Friday, November 23, 2012

Discworld Noir: An Exercise in Futility.

Update 12-19-18

Here's some videos about the setup and beginning play. This does work on the latest versions of Virtualbox and React OS.

Update 3-21-18

Futzing around with ReactOS. Seems pretty stable. Played all the way through the intro and past Lewton and Carlotta's office banter with no crashes. AT FULL SCREEN! Now trying to figure out how to get the sound work consistently. Unfortunately on the rare occasion it does there's what sounds like a reverb on the voices.

Update 1-18-15

I spent some time in the past week loading up Windows 10 and trying out Discworld Noir. It was pretty frustrating at first because my test machine for some reason doesn't like DWN. I did everything. Even went into the registry to reroute all the paths and rename the file on the C drive. Let me tell you what, Windows 10 is not easy to learn for people who have been using Windows for about 15 years. (Any particular reason why Accessories needed to be renamed and moved to the bottom of the Start menu?) The test machine was a failure.

During the weekend I loaded Windows 10 on my main machine and Discworld Noir worked about as well as you'd expect. On a new game you have to play in windowed mode until you have control of Lewton then you can go back to full screen. An interesting tidbit for loading saved games I learned is that when you are on the title screen you can press F1 to bring up the menu and load a game that way. No crashing at full screen.

I did do some checking into the Debug Mode I heard about and couldn't find any results other than a forum of people more devoted to this game than I. No specifics on how to enable Debug Mode. I'll be honest, while I do like the game, the only real reason I continue to do such research on it is because it is the number one draw to this blog. Far surpassing sprites, foxgirls, magical frauleins, and bipolar vampire chicks.

Update 10.5.14

Ran a couple of tests on a tech preview of Windows Ten. Don't bother trying to install Discworld Noir. It is now too unstable to play for long. The only way I could get it to go is by clicking the "tin3_dxd.exe" file on the CD. Then it would crash randomly. The Playstation version does seem to work fairly decently. Just have to figure out how to properly configure the plugins.

I have no plans to mess with it beyond that. Maybe after the retail version of Windows 10 goes on sale I'll try to see if I can get Discworld Noir to work through a virtual machine.

Update 8.10-21-13.

Turns out I have been over thinking it the whole time. (Never thought I'd see the words "I" and "over thinking" in the same sentence.)  All you have to do is install it normally. Here is the catch: each and every time time you want to play it you have to click on "New Game." On top of that you need to hit Alt and Enter to put it Windowed Mode. Then hit Esc until you have control of Lewton. Now you can go back to full screen and press F1 to load a game. So far I have had only one crash to desktop, but that was totally my fault. I was trying to look up the Registry values in my Windows 8.1 test machine and compare them to the ones on my Win 7 machine.

You see I have been having an issue now for years trying to get Discworld Noir to run on my particular Win 7 rig. Turns out I needed to fix the entries in the Registry. Since I run 64 bit the keys are in a different place.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Perfect Entertainment\Discworld Noir
 After adjusting the "Paths" the game played fine, almost. Had to do the same process as detail above. (Note "Wow6432Node" Also note that this may (will) not represent your setup. I got involved in trying out the L-Space fix. On top of that I used ISOs I downloaded instead of the original disks I used on the 8.1 machine. I don't have the foggiest idea why it is this way in Win 7. I always test the 64 bit version of Win 8 and never had a problem with the game in that sense.)

On another note: I kinda sorta suggest getting the Discworld Noir no CD patch. I scanned it as it was downloading, I scanned it after downloading, I scanned it after unzipping, I scanned it after patching tin3_dxd.exe. So far nothing bad has happened. Makes the game much less of a hassle to play and I swear makes it a little more stable.



In other news: Discworld Noir is now up and running on Windows 8.

Here is what you need:
Windows 98 SE (Boy have those prices gone up.)

direct_x_9c-redist (Optional. I got the game to work without it.)
(I made sure to save copies if they should ever disappear off of the live web.)

