It’s crazy how old computer hardware holds no value

But at the same time there is great value in old computer hardware.

In my opinion around 2006-2007 we basically hit peak computing. The biggest restrictions I see on older machines is memory sizes, and disk speeds. And for the most part these can be taken care of with ease, although many chipsets and formfactors of the time seem to have these incredibly tiny 8Gb/16Gb/32Gb limitations that just really are annoying in the distant future of 2019 when you may want to run a few things at once.

Yes, ‘Mouse’ computer is a thing

So I bought this used i640GA6-BDO, an i7 machine oem’d by mouse computer. Yes the name of the business is the same name as the 2nd most popular peripheral of all time. From the blurb:

From the “NEXTGEAR series” with high cooling and excellent maintainability, Intel® Core™ i7-4790K processor, dual channel 16GB memory, 1TB hard disk (7200rpm), DVD super multidrive, NVIDIA ® GeForce® GTX™ .970, 80PLUS® BRONZE certified700W power supply, pre-installed Windows 8.1 Update i640GA6-BDO” is 149,800 yen.

I paid just over 20,000 yen for this machine. So losing some 120,000 yen, or about 80% of it’s value over 5 years is certainly not a good investment proposition. It seemed like a good bargain.

Finding the corporate website was NOT easy, but thankfully they own mouse-jp.co.jp so one of those wild guesses turned out being right. They seem highly influenced by the ‘idol group’ thing that is popular and japan, and they have an extensive YouTube channel over at MouseComputer2010. And an extensive ad gallery.

They even have the making of videos. I could find so much about the advertising and various talent, but the machines… that was much more difficult than I could imagine.

The build quality however left a bit to be desired, when I turned it on and jumped into the BIOS the first thing that I noticed was that it ran HOT.

75c in under a minute!

So yeah 75c in under a minute is not a good thing. The water pump was making a weird noise as the bearings were clearly shot, and it’s just not circulating anywhere near fast enough.

Although I didn’t take a picture I was able to find one online, that shows that despite the bottom of the case has a big slot for the PSU fan, but the fan was pointing up into the case, not venting to the bottom.

I guess that the original owner got rid of the machine as it was overheating, and/or thermal throttling. I ended up going back out looking for a new cooling solution, and I was torn between a cheap fan thing for $10 or another all-in-one liquid cooler for $50. I decided to go with the all-in-one, as this machine was originally liquid cooled anyways.

I’m not sure why everything needs a cartoon..

The machine also had no storage, so I also picked up a M.2 drive, and a spinning rust disk. I have to say that even for this ancient machine, it’s great it had a M.2 slot, and WOW I thought SSD was fast, but this positively blows it away!

While I was out I see this former holy grail of GPU’s a Nvidia GTX 980 for ¥12,000. Now granted the machine I picked up has a GTX 970, a nice touch as I wasn’t expecting anything, but I can always use another DVI capable card back at home, so I’m probably taking that along with the i5 back to my HK office.

Now the real killer is that the card is a ASUS GTX, and looking around online it’s the STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5 model.

I look around and find it on Amazon, and if the ad thing is to be believed the new price on this thing was ¥70,900! Looking around on that part number also shows kakaku.com with a list price of ¥73,480!

So granted the card is 5 years old now, but wow what a drop in price! It’s one more stop away from the junk piles that the other 9xx’s currently are (I’ve seen boxes of Zotac 750’s and up).

Naturally of course, like the i7, this card also had issues the moment I put it into my PC. The screen was flashing with garbage, and it’d eventually lead to a system freeze after a few minutes. What a pain, bad memory I suppose. And like the PC, I took the card apart, cleaned up the old thermal compound, and added some new generic stuff, put it together, and left it running The Outer Worlds at ultra high settings just fine. Who knows, maybe it’ll break later on, I don’t know, but I now have a ‘high end 5 year old’ gaming system for about the same or slightly more than a PS4. And I could be wrong but i’d like to think an i7/980 would crush a PS4. Although I could be wrong.

