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19th May: The Tyranid Tinkerer

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6th May 2019

It's been a long while since the story section last had any attention. A while back, I gave up on the idea of ever finishing my Star Wars stories, so instead have typed out a rough outline as to what may have happened during the rest of the saga. I've also expanded the names & characters section with images where possible.

29th October 2017

Did some work behind the scenes of the game blog page so that the game filters now work much better.

30th June 2017

A couple of months back I found loads of old notes about all the old Epic Space Marine games we played, starting from back when I was in high school. I thought it would be a good idea to type them all up as best I could, and upload them all. While I was at it, I also converted the Epic-S and 40K battle reports from their PDF state to HTML, and they can be found on the Warhammer 40K page.

Computer Games Blog

This is where you can read any of my irregular wafflings about computer gaming. The whole point of this blog is to help motivate me to properly finish games, whether they be recent ones or older ones I played when I was younger that I never managed to beat.

10th March 2019 - Heading On Down To Tinker Town

Much like this time last year, I've been finding it really difficult to get into any computer games. However, unlike last year, I've actually been trying really hard to find something to get my teeth into. As most of these games are quite old, I've been plunging in to the deep depths of emulation in order to play them, and having some interesting adventures along the way.

Now, I've never really been tempted at all to play over-the-shoulder style Resident Evil games, but all the hype surrounding the remade Resident Evil 2 got me wondering. I grabbed a very cheap copy of Resident Evil 4 from ebay, as it is widely considered to be the best of that type.
As it is an XP game, I first installed it on my old XP laptop, but couldn't get any more than 15 frames per second. Thinking it may be something to do with mobile graphics, I dusted off my old XP tower that has been in storage since the mid 2000s, and tried to play it on that instead. First I had to sort out a very noisy graphics card fan, which needed some much needed oil, before I could even stand to give power to the old monstrosity.
Unfortunately, after installing, I was again faced with a very clunky and slow game that just sat at 15 FPS. I ended up having to install it on my current computer, and luckily it seems to work ok. However, I'm unhappy that it doesn't have mouse controls, and the mouse control patch I downloaded doesn't seem to work, so I'll have to use a joypad. Sigh.
I've only run around a bit at the start of the game, and I'm not sure if I'll get around to this any time soon, but at least I know it will be playable.

Still works after more than a decade in the loft...

Still works after more than a decade in the loft...

...though it needed a good clean.

...though it needed a good clean.

Well, this place looks inviting

Well, this place looks inviting

Run free, little doge

Run free, little doge

I only have three PS1 games that I never finished, and about 6 months ago I had a look at trying to do just that with one of them, which was the very first Grand Theft Auto. When I first picked it up in the late 90s, I had a few weeks when I played it quite a lot, but I never tried to finish it. I just spent time driving round, being an idiot and getting into trouble. I think I only remember getting on to the second map once, and didn't like it as I was so used to the first one, so never bothered getting any further.

Fast forward to last year, and I booted it up on my PS3 to give it a long due proper attempt, but I just couldn't play it. The frame rate was so low, and its weird constant zooming in and out style just made me feel so sick.
A few weeks back I had the plan of trying the PC version, so again got a cheap copy from ebay, and installed it using DOSBox. While it's a little better, it still has all the same issues sadly. I think most of the slow down and jankinees is because of the zooming in and out, and while I found a cheat that let me zoom in and out manually, it only seemed to work while I was stationary, and when I started to move, the game resumed the auto zooming.
Also, for some weird reason, the game (or DOSBox) pays no attention when I try to limit the frame rate, which I tried to do just to try and smooth it out a bit.

Oh well. Whatever. It's not like I haven't got dozens of other games to try and finish instead.

Drivin' around town

Drivin' around town

Getting decked by some random dude on the street

Getting decked by some random dude on the street

I had a look through my PS2 game collection, and found I only have one that I have not finished. This game, which I don't remember even playing (it was a gift) is True Crime: Streets Of LA. It was about this time I started thinking about emulation, as I've always got on quite well with WinUAE for my old Amiga games. I also like the idea of getting some screenshots, which I can't do on the PS2. I quickly discovered that PCSX2 is the main one that people use for PS2 games.