Step 01: Install VMware Player.
Step 02: Set memory to 64MB and HDD to 5GB. (You can set it higher if you want.)
Step 03: Install Windows 98 SE on the virtual machine.
Step 04: Place VBE9X and SBPCI on Win 98 Desktop.
Step 05: Right click My Computer, Properties, Device Manager tab, Display adapters, double-click listed adapter, click Driver tab, Update Driver, Next, make sure “Search for a better driver...” is selected, click Next, deselect “Floppy...” and select “Specify a location,” click Browse, navigate to VBE9X folder and select “Uni,” click OK, keep clicking Next until done.
Step 06: Restart. (I forgot how much Win 98 loves to restart.)
Step 07: Double-click SBPCI and install.
Step 08: Restart, again.
Step 09: Install Discworld Noir.

Playing Discworld Noir:
When you start a new game you will need to hit Alt+Enter immediately after clicking on “NEW GAME.” For some reason during the opening sequences the game will crash to desktop. The graphics will be screwed up, but this is the only way to get past the crash zones. Once you see (if you can) Lewton standing in his office hit Alt+Enter again to go back to full screen. 
(Press the Esc key often to warp past all of this.)

I have not played the whole game so I have no idea where else the game may crash. So employ RPG Rule #1: SAVE OFTEN! Then there is a small issue with sound. The voices just aren't quite right. On my test machine they sound is if they are talking into a cup. Then with headphones they had a slight electronic sound to them. Oh well. It now works.

That is until Windows 9.

Be sure to click for a larger view to a thrill.
 Now back to your regularly scheduled and very wrong blog post.

What in the world ever made me think that I could play this game on Windows 7 and Windows 8? Well, the fact that I am playing it on Win 7. Now I'm not talking about the PlayStation version. That works on Win 7 and 8. Surprising since the emulator I use is about seven years old. However, while the PSX version is a more polished game, the PC version is more fun and easier to play. It was designed for a mouse not a controller.

The PC version of Discworld Noir presents a very unique challenge to play on modern systems. Hell, it was a chore to get it to run on Windows 98. Most of the conversation I found tended to center around running it natively or in DOSBox. That talk was several years old and didn't discuss newer operating systems.

So now I come in. I'm having a fun time playing this game on Win 7 I want to tell the whole world about it. Now comes a challenge. You see I don't have your standard setup that most people have. Most just buy their systems off the shelf. The most common version of Win 7 is Home 64 bit. The most common version of Windows 8 is Windows 8 64 bit. I wanted to give a clear concise set of instructions that anybody can follow to play Discworld Noir on their machine.

After about a day or so I gave up. I did get the game to play, but it ran like crap. I tried many different setups but each one failed in some way. I'm not going to bore you and describe each one, I'm going to to skip ahead to the ones that actually had some success. On Windows 7 using Virtual Box with Windows 98 installed. On Windows 8 using VMWare and Windows 98. In both instances I had to use an independent set of video drivers that really do not work all that well. The sound would be static-y or the video would be choppy. (By the way: VMWare doesn't have audio drivers for Win 98.)

I was disappointed.

Okay, now how am I playing Discworld Noir on Win 7? You see, Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 does work on Win 7 Pro and Ultimate. It has the drivers you need to run Windows 98.

What is the point in writing about a failure? Well, I'm hoping that some day someone a whole lot smarter than me may see this and go “Oh hell, all he needed to do was this.” Then comment in on how to fix things.

There are some bonuses to having done this project. I had to work with Windows 8 quite a bit. While it didn't win me over, I found it to be not as bad as I thought. There's this myth running around that Win 8 is just Win 7 with a Start Screen. No. No. I could not get Microsoft Virtual PC, WindowsVirtual PC, or Virtual Box to work on it. (Update: VB does work now on Win 8.) I found that the Start Screen to be really nothing more than the Start Menu with the functionality of the desktop.

I got introduced to a nifty little program called MagicISO. At first it's not obvious how to use it, but I was able to figure it out after awhile. The free version is fine for about 99% of everything you need to do. I had to use ISOs because Win 98 doesn't recognize thumbdrives and I have never been able to get shared folders to work.

