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Comment Re:Yes (Score 1) 520

In my experience, the only time it's worth having a discrete sound card is if you have a kick-ass set of headphones (or speaker setup). For the average $100 set of headphones/$400 speaker setup? Totally unecessary.

That's largely true, but I'd disagree with the specific numbers. You can get headphones for under $100 that will easily demonstrate just how crappy a lot of on-board sound is. My cheapo speakers sound just fine (for what they are) hooked up to my various desktops or laptops over the past few years, but Grado SR60s or SR80s (~$70 and ~$100 respectively) plugged into the same systems have let me hear the entire range of hissing and weird electrical interference out there, to the point that it was more annoying to listen to stuff with them than the speakers despite them having (potentially) much better sound quality, at least until I got an external USB audio device to run them through.

It's enough of a pain these days for me to get a quiet enough room for them to be worth using to listen to stuff that I don't bother very often anymore, though. The cheap speakers plugged straight into the on-board sound are good enough most of the time, or my Etymotics now that I have a desktop motherboard and laptop that both have decently non-noisy sound output. I'm just not nearly picky or rich enough to put more effort/money into it at the moment, because good enough is good enough. Heh.

Comment Re:On the subject of games (Score 1) 200

AI War is a great game, and it's definitely a lot more toward the "large-scale strategy" side of things than the "clicky micromanagement" end. I don't know if the demo or tutorials are any better than they used to be, but when I started they barely even gave a sense of how the game worked and mostly just managed to explain what some of the most important buttons/keys did. The learning curve can be kind of brutal, and I find it a lot more fun with other people than in single-player, but I'm very happy I put up with it after my initial ambivalent reaction.

With a group of ~5 of us playing usually one night a week, it's a great time, especially far enough into a campaign when we're plotting ridiculous schemes over Skype, then watching them somehow successfully unfold with several thousand units in an enormous life-or-death battle on three fronts...which happens to be a distraction/sacrifice to slip a few hundred ships through to a particular location, which themselves are just a diversion/escort for a handful of raid ships taking out a single, high-value target. And stuff like that happens almost every week. It's awesome even when it doesn't work and we lose horribly, just because of the sheer scale of things you don't see much of in most other games.

Comment Re:Probably not. Sorry. (Score 1) 215

If Square Enix wanted to fix the game engine, they should just throw the entire thing out and license Unreal or another game engine. Their current engine is hopeless. But it's the whole "not invented here" thing taking over, so we'll never see a capable PC game from them.

Oddly enough, they have already used UE3 for The Last Remnant, and the Windows version of it runs substantially better than the 360 version. It's still got a few issues, but it's a vast improvement over most stuff they've released for Windows over the years. For the past decade or so, it kind of feels like Squeenix has been a lot more willing to do things like that differently in smaller games or ones that aren't in one of their top tier franchises, while the teams making most games with Final Fantasy in the name, for example, are increasingly out of touch with reality.

Comment Re:You're wasting your breath on an xbox fanboy (Score 1) 124

Xbox and PC gamer fans

Ok, seriously, what's the deal with this? Sure, there are plenty of 360 fanboys out there who say nonsensical stuff about the PS3 (and PS3 fanboys saying nonsensical stuff back), but why lump PC gamers in with them? I'm not sure PC gamers generally care one way or another which console does what graphically these days, considering that with the 4-5 years of advancements in hardware since they came out, you can now buy a video card that'll run any half-assedly (un)optimized console port at 1920x1200 at 60fps (instead of usually ~720p at 30fps upscaled on either console) for a whopping $100, along with other stuff neither console can handle. Not necessarily because they're better or worse on some fundamental level, just much newer.

Console A can do foo, but Console B can do bar? Big frickin' deal, says the PC that can do foo, bar and baz (by virtue of not being 4-5 years old). More importantly, which one(s) has/have the games you want to play? Some people want to play stuff that's only on the PS3, some people want games you can only get on the 360, some like PC exclusives, and some of them even enjoy the Wii. It'd be nice if we could all just be ok with that instead of having these retarded arguments over esoteric hardware architecture details, but there's no reasoning with fanboys, I suppose.

I'm not even going to get started on all the other ridiculous replies going on about "x86 fans" in relation to the 360, which is PowerPC-based...

Comment Re:Probably not (Score 1) 431

On most modern recordings, you can low pass everything above 17-18kHz and replace it with high passed white noise; few people could discern any difference ;)

I was just thinking about something like that a few days ago while waiting for the bus. I would be very surprised if you couldn't get away with going at least as low as 16 kHz while still fooling the vast majority of people, especially since most adults can't really hear much above that to begin with. Considering how many people are used to mostly listening to crap like the audio ripped from a low-quality YouTube video by one of those conversion sites that recompresses it as an MP3 that then gets burned to a CD that finally gets re-ripped lossily again, all to be played back on their MP3 player with $2 earbuds that they're listening to over the the background noise of heavy traffic (or even worse, on the subway) and have preexisting hearing damage from cranking the volume up to try to drown that out, I could easily believe that you could probably filter out everything as far down as 12-13 kHz and have a sizable number of people not really notice/care. However, I'm too lazy/not quite interested enough to investigate or to test it on anyone.

A lot of people are perfectly happy with disturbingly low-quality audio. I listen to the music just for the music's sake, not the technical accuracy of the reproduction, and I'll put up with some pretty mediocre recordings/encodings of things if that's all that's out there and the music itself is good (e.g. sample tracks on the site of a small band that doesn't have an album out), but at some point it reaches a level where I have to boggle at how people can listen to some things without it grating on their ears. They always manage to prove me wrong when I think an absolute floor has been reached for what they'll put up with before they start complaining, though.

