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One word: Ravenholm

Oh my word, people – the Half Life 2 VR mod has just been released in beta and it is a BLAST. I haven’t encountered a bug yet and I’ve got as far as driving down the coast blowing up ant lions.

Well, I mean, I guess ant lions are bugs.

The original is 18 years old (wow! really?) and the textures are a bit jarring in VR, but the gameplay is spectacular. The team promises to release regular tweaks. It’s a fan project and it’s free, which is awesome. And good on Valve for letting them do it.

And thank you to everyone who weighed in on my USB issues. I’ve been reading up on power supplies. One article that said a gaming rig should have a 1000 watt power supply. Mine is 500, so that seems the likely culprit. I mean, it probably doesn’t qualify as a gaming rig in 2022, but it’s still likely underpowered.

Now I have to bull my way through the specs and pick one.

Oh, hey, Windows invited me to install Windows 11 today. First time. Anybody taken the plunge yet? I’m…dubious.

Good weekend, all!

September 23, 2022 — 4:45 pm
Comments: 14

Welp, you know where to find me

The VR version of Skyrim went on discount today, so that’s the last Uncle B will see of me for a while. The reviews recommended waiting until it was on sale because the game, out of the box, is complete shit and it would be a shame to reward the developers for it.

No kidding, it requires on the order of 150 after-market modifications to be a good game. Someone even wrote a program to download and install mod packages for you, though I don’t imagine it’s as easy as all that. My experience with mods is that about half of them break a game.

One reviewer said he gave up on the whole thing because he was spending all his time fiddling with mods. Sounds like a challenge.

I paid full price for Half Life: Alyx and I’m glad I did. Valve’s team deserves every penny. I’m playing it through with the developer commentary this time and I’m amazed at the care that went into building an exact user experience.

If playtesters weren’t giving them the reaction they wanted from a specific scenario, they tweaked and tested until they got it.

On the other hand, if a surprise popped up and testers love it, they leaned into it. In all, an extraordinary game.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

May 27, 2022 — 7:00 pm
Comments: 13

Didja miss me?

I hope you enjoyed our little Wordle interlude. I thought about extending it another week, but I was afraid it might be getting stale.

Yes. This is what I did in my time off: Half Life Alyx. It was the third major Half Life title and the first VR title for Valve.

It was spectacular.

I’m playing it through a second time beginning today, listening to the developer commentary. They spent two years play-testing the opening scene, which is walking from a balcony though an apartment. Nothing happens. But they knew it would be many people’s first experience of VR, so some would spend a lot of time picking stuff up and playing with it (yes I did).

And still they had to convey lots right away about the atmosphere, the city, the backstory, the mission, the scale of the world. Among other things, it was supposed to make me understand when the game takes place (between Half Life 1 and 2). I didn’t pick up on it until the commentary. A hard thing to do, teach things to a weasel.

They made some fantastic choices. Like, to reload your pistol, you have to thumb a button to eject the empty magazine, reach behind your head to grab a full one, jam it in the magazine well and rack the slide. While running away from headcrab zombies. At the beginning of the game, play-testers panic and fumble and die so much they wanted to simplify it, but people loved it. It you feel like you’re doing a real thing. And you get better.

It’s a shame there aren’t more fabulously wealthy AAA game companies that can afford to spend two years on a few minutes of exposition.

p.s. The weather in the real world was lovely. I sat in the sun a lot.

May 9, 2022 — 7:03 pm
Comments: 3

Today’s word is a random word

And I don’t know what it is!

May 6, 2022 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 13

Awww…

May 5, 2022 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 8

Little stiff this morning

May 4, 2022 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 10

What up, _____?

It’s not so much that the copy and paste of your scores doesn’t work, it’s that my blog won’t let you post pictures in a comment thread. I’ve tried to find a way around that (I’d love you people to post pictures in my comments), but no luck so far.

May 3, 2022 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 12

Hey, I know!

I thought for sure by now someone would have come up with an easy WordPress plugin to make Wordles. Yes, they do…erm, but “wordle” is what some people call those word cloud things. That wasted a lot of googling.

Finally, I rummaged up a link to a standalone “make your own Wordle” page and then had to learn how to embed a live web page within my post. I HAD TO LEARN SOMETHING, PEOPLE! It was awful.

I think this will work. Let me know if it doesn’t. Sorry it temporarily ruins my monochrome blog, but weasels can’t be choosers.

Oh! All credit to the site that created the page I’m embedding: strivemath.com. Seems to be a cool math visualization site for kids.

Ready? GO!

May 2, 2022 — 7:43 pm
Comments: 23

If I wanted to get some exercise I wouldn’t be playing vidya games

Oh my giddy aunt! It’s the next great innovation in computing technology.

In case you can’t tell what’s going on here, you can strap your phone to your ankle and walk in your VR games. So in case you don’t look quite stupid enough inexplicably waggling your head back and forth and waving your arms about, you can now do it while you march in place like a first grader doing the Horsey Dance. Score!

The program is called Natural Locomotion and it’s a tenner on Steam. Those who gave it a thumbs up said it made the motion sickness cease and open world games like Skyrim became super immersive, but you owe it to yourself to hit the link for the video of what it’s like to watch someone use it.

This has to be the biggest disconnect between what-it-feels-like-to-experience-a-thing and what-it-feels-like-to-observe-a-thing-being-experienced since public sex.

I’ll have to download the demo and give it a try. Natural Locomotion, not the other thing.

April 5, 2022 — 6:19 pm
Comments: 17

Handsy

The Oculus headset has cameras all around the edges. This means, for example, you can “pass through” a ghostly image of the room you’re in by double-tapping the side of the headset (that’s right, Uncle B – I can *see* you make fun of me).

It can also do pretty good hand tracking. Usually, you control the beast with those Jetson’s-looking controller doohickies, but you can also set them down and use your hands.

Hand Physics Lab is a game built around hand tracking. It’s freaky. The tracking is imperfect enough to make it a challenge (man, I was throwing them apples all over the place instead of placing them in the bowl). But it’s a lot of fun.

I am assured I look amazingly stupid wiggling my fingers in the air. I mean, nobody looks good wearing a VR rig, but this is exceptionally ridiculous.

Ironically, because of the cameras, you can’t play Oculus in the dark. I’m’a wait for daylight to get better tracking.

Covid? Pff! I feel like I have a moderate headcold. I think I’ll take tomorrow off, though, and then see about Friday. No sense spreading my germs around.

March 23, 2022 — 8:33 pm
Comments: 13