FNG Logo created by Nick Serr

30 December 2008

Auditorum - Excellent Musical Online Single-Player Game

If you haven't heard of Auditorium, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

It's a puzzle game involving music and some physics controls that change the way a "stream" of audio is guided.

The goal is to fill all the "audio levels" on the screen, using the controls offered you. The controls have a diameter of area they offer for their influence to take effect. This diameter can be expanded and contracted, and it is up to you to experiment and discover what will work to accomplish the goal.
As the site states, "There are no right or wrong answers; there are many ways to solve every puzzle."
The game rocks; I'll probably be making a donation after the new year. Good work to the Team putting Auditorium together!

29 December 2008

Steam's Annual Holiday Sale - TrackMania United Forever at $19.99 until 02 January 2009!

Steam is having its Annual Holiday Sale until 02 Januray 2009.

They've slashed prices on all kinds of gaming goodness, including:

Dang, I need to become an affiliate for Steam or something... get some kickback from the sales. :) Don't miss the sale... especially for those that haven't tried TrackMania United Forever yet... you don't know what you're missing!

EA Offers Newest Games on Steam (WITHOUT SecuROM; pending confirmation)

Thundr saw the following announcement 20 December 2008 after we all finished playing TrackMania United Forever for FNG:

EA games now on Steam

This of course came as a pleasant surprise, as long as we know the games come without the SecuROM that has caused many in the gaming community to boycott EA by not purchasing their games. Ars Technica published an article about it that stated: "The product pages for each game reveal that all traces of the much-loathed SecuROM have been eradicated."

Grand Theft Auto IV on Steam contains SecuROM
This puzzled me, as I saw nothing on the product pages that indicate anything for/against SecuROM being eradicated. After further investigation, which is why I'm so late posting about this, I found a game on Steam's product pages that DOES mention third-party DRM... Grand Theft Auto IV.

Notice the "3rd-party DRM:" section in the information just above the rating, that mentions SecuROM and Unlimited machine activations.

Looking at the Spore product page on Steam, we see that it lacks a section like that. I'm assuming this is what Ars Technica meant by showing that "... the much-loathed SecuROM have been eradicated."

It has yet to be confirmed that this is true and not just an oversight by Steam to mention it on the product pages yet... but I looked at several EA product pages on Steam, including Mirror's Edge; which will be my first EA purchase on Steam if the DRM is truly gone. None of the pages included information mentioning 3rd-party DRM like the GTA-4 page did.

I trust EA did the right thing here. I sure hope none of us are disappointed.

Please comment here if you've downloaded any of the EA games on Steam and can confirm that they are, in fact, without the nasty SecuROM we all hate so passionately.

Kudos to EA if they've truly seen the light. Myself and several others I know will go back to purchasing multiple EA offerings on Steam to get sans-DRM licenses that we won't have to worry if we'll be able to play or not.

Game on!

16 December 2008

The War Against DRM - How the Prince of Persia is Fighting For Right

Digital Rights Management - In the software development community, it started as a way to slow down pirates in hopes that it would frustrate them and turn them into paying customers.

Like radar jammers and radar detectors, however, the DRM game is just another game of leap-frog. A DRM developer comes up with a newer, shinier, fancy-pants version that will "sure-fire show those blasted pirates this time!!!"; only to be disappointed when within days they've already cracked through and had their way with it.

So the game developers spend who knows how much in time and resources either developing their own or integrating with a licensed one; in hopes that this is the time that no one will pirate their game.

The problem is, there seems to be a misguided notion that DRM acts like locks on a car-door... keeping the honest, honest. I certainly don't believe this is the case. The pirates are already pirates; and most of them are likely to always remain pirates... until their conscience kicks in and they decide to turn around. Likewise, paying customers believe in the game developers and want to reward them for providing them with kick-butt entertainment.

That is, until it gets so freaking hard to install/play a game that it's not worth their hard earned money anymore.

See, it was one thing to start implementing CD-keys and disc authorization... those posed some annoying traits, but were manageable and easy to get passed. But when today, we see things like "You can only install 3 times before you have go on a wild-goose-chase to try to find someone from our support so we can play judge and jury to decide if you're worthy of more activations... and, oh, by the way, did I mention that if you're not connected to the internet, you can't play?!" I'm seeing it drive those who were happy to be paying customers running to the pirates to get a working version of the game that is much more worth their time because they can get it to work on their machines without the mayhem that is today's DRM.

The industry has seen a shift... but I think in the wrong direction than what their goal was.
See, paying gamers, when starting to have enough with the DRM bull would go purchase the game, install, then immediately go find a no-CD crack somewhere on the web so they could enjoy their game without having to find their CD. But they felt justified because they still paid their money.

Now that the DRM is getting harder for the paying customer to deal with... I dare say some of them are frustrated enough to just not even bother paying anymore and just go download it free anyway since they know they won't have the same hassle and can still play the game.

All the while the true-blue pirates have been doing the same thing they always do... no difference there... just now the paying customers are defecting; instead of the desired result of pirates converting to paying customers.

Now, the ones that really do desire to remain honest in their licensing of games have had enough. Many of us are boycotting the big companies that insist that this mega-restrictive and sometimes system-hijacking is necessary to stall the pirates... when really all it's doing is hurting the paying customers.

Why do these companies think that just because something may be easy to copy, that the paying customer is going to all-of-the-sudden lose their conscience and go get their game for free, just because it's easier to get free now? They need to realize the pirates ALWAYS provide the free version, but we, the paying customers, WANT to support the developers!!

But not when they make it so hard/irritating to try to get past the DRM to play the game that it's not worth the time/money we're spending on it.

Enter Spore from Electronic Arts (EA.)

A list of anti-DRM rant threads on Amazon for Spore
Click to enlarge

This is a game I was looking forward to. That is, until I was looking to order off Amazon and saw the following list of discussions going on about it's new DRM; the newest version of SecuROM. When I heard about a limit of 3 activations, a requirement to be connected to the internet for forced "phone homes" and what not... all sorts of red-flags went off in my head. What if I'm on an airplane with my laptop? What if I'm at a mechanic, waiting for my car to get fixed and have no internet connection?! I can't play my game?! You've got to be kidding me!

There are other scenarios that make this extremely frustrating too, like having a gaming desktop and gaming laptop that one gamer decides to take the game on the road with some synced saved gameage ... but now can't because of the restrictiveness. It also goes without saying the number of complaints that have come from games like this where the DRM jacks up the system some so other functionality doesn't work quite right anymore either (but their system worked fine before installing said game.)

Ok, so some it is somewhat speculation since it needs to be solidly proven to be concrete evidence, but you get my point. The trend has proven to NOT deter the pirates, but has seriously hampered the honest gamer from having full enjoyment of the game they paid to play without countless extra hurdles to jump through that the pirates don't have to deal with since they've hacked past the DRM folly.

