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Mailbag
May 4, 2000

Letters are (occasionally) edited for spelling errors , and may contain profanity.
This section contains normal correspondence as well as letters submitted to the MailBag.
Commentary by Jason "loonyboi" Bergman.

What's up with that 3dfx guy?

Previous Mailbags
August 17, 2000
May 24, 2000
May 4, 2000
April 19, 2000
February 23, 2000
February 16, 2000
February 9, 2000
January 26, 2000
January 19, 2000

January 12, 2000
January 3, 2000
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December 16, 1999
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November 11, 1999
November 3, 1999
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June 30, 1999
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June 1, 1999
May 24, 1999
May 2, 1999
April 25, 1999
April 22, 1999
April 18, 1999
April 14, 1999
April 11, 1999
April 4, 1999
February 1, 1999
January 6, 1999

From: griphis
Subject: 3dfx artwork

The "artists" at 3dfx are interesting. I thought that there was absolutely no way anyone could make anything uglier or dumber than the packaging for the Voodoo3 cards. But it seems they've tweaked their uglifications skills quite a bit more than I thought possible, and poured all their creative "talent" into creating the horribly ugly orange face for the Voodoo4/5 ad which is apparently now permanently plastered on Blue's News. (No more ad rotation?) What exactly is that?

Is he covered in brightly-colored orange flesh-eating fungus? Is this a photo from a scientific study on the long-term effects of consuming mass quantities of Sunny Delight or Tang? Is it the new Dick Tracy villain, OrangeGritFace? Surely someone else out there is wondering about this...

-Griphis-

Well, I hope by now you've realized that we are in fact rotating ads...but I have to agree that the orange guy is a bit of an eyestrain. But for the record, I actually thought some of those Voodoo 3 boxes weren't so bad (the purple one in particular).

Hardware does not equal skill.

From: Peter Urquhart
Subject: Computer hardware stupidity

OK, this is basically expanding on what Sean Malone said in the last mailbag about competition in the hardware industry. I have to say I agree very much with what he said about the way the "community" dictates to the public what they should be buying. It's not right that we are told what we should be buying and that we are fools if we buy an equally viable alternative from a different manufacturer.

It seems to me that all too often people are drawn into the idea that if they have a rocking system, they will be a rocking player. This is not so! I have a Celeron 500, 64mb SDRAM, a Voodoo Banshee and a 56K modem as part of my system and I regularly kick ass on Half Life servers against people with a ping a quarter of mine and doubtless a system far superior to mine to go with that ping. How do I beat them when they have the better system? Easy - I'm a better player. I've played single player for ages, played against bots for ages and now I'm good enough to go against most people and do a majoratively damn fine job. Just because your system is great it doesn't make you a great player. Those precious few extra fps from that new Voodoo 5 card are not going to help you one bit when it comes to dodging well enough to kill someone who has an Egon gun when all you have is a pistol, are they? You have to learn these skills, they don't come with the hardware but all too often people act like they do. If I can beat you with my Banshee I bet I could still beat you in software mode; and if I lose to you I don't think upgrading to a GeForce would help me either. Ability is in the mind of the player, not their hardware.

Also, we are always being told we should upgrade our systems, but why? More fps of course... We are constantly bombarded with benchmarks showing that how much better card X is than card Y because it gets a few more fps, but this is dumb! Let me explain why...

First up, the human eye only actually sees at 24 fps, that's why TV and cinema and such only operate at that rate - there is no point showing any more frames - they wouldn't get seen. So long as your system can churn out more than 24 fps the game action will look as smooth as its ever going to. If it got any smoother, you wouldn't actually see it to notice it.

My second point is in a way a counter to the first but wait and you'll see... I've read in the past that extra fps help in that as the images are being updated at a greater frequency - everything else is being updated at that rate too i.e. your position, your opponents positions, who has what weapon etc. However, the programs within games can by nature only run so fast so there's one bottleneck there - the actual runnable speed of a program. Also, people mostly play multiplayer nowadays, right? Internet gaming is the way forward. So what good is it going to do if your system can say what's going on 60 times a second when the server can only do it 30 times a second? The server is in charge so if you're faster than the server it's not going to help. Got me?

If the gaming community keeps pushing hardware technology forward at this rate, it could be bad for us in the end. Think how many people out of all those using a computer, would actually know what a GeForce was, let alone want to buy one. Gamers in the computer market as a whole make up a small fraction of the whole arena, so if hardware companies are to cater for us they have to pass up a potentially more profitable option. This is why prices are so high on things like video cards and new CPUs. Hardly anyone actually buys them when you look at it as a fraction of the whole market so prices have to go up. If technology is forced forward so fast by the gamers it will leave everyone else behind and prices will be pushed up due to the loss of touch with the more useful buyers, so you're only hurting yourselves in the end!

