remember, but I might have dropped a spike strip myself at that point to help slow him down too.

I then immediately kicked in my Turbo to try for a speedy getaway. In the meantime, I'd wait for one radar jammer to finish, then immediately launch another; and continued this until I'd exhausted them all... which gave me enough time to evade DirtyDan far enough to get my cool down and complete it.

We shared some good laughs over that and other fun rounds of Interceptor.



Thundr received his copy of Hot Pursuit on Monday, so he and I hooked up for a little more mayhem (in more than one sense of the word.)

Thundr's system unfortunately fits the mold of the minimum requirements for the game; and they proved to act like sub-minimum requirements.  Thundr had some trouble getting connected initially, but it seemed to work itself out for 5-6 Interceptor rounds.  Then it seemed to kick him out of every game after that.

One aspect of the game I forgot to mention is the Autolog.  It keeps track of the top scores of your friends in the different events throughout the career modes.  While Thundr was making tweaks, I'd periodically go back to some of the career modes and run a round or two, and was able to successfully claim #1 spots on some events, or raise my standing on the "Speedwall."  That will add some extra fun to the game when we can't be online playing each other.



Anyway, if you don't have it... snag it.  If your computer won't handle it, upgrade it!  :)  I think this game's going to stay for a while, and we'd love to have you join us.

Hopefully we can work out whatever kinks we've experienced so far (or that EA/Criterion will and give us a patch) so we can all enjoy the game to its fullest potential.

Happy New Year!

17 December 2010

d6Amefath3r Takes #15 in Guardian of Light "Belly of the Beast" Speed Run

15th in the world; out of 7649 official times!
That's right... that's my son!  15th in the world for Speed Run record time on "Belly of the Beast" boss in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

Congrats!

If you haven't played it already, it's a fun Tomb Raider game with a different view angle than its predecessors.  It also allows co-op play both network and at the same machine.  It's got a nice $14.99 price point on Steam too!

11 December 2010

Split/Second Mayhem

Atholon, Thundr and myself played tonight in some grueling matches of Split/Second.

The starts of the races are hilarious, because whoever is in last place when Thundr is playing, gets shoved back by the other cars due to a game glitch that we believe has to do with load times and how fast/slow one connects to the race.  I'll be sure to capture the shove-back phenomenon with FRAPS next time we play, it's pretty funny; and gives everyone else a 10-20 second handicap, for the win!

We played several rounds of Survival, including an epic run where I was able to pass 10 trucks before a wreck, then another 11 during the end of the round and sudden death.

Keep those multipliers comin'!!!

After that we ran several races, racing nearly every track before it was time for us to start dropping off for the night.

We had a great time, and hope we can get more FNGers to join us so we can get a full game of humans and see what kind of explosive mayhem we can cause then.  Join us will you not?!

And don't forget to score Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit... we're planning some epic Cops and Racers fun on Christmas night!

04 December 2010

Mistral and Varsity - Two FNG TrackMania author faves; and MCM2 on Windows 7 a reality?

Thundr, Beuchety and I raced tonight on the Mistral World Selection server.  

DirtyDan, Thundr and I had played that server last week with about 50 other people and had a ball!  Even the server host (and excellent track author) raced with us that night.  We had so much fun we had to run it again this week.  The server had less than 10 people for most of the time, but they were cool racers and we didn't have any repeats of the tracks from last week.  All were fresh and fun.  


We snagged from TMX a Mistral track called "On the Edge" that we couldn't finish during our first round playing it, but are looking forward to playing it more with FNGers (Thundr spent a few while I was crafting this email and finished the track.)

When I looked through my browser tabs to see the other tracks I'd queued for download after our session (there were four of them) ... I discovered that two of them were from the same author; named Varsity.
We enjoyed Varsity's tracks so much tonight, that we downloaded the two we played, then found two more on TMX that were his highest awarded tracks.  I'm thinking we should put up our own server next Friday and run those (among others we've newly downloaded.  Some would make great tournament material.

So join us next Friday for some fast/frantic Mistral and Varsity tracks.

-------------------------

In other most excellent news.  I figured out a way to get Motocross Madness 2 to run for those that have Windows 7 machines that will only do Software Rasterization in MCM2.
The problem is, it requires an XP license.  :)

VMware has released a new version of their free Player software that does two very important things:
1. Supports DirectX 9.0c with a virtual 3D adapter.
2. Allows you to create your own Virtual Machines.

I tested on my i7 laptop (ATi Radeon 5870, 8GB RAM) by creating a Windows XP VM, installing MCM2 and played at 1920x1080 @ 30fps!
Note, there are still some visual anomalies in the menus, but we were all getting those in XP as well, so we'll suffer through them.

I would like other FNGers to please try this, if you have an XP license to spare on a VM and see if you get the same mileage out of this solution.  This may very well help us bring MCM2 back into FNG play!

01 December 2010

EA Sale Fail


Free shipping on digital downloads... how generous!


23 November 2010

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - the Next Big Team FNG Racing Game?!