A very nicely written article about Piracy and PC gaming was written at the StarDock "Sins of a Solar Empire" forums.

I'd like to interject here that GameSpy released their picks for the 2008 PC Games of the Year today. Spore was #10 (congrats on still landing there even though EA is much hated by the DRM-frustrated) right now... However, Spore was beaten by both of StarDock's major players that are BOTH non-DRM.... Sins of a Solar Empire came in at #9 and Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor came in at #7. Fallout 3 came in #1, and it doesn't install any DRM. It uses SecuROM for disc checking... but it's all on the disc, it doesn't get installed on your computer.

Both have had killer sales... why?! Because honest gamers LIKE to play their game... not spending their time trying to get past DRM so they CAN play the game. Good games will make money because the honest will continue to pay for them... We don't rush to go pirate a game becuase we find out the developer made it easy to copy...

I not only buy one license for the games I really like, I buy a few licenses so I can play with my kids on our LAN. I know other gamers that do the same.

EA, sad to say, has lost out on quite a bit of money from me lately... because of my boycott, I've been deprived of the joy of playing Mirror's Edge, Red Alert 3, Need for Speed: Undercover and Spore. And EA has lost out on all the money I would've spent on those games (including multiple licenses for the likes of Need for Speed and Red Alert 3)

It's too bad because I'm VERY interested in Mirror's Edge... but I want to play it on PC because my PC's waste the consoles; but I'm sick of being the one to suffer the DRM plague because the publishers feel the need to punish the paying for the sins of the pirates that continue still to get away with (and now provide an easier-to-get-working copy of their games) it, regardless.

The bottom line is... the paying consumer is the only one that gets hurt from this. The pirates have, and always will, relish in the challenge of cracking the latest DRM... I don't even think some of those that crack the DRMs even play the games... I think they just conquer the challenge and move on to the next.

It's funny. because the game industry isn't oblivious... the reactions vary as you look around... PCGamer now provides a DRM Alert in all of their reviews, so you're not caught with your pants down. (Thanks PCGamer!)

And of course there are rebuttles from the game companies that usually claim the whiners are the pirates... but I don't understand how they even go there, since the pirates don't feel the pain of the DRM, remember? They get CRACKED copies!!! Anyway, they're either ranting about the whiny customers, ranting about how they won't back down because they have to protect their assets... or they have to make posts defending their position of why they used their DRM and how it's not as bad as the next guy's... (see Bethesda's post about the before-mentioned Fallout 3 and the SecuROM for disc check only)

xkcd put out a hilarious comic about DRM in general, but it totally applies to my feelings about PC gaming and DRM. It's my perception of what this hell-bent attitude that DRM must be more encroaching because it gives some CEO a warm fuzzy that it's protecting their assets. I'll say it again... you're only hurting the paying customers.

Here's another joy of EA's new DRM for those that took the chance on purchasing Red Alert 3. Bless your hearts. At least the workaround will work in no more than 36 attempts... hope yours is at the left-end of the spectrum... Out-of-control.

So... why have I been so long-winded; and how the freak does this all tie in to the Prince of Persia?!

Simply this... my friend Joe sent me a link to an Ars Technica article mentioning that the new Prince of Persia (retail box) contains NO DRM!!!!

The article is pretty funny, because it mentions reasons why Ubisoft may have made this move... and I've had discussions with others about it.

Some say it's because they had an "epic fail" on Assassin's Creed and their implementation of the DRM there (problems like unto the Spore and Red Alert 3 frustrations, if I understand correctly.) Some say it's a "challenge to the community" to see if the honest will run pirate the game "just because they can."

Well, I'm fed up with that B.S. attitude. If that's how these companies really feel, they might as well close up shop now... because if you're going to insult your paying customers by basically telling them they're a bunch of dishonest buttholes, how much loyalty can they expect?

I'm hoping this is Ubisoft's way of saying "We're a big publisher and we want to show some faith in the community and PROVE there are good honest people out there and we can stop this DRM madness and still make money."

StarDock has already proved it with their 2 top games of 2008... Sins of a Solar Empire has already sold well over 500,000 units. If the honest want the game, they'll pay for it.

This is our chance now to prove that no DRM CAN make them money. I was tempted to buy the entire Prince of Persia pack on Steam because they offer all for games for only $15 more than the new game as a stand-alone.

But I'm willing to buy the retail box version (heck maybe even 2 or 3 and give them as gifts) so I can show that I support the non-DRM revolution. I think we'd all be wise to do the same.

And not only support Prince of Persia, but Stardock and their games! There are good game makers out there that deserve to be paid for doing good things... and this display of trust by both Ubisoft and Stardock are well deserving of proving that they can be profitable without killing the paying customer.

Now, that all said... I'm going to say that, realistically, I'm not seeing Ubisoft completely ripping DRM completely if Prince of Persia kicks butt in sales... But I'm hoping they'll at least tone it back down to just CD-keys and what not ... things that are bearable on not system-intrusive.

No game is worth having my system scanned for specific hardware and all that other BS that these guys think they need to do nowadays. Ease up!

Down with the DRM! Go Prince of Persia!


For the record, I am a software developer... so I understand the perspective these game developers are coming from... But I also understand the perspective of a customer who doesn't want a game getting intimate with my computer and making itself such a hemorrhoid to work with that it's not worth messing with...

I advocate legitimate licensing and I pay for licenses for the games I play; and will continue to do so for the game publishers that will make it easy for me to play their game.

When publishers like EA will realize this and go back to easy-to-use software, I'll start buying their games again... not a second before. I hope you other legitimate paying customers will join me in boycotting all publishers that continue this madness until we send the message loud and proud that we're not going to put up with it anymore. (This goes for boycotting the console versions too... buying those doesn't help the cause.)

13 December 2008

Portal: Weighted Companion Cubes

Steam's store has just released plush Weighted Companion Cubes for a "mere" $29.95; and I'm not sure who can afford them right now in this economy... but they're awesome anyway, so I thought I'd share.

What I REALLY want though, (and still too expensive) are the Weighted Companion Cube Fuzzies to replace the galloping dominos that currently adorn my rear-view mirror in my car.

Portal: Weighted Companion Cubes

Ah, Portal... classic good times.

10 December 2008

FNG Report: 2008-11-28 - Turkey Bowl 2008 Second Edition - The Curse Returns

Holy crap, I realized I never posted the recap of our Thanksgiving weekend FNG; or Turkey Bowl 2008 Second Edition. I can't pass this up... the story must be told.

Before the story, I need to make mention that it was nice to see the return of BigBadMrT and Toxic to FNG. We're sorry it turned out to be a disaster for BigBadMrT, but hope he'll not let it frighten him away from making more frequent appearances.

