Malik (11/1/04)  

I think I finally got my PC repaired and back to the same state it was in only a week ago. So, I decided to press my luck, again, and put in the video capture card...this time with 100% success. So, starting today, I'm going to look into adding more images, and probably some video, to the Geek-Asylum. These changes probably won't be all that noticeable for a couple of days, since I need to look into some math dealing with my limited bandwidth and how much will be devoured by what size of video, and what resolution would be the best, etc. Basically, I need to just do the math on all of this, and I hate doing math. 

So, I'm playing away at GTA:SA, when I find the time, between PC repairs and all of the other little things that over complicate life. I have to say, for the most part, GTA:SA is a really great game with some much needed improvements over the previous GTA titles...however, some of the much needed improvements were still neglected...like some of the controls are still suffering, and causing me to suffer. The most noticeable of these comes down to flying a radio controlled airplane...I have never gotten so pissed off so quickly when playing a video game before. Basically, you still have almost no control of the plane, and in this mission you have limited fuel and several moving targets to blow up with nothing more than a machine gun. Plus, if all of that wasn't bad enough, after you take out your last target, you have to return the radio controlled piece of shit back to the place you started the mission (on a narrow area on the roof of a building). By the end, I thought that I had completely lost my grip on sanity. 

At least not all of GTA:SA is this crappy. In fact, the majority of what I've played this weekend was really fun and a big improvement over what we could find in the previous games. However, those reviews that give this game a massive 9.9/10, 5/5, 10/10, etc, are full of fan-boy-ism bullshit (just wait a few days, and I'll have my review/reply up and running). The game is good, but it is not the be all end all. While GTA:SA is definitely better than anything else in this genre, I don't see how one could call it perfect or almost perfect while so many of the old problems from as far back as GTA3 are still present (the camera needs some major work...still, and the aiming still has plenty of issues), plus there's a new flaw that is particularly annoying; the missions are usually insanely long. This wouldn't be so bad, except you have to drive a long distance (many times) to start a mission, and then the mission goes on for about 10 minutes, and then you'll have to wrap up the mission by driving to a final location, etc, and then you manage to blow up right as your nearing the finish location...which means you have to redo the whole damned thing. In a nut-shell, long missions with a high level of difficulty (this is not the easiest GTA, that's for sure) and the same crappy controls will leave you banging your head against the TV in frustration as you begin a mission for the 5th time in a row and realize that you've spent the last hour on the same damned mission. 

Anyway, I'm a little bitchy about this whole thing because of that radio-controlled airplane mission. I spent about 45 minutes on it and kept running out of fuel about 10 seconds prior to finishing the thing. In video games, there are two ultimate levels of frustration; there is frustration like the type one can get from trying to finish Contra in a single life, and then there is this type of frustration in which is doesn't come down to luck or skill, but rather you have to rely on the worst controls known to games to do such a retarded task (blow up 5 vehicles with a radio controlled airplane and then return the airplane to a roof and park it perfectly...why can't I just jump in my Cheetah, pull along side, and Uzi these targets into the ground? I mean I'll do it in an instant if it meant that I didn't have to fly that damned airplane...hell, I'd do it with my melee weapon if I could avoid radio controlled crap).

Anyway, as I said, the video capture deal is up and running (I did a little pseudo-TiVo last night with Adult Swim's ATHF marathon, and the test run looks good). So, my plan is going to include a short test run of some cool videos (like how to get the 2-player icon in GTA:SA, since it's a little hard to know where to look unless you either are told or spend a lot of time exploring the cities). So, this will be my first gambit. If it looks good, then I will start to make videos of good gaming moments a regular thing. Also, since the video capture is quite user friendly for screen shots, I think it's safe to say that my reviews without screen-shots will now officially come to an end. 

For those who are wondering about the more technical end of things; I went with a slightly more budget model of video capture ($70 instead of the average of about $125 for a video capture device/card); ATI TV Wonder Pro. It's a good affordable capture card (I went for PCI instead of a USB external device), that has some rather nice quality to it. In fact, it does perfect for capturing anything that could be shown on a standard TV. Plus, the included tools can handle about anything, and it's compatible with the Windows Movie Maker package that comes with Windows XP. Most importantly, I went with the ATI model since, after the hell of trying to get a generic card and a Pinnacle external device, I know the customer service is going to not fall out under me (unlike the shit that Pinnacle calls customer support). 

With all of this upgrading for the site, I think things may be a little skewed this week in terms of my regularly scheduled features (like Malik's Bitchings). I'll get in a M'sB if I can, but I'm going to try to be as dedicated as possible to video capture until I get the routine down. I figure one week of things not being down as usual is better than my usual lazy method of not getting anything new started until a couple of months after I claim that I'm starting it.