Naturally running cinebench 14, basically shows that the 970 & the 980 perform so close to each-other it makes no real difference. Although the fan setup on the 980 is far more aggressive, and it runs much more quieter. So that’s a nice bonus.

And if userbenchmark.com can be trusted, the performance difference from the 980 to the 1080, isn’t all that bad. It’s unreal that now even with 2nd generation RTX 2080’s out there, the 1080 is still an expensive GPU.

So, sometimes it may be worth looking at the junk piles. Although at the same time if you have nothing, the new/lowend stuff like the 1030’s/1050’s really aren’t so bad either. But for some reason I always seem to like yesterdays powerhouse.

The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long…

Maybe I was just a strange kid, maybe it’s just an artifact of growing up in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), where Citytv would put the film on immediately after Auld Lang Syne would finish. A great way to start the new year. (Incidentally in a weird way many stores in Japan will play Auld Lang Syne when they are closing)

2019 seemed such a long far off date, and yet here we are.

Since I’m tagged as a game site, back in the late 90’s there was even a Blade Runner game! You can find it over on archive.org, patched and ‘fixed’ for modern systems (I had to run the bladexp on my Fujitsu machine running Windows 10), although considering the PII 233 I had back then, and this thing clocking in at 2.9Ghz the game play is very pokey. At the time it was an amazing game, with so much CGI, interwoven animations, and all the voice acting. Set in scenes reminisce of the film, it starts down a very familiar path, then goes off the rails during the predictable plot twist, but opens up enough paths to lead to a few moral choices and thusly different outcomes.

I dare say in 1997 that it really was ground breaking technology to give the look, feel and aesthetic of Blade Runner, and they even got the rights to use hints of the Vangelis score here & there, leaning on the old and trying to go in a new direction.

But compared to modern pacing it may be awfully slow, totally on rails, and one of those point & click, and find the hidden thing in the scene, along with click the person 100x to get different answers. While not as dire as ‘I have no mouth,and I must scream’ where you are hoping for the least worst ending, Blade Runner does have that optimistic style ending that was pushed onto the film’s original ambiguous ending where Deckard holds the unicorn and hears Gaf’s message implying that even if Rachel isn’t retired, that she doesn’t have very long to live. Just as he very well might not have long to live.

The game is almost maditory for real fanatics of scifi fans of the 1980’s, but odds are if you are, you’d have played this game back when it released.

As for the kids of today… I imagine that Blade Runner would be pretty much like 2001. Slow, confusing and messy. As Harrison Ford put it, it’s a detective who doesn’t detect. Just as both films feature legendary Directors who establish amazing worlds, and atmospheres they deliberately remove the humanity from the humans, and entrust it to the machines, the real torch barres of the future. Sometimes I wonder if Riddly Scott grasped the human angle of the final confrontation, and why there was so many misfirings with Prometheus and Covenant…. But that disappointment is for another time.

One thing that really established the aesthetic of Cyberpunk was Sir Run Run Shaw’s involvement in producing the film, as the Hong Kong Ladie’s Market, Shum Shai Po, and Mong Kong give that impression for the November 2019 that isn’t quite reality. Just as that ancient novel Neuromancer, established forever the vibe of Chiba having the sky that felt like a TV set to a dead channel (I’m currently across the bay in Tokyo, and it’s a nice blue.. How future prophetic), where that feeling of old tube televisions displaying the noise of the electromagnetic storm of the stars & the solar wind, would give us the old gray snow. Now forever replaced with the clear blue skies.

Despite the Orwellian nature of the wonderful internet, the brave new world feeling of the ‘licensed’ clinics of Shenzhen in many ways the future is brighter today, than it would have been in the 1980’s version of today.

On the road to the Outer Worlds, aka thanks for the ‘soft’ regions

I fired up Fallout 76, after all the $100 subscription nonsense to poke around, and yeah it’s still boring and empty. So It’s the 25th in Asia so I figured this was a great time to catch the launch and play the latest Obsidian opus, The Outer Worlds. Since I’m still in Hong Kong it’s restricted to the PS4 only? I mean sure, I have one, but I want to play it on the PC. Well at least I can select another region, say USA, and boom I can now choose between Game Stop (Are they still around, I thought they went bust?), Epic (LOL) or Microsoft’s game store (I thought they gave up after Games for Windows Live?). Anyways I’ll take the Microsoft one, shame it’s not on steam, I guess it’s one of those Epic things.