The most important thing I did: After all these years I finally went out and bought a real copy of Discworld Noir.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 10.

Total number of panty shots: Two, maybe three.

At the end of the last volume we were told to expect this one in October. Well, October rolls around and nothing. Ironically enough not even by Halloween. (Though I think it is kind of poetic that a monster manga comes out on Election Day.) The most surprising thing was that it came out in electronic form first. I got an email from Viz saying so. I thought that was incredibly stupid. If they had changed the way the images were stored on the iPad I could see it, but they are still stored as individual JPEGs. They got it right before: Sell the hard copies for a couple of months and then release the digital version. This is the smart way because no doubt there is someone seeding torrent sites with official copies as I type this out. 

It was interesting to read it that way first. The backlight of the iPad really helped me see all the detail put into it. The screen size really enhances the readability of the manga format used by Viz Media. It is really-really nice to be able to read a page flat as it was intended without it having a bend.

Overall. The writing was a little hack in this volume. Explaining Fairy Tale's plan with Moka and Alucard twice. The whole boss rush thing. Character development did get pushed a little but was overshadowed by other elements. The background artwork was mostly outstanding but was punctuated by simplicity. Same with the characters. This is a technique employed by artists the world over. They work their asses of to put awesomeness out for a few pages and then switch to ink saving, time saving, writer's camp/carpal tunnel preventing giant head on white background. I did notice what seems to be a style change going on. It's in the eyes.

Did I say "Boss Rush?" Oy Vey. 

These types of stories get tedious after awhile. Made even more so because I am concurrently reading Oh My Goddess. Its boss rush is running somewhat similar to Rosavam's: The overwhelming power of the boss is defeated by the clever tactics of the goodguys. The badguys are really nothing more than monster-of-the-day with no backstory to make you care about what is going on. You do learn a little bit more about the goodguys, but it seems more of a retcon than anything else.

The first match starts off with the witch who really knows how to crack the whip: RUBY!

This match is so typical: Ruby gets her ass handed to her throughout. Ruby does get in a few blows. When it seems that Ruby is about to lose, Ruby uses her magical spell book to invoke science fact to win the day. I think it was a very clever way of teaching the reader a little bit about some of the properties of electricity.

 Then we have this:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Dirty Little Secret of Early Voting.

I am basing this on pure speculation backed up by a conversation I had with an election observer many years ago. The rules in my state probably have changed quite a bit since then. I certainly can't speak for whatever state or state of mind you're in, but I can speak for both of me.

I went in and early voted a few weeks ago. I did this for several reasons: What would the weather be like today? Would I get stuck somewhere far away from my polling place? I mean, the day I early voted I got stuck in a ten hour traffic jam. It was a HAZMAT spill that closed the only two roads through that section of town and evacuated another. On top of that some car got tangled up in the truck that was leaking. Fortunately no one was hurt. However the whole time I was worried the Taco Hell I had a few hours earlier would get me moving before the highway did.

Probably the best reason for early voting is you can time it so you don't have to wait in line. Go to your county elections office, vote, go get another taco.

When I went in something seemed amiss to me. We all had to fill out an absentee ballot request. Why? Give me the ballot for my precinct and enter my name in the computer as having voted. Then after voting I was instructed to fold my ballot (something would should NEVER do,) stuff it into an envelope, and then put it in into what possibly could be a secure ballot box. It was right then it hit me: my vote may not get counted.

My vote, my dad's vote, my brother's vote, my grandmother's vote, our friends' votes, everybody in the elections office that day, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the guy at the liquor store, and all the other people that early voted may not get our votes counted.


Laziness, mostly. You see, why do all that extra work if the margin of victory far exceeds the total number of provisional and absentee ballots? Even if the margin is less than the total uncounted ballots, then statistical analysis is used to avoid counting them all. One guy gets 1000 votes and the other has 900, what are the chances that 151 of the remaining 200 absentee ballots are going to the other guy?