In a sentence... Classic Thanksgiving weekend Turkey Bowl; it's a good thing we had a LAN Party Turkey Bowl before Thanksgiving this year.

It all started when 11:00pm rolled around and the first bad-omen sign was Atholon saying he was too tired to play.

When we finally rounded everyone up, we had BigBadMrT, DirtyDan (Tsam), ThatOneGuy, Thundr and Toxic.

ThatOneGuy hosted... as I launched the first race, we had two gamers' crash with GPF's and had to restart. I knew at that point we were already doomed.

Things went alright for the first three races, after the restart. But on the 4th race, Dead Man's Pass... Thundr and BigBadMrT lost internet connection. We never heard from BigBadMrT again; and we wouldn't hear back from Thundr for another 6 races.

Thundr returned long enough to tell us his router went on the fritz and would no longer provide him a reliable connection. He quickly hooked back up with us using an AirCard with his laptop to finish out the stunt and tag rounds. DirtyDan bowed out before the Tag round due to a funeral he needed to attend the next day.

Needless to say, take the results at face value... because we didn't have all the racers with us the entire time. Those that did get to race had a good time despite the hurdles.

So again, the FNG Turkey Bowl curse reared its ugly head once again... which is a shame. The track list is great and we'll have to race the tourney again later; MUCH later.

  • ThatOneGuy: 206 points
  • Toxic: 181 points
  • DirtyDan: 169 points
  • Thundr: 148 points
  • BigBadMrT: 110 points

Fastest Laps:

  • Cross Step: That One Guy - 01:44.08
  • Crossed Streets: That One Guy - 02:08.26
  • DDR: That One Guy - 01:29.48
  • Dead Man's Pass: That One Guy - 01:45.16
  • Funky Flyer SE: That One Guy - 00:56.99
  • Machkeu Basin: That One Guy - 00:57.26
  • Mosquito Hill: That One Guy - 01:26.58
  • Pepsi Max: DirtyDan 01:39.69
  • SnowFields: Toxic - 00:52.06

09 December 2008

2008-12-05 FNG Report: Getting More TrackMania In Our Lives

So Thundr, DirtyDan (Tsam), Atholon, and myself made our return to TrackMania last Friday and tried a new server that is now a favorite we'll be frequenting.

It's called "Dirty Fun" ... and get your mind out of the gutter, it's an all dirt track server; which made for a drifting skidding roaring good time.

I made a return visit tonight to show my son and got to play an incredible track I have to share with all of you. You see, RC-style tracks are one of my favorite creations in TrackMania. They're a byproduct of the ultra-flexible Track/Replay Editor system Nadeo built into the game.

A track creator creates his/her track and changes the camera angle to be sky high looking down on your car and you get to control it like a Remote-Controlled car the entire race. Crusard made one called "Micro Machines" and tonight on this server I found "Remember Off Road?" by sol666. It's a blast and I highly recommend you download it immediately and give it a shot.

Remember Off-Road?

I really need to go through all my downloaded tracks and find all of this style of track, put them in their own special folder and make a playlist out of them. They rule.

Anyway, "Dirty Fun" has some dirt tracks that have cool mods too... one of them looking like yellow desert sands, somewhat like unto Yuma Sand Dunes from Motocross Madness 1, but much prettier. Tonight I raced one called "Ice Rally" that is a Stadium/Dirt track modded to look like winter. It has a smooth flow, is fast and really fun to race

So, looking forward to more of the same this Friday... hope to see you all there!

05 December 2008

I Need More TrackMania In My Life

FNG has been mega-focused on Motocross Madness 2 for the past month or so... I'm in the mood for some TrackMania tonight. What does everyone think?

30 November 2008

FNG: The #1 Thing To Do in Utah on a Friday Night

So I was checking out some Google Analytics for the blog to see what kind of keywords were driving people to our site.

It appears there are still a lot of people playing Age of Empires I and II and looking to find the command-line parameters (no doubt to skip the intro cinematics when they launch the game.)

In just a few short days, there were 29 phrases that brought gamers to our site from the search engines. My favorite:

what to do on a friday night in utah (Our site was #1 and #2 of about 512,000)

Google: what to do on a friday night in utah
I guess that means we're the #1 thing to do on a Friday night in Utah! I'll have to agree. :)

Phrases that brought the most people here in the last few days included the words 2008 turkey bowl in whatever order and added some words in some cases. I guess there are a lot of "Turkey Bowls" out there. We happened to be #3 of about 695,000 for the exact phrase "2008 turkey bowl"; not too shabby!

We're doing pretty well with some TrackMania, PURE, and Motocross Madness 2 search phrases too.

Anyway, I had to share... that "what do to on a friday night in utah" had me in stitches for several minutes. FNG rocks; the most popular Friday night activity in Utah... heh

28 November 2008

PURE - $19.99 on Amazon Today! X-Fi Go only $39.99 Today!

Buy PURE at Amazon for just $19.99 today. It may be a permanent price-drop, but we'll have to see; since it is Black Friday after all...

X-Fi Go also dropped $10 for today only on Creative's website. It's a USB version of their kiler soundcard for use in laptops and desktops... It also has 1GB Flash on it so you can bring small gaming profiles with you in whatever machine you're using it in.


Site Updates II

The official FNG site now provides the news from the blog on the home page.

At most, it will be an hour behind the blog... as I have it set to cache once per hour.

26 November 2008

Turkey Bowl 2008 - Second Edition

Turkey Bowl 2008 - Second Edition
Friday 28 November 2008; 11:00pm
(Feel free to meet earlier for practice if you like)

If you don't already have them, you'll need the following 2 track packs from the FNG website:
Turkey Bowl 2008 Track Pack
lanparty.exe track pack

We took the 4 most fun nationals tracks from this year's Turkey Bowl LAN Party and coupled them with the most popular FNG favorites for what will be an incredible second showdown for 2008. Be there, or be roosted.

Cross Step
Crossed Streets
Dead Man's Pass
Funky Flyer SE
Mackheu Basin
Mosquito Hill
Pepsi Max

Halfgrand Playground

Tag Arena 3

Please leave a comment if you can make it!

Site Updates

I figured since most of the FNG regulars have been dominated by TrackMania for nearly 2.5 years, it was incredibly overdue to get more information on the site about it... including listing it in the "FNG Games" section of our site.

So I updated the page with a more current list of what we're seriously playing... (top 3 are the real serious... the bottom 3 are hit and miss.) I also listed some of our older previously played games, that we're still likely to fire up when someone gets the hankerin' for it.

I also added old links to pages I'll still maintain on the old site until I can get it revamped; as well as added a load of TrackMania links for your enjoyment.

If you haven't checked out Easy TMF (works on Nations and United) yet... you owe it to yourself to do so. It will allow you to go to sites like TM Carpark and click TMUP links to download your favorite skins/models and have the files have them automatically placed in the right place(s) for you. It's a beautiful thing; the TrackMania community is grand.