So clicking on the Windows Store, it’ll instantly let me choose where I want to be (Wasn’t that an old slogan, where do you want to go today?), and thankfully I can just choose. They have 香港 (Hong Kong) & 澳门 (Macau), 繁體中文 (Traditional Chinese) or American English!

So nice of them to let me just choose! I go for the English as few things recognize the 2nd official language of Hong Kong (English), but I don’t care about censorship, mainland sensibilities, or anything to that effect. Great. Now time to pay, let me get out my credit card and…

Denied! Turns out they finally fixed the ‘feature’ that you could put in any random valid American address, and use any international credit card, and it’d just work! So you now need a valid mailing address. Or option 2, the more fun one is to buy a gift card on some shady place like E-bay, and try to get a gift card that’ll just email you the code after the auction, and hope that they are legit, as it’s all too easy money for them.

$100 USD card for about $65 USD! What could go wrong? Everything!

I went for some card that was closer to par value, and bought it expecting basically nothing, instead within 5 minutes of the auction ending as I’m paying they are sending me an email begging me to pay… Great so probably money wasted. I don’t hear anything back for the next hour, and just give it up as a bad choice, but at least it’s not a lot of money.

I wake up the next day, and behold I get the code, and much to my amazement, it activates! A few hours later and it’s installed!

I see Microsoft has some game pass thing, which sounds interesting but I need a ‘guarantor’ or something as a funding backup, my credit and out of country paypal /credit card is no good. Ugh what a PITA.

I’ve played the game for a few minutes, and my first impression is that the colour palette is just so wide, and the worlds feel so lush, it makes Fallout 76’s brown worlds just fell so lifeless unlike the vibrancy from the Outer Worlds. NPC’s are back, and what a difference that makes. Simply looking up and seeing the red rings of the first planet is just amazing, granted Fallout is doomed to being on earth, but it just doesn’t feel anywhere as magical. That said, TOW definitely feels more Jules Verne / 1860’s steam punk to Fallout’s 1950’s nuclear family, nuclear fallout.

I’d give it a recommendation in the brief few minutes I’ve played, it’s worth the hoops to jump through.

Games! Games! Games!


Come on Sal, never miss a game!

Yeah! Over the MS-DOS collection over at archive.org is well over 2,500! Isn’t that great?!?

Well let’s take a peek at a few favorites…

Sadly DataEast’s greatest hit RoboCop doesn’t work correctly on the site, however if you were to do something evil like open up the inspector, and manually download the asset yourself it’ll load fine in actual DosBox. It’s a great side scroller, even 30 years later. Yes, 1989 was a long long time ago.

Buck Rogers – Matrix Cubed was a great fun SSI Action/RPG of the day, more of a maze crawler unlike Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday being more older style top down. And speaking of, for any SSI/Buck Rogers fans out there I hope you have checked out I am not a Monster: Complete Edition, which rides the fun line of homage & parody.

And speaking of SSI, Curse of the Azure Bonds and it’s ilk are available as well! I’m not sure how a board game company with a vast library (and IP rights licensed) could possibly fail so hard. Maybe the games were too difficult? Maybe they were too involved? I guess I’m guilty of it too, as I’m the uncleansed masses that preferred Fallout 3 to 1&2. Just as Diablo took off as it removed the clock, and turned it into action.

Project-X was a favorite shoot-em-up on the Amiga, although it being PAL was surprisingly significantly harder to play on my NTSC Amiga, with not being able to see all the screen, running faster, and the insane blinking of some timing with the sprites. I didn’t know there was a PC version, but yeah it looks pretty much like the Amiga version. And it was one of the larger issues that a 386 PC with VGA & a SoundBlaster really not only was as good as an Amiga, but was just plain better as PC hardware kept on improving while Commodore trapped in their downward spiral just didn’t innovate.