After reading how to set it up and going through all the steps, and using ImgBurn for the first time rip my discs, I was pissed to find that True Crime is one of the few games that the emulator does not like.
Again, oh well.

However, I had mentioned to Scoob a while back that I really fancied playing a bit of an old PS2 wrestling game we used to play a lot called Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain. This one loaded up no problem, but the game was really blurry, and on screenshots there was this really weird "ghosting" effect, that I think was from the interlacing from games back then.

A bit more reading was required, but I eventually learned how to not just turn off that weird doubling effect, but also turn the rendering resolution up so the graphics look better than they are supposed to. In this regard, the emulator seems to be pretty cool, and I'll have to create my own character again so me and Scoob can do some stomping.

Thinking about it, it's a shame I didn't look into emulation back when I played Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Probably would have been a lot better on my PC than on the PS2 itself.

Blurry ghosts

Blurry ghosts

No blurry ghosts, and higher graphics

No blurry ghosts, and higher graphics

Continuing with this trend of emulators, I thought about a PS1 emulator, so maybe I could get that version of GTA running better as well. I discovered RetroArch, which not only emulates the PS1, but can also do so for loads of old consoles. However, it was the PS1 I was interested in.

This one was a bit more awkward to set up than the very simple PCSX2, but I got GTA working on it eventually. Unfortunately, the game was no better on this either, so I just gave up on it entirely.

While I had got the emulator downloaded and running, I decided to try another one of my old PS games that I never finished, being Gran Turismo. In fact, I barely touched this back in the day, which is kinda weird as I used to be really into racing games.
I got this one booted up and had a few simple races, before starting to tweak it a bit. Like PCSX2, it's possible to turn up the graphics, but it only seems to be able to go a little way before the sound craps out and the game starts to lag. Still, it's better than its default appearance, and it might be something I try to complete at some point in the next few weeks or months.

Default graphics

Default graphics

Slightly better graphics

Slightly better graphics

Over the last couple of years I've picked up a few fighting games from places like Humble and GOG, but I've never gotten around to giving them a go yet. The only time of my life I ever really bothered with fighting games was back in my early-mid teen years, and I didn't really play a whole lot even then. The most popular game of the genre for me was Tekken 2, by a long way, but it's not the only PS1 fighting game I own.

As it is my intention to at least try and get back into the genre, even if just a little bit, I decided on trying Dead Or Alive on the emulator as well. This game never got much traction with me back then, so I thought it deserved another chance. Also, who knew, a bit of a punching-and-jiggling combo may have really got me back in the mood for it.

Like Smackdown on the PS2 emulator, this thing threw out some serious ghosting, but added in a whole lot of interlaced lines into the mix as well. Unfortunately, there's no way of turning off deinterlacing in this emulator like there is in PCSX2, so I couldn't get rid of the effect. There are some de-interlacing shaders that are available, but they only seemed to slightly reduce the lines, and did nothing for the weird motion blur going on.
In addition, this game did not allow me to crank up the graphics even a little bit, as when I tried, it just pasted a thick black band of more obvious lines across the middle of the screen.

Nah, I don't think this game will ever get much more time out of me, but it was worth trying it again, just in case. I guess.

Blurry line punch attack!

Blurry line punch attack!

What the?

What the?

After all the tinkering I've been doing recently, I decided a game needed to be finished. To that end, I ran through a very short game that released about a year ago. This thing, which is called Chuchel, was an absolutely bizarre experience. It's supposed to be a point and click puzzle game, but it didn't really feel like that to me, as there was very little to work out. You just have to click on a few different things on each screen, and the weird little characters would do their thing and let you advance to the next level.

The basic plot is that a strange little creature really wants to eat a cherry, but things keep transpiring to prevent him from getting to it. Very reminiscent of Scrat after the acorn in the Ice Age films.
The art style was very fun, and strange, almost in a Monty Python kind-of way, and it was a refreshing change to go through.

Don't you dare take my cherry!

Don't you dare take my cherry!

Yep, this happened

Yep, this happened

Just give me back my cherry!

Just give me back my cherry!

Evil snow man does not like it when I piss up him

Evil snow man does not like it when I piss up him

Little Chuchel turns to the dark side

Little Chuchel turns to the dark side

Spooky ghost!

Spooky ghost!