We've all been waiting years for a good racing game where we could play the cops as well as the racers.  Now it seems we might have the perfect mix, with Criterion Games, makers of the excellent Burnout series creating the hottest new Need for Speed game, Hot Pursuit.

After seeing tons of screenshots and videos, I'm drooling and waiting to get my hands on the games, though my wife put a stop to game purchases until after Christmas.  So you know what I've got on my list!

BomaJoe and Dragonflye already got their hands on it... Ender has ordered it, other Team FNGers are contemplating... so I'm hoping come Christmas day we can fill a 10-player game and have a blast.  (Unfortunately all of Team FNG will be way ahead of me on it since they'll all have played it early.  hehe!)  No worries, I relish the challenge.

This Need for Speed provides both racers and cops with weapons to enhance the pursuits, including EMP shockwaves and the ability for the cops to call in helicopters.

There is the new Autolog feature that allows us to compete with each others' records and what not, like TrackMania offers.

Be warned though.  Their licensing touts 5 activations, like unto Split/Second.  The difference is... the key has to be tied to an EA account and only one activation can be logged in online at a time... meaning you can't get all 5 activations in an online game together.

Dragonflye informed me there is no LAN play, so you're pretty much one license per person that wants to play online.  The 5 activations WILL allow all 5 to be playing offline at the same time.

That said, it still looks to be a killer game, and I'm really looking forward to getting to play it.  BomaJoe says it drives like Burnout, but in the Need for Speed atmosphere.  Sounds like a winning combination to me.

So for now, go get your copy or add it to your Christmas list... I'm hoping we can all get online Christmas night and play some Hot Pursuit!

Hopefully it will find itself ranked up there with FNGers along side the Motocross Madness series and TrackMania series; and find us playing it for a long time to come.

13 October 2010

Split/Second DLC Exclusivity Fail

Chalk another point for bad video game business.  Today Black Rock Studios announced new DLC for Split/Second called "Survival at the Rock".

It looks to add a new track and new Survival Race mode.

On gaming news sites and the facebook page, it is mentioned that the DLC is only available to the Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms, and I saw no sign of PC availability on the official website or in-game.

Now, I took a screenshot from the trailer I saw, and you tell me, is this false advertising?!?!

Sure appears that PC is the FIRST platform listed...

I added the yellow circle to do a sanity check... Now tell me, and maybe things have changed and I need to return to school for a higher education, but is it not true that PC is the first platform listed underneath the phrase:
"SURVIVAL AT THE ROCK AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD OCT. 12th"?


So where is it?!  Why, on 13 October 2010 do I not have access to this, nor is it mentioned anywhere else, except for Xbox 360 and PS3?

I'm so tired of companies pulling this B.S. I could scream... If you're not going to fully support a platform for the entire game's lifecycle... DON'T FREAKING RELEASE ON IT TO BEGIN WITH!!!


And seriously, if you're not going to release ridiculous DLC for a given platform... DON'T FREAKING LIST IT AS ONE OF THE AVAILABLE PLATFORMS!!!


No GG on this one guys; as PC Gamers once again get the shaft... unless someone can correct the error of my ways and link us somewhere that we PC gamers can go acquire said content.  If someone can, I'd be very appreciative.

25 September 2010

Portal 2 Release Date Announced

It's official (for now)...



Steam has Portal 2 on their store, with a release date of 09 February 2011!
There is no option to pre-purchase yet; but they do have some really sweet videos and screenshots.

Valve also has an official Portal 2 website with some awesome long and high-quality videos and wallpapers to make you drool while you wait in anticipation for this seemingly-Valentine's Day release (something to do with the Weighted Companion Cube and the hearts on its sides?!)

The extended co-op video, Portal 2: Cooperative Testing Initiative, has me stoked.  I'm very excited to see where they go with that campaign.  It appears one bot gets the blue/orange portals and the other gets red/yellow portals.

Other extended videos, like Meet Wheatley, show the innards of Aperture Labs and all the mass-manufacturing GLaDOS is doing.  The lighting looks amazing and the full ambient creepy atmosphere looks more gorgeous than ever.

I can't wait to see it for real.  Look at me still talking when there's science to do...

31 July 2010

Does Starcraft 2 Contain a Diablo 3 Easter Egg?

I was playing the Starcraft 2 single player campaign and was exploring "The Devil's Playground" mission.  In the bottom-right hand corner of the map, I saw what looks like a Diablo III easter egg.  You can decide for yourself.

Potential Diablo III Easter Egg?
(click to enlarge)

I'm thinking so...

It's cool that Blizzard does fun things with their games that reward players for expanding their horizons and checking out all the details of their maps.  Can't wait to see what other fun things we'll encounter.  I've probably already missed some, so now I'll have to go back and play the prior missions again.  :)

Now, I spent some time trying to figure out how to get some Reavers over to the sucker and try to take it on; but alas, there was a big rock in the way on the one path they might have been able to rocket jump over to him.  I also tried landing a Command Center on it, but of course it wouldn't land.

If you've had better luck getting some Terran units over there, please let us know!