I don't expect this to change things in the way we are told about new hardware, but I just wanted to get the truth out there, especially on the ridiculous myth of better system = better player. That's my lot for now. CYA all.

I think I've always been the proof of this. Back when I was in college I proved that great bandwidth didn't make you a great player (even though I was on a crappy PC). Now that I'm on a much more humble ISDN connection, I'm proof that a great PC doesn't make a great player, as on my p733 with a GeForce I routinely get my butt kicked. :)

A mod request.

From: shadow
Subject: CTF new ISSUE

PLEASE have someone make a BOOT programg to kick people out if they have -10 score. There are alot of As*holes playing CTF and shooting there own team on purpose. getting-40 scores and mess'n up CTF altogether. I hate to ask for servers to have Friendly fire turn off. I tlooks like that will be the only way to solve this. play the game at night for a while u will see the fools playing on raven servers

Elian Nation.

From: Reed Bergam
Subject: The "E" in e-mail

In an effort to be current with every other form of American media, I propose that a picture of Elian be attached to every e-mail, letter, postcard, and payment stub sent until the crisis is resolved. This, of course, will be in addition to the Elian postage stamps which I am sure will be issued soon.

And Blue, instead of attaching a picture of Elian with every story, as I'm sure you were considering, perhaps your fine "Blue Logo Guy" could sport a spiffy new Elian head.

Thank you very much, WarPig[doh]

Maybe he needs the money?

From: David Chase
Subject: Phantom Menace on DVD

Ok I know this is off-topic but we're all geeks here and I've just got to rant. George Lucas has recently announced that The Phantom Menace is coming out on DVD and everyone is acting surprised. No surprise here. While George Lucas may make some of the best movies of all time, he's had his fingers in the wallets of his fans for a while now. Let me explain:

A few years ago Episodes 4-6 were re-released on VHS and the ad campaign was "own it for the last time on video". Needless to say every self-respecting Star Wars fan rushed out and bought it. Within a year the movies had been re-released in theatres with new footage and eventually an updated Episodes 4-6 were released on video again. (Own it for the last time?) Again, all self-respecting fans had to own the new footage so they went out and bought another copy. Now Episode 1 is out on VHS and since we were promised it's not coming out on DVD we all went out and bought it, even though we probably would have preferred to buy the DVD. Within a month we hear it's coming out on DVD along with Episodes 4-6 so all self-respecting fans will now go out and buy Episode 1 and Episodes 4-6 on DVD. Let's inventory this: we now have purchased Episodes 4-6 on VHS, updated Episodes 4-6 on VHS, Episode 1 on VHS, Episode 1 on DVD, and Episodes 4-6 on DVD.

Personally I don't like this kind of marketing. Everyone would have been happy with updated Episodes 4-6 on VHS or DVD and Episode 1 on DVD. As it stands we're all going to be paying a fortune and Lucas will be laughing all the way to the bank. :\

Actually, if anything, this is the first time Lucas hasn't pulled this kind of a stunt. Look - if LucasFilm listened to the outcries of fans worldwide, the entire series would have been released already. And life would be good.

But then in a few years when they release a real version that has all kinds of extra content, everyone would get all pissy and accuse them of squeezing their fans for extra money.

At least that seems to be the case with the original series, where they have said the holdup is due to the fact that they want to do "something special" when they are released. With Episode 1...well, that's a different story, I suppose.

More X-Boxing.

From: Robert A. Seace
Subject: Re: X-box comments

In response to Allan's letter in the latest mailbag, you said:
> For the record, I don't think even Microsoft is going to be stupid
> enough to release a console system with bugs. That's just suicide.
> Not to mention the fact that while some systems have had problems
> (look at the PS2's Japanese release, or the web browser screwup with
> the US Dreamcast) nobody has made mistakes like Microsoft's OS goofs.
> It's just not done, and I don't think it's going to start now.


But, this assumes that MS is actually CAPABLE of producing a bug-free product... Something that they have yet to ever prove...

And, I find it hard to believe that they will give higher priority to getting some gaming system absolutely perfect (even assuming that it's possible for them to do so) than they do to getting their supposedly "enterprise class" business operating system from crashing every other day for random reasons... (I love how they were so proud of the fact that they got W2K to run for THREE whole days straight, without crashing... Wow! Amazing! And, here I am typing this from an old Linux box that's currently been up for over 141 days... ;-))

Basically, I'm saying, if it's really possible for them to create this new vaporware gaming system of theirs without any major bugs, as you seem to believe, then why on Earth would they not do the same thing for ALL of their products, and ESPECIALLY their high-end business OS's (NT and W2K), which I think depend on reliability just a BIT more than a gaming system does?? ;-)

You may be right, but Microsoft better learn to ship a bug-free product before the X-Box is released. Otherwise they may as well throw those billions of dollars they're planning on spending to promote it out the window.

