Tuesday, July 6, 2010

v37.6: Gaming Update

Good morning folks,

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I haven't posted any gaming updates lately so I thought I'd make a quick post about what I've been up to with regards to gaming lately.  After all, this site is supposed to be senseless ramblings from a UNIX administrator and gamer.

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First off, I've decided to get rid of Windows entirely from my system.  I have been debating this decision for a few months and finally decided to take the plunge and get it done.  I've been happily running Linux on my desktop for the past month and am really enjoying it (again).  There are some things I needed to get used to again, but overall the experience has been fun.  I actually stayed up until 4AM over the weekend working on stuff which is something I haven't done in a very long time.  I remember the days when I used to be a hard-core Linux geek and would spend countless hours playing around on my Linux servers; those days died off shortly after I moved to Halifax and I haven't really spent a lot of time (outside of work) working on it.

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The biggest hurdle would have to be getting my games working in Linux.  Not just working, but working well.  Linux has quite a list of games available natively but for the games I enjoy playing (MMOs) there isn't a heck of a lot out there for Linux.  This means there is a lot of tweaking required to get things that run on a Windows machine to work well on a Linux machine.  I'm using Wine for the most part which is an application for Linux that allows for Windows programs to run.  It isn't perfect but it runs the games fairly well with some tweaks made.  In fact, the past couple days I've been working on getting one game in particular to work, Darkfall Online.  This game is relatively new and has a lot of features that I used to enjoy back in the mid 90s when Ultima Online first came out.  There are no levels to grind through, only skills which level up as you perform actions.  If you want to be a good sword fighter, you go out and start swinging a sword.  This creates a lot of flexibility in character dynamics and allows for characters to be very different from each other; something a lot of MMOs out there today are sorely lacking.

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In addition to Darkfall I am also playing Dungeons & Dragons Online.  This has been a fun change for me.  It isn't "Care Bear" easy like WoW which is a nice change of pace.  I haven't even thought about WoW since I started playing DDO and at this point, I have no intention of ever returning, even when the expansion hits later this year.  DDO is a Free-to-Play game.  This means you can download, install and play the game completely for free but some content requires points to unlock and open.  For example, in order to play in certain dungeons, you need to "buy" the adventure pack for that dungeon.  The adventure packs vary in price from a hundred points to several hundred points.  Once you've bought an adventure pack, it is unlocked for you for all characters on all servers for all time.  So rather than pay a monthly fee (which is available and unlocks everything for you), you can pick and choose which things you want to do and only buy the adventure packs you want.  In the end, you wind up only playing a fraction of the price to play and you have the option to leave out content you don't want.  Since the game is Free-to-Play, you never need to worry about a monthly subscription and it is quite easy to progress through the game without ever having to buy a single adventure pack.  Points are relatively cheap to buy and cost real money.  For $50 US you can buy several thousand points in the "DDO Store".  The DDO store is quite convenient as it sells all sorts of goodies like potions, armor, weapons and all sorts of things to help adventurers.  If you're in the middle of a dungeon and find yourself out of potions, you can simply click the DDO store icon, buy a few more with points and they immediately show up in your inventory so you can continue on.  You also do not need to buy points as you can earn points just by simply playing the game.  In fact, since I started playing DDO I've managed to get ~500 points just by questing and gaining favor.  You can even unlock some of the player races and classes just by playing the game.  Of course if you want to advance faster, you can buy the points but they are not required.

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Well folks, that's about all the time I have today.  I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and hopefully you all have a great week.  Until next time...

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Cheers,

Al