11 July 2010

"Epic" Win for GEEX!

Epic Games signed on as a sponsor for GEEX 2010!
More details can be found at the GEEX website.

I'm stoked to see big names like Epic, Intel, Nvidia appearing at our event; and look forward to seeing what they bring to the expo.

I have to do a shout out to Geekbox Computers who has been busting butt to sponsor the LAN Party and some of the tournament prizes.

We hope the show will be a smash hit this year and even more fun than GEEX 2008 was.  Team FNG had a riot at the first GEEX, and we'll looking forward to some serious good times at this one.

We'll see you all there...

02 July 2010

GEEX 2010: TrackMania Tournament Dedicated Server is Live!


The Team FNG practice server for the GEEX 2010 TrackMania United Forever tournament is officially live, and will remain so until GEEX is over.

(up until 16 July 2010)

Mind you, it's still a test-bed for the tournament tracker app I'm writing to keep score during the GEEX tournament.  This won't affect your gameplay, except for seeing scoring at the end of each race (and being able to type /rank at any time to see your current tournament standings.)  Note that this will only work when I have the tracker app running... which will only be when I have time to work on it. 

We may or may not run some mock tournament runs with the app if I have time to do so; but most of the time when you see it running, I'll be making tweaks and fixing defects with it, so you'll have to bear with me when the scoring keeps resetting, etc.

Tonight, I'll be making the scoring reports show the players' aliases instead of their logins and working on a couple other things.

Feel free to practice on the server whenever you wish.  If it's not up, come back here and leave a comment so I can be notified about the outage.  I'll get it fixed as soon as I can.

I look forward to seeing you all at GEEX and spending some time racing with you before the tournament.
Register for the GEEX LAN Party
Register for the GEEX TrackMania United Forever Tournament

I'll hopefully be getting the in-game news submitted this weekend.

So go practice away and let's make this a spectacular tournament!

29 June 2010

Win a Copy of TrackMania United Forever!

Last night I had the opportunity of making an appearance on the GEEX podcast, to talk about the upcoming TrackMania United Forever tournament.

We decided to give away two copies of the game.

To get yours, see the GEEX news entry, go watch some videos, and leave your impressions about the game on the site.

So don't delay... go enter for your chance to win, then register for the GEEX LAN Party and TrackMania tournament!

GG

26 June 2010

Company of Heroes Soundtracks - Free on Steam Today!

Go to the Company of Heroes - Complete Pack page on Steam to download the following Soundtracks free:
  • Company of Heroes: All Heroes Rise
  • Company of Heroes: Songs from the Front
Thanks Steam and THQ for making these available!

While you're at it (and only today) -- get the complete pack for $24.99 (normally $49.99)

GEEX 2010 TrackMania Tournament App Test a Success!

Last night was a huge success. I had to shut the server down and change my max players to 16, which we filled for a good portion of the night. I wonder if I could have kicked it up to 20 or 24, but I think my crappy upload speed would've finally been worked over with that and TeamSpeak going with 8 people in it. :)

Regardless, it was a good stress test for the app and I learned a lot and fixed a lot with it.

Here's what I fixed:
  • Typing /rank in the chat at any point will give you your tournament standing (place and points) along with the person ahead of you (if applicable) and the person behind you (if applicable)
  • The podium screen now only shows the top 3 standings to everyone; then shows your current standing (same as typing /rank) if you're below third place.
  • My "debug" chatter that shows up in the app's UI was getting taxed again with 16 people in it... started getting behind after about 10 races or so, to the point it didn't report the scores one track.

    I've disabled the chatter and only have the app reporting error messages, which should make it handle many more people (we'll have to see about hooking up to another popular server out there that can host 50 people or more.)
Things I still need to fix before GEEX:
  • Showing nicknames instead of login names on the Standings and Rank reporting.
  • Any other stress-related issues we might encounter in future testing.
I had a ball last night and I hope the rest of you did to. We had people from all over the world join, including some from Austria and some from France... and the one from Austria we asked if he had connection issues. He reported a smooth connection, and there was much rejoicing.  A few of the racers were very high-ranked, including my old friend Scrappy who is in the Top 2500 in the world, and a couple others that were in the Top 25,000 in the world... which meant the times we were fortunate enough to beat them in a race, we earned some sweet multiplayer ladder points.  Good challenge.  Good times.

I'm hoping I can sneak some time before next Friday to run more tests, so you FNGers may be getting more invites to help. I appreciate all your support and hope this will help make the TrackMania tournament at GEEX more fun.

My apologies if any of you jumped in to find me in-game last night... I didn't actually log in to the game and start playing until way late... the first part of the night I was solely working on the app and the dedicated server... chatting with those in the server via ServerMania.  If I missed you, I'm sorry.  Catch us next time!

GG!

17 June 2010

GEEX LAN Party and Tournament Registration is Live


GEEX Registration is live!

To participate in the TrackMania United Forever Tournament, you will need to register for both the LAN Party and the TrackMania Tournament (separate registrations.)
  1. Register for the LAN Party
  2. Register for the TrackMania Tournament
  3. Get the Track Pack and start practicing!
If you have any questions let me know... most details can be gleaned from the Tournament details page and my blog entry.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all there. Please help spread the word about GEEX!