SimShut-in.

From: Troy ><> Fisher
Subject: SIMS rant

WTF is this "The SIMS" crap???


I played for a few hours over the course of the past couple of days, and I think anyone who actually likes this game is NUTS!

If you haven't played it, I can describe it easily:

Take everything you hate about life, and make it a video game.

You find a job.

You get up in the morning, eat, shower, crap, maybe catch some TV if the time isn't all whacked out (it takes like 45 min to take a leak in this game).

You go to work all day.

By the time you get home from work, you're exhausted. You grab some dinner, maybe read or watch TV for a bit, even talk to a friend if you're lucky. Of course, you always end up staying up a little too late, so you're tired in
the morning.
As a result you have LESS energy the next day so you can accomplish even less. Balancing housework, socializing, job, and sleep takes more than the 24 hours in a day.

It's just like living.

Except no weekends.

How is this fun?????

Don't look at me, I haven't really played it enough to understand it myself. But jeez...my girlfriend loves the thing. And so do a lot of people, judging by the remarkable sales (1,000,000 and climbing).

Mmm...beer.

From: crt4
Subject: Mailbag Stuff

I'm going to comment on a few letters I saw in the most recent edition of the mailbag...

Allan - X-box call me unimpressed

He stated that the 1 Ghz processors have just hit the shelf... Hah.. You'll be hard pressed find a 1 Ghz processor on a shelf (testers can't even get their hands on one, much less a consumer)... Also, I believe they'll be running a totally different version of windows.. Not 2000, even though it would support most recent games just fine.. So it doesn't have 16-bit compatibility? Who cares? We can't run the original Quake.. We'll have to run Quake3, darn...

Jon Frisby - Microsoft = Monopoly

Microsoft did this so they could build houses & hotels.. I thought that was the whole point in getting a monopoly?

Jason Ely - QuakeWorld Rant

Right On!! I truly love & miss quakeworld... I get a deep feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of the days past... I read the IRC logs from gamesnet.net and get so sad because the community has such a togetherness then... It was truly fun.. I really wish there was a way to revive it... To return to 1997 when the community was so together... It's sad, but its gone... Today, it just seems so much more industrialized... Back then, people played cuz they loved the game.. People wrote mods and made levels cuz they loved the game... They kept news pages updated cuz they loved it... Now, I guess our little baby (the online multiplayer FPS) has grown up... It makes me sad, but proud to say that I've been here watching it mature... And I had a helluva time doing it....

Every Monday is Guinness & Black & Tan nite at Mikroff's... Guinnesses or
black & tans all nite for $2.00! :D

That's all for my rants

-crt4

I am so jealous of that deal. Of course if anyone tried that here in NYC they would go out of business overnight. :)

The question of the moment.

From: Dave
Subject: Voodoo-5500 vs Geforce

What do you think ?? the big draw back of the new Voodoo-5500 is that it requires a super computer to run it at full settings. Where as the Ge-Force DDR is a "GPU" it can run games really fast on a slower cpu. Do you know if the NV-15 will have FSAA like the new Voodoo ??

Thanks...Dave

Look for benchmarks here Real Soon Now (with a minor delay due to Blue's hard drive crash).

The neverending argument.

From: Psycho
Subject: What were you thinking?

SNES kicked Segas ass. The colors and variety of quality games simply blew Sega away. I can't believe I said the "S" word this many times........oh man Sega sucks. One word-Legend of Zelda. End of Story

Psycho

I like the SNES a whole bunch (I'm currently playing Chrono Trigger, actually) but remember two things: that the system was very late - the Genesis had a good year and a half lead time, and that I was a Sega Master System owner. So yeah, the SNES may have arguably had some of the best games ever made (particularly in the RPG department) but the Genesis had some great games, such as Sonic, and the only sports games I've ever enjoyed (although I haven't played any since then either).

Infectious enthusiasm.

From: Matt F
Subject: Dieketana

Hello I am Matt F. and I just resently playd Diekatana and I say that I am teh only one who likse it!!!!!!!! IS this some kind of joek?????????? ITS A Great gaem wonce you get to it!!

Matt F

Bring back the axe?

From: Tanner Bonig
Subject: Central Review Section, V5, and John Romero.

You guys need to add a central review section. It's great to wake up in the morning and look at the reviews for the day, but what if I want to purchase a game that's been out for a while!? Some sort of central review section would kick ass!