Rise of the Triad – The Hunt Begins, this was a soso shooter, but where it really shone was it’s multiplayer maps and combat. It was a awesome time waster on the LAN. I never tried it dialup, or even in modern times, but many fond memories of this game. And it didn’t need insane requirements, unlike say Quake. And it was surprisingly more fast paced than DooM. I wonder sometimes if they had released the source code to ROTT (2002) much sooner than ID released DooM (1997), or around the same time if it’d have achieved more retro popularity? Or was it more of as LAN game, and my experience with it kind of lacking in single player the prevalent feeling?

MechWarrior was at first this incredible 3D game where you could pilot a battle mech in the 31st century! How awesome! It changed the world from the table top rules of BattleTech – The Crescent Hawk’s Inception into something action based. Amazingly the genre for some reason never seems to get the massive appeal I always felt it should have. Although Mark Kern is trying to do something with Mechs & Kaiju over at Em-8er.

3D games like NASCAR Racing arriving in 1994 were really pushing the boundaries of what you could realistically do in MS-DOS with 3D. And of course Quake basically drew the boundary of MS-DOS into Windows with the primary reason being better and uniform 3D drivers. You need a STRONG MS-DOS machine for this, so for me at least DosBox in javascript on a 2006 Mac Pro just wasn’t really up to the task.

Turbo Out Run, a SEGA classic game. The graphics are … well caught in a world between 1987 and 1990. I guess they either didn’t want to push the PC too hard, or accidentally release a superior game on a non SEGA platform? It could have looked better. It should have sounded better. It’s ‘fine’ but I kind of call shenanigans. Golden Axe is way better.

So this is by no means an exhaustive list, I left out a LOT, as 2,500 is way too much to give any reasonable review without it turning into a book, but I scanned the first hundred or so and picked out what caught my eye.

Happy Friday Gamers!

I figure I may as well embrace the whole ‘games site‘ thing, so what the hell.

Since I do love some good SEGA I thought I’d pass along the information that the Dreamcast collection on Steam is 85% off! What a bargain!

I’d say my favorites here is Crazy Taxi & Jet Set Radio. While Nights was fun when the Saturn was fresh and new, it’s so annoyingly on rails, and without the special controller it’s just klunky. Sonic DX.. yuck. It suffers from all the 3d control issues that plauged the first gen 3d, although the worst ones are the PlayStation megaman, and that horrid ‘tank’ control of Resident Evil.

I’m thinking of doing something with the worst rated games on steam. So many people chasing the best, why not dive into the worst. Although I’m not AVGN but why not?

What is so bad about games anyways?

Seriously some people need to take life a little less seriously.

I ran into one of those weird things I’ve done before and needed the fix, and got this nice error from a customer site, ironically while they were talking about the latest South Park. Kind of funny TBH

Naturally my file archive is wide open. Go figure.

Yay pitiful censorship! And I’m not even talking about the Disney, Apple, Vans, NBA & Blizzard/Activision.

AVGN reviews Chex Quest

Okay that was funny. I never thought of even trying Brutal DooM + Chex Quest. Sounds awesome.

Although I’d played a little with Chex Quest before, I never tried it on the DooM source. Oddly enough it’s Ultimate DooM. In d_main.c you can do some simple test for chex.wad and pass it off as the ‘retail’ version.

	if ( !access (chex,R_OK) )
	{
		gamemode = retail;
		D_AddFile (chex);
		return;
	}

Or you can simply just rename chex.wad to doom.wad or doomu.wad. Many of the strings for DooM are compiled into the EXE, not taken from the WAD file (although it could have been, I guess it was to prevent people from making overtly cheeky mods?).

So firing up the wad under my crappy DooM port thing to MS-DOS (for the sane people just use some other Win64/OSX/Linux thing like zdoom), and when selecting an episode you’ll see the Ultimate DooM levels.

Chex Quest, Thy Flesh Consumed!