16 June 2010

Official GEEX 2010 TrackMania United Forever Tournament Track Pack Announced

Well, I finally got the track pack compiled... and just in time to give everyone a month of practice before the TrackMania United Forever tournament at GEEX 2010.

Download the track pack now! (~34MB)
It is a self-extracting executable that needs to be extracted to the base TrackMania folder under the Windows user folder.

Examples (replace "username" with your own user's name):
Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\TrackMania

Vista and Windows 7:
C:\Users\username\Documents\TrackMania

The pack will extract itself to all the appropriate places, and includes most mods/images/sounds/etc required to play the included tracks. Some images are missing but will be downloaded quickly from locators the first time you play the track. Players are encouraged to practice before the tournament to ensure all required data is on your computer prior to the competition.

The tracks are comprised of (but will not necessarily be raced in this order at GEEX):
PRELIMS:
AntiBoost (Bay)
Aretmis' Arrow I (Stadium)
Celt!c Sp!r!t (Rally)
Coastal Trip (Coast)
Dream Coast (Coast)
Dutch Delight (Stadium)
Eye in the Sky (Desert)
[GR] Poco Loco (Bay)
[GR] Night Hawk (Stadium)
Kingdom of Tricks v.1.00 (Rally)
Mad w0rLd (Island)
Remember Off Road? (Stadium)
Scotts Bluff (Desert)
Snow Park (Snow)
Stuntman Mountains (Snow)
Zen Island (Island)

FINALS:
[ATP]Community Track II (Snow)
Baysilisk (Bay)
Creative (Desert)
Deal Breaker (Stadium)
Etherlight (Island)
FlowCoastUnited (Coast)
Lunacy (Rally)

Details about the tournament and registration for the GEEX 2010 LAN Party and TrackMania Tournament will be available soon.

This is a bold experiment for TrackMania tournaments.  I decided I wanted to make a tournament that represents all types of tracks the community creates; testing all TrackMania skills, not just tech.

I even included a multi-path track that purposely set shortcuts... I figure the game has its own tracking mechanism for a successful lap: make it through all checkpoints and cross the finish line.  How you accomplish those goals is up to you... if you find a shortcut and can successfully exploit it, more power to you!

That said, spectating is also allowed, for those competitors that may not have found the shortcuts themselves, but notice that another player has a significantly better time.  This, of course, jeopardizes their own time to finish the track with a similar time, but if they can discover the shortcut and still execute it in time, the player will still have a shot at taking the podium.

Like I said, bold experiment.  But most I've spoken with about it when asking their opinions have liked the ideas, so we'll see how it goes.  I'm really excited for this tournament and hope it will be enjoyable for all.

Team FNG will be putting up a GEEX practice server some of the time over the weeks leading up to GEEX, but know that it will be in "experimental" mode, as I'm still developing the app that will track the tournament stats from the dedicated server at the event... and thus it needs a testing ground.  Feel free to join this server when you see it up and help me test the app when I'm around to work on it.

Please feel free to leave comments both before and after GEEX and let us know how you liked the event; especially the TrackMania United Forever tournament!

GG

04 June 2010

EVGA YouTube Video Shows Off PhysX Capabilities

This cool video, presented by evga.com shows off some really cool effects PhysX offers; in a lot of popular games like Mirror's Edge, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Cryostatis.

Enjoy.


12 May 2010

Download Portal FREE! (Until 24 May 2010)

(Thanks Bomajoe for this fantastic find...)

You heard right, gamers... Portal is FREE until 24 May 2010.  If you haven't played it yet, you have no excuse anymore.  Quit reading and download immediately. Time is running out.

Kudos to Valve for this incredible game; and more kudos for offering it free for a limited time.

Can't wait for Portal 2!

05 May 2010

Freakin' Awesome Motocross Madness 2 Video

Remember when games used to ROCK?!  Remember when they allowed LAN play and didn't require an always on connection?  Remember when they were full of magic and wonder?

Well, check out this nostalgic video of my favorite game of all time... Motocross Madness 2.  Fun music and killer use of the in-game camera.

I thought I had some mad stunt skills, but the riders in this put me to shame.  FNGers will love seeing our staple 360's in here too.  Good times!!!



Please, please, PLEASE, Rainbow... give us the source code so we can make it work for everyone in Windows Vista and 7!!!  We want to keep playing...


Click the image above to see full-size

Thanks for all the good times for the past 10 years, Rainbow Studios, and the entire Motocross Madness community.

29 March 2010

LANMania - FNG Turkey Bowl Rematch Results - March 2010 LAN Party

I know the gamers that attended the LAN Party are dying to know the results of the TrackMania tournament we held, since my app stopped correctly keeping track after 9 of the 15 tracks were played; so I'll get to the Final Standings first, then I'll talk about how the LAN Party went.