Comment Re:Perverting the course of justice. (Score 1) 448

Linking to the 1997 version instead of the 1957 one makes me a sad panda. While some of the remakes have been pretty decent (including 12, the Russian one from a couple years ago), the original still holds up really well and, at least to me, stands out as the best.

Comment Re:To compute what? (Score 1) 238

our exports would be dirt cheap relative to the rest of the world so we'd start actually exporting something for a change.

Our exports are actually huge, only slightly behind China, even. I don't remember where the list of them I was looking at recently was, but there are many things we sell to other countries in rather large amounts, and a lot of the top 20-30 categories are actually growing at a pretty decent rate. Unfortunately our imports are significantly huger. So yeah, it would be nice if something helped balance that out more in our favor, but hopefully it ends up being one of the...less catastrophic options. Heh.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 326

Not to be pedantic while you're being funny or anything (Ok, who am I kidding? This is Slashdot, after all, where pedantry is king), but I believe you're thinking of a stroke, not a seizure. One side of the face/body being "droopy" is a fairly common symptom of a stroke, but not of any of the most common types of seizures I can think of off the top of my head (and the top of my head has experienced more of them first-hand than I would've liked).

Comment Re:Spam (Score 1) 325

If anyone got through the first paragraph and was intrigued and has not read The Road to Reality or Godel, Escher, Bach I highly recommend both of them.

I second this. I haven't finished The Road to Reality yet, but so far it's great, and it's definitely worth working through the optional exercises on your own if you're into that sort of thing (although they're completely not necessary if you just want to read it as a book). Some of them are pretty clever and will make you realize/understand some important and non-obvious ideas in the process of figuring out how they work and why he included them. The way he writes is accessible and likable, and even with the subjects I already know a decent amount about, I find myself learning or remembering little details about them or history related to them.

GEB I have read all the way through several years ago, after a friend was distraught that I hadn't already and took me to the nearest book store to force me to get a copy. I'm very happy he did. I spent an entire year going through it, because while I could've read it much faster, there's just so much interesting stuff in it that I read it in small pieces so I could digest and think about everything fully and look up/research dozens of things I wanted to know more about. It doesn't go hugely in depth into a lot of what it covers, but the way it ties so many different things together in an engaging way that can both be understood by someone outside of whatever field(s) he's talking about and then inspire them to learn more about it is something that you don't see very often.

Comment Re:Interesting Idea (Score 1) 103

I'm not sure why this is modded insightful, but I did find it both interesting and informative (but unfortunately can't use my mod points to mark it as such and also post). I'd never heard of it before, but I just gave it a try, and it's a pretty neat idea. I haven't quite figured out how it determines what to change in the next level, but it definitely does proceed differently depending on what I do. Even after only playing a few times, I found some interesting things, like approaching it differently in early levels in a way that "wastes" time and gets fewer points initially ended up making later levels develop in a way that was easier for me to handle, resulting in surviving longer and getting more points overall. It's also nice that unlike a lot of indie shmups, it's not so brutally hard as to be unplayable by anyone who isn't a hardcore follower/player of the genre. Now I have something new to add to my "fun ways to kill 20 minutes" pile. Woo.

Comment Re:Interesting Idea (Score 1) 103

That made something potentially even worse occur to me: the random track generator of F-Zero X combined with the difficulty level of F-Zero GX (the hardest parts of which are possibly responsible for more controller throwing incidents than any other Nintendo game to date and make anything from any Mario Kart game look easy (unpredictable blue shells and lightning bolts and whatnot aside)). Just thinking about it makes me preemptively frustrated without even having to play it.

Comment Re:Coaching advice from your tennis shoes? (Score 1) 109

I was surprised not to see more comments like this, as I've had a similar experience myself. I'm not a runner (exercise-induced asthma can be a pain in the ass; I can walk or hike at a decent speed nearly indefinitely, but once I start jogging/running for a minute or two and pass a certain threshold, my lungs don't want to hear about it anymore), so I don't use Nike+, but I've tracked stuff like that manually with other types of exercise. I don't like it quite as much as having another person to work with, but having a record of my progress and specific goals and milestones to work towards and some way to compete with myself keeps it a lot more interesting and fun than it would be otherwise. The "game" part of it isn't what's most important or the biggest reward (that's what the exercise itself is for, and the health benefits from doing it); it's just another layer on top of the rest that can help add some motivation or variety.

Comment Re:Bungie's Marathon on (Score 1) 272

Sounds about like what I remember about how it worked. Some very odd control setups came out of that. Some games used shift/ctrl/opt/cmd for movement instead of the arrow keys by default so you'd still have enough keys left over to do fancy things like shoot AND use your shield at the same time while moving, like in Maelstrom, if memory serves me right.

Comment Re:Slightly OT: Modern fun, fast FPS like Doom 1 & (Score 1) 266

I second Painkiller. I had a lot more fun with it than Serious Sam, which just didn't agree with me for some reason. The first time I fired up Painkiller, my immediate reaction was pretty much, "Holy crap! I'm playing Doom again!" I hear the sequels are mostly terrible, but the first one was great. There's no run button, because why would you ever want to not run? There's no reload button, because that would get in the way of shooting things. You just bounce around at high speed (bunnyhopping was included intentionally) and mow down hordes of demons with ridiculous weapons and tons of ammo, the way things used to be back in the day.

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