Malik  (8/20/04)

It's Friday again, so here we find ourselves, once again, in my bitchy mind.  I personally found one of these items to be of great importance to myself...that being about the corruption of GTA by Rockstar.  However, I offer a nice variety, today, of different aspects of the geek life.    On one hand, we have gaming with GTA, on another hand we have upgrading and compatibility bullshit, and on the third hand (when you're sleep deprived, you're allowed as many hands as you want) we have the crap of the email providers currently out there.  Anyway, as you all know, I'm Malik and I'll be your host for tonight.

We Just Weren't Compatible 

Despite how many of my friends told me to do otherwise, I was using Windows 98 Update for the last couple of years. I kept getting the warnings from my friends that my OS was crappy and obsolete, but I didn't listen. I mean, why should I spend $100 to upgrade to XP when everything is compatible with 98 Update and newer Windows platforms? Maybe, just maybe, because most manufacturers of hardware are lying whores. 

So, this last weekend, I finally hit the wall. I had started to a do a good deal of Bit-Torrent downloads, and my client of choice (ABC) kept crashing. I looked at the options and found one that mentioned if you have too many open ports at once, older OSes, like 98 Update, could cause the program to crash. So, I tried to lower the maximum number of open ports that ABC had access to...what do you know, it stopped freezing and crashing. So, when City of Heroes kept losing it's connection to the MapServer, and my Comcast fix (check out last weeks posts) didn't fully fix it, I decided maybe 98 Update had to be the blame. 

That's when I bought the upgrade to XP. After upgrading, some of my hardware failed on me. So, I decided to install from the driver disks. This is something I never did fully before, since the driver CDs for my motherboard (including my NIC), my sound card, and a few other drivers would never install correctly...instead, they would just crash my PC during the install. So, after popping in each CD, I went through the install processes and had no hang ups. However, when looking at the drivers and original packages for my hardware components that needed a fresh install on XP, I could clearly see that they all required Windows 98 Update or better for the OS requirement. 

So, what's my beef? It's simply that hardware manufacturers are a bunch of lying whores. When Shuttle said my motherboard and it's drivers were 98 Update compatible, and they failed on 98 Update but worked on XP...and then my drivers from Creative Labs for my sound card, which is 98 Update "compatible" and it worked on XP but not 98 Update...well, you see the trend, right? Is there really a purpose in lying so blatantly like this? True, I did get these items to work previously on my 98 Update OS...but that was only after downloading some custom drivers from some of the more geekish of tech support sites (the ones that are ran by some dedicated geeks who get paid nothing more than with a sense of geekish satisfaction at making their own drivers and customer support sites for people who aren't their customers). 


As I learned, the main solution for anything, is to always rely on the true geeks. However, that was my personal solution. If I didn't have another PC to download my NIC drivers from, I would have never got my Internet connection running while I was running under 98 Update. There is no reason that you should not be able to believe a hardware manufacturer when they say your OS can handle their product...well, logically there isn't. What do they have to gain by lying...only a headache from those who go to customer support before hitting up the geeks for the solution to some really crappy advise on what is required. 

However, the real solution to this crap would be something more along the lines of hardware manufacturers actually testing their products on all of the required systems that they say can handle it. I mean, what ever happened to quality testing and quality assurance? That is where the real solutions should be other words, those who make a product, should ensure that their product will work as specified. Blah.

It Won't End 

Recently at, they had a poll on what people are most anticipating for GTA:SA. The options include; "Swimming", "Riding a bike", "Home invasion", "Getting tattoos", "Rollin' around Los Santos", and "Pigging out on junk food". Why is it that I see some bad things in the future for GTA:SA. I mean some of these options are not that bad, but others just make me cringe...especially considering some people are actually looking forward to them. 

The bike riding will be a fun little diversion...for the first half-hour. After that, it will be as exciting as riding a Fagio around in GTA:VC...which is to say, that when you're being chased by the cops, you will probably not chose the bike over running on foot. This is just not a major addition to the GTA game play and it's not something to get hyped about. Unlike the motorcycles or helicopters of VC, the bike is not adding a new vehicle as much as a really stripped down version of the good old motorcycles. As for the ability to do some tricks and shit on the bikes of SA...this is GTA, not a freakin' extreme sports game like Dave Mirra BMX, so this is not needed. 