Enjoy! I need more TrackMania in my life... after this weekend's Turkey Bowl 2008 Second Edition, we'll have to start returning to the crack... I mean... TRACKMania.

12 November 2008

Turkey Bowl 2008 Results

Here are the results from the Turkey Bowl 2008 LAN Party. Thanks to all that came and made it a huge success; a fun time was had by all.
  • That One Guy (Jeff Litster) - 218 pts
  • Thundr (Jarin Blackham) - 186 pts
  • Toxic Waste (David Holland) - 174 pts
  • Dirty Dan (Dan Wetzel) - 172 pts
  • Jet.User (Brennan Litster) - 118 pts
  • d60dfath3r (Nick Gold) - 98 pts
  • Beuchety (Tyler Beuchert) - 92 pts
  • Atholon (Walt Weidner) - 86 pts
Turkey Bowl 2008 Details
The breakdown of the results, including best lap times can be found at the FNG site.

For the FNGers that played... please comment on this entry and tell what your favorite tracks were and favorite moments of the night!

06 November 2008

Freestyle - Part of What Makes TrackMania So Special

Curse Nadeo for adding news feed into the main menu of TrackMania! Half the time I get in there, I see some cool video that takes me away from playing the game. :)

I discovered this one tonight, thanks to said news feed:

FreestyleCup 2007 Season 1 from Thedestroyer on Vimeo.

There are so many aspects of this game that I love... and one of them is freestyle. I wish I could control my cars like that... those guys have mad skillz!

Thanks for the video Thedestroyer! Keep up the good work.

04 November 2008

Official Turkey Bowl 2008 Track Pack

Download the Official Turkey Bowl 2008 Track Pack

Included in the pack:
  • Cross Step
  • Crossed Streets
  • Cutting Corners
  • Danger Forest
  • Danger Island 2
  • Danger Style
  • Daredevils Playground
  • DDR
  • dd-Radical Ridge
  • Dead Man's Pass

  • Halfgrand Playground

This year's Turkey Bowl introduces 10 brand-new-to-FNG National tracks; 4-5 of which will become new FNG favorites, to be sure.

The Turkey Bowl will be played at a special FNG LAN Party this Friday at That One Place; with a potential rematch on the traditional Thanksgiving Weekend during FNG online. Be sure to join us one way or another! Even if you can't be there for the Turkey Bowl, download the pack; because the tracks are a blast to ride.

The LAN Party Turkey Bowl starts PROMPTLY at 8:30pm this Friday 07 November 2008!!!

2008 Turkey Bowl Line-Up
Nationals (3 laps each)

  • Cross Step
  • Crossed Streets
  • Cutting Corners
  • Danger Forest
  • Danger Island 2
  • Daredevils Playground
  • DDR
  • dd-Radical Ridge
  • Dead Man's Pass

Stunts (10-minute rounds)
  • Halfgrand Playground
  • Bear Mountain

Tag (10-minute round)
  • Arena Tag (TBD)

18 October 2008

Quest for the 2008 Turkey Bowl Track Pack

2008 Turkey Bowl Candidate Track Packs:
Candidate Track Pack #1 (posted 11 October 2008)
Candidate Track Pack #2 (posted 18 October 2008)
Candidate Track Pack #3 (posted 19 October 2008)
Candidate Track Pack #4 (posted 30 October 2008)
Stunt Candidates Track Pack (posted 01 November 2008)

On 11 October 2008, FNG embarked on a several week journey to discover 10 really enjoyable
tracks from the DVD collection that we haven't played before.

ThatOneGuy and Atholon played through Candidate Track Pack #1 on 11 October and found 2 really cool tracks to add to the list:
Cross Step
Cross Streets

Cross Step is a sweet, nicely-timed rhythm track (like unto Mosquito Hill) that has some HUGE jumps, especially near the very end. (click the pic below to see the biggest jump, right before the finish.) Notice how far back the camera is from my rider... that will help you get a feel for how big the jump really is. The hangtime, needless to say, is incredible. Much tail-whippage will be had.

Cross Step - Serious hangtime jump near the finish
Cross Streets is a fun track that has a bunch of custom models inside. You race in and out of the streets, with some construction zones and what not to potentially hamper progress. They made good use of the moving vehicles concept in MCM2, including helicopters... part of your route on the track has you driving past the Helipad on the roof of a building.

ThatOneGuy played solo on 18 October and went through Candidate Track Pack #2. Thundr was going to join but was too tired. I found two more tracks to add to the tourney:
Cutting Corners
Danger Forest

Candidate Track Pack #3 is available for download... we'll play it next week... and I'll continue updating this post with the new Candidate Track Packs as they become available.

Please feel free to race each of the tracks in the Track Packs and rate them 1-5 (1 being "The Suck" and 5 being "Tourney Material!") and tell us your ratings by commenting on this post. Please, when you comment, make sure to list the Track Pack, then each Track Name and the rating you give it.

And feel free to join us for some serious Motocross Madness 2 action over the next several weeks. The verdict isn't out yet on whether we're doing a LAN Party for Turkey Bowl in November, or the usual attempt at a WAN Party on Thanksgiving weekend for it. Look for updates on that soon as well. (I'm hoping for LAN Party; but if enough people can't make LAN but could make WAN, we'll opt for the WAN for Turkey Bowl.)

Happy racing!

03 October 2008

PURE PC Demo Available for Download

It's finally here!

Get it from FileFront
Get it from Fileshack
Get it from GamersHell
Get it from GameSpot
Get if from Strategy Informer

Since I own the real game, I haven't had a chance to try the demo yet; so I don't know if it has multiplayer. FNGers are recommended to try it anyway, so you can decide if you want to go buy and start playing it some on Fridays.

(We'll still be on the hunt for Turkey Bowl tracks for the Motocross Madness 2 tourney in November, so don't feel bad if you don't buy it just yet... but give it a whack; it's a ton of fun.)

24 September 2008

PURE HD Screenshots

PURE Adrenaline, PURE Fun, PURE Excitement, PURE and Simple

I've only been playing PURE for about a half-hour; but I can already tell that, while not Motocross Madness 2 or TrackMania, it could make a fun FNG game for both WAN Parties and LAN Parties (15-person multiplayer!)

That's me above on my custom ATV... I'm stoked to see how it performs after I've played through the game some. It's the same style as Need For Speed: Underground, where you can get better parts for your ride as you progress through the game.

Online play is a snap... no router/firewall configuration required that I noticed; which means they're either already using ports I have forwarded for other games, or they do a good job of not requiring the user to do firewall configuration.

Mine only gripes so far about online play is that there is no chat feature and no setting passwords on a game so only friends can join. This might make team racing a little problematic... but then again, I've only been in the game a half-hour, so we'll see what I've missed.