Malik (11/2/04)  

I didn't get half of the work done yesterday that I was wanting to do. At least I can say that it wasn't do to my own laziness...for once. After posting yesterday, I was going to start the whole initiation into having video up and running, but first I wanted to play some GTA:SA...I mean after working all day at my real job and then posting, I think I deserve a little time to play some games and relax. Anyway, after I played for about an hour, I spent the whole night doing the couple thing with Velveeta, playing the ultimate couple game; Heroes of Might and Magic 3. 

So, I wouldn't call the night a waste or anything, but it wasn't the work-aholic night I was planning on initially. Anyway, as a word of advise for the few geeks who actually have a significant other, Heroes 3 is the ultimate way to spend some couple time together. You can work together, play at a relaxed pace, talk while playing, blah, blah. 

Anyway, my goal for tonight is a little more focused. I'm going to get a template of the video page up and I'll attempt to get a trial video running. Anyway, try this link, and it should be up sometime soon if it isn't currently active. I was thinking the perfect video to try this out on would be the obvious oversight by Rockstar with GTA:SA; how to play two-player mode (it seems to have been neglected by the vague and confusing jumble of fake ads that is called the instructions). Anyway, how soon this is up and running all depends on one important thing...how quickly I can solve the problem of resolution, quality, size, and bandwidth...and since I (as I said yesterday) care not for math, this will be more of an effort of trial and error than just solving things with a pencil and paper and getting it done right quickly (I'd rather mess around for an hour and not think than just do some serious thinking and get it done in a tenth of the time). Also, if this works out, I'll start some more needed improvements, such as some other visual keys (pictures, etc) to elevate the boredom of a text only page (yeah, I'll admit some work is needed on the Asylum...but I'll also admit that I'm getting off my ass and will get this shit knocked out). 

Anyway, I'm going to get in a little San Andreas, before getting this real work underway...thankfully, I've yet to encounter another mission as thoroughly crappy as the model biplane. 


Malik (11/3/04)  

Another day, another lack of real news. LotR: The Third Age and Ratchet and Clank 3 have shipped...I don't give a shit. There are a bunch of new promo sites for Metroid Prime 2 which all rhyme with "ilovebees.com" (the Halo 2 promo/strange site)...yippee? I already know what games are coming out, and I know what games have shipped, and I know what is going gold, and I know that there are more hyped games than money and time available to enjoy them all, and I still simply can say; I don't give a shit. 

It's not that I don't like a good RPG, and LotR is supposed to be pretty good...it's that I don't have time for it (I have GTA:SA, and then Halo 2, and then Half-Life 2, and then the DS comes out, and Metroid Prime 2, and I need to go back to play Phantom Brave, and there's...see, it just keeps going). Also, I'm an old school RPG fan, and the thought of playing an RPG in which I don't have a wizard (there are only 5 of them in Middle Earth, and they are not part of your party in The Third Age) or a cleric or whatever just seems dull. Seriously, there are no characters of interest in this game. I've tried to look it over, and the characters are all fighters (or archers...same damned thing), they are mainly human (with 1 elf and 1 dwarf), and they all sound rather boring and dull. In fact, I don't even think this will be a game to go back to after I've taken down my backlog of games to play. 

Ok, enough bitching. I got a couple of videos up yesterday as a trial. I decided to go with some really low res/low quality, with no audio. It's not that I'm trying to skimp on quality, but I'm trying to conserve bandwidth...at least for now. The videos I got up yesterday are simple instructions on how to get 2-player mode unlock on GTA:SA either from the very beginning in Los Santos, or where there's a second location in the second major city of San Fierro. I think the videos are pretty self-explanatory, and are good enough quality to show what I was trying to show. However, I'm still trying to get a good layout for the video page. I've come up with a few concepts, but I was mainly just trying to get the videos up yesterday that I didn't want to waste any of my time on formatting of a web page. So, long story short, you can expect a few face-lifts to the video site in the next few days, until I have one that feels right to me. 

Speaking of which, if you have any suggestions, either about the videos (including the quality, format, etc) or the video page, feel free to tell me, or to just say it on the forums. I figure, for now, I was not trying to show off a game or a cool stunt, etc, so the quality could afford to be quite low. However, I will assume you now that if anything really cool happens that I put to video, I will try to boost the quality accordingly. 

On the same general note, I getting a review of GTA:SA wrapped up, and I'm in the process of editing and gathering some images for the final review. I should have this up in the next 24 hours, but if worse comes to worse, it may wait until Friday (when I will also post a Malik's Bitchings, after all...however, it will be a short one). Either way, it will be up before the end of the week. I know most people who are getting SA have already done so, but I feel like my opinion needs to be thrown into the very biased mix of reviews (too many are praising it a little too much...it's an awesome game, but it's definitely not perfect, and so it doesn't deserve 5/5 or 10/10 or even 9.9/10...just wait and you'll see). On the plus side, to get these pictures, I need to play some more, so I'm out like a mo-fo. 


