The everyday ramblings of one nerd.


Blatant Misuse of Technology

Mega Man 9 is a fantastic retro trip, and it will totally kick your ass. Not actually a NES game, but a custom engine designed to be as close as possible (though presumable not being as difficult to develop for). This was the first game to be played on my new PS3. Although I'm not entirely sure what was the greater abuse, the fact that I used the PS3 for this, or the fact that MM9 apparently outputs its sound in 5.1 surround. Hearing NES-style chiptunes in surround sound is a little eerie, to say the least.

As for the game itself, awesome, but very, very HARD.

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Back in my day…

Flashback to 1995, take a look at the PCs of the era; modern cutting-edge beasts, with their 2mb non-3d accelerated graphics cards (who needs it? we've got fast RAMDAC!), Sound Blaster, and the Pentium was one scary, blazingly fast little beast. My first windows PC was an Acer Aspire, a little desktop with a Pentium 75mhz, 24 meg RAM, and a whopping 1GB hard drive. Guess what you also saw attached to many PCs in those days? Joysticks! Not the monstrous multi-limbed monstrosities that you'll see at the PC stores these days, simpler things, any serious gamer had one, and perhaps something like the mighty Gravis Gamepad to go with it.

Gravis Gamepad

The Gravis Controls were built like tanks, and worked with almost everything, because they used the standard Joystick port, this limited them to a max of 4 buttons, and if you played two player, only 2 buttons each. It was enough to get by. Jazz Jackrabbit and the like didn't need much as far as control went, and you'd be crazy to use the keyboard for these kind of twitch games. Gravis JoystickThe joystick was for games like X-Wing or TIE Fighter, arcade style flight games or anything that needed a precision analog control. Save the monster "flight yokes" for the full-on flight sims. These simple sticks were enough.

Sidewinder Gamepad

Say what you want about Microsoft, but their Peripherals are top-notch. The classic game Descent eventually led me to switch to an actual flight Sim joystick in the form of the Sidewinder 3D Pro, and the gamepad is the original Sidewinder, which I bought for SNES and Genesis emulation primarily. It still used the gameport, but got around the button limitation using software trickery, and allowed daisy-chaining of multiple controllers. The Old-style Joysticks are still around, but the games that use them are no longer being made, dropping them in favor of the flight-sim style stick.Sidewinder 3D Pro

Where am I going with all of this? None of these sticks and pads are being made any more, and furthermore, many of the games that would use these sort of controls simply use a keyboard/mouse combination. The last monkey wrench is that PCs with a gameport are becoming fewer and fewer, and Microsoft is dropping support in Vista for their own controllers, what ever is the determined retrogamer to do?

Xbox 360 Gamepad

Microsoft Taketh away, Microsoft Giveth back. Not many people know that Xbox 360 controllers are fully windows compatible. Mad Catz has produced an "arcade" controller which I picked up for a measly $10 at a Best Buy, good deal. With these two controllers you have a reasonable analogue for almost any control scheme for any game you might feel like playing. The arcade stick is really something, I was initially a bit disappointed, the "spinner" as it claims is not a real spinner so not very useful, but it still gives a very enjoyable experience for many MAME games.

Xbox 360 Arcade Stick by Mad CatzLooking back at what I've written so far, I can summarize two things for you, 1) I'm an old nerd, and 2) some games are better with a gamepad or joystick, give it a try.



My Robot Death Machine.

Mark my words, unbelievers, I am going to build a terrific machine, capable of horrific destruction, which will lay waste to all opponents that come before it! MWA Haha hahaaaa....

Ahem, sorry about that. That was needlessly maniacal. But I am going to build a robot.

Full sail is either putting on or participating in a Robocode tournament. Robocode is a java framework that allows you to set up arenas where computer-controlled tanks fight to the death. The competitive part is you have to write the AI that your tank uses to fight with. I at least am going to compete in this, as to whether it will be a solo or a team project, I'm not sure. This is also an excellent point for any links you might want so share about AI you may have. This wiki has some interesting info (programmer talk heavy) about some of the challenges that these robots (or their programmers) have to overcome.

It should be fun.

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The coolest thing you’ve never done on your DS.


Like my drawing? Artistic critiques aside (be gentle!) there is one thing about this drawing that makes it special: I drew it entirely on my Nintendo DS. Colors is a homebrew drawing application that takes advantage of the DS touchscreen to provide a surprisingly satisfying portable sketchpad. You do need some sort of homebrew-friendly device, namely some sort of flash card, like the M3 Simply, which I use, or I believe the Datel Games n' Music will work as well (don't quote me on that). Another interesting thing is that the software will record the drawing as it is made, allowing for a movie playback. Check out the Colors Gallery and see some of the amazing art that has been done by others.

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