So why vote at all? That's a decision you have to make. Remember: you get what you vote for. All I can really do at this point is get on my soapbox. Even if you are caught up in the aftermath of a hurricane, snowstorm, or a south of the border restaurant's stool softener of a secret sauce, put forth the effort. So what if your state is called for the candidate you're voting for or against months in advance? There's other races, initiatives, propositions, and constitutional amendments. There's also momentum. If a candidate wins by only a small margin or in some rare cases by fewer votes. He or she can't push their agenda forward as easily if they had a landslide.

Do you want him to have a mandate because you didn't even try?

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Hard Headed Holdout for Hard Copies.

Something to keep in mind: as I write this out I am currently downloading the last couple of episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Why? Because the brand new disk I bought is so screwed up the last couple episodes are unwatchable.

Each generation is a tween generation. My dad had to go the the movie theater to watch movies. Then he stopped doing that because in the 1980's you could buy them and watch them on TV. His dad got to live in a time period in which we went from the horse and buggy, to cars, to watching a man walk on the Moon, on TV!

My generation saw the computer go from a $2000 typewriter to a $200 movie theater. Going from however much the Encyclopedia Britannica cost to free on Wikipedia. Now you can recycle those voluminous volumes and make more space for movies, books, magazines... ...but, you can now get all that on your computer.

I must say, I'm going to miss looking at my book shelves and seeing them full of all the books and movies I bought. I look over and see Arthur C. Clarke, Terry Pratchett, J.A. Jance, House, The Closer, G.I. Joe, Transformers: Victory, Haruhi Suzumiya, Oh My Goddess, Rosario Vampire, and lots more. Soon it's going to be terabyte hard drives. Even then, how long is it going to be before the online storage companies can give you terabytes of storage? With all this you can by stuff on the web, how long is it going to be before all brick and mortar stores disappear? Suncoast and Borders are gone. Best Buy is cutting way back. Even Hastings slacking off on stocking the newest greats.

Why buy a movie, book, or video game that you really only use once and it sits on a shelf taking up space that you can use for something else? A thumb drive the size of five cents worth of cents can hold all 18981 cents (not counting tax) worth of 450 square inches of Rosario Vampire books.

(How long are we even going to still have pennies anyway?)

What I'm going to miss a lot is the thrill of the chase. Going from store to store all over town and all over several towns. Searching for that one place that has what I'm looking for and rewarding them with my money. While I'm in each place no doubt I will find something else that grabs my attention and I might buy that as well. I went into one place looking for Yuki-Chan and came out with Madoka and Outland. Ironically that is what annoys me about iTunes and Amazon. I type in my request and they give my hundreds of suggestions other than what I'm looking for. Don't misspell it. They'll just say we don't have Paula Madako. In a real life even if you don't have the right spelling, at least you'll be in the general area. Of course the may file Haruhi under H.

The thing I will miss most of all is supporting my local businesses. I really believe in that. I want them to stay open and do what they do best: make money and give people jobs. If I and everybody else buys Family Guy on iTunes, why should Hastings, Best Buy, or even Wal-Mart hang around? I've already seen a lot of cutting back. The economy has been crappy for the last five years, but with Netflix and Amazon on the scene, it gets harder and harder to justify stocking stuff that barely sells.

Thinking about it a little deeper, there's a lot involved in tracking down Family Guy Volume 10. I get in my vehicle that I bought from a local dealer. It needs gas which I buy locally. (Okay, I admit, not so locally because my town doesn't have the best prices, it's the next town over.) My car's dirty, and I'm not using MY water to clean it. So of to the car wash. I usually use an automatic wash because that way I can get a good coat of wax and tire shine put on. The automatic car washes, the gas stations, and car dealers all employ people and pay them for their services. Of course I pay them for their services. Oh, and I forgot: in order to buy that vehicle, I needed a loan. So off to the bank.

Look at all those people and local businesses that I have already supported and I haven't even made it to Hastings, Best Buy, or some used video store that bought out all of Hollywood Video's stock.

Then again what do I do if all 5 Wal-Marts, 5 Hastings, both Best Buys, all the second hand books and videos, and numerous pawnshops don't have what I'm looking for. Or worse yet, disk three of Makado is crap? That leads into next time's discussion.