BTW... Voodoo 5: Hey, great idea with this super cool fasto chip. Could you make it require a POWER SUPPLY. WHAT THE HELL IS WITH THIS?! I houldn't have to plug my video card into it's own damn POWER OUTLET! It's not bad enough that I have every power outlet in my strip already taken up from monitors, printers, my box, speakers, scanners, and even my force-feedback joystick! I don't want a video card that needs it's own UPS incase the power goes out!

Now, to John Romero.. how long have you been in the gaming industry?! You spend almost 4 years to produce a game that NOBODY LIKES! Ok, maybe NOBODY is a little extreme, however, almost every review, preview, and opinion I have read or heard from those who downloaded the demo (I only have played the mPlayer demo release a while ago) said that your game SUCKS! Sure, it's blunt, maybe not even everyone's opinion, but the scary thing is that it is pretty close! Your gone man, sorry, but unless your next creation is one hell of a game (can you beat the anticipated greatness of Warcraft 3??) then your gone! But then again, Daikatana was supposed to be something great...hmmm....

Of course, this is just my humble opinion and does not reflect the entire gaming community. It just that of someone who can remember the Commander Keen Easter Egg in Wolf3D, the utter shock at the idea of using the mouse for a FPS when I first heard it, and remembers the joy of beating Space Quest 1!

And to Carmack: BRING BACK THE AX! Please!

Tanner

Cover your ears!

From: Malone, Sean
Subject: I'm going to Scream!

Let's face it guys, what were talking about is the extraction of pixels through the duel interface 150mhz pipeline with a differential unbiased copper bus. While the implementation of complete modular pixel by pixel is the RIGHT THING, I believe that going forward we will need at least 1gig throughput from graphic processors while at the same time bypassing the binary complications of relative accumulator buffers. The next time someone says to me, "accumulator buffering from the main bus produces a much faster algorithm than acsentuator buffering", I'm going to scream!!!

FYI...The only 3d card that can handle acsentuator buffering is from Trident.

All I know is it ain't Voltron.

From: Jon Clausen
Subject: The Killer Japanese Seizure Robots

does anyone know what cartoon series the robot on the Killer Japanese Seizure Robots page is from? i remember seeing before on a video i rented when i was like 12... if anyone knows, that would be great.

jon

Ant-ISP laws?

From: Lap.
Subject: Should There Be a Law

Should not there be a law to govern ISP's on the amount of subscribers they have? Just about every body with dial-up service has gotten the dreded busy signal from their ISP or when they try to get on at peak hours their bandwith drops to nil. Should there be a law saying that a ISP cannot sign on more coustomers than it has the banwith to provide to them at least to 28.8.

Think about it really. You pay anywhere from 14-20 dollers a month for unlimited internet access if you cant get on that one day you still get charged for that day even though you are unable to use the service. Even with Bellsouth ADSL there are sometimes the access is cut off. For an example call 1-888-321-ADSL and access tech support, at any given time they report outages in an average of 3 citys. With the internet becoming more of an everyday necessity than a novelty I think ISP's should be governed the same as utilities.

Thanks Blue
Lap.

Your mailman looks like what?

From: York, Devin
Subject: Civility in Quake 3

Maybe it's the proliferation of residential high-speed access, or maybe it's
just a cultural trend, or maybe Quake Servers, in some ethereal sense, reflect a warped reality; but, it seems that the degredation of gameplay from Doom to Quake 3 has turned from trying to improve your skills and enjoyment of the gaming experience to childish name-calling.

Let's take the first case: high-speed residential internet access, which in and of itself is probably a good thing, but yet there is a dark side too.

There was a time when you could call the phone company and even they didn't know what ISDN was or much less the internet (they may not still). My point is, it took work to get on the internet, as well as time and money and research, and when it all worked you were amazed. If you happened to find a game server, you would find comradery and you were welcomed. Now, it seems everyone has a Social Security Number (in America at least) and an IP Address.

As for it being a cultural trend, I'll let the sociologist debate this one.

As for Quake reflecting reality: my mailman does look like the Reaper Bot.

One final point, it is possible to play your best and lose straightup. There isn't a "lag" conspiracy against you. Let's stop making Quake 3 games look like IRC and if you get booted, do us all a favor and stay booted. On the other hand, I would love to see an enhancement where if you initiate vote to kick someone and it fails, you get booted. Remember, if you get beat "gg" is all you need to say...

gg BluesNews great site. But why so long between MailBag updates?

I would be concerned if that were my mailman...

As for the gap between mailibags...there are a bunch of excuses I could put here, like that I was out of town, or that the Abrash thing took a lot of time...but why bother. Thanks for the kind words though. :)

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