Wait? What? I though Chex Quest was a ‘total conversion’ WAD. Well it turns out that it is, and it isn’t. They replaced a lot of the default stuff from a retail version of Ultimate DooM. And what they didn’t replace, well it’s still there. And yes that does mean everything outside of the first 5 levels are the original DooM levels. And that includes the music as well!

E2M2 from Chex Quest

Well isn’t that surprising! And yes that means that it’s possible to just replace the first 5 levels with the default DooM levels and have that reverse conversion. In the same way the menu screens are very Chexy too:

It certainly gives that kid like feeling to it. Although the replacement Barrons of Hell are a little too big so they do look kind of silly.

E1M8

So as always I’m late to the party. I’m sure someone out there didn’t have the retail version of DooM and instead used Chex Quest for those LAN games. Although it does detect that the WAD has been modified so I don’t think it would just be all that fine.

Not that finding the original WAD files, or source to the maps, and just compiling them yourself is all that difficult, but I guess it is something else to load up.

Ion Fury released!

So I’ve been busy with the day job stuff, and although I had ordered this I haven’t had time to play Ion Fury until today.

And yes, I’m sure you’ve seen video of it all over, and it’s so out of place, as it squarely belongs in 1997. And it’s great. The musical oddity is using samples much like a MOD, instead of the full synth or CD sounds. But it’s all the more era appropriate that I’m sure with a 90MB data file it would have been on CD-ROM, although I guess in the day it’d have audio tracks that would be quickly lost in the mists of time like the Quake 1/2 soundtrack.

I’m absolute crap, but it was fun enough to play. Although I did get ‘lost’ in the fan service, I didn’t realize I could make those jumps between the giant fans in the ventilation area.

So yes, this being a 3-D Realms experience means it’s not on rails. And the maps feel absolutely massive, and just look so great.

$109 HKD or $13.89 USD!

And it’s pretty cheap too! Although I think that is the local pricing for Hong Kong. For just under $110 it’s a steal.

From the sales blurb:

· While Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison earned her codename defusing bombs for the Global Defense Force, when evil transhumanist mastermind Dr. Jadus Heskel unleashes the members of his cybernetic cult onto the streets of Neo DC, she knows it’s time to start causing explosions instead of preventing them.
· Her quest to slay Heskel leaves a trail of carnage throughout huge, multi-path levels filled with gigantic explosions, more secret areas than we can count, and inhuman foes behind every corner. There’s no regenerating health here; stop taking cover and start running and gunning.
· Shelly’s crusade to take down Heskel’s army will see her leave destruction in her wake with a wide arsenal of weapons, complete with alternate fire modes and different ammo types. Her signature revolver, the tri-barreled Loverboy, brings enemies pain and players pleasure with both single shots and Old West-style hammer fanning action. Who needs a regular shotgun when you can load buckshot into your grenade launcher? Violent, over-the-top Bowling Bombs rip enemies apart with ease.
· Ion Fury laughs at the idea of mandatory checkpoints and straight paths through shooting galleries. But, just because this is a true old-school first-person shooter doesn’t mean we’ve ignored all the good new stuff the last two decades have brought. Headshots? Hell yeah. More physics and interactivity? You betcha. Widescreen, controller support, and Auto Saves? 3D Realms and Voidpoint have taken the best of both worlds and cooked it all into a bloody stew.
· The true successor to classic shooters such as Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, and Blood. Experience the original BUILD engine on steroids, pumped up and ready to rock again after 20 years! Duck, jump, climb, swim, and blast your way through 7 exciting zones packed with multiple levels of mayhem!
A beautiful game world assembled from thousands of hand-crafted textures and sprites An awe-inspiring arsenal of devastating weapons, including multiple ammo types and alternate fire modes. Tri-barreled revolvers, grenade launchers, and heat-seeking smart bombs are your best friends!
The classic ’90s FPS action you love, meshed with modern inventions like locational damage and seamless level transitions ZERO PROCEDURAL GENERATION. All levels are hand made and full of multiple paths, cool effects, and complex set pieces!
Thumping soundtrack comprised of true tracked module music, in authentic FastTracker 2 format Easy access on to level editor and other development tools on day one, plus Steam Workshop support

For any Duke/Blood/Nam/TechWar fans really how could you pass Ion Fury by?