Final Standings: FNG Turkey Bowl 2009 Rematch
26 March 2010 - FNG LAN Party

GamerFinal Score
FNG_ThatOneGuy300
bomajoe228
FNG_d6Amefath3r179
FNG_DirtyDan148
FNG_Thundr145
FNG_Josh88
ricowan54
FNG_beuchety52
FNG_Mandi38
MockObject18

Here are some pics of the event (Names of players are left-to-right):


FNG_Thundr
FNG_Mandi
MockObject


FNG_Mandi
MockObject
FNG_DirtyDan


FNG_DirtyDan
FNG_KimPossible


FNG_ThatOneGuy
FNG_d6Amefath3r


FNG_d6Amefath3r
ricowan


FNG_d6Amefath3r
ricowan
FNG_beuchety


bomajoe and FNG_Josh couldn't make the party, so they joined our tournament online.

LAN Party Recap:
The party started at 6:30pm, with gamers trickling in for the next hour or so.  I was stoked as I'd been able to spend about 4 hours or so prepping an app that would communicate with the TrackMania dedicated server in hopes of having an automated way of tracking tournament stats.  I programmed the tracker app to report the current tournament stats back into the game (through the in-game chat) at the end of each race.  This would be our first test-run, to find bugs so I could work them out and perhaps use it at GEEX this year during their TrackMania tournament.

We ordered pizza at 8:00 and were chowing down at 8:30pm.  Many thanks to Papa Johns that night for some excellently fresh pizza; especially the pepperoni and jalapeno.  (They were probably thanking us as well, since we placed two orders with them that night!)

9:00pm hit and it was time for the Turkey Bowl 2009 rematch tournament.  We made sure we had bomajoe and FNG_Josh in the server with us... the next track loaded, I started the tracker app, and we were off-to-the-races.

There were many jeers and cheers as we all met with our successes and failures during each round.  There were also many laughs shared, especially when my son, FNG_d6Amefath3r stumbled on the pronunciation of bomajoe's name (bow-muh-joe)... he laughed and said, "What?!  It sounds like Barack Obama-Joe!!!"  I'm pretty sure my car slammed into a wall and flipped off the track at that moment.  It was a good thing we were in Time Attack mode instead of Rounds...  We laughed a long time, and I'm pretty sure Joe has a new nickname that will stick for a while.

More humor flew our way with our FNG LAN Party new-comer, MockObject.  He was certainly living up to his name when we'd hear groans about how bad he thought he sucked at the game, how "unpossible" it was to finish some of the tracks and how much fun it was to finally discover what the Finish gate looks like.

After the 9th track, my app got WAY behind on writing out the XML responses from the TrackMania server (my bad for not turning those off before launching the app... since we didn't really need them.)  It got so back-logged, that it took another 30 minutes after the tournament ended for the app to finally get everything written out so I could go copy the XML and later analyze it so I could find out the final scores.  Looks like I have some work to do on the tracker, yet... (Did I mention I only got 4 hours to invest in it before the party?!)  :)  Incidentally, the night before the party, I found a cool TrackMania Server Plugin System that I may be able to use to put an in-game UI piece in that will have the tourney stats constantly up... we're discussing ideas about that currently... we'll see how it goes.
A good time was had by all; with the potential exception of ricowan and MockObject who might have a permanent hatred for me for putting him through the ringer with our brutal choice of tracks. All I can say is that I tried to hook up with you both early enough to give you some time to practice before you came. ;)

Seriously though, I do hope everyone had a good time... I know I did.  It's always a great time to get good friends together for some LAN gaming.  I certainly hope the game developers out there don't seriously switch their models to this "always-connected" BS we keep hearing about in the latest games.  I want to keep LAN gaming around for a lot longer, without the fear of us all getting dumped out of our games when my internect connection decides to hiccup.

We finished the party off by playing some other potential GEEX tournament tracks, and then revisiting some old-school TrackMania Nations maps... some of the ones that made FNG fall in love with the game when we first discovered it.

This LAN party was good for helping me solidify ideas for the TrackMania tournament coming up at GEEX in July.  I hope to have the track pack compiled and available online in April, as well as the tournament rules and sign-up available on the GEEX site soon.  (I'm still looking for sponsors for prizes so we won't have to charge a tournament fee... so if you know of anyone, please get in touch with me!)

I hope to see you all at GEEX for the TrackMania tournament in July!

GG

PS: All that attended, please take some time to leave your thoughts about the party here on the blog!  Much appreciated.

25 March 2010

C&C 4 DRM gets to EA blogger Jeff Green

As I was browsing the tech sites tonight, I came across an article on MaximumPC, and found that Ars Technica had also caught the story. On March 20th, EA blogger Jeff Green posted to Twitter blog Greenspeak of his frustrations with C&C's DRM and his attempts to play single player with his DSL connection.

"Booted twice--and progress lost--on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions.

Yeah, Steam's ability to have off-line play is the clear, better model when talking about SP games.

However, C&C4 experiments w/what a "single-player game" is--given it's constantly uploading progress/stats for unlocks. It's complicated.