Malik (11/4/04)  

Looking at Gamespot.com today, I saw an article on how Gamestop has stopped taking pre-orders for the DS and EB may soon follow suit. I, personally, wasn't expecting quite this big of a draw for the DS. But then again, I wasn't really thinking with the Mario-fanboy mindset, and was rather thinking of how few good games will be available when the system launches. Also, I've been unable to get it into my mind that it's Christmas shopping season with how frantic things have been for me lately. 

Also, on this same story, it seems that some DS games will be coming out prior to the DS launch...ok...ummm...maybe I'm just not getting it, but what is the freakin' point of buying a game before a system is available? I mean, in the past if a GBA game was to come out prior to the GBA launch (for example), then you could always play it on a Japanese GBA (no region lockout on the GBA, and I doubt the DS will have one either). However, the US launch of the DS is the first launching around the world for the DS. In other words, what is the point of launching some launch titles before a system's launch (and how many times can I say launch in one damned sentence?)? I would rather hold on to my money for that extra week than have a worthless piece of plastic that I can't do shit with for a week. 

Anyway, I guess there are two morals to this story. The first is that if you want a DS, then you better preorder with EB right away or you can play the gambling game (find an online store with no pre-order option and keep refreshing the page on the 21st until you can buy the system...it's how I got a launch PS2 off of Amazon). The second moral is that there is no reason for a game to come out prior to the system (a system without any games can at least, if it has backwards compatibility, play older games). This will probably be the big gift for kids this holiday season, so it might be better to error on the side of caution if you plan to jump into the realm of the DS anytime before 2005 (I know I'm going to drop some money on a pre-order or two today just to ensure I have more than a lame Metroid demo to keep me busy with my DS for the first month and a half). 

On a different note, I have finished the GTA:SA review. However, I'm still in the process of getting some fun screen shots of the game (now that I've entered into the late 1990's, in terms of my sites content abilities, I'm going to stick with it), which isn't too hard. I was going to do so last night, but I spent to much time getting pissed off at SA. 

Originally, last night, I played GTA:SA with one purpose in mind; to get some screen shots. However, I then came across a realization...I wanted to try the next Wu Zi Mu mission, which required more lung capacity (so I could swim underwater for longer). So, I started to train; which meant I would swim underwater until I almost would drown, and then swim back to shore. Next, I would take a pop-shot or two at a few beach goers and take their money (this would train my weapon skills). Then, when the cops got pissed, my breath meter would be recharged and I'd swim until my wanted level faded. Then I'd just repeat, over, and over...for about 2 hours. 

Then my lung capacity was large enough to take on this one mission. That was boring as shit...but the mission was cool. It involved a good deal of stealth swimming to a ship that was under constant surveillance. Then, I had to get on the boat and do a dozen stealth kills while looking for my target, and then I had to (with stealth, still) swim back to shore (this is a really cool mission and well worth having to spend all that time training your swimming to do) 

Then, I pressed my luck, and did the next Wu Zi Mu mission...and then I swore a lot...I'll just say that by the end of the mission, I had none of my original arsenal, and I had to blow over $25,000 to buy back all of my lost weapons (I only carry the best of all weapons; AK, Uzi, Sniper, Sawed-Off, Remote Detonators, D'Eagle...and with plenty of extra ammo, in case I feel like doing the violent thing or if I want to train with a weapon). So, I ended up just getting too pissed off to take any screen shots of the action last night. However, to keep up my new found sense of not being lazy, I will get the screen shots tonight, and either I'll post the review tonight, or it'll be up tomorrow. So, either way, it will be here before the week ends. Anyway, time to do the picture taking thing.


Malik (11/5/04)  

Last night I got some nice images for the GTA:SA review (which is good to go, except for the screen shots needing to be edited for size). So, before editing them, I decided to check out some stuff on the web. Well, my mouse is on a really short cable because of all the computer work I've done lately (the cable got snagged on something and I have been too lazy to free it), and my mouse accidentally led me to clicking on a search engine result that was obviously spammed. As soon as I clicked, I tried to hit stop, but I didn't make it in time... 