The tricks are sik, and it allows linking combos for bigger points. Freestyle mode is interesting because you have a gas meter and a thrill meter... and you have to get as many points as possible before running out of gas. To earn more gas, you must pull off good tricks (and try as hard as you can not to repeat... repeating tricks seems to make you lose gas faster; as does wrecking.) As you can see above, I'm mid-back-flip. You can also pull another trick while back-flipping.

There are trick modifier and special trick buttons, but I haven't quite figured those out yet (did I mention a half-hour?!)

Also... you have to build up from basic tricks to the more advanced tricks as you successfully land them and build your thrill bar. Your thrill bar can also be used to give you boosts (like nitro.)

More to come; I'm sure... and I'm really liking what I'm seeing so far...

17 September 2008

Age of Empires II Command-Line Parameters

Microsoft provides a knowledgebase article that describes all of the command-line parameters you can add to your Age II shortcuts.

I really like the "NoStartup" one that lets you skip the opening cinematics.

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age of Empires II\empires2.exe" nostartup

FNG Report - 09/12/2008

Ok, so I forgot... there was something worth mentioning from FNG last Friday.

When Thundr and I finally got to some MCM2, we ended up playing some casual rounds of classic FNG favorites like Pepsi Max, Funky Flyer and Snowfields.

Without realizing it at first, I beat my own FNG record for Funky Flyer on my 2nd lap. It dawned on me in the middle of the 3rd lap, so I took a screenshot just-in-case; then confirmed it after we finished the race. Sure enough, I beat the old record by 0.29 seconds! I blame the DVI-D cable and 24" monitor. I'm having all kinds of good luck since I got those. :)

That One Funky Flyer Record
After that, we got the fever to beat Toxic's fastest lap on Snowfields and raced it about 10 times; getting worse each time, and completely unsuccessful in achieving the goal. But it was sure fun trying and we look forward to future record attempts.

So FNG wasn't so bad after all... those moments made up for all the crap earlier in the night.

Looking forward to the clan match this Friday... be there or be ... missing out.

16 September 2008

Clan Skirmish - This Friday! (Starcraft and/or Age of Empires II)

So last Friday was a bust... not even worth of an FNG Report. It was basically riddled with lack of ability to find CDs and connection issues.

Tsam, Thundr, Toxic, Atholon and I were all present; and most of us played a little TrackMania til Tsam bailed. The plan after was to switch to Motocross Madness 2 (MCM2).

We lost Toxic after several attempts to get MCM2 working on that waste of an OS just a notch better than Windows ME (also known as Vista....) and he left after not being able to find his CD for a reinstall.

Atholon installed MCM2 for the first time that night, and no matter what we did, including Hamachi, he just couldn't get connected with us. So he dropped.

It was down to Thundr and I again, and we finally got a few rounds of MCM2 in; which were enjoyable, but anti-climactic after all the hassle.

So on to the better news:
Clan Skirmish this Friday on Starcraft and/or Age of Empires II!

I received an email not long ago from a Mark Zimmerman; who recently rejoined a bunch of college roommates that used to game together 5 years ago. They decided to call their clan "Wan Party." After Googling for 'Wan Party' he found our site and signed up for our contact list.

We got in touch with each other and have scheduled a match or two for 19 September (time to be announced.)

So FNGers that are intersted in some fun casual Starcraft or Age II games this Friday, make sure to have both games installed and fully patched, ready to go. We're not facing a repeat of last Friday (in fact, I'd recommend we do a connection test-run before Friday.)

Sound off if you're coming to play. I (That One Guy) will be there.

06 September 2008

FNG 09/05/2008 - Return to Motocross Madness 2

Thundr and I had a hankerin' for some MCM2 tonight; since we haven't been able to play after Tsam installed Vista Ultimate 64-bit on his system...

We had a blast and many cool moments were had. One of them is in the video below. We were racing Pepsi Max and I full-on spring-loaded the bike entirely over the mountain with a clearance of what looks like about 4-6 feet or so from the top of the mountain! It's probably my best springload ever.

My apologies for the poor quality. I'm just learning Sony Vegas Studio and need to learn how to make good compression but keep the quality (the original file is about 630MB.) I'll try to get a better quality one I can link to on the FNG server later.

There were other moments that we could get some killer screenshots from, but don't have time yet. Below is one Jarin took during Grassy Knoll SE. I had finished the race and backtracked so I could watch Thundr's final jump. He missed it and had to climb the hill past the broken bridge. Instead he smacked the bridge and went twirling off the screen. It was pretty funny... if we got that one on VCR, we'll have to capture the twirl and post it here... if not, the pic will have to do.

If we get time, we'll post more later...

I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into MCM2 more again; especially since it's nearing time for Turkey Bowl 2008. We'll probably spend some of the next few Fridays going through the Track DVDs and trying to generate a new pack for this year's Bowl; then of course, some TrackMania; cause, well, you can never get enough of that...

01 September 2008

FNG 08/29/2008

We played TrackMania United Forever on the "Let's Rock!!!" server (We being: That One Guy, Tsam, and Atholon [for a few minutes]).

It was an interesting night. There were always 50+ racers on the server. I only played for 2 hours; Tsam joined me late and stayed after I left, so I'm not sure how long he was on.

I placed in the top 10 twice and spent the rest of the time between 15th and 25th. Somehow, I still earned over 4,000 Ladder Points taking me to 19,000+ points; putting me 13th in the Utah Zone and in the high 60,000's in the World Zone.

It was a good time and a lot of good competition, as it always is on that server. They have a great mix of old and new tracks... the old always classics from our intense TrackMania Nations days... "Let's Rock!!!" is definitely an FNG favorite to play on.

Tsam, come tell us how you fared!

29 August 2008

Oddworld is Back!!!

(picture courtesy of Steam)

If you've never played Oddworld, you've GOT to get over to Steam and download it! Two of the games in the series have been released in a pack for $13.49 (regularly $14.99 - so if you wait, you're not out much moneywise...)

The game's name fits... it's odd; and irreverent (including farts - how can you not love a game with farts?!) It's an arcade-style platform game that takes teamwork with others of your kind who you can "command" by the way you make your character Abe interact with them. The goal in the first game is to liberate them from slavery... and certain doom.

Did I mention farts? The second game, Abe's Exoddus lets you control your farts and use them to blow obstacles up. Too cool *Cackle!* Good times... good memories.

Demos are available for both games, so if you want to try-before-you-buy you can.

Get downloadin'!! Then come back and let us know how much fun you had.

23 August 2008

FNG 8/23/2008

Thundr, Tsam and I joined up tonight to finally try out the "Missions" server talked about on the front page news when first entering TrackMania United.