The swimming, I will admit, has some potential. However, it all depends on how the controls are put in place for going from one part of the SA state to another. If there are boundaries in place, like there were in the previous 2 GTA titles, then swimming may be a bad thing. I personally don't think the ability to go everywhere from the beginning would be a good idea. Part of the fun of the previous two games was how you would work your way into new areas. It served as a reward system that also kept the hidden packages under control. Without a boundary system, the balance of the game play could go to crap when all the hidden packages could be found prior to starting any of the real missions. 

Now, the home invasions seem like they could be fun...once again, for the first 30 minutes. GTA is not about robbing homes; it's about working your way up and out of the lower crime life to the big time. The home invasions would only be as important, to the overall experience, as the robberies were in GTA:VC...I know of no one who actually gave a shit about them. You didn't get enough money, the challenge was not all the much (there was always a pay-n-spray nearby), and the thrill was minimal. Also, with the movies I've seen of SA, I can already tell that the interior designs are quite lacking and have a bit too much of a Max Payne feel to them...which is to say, they don't have a GTA feel to them. 

As for the whole getting tattoos, getting a hair cut, or whatever things you can do to alter your image...blah. Who honestly cares. In the end, it's as important of a feature of getting a purple GCN versus getting a black GCN. It won't affect the game play and it wont do anything special beyond making you feel more like you have total control over the world...despite the fact that you don't. This is not really a bad feature, I should add. Since you don't actually have to worry about any changes to the game play, it doesn't matter one way or another. 

On the same note, the setting wont really make too much of a difference on the game play. I mean as long as it's set in some nice sprawling metropolis type setting, it's GTA and it's all good. I mean, what does it matter if it's one type of town or another...East side, West side, South side...who really cares. In the end, the location doesn't matter anywhere as much as what the city/state is actually like in game play. I mean with VC everyone got excited about playing in Florida (or a Florida inspired city, I should say), but did that really pan out in the end? I think not...I mean all you need to do is remember the complete lack of hills and the one-dimensional aspects of the land. There was nothing to really keep one interested in the same ways that Liberty City had. LC had big hills, cliffs, rivers, gorges, wilderness, a subway system, etc. It's not the setting that matters nearly as much as the application of the setting and the exploration options it brings about...hell, this could be set in an imaginary metropolis in Alaska and I'd love it as long as the city or state actually had more than one-dimensional (that being the lack of a third dimension) aspect to it. 

Lastly, there is the issue of food. Ok, I play certain games for certain reasons. In The Sims, I like to eat and sleep. In Tony Hawk, I like to pull insane tricks as I jump across a massive gap. In GTA, I like to do missions and explore...and, of course, go on crazy rampages. You'll notice, I didn't say I want to play GTA to have a requirement of eating. In fact, besides how this can alter your appearance (which, as I said above, is all well and good since it won't change the game play), it will only serve to bog the game down with pointless hunting for food. I know that when I started a rampage (not as in the in game special bonus rampage missions...just total chaos in a crime spree type of setting) of sorts on VC or GTA3, it could last for (in game time) a week or more before I either gave up, got busted, died, or hit the pay-n-spray. What will this mean in GTA:SA? Simply...half way through my rampage, I will have to find food or suffer a quick end to the chaos when I no longer can handle a firearm or run like hell from looking like a Somalia refugee. This will affect the game play horribly. Plus, while you spend some time hunting for hidden packages, hidden weapons, or just learning the layout of the world, you will have to take many unneeded breaks to keep poor old CJ full and not chunky. There are many good ways to add time to a is never one of them. Hell...if you look at Dark Cloud and DC2, you will see that they removed their equivalent to food (the thirst meter). Why would they do this, unless they noticed how much it messed up what should be a great game experience? Actually, that would be the reason. 


People buy GTA games because they have a lot to offer. If you add more to the table, you will only result in having a poorly designed game that cannot tell what genre it belongs to. As the old saying goes, "too many cooks spoil the broth". Well, too many features spoil a good game. 

Considering how the GTA series will obviously be around for another dozen sequels, it would be best to offer a smaller number of new features at once, and then adjust the next title according to what works and what doesn't. With this massive offering of new features, Rockstar is setting themselves up for a fall. If the game is not received favorably, it will be far harder to create another GTA title when it's harder to pinpoint the true problems from SA (even if the fans become vocal and say X ruined the could be a mixture of feature X when feature Y is present and the real solution would be to remove feature Y and to leave feature X the saying goes; the whole game could be more than just the sum of it's parts). So, in a nut-shell, the real solution is for GTA to remain true to it's own self. This means eliminating all ideas of food (or possible future ones of sleep, drinking, or whatever else Rockstar can see working for The Sims), tricks on your bicycle, and all other un-GTA features. I've pre-ordered GTA:SA with GTA in mind...not some lame ass hybrid of The Sims, GTA, Max Payne, Dave Mirra, Manhunt, and Postal. I just hope these new features don't kill what has been a hella sweet franchise. 