I think if we think of C&C4 as an "online-only" game--which it basically is--then maybe we'd adjust our expectations accordingly.

Welp. I've tried to be open-minded. But my 'net connection is finicky--and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable.

The story is fun, the gameplay is interesting and different at least--but if you suffer from shaky/unreliable DSL--you've been warned."

I figured I'd also include his next couple posts, as they are relevant to the DRM bloat as well.

"LOL-wow. My frustration w/C&C4's online scheme led me to Dawn of War 2. With THIS game, I'm forced to log into GFW Live just to play SP.

F' all this noise. I'm going back to Civ 4. A singleplayer strategy game that--zounds!--I can actually play offline."

While I will join in with Nathan Grayson (MaximumPC) in thanking an EA employee for some honesty and not hiding the problems from the public, isn't it sad when EA's own employees realize that the DRM scheme doesn't work?

I know several people have tried to say that EA's "solution" is not DRM, it's just a way of experience for single and multiplayer to build up together. I'm sorry, but it is DRM. It requires a constant connection, rather than just updating at the completion of a mission or saving the experience locally on the PC (even if it is saved locally for later update when you connect to a multiplayer game). If it tells a person when or how they can play the game, it is DRM.

So, thank you Jeff Green for your honesty! Hopefully EA doesn't come down on you for it. And please, EA, Ubisoft, and any other publisher thinking of requiring persistent internet connections for SINGLE player games, stop it!

20 March 2010

How to Find Your TrackMania United Player Key on the Steam Version

Look for the InstallKey=****-****-****-****-*** value in the Nadeo.ini file located in your Steam install folder for TrackMania United.

The stars will be alpha-numeric characters (letters are capitalized/upper-case)


The default installation paths are:
32-bit Windows
C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\trackmania united\

64-bit Windows
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\trackmania united\

16 March 2010

Command & Conquer 4 - Persistent Internet Connection Required

Just when we thought one of the big publishers was finally listening to their customers...

Well, PC Gamers, put another nail in the Publishers-think-you're-idiots-and-will-believe-their-bullcrap-spin-on-persistent-internet-connection-DRM coffin.  "Oh you'll sooooooooo love the things we're doing with OUR game that you won't care about the SMALL inconvenience of being forced to have a persistent connection to play."

Blah blah blah, we've heard it all before from Blizzard and Ubisoft, and now EA has officially rejoined the DRM freaks ranks again with their C&C4 title released today.


I love the spin they're trying to put on it this time as well... in a quote from an Ars Technica article:
"... as a nice side effect, since C&C4 requires players to be online all the time in order to prevent cheating, we'll be shipping without any form of DRM."

Sure enough, Steam lists it without notice of DRM in the right-column where they usually mention it.  My question is, where on Earth does anyone get off passing off a required persistent internet connection as NOT being a form of DRM?

I'm starting to lose my faith in gamers, since we are responsible for this madness continuing and persistently getting worse in our lives.  Until we put an end to it by stopping the consumption of said defiled games, we will continue to see a decrease in our liberty to use purchased content as we please.  Freak, it won't be long before these software companies start telling you when you can use your computer for non-gaming related activities.

If we don't take a stand together and do it now... this will be our lot in life for the rest of our gaming lives.  And don't give me your "I don't care about being forced to have an internet connection all the time... My computer is always connected, so I'm good..." crap either.  It's a principle people.  The principle of losing your liberty.

The principal of giving up your freedom to use something you purchased because you "have to have the game" or you don't feel like a hard-core gamer.  I've got news for you folks... having the game first doesn't make you any more of a hard-core gamer than the next guy... I promise you'll live for a few more weeks while we all put our foot (and our wallet) down and let these companies know we're not going to take their crap anymore.

And if you really can't pull yourself away enough to stand up for what is right... then go enjoy your game as a slave to the man... and I'll just finish my career as a gamer with what little time I have left with the games that I have freedom to play how/when/where I want.

It's too bad... there are a lot of good creative developers and game creators out there.  It's a shame these greedy publishers are ruining it for all of us.

So, to the pirates and hackers/crackers out there... Enjoy your short challenge of beating the system this time, and enjoy your stolen copies of the game; whilst the rest of us suffer for our honesty/integrity... I'll be waiting for the articles soon where people who did buy the game don't get to play because the EA servers are down, just like the Ubisoft ones after Assassin's Creed 2 release.

[sarcasm]Good Game[/sarcasm]

13 March 2010

Bomajoe, Rally A4 is almost mine!!!

It's in my grasp... oh yes, it's in my grasp.

07 March 2010

Ubisoft's DRM fails again

Well, I hate to overshadow the amazing work Valve has done with the Portal 2 ARG and announcement (wtg Valve!), especially with a new post about DRM, but here goes.

Ubisoft's DRM servers have been down for Europe today. That's right, people in Europe have been unable to play Ubisoft's recently released games because Ubisoft's servers aren't working. According to reports from the escapist, at about 8am GMT (1 am MST) customers began posting in the Assassin's Creed 2 forums that they were unable to play their games because they couldn't access the authentification servers. As of 11:30am MST the issue still hadn't been resolved, and there was a post from an Ubisoft employee.