It's a French server that contains tracks that have some sort of mission objectives to them. These range from quizzes (where the direction you take in a fork-in-the-road determines your answer to a question... if correct, you continue through a checkpoint and get to move on... if you answer incorectly, you get to turn around and go back or respawn from the last checkpoint...) to full blown missions broken into parts with an objective for each part (take out the spy, paint the target for an air strike, etc.) to tracks with an RC car view (I so miss those from Nations) and multiple paths. One included snagging Christmas gifts for the family while driving along to a Christmas song.

The thing that lured us to the server is the fact that it hosts all of Crusard's Tracks (except Trump Card II, yet...) - but we did get to try The Trump Card (original) tonight, and it ROCKED! Among Crusard's others we tried tonight are some he created for TrackMania Nations that include "The Bobsleigh Challenge", a claustrophobic wall-ride extravaganza (that, while a frame-rate killer, is quite fun) and "MicroMachines" (an RC-style track with some fun jumps and multiple paths.)

The maps were very challenging and there were some fun racers to race with tonight.

If you get a chance... find the MISSIONS server:
* Play Online
* Select "All"
... do ...
* France
* Aquitaine
* Gironde
... or ...
* Select the magnifying glass (Search)
* Type: MISSIONS (it's case-insensitive)
* Select "Search"

Once in... add it to your favorites so you can get to it faster next time. It's the worth the visit... and we didn't experience lag much. Thundr did around 1:00am and bailed... and as mentioned before the Boblseigh track was a FPS killer, but not enough to be unplayable.

Enjoy! Hopefully we'll see you there sometime.

Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 Open Beta

FilePlanet subscribers got to taste the Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 beta before anyone else... but now the beta has been open to everyone.

Snag it today and see if you have better luck than I have. I've had the beta for a little over a week and have tried nearly everyday to connect to a game.

By the time I get into one I can actually connect to, I launch into the game with a black screen, some sounds and a game pointer. Supposedly this is a known bug, and I was REALLY hoping they had it fixed in the last patch a couple of days ago; but alas... it wasn't for me.

Good luck!

19 August 2008

Old School RPG Gaming

I found some old school maps I drew while playing through two cool 80's RPGs ... Times of Lore and Phantasie III.

Check out the article on my blog at thatoneplace.net... :)

16 August 2008

TrackMania United Forever only $20.00 This Weekend on Steam!!!

Buy TrackMania United Forever this weekend for 50% off on Steam!

If you like Nations at all, now is the time to get one of the greatest racing games ever made for only $19.99!

What are you waiting for?

14 August 2008

New and Improved TrackMania Player Page

Nadeo has been busy again, improving the Official TrackMania United Player Page.

Don't let the logo on the sign-in page confuse; Nations Forever and United Forever players alike can login and check out status, see buddy status and even click links to join servers your friends are on.

The real cool part about the upgraded page is that it now has tabs for stats for all modes of rankings: United Solo, United Multiplayer, Nations Solo and Nations Multiplayer!

Go check it out!

05 August 2008

The Trump Card II - By Crusard

One of the things I love most about TrackMania is MediaTracker. MediaTracker is technology built into the game to allow a track author or replay editor to do all sorts of cool camera effects and other trigger type stuff.

Crusard, one of my favorite track authors, goes above and beyond in utilizing MediaTracker in his tracks; creating full-conversion tracks such as "Sweet Dream."

Tonight, I discovered his latest Island track called "The Trump Card II" and it is amazing. It's a four-part mission with an escape sequence you'll enjoy.

Tracks like this remind me of all the reasons I love TrackMania!

Get "The Trump Card II" by Crusard from TMX!

(Crusard is a member of "Clan JMF Argentina" ... Visit their site for other cool TrackMania action, including MediaTracker tutorials!)

02 August 2008

We Need More TrackMania In Our Lives...

ThatOneGuy on "DealBreaker"
a track by Dill
skinned with the "TMX City Nights" mod by Crusard
(large image is 7MB ... click to view)

Atholon, Tsam, Thundr and myself had a really great time tonight with TrackMania Forever. We played on a Nations server since someone, we won't mention names (Atholon), hasn't ponied-up for TrackMania United Forever yet. :)

We played on a crazy server called "RF Playground" that had wild tracks to solve that reminded me of the good ole days in TrackMania Nations ESWC when we used to play on the 440 Mods and Boost server that ZHaDuM/MoXLeY used to host (later renamed to a KOFS server.) We used to get our game on there because the tracks were incredibly challenging and uber-creative. Our passion for those tracks was the fact that the first set of fun for it was to learn how to "solve" the track. Then it was time to figure out how to nail a flawless fast ride on it. Good times.

Anyway, the last track we played on it tonight was the one you see in the image above. It was incredible. No one finished it the first time. The second time only one did. The third time the same driver finished twice in one round.

I told the group I hadn't had this much fun being owned by a track in a LONG time. After the third round and no one from FNG finished; we jumped off the server and started our own to practice that track. There was no way I was finishing the night off with a track owning me.

Thundr and I were the only ones left by then, so we played it til we nailed it. I was fortunate enough to have 3/5 finishes during my final round. I told Thundr, "It's official; this track no longer owns me. It now only has a time-share."

The "TMX City Nights" mod Crusard made is incredible. I'm going to have to seek out more of his, because we were impressed with the "Sweet Dream" track (which included a candy world mod Crusard also created) - one of the most creative mods we've seen. Crusard has a gift; a gift I wish I possessed. So kudos to you, Crusard. Thanks for a killer mod that made a great track better.

I'd post the link to the DealBreaker track, but I couldn't find it on TMX. If anyone reading this can find a TMX link, please add a comment!

It's all just further proof that we all need more TrackMania goodness in our lives. See you at the races.

23 July 2008

GEEX 2.0 Date Announced

Well, it's official... GEEX 2.0 date has been announced...
April 17-19 2009

And it will be bigger and badder than this year.

I received an email today from Protocol 42 that mentioned: "Just over 12,000 people walked through the event and more than 180 gamers brought their PCs to the LAN party area to join in the 3 days of gaming fun."

12,000! That's more than I expected, and it thrills me. Companies apparently took notice because I heard unofficially that Intel and nVidia have signed on to have booths at the next GEEX; as well as some other companies that thought about doing it this year, but took a "wait and see" approach.

I think this bodes very well for the Utah gaming community; and if we continue to show our support, this could become what E3 used to be; and we get to enjoy the benefit of having it local every year!

Stay tuned to the Protocol 42 forums for more GEEX info and discussions on what you'd like to see there (like more love for the TrackMania tournament; like some stage time!!!) :)

19 July 2008

FNG Takes to the Podium at GEEX Show TrackMania Nations Forever Tournament

Today, Team FNG participated in the largest LAN Party we've ever been to. It was GEEX Show 2008 and the lan party was around 150 gamers large.


If you click the image and see it in its original size, you'll notice a staple at lan parties... a bunch of Mountain Dews residing next to a gamer's computer. :) The party was packed and it appeared everyone was having a good time.