Also, for that poll on proper choice to vote for would be the invisible one; "More of the good old GTA franchise that so rarely disappoints". 

The Email Game...A Game of Only Losers 

I know this is a little off topic, since I like to keep things focused (even though I often fail...) on gaming. However, this is something that is just beginning to drive me insane with frustration...that being the lack of quality on email providers. I especially mention this since, while I have the email, I cannot check some of my email at all locations unless it's a web-based one (which is also why, if you have a need to contact me, I will not be able to get back to you immediately, blah, blah). 

Anyway, on one front, we have my favorite (let's start on the best note); Yahoo. While Yahoo does a great job of having a good bandwidth and constantly reliable servers, they fail in one very important area; Spam. When I take the time to mark a message as spam, I like for my email provider to remember that...and the same goes for when I mark something as not spam. I've missed far too many emails in the last month or so as Yahoo keeps sending stuff I mark as "not spam" as spam. At the same time, my inbox is exploding as certain emails, that are always from the same address, are being marked as spam but not being treated any differently than a clean message from one of actual contacts. This is beginning to eat away at my sanity as I miss out on important emails (or at least find them too late to respond) as they get sent to my junk mail folder. 

However, at least Yahoo has Hotmail beat in the storage space and the constantly running server situations. Hotmail, which has lag-prone servers (how many times a day do I get the "Server busy. Try again later." message?), no storage space, and plenty of empty promises. Empty promises? Yup. Hotmail promised an email would come in two weeks to let me know about my increased storage of 250MB...that 2 week deadline passed a month ago...and I know of people who had this deadline pass over 2 months ago. When I contacted Hotmail about this, instead of an answer to the question of where my extra space was, I got a reply that said, in very polite wording, something along the lines of, "I have no clue...but it's coming...someday". At the same time, Hotmail keeps crowding my overfull inbox (that's at an antiquated 2MB) with amazing announcements about the many new features, like better virus protection (which I have the best protection already in place; it's called I don't open attachments without checking out the sender first...that and I can't receive attachments with my tiny 2MB...maybe that was Hotmail's way of getting rid of viruses). Best of all, these announcements from Hotmail fill up the tiny sliver of space I have remaining. This amount of space may have been nice back when I got my first Hotmail account...back when a 500MB hard drive was beyond hi-tech...but this just doesn't cut it now that 2MB is less memory than a common portable storage device. 

Then there is Google's offering. While Google did have some problems beyond their control (namely, that would be California's government), now that things are up and running, there seems to be no end to the Gmail beta testing. Seriously, I may be a bit on the ignorant ways of email (which I'm not), but should an email service require more time with a beta test than many video games? I think not. 

Meanwhile, many of the other free email services are going belly up or changing their policies to be paid services (who in their right mind would pay for email when there is so much free email out there?). 


The world, or the Internet world I should say, needs a sharp wake up call. Yahoo needs to tweak their service to actually block certain addresses when you mark them as spam. Hotmail needs to stop jerking us around and stop acting all high and mighty when they offer new virus protection (which any email provider will give you for free) as the solution to forgetting their promises of upgrading to an inbox size that is no longer pathetic for the mid-90's. Last of all, Google needs to get over how cool they are, and yet being so overly cautious, and just release their shit already to the public. 

Ok, that's the end of my way off topic bitching. 


I'm still most bitchy about any new developments on GTA:SA. But that's for a really good reason; Rockstar has some retarded concept of making a cash-cow franchise into something that it's not. How stupid do you have to be to turn something as straight forward as GTA into a mix of Manhunt, The Sims, a Richard Simmons infomercial, and a slight bit of character creation from an MMORPG? I'd say pretty damned stupid. If this keeps up, and Rockstar doesn't release some news about GTA:SA that makes the game sound good...sigh...I won't do a damned thing, but I know I'll be playing VC after SA to remind me of what a good GTA is like...then I'll play GTA3 to remind me of what a great GTA game is like. At least it's based on California, which is not completely flat like Florida (GTA without hills = GTA with reduced fun). Anyway, if you've got a problem, you know what to do...and them you can feel free to write me you little opinion or put it on the forums