"I don't have any clear information on what the issue is ... but clearly the extended downtime and lengthy login issues are unacceptable, particularly as I've been told these servers are constantly monitored," said 'Ubi.Vigil', adding, "I'll do what I can to get more information on what the issue is here first thing tomorrow and push for a resolution and assurance this won't happen in the future."

This is one of the things MANY potential customers, as well as blogs/reviewers/tech sites were worried about. There are so many potential issues with this DRM. If Ubisoft's servers don't work right (even though Ubisoft was so excited about how great their servers were going to be) you don't have access to your game - even a single player one. If your connection is flaky, you could lose your access to your game. If their servers are shut down, they have promised they'd like to release a patch to remove the authentication. But what if they don't have the resources at the time to devote to it? Or what if they just decide it isn't worth their time? I mean, EA didn't plan on taking so many of it's games offline 2-3 years after they were released, did they?

I hope that Ubisoft will see reason. I hope.

05 March 2010

Confirmed Co-Op in Portal 2!!!

See the GameInformer article...
(Thanks to portalwiki.net for the picture)

Also, don't forget to keep track of GameInformer's bi-daily updates all throughout March...
GameInformer's Portal 2 Hub

"This was a triumph..."
   - GLaDOS

Portal 2 Magazine Cover Leaked

GameInformer's magazine cover with Portal 2 pics has been leaked, and a cool Kotaku article titled "An Insider's Guide to Portal 2" shows it and discusses some of the things being discovered about the highly anticipated game.

The cover is awesome... Go check it out!

Portal 2 Announced!!!

It's official!!!
This morning, Valve officially announced Portal 2 will be coming this holiday season.

See the official Steam annoucement.  (There's not much there yet, but I'm excited to see more over the coming months.)

Another Portal Update Today?


Valve has been messing with our minds, and making us return to thinking with Portals!  And it's been a fun ride to start March out... here's what's going on:

01 March 2010 - Portal Update Released;
"Changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations"

... which spawned this viral thread on the Steam Forums that, as of this morning has 656 pages of replies, and is constantly growing ...

It also brought a new achievement called "Transmission Received" that has us all replaying the game, frantically looking for radios with red lights on them, playing "Still Alive".  When radios are found, the player must run around the level with it until they find a point where the radio goes to static.  As they find the right spot where it can "tune-in", the radio light turns green and different sounds are heard (morse code, etc.)

Most levels have one radio, two to three of them have multiple radios.  Some of them are very cleverly placed and the hunt is an enjoyable way to replay the game.

Even more interesting... the audio files that were added with this update contained embedded images that people have been extracting and attempting to decipher.

Needless to say, the community is buzzing around the clock trying to solve the mysteries.  And we're all anticipating an announcement soon of either a sequel, a new episode (or new version) of Half-Life, or both!

Valve has an Aperture Science BBS up that people have been dialing in and finding more vague and bizarre clues.

Two days later...
03 March 2010 - Portal Update Released:
"Added valuable asset retrieval"

This update added an extra 5-10 seconds to the ending of the game... which sparked more conversation and theories about what is going on.

Today is another two days later... will get get another update through Steam which will bring us any closer to knowing what's going on and/or give us more reason to continue replaying the fantastic game that is Portal?

Here's to hopin'...

One thing I have to say, is a HUGE kudos to Valve for doing something so fun in the PC gaming community (again - since they had similar action before Portal was originally released.)  As of late, it seems the hype around new killer game announcements is always quickly stifled by rantings and ravings (including my own) about crappy DRM and DLC schemes that other big publishers seem to be so into lately.  Thanks, Valve for giving us something fun to chase instead.  It's an incredibly nice diversion, and breathing new life into the PC gaming community.

I can't wait to find out what's going on.

If you haven't checked out the updates yet, and you're a Portal fan, you owe it to yourself to snag the updates and go replay Portal.

"There was even going to be a party for you. A big party, that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend, the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn't come either, because you don't have any other friends, because of how unlikable you are. It says so right here in your personnel file: "Unlikable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikable loner, whose passing shall not be mourned." Shall NOT be mourned. That's exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted, so that's funny, too."
    -GLaDOS

04 March 2010

Ubisoft's "Online Services Platform" Cracked in Under 24-Hours

While following the rant thread I created on the TrackMania forums, someone posted this gem of an article from InfoAddict today about how Ubisoft's new DRM was cracked in under 24 hours!!!

Most game publishers have been changing the video game scene's focus as of late from the actual game's content, to the "bonus game" on-top-of-the-real-game called DRM.  This "bonus game" is intended to promote hacking/cracking of the game, giving pirates/crackers the challenge of seeing if they can hack this new one faster than the last one.  And they're very good at it, good enough that it seems to be pleasing the publishers enough to continue dumping countless resources into providing said "bonus games" with all major releases of their new games.  It's not about the real game's content anymore, it's about the pirates...  And they continue to win.