I got about 4 error reports at once. Then, I noticed my background on the Windows desktop had been changed to an active internet deal. Then, I noticed my Google task bar (which is my pop-up blocker) was gone and a new task bar was in it's place (the Elite task bar...note this name to avoid it). Then, I tried to click on My Computer and I got an error report. Then I got a bunch of pop-ups dealing with online gambling. Then I noticed that my home page had changed and it would not go back to anything I set it to. Then I noticed that I could not use Windows Update (I always avoided SP2 for Windows XP since I didn't like the firewall feature, but now I wanted it...I'd rather live in fear than have this shit happen). So, I installed Ad-Aware from Lava Soft (a great spyware destroyer), and tried to install Spybot...the Spybot site was banned by this spyware that was on my PC. I, since I had only recently reinstalled Windows, had neglected installing all of this earlier...and now it was too late. 

Ad-Aware found about 5 different types of spyware/malware on my machine that had all been installed at the same time last night. So, I removed them, only to see that the changes they made were permanent. So, I was left with a horrible set of options; either I could run my machine with no Windows Update, no My Computer (although I could reach it by typing "my computer" from Internet Explorer), and limited access to web sites...or I could reinstall Windows...along with everything I've installed in the last week since I previously reinstalled Windows. Well, the second option...sigh...won. So, I spent about 4 hours last night repairing all of this shit...four very long hours...including two installs of Windows, all of my drivers (sound, network, video, video capture, printer, scanner, etc), all of my important software (Frontpage, video capture software, image editing software, media players, codecs...I hate codecs..., bittorrent program, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, etc), and had to reprogram Windows to run smoothly (I hate the default settings)...FOUR DAMNED HOURS! 

So, my point in all of this is rather simple...if you know anyone who makes spyware/malware (especially if they are involved in the "DyFuKr" malware programming), go ahead and bring them to the monitor...all people who make spyware are dickless pieces of shit who are too damned cowardly and full of shit to actually do anything beyond being a malicious, conniving, worthless piece of shit that is too damned full of themselves to ever amount to anything. Spammers, virus coders, and spyware makers all have one thing in common that they cannot seem to grasp. This was best seen when a virus writer attached a resume (of sorts) to a virus and waited for an anti-virus firm to find them. I forget the specifics, but the anti-virus firm found the message (easily) and contacted the guy. The virus writer was excited until the cops came and dragged his sorry ass to jail. The reason, beyond this guy being a virus writing piece of human waste, that the anti-virus firm did not want to hire him was simple; Virus writing takes no skill and is about the laziest and teh gayest form of coding possible. Hell, almost anyone who can install Windows can write a virus, but most of us have enough common sense and enough humility to know that writing a virus doesn't make us the self proclaimed "god 2 f34r 4 his 1337 skilz!!!11111!!1". In other words; Virus coders, this is for you; Pull your damned worthless head, with it's knowledge of crappy programming, out of your ass and go f%^$ yourself. 

At least a spammer is better than a spyware writer or a virus coder. It's hard to avoid all spyware and viruses, since they can come from anywhere. On the other hand, someone who sends a worm via spam is not doing anything nearly as bad (not that I condone this chicken-shit behavior), since if someone is stupid enough to open an email from their grandchild promising "hot lesbian action" or "help to get out of debt" or "cheap v1agra", then they probably deserve anything bad that happens...hell, if I get an email that sounds like a form letter, no matter who it's from, I'm not going to be stupid enough to open the attachment that offers how to "make m1llions from home". Shit! If people are dumb enough to fall for this, then they deserve it. 

As I always say, don't use something if you don't know how to use it. In other words, if you don't know how to recognize spam emails from the real thing, then don't use email. If you don't know how to fill your gas tank on your sedan, then get the f%#^ off the road. If you cannot install Windows, then don't use Windows. If you don't know how to write real code, then don't write a f%&$ing piece of shit virus or spyware and call it real programming...U R not 1337, you worthless piece of shit, you are teh gay (I used language you f$%#ers might understand). 

So, speaking of all of this bitching, I have a new column of Malik's Bitchings up and running. Like I warned on Monday, it almost got postponed this week, and thus it ended up quite short (one topic). Anyway, I like it. But then again, I did write it. 

Also, I did write this review of GTA:SA. It is done...thankfully...and it has some images...thankfully...and it it not 100% biased crap like most reviews have been. I still love the game (it is one of the best games of the year, no doubt), but I can actually see through the hype and see the flaws that have continued to plague my time playing it. At least, looking on the bright side (for those people who think I'm too pessimistic), all of the Windows reinstall time gave me time to play some GTA:SA (and to, sadly, kill off one of my favorite enemies...the voice talent is gone...sigh...and, sorry, no spoilers here). Also, I've learned the hard way that trying to impress a woman in GTA:SA is about as hard as racing a low-rider all around Los Santos without spinning out once (first I needed more respect, then more fat, then more style...what do you want from me, virtual woman!?).

Anyway, check out the review, the Malik's Bitchings, the images, and (if you haven't already) the video section. Peace.