Team FNG was represented by the following:

Dan Wetzel (Tsam), back-row left; Jeff Litster (That One Guy), back-row right; Nick Gold (d60dfath3r), front-row left; Jarin Blackham (Thundr), front-row right.

Team FNG at GEEX

Most of us arrived at the party around 11:00am and jumped right into the TrackMania Nations Forever Tournament practice server to try to feel out what we were up against (both track-wise and competitor-wise.)

The competition was good. There were some good racers on the practice servers. Team FNG took turns being on the podium (sometimes sharing) and by the time we went to get lunch around 2:00pm, we felt confident at least one of us would come home being one of the tournaments victors.

We knew we wouldn't win first place because WAT_Fallout was there, and well, some of have been served by him before online. That guy has got some seriously "mad foo" TrackMania skills; the kind that push you to be a better racer.

There was a near tragic scene when TrackMania ceased working correctly for Fallout's computer around lunchtime; but fortunately after some system configuration tweaks minutes before the competition started, the game began working correctly again.

The tournament started a little after 4:00pm with 30 racers rearing to race to success (and a free video card.) Fallout took first on all but two races, of which Tsam and myself were first. The rest of the time, many of the racers were taking turns in 2nd or 3rd place. Some racers gave up during the tourney; and by the time we finished, the count was half of what we started with.

Points were given for first through third place each round... first place earning 3 points; second place earning 2 points and third place earning 1 point.

Tsam and I were elated to find that we were in the top 3 when the tournament ended. Here are the stats: (laugh hard because Fallout got more points than Tsam and mine combined!)

  1. WAT_Fallout - 31 points
  2. FNG_tsam - 11 points
  3. FNG_ThatOneGuy - 10 points

We each won a new ATi Radeon 4870 ... which, from what I hear, is the best model ATi card on the market today. We're pretty stoked.

In the mayhem of another tournament that started at the same time being conducted on the stage; they quickly interrupted the shoutcasting of the match to announce the winners of our TrackMania tournament... and rushed us up for some pictures before they excused us back to the lan party. Thundr was kind enough to snag my camera and try to take a picture while the other guy was trying to take his second shot. So, we may look a little dorky and disoriented; but we were stoked to be taking the podium in such a fun tournament.

(Left-to-Right: FNG_tsam, FNG_ThatOneGuy, WAT_Fallout)

(Yes we're holding nVidia cards too, but we're really getting ATis.) The gentleman on the far right of the picture is p0wd3r (Ben) from Protocol 42, presenting us with our prizes.

We again want to thank Media One, Protocol 42, Palit Multimedia and all the other excellent sponsors that made GEEX such a great experience.

Rumor has it that plans are already underway for a GEEX 09. We're looking forward to it if it materializes.

We're also looking forward to Protocol 42's annual shindig in November where another TrackMania Nations Forever tournament will be held; and maybe this time we can learn some of Fallout's moves and give him a better run for his money. :) Congrats Fallout for taking us all to the cleaners.

See you all at the next GEEX!

17 July 2008

TrackMania Breaks World Record

TrackMania broke its own world record in the Guiness Book of World Records: Gamer's Edition by having 250 racers in one track on one server at one time; making it the largest online race in the world!

A video was produced from replays from the event and is available on the Official TrackMania Website.

A "sneak peek" of the upcoming 2008 Gamer's Edition Annual of the Guinness Book of World Records includes some interesting facts about TrackMania like:
  • "Largest content base of any racing game." (which tells me they either: surpassed the content created for Motocross Madness 2 (MCM2); or Guiness isn't aware of the 6 DVDs worth of compressed content I possess that makes up most, if not all custom content created for it.)
  • "Most nationalities in an offline racing competition" (34 nations)
  • "Most popular user-created video (using in-game materials...)
There are some fun pictures and facts about the phenomenon that is TrackMania. I've said it before and I'll say it again; if you haven't tried TrackMania, you really don't know what you're missing.

TrackMania Nations Forever is free, so go download it today and join the ranks of millions of TrackManiacs around the world. You'll be glad you did.

Geeks Anticipating GEEX

Well, we finally got to put in our first night of practice this week (sure wish I had more free time!)

Thundr and I hopped onto the "Let's Rock" Nations server and played with several people ranked in the top 10,000 of the world. Needless to say, we never took the podium, but came close a couple of times. There were a couple of appearances in the top 10.

If the competition at GEEX is anything like tonight; all hope is lost... *CACKLE!* Serves us right for having families and responsibilities.

Regardless, we're very much anticipating a good time at the show and wish we could all be there for all three days of fun. Tsam may get to poke in before Saturday; but the rest of us will not be appearing until Saturday.

Nadeo was kind enough to let us use their TrackMania logo concepts to make a team shirt design. The first draft (which we didn't finish the design in time to get embroidered this round) looks like this:

We wanted to use the 3D blocks from the United logo, but we figure that won't work too well with embroidery... we'll see. We'll probably save that for the website.

Thanks to B_Rock and Atholon for working with me on the design.

My bro-in-law Keith did make us some shirts for GEEX (under short notice) that are pretty cool. Thanks Keith for the back-up there; you rock!

So, this will be my first big tournament for me since the Nintendo PowerFest came to Salt Lake when I was 17 (over half my life ago...) - I can't wait for the adrenaline rush.

Make sure to head to GEEX if you can and show your support for the Utah Gaming Community!

21 June 2008

FNG Rocks the Nations (Forever)

Tonight we had five FNGers representing:

  • Atholon (Walt)
  • BigBadMrT (Mark)
  • Thundr (Jarin)
  • Tsam (Dan)
  • ThatOneGuy (Jeff)

We raced on "Floyd's TM Nations Fun House" server with a host of fun racers. The server had anywhere from 23 - 30 people on at any given time.

We took turns on the podium and earned a lot of ladder points tonight (which we normally don't care about; as we get on these servers to have a good time racing people...) It was just funny to see us start with so little points tonight and walk away with so much.

That One Owner of the Podium Guy - TrackMania Nations Forever
For instance, I started with somewhere around 700 points when we began racing tonight; I left the server with 4073.

We all had a blast and played from 10:30pm to 1:00am.

Tsam in 2nd place and ThatOneGuy in Third Place - TrackMania Nations Forever We're getting more and more stoked for GEEX Show. I'm going to see if I can get a logo designed with my TrackMania car and FNG in it for an embroidered shirt. If it goes well and we like it; we can wear it to the GEEX Show LAN party (especially the TrackMania tournament.)

14 June 2008

FNG to Appear at GEEX Show - TrackMania Nations Forever Tournament

That's right, folks. I found out about a local TrackMania Nations Forever tournament and I'm all about getting hooked up. I'm sure I'm also about getting my trash kicked and handed back to me; but it's going to be a good time no matter what happens.