When will enough be enough?  When will companies finally realize that if they re-channeled the DRM resources (development time, licensing money, etc.) to the actual content of the real game, they may be able to make a higher quality game at a fraction of the cost and time taken to release said game?!

Imagine that... they might actually be able to lower the price of the game some, which would make it even more alluring for customers that actually pay for their products and not leave them high and dry with games that don't work, while the pirates who never plan on paying enjoy their game problem free, because there aren't any draconian DRM systems in place anymore that hamper their experience (and sometimes violate their computers.)

Will we see another class action lawsuit against Ubisoft this time around, like we did with Starforce back in the day?  Couple those costs with the costs it takes to implement the crap to begin with... and add the costs to support the paying customers riddled with problems after it's released, and I'm thinking net loss for everyone, publishers, developers and paying customers alike.

Wake up people, and STOP THE MADNESS!

Go read the InfoAddict article, and pay close attention to LordCancer's comment at 03 03, 2010 04:03 that brings up a Gun Control analogy.  Bob Barker's comment at 03 03, 2010 06:45 is good as well...

I'm still hopeful that Ubisoft will pull-their-heads-out before the release of TrackMania 2 and rid themselves and we gamers of this garbage. 

Alas, my hopes have been semi-shot-down some, thanks to a Voodoo Extreme article entitled "Ubisoft: More Sequels, More Often" that states: "TrackMania 2 for PC will feature innovative content purchasing options."  They'd better be talking about the existing copper system from TrackMania United Forever, because if they're talking about real money for content, the TM community will be angered.

Anyway, all who know me know I'm the last to advocate piracy and cracking, but I'm glad this happened, in hopes that these companies will wake up and realize they're only hurting their paying customers... Oh, and keeping one gaming community alive and thriving... those that relish the challenge of a new DRM system to break.

23 February 2010

EA Download Old Command & Conquer Versions Free and Legal!

Good news for RTS fans!

Electronic Arts (EA), in celebration of the up-and-coming Command & Conquer 4, has decided to allow PC gamers to download the following, free and legal from commandandconquer.com:
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun + Firestorm
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Just click the commandandconquer.com link above to re-live some of the classics.

I hope they're DRM free, but I haven't had the chance to confirm at the time of this writing. If you download and try them, please return and post a comment to let us know if they have DRM or not.

Be sure to look at the installation instructions for each, as there seems to be a little trickery involved in getting them working.

11 February 2010

How to run TrackMania in SLI mode on NVIDIA cards that support it!

I finally figured out a way to get my GeForce 9800GX2 to run TrackMania in SLI mode without all the weird anomalies we've all experienced in an SLI configuration with SLI enabled.

See my blog post on how to Run TrackMania in NVIDIA SLI mode on my Tech Support blog for step-by-step instructions.

Here's the screenshot of the magical setting that worked for me:

Leave feedback there letting us know if you got it to work or not!

27 January 2010

Bomajoe Scores Highest Single Player TrackMania Score in Team FNG


Bomajoe has been hard at work dethroning me from any and all top spots I hold for our FNG group in TrackMania.

To put the icing on the cake, he nailed a 27,000+ score on Rally A4. He's currently 60th in the World on that track and only 0.17 seconds behind the #1. GG!

My highest has been a 22,000+ on Island C2, followed by DirtyDan with 17,000+ ... so kudos to Joe for having the highest solo track score in Team FNG... the gauntlet has been thrown, who will top it?

Looks like our work is cut out for us...

TrackMania 2 to be Doomed by Ubisoft's "Online Services Platform"?!?!

Ubisoft is quickly becoming the bane of my existence. I hate to say it, but they are.

It's too bad really, because they have some fantastic games that I've really enjoyed playing. But as most of you know, I've been boycotting them for about a year now over their stupid decision to start releasing continuing content DLC to exclusive platforms.

Today I find out they are releasing an "online services platform", a seemingly Steam wannabe which they spin as sounding good in the fact that your personal saved games will now be saved "in the cloud" so you can install and play your same games on multiple machines. All future Ubisoft games will be distributed to PC through this mechanism.

Unfortunately, they also decided they need to continually penalize paying customers by requiring us to be connected to the internet constantly in order to play the games we pay for...

Gone are the days of deciding how and when you can play a game that you purchase... but don't worry, the gods of Ubisoft will dictate that for you. Epic Fail.

I'm most upset about this because it will affect the game I'm anticipating most right now... TrackMania 2.

See the discussion I started on the TrackMania Forum and feel free to sound-off here and/or there... Then start speaking with your wallet, and cease buying Ubisoft games until they stop the madness and quit penalizing us for supporting their efforts. Send the message loud and clear that we'll support them when they return to letting us play our purchased games when/how we like... not on their terms.

08 January 2010

TrackMania United DVD - $4.99 from iNetVideo

Yes, I'm serious... better get them fast, cause they won't last long!

If you're looking to get it new, or to obtain extra multiplayer keys for your kids, friends, etc. now is the time!

Buy TrackMania United DVD from iNetVideo while supplies last!

GG

Games on Amazon