Bethesda DooM for the PC

$1.70 USD!

With all the excitement regarding the DRM, disapearing Xbox versions and the terrible music in the Unity port, I thought I’d check out the PC version that is thankfully on sale on Bethesda.net. I really have lost track the number of times I’ve bought this game, but here we go again. The last time I went through this was back in 2014, with the aptly titled: “Just how ‘original’ is the Ultimate Doom on steam?” story.

And much to my surprise they use the same version of DOSBox, 0.71, and have the same AdLib pre-config, along with the missing SETUP.EXE to allow you to change it.

HOWEVER, there is one big difference, the WAD file.

The steam version includes this wad file:

c4fe9fd920207691a9f493668e0a2083 doom.wad

Where the Bethesda.net uses this wad file:

e4f120eab6fb410a5b6e11c947832357 doom.wad

And looking on the DooM Wiki, that means that the wad file is from the PlayStation Network version.

Now with extra hell!

And it’s true they really did change the cross to a pill for the medical kit, per the red crosses request:

iD DooM on the left, Bethesda DooM on the right.

There is a few changes here and there but overall it looks pretty standard to me. Am I missing anything else?

Running SWGEmu Core3

You probably don’t want to do this. Unless you enjoy giant empty islands. Maybe you just want to play it on an inaccessible network. Maybe your social anxiety is so bad that you like the idea of playing a MMO alone. It’s probably not a good idea to do this, in that at the end you’ll get bored quickly, but here we go!

Using Ubuntu 16.04 the steps on github.com/TheAnswer/Core3 got me running quick enough. It is rather intense to built, and for the most part it’s pretty easy, although running documentation seems to be … elsewhere. I’m sure it is somewhere, but I have no idea where.

The big thing to do is update the galaxy binding in the mysql database to reflect either the LAN address for local play, or the WAN address if you are natting/hosting on the internet.

mysql -uswgemu -p123456 swgemu -e “update galaxy set address=’192.168.13.128′ where galaxy_id=2;”

And for the heck of it, I thought I’d build swgemu for both 16 (swgemu-binary-Ubuntu_16.04.6_LTS_x86_64.tar.gz) & 18 (swgemu-binary-Ubuntu_18.04.2_LTS_x86_64.tar.gz). Keeping in mind for 18, that mysql was dumped for mariadb, so you need different packages. For a fresh 16 server, it’d go something like this:

apt-get install openssh-server mkdir /tre chown swgemu:swgemu /tre (from a client machine) pscp *tre [email protected]:/tre apt-get install mysql-server screen libatomic1 libmysqlclient20 liblua5.3-0 tar -zxf swgemu-binary-Ubuntu_16.04.6_LTS_x86_64.tar.gz cd swgemu ./sqlstuff.sh mysql -uswgemu -p123456 swgemu -e "update galaxy set address='192.168.13.128' where galaxy_id=2;"

For version Ubuntu 18, you want the package mariadb-server & libmariadbclient18 instead of the mysql versions.

Make sure to set the TrePath!!!
vi conf/config.lua

Run the server, either under screen (./run.sh) or directly ./core3 if everything is going well, the [Core] will come up initialized..

(27 s) [AuctionManager] bazaar Checked 0 auction item(s) and updated 0 item(s)
(27 s) [AuctionManager] Bazaar terminal checks completed in 0ms
(27 s) [AuctionManager] Checking 0 vendor terminals
(27 s) [AuctionManager] vendor Checked 0 auction item(s) and updated 0 item(s)
(27 s) [AuctionManager] Vendor terminal checks completed in 0ms
(27 s) [AuctionManager] loaded auctionsMap of size: 0
(27 s) [FrsManager] ERROR - Unable to initialize frs manager, yavin4 disabled.
(27 s) [StatusServer] initialized
(27 s) [Core] initialized

After that, you can add the new server as a login server from the swgemu launcher, and start it up. By default it will allow anyone to create a user with any password.

self hosted swgemu!

And here we are, all alone.