For those that don't know... GEEX Show is hosting a TrackMania Nations Forever tournament on 19 July 2008. The guest list for the 3-day Lan Party now includes That One Guy. Thundr, Tsam and Beuchety have also expressed interest in attending the event and potentially participating in the TrackMania tourney.

I'm hoping we'll have a good FNG presence there; and that many more Utah gamers will help make this a well attended event; so they'll want to make it a recurring event.

GEEX show sounds to be much like a mini E3 event (like the E3 of the old days... not the new E3 format) where there will be 3-days of exhibits, speakers and the Lan Party. It's not all about games either... GEEX stands for Games and Electronics EXpo (if memory serves correctly.)

So as Utah Gamers, and especially FNG; let's help make this a killer event by adding our support in appearing at the expo and especially having a sweet time doing what we do best; being TrackManiacs.

See you there!

13 May 2008

TrackMania United Forever Hits Top Sellers Chart on Steam

Gamers are finally getting it. TrackMania is the coolest racing game series ever made (sharing the title with the Motocross Madness series of course.)

I was looking on Steam today and TrackMania United Forever is on their Top Sellers list. And well it should be. With all the new fun (both in Single-Player and Multiplayer aspects) Nadeo has added to its already incredible game; it shines on... and gamers are catching on.

If you still haven't tasted the goodness that is TrackMania, you owe it to yourself to try TrackMania Nations Forever (also available on Steam) and once you're addicted; buy TrackMania United Forever. It'll be some of the best $40.00 you've ever spent; and well worth the 2.5 months of World of Warcraft you sacrifice to give it a shot... the word WoW will have new meaning for you. :)

28 April 2008

Calling all Geeks ... or GEEX!

The Gaming & Electronics EXpo (GEEX) is coming to the Salt Palace Convention Center July 17-19, 2008. This show will be open from 10am to 8pm each day and will feature an area where exhibitors will show off their latest technology, gadgets, controllers and mods. There will also be keynote speakers, breakout sessions, gaming tournaments and a Massive "all night" LAN Party sponsored by Protocol 42.

Tickets are available online:
$10 for a one day pass
$25 for the full three days.

Student passes are also available with a student ID
$5 for a one day pass
$15 for the full three days.

Tournaments and LAN Party participation have an additional cost.

For more information, visit www.geexshow.com.

FNG 04/25/2008 - Report

Not much to report. Jeff is still battling pneumonia and was probably getting some much needed sleep. I ended up playing TMF online for a few hours. There was one track that had a pretty cool mod. It was a candy theme with M&M roads, candycane poles, and even had an evil ghost that gets you if you crash! It was very creative!

I'm not sure if I'm going to make it this Friday. I have graduation Saturday morning, and it's probably not a good idea to fall asleep while walking up to get a diploma!

21 April 2008

FNG 04/18/2008 - Report

I was hoping to see alot of FNG'ers Friday night to kick off the launch of TrackMania Forever by engaging some high-speed challenges on Nadeo's new TM engine. I arrived online just before 11:00pm but no one else showed. Jeff had been battling illness for a few days, and most likely was getting some desperately needed (and well-deserved) sleep.

The no-show wasn't a bad thing, though. It gave me the opportunity to work through the solo campaign for a few hours and explore the enhancements and eye-candy included in the Forever upgrade. I was too lazy to go downstairs for my Rumblepad2 controller, so I stuck with the keyboard for the night. There is something to say for the sensitivity and control offered by an analog stick, but I still earned a number of gold medals using the arrow keys.

I am looking forward to this coming Friday and hope to see more FNG'ers online!

20 April 2008

TrackMania Nations Forever Now Offered on Steam

For those still getting their feet wet in the world of TrackMania; get amped... Steam now offers TrackMania Nations Forever for you to download through there. It's always nice to have fast no-wait servers to get your free game on with.

Once you've tasted the goodness and become CrackManiacs like the rest of FNG, buy the full game TrackMania United Forever on Steam for $39.95.

*Remember, those that already own TrackMania United get Forever as a free upgrade!

19 April 2008

TrackMania Forever

April 15th 2008 (April 16th in France) was one of the best days in video-gaming history for FNG.

That's right... TrackMania United Forever (TMUF) and TrackMania Nations Forever (TNF) were released that day; the latter being the free version.

Nadeo, the game's creator, took the United engine for the Stadium environment and put it into TMNF. Basically, Nations Forever is like taking Stadium straight out of United and put in a standalone game. What makes this great is that owners of TMUF (which contains an additional 6 environments spanning the entire TrackMania series) can connect to TMNF servers without having Nations Forever installed (prior to this release, one had to install both TrackMania United (TMU) and TrackMania Nations (TMN) to play both.)

That's the first really exciting piece of goodness I discovered when I updated my game to TrackMania United Forever... but wait, there's more!!!

Some of my favorite additions:

  • Easier Player/Server search functionality

  • The TrackMania Original (TMO) environments have all had major graphics engine revamps done to them and they're incredibly beautiful. I'll post pics when I get some time.

  • We can now change video settings in-game; which we've been dying for!

  • Rumor is there are two new block types: a blue block in Stadium that makes it easier to carve a turn; and a "rainbow turbo" that is timed to be 100% power for 1 second, then amp up to 150% for 1 second, then 200% for 1 second, then cycle back to 100%, etc. I haven't seen these yet, but am looking forward to them. An "Engine Killer" block was added to TMU and it added a whole new dynamic to the gameplay; so I look forward to these two new blocks.

  • Tracks seem to load faster (though that might be due to the new hardware some too...)

  • All environments seem to play smoother and look prettier (even the ones that didn't get the face-lift seem to have better lighting, etc.)

I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg; as I only got to play for a couple of hours tonight.

I will say this: Nadeo has put a TON of time and effort into enhancing this game and it shines like the sun. I can't believe they made it a free upgrade. I'd pay for it... in fact, I'm considering making a donation to the cause anyway; the enhancements are more than worth it.

I can't wait to see what else lies ahead as we play TrackMania Forever... you know where you'll find me late Friday Night! (Dang I need to get some time to update that site... holy old...)

Rumor was that the people in the USA that bought TrackMania United from Steam wouldn't be able to get the Forever update yet... but I pointed the update installer at my "Program Files\TrackMania United" folder and it worked fine... then when trying to launch TrackMania United from Steam after I played TMUF from the manual update, Steam decided to update the game automatically in its install folder... I just hope it didn't overwrite my car skins and gamepad configuration :)

See you at the races...

(By the way, if you're interested in getting into the world of TrackMania; contact me first... TMUF has a feature where I can invite friends to get the game... and if you get it from the invite using the same email for your account, I can be your sponsor. I'm not sure what that means, but I'd like to find out... so let me know.)

Tell us what